A little over one week ago I commented to someone how one of my snowmobiles was running better than ever. As I went to start it yesterday, I ran for a few seconds and then quit. No matter what I did to try to get it to run yesterday, it wouldn’t run. As frustrated as that was in the moment, it lead me to think about the next steps. After getting another of my snowmobiles running, I also got out both of my 4 wheelers for the boys to ride on. As we circled the farms, I took in many sites. As I watched many deer in their environment, my mind was thinking ahead to the 2023 planting season. I already had a plan in place. It should “run good.” But then I started thinking about that snowmobile. That snowmobile can be a lot like all of our food plot programs.
Food plots can be incredible. Everything can be going along smoothly. Sometimes we get surprised by things in the most inopportune times. Whether it is from mother nature or from our complacency, we should always expect the unexpected and have a plan in place to get back on track. We are in a world where we see what we want to see. If we see great, it’s as simple as that. As long as we see our food plots looking good at the moment, all is well with the world. It is always my goal to try to get people to think beyond the now. The now you are in may be setting yourself up for failure. It might not be this year. It might not even be the following year but like going to the casino, the odds are stacked against us to always be winners.
All too often the issue is planting forages that are heavy nutrient miners and not fully understanding how that will affect us in the future. All too often people buy “the bag” of seed. The great unknown is how much forage that has the potential to produce and what level of nutrients are extracted out of the soil to produce that attractive plot. Even in a situation where we might have the right pH. and an optimum level of phosphorous and potassium, we might be in for a lesson. Most people reading this have no idea how fast one could mine your soils. Very few understand what truly the most important aspect of food plotting is . It is soil microbial health, not soil ph. So many food plotters are setting themselves up for failures by killing the living organisms in their soils. That puts an even bigger toll on the extraction of nutrients in those soils.
We all have seen plot failures and not know why they failed. Now what? I get many calls on this. I try to get people to “recalibrate” their minds and their food plot programs. It all starts with getting back to a baseline. I want people to think of it like shooting free throws. Sometimes we are poor shooters because of one major flaw. Other times we might have little elements like your foot work. Whether it’s one thing or many things, they all go hand in hand in a synergistic manner. I always hear from food plotters how their soil pH. is perfect and they fertilized how they were told to. Once we start asking enough questions, sometimes the answer is obvious. Other times it takes many questions for me to spot the problem. Whether it’s poor growth or “the deer wont eat my food plots”, there are always ways to “recalibrate” and get things running smoothly once again. Those plots might not be starting like that old snowmobile and at times we might need to get another set of eyes on the problem. Whether it is a lose wire (soil pH.) or complete lack of power ( dead or dying oils), we can figure it out.
My challenge to you all is this. Do not become complacent. Educate yourselves on how your plots will yield. Understand what those plants need to become average and what happens if they exceed expected yields. Learn how to plant for your own unique situation this year to increase the odds of success the next two years. Learn how to stop being a soil killer and learn how to rebalance our soils. Sounds complicated, right? It’s not really. We just need to learn from the right teachers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and expect something besides a solution in a bag. Don’t just buy that snowmobile and then get frustrated when it’s not running. Have at least a basic understanding of where to first look before you get on the phone, in panic mode. Consider buying that snowmobile from someone who has a really great service department even more so than friendly sales staff.
Food for thought.