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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

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What Whitetails Love to Eat Page 8

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Vol. 18, No. 3 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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

Soil Tests Save Money and Time

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. National Sales Manager ..................................Mark Trudeau Wildlife Biologist...................................................Justin Moore Director of Special Projects ..............................Jon Cooner Whitetail News Senior Editor ...................Bart Landsverk 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, Frank Dees Dealer/Distributor Sales.....................................John Buhay, Greg Aston, Jon Cooner Accounting & Logistics ...................................Steffani Hood Office Manager...............................................Dawn McGough Internet Customer Service Manager.............Mary Jones Shipping Manager ................................................Marlin Swain Copy Editor ...............................................................Susan Scott Art Director .........................................................George Pudzis Advertising Director........Wade Atchley, Atchley Media

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here is great news for us food plotters. Fertilizer costs are coming down after last year’s skyrocketing prices when we saw even the most basic fertilizers increase as much as 400%. As a consequence many food plotters just didn’t fertilize or cut back on what their fields needed to thrive. However, in the last few months, some of the fertilizer components have dropped back to levels we saw two years ago and are continuing to fall. In addition, fuel prices, which were sky high last year, have come back down to much more reasonable levels. Both of these obviously present welcome savings for our field testers. But, remember there is another triedand-true way you can save money. And in the long run, it is one of the best cost-cutters you can utilize, anytime, anywhere. And, that is a soil test Doing a soil test is easy and is the only way to get the exact information you need for the specific crop you’re planting or maintaining. It tells you exactly how much lime and fertilizer you need so you don’t waste money and time on unnecessary or inappropriate application

of fertilizers. Dr. Wayne Hanna has written an article on page 24 with more detailed information. Give it a read and you’ll see how a soil test can not only save you money but give your food plots the best opportunity to flourish. Your deer and deer hunting will both benefit greatly. The Whitetail Institute offers detailed soil testing services that can be tailored to exactly what you’re planting or maintaining. But, whether you choose the Whitetail Institute or another soil testing facility, having an accurate soil test done will be the most important step you can take whether you’re establishing or maintaining your food plots. Our consultants are standing by to answer any questions you may have about soil testing. If any of the information on your test is unclear, give them a call at 800-688-3030. W

Ray Scott

Deer love fresh spring legumes, so much in fact that they typically clean out an entire planting before the plants are well established. The mix of high-protein annuals in PowerPlant better withstand heavy grazing to produce a high volume crop that continues to thrive throughout the heat of summer, providing deer with not only excellent forage, but with attractive bedding areas as well. In university testing PowerPlant produced more tonnage per acre than any other spring/summer annual. They’ll come for the succulent plants and stay to bed and make your plot their home.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

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

“Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

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PowerPlant,

the Protein Sledgehammer By Jon Cooner

B

y now, most hunters and managers know that if a buck is to grow his largest possible antlers, he must ingest the highest protein forages possible during the 200-day, spring and summer, antler-growing period. That’s why the Whitetail Institute's supplies of PowerPlant ran out in 2008 even before the earliest planting dates arrived. Imperial PowerPlant delivers more high-protein forage during that 200-day period than any other spring/summer product we’ve tested, and the word is out! In fact, I didn’t even get any PowerPlant myself. So if you want your bucks to have the protein they need in spring and summer, to carry the largest, heaviest racks they can in fall, order PowerPlant — and order early. As critical as protein is for antler growth, remember that spring/summer protein is not just important to bucks. The 200-day antler-growing period is also when does are in their third trimester of pregnancy and when they produce milk for their newborn fawns. Actually, protein is critical for the entire herd during spring and summer. Independent university research has shown that when it comes to delivering massive levels of highprotein forage for deer, nothing delivers the tonnage of Imperial PowerPlant. That’s why I call it the high-protein sledgehammer. There are several reasons it deserves this title. True forage varieties: I’m not calling PowerPlant a high-protein sledgehammer just for effect. PowerPlant is just like any other tool you’d select for a specific job. For example, let’s say you need to break up an old concrete patio. What tool would you select: a standard carpentry hammer or a sledgehammer? Both would do the job, but you’d choose the sledgehammer because it will break the old concrete better and more quickly than a carpentry hammer. The same is true of plant types. Nowadays, bean and pea varieties are engineered to do specific jobs, and varieties designed for one thing might not do as good a job in other applications. Consider soybeans. Agricultural soybeans are specifically designed to prowww.whitetailinstitute.com

Vol. 18, No. 3 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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duce as many beans as possible for a farmer to harvest and sell. From a farmer’s perspective, the more beans a plant produces, the better. To meet that goal, an ag soybean plant must survive to the point that it can produce beans, so bean farmers might prefer that the plants be as unattractive to deer as possible to reduce crop depredation. Bean farmers don’t care how well the plants perform as forage. If you’ve observed ag beans, you’ve probably noticed they don’t perform as well as a forage source as other plant varieties. They can quickly become stemmy and unpalatable to deer, and if deer bite them off early in the growing cycle, the plants often die. That’s why ag beans are like using a carpentry hammer to break up a patio. They don’t do as good a job as soybean varieties designed to be used as deer forage. The soybeans in PowerPlant are true forage varieties, and that’s one reason why PowerPlant is head-andshoulders above other forage products for spring and summer protein. Unlike agricultural beans, the soybeans in PowerPlant do not become stemmy. Instead, they produce slim, tender vines that produce loads of high-protein foliage. And after the soybean plants establish, they don’t die when deer start to graze on them. Instead, when deer bite them off, the plants produce a little knot, and several new vines sprout from the knot and continue to grow. All soybeans are not the same any more than all hammers are the same. They come in numerous types, each of which is designed for a specific task. If your task is providing deer with huge quantities of high-protein forage during spring and summer, ag beans simply cannot meet your needs as well as the true forage beans in PowerPlant. That’s true of all the beans and

peas in PowerPlant. They’re all true forage varieties. Structural components: You don't just need highprotein foliage. There must also be enough of it. That’s why PowerPlant includes small amounts of structural plants to maximize the quantity of foliage your plot produces. For example, if you’ve planted straight cow peas in summer for deer, you’ve likely made this observation: “The peas grew well for a few weeks. Then the deer found them and wiped them completely out in a matter of days.� PowerPlant is designed to help overcome such early overgrazing problems. As mentioned, PowerPlant uses forage varieties that help keep the plants producing. But that’s not all. PowerPlant also includes small amounts of sunflowers and an extremely high-quality wildlife sorghum, which act as a lattice for the forage plants to climb. As a result, PowerPlant can grow into a wall of foliage 5 or 6 feet tall. The wall is also extremely dense. In fact, after your PowerPlant reaches waist height, you won’t be able to walk through it without cutting or kicking your way through. And that means not only incredible forage tonnage, but also a highly attractive bedding area for deer. It’s just one more benefit of the Protein Sledgehammer. One more reason to make it your spring/summer forage. HOW TO GET THE MOST FROM YOUR POWERPLANT Don’t plant until soil temperatures increase: We often say to wait to plant PowerPlant until you’re certain that any danger of a late-spring frost has passed. More accurately, the soil temperature should set your

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

planting dates. Like any beans and peas, PowerPlant should not be planted in cool, moist soil, so be sure soil temperatures have actually started to warm and will stay consistently warm in spring before planting PowerPlant. If you’re not sure when that is in your area, check with a local farm-supply store to find out when area farmers plan to plant their soybeans. Then, plant the same weekend or even a week or two later just to be safe.

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Plant enough PowerPlant: When it comes to spring/summer annuals for deer, nothing is more graze-tolerant than PowerPlant. As mentioned, after PowerPlant establishes, it will be very hard for deer to overgraze it. To minimize the risk of early overgrazing before the PowerPlant establishes, plant enough of it. Make sure the site has enough room for you to plant at least 3/4 of an acre of PowerPlant. One 25pound bag of PowerPlant will plant up to one acre in normal conditions. In areas of heavy deer density, increase the seeding rate, and plant 25 pounds of PowerPlant to every 3/4 acre. Year-round plot strategies: PowerPlant lasts until the first hard frosts of fall. After frosts arrive, PowerPlant will slowly mat down during a month or so. After that, deer might continue to use the residual beans and peas, but the forage aspect will be finished. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep the plot attractive through fall and winter. Here are some strategies to help you do that and create one of the best harvest plots possible, especially for the early season. Most areas have a most common prevailing wind direction during hunting season (In central Alabama, the wind usually blows out of the northwest during the season.) After you determine your prevailing wind direction during hunting season, locate a permanent stand site on the downwind corner or edge of the PowerPlant plot. Then, 3-4 weeks before the start of your fall planting window, mow lanes through the PowerPlant. Wait a few weeks for the clippings to dry, and then disk or till the clippings into the lanes, smooth the lanes with a drag or roller, and plant the lanes with an Imperial annual such as Pure Attraction, Winter-Greens or No-Plow. In the accompanying graphic, the black lines are the perimeter of your PowerPlant plot. The bright green lines represent the lanes you’ll mow 3-4 weeks before your fall planting dates and later plant in an Imperial annual. You must put in enough lane area, but not too much. You want enough to keep the plot attracting deer even after frosts, when PowerPlant begins to die, but you don’t want so many that you destroy the feeling of safety deer have in the tall, thick PowerPlant during the early season. Keep the lanes skinny; 5 to 10 feet wide might be a good rule of thumb. If you do it right, you’ll likely find that deer continue to live in the PowerPlant and step in and out of the lanes throughout the day during the early season. The lanes are skinny and provide a feeling of safety for deer inside the tall adjacent PowerPlant. Then, the Pure Attraction, Winter-Greens or No-Plow in the lanes will make the plot an attractive source of nutrition all the way through the late season.

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Good Things

Come to Those Who Wait By Steve Moak

O

He turned and started plodding in my direction in that “Hereford Bull” style of a fully mature buck. The ivory rack towered over his head so I tried to concentrate on the scrape located under an Osage orange just 25 yards from my stand and not look at the antlers. Peeking under the brim of my hat I watched his methodical approach to the scrape. With no warning, no ears cupping forward, no lifted nose, no glance upward, he suddenly just turned into the cedar and oak thicket and out of my life. My disappointment was multiplied by the five seasons that had passed since taking a buck from this property. I had passed many 160 — 170 class bucks in

Steve Moak

ct. 18 dawned clear and cool. I was a few hundred yards from an Imperial Whitetail Clover food plot hoping to intercept either of the two great bucks we had seen frequenting the plots during the late summer months. Early that morning I saw a buck working an overhanging branch in a cedar tree about 80 yards away. When he backed out of the cedar my binoculars were fixed on him and I was momentarily stunned by the height of his tines and quickly realized this was one of the bucks I was looking for.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

An integral part of Moak’s management system is the use of Imperial Whitetail Clover, both for its outstanding nutritional value as well as for holding deer in the core of the area.

Whitetail Institute

that time trying to surpass the 178-net non-typical I had been fortunate enough to take. As I sat there, still in stunned disbelief, but in awe of a mature buck’s “Sixth Sense,” I reflected on the years of effort that created that morning’s events. The Midwest is well known for providing tremendous whitetail bucks, but having the area you hunt produce one of these trophies can be difficult anywhere. We are very fortunate to have 800 acres of hardwood ridges and creek bottoms, which we are managing for trophy bucks. An integral part of our management system is the use of Imperial Whitetail Clover. Both for its outstanding nutritional value as well as for holding deer in the core of our area. I first tried Imperial Whitetail Clover about 17 or 18 years ago in upstate New York and it was awesome. We saw more deer on that land after planting than ever before. The guys I hunted with back then still use it because there is nothing better. I decided about 12 years ago to move to Missouri for one reason. I love to hunt big bucks and I knew the midwest had the biggest bucks. I convinced my “new” hunting partners to try Imperial Whitetail Clover and they, too, love it because it provides great nutrition and attracts deer unbelievably well. At this time we have 15 clover plots covering approximately 45 acres. We have learned the hard way that it is imperative to follow the recommended planting instructions. Lime and fertilizer make all the difference. It is also very important to get enough clover established so it is able to “stay ahead” of the deer. Parts of our management system may be too intensive for a lot of people. But it can be modified to whatever your objective might be. We are managing for tro-

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phy whitetails, whereas most hunters will proudly opt for Quality Management. We will not knowingly shoot a buck that is less than five years old. It has been proven by ourselves and many others that a buck just does not reach his genetic potential until at least age five. When we have young or first-time hunters on the property, we will allow carefully selected three-year-old bucks showing little potential to be taken. It is extremely difficult to get a buck to age five even with no hunting pressure, therefore it is important to keep as large a buck base as your carrying capacity will allow. We also shoot as many does as we legally can.

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We also keep our Imperial Clover plots centrally located and away from road view and we provide some security or sanctuary areas where no access or hunting is allowed so that deer are more likely to stay on our property. When you look out on one of your Imperial Whitetail Clover fields in mid-July and see a half dozen three to five-year-old majestic bucks, you will know it was all worthwhile. BACK TO THIS PAST HUNTING SEASON The gun opener was met with the usual anticipation,

Whitetail Institute

“When you look out on one of your Imperial Whitetail Clover fields in mid-July and see a half dozen three to five-year-old majestic bucks, you will know it was all worthwhile.”

but was tempered with the feeling that maybe I had “dreamt” the big buck encounter because I had not had a sighting of him since that fateful morning. My chosen stand for this day overlooked a lot of ground as I hoped I might catch a buck sneaking in from adjoining properties or possibly chasing a doe, as the rut was still in full swing. At 10 a.m. I spotted a buck easing down an overgrown fence line over a quarter-mile away. Looking through the glasses I saw the unmistakable ivory tines. It was him! He entered a small cedar thicket and 15 minutes later he still had not come out. A dry creek bed allowed me to get down and to cut the distance to 200 yards where I crawled up into another stand. I could see the tops of the trees he was bedded under but could no longer see the ground from my new vantage point. Four long hours had passed and I convinced myself he had probably snuck out without me seeing him. Then another buck approached down the same fence line and went out of sight into the cedars. I knew something had to happen if the big buck was still there. Moments later there he was, headed toward an intersecting fence line. When he reached the fence, he turned into the wind and headed my way. When he reached 125 yards I did my best to settle my uncontrollable shaking and squeezed the trigger. The buck bolted through an old bar-gap but as I got the crosshairs back on him, he wheeled around and went down. To take a buck like this after a lifetime of pursuit, cannot be put into words, but can only be described as truly an honor. The buck gross-scored 217-3/8 inches. I can only hope that one day my sons are blessed with such a tremendous experience. W

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

Common Questions — Straightforward Answers We are planning to plant two acres of Imperial Whitetail Clover on an open ridge top this spring. Our soil test showed that the soil pH is 5.4. This is a new plot site that is currently covered with fescue. I have a friend with a seed drill. He says he can plant the clover in May and that we can add lime in June. Does this sound like a good plan in Kentucky?

Q:

To answer your question in a word, “No.” The good news, though, is that I can give you a plan that will work. Let's start with the problems I see. First, a soil pH of 5.4 is too low to sustain Imperial Whitetail Clover, and it is too low for you to lime and plant in the same planting window (this spring). It will take some time for the lime called for in your soil-test report to raise pH sufficiently. That means you need to plan on adding lime now and planting next fall instead of this spring, and using the interim time to get your seedbed ready. Second, you should lime before you plant, not after. In order for lime to raise pH as quickly as possible, it should be incorporated into the soil (disked or tilled in). That's because lime works in particleto-particle contact with the soil; a piece of lime needs to touch a piece of dirt to neutralize that dirt particle's pH. Lime won't “wash down into the soil” quickly as you hear folks say. As I often heard Dr. Johnson say, "Lime pretty much stays where you put it," and you need to "put it" all throughout the top few inches of soil. You do that by disking or tilling it into the soil, which you can only do before you plant. Third, you should try to control the fescue as much as possible with a herbicide before you plant. Fescue is tough stuff, and if it’s growing in a fallow site, it’s undoubtedly mature and has a dense root system. Because the roots will be holding the soil in tight clumps, you should kill it before liming so that the dirt will be freed from the grasp of the roots, allowing you to get a better mix (particle-to-particle contact) between the lime and the dirt particles. To control the fescue, use a herbicide product whose active ingredient is 40 to 50-percent glyphosate. Such products include stronger versions of Roundup Weed and Grass Killer, Eraser, Gly-4 and many others. Also, add surfactant to the herbicide solution according to the herbicide label instructions. Again, fescue is tough, so although you will likely control a good bit of it with the first herbicide application, you’ll almost certainly have some remaining. Accordingly, you should plan on having to do multiple applications before you plant and in a certain order, which I'll get to in a minute. Fourth, you mentioned that you will be planting

A:

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

on an open ridge top. Be sure that you have selected the correct Imperial forage for your soil type and plot slope. Our blends are designed for specific soil types and drainages. Imperial Whitetail Clover is designed for heavy soils that have good moistureholding properties. So, the ridge top is fine for Imperial Clover only if the soil is that type. If not, you should select an Imperial perennial designed for the soil type of the plot. Fifth is the matter of using a drill to plant small seeds such as Imperial Whitetail Clover. While small seeds such as Imperial Whitetail Clover can be planted with a drill in certain situations, we recommend using a shoulder-carried or hand-held broadcast spreader, not a drill. The main reason is that small-seed blends such as Imperial Whitetail Clover should be left on top of the soil when planted. That “can” be done with a drill in some cases by floating the drill or by reconfiguring the seed-drop tubes so that they drop the seed behind the drill’s packing wheels so that the seed is not buried. It also is helpful if the drill is equipped with small-seed components, which are sometimes referred to as “grassseed planters.” These come standard on most hardland drills but may not on grain drills. In any event, the key point is that whatever seeding implement you use, small-seed blends such as Imperial Whitetail Clover should be planted on top of the prepared seedbed, and certainly no deeper than 1/8th — 1/4th inch deep. Now that we’ve covered the preliminary issues, here’s how I'd suggest you proceed to get your site ready for a fall planting in Kentucky. Remember, the timeline below is for Kentucky, and in any particular year, the timing of these steps can fluctuate by a few weeks either way, depending on temperature and moisture levels. The timing of these steps may also vary for other areas of North America. Full planting instructions and dates for each area of North America are available on-line at www.whitetailinstitute.com. THIS SPRING 1. The first step would be to perform a soil test to determine what your soil pH and nutrient levels are. You mentioned that you have already done a soil test, though, so skip down to number 2. 2. As soon as spring green-up arrives, spray the plot site with a glyphosate herbicide plus surfactant solution. Wait a couple of weeks for the herbicide to take effect. The herbicide label will tell you exactly how long you should wait, but two weeks should be sufficient to allow the herbicide to do its work. 3. Two weeks after spraying the herbicide, spread the lime called for in your soil-test report onto your seedbed, and disk or till it thoroughly into the top

few inches of soil. By having first killed the root systems of most of the fescue with the herbicide, you will be able to get a much better mix of the lime with the dirt particles. 3A. Optional: You may continue to disk or till the seedbed a few more times over the next month if you want to. That can help reduce the amount of dormant weed seed in your soil. If you do so, though, be sure to disk to the same depth every time, for two reasons. First, if you disk deeper, you’ll be diluting the lime you added by mixing it with additional dirt particles. Second, you’ll bring up even more weed and grass seeds from underground dormancy. JULY — AUGUST 4. The fall planting dates for Imperial perennials in Kentucky are Aug. 1 — Sept. 30. About a month before you intend to plant, disk or till the plot again to loosen the soil. Again, disk only to the same depth to which you tilled earlier. THIS WILL BE THE LAST TIME YOU DISK OR TILL THE SEEDBED BEFORE YOU PLANT. 5. Immediately after disking or tilling, smooth the plot with a heavy drag or cultipacker. In other words, finish the seedbed as if you were about to plant, even though you will not be planting yet. 6. Wait several more weeks to see if any grass and weeds have reappeared from seeds your most recent tillage brought up from underground dormancy. If so, then at least two weeks before you intend to plant, spray the seedbed again with the glyphosate plus surfactant solution. AGAIN, DO NOT TURN THE SOIL AGAIN AFTER SPRAYING. AUG. 1 — SEPT. 30 (FALL PERENNIAL PLANTING DATES FOR KENTUCKY) 7. Don’t plant until at least two weeks have passed since you last sprayed the herbicide solution. Again, the herbicide label will tell you precisely how long you should wait, but two weeks is a safe bet for glyphosate. 8. When you are ready to plant, start by walking out into your plot, and observing how deep your boot tracks are. If they sink down about one-half to one inch, you are ready to plant. If you sink down less than that, then lightly drag or harrow the seedbed surface just to break the top crust. If you sink down more than that, roll the plot with a cultipacker or drag it with a weighted, fence-type drag until the seedbed is at optimum firmness. And remember, you should eliminate the cracks the seed might fall into and be buried too deep. 9. Once your seedbed is at optimum smoothness and firmness, broadcast the fertilizer called for in

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your soil-test report onto the surface of your seedbed. Then broadcast the seed onto the seedbed. Do not cover the seed. 10. If you are planting Imperial Whitetail Extreme instead of one of the other Imperial perennial blends, follow this step: When the plants reach about 3-4 inches high, top-dress the plot with 100 pounds per acre of a high-nitrogen fertilizer such as 33-0-0 to further boost forage growth. Do this when the plants are dry. This step is not necessary for Imperial perennial blends other than Extreme.

me once my lawn greens up each spring that it can be another week or two before it starts growing well. So, each spring I wait until my lawn greens up, and then I keep an eye on it. Once I see it starting to vigorously grow again, I know it’s time to go spray my perennials with Arrest. I’m as guilty as others, though, in occasionally putting things off too long. Thankfully, controlling more mature grass with Arrest is still possible. It just requires a higher solution rate, and it may also require two applications a month apart.

