Hot Summer Food Sources For Whitetail

By Josh HoneycuttJuly 9, 2014

LAST UPDATED: May 1st, 2015

Deer revolve around food. It’s the single most influential factor in whitetail movement. But in this unchanging declaration something does change – the foods they prefer. Food sources change throughout the year. It is imperative to know what food sources to key in on at a given time. These are just a few of the summer and early season food sources that will drive deer activity near you.

Deer in Soybeans

Deer have a lot of options during the warmer months. Make sure you effectively scout in order to find out what they are eating where you hunt.


Soybeans are grown throughout the central part of the country. Farmers are seeing good yields and high prices. Many farmers that once alternated soybeans and corn are now growing soybeans exclusively due to higher profit margins.

A Field of Soybeans

Soybean fields see a lot of action during the summer and early season. Focus your efforts near them if at all possible.

Deer hit soybeans during two stages. They really hit soybeans hard during the summer when they are green and growing. Once they start turning yellow, deer slack off of them. In late fall, once they turn brown and the beans have hardened, they start feeding on them again.


It can be difficult to make it grow, but alfalfa is the ticket to finding deer during the warmer months because if you have alfalfa – you have deer. Alfalfa is high in protein and really provides the nutrients deer need. It isn’t uncommon to see a deer choose alfalfa over other warm season crops like soybeans and clover.

An Alfalfa Field

Alfalfa is a great summer and early fall food source. It’s hard to grow but worth it if you can.


Corn isn’t really a food source during the summer months and early fall. But you will find deer there. The reason why is that standing corn is a labyrinth of cover that bucks feel very secure in. Therefore, they may not be feeding on it much (if any), they will be bedding in it.


One food source people often overlook is sunflowers. Sunflowers are rich in nutrients and provide access to a food source that deer like. That said, don’t plant a whole field full of sunflowers. Instead, plant them around the edges of fields and food plots. This will accomplish two goals. It will provide a soft edge for good transition cover as well as a secondary food source.


This is a very popular plant amongst whitetail enthusiasts. It is brought up in as many early season food plot conversations as any plant I can think of. There are numerous species of clover. But some of the most popular include: red clover, arrowleaf clover, alyceclover, etc.

Heartland Trophy Clover

If you don’t have a particular food source on your property then you can always opt to start growing it yourself. The rewards can be plentiful.


This is a very good early season food source. The problem with growing it is that deer often consume it before it ever has a chance to mature. The leaves are highly digestible, making it a favorite for whitetails.


Orchards are prime places to feed in summer and early fall. Apple orchards are especially popular among whitetails. There isn’t a deer in the woods that will say no to a good crop of apples. It won’t be hard to find your target animal if you have one of these nearby.

Trail Cam Photo

The goal is to find deer. You’ll accomplish this by focusing on the food.

There are endless food sources for deer during the warmer months. But these seven options are important to consider when planting food plots and hunting agricultural ground. Make sure you pay attention to the food this season. Because one thing is for sure – the deer will be wherever the food is.

Josh Honeycutt
Josh Honeycutt is an avid deer hunter. He's hunted whitetails from South Carolina to South Dakota but spends most of his time hunting in Kentucky. Honeycutt has written and created other forms of media for more than 60 media companies in the outdoor industry, including: North American Whitetail, Whitetail Journal, Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Deer & Deer Hunting, Rack Magazine, Inside Archery, Game & Fish, Fur-Fish-Game, and others. He's also very active in digital content, specializing in writing, editing, photography, videography, podcasting, and more. You can see how his deer season unfolds each year on Midwest Whitetail and Chasing November.
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