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Whitetail Institute of North America 239 Whitetail Trail / Pintlala, AL 36043 Phone: 334-281-3006 / Fax: 334-286-9723 CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED


www.whitetailinstitute.com Page 6

Ray Scott and Dr. Wayne Hanna are Taking Food Plots and Deer Nutrition to Unprecedented Levels



And it’s the choice of America’s top archers like Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo of Archer’s Choice television. Whether in bowhunting or competition, Nikon’s compact Laser rangefinders with Tru-Target technology rule in speed, precision and ergonomic functionality. Unmatched ½-yard accuracy. Single button simplicity. Waterproof, fogproof performance. Trademark Nikon optics. In your choice of black or REALTREE Hardwoods Green HD. Hosts, Archer’s Choice with Ralph & Vicki Cianciarulo


In This Issue… F 8




Bust ’Em in Brassicas

R 62

Brassicas provide great deer attraction when the temperatures fall. By Brad Herndon


Hall of Famers Join Forces

Consider the Strengths and Weaknesses of TwoSeason Plantings Two-season plantings at the same food-plot location each year can have merit — but only if conditions are right. By Charles Alsheimer


Imperial Extreme Handles Dry Conditions


With Land and People— Relationships Are Built With Time The one equitable commodity that each of us share is in the amount of time we are allotted on a daily basis. The disparity is how we choose to spend that time. By R.G. Bernier


Imperial Winter-Greens Draws ’Em In When It’s Cold


Postage-Stamp Food Plots No tractor? No fields? No problem! With modest hand tools, you can plant tiny food plots that will hold deer in your area and detour deer traffic past your stand By Joe Byers



Winter Nutrition Gaps Providing nutrition over the winter can help grow larger antlers. By Bill Winke


Ray Scott and Dr. Wayne Hanna are taking food plots and deer nutrition to unprecedented levels..



Hunt of a Lifetime: First Hunt is Special for Everyone By Jeffrey Lampe


Secret Spot Comes Through for Tennessee Hunter By Chad Jones, with his brother, Ben


Food Plots Sure Work for Me in Illinois By Danny Wahl


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Imperial Winter-Greens and a Big Wisconsin Buck By Brad Rucks


Set Solid Goals to Increase Hunting Success By Scott Bestul


The Final Gift The child’s best friend and hunting partner was his grandfather. And he knew of no more fitting a tribute to the Old Man than … By Tom Fegely


Florida Hunter Shoots First Buck Over Food Plot By Al Moore

Pure Attraction Revisited

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Imperial Whitetail Pure Attraction a one-two punch for the early and late hunting seasons. By Jon Cooner, Institute Director of Special Projects


Never Say Die Losing streak ends when patience pays off for determined hunter By Mike Ziebell


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Farming for Quality Whitetails

* w/$9.50 S&H **Over $80 retail value!

A couple’s deer management obsession in Kentucky pays off. By Kathy Butt


The Ruminant Stomach Understanding the digestive system of a deer can help in the layout and design of a food plots. By Matt Harper


Vol. 17, No. 2 /



In This Issue… D E P A R T M E N T S 5

A Message from Ray Scott


Cutting Edge is revolutionary because it is the first and only product line to address the changing nutritional needs of whitetails. By Matt Harper

Welcome Dr. Wayne Hanna as our new agronomist and director of forage research.


Turning Dirt Part III: Discs and Tillers for Food-Plot Tractors By Mark Trudeau, Institute National Sales Manager


Deer Nutrition Notes


Some Great Hunters with Their First Deer

Ask Big Jon By Jon Cooner, Institute Director of Special Projects

28 40

Field Tester’s Reports How I Do It By Jim Casada


Weed Doctor: Managing Perennial Weeds By Carroll Johnson III, Ph.D.

60 A recipe for success Page 40

Whitetail Institute Record Book Bucks More tractor advice Page 14

Exclusive patented formula available only through the Whitetail Institute of North America and authorized dealers.


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up to 30% providing more nutrition for better quality deer and antler growth • Traditional plantings of wheat, rye and oats are especially improved Y o u r f o o d p l o t s w i l l b e g re e n e r a n d t h e d e e r w i l l s p e n d m o re t i m e o n Y O U R s i d e o f t h e f e n c e w i t h I m p e r i a l I M PA C T™. C a l l n o w f o r m o re i n f o rm a t i o n a n d w e w i l l s e n d y o u o u r 6 0 - m i n u t e v i d e o , ” P ro d u c i n g Tr o p h y W h i t e t a i l s . “ A l l y o u p a y i s $ 4 . 9 5 t o c o v e r s h i p p i n g a n d h a n d l i n g. S p e c i f y V H S o r D V D .


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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

The Ultimate Bow Hunt for World Class Whitetails.

Exciting spring turkey hunts are also available.

Bob Walker / Wal ker’s Game Ear

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A M E SS AG E F R O M R AY SCOT T Founder and President Whitetail Institute of North America

Sadness and Pride Mark the Season

Whitetail Institute OFFICERS AND STAFF FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT: RAY SCOTT Vice President of Operations .........................Wilson Scott Vice President............................................................Steve Scott Operations Manager:....................................William Cousins Agronomist & Director of Forage Research...........................Wayne Hanna, Ph.D. Nutrition Director....................................................Brent Camp Deer Nutrition Specialist.....................................Matt Harper National Sales Manager...................................Mark Trudeau Wildlife Biologist....................................................Justin Moore Director of Special Projects...............................Jon Cooner Whitetail News Senior Editor....................Bart Landsverk Whitetail News Managing Editor...................Brian Lovett Contributing Writers ...Charles Alsheimer, Tom Fegely, Jim Casada, Brad Herndon, John Ozoga, Bill Winke, Monte Burch, R.G. Bernier, Bill Marchel, Judd Cooney, Michael Veine, Steve Bartylla , Dr. Carroll Johnson, III Product Consultants .............Jon Cooner, Brandon Self, John White, J.B. Smith Dealer/Distributor Sales......................................John Buhay, Greg Aston, Jon Cooner, Shawn Lind Accounting & Logistics ....................................Steffani Hood Office Manager................................................Dawn McGough Internet Customer Service Manager.............Mary Jones Shipping Manager .................................................Marlin Swain Copy Editor ................................................................Susan Scott Advertising Director........Wade Atchley, Atchley Media

round this time of year you can always tell hunting season is just around the corner. The phones light up non-stop as whitetail managers across the country make serious plans for planting, plot maintenance and supplements. As usual our best-organized field testers stay supplied with product and keep our consultants busy with questions and requests for detailed product information as well as advice and how-tos to create the best nutritional environment possible for their deer population. By the way, our guys really know their stuff, and no question is too trivial. As many of you know, it has been a very eventful year


ful launch of one of Dr. Johnson’s projects — Imperial Whitetail PURE ATTRACTION. This unique forage blend provides a “one-two” punch as Jon Cooner describes on page 39, offering outstanding deer attraction first in the early season, and then the late season. The new formula establishes quickly and provides the attraction of extremely high sugar content that deer absolutely love. We told you about Pure Attraction in our last issue and you can find that information on our website, www.whitetailinstitute.com, under the Whitetail News link. If you have any questions at all, please contact our consultants. They’re here to serve you, so don’t hesitate to call.

for us at headquarters with the death of our much-loved agronomist (and creator of Imperial Whitetail Clover) Dr. Wiley Johnson and the arrival of his successor Dr. Wayne Hanna, who picked up the baton. I’m proud to say thanks to Dr. Hanna and our great staff, we did not miss a beat — something that would make Doc very proud. Speaking of pride, I am proud to announce the success-

And as our field testers know and the most of the hunting community is finding out — Whitetail Institute products and Whitetail Institute customer service is second to none. W

Ray Scott



Vol. 17, No. 2 /





Hall-of-Famers Join Forces “T

he Hall of Fame.” The mere term immediately suggests a universal purpose, regardless of profession: to acknowledge the contributions of those few practitioners whose entire careers have been of such rare influence that they deserve that profession’s highest accolades. The Whitetail Institute is extremely fortunate to have two such industry leaders as team members: Hall-of-Famers Ray Scott and Dr. Wayne Hanna.

Ray Scott is well-known to anyone involved in outdoor sports. The number of awards Ray has received for his outstanding contributions is too long to list here. Suffice it to say that in each of the last four decades, Ray has received numerous awards recognizing the significance of his impact on the outdoor world, and he has been inducted into no fewer than six Halls of Fame in various segments of the outdoor industry. One of Ray’s most treasured honors is having been named by Field & Stream magazine as one of the twenty persons who have had the greatest influence on 6

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

outdoor sports in the last century. The entire deer-nutrition and food-plot industries trace their origins back to two things: Ray’s unique vision, and his ability to turn that vision into practical reality. It all started with Ray’s idea that forage varieties could be specifically engineered for deer and made available to hunters and managers everywhere to help them improve the quality of the deer they hunt. Ray turned that vision into practical reality when he founded the Whitetail Institute of North America in 1988 and offered the hunting world the first for-

age product ever developed specifically for whitetail deer, Imperial Whitetail Clover. The depth and breadth of Ray’s contributions to deer hunting are unquestionable. The records of the Boone and Crockett Club and those of the Pope & Young Club show that hunters today are 500% more likely to harvest a record-book buck than they were before Ray founded the Whitetail Institute and started the whole food-plot and deer-nutrition industries. Field Testers who are regular readers of Whitetail www.whitetailinstitute.com

News magazine are well-aware of the substantial contributions of Dr. Wiley Johnson, the Institute’s former Director of Plant Breeding and Forage Research. Dr. Johnson was considered an international authority on the science of clover breeding, and he was the creator of Advantage and Insight clovers, two proprietary perennial clover varieties included in the Imperial Whitetail Clover blend. With the passing of Dr. Johnson last year, the Institute undertook an exhaustive search for the most highly qualified scientist available to take up the reins as Director of Plant Breeding and Forage Research for the Institute. When the dust settled, one name stood at the top of the list: Dr. Wayne Hanna. Like Ray Scott, Dr. Hanna is a Hall-of-Famer, a leader of his own industry. Inducted into the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service Hall of Fame in 2006, Dr. Hanna’s contributions to agriculture and agricultural research are exceptionally impressive. Over the course of his 35-year career, Dr. Hanna has developed plant varieties with more vigor, disease resistance and drought resistance that previously available cultivars. He is renowned for his vital work on gene transfer in pearl millet, and he is recognized for his truly ground-breaking research on plant cloning directed towards producing crop cultivars that retain superior characteristics and hybrid vigor. The plant varieties Dr. Hanna developed produce higher yields for less cost, and their impact has been massive, affecting the very economies of a broad range of international industries. Perhaps, though, the U.S. Department of Agriculture summed up Dr. Hannah’s contributions best when it made the following observation in his Hall-of-Fame induction notice: “He has improved the very ground we walk on.” The Whitetail Institute and its products are different, and the reasons are easily identified. These include the Institute’s absolute commitment to providing only the highestquality, most heavily researched products possible and then backing them up with thoroughly dedicated customer service. But the main reason is something more fundamental. It is the source of this commitment: a Hall-of-Fame level of performance. What is a Hall-of-Fame level of performance? It’s delivering winning results over the long term by consistently performing at the top of extraordinary abilities. Let’s look at the key components. The first is extraordinary ability, which is often referred to in human context as “talent.” Regardless of whether you’re talking about Dale Earnhardt, Wilma Rudolph, Joe Montana or Michael Jordan, all Hall-of-Famers in any profession possess “talent” — they simply possess the ability to perform at a level far beyond others in the same endeavor. As a company, the Whitetail Institute is without equal in its ability to perform at Hall-ofFame levels. The Institute’s “talent” includes scientists and consultants with numerous college and post-graduate degrees and over 300 years of combined knowledge and experience in deer-research, plant genetics, agronomy, agriculture, weed science, herbicides, wildlife habitat and small-ruminant nutrition. But talented people don’t reach the Hall of Fame on talent alone. Talent can only be turned into winning results through the second component: a tireless work ethic — the drive to exploit one’s talent through maximum effort, day after day, year after year, without lapse, even during the off-season. This uncommon character trait is also part of the Institute’s personality as a company, starting with its leader, Ray Scott, who has often been heard to say, “Anyone can sell something to a person one time. The only way to build a company that will prosper over the long run, though, is to develop customer loyalty. The only way to do that is to offer only the highest quality products possible, and back them up with top-notch customer service, and do it every single time a customer turns to you.” The third is results. Regardless of industry, Hall-of-Famers are winners — repeat winners, and over the long term. The Whitetail Institute and its products certainly meet that requirement. The Whitetail Institute is the oldest food-plot and deer-nutrition company in the world. Over 1,000,000 acres have been planted in its forage blends, and its business has grown every single year since it was founded. And what’s perhaps most amazing is that the Institute has done it without diversifying away from its core business into such sidelines as clothing, land brokerage and hunting supplies as others in the industry have had to do. This is clear proof that the Institute continues to succeed in building the customer loyalty Ray spoke of and attracting new field testers to Imperial Whitetail products. The fourth is the standard by which Hall-of-Famers measure their own performance: they measure it against their own abilities, not against external standards. Why do they do that? They have to in order to get an accurate assessment of their own performance because their abilities (their standards) exceed those of others against whom they compete. The Institute also measures its own performance by its own abilities, and not by comparing its performance to other companies or their products. This is not true of the foodplot industry as a whole; Imperial Whitetail forage blends have always been, and remain to this day, the standards by which the performance of all other forage blends in the industry are measured. This defines everything the Whitetail Institute of North America does. It is how the Whitetail Institute was created by its founder, Ray Scott, and so it is a matter of heritage. It is the essence of the Institute’s very personality, of who they are and what drives them. It is what sets the company and its products apart. It is a Hall-of-Fame approach. W www.whitetailinstitute.com


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Vol. 17, No. 2 /



Bust 'Em In Brassicas Bucks and Brassicas: Like Money In The Bank By Brad Herndon


Brad Herndon

oney is an interesting subject; one in which we all have at least some interest. The stock market attracts attention because of the returns it can yield. For example, if you had put $10,000 in the Standard & Poor 500 Index Fund at the beginning of 2006, you would have had $11,579 dollars at the end of the year — a return of 15.79 percent.

Winter-Greens rule for big bucks when it comes to late-season hunting.


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2


On the down side, if you had invested $10,000 in that fund at the beginning of 2002, you would have had only $7,790 at the end of the year; a decrease of 22.10 percent. Although that’s a great loss, at least you didn’t lose all your money. In fact, it’s been proven that staying in the market for the long haul always provides good returns. Your setback was only temporary.

WHAT’S THE STOCK MARKET GOT TO DO WITH DEER HUNTING? That’s a good question. Although some of you reading this article might be retired, most of you are still working and saving for retirement. Certainly none of you are so careless as to invest in something that would risk your hard-earned money. Sure, you might try some higher-risk investments, but overall, you’ll put your money in something with a good payback without high risk. The same strategies should be used for deer hunting. Most deer hunters invest money in their sport by leasing or buying land. On top of that, part of their income might be spent on equipment, seed, fertilizer, lime and weedcontrol products to provide nutritious food plots. These are good investments. Whitetails are sleek and fat, and the nutritious plots crank out bucks with dandy racks. However, danger is lurking, and it can bankrupt you when it comes to killing trophy whitetails.


Brad Herndon

Although most deer hunters use a variety of products in their food plots, Imperial Whitetail Clover is the crop used most often. That makes sense because an Imperial Whitetail Clover plot can last for several years, and it provides unsurpassed nutrition for months. Other commonly used products include Alfa-Rack, Extreme and Imperial Chicory Plus. All of these are fine products, but each has a drawback: When the temperatures drop out of sight, and snow starts to accumulate, each of these has diminished ability to produce forage. In addition, the forage they produce is difficult to reach if the snow depth is substantial. During this time —usually November or December, depending on the region — deer will seek a more accessible food source. Sadly, a more accessible food source is often available, and it can come in various forms. Another deer hunter who has more accessible food plots might put his tag on a great buck you've spent years growing. Or perhaps because of weather, Farmer Frank hasn’t harvested fields of corn or soybeans. Deer pour into these high-energy food sources, and the guys who have permission to hunt Farmer Frank’s land will be mighty happy when your trophy whitetails show up. Actually, because I can’t plant food plots on some property I lease, I have twice paid farmers to leave corn and soybeans in the field. I just pay for an acre or so, and the cost isn’t too high for my pocketbook. The results have been outstanding. For example, in one field where the farmer left standing corn, I sat on stand and watched deer come off the hillside of an adjoining property. Many deer walked across a picked field that was littered with ears of corn and came right to my standing corn. They did so because six inches of snow covered the fields, and my standing corn was easy pickins. I killed a dandy 10-pointer during the late-January archery season at that spot, and an even bigger 10-pointer was with the deer I shot. Standing soybeans will attract deer in a similar fashion during November, December and January. Obviously, with normal food-plot plantings, the money you've invest-

Before the frosts hit, Winter-Greens will show little use. After the frosts come, your plot will look like a mowing machine hit it.


Vol. 17, No. 2 /



ed in growing trophy bucks is in a high-risk situation. I’m not a financial advisor, but I'd like to share a low-risk, highreturn deer investment strategy that will result in big bucks—the kind you're after.

Always do a soil test before planting any food plot. Soil test kits are available from Whitetail Institute.

Brad Herndon

INVEST IN WINTER-GREENS FOR BIG BUCK RETURNS Winter-Greens, from the Whitetail Institute of North America, was introduced in 2006. Much field testing was conducted before it was brought to market. Fall 2006 marked the first time the product became available nationwide. The results have been impressive. Winter-Greens is a brassica blend designed to attract deer in November, December and January. As noted, bucks were often pulled away by more accessible food plots on adjacent land, or nearby unpicked corn or soybean fields. If you plant Winter-Greens, that's no longer true. Brassicas grow and produce lush vegetation, making you wonder why deer don't eat them when they're small. Interestingly, this works out perfectly when it comes to killing deer — especially big bucks. When the first frost or two hits, the starches in Winter-Greens turn to sugar, and that's when whitetails start tearing them up. Depending on the region, this can occur from October to December. In that situation, Winter-Greens is an incredible deer attractant during the rut or post-rut, which are top times to kill mature bucks. I was curious how Winter-Greens fared in various regions. First, I talked to Matthew Royal of North Carolina. “I got my Winter-Greens out late, but I did everything right regarding soil test, fertilizer and lime,” he said. “Within six weeks, the forage must have been 18 inches high, and then an early frost hit. That’s when the deer literally mowed the Winter-Greens down. I killed mature 8and 10-point bucks out of the plot before they eradicated



WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2


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the forage. I’ll definitely be planting even more of them again.” Later, I discussed Winter-Greens with Larry Woodward, host of Outdoors In The Heartland TV show. His plots were planted on each side of the Mississippi River in Illinois and Missouri. “We had a very dry fall in our area last year,” he said. “We kept waiting for rain, but it never came, so finally, we were forced to plant our plots the second week of September, which is a little late. On the Missouri side, we planted Winter-Greens in some low spots. Since it was dry, and we were planting an annual forage, we decided to go with this location because it is rich ground. “We did everything right. That meant we had to put quantities of lime and fertilizer on our side plots in Illinois, where the soil had a low pH. After we planted them, I was gone out of state hunting for three weeks. When I returned, every plot was a carpet of green because we had some timely rains. “Bob Richardson, my co-host in Outdoors In The Heartland, killed a 185-inch-gross buck out of one Missouri plot of Winter-Greens in late season at 2:30 p.m. He also killed a dandy 150-plus-inch 10-pointer out of one of our Illinois plots, and I killed a 175-inch-gross buck off to the side of one of the Illinois plots. Winter-Greens certainly worked for us.”

WHAT ABOUT POOR SOILS? All soils are not created equal. In upper Michigan, where Curt Krajniak planted his Winter-Greens, he must constantly battle poor soils and low pH. It can take a lot of time to get the pH to an acceptable number. In addition, brief growing seasons are the norm in the Upper Peninsula, and a “northerner” can blow in at any time in fall. Still, Krajniak had an interesting season. “It’s a struggle to grow great food plots in the UP cli-

mate and soil conditions," he said. "I’m sure my WinterGreens weren’t as tall and impressive as those found in the fertile farm belt of the Midwest or even in southern Michigan. We really have to pour the lime and fertilizer to our soils.” Still, things worked out. “I shouldn’t complain,” Krajniak said. “I killed a 135inch 9-pointer out of one of the plots, and that’s the biggest buck I’ve ever killed in northern Michigan.”

INVEST WISELY However, some folks are still making mistakes with farming food plots properly. Although a Winter-Greens plot in north-central Illinois will probably be much better than one in a scrubby hilltop in Kentucky. If they are planted the same, the plot in Kentucky can still attract the best deer in the area from mid-November and later, if done correctly. That means

n Helpful Hints To Maintain Your Winter-Greens Food Plot >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> There are some ways to tell if you're using an incorrect amount of fertilizer or the wrong fertilizer on your WinterGreens food plot. If you notice stunted leaves, or leaves that are light rust or purple, you have a fertilizer problem. Though it might be difficult to see, there might also be a corduroying of the leaves. You should also be careful about planting the same crop in the same plot year after year. That can result in a product such as Winter-Greens getting a fungus. Plow your plot at least one month before planting, and let it sit and air out. This will clean the soil of most bacteria and diseases. If you lime and fertilize correctly but the plant wilts, your plants have some type of root disease. This can be confirmed by pulling up the plant and looking at it very closely. If the roots are soft and mushy, the root is diseased. You might also notice white splotches on the roots. Because Winter-Greens are eaten by the deer in late seasons, it helps keep the deer healthy during the critical post-rut period — especially bucks that are run down by the rigors of the rut. A healthy buck going into the next antlergrowing season means a higher-scoring deer next fall. — Brad Herndon

Putting out the welcome mat for deer is as easy as pouring from a jug. Deer are so attracted by the smell and drawn to the taste of Magnet Mix that they will come from miles around – and keep coming back. Just shake and pour (no mixing required) and wait for the deer to show up. Just seconds of preparation provides gallons of attraction. Because of Magnet Mix’s incredible attractiveness, some states may consider it bait. Remember to check your local game laws before hunting over Magnet Mix.

The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail / Pintlala, AL 36043

800-688-3030 www.whitetailinstitute.com

Research = Results.


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2


investing time, money and hard work. With clovers and alfalfa products, you need little or no nitrogen because they produce their own nitrogen. Because so many deer managers plant these excellent products, they are used to buying fertilizer with little or no nitrogen. For example, if no soil test has been done, Whitetail Institute recommends using 6-24-24 fertilizer. It also says Imperial Whitetail Clover does best in moist soil. Deer managers have become so accustomed to planting this type of product that many want to "do it like they did before" because it always worked. However, Winter-Greens has different needs. Winter-Greens does well in various soils, but it excels in well-drained soils. It also needs nitrogen (N, the first number on a fertilizer bag) phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Those are the second and third numbers. Each product is important to a successful food plot. Nitrogen produces green, upward growth. At 14 inches high, Winter-Greens leaves will stand above a 10-inch snow. Six inches of foliage won’t be as easy for whitetails to reach. Phosphorus is devoted to root growth and flower and fruit production, and the last number, potassium, is an overall building block that benefits all parts of the plant. An easy way to remember what nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium do is to say "up, down, all around."

The general fertilizer requirements Whitetail Institute recommends for Winter-Greens are 400 pounds of 20-2020 per acre. However, it’s best to take a soil test and get the exact fertilizer requirements. Winter-Greens does best at a pH of 7. It will still grow a good crop with a pH of 6.0, but a soil test will tell you how much lime to apply to attain a 7.0 pH. Lime is relatively cheap and a great investment for your dollar.

DETERMINE PLOT SIZE A big mistake some managers make is not determining exact plot size. Guessing at plot size is inaccurate, resulting in applications of too little or too much lime, fertilizer and seed. You can step off or use a tape measure to obtain plot dimensions, but a laser range-finder is hard to beat. A square acre contains 43,560 square feet and is about 209 by 209 feet. If you want to kick the forage growth up a notch, food-plot guru William Cousins at Whitetail Institute recommends letting the plot grow for three or four weeks. At that point, go back in on a dry day, and apply 100 pounds per acre of 34-0-0. That extra shot of fertilizer will send the Winter-Greens toward the sky rapidly. Last, remember the importance of food-plot location.

Obviously, plots should be kept out of sight of roads. They should also be where prevailing wind directions can be used in your favor. The plot should be as close as possible to thick cover. If you're hunting hilly land, plots on higher hills work best. If you place your plots in hollows, you will constantly be dealing with switching wind directions, and deer will pick you off regularly. When hunting food plots, you don’t have to use a tree stand. Ground blinds work great. In fact, we leave three ground blinds out year-round, and people are amazed that one of them is in an open Conservation Reserve Program field at the edge of a food plot. However, because the blind is there year-round, deer pay no attention to it. With the right wind, we slip over a slight rise in the field that hides the food plot from the road, and we're good to go. We’ve killed a lot of deer out of that plot. On Dec. 23, the last day of Indiana’s 2006 muzzleloader season, my sister, Margy Pogue, killed a deer out of the plot, and her husband, Jim, killed his second-best buck ever out of another plot about a half-mile away. By investing your time, work and money in WinterGreens, you will get a great return on your deer hunting investment, year after year. W

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Vol. 17, No. 2 /



T U R N I N G D I RT By Mark Trudeau, Agriculture Expert

Part Three: Discs and Tillers for Food-Plot Tractors In this series of articles, The Whitetail Institute’s agricultural expert, Mark Trudeau, passes along his decades of real-world experience in farming and related matters to our Field Testers. In the first segment of “Turning Dirt,” Mark provided his insight to help firsttime tractor buyers shop for the right tractors to fit their needs. In our last issue, Mark discussed plows, when they should and should not be used, and gave his insight into how to choose a plow to perform a particular job. If you missed the earlier segments or if you would like to review them, they are available on line at www.whitetailinstitute.com under the “Whitetail News” link. In this segment, Mark discusses two types of ground-turning implements which can be used for initial ground breaking in some cases and for final soil intermediate seedbed preparation after plowing. In later segments, Mark will discuss other tractor implements for doing food-plot work.

implements (or just “discs” as I’ll refer to them here to save space) and tillers.


If you are planting in soil that is appropriate for tillage, disking and tilling are great alternative options for smoothing plowed ground and, in some cases, even doing initial ground breaking. Whether you plow first or

WHEN DISKING OR TILLING IS NOT A GOOD IDEA First, let me repeat a warning I mentioned in our last segment, which dealt with plows. Ground tillage, whether with plows, discs, tillers or any other groundworking tools, is not appropriate in all circumstances. Always be aware of what any tillage operation will do to the soil. If you are in an area with a very thin layer of top soil over a deep layer of sand, for instance, do not disc or otherwise work the soil. If you do, you will likely mix the top soil with the sand, destroying the top soil. Instead, consider planting Imperial No Plow or Secret Spot, two high-quality annual forage blends specifically designed by the Institute for no-till planting.


Ground tillage, whether with plows, discs, tillers or any other ground working tools, is not appropriate in all circumstances. Always be aware of what any tillage operation will do to the soil.


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

Whitetail Institute

this segment of “Turning Dirt!”, we will cover two implements that can be used to do initial groundbreaking in some cases and that will further prepare the surface of the soil after plowing. These are disc

not, you’ll still need a disc or tiller to perform intermediate soil preparation before final smoothing with a cultipacker or drag and prior to seeding. There are several reasons. Disking or Tilling After Plowing: Discs and tillers generally have two functions in preparing a seedbed in ground that has been plowed. Those are intermediate smoothing of the seedbed prior to planting, and incorporating lime into the soil to raise soil pH. Plows tend to leave the seedbed in rough condition, with big chunks of soil and deep cracks on the surface. Imperial perennials grow optimally if planted in a smooth seedbed. As we will discuss, the seedbed should be finally smoothed prior to planting with a cultipacker or drag. Discs and tillers can remove the largest chunks and cracks left by plowing, thereby preparing the seedbed for final smoothing prior to seeding. Optimum soil pH for growing Imperial Clover is 6.5 or higher. Fallow ground will almost always have lower soil pH (be more acidic) than 6.5. To raise your soil pH to optimum levels, you will need to incorporate lime into the soil by disking or tilling. That’s because lime works in particle-to-particle contact with the soil, meaning that a piece of lime has to physically touch a piece of dirt to neutralize its pH. Discs and tillers are optimum implements for thoroughly incorporating lime. You may ask, “If I have a plow, why can’t I just use it to incorporate lime instead of using a disc or tiller?” There are several reasons. First, the lime must be mixed into the top few inches where the plant’s main root systems are. Some plows, for instance moldboard plows, invert soil as a column and so won’t mix the lime and soil thoroughly to provide optimum particle-to-particle contact. Second, plows can also incorporate lime deeper than you need it, thereby costing you money you didn’t need to spend. Consider that the soil in the top few inches of an acre weighs something like 2,000,000 pounds. That’s why lime recommendations are often expressed in tons per acre — it takes a LOT of lime to touch so many dirt particles. If you try to mix lime in with your plow, you’ll likely dig deeper than you need to. That means more dirt particles and therefore more lime you’ll need to add to get the same effect. Third, remember that the more deeply you turn the soil, the more dormant weed and grass seeds you will bring to the surface, where they will receive the moisture, air and sunlight they need to germinate and grow. That means more grass and weeds you’ll have to control. So, again, till only as deeply as you need to, and incorporate lime with a disc or tiller, not a plow. Initial Groundbreaking with a Disc or Tiller: In some cases, you can dispense with plowing and do both your initial and intermediate ground tillage with a disc or tiller. For example, most disc and tiller blades will easily reach into the soil deeply enough to prepare an optimum seedbed for Imperial Whitetail Clover.

