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The “Right Size” is a Very Personal Matter

Is It Big Enough? Page 5

The Best Way to Handle Both Situations

Plant To Feed Or Plant To Kill Volume 19 No. 2

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Vol. 19, No. 2 /

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 ®

Tough Times Call For Extra-Smart Management

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, Frank Deese 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, Dr. Carroll Johnson, III Product Consultants.............Jon Cooner, Brandon Self, John White Dealer/Distributor Sales ..........John Buhay, Greg Aston Accounting & Logistics ...................................Steffani Hood Office Manager...............................................Dawn McGough Internet Customer Service Manager.............Mary Jones Shipping Manager ................................................Marlin Swain Copy Editor ...............................................................Susan Scott Art Director .........................................................George Pudzis Advertising Director........Wade Atchley, Atchley Media

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

T

here’s a new vocabulary in the media these days. You’ve heard it: downsizing, cutting back, economizing, simplifying, getting back to basics, etc. Like some of you out there I grew up with adults greatly affected by tough economic times — the Great Depression. As a matter of fact I was born smack-dab in the middle of that era. As a family we kept our sense of humor and appreciated what we had and used our resources wisely. And that is what hunters and land managers must do — and are doing — today. As far as hunting and deer management is concerned, I believe getting back to basics presents a unique challenge with great rewards. A challenge our Whitetail Institute field testers can turn to their advantage this upcoming hunting season, because there will be more of an incentive to do things right, which always saves money, as well as time. Feedback from our field testers, tells us they are taking the economy in stride as far as their hunting/management plans. They know one thing for sure: starting with quality

products is the first step in making the most of their deer management dollars. They don’t depend on expensive gimmicks and fancy packaging or the latest fads. That’s why they choose Imperial products. They also know there are specific steps they can take to maximize the quality and longevity of their food plots and nutrition programs. Dr. Wayne Hanna reminds us — one more time — that soil testing is not only an essential way to ensure success with your food plots but can save you big bucks in the long run. And when you’re in a position to plant a food plot, don’t skimp on fertilizer, lime or seed. That too will ultimately save money. And finally, don’t forget that setting up a good perennial maintenance schedule can make your plantings last longer. Jon Cooner addressed that in your last issue of Whitetail News (see www.whitetailinstitute.com). It’s all common sense, but today it’s economic sense as well.. W

Ray Scott

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YOUR CHOICE:

PLANT TO FEED OR PLANT TO KILL By Charles J. Alsheimer Photos by the author

T

he Bible says in Galatians 6:7, “Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” I often find myself thinking of this verse when analyzing all that goes into the process of feeding, holding, raising and managing whitetails.

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Vol. 19, No. 2 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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When I started raising whitetail deer nearly two decades ago, I was struck by how much food each deer consumed. I knew they were hearty eaters, but I never realized that when deer were on their feet, they were looking for something to eat. Though each deer’s appetite is slightly different, they each consume 1 or more tons of food per year. Because of this, it's imperative that lots of natural and grown food is available if you want to hold deer on your property. PLANT TO FEED To feed deer properly, think in terms of the tonnage required, the soil’s ability to grow the plants, what seeds will grow best on your land, and how a food plot is angled to the sun so the seeds can grow to their full potential. Tonnage: You must carefully analyze a property’s deer population and habitat type to know how much food must be produced. In most cases, you’ll be able to figure out if you have too many deer by examining the natural habitat. If there is little natural growth from the ground to 5 feet off the ground, you need to kill more deer or provide more grown food — probably both — because natural habitat will not sustain the deer on the property. Even the best natural habitat will have a difficult time producing more than a ton of food per acre on a yearly basis. In truth, in many portions of the country, the natural habitat produces less than 500 pounds per acre annually. So, food plots are the only way to get the tonnage of food needed to feed a wild deer population. To hold deer on a property, adequate food must be available throughout the year, not just during hunting sea-

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son. In my region of the Northeast, that means that from mid-May through February, I must have grown food available if I have any hope of holding deer on our farm. To accomplish this requires a well thought-out plan. When it comes to feeding deer, the plot size matters a lot. Therefore, I lay out our feeding and hunting plots differently. Our feeding plots are large and not necessarily laid out with hunting in mind. Hunting plots, which I’ll discuss later, are smaller. Soil: No properties have the same soil quality. In poor soils (where soil pH struggles to get higher than 6.0) it will be difficult to grow more than 3 to 4 tons of forage per acre. If a food plot’s soil is 6.5 or better, you might be able to grow forages that provide in excess of 8 tons per acre. If your soil is not at least 6.0, work diligently through liming practices to get a pH of 6.5. Doing so will let plants grow to their potential. Knowing a property’s deer population and soil type will go a long way toward determining how much food is needed. Seed selection: With all the media hype, it can be difficult to know which forage provides the biggest bang for your buck while giving the deer the nutrition they require. As I wrote in Whitetail News Vol. 18, No. 3 (What Whitetails Love to Eat), the whitetails I’ve raised at my research facility have taught me a lot about what they prefer for forage offerings. Simply, 14 years of analysis have shown me that few forage offerings can rival Imperial Whitetail Clover. When it comes to whitetail food offerings, variety is the spice of life. Forage variety also offers the various nutrients deer require. Therefore, I plant Extreme and Chicory PLUS blends to make sure that all of our white-

tail’s nutritional requirements are met. In addition to the nutrients they offer, Extreme and Chicory PLUS are drought resistant, which provides a bit of insurance should July or August be unseasonably dry. I rely on Winter-Greens (brassicas), Pure Attraction (winter-hardy oats and brassicas), and Double Cross (Imperial clover and Winter-Greens) to provide the tonnage needed to feed and hold deer on our farm from October to February. For some of our smaller hunting plots, I’ve had great success with Secret Spot, which contains cereal grains, brassica and clover. And don’t skimp on fertilizer. To bump up the tonnage and create healthier plants, I fertilize our Imperial Clover, Chicory Plus and Extreme plots in May and late August at a rate of 300 pounds per acre. Size, light and location: To grow the tonnage of food your deer need will probably require more food plot acreage than you think. In most cases, at least 5 percent of a property should be planted in food plots. Prime feeding food plots need to receive at least five hours of sunlight each day. Their orientation to the sun is also critical. If a food plot is angled toward the sun, the ground temperature during the summer months has a tendency to overheat the ground, which bakes the plants and retards their growth. So, think of this when selecting a site for a feeding food plot. Also, place the feeding food plot as close to the prime bedding area as possible so deer don’t have to travel far to get to the plot. Strive to keep any food plot away from roadways and neighboring properties. Keeping prime food plots out of sight will ensure your property’s deer will not be viewed by every Tom, Dick and Harry. The last thing you want to do is raise deer and then have others kill them — namely poachers and

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The protein provided by Whitetail Institute food plots can help produce large antlers.

surrounding landowners who might not share your management goals. PLANT TO KILL Initially, most food plot practitioners put little thought into whether their food plots can be effectively hunted. They just assume the food plot they’ve created will be an automatic honey hole come hunting season. In many cases, big squares will not provide the best hunting results. This is especially the case during archery season. To ensure great hunting opportunities, you must address four factors: forage offerings, being able to beat the wind, getting the deer close and stealth tactics. Time the offerings: The forage that works during summer might not be the right choice when October, November and December roll around. I continually share with my seminar audiences that a whitetail’s seasonal food preferences need to be addressed for hunting success. In my part of the country, Imperial Whitetail Clover is king spring, summer, and fall. To keep our deer from gravitating to surrounding properties, in late winter I select forages that will keep them around during hunting season. Pure Attraction and Winter-Greens are just the ticket to accomplish this. These blends are just coming into their own when colder temperatures and snow arrive. Air currents: In spite of what the scent-eliminating folks say, you can’t push the envelope when it comes to beating a whitetail’s nose — at least not 100 percent of the time. Never assume that air around a food plot will flow the same in summer as it does in October, November or December, because it doesn’t. Whenever

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DDB-10.......................$1649 you are on stand, take time to throw out floaters to see how they drift. You just may be surprised by what you see. And be sure to jot your findings down so that you’ll have a base point to go by in the future. The bottom line is that if you want to consistently kill bucks around food plots, you must know the ebb and flow of wind currents around each food plot you intend to hunt. Funnel ’em in: When it comes to hunting a food plot, think smaller, irregular and secluded. For the most part, the bigger feeding food plots will be used by deer at night. Few of these will be great hunting plots — at least not during archery season, because you never know where deer will enter the plot. To get deer to use food plots during daylight, they must feel secure. Lush food plots smaller than a half-acre, irregular in shape and surrounded by thick cover will be excellent deer magnets during hunting hours. It has been my experience that hourglass- and L-shaped hunting plots (laid out with air currents in mind) provide the best hunting opportunities. An hourglass plot causes deer to move through the tight neck of the hour glass, offering a great bow-stand set up. L-shaped plots are also great hunting setups because deer will move throughout the plot when they feed. Stealth entry/exit: After the proper stand location is determined, you must enact a strategy that allows for silent entry and exit. I make sure that my entry and exit can be done so that no deer know I’m around. A big part of this is accomplished by raking a narrow trail the last 100 yards to the stand. With the trail free of debris, I’m able to sneak to my stand without making a sound. Through the years, I’ve found that the best time to hunt near a food plot is the last three hours of the day. If the location isn’t exit friendly (because deer are always in the plot when nightfall comes), have someone pick you up with an ATV or vehicle. By letting the machine move the deer off the plot rather than you climbing from the tree, you will be less likely to make deer nocturnal. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

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Doe Harvest Is Ever-Evolving Dilemma By Scott Bestul Photos by Brad Herndon

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Hunters and biologists are learning that it is possible to shoot too many does in some areas.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

t was a shot I’d have never passed a half-dozen years ago. The doe walked the trail like she’d been programmed; browsing contentedly, pausing in just the right places so I could adjust my stance and draw my bow. At 10 steps, she came to a stop and looked away, exposing her ribcage like a target. But I never put my hand on my bow, and when the old gal walked off, I smiled. The doe had received a free pass and never knew it. Hours of stand time — and a host of other factors — had me convinced deer numbers were down in my area, and I needed all the healthy, experienced breeding females in the area I could get. When it came time to shoot a slickhead to stock my freezer, I’d focus my attention on other farms to accomplish that goal. www.whitetailinstitute.com


EVOLVING ANTLERLESS DEER MANAGEMENT If you ever doubt that sound whitetail management is an inexact and ever-changing science, look no farther than the issue of proper doe harvest. When I started deer hunting more than 30 years ago, does were considered sacred, and shooting them was accepted grudgingly, if at all. Barely a decade later, state agencies practically begged hunters to kill more does in an effort to curb swelling whitetail herds. It took a massive education effort to convince hunters that antlerless harvests were critical and, in some cases, mandatory to keep deer in harmony with the landscape. That campaign worked so well that I know hunters who tagged nothing but does for several seasons and were content. They view themselves as deer managers as much as hunters — an attitude that would have arched the eyebrows of many of my old mentors. But now, after nearly two decades of listening to the steady drumbeat of the “kill more does” movement, the antlerless kill pendulum has swung back toward the center. Indeed, hunters and biologists are learning that it is possible to shoot too many does in some areas. Habitat conditions, predator loads and hunting practices — as well as many other factors — can knock back deer herds to the point that reducing or eliminating antlerless harvest might be necessary. So how do we know how many does we should shoot? There are no easy answers. In fact, when I mentioned I was writing this story to several top whitetail researchers, their general response was, “Good luck with that one!” Many even chuckled. However, they proposed some guidelines to consider when

FIE

hunters/managers are deciding on an appropriate doe harvest. Here they are, in no particular order.

between plants within a cage and those growing outside can indicate an overabundance of deer.

FOOD/HABITAT CONDITIONS

RECORD KEEPING

Whitetails are one of the few creatures capable of negatively affecting native vegetation for themselves and other species. Overly dense deer herds will eat themselves out of all native food sources, as well as farm crops, food plots and other plants not intended for their enjoyment. Just ask any suburbanite trying to maintain a garden. One of the most telling indicators that a deer herd needs trimming is the presence of a browse line: an absence of brush, browse and tree limbs below 6 to 7 feet. If you notice such a distinct line on the edge of a timber stand, a more aggressive antlerless harvest is in order. In most cases, by the time a browse line is evident, deer will have already affected other native plant species and the regeneration of tree seedlings. Significant damage to agricultural crops and food plots is another sign that deer numbers are too high and does should be shot aggressively. Many of the corn/soybean fields on the farms I hunt receive some damage from deer activity, but I try to pay attention to relative trends across several seasons in an attempt to assess deer numbers. For example, if whitetails typically trim the tops off soybean plants within 10 steps of the field edge in most years, but that line extends twice as far one summer, I get concerned. Food plots can provide other tell-tale signs. Exclusion cages that prevent deer from eating plants within their confines allow a comparison of how heavily deer are using the food source outside the cage. Again, dramatic differences

One of the most solid yet most-ignored means to monitoring trends in herd size and health is record keeping. This can be as simple as a recording the sex, weight and age (jaw-bone verified or an estimate) of every deer harvested on a property. Viewed through time, this data allows a year-to-year comparison of herd health and composition. For example, if the average weight of harvested does decreases 20 percent for a couple of consecutive seasons, it might indicate that deer numbers are too high and available food is affecting body weights. Record keeping can also reveal other herd-health indicators, such as fawn recruitment and buck-to-doe ratios. Whether you use personal (field) observations or trail cameras, simply recording the number, sex, estimated age and location of every deer you see (or “shoot” with cameras) is a huge step in learning the size and composition of your deer herd. Remember, this is not a census. You’ll never count every deer on your property. But it's an important estimate of numbers, ages and sex that can be used as a snapshot of your deer herd from year to year. Again, trends will emerge that will help you adjust harvest goals for the season. LOCAL HARVEST/MORTALITY TRENDS Most of us know how many deer we shoot on our properties, so tracking that data should be easy. But

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unless you own a huge tract, paying attention to deer harvests on adjacent properties — I refer to it as “my neighborhood,” with apologies to Mr. Rogers — is certainly worthwhile. For example, my next-door neighbor Dave is a dairy farmer and whitetail nut. Neither of us killed an antlerless deer this season, and that was on purpose. We are almost surrounded by public land, and liberal antlerless tags have been available to area hunters for the past several years. Through a combination of habitat/food analysis and personal observation, Dave and I recognized that overall deer populations were down in the neighborhood, and we backed off our pursuit of antlerless deer to make up for the aggressive harvest by others. As another example, one of my friends hunted a farm that had excellent habitat and food. Because he was the only hunter on 200 acres, Jesse worried about killing enough whitetails, but every fall, the one or two does he shot seemed adequate. Jesse was a little puzzled, until he finally discovered that the neighboring farmer had been granted a depredation permit and was shooting dozens of deer every year. Again, an aggressive harvest on neighboring property was making up for Jesse’s limited one-man show. Obviously, the opposite scenario can also exist. Some hunting groups simply refuse to shoot antlerless deer, causing their neighbors to bear the burden of herd control. This can be an extremely difficult situa왗 Through a combination of habitat/food analysis and personal observation, the author recognized that overall deer populations were down in the neighborhood and backed off the pursuit of antlerless deer to make up for the aggressive harvest by others.

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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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

Research = Results

“Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

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Many factors prove that deer management in general — and doe management in particular — is an ever-evolving, dynamic process. There is no cookie-cutter approach. tion to endure, as hunters on surrounding properties must pay the freight for these sanctuaries. Other than visiting the neighbors and attempting to educate them in a calm, friendly manner, I’m not sure there’s a perfect solution for situations like this. PREDATION Not long ago, the prevailing wisdom was that predators were almost a non-issue for whitetail deer. With wolves and mountain lions basically removed from most of the East, black bears, bobcats and coyotes were the only major carnivores capable of killing deer, and most folks (even biologists) believed their effect was minimal. That attitude has changed in recent years. In fact, two recent studies have proven that coyote predation on fawns can be substantial. Of 60 fawns monitored by South Carolina researchers during a two-year period, 44 died before recruitment (surviving to their first fall) into the local population. Forty-four (80 percent) of those fawns were killed by coyotes, a fact proven by DNA sampling at the kill site. Another study in Georgia compared fawn/doe ratios at two study sites; one where predators (coyotes and bobcats) were trapped aggressively and another control site where no trapping occurred. The doe/fawn ratio on the trapped site was .72/1, but the ratio on the

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untrapped area was .07/1 — nearly 10 times lower. Clearly, coyotes — a common predator throughout whitetail range — can have a significant impact on deer numbers. Black bears (another widespread species) are well-known fawn predators, and areas experiencing a rebound in timber wolf populations (primarily the Great Lakes region) can experience even more predation. What can be done in regions with high predator loads? First, monitor sightings, sign and (with coyotes) audible clues that predator numbers might be increasing, as doe harvest goals might have to be adjusted accordingly. Second, keep whitetail sex ratios as balanced as possible, as that creates a short, intense rut that results in most fawns being dropped at the same time. This flooding effect ensures that predators simply can’t get to all the fawns before the fawns are mobile enough to escape (usually about eight weeks). And finally, don’t be reluctant to take up coyote hunting and trapping in the off-season. CONCLUSIONS There are other X-factors to consider when determining proper doe harvest. Weather is a perfect example. Al Gore’s claims to the contrary, global warming was not alive and well across much of the North this past winter. Harsh winters can take a toll on deer by

killing animals outright as well as stressing them enough to affect long-term reproduction and health. Severe drought can have a similar effect in warmer climes. And of course, disease outbreaks — particularly EHD — can dramatically knock a herd back in short order. All must be considered when deciding on an adequate doe harvest. Obviously, these many factors prove that deer management in general — and doe management in particular — is an ever-evolving, dynamic process. There is no cookie-cutter approach. Indeed, what worked well this past fall might be a disaster two years from now, which should encourage hunter/managers to keep their fingers on the pulse of local herd dynamics and the unique elements that affect them. Doing so can be time- and labor-intensive, but it's absolutely necessary. Fortunately, today’s hunters can get help. Many states offer deer management assistance program consultation, in which a biologist will visit your property to assess habitat health and herd conditions, and then recommend an appropriate harvest strategy for the coming season. For those lucky enough to live in such areas, I believe it's silly to not take advantage of such expertise. In states lacking such a program, paying constant attention to the aforementioned factors is critical. Recently, a veteran state deer biologist told me that people came to him with three main complaints: not enough deer, too many deer and not the right kind of deer. Though his comment was squarely tongue-incheek, it was also based in fact. An adequate doe harvest helps us eliminate the first two complaints and lets us focus more on the third. W

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

Part Six: Cultipackers 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.

I

n the last few Turning Dirt articles we have discussed how to select and properly use seedbed finishing equipment. In this article, I’ll complete that discussion by revisiting in greater detail an optimum implement for preparing seedbeds for small seeds: cultipackers.