When is the best time of the year to spray Arrest?

I am going to spray my Alfa-Rack Plus with Arrest to control grass. If I fertilize it first with 17-17-17, won’t that help the herbicide get into the grass faster?

Q: A:

Arrest is designed to offer optimum control of “seedling” grasses. By that, I mean grasses that are growing vigorously, but that have not matured to the point that they’d be more than 6-12 inches tall if left un-mowed. Arrest can still control grasses that have matured beyond that point, but it may be more difficult, in some cases requiring that you use a higher concentration of Arrest in the spray solution, apply it more often, or both. To save money, it’s best to spray Arrest right when grasses are just starting to grow, but before they mature. If that’s hard to figure out, here’s what I do. On my lease, I know that I will have to spray to control grass in my perennial plots. To gauge when it’s time to spray, I just watch my lawn. Often, it appears to

Q: A:

Not to the point that it will make a difference in the performance of Arrest (provided the spray solution is mixed and applied according to label directions). Instead, you should look at grass control and fertilization as two separate steps in perennial maintenance, and you should perform them in order. Do your grass control first. Your number-one priority when maintaining an Imperial perennial is grass control. That’s because Arrest is designed to offer the best control of grasses that are still in “seedling stage” (actively growing, but still so young that they could not have grown taller than 6-12 inches if left un-mowed). If you allow grass to mature before you spray,

control is still possible with Arrest. However, it may require a higher mix rate, multiple applications or both, which costs you more. Adding nitrogen fertilizer to a stand of Alfa-Rack Plus also wastes money because it’s not necessary. And, it can cause you problems as well. Alfa-Rack Plus doesn’t need nitrogen fertilizer for maintenance. The clovers in Alfa-Rack Plus are “nitrogen fixers.” That means they make enough nitrogen for their own needs, so your forage gains nothing by adding nitrogen fertilizer. That’s one reason we recommend that Alfa-Rack Plus be maintained with a zero-nitrogen (first number on the fertilizer bag) fertilizer such as 0-20-20. In addition to wasting money, adding nitrogen fertilizer to a stand of Alfa-Rack Plus can boost the growth of grasses or weeds. So, start your spring maintenance by controlling grass. Arrest is designed to control most kinds of grass, and it can be sprayed on any Imperial perennial. Check the Arrest label for a list of what grasses Arrest will control and for full mixing and application instructions. If you have any questions about Arrest, call our consultants at (800) 688-3030, extension 2, before you spray. W

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Vol. 18, No. 3 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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SPRING TURKEY HUNTING WITH FOOD PLOTS AND KIDS By Brian Lovett Photos by Tes Randle Jolly

S

ometimes, doing the right thing produces fringe benefits. Consider food plots. When land managers get into the food plot game, they’re usually trying to improve the health and quality of wildlife on their property. Along the way, they might be paving the way for some great spring memories with younger hunters. If there’s a better combination than children, food plots and spring turkey hunting, I’ve yet to see it. They go together, as a great man once said, like peas and carrots.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

THE ADVANTAGES OF FOOD PLOTS It’s easy to understand why food plots benefit turkey hunters: They attract turkeys. Turkeys thrive in spots with a mix of timber and open areas. When those open areas produce nutritious clover and attract important summer insects, it’s even better. A friend of mine and an expert turkey caller once said “The biggest fallacy I remember from when I started turkey hunting was that you had to hunt woods, You don’t have to hunt a lot of woods. You want to hunt where the agriculture is and where the fields are. That’s where turkeys like to hang out because it’s where many of their food sources are, especially in spring. They’re always out there picking or grabbing something, so that’s where you want to be.” In early spring, before mast and agricultural food sources are available, birds hit food plots to munch on clover and other green vegetation. Gobblers also use these areas to strut and attract hens, and hens often nest in brushy areas on the edges of food plots. “Clover has always been a popular planting, especially in food plots,” said Andrea Mezera, assistant upland wildlife

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ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “It’s a good species to use in wildlife openings because it also helps control erosion. It’s also a very popular species for turkeys and other wildlife, such as deer, to feed on.” The benefits don’t stop in spring. Food plots provide great nutrition for poults during summer. “Clover attracts insects such as grasshoppers, which turkeys feed on,” Mezera said. “This is especially important for young poults, as insects provide food that is high in protein, which is good for developing poults.” Because turkeys often roost on the edges of open spaces, food plots and similar openings can also concentrate birds, giving hunters a likely starting spot for morning outings.

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FOOD PLOTS AND KIDS Turkey hunters with several seasons on their butt pads will tell you they’d rather shoot a turkey in the woods rather than a field. Why? Because the cover of the woods provides ideal setups where hunters can shoot a turkey the instant it’s in range. Further, experienced hunters can track turkey movements through gobbling, drumming and other sounds, so they don’t need to watch a turkey to know he’s coming. Youngsters, however, are different. They don’t know what to expect, or how to deal with the many twists and turns inherent in turkey hunting. That’s where food plots provide invaluable advantages. The first advantage is simple: Food plots allow a clear view of what’s happening. It’s one thing to tell a first-time turkey hunter what to expect. It’s quite

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another to have the neophyte experience it. A youngster hunting the edge of a food plot can see firsthand all the great stuff about which he’s heard, including flydown, strutting, gobbling, social interaction and, if things go well, a successful conclusion to the hunt. Likewise, food plot setups are perfect for mentors to guide and hunt with first-timers. As the newbie watches turkeys do their thing in the food plot, the mentor can explain what’s happening and tell the youngster what to do next. That’s especially important at the moment of truth, when a gobbler comes within range and the intensity increases. Food plots and other openings also make things easier on hunters and their mentors because it places their focus in one direction: straight ahead in the open field. The thing about field hunting is you can block out your back side. That way, 90 percent of your concentration can be out in that clearing or field. Of course,

Food plot setups are perfect for mentors to guide and hunt with first-timers. As the newbie watches turkeys do their thing in the food plot, the mentor can explain what’s happening and tell the youngster what to do next. because food plots only have cover around the edges, you might need some special gear for concealment. Modern portable blinds are perfect, and they actually provide another huge advantage for children: They let them move and be comfortable. After all, if a young hunter can see a turkey, the bird can see the hunter, and one move will end the morning quickly. A blind lets youngsters stretch, move and, most important, position themselves for a shot. That helps them avoid boredom while learning one of turkey hunting’s biggest lessons: patience. The down side to blinds is that they limit you to one spot. However, if you’re hunting a food plot, you’ve pretty much cast your lot there, anyway. THE PERFECT SETUP I was treated to a classic food-plot turkey hunt several years ago during Wisconsin’s special youth weekend. The youngster who accompanied me had never hunted anything, let alone a sharpspurred old gobbler, so I knew I’d have to offer guidance at every step. The second morning, we relocated

from a large field to the edge of a logging-road food plot where we’d heard a bird gobble. A friend accompanied the youngster to the edge of the plot, and I stayed back 30 yards over a small rise to float-call to the bird. After my first series of yelps, the bird hammered back. Thirty seconds later, he hammered back 100 yards from where he’d been. He was coming. I quickly switched to soft clucking and purring and watched the show unfold. With my buddy constantly whispering instructions, the young hunter eased his gun up and shifted to his right. Soon, drumming filled the air, and I could see the young hunter’s chest heave and fall in anticipation. It seemed like it took forever for the 12-gauge to bark, but when it did, I jumped up and was relieved to see a flopping longbeard 20-some steps from the youngster. The food plot setup had been perfect. The bird was obviously comfortable in that area and had no reservations about strutting up an old logging road into the small opening. Better yet, the first-timer had seen it all unfold and was officially hooked on turkey hunting. Here’s hoping every food-plotter can share a similar experience on their land this spring. W

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

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THREE GOBBLERS, ONE IMPERIAL CLOVER FOOD PLOT

a marsh to the east. This field is a favorite spot for longbeards at any time of the day. As I approached this field at 11 a.m. I was hopeful that my lucky spot would change my grumpy mood. I decided to set up just inside the timber against a large spruce tree that faced north to the swamp. I also decided to use a jake decoy about 20 yards from my set-up. I don’t always use decoys, but I felt this situation called for one. It was a comfy spot and I thought if things didn’t go too well at least I could rest in the warm early May sunshine. My soft yelps turned more aggressive from my diaphragm call, and out of the swamp came a loud “gobbbblee!” The turkey wasn’t more than 125 yards from me, and after I gave him a few more tantalizing yelps he quickly answered back.

By Bart Landsverk, Whitetail News Senior Editor

I

had chased longbeards since the skies were black. and I had failed miserably. It was one of those mornings when you would swear that all of the turkeys had left your hunting area for good and taken up residence elsewhere. I was tired, dejected and, quite frankly, bored. It was time to get in the vehicle and head to my favorite gobbler honeyhole, a six-acre field of Imperial Whitetail Clover. The field is surrounded by an oak ridge to the south and west, a swamp to the north and

Cool. I grabbed my binoculars and tried to scan the swamp looking for my newly found friend. The gobbler was already strutting about 20 yards before he would hit my Imperial Clover food plot, which was around 90 yards from me. It didn’t take the turkey long to see my decoy and head across the plot toward me. Turkey hunting can drive you nuts because for hours, and even days, you can yelp your head off, try new spots and nothing seems to work. And then when things turn on they happen very quickly. It wasn’t 30 minutes from when I put my decoy in the ground until I shot the gobbler at less than 20 paces. It was a great hunt. I took my father turkey hunting the next week. My dad has only hunted turkeys for a couple of years, and I enjoy calling for him while we sit in a ground blind. Of course I decided to hunt off of my Imperial Clover food plot. This time, however, we hunted at the east end of the plot and were in our blind before dawn. It was a perfect morning for hearing turkeys on the roost– cool with no wind. Despite that, my calling produced nothing more than echoes in the timber. I whispered to my dad that I was going to rest my eyes and he could tap me on the knee if something ventured toward the blind or the hen and jake decoys. I swear it wasn’t five minutes when I felt a tap on my knee. I slowly lifted my head and saw turkeys walking through our decoys. My father waited a minute or two and quickly dispensed of yet another male turkey. My father-in-law also shot a longbeard on this field this past season, making it three for the season. Imperial Clover food plots provide nutrition for whitetails all year, but they also are a turkey magnet. I consider it a bonus every spring. W

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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Vol. 18, No. 3 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

17


Three Management Practices to Create a

Rut Hunting Paradise By Bill Winke Photos by the Author

Hunting on the author’s farm this past year, his friend Mike Sawyer shot this impressive old buck. The buck was on his feet in the middle of the afternoon cruising for does. By keeping doe numbers down, the author believes he encourages his bucks to travel more during the rut.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

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D

uring the rut, the best strategy is to hunt does and let the bucks come to you. Does will be where the food is. That means you need to have a few lush food sources to attract and hold does during the early phases of the rut. You also need to create thick cover where the mature bucks can live in security and where they will come hunting for bedded does during the rut. It's the middle of the rut as I write this. Don’t ask me why I agreed to write an article that was due in early November, but I was weak and probably hungry at the time and thought the income might be useful. The point is not the mismanagement of my hunting time but rather the correct management of a hunting prop-

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erty to produce the best possible action during the rut. I have seen many mature bucks so far this season, not many of which have had big antlers. Still, it has been encouraging to see so many old bucks. I have shot a couple of the nicer ones, so it has been a great rut, all in all. Now I ask myself which of the management practices used on this property have had the most impact in producing this action-packed season. I can come up with three. First, there is a lot of food on the place. Second, I have produced an abundance of thick cover. Third, we have kept the doe numbers down so bucks have to hunt for them, meaning less chance for a mid-rut lull. I’ll take these three factors one at a time to explain why they are important. The management formula to produce rut success isn’t really all that different from the formula that will produce success at other times. You need lots of mature bucks and a reason for them to move during the day. Food, thick cover and buck-to-doe ratios all come into play to make this happen during the rut. OK, here we go. First, let’s look at food. We know that deer are slaves to their stomachs. We also know that bucks look for does during the rut. So to have the best chance of seeing cruising bucks, we need to anchor the does on the property and keep them from drifting off to the neighbors each evening to feed. Yes, it is much cheaper if you can get the neighbor to feed your deer for you, but then you lose control of them, and your hunting suffers. So, as a minimum, you need to provide several wellspaced food sources that will anchor your does, thus producing several hubs in the travel patterns of your local bucks. The best food plots for hunting during the rut are

small ones tucked into the cover. The big plots do a great job of feeding the deer and keeping them healthy, but the hunting opportunities they offer during the rut are not nearly as great as those offered by the small plots. This is because the small plots become more than just feeding areas; they become community areas, places that concentrate deer and draw cruising bucks. The bucks come to these places to sniff around scrapes, stand and stare for long minutes and then swagger on through. I don’t see that kind of behavior around the big fields with nearly the consistency that I see it on these small, half-acre to three-acre plots tucked into the timber. These small plots become excellent morning stand locations. In fact, they are just as good in the morning as they are in the afternoon — possibly better. Being isolated back in the cover, they are close to bedding areas, meaning they are the first place a buck will check in the evening and the last place he’ll check in the morning, increasing the odds you will see him on his feet during daylight. Again, I don’t see this on the larger fields. Small isolated food plots are one very important key to rut-hunting success. If you don’t have them, look for places to create them. Ideally, you will situate these fields on ridge tops so the wind will be predictable. These spots are killers. Next, I will point out the advantages of thick cover. I remember 13 years ago when the reality of managing mature bucks first came to roost on (and took a dump on) my overly optimistic expectations. I was managing a property that I partly owned. I wanted to know how many big bucks the property could possibly hold. So I called several of the most respected deer thinkers in my Rolodex.

Vol. 18, No. 3 / WHITETAIL

NEWS 19


Small isolated food plots are much more productive during the rut than larger plots. Look for places to create these small rut-hunting gems.

Their words were depressing. One of the guys I called was the deer biologist for the state of Illinois at that time. His answer echoed that of all the others. If you can hold one super-dominant, fully mature buck per square mile, you are doing about average. Ugh. I

could only imagine all the trees that I would be sitting in each year that this one buck didn’t walk past. My hopes of even seeing him were squashed. Fortunately, they were wrong. That answer has evolved and changed through time. Now, I am con-

vinced, based on my own experiences and those of others who are working hard to maximize the potential of their hunting land, that the number is much larger. OK, I don’t have scientific data to back this up, but I believe that having super thick cover is an important key in holding more mature bucks on your land. Think about it from the standpoint of known deer behavior. When mature bucks are staring at each other all day, they are destined to decide who controls the turf with a war. If they can’t see each other, the war is much less likely to occur, and the turf gets divided up into smaller parcels by default. One of my trusted contacts, Al Collins of northern Indiana, is a hard-core land manager and developer of hunting land. Collins believes that he is holding a mature buck for every 40 acres. That is a staggering number, but Al designs these farms to be super thick with fast-growing bushy vegetation replacing much of the open ground. He attributes his buck-holding capability to this thick cover. That has been my experience, too. Starting six years ago, we began an aggressive timber stand improvement project on the farm. We have worked our way through nearly all the timbered cover during the five years that ensued, removing all the junk trees and those of non-commercial value. We cut down thousands of trees! So now, I can watch the forest regenerate at various stages. I have definitely learned a lot about what happens when you let daylight into different types of cover. It is interesting to see how thick some of these areas have become that we released six years ago — and how quickly the habitat changes when you release the right types of undergrowth. You can place a tree stand along the edge of some of these

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

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areas and barely be able to see into them, even though you are looking into them from above. As mentioned, there are many mature bucks on the farm, and I attribute a good bit of that to this thick cover. It might even be possible we are holding one mature buck per 40 acres, just like Collins claims on his northern Indiana property. I never would have believed it five years ago. The place has really changed. Now we just need a reason for those mature bucks to move during daylight. Let’s take a look at what motivates them during the rut, but I guess that is pretty obvious, isn’t it? So if they have to hunt for does, rather than just laying around and waiting for them to walk past, it would seem to make sense that they will be on their feet more during daylight. My experiences bear that assumption out. By aggressively harvesting does, you help yourself on two levels. First, you make the bucks look harder during the rut. Second, you reduce the overall deer numbers, which makes it easier to establish thick cover. You definitely need to do everything in balance. If you are managing in an area with limited deer numbers, you might not need to shoot as many does to make this work. However, if the buck-to-doe ratio is way out of whack, you can have an impact even on a small-scale project by shooting lots of does. By shooting does, you create a vacuum in the deer herd, and nature abhors a vacuum. Because does are more territorial and less likely to disperse than bucks, the vacuum tends to fill with bucks. Again, every situation is different so I offer the same disclaimer again — your mileage may vary. You might need to tweak this master plan to make it fit within the herd dynamics in your hunting area. But, that disclaimer aside, there remains no question

By aggressively harvesting does you can make the bucks in your hunting area have to work harder and travel more to find does during the rut. That equates to better rut hunting action for you.

in my mind that you will increase the daylight activity of your mature bucks if you have fewer does. Everyone asks me the question, “Won’t all your bucks leave during the rut?� First, every buck has his own personality. Some are wanderers, and some are homebodies, so it's impossible to generalize. However, just keep in mind that they don’t know what we know. Unless they have been there during the rut in the past, they don’t know that there is a place a mile away where there are more does. Yes, by reducing the doe numbers, you will also be increasing the buck movement on your immediate neighbor’s farm too, but that is life. Get over it. Short of erecting a high fence, it is impossible to improve your farm and your hunting without also improving your neighbor’s farm and hunting. Deciding how many does to shoot is a challenge and it is definitely a moving target. I have my own thoughts on that, but I tend to fall on the aggressive side. I believe that you can always let them come back more easily than you can reduce them if you fail to take strong action. In other words, we might have shot too many over the years, but that will be easy to fix if it indeed proves true. We can just stop shooting them for a year — that’s the easy part. Now you know what I know. That and 25 cents will get you a cup of coffee down at Wal-Mart. Hopefully this has at least gotten you thinking. Default management — doing nothing — will produce some success. However, being proactive and taking all the steps to turn your property into a rut hunting paradise will definitely pay greater dividends. Keep it simple. Hold as many mature bucks as possible and get them to move as much as possible. That is the simple formula for rut hunting action. W

SP R I N G P L A NT I N G DAT E S

for Imperial WhitetailÂŽ Clover, Chicory Plus™, Alfa-Rack™, Alfa-Rack PLUS™, Extreme™, No-Plow™ and “Chicâ€? Magnet™ í˘ą í˘˛ í˘ł í˘´ í˘ľ í˘ś í˘ˇ í˘¸ í˘š ě?… ě?ˆ www.whitetailinstitute.com

Call for planting dates Call for planting dates Feb 1- April 1 Feb 15 - March 1 Feb 15 - April 1 Feb 1 - March 1 April 1 - May 15 Feb 1- April 15

ě?‰ ě”ˆ 씉 씊 씋 ě”Œ

April 15 - June 15 March 20 - May 15 April 1 - July 1 June 1 - July 1 March 1 - April 15 Coastal: Feb 1 - March 1 Southern Piedmont: Feb 15 - April 1 Mountain Valleys: March 1- April 15

