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Thread: Food plots for elk!!!!

  1. #1
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    Food plots for elk!!!!

    All of the topics I've seen on food plots addresses deer and not elk. Why is that? Are elk not attracted to these types of feed? Have they developed a mix recommended just for elk? Also the mule deer are not addressed but I know they like alfafa fields. Is there plantings that they prefer? Any information or experiences that any of you have had please let me know.

    Thanks,
    Norm

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  2. #2
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    not sure, but I know of one ranch nearby that uses alfalfa plots. Seems to keep the resident elk pretty happy, they don't often cross the fence. Of course, all the hunters waiting on the public land outside the fence may have something to do with that also.

    Quote Originally Posted by NormPaul View Post
    All of the topics I've seen on food plots addresses deer and not elk. Why is that? Are elk not attracted to these types of feed? Have they developed a mix recommended just for elk? Also the mule deer are not addressed but I know they like alfafa fields. Is there plantings that they prefer? Any information or experiences that any of you have had please let me know.

    Thanks,
    Norm

  3. #3
    Elk will automatically trend towards private land during the hunting seasons due to the amount of pressure on public hunting grounds.

    Why would a rancher dedicate time and money to attract elk when, odds are, they will be attracted to his land anyway because he doesn't have many hunters there?

    I also dont think it would be very cost effective...

  4. #4
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    The majority of elk hunting is done on public land where it's either illegal to plant food plots or just not worth it.

    And like Campo said, it would not be cost-effective in the least.
    Texas heart shooter.

  5. #5
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    What about a guy doing it on his own property? It would seem that it could only help to attract Elk and Mulies. I'm not saying alfalfa necessarily, but maybe some clover or something. I wonder with Elk traveling so much and so far, how would a food plot work with them? Would they stay in the area more or just make it one of their stops when coming thru? I know some places it is illegal to plant a food plot , but I like the way clover looks so I'd be planting it for its' asthetics
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  6. #6
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    Lets say you have a nearby herd of 30 elk. Who wants to plant 40 acres or more of a dedicated food plot that will only keep the elk there as long as there is no hunting pressure? You'd be doing far more farming than hunting.

    Couple of other points...

    Water - its either gonna cost you in the form of water shares or you'll be at the whim of nature.

    Season - most of the elks summer early fall range is high. Hard to plant when there's still snow on the ground in June and freezing comes early.

    You still have to compete with the elks' favorites. When there's a good acorn crop, I think the elk are still gonna be in the oak brush.
    The kill is the satisfying, indeed essential, conclusion to a successful hunt. But, I take no pleasure in the act itself. One does not hunt in order to kill, but kills in order to have hunted. Then why do I hunt? I hunt for the same reason my well-fed cat hunts...because I must, because it is in the blood, because I am the decendent of a thousand generations of hunters. I hunt because I am a hunter.- Finn Aagard

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobmuley View Post
    Lets say you have a nearby herd of 30 elk. Who wants to plant 40 acres or more of a dedicated food plot that will only keep the elk there as long as there is no hunting pressure? You'd be doing far more farming than hunting.What if there was no hunting around the plot. If it was used to attract game and you had minimum distance for hunting near the plot?

    Couple of other points...

    Water - its either gonna cost you in the form of water shares or you'll be at the whim of nature. What if water was not a prob at all?

    Season - most of the elks summer early fall range is high. Hard to plant when there's still snow on the ground in June and freezing comes early.Somewhere around 9-10k. The stuff lives no prob under snow in Iowa & has come back every year. would only have to endure an extra month or two. Couldn't plant until July tho.

    You still have to compete with the elks' favorites. When there's a good acorn crop, I think the elk are still gonna be in the oak brush.There is alot of hunting pressure around the oak brush where we are.
    Just some ?'s for you Bob. I really value your opinion.
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  8. #8
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    Rent Chappels Extreme bulls and you'll see food plots.

