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#3287211 - 07/10/13 08:56 AM Are you wasting $ on food plots?
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Mud Dauber
16 Point


Registered: 07/28/10
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Loc: Tennessee

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http://www.realtree.com/hunting/articles-and-how-to/are-you-wasting-money-on-food-plots
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#3287229 - 07/10/13 09:10 AM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: Poser]
BSK
Jerkasourous of the non-typical kind
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"And, in my personal experiences, food plots are as overhyped as a Tom Cruise movie."

I've been saying this for years.

On a priority list of time and expenditures for managing a deer hunting property, I would place food plots low on the list.

Unfortunately, seed sellers' advertising dollars and their influence on hunting shows and deer hunting magazines have convinced deer hunters that food plots are the end-all be-all of hunting and management. In certain situations, food plots can be a useful and even powerful tool. But they are not critical nor the most important aspect of habitat/herd management.
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#3287254 - 07/10/13 09:33 AM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: BSK]
MUP
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Registered: 08/01/07
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No, in reply to the original post. \:\)
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#3287258 - 07/10/13 09:36 AM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: BSK]
Boll Weevil
8 Point


Registered: 06/26/11
Posts: 1332
Loc: Hardeman

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I agree that in some locales this could be case (especially since the article clearly focused on deer-only and references the midwest setting).

On the other hand, the benefit to an overall wildlife management plan seems pretty different in my mind. For me, manipulating and improving native groceries + providing food, edge, in the right size/location, etc does great things for all sorts of wildlife big and small alike.

I tend to not focus only on deer (which I think was the author's intent for this article). I always try to look at the whole picture and will certainly continue to plant a little going forward.

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#3287267 - 07/10/13 09:42 AM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: Boll Weevil]
redblood
16 Point


Registered: 01/22/06
Posts: 15381
Loc: Lewisburg

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i think they are overhyped as well. i also think they can lead to a less skilled, more sedintary (cant ever spell that word)hunter, who develops the pattern of just sitting on the age of a foodplot each hunt. I put out food plots as well, but rarely kill a mature buck in one.
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#3287276 - 07/10/13 09:46 AM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: redblood]
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Mud Dauber
16 Point


Registered: 07/28/10
Posts: 13547
Loc: Tennessee

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 Originally Posted By: redblood
i also think they can lead to a less skilled, more sedintary (cant ever spell that word)hunter, who develops the pattern of just sitting on the age of a foodplot each hunt.


Yep. I agree.
_________________________
It doesn't have to be fun to be fun.

Wild & crazy, can't be stopped. Only the strong will survive.

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#3287340 - 07/10/13 10:32 AM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: Poser]
BlountArrow
10 Point


Registered: 07/13/12
Posts: 2835
Loc: SouthEast Tenn

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I've quoted my local TWRA biologist a few times on here. His opinions are, "Food plots benefit us hunters who like to play in the dirt more than they benefit the deer." I wish earlier on I would have dedicated more efforts to habitat mgt and less focus on planting food plots. I still plant food plots but it's not my main focus. However, right or wrong, I like to hope that maybe just maybe it makes my property a little more appealing to the deer. And, I very, very rarely hunt them for the reason just stated above; I'm just afraid of turning any of my plots into an area of "distrust" for the deer.
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#3287364 - 07/10/13 10:42 AM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: Poser]
landman
10 Point


Registered: 11/15/09
Posts: 2746
Loc: TN & Western KY

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Well there is no "magic Seed" and it seems he tried to plant them,
everything I read tells you it takes a couple of years before deer start using those types of plants.

And everything else he is talking about would be part of a Management Plan take BSK may write out for someone on there land.
Me I plant clover and oats, with a little wheat at times, plus I'm letting a few field edges get dirty for bedding areas, which they have started using. I will continue to plant but I'm talking about
nearly 10% of the land, I also just cut timber for bedding areas and opened up 7-8 acres more now in clover. I have the food, I have the game, no neighbor plants food if any, one or two may have 1 acre in plots. In about 1,800 acres around us we have 700, most of the deer funnel across me to get to crop ground, this fall we will hit close to 55 acres of food plots and cover fields. There adjoining land owners, which all gets hunted mite
have 3-5 acres. Clover is King for me, everything else is no-tilled in.

