Food Plots: Expectations vs Reality

When planting food plots the expectation many have is that they will not only see more deer activity, but more mature bucks. If hunted properly this can be a realistic goal. However, when food plots become high pressured deer activity will shift to well after dark. Here are three examples of expectations we’ve heard that we are quick to shed some light on:

Expectation: “My food plot will keep the deer from going to the neighbors.’’

Reality: Unless you’re hunting high fence deer, there is no such thing as a guarantee in the whitetail woods. Even the best habitat managers lose big bucks to their neighbors. Having a sanctuary bedding area along with unpressured food and water are the keys to successful hunting in the Midwest. 

Expectation: “I’ll set my box blind in the middle of the food plot so I can shoot anything that comes in the field.’’

Reality: This hunting strategy may work on television shows where they are hunting unpressured deer. However, in Indiana and throughout the Midwest it is not a realistic expectation. Each time you enter and exit the blind through the plot the deer are becoming educated. It’s unrealistic to believe you’re completely scent free. If you’re blowing deer off of the food plots with your entrance/exit strategy, they’ll quickly become nocturnal. The addition of a screeening product such as our Defender Screen is highly recommended in any scenario that involves hunting over a food plot. 

Expectation: “I’ve sat over my food plot for a week straight and I haven’t killed a mature buck.’’

Reality: This is simply just a poor hunting strategy. We very rarely suggest stand locations over food sources unless the entrance/exit strategy is perfect. The best stand locations will always be the travel corridors to and from bedding and food. We have a few stand locations overlooking food sources that we only hunt in the absolute perfect situation. These situations are usually late season hunts over unpressured food with frigid cold temps or recently fallen snow. Early November hunts with an incoming cold front are also a great option. 

Simply put, food plots are not a fool proof addition to making your property more attractive to deer. Improving sanctuary bedding, native browse, and travel corridors should be the first step in improving a property. After planting a food plot taking proper care to ensure your entry/exit strategy is on point, wind direction is perfect, and situational hunting (ex: cold front strategies) are also important factors to consider before climbing in a tree. Being the ultimate predator should be the goal of every hunter before they enter the woods.