What is the best food plot for deer in the late season – soybean food plots or corn food plots? Dive into the subject with The Buck Advisors’ deer biologist Weston Schrank.
While the cold weather and snow has not set in yet here in Indiana, we are in the late season and as a deer manager our focus should start to turn from hunting and doe harvest to off season management. One of the biggest concerns of any deer or property manager at this time is getting the herd through the winter. Is your habitat and thermal cover up to par, do you have enough and the right type of food in your property, did you harvest enough does this year to make that food last? All this starts weighing on your mind, especially if there are bucks you want to see make it through to the next season.
While each property and situation are different, overall there are two giants competing for the best late season and winter food source: Soybean food plots and corn food plots. After the intense rut and into the winter a buck has been showed in studies to lose as much as 30% of his body weight. In order recuperate from this bucks needs a sustainable late season food source to fulfill their nutritional needs. There are many food plots for deer that offer exactly what they are looking for in January and February. There is no doubt that during winter deer seek and need carbohydrates to build fat reserves and keep their body warm. This is why they seek acorns heavily in October and November. Now to some this instantly validates planting every tillable acre in corn, but we beg to differ that soybeans are far more useful to deer.
Now to argue this reason we have to trace back to the beginning of the year to spring, corn and soybeans are planted. From the instant beans are planted they contain a crude protein content of 25-35 % which is used for lactating does and a bucks antler growth and muscle development. So from the instant beans are planted they are useful to deer. Corn offers cover but will not be used by deer until later in the season.
We all know soybean food plots are unbeatable for scouting velvet bucks in the early season and hunting once October rolls around. In November we…being both the deer hunters and the bucks we hunt concern themselves with funnels and doe more than food sources which brings us back to the late season. While corn is higher in carbohydrates than soybeans, preference always seems to lean towards bean pods when both food plot sources are available side by side.
From a deer managers and hunters perspective establishing a bean plot is easier and a bigger bang for your buck over corn which is expensive on both the wallet and soil. If you’re lacking any late season food source whatsoever on your property make sure to keep with us in this series as we dive into off season habitat and herd management.