Top Choices For Food Plots

In presenting a dozen or more seminars on food plots each year, I've found one big question continues to dwell in the minds of many whitetail enthusiasts: What should I plant to attract deer during hunting season? As much as we'd all like for there to be a single "right" answer, there isn't one. Not for every piece of land. Climate, soils and several other site factors, in addition to a plant's innate palatability, determine what's a great choice for fall planting and what isn't. The good news is that a number of crops are useful for attracting whitetails during the cool season, and at least one of them almost certainly will grow on your land.


The best forages result from selective breeding and typically are offshoots of agricultural crop research. Because it takes years to significantly improve and fully test varieties, new ones don't pop up every day. So, what's "new" in deer food often turns out to be one of two things: (1) a forage developed for livestock but now being extended for use in feeding wildlife; or (2) some blend of established varieties formulated to work well together in a given region or set of site conditions.


That said, every year we do see more deer-friendly forage products hitting the market. And quite a few show promise for providing valuable nutrition at the time we're out there hunting. With that in mind, here's an overview of current cool-season seeds and mixes now being marketed by some of the better-known names in food plots.

Evolved Harvest


From a single product in 1992, this Louisiana company has grown to offer more than 40. Among these are many food plot varieties and blends, several of which are tailored to the cool season. One is Throw & Gro, a blend of annuals that includes tetraploid ryegrass, clover and rape. Another is Winter Pz, consisting of winter peas, forage oats, clover and triticale (a wheat-rye hybrid). (www.evolved.com)

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Whitetail Institute of North America

As one of the oldest companies in the deer forage industry, this Alabama-based operation is best known for its Imperial Whitetail clover. But WINA also has branched out into other areas, including forage mixes developed specifically for the cool season: Imperial Pure Attraction and Winter-Greens. Imperial Pure Attraction includes the company's own brand of forage oats, as well as highly attractive winter peas. Winter-Greens is a premium brassica blend designed to yield a huge amount of forage through the coldest part of winter. (www.whitetailinstitute.com)

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Hunter's Specialties

Iowa-based Hunter's Specialties recently entered the wildlife seed market with a number of products, several of which are intended for summer/fall planting.E-Z Grow is an annual mix that creates an attractive stand for early fall. It's composed of King annual ryegrass, Dwarf Essex rape and several clovers, including crimson, alsike and berseem. Vita-Rack Winter Forage contains several of those plants, along with Hobson rape and Samson and Purple Top turnips. (www.hunterspec.com)

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Mossy Oak BioLogic

Mossy Oak has long been in the seed business, and today the Mississippi company's line includes a range of nutritional products.Like several other companies included in this rundown, Mossy Oak has a perennial seed blend for whitetails. Perfect Plot includes New Zealand red and white clovers, alfalfa, winter peas, chicory and the best BioLogic brassicas. Annual ingredients, which make up a small percentage of the blend, can be added back annually, allowing for true perennial production along with fall attraction. (www.mossyoakbiologic.com)

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Pennington

This Georgia company's Rackmaster line of fall seed blends utilizes a spectrum of annual cereal grains and legumes, regionally blended for different growing conditions. Pennington is a big advocate of Wintergrazer 70 rye, along with long-lasting Durana and Patriot white clovers. A popular fall-winter product is Deer Greens, which consists of several annual brassicas. (www.penningtonseed.com)

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Buck Forage

When your line includes only two forage products, they need to work for a wide range of applications. Such is the case with Buck Forage, which is headquartered in Arkansas. Buck Forage markets chicory as a cold-hardy and drought-tolerant perennial deer forage, one whitetails will utilize through the warmer months into bow season. But the company's namesake annual oat variety is the mainstay of its line. This broad-leaved forage variety, developed at LSU, can hang on for some time even under several inches of snow. (www.buckforage.com)

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Tecomate Wildlife Systems

Although this company's roots literally are in South Texas, various forages within Tecomate's product line also are suited to cooler, wetter locales. Two of its established products -- Max-Attract and Monster Mix -- are proven performers during deer season. Max-Attract is a blend of annuals and perennials, including oats, triticale, chicory and clover; Monster Mix contains perennial clovers and chicory and is particularly well adapted to more fertile sites with ample moisture. (www.tecomate.com)

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Wildgame Innovations

Based in Louisiana, this company markets several seed blends for the deer enthusiast who lacks cultivation equipment or simply wants to plant small plots in hard-to-reach spots. (Of course, all plots benefit from tilling, as opposed to simply tossing seed onto the surface of unprepared ground.) While Realtree Road Trips Backroads Blend and Backwoods Blend are different mixes of cereal grains and brassicas. both promise to start producing in early bow season and hang on through the toughest days of winter. Backwoods Blend can adapt to drier sites. (wildgameinnovations.com

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