North: March 15 - May 1 South: March 1 - April 15 North: April 1 - June 15 South: April 1 - June 1 March 1 - May 15

Vol. 18, No. 3 / WHITETAIL

NEWS 21


Brent Van Hoveln — Illinois Photo 1 shows one night of hunting on my farm over Whitetail Institute food plots. We harvested three mature does and two mature bucks in and around the food plots in one afternoon. All hunts were captured on

Larry Dasch — Michigan This 16-point buck, approximately 160-inches (official score pending) was taken by our 12-year-old daughter, Larkyn Dasch, with a muzzleloader on Sept. 26 on our 360 acre farm in the Michigan youth hunt. The shot was at about 60-70 yards from an elevated

video. If people like to video their hunts and deer in general, there is no better way than to do it over food plots. The deer aren’t just passing by quickly on a nearby trail. They are out in the wide open hanging around eating and just being natural. This gives you plenty of time to get your camera on the deer and get focused. It also allows you extra time to study the animal before deciding whether or not to harvest it. Food plots are a great addition for people who want to better manage their property and be selective about the deer they harvest, because they allow you to better observe your herd before making a hasty decision. Photo 2 is of my son Kyle Van Hoveln’s first Muzzleloader buck. This was a 6-year-old, 155-inch 14point buck that we had filmed several times over the past couple of years in and around our food plots. On this night, we were hunting a staging area just inside the woods from our 2-acre PowerPlant field. I harvested a mature doe with a pistol and in less than 10 seconds after shooting her, my son saw this brute walk right under our stand and he was able to make a perfect shot with his muzzleloader. This hunt will always be a special one for me because not only did I shoot my first deer with a pistol, and my son shot his first buck with a muzzleloader, but all this happened to fall on my birthday, thus giving me the best birthday present a father could ask for. These deer are pictured in a 4-year-old patch of AlfaRack in mid-November in Illinois. This plot has pro-

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

have seen a dramatic affect in the amount of good bucks on my property. Thanks Whitetail institute!

duced tons of forage for my deer over the years. I have really got my money’s worth from this planting, not to mention the deer we have harvested in and around these plots. Photo 3 shows my good friend and co-owner of one of my farms Mike Kemp. This is Mike’s muzzleloader kill from last year, a 155-inch 11-pointer. Mike is no stranger to big bucks and food plots, as he manages to tag at least one every year from his same stand overlooking a field of PowerPlant. By the time the Illinois guns season rolls around the deer on our farms have almost mowed off our PowerPlant to the ground, but as you can see in some of our videos, the deer still come out to eat the very last bits of plants that are left before the winter hits. This field of PowerPlant has always been a consistent producer of big bucks for us every season. Thank you Whitetail Institute for taking the time to research what whitetail deer really like to eat and what is nutritious for them as well. I would encourage anyone who has some type of tillable ground available to them to plant a food plot from the Whitetail Institute. They make so many different products for a wide range of soil conditions that you are bound to find something that will work in your area. “It will change the way you hunt.”

blind. Dad was a lot more nervous than Larkyn. We have practiced quality deer management (let the small bucks walk, and provide 20-plus acres of Chicory PLUS, as well as Winter-Greens, beans, corn, and alfalfa) for about eight years.

Mike Kreidermacher — Minnesota

Curtis Gregory — Kentucky This photo shows one of the three deer that we harvested on my farm this past deer season. They all three were coming off the Whitetail Institute products. Since I have been working with Whitetail Institute products I

Since we started using Imperial Whitetail Clover and Alfa-Rack the improvement in the amount of buck activity and size of the bucks has been great. Also by being able to hold the deer on our property we are making the neighbors jealous. They are asking what we’re using and we are referring them to Whitetail Institute products. Alfa-Rack and Imperial Whitetail Clover are being used equally and we’re able to find a lot of sheds in the winter. Thank you Whitetail Institute for the great products. The 12-point green scored 168 Boone & Crockett and the 8-point green scored 1415/8. These two deer were shot 200 yards apart the same night checking does around the Imperial Whitetail Clover and Alfa-Rack plots. www.whitetailinstitute.com


Robert Raybourn — Missouri I took an eleven point on Nov. 18 in Johnson County during the Missouri firearms season. The buck green scored 172-6/8 gross and 166-3/8 net. A broken brow tine dropped the buck under 170. Still a monster! Total weight was approximately 255 pounds. The buck was dropped in a field that had Imperial Whitetail Clover planted in it. My dad planted it years ago and the bucks are getting bigger and bigger every year! Awesome product.

Andy Stowell — New Hampshire My friends and I have been managing my property since 1996, but we implemented a QDM plan in 2003. The Whitetail Institute products have been a big part of our plan and well worth the investment.

Imperial Whitetail Clover is the best. You get what you pay for. Deer sightings during the off season as well as harvest opportunities during the hunting season, have increased significantly. The bucks taken have had increasingly bigger bodies and greater antler mass. Last year I shot a nice buck with my bow and this year Jim White shot our biggest buck to date.

John Casey — North Carolina We have been using Whitetail Institute products for the last five years on our 500 acre farm and have seen excellent results. These bucks were taken the week of Nov. 5-9 on our farm in Pender County, N.C. (southeastern N.C.). They were all taken feeding or chasing does in or around our Imperial Whitetail Clover and Chicory PLUS food plots. The 11-pointer grossed nontypical 152-1/8 and is the biggest deer we have ever

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taken on the farm. These results help show that with the right nutrition and deer management program anyone can harvest nice bucks.

Jeffrey Yoder — Ohio Imperial Whitetail Clover is in its third year and still going strong. Chicory PLUS grew very well and the deer loved it. We have seen bigger antlered deer since putting the food plots out.

Kelly Devine — Pennsylvania I started using Whitetail Institute products in approximately 2002. The first year we experimented with Imperial Whitetail Clover we had excellent results. I hunt on a working dairy farm in Pennsylvania. The deer in this area have access to plenty of crops meant for cattle and we were a little skeptical of some of the claims made by the Whitetail Institute. We did a soil test on a 2-acre field that wasn’t part of the normal crop rotation on the farm. After a soil test and the addition of lime and fertilizer we seeded the plot with Imperial Whitetail clover. We spotted deer using the plot throughout the summer but as the late summer/early fall time frame came around we started noticing more and more deer in the Imperial Whitetail Clover. There were times when we observed 20-plus

deer in the 2-acre plot. We didn’t kill any great bucks that season but we were able to take several does out of the plot. Every year since then we have been putting out 30-06 Mineral and 30-06 Plus Protein. Our deer really hit these sites hard in the spring and summer. In the past few years we have purchased several trail cameras and by placing them overlooking our mineral licks we have gotten lots of pictures of nice bucks and even some black bears using the sites. In the past few years we have experimented with NoPlow, Pure Attraction and Winter-Greens. Since we have the luxury of using all of the farm equipment we have gone away from the No-Plow and have been using Winter-Greens and this year we also tried the Pure Attraction. These products have all worked well, especially to draw in the deer later on in the year. Before we started using the Whitetail Institute products all the deer would leave the farm in the winter months and seek out areas where food was easier to access. However, after a few years of having Whitetail Institute products planted we noticed more deer staying on the farm over the winter months. After several years of passing smaller bucks and killing more does on the farm we were poised to have our best year ever this past season. Based on our observations and trail camera pictures we had several nice bucks using the property, and the rifle season didn’t disappoint us. We took three nice bucks the first day, and my buddy was able to top all of us with his 140-3/4-inch monster taken on the first Wednesday of the season! These deer were the biggest bucks any of us have killed on the farm and we couldn’t have done it without proper nutrition and passing up the younger bucks. I’d like to thank Bob and Bobby Brown for the use of their land and farm equipment and the Whitetail Institute for distributing such great products, please keep up the good work!

Dana Reid — New York My Imperial Whitetail Clover field is on its fourth year and still in good shape. Every year I notice bigger bucks and healthier looking deer. Since starting (Continued on page 50) Vol. 18, No. 3 / WHITETAIL

NEWS 23


S C I E NT I F I C A LLY SP E A K I N G By Wayne Hanna, Agronomist and Director of Forage Research

Soil Testing Saves Money Too!

I

f you’re like most of us, you don’t have extra money to throw away. Even so, that’s what some people do when they don’t test the soil in their food plots before buying lime and fertilizer. In fact, having your soil test done through a reputable soiltesting laboratory might not only be the best way to ensure success with your food plots but save a lot of money as well. Use a soil-test kit that sends the soil to a laboratory for analysis: As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure,” and in this case, that ounce of prevention is to perform a proper soil test through a lab. Cheap, do-ityourself slurry or probe testers cannot tell you exactly how much lime to add in a given situation, and most don’t measure soil nutrient levels or recommend fertilizers. If you want to eliminate waste from your lime and fertilizer budget, the only way is to know exactly how much lime you need, what blend of fertilizer, and how much of it to apply. High quality soil-test kits are available through most farm supply stores, agricultural universities, county agents and the Whitetail Institute. When to test your soil: If possible, try to test your soil several months before planting. That will give your lime more time to increase soil pH. Also, lime and fertilizer are getting more expensive, so test your soil not only before you plant but any time you are considering buying lime and fertilizer for an established field if you want to avoid spending more than you really need to. Taking the soil sample: Keep in mind that you will only be sending in about one pound of dirt, and that pound of dirt must represent all the soil in the plot in which the forage plants will be growing. Use one soil-test kit per plot location, even if two plots are close to each other. It is amazing how widely varied soils can be even in the same general area. Using a shovel or trowel, take soil from one to six inches deep and put the soil into a clean container. Then, repeat at 10 to 20 locations around the site. After you have placed all the soil into the container, thoroughly mix them together and put about a pint of the composite sample into the soil-test pouch. Be sure to thoroughly and accurately complete the information requested on the sample sheet and soil pouch. The accuracy of the lab’s recommendations depends on it. Three of the most important items of information you need to provide are the name of the plot the sample came from, the forage you will be planting or maintaining, and whether you want a recommendation for “establishment” (to plant the forage) or “maintenance” (of an existing planting). The Whitetail Institute soil-test kit also includes a pre-addressed envelope for you to use to mail your sample to their lab. If you will be testing more than one plot, it can be a good idea to seal each soil

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pouch and completed sample sheet in its own envelope and ship them together in the same box. That way, you’ll know that all the samples arrived at the lab and that they arrived at the same time. Reading the soil-testing laboratory report: The two most important things your soil-test report will tell you relate to soil pH and nutrient levels. You should address both soil pH and nutrient levels if the plants are to grow optimally. The Whitetail Institute soil-test report will tell you whether you need to add lime to increase soil pH, and if so, how much. It will also tell you exactly how much nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) you might need to add, and it will provide alternative fertilizers based on commonly available blends. If you can’t find any of the recommended blends, you can usually come pretty close with a combination of available fertilizers if you know what the numbers separated by

dashes on the front of blended fertilizer bags mean. In order from left to right, they represent the percentage of N, P and K in the bag. For example, a fertilizer labeled as “5-10-15” is 5 percent N, 10 percent P and 15 percent K. That means 100 pounds of that blend would contain 5 pounds of N, 10 pounds of P and 15 pounds of K. Remember, if you want to avoid excess expenditures when planting a new forage or maintaining an existing one, it's important to test your soil through a reputable soil-testing laboratory anytime you are considering buying lime or fertilizer. And be sure to provide the information requested on the submission form and soil pouch as accurately and completely as possible. It is a small investment of time and money that can yield major benefits for you as a savvy land manager. W

Doing a soil test is one of the most important steps for successful food plots and can save a lot of money too.

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What Whitetails Love to Eat

Long-running private study reveals answer By Charles J. Alsheimer Photos by the Author

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BACKGROUND

F

ive years ago, I wrote an article for Whitetail News titled "The Cat’s out of the Bag." The article dealt with the forage preference study I’ve conducted at my whitetail deer behavioral research facility on our farm in western New York. At the time, the research centered on whitetails’ preferences for three forages: clover, chicory and brassica. Since then, we’ve expanded the study to include several other forages. What we’ve discovered is very interesting.

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In addition to writing and photographing whitetails, I’ve spent the past 30 years researching their behavior — everything from rutting to food preferences. In 1995, I expanded this research by constructing a 35-acre high-fenced research enclosure on my 200-acre farm. The enclosure is divided into 25- and 10-acre sections connected with gates. This division lets me conduct isolated studies. The facility has a variety of habitats including open mast-producing hardwoods, brush lots, a running stream, a pond, an apple orchard and 10 food plots containing various forages. The enclosure’s deer population is kept to 15 whitetails. No hunting is allowed in the facility, and the herd’s population is kept low through non-hunting methods. Several behavioral studies have continued since the facility was built. One of the more interesting studies, started in 1998, deals with what natural and planted forages whitetails prefer to eat. The whitetail’s natural-food-preference study is in its 10th year. The plantedfood-preference study started in 2001 and is modeled after the natural-habitat analysis. To conduct any study on food preferences in whitetails, you must have habituated or semi-habituated deer. Wild whitetails will not work because you must be able to observe deer from close quarters in nearly natural settings. Some might argue that such studies can be done with the aid of utilization cages. However, after attempting this method for several years, I concluded that utilization cages might tell you how hard a forage is being hit, but they cannot tell you where that food ranks on a deer’s preference list. KEY TO THE STUDY To determine a whitetail’s true preference for specific forages, deer must have a variety of planted and natural foods available. If a variety of food isn't available, any semblance of preference does not exist because deer will eat whatever is available. So, when it comes to the study of preference, having variety is a vital key. ROLE OF NATURAL FOODS Each deer consumes about 1.5 to 2 tons of food per year. The percentage of this food that comes from planted and natural sources is dependent on the habitat of a deer’s home range. In my area, the percentage of farmland to natural habitat is about even. So, about half of a whitetail’s diet should come from natural habitat and the other half from cropland or food plots. To have healthy whitetails, it's critical they have a balanced diet, and without ample preferred browse, that's difficult. With this in mind, I’ve provided natural browse to my deer on a near daily basis to balance what they eat from food plots and the supplemental feed they are provided. In the beginning, I noticed that deer sought certain browse brought to them. That got my attention so much so that in 1998, I had a local welder construct several racks to hold the various browse species I offered my deer. By placing various natural species in the rack’s individual holders, I identified the browse species they preferred most. When the various browse species are placed in the racks, the setup resembles a salad bar. Presenting the browse species that way lets deer indicate which browse species they prefer. Through the years, I've witnessed my whitetail’s reaction to more than 50 natural browse species. When I discover a browse that deer particularly prefer, I have it analyzed by an independent lab for crude protein and fiber. Though much of what I've observed has meshed with published biological reports, there have been some surprises. As reported in my original piece, the biggest surprise deals with the notion that whitetails have the innate ability to select the most nutritious foods. Through the study, I've disproved that theory through lab analyses. I've discovered that many of the browse species deer prefer are not as nutritious as some of the non-preferred browse species, at least from a crude protein and fiber standpoint. For example, the No. 1 preferred browse species for whitetails in western New York during winter is apple, which has a crude protein/fiber level of 4.2 percent and 19.7 percent, respectively. American Beech (considered a starvation food by many biologists) is 4.3 percent/23.6 percent in winter. Though their nutritional values are about the same during that time, most deer will not eat American Beech unless forced to. The bottom line is that like people, deer do not always eat what is best for

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WHITETAIL NEWS 27


them. Rather, they eat what they like best. Fortunately, most of what deer prefer is very good for them. FORAGE PREFERENCE During the early part of this decade, the interest generated from the natural-food study made me take a close look at some of the forages marketed for whitetail consumption. At the time, clover, chicory, alfalfa, soybeans, rye, wheat, brassica and corn were favorites among the deer hunter/land managers I knew. Believing my deer would show me which forage they most preferred, I set out to see what I could learn. To allow for better comparison, I planted the forages to be studied very close to each other so deer would have equal access to the offerings. As the project progressed, I experimented by planting several small plots with a mixture of clover and chicory to see how the deer responded. The past eight years have been fascinating and have let me observe which forage my deer prefer. Clover: As I reported in 2004, none of the forages I tested came close to rivaling Imperial Whitetail Clover from May through September. Then, as today, it remains the No. 1 forage choice in the study. However, as good as Imperial is, it stops growing around Oct. 15 on my place. It’s still available but goes dormant. Because of that, it's important to have other forages kick in when clover goes dormant and cold weather arrives. Before describing late-season preferences, I’ll touch on the other warm-season favorites. Chicory: In the initial study, I offered our deer chicory and brassica. Chicory is a viable offering from June through December — but substantially less than clover.

Chicory is a great complement to clover. It is a perennial, so it will continue to grow from year to year and is drought resistant. This is one of the reasons why Chicory Plus (Imperial Clover and chicory) has become so popular with our whitetails, not to mention the hundreds of food-plot practitioners from across America who have had great success with it. Extreme: When Steve Scott told me the Whitetail Institute was coming out with a new product that was drought resistant and could grow in marginal soils, I was skeptical. It sounded too good to be true. Soon after the Institute’s initial offering, I planted a quarteracre plot of Extreme inside my research facility to see what the enclosure’s deer thought of it. After the plants were big enough to get the attention of deer, they began devouring it — so much so that I expanded the plot’s size. Analysis showed that the Extreme offering was getting nearly as much attention as the Imperial Clover plots. The spring after my initial planting, I increased the size of the food plot and experimented by frost seeding Imperial Clover into the Extreme plot. My reasoning was based solely on my deer’s attraction to the separate Imperial Clover and Extreme plots. This proved to be a bit of an eye-opener, because the plot quickly became the most preferred plot in the enclosure. It didn’t matter what time of day I went to the enclosure to work; there was always at least one deer feeding in it. Needless to say, when visitors came to see my facility, the plot’s deer activity always generated interest because folks wanted to know what I had planted in it. After I saw the way our research deer were responding to the Extreme/Imperial Clover blend, I began

offering the wild free-ranging deer on our farm the same blend. They responded to it the same way the enclosure deer did. The blend’s mixture of clover, chicory and Burnett plants turned the plot into a onedestination food plot for deer, because everything they preferred was in one location.

Deer have complex nutritional needs that change throughout the year. But because Cutting Edge meets these changing needs, it is not complex at all — in fact it’s very simple. Thanks to our extensive research and development, getting the right supplements to your deer herd at the right time is as easy as opening a bag and creating a ground site or mixing with other feed such as corn or beans. Devour flavor enhancer is included in the Cutting Edge formula to make sure the deer find and frequently use this state-of-the-art supplement.

800-688-3030 whitetailinstitute.com

The Whitetail Institute ®

239 Whitetail Trail Pintlala, AL 36043

“Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

Research = Results

Late winter to mid-spring — When bucks are regrowing their antlers and doe are entering the tird trimester of pregnancy, Initiate meets their increased need for protein, energy, minerals and vitamins that early spring vegetation is not yet able to provide.

Late spring through summer — During this period deer need a specific array of vitamins and minerals to support continued antler growth and lactation. Optimize is the perfect blend of nutrients to maintain a healthy herd during this crucial period.

Fall through early winter — Cold weather, food shortages and the stresses of he rut make fall and winter a difficult time for deer heards. Sustain provides the protein, energy, vitamins and minerals necessary to bring the herd through this difficult period.

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Winter-Greens pack a lot of nutrition and grow tall enough to stay above the snow line until they are gone. Deer will flock to the Winter-Greens plots when winter sets in.

