Just sprinkle some magic seeds on the ground and soon you will have trophy deer growing on your farm. At least that’s what some advertisements would have you believe.
One of the hottest trends among do-it-yourself deer managers these days is planting food plots to draw wildlife to their property. You can even go into the big retail stores now and buy plant seed (with a picture of a big buck on the bag) in the sporting goods department.
However, just planting clover, corn, and soybeans on an otherwise clean-cut farm is a lot like buying a new toy with cheap batteries included: it only works for a short time. The same is true for food plots.
Deer and other wildlife need more than just a place to eat if you want them to hang around your property. Wildlife also needs clean water and places to hide. A perfectly manicured farm with fescue fields and grass closely cropped underneath the fences might look good to us, but it looks like the desert in the eyes of most wildlife. Development and the tidy farm movement are two of the reasons why Kentucky’s quail populations are at all-time lows.
What can you do to help wildlife and encourage critters to use your property? The best place to start is the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The department has specialists—we call them private lands biologists—whose job is to visit farms and recommend improvements. It’s the department’s own farming for wildlife program.
Property owners are not obligated to follow the biologist’s recommendations, open their farms to the public, or allow hunting if they don’t want people hunting on their land. In some cases, money is available to help landowners pay for habitat improvements for wildlife.
Call (800) 858-1549 for the name and contact number of the private lands biologist serving your region. Winter is a great time to schedule a visit to your farm.
The beauty of improving habitat for wildlife is that you’re doing more than just trying to lure big bucks to your property. You’re creating a haven that will help many species of wildlife.
Want to know more about food plots? Or how changing the way you mow can help wildlife? Call the department’s toll-free number and ask about our Habitat How-To series. These free pamphlets cover a variety of ways you can improve your property for wildlife.