Pressured food plots


I just watched Jeff Sturgis' new video on food plots. When you boil it down, isn't he just saying that pressuring your food plots has negative consequences and planting summer plots in the northern half of the country does more harm than good?

5 Reasons You Shouldn't Plant a Food Plot AND 1 Reason You Should

Yes, that is what he is saying. I hunt as far from my plots as I can get. Haven't sat on a plot or ag field in a very long time. My plot hunting was very much like he described.

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Is it just me, or are a majority of big name habitat guys going anti-food plot lately? My experience and (humble opinion) is that hunting a food plot is like hunting any other stand, ingress and egress very carefully or you will burn it out very quick. A good clover plot can supply more cheap tonnage of high protein deer feed than those experts even dream about in their new baby, early successional habitat areas. That being said, ESH is a great compliment to a food plot, to bring balance to the menu. But every hunter that I hunt with hunts closer to food plots rather than farther away if given the choice.
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I’m with Baker. I plant plots with the main goal of improving the health of the deer herd, followed by holding deer on the property. I don’t expect to shoot a mature buck over one of my plots, but I hope to hold them on the property with them.

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I couldn't finish the video. Made me want to go clear and plant more plots. Maybe his recommendations make sense in Waupaca County.

I think the number 1 reason for plots is to raise the nutritional plane for the deer.


spring cover crops are an integral piece of the strategy to improve soil health for fall plantings

I guess I am going to be an odd man out as I agree with part of what he is saying...there is no agriculture anywhere near any of our places and mostly everything is just woods with some cattle pastures here and there so summertime food plots attract and hold deer here so I hope to have something growing during the summer.

The first “fall” we were on our place the plot was amazing with big deer using it daily. I never killed a deer on it but saw many when I was accessing the property. The next fall was a bit less, the next even less, and this 5th fall I have seen the least amount of big deer movement in daylight than I ever have and having said that I haven’t sat a stand on the food plot 15 times total in 5 years...none of my neighbors have plots.

Oddly enough a feeder well back in the woods has daytime deer and buck activity most every day and I have hunted near it I would say 75% of the time and I consistently have deer there. Move the feeder to an opening and sightings drop to zero...
Two different aspects of food plots many don’t think about. One is the food part and the second is cover. This is where The early successional growth comes in. Acre for acre the ESG area will have more readily consumed food for a deer. Remember a food plot is just a supplement to their diet which is still mainly gathered from your hunting area. One last point, cover will hold deer, a food plot not so much.

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The deer feel much more secure in the wood lot setting in daylight. Pressure and cover figure into what happens to your hunting situation. I watch all of Bill Winke's videos (Iowa Deer = Big Bucks) and I am impressed at how hard they work on getting to and from their plots without spooking deer. He has an advantage - many of his plots are large ag beans & corn.

I hope Smallplot is spot on - cover is what holds them. Our developing hunting plan is leave the hollows for the deer and the food plots on the ridges. The farm was logged two years ago. We will have 3 larger plots (2 acres) and 11 or 12 smaller plots (1/4 to 1 acre in woodlots).

Sturgis is well respected in part of the deer world. In watching his video I got the impression he is telling hunters the mistakes to avoid with food plot usage.

Baker is correct about the food plane - without great nutritional you can't have great bucks. The best habitat situations provide the best food all year long.

I am always trying to learn something new or figure something out, on our properties. I can't even tell you where the nearest AG field is and the closest we have is pasture. We are on pine properties. The county we have our properties (5), it is a QDM county, where you have to have a minimum of 4 points on one side.

Our main property, with a cabin, which is 400 acres, does see way too much year round traffic/pressure than I care for, but it is what it is. But it's a club, with fishing ponds, ducks, geese, quail and dove and ........ so we enjoy it and use it.

Our neighbors have 300 acres, right across the dirt road.

We have thick cover, they have thick cover.
We have acorns, honeysuckle, blackberries. They have acorns, honeysuckle and blackberries. (aside from other browse)
We have 8 acres of food plots, they probably have 2.
We have perennial clover plots, annual grain/clover/brassica plots, fruit trees. They spend a lot less on theirs and mainly annual plots.
We have cut roads and trails and so do they.
We have feeders, they have feeders.

This year, on that property we took 12 deer. 50/50 bucks and does and we are becoming more selective on what is killed. All but a couple were taken on food plots and that is an average year for us.
Our neighbors have always been less selective and they have taken 3 this year. One buck. About the same as they took last year.

Since we've improved our property, over the last 10 years, the average buck weight has gone up by 28%. With trail camera photo's we have a good idea which bucks stay on our property. Some of the bucks we've killed have definitely been drawn in from other properties, within 1/2 mile.

We hold more year round deer on our property than maybe they do? Food plots for me, are the difference.
Mostly depends on the area of the country and the pressure and type of pressure is present. If you going to kill a true mature deer here, hunting fields is going to give a lot of wasted time. They do show sometimes, no doubt but not very often. Here, you best be at least couple hundred yards off the plot unless you have a good spotlight. My mature bucks cross my property in 3 places 90% of the time. They are indeed scent checking or headed to one of plots but enter only after dark usually. Of course they maybe do that just to make me sweat getting them off the mountain.
I'd be more apt to read/listen to Steve B and his recent posts of tracks in the snow in relation to his prime food plots.
I may be the odd man out here, but when I was hunting plots it didn't matter how careful I was... I was bumping deer. I bumped deer if I went in before daylight. I bumped deer that were still in the field after sunset. I bumped deer that were coming and going to the plot due to swirling winds (trees bordering flat ground that creates an eddy). I got ok at hunting plots but mature bucks invariably went nocturnal. Now that I hunt a mile from my plots I have daylight mature buck sightings quite often. While I seldom watch these deer guys's video's I can agree with much of what I saw in this video.

I have no clue about the nutritional affects of plots in the northern states. My plots are all about nutrition, and giving a destination so that I can hunt the routes to and from them.
On my farmI don't let anyone hunt in the woods. All hunting is done from box blinds either on food plots or road right of ways. This for several reasons. I want the hunters to have a calm deer standing still and in easy range with a good rest. We don't shoot bucks till they are at least 3 but preferably 4 or older so being in a stand allows much better look at a deer to assess that criteria. We have trail cam pics of many 'hit list bucks' so being in a box on a field allows much better identification. This is a much better situation for young hunters to be escorted by an adult; a practice very common on the farm. Also creates a great teaching tool for the young hunters as they get to see the deer interacting ...bucks/does, different age classes of deer , chasing, scrapping, rubbing, fighting etc.

I have numerous plots on the farm some large, some smaller 'hunting plots'. Blinds are all carefully placed allowing easy access in/out. Hunters are instructed not to jump out of the stand if something is shot so as not to educate the deer. If there are deer around the stand at dark frequently we get someone to drive by to run deer off before getting out of stand.The big picture is caution around educating deer to hunters in blind.

Two more caveats: I'm the only one that gets to hunt the woods....owners privilege . And its a blast. I allow essentially no archery except for does . Work too hard growing mature bucks to take a chance with archery.