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In Defense of Food Plots: A Response to the Whiners and Bait Bashers

July 01, 2012
In Defense of Food Plots: A Response to the Whiners and Bait Bashers - 34

I recently wrote a blog encouraging hunters and landowners to take a hard look at planting food plots to make up for shortages caused by hard freeze during early spring.

I talked about how most of our soft mast crop had been wiped out on our New York hunting property, and how we would be improving the food production on our existing food plots through a weed control and fertilizing program. Also, we’ll add some additional food plot acreage to make up for a season without apples, pears and other forms of soft (and potentially hard) mast. I posted the article thinking I had done my fellow hunters and the whitetails they hunt a service.

Boy was I surprised when some from the anti-food plot crowd jumped on my case.

It’s been a long time since I have heard from this crowd and I had convinced myself creating habitat to improve hunting was long since “settled law.” I was reminded, in no uncertain terms, that there are still folks out there that equate planting food plots with flag burning and gun control. Their objections cluster around two schools of thought. There are the “bait bashers” who feel that hunting over a food plot is the same thing as hunting over a pile of apples or corn. They argue that no self-respecting hunter hunts over bait. And then there are the “whiners” who argue that growing food plots and creating habitat creates an unfair hunting advantage for those who do vs. those who don’t.

To the bait-bashers…
Sure, I hunt over food plots but I also hunt apple trees, acorn flats and corn and bean fields. Don’t you? I don’t feel even a twinge of guilt when I take a deer while hunting an old apple orchard or acorn flat, or for that matter a field of corn, soybeans or alfalfa. Farmers plant crops to feed livestock or people and I plant them to feed wildlife. I don’t kill many deer on food plots, but it has nothing to do with not trying. There’s a big difference between carrying a pail of doughnuts into the woods to hunt over and planting a 2-acre food plot that will feed wildlife 24-7 year-in-year out. I’ve done both and I know which feels right and which does not. We’re really talking hunting ethics here, something Aldo Leopold would consider to be a matter of individual conscience -- how you feel about what you have done in the field without a gallery to approve or disapprove. I feel nothing but elation when a doe family, rutting buck, a turkey or even a squirrel shows up on one of my food plots. I feel the same way if I manage to kill something when hunting a plot. Spend a weekend planting a food plot sometime then go back to it during hunting season; you’ll feel what I mean.

To the whiners…
I say get over it! Sure food concentrates deer and so does cover and a host of other things. Smart hunters hunt where the deer are and have been doing so since they started walking on two legs. And “yes,” my property holds far more deer than most in my area, especially those properties with no food, cover, and no security. But food plots are only part of the program; I also enhance native vegetation, create cover and hunt low impact and plant food-bearing trees. And so do most of the other food plotters I know. Most would tell you it’s not only about the hunting it’s also about the feeling of well being about doing right -- doing right by the land and doing right for the wildlife that depends on it. 

If it’s about fair, what’s “fair” about owning, and worse, hunting, land that offers nothing to wildlife? I’m talking about green deserts: no food, no cover, no escape from predators. It’s nothing but a bunch of mature trees waiting for harvest.

Frankly, I don’t worry much about those who would rather complain and blame someone else for their lousy hunting.

But I do worry about those who don’t own property and hunt lands they can’t control. Often, it’s up to the state or sometimes federal government to manage the habitat. Many of these areas are poorly managed and are devoid of good deer habitat. Hunters who depend on these areas for their deer hunting opportunities are getting a raw deal for their hard-earned tax dollars. Happily, that is changing in some areas. Some public land managers are blessed with budgets which allow them to aggressively manage wildlife habitat. Still others have figured out how to beat their budgetary woes by involving volunteers to improve habitat and subsequently hunting.

I also sympathize with those who hunt private property where they are not allowed to plant plots or plant trees or create browse or implement any of the dozen or so practices which are known to produce wildlife habitat. In today’s information rich environment, it’s virtually impossible for hunter’s to not be aware of the “good habitat means good hunting” axiom. It’s all about habitat and very frustrating to have your hands tied.

I first learned about food plots in the pages of Outdoor Life magazine in the late 80’s. Tom Fegley wrote an article about how Ray Scott from the Whitetail Institute had developed a special clover for whitetail deer and how planting food plots could improve your deer hunting. The seed was planted! If I didn’t like my hunting situation, (which I didn’t at the time) I could change it. I could take control of my own hunting destiny. It was all about habitat and habitat was something I could control. At the time, I didn’t own land but I did have some influence over the piece I was hunting. I haven’t looked back since.

Needless to say, I am all about creating good habitat to create good hunting. You could even call me a “habitat interventionist.” Wildlife food plots and habitat development have been a big part of our land management for hunting program for almost 20 years. They are also a part of the management program of most of the serious landowner/hunters I know. Since starting our wildlife habitat improvement program (creating food, cover and security) the average weight of the deer we take has gone up 15 percent, our deer sightings have increased 500 percent. We see deer all season long and enjoy deer season more every year (as our hunting continues to improve). 

When it comes to presenting both sides of the “creating habitat for hunting” issue, I’m anything but fair or balanced. You might say I’m even intolerant of the other side. Try as I may, I can’t seem to wrap my head around the anti-food plot crowd’s thinking.

That’s my take. What’s yours?

Comments (34)

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago
from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Thanks for sending your inquiry into the CWD Alliance! Your question is a good one and is also one that has sparked debate among biologists and hunters for many years. To answer plainly, any situation, whether created by natural or artificial means, that causes wild animals to congregate at or regularly revisit a specific location, has the potential to cause an increase in animal to animal contact and environmental contamination that can potentially spread disease and/or parasites. CWD is only one of many diseases that can be spread and propagated through the congregation of animals. There is no doubt that if feed plots were being used in an area where CWD was present in wild populations, the risk of spreading the disease at that site would increase. Based on studies from the University of Michigan, risk of CWD transmission at these sites may be even higher than most diseases since the prions likely responsible for transmitting the disease persist in the soil for several years. These finding have been anecdotally verified at the Colorado Division of Wildlife Research Facility where CWD was first identified. Over the years, repeated attempts at sterilizing the facility and its grounds have failed. Every cervid that has been housed at the facility has contacted the disease seemingly from the environment (likely soil).

To my knowledge, no one is presently conducting a study specifically on feed plots and their potential role in spreading CWD. While such a study would be interesting, the ongoing environmental contamination studies of CWD will likely yield the results needed to help wildlife managers regulate the issues you have identified.

I hope I answered your questions. If not, please don't hesitate to contact me so we can visit further.

Best Regards,

Matt Dunfee

Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance Coordinator

Wildlife Management Institute

Post Office Box 33819

Washington, DC 20033-0819

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

bioguy01 & Craig, I would suggest reading these (2) reports. - "Chronic Wasting Disease and the Science in support of the Ban on Baiting and Feeding Deer." and "A Comprehensive Review of the Ecological and Human Social Effects of Artificial Feeding and Baiting of Wildlife" This information "comes from" a joint project of the Boone and Crockett Club, Mule Deer Foundation, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Please read all 76 pages before drawing any conclusions.

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

Now go to any one of the major food plot seed company websites and see where you can find ANY of the species mentioned in that article in their list of seeds. The lespedezas you mentioned are typically shrubs planted for birds, not deer. Deer browse them, but they aren't usually intended for deer. I mention the Lespedezas used for food plots below. Crown vetch was introduced as a method of erosion control along highways, so you can thank your state highway department for that screw-up. Again, deer will eat crown vetch, but it's not a typical food plot planting. Same deal with Japanese honeysuckle, it was planted as a food source for birds...deer browse it, but people serious about deer food plots hardly know about such species.

People who food plot for deer generally use: clover, brassicas, wheat, rye, oats, corn, soybeans, buckwheat, alphalpha, alyceclover, american jointvetch, birdsfoot trefoil, peas, burgundy beans, hairy vetch, common lespedeza (Kummerowia striata), Korean Lespedeza (Kummerowia stipulacea), lablab, lupines, sweetclover, sorghum, sunflowers, triticale, annual & perennial ryegrass, Timothy grass, chicory, small burnet, and sugar beets. (Quality Food Plots, QDMA)

What was your source for your information?

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

bioguy01: Dr. Kroll is hard to believe now.

Invasive species typically planted for food plots include woody lespedezas (Lespedeza bicolor and L. cuneata) as well as crown vetch (Vicia spp.).

Most of the Southeast’s primary game species (deer, turkey, quail) at one time thrived in natural longleaf pine ecosystems characterized by frequent fire and a diverse native herbaceous and shrub layer. As fire was excluded and longleaf forests were converted to lob or slash plantations, native herbs and shrubs declined. Many landowners became accustomed to planting food plots with species that were promoted by nurseries and biologists. Many of these food plot species were exotic Asian plants that are now identified as highly invasive weeds. This webinar will identify native alternatives that are commercially available and preferred by game species. Furthermore, many native herbs and shrubs are rarely invasive, more attractive on the landscape, and potential food sources for human foragers!

Ecological Threat: In North America, Japanese honeysuckle has few natural enemies which allows it to spread widely and out-compete native plant species. Its evergreen to semi-evergreen nature gives it an added advantage over native species in many areas. Shrubs and young trees can be killed by girdling when vines twist tightly around stems and trunks, cutting off the flow of water through the plant. Dense growths of honeysuckle covering vegetation can gradually kill plants by blocking sunlight from reaching their leaves. Vigorous root competition also helps Japanese honeysuckle spread and displace neighboring native vegetation.

Biology & Spread: Growth and spread of Japanese honeysuckle is through vegetative (plant growth) and sexual (seed) means. It produces long vegetative runners that develop roots where stem and leaf junctions (nodes) come in contact with moist soil. Underground stems (rhizomes) help to establish and spread the plant locally. Long distance dispersal is by birds and other wildlife that readily consume the fruits and defecate the seeds at various distances from the parent plant.

History: Introduced from Japan in the early 1800s. Traditional ornamental, valued as deer browse, with some value for erosion control. Still planted in wildlife food plots.

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

schmakenzie:

"You probably know which doctor in the deer world is presenting these facts."

Sure do! It's Dr. James Kroll. I'll do you one better, I have actually attended a presentation of his where he presented this same information. If you didn't know, Dr. Kroll is heavily invested in Buck Forage Oats (buckforage.com). Oats and brassicas are both popular winter food plot forages. Guess which plot Dr. Kroll would prefer you to plant if you have a choice? Well it ain't brassicas that's for sure! There is surely truth in his presentation and his articles on the subject, but ultimately he's using that information to help promote his product. That being the case, he would have you think brassicas are the worst thing in the world you can plant for a food plot. Based on my experience, brassica food plots have saved WAY more deer than they have killed, and they definitely help to retain herd health.