Riding Wheels

Packing Plates

Bearing Frame

CULTIPACKERS: DEFINITION AND OPTIMUM SIZE What is a cultipacker? A cultipacker is an implement used to smooth, firm and eliminate cracks from a seedbed that has been disked or tilled. Its main components is a packing-cylinder assembly, which consists of a row of wheel-shaped “packer plates” mounted side-by-side on an axle. The outer edge of each packing plate is peaked, giving the

All cultipackers have packing wheels mounted side-byside on an axle. The axle is mounted to a frame by bearings. Many lighter models also have riding wheels so that the cultipacker can be flipped over and towed by tractor or ATV.

packing cylinder a wavy, or “corrugated” packing surface when the plates are mounted side-by-side

on the axle. The peak of each packing plate is either smooth or notched. The packing cylinder is mounted to a frame by bearings, which allow the cultipacker to roll as it is pulled across the ground. Cultipackers come in a wide variety of lengths, weights, sizes and configurations. The smallest cultipackers have only one packing cylinder, while the largest may have multiple cylinders. Also, some are stand-alone implements, and others are included as cultipacking components of a variety of multi-task implements. (One of the most familiar multi-task implements to most hunters are food-plot planters that have a seeder, disks and harrows with a cultipacker mounted in the back.) Food-Plot Cultipackers — Optimum Features. In this article, we’ll keep it simple and just talk about stand-alone cultipackers. The most versatile and efficient stand-alone cultipackers for most food plotters will have the following characteristics: (A) A total length of 3 feet to 12 feet (B) A single packing cylinder

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(C) Packing plates with a diameter of about 8 inches to one foot For simplicity, I’ll refer to these as “FPCs” (food-plot cultipackers). For comparison, I’ll refer to cultipackers longer than 12 feet, with larger diameter packing plates or both as “LHCs” (large, heavy cultipackers). WHAT DOES A CULTIPACKER DO? A cultipacker does quite a few things as it is pulled over soil. The most obvious are that it smoothes and firms soil that has been recently disked or tilled. Others, though, are not as obvious. One less obvious thing a cultipacker does is compact the soil to remove air, which can help reduce evaporation of soil moisture. Another is that the corrugated surface of a cultipacker’s packing cylinder leaves shallow valleys as it moves across the soil. These functions are what make a cultipacker such a great tool for preparing seedbeds for small seeds. As we look at why, keep in mind that the goal is to make the seedbed optimum for small seeds, and that “optimum” means “just right — no more, and no less.” “Optimum” Seedbed Firmness. Optimum seedbed firmness means that the seedbed should be firm enough, but not too firm. It should be firm enough for small seeds planted on or near the surface of the soil to stay where you put them and not be driven too deep or washed away by rain. It should not be so firm, though, that the seedlings won’t be able to easily penetrate the soil with their tiny roots once the seeds germinate. If the seedling’s roots can’t penetrate the soil, the roots may grow sideways instead of straight down, potentially reducing seedling survivability and drought tolerance. “Optimum” Moisture Retention. The seedbed should be firmed enough to remove air from the soil, reducing the rate at which soil moisture evaporates. However, the seedbed should not be so firm that its ability to absorb moisture is reduced. “Optimum” Moisture Availability to the Seedlings. The corrugated shape of a cultipacker’s packing cylinder leaves little valleys in the soil as the cultipacker moves across the seedbed. There is also an optimum depth for these valleys — they should be deep enough to help channel rainwater to the seeds and reduce evaporation by wind, but not so deep that water stands in them. As we’ll see, if a seedbed has been properly prepared by disking or tilling, an FPC will leave the soil in optimum condition in all these areas for small seeds. WHY FPCS ARE SO VERSATILE AND EFFICIENT FOR FOOD PLOTS

• High Protein levels (24%) • High Energy for fall and winter • Fortified with critical minerals and vitamins • Includes Devour for quicker attraction • Can be added to feed to dramatically increase feed consumption The Whitetail Institute ®

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

Research = Results

Versatility: Weight and Size. Lighter weight and smaller size make FPCs much easier to load, unload, store and transport. With regard to transport, some FPCs even come with riding wheels so that the cultipacker can be towed to the seedbed where it will be used. Efficiency: Weight and Packing Plate Diameter. FPCs are also more efficient at using implement weight to generate pressure against the soil. Here’s how Matt Kunz of Kunz Engineering explains that. “A common misconception is that how well a cultipacker can do its job depends entirely on how heavy it is. Actually, the important consideration is how much pressure the cultipacker is putting on the soil. That doesn’t just depend on the cultipacker’s weight. It also depends on how big an area of the soil’s surface the cultipacker’s packing plates are in contact with. The smaller the area of surface contact is, the more the cultipacker’s weight is focused onto it. Notched packing plates further concentrate the cultipacker’s weight at the notch points, much like the cleats of a mud tire do on rough ground.” Obviously that does not mean that a smaller diameter cultipacker is automatically going to firm and smooth the soil better than a heavier cultipacker with larger diameter plates; Matt is not saying that, and neither am I. Instead, we’re just pointing out the efficiency of smaller cultipackers. Everything else being equal, a cultipacker with smaller-diameter packing plates will require less weight than a cultipacker with larger-diameter packing plates to achieve a similar soil pressure. Also, realize that the larger a packing plate is, the more highly peaked it will be, and the deeper the valley it will leave in the soil. That’s why LHC’s with packing plates larger than one foot in diameter leave deeper valleys than FPCs, everything else being equal. Remember, our goal is to prepare an optimum seedbed (firm enough but

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Lighter cultipackers create valleys in the soil better if they are notched because they concentrate pressure on the tips much like a mud tire in rocky ground.

not too firm, etc.) for small seeds. An FPC is the most versatile and efficient tool to do that. CULTIPACKERS VERSUS OTHER IMPLEMENTS Weighted Drags: As I mentioned earlier (and at the risk of beating a dead horse), your goal is to prepare an optimum seedbed. If you don’t have access to a cultipacker, you can still do a perfectly adequate job of smoothing and firming your seedbed with a weighted drag, such as a piece of fence with blocks stacked on it to add weight. If you do use a drag instead of a cultipacker, though, you must understand that drags and cultipackers differ from one another in how much each

can firm the soil. A weighted drag can be used to firm the soil to a great degree, and certainly well enough to plant small seeds. However, a drag won’t firm the soil as much as a cultipacker. That’s because a drag floats on the soil’s surface, while a cultipacker presses down on the soil. This distinction is critical because which type implement you use to firm the seedbed before seeding dictates what, if anything, you should do after seeding. In fact, it’s so important that it’s one of the sections in the Institute’s small-seed planting instructions that is in bold print. It’s expressed different ways for different small-seed products, but they all make the same point: Use a drag or a cultipacker to firm and smooth the soil before seeding. If you used a cultipacker before seeding, then cultipack again after seeding. However, if you used a drag before seeding, do nothing further after you put the seed out. Do not cover small seeds more than 1/4-inch. Never disk or till the seed into the seedbed. Notice that if you use a drag before seeding, you should do nothing further after putting the seed out; the seed will naturally settle into good contact with the soil. Never drag over small seeds or disk or till them into the soil; doing so substantially increases the risk that they will be buried too deep to survive. Also notice that if you use a cultipacker, you should use it both before and after seeding. In Turning Dirt: Part 3, we discussed how to test to see if your seedbed is at optimum firmness — the “Boot Track� test: The seedbed will be at optimum firm-

ness if your boot tracks sink down about ½ to one inch in the soil. If your seedbed is softer than that, then cultipack the seedbed again until it is at optimum firmness before planting. If you don’t do that and then cultipack after seeding in soft soil, you increase the risk that the seed will be pushed too deep. Lawn Rollers: Lawn rollers can do an adequate job of smoothing and firming the soil. However, their packing cylinders are flat instead of corrugated as a cultipacker’s packing cylinder is so they won’t leave the beneficial valleys I mentioned earlier. Aerators: Aerators should never be used for smoothing and firming a seedbed for small seeds. Aerators will firm the surface somewhat, but they have spikes on their cylinders, which poke deep holes in the soil. That’s a problem for two reasons. First, small seeds should be planted on or very near the surface of the soil, and a small seed that falls into deep aeration hole likely won’t survive. Second, the holes allow air into the lower levels of the soil, which is the opposite of what you want to do when preparing a seedbed for small seeds. Instead, you want to get air out of the soil to reduce moisture evaporation. SOURCES FOR FOOD-PLOT CULTIPACKERS There are basically two sources from which you can get an FPC: You can buy one, or you can make one yourself.

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

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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. 2 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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The corrugated cylinder of a cultipacker leaves shallow valleys in the soil that can help reduce erosion and concentrate soil moisture near the seeds.

Thankfully, commercially available FPCs are not extremely expensive. They’re also commonly available from most farm supply stores, farm equipment vendors and even the Internet. If you elect instead to make your own, keep in mind that you want to use real cultipacker packing plates if possible. If you make a packing cylinder out of something that has a straight-line packing surface rather than the corrugated packing surface of a cultipacker, your homemade implement may firm and smooth the soil, but it won’t make the beneficial valleys I mentioned earlier. If you are handy with welding and other metal work, building a cultipacker from commercially available parts will be a fairly easy exercise, and plans are available on the Internet. CULTIPACKER CARE, MAINTENANCE AND FINAL THOUGHTS The main step you should take to care for a cultipacker is to never, ever pull it with the packer wheels down on a hard surface such as a paved or gravel road, or where the packing plates might run into a rock, stump or other hard obstacle. If you do, then the packing plates will eventually break. Most packing plates are made of cast iron, which can break under shock. Also, when the packing plates are assembled on the axle, some space is left between them to allow them to turn freely; and if you tow the cultipacker with the plates down on a hard surface, the plates will slam together. Just use common sense. Remember, this is an implement designed for smoothing and finishing a seedbed that has been disked or tilled, not pavement, gravel or stumps. As for maintenance, check to see whether your cultipacker’s bearings have grease fittings on them. If they do, then grease the bearing both before and after you use the cultipacker—and do it every time. And when you add grease, keep pumping until you see grease pushing out of the bearing. Any dirt or other contamination in the bearing will be pushed out with the grease. Aside from that, you should try to keep your cultipacker clean and stored out of the elements just as you would any piece of equipment. Finally, if you’ll be pulling your cultipacker with an ATV, don’t buy a cultipacker so large that your ATV will have to operate at or near the top of its capacity for extended periods. Doing so can permanently damage the ATV. If you haven’t bought an ATV yet but anticipate doing so, it can also be a good idea to buy one that’s 4x4 and water-cooled if you anticipate pulling a cultipacker or tillage equipment with it. W

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

Common Questions — Straightforward Answers Q: I am going to plant Chicory Plus this fall, and I would like to plant Pure Attraction with it. Can I do that? If so, how? A: Yes sir, you can. Better options, though, may be to either plant the Pure Attraction beside your Chicory Plus, or use No-Plow or Winter-Greens if you are going to top-dress. Otherwise, you’ll need to follow a very specific planting sequence. Consider Chicory Plus the primary forage planting and the Pure Attraction as secondary, and follow the fertilizer recommendations for Pure Attraction even though you'll also be planting Chicory Plus in the plot. The Pure Attraction instructions call for the use of a fertilizer blend that is higher in nitrogen than the one recommended for Chicory Plus. Nitrogen is directly related to forage growth. Chicory Plus contains clovers that, in essence, make their own nitrogen. However, the

plants in Pure Attraction are not "nitrogen fixers," so more nitrogen needs to be included in the fertilizer blend. The additional nitrogen won't hurt the Chicory Plus, and since nitrogen dissipates rather quickly once it is exposed to the environment, it will be long gone before it can stimulate weed and grass competition the following spring. Third, the planting instructions for each product are different, so you should follow a specific planting sequence when planting Pure Attraction with an Imperial perennial blend. Imperial perennials such as Chicory Plus are designed to be planted in contact with the surface of the ground — they should never be covered. Pure Attraction, however, should be placed about 1/4 inch below the surface in loose soil. That means that once your seedbed is prepared, you'll need to broadcast the Pure Attraction seed first and cover it lightly with a drag or harrow. Do not cultipack or roll

the seedbed after you plant your Pure Attraction. Just cover the Pure Attraction seed with about 1/4 inch of loose soil. Then, broadcast your Chicory Plus seed right on top of the ground. Let that be the last step in the planting process. Do not cultipack, drag or otherwise cover the Chicory Plus seed after you put it out. Finally, remember to top-dress the plot with additional high-nitrogen fertilizer once the seedlings reach 3-4 inches tall in accordance with the Pure Attraction instructions. Also, remember to start your Chicory Plus maintenance as soon as spring rolls around. Full planting and maintenance instructions for Pure Attraction and Chicory Plus are available at www.whitetailinstitute.com. And, as always, our highly trained in-house consultants are standing by to answer your questions anytime from 8:00-5:00 Central Time, Monday through Friday, at (800) 688-3030, ext. 2. W

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WHITETAIL NEWS

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J. Larry Lohr — Alabama

This is a picture of the 10 point I took from one of my food plots. He scored 141 4/8 with a 17 inch spread and is the heaviest bodied deer I have ever killed. The only scales I had access to at the time would only weigh up to 200 pounds. He bottomed those out so I don’t know his exact weight. He is the second 140 class deer I have taken on my property. The first was 4 years ago and was a 14 point non typical that score 142 4/8. I have used Whitetail Institute products exclusively the eight years I have owned this property.

Chuck Crain — Indiana When I first bought my property we just shot bucks and they were nothing but 1 ½ year olds tiny 6 pointers with 812-inch spreads. Several years ago my brother tried some Imperial Whitetail Clover and after I saw what was eating in his fields I had to have some too. The next year I ordered some. I limed and fertilized one field. It came up alright but I didn’t spray for grasses and weeds and it lasted only two years. I then replanted two fields and I took better care of it and it lasted four years. Besides seeing more and bigger deer we started seeing turkeys, up to 50 at a time. Now I’m also using 30-06 Mineral and this too really started working. And we’re really producing bigger bucks. Last season my brother and my family shot three bucks that scored 172, 144, and 125 pts. Thanks Whitetail Insttute for producing the products that help us see more and bigger deer.

in four trips. So I decided to put a food plot in. I had 3.5 acres of hardwoods excavated and had a nice clearing. I then planted 25 percent in Alfa-Rack and the rest in Extreme. The results were unbelievable. My wife and I went to the farm about six weeks after I planted and there were 12 deer standing in my plot in the evening. I was like a kid at Christmas. I started seeing a lot of deer but still wondered if I could bring in some nice quality deer. The deer I had seen that had been taken in the area were just 120 caliber! Enclosed is a picture of the deer I shot this year. Obviously what I did worked.... Anyone could do what I did. It’s not rocket science! Just a little time and effort. I have also seen hens with polts literally nesting in the thick clover. I shot a nice turkey last year and heard more birds gobbling there than I have ever heard on any farm. There were a lot of evenings that I had 12-16 deer in the field last year, I know this is bad but I actually only hunted there a couple of times in October because I knew there would be tons of deer in the field and I didn’t want to spook them before the rut.

Bobby Aulds — Louisiana I have been using Whitetail Institute products for the past three years in Northeast Louisiana on my private hunting property. We only shoot bucks that we consider trophies and we are going to mount. Last year I got photos of an 8 point coming to my 30-06 mineral licks during the summer and food plots planted with Winter-Greens in the fall and winter. That 8 point became a 170 inch 13 point in one year. I do believe it is a combination of genetics and Whitetail Institute products. This deer is only 3 1/2 years old. Thanks Whitetail Institute for making such nutritious and palatable products that deer love.

Leon Belden — Michigan

I am an avid/passionate bow hunter from Southwest Michigan. I am fortunate in that I have plenty of acres to hunt and manage, however I am convinced that you can kill the neighbors’ deer with some planning and plantings of quality food plots. I have had excellent success with Imperial Whitetail Clover food plots, even when I put them next to competing farm crops. I went from just filling my tags each year to filling the Commemorative Bucks of Michigan record book. Chicory PLUS is another of my favorites. I have some very effective food plots that are six and seven years old. I do work hard at maintaining them. Mowing, fertilizing, grass control, pH, etc. are key in prolonging the life of a food plot. The pay back for the hard work is huge. I often wonder what my food plots must look like from the air compared to the drab foliage around them. Southwest Michigan isn’t known for it’s big bucks. But, since 1990 my son and I have entered 17 whitetail bucks in the CBM record book and currently have two more to score after the 60 day drying period from this past season. Six of them qualify for Pope & Young including both of last season’s bucks.

Lance Finlinson — Indiana A couple of years ago I bought 45 acres in southern Indiana. It was all wooded at the time I bought it and there were deer and turkey there but it was really hit and miss. The first year after I bought it I saw one deer

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

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Johnny Gentry — North Carolina My wife and I purchased a 30 acre farm that has been in her family for years. One of the first things we did was to plant Imperial Whitetail Clover food plots. Taking good care of the food plots and letting the smaller bucks walk, has produced some nice bucks. I’m enclosing a photo. I also like to use the Chicory PLUS. Thanks goes out for the super products Whitetail Institute makes.

looking our food plot for a couple days. We were seeing several doe’s and fawns, and many nice young bucks grazing through out the food plot. Finally on day three out came a beautiful 8 point buck, one of many we had been watching through out the summer. I was in such shock I think my husband had to pinch me to get me ready to shoot. Of course, being my first Whitetail buck I was shaking from head to toe. With a few deep breaths, and a few calming words from my husband, I was ready to shoot my first buck. Much to my surprise I put a perfect shot on him and he fell where he stood. Overwhelmed with excitement, I could barely walk out of the blind to see my 160-pound 3 1/2 year old, 8-point buck. I never thought shooting my first whitetail buck could be one of the best experiences of my life. Thank you Whitetail Institute.

William Belan — Ohio

It is Nov. 29 and at 4:10 p.m. I am looking out the back window of the house at many deer feeding in a ½ acre food plot of Winter-Greens. The Winter-Greens food plot is kicking in nicely. We have had some freezing nights and that makes them good. This food plot of Winter-Greens has two bucks that would make book in it as I write this letter. One is a 11-pointer (double brow tine right side) and one is a 9-pointer. My tags are filled this year but the food plot will keep them in my area through the upcoming muzzleloader season and through out the winter, and I can hardly wait for next season. Another really neat thing about the Winter-Greens keeping the deer here throughout the winter is the shed hunting in the spring. I will pick up a dozen or more sheds this coming Spring as I do each Spring. Unless you are my next door neighbor, I wish you much deer hunting luck in the future and encourage you to try the above mentioned products and techniques. You will become a better, more successful deer hunter in your own back yard. Food plots and Whitetail Institute products have revolutionized my hunting life.

Gregory Keever — Missouri There are definitely more deer feeding in Imperial Whitetail Clover than regular clovers. Imperial Whitetail Clover also stayed green longer in the fall. 30-06 Mineral needs to be used over other products. I’ve tried many different ones. 30-06 is the best. These are the best products out there. If they weren’t I would not use or continue to recommend them to all my friends. See photo.

Elisha Clemons — New York My name is Elisha Clemons, I’m 25 years old and live in New York. I started hunting three years ago on my husband’s pride and joy 25 acre deer ground. We have been planting Whitetail Institute Winter-Greens, Imperial Whitetail Clover and also using 30-06 Plus Protein for the past six years. The results have amazed us. The food plot is like a magnet for the deer and other wildlife. We started noticing a huge difference in the size of the deer, they are bigger and healthier, and the mass of their antlers is amazing. This is my first whitetail buck, and shows the amazing results the Whitetail Institute products have given us. My husband and I had been sitting in our blind over

Thank you so much Whitetail Institute for Imperial Whitetail Clover. It looks great. The deer really like the Alfa-Rack too. Keep up the good work. My friend shot a 13 point buck. The buck made a mistake and the right guy was there, Ken Daniel Bishop.

Christopher Zurcher — Ohio

I have been using Imperial Whitetail Clover for years. And now I bought the farm next to me and made bigger food plots and a place for the deer to get some age. Things have gotten even better. This deer aged in at 4 ½ and scored 164-plus gross score. It’s the biggest buck in my 35 years of hunting. Bigger food plots. Bigger deer. (Continued on page 54) www.whitetailinstitute.com

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MENTORS & MEMORIES Young Hunters Prep For Their First Time Out By Tom Fegely Photos by the author

I

vividly recall my first morning in the whitetail woods; my dad a mere acorn's toss away beneath a towering oak where we had watched a small buck and three does picking nuts only a week before. It was an exciting time following a sleepless night in which I’d rehearsed exactly what I’d do when a hat-racked buck strolled along the trail 30 or 40 yards down the ridge and I’d shoulder my slug-loaded Remington double-barrel and take aim. But it didn’t happen. Save for several does that sprinted by in mid morning, and a small spike buck in the afternoon, action on that cloudy deer hunting inaugural was minimal. But the experience, in company of my dad and two uncles, remains a cherished memory. That was 1953 and thoughts of that first day in the woods with my mentors remain crystal clear. Unfortunately, only a minority of today’s young hunters are afforded the opportunities with which I was blessed as a “country kid.” Their pre-hunt exposure to hunting of any sort, whether for whitetails or cottontails, gray squirrels or gobblers, is typically minimal. For that reason and others, a goodly part of my hunting time today is spent in the company of kids — my own and others — and I’ve come to appreciate the importance of the task undertaken by mentors wishing to pass on this lifetime addiction to woodlands, whitetails, woodchucks, waterfowl and other game — but especially whitetails. FIRST TIME OUT If there will be a young hunter at your side this year and/or next, consider these suggestions which set the stage for an equally unforgettable “first time out.” Many states require the completion of a hunter education course by attending formal classes or via the Internet before a license can be purchased. Upon satisfactory completion of the course, mentors should follow up with a review of what was learned. Of priority is reinforcing gun handling safety with your rookie hunter. Stress the all-important rules of target identification no matter what sort of game you’re after. 22

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

The author and his grandson Mason, then 3, create special memories on a woodland visit.

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Time spent on a shooting range is a must and lessons cannot be overdone. Commercial facilities, gun clubs, state-operated ranges or friends offering farmlands or other safe havens can be found across the country. Visits to a range to sight-in scopes and open sights using paper targets should be the kick-off lesson. When possible, search out a place where only the two of you will be present. Your student will play closer attention without being distracted, at least during the first training session or two. Make the experience a one-on-one venture to minimize distractions sure to occur when two or more kids are hosted. Handling a rifle or shotgun can be intimidating to a kid with a natural fear of a resounding blast and the inherent “kick� when firing. Flinching is a common affliction that must be corrected. The shooter often doesn’t realize he or she is flinching and therefore aiming inaccurately. Sneak a spent shell into the chamber if you believe your student is jumping the gun and watch the reaction when the trigger is squeezed but only a “click� is heard. The lesson can be quite revealing. Of course, ear and eye protection and constant and immediate reminders about unsafe gun handling practices and the seriousness of what your student is doing must be underscored throughout the instruction. Depending on a kid’s physical and mental maturity — no matter what the age — use a gun he can easily handle for the first practice sessions on the range. I prefer starting small with an air gun shooting BBs or pellets at paper targets. When that’s satisfactorily completed, graduate to a scoped .22 rifle followed by the shotgun or rifle to be taken afield. Another valuable lesson is to take your new partner

to the hunting grounds where both of you will be spending opening day. Prior to deer season visit the specific tree, tree stand or blind where you’ll be posted opening morning. Remember that in many states it's mandated that a licensed adult be close to the young hunter at all times. In some states the mentor must be “within sight of� or “close enough that verbal guidance can be easily understood.� Point out trails, escape routes, rubs and scrapes and specify distances to various landmarks. Indicate “out of range� shots and unsafe targets (deer on a horizon, for

example). Use deer photographs from magazines to show where a bullet or arrow should penetrate for maximum effectiveness. An informal scouting trip or two will alleviate many first-time fears for the new hunter while bringing a dose of fun to the lesson. For small game, waterfowl and turkey hunting, similar pre-trip lessons are invaluable. As these “sports� require mentor and student to work side by side, a “mock hunt� serves as an excellent primer on what to expect under actual hunting conditions. Set up as if you had a gobbler responding. Walk a field and kick

Day-long hunting and shooting programs sponsored by state game agencies and sporting clubs encourage youngsters of varied ages to continue the learning experience with adult mentors.