TYPES OF DISCS AND TILLERS There are basically three types of discs. These are


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offset discs, agricultural discs and finishing discs. The best option for food plot work is a finishing disc, but let’s look at each one so you’ll know what they are when you see them. Offset Discs: Offset discs, also referred to as “bush-and-bog discs,” are not suitable for food plot work with smaller tractors because they’re way too heavy. They also leave the ground in too rough condition. Offset discs have very heavy frames, and their blades are deeply concave, set wide apart and of large diameter to aid in cutting heavy fescue and the tough, woody plants and heavier debris found in setaside fields. These mount to the tractor’s drawbar. More appropriate to commercial operations, offset discs are usually controlled with the tractor’s hydraulics and their own hydraulics, and they are supported by tandem wheels because of their weight. Although their blades are usually adjustable for angle, the adjustment is not one easily made in the field. Agricultural Discs: Also sometimes called “heavy discs,” agricultural discs have smaller blades (usually about 28”), closer blade spacing (about 912”) and can have with either serrated (notched) or smooth blades. However, agricultural discs, like offset discs, aren’t suitable for most food plot work because they generally require tractors with 100 Hp or more to pull, which is well beyond the range of most tractors in the food-plot-tractor category. Finishing Discs: Finishing discs are much better suited to food-plot work with smaller tractors. Their blades are usually spaced about seven inches apart, and changing blade angle on finishing discs is vastly easier in the field than when changing blade angle on an offset or agricultural disc. This is very important for reasons I’ll discuss below. Also, models are available with either drawbar or three-point-hitch attachment. Tillers: Tillers are becoming a very popular seedbed-preparation tool. They can be a great option as a one-step tool for turning fallow fields that are covered with light vegetation such as grass (e.g. not woody briars or debris). In such cases, a tiller can do as good a job as can be done with a plow followed by a disc, but there are potential drawbacks. On the positive side, tillers require less horsepower to effectively operate — a 30-40 horsepower tractor will easily handle a four-foot tiller. Also, all tillers are three-point-hitch mounted and PTO driven. However, there are a couple of potential disadvantages to tillers. First, they can cause the seedbed to be overly fluffy or loose. Seedbeds which are overly fluffy must be cultipacked to optimally firm the soil prior to seeding Imperial perennials. Second, tillers can actually compact the soil below the reach of the tiller’s tines, making it more difficult for deeper-rooted forages such as Imperial Chicory Plus, Alfa-Rack Plus, “Chic” Magnet or Extreme to penetrate the soil with their roots. Speed is a crucial factor when tilling—if you are going into an undisturbed field, you should not till faster than 1-1.5 miles per hour. Attempting to operate the tiller faster will keep it from cutting properly and cause it to start tossing out chunks instead of blending the soil.


1-800-828-1554 • w w w. s c e n t i t e. c o m 16

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

Discs are commonly described in three ways: by gangs, inches and feet. Gangs: To understand what disc gangs are, you’ll need to know the basics of how finishing discs are constructed. It all starts with the disc blades,


individual shaft with discs is referred to as a “gang.” For example, if you had to have a mechanic replace a bearing in your disc and you told him to “replace the outside bearing on the left rear gang,” he’d know that you have a disc with two rows of blades (four gangs total), and that he will need to remove the left gang of the back row to replace the bearing. Inches: The distance between each blade mounted on a shaft is described in inches. For example, the blades on a “9-inch disc” are set at nine-inch intervals. The size of this interval directly affects how smooth the implement is capable of leaving the ground after it passes—the closer the blades are to each other, the smoother the soil can be finished with the implement. Feet: The overall width of the implement as measured from the outermost blade on one side to the outermost blade on the other is expressed in feet. For example, a “7-foot disc” measures seven feet between the outermost blades on a gang. This is how the overall size of disc implements is described in conversation, which is important in getting a general feeling for how much horsepower it will take to pull it.

Whitetail Institute


Agricultural disc.

which are the concave, disk-shaped tools that dig into the soil. Multiple blades are mounted in fixed positions evenly spaced along a shaft. Each shaft with its blades attached is referred to as a “gang”.

On finishing discs, two gangs are mounted end-toend to make one row of blades all the way across the implement. Some discs have two rows — a second set of two gangs set end-to-end behind the first. Even so, each

To get the most out of your finishing disc, you need to understand how to adjust two things: the angle of its blades and the height of its front end. Blade Angle: “Blade angle” refers to how far away from the direction of the tractor’s travel the edges of the blades point. When the blades are set with “no angle,” the edges of the blades point directly ahead, in the same direction as the tractor’s direction of travel. When blade angle is “added,” the edges of the blades will

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The Whitetail Institute / 239 Whitetail Trail/ Pintlala, AL 36043 / 800-688-3030 / www.whitetailinstitute.com



Research = Results.


Vol. 17, No. 2 /



point either left or right of the tractor’s direction of travel. Let’s look at how the adjustment is made. First, recall what we said earlier — that finishing discs have one or two rows of blades all the way across the implement, and that each row consists of two gangs. One end of each gang is connected to a fixed bearing in the implement’s frame. The other end is connected to an adjustable mechanism in the frame. Depending on how the disc is designed, this adjustment may be an arm in the center of the disc, or a bracket, and the adjustment can automatically change the angle on the whole row of discs at once, or change them only for one gang at a time. When the pin is pulled out and the arm or bracket is slid forward or backward, it takes one end of the gang with it. When the desired angle is achieved, you just drop the pin back through the arm or bracket and through the appropriate adjustment hole in the frame. Blade angle determines how aggressively the blades mix the soil. When the blades are set straight ahead so that their edges point directly in line with the direction of the tractor’s movement, they will cut deeply but not mix the soil as much. The more angle you add to the blades, the more aggressively the blades will cut and blend the soil. Setting Front Implement Height: Leveling or lowering the front height of a disc is accomplished in one of two ways, depending on the system the implement uses to attach to the tractor. Three-pointhitch discs attach to a tractor in three places — on each of the tractor’s two lift arms and by a top link. To adjust front implement height on a three-pointhitch disc, the top link, which resembles a turnbuckle, is moved in or out. Discs that attach to a tractor’s drawbar usually have a simple hand crank to adjust the front height of the implement.

HOW DO I USE MY DISC FOR SPECIFIC FUNCTIONS? It would take a book, and actually probably several of them, to describe all the ins-and-outs of how to use a disc properly. Accordingly, I won’t even try to cover all the bases here, but I did want to pass along a few tips on how to get the most out of your new disc. First, I want to mention something that you do NOT want to do with a disc — turn the tractor with the disc still in the ground. Doing so puts tremendous strain on your equipment and can quickly break disc blades or worse. Instead of turning with the disc in the ground, lift the disc when you reach the end of a pass, turn around, and lower the disc back into the ground when you start your next pass. And no, this won’t keep you from working the corners of an oval plot; at worst it will just require you to back up to “cut the corners” of the plot. Now, let’s talk about how to use your disc for initial groundbreaking (to break ground that hasn’t been plowed first). You’ll want your disc to cut as aggressively as possible for initial groundbreaking, so you’ll need to adjust both blade angle and implement angle. A wide blade angle disturbs the soil the most, so add as much blade angle as you can. Front implement height affects how deeply the implement will cut the soil. The lower the front of the implement relative to the back, the more “down pressure” you add to the discs (or to the front discs on a two-row implement). During your first two passes, you should find that the disc is really tearing up the ground, but not very deeply. Once you have made a few passes and


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2


let me tell you, they are worth their weight in gold. If you have ever turned ground that is sticky, for instance, with high clay content, you’ll know that discs can clog up very quickly. Scrapers knock the soil off the blades as the implement works. [PHOTOS] Another great option is outriggers, or “furrow fillers” as they are sometimes called. Discs sometimes cut a deep furrow on the outside edges as they are pulled. This can be greatly reduced by outriggers, which essentially are devices with smaller disc blades on them that clamp to the outside of the rear disc gangs. If you add outriggers to a disc implement you already have, remember to add them to the outside of the rear gangs, not the front.


As an alternative to a disk, a tiller can have some advantages and some disadvantages.

Whitetail Institute

the surface, including grass roots and other vegetable matter, are pretty well chewed up, you can start to reduce blade angle and to level front implement height back out. The reduced blade angle will allow the discs to cut deeper and mix what you chewed up in your initial passes with lower layers of soil. Now let’s turn to intermediate disking operations— those that come after initial groundbreaking with a plow or disc and before final smoothing with a drag or cultipacker before seeding. In most cases, you should start with a moderate blade angle and implement level. Disc only to the depth needed and no more for the reasons I mentioned earlier. Instead of disking too deeply, it’s usually a better idea to disc more often. Every time you turn the soil, you’ll probably bring up dormant weed and grass seeds. Disking every two weeks to a month during the spring and summer before you plant can substantially reduce the infestation by bringing most of these seeds to the surface where they will germinate and then be killed when you disc again. The more often you disc, the earlier you’ll probably notice a reduction in surface infestation. And what’s more, spacing your diskings out like that can even help minimize loss of soil moisture. Again, be sure to disc to the same depth each time. Repeatedly disking your seedbed can create high points, or “crowns” and low points, or “divots” in the seedbed if you don’t do it correctly. There are a number of ways to avoid these problems. One way to avoid creating crowns or divots and leave your seedbed as smooth as the implement can make it, is to change directions or set the blades at a different angle for each pass. Another way is by “offset disking” or “double cutting.” To offset disc, add angle to the blades and make a shallow first pass. The blades on the right half of the implement should be angled off to the right and the left blades to the left at the greatest angle possible. Then, move the tractor over only one-half the implement’s width for the next pass. That way, the soil you just cut with the blades angled one way will be cut again with the blades angled the other way. The resulting surface will be optimum for final smoothing with a drag or cultipacker before seeding,

If you end up with crowns or divots anyway, there are a couple of ways to remove them. One way with a drawbar-mounted disc is by “floating the disc.” Set the blades at a slight angle, and raise the implement so that it just disturbs the surface of the soil deeply enough to remove the tractor’s tire tracks. If you are just deep enough to remove the tire tracks, you are deep enough to remove crowns and divots from the surface. Another way to remove crown and divots is by “feathering” the seedbed by raising the front of the implement higher than the rear.

As we discussed in our last segment concerning plows, the biggest variable that will control how large an implement your tractor should try to pull is the tractor’s “engine horsepower”. In our first segment, we mentioned that tractors in the 40-50 engine-horsepower range are usually optimum for food plot work, in that they can provide the 18-20 horsepower it takes to pull each plowing assembly on a two-bottom plow. A tractor delivering this much horsepower should be easily able to pull a six-foot disc, but check the owner’s manual or confirm that with the tractor’s manufacturer first if you aren’t sure. Let me also repeat a caution I gave in an earlier segment: avoid the temptation to get an implement so large that your tractor has to continually operate at peak output to pull it, because such constant, repetitive strain will prematurely age your tractor.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON DISCS One tip that can help your tractor’s (and other) hydraulic systems last as long as possible is to take the load off them when you are finished working. Just before you turn your tractor off, lower the implement to the ground or other hard surface so that your hydraulics won’t have to continue to bear the load of supporting it. Do this with any hydraulically-operated attachment. The last item I want to mention is the most important of all, and I can sum it up with one word: GREASE! Grease, grease and MORE grease! Your disc implement will have grease fittings. Use them, and use them often. In fact, that’s true of any equipment, but it’s especially true with disc implements. You should grease the implement before AND AFTER every single use. Greasing before ensures that its parts will move freely. Greasing afterwards removes any moisture or dirt that may have collected in the bearings while the implement was being used. Replacing bearings and shafts is extremely expensive. The good news is that it can be avoided just by greasing the implement before and after each use. This is especially true with a disc.

OPTIONAL FEATURES Scrapers are an optional item for finishing discs, and

Two-bottom mouldboard plow.


Whitetail Institute

CONCLUSION A 4- to 7-foot disc implement is suitable for most food-plot applications. If possible, try to get an implement that has two gangs in each row of discs so that you can adjust blade angle for the broadest range of applications. Most tractors in the food-plot family provide the 30-40 engine horsepower necessary to pull at 4-to 7-foot disc implement. Before buying a disc or tiller, though, be sure to consult the owner’s manual that came with your tractor or get confirmation from the manufacturer that your tractor will easily handle the implement you are considering buying. W

Vol. 17, No. 2 /



Consider Strengths and Weaknesses of

TWO-SEASON PLANTINGS By Charles J. Alsheimer


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2



here is no end to the information being streamed to hunters and landowners nowadays. It seems like not a day passes in which a new “must-do” or “must-have” is pitched to food-plot practitioners. One concept that is getting a lot of press is the concept of two-season plantings. Actually, the idea of offering two-season plantings has been around for a long time. Having grown up on a potato farm, I can vouch that my dad and granddad practiced this every year. However, in our family’s case, it was from a cash-crop standpoint rather than one to benefit wildlife. For those who think in terms of planting food plots and forages for wildlife, the thought of two plantings at the same food-plot location each year can have merit — but only if conditions are right. Determining if two-season plantings are right for you requires careful analysis.

Charles J. Alsheimer



Without going into great detail, two-season plantings is nothing more than offering wildlife two crops at the same food plot in a year. Two-season plantings require a spring planting of forage that grows fast and provides deer with high nutrition for a brief period before being plowed under in late summer to allow for a late-summer/early-fall planting. Though two-season plantings can work, it requires proper forage selection and growing conditions.

STRENGTHS OF TWO-SEASON PLANTINGS Variety: One of the big benefits of two-season plantVol. 17, No. 2 /



Annual two-season plantings like this brassica plot can provide whitetails with excellent late nutrition.


ings is the ability to offer whitetails a greater variety of forages that can provide high nutrition when deer need it most. For example, a product such as Whitetail Institute’s Imperial Power Plant (an annual) can be used by whitetails


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

Charles J. Alsheimer

few months of growth. After the hot days of summer arrive and plants become stressed, the spring planting can be replaced by a fall planting, such as Whitetail Institute’s Pure Attraction (an annual), which does extremely well when planted in late July to early August. The oats, winter peas and brassica seeds in this blend sprout quickly and offer forages required by deer from late summer into winter. Clean the table: Another benefit of a two-season planting is the ability to clean the table at a food plot. If the proper preparation steps are followed, spraying the plot with a weed killer like Roundup kills any weeds that might compete with the blend being planted. Drought insurance: Summer is a very stressful time for whitetails and their habitat. Heat and drought can wreak havoc on animals and plants. In areas that commonly have dry conditions during July and early August, two-season plantings can be very beneficial. In such locations, timing is critical. It’s important to get the first crop planted early enough to provide maximum nutrition and tonnage before the drought period arrives and stresses the plants. After the dry time arrives, it's time to prep the plot and plant the second crop so that when moisture returns, the new crop is ready to grow. In these kinds of situations, a two-season planting is like having drought insurance for food plots.

within three weeks of planting. The peas, beans, lab-lab and sorghum in the blend offer bucks and does a high level of nutrition during the antler-growing and lactating months. Because this blend is an annual, it grows quickly and can produce a significant tonnage of plant material in its first

WEAKNESSES OF TWO SEASON PLANTINGS Dead space: One of the greatest weaknesses of a twoseason planting is there's a period when the food plot simply has no plants for deer to feed on. Even during the bestcase scenario, there will be at least 30 days (15 in spring and 15 in fall) when the planted seeds are germinating and tying to grow, offering nothing for deer to eat. Usually this lapse is much more than 30 days. Fifteen days might not seem like much time, but with a spring planting, it's critical that deer have lush new

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Whitetail Clover, can develop an extensive root system, so it tends to be much more graze-tolerant than annual forages. Cost: This can be a biggie, especially if you have to hire someone to plant your food plots. On average, I’ve found it costs me $125 to $250 per acre to do my food plots, and that doesn’t include the cost of equipment — just seed, fertilizer, lime and fuel. Planting food plots isn’t cheap, and it can get downright expensive if you factor in your time and the cost of equipment. Consequently, if you are thinking of doing two-season plantings, look long and hard at the cost factor. In most cases, it will be more than double the cost of perennial plantings.

Two-season plantings allow for high nutrition plots, some of which are drought resistant.

growth as soon as spring green-up arrives. Unfortunately, when a crop has to be planted each spring at green-up time, there is a period when the plot has nothing to offer. So, not having usable forage in a food plot for deer to use for 30-plus days can be a huge issue, especially north of the 40th latitude, where the growing season is much briefer than southern locations. Overgrazing: Another weakness of a two-season planting is the danger of the food plot’s forage being overgrazed by whitetails. When plants first burst from the

ground, they are very vulnerable, trying to grow and survive. It's a critical period for the plant. Most two-season forages are annuals, which grow for a season before dying. Annuals grow more plant and less root system than perennials, so they can be more susceptible to stress when they are overgrazed. Couple that with the fact that deer prefer new growth (a hallmark of annuals), and you have an accident waiting to happen when there are too many deer feeding in a food plot with tender new sprouts. Perennial food plots, such as Imperial

Charles J. Alsheimer

A BETTER IDEA The biggest bang for your buck — and the health of your deer — is derived by offering a continual, highly nutritious variety of forages. The best way to ensure that is by having most food-plot offerings planted in perennials, which last more than one year. When perennials make up most of your food-plot offerings, there is rarely a time during months without snow when deer won't have the food they need. On properties where more than six or seven acres of food plots can be planted, I recommend planting 75 percent perennials and 25 percent annuals. If that is too large, the bulk of the food plots — 80 percent or more — should be planted into perennials, with the balance being annuals. This mix of perennials to annuals ensures a continuous offering of forages whitetails require for antler growth and physical health. Because perennials can often last two to five years, they are far more cost effective than annuals. Of course, their longevity depends on proper food-plot maintenance from year to year.

Getting big bucks with big racks takes an exceptionally nutritious forage, and that can be hard to grow in hilly areas with lighter soils. Alfa-Rack Plus solves this problem. The extensive root structure of Alfa-Rack Plus allows you to grow this high-protein forage in areas that might otherwise be inhospitable to the foods deer like best. Alfa-Rack Plus includes our special blend of alfalfas, chicory, and Imperial Whitetail Clover. When the buck you are after is King of the Hill, make sure the hill is planted in AlfaRack Plus.

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The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail Hope Hull, AL 36043 w w w. w h i t e t a i l i n s t i t u t e . c o m

Research = Results. 24

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2


most effective late-season food plot forages you can plant. This annual grows more than 15 inches tall; is broad-leafed, so it provides great tonnage; and provides protein levels exceeding 30 percent. Because the plants don’t reach the levels deer prefer most until November and December, this blend is a great choice if you want to ensure your deer have adequate nutrition when warm-season forages have been depleted. Imperial PowerPlant: When it comes to a warm-season annual, PowerPlant is tough to beat. With proper planting, it comes up rapidly, and its blend of peas, beans, lab-lab and sorghum offer whitetails a variety of forages with protein levels exceeding 25 percent. For best results, soil pH levels should be 6.0 or better. Pure Attraction: This is a great fall annual. Its custom blend of oats, winter peas and brassica make it a popular

THE BEST OF THE BEST Through continuing research at my whitetail research facility (see my article “The Cat’s Out of the Bag,” in Whitetail News, Vol. 14, No. 1 at www.whitetailinstitute.com) our deer have shown what they prefer for forages during months without snow.

PERENNIALS Imperial Clover: When it comes to preferred deer food, nothing trumps Imperial Clover. If you have heavy soil and that holds moisture, whitetails will prefer it over other forages 75 percent of the time. During the prime growing season, protein levels of 30 percent or more can be expected from Imperial Clover. For best results, the pH levels of the soil should be 6.5-7.0. Imperial Chicory Plus: This blend of Imperial Clover and chicory is a high-octane forage. Chicory has been referred to as “clover on steroids.” The chicory seed in this blend gives whitetails an extra kick for meeting their nutritional needs because chicory plants can transfer minerals from the soil much more efficiently than many forages. For best results, the pH levels of the soil should be 6.2 to 7. If these soil needs can be met, protein levels of 30 percent or more can be expected during the prime growing season. Imperial Alfa-Rack: Alfalfa is tough to beat as a preferred deer forage. For Alfa-Rack to shine, soils should be well drained and have a pH level exceeding 6.5. If these conditions can be met, protein levels of more than 25 percent can be expected. Imperial Alfa-Rack Plus: This blended formula of Imperial Clover, chicory and X9 alfalfa is very popular throughout the whitetail’s range. The extensive root structure of this blend lets you grow this high-protein forage in areas that might otherwise be inhospitable to the foods deer like best. Designed for well-drained soils, this blend can provide protein levels up to 30 percent. Imperial Extreme: Many refer to Extreme as a magical blend because it can thrive in soils with pH levels as low as 5.4. In addition, it provides protein levels that exceed 35 percent and will grow in country that receives as little as 15 inches of rainfall a year.

choice for feeding and hunting food plots. The deer hammer the oats and peas in the early season and pound the brassicas in the late season. It’s a great one-two punch. It offers tonnage as well as 25 percent or more protein levels. As with most other blends, Pure Attraction performs best when soil pH levels exceed 6.0.

WHAT MATTERS MOST When it comes to food-plot decisions, it’s always important to put the whitetail’s needs first. Always strive to ensure your deer have a continual stream of highly nutritious food so all their food requirements are met all the time. Though two-season plantings are popular and can work, they generally fall short when compared to a wellthought-out perennial program. W


Two-season plantings allow you to “clean the table” and till food plots twice a year. The weakness of this is that it is costly.


Whitetail Institute

Imperial Winter-Greens: Winter-Greens is one of the

Vol. 17, No. 2 /



ASK BIG JON By Jon Cooner, Institute Director of Special Projects

Common Questions — Straightforward Answers Do you have to use as much pelletized lime as you would agricultural lime to raise soil pH the same amount? Opinions vary on whether you must use the same amount of pelletized lime as it would take to equivalently raise soil pH with bulk agricultural lime, but the experts we have consulted suggest that one may use a weight of pelletized lime that is at least 70-75 percent of what the bulk lime recommendation would be to get the same effect. The key to understanding this is knowing that lime works to raise soil pH by particle-to-particle contact; a particle of lime must touch a particle of soil to neutralize it. The “fineness” of lime is expressed in "screen size", which just means the fineness of the mesh the lime particles will pass through. The finer the lime grains in a pound of lime, the more individual grains there are, and the more grains there are, the more dirt particles they will touch and neutralize (If you work the lime into the soil properly and thoroughly). Remember that the pellets in pelletized lime are not all lime. They are much smaller lime particles rolled up into little clay balls so that they will go through a


broadcast spreader. The actual pieces of lime that are in the balls are actually of smaller screen size than the lime particles in granular bulk lime. What that means is that there are more “pieces” of actual lime in pelletized lime than there are in an equivalent weight of the more coarsely-ground agricultural, or bulk lime. That brings me to a tip about using pelletized lime that you are planning to disk in. Remember that I said the pellet consists of lots of little lime particles rolled up into clay balls? Try taking one of the pellets and leaving it on your driveway overnight. Overnight, the ball will break down, and in the morning you will find a little pile of powdered lime where you left the pellet. In the same way, it is a great idea to broadcast pelletized lime one afternoon, but wait until the next morning to disk it in. That way, you are disking in the separate lime particles, not the whole pellet, and with vigorous "stirring" with your disk, you will get better particle-to-particle contact. The key to raising soil pH with either bulk or pelletized lime is to work it into the soil thoroughly. As I often heard the former Director of Plant Breeding for the Institute, Dr. Johnson, say, “Lime pretty much stays where you put it. You HAVE to disk it in thoroughly if you

are going to raise soil pH.” So, when you disk in your lime don’t just make one pass. Instead, think about making pancakes: if you put pancake mix in a bowl and then the water, and make only pass around the bowl with the spoon, most of the water will not reach the mix. However, if you stir vigorously and in multiple directions, the mix will be much better. Same thing with lime—the better you disk in, the more particle-to-particle contact you will achieve with the soil. Personally, when I want to lime a new plot site, I start six months before I intend to plant and disk in the amount of bulk lime required by my soil test. Then, I add 800 — 1,000 pounds of pelletized lime right on top of the soil when I plant. By doing it this way, I get the top four to six inches of soil up to proper pH by the time I plant, and the additional pelletized lime on top gives an extra pH kick to the surface of the soil where the seed will be germinating. Then each year, I top-dress the plot with 800-1000 pounds of pelletized lime just to maintain soil pH at the surface. An article discussing lime is available on-line at the following web page: http://www.whitetailinstitute.com/info/news/nov05/11.html. W


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• “CHIC” MAGNET provides truly incredible protein levels – up to 44%!

• “CHIC” MAGNET can tolerate a broad variety of soil types, from moist to moderately drained

• “CHIC” MAGNET provides deer with a highly attractive and nutritious food source even during the heat and low rainfall of late summer and early fall.

• “CHIC” MAGNET can be planted alone, overseeded into existing forages to provide additional attraction and drought resistance or mixed with other seeds prior to planting.

• “CHIC” MAGNET can be planted in the spring or fall in most areas

• “CHIC” MAGNET attracts, holds and grows bigger bucks!

“Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!” Do!’ 26

• “CHIC” MAGNET can last up to three years with a single planting

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

© 2006 The Whitetail Institute

• “CHIC” MAGNET is more palatable to whitetails than chicories traditionally planted for whitetails

Whitetail Institute • 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043 • CALL TOLL FREE: 1-800-688-3030


Imperial Whitetail Extreme… Try it, Partner


f you’re a fan of old western movies, you’ll recognize this scene. It’s 1882. White dust covers the cowboy’s boots and jeans as he walks into a Texas town, saddle slung over his shoulder. His horse died of thirst 10 miles ago, and as he walks slowly toward a horse-watering trough in front of the saloon, he squints into the setting sun, his lips caked and dry. As he reaches the trough, he sets the saddle down atop a tumbleweed that has lodged itself against the trough and plunges his head into the fetid water. Once refreshed, he walks on to the edge of town where a mule awaits with head hung low. The cowboy reaches for the reins and urges the mule onward as it pulls a plow, preparing the soil for a fall planting of Imperial Whitetail Extreme. Well, maybe the last act is not in any western movie I’ve ever seen. But these days, it could be. Imperial Whitetail Extreme is a truly revolutionary new perennial forage blend designed to grow in lower pH soils and tolerate annual rainfall levels half that required for other perennial deer forage blends. But Extreme is not designed just for inhospitable conditions. Many Field Testers plant Extreme in well-drained soils in areas that receive abundant rainfall and report incredible results. For instance, lots of Field Testers in areas of higher rainfall, who already have Imperial Whitetail Clover or another Institute perennial food plot, plant Extreme to give their deer variety. This would not be the

case unless they found Extreme as attractive to deer as other Imperial perennial blends. That’s truly amazing when you consider that in many cases, the more drought tolerant a plant is, the less palatable it is to deer. Extreme is a huge departure from that situation. The primary component of Extreme is Persist, an evergreen forb whose leaves mimic a clover shape, but with a serrated edge. If you have a plot of Extreme growing, here’s a test I urge you to take: pull the top inch or so out of a Persist plant and taste it. You’ll find that it tastes very similar to cucumber or watermelon. Since most natural forages on which deer feed taste very bitter to humans, you can just imagine how attractive Persist is to deer. In addition to the Persist forb, Extreme contains WINA100 Brand perennial forage chicory, another departure from traditional deer plantings. Unlike other chicories, WINA-100 brand perennial forage chicory is less waxy and leathery than other chicories and so outperforms other chicories by a huge margin in side-by-side tests. So, if you are in an area of North America that receives as little at 15 inches per year in annual rainfall, even on a seasonal basis, or if you are in a lighter, well-drained soil that won’t hold lime well enough to raise your soil pH to optimum levels (6.5-7.5), consider Imperial Whitetail Extreme. Lots of new Field Testers in Texas, Oklahoma, Idaho and other states west of the Mississippi River that receive lower

rainfall have found Extreme a solid performer in conditions previously considered impossible to sustain perennial plots for deer. Field Testers from Pennsylvania, East Texas and everywhere in between continue to rave about its toughness and how much their deer love it. W

n What you need to know about Imperial Whitetail Extreme >>>>>>>>> • Can thrive in low pH soils (5.4 to 7.5) • Easy to establish • Produces quality forage in extremely dry conditions • Can last up to five years without replanting • Can produce in lower rainfall areas (as little as 15 inches)

Extreme conditions call for extreme measures. And Imperial Whitetail Extreme is powerful enough to overcome the worst your property has to offer. Thanks to Extreme, dry, hot locations and soil with low pH no longer prohibit growing a successful perennial crop. Extreme requires only 15 inches of rainfall a year, is both heat and cold tolerant, and will grow well in pH levels as low as 5.4. Extreme is ideal for challenging growing conditions, but will also do great when conditions are kinder. An extreme response to extreme conditions.

