The Odds of Seeing an Albino Deer

The odds of being an albino deer are low

Albino white-tailed deer may be neat to see, but did you know that a true albino occurs in only one of out of 100,000 births and very few fawns survive beyond the first year of life? It’s true. For an albino deer to live over seven years is extremely unusual — almost unheard of. And if you think about it, this makes sense for a lot of reasons. First, most of the whitetail’s range consist of habitat that is dominated by the colors green and brown–not white.

Within various wildlife species, animal coloration is based on the process of natural selection. In short, color mutations occur infrequently overall, but if the color variations were well-suited for the environment where they are found, then those “oddly” colored animals would survive to breed and pass on their genes. If the genes cause an animal to stick out, such as a white deer in a primarily green or brown environment, then the animal will be more noticable to predators, including humans. This results in the animal being depredated or harvested. In either case, the color abnormality does not benefit the white animal. Continue reading “The Odds of Seeing an Albino Deer”

Cool Season Deer Food Plots Considerations

Cool-Season Food Plots Considerations 

Food plots have become widely used deer management practices, but not all plots are created equal. Cool-season (fall and winter) food plots for white-tailed deer are not as susceptible to drought or weed competition when compared to warm-season (spring) food plots. This fact holds true for cool season food plots found throughout the whitetail’s range in most cases. One exception may be legumes, which may require delayed planting if rainfall is deficient in the early fall months of September and October. Cool-season plant species can be planted on either upland or bottomland sites because of cooler temperatures and increased water availability during fall and winter periods. 

Cool season forages commonly consist of oats, rye, ryegrass, wheat, arrowleaf clover, sweetclover, subterranean clover, Austrian winter peas, and brassicas. Various seed companies provide a plethera of cool-season seed mixes that incorporate a number of plants into a single food plot mix. And speaking of food plot mixes, I recommend that landowners never plant food plots with a single plant species, especially in new food plots or where low input from the landowner is expected. Although at least 2 plant species are suggested in fall and winter food plots, I recommend that spring plots contain a minimum of 3 plant species. Continue reading “Cool Season Deer Food Plots Considerations”

Warm Season Whitetail Food Plots Considerations

Thoughts on Spring and Summer Food Plots

Warm-season (Spring-Summer) plant species are most reliable, work best when food plots for white-tailed deer are located in bottomland habitat. This out-performance is because low-lying sites retain the highest amount of soil moisture is during the dry, summer months. This is important information to remember for the success of your food plot, as well as your overall deer management program.

However, care should be taken to select a site that is not prone to flooding from nearby streams, rivers, or other waterways. Flooding is not necessarily a bad idea if we were talking about food plots for waterfowl, but no so much when we think about food plots for deer. Also, should the plot also be expected to serve as a food source and hunting area during cooler months a flooded out food plot is going to offer you zero access.

Warm-Season Food Plots Considerations

Warm Season Food Plots are Hot

On the other hand, dry upland sites are not good sites for warm-season deer plots, so try avoid such areas and stick to the better soils on your hunting property to increase your odds of a successful food plot. Of course, not every property has moisture-rich bottomland soil. In this case, position plots at least 50 yards from woodlands, since nearby trees will wick water from upland soils.

But if you have the option, go to the lower elevations of the property because that is where the water is found. This seems simple, and it is, but it can make a huge difference between a successful warm season foraging site for deer and a complete failure of a food plot.

Fast Growers for Spring & Summer Plots

Warm-season plant species should be selected for their ability to grow quickly and compete with native weeds. Remember, with either warm or cool-season supplemental forages, soil samples should be taken to determine lime and fertilizer requirements. Failure to properly prepare the soil may result in drastically reduced yield or excessive weed competition. A good source for local information will be your county extension agent and they can usually help with soil testing for your food plots.

So whether you are planning on establishing a cool (fall) season food plot or a spring food plot, the best thing you can do is ensure you do your research before doing anything else. There are many commercial sources for seed, but check around with several sources before you make your selection. Seed sources have a vested interest in selling you seeds, but it may not be the best seed for your soil — or for the deer on your property. Good luck with your future food plots and deer management program.

Talking Food Plots and Deer Hunting

If you have any questions about warm season food plots or any other inquiries regarding white-tailed deer hunting or management, just drop me a line in the comment box.