Even more important than what's growing in your food plot, is if your food plot is considered a daylight food source or nocturnal food source. Your food plot should be considered as much a part of your core sanctuary, as your most remotely protected big buck bedding area. Is it? Because if it is, the power that you have to attract, hold and create an incredible herd and hunt, is many times greater than if it isn't. It's time to take back control of the whitetail potential on your land, it all begins by making sure that your food plots are considered sacred grounds, when it comes to spooking deer.
*On just one mock scrape in a very hidden portion of our food plot sanctuary, we captured over 30 different bucks in Oct and Nov. Better yet, all but 2 were during the hours of daylight!
Food Plot Sanctuary Check-up
While it is hard argue with the concept that a food plot should be just as sacred as you inner most bedding area, how do you actually find out if it is? My favorite tactic is to hang ONE mock Vine Scrape within your food plot system, and check out the results. During late October and most of November, if you capture fewer than 1 daylight mature buck picture for ever nocturnal buck picture (within a 1/2 hour dark), then your food plot is most likely not sacred enough. Of course the bulk of the local doe herd should be feeding by an hour prior to dark, but your ability to control daylight buck movement creates a quality herd and hunt - not your ability to control a daylight doe herd. Just about anyone can create excessive daylight doe movements, but your success should be measured in your ability to influence and hunt the local buck herd, and not the local doe herd. A mock scrape is an outstanding way to keep tabs on your level of true, daylight influence.
*What is your trail cam pic ratio of daylight vs Nocturnal Bucks? You really should have just as many daylight pics as nocturnal pics, and MORE isn't out of the question on highly managed whitetail parcels.
Food Plot Deer Herd Influencer?
On the the lands that I manage around the country, it is more likely to capture mature buck pics in and around shooting hours, than during the middle of the night. There are several reasons why that daily movement can be created, but it can mostly can take place when high quality green food plots are left alone as sanctuaries - at least in the deer's eyes! While I often encourage my clients and my own hunting crew to hunt on food plots, I offer that encouragement with a warning: Never spook deer on the food plot!
With unpressured plots you can set your plots up to create the 3rd feeding of the day for whitetails, which takes place about an hour prior to dark and includes both high Green Forages and soft mass plantings such as apples, crabapples, plums, pears, persimmons, etc. The first 2 feedings take place in deer bedding areas on acorns, woody browse and other hard mast/hard to digest food sources. The 4th and 5th feedings take place during the middle of the night and represent safe and social hotspots of mid value food sources, such as agricultural plantings. If you can manage your highly digestible green food sources for the local deer herd and maintain that 3rd food source for the entire hunting season -WOW, you can control the entire focus for the local neighborhood buck herd on your land, during the daylight, all season long! That is a feat that I have experienced, fewer than 5% of all whitetail landowners ever get to experience. You can only influence what you can attract during the season, hold and hunt during the daylight.
*Here are some more important tips for making sure that you are offering the right food source at the right time of the day, to meet the needs of a Hungry Deer herd.
Does the bulk of the food plot activity on your land, take place during shooting hours, or well outside of shooting hours? If you have a nocturnal parcel, the first habitat feature that you should take a good hard look at, is your food plot program. By creating mock scrapes and thru personal observations, you can easily give your food plot program a healthy check-up. One of the first steps towards any problem is admitting there is a problem in the first place and most often a whitetail landowner needs to look no further than finding out if their food plots are actually a part of their sanctuary acres, or not.