GREAT LATE SEASON FOOD Winter-Greens: I offer brassica food plots to deer for winter feed. Though I know some plant brassica for year-round use, our deer will not touch it until it has been subjected to several frosts. This causes the plant’s starches to covert to sugars, which helps make it attractive to deer. During the years I have tested and used Winter-Greens, my deer have not used it until it has been subjected to a few frosts. In most cases, this has been mid-November. Not only do the plants pack a lot of nutrition, but they also grow tall enough to stay above the snow line until they are gone. Deer will flock to the Winter-Greens plots when winter sets in. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE? Rye/Wheat/Oats: When I was a child growing up on a potato farm, my grandfather and father used rye or wheat as a cover crop after our potatoes were harvested. Not only were the rye and wheat great cover crops, but deer loved them, too. I’ve experimented with both, as well as oats, in our research facility, and have found that deer will use each heavily during the transition period between the time clover goes dormant and brassicas or corn kick in. Buckwheat: As a seminar speaker, I get asked a lot about a whitetail’s preference for buckwheat. The short answer is that they love it during August, when it's in bloom. During that time, you can’t keep them out of a buckwheat plot. Unfortunately, this annual is a 30-day wonder, and then it is gone. For that reason, I do not rank it very high for food-plot possibilities. Corn: Corn ranks with the best when it comes to a northern whitetail’s winter food preference. After December rolls around, any standing cornfield will be a magnet in my country. I’ve experimented a lot with corn in my research facility, and it's as good as it gets when it comes to winter food preference. In short, my whitetails go to corn like a child runs to candy after the snow begins falling. Unfortunately, corn has a downside when it comes to whitetails. For starters, it's expensive to plant (equipment, seed, fertilizer and spray), and the soil needs to be 6.2 pH or better. Also, because corn is highly preferred by birds, squirrels, raccoons, black bears and many other critters, there often isn’t a lot left for deer to use after it matures. So, as good as corn can be, it's not always practical. The Others: This includes alfalfa, soybeans, sunflowers and peas. As of this writing, I’ve not studied how deer respond to these and other popular offerings. Based on what I know about them, my initial response is that my research deer would probably prefer all. However, I can only speculate about the order of preference. In future years, I intend to find out. This being said, I know that when it comes to ranking everything I’ve tested, nothing comes close to the love my whitetails have for clover. And of the hundreds of clover blends on the market, I’ve not found one to rival Imperial Whitetail. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

Vol. 18, No. 3 / WHITETAIL

NEWS 29


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

Integrated Weed Management —

the only way to control troublesome weeds in food plots

M

y career as an agronomist and weed scientist requires that I be knowledgeable of the research conducted by my predecessors. This familiarity influences the direction of my research projects. In the context of weeds, the species that were common and troublesome to farmers a half-century ago are rarely a problem in the now. Conversely, the troublesome weeds we encounter today were rarely encountered decades ago. Weed populations and species diversity are very dynamic, and this is certainly the case in food plots. We control one species, and others quickly fill the vacant niche. No rest for the weary. It has been my experience that the successors to the easily controlled weeds are usually a nightmare to control. For five years, I had a series of food plots in a creek bottom in southern Georgia. Early on, the weeds were mainly crabgrass and ragweed — both easily controlled with Arrest and Slay. By the time I had to find a different place to hunt, the food plot was infested with an array of weeds that I had never seen before — anywhere. Furthermore, the herbicides at my disposal did not control any of the mystery weeds. I am betting that many of you have similar stories, regardless of your location. Under these circumstances, it is prudent to step back and re-evaluate the entire food plot system you use. Avoid the temptation to focus solely on more or different herbicides. Instead, develop a balanced, integrated weed management system of cultural, physical, and chemical controls to manage the troublesome weeds that challenge our intellect and bruise our pride. CULTURAL WEED CONTROL. Any crop production practice that enhances crop growth and uniformity also improves the ability of the crop to compete with weeds. This is true for any crop. Another way of describing this relationship is equally relevant: If a crop is not growing normally or uniformly, there is a parallel weed control problem. Uniform crop growth is the single most powerful form of weed control in any cropping system, including food plots. Forage selection, proper soil fertility (particularly pH), seedbed preparation, seeding rate, and overall growing conditions are cultural practices that provide weed control benefits of troublesome weeds. PHYSICAL WEED CONTROL. I have always called this mechanical weed control. I recently reviewed a manuscript in which the author used the phrase ’physical weed control’ and I liked that description. This refers to physically removing or destroying a weed or its propagules (seed, rhizomes, roots, etc.). Physical weed control includes tillage during site preparation or when conditioning seedbeds before planting. Mowing tall weeds in Imperial Whitetail Clover is a form of physical

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For all the numerous benefits that herbicides provide, they are not a stand-alone for successful weed control in food plots. The integrated system is far more effective than the individual components used alone. weed control, along with handweeding. Earlier I mentioned the hornet’s nest of troublesome weeds in my own food plot. One of the weeds that I did know the identity was dog fennel — a troublesome tall perennial weed. I spent a long afternoon pulling large dog fennel out of Imperial Whitetail Clover. That was my only control option. Desperation led to extraordinary measures (and a sore back). CHEMICAL WEED CONTROL. Herbicides have certainly made our lives as food plot hobbyists easier. However, there is a limited selection of herbicides available for use in food plots. Furthermore, most forage plantings are multi-species blends which limit the use of selective herbicides. Arrest can be used in many plantings for grass control. This herbicide is a consistent and reliable means to control annual and perennial grasses, which are particularly troublesome. Slay controls many broadleaf weeds in clover and alfalfa. However, sometimes the troublesome weeds are also

CHEMICAL WEED CONTROL

CULTURAL WEED CONTROL

PHYSICAL WEED CONTROL

A three-legged stool is balanced and stable. Remove one of the legs, the stool becomes unstable. A balanced weed management system relies equally on all three components.

legumes (i.e. sicklepod or coffeeweed), and Slay will not control leguminous weeds. Glyphosate (Roundup and generics) is a valuable tool, particularly for site preparation and control of perennial weeds during fallow periods. INTEGRATED WEED MANAGEMENT. For all the numerous benefits that herbicides provide, they are not a stand-alone for successful weed control in food plots. Recently, I have used the analogy of integrated weed management being a threelegged stool, each leg representing cultural, physical, and chemical weed control. The stool with three functional legs is stable. Remove any of the legs and the stool becomes unstable. The same is true with weed management in food plots. Balance is the key. Consider the perennial grass, common bermudagrass. Tillage alone will spread bermudagrass stolons and actually make the infestation worse. Glyphosate and Arrest partially control bermudagrass, but re-infestations tend to occur. An effective strategy is to weaken bermudagrass stands with tillage, followed by a properly timed application of glyphosate or Arrest. This is an example of the synergy of an integrated approach to control a troublesome weed. The integrated system is far more effective than the individual components used alone. A real-world example of an out-of-balance weed management system is staring down on commercial agriculture in the U. S. There are numerous populations of pigweeds (Amaranthus spp.) in the coastal plain, mid-south, and mid-west that are resistant to several commonly used herbicides, including glyphosate. Some pigweed populations are simultaneously resistant to three distinct families of herbicides. Pigweeds have always been common, but now they are troublesome and changing the face of commercial agriculture. In fact, this phenomenon is being compared to the boll weevil and how that pest forever changed agriculture in the south. With herbicide-resistant pigweeds, the effect could be nationwide. And, I am not being melodramatic. The factors that contributed to pigweed resistance to commonly used herbicides are conceptually simple. One factor was the nature of the weed. Pigweeds produce large amounts of seed (500,000 seed per plant), adapt to many environments, and cross-pollinate which favors genetic mutation. The other contributing factor has been the large scale change in how we manage weeds in the large acreage crops. Most of the U. S. corn, soybean, and cotton plantings are transgenic varieties that have resistance to glyphosate. Early on, the overall effectiveness and simplicity of this technology led to widespread and extended use of glyphosate alone for weed control in these crops. Together, these two factors created an acute

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selection pressure and the pigweed survivors proliferated. Commercial agriculture has a mess on its hands and one could argue that it is due to over-reliance on a narrow-focused form of weed control; i.e. trying to sit on a one-legged stool. Farmers are being advised to revert back to a more balanced form of weed management. Cultivation is more common in row crops. Deep tillage is being strategically reinstated in cropping systems to bury herbicide-resistant weed seeds deep in the profile where they cannot germinate. Wick-bar applicators are being pressed back into service. Different herbicides are being used in all crops — not just sole dependence on one herbicide family. I hope that this is not too little, too late. Desperate times lead to extraordinary measures. Last summer, I was visiting a peanut grower in southwestern Georgia. We drove by one field where the farmer had a crew of workers pulling tall pigweeds that had escaped earlier control efforts. The pigweeds were more than four feet tall. It took two grown men to pull each weed. They threw the weeds into the back of a flat-bed truck. At the end of the rows, the truck dumped the pulled weeds into the woods. I heard from others that this was repeated throughout the region. This is what happens when weed control is too narrowly focused and not balanced. While this is an extreme case, it shows what can happen with troublesome weeds if we do not use integrated weed management. Balance is the key. W

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The 2008 Buyers Survey was a huge success thanks to the overwhelming response from our customers. Once again, you have proven why you are, without a doubt, the most active and motivated group of deer hunters and land managers in the country. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedules to fill out the survey and return it to us. The information you have provided not only helps inform us on how to develop new products that fit your needs, but it also helps our editors and staff continue to provide the quality editorial you expect from the pages of Whitetail News. Now the fun part with an added special thank you to the sponsors of this year’s survey, here are the winners of the 2008 Buyers Survey Giveaway and the prizes they have won: JASON HIPSHER — Illinois — Kolpin Gun Boot RANDY MUELLER — Wisconsin — Knight Muzzleloader GARY LANDRY — Louisiana — Summit Hot Dot Sight BILL CRONER — Pennsylvania — Knight and Hale Game Call SCOTT WILLIAMS — New York — 3D Post PHILIP SHOOK — Mississippi — Carry Lite Decoy Again, thank you for returning the surveys and for providing the invaluable information. Though I and the staff here at Whitetail News will have to spend a few more hours reviewing this year’s survey than anticipated, know that we will gladly do so. Your willingness to provide your thoughts, ideas, and critical information will help make Whitetail News even better. Sincerely, Wade Atchley, Advertising Director, Whitetail News Prizes were furnished by these fine manufacturers:

Vol. 18, No. 3 / WHITETAIL

NEWS 31


Set Up A

PERENNIAL MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE For Longer-Lasting Plantings By Jon Cooner

O

ne of the biggest benefits of Imperial perennial blends is that they’re designed to last up to five years without replanting. Helping them last as long as possible isn’t hard. It just requires a little maintenance. In this article, we’ll look at how to set up an effective maintenance schedule. You can read a much more detailed version of this article, including examples of what a perennial maintenance plan looks like, in the web version of this article, available online at www.whitetailinstitute.com/info/planting/maintenance.pdf.

ARREST FOR GRASS CONTROL IN IMPERIAL PERENNIALS — YOUR NO. 1 MAINTENANCE PRIORITY The foregoing quotation is one of the many things the Institute’s former director of plant breeding, Dr. Wiley Johnson, hammered into our heads. The best way to control grass is with selective grass herbicides such as the Institute’s Arrest™ herbicide product. Like other small-weed herbicides, Arrest offers the best control of “seedling” grasses (grass that is actively growing but has not yet matured to more than 6 to 12 inches). MOWING IMPERIAL PERENNIALS Our maintenance instructions for all Imperial perennials include mowing them a few times in spring and summer, and maybe again in early fall. Mowing helps keep energy and nutrients in the forage plants and can also help with weed control. Generally, you should mow whenever you see one of two things: (1) the forage plants or upright weeds look like they’re getting ready to put on seed heads, or (2) the plot reaches a height of about 10 to 12 inches. If you can’t mow until after they flower, though, still do so as soon as possible, because mowing will yield other benefits, such as thickening the forage plants at their lower levels. Mow the forage plants to about 4 to 6 inches tall in spring and summer, and try not to wait until the forage gets more than about 12 to 14 inches tall before you mow. If you wait too long and your forage is taller than about 12 inches when you’re ready to mow, reduce the height a couple of inches the first time you mow, wait a few weeks for the plants to recover, and then mow a little bit lower. Try to mow the plot a few times in spring and summer. Finally, do not mow when conditions are excessively hot or there is a drought, or within a couple of weeks before or after you spray herbicides.

STEP-BY-STEP PLANNING Let’s look at each maintenance step and the specific order in which you should set the dates to perform them. PERENNIAL MAINTENANCE STEPS Now, let’s look at why the dates for each maintenance step should be set in the order shown. Grass control is the most important maintenance step to time properly.

“When it comes to maintaining perennial food plots, grass control is your number one priority. The best time to spray Arrest to control grass depends on the age of the grass. For best results with Arrest, spray after grasses have started to actively grow and, for best results, before it matures to more than about 6 to 12 inches tall.” — Dr. C. Wiley Johnson 32

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

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SLAY FOR BROADLEAF-WEED CONTROL IN IMPERIAL WHITETAIL CLOVER As mentioned, many upright annual weeds can be controlled well by mowing. If you waited too long to mow and let your weeds flower, or if you have other broadleaf weeds that mowing didn’t tackle, you might have another option if you’re maintaining Imperial Whitetail Clover or any other clover or alfalfa. That option is the Institute’s Slay herbicide. Slay is designed to control most broadleaf weeds, and it can be sprayed on Imperial Whitetail Clover and any other clover or alfalfa. However, it should not be used on any other Imperial forage because it will damage one or more of their components. For optimum results, spray Slay just before spring green-up or a few weeks after. Like Arrest, Slay offers optimum control of young weeds. However, it also contains something Arrest doesn’t: a “preemergent.” That means it’s designed to provide optimum results not only if sprayed when weeds are actively growing but also if it’s sprayed just before spring green-up, before broadleaf weeds reappear. The pre-emergent in Slay also helps Slay continue to control many weeds well after spraying. Remember, our perennial-maintenance schedule is based on the date we plan to spray Arrest to control grass. Slay applications should be timed so they are done at least three days before or after any Arrest application. Also, don’t spray Slay (or any other herbicide) within two weeks before or after mowing, or when conditions are excessively hot or when there is a drought. For additional critical information on Slay, the full article, the Slay label and a FAQ visit www.whitetailinstitute.com. SOIL TESTING Performing a proper soil test through a professional soil-testing laboratory is the only way to determine exactly what your soil pH and nutrient levels are and how much lime and fertilizer you must buy. Most folks already do a good job of testing their soil before they plant. But when you consider how much the costs of lime and fertilizer have increased the past year, you see how important it is to test your soil any time you are considering buying lime or fertilizer. Use a soil-test kit that sends the soil to a lab for testing. The cheap do-ityourself slurry or probe testers might not give you the detailed or consistently accurate readings you will get with a lab test. Also they don’t tell you exactly how much lime or fertilizer you need. Be sure to identify the forage you’ll be maintaining on the soil-test submission form so the lab can precisely tailor its recommendations. Try to perform your soil test far enough in advance so you won’t be rushed when your schedule says it’s time to lime and fertilize. Usually, a month before is sufficient. LIMING AND FERTILIZING These maintenance steps are very important. Like our other maintenance recommendations, they should not be skipped. Soil pH is perhaps the most critical factor when it comes to the overall health of any plant. In simple terms, soil pH is a direct measurement of how well your forage plants will be able to uptake nutrients from the soil. Likewise, plants need food just like any other living thing, and you feed them by adding fertilizer to the plot every year. Timing lime and fertilizer applications is not as critical as timing grass control. Accordingly, the dates you set in your maintenance schedule to lime and fertilize should depend on when you plan to do the other maintenance steps. Apply any additional needed lime at almost any time. Apply fertilizer when plants are actively growing, but when the foliage is dry. Generally, most folks lime and fertilize in spring or fall. The only requirements for timing fertilizer applications are: (1) the plants should be actively growing, (2) the plants should not be in stress, such as just after mowing, and the foliage should not be damp, which might make the fertilizer stick to the leaves, and (3) if possible, leave a few weeks between lime and fertilizer applications. For additional details on this subject, visit www.whitetailinstitute.com. As you can see, maintaining an Imperial perennial isn’t hard. But you must follow the steps. Once you understand how to set up a perennial-forage maintenance schedule you can cover all the bases efficiently and economically. And remember, order your soil test kits early so that you’ll have them on hand as you start maintaining your plots. Again, if you would like to read more, a much more detailed version of this article is available at www.whitetailinstitute.com/info/planting/maintenance.pdf. Also, our in-house consultants are available at (800) 688-3030 to answer any questions you might have. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

Vol. 18, No. 3 / WHITETAIL

NEWS 33


Brian Ingram — Illinois I began planting food plots four years ago. I began with mainly planting cover and food focused more towards pheasants. I decided I wanted to give my deer better nutrition throughout the year. I tried other brands of clover and had poor germination and they were slow growing. The deer didn’t seem to care for them as well either. The following year, I was not happy with the clover so I decided to plant a test plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover to see how the deer responded to it. I was amazed at how the deer kept the clover “mowed off.” They were in it all season long, from early summer to even after the snow was on the ground. The following year I planted another plot of Imperial Clover. Once again I was shocked with the quality of the clover; this year was very dry and hot in the Midwest, and I was worried the clover would not do well. By the end of the summer, the clover looked as thick and as lush as the clover I had planted the previous year. Overall, I have been amazed by how tolerant the clover is to drought and how much the deer eat it. This year I have seen more quality bucks on my hunting ground, and I feel a major part of it is due to the quality of food they are provided. I have seen many great deer this year, and there was one in particular I had my sights set on. I have been watching this deer for the past three years; during that time I have found his sheds and got trail camera pictures of him. Late this past summer I got a trail camera picture of him on a creek crossing that leads into one of my Imperial Whitetail Clover plots. I also got one of him entering one of my Imperial Whitetail Clover plots. I couldn’t believe the mass and tine length the deer had developed since the previous year. He was huge! On Dec. 8, during our muzzleloader season, I got to see the buck again at 35 yards. I shot him with my muzzleloader and I waited about five minutes and walked to the spot where he was standing and immediately saw a big spot of blood next to two “four finger” tracks. I felt the shot was good but I didn’t want 36

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to take any chances, so I decided to wait for one hour before I looked for him. I was so wound up, I only made it to 40 minutes, the rain was beginning to pick up and I didn’t want to take the chance of losing his blood trail due to the rain. We tracked him about 85 yards before we found him; he made it back to the edge of the timber, just out of sight from where I shot him at. He was a monster! I never thought I would get the opportunity to harvest him. I had high hopes of getting him, but I never really thought I had a chance. It was the end to a long three years of watching this deer and finding his sheds. He is my biggest buck ever and ended up being fourteen points, and gross scored 203-7/8. P.S. I found out since killing him that my neighbors got several trail camera pictures of him on their Imperial Clover plot too.

Steven Brunner — Indiana

Kevin Brown — Michigan In the winter of 2005 I purchased a 30-acre parcel, mostly hardwoods, from a local farmer. I immediately planted two food plots. I planted a narrow strip of Imperial Whitetail Clover along the north edge of the woods and a plot of Alfa-Rack Plus at the west end. I had the property logged this past winter and last spring I cleared some openings in the woods and prepared the ground for planting. In September I planted two small food plots of Pure Attraction in those openings. One November morning at about 9:30 a.m. I looked over my left shoulder and there he was. A giant 8-point. After several tense minutes I was able to release the arrow and it buried deep in his chest. And after several tense hours of waiting and searching I found him and I dropped to my knees and thanked God. The giant 8-point green scored 150-2/8 inches and dressed out at 175 pounds. We guessed the deer to be between 6 and 7 years old. He was truly the buck of a lifetime.

Arnold Porach — New York It was Sunday morning on the second day of shotgun season in southeastern Indiana. I had been stalking an absolute monster buck for three seasons that I had never seen in the daylight. I only knew he existed through the signs he left in my woods in Ripley County, Indiana and from several photographs that I obtained with my infrared night camera. This unique animal exhibited such a massive spread that he became admiringly known as “the moose.” I had literally thousands of hours (or at least it seemed like thousands) working on permanent stands, cultivating Imperial Whitetail Clover, and numerous other deer management projects. About 7:45 a.m. I saw a monster buck coming at me setting his pace at a slow trot. I glanced briefly at his rack, and noted that it was unbelievably “wide.” After that I was looking strictly at the “kill zone” and not the rack. This opportunity manifested itself into a 25-yard shot broadside. About 20 minutes later as I approached this animal, I became so ecstatic that I almost hyperventilated when I saw it was the prodigious buck that I had been stalking for three years! “It’s the Moose!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. “It’s the Moose! I’ve killed the Moose!” Yes, this was the day I had been dreaming of! This was the day I’d been praying for! The 20-pointer grossed more than 193 inches and netted 187-1/8. I would like to thank the Whitetail Institute for all its superior products, help, research and advice! This day will live forever in my heart. I would like to especially thank Jesus for his favor, for this day, and for this harvest! This buck has truly proven to be, “my buck of a lifetime.”