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A father and son rehearse their turkey hunting setup to assure that mistakes in the field will be minimal.

brush piles for cottontails. Sit in a waterfowl blind and specify who gets shots at “left to right” or “right to left” flying geese or incoming mallards. Use a 4-foot stick as a fake “gun” while aiming on a squirrel shinnying up a tree. The scenarios will reinforce hunter education course lessons and provide a smooth transition to actions in the field. Finish the lesson with the scattergun you’ll use afield for turkeys. This is a good time to explain what happens to the pellets as they leave the muzzle and travel

to the target, no matter if shooting at a turkey target or a live turkey. A shot or two at 15 yards (showing the outline of a tom’s head and neck) and another couple at 30 yards should get the lesson across. The expanding oval pattern formed by the shot will be plainly seen. DEER PARTS: IDENTIFYING MISSING PIECES Thinking back across my four-plus decades of pursuing whitetails from Maine to Mexico, a goodly num-

ber of bucks and does upon which I’ve centered the crosshairs probably wouldn’t have been seen except for some revealing “deer parts.” While most experienced deer hunters are attuned to looking for tails, ears, legs, shiny noses, the glint of an eye and antler segments or the horizontal line of a back or belly, newcomers often fail to make the connection when only a fraction of an entire animal is seen. Delay things too long and that dark “stump” you’re watching may rise from its bed and run off. Novices in the deer woods (and we were all novices at one time) typically take wide angle views of the terrain, often failing to see the smaller parts that might betray the presence of deer. Walks in the deer woods or afternoons perched in tree stands during the offseason helped my sons and wife learn to pick out “bits and pieces” of deer from the tangles, timber, scrub, swamp, understory and tall-grass fields. Bright and shadowy habitats such as the sunny edges of fields contrasted with dark woodland backgrounds also require careful scrutiny. Movement is another giveaway. A closer look at a Vshaped form in the brush, for instance, may reveal a light-colored twig, not an antler tip as may have first been thought. Then again, it may be the other way around. Although a scoped shotgun or rifle scope may aid identification, a binocular with 8x-10x magnification is better and safer for studying stumps (bedded deer), twigs and small limbs (antlers), squirrel tails (twitching ears), sunlit leaves shivering in the wind (flicks of a deer’s tail), a horizontal line in an otherwise vertical woods (a deer’s back) or other objects which hint at the presence of a deer. Once you go afield in that frame of mind that any-

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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thing out of synch might be a whitetail you know you've come a long way in picking out the “deer parts” that put venison on the table and antlers on the wall. Yet another effective teaching tool calls for one or two life size deer targets as used by bowhunters. Hide a 3-D target in brush, high grasses, behind deadfalls, in thick understories and in other habitat where only a rump, head, legs, back, belly or some other body part is likely to be seen at, say, distances of 40 to 100 yards. Then have your student (who should not witness where the mentor is placing the targets, of course) walk slowly with you in the woods or high brush and grasses seeking the hidden targets. Supply the student with a binocular to verify that some mysterious form (the 3-D target) is real or an illusion. For the youngest tykes— say four to six years old—fashion a fake binocular made of two cardboard toilet paper tubes and duct tape. Gazing through the two openings at varied objects pointed out by the mentor focuses attention on them even though no optics are required. Most students will be considerably older, but there’s also a need to get even the youngest kids involved in the basic activities of hunting.

season training sessions. However, depending on state law, allowing the youngster to carry an unloaded rifle or shotgun prior to the season can be educational. Of course, each mentor has his or her own devices for training first-timers. I know one Pennsylvania mentor who insists that an actual squirrel hunt — where many of the same techniques used in deer hunting occur — be part of his early array of lessons. Another

may be as simple as exposing a kid to the outdoors by taking him on a stroll in a woodlot looking for signs of wildlife. It opens the door to an impressionable young hunter’s eyes and mind. These are the kids representing the future of hunting. It’s never too early to hook them up with a mentor who wants to give something back — while at the same time making things fun, meaningful and exciting. W

Everything from ear and eye protection to safe gun handling should be introduced on the shooting range.

EACH ONE, TEACH ONE Many clubs and game agencies across the country hold educational field days which are invaluable in providing hands-on learning about guns, game and the spirit of the hunt. It’s up to those of us who choose to be mentors to follow up on the field day theme with an “each one, teach one” drive to give something back. Except for visits to shooting ranges, the lesson plan does not require going afield with a gun on those pre-

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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Save Money By Eliminating Wasted Expenses By Jon Cooner

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

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Bill Marchel

T FOOD PLOTS —

here’s no doubt about it money is tighter for most of us these days than ever before. That doesn’t automatically mean, though, that we have to lose out on the benefits highquality food plots provide. Instead, many folks can cut costs without giving up anything. The key is to identify wasted expenses, eliminate them, and then use the necessary expenses in the most efficient way possible. As I highlight some ways to do that, keep our goal in mind: we are talking about ways to save money without giving up anything in the way of food plot quality or performance.


CHOOSE THE CORRECT FORAGE FOR EACH SITE The first step in getting the most performance out of your forage plantings is to make sure you select a forage that is designed to grow optimally in the conditions of each plot. That means that you need to select a forage for one site at a time. There are two groups of factors to consider for each site: (1) physical factors related to the site itself, and (2) what specific role you want the forage in that particular site to serve in your overall food-plot plan. Physical factors include, for example, soil type, slope and accessibility of the site with equipment. Forage-role factors include whether you want a forage to provide nutrition and attraction year around for several years from a single planting, or do something specific for part of a year, such as provide abundant, tall, nutritious growth in winter or massive high-protein tonnage during the spring and summer. These factors should be considered in a specific order. For more information, see “How to Select the Right Forage,” which is available on-line here: http://www.whitetailinstitute.com/HowtoSelectthe RightForage.pdf How Long You’ll Have the Property. Imperial perennial blends are designed to last for up to 3-5 years without replanting, with Mother Nature’s cooperation of course. Imperial annual blends are designed to last either from fall through early spring, or from late spring through early fall. If you know you’ll be able to hunt the property for at least the next few years, Imperial perennials can be extremely cost effective over the life of the forage. By not having to replant every year, you save money and time by only preparing the seedbed once

for a forage that should last for several years. If you are on a year-to-year lease and are not sure that you’ll be able to lease the property again next year, Imperial annuals may be more cost-effective, since the initial cost to purchase the seed is generally less than the cost of perennials. Equipment Issues. Some, but not all, Imperial annuals need to be planted in a “prepared seedbed,” which generally requires the use of a disk or tiller, a drag or cultipacker, and in some cases a sprayer. Imperial perennials should be planted in a prepared seedbed and they should also be mowed a few times in the spring and summer and if necessary and appropriate to the forage being maintained, sprayed with Arrest and/or Slay. (For more information on using herbicides, see “Herbicides — Back to the Basics,” which is available on-line here: www.whitetailinstitute.com/info /news/mar08/6.html). If you don’t have the equipment necessary to perform these functions, you have three options: (1) plant forages that don’t require ground tillage to plant, (2) hire someone to do the work for you, or (3) buy your own equipment. Obviously, the option that carries the least up-front expense is to select forages that do not require the use of tractor or ATV equipment to plant or maintain. The Whitetail Institute offers two high quality forage blends for just such a situation, Imperial Whitetail No Plow and Secret Spot. Without question, these are two of the Institute’s most popular annual forage products. Like other Imperial forage blends, No Plow and Secret Spot can be planted in a prepared seedbed. But that’s not required for them to perform well. Hiring someone to do the work for you can be an

excellent option in many cases. Doing so broadens your forage options substantially. Plus, you don’t have the expense of buying tillage and maintenance equipment, storing it, and transporting it to and from the site. This option can be especially attractive for folks whose schedules are very busy or who live away from their hunting properties. If you plan to purchase equipment and do the work yourself, consider whether you need to invest in a tractor and related equipment, or an ATV setup. An ATV and related equipment can be the better option if you either don’t have a lot of acreage in food plots or you have the time it takes to do the work with the lighter ATV equipment. If you’ll be using an ATV to prepare fallow plot sites, it can be a great idea to spray the site with a Roundup-type glyphosate herbicide a few weeks before initial ground tillage. Doing so kills the roots of the existing vegetation, allowing the comparatively light ATV tillage equipment to cut through the ground much easier. A tractor may offer the better option for folks who have lots of acreage in food plots, since it has the strength and weight to work the soil more quickly and efficiently. Efficient Use of Fuel Costs. When considering what forage to put in each plot, you may find that you have several options for each site. In that case, one potential way to save costs is to plant perennials in larger sites that you can access more quickly and easily (but still out of sight from public roads), and plant your more remote sites in annuals. Since annuals don’t require maintenance after planting, you can save time and money by using more of your fuel cost for actually mowing and spraying rather than traveling from small plot to small plot.

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SOIL TEST, SOIL TEST, SOIL TEST! Of all the tips in this article, none offers you a potentially greater chance to save money than performing a laboratory soil test any time you are considering buying lime or fertilizer. Only a soil test performed through a qualified lab offers you the greatest potential savings. That’s because a laboratory can tell you EXACTLY how much (if any) lime you need, and how much and what blend of fertilizer you need for optimum forage growth. When preparing your soil sample to send in to the lab, be sure to let the laboratory know what forage you’ll be planting or maintaining. That way the lab can precisely tailor its recommendations for the specific needs of the plot. In most places, it only costs about $10 to do a soil test for a plot, and that $10 is an investment that offers a huge potential savings by eliminating ALL unnecessary lime and fertilizer expenses. Follow the Laboratory’s Recommendations: Once you get your soil-test results back, follow its recommendations. That may sound obvious, but you might be tempted to add only part of the lime or fertilizer recommendation in an attempt to save money. That’s not the way to go, at least if you want optimum forage performance. The reason is that, as I said, a laboratory soil test will tell you EXACTLY what, if anything, you need to add to the soil, and if you do less than the soil-test report recommends, you will almost certainly see it show up as reduced forage performance.

Lush food plots like this one can be had if you follow the proper steps. This includes doing a simple soil test.

TRY TO PERFORM MULTIPLE TASKS EACH TRIP There are lots of ways you can save money by doing

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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.

(each sample plants 100 sq. ft.)

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more than one task each time you work on your food plots. If you think about your own unique situation, you’ll probably think of lots of ways to do that. Here’s an example: Let’s say you have selected a fallow site for a new food plot, have selected the correct forage for that site, and are ready to start seedbed preparation. Let’s also say that the site is currently covered with a thick layer of sod, and that you want to spray the site with a Roundup-type glyphosate herbicide a few weeks before tilling. When you go to the site to take your soil samples for testing, spray the site while you’re there. That way the herbicide can be working to kill the sod while you wait for your soil-test results to come back.

Charles J. Alsheimer

MAINTAIN PERENNIAL FORAGES IN A TIMELY MANNER Maintaining Imperial perennials is easy. It’s also very important if you want your forage planting to last as long as it was designed to last. Just like your car, which requires regular oil changes at specific mileage intervals, your perennials need a little maintenance each spring if they are to last as long as they should, and that maintenance should be timely. Start with grass control in the spring. As Dr. Wiley Johnson used to say, “Grass control is your numberone maintenance priority.” And it’s not just important to control grass — it’s also important to do it in a timely manner, especially if you want to keep costs down. Arrest works best at controlling grass that is still in seedling stage (that has not matured its root ball yet, which grasses generally do once they are old enough to be about 6-12” tall). To reduce the chance that you’ll

have to deal with mature grass in your Imperial perennial plots, try to spray Arrest during a specific window of time. That window starts when grass starts to actively grow, and it ends when grass reaches a height of 612”. It’s still possible to control grass after it matures, but in some situations it may require additional herbicide applications, stronger solution rates or both. For information on how to set up a maintenance schedule for your perennials, see “Perennial Maintenance — Setting up a Schedule,” which is available on-line here: www.whitetailinstitute.com/info/planting/Maintenance .pdf Also, be sure to mow your Imperial perennial plots in the spring, and again do so in a timely manner. They key is to mow the top off the plot any time it appears that the forage plants or any upright annual weeds are about to “flower” (make seeds). If you can’t mow before flowering, still mow if possible because mowing also helps keep the forage plants even more lush, nutritious and attractive. For best weed-control results, though, try to mow before anything growing in the plot flowers. Just don’t mow when conditions are excessively hot or dry. Remember, before you consider what you will have to give up to cut costs, look for ways to cut costs without giving up anything. Most of us can find at least some wasted expense in our food-plot budgets, and think of ways to be more efficient with our time and money. These are just some examples of areas to consider. Everyone’s situation is unique, though, and I’ll bet you can come up with more of your own. W

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.

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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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PROBLEM SOLVING Creates “Deadly” Food Plot Strategy

When mature bucks become nocturnal, the problem can be solved using unique techniques.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

Charles J. Alsheimer

By Fred Abbas

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I

f you've ever watched our A-Way Outdoors television program or read any of our articles you know we invent our own hunting tactics. If you own any of our A-Way Hunting products, you would also know we invent our own products. The reason is very simple: There are problems with every hunting aid that will eventually cost a hunter their quarry, and there are problems that ultimately surface during every type of hunt. We believe there is a solution to every problem, and we first attempt to recognize exactly what the problem is and why it’s a problem. If this involves a hunting aid, we isolate and then remove the weaknesses and build on its strengths. By the time we are finished, the product looks much different from its counterparts and is patentable.

If you own or lease land for deer and turkey hunting, you know the greatest component to continued success is food plots. Food plots can never be outlawed because hunting near them is a legitimate, legal tactic. It's only a matter of time before baiting in Michigan and elsewhere will be eliminated. This is now especially true now that farmers have ethanol to enhance their income. (Note: This article was authored before chronic wasting disease was discovered in Michigan and prompted the baiting ban in Michigan’s lower peninsula.) Strategically placed food plots are designed to attract deer and turkeys to your property, and proper plantings are designed to hold animals on your land. We use a variety of Whitetail Institute products with outstanding attraction power and they give deer the high protein needed to enhance antler growth. Does also benefit by having healthier fawns. You've heard that variety is the spice of life, and truer words were never spoken when it applies to planting food plots — especially for deer. However, when hunting food plots, you must solve some problems. The problem isn’t the food plot, but the way most mature bucks approach or leave a food plot, and the way most hunters hunt the plots. The more I thought about the problems, the easier they were to identify. Problem No. 1: Many hunters place permanent blinds overlooking food plots and hunt the plot with a rifle or shotgun. Eventually, smarter, more mature deer will figure it out and become nocturnal, making the plot much less effective. That's if the big bucks don’t leave altogether. Remember, the idea of a food plot is to attract and hold deer on your land. Problem No. 2: Most bucks, especially mature bucks

entering a food plot in the evening, usually stage in nearby woods before dark or enter the food plot during low light. Problem No. 3: Usually, mature bucks leave the plot before daylight. SEARCHING FOR THE SOLUTION The remedy is easy. Move the blind or stand to an interception point unrelated to the food plot. At least that's what we thought. Where it should be relocated created a further problem. Then, we needed to know what time deer were reaching the staging point and where that point was located. We also wanted to know if deer that left the plot before light went directly to bedding areas or lingered somewhere. If they lingered, where did they linger, and for how long? The only way that we could find the answers was by using trail cameras. We started in May at one of our most productive food plots, and then extended that to other farms, using eight cameras set near intersecting deer runs 500 to 100 yards from the food plots. It took us nearly five months to compile enough data to reveal the information. Before getting into specifics, it's worth mentioning that the deadliest location for a food plot is below a north-south ridge. Bucks loved the idea that they could peer down and see what was happening in a food plot from such a safe distance. They were also aware they had the advantage of using thermals in the morning without exposing themselves. The aerial photograph of that situation is shown on the next page. The oblong square in the picture is a two-acre food plot planted with Chicory Plus and Alfa-Rack Plus, which has mix-

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.

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tures of alfalfa, chicory, clover and other foods. The inverted L-shaped lines on opposite corners of the food plots are subtle shooting lanes, where we removed a tree or shrub here and there to weave a shot through without a deer knowing it's there. The Lshaped lines nearest the food plot is an average of 100 yards from the plot, and the lines farthest from the plot average 300 yards away. The shooting lanes extend about 150 yards in each direction. Duplicate shooting lanes on the opposite corners allow for wind-direction changes. Here is what we found when gun-hunting these locations. When the guns were fired, deer in the food plot were at first startled by the noise but felt no immediate threat and soon returned to feeding. They never made the connection. Further, the cameras told us that deer

Fred Abbas

Fred Abbas

staging in the evening would cross the 100-yard line almost an hour before dark and stage 50 to 75 yards from the food plot while waiting for dusk. We were astounded to learn that before daylight, deer would leave the food plots one to two hours before dawn. More astonishing was that after deer traveled beyond the 100-yard line, they lingered more than two hours after daylight before they crossed the 300-yard line. Some just stood around, and others would temporally bed down. It figures. Deer have no concept of time, nor can they reason. They have no thoughts of a tomorrow. Truthfully, deer are only motivated by their immediate needs: food, water, safety and reproduction,

The author with one of his many record-book bucks taken using his unique techniques.

along with curiosity. We had a series of eight stands surrounding a targeted food plot. Each setup had an extra stand in case I took a cameraman with me. I elected to hunt and film by myself. Believe me, each year I do that, it usually costs me something, and this hunt would be no exception. Our Michigan muzzleloading hunt is my favorite. The biggest bucks are more active than they have been all season. Plus, many new bucks will have worked their way onto some of our farms. These new bucks are much more vulnerable to our scent products because they haven’t had time to identify the local deer. So they must spend considerable time trying to decipher each scent they encounter, and that’s what we want them to do in our subtle shooting lanes. I sat overlooking the 100-yard line after spraying She Heat over each deer run that crosses the shooting lanes. She Heat is made of real doe-in-estrus urine and synthetics. With syntheses, you can duplicate the scent of anything but can amplify the scent. Thus, deer have heightened curiosity. By doing this, you have the best of both worlds (and a powerful attractant). Sure enough, one hour before dusk, I saw a huge buck walk into the shooting lane. I easily locked him in the viewfinder of the camera. Then, I ranged him at 167 yards. He was doing everything I wanted him to do on camera, even lip curling with his nose while almost touching the She Heat. I remember thinking that he must have read the script. Ka-boom. The buck went right down, caught on camera for thousands of viewers of A-Way Outdoors. But as it turned out, I would be the only witness. In the heat of battle I forgot to do one little thing: press record. W

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.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

®

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

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Food Plots vs. Baiting:

The Controversy Continues By Bill Marchel Photos by the author

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F

ifteen years ago, I purchased 70 acres of land in central Minnesota. My goal was to develop the acreage for wildlife, especially whitetail deer, and to that end I have implemented a number of successful projects, including food plot construction and maintenance, tree planting and other forest habitat improvement projects, plus the excavation of ponds.