  9. #9
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    Elk don't seem to like being close to inhabited places. If they come near anyway, there must already be a food source there. But, ordinarily, you have to go where they live instead of bringing them to where you live (farm).
    Mathews Drenalin

  10. #10
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    I see a number of folks in farming and ranching who try to apply their experiences from the east and midwest to situations out west, and it usually results in a more expensive and labor intensive way of doing things.

    A lot of good reasons have been presented including
    Most Elk hunting on Public Land
    Most elk Habitat is High Elevation with a short growing season

    I will add;
    • Soils have lower Organic matter content than back east, and tend to be sandy.
    • The Range of a herd of elk is quite a bit bigger than deer, turkeys and hogs.
    • Elk are Grazers as well as opportunistic browsers. So native grasses and forbes that are adapted to the rangelands are adequete to meet the volume and quality of elk feed.
    • Where pastures are improved, fertilized and managed for quality, elk show up.
    • Where Alfalfa is planted, elk show up.
    • The price of Alfalfa, and pasture seed is usually more economical than seed mixes marketed as "Food plots". I know a ranch in Oregon that Gets 3 cuttings a year of dairy quality alfalfa off of 12 center pivots. they leave about 600 acres of the 3rd cutting for the elk in September. So why go out into the brush and the rocks to plant a food plot when all the elk for 20 miles will come to their center pivots?
    • The most critical part of an elks yearly cycle is Winter. So public agencies will concentrate on planting winter browse like Ceonothus, which is a native to the area.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wbuffetjr1 View Post
    Just some ?'s for you Bob. I really value your opinion.
    I think they'd work, but would be hardly worth the effort unless you were making money selling elk hunts for $10,000 apiece, or if you were already farming (capital investment on tractors, land, taxes, fuel, and implements).

    Plant in July and you're more than likely looking at at mid September for first frost. You have a two and a half month growing season. Figure two weeks for germination and you're now looking at two months. July is springtime at 10K' around me and August is autumn. Some of the cold-weather stuff (I wonder if elk eat cabbage.) turnips, etc would probably do better. Even when you try to grow cash crops at altitude you're taking chances. One cutting of alfalfa, if you can get it, is all you can expect. Get up that high and most of the ranchers are harvesting Timothy grass because its what they can get to grow.

    I'm at a touch over 7K and can't grow tomatoes or corn. Can they grow tomatoes and corn in Iowa? Its not a matter of light, but not enough heat. I bet that the seed guys could come up with a "high elevation" mix that would grow, but I doubt that they would have the high sugars and nutrition (without extensive fertilization) that they get out of them in the midwest and southeast. I have alfalfa field near me at about the same elevation. There are a few deer and elk around during the summer and fall, but they don't really start coming in there until their summer range gets burned by a few heavy frosts...usually around the first of October, or when there's too much snow up high. The alfalfa fields are like a magnet. The animals have to within "range" of the magnet to be attracted. Once they start hunting the fields you don't see many deer or elk in them.

    Maybe its more of a matter of "what else is there around"? I see higher concentrations of deer and elk on ag fields in open sagebrush country than I do in brush country and alpine meadows.

    Now if I had a ranch of 5,000+ acres with plenty of water, money to burn, and was already putting up hay for the cattle I'd think about putting in a couple plots to keep the deer and elk happy. Might not hunt them around the plots, but just to keep the critters around.
    The kill is the satisfying, indeed essential, conclusion to a successful hunt. But, I take no pleasure in the act itself. One does not hunt in order to kill, but kills in order to have hunted. Then why do I hunt? I hunt for the same reason my well-fed cat hunts...because I must, because it is in the blood, because I am the decendent of a thousand generations of hunters. I hunt because I am a hunter.- Finn Aagard

  12. #12
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    Come on Bob, tell me you couldn't see the Elk and Mule deer tearing this up!! You have me reconsidering, but we still might give it a go. Just 5 acres or so & see what happens
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