What does the future hold for food plot strategies and agricultural practices for whitetails? I’m here to tell you it’s a game changer and the regenerative food plotting movement will finally address the underlying causes of a whole host of chronic diseases that plague modern whitetails (CWD).
What does food plotting look like in 15 years? 30 years? I can guarantee you one thing, based on the way modern food plotting has degraded our ecosystem and whitetail health, it will look drastically different or we will continue to be faced with difficult deer management decisions. Unless we change courses, we will continue to degrade our most valuable national resource and the foundation of giant whitetails: soil health. If we degrade the microbiome (immune system) of the soil, the health of our whitetails will continue to decline. As I work with clients all across the country, I gain valuable, optimistic glimpses into what the future holds for food plots and I’d like to paint a brief picture here so you can start future proofing your food plot plan now!
The future food plotter will first and foremost change how they “see” a food plot. The days of chemically intensive, synthetic-fertilizer-dependent, monoculture food plotting will fade because these practices degrade the ecosystem and fail to grow healthy whitetails. Many hunters inaccurately label the venison they eat as “organic” and “healthier than beef” when in fact researchers have proven that toxic agricultural and industrial chemicals are found in whitetails. While we can’t control what whitetails eat when they venture off our properties, we can present nutrient dense, toxin-free plants on the properties we hunt.
Regarding change, it has been said that if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change. The food plotter of the future will look at the soil as the foundation of whitetail health and once again realize that by nourishing the soil, healthy, mature bucks are a guaranteed byproduct. In fact, prior to the advent of chemical agriculture, this is how our founding fathers and farmers of the era looked at agriculture: the health of the soil is the foundation of all health on earth! Food plotters of the future will worry less about how their food plots look and more about managing their soil health for nutrient dense plantscapes.
We all need a “cookbook”, or a series of major steps and “ingredients” to follow or we will lose sight of the end goal. While there is no user’s manual for future proof food plotting (or farming), there are some basic principles that must be followed. If a user’s manual was available, it would be called “Food Plotting in Nature’s Image” and the tools and techniques would mirror the way Nature does things. Food plotting practices would be geared toward increased plant diversity, maintaining a year-round, living plant with healthy roots and above ground plant biomass that armors the soil from wind and water erosion. Future proof food plotters won’t concern themselves with using genetically modified plants so that toxic, man-made chemicals can be sprayed to eliminate hundreds of plants (AKA “weeds”) that whitetails use for nourishment and self-medication. Instead, older varieties that have not been bred for specific traits, such as the ancient and heritage grains, will become more popular. The fact is, many of the herbicides that food plotters commonly use are patented as antibiotics and while many doctors avoid overprescribing antibiotics to humans, more than 300 million pounds of one popular weed killer, that also works as an antibiotic, is sprayed on farms, parks, lawns and golf courses each year! This must stop.
The future proof farmer will have a better understand of which farming practices degrade soil and whitetail health and which practices promote and attract healthy whitetails. If we truly desire healthy whitetails, all of life killing chemicals must become a last resort. The truth is these chemicals disrupt physiological and biological systems and lead to disease. As many common herbicides and pesticides are banned or exposed for what they truly do to living organisms of all kinds, the future proof food plotter better learn how to farm without them!
Minimize the bad, maximize the good
Food plotting on the right side of history includes a better understanding of what whitetails lack in their supplemental diets. If we truly wish to turn around diseases like CWD, we must address the toxic and nutrient lacking agricultural and food plotting strategies we use. We are adding an excess of the bad and not enough of the beneficial! As a society, our agronomic practices have focused far too much on growing three main crops: corn, soybeans and wheat. While there are many reasons for this, food plotters will realize that whitetails have evolved to rely on hundreds of different plants for their nutritional and medicinal needs; not merely the big three.
Our nutrient density lacking human food supply has been the true underlying cause of most, if not all, of our diseases. The food plot industry once focused primarily on clover and one or two other small grains. Even today, with so many diverse cover crop species available, food plotters still ignore their enormous benefits to both soil health and whitetail health. The fact is, whitetails once had hundreds of plants to nourish and medicate their bodies. Just as the answer to addressing human disease and malnutrition will be through using our food as medicine, the future proof food plotter will use plants, and their powerful phytochemicals, to fight disease and optimize health and antler size.
Food plots for whitetails are written about extensively because they WORK! Anyone who has incorporated food plots into their whitetail management program knows that they are a game changer when it comes to maximizing deer utilization of a small piece of property and putting more antler décor on the wall (and delicious food in the freezer). Exactly what the future holds for food plotters excites me and if you want to remain on the cutting edge of food plotting, you better future proof your plots, and how you plant them, now!
In the August issue I’ll explain how many cutting edge food plotters are looking to regenerative wildlife agriculture to attract and nourish whitetails. We’ll look at some of the strategies that will dominate the play book of the future proof food plotter. I’ll also layout how you can get started in your own soil health/regenerative food plotting journey, no matter how large or small your food plot plan is, so you too will end up on the right side of food plotting history!