Although I had spent my entire life in the outdoors, when it came to farming I was as green as a well-maintained plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover. Now, with 15 years of dirt under my fingernails, I more fully understand and appreciate the link between the land and whitetail deer as well as other wildlife components. And the learning process is continuous. What does this have to do with the continuing controversy over the use of food plots vs. baiting when it comes to attracting whitetails? A lot. Here in Minnesota, hunting deer over bait is not legal. Even supplemental feeding is discouraged by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Had it been legal to bait deer like it is in a number of other states, and had I chosen that route to attract whitetails to my land, I would not have garnered the many valuable, interesting and entertaining lessons the outdoors has to offer. This “link to nature” is just one advantage the implementation of food plots has over the use of bait to attract and hold whitetails. Let’s explore some of the other factors. I should note here that the purpose of this article is not to pit those who hunt over bait (where legal) against those who hunt over food plots. Instead, I would like to note some advantages to both the deer and the hunter/landowner that the implementation of food plots has to offer. The increased chance of the spread of diseases such as chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis supplies critics of baiting the most fuel. Baiting concentrates deer around food stations, whether that bait is a pile of corn, apples or whatever, more than does deer gathering in a food plot. Some biologists believe diseases are spread more easily among deer when the animals feed in the presence of their own droppings and urine. A number of biologist also deem that diseases are spread when deer touch noses, a situation that would occur far more readily, one would assume, in a baiting situation than in a food plot environment. Although the potential for the spread of deer diseases in a close feeding environment seems likely, biologists admit a link is difficult to prove. What has been verified is that once a disease like CWD or bovine tuberculosis enters a deer population, everyone suffers. Financial costs aside, the deer suffer, livestock producers suffer, and finally so do those who hunt in the disease-affected areas. Ultimately, is it best to err on the safe side? It would seem so. Some hunters who use bait to attract deer claim they can’t afford to plant and maintain food plots, and that they don’t have the time to invest in deer management work. Vol. 19, No. 2 /

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Implementing food plots can be much less expensive and more productive when compared with using bait for months at a time.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

Implementing food plots can be expensive, but when compared to dumping bait daily for weeks or months, the cost of even a well-maintained food plot is comparable. Let’s compare the annual cost of a one-acre food plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover to a bait station maintained only for the duration of an archery deer season. Right now the price of corn in my area is $7 for a 50pound bag. If a hunter were to dump only 25 pounds of corn per day for an entire archery deer season—say three months—that would be 25 pounds times 90 days, or 2250 pounds for the season. Divide 2250 pounds by the 50 pounds per bag and the result is 45 bags. Multiply that figure by $7 per bag and the total is $315. A one-acre food plot, not counting the initial work of clearing, costs close to the same and is available to deer and other wildlife for the entire year and for years to come. Fertilizer is roughly $20 per 50-pound bag and most one-acre plots require 200 to 300 pounds per acre annually, which would cost $120 on the high end. Add the price of seed, about $55 for Imperial Whitetail clover, and 1/2 ton of lime at about $60, and the total for the first year of planting is $240. Since Imperial Whitetail Clover can last up to five years, and lime usually needs to be added only every few years, the maintenance cost after the initial planting will be only the cost of fertilizer. Of course there will be fuel costs, plus the cost of equipment and equipment repairs, but you can see that implementing just a single bait station for only three months is expensive, too. My friends that live in states that allow hunting over bait tell me that once baiting starts in an area, it can easily get out of hand. A competition of sorts among landowners can brew. The results are that baiting during the hunting season expands into year-round deer feeding and that can get really costly. Bait and feed stations become larger and spring up seemingly everywhere, sometimes close to property boundaries which causes tension between neighbors. Another problem faced by hunters who bait whitetails is that the deer often become nocturnal because a bait station supplies deer with a concentrated food source that is easily and quickly consumed. The deer, knowing they can rapidly fill up on a highly palatable food like corn for instance, often wait until after dark for their easy meal. Deer must spend a greater amount of time feeding in order to fill up while grazing in a clover food plot. As I mentioned earlier, it is illegal to hunt over bait here in Minnesota. But feeding deer is not illegal. So, following the firearms deer season, many Minnesota hunters start to feed deer. That makes hunting difficult for late-season archers and muzzleloader hunters who are still afield because the deer concentrate near the feeders and rely on the easy meal afforded them. Thus they move less, and become more nocturnal. I experience this firsthand each year as several of my neighbors feed deer. I can immediately see the shift in deer movement when the feeding begins, especially the lack of daytime travel. Biologists worry too, that the use of bait is altering deer habits, concentrating them near bait stations. Yes, food plots also concentrate deer to a certain extent, but not like a bait station where an effortless meal is readily available. In some areas, deer from miles around often leave well-managed habitat to gather in close to the bait stations. Thus, over-browsing of the nearby habitat occurs, which affects not only the health of other wildlife, but also the long-term health of the habitat itself. An over-browsed section of forest for examwww.whitetailinstitute.com


Properly implemented food plots become an additional element of good habitat.

ple, can take decades to recover. In addition, some deer biologists claim it can be difficult to attain sufficient deer harvests in areas where baiting has significantly shifted deer. Conversely, food plots actually become an additional element of proper deer habitat. A pile of bait doesn’t need good habitat surrounding it to support deer. Ultimately, the debate between hunting over bait vs. hunting over a food plot should be decided not by which is more effective, more ethical, less costly, or more acceptable to the non-hunting public. What is important is the long-term health of the whitetail herd and their habitat, an environment that is shared by many other creatures besides deer. We as hunters and

stewards of the land need to remember that. For me, implementing food plots has become a passion that goes far beyond attracting whitetails for the purpose of hunting. I often pause while working my food plots to watch other wildlife like woodchucks, rabbits and various species of songbirds as they gather for a feast. It is difficult to explain how gratifying it is to listen as a ruffed grouse drums from its log near my clover plot or how I love to listen to the incoming Canada geese as they announce to the world below that my food plot of corn is theirs. Sometimes when I pause for a rest during arduous tasks like removing rocks from my food plots I’ll wander about my land with no real intentions in mind. I’ll

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.” ®

study a buck rub, size up the tracks in a freshly made scrape, or look for shed antlers. One late spring day just after sunset, while taking a break from digging rocks, I glanced up to see a female cinnamon-colored black bear and her two jet-black cubs staring back at me. When I stood, the female woofed at me and then ran away while her cubs scrambled up a nearby tree. The two young bears ascended a few feet up the tree and then paused. When I took a few steps in their direction they leaped from the tree trunk and ran to catch up to mom. Gratifying? Indeed. For me providing deer and other wildlife with year-round nutritional benefits is more than just dumping a pile of corn. W

• 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

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Vol. 19, No. 2 /

Research = Results

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Tom Dial — Illinois Enclosed find pictures of some of the deer we took in Illinois last year. The first deer is a 14-point buck killed by Mark Wakefield. It was taken in Clark County on Nov 17. The deer grossed 199 2/8. We have had Imperial Whitetail Clover on this place for four years. The second pic is my buck killed Dec. 7, with a muzzleloader. He grossed 157. This buck was chasing one of the many does on my place around a 3 year old Imperial Clover field. We killed seven does and this buck off of 40 acres and did not make a dent in the deer. Also enclosed is a pic of my buck two years

and it truly works to bring them in. My food plot was the first place this guy was heading when coming out of the woods. I've been using Imperial Whitetail Clover in my food plots for 3 years and I also planted Imperial No Plow and Extreme this year. It has brought more deer to my property and increased the size of the racks, as well as the deer. Before I put in the food plots, deer would just cross my property, I had nothing to attract or hold them. But now I hunt with confidence and truly reap what I sow. Thanks Whitetail Institute for a great product, and thanks for the various products that help me attract deer all year long.

John Patterson — Mississippi We have noticed a better quality of deer since we started using Imperial Whitetail Clover and 30-06 Plus Protein on our property in the late 80s. This

last bow season I took these deer a 14 point weighing 225lbs and an 11 point weighing 200 pounds. These weights are extremely high for this area. Thanks Whitetail Institute for these great products. ago in the clover field with some of his buddies. We have used Imperial Whitetail Clover for years and the deer love it. Thanks Whitetail Institute for a great product and happy hunting.

Tom Cooper — Kentucky I had pictures on my trail cams this summer and got one shot of this guy in early August. He looked like a moose with the velvet and early growth. I didn't see him again until late August, when he was coming into my Imperial Whitetail Clover plot in the early evening. By now I could count 15 points in the pictures of him, but I never expected to get a shot at him. On the second day of the season, he came into the food plot, 38 yards from my stand. It goes to show, deer want Imperial Whitetail Clover 36

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

Daniel Minor — Missouri Several years ago, my brothers and I purchased a farm to take our kids and friend’s deer and turkey hunting. We purchased an old tractor, disc, and planter to plant food plots on various locations on the property. We tried several different varieties and types of seed purchased from the local feed store, for which we achieved marginal results at best. Last fall, we decided to perform a food plot test/study, utilizing seed from one of the premium deer plot seed companies and compare to our existing plots. After researching different companies and seed information, we decided to give Pure Attraction from Whitetail Institute a try. As directed on the instructions sheet, we performed soil tests, limed, fertilized, and broadcast the Pure Attraction in two food plot loca-

tions that had previously incurred poor plant production. Within a few weeks our food plots were lush and thick with 4-6 inches of growth. My trail cameras immediately started photographing more deer and turkeys in the Pure Attraction food plots. Most of the pictures showed deer gorging themselves with Pure Attraction. Throughout our bow and gun seasons, we witnessed significantly more and bigger bucks than any prior year. The evenings became quite a show to watch the deer walk and run to the Pure Attraction food plots like someone rang a dinner bell! Deer wore paths down from the neighbor’s farm straight to the Pure Attraction plots. We were also surprised to see how well the Pure Attraction held up to the daily hammering it took from the deer and hard freezes. Since winter arrived, we are continuing to watch deer feed in the Pure Attraction, when our other food plots stopped producing. As a result of planting Pure Attraction, I harvested my biggest bow kill buck to date, 158-inch 10-point, which was standing 18 yards from my stand with its mouth buried in the Pure Attraction. Without a doubt, Pure Attraction was the primary reason why my family and friends enjoyed the best deer season to date on our farm. I am sold on Pure Attraction and will be planting additional Whitetail Institute products next spring and fall.

Aren DiSalvo — New York We began using Imperial Whitetail Clover and AlfaRack in the spring three years ago. Within a few months of planting we began to see more deer activity and several bucks which were 3 1/2 years of age with racks scoring in the range of 130-145. For the first year my father and I hung two tree stands on paths which led to the Imperial Whitetail Clover plot. On the second day of bow season my father settled into his www.whitetailinstitute.com


stand several hours before last light. After only 45 minutes he heard a stick crack followed by footsteps heading his way. When he looked up he saw the biggest buck he has had a chance to harvest. When the monster 8-point with a very symmetrically rack stepped into range at 15 yards he let the shot of a lifetime go. After he was able to stop shaking we tracked his perfectly shot trophy a mere 35 yards where it had stopped right on the edge of the plot. This buck ended up being my fathers biggest buck ever tipping the scale at 197 pounds field dressed with a green score of 133. Our plot is inside of our 30 acre sanctuary and is 3/4 of an acre. The trail camera has proven all season that Imperial Whitetail Clover really does grow and hold monster bucks. We have included photos. As a whole our deer population and deer size/health has increased tremendously since we began using Whitetail Institute products. I have included a photo of my fathers buck and a trail camera photo of a live buck on its way to our plots.

Brent VanHoveln - Illinois I wanted to drop you a line and some pictures of our success this year in Illinois using Whitetail Institute food plots. On Nov. 17 last season I took a very close friend, Don Wages out deer hunting with me on my farm in Illinois. We had the perfect wind to hunt the best stand on this property so we slipped in way before daylight and waited. This stand is situated 150 yards between a 4 year old plot of Alfa-Rack that has been a deer magnet, and a bedding area. On this morning we were anticipating deer (hopefully mature bucks) leaving the food plot and returning to the bedding area. We were not disappointed!!! One half hour after daylight, Don saw a huge buck walking from the Alfa-Rack plot back into the timber heading right towards him. The buck passed underneath his tree at 8 yards and Don made a perfect shot. This was the largest Buck Don has ever shot in almost

60 years of hunting. He has shot over 170 deer with a Bow but nothing could prepare him for the sight he was about to see when he walked up on this Illinois Bruiser. It would have been a 9x9 but it broke off a point on each antler that were both several inches long. With 16 scoreable points the buck grossed just shy of 200-inches Pope and Young. One half hour later Don also shot a big doe as she left the food plot to return to her bed. Enclosed is a picture of Don’s buck. Don stated to me "that was the best deer hunting day in my 65 year life." One hour later, we were still in the tree trying to contain our excitement when a 6 year old buck I had nicked named "Curly" walked under us. This buck was also coming from the food plot probably checking for does. I was able to put my tag on old Curly from the same spot Don had just shot his monster on the same morning. (photo enclosed) It was a great morning of hunting memories that we will cherish the rest of our lives. Thank You Whitetail Institute for making products that help hunters make memories of a lifetime. In the pictures you will notice how green and lush this Alfa Rack still is, clear into mid November after several hard freezes.

Justin Dill — Ohio Enclosed is a story and photo that are about of the most memorable days of my life. Since my wedding, that is, of course. I knew this was going to be a great year. If we could just get those big boys to stick around on our side of

the fence. My buddy, Bob Lott, and I contacted the Whitetail Institute for their professional opinion and expert advice on deer nutrition. By listening to our unique hunting situation they helped us establish what kind of nutrition these deer needed to produce body mass and antler growth. They were able pinpoint where this food plot needed to be and what seed would benefit the herd. We needed a central location to pull the deer. In previous years, the bigger bucks left the farm to find does that had better forage. If we could keep does feeding on our little square, we were certain the old, more mature bucks would show. This deer was hard to see during daylight hours, but he got love struck and his girlfriend brought him 15 yards beneath me this November day. While most Ohio residents are screaming "go bucks" on this OSU/Michigan game day, my alarm goes off at 4:45 a.m. and says Go GET a Buck! Timmy Young passed this deer up last year on video at 20 yards. THANK YOU!!! We thought him to be a 3 1/2 year old. He is 4 1/2 this year and his 17-point rack scored 188.5 Boone and Crockett inches. We had been seeing this deer all over the farm on our trail cams, and found him to be favoring the north end of his usual thicket. I moved a stand set into a funnel knowing that a big deer like that would be looking for those last few does coming into Estrous this late in the rut. All the does on the farm were demolishing our Winter-Greens food plot that we planted in August and I just knew this funnel between his two favorite thickets would be the perfect ambush spot. I can’t believe that I was right! I’m never right about where these deer will be. They never do what they are supposed to do. He did on Saturday. I just happened to be sitting there when he chased her by. She just happened to stop 4 yards from my tree to take a breather. He just happened to pause behind a tree long enough for me to draw. He just happened to be broadside at 15 yards. From the time I saw him to the time the arrow was released was all of 10 seconds. I’m glad for that. If I would have looked at him any longer, I would probably have missed, and threw up on my lap. I venture to say that this 25-year-old bowhunter will never harvest an animal like this again. I wanted to share this with all of you.

Tracy Waddell — North Carolina Both No-Plow and Secret Spot work well for me because I plant several small patches in cutovers. Both attract a lot of deer late season. Here’s a 140 class 14pointer I took on public land this season. W

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

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

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Vol. 19, No. 2 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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Biological Clock Governs Life and Health of Deer‌ And smart whitetail managers know how to keep time By John Frank Deese, Whitetail Institute Biologist

O

ur world is changing at a faster pace than we have ever experienced. Vast improvements in science and technology have let conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts manage their natural resources in ways never thought possible. We also have the latest, greatest camo patterns, the lightest tree stands and clothing that eliminates your scent. You can even have trail-cam pics sent directly to your cell phone or computer without re-entering the woods. With so much change occurring, it's nice to know there is one thing that will always remain unchanged, and it's as steady and consistent as the rise of the morning sun. It's the biological clock. And no, it has absolutely nothing to do with that busted date you had a few years ago. 40

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

www.whitetailinstitute.com


Charles J. Alsheimer

Biological clock is just a term I use to describe nature and its repetitive annual cycle. As outdoorsmen, we can learn many things by simply observing this cycle and creating management plans and goals that flow with it. For example, if creating a healthier deer herd is your goal, ask yourself this question: “When do whitetail deer experience the most physiological change?” The answer is clear: early spring through late summer. Physics prove that it takes energy for anything to change. So we know that deer need vast amounts of quality food during spring and summer to support the many physiological changes that occur then.

In most of the United States, does begin gestation in early winter and begin lactating in late spring throughout summer. Bucks begin producing new antlers during spring, and the process continues throughout the summer. So it's not a coincidence that the whitetail’s quality nutrient demand is greatest during spring and summer in most of the country. Rather, it's a perfect example of a species taking full advantage of a season when nutrient availability is greatest. Whitetails have relied on the consistent yearly cycle of the biological clock for thousands of years, long before there was designer camo. Still, there are many nutritional gaps during spring and summer that nature does not fill. Consider antlers. They are a secondary sex characteristic, which means they are not the body’s first priority. Nutrients are first used for normal body growth and function, and the remaining nutrients can be used for antler development. Other than bucks being harvested at an early age, this nutritional gap is the main reason bucks never reach full antler-size potential. In most parts of the country, bucks begin their rigorous 200-day antlergrowing cycle in early spring, when natural food sources are at a minimum. They are physically exhausted from the rut and need nutrition to regain their proper body weight. So antler development is secondary until the body's nutritional requirements are met. If that happens, antlers will likely be stunted early on, and growth will not be compensated for later. What can we do to eliminate shortfalls in antler growth? Research at the Whitetail Institute answered that question more than 20 years ago. Whitetail Institute perennial food plots are one of the best — if not the best — solutions to natural nutritional shortfalls.

They can provide the crucial high-protein food source all deer need — and can do it all year. These nutritional buffets are not only important for growing antlers but for growing babies. Does are in gestation during winter and early spring, when food sources are limited. They must supply their bodies with nutrients and care for that future trophy. A fawn born from a healthy mother possesses a huge advantage over fawns born from nutritionally deprived mothers. It's crucial that pregnant does have unlimited access to high-quality forage during spring and summer. Again, Whitetail Institute provides the best products that offer year-round high quality forage. They include Imperial Clover, Chicory PLUS, Alfa-Rack Plus, Extreme and more. The nutritional requirements of whitetail deer change dramatically as they follow nature’s annual cycle. As mentioned, management plans and goals should follow this cycle. That's why the Whitetail Institute has developed Cutting Edge, a line of products that flow with this nutritional cycle. Cutting Edge is divided into three unique products: Initiate, Optimize and Sustain. Cutting Edge Initiate is designed to be used in late winter/early spring, and it targets the nutritional gap that occurs just before spring green-up, when bucks are growing antlers and does are entering the third trimester of pregnancy, when two-thirds of fetal growth occurs. Cutting Edge Optimize is designed to be used after the spring green-up and throughout the summer. Sustain is designed to be used from fall through January. For example, let’s look at a lactating doe that has just given birth to a future trophy. A deer’s milk is very nutrient-dense, and that milk is almost always high quality. However, the quantity of milk produced

Perennial Chicory DRAMATICALLY MORE ATTRACTIVE THAN TRADITIONAL CHICORIES! DROUGHT TOLERANT FORAGE PROVIDES UP TO 44% PROTEIN!

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WINA-100 Brand Chicory! The Ultimate Perennial Chicory for Whitetail Deer! • “CHIC” MAGNET is specially formulated for deer • “CHIC” MAGNET is more palatable to whitetails than chicories traditionally planted for whitetails • “CHIC” MAGNET provides truly incredible protein levels – up to 44%! • “CHIC” MAGNET can be planted in the spring or fall in most areas • “CHIC” MAGNET provides deer with a highly attractive and nutritious food source even during the heat and low rainfall of late summer and early fall. ®

“Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

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• “CHIC” MAGNET can last up to three years with a single planting • “CHIC” MAGNET can tolerate a broad variety of soil types, from moist to moderately drained • “CHIC” MAGNET can be planted alone, overseeded into existing forages to provide additional attraction and drought resistance or mixed with other seeds prior to planting. • “CHIC” MAGNET attracts, holds and grows bigger bucks!

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

Vol. 19, No. 2 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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depends on the health of the doe. What does that mean? A fawn born from a healthy doe will receive more milk (nutrients), thus enhancing its overall growth potential throughout life. Cutting Edge Initiate and Optimize were developed partly for that reason. Just as bodybuilders enhance their diet with nutritional supplements to gain muscle mass, Cutting Edge can help deer reach their full potential. When spring is on the horizon, the days will slowly get longer. Many hunters have long forgotten about deer. They are planning summer vacations of sun-filled beach trips and campouts with the kids. Many will have turkey fever as they sharpen their calling skills with mouth calls, box calls and slates. Some are putting new line on the ol’ fishing reel and repairing those leaks in the aluminum boat. Deer hunting is often the last thing on their minds, but it should be the first priority if they want to harvest bigger, healthier deer. The seasons change, and the interests and priorities of hunters change, but that biological clock is still ticking. W

Whitetail Institute perennial food plots are one of the best — if not the best — solutions to natural nutritional shortfalls. They can provide the crucial highprotein food source all deer need — and can do it all year.

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.

800-688-3030

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The Whitetail Institute — “Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

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Is It

BIG Enough?

The “right size� is a very personal matter By Brad Herndon Photos by the author

A

fter dropping over a steep hillside and walking to the bottom where a narrow thicket connected two adjacent hillsides, my wife, Carol, and I snuggled into an old hollow stump that was open on one side. With the wind pulsating against our faces, it was a perfect setup.

