As a land and wildlife manager you’ve made the commitment to be more than just a hunter. You’ve committed your time and money to create an environment where wildlife, both game and non-game, can reach its potential. The main factors that influence this, or restrict the potential, are habitat, food, water, hunting pressure and even predator management. Habitat is the biggest factor of all, but once you’ve worked to create the best habitat that your resources and time allow, then you can look to include more nutritious food for the deer and turkey on your property. Summer is the one time of year when deer need high-protein forage to help the does grow and nurture fawns and for bucks to grow larger racks. If high-protein crops such as soy beans aren’t grown in your area, then it might benefit your management plan to plant summer plots for your deer.
We’re going into season three at our Borrowed Acres property. We’ve continued to improve the habitat through prescribed fire, removal of non-mast-producing trees to open the forest and other projects. We’ve added more food plots to the property each year and this year we incorporated three acres of summer food plots. Keep in mind that deer can over browse a summer plot very easily, so being able to plant three acres or more can help keep browse pressure down and ensure a quality crop. And always conduct soil tests and properly amend your soil before planting, otherwise you could be wasting time and money.
First, I contacted Adams-Briscoe Seed (ABS) Company out of Jackson, Georgia to purchase quality seed. ABS has every kind of seed you’d want to plant as a wildlife manager. They carry Round-up ready corn and soybeans as well as a number of legumes and grain plants. We chose to plant a mixture of grain sorghum and lablab in our plots. Lablab is a vining/climbing bean variety that has a high protein content (25 percent or better) and is very palatable to deer. Grain sorghum looks like corn when it’s growing and will reach a max height of about four feet. The lablab will climb the sorghum stalk and the deer will feed on the bean’s highly palatable leaves while the sorghum plant matures through the summer months. The sorghum will grow a large seed head later in the summer and once the seed head turns brown and dries becomes palatable to deer and turkey, as well as a number of other wildlife. Just prior to a killing frost in the fall, we’ll over seed these summer plots with oats or winter wheat. That way when the frost hits, the lablab and sorghum will die out, with the standing sorghum leaving behind a mature seed head that deer and turkey will feed on along with the lush oats or winter wheat growing throughout the fall and winter. Essentially, we’ll have a food plot that attracts and hold deer and turkey from June through late April the following year — then we’ll start all over again.
Because lablab is a legume, we can inoculate the seed prior to planting, which allows the bean to pull atmospheric nitrogen from the air and deposit it in the soil. This not only cuts down on fertilizer costs, but gives better yields on our summer plots, too. Check out the video attached to learn more about inoculating seed and to see exactly how we planted our summer plots at Borrowed Acres. Comment below if you’ve had success with summer plots and let us know what worked for you.