Landowners must take action to provide wildlife with the nutrition they need, and intensive food-plot management is the way to go. A full commitment is necessary, with the proper preparations to soils with amendments, acid correction, competition control, critical soil moisture retention and thorough soil manipulation.
Food plots in the warm season provide deer with high-protein sources that fuel several critical life-history mechanisms. While fall plantings have their importance in the annual nutrient budget, summer food plots provide the nutrients when they are needed the most.
Instinctively, deer will be drawn to protein-rich sources during this time of need for fueling massive antler production, lactation and nurturing newborn fawns. The spring and summer bring in many native browse species for deer to eat, but most tracts lack the abundance of plants with the required nutrient composition during the critical time of need. Generally speaking, the deer population in the Carolinas is consistently on the rise, contributing to over-browsing and the degradation of native vegetation. Without adequate food plots or agriculture fields, deer populations in the Carolinas would suffer.
Land managers should choose palatable plot seeds with super-high protein levels in the 18- to 35- percent range. Most warm-season food-plot mixes have components of legumes - soybeans, lablab, joint vetch, peas, alyce clover, ladino white clover and peanuts - that are loaded with highly digestible protein from 15 to 35 percent. Seeds can be ordered and purchased for the planting season in just a few weeks.
An intense food-plot plan with special care to every aspect of food-plot management will benefit deer to the highest degree. Abundant and rich food resources will produce more deer and better bucks in the end.