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Vol. 19, No. 2 /

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One hour after daylight, we heard a deer coming from the opposite hillside. It entered the thicket and we could hear it jump back and forth across a barbwire fence. Evidently it was trying to straighten out a doe trail. Shortly, though, we could see it coming our way. Carol had the 20-gauge shotgun on her knee, and when the buck was right in front of us at only 18 yards, it noticed something wasn’t quite right about the stump and looked straight at us. I whispered to Carol, “Aim right in the middle of its chest and pull the trigger.” Boom! The impact from the shot blew the buck over backwards. It never kicked. “You got it! You got it!” I screamed. Carol, who was almost sick from hyperventilating, jumped up and took one look at the buck and said, “Mount it up!” THE FUN WAS JUST BEGINNING

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

After dragging the buck 35 yards to the field’s edge, we bolted back up the hill to our old Baja Bug. It would go anywhere, so we drove to the bottom of the hill and bounced across the rows of the cornfield right to Carol’s prize. I looked at the buck, and then to the metal rack on top of the Bug. “I’ll never get this buck up there by myself,” I mumbled. Turning around, I looked square in the eyes of 105 pounds of pure dynamite. With a smile on her face, Carol softly said, “Oh, you’ll get it on top all right.” I did. Elated, we drove to the farmer’s house, and he and his wife admired Carol’s great buck. Then it was on to my parent’s house, where my mother went crazy when she saw Carol’s deer. Once at home, Carol called all of her friends. For two days, they came to see her buck. As you might have guessed by now, that was Carol’s first deer. The detailed notes in my deer diary reveal the date was Nov. 25, 1983, and that Carol was 39 years old. Her deer hunting career was just beginning. Oh, I forgot to mention the size of her trophy buck. It carried five points on a body that field-dressed 132 pounds. At the time, Carol and I agreed it was the homeliest buck we had ever seen. But in answer to the question, “Is it big enough?” Absolutely. Did we have fun? Absolutely. Would we have had more fun if the deer had made the Boone & Crockett record bucks? I don’t think so. In fact, that hunt is so meaningful that I still get mistyeyed when I read over the notes I recorded that day. 26 YEARS OF HUNTING In 1984, Carol purchased her first bow for $79.95; a Darton she set at 37 pounds. Although we had few deer in Indiana at the time, by mastering the doe bleat with her natural voice, Carol called in several bucks and killed them. Most were yearling bucks, but she did tag a few 2 1/2-year-old bucks and one decent 3 1/2-year-old buck. She was having a blast hunting and was elated with each deer she killed. Then came a tough year. It was firearm season, and Carol had not yet connected on a buck. I told her I knew an inside corner deer would pass through when hunting pressure was high, so that evening we erected two stands in the corner. Within 10 minutes, a 1 1/2-yearold 4-pointer came slipping through the corner, and Carol laid it to rest. As she looked at it, I could tell she was disappointed. To her, at that time and place, it wasn’t big enough. The next year she tagged a 137-inch net 8-pointer. Then, for several years, she killed mature bucks of all sizes, including one 14-pointer with a 21 1/2-inch inside spread. As time passed, we went from seeing 25 to 35 deer per year to that many deer in a single hunt at times. Eventually, we leased land in a beautiful hilly region that had too many deer, resulting in bucks that had somewhat lower-scoring racks. Carol was still selective in what she shot, but if a buck came along that she thought was one of the better deer in our area, she killed it. Some of these bucks scored 130 to 140 inches. She was a happy gal. Then, during one late muzzleloading season when she picked me up after my hunt, she told me she had killed a buck. I could tell she wasn’t elated about it. Once we got to where she had killed the deer, I noted it was indeed a fine buck. Granted, it was smaller than what she had been tagging — perhaps 118 inches gross — but nevertheless a fine muzzleloader kill. She perked up when I said it was a nice deer, and I realized at that time that her lack of excitement wasn’t caused because she was unhappy with the buck. Instead, her lack of enthusiasm was caused because she thought I wouldn’t think it was a good deer. YOU DO INFLUENCE OTHER HUNTERS When Carol killed her first buck, the 5-pointer, I had been into trophy hunting for five years. Despite that, I was so excited when she shot that small buck that I noted in my diary I was breathing so fast I had to stop and take a deep breath. I mention this because I didn’t take my higher standards for a deer and place them www.whitetailinstitute.com


on her. She shot the deer she wanted to shoot. I think we have had such a great hunting career together because we have maintained our own standards, making our own decisions about pulling the trigger. We each progressed on to higher standards on our own, but there is no doubt that talk of killing bigger deer each year went a little too far on my part. That is why Carol was concerned that I might not be happy with that buck she tagged during blackpowder season. I learned a lesson that day. We influence whether someone is happy with their deer. That's why it is so important to let a new hunter, especially a youngster, decide what they want to shoot. And whatever they shoot, you should be just as excited about it as they are. They will, by the way, be able to tell whether you are sincerely happy for them or just covering disappointment.

Most hunters reading this would feel this buck would be big enough for a bow kill. Be realistic and enjoy your hunting. Make your own decisions.

HUNTING CONDITIONS ARE DIFFERENT What I have just said won’t be too hard for most parents. This is true because although most of these whitetail enthusiasts have places to hunt, they aren’t great places that are crawling with huge bucks. The first deer along is usually big enough because they hunt public ground or by permission from a landowner. At this point, I want to point out that does are fair game too and can produce some exciting and

■ Let Less Experienced Hunters Decide Their “Trophy” >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> If you’re hunting with a new hunter — wife, son, daughter, friend — be sure to try to determine what caliber of deer they would be happy with. If they would be tickled with a doe, let them shoot one when it presents a good shot. Don’t make them wait, just in case a buck might show up. They might end up with nothing and be disappointed about their lost opportunity. Remember that they haven’t killed a deer. Our good friends Hannah and Spencer Williams went hunting one evening last year, and she killed her first deer, a doe. They were flat-out excited about her kill, and we had fun celebrating with them. If hunting big bucks is wearing you down, and you’re losing some enjoyment of the hunt, take some time off or shoot some does. Shooting does is fun, and can provide some great eating for your family or other families. Plus, it helps keep your whitetail herd in check. Be realistic in your goals. During the late 1980s, I decided I was going to kill a giant buck or nothing. I was hunting public land, and there were some dandy bucks roaming the area. I went four years without shooting an antlered deer. The fifth year, I decided to shoot one of the marginal deer I had been passing. It turned out to be an 11-point buck that grossed 154 inches and netted more than 144 inches. As I knelt and admired the whitetail, I knew my goals had been unrealistic for my hunting area. As I read some of my notes from those years I saw statements such as, “I’m getting grumpy,” and “I’m discouraged today; I have to work on my attitude.” Obviously I was losing some of the enjoyment of the hunt with my hard hunting and unrealistic goals. Since then, I have still had rather high standards regarding antler size, but I have kept my hunting expectations within my realm of achievability. Needless to say, I have enjoyed many happy years of deer hunting since then. Be ready to share. Losing one of your small bucks or a few does won’t be the end of the world. We have some younger friends, a husband and wife team, who love to deer hunt, yet they lost most of the deer on the land they own to EHD two years ago. This past year, we were glad to share one of our leases with them so they could have venison to eat. We also told them to shoot a buck of any size if they wanted to. They didn’t end up shooting a buck, but they had fun knowing they had the option of shooting one if they desired. Watch the deer hunting progress of your family and friends. My sister started hunting five years ago when she was in her 50s. She shot a small buck and a doe in two hunts the first year and was elated. She did the same thing the next year. The third year, she upped her standards and ended up harvesting several does and missing one mature buck. She was still happy. The past two years, she has killed does but no mature bucks yet. Although she still seems happy with her hunting, I’m letting her know that if she wants to shoot a smaller buck again, it’s perfectly all right with me. I’ll continue to monitor her progress and try to make sure she continues to enjoy her days afield to the fullest.

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memorable hunting for a youngster — even if they aren’t the shooter. For example, when my granddaughter, Jessica "The Rascal Girl," went on her first hunting trip with me, I was the shooter, and we decided immediately to shoot a doe. And that meant a doe fawn, as well. As it happened, the only whitetail to come out that night was a doe fawn, and Jessica was so excited when we recovered the deer she had to have her dad guard it while we went to get the deer cart. She even helped me field-dress and butcher the deer. She was 8 years old at the time. I think families with average hunting places have great hunts because it’s truly an accomplishment for a child to kill a doe or small buck. If the youngster wants to kick his goals up a notch later on, even that can be done in many areas today because quality deer management on a state level is fairly common. For many — if not most of you — reading this article, your hunting situation might be different than what I have just described. You most likely own or lease land, and probably have food plots and some type of management plan. In your case, it’s tempting to tell a youngster they shouldn’t shoot anything less than a mature buck — possibly a 130- or 140-inch buck. This can be a mistake, so be careful. An adult that has put their tags on deer for many years might have an entirely different perspective on what they want to shoot than a first-time hunter does. For instance, a friend of mine has put a ton of money into his deer hunting. He has purchased several hundred acres and managed the land perfectly. Bucks gross-scoring 140 to 170 inches are relatively common. This past fall he took his young son out hunting in a food plot he knew trophy deer frequented almost every evening. “What size buck do you want to shoot?” he asked his son. “Dad,” the son replied, “I just want to shoot a deer.” His son was elated when a 2 1/2-year-old 8-pointer came out before dark. Obviously this boy will want to shoot bigger bucks sometime in the future on this ideal setup, but for the time being, he was thrilled with the smaller buck. It was big enough for him. And, I might note, it was also big enough for his dad. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS Four years ago, Carol and I were driving past one of our local mini-marts when I noticed a dandy buck in the back of a truck. We wheeled in to look at it. The deer turned out to be a 10-point trophy that would net up in the 140s. The three guys at the truck were teen-agers, and they almost looked like they had lost their best friend. “Great buck, guys!” I said, “Who killed it?” www.whitetailinstitute.com


AND THE FINAL DECISION IS ...

Only the person shooting can truly judge whether a buck is big enough or not. This would be a dandy first buck for most people, especially youngsters.

They proceeded to tell me who shot the deer, and the story that went along with it. Amazingly, two of them were in a tree videoing and had actually let the buck walk past them early in the morning. Later, it came back, and they decided it wasn’t too bad of a buck and perhaps they should shoot it. Now, even though it was a bow kill, they were questioning whether they had done the right thing because it wasn’t as big as the bucks on the hunting DVDs and TV shows they watched. I proceeded to tell these young hunters what a great feat they had pulled off and that they should be doing cartwheels across the parking lot. They made the mistake of thinking they should be able to kill deer matching the bucks shot by the so called pro hunters, although they had marginal places to hunt. As these young hunters revealed, this type of comparison can take the fun out of hunting. A friend of mine in northern Indiana is a brilliant businessman. By working hard and investing wisely, he has accumulated hundreds of acres of choice deer ground. He has the equipment and intelligence to carry out a fantastic quality deer management plan. The best buck they shot last year was more than 176 inches. He recently told me he spent $25,000 on his deer management plan last year. If I compare myself to him, I’m setting myself up for failure and unhappiness. No matter how hard and smart I hunt, I’m not going to consistently kill great deer in my region that would compare to his. I know this, and I’m happy tapping out the best trophies for my area and style of managing.

Finally, we come to the question: Is he big enough? There is no one answer to this question for all hunters. This past fall, in the heat of the moment when the adrenaline was coursing through his veins in bucketfuls, my friend arrowed a monster buck. As he has done before, upon finding the deer he said to himself, “I’ve found someone else’s buck!” We are still laughing about that ground-shrinkage buck, because his 12-year old daughter was with him, and in an attempt to make him feel better she said, “Dad, it’s a nice deer. I think I would have shot it.” My friend recovered nicely, by the way, for he had harvested a mature deer, just not a monster. And better yet, he kept the fun in deer hunting by making light of the situation. Today, even on public land, the opportunity exists in most states to pursue the deer of our choice, from a doe to a yearling buck to a mature buck. The same goes for the land we manage. Each of us must decide what is big enough in our own mind to shoot. In my family, this might be Jessica The Rascal Girl’s year for trying to get a deer. She’s killed a couple of turkeys already. I’ll let her decide what she wants to shoot, and we’ll have a blast. And if she just wants to go with me and not shoot a deer, that’s fine, too. I’ve already made up my mind that if a marginal buck walks in front of us and she whispers, “Grandad Brad, that’s a huge deer. Is it big enough?” I’m going push the safety off and reply, “You bet it is, Rascal Girl!” Throughout this article, I’ve noted how important it is for a deer hunter, beginning or veteran, to shoot the deer of their choice. That’s why I have been a proponent of quality deer management for almost 30 years, well before it was popular. At one time, we could kill four antlered bucks in Indiana, which meant we didn’t have many topend trophies. Today, we are only allowed one antlered buck per year in Indiana. This means we now have a more balanced age structure of bucks within our herd. If a yearling buck is your goal, and it’s a worthy goal, this shouldn’t be too hard to do. Likewise, there are ample opportunities to tag 2 and 3 year-old bucks, and you might even get a crack occasionally at a 4-year-old or older buck. There is, indeed, something for everyone at this point in time. W

BE FAIR Be fair to your hunting buddies and family. Don’t look at their deer and tell them they shouldn’t have shot it. Let them enjoy the moment. And if it is smaller than they thought it was, they will know that. Be especially careful when a son or daughter gets old enough to hunt alone in their own stand. At this time they have to make their own decision without talking it over with you or another adult. They might shoot a relatively small buck or make a mistake and shoot a button buck they thought was a doe. Be complimentary to them at this time. After all, they thought it was big enough. Always remember that you can help them learn how to evaluate a deer’s rack in the field and also assist them in telling the difference between a doe and a button buck. Don’t criticize them, for they might sit in the stand worrying about whether they can make the right decision when the next deer comes along. Be patient with them, and they will have a far greater opportunity of getting hooked on the great outdoors and will experience a lifetime of enjoyment because of your actions. www.whitetailinstitute.com

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LATE-SEASON SUCCESS — When Food Plots Pay Off the Most By Bill Winke Photos by the author

L

ate season is the time when your food plots will pay off the most. Food plots are important throughout the rest of the year, but they are critical for hunting during the late season. For me, these past few seasons have confirmed a few things. First, you never can predict what is going to happen each season. That is a big part of what

makes it so much fun. You go into the season expecting to hunt a certain couple of bucks and soon find yourself hunting something completely different. The killer stand from last year is lukewarm this year. Food supplies change, affecting deer patterns and the neighbor shoots “your” buck. It is all part of the fun. Second, last season showed me that trail cameras

are the single best way to pattern big deer. They tell you almost everything you need to know. What an exciting tool. Finally, this past season confirmed that the late season can be just as good as the rut when conditions are right. It was an amazing winter of hunting. When I say the conditions need to be right, I mean

Mike Sawyer shot this buck on Jan. 3, 2009, during a warm snap as the buck was heading toward a feeding area.

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the weather has to cooperate, the deer need to feel comfortable and there must be an attractive food source. I’ll hit these keys to success one at a time. WEATHER I am going to tell you about four hunts that took place late last season. One was a classic hunt and the other three were somewhat atypical. The classic hunt took place in mid-December. It was five degrees that day. Snow started falling late in the morning; by noon, there were six fresh inches on the ground and drifts building by the minute. Our kids came home from school early. Since our daughter had a deer tag, we welcomed this chance to slip out to the cabin stand, start a fire in the old wood stove and prop the muzzleloader in an open window facing the food plot that was once the cabin’s “yard�. The evening grew still and bitterly cold with the passing front. These are classic conditions for late-season success; cold and snow push deer to travel to standing food sources where they can quickly and easily gain needed energy. We were on hand to watch. By sunset, the food plot was full of deer feeding heavily on the accessible food sticking above the new snow. One of the deer was a 150-inch buck that I had filmed in November while bowhunting from a stand nearby. He was now feeding just 70 yards away. He would make a great trophy for anyone. The fact that Jordan missed that dandy buck doesn’t detract from the fact that he was there and vulnerable. He was one of several bucks (the rest were all smaller) that made their way into the plot well before the end of shooting time that day.

That hunt is the classic vision of late-season hunting; cold, snow and deer in a panic to get to the accessible food. While these are definitely conditions I would look for when planning a late season strategy, you can also take great bucks under other conditions too, as these next three hunts will illustrate. The third ice storm of the winter greeted Chad Lathrop and me as we headed out on the afternoon of Dec. 27. The previous several days had been warm and the snow and the inch-thick coat of ice from earlier in the month had melted off the fields, opening them up so the deer could get back to the waste grain they offered. Now after three weeks of cold weather and thick ice-covered fields, they were hungry and ready to take full advantage of the warmer conditions. Though it was barely less than freezing out, probably in the upper 20s, seemingly every buck on the farm came out in the fields. Chad was along to film me as I hunted with my bow, but he also carried a muzzleloader and a late-season tag in his pocket. That way, if a buck came out that was too far for me to shoot, I could swing the camera over and film Chad shooting it instead. That is exactly what happened. Again, though the conditions were completely different, I found myself staring at another field full of deer. Right at sunset, a great eight-pointer came out of the trees at a distance of 50 yards to feed in the waste grain and was soon 70 yards out and well beyond bow range. It took us a few seconds to change stands, but soon I was filming Chad as he shot the magnificent buck. The third hunt took place on Jan. 2, 2009 as my friend Mike Sawyer and his cousin Chris Mack were hunting along the edge of an Alfa-Rack field. By this

time, all the snow and ice had melted away, opening up the fields for deer to graze. The deer were definitely taking advantage of it. Mike’s cousin was filming Mike’s hunt. It was a similar setup to mine and Chad’s. Chris had the muzzleloader and Mike had the bow. If a shooter came out close, Mike would draw down with the bow and if it came out in the distance, Chris would do the honors with the smoke pole. That evening, a dandy, mature 130-inch nine-pointer came out just beyond bow range. Mike grabbed the camera and Chris pulled the gun off the hook. As the buck stepped out in the open, Chris made a great 60yard offhand shot. Another late season buck in the back of the truck. The next evening, Jan. 3, Chris returned the favor when he filmed Mike as he shot an incredible 180-inch gross-scoring basic eight-pointer. Mike made a 40-yard shot with his bow as the buck also was heading in the direction of the open fields to feed. Similar to the previous evening, the conditions were unseasonably warm and the bucks were on the move looking for available food. It is a misconception to think that it has to be cold for late-season success. While a cold snap during a stretch of otherwise seasonal weather will usually encourage deer to abandon normal caution in areas with moderate hunting pressure, cold is not an absolute necessity for late-season success. We have shot many nice bucks on average winter days. The rigors of the rut are enough to push bucks to feed heavily during the late season. If they are not being pressured, they will fall into feeding patterns that bring them out during the daylight. However, if they are being pressured (or recently were pressured during the

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Successful late-season hunting requires a foolproof way to get away from your stand at the end of legal shooting time without alerting deer feeding nearby.

general firearms season) you will need more help in the form of unseasonably cold weather to cause them to set aside caution in favor of food. OK, so weather is one condition that dictates lateseason success. It is not as important as most people think, but it does play a role. A cold snap will get them feeding actively, as will a warm snap after a prolonged period of cold. Watch for both conditions.

food sources. Moderate to light hunting pressure is the perfect condition for great late-season hunting. However, you can still enjoy some success during the late season even if the deer experienced heavy hunting pressure during the firearms season if they get peace and quiet for at least 10 days. Then they will start falling back into natural movement patterns. Again, cold temps help when the deer are wary.

