Adam Keith: I think it’s one of those things to where let’s boil it down to the root of this of saying, “Okay, here’s my best pitch for you of why should you plant a food plot,” or you’re weighing that out in your head and you say, “Okay, how much money are you willing to spend? Because to actually have a successful food plot, one that’s beneficial and your work is actually rewarded, it’s going to take this amount of dollars.” And if they’re like, “I don’t know if I have that…if I’ve set aside that much,” well, then we can take what you do have set aside and do something probably just as beneficial.
Bruce: And so that… You know, and we’ve been talking about the land management plan. And sometimes the native browse and forbs and everything you have on your property today, enhance it and that will be bettering the food plot. Now don’t yell at me, X, Y, Z seed companies, for saying that, but that’s the truth.
Adam: Well, let’s look at it like this, Bruce. When did food plots originate? And maybe it was 30 years ago. Okay, 30 years ago, what were the deer surviving on before that? Well, then let’s go back before we introduced things like alfalfa and soybeans and say, okay, deer were doing just fine before we settled America. I mean they were here, it wasn’t like we introduced them, and then we had to provide food plots so they could survive. They were doing just fine without us.
So how do we replicate what was going on during that time frame, and then use food plots to our advantage? So basically for us it’s, okay, if we replicate nature pre-settlement and what was going on before we moved in, if you will, a lot of the things that were there, you look at it, Great Plains comes to mind, there was diversity, it wasn’t just native grass, it was all kinds of wildflowers and forbs. So there was tons of food. We had approximately 75 million buffalo living here in North America, that’s a lot…I mean that’s a lot of forage to have to just feed the buffalo. And then there was an estimated about 15 million elk. And then there was all the whitetail deer.
So there was plenty of food available without any food plots, but the problem is now we don’t have that same type of habitat. So replicating that habitat by a lot of prescribed fire, opening up the canopy and getting back to woodlands and savannas to where you have this undergrowth, managed with prescribed fire to where you have food available year-round, and then you can add the food plots on top of that. And for us food plots come in as a hunting destination or a way to pattern deer. So maybe you’re not hunting on the podcast, I think this was the first segment, maybe you’re hunting off of it, but you still have a more consistent pattern of deer going to and from, and a specific area.
Bruce: And, you know, all through this whole series I’ve been talking about transition plots, I call them kill plots, because I just want that buck to stop, I want that doe to stop.
Adam: That’s right.
Bruce: And between bedding and where they’re going to feed I want them just to stop. And they do that anyway. If you… Here’s one thing I would challenge everybody to do this year. Go out to your favorite place, play the wind, just as if you’re going to hunt. Leave your bow at home, take your camera. And just watch how deer move through the woods. You’re not going to kill them, you’re just going to sit there and watch. And just watch how they move. Because, unless chased, you know, they don’t gallop or run through the woods, they just kind of mosey and they slip their toe underneath the leave and they do this and they much here and have a munch here. And that’s what they do. And so many times we don’t get that.
And so 365, you know, food plots, my idea of small food plots is simply you’re going to get them to come along their trail in a little opening or whatever, and then they’re just going to stop for a munch. Well, if everything works out right, you might get a shot, then again you might not.
Adam: That’s right, that’s right. And I think an analogy we used with one of our clients, our consultant clients, a while back was when you’re hunting those little small food plots, they’re not destination food plots to where deer aren’t going to come in an hour before dark, and then stand in it all night long. They’re going to come in an hour or half hour or 20 minutes before dark, they’re going to grab a few bites, they’re going to stop and take a few bites, but they’re going to keep on walking and get where they’re going.
So you’re hunting an animal in their hallway rather than hunting them in the kitchen. The problem with hunting them in their kitchen or destination area is they’re standing in that food plot when you have to climb down and get out of there, so there’s a better chance or a high risk of spooking them. If you hunt them in the hallway, they’re just passing through. And you see them, you can shoot them or not, or pass them, take photos, and then they’re going on about their business and you’re walking out and they’re never even knowing you’re in the world.
Bruce: Because bucks do have, you know, staging areas. You know, we’re not going to get into that, that’s hunting techniques and that type of stuff. But 365, so in January what the heck do I want to make sure is on the ground or available, you know, for my deer? They come out of the rut, the does are bred, a lot of things are going on and everybody is stressed. I mean it was a tough, you know, New Year’s Eve.
Adam: That’s right. Yeah, that’s right. So from a native standpoint, the natural food available, you want to make sure you have young forests, some browse available. So that could be in the form of [Inaudible 00:06:33] sprouts, young trees growing, there’s little buds everywhere. Maybe you want to go out and…this is a technique we use during January of going out and cutting some trees down that have already started budding or forming buds, so dogwoods come to mind, hickories come to mind, some oaks. They’ve already started, even sassafras, started putting on little-bitty buds to where that’s a great food source, but chances are it’s too high for the deer to reach. So you cut those trees down, now you’ve made it available. If it’s still hunting season, you can hang a stand, then cut the trees, go in there and hunt it that afternoon or next day and probably catch deer coming in there to feed on that.
So during January, February you want to make sure you have plenty of browse available. And that’s not the form of forbs and things like that, it’s probably more in the form of young forest.
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