The first two years after we purchased the 160-acre property in upstate New York we started to clean it up and open it up. We had it logged to let more sun in and turned the logging roads into food plots and four wheeler roads. We also had to post the property because every deer was shot at whether it was a button buck or spike. Plus too many hunters. Then we started to put in food plots of Imperial Clover, fruit trees and acorn trees (oaks). The next few years we noticed bigger deer as our food plots expanded and more deer, as the deer stayed on the property. But come hunting season most of the www.whitetailinstitute.com


ucts have helped our property. Thanks Whitetail Institute for great products at reasonable prices that the average guy can afford that will help his family have good hunting on a small 90-acre piece of property. Imperial Clover was being eaten, so we added WinterGreens. That did the trick. They didn’t touch it till the first frost which came with the opening of deer season. Enclosed is a picture of one of our food plots and a picture of a 158-inch 11-point my son Arnold Jr. took.

Tony Atwood — Minnesota I planted NoPlow a week before the farmer would harvest the crops whether it was corn or soybeans. I would spread the seeds in a fairly large circle. From there I would fertilize the heck out of it and by the time the rut would come around the No-Plow mixture would be about 4 inches tall or so, sometimes taller depending on rainfall. The soil I was planting the No-Plow in was not the best, a lot of sand and shade from the trees. But it works every year! This is what I shot this 9-point, 146 class buck off of during the first week of November. I planted Winter-Greens on a long narrow food plot along with another brassica product. I was talking to a Whitetail Institute rep earlier that year and he told me if I really want to know which one works better to let the deer tell me. So I planted half in the other brand and half in Winter-Greens. That whole late season I watched numerous deer (totaling around 60) walk literally right through the so called competitor to eat the Winter-Greens. I can’t recall a single deer stopping and grazing off the other product. If that isn’t proof of which product is made and designed for deer I don’t know what is. That year I shot a 9-point buck missing four tines and he still scored 120.

Eric Proshuto — Iowa I was given the opportunity to harvest my greatest whitetail in 21 years of hunting. On top of that it was my very first harvest with a longbow! Our property became a magnet for bucks and does alike, after we planted seven acres of Alfa-Rack Plus and 2 acres of I m p e r i a l Whitetail Clover. This was the last equation in our QDM program. We had the bedding cover, the browse, the sanctuaries, and www.whitetailinstitute.com

the water and after planting, we had the highly palatable, high protein food plots (thank you Whitetail Institute). This brute was on the trail of a hot doe that had passed by 15 minutes earlier. He was bird dogging this doe on our farm because… well… that’s where almost all the does in our neighborhood hang out now. He was in the same tracks she had just put down along the edge of the Alfa Rack Plus. I gave a fairly loud baaaahht to stop him. The buck is a buck of a lifetime. I gave thanks to God for this magnificent animal and for the opportunity to experience the hunt and the harvest. I can’t wait to see what the results of the high protein content will do for the antler growth over the next 5 years. Thanks to Whitetail Institute for helping me put the exclamation mark on our QDM program. Also, thanks to Whitetail Institute for having the dedication to producing top notch products for those of us practicing QDM!

Steve Carper — West Virginia

I’ve used your 30-06 Mineral for four years. I’ve noticed heavier mass on bucks. Also noticed healthier overall deer both bucks and doe’s. I harvested a beautiful dark horned 14-point buck with a bow. Gross score 154 Pope and Young points. Well above average deer for my area of southern West Virginia. Thanks Whitetail Institute for your products.

Mike Dougherty — Illinois

Gerry Rice — Kentucky I killed this buck last season with a bow. I saw the buck coming from about 400 yards away across a hilltop on a fence line. He was on his way to a Chicory PLUS plot but when he got about 15 yards away he got his parking pass to my wall. He is my best bow kill yet. He is a mainframe 10 with seven other points on beams and bases. I hunt a farm that is 197 acres. About 70 are wooded and thanks to Whitetail Institute products the deer like to stay close to my plots. I started hunting the farm four years ago and I did not see a lot of deer or turkey but since using Imperial Whitetail Clover and Chicory PLUS and letting the deer reach three or four years old there has been an increase in the number and quality of deer. The deer destroy my plots. I cannot wait till next spring to add more Whitetail Institute products. Thank you Whitetail Institute.

Scott Pflaumer — Ohio I have used Imperial Whitetail Clover, 30-06 and Cutting Edge for many years, they tear it up. I shot my biggest buck to date. 10-point 1551/8 Pope and Young with a 24inch outside spread, live weight 277 lbs. There is no doubt that Whitetail Institute prod-

I think Imperial Whitetail Clover is the best food plot product you can plant. I will always have Whitetail Clover on the farm. The deer also liked Chicory PLUS and I will also continue to use it too. I also use Pure Attraction for late season hunting and during the rut. I have seen it work very well and will continue to use it. Enclosed is a 187-3/8-inch net Boone & Crockett taken on my 66acre farm last year. The food plots are a big part of what makes my place a whitetail paradise.

Clayton Kruse — Wisconsin Deer and turkey come to Imperial Whitetail Clover year round. We hold deer in areas better since we started using Imperial Clover. I have ta-ken two 140-plus bucks with my bow. The deer loved the Chicory PLUS, too. W

Send Us Your Photos!

Do you have a photo of a buck that qualifies for the Pope & Young, Boone and Crockett or your state record books that you grew or 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. 18, No. 3 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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The Right 40 Many hunters wrongly believe they must own hundreds or thousands of acres of land to successfully manage whitetails, but in truth the right 40 acres or less might be better than the surrounding land combined. By Joe Blake Photos by the Author

I

t was Nov. 12, and it was cold; in fact, at 19 degrees it was the coldest morning I could remember while bow-hunting in Kansas during the past decade. Despite the time of year and perfect conditions, the local bucks were not cooperating. For nearly a week, I had been spending every hour of daylight in the woods to no avail, but I had an ace up my sleeve. Situated along a heavily-wooded creek bottom is a 20-acre farmstead I’ve been fortunate to hunt for several years, and although it might not look it as you drive past, it is a big buck Mecca. The land features heavy oak woods along the creek to the east and an 838

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acre stock dam on the northern side, plus a good patch of timber to the west. However, what surrounds the parcel is what makes it such a hotspot. Across the gravel road to the south is a huge, heavily-wooded ridge, and a half-mile north across an open pasture is a huge, impenetrable valley of timber. Both are whitetail havens that harbor good numbers of deer and impressive numbers of giant bucks. The 20-acre piece in the middle is the glue that bonds the area and its whitetails together. At 7 a.m., I heard the door open and close at the rancher’s house up the hill and soon the thunderous

rumble of his old Chevy pickup as he left home for the short drive to his feedlot for his morning cattle chores. The close proximity to the rancher’s house forces most hunters to ignore this spot, but the volume of deer sign that funnels along the creek below the home site belies the exceptional hunting there. With any west wind, it's as close to a sure thing as I’ve seen in the deer woods. By 9 a.m., the sun was warming the countryside a bit, and I stood to stretch the knots from my legs and back. That’s when I heard it; the unmistakable sound of an amorous buck. Scanning up the creek, I immediwww.whitetailinstitute.com


ately saw a small, nervous-looking doe drop down into the dense thicket to the north. Behind her, shadowing her movements, was the buck of a lifetime. Although only a mainframe 4-by-4, this whitetail looked like a big muley, with deep forks on his G-2s and incredibly tall tines. With eye-popping mass and an inside spread approaching 20 inches, I figured the deer would gross in the 170s, but luring him away from that sweet doe would be a problem. At one point, the doe stood almost directly beneath my boots, and I eased my longbow into position for a shot. But as quickly as she arrived, she swapped ends and rocketed back down into the thick cover along the oxbow, where the creek made a sweeping bend; and the buck cut her off again without presenting a shot. Finally, the doe had enough of this courtship and quietly slipped into the cold waters of the creek and swam across. From my elevated perch, I clearly saw her escape, but from ground level, in thick cover, the buck never knew his sweetheart had abandoned him. Now was my chance. I watched the buck bird-dog back and forth along the creek. I could almost see his frustration at the loss of his girlfriend, so I quietly eased my deer call out of my pocket and let loose one, long, plaintive bawl. That’s all it took. The buck snapped his head around like he was stung by a hornet and immediately began trotting toward me, and as I tracked his progress over the hand cradling my longbow, it appeared this monster would soon be mine.

Performance.

THE MODERN SCENE Nowadays, deer hunting and deer management cannot be separated because they go hand-in-hand for hunters across the country. Unfortunately, land values have skyrocketed, leaving most would-be landowners frustrated to say the least. In Minnesota, where I live, you could have your pick of the finest hunting land for $300 to $400 per acre as recently as a dozen years ago, but now it’s often 10 times that price — sometimes more. What these escalating land values have done is effectively priced most of us out of the market — or has it?

Deformance.

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This trophy whitetail spent a good portion of the year hiding out on a small Minnesota hobby farm often feeding on hay bales with the horses during harsh winter months. www.whitetailinstitute.com

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Vol. 18, No. 3 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

39


The author arrowed this massive whitetail on a small piece of land in west-central Minnesota. The deer field-dressed more than 230 pounds.

Features

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

Obviously, it would be nice to own several hundred acres of prime whitetail habitat to hunt and manage as you saw fit. That way, you could build and control your own private deer herd by restricting access and harvest. But as mentioned, this is seldom possible anymore. Does this mean you must relegate yourself to hunting overcrowded public land? No. What many hunters fail to realize is they can purchase smaller, more affordable tracts of land and manage them effectively. You don’t need hundreds of acres to successfully manage game. In fact, the right 40 acres or even less might be better than the surrounding property combined. First, you must acknowledge that on a small tract, you will not be able to hold deer all the time. Whitetails can travel considerable distances, especially during the rut, so you can’t expect them to stay on your smaller acreage all year. However, there are lots of improvements you can make to your land, no matter its size, that will make the property more attractive to deer and other game. Regardless of the property's size, deer need three basic things to survive: food, water and cover. Give them those necessities, and you will improve your land and your hunting. The 20-acre property mentioned at the beginning of this article is a perfect example. The heavy oak woods along the creek and along the western end of this small piece offer thick security cover and acorns in the fall. Along with the mast crop, there are several apple trees and an 8-acre stock dam that holds water even in the driest years. So although the piece is very small, it's attractive to whitetails and offers excellent hunting. This Kansas acreage reminds me of a small Minnesota hotspot I used to hunt quite a bit. It consist-

ed of a good-sized cattail slough that provided deer with plenty of water and cover, and a small oak woodlot that offered cover and mast crops along with a couple of heavily-laden apple trees. Although the ground wasn’t larger than 40 acres, I always saw good numbers of deer there, and few other hunters even slowed down as they drove past en route to bigger and “better” areas. Several years ago on a cold, blustery lateOctober day, I arrowed a brute whitetail that fielddressed at more than 230 pounds and carried a massive 8-point rack, proving again that small acreages don’t necessarily mean small deer. GETTING GOING So let’s say you found a small piece of ground that you want to manage. How should you start? Well, first, I like to start with a definite plan. My wife, Kim, and I recently purchased a relatively small hunting tract in Minnesota, and I started planning its improvements before we closed on the property. The tract has three year-round ponds, but also has three smaller low spots that have filled in during the year. I'm bringing in a backhoe to dig them out. Our property will have plenty of water for the deer and other wildlife. Second, the ground consists of about 75 percent heavy woods, which is predominantly oak, poplar and birch, with a couple of large apple trees. Immediately after purchasing the land, we began planting pine and spruce trees for wind protection and thermal cover, and we’ve planted nearly another dozen apple trees to provide fruit for critters. Further, we have established four mineral sites in www.whitetailinstitute.com


areas of the heaviest cover, where the deer spend most of their time. We keep them filled with Imperial 30-06, 30-06 Plus Protein and Imperial Cutting Edge to make sure deer and other game get the nutrition they need, even when extreme conditions hamper natural food supplies. Finally, on the 25 percent of the land that's open, we plan to establish food plots: Imperial Whitetail Clover on the lower, heavier ground, and Imperial Alfa-Rack Plus and Imperial Extreme where the ground is higher and well drained. Even though we won’t have enough ground to keep the deer and turkeys there all day, year-round, our property will be so attractive that game will spend a considerable amount of time there, and whitetails from surrounding properties will visit regularly. Obviously, it's not only possible to manage smaller tracts for quality hunting, it would be foolish not to.

The author freshens a mineral pit on his Minnesota farm during the hunting season. Keeping pits active throughout the year is important.

THE SMALL-TRACT BRUISER As the big Kansas deer closed to within 20 yards, he reached the trail that led past my perch in the ancient oak, and I tightened my grip on my longbow’s riser. A few more steps, and he would be broadside and ready to grace my wall and freezer. He paused momentarily to scan the creek bottom before continuing on his way, but instead of turning on the trail, he inexplicably cut across the hillside through the tangle of briars and wild raspberry bushes. Try as I might, I could find no opening to release my arrow. As the brute reappeared 40 yards uphill, it was hard not to be frustrated by the unfortunate turn of bad luck. However, I knew I would get another opportunity because I was hunting the right 40. W

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.

800-688-3030 The Whitetail Institute — ®

www.whitetailinstitute.com

“Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

whitetailinstitute.com 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043 Research = Results

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Winter-Greens a Winner in Wisconsin By Tom Schneider Schnieder shot this 162-3/8 Pope & Young buck using quality food plots.

Photos by the Author

E

very now and then, it all works out. On Nov. 2, this past season, after the Packers lost a tough battle to Tennessee, I headed to my ground blind. The weather wasn’t as cool as I would have liked, but I gave it a shot anyway. Soon, a mature bruiser followed a doe past my stand, grunting all the way. The deer was within 10 yards, but I couldn’t get a shot. He stopped and turned when he was 25 yards away, and that proved to be his fatal mistake. This deer is my biggest bow kill. The beast rough-scored 162-3/8 Pope and Young points. He was 21 inches outside, 17-3/8 inside, and had 6-inch bases, an 11-inch G-2 and a 10-inch G-3. After using Whitetail Institute products for years, I'm convinced that bigger deer are the result of my quality food-plot management. My bow-kill was 4-1/2 or 5-1/2 years old and was one of the heaviest deer ever registered in our area. Whitetail Institute products work — period! Let me go back to two summers ago. That summer was like any other, with planting food plots and taking evening tours about the countryside checking the quality of the year’s deer herd. My partner and I own properties about one mile apart, so it’s in our interest to ride around during evenings to get a feel for what type of deer are in the area. We have planted various food plots with Imperial Alfa-Rack Plus and Imperial Whitetail Clover to grow betterquality deer, and our visits and observations during summer were similar to any other year. We saw many young and yearling bucks and a couple of respectable shooters as summer progressed. For the first time, we had saved some areas for planting Whitetail Institute’s new Imperial Winter-Greens. We liked the fact that this product becomes most attractive about the time the Wisconsin rut kicks in, in later October and early November. We planted Winter-Greens in the first or second week of August and watched it grow quickly to roughly 18 inches high. As the Winter-Greens brochure states, deer really didn’t like them immediately because

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This nice 3-year-old 140-class buck made the mistake of following a half-dozen does towards the Winter-Greens for supper.

the plants need to mature or turn sugary, somewhat like an apple does after the first freeze. After the first freeze, we immediately began seeing more activity in our Winter-Greens plots. After a few weeks, deer had some of them chewed to the ground. I had gone hunting in Michigan the first weekend in November because the Wisconsin rut really wasn’t kicking in as early as I usually see it, so I thought I would sneak one more weekend in Michigan before putting all of my energy in Wisconsin. After returning home from Michigan on a Sunday afternoon, I pulled the camera card out of my trail camera and saw four shooters anyone would hang on their wall. As my wife and I viewed the card on our home computer, our jaws dropped. “I think you better get out in the woods,� she said. I’m the type of hunter who likes to save my best stands for when the rut really gets going. I found that over-hunting an area can be a hunter’s worst mistake, so my prime stands were waiting for the perfect winds. These prime stands surrounded the Winter-Greens. The accompanying photo shows the result of the first afternoon. The nice 3-year-old 140-class buck made the mistake of following a half-dozen does towards the Winter-Greens for supper. After my partner congratulated me on what was my nicest buck yet with a bow, he came back with stories of his WinterGreens plots being torn up as if you went through them with a roto-tiller. He was sitting over the Winter-Greens food plot a few days later when a shooter came walking in to harass a handful of deer. Soon, his tag was filled too. Needless to say, we cannot say enough about Winter-Greens. It is the perfect hunting plot. It's easy to plant, fun to watch grow and attracts deer like a magnet. Not only does it attract deer to the plot at the perfect time of year, it attracts the most and best deer. We saw deer on the cameras and in person that we had not seen during summer. This was black-and-white evidence that these food plots can attract numbers of deer. Further, when a lot of deer come to the plot, they drag along the best quality deer. The Winter-Greens also showed an amazing holding power. Although it only took the deer three to four weeks to completely consume plants that stood 18 inches tall, they continued to paw and chew at the sugary stumps late into gun season and even into Wisconsin’s late bow and muzzleloader seasons. You can be sure we will plant Winter-Greens this fall along with the Whitetail Institute’s other time-proven products. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

Here’s Why Most Food Plots Fail! s9OUSOILTESTED LIMED PREPPEDTHESEEDBED ANDPLANTED"UTTHEPLOTSTILLFAILEDTO PRODUCEANYTONNAGE s4RUTHIS THEREASONFORFOODPLOTFAILURESIN THE53!IS$%%2/NCETHESEEDGERMINATES THEDEERKEEPITGRUBBEDDOWNTOTHEGROUND s!SIMPLE&OOD0LOT0ROTECTOR&ENCEWITHA 3OLAR%NERGIZERFROM'ALLAGHERWILLPROTECT YOURFOODPLOTS HOURSADAYUNTILTHEYARE WELLESTABLISHED*USTBEFOREHUNTINGSEASON TAKETHEFENCEDOWNANDTHEDEERWILLCOME BECAUSEYOUHAVETONSOFFEED%VENKEEPS HOGSOUT

Trusted Worldwide “Our fenced plot produced 6,500 lbs. per acre at a total cost of $200 – that’s 3 cents per lb.! The unfenced plot produced literally nothing!� Dr. James Kroll, Institute for Whitetail Managment & Research

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Just Released! Protecting Food Plots & Feeders, a DVD featuring Dr. James Kroll’s research showing that Food Plot Protector Fences work! Call or email for your free DVD today. Vol. 18, No. 3 /

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MYTHS AND MISUNDERSTANDINGS

Successful Food Plotting Based on Reality By Scott Bestul Photo by Charles J. Alsheimer

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eer hunters adore mythology. Need proof? Consider these, exhibited by grown men of sound mind and decent education. I have a pair of lucky socks and a certain camo pullover shirt I won’t leave home without wearing. An Illinois buddy carries an American Indian artifact in his pocket every time he’s in a stand. Another pal keeps a stuffed animal, given to him by his daughter, in his day-pack.

We have all killed deer — sometimes big deer — while in possession of said totems. Therefore, these charms are critical to our success. Don’t bother us with facts, because we know better. We are deer hunters. Successful food plotting is different. It has nothing to do with belief, hope or luck. It is based on science and fact, not fantasy. Sure, there’s an art to making plants grow and getting deer to eat them. But art comes after science in this spectrum; most of us need the basics before we can proceed to grad-level work. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some popular myths that have already sprouted in the exciting world of food plotting. Pay attention, because these legends have been proven false — some by me. I won’t tell you which ones, because I need to go wash my lucky socks. Myth No. 1: Food plots aren’t important, because whitetails get all they need from natural sources.

The Shred of Truth: Of course, deer can survive nicely on grasses, forbs and browse. In fact, they were perfectly designed to do that and would thrive if we quit planting stuff tomorrow. The Reality: On some properties, lack of prime food sources is the limiting factor that can keep deer from using the place consistently. Sure, whitetails will visit your oak stand when the acorn crop is right, when your forbs are in season or as long as your clearcut provides winter browse. But what happens the rest of the year or when a natural food source suddenly fails? You’ve got it; a seemingly great property becomes a dead zone that whitetails use only occasionally. One of my best friends owns a 120-acre farm that has some fine natural whitetail cover. Trouble is, neighboring properties sported the same habitat — but with abundant food plots and farm fields. My friend’s hunting success was highly sporadic and largely dependent on increased deer movement associated with the rut. Three years ago, I urged Kent to install two small food plots that would offer whitetails prime nutrition throughout the year. “Before the food plots, I could go days without a deer sighting,” he told me recently. “Now I rarely hunt without seeing multiple deer, including more bucks than ever. I spent almost 20 years wondering why more deer didn’t spend more time on this place. Now I know the answer.” Myth No. 2: I don’t need food plots, because I live in farm country. The Shred of Truth: Of course you can’t compete with a 40-acre corn or soybean field. Modern farmers can grow more tons of deer food per acre than you could ever hope to produce.

