Question: I hunt on a property that falls in both Bowie County and Cass County in extreme northeast Texas. Interested in a fall and winter food plot for whitetail. Currently, we have three deer feeders and the whitetail are not hitting them. We suspect part of the problem is due to the abundance of acorns. We corn is not the best, so we are planning on providing some better grub. In the next week or so we plan on establishing three food plots, but we are unsure what we want to put into the ground. We want something high quality that ranks way up there on palatability, something that can at least compete with acorns. Also need something that will grow well in the northeastern part of Texas.
The great thing about being in this part of the state is that we get a lot of rain up here. It also makes the trees grow tall, so there will not be a large amount of sunlight due to the shade of the forest canopy, so it must be a food plot that can handle shade. The plots will be small, so what can work? Thanks.”
Deer Food Plots: With the amount of rain you receive, food plots for whitetail will definitely grow, but only if they are big enough that the deer don’t keep them mowed down. How big are the plots that you will be planting? If the plots are really small then you are probably not going to have much luck with small plots and lots of shade. We have planted food plots in similar situations. They can grow, but the deer will not pour in like on the television shows. It only takes a deer or two to keep a small plot to keep it the plants shorter than the grass on a putting green. It may still be worthwhile, especially if the one deer using it is a really nice buck, but understand that a small food plot in a shaded forest is not going to produce a lot of forage or draw a lot of deer.
The good thing about a small food plot is seed costs. A plot of this size is going to be very inexpensive to plant, so you can experiment a little and take a chance. My recommendation would be to try Durana clover to see if there is enough sunlight for it to grow. If it is shade galore then it will be tough. If the deer population is low enough and some sun gets to the ground then you will have a shot. Deer absolutely love clover food plots, so if it grows you will have deer using these tasty legumes. The number of animals depends on how much it actually does grow.
Durana clover is a perennial, so it will cost more to plant than annual seeds. Perennials like clovers will cost you more to plant upfront, but if they do survive then you will see the savings each and every year that you do not have to plant. If you choose perennial, make sure you plant in the fall, otherwise you be fighting the weeds and grasses that compete with your clover in the spring. Of course, you can always go with annuals. You will have to plant each year but the cost will be less. For food plots in East Texas, it’s hard to beat a wheat and crimson clover seed mix. Deer love them both and they grow well, unless you get a good freeze and then the oats are out. A more hardy option would be a wheat and Apache Arrowleaf clover. Happy hunting!