Transitional Cover and Food Plots

Transitional Cover and Food Plots

MFDC0028 (4)By this time of the year you have probably either planted your food plots or have decided what type of seed you are going to use for your food plots. The amount of acreage that is planted in food plots on hunting land is increasing every year. Many of these food plot seeds produce more forage per acre and more crude protein than most agricultural crops. This is fantastic from a management standpoint. Our land management doesn’t have to stop when we plant the seeds though. Aside from just planting food plots there are many modifications that you can create to enhance your food plots.

Deer are edge species and spend much of their time browsing where two habitat types meet. The edges of agriculture fields along a wood line or where two different aged stands of timber meet are examples of this. In order for deer to use these plots on a regular basis they must feel safe when venturing out into the plots. Deer will commonly use a soft or feathered edge more often than a hard, abrupt edge. A soft edge consist of vegetation between the food plot and the forest. This transitional cover is more appealing to whitetails than a hard edge which consists of no cover. So my question to you is, what good is a food plot if the deer are uneasy about entering into it? Here are a few tips that will enhance your food plots.

Transitional cover is the key to enhancing your food plots. Mossy Oak BioLogic’s Whistleback is a great product to utilize on your property that serves multiple purposes. Not only does this seed create a feathered edge that offers transitional cover, it produces an ample amount of cover and forage for many game bird species such as wild turkey, bobwhite quail, pheasants, and doves. It can be planted in strips a few yards wide in between the forest and the food plot. This mixture of seed consisting of millet, sorghum, sunflower, and Egyptian wheat will make your plots more appealing to whitetails and create habitat for these game bird species. Natural forage can also be allowed to germinate and create a soft edge. By disking a row or two between the food plot and the forest’s edge you are creating an area where natural vegetation such as American pokeberry and bluestem grasses will prosper. The next step is to create an irregular edge, which deer are also partial to. By creating a crooked and jagged edge you are eliminating the straight line edge effect that also makes deer uneasy. The irregular edges don’t have to be taken to extremes, just enough to break up the monotony of uninterrupted edges.

By coupling these very basic techniques you are creating a habitat that will benefit deer by providing cover when transitioning from their bedding areas to their feeding areas. You are also creating essential nesting and feeding cover for game birds, some of which such as the bobwhite quail are experiencing a decline in their habitat. This is a win-win situation and you won’t regret implementing this management strategy on your property.


Andrew Walters