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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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10 Food Plot Temptations to Avoid Page 8

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… e u s s I In This Features 5

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Page 40

F By Chris

Page 50 www.whitetailinstitute.com

Vol. 19, No. 1 /

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 ®

Hunting Creates Community

Whitetail Institute OFFICERS AND STAFF FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT: RAY SCOTT Vice President of Operations.........................Wilson Scott Vice President, Executive Editor.....................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

A

fter all these years I am still awed by the enthusiastic community created by a shared interest in hunting and fishing. One of my latest speaking engagements was at a well-attended church-sponsored “outdoor expo” in north Alabama and all they wanted me to talk about was — you guessed it — hunting and fishing. As a matter of fact, when I am invited to speak at most places, I am told “tell us how you created those hunting and fishing businesses.” All I can tell them is it’s a whole lot of fun when you’re doing something you love! But I have to admit even I was a little surprised when, some twenty years ago, we created the Whitetail Institute and tapped into an even deeper dedication to hunting through whitetail nutrition and improved management techniques. Surprised because nutrition and management take WORK. Frankly, the Whitetail Institute doesn’t sell glamor — the “sizzle” of the steak. We sell the steak itself — the products and the practices that involve time, effort, money and lots of patience. But as our field testers know, the efforts are almost always well rewarded and the final pay off is huge, especially when Mother Nature cooperates. The fellowship encouraged by a love of hunting and the

outdoors is wonderfully illustrated in Tom Fegely’s heartwarming article from Ft. Benning where some amazing individuals are helping our wounded vets to participate in the whitetail hunting experience despite their varying personal challenges. I had the great privilege and honor of doing a weeklong Thanksgiving Tour for our troops in Iraq in 2004 and entertaining them with tales of — you guessed it again — hunting and fishing. These guys (and gals) were into it. It was without doubt one of the most gratifying experiences I have ever had in my life. To find that familiar passion far away in the deserts of Iraq was a magical moment. Our men and women in uniform are truly bright spots in these difficult times, exemplifying integrity and sacrifice when this country seems to be suffering from a massive “greed hangover” — and most of us haven’t been drinking. I can only profoundly thank the dedicated individuals who are working so hard to make a success of these innovative projects for our wounded warriors. W

Ray Scott

Some of the places deer like best are not the places for maneuvering a tractor. With No-Plow, that’s not a problem. If you can get in on a four-wheeler — or even on foot — you can plant this highly attractive, high-protein annual. Obviously, the more ground preparation you do, the better, but NoPlow will produce a good stand with only the prep you can do with hand tools. Limited access and limited time won’t limit the potential of No-Plow. FREE Trial Offer!

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

®

239 Whitetail Trail Pintlala, AL 36043 “Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

www.whitetailinstitute.com


SECRET SPOT AND IMPERIAL NO-PLOW, the Perfect One-Two Punch These two seed blends can increase your hunting success big time! By Michael Veine Photos by the Author

This food plot is located just 150 yards behind the author’s house but it is still his best morning stand because he can enter the stand without spooking any deer.

www.whitetailinstitute.com

I

f you’re looking to draw deer to a certain spot and cant or don’t want to invest thousands of dollars on expensive equipment, then Secret Spot and No Plow may be the perfect solution. These two products are designed to be extremely easy to use. They do not require any soil tillage yet they create lush food plots that will attract deer like a magnet. Those out-of-the-way honey holes that are hard or impossible to access with agricultural equipment are perfect for Secret Spot or NoPlow applications. These products are so versatile that they can be grown virtually anywhere the sun hits the ground. They can also be used to spice up existing food plots as the forage is preferred by deer like candy is by a child. My property in Southern Michigan is dominated by wetlands. During the summer though, “my” swamp always dries up and those waterless conditions typically last though most of the fall. Much of the wetlands are dominated by waist-high swamp grasses that neither feed deer nor provide them with cover, and in my opinion those areas are wasted spaces. I don’t want deer to just pass though my property; I want them to spend all their daylight hours on my land. Therefore I strive to convert those “useless” spaces into nearly 100 percent deer-preferred real estate to maximize my ability to attract and hold deer. Last year I created a new food plot in that swamp grass wasteland. It’s located close to heavy cover where deer are known to bed regularly. The plan was to give the deer a close, easy-to-access, high quality food source. By locating the food plot between the bedding area and agricultural fields, it was positioned perfectly to intercept and hold them there during daylight hours. The spot also featured a nearby, dense island of trees where I could hang a tree stand or conceal a ground blind for the perfect ambush. I had previously taken soil samples all over my property and knew that the dirt at that site was fairly low in some vital nutrients; however the pH was near neutral. Since no advanced soil correction was necessary, my first task was to clear the site of all vegetation, which I accomplished with herbicides and a little elbow grease. My first application of herbicides was sprayed during May, when things were really starting to green up. I used a backpack sprayer and mixed a heavy dose of Glyphosphatebased Roundup with a surfactant to really brownthings down. The treated area was 50 yards deep by 30 yards wide, which is about as large as I would tackle with just hand tools. That acreage though is perfect for a kill plot as it can easily be covered with archery gear, yet it still produces enough forage to keep the deer feeding and happy through most of the fall hunting seasons. The first spraying did indeed kill off a good portion of the greenery; however, as the site dried out, another wave of plants sprouted and were given a taste of Roundup as well. During late June I hit that plot again with another heavy dose of Glyphosphate. I gave the site a third Roundup treatment during mid-July, but by that time I was just working over the especially stubborn surviving plants which were few and far between. By August, the site was reduced to a knee-deep brown matt of dead vegetation that was so thick that it had to be removed before planting could

Vol. 19, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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A backpack sprayer is the perfect tool for treating small, no-till plots with herbicides.

begin. I worked over the whole site with my big weed whacker. It has a saw-blade brush-cutter attachment that I used to buzz off all the dead stuff. Then using a jumbo leaf rake, the trash was moved to the edges of the plot. With all the debris removed, the seed bed was essentially ready for planting. However, I like to add a water hole to my food plot setups, so with shovel in hand, I started digging. Even though the plot was located in the middle of a wetland, for much of the year, that swamp had about as much water available as a desert. By late summer the water table was about two feet below the ground, so I had to dig down about four feet to create a small water hole. That water hole, combined with a lush food plot, would give deer the ultimate, deluxe pit stop. In mid-August I seeded the site with a generous covering of Secret Spot using a hand crank Earthway Seed Spreader (available through the Whitetail Institute). A heavy dose of 12-12-12 fertilizer was also applied with the same spreader. I highly recommend that spreader as I previously used a cheaper model and the Earthway is far superior. Rains came the day after planting, so germination was fast and furious. The plot was growing like gangbusters and deer almost instantaneously started visiting the site in mass. My hopes were high, but then the hurricane season of 2008 rained on my parade with a vengeance. 2008 turned out to be one of the most active hurricane seasons on record. Michigan is not normally considered an “at risk” state for hurricane damage; however both Gustav and Ike tracked over us and stalled; dumping torrential rain across the region; So much rain in fact that it broke all kinds of records here. We got 10 times our normal rainfall amount dur-

ing September and it flooded out my new food plot big time. Even though the entire plot was underwater for a couple days, most of the vegetation still survived, demonstrating the hardiness of Secret Spot. I hunted that plot several times in 2008 and every sit produced opportunities to kill deer. One evening, just before dark, a nice buck came into the plot; however, by the time he fed into bow range the clock had ticked past the legal shooting time. I was still delighted to just watch him in the moonlight as he nibbled on the green stuff in front of me. It just proves that you don’t have to kill something to get massive doses of enjoyment out of hunting. One of the goals for an ideal deer hunting setup is to be able to enter and exit the stand without spooking deer. It’s especially important for morning hunts, because if you blow all the deer out of the area on the way in, your chances for success are slim at best. One of my stands is situated about 150 yards behind my house. That stand could be hunted every morning (with other than a north wind) without burning it out. For starters, the stand’s close proximity to my house is a big asset as the deer in the area get used to the sound and smell of human intrusions. The key draw to the stand site is a small food plot that is triangularly shaped with the hypotenuse being about 50 yards long. Another draw is a water hole that I dug there with a mini-excavator. During dry weather, the water table there is about five feet below the ground, so I had to dig down about 8 feet and the hole is about 15 feet in diameter. A thriving stand of Imperial Whitetail Clover comprises nearly half of the food plot. In fact, it’s been

SECRET SPOT is the only “personal” food plot planting. It’s designed to be planted in that small clearing in the middle of the woods where deer like to hang out. SECRET SPOT will attract and stop deer close to your stand. It’s so easy to plant, and so effective, you’ll buy a bag for every stand! Each bag of SECRET SPOT contains all the seed you need to plant a 3,000 sq. ft. food plot around your stand. It’s easy to plant and it grows quickly. • Requires minimal effort; no tillage necessary (simply remove grass or debris to expose soil, rake, broadcast seed and re-rake) • Loaded with a pH booster for maximum growth • Plant late summer/early fall for a hunting season’s worth of attracting and stopping deer close to your stand

800-688-3030 ®

6

The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

whitetailinstitute.com “Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

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Food plots are a great way to draw deer to and hold them on your property.

growing strong for six straight years. It’s a good idea though to provide deer with a variety of forage choices, so the other half of the plot gets an annual planting of NoPlow. The No-Plow portion of the plot gets sprayed with Roundup three times: once during late summer, during July, and then about one week before the planned planting during mid August. The plot pH is maintained with lime as close to 7.0 as possible. Even though No-Plow will grow on acidic soils, keeping the soil pH close to neutral will definitely increase the growth rate of the forage making it much more effective at drawing and holding deer. Before I plant No-Plow I rake the seed bed by hand with a large leaf rake. The annual herbicide treatments reduce the planting area to mostly bare, compacted dirt, and the raking helps rough up the surface for better germination and growth. I seed and fertilize the area using a hand-crank spreader. During mid-September, after the No-Plow is fully germinated and growing strong, I spray the plot with Impact Plant Growth Stimulant. A friend of mine grows an awesome tomato garden and the only thing he uses is sprayable Impact. Even though his soil there is extremely poor, he still gets bumper crops and attributes it to the Impact. It also works wonders on food plots, giving plants a burst of growth right when you need it most. Impact also sweetens the plants, creating the perfect draw for deer. There’s a tree stand overlooking that plot situated in a thick grove of red cedar trees about five yards from the border of the food plot. The stand is located between my house and the plot with a mowed trail leading to the stand from my back yard for silent entries. Even though that stand is only 10 feet off the ground, I’ve never been spotted or winded by deer from it. The cover is so thick between the stand and the plot that I’ve actually entered and exited the stand several times with deer feeding in the plot just 20 yards away. None of them ever noticed me. There’s also a delicious apple orchard about 50 yards from the stand, so the area gets so much deer traffic that it’s common for me to encounter a dozen or more deer from that stand on nearly every sit. It’s been a consistent producer over the years. As I work on my computer, I can gaze to my left at a pedestal shoulder mount of a beautiful 10-pointer that I took from that spot years ago. Coincidentally, I can also see that same mount through the window from the tree stand, so I can honestly say that I see a 10-pointer from that stand every time I hunt it. Secret Spot and No-Plow are just two more weapons in the food plotter’s arsenal. They are both annuals comprised of carefully selected formulas of cereal grains, brassicas and clover that are specially developed to attract deer and provide them with a high quality nutritional source. Both are designed to thrive in tough growing conditions with minimal investment. Best of all they produce the kind of results hunters can count on time and again. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

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WHITETAIL NEWS

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THE FORT BENNING STORY

HOPE, RENEWAL, EMPOWERMENT:

HUNTING and WOUNDED WARRIORS By Tom Fegely Photos by the Author

T

he nation’s news media continues to provide gut-wrenching details of warfare in Iraq, Afghanistan and other battle zones across the world, with almost each day carrying word of American troops who gave their all in tragic encounters with enemy forces. Some injured survivors return home to recuperate with family and friends. Others seek residence in veterans’ hospitals, where their lives take on new challenges, scarred forever by burns, gunshot wounds, blast injuries, traumatic amputations and other battle-related disabilities. Some recuperated vets might eventually return to the battlefields after healing or spend their days in military service. Despite the tragedies thousands of injured soldiers have endured, there comes the hope of spiritual renewal and empowerment made possible by modern wonders of high-tech surgery and medical rehabilitation. The good news is that military hospitals across the country report success stories spawned by activitybased restorative programs, many via the Wounded Warriors Project, WWP founded five years ago, and the Paralyzed Veterans of America, PVA formed in 1946, with 34 chapters nationwide.

Guide Bill Brickner, left, and hunter Bobby Terry ready for a day afield on the newly acquired battery-operated Bad Boy Buggy donated by Just Duke It Contracting.

A CHANCE TO HUNT AGAIN One of the diversions offering hope and welcome distraction for disabled servicemen is a broad-based recreational program in military hospitals ranging from billiards, hiking, camping, cycling, fishing, wheel-chair

Volunteer guides CPT Kyle Burns, left, and SSG Brandon Moak,who are war vets, stand next to the portable $20,000 electric lift that lets disabled hunters get a boost for seeking deer, turkeys and hogs. It was donated by the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

basketball and other activities — including hunting. A facility well known for its appeal to disabled veterans wishing to hunt is 182,000-acre Fort Benning, a U.S. Army post and hospital near Columbus, Ga., established in 1918. The property straddles the Chattahoochee River, and includes about 12,000 acres of Alabama landscape, giving healing hunters new hope of calling in sharp-eyed gobblers, setting their cross-hairs on wary bucks or taking aim at the post’s destructive feral hogs HELP FROM WARRIORS AND VETS At the helm of Fort Benning’s hunting program are WWP and PVA volunteers such as Bill Brickner, 66, a master sergeant and recipient of three Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. He was drafted in 1964 and retired in 1992. Just before retiring, he organized the post’s initial hunting outings after 29 years of service in Korea, Desert Storm and other Middle East conflicts. Disabled men who hunted before their service days became and continue to be his focus. During Brickner’s lengthy recuperation, he also fulfilled his wish of being able to deer hunt with his dad as he did in western www.whitetailinstitute.com


Volunteer Rick Shannon, left, and Fort Benning Junior Level Biologist David Mallard set up a camouflage blind on the edge of a food plot.

Pennsylvania as a youngster. Today, habitat development, access work and guiding during Georgia’s 82day deer season fill his days.

SFC Rick Shannon, a career counselor, continues to provide unyielding support to the program. Shannon has served 18 years and has been stationed at Fort

Benning since returning from deployment in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006. He also was deployed in Desert Storm and did two tours in Korea. Shannon never hesitates to offer his services as a volunteer guide. He believes he’s blessed to have the opportunity to provide his time, making sure disabled servicemen and veterans have the chance to participate in an activity that otherwise might not be afforded to them. He’s adamant this is something that’s owed to these people as a debt of gratitude for their service. Also assisting the program is SSG Brandon Moak, 30, an Army staff sergeant and medic who served on the surgery team with a tank unit in Afghanistan in 2006. He continues to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder yet serves double duty as a nurse and education division manager at Benning’s Martin Army Community Hospital. Moak, who hunted as a child in deer-rich Texas, said about two-thirds of the disabled veterans suffer some sort of head trauma. Hunters are always accompanied by experienced volunteer guides capable of handling the unique procedures necessary for safe and successful hunts. Another volunteer devoted to the cause is CPT Kyle Burns, 34, a 1993 enlistee who suffered traumatic brain injuries and serious neck and back trauma in 2006 in Afghanistan, when a Taliban roadside ambush took its toll. Today, he’s approaching full recovery and donates much of his time and concern to working with Benning’s hunting program. He experienced a favorite memory during one of his first outings when he joined his dad on a gobbler hunt and scored, making a longtime dream come true. Once a guided hunter himself, Burns has switched roles and serves as a guide to other disabled vets.

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attention to the honey holes we have set aside for the PVA stand,” Mallard said. “Offering these special hunters increased opportunities is our main goal with this program.” Another welcome donation was a Bad Boy Buggy, a camouflaged ATV that eases transportation woes to ground blinds about the hunting grounds. The all-electric four-wheel-drive vehicle runs nearly silently, making it perfect for safe, effortless access to deer and turkey food plots. Army veteran Daniel Duke and his partner Brian Ginn, owners of Just Duke It, a Benning contracting business, made a donation of $13,000 for the buggy. HELPING HANDS

Ken Cayce and Bill Brickner, right, stand in a field of Whitetail Institute’s Winter-Greens, one of many types of seeds planted in numerous food plots throughout the year.

BIOLOGY, BUCKS AND BLINDS Initially, in 1991, only four vets participated in hunts. In recent years, however, 15 to 25 or more WWP and PVA hunters have suited up and headed afield with thoughts of hogs, turkeys and whitetails that roam four tracts totaling about 250 acres, which are gated and set aside exclusively for disabled hunters in the program. This isn’t a one-shot affair, however, as Georgia has an 82-day deer season. Instrumental in the program’s appeal is David Mallard, 25, a junior-level biologist for Benning’s Conservation Branch. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Mallard oversees everything from creating food plots, land-management projects and aiding in the placement of moveable and permanent ground blinds. Under Mallard’s guidance, WWP and PVA volunteers are currently mapping additional acreage and building scattered ground blinds in anticipation of the increasing program. More than 500 disabled veterans are being transferred from other posts to Benning, and additional land will be set aside for more disabled hunters. “If we need something done to improve the habitat, David’s the man to do it,” Brickner said. “We’d have a hard time doing what we do without him.”

Other financial aid comes from the River City Gobblers in Columbus, Ga., that makes regular contributions to the Benning project via fund-raising banquets. Also enhancing habitat and providing better hunting and bigger bucks is the Alabama-based Whitetail Institute of North America, the preeminent producer of seeds and diet supplements used in food plots. Various types of seeds planted during all seasons provide sustenance throughout the year. “When we found out about the Fort Benning project’s deer hunting program for injured soldiers, we jumped at the opportunity to supply seeds and our help for the food plots,” said Whitetail Institute vicepresident Steve Scott. “Our military puts it all on the line to protect our freedom, and it’s an honor to give a little something back.” “Whatever we have to do to make their day a success, we do,” Brickner said. “It’s not unusual for a father or wife to accompany them on the hunts and families have been very supportive. We’ve even had warriors who didn’t want to hunt but were thrilled just to go out with us. One was happy to carry his camera and take pictures.” “Offering these special hunters increased opportuni-

■ Whitetail Institute and Whitetail Institute Field Testers Support Our Military >>>>>>>>>>>> If you would like to make a donation of seed to the Wounded Warriors project the Whitetail Institute will: ● Discount whatever you buy for Wounded Warriors 10% ● Whitetail Institute will match your order. (ex. You buy 50 pounds for the Wounded Warriors and we will ship 100 pounds) Call 800-688-3030 and our consultants will take your order and the Wounded Warriors project will receive double what you pay for. Not tax deductible.

ties is our main goal,” Mallard said. “The love for the outdoors these guys possess shouldn’t be cut short from being injured or wounded while serving their country. In the end, we will keep the outdoors accessible to our heroes and assure that smiles remain on their faces during hunting season and beyond.” For additional information on the Fish and Wildlife Program or Wounded Warrior and Paralyzed Veterans of America hunting opportunities, contact the Fort Benning Fish and Wildlife Biologist at (706) 544-7516.W

SSG Brandon Moak, left, and CPT Kyle Burns display the electric-powered, Bad Boy Buggy upon which disabled hunters are given efficient access to more than 250 acres of prime wildlife habitat.

A BUGGY AND A PORTABLE LIFT WWP and PVA financial help and donations make various services possible, as do individuals, outdoorrelated businesses and sporting organizations. One of the newest and most beneficial gifts came via PVA’s financing of a battery-powered lift device, which rises to 20 feet and can be hitched to an ATV or truck. The portable unit, built in Mississippi, can be moved from one food plot to another. PVA’s contribution of $20,000 made possible the creation of this portable box stand, housing a bench seat and ample room to accommodate hunters inside the raised shooting house. “When it comes to planting time, we pay very close 10

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

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Ohio Hunter F Scores Multiple Successes with Imperial Products

or years, I have used Whitetail Institute’s Winter-Greens on my small food plot and Imperial Whitetail Clover and Imperial Chicory Plus on my two main food plots.