"since they tend to graze brassicas heavily during winter"

They sure will if there's not a foot and a half of snow covering them. In such cases, standing corn and soybeans make much easier, pickins and deer will graze heavily on these species instead, if they are available.

"Biologists are making reports available that suggest in the winter brassica is sometimes their "only" food source."

And sometimes it is. Dr. Kroll ultimately makes this information available because he uses it to promote Buck Forage Oats, but it is important for food plotters to understand the risks of planting brassicas as well as the benefits. For example, if your hunting property is surrounded by miles and miles of mature forest, and your 5 acre food plot is the only high quality food source in the area...you should avoid planting brassicas, opting for soybeans or standing corn if snows get deep, or a cereal grain and clover mix if snow is not a worry. You should also fell some low-value timber species so deer can supplement their diet with natural browse.

"I am now also finding some very interseting reports showing that "kill plotters" are introducing invasive plant species into different environments and are harming them. I will keep you posted on this."

Please do. I enjoy reading new information. In the mean time, I encourage you to check out the QDMA website to read more about the benefits of habitat manipulation (not just food plotting) for deer and other wildlife species. QDMA.com

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

bioguy01:
"That's a legitimate worry. Some guys do plant what they want, but generally speaking, brassica toxicity is rare. For brassica toxicity to occur large quantities of brassicas need to be about the only food source available in a given area. Basically, deer need to almost exclusively be feeding on brassicas, and that just doesn't happen very often." - Read the whole report. You probably know which doctor in the deer world is presenting these facts. Did you read this sentence in the report? - (since they tend to graze brassicas heavily during winter)Bioguy01 - You said this doesn't happen very often. Biologists are making reports available that suggest in the winter brassica is sometimes their "only" food source. Why is this? Because "kill plotters" are ignorant to the anatomy and well being of the deer. I am now also finding some very interseting reports showing that "kill plotters" are introducing invasive plant species into different environments and are harming them. I will keep you posted on this. I don't want to overstate the facts, but it is looking more and more like this is this case.

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

"My worry is some guys will just plant what they want hurting the herd."

That's a legitimate worry. Some guys do plant what they want, but generally speaking, brassica toxicity is rare. For brassica toxicity to occur large quantities of brassicas need to be about the only food source available in a given area. Basically, deer need to almost exclusively be feeding on brassicas, and that just doesn't happen very often.

"Have you seen the 400" to 500" fenced in garbage deer? Are those deer much more healthy than the rest of the deer."

Generally, yes! Those deer are fed very well! 400-500" inches of bone doesn't grow without some nutritional encouragement. The formula for growing trophy deer is Good Genetics + Good Nutrition + Age (4-6 years) = Big Deer. In a wild herd you cannot control genetics, but age and nutrition you can control by passing up young bucks and providing deer with quality year-round nutrition.

"The term "kill plot" is universal to me. If it is 43560 sq ft or 10 acres, to me it's a "kill plot". I use my own verbage, because I can."

Whatever floats your boat.

"I am not a professional when it comes to "kill plots", however I do have points that people can learn from."

As do I, so I look forward to future discussions.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

"The potential for poisoning is decreased if animals are
encouraged to eat other forages or by using rotation grazing; both
practices not practical with whitetails, since they tend to graze brassicas
heavily during winter." - My worry is some guys will just plant what they want hurting the herd.

"As evidenced by their record keeping of harvested kills, and the trophies on their walls, their herds appear to be in top-notch health. :-)" - The harvested kills may play into the health of the herd, but trophies on the wall is a slippery slope. Have you seen the 400" to 500" fenced in garbage deer? Are those deer much more healthy than the rest of the deer. Deer are not cattle.

The term "kill plot" is universal to me. If it is 43560 sq ft or 10 acres, to me it's a "kill plot". I use my own verbage, because I can. I do understand there are small and large "kill plots", with different purposes in mind.

In your older posts, you did do a lot of generalizing. I am not a professional when it comes to "kill plots", however I do have points that people can learn from.

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

schmakenzie - Lol! That's fine, I don't need your approval to be considered a deer biologist. :-) I already have the approval within the scientific community and among my peers - that's good enough for me.

I am familiar with brassica toxicity. I also know it usually doesn't occur unless the animals are almost EXCLUSIVELY eating brassicas (which the article confirms with this sentence: "Although brassicas have been used for grazing, allowing
animals such as white-tailed deer to consume large quantities can be dangerous."). So we're talking large plots of brassicas (because small "kill plots" - by my definition - won't hold up to browsing for very long) and pretty much nothing else available to eat (which may happen in the winter if other forage, such as other food plot cultivars or browse are not available to supplement the brassicas). I completely agree with the take-home message from the article, "If you use brassicas in your food plot program, you should take care to limit acreage and combine with other plants less toxic to ruminants." Despite this caveat, I know people who have used brassicas as a regular part of their food plot program for years, and the #1 cause of death to their deer is hunter induced lead poisoning. As evidenced by their record keeping of harvested kills, and the trophies on their walls, their herds appear to be in top-notch health. :-)

I don't intend to change your mind about food plots, because it is good to have an opposing view. With all of the benefits of food plots and the commercial industry practically forcing the information upon hunters, it's good to have some precautionary criticisms so that hunters understand both the good and the bad associated with food plots.

For example, you are not completely wrong about food plots being a bad idea in CWD areas, because small plots can concentrate deer in a relatively small area (this tends to happen when deer densities are high and natural food sources are in short supply). However, food plots spread throughout the landscape can actually spread deer out more so they have less chance of contracting the disease. It does not matter if a food source is native or planted, if it concentrates deer in a small area, the disease will spread. For example, a wild apple tree bearing fruit can concentrate deer a lot more than a food plot. During a poor mast year, the few trees that produce acorns will also concentrate deer in a very small area. So although your point has validity, it does not mean that ridding the world of food plots will solve the CWD problem because natural food sources can concentrate deer just as much, if not more than food plots. In fact, planting more and larger food plots throughout CWD areas may be beneficial because it increases the carrying capacity of the landscape (meaning the landscape can better support high densities of deer), gives deer alternative food sources (so deer do not need to solely depend on what mother nature dishes out), and can help spread them out over the landscape as opposed to concentrating them at limited food source areas.

Below I was accused of "generalizing" my arguments promoting food plots. I have planted a lot of food plots, I have read countless peer reviewed journals and magazine articles outlining the pros and cons of food plots, and I have worked with hundreds of people who also plant food plots. I have a pretty good understanding of the food plotting community. If your basing your opinion of food plots and food plotting on a few individuals, some magazine articles, and no experience of your own with food plotting, then who is generalizing?

huntfishtrap - As long as the discussion stays civil (no name calling, etc.), I don't mind a little debate. I think everybody learns a little bit when 2 opposing opinions clash. The important thing to remember is that we are all hunters, we are all entitled to our opinion, and we should respect each others views.

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from huntfishtrap wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

The way I see it, both schmakenzie and bioguy01 make valid points, and both seem qualified to speak on the matter. Guys, maybe you could just agree to disagree, since it seems like neither of you are going to change the others mind?

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from 6phunter wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

DR. OR PROFESSOR SCHMAKENZIE,appears to have his facts in a row.The purpose here is not who has the biggest certification,but to share and divest knowledge,nearly 50 years of deer hunting and I'M still learning.SO whether we agree or not on hunting food plots is intangible,different skills and tactics used are helpful even if we don't use them.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

bioguy01:
Another reason kill plots are bad. How many of us know of people still using turnips? How many other plants are bad for the deer? See what happens? Read this.
In recent years, brassicas (forage turnips, rape, kale, cabbage and fodder
radishes) have become popular, cheap forage plantings for white-tailed
deer food plots. Although brassicas have been used for grazing, allowing
animals such as white-tailed deer to consume large quantities can be
dangerous. These plants often contain large quantities of the alkaloids,
glucosenolates, thioglucosides and SMCO (S-methylcysteine suphoxide),
which are linked to a host of conditions including: poor performance,
hemolytic anemia, goiter, nitrate/nitrite poisoning, rumen stasis (paralysis),
polioencephalomalacia syndrome, bloat, embryonic death, poor
conception, reduced birth weights, tongue extension, excess salivation,
acute respiratory distress resulting in sudden death, blindness and
diarrhea. Glucosinolate concentrations of as little as 0.4% by dry weight is
considered to be toxic. Studies have reported concentrations in the tops
and leaves of kales to be 1.2 to 6.3 grams per kilogram; and, forage rape or
canola to range 2.9 to 11.9 grams per kilogram). Roots of turnips have
concentrations as high or higher than those found in leaves and stems.
The toxic dose of SMCO is 15 grams per 100 kilograms (fatal anemia) and
10 grams per 100 kilograms (low grade anemia). Concentrations of these
chemicals are reported to increase immediate after a drought and frost
conditions. The potential for poisoning is decreased if animals are
encouraged to eat other forages or by using rotation grazing; both
practices not practical with whitetails, since they tend to graze brassicas
heavily during winter. If you use brassicas in your food plot program, you
should take care to limit acreage and combine with other plants less toxic
to ruminants.
For more information

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

bioguy01,

I like the effort. Why bring up the wildlife biologist certificaion? We all know this exists.

Tell me about the deer biologist certification. Oh wait, this does not exist. This does not exist in the university or at any state level.

My point is this. Anyone that has a bachelors degree in science/biology/wildlife related field and has had (any number I guess?) years of experience with deer can call themselves a deer biologist. There is not a proven method to becoming a deer biologist. It does not exist.

Call yourself what you like, but I do not consider you a "deer biologist".

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

But in May the Conservation Department approved a regulation change for a six-county area around the outbreak that restricts the use of products that “unnaturally concentrate" deer in an effort to slow the disease.

Salt products, minerals and other consumable natural or manufactured products used to attract deer are now prohibited in the CWD Containment Zone of Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph and Sullivan counties.

Wow! Here you go. Ask Missouri how they feel about kill plots. It might take an attorney to define consumable natural, or unnaturally concentrate, but we all know they are talking about the preferred attracting method of "kill plots".

Is it worth it?

