THE CASUAL APPROACH TO FOOD PLOTS

 

A mixed plot of oats and winter rye grass only requires a clearing in the woods to attract deer.

Many deer hunting or management articles promote “food plots” to attract deer and provide supplemental nutrition to help them through the winter. These stories normally deal with plots of several to many acres in size that are prepared and seed with a tractor and implements such as plows, discs, maybe seeders. Not all of us have the amount of land or equipment required for such projects, or maybe the landowner of the lease does not want such “improvements” made to his property? Well, there is an easier way.

Another problem with these articles is they are usually written about areas other than Texas. Many of the food plants mentioned are not suitable for the Texas climate and growing season.

 

An easy way to get a food plot going that will attract and nurture deer in the Texas Coastal Plain area is to clear out the larger native vegetation of an area and broadcast oats and rye grass seed. I don’t bother with trying to kill off everything that is already there with Round Up, and even though I have a tractor and disc, I don’t break the ground. What I will do is mow the area closely with a “brush hog” type mower, then simply broadcast the seed on top of the ground. Birds will get some of the oats, as will deer if they are already feeding in the spot. Coons have a hard time picking up oats, and hogs may try to root in the area, but they generally can’t get the oats – and never the grass seed – so many times they are just covering the seeds.

 

Hogs will sometimes root up to the very edge of a rye grass plot, but will generally leave the grass itself alone.

In my experience, coastal deer are not real fond of growing oats, although they will eat them. Winter Rye grass, however, is something they really go for. As long as there is some rain after the seeds are on the ground, or even several days of heavy dew, Rye grass will usually grow all winter, and the plots do not have to be of several acres to attract deer. My latest rye came up less than two weeks ago on a small area in the back of my property, and I am already seeing deer eating it. Last year I had to haul water to keep deer coming in, and a food plot was out of the question. This year I am hoping nature will keep the water trough filled and the grass growing.

 

Recent rains have helped this year’s Rye grass to sprout.

Within days after the rye grass began to come up, this young doe was seen heading towards it, and later feeding on it.

Bucks are attracted more to the does that come to a food plot than to the grass itself, and the more does you can attract and hold, the more bucks will come a-calling.

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About MikeH

Texas hunter and fisherman for 50 years, published outdoor writer since 1979, licensed charter boat operator from 1982 to 2013. Past Member, Board of Directors, National Association of Charterboat Operators, current member Environmental Advisory Committee to the DOE and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Married to Dorothy since 2000, one son, Michael who is recently married and living in Nederland, Texas. My wife and I live in Oyster Creek, Texas, near Freeport, and have a hunting property outside of Brazoria, Texas.
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