By David Lemery Photos by the Author

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

The results have been staggering. During the past six years I have shot six mature bucks: two 8-pointers, two 10-pointers and two 12-pointers. The phrase “plant it, and they will come” is very true, and if you look at my wall, you will see why I believe this theory. I planted my food plots along a scenic river on about 80 acres in Ohio. My main food plot is in the back of the property, with Chicory Plus covering about 2.5 acres. In the middle of the property is a thicket coming off a hillside. It’s about 1.5 acres and is covered with Imperial Clover and Chicory Plus. The deer seem to frequent it often to get a bite without being spooked. At the other end of the property, I plant Winter-Greens so I have food long into winter to keep attracting deer to my hunting grounds. Also, I have 30-06 Plus Protein mineral licks in the back field, which I keep charged all year. I don’t hunt directly over my food plots. I believe it’s best to hunt the trails leading to them. These trails are easy to find and are usually 50 to 100 yards off a food plot. I’ve found that if an area has heavy hunting pressure, which most do, deer stay just off the food plot in thick cover and wait till dark to enter your plot. On Nov. 30, this past season, I was in my tree stand about 50 yards off a food plot. This stand was in thick cover, so deer used it frequently. After 20 minutes of sitting, the floodgates opened, as does and button bucks started coming down the trail two at a time. I counted as many as 32 deer in a little over an hour. I was hoping they would not smell me; I thought a buck had to be nearby. After a few intense minutes, with more deer than I have ever had under my tree stand, I caught movement to the left of the trail the does had traveled. There was a big buck coming down the trail. I recognized him, having captured his picture as he fed in my plots at night. I drew a bead on him and shot him

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broadside. The buck ran 30 yards and died. The deer — my largest — weighed 285 pounds, and his 10-point rack scored 150 5/8 inches, making the Ohio Big Buck Club book. My second largest buck came Nov. 7, three seasons ago. It was a cold, breezy evening, and I decided to use a buck decoy and do some rattling and grunting near a small food plot at the far end of my property. About 90 minutes before dark, I started grunting and rattling blindly, because I had not seen anything. All of a sudden, a huge 12-pointer came full-throttle, trotting in sideways, his hair standing on end and antlers low to the ground. After he reached my buck decoy, he was only 18 yards from my stand. I sent an arrow through both of his lungs. The buck ran only 50 yards and went down. He weighed 230 pounds, had 12 points and scored 137 5/8 Pope and Young inches. I used the same setup this past year, but without a decoy. Just before legal shooting time, three does came out and walked around my tree stand before moving to the food plot. I started using a doe can call, with some deep tending grunt calls every 10 minutes. Out of nowhere came a 12-point buck. It had six typical points on one side and double main beams on the other. It might not be a record-book buck, but it was a fine nontypical deer — the first I have shot. It ran to my tree stand and stood broadside. He weighed 210 pounds. My buck from two years ago did not carry as much excitement as the others. It came during the “extra” weekend of Ohio’s gun season. My father and I went out in the evening, and I walked around, trying to run

During the past six years David Lemery has shot six mature bucks using Imperial products. The phrase, “plant it and they will come” has never been more accurate.

a deer past my father. I saw two nice bucks in my clover field, so I took aim at one and shot. We found the buck 100 yards off the food plot. He weighed 250 pounds, had an 8-point rack and scored 137 Boone and Crockett inches. Four seasons ago, during Ohio’s gun season, a good friend and I were hunting — during my first really good year of deer management — over an Imperial Clover field. My friend circled the deer sanctuary, and a nice 10-pointer ran straight to me. The buck weighed 200 pounds, had 10 points and scored 138 3/8 Boone and Crockett inches. Five years ago, on the edge of an Imperial Clover field, a nice 8-pointer stepped out, and I shot him with my bow. The deer weighed 215 pounds and scored 130 Boone and Crockett inches. These food plots guarantee that I will attract deer of all sizes to my property. The best aspect is taking my

Imperial Whitetail

sons, Evan, 10, and Cole, 8. They have sat with me many nights in our double stands and have seen me shoot deer. They have learned about the importance of deer management and how to plant food plots, and they always enjoy helping me gear up for the season. With the success I have had with Whitetail Institute products, I’m hoping my boys will have stories of their own to tell next year. They are learning and are ready to get started. I believe that with each growing season, there will be many opportunities for them. Thanks Whitetail Institute for the great products and research. These food plots guarantee that I will attract deer of all sizes to my property. The best aspect is taking my sons, Evan, 10, and Cole, 8.… they have learned about the importance of deer management and how to plant food plots. Whitetail Institute products have helped me become a more successful hunter. W

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T U R N I N G D I RT By Mark Trudeau, National Sales Manager

Part Five: Seeders – Chapter Two In this series of articles, the Whitetail Institute’s agricultural expert, Mark Trudeau, passes along his decades of real-world experience in farming and related matters to our Field Testers. In the first three segments of “Turning Dirt,” Mark provided his insight to help first-time buyers select a food plot tractor and discussed tractor implements suitable for ground tillage, such as plows, tillers, disks, drags and cultipackers. In this segment, Mark discusses seeders.

B

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

Shoulder Seeder

be slightly covered by soil when planted. “Small seeds” such as clovers, chicory and brassica should be covered by less than 1/8 to 1/4 inch of soil. Some forage product blends have both large and small seeds in them. For instructions on planting depth for a product containing different sized seeds, refer to the planting instructions for that product. The biggest difference between broadcast seeders and drills. Broadcast seeders, such as shouldercarried, ATV-mounted and cyclone (tractor) types throw seed out onto the surface of a seedbed. Drills physically place seed in a specific place, either on or in the seedbed. Let’s look at the different seeder types and discuss what they do. BROADCAST SEEDERS Without question, a simple shoulder-carried broadcast seeder is the most versatile type of seeder there is. The reason is that the operator is direct-

Seeding with a Broadcast Seeder

FIRST PASS

12 FEET

efore we get into the second chapter of our two-part discussion of seeding implements, I want to make one point clear: An inexpensive broadcast seeder is all most folks will ever need to put out Imperial seeds. The “Turning Dirt” series of articles is just meant to give folks some basic information about the broad range of different equipment types that are out there, and that’s why they include information on complex equipment as well as simple implements. But that is not intended to suggest that you must have anything more than just a simple broadcast seeder. Frankly, a simple, shoulder-carried broadcast seeder is all most of us will ever need to do a great job of seeding Imperial forage blends. If you’d like to know more about the differences in seeder types generally, though, then read on. In Chapter 1 of Part Five, we talked about broadcast seeders, drills and features they have in common. Now we’re ready to take what we discussed a little deeper. This is perhaps the most detailed segment we’ve done in this series so far (which is why I mentioned above that this is just for folks who are even considering specialized seeding equipment), so I’ll start by recapping some of the critical information from those segments. If you’d like to review the previous articles, they are available on-line at: www.whitetailinstitute.com/info/news/. Should you till your soil or not? Some soils should not be tilled because of their structure. Examples of sites that should not be tilled are slopes with highly erodable soil, and soils consisting of deep sand with a shallow layer of topsoil on top. Tilling in either case can destroy what top soil there is. Seedbed preparation: Most Imperial forage products should be planted in a “prepared seedbed.” Generally, this means that before planting, the seedbed has (1) been limed if needed to raise soil pH to 6.5 or higher, (2) tilled, (3) smoothed and firmed to eliminate cracks, and (4) cleared of existing vegetation. (Full planting dates and instructions for all Imperial forage products are available here: http://www.whitetailinstitute.com/info/planting/.) Seed sizes and planting depths: Seeds commonly planted for food plots are generally one of two sizes. “Large seeds” such as oats and beans should

12 FEET

THIRD PASS (IF SEED LEFT)

SECOND PASS

ly connected to the seeder. The operator has instant, real-time information about how much seed remains in the seeder because his arm is physically touching it. It also allows him to instantly adjust how much seed goes out and how wide the seed is thrown simply by varying his pace and how fast he turns the handle. And the best part is that they are also the least expensive to buy. The preceding graphic and following explanation show a great way to use a broadcast seeder. This method will help assure that you get broad, even coverage with your seed and don’t leave gaps. 1. Put one half of the seed allotted for the plot into the seeder bag. 2. Walking north/south, and keeping about 12 feet between each pass, try to put that amount of seed out over the whole plot. (The instructions that come with some shoulder-type broadcast seeders say that the seeder will broadcast seed out even as far as 24 feet, but I have found that leaving 12 feet between passes tends to provide the most even and uniform coverage.) 3. When you have covered the entire plot once, then put the rest of the seed into the bag. 4. Walk the entire plot again putting seed out, but this time walking east/west. 5. If you have any of the allotted seed left after you have walked the plot twice, put it out walking just inside the perimeter of the plot. Broadcast seeders are also available for tractors. Referred to as “cyclone seeders,” these can be used anywhere you can access with a tractor. They allow you to cover a lot of ground in a hurry, but they are not as precise as shoulder-carried seeders. Every broadcast seeder is unique. You need to observe what your seeder is doing and adjust your speed and path based on wind and where the seeder is throwing the seed. Try to adjust the seeder before starting so that you will be traveling at a rate of about 5-6 mph when using an ATV seeder, and about 7 mph when using a tractor cyclone seeder. DRILLS Planting large seeds with a cyclone seeder requires that another pass be made after seeding with an implement such as a disk or harrow to lightly cover the seed. The main advantage of drills is that they can place seed very precisely in the seedbed in only one pass. Grain drills and hard-land drills both have “openers,” (pairs of round blades set in a v-shaped pattern), which make adjacent furrows in the soil as the drill moves along. As the furrows are opened, the seed-disbursal tubes, whose bottom ends are mounted between the openers, drop seed into the furrows, and then chains or packing wheels close

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of the soil. One way to do this with a drill is to detach the bottom end of the tubes from the openers, allowing the tubes to hang straight down and the seeds to fall straight to the ground. Hard-land drills offer an additional way to ensure that small seeds don’t get too deep. Specifically, they can be “floated” (adjusted with the tractor’s hydraulics to disturb the surface very little, if at all). Unlike cyclone seeders, which disburse seed at a constant rate regardless of tractor speed, the rate at which seed is disbursed from grain drills and hard-land drills is dependent on how fast the tractor is going. Specifically, the seeddisbursal mechanism on a drill is linked to the imple-

Cyclone Seeding

the soil. While grain drills are designed to be used in soil that has already been disked or tilled, hard-land drills have an additional component, coulter blades or “coulters,” that pre-cut the ground ahead of the openers. This, and the much greater weight of a hard-land drill, allows it to plant in un-worked ground. While grain drills and hard-land drills are excellent for planting large seeds, they can be somewhat limited when it comes to planting small seeds. Hardland drills usually come with both large- and smallseed hoppers, but grain drills usually come with only a large-seed hopper as standard equipment. Small seeds “can” be planted with a drill as long as it has the optional small-seed box, but remember small seeds should be planted very near the surface

Gear Connected to Riding Wheels

In a drill seed-flow mechanism, gears in slots at bottom of hopper are turned by chain-driven shaft. The amount of seed that drills put out is regulated by the tractor's speed.

Seed-Drop Tube

Coulter

Opener Packing Wheel

Grain drills and hard-land drills have openers and seeddrop tubes. Unlike grain drills, hard-land drills also have coulters to "pre-cut" the soil ahead of the openers.

ment’s riding wheels by chain and sprockets. The faster the riding wheels are turning, the faster the chain turns, and the more seed flows from the seed box. This can help keep seed from being wasted the way it might be if a cyclone seeder is used on a narrow or triangular plot, or if the seedbed is so rough that the operator must frequently change speed. Drills also offer great control over how much seed you put out and where it goes. Unlike cyclone seeders, drills will not allow seed to move from the reservoir when the implement is not moving across the ground. That’s because a drill’s seed-disbursal

Introducing the Brillion FPS-6 Food Plot Seeder, the newest member of the Brillion seeder family. The Brillion FPS-6 has the versatility to operate in a wide variety of wildlife food plot conditions and plant numerous grasses, legumes, small grains and other blends and mixes. It has the features necessary for precise seed metering and placement, as well as outstanding preparation and finishing of the seed bed. The FPS-6 was designed with input from you, our customers, and we stand behind it with our years of experience as a leader in the industry.

Brillion Iron Works, Inc. www.brillionfarmeq.com (800) 409-9749 ©2009 Brillion Iron Works, Inc. All rights reserved. BRPS09083237

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The Food Plot Seeder has all the rugged durability to provide the years of service you’ve come to expect from a Brillion.

Vol. 19, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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mechanism operates off the drill’s main riding wheels. This mechanism only allows seed to move from the hopper to the tubes when the drill is in motion. Keep in mind that it takes a lot of horsepower to pull a hard-land drill. For example a 40 to 50horsepower tractor should be able to pull a loaded 10 to 12-foot grain drill. In contrast, it takes at least a 70-horsepower tractor to pull a loaded 8-foot hard-land drill without unduly straining the tractor. Also, consider that the hoppers and drop tubes on both grain drills and hard-land drills are sized either for large seeds or small seeds, not both. That can present problems if you are planting a blend that contains both large and small seeds. An innovative solution for planting blends containing both small and large seeds is Brillion’s new FPS-6 Food Plot Seeder. Unlike a drill, the FPS-6 doesn’t rely on openers, tubes and closers to place the seed in the soil. The FPS-6 has a set of light disks at the front, followed by two sets of cultivators, which are offset with the disks. This does an excellent job of leveling the seedbed ahead of the seed boxes. Once seed leaves the seed boxes, it does not drop through tubes. Instead the seed falls onto “pans” (basically horizontal metal bars) and then drops onto the seedbed in a uniform pattern. The FPS-6 is also equipped with a harrow and a cultipacker. The tillage, seeding and finishing components on the

The foundation of Pure Attraction’s early-season attraction and nutrition are WINA-Brand oats which are winter-hardy and drought-resistant. Their high sugar content makes them exceptionally attractive and palatable to deer. WINA-Brand Oats performance is unsurpassed by all other forage oats tested. WINA-Brand forage brassicas are also included in Pure Attraction to provide abundant forage during the coldest months of the winter. Read the early reviews from all over the country: • From Virginia: “The Pure Attraction blend is extremely winter-hardy and lasted through the winter. It really grew well the whole time too. Even though it was heavily grazed, it continued to provide food for the deer during the cold weather.” • From Michigan: “The deer ate the Pure Attraction like crazy. The WINA-Brand oats and winter peas came up first and then the brassica. The deer hit the WINA-Brand oats and winter peas first. As of Nov. 18, both plots had been grazed low, but the plants were still green.” • From Maine:“Pure Attraction is awesome. The blend seemed to click with my soil and the deer. Another great product.” ®

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

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

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

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

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ENGINEERED ATV FOOD PLOT EQUIPMENT

The Brillion FPS-6 Food-Plot Seeder is equiped with light disks, offset cultivators, a harrow and a cultipacker.

seeder can be engaged independently, allowing the operator maximum flexibility of use. Another superb feature of the FPS-6 that puts it far ahead of drills for planting small seeds is its micro-metering capability. This feature allows the operator to plant tiny amounts of even the smallest seeds right where he wants them. By now, you should have a good handle on the different types of seeders that can be used to plant food plots. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, most food plotters will never need anything more than a broadcast seeder. If you have wanted to know what some of the basic differences are between different types of seeders, though, I hope you found this article informative. W

Till-Ease Model 543 Chisel Plow/Field Cultivator = Up

to 6 inch depths, 43 inches wide. = Electric lift with ATV controls. = Rigid shanks for easy penetration in hard ground.

AcrEase 44 Inch & 57 Inch Rough Cut Mowers

Till-Ease Model 2148 Flip-Over Cultipacker = 48

inches wide. = 21 individual agricultural quality packer wheels made of cast iron. = Flip over design for easy transport.

= 17.5-22

HP electric start engine options. height adjustment from 2-8 inches. = Twin blade design for added mulching. = 4 tires for added support and close trims. = Deck

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE YOUR ATV’S ABILITY. Make A Real Work Horse Out Of Your ATV By Purchasing Equipment Engineered Correctly For ATVs. Check Out The ATV Food Plot Equipment Offered By Kunz Engineering. 2100 Welland Rd. = Mendota, IL 61342

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17


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

Land Preparation —

Setting the Stage for Successful Weed Control and Food Plots

I

like to periodically visit internet forums that have discussions related to deer hunting and food plots. I guess the term is ‘lurking’ — since I neither post questions nor participate in discussions. I use these internet discussions as a source of ideas for my articles. One of the frequent topics in late winter or early spring is land preparation for food plots. Most of the responses and recommendations for land preparation sequences are conceptually correct. Sometimes a few posters lead readers to think that their personal recommendation must be followed to the letter, with no deviation. To paraphrase their decree: Failure to follow the exact land preparation protocol will guarantee food plot failure. (I have noticed similar posturing among precision rifle shooters describing their own rifle barrel break-in procedures). Instead of dwelling on an exact sequence of events, my approach to land preparation is to focus

on the goals of such preparation and frame these goals in a manner so that you develop your own protocol based on your unique situation. For the purposes of our discussion, I have broken land preparation into two sub-categories: site preparation and seedbed preparation (also called conditioning). SITE PREPARATION Food plots can be established in the most pristine of sites — old agricultural fields with deep friable soils. Or, food plots can be established in the roughest of brambles — clear cuts. One of the goals of site preparation is to gain the advantage over tough perennial weeds far in advance of planting. This is particularly important for food plots in “new ground.” Aggressive weed control during site preparation is the best opportunity to control

tough perennial weeds such as briars, blackberry, trumpet creeper, johnsongrass, quackgrass, and common bermudagrass. Site preparation weed control is equal parts tillage and nonselective herbicides. A disk harrow is often the implement of choice. If the site has large amounts of plant debris, a heavier harrow will cut the debris better than a lightweight implement. Gangs of harrow blades should be set for more aggressive action (blades set at a sharp angle) to cut roots and bury plant debris. Tillage also chops the roots, rhizomes, and tubers of perennial weeds which weakens the ability of perennial weeds to regenerate from these vegetative structures. When tillage is used sequentially with a nonselective herbicide such as glyphosate (Roundup and generics), most perennial weeds are greatly suppressed before planting. In addition, the tillage—glyphosate sequence is significantly more effective than either

Previous Whitetail News articles in the Turning Dirt series of articles discuss various tillage implements and how they are typically used and are available at www.whitetailinstitute.com.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

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tillage or glyphosate alone. The perennial weeds targeted for control during site preparation require a high rate of glyphosate: one gallon of glyphosate concentrate mixed in 50 gallons water — 2 percent solution. For those who rely heavily on glyphosate for weed control, please understand that glyphosate alone is often not sufficient for perennial weed control. Perennial weeds need to be weakened by repeated tillage before using herbicides. Tillage during site preparation also defines the size and shape of the food plot. This is not a onepass process. The first few tillage passes are brutally rough. Subsequent tillage operations break clods, eventually smoothing and leveling the site. This is also the ideal time to apply and incorporate lime to raise soil pH. Successful site preparation is done several months in advance of food plot establishment. This is a classic example of the need to develop a calendar of events and logistical plan far in advance of food plot establishment. Doing so pays great dividends in weed control and successful food plot establishment. SEEDBED PREPARATION Tillage to finish preparing seedbeds can be easily timed to control emerged weeds and deplete numbers of viable weed seed in the upper layers of the soil profile. This is called stale seedbed weed control. Stale seedbeds should be tilled at biweekly intervals prior to planting. In forage crops,

which have limited weed control options, this is a valuable component of an integrated weed management system. Seedbed preparation does far more than just deplete viable weed seeds with stale seedbed tillage. Proper seedbed conditioning prepares the soil for sowing small-seeded forages and sets the stage for uniform forage-stand establishment, which greatly improves the competitiveness of the forage crop with weeds. Skimpy stands are the bane of farmers, regardless of the crop. Skimpy or sparse stands prevent forages from competing with weeds, effectively giving weeds a ‘head start,’ regardless of whatever herbicides are later thrown at the weeds. After working 25 years with Georgia peanut growers, whenever I notice a skimpy peanut stand there is a parallel weed control problem that herbicides cannot solve. The two crop production problems go hand-in-hand. This is equally the case for forages planted in food plots. The key to seedbed preparation is just enough tillage to break clods to ensure good seed-soil contact. The seedbed needs to be slightly firm and settled. The reason for a settled seedbed is to prevent small forage seeds from being placed too deep by the cultipacker or drag. Too much seedbed tillage can be too much of a good thing. Excessive tillage can compact the soil and impede root growth. When finishing a seedbed, remember the rule of extremes: tillage when extremely dry or extremely wet can ruin the seedbed. The exact techniques to produce a quality

seedbed vary according to soil type and texture, along with the ever present factor — logistics. That is the reason why I prefer not to prescribe an exact sequence. Instead of focusing on an exact tillage sequence, focus on the overall objective: Produce a slightly settled seedbed, free of weeds and clods. A disk harrow has been frequently mentioned as the implement of choice for seedbed preparation. Other tillage implements will produce similar results. Examples are the field cultivator (also known as a seedbed conditioner) and power tiller. Previous Whitetail News articles in the Turning Dirt series of articles discuss various tillage implements and how they are typically used. These articles are an excellent reference for alternatives to the disk harrow. These articles are available at www.whitetailinstitute.com/info/news. My kids will attest to the fact that I have been a reluctant participant in the digital age. What little I know about computers and modern technology is fairly recent knowledge. Early in my remedial computer education, an instructor’s casual comment caught my attention: “Garbage in, garbage out.” The context of the statement was the quality of the computer output was no better than the quality of the data entered. This is true with site preparation, seedbed conditioning, and food plot success. If there is scant land preparation and not enough attention to detail, the resulting food plot may be a disappointment. Skimpy forage stands and weeds may rule the food plot. Garbage in, garbage out. 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

Vol. 19, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

19


so happy that he got his first deer, when all of a sudden I look over his shoulder and saw this big buck walking right were the doe was. So I put down the camera and grabbed the gun, and shot the 12 pointer. He fell right where he was walking. The deer green scores 170. I would like to say thank you to the Whitetail Institute for the product “No-Plow“. I always say “Let them go, so they can grow”.

Larry Nixon — Arkansas

Thomas Lilley — Michigan

Just wanted to write and thank the Whitetail Institute for a great deer season. We had a very small acorn crop this past year, so I planted almost 10 acres of Pure Attraction and Winter-Greens, scattered around 600 acres. The growth of the food plots was awesome and the deer that showed up were unbelievable. We saw a number of bucks every day we hunted. My wife Amy got a nice 3 1/2 year old 9 point in muzzle loading season and thinks she messed up on a deer opening morning because I was fishing and not home to help her. At daylight she had two 8’s, a 9 and a big 10 in her food plot. It was so early in the morning and with me gone she didn’t realize just how good the 10 was. That was Oct. 13 and she never saw that deer again. Later in the week (after I got home) she got the good 9. My daughter loves to hunt also. Her name is Lindsey and she’s 23 years old. On Nov. 15, it was cold, with a North wind, which was perfect for Amy’s stand. Only problem was Lindsey forgot to mention she was going to Mom’s food plot. Anyway at 4:45 p.m. out walks the big 10 to run off a smaller buck. Lindsey made a perfect shot and got a 153 6/8”, 4 1/2 year old monster. She put it in her phone call to me seconds after the shot. It’s a monster, I got a monster she said and indeed it is. In Van Buren County, Ark., a chocolate horned perfect 10 is very rare. In fact, in our area I’ve only seen one buck that scored better in 40 years of hunting here. That shows that age and good food are the main ingredients for big bucks. It takes a lot to hunt hard and not shoot till you see a deer of age, but that’s what it takes to get a true trophy. Amy’s very proud of Lindsey’s deer, but told her she better not get in her stand again without permission! I was told to keep out too. Ha Ha.