The Reality: Though farmers absolutely keep deer fed, they only do so at certain times. For starters, most agricultural crops aren’t planted until spring, one of the classic high-stress periods in a whitetail year. But even when row crops start to grow, they’re eaten by deer only at certain stages. Soybeans, for example, are highly sought by deer during the flowering stage (mid- to late-summer). The same goes for corn in the milk stage of ear development. Naturally, after corn and bean crops mature in fall, deer will flock to them. But that’s also about harvest time, and unless some weather event prohibits harvest, farmers will have their crops off before early winter. This means — again, just like spring — that just when deer need this food the most, it becomes unavailable to them. It gets worse: I live in big farm country, and not only do farmers harvest corn and beans with ultraefficient combines, they plow during fall, leaving those once-abundant fields a veritable wasteland. So you could make the argument that, if anything, food plots are more important in farm country than anywhere else. Having green, high-protein sources like an Imperial Whitetail Clover field is paramount in spring, when does are lactating, fawns are growing and bucks are developing antlers. And come winter, your food plots will offer critical nutrition to deer when agricultural crops are history. Myth No. 3: Food plots are the most important feature of any deer hunting property. The Shred of Truth: Any biologist will tell you that deer are slaves to their stomachs, so providing highquality food sources will make your property attractive to deer and help you enjoy better hunting opportunity. The Reality: Food plots are just one building block in

SOIL TEST KITS Now available through the

7The 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.

1-800-688-3030

Call now at and order your WHITETAIL AGING PLAQUE for yourself or your hunting club. www.whitetailinstitute.com

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 $2.50 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 $2.50 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 ___________________________________ Payment: : ■ Check or Money Order enclosed Charge to: ■ MasterCard ■ Visa ■ Discover Credit Card # _______________________________________ Exp. Date __________

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Signature _____________________________________________________________

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

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the whitetail hierarchy of needs. For starters, deer rarely feed at just one source to the exclusion of others, mainly because their physiologic requirements change throughout the year. It’s tempting to think of deer visiting food plots like cattle coming to a feeder, but reality shows that deer forage at many food sources, few of which are planted by man. Improving these natural food sources (browse, forbs and mast), is as critical to creating a whitetail Mecca as planting and maintaining an Imperial Clover plot. And food is only part of the equation. Whitetails require bedding/escape cover for security from predators and hunting pressure. Invasive trees and plants can threaten more desirable native species. Prairies or other openings (prime fawning habitat in some areas) will need burning to maintain. Water can be a limiting factor in other areas. Population control is also crucial. And the list goes on. In short, making your property the best it can be for deer goes far beyond the simple planting of an Imperial Clover plot or Chicory Plus patch. The best deer managers take a comprehensive, holistic approach that not only accounts for all phases of a whitetail’s life, but other native wildlife and birds. It’s not all about the food. Myth No. 4: Taking soil samples, controlling weeds, fertilizing and other maintenance measures aren’t important. I don’t have time to devote to this stuff, so the plots will just have to make it on their own. The Shred of Truth: Today’s seeds are good enough that, given decent soil and even a half-hearted attempt at proper planting procedure, they’ll not only sprout but grow well enough that deer will eat them. The Reality: Cutting corners is part of human nature, a tempting lure that everyone from innocent children

to scheming crooks find hard to resist. But eventually, most of us learn a bitter truth: For the best results, taking shortcuts is rarely the best path to success. Indeed, taking the easy path — rather than the right one — usually results in more work rather than less. This is as true in food plotting as in every aspect of life, and I don’t have to search any farther than my backyard for an example. I own a measly five acres, but it abuts some fair deer woods, so I’m on a constant quest to make my little corner of heaven deer-friendly. So I dug up a little — no exaggerating here, I’m talking a 1/8-acre chunk of old field and decided to plant some Imperial Clover. Things went well at first; I planted latesummer, after weeds had gone to seed and some welltimed rains helped my sprouts to take off. The deer loved the tiny, hidden plot, too, and I felt pretty smug about my efforts. I didn’t take any soil samples, used no fertilizer, took all the lazy-man’s excuses and ran with them. Then came the second year. Rains stayed away. Weeds came. And that soil, which once looked rich and loamy, seemed as sterile as a sandbox. My clover languished, and deer viewed it with a ho-hum attitude that I found irritating. Of course, their snub was the result of my laziness, and I spent the rest of the summer performing remedial efforts to salvage my plot. Had I done some fundamental prep-work to begin with, I’m convinced my plot would have been miles ahead of its present status. As my father loves to say when he’s digging me out of my self-made disasters, “When all else fails, read the directions.” Myth No. 5: Expert hunters and land managers I trust have had success with (insert food plot seed of choice here), so that’s what I need to plant.

The Shred of Truth: It’s tough to beat experience, and if a trusted source says something works for him, you’d be silly not to listen. The Reality: Rather than jump on a bandwagon, take a long hard look at the particulars of your situation. Does your soil type match that of your mentor? Have you considered the many other potential limiting factors, such as growing season, average rainfall and others? The hard truth of managing a property (and its wildlife) is that no two places are the same, and what works for your uncle in West Virginia might bomb in Wisconsin. Before you plant — heck, before you even break ground — analyze your unique situation, and decide the best way to begin. If you don’t know where to start, ask for help. Local wildlife managers or soil conservation service agents might have first-hand experience with similar properties, and many will visit your place for a consultation. In addition, there are increasing numbers of private consultants with a specific interest in whitetail management available for hire. These men will visit your property and make a non-biased analysis of where to place food plots, what (and when) to plant in them and how to care for it. Sure, you’re paying more than if you try to figure things out alone, but you might actually save money in the long run by getting things done right the first time (see Myth No. 4). Finally, the top food plot company — the Whitetail Institute — offers free phone consultation and advice for customers. Although a simple call to an 800-number can’t beat an expert walking your ground, it’s a huge step beyond buying a bag of seed from a sporting goods store, scattering it on the ground and hoping for the best. W

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

• “CHIC” MAGNET can last up to three years with a single planting • “CHIC” MAGNET can tolerate a broad variety of soil types, from moist to moderately drained • “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 attracts, holds and grows bigger bucks!

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

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TODAY’S FAWN – TOMORROW’S TROPHY

YOU CAN HELP By R.G. Bernier Photos by the Author

Few things in nature are more precious and delightful than the miracle of birth, especially when the arrival is that of a spotted whitetail fawn. www.whitetailinstitute.com

Vol. 18, No. 3 /

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L

ike the blossoming of a delicate flower, which, without warning, suddenly bursts forth from its dormant bud into full bloom, a baby fawn enters the world. The unblemished innocence of this new arrival invigorates a sense of vitality in all of us. We are instantly captivated with the sight of it. We watch in wonderment as the infant unsteadily attempts to walk, and inwardly smile when the fawn nuzzles up to its mother and begins to nurse. Why the fascination? Perhaps it arouses warm recollections from our own parental nurturing, or maybe it stems from knowing the struggles the baby deer will encounter along the way to maturity. Whatever the reason, one thing is for certain: Babies have a unique way of stirring involuntary emotions. Unfortunately, in the whitetail’s world, there are no pediatric wards, incubators or neonatal care to ensure the survival of each spring’s fawn recruitments. MORTALITY

“What transpires during whitetail spring — that precarious time between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice — will determine whether the next generation of whitetails flourishes or fails,” according to noted wildlife biologist John Ozoga. For years, many people believed 40 percent to 50 percent of the annual fawn crop failed to live six months. However, recent research suggests that those figures are much more dramatic. From March and August in 2004 and 2005, Stephen Ditchkoff, associate professor at Auburn University’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, conducted a research project on the survival of

neonatal whitetail deer near Auburn, Ala. Using vaginal implant transmitters inserted into captured pregnant does, Ditchkoff’s team could be at the birthing area of each doe soon after she gave birth. The team captured the fawns by hand, weighed them and then fitted them with an expandable radio collar. The study, conducted in an exurban area, indicated a mortality rate of 66.7 percent. A similar study, conducted from 2004 through 2006 in west-central Texas by Vermont Fish and Game deer biologist Shawn Haskell while he was at Texas Tech University, showed that fawn mortality reached up to 85 percent. Considering what a typical landowner lays out in time, energy and money to create sanctuaries, food plots, forest management and water sources, that return on investment would not do well on Wall Street. What can be done to ensure a better fawn-survival rate on your property? After all, the fawn of today could become the buck of a lifetime. PRENATAL CARE Stress in the life of a deer manifests itself in many ways. A long, cold winter coupled with deep snow makes undernourished does reabsorb their fetuses or give birth to weak fawns that are doomed before they hit the ground. “Pregnancy typically increases the need for protein,” Ozoga wrote. “If the diet is inadequate, the mother sacrifices her bones and body tissues to nourish her fetus. After prolonged malnutrition, however, the mother’s reserves are drained and her fetus suffers the consequences.”

When provided a diet of more than 13 percent protein, pregnant does rarely lose one of their young because of nutritive failure. However, the greater the percentage of decrease in protein levels, the more susceptible a doe is to losing her newborns. The best known method to increase a deer’s dietary protein intake is planting high quality food plots. No matter where a deer lives, it can usually only derive 6 percent to 10 percent protein from natural browse. However, a plot that’s turned up, fertilized, limed and planted with Whitetail Institute’s Imperial Whitetail Clover can provide animals with double or even triple the protein and critical carbohydrates to ensure that young are born healthy. Best, this food source is available to deer when they most need it. BIRTHING ROOM In modern hospitals, an expectant mother is assigned a private birthing room. Does demand the

Chicory Plus is part of 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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same privacy when going into labor. After temporarily driving off the previous year’s offspring, a doe will inhabit a specific piece of real estate — usually the same location each year — to birth her fawn. At this time, the doe becomes very territorial, as she needs to feel secure with privacy during this critical time. Creating several sanctuaries on your property that contain a thick, almost impenetrable understory provides does the kind of delivery room they require. Incidentally, a buck will feel secure in that cover during hunting season. PLAYPEN Research indicates that a fawn is most vulnerable during its first week of life. Its chances of survival increase with each successive week. Because fawns are predisposed to remain motionless between feeding cycles, the vegetation in which they hide must meet the highest security demands. In his fawn mortality research, Ditchkoff implied that a poor landscape contributed greatly to the loss of fawns within his study area. “We suspect that the high rate of predation was due to efficient detection of bedded or nursing neonates in the open landscape of the exurban area,” he wrote. “During the study, the majority of neonates that we captured inhabited and bedded in areas of sparse cover (i.e., wooded yards with open understory, hedge rows, landscaping near homes, etc.). Coyotes are visual hunters, and therefore it has been suggested that increased predation on neonatal whitetail deer by coyotes is associated with sparse vegetative cover. This effect would be most evident

within the first 30 days of life because neonates spend much of their time bedded and therefore rely on camouflage to avoid predation.” What does quality fawning cover look like? Some of the best fawn cover takes the least effort to produce: simple fields where grasses, weeds and flowers grow. Provided the horizontal cover is at least 1.5 feet or higher, a fawn can bed and move about without being detected. Regrowth clear-cuts also provide ideal cover. The best are three to seven years old. These fawning grounds need to be a patchwork scattered throughout your property rather than at one spot. They should also be at least a half-acre — the larger the better, as fawns will routinely bed in various locations in the same general area. AMBER ALERT This is the signal no parent wants to see flashing, and that includes mother deer. There is nothing any more pitiful than hearing a mother doe frantically grunting for her fawn with no response. Predation is the No. 1 cause of fawn mortality, and the No. 1 predator is the coyote. As stipulated earlier, a coyote hunts primarily with its eyes. If you suspect there might be a coyote problem on your property, I suggest an aggressive trapping or shooting program to reduce the numbers. A coyote is an opportunist that will gravitate to the least amount of resistance in acquiring his next meal. THE NEXT GENERATION We live in the present but plan for the future.

Whitetails live for today with no thought or promise of seeing another. As stewards of our little piece of the planet, we can plan, prepare and help ensure that what we do will benefit the health and welfare of the whitetails on our land. The choices we make today will have an impact — positive or negative — in the future. Working toward ensuring the maturation of each year’s fawns only enhances our hunts. It promotes a balanced age structure within our herd, makes for a shorter but more intense rut and helps assure the propagation of the species. “When a balanced age structure is achieved, it ensures the behavioral and biological mechanisms that shape deer populations are allowed to function,” said Dave Guynn, professor of forest wildlife management at Clemson University in South Carolina. “This provides for a nutritionally and socially healthy herd.” CONCLUSION As a parent on the other side of my children’s childhood, it is pleasing and fulfilling to see them flourish in adulthood. Yeah, it required a lot of time, work, sacrifice, money, prayer and a few tears. But as I look back, it was well worth every bit of the investment. And although children and whitetails are different, self-satisfaction in a job well done comes from both. Whether you’re observing your offspring succeeding in a world of uncertainty or watching a magnificent buck quietly feeding in your food plot, a smile of accomplishment purses your lips. A feeling as warm as the setting sun overtakes you with the knowledge that the buck — which just 4 1/2 years ago was a vulnerable fawn — has become a product of your investment. W

Ensure the success of your food plots. Our line of herbicides protect your investment by making sure that the plants you have so carefully planted can compete with grasses and weeds for nutrients and water. Arrest kills most grasses, but won’t harm clover, alfalfa, chicory or Extreme. Slay eliminates broadleaf plants and weeds, and is safe for clover and alfalfa. Both herbicides are extensively field-tested and can be easily applied by 4-wheeler or tractor sprayer. Easy and effective protection for your crop.

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Vol. 18, No. 3 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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(Continued from page 33)

ferred over natural forages found in late spring and early summer. We took two of the biggest deer ever killed on our farm this year. I took the larger deer in September and it green scored in the mid 160s. The other buck was the fourth biggest deer that was spotted on our property. He was taken with a rifle by a friend and green scored just over 139. I am looking forward to increasing the size of my food plots and deer by using Whitetail Institute products.

Charlie Ingram — Tennessee

Richard Vaughan — Virginia I see more healthier looking deer and bigger bucks since planting Imperial Whitetail Clover. Also deer are in the PowerPlant like rabbits. They have paths through it like rabbits. More bigger deer are being seen and the deer (buck) activity has increased. I am enjoying using Whitetail Institute products. It has certainly paid off with my hunting experiences. I killed this 200-lb., 10-point whitetail deer at the food plot. This weight is above normal in this area.

Imperial food plots I definitely noticed bigger racks and my land holding more deer. Here are a few of the bucks I’ve gotten with the help of Whitetail Institute products.

Bryan Busse — Indiana

We have used Whitetail Institute seeds for about four years now and the body sizes and antler growth is phenomenal. Two seasons ago my father and I took these deer within 20 minutes of each other. His on an acre of PowerPlant and mine on the way to a field with Chic Magnet in it. Mine grossed 165-2/8. Last season I took a 17-point buck out of the same stand pushing a doe across the same field, this year with AlfaRack in the mix. He dressed at 235 lbs!

trophies. I started using 30-06 Plus Protein three years ago and I was really impressed on how quick the bucks took to it. The next year I noticed an increase of deer in areas we made the mineral licks. Not only were there more deer but the deer looked a lot healthier. This year we’ve seen some of the biggest bucks we’ve ever had on our lease. The picture attached is a 10 point with a 20-inch spread my dad shot last November. Its one of the biggest bucks taken off our lease.

Roger Harris — West Virginia This deer was harvested by Alice Poluchova. She was hunting over a field of Imperial Whitetail Clover at Walnut Falls Farm. Thanks Whitetail Institute for helping us grow big bucks.

Vernon Walker — Texas I hunt on a 2,200 acre lease in Jasper Texas. We’ve always had a lot of deer on our lease just not any real

After five years of letting young bucks walk, harvesting more and more does and adding mineral supplements for the deer herd we are finally starting to see some success. We have been hunting on the same property for over 12 years now. Five years ago the landowner and I wanted to see bigger deer grow and see the buck to doe ratio better. We implemented an 8-point or bigger rule on bucks and made sure everyone who hunted took at least two does per year. We added several 30-06 Plus Protein mineral licks and started putting in fall and winter food plots using Winter-Greens. The attached photos show how much our licks are being used and the results of allowing the bucks to

Bryan Welpman — Missouri I have used PowerPlant the last two years in midMissouri with great results. The year before last when my county was 24 inches behind on rainfall it still reached a height of four feet and the forage it produced was greatly pre50

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

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grow. This past year was our best with several mature bucks being taken and dozens of healthy fat does. Whitetail Institute products and proper deer management work. This coming fall is looking like it could be our best ever. Thanks Whitetail Institute for providing such great products.

about the health of the herd. P.S The moose are hitting the clover so hard that I’ll need to expand these plots just to keep ahead.

Scott Clark — Maine

Ben Kozak — Wisconsin My name is Ben Kozak and I am 17 years old. During last years whitetail deer gun season in Wisconsin I shot a 170-inch 12-point with and 18-inch inside spread that is very massive. Our neighbor has been watching this deer eat the Imperial 30-06 minerals for the past 3 years. This is one of the most massive bucks taken in the area to date and I feel a lot of it is because of the 30-06 minerals. My father and I are defiantly going to start using Whitetail Institute products.

Dean Woodhouse — Indiana

I’ve been guiding hunters from all over the U.S. for the past 20-plus years. Two years ago I purchased 25 lbs. of Imperial Whitetail Clover from a local sporting goods store. I made small test plots over different areas. Just before hunting season I could not believe what a difference this made with the game coming in. This photo of John Waters of North Carolina was his first hunt in Maine and the first day of his hunt. Everyone in camp harvested deer in a short 2.5 days. With the advice from the staff of Whitetail Institute, I started making larger food plots. In September I set my game cameras out. In fields where I planted the Chicory PLUS I would get up to 180 pictures of deer per week compared to 20 in areas where I did not plant. My guest are going crazy with these food plots. This means more business. Thanks.

Paul More — Manitoba, Canada Enclosed is a photo that shows the quality of bucks we’re consistently seeing on our 1,200 acres. We established a number plots two years ago. Planting Imperial Whitetail Clover, PowerPlant and Alfa Rack is obviously paying off as the number of young bucks hanging around has greatly increased. Showing my clients these large bodied Canadian bucks is having a dramatic effect on our family run guiding business. Thanks for the quality products and we have become passionate www.whitetailinstitute.com

Winter Greens and PowerPlant. I’m also starting a mineral supplement program with 30-06 Protein and the Cutting Edge supplements. Yes, you could say I have the Whitetail Institute Tattoo! I called and talked to the guys at Whitetail Institute early this spring to ask about my 130-acre farm in Clinton County, Ohio. They were very helpful and I very much appreciated the attention and information they passed along. My 8-year-old daughter was thrilled with this buck. Against her mother’s wishes she posed with him in her PJ’s. I am so excited about this fall. Just seeing all these deer using the plots is enough for me. Well, almost. Thanks Whitetail Institute for great products.

