Any serious whitetail hunter will tell you that chasing trophy whitetail is a year-round job. From mineral sites to keeping tree stands prepped, there is a lot to do in the off-season. One of the most important things you can do is provide your local herd with a quality food source year-round. There are several different food sources on the market, from clover to brassicas or turnips to blends of different grains. Many companies offer several different products. With that said, let’s cover 5 key food plot tips to keep in mind when thinking about or planting a food plot. 

1. Match the food to your land.

By this, I mean that some food plots will grow better in different soil types than others. It’s important to know the soil type you are working with before trying to come up with a plant for your plot. The reason is that some plots need moist soil while others prefer dry. The same goes with PH and sunlight. Sure, you can adjust the pH of your soil, but there are other things that are out of your control, such as moisture content and the amount of sunlight around your plot. So, when planning a plot, take all this into consideration before looking at what you’re going to plant. Trust me when I say the deer will be happy regardless of what you plant, especially in the late season. 

Match the food to your land.

2. Don’t cut corners.

This sounds easy enough, but you wouldn’t believe how many people skip one step or another when planting a food plot. I will be the first to admit I’m guilty of trying to cut corners, but after a few failed attempts at a food plot, it has taught me better. The first time I tried to plant a clover plot, I did everything perfectly: sprayed my plot to kill everything off, broadcast the seed at the rate recommended by the company, worked it in as the bag instructed, and even timed it to see lots of chances of rain in the upcoming forecast. To say I was excited was an understatement. I even hung a trail camera over the plot just to see how it was growing.

 As the weeks passed, my clover plot looked weak at best. It looked nothing like the pictures on the bag or what you see on hunting shows. At first, I thought I was ripped off, but after a little research, I learned I forgot one important step: to adjust my soil PH. The following year, I spread lime, and that solved my whole problem. The moral of the story doesn’t cut corners and expect perfect results. 

3. Always read the label.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but believe it or not, there are several people who fail to do this simple task. The label will tell you lots of valuable information that you need to know when planting said plot. One of the most important things I look for in a label is quality seed. Some companies will market their food plots as some sort of blend or mix of, say, clover and some sort of cereal grain. Without reading the label, you may fail to see that it is only 40 percent clover and cereal grain, and the rest is a fast-growing filler seed with no real benefits to the health of your local whitetail. Also, when reading the label, pay close attention to planting dates and soil prep. Those 2 little things can make or break a food plot’s success. 

4. Plant a screen.

Plant a screen for your food plots

When planting food plots for whitetail deer, there are 2 main goals. Provide nutritional value to your local herd and have a great place to hunt over in the fall. To accomplish the latter of the 2 goals, your deer herd must be comfortable feeding in your plot during shooting hours. There are a few different ways to keep your deer comfortable in the plot. One of the easiest is to plant some sort of screen around your plot. There are several different varieties of screens; with a quick Google search, I’m sure you can find some. But why plant the screen, you might ask? It serves 2 main purposes. The first is that it allows you to access your stand or blind without bumping deer on your entry and exit. This is a big deal, especially in the late season when every little move you make can clear a field full of whitetail in a hurry. The second goes hand in hand with the first, but this time, it works in the deer’s favor. It allows the deer to feel secure when feeding. With a wall planted around most of the perimeter it gives the deer a sense of security. It makes them feel as if they can’t be ambushed; therefore, they let their guard down a little bit while feeding. 

5. Minimize human pressure.

This is another one of those no-brainers. What seems like common sense, especially to a deer hunter, but some people still struggle with over-pressuring hunting spots. Nothing makes deer change their travel patterns faster than human pressure. With that said, stay out of your food plots till it’s time to hunt, and even at that, pick the best days possible. Suppose keeping an eye on your plot is something you want to do; invest in a few good cell cameras. They will not only allow you to know what deer are frequenting the area but also let you keep an eye on your food plot progression status. 


Ryan Fair

Ryan Fair

My name is Ryan Fair I live in northwest ohio. I am married with 2 daughters who are my life. I am most passionate about chasing whitetails. If I’m not doing something whitetail related you can usually find me turkey hunting or on a boat somewhere with a rod in my hand. My main focus on writing is hunting whitetail and turkey. I also enjoy writing about gear reviews and fishing articles. In 2013 I helped start whitetail junkys with my good friend Dusty Kroft. We promote all things outdoors. You can find me at, on Facebook at whitetail junkys, or on my writing page droptine hollow outdoors.


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January 08, 2024 — Ryan Fair
Tags: Hunting Tips

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