Steven Hood — Illinois A really bad start to last year’s Shotgun season ended up pretty nice. I was a half-hour late to the woods, after forgetting my boots and tags, and was walking into my stand 15 minutes after sun up. As I walked along the edge of my property to my stand, I was at least happy that I wasn’t bumping any deer off our 3 acre plot of Alfa-Rack. I climbed into my stand, which is about 60 yards inside the tree line off our plot at 6:30 a.m. At 6:50 a.m. the first deer of the day was coming up the trail from the south, heading straight to 20

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

me, making a beeline for the plot. After watching him come 40 yards closer, I pulled up at my first chance, and about 15 seconds later fired at 28 yards. He weighed 195 dressed, and gross scored 161 2/8” with a 20” spread. This is the largest buck of my life. My Alfa-Rack plot is in its 2nd year and doing great. This was my first attempt at food plots, and is paying off with big dividends. I will be putting in more plots in the spring and fall, and all will be Whitetail Institute products.

When I planted Imperial Whitetail Clover the deer stayed in the area more and I killed a buck that went into the Michigan State Record Books. He scored 166 5/8.

Bob Jekel — Missouri

Dan Hellenbrand — Wisconsin The two deer in the photo were shot on my dad’s land in Richland Center, Wis. He owns 80 acres that is mostly woods. So, because it is all woods I have been planting “No-Plow” for about 5 years, in the center of my dad’s land. The land is 2 hours away from where I live so it is nice that I can use a product that does not need a lot of maintenance. I shot the deer opening day of gun hunting last season. I told a friend that he should sit with me because I normally see a lot of deer. I saw a 130 class buck right away but it was too far for my friend to shoot. The deer was headed right toward my brother, Tad. About ten minutes had gone by, and Tad shot his first good deer, a 130 class 8 pointer. I was sitting looking downward on the hill when I saw a big doe come walking around the hill side. I told my friend to wake up (he had been sleeping) that there was a deer walking right at him. So I was going to get it on camera, his first deer, but he was so excited he shot right when the camera was turning on. We were

I started with two 2 acre plots, one with Imperial Whitetail Clover and the other with ladino clover. The Imperial pulled the deer at a rate of 5 to 1 over the ladino. I have been a field tester for Whitetail Institute for 15 years. I tried Winter-Greens this past season in a 2 acre plot. Deer are in this field all day long. See picture with cage. Incredible usage. Deer sightings have increased from 2 to 4 a week to 10 to 20 a day. Thanks Whitetail Institute for these products.

Philip Riff Sr. — New Hampshire I use Imperial Whitetail Clover and Winter-Greens. They work real well. We have bigger does and fawns too. I hunt in New Hampshire and Vermont with a crossbow. I am totally disabled and cannot use regular bow. This is one of the deer I got in New Hampshire this year. The bucks are getting bigger every year.

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Frank Wilson — Virginia

Tim Rabjohn — New York We had a super dry summer! Planted Winter-Greens on Aug. 8 and by October I had thigh high, thick, lush plants. It took a few frosts but they are pounding it now. I’ve owned these 200 acres for 10 years and this is my best buck ever. He is a 10 point with a 22 inch spread. I will be planting more Winter-Greens and all my roads and trails in Imperial Whitetail Clover this year to help keep the boys home, at least till after dark. It seems that the largest tracks on the property are in the Winter-Greens right now. Hmm.

will walk by and getting lucky. Here in southern Ohio two summers ago we had 23 days in the 90s in August and around 19 days in the 90s in September with hardly any rain on my farm. I thought I was going to lose everything I planted recently and had planted the year before, I now won’t be near as stressed if it happens again because the Imperial Whitetail Clover became stressed for around a month but bounced right back in hunting season and still after at least 12 hard frosts it is six acres of lush green groceries. The Winter-Greens seems to still be growing and nothing, heat, lack of rain or cold seems to affect them. Anyone not using this stuff is not getting near the hunting experience that they could be getting. I am looking forward to planting Pure Attraction for next season. Enclosed is a pic of Tim Skews with a great Winter-Greens buck.

Dan Holod — Pennsylvania

Jeff Pait — North Carolina I have been using Whitetail Institute products going on 12 years now. With the introduction of Whitetail Institute products on my farm and some common sense management practices, the quality of the deer has completely gone to the top of the charts. Everyone should be involved in this type of deer management on some level. The attached photo shows the most recent buck I harvested from one of my 9 food plots using Whitetail Institute products. Imperial Whitetail Clover and Chicory PLUS helped grow this 142 inch buck.

Jason Dye — Ohio Whitetail Institute products have changed my hunting from guessing to actually being able to find certain deer and hunting them instead of just hoping a big rack

We use Imperial Whitetail Clover and over the years we have seen a marked increase in buck activity as well as the size of bucks and racks. Please see the enclosed pictures of last year’s harvest. We went 7 for 7 on bucks. The smallest was 17 inches.

Wayne Lovelady — Tennessee We’ve noticed our bucks having more mass and larger antlers since using 30-06 Mineral/Vitamin supplements. See enclosed pictures.

I’ve been using Whitetail Institute products since 1997. In my opinion he best one of all is Imperial Whitetail Clover. I’ve managed weed and grass competition with Arrest and Slay on all plots and have had good results concerning harvesting good bucks. I planted PowerPlant this past spring and it is now August and the sunflowers and sorghum are over 7 feet tall. The beans and vines and other stuff are drawing deer like a magnet. I must say that every time I’ve ever called the Whitetail Institute, the folks are the best! They’ll talk to you and listen to your problem or request with real interest. Thanks Whitetail Institute. Way to go! Now I want to tell you a short story about the buck of my lifetime I killed last November. I was hunting on a neighbor’s farm. He also plants Imperial Whitetail Clover. I’ve enclosed two full mounted deer he has killed near his Imperial Whitetail Clover plots. They net scored 142 and 158. The wind is right and I’m in the pine stand and at about 4:30 pm seven does come into the field. I wanted the old boss doe but she stopped where I couldn’t shoot. However, a mature doe was to my left. I could see her through a football size hole through the pine branches. I aimed my Knight Disc Supreme .50 cal rifle and shot and when the smoke cleared, deer were running everywhere and then they’re gone except one. She laid dead 50 yards to my left side where I shot her. I reloaded and stayed put. Who knows what might happen. I had better than a hour left to hunt. At approximately 5 p.m. this big buck steps out on the North end of the field. I have about a 140 yard shot, but I’d have to stand up and that will make the pine tree shake. The buck crosses the field to my left (west) and again at the edge by some small trees makes a scrape and chews on a branch. I now have about 120 yard shot, but again I’d have to stand up and that would get the tree to shake. I have time so I’ll wait for him to give me the shot I want. He starts my way but the pine’s branches are blocking my view of him. (Continued on page 54)

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The Hot-Point M Approach for Creative Habitat By Scott Bestul

Charles J. Alsheimer

Working with tools that generate heat

y friend Ted Marum had nine whitetail bucks travel past his tree stand one November morning this past fall. And those weren’t mere sightings; every deer passed within an easy bow shot of his platform. Though three of those bucks were 3-1/2 years old, my selective buddy passed on them, hoping they’d gain another year of maturity.

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Then the tenth buck arrived. This deer — a heavybeamed giant Ted would be happy to tag — was about to make his final steps when a distant doe caught his attention. We can all write the rest of the script. One more impending slam-dunk buck encounter thwarted by a slickhead. Don’t like shooting does for management reasons? Adopt a different philosophy — revenge. It’s much more gratifying. Back to Ted. His multiple-buck morning fascinated me on several levels. First, we all dream of those days when the timber erupts with buck activity. But this was no right-spot-right-time-lucked-into-a-hot-doe morning. Though no one can make deer appear, it’s possible to dictate significant portions of their movement after they’re on their feet. Ted had made that happen, and his technique was simple: He used a chainsaw. The previous winter, Ted had clear-cut a sizeable chunk of timber in this area. But before he fired up the implement, he studied the ground carefully. Terrain features created a handful of nice funnels, but my friend was determined to steer deer toward a site where the wind and other factors was in his favor. After he’d picked the spot, he completed the clear-cut so all the trees fell in one direction. The tangle of close-lying tops was a nightmare for deer — even cantankerous bucks — to travel across, forcing them to swing around the cut for easy travel and a walk within bow range of my friend’s ambush site. As the 10-buck morning proved, the creative logging worked like magic. Managing a whitetail property is a dynamic project. We can never rest on a spade handle or sit on a seed drill and say, “Well, my work here is done.” In addition to the preparation, planting and maintenance of food plots, habitat projects should be part of any landown-

er/manager’s annual plan. I like to call these projects “hot-point” work, because they frequently generate heat from the worker(s) or tools used. Hot point also refers to a small, specific area that can benefit from some rehabilitation or improvement and make life easier for whitetails. And finally, hot point can also refer to a hunting opportunity that occurs because of such a project. Let’s look at a few examples. CHAINSAW CAPERS Aldo Leopold said the most important tools for managing deer were the ax and the rifle. Well, if the chainsaw had been around in Leopold’s day, there’s little doubt the father of modern game management would have updated his tool list. Creating the dense regrowth whitetails adore for feeding and security cover is made easy by the chainsaw, and any whitetail enthusiast without one lacks an important tool. Clear-cutting some tree species is the best way to increase browse abundance and regrowth. Just this past weekend, a friend invited me to walk a piece of property he’d purchased. Because the parcel is relatively small (80 acres), Dave wanted to do all he could to attract deer. We weren’t long into our walk when I found the perfect place for his goals; a rolling ridge covered with mature aspen (popple) trees. Clear-cutting is the preferred method for harvesting aspen and is also the best way to encourage regrowth of this fastgrowing species, which is a top browse source for Northern whitetails. Naturally, deer also love the dense security cover provided by young saplings. Aspen is one of several species that offer a triplebang: timber value, deer food and cover. There are

many others that provide a double-bonus — deer food and dense cover — when they are clear-cut. In my region, low-value tree species such as elm or box elder can be clear-cut or hinge-cut (sawn part-way through, and then tipped over) in strategic areas. The resulting opening of the tree canopy is a boon for sun-loving young growth of many species, which sprout almost immediately and provide browse and cover for deer. Though clear-cutting can be done at any time of year, late winter and early spring are often best, as fill-in species will have a full growth season and be of maximum benefit to deer. The chainsaw is a hunter’s best friend in yet another project: creating funnels and steering deer. Some of the most savvy food-plot experts I know use a saw to fell trees around their plots, creating blocks that prevent whitetails from circling downwind of their stand sites or forcing deer to enter a food plot at Trail X instead of Trail Y. And of course, a power saw can be used to make the food plot itself, especially the small, secluded plots that can be created simply by clearing a small opening in the timber and planting a product such as Whitetail Institute’s Secret Spot. FRIENDLY FIRE Perhaps nothing better defines hot-point work than the use of fire. And although burning is a commonly accepted technique for upland-bird managers, deer hunters have been slower to see the benefits of this age-old practice. For example, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources undertook a project to restore an endangered habitat in my native bluff country. Steep hillsides commonly sported

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

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“Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

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Whitetail Institute

At the end of each hunting season — or better, during the hunt itself — start looking at your property with an analytical mind that seeks to fill habitat holes.

grassy/brushy openings on their southern and southeastern faces. These “goat prairies” were important habitat for various species, and were maintained by wildfire or early settlers, who would burn such hillsides for livestock grazing. But during the past several decades, invasive, fast-growing eastern red cedar trees had all but eliminated those historic openings. When the DNR announced a project that entailed clear-cutting large areas of cedars, and then conducting burns that would restore native prairie grasses, many folks — especially deer hunters — were skeptical. Didn’t deer adore those cedar-choked hillsides in winter, when the trees offered thermal cover and respite from wind? And what about shotgun season, when bucks loved cedar thickets for escape cover during the high-pressure atmosphere? I shared their skepticism at first but vowed to keep an open mind, especially because some of this clearing and burning would be done at my father’s property and an adjacent city park. In the three years since, reducing the cedar stands and burning to encourage and maintain prairie grasses has been a boon for area whitetails. In fact, if anything, the slopes have become more important to deer, mainly because they offer more food. Red cedar, I’ve learned, is a water-greedy tree that robs a huge percentage of moisture from other plants. Also, it outcompetes important grasses, forbs and brush. Knocking back the cedar has allowed these native plants and browse species to flourish and given deer a year-round food source. And cover? Even the biggest buck can lay down in a stand of big bluestem and disappear. These days, when I see a crew preparing to burn a hillside, I cheer them on. Of course, burning has many applications for a deer 24

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manager. There is no better method for maintaining prairie or CRP plantings to encourage wildlife-friendly species such as big bluestem, switchgrass and others. As a native of the upper Midwest, I once gave little thought to the importance of grassy openings for deer, as such areas only concerned me when I was pheasant hunting. But after years of hunting Iowa, Kansas and, more recently, Nebraska, I’ve come to appreciate how much deer use these areas while bedding and feeding. Fortunately, I’m not the only woods-lover who’s expanded his definition of deer habitat. In fact, I recently visited a property owned by another Minnesota deer hunting buddy, who spent as much time pointing out the health of his prairie grasses as he did the acres of timber on his land. Naturally, conducting a burn — whether to regenerate grass or browse or create an opening — is not for the untrained. Properly starting, monitoring and extinguishing a burn is best left to professionals who have the right equipment and understand the best conditions for the practice. For best results, contact an area wildlife biologist with experience, and make it a point to help them the day of the burn so you can gain some knowledge before attempting this on your own. If you doubt the importance of that step, consider the story of a Wisconsin manager with years of burns under his belt. A few years ago, he and his crew started a burn at a property. At first, it was going well and showed all signs of being under control and actually moving much more slowly than they preferred. The slow-moving fire lulled them into complacency, and they left the scene briefly. When they returned, the smoldering fire had taken on new life and jumped a property line. By the time they’d extinguished the

blaze, it had damaged close to 80 acres of high-dollar oak timber on the neighbor’s land. The take-home message was to seek professional help and stay on top of things. FINAL THOUGHTS To this point, I’ve used the term hot point in reference to projects that involve heat-generating tools. But I’d suggest that definition be expanded to include any aspect of a whitetail property that falls short of expectations. Remember, every tract of real estate is in a state of constant change, and it’s a rare year when no projects beg for attention. Therefore, adopting a hotpoint mentality keeps us looking for elements of deer food and habitat that need to be fixed. At the end of each hunting season — or better, during the hunt itself — start looking at your property with an analytical mind that seeks to fill habitat holes. Has a clover plot run its course? It’s time to start anew. Do deer need to leave the property to find water? Dig a pond. Have the trees on a favorite ridge matured enough to benefit from some logging. Hire a forester to analyze the situation. Have your old bedding areas seen less and less use by bucks? Time to recharge the cover and suck ’em back in there. Most experts agree that 3-10 percent of a property should be devoted to food plots. That means at least 90 percent of that ground is there, waiting for upgrade (or maintenance) into whitetail heaven. Sound overwhelming? It should be anything but, provided you have a hot-point mentality, develop a long-term plan and are willing to work with tools that generate some heat. W www.whitetailinstitute.com


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DREAM CHASERS Five Men Behind the By-lines By Charles J. Alsheimer

“W

ell, if you ask me where I come from, here’s what I tell everyone. I was born by God’s dear grace, in an extra ordinary place — where the stars and stripes and the eagle flies. It’s a big old land with countless dreams. Happiness ain’t out of reach, hard work pays off the way it should. Yeah, I’ve seen enough to know we’ve got it good. Where the stars and stripes and the eagle flies.” Those lyrics to Aaron Tippin’s top-selling country hit Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagles Fly resonate daily in my mind. They provide a constant reminder of my love for America and the blessings and opportunities this country has given me. The United States and her people are inspirational. It’s one of the few places you can chase your dreams and have a chance of catching them. My dream of pursuing a career in the outdoors began on a farm in western New York more than 45 years ago. Though I didn’t know it at the time, the events of the late 1950s and early 1960s were molding and shaping me into what I am today. In 1960, I became passionate about hunting and fell in love with the writings of Jack O’Connor, Outdoor Life’s shooting editor. I devoured everything he wrote and began dreaming of what it would be like to hunt and write about hunting in North America. O’Connor inspired me to chase a dream, but he wasn’t the only one. In those early years, writers such as Byron Dalrymple, Warren Page and Erwin Bauer provided the fuel to keep my dream burning. When I had reached 25, photographer and writer Lenny Rue, hunting manufacturer Fred Bear and photographer Bill McRae were added to the list of folks who inspired me to press on. These men affected me more than they could have imagined, and had it not been for their writing, photography and accomplishments, my career path might have gone down a different road. 26

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Fueled by inspiration and hope, my dream was launched in September 1979, when I left a corporate sales and marketing position to become a full-time nature photographer and outdoor writer. Economically, times were tough in the 1970s, but there were enough dream-makers to keep me moving forward. If you are a serious student of the outdoor world, you know how men such as Bill Jordan of Realtree, deer biologist Al Brothers, Ray Scott, founder of the foodplot movement and the Whitetail Institute of North America and others inspired millions of hunters and wannabe outdoor pros across the land. They were just a few who played a part in motivating others to make the whitetail industry what it is today. TORCH BEARERS If you took the time, you could probably come up with a pretty good list of hunting personalities who have inspired and influenced you as a hunter. My guess is that TV personalities would dominate most lists. When I think of people who influence America’s sportsman, I tend to look at those who inspire hunters to want to “be there.” I also look at things such as their integrity and knowledge of hunting. Certainly, many household names could make up my list. But there are just as many you might not know much about. The five I’m about to share with you are great deer hunters and have also influenced thousands of sportsmen through their writing and photography.

Dan Schmidt This 42-year-old Hubertus, Wis., native started chasing his dream of working for Deer and Deer Hunting magazine in the fourth grade. “I was raised in a family of deer hunters, and my dad would often buy a copy of Deer and Deer Hunting at the local convenience store for us,” he said. “Once my family was done reading it, I would cut out my favorite articles and photos and put them in a box for safe keeping. I’d paste the best on my bedroom wall, next to my Robin Yount and George Brett photos. “When I was in the eighth grade, my English teacher gave the class an assignment to write about what they wanted to be when they grew up. My essay was about my dream to become the editor of Deer and Deer Hunting magazine.” His dream never left him, and after graduating from college with a journalism degree, Schmidt worked for a twice-weekly newspaper, where he was editor. Though the newspaper business proved to be a grind, the experience he received helped land a job in 1995 as an associate editor with Deer and Deer Hunting. Seven years later, he took over the editor’s chair and immediately set out to ensure that it continued to be the best whitetail magazine on the market. He’s lived up to the task because his love for whitetails and deer hunting oozes out of every issue of Deer and Deer Hunting, making it one of the most widely read hunting magazines in America. During the past 30 years, I’ve had the privilege to work with some of the best magazine editors in the country. Schmidt is one of the best I’ve ever dealt with. He’s more than a great hunter, writer and editor. His drive, humble kindness and attention to detail do not go unnoticed by me or America’s deer hunters. www.whitetailinstitute.com


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Brad (Biscuit) Herndon Bill Winke For more than two decades, this southern Indiana Raised on a dairy farm in northeastern Iowa, Winke is country boy (as he likes to call himself) has been one of the biggest names you might never have heard of in the whitetail world. Not only is he a great whitetail hunter, but he just might be the most prolific hunting photographer of our time. His hunter set-up photos have been the centerpiece for many of the major hunting magazines and manufacturer advertisements. Herndon didn’t jump into the outdoor communication world full-time until he was older than 40. For most of his career, he and his brother were partners in an auto parts business. When he turned 37, he sold his half of the business to his brother and took what he calls a six-year vacation, during which he and his wife, Carol, and their daughter, JoLinda, traveled America until, as he said, “The money ran out.” Looking for another career, Herndon began studying the hunting industry because of his life-long love of hunting. Convinced he might be able to make it as an outdoor communicator, he bought some cameras and set out to be a nature photographer and writer. “The early going was really tough because nobody knew us,” he said. “In time, I became a pretty good wild turkey photographer, and this is what got me my first break. The National Wild Turkey Federation looked at my work and bought six of my photos for $25 each. One ran on a cover, and after this things started to happen for me because of this exposure. “I also made a lot of contacts and asked a lot of questions along the way. People like Lenny Rue and the folks at Realtree went out of their way to provide great advice, and before long, I was getting more and more photo and writing assignments.” Herndon’s work is so good that it’s safe to say most of the younger hunting photographers have modeled their work after his style. I’ve known Brad for more than 15 years, and one of the things that impresses me most about him is how he goes out of his way to help fellow writers and photographers better themselves. 28

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an example of how hard work can bring great rewards. From the time he graduated from college with a degree in mechanical engineering, he wanted to do something in the outdoors, where he could be his own boss. He has done that and much more. Today, few in the industry know more about the nuts and bolts of archery tackle or whitetail hunting than

Winke. His expertise lets him write more than 100 articles per year for many of the major hunting publications, about everything from camo patterns to bow equipment to whitetail hunting. But success didn’t fall into his lap. After a stint as an engineer in the aircraft industry, he took an engineering position with High Country Archery in Tennessee. There, he met Greg Tinsley, who headed the company’s marketing and public relations division. After six months on the job, he had enough of factory work, so he quit his job and moved back to Iowa, with no job waiting for him. “This was a bit of a scary time for us because I didn’t know what the future held,” he said. “Fortunately, my wife and I had no debt when we left High Country. We knew how to live cheaply, so this relieved some of the pressure. My short-term goal was to eat and be able to support my family. I knew where I wanted to be and had an idea what I wanted to do.” So, after he was back in Iowa, Bill reconnected with Tinsley, who had become the editor of Petersen’s Bowhunting. Tinsley gave Bill a few writing assignments, and he was on his way. “As I reflect, I guess my journey has been a bit scary at times, but I’m convinced this is what God wanted me to be,” he said. “I love being self-employed, and tell people that I write for a living and hunt for fun. I’ve been blessed to have an incredible job, live in a special country and have a great family. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do with my life.”