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Customers do the talking about Bill McMorris – Illinois We could use a vast number of adjectives about how much our deer herd that surrounds our farm here in Central Illinois has improved since we first began planting products offered by the Whitetail Institute, but none of them would

bucks that are at least as large as this one. Proper nutrition and deer management are starting to pay off. I can’t wait for next year.

Richard Cook – Mississippi First plot I planted was Imperial Whitetail Clover. And even after 4 years I was still seeing big bucks eating in this food plot. Mississippi had an extremely dry fall last year however my plot with Extreme did very well. I killed this nice 11 point on the plot.

Jim Gettinger – Kansas I own approximately 200 acres in southeastern Kansas. The farm is made up mostly of small fields and woods with a creek running through the middle of it. Excellent area for wildlife. I have a couple of small fields to which I have added one two acre and one 4 acre Imperial Clover plots. I have also located 30-06 Mineral licks about 50 yards off the fields back in the trees. I have been using Imperial Products for about 10 years now. As many of the smaller farms around me quit planting crops, the Imperial helps to keep

Todd Yoder – Virginia

compare with a photo. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. We currently have 5 Imperial Whitetail Clover food plots on our farm and with the approaching spring, we will add another additional 6 acres into our program. We continually manage the food plots with fertilizer and herbicides when the soil sample calls for nutrients and the weed control is required. The second bridge that is to be crossed is field preparation prior to seeding allowing good seed to soil contact with the small seeds. If you don’t own a specialty drill (Great Plains, or other name brand) which will allow you to plant the seeds to the exact depth (no deeper than 1/4 inch) and pack the seed row as it goes across the field, then the next best tool is a cultipacker which you should use prior to seeding the ground to allow you excellent seed to soil contact. When we can’t get the drill into an area, we use a cultipacker. The method we use is to roll the ground prior to seeding, seed it in two different directions (using 1/2 of the recommended seeding rate for the acreage to be covered in each direction) then bring the cultipacker back into action and roll the seed in just carrying the wheels of the equipment over the ground as not to get the seed to deep. Here in Central Illinois we prepare our food plots in the Fall then return in the early Spring (weather permitting) and plant. Enough about us…just look at the photos.

Orval Shewry and Steve Northcutt - Iowa The most deer activity we see on all our plots is in Imperial Whitetail Clover. It is the favored hunting spot among all friends. We are seeing more and larger deer in antler size and weight. This 8 point was shot over an Imperial Whitetail Clover plot last year. We have seen 6-7 28

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

the deer in good shape, and helps to keep them in the area. The buck in the photo was taken on the edge of one of the Imperial Clover fields on opening day of firearms season. He was herding a bunch of does. I was at opposite end of the clover field about 200 yards away, and I might not of gotten a shot, but the does could not resist coming to the far edge of the field for a quick bite, and they pulled the buck with them. He is a ten point and green scores around 145 with a 20 inch inside spread. I missed a larger buck with my bow earlier this year when I misjudged the distance and just barely clipped the under belly, and saw at least one other buck of similar size but too far away during bow season. The Imperial Clover draws the does in and where the does are the bucks seem to follow. I have taken what I consider a good buck off the property at least every other year. My best buck is a beautiful ten point hanging over my fireplace that scores around 165. Due to work and family requirements I don’t have as much time to hunt as I would like, and having the Imperial Clover helps me to maximize my chances during my limited hunting time. I also enjoy reading Whitetail News and hearing about the successes of others. Keep up the good work.

Nathan Zeroth – Minnesota Since I have been using Alfa-Rack I have been seeing more deer every year. Last year I shot a nice 10 point 3-1/2 year old. This year I shot a nice 3-1/2 year old 8 point. (See photo) I really like this product I plan to seed 3 more food plots next spring. Thank you for the bucks Whitetail Institute.

My name is Todd A. Yoder from the beautiful State of Virginia. I tried the Imperial Whitetail Clover about 6 years ago for the first time. To be completely honest with you, I put your seed against another brand of clover mix. I personally thought there could be no difference in clover seed. I thought clover seed is clover seed. Ok, I was wrong! The deer literally walked through the X brand of clover seed to get the Imperial Whitetail Clover. It made me a believer. For the last 6 years I have dedicated myself, along with my dad’s help, to planting food plots. The results have been more than impressing. First, before I go any further in this letter, I want to explain that I don’t own a huge ranch or tremendous amount of acres. The Lord has blessed me with a 100-acre farm, 80% is wooded and 20% is tillable. There are private owned farms all around me with plenty of hunting pressure. Even though there is a lot of hunting pressure, I feel I have been more than successful in managing deer. My proof, I really enjoy climbing up in the tree stand throughout the summer and early fall with my video camera and getting footage of the deer that are on the farm. The footage that I have taken in the last five years has been really cool. Each year I see more and more bucks, and larger and larger bucks. Four years ago I videotaped 15 bucks, 10 were 8 pointers and up (ear tip or larger). One particular buck www.whitetailinstitute.com

Institute products… was estimated in the 160’s. In the 2006 spring turkey season, I planted some more of your Imperial Whitetail Clover, with some Alfa-Rack and Chicory PLUS. This seed was planted in the third week of April and my dad went down to the farm on June 17 and 18th. The Imperial Whitetail Clover, Alfa-Rack and Chicory PLUS were 10 to 12 inches high already (we had some good rain and at the right time too). My dad videotaped 12 bucks, 8 bucks at one time eating in the Imperial Whitetail Clover, Alfa-Rack and Chicory PLUS. There were several good bucks and one fantastic buck already; it was hard to get footage of the bucks, because they had their heads buried in the Imperial Whitetail Clover, Alfa-Rack and Chicory PLUS. It was amazing to see these deer focus on this food plot and the amount of bucks we are seeing already. Also, we have been seeing a lot more turkey too; my wife and I shot a double this spring. She had never been hunting before and was 7 months pregnant. It will be one of my memorable hunts ever! Thank you for your product and for what it has done to help me manage our farm. Enclosed is a picture of my wife and me on our turkey hunt this year and a picture of a buck I killed. God bless!

Brad Brown – Missouri Imperial Whitetail Clover is an amazing product. The hunting on our property has done a 180° flip. The property is in Central Missouri and is only 40 acres in size so we

John Ireland – New York We have always had a large deer herd, but since planting Imperial Whitetail Clover the deer are healthier. They have heavier bodies and more antler mass. The buck in the photo was shot on Imperial Whitetail Clover plot checking does. I’ve also enclosed two photos of my Imperial Whitetail Clover plot this past February.

ed periods of drought...the Extreme always hangs tough during those periods, still providing forage for our deer long after the dry conditions have killed off competitor's plots or caused them to become dormant. This is important to us, as it seems the drought periods can, and do, usually come during the traditional summertime period of antler growth, when good nutrition is badly needed. The Extreme is a great product to use in cases where soil ph and fertility or weather conditions might be a limiting factor. We had excellent growth all year, regardless of rainfall, temperature extremes or grazing pressure. All deer that we saw were all very healthy and we firmly believe it is because of our intensive food plot program that emphasizes Whitetail Institute products! Thanks again.

John Sumner, M.D. – Alabama

Brian Hack – New York

needed something to draw the deer in and keep them coming back for more. Imperial Whitetail Clover was the answer. Enclosed are 3 pictures. One of our food plot and 2 more of deer from the past two seasons. The wide 8 pointer dressed out at 245 pounds. That body size is very rare for this far south of the Missouri River. Thank You.

Hank Hammond – Georgia Attached please find pics of our bucks shot last year in Lee County, GA. My two bucks, taken in successive days, weighed 260 and 265 pounds on the hoof. Our son Zack took a nice 7 pointer that weighed 210 pounds as well. While our lease has established plots of Imperial Whitetail clover that draw many deer, this year our bucks were all taken from plots of Extreme. We like the Extreme because our sandy soil can really work on food plots during extendwww.whitetailinstitute.com

We bought an old farm 5 years ago and turned it into our own private preserve. We planted Imperial Whitetail Clover and Extreme 2 years ago. "Extreme" is an amazing product. Soil conditions do not have to be perfect, and man does that stuff grow. It seems like the more they eat that stuff, the better it grows!! The deer on our 140 acres have benefited from the combo of Imperial Whitetail Clover and Extreme. My plots are drawing and holding more deer every season. I’ve enclosed a photo of a 139 inch buck I took this past year.

Eric Duncan – Arkansas I’ve been using Alfa-Rack for a few years. There are always a lot of deer and turkey signs in the plots. This buck was taken on a trail leading to an AlfaRack plot. He was approximately 50 yards from the plot when I shot him.

This 130+class whitetail was taken by my son, William about 75 yards from a 3 year old Imperial Clover patch. As you can see the clover helped grow a nice high rack.

Richard Woody – Ohio I have 52 acres in Southeast Ohio mostly rolling fields and only 18 acres of woods. Before using your products I very seldom saw a deer, 1 or 2 and not much sign. After the first 3 acres of Imperial Whitetail Clover was planted by the next gun season I had 31 deer in the Whitetail Clover and 6 deer were harvested in 3 days. The next spring I decided to plant 3 more acres. In early summer I (Continued on page 72) Vol. 17, No. 2 /



With Land and People— Relationships Are Built With Time

“An almost perfect relationship with his father was the earthly root of all his wisdom. From his own father, he said, he learned that fatherhood must be at the core of the universe. He was thus prepared in an unusual way to teach that religion in which the relation of father and son is of all relations the most central.” — C.S. Lewis

By R.G. Bernier Photos by the Author


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2



he one equitable commodity that each of us share is in the amount of time we are allotted on a daily basis. The disparity is found in how we choose to spend that time. Like money, where some elect to frivolously fritter away their monetary holdings in order to satisfy immediate gratification, others will prudently invest their assets into commodities that will eventually mature and bring them a return on the investment. Essentially, the choices we make in life become the dividends of tomorrow.

THE LAND Kinships are certainly not just relegated to human interactions. We have, as entrusted stewards of this planet, a relationship with the land as well. After all, everything we consume originates in some way from the land, be it the food that we eat, the energy we burn, or the materials utilized to craft our dwellings and right down to the very water that serves to alleviate our thirst. Over time, forest practices and land use has changed dramatically. Some of these changes have benefited whitetails immeasurably while others have had a negative impact. For instance, early in the 1900s when settlers began pushing further into the country to farm the land, parts of the forest were cut in order to clear fields for growing crops. This transformation accomplished two favorable necessities for the whitetail deer: it opened up the forest canopy, which in turn promoted new growth and it provided large field openings which whitetails gravitate to as edge animals. Realizing it or not, these early farmers were creating an environment highly suitable for the resident deer. One might say they were the early pioneers in the food plot business. Then, in the 1930s the Federal Government began a buyout program called the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act. This governmental program paid the farmers fair-market value for their farms and relocated the families to various locations. It wasn’t long before the forest began to reclaim what was once cleared and the whitetails’ meal ticket diminished



“…The pinnacle of shooting excellence…”


Make no mistake about it—developing meaningful relationships requires energy, selflessness, consideration and the time necessary for them to blossom. Serving as a very real and credible example to this is the relationship I share with my wife. Despite the fact that it was love at first sight when I first met Sharon, we really didn’t know a lot about each other. Through the dating and engagement period we began to learn and understand certain character qualities that both of us possessed. Once the ‘I Do’s’ were pronounced on that blissful day, our investment into the relationship didn’t end there. Although the ‘stars and infatuated sensations’ have long since been overshadowed by reality, time has given us the ability to nurture and build a lasting, happy and prosperous marriage. Through that union we were blessed with two children—a son and daughter. When it comes to hunting, I have had the parental pleasure to teach and instruct our son about firearms, the whitetail and the strategies required to succeed. I was with him when he shot his first deer; and believe me, there is no greater feeling in the world than watching your son perform flawlessly when aiming at such an unpredictable target. Perhaps that is why Archibald Rutledge penned the following words with regards to his own boys: “A dad likes to accomplish things in the woods, but I guess he gets more real pleasure out of having his sons accomplish what he knows is not so easy to do.” Throughout the maturation process, a relationship was being forged between my son and me. Today, Dwight is a full-grown man, and because of the time and dedication that was invested into his childhood, our relationship has evolved from a parental overseer into a close-knit bond. He is my hunting partner and one of my closest confidants. You see, in my opinion, the worth of a life is to invest it into something that will outlast it. Whether or not I ever shoot a world-record whitetail is irrelevant when stacked up to the value of relationships. While a record-book buck may bring temporary pleasure, it cannot compete with the lasting satisfaction that solid relationships engender. Think for a moment about some of the people you have chosen to be your friends and ask yourself why they are special enough to hold such a significant position in your life. Unlike family members, you specifically solicited these folks for distinct reasons. Initially, something about the individual’s character, compatibility or similar interests drew you to them; but whatever the impetus was that formed the friendship, time is the foremost ingredient necessary to strengthen and enrich the relationship.


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Vol. 17, No. 2 /



with each passing year. Were it not for the logging industry, which has fed the consumers’ great need for paper and building supplies, whitetail numbers may well have continued to decline. It should be clear by now that regardless of why the forest is disturbed, be it for raw timber, planting food sources or for a dwelling, the whitetail almost always benefits from the by-product of this clearing. In the late 1980s the Whitetail Institute came on the scene and began promoting what hunters and landowners perceived as a new concept in land use. In reality, the Whitetail Institute was reintroducing what our ancestors had accomplished unaware. Whitetail Institute founders and researchers realized that to build herd densities and promote optimum growth potential for individual deer, certain vital ingredients had to be introduced. Chunks of forest once again began being cleared and replaced by gardens. Only this time, these food plots were built to entice the palates of deer and other wildlife. Throughout the course of time the way deer are managed has also changed. In many instances, whitetails are no longer controlled strictly for their best interest but rather

now attempt to keep population levels tolerable to those folks living within a specific geographic location or wildlife management district. The dynamics of our whitetail herds have changed dramatically. Deer population numbers that were once severely diminished have now exploded. Bag limits have increased with hunters being encouraged to harvest greater amounts of female deer. Antler restrictions have been imposed in a number of states to help generate a more balanced age structure amongst the buck population. All of these modern day management plans take time to flourish and will ultimately benefit the land, the hunter and the whitetail deer that inhabits that environment.


Modern management plans pay many dividends — in terms of hunting and relationships.

for cultural carrying capacity. In other words, managers

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

Personal gratification is the reward for those who have made a legitimate effort in managing resources entrusted to them. If you are of the belief that only monetary remuneration can satisfy calloused hands, a sweaty brow or fatigued muscles, more than likely you’ve never invested the time or toil into an enterprise where patience and hard work can produce results. Although the customer of a finished product can derive great joy from the completed commodity, no one other than the manufacturer can fully appreciate the sacrifice it took to produce it. Today, adept hunters are meticulously managing their land in an effort to stimulate regeneration and provide unlimited food choices to the resident wildlife. Through this endeavor, they are producing quality whitetails. To the casual observer it would appear that the individual hunter who plants food plots and selectively harvests trees on his property can only be doing so for the opportunity to shoot better deer. That is true perhaps, at least initially. But as more time and effort is devoted to this labor of love, the entrepreneurial steward often gains as much satisfaction from managing as he does from hunting this same piece of real estate. And because of his stewardship, birds, bunnies, turkeys and a whole host of other animals profit from the landscaping changes. They have at their disposal easily obtained food that would not ordinarily be available, as well as newly created habitat suitable for permanent residency. What the non-hunter cannot see, nor even envision, is why a guy in a sweat-soaked shirt with dirty hands leaning against his tractor at the end of a long, hot day would go to this effort with nothing of monetary remuneration to show for it. But, as the orange ball begins to descend on the western horizon, the content land owner, who is sipping a tall glass of ice tea smiles inwardly as he watches the first of many whitetails emerge from the forest to dine on the cultivated clover. That, my friend, is more than enough payment to compensate a man who has his priorities fixed on something more than tangible objects.

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Think with me for a moment and ask yourself, what in life has had more of a direct—impact, something that was given to you as a gift, or an accomplishment realized only through determination, hard work and dedication? Although a gift is certainly an appreciable gesture of someone’s good will, it still cost the recipient nothing. It has often been said by many a prudent parent in raising their children, “If you work for something, you will value it far more than if it were given to you.” Although this may initially seem harsh to a youngster who has been accustomed to getting everything provided for them from mom and dad, the reality of the lesson is they learn to appreciate the results of their labor. By the very nature of the process, building relationships requires time and energy. Despite the obvious physical and financial investment of cutting trees, plowing soil, planting seed, watering, fertilizing, and weeding, it quickly becomes a labor of love that gratifies the very core of the land manager directly linking him with that plot of ground and the wildlife that inhabits it. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

Imperial Winter-Greens… Cornering the Brassica Market!


inter-Greens has been out for less than a year, and already the results are impressive. As we found during product testing and development, Winter-Greens is by far the most attractive brassica blend available on the market today — bar none. Brassicas aren’t new to the Whitetail Institute. We started testing available brassica varieties in the 1980s, before they were even introduced as a forage product in the U.S. During our initial testing, we found what most hunters now know — that traditional brassicas offer a good food source for deer during the cold months of winter after the first hard frost of fall sweetens them. For that reason, we have used brassicas in a limited capacity, as a timing element in our second longest-running product, Imperial NoPlow. Since the backbone of the Whitetail Institute is research and development, this effort has combined superbly with our brassica testing. Because we are so focused on research, we are regularly able to identify and develop revolutionary blends. That’s especially true in the case of Imperial Winter-Greens. In independent field-test studies, we found again and again that deer preferred Imperial Winter-Greens four-toone over other brassica products. And, frankly, that ratio is conservative — often, deer exhibited a much higher preference. Wintergreens Half 05 WN 6/22/06 2:22 PM Page

Winter-Greens stands tall even during the snowy Even so, the results are overwhelming. Winter-Greens is winter months in the North. Although heaviest usage is simply the most attractive brassica blend ever to hit the after the first hard frost of fall, studies have also shown market. I urge you to plant Winter-Greens beside any other that deer feed heavily on Winter-Greens even earlier. In brassica product, with the other product next to the woods my own experience, I planted Winter-Greens on my lease and Winter-Greens out farther in the field. Then, watch here in Alabama and found that deer absolutely loved it. what your deer do, and let us know. I strongly believe that Inside my exclusion cages, the Winter-Greens was a foot you will find what we have found in our testing, and what tall, and outside the deer kept it mowed low — and this Field Testers have reported to us — that Winter-Greens is was in September, when temperatures in central Alabama the most attractive brassica product on the market, and by are still 70 degrees or higher. a very wide margin. W The reason for the huge success of Winter-Greens is in the nature of the brassicas it offers. These are exceptionally sweet hybrid brassicas with vegetable genetic bases. The result is a huge increase in • Preferred 4-to-1 over other brassica-based palatability over existfood plots ing brassica products. Winter-Greens • Winter-Greens gets tastier with has only been availwinter Weather able to the public since last summer.

n What you need to know about Imperial Winter-Greens >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


Once again Research=Results at the Whitetail Institute. We are proud to introduce, Imperial Whitetail Winter-Greens, our new annual brassica blend designed specifically for late season food plot sources and hunting opportunities. Winter-Greens blend of brassica is extremely attractive, and during tests was preferred 4 to 1 over other brassica products. Winter-Greens stands tall and stays green, even in the coldest winter weather. The colder it gets the more sweet and attractive it becomes which creates perfect food plots for late season hunting. So this year plant our highly drought resistant Winter-Greens and give your deer a valuable source of nutrients for the winter season.

FREE Trial Offer! - Call 1-800-688-3030 Offer 1- only $ 8.95 (shipping and handling) FREE all new video or DVD / FREE Winter-Greens TM / FREE Imperial Clover TM FREE Chicory PLUS TM / FREE Extreme TM / FREE Alfa-Rack TM PLUS FREE N0-PlowTM (each sample plants 100 sq. ft.)

Offer 2- only $19.95 (shipping and handling) Same as Offer 1 PLUS FREE 30-06 TM Mineral (5 lbs.) FREE Cutting Edge TM Supplement (5 lbs.)

The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail Pintlala, AL 36043 www.whitetailinstitute.com


Vol. 17, No. 2 /



It’s Pure Attraction! New Blend Provides One-Two Punch By Jon Cooner. Institute Director of Special Projects


f you’re looking for an annual planting that will establish quickly and deliver a one-two punch for the early and late hunting seasons, look no further than the Whitetail Institute’s newest forage product, Imperial Pure Attraction. When our Field Testers asked us to develop a fall forage blend that would provide rapid growth, attraction and abundant forage in both the early and late seasons, we were listening. After exhaustive research, development and testing, the Institute is proud to offer its newest forage blend, Imperial Whitetail Pure Attraction for the one—two punch of early and late season. The first punch of Pure Attraction is its early season plants, which establish and grow very quickly. These include WINA Winter Peas and the Institute’s incredible new WINA-Brand Forage Oats. These early season varieties also offer extremely high sugar content. Our Certified Research Stations from Florida to Saskatchewan have consistently reported that WINA oats outperform all other oat products on the market – bar none! Later in the fall, when temperatures drop and natural food sources become scarce, Pure Attraction’s second punch, Whitetail Institute forage brassicas, provide an incredibly attractive, winter-hardy food source that keeps food plots productive throughout the fall and winter. And even though WINA Oats are intended to provide exceptional early season attraction, our researchers have reported that they are also unmatched in graze tolerance, surviving heavy grazing through the late winter as well. As soon as Pure Attraction hit the market this summer, it started flying off the shelves. Our distributors and dealers have reported strong sales, and this trend has been mirrored in our in-house sales. While we are extremely grateful for the loyalty our Field Testers continue to show us, we are not hugely surprised by the immediate success of Pure Attraction. That’s because our Field Testers would not buy our products if they did not know one thing – that Whitetail Institute products work, and they work because the Whitetail Institute will not release a new product until it has proven through rigorous testing that it will satisfy its harshest critics – the Whitetail Institute itself. As it does before releasing any product, the Whitetail Institute exhaustively researched, developed and tested the 34

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

Pure Attraction blend before it was announced. Our development efforts started in-house, and when the test blend was nearly finalized, testing moved to the Institute’s Certified Research Stations, which number over 100 and stretch from Florida to Saskatchewan. These researchers reported what we expected – that the New Pure Attraction blend outperformed every comparable blend on the market. From the far north to the deep south, our Certified Research Stations reported uniformly superb results with the new Pure Attraction blend. Here are just a few of the comments we received during testing: In Maine, a Certified Research Station reported, “Pure Attraction is awesome. The blend seemed to click with my soil and the deer. Another great product!” And in Michigan, a Certified Researcher reported, “The deer ate the Pure Attraction to the dirt. The WINA-Brand oats and winter peas came up first and then the brassica. The deer hit the WINA-Brand oats and winter peas first. As of November 18th, both plots had been grazed low, but the plants were still green.” The same results were observed in the central U.S. A Missouri Certified Researcher reported that the new Pure Attraction blend was “among the most attractive he had ever planted,” and in Virginia the result was the same. “The Pure Attraction blend is extremely winter-hardy and lasted through the winter. It really grew well the

whole time too—even though it was heavily grazed, it continued to provide food for the deer during the cold weather.” In fact, these spectacular results were observed across the U.S., even in the deep south where an Alabama Certified Research Station reported similarly impressive findings. “The deer completely mowed the Pure Attraction plot down. Even so, it continued to provide forage and grew well all through the winter. Deer were in the plot every night.” The Institute’s Certified Research Stations include some of the most experienced forage and habitat specialists available. Once such researcher, renowned expert Ken Eastman of Wildlife Habitat Consultants in Vermont, gave the new Pure Attraction blend a number-one rating. “In our experience in testing a broad range of oat products currently available on the market, it is our belief that deer heavily prefer the oats in Pure Attraction over all other oat products we have ever tested. Even the turkeys ate the WINA Brand oats before they seeded out, which they did not do with the other oat products. Pure Attraction is going to blow all existing oat products right out the market.” If you have been looking for a drought-tolerant annual blend that will establish quickly, offer the attractiveness of high sugar content not only in the late season but also in the early season, and keep going even with heavy grazing, Pure Attraction is the answer. Pure Attraction is designed for fall planting during the same dates as the fall-planting dates for Imperial perennials, and it is even easier to plant since it does not require the sort of deeper ground tillage required for planting some perennial blends. Optimum soil pH for Pure Attraction is 6.5 or higher, and if lime must be added to raise soil pH, it need be tilled only into the first inch or two of soil. Also, smoothing the seedbed prior to planting Pure Attraction is not as critical as it is with many perennial blends. Just leave the surface of the soil loose, and once you broadcast Pure Attraction, drag over the seed very lightly to seat it into the soil. Fertilize Pure Attraction with 400 pounds of 17-17-17, 20-20-20 or equivalent fertilizer per acre at planting. If possible, also apply 100 pounds of high-nitrogen fertilizer such as 33-0-0, 34-0-0 or equivalent 30-45 days after planting to boost forage growth even further. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your deer will hit Pure Attraction. And if you really want to be amazed, place a wire exclusion cage in the plot when you plant. That will allow you to monitor how heavily the deer are grazing the Pure Attraction by comparing the difference in the Pure Attraction’s height inside and outside the cage. W


The foundation of Pure Attraction’s early-season attraction and nutrition are WINA-Brand oats which are winter-hardy and droughtresistant.Their high sugar content makes them exceptionally attractive and palatable to deer.WINA-Brand Oats outperform all other forage-oat products available.WINA-Brand forage brassicas are also included in Pure Attraction to provide abundant forage during the coldest months of the winter. Read the early reviews from all over the country:

• From Maine:“Pure Attraction is awesome.The blend seemed to click with my soil and the deer.Another great product.” • From Missouri: The Pure Attraction blend was “among the most attractive I have ever planted.” • From Alabama:“Deer completely mowed the Pure Attraction plot down.Even so,it continued to provide forage and grew well all through the winter.Deer were in the plot every night.” • From Vermont: “In our experience in testing a broad range of oat products currently available on the market,it is our belief that deer heavily prefer the oats in Pure Attraction over all other oat products we have ever tested.”

• From Virginia: “The Pure Attraction blend is extremely winter-hardy and lasted through the winter.It really grew well the whole time too.Even though it was heavily grazed,it continued to provide food for the deer during the cold weather.” • From Michigan: “The deer ate the Pure Attraction like crazy.The WINA-Brand oats and winter peas came up first and then the brassica.The deer hit the WINABrand oats and winter peas first.As of Nov.18,both plots had been grazed low, but the plants were still green.”

Plant Pure Attraction during the same dates as the fall-planting dates for Imperial perennials. Since Pure Attraction does not require the sort of deeper ground tillage required for planting some perennial blends, it is even easier to plant. Looking for a product that will establish quickly and give your deer the one-two punch of both early- and late-season attraction…? Give Pure Attraction a try!

Research = Results

The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043 1-800-688-3030 www.whitetailinstitute.com


Sixteen-year-old Jesse Williams is all smiles as he walks to his first whitetail buck. The author erected a two-man treestand 20 yards from a small Secret Spot patch, and a buck and six does walked to it during opening morning of the firearms season. Ironically, deer were still feeding on the vegetation in the late muzzleloading season.


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

Joe Byers



mp Food Plots No Tractor? No Fields? No Problem! With modest hand tools, you can plant tiny food plots that will hold deer in your area and detour deer traffic past your stand By Joe Byers

After a few practice sessions at the range, the big day arrived, and I was so nervous that I forgot to bring the rifle. As first light arrived, I was speeding back home and managed to return just after sunrise. I had selected the best treestand in a location that was nearly sure-fire for a decent buck. But despite my preparation, we saw only a few does. Sure, we had fun, but I really wanted to be with Alex when


she shot her first deer. This past fall, Alex’s son planned to visit during Thanksgiving, which coincided with the first day of the Maryland firearms season. This time, I wasn’t taking chances. At the end of July, I had attended a workshop on wildlife forage at the North Country Whitetails Training Center in New York, where I got the rundown on food plots. Of prime interest was a way to attract and hold deer in the remote section of my hunting-club property. A corn feeder was an option, but that raised other issues, and I wanted to exert a more natural influence. The North Country facility included a new Whitetail Institute product called Secret Spot, and my ears perked up like a rutting buck hearing an estrous bleat. “This seed is specially suited for out-of-the-way places where you can’t get machinery and you want to lure deer to a specific spot,” said Neil Dougherty, co-owner of the property. “The Secret Spot also has a pH boost designed for attracting and holding deer in small remote areas.”

