Don’t Clean the Table

By Grant Woods,

  Filed under: ,

← Grant's AnswersAsk Grant

Dr. Grant,

I’m reading North American Hunting Club’s “Whitetail Wisdom” and I’m wondering about a term you use in “A Hunger for Deer Food.”  You use the term drilling or top-drilling in reference to planting a warm-season crop and then drilling a cool-season variety into it to create a two-season food plot.  What specifically is this technique and how is it accomplished?

Thank you for your time.



Drilling cool-season forage into a warm-season crop is one of my tactics in “not cleaning the deer herd’s table.”  Traditional agricultural practices often dictate completely removing one crop, tilling the soil, and then planting, etc.  By drilling directly into a standing warm-season forage, food is available in the plot until the cool-season forage can begin feeding the herd.  With high quality food in the plot at all times, the deer herd is less likely to wander onto neighboring properties in search of it.  Not only can a gap in food availability help a neighbor to fill his buck tag but it also puts stress on the herd during a time of year when building energy reserves for the rut and winter is critical.

I utilize this method the most in plots planted with Eagle Seed Roundup Ready soybeans.  Remember that soybean grain is a great cool-season forage so leave areas of the food plot that look like they are going to provide a good bean grain crop.  In areas of a plot that are heavily consumed, either drilling or even simply broadcasting a cool-season forage such as wheat/brassicas works well.  Plots where the soybeans have been heavily browsed can become weedy.  If this occurs, I eliminate the weeds before planting a new crop in this plot.

Lastly, I always wish to plant at least 45-60 days before the first average frost date to maximize the production of cool-season forage before winter.

Growing Deer together,