HUNTING PRESSURE A GREAT FOOD SOURCE It is always hard to kill a buck that knows he is being hunted and that is especially true during the late season when the deer have been hunted hard during the regular firearms season. We intentionally avoid deer drives on our farm to keep the deer as relaxed as possible. We do hunt the firearms season some, but we don’t hit it hard. Instead, we favor giving the deer refuge during this time and then hunting them during the late season when they are more vulnerable on the 50

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

Food may not be the absolute key to success during the rut, but it definitely is the key to success during the late season. Late season is when your food plots really pay for themselves. The rule: “He who has the food has the deer” could be called the cardinal rule after the rut. It is very difficult to shoot a good buck (or even a deer of any kind) during the late season if you don’t have a good food source. It is all about the food. Most

of the natural browse has been wiped out and the acorns vacuumed up by deer and turkeys in September and October. The deer are in search of something nutritious that packs an energy punch to help them stave off the brutal cold of winter. That is where your food plots need to come in. WHAT TO PLANT: Ideally, you will plant food sources that are highly attractive and highly nutritional to deer during this time of great stress. That means foods that convert quickly and easily to energy — carbohydrates are ideal. However, in their absence, deer will also convert protein to energy. Within the Whitetail Institute product lineup, that means you should specifically consider Pure Attraction, No-Plow and/or Winter-Greens for your late-season plantings. The nutritionists formulated these seed mixes to provide maximum forage and energy during the winter when deer need it most. Outside the Whitetail Institute product lineup, you would be looking at corn and soybeans, primarily. WHERE TO PLANT: The very best place for a winter food source is a secluded spot tucked away in the timber where deer can feel secure coming out during the day. But unfortunately, the notion of tucking an isolated food plot into the timber for months (you have to plant it during the spring or late summer, depending on the mix) without it being wiped out during the fall is not realistic. Typically, you should plant the small isolated plots to Imperial Whitetail Clover and hunt them during the rut. They make for some of the best rut hunting locations because the does will be in or near the fields and the bucks will be coming. However, for late-season food sources to survive long enough to do you and the deer any good in the winter when you (and they) actually need them, these plots generally have to be either big or conspicuously removed from deer habitat — or both. In order to grow enough food, I have to do a little of both. I have a few medium-sized winter plots (four to five acres) that are tucked away but can withstand my moderate deer density throughout the fall without being wiped out. But, I also have a few plots that are on the edges of my commercial farm fields (the ones we sell) that are not as large but help to feed deer in the winter, as well. Because these disconnected food plots are more exposed and the deer feel less secure in these places, the plots typically don’t get wiped out until late in the season. Also, they aren’t quite as good for hunting for the exact same reasons. However, when a cold spell follows warmer weather or a warm snap follows prolonged cold, the deer will hit these spots nearly as readily as they hit the more secluded fields before they were wiped out. Given my choices, I would definitely want only medium to large secluded plots instead of more exposed plots for all my hunting, including late season. But most situations aren’t perfect. You play the hand you are dealt or make drastic changes to the habitat. Instead of making my isolated plots larger, I prefer to leave them small so they are prime for rut hunting. I am content to hunt the more exposed areas during the late season. HOW TO HUNT LATE-SEASON PLOTS When the conditions are right, you really don’t need many hunts to be successful during the late season. It is as close to being a guaranteed deal as you will find when hunting mature bucks. While it is never wise to put all your eggs into one basket, you can be aggreswww.whitetailinstitute.com


sive when you see the pieces falling into place during the late season. In other words, don’t sit back and watch when the mercury is dropping; get right in there and set up for a shot. That is about the only difference between the late season and early season when bucks are also on food. During the late season, you should be more aggressive because it is easier to recognize when the odds are tipping in your favor. Yet the late season is similar to the early season from one important standpoint: If you don’t kill, you need to find a way to get back from the stand after the hunt without alerting the deer. If you don’t get a shot the first evening, you will likely need someone to come and move the deer off the field so you can vacate without alerting the deer. CONCLUSION Without a doubt, late-season success revolves around food sources. The better the food, the better the hunting. Every year that you have the best food in the neighborhood, you train the deer a little more to seek out your farm as soon as the rut ends. Soon, it will be a late-season buck sanctuary and you will know what I mean when I say that the late season can actually be better than the rut. Maybe you are tempted to skimp on your food plots or maybe you think they are not worth the effort. You spend the rut hunting deep in the timber; how can that food help you? All I have to do to refute that argument is point to the three bucks we shot (and the one we missed) during the late season last year. They were all coming to food. We had more action in just a few days during this time than we did during the entire rut. W

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

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Rocky Branch Outfitters 7390 Hwy 145 South / Harrisburg, IL 62946 (To Book) 618.252.8003 Fax 618.253.4868 www.rockybranchoutfitters.com Vol. 19, No. 2 /

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FINE TUNING FORAGES

for Maximum Fall Performance By Hollis Ayres

W

hen choosing a forage, don’t forget to consider the purpose you want that forage to serve in the context of your overall food-plot system. When it comes to maximizing the results from your food-plot system, planting only annuals, only perennials, or a combination can all be great options depending on your specific needs. In this article, we’ll talk about the third option — using fall annuals such as Imperial Whitetail Pure Attraction, Winter-Greens, NoPlow and Secret Spot to complement existing perennial plots. Regardless of whether you plan to plant annuals or perennials, there are two general categories of factors you should consider in making your forage selection for a particular site. The first relates to physical conditions of the plot, for example soil type, drainage and equipment accessibility. The second relates to the role you want the forage in that site to play in the context of your overall food-plot system. In this article, we’ll talk about the second group. For example, if your goal for the forage in a particular site is to provide year-around nutrition and attraction and early availability in the spring before natural forages reemerge, a perennial forage is the way to go. Or if you want the forage in that particular plot to provide abundant, highly nutritious growth for fall and winter, you might select an annual. In both cases you’ll want that site to meet a targeted need. Since this article is about using annuals to complement perennials, we’ll assume that you already have perennials planted and focus on ways to complement them with fall annuals. The

Whitetail Institute’s perennial forage blends are Imperial Whitetail Clover, Double-Cross, Alfa-Rack Plus, Chicory Plus, “Chic” Magnet and Extreme. Let’s look at why using annuals to complement these perennials can be such a great benefit, and how to get the most out of the combination. Increased forage variety. Have you ever noticed that most Whitetail Institute forage products are blends of different plant types? There’s a reason. Whitetail Institute forage research, development and testing are completely goal-oriented. Specifically, existing and potential new forages are developed and evaluated by how well they fulfill a host of goals, each of which is directly related to how well they will perform in whitetail deer food plots. These goals include early seedling vigor, heat, drought and cold tolerance, disease resistance, and of course high nutritional content and attractiveness to whitetails. Rarely will a single plant type excel in all areas. That’s one reason most of Whitetail Institute’s forage products are blends — each Imperial forage product is designed with the best possible components and in the right ratios so that the resulting blend performs at the highest possible level in all categories. Using Imperial annuals in conjunction with existing perennials can magnify this benefit even more. In effect, by using annuals to complement your existing perennials you are increasing the number of different plant varieties available to your deer. Consider Imperial Whitetail Clover, for example, which consists of annual clovers as well as the Institute’s proprietary Advantage

and Insight perennial clovers. Annuals such as Pure Attraction and Winter-Greens contain completely different types of plants. The forage oats in Pure Attraction provide a burst of high-carbohydrate food for deer in early fall right when they need it most as they try to store energy for the coming winter. Later, the brassicas in Pure Attraction and Winter-Greens become even sweeter with the first frosts of fall and stand tall in the snow, providing abundant forage for deer during the cold winter months. Broader-Based Attraction and Increased Tonnage. There is no question that Imperial perennial forages are highly attractive to deer, and they stay that way all year or most of the year at a minimum. Whitetail Institute annuals planted in the fall can boost attraction even further. Because of the unique requirements of a deer’s small-ruminant digestive system, deer seek out only the most tender forages, such as newly emerged shoots, leaves and buds in early spring. Annuals planted in the fall are extremely tender and attractive to deer, at a time of year when nature offers little to nothing in the way of highly attractive forage sources. Fall annuals also boost tonnage over that produced by even the best perennials alone. Generally speaking, fall annuals tend to establish and grow even more quickly than perennials. HOW TO USE ANNUALS TO COMPLEMENT YOUR PERENNIALS When it comes to structuring your food-plot system

Imperial No-Plow provides the benefits of early-season and late-season plant varieties in a product designed for minimum seedbed preparation.

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for your own specific needs, the Whitetail Institute’s lineup of forage products has you covered. Planting all annuals or all perennials can be superb options in many cases depending on the situation. A third option is to plant both annuals and perennials, and if you decide to go that route, here are two ideas that can help maximize your returns: plant the annuals in separate plots near your existing perennials, or actually plant them on top of the perennials. Both can provide an effective complement to existing perennials if done correctly. Planting Annuals near Perennials: One of the key benefits of this approach is that it helps maximize “linear edge” to help deer feel safer using the plot during daylight hours. In the food-plot context, “linear edge” basically just means “where the food plot meets cover.” The more linear edge you design into the plot, the safer deer should feel using the plot during daylight hours. The cover that linear edge borders may be actual cover — something that both humans and deer recognize as cover, such as a tree line or brushy area. However, it may also be something that deer only perceive as cover — something that they feel camouflages them enough to feel safe. For example, that might even be just a 10-foot wide strip of tall grass between two plots. A great way to take advantage of linear edge is with larger clear areas such as pastures and cutovers with bedding areas in the woods around them. By planting forages in sections of the clear area and leaving strips between them, you can increase the amount of linear edge without giving up much of the area actually devoted to forages. This gives you an excellent setup to add annuals right next to your perennials. Three superb choices for planting by themselves, whether near existing perennial plots or not, are Pure-Attraction, Winter-Greens, No-Plow and Secret Spot. Pure Attraction features the high early season tonnage and attraction of Whitetail Institute forage oats and winter peas. Later in the season, the brassicas in Pure Attraction and Winter-Greens can provide an abundant food source for deer during the cold winter months when perennials may slow production or be buried by snow. No-Plow and Secret Spot provide the benefits of early-season and late-season plant varieties in products designed for minimum seedbed preparation. Top-Dressing Annuals into Existing Perennials. Even if you lack the room to plant annuals right beside your perennials, you can still get many of the same benefits simply by top dressing your existing perennials in the fall with No Plow or Winter-Greens. Imperial perennial forage blends come with some annual forage varieties in them. These annuals are there to fulfill a very specific purpose: to get the plot up and going as soon after planting as possible, and start drawing deer right away. Generally, when seeds germinate the first thing they do is start building some of their root systems before they appear above ground. Imperial perennial forage plants do that very quickly. Imperial annuals often do it even more quickly because they have less root to build before they show up above ground. Once the perennials start coming up, the annuals have done their job, and the perennials take over. In some cases, folks may want to add annuals back into their existing perennial plots in the fall. Doing so can be a great way to boost attraction, and it can be a great way to get your plot full of forage plants again if Mother Nature damaged the stand over the summer. Winter-Greens, No Plow and Secret Spot can be planted without ground tillage and do not need to be covered. They can just be broadcast right over an existing perennial plot. If you are planning to do that, though, keep a few things in mind. Once thing to remember and plan for is that Slay, the Institute’s broadleaf herbicide for use in maintaining Imperial Whitetail Clover and any other clover or alfalfa, has a soil residual in it. The residual is there to help control weeds long after the plot is sprayed. In the same way, though, the residual can also delay you from planting the site in certain forages. How long you have to wait after spraying to plant depends on what you are planning to plant. The herbicide label contains a full chart, but if you plan on overseeding an existing clover or alfalfa plot in the fall with Winter-Greens, No-Plow or Secret Spot then don’t spray it with Slay the preceding spring. Another thing to remember is that you should try not to exceed the recommended seed rate when planting any forage. If you think about one square yard of your food plot, you can understand that having too many plants growing in a confined area can cause the roots to battle each other for space. This can result in the forage plants being less drought tolerant and perhaps even smaller than they would otherwise be. Accordingly, if you plan to overseed an existing perennial with WinterGreens, No-Plow or Secret Spot, keep the seed rate at no more than 1/2 what it would be if you planted them alone. 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. Once you’ve covered the few planting and maintenance issues I’ve mentioned, the only real limit on how you use these outstanding fall annuals is your imagination. W

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Vol. 19, No. 2 /

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(Continued from page 21)

these food plots every time I hunted them. I probably hunted 21 days. Enclosed is a picture of a deer I shot coming into the food plot in hot pursuit of a doe. I also had a picture of this deer in the clover plot in July. He must have liked it. He stuck around. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like next year. We plowed up another spot to be planted next spring, I will be buying some more product from Whitetail Institute next year.

Mark Paradise — Pennsylvania Enclosed is a picture of deer feasting in the Chicory PLUS. We have been seeing more bucks and larger bucks with the antler restrictions in Pennsylvania and we attract and hold them with the Whitetail Institute products.

Kevin Coubal — Wisconsin We planted Secret Spot by each stand and we see numerous large bucks there. See photo.

Knight .50 cal. black powder as he came to the food plot. Hats off to Whitetail Institute and all that work there, a good job well done.

Jack Michalek — Michigan Tim Douthit — Tennessee I bought a farm in Tennessee that was overgrown and not taken care of. I cleared old fields, soil tested, fertilized and planted Imperial Whitetail Clover and now have a nice deer herd. This year my son killed a 135 class 8 point on an Imperial Whitetail Clover field. A picture is enclosed.

I just planted Chicory PLUS last year, and it looks like it’s another good choice. I’m sending a photo of two of my best bow kills. This spring the clover has come up first and the deer are out eating in it well before night fall.

Dennis Gathright — Arkansas

Tom Broze — Minnesota I planted two food plots, one with Imperial Whitetail Clover and one with Chicory PLUS. I have seen deer in

We used Imperial Whitetail Clover on a few small plots and the deer loved it. Then we cut timber on the farm and made the plots bigger and we’re having great success now. After we select cut timber on our farm we also put in Chicory PLUS on some larger fields and put trail cams on them. It was unbelievable the traffic on

Bern Cushman — Virginia I have about two and a half acres of food plots that I started eight years ago. When I first started I planted white and red clover. Then I came across Imperial NoPlow and I have used it for the last six years with good results. I also use 30-06 Plus Protein. Here is a picture of a buck I took off these plots last November. I am eighty three years young. I shot him at 35 feet with a

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Steve Olson — Wisconsin

these fields. We have seen our herd go from spikes to 8-point bucks to harvesting bigger deer, heavier antlers and mass.

Bill Yoakum — Illinois Deer feed in the Imperial Whitetail Clover at all times of day and night. The plot has grown good each year. We have increased deer activity with the plots and have bigger antlered deer. We also have a very lush crop of Winter-Greens. It’s an excellent late season food plot. Deer feed and bed down in the plot. I’ve enclosed photos of an 11 point I took and a 13 point my wife, Elaine, took.

Last year I planted Winter-Greens for the first time. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. The amount of deer sightings and activity in that food plot was amazing. I killed my largest buck to date while hunting my Winter-Greens food plot. My WinterGreens seeds are already in the ground this year and will be for years to come. Thanks Whitetail Institute for such a wonderful product.

Kerry Bender — Pennsylvania We started using Imperial Whitetail Clover in 1990 and it has increased our ability to keep whitetails on our property and has richly increased the nutrition we are able to get to our deer. We love 30-06 Plus Protein

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í˘´ too. It definitely helps grow bone and helps the deer period. We used it since 1990 too. I’ve enclosed some pictures. number one shows some of the bucks we shot before 1990 and pictures two, three, and four show some of the bucks we’ve shot since 1990 when we started using Imperial Whitetail Clover and 30-06 Plus Protein. The buck I’m holding in picture 2 I shot this past year and he scored 147 inches. The buck in picture four scored 162-plus inches net. Picture 5 shows a stump that we poured 30-06 Plus Protein on. Thanks Whitetail Institute for making a great product line. W

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

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

www.whitetailinstitute.com

Vol. 19, No. 2 /

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THE ULTIMATE S SMORGASBORD PLAN A Year-Round Guide to Outstanding Whitetail Nutrition By Brad Herndon Photos by the author

By planting pear, apple, persimmon, or sawtooth oak trees, you can provide added nutrition for your deer.

everal years ago I was hunting a hilly region during the late December season. The land adjacent to where I was hunting had been in corn that fall and it had been picked in late October. Ears of corn were abundant on the ground among the stalk debris, making it fairly easy for a deer to get at the high-energy food source. Despite this, each evening I watched as whitetails walked across that cornfield on the adjoining property to get to the standing cornfield where I was hunting. The reason? The standing corn provided a much easier food source for them. A week later, I ended up killing a dandy 10-point buck near this cornfield. These days you won’t see the same situation in this area because farming methods have dramatically changed. With no-till farming and modern, updated farming equipment, it’s rare for any field to be unpicked in late December. Huge tires, and lots of them, allow modern harvesting equipment to literally float over wet fields, and the mechanisms on these combines are so fine tuned that when the harvesting is over one can hardly tell what type of crop had been there. Simply put, there is very little food left in the farm fields for the wildlife in the region. Things have changed with farming in the area, and the same goes for the natural browse. A couple of years before the December hunts just mentioned above, I was scouting a point in the hills and found the ground covered with acorns that had fallen from the numerous white oak trees on the point. A snow was coming in and I suspected the deer in this region would key in on this nutritious oak point food source. I talked my find over with a good friend who lived near this point and since my schedule didn’t allow me to hunt the spot any time soon, we agreed he should hunt the location the day after the snow came in. Early in the afternoon my friend trudged through the snow and erected a stand on the point and waited to see what would happen. Although there weren’t many deer in the territory at the time, well before dark deer started pouring onto the point. Eventually there were three bucks among the doe munching acorns, presenting my friend with a crack at an excellent buck. THE SMORGASBORD IS GONE Today I lease the tract of land containing this oak point. Interestingly, we never hunt this location in

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December for you will never find an acorn there in the late season. This is true for several reasons. First of all, the whitetails in this area were allowed to get overpopulated just before I leased the land and we’re still trying to get the deer numbers down to where they should be. Secondly, years ago there were few wild turkeys in the region, and now there are many — and they simply love the sweet, white oak acorn. And finally, as I found out last November when I killed a 214-pound boar, wild hogs from an adjacent county have finally expanded into our region. They will root up every acorn around since they have good noses, so they have further depleted nature’s available resources. By studying this section of our county, it’s easy for anyone to see a browse line in the woods, a stark indicator that the food smorgasbord found here only 15 years ago is long gone. It has affected the health of the deer in a negative way, and the drop in field-dressed body weights and gross antler scores point out this fact. OTHERS ARE EXPERIENCING THE SAME PROBLEMS Our portion of Indiana is not the only place experiencing this problem. Since I talk to numerous deer managers, I see this happening in various other sections of our state and nation as well. That’s the bad news. The good news (and I like good news) is that deer hunters who are serious about quality deer management are picking up on the native browse, deer overpopulation, and other problems at a quicker rate. Moreover, they are starting to take the necessary steps to correct the situation, regardless of the cost. The managers who are doing it right are reaping huge rewards in the form of great hunting and outstanding trophies. If you recognize that you have a diminished amount of food on your property compared to past years, in the following paragraphs I’ll share how to install a whitetail smorgasbord on your property that will result in both healthier deer, and higher-scoring bucks. Keep in mind at this point that www.whitetailinstitute.com

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even if you have your deer population under control, this advice is still beneficial to the health of your future whitetail herd. FOOD PLOTS ARE THE KEY TO A SMORGASBORD Assuming farm fields are providing your local deer little nutrition in the fall, winter and early spring, and also assuming the nutritious native foods have been depleted to a large degree, the first steps to re-establishing a quality food supply are very obvious. First, if you haven’t already done so, reduce the deer herd to the carrying capacity of your land. This may mean you will have to bring in family and friends to shoot doe, because killing, field-dressing and removing doe from your property can turn into quite a job. Once the deer herd is reduced, the next step is planting food plots with a variety of products that will supply your whitetail herd with proper nutrition throughout the year. Most likely this will mean increasing food plot size as well. For example, 20 years ago when most deer herds

were small and native foods were abundant, a deer hunter could plant a half-acre plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover and draw deer in quite easily. Now, however, if the farm fields are depleted in your region and native browse is slim, a half-acre plot of Imperial Clover can be browsed so heavily the clover hardly protrudes from the ground. Bigger plots is the name of the game. This may mean your food plots will have to be one to five acres in size. We are increasing ours in size each year, and we now have our plots in three different locations on one 283-acre lease. I’m quite sure Imperial Whitetail Clover is the number-one selling deer seed in the United States, and there are reasons for this lofty ranking. It’s a great investment since a plot can last five years if properly taken care of. Secondly, it tastes great and provides whitetails with incredible amounts of protein they so badly need. If you have good soil that holds moisture, by all means Imperial Whitetail Clover is my first planting choice for a whitetail smorgasbord. If your ground is a little questionable from a holding-moisture standpoint, try Imperial Whitetail Extreme. It’s high in protein and

■ Read Deer Sign to Estimate Herd >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Be honest when evaluating whether you have too many deer or not. If you can see a visible browse line, you have too many whitetails. Consider, too, that you may have quantities of saplings in your timber that indicate the appearance of available browse, when in fact they may be varieties deer will not feed on. A pawpaw bush thicket is a good example of this. It’s important that you know the types of native browse that deer prefer. Another indicator that will reveal you have too many deer on your property is the presence of ticks on your deer, especially the older bucks. You rarely read anything about the older buck/tick connection, but twenty years ago in a huge portion of North America the mature buck did not carry ticks into the fall months. This was true of my area here in Indiana. Then about six years ago ticks started showing up on our mature bucks, and each time they were in regions where the deer herd had grown too large. With lower nutrition available to these bucks, and the stress factor they incur during the rut, their bodies simply were not able to fight off the ticks. I have talked to a noted deer biologist about this deer/tick connection and he agrees the deer overpopulation problem is the contributing factor to this tick infestation. The figures for the deer-carrying capacity of the land vary depending on location, agriculture and food plot availability, type of soil, size of trees, types of browse, and other factors. Overall, though, the carrying capacity of a piece of land one square mile in size will normally be between 15 and 40 deer. Twenty deer per square mile is usually about right. A square mile is 640 acres, so you can see it takes a lot of acreage to properly support a few deer. Closely study the understory of your forest. In regions that are heavily over browsed you may see an overabundance of ferns and grass. The disappearance of flowers such as trilliums and other varieties is also a tipoff, as is the abundance of certain types of trees, such as black cherry. There are many other signs in the woods that indicate you have major problems, and I hope to discuss them in future issues of this magazine. Perhaps you don’t have too many deer at this time. Beware! Studies have shown a low-density deer herd can turn into a high-density deer herd in only seven years! You can do the math yourself on this and see how quickly it can happen. Better too few deer than too many deer is always the rule to follow in quality deer management. If you’re uncertain as to what product will work best in a specific food plot, then experiment. In one of our food plots about 1-1/2 acres in size, I wasn’t sure what product would work best since it was somewhat well drained. I divided the plot into three equal parts and planted it in Imperial Whitetail Clover, Extreme and AlfaRack Plus. In this case Extreme worked best for me. To kick your nutrition up a notch, consider using 30-06 Mineral/Vitamin and Plus Protein supplements at a feeding site. The exclusive flavor and scent enhancer assures quick and consistent use in the critical antlergrowing stage. Fortunately, many of you reading this article do not have a wild hog problem. Not yet, anyway. However, since some people think it would be neat to hunt wild hogs, they “stock” some in their area. This is illegal in most states, and these people have no idea what they are doing is a recipe for disaster when it comes to most phases of wildlife, especially quality deer management. In Indiana you can kill wild hogs 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Turn in any one you hear of who is discussing turning loose wild hogs, and if you have wild hogs, by all means try to eradicate them as quickly as possible. This won’t be easy, by the way, since they have good noses and are quite intelligent.

