The annual rainfall levels across much of the whitetail range are significantly down this year. Many deer hunters will see this as the cause of a poor deer season to come. However, this could actually provide more opportunity for the hunter that is willing to invest the hard work into providing deer attracting food plots this fall.
Low rainfall will lead to many factors that decrease forage for the whitetail population. The acorn crop will be much thinner, persimmons will be hard to find in early season, agricultural crops will be harvested earlier, and the overall natural forage that deer rely on in the colder months will be depleted earlier.
This all sounds depressing, but look on the bright side. If everything in the whitetail's diet that is naturally occurring is negatively affected by this year's drought, then man made food plots will have exponential importance this season.
The month of September in the South is the perfect time to grow the groceries for your deer herd. Soil moisture is increasing, while relentless temperatures are subsiding. Clover, Chickory, and other legumes will thrive from now until mid November. Brassicas such as Turnip and Rape take advantage of the growing season and produce ultimate mass production in the fall, while growing roots that become insanely attractive to deer in the winter. Even the simple annuals such as rye and oats are ready to sprout this time of year.
If you have the perfect spot in the central area of a property where you can attract deer away from the property lines while providing excellent nutrition, then the Imperial Whitetail Clover mix by Whitetail Institute is an excellent choice for planting. This clover mix will provide booming clover stands up to knee high, and with the proper maintenance will grow strong up to five years.
If a simple annual plot with maximum attraction is what appeals to you, then Biologic's Winter Bulbs and Sugar Beats will provide early season attraction with sugar beats and extreme late season attraction with brassica "bulbs".
When a vast variety of food options is desired, then Evolved Habitat's 7 Card Stud will give the deer herd everything from clover and chickory to oats, peas, and turnips. If a buck is hungry and walks through this plot, he will have a hard time not finding something to stop and feed on.
So take advantage of this year"s drought and give your deer herd something to eat. Food plots for the 2012 deer season will be much more effective for deer sightings and will help your young bucks, does, and fawns make it through the cold winter with enough nutrition. I know when October arrives I will be sitting over one of my favorite food plots with bow in hand knowing that my hard work over the summer has paid off.
-Jimmy Washam, Bass Pro Memphis