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

schmakenzie - There is a Wildlife Biologist certification program offered through The Wildlife Society (TWS). Certification involves a rigorous evaluation of education and experience. For more information on the certification process, visit The Wildlife Society website (wildlife.org).

However, to become a deer biologist, you don't need a TWS certification. What you do need is the following: 1) a bachelor's degree in Wildlife Management or similar discipline, and 2) several years of experience working with deer, researching deer, and managing deer

If looking at job listings, those are the minimum qualifications to become a deer biologist anywhere in the country. So not only do I meet those qualifications, but I am also certified by the TWS, therefore I consider myself, and I am considered by my peers in the wildlife management community to be a deer biologist. Fair enough? Next question.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

Berge 292 - Google "Kill Plots". It's the same as food plot, just a better name.

Bioguy01 (Neil or Craig) - We will take baby steps. (1) Question at a time. My question was can you become a deer biologist? What I mean is, Can someone ceritfy a deer biologist? If so, what are the qualifications? A weekend end class? (4) years of college?
Example. - Some people believe that teaching a child how to shoot a bb gun at home in the backyard would qualify them as a teacher. Others believe that a teacher must be certified through the state or a university. You call yourself a deer biologist. Can I call myself a deer biologist too? This is my question. I could care less what your qualifications are. I was wondering if this was a term just thrown around like a wal-mart greeter or gas station clerk. Don't know? Please tell us.

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from berge292 wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

I don't see the words "kill plot" anywhere in that article.

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

6phunter hit the nail on the head.

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from 6phunter wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

HUNTING over food plots ? Although it's generally considered ez pickins for the shooter,like all deer hunting nothing works 100 percent of the time.SO if you have a shooter thats never had to leave his/her stand and doesn't know how to really hunt for sign then deer hunting can become difficult.I see no harm in maintaining food plots or mineral sites,but to develop into a truly skilled hunter that finds deer when others can't find a track your gonna have to leave the comforts of a heated shooting house and spend time unraveling the secrets of wiley whitetails.

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

1) I was referring to your science background. Anybody with a bachelor's degree should have about 30 credit hours devoted to the arts and sciences depending on major.

2) I addressed the question you asked. If you want to know my personal qualifications, then you should have asked that question specifically. I have a BS in Wildlife Science. I'm currently working on my Master's in Forest and Natural Resources Management where my research involves monitoring deer spatial movements along an interstate highway where we will be modifying the right-of-way fence to try to reduce deer-vehicle collisions (captured and collared 25 deer). I have been involved in deer research in some capacity for the past 5 years, including research on CWD in NY (captured and collared 12 deer), and monitoring herd dynamics of deer in PA after a recent regulation change (captured 500+ deer where all of them received ear tags, and 100 of them received collars). I am certified as an Associate Wildlife Biologist by The Wildlife Society. Finally, I have done some consulting work and written up deer management plans for clients.

3) It may have been a yes or no question for you, but to someone with a background in deer management, it was a yes AND no question. In some places yes, in others, no. I'm sorry my answer did not coincide with what you expected as a response, but it's not an incorrect answer.

4) You defined habitat, more specifically, the food component of habitat for deer and called it range. An animals home range is anywhere an animal exists at any particular point in time (you can cross reference this online if you wish). In other words, a deer is NEVER out of it's natural range.

5) (1) There's a difference in food plotting vs. commercial agriculture. Monoculture is the goal of commercial agriculture, not food plotters. Food plotters want to offer diverse food sources, and sometimes food plots don't involve planting anything, but rather regular burning and use of herbicides on open fields to promote the growth of natural forbs. (2) I have been involved in CWD research. Deer are a social animal, and the disease will spread without food plots present, but there is no evidence suggesting that food plots accelerate the rate at which it spreads. If there are high densities of infected deer, and limited resources, the disease will spread.

6) Lol...well you go ahead and where your daughter's pink camo. I'll be managing my land for B&C bucks using the methods I described :-).

7) I've managed enough food plots to know that I have not used any pesticides. We're not producing food for humans, we're producing it for wildlife, so it doesn't need to be "insect free." The components of fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, all of which are naturally used by the body for different reasons and it's not like deer are going to be eating fertilizer in large quantities. You are assuming deer will eat a plant if it has fertilizers and other chemicals on it. Believe it or not, deer can be very picky eaters, and no that's not a generalization.

8) Lol...and who do you suppose they are advertising "managed" land to?

9) I have seen all kinds of predator GPS data, and that data shows me that predators do not spend very much time sitting and waiting much of anywhere. Additionally, deer don't just come trotting into a field without checking it for predators, and does don't just bed their fawns in the middle of open food plots. Additionally, who says food plots don't provide good cover? Deer don't need much vertical growth to conceal themselves. A deer can disappear in vegetation that is about 3ft. high. I'm not saying predation on deer and fawns doesn't occasionally happen in food plots, but it doesn't happen the way you seem to think it happens. But hey, think what you want because I'm not going to change your mind.

10) Agreed...to each his own.

11) You're not wrong, diversity is the key. What I'm saying is if all you have is a mature forest (AKA no diversity)...where is the browse? There will be some shade tolerant species at ground level but if you cut some trees and let some sunlight to hit the forest floor, you'll create a lot of browse and more forest diversity. What is there to eat when acorns and other hard mast aren't abundant? Deer need 4-6lbs of food/day to survive in good health...that's a lot of twigs and buds! This is why mature trees only have limited seasonal value. Depending on the species of cultivar and the quantity planted, a good food plot program can provide high nutrition food for deer 12 months a year!

If you don't want to use food plots, fine, but I don't want to continue arguing with a fellow hunter about something that's not only trivial, but completely legal.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

bioguy01, (1)"And so does just about everyone with a bachelors degree." No, your good ole boy mentality is off again. Go to www.isbe.net and you will see with a bachelors degree and no teaching experience, you will need "probably" another 2 years of college. You already knew I was from Illinois. (2) The question was can you become a deer biologist not a deer steward. I guess we will take this as a no, and you just call yourself what you like. (3) The deer starving question was a yes or no. From a professed "deer" biologist I was hoping you would recognize behavorial ecology, yarding, adaptive value or social biological points of view. If you need definitions again, just let me know. (4) Can I define range for a "deer" biologist, why sure. Range - land on which the principle natural plant cover is compiled of native grasses, forbs and shrubs that are valuable as forage for livestock and big game. From a scientific standpoint your generalizations are horrible. You are missing the biggest point, learned deer behavior. (5) You started off good with monoculture, it's a no. You mention corn and soybeans. You might want to rethink that. You also mention benefits of kill plots. We all see small benefits, but recognize the CWD link, other diseases, bad habits, predators sitting on the edge with no cover, etc.. You are doing harm to the herd, for what? That's tough to swallow I know. (6)The boone and crocket comment, really sums you up. I have as much proof that my daughter's pink camoflauge have increased the record book as your kill plots have. There are no concrete facts to support this. Please post your land management statistics, I am sure boone and crocket would love to see them. (7) Pesticides, Insecticides and fertilizers. Once again generalizations and no facts. "Pesticides and insecticides are rarely used in food plots." Says who? Were did you get that from good ole boy? You are not worried about fertilizers? How many are organic? (8) Generations of deer and wildlife. "If you knew anything about landowners who manage for deer, you would know that once they start, they can't stop. It's an addiction, but if for some reason they needed to stop improving the habitat, the herd can easily be put back in balance with the habitat by conducting a higher doe harvest and maintaining a smaller herd." Are you ok? People sell hunting land every day that has been so called managed. Not only do they quit sometimes, but they sell it. You have no facts again. Some people like to do it and others don't. Don't generalize every owner, they are not all the same. This made me laugh. (9) Predators. My point is it is well documented that predators sit and wait at kill plots, just as yourself. They kill deer here to and alot of fawns. Why? There's no cover. Maize would leave some for awhile, but not long. (10) To each his own, but I will preach to the next generation what I think is right and I really believe in the future it will be illegal to have a kill plot. (11) "Deer need growth at ground level to 6ft to be able to benefit. Think of it this way...you want an apple really bad, well first you need to wait for it to grow, so the tree is useless at that time because you're not getting anything from it but shade. Once it grows, it's out of reach. Until the apple falls on the ground, you're hungry and there's nothing you can do about it. When the apple falls, you will have some food, but when the apple is gone, you're back where you started. Unless there's other stuff on the ground for you to eat until the apple falls and after the apple is gone, you are left hungry. Does that make sense?" No not at all. How have the deer survived with out kill plots all these years? Diversity. When there is not an apple there is browse. When there is not browse there are acorns and so on. Deer do not need the false (unnatural) kill plot. You do. I hope you have learned the truth about kill plots and you start planting trees or let mother nature handle it. There are alot of fads when it comes to deer hunting and you are caught up in one. It boils down to this. All state and national wildlife agencies agree feeding wild animals is a bad idea. Why? Because the animals spread disease and become acustom to a food source that will not always be there. It's not worth it. Hunt the right way. Hunting has been done for thousands of years, without kill plots. I assure you, you can handle it.

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

"I do have a masters degree with 30 undergraduate hours in science and biology. I am certified to teach science in Illinois."

And so does just about anyone else with a Bachelor's degree. Being certified to teach science doesn't mean you have a prolific understanding of biology, more specifically deer biology. You might know the general concepts and a few definitions that you would need to teach to school children, but it doesn't make you an expert on deer management.

"Can you become a certified deer biolgist? Or is that a term thrown around?"
Actually, certification does exists. Deer Steward certification programs are offered by the Quality Deer Management Association. It involves class lectures, hand's on learning, and a final exam. So yes, you can become a certified Deer Steward if you attend the classes and pass the exam.

"Were deer starving in large numbers before kill plots?"
Let's take a second to define "kill plots." Kill plots are not meant to feed deer for an entire year, they are meant to attract deer to a specific area during hunting season, and are rarely larger than an acre in size. Feeder plots, however are meant to better nourish deer throughout the year and increase the landscapes carrying capacity. They are usually 2 to 8 acres in size and planted in high nutrition cultivars that will are available a majority of the year. Deer starving in large numbers depends on where you live and what your habitat can support. For some areas of the US, yes deer can be malnourised enough to starve to death.

