Deer hunters are putting in marijuana food plots this spring

What was once an underground movement mostly utilized by cannabis enthusiasts who also hunted is now a popular food-plot tactic in states across the U.S.
Deer hunters are putting in marijuana food plots this spring

As more states legalize marijuana, Deer Research Lab, Inc., continues to see signs of hunters adopting marijuana use, not for themselves, but for their food plots. In a research report published earlier this year by the lab, six U.S. states lead the way in pioneering this new food-plot strategy:

“Most commonly, you see a cross-section of hunters coming from those states that share two traits: a legalized status for marijuana and a higher-than-average density of hunters. State wildlife agencies reporting the highest rates of marijuana-based, food-plot adoption include Washington, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, New Mexico and Arizona.”  

State marijuana laws in 2018

marijuana food plots

State Marijuana Laws in 2018. Click here for the interactive map. Image:

Long before the research lab started documenting such incidents between deer and happy weed, publications serving the cannabis community were busy writing tips to help growers keep deer out of their marijuana plants.

Grasscity Magazine posted this:

“If your marijuana growth is in an open area, it should be fine. However, if it’s in a more rugged, wooded area, beware! You need to be vigilant for a deer problem that may put your crop in peril!

“It’s only then when trying to find out who destroyed your plants, does one discover a deer’s hoof tracks, deer droppings and the remnants of plants like leaves, buds, and seedlings that they have left behind.”

Of course, what constitutes a problem for one group, can have the inverse effect on another group.

Hemp farming sparks marijuana food plots in North Carolina

A year ago, a North Carolina dairy farmer and avid hunter came by the marijuana-food-plot strategy by accident.

“Dairymen don’t make a lot of cash, anybody in the business will tell you that,” said Jackie Short. “But it’s a helluva profession for a hunter. Naturally, you’re a land owner cause you’ve got to have some acreage for grazing. You wake at 4 a.m. and milk till sunrise and then you haul ass out to sit, and you hunt whatever the hell is in season.”

The thing is, Short was serious when he said the money wasn’t good for dairymen. In 2016 he was on the brink of getting out of farming, at least until a local extension agent offered a solution.

“Milk prices? We oughta just give it away. The big corporations try to screw you any way they can,” said Short. “So this fellow put me onto this commercial hemp idea. Well, quite honestly, I didn’t know what the hell hemp was, but I figured it out and we got our first crop in last year.”

North Carolina launched its Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program two years ago, and the state’s agriculture agency is accepting applications for prospective 2018 growers until June 1. Once Short seeded his first hemp field, he stumbled onto a byproduct of sorts.

“This old boy that lives down the road, he’s a hunting buddy of mine, he told me I needed to set up a few treestands around the new hemp field; said he couldn’t keep the deer out of his little hidden patch of happy weed.”

Not long into the 2017 deer season, Short ended up with what he called “a nice buck” that’s now mounted in his living room. Still, Short’s hemp-field success only motivated him to do more. In preparation for the 2018 whitetail season, Short doubled-down and planted all of his food plots in marijuana, replacing the clover he'd always relied on. He's hoping the marijuana will be an even stronger attractant than the hemp proved to be.

Through trial and error, he's learned what Grasscity Magazine already knew.

“The problem with the hemp field is it’s not surrounded by timber, so the deer herds are pretty exposed when they approach the field. I decided I got lucky last year,” Short said. “So this year, marijuana will be available to them in nice little wildlife openings within some tracks of land I have that’s covered in hardwoods.”

Understanding a deer’s appetite for marijuana

As more states legalize marijuana, reports continue to surface about whitetail deer and their appetite for cannabis. In 2015, the U.S. News and  World Report posted a story about deer getting the munchies in Oregon that stated, “The deer got by barbed-wire fencing a couple weeks ago and went through the hemp plants like high-powered mowers.”

But if hunters think the marijuana cravings will make deer high, happy and far less wary, they’d be mistaken.

According to Weed Women, a non-profit alliance of woman researchers who focus on the transformative properties of cannabis, deer won’t get high from mowing through marijuana plants, despite its levels of THC (the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects).

“THC is oil soluble, so it can only be released and absorbed by the body through heat,” said Mother Johns. “So if a hunter is looking to get the deer high — which would be suspect, I might add — you might bake some brownies and spread them out between the rows of marijuana plants. That way, you’re not only luring the deer into a hunter’s target area, but also getting them high enough to be less wary of hunters and other predators.”

This strategy isn’t one Nate Nix, regional wildlife biologist at Deer Research Lab, Inc., expects hunters to adopt.

“Hunters want a challenge,” said Nix. “They’re ethical and their pursuit of wild game is pure.”

Not all hunters feel that way though. One hunter on an Archery Talk forum laments that he wished the deer around his place would get stoned. “Might make (it) easier to get (one) to run into one of my arrows! Then you could bait em' with Doritos.”

Check out what else is new

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