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Food plot wars just over the hill

March 09, 2010 at 11:44 AM

GATEHOUSE NEWS SERVICE

You won’t hear any guns in this war.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

In fact, like in other wars, the winner is where the shootin’ is.

In the last 50 years or so, deer hunting has changed a lot.

And one can make a good argument that the greatest change is the advent of the food plot.

Bigger than the shift of the shotgun to the center-fire rifle, a larger leap than the jump from the recurve and long bow to the compound bow, and even a greater change than hanging up for good the red and green plaids deer hunting outfit for the modern camouflages, with more patterns than there are trees to put them in. 

And it appears that the headlong rush to “grow your deer,” is even going to supplant the old timeworn notion of “hunt your deer.”

And it sounds modern, doesn’t it?

Growing is green.

Green is good.

Grow your own deer.

Growing your deer is a very fashionable way to relate with nature. 

As more and more hunters put in ever-larger and more complex plots of clover, brassicas, and oats, it follows and becomes truer each year that whomever has the biggest food plot wins the deer war.

That battle of the food plots is the real Deer Wars of the 21st Century, all across the country.

Some of us are fortunate and have a lot of territory to hunt in one place.

Others have a number of places to hunt and that also boosts the odds in filling a tag.

But there are many of us who only have one place to deer hunt and lack the wherewithal to invest in land, soil amendments, seed, and time to fuss so that our hunting spot looks like a photo on a seed packet ad.

This year was an eye-opener because there was a lot of tracking snow up on our hills during deer season.

And the story written in the snow was as plain as the nose on your face. Even in bow season, and then later through the gun and muzzleloader seasons, snow on the ground told us where the deer were coming from and going to.

So it became evident where the whitetails were “holing up” and where they lined up for chow time.

And in other, adjacent tracts or woods, or woodlots, we couldn’t cut a track, except for a wandering yearling buck.

In the past these excellent deer hunting spots produced. But now, as their timber has gotten bigger and their understory of herbaceous plants, ferns, and preferred browse has gotten scarce, so have Mr. and Mrs. Whitetail.

And we hear after the season, seasoned hunters say, “Where are the deer? Had one of the poorest hunting seasons. …” “Never saw a buck.”

Times have changed.

There was a time that deer hunting contained for a large part, egalitarianism, and equality.

Back in the day a young man walking out in the back forty had just as good a chance of getting a crack at a decent buck as the next guy. All he had to do was be a good shot, play the wind, and learn the woods.

But now that more innocent hunter, armed with woodsmanship, knowledge and understanding of the wild movement of the whitetail has been to some degree, trumped by the guy who has the tractor, time and lime, and land to use it all on.

Does a food plot guarantee a filled tag?

Hardly.

Can a guy walk out his back door and fill his tag with the buck of his dreams? Sure. It happens.

But overall, whitetails are moving en masse to areas with the best food plots to a surprising degree as bow season turns into gun season.

Evidently whitetails have enough natural wild foods such as apples, beechnuts and acorns to hold them in their traditional cover in the early season before the leaves fall.

But soon as their food in the woods disappears, not only do the deer tend to congregate from all over in the best food plots, but also for the social interaction. More deer draws more deer.

Do you know who has the largest food plots in the areas you hunt?

You should.

he larger food plot will skew the pattern of your deer once the natural foods are gone … and that’s usually hunting season.

Ironic, but in this world of Machiavellian justification, large food plots can be trumped by an even larger food plot, just over the hill.

And the best laid plans of mice … can be washed away when a farmer puts a 150 acres of corn in where only a fallow field supported thousands of field mice and song birds just over the ridge.

Next year the owners of the smaller food plot vow to plow up more ground, plant their own corn, amongst other new designer forbs and clovers that are sold as “irresistible, a sure thing that deer love.”

And the sound of shooting, is the background music in the newest of the Deer Wars, coming to a hill near you, if it already hasn’t.

