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G E A R. U P. SITKA’S NEW FOREST SYSTEMS, BUILT FOR THE VERTICAL WORLD.

TURNING CLOTHING INTO GEAR.

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Features

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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 ®

A Tribute to Johnny Appleseed

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, Jim Casada, Brad Herndon, Bill Winke, R.G. Bernier, Bill Marchel, Michael Veine, Dr. Carroll Johnson, III, Ted Nugent, Dean Weimer, David Hart Product Consultants.............Jon Cooner, Brandon Self, John White Dealer/Distributor Sales ..........John Buhay, Greg Aston Dealer/Distributor Analyst ............................Steffani Hood Office Manager...............................................Dawn McGough Internet Customer Service Manager.............Mary Jones Internet and Office Assistant...........................Teri Hudson Shipping Manager ................................................Marlin Swain Copy Editor ...............................................................Susan Scott Art Director .........................................................George Pudzis Advertising Director........Wade Atchley, Atchley Media

J

ohnny Appleseed was my kind of man. Anyone here at the Institute can tell you I am a tree-planting fool. And I tell anyone who’ll listen: The best time to plant a tree is ten years ago! Live oaks happen to be my favorite. I chose to plant them 25 years ago when I moved out here to my spread in Pintlala. They’re mighty slow to grow but every time I see one of my big beauties I have to pat myself on the back. I’m still planting them actually and I always think one day someone is going to silently thank me, whether they know Ray Scott or not. I was delighted to read Brad Herndon’s article on page 24. It hit my hot button for sure in a positive way. Planting trees and planting food plots are both things I dearly love and both are great ways to improve the environment we all share, akin to Johnny Appleseed’s endeavors those many years ago. It’s nice to think we’re giving a helping hand to Mother Nature. I’ve always felt that deep down in the soul of responsible outdoorsmen there is a desire to leave a

positive mark — to leave something better for future generations. As founder of B.A.S.S. I wanted to create the best bass fishing environment possible, not just for today but for the generations to follow, and I feel the same about food plots and sound deer management. What satisfaction there is to know that we as hunters and land managers can actually make a difference and build a legacy. Yes, there are things we can do as sportsmen and that is powerful stuff. An angler does a great thing when he releases his catch back to the water and a hunter does a great thing when he lets a spike walk or culls a doe. So, take a cue from Johnny. Plant some seed today whether it’s a tree or a food plot. You’ll leave your outdoors a better place.

Ray Scott

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EVOLUTIONof a HUNTER… With Food Plots Every Step of the Way By Charles J. Alsheimer Photos by the Author

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was blessed to have been born to farm folks. My dad and grandfather operated a 500-acre potato farm in the heart of New York’s famed Finger Lakes Region. My father, Charles H., was also a deer hunter who felt his only son needed to understand the deer woods. My journey as a deer hunter began long before I could ever legally carry a bow or firearm. When I was growing up in New York you could not begin hunting deer with a firearm until you were 16, so from age five to 15 I tagged along at my dad’s side or bird-dogged the local woodlots for other hunters. As I reflect back on those days I get goose bumps. They were great times to be young in America. Researchers tell us that hunters pass through five stages in their life. In almost every case they go from The Shooter Stage, where they need success, to The Limiting Out Stage, where they need to harvest as many animals as is legally possible, to The Trophy Stage, where bigger antlers take center stage, to The Method Stage, where hunting methods and the need to better understand the animal become the center of attention, to The Sportsman Stage, where the hunter realizes he’s lived all the other stages and shifts his focus to the bigger goal of giving back more than he 6

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2

The author and his 2009 gun buck, which he killed in a Chicory Plus food plot. He hunted this buck throughout 2008 and 2009 before finally harvesting it. The buck scored 140 B&C and has a 22-inch inside spread.

