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Highly Effective Rules for Growing Deer Food By Scott Bestul Photos by the Author

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hen my 15-year-old neighbor pulled the trigger on a buck we called “The Flyer” this past fall, it represented the highlight of Tanner’s young hunting career and provided satisfying proof that our food plot strategy worked. 58 WHITETAIL NEWS

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Tanner’s dad, Alan, and I have worked together for years to improve deer hunting in our area, which consists of small timber blocks and farm fields surrounded by public hunting ground. We’ve altered hunting and management strategies, and have worked hard to get better at locating, planting and managing food plots as part of that plan. The Flyer Buck, a main-frame 8-pointer with junk sprouting everywhere from the fourth set of antlers he’d grown, was tangible proof that at least some of those efforts were paying off. Naturally, food plots were an integral cog in that wheel, and I’m convinced that lessons we’ve learned during the process were critical in Tanner’s success. Here are four of those lessons.

Don’t Hunt Your Food Plots OK, this is an exaggeration, but only a slight one. I’ve told more people than I care to count that I have a love-hate relationship with food plots. I love them because I know how dramatically they can benefit deer and attract them to a property. I hate food plots because hunters misuse them so badly, viewing them as their only go-to spot(s) to kill deer. Unfortunately, the more people visit plots, the less deer do, at least during the times of day when we want deer to use them the most. It’s an understandable mistake. Our food plots are labors of love, and evidence that deer share our affection is usually obvious. Exclusion cages prove that whitetails are hammering our plants, and trail cams often yield photos of plump does and whopper bucks. The natwww.whitetailinstitute.com

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