Plots are doing well, but mature bucks only show up on your trail cameras at night.
Chances are, your food plot lacks sufficient security cover for older bucks to feel comfortable using it in daylight. To bring them in during shooting hours, you need edge cover that offers a sense of safety and also more varied fare to supercharge the plot’s appeal.
Fell several trees on the edge of the plot. Leave a few of them hinge-cut so they stay alive for a while, supplying both food and cover. Cut more low-value trees and cedars from nearby and drag them in, or build a windrow of scrub brush and logging tops leading into the plot just upwind of your stand.
Plant edible shrubs along the edges, such as red osier dogwood, Chickasaw plum, strawberry bush, American beautyberry, blackberry, and raspberry. Also add a few pear, apple, or persimmon trees. These will all provide additional cover and more food variety. Fruits are a great energy source and are rich in phosphorus, potassium, and vitamin C to help deer face the rigors of the rut and approaching winter. A few white pines downwind of your stand will also soothe a wary buck’s nerves.
Next spring, plant a few rows of corn separating your clover, chicory, and other low-growing crops. Alternately, put in several 15- to 20-foot-wide strips of perennial native warm-season grasses such as switchgrass, Indian grass, and bluestem; or annuals such as Sudan sorghum and Egyptian wheat. Arrange them around the edges and leading slightly into the plot. These grasses don’t provide forage, but they’ll grow 6 to 10 feet tall and make bucks feel safe as they approach. These finishing touches will make your land stand out from adjoining properties, which are all competing to entice that heavy-racked buck cruising the neighborhood.