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Food plot/feeders vs natural land?
Food Plots
Messages posted to thread:
EmbryOklahoma 20-Sep-17
GF 20-Sep-17
Reid 20-Sep-17
Ambush 20-Sep-17
EmbryOklahoma 20-Sep-17
kellyharris 20-Sep-17
PushCoArcher 20-Sep-17
EmbryOklahoma 21-Sep-17
GF 21-Sep-17
PushCoArcher 21-Sep-17
EmbryOklahoma 21-Sep-17
Pat Lefemine 21-Sep-17
drycreek 21-Sep-17
rodb 21-Sep-17
Michael Schwister 21-Sep-17
WV Mountaineer 21-Sep-17
Shawn 21-Sep-17
MK111 21-Sep-17
BigOk 21-Sep-17
Habitat for Wildlife 21-Sep-17
drycreek 21-Sep-17
Fuzzy 21-Sep-17
GF 21-Sep-17
EmbryOklahoma 21-Sep-17
Thornton 21-Sep-17
Habitat for Wildlife 21-Sep-17
Grubby 22-Sep-17
Genesis 22-Sep-17
GF 22-Sep-17
Habitat for Wildlife 22-Sep-17
Franzen 22-Sep-17
EmbryOklahoma 22-Sep-17
Grubby 22-Sep-17
Genesis 22-Sep-17
XMan 23-Sep-17


Date:20-Sep-17

Let's say you have 1000 acres next to another 1000 acres... for this example all things are equal, terrain, amount of hunters, creeks, fields to woods ratio (60% woods - 40% fields), lots of acorns on both... etc.

One of the 1k acres is riddled with food plots (winter wheat) and also corn feeders for every 200 acres. Stands/cameras are put up yearly as well.

The other 1k acres is left natural and only touched to put stands up and occasional cameras. Fields are left untouched, overgrown.

Which would the deer prefer and inhabit the most, in your opinion?

By: GF
Date:20-Sep-17

Who cares?

The untouched parcel will hold way more deer than I'd ever know what to do with and it'd be WAAAY more fun to figure out.

By: Reid
Date:20-Sep-17

Deer will bed on the untouched parcel and transition to the food to eat mostly in the dark. I don't see how this isn't like most hunting properties.

By: Ambush
Date:20-Sep-17

Animals are like people

They go for the "All You Can Eat" and easy pickings.

Date:20-Sep-17

GF... "who cares"? I do, that's why I asked.

Date:20-Sep-17

Ask Jack Harris this is identical to my situation last year!

Me and my dad don't bait and Jack saw one buck his first morning and that was it!

I hunted 6 days and didn't see a deer my neighbor who has a 2 acre plot and 4 feeders on 188 acres saw over 15 deer a day!!!!

Deer can be easily conditioned

Date:20-Sep-17

If they both have the same amount of cover and water then the place with more food should hold more deer.

Date:21-Sep-17

Push... which place holds more "food"?

By: GF
Date:21-Sep-17

Embry -

Here's the thing: there is a continuum that runs from Virgin Wilderness to Feedlot, and every last one of us hunts a place that fits along there somewhere.

JMO, the heavily "managed" plot you described is far too close to feedlot for it to provide me with much enjoyment or satisfaction, so you can keep it.

But do invite me over if you need a few does cropped off. Hunting The Hard Way is even more fun on a full stomach.

Date:21-Sep-17

I would say the property that had plots and corn. I would assume the property would also have it's fair share of natural forbs, nuts, and fruits with the addition of feeders and plots I would think that would mean more food plus a greater variety. Pressure would be another factor to look at but from personal experience I can say deer become fairly accustomed to human activity associated with running cams, hanging stands, filling feeders, and tending plots all things that can be done with fairly low impact if planned properly.

Date:21-Sep-17

My question came about from Nutrionist' thread about weeds. This, in no way, is a jab at anyone and how they hunt. I'm curious to opinions of others.

Date:21-Sep-17

Here's my opinion on this topic. It's a great question.

