When Food Plots Fail
Drought conditions in Alabama left many hunters unable to plant fall food plots. Those that did plant likely have very poor food plots due to the lack of rain. While food plots provide great hunting areas, and food in times of nutritional stress, they are only one very small piece of the puzzle when it comes managing for white-tailed deer and other wildlife. Those that have been managing for natural food sources likely have healthier deer herds and increased deer sightings.
Of course, one of the most important sources of food for deer in the fall is acorns. Acorn production can actually be increased by “releasing” oak trees by removing nearby trees. This practice will allow the canopy of the released tree to expand, leaving a bigger canopy and more space for acorns to grow.
Thinning forests to release oak trees has additional benefits to wildlife such as deer. When trees are removed from a forest, sunlight is allowed to reach forest floor and soft plants will grow. Plants such as strawberry bush, grape, and greenbriar are nutritious, and highly preferred by deer. Not only will deer browse on these all year, they also create cover for fawning.
Natural deer foods can also be created by managing fallow fields and pine plantations. Remember, food plots are just a tiny piece of the puzzle when managing for deer and other wildlife. Successful land managers and deer hunters provide a variety of foods.
–Spenser Bradley, Forestry, Wildlife, and Natural Resource Management Regional Agent
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