By Mark Kenyon
With spring showers coming down and new green growth coming up, it’s officially starting to feel like food plot season. And as we move into this new part of the year I’m revisiting some of my favorite resources from the past on the topic of food plotting to make sure I’m ready to do the best work I can when implementing my own plots.
One of those resources I’ve returned to is an early episode of The Wired To Hunt Podcast in which we interviewed whitetail habitat consultant and 2004 QDMA Deer Manager of the Year Jeff Sturgis. Jeff shared some excellent advice on food plotting in that episode, so today I wanted to share three quick tips from that interview, and then encourage you to listen to that whole podcast if you haven’t yet. So without further adieu, three fast food plot tips from Jeff Sturgis.
1. Nothing should be random: One of the main points that Sturgis makes in this podcast episode (and in his books) is that nothing should be random when planting a food plot. Think through all the pieces of the puzzle and how they’ll effect each-other. Placement of your plot. The forage in your plot. The design of your plot. How your plot might effect deer bedding, how it might effect deer travel, how it might effect your travel. The list goes on and on. Speaking of this topic, be sure to also read “Attention Aspiring Food Plotters, Hold Your Horses.”
2. Avoid the attract/repel effect: Another important point that Jeff often makes is that we need to be careful about the “attract and repel” effect that can occur if we’re not smart about our food plots. The Attract/Repel effect occurs when you plant a plot that attracts deer to it, but you then repel those deer away with your consistent human presence (maybe from hunting there too much, or having to pass it by on the way to stands, etc). Planting a food plot that creates the attract/repel scenario can actually make your overall hunting situation worse, as you’ll educate more deer to your presence, and in this case having no food plot at all would probably be better. Make sure you keep this in mind when planting and then using food plots. If you’re attracting deer, be careful not to then repel them.
3. Diversity within a plot=consistency: Sturgis also preaches the importance of diversity in food plots in order to create consistency in travel. If you’re using food plots to help create travel patterns that you can hunt, it would behoove you to make sure those travel patterns stay relatively consistent throughout the hunting season. If you have three food plots, each in a single forage that are all attractive at different times of the year, you’re going to have deer travel changing all season to hit the current food source of choice. On the other hand, if you have three plots planted with a combination of forages that are attractive throughout the whole season, you can establish a pattern that stays the same. Try using an early season forage like clover or oats, mixed with a late season forage like brassicas, and you’ll be much more likely to see consistent use throughout the season that you can then plan for and hunt more effectively.
If you’d like more great food plot advice from Jeff Sturgis, click the link below to listen to our full podcast interview with him.