"Kill plots don't interfere with a deer's natural range, right?"
I'm not sure what you mean by "interfere with a deer's natural range" Do you even know what a deer's natural range is? Can you define it, because I've been working with deer and monitoring their movements for several years now, and there are lots of things that influence where a deer wants to be at any particular time (usually it's the most limiting resource, or the most necessary resource given the time of year or circumstances). Depending on where you live in the U.S. deer can be migratory, traveling up to 20+ miles to seek out wintering habitat. Adult bucks can have 2-3 different core areas they use on a regular basis that may be several miles apart. I have monitored adult does that moved 1-2 miles to exploit an acorn food source.

"Do you feel monoculture is a positive for a wildlife environment?"

No, and neither do many of the folks who plant food plots. Many food plots are planted in mixes of brassicas, clovers, and cereal grains. Each cultivar benefits the animal at different times throughout the season. Large feeder plots are also often planted in several different species including corn, soybeans, and clover. The benefit of food plots to wildlife other than deer is very well documented, just run a google search.

"Was boone and crockett not recording any records before kill plots?"
Not nearly as many as it is today! However, I attribute that success to better land management practices (which includes planting food plots), advancements in communication and research, and hunters allowing young deer to grow older. Food plots are generally a supplement, not a sole food source.

"Does fertilizer, pesticides and insectides that are included with most kill plots help the deer?"

Pesticides and insecticides are rarely used in food plots...herbicides for weed management, maybe. Even then there are all-natural ways of managing weeds, including hand pulling, mowing, disking, etc. The primary compounds of fertilizers are nutrients that deer will eventually get through eating the plant itself, so I'm not worried about fertilizers.

"If a yearling or fawn this year eats from a kill plot and the land owner does something different next year, did that help generations of deer and wildlife?"

A majority of male yearlings disperse from a property as yearlings, and several female yearlings will disperse as well, regardless if the quality of the habitat is good. Female yearlings will generally have a home range that overlaps with their mothers, but that doesn't mean they will utilize all of the same resources. If you knew anything about landowners who manage for deer, you would know that once they start, they can't stop. It's an addiction, but if for some reason they needed to stop improving the habitat, the herd can easily be put back in balance with the habitat by conducting a higher doe harvest and maintaining a smaller herd.

"Predators like coyotes, probably stay away from kill plots because of all the wildlife and deer activity, right?"

You just contradicted yourself...a few questions up you were saying monocultures don't benefit wildlife (which is true, monocultures don't benefit wildlife), now you're saying all the other wildlife and deer activity (which implies you recognize that food plots are beneficial to deer and other wildlife) attracts coyotes (which also benefit from food plots). Yeah, coyotes use food plots...there's all kinds of tasty tid-bits for them to eat, including rabbits, squirrels, and a plethera of other rodents.

"Teaching our children, to hunt the way of the kill plot, gives our future hunters the best understanding of the right way to hunt, right?"
Teaching our children to manage the land and manipulate habitat to benefit wildlife is a concept I will promote all day long! These days, getting kids outside is an accomplishment. If you can do that, I don't care if you hunt over a food plot, a bait pile, or within a high fence, nor do I care if you hunt with a crossbow, a rifle, or a spear, as long as whatever you are doing is legal by your state's regulatory agency, its OK with me. Hunters shouldn't be fighting each other because they think one way of hunting is better than somebody else's. If the end result is food for the dinner table and the methods used were legal, then why does it matter how dinner was killed?

"Kill plots make it easy for hunters to bag the big one fast."
Another testament that you have no clue what you're talking about.

Big deer are hard to kill regardless if food plots are present or not. Food plots will attract deer, but if you think the big boy just comes strolling out of the woods and starts grazing on a food plot during daylight hours every day, then you obviously have never targeted big deer, and never hunted food plots because almost never works out like that. The deer needs to read the script for it to happen like that!

Back to mature trees - A few mature trees is not a bad thing...small stands of mature trees is also not a bad thing. When the entire forest is mature trees...you have a problem. Remember that monoculture thing you were talking about above and how that's not good for wildlife? Well age diversity among in a forest is more benefitial to wildlife than a completely solid block of mature trees. Perhaps you should research the benefits of forest age diversity and early successional forest habitat. It's hard for deer to browse on leaves and buds that are 40-60ft in the canopy. Deer need growth at ground level to 6ft to be able to benefit. Think of it this way...you want an apple really bad, well first you need to wait for it to grow, so the tree is useless at that time because you're not getting anything from it but shade. Once it grows, it's out of reach. Until the apple falls on the ground, you're hungry and there's nothing you can do about it. When the apple falls, you will have some food, but when the apple is gone, you're back where you started. Unless there's other stuff on the ground for you to eat until the apple falls and after the apple is gone, you are left hungry. Does that make sense? Because if it doesn't then our discussion is over.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

bioguy01,

My wife and I are small business owners, however I do have a masters degree with 30 undergraduate hours in science and biology. I am certified to teach science in Illinois.

What I do for a living, shouldn't matter though. You asked.

Craig did need someones help, at least you tried.

Can you become a certified deer biolgist? Or is that a term thrown around?

Can any biologist who works with deer part time or full time, just call themselves that? Is there mandatory special training or subjective?

Back to kill plots. As a "deer" biologist can you answer these questions for everyone?

Were deer starving in large numbers before kill plots?

Kill plots don't interfere with a deer's natural range, right?

Do you feel monoculture is a positive for a wildlife environment?

Was boone and crockett not recording any records before kill plots?

Does fertilizer, pesticides and insectides that are included with most kill plots help the deer?

If a yearling or fawn this year eats from a kill plot and the land owner does something different next year, did that help generations of deer and wildlife?

Predators like coyotes, probably stay away from kill plots because of all the wildlife and deer activity, right?

Teaching our children, to hunt the way of the kill plot, gives our future hunters the best understanding of the right way to hunt, right?

Millions of years of the land being the way that it has been, isn't right? Kill plots are big money for seed dealers. Kill plots make it easy for hunters to bag the big one fast. Kill plots spread disease.

Back to the whole mature tree thing, you guys are both crazy. Most average hunters depend on mature trees, just like the deer. I guess you guys just hunt from ground blinds and never look for acorns? Your kill plots fail every know and then just like an oak, but there is more than one oak tree in the woods. Please read about the benefits of trees for wildlife and deer.

Use your skills to better the environment, not for selling books and spewing your garbage. Nobody believes it.

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

schmakenzie - I'm not Craig, but I do have the utmost respect for him, and although he doesn't need me to defend him, I'm going to anyway. I read more "harm than good"...the phrase "food plot" doesn't appear once in that entire brochure. The brochure itself is talking about feeding deer in the winter...like with corn, pelletized feed, or bird seed. If you read the "How can you help deer" paragraph, it actually suggest that you modify the habitat on your property rather than feed the deer (i.e. plant food plots, create browse cuts, and release mast producing trees.)

Food plots spread deer out over a greater area than feed piles, so transmission of CWD is reduced in comparison. Yes deer can occur in high densities without food plots. Deer in northern big woods habitats will often migrate to wintering grounds. These wintering grounds can attract deer from as far away as 20 miles and they tend to have very high densities of deer during the winter (I know this because I used to survey winter deer yards and have seen the telemetry records recording deer movements to deer yards). Personally, I haven't seen any literature that links food plot use by deer to increased risk of CWD. I have seen literature that links CWD to deer farms, and then rapid spread of the disease is linked to high deer density areas. It's been a while since I have looked at some CWD literature so if you can provide the literature about food plots and CWD, I will definitely read it.

I am a biologist, more specifically a deer biologist, and I recommend creating browse, planting food plots, and promoting mast on any property to help ensure deer have enough food to eat throughout the entire year. When food is abundant and spread out over the landscape, the result is less congregated and much healthier deer.

As for mature trees...seriously, you're a deer hunter and you don't see anything bad with mature trees? You have some learning to do! 3/4 of the year mature mast producing trees do absolutely nothing for deer but provide shade. If it happens to be a good mast year, then they might provide several pounds of food in mast for a short period of time, but if it's not a good mast year then mature trees spend an entire year providing nothing useful to deer. In contrast, an early successional forest (which occurs when you cut mature trees down) provides deer with food 24-7, 365 days a year for up to 5 years in the form of browse. If at this point you don't feel like a fool, then you should. Craig and Neil Dougherty make a living out of knowing how to manage deer. People pay them thousands of dollars to come to their property and make recommendations on how to better manage their deer herds. These guys have written the books on deer and deer management (Google "Grow 'em Right") and are highly respected within the deer management community...what do you do for a living?

I have met Craig...he may be 23 at heart, but his 70+ year old body just can't keep up like it used to! :-)

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from huntfishtrap wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

The only type of baiting/food plot hunting I have any problem with are the timed feeders. With any other type of hunting, even sitting over a pile of corn, the deer (or any wildlife) don't have to show up while you're there, so hunting over a bait pile or over an apple tree are really not that different in terms of the success rate. But when you hunt over a feeder on a timer, it's as close to guaranteed success as is possible in free-range hunting, since the critters know they need to show up at a certain time, or they don't eat.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

Sorry, this is the last you'll hear from me on this, but there was so much stupid to straighten out.

"It’s nothing but a bunch of mature trees waiting for harvest." What the hell does that mean? Seriously, an Outdoorlife editor doesn't see the good in mature trees. Wow!

Craig I am hoping you're 23, an intern and living in your parents basement. I expect better from Outdoor Life.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

Craig, this blog or article is horrible. I think the biggest myth to kill plots is you help wildlife. You actually do not. You hurt the wildlife. Ever heard of CWD? It is now being linked to kill plots? Why? Kill plots are not natural. Too many deer are in one setting together passing on diseases. It is not natural to have that many deer together. It's funny how nearly every state puts out a pamphlet on the negative impacts of feeding wildlife and the consequences, yet it's ignored. Most biologists agree winter cover and not food is the key to winter survival for deer. Who cares if the deer are bigger? Who cares if the antlers are bigger? Healthy is not always bigger. If the whittail is too small in its natural state for you,then move on to an elk. Most common people want healthy meat, not gigantic who knows what. I suggest you read a little on what you are doing to the deer with a kill plot, start with googling "more harm than good" a brochure explaining the negative impact of deer feeding. And don't be a complete idiot and try to say that an oak tree or an apple tree are the same. It's completely different and you have enough to read tonight. If I was betting you are the type of guy that wil delete this and do a little griping and whining.

