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Food plots & cover crops now that season is winding down...

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I am looking for suggestions to keep feeding the deer through this leaner part of the year.

This time of winter, there is not much new growth and the hunters are quiting feeding due to the hogs moving in on their feeders.

I am interested primarily because we have a small doe with a broken front leg. Probably hit by a car. I have watched her since last summer. I had hoped someone would harvest her this season. But she managed to lay low. We did not see her at all during season. Now that season has closed, I saw her this morning and am compassionate enough to provide a food plot for her and any other deer. It will be near our pond which is about 300 yards from the highway and surrounded by woods.

I set a mineral block out on a stump by the pond and replaced it all summer. One block I fed had corn and peas. I noticed the peas that had dropped to the ground had sprouted and grown. Three days later, I noticed they were grazed to the ground. That makes me want to provide more.

Suggestions please for types of winter peas or other crops that will provide nutrients for the deer during the coldest part of the season?

Any input will be appreciated...

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

Iron clay peas would provide a good source of nutrition for your little doe. Until you can get a food plot up, you could buy rice bran at your local farm store or co-op. You might try putting it in a bird feeder where the deer can reach it but the hogs can't. We feed it to our deer during the non-hunting season and they love it. The deer here in our yard also love sunflower seeds. I put out extra on the ground around the bird feeders for them and they come by every night and clean it up. Also, if you have any native vegetation such as blackberries, honeysuckle or other things deer like to eat, try fertilizing them. Much of the native forage provides better nutrition for the deer than the food plots we plant. I started a honeysuckle plant (it's evergreen down here) inside a round fence enclosure (4 foot rabbit fencing) and fertilize it periodically. By growing it inside the fence, the deer can eat what grows through the fence but are not able to eat the entire plant to the ground which can kill it. We put in a food plot down by our creek every year for our deer here at home and love watching them. They're comfortable with us coming out onto the front porch to sit and watch (the food plot is about 250 yards from the porch). You may be surprised at the tenacity of deer--your little doe will probably do quite well and may even surprise you with a fawn come summer.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks for taking the time to respond.

Years ago I was told when I planted rye grass on a new pond dam that the deer wouldn't touch it unless fertilized. They kept it cropped nicely all winter so I can understand adding fertilizer to native vegetation. Good thought.

I have also had one guy at work tell me to get some clay peas so I need to track some of them down. Because we have dogs, we have an acre under fence to keep them in the yard. This little deer stays about 75 yards out from the fence so we can watch her and any others that come in.

Although there are hogs on the properties around us, they haven't been here and I am not wanting to encourage them. I have a tall stump I have been putting the mineral blocks on and may also add sunflower seeds to it. I suspect the hogs could get up to it but haven't yet.

Off to research iron clay peas. I appreciate your information as you are in a similar zone. Thanks much!

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

Forgot to mention that turnip greens are a favorite food for deer too. Good luck with your project.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks on the good wishes. I have tried not to become too attached to this handicaped deer but feel providing forage for it and the others is the least we can do. Turnip greens also grow well here. Appreciate that!

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