Establishing Food, Cover & Water

By GrowingDeer,

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Dear Dr. Woods,

My folks have a 30 acre farm which is roughly 75% pasture and 25% woods.  I’ve convinced my dad of the need to plant food plots, add more springs for water sources, possibly add some fruit and nut trees, and add some pines for shelter.

I realize that without seeing the property and the topography it is hard to make suggestions and recommendations, but could you tell me what types of plots and seed mixtures to start with in the spring and carry on through winter with?  I want to establish perennial plots for antler growth and the overall health of the deer.

Is there a need for transition zones for cover for the deer to feel safe if the plots are planted along the edges of the fields where they meet the woods?  What is the best way to establish shelter for the deer?  Also, is it better to have a larger pond or more small to medium size springs as far as water sources?

I would greatly appreciate any advice you can give me.

Amen to spending time with our Creator.



Most pasture areas, just as you mentioned, are lacking food and cover in a big way.  Cover can be created in several ways.  The easiest method is to simply allow an area of a property to grow up and periodically be set back with fire, mowing, or some other disturbance.  However this method only creates quality cover if good cover species are already present, such as native warm season grasses.  If the pasture is primarily cool season grass species, like fescue or smooth brome, it will probably be necessary to kill those species and plant grasses like switchgrass and big bluestem.

For food plots to attract deer well fertilized/limed winter wheat is hard to beat.  Clover mixes are good during most times of the year but can leave you hanging when you want to hunt.  If a few acres are available I suggest you try Eagle Seed’s forage soybeans.  Even if it is heavily browsed, as long as a few leaves are present, it is providing nutrients and would be very easy to transition into a cool season green plot if needed during late summer.

One or two perennial water sources should be efficient for the property.  Enjoy improving the habitat!  I find that as much fun as hunting!!

Growing Deer together,