E-mail Oak Duke at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

How are food plots legal? How are they different then Feeders? You don’t cut hay out of them so they shouldn’t be classified as aguriculture. Are they legal just because we found a Loop Hole in the regulation?I am not saying they are wrong, but just some food for thought.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/09 at 02:13 PM

So . . . . what the heck is the jist of this story?  Help me out.  Is the author pulling “class-envy” because he wants the ability to just step out the back door and shoot a trophy and dispises those who work at it by planting food plots?  Is he saying that its a waste of time because the neighbor is just going to plant a bigger food plot?  I’m confuded. 
I’ve experimented with foodplots the last 2 seasons and can say that it is incredible how they pull the deer in, even when pressured.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/09 at 04:25 PM

Gilly, I agree.  The article confused me, though I’m sure it’s going to stir up a lot of conversatin here.  I just started experimenting with food plots last season and had no luck at all.  I planted four different plots all attached to each other in an area that deer frequent and watched them all walk right through the plots without taking as much as a mouthful to get to the neighbor’s corn.  I also planted about 13 acres in alfafa for horse hay and saw some deer activity there a few times but mostly watched the deer walk through it to get to my other neighbor’s corn.  Walking through the deer classic only adds to the confusion.  Everyone’s seed is the best…just ask them.  Next season I’m replacing all of my plots with beans to see how that does.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/09 at 05:10 PM

The gist of this article is that having a food plot is the same as sticking a pile of sweet potatoes or corn right under your stand and that instead of going out to hunt deer which is the basis of hunting, people will just go grow food plots and artificially fatten deer to make them bigger and bigger so they can brag about it while not really doing the work of “hunting” the deer as much as luring him to a food plot, which i think should be illegal since you cant put a pile of food right under your stand, why should you be able to stick a stand in the middle of a food plot

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/09 at 06:04 PM

Foodplots are way over-rated and mis-understood by a lot of hunters. They are but 1 part of a complex puzzle and far from the most important part. I would give up the foodplots on my land long before I would give up the quality bedding cover and the tranquility of a sanctuary.

____________________________________________


Remember, the author of this article is the same one who told us that does are the toughest deer to tag!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/09 at 06:24 PM

Buckraiser - how ironic, you go by the title of “buckraiser” and then blast people who put out foodplots to supposedly use to raise deer/make them bigger?!?!  And if you think it’s illegal to hunt over a foodplot then no one should be able to hunt their ground until their crops are out of the fields, right?  They are just big foodplots.  I think you are just the gut who used to go by “johnh” going under this new name and continuing to come on here and try to stir people up.  If you’re not johnh then you’re grammer and typing patterns are as similar and stupid as his was.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/09 at 08:02 PM

actually gilly my nickname is Buckraiser because i do a lot of fund raising for different charities, it has nothing to do with hunting. Big difference in hunting crops that are grown and or being harvested then hunting a food plot and if you don’t know the difference i wont take the time to explain it to you since i’m the so called stupid one as you put it.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/09 at 09:37 PM

If you are implying that planting food plots is somehow cheating, you are sorely mistaken.  Many more deer (not bucks, deer) are helped out by food plots than are killed over them each year.  Good food plot management provides food for the entire herd throughout the entire year.  Once the normal crops are picked, corn and beans, not much is left for the deer during the Winter months when they need it most.  If food plots are cheating, then we can say the same for bows with wheels and guns with scopes.  Yes, food plots may help us put a deer in the back of our trucks, but it’s far from cheating.  If you want to talk cheating, what is it when we put out an estrus lure?  Poor guy gets it once a year and we use it against him.  A food plot is just another type of hunting technology.  We all use technology in one form or another to get our deer.  At least this one helps the herd.  It has a net positive gain.  WHat’s so wrong with growing deer bigger?  We’re not putting them on steroids.  We’re simply giving them more food year round.  When did helping a deer grow bigger antlers become so wrong?  If you use Tink’s 69 and a big cage comes in on a string, you’re going to let walk by because he was baited?  I don’t think so.  I love hunting, period.  I’ve enjoyed each and evey deer I’ve ever been fortunate enough to take.  Does, fawns and bucks alike.  But which ones really get my heart pumping the most?  The big ones.  We all have different ways of hunting.  If it’s legal, stop complaining about the other guy using it to his advantage.  We all use something to our advantage.  That’s how life works.  I had a feeling this topic would stir the pot again.  If you don’t like hunting over a food plot, don’t.  If you’re in favor of it, have at it.  The bottom line is that food plots help deer, period.  So does selective shooting.  It’s all part of a management game that helps the hunter and the deer alike…O.K….maybe the hunter a little more.  I for one just started the food plot last year and I had a blast doing it.  It’s a ton of work, but it makes me feel like I’m giving something back.  It makes me feel like that because that’s what I’m doing, giving something back.  Please stop the bashing of other hunter’s legal ways.  It plays right into the anti’s hands.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/09 at 09:53 PM