I planted Imperial Whitetail Clover a couple of years ago and the deer just tore it up. I will be planting several plots this upcoming year. I had a tremendous amount of deer coming to the PowerPlant from early after germination clear up through late winter. It is a total deer magnet. I saw twice as many does as normal which drew in the big bucks. Enclosed is a photo of a 10 point buck I took last November he has a 23-1/2-inch outside spread. He was coming in to a plot of PowerPlant to check out a hot doe. I have not officially scored him yet, but I believe he will be close to the 165170 range. W

Sterrett Smith — Ohio I planted Chicory Plus last spring. Since I had already tagged my buck during the archery season, I let this buck walk on opening day when I saw him. My buddy killed him the next morning. He’s an 8x5 and grosses 165. The buck followed does onto the property that were using the Chicory PLUS food plot. I had not seen this buck before planting Chicory Plus. I am so pleased with Chicory PLUS that I am planting more plots this year with Chicory Plus, Extreme,

Send Us Your Photos! Do you have a photo and/or story of a big buck, a small buck or a 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:

Whitetail News, Attn: Field Tester Response 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043 Vol. 18, No. 3 / WHITETAIL

NEWS 51


Virginia Hunt Club Takes QDM Challenge By Jeffrey M. Swortzel

O

ur Beaver Dam Hunt Club was established in June 1997 in southwestern Virginia. The club was created after several members realized they were unsatisfied with the size and quality of the bucks they were hunting. The members realized that most of the bucks they were killing were young deer. Many of them were only one or two years old. At that point, the members began researching management styles, searching for one that would let them grow larger bucks while creating a healthier deer herd. The founding members of the club believed that the Virginia Game Commission had waited too long before transitioning to a strategy designed to maintain the deer herd, although they had done an excellent job at building the herd. Hunters were seeing many deer in areas where deer were once scarce. However, the herd had changed. Hunters were seeing deer that were young, and most were does. They believed the Game Commission, by continuing to encourage buck harvesting, was letting the deer herd grow disproportionately. The Beaver Dam Hunt Club needed a new strategy — one designed to maintain the herd size while ensuring a more balanced sex ratio. After a great deal of research, we decided that the quality deer management system appeared to fit its long-term goals. It offered the potential for the most benefits. Early research indicated that a balanced sex ratio was very important to realize the maximum benefits from a QDM effort. The club decided that a minimum size should be established, and that no bucks would be harvested until they reached that size. After a lengthy discussion, the minimum was set: Antlers had to extend to a point even with the tips of the ears or larger, and bucks had to have eight or more points.

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“Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

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The strategy needed would let young bucks survive while encouraging hunters to harvest enough does to keep the herd in check. In the new system, a minimum size was established to restrict the amount of bucks harvested. Only older bucks and does of any age, would be fair game. This harvest rule would allow meat hunters in the club a seemingly endless supply of tender venison while giving trophy hunters a chance at a truly large buck. These rules would help greatly but did not address the increase in protein required to increase the health of the herd. The buck-harvest rule would protect young bucks, but did it go far enough? Research indicated that protecting young bucks was just the first step. Members believed that an increase in the health of the herd would lead to a corresponding increase in antler size. We needed to find ways to increase the protein available to deer. A plan designed to enhance the protein intake of deer would be achieved in two ways. The first method was to plant food plots. Our first food-plot attempts were terrible failures. We had several members who had planted gardens, but none had a background in farming. Our members knew how to grow food plants but did not understand many important issues about soil preparation and other farming basics. Many of the garden techniques were applicable, but many did not translate directly to planting a oneacre or larger field. Some of our mistakes were easy to correct. We planted the seeds too deep or when it was too dry, or we did not conduct a soil test. Finally, we learned from our mistakes. The club planted a field of Imperial Whitetail Clover the day before the arrival of a hurricane was forecast. The field grew beautifully, and we started seeing deer in numbers we

had not seen before. Unfortunately, we had another problem. The deer liked the one-acre food plot of Imperial Clover so much they devoured it. So, club members determined they had to find additional acres suitable for planting. Agreements with neighboring property owners seemed to be the perfect solution. A beautiful field of clover is one thing, but it is not an entire management plan. To develop a plan, we worked with consultants at the Whitetail Institute, who were very helpful. By implementing their suggestions, we continued to make progress. We wanted to consider other plantings that would work well in rotation with our clover. We settled on Imperial PowerPlant, an annual mixture of plants that would fit nicely into our plans. The PowerPlant mixture contains peas, beans, grain sorghum and other plants to which deer are attracted. Our goal was to provide our deer with great nutrition for as many consecutive months as possible. We realized we needed to learn about crop rotation and its effect on a long-term food-plot strategy. We had not thought about weeds and their impact on the longevity of a food plot. There seemed to be an unending stream of problems. We were beginning to learn that a QDM strategy provides a solid foundation and framework. However, like most things in life, each day brings new lessons to learn and challenges to solve. The second method we identified as a viable solution for providing protein was found in a supplemental feeding program. Our program was designed as a winter supplement to our normal food-plot program in warmer weather. Providing continuous protein might be simpler in Southern states. We recognize it is much more difficult in the areas with a distinct winter.

Our supplemental feeding program started out slowly and raised abundant questions. We answered these questions while attempting to implement the program: How big should feeders be? Will wild deer eat out of them? How much feed should we buy? Will raccoons and other animals be a problem? How large should the roofs on our feeders be? The questions never seemed to let up. All were answered eventually, and our program continued on schedule. Again, we made many mistakes but continued to learn. As you can see, creating a whitetail paradise using Quality Deer Management techniques is a process of continuing challenges—a process that will result in larger deer and a healthier deer herd. Using the free resources at the Whitetail Institute and the expertise of club members, we have made great progress. We killed our first 10-point buck several years later. On that day, two 10-point bucks were shot. We were just beginning to see the benefits from our QDM strategy. Our largest buck to date was shot by Tommy Murray during the muzzleloading season two years ago. This buck was the product of implementing a Quality Deer Management program. Don’t be discouraged by the many questions raised in this article. The answers to all the questions came to our hunt club with help from the Whitetail Institute and through trial and error. If you are patient, and the members of your hunt club have the discipline to pass on small but legal bucks, quality deer management might be for you. In the opinion of the members of the Beaver Dam Hunt Club, it seems to be the perfect solution. It is an outstanding whitetail management system and has the potential to produce amazing results. W

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WHITETAIL NEWS

53


CREATE THE

Ultimate Hunting Plot and make your own luck By Michael Veine Photos by the Author

Annuals such as this stand of Imperial No-Plow are a deer magnet during the fall.

F

ood plots are generally broken down into two basic types: Feeding plots and hunting plots. The former are typically rather large in size and are designed to provide deer with maximum nutrition while also attracting and keeping deer on a property.

Here’s a trophy eight-pointer that the author arrowed at the Den Stand. 54

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

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I have one feeding plot on my Upper Peninsula Michigan hunting property that spans about five acres in size and is centrally located on my land. Experts often advise avoiding feeding plots during the hunting season, which will keep a maximum number of deer using the food source, especially during daylight hours. I stay away from my feeding plot but will hunt trails leading to and from the big field. Mainly, though, I hunt my hunting plots. Hunting plots are typically rather small in size and are designed to provide ideal ambush opportunities. I set up stands right over hunting plots and often I’ll have multiple stands on the same plot to cover different situations. I have eight hunting plots on my U.P. hunting property. They vary in size from perhaps 500 square feet up to an acre in size. Most of them are accessible by an ATV or small tractor while the remainder are maintained strictly with hand tools. My main food plot forage choice over the years has always been Imperial Whitetail Clover; however I’ve also had good luck using Imperial No-Plow, Secret Spot and Chicory Plus. I also have a few special tricks up my sleeve to transform my hunting plots into the ultimate buck showplaces where every racked buck really wants to hang out. The best hunting plot setup I’ve ever hunted is a stand on my property I call “the Den Stand.” I once found a bear den nearby so the name was logical. It’s situated towards the back of my 160-acre property in a somewhat swampy area and is sandwiched in a saddle between two low ridges. A small stream flanks the setup which creates an awesome natural deer funnel. Eight adult bucks have been taken off that stand and it seems to be getting better and better every year.

Imperial Whitetail Clover is the author’s favorite hunting plot forage, but in wet spots that are prone to flooding, he favors annuals like No-Plow or Secret Spot.

The author has also had good luck on hunting plots with other forage blends like this Chicory Plus.

Four years ago on Nov. 2 I took a 130-inch buck there that weighed 185 pounds dressed. The next year on Nov. 2, I arrowed a dandy 180-pound 8-pointer. Two years ago, you guessed it; on November 2, I tagged

another buck there — a 205-pound 9-point that scored in the low 130s. For three years in a row I took a buck on Nov. 2 for the ultimate three-peat. I always save that stand for the month of November

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WHITETAIL NEWS

55


when the area big bucks are on the prowl more than ever. I also only hunt that stand with a southerly wind. When the weatherman predicted a south wind at 5-10 mph for Nov. 2 this past season, an ear-to-ear grin formed across my face as I contemplated the real possibility of a four-peat. Unfortunately the weather was also unseasonably hot and the wind was gusty; not exactly ideal deer hunting conditions. Nevertheless, I climbed the 30-foot ascent into my tree stand and settled in for an all-day vigil. The day dragged by with no deer sightings until the evening shade began to cool the woods. The first deer to amble in was a 2-1/2 year-old with a smallish rack but a fairly robust body. I could have easily shot him if I had desired. I was holding out for at least a 3-1/2 year-old though, so I let him walk. A couple does and a fawn showed up a little later. As soon as they entered the food plot, they began to feed in earnest. Suddenly my ears picked up the distinctive sound of antlers raking a tree to my west. I couldn’t see the buck, but it sounded heavy horned; kind of like someone smacking a wooden baseball bat up and down a tree. Eventually the buck came partially into view but he was still well out of bow range. He looked enormous. As the brute worked his darkly stained rack up and down a thick ash trunk, the size of his body came into clear view and it literally took my breath away. His neck looked to be the size of my waist and his rippling muscles flexed like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his body-building prime. Despite the warm weather, the mere sight of him made my knees wobble. He slowly worked his way in my direction until one of the does, an old mature lady, departed and he casually strolled away after her and out of sight. Then the

This 200-plus pounder was arrowed by the author two seasons ago.

setting sun and ensuing darkness closed out any possibility for my four-peat.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

The next day was a carbon copy of the last. It was 75 degrees in the shade, so I skipped the mid-day hunt and hit the Den Stand at 2 p.m. for a focused evening hunt. Like the day before, the same chunky 2-1/2 yearold buck from the previous day made his appearance. A few minutes later, a yearling spike-horn joined him on the food plot. The yearling looked about a foot shorter than the bigger buck and it was only his totally submissive posture that allowed him to feed in such close proximity to the larger buck. When a couple of does wandered a bit too close, the bigger buck chased off after them, grunting all the way with his neck outstretched. I grinned knowing that the grunting and chasing were the best deer calls a hunter could ever wish for. It worked like a charm too, as just minutes later I heard a deer crunching through the dry leaves behind me. Slowly turning around, I spotted a big buck sauntering onto the scene. It wasn’t the same monarch I’d seen the evening before, but he certainly wasn’t a slouch either. He worked on an ash tree, digging his antlers through the bark, cambium layer, and deeply into the sapwood. The buck had a mediumsized rack, but it was his enormous body size that flipped the “shooter” switch in my mind. From that time on, I focused entirely on the shot. Eventually the buck walked right towards my stand, stopping straight down below my perch. One of the other bucks made a futile dash at one of the uninterested does and that prompted the big guy to head in that direction. I almost got a shot at 10 yards, but he moved before I could lock in. He then trotted out to 20 yards and stopped. As he stood there performing that cool-looking lip curl and sniffing routine often referred to as “flehmening” I beared down on him with my sights. The deer was standing in the shadows making the sight picture less than ideal, so when the arrow sprang from my Mathew’s bow, I really didn’t see where the arrow struck. However, at the shot he kicked up his www.whitetailinstitute.com


hind feet and bolted away, plowing over anything in his path. I saw him run 50 yards and then heard him run another 50 yards. Then all was quiet, at least for a few minutes. I had barely calmed my nerves when I heard the same baseball-bat rubbing that I’d heard from the monster buck the evening before. I glanced over my shoulder and there he was, just 25 yards away rubbing a thick ash tree. With two buck tags in my pocket, I reloaded another arrow and waited for an opening. Unfortunately, the buck tracked around the food plot and when he hit the blood trail, he ambled off in the opposite direction, never offering me a shot. My nerves were completely tattered but I still managed to wait a full hour before I climbed down in total darkness. It took me another hour to unravel the 100yard blood trail, but eventually I found my prize where he’d piled up in some waist-high swamp grass. The shot had been near perfect. As I photographed the bigbodied buck, a nearby pack of wolves erupted into a chorus of howling and some coyotes also chimed in from the opposite direction for good measure. I was glad I’d recovered the deer that night because leaving a deer overnight in that locale would have been extremely chancy. You can understand why I keep the food plot at the Den Stand and it gets plenty of TLC. I keep the pH as close to 7.0 as possible with regular lime applications. I’ve never tilled the plot and maintain it with just hand tools. Using a five-gallon, backpack sprayer, I apply selective herbicides to the Imperial Whitetail Clover every year to control the weeds and grass. Slay and Arrest work wonders to keep the clover free from unwanted competition. One area of the plot is too wet

for clover during the spring, so I do an annual seeding of Imperial No-Plow on those locations after it dries up in the summer. I spray a glyphosphate-based herbicide on the No-Plow spots in early June. In early August I rake those spots with a wide leaf rake to clear away the duff and also loosen up the top of the dirt. I then broadcast the No-Plow with a hand-crank spreader. I fertilize the plot twice a year. In the spring I fertilize the Imperial Whitetail Clover liberally with a high phosphorus and potassium fertilizer using a hand crank, bag-style spreader. I fertilize the whole plot once again when I plant the No-Plow in early August. At that time, I use a fertilizer with a balanced percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. I sometimes use a weed-whacker to mow the clover once a year, but typically the deer keep it chewed down pretty good, negating the need for mowing. Another key to the Den Stand’s outstanding success is a nearby, preferred water source. Even though there is a flowing trout stream nearby, the deer really prefer to drink from a small water hole I dug by hand. The water table is pretty high at the site, so I just dug down about four feet deep with a shovel and tapped into the ground water. The deer use the hole so much that they cave in the banks and I’ve had to dig it out to regain the depth nearly every year. It draws deer like a magnet, so it’s well worth the effort. The plot is surrounded by a thick stand of brush and trees which make for some perfect signpost rubbing material. It’s not uncommon for the spot to have dozens of rubs visible from my stand. The area also receives plenty of scraping from local bucks as well. I always set up a few mock scrapes during early September. These scrapes are located under

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perfect licking branches which I sometimes have to trim and bend into shape. The locations of the mock scrapes are always where I want a buck to stand for an easy bow shot, typically along the edge of the food plot. I have never failed to have my mock scrapes get turned into big, wide, primary scrapes that every buck in the area wants to work up. I hunt the spot from a tree stand during archery deer season. The spot required a very high stand to get above the thermals that the topography creates. Through trial and error, I finally settled on a tree stand location about 30-foot high in a big cedar tree. The spot is also hunted during the firearm deer season; however, the gun blind is situated on the top of a ridge about 50 yards to the north of the tree stand. It’s a ground blind made of piled-up logs with a roof. It offers the perfect setup for accurate shooting to cover the food plot and the trails leading to and from the site. Its location affords the ability to enter and exit the blind without spooking deer feeding in the food plot. The entry and exit route to the Den Stand was carefully planned and was actually the key reason I selected the site in the first place. I built a small walking bridge over the stream in a strategic spot where I can approach the Den stand below a ridge hidden from any deer that might be on the food plot. As I near the crest of the ridge, I have a spot marked on a tree along the trail where I can peek over the ridge to scan the food plot and surrounding area for deer. I rarely ever spook deer on my way to the stand. If deer are present, I simply wait until they leave before sneaking to the stand. Providing deer with a quality food source in an ideal hunting location is the perfect recipe for deer hunting success. W

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As a group, hunters, fishermen and deer managers contribute more to the sound management and conservation of natural resources than any other group.

“Green” Practices

Not New to Deer Managers By Brad Herndon Photos by the Author

O

n October 11, 2007, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In addition to this prestigious award, Gore also received a check for $1.8 million for his work in alerting the world to what he considers the dangers of global warming. His film, An Inconvenient Truth, won an Academy Award in 2007, and his book by the same name has sold millions of copies. That does not mean, of course, that all people are convinced of the validity and degree of global warming that’s being preached today. Certainly I’m not convinced. Still, when you consider that Indianapolis, Ind., set an all-time high temperature for October with a 91degree reading Oct. 8, 2007, it makes you think. In 2007, Louisville, Ky., also recorded its highest October temperature: 93 degrees. Those temperatures can lead people to believe that global warming is well on the way — until you research and discover that most of the all-time October highs that were being replaced were recorded in the 1930s. Another interesting weather statistic occurred in the 1930s, when it snowed every month in Indiana. Residents in Indiana that summer were sure the end of the world was occurring, and the churches were packed. Of course, the next year was hotter than the hinges of Hades. Weather changes. I won’t dwell on global warming any more, except to say that right now, it’s a “hot” subject and that is probably the main factor fueling the current green movement. EVERYONE WANTS IN THE ACT

On Oct. 9, 2007, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City made a big presentation because the city was going to plant one million trees. Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, is also “pumping up” the green movement. His solution? Driving 58

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

environmentally friendly Hummers like his, which run on biofuel and hydrogen fuel. On Feb. 13, 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama promised to spend $150 billion to create so-called “green-collar” jobs to create more environmentally friendly energy sources. As I write this, there are polls being conducted about the presidential seekers called, “How Green Is Your Candidate?” Before I hyperventilate, let me pause and state that I believe residents of this Earth should take care of our land and its resources in a responsible manner. I don’t believe in littering our highways or destroying wildlife with chemicals, as we did with DDT years ago. I believe in maintaining clean water sources, planting trees for shade and many other ecologically sound activities. I also believe we are instructed by the Creator to have dominion over the birds of the air and animals of the land, and have the privilege of eating and managing these resources. TELL THEM WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR I’ve noted how many famous people — all politicians — are really into the green movement. Politicians do this because they want to push what most voters want to hear. What they say and do behind the scenes, however, does not always match up. In my opinion, hunters too often get left out when it comes to giving credit to folks who truly take care of the land. We are frequently portrayed as uncaring killers of wildlife, rapers of the land and dangerous thugs slinging bullets in all directions with blatant disregard for safety. We’re even considered a danger to ourselves and children. It’s common to see laws passed that do not allow children to hunt until they are 12 or 13. These laws largely assure that youngsters will have other interests rather than hunting by their teen-age years. Some groups tell us we shouldn’t be eating meat, and others condemn us for even cutting a tree. Well,

with all that being said, let’s answer a question, “are hunters and deer managers green?” The same week Bloomberg was basking in the limelight because his city was planting one million trees, a landowner in Iowa was diligently managing his land. The landowner was Bill Winke, a contributing writer to this magazine. In five days, Winke planted about 500,000 white oak acorns, plus a few walnuts. All seeds were planted on 22 acres along field edges too steep for effective farming. In addition to the seeds, he also moved 80 cedar trees into this area and topped it off with 40 apple trees. The red and yellow delicious apples are excellent eating and drop in September and October. Without question, what Winke did will benefit man and wildlife for decades, while helping stop soil erosion in the area. This is only one of many management tools Winke is using to improve and preserve the natural habitat and wildlife on his property. By the way, Winke is a hunter and deer manager, and what he is doing is about as green as you can get. Winke, though, didn’t end up on Good Morning America, on the Today show or in The New York Times. His local paper didn’t even give him a write-up. Winke, in fact, is just one of many hard-working hunters who make significant contributions to quality game management and conservation in a humble, low-key way. Jon Cullen Stahl, a good friend who lives a few miles away, is another such individual. Cullen and his wife, Laura, were among the first folks to build a nice home on a scenic hill near Seymour, Ind. Today, there are many other homes surrounding their home. Their property stands out in stark contrast to the other properties, however. Although I call the Stahl’s property a wildlife sanctuary, others might call it a thicket. The homes around them are generally well maintained and have pretty manicured lawns. The Stahl’s home and yard have the www.whitetailinstitute.com


same slick appearance, but the nine acres bordering their yard contains food plots, thick bushes that provide cover, food and nesting sites for birds, blackberry and raspberry thickets, pine and hardwood trees and much more. Hundreds of birds nest on their property each year. They always invite us up to pick from their abundant berries, and we have eaten many a cobbler and jar of jelly because of their generosity. Despite its small size, deer, turkey and coyote sightings are fairly common on their property. Hummingbirds and hawks share the airways, and snakes slither through the grass. It’s nature as it should be. The Stahls, by the way, have been managing their land this way for decades. In addition, Stahl recognized the importance of owning his own deer woods years ago, and purchased 120 acres of bottomland in 1974. A few years back, he added another 40 acres. He now has several acres of food plots on his land, which contain clover, oats, brassicas and other food sources. Through the years, he has selectively timbered his land to keep the native vegetation in prime shape for wildlife. He has also planted fruit and oak trees. And a few years ago, he added a five-acre wetland that now contains fish, turtles, beaver, mink, otters, herons and a variety of ducks, geese and other wildlife. If we were to give an award to a family for living a green life in regards to taking care of the environment, certainly the Stahls would top of the list. PULL DOWN THE SHADES It was very cold last night in southern Indiana. This morning, I got up and raised the blinds on our windows. After breakfast, I came out to my office to do

some “green” research. On a Web site comprised mainly of younger people, one person noted that you could actually save money on your heating bill by pulling your blinds down on cold days and nights. Imagine that! On another site, folks were promoting the breakthroughs made in the design of green buildings. One complex in Boston, it noted, was designed to have grass on the roof, which would hold water, thereby preventing runoff and eventually water erosion. I immediately thought of the home my wife, Carol, and I have lived in since 1964. It’s a quaint little log house built from hewn poplar logs back in the 1930s. It’s 960 square feet. Yes, you read that figure right. It has had a metal roof on it from the time it was built. The gutters from the roof converge at a corner of our house, and the downspout drops into a concrete box, taking the rainwater into a cistern that contains an old hand pump. Moreover, all the rain that falls on our roof is conserved in the cistern. In summer, we pump the cool water out to water our flowers and other plants. And if the rural water system we are on ever breaks a main, we can simply pump out water from the cistern and go on with life. Interestingly, years ago, many country folks had a water barrel under every drip on their house and outbuildings so they wouldn’t lose a drop of precious water. Consider also that we own 14 acres and cut enough wood from trees that die each year to heat our house. Our yard is full of tall, beautiful hardwood trees that serve as a windbreak in winter and cooling shade in summer. In 1963, we purchased a new Volkswagen bug, which got 35 miles per gallon of gas. Every vehicle we

have owned since then has gotten gas mileage at least that good. Although I’m not sick, as I think about these things, I’m beginning to feel a little “green” around the gills. Oh, did I mention I’m a deer hunter and deer manager? FOOD PLOTS AND MORE On the property we lease, I discovered years ago that the government allowed the establishment of food plots on land set aside in the Conservation Reserve Program. The Whitetail News had the foresight to let me write about this subject, and as a result, many deer managers have since established food plots on CRP land — and these plots have immensely benefited wildlife. The past few years, wildlife managers, hunters and other groups have pointed out to the federal government that some types of grass planted on CRP ground prevents soil erosion but has no value to wildlife. Because of this, the federal government has encouraged removing strips of these grasses in CRP fields. The landowner can then let the strips grow in native habitat or plant warm-season grasses. On our leases, the farmer killed part of this unproductive grass in strips two years ago. This past fall, ironweed, ragweed, butterfly weed, Queen Anne’s lace and a variety of other native plants, flowers and grasses formed a dense stand ideal for a variety of wildlife. Rabbits now are evident, ground-nesting birds love it and deer browse in the strips. In December, I flushed a covey of 18 quail from one of the strips. Again hunters had a positive effect on wildlife and nature. I could continue naming hunters and deer managers