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has received from hunting. Though all five stages can stand alone, I believe The Trophy Stage, The Method Stage and The Sportsman Stage are interwoven. Up until 1973 my world revolved around the shooter and limiting-out stages. I had returned from serving in Vietnam, married, earned a college degree, and had yet to take what I refer to as an ownership stake when it came to hunting whitetails. With no real stake in the whitetail deer resource, I hunted whitetails with two goals in mind — hunt hard and kill as many animals as was legally possible. In October of 1973 this all changed when my wife and I bought a 200-acre farm — a farm that bordered the farm I grew up on. That fall my mind began to swirl with thoughts of what I was doing as a hunter and as a steward of the 200-acre resource God had placed in my lap. When we purchased the farm its open land had been dormant for several years and the timber had not been harvested in nearly forty years. So, the stage was set for something special to take place. In the winter of 1973-74 I took a topographical map of the farm and began marking it up with a pencil to show where I wanted to plant food plots, evergreen trees, and shrubs. In the spring of 1974 we planted 12,000 evergreen trees and 3,000 bush honeysuckle shrubs in open areas I felt would benefit wildlife in the future. That fall I planted our first food plot, a two-acre winter-wheat plot situated between a stand of red oaks and a prime bedding area. At the time no landowners in our area were planting food plots for wildlife, and I had no one I could turn to for advice, so I “winged it.” As blind luck would have it, the plot turned the area into a whitetail honey hole. As the years passed, I evolved as a hunter, landowner and deer manager. For starters, it didn’t take me long to realize that winter wheat was not the “golden goose” of forage offerings for deer. Along the way I experimented and learned about the whitetail’s cover needs and the different seed choices available to whitetails — everything from clovers, to brassicas, to turnips. This experience, by itself, has been fascinating. The ‘70s and ‘80s came and went and as they did, our farm’s wildlife journey began taking on a life of its own. Over time it was turning into the wildlife sanctuary I dreamed it would be. As the trees planted in 1974 grew, their individual plots gave the farm’s wildlife many more cover options to hide in. The years rolled on and we became more and more knowledgeable of the whitetail’s nutritional needs, which resulted in the planting of warm-season forages like Imperial Whitetail Clover. It took us a while to figure out, but eventually we came to realize how critical it was to have forages like Winter-Greens in place to help our deer survive our harsh northern win-

The author and his son, Aaron, with a bow buck taken on their New York farm in 1985.

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WHITETAIL NEWS

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ters. As incredible as all this has been for our wildlife, the human side is just as impressive. Winston Churchill was one of the greatest leaders of the last century. This Englishman once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” In many ways this sums up the journey I’ve been on since 1973. You see, my wife and I were fortunate enough to be able to buy our farm. Though unwritten at the time, our goal was to try and improve what God had entrusted to us. Only time will tell if we did the best we could, but this I know after nearly 40 years of trying. Thanks to those who paved the way to help educate hunters like myself in the finer ways of land and deer management, the wildlife in my little corner of the world is far better off than it was when we bought our farm. Back then no one thought of planting food plots for deer. They do now. Back then no one felt the need to harvest more does to insure the natural habitat was in line with our county’s deer carrying capacity. They do now. In 1973 no one even gave a thought to letting yearling bucks walk. They do now. Thanks to the vision of a handful of Steuben County landowners, a quality deer management cooperative was launched in the winter of 1990. Those of us who organized this group have spent hours educating and encouraging interested landowners on the importance of planting food plots, harvesting more does and passing up yearling bucks. The end result is that our local deer population doesn’t even resemble the deer population we had in 1973. The improvement in the areas I’ve mentioned has been astonishing. Yes, we’ve come a long way, but there is much more to this story. In the fall of 1977 our son, Aaron, was born, the only

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2

The author with a bow buck taken on his New York farm in 1979.

child my wife and I would be blessed with, but oh, what a blessing. The kid took to dirt, deer, and hunting like a duck takes to water. When he was old enough to stand he went to the woods with me. When he was big enough to carry a one-gallon pail of clover seed, he began helping me plant food plots. It was because of his food plot experiences that he came to understand the true meaning of hunting, land and deer management. For 25 years he’s been helping me make the farm better, make our deer better, and make our hunting better. Along the way he’s eaten a lot of dust, cranked a lot of fertilizer through a broadcaster, and killed a lot of does. Long before he could release his first arrow or pull a trigger on a whitetail he knew the importance of giving back to the wildlife that roamed our farm. It was not only a win-win situation for the wildlife but for us as well. One of the first things I realized back in the ‘70s was the way people managed their land totally changed the way they looked at the natural world. When we bought our farm deer were only on my radar screen three to four months a year. After I began planting food plots, deer were on my mind 12 months a year. A by-product of becoming a food plot practitioner was that I began thinking of ways I could help our deer through better forest management practices, everything from selective timber cuts to pruning the wild apple trees in the orchard we have on the farm. None of this went unnoticed by Aaron and my friends. It showed them a better way to steward the land. It also made for better hunting. In the early ‘90s we began to think of different ways we could improve on what we had accomplished. Before this our goal was to merely make sure our deer had enough food to eat. To accomplish this we planted big square food plots, with little thought given to how the plot’s layout could improve our hunting. As our www.whitetailinstitute.com


food plot knowledge continued to evolve, Aaron and I experimented with different shape food plots, laid out with wind direction and natural cover in mind. As you would expect, our hunting opportunities took a quan-

tum leap forward. A side benefit of our food plot program is the way we’ve been able to help our fellow man. As our hunting improved and bag limits became more liberal, our fam-

