Get a group of hunters together, and when the talk turns to food plots, the focus is on clover, sugar beets, turnips, soybeans, and so on. Hardly ever does the conversation turn towards trees. I do not understand why though. All serious hunters know the benefits of nut and fruit trees, and how deer are attracted to them. So why don’t more hunters plant them?
Apple, oak, and chestnut trees are a favorite food producer for whitetails. Hunters think that acorns are the favorite nut deer consume, but deer prefer chestnuts to acorns by far. Chestnuts contain 40 percent carbohydrates, 10 percent protein, and are not as bitter as acorns.
To keep deer, and other critters from destroying a young tree, put a protective cage around it. This will prevent the bark from being rubbed off, and deer from browsing in it.
The number one thing the tree needs to survive is water, but too many times that does not happen. Many trees are neglected if they are planted off the beaten path.
In order to get the trees the water they need you might have to fill buckets with water, and haul the water out to the trees. If you have an ATV with a sprayer, that is another good option. Make sure the sprayer does not have any chemicals in it that could kill the trees. The best case would be if there was a stream or pond nearby.
Planting trees is not hard, especially compared to a traditional food plot. The cool thing about planting trees is that it does not take a big chunk of land to have deer leave your neighbor’s property, and visit yours for an easy meal of fruit and nuts from mid-summer to winter.
In order for trees to thrive, they need to be planted where they can receive plenty of water and sunlight. If you plan to hunt near the trees, plant them in in an area out of sight near a bedding area.
Get out and find the right location for your trees well ahead of time. It could take many weeks to get the pH the way it needs to be.Trees should be planted in the spring and fall. Regular fertilization helps the tree get off to a good start.
This might seem overwhelming at first, but if you are serious about hunting whitetails, providing nutritious food, and managing a healthy herd it is worth the efforts. It is not that hard and the benefits are huge.
Author: Jason Houser
Jason Houser is an avid traditional bowhunter from Central Illinois who killed his first deer when he was nine years old. A full-time freelance writer since 2008, he has written for numerous national hunting magazines. Jason has hunted big game in 12 states with his bow, but his love will always be white-tailed deer and turkeys. He considers himself lucky to have a job he loves and a family who shares his passion for the outdoors. Jason writes full time and is on the pro staff of two archery companies; in his free time, he fishes and traps as much as possible.
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