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from JM wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

Do I plant/hunt food plots? No.
Does that mean no one else should? Nope.
Simple as that.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

I agree with jjas. I own land and feel it's beter to plant trees. I feel like trees are permanent and kill plots are not. It's about society and how we behave. We are a want it all want it right now society. That's why we plant kill plots. It's not for the deer or the hunter, it's for the need to see a giant right now, because I own land and I am entitlled. Deer need food, water and security. Water and security can not be effectively marketed to the small penus individuals, monoculture is easily turned into a dollar. See where your money goes. HaHa....

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from Kevin R. Wheeler wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

I don't have any particular feelings against food plots. If I had land, I might set aside an acre or two to attract deer.

The problem is that I don't. And neither do most Joe Sixpacks hunters. Putting in food plots is a "rich man's" game. I have to hunt public lands when I can, and those are few and far in between.

If you want to get together with some buddies to buy an acre or two to set up just for hunting, that's fine, too. But there we have the "money" issue again.

I know lots of people that are lucky enough to squirrel away enough money just to buy tags and gas for the hunting season. It's getting harder and harder for us "poor folk" to go hunting.

All I want to do is put some deer or elk steaks on my family's table, because it's more healthy for them than the chemical infused crap that you buy at Wal-Mart or Safeway. I don't have the funds available to buy land, then plant trees. I'm lucky just to have the time to go up into the woods and hope I find a deer/elk.

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from DeerNick wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

Personally I like to hunt the land - taking into account farms nearby, water, natural food sources, geography, etc. as that is what I believe it means to hunt... to hunt down the game (not attract it to my "Buck'n Oats" field). I'm not a farmer, I'm a hunter.

I solely hunt public land and enjoy the freedom and challenge of searching out the deer. I may not see giants regularly, or 7 deer on every sit but I enjoy knowing that when I do shoot a deer, it was shot in the pure sense of hunting.

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from jjas wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

As you stated, we all have hunted near acorns, crop fields, apples, persimmons and other food or water sources to try and kill a deer. The difference for many is, those things (unlike food plots) weren't put there specifically for the purpose of attracting deer to kill them.

Does that mean I haven't planted and hunted over a food plot? Nope....I've done it and will do it again. I just don't try to justify it by pretending that a food plot (unless it isn't hunted by or over it) isn't a bait site. It may be a growing living bait site, but in my eyes it's still a bait site.....

And no, I don't care it my neighbors grow plots, hunt over plots or dig a pond to hunt over either. That's their land, it's legal to do so and so I say...have @ it.

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from Don Mitchell wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

This is one excellent post Craig,and i a1gree one hundred percent.
I and my son have been working for the past few years to improve our land for quality deer hunting, but we concentrate on how big the antlers are,but on how healthy the herd is.We are "DEER" HUNTERS ONLY,If the deer are healthy,then the antlers will be also,but we don't hunt just for them.

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from jjas wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

As you stated, we all have hunted near acorns, crop fields, apples, persimmons and other food or water sources to try and kill a deer. The difference for many is, those things (unlike food plots) weren't put there specifically for the purpose of attracting deer to kill them.

Does that mean I haven't planted and hunted over a food plot? Nope....I've done it and will do it again. I just don't try to justify it by pretending that a food plot (unless it isn't hunted by or over it) isn't a bait site. It may be a growing living bait site, but in my eyes it's still a bait site.....

And no, I don't care it my neighbors grow plots, hunt over plots or dig a pond to hunt over either. That's their land, it's legal to do so and so I say...have @ it.

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from DeerNick wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

Personally I like to hunt the land - taking into account farms nearby, water, natural food sources, geography, etc. as that is what I believe it means to hunt... to hunt down the game (not attract it to my "Buck'n Oats" field). I'm not a farmer, I'm a hunter.

I solely hunt public land and enjoy the freedom and challenge of searching out the deer. I may not see giants regularly, or 7 deer on every sit but I enjoy knowing that when I do shoot a deer, it was shot in the pure sense of hunting.

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from 6phunter wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

HUNTING over food plots ? Although it's generally considered ez pickins for the shooter,like all deer hunting nothing works 100 percent of the time.SO if you have a shooter thats never had to leave his/her stand and doesn't know how to really hunt for sign then deer hunting can become difficult.I see no harm in maintaining food plots or mineral sites,but to develop into a truly skilled hunter that finds deer when others can't find a track your gonna have to leave the comforts of a heated shooting house and spend time unraveling the secrets of wiley whitetails.

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

6phunter hit the nail on the head.

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from Don Mitchell wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

This is one excellent post Craig,and i a1gree one hundred percent.
I and my son have been working for the past few years to improve our land for quality deer hunting, but we concentrate on how big the antlers are,but on how healthy the herd is.We are "DEER" HUNTERS ONLY,If the deer are healthy,then the antlers will be also,but we don't hunt just for them.

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from Kevin R. Wheeler wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

I don't have any particular feelings against food plots. If I had land, I might set aside an acre or two to attract deer.

The problem is that I don't. And neither do most Joe Sixpacks hunters. Putting in food plots is a "rich man's" game. I have to hunt public lands when I can, and those are few and far in between.

If you want to get together with some buddies to buy an acre or two to set up just for hunting, that's fine, too. But there we have the "money" issue again.

I know lots of people that are lucky enough to squirrel away enough money just to buy tags and gas for the hunting season. It's getting harder and harder for us "poor folk" to go hunting.

All I want to do is put some deer or elk steaks on my family's table, because it's more healthy for them than the chemical infused crap that you buy at Wal-Mart or Safeway. I don't have the funds available to buy land, then plant trees. I'm lucky just to have the time to go up into the woods and hope I find a deer/elk.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

I agree with jjas. I own land and feel it's beter to plant trees. I feel like trees are permanent and kill plots are not. It's about society and how we behave. We are a want it all want it right now society. That's why we plant kill plots. It's not for the deer or the hunter, it's for the need to see a giant right now, because I own land and I am entitlled. Deer need food, water and security. Water and security can not be effectively marketed to the small penus individuals, monoculture is easily turned into a dollar. See where your money goes. HaHa....

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from JM wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

Do I plant/hunt food plots? No.
Does that mean no one else should? Nope.
Simple as that.

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from huntfishtrap wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

The only type of baiting/food plot hunting I have any problem with are the timed feeders. With any other type of hunting, even sitting over a pile of corn, the deer (or any wildlife) don't have to show up while you're there, so hunting over a bait pile or over an apple tree are really not that different in terms of the success rate. But when you hunt over a feeder on a timer, it's as close to guaranteed success as is possible in free-range hunting, since the critters know they need to show up at a certain time, or they don't eat.

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

schmakenzie - I'm not Craig, but I do have the utmost respect for him, and although he doesn't need me to defend him, I'm going to anyway. I read more "harm than good"...the phrase "food plot" doesn't appear once in that entire brochure. The brochure itself is talking about feeding deer in the winter...like with corn, pelletized feed, or bird seed. If you read the "How can you help deer" paragraph, it actually suggest that you modify the habitat on your property rather than feed the deer (i.e. plant food plots, create browse cuts, and release mast producing trees.)

Food plots spread deer out over a greater area than feed piles, so transmission of CWD is reduced in comparison. Yes deer can occur in high densities without food plots. Deer in northern big woods habitats will often migrate to wintering grounds. These wintering grounds can attract deer from as far away as 20 miles and they tend to have very high densities of deer during the winter (I know this because I used to survey winter deer yards and have seen the telemetry records recording deer movements to deer yards). Personally, I haven't seen any literature that links food plot use by deer to increased risk of CWD. I have seen literature that links CWD to deer farms, and then rapid spread of the disease is linked to high deer density areas. It's been a while since I have looked at some CWD literature so if you can provide the literature about food plots and CWD, I will definitely read it.

I am a biologist, more specifically a deer biologist, and I recommend creating browse, planting food plots, and promoting mast on any property to help ensure deer have enough food to eat throughout the entire year. When food is abundant and spread out over the landscape, the result is less congregated and much healthier deer.

As for mature trees...seriously, you're a deer hunter and you don't see anything bad with mature trees? You have some learning to do! 3/4 of the year mature mast producing trees do absolutely nothing for deer but provide shade. If it happens to be a good mast year, then they might provide several pounds of food in mast for a short period of time, but if it's not a good mast year then mature trees spend an entire year providing nothing useful to deer. In contrast, an early successional forest (which occurs when you cut mature trees down) provides deer with food 24-7, 365 days a year for up to 5 years in the form of browse. If at this point you don't feel like a fool, then you should. Craig and Neil Dougherty make a living out of knowing how to manage deer. People pay them thousands of dollars to come to their property and make recommendations on how to better manage their deer herds. These guys have written the books on deer and deer management (Google "Grow 'em Right") and are highly respected within the deer management community...what do you do for a living?

I have met Craig...he may be 23 at heart, but his 70+ year old body just can't keep up like it used to! :-)

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

"I do have a masters degree with 30 undergraduate hours in science and biology. I am certified to teach science in Illinois."

And so does just about anyone else with a Bachelor's degree. Being certified to teach science doesn't mean you have a prolific understanding of biology, more specifically deer biology. You might know the general concepts and a few definitions that you would need to teach to school children, but it doesn't make you an expert on deer management.

"Can you become a certified deer biolgist? Or is that a term thrown around?"
Actually, certification does exists. Deer Steward certification programs are offered by the Quality Deer Management Association. It involves class lectures, hand's on learning, and a final exam. So yes, you can become a certified Deer Steward if you attend the classes and pass the exam.

"Were deer starving in large numbers before kill plots?"
Let's take a second to define "kill plots." Kill plots are not meant to feed deer for an entire year, they are meant to attract deer to a specific area during hunting season, and are rarely larger than an acre in size. Feeder plots, however are meant to better nourish deer throughout the year and increase the landscapes carrying capacity. They are usually 2 to 8 acres in size and planted in high nutrition cultivars that will are available a majority of the year. Deer starving in large numbers depends on where you live and what your habitat can support. For some areas of the US, yes deer can be malnourised enough to starve to death.

"Kill plots don't interfere with a deer's natural range, right?"
I'm not sure what you mean by "interfere with a deer's natural range" Do you even know what a deer's natural range is? Can you define it, because I've been working with deer and monitoring their movements for several years now, and there are lots of things that influence where a deer wants to be at any particular time (usually it's the most limiting resource, or the most necessary resource given the time of year or circumstances). Depending on where you live in the U.S. deer can be migratory, traveling up to 20+ miles to seek out wintering habitat. Adult bucks can have 2-3 different core areas they use on a regular basis that may be several miles apart. I have monitored adult does that moved 1-2 miles to exploit an acorn food source.

