It’s no big secret how a corn field is like a deer magnet in the late fall season. This is particularly true during the end of the harvest when unpicked corn fields can be quite hard for wildlife and hunters to find. But to the smart hunter, he can help create some of his own opportunities by simply using these food plots carefully and strategically.
A few days ago I was talking with my friend, Jeff, who explained to me that he bought a cornfield with a few of his hunting buddies. My immediate reaction was “you did what?” “Yea,” he said, “we talked a farmer into leaving a patch of corn near the woods where we hunt. We paid him $300 for about half an acre.” Essentially what Jeff and his friends did was pay the farmer to leave the corn in his field unpicked until spring. Jeff told me he didn’t really know if that was a good deal for the farmer or not, but he seemed satisfied.
Well, after hearing that I sat down to do the math. Assume a farmer averages 175 bushels of corn to the acre. I think that is a fair estimate as some fields are more fertile…others are less so. Then figure corn at about $2.00/bushel (this is a good estimate because even though a farmer could likely contract for a higher price…he experiences some savings by not combining the crop and having to haul it to market).
Jeff’s little purchase set him back $300. But the farmer was all smiles because for his ½ acre plot he could have realized maybe 90 bushels of yield that at $2 would have made him roughly $180 in the market. Getting $300 for the opportunity cost of not harvesting $180 worth of crops was a good deal…I dare say for the farmer, for Jeff…but most importantly for the wildlife in the area.
Certainly I don’t mean for this to be a lesson in grain commodity economics, instead…I want to point out how a group of sportsmen pooled their money to pay off the farmer…and in exchange they just might have significantly improved their success for later this fall. This holds true for this group of hunters whether it’s for pheasants or during firearms deer season.
Consider how a small group of, let’s say six hunters, pooled their money into the example I described above. Think of how each of these hunters has potentially increased their chances for a successful late season hunt. Furthermore, this wildlife food plot will be around when the hunting seasons close providing food and shelter for wildlife all through the winter. In some areas, a food plot could mean the difference in whether or not the deer will even winter in that particular area. If there is no food or adequate shelter, they will likely go elsewhere to find it.
I think more sportsmen need to think about how a wildlife food plot could benefit the area where they hunt. Certainly I am not advocating hunting right where the plot is (akin to baiting), but just having the food near a parcel of woods could be a big boon in the number of wildlife sightings during the season.
A group of hunters, in fact, might decide to use the food plot as a refuge in effect not allowing any hunting in that area. The choice is really up to the sportsmen to decide. The bottom line is either way a wildlife food plot will serve as a “welcome mat” of sorts, for many different species of wildlife.
Food and shelter are two vital essentials to any wildlife species. The other big requirement is water. When you develop a management plan to incorporate these plots into your hunting areas you are bound to improve your success. Besides, what’s the worst thing that could happen…you give a little bit back to nature for the opportunity to take just a little bit. Like I said, how you use the food plot (to hunt or not to hunt) is up to you…but for a small investment you might just reap some big dividends toward your future hunting success.
© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.