Food Plots and Bait Piles for Deer

Rick Bramwell

Food Plots and Bait Piles for Deer

Some states allow for baiting of deer. Bait piles for deer include sugar beets, cabbage, apples, pears, just about anything sweet or green. Food plots for deer are also used as deer magnets. Corn, soybeans, winter wheat/rye, brassicas, and clover are some of the plants used, especially on hunting leases. 

“I plant winter rye, but when there are plenty of acorns in the woods, the big bucks will usually wait for the cover of darkness to go for the green,” said Gary Cloud, who owns property in southern Indiana. The scarcer other types of food get, the more deer will rely on food plots. This is why holding out for a quality buck during the muzzleloader season is a good idea. 

The rut is over. Bucks can lose up to one-fifth of their body weight chasing does while not eating much at the same time. The actual trigger is freezing weather. I can remember bitterly cold days during the last week of the muzzleloader that would bring deer out a half-hour before dark to feed.

Outdoor Experiences Is What It’s All About  

One experience I’ll never forget was on a hunt with Larry Lawson in Jefferson County. We needed to cross a creek, and my boots were too short. Larry said,” I can carry you to the other side on my shoulders.” I’m 6’2”, and Lawson is about 5’9”. The temperature was in the low teens. What could go wrong? 

True to his word, my stout friend carried me safely to the other side and then returned to get our guns. At last light, we would have to reverse this dangerous endeavor. 

On the return trip, I could sense Lawson losing his footing on the algae-covered rocks. Larry body-slammed me into the freezing water to keep himself from going down with the cargo. I think back to such situations and realize this is a part of the experience of enjoying the outdoors.

Feeding Deer 

Getting back to feeding deer. Hunting near bait is illegal in Indiana, but you can put out feed to enjoy seeing them. At a two-acre woods in Henry County. I strapped a camera to a tree after seeing a big set of tracks in mid-August. My camera finally sent me his photo on September 16. He never showed up again, nor did anything but two small bucks; two does, and their fawns. 

I decided not to hunt this plot but to keep the camera there and to begin baiting it. At first, the deer seemed to be drawn by the apples and pears. I had a video of a piney squirrel carrying a large pear back into the woods. 

None of the deer showed up until well after dark. As Thanksgiving arrived, the deer visits slowed, and two coyotes posing were sent to my cell phone.  

I had begun putting out persimmons, thinking this would really attract the deer. Instead, it brought on the coyotes. They were eating these little treats like they were candy. One very fat possum gained weight during my experiment, as well. I pulled the camera on December 4. The deer quit showing altogether three weeks earlier. 

After The Corn Is Picked The Deer Leave

Deer utilize this small piece of cover very little when soybeans are planted around it. Likewise, they don’t find enough security to stay after the corn is picked. 

It was the picking of the corn, and the showing of the coyotes that meant even the lure of a juicy apple or mushy sweet persimmons was not enough to bring them back. 

An older fellow who lives in the area told me that once the corn gets picked, the area deer migrate to the Blue River bottoms to yard for the winter. 

This has taught me that without other hunters to move the deer, outside the rut; these animals are mostly nocturnal. What may move deer during legal shooting time is approaching fronts and when the moon rises before sunset.

Shop Food Plot Mix For Deer 

Food Plots for Deer

About Ken McBroom 307 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.

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