A properly managed property will provide both food and security. Deer, particularly mature bucks, must have both. So if you're property has the best food, but it is like Times Square in NYC, you might as well hunt the acreage that is undisturbed because all activity will be nocturnal. A well designed property will have a mix of food plots and sanctuary areas for security. At any given time I have no more than 3 people hunting my 310 acre farm. Most of the time it is just me. And nobody goes into my 100 acre sanctuary unless it's to retrieve a wounded deer. In early season I hunt the edges of the plots themselves, but during the rut I primarily hunt the transition between my plots and the sanctuary.

My habitat goals are to attract and retain deer on my property. With more emphasis on the 'retain' part. That requires discipline since it's tempting to run all over the place disturbing everything.

Date:21-Sep-17

EmbryOk

There are two bars across the street from each other. One is populated with dirty legs and serves cheap beer. The other is filled with pretty girls and good beer. Which one ya going to ? :-)

Hint: The pretty girls are gonna hang out where the good beer is !

By: rodb
Date:21-Sep-17

Let's take the last comment a little farther. If there are more girls where the good beer is where do you think the boys are going to go? During the rut the boys could care less about the good beer, they're there for the GIRLS! Also, during the rut you could have the best sanctuary in the world but if there are no girls there I'm betting the boys are leaving for where the girls are.

But like Pat said having sanctuaries close to feeding areas is huge. The boys visit the bar, find a girl and take her to the bedroom nearby. PERFECT!

Date:21-Sep-17

In 2005 I purchased a property that was natural and pretty much untouched for 50 years (prior to 1950 the land was grazed by livestock and hayed). The first couple years I had a couple doe sightings and couple buck sightings each year. I think the resident herd was 2 bucks and a few does that ocassionally bedded in the area, and went elsewhere to feed and breed. I logged, put in food plots, cleared stumps, limed, fertisled, pulled stumps, hinge cut trees, bushogged, put in an orchard, planted osage (for bows) and oaks (for deer) and essentially continued to improve the habitat. this year I have pictures of 27 different bucks.......they bed in the sancutaries I made and feed in the food plots. Last year I shot a 6 1/2 year old ten point with an osage selfbow that none of my neighbors had every seen alive. He was a complete homebody. Drycreek has the best explanation.

Date:21-Sep-17

I think Pat pretty much summed it. But, here is where I'm different. Because my experiences have been different.

I know deer require a mixture of all to be comfortable. And to prefer a certain area for their living quarters.

The biggest request I get when developing a harvest plan for someone's timber is too improve deer habitat.

This can be a VERY complex situation. Indtead, just remember a deers food preference is determined by chemistry and, species more do than any other variable. And not all species of the same are created equal.

I've done a fair amount of food plotting for these clients and on personal land. What I found out is deer have times they prefer certain foods. And, in order to make your plot attractive to deer in a healthy ecosystem, it has to offer them more than what nature is providing.

In soul that is above limestone, that is hard to do because every element it offers is present in the foliage due to having a neutral PH naturally. However, In an acidic soil, you can make plots a favorite real quick with the right plants and, the minerals you add to make it do well. It simply is offering the deer more than its habitat is.

Some may dismiss this but, that's my theory based on 21 years of experience trying to figure out why plots go untouched in some areas and, get demolished in different soil types.

On my personal land, I'd always ensure to keep a good timber rotation in play to provide a financial return plus keep plenty of browse and security cover available. If my soil had a low pH, I'd definitely clear plots and prefer that. But, in limestone country, I'd let the fields grow up in brush and natural browse. I'd keep a check on them and wouldn't let them convert back to timber. But, I would surely invite the berries, greenbrier, and natural succession back. I'd now them every three years and put that on a rotation too.

I guess I'll finish by saying if you have a neutral soil, plots are going to have a hard time proving their ecological benefit. In acidic soil, they'll attract deer accordingly to the crop you've planted. And, I got no qualms with the ethics of shooting deer over feeders. I just know here, if you intend for big deer to frequent the areas you hunt, you'd better not be hanging feeders. It pushes their panic button. So, there'd be few, if any feeders on my place. God Bless

By: Shawn
Date:21-Sep-17

I say the property with the good plot and feeders holds more deer as long as the have bedding areas they like. Also the girls will be where the food is and that will bring in the boys. I already have this scenario just on a smaller scale. I hunt 135 acre bow only area. The farmer plants some crops but I am not allowed to put in plots or anything. The 140 acres that borders this piece is managed well. Food pkots, soybeans, corn and lots of it left standing. They have the food and same cover they attract and hold most of the deer!!