Tracy Breen You don’t have to be around this Muskegon, Mich., native more than a few minutes to be inspired. He has accomplished more in his 30 years than many do in a lifetime. He is not only a great hunter but one of the hottest outdoor writers in America. He also has cerebral palsy, which makes his story so incredible.

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Cerebral palsy is a debilitating condition that affects the body’s muscles and tendons. In most cases, CP prohibits people from engaging in athletics. Through the years, Tracy has endured 15 surgeries to help him cope. Physically, he’s had a lot of ups and downs, but his faith in God and dream of becoming an outdoor pro have kept him going. Though he walks with a limp and gets fatigued when he does a lot of strenuous walking or climbing, he never complains or lets his condition keep him from doing what he wants to. He is a fighter who always has to go the extra mile to keep up with his peers. “Because my dad was a taxidermist, I was around wild animals all my life,” he said. “He took me and my brother to the woods a lot, and I fell in love with hunting long before I could actually carry my own bow or gun. I guess my story is a bit different than others in this profession, but I wouldn’t trade how I got to this point for anything. Being a full-time outdoor writer has allowed me to see places I never would have if I had chosen a different profession. I’ve hunted all over North America. How many 30-year-olds can say that? “The outdoor market is a tough place to make a living, but fortunately for me, I’ve been able to have many people help me along the way, none more so than my wife. She is my biggest supporter. Dwight Schuh was a real inspiration to me in the early going and went out of his way to help me when no one in the hunting world knew who I was. I don’t know where I’d be today if so many people hadn’t reached out to me along the way. “God has truly blessed me. He’s allowed me to meet some incredible people, live in an unbelievable country and have one of the best jobs on Earth. This has been a dream come true for me.” The next time you pick up a hunting magazine with Breen’s name in it, take a moment to read it. He knows his stuff and inspires all who come to know him.

John Zent With all the gloom and doom coming out of Washington, it can often be difficult to understand what is going on. A man with the ability to decipher Washington’s hocus-pocus is John Zent, editorial director for NRA Publications. He has the hunter’s back when it comes to preserving our rights. John is responsible for the editorial content of the National Rifle Association’s six magazines, three TV shows www.whitetailinstitute.com

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and four websites. Just thinking about his job description makes me tired. John grew up on a farm in northern Maryland, where he fell in love with hunting at an early age. After college, where he earned an English degree, he set out to land a job in the outdoor field. “Back then, I didn’t have any grand illusions of being a No. 1 editor,” he said. “I just wanted an editorial career with an outdoor magazine.” His chance came in 1982, when American Rifleman magazine hired him as an assistant editor. “Not long after taking the job, I quickly realized how far behind the curve I was when it came to my knowledge of guns and hunting,” he said. “I was from the East and knew very little about antelope, elk or moose, and when it came to Africa, I knew nothing. So, I had a lot of catching up to do. It was a real hustle, but I loved every minute of the process. Fortunately, my superiors stuck with me.” His editorial career has involved far more than espousing the joys of guns and hunting. For more than 25 years, he and his NRA colleagues have fought the good fight to preserve our gun rights. Their journey has been tough and at times lonely, but it’s a battle he knows is worth the effort. “America’s gun owners face some real challenges because of the political situation we find ourselves in,” he said. “It will be a battle, but it’s a battle we must win. I’ve been blessed to have had a dream job that has allowed me to meet some great Americans and travel to some great hunting destinations. Life has been very good to me, and I intend to do everything I can to make sure that my sons and America’s sportsmen hold on to their hunting privileges.” W

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

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

239 Whitetail Trail Pintlala, AL 36043

“Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

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

Common Questions — Straightforward Answers Q: I have some questions about Pure Attraction. First, can I make my plot even better by putting out even more seed than you recommend? Second, the planting instructions say o lightly cover Pure Attraction with loose soil. I thought that Imperial blends were NOT supposed to be covered up. Am I wrong? Should I cultipack or drag my plot after putting out my Pure Attraction seed? A: Seeding Rate. Great question! It’s one I hear a lot, and the answer is, “probably not — it might even REDUCE the performance of your planting!” Think about it — let’s consider just one square yard of plot. Within that area, you only have one square yard of seedbed to sustain forage plants. That’s all the room the plants you’ll be growing there will have in which to sprout, grow, and become as healthy, vigorous, and as drought, heat and cold-tolerant as they were designed to be.

If you try to grow too many plants within that one square yard of seedbed, the plant roots won’t have enough room to grow as big as they otherwise might have. Smaller roots can result in LESS heat and drought tolerance, and because smaller roots can inhibit the growth of the forage plants, perhaps even LESS available forage. For optimum results, stick to the recommended seeding rates as closely as you can. Our forage blends are very efficient B: Cover Seeding Or Not. First, good job reading the directions! They’re there for a reason. Think about it — we want the process of planting our forage blends to be as simple as possible. That being the case, you can understand that every step that we do put in our instructions is critical. One of the most important steps is the one you noticed — whether or not to cover Imperial seeds when you plant them. All Imperial blends except

Pure Attraction and Power Plant are designed to be broadcast spread and not covered up. In contrast, our Pure Attraction blend should be LIGHTLY covered with about ¼ - ½ inch of loose soil. Again, the thin layer of soil that covers your Pure Attraction seed should be left loose. Since a cultipacker would firm the soil, not leave it loose, a weighted drag or a light, spike-tooth type harrow may be a better choice for finishing the Pure Attraction plot after seeding, since a cultipacker would pack the soil that covers the seed. In summary, once your seedbed is prepared, fertilized and otherwise ready for your Pure Attraction seed, smooth the seedbed with a drag, broadcast the Pure Attraction seed, and then lightly drag, or harrow the seed with a light, spike-tooth harrow, just under the surface about ¼ - ½ of an inch deep. Do not cultipack or otherwise firm the soil once you have covered the seed. W

The powerful appeal of Magnet Mix is now available in a handy, 4-part block. Just break apart the block and place the sections wherever you want the deer to gather. In addition to being enormously attractive to deer, the formula in the 4-Play block contains a combination of essential vitamins and minerals. Four times the attraction in the block; four times the deer activity on your property. Because of the Magnet Mix line’s incredible attractiveness, some states may consider it bait. Remember to check your local game laws before hunting over Magnet Mix products.

800-688-3030 whitetailinstitute.com ®

“Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

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The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail Pintlala, AL 36043 Research = Results

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DIRECT NUT SEEDING FOR USELESS ACRES By Bill Winke Photos by the Author

I

n a 2008 feature titled “Every Acre Counts,” in the Whitetail News, I wrote about a project I began on my farm in October 2007. The concept is called direct nut seeding. Now, let me give you the background for that decision and explain how I executed the plan. Then I’ll update you on how the trees are doing. WHAT TO DO WITH USELESS ACRES

Small seedlings, when properly managed, can grow a foot or more per year. In only a few years, you have useful deer cover that will last a lifetime and benefit future generations.

As you go through your hunting area, you should categorize every acre. Some acres are productive farmland, some are productive food plots, some are good habitat, some are marginal habitat and some don’t fit into any of those categories. The productive farmland, productive food plots and good habitat are fine — don’t touch them. The marginal habitat might require 32

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

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some aggressive timber harvest, timber-stand improvement or maybe a controlled burn. That’s part of deer management, too, but it’s beyond the scope of this feature. However, the category I will focus on is useless acres. They serve no purpose — yet. In trying to use these acres, you must choose between putting a lot of money into trying to grow food in ill-suited areas (not a good choice), planting those acres with shrubs or switch grass, (a viable option) or reforesting them. I’ll narrow the options and focus on the last one: reforesting useless acres. REFORESTING WITH SEEDLINGS When trying to put trees on your property, you can plant seedlings or plant seeds. You can often buy seedlings in bulk from private nurseries or a state nursery operated by the game and fish department. Typically, they aren’t very expensive, depending on what you are planting. Cedars are cheap in Iowa, but oaks are more expensive. Fruit trees cost even more. Local supply and demand really sets the market price, but if you are looking to produce oak timber, it won’t be cheap. In fact, it will be expensive. After planting many thousands of seedling trees, I have generally been disappointed with the result. The true survival rate a year later has averaged about 25 percent. One year, we planted 5,000 chokecherry seedlings. It became dry for several weeks after the planting. The next year, no trees were alive. Seedlings are especially vulnerable to drought and mishandling. If their roots dry out or air pockets form in the soil where they are planted because of planting technique, they will quickly die. I’ve also spoken to several people who plant trees as part of their profession. They tell me that unless you really baby-sit your seedlings the first year, tree survival is limited. You can baby-sit a few dozen or maybe even a few hundred, but not a few thousand. When reforesting several acres, seedlings are a mediocre option. If you’re serious about planting seedlings, plan on making it a part-time job. If you can have it done professionally with a guarantee of survival, it’s worth paying extra. You have to handle the seedling very carefully, keeping the roots wet until the tree is planted. Make sure that you have complete root-to-soil contact (no air pockets) and that the root is pointed downward, not forming a J shape. Then you must water the seedlings regularly for the first three months. Watering several thousand seedlings would require a wagon and water tank. It’s far too much work for me at this stage in my life. There might be better ways, such as dormant fall plantings, but I’ve all but given up on seedlings. If you want to try them, contact the local state forester for advice on supply and the best methods to assure maximum survival, or plant them on a limited basis.

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DIRECT NUT SEEDING After years of discouraging results with seedlings, I chose to do it differently when facing my useless acres. During Fall 2006, I finally bore the straw that broke my back. I had been losing money by farming a portion of one of my crop fields every year,

In the process of evaluating your hunting area, you will notice areas with less-than-ideal cover. One way to improve marginal habitat is through timberstand improvement — cutting down junk trees. www.whitetailinstitute.com

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Here’s a bag of red oaks mixed in with a bunch of white oak acorns. Notice that the white oak acorns have already begun to put out taproots. They germinated in cold storage, showing the importance of handling them carefully and getting them into the ground as soon as possible after they drop.

because the soil quality was just too poor and the slope too great for success. I decided I would give up the agriculture on those acres and put them back into trees. That ridge was cleared about 40 or 50 years ago, and it was time to restore it to proper cover. After I started looking at my farm, I came up with 12 more acres that were useless. They were neither cover nor food. That brought my total to 22 acres — a big chunk of ground. After deciding I was determined to put those acres to work, I started looking at my options. I wanted trees, not switchgrass. I guess I’m a tree guy. I like trees. After consulting with local NRCS office, I learned of programs that will pay to improve habitat while taking farmland and otherwise useless acres out of production. In other words, they would pay a portion of my expenses to plant trees. After applying for the money, my next step was to learn as much as possible about the process of planting acorns instead of trees. My first stop was the internet, where I found “Extension Notes” from the Iowa State University Forestry Extension. Google “Direct Seeding,” and you’ll find it. It was the most thorough treatment I found on the subject, so I decided to follow it step by step. When my project was approved, I set out to find a source for acorns. For 22 acres, I would need a minimum of five bushels of acorns per acre, and I decided to add a few walnuts, too. If you remember Spring 2007, we had a very late hard freeze that wiped out the firstcutting alfalfa and froze off all the early flowering oaks. We lost all the white oak production from mid-Missouri north to central Iowa. A huge band of the Midwest did not have any white oak acorn production. I found an independent consulting forester in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that had access to some fruitful white oaks. He and his crew collected the 55 bushels of white oak acorns and 65 bushels of red oak acorns I needed. He kept the acorns in cold storage until the weather looked promising, and then I got them in the ground as quickly as possible. That’s easier said than done. I hand-spread the acorns using the bed of a Polaris Ranger as the mobile nut carrier. It took about three days to spread it. I disked the seeds in as soon as possible after spreading

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 ®

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“Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

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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each section to keep the acorns from drying out. If you’re interested, it’s in the “Extension Notes” bulletin. Red oaks are spring germinators, so planting them in fall is easy and highly successful. However, white oaks are fall germinators, and you must handle them very carefully to assure you are planting viable seeds. That means you have to keep them moist and cold until you plant them. Get them in the ground as soon as possible after they hit the ground. You can only store them effectively in a cooler for a few days. I planted the acorns at roughly five bushels per acre. That amounts to roughly 20,000-plus seeds per acre. My hope was that at least 25 percent of them germinate and grow. I was lucky in that it rained the day after I finished planting and didn’t stop for more than a week, so I had the best conditions for keeping white oak acorns alive. However, the survival of the white oaks was less than super. It’s 18 months later, and I’ve been very impressed with the results. I would say that the total survival rate has been roughly 25 percent to 40 percent. The highest survival occurred on south-facing slopes. We had a cool, wet spring in 2008, and the south-facing slopes warmed quicker. Also, it’s critical that you prepare the seedbed as well as you would if you were planting the ground with corn. That means spraying with Roundup a couple of weeks in advance of tilling. We used a large tractor-mounted tiller to work the ground, and it did a great job. You need good seed-to-soil contact for any seed to do well, so you need to create a good seedbed. Without the spraying, the grass pressure the first year would have hurt survival. Most of my competition was from broadleaf plants, such as ragweed. The biologist who helped me administer the plan through the USDA (NRCS) believed that broadleaf competition was not a huge problem, but grass (sod forming) competition was bad news. By June, the trees were about 8 to 12 inches tall. As mentioned, the red oak did better than the white oak. This is what the experts predicted. White oak germination is fickle, and the acorns need to be planted quickly after they fall to do best. Even though I planted the oaks in the prescribed manner, I would say the red oaks were at least twice as prolific. That means that I have a stand of two-thirds red oak and onethird white oak. That survival rate means that I should have at least 5,000 trees per acre, which is a good, solid number. My next step is to spray the planting area with a weed killer, such as Oust, to reduce competition. I will do that during late winter, while the trees are still dormant. Oust is a residual killer, which means it will prevent competition from starting this year. These chemicals are expensive, but they represent a necessary step. I must do the same thing next winter, but by the third year, I can just let the planting area take care of itself. By the third year, the trees will compete well enough with the weeds to hold their own. From my experience, this is a much better method for establishing a forest than planting seedling trees. You might think that seedling trees buy you an extra couple of years because they are already 18 inches tall when you plant them. It seems the first year, if they survive the shock of transplanting, is a wash. The small trees don’t grow that year. In my experience, they just die. Seriously, it’s a tough time for them. The acorns are putting down their own roots in the soil and are much more drought tolerant. You don’t have to transplant them. After they are established, by the middle of their first spring, they are set to grow quickly. In areas with high deer numbers, it’s difficult to establish rooted seedlings because deer can simply walk down the planted rows and eat them. A direct-seeding program works better in this setting because you can swamp deer with so many small trees that they can’t destroy them all, or are at least less likely to destroy them all. I like my farm to look a certain way. I like it to show as little manipulation as possible. I don’t want my trees growing in rows. I want them growing in natural patterns, so the direct seeding approach also appeals to my sense of aesthetics. In some ways, land management is not much more than a large-scale landscaping project, and I like the look of natural dispersal of trees. Acorns can be expensive, so if you can collect your own with a simple acorn-collection basket (a roller you can buy online), you will save a lot of money and will likely get the freshest seed. It’s not as critical with acorns from the red oak family because they germinate in spring, but as I stated earlier, you must get white oaks in the ground as soon as possible after collecting them. That’s the key to success. My sources tell me I can expect as much as one foot of growth per year on my young trees. That means that in five or six years, they will be incredible deer cover; a great buffer as deer leave the bigger timber and head toward my food plots. Although five or six years might seem like a long time to wait for something to change, just think what your place would look like if you had done this five or six years ago. Every year you wait is another missed opportunity. The best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago. The second best time is today. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

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Helps Maximize Antler Growth! I 20% Protein to Help Maximize Antler Growth! I Contains Vital Minerals and Vitamins! I Helps Bucks Devote More Nutrition to Antler Growth Earlier in Spring! Helps Maximize Doe Lactation, Fawn Birth Weights, Growth Rates and Overall Herd Health! I Contains Critical Protein, Vitamins and Minerals for Does! I Source of High Carbohydrates and Lipids for Fall and Winter! Specifically Designed for the Needs of Deer! I Scientifically formulated to meet the unique requirements of the smallruminant digestive system of deer. I Contains macro minerals, micro minerals and vitamins in the correct forms and ratios deer need to help maximize genetic potential. Extremely Attractive to Deer! I Crunchy texture deer prefer. I Contains scent and taste enhancers including Devour, which drives deer wild! Maximum Flexibility in Delivery Systems! I Can be use in most spin-type feeders, trough feeders, and gravity feeders. I Rainshed™ Technology — Moisture resistant. I Pelleted form reduces waste.

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The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043 “Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!” ®

Research = Results

Results is a trademark of Whitetail Institute Pintlala, AL. Devour is a trademark of Whitetail Institute Pintlala, AL. RainShed is a trademark of Southern States Richmond, VA.

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Troy Savage — Illinois We’ve owned this farm for 8 years. When we first purchased it we were disappointed in the deer population, sightings and rack sizes. Contributing to this was the farmer who owned it ran cattle on it. It had no underbrush. As soon as the cattle were off, and the food plots were planted, the deer population improved. Imperial Whitetail Clover is a great product. I’ve got some Imperial Clover food plots 7 years old. I recommend Whitetail Institute products daily! Now we have excellent hunting. We hunt the fringes of the timber around the food plots in the evenings. With my bow I took this 8 point, 22” wide grossed 150 5/8”, he was one of five shooters I saw that morning Nov. 3.

great products. I will keep using Whitetail Institute products for years to come and I will recommend them to everyone.

Paul Vice — Indiana

Johnny Howard — Indiana Alfa-Rack is a great product. It still looks good after six plus years and my deer and turkeys love it. The Winter-Greens is a really good late season food plot. It holds the deer on my land all season and in the late winter months. I have enclosed a couple of pictures. Also the deer love the 30-06 Mineral as my pics show it helps with antler growth. Thanks Whitetail Institute for making

We have hunted the same farm for 20 years but since we started using Whitetail Institute products it seems like a different place. We have been using Whitetail Institute products for five years now. Deer quality on the farm has continuously improved since day one. On Oct. 1 (opening day of Indiana’s early archery season), my hunting partner, Gerald Eads, arrowed this buck as he transitioned between a plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover and a standing cornfield. The buck sports a gross green score of 185”. He is truly the buck of a lifetime.

Shane Reynolds — Kansas I had a plot planted with some clover and alfalfa bought from the local grain elevator three years prior, I then increased my deer activity and buck sightings. Then the drought hit last year and killed 90 percent of the plot. I had been interested in Extreme because of its drought tolerant abilities; our summers in southeast Kansas are dry and hot. So I decided to purchase Extreme and give it a try. We read the planting and fertilizing instructions and went step by step. September 1st the seed went in the earth. On September 4th we got three tenths of rain and September 8th five tenths of rain, Sept. 15 3/4 of an inch covered my 2-1/2 acres of average growth. The next 15 days brought another 11/2” of rain and by September 30th the plot was a beautiful lush Extreme field 3 to 4 inches tall, simply

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beautiful! October brought another 2-1/2 to 3 inches of rain and the temperatures staying in the mid 80’s. Not to good for the deer hunt, but now the plot average 6 to 7 inches and it was thick. I’d read how the Extreme could increase deer activity but WOW I never thought it would be like it is. It is now a plot that you can always go to and see deer! Extreme is a perfect name for this product. It has made an extreme difference in deer activity in and around this food plot! November rolled in and every time I was in stand around the plot I was seeing large bucks 130 class deer up to a 12 pointer that was an easy 170-plus class, seven different bucks to be exact. The number of deer this plot brought in is unbelievable. I did not know my property could hold those kind of deer numbers! On the morning of Nov. 16 I was able to harvest a 141 inch 9 pointer with my bow at the south end of the Extreme plot. This product is extremely unbelievable! If you plant it they will come. Thank you so very much Whitetail Institute.

Harry McDaniel — New York Imperial Whitetail Clover is where it all started for me. It attracted the deer and held them in my area. Great stuff. I traditionally always grew corn, oats etc for my deer herd. Whitetail Institute and their seed product changed all that for me. Imperial Whitetail Clover with the protein and holding power has amazed me in the deer that frequent my property. I’ve been plowing and planting my property for 30 years. This last 5 to 10 years with the help of Whitetail Institute products and ideas, I’ve gotten real serious about this deer stuff. I’ve taken a lot of good bucks but lately I’m taking much bigger bucks and seeing at night (spotlight) many OMY GOD size bucks on my property. I breathe, eat, and sleep whitetail deer 24/7-365 days a year. Whitetail Institute has helped me immensely in my planning and executing my yearly hobby. Keep me updated on all new

www.whitetailinstitute.com


research products. Thanks a million Whitetail Institute. I took the two bucks in the photo with my bow the last two seasons. They are the biggest bucks that I have ever killed.

Jake Schramm — Wisconsin Every time I sit on my plot I see multiple deer. It has been a great investment and experience having the Imperial Clover plot. See photo. Last year I also planted Winter-Greens and it was full and lush and the deer ate it to the ground.

Ted Mann — Ohio I began using the Chicory Plus product in conjunction with three other types of clover from our local seed store in the spring of 2006. I planted a plot between two wooded areas with 1/4 of the food plot in each of the four types of seed. The first year we saw a lot of doe and fawn activity with most of the feeding centering around the Chicory Plus area of the plot. This year we saw much more scraping activity and more buck sightings through the use of scouting cameras and tree stand sightings at the food plot. We also noted more larger racked bucks and very few small, scrubby racked deer which we have seen plenty of in the past. Attached are photos of the buck I shot off of the food plot on Oct. 12, he field dressed approximately 200 lbs. and his 12 point rack scored just shy of 140”. This is a good deer for this area which is mainly small woodlots on flat farm land, which receives very heavy drive oriented hunting, where very few bucks reach the age of 2-1/2 years let alone 3-1/2 years or older. This deer showed up with another smaller buck, made a scrape along the edge and walked out into the Chicory Plus area of the food plot and began feeding directly in front of my tree stand. It was approximately one hour before dark in a very heavily hunted area but he seemed at ease feeding at such an early hour making me think he visited the area frequently.

