It’s no secret that corn and soybean country produces good bucks, but what is it about soybeans that makes bucks into something special. Soybeans are a unique plant compromised of anywhere to 25-30% crude protein. The standard needs of a whitetails diet are roughly 20% crude protein. The result of excessive protein from soybeans is healthier deer and bucks with the nutrition for much larger racks than standard deer. Beyond the high amounts of protein that soybeans deliver they act as a food source for whitetails throughout the majority of their growing cycle. Even after soybeans mature the pods which farmers typically harvest are a tremendous later season food source for whitetails. Hunters that plant a soybean food plot and leave them standing throughout the season and into the late winter are providing whitetails with exceptional nutrition during a difficult time of year. Dr. Grant woods wrote an article about this subject a few years ago. The QDMA soybean profile also describes the amazing benefits of this plant.
The USDA chart reveals many of high producing soybean locations also yield impressive bucks: Iowa, Southern Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Eastern Kansas, Eastern Nebraska, Western Kentucky, Northern Missouri, Southern Michigan, Eastern South Dakota, far Western and South-Eastern Pennsylvania, and even into Western New York. The majority of these soybean growing regions offer incredible whitetail hunting. Obviously state regulations, hunter densities, whitetail population structure, and other factors influence the ability of certain states to readily produce giant bucks despite the presence of soybeans. Even with these other factors influencing whitetail populations it is possible to find large bucks in almost all of these areas especially on private land where the pressure is minimal. One of the only areas that regularly produces large whitetails that is not in soybean country is south Texas, yet South Texas is notorious for nutrition programs that enhance the local herd of whitetails.
The good soils that allow for great soybean production seem to produce trophy whitetails. The nutrients in the soil likely provide many other nutritional benefits outside of great soybean and corn forage. Great soil effects nearly every type of forage growing in these regions enhancing the whitetails overall diet.
As your sort through the various options for a food plot this year. Consider soybeans as a fantastic year round food plot for your local whitetail population.