FROM FOREST TO FIELD I’m a member of the Washington County Sportsman’s Association, commonly known as Polecat Hollow, thanks to Polecat Hollow Road (honest!), which runs through the property. Like many clubs, each member has his sweet spot, and mine straddles a mountaintop that was heavily wooded until this past spring, when a timber company conducted a selective cut. Where there was once total overstory, the sun soon poked through in small patches, and the logging roads had loosened the soil in ways conducive for planting. On August 1, during the heat of summer, my buddy Keith Horn and I headed for the top of the mountain and

Standard yard tools will do wonders in the mountains. Hand tools such as seeders, and garden and leaf rakes, and a few power machines — like tillers, string trimmers and leaf blowers — can make quick work of any potential food plot.

Vol. 17, No. 2 /


Joe Byers


ad, will you take me deer hunting with you this year?” my daughter asked. I had waited two decades to hear that. Alex wasn’t against hunting, but she had always declined my outdoor invitations, choosing activities with her schoolmates. Now 25, she was anxious to test the waters in the other love of my life and maybe just hang out with her dad.

our first experiment with remote vegetation. Although I tied a small roto-tiller to the back of my truck, we learned that a couple of garden rakes and standard lawn seeder was all the machinery we needed. Unfortunately, the timber harvest had crushed my ladder stand, which overlooked a small bench that was a frequent travel and bedding area for deer. On the positive side, a level logging road had disturbed lots of mountain soil among the rocks. Keith and I cleared debris by hand and then used the lawn seeder to fertilize the ground. We planted an area of about 4000 square feet. After fertilizing it, we ran the grass rake over the soil to cover the fertilizer pellets and then seeded with Secret Spot. Next, we took turns walking over places where the seed was visible and “cultipacked” our efforts like Italian peasants crushing grapes. “I hope a flock of wild turkeys doesn’t find our patch,” my buddy said with a laugh. “At least not for a while.” The archery deer season would begin Sept. 15, and with a little moisture, the crop should have been just tasty enough to attract deer for opening day. That was the plan. But the next five weeks were dry as a bone. During the Labor Day weekend, I checked the patch and found little or no growth. August in the Mid-Atlantic states is often a


drought period, but we usually have a thunderstorm or two. Not this year.


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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2


Joe Byers

Things changed the first week of September. A tropical storm worked up the coast and gave the region a forecast for abundant moisture. Second, I was invited to hunt elk in Idaho in mid-September, which conflicted with the deer opener. Because the drought had kept my Secret Spot a secret, the choice was easy. However. I planted a second patch about 100 yards away. This time, I used a metal garden rake to rough the soil and planted two bags of seeds. I traveled frequently in fall and checked the patch every week or so. By Oct. 1, I was amazed that the original section had fully sprouted. Despite a month without rain, the seed germinated when growing conditions finally arrived. My second patch grew very well yet never seemed to gain the height I'd hoped. The first Saturday of the early muzzleloader season, I realized why. Although I had planted the deer patch for my grandson, I couldn’t resist testing it a bit. I was in the stand early that day, but a dense fog rolled up the mountain and limited visibility to less than 50 yards. Eventually, a spike buck and two does moved past the stand, walked to the Secret Spot and dropped their heads. An archer had mentioned seeing several good bucks near my stand, so I watched the critters munch and go on their way. Soon, I spotted a doe heading up the mountain from the other side, which was unusual. Apparently, the lower patch had attracted attention. By 9 a.m., my cell phone rang with a family emergency, and I had to leave. Still, I'd learned the small patches were attracting deer.

and I snuggled into a treestand and watched the eastern sky begin to pale. Even though it was the third week of November, the Secret Spot was still as green as ever, despite several killer frosts. Unfortunately, the plants were barely above ground because of intense feeding by deer — the catch-22 of small food plots. Three hundred yards down the ridge, a hunter sat in a stand near a corn feeder. Typically, deer climbed the eastern side of the mountain and went south toward the feeder or north toward me. Leaves rustled in the darkness as the first group of deer passed our stand. Having Jesse with me magnified the excitement as we waited impatiently for daylight. Early-morning hunting pressure in the eastern farmlands often push deer up the mountain. As daylight arrived, two bands of does moved quickly over the ridgetop and down the other side. Soon, seven deer breeched the horizon, moving slowly and feeding casually. Their erratic behavior indicated a buck was among them. As the band came closer, the antlers of a 4-point buck became evident. Best, the small herd came directly toward us, and when the buck stepped into an opening at 40 yards, Jesse fired. Six deer bounded away, and my grandson’s first whitetail lay still in the leaves. The antlers weren’t huge, but that mattered little. Jesse beamed with excitement, and I couldn’t have been more pleased. My experiment with Secret Spot was a resounding success. As we dragged the buck down the mountain, we checked other small openings that will become feeding areas another year. Most hunts occur in hours or days. This one culminated almost four months of effort and created a memory that will last a lifetime. Perhaps next year, we can convince Alex to join us. W

n Big Success from Small Plots >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Perhaps it’s the Thomas Jefferson in our heritage, but I believe there is a bit of a farmer in each of us, and you’ll find that the “work” in food plots soon becomes a favorite pastime. You don’t have to wait for opening day to check on your crop, and the anticipation of big dividends during the season makes the enjoyment that much greater. I learned a lot from the North Country Whitetails seminar and personal experimentation. From those, here are some tips for big success from small plots. • Pick a good hunting spot: Small plots are like convenience stores. Deer stop by for a bite or two and then continue to bedding or serious feeding areas. Consider traditional deer travel, prevailing winds and tree cover for a good stand position. When these conditions intersect with small clearings, logging roads or opening in the over-story, you have a good match. • Use lawn tools: A power tiller can make quick work of loose soil but can be difficult to operate if your out-of-the-way spot is rocky. Don’t overlook yard tools to make your planting more productive. String trimmers (or weed-whackers) will make quick work of small seedlings, briars and tall weeds. Leaf blowers can do the same and will allow seeds to get into the soil. Small spray bottles can deliver sprays and liquid fertilizer, but be sure to mark them clearly to avoid confusion. • Look for existing plants: The soil I planted was very rocky and leaf covered, and I had to remove several rocks to access the soil. Removing existing vegetation is more work, yet it improves your prospects for success because you allow sufficient moisture and sunlight for plants to grow. Pull the weeds, or spray them with Roundup or another glyphosate killer before you plant. • Take a soil sample: Learning the pH of your spot is like having all the letters on Wheel of Fortune. Why guess when you can know exactly how much lime and other chemicals your ground needs for top performance? • Clarify your goals: Initially, I wanted to attract deer to my stand so my grandson would get a shot. That was successful. Now, however, I can’t wait for spring so I can plant several small plots to assist in antler growth and overall deer health. Deciding which seeds to plant is as easy as reading the back of the package. Whitetail Institute seed packaging is very informative, and you can select the type of seed that best fits your soil conditions by reading the back of the package. I’ll try another early-August planting of Secret Spot for the early archery season. I'll also plant Winter-Greens, which will be most tasty to deer after it’s hit by frost. Ironically, this past winter, deer were still coming to the tiny Secret Spot plot during the late muzzleloading season. To monitor growth and deer usage put a small circular wire fence in one of your plots to monitor plant growth so you can see how much deer are eating. Heads up: The Whitetail Institute recently introduced a new seed designed for quick action and maximum attraction. It’s called Pure Attraction and it’s a mixture of winter peas, brassica and high-sugar, winter hearty oats. Nearly a pop-up food patch, you can almost put this in the ground and climb into your stand.

Another Sign of Superior Research and Development. Chicory Plus is the latest in the Whitetail Institute’s continuing effort to develop products that are both nutritionally superior and exceptionally attractive to deer. Chicory Plus contains the only chicory developed especially for whitetail deer and it is blended with the number one clover in the world, Imperial Whitetail Clover. Chicory Plus is designed to provide the high protein of chicory with a more palatable and attractive texture than other chicory varieties. Chicory Plus is an excellent perennial for areas with heavier or moderately drained soils. It will provide you with 3 to 5 years of high-protein forage from a single planting. You can be sure that it is the perfect blend for whitetail – the deer think so, too.

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Vol. 17, No. 2 /



H OW I D O I T By Jim Casada

The Joy in Doing It Your Own Way


oday’s deer hunters live in a rapidly-changing world. Thanks to a major economic shakeout in the timber industry, which made timber companies sell hundreds of thousands of acres, hunters are discovering that long-established hunting clubs and leases suddenly belong to a world they have lost. A hunt club I’ve belonged to for years, which was founded long before I joined, ceased to exist this past year. It was a

victim of a struggling timber company that sold the land to a developer. Despite their many faults, timber companies must be given full marks for their dealings with sportsmen through the years. They presented hunters with reasonable rates on leases, made vast amounts of hunting land available, and often took positive steps to assist with basic wildlife management practices.

Folks who now own so much former timber company land have not followed that approach. Banks, developers and land speculators seem more interested in turning a fast buck than in fostering hunt-club traditions. With rare exceptions, they have little appreciation for — and less interest in — perpetuating what has been an integral part of the American sporting scene for generations. As a hunting writer, I had seen those unfortunate developments coming for some time. That was why, a couple of years ago, I said to my wife, “If I’m going to have a guaranteed place to hunt in the years to come, and if we want the family tradition of closeness to the land and using game as an integral part of our diet to continue, we'd better think about trying to buy some land.” That might seem a pretty dramatic departure for someone who was 60. Yet I wanted a place where I could go when the mood hit me; where I wouldn’t feel I was wearing out my welcome by accepting invitations to hunt too regularly, and where I could take my son-inlaw or granddaughter without a second thought. Also, words from Will Rogers kept echoing through my mind: “Buy land. They ain’t making any more of it.” The result was simple. My wife and I became landowners of a 93-acre tract, making monthly mortgage payments at a time in life when most folks weren't. I haven’t regretted it for a moment, and the continuing process of deciding how to manage the land brings me a great deal of joy. Let’s look at my management approaches. Hopefully, they will suggest some steps to folks in similar situations.

Spring is a fine time to hunt sheds, prepare new food plots, and fertilize existing ones such as this.


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

Jim Casada

STARTING OUT: ASSESSING THE LAND My starting point is a logical one for anyone interested in managing land for deer or other wildlife: I made a honest assessment of what I had, what I could afford and what my immediate and long-range goals were. I walked the acreage carefully several times and did some initial grunt work by marking property lines and clearing limbs and brush from all-terrain vehicle trails. That gave me a feel for established deer trails, bedding areas and prevailing winds. I found that roughly 50 acres, all of which had been clear cut five or six years earlier, constituted what one friend termed a “hell hole.” That portion of the property had not been replanted; a much better situation than if it had been returned to rows of pines. It had grown up in whatever nature produced, including a mixture of pines, briar thickets, honeysuckle vines, wild grapes and sweet gum saplings. I decided to leave everything basically intact, though fortunately, the previous landowner — a deer hunter — had cleared four long, narrow strips in the midst of this area for food plots. They had never been planted, but the basis was there — maybe five or six acres — and I liked the shapes and locations he had chosen. Otherwise, the thickets served several useful purposes. They provided an ideal bedding area for deer, offered appreciable browse where there was honey-


suckle and blackberry briars, and promised useful soft mast from wild grapes and the scattered persimmon trees in a few years. Part of my long-range plan involved paying special attention to the persimmon trees — mainly giving them a head start by keeping competing vegetation at bay with some manual cutting — and perhaps fertilizing especially lush honeysuckle patches. The cover also is a safe haven for rabbits, a decent population of quail and fine nesting habitat for wild turkeys. In time, as the trees grow, I’ll have to consider renewal of that extensive protected area through burning or other means, but that’s the better part of a decade down the road. Almost all of the remaining land is in mature hardwoods, with the acreage split more or less between bottomland along a small stream, a long narrow hollow with a tiny branch running through it, and some deep, rough gullies that likely trace back a half-century to over-farming of cotton and significant erosion problems. The only other acreage is about a three-acre knoll — clearly an old homestead — grown up in broom sedge. For now, it has been left alone, occasionally providing a place to camp or picnic, and there’s a vague idea of using it to build a little camp house.

In the South, late August or early September is a perfect time to plow a new food plot and get seeding done for fall.


Jim Casada

PROFESSIONAL (AND OTHER) HELP If money were no object, I would have hired a wildlife-management expert to provide me with a detailed overview of what should be done. Reality dictates otherwise, so I’ve done what everyone who owns land and wants to manage it on a tight budget should do. First, I’ve been shameless in picking the brains of folks with far more expertise, including some affluent friends, along with acquaintances in the hunting indus-

Vol. 17, No. 2 /



try. Most of my assistance, however, has come on two other fronts, which anyone can take advantage of. For folks willing to make a few phone calls to their county agent, Soil Conservation Service folks and others in similar capacities, there is all sorts of literature and information for the asking. Likewise, a visit to your local library can pay big benefits. Toss in some soil sampling to determine what's needed for fertilizer and lime, and you know a good bit about what needs to be done. The other resource comes through the pages of this publication. Back issues of Whitetail News are a gold mine of information and available at www.whitetailinstitute.com. I also read internet sources. If you do a Google search using a few terms such as “wildlife management,” “food plots,” “quality deer” and “managing deer herds,” you’ll find an astounding amount of information — some useful, some not.

Jim Casada


Manage right, with food plots strategically situated and carefully cultivated, and deer like this are the reward.

After a couple of months of assessment, study and walking the land, I had a pretty good idea of what I

wanted to do. My concepts fell into three basic areas: Immediate or short-range plans, medium-range plans and long-range plans. The early projects — where I am now — included determining where I wanted food plots, getting the ground prepared and planted, and placing permanent stands. I set a realistic budget — remember, I’m making monthly payments on the land — and have carefully stuck to it. That budget didn’t include money for equipment, so I’m stuck with what I had from keeping a three-acre yard around my house in order, along with a bit of help from the only person outside of my family to whom I've given access to the land. He has a tilling system you hook up to a four-wheeler, and that — along with a weed-eater, a fertilizer spreader, some hand tools, a big riding mower and a heavy-duty tiller I use for gardening — constitutes my equipment arsenal. My major cash expenditures concentrate on fertilizer, lime, seed and tree seedlings. The next step in the plan calls for creating a few more food plots and perhaps some additional trails.

n Predator Control >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> From the outset, predator control has been an integral part of doing things my way. I did a fair amount of trapping as a youngster, and my land let me relive that through setting traps for raccoons and possums. I am also beginning to learn a bit about the use of snares, and rest assured, coyotes are shot on sight. Although it doesn’t fall under predator control, I’ve even enjoyed making a few old-fashioned rabbit gums and positioning them at strategic sites along well-used cottontail runs. Catching a rabbit gives me about as much pleasure as shooting a deer. Basically, though, my ideas on predator control focus on helping my turkey population and perhaps, with coyotes, saving a fawn or two.


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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2


n Keeping Track >>>>>>>> Perhaps it’s because I have something of a packrat mentality, but I like to keep careful records. I’ve done so on my land from the outset. These include a trapping log, listings of deer sightings, annual expenditures on stands and management, and a record of all game killed — not just deer, but squirrels, rabbits, quail and woodcock. Through time, although it's too early, this information will tell me quite a bit about my progress and provide direction for the future.

That will mean hiring someone with a dozer and maybe following with some tractor work. I can get that on a swap-out deal with a friend. Clearing some inferior saplings in the hardwood understory and some shooting lanes leading away from stands is also in the plan. I also want to plant a mixture of sawtooth oaks, Chinese chestnuts and persimmons along the quarter-mile of graded road that forms the property’s only vehicular access. Later, during what my wife calls the “dream stage,” I'd create two ponds, more food plots and some type of simple two- or three-room hunting cabin. Experience has convinced me that if you have the other ingredients — such as travel corridors and bedding areas — you can’t have too many properly planned and prepared food plots.

CARRYING OUT THE PLAN Since the start, I've had a mind set focused on getting it right the first time. I haven’t cut any corners with lime and fertilizer, and I also have plenty of sweat equity invested. Likewise, it's imperative that you use quality seed when planting food plots. Imperial Whitetail Clover meets my needs, and its proven track record has made it a logical choice. Cut cost corners as you can, but don’t do it with seed, fertilizer and lime. Also, I've decided not to shoot any does in food plots. I don’t have any hard, factual information to support this decision, but I only shoot does at travel lanes and other areas away from food plots. I believe, especially on tracts this small, that deer will only use food plots at night if you hammer them where they feed. I’d rather watch them and hope that a fine buck will venture out to graze or chase a doe. That's the time to shoot over a food plot.


CONCLUSION That’s pretty well where things stand, but I think it important to share one more critical thought. No matter your financial circumstances — and rest assured, money doesn’t flow like water in the Casada household — there is tremendous joy in doing it your own way. Whether wildlife management involves small plots or land far beyond what I own, it's flat-out fun. Every time I set foot on the ground, run through a food plot with a tiller or see a doe with a fawn ease into bedding areas, there’s a genuine thrill. So too are those special occasions — lots of them, because my wife and I have written several cookbooks and rely heavily on venison in our diet — when we dine on meat from a deer killed on the property. Such rewards are the special province of folks with a close connection to the land. For me, at least, doing it my way has been supremely meaningful. I suspect it will be the same for you. W


Vol. 17, No. 2 /



Never Say



WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2


Losing Streak Ends when Patience Pays off for Determined Hunter By Mike Ziebell


ave you ever noticed that when someone tells you they can almost guarantee you will kill a deer on a hunt, it never goes that way? My hunting career has been pretty much one guarantee after another. I’d had several close friends tell me they could get me a whitetail buck, and after 19 years of trying, I was still waiting.

I started hunting when I was 16. My uncle was a hunter, and he had bought a bow the previous year and was looking for someone to hunt with. I decided it looked easy enough, so I bought a bow, too. In my first four years of bowhunting, I had two years of no luck and two years when I shot a doe. Bowhunting was not as easy as I thought. After I shot my second doe with a bow (I was 19), my success went into hibernation. For the next 12 years, I could only dream about when my next deer would arrive. I waited and waited. It was not like I did not have opportunities to hunt. My “streak” did open several doors to some great hunting land my friends had access too. I had been invited on several “pity hunts.” My friends each thought they would be the one to finally break the streak. Time after time we tried, and time after time, I proved I could ruin any piece of hunting land. Scientists decided to study why I brought on such bad luck with hunting. I was asked by several publishing houses to write my memoirs. Well, not really, but I decided it might be good to share my story with everyone. If I could help at least one hunter, my struggles would be worth it. Well, OK, that’s not true, either. To me, the whitetail buck was like the mythical unicorn. You hear people talk about them, but I had never actually seen one on stand. Now, some of you might think that I jinxed anyone I came into contact with. I know some people I have hunted with would probably agree. However, I learned this was not true. My wife had never bowhunted before she met me. I taught her how to shoot a bow, and in the four years she has hunted with a bow, she has shot two does and a buck. Well, I guess I must have passed what little good hunting luck I had to her. At least someone in our family could bring home venison. That brings me to this story. For the past five or six years, my friends at Whitetail Institute have invited me to hunt with them. Every year, I had to pass because of my

work schedule. Well, that and the fact I did not want to ruin their hunting land with “the streak”. This past year, I decided my luck might have changed, so I took them up on the offer. We would hunt at Little River Plantation in Georgia. My friend Bart told me there would be a good chance of seeing a really good buck on the property. He also told me that it would be a rifle hunt. We arrived at the plantation late in the afternoon and had just enough time to make sure our guns were still sighted in. Then, we went to the lodge for dinner and settled in for the next morning. The lodge was an amazing place — a hunter’s dream. The log-cabin feel and mounted bucks that adorned the walls were enough to get even the most seasoned hunter excited. We ate dinner and talked about the next morning’s hunt. Then it was off to bed. Visions of whitetails danced in our heads — at least in mine, anyway. I saw deer during my first four hunts, but didn’t see the one I wanted to shoot. On my next hunt, I was in a tower stand nestled in a grove of pines. There was a small Imperial Extreme food plot to one side of the stand and a field on the other. I had plenty of time to think about what I would do when that buck came out. As night approached, the hunt was shaping up to be yet another uneventful session. I was just getting ready to leave the stand when I noticed a figure walking out of the food plot to my right. I couldn’t believe it — it was a buck. I grabbed my binoculars to get a better look. The buck knew what he was doing. No matter how hard I tried, I could not see him clearly enough to be certain about his size. I put my binoculars down and grabbed the gun. I turned the scope as low I could and tried again to count the points. The increasing darkness made it impossible to be sure, so I let him go. I thought, “If you cannot tell for sure how big he is, you have no right to pull the trigger.”

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Vol. 17, No. 2 /



I realized there was a huge-bodied deer following her out of the woods. I could tell by my naked eye that it had to be a buck. I raised my binoculars to get a look at him. His body was huge compared to the two does in the field. His coat was almost chocolate brown. I could not tell for sure how many points he had, but I could tell the distance from his right beam to his left beam was a long way apart… It took me about a second to decide he was the one I wanted. I shared my story with the rest of the hunters at the lodge that night. I was disappointed, but again, homemade pie and sweet tea eased my troubled mind. The next morning saw a heavy fog and light mist move into the area. The guides were scratching their heads, trying to find a good spot for me. I had a sneaking suspicion they were feeling the pressure of the streak. They broke from their huddle and had a plan. I was going to sit in a tower stand overlooking another Imperial Extreme food plot. They were sure that would work. My adventure actually began before I got to the stand. I was dropped off and told to follow the field road for about 100 yards or so. On my right, I’d see an opening in the trees that would be big enough to drive a truck down. The stand would be there on the left side. I followed the road and found the opening but could not find the stand. I started to walk down the side of the food plot, and I knew that was not right. I turned around to walk back when I saw the tower plain as day. It had been on the right side. Oh well, no harm, no foul. I climbed up in the stand and settled in to wait. I leaned the gun up against the side of the stand and then waited for day to break. As the light began to creep in, the layout of the Imperial Extreme food plot began to emerge from the fog. The field was in the middle of a large forest. This was looking better and better all the time. I was sitting in the tower and I could not help but admire the beauty of the surrounding landscape. This was really the first morning I had

stopped and looked around. All the other times, I had been too busy looking for that buck to come out and had really missed the view. I was admiring the scenic view when I heard a loud thud. What was that? My range-finder had fallen out of my pocket and landed on the floor of the stand. At that moment, I wondered if there was anything else I could do to ruin the hunt. I picked my range -finder up and put it back in my pocket. I decided to zip up my coat pocket to make sure it did not try to escape again. About a half -hour later, a small doe came out of the woods about 40 yards away on my left and fed across to the middle of the field. She then turned and walked away from me toward the end of the field. She cut the rest of the way across the area and disappeared in the woods on my right. At least I didn’t scare all the deer off. About 15 minutes later, the same doe appeared from my right and fed into the field again. This time, she was at the far end of the field and she was not alone. She had a big mature doe with her. The does took their time and fed slowly across the food plot. The mature doe would stop occasionally and look into the woods behind her. I was getting a little nervous. I could imagine that buck coming out from the right side of the field and following the doe. Nothing came out. As the does approached the left side of the area, the younger doe turned and was feeding back toward me. I watched her come up the field, and I noticed that the larger doe had stopped and was now look-

ing straight ahead of her into the woods to my left. Then she started wagging her tail and walked into the woods. I was sure I would not see her again. She reappeared in the field after only 15 seconds, walked toward the middle of the plot and started eating again. I realized there was a huge-bodied deer following her out of the woods. I could tell by my naked eye that it had to be a buck. I raised my binoculars to get a look at him. His body was huge compared to the two does in the field. His coat was almost chocolate brown. I could not tell for sure how many points he had, but I could tell the distance from his right beam to his left beam was a long way apart. It took me about a second to decide he was the one I wanted. I put my binoculars down and raised the gun. Carefully taking aim, the buck appeared in the scope. Slowly and gently, I squeezed the trigger. The gun went off, and the buck did a small mule-kick and disappeared into the woods to my right. The does followed the buck and disappeared. I was positive I had made a good shot, but I wanted to make sure. I put the safety back on the gun and set it in the corner. That began the longest hour of my life. I wanted to make sure I did not spook the buck and push him farther into the woods. So I waited in the stand. I tried to replay the shot in my head. I also was working on world peace, quantum physics and whatever else I could think of to keep my mind off my watch. When the hour was up, I slowly climbed down from the stand to look for blood. I walked to the end of the field and

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looked for any sign. I could not find any blood. I looked all over the end of the field and did not see anything. All of a sudden, I saw a deer walking through the woods at the end of the field. I thought I had just done what I had wanted to avoid. But the deer did not run. It walked away from me and out of sight. I did not know for sure what it was, and with the lack of blood, my heart sank. I decided I would walk to the right edge of the field and see if I could find anything. That is when I found the blood. It looked like someone had dumped a can of paint out as they walked. I decided to sit and wait for another half-hour, just in case the deer I had just seen was the one I hit. My heart was beating pretty hard in my chest. Just then, I heard something in the field behind me. As I turned, there was a smaller buck standing no more then 30 yards behind me in the Imperial Extreme food plot. He quickly turned and trotted off into the woods. This was already the most amazing hunt I had been on, but I had not found the buck yet. After 30 minutes passed, I got up and started to track the buck. The blood trail was really heavy, and as I crested a small hill at the end of the field, I saw the tail of the buck. I still had no idea of how big he really was. When I reached him, I could not believe my eyes. He was a 7-pointer. One of his brow tines had broken off. That was not the amazing part. When I roughly measured his inside spread, I guessed it would be around 20 inches. His rack was dark brown, and he had very good mass. All I could do was sit next to him and thank God for what he had just blessed me with. When the guide picked me up, I told him of my hunt, and we went to see the buck. One of the other hunters riding with him told me he was not good at tracking deer, but even he could have followed that blood trail. We followed the trail back into the field and found where I had hit him. I ranged from that spot back to the stand: 139 yards. The shot went right through the buck’s heart, and he went only 40 yards before he died. When we got back to the plantation, we measured his inside spread at 21 inches and rough-scored him at 135. This was without the missing brow tine. Everyone there asked what I had done. Frankly, at that point, I was still not sure that it had really happened. You always hear about a buck that is so wide that his rack sticks up above the side of your pick-up. Well, to my surprise, I had my very own. The old saying, “Good things come to those that wait� could not have been truer. This was the first whitetail buck I had killed, and I will have to work hard to top it. I would like to thank my friends Wade Atchley and Bart Landsverk for not letting me say no to the hunt again. I am indebted to them for life. They gave me the most amazing moment in my hunting career. I also want to thank my friends at the Whitetail Institute for their great food-plot products and for inviting me on the hunt. I am not ready to say the streak is dead, but I think it’s on the way out. W

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T H E W E E D D O C TO R By W. Carroll Johnson, III, Ph.D.

Managing Perennial Weeds in Food Plots


orldwide, perennial weeds are among the most troublesome and costly weeds of agriculture. In the book “The World’s Worst Weeds — Distribution and Biology”, eight of the top eighteen weeds in the world are perennials. Closer to home, troublesome weeds in each state are identified by Cooperative Extension Service specialists and many of these are perennial weeds. Common examples of perennial weeds are shown in Figure 1. Perennial weeds earn this dubious distinction by being difficult and costly to control. This is certainly the case in food plots. Research has shown that successful perennial weed management systems are an integration of periodic tillage and systemic herbicides. Tillage. Perennial weeds are difficult to control due to vegetative structures that allow the weed to survive during dormancy. These vegetative structures include rhizomes, stolons, and tubers (Figure 2). Perennial weeds tend to thrive in reduced-tillage cropping systems where the absence of periodic tillage allows the vegetative structures to become more robust, ensuring their survival to the next season. Successful control of perennial weeds in food plots requires frequent and intense tillage that systematically weakens and depletes the perenniating vegetative structures. A convenient opportunity for intense tillage will occur before food plot establishment, between plantings of annual forages, or when perennial plantings have petered out. Regular and repeated tillage over a period of several months weakens perennial weeds by cutting the vegetative structures into small pieces, disrupting their ability to re-establish. The results are progressively depleted carbohydrate reserves and desiccated vegetative structures. The tillage implements of choice are a disk harrow, power-tiller, and moldboard plow. The harrow and power-tiller are the best implements to cut the vegetative structures of perennial weeds into small pieces, while the moldboard plow is the best implement to bury

the vegetative structures. Tillage implements should be operated in a manner that achieves the greatest degree of aggressive soil disturbance. Thus, tractor operated implements tend to perform better than ATV operated implements. Systemic herbicides. Systemic herbicides are readily absorbed by weed foliage and translocated throughout the weed in the vascular system and accumulate in the underground vegetative structures of perennial weeds. The systemic herbicide of choice for perennial weed control is glyphosate (Roundup® and generic brands). A high rate of glyphosate is needed for successful perennial weed control, typically a 2% solution of glyphosate concentrate in water (one gallon glyphosate in 50 gallons water). By all accounts, this is a costly herbicide application, but necessary for effective control of perennial weeds. Glyphosate applied at lower rates may be effective on annual weeds, but ineffective on perennials. Another factor critical to successful control of perennial weeds using glyphosate is application timing. The glyphosate label has an extensive list of perennial weeds controlled and detailed information on when to apply glyphosate. In general terms, perennial weeds readily translocate photosynthates from leaves downward to the underground vegetative structures in the autumn in preparation for winter dormancy. As these photosynthates move downward, glyphosate also moves downward in the vascular system. Applying glyphosate to perennial weeds at other times of the year results in inferior control since glyphosate is not readily translocated downward in the plant at those times during the growing season. Another method to apply glyphosate to control tall perennial weeds is using a wiper-apparatus, commonly called a wick-bar. A wick-bar wipes a super-concentrated solution of glyphosate on weeds substantially taller than the low-growing forage. This technique was originally devised to control tall johnsongrass in cotton and

Figure 1. Examples of a troublesome perennial weeds; (a.) johnsongrass, (b.) common bermudagrass, (c.) greenbrier (Smilax), (d.) horsenettle.


