Food plot envy

Biologists say it’s a new disorder that’s popping up across much of the Eastern U.S. and it’s becoming a real problem for some hunters.
Food plot envy

Todd Buck is your normal, run-of-the-mill deer hunter. He loves nothing more than to spend his fall weekends peacefully perched in a treestand or shooting house on his back-40 in central Kentucky.

“We used to see a lot of deer around here and we killed some real nice ones, too,” says Buck. “Five years ago, it wasn’t nothing for my cousin and I to shoot real nice 4 or 5-point bucks each season. We even shoot cull bucks to get them out of the herd. You know, spikes and deer with one antler on the one side, stuff like that.”

Buck said times used to be easier and you didn’t have to do much work to prepare for hunting season. Reminiscing, he recounts how they used to trim some shooting lanes and spray for wasps’ nest in shooting houses prior to season starting, and that was about it.

That is, until John Bigguns bought 650 acres bordering Buck four years ago.

“You can’t hide money! This guy comes in from the city and buys up all my neighbor’s land where I used to be able to legally poach deer and puts up ‘No Trespassing’ signs and signs that say, ‘Property Monitored by Cell Cameras,’ etc,”says Buck.

It turns out, the signs were the least of Buck’s worries. Soon, Bigguns was establishing large food plots and planting crops year-round for the deer and wild turkeys. Over the next couple of years, deer and turkey sightings plummeted on Buck’s property.

“It got bad, real bad,” says Buck. “My old tried-and-true spots just weren’t producing anymore. I had to start hunting the property line in places that offered a long shot into Bigguns’ land. He doesn’t make it easy — he doesn’t even put food plots on the line!”

Buck borrowed a hobby tractor and started to disc up ground in open areas and throw rye grass seed before a rain. It sprouted and turned green, but he just wasn’t getting the results Bigguns was getting on his property. The deer and turkey sure weren’t crossing the line to feed either. Relationships got even more strained when Bigguns stopped by one afternoon to offer some advice on how to grow better food plots.

“He rolls up in here in his air-conditioned tractor talking about pH, lime, fertilizer and cereal grains,” says Buck. “Cereal grains? Really! I’m trying to hunt deer, not pour a bowl of Cheerios.”

Many hunter-sabotage incidents have been reported in recent years. In this photo, a disgruntled hunter was captured by a trail camera as he sprayed his neighbor's food plot with Roundup.

Wildlife Biologist Craig Knowsmore says that Buck isn’t an isolated occurrence. “We’re seeing more and more hunters getting food-plot envy these days,” says Knowsmore. “Back in the 70s and 80s deer hunters took to the woods or used dogs to hunt deer, but in the last two to three decades hunters are becoming land and wildlife managers. They’re applying farming and science-based practices on their land and really reaping the benefits.”

Unfortunately, hunters such as Buck are left scratching their heads or becoming bitter. Some of these hunters are retaliating, too.

“Yeah, we’ve worked quite a few cases of hunter sabotage in the last few years,” explains Knowsmore. “We’ve seen everything from disgruntled hunters defecating under treestands to food plots being sprayed with Roundup. It’s really sad, but that’s what happens when everyone gets a participation trophy.”

Buck says he’s going to try some new tactics this upcoming season. Most of which will include a truckload of corn and perhaps the purchase of an invisibility cloak from online. “Heck, if that doesn’t work, then I don’t know what I’m going to do next,” sighs Buck. “But I know one thing, if that Bigguns tells me one more time that the buck I shoot ‘sure would have been a good one next year,’ I’m gonna beat his….”

Do you have food plot envy? Then subscribe to Whitetail Journal where you’ll learn how to properly amend your soil, spray for weeds and plant quality seeds to attract and hold deer and turkeys year-round on your property. Plus, it’s a free subscription!

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