Food plotting....man it’s definitely a hot topic and I’ve seen more theories about it than I can count!
To be fair, there is more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to plots. There are different habitat types like ag vs big woods and there are different terrain features that will dictate where a plot can go.
However, through my experience personally I started to come up with my own theory on plots and where to put them...and when you hear the same thoughts come from another hunter like Don (who has had more success and experience) it solidifies things a bit more.
Today we have a plethora of information available to us, online via forums and social media, through books, YouTube, and seminars in person. Anyone can put out info and if it looks good it catches on. One of those things I see a lot of pictures and posts on are the layout and design of food plots on properties…
I’d say the vast majority of the images I see are of intricately designed food plots with connecting food plot trails and micro plots laid out in a way that (in theory) takes deer around your property so that you can have many stand sites to hunt without impacting the deer and yet give you those nice easy shooting opportunities at deer crusing those plots. It looks beautiful on paper and in person!
But how effective is it at giving you opportunities to kill that buck you’re after?
Is it the best use of the land you have available?
Does it narrow down the possible spots to kill that buck OR does it actually create more potential spots and make picking the right spot more difficult?
Here’s what Don had to say when I asked him about this topic - “Fewer but larger food plots”.
I love when the answer I get aligns with what I was thinking and what my experience has been, it makes me think “hey I might actually know what I’m talking about” haha! When you see so much info that contradicts your thoughts it makes you second guess things sometimes…
Here’s something to think about and I think is a good analogy for the “fewer but larger” vs “multiple intricately designed” food plot strategies.
The “fewer but larger” plot idea is like hunting near a field edge where deer have to enter the field through a hole in the fence. That makes picking the right spot to set up much easier. There are fewer options, it focuses the deer movement towards certain spots.
Compare that to the “multiple intricately designed” plot layout that is like hunting the same field edge that has no fence at all. Deer have the option to come out anywhere along that field (I’m sure we’ve all hunted situations like this before). There are too many options to choose from, too many places he can go to feed because there’s food and access to that food everywhere.
Another example would be 1 feeder/bait pile (focused plots) vs multiple bait piles around your property (multiple intricately designed plots). The second option gives you more stand sites but you have no idea which one that buck will be at...which leads to frustration especially with cell cams today letting you know he was at the other spot that night...
You don't have to be sitting over a food plot...in fact most of the big bucks killed will be taken in cover away from food. So having little plots and plot trails around your property just to make stand sites probably doesn't make the most sense anyway...
I could probably write a book chapter on this topic (maybe i will someday) but if you read Article #1 in this blog series you know that food plots are #4 on the list of Keys to a Great Mature Buck Property. They are a huge draw but by concentrating the food sources into 1-2 places it will allow you to have more (and better) of the other 3 keys to a great mature buck property and will take more of the guess work out of which stand you should sit that day.
As in life, sometimes we give ourselves too many options and spend time chasing things in circles...when we could have easily eliminated half the options and increased our odds of success by focused effort.
That's my take and experience on the subject anyway...
I hope this article helped in some way, if you have any input I’d love to hear it!