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

was widely used before selective postemergence herbicides were developed. Glyphosate applied with a wickbar controls most tall weeds in forage plantings. Using a wick-bar to apply glyphosate has been discussed in detail in earlier articles and you can read about wickbars at www.whitetailinstitute.com/info/news/pastnews/. Postemergence graminicides (Arrest®) provide selective control of perennial grasses. When Arrest® is used to selectively control perennial grasses, the level of control is generally less than what would be reasonably expected with glyphosate. However, the advantage of Arrest® is selectivity — no injury on legume forages. Arrest® should be applied at 2.25 to 3.75 pt./A to perennial grasses from six to 12 inches tall, with applications repeated if regrowth occurs. This regime should be repeated the following season to control survivors or those emerging from seed. Throughout this discussion on managing perennial weeds, it should be clear there are no simple solutions. An integrated system of fallow tillage and herbicides is the key. Honestly, while densities of perennial weeds can be significantly reduced or suppressed, they will not completely disappear. Perennial weeds are too tough and control measures are too limited to expect complete control — regardless of the setting. I live in southern Georgia and my lawn is centipedegrass. Weed control in centipedegrass is fairly simple, given the diverse array of herbicides available. However, I have a sporadic infestation of a virginia buttonweed — a creeping perennial broadleaf weed. I have tried about every broadleaf herbicide available and I cannot make any noticeable progress in eliminating the weed from my lawn. I now realize that the best I can do is to keep the weed contained to one part of my yard and there will always be a few survivors. In other words, virginia buttonweed is a weed I manage — not fully control. That is the case for many of the perennial weeds found in food plots. You do the best you can and accept a few survivors. W

Figure 2. Johnsongrass produces underground vegetative structures called rhizomes that help the weed regenerate after dormancy and survive control efforts. In addition, johnsongrass produces seed that help the weed survive and spread.


FARMING for Quality WHITETAILS By Kathy Butt Photos by the Author


ately it seems almost every avid whitetail hunter has taken an interest or developed an undying passion for growing and hunting big whitetails, so perhaps our management program isn’t all that different from others you may have previously read about in Whitetail News or various other specialized whitetail management publications. Managing our 365-acre Kentucky farm for both small and big game has definitely become somewhat of an obsession for our entire family, and from the moment my husband, Foster, first raised his hand at a Kentucky land auction approximately ten years ago and won the bid on 140 acres, we’ve become enthusiastically committed to turning our farm into a prime habitat for wildlife, and are especially interested in growing big whitetails.


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

It wasn’t long after buying our Kentucky farm at auction that Foster headed to the Natural Resources Conservation Services office in Russellville, Ky. to inquire about the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), a cost-share program that provides both technical and financial assistance for up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing and improving fish and wildlife habitat on private lands. For almost ten years we’ve been involved in the WHIP program, a program that has resulted in a healthy population of Bobwhite quail and various small game animals, while at the same time beneficial to creating habitat for whitetail deer and turkeys. The previous owners of the property primarily used their land for raising cattle and we learned we had a great deal of work to do before we could establish food plots. The property was a good mix of open pasture lands and hardwood timber, offering prime conditions for whitetail and turkey habitat. Foster launched full force into two very important missions — fescue eradication and soil testing. Once we had the fescue under control and the soil ph in balance, it was time to turn the ground and create a variety of food plots. Fields were disked and plowed, then hours and hours of picking up rocks, more rocks, and yes, even more rocks. It’s a shame deer don’t like to

eat rocks! Once we had the food plots turned and fertilized, we planted Imperial Whitetail Clover and Alfa-Rack in our prime areas, along with a variety of other food sources including corn, soybeans and winter peas. And while it’s obvious whitetail prefer to include a variety of food sources in their diet, we’ve learned clover seems to be high on their list of favorites, so we make certain our Imperial Clover and Alfa-Rack plots are lush and plentiful throughout the season, and it has definitely paid off. It was last year during the Kentucky modern rifle season I was successful in hanging my kill tag on a dandy 10-point buck, one we had not seen before. Our youngest son, Chris, had been exclusively hunting an area of the farm we refer to as the “lower 60” during the late October archery season and had played fruit-basket-turnover with three or four bucks, any of which he would have been glad to have hanging on his wall at home. But he just could never seem to be in the right stand at the right time. Chris is a freelance videographer and films each fall for Ted Jaycox and Ray Boone in their Kansas whitetail camp, so when Chris headed to Kansas early in November for a three-week filming assignment, his dear ol’ mom decided to crawl into one of his favorite treestands in hopes of filling her buck tag. Perhaps I would get lucky and connect on one of the bucks Chris


Since it’s introduction in 1988, Imperial Whitetail Clover has become the standard by which other food plot products are judged. Imperial Whitetail Clover changed deer nutrition forever. Now after years of painstaking research, the Whitetail Institute has added newly developed Insight clover to our super-nutritious blend of clovers. Insight is genetically formulated specifically for whitetail deer. With the highest level of protein available, up to 35%, Imperial Whitetail Clover provides optimal nutrition throughout the year for the entire herd. Whether your deer are producing and feeding their young or building antlers, Imperial Whitetail Clover provides them with the nutrients they need to do it well. And when the deer get what they need to maintain healthy herds and grow big healthy bucks with impressive racks, you increase your odds of bagging record-setting deer. For decades now, deer hunters all over North America have enjoyed the results of our innovative and aggressive approach to deer nutrition, and have planted over a million acres of Imperial Whitetail products. All those years of research continues to produce results – in the fields and in the record books. We do the research. You see the results.

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had been watching back in archery season? Unfortunately, the first few days of last year’s Kentucky rifle season were unseasonably warm, meaning the deer activity during daylight hours was practically non-existent. But....there was light at the end of the tunnel, as the local weather forecasters were predicting the approach of a major cold front later in the week. Foster and I decided to head home and wait for better hunting conditions. That front was moving in much quicker than first anticipated, and although Foster couldn’t leave the taxidermy shop until Thursday evening, he encouraged me to go without him. He didn’t have to do too much persuading, because I knew from experience how a major cold front could get the deer up and moving, and I wanted to be there when it happened. It was on the sixth day of the two-and-one-half-week season that our morning temperatures dipped down into the teens, requiring me to dress for the extreme elements. I pulled out the Hot Hands hand and toe warmers and layered up so I could remain still on my stand that morning. And as the sun popped over the top of the trees, I was trying hard not to shiver from the cold and was reminding myself that the colder temps were what I’d been praying for. It was 17 degrees, the wind was calm and I was watching the steam pour out from under my fleece face mask when I heard the rustling of leaves behind my stand. I slowly turned to look behind me and quickly spotted an impressive buck standing only 60 yards away and thought, “Whoa! “This is one buck I don’t think any of us had seen before.” I slowly stood and turned around to get a better look while at the same time reaching for my rifle. The buck was following three does that were headed for the Imperial Clover plot out in front of my stand. I didn’t want to take any chances of letting this one get away, so I didn’t take time to count points or wait for him to follow the does. I carefully eased my gun up to my shoulder and settled the crosshairs behind the buck’s shoulder. I’d already

The author was successful in taking this mature 150-inch, 10-point buck on the family farm during Kentucky’s 2005 modern rifle season. Kathy’s stand was situated on the edge of a lush food plot planted with Imperial Whitetail Clover.



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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

KOLP IN P OWERS PORTS , INC. (877) 956-5746 • K OLP INPOWERS PORTS .COM www.whitetailinstitute.com

seen enough to know this buck would score well, so I slipped the safety off, took a couple of deep breaths, exhaled, held my breath and squeezed the trigger on my 7mm-08. The buck jumped high into the air and bolted out of sight, but I knew he hadn’t gone far when I heard him crashing through the timber along the creek bank just below my stand. Then, it became very quiet. I sat down to compose myself, waiting for the mad rush of adrenaline to subside and glanced at my watch to check the time. It was 7 a.m. and the ground was covered

I carefully eased my gun up to my shoulder and settled the crosshairs behind the buck’s shoulder. I’d already seen enough to know this buck would score well, so I slipped the safety off, took a couple of deep breaths, exhaled, held my breath and squeezed the trigger on my 7mm-08.

The author’s husband, Foster Butt, was also successful in tagging this handsome 10-point buck on the family farm during the 2005 Kentucky rifle season on a powerline planted with Chicory Plus.


in a thick white frost and I couldn’t help but think back to how unusually warm the weather had been on opening weekend and how drastically this change had affected the deer activity. My curiosity to get a closer look at my Kentucky buck was kicking into overdrive, so I gathered my gear, unloaded my rifle and used my pull rope to lower it to the ground, then climbed down out of my stand. I crossed the ditch and walked 60 yards to where the buck had been standing when I shot, then walked to where the buck entered the woods and easily spotted a generous blood trail which led me to a beautiful 10-point buck lying next to the creek. He hadn’t gone far at all! This buck was much larger than I’d first estimated him to be, but then of course, I didn’t have

long to seriously look him over before deciding to pull the trigger. And there definitely wasn’t any ground shrinkage this time! I was hunting alone on the farm that morning and knew I could easily find someone to help me retrieve the buck, but actually I was quite determined to do it on my own. So I field dressed the buck and headed back to the farm house to do a little brainstorming. Of course, I called Foster to tell him about my morning’s hunt and my handsome trophy as soon as I got back to camp and I think he was almost as excited as I was. I told him of my plan to retrieve my buck on my own, and quite honestly, I don’t believe he thought I would be able to get this buck out by myself. He suggested I call our good friend, Buddy Rainwaters to help me and although I knew Buddy would have been glad to have helped me with my buck, I was really determined to get it out on my own. I decided to rig up a sled out of a big piece of metal sheeting to pull behind our ATV, but knew the most difficult part of my plan would be to get the buck from the creek up to the opening where I could roll him over onto the sled. Actually, this wasn’t a problem at all. I took care of this problem by wrapping a rope around the base of the buck’s antlers, then attached it to the ball hitch on the back of the ATV, pulling up the slack on the rope until it lifted the buck’s head and antlers up off the ground, then, slowly dragged it out of the woods. Part A of my plan was accomplished and Part B was a piece of cake! With my buck loaded for his sled ride, I ever so slowly pulled the sled back to our farm house and was quite proud of myself for having taken such a nice buck, yet I think even more so for having retrieved it without having had to call for help. My 10-point buck field-dressed at a whopping 195 lbs. and had a net score of 150 inches, so there’s no doubt in my mind that providing a variety of food sources, creating the right habitat and managing our herd for quality is definitely paying off in big dividends. W

Vol. 17, No. 2 /



Putting Your Knowledge to Practice By Matt Harper, Institute Deer Nutrition Specialist


t was about 2:30 p.m. on a cool, calm late-October day. The oaks and the hickories were at peak color, and the leaf drop was at the perfect stage when just enough leaves were on the ground while enough clung to the branches, producing wonderful dimension and brilliance. The pre-rut was underway, and bucks that had gone unseen for a year were starting to emerge. It was a glorious time. You might think I was perched in my favorite treestand, but I was sitting through an agonizing lecture in a statistics class, listening to the professor drone on about the x- and y-axis and some other nonsense. Honestly, I only caught every third or so sentence from the squat, balding, bespectacled man. My attention was focused outside on the college commons, where there were some gorgeous old oaks along with not-so-old animal life. “Mr. Harper, would you care to explain to me the basis of the statistical theory we have been discussing,” the professor said. Busted. After the humiliation began to fade, I started to wonder why I needed to know that junk. I was sure I'd never use it. Like most things I was sure about then, I learned later I was wrong. Statistics came in pretty handy later in life. Since college, I've learned knowledge is almost never wasted and can often be applied — if you know how to apply it. In Part 1 of this series, we learned how a deer’s digestive system works by examining the integral parts of a ruminant system. From the mouth, through the four-chambered stomach to the small intestine, we discovered the specificity and efficiency of a ruminant animal. In Part 2, we zeroed in on the particulars of a deer’s ruminant system compared to more commonly known ruminants, such as cattle. We examined the differences between small ruminants (deer) and large ruminants (cattle), and how even though both are ruminants, they have distinct differences in nutrient and forage-quality needs. In Part 3, we'll put our knowledge into practice. We will evaluate how understanding a deer digestive system can help in the layout and design of a food plot and how those plots can be more effective. Also, from understanding the difference between a small ruminant and large ruminant, we will determine what types of forages are best in food plots. 56

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

USING YOUR KNOWLEDGE: FOOD-PLOT DESIGN You might have heard that the best food-plot designs for hunting are typically small and irregularly shaped. The size is dictated by the area between cover (that is, timber,

brush or any habitat that provides protection and seclusion). Likewise, the shape of the plot is dictated by cover, as the field-edge line follows the cover-edge line. Of course, that can be manipulated if the land manager clears cover with a saw or dozer. The general philosophy is that small, irregularly shaped plots will encourage more daylight feeding. Because this food plot design allows for maximum edge production (edge equals the area between two habitat types; in this case, cover and feeding), deer are more likely to frequent these areas because deer are predominantly edge dwellers. But why do deer prefer edges? In Part 1, we discussed how deer ruminate. Rumination is the process of bolus regurgitation and remastication of food in a pseudo digesta recycling system. A deer bites off food and masticates the food by grinding it with its molars. The food particles then move down the esophagus, through the reticulum into the rumen. Inside the rumen, microbial colonies begin to break down these food particles into compounds that can be digested. Other digesta move through the rumen and omasum into the abomasum, where gastric digestion occurs. Those nutrients are considered bypass nutrients because they bypass rumen fermentation. Aside from foods that are quickly digested through rumen fermentation and those that bypass fermentation and move into the abomasum, there is another portion of food that is not completely digested. These form a bolus that's regurgitated, chewed and swallowed. This is a cyclic process that lets the deer get as much as possible out the food it consumes. Digestion efficiency is not the only attribute of the rumination process. Another is that it gives deer a valuable protection mechanism. Deer can fill their rumen quickly and then return to protective cover to complete the digestion process through rumination. If you watch deer feed, they will usually feed for a relatively brief period and then go to cover to ruminate. One reason deer prefer edges is it lets them use rumi-

By understanding the difference between a small ruminant and large ruminant, we can determine what types of forages are best in food plots.


Whitetail Institute

The Ruminant Stomach, Part 3

nation as a protective function. Planting small, irregularshaped food plots maximizes edge habitat and thus maximizes deer movement into the feeding area as they go through the feeding and rumination cycle. Once, a guy asked me how to make deer use a plot less in daylight because he did not want to create a virtual killing field. Instead, he was looking for more of a feeding-type food plot. I told him to plant a large field in the middle of a clearing, leaving at least 40 to 50 yards of bare ground between cover and the food plot. He asked why. I told him deer would feel vulnerable in the bare area and were less likely to feed in daylight and return to cover to ruminate. Rather, they would wait for darkness, move to the food plot to feed and then probably bed down on the spot and ruminate. USING YOUR KNOWLEDGE: FORAGE SELECTION A couple of years ago, I purchased a new all-terrain vehicle. It was the first time I had bought a new motorized vehicle, and I was determined to take care of it. After breaking in the motor, I went to an auto/cycle shop to get oil and a filter for a do-it-yourself oil change. I stared blankly at the myriad choices for oil and finally grabbed one because I had used the same basic type in my truck. (OK, I know that sounds stupid, but I was a novice.) A knowledgeable and slightly bemused sales guy asked what I was planning to do with the oil. I told him, and he promptly began to spew out reasons why that was a bad decision, and then directed me to a product that would work better. That's an example of how often people choose products based on little more than familiarity. Working with people planting food plots, I see that often. They go to the local feed-and-seed store, look around and eventually buy a bag of hay alfalfa, red hay clover or some type of pasture mix. They think if works well for cows, why wouldn’t it work well for deer? In Part 2, we examined the distinct differences 58

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

Whitetail Institute

Deer must be very specific in the type and quality of forages they consume. In general, cattle can use almost all types of grasses, legumes and leaves. Deer require and prefer forges that are vegetative, heavily leafed and have high nutrition.

between large ruminants (cattle) and small ruminants (deer). Large ruminants have a larger rumen than small ruminants, and it supports exponentially larger populations of microorganisms and has more surface area for digestion. Those factors let large ruminants efficiently use a wide variety of vegetation, in terms of forage species variety and variety of quality. Deer, however, must be much more specific in the type and quality of forages they consume. In general, cattle can use almost all types of grasses, legumes and forbs, no matter the maturity or characteristics of stems and leaves. Cattle can contently graze on foot-high grass and receive excellent nutrition. Further, cattle can efficiently digest alfalfa hay that was mowed and baled when the alfalfa was mature and had predominately stems. Further, cattle can survive on stemmy, poor-quality hay and even corn-stover bales. In contrast, deer require and prefer forages that are vegetative, heavily leaved and with soft, low-lignin content stems. That's because they lack the ability to digest lowquality forages, mature forages or plant types high in neutral detergent fiber, like most grasses. Another distinction is the difference in nutrient needs. Deer generally have higher nutrient needs than cattle. That's especially true for protein and minerals. When choosing a food-plot forage for deer, you must consider the previously mentioned important forage characteristics. First, you want to choose a forage that will stay vegetative for as long as possible and produce little seed. That helps maintain a high level of attractiveness and digestibility. Second, you want to use a food-plot product that's high in nutrients such as protein (protein levels are especially important in spring and summer). Many “food-plot” blends consist of forage types designed for cattle. Those forage types are designed to grow quickly and mature quickly for optimal cattle grazing or hay production. Those attributes work well for cattle because cattle can digest that type of forage. Further, cattle forages have adequate nutrients for cattle but are normally far below the nutrient needs of deer. So just because the forage is good for cattle doesn't mean it will be good for deer. If you want to have optimal attraction coupled with optimal nutrition, you must select food-plot products designed for deer. That philosophy is the main reason for the success of the Whitetail Institute’s product line and their leadership position for 20 years. Here are a couple of examples: Imperial Whitetail Clover was the result of a clover genetics program to develop a clover variety with the characteristics needed by deer. Imperial Clover was designed to stay vegetative for a long period and produce little seed. Because Imperial Clover stays in a vegetative state indefinitely, it remains highly attractive and digestible. It was also designed to have a very high level of protein. The result was a clover that produces up to 35 percent protein every month. Compare that to other clovers. Many top out at around 20 percent protein and only for a brief period. Imperial Alfa-Rack Plus is based on a specific blend of alfalfa varieties known as grazing alfalfas, which are bred to stay vegetative longer, have thinner stems and be heavier leafed. Compared to traditional alfalfa, which is bred to mature quickly and have a heavy stem, grazing alfalfas remain more attractive and higher in nutrients long after hay-variety alfalfas are of little use to deer. CONCLUSION Acquiring knowledge about a subject can help you make better decisions and choices. It also helps you understand why things work the way they do. As I said earlier, knowledge is never wasted — well, at least not most of the time. I'm not sure when I'll need my knowledge of early American folk writers, which I picked up in an English literature class. Maybe on Jeopardy? W www.whitetailinstitute.com


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Whitetail Institute

Victor Allen — Illinois I have owned a 40 acre piece of property for 5 years. In the five years I have owned this property I have taken several does, but haven’t seen over five shooter (120 class) bucks in the five years. I planted Whitetail Clover and it really does well. This is the first full year of the food plot. I saw over 30 different bucks in or around the food plot this year. I did take a 155 class buck (see photo) this year and saw three more as big or bigger. Thank you for a fantastic product. It was my first buck with a bow in over 13 years of hunting.

Mike Lutt — Nebraska Using Imperial Clover for food plots has helped keep bucks in the area and not get harvested until they are in their prime. Food plots help us to pattern the bucks and hold the does in the area making our success better each season. Enclosed is a picture of a 130 class buck I took off our land.

products I saw a nice 8 point and passed on him that year. The following year I saw this buck feeding again on Imperial Clover and 30-06 Mineral. I noticed this buck had started to develop a 9th point. I passed on him again one more year. During the fourth year I didn’t see the buck and thought it got killed. One month before the next season I saw him on another part of the farm eating Imperial Whitetail Extreme and shot him that season and he scored 157-7/16 green score the only deduction was the 9th point and maybe 1-1/2 inches everywhere else. So I was lucky to have the chance at such a fine animal. Whitetail Institute Products really work and I will continue using them. I see heavier bodied deer and larger antlers. It is very rare to find big bucks in my area. But since I killed this buck we have taken many other great bucks including my best friend taking a 198-3/8 inch buck the first day of rifle season. Sorry no photo of it. Thanks.

when I spotted this monster up wind chasing a doe right towards me. He and an 8 pointer (probably in the 150 range) came from the direction of an Imperial Whitetail field. Here I am watching this world class whitetail coming my way with the wind in my face. It was like a dream come true. I let him get to around 30 yards before I took him.

Dennis Noonan — New Jersey I planted Imperial Whitetail Clover five years ago and there are more deer, bigger does, and bigger antlered and bodied bucks. Photo 1 was a deer that was 6-1/2 years old. He scored 1631/8 Pope & Young. He was eating Imperial Whitetail Clover for 3 years.


Tim Malay — Wisconsin Since I planted your Imperial Whitetail Clover the bucks just keep getting bigger, and things just keep getting

Tom Hall — Ohio I started using Imperial Whitetail Clover in 1994 and I have observed larger racked bucks each year. In addition I’ve used Imperial Alfa-Rack and Imperial No-Plow. Deer sightings during hunting season have increased tenfold. However, what impresses me the most is the health and quality of the does on our property. We harvested 160 lb. lb.-200 does. I feel that the number of does has brought neighboring bucks onto our land. The rut is so intense and exciting now. This year I saw six Pope & Young bucks in our 40 acre woods. Turkeys too! I took a 142” Pope & Young as he was leaving the Imperial Whitetail Clover field (see photo).

Chad Coen — West Virginia After using Whitetail products I started watching my deer herd more closely. My second year after using these 60

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

He was harvested in New Jersey. Photo 2 was a deer that scored 177. He was 7-1/2 years old and had been eating Whitetail Clover, No-Plow and Cutting Edge Nutritional Supplements. I am now also in the process of using all your products in the Adirondacks, New York.


Ben Jones — Tennessee

better. This was the smaller of the two bucks that I was hunting. Thanks for helping me produce some nice bucks, I took this 13-point 173-7/8 green gross score buck.

Jeff Bennett, Middle Fork Whitetail — Illinois It was the second day of shotgun season in Illinois

The weather was perfect for an early fall evening bow hunt. I had been sitting in my tree stand for a couple of hours imagining a deer walking into one of my shooting lanes. You know how you sit there and think, "If he just steps behind this tree, I can draw on him." You have a lot of time to think when you're sitting out there. Conditions were good but I hadn't seen a thing, except about a million squirrels. About 30 minutes before dusk, the woods lit up with action. I was 100% tuned in to all of the sounds around me. You know how it is when you hear certain things and you just know it’s a deer. Just then, a doe came through and was obviously being pursued by a love struck buck. A few minutes after the doe moved into my hunting area, I saw two small bucks, a spike and a 4 pointer. The spike made his move on the doe but was rejected. I was really enjoying the much needed deer action, even though there weren't any www.whitetailinstitute.com

RECORD-BOOK BUCKS… shooters in the bunch. The 3 deer moved on out of sight and I started to sit back down in my tree stand. All of the sudden, I heard some leaves rustling behind me. THERE HE WAS. My heart started beating out of my chest. I could hear myself breathing and tried to close my mouth to muffle the sound. This was the biggest deer I'd ever seen in the woods and he's coming right at me. To add to the drama, he has a companion, another buck, just slightly smaller but still a monster. I'm still standing up because of the deer that just came through. I can feel my knees shaking a little bit. I'm trying as hard as I can to focus on standing still. I have two small Secret Spot food plots planted close to my tree stand and I was just praying that the two bucks would come to one of them. At this point, I'm trying to reel myself back in and focus on a possible shot. I still can't get my legs to stop shaking and now my hands are beginning to shake. The bigger buck is moving toward my food plot and things are happening just as I imagined them. I'm thinking about getting ready to draw but he is angled slightly away from me and still in a position where he can bust me. I hear some noise in the woods behind me. I slowly turn my head to look back and there's another doe coming down the hill. "Not Now!!!," I'm thinking. The buck looks up to see where the noise is coming from and has to look right in my direction. I'm just dying right now, thinking that he's going to see me. When that happens, you swear that he's looking right at you. Luckily, he doesn't seem to be bothered by the doe. He puts his head back down to eat and I draw. One more step to the right is all I need. He took that step and squared up for me. At that moment in time, I felt rock solid. I'm thinking to myself. Look at your sites, not the rack. I squeezed the trigger on my release and watched my arrow disappear behind his shoulder. What a rush!!!! It was perfect. I was almost surprised that I had made the shot. I knew then that I had him. Of course, he was running down hill, a big hill too. I sat back down in my tree stand so I didn't pass out. I couldn't believe what just happened. All I could think about was getting to that deer as fast as I could. I knew I needed to wait a little bit, so I climbed down from my tree and walked back to the house to get my wife. I wanted her to be there with me when we found him. This was the most incredible moment in bow hunting that I've had the privilege to experience. My wife and I walked down the hill, following a fantastic blood trail. He only made it about 100 yards. I can't tell you how great I felt when I saw him laying there. I guess I don't have to. I think you know what I mean. I started counting the points like they do on those hunting shows. (I used to make fun of that). I just sat there and stared at my buck. That is my story.

Rodney Woodfill — Indiana There are crop fields around our property but it seems like no matter what, you can count more deer in our two



around. Photo 1 shows a 134” 10-point I took. I took the 138” buck in photo 2 as he ran a doe across the field with another real nice 8-point trailing behind


acre plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover than the bean and corn fields. The two acre plot is very secluded and you can always catch deer in it. I really like the products because they seem to really keep the deer

2 before he fell. In photo 3 is a friend of mine, Jason Hill, with a 145” 10point he killed during bow season. The deer was heading to the Imperial Clover field early in the afternoon when Jason took him. He has a huge body for this area.

David Lees — Missouri I started using Imperial Whitetail Clover in 1999. I had moved from Ohio to Missouri and purchased thirty acres of woods and agricultural ground. I knew that I wanted to plant Imperial Whitetail Clover right off the bat. However, I thought that I did have serious competition with other food sources. You see I moved to one of the most fertile agricultural areas in the state of Missouri. I had hundreds of acres of soybeans and corn surrounding my farm. I was even growing them. My first hunt in Missouri was in 1998 and the bucks I saw on my farm had small racks. Deer would move through my property but were not residents there. As soon as the fall of 1999 rolled around I was seeing more deer at all times. The clover that I planted that spring started keeping them on my farm. I have harvested deer every year since 1998, but this year having the clover has really paid off. In October I harvested a very nice ten point during archery season. See photo.

I know the Imperial Whitetail Clover for the last six years has been improving the quality and the quantity of the deer living and moving through my farm.

Jay Severson — Wisconsin I started with a plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover about the same time we started Q.D.M. in my area! The deer loved the Whitetail Clover. The average buck body weight was 125130 lbs. I planted more Whitetail Clover and some No-Plow. And when Alfa-Rack came out- I planted some of it toothis seed seems to do a little better on my land because I’m in sandy and welldrained soil. The deer love them all. I do believe that Whitetail Institute products and Q.D.M. are helping. Average bucks are about 160lbs. body weight and I took my best bow buck this fall 200lbs. 161-4/8 N.T. Pope & Young. We started with Imperial Clover ten years ago and nine bucks have been taken that score over 125. None were taken before.

Ron Perrine — Ohio Enclosed are three photos of bucks we have taken over our No-Plow food plots. All three scored in the 130’s. Thanks. W

Send Us Your Photos! Do you have a photo of a buck that qualifies for the Pope & Young, Boone & Crockett or your state record books that you took with the help of Imperial products? Send it to us and you might find it in the Record Book Bucks section of the next issue of Whitetail News. Send your photo and a 3 to 4 paragraph story telling how you harvested the deer and the role our products played to:

Whitetail News, Attn: Record Book Bucks 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043

Vol. 17, No. 2 /



WINTER NUTRITION GAPS By Bill Winke Photos by the Author

Winter-Greens provide a good food source for deer well into fall and winter, when most perennial food source have gone dormant.