"Do you feel monoculture is a positive for a wildlife environment?"

No, and neither do many of the folks who plant food plots. Many food plots are planted in mixes of brassicas, clovers, and cereal grains. Each cultivar benefits the animal at different times throughout the season. Large feeder plots are also often planted in several different species including corn, soybeans, and clover. The benefit of food plots to wildlife other than deer is very well documented, just run a google search.

"Was boone and crockett not recording any records before kill plots?"
Not nearly as many as it is today! However, I attribute that success to better land management practices (which includes planting food plots), advancements in communication and research, and hunters allowing young deer to grow older. Food plots are generally a supplement, not a sole food source.

"Does fertilizer, pesticides and insectides that are included with most kill plots help the deer?"

Pesticides and insecticides are rarely used in food plots...herbicides for weed management, maybe. Even then there are all-natural ways of managing weeds, including hand pulling, mowing, disking, etc. The primary compounds of fertilizers are nutrients that deer will eventually get through eating the plant itself, so I'm not worried about fertilizers.

"If a yearling or fawn this year eats from a kill plot and the land owner does something different next year, did that help generations of deer and wildlife?"

A majority of male yearlings disperse from a property as yearlings, and several female yearlings will disperse as well, regardless if the quality of the habitat is good. Female yearlings will generally have a home range that overlaps with their mothers, but that doesn't mean they will utilize all of the same resources. If you knew anything about landowners who manage for deer, you would know that once they start, they can't stop. It's an addiction, but if for some reason they needed to stop improving the habitat, the herd can easily be put back in balance with the habitat by conducting a higher doe harvest and maintaining a smaller herd.

"Predators like coyotes, probably stay away from kill plots because of all the wildlife and deer activity, right?"

You just contradicted yourself...a few questions up you were saying monocultures don't benefit wildlife (which is true, monocultures don't benefit wildlife), now you're saying all the other wildlife and deer activity (which implies you recognize that food plots are beneficial to deer and other wildlife) attracts coyotes (which also benefit from food plots). Yeah, coyotes use food plots...there's all kinds of tasty tid-bits for them to eat, including rabbits, squirrels, and a plethera of other rodents.

"Teaching our children, to hunt the way of the kill plot, gives our future hunters the best understanding of the right way to hunt, right?"
Teaching our children to manage the land and manipulate habitat to benefit wildlife is a concept I will promote all day long! These days, getting kids outside is an accomplishment. If you can do that, I don't care if you hunt over a food plot, a bait pile, or within a high fence, nor do I care if you hunt with a crossbow, a rifle, or a spear, as long as whatever you are doing is legal by your state's regulatory agency, its OK with me. Hunters shouldn't be fighting each other because they think one way of hunting is better than somebody else's. If the end result is food for the dinner table and the methods used were legal, then why does it matter how dinner was killed?

"Kill plots make it easy for hunters to bag the big one fast."
Another testament that you have no clue what you're talking about.

Big deer are hard to kill regardless if food plots are present or not. Food plots will attract deer, but if you think the big boy just comes strolling out of the woods and starts grazing on a food plot during daylight hours every day, then you obviously have never targeted big deer, and never hunted food plots because almost never works out like that. The deer needs to read the script for it to happen like that!

Back to mature trees - A few mature trees is not a bad thing...small stands of mature trees is also not a bad thing. When the entire forest is mature trees...you have a problem. Remember that monoculture thing you were talking about above and how that's not good for wildlife? Well age diversity among in a forest is more benefitial to wildlife than a completely solid block of mature trees. Perhaps you should research the benefits of forest age diversity and early successional forest habitat. It's hard for deer to browse on leaves and buds that are 40-60ft in the canopy. Deer need growth at ground level to 6ft to be able to benefit. Think of it this way...you want an apple really bad, well first you need to wait for it to grow, so the tree is useless at that time because you're not getting anything from it but shade. Once it grows, it's out of reach. Until the apple falls on the ground, you're hungry and there's nothing you can do about it. When the apple falls, you will have some food, but when the apple is gone, you're back where you started. Unless there's other stuff on the ground for you to eat until the apple falls and after the apple is gone, you are left hungry. Does that make sense? Because if it doesn't then our discussion is over.

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

1) I was referring to your science background. Anybody with a bachelor's degree should have about 30 credit hours devoted to the arts and sciences depending on major.

2) I addressed the question you asked. If you want to know my personal qualifications, then you should have asked that question specifically. I have a BS in Wildlife Science. I'm currently working on my Master's in Forest and Natural Resources Management where my research involves monitoring deer spatial movements along an interstate highway where we will be modifying the right-of-way fence to try to reduce deer-vehicle collisions (captured and collared 25 deer). I have been involved in deer research in some capacity for the past 5 years, including research on CWD in NY (captured and collared 12 deer), and monitoring herd dynamics of deer in PA after a recent regulation change (captured 500+ deer where all of them received ear tags, and 100 of them received collars). I am certified as an Associate Wildlife Biologist by The Wildlife Society. Finally, I have done some consulting work and written up deer management plans for clients.

3) It may have been a yes or no question for you, but to someone with a background in deer management, it was a yes AND no question. In some places yes, in others, no. I'm sorry my answer did not coincide with what you expected as a response, but it's not an incorrect answer.

4) You defined habitat, more specifically, the food component of habitat for deer and called it range. An animals home range is anywhere an animal exists at any particular point in time (you can cross reference this online if you wish). In other words, a deer is NEVER out of it's natural range.

5) (1) There's a difference in food plotting vs. commercial agriculture. Monoculture is the goal of commercial agriculture, not food plotters. Food plotters want to offer diverse food sources, and sometimes food plots don't involve planting anything, but rather regular burning and use of herbicides on open fields to promote the growth of natural forbs. (2) I have been involved in CWD research. Deer are a social animal, and the disease will spread without food plots present, but there is no evidence suggesting that food plots accelerate the rate at which it spreads. If there are high densities of infected deer, and limited resources, the disease will spread.

6) Lol...well you go ahead and where your daughter's pink camo. I'll be managing my land for B&C bucks using the methods I described :-).

7) I've managed enough food plots to know that I have not used any pesticides. We're not producing food for humans, we're producing it for wildlife, so it doesn't need to be "insect free." The components of fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, all of which are naturally used by the body for different reasons and it's not like deer are going to be eating fertilizer in large quantities. You are assuming deer will eat a plant if it has fertilizers and other chemicals on it. Believe it or not, deer can be very picky eaters, and no that's not a generalization.

8) Lol...and who do you suppose they are advertising "managed" land to?

9) I have seen all kinds of predator GPS data, and that data shows me that predators do not spend very much time sitting and waiting much of anywhere. Additionally, deer don't just come trotting into a field without checking it for predators, and does don't just bed their fawns in the middle of open food plots. Additionally, who says food plots don't provide good cover? Deer don't need much vertical growth to conceal themselves. A deer can disappear in vegetation that is about 3ft. high. I'm not saying predation on deer and fawns doesn't occasionally happen in food plots, but it doesn't happen the way you seem to think it happens. But hey, think what you want because I'm not going to change your mind.

10) Agreed...to each his own.

11) You're not wrong, diversity is the key. What I'm saying is if all you have is a mature forest (AKA no diversity)...where is the browse? There will be some shade tolerant species at ground level but if you cut some trees and let some sunlight to hit the forest floor, you'll create a lot of browse and more forest diversity. What is there to eat when acorns and other hard mast aren't abundant? Deer need 4-6lbs of food/day to survive in good health...that's a lot of twigs and buds! This is why mature trees only have limited seasonal value. Depending on the species of cultivar and the quantity planted, a good food plot program can provide high nutrition food for deer 12 months a year!

If you don't want to use food plots, fine, but I don't want to continue arguing with a fellow hunter about something that's not only trivial, but completely legal.

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from berge292 wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

I don't see the words "kill plot" anywhere in that article.

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

schmakenzie - There is a Wildlife Biologist certification program offered through The Wildlife Society (TWS). Certification involves a rigorous evaluation of education and experience. For more information on the certification process, visit The Wildlife Society website (wildlife.org).

However, to become a deer biologist, you don't need a TWS certification. What you do need is the following: 1) a bachelor's degree in Wildlife Management or similar discipline, and 2) several years of experience working with deer, researching deer, and managing deer

If looking at job listings, those are the minimum qualifications to become a deer biologist anywhere in the country. So not only do I meet those qualifications, but I am also certified by the TWS, therefore I consider myself, and I am considered by my peers in the wildlife management community to be a deer biologist. Fair enough? Next question.

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from 6phunter wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

DR. OR PROFESSOR SCHMAKENZIE,appears to have his facts in a row.The purpose here is not who has the biggest certification,but to share and divest knowledge,nearly 50 years of deer hunting and I'M still learning.SO whether we agree or not on hunting food plots is intangible,different skills and tactics used are helpful even if we don't use them.

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from huntfishtrap wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

The way I see it, both schmakenzie and bioguy01 make valid points, and both seem qualified to speak on the matter. Guys, maybe you could just agree to disagree, since it seems like neither of you are going to change the others mind?

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

schmakenzie - Lol! That's fine, I don't need your approval to be considered a deer biologist. :-) I already have the approval within the scientific community and among my peers - that's good enough for me.

I am familiar with brassica toxicity. I also know it usually doesn't occur unless the animals are almost EXCLUSIVELY eating brassicas (which the article confirms with this sentence: "Although brassicas have been used for grazing, allowing
animals such as white-tailed deer to consume large quantities can be dangerous."). So we're talking large plots of brassicas (because small "kill plots" - by my definition - won't hold up to browsing for very long) and pretty much nothing else available to eat (which may happen in the winter if other forage, such as other food plot cultivars or browse are not available to supplement the brassicas). I completely agree with the take-home message from the article, "If you use brassicas in your food plot program, you should take care to limit acreage and combine with other plants less toxic to ruminants." Despite this caveat, I know people who have used brassicas as a regular part of their food plot program for years, and the #1 cause of death to their deer is hunter induced lead poisoning. As evidenced by their record keeping of harvested kills, and the trophies on their walls, their herds appear to be in top-notch health. :-)

I don't intend to change your mind about food plots, because it is good to have an opposing view. With all of the benefits of food plots and the commercial industry practically forcing the information upon hunters, it's good to have some precautionary criticisms so that hunters understand both the good and the bad associated with food plots.

