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Why Planting A Food Plot Does Not Guarantee You A Deer

Updated on January 23, 2012
Food Plot
Food Plot | Source

We’ve all seen the commercials and ads showing us new and improved food plot products claiming they’ll bring in big deer. But what happens when you plant that food plot and you don’t see any? This is a very real scenario, and something my boyfriend and I have experienced this past year. This hub explains why even though you plant a food plot and follow all of the rules for it, you still may not see or shoot a deer out of the plot.

Whitetail Institute Logo
Whitetail Institute Logo | Source

First off, I will tell you that I live in Central Pennsylvania. The reason I tell you this is because location and deer population will affect your seeing of deer with food plots, or just in the wild in general. For example, you are more likely to see more and bigger bucks in Iowa than in PA, just because there’s more deer there. As I mentioned above, there are advertisers and companies paying tons of money to get their product on the market, claiming they will produce results. I don’t doubt this, in fact, I believe them. I’ve seen successful food plots in action, and I know the producers of those seeds worked really darn hard to make a product the deer will eat. It’s not a lack of effort on their part, it may just be a lack of effort on ours.

White Tailed Deer
White Tailed Deer | Source

Let me explain. Where I hunt, I know there are deer. The reason I know this is because when we spot around the area and even in the fields we overlook, we see herds of deer 20 or more strong, including in the food plot. This is at night you must remember, not during hunting hours. When we take the 4wheeler through the woods or walk through the woods we kick deer out left and right, bucks and does. It’s not lack of deer that we didn’t see any in the food plot. In my opinion, like I said before, it was a lack of our planning, experimenting, and research.

One major argument of a failing food plot is the abundance of other food sources around the area. When planting the food plot, we were sure we were going to see deer just because we planted it. Wrong. We didn’t take into account that there are 6 cornfields and 2 soybean fields within a half mile radius of the food plot, not to mention the other 5-10 crop fields within a 1-2 mile radius. I’m not saying a food plot will fail if there are other food sources, I’m saying it’s a possibility that it kept the deer out of it during the day. Deer like to keep routine until it is interrupted. If they are hitting cornfield A every night at dusk, they will continue to do so until something throws off that routine. Which brings me to my next point: Pressure.

Food Plot Seeds
Food Plot Seeds | Source

The more deer are pressured, the less likely they are to stay in that area. Deer are pressured in many ways. They are pressured by humans when we walk through the woods and they see us. When they are too close to our homes, they are pressured. They are also pressured by other animals. Fox and bear will chase a deer away from their normal routine. They may not always, but it does happen. Those are just a few examples of animals that pressure the deer away from their routine. The weather and food sources will pressure a deer. Not enough food, frigid temperatures, and extreme heat will throw off routine. The rut will throw the routine off for all deer; buck and doe. The extremes bucks go to when trying to get a doe are crazy, and the distance does travel until they are ready to breed is crazy. All of these factors play into pressure, and when deer are pressured enough, they will leave an area and may or may not return. They may also return at a different time. If a deer was pressured out of our food plot area during the day often enough, they may remember not to be there during the day, only at night. This may be our fault as well; entering and exiting the stand overlooking the field. This ties into my next argument: Location.

We’ve all heard the phrase “Location. Location. Location.” This is a key factor in bringing deer into an area. Obviously if you plant in a busy, people infested area, deer will not come around. On the contrary, a well secluded area with cover is much more desirable. As far as location of our food plot, I’d classify it as average. Here’s why: It’s very close to a road; about 50-75 yards away, however it does run down into the woods which provides cover and a source of water. The bush it runs into is not that large, however, it is between 2 cornfields and links up eventually with the mountain which is around a half mile to a mile away. There are houses next to the bush on both sides, but can easily be avoided by the deer. All of these things play into the location, and the food plot we planted doesn’t have everything going for it.

My last argument is the idea of planting the right food. We planted sugar beets. We planted them when we were supposed to, using weed killer, tilling the ground, spreading the seeds, and keeping them watered. We gave them a year and they did not produce at any time during the year. Only 3 deer were even seen in the plot and one was harvested. Experimentation will lead you to find out what food works and what doesn’t.

Looking at all of the facts and factors now, we’ve realized we do need to give it more than a year to be able to figure out what works. We were like many people, going in with the attitude that by planting a food plot, we’d see deer. Hats off to the makers of the products, they are a very reliable food source. It’s now our job to do some research and scouting around to find out what will work in the area we hunt. Good luck!


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