The author congratulates his son, Aaron, for his first whitetail, a doe, in 1991.

ily was faced with what to do with the does we were harvesting. We consume roughly three whitetails a year and my son and I are able to kill six antlerless deer each year between us. So, even without harvesting bucks we have to find a home for the others we harvest. Fortunately this has not been a problem because New York State has a Venison Donation Coalition program, which makes it possible for hunters to donate their harvested deer to food banks. Since its inception in 1999, over 750,000 pounds of venison have provided three million meals to needy families. It is safe to say that the increasing practice of food plot management has contributed greatly to this program. I now consider myself firmly entrenched in the last stage a hunter goes through, The Sportsman Stage, which means I’m getting along in years. Consequently, I find myself doing a lot of reflecting, thinking a good deal about my life as a hunter and landowner. The journey I’ve traveled on our farm has been a huge blessing, one I wish everyone reading this could experience. Yes, I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way, but I also feel we’ve accomplished a good deal here. When I started, I was hoping to become a better deer hunter and leave the farm better than we found it in 1973. Well, I may be a little biased, but if you could see the before-and-after, you’d agree it has happened. I used to travel to other parts of North America to hunt quality bucks. Those days are over. Now I just walk out the back door because of the deer resource we have. That’s a blessing. And thanks to an understanding of what food plots can bring to the table, I find myself excited about the future, because I’m convinced the best is yet to come. W

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WHITETAIL NEWS

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Imperial Products Help Grow Bigger Kansas Deer By Chad Stoll Photos by the Author

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started bowhunting in 1983 in southern Minnesota. Just like most bowhunters back then where I hunted, it was exciting to even see a deer while hunting. I shot my first deer, a buck and a doe, in 1985. As the years went by I started getting more selective about what I was going to shoot. I also kept hearing about these large bucks being taken out of Iowa and Kansas and just wanted to go down there to try to get one of those bucks. I hunted Iowa for the first time about 12 years ago and Kansas about eight years ago. I fell in love with Kansas whitetail hunting and started to look at buying a piece of hunting land down there. At the same time I started looking into food plots after hearing so many success stories. I talked to guys who were using food plots and they all led me to the Whitetail Institute.

One of six Record Book Bucks the author and his friends have taken over Whitetail Institute products.

I purchased my first piece of land in Kansas six years ago. It was 120 acres and the first thing I did was start looking into putting food plots on the land. I talked to the people at Whitetail Institute and they helped me out tremendously. I planted my first plots of Imperial Whitetail Clover. The first year I had cameras out and got a lot of deer but not many big deer on the property. The average “big” buck on the property was 130 to 135 inches. One year later that average “big” buck went to 140 to 145 inches and last year it was 160 to 170 inches. I bought my second piece of land — 145 acres — five years ago and another piece four years ago. I planted food plots the first year I had these properties and again saw the average buck size grow 30 to 40 inches. The last two years are proof of what can happen when the land is managed and when the deer are given the nutrition they need. 10

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2

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The Whitetail Institute is proud to offer Imperial Whitetail WinterGreens, 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 WinterGreens and give your deer a valuable source of nutrients for the winter season.

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Research = Results™ 12

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2

The author is having a great time sharing great hunting opportunities with friends.