Lyle Stine — Illinois It was the evening of Oct. 1, the first day of bow season. The wind was perfect to hunt the edge of our 10 acre field of Imperial Whitetail Clover and Alfa-Rack. I was hoping to get an opportunity to harvest a doe early in the season. An hour before sunset, deer were beginning to move from the timber into the field. One big doe came and stood broadside at 10 yards for a perfect shot. However, two 1 1/2 year bucks followed her and stood looking my way at 20 yards. They had me pinned down so I couldn’t draw on the doe without spooking them. The doe finally walked underneath my tree and out into the field, without giving me the shot. I started to see more bucks moving around back in the timber with some of them moving out into the clover field. I decided to pass on shooting a doe in hopes of getting a chance at a mature buck. With about 20 minutes of light left, a mature 140” 8pointer stepped out into the field at 22 yards. Behind it came a 140-plus” 10-pointer, but I decided to pass on both of them. A few minutes later, as dark was closing in, I could see two large racks together back in the brush. I knew they were both shooters, so decided to shoot which ever one came first. When the first one stepped out, I was ready, aimed behind the shoulder and let the arrow go. The buck whirled away from me but the shot looked good as I saw the arrow pass thru the deer and

stick into the ground on the other side. My son, Dave, and grandson, Connor, were hunting 1/4 mile east of me, so I got down and went over to see if they had any luck and to tell them I had hit a big one. They didn’t have any luck, so we decided to look for blood on my hit. We picked up the trail of blood, but after about a hundred yards, it quit bleeding. We decided to wait until morning to resume the hunt. Dave met me at first light where we picked up where we had quit the night before. It only took about five minutes to find the buck as it had only gone another 75 yards. We were both excited as we recognized it to be what we called “The Split G-2 Buck.” We had seen it numerous times during the summer in the clover field and had pictures of it on the camcorder during the month of September. The 11-point buck grossed 167” and field dressed 205 pounds. I was very fortunate to get a day while they were still in their summer pattern. I saw 11 bucks and about 20 does that evening come out to the Imperial Whitetail Clover and Alfa-Rack field. This coming season, my mission is to get a shot at the buck that was following the one I got this year.

Larry Carter — Kentucky I have used Imperial Whitetail Clover extensively and have had super results. I’ve seen increased antler size, heavier deer, and most of all, deer coming from surrounding properties to the Whitetail Clover food plots. I call them clovercrazed deer. It is definitely an excellent product and I would recommend it to anyone. Last year I also planted Chicory Plus on another farm I help take care of and the results were phenomenal. The Chicory Plus food plots weathered a moderate drought along with over grazing by the deer and turkey. On Nov. 5 the plots were still green and plush and I arrowed the best typical whitetail I’ve killed in 53 years. He was a perfect 12 pointer scoring 167 1/8 final Pope and Young score. I killed the deer at 22 yards in the edge of a Chicory Plus food plot. Needless to say, I will be planting more Chicory Plus in the future. I also found the left shed of this deer in the edge of one of the Chicory Plus plots the previous March. It was amazing at the tine length and mass this deer had gained in only one year. I live in Rockcastle County, Kentucky and deer that score 167 1/8 typical are not commonplace. I spent the majority of my bow season hunting another “huge” deer and opted to try this farm on Nov. 5. There is no doubt that Whitetail Institute products work. 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

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Vol. 19, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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Making Do with What You’ve Got By Jim Casada Photos by the Author

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grew up surrounded by folks with painful memories of the Great Depression. My parents were in their late teens and early 20s during the hard times of the 1930s, and my erstwhile sidekick, Grandpa Joe, often shared with me the impact those lean years had on him and his family. Indeed, Grandpa Joe, always a frugal soul, had a seemingly endless supply of maxims about dealing with life’s hard knocks. “Waste not, want not” was offered almost daily, and leaving so much as a morsel of food on your plate would bring a stern admonition about being “thankful there’s food on the table and your plate.” 40

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

The author with a fine whitetail he took on the property, where the management equation has always been “making do with what is available.”

Dad and Grandpa Joe saved everything that might have a potential use in the future. Even as I write this, I can envision my 99-year-old father’s basement filled with row upon row of Mason jars filled with nails, bolts, nuts, washers and the like, while strips of wood and pieces of plank were neatly stored on shelves. When you grow up in hardscrabble circumstances and have your life shaped by individuals who waste nothing, some courses of action come as naturally as breathing. One of those principles that has governed my years, and it was the guidepost in Grandpa Joe’s daily life, was, to use his words, “making do with what you’ve got.” For Grandpa, that simple, sensible advice figured in every aspect of his life — from hoarding chicken manure for use as fertilizer to making sure that every weed pulled from the garden went directly to the ever-ravenous residents of the nearby pig pen. Nothing was wasted, and he could find a use for everything. Looking back, with memories of his tutelage and wisdom as sharp as the keenly honed edge of his treasured Barlow knife, Grandpa Joe’s ways offer a sterling lesson for everyone managing a piece of property for wildlife. Here’s a glimpse at several ways you can “make do” for wildlife. And because I’m writing this the day after an election and in the midst of an economic rollercoaster, it is also a tribute to and reminder of the manner in which recent generations scrimped, saved and survived with striking success. When assessing a piece of land, become intimately acquainted with the property. That means walking the www.whitetailinstitute.com


land, whether it’s 30 acres or 300 acres, and making notes on anything with potential when it comes to management. Those notes can be mental, but you will probably be better organized and more thorough if they are faithfully recorded on paper. Through time, written records form a fine source of reference to check progress, note successes and failures, and generally maintain a track record. Although it’s outside the main thrust of this coverage, these walks are wonderful ways to get information on things such as bedding areas, favored travel routes and logical places for stands. They can also offer insight on prime roosting spots for turkeys, haunts frequented by small game and more. Mainly though, you are making an inventory of what you have in terms of mast-bearing trees, other favored food sources, and old roads or home places.

The author examines fallen persimmons, a favorite deer food. Always care for any persimmon trees you might have.

MAST SOURCES Almost anywhere whitetails are found, nature offers them not only grasses and forbs but mast sources as well. Most common are the various species of oaks, but don’t overlook beech trees, wild pecans, chinquapins and others. Even though deer don’t dine on them, hickories and walnuts are also noteworthy. In addition to these and other sources of hard mast, there are many types of soft mast. These include pawpaws, persimmons, honey locust pods, and muscadines and other wild grapes. Don’t overlook wild berries, for turkeys love blackberries, strawberries, dewberries and the like, and bramble leaves form an important food source for deer in the heart of winter.

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One further potential source of deer delicacies is domestic fruits: apples, pears, grapes and plums. Surprisingly, these are often found on properties not occupied by man for decades. Old home places are prime spots for this type of mast, and in some parts of the country, apples abound in the wild. Similarly, pastures, whether abandoned or in use, often hold fruit trees. Don’t overlook other plants of note. Honeysuckle can be an important browse item. Even that bane of the Southern landscape, kudzu, has virtues. Deer dine on it with considerable delight in the weeks immediately before the first frost of fall, and it also provides a fine bedding area. Besides, if you are stuck with it, nothing short of a nuclear holocaust will get rid of this vegetative agent of the devil, so you might as well get what you can out of it. Pay careful attention not only to trees and shrubs you want to protect and nurture, but also take note of those you would like to reduce or eliminate. Patches of fescue — which presents problems such as reduced lactation in does that use it — must be scheduled for removal. Floribunda rose has to go, and trees with minimal or no benefits to wildlife or as a timber source should be marked for elimination. Sweet gums certainly fall into that category, as do sycamores, scrub pines, cedars (though pine and cedar thickets can be good bedding areas) and other trees. Consultation with a local state forester can probably be helpful. In every case, your job is to locate and mark these trees, shrubs, berry patches and other beneficial vegetation. Do so with an eye to giving them special treatment after the preliminary process has been completed. Perhaps the simplest way to complete this process

Trees with minimal or no benefits to wildlife or as a timber source should be marked for elimination. Consultation with a local state forester can probably be helpful.

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is to use surveyor’s tape combined with a detailed plat map of the property. The tape lets you locate trees and the like after you are ready to put in some sweat equity, and because it shows the location of everything from a pawpaw patch to a plum thicket, you can study the map before you get started and begin planning for the future. OTHER FEATURES OF IMPORTANCE Beneficial vegetation probably ranks at the top of any make-do list, but there are many other things that enter into the management equation. Old logging roads or existing trails have many potential uses. Small open areas — such as livestock lots, abandoned garden spots, any types of openings or a loading area where logs were gathered during a timber operation — have potential. They might be ready-made for spending sparse cash to create food plots. After all, it’s much easier to use land that has already been cleared than to spend endless hours doing it by hand or paying someone with equipment. Indeed, areas that once held gardens or livestock will almost certainly be more fertile than other parts of the property. Imperial No-Plow and Secret Spot are great choices for these locations. If the land has springs, branches, creeks, marshes or any water source, analyze its potential. Down the road, it might lend itself to building a fishing pond or creating an area to attract wood ducks or other waterfowl, or it might suggest ditching and draining. Thinking along similar lines, it doesn’t take too much imagination to recognize likely places for building a pond even if there isn’t a consistent water source. Even though such efforts might not be immediate, they should fig-

ure into your overall work plan. GETTING DOWN TO SERIOUS BUSINESS After you’ve located the treasures already existing on your property, it’s time to get down to serious business. Here’s a laundry list of things you can do with what you’ve got. • Clear competing shrubs and undesirable plants away from those you want to keep. This will give them more elbow room and let them grow faster. • Undertake sensible thinning is situations where you have too much of a good thing. For example, when I acquired my land, there were lots of walnut saplings in the 5- to 10-year-old range crowded together. Removing some of them gave the others a better chance to grow. • When placing permanent stands or clearing shooting lanes, make sure to use food sources to good advantage. A sizable persimmon that’s a proven fruit bearer (the tree has males and females), for example, makes a logical focal point for a stand. The same would hold true for a mature grove of oaks. • Remember you can get multiple uses from certain types of vegetation while doing little more than letting it grow naturally. Blackberry briars do well if they aren’t shaded out, and along with providing food for wildlife (and humans) on a predictable basis, they shelter small game such as rabbits and quail and are used as nesting areas by turkeys. • Don’t hesitate to do some transplanting. Small oak seedlings, dogwoods and the like can be put where you want them in the “down” time of later winter. • Grow your own. It isn’t particularly difficult to plant

a bunch of Chinese chestnuts, sawtooth oak acorns or other desirable mast providers where and how you want them. Not every nut will sprout, but you can plant them thicker than you want the final stand to be and thin as is necessary. • Create things such as food plots in an incremental fashion. That might mean investing money for lime and fertilizer one patch at a time, but if you have the clearings and keep them that way until you can afford the next step, you are ahead of the game. • Get the most bang for your buck. That might mean doing a lot of planting and fertilizing using nothing more than a hand spreader, garden tiller or an ATV with attachments. Or, if push comes to shove, you can use hand grubbing tools and an ax just like our pioneer predecessors did. • When you do spend money, do it right. For example, after you are in a position to plant a food plot, don’t skimp on fertilizer, lime or seed. It doesn’t make much sense to take preliminary steps right and then fail to follow up with a proven seed such as Imperial Whitetail Clover. One of the great joys of making do is the sense of satisfaction good, hard work brings. When you take a piece of land and then shape and mold it, relying on little more than what nature provides and your own ingenuity and effort, you soon realize why traditional farmers have such a love for the land. They form a sense of connection with it and know theirs is a job well done when they make it better. That’s how your perspective will develop as you make do with what you have. There are few better feelings, especially if they culminate in a thriving deer herd or the harvest of a noble buck. 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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Kentucky Hunter Credits “Tools” for His Success By Chris Farmer Photo by the Author

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s the big 10-pointer slowly slipped down the ridge, it was like a dream come true. At last, a plan was going to come together. I slowly raised my grunt call to my lips and gave a soft grunt. That was more than the big buck could stand, and the Big 10 turned and came straight down the ridge to me like he was on a string. I raised my muzzleloader and with one wellplaced shot ended my deer season in Kentucky.

On the farm I was hunting, we have been planting high-quality food plots for the past eight years. We have used several of the Whitetail Institute products through the years and found them to be high quality and great for the overall health and size of deer and turkeys on the farm. My favorites from the company’s line of quality seeds are Chicory Plus and Imperial Whitetail Clover. Chicory Plus is a blend of chicory and Imperial Clover that is great in the hot Kentucky summers. My deer really love the Chicory Plus. The deer and turkeys just can’t seem to get enough of these two great products in spring and summer when bucks are growing their antlers or turkeys are raising poults. Another huge piece in the food-plot puzzle has been my “tools.” My all-terrain vehicle is a good example. It helps when you have high-quality equipment to plant your food plots where you want them instead of as close as you can get with a tractor. With my new ATV, I can disk, plant and fertilize in one trip. This is one tough piece of equipment. I have never seen anything close to its size break rough ground like it does. Another piece of equipment that works great is a 40-gallon sprayer with a trailer. This unit will cover a 30-foot area in one pass. With the small hunting plots in my area, you can get your spraying done in one to three passes. There is nothing better than watching deer and turkeys use a well-placed food plot throughout the day. Another tool I can’t do without is the game camera. I use many on my hunting farm, and they work great. I kept an eye on the travel patterns of the Big 10 by moving the cameras around and found where he was dur-

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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ing daylight. I think I have about 60 pictures of the big guy, most of them at night. I know there is a lot of talk about the flash from cameras running the deer off, but I have not seen that. Deer might jump at the flash, but they do not run off. I think cameras are a great tool that anyone can use to make sure they hunt the right spot at the right time. You can bet I’ll be using my ATV next spring to place a few more Imperial Clover and Chicory Plus food plots and game cameras to see what’s using them. On this small 200-acre farm, I’ve been able to produce a buck in the 150-inch range every year. This buck was very hard to get a handle on during daylight — as with most bucks of his size — because he did most of his traveling at night. However, I found a travel route he was using to check does late in the evening, so I hunted him every day when the wind was right. The last day, I decided to stay on the stand all day. At about 2:30 p.m., I heard a noise on the ridge behind me, and with a little help from my grunt call, I got this great buck to come right to me. I wish everything worked that well every time, but if it did, it wouldn’t be hunting. W

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10 TEN F P

OOD LOT TEMPTATIONS

To Avoid By Brad Herndon Photos by the Author

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can recall many times when I’ve sat down in a restaurant at breakfast time with the full intent of ordering oats, toast and coffee for my meal. I have a weakness, though. It’s called biscuits and gravy. In fact, Steve Scott of the Whitetail Institute and many other people call me Biscuit Brad. So, even though I have the best intentions of eating a healthy breakfast, when I scan down the menu and my eyes come to the words biscuit and gravy, the temptation becomes too great and I once again succumb to my tasty weakness. 46

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

While tremendously enjoyable, my devouring one more order of biscuits and gravy is not without a cost. It takes me several miles of walking and running on the roads to try and get rid of the huge number of calories I’ve consumed, and even then my waistline doesn’t resemble the youthful figure it used to just a few short years back. Without doubt, each of us have temptations we must constantly battle with. Some are fairly easy to avoid, while others are tremendously difficult to turn down. Regardless of the temptation, however, yielding to any one of them results in a negative aspect in our life, some of which are minor, while others carry great consequences. The life’s lesson to be learned here is to avoid all of the negative temptations you can. Ironically, the same goes for managing hunting property. Largely unknown to the hunter who is new to quality deer management, there are numerous temptations he will encounter as he attempts to grow quality deer. Many of these temptations will involve food plots. Others, meanwhile, will not seemingly be directly related to the food plot, yet they will influence whether food plots will be successful or not. Below is my list of the Top 10 Temptations to avoid, all of which I can speak authoritatively about because I’ve either made the mistake myself, or have friends who have caved in to the temptation.

In order to have the most nutritious food plots possible, lime usually must be applied to get the soil’s pH levels correct.

only a few doe, or none at all. The reasoning behind this is they want the herd “to build up.” Almost always in this scenario the deer population absolutely explodes. Thinking they can simply plant their food plots a little bit bigger to feed the enlarging whitetail numbers, the property managers are shocked to see these larger plots grazed down to a nub. Then, even worse, within a few years the native vegetation that deer favor is eaten to the point where a browse line can be seen in the surrounding woods. At this point a natural disaster has occurred that would take the forest 15 or 20 years to recover from— even if all the deer were removed from the property! We actually had this happen to us. Eleven years ago we leased land in an adjoining county. The deer numbers were good, but not too high. It was fun hunting and we were able to kill several nice bucks. We shot

Use a product such as Roundup to kill down all vegetation before working up a food plot site.

Temptation No. 1: I want to see lots of deer Hunters love to watch deer, the more the merrier. They also want top-notch bucks on their property as well. When starting on a new hunting lease, if the land isn’t overrun with whitetails, hunters will typically shoot www.whitetailinstitute.com


some doe then, but within two years a tremendous amount of the land in this region was leased, and virtually none of the hunters leasing these properties were interested in harvesting more than a doe or two. Now, 11 years later, the field-dressed weight of the mature bucks has dropped from an average of 175-180 pounds, to an average of 140-145 pounds. The average gross score has dropped roughly 15-25 inches. Finally the hunters in this region are starting to shoot a decent quantity of does. This will help, but the recovery process is long and depressing. By all means avoid the temptation to let your deer herd increase too much, for it can create the most disastrous results of any temptation you will encounter in quality deer management.

Temptation No. 2: I shouldn’t be too worried about food plot location The thinking here is that regardless of where the food plot is located, within reason, whitetails will pour into this nutritious food source. However, much more is involved in food plot location than this. For example, if your land is in a hilly region, you should place your plots on high areas if possible. In valleys or hollows in hilly regions the wind swirls and changes directions many times per day. This makes it very difficult to hunt a food plot without getting busted. As we all know, in this situation deer will wise up quickly to our presence and avoid the food plot during daylight hours. Our food plots are located on high ground where the wind is consistently predictable and where we can take advantage of the prevailing wind directions. Our locations also have great entry and exit locations and deer rarely know we have even hunted the plot. Food plot location is critically important to your deer hunting success rate and you should give this much thought before determining plot placements. Be sure each plot gets enough sunlight to grow the crop you’ve planted. And also give consideration to the soil types on your property because this may influence your decision of where to place plots. This brings me to temptation No. 3.

Temptation No. 3: There is no need for a soil test Many people think dirt is dirt. Well, it is, but it isn’t. In each state there are hundreds of different types of soils. There are 75 different types in my county alone. Each type of soil will grow certain crops better than others. A soil test will reveal the nutrient content of your soil, and this will enable you to apply the properly recommended fertilizer for the seed you are planting. This soil test will also give you a pH number (potential of hydrogen). The pH number will reveal the acidity or alkalinity of your soil. Seven is neutral. Anything below 7 is on the acidic side, while anything above 7 is alkaline. We’re shooting for the number 7 for an ideal food plot, but the majority of soils will fall well below that in most areas of our nation, meaning they will need lime to sweeten the soil. Knowing what your soil needs, and applying what the soil test recommends is critically important to the success of any food plot. But as we all know, following instructions isn’t one of a man’s greatest strengths. By-passing the soil test could be the most important temptation to avoid when planting food plots. The hardest temptation to avoid in QDM is letting your deer herd get too big. Shoot plenty of does if needed.

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All soils are not alike. Imperial Alfa-Rack Plus does great on dry, welldrained soils.

buy cheap-priced, inferior clover seed and expect to have a bumper crop. Fortunately, fertilizer and lime prices are coming back down.

This Imperial Whitetail Clover plot has been treated with Arrest herbicide to get rid of unwanted grasses.

Temptation No. 6: I’ll apply more seed to be assured of a bumper crop Applying more seed than is recommended does not help your crop; as a matter of fact, it can hurt it. When more than the recommended amount of seed is applied, you may have too many plants bunched closely together throughout the plot. While the plants will grow, they can’t get proper nutrition to grow to their full nutritional value. It’s kind of like adding five people to your household but buying the same amount of groceries each week. Avoid the temptation to over-seed and you will save yourself a bunch of money, while at the same time you will have a better food plot.

Temptation No. 7:

Temptation No. 4: I don’t really need to apply lime Few of us are farmers. Oh, most of us know someone who gardens, or we may even garden ourselves, and we may know it’s important to put fertilizer on a garden. But applying lime is not something we’re familiar with. Liming, though, is critically important when it’s needed in order to get close to recommended pH levels. As an example, if you apply a proper amount of fertilizer to an acidic soil (low pH number), some of the fertilizer is not able to be released by the soil for plant growth because it is bound by the soil. In other words, the plants in the plot won’t experience the proper growth rate because the fertilizer you have applied cannot be utilized by the plants. Spread the proper amount of lime and bring the pH up to recommended levels and your food plot plants can grow tall and nutritious because the soil can release the fertilizer you have applied. In short, don’t fall to the temptation to disregard liming recommendations.

