When it comes to food plots for deer, there’s no shortage of information that discusses the who, what, when, where, and why of various food plot configurations. One common approach of deer food plots is the idea of working smarter and not harder on plot management. Along this line of thought is a food plot approach called the “throw and mow” food plot. The throw and mow approach is gaining in popularity because it’s relatively easy to set up, germinates quickly, and offers a diverse range of potential food sources for deer.
I have found that when done correctly, a throw-and-mow food plot can be an excellent tool for attracting and maintaining healthy deer populations. In this post, I will delve deeper into the specifics of how to properly establish, maintain, and assess the success of a throw and mow food plot for whitetail deer.
What’s a Throw and Mow Food Plot?
A throw and mow food plot is a method of planting and managing a food plot for whitetail deer that involves broadcasting seed by hand or with a spreader and then mowing the plot to maintain the desired plant species and height.
One of the key benefits of the throw and mow method is the diversity of crop species that can be established. When seed is broadcast by hand or with a spreader, it can germinate where it lands rather than being planted in rows. This allows for a greater variety of plants to be established, which in turn attracts a wider variety of wildlife, including whitetail deer. Additionally, mowing the plot maintains it at a desirable height for browsing, making it more attractive to deer.
Another advantage of the throw and mow method is that it is relatively low-maintenance. Once the plot is established, mowing is typically the only required maintenance. This makes it an excellent option for those who want to attract whitetail deer to their property but may not have the time or resources for more intensive food plot management.
However, it is essential to note that a throw and mow food plot does require proper planning and preparation. It is crucial to select the right site, choose the appropriate plant species, and adequately prepare the soil before planting. Additionally, it is essential to monitor the plot and make adjustments as needed to ensure that the desired plant species are established and maintained.
Overall, a throw-and-mow food plot can be an effective tool for attracting and maintaining healthy whitetail deer populations. With proper planning and management, a throw and mow food plot can provide a great source of food and cover for whitetail deer, making your property more attractive to these magnificent animals.
How Does a Throw and Mow Plot Differ from a Traditional Food Plot?
While a traditional food plot and a throw and mow plot have a number of similarities, they also have some significant differences, including the following:
A Throw and Mow Plot Requires Less Plot Preparation Compared to a Typical Food Plot
Traditional food plots typically require some significant plot preparation before planting. Generally, this type of plot prep includes:
- Disking or tilling the existing food plot under
- Spraying a pre-emergent weed killer to kill off any weeds before they germinate.
- Re-tilling or disking to prepare the seed rows
- Seeding either by hand or with a seeder
- Another potential application of weed killer after the crop starts to come up.
With a throw-n-mow plot, the plot preparation requires fewer steps than a standard plot. For example, most throw and mow plots require the following:
- The application of a pre-emergent weed killer in the summer
- The application of seed across the plot
- Mowing when the crop germinates and reaches a certain height.
A Throw-n-mow Plot is Easier to Maintain
A traditional food plot may require a secondary application of weed killer, which is rarely necessary with a throw-n-grow plot.
Typically, the only on-going maintenance with a throw/mow food plot is keeping the plot mowed to an ideal browsing height for the deer.
Throw-n-grow Plots are Easier to Replant Versus a Traditional Plot
Traditional plots typically require that the plot be completely disked under, sprayed for weeds, reseeded, then treated for weeds again. Typically speaking, with a throw-n-mow plot, the plot is sprayed with a weed killer and then reseeded for the following season.
Best Performing Throw and Mow Foot Plot Seeds
In my experience, the following crops work well for a throw and mow food plot:
Winter rye is one of my favorite crop options for several foot plot scenarios, including throw-n-mows. It will pretty much grow anywhere, is quite hearty, and grows well when mixed with other crops like brassica, winter wheat, and clover.
Winter rye is tough and can tolerate cold temperatures, making it an ideal choice for colder climates. It also germinates quickly and can be planted as late as mid-November in some areas. It is also drought tolerant and can handle low fertility soils, making it an excellent choice for food plots in the regions that suffer from dry conditions.
