What's For Dinner?

What smorgasbord would attract deer? Think about legumes for winter foraging. Deer need the calcium in those crops, such as red and white clovers, to produce antlers and develop properly. Legumes are also great for energy. Another good winter option is cereal grains, such as winter rye and wheat and oats that are winter-hardy. For summer, deer are especially fond of alfalfa, soybeans and cowpeas.

Planting Food Plots

Before beginning to plow, your first concern should be soil quality. Plants can't reach maximum yields if the soil lacks proper nutrients. If you live in the United States, you can determine the quality of your soil by checking with your Soil and W­ater Conservation District. This organization has copies of county soil surveys available. While there, pick up a soil-testing lab kit, which will include a sample bag. Take random soil samples from the earth about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 centimeters) deep, which will be how deep the seed will be. Walk your land in a zigzagging pattern to collect the soil. Mix all the samples in a bucket, take out enough for your lab bag and wait. Results on your soil quality should be available in a few weeks [source: Zoller and McMillen].

­Prepare the soil with a tractor, a corn planter or drill, and a disk. The equipment you need can be rented. Renting equipment is another area in which the Soil and Water Conservation District can help. You may be able to hire a nearby farmer to do the tillage and planting for a fee. You could also use an all-terrain vehicle with special attachments. If the area is small, once the land has been readied, you can plant the seed by hand. Planting is a good project for a conservation club, 4-H club or family outdoor activity [source: Zoller and McMillen].

Don't neglect fertilizer, but don't assume that more is always better. Most seed available for purchase needs fertilizer for maximum yield. Don't waste fertilizer -- too much can negatively impact yields. Your soil test should indicate how much lime and fertilizer you need. Adhere to the recommendations [source: Zoller and McMillen].

Food plots may give you an advantage as a hunter. So is the practice ethical? To consider this question, read on.