Temptation No. 5: I can skimp on recommended amounts of fertilizer Oh, this one is a big temptation in this day and age since we are officially in a recession. Last spring a friend of mine went to buy the fertilizer for his food plots. When he heard the price, he couldn’t believe what his ears had heard. He purchased one half the number of bags he originally intended to. Likewise, lime is expensive in some parts of our nation and hunters may either disregard liming, or skip on the amounts they should apply, especially if it is the more expensive pelletized lime. Falling into the temptation of shorting the soil of what it needs is kind of like us reducing the food we eat by 50 percent each day. I don’t think we would die in this case, but we would be thinner and weaker than normal. The same goes for the plants in a food plot. Short them on lime and/or fertilizer and the crop will still grow, but plant size and production will be minimal. Skimping on the quality of seeds also falls into this category. Imperial Whitetail Clover is unsurpassed for feeding whitetails, both in taste and productivity. Don’t 48

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

I’ll plant the seeds deep to make sure they have a good root system This one is the devil of temptations. Do you really believe, as the outdoor writers say, that you can broadcast Imperial Whitetail Clover and Alfa-Rack Plus seeds on top of the ground before a good rain and they will come up? “No way,” you may say. “They’ll simply be washed downstream into the next county.” Or do you believe if you plant these seeds less than 1/4 inch deep as is recommended that all the seeds will germinate and grow profusely? Well, if past history is an accurate indicator — and it is — many hunters new to food plots will doubt this recommendation. Because of these doubts, they will disc these small seeds into the ground to a greater depth. By doing this, they are making sure the seeds are established well, and in the process they are creating a final resting place for these seeds— because they are too deep to germinate. Always follow planting-depth instructions, which, incidentally, varies from product to product. Oats, for example, need to be placed 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep to do well.

Temptation No. 8: My friend Billy Bob has great food plots and has killed some dandy deer. I’m going to plant what he plants New food plot managers fall into this temptation quite often. This strategy can work, by the way, if both pieces of land are the same. However, in many cases

the makeup of two properties may be entirely different. Billy Bob’s property may lie in a moist , low area that is perfect for the Imperial Whitetail Clover that he plants, while the novice’s property may be in a hilly, welldrained, rocky region that contains little moisture. Clover is durable, but normally it doesn’t do well under these conditions. Instead, a product that withstands dry soil conditions should be planted in this area. Imperial Alfa-Rack Plus or Extreme would be perfect in this case. Do your research and plant the Whitetail Institute product that is suitable for your soil and location.

Temptation No. 9: I can’t believe how good my plots look here in July. As big and tall as the plants are, I’ll bet the whitetails eat them all the way into the fall. Have you ever eaten a large piece of celery and when you took a bite it was a little tough and stringy? I have and you probably have too. This piece of celery would be called tough and fibrous. Alongside this fibrous piece of celery on the plate may be a short, small-diameter piece of celery. Bite into this piece of celery and you will find it to be more tender, easier to chew, and with a better taste. Food plots act in the same way. When the plants have new growth, they are tender, tasty, and easy for a deer to chew. When the plants get large, however, they normally become tough and fibrous and not as palatable to whitetails. That is why it is important to mow your crops such as clover and alfalfa once or twice per summer in order to keep them more tender and appealing to your deer. If you don’t mow and your neighbor who has food plots does, he will end up with your deer. Just don’t mow when the weather is hot and dry.

Temptation No. 10: Hundreds of different soils are found within each state. Be sure to take a soil test to find out exactly what you need to add to your soil to get it in top shape.

This plot looks about an acre in size. It will only take me two, four-pound bags of Imperial Whitetail Clover to plant this plot. From fertilizer, to lime, to seeds, everything revolves around how much you should apply per acre. This www.whitetailinstitute.com


means you must determine as accurately as possible what your plot size is, not just take a wild guess as to what the plot size appears to be. Looks can be deceiving. Be sure of your plot size so you don’t apply too

This food plot is going to be strategically located to take advantage of prevailing wind directions. It also has a good entry/exit method, and a deer bedding area is nearby.

much, or too little, of lime, fertilizer or seed. A square acre (roughly 209’ x 209’) contains 43,560 square feet. You can determine plot size in various ways. Some people take the time to measure plots with a tape measure; some are good enough to step it off accurately; and some are fortunate enough to have a measuring wheel. Most hunters have a range-finder today, and so do I. I simply use a range-finder to determine the dimensions of my food plot, then I multiply this out to get the total square footage in the plot. Simple division using the 43,560 figure then tells me

the size of my plot. So there you have my list of the Top Ten Food Plot Temptations to avoid. In addition, I have listed a few more things to watch for in the accompanying sidebar. Consider each of these temptations carefully and try the best you can to avoid them. It will save you work, money, time and much disappointment. I know, since I have made many of these mistakes in the past. Fortunately, though, I have been able to overcome all of these temptations related to food plots. Now if I can just do something about those biscuits and gravy. W

■ Many Options Needed for Whitetail’s Nutrition > ● Imagine purchasing or leasing a 200-acre piece of property that had 11 deer living on it. We’ll say these 11 deer consist of two antlered bucks, two button bucks, two doe fawns and five adult does. If none of these deer were shot or died of natural causes, just four years later there would be 97 deer on this piece of land. And this doesn’t figure in doe fawns producing offspring. These numbers show how quickly a deer herd can explode out of control. ● Don’t think just one product will serve the nutritional needs of your deer when it comes to quality deer management. Clover and alfalfa are great products but can peter out in the winter. Winter-Greens, a brassica product, provides deer nutritious food in late fall and winter. Plant a variety of Whitetail Institute products that will provide your deer what they need throughout the year. Keep your native vegetation healthy too. ● Be sure to take care of grass and broadleaf problems as well. Grass and broadleafs can choke out your plots if left untreated. The herbicide Arrest can control your grasses, while Slay can control broadleaf weeds. Always follow label instructions. ● If grass and weeds are present, use a product such as Roundup to kill this vegetation down before working your food plot area. If you are capable of doing so, burning this dead material can kill seeds that could germinate and cause you trouble down the road.

Making it greener on your side of the fence! Proper soil pH is the key to successful food plots.

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THE (ACCESS) RAccess OAD TO SUCCESS roads criss-cross whitetail habitat across the country. If you’re using these roads simply to get from point A to point B, you are missing out on their full potential. By Joe Blake Photos by the Author

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

T

he midmorning sun was a welcome relief from the cold, blustery October dawn. Earlier, spits of snow had been falling, and the northwest wind made the vigil in my ladder stand seem more like a November morning. But as the sun broke through the clouds and warmed the surrounding woods with its rays, I relaxed and actually started to doze a bit as I surveyed my surroundings. I was perched alongside the access road that runs north and south beside the far eastern boundary of my Minnesota property, and because it winds through thickly wooded cover, the deer naturally use the mowed path in their daily travels. However, to further encourage them to slip within easy longbow range of my tree stand, I had planted Imperial No-Plow up and down the lane. Even as late fall loomed and cold temperatures became the norm, the lush green clumps of No-Plow dotted the lane in both directions. Already, several does and smaller bucks had passed by, feeding their way north along the road en route to the pine thicket or swamp, where they would spend most of the day. Soon before 10 a.m., movement to the southwest caught my eye, and I eased around to get a better look. At first, the thick stand of poplars looming in that direction thwarted my efforts, but slowly, the back of a deer took shape, and then another. Looking through my binoculars, I could make out two deer slowly feeding their way up the lane, and both animals carried impressive headgear. Slowly lifting my longbow from its resting place I turned slightly to get into position for a shot, knowing from watching previous animals that these two bucks were likely to follow the access road right past my ambush. The road provided the easiest route to travel, and the succulent No-Plow was simply too much to resist. At 20 yards, the lead buck raised his head and glared over his shoulder at his counterpart, and then instantly spun 180 degrees to lock horns with the shadowing whitetail. Although the peak of the rut was still several weeks away, these two warriors had an obvious dislike for each other. The battle lasted several long minutes before the pair resumed their placid approach, feeding as they came. Twice more, the bucks paused in their approach to show their disdain for each other, including once at eight yards. I could see their rippling muscles and clearly hear the grunting and wheezing as they pushed each other back and forth across the access road in front of me. Tracking each buck in turn with the bent stick I held firmly in my left hand, I evaluated each rack. The lead buck was a solid eight-pointer with long tines and a good spread, but he lacked the mass of a mature animal; the trailer was a massive 3x3 and definitely more mature, but lacked enough total bone on his head to make me want to burn the archery tag in my pocket so early in the season. In the end, I returned my longbow to its resting place and watched the two combatants disappear up the lane, alternately feeding and fighting as they went. I smiled to myself at my setup, which just might offer the best hunting in the whitetail woods. Food plots are certainly nothing new, and deer management has become such a rage over the past decade that nearly every hunter who owns or leases property for deer hunting has some sort of

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management plan that involves feeding plots and/or hunting plots. First, we should define the difference. A feeding plot is a large destination feeding area meant to improve the health of the deer and other wildlife on your property and to hold deer on your property. A hunting plot is a small, often out-of-the-way planting designed to improve your health by keeping your freezer full. Hunting plots are small and shaped to encourage the deer to move within range of a hunter’s ambush, be that bow, rifle or muzzleloader range. I submit that the ultimate hunting plot isn’t a plot at all, but simply a site on one of the many access roads that likely already dot your property where you plant seed to make the set-up more attractive. As mentioned, deer will probably already be using your access lanes because of ease of travel, and this is especially true when these lanes cut through heavy cover. Adding a little quality seed to the mix where you have a favorable set-up for a blind or tree stand and you will have a hotspot with few rivals anywhere else in the woods. Let’s take a look. THE SET-UP Because I hunt exclusively with a longbow, I need to set up for very close-range shots, but these tactics can be modified for whatever weapon you prefer to carry. For me, I pick out the perfect ambush site along an access road first, and then tailor the spot to make it more attractive to the deer. Once the stand is in place and shooting lanes cleared, I go over the access road 20 to 30 yards in both directions to rough up the ground. This can be accomplished with any type of drag or even a heavy-tined garden rake, so equipment

Old logging roads are great places to plant Imperial No-Plow or Secret Spot.

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Vol. 19, No. 1 /

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needs are minimal. For a new site, I use two four-foot sections of an actual toothed drag that I pull behind my tractor, but for redoing existing sites I simply use an old steel bedspring that I pull behind my ATV. Once the ground is roughed up, you will be able to get good seed-to-soil contact and it’s time to plant, making sure to check the recommended planting dates for whatever brand and type of seed you will be using. Since my access-road hunting sites are always in heavy cover I use an annual seed. Perennials don’t grow well without adequate sunlight and need more care and attention, but a quality annual seed will provide the perfect hunting plot along your lane. Hands down the best seed I’ve found for this type of application is NoPlow. It is a fast starter, it grows virtually anywhere, and the deer absolutely love it.

There are many hunting situations where you landowners either don’t have access to a tractor and plow or can’t get their equipment to where they want to provide deer food plots. Access road plots are a great option in these situations.

Tracy Breen

PLAY THE WIND I prefer to set up my access road plots along lanes that run north and south, to take advantage of the prevailing westerly winds here in Minnesota in the fall, but I also have sites prepared along trails that run east and west. What you don’t want is a set-up where the wind blows directly up or down your lane because deer either coming or going will catch your scent and alert other deer to your hiding spot. This lesson became painfully clear to me just this past season. I set up for an evening hunt in a huge red oak along an access road that ran north and south. Since a stiff north wind was blowing and I knew the deer would be coming from bedding cover to the north in route to a picked cornfield 100 yards or so south of my ambush, I planned to arrow my buck before it reached my scent stream.

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“Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

• “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!

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Unfortunately, the first deer on the scene was a doe and two fawns that made it past my ambush and then stood behind me for almost an hour, blowing and snorting and alerting every deer within a mile to danger. Always set up with a wind that is perpendicular to your access-road hunting plot. SPICE YOUR SITE With your access road properly planted and a lush, green carpet of No-Plow attracting deer from all around you’re set to get out and reap the benefits of your efforts. There is one more thing you can do to make the site even more attractive: Add a mineral pit within range of your set-up. Obviously you need to check with your local game laws to make sure this practice is legal where you hunt, but if it is legal, a mineral pit within bow or gun range of your ambush will be the icing on the cake and make this hunting plot absolutely irresistible. I use Whitetail Institute’s 30-06 Plus Protein for all my mineral pits because it provides the deer and other wildlife with what they need for improved nutrition and the deer absolutely devour it. I have one pit located along an access trail just inside the woods from one of my larger, feeding plots and the deer have dug and eaten away the ground there until it looks like a foxhole. I have actually started hauling in fresh dirt every spring to build the excavation back up so I don’t accidentally fall in and break a leg. This is my favorite early season set-up because virtually every deer that heads to the larger field of Imperial Whitetail Clover uses this access road either coming or going or both, and if the No-Plow doesn’t slow them down enough for a shot, I know the mineral pit will stop them for sure. They really seem to hammer the 30-06 during the early bow season, making it a perfect set-up for some herd management and freezer filling. The downside to the ambush is that I need a steady northeast wind to hunt it, and that can be a rare thing in Minnesota during fall. After the duo of bucks from the opening story departed, I sat for a time enjoying the beautiful autumn day. Soon enough winter would return to the landscape, and frigid temperatures and deep snow would bury my access road and the No-Plow planting that made it so attractive to the local deer population. I found myself wondering about the giant buck that called the area home. I had seen him a couple of times from a distance, but it didn’t require more than a brief glance to know he was a shooter. This monster buck had long tines, heavy mass and a two-foot inside spread and would press my longbow into service if I could only get him headed my way. So engrossed was I in my daydreaming that I didn’t even notice the big doe greedily devouring the No-Plow down the lane from me, and by the time I snapped out of my fog, she was within easy range and closing. Moving like the hour hand of a watch, I eased the graceful stickbow from its hook, turned slowly to get into position, and stressed the limbs back full. Thankfully, the steady breeze rustling through the few overhead leaves still clinging to their branches covered any sound I might have made, but in truth, the big deer was so attuned to engulfing the lush No-Plow that she had no clue I was anywhere within miles until the heavy arrow struck home. Turning on a dime and flagging her hasty departure, she rocketed down the lane and was swallowed up by the morning woods. Her race would be a brief one, and I recovered her a short distance into the trees, only a few short yards off the road to success. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

30-06 Plus Protein provides whitetails the minerals they need to reach their maximum potential. These lick sites are also deer magnets for both does and monster bucks.

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(Continued from page 21)

Now after a few minutes I don’t know where the buck is. I’m upset with my self for not attempting the last 120 yard possible shot I had. I’m worried about spooking him when I come down after dark. Your mind really goes wild after you have come so close and now it’s over. I look at my dead doe through the football size hole through the pine’s branches to judge how much time I have left with my scope. I can’t see her! Instead I’m looking at this huge buck! He is standing over and looking down at the dead doe. I take the safety off and aim behind the shoulder and fired(double lung). He was big, I mean really big! The buck scored 179 Boone & Crockett non typical, my buck of a lifetime.

Anton Stark — Michigan

girls, during the rut the big boys come looking for action. I have harvested 5 bucks in 4 years. 2 = 125 plus and 3 = 140 plus. I would see turkeys and deer all over the Imperial Whitetail Clover. Wow, I had never seen anything like it. It was like being at a wildlife park. Around the end of October I finally got some time to go hunting. After 15 minutes of being in my stand the turkeys started coming out. 15 minutes later the deer started coming from all directions. There was over 20 deer in my clover plot. All the does lifted their heads looking into the marsh to see a really nice 10 pointer with an 18 7/8 inch inside spread buck walking in. That was the shortest hunt of my life. During the gun season I had harvested a really nice 10 pointer also on the same clover plot. This plot since then has produced 3 more bucks all over 140 inches of antler. Enclosed are pictures from 2 and 3 years ago. Don’t have last seasons bow kill pictures but he scored 144 inch 11 points.

was in is about 70 yards from a Winter-Greens food plot. I watched two flat tops feed on the plot for about 30 minutes before I saw this buck working his way toward it. This is the first time I have planted WinterGreens, but I can assure you it won’t be the last.

Lance Williams — Texas I live in deep East Texas. I will have as many as 30 deer in the Imperial Whitetail Clover field. Imperial Whitetail Clover is a great product. Keep up the good work. I also tell everyone Imperial Whitetail Clover is the best!

Lorin LeMire — Minnesota

I have placed three food plots with Imperial Whitetail Clover in secluded areas where deer feel safe. It is a great place to hunt. Does feed regular — if you want to find bucks just look for the does. I shot this 9 point this year looking for does near a plot. Check out the mass. It is Imperial Mass.

I’ve only got 4 acres. Obviously not enough land to hold deer on my property, but I do have deer visiting my 1/2 acre plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover on a regular basis. Including some nice bucks! I’ve shot a deer off of this small plot every year since I planted. This is one of the bucks I have taken since using Imperial Whitetail Clover.

Donald Gibbs Sr. — Indiana We began with a small plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover to hold deer on a small tract of land in Indiana. In the second and third year two large bucks 140-150 class were taken. We then drifted to Illinois and again planted Imperial Whitetail Clover. Deer feed on Imperial Whitetail Clover well, lay down in it and stay in

Brian Stach — Wisconsin I own 35 acres. There’s not a lot a person can do to manage a small place like this. But the does love the Imperial Whitetail Clover, and if you take care of the

Scott Bond — Indiana I shot this guy on Dec. 8, opening morning of muzzleloader season in northeastern Indiana. The stand I 54

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

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taining a proper pH. I will be replanting this year plus adding some Winter-Greens for even more hunting season forage. Enclosed is a picture of my wife and her 8 pointer. Thanks for the great products. P.S. Lime, lime, lime!

Ron Larkins — Kentucky Stacy Chester — Georgia Imperial Whitetail Clover is a great product. Deer love that clover. I never really believed it until I tried it. I have gotten some really nice deer on my trail cams

I love Imperial Whitetail Clover. We’ve been killing bigger bucks since we planted it. This year we had a severe drought but the I m p e r i a l Whitetail Clover came back as strong as ever. Enclosed are two pics of deer that my stepson, Cody, and I have taken over the Imperial Whitetail Clover. His is a 142 inch 10 point and my deer is a 162 inch 11 point.

Stanley Remiszewski — Connecticut I planted Imperial Whitetail Clover in 2001. It came up excellent. The amount of bucks that pass through show the results. Not every buck is a giant but with some selectiveness, you can score on a wall hanger. Can’t stress enough how important lime is for mainout in the clover just bedded up in it. It was like they were afraid to leave it. Like it wouldn’t be there tomorrow. I have enclosed a picture of a deer I got a photo of in the clover this year. I also included a picture of a 10 point I killed that scored 155 inches. Great product. Keep up the good work Whitetail Institute. W

Send Us Your Photos! it much longer. Most of our club hunters agree that in our opinion Imperial Whitetail Clover is hard to beat for longevity and draw. Enclosed are photos of some of the bucks we’ve taken. www.whitetailinstitute.com

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. 19, No. 1 /

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EFFECTS OF DROUGHT CHALLENGE HUNTERS By David Hart Photos by the Author

B

lame it on bad luck, God’s will, or just a string of unfortunate weather patterns, but much of the United States has been ravaged by a prolonged period of drought. Reservoirs are drying up, crops refuse to grow and deer hunters are wondering what it all means. One obvious impact of a long, hot, dry spell is the noticeable effects on food plots. Getting one started when there’s little rain is difficult enough; keeping it green is perhaps just as difficult. Plenty of hunters who have invested time and money in food plots have been defeated by a long dry spell that has withered crops, natural vegetation and food plots. “The most important thing you can do is to make sure you give your food plots the right nutrients to begin with,” says Whitetail Institute vice-president Steve Scott. “Healthy plants will survive the stress of a drought much better than plants that don’t have the proper fertilizer and pH level in the soil. It’s also important to match your seed choice with the soil type. Imperial Clover will grow much better in heavy bottomland soil than it will in well-drained soil on a hilltop or slope. Alfa-Rack Plus tends to do better in drier soils.” To meet the challenges of a weather pattern that seem to be the norm rather than the exception, the Whitetail Institute developed a new blend that includes a variety of plants capable of withstanding low levels of moisture. Extreme, a mix of extremely hardy plants, can prosper with as little as 15 inches of rain per year. Compare that to a 30-inch annual rainfall requirement 56

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

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to grow a healthy stand of other perennial crops, and it’s obvious that Extreme lives up to its name. Scott says hunters who want to help deer during periods of sparse rainfall would be better off sticking with a few proven plants. “I would lean toward a higher percentage of food plot acres being planted in annuals if I were in a region that was subject to drought, but you need at least some moisture to get the seed going and the seedling needs moisture to get a healthy start,” Scott says. “If it rains once and then doesn’t rain for three months, there isn’t much you can plant that will survive. Even if it does, there’s a good chance it won’t be very attractive to deer.” Scott also says it’s a bad idea to practice any kind of maintenance on a food plot during extreme weather conditions. Dry plants are stressed plants, and mowing or spraying can be detrimental or even deadly to food plots. “Most plants go dormant during dry periods, so spraying may just be a waste of money and mowing can end up killing the plants you are trying to save,” he explains. Fortunately, water — or specifically, the lack of water — is rarely a limiting factor for whitetail survival in their traditional range. There is always a pond, a creek or some man-made water source within reach. Even if there isn’t, whitetails can often find water in the most unlikely sources. David Hewitt, a research scientist at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Center in

Kingsville, Texas, says whitetails in southern Texas have been known to consume large quantities of prickly pear cactus, a succulent plant common throughout the region. He said the weight of prickly pear is comprised of up to 90 percent water, and in dry times, cactus can make up as much of half of a deer’s diet. However, it’s not very high in protein and is only moderate in nutrition, he says. Although individuals can survive dry weather, periods of drought can have a significant impact on an entire deer herd according to Hewitt. The research center is part of the Texas A&M University’s Kingsville campus and is in a region known for major shifts in weather patterns. Like much of the country, southern Texas has been ravaged by a prolonged drought. “The biggest impact of a drought is in fawn recruitment,” he says. “Without sufficient rainfall in spring and early summer, fawn survival rates can fall to as low as four or five fawns per 100 does. The obvious impact is that you’ll have fewer mature deer in the following years. On the other hand, we’ve seen fawn ratios as high as 80 per 100 does during wet springs and early summers.” The primary reason for low fawn recruitment is the general decrease in the nutrition of the forage. Less moisture means plants grow slower or not at all and therefore produce less nutrition. Hewitt says a drought that persists into fall also translates into unhealthy does, which can mean lower birth rates. Does don’t

breed or don’t carry a fetus to term in drier winters. If they give birth in a dry spring or early summer, does are often in poor condition and produce less milk. As a result, fawns automatically have a lower chance of survival. That, combined with poor forage quality when fawns are weaned, can mean certain death. As Hewitt notes, however, wet years can mean a boom in whitetails. “There is some speculation that in wetter years, there is more cover, so newborn fawns are less prone to predation,” he says. “It makes sense, but I don’t know of any studies that have looked at that directly. I would say that the biggest benefit of significant rainfall is in the forage quality.” Bucks are also stressed by the decrease in nutrition forage provides during a dry spring and summer. Conventional wisdom would suggest that antler growth is stunted during a spring/summer drought because generally, antler growth is secondary to a whitetail’s survival. A buck will first put on body mass before it puts energy into growing antler mass. Hewitt recalls one study that examined the correlation between the number of whitetails entered into Boone & Crockett Club’s record book with weather patterns and found a direct link to a decrease in antler size to periods of dry weather. He also noted another study conducted in Texas that found a similar connection. “The researchers found about a 15-point (Boone & Crockett score) difference between dry springs and

To meet the challenges of a dry weather pattern you must plant the right food plot seeds. Imperial Extreme is a great option when conditions get tough.

