Can You Keep Deer From Wiping Out A Food Plot?

by
posted on May 15, 2017
whitetail-deer-grazing.jpg

The Problem
You’ve planted a small food plot to attract whitetails, but they’ve hammered the plants just after they sprouted and now your plot is dead. You’ve wasted time, money, and effort and you still won’t have a plot come deer season.

The Real World Case
A couple of months ago, I planted small (2-acre) plots of peas for deer. We had great rainfall and the plants sprouted right away—too easy. On my next visit to the farm, I checked on the plot and saw that the deer had eaten every plant down to the stem. What to do?

The Solution
I replanted the plot and covered the ground with a product called Milorganite. Milorganite is an acronym of Milwaukee Organic Nitrogen; the Milwaukee municipal sewage folks created it back in the 1920s. It’s basically processed human waste converted into 6-2-0 or 5-2-0 fertilizer. That’s right...it’s human poop. It’s odorless when dry, but after it’s rained on, it gets stinky (ever notice how some golf courses smell like sewage?). The theory is that the smell is so offensive to a deer’s sensitive nose that they pass on the peas until the plants are big enough that the deer can’t wipe them out.

The Data
The Quality Deer Management Association did a test on this very topic that can be found here. They found that plots treated with Milorganite were browsed significantly less than untreated plots.

The BullShooters Test
Unlike the QDMA test that only used Milorganite once during a 30-day period, I reapplied the compound 21 days after the initial planting. I’d planned a third application, but the ground is too wet to get a vehicle near the plot after the significant rainfall this summer.

The Result
Unlike the first time around where the deer totally wiped-out 2 acres of peas, the second planting (supplemented with Milorganite) was far more successful. I didn’t count plants, but I’d say that roughly twice as many plants survived the second planting.

The Call
I don’t recommend using your food plot as a restroom, but processed human waste CAN be an effective deer deterrent while food plots reach maturity. Milorganite is available at feed stores and even places like Lowe’s and Home Depot- if the deer are wiping our your plot, give it a try.

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