Sure, antler growing monsters, lactating does and Summer fawns all crave an outstanding spot to dine; but who's Summer forages are they pounding? In the North 1/2 of the country, the opportunity to both grow a deer herd and hunt a deer herd starts in November. Why? Because no matter how much a deer gains in fat and antler inches during the warm season months, it's all for not if you can't attract them, harvest them, and advanced them during the Fall. November is often the abosolute peak of hunt and harvest activity levels in the whitetail world, and it is also your #1 month to both influence and harvest the herd as you see fit. What is the timing of your food plot attraction?
*Something to think about, is if the level of food plot attraction on you land peaking soon, or are your forages in your habitat staring down the backside of Growth-Peak-Decline chart. This is a great time to take a good hard look at the resources of the food that relates to the local herd that are attempting to hunt and manage.
Here is a brief snapshot (no particular order of importance) of my very rough estimate of the Top 10 most common food plot forages, including their peak window of utilization:
1. Clover: April-October
2. Alfalfa: May-September
3. Chicory: July-September
4. Corn: Nov-February
5. Soybeans: June-Sept and Dec-February
6. Brassicas: (rape, turnip, canola, radish) Oct-February
7. Cereal Grains: (rye,wheat) Sept-Nov and March/April
8. Oats: Sept-Nov
9. Peas: Sept-Nov
10. Sunflowers, Sun Hemp, Buckwheat June-Sept
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What time of the year are the various habitat resources of your land targeting? Although that question would also include the cover on your land, we will leave that to another discussion for now. I find that this is an outstanding time to take a reality check-up for your expectations for the upcoming season. Trail cam pictures can lead to very unrealistic expectations at this time of the year...or they can be full of hope! For example, my game cams are currently capturing a moderate number of doe and fawn pictures on my new 50 acre lease. I actually like that because the overall deer numbers are limited, there is minimal grazing pressure on my November-targeted food plots, and the large % of Fall cover on the land is just waiting for its yearly influx of bucks from the surrounding high % ag field parcels.
I personally hope that although you may be ready, that your food plot attraction isn't quite there yet! I have enjoyed helping to shape the deer herds that relate to the lands I hunt since the mid-90s, and as each year passes the realization that Fall food sources have played a critical role in all of my herd management and hunting efforts has grown to an incredibly defined pattern of success. Whether you are looking to attract deer, harvest deer, or advance bucks to the next age class and ultimately shape the biological balance of the local herd, right now is a great time to make sure that the food plot attraction on your land, matches your expectations for the season.
A critical thought to leave you with is this,"Healthy dead bucks don't grow either".The most optimum level of health, body weight and antler size in the woods is all for not...if the level of your food plot attraction is suffering during November.