How To Attract Deer To Your Property And Keep Them There

Written By John VanDerLaan 

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By the time you finish reading this article, you will know exactly how to attract deer to your property and keep them there, whether you are hunting or you just want to watch deer in your yard.

Attracting deer to your property can be a rewarding venture and can be just as enjoyable as the hunt. The key elements for wildlife survival are food, water, cover, and space. So it is essential to incorporate all these elements into your property, whether it is 100 acres or 10. Food plots, bedding areas, minerals, salt blocks, and good apple trees are all great examples of attractants.

Having an excellent place to deer hunt is becoming more and more difficult to find, so many are creating their own deer heaven. Even if you do not have a property of your own, leasing or partnering with local farms may be an option. 

Attracting Deer is not for the faint of heart but the dedicated. It can take a couple of years to set the stage for the theater. Hunting is ultimately a lesson in patience, labor, and reward.

Food Plots

Bachelor group of bucks in a clover food plot

Food plots are one of many things that will help establish a healthy herd that will likely never leave your property. Many different types of food plots will help accomplish this, such as corn, soybeans, clover, winter wheat, and various mixes on the market. 

We have used all of these with quite a bit of success, but our favorite is Imperial Whitetail Clover and and Eagle Seed Soybeans. Typical cereals planted for deer include oats, wheat, triticale, and rye. 

Through the winter, we have found that winter wheat and some of the mixes do well and supply food late into the season. These mixes will often be filled with radishes, and different kinds of grain that will do good up until the ground becomes frozen. 

Plot sizes are a hot topic. Some say you must have a 40-acre plot to attract 100 deer. Others support the idea of smaller plots strategically placed. It is our experience if you build it, they will come and compete for it. We advise you not to be discouraged and to do what you can. Food plots are an inexpensive way to feed deer.

Deer Attractants

Deer feeding on attractant

The deer attractant market has exploded in the last few years. Most of these attractants consist of food and minerals or Doe in estrus scents. Both options are beneficial, but in our experience, food and minerals are more successful.

There are many good food attractants on the market. We have had great success using different Acorn Rage varieties and whole corn and apples. Mixing this attractant with a bag of corn and using it in a deer feeder maximizes the budget and its appeal.

Estrus scents can enhance your luck with bucks during the rut.  Our favorite is obtaining harvested estrus urine from local deer farms. It is harvested, frozen, and used in the same rut season. Due to demand, this option is sometimes elusive.  When it is unavailable, or if your state does not allow deer urine due to CWD. we trust Lucky 7 Synthescent Doe-in-Heat Plus Synthetic Deer Scent. It has worked for us many times.

Click here for a guide to the best deer attractant.

Apple Trees

Apple Trees

Apple trees and orchards have created some honey holes for us over the years. One, in particular, was hidden and a bit of a hike. When the wind was just right, it was full of deer during the day until the last apple fell.  

When planting Apple trees, plant several strains and varieties so that they can cross-pollinate and thrive. One apple tree planted alone will not succeed. Also, when choosing your apple trees, research the size variations, peak times, and the time investment to see a yield. 

Another great option is pear trees. The deer love them but wait to eat them until they are over-ripened and soft. When they begin to fall, give them a week, and then there is sure to be plenty of activity in that area for a few days.

Depending on your geographic location and climate, you may consider planting other fruits also, like blackberries, strawberries, and plums. And if you are a gardener, you know to protect your lettuce, sweet potatoes, beans, and the list goes on.

Mineral Blocks and Salt Licks

Buck digging a hole to get to the minerals

Licks come in three primary forms: white salt blocks, pressed mineral blocks, and natural mineralized salt rocks. Let’s talk about each, their benefits, and which is best for deer herd management and health. 

Just like we may crave something salty pure white salt will attract deer for a time. But without other balanced minerals, salt can create kidney and vascular problems if deer consume too much. Straight salt may temporarily attract deer but does little to nourish or improve herd health—and may decrease it. 

A manufactured mineral block contains salt and added nutrients. These often contain calcium and phosphorous, which support bone and antler development. Copper, zinc, cobalt, magnesium, manganese, and some targeted vitamins like A, D, and E can also be included. These nutrients will help maintain good health in the herd.

Natural mineral salt rocks have natural electrolytes and dozens of trace minerals deer need, not just the salt they crave. The variety of macro-and micronutrients aid immune health, reproduction, fetal growth, milk production, and digestion, and the list goes on. Deer love and lick these rocks all year-round and crave the nutrients they provide during every life phase.

When placing a mineral or salt block on your property, there are many we have found that digging a hole in the ground and placing the salt block inside mimics a natural salt lick. It will flow into the dirt like a natural salt lick. Also, placing it near a water supply can be ideal. We have hunted a farm with a natural salt lick, and it is always a hotbed for activity.

Click here to learn about the best mineral blocks for deer.

Bedding Areas and Sanctuaries To Attract Deer

deer bedded under a coniferous tree in the snow

A bedding area is one of the most critical areas on the property to attract and hold deer. The bedding area and sanctuary are places for the deer to rest without stress or fear. Mature bucks choose bedding areas that are isolated from all other deer. Does will bed near food and water.

There are debates on whether these areas can be created or merely enhanced. So often, when people are developing their land, they are quick to get rid of sites that deer are seeking.  A place thick with vegetation trees, shrubs, and thickets are very attractive to deer. They want to hide and feel secluded. 

One of the best ways to create a deer sanctuary on your property is to choose an appropriate area and cut all of the trees, but don’t cut all the way through them. Just leave them laying and still attached to the stump. This is known as hinge cutting and is one of the methods used for Timber Stand Improvement for wildlife.

This will open up the canopy for loads of new growth and will also keep the browse growing on the felled trees.

You will be providing both food and cover to all of the deer in your area.

With that being said, it is also crucial that this is an area on your property that is off-limits to all hunters. Protecting this area is vital. If the deer are spooked from this area, they will begin looking for another sanctuary that will likely not be your property.

Final Thoughts On How To Attract Deer

Having a good place to deer hunt is becoming more and more difficult to find unless you are blessed with a piece of property of your own. If you have a property, it can be enjoyable and rewarding to turn your property into a haven for deer. 

To keep this process moving and the herd growing, you will have to work the property year-round. But when the fall of the year comes around, and you are sitting in your stand picking out that perfect buck to hang on the wall or a large doe to harvest for the freezer, it is all worth it.

Remember, that land well kept and plotted and passed down from generation to generation can provide hunting and food for many grandchildren to come.

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John VanDerLaan

John VanDerLaan is the managing editor here at He oversees a team of editors, writers and pro staff that are subject matter experts in hunting and hunting gear. John's expertise includes thoroughly testing all types of hunting gear, as well as hunting all over the U.S. and Canada. While his hunting expertise includes game birds, small game and large game, his favorite game animal is the whitetail deer and he loves to share the knowledge that he has gained over 40 years of chasing the wily whitetail with both archery gear and firearms. John is an active member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

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