In central Mississippi, duck season ended on January 30, 2011, and deer season ended a day later. Other than hunting squirrel or rabbit, what do I do now? The options are…

A) pull out the turkey calls and start practicing

B) get the fishing gear ready

C) find your golf clubs and get them cleaned up.

D) consider planting spring and summer food plots.

Following duck, deer, and turkey seasons, each of us in Mississippi spend a long and hot summer with hardly a thought of hunting. It’s just too hot and too dry to even consider hunting matters until August rolls around and, the Mississippi Wildlife Federation hosts its annual Wildlife Extravaganza. At that point in time, a mind shift occurs, and we hunters start looking for our bows, guns, and hunting gear. When late September finally arrives, particularly if we have had few nighttime cool spells, deer hunters start the process of “getting ready to get ready” to clean up the camp, clip roads, work on stands and plant food plots. We see trucks pulling ATVs, small tractors with a disk or planter attached, and 4 wheel drive pickups are everywhere. “It’s” underway!

We, as deer hunters, plant fall/winter food plots for any of several reasons:

A) to provide a food source for deer to help them through the cold hard winter

B) to use the plots as hunting sites in hopes of attracting deer for viewing or harvest

C) other: (use your imagination)

But, how many of us plant spring and summer plots to provide the critical nutrition for deer when they really need it?

By the time spring arrives doe have been bred, and after a 200 day gestation period will begin the process of dropping fawns. While we are not biologists, we do not need to be to understand that a healthy, well fed, well nourished doe is more likely to drop a healthy fawn, than is an undernourished, unhealthy doe. Additionally, bucks will soon drop their antlers and immediately begin the process of growing new ones. Bucks also need quality nutrition to enable them to reach maximum potential. So doesn’t it make sense for us as hunters to make sure deer on our properties have quality nutrition and adequate food supplies during the gestation and antler growing periods of the year?

Unfortunately, time is short and there is little time left to plan and get everything ready to plant spring plots. If you are thinking about spring and summer food plots, start the process now. As a first step, you might want to talk to a licensed wildlife biologist to get some ideas and help you create a plan for your property. In the event you have never planted spring/summer plots, consider starting in a small way and increase/improve the program over the years going forward. Don’t expect miraculous results in the first year. It just doesn’t seem to work that way. Develop a 3-5 year plan and stick with it. Over time you should be able to see noticeable improvements, particularly in deer weights and rack quality.