Cold weather food plots for deer are very different from north to south. cold weather happens the world over. You can not escape it and it’s the toughest time in a whitetail deers life. In harsh climates they spend more energy finding food than they do eating it, and without some good feed, they run on a net loss all cold weather long. Your bucks are especially run down after the rigors of the rut, and cold weather food plots for deer can really benefit them this time of year.
Snow is a bigger factor than cold. They are both tough on deer, as the cold makes our herd burn fat reserves to heat the body, and the snow makes travel difficult, and it also buries the entire acorn crop and all spilled grain left in ag fields. A deer will not dig through 16 inches of snow to find a couple acorns or pieces of corn. It knows that it will spend 20 calories to eat 10. Bad math if you want to make it to spring.
This leaves the deer only browse to eat, and these tender tips are an excellent food source, but a deer has to travel a lot to get at them, and they are very low in carbs that are used to heat the body. Your deer crave and need something more and cold weather food plots for deer are the answer. Give them easy to access carbs and you have a source that deer will travel to get to and come back night after night.
In a mild cold weather with no snow, deer can still get at acorns and ag waste and cold weather food plots for deer are not necessary. Problem is we don’t know how much snow will come so it is best to plan for it. 20 inches of snow makes travel extremely difficult for whitetail deer. Young deer often refuse to walk when their bellies are dragging snow as they walk. If deer are yarded in white cedar they may make it, but often cold weather mortality is the result with prolonged periods of deep snow. Soybeans and corn are the answer for serious cold weather food plots for deer.
Both the bean pods and the corn ears stay well off the ground until they are knocked off or eaten. Corn and beans are hands down the favorite cold weather food plots for deer when the snow comes and stays. Many will talk brassica and the deer love it, but if the snow gets too deep they spend too much energy getting to it. A field of corn will yield an easy 100 bushels an acre, often much much higher which is almost 6,000 lbs of high carb, high energy, easy to access deer food. Soybeans will produce over 5,000 lbs of deer food per acre. That is the kind of tonnage that can make a life or death difference in a severe cold weather.
Southern deer can survive on greens and browse, and as a wildlife manager you must realize its the fresh greens that are in low supply. Cereal grains such as wheat, oats and rye are top choices, and more and more people are using special deer blend brassicas because of the high tonnage they produce, and it’s nice to have a little variety in your cold weather food plots for deer. Give the whitetail deer something they crave that they can not find anywhere else and you have an area the deer will flock to. It’s one of the biggest factors for success in your food plot strategy.
We have spent more time talking herd health than attraction in cold weather food plots for deer, but bear in mind they are close to the same thing. When the cold weather is mild your deer have a multitude of food opportunity. When old man cold weather blows cold and deep, cold weather food plots for deer are the main attraction, and often the only game in town. Think strategy and plan for a rough cold weather and give the deer what they can not find anywhere else when planting cold weather food plots for deer.