For me I will continue to plant, guess its what I love to do,
its in my blood from both grandfathers who farmed, maybe I'm a
Stewart of the Land as much as Hunter, that's OK with me.

But food plots are a real part of a wildlife management plan,
could be this guy doesn't know squat about planting, could be his
place didn't need food anyway, my place was know to be a great
hunting tract before I owned it, without food, could be this guy wanted to stir people up. I see it all the time on tracts of land that I show, list and sell, the little plots aren't cutting it or making a difference, but some are DEADLY.

Me, you know I'll be on my tractors again when time comes

LandMan
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#3287401 - 07/10/13 11:17 AM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: landman]
smstone22
16 Point


Registered: 01/11/04
Posts: 16954
Loc: Allardt, TN

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In my situation, I don't feel its wasted. In an area with 90% hardwoods, food plots provide a definite niche for high quality forage for a variety of wildlife. The key is that plots are just a part of an overall habitat management plan. You also have to encourage natural browse, etc, etc. My plots have done more for turkey on my property than anything really. Im in an area with a very low deer density( I can grow less than 1 acre soybean plots with no protection), prior to purchase and during the first year, I literally had only 2 bucks using the whole place that I knew about through camera survey. Now I hit 10-15 bucks every year moving through, how much of that is related directly to food plots? I don't know but it definitely has made a difference. As for turkey, the first couple of years I owned that place, I was very lucky to even hear a gobble in the vicinity of my place and that was just early in the year, those would leave come Mid-April with green up. Now I have 8-12 gobblers hanging around every Spring, all Spring and actually feel comfortable taking a few. I don't deer hunt my plots simply because the deer wise up to that very fast, and mature bucks just don't cruise through them very often in the daylight, it just wouldn't be an effective way of hunting mature bucks in my situation.

Anyway, I too will be on the ATV and tractor planting yet again this Fall because I really enjoy doing the work, and I really enjoy seeing the benefits.
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#3287414 - 07/10/13 11:28 AM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: smstone22]
redheadshooter
6 Point


Registered: 12/24/11
Posts: 796
Loc: Here

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 Originally Posted By: smstone22
In my situation, I don't feel its wasted. In an area with 90% hardwoods, food plots provide a definite niche for high quality forage for a variety of wildlife. The key is that plots are just a part of an overall habitat management plan. You also have to encourage natural browse, etc, etc. My plots have done more for turkey on my property than anything really. Im in an area with a very low deer density( I can grow less than 1 acre soybean plots with no protection), prior to purchase and during the first year, I literally had only 2 bucks using the whole place that I knew about through camera survey. Now I hit 10-15 bucks every year moving through, how much of that is related directly to food plots? I don't know but it definitely has made a difference. As for turkey, the first couple of years I owned that place, I was very lucky to even hear a gobble in the vicinity of my place and that was just early in the year, those would leave come Mid-April with green up. Now I have 8-12 gobblers hanging around every Spring, all Spring and actually feel comfortable taking a few. I don't deer hunt my plots simply because the deer wise up to that very fast, and mature bucks just don't cruise through them very often in the daylight, it just wouldn't be an effective way of hunting mature bucks in my situation.

Anyway, I too will be on the ATV and tractor planting yet again this Fall because I really enjoy doing the work, and I really enjoy seeing the benefits.