The idea that a food plot is “the easiest way” is nuts.  Food plots are labor intensive and costly.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/09 at 10:02 PM

I have the same results as you treehugger….I planted some of the “magic seeds” only to find out that the deer would rather feed off of the beans and corn we had planted.
For me it was more of an effort to give them something different but now instead of wasting time on that, I’ll put my money and effort towards fertilizing what trees are already there and planting more.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/10 at 07:38 AM

The foodplots I have done have really improved my hunting property.  Plus, they are kind of fun and give hunters something to do that’s “deer related” in the summer.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/10 at 08:19 AM

Andy, you don’t know how old your grandmother is?  Shame on you, I’ll bet she knows how old you are.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/10 at 08:23 AM

We hunt large CREP fields.  What we’ve learned is to just leave them alone.  Back when we were mowing lanes for pheasant hunting, sure, the deer used the field.  But since we’ve stopped all mowing and haven’t even planted food plots, the place is even thicker with deer using the whole tract as bedding.  I agree with a previous poster, where we hunt, the entire landscape is a food plot.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/10 at 08:25 AM

maybe just maybe for most who grow food plots its about giving something back to what we love to do
i have a small turnip plot that is about 5 feet wide by 30 yards long…... never killed a deer over it this fall but about 3 weeks ago the deer poured in to eat those turnips when everthing else was frozen or gone!! i would say it’s a success….. did’t cost more that a couple dollars and it looks nicer than the mud hole that was there….. win win situation.  most that don’t do food plots or agree with them are lazy or just want an excuse for not being successful…. an hour a season, a garden rake and $5 of seed goes along way… if you love the sport…. small price to pay….. hardly baiting!!!!!! if your that hard core and old school you better only hunt fromthe ground with a spear

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/10 at 09:58 AM

planted various deer food plots for many years. trust me, corn and soybeans are the best…they eat them all year long. i plant 11 acres corn and 9 beans last year.
Before I planted corn, i never dressed a deer that didnt have corn in his belly, no matter how far away the nearest corn field was. that taught me a lesson.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/10 at 04:20 PM

Spider, great point.  I’ve never gutted a deer that didn’t have corn in it either.  Andy, other than name calling, stirring the pot and not understanding my point, exactly what is your point?  In my opinion, food plots are far from necessary, but they do help.  If you like planting them and hunting over them, go for it.  If you don’t agree with food plots, don’t plant or hunt them.  That’s all my point was.  I haven’t had very much success with them, but I’ll keep doing it in hopes that I’ll get it right some day.  I can’t believe people are actually arguing about food plots.  Explain exactly what it is that you hate about food plots and food plot planters and hunters.  I’m curious.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/11 at 10:48 AM

Higgins said it.  I’d prefer quality bedding and thickets over food plots any day of the week.  That being said, I’ll take both.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/11 at 04:20 PM

I do agree… food plots are cheating. Lets plant some turnips that would never be there in the wild to lure in the big bucks late in the winter.
The only people that plant food plots are those that are obsessed with big racks!

food plots are indeed easier, and thats why the big buck hunters like them

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/14 at 05:25 PM

Once again…Is it wrong to like big racks?  When you go fishing, would you rather catch a one and a half pound bass or a nine pound bass?  I like catching small fish and shooting does, but every now and then, I like catching a big fish and shooting a big buck.  I must be be nuts.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/15 at 10:51 AM

this is a little off subject but what do ya think wild pigs will do to food plots ........ besides destroy them .

We have a new problem in Fayette county ........ some genius must have decided it would be cool the have pig hunts and turned loose some pigs . Wildlife biologists are very concerned . There have been reports of 60 pigs in one group . They have already started reproducing .

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/17 at 09:49 AM

“Pretty much the whole state of Illannoy is a freakin food plot.

Posted by SILOUTDOORS on 03/10 at 07:04 AM”

I’m sayin’!  HAHAHA!

All yall that’s hunting the edge of the woods anywhere is cheating then.  Why?  Wel cuz your hunting the food source!  Corn, Beans, CRP…don’t matter.

This debate is wack!  The reason baiting is an issue is due to the concentration of the food in a pile and the spread of disease via prions within the deer saliva.  I can go on…but in general, the pile concentrates it and the deer frequent the exact same spot on a more timely basis thus promoting the chance of spread due to the fact that the prions are not gonna live forever in the outdoor environment…

JEEZ…I’m done,  Yall got too much time on your hands LOL!!!

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