In my mind, they improve habitat and provide nutrition to lots of critters.I agree completely. All I am saying is often that is not the reason food plots were installed.
The typical Pennsylvania scenario
A serious whitetail hunter spends $50,000 - $200,000 for some acreage. Next he posts the land and spends more money and effort putting in food plots. I may be cynical but I cannot believe this amount of money and effort was done for the benefit of the wildlife. This was done solely for him and his family to have the best opportunity to harvest deer.
I agree with Jerry , except where he says "solely", that is essentially what i did and it was the best move I ever made. Well we bought the land to build a house in the woods with a big backyard with sticks to feed a planned outdoor wood bolier (self sufficency)...but as those house plans slowed down and the land started to show its potential as a wildlife hotpsot, I focused on that part instead of making "habitat" for my family, it was a lightbulb moment for me on how much owning land changes your hunting life.
I have never been one to rely on government or its agencies that much anyway, and I guess that philosohpy finally carried over to my hunting. Public Land has a million strings attached to it and doing habitat improvements for a specific animal has another million strings attached to it to make sure it fits within a larger plan....I know I have done them and set them up. I will stop VERY well short of saying the DCNR and PGC are not doing all they can with what they have , they are, but in the same breath i am not getting any hunting seasons over at the end to do again if I was dissatisfied with it or the pace of it so if I can create better ones for my gang I will within the law. They have to keep everyone from birdwatchers, to hunters, to treehuggers happy with their land and that makes slow to move furstrating policy for many hunters...Me, I just got to keep the critters and my family happy so far , so very very good.
I bought my 54 acres of timbered land for the price of a decked out SUV..18 deer harvests for the family in 5 years, both my son's first deer killed there, my biggest buck ever, + a huge jump in my wife's deer harvest stats, then add a bear this year , and tons of wildlife sightings of all kinds and memories all year long, and hopefully soon a spring bird to complete the 2011-12 triple trophy all right there in its borders..heck ya!!! I am planting food plots to keep animals around to improve our hunting + doing all the other things to the woods I would have on a never tended to wish list for the public grounds I do hunt. No apologies here, no hiding it, i sing the praises of it and I really did not need a decked out SUV anyway, hunting is much more important to my life... and it would be silly to get land that cost that much and have it mirror the 100s of thousands public acres of land that surround me here, I want it better, much better. Public land which I could hunt for the price of a hunting license and just use it and forget it.A cost I likely incur in just a few hours of one of my "habitat days" up on the hill...or in a couple days worth of my loan monthly payment. I agree with Jerry, a big purpose is o kill deer and make memories... I just never realized how many others things benefit from it now and in Novemeber.
Now to be fair about this "nothing but for killing" statement made,the first and only ones to ever kill a deer standing in my plots so far happened last year, twice , from the same stand, a week apart, both kids' very first deer, in one of my best laid stand placement plans ever , designed strcitly for that purpose. So, 2 to 16 is the score there on plots to non-plot kills, hunting the terrain change funnel and sanctuary borders (something else i wish public land could offer to critters) has been 8 times more productive, I admit plots do influence the predicitablity of travel but not as much as wind, terrain, hunting pressure, other available foods, and time of day.
It is a tool, but not the whole toolbox. I will offer tours of my tool box anytime to anyone, and you will see it is not just a foodplot with a treestand overlooking it, surrounded by whatever else... each acre has a purpose to make my hunting better, some of it sees me there every time up, some has not seen me in 4 years.
Serious deer hunter is a compliment I do enjoy getting, becasue I never have been more in tune with the deer i hunt , but wildlife steward is the goal of the plan..just consider the manicured habitat for wildlife on my land, my shiny rims , leather seats and headrest DVD player..except I won't be trading it in after 5 years to get the bulit in screen dash GPS and it parks itself option.
Bottom line of that is it is in the reach of many and I encourage as many as I can to make the move.