I completely agree. I feel like your habitat depends on whether it was wasted or not. I have hardwoods and roads. No crops for miles. Food plots are beneficial to ALL involved in this situation.
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#3287438 - 07/10/13 11:51 AM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: redheadshooter]
Good time Charlie
TnDeer Old Timer
14 Point


Registered: 10/08/99
Posts: 7789
Loc: Tazewell

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I just let mother nature take care of things ..I do not know this for certain ..but I bet deer frequent a growed up field as much as a food plot.I know they are more secure and feel safer.
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#3287449 - 07/10/13 12:04 PM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: Good time Charlie]
Football Hunter
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Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 25536
Loc: Wilson Co/Perry Co

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Nope.especially late season,easy way for me to thin does if I choose,and not neccesarily sitting right on them,I rarely do that.
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#3287497 - 07/10/13 12:46 PM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: BSK]
Wes Parrish
16 Point


Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 19470
Loc: Knoxville-Dover-Union City, TN

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 Originally Posted By: BSK
"And, in my personal experiences, food plots are as overhyped as a Tom Cruise movie."

I've been saying this for years.

x 2

 Originally Posted By: BSK
On a priority list of time and expenditures for managing a deer hunting property, I would place food plots low on the list.

While I agree on a personal level, this is not necessarily the case in terms of managing a hunting club, as most club members are "expecting" some pretty food plots, and "believing" much of the hype about them.

What I'm saying is that many hunt clubs are "happier" having some food plots vs. no food plots, never mind the outcome in the deer management might be better should those funds spent on cultivated food plots simply not be spent. In many clubs, not having the expense of cultivated food plots could allow the club to operate with fewer members, i.e. resulting in better ongoing buck age structure (fewer members killing fewer bucks). As an absolute choice, I'd prefer more older bucks instead of food plots.

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#3287519 - 07/10/13 01:08 PM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: Good time Charlie]
MUP
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Registered: 08/01/07
Posts: 46480
Loc: Just North of Chatt-town

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 Originally Posted By: Good time Charlie
I just let mother nature take care of things ..I do not know this for certain ..but I bet deer frequent a growed up field as much as a food plot.I know they are more secure and feel safer.


Same here...just wish I had a grown up field tho. All wooded on my place.
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MUP

Amateurs: Built the Ark

Professionals: Built the Titanic

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#3287527 - 07/10/13 01:11 PM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: Boll Weevil]
Wes Parrish
16 Point


Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 19470
Loc: Knoxville-Dover-Union City, TN

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 Originally Posted By: Boll Weevil
. . . . the benefit (assumed of cultivated food plots?) to an overall wildlife management plan seems pretty different in my mind. For me, manipulating and improving native groceries + providing food, edge, in the right size/location, etc does great things for all sorts of wildlife big and small alike.
. . . . will certainly continue to plant going forward.

Couple thoughts here:

1) "In my mind" --- I really think we hunters have been conditioned by seed sellers (ATV sellers, tractor sellers, equiptment sellers) to think planting stuff matters more than it really matters. It is more "in our minds" than in reality.

2) Yet, it is NOT a contradiction to believe that "manipulating and improving native groceries + providing food, edge, in the right size/location, etc does great things for all sorts of wildlife big and small alike."

What I'm saying is that "cultivating & planting" are the most costly ways of "manipulating and improving native groceries". I'm speaking in general terms, and know there are specific circumstances which are exceptions. Meanwhile, most landowners believe their circumstances are the exceptions.

Generally speaking, for both one's time and his money, you will get more bang for your buck by simply altering the habitat so that more sunlight hits the ground. (Of course, you wouldn't want to clear-cut nor mow 100% of your land, everything should be done in a certain balance.)

For many, this simply means if you spent about 90% of the time & money you spend on cultivating & planting food plots, instead, that time and money on mowing and liming ---- Mother Nature would generally provide you greater forage benefits to the wildlife than you were providing by what you plant. Put in monetary terms, 40 hours of personal labor + $400 of cash = more forage gain all spent on mowing (and/or liming) a relatively large acreage vs. planting food plots on a relatively small acreage.

That said, I'm not opposed to food plots, and do spend lots of time and money on them personally each year. Just saying they are relatively expensive and not as great a benefit as most people seem to think.