For example, you are not completely wrong about food plots being a bad idea in CWD areas, because small plots can concentrate deer in a relatively small area (this tends to happen when deer densities are high and natural food sources are in short supply). However, food plots spread throughout the landscape can actually spread deer out more so they have less chance of contracting the disease. It does not matter if a food source is native or planted, if it concentrates deer in a small area, the disease will spread. For example, a wild apple tree bearing fruit can concentrate deer a lot more than a food plot. During a poor mast year, the few trees that produce acorns will also concentrate deer in a very small area. So although your point has validity, it does not mean that ridding the world of food plots will solve the CWD problem because natural food sources can concentrate deer just as much, if not more than food plots. In fact, planting more and larger food plots throughout CWD areas may be beneficial because it increases the carrying capacity of the landscape (meaning the landscape can better support high densities of deer), gives deer alternative food sources (so deer do not need to solely depend on what mother nature dishes out), and can help spread them out over the landscape as opposed to concentrating them at limited food source areas.

Below I was accused of "generalizing" my arguments promoting food plots. I have planted a lot of food plots, I have read countless peer reviewed journals and magazine articles outlining the pros and cons of food plots, and I have worked with hundreds of people who also plant food plots. I have a pretty good understanding of the food plotting community. If your basing your opinion of food plots and food plotting on a few individuals, some magazine articles, and no experience of your own with food plotting, then who is generalizing?

huntfishtrap - As long as the discussion stays civil (no name calling, etc.), I don't mind a little debate. I think everybody learns a little bit when 2 opposing opinions clash. The important thing to remember is that we are all hunters, we are all entitled to our opinion, and we should respect each others views.

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

"My worry is some guys will just plant what they want hurting the herd."

That's a legitimate worry. Some guys do plant what they want, but generally speaking, brassica toxicity is rare. For brassica toxicity to occur large quantities of brassicas need to be about the only food source available in a given area. Basically, deer need to almost exclusively be feeding on brassicas, and that just doesn't happen very often.

"Have you seen the 400" to 500" fenced in garbage deer? Are those deer much more healthy than the rest of the deer."

Generally, yes! Those deer are fed very well! 400-500" inches of bone doesn't grow without some nutritional encouragement. The formula for growing trophy deer is Good Genetics + Good Nutrition + Age (4-6 years) = Big Deer. In a wild herd you cannot control genetics, but age and nutrition you can control by passing up young bucks and providing deer with quality year-round nutrition.

"The term "kill plot" is universal to me. If it is 43560 sq ft or 10 acres, to me it's a "kill plot". I use my own verbage, because I can."

Whatever floats your boat.

"I am not a professional when it comes to "kill plots", however I do have points that people can learn from."

As do I, so I look forward to future discussions.

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

schmakenzie:

"You probably know which doctor in the deer world is presenting these facts."

Sure do! It's Dr. James Kroll. I'll do you one better, I have actually attended a presentation of his where he presented this same information. If you didn't know, Dr. Kroll is heavily invested in Buck Forage Oats (buckforage.com). Oats and brassicas are both popular winter food plot forages. Guess which plot Dr. Kroll would prefer you to plant if you have a choice? Well it ain't brassicas that's for sure! There is surely truth in his presentation and his articles on the subject, but ultimately he's using that information to help promote his product. That being the case, he would have you think brassicas are the worst thing in the world you can plant for a food plot. Based on my experience, brassica food plots have saved WAY more deer than they have killed, and they definitely help to retain herd health.

"since they tend to graze brassicas heavily during winter"

They sure will if there's not a foot and a half of snow covering them. In such cases, standing corn and soybeans make much easier, pickins and deer will graze heavily on these species instead, if they are available.

"Biologists are making reports available that suggest in the winter brassica is sometimes their "only" food source."

And sometimes it is. Dr. Kroll ultimately makes this information available because he uses it to promote Buck Forage Oats, but it is important for food plotters to understand the risks of planting brassicas as well as the benefits. For example, if your hunting property is surrounded by miles and miles of mature forest, and your 5 acre food plot is the only high quality food source in the area...you should avoid planting brassicas, opting for soybeans or standing corn if snows get deep, or a cereal grain and clover mix if snow is not a worry. You should also fell some low-value timber species so deer can supplement their diet with natural browse.

"I am now also finding some very interseting reports showing that "kill plotters" are introducing invasive plant species into different environments and are harming them. I will keep you posted on this."

Please do. I enjoy reading new information. In the mean time, I encourage you to check out the QDMA website to read more about the benefits of habitat manipulation (not just food plotting) for deer and other wildlife species. QDMA.com

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

Now go to any one of the major food plot seed company websites and see where you can find ANY of the species mentioned in that article in their list of seeds. The lespedezas you mentioned are typically shrubs planted for birds, not deer. Deer browse them, but they aren't usually intended for deer. I mention the Lespedezas used for food plots below. Crown vetch was introduced as a method of erosion control along highways, so you can thank your state highway department for that screw-up. Again, deer will eat crown vetch, but it's not a typical food plot planting. Same deal with Japanese honeysuckle, it was planted as a food source for birds...deer browse it, but people serious about deer food plots hardly know about such species.

People who food plot for deer generally use: clover, brassicas, wheat, rye, oats, corn, soybeans, buckwheat, alphalpha, alyceclover, american jointvetch, birdsfoot trefoil, peas, burgundy beans, hairy vetch, common lespedeza (Kummerowia striata), Korean Lespedeza (Kummerowia stipulacea), lablab, lupines, sweetclover, sorghum, sunflowers, triticale, annual & perennial ryegrass, Timothy grass, chicory, small burnet, and sugar beets. (Quality Food Plots, QDMA)

What was your source for your information?

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from bioguy01 wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago
from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

Craig, this blog or article is horrible. I think the biggest myth to kill plots is you help wildlife. You actually do not. You hurt the wildlife. Ever heard of CWD? It is now being linked to kill plots? Why? Kill plots are not natural. Too many deer are in one setting together passing on diseases. It is not natural to have that many deer together. It's funny how nearly every state puts out a pamphlet on the negative impacts of feeding wildlife and the consequences, yet it's ignored. Most biologists agree winter cover and not food is the key to winter survival for deer. Who cares if the deer are bigger? Who cares if the antlers are bigger? Healthy is not always bigger. If the whittail is too small in its natural state for you,then move on to an elk. Most common people want healthy meat, not gigantic who knows what. I suggest you read a little on what you are doing to the deer with a kill plot, start with googling "more harm than good" a brochure explaining the negative impact of deer feeding. And don't be a complete idiot and try to say that an oak tree or an apple tree are the same. It's completely different and you have enough to read tonight. If I was betting you are the type of guy that wil delete this and do a little griping and whining.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

Sorry, this is the last you'll hear from me on this, but there was so much stupid to straighten out.

"It’s nothing but a bunch of mature trees waiting for harvest." What the hell does that mean? Seriously, an Outdoorlife editor doesn't see the good in mature trees. Wow!

Craig I am hoping you're 23, an intern and living in your parents basement. I expect better from Outdoor Life.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

bioguy01,

My wife and I are small business owners, however I do have a masters degree with 30 undergraduate hours in science and biology. I am certified to teach science in Illinois.

What I do for a living, shouldn't matter though. You asked.

Craig did need someones help, at least you tried.

Can you become a certified deer biolgist? Or is that a term thrown around?

Can any biologist who works with deer part time or full time, just call themselves that? Is there mandatory special training or subjective?

Back to kill plots. As a "deer" biologist can you answer these questions for everyone?

Were deer starving in large numbers before kill plots?

Kill plots don't interfere with a deer's natural range, right?

Do you feel monoculture is a positive for a wildlife environment?

Was boone and crockett not recording any records before kill plots?

Does fertilizer, pesticides and insectides that are included with most kill plots help the deer?

If a yearling or fawn this year eats from a kill plot and the land owner does something different next year, did that help generations of deer and wildlife?

Predators like coyotes, probably stay away from kill plots because of all the wildlife and deer activity, right?

Teaching our children, to hunt the way of the kill plot, gives our future hunters the best understanding of the right way to hunt, right?

Millions of years of the land being the way that it has been, isn't right? Kill plots are big money for seed dealers. Kill plots make it easy for hunters to bag the big one fast. Kill plots spread disease.

Back to the whole mature tree thing, you guys are both crazy. Most average hunters depend on mature trees, just like the deer. I guess you guys just hunt from ground blinds and never look for acorns? Your kill plots fail every know and then just like an oak, but there is more than one oak tree in the woods. Please read about the benefits of trees for wildlife and deer.

Use your skills to better the environment, not for selling books and spewing your garbage. Nobody believes it.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

bioguy01, (1)"And so does just about everyone with a bachelors degree." No, your good ole boy mentality is off again. Go to www.isbe.net and you will see with a bachelors degree and no teaching experience, you will need "probably" another 2 years of college. You already knew I was from Illinois. (2) The question was can you become a deer biologist not a deer steward. I guess we will take this as a no, and you just call yourself what you like. (3) The deer starving question was a yes or no. From a professed "deer" biologist I was hoping you would recognize behavorial ecology, yarding, adaptive value or social biological points of view. If you need definitions again, just let me know. (4) Can I define range for a "deer" biologist, why sure. Range - land on which the principle natural plant cover is compiled of native grasses, forbs and shrubs that are valuable as forage for livestock and big game. From a scientific standpoint your generalizations are horrible. You are missing the biggest point, learned deer behavior. (5) You started off good with monoculture, it's a no. You mention corn and soybeans. You might want to rethink that. You also mention benefits of kill plots. We all see small benefits, but recognize the CWD link, other diseases, bad habits, predators sitting on the edge with no cover, etc.. You are doing harm to the herd, for what? That's tough to swallow I know. (6)The boone and crocket comment, really sums you up. I have as much proof that my daughter's pink camoflauge have increased the record book as your kill plots have. There are no concrete facts to support this. Please post your land management statistics, I am sure boone and crocket would love to see them. (7) Pesticides, Insecticides and fertilizers. Once again generalizations and no facts. "Pesticides and insecticides are rarely used in food plots." Says who? Were did you get that from good ole boy? You are not worried about fertilizers? How many are organic? (8) Generations of deer and wildlife. "If you knew anything about landowners who manage for deer, you would know that once they start, they can't stop. It's an addiction, but if for some reason they needed to stop improving the habitat, the herd can easily be put back in balance with the habitat by conducting a higher doe harvest and maintaining a smaller herd." Are you ok? People sell hunting land every day that has been so called managed. Not only do they quit sometimes, but they sell it. You have no facts again. Some people like to do it and others don't. Don't generalize every owner, they are not all the same. This made me laugh. (9) Predators. My point is it is well documented that predators sit and wait at kill plots, just as yourself. They kill deer here to and alot of fawns. Why? There's no cover. Maize would leave some for awhile, but not long. (10) To each his own, but I will preach to the next generation what I think is right and I really believe in the future it will be illegal to have a kill plot. (11) "Deer need growth at ground level to 6ft to be able to benefit. Think of it this way...you want an apple really bad, well first you need to wait for it to grow, so the tree is useless at that time because you're not getting anything from it but shade. Once it grows, it's out of reach. Until the apple falls on the ground, you're hungry and there's nothing you can do about it. When the apple falls, you will have some food, but when the apple is gone, you're back where you started. Unless there's other stuff on the ground for you to eat until the apple falls and after the apple is gone, you are left hungry. Does that make sense?" No not at all. How have the deer survived with out kill plots all these years? Diversity. When there is not an apple there is browse. When there is not browse there are acorns and so on. Deer do not need the false (unnatural) kill plot. You do. I hope you have learned the truth about kill plots and you start planting trees or let mother nature handle it. There are alot of fads when it comes to deer hunting and you are caught up in one. It boils down to this. All state and national wildlife agencies agree feeding wild animals is a bad idea. Why? Because the animals spread disease and become acustom to a food source that will not always be there. It's not worth it. Hunt the right way. Hunting has been done for thousands of years, without kill plots. I assure you, you can handle it.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

