Learn

How to Supplement Antler Growth with Food Plots

Food plots can pay off in the long run. Legumes, clover, soybeans, lablab and buckwheat are ideal to plant in the spring. (Photo courtesy of PetersensHunting.com)
Food plots can pay off in the long run. Legumes, clover, soybeans, lablab and buckwheat are ideal to plant in the spring. (Photo courtesy of PetersensHunting.com)

I’ll admit the title of this article may be slightly misleading. That’s because, according to several key studies, biologists don’t definitively know if humans can cause whitetails to grow bigger racks just by planting plots or pouring some minerals on the ground.

Here’s what we do know. Deer tend to eat what their bodies need and little more. Biologists believe whitetails thrive on a diet of 16 percent protein, and most native browse diets provide only half of that. So most deer will readily eat protein supplements. We know that big, healthy bucks grow outsized antlers much more often than nutritionally deficient bucks and that healthy females tend to grow bigger, healthier fawns during pregnancy that in turn have greater potential to be big healthy bucks.

You shouldn’t expect to work miracles this spring, but many experts believe enhancing the herd’s spring and summer diets with high-protein foods and minerals may boost bone.

Consider that a buck’s growing antlers are 80 percent protein. Once hardened, analysis reveals the antler is half protein and half minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus and trace amounts of about nine others. So it’s reasonable that providing protein and minerals could enhance antler growth. But how to get those proteins and minerals into your deer? The most feasible solutions are planting food plots, supplementing deer diets with protein and minerals, and fertilizing the natural food sources already there.

READ THE FULL STORY ON PETERSEN'S HUNTING

More How-To

STARTING SEP 16, 2019
STARTING SEP 16, 2019