Whitetail Deer Habitat and the Food They Eat High quality whitetail deer food and habitat is critical to having trophy deer in your hunting area. The best way to improve your hunting success is to do something about a whitetail deer habitat and the food they prefer to eat for optimal nutrition. If you’re not seeing trophy deer on your hunting lands, then you need to do something to get them there, hold them there, and grow them bigger and stronger.
- 1 Food Plots
- 2 Nice Trophy 8-Pointer in Food Plot
- 3 Breaking up the soil with a small disk behind the ATV
- 4 Hunting Lands
- 5 Future Food Plot
- 6 Using ATV to seed Food Plot
- 7 Mow Food plots to about 6-8 inches in height
- 8 Consider Providing Salt In Whitetail’s Diet
- 9 Salt lick for deer – Improving Antler Development
- 10 Note how well used this mineral lick is
The process of developing quality deer food plots and whitetail deer habitat on your hunting land may take a few years of hard work. But once a hunter has laid the groundwork for whitetail deer habitat and deer food plots, the benefits, rewards and results will justify the effort. For about the cost of going deer hunting in Montana or other guided deer hunts for trophy deer, you may be able to establish quality deer food plots and improve the habitat for deer.
Nice Trophy 8-Pointer in Food Plot
Now you may have set yourself up for that kind of trophy deer hunting, year after year, by improving the nutritional value of the food deer eat and by habitat restoration, or habitat creation on your hunting land.
A young buck munching in and around the food plot Improve The Habitat And Deer Food
Breaking up the soil with a small disk behind the ATV
If you’re serious about hunting large trophy deer on your hunting land, then you need to understand some basic principles in dealing with whitetail food plots and the whitetail deer habitat that will help you achieve this goal. You may need to improve the quality of your hunting real estate’s whitetail deer habitat. For example; if your hunting land is a mature forest, it probably doesn’t offer much in the way of a valuable wildlife resource; supplying quality food and habitat for whitetail deer and other wildlife. What you want to do is enhance the natural beauty of this hunting area and create the possibility for deer food plots and habitat that whitetail deer need and will use. When you do this; don’t forget that deer need nutritional food year round. Don’t just plan for planted food to peak or just be available to deer during the hunting season. A whitetails food preferences and nutrition needs change with the seasons. Try to provide a variety of nutritional food sources for deer that can be used by them year round on your land. Look to the various manufacturers and suppliers of food plot seed for guidelines and other valuable information. Click on and check out all the various advertisers in the sidebar and at the top of this article. They will provide you with quality products and great information that will help you decide what is needed for your hunting land or area.
Remember this, whitetails thrive on the edge. Edges are where two or more different terrain features meet. This is good hunting land to start reconstructing a quality area for food plots and habitat restoration. You may need to do some thinning of mature brush and trees so new habitat growth can appear. This area will need at least 6 daytime hours of sunlight. This is very important for optimal plant growth.
Future Food Plot
A great technique is to clear a 1/2 to 1 acre area of brush and small trees. Use your 4-wheeler ATV to pull them out by the roots if possible.
Cleared Brush from new food plot – ready to spray
This next picture is a potential food plot once the brush has been cleared out.
Spraying weed and brush killer during site prep.
Once the new food plot has been cleared of all brush you want to spray it with a grass and weed killer such as roundup or the cheaper generic brand name “Eraser”.
Break up dead grasses and sod with an ATV and disk
Now you will want to wait at least a week and let the grass killer do its work so it gets into roots of the weeds and grasses. Then you work up the soil with an ATV and its accessories, have a soil analysis done (call your state’s university agricultural division for information on having a soil analysis done; it’s cheap), fertilize and or lime the area as needed. Lime usually takes many months to help balance the PH of the soil. There are a few brands of pelletized lime that work faster. Check with your local feed, grain, and fertilizer store for it.
Now plant your wildlife food plot and habitat enhancement for deer and other wildlife.
Using ATV to seed Food Plot
Now it is time to seed and pray for rain. Food Plot seed companies or your local feed, seed, and fertilizer store will advise you as the best time to plant your seed.
Mow Food plots to about 6-8 inches in height
Once your food plot is established you should mow it when your clover/alfalfa/chicory get above 12 inches high during the growing season for the benefit of all wildlife. Mow it down to about 6 – 8 inches in height. It is a good idea to only mow half of it at a time to keep plant stress down to a minimum. I watch the weather forecasts and plan my food plot mowing periods just before we get rain. Now you have created an edge; a nutritional edge that will attract and hold whitetail deer and other game.
Consider Providing Salt In Whitetail’s Diet
Along the edge of a great whitetail food plot consider establishing a salt lick. Deer need sodium for balanced nutrition just like we do. Deer like the taste of salt. It is an attractant to them. They will seek salt out just like a hunger deer hunter at a breakfast table who is going to eat eggs. Salt really doesn’t help much in the development of trophy buck antlers. Hardened antlers only comprise about 1% sodium.
I set up my salt licks about 10 to 20 feet away from my mineral licks. I start with a block of salt I buy at my local feed/garden store. Once on the ground I use a sledge hammer and bust it up in smaller pieces, then I let rain and nature dissolve it into the ground where the deer will eat the soil. I refresh it annually in the spring.
Salt lick for deer – Improving Antler Development
To improve the quality of antlers that bucks grown on your hunting land, you may want to establish a mineral lick. A mineral lick show be at least 10 feet away from other licks such as a salt lick. Once you establish a good mineral lick near this new food plot and whitetail deer habitat area, you will be well on your way to growing trophy deer with large antlers year after year.
Note how well used this mineral lick is
This next picture is of the above mineral lick just a short time later. Notice how well it is used by deer with old and new tracks in it. They can’t leave it alone. You need to refresh it every spring and fall. I like to use the “Whitetail Institutes” 30-06 mineral supplement with protein blend. The deer love it.
If your hunting land, or the whitetail deer habitat area is somewhat barren, you may need to do various types of plantings; deer food plots for nutrition, seedling trees for security, browse, comfort, and wind breaks. Work to actually create a safe sanctuary for trophy deer; once developed – leave it alone and stay out. Establishing deer food plots and habitat reforestation will take time, in fact it will take years. But now you have the opportunity to create a very special hunting area and even leave a great hunting land legacy with wildlife food and whitetail deer habitat for your family for generations to come. Wouldn’t that be great!