Late Season Food Sources in the South
The South is known for its biologically diverse forests and mild winters. Arkansas Land Specialist Jeff Hodge shares that deer in his region seem to key in on former agriculture fields quickly and heavily as temperatures begin to drop.
“The top late-season food sources in Arkansas, especially in the southern region, are Red Oak Acorns that hold on trees longer, Nuttall Acorns, woody browse, food plots, and supplemental feeding. Additionally, many farmers will plant wheat for spring harvest to provide a little spring income after the harvest of grain.”
Regarding late-season hunting strategies in the South, Jeff encourages hunters who prefer open ground to look to old field-type habitats with vegetation regrowth.
“If they can do a burn on it the year prior, even better. This will provide a mix of cool and warm season grasses as well as woody browse and forbes that will last well into the winter months. For example, maple or elm sprouts, saplings, goldenrod, or even buckwheat can be planted all the way up to November as well.”
In the pine regions of the South, Jeff encourages late-season food plots and supplemental feeding to drive deer. For hunters on land leased from timber companies, manipulating the landscape or cutting trees is out of the question.
“Winter wheat is a very simple plot to plant and can handle the acidic soils that many timber leases are home to. It can be broadcasted with no tilling, fertilizing, or liming required and still germinate and last through those hard frosts.
Supplemental feeding of protein, alfalfa, and corn is common in regions that lack natural late-season food sources. I feel that it is important to note that if you are going to supplement feed, it is my opinion that you need to be consistent, as many young deer will live at those feed sites, and they will become reliant on it to make it through the winter."
For a reliable source of supplemental feeding options, Land Specialists at Whitetail Properties recommend Whitetail Institute. Hunters owning or leasing land can choose between vitamin and mineral spreads and blocks; access the product selector to find the right fit for your needs.
"I am of the opinion that no effort on a property goes to waste as long as it is consistent, planned, and carried out with your objectives/goals in mind. Anything you can do to reduce the stress of harsh winters could translate to a healthier herd, which many experts say is the key to growing big bucks.”
Planning and executing a robust food plot strategy to accompany your late-season hunting efforts will ensure your success and the health of nearby herds.
To recap, a diverse late-season food source list in the Southern region of the U.S. will include:
- White oaks (post oak, water oak)
- Winter wheat, alfalfa, clover, ryegrass
- Agricultural fields, including corn
- Supplemental feeding
From the Midwest/North to the Plains, East, and South, each area offers unique options to ensure deer herds survive and thrive during the harsh winter months. By considering these diverse food sources, landowners and hunters can contribute to healthier and more sustainable deer populations for years to come.