Many deer hunters and land managers across Louisiana and Mississippi have delayed planting their food plots this year because of the extreme heat. Not only is hot, dry weather tough on young seedlings, it's just downright miserable to plant in.
But the clock continues to tick toward the Oct. 1 archery-season opener, so most hunters will break out the tractors, discs and harrows in the next few days.
What and how they plant will dictate how successful those plots are at attracting and benefiting whitetail deer throughout the hunting season.
Don Reed and Bob R. Jones, who study deer at the state's Idlewild Research Station in Clinton, wrote a pamphlet that offers advice to hunters about what they should and should not do when planting plots in this region.
The primary rule of medicine -- the Hippocratic oath -- is to first do no harm. The same rule applies to putting in food plots, but many hunters mistakenly do a tremendous amount of harm while believing they're helping their herds.
They'll destroy acres of native browse to spend a fortune on seed, fertilizer and lime.
"Management of native browse species is many times overlooked when hunters and sportsmen want to improve habitat conditions," Reed and Jones write. "Fertilizing Japanese honeysuckle, blackberry and dewberry and other forbs and vines normally found in open timber stands will greatly enhance the food and cover that Louisiana upland wildlife depend on.
"In some cases, individuals fail to plan and prepare when it comes to planting food plots, and actually destroy large areas of these native browse species.