Protecting Your Investments Of Food Plots
by Cedar Hills
Customarily food plots were only planted in the fall and winter months for attracting and holding deer in an area. It is now becoming a popular practice throughout the United States to plant summer food plots for deer.
The size of these plots range from pipelines to literally hundreds of acres.
Warm season food plots are planted for the most part with high protein legumes such as lablab, cowpeas, clovers and numerous other varieties.
The growing interest is due to the fact that proper nutrition helps produce quality deer. Often, plots are to small to handle the amount of deer that are grazing on them.
If food plots have just been introduced into an area, it usually takes some time for deer to get accustomed to utilizing them. Early grazing can be detrimental to summer food plots, therefore it is best to protect them until the plants are mature.
There are several ways in going about protecting young food plots. Protection of food plots is an added expense, but the forage production that is gained makes it well worth it. One method is to fence the perimeter of the plot with a 6.5-8 foot fence.
This can be done by using a 27-32 inch net wire on the bottom part of the fence and a regular 4 foot net fence above it. Connect the bottom fence (26-32 inches) only at the corner posts, and the top 4 feet should be secured on all sides.
Since the bottom portion is not secured (except on corners) it can be raised in the middle and hung on the top fence to allow deer access under the fence. If heavy grazing pressure is noticed then the fence should be lowered to allow plants to recover.
Since deer are only excluded for 4-6 weeks it is usually not necessary to have a full 8+ foot fence. If deer seem to be jumping the fence place a strand of barbed wire on the top for added height.
Another method is to use 2 four foot sections on top of each other. Secure the bottom 4 foot section around the plot and alternate the post sizes from 6-10 feet. This will allow you to connect the top fence at the corners only and hang it on the 10 foot posts in the middle.
Photo By Hardy Jackson
When the plants are mature the top fence can be dropped by unhooking the fence from the 10 foot posts. The negative aspects of this method are that deer risk injury when jumping into the plot, and fawns have trouble entering without some sort of gate/panel to walk through.
Some people prefer to high fence the entire plot and leave out sections where cattle panels are added or removed when needed. This is less labor intensive when opening and closing plots, but it forces the deer to concentrate in certain areas and often they feel reluctant in entering the field to far, therefore the plants get hit the hardest near the openings.
Electric fencing is another option for protecting food plots. There are many different methods that can be used in electric fencing. The major problem with electric fencing is that deer never know when the fence is hot or not.
Once a deer gets hit a few times they might not want to return. Sometimes it is just hard to keep deer out of the plots depending on the construction of the fence. This is a popular method for lease hunters that are not sure whether they will be returning to the ranch.
Trying to overwhelm deer with food plot acreage is one way to control overgrazing. For this to work the deer population needs to be low and the amount of food plots should be high. This is usually not an option because of limited plantable acres and an abundance of deer in most areas.
Other options that are not always reliable are the use of scarecrows, deer deterrent sprays, human hair, and metal flashing. These methods might work for a while, but deer seem to learn quickly that there is no harm in feeding around them.
There are many options when protecting warm season food plots. The idea with planting warm season food plots is not only to hold the deer in an area, but to also provide as much high protein forage as possible for the deer herd.
Protective fencing is the best route for increasing the amount of nutritious forage available.
After all of the money and work that go into planting food plots it is a wise decision to protect your investment.
Posted by Cedar Hills on 04/24 at 10:10 AM