Iron clay peas: These are packed with as much as 30 percent protein, and they’re also drought tolerant. You can plant this variety from now throughout the summer, which will provide food until the beginning of bow season, depending on the size of your herd and plot.
Soybeans: Soybeans can also contain around 30 percent protein, and the plant thrives in well-drained soil. But it’s an annual, so you’ll have to replant it every spring or summer. Sow from now until June to get a crop by July or August. The drawback to soybeans is how much deer love them. Small plots can be overgrazed before you know it, so it’s best to save this crop for larger fields — and don’t expect to hunt over it during the winter.
Clover: One of the most affordable crops available, clover grows quickly and is adaptive to many soils. There are plenty of varieties to choose from, including red, arrowleaf, crimson, berseem and ladino. Crimsons and arrowleafs are both annuals that do well in the South’s variable soils. Red clover can last three or four years with just one planting if you maintain it properly.
Clover works well when mixed with other crops, such as wheat or cereal rye. It’s best planted in August or September.
Winter wheat: This variety does best when planted in the fall, which means it’ll be available for your deer in the early spring. It doesn’t take much soil preparation to get winter wheat established, so light disking will work.
Ryegrass: While this plant has gotten a bad reputation, it’s cheap and easy to grow, and deer readily browse on it. It’s best planted in September, and you’ll have germination within a few weeks — just in time for bow season. The drawback is the plant is a heavy re-seeder, meaning it’ll take over a field once it’s established.