Editors Blog

Are Food Plots the Same as Baiting?

Are food plots the same as baiting? That’s up to you to decide. A better question is: When will hunters stop bickering with each other and get back to doing what they do best: hunting for the love of the hunting lifestyle.

“Food plots are not the same as baiting!”

“Any idiot can dump a bag of corn on the ground and kill a deer!”

“Food plots are the thinking man’s way of saving the whitetail planet!”

For the love of gravy, people, let’s stop kidding ourselves.

We don’t need to conduct a scientific survey to surmise 99.9 percent of whitetail hunters plant food plots to attract and congregate deer on their properties. Period. You can pontificate all you want about how you’re “creating a Leupold landscape,” but no one’s buying it.

Do food plots help create additional nutrition sources for deer? Absolutely. Are they better than pouring thousands of pounds of shelled corn on the landscape? You bet.

Semantical rhetoric aside, food plots, by and large, are planted to condition deer, congregate deer and alter deer behavior for the benefit of the hard-working guys and gals who in fall are occupying those conveniently placed box blinds, towers, hang-ons and ladder stands. If they happen to see a Karner blue butterfly as a result, they’ll probably say what I say, “Huh. Cool.” But I guarantee you the preponderance of them are not planting the food plot for that, or any similar, result.

Food plots are better than baiting for myriad reasons — like forcing deer to graze naturally rather than eat at a concentrated pile day after day, etc. This is especially true when you’re talking about large destination plots that are designed to provide mass forage production in areas with really marginal natural food sources.But there’s no need to sugar-coat it for the smaller plots — aptly dubbed “kill plots” — no further explanation is needed.

I write these words not to incite angry responses or create a war within our ranks. This is not a “you’re not a real hunter if …” argument. This is about calling a spade a spade. Are planting apple trees the same as baiting? If the goal is to attract and congregate deer near a deer stand, yes, I would say it’s no different. Is planting that apple tree more refined than placing a spin feeder? Heck yes, but who cares? This shouldn’t be about gaining superficial brownie points for appearing so much more civilized than someone else. 

Me? Judge not, lest ye be judged. Whatever’s legal in your area, have at it — be that a food plot, apple orchard, corn feeder, etc. I surely will not look down my nose at anyone who is hunting legally and ethically.

Here’s another view from a good friend of mine:

“If I plant five, six, seven things and keep them going year-round with mowing, fertilizer and whatnot then IMO that’s different. FEW people do that, though. It’s just like people talk about ‘predator management’ but won’t let trappers on their property and think shooting three coyotes from a deer stand is ‘management.’ It’s most definitely not.”

Final analysis: Are food plots the same as baiting? I dunno. But what I do know is the bowhunter in the above photo certainly isn’t waiting on a butterfly to float out of that brush, quarter away and offer a nice, clean shot.



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