By: MK111
Date:21-Sep-17

The deer will go to where the best food is. Either change to providing food or hunt the deer in their travel routes to the food. In 1991 I bought my farm and in 21 yrs I never seen over 3 deer in a group at one time. Mostly just 1 deer walking through. 5 yrs ago I took a 3 ac cattle pasture out of service and planted a food plot. I now see up to 16 deer feeding in the plots at one time.My farm adjoins a 110 ac horse hay baling operation with a lot of brush areas. So must pull the deer to my farm. I feel feed the does year around and the bucks will come looking and they sure do.

By: BigOk
Date:21-Sep-17

I would go with the property with the plots and feeder. One corn feeder will attract a lot of deer from other properties , have seen this first hand on small property I hunt.

Date:21-Sep-17

If, and it is a big IF, all other variables you mentioned are the same, my experience is that deer will bed in the unpressured parcel and come to food at night. But, they do leave scent there and travelling bucks during the rut are likely to scent check for does there during daylight, fairly often the middle of the day. So the property will still be productive.

Like others said, I am careful about hunting my 120 acre farm. I do not take folks regularly, and people who do not listen as to how it must be hunted are not invited back. I know that sounds mean, but 120 acres is small in size, but large in expense. I like to share, but only with people who respect my wishes. I do not go into the timber early season, only hunting the edges. Does seem to tolerate farming activities, and I think this helps some what as hunting season progresses. Call me nuts, but I think they recognize the difference in human behavior engaged in hunting type activities versus farming. Being mobile and limiting human activity really seems to help in numbers observed on my parcel.

One thing I believe is not considered often enough when laying out and hunting a property, is what surrounding properties have in the way of habitat and activity. I have only small areas dedicated for sanctuaries given my limited habitat, but the key for me is having winter food and not letting the deer pattern me by hunting the same travel routes from neighboring properties to my food. JMO, hope that helps.

Date:21-Sep-17

Good points made by Habitat ! My place is 217 acres, but we still just hunt the edges .........mostly. I have a creek bottom plot that I love, but experience finally convinced me (I'm hard headed) that I can only hunt it from a box stand with an Ozonics unit. The wind is just too damn squirrelly to hunt from an open stand. It's usually reserved for late season to shoot a doe. This doesn't negate the benefit of the 1.5 acre plot though, as it draws deer from all over the place. Only myself and one friend hunt the place, and I dictate the stands, so that we don't burn it out too quickly.

When I bought this place, I have to admit that I didn't think enough before clearing for plots, etc. I would definitely have done a few things differently, but I was just elated to find it after looking for three years for something I really wanted. My place has lots of creek bottom, so it's hard to bowhunt with confidence in the wind, but I manage to hunt the "high" places and luck into one coming or going.

Ok, back to the bar scene ! I have regular boys hanging out at the bar looking at my pretty girls all summer. Then, something throws a monkey wrench into the works, they all scatter, and the one I usually kill I've never seen before ! Man plans, and God laughs !

By: Fuzzy
Date:21-Sep-17

I was following this pretty good until the beer...

By: GF
Date:21-Sep-17

"... 120 acres is small in size, but large in expense. "

Even larger if you spend a lot of money on feeders and food-plots and all that stuff that makes it possible for the "improved" landscape to support way more deer than you know what to do with.

I'm clearly operating on a vastly different set of priorities.... Not saying "better" - just different.

Date:21-Sep-17

Thank you all for the replys. I appreciate and read them all.

What got me thinking of this, again, was nutritionists thread about weeds. As some of you might know, the place myself and 4 others hunt is around 1200 acres. We have a sanctuary in the center portion that nobody hunts, its around 100 acres. We do hunt points entering/exiting it although. We don't have food plots or feeders going. Mainly due to the amount of pigs and what they will do to a plot, if planted. Also feeders we don't use them and I've just never cared for hunting deer over them.