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#3287538 - 07/10/13 01:18 PM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: Wes Parrish]
MUP
Non-Typical


Registered: 08/01/07
Posts: 46480
Loc: Just North of Chatt-town

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Good post Wes.
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Amateurs: Built the Ark

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#3287546 - 07/10/13 01:30 PM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: Wes Parrish]
Boll Weevil
8 Point


Registered: 06/26/11
Posts: 1332
Loc: Hardeman

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 Originally Posted By: Wes Parrish
Generally speaking, for both one's time and his money, you will get more bang for your buck by simply altering the habitat so that more sunlight hits the ground.

Yep; this activity alone is probably the greatest consumer of my resources (esp. time, sweat, and sore muscles) rather than planting/maintaining plots. It's definitely laborious, time-consuming work but I'm completely sold on both the habitat and economic benefits.

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#3287558 - 07/10/13 01:39 PM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: MUP]
BSK
Jerkasourous of the non-typical kind
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Registered: 03/11/99
Posts: 65979
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Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying food plots are worthless. As I previously stated, in some circumstances food plots can be a powerful management tool.

What I'm saying is, the value of food plots has been incredibly overhyped, especially on TV hunting shows and in hunting magazines.

I place food plots low on a management priority list because manipulation of the habitat to produce NATURAL food sources is far, FAR more important than planting a couple of small food plots. Nature designed deer as weed eaters. In summer, many native weeds can be as nutritious and digestible as soybeans. And these weeds are naturally drought resistant and don't have to be planted or limed or fertilized (although lime and fertilizer will grow more, bigger, and better weeds!).

Of course, everything comes down to a matter of scale. For the average hunter who wants to plant a couple of 1/2-acre food plots, how much are those small plots really doing? Not much. Now on a scale like landman is talking about--tens of acres of food plots equaling 10% of a property--that's a whole different ballgame. Of course, even in that scenario, I would want three times as much acreage in natural food sources as food plot. Food plots can fail for a wide number of reasons. The natural habitat is extremely resilient and rarely if ever fails.

As a side note, also read the article in question closely. One of the author's main points is that, for many hunters, a lack of security cover is usually far more of a problem than a lack of food. I agree with this. I see an awful lot of money/effort being throw at "food" through food plots, and not much money/effort being thrown at a much more important factor from a hunting perspective, and that is security cover.
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#3287580 - 07/10/13 02:00 PM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: MUP]
Football Hunter
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Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 25536
Loc: Wilson Co/Perry Co

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 Originally Posted By: MUP
 Originally Posted By: Good time Charlie
I just let mother nature take care of things ..I do not know this for certain ..but I bet deer frequent a growed up field as much as a food plot.I know they are more secure and feel safer.


Same here...just wish I had a grown up field tho. All wooded on my place.
That's a GREAT idea,unfortunatly,at least in my area,a field left to "mother nature",would mostly be invasive grasses,especially Johnson grass.

I would love to have a field full of beneficial weeds,just doesn't happen around my place,mostly invasives,that deer don't eat.
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#3287582 - 07/10/13 02:01 PM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: BSK]
Wes Parrish
16 Point


Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 19470
Loc: Knoxville-Dover-Union City, TN

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Superb post, BSK! \:\)

 Originally Posted By: BSK
. . . . . the value of food plots has been incredibly overhyped, especially on TV hunting shows and in hunting magazines.

I place food plots low on a management priority list because manipulation of the habitat to produce NATURAL food sources is far, FAR more important than planting a couple of small food plots. Nature designed deer as weed eaters. In summer, many native weeds can be as nutritious and digestible as soybeans. And these weeds are naturally drought resistant and don't have to be planted or limed or fertilized (although lime and fertilizer will grow more, bigger, and better weeds!).


BSK was the first manager to bring to my attention that deer commonly prefer native wild ragweed over my cultivated, lush clover plots.

