Electric Fences & Your Whitetail Hunting Strategy

Electric Fences & Your Whitetail Hunting Strategy
Graduate student Adam Osmun displays the difference between a food plot contained within an electric fence (left) and one open to browsing by deer and other wildlife (right). Photo by courtesy of Dr. James C. Kroll.

In the Spring issue of North American Whitetail, I presented our revolutionary findings about using electric fencing to manage food plots for whitetails. My graduate student, Adam Osmun, recently completed his master's work evaluating the effectiveness of Gallagher fencing to regulate deer use of food plots.


The study took place in three locations: south Texas, east Texas and the northern portion of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at the Turtle Lake Club.



We found our three-wire fence design increased survival of forage species, crop yields and availability of an attractive food source.

In fact, if you watch North American Whitetail Television presented by Arctic Cat this fall, you'll see me take an awesome buck from a corn-soybean food plot that had been protected by electric fences earlier in the year. And that's what this article is all about — applying this technology to your hunting strategy.


When it comes to whitetail management strategy, one of the most frequent inquiries I receive involves summer food plots. More often than not, the average land manager is going to plant a food plot in the spring, hoping to improve the nutritional plane of the resident deer and perhaps still have something growing in the plot for early-season hunting.


Unfortunately, spring plots are often reduced to weeds and dust by October, making spring plantings not worth the effort. That is, until electric fences came along.

When it comes to whitetail food plots, there really are two seasons to consider: cool season and warm season. In the north, the "cool" season occurs in early spring and again in early fall.

In the South, however, cool season refers to the periods between early fall and early spring since southern winters seldom are cold enough to prevent some growth by food plot varieties such as cereal grains, clovers and chicory.

The "warm" season in the north ranges from late June to mid-August, and mild summers permit managers to grow crops considered "cool-season" varieties in the South.

Again, cereal grains, clover and chicory do well in these climates. In the South, warm season occurs from May to October, much longer than in the North.

Hence, food plot strategies for these two geographic areas can be quite different. Yet, there still is another factor to consider.

The physiological needs of deer vary with age, sex and season. Nutritional factors generally break down into protein, energy and minerals. Whitetails certainly require all three most of the year, but in varying amounts.

We once conducted a study in which we allowed deer to "assemble" their own diets through the year. We erected feeders, each with a different feed component, and the deer confirmed what we suspected. Does and bucks during much of the year might as well be different species!

There were significant sex-related differences in preferences for feed components, but one factor seemed to hold for all segments of the herd — digestible energy.

So, feeds high in carbohydrates and digestible plant compounds rich in energy are preferred. That is why cereal grains are so popular with your deer. They are highly digestible forms of energy.

Using this information, we decided to organize our electric fence management program to take advantage of these needs.

Why not plant crops in the spring, keep deer out of the plots most of the warm season, then open them up when the deer really need them?

By fencing deer out of the warm-season plots, we then can make better use of native forages, while "banking" our food plot for the late summer and early fall.

Osmun conducted some great experiments last summer. At our research facility in Nacogdoches, Texas, we planted iron-and-clay cowpeas in April within electric fences. At about the same time, we planted Roundup-ready soybeans and corn at the Turtle Lake Club in Michigan, again inside fences.

In both locations, we managed to grow crops we never had been able to grow!

At Turtle Lake, we also managed to exclude bears from our food plots. By late summer, we had banked tons of high quality, high-energy foods at both sites.

By late summer, it was time to let our deer start enjoying the nutrition we had banked for them. Therein lies the greatest benefit of electric fencing for whitetail hunters.

Imagine that you are a bowhunter with a highly nutritious food source on your property when your neighbors' plots have been reduced to dust!

While your neighbor is busy planting his fall crops, deer are flocking to your plot! At the same time, you are doing something good for the deer. It is a "win-win" to me.

When coupled with whitetail management strategies such as rotation grazing and forage banking, you can see why this system is one of our best ideas since the infrared-triggered camera.

Recommended for You

Here's how to crack the summer code. Early Season

3 Types of Late-Summer Bucks & How to Hunt Them

Garrett Tucker

Here's how to crack the summer code.

We break down the truth on these cellular-enabled scouters. Scouting

Will Wireless Trail Cameras Make You a Better Hunter?

Tony J. Peterson

We break down the truth on these cellular-enabled scouters.

Restore the predator balance on your land. Land Management

Managing Hog & Coyote Populations for Whitetail Properties

Mark Wooley

Restore the predator balance on your land.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Gordon

Gordon's First NAW Hunt

This segment features Gordon Whittington's very first on camera hunt for North American Whitetail.

September Black Hills Whitetail Hunt

September Black Hills Whitetail Hunt

Gordon Whittington is hunting Eastern Wyoming with his crossbow where he encounters a fast moving situation.

North American Whitetail - Canadian Conundrum

North American Whitetail - Canadian Conundrum

Pat Hogan heads to Saskatchewan, Stan talks Browning Hells Canyon clothing, and Dr. Kroll tells how vital it is to manage your hog population.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

After weeks of speculation, the official 60-day entry score for Luke Brewster's epic Illinois non-typical bow-killed whitetail was announced today in the OSG booth at the 2019 ATA Show in Louisville. According to North American Whitetail editor Gordon Whittington and associate editor Haynes Shelton, the Brewster buck is the largest buck ever taken by a hunter anywhere in North America! Trophy Bucks

BREAKING NEWS: Brewster's 320-5/8-Inch Non-Typical Buck Pending World Record Announced

Lynn Burkhead - January 10, 2019

After weeks of speculation, the official 60-day entry score for Luke Brewster's epic Illinois...

Understanding what deer eat and how they adjust their diets to meet changing nutritional requirements will not only increase your chances of harvesting a good buck, but also your enjoyment of whitetail hunting. Land Management

What Do Deer Eat?

Dr. James C. Kroll - November 03, 2015

Understanding what deer eat and how they adjust their diets to meet changing nutritional...

Here's how to crack the summer code. Early Season

3 Types of Late-Summer Bucks & How to Hunt Them

Garrett Tucker

Here's how to crack the summer code.

See More Stories

More Hunting Strategies

Danny Farris is bowhunting in eastern Colorado. Hunting Strategies

Eastern Colorado Bowhunt

NAW TV - July 10, 2018

Danny Farris is bowhunting in eastern Colorado.

A tiny fraction of whitetail hunters have taken a buck that scores over 170 typical or 195 Hunting Strategies

Six Reasons Why You Won't Kill a Booner Buck

Bernie Barringer - September 05, 2017

A tiny fraction of whitetail hunters have taken a buck that scores over 170 typical or 195

Pat Hogan deals with single digit temperatures in his quest to nab a buck in Ohio. Hunting Strategies

Frigid Ohio Whitetail Bowhunt

NAW TV - August 07, 2017

Pat Hogan deals with single digit temperatures in his quest to nab a buck in Ohio.

See More Hunting Strategies

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×