How can my family attract deer to our 60 acres in southeast Missouri?

By Grant Woods,

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← Grant's AnswersDeer Management
Hello Dr. Woods, my family owns 60 acres that borders Mingo Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Missouri, we have been hunting the property for years now and the hunting has always been very poor, there are times that we go season to season without seeing a single deer, no rubs, scrapes, ect… Many have told us that this is due to the safety factor of the deer and that they just stay on the refuge because they know it is safe. We are wondering if attempting to provide cover would be an effective tool to try to being the deer over the refuge border. Additionally, the property is only a few hours from the proving grounds, and was wondering if it would be cost effective to have your team come and evaluate or property to see what our best options and strategies would be. Also, if we tried food plots, I would love to try the Eagle seed forage blend soybean, however, we do not own a no till drill, is there another method that would be effective in planting it. Pleas help, we have a new generation in our family that we are going to take hunting with us and the way it is now for our family, with no deer around, more then likely, this family tradition of ours will be lost. P.S. love the videos! Keep em’ coming! Thank you and God Bless.


Thank you for the kind words and for watching GrowingDeer! I have several clients in southeast Missouri and a college I attended (Missouri State) took many field trips to Mingo Refuge.

I agree 100% with your assessment that new hunters need to see deer sign and deer to remain excited about hunting. I’m thrilled you are concerned about your family continuing the hunting tradition!

I always begin new projects by evaluating the food, cover, and water resources on the property that I’m trying to improve and on the neighboring properties.

Unless you border a unique part of the Mingo refuse, there’s probably plenty of water and cover on the refuge. Certainly deer on the refuge won’t be disturbed frequently when on the refuge. Unless there’s better quality food on your property compared to the refuge, there’s not much reason deer would leave the security of the refuge to spend time on your property. It’s likely that the development of quality food resources in areas where your family can approach, hunt, and leave without alerting deer would significantly increase the amount of time deer spend on your property and the quality of the hunts for you and your family. To create this huntable habitat requires some evaluation and planning.

Many folks establish and maintain soybean plots without the aid of a no-till drill. The appropriate steps are to do a soil test and add the appropriate amount of lime and fertilizer. Malnourished plants won’t be healthy and unhealthy plants don’t taste as well (attract deer and other critters) as well as healthy plants. In addition a good seedbed is prepared and the seed is broadcast just before or during a rain. The rain helps cover the seed and ensure there’s adequate soil moisture for rapid germination. Some folks use a drag of some typ  (a section of chain link fence, etc.) with hopes of covering the seed.

Cover the seed is important for two reasons. First, it significantly reduces the amount of seed that will be removed by birds and rodents. Most folks are amazed at how many seeds birds and rodents will remove within a few days. Second, soybeans have a much higher germination rate when covered with a 1/2″ or so of soil.

Many counties rent no-till drills (through a NRCS office) for extremely reasonable rates). Another neat option is that Paul Hollis (south of St. Louis) has crews and lots of equipment and contracts establishing and maintaining food plots for landowners and government agencies. You may reach Paul at 636 326 1009.

Adam, Daniel, Matt or I would be happy to assist you in developing a habitat management and hunting strategy plan. Send me a note if you wish for us to quote you a price for this project.

Enjoy creation,