Winter rye is also a great choice for deer because it produces a substantial amount of forage in a short amount of time. It can reach heights of up to two feet and has a long growing season, allowing deer to feed on it for an extended period of time. In addition, the grain is high in protein, fats, and carbohydrates, providing deer with a nutritious food source.
Winter rye is also very low maintenance. It doesn’t require any fertilizer, herbicides, or pesticides, making it very cost-effective. Plus, it can be planted in the same area several years in a row, reducing the amount of land needed for a food plot.
Most any sub-species of Clover works well in a throw-n-mow (or thrown and grow) food plot scenario. While Clover is not as hearty as winter rye, it grows well with other crops and responds well to mowing. In addition, whitetails seem to really like Clover when it’s available.
Clover is one of the most popular and widely used options for deer food plots due to its many benefits. It is a fantastic season perennial that grows well in a variety of soil types and is drought tolerant. It is packed full of nutrients and provides a great energy source for deer. Clover is also high in protein, which helps deer grow and stay healthy.
Clover is also easy to maintain and manage. It will spread and establish itself with minimal effort and can provide a great food source for years to come. It is also very attractive to deer and can be used as a magnet to attract them to your food plot.
Overall, Clover is an excellent option for deer food plots. It is easy to manage, full of nutrition and energy, and attractive to deer. With proper maintenance, it can provide a great food source for deer for many years to come.
Winter wheat is another crop option I like for the throw and mow (or grow) because it requires hardly any plot prep, is easy to grow, and performs well in colder weather.
Winter wheat is an excellent choice for deer food plots. It is fast-growing, easy to manage, and provides a high-protein food source for deer during winter.
During the winter months, deer need high-protein food sources to help them survive the cold and difficult conditions. Winter wheat is one of the best options for providing this food source. It is fast-growing, meaning that it can provide an abundance of food for deer in a relatively short amount of time. It also grows well in a variety of soils and climates, so it is an easy crop to manage.
Winter wheat is a great food source because it contains protein and carbohydrates. Deer need both of these nutrients to help them survive the cold winter months. The protein helps them build muscle and repair tissue, while the carbohydrates provide energy. Deer will also feed on the husks of winter wheat, which are high in fiber and can help them stay warm during the cold winter months.
Winter wheat is an excellent option for deer food plots, and it is one that is easy to manage. It grows quickly, provides a high-protein food source, and is easy to maintain. With proper management, it can be a great source of food for deer during the winter months.
While most deer hunters probably don’t give rape much thought as a fall or winter food plot crop, I find it to be a very good option for smaller food plots with little to no plot preparation. There are several sub-species of rape and most all seem to perform equally well.
Rape seed (also known as canola) is an excellent option for food plots for deer. Rape seed has a high protein content, which is essential for the health of deer. It also contains high phosphorus levels, which is crucial for antler growth in bucks. In addition, the seed is very palatable for deer and grows quickly with minimal effort. It is also drought tolerant, making it an ideal choice for food plots in dry areas.
Another advantage of rape seed is that it can be planted in various soil types, and it can be planted earlier than many other food plot options. Rape seed also has a high yield, meaning that it can cover a large area with a small amount of seed. These features make it a cost-effective food plot choice.
However, rape can potentially choke out other crops if rape is planted earlier than crops and germinates first. Therefore, I find that rape works best when mixed with other seeds on the same germination schedule.
Here are some commonly asked questions that are associated with throw-n-mow food plots:
What’s the difference between a “throw and mow” food plot and a “throw and grow” food plot?
A “throw and mow” food plot is a food plot that is seeded, fertilized, and then mowed to promote seed germination. The mowing keeps the weeds down and also helps to spread the seeds evenly across the plot. Technically, a “throw and grow” food plot is a food plot that is seeded and then left to grow without mowing. Although to be fair, many hunters use the same terminology for both types of plots.
What’s the best location for a throw-n-mow food plot?
Throw-n-mow plots are best suited to be small mini-plots in an area that is inaccessible for a traditional food plot. The ideal locations are wooded areas or clearings, small fields or trails, or any site that receives at least 3-4 hours of direct sunlight daily. My favorite location for throw-n-mow plots is wooded areas with an opening in the tree canopy and small natural clearings.