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2



his past summer, a small group of landowners in my part of Iowa hired a high-profile consulting biologist to offer advice on the best strategy for managing whitetails on their properties. They invited me to the meeting. It was a great opportunity to learn and ask questions in a real case-study setting.


One of the problems with the properties was a lack of winter food. The farms commonly ran out of desirable food sources in December, leaving only substandard groceries for deer until spring green-up in early April. During January, February and March, the farms — which encompass a large area — are void of high-quality food. The obvious question arose: “How much effect does this three-month gap in nutrition have on the quality of the antlers the bucks grow each year?” The biologist said antlers actually grow from calcium and phosphorous stored in the skeleton. It takes a lot of energy out of a buck to produce antlers. If that buck is not healthy, it must first rebuild its body from the rigors of winter before it can put maximum energy into antler growth. In other words, the health and maintenance of the animal take priority over antler growth. That’s when things got interesting. The biologist said that if a buck misses those three months of highquality nutrition, his maximum antler size might be 20 percent to 25 percent smaller. In other words, a 150-class buck might have been a 180-class buck had he received better nutrition through life. I don’t know if the biologist got everyone else’s attention, but he certainly got mine. When you are sitting in a tree stand and a buck is walking toward you, there is a big difference between a 150 and a 180-class buck. The shock value of those 30 additional inches is tangible. I love it. So maybe if you supply a high-quality diet for a buck’s entire life, it's conceivable that his antlers will be 20 percent to 25 percent larger than if he eats only low-quality foods during those months. There's no doubt that healthy bucks tend to produce more sticker points, and sticker points add up fast. In the end, a 150-class buck with poor winter nutrition could well have been a 180-plus-inch buck if he had

a consistently superior diet. If that's true, deer hunters focused on producing quality bucks need to take winter nutrition gaps very seriously. Especially the further north you are. More to the point, we need to plug those gaps as quickly and as effectively as possible.

SOME MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT WINTER FEED I used to hunt a property where one member of the hunting party always disagreed with our budget to plant food plots. Every year he would say, “That’s a huge waste of money. These deer have a lot of fat in them when we field-dress them each fall. There is no way they are going to starve during winter. We just don’t have deer starving in this state. There is always plenty of brome grass for them to eat.” Wow, I could write a book about all the problems in that last paragraph. And you can imagine the handfuls of hair I pulled out when I had to butt heads with this guy at our annual meetings. It was colorful, to be sure. It's also one of the main reasons I’m an ex-member of that hunting group. I’ll start with the first point, about body fat. Yes, deer often have a lot of body fat going into winter, but the does are generally the butterballs, not the bucks. It's common for a buck to run off most or all of his body fat during the rut, leaving him with little in reserve. More often than not, he goes into the winter in poor physical condition. If it is a difficult winter, or if food is in short supply, the stress will be a real problem. Winter-kill among mature bucks after a hard rut is common. Those that don’t die are certainly at a disadvantage. During good conditions, a buck can still recover and regain enough stamina to carry him through the tough

Vol. 17, No. 2 /



months ahead. However, if conditions are adverse, he will experience a setback in body condition. A buck-to-doe ratio skewed heavily toward does also makes the situation worse. In that case, the bucks rut longer each year. A prolonged rut uses up more of the buck’s precious energy, leaving him more vulnerable and less likely to grow his best possible antlers the next year. I have spoken with several deer managers who have breeding programs about this effect. If they leave a buck with lots of does, he will grow a smaller rack the next year. However, if they put him with a small number of does or keep him from breeding, his rack size doesn’t diminish — and that’s in a setting without food-related stress. Imagine how much worse it will get if that buck has to scrounge for food after two months of chasing does. “I like to explain antler growth using an analogy,” said Matt Harper, Whitetail Institute’s deer nutrition specialist. “Think of a cup that you are filling with water. When you fill the cup, you are rebuilding the buck’s physical needs. It's only when the water runs over the top that the buck focuses available resources on growing antlers. The fuller the cup is at the end of the winter, the sooner it will overflow in spring. The buck’s body can devote more of his daily energy and food intake to growing antlers rather than upgrading body maintenance.” Let’s go back to my friend’s second erroneous point. If you are trying to grow quality deer, including bucks that reach their antler-growth potential, the critical standard is not simply preventing starvation. The critical standard, using Harper’s analogy, is to produce bucks that have as full of a cup as possible when spring green-up arrives. Anything less is a compromise. The final point revolves around the mistaken concept that deer can do just fine on the brome grass in most Conservation Reserve Program fields. I ran that one past a few biologists, and they just laughed. Brome grass is a diet deer resort to when holding starvation at bay. It's not a food


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

Bow-hunter Patty McPherren took this great buck during the 2006 season. Deer like this are no accident. They are the product of great genetics, adequate age and superior year-round nutrition.


Early season, and it’s still warm. You spot the buck you’ve scouted for weeks. As he closes the distance, you feel the heat and the nervous sweat more than ever. Relax; take the shot. He doesn’t even know you are in his world. You can thank Scent-Lok® gear for this close encounter. The more you sweat and the faster your heart pounds, the more you need Scent-Lok technology. Let Scent-Lok technology work to trap the human odors your game could use against you.

G E T C LO S E . G O U N D E T E C T E D .

s c e n t l o k. c o m © 2007 Scent-Lok Technologies, a division of ALS Enterprises, Inc.

source that will bring bucks through the winter in optimum condition. The cup will be far from full after a winter eating brome grass. It should be clear that winter nutrition gaps are bad for your deer and will directly affect the antler-growing potential of bucks. Now, let's focus on how to plug those gaps.

PLUGGING THE WINTER NUTRITION GAPS “Deer don’t really need near as much protein or minerals during winter as they do during summer,” Harper said. “Their needs change with the season. What they really need during winter is energy. That comes from carbohydrates and fats. Our solution to this need is Cutting Edge Sustain. We never intended that this product would replace the five pounds of food that a deer generally eats in a day, but it does provide a serving size of four to eight ounces per head. It is a supplement; think of it as an energy bar rather than a full meal. “However, the Cutting Edge products fill a very specific need during the winter: the need for increased energy to stay warm and ward off the rigors of the rut. The product is granular. You can offer it in a bunk or pour it straight on the ground.” Imperial Winter-Greens is another Whitetail Institute product that works well during late fall and winter. It stays green and lush well after other forage plants go dormant. In that way, it remains a viable food source when many things in the whitetail’s world have shriveled and dried to brown stalks. I grew Winter-Greens this past year in an Iowa food plot. Actually, I put the seed through a tough test. I had a soybean plot that didn’t materialize because the extreme drought we suffered for much of Summer 2006. In early September, there was a good rain in the forecast, so I hand-broadcast Winter-Greens onto my soybean plot. I checked the plot often, and soon it was a lush green carpet of brassicas. I’m sure the agronomists on the Whitetail Institute staff are cringing right now, because broadcasting onto untilled ground is not a recommended method for planting this seed. However, it grew well — at least in this case. More important, deer loved them and benefited from them. The two-acre plot was in the middle of an alfalfa field, yet deer went out of their way to find and eat the WinterGreens late that fall. They were hitting it hard even before the alfalfa withered.

THE MOST CRITICAL TIME “The last six weeks before spring green-up is the time of greatest stress for whitetails,” Harper said. “By then, much of the native forage and food plots have been eaten, but the new growth of spring has not yet begun to materialize. This also gets you into the third trimester of fawn development — a time when two-thirds of total growth occurs. “If the doe suffers from stress at this time, it affects the health of the unborn fawn. This means the fawn will get off to a slower start. The health of the doe at the time of birthing also affects the amount of milk she produces and that will also affect the health of the fawn. Deer can’t recoup lost body condition if the stress lasts for a prolonged period. For example, if a buck has low quality nutrition for its first three years, it will not suddenly produce a larger skeleton if it receives better nutrition at age four. In other words, the maximum size of the antlers a buck produces when he is four or five years old are not just the product of the prior year’s nutrition but rather the product of his lifetime of nutrition. That's why it is particularly important to get fawns off on the right foot and keep them in fine shape through adulthood. This is not a sight you want to see much on your farm: deer pawing through snow to eat grass. Although grass will sustain deer, it's far from being an ideal food source.

A PRACTICAL HUNTER’S VIEW OF WINTER FOOD PLOTS Food plots are always important to the health of


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2


deer, but they aren’t always the best places to shoot a nice buck. In fact, during the peak of the rut, does will sometimes avoid food plots because bucks constantly harass them there. Instead, they may hide out and lay low until the rut passes, and then they emerge in full force. Bucks might still stop by a food plot during the rut to look for does, but they don’t use these areas as heavily at that time. On the other hand, food plots are awesome places to shoot deer — including big bucks — during the late season. I'm always excited for the arrival of cold late-season hunting in December and January. I know deer will be piling into my winter food sources, and will be more predictable and vulnerable at that time than any other time of the season, including the rut. If deer aren’t hunted hard during the early portions of the season, the late season is often the best time to shoot a trophy. But you can only shoot that trophy if you have food sources deer desire. Go ahead and throw out all the biology and good reasons for supplying ample winter food that Harper has suggested. There's a more compelling reason to pile on the winter groceries. From a selfish standpoint, these locations offer exceptional hunting.

CONCLUSION High-quality year-round food sources are very important. Deer need this resource to reach their potential for body weight and antler development. Of the four seasons, especially the further north you are, winter offers the most challenge and stress for most deer. Many deer managers fail to provide adequate food at this time. Make a plan that includes plenty of highly nutritious, energy-rich foods in January, February and March, and you will be rewarded with larger bucks each fall. W

The late season is a great time to shoot a mature buck at a food source, such as the deer Scott Prucha shot in 2005. The key is cold weather, moderate to light hunting pressure, and a highly desirable food source. This is another important reason to plant food plots that attract deer in winter.

A Division of The Whitetail Institute of North America

Interested in developing your property into the ultimate deer habitat? A-Team Consulting is the answer for those seeking a detailed roadmap. The A-Team Consulting service is all inclusive. Our most experienced consultants will develop a plan specifically tailored for your property through an on-site evaluation of your property, aerial photos, topographical maps, soil sampling and analysis, weather patterns, other electronic data and our knowledge of the habits and characteristics of whitetail deer. The Plan will provide precise analysis and recommendations concerning habitat, food plot locations, stand-site selection, forage selection, soil and seedbed preparation and maintenance, additional nutritional supplementation and other matters related to creating the ultimate deer habitat on your property. Fee Structure: Up to Two Days On Site: $5,000 plus expenses Each Additional Day Beyond Two: $2,000 plus expenses $2,000 retainer required AVAILABILITY IS EXTREMELY LIMITED. Projects will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis upon receipt of retainer. For more information, please call Jon Cooner at (800) 688-3030, ext. 231. www.whitetailinstitute.com

Vol. 17, No. 2 /



First Hunt is Special for Everyone By Jeffrey Lampe


lec Brown is a 9year-old from northwestern Missouri, and he's always dreamed of hunting giant deer with his father, Casey, and brother, 13-year-old Bryce. Many Missouri boys about Alec’s age consider their first buck hunt as one of life’s major events, and when it's successful, that brings some serious bragging rights at school. I’m happy to say I shared Alec’s very special first hunt. Actually, the experience exceeded my high expectations, and I consider it one of the greatest hunts I've been on. It's likely the hunt of a lifetime for Alec, but that's the rest of the story. After a spectacular turkey hunt in Florida, I had returned to my desk in central Missouri to open mail, and catch up on phone calls and e-mails. Good friend and hunting buddy Kevin Neal had left me an interesting message. He wanted to know if I could take a young man on his first deer hunt. Curious about why Kevin or the boy's father wouldn't do that, I returned the call. I learned that the young hunter had been diagnosed with one of the worst types of muscular dystrophy: Duchenne (pronounced doo-shane). He would likely die before age 12. Of course, I would take Alec hunting. 68

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Kevin and all the Brown boys assumed the hunt would be at my property near Columbia, Mo., but I wanted to make it a really special weekend event. The Bighorn Lodge is a 2,000-acre game ranch owned by the J.B. Hunt family, and it's one of the top whitetail destinations in the Midwest, with world-class facilities. Nestled in near Cassville in southwestern Missouri, the Bighorn was where I wanted Alec to experience his first hunt. I had recently begun working with Bryan Hunt on quality deer management for the ranch, so I asked for access to the ranch and its facilities for this special hunt. Thanks to the generosity of the Hunt family, I received permission. As I was arranging things, Casey “Dad” Brown took young Alec to the local range to learn to shoot his new gun. After great anticipation, Oct. 26 finally arrived. The boys had talked of little else the previous week and had not slept the night before. They arrived at the lodge, and the hunt was on. The boys ran through the wide hallway of the lodge, admiring the huge collection of trophies and two big-screen TVs at each end. Betty George had a fresh plate of warm cookies waiting, and the boys chowed down during their oohing and aahing. (Jim and Betty George work at the lodge and provided outstanding meals and service

throughout the weekend.) After a quick tour, we went to the world-class shooting range. Alec and Bryce fired a couple of rounds with perfect placement. Confident in their shooting abilities, I handed the boys their targets and decided we’d better fill out the paperwork for the next day’s hunt. Soon, however, I wondered if the hunt would happen. On our walk back from the shooting range, the boys noticed a red Mountaineer RTV in the garage. The boys would not let up on the vehicle for what seemed an eternity. “When are we going? When can we ride it? I wanna ride it!” They seemed to have lost all interest in hunting, but what young boys wouldn’t want an all-terrain go-kart ride? I agreed to take them after the morning hunt. After promises of rides, completion of paperwork and settling into suites, we had a decadent steak dinner. We sunk into the leather furniture, surrounded by trophies, and began telling hunting stories. After tucking in the boys, Casey returned, and the stories continued for a bit until the rest of us couldn’t stand it. We realized there would never be a good time to press him about his dying son, so I just asked. Casey is a former Army Ranger sergeant major, decorated with a Distinguished Service Cross. He has a skull plate and some bullet holes. His training and service, he explained, prepared him to control his destiny and protect others. Alec’s condition did not let him do either. In frustration, he asked how do you go into battle knowing you will be defeated and that your son will die. The next morning, we were up before the sun, expecting a spectacular hunt. Jim and Kevin took Bryce to a hunting blind, while Casey, Alec, cameraman Ken Hicks and I went to another ScentTite blind. We wanted everything to be perfect. I began to teach Alec how to use the grunt call and rattle bag. After mastering my short tutorial, Alec was ready to call in some deer. About every 10 minutes, Alec rattled and grunted through the window of the blind. Several young bucks and does visited the field, but no shooter bucks appeared. We ended the hunt with Alec more interested in getting back to the lodge and riding the RTV. The morning had turned cold and wet, and the ride

Alec, Casey and Jeff enjoyed the hunt of a lifetime. Alec, age 9 at the time of the hunt, has one of the worst types of muscular dystrophy: Duchenne. This didn’t prevent the young hunter from enjoying the great outdoors. Alec shot this beautiful buck that scored 144 inches!




2:15:40 PM

was a muddy adventure — perfect for most boys! The screaming and laughter in those 30 minutes stick in my mind like the mud on their faces. That afternoon, Alec insisted that his brother join us so Alec could show him how to call deer. Who were we to deny him a simple request just because five of us — one lugging a camera — would be jammed into a 5-by-8 blind? Further, we didn't explain that calling deer usually doesn’t include loud, excited whispers. When dusk settled, though, I had to intervene. Silence followed, and deer came out to feed on the Extreme food plot. With the pre-rut on, a giant buck chased a doe behind the blind, never offering us an opportunity to fire. Excited to try his new skills in front of Bryce, Alec stood, opened the window and began to call. He had not finished his first sequence when a large-bodied deer appeared at the edge of the brush. “There he is!” Alec exclaimed. I glassed it, and it was a beautiful, mature buck. We tried to get Alec into shooting position, but it proved difficult. Alec said, “I want Bryce to shoot him.” We were shocked, and Bryce was happy to oblige. I told Bryce that the buck wasn’t going to stick around, and that we were running out of light. We needed to shoot. Within a few seconds, Bryce shot the deer, which dropped almost immediately. Elated, we climbed from the blind, with Casey carrying Alec and Bryce following. I got the truck. When I approached the buck, the Brown boys had that “first-buck glow.” It’s one of my favorite sights, which is why I love to take people hunting. Bryce had shot a 13-point, 150-class buck. We went back to the lodge for another great dinner and more telling of stories. Bryce had his story, which was shared during and after dinner. The big-screen TV was not the biggest attraction that night. The next morning, two excited boys were more ready than ever to hit the field. It was at least 20 degrees cooler, and all the bundled-up hunters squeezed into the blind and cranked up the heater. The sun treated us to a great show at dawn, and there were several deer in the Extreme food plot. Alec decided to call in another buck. During his second attempt, I saw a big 8-pointer; the one I hoped would be Alec’s dream buck. I let everybody know it was a mature buck and definitely a shooter. Alec put down his call and readied his gun. The buck made his way around the large white oak in the middle of the food plot and into range. Alec shakily said he was ready to shoot. With his father coaching him, he squeezed the trigger, and the buck dropped at the edge of the food plot. Casey and I dragged the deer back into the food plot and returned to the stand for Alec. His condition made it incredibly difficult for him to walk through the plot to his trophy, so his father and I got on each side to hold his hands and help him. After falling three times, he made it to the buck and grabbed the perfectly symmetrical 144-inch rack. Emotions ran high as Alec admired the animal. We knew it was a first — and likely last — experience. Hopefully, Alec was thinking about what any other 9year-old would be after killing a great first buck. He would have bragging rights at school and now had his story to tell often to anyone who would listen. We loaded the buck into the back of the truck and headed for the skinning barn. On our way, we stopped to get the RTV. As we caped out the bucks, Alec and his brother drove around the barn. We listened to the sounds boys make while racing through mud and having the times of their lives. The hunt was complete. Every year, I try to take a first-timer on a hunt — preferably a young hunting hopeful, but some first-timer no matter their age. This hunt, however, was amazingly special. Any attempt to describe the importance of Alec’s first hunt can only sound trite compared to the reality of the experience. It was truly the hunt of a lifetime. W C









Vol. 17, No. 2 /




Comes Through for Tennessee Hunter By Chad Jones, with his brother, Ben


Ben Jones used two Secret Spot food plots near his treestand to bag this monster buck.


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

he weather was perfect for an early-fall evening bow-hunt. I had been sitting in my treestand for a couple of hours, imagining a deer walking into one of my shooting lanes. “If he just steps behind this tree, I can draw on him,” I thought. You have a lot of time to think when you’re sitting in a tree overlooking your food plots. Conditions were good, but I had not seen anything — except about one million squirrels. About 30 minutes before dusk, however, the woods lit up with action. I was 100 percent tuned in to the sounds around me. Do you know how you hear something and know it’s a deer? Just then, a doe came through, and she was obviously being pursued by a love-struck buck. A few minutes later, I saw a spike and a 4-pointer. The spike made his move on the doe but was rejected. The deer moved out of sight, and I started to sit back down in my stand. All of the sudden, I heard some leaves rustling behind me. There he was! My heart started beating out of my chest. I heard myself breathing and tried to close my mouth to muffle the sound. It was the biggest deer I’d ever seen in the woods, and he was coming right at me. To add to the drama, he had a companion—another buck slightly smaller, but still a monster. I was already standing, and I could feel my knees shaking. I tried to focus on staying still. I have two Secret Spot food plots planted close to my treestand, and I was praying the bucks would come to these. I tried to reel myself back in and focus on a possible shot. Still, I couldn’t get my legs to stop shaking, and then my hands started shaking as I held my Mathews bow. The bigger buck was moving toward my Secret Spot food plot, just as I imagined. I thought about getting ready to draw, but the deer was angled slightly away from me and could have busted my movement. Just then, I heard some noise in the woods behind me. I slowly turned my head to look back and saw another doe coming down the hill. “Not now!” I thought. The buck looked up to see the source of the noise, and I was sure he would see me. Luckily, he didn't seem bothered by the doe. He put his head back down to eat in the Secret Spot food plot, which let me draw my bow. One more step to the right, and I'd have a perfect shot. He took that step and squared up. At that moment, I felt rock solid. “Look at your sights, not the rack,” I thought I squeezed the trigger on my release and watched my arrow disappear behind his shoulder. What a rush! It was a perfect shot, and I was almost surprised I had made it. I knew then that I had him. Of course, the big buck ran down hill — a big hill. I sat down in my treestand so I didn’t pass out. I couldn’t believe what just happened. I wanted to get to the deer as soon as possible, but I knew I needed to wait a bit. I climbed down from my stand and walked back to the house to get my wife. I wanted her to be with me when I found the buck. That was the most incredible moment I've experienced in bowhunting. My wife and I walked down the hill, following a fantastic blood trail. The deer only made it about 100 yards. I can’t tell you how great I felt when I saw him there. I guess I don’t have to. I think you know what I mean. I started counting the points, just like they do on the hunting shows. I used to make fun of that. But at that moment, I just sat and stared at my buck. W www.whitetailinstitute.com


Customers do the talking about (Continued from page 29)

great success for three years. It has held up quite well and deer love it. I’ve enclosed a photo.

filmed 13 different bucks in the plots. Nine bucks at one time. What a difference a Whitetail Clover plot will make. My son Michael harvested a massive 9 pointer that’s antler mass at the base measured 6” around and 5” around between the G-2 and 3 points. See photo. Two words my son Michael and I could sum up about the Whitetail Institute (We Believe).

Alan Ludwig – Michigan Wow! What can I say… I planted my first Imperial Clover plot in the spring of 2001 and I have seen a big difference in the body size and antler size of the bucks on my grandmother’s farm. I have hunted on her farm since I was old enough to bow hunt and had never seen anything over

Anthony Franceschini – Virginia Every year the deer eat Imperial Whitetail Clover down to the ground and it keeps coming back. I see deer almost every day in greater numbers. This year I’ve seen much bigger bucks. One evening 12 deer (5 bucks/7 does) came out while I was on stand. I harvested the biggest buck with my bow (see attached). Thank you Whitetail Institute.

Imperial Whitetail Clover. I did the work with my Honda ATV and the step by step instructions from the Institute. Two months later, WOW! Can you say “worth every penny”. The Imperial Clover was 14” tall and very dense. I clipped it twice before fall and had a beautiful 10” plot when frost hit in September. I can honestly say I’ve never seen a food plot that was so aggressively utilized by the deer. The whitetails here absolutely love it, passing across the medium red clover to get to the Imperial. I had the best rifle season ever, seeing five 8 point bucks opening day. I think this is hands down the best, most attractive to whitetails food plot there is. Thank you Whitetail Institute. I’m also looking forward to trying Chicory PLUS in the nearby 2-acre plot next year.

Jeff Makowski – Wisconsin We took the time and planted the Imperial Whitetail Clover right and then it began to take over with growth. It’s our second planting in 5 years and the deer and turkeys love it. We’ve seen bigger bucks on the plot during the day and more deer in general. We used No-Plow in areas on log-

James Houck – Wisconsin Imperial Whitetail Clover was the first Whitetail Institute product I used. And I saw immediate results of more deer. I first planted PowerPlant two years ago. It got up to five feet tall this last year even with the drought. Deer love it, and so do the pheasants. Enclosed are photos of three bucks taken since using these products.

Mark Wagner – Louisiana

ging roads and other spots that only had small areas to plant. The No-Plow comes up quickly and last through the winter. Secret Spot is also great for even smaller areas. I’ve enclosed two pictures.

Ric Redden– Kentucky I have tried several different clover products but the deer and turkeys chose Imperial Whitetail Clover above all others. If I had one food plot choice to make it would be Imperial Whitetail Clover. I also have used Extreme with

Corey Syverson – Minnesota I’ve had food plots on my Northern Minnesota 80 acres for almost 10 years. My food plots (from 1/2 acre to 3 acres in size) have varied from soybeans and winter wheat to medium red clover and alfalfa. I’ve had good deer hunting most years and some respectable bucks. I was always skeptical with regards to Imperial Clover but in the summer of 2004 I decided to work up my one 3-acre plot and plant 72

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

a small eight point. Since 2001 I have seen and have trail pictures of bucks ten points or better. We not only see more deer but we also see more bigger deer, I always look forward to the new season because I know that there are some “big boys” running around. It’s a great feeling to know that the hard work that I have put into my food plot makes a big difference in the health and antler size of the deer on the farm. Thank you for such a great product! P.S. here is a picture of one of the bucks that I was able to get a picture of in my food plot. My plots are 3 years old. I see more deer feeding and they stay feeding longer. Before deer would just browse thru for a short time. Now deer stay and eat. Here is a photo of Jason Wagner with a buck he took the year after we planted Imperial Whitetail Clover.

Karl Dorshimer – Michigan This is my fourth summer using Imperial Whitetail Clover in Michigan. I live on 53 acres of woods next to state land and even on the nearby private land hunting pressure is intense. I and the neighbors all have taken bucks over the years but the racks and bodies were small. Most of the deer taken were 1-1/2 year old 4 to 6 pointers with occasional 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 year old eight pointer. The racks are mostly typical with a foot or less of spread and small points a couple inches long. The deer here have very small home ranges and don’t go far. I see the same deer www.whitetailinstitute.com

Institute products… all the time and get to know them real well. After hunting here since 1987 I was 100% convinced that we did not have the genetics to produce trophy racks. After I planted the Imperial Whitetail Clover I first noticed a lot of does feeding at dawn and dusk. I can observe the plot from my house and keep a close watch on it. I also added a corn feeder for use in cold weather and deep snow. I never saw a buck feeding during the day but at night I would shine a spotlight on the plot and see bucks feeding way out away from the house. Our bucks are almost 100% nocturnal from all the hunting pressure. They are rarely seen in daylight unless pushed by another hunter or following a doe in the rut. I saw a nice 8 point the first season but missed him with my shotgun. The next year I saw him again and my hunting buddy got a shot at him but missed too. Last year after opening week when things had quieted down I snuck into the woods and sat tight. It was getting dark and a buck came through following a doe and yearling. I made a great shot and when I walked up to him I recognized him as the 8 point but I was shocked by the size of his rack (20”) and body (240 lbs)!!! I was completely wrong that our genetics could not produce big bucks. My big buck was able to stay on my land and grow old due to the food sources, cover, water, does and a couple of missed shots. However old age alone did not grow my buck into a trophy. I and the neighbors have taken a few older bucks over the last 20 years but none had the antlers and body like mine. The Imperial Whitetail Clover held the does and this buck on my land and gave him the nutrition to grow a big body and a super rack. Thanks for helping me get my first “Wall Hanger” during my 30th deer hunting season.

Leon Bowman – Pennsylvania I am especially pleased with the Alfa-Rack because it seems to grow real well on our land and the deer love it. Since we clear cut our 20 acres of woodland and put in

to Imperial Whitetail Clover. Nothing attracts and holds the deer like Imperial. We have taken several bucks in the 140 class range and I harvested this 14 point non-typical that grossed 167.

Bruce Temple – Oklahoma I planted No-Plow in Central Oklahoma and it did real well. I have also used 30-06 Mineral. It draws the deer in. I have a hole 2 feet round 12 inches deep. Opening day of gun season I took my 9 year old son on his first buck hunt. Our hunt was over by 10 a.m. from out of nowhere a 19 point 165 2/8 buck was running right to our 30-06 spot. I stopped him at 50 yards and Austin shot. He went about 30 yards. Best day of hunting yet!

2003, after trying other clover products, I thought I would try planting 1/4 acre of Imperial Whitetail Clover in a field near an old farm house that we have converted into a shooting house for my wife to hunt out of. (She started rifle hunting 3 years ago when I first put the clover plot out and is really enjoying it. It’s great when your companion starts enjoying some of the same interests.) The shooting house turned out to be perfect place to take kids on there first hunts. My daughter and nephew both harvested there first deer there that fall. During the latter part of muzzleloader season I harvested a doe. In 2004, I increased the size of the clover plot to 1/2 acre. I then cleared 1/4 acre of timber in a funnel area near my home, planted Imperial Alfa-Rack and built a small shooting

David Beloin – Vermont house. We started seeing more deer. My nephew harvested an 8 point during youth season while hunting the clover. During rifle season, my daughter harvested a 7 point and my wife harvested her first deer a 5 point both in the AlfaRack plot. 2005 was just as good. Early bow season started with several sighting of smaller bucks & does. I harvested my biggest bow kill to date October 28th a nice 10 point in the clover plot. I tell teveryone food plots planted in Imperial products is the key to your success. Thanks for a great product. I’ve enclosed a few pictures. Who knows what we will see next year. W

your products, we are seeing more and larger deer. We have a total of 350 acres and plan to plant some smaller plots and trails in the future. I have included a picture of the deer my nephew shot this year and me holding what we believe to be the sheds of the same deer found last February in an Alfa-Rack field. By the way, the taxidermist green scored the buck at a gross score of 140.

Send Us Your Photos!