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is a mix of evergreen forbs, hardy clover and chicory. I’ve had outstanding results with it on our hilly, welldrained sections. Extreme will also thrive in low pH situations found in many areas. If your soil is on the borderline of being dry, Imperial Chicory Plus is a product you could try. It has the Imperial Clover in the blend, but it also contains WINA100 Brand Chicory. This mix was designed for climates where high summer heat and extended droughts can slow clover production. Another great product for drier soil, such as sandy soil, is Alfa-Rack Plus. It is well known that alfalfa withstands heat and dry conditions much better than clover, while at the same time containing great nutrition for a variety of animals, including deer. While AlfaRack Plus does contain Imperial Clover (for possible moist areas) and chicory, its main ingredient is the breakthrough X-9 alfalfa blend. It’s also a great investment since it can last for several years. The products I have discussed thus far are what I call the main course in the smorgasbord. Each product lasts a long time in a food plot, they are among the most nutritious of foods that deer prefer, and they provide food almost all year. Before going on, I do want to mention one other product that provides great food for whitetails, and that is Imperial PowerPlant. PowerPlant is an annual consisting of a mixture of warm-season forages that work together and offer a high-protein food source. PowerPlant grows an astonishing tonnage per acre consisting of small amounts of sorghum and sunflowers, along with large quantities of beans and peas. It better withstands heavy browsing, and is designed to be a supplement to Imperial Clover, Alfa-Rack Plus, etc. It is not a substitute for these other previously mentioned products. MORE FEATURES OF THE MEAL What I have mentioned thus far will feed your deer for approximately seven to nine months of the year. It could be longer than this in the South. This means we have to plant products to feed the deer during the harsh winter months, or provide them food in some other manner. This is where Winter-Greens, Pure Attraction and other products come into play. Winter-Greens is a brassica blend, designed specifically to feed — and attract — deer in late seasons. Typically, a hard frost triggers plant maturity which triggers a sweet taste. It’s at this time your food plot starts looking like someone has thrown hand grenades into it. This food is tasty to the deer and can be an important nutritional part of their diet in the winter months. Winter-Greens in my plots will last through all of December and part of January here in southern Indiana. I plant it in at least one-acre size plots. Pure Attraction is also ideal to use as a food source during late fall and winter because it contains the same brassicas found in Winter-Greens, plus it also contains WINA Brand forage oats and winter peas. Again, this product will last well into January in many parts of our nation and the oats and winter peas are a great transition food for the time frame between clover and brassicas. Oats are especially sweet when compared to other similar products such as rye and wheat. And if you want a neat way to do double duty with Imperial Clover and forage brassicas, then try one of the Whitetail Institute’s newest products — DoubleCross. This product gives you the benefit of clover early in the year, then brassicas in the later season. Of course the clover will also be good to go the next spring. www.whitetailinstitute.com


SOMETHING IS STILL MISSING The Whitetail Institute has a great lineup of nutritious products to build your deer smorgasbord with. Their staff will be glad to assist you with your needs. Give them a call.

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Even with the use of the quality products I have thus far mentioned, even if they are in sizable plots — and they should be if your timber is over browsed — we still have a period of roughly two months that deer are not delivered nutritious food in the northern tiers of our country. We need to fill in that time period so the deer are as robust and healthy as they can be coming into the spring fawning and antler-growing periods. We can supply whitetails the needed nutrition for this time period in several ways. Perhaps the easiest but most expensive manner of delivery is a feeding station. This way we can supply deer with needed nutrients via shelled corn, special blends of grain mixes or with Whitetail Institute’s new Results deer feed. As I said, this is expensive. If you can afford it, certainly this is a good option. Another way to provide a complex carbohydrate, high-energy food source for this harsh winter period is to have a large food plot of corn planted. Five acres is the smallest size I would recommend if you have very many deer at all. Leave this corn standing and deer will love it in late winter, plus the standing corn also provides cover and food for various other forms of wildlife. This manner of providing food for your deer is somewhat labor intensive, and expensive. Most of you know what the price of corn is nowadays. Finally, I come to the perfect way to provide food for the whitetails, and that is through native vegetation. Remember, this is what whitetails lived on all winter before deer managers and farmers came along. If you own your own property and reduce the deer

SOIL TEST KITS

Whitetail Institute

Soil testing is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the success of your plantings — of any kind. The Institute is pleased to now provide soil test kits and results for all Imperial products or any other type seeds. (Complete instructions and all related information will come with kits.) Test results include pH, phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Fertilizer and lime recommendations for maximum performance from your plantings will be provided. The average turnaround time is 24-48 hours after our lab receives the sample. The charge for the kit and results is $9.95. If ordered alone, add $2.50 shipping and handling for unlimited number of kits. If ordered with other Imperial products there is no shipping charge.

Please send ______ soil test kits at $9.95 each. Add $2.50 shipping and handling for each order regardless of number of kits desired. (There is NO shipping charge if kit is ordered with other Imperial products.) Cost of kit includes test results.

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Mail to: Whitetail Institute • 239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043 or CALL TOLL FREE 1-800-688-3030 Vol. 19, No. 2 /

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numbers, you can selectively harvest your land or do some tree stand improvement (TSI). This will allow new shoots that deer favor to emerge and grow. Study up on what might be on your land that shouldn’t be there and eradicate these items, whatever they might be. For instance, when deer destroy the native browse, black cherry, grasses and ferns often take over the understory of the forest, and they do not allow sprouts to emerge and grow like they should, if at all. Plant other trees that are beneficial to deer, such as apple and pear. If your property is short of oaks, determine which type grows best on your particular type of soil and spend some time planting these acorns or seedlings in your woods. Seedlings can often be obtained either free, or at a small price from state tree nurseries. Along edges, small draws, and those types of places, sawtooth oak will do well; and the good news here is that they will be producing an abundance of acorns in seven to ten years. You can purchase them at various nursery sites found on the Web. Even if you lease your land rather than own it, oftentimes the landowner will let you make native habitat improvement. I assisted one landowner I lease from by obtaining the services of a professional forester for him. This forester then advised the farmer how to selectively harvest his timber, and even gave him tax tips. It was a win-win situation for all of us. The farmer I lease the 283 acres from has much of this tract in the Conservation Reserve Program. These acres were planted in tough, matted grass that did prevent erosion, but on the down side provided absolutely no value from a food or cover standpoint to any wildlife. I tipped the landowner off to a new CRP program

To see how heavily browsed your plots are, build small exclusion cages in order to get an accurate comparison.

that gave him bonus points when it was time to re-bid his CRP acreage. Under this plan, the farmer goes in with Roundup and kills out strips of this grass each year and allows the strips to grow back up in native

FREE Trial Offer! Offer 1 — only $9.95 (shipping and handling) FREE all new DVD FREE N0-Plow™; FREE Imperial Clover™ FREE Extreme™; FREE Alfa-Rack™ PLUS FREE Chicory PLUS™; FREE “Chic” Magnet™ FREE Winter-Greens™ FREE Double-Cross™

vegetation. It then is mowed once per year in late fall. It’s amazing what is growing in these strips after three years. A few of the species are: blackberry and dewberry vines; poison ivy; various saplings such as white ash, elm, poplar, and walnut; flowers and weeds like butterfly weed, Queen Anne’s lace, ironweed, and several other varieties. For the first time in the eleven years I have leased the property, I see deer feeding in these CRP fields, and much of the food these strips provide are available to the deer during the months of January, February and March. Each year we continue to reduce our deer herd. And each year we try to put extra money into increasing the size of our food plots. We also are trying to provide a smorgasbord of foods in our plots for the deer. With the addition of the CRP strips that provide native browse, last fall for the first time in three years we saw an increase in our bucks’ antler sizes. We are encouraged that we are back on the track to success in a region that was completely over browsed when we leased it. Sadly, it should never have gotten to this point. If your property is still in good shape, be sure to keep it that way. If it has been over browsed, keep in mind that it will take lots of work and money to put the property you own or lease back into the type of habitat it should be. Despite this, I can assure you it will be well worth the effort to see a healthy forest and healthy deer when the job is complete. And in closing, I do want to remind you that the Whitetail Institute has a staff that will be glad to help you create the perfect smorgasbord of deer food products for your specific region. Give them a call! W

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.

(each sample plants 100 sq. ft.)

Offer 2 — only $19.95 (shipping and handling)

Same as Offer 1 — PLUS: FREE 30-06™ Mineral (5 lbs.) FREE Cutting Edge™ Supplement (5 lbs.)

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

239 Whitetail Trail Pintlala, AL 36043

“Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

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I

hate it when the first deer I see during the season is a buck in the 130s to 140s; definitely a trophy but not quite up to my standards.

BREADBASKET FOOD PLOTS Mid-West Food Plotting Presents Unique Challenges By Judd Cooney Photos by the author

I was perched near the top of a gnarled, spreading burr oak tree overlooking a prime plot of Imperial Alfa-Rack the first day of Iowa’s late primitive-weapons season. Normally, I wouldn’t have been hunting that early during the late season, preferring to wait until deer settle down from the firearms season. Plus, I prefer late December because frigid weather drives deer to food plots. But all my guided firearms hunters had filled their tags and headed home, so the deer on my leases had more than a week of peace, quiet and solitude. The unpredictable Midwestern weather had stayed warm enough to keep the hardy, resilient Imperial Alfa-Rack, Imperial No-Plow and Imperial Clover plots lush green — not exactly the hunting conditions you’d expect for Iowa in mid-December. I’d climbed into the tree stand an hour before shooting light to let things settle down. As the pre-dawn blackness faded to ever-lightening shades of gray, I saw the shapes of several does feeding at the far end of the ridge top Alfa- Rack plot. The sun was still buried in a layer of clouds, shedding just enough light for me to see the brown form of another deer as it moved cautiously from the heavy timber to the edge of the food plot. The deer’s blocky build and large frame indicated it was a buck. I focused through my lightgathering 8x42 Nikon binoculars and quickly verified my first impression. The buck’s white antlers stood out against the dark background, showing heavy main beams with long tines and 6-inch split brow tines. He was definitely a shooter, unless it was your first day of hunting, and you had access to several thousand acres of prime Midwestern whitetail habitat with 15 thriving food plots. Those plots were being hammered by more whitetails that were pushed onto our protected leases. Deer hunting for quality bucks doesn’t get much better than that. So because I had two weeks to shoot the deer of my choice, I decided to pass on the buck. BREADBASKET PLOTS If you hunt the breadbasket states of the Midwest, flourishing food plots can substantially increase deer traffic on your hunting areas or leases. In fact, they can increase the number of deer inhabiting your hunting area, depending on the size, quality and holding capacity of the area. The fertile soils of the Midwest produce most of the country’s corn and soybean crop, earning the region the name of the Breadbasket States. Producing an effective, desirable plot in the land of plenty — where a food plot is surrounded by thousands of acres of corn, soybeans, alfalfa, clover and other deer vittles can drastically

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improve your chances at a trophy buck. When I started an outfitting hunting operation in Iowa, I figured producing food plots on our leases to attract and hold deer would be a no-brainer. Wrong. I quickly learned that the rich, fertile loam soils of the Midwest were about 50 percent weed seeds just waiting for some joker to till, fertilize and plant them so they could take over.

Imperial PowerPlant is a great annual that provides the tonnage needed in high deer-density areas.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION One of the most important — and often overlooked or disregarded — aspects of breadbasket food-plot production is location. The easier you make it for deer to use your food-plot delicacies, the more use you’ll see at your plots. With the easily available abundance of nutritious and domestic and wild food sources in most Midwestern states, you can’t make it too tough for deer to use your plots. You must consider the lay of the land in your hunting area and surrounding properties. Most of our leases are farms or have heavy timber to provide sanctuaries, escape cover and bedding areas. Several of our better properties are enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, so they cannot be farmed or pastured for 10 years. However, 10 percent of the total CRP ground on a farm can be put into wildlife food plots and not harvested, which is ideal for an aggressive food-plot program. As mentioned, you not only have to consider your hunting land but also the surrounding properties, or you might get blindsided. One of our better leases has 700 acres of rolling hills, heavy timber and weed-covered CRP that has never been pastured by cattle. The area held a healthy population of deer when we leased it, and I figured the addition of several 3-acre food plots and some smaller plots interspersed through the woods would enhance the area’s attractiveness for deer. The second year of the lease, everything went perfectly, and every plot was doing exceptionally well. As fall approached, I was looking forward to the food plots helping put clients within bow or gun range of the trophy bucks we had watched during that summer. Unfortunately, I didn’t fully consider how the lush, succulent plots would attract neighboring cattle, which bordered our land on three sides. Also, I didn’t thoroughly check the condition of the fences surrounding the lease. Within a month, all the herds of neighboring cattle busted through the fences and made a shambles of our food

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. 62

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

plots before hunting season. One farmer’s cattle were badly underfed. It’s difficult to imagine the damage that 30 hungry cows and calves can to do a clover plot in several days. Needless to say, I was not happy, and after some serious discussions with the cattle owners about the value of my food plots, there was a joint effort to fix the fences and solve the problem. You can get bet your bippy I check those fences several times a year, not only on that lease but on all the leases with nearby cattle or horses. Surrounding crop rotations are another factor in food-plot planning. You must lay out your food plots to take advantage of deer travel patterns from one major food source to another and pull them into your plots for a snack. It’s much easier to pull deer a short distance out of their normal travel patterns to visit a food plot than it is to get them to completely change their routes. Lay out your food plots so deer can easily access them as they travel, and your plots will see far more use. If you plant a plot in the open, where a deer feels exposed and vulnerable traveling to or from it, whitetails may ignore it or use it only at night. Either way, you lose. OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

$

95 74 + $9.00 S/H

When planning food plots in any part of the country, a major consideration is the size of the plot. At times, food-plot size is strictly dictated by the size of the area available, and you might be limited to small plots on your hunting area. Size might also be predicated on the equipment you have. It wouldn't be practical to plant a 5acre plot if you only have a spade, rake and hand spreader. One of the problems I’ve faced with my food plots in Iowa is the sheer number of deer using them. Many of our smaller hunting food plots got hammered because our leases act as sanctuaries and are surrounded by vast acreages of prime agricultural land that support many deer. They got hit so hard they barely survived with enough growth to provide any attraction during archery season. We abandoned several smaller plots that were limited by size simply because deer ate them to the bare dirt by Oct. 1, and they didn’t attract enough deer afterward to be worthwhile. Currently, we have several 2- or 3-acre plots that are holding up under the deer assault. This strategy keeps my plots thriving so they attract the deer throughout early fall and even into the late season if the weather stays fairly mild. One way to alleviate some heavy pre-season use by deer is by planting in fall. We spray our plots with Roundup in late spring, usually after turkey season, and then www.whitetailinstitute.com


hit them again with Roundup mid to late August, a week or so before disking and planting them. This fall planting almost eliminates the major weed problem that plagues spring plantings. We’ve had much better results with these plantings lasting through early archery season and into gun season. Generally, by the next spring, these plantings are in great shape for turkey season, which is a great side benefit. Gobblers love to strut in the short Imperial Clover and Alfa-Rack patches. There’s nothing prettier than a glowing, iridescent gobbler lit up by the early morning sun as he struts his stuff for a bunch of hens in the middle of a bright, spring-green Imperial Clover or AlfaRack plot. Fall plot plantings work especially well on smaller hunting plots, which tend to get obliterated by overuse. The drawback to fall plantings the past couple of years in the Midwest has been the extremely dry fall weather. If soil moisture is low and there isn’t sufficient rain after you disk and plant your fall plots, you can chalk another year’s food-plot venture up to experience. Weather always has been the greatest food-plot adversary, and I’ve yet to figure a way to beat uncooperative weather.

of my leasers figured I needed a late-season food plot in a tight corner of his fields, surrounded on two sides by dense woods and a thick cedar bedding area. So he left me a half-acre of standing corn. I hadn’t planted a food plot in that otherwise superb location because there was a gravel road 100 yards from the plot on the other side of a thin screen of trees. It would have been tough for a road hunter to shoot at a deer in the field, but just the sound of traffic on the adjacent road was enough to keep deer from using the field in daylight. During a two-week cold period in late December, the deer devoured the farmer’s offering, and the only deer I saw in the field during shooting light were does and fawns. A quarter-mile over the hill, I had an Imperial Clover plot in another bottleneck of timber, isolated from traffic sounds or disturbances, and you could count about 20 deer — including a couple of dandy bucks — in that plot during good shooting light. One of my clients shot a heavy-antlered 10pointer on a trail leading to the plot at 3 p.m. one sunny, cold December day. CONCLUSION

THE EXPOSURE FACTOR Another factor I try to remember when laying out my breadbasket food plots is exposure. My food-plot planning is designed to attract the deer to the center of my hunting area and keep them from being exposed to other hunters or landowners. An, out-of-sight, out-ofmind perspective should be an integral part of your food-plot location planning. Several seasons ago, one

In the Midwest, food plots are one of the best tools for shooting big bucks.

Planting effective food plots in the crop-rich breadbasket states of the Midwest might not be the piece of cake it is in areas with longer growing seasons, milder weather and less food-crop competition. However, with the burgeoning whitetail population and proliferation of trophy-class bucks produced in the Midwest, plotting, planning and planting food plots might be the best tool for consistently getting within shooting distance of a trophy buck. W

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

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CALL TOLL FREE a FREE 2-year subscription to “Whitetail News” and a FREE DVD OR MAIL YOUR ORDER TO: “Producing Trophy Whitetails” — Whitetail Institute

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

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

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Big Bucks IN SMALL PLACES

Many of today’s deer hunters are being forced to hunt in smaller areas. The good news is that those tight spots often produce some of the biggest bucks every year.

Bill Winke

By Michael Veine

Chad Lathrop shot this buck last season as the buck was coming out into a grain field that had been locked tight by thick ice for nearly three weeks. A warm spell was the formula that spelled success — that and an attractive, accessible food source.

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I

t was the last day of Michigan’s archery deer season and my unused deer tag felt like it was burning a hole in my pocket. Even when the odds are against me I always keep a positive mental attitude when deer hunting. It was crunch-time though and I knew full well that my chances for success were remote at best and dwindling fast. I sat tight in my tree stand well beyond the point of enjoyment. Finally the penetrating cold, a sore behind and the lack of deer sightings convinced me to head for home. My house is situated on a small parcel of land and while my back woods are not what I’d consider prime deer hunting, it does hold a decent population of whitetails and the convenience of walking out my back door to hunt is awfully nice at times. Commitments precluded an evening hunt, so I slowly still-hunted on the way back to the house to give myself one last chance at success. I had barely covered about 200 yards when the sight of a deer moving ahead caught my attention. My growing despair quickly turned to optimism when I saw antlers. It was a decent buck, not a huge one, but on the last day of the season, any adult buck would have looked like a trophy. The buck scooted past me well out of range on an obvious search-and-destroy mission for does. I let him proceed on by until he was out of sight and then raced ahead to try and cut him off. After sprinting the 200 yards out to the road, I quickly ran up to my driveway huffing and puffing all the way. I raced past my garage and then cut back to the edge of the swamp where I hoped the buck would come through. I knew my property like the back of my hand and I was well aware of a deer trail leading through this natural funnel. I knelt down and hoped that I’d beat the buck to the spot www.whitetailinstitute.com

without spooking him. I kept up my vigil kneeling in the tall swamp grass lined with brush and small trees. With my arrow nocked, I scanned in the direction where I anticipated that the buck might emerge. Unfortunately, after 15 minutes without further sighting, my enthusiasm plummeted. As a last ditch effort, I pulled out my trusty grunt call and pressed it to my lips. It was a cold, quiet, bluebird day with very little wind, so my grunts floated out for quite a distance. After several grunt-calling sequences with no responses, I was ready to submit to defeat. I was feeling lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut when all of the sudden I heard a gentle swish from behind me. Turning around, my disappointment instantly melted away as a different and much bigger buck materialized through the brush. I was a little shocked at this sudden turn of events and my heart let me know the magnitude of the situation by thumping like a base drum in my chest. In preparation for a shot, I slowly pivoted around and began scanning ahead for a possible shooting lane along the buck's approach route. When he closed to within 25 yards, he abruptly stopped quartering towards me behind a thin screening of sumac brush. If he proceeded ahead, he would pop into the clear at about 10 yards distance. With no cover separating us at that scant range, he would certainly spot me, ruining any shot opportunity; so I decided that it was now or never. When he turned broadside to look over his back trail, I drew back the bow from my kneeling position. There was a fist-sized hole through the brush that was conveniently lined up with the center of the buck’s chest. Instead of concentrating on a specific spot on the deer as an aiming point, I trained my sight pin on the gap in the brush and then carefully squeezed the trigger on my old reliable mechanical release. At the shot he whirled and bolted across the marsh with a wide swath of crimson plainly visible down his side. After 100 yards, he slowed and began to falter; seconds later the muddy quagmire swallowed him up like a dog inhaling a steak scrap. After waiting about an hour, I approached the fallen buck, which had died right where I had last seen him. The incredibly lethal shot had taken out both lungs causing him to expire within 10 seconds. That "Backyard Buck's" beautiful head mount now adorns my office wall. Once again a small place had produced a filled deer tag and just in the nick of time. A growing trend these days in the whitetail woods is hunting on smaller and smaller parcels of land. Increasingly, larger holdings are being carved up into pint-sized properties and at a record pace I might add. Urban sprawl and escalating real estate prices across the country are the main culprits. These days it seems like everyone wants to buy a parcel of land in the quiet country for a building site or just to own their own piece of turf. Over the past decade, I’ve noticed some drastic changes in the woods on both private and public property: It’s becoming more crowded and the hunting is being reduced to tighter and tighter quarters. I really can’t complain too loudly about these developments though, because in the past decade I’ve experienced the best success of my entire deer hunting career, which spans over thirty years. My recent success has been distributed between both private and public land hunting spots. The secret to my success in these demanding locations is to apply smart “small place” hunting strategies.

