Food First, Cover Second Deer Scouting

Recognizing our traveling deer hunters and pre-trip deer scouting preparation we offer these agricultural land use maps to help reduce the mystery of what to expect within our agricultural region where we find our best private land deer hunting. These maps are extracted to show the regions of southern Iowa, north and west Missouri and all of Kansas where we secure private hunting land access.


Food First, Cover Second Deer Scouting

Pictured is corn planted in terms of acreage and the second picture is yield per acre. The darker the color the higher the value in each case.

Corn supplies our best late into the winter waste grain crop. The map above shows where the most corn acreage will be found. The map below gives indication from year to year where more fields in corn should be expected as higher yielding acreage is more likely to be planted in corn on subsequent seasons than less productive ground.

Food First, Cover Second Deer Scouting

As a deer food source corn has its greatest deer attracting value from first hard frost that occurs on average in middle October with corn continuing to attract feeding deer through the end of all deer seasons.




We paired winter wheat with corn distribution maps as both are the most deer attracting food sources throughout the majority of the Kansas deer season.

Food First, Cover Second Deer Scouting

Our entire region plants winter, not spring wheat. Winter wheat is optimally planted in September and harvested in June. The best wheat fields in terms of deer attracting food source is 4 inches tall come hard frost (mid-October). Wheat is the only agricultural deer forage crop in our region that remains succulent throughout the winter.

Pictured right is the wheat acreage top and yield.

Winter wheat acreage planted map above and yield of bushel per acre below gives us a good lesson in farm economics vise environment. The least bushel per acre acre area has the most acreage in wheat due to it being the crop that will grow in these lower rainfall regions compared to corn and soybean that require more rain.

Food First, Cover Second Deer Scouting

The ideal deer hunting spot would be one with three acres in wooded drainage inclusive of a year round water source, adjoining a tall warm season grass field adjoining a wheat and corn field with all isolated from direct observation from roads, farm yards and pastures. That ideal does not exist. Having as many of these element within the smaller area makes for the increased likelihood of seeing deer and narrowing down any scouting effort.

The wooded drainage value is shelter by earth contour and overhead cover from wind and winter cold.

Tall warm season grass field is preferred bedding.

Year round water is scare in many areas and deer will drink every day. Do not count on water content of wheat grass, corn or morning dew to meet deer hydration requirements.

Wheat and corn supply winter feed variety.


Continuing with our recognition that we serve a good number of traveling deer hunters that will not have first hand home state experience with our central mid-west deer food sources some of the discussions on these pages while informative to some traveling hunters will be obvious information for local hunters.

Soybean is planted at two different times and described locally as early and late beans.

Early beans are those planted as early as spring weather will allow. Late beans are those that are planted after a June harvest (optimum) of winter wheat. The impact on deer-soybean food source attraction is that soybeans are most grazed on by deer after pod formation (late July) and before hard frost (mid-October). Early beans will gain and loose their deer attracting food characteristic earlier than late beans as early beans will begin to “yellow” in early September and late beans in late September to early October. Yellow means the soybean plant has reach maturity and its moisture content as well as deer attraction begins to fade. Soybean fields are preferred deer forage during early muzzleloader and archery season.

Acreage of MAHA’s Iowa, Missouri and Kansas deer lease land region planted to soybeans, darker the color the increased amount of acreage.

Food First, Cover Second Deer Scouting

Soybean yields per acre as indictor of recurring planting on any soybean field from year to year.

Food First, Cover Second Deer Scouting

Sorghum (milo)

Paired with soybean land use is sorghum that within our central mid-west region is largely milo that like soybean is more of an early season deer attracting food source than later season corn and wheat.


Food First, Cover Second Deer Scouting

Food First, Cover Second Deer Scouting

This map shows the extent to which any one deer food source may influence deer behavior the most and hunter selection of where and when to hunt.

From first hard frost until all milo is consumed deer will forage milo heads as a preferred early deer season food. This may help narrow down when an early archery season hunter that prefers early rut may select mid-October or later to plan his hunt and during that time any milo field standing or cut would be a must scout and potential hunt location. All the more so if that ideal, and unreasonable to expect to find all other deer attracting elements in one small location, of year round water source, wooded drainage, tall grass bedding, out of direct observation of routine human encroachment along with a green wheat field all adjoining that milo field.

Both soybeans, the beans themselves, and milo waste grain suffer the effects of fall and winter precipitation degrading their availability by being buried in mud and snow and loss of wholesomeness through molding before that of corn.