Ragweed is but one example of a native forb (particular broadleaf weed that deer value). Where these native forbs trump most things we might "plant" is with their diversity and ability to flourish under unpredictable upcoming weather. Will the summer be dry or wet? While we might plant only a single species or small mixture of seeds, nature has more variety, some of which will be continuously "peaking".

Often, all we have to do is mow & disturb the ground to cause an increase in the growth of native forbs, ragweed being a great example in Tennessee.

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#3287584 - 07/10/13 02:02 PM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: BSK]
Football Hunter
Non-Typical


Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 25536
Loc: Wilson Co/Perry Co

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 Originally Posted By: BSK
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying food plots are worthless. As I previously stated, in some circumstances food plots can be a powerful management tool.

What I'm saying is, the value of food plots has been incredibly overhyped, especially on TV hunting shows and in hunting magazines.

I place food plots low on a management priority list because manipulation of the habitat to produce NATURAL food sources is far, FAR more important than planting a couple of small food plots. Nature designed deer as weed eaters. In summer, many native weeds can be as nutritious and digestible as soybeans. And these weeds are naturally drought resistant and don't have to be planted or limed or fertilized (although lime and fertilizer will grow more, bigger, and better weeds!).

Of course, everything comes down to a matter of scale. For the average hunter who wants to plant a couple of 1/2-acre food plots, how much are those small plots really doing? Not much. Now on a scale like landman is talking about--tens of acres of food plots equaling 10% of a property--that's a whole different ballgame. Of course, even in that scenario, I would want three times as much acreage in natural food sources as food plot. Food plots can fail for a wide number of reasons. The natural habitat is extremely resilient and rarely if ever fails.

As a side note, also read the article in question closely. One of the author's main points is that, for many hunters, a lack of security cover is usually far more of a problem than a lack of food. I agree with this. I see an awful lot of money/effort being throw at "food" through food plots, and not much money/effort being thrown at a much more important factor from a hunting perspective, and that is security cover.
I agree with you about security cover,and downing all the Beech trees this winter should help with cover and natural browse I hope.
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You wont know,if you dont go!


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#3287643 - 07/10/13 03:20 PM Re: Are you wasting $ on food plots? [Re: Football Hunter]
landman
10 Point


Registered: 11/15/09
Posts: 2746
Loc: TN & Western KY

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 Originally Posted By: Football Hunter
 Originally Posted By: BSK
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying food plots are worthless. As I previously stated, in some circumstances food plots can be a powerful management tool.

What I'm saying is, the value of food plots has been incredibly overhyped, especially on TV hunting shows and in hunting magazines.

I place food plots low on a management priority list because manipulation of the habitat to produce NATURAL food sources is far, FAR more important than planting a couple of small food plots. Nature designed deer as weed eaters. In summer, many native weeds can be as nutritious and digestible as soybeans. And these weeds are naturally drought resistant and don't have to be planted or limed or fertilized (although lime and fertilizer will grow more, bigger, and better weeds!).

Of course, everything comes down to a matter of scale. For the average hunter who wants to plant a couple of 1/2-acre food plots, how much are those small plots really doing? Not much. Now on a scale like landman is talking about--tens of acres of food plots equaling 10% of a property--that's a whole different ballgame. Of course, even in that scenario, I would want three times as much acreage in natural food sources as food plot. Food plots can fail for a wide number of reasons. The natural habitat is extremely resilient and rarely if ever fails.

As a side note, also read the article in question closely. One of the author's main points is that, for many hunters, a lack of security cover is usually far more of a problem than a lack of food. I agree with this. I see an awful lot of money/effort being throw at "food" through food plots, and not much money/effort being thrown at a much more important factor from a hunting perspective, and that is security cover.
I agree with you about security cover,and downing all the Beech trees this winter should help with cover and natural browse I hope.



This was one of the main reasons I cut open hardwoods, too create more bedding cover and keep as many deer from crossing the road to other tracts that have poor timber stands but cover.
My place was mostly hardwoods when I got it. Have created 50 acres of open ground, Hopefully another 100 acres will be select
cut next year
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