If you are like most whitetail enthusiasts, you have started thinking about food plots. It happens every year; the spring thaw comes (at least in the North) and food plotters start thinking about what to plant for their whitetails.

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed an increase in the use of “fall attractant” annual food plot products. It seems like every seed manufacturer has come up with a new whiz-bang seed mix to attract whitetails. The trouble is, some of them are just that–attractants–but they are annual plants that are designed only for one growing cycle. You plant them in mid-late summer or early fall, they grow a couple of months, peak when everything else deer eat peaks and are done. At best, they feed deer for a few months. If you are serious about helping deer, you need to round out your fall annual plantings with some perennials.

Perennials green up early with the spring thaw and feed deer when they need it most. A good old-fashioned clover-chicory blend will produce highly nutritious forage for whitetails just when they need it most–after a tough winter, when fawns are dropping, the does are lactating, and the bucks are growing antlers. A good perennial plot will produce from spring green-up through the summer and fall, often well into the winter. The best part is a well-maintained plot will last 3-5 years or more.

Now before you go off half-cocked and start burning up your keyboard, please understand, I’ve got nothing against planting fall attractants. I plant them myself and hunt them hard. But come spring, I’m out there making sure I have plenty of both, annuals and perennials (40% annual, 60%perennial).

Food plots should be planted first and foremost for the deer and should do more than attract deer to a hunting location. They should be an important part of your deer nutrition program. Plots planted in perennials will attract deer to your property, keep them well fed, and keep them there.

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Craig Dougherty
Craig Dougherty has been a staple of the hunting industry for over 35 years. He has held senior executive and board level positions with multiple archery and firearms companies, and industry organizations. He was Chairman of the Board of the Quality Deer Management Association and was instrumental in the formation of the National Deer Alliance. He has and his son Neil have published books on deer management and hunting, and have written hundreds of articles and appeared on hunting TV and at countless sportsman’s events. The pair founded NorthCountry Whitetails a deer hunting and property management company, where they manage over 300,000 acres of deer hunting property for clients across the nation. visit: www.NorthCountryWhitetails.com