Most every Arkansas deer hunter is looking for a secret to improve his or her chances in the woods this upcoming season.
Some buy a new rifle that shoots a whiz-bang cartridge. Others go for stinkum on the shoes. A new and different type of camo clothing may be a choice.
They might try buying a package of turnip seed.
Yes, it is for real. Turnips are as favorable a deer attraction as most anything you’ll find in the high-dollar specialty catalogs offering magical mixes for your food plots.
It’s getting late in the year for extensive cultivation of plantings that are designed to bring deer within your sights — but not for turnips.
We’ll assume you have a place to hunt deer. Go to a farm or garden store and buy a half-pound of turnip seed. The variety of turnips doesn’t matter much, but purple top is the most common you’ll find in Arkansas.
Take those seeds and a rake and go to work. Pick a spot or a couple of spots, maybe three or four, within good shooting range of where you plan to hunt.
Make it 40, 50 or 60 yards. You don’t want to plant the turnips directly under your tree stand. Shooting down at a sharp angle isn’t conducive to a sure thing, and the deer will find you so close a lot easier than they will 50 yards out.
Use the rake to clean off a patch of ground. Make this any size you want, maybe the size of your living room or a bit smaller. Then scatter the turnip seeds with a loose to and fro fling of the arm. Go back with the rake and lightly, very lightly, rake across where you have spread the seed.
If you have brought along a bucket of water and a sprinkling can, fine. Lightly water the spot you have planted then go away.
Hopefully, it will rain sometime before deer season, maybe several times. The turnips will grow, and your absence from the turnip patch will keep your scent away from the deer.
Nothing is going to take the place of acorns for a favorite deer food. Many hunters have the opinion that turnips rate high on the scale behind acorns — above those magic clover mixes and such.
Some of these experienced hunters have the opinion, too, that turnips are more attractive to deer later in the season — after a frost or two, after the acorns have been eaten by turkey, squirrels, hogs as well as deer.
It is the green leaves of turnips that deer go for, although a number of hunters say deer will chow down on the roots also, especially when food gets short. Deer will nip off the leaves, and the turnips will replace them in most cases.
Turnips are in a plant family called brassicas, and this includes cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and kale. Turnips are a cool-season crop that is high in protein and easily digestible for deer.
Joe Mosby is the retired news editor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas’ best known outdoor writer. His work is distributed by the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.