Let me save you some money and time. Most, probably won’t believe this because nobody on television is saying it. This is factual. Use it or don’t. I don’t care.
You figure on planting something to improve the size of the bodies and antlers on the deer you hunt? Can’t be done.
They already have more and better nutrition than their bodies can utilize. But then, I don’t have any high-priced seed to sell or a food plot in Texas. So, what do I know?
Back in 1995, a guy from down at Auburn University, named Dr. Lee Stribling, told me, “John, not one thing you plant will add one inch to a buck’s antlers.”
But see, he planted a big ole food plot in strips. In between each one he had what you call check plots. Those are strips that were allowed to come back in native growth.
Then, he stuck a bunch of cameras and students to monitor the plot. Guess where the deer spent most of their time browsing. That’s right -- the native plots.
Deer in most of Tennessee, do not need any supplement. Everything they need in terms of minerals, is more than available in our woods.
I’m not the only one who says that. A guy I consider to be one of the two or three top deer biologist in the country-one who doesn’t have a sponsor or a bag of seed to sell-agrees with me.
“Multiple studies show free-ranging deer almost never lack minerals,” said Daryl Ratajtzak, former head of the Tennessee Big Game program, now with the Feds.
Under him, Tennessee became the poster child for Big Game management.
“Wild animals in areas devoid of humans are typically not struggling to survive.
They did not need our help for hundreds of thousands of years so why do we think they suddenly need our help now? They don’t.
“Providing food for wildlife through habitat management can absolutely benefit deer, but as a whole it doesn’t make them grow any bigger.
"This is the crux of the 2+2=8 philosophy. When you believe that doing something actually equals more than the true end result,” Ratajtzak said.
See, even though I cannot spell his last name, I know common sense when I see it.
Plus, he has all these fancy studies to draw from and besides, he doesn’t have any seeds in fancy bags to sell.
Here is a perfect example of what I mean. This is direct quote. “Give yourself the edge of a professional with our proven mineral supplement that stimulates antler growth and overall herd health!! Save 20% off any purchase of $30 or more when you apply code save20 at checkout!" That is an actual advertisement.
Here is something else we agree on. “This ‘feeding frenzy’ is a concept that has been created by the hunting industry over the last few decades.
"To put it bluntly, it was a marketing strategy. It was designed and pushed to make a profit for man for it certainly wasn’t based on what science tells us free-ranging deer need. Is it bad? No… not if it is done right,” Ratajtzak said.
If you want to plant a food plot, do so. It is not going to hurt anything. But let’s be honest. You are not going to have any bigger deer with any bigger antlers.
But it will make some of them easier to kill. Now, be honest, isn’t that your main goal?
So here is the bottom line. Save some money. Don’t pay for a fancy bag of seed steeped in great advertising based 100% on the desire to sell you high-priced seed.
Your deer do not need you to do anything. They get everything they need from what is there, right now.
But, if you want to attract deer to your property and maybe retain them there, go ahead. Plant a food plot.
But use a simple, cheap mixture of say, rye grass, winter wheat and maybe some ladino clover.
After all, what you are really trying do is make them easier to kill. You can’t make them any bigger or have any bigger antlers if they are free-ranging.
So maybe I can save you some money. Thanks Daryl, for your professional insight.