Neil Dusek – Texas My family and close friends have been leasing from 1000 to 2000 acres in East Texas for nearly 40 years. The fist 25 years the bucks that were taken averaged about 110lbs. field dressed. Since we began using Imperial Whitetail Clover in 1992 we have seen a significant increase in the body and antler size of the bucks we harvest, with field dressing in the 150-160 lb range. Over the years of using food plots, we have experimented with 2 or 3 other brands of clovers and legumes but have always gone back www.whitetailinstitute.com

Here is a picture of the biggest deer that I shot off my Imperial Whitetail Clover food plot. It was killed on a late season muzzleloader hunt. He was digging through the snow for the clover in Northern Vermont.

Do you have a photo and/or story of a big buck, or a small buck or doe that you took with the help of Imperial products? Send it to us and you might find it in the Field Tester section of the next issue of Whitetail News. Send your photo and a 3 to 4 paragraph story telling how you harvested the deer and the role our products played to:

Jeff Cruse – Missouri When I purchased my 78 acre farm, I wondered what I could do to increase the deer sightings on my place. I purchased seed from the local farm supply but had very little success holding deer. I was a little skeptical at first but in

Whitetail News Attn: Field Tester Response 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043

Vol. 17, No. 2 /



D E E R N U T R I T I O N N OT E S By Matt Harper, Institute Deer Nutrition Specialist

Cutting Edge Revisited: Supplement System Targets Nutrition Needs Season by Season

WHAT IS CUTTING EDGE? In simple terms, Cutting Edge nutritional supplements are designed for specific times. More accurately, they are designed for three specific physiological phases of a deer herd. During a year, the nutritional needs of deer change based on changes in their bodies. Beginning in late fall and winter, deer go into survival mode. In most parts of the country, food sources


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

In 1999, the Whitetail Institute unveiled a breakthrough in deer nutrition called Cutting Edge Nutrition Supplements. However, like many revolutionary products, it took time for people to really understand its significance.

are scarce, and deer exhibit a pseudo-hibernation characteristic as their food intake decreases and their metabolism slows. At this time, energy is the most crucial part of a deer’s diet. Protein needs are at their lowest, as are mineral and vitamin requirements. Deer need energy during late fall and winter to maintain body condition, but it's often in short supply. After the rut, bucks have expended significant amounts of fat reserves. Energy is crucial for them at this time so they can minimize body-weight loss. This is immediately important for survival and will affect antler growth the next spring. Antler growth is secondary to body condition, and a buck must regain lost weight in spring before more of the nutrients it consumes can go to antler growth. Does also require extra energy in late fall and winter because they are in gestation. That is, they're pregnant.

Pregnant does must support themselves and have enough quality nutrition to support one, two or even three fetuses. Fawns, sometimes called yearlings, are also vulnerable at this time. They are still growing and don't have the same fat-storing ability as mature deer. In fact, typically the highest winter-death losses are mature breeding bucks and first-year fawns. Deer can derive energy from several sources, but the most efficient are carbohydrates and fats or oils. In terms of deer nutrition, carbohydrates can be broken down into those derived from starch and those from fiber or cellulose. A common starch carbohydrate source is grain (corn). Although it's a good energy source, starch can be overdone in the diet of a ruminant and must be balanced with fiber- and fat-derived energy. Overly-high


Whitetail Institute


hen my wife and I got married, she was employed at a large engineering company that designed and produced equipment for the meat-processing industry. The owner, a stately older fellow, had an incredible mind for invention. He designed the first hot-dog making machine, and even today, more than 90 percent of hot dogs produced worldwide go through one of his machines. The hot-dog-making machine was not his only creation, and the company's corporate office was a kind of museum of the various items he had invented. My wife took me on a tour of the offices one day, and when we came to the museum area, I saw a machine that looked somewhat familiar. Noticing my interest, my wife said, “That's the treadmill he invented.” I read the date on the display, and it was far earlier than the treadmills that had appeared in popular culture. As the story goes, the man and his wife enjoyed walking, but that wasn't always an option during long Midwestern winters. So, he decided to build something on which they could walk inside. He did, but everyone who looked at the machine said, “Who would pay for a machine that you walk on inside? You don’t go anywhere when you walk. All you have to do is just go outside and walk.” Consequently, he never filed a patent, and the rest is history. My wife’s employer was simply ahead of his time. In 1999, the Whitetail Institute unveiled a breakthrough in deer nutrition called Cutting Edge Nutrition Supplements. Since then, tens of thousands of deer hunters and managers have used Cutting Edge and have seen the tremendous results it can produce. However, like many revolutionary products, it took time for people to really understand its significance. Cutting Edge is achieving greater and greater awareness. Cutting Edge was revolutionary because it was the first product line to address the changing nutritional needs of whitetails as they go through their yearly physiological cycle. Up until then, the only supplements available to consumers were spring and summer mineral products. Although these worked during the antlergrowing season, the rest of the year was unaddressed. Someone asked, “Why do deer back off mineral supplements in late fall and winter?” Much research determined one of the main answers: The nutritional needs of a deer herd change in late fall and winter. That discovery led to further investigation. Soon, researchers identified three distinct times when nutritional needs change significantly enough that a specific nutritional supplement is needed. From that came Cutting Edge Initiate, Cutting Edge Optimize and Cutting Edge Sustain.

starch levels can cause digestive problems, such as low pH in the rumen, which hampers microbial populations needed for proper rumen function. As winter winds down just before spring, there is a period called the pre-green-up. This is likely the most difficult time nutritionally for deer. As spring approaches, bucks begin to sprout new antler buds, and does enter their final stages of gestation. These physiological states spark a shift in nutritional needs. Protein needs increase, as do mineral and vitamin needs. At the same time, energy remains critical to maintain or regain body weight. Unfortunately, in most of the country, this period coincides with the least amount of quality food. All the hard mast has been eaten, along with any waste field grains. Most of the browse has also been consumed. Forages have not yet begun to regrow, leaving deer with a nutritional deficit. Nutritional stress at this time can stunt antler growth in the buck herd and cause pregnancy problems with does, such as reabsorbed or aborted fetuses. It can also cause lower birth weights in fawns. In spring and summer, deer can usually find adequate energy in forages and browse. Also, protein needs, although still very high, can be met through highprotein food plots. Minerals and vitamins, on the other hand, become increasingly important. Antlers are in peak growth, and along with protein, bucks need lots of vitamins and minerals to grow antlers. As mentioned, much of the protein needs can be met through food plots. But rarely are adequate minerals and vitamins available for optimal antler growth. At that time, does are lactating. Again, protein is vital, but so are minerals and vitamins. This is important for the doe and more important for the fawns she is

feeding. Research has shown that the faster a buck fawn grows and the heavier it is as a yearling, the larger its body and antler size will be at maturity. These areas are distinct, and each requires a specific nutritional supplement. No one supplement can fulfill the nutritional needs all year. That's where Cutting Edge comes in. Here's a description of each Cutting Edge product.

CUTTING EDGE SUSTAIN Sustain is a highly-concentrated nutritional supplement used in late fall and winter. It is composed of protein, buffering agents, minerals and vitamins, fiberdigesting aids, energy (fat and carbohydrates) and Devour, a taste- and scent-enhancing agent. Of these components, energy is of the highest concentration. The carbohydrates in Sustain are precisely balanced with fiber- and starch-derived carbohydrates. Oil and fat are major energy contributors. Although protein is not as critical in late fall and early winter, deer need a certain amount, so it's part of the formulation. The same is true for minerals and vitamins. The starchdigesting aids are designed to improve the rumen’s ability to digest all types of fiber, natural or supplemented. The buffer agents help maintain proper rumen pH and rumen microbial health, and Devour makes Sustain irresistible to deer. Sustain is not a complete feed, but a supplement. It's designed to supply lots of nutrients with small amounts of consumption. In other words, Sustain is similar to an energy bar.

CUTTING EDGE INITIATE Initiate is designed for late winter and early spring,


otherwise known as the pre-green-up period. It contains lots of protein and energy, as well as Devour, buffering agents and fiber-digesting aids. Initiate is similar to Sustain in terms of nutrients and ingredient function, but its protein levels are much higher: 20 percent. This increase in protein is needed for early antler growth and late-gestation fetal development. Though protein is high, energy is also high, as deer still need it for bodyweight maintenance and fetal growth. Mineral and vitamin levels are also higher in Initiate. Devour, buffering agents and fiber-digesting aids perform the same functions as in Sustain.

CUTTING EDGE OPTIMIZE Optimize is designed for spring and summer, during the height of antler growth and doe lactation. The need for supplemental minerals and vitamins comes to the forefront at this time. The need for supplemental energy decreases. Protein and energy requirements remain high, but the need for supplementation decreases, especially if deer have access to high-protein food plots. Minerals and vitamins become the emphasis of supplementation. Optimize contains all the macro minerals needed by deer to maximize production. These minerals are formulated in specific amounts and ratios, and from specific sources to ensure high digestibility. Also included are vital vitamins A, D and E. Finally, Devour is added for maximum attraction.

WHEN TO USE THE CUTTING EDGE PRODUCTS • Sustain: mid-fall through late winter • Initiate: Late winter until spring green-up • Optimize: spring green-up through mid-fall

Vol. 17, No. 2 /





SOIL TEST KITS Now available through the

Whitetail Institute

Soil testing is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the success of your plantings — of any kind. The Institute is pleased to now provide soil test kits and results for all Imperial products or any other type seeds. (Complete instructions and all related information will come with kits.) Test results include pH, phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Fertilizer and lime recommendations for maximum performance from your plantings will be provided. The average turnaround time is 24-48 hours after our lab receives the sample. The charge for the kit and results is $9.95. If ordered alone, add $2.00 shipping and handling for unlimited number of kits. If ordered with other Imperial products there is no shipping charge. Please send ______ soil test kits at $9.95 each. Add $2.00 shipping and handling for each order regardless of number of kits desired. (There is NO shipping charge if kit is ordered with other Imperial products.) Cost of kit includes test results.

SHIP TO: Name _________________________________________________________________ Address _______________________________________________________________ City _____________________________________ State ________Zip _____________ Phone _____________________Email _______________________________________ o Check or Money Order enclosed Payment: : Charge to: o MasterCard o Visa o Discover Credit Card # ______________________________________ Exp. Date ____________ Signature ______________________________________________________________

Mail to: Whitetail Institute • 239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043 or CALL TOLL FREE 1-800-688-3030


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

The Whitetail Institute is proud to offer the WHITETAIL AGING PLAQUE. This interesting plaque displays the jawbone and teeth of the critical first eight years of a deer’s life. The display measures 11 inches wide by 21 inches tall and is handmade of quality pine, sealed and protected with special lamination. The unique aging device is being used by the best deer biologists in America. It is fascinating to view and interesting enough to be displayed in your den, hunting lodge or camp. If you have serious management interest in the progress or decline of your deer herd, the WHITETAIL AGING PLAQUE is an invaluable management tool. After a few hunting seasons of aging deer using this technique, you will actually be able to determine fairly accurately the age of your deer on the hoof. Jawbones and teeth reproductions represent deer from 1-1/2 years to 8-1/2 years old. Remember, the only way to accurately age deer is by the wear on the deer’s teeth. Our WHITETAIL AGING PLAQUE shows you everything you need to know about these wear patterns and will help you make intelligent decisions about your deer management program. Every serious sportsman should have a WHITETAIL AGING PLAQUE. With it, you can determine the age of each deer harvested. With this knowledge you are on your way to developing a deer management program that will lead to bigger and better-quality deer.



+ $9.00 S/H

Call now at 1-800-688-3030 and order your WHITETAIL AGING PLAQUE for yourself or your hunting club.



t 73, Ralph Scalzo Sr. has been hunting the same property for years. His hunting land is an old hilltop dairy farm, with thin, rocky soil, in the Susquehanna highlands of central New York. Through the years, a few nice typical 8- and 10-pointers in the 18-inch-wide range have been taken there, but they were nothing like what would appear in Scalzo’s cross-hairs the morning of Nov. 21, 2006.

The Scalzos have owned the property since 1987. It’s about 100 acres, half of which is hardwoods and the rest brush and pines. After commuting between their residence and hunting land for eight years, the Scalzos made the property home in 1995. That let them spend more time working and developing the land for deer. During the past two years, they have made many improvements, such as planting trees and food plots. Along with hundreds of white cedars, the Scalzos have planted The Whitetail Institute of North America’s Imperial No-Plow with only ATVs and weed whackers. “We killed the vegetation with Roundup, added lime and fertilizer, dragged the area with the ATV and an old piece of chain link fence and spread the seed,” Scalzo said. “The rest was like magic. The plot grew and the deer came.” Scalzo’s favorite stand is a shooting tower at the end of a 10-acre swamp overlooking a No-plow plot. In December 2005, during the coldest day of the hunting season, Scalzo filled his freezer with a fat spike buck coming for an afternoon meal. The first week of New York’s 2006 regular firearms season found Scalzo diligently at his post. A little after 8 a.m., two does ran out of the swamp and through a field to the woods on to his right. A few seconds later, a deer trotted toward Scalzo. At first, he thought it was a decent buck. The deer allowed him just enough time for one shot as it followed the doe. Scalzo took a quick but confident aim and fired. The buck gave no indication it was hit, but Scalzo thought the shot had been true. Scalzo radioed his son, who was posted at the far end of the swamp overlooking a scrapeline and a couple of freshly rubbed pine trees. A search yielded no blood, but the younger Scalzo found the nontypical 11-pointer wedged between two boulders in a hedgerow about 100 yards from the shot. When he grabbed the antlers to move the deer, they were covered in pine pitch. “My first thought was, is this the ‘decent’ buck he shot at?’” Scalzo’s son said. “I felt the deer to make sure it was still warm.” The buck had a 22-1/2-inch inside spread with a double brow tine on the right and triple on the left. Its estimated age was 5-1/2 years. Word of the monster spread quickly through the rural community, and many lifelong hunters came to see it. They said they had never seen antlers like that in central New York. In 2007, Scalzo plans to acquire a 5-acre meadow next to his property. On the parcel, he plans to plant a 2-1/2-acre plot of the Whitetail Institute’s Imperial Extreme and experiment with a couple plots of Secret Spot too. W www.whitetailinstitute.com


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Vol. 17, No. 2 /





WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

Danny Wahl shot this buck that scored 164-4/8 gross Pope and Young inches. He credits his Imperial Whitetail Clover and Imperial Alfa-Rack food plots.


Danny Wahl


want to start by saying thanks to the Whitetail Institute for great products. I have been a Whitetail Institute customer for several years and have five food plots with mainly Imperial Whitetail Clover and Alfa-Rack in them.

The first year, we planted in the fall and saw more deer that season than we had ever seen before. Two bowhunters shot three bucks and two does over those food plots in one weekend. Since then, we have become more selective about what we shoot and have seen some real monsters. This past season, I was hunting in southwestern Illinois and sitting in a stand I call the Honey Hole because that’s what it is — a honey hole. I have only been able to hunt the stand five times in the past three years because of wind direction and lack of time in the woods, but during those five sits, I have taken three bucks. Two of those monster bucks won a contest at work. The bedding area is next to a creek with a trail that leads to my food plot, which is planted in Imperial Whitetail Clover. One day in November during the last hour, which I call happy hour, three does walked out of a bedding area and followed a trail angling away from me at about 80 yards. A couple of minutes later, another deer followed them. The tree canopy was a little heavy, and I couldn’t see the deer’s rack, but the posture gave him away as a buck. I quickly glassed him, and all I saw before he went behind some brush were antlers and mass. I thought it was a deer I had seen three days earlier: a 10-pointer with the spread just between his ear tips. If given the chance, I would shoot that deer. I grunted and called a few times and apparently, it was

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I was shaking so bad that the pictures from my digital camera turned out blurry. Did I mention I get buck fever? I’m sure glad I didn't see all that before I shot.

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working. The buck was heading for the trail that crossed the creek and offered me a 10-yard shot I put on a nice 8-pointer the previous year. I was pumped. But the buck didn’t read the script. After a while though, he offered a 30-yard shot to my left. After the shot, the buck took off and stopped 25 yards away, looking around as if to say, “What was that?” I thought I had missed. I started getting that sinking feeling when I saw him stagger. I started doing the bowhunter’s prayer: “Fall down. Please! Fall down!” Then he fell. I almost jumped out of the tree with excitement. But he stood up, and I thought I must have gutshot him. However, he only staggered and slid into the creek. I started packing my gear and climbed down to gather my scent canisters. I immediately found my arrow. I went to my pack and got my camera for a picture before it got dark and then walked to my deer. The first thing I saw was how massive his left main beam was. It had five points on the main beam, three large stickers at the base and another on the back side The buck had another pair of stickers on that side with five typical points, making him a typical 10-pointer with six nontypical points. I was shaking so bad that the pictures from my digital camera turned out blurry. Did I mention I get buck fever? I’m sure glad I didn't see all that before I shot. The buck field-dressed at 205 pounds and scored 1644/8 gross Pope and Young inches. I knew I was doing a fullbody mount of this deer. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

Vol. 17, No. 2 /



Imperial Winter-Greens and a

BIG WISCONSIN BUCK By Brad Rucks Photos by the Author


ave you noticed the power of a new food plot? From my observation, deer hit new plots harder than established plots. I cannot explain it except that whitetails are creatures of curiosity. I experienced firsthand the power of a new plot this past fall. Deer started checking out the plot as soon as the herbicide turned the vegetation brown. Then with each step of creating the food plot, more activity occurred. 80

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

I had decided to establish a new plot on the northwestern corner of the property so we would have a food source under our control. My neighbor has a 40-acre field in front of the plot, but he often harvests that field first because if we have a wet fall, it’s almost impossible to get the crops

off. I knew if the field were harvested early, deer activity would shift to another part of the property, where the prevailing autumn winds wouldn’t be kind. Right after I sprayed the vegetation for the first time, I hung a trail camera on what would be a new plot to see

Brad Rucks’ two main weapons last fall were Chicory Plus and Imperial Winter-Greens, two of the most recent introductions from the Whitetail Institute.


how many deer were using the property. As the vegetation began to die, the amount of deer activity increased. After my second application of herbicide, I had absolutely nothing growing, yet deer were constantly walking through the plot. To my surprise, there was a mature 4year-old supporting a main-frame 10-point rack with some “junk,� I call sticker points. I named him “Brow Tine� because he had the longest eye guards I had ever seen on a deer at my place. After the ground was worked up, even more bucks began to appear, including another mature 10-point. To say I was excited would be an understatement. It was late July when I planted a crop of Imperial Winter-Greens and Imperial Chicory Plus. I wanted to use the Winter-Greens as a cover to let the other seed get established, and even though we didn’t have a lot of rainfall, the seed took off. Soon after the seeds started sprouting, I caught Brow Tine on film during daylight for the first time. I estimated him to gross 155 to 160 inches. The archery season in Wisconsin starts early in September, and that buck was definitely using the new food source. Better, I knew he always visited the property in the morning. Every picture I had of him near or in the plot was from 4:30 to 5:54 a.m. I figured he was bedded directly south of the plot, where a thick cedar swamp started. I hung a stand early in August and just had to wait for the season and some north winds to arrive. The best-laid plans often go afoul, and this wouldn’t be any different. Bow season arrived with extremely warm weather. I had no chance to hunt Brow Tine opening weekend, and it seemed that was the case whenever I could hunt. In previous years, I probably would have become as scent-free as possible and took my chances, but knowing my batting average was 0, I stayed out. As the weekends passed, I had not caught the deer on film since early August, and I thought he had moved to a fall pattern. That was about to change. The second weekend in October, rubs started popping up around the plot, and one was promising. I’m six feet tall and 240 pounds, and the tree getting hit was as large as my thigh. I placed a camera over the rub with hopes of catching the maker in action. I switched out flash cards one morning before work, and as I was checking the card, there he was. He sure looked a lot bigger than in the last photo. I checked the weather for that Saturday, and it called for a north wind. Finally, I could take my chance. I remember waking up at 4 a.m. taking a shower and heading to the spot, which is only a few minutes away. After I was there, I put on my clothes and headed to the stand. I knew I had an hour of sitting in total darkness, but I had to beat him to the spot — or did I?

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Vol. 17, No. 2 /



Brad Rucks of Wisconsin shot this buck he called “Brow Tine” near his Imperial Winter-Greens food plot. The bruiser scored 166 Pope and Young.


Try a full “menu” of Whitetail Institute Products at one low price… and get a FREE 2-year subscription to “Whitetail News” and a FREE Video as well! Your Super Sampler Pak includes:



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Imperial Whitetail™ Clover — 1/2 acre planting (4 lbs.) Imperial ALFA-RACK™ PLUS — 1/4 acre planting (3.75 lbs.) Imperial EXTREME™ — 1/4 acre planting (5.6 lbs.) Imperial CHICORY PLUS™ — 1/2 acre planting (3.5 lbs.) Imperial N0-PLOW™ — 1/2 acre planting (9 lbs.) Imperial WINTER-GREENS™ — 1/2 acre planting (3 lbs.) Imperial 30-06™ Mineral — 1 lick (5 lbs) Imperial 30-06™ PLUS PROTEIN™ — 1 lick (5 lbs.) Cutting Edge™ INITIATE™ — 1 site (5 lbs.) Cutting Edge™ OPTIMIZE™ — 1 site (5 lbs.) Cutting Edge™ SUSTAIN™ — 1 site (5 lbs.)


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

• No partial orders can be accepted • No substitutions please • Orders filled on a first-come firstserved basis • Offer may be withdrawn without notice • Limited quantities available


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on how you can produce top quality deer on your hunting land.




Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043 FAX 334-286-9723


As black transformed into gray, I saw a mature buck headed my way. It wasn’t Brow Tine but another deer that frequented the area—a 3-year-old 8-pointer, with a G-2 that was bent downward like a drop time. That deer had a free

pass on my farm, so I elected to videotape him. As I moved forward to turn on my video camera, I heard an extremely loud grunt. It’s only the second time in my life I’ve heard that sound so loud.

Rucks had pictures of 26 bucks, five of which are three years old or older.

There, only 18 yards away, was Brow Tine. I immediately went into hunter mode — or should I say blunder mode? I forgot about the buck walking toward me, and in my haste to prepare for a shot, the other deer snorted and abruptly ran off. I got that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and watched in horror as Brow Tine lunged forward, taking a trail that angled directly in front of me. But after 10 yards, he stopped offering me the perfect shot. In an instant, the arrow was gone, and the two-blade Rage broadhead entered right behind the front shoulder. The deer bolted off, but after he was out of sight, I heard the telltale crack and dead silence. I quickly climbed down, gathered my gear and headed to the truck. After a quick 10-minute walk and drive home, I was at the front door. My son, age six, stood peeking out the front door. I had the trail-camera picture in my hand and gave him a thumbs-up signal. I heard him screaming in the house, “Dad shot the big 10! Dad shot the big 10!” Soon after, I had my three children helping me track the buck, and it didn’t take long to find him. The woods exploded with screams and hugs, and to this day I’m thankful none of my neighbors had picked that morning to hunt. There isn’t any doubt we made enough noise to make every deer in the county run for cover. Later that day, I gross-scored the deer at a bit more than 166 Pope and Young inches, which made him the largest buck ever taken on my property. Even though my tags were filled, I continued to run cameras in the area and got multiple photos of mature bucks in the new plot. I had pictures of 26 bucks, of which five were three years old or older. I also run cameras on my other plots, and even though others are larger or even in better areas, I got more photos of mature bucks from the new plot. Granted, not all things are equal, but you can bet I’ll be establishing another new food plot with Winter-Greens and Chicory PLUS on my property this season. W


for Imperial Whitetail® Clover, Chicory Plus™, Alfa-Rack™, Alfa-Rack PLUS™, Extreme™, Secret Spot™, No-Plow™ ,“Chic” Magnet™ and Pure Attraction™

Call for planting dates Do not plant in fall Aug 1 - Sept 1 Coastal: Sept 1 - Oct 15 Piedmont: Aug 15 - Oct 1 Mountain Valleys: Aug 1 - Sept 15 Aug 10 - Sept 30 Sept 1 - Nov 1 North: Aug 1 - Sept 15 South: Aug 15 - Oct 15 North: July 15 - Aug 20 South: July 20 - Aug 25 Aug 1 - Aug 31 Aug 1 - Sept 15 Sept 15 - Nov 15


North: Sept 5 - Nov 15 Central: Sept 15 - Nov 15 South: Sept 25 - Nov 15 North: Aug 25 - Oct 15 South: Sept 5 - Oct 30 North: Sept 5 - Oct 15 Coastal: Sept 15 - Nov 15 South: Sept 25 - Oct 15 Coastal: Sept 25 - Oct 15 Piedmont: Sept 1 - Oct 5 Mountain: Aug 25 - Oct 15 North: Sept 15 - Nov 15 Central: Sept 15 - Nov 25 South: Oct 5 - Nov 30 Aug 1 - Sept 1 Aug 20 - Sept 30

Vol. 17, No. 2 /



Set Solid

Goals to Increase Hunting Success By Scott Bestul


sat in a treestand tonight with little hope of seeing a deer. Though December is among my favorite months to find a great buck, this year is different. Here in Minnesota, the temps are mild, and the ground is bare. Whitetails — not just bucks — are in a post-rut funk, and without our usual snow and cold, their motivation to feed is near zero. 84

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

Still, I thought it was important to hunt today. Deer stands are where I always do my best thinking, and I’m ready to wrap my brain around a topic that’s been haunting me for some time now: What’s in store for next year? I should state up front that I’m a goal-setter. My wife, Shari, teases me that when I’m not actually deer hunting, I’m dreaming about it. But the truth is, I don’t fantasize much. I do a lot of reflecting, analyzing and planning. Like any deer hunter, I enjoy remembering past hunts and celebrating any good decisions I’ve made. But I spend much more time pondering choices that didn’t turn out well and then mapping a plan of action to correct them. Regardless of how enjoyable or successful a hunting season has been, I’m continually looking for ways to make next year even better. And the only concrete way I’ve found to make that happen is to set goals for myself.

GOAL-SETTING BASICS I first learned about goal-setting as an athlete, when I competed in high-school and collegiate track and crosscountry as a distance runner. Later, as I coached athletes on both levels, I came to learn the importance of setting and achieving goals. Invariably, I found the runners who were the most content — as well as successful — were those who had set clearly defined and attainable goals. These athletes had taken a hard, honest look at how they were performing, set a reasonable goal for improving and then charted a course of action to get there. Conversely, athletes without goals were typically a frustrated bunch who complained frequently about their performance. When I asked why they were unhappy, they’d often mumble something vague about “wanting to run better.” If I asked how they intended to achieve their success, they invariably had no answer, as if all they’d thought about was stardom but little about how they planned to get there. Unless I could get such an athlete to set some goals, they

rarely improved, and their dissatisfaction persisted. What does goal-setting have to do with deer hunting? Not much, I guess, if the hunter in question is content with every aspect of their pursuit. But I’m willing to bet a dozen arrows that most of us want to get better at what we do. Whether you’re a beginning deer hunter just learning the sport or a veteran looking to take his game to the next level, I’d wager there are things you’d like to improve. I’ve been deer hunting since 1972, and I can’t think of one season when I didn’t have higher hopes than the year I’d just completed. So eventually, drawing on my experience as a competitive runner, I began setting goals for myself. One year, I wanted to do nothing more than improve my understanding of terrain funnels. The next, I focused on shooting better under pressure. My new goal is to understand food plotting better. After a season of several failed attempts, I realized I needed to master soil preparation and planting techniques. This past summer, I wasted a lot of hard labor trying to grow seeds that were doomed from the start — not from any product failure, but because I was lazy or in a hurry. It won’t happen next year, I promise. Naturally, there are some deer hunters for whom goalsetting isn’t appropriate. Some of us hunt solely for relaxation, escape and the special solace that only the whitetail woods can supply. These people view hunting as the one place where they can get away from the competition, hard work and high expectations placed on them in other aspects of their lives. To them I say only “outstanding!” and wish them the best. But for many of us, hunting is a challenge, and the desire to improve is strong. Of course we enjoy and appreciate the unique and therapeutic value of the deer woods. But we also want to get better at what we do, whether it’s growing a better food plot, understanding deer behavior and movement, or simply shooting a bigger buck. I believe goal-setting is the most efficient means for getting there. With that in mind, here are some of things I’ve learned www.whitetailinstitute.com

about setting goals and how I apply those principles to deer hunting.

STEP 1: DEFINE GOALS The best goals are those that are easily defined. Set your goal in concrete language that can be clearly understood and simply measured. For example, an easily measured goal is to get within bow range of more bucks during a season. By keeping track of your in-range encounters in a

journal and comparing those numbers to those you logged the previous year, you can determine if you met your goal. Numbers don’t lie, and you can measure success or failure easily. Conversely, a poorly defined goal is vague and difficult to measure. Take, for example, a hypothetical goal to “become a good deer hunter.” Exactly what is meant by that statement? Seeing lots of deer? Seeing more bucks? Getting within shooting range of animals? Fooling a trophy? The list can go on forever. Concrete goals let you log your results and see progress. When we meet a goal, we experience success and become inspired to do more goal setting and improve further.