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Dry weather comes and goes, but if you plant the proper food plot choices and plant them correctly you can still harvest healthy, mature bucks.

wet springs” he said. A study of red deer in southeastern Spain also found a direct correlation between annual rainfall and antler size. According to the study’s authors, “The lowest quality animals were obtained during the hunting season from October 1995 to February 1996, which coincided with the end of an extended period of drought. The best trophies were harvested during the 1996 to 1997 season, the period of highest rainfall during the study. Thus environmental conditions can have a major influence on antler size.” Two years ago, Alabama experienced its worst drought on record, and the next year was significantly dry. Keith Guyse, Chief Biologist with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said despite the severe conditions, there was no noticeable difference in deer body weights or antler size based on the data he gathered from hunt clubs and other cooperators. Guyse notes that his observations aren’t scientific and aren’t necessarily a good indication of how dry weather affects whitetails. However, he said he did not hear of any concern from the state’s hunters about the state’s deer herd during the severe drought. Even if there was a noticeable difference in body weights, antler size or the number of fawns during or directly after extended periods of dry weather, there isn’t much hunters can do about it, Hewitt concludes. Whatever the reason, dry weather comes and goes and whitetails and the hunters who pursue them just have to play the hand they are dealt. 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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The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail Pintlala, AL 36043 Research = Results

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

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“Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

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Thank heaven that Mother Nature eventually provides the precipitation needed for lush food plots. “The most important thing you can do is make sure you give your food plots the right nutrients to begin with,” Steve Scott, Whitetail Institute Vice President, advises. “Healthy plants will survive the stress of a drought much better than those that don’t have the proper fertilizer or pH level in the soil.”

30-06 and 30-06 Plus Protein contain all the essential macro and trace minerals along with vitamins A, D, and E necessary for a quality deer herd and maximum antler growth.

30-06 is not a glorified salt lick or a cattle mineral. It is a true nutritional supplement developed specifically for the needs of the whitetail deer. What is good for a bull will do very little for antler growth in a whitetail.

30-06 and 30-06 Plus Protein contain our exclusive scent and flavor enhancers which mean deer find, and frequent, the ground sites you create by mixing these products into the soil. You can be assured 30-06 was created with deer, not cattle, in mind. Because of the 30-06 products incredible attractiveness, some states may consider it bait. Remember to check your local game laws before hunting over the 30-06 site.

800-688-3030 whitetailinstitute.com The Whitetail Institute Research = Results

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®

239 Whitetail Trail Pintlala, AL 36043 “Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

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LastMinute Hunting Plots By Tracy Breen Photos by the Author

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uring the past decade, food plots have become the rage among many hardcore hunters. Ten years ago, many hunters could not tell you the difference between a clover and a carrot. Hunters are now becoming land managers and farmers. They are creating tracts of land with one goal in mind: growing and harvesting trophy-class whitetails. The problem is, for every hunter who has figured out how to grow food plots successfully, there are 10 who haven’t learned the ins and outs of putting in a food plot.

Many hunters go into the process not having a clue about what they are doing, resulting in a food plot that resembles more of a dirt mound than a food plot. Some hunters know how to properly plant a plot, but when July arrives, the plot they slaved over and cared for like an infant doesn’t see a drop of water; or worse, it has rained too much, and the plot looks like a small duck pond. There is another category, which I fall into. This group has the best intentions of planting a plot, but somewhere between buying the seed and clearing the land, hunters drop the ball and look at the calendar and realize it’s too late to plant. When these situations occur, most hunters throw in the towel, figuring there isn’t enough time before the hunting season arrives to start over and get a plot planted and flourishing. However, in the past few years, seed blends have been developed for almost all situations. Whether you are a green thumb, a brown thumb or a horrible procrastinator, there are seed options for you. Before you plant a last-minute plot, however, you need to know how to grow a plot. Maybe you’ve waited until the last minute to plant your plot, had a plot fail because of the weather, or don’t know how to plant a plot properly and suddenly it’s late summer, and you have no time to waste if you plan to hunt over your plot during the rut. Steve Scott of the Whitetail Institute of North America has some suggestions. It starts with plot placement. “Anyone planting a plot during late summer needs to make sure the plot is planted in an area that receives adequate sun, rainfall and has decent soil,” he says. “Most seed blends won’t grow in pure sand conditions. If that’s where you plan to plant a plot, maybe you should reconsider.” Like any crop, food plots flourish when they are well cared for. More hunters are taking the time to put in food plots off the beaten path, where it’s difficult to utilize fertilizer and lime. Unfortunately, because bringing these vital items into the woods adds time and difficul-

Before and after photos of a remote hunting plot. In a few weeks a piece of woods can be turned into a lush plot. 60

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ty to putting in a food plot, many hunters don’t fertilize or lime these food plots. “A food plot that is planted last minute off the beaten path needs to be cared for like any other crop,” Scott says. “Putting the proper amount of lime and fertilizer on the plot will help the plot reach its maximum potential faster than it would without these items. Adequate sunlight can also help a plot grow quickly, so hunters should consider cutting down a few trees or removing branches or trees that might block the sun from reaching the plot. Failing to do any of these things can cause the plot to not take off the way it could if it was properly cared for.” If you plan on planting a last-minute food plot to hunt, you are probably not planning to plant a monstrous plot that will take up several acres — most likely it will take up a few acres or less. Maybe much less. The beauty of a small plot is that you can quickly break up the ground, spread lime and plant a plot in a day, which is very important when hunting season is just around the corner. “I’ve had guys call me who have planted a plot late in the summer in a few hours,” Scott recalls. “Planting a small hunting plot doesn’t have to take several days like a large plot can.” Whitetail Institute makes two seed blends that are perfect for hunters who are short on time and don’t have a lot of money to wrap up in farming equipment. The blends are Imperial No-Plow and Secret Spot. “We put these two blends together for hunters who want a food plot but don’t have a lot of time or money to put into one,” Scott explains. “These two blends work great for hunters who want to plant a plot off the main drag, where bringing equipment in would be a big

A two track is a great place for a last-minute hunting plot.

KOLPIN AD

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Kolpin Powersports

A small disc like this one from Kolpin can easily be transported off the beaten path.

spend on ATV attachments to put in a plot, consider that more companies are making ATV attachments that are reasonably priced. As a matter of fact, many companies are giving ATV owners several options. You no longer have to purchase an all-in-one plot unit that costs several thousand dollars. You can purchase a disc, sprayer, and hand seeder separately. You can also buy an attachment for your ATV that accepts a wide range of implements that can be purchased one at a time. Kolpin, which specializes in ATV accessories, has attachments that turn an ATV into a plot-planting machine. Its Dirt Works Series lets you purchase a 3point hitch system with numerous attachments for the system. This allows you to buy them one at a time. A seeder/cultipactor, a chisel plow and disc can be purchased individually from a Kolpin dealer. Planting a last-minute food plot doesn’t have to be a lot of work or cost a lot of money. It requires a little last-minute planning to make sure you cross your T’s and dot your I’s. After all, if it’s already August, you don’t have much time to lose. The good news is, if you have waited until the last minute to plant a food plot, the Whitetail Institute has everything you need to take a piece of ground full of weeds and turn it into a lush green plot just in time for the rut. W

Large plots like this one are nice but hard for the average hunter to build.

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Joe Blake

ordeal. These blends can handle dry conditions and should be able to thrive with just a little effort up front” The name No-Plow says it all. No plowing is needed. Simply rake the area you plan on planting to expose the soil and then plant the seed. Within weeks, the annual blend can be growing, and when it’s planted in late summer or fall, it can last into hunting season and into the following spring. One nice thing about NoPlow is that for less than $35, you can cover a half-acre, which is the perfect-size hunting plot. The Secret Spot blend is another great option for a plot that will be planted last minute or planted off the beaten path. One bag of Secret Spot can plant 4,500 square feet (Secret Spot XL covers 10,000 sq. ft.) and the seeds germinate quickly. To prepare the area for planting, mow the area, or kill the weeds in the area with a weed-whacker or weed killer. Expose the soil and loosen it some with a rake. This will help insure seed and soil contact. The great thing about these seed blends is that with a little effort and time and for as little as $40, you can have a lush, green plot to hunt. If you have an ATV, planting a last-minute plot can be even easier. Before you groan about the amount of money you need to www.whitetailinstitute.com


NO-PLOW IS BIG HIT IN WISCONSIN OPENING DAY By Dan Hellenbrand Photo by the Author

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mperial No-Plow might be one of the Whitetail Institute’s most tried-andtrue products, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t kept up with the times and then some. No-Plow is often the only choice for hunters who don’t have farm equipment or enough time to plant food plots. That was the case for Dan Hellenbrand of Wisconsin two seasons ago. “On opening day I told a friend that he should sit with me because I normally see a lot of deer,” Hellenbrand said. “I saw a 130-class buck right away, but it was too far for my friend to shoot. The deer was headed right toward my brother, Tad. About 10 minutes had gone by, and Tad shot his first good deer, a 130class 8-pointer.” One big deer was down, but that wasn’t the end of the excitement. Hellenbrand was looking down the hill when he saw a big doe walking the hillside. “I told my friend to wake up (he had been sleeping), and that there was a deer walking right at him,” Hellenbrand said. “I was going to get it on camera—his first deer — but he was so excited he shot right when the camera was turning on. We were so happy that he got his first deer, when all of a sudden I looked over his shoulder and saw this big buck walking right where the doe was. So I put down the camera and grabbed the gun, and shot the 12-pointer. He fell right where he was walking. The deer green-scored 170 Boone & Crockett points. I would like to say thanks to the Whitetail Institute for Imperial No-Plow. Also, thanks for taking the time to listen to my story!” Hellenbrand said the deer in the photo was shot on his dad’s land in Wisconsin. His father owns 80 acres www.whitetailinstitute.com

that is mostly timber. Imperial No-Plow was his choice because Hellenbrand can’t get heavy equipment into the timber. No-Plow is also a great option because it’s a proven seed blend. The annual blend not only attracts deer but gives them the nutrition that can help them grow large antlers. Another reason Hellenbrand chose No-Plow is because it doesn’t need a lot of attention after planting.

“Because it’s all woods, I have been planting NoPlow for about five years in the center of my dad’s land,” Hellenbrand said. “No-Plow works great in that type of climate where summer rainfall just cannot be counted on. The land is also two hours away from where I live, so it is nice that I can use a product that does not need a lot of maintenance.” W

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FINE TUNING FORAGES FOR MAXIMUM PERFORMANCE By Whitetail Institute Staff

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hen choosing the forage you’ll put in each site, don’t forget to consider the purpose you want that forage to serve in your foodplot system. When it comes to maximizing the results from your food-plot system, remember that using annuals alone or in combination with perennials can be a great idea. There are several factors to consider when choosing what forage to plant in a specific site. Some of these, such as soil type, slope and equipment accessibility are physical factors related to the site itself. Here, we are going to talk about a second group of factors involved in forage selection: the purpose you want the forage in that site to serve in the context of your overall foodplot system. When it comes to fall annual plantings, the rapid growth and attraction of Imperial annual blends put them at the top of the list. Let’s look at four Whitetail Institute annual blends that are designed for planting in the fall, and how each might be used alone or in conjunction with a nearby perennial planting.

Imperial Winter-Greens. When WinterGreens was introduced, it literally took the brassica forage market by storm. The results of early testing were that Imperial Winter-Greens outperformed standard brassica products by a huge margin, and customer feedback since then has confirmed it. The reason lies in the nature of the brassicas in Winter-Greens. Unlike standard brassicas products, Winter-Greens features “lettuce types” (brassicas with a vegetable genetic base) that are far more attractive than standard brassicas. Like brassicas in general, the lettuce types in Winter-Greens become sweeter after the first frosts of fall, but many field testers continue to report heavy usage by deer even in the early fall before frosts arrive. Winter-Greens is a superb forage for providing deer with a late-season food source that is both highly attractive and nutritious. The brassicas in WinterGreens survive cold weather better than other forages, and they can stand tall in the snow when other forages have stopped production. They can also provide lateseason backup for nearby perennial plantings if they are grazed down heavily in the fall and winter or buried too deep in the snow for deer to reach. Winter-Greens can be planted alone or top-dressed into existing perennial plots. Many field testers elect to add Winter-Greens to their existing perennial plots every fall by top-dressing them with up to 3 pounds of Winter-Greens per acre. In the far north, this can be a great way to provide abun64

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dant food for deer during the coldest months of the year until perennials are again available before spring green-up.

Imperial Pure Attraction. Like WinterGreens, Imperial Pure-Attraction generated a huge following as soon as it hit the market. Specifically designed to provide overlapping early and late season stages, Pure-Attraction is really an all-in-one annual forage for fall and winter. The early-fall stage of Pure-Attraction features WINA forage oats, a rapidly growing forage oat that is high in sugar content and cold-tolerant. Also included in the early-fall stage are winter peas to help the plot green up as rapidly as possible. As late fall approaches and deer continue to consume the oats and peas, the lateseason stage of Pure-Attraction kicks in. This stage features the Institute’s specially selected brassicas, which serves as an abundant food source for deer through the late fall and winter. When it comes to nutrition, most folks are aware of how important protein is, and Pure-Attraction has plenty of protein to meet the needs of deer during the fall and winter. What is perhaps not as commonly known, though, is how important carbohydrates are to deer during this period. In fact, carbohydrates are even more

important than protein to deer during the cold months of the year. Both stages of Pure-Attraction are very high in carbohydrates. The high-sugar forage oats in Pure Attraction are a magnet for deer as they try to pack on energy reserves. Then, once frosts arrive, the brassicas in Pure-Attraction continue to provide deer with abundant carbohydrates as starches in the brassicas are converted to sugars. In that way, PureAttraction is a great choice for a fall-winter hunting plot, as well as a supplemental source of carbohydrates for deer until perennials re-emerge in the early spring.

Imperial No-Plow and Secret Spot. Of all Imperial forage blends, none is more versatile than No-Plow and Secret Spot. That’s because these products can even be planted without tilling the soil to prepare a traditional seedbed. Accordingly, they can be used in areas inaccessible with equipment, sites that should not be tilled because they are highly erodable, and virtually anywhere you want to establish an attractive, nutritious food plot. No-Plow can be planted in the spring (in most areas) and in the fall. Secret Spot is specifically designed only for fall planting. When planted in the fall, they are very similar in application. Both contain forage grains and cereals, which are often the first plants to emerge after planting. Shortly thereafter, another forage group in the blends — annual clovers — emerges and is utilized by deer. As cold weather approaches, WINA brassicas carry the plot through the rest of the fall and winter. Like the other forage products mentioned, No-Plow and Secret Spot can be planted alone, or near existing perennials to give deer variety and increased forage production and availability for the fall and winter. NoPlow and Secret Spot can even be top-dressed into existing perennial plots in the fall to add the attraction of new, tender, rapid growing forage plants. When it comes to fall annual plantings, the line of Imperial forage blends has you covered. Plant them alone for superior attraction and nutrition all season long. Or plant them in conjunction with your existing perennials to add attractive, nutritious new growth. Aside from a few planting requirements, the only real limit on how you use these outstanding fall annuals is your imagination. W

No-Plow and Secret Spot can be used in areas inaccessible with equipment, sites that should not be tilled because they are highly erodable, and virtually anywhere you want to establish an attractive, nutritious food plot.

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Imperial Whitetail Clover – Still the Number-One Food Plot Planting in the World! By Whitetail Institute Staff

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t has been an incredible ride since 1988, when the Whitetail Institute was founded. Since then, the average annual number of record-book deer has increased over 500% as more and more hunters and managers began practicing quality deer management. Through it all Imperial Whitetail Clover has remained the number-one food plot planting in the world. Let’s look at why. Perhaps the biggest reason why Imperial Whitetail Clover continues to reign supreme as a whitetail foodplot product is that it is the only clover product ever genetically developed specifically for whitetail deer food plots. The perennial clovers in the blend were created by breeding other clovers toward target goals, selecting only the best offspring, and then repeating the process for years. Each time, the offspring selected for continued interbreeding were the ones that best met the Institute’s research and development goals, which included high nutrient content, early seedling vigor, tolerance of heat, cold and drought and other factors. There isn’t enoough room here to explain all the reasons for Imperial Whitetail Clover’s number-one position in the market. So, let’s just look at one factor as an

example — palatability. Consider that when it comes to food selection, whitetail deer are about as picky and finicky as it gets. The reason is their small-ruminant digestive system. Cattle and whitetails are both “ruminant� animals, meaning that they have a four-chambered stomach. Most digestion takes place in one of those chambers, the rumen, in which bacteria break down what the animal eats. However, deer are unlike cattle in that deer are “small ruminants,� which means that they cannot effectively utilize tough or stemmy forages the way cattle can. Instead, deer must have forages that are only of the most tender sort, such as the newly emerged buds and leaves of natural forages in the spring. And that’s one of the keys to Imperial Whitetail Clover’s success: the two perennial clovers in the blend, Advantage and Insight, were specifically bred for the unique digestive needs of deer. One feature that makes these perennial clovers so attractive and palatable to deer, and that allows them to maintain their high palatability and nutritional content all year, is that they do not have to flower (make seeds) to keep going for years. Why is that such a big deal? Here’s an example most

folks can identify with. At one time or another, you’ve probably seen unwanted, natural clover growing in your lawn. The next time you see those clovers emerge and start to grow, do a little test. Take a close look at the clover early in its growth cycle before it flowers, and take note of two things: the size of the leaves, and how tender the stem is. Then, check the clover again after it flowers, and you’ll likely find that the leaves are smaller and the stem much harder. That’s because it takes lots of energy and nutrients out of a plant to flower. That’s one reason why we recommend mowing Imperial Whitetail Clover in the spring and maybe once more in the early fall too. Mowing Imperial Whitetail Clover to prevent flowering keeps energy and nutrients in the forage plants and helps keep the plot even more tender, lush and attractive. Again, that’s just one reason why Imperial Whitetail Clover is at the very top of the list when it comes to forage products for deer. There are many others. And remember — with the Institute’s dedication to exhaustive research, development and testing, you can be sure that when the Institute finds a way to make Imperial Whitetail Clover even better, it will do so. W

FA LL P L A NT I N G DAT E S

for Imperial WhitetailÂŽ Clover, Chicory Plus™, Alfa-Rack™, Alfa-Rack PLUS™, Extreme™, Secret Spot™, No-Plow™ ,“Chicâ€? Magnet™ , Pure Attraction™ and Double-Cross™ í˘ą Call for planting dates í˘˛ Do not plant in fall í˘ł Aug 1 - Sept 1 í˘´ Coastal: Sept 1 - Oct 15

Piedmont: Aug 15 - Oct 1 Mountain Valleys: Aug 1 Sept 15

í˘ľ Aug 1 - Sept 30 í˘ś Sept 1 - Nov 1 í˘ˇ North: Aug 1 - Sept 15

South: Aug 15 - Oct 15

í˘¸ North: July 15 - Aug 20

ě?ˆ Sept 15 - Nov 15 ě?‰ North: Sept 5 - Nov 15

Central: Sept 15 - Nov 15 South: Sept 25 - Nov 15

ě”ˆ North: Aug 25 - Oct 15

South: Sept 5 - Oct 30

씉 North: Sept 5 - Nov 15

Coastal: Sept 15 - Nov 15 South: Sept 25 - Nov 15

씊 Coastal: Sept 25 - Oct 15

Piedmont: Sept 1 - Oct 5 Mountain: Aug 25 - Oct 15

씋 North: Sept 15 - Nov 15

Central: Sept 15 - Nov 25 South: Oct 5 - Nov 30

South: July 20 - Aug 25

í˘š Aug 1 - Aug 31 ě?… Aug 1 - Sept 15 www.whitetailinstitute.com

ě”Œ Aug 1 - Sept 1 ě”? Aug 20 - Sept 30 Vol. 19, No. 1 /

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Controlled Burns Can Benefit Wildlife Habitat By Monte Burch Photo: ©iStockphoto.com/Mikhail Kokhanchikov

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an fire be good for wildlife, and in particular, whitetail deer? You bet, if the fire is prescribed — another name for controlled burn. And, fire can also be good for your property as well. To do a prescribed fire you need trained people in a specific contained area, and at a time when weather and other conditions are right to produce a specific result.