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59


who have benefited wildlife and nature. Some plant food plots and trees. Some establish or preserve wetlands. Others build ponds and waterways. Some establish tree shelter belts that benefit wildlife, prevent soil erosion because of wind, save on home heating bills and much more. This list of how hunters and deer managers benefit the environment and wildlife could go on and on. THE WHOLE TRUTH We kill about 10 whitetails, five turkeys and 30 or 40 squirrels from one of our leases each year. We also pick mushrooms there, and gather nuts and berries. All of this food is consumed by our family and friends. And the next year, we get to do it again, almost without cost. This scene occurs on thousands of properties throughout our great land each year. By harvesting nature’s bounty each year, think how much energy hunters save that might go into growing, harvesting and distributing this amount of food. Also, consider that many hunting groups adopt a highway and pick up trash along a certain stretch of road all year. Hunters are also involved in conservation groups, such as the Boone & Crockett Club, the Pope & Young Club, Pheasants Forever, Quail Unlimited, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Through these organizations, they contribute vast sums of money that go into the preservation and purchase of land, and the restoration and management of wildlife. The purchase of state hunting, fishing and trapping licenses also contribute heavily to wildlife and nature management. The Pittman-Robertson Act, pushed by hunters and other conservationists and passed in 1937,

Imperial Whitetail Clover has provided food for millions of deer, turkeys and other wildlife, ensuring healthy and sustainable populations.

places an 11 percent tax on archery, shooting and hunting equipment. It has raised nearly $5 billion for conservation. The federal aid in the Sport Fish Restoration Act, referred to as the Dingell-Johnson Act, was modeled after the Pittman-Robertson Act to create a parallel program for fishing resources. It should also be noted that hunters and other conservationists were instrumental in getting the Federal Duck Stamp program passed in 1934. It has raised $671 million thus far that has been used to preserve more than 5.2 million acres of waterfowl habitat in the United States. Obviously, I have proven that deer hunters, deer

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managers other hunters and trappers and fishermen are “green.” I am, however, a strong proponent of the truth — the whole truth. For years, we had not had any problem with trespassers on our property. This past year was different. Currently, we have three cases pending. One is for trespassing, one is for night poaching, and the third is for illegally trespassing during daylight and killing a buck on our property. All of these hunters, by the way, had a legal deer hunting tag. What I’m saying is that not all deer hunters are good people. Certainly, when it comes to conservation and

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wildlife, I’ll put hunters up against any other group, and I believe we will come out the winner. That said, I believe we must continue to cleanse our group through TIP programs, education and other means. Today, folks in politics — especially politics on the national level — have the lowest confidence rating in history. It’s obvious why this has occurred: Untruthfulness, pork-barrel projects, and fraud and deception have become the norm rather than the rarity. By educating and policing our ranks, we can avoid falling into that tragic trap. WORKING TOGETHER In closing, I want to stress the importance of working together with other groups whenever possible. I really don’t have a problem with someone being a vegetarian; I just want them to be fair and accept the fact that eating meat is also an acceptable diet. I also don’t have a problem with someone who wants to let their woods grow into beautiful mature timber long into the future, provided they also realize that when someone like Stahl selectively harvests his timber, it provides the maximum benefit for wildlife and nature. Moreover, I value the non-hunter’s view, too. Hunting is not for everyone. An anti-hunter who is unfair, though, I disagree with. Although they profess to conserve, preserve and save all things, they in fact are killers of wildlife and destroyers of nature, just as we all are to some degree. For example, on September 20, 1957, migrating birds flew into the Eau Claire, Wis., television tower, killing about 20,000 warblers, thrushes, tanangers and other birds. Who was responsible for this wildlife being

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killed? Hunters, nonhunters or anti-hunters? We all know the answer. They were all responsible. Likewise, in 1988, in Indianapolis, Ind., a sewage treatment plant malfunctioned. Undetected for eight hours, thousands of gallons of raw sewage poured into Williams Creek and then the White River. As a result, about 14,000 fish died. It makes no difference on whose pollution these fish suffocated — that of hunters, nonhunters or anti-hunters. Because of their existence, these people were unintentionally killers

that day. I am privileged and thankful that the Whitetail Institute of North America gave me the opportunity to defend hunters and deer managers to prove they are instrumental in promoting sound conservation practices and game management. Further, I can show that hunters and deer managers were “green” years before it became the fashionable thing to do. I’m also appreciative to the Institute for allowing the complete truth — not just one side. W

■ Get Invoved >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> By keeping up on issues, contributing sound advice, and getting involved in local, state and federal politics, hunters can be instrumental in taking care of wildlife, land and, most important, people living on the land. As you know, many bad laws are passed. For example, in the midst of increasing gas prices, my home state of Indiana recently introduced and passed legislation that increased the speed limit on interstates in the state from 65 to 70 miles per hour. Higher speeds mean increased fuel consumption, higher insurance rates and a higher death rate. I guess a few lost lives aren’t important — as long as it isn’t a friend or member of your family. Picking up litter along highways is a dangerous and possibly fatal endeavor. Beverage containers make up about 40 percent to 60 percent of all roadside litter, yet only 11 states currently have a “bottle bill” in effect. States with bottle bills have a 34 percent to 64 percent reduction in total roadside litter, and they recycle 2.5 times as many beverage containers as nonbottle-bill states. So why don’t all states have a bottle bill? Could it be because of lobbying efforts by certain types of manufacturers? You be the judge. Like me, you might have a list of pet peeves regarding taking care of the beautiful land in which we live. Take action on your beliefs, for you can make a difference in this world. As hunters, fishermen and gatherers, we can have more positive impact on taking care of our land and wildlife than any other group of people. This is true because we spend so much time in nature teaching our children and grandchildren how to hunt, fish and gather. In the future, they will hopefully manage, conserve, preserve, use and enjoy what they love so much, just as we do.

Thanks to the continuing growth of the Internet, the start of a new hunting-related website might not seem like big news. However, one new website seems to be making all the right early moves: Talk Hunting (www.talkhunting.com). Talk Hunting is a free forum where hunters from all across the world can gather to discuss tips, tactics, gear, and virtually anything hunting-related in an atmosphere where posted content is monitored to ensure that it is appropriate for the whole family – especially young hunters who are the future of our hunting way of life. What separates Talk Hunting from other outdoor sites is that its registered members can participate in weekly, monthly or quarterly drawings to win prizes that hunters really want! Examples include Mathews bows, Knight rifles, Scent-Lok suits, turkey and deer decoys, food-plot seed, magazine subscriptions, and other high quality products. Be one of the first to sign up, and you’ll have a chance to enter in the site’s next drawing.

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TOTAL Including shipping and handling $_________ Please add $17.00 for shipping and handling for each 36 lbs. ordered. (Canadian residents call for shipping charges.) Please enclose with shipping and payment information or give code on phone orders.

Price with coupon: $89.95

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Please send _____ 36 lb. quantities of Imperial Whitetail® Brand Clover (With Insight).

YOU SAVE $50.00

Suggested Retail: $139.95 (9 lbs. - 6 Acre Planting)

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Price with coupon: $219.95

“CHIC” MAGNET™

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Suggested Retail: $279.00 (36 lbs. - 4.5 Acre Planting)

IMPERIAL Savings Code: WN183

YOU SAVE $59.05

Retail: $79.95

Price with coupon: $49.95

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WHITETAIL® CLOVER

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DISCOUNT COUPONS - Order Today! Savings Code: WN183

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TOTAL $_________

SLAY™ HERBICIDE YOU SAVE $15.00 Savings Code: WN183

Coupon Price: $35.95 or $19.95 Please send _____ ■ 2-Pak Blocks @ $35.95 Please send _____ ■ 1 Block @ $19.95 TOTAL Including shipping and handling $_________ Please add $9.00 for shipping and handling for EACH block or $17.00 for EACH Double Pack. (Canadian residents call for shipping charges.) Please enclose with shipping and payment information or give code on phone orders.

Exclusive Limited-Edition Art Print

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Retail: $199.00

From Ray Scott’s Private Collection

Price with coupon: $69.95

MOST WANTED: The Imperial Buck

• Each print is numbered and signed by both the artist and Ray Scott. (Dimensions: 26” x 31”)

Suggested Retail: $59.95 (4 oz. - 1 Acre Treatment)

Price with coupon: $44.95 Please send _____ 4 oz. Package(s) of SLAY™ Herbicide. Call for larger quantities. TOTAL Including shipping and handling $_________ Please add $7.00 for shipping and handling for each 4 oz. package ordered. (Canadian residents call for shipping charges.) Please enclose with shipping and payment information or give code on phone orders.

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Price with coupon: $22.95 Please send _____ pint(s) of ARREST™ Herbicide. Call for larger quantities.

By Eddie Leroy

This unique portrait of the Institute icon named “the Imperial Buck” was commissioned by Ray Scott for his personal collection. As owner of the Imperial mount, he wanted the distinctive buck mythically recreated and transported to the southern climes of the Whitetail Institute and set among a gentle autumn and the Spanish moss of Pintlala, Alabama. The original painting is recreated in the ultimate Giclée printing process which is able to reproduce the fullest spectrum of colors, displaying an extraordinarily vibrant palette and texture on the finest acid-free paper.

TOTAL Including shipping and handling $_________ Please add $7.00 for shipping and handling for each pint ordered. (Canadian residents call for shipping charges.) Please enclose with shipping and payment information or give code on phone orders.

IMPACT™ PLANT GROWTH STIMULANT YOU SAVE $15.00 Suggested Retail: $64.95 (32 oz. Jug. - 4 Acres)

Price with coupon: $49.95 Please send _____ jug(s) of Imperial IMPACT™ Plant Growth Stimulant.

Please send me ______ Art Prints. TOTAL Including shipping and handling $_________

TOTAL Including shipping and handling $_________

Please add $14.95 for shipping and handling for each print ordered. (Canadian residents call for shipping charges.) Please enclose with shipping and payment information or give code on phone orders.

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WHITETAIL INSTITUTE ® Field-Tester T-Shirts YOU SAVE $6.00

* Important: Shipping & Payment Information

100% Cotton Heavy-Weight T-Shirts Feature Whitetail Logo

* Please Include Daytime Phone Number For UPS Shipments and Any Questions We May Have About Your Order.

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Please send me Whitetail Institute Logo T-Shirts in the quantity,sizes, colors and sleeve-length indicated:

XXL ______ (Qty.), Color ___, ■ LS, ■ SS WHITE SHORT-SLEEVES (SS)

(P) PINK

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(W) WHITE (B) BLACK (T) TAN (O) OLIVE

Long-Sleeves:

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Mailing Address: ____________________________________________________

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Please send ___ Magnet Mix™ 6-Paks @ $84.95 Please send ___ Magnet Mix™ 3-Paks @ $49.95

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YOU SAVE $20-$35

Suggested Retail: $119.95 – 6-Pak, $69.95 – 3-Pak

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Please send _____ ■ 6-Pak KRAZE @ $84.95 Please send _____ ■ 3-Pak KRAZE @ $49.95

E FREGHT! I FRE

MAGNET MIX™

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Coupon Price: $84.95 or $49.95

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E FREGHT! I FRE

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“KRAZE” Flavored Deer Attractant YOU SAVE $20-$35

Shipping Address: (No P.O. Box) City: ________________________________State: _______Zip:_______________ Daytime Phone: ________________________Email: ________________________ Payment Method: ■ Check or Money Order Enclosed Charge to my: ■ Mastercard ■ Visa

■ Discover

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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

Vol. 18, No. 3 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

63


The Future Of Our Sport Johnathan Kirtland — Alabama My niece, Clancey Rice, recently took her first deer. She is 7 years old and loves deer hunting. She got the deer on a Chicory PLUS field last December. She told her paw-paw that it was the best day of her life. Thanks for a great product that makes big bucks and bigger memories.

Brad Herndon — Indiana Last year our granddaughter Jessica The Rascal Girl killed her first gobbler, a jake, while hunting out of a ground blind. She was nine years old at the time, was 4 feet tall and weighed 60 pounds. Her mom JoLinda (our daughter) and myself were with her on that trip. This year JoLinda, Jessica The Rascal Girl and I again went on a turkey hunt, and this time we sneaked up on one of our Imperial Whitetail Clover food plots about one acre in size. A gobbler was in the plot and after two different sneaky approaches, we were finally able to get within range of the tom. The final approach was made by Jessica belly crawling and Grandad Brad doing what we call in this neck of the woods “The Walrus Crawl.” She laid the gobbler to rest from a distance of 22 yards. Now I know you’re going to say the gobbler foundered itself on the Imperial Whitetail Clover and was so fat it wasn’t able to waddle away, but that wasn’t the case. It was a real down and dirty, skillful hunt all the way, and once again it was neat to see The Rascal Girl succeed. She now has grown to 4 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 64 pounds! I have attached a picture of her with her mature gobbler.

Hollie Robbins — Maryland Whitetail Institute products have helped increase the health and antler growth of the deer on my farm. Secret Spot is the best seed I have ever planted for small plots in the last 20 years and PowerPlant is one of my favorite products for larger food plots, very productive in forage, very graze tolerant; excellent all around. These products have specifically been planted in a 6 acre secluded field to increase deer movement in the area, and sightings to give my kids (3 girls) a better chance during deer season. Thank you for producing such great food plot products. Your products 64

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 18, No. 3

helped both my daughter Amanda (left in photo) 12 years old and Jenna (right) 8 years old, to kill their first deer on the same night, 15 minutes apart, in two separate fields. They thank you too.

Dennis Raymond — Michigan My family and I put Imperial Whitetail Clover in our food plot in the spring three years ago. that fall we noticed an increase in deer activity. We had spotted a few smaller bucks and a nice 8-pointer. Imperial Whitetail Clover kept the deer coming in throughout December. It wasn’t until late December during muzzle loader season that I harvested the largest deer of my life, a beautiful twelve-point buck. The following year my two oldest children, Shelby and Taylor, ages 12 and 13 each harvested their first deer, respectively a 7-point and a 9-point buck. Imperial Whitetail Clover has been a determining factor to our success. We look forward to future hunts with each of our five children in the Imperial Whitetail Clover fields.

Bart & Tori Landsverk — Wisconsin I was so proud of my daughter, Tori, when she took her hunter’s safety course this past spring. I didn’t know how she would approach the course; whether she’d be serious or a bit bored by the subject. As I helped her study for her test I could tell that she was taking the subject very seriously, but was also having some fun with it, as well. I couldn’t wait for the upcoming youth gun deer hunt that Wisconsin just started two years ago. The hunt allows 12- to 15-year-olds to shoot a buck and/or doe on Oct. 11 and 12 with a firearm. It is a great idea that gives young hunters a chance to hunt when the weather isn’t so cold. Tori is about 5 foot, 3 inches with long arms so I knew that she was tall enough to handle a 20-gauge shotgun, but these weapons have a fairly severe kick to them and that worried me. I spoke to a few people at

Remington Arms and they convinced me to try their managed recoil slugs. I chuckled after she shot her first round at the huge cardboard target that was 25 yards away. She turned after she fired and asked where she hit. I replied, “You barely hit the cardboard. I think you may have jerked the trigger a bit.” We worked on her form and after several shots she was starting to become respectable. Firing 10 or so slugs out of a gun with just a light shirt and jacket on would have normally bruised her shoulder, but the managed recoil slugs performed as promised. When I asked her how her shoulder felt she replied, “Not bad.” We were ready for the hunt. After a fruitless morning hunt when the temperature was perfect for hunting, it became very warm. I was bummed. I warned Tori that we may not see many or any deer that afternoon as the temps pushed the high 60s. She just smiled and said she was ready to go. The rest of this great story is better told by a 12-year-old girl. “I remember the first time I shot my deer. It was freezing cold up in the stand that morning, but it didn’t stay that way. It became very warm. So warm that the deer weren’t moving that afternoon,” Tori explained. “Both my dad and I were facing north towards where the deer were supposed to be coming from. My dad got this expression on his face like he heard something. Well, he did. He told me that there was a deer behind me. He then told me to slowly crouch down, turn around and grab my gun. I did as I was told. There it was… my deer. She was angled slightly away from me about 18 yards away. “My dad whispered to me to take the shot whenever I was ready. My heart was beating like I was on a roller coaster that was about to reach the top for the big plummet. Bang! I had pulled the trigger. The deer fell. It now felt like I had just zoomed down the roller coaster. My legs were shaking!” Tori had just shot a doe. I was so happy for her and so proud, as well. We still had 45 minutes of light left so I asked her if she wanted to wait to shoot a buck. “I’m so excited that I want to get out of the stand and go see my deer,” she replied. That didn’t bother me a bit so we carefully climbed out of the big box stand and she darted across the dried oak leaves. The smile on her face as I took her picture told the story. I have never seen a better deer harvested. “In my whole life I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Tori said to me. “It was definitely worth the work and the wait.” W www.whitetailinstitute.com


Since its 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.

FREE Trial Offer! Offer 1 — only $9.95 (shipping and handling)

Offer 2 — only $19.95 (shipping and handling)

Same as Offer 1 — PLUS: FREE all new DVD; FREE N0-Plow™ FREE 30-06™ Mineral (5 lbs.) FREE Imperial Clover™; FREE Extreme™ FREE Cutting Edge™ Supplement (5 lbs.) FREE Alfa-Rack™ PLUS; FREE Chicory PLUS™ FREE “Chic” Magnet™; FREE Winter-Greens™ FREE Double-Cross™ (each sample plants 100 sq. ft.)

800-688-3030 whitetailinstitute.com

The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail Pintlala, AL 36043 ®

Research = Results

“Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”


Whitetail News Vol 18.3  

Whitetail News Volume 18 issue 3

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