We have a major creek that runs through us also with many large oaks. The fields are grown up and they aren't hayed because finding someone to mow/hay them is tough to find due to what the hogs have done creating small canyons, everywhere.

We do mow a little every year around the borders of the trees and the deer use these paths like runways. I do wish I could put in plots, but with the hog damage, not happening.

Something keeps the deer on us, and I'm betting it's the amount of browse available, the acorns, and briars and such on the creek bottoms.

WV... I also agree that pressure could definitely skewer the amount of deer one might see.

Good talk guys!

Date:21-Sep-17

Hunting over corn and using cameras is not hunting nor does it require any hunting skills.

Date:21-Sep-17

GF, One of those priorities must be not knowing squat about someone else's property before expressing your opinion.

Baiting is not legal in MO. Habitat improvements are not limited to food, but include cover that benefit all wildlife, game and non-game. Both increase the carrying capacity of the land, but not to a level that we have more than we know what to do with. LOL.

By: Grubby
Date:22-Sep-17

I think the answer to this varies dramatically by geographic area. At my home in Minnesota we have very little contour or any sort of funnels to hunt, couple that with little in the way of desirable forage and it can make for pretty tough hunting. I enjoy food plotting and I supplement feed after season. The food plots make the hunting easier. And both make it easier on the deer herd. Here the benefits are huge. Where I hunt in SW Wisconsin there is food everywhere, both crops and natural food. There is also amazing topography to hunt. I think there would be very little benefit to putting in food plots and even less to hunting over feed.

Date:22-Sep-17

"Hunting over corn and using cameras is not hunting nor does it require any hunting skills."

Some may not think gunning deer down at over 500 yards is either?

I think the undisturbed baited land will hold more deer in daylight hours.

By: GF
Date:22-Sep-17

Frank - doing things the way that you're talking about makes all the sense in the world to me; the kind of stuff that WVMountaineer does, with creating a healthy mosaic of successional stages with all-native flora that provide all kinds of cover & forage and require no pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. Yeah, man - sign me up!

But spending a lot of money on feeders and food plots to create a target-rich environment? Screw that!

Date:22-Sep-17

OK, great. It is not about creating a target rich environment. I am proud that I have had at least one Bald Eagle use my property regularly each winter for at least the last 10 years.

I have had to use some fertilizers since my farm was abused for the previous 40 due to it being cash rented. However, I have just purchased 20 bags of rye grain that will be disced into the soil the beans are coming out of and will be green manured next spring. Most of the money I spend is trying to bring the soil back, and we are making progress. Thanks.

Date:22-Sep-17

If pressure is equally the same yet reasonable, I think the plot property will hold more deer. However, I think there will regularly be a lot of does and young deer with few mature bucks. If the second property is more overgrown, I think the mature bucks would spend most of their time on that one.

If pressure is pretty high, the second property will likely hold more regular deer. Though at some point of pressure, neither property will likely hold a lot of deer, depending on the surrounding properties.

Food is king on lightly pressured ground (except perhaps for mature deer), while security is king with heavy pressure.

Date:22-Sep-17

Good points, Franzen. Pressure is definitely key and the less the amount, I feel, holds more mature bucks.

Grubby.. you are correct about the geography being a large factor. The amount of forage, things deer like to eat even on the undisturbed land is key.

So... do any of you guys think mowing some of the fields helps? We don't mow them all but we do mow around the perimeter of the fields.

By: Grubby
Date:22-Sep-17

Absolutely on the mowing! Mowing makes natural forage far more desirable.

Date:22-Sep-17

Frank,it is exactly about what you are doing.I can't imagine the risk to deer health by using feeders.El Naturale is the healthiest for all concerned.The enjoyment of creating is also off the charts.

By: XMan
Date:23-Sep-17

It depends, if the overgrown area has plenty of cover, mass crops like acorns and apples, water and is unpressured, it could be just as good. The overall habitat can make a considerable difference in holding deer. If the food plotted land with feeders has the habitat, isn't heavily pressured, and has the food, no question it's gonna hold far more deer. Late season, I want to hunt the food plots and feeders no matter what the habitat looks like!


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