Berge 292 - Google "Kill Plots". It's the same as food plot, just a better name.

Bioguy01 (Neil or Craig) - We will take baby steps. (1) Question at a time. My question was can you become a deer biologist? What I mean is, Can someone ceritfy a deer biologist? If so, what are the qualifications? A weekend end class? (4) years of college?
Example. - Some people believe that teaching a child how to shoot a bb gun at home in the backyard would qualify them as a teacher. Others believe that a teacher must be certified through the state or a university. You call yourself a deer biologist. Can I call myself a deer biologist too? This is my question. I could care less what your qualifications are. I was wondering if this was a term just thrown around like a wal-mart greeter or gas station clerk. Don't know? Please tell us.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

But in May the Conservation Department approved a regulation change for a six-county area around the outbreak that restricts the use of products that “unnaturally concentrate" deer in an effort to slow the disease.

Salt products, minerals and other consumable natural or manufactured products used to attract deer are now prohibited in the CWD Containment Zone of Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph and Sullivan counties.

Wow! Here you go. Ask Missouri how they feel about kill plots. It might take an attorney to define consumable natural, or unnaturally concentrate, but we all know they are talking about the preferred attracting method of "kill plots".

Is it worth it?

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

bioguy01,

I like the effort. Why bring up the wildlife biologist certificaion? We all know this exists.

Tell me about the deer biologist certification. Oh wait, this does not exist. This does not exist in the university or at any state level.

My point is this. Anyone that has a bachelors degree in science/biology/wildlife related field and has had (any number I guess?) years of experience with deer can call themselves a deer biologist. There is not a proven method to becoming a deer biologist. It does not exist.

Call yourself what you like, but I do not consider you a "deer biologist".

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

bioguy01:
Another reason kill plots are bad. How many of us know of people still using turnips? How many other plants are bad for the deer? See what happens? Read this.
In recent years, brassicas (forage turnips, rape, kale, cabbage and fodder
radishes) have become popular, cheap forage plantings for white-tailed
deer food plots. Although brassicas have been used for grazing, allowing
animals such as white-tailed deer to consume large quantities can be
dangerous. These plants often contain large quantities of the alkaloids,
glucosenolates, thioglucosides and SMCO (S-methylcysteine suphoxide),
which are linked to a host of conditions including: poor performance,
hemolytic anemia, goiter, nitrate/nitrite poisoning, rumen stasis (paralysis),
polioencephalomalacia syndrome, bloat, embryonic death, poor
conception, reduced birth weights, tongue extension, excess salivation,
acute respiratory distress resulting in sudden death, blindness and
diarrhea. Glucosinolate concentrations of as little as 0.4% by dry weight is
considered to be toxic. Studies have reported concentrations in the tops
and leaves of kales to be 1.2 to 6.3 grams per kilogram; and, forage rape or
canola to range 2.9 to 11.9 grams per kilogram). Roots of turnips have
concentrations as high or higher than those found in leaves and stems.
The toxic dose of SMCO is 15 grams per 100 kilograms (fatal anemia) and
10 grams per 100 kilograms (low grade anemia). Concentrations of these
chemicals are reported to increase immediate after a drought and frost
conditions. The potential for poisoning is decreased if animals are
encouraged to eat other forages or by using rotation grazing; both
practices not practical with whitetails, since they tend to graze brassicas
heavily during winter. If you use brassicas in your food plot program, you
should take care to limit acreage and combine with other plants less toxic
to ruminants.
For more information

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

"The potential for poisoning is decreased if animals are
encouraged to eat other forages or by using rotation grazing; both
practices not practical with whitetails, since they tend to graze brassicas
heavily during winter." - My worry is some guys will just plant what they want hurting the herd.

"As evidenced by their record keeping of harvested kills, and the trophies on their walls, their herds appear to be in top-notch health. :-)" - The harvested kills may play into the health of the herd, but trophies on the wall is a slippery slope. Have you seen the 400" to 500" fenced in garbage deer? Are those deer much more healthy than the rest of the deer. Deer are not cattle.

The term "kill plot" is universal to me. If it is 43560 sq ft or 10 acres, to me it's a "kill plot". I use my own verbage, because I can. I do understand there are small and large "kill plots", with different purposes in mind.

In your older posts, you did do a lot of generalizing. I am not a professional when it comes to "kill plots", however I do have points that people can learn from.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

bioguy01:
"That's a legitimate worry. Some guys do plant what they want, but generally speaking, brassica toxicity is rare. For brassica toxicity to occur large quantities of brassicas need to be about the only food source available in a given area. Basically, deer need to almost exclusively be feeding on brassicas, and that just doesn't happen very often." - Read the whole report. You probably know which doctor in the deer world is presenting these facts. Did you read this sentence in the report? - (since they tend to graze brassicas heavily during winter)Bioguy01 - You said this doesn't happen very often. Biologists are making reports available that suggest in the winter brassica is sometimes their "only" food source. Why is this? Because "kill plotters" are ignorant to the anatomy and well being of the deer. I am now also finding some very interseting reports showing that "kill plotters" are introducing invasive plant species into different environments and are harming them. I will keep you posted on this. I don't want to overstate the facts, but it is looking more and more like this is this case.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

bioguy01: Dr. Kroll is hard to believe now.

Invasive species typically planted for food plots include woody lespedezas (Lespedeza bicolor and L. cuneata) as well as crown vetch (Vicia spp.).

Most of the Southeast’s primary game species (deer, turkey, quail) at one time thrived in natural longleaf pine ecosystems characterized by frequent fire and a diverse native herbaceous and shrub layer. As fire was excluded and longleaf forests were converted to lob or slash plantations, native herbs and shrubs declined. Many landowners became accustomed to planting food plots with species that were promoted by nurseries and biologists. Many of these food plot species were exotic Asian plants that are now identified as highly invasive weeds. This webinar will identify native alternatives that are commercially available and preferred by game species. Furthermore, many native herbs and shrubs are rarely invasive, more attractive on the landscape, and potential food sources for human foragers!

Ecological Threat: In North America, Japanese honeysuckle has few natural enemies which allows it to spread widely and out-compete native plant species. Its evergreen to semi-evergreen nature gives it an added advantage over native species in many areas. Shrubs and young trees can be killed by girdling when vines twist tightly around stems and trunks, cutting off the flow of water through the plant. Dense growths of honeysuckle covering vegetation can gradually kill plants by blocking sunlight from reaching their leaves. Vigorous root competition also helps Japanese honeysuckle spread and displace neighboring native vegetation.

Biology & Spread: Growth and spread of Japanese honeysuckle is through vegetative (plant growth) and sexual (seed) means. It produces long vegetative runners that develop roots where stem and leaf junctions (nodes) come in contact with moist soil. Underground stems (rhizomes) help to establish and spread the plant locally. Long distance dispersal is by birds and other wildlife that readily consume the fruits and defecate the seeds at various distances from the parent plant.

History: Introduced from Japan in the early 1800s. Traditional ornamental, valued as deer browse, with some value for erosion control. Still planted in wildlife food plots.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

bioguy01 & Craig, I would suggest reading these (2) reports. - "Chronic Wasting Disease and the Science in support of the Ban on Baiting and Feeding Deer." and "A Comprehensive Review of the Ecological and Human Social Effects of Artificial Feeding and Baiting of Wildlife" This information "comes from" a joint project of the Boone and Crockett Club, Mule Deer Foundation, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Please read all 76 pages before drawing any conclusions.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Thanks for sending your inquiry into the CWD Alliance! Your question is a good one and is also one that has sparked debate among biologists and hunters for many years. To answer plainly, any situation, whether created by natural or artificial means, that causes wild animals to congregate at or regularly revisit a specific location, has the potential to cause an increase in animal to animal contact and environmental contamination that can potentially spread disease and/or parasites. CWD is only one of many diseases that can be spread and propagated through the congregation of animals. There is no doubt that if feed plots were being used in an area where CWD was present in wild populations, the risk of spreading the disease at that site would increase. Based on studies from the University of Michigan, risk of CWD transmission at these sites may be even higher than most diseases since the prions likely responsible for transmitting the disease persist in the soil for several years. These finding have been anecdotally verified at the Colorado Division of Wildlife Research Facility where CWD was first identified. Over the years, repeated attempts at sterilizing the facility and its grounds have failed. Every cervid that has been housed at the facility has contacted the disease seemingly from the environment (likely soil).

To my knowledge, no one is presently conducting a study specifically on feed plots and their potential role in spreading CWD. While such a study would be interesting, the ongoing environmental contamination studies of CWD will likely yield the results needed to help wildlife managers regulate the issues you have identified.

I hope I answered your questions. If not, please don't hesitate to contact me so we can visit further.

Best Regards,

Matt Dunfee

Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance Coordinator

Wildlife Management Institute

Post Office Box 33819

Washington, DC 20033-0819

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