LEARN THE LAND One major advantage of deer hunting in a small area is being able to develop an intimate knowledge of the land. I can safely say that I know every deer trail on the 38 acres that I call home. The deer’s preferred feeding and bedding areas at different times of the year are also etched into my mind. In addition, I also know where deer are likely to travel during daylight hours. Basically, I know the property well enough to hunt it very effectively. KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS It doesn’t matter if you hunt on private or public property, prudent deer hunters need to develop an intimate knowledge of the hunting pressure or general human disturbances in any given hunting area. On small private parcels, lands that surround yours will typically be pounded by others. Talk to the owners of adjacent properties and find out who is hunting where. Open communications often reduces conflicts and also makes deer hunting more enjoyable and successful for all. It is a good idea to have an agreement with neighbors before the season starts concerning recovering wounded deer. My neighbors and I have an agreement that if one of us hits a deer and it crosses a property line, we must first call or visit and let the property owner know what's going on before venturing onto their property. This small courtesy eliminates having to needlessly investigate a possible trespasser; besides, this policy also eliminates the temptation to rush the follow-up and often results in a helping hand. Public hunting grounds pose a unique challenge when deer hunting. Often, I actually scout more for the presence of humans than for deer. I simply will not deer hunt, especially with a bow, in an area that is being actively hunted by others. In this pursuit, I typically spend countless hours searching for the right combination of seclusion and available deer. Quite often, I will concentrate my efforts on a very small chunk of land in the middle of a vast public forest. I may only have one or two stand setups that are worth hunting among thousands of acres of land. HUNT WISELY On small parcels, over-hunting and burning-out a stand become a real problem. Even on my 38 acres, I have erected six different treestands along with several ground stands. I only hunt a particular stand when the wind is favorable. I will typically hunt my own land in conjunction with other public and private parcels so the pressure is spread out as much as possible. If you start noticing a reduction in deer sightings in an area, then the spot is probably being over-hunted. Entry and exit routes to and from stands need special consideration. I plan and clear those courses carefully so I can access my stands with minimal disturbance to deer. Even if it takes five times as long to get to a stand, it's better to avoid bumping deer. ENHANCE THE LAND Small parcels of property can be made into deer utopias by adding a few enhancements. Deer need quality cover and nutrition to thrive, and they also require a steady water source to survive. A well-placed

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food plot or two is one of the best ways to attract deer to your property. However, if you can provide a nearby bedding sanctuary along with a constant water source close to a food plot, then the deer will really take notice. I also like to spice up my property with plenty of 30-06 Plus Protein mineral sites. With proper planning you can attract and hold deer and also make them very “huntable” in the process.

Small, secluded food plots in thick cover can produce fantastic daytime feeding by deer.

SUBURBAN HOT SPOTS

can change a person’s attitude. It only takes one or two bad encounters and most people are more than ready to have someone take out some deer. I’ve had several opportunities presented to me in urban and even suburban areas where homeowners are being devastated by hungry deer. It really pays to present your hunting activities in a positive manner to anybody who will listen at work, church, school, and clubs or wherever you go. Networking really pays off, especially when deer become nuisances. BIGGER IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER

I once attended a party at the home of one of my wife's co-workers. In the past, I had some discussions with this guy about the subject of guns and hunting. He is not an anti-hunter, but like the majority of people in this country, he is just a non-hunter who doesn't understand modern wildlife management practices. We are both avid gardeners and when I asked our host how his garden was doing, he said, “Mike, grab your beer and come look at this.” He then showed me the remnants of his once-beautiful garden. All the strawberries, tomatoes, beans and other plants were chewed off right down to the roots. He pointed into the dirt and said, “Do you recognize those tracks?” I replied, “Looks like you've got a deer problem.” Hinting that I knew the solution to his problem, he then said, “Those !@#$% deer have ruined my garden and I’ve tried everything including repellents and even fences, and those !@#$!@#$ are still coming into my yard.” I was shocked because I had never heard this normally soft-spoken guy swear or get bent-out-of-shape before. It’s kind of funny how a little deer infestation

Small hunting spots are what you make of them. I would rather have eight to ten isolated, small, hunting areas than one large property to hunt. Typically, the larger parcel would be composed of the same family group of deer. Hunting pressure would eventually alter the deer’s travel patterns, degrading the quality of the hunt after just a short period. Conversely, with many separated small spots, a prudent hunter can rotate stands and keep things fresh. Each spot would be composed of a separate deer herd and the deer can be taken by surprise on each outing. In my home state of Michigan, I often attend off-season hunting sports shows like the Deer & Turkey Spectacular. At last year’s show, antlers coming from the most crowded regions of southern Michigan dominated the Spectacular’s annual deer contest. This is an area consisting primarily of many small parcels. It never ceases to amaze me that the majority of the biggest bucks in my state, some of which are Boone & Crockett candidates, are taken from this region. “Big bucks in small places.” Need I say more? 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 — ®

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“Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

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

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Longtime Imperial User Battles Oklahoma Weather To Come Out On Top By Bart Landsverk Photo by Kevin Wood

K

evin Wood knows his Oklahoma weather isn’t always perfect for growing lush food plots. In fact, sometimes the hot, dry weather makes it downright tough for food plots to thrive. Wood has learned, though, if you pay attention to details, use quality products and get a little luck from Mother Nature deer can benefit from the nutrition provided by food plots. And now Wood’s deer are growing healthier and larger because of his food plot efforts. “I’m one of the early guys who started food plotting in 1990, but I was like a lot of guys who didn’t listen. For instance, I didn’t have the correct pH in my soil for a lot of years. I never had it quite right. Now my plots are the correct pH,” Wood explained. “The Alfa-Rack is difficult to grow unless you get that pH to 7.0. Even with the Imperial Clover here in Oklahoma, you’ve got to get the pH correct. Now my plots are fantastic but in the early years they weren’t because I didn’t lime my plots properly.” Wood manages 300 acres in Oklahoma. He owns 40 acres of the 300. “I put in all of the food plots for this other family. The unique thing about this land is it borders a federal wildlife refuge. The potential for big bucks is real,” he said. “That’s why I bought the place six years ago. It makes for some very good hunting. It’s heavily wooded with rolling hills and sandy loam-type soil. It’s a very dry soil. The tough thing is you have to deal with extremes in Oklahoma and I will tell you that I’ve done some things wrong. I don’t live in Michigan where it’s easier to get food plots to grow. Perennials can die in a hot, dry summer. “Last spring my food plots were textbook. I mean they were beautiful. I almost sent pictures of them to the Whitetail Institute because they looked so good. I have fall plantings, spring plantings and I frost seed. This is what I do. I love to watch things grow. Last year was an exceptional year for moisture in the state of Oklahoma and the racks showed it. The Institute really needs to push the new Chicory Plus in a dry state like Oklahoma. That’s why I’ve tried the Alfa-Rack Plus. The Chicory Plus is a product that can survive the droughts we get in Oklahoma and it can really bring in the deer when its dry.” Woods said that his hard work has paid dividends. www.whitetailinstitute.com

The food plots have deer grazing in them and they are providing his deer the nutrition they need to reach their potential. “All of Whitetail Institute products are wonderful products. They do pull in more deer and the deer do hang around,” he said. “The improved health of the herd is a definite plus as well.” He suggests hunting off the plots at least 100 yards to catch the big bucks before darkness. Other tips for killing big bucks are to provide year-round quality nutrition, hunt funnels and transition zones to the food

plots and make sure you enter and exit the stand without disturbing the food plots. “I get way back off of my food plots to hunt the big guys,” he said. “They will be here if I keep the does here. I have a high concentration of does. That’s the beauty of the whole thing.” This tactic worked on Nov. 9 when he shot a 125-inch buck with his Mathews bow. “I was hunting 200 yards away from one of my food plots. The buck was working a scrape line. He came in at 12 yards and I got the shot. He weighed 140 pounds field dressed,” Wood explained. “The second deer was an 8-point with a 20-inch inside spread. I shot him at 15 yards with a rifle. He was a textbook deer. He was following a doe in the thick of the woods. These were refuge bucks. They are back in the refuge because there isn’t any pressure. There were 44 bucks on the refuge in one day late last summer. But once the acorns start dropping and once the rut starts swinging they’re all through here and it’s beautiful. There were eight wallhangers that were seen last year. The rain last year went right to the racks.” Despite the heat and droughts that can be commonplace in the part of Oklahoma where Wood lives and hunts, he overcomes these problems with persistence and quality products from the Whitetail Institute. He added that food plot managers must follow directions, be persistent and pay close attention to the fine points. “The pH is the most important thing to consider. Always pick the plots that have the most moisture for the Imperial Clover,” he said. “And follow the directions. I’m sold on the products. I just wish planting food plots in Oklahoma was easier to deal with because I’m from Michigan, originally. If you’re diligent and you work hard you can still have a lot of success with these products, even in the dry South.” W

Kevin Wood from Oklahoma shot this buck using Alfa-Rack PLUS, Imperial Clover and Chicory PLUS.

Vol. 19, No. 2 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

67


“Why Do You Hunt?” Your answer can

influence non-hunters

“W

hy do you hunt?” Have you ever been asked this question? If so, then you know how hard it can be to answer in a way that covers all the bases. In my own case, the first answer that usually comes to mind is, “Because it’s part of who I am.” Truthfully, though, we fail to satisfy an important duty when we give such a short answer. We’re most likely to be asked this question by non-hunters who are truly seeking information because they have not yet developed a stance one way or the other. As stewards of the land and its wildlife, we have a duty to educate these folks, so each of us needs to sit down and formulate his own answer so he’ll be ready when the question is asked. When formulating your own personal answer, keep this in mind. Every reason we hunt is an expression of truth. and truth is on our side. That’s why it’s so easy for us to counter the ravings of militant anti-hunters and to successfully educate others about why we hunt. In both cases, truth is the common language that people capable of understanding will accept if we present those truths in an accurate, personal way. Since each of us will describe those truths in a different way, I can’t tell you how you should do it. As an example, though, here’s how I describe them. First Truth: Every person has a duty of stewardship 68

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

of wildlife, and hunters meet that duty better than any other group of people. Regardless of whether one is a hunter or not, everyone benefits from the state of the natural world. In fact, humans could not survive without it. Accordingly, we all have a duty to protect and conserve it. Protection and conservation are not just matters of control. The Book of Genesis specifically says that God gave man “dominion” over all animals, and dominion is control and care. Together they are the very definition of stewardship. Over the last 100 years, no group has been as directly responsible for the success of wildlife conservation efforts than hunters. The proof is there in the recovery of waterfowl, game fish, and whitetail deer, and all one has to do is look at the sky, ocean and woods to see it. Second Truth: Hunting is the single best way to plant the seeds of good character in young people. I can directly trace my first early understandings of fundamental character traits back to a dove hunt I attended with my grandfather in the mid-1960s. He was very old at the time, and I was about 8 to 10 years old. He had allowed me to take along the new Stevens singleshot .410 he had given me the previous Christmas, but I ended up playing the role of bird dog more than hunter. The first dove I retrieved for my grandfather was still alive when I found it, and I took it to him in that

condition. As my grandfather took the dove from my hand, he looked directly at me and held my gaze. I remember that after a few seconds I felt my head nod. He then quickly broke the dove’s neck over the butt of his shotgun, slipped the bird into his vest, and we both turned our eyes back toward the sky. No words had been spoken, and yet even at that young age I clearly understood the lesson about our obligation to the game we had just taken. Later life added flesh to this first lesson in stewardship, each time broadening my understanding of it, and proving its truth instead of offering alternatives. It was years before I understood what the Book of Genesis meant by “dominion.” Likewise, I later observed the full extent of the huge contribution hunters have made to conservation of both game and non-game wildlife. That dove hunt was also my first lesson that respect cannot be asked for but must be earned. After the hunt, it took us awhile to gather my grandfather’s things and make our way to the gathering of hunters at the barn, and we were the last hunters to arrive. I distinctly remember the great respect the other hunters gave my grandfather, every single person stopping to speak to him and shake his hand. Several of the hunters described to me how my grandfather had privately helped them through some tough personal times. www.whitetailinstitute.com

Brad Herndon

By Jon Cooner


There is a reason why these early lessons about stewardship and character stuck with me through the years. The key is that these lessons were not told to me, but were communicated to me by direct participation while hunting with my grandfather. Whether you’re young or old, the best way to learn the deepest aspects of something you don’t understand is to participate in its processes. Third Truth: Hunting benefits overall functional health better than any other single activity. Now, before you raise your eyebrows, realize that I’m not saying that hunting is the best activity to meet a specific health goal such as building muscle, increasing cardiovascular capacity or losing weight. These are narrow goals that can be better achieved by narrow activities such as lifting weights, running and eating better. Rather, I’m talking about “overall functional condition” — performing the best you can in every aspect of your life. Hunting exercises your brain and body. For example, by now most hunters are studying and learning quality deer management principals. We also have to do some or all of the following: figure out how many food plots to plant and where, locate sites for them, determine what forages to plant, clear brush, evaluate soil tests, prepare seedbeds, calculate fertilizer blends and rates, and most of us who aren’t made of money also have to calculate the most cost-effective way of achieving our management goals. Later, we’ll need to scout, analyze our scouting data, topographical maps and other sources of information to figure out where that big buck we saw last year will be this coming November, and then stalk him. Hunting also provides stress relief. Most of us work

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hard during the week and run to keep up with family activity schedules and handle the daily pressures of life. Nothing clears you out and recharges you for the next round like a day in the woods. Heck, even non-hunters don’t need us to tell them that. All they have to do is read the bumper sticker that says, “A bad day in the woods beats a great day at the office.” Hunting exercises your senses. As hunters, we know that anytime we’re in the woods we’re more attuned to sights and sounds. Civilized life can tend to dull those senses with constant background noise, and hunting can help reset them. Hunting even helps foster healthy interpersonal relationships. John Donne was correct when he wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself.” Humans are designed to interact with other humans. Unlike some other activities, the folks you hunt with are like-minded people, which is required for true fellowship to occur. The proof is in the duration and depth of your friendships with your hunting buddies — those are the people you know you can call at any hour of the day or night if you need them. Fourth Truth: Hunting is the most objective way to broadly test your performance. Hunting allows you to test your performance in a broad range of areas. My own personal test is to try to sneak up on a whitetail and take him in his bed with an iron-sighted handgun. Each time I try, I stack the odds in my favor by planning, and that planning requires that I consider every possible variable, from where he’ll be to how I’ll approach and when. So far, I haven’t passed the test — I’ve been “busted” every time, and most often the reason has been that I failed in one aspect of planning or execution. When it comes to standards for measuring

success versus failure, the real world pulls no punches, especially when a whitetail buck is involved. Fifth Truth: Hunting is fun and rewarding. There are few things that bring me a sense of quiet, inner joy like the little things that happen to each of us only when we’re in the woods. There’s the feeling you have as you watch the first sunrise of the season from your stand, or when a robin lights within inches of you in a tree where you sit in full camo on a bow hunt. Each time I witness those things, I think about how much my nonhunting friends are missing. Nothing is as rewarding as having hard work turn into success, and nothing could be harder than going after a particular big buck and winning. You have to scout, figure out his patterns, set up on him and then not blow the shot. A single error anywhere along the way means you lose. But even when you lose, you still gain in that you learn, and eventually it will all pay off. So, that’s my answer to “Why do you hunt?” I hope it will help you decide how best to answer the question yourself in a way that will truly educate non-hunters who ask. Obviously there are lots of reasons you could come up with to explain why you hunt, but remember the key: the truth is on your side. If you ask me that question, though, I’ll probably just stick to saying, “Because it’s part of who I am.” After all, as hunters you already know what I mean. W Editor’s Note: If you would like to write an article titled “Why I Hunt” and have it considered for publication in the Whitetail News, send it to WINA, 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043 or email it to info@whitetailinstitute.com. All articles submitted become the property of Whitetail Institute.

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

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By Eddie Leroy

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WHITETAIL NEWS

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The Future Of Our Sport Christy Gardner — Tennessee

Enclosed is a photo of my six-year-old daughter Kaleigh Gardner with her first deer. It was killed on an Imperial Whitetail Clover field on Kaleigh’s Papaw Long’s land in Tennessee. Kaleigh’s father Derrek was hunting with her and it was one of the happiest days of his life.

Steve Scott — Alabama Another great hunting season here in Alabama and another first. My 11-year-old son, Jackson, decided he was ready to do the hunting himself instead of watching his brother, mom and me do the shooting. I spent the first few hunts enjoying spending time with him and convincing him on about a halfdozen occasions that he shouldn’t shoot that spike or four point. If he would just wait a little while he should probably get a chance at a decent basket rack 6-8 point. I was hoping to get him a chance at a basket rack 12-14 inch 8 point I could mount for him. Around the second week of December, we were sitting on a food plot planted in Pure Attraction. We were running a little late that day and didn’t get in the stand until 3:15 p.m. That was OK because I knew the best time would be the last 30 minutes of light. About 4:455:15 p.m.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2

It was warm, in the low 60s and a beautiful day. Around 3:50 another spike walked out from the east and we enjoyed watching him. About five minutes later I looked to the west and one of the biggest bucks I’ve seen in Alabama in a few years was walking onto the field at about 150 yards with another nice buck behind him. I told Jackson, “There’s the buck you want to shoot.” The sun was in our eyes and Jackson suspected I was messing with him, AGAIN. I assured him I wasn’t. He got his eyes shaded from the sun and asked “How big is he.” Well, I was already suffering from a minor case of buck fever and didn’t want him to get the fever so I said he’s a decent 6- to 8-point. But he is too far, the wind is good, let’s let him get closer.” While we waited for what seemed like three hours but probably 10-15 minutes, 12-15 more deer came out from all directions. It seemed the flood gates had opened. Several more bucks were in the crowd but none were as big as the one we were watching. The buck got to about 100 yards, and I told Jackson we need to go ahead and take the shot. As I got ready to put the gun up for him he asked, “Why am I shaking so badly?” I said you need to calm down, take deep breaths and let them out slowly. As I got the gun up and ready for him he asked “Why are you shaking so bad?” I ignored the question and told him to do as we had practiced, deep breath, let half of it out and squeeze the trigger. BOOM! The deer ran hard to the edge of the field, and I was worried he would get into the thick clear cut but he fell just before getting off the field. What a buck. A main frame 8-point with two kickers at the base. Jackson had him a 10-point and for sure he had a happy and proud dad.

Scott Camp — Louisiana I am writing to thank you for helping my 10-year-old son achieve one of his dreams, his first deer. The day after Thanksgiving we were hunting over a one acre plot of Pure Attraction that we had planted in early October. It was a cold, windy, rainy day and I thought our odds were pretty long. It was evident the deer had been grazing the Pure Attraction heavily but we had not had the opportunity to hunt this plot yet. We had just about given up

as it was getting pretty dark when a doe stepped into the plot and immediately began to graze on the Pure Attraction. My son slowly lifted his rifle and took careful aim. I was whispering to him the whole time but the deer was so focused on the Pure Attraction that she never lifted her head. I am very happy that even under poor conditions your product still pulls them in. Result one very happy 10-year-old. He would not wash his face for days.

Michael Flanagan — New York

We have replanted 20-30 acres of Imperial Whitetail Clover and have a good batch of young bucks growing up and we are seeing some nice bucks running around. My 16-year-old brother, Bill, joined the buck club this year by taking his first deer (buck or doe) with a rifle. Made a great shot.

Danny Sharpe — North Carolina Here is my wife Kirsten with her first deer. I worked hard for everything to come together for her this year, but the drought has been fierce on everything especially my food plots, but what did come up, the magic is there along with the magnets that draw deer near. I hunt a 30 acre farm which always gives me opportunities at deer because they come to get my Imperial Whitetail Clover and Chicory PLUS instead of my neighbors’ fields. Lucky me — I love Whitetail Institute. I’m a buyer for life. W

www.whitetailinstitute.com


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

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

Offer 2 — only $19.95 (shipping and handling)

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

800-688-3030 whitetailinstitute.com

The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail Pintlala, AL 36043 ®

Research = Results

“Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”


Whitetail News Vol 19.2  

Whitetail News Volume 19 issue 2

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