STEP 2: CLIMB THE LADDER In addition to being easily measured, the best goals are incremental. That means they start small and build on each other, like a series of steps. For example, if a hunter owns a tract of land and wants to improve the habitat or food sources for deer, it’s unlikely he can achieve all he wants in one season. So instead of aiming for a total makeover, a

better plan would be to pick one specific change for the first year — such as improving bedding cover — another specific change for the next season, a third plan for Year three and so on. Most of us don’t have the time or financial resources to accomplish all we want to in short order, which makes planning for a series of small successes during a long stretch a much more realistic — and satisfying — approach.

STEP 3: KEEP IT REAL One of the toughest aspects of goal-setting is dealing with reality. When I was coaching, I’d never discourage anyone from shooting for the stars, but I’d urge them to fly over a barn roof first. Setting a realistic goal requires that you take a hard look at your time, experience, personal skill and property, and then set an attainable goal. For example, I have a buddy who set a goal to shoot a 200-inch non-typical buck last fall. Obviously, that’s a tall order — if not a total impossibility — for most hunters in most areas of the United States. But my friend is an outstanding deer hunter

Scott Bestul

Goal-setting starts with dreaming.

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STEP 4: MAP THE COURSE After you’ve set your goals, it’s time to decide how to reach them. I call this step creating a road map, because reaching a goal is no different than traveling to a destination. You’ll get there more quickly with some directions. Of course, there are no handy atlases telling you how to figure out big bucks, grow better clover or shoot like a champ under pressure. So you’ll have to create and follow your own map to success. That isn’t easy, but just like setting your goals, I’ve found it’s best to keep the steps for reaching them as short and concrete as possible. One way I do this is to reflect on


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2


Goals need to be tailored to each situation: the area being hunted, the experience level of the hunter, the amount of time you have.

past failures, determine how I screwed up, and think of solid ways to correct my mistakes. For example, this past summer, I rushed to put in a brassica food plot and decided I didn’t need to fertilize the field. The crop suffered, and within a month, I realized my mistake. So one of my goals for this year is as simple as taking the time to soil test and follow with lime and fertilizer recommendations. It’s nothing earth-shattering, I’ll admit, but it’s a simple, concrete and easily followed goal toward better food plots. In the past, I’ve written steps as simple as, “Spend two days per week spring scouting,” “Get aerial photos of all hunting properties and study them,” or, “Spend one day per week this summer at a 3-D shooting range.” These small, simple steps comprise the sweat equity that will help you achieve your larger, loftier goals. Remember, dreaming about where you want to go minus a plan of action is just that: dreaming.

Scott Bestul

with about 40 Pope & Young-class bucks to his credit. He is also the lucky owner of a big chunk of ground in southern Iowa and has a job that lets him hunt almost every day of the season. Finally, Steve had spotted not one but three bucks during his summer glassing sessions that would flirt with that rarified Boone & Crockett score. My buddy proved he had set a reasonable goal in mid-October, when he shot a huge buck that grossed 214 inches non-typical. In contrast, my cousin Scott is an equally talented deer hunter who has access to a sizable chunk of Wisconsin property. However, he has much less lofty goals than Steve. As a building contractor, Scott cannot shut down work for three months every year, which forces him into hunting mostly on weekends. In addition, the property Scott hunts is not as prime as Steve’s Iowa real estate. Whitetail body weights and antler growth are limited by poorer nutrition, and the property is hunted by other relatives, which means bucks receive more pressure. Consequently, Scott is content with shooting a solid P&Y-class buck every couple of years. Holding out for a beast that doesn’t exist would be a fool’s game, and expecting to kill a trophy buck in a pressured area, with limited hunting time, would likely cause my cousin nothing more than frustration.

At some point, you’ll need to sit down and assess your progress. As I noted earlier, I like to do this toward the end of the season, when I’m still excited about deer, but the triumphs and failures of the past year are still fresh in my mind. Which of my goals did I meet and why? I enjoy this process immensely, as it gives me a chance to recall those wonderful moments when everything came together and I met a goal, whether it was as simple as hanging a tree stand in the right spot or as important as getting a good friend an encounter with the best buck he’d ever seen. And what of the failures? It sounds weird, but sometimes, I enjoy thinking about them even more than my tooshort highlight reel. For me, deer hunting is all about fun, so even when I screw up, it’s not the end of the world. I’ve always enjoyed a challenge and there are few things more rewarding than taking a hard look at things I’ve done wrong, then deciding on the steps I need to take to correct them. In some strange way, I treasure my failures, as they give me one more reason to look forward to the next fall, when I’ll get the chance to become a little bit better at growing, managing and hunting whitetail deer.

FINAL THOUGHTS Only three weeks of deer season remain as I write this. To be honest, I have little chance of killing a great buck unless we get the right weather, which doesn’t seem likely. Still, I’ll relish every chance I get to sit in a treestand, staring hopefully at a trail and praying one of the big bucks I’m hunting will walk down it. But while I’m waiting, I’ll bide time by reflecting on the weeks that have slipped by me and making big plans for next year. Goal-setting should help me accomplish some of my dreams, and I think it can help any serious deer hunter willing to give it a try. W


Imperial Clover and 30-06 Mineral Supplements… are the Perfect Combo in Ohio By Richard Randall


his was a great year of hunting for my family, especially on our farm. My wife, Krissy, and I decided to make a few changes to her stand placements. The previous year, she had been taking care of our newborn son, Hunter, so we had to make some changes to get her back hunting. We noticed the paths deer took to and from feeding areas had usually been out of shooting range during previous years, so we set up a ladder stand in the funnel along the route. Of course, I had to check it for myself. I hunted the stand opening weekend and saw plenty of activity when 20 deer fed in an Imperial Clover field. The morning of Oct. 29, 2006, I decided to hunt the ladder stand because it was close. Plus, Krissy said she had seen a large buck chasing a doe there a few days earlier. Thirty minutes after settling into the stand, I saw a monster deer walking up the edge of our hayfield and woods, coming from the direction of the Imperial Whitetail Clover plot. He was hammering trees with his rack as he headed toward me. The buck turned onto a trail heading into the woods 80 yards away, and I blew two contact grunts. The deer turned 180 degrees and resumed heading at me. The buck’s rack seemed to get larger as he got closer, and I noticed a big forked brow tine on the right. He stopped, facing me at 10 yards, and was looking right at me. The buck knew something was up, but he just couldn’t quite figure out what. I remember thinking, “He’s onto me,” and I thought it might not happen. Then, the buck turned and

walked out to 22 yards. He was quartering away slightly and put his head down for just a second. That was my opportunity, and I knew I wouldn’t get another. I rose up and drew at the same time. After I saw the pin on the buck’s chest, I let the arrow fly and watched it hit the deer’s vitals. The big whitetail bucked like a wild horse, ran off from where he’d come and then fell. He had only traveled 80 yards before dying. When I believed he was down for good, I ran to the house and told my wife and oldest son. They were as excited as I was. Then, I called my buddies Tyler, Paul and Big Mike for help. After Tyler got there, we went back. When I walked up on the deer, I noticed the forked brow tines on both sides, kickers off the base, mass throughout the tines and the makings of drop tines on each main beam. Letting the buck live another year would have been interesting, but who could pass up this animal? He greenscored in the 150s, without the inside spread, with 15 scoreable points. He weighed 215 pounds. The deer was the third Pope & Young buck taken in four years of hunting using Whitetail Institute products. The next weekend, Krissy shot a buck with her bow at 35 yards, and neighboring hunters saw it. They claimed it was as big as the one I had shot a week earlier. Unfortunately, we couldn’t recover the big buck after several miles of tracking. Still, it was P&Y quality. The most rewarding part of fall was hunting with my son, Alex. The previous year, during the youth gun season, Alex shot a little 5-or 6-pointer, which we never recovered.

He kept trying. If anything else, hunting teaches perseverance. In 2006, Alex was ready to go. We hunted a condo stand on a one-acre Imperial Clover plot. During the second day of the youth gun-hunt, he missed a doe at 45 yards twice with his .410. He smiled and said, “At least I’m seeing deer and getting to shoot. That’s more than a lot of kids get.” We decided to try it one more time during the regular gun season. On opening morning, Nov. 27, we saw 13 deer, but all were out of range. Then, an 8-pointer stepped into the food plot where the doe Alex missed a week earlier had been. I told Alex to make the shot count. He did, and the buck dropped in its tracks. Alex put his hand in the air and yelled, “Yes, he’s down.” The buck was far better than any of my first bucks. We try to let young bucks walk, but a buck of that size for a 6-year-old is a trophy. Alex’s buck weighed 175 pounds dressed. Needless to say, planting Imperial Clover and providing 30-06 Plus Protein Mineral Supplement is making our herd healthier and bigger. 2006 proved to be one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences of my 24 years of hunting. I took another P&Y buck. My wife connected with a bruiser, although it wasn’t recovered, and that built her confidence. Best of all, Alex now has hunting fever more than ever, having killed his first deer. With our youngest son, Hunter, growing quickly, maybe he will soon follow in his big brother’s shoes. W

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2 3 9 W h i t e t a i l Tr a i l


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THE FINAL GIFT The child's best friend and hunting partner was his grandfather. And he knew of no more fitting a tribute to the Old Man than ...

It was opening morning and pitch dark when the two left the house, and the rim of the far mountain now showed a tinge of orange; a perfect start to another buck season. A bonus was the shallow layer of snow that had fallen during the night. With a good 200 yards left, the Old Man continued his ascent to yet another stand that had produced bucks and does through the years. Colton had insisted that he wanted to relinquish the lower stand to his grandfather, but the Old Man refused, even though it was the best stand on the property; the same stand from which he’d shot numerous bucks. The kid had tagged a doe there just after his 12th birthday but hadn’t yet centered his scope on a buck. In fact, he hadn’t seen a buck in the woods during the past three seasons, and anticipation was high as the kid tightly gripped the scoped Remington .32 pump-gun he'd received from his granddad the previous Christmas. The Old Man lingered a bit longer than he’d planned, but age was taking its toll, and the previous summer’s heart surgery had set him back even more. Though he was reluctant to admit it to anyone, he knew this might be his last season in the deer woods. At the very least, he’d no longer be able to make the long climb to the mountaintop stand on the high point of his 250-acre farm. But his biggest hope was to be with Colton when the kid downed his first buck. And the Old Man had a plan. “Maybe today,” he muttered as he continued his climb. “Yup, maybe today.”

THE OUTPOST Colton hadn’t really wanted his grandfather to climb to the “Outpost” — a fat, sprawling oak atop the ridge where the Old Man had taken him when he was old enough to walk. That’s what they named it one golden autumn day nearly a decade earlier. “The Outpost. I like that.” the Old Man told Colton. “That’s what it will be.” And so it was.

They had sat there and watched deer, foxes, squirrels, hawks, songbirds and anything else that happened to roam or fly by. It was also the place they visited after Colton’s parents had been killed in an automobile accident soon after he turned 6; a disaster that ripped the soul of the Old Man. He’d tried to explain death and other of life’s realities, but the kid was too young to comprehend. Then again, the Old Man figured, no one really understands or accepts death until later in life. Most of the Old Man’s buddies were dead or sitting in a nursing home, and he understood and begrudgingly refused to accept the inevitable. His farm and mountain land had always been his first love. “Never gonna put me in one of those danged prisons,” he sternly warned his wife, Josie, a couple of years before, after a visit with a friend confined to a nearby nursing facility. “You’d have to tie me up and drag me.” He’d mellowed a bit since that time, mainly because of Colton’s presence in the household. The Old Man and his wife had taken the responsibility of caring for the youngster nine years earlier, ignoring the protests of his uncle, a New York city accountant, who wanted to adopt him. “You can come out to the farm to see him anytime you want,” was the Old Man’s final word. “But he sure as hell ain’t gonna grow up in no city.” And he didn’t.

COUNTRY LESSONS All things considered, everything had worked out well. Colton was a high school baseball ace, president of the sophomore student council and well-liked and respected by his friends. At home the Old Man required that he take some responsibility around the farm. The bonus was that when the chores were done he could fish and hunt as much as he wanted. The farmland also held a trout stream and a muskrat and duck swamp along with a couple hundred acres of fields and woodland inhabited by everything from grouse to groundhogs. And deer. Lots of deer; which was reason enough for

By Tom Fegely


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

Brad Herndon


he Old Man paused at the rim of the hill to catch his breath and rest his weary legs on a fallen poplar, gazing back to the snow-whitened hollow where, minutes earlier, he’d left his grandson Colton.


some newfound excitement on this cherished buck season debut.

every year for the past 30 or more. He knew the deer might make a turn and show up in Ben’s sights. Another 10 minutes passed as the Old Man grew restless.

THE OLD MAN’S PLAN COLTON’S HOPE The Old Man arrived at his post well after first light, and then nestled against the familiar tree where he’d spent many pleasant, and sometimes lonely, hours. Fifty yards out front, a well-beaten deer trail meandered over the rim of a hill into a clump of hemlocks, through a small stand of pole beech and down the slope he'd just traipsed. Some 150 or so yards downhill, it straddled a bench and then wound directly to the old hemlock where Colton was seated. The Old Man had it all worked out. He knew from many years of hunting here that the trail would bring at least one buck onto the hillside before noon. No matter if it was pushed off the far mountain by other hunters or came up from the swamp and cornfields below, it would probably pass within his grandson’s sights. Below the ridge, Colton tensed his shoulders and inched his neck into the collar of his new orange-camouflage hunting coat. It was chilly on the shady side of the hill, and he wouldn’t get relief from the sun for another hour or so. Colton chuckled as he zipped up his new coat, thinking about the day he first showed it to the Old Man, who had laughed loudly when the kid brought it home; bought with savings from his wood-cutting chores. “Orange and camouflage, huh?” he’d exclaimed, holding the garment at arm’s length for a once-over. “So you think a deer’s not gonna see you in this thing?” Like his hunting cronies, the Old Man had cursed the mandatory wear of fluorescent when it became law. But several seasons earlier, his cousin’s son, wearing only an Army coat and brown pants, had been shot. He wasn’t hurt badly; only a bit of flesh was taken from his leg. But another few inches, and it could have been fatal. Now the Old Man wasn't as adamant about wearing his all-orange vest, although he still didn't like it. But he failed to comprehend the fashion or function of the kid’s strangelooking garment, and the relentless teasing bounced back and forth between the two well into fall.

SEASON’S FIRST SIGHTINGS It was nearly 8 a.m. when the Old Man saw the morning’s first deer. Shots on the far mountain an hour earlier had signaled the beginning of the hunt, and he knew the deer would gradually work their way across the old gravel road through Nick's Valley, along Brewer’s Brook and up the hill to where he was sitting. Now they were here, cautiously working through the thicket in front of the Old Man. He froze, pressing his back against the oak and moving only his eyes to count the six forms stepping single file through the pole timber and across a narrow clearing, which was the remnant of an old skid trail. Clearly, the first five deer were does, but the sixth lingered cautiously, waiting for the leaders to cross the opening before it rejoined them. The Old Man’s rebuilt heart beat swiftly as he slowly placed the cross-hairs of his 4-power scope on the tightracked 9-pointer, which he’d seen grazing in the cut corn a few days earlier. The buck cautiously stepped into the opening, paused next to a fallen tree and gazed at the Old Man, who stood stone still. It then dropped its head and sniffed the trail of the does, which had already moved off the bench and down into the ravine. The Old Man waited, not blinking an eye, as the buck quietly disappeared over the ridge. Now it was but a matter of time — a few minutes — for the pieces of the plan to fall into place. “Should be there soon,” he thought after five minutes, impatiently glancing at his watch. “Just hope they didn’t break off and go into Ben Freeman's swamp.” Ben was a lifelong neighbor; a fellow farmer and hunter. The Old Man knew he’d be sitting on his favorite stump in the hollow, probably puffing on his old pipe just as he’d done www.whitetailinstitute.com

Colton was restless, too. He’d seen the does at daybreak and three or more a brief while later. None of them were spooked, as no other hunters were on the Old Man’s property, and the wind was in the kid’s face. They had moved by slowly, pausing occasionally to nip a bud or scratch an acorn from the snow. He’d scoped them all but couldn’t find as much as a spike. Now things began to get interesting. The youngster glimpsed the five does slowly feeding down the trail and noted that the largest deer regularly looked back uphill toward the thicket they’d passed through. The puzzling thought of his granddad not shooting from his spot on the Outpost rushed through the kid’s mind, but the flick of a tail brought attention back to the moment. “If one’s looking back you can bet something’s following,” the Old Man had advised the kid one afternoon many years before as they sat at The Outpost watching whitetails. “Never move too early. Sit tight and be patient, and it will pay off. Don’t get trigger happy now.” The kid hadn’t forgotten. Colton had thought seriously about demanding that his grandfather stay at the lower stand and not go to the Outpost. But the Old Man took pride in his independence, and he wasn’t about to change plans he’d been setting for the past couple of months. Colton recalled how the Old Man had resisted having the heart operation, became cranky and insolent during his recovery period during summer, fighting his wife’s edict that he sell the cows. When Ben offered to buy them, he cheered up. “At least they’ll stay in the neighborhood,” the Old Man had joked, smiling at the prospect of not having to sell his small herd to a stranger. At least twice a week, the Old Man took the rusty pickup truck down the dirt road that connected the two farms and helped Ben with the morning milking. It was his way of hanging on to a life he’d loved. Deer hunting was another way of clinging to his youthfulness, although Colton knew that the old-timer's deer hunting time was slowly drawing to a close. His doctor had told him not to go overdo things and certainly wouldn’t have approved of his hike to the top of the steep hill — a path he'd followed countless times through the years. But Doc was an old friend and die-hard hunter, too, and he knew his advice would fall on deaf ears. And it did.

THE FINAL GIFT Colton’s pulse jumped and pounded in his temples as a buck suddenly stepped from a dip that had hidden its downhill movement. It was still about 80 yards off, but he could see the antlers — five points on the right and four on the left — clearly through the scope. He counted them twice, knowing that this was the buck his grandfather had told him about. Colton’s shoulders began to quiver, and he could feel a nervous twitch reaching through his hands. “Stay calm,” he thought. “This is no time to fall apart.” The kid knew it was too soon to shoot, but he also knew he couldn’t let the big buck move any farther down the slope. He waited another few seconds, finally getting a clear view of the big corn-fed whitetail as it dropped its head to nibble grass next to a black stump. The kid squinted through the scope, centered the cross-hairs where he wanted them, and slowly squeezed the trigger. The shot shattered the morning stillness, echoing off the mountains and finally rolling away to the south. It was the sound the Old Man had been waiting to hear. The woods filled with white flags; three of them break-

ing off toward Freeman's woods and another trio retracing its steps to the top of the hill. Quickly, belying his age and arthritis-stiffened legs, the Old Man stood and hobbled to the overlook, where he hoped to see his grandson walking toward a fallen deer. He’d not yet reached the vantage point when movement off to the right caught his eye. Three deer, including the same buck he’d seen earlier, were coming back up the slope. “Damn!” he said aloud. “He missed.” Knowing the frightened deer wouldn’t again go back down the hill, the Old Man raised his Winchester .30-.30, centered the moving deer in his sights and fired. The buck dropped in his tracks. Colton and the Old Man arrived at the fallen deer about the same time. “Nice going Grandpa!” the kid shouted. “Still haven’t lost your shooting eye, have you?” Colton went on to explain that he’d been too hasty with his shot, and it had hit a rotted stump in the line of fire. He’d seen the bits of wood explode into the air, some actually bouncing off the buck. Fortunately, the deer had run back up the hill to the Old Man. “Well, at least one of us got him,” the Old Man muttered matter-of-factly. But Colton could see the pride his grandfather still showed in his hunting and shooting prowess, especially at taking the handsome buck that rivaled only two other trophies he’d taken in his life. Colton insisted on field-dressing the deer and dragging it to the bottom of the hill, while the Old Man walked ahead to get the pickup truck. Later, they met at the head of the swamp for the victory ride back to the farmhouse. “Maybe you oughta get rid of that scope,” the Old Man teased at the supper table that night. “Better yet, give away that funny looking coat. You probably scared the daylights out of that buck when he saw it.” Colton only smiled and shook his head.

THE MAGIC OF MEMORIES The next weekend, the youngster cleaned the skull plate, polished the antlers to the very tip of each of the nine tines, and hung it above the fireplace on a plaque he’d made in the school shop. Colton again went through the season without getting a buck but later added to the venison in the freezer with a fat doe. The family ate well that winter, and the memorable hunt was analyzed many times as the Old Man and the kid sat by the fireplace in the kitchen. Usually, the discussion started when the kid or the Old Man would look up from the table and gaze at the rack on the wall. The Old Man died the next spring while Colton was in school. The kid knew what had happened as soon as the teacher told him to take his books and report to the office. A few weeks earlier, the Old Man had again been admitted to the hospital, but that time, his condition didn’t improve. Colton stopped by every day and talked about school, hunting and the flock of gobblers roosting in the pines. It had comforted the Old Man to know he’d instilled outdoor values in his grandson, and he looked forward to the times Colton would stop by to talk. On a mild January afternoon, Colton worked his way up the hill to The Outpost. He sat for a long time, alone with memories about his best friend who was father and grandfather. He would miss him, sure. As sunlight slipped from the hollow, the kid zipped his camo-orange jacket and stood. He had one more stop to make before heading home. The woods looked much different in spring than it had during deer season. But Colton had no trouble finding the shattered stump; the ragged hole in its center still showing where his well-placed shot had done what it was supposed to do. “There’ll be plenty more for me,” he whispered as he gazed into the late-day sky. “That one was yours, Grampa.W Vol. 17, No. 2 /



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Mail To: Whitetail Institute of North America • 239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043 Or Call Toll Free: 1-800-688-3030 • Fax Orders To: (334) 286-9723

The Future Of Our Sport

Justin Martin — Alabama We stay on the road hunting deer all season for our show Flextone Reality Check TV. However, the most fun I had all year was taking my Mother, Sonya Martin, on a hunt here in south Alabama. I had planted Whitetail Institute NoPlow in a strip I had cleared in thick cover. The food plot was so lush that it attracted the deer like a magnet. It sure worked to bring out this old doe. My Mother made a great shot and took her first deer. We were so excited and it made it even better that we had it all on film for the show. Thanks Whitetail Institute.

William Zacierka — Maryland Your 30-06 Plus Protein has been working great. Better antler growth and more fawns. The No-Plow has done well for us too. My friend was hunting turkey this morning and had 9 bucks and two does parade around him. This has been the most bucks he has ever seen at one time. This past season my 12 year old daughter, Anna Bella took her first buck — a nice 7 point. Three total bucks were taken off the property this season and our herd continues to improve. Thanks again for your great products.

Anthony Bavaro — New Jersey My son, AJ Bavaro turned 13 last November and got a great birthday present when he shot his first whitetail. He had made good grades at school and made a deal with his dad that if he passed his safety course for shotgun and made honor role at school that dad would buy him a new shotgun. He didn't waste time and quickly accomplished both. In late summer, AJ and younger brother Mike helped their dad plant an acre of Whitetail Extreme on their NJ property. Just inside the oaks next to the plot they hung a two-man ladder stand. On his first hunt, a nice shooter six pointer came in, but didn't present a clear shot, so AJ remained calm and passed on the shot. A few days later, AJ and his dad climbed back up and waited. Around dusk, a healthy spike came into view headed for the plot. Several 92

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 2

opportunities presented themselves, but AJ felt he could get a better shot if he waited. A short while later, the buck reappeared and presented a broadside shot a 50 yards. A single shot from AJ's 20 gauge rifled slug hit both lungs. The animal ran 50 yards into the woods and piled up. AJ is on cloud nine and so am I. Now he can't get enough time in the woods, and is addicted to backstraps. He's pictured here with Mikey, the next upcoming hunter in the family. We can’t wait for next year’s fun.

Tim Morris — Ohio God may not have blessed me with a son, but Whitetail Institute has provided me with a hunting partner for life. My 11 year old daughter, Cheyenne. My father and I have used Whitetail Institute products since 1993. Alfa-Rack at first and Whitetail Clover in 1998. Our results were immediate seeing more and bigger deer. Our problem was a food plot only accessible by 4-wheeler or foot. The Ph balance was killing us. In the spring of 2005 we decided to plant Extreme. WOW! What a difference. The ground preparation was less than ideal but the best we could do. The Extreme grew quick and full. The deer and turkey eat in the food plot to where it looks like a manicured lawn. This 10 point buck walked in at noon opening day. Prior to that we had watched two-4 points, one large 6 point, one small 8 point, many does and turkeys. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Cheyenne’s smile tells the rest. Not bad for a beginner.

plots, and two 30-06 mineral sites and the bucks are getting huge! I haven’t had the opportunity to harvest one of these brutes yet, but hopefully in the near future. Enclosed is a picture of my step-sons first deer, a nice size doe and also a turkey. The turkeys love the food plots too. Thanks for the great products and making our hunting more memorable.

Greg Jeffers — Tennessee Noticed a huge difference in the amount of deer we see since planting Imperial Whitetail Clover bigger, healthier deer. Deer always end up in the clover. En-

Durrell Prahl — Wisconsin When I moved to this 80 acre farm in 1997, the hunting wasn’t the greatest. I didn’t see many deer and what I did see small were spikes, forks and the occasional six-pointer. After doing some research and reading articles in magazines, I decided to plant a food plot using I m p e r i a l Whitetail Clover. Almost immediately I saw more deer, though they were still small. A year later I added 30-06 minerals and started seeing even more deer and they were bigger. Now I have four food

closed are two bucks my children got in one of our food plots. Jessica age 16 with her first buck. And Caleb age 7 with his first buck. W

Send Us Your Photos! Do you have a photo of a relative or friend who killed his 1st deer? If you do, send it to us with a 3-5 paragraph story about the hunt and the emotions involved with the hunter and mentor. You may find it in an upcoming issue of “Whitetail News.” Readers of the “Whitetail News” love these stories. Send them to:

Whitetail News, Attn: First Deer 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043




y name is Al Moore, aka Almoe. I’m 50 years old and I live in Bayou George just outside of Panama City, Fla. I moved to this area three years ago. Last year my friend, Bud, and I decided to start hunting again with poor results: one doe. This season I joined the Cat Creek Sportsman Association in Calhoun County and was determined to have a better hunting season. I read the Whitetail News, practiced shooting and listened to a lot of the locals who have been hunting this area all of their lives. I moved my spot into the pines, built a condo and planted a food plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover and Chicory Plus. I also planted a food plot in Imperial No-Plow at the end of the pines. All of the seeds grew well. I will plant my entire plot next spring with one of the two of them, probably Chicory Plus. I also put trail cameras out. All the pictures from the camera showed lots of does, black bears and turkeys every day, but no bucks. Everyone said be patient, if you got does the bucks will be there. On the opening day of archery season I sat all day but didn’t see any bucks. At 5 p.m. a nice-size doe came out into the food plot and, while eating, walked a straight line to me. Every time she put her head down for another bite, I would make another move to get ready. When she was about 30 yards out, she put her head down for another bite. I drew my bow back, but that was a mistake because she was facing right at me, and I didn’t have a good shot. She continued to walk straight at me for another 10 yards. I have a mechanical artificial heart valve, and when it is quiet you can hear it tick. It was so loud I thought she was


going to hear it, and my arms were starting to get tired. But just then she turned to the right and I put the arrow right into her heart. She only ran about 20 yards and dropped. That was my first Florida deer with a bow. As the sea-

son went on I saw doe after doe and even had the same five hen turkeys coming in to feed almost every day. I didn’t want to take another doe because I was told they will bring in the bucks. It was a cold morning on Dec. 27, 2006 when I got in the stand at 5:15 a.m. I sat all morning and saw two does. At 10:30 a.m. I started packing up my gear to head for home. I picked up my thermos and noticed I had a cup of coffee left. Rather than leave in a hurry, I poured a cup, and as I sipped it, I looked out the corner of my eye. There at the end of the food plot stood a buck. The big buck was with two does about 110 yards from my stand. I raised my .308 rifle and took a look. I stopped counting at six points and waited. I was hoping the buck would come in a little closer, but he was trying to get frisky with one of the does. Luckily, she wanted nothing to do with him; all she wanted to do was eat. I put the crosshairs on the buck and shot. The buck dropped in his tracks. That’s when “Buck Fever” kicked in. I was so excited that I was shaking. You should have heard my heart valve ticking then. My friends at the hunting club were right when they told me to be patient when hunting big bucks. After a few minutes and multiple cell phone calls to all my friends, I walked out to the buck and that’s when I noticed not only was it an 8-point, but one heck of an 8point. It weighed 175 pounds with a Boone and Crocket measurement of 118-6/8. This was my first Florida buck. I can’t wait to hunt my food plots next year. W

Al Moore proudly displays his first Florida buck he shot while using Chicory Plus, Imperial Clover and Imperial No-Plow.

Vol. 17, No. 2 /



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Whitetail News Vol. 17.2  

Whitetail News Volume 17 issue 2

Whitetail News Vol. 17.2  

Whitetail News Volume 17 issue 2