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In earlier times, naturally occurring fires were a continual reality of life. These fires kept plant succession under control and allowed for a more diverse habitat. The Native Americans also knew the benefits of fire. But wildfires became the bogeyman several decades ago and, thanks to Smokey Bear and public education, wildfires were brought under control. The problem, as has been illustrated in the West, is that a regular natural occurrence of fire kept things under more control. With no fires for decades, huge amounts of fuel have built up in many timberlands and scrublands, resulting in monstrous wildfires that destroy untold numbers of homes and kill people and wildlife. Fire can be a friend to wildlife, again if it is done in the proper manner, at the correct time, and under the right conditions. And, it can be a great help in creating or enhancing whitetail deer habitat. Fire can be used to kill back invasive brush and Eastern Red cedars, providing more opportunities for forages such as young hardwoods. Fire can also be used to remove timberland fuel and forest floor duff, allowing forbs—deer favorites—to flourish. Fire can be used to enhance clearings and old fields that are growing into later succession. Fire can also be used to help kill fescue in order to establish successful food plots. And, fire can be used to reestablish or create native warm-season grasses. Again the key is a “controlled” fire not a “wild” fire. Prescribed fires are done as precisely as possible, determined by wind direction, humidity, fuel levels, area to be burned and other factors. Many state Fish and Game Departments have information on doing controlled burns, even personnel to help in some cases. Some states also conduct prescribed fire schools. These are invaluable learning experiences for anyone wanting to learn the proper methods. Check with your local Soil and Water Conservation District offices as well as state agencies, including forestry offices. Don’t attempt a controlled burn by yourself, or without learning the proper methods. Even the experts occasionally end up with an “uncontrolled” burn. Proper timing, having the right tools and under-

standing how to plan and conduct a prescribed burn are extremely important. Timing of the burn is extremely important. Burns implemented at different times of the year have different effects on different vegetations. For example to kill fescue, plan to burn in the fall or late winter. The frequency of burns also has a major effect. The first step is to determine your goals. These can be killing back brush, eradicating fescue, timber stand improvement or managing native warm season grasses. Burn timberlands and brushy areas to kill back buckbrush, Western iron weed, Osage orange saplings and Eastern red cedars at least every three years in the spring to control woody vegetation and increase deer browse. Burn when they first leaf-out to kill the tops. It may take two or three burns to kill them back, except for the cedars. A number of burning hazards can occur and you are legally responsible for any damages caused by a prescribed burn. This includes smoke as well as fire damage. If you intend to burn in an area that might have a potential of creating fire or smoke damage, you should first see your lawyer. Although the damage caused by wildfire is obvious, less obvious is the damage caused by smoke. Prescribed burning should not be done within one mile of an airport, and in fact may be illegal. Avoid allowing smoke to reach residences, businesses or farm operations such as dairies, hog operations, horse stables and chickens houses. Smoke can also create a serious hazard for motorists on public roads. You are responsible for an accident caused by your prescribed burn. Always burn when the wind is blowing away from any public roads and have plenty of people to help direct traffic if the wind shifts. Heavy concentrations of smoke can also conduct electricity, allowing a discharge from a power line to the ground, much like a lighting strike. Several conditions must be met to alleviate smoke problems. This includes a wind of at least 5 to 15 mph. The cloud cover should be less than 70 percent and there must be a ceiling of at least 2,000 feet to allow the smoke to rise above the ground and then be dis-

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persed into the atmosphere. Prescribed burning is hard and stressful work. Persons with health problems, including respiratory disease, heart conditions and high blood pressure should not participate in controlled burns. Keep a close watch on all persons for heat stroke, heat exhaustion or smoke inhalation. Proper safety equipment must be worn, including clothing of natural fibers such as cotton or wool. Synthetic clothing melts at high temperatures and can cause serious burns. The clothing must cover arms and legs. You will also need a sprayer capable of 125 psi pressure and at least an output of six gallons of water per minute. A tank sprayer on an ATV or trailer pulled behind an ATV can be extremely helpful. Backpack sprayers are also extremely handy. Hand tools such as rakes, broom rakes, fire swatters, and even wet sacks can be used to control fire lines. A drip torch makes it easier and safer to string backfire lines. You’ll also need pliers and bolt-cutters for cutting fences and locked gates if needed to escape. And last, have plenty of water on hand. Before you start the burn, inform local fire departments, sheriff’s offices, local forestry offices or other necessary public officials of the burn. Then notify them when the burn ceases. Also notify all neighbors before and after the burn. This prevents unnecessary runs by fire departments and also puts them on the alert should you have to call them in. The most important element in a successful burn is a burn plan. The plan should include what will be burned and how and when, along with the necessary precautions. Use an aerial photo, topographical map, or even a hand drawing of the area to be burned. Mark all-

important features including power lines, gates, fences, neighbors, houses, and the direction of preferred smoke dispersal. Mark natural or created firebreaks. They must be wide enough to prevent sparks or embers from drifting to unburned areas and starting another fire. Normally firebreaks should be at least twice as wide as the vegetation to be burned is high. Natural firebreaks can be streams, green crop fields or little-used farm lanes. Firebreaks can also be created of either bare soil or cool-season grasses. The former is the best; grazing or mowing to keep a short, thick stand of cool-season grasses with little dry fuel to burn, can create the latter. Another type of firebreak is a burned firebreak. These are established around the perimeter, taking advantage of any natural firebreaks as well. Lighting short lengths of vegetation on the downwind side of the burn-area boundary create these. They are allowed to burn about 15 to 20 feet, then extinguished. A new area is burned along the perimeter until a burned firebreak is created. Wetlines are another type of firebreak and are one of the most common forms used when conducting prescribed burns. Using a high-pressure sprayer to dampen a narrow strip of vegetation from which a backfire is lit creates wetlines. Once the fire backs away from the wet strip a foot or so, it is sprayed to extinguish it. It is extremely important that certain conditions be met for a safe, controlled burn, and weather is the most important condition. Wind direction and wind speed must be correct to match the burn plan. Relative humidity should be between 30 and 60 percent and temperature should be 45 to 75 degrees. Cloud cover should be clear to 70 percent clear and the ceiling

should be 2,000 feet or higher. Obtain weather forecasts from local or national weather reports and do not hesitate to cancel the burn if all conditions are not met. As relative humidity and temperatures rise, burning becomes more difficult to control. Prescribed burns are best conducted in the morning when better humidity and temperature conditions exist. If all conditions are right, firebreaks are established, equipment and help is on hand, and you have a plan in hand, begin the burn in a downwind corner of the area. Begin with a small test fire to make sure everything is working properly and then light a backfire in small enough sections that the burn crew can properly handle the fire. This should result in a continued ring around the perimeter until you reach the upwind side. Different wind directions dictate the types of backfires and types of burns. This may be a ring burn, strip burn, head fire or flank fire. It normally requires at least three to four people for each fireline. One lights the fireline, one or two control the fireline and one is left to mop-up and make sure no fires restart outside the firebreak. An L-shaped fireline requires at least six workers. Carefully monitor the entire area during the burn. Once the burn has completed, make a check of the perimeter to make sure sparks and embers haven’t created a fire outside the firebreak area. Watch snags and brushpiles to make sure they don’t allow embers outside the burn area. A controlled burn can be a major factor in successful whitetail deer management. Learn how to do it safely. Entire books are written on the subject and schools are available. Make sure you obtain the needed information and schooling necessary before conducting a burn. W

SOIL TEST KITS

Whitetail Institute

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

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 ___________________________________ ■ Check or Money Order enclosed Payment: : ■ MasterCard ■ Visa ■ Discover Charge to:

Credit Card # _______________________________________ Exp. Date __________

$

95 74 + $9.00 S/H

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WHITETAIL NEWS

67


Hunters In The Crosshairs Anti-Hunting Groups Are Influential and Well Funded By David Hart Photo: ©iStockphoto.com/Samiphoto

O

n a cool day in September 1991, a young man dressed in a blaze-orange vest led a throng of reporters through the woods of a public hunting area on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. A broadhead, encased in a plastic tube, dangled from a chain around his neck. It was a prop that played perfectly into the hands of the media, which hung on Wayne Pacelle’s every word. The brash young leader of the Fund for Animals, Pacelle looked more like a teen-ager on his way to a skateboard park than an activist for a radical cause. However, he was quickly becoming one of the most visible and articulate members of the anti-hunting movement. Pacelle showed up on nightly newscasts and was a regular voice in newspapers and magazines. His purpose that day was not to disrupt the opening day bow-hunt — which he did — but to earn more media attention for his anti-hunting cause. He succeeded and eventually became the de facto leader of the animal rights movement, a general overseeing an army of dedicated troops. He now serves as the chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States, acting and appearing more like a corporate officer than a rogue activist. A SHIFT IN STRATEGY The days of vocal protests as a media stunt have vir68

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

tually ended. Although anti-hunters still harass hunters or stage demonstrations at public hunting areas, mostly in urban or suburban areas, they don’t garner much media attention, at least not on a national level. They don’t have to. “They pretty much accomplished what they wanted to do when they first started holding these staged demonstrations,” said Doug Jeanneret, vice president of marketing for the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance. “They let their presence and their mission be known through media exposure. Now, they push their agenda through other means.” Instead of fighting their battles in the courts of public opinion, anti-hunters are now fighting in real courtrooms, challenging localities on the legalities of a planned hunt, and state and federal governments. Almost all of the largest anti-hunting organizations have a staff of lawyers at the ready. They have filed lawsuits to stop everything from urban deer hunts at the local level to ending all hunting on the federal National Wildlife Refuge system. In many instances, they lose, despite outspending pro-hunting groups such as the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance. However, they often win, even if they never set foot in a courtroom. Jeanneret said localities that once held or considered holding public hunts to control burgeoning deer

numbers have resorted to hired guns to kill deer instead. “They just don’t want to deal with the hassles of protestors or the threat of a lawsuit from animal-rights groups, so they just bring in sharpshooters who come in at night and shoot them in spotlights,” he said. One of the most effective measures animal rights groups have used to stop some hunting activities has been through ballot initiatives. Instead of leaving wildlife management to professional biologists, they attempt to give the public the right to determine wildlife policy. In many states, almost any issue can be put up for a public vote, provided supporters of the measure gather a certain amount of signatures. Volunteers canvass neighborhoods, college campuses or anywhere they think support might be highest. For anti-hunters, the ripe areas are big cities and other places where hunting is not part of the culture, and is a misunderstood and often-maligned pastime. Urban residents simply don’t know much about wildlife and sound management principles. “A lot of people think bears are endangered,” Jeanneret said. “They don’t see bears all over the place like they see deer, so they assume that bears are on the way to extinction.” Although the overwhelming majority of the country supports hunting, anti-hunters twist facts to garner support. Mostly, however, they appeal to emotion. That’s why mountain lion hunting was outlawed in California in 1990 with the passage of Proposition 117. Two years later, v o t e r s passed a proposal banning spring bear hunting in Colorado, and Oregon voters outlawed bear hunting with bait and hounds and chasing cougars with hounds. In Fall 2006, Michigan hunters were denied the opportunity to hunt doves by a large margin. Equally effective, anti-hunters have recently tried several times to force state and federal wildlife agencies to undertake lengthy and costly environmental impact studies that examine the effects of basic management decisions. For example, when Michigan resource managers proposed a timber-management program on state-owned forests, the Sierra Club filed a suit that would have forced the Department of Natural Resources to implement an EIS. The USSA helped win that fight. ARE DEER HUNTERS SAFE? Jeanneret says anti-hunters know which groups of hunters are most vulnerable, which is one reason deer www.whitetailinstitute.com


hunting, on a wide-scale basis, is at less risk than, say, black bear hunting. Don’t be fooled, however. As he pointed out, deer hunts have been cancelled or handed over to paid guns as a direct result of animal-rights activists. Any lost opportunity doesn’t bode well for deer hunters. “Their efforts are really aimed at gradually eroding our ability to hunt,” Jeanneret said. “Deer are on the hit list; they’re just further down the page. We see legislation to increase no-hunting buffer zones around dwellings, restrictions on the use of firearms in urban and suburban areas, restrictions on the age at which hunters can start as efforts to ban all deer hunting. They aren’t so intensively working on these issues, but you can be sure they are part of those efforts. They work to take away our freedoms a little at a time, and that loss of freedom simply makes it more difficult for hunters. They want us to just give up by imposing as many barriers as they can.” Although most efforts have failed so far, those organizations are paying for studies to develop a birthcontrol vaccine that would control deer numbers through nonlethal means. Such efforts have proven expensive, tedious and ineffective, but studies are still underway in public parks in Ohio and New Jersey. Is it a threat to hunting as we know it? Perhaps not — at least not yet — but anti-hunters are a dedicated lot.

HSUS’s membership and money, and spends little of its efforts on specific issues related to hunting. Make no mistake, however, PETA is a powerful organization that will do anything to end hunting as we know it. However, it focuses most of its efforts on issues related to pets, farming and medical research. HSUS is the biggest and most direct threat to hunting. “Fund for Animals merged with HSUS, and HSUS also took in the Doris Day Animal League to become an even larger and more powerful organization,” Jeanneret said. Jeanneret said when animal-rights groups moved from the fringe to mainstream acceptance about 20 years ago, their combined revenue was somewhere around $300 million. That’s changed. They became active and successful fund-raising machines. PETA took in more than $27 million in 2005. The Humane Society’s revenue that year was almost $125 million. “The top 10 animal-rights groups took in about $300 million last year,” Jeanneret said. “That number could actually be quite a bit higher. They are using that money to fund ballot initiatives and lawsuits, and they also are giving more in campaign contributions to elect public officials sympathetic to animal rights.” UNITED WE STAND

■ NRA: Since 1871 >>>> The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) represents and promotes the best interests of gun owners and shooter-sportsmen and supports their belief in the ideals of the United States of America and its way of life. It is dedicated to firearms safety education as a public service, marksmanship training as a contribution to individual preparedness for personal and national defense, and the sports of shooting and hunting as wholesome forms of recreation. Join the NRA, visit www.nra.com or call (800) 672-3888 for information.

when they go after the less popular groups of hunters, like bear hunters or mountain lion hunters, because they know they are the most vulnerable and often have the least amount of support from the hunting community as a whole,” he said. “They aren’t attacking bear hunters because they only hate bear hunters. If we want to protect the future of hunting that has to change. Hunters need to step up and speak out for one another, even if the antis are attacking something you don’t do.” In other words, don’t wait until your freedom to hunt whitetails is directly at risk. Believe it or not, all forms of hunting are under attack, even if the anti-hunting crowd hasn’t set their sights on you yet. You should seriously consider supporting both the NRA and USSA. W

Of the many battles hunters lost to anti-hunting groups, Jeanneret said almost all could have been won. He is sometimes dismayed by the lack of unity among hunters, especially when an issue doesn’t directly What was once considered a fringe element of the affect certain core groups. lunatic left has become a major player in politics and “Bear hunters have really been fighting some big science. According to Jeanneret, HSUS surpassed battles, and in a few cases, losing those battles,” he Exxon/Mobil in campaign contributions during the said. “I have no doubt 2006 elections. that if deer hunters and “They have lots and lots of friends in very powerful bird hunters joined to places,” he said. “They give money to many United help defend bear huntStates senators, they have many state and local politiing, there might have cians sympathetic to their causes and as we all know, been no defeats.” there are lots of anti-hunters in Hollywood and the However, Jeanneret is media.” convinced that many The anti-hunting movement is spearheaded primarihunters don’t see the link ly by Humane Society of the United States, which is the largest and most effective anti-hunting organization in between deer hunting the world. It claims more than 10 million members. The and dove or bear hunting or trapping. National Rifle Association has about 4 million members. People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals, per“These anti-hunting Illinois is known for it’s haps known more widely than HSUS, has a fraction of organizations succeed monster whitetail deer, and our guided hunts take full advantage of this fact by hunting managed private lands. We grow mature trophy bucks using Imperial Whitetail Products. The sole purpose of the United States Sportsmen’s Alliance is to defend America’s hunters and trappers from the continued assault on our outdoors Call today to book a hunt heritage. in a true bowhunters Founded in 1978 as a state organization to fight a proposed statewide ban paradise. on trapping in Ohio, the USSA, previously known as the Wildlife Legislative Fund of America, soon became a national organization. The U.S. Sportsmen’s Exciting spring turkey Alliance and U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation have been working ever hunts are also Bob Walker / Wal since to defend hunting, fishing, trapping and scientific wildlife management ker’s Game Ear available. against lawsuits, legislation and ballot issues initiated by anti-hunters. The USSA counts among its victories efforts to protect moose hunting in Maine, dove hunting in Ohio and many other local and national issues. It also Rocky Branch Outfitters helped shape legislation in all 50 states to protect hunters and anglers from 7390 Hwy 145 South / Harrisburg, IL 62946 harassment afield. The group needs your help to continue fighting anti-hunting efforts. For (To Book) 618.252.8003 Fax 618.253.4868 information, visit www.ussportsmen.org, or call (614) 888-4868. KNOW THINE ENEMY

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Vol. 19, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

71


The Future Of Our Sport Stacey Glass — Alabama I have been taking my son, Justin hunting with me since he was 3 years old. Although he only went a couple of times that first year, his hunting frequency has steadily increased since then. His desire to go hunting with me has also increased; so has his longing to kill his first deer. Last year, Sunday, Jan. 6 was not your typical cold, wet January day. The sun was shinning and the temperature rose to the 70s. I asked Justin if he wanted to go hunting that afternoon and he said “definitely.” And, in order to get my kitchen pass for the day all I had to say was “but honey, Justin really wants to go hunting this afternoon.” I decided to hunt one of the most productive stands during the year. We settled in and waited. At approximately 5 p.m. I saw movement through a thin section of hardwoods and I could tell it was a deer. I tapped Justin on the leg and told him to get ready; that there was a deer in the opposite field. I slowly raised Justin’s gun up to the window of the shooting house, he stood up and leaned over to get in position and now it was all up to him. His face was inches from mine and I could hear his rapid and unsteady breathing in my ear. Or, maybe it was my own rapid and unsteady breathing that I heard. He searched through the scope to find the deer as it moved through the hardwoods and out into the field. As the deer moved closer I could tell it was a small buck. I whispered to him “make sure you put the crosshairs on his front shoulder.” I whispered again “make sure… BANG!” The deer stood still and looked around. He missed it. The first thought that raced through my mind was “why didn’t I buy him an automatic instead of the single shot .243?” So, I carefully moved the gun out of the window, Justin sat in my lap and I pulled out a new bullet as the deer slowly walked out into the green field. I removed the spent cartridge from the rifle and clinched it in my teeth so that I wouldn’t drop it on the floor of the shooting house. My shaking hands finally maneuvered the new bullet into the barrel of the rifle and I placed the gun in another window of the shooting house. Justin and I were both shaking nervously with the excitement of having this deer walk out into the green field within about 30 yards of us. He slowly and gently took the gun in his grasp, leaned over, found the deer in his scope and prepared for another shot. This time the deer was broad-side; and easier shot than the first. I once again whispered

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 1

my experienced hunter fatherly advice. This shot had different results. The deer fell to the ground. Unfortunately, the deer managed to stand up and run off, but I heard the deer fall just on the edge of the hardwoods. Justin, the mighty hunter and Davy Crockett want-to-be, grabbed his pocket knife and said “Let’s go get him, dad. I’ll finish him off with my knife.” Well, I usually don’t have to look long and hard to find those “teachable moments” when raising children and this was no exception. We found the deer right where I heard him fall. He was an 8 point that weighed about 165 pounds. Justin was quick to point out that this deer was as big as any deer that I had killed. Thanks son, for pointing that out. I have hunted my entire life, but I have never lost that excitement of a successful hunt. I will also never forget the feeling of excitement, accomplishment and jubilation I felt when I killed my first deer. There is only one hunting experience that can surpass that feeling. For me, that hunting experience occurred Sunday afternoon, January 6th, with my son, Justin. And, I hope that it is an equally memorable experience that he remembers with his dad.

Bob Hartman — Pennsylvania Here’s a picture of my 12 year old son, Matt’s first deer. The conditions were clear and cold (23 degrees F). The frosty buck was returning from our food plots to bedding cover. Thanks Whitetail Institute.

An hour later, he finally got up. After a couple minutes he gave me a quartering away shot. He stopped, and I took the shot. I didn’t see where he went but I heard him “crash.” My dad came over and located the deer, drug him to me and went down to get the 4 wheeler. He said “this one is gonna be on our wall” Our friend Jeff came out since he heard us talking. He thought I shot the spikehorn that walked right under his stand, and towards me. “Nope” I shot the 8 pointer instead” For some reason he wants this stand back for himself. My (Dad’s) point of view again… Amber did everything right. She was patient, quiet, and accurate from lots of practice. The buck went down in less than 35 yards from the shotgun slug she delivered perfectly. He was following does who had spent the summer/fall on one of our Whitetail Institute food plots. He’s her first and will always be the greatest buck ever to me. Amber was excited while I was insane with adrenaline for days. Thanks Whitetail Institute for great products. You have a lifelong, repeat customer here.

Derek Israels — Michigan

Paul Moak — New York The season started out as an average year. Opening day… My daughter Amber watched a 4 pointer go thru without offering her a shot and then it proceeded past me at 20 yards. Day 2… Amber and I sat in the same stands 250 yards apart hoping to see that 4 point again. She was sitting in my buddy, Jeff’s stand while he sat in a new stand deeper in the woods. At 7:10 a.m. I saw a deer’s rear end in the tall grass headed toward Amber. An hour later I heard 1 shot. 10 minutes later Amber signaled me to come over Amber’s point of view… I saw a buck with 3 or 4 points on 1 side and knew he was a decent size deer. I didn’t have a shot so I watched, and waited. He bedded down right behind a pine tree. I watched and waited more.

Hi my name is Derek Israels. I am 12 years old from Michigan. This was my very first deer hunt with my dad and grandpa, and I shot this 7 point buck with my 20 gauge that was given to me for my twelfth birthday by my grandfather. My family has been planting Imperial products in our food plots for the past two years. It was Saturday Nov. 17 about 5:30 p.m. I was sitting with my dad in his blind and we heard this buck come in to feed. It walked right in the food plot about 30 yards away from us and had no idea we were there. My heart was beating very fast and loud! I had him in my sights and my dad said “take the shot.” I did and with one shot he went down. This was my very first hunting experience and I got to share it with my favorite guys, my dad and my grandpa. W www.whitetailinstitute.com


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Whitetail News Vol 19.1  

volume 19 issue 1

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