Turning Land into Whitetail Habitat Without Planting a Food Plot

STEP 1: Take stock of your mast trees and shrubs. Check to see if they are crowded and in poor shape. Don't overlook oaks too young to produce acorns. Treat them right and their day will come.

STEP 2: Eliminate the competition. You want to "release" the forage by removing competing trees and shrubs. Everything growing within the drip line (the area covered by a tree's branches) should be cleared. Then cut the adjoining trees on at least two sides to provide lots of sunlight and room to grow within the forest canopy.

STEP 3: Prune. Trim damaged branches and, in the case of the fruit trees, prune vertical shoots and interior branches to promote lateral growth.

STEP 4: Feed. Now it's time to fertilize the forage. For plants like honeysuckle and greenbrier, an annual application of fertilizer is all that's needed to make them more attractive. Sunlight is the priority for mature, nut-bearing trees. Check with a forester if in doubt.

Best Candidates for Management:

Oak, ash, wild apple, wild pear, crab apple, persimmon, red osier dogwood, honeysuckle, blackberry and raspberry, greenbrier.