Two years ago I had two friends coming down to hunt with me in November. I was hunting there myself in late October. It was Oct. 29, my second day of hunting, and I was sitting over a food plot that butted up to the timber. The food plot is 30 yards wide by 150 yards long. I was in my blind by 2:30 p.m. knowing from pictures from my trail cameras that some good bucks were coming to this field. At about 4 p.m. the first doe and fawn came out to feed in the Imperial Whitetail Clover field. Thirty minutes later a 6-pointer and 8-pointer came out and fed about 50 yards down from the doe and fawn. They worked their way down to me and each of them worked a scrape on the edge of the field. As the afternoon went on, I had another eight does and fawns come out and feed. At sundown a nice 10-point around 135 inches along with a 140-inch, 8-point came out and started chasing the does and fawns around. I was enjoying the last few minutes of hunting watching the bucks when I looked out my window at the scrape at the edge of the woods and I noticed a buck coming towards the scrape. With one look I knew he was a shooter. I grabbed my bow off my Bow Jaws bow holder; and as he stepped into the scrape and lifted his head to stick his antlers into the limbs, I drew back, anchored the pin behind his shoulder and squeezed the trigger. The deer took off back into the timber, and then everything went silent. I waited about 30 minutes to look for blood. When I looked, I found good blood. I followed it for about 30 yards and shined my flashlight into the clearing in the woods and there he lay. The 10-point ended up scoring 164 inches. I was excited beyond belief. I had taken a couple of 150-inch deer in the past, but this was the biggest on my land. All the hard work I put into it was paying off. On Nov. 11 my two friends, Russ and Scott, arrived in Kansas and ready to hunt. We all hunted the first night and all saw shooter bucks but nothing close enough. I was hunting to take a doe. The next morning my friends went out and sat over Imperial Clover fields on each of the two properties. I got a call about 8:30 a.m. from Russ that he had shot a deer. He waited 30 minutes and came back to the house and we waited for Scott to come back. At 10 a.m. Scott was back and we went out to look for Russ’ buck. We trailed it for about 20 yards and found his arrow. After another 30 yards we found his deer. It was a 152-inch, 10-point buck. It was the largest deer he had ever shot. We had two down with one to go. Scott went out that night and hunted over the same Imperial clover field where I had shot my buck back in October. He saw around 12 does and fawns, a couple smaller bucks and at last light a real nice buck. Scott went back to that same blind the next morning and at about 6:45 a.m. I got a call on my cell phone from him. He said he had just shot one. I had him come back to the house for a quick breakfast and we went back out to track. Well, it didn’t take much tracking as the buck went only about 50 yards with a great double lung blood trail. It was a 145-inch 10-point bruiser and it was the largest buck he had ever taken. The season was over with a 145-inch, 10-point, 152-inch 10-point, and a 164-inch 10point. Two of the three were the biggest the hunter had ever killed and all three deer were taken over Imperial Whitetail Clover fields in a matter of a few days. Now it was time to take out some does. I never dreamt it could get any better than the year before, but last season proved to be even better. Again, I had two friends come down, Scott again and Jason, to hunt with me in November. Temps were 75 to 80 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night — certainly, not ideal bowhunting weather. Jason got down there the afternoon of Nov. 9 and we both went out to hunt. I went to a new food plot of Pure Attraction I had planted a couple months earlier. Jason dropped me off about 3:30 p.m. and I went to my ground blind. It was 77 degrees as I entered the blind. I wasn’t expecting much to happen until later. Well, at 4 p.m. I heard some noise just on the www.whitetailinstitute.com


These Kansas Record Book Bucks were all taken on fields planted in Whitetail Institute products.

other side of my food plot in the woods. I looked out my window and I could see a buck thrashing a tree about 10 yards off the food plot. After about three to four minutes he finally got done with the tree and walked out into the food plot. It was go time and I drew back. He turned, quartering away, and I let the arrow fly. He took off back into the timber and I followed him and the noise as he ran off. I called Jason and told him I had shot one and I knew I had hit him good. He was on the other property so it took him about 30 minutes to get over to me. We went to the spot where I had hit him and there was blood immediately. We followed the blood for 40 yards and there he was — a main frame 10-pointer that scored 167 inches. That excited feeling NEVER gets old. Jason took the next morning off and went back out

the next night Nov. 10. He saw a few does and small bucks and one 125-inch, 8-point. Temps were still running very warm and the next morning he went to the Imperial Clover field where Scott and I had shot our bucks the previous year. By 7 a.m. I got a call from Jason that he had shot one. He waited about an hour and met me on the road. We decided to go back and have a bite to eat and give it a little time. We went back out at 10 a.m. and started tracking. It was a tough blood trail with very little blood but after about 45 minutes and at around 80 yards, we found the buck piled up under a cedar tree. It was a 154-inch, 10-point brute. By the time we got it field dressed and to the meat locker Scott had arrived. Obviously, with two bucks down he was pretty excited to get out there. We went back to the house and he

showered and got out to the ground blind at 2:30 p.m. I had told him I had videotaped a real good buck on my property that morning so I had him set up on a funnel that had clover fields on both sides. Well, Jason and I were driving around at 4:30 p.m. when I got a text from Scott that said he got one! I called him and he said it was down already. At 5 p.m. we met and drove out to where he was sitting and there it was on the edge of the Imperial Clover field — a 160-inch, 10-point buck. The season was unreal. In three days we had shot 167-inch, 160-inch and 154-inch bucks. To say we celebrated a little is an understatement. Food plots from Whitetail Institute are helping attract and grow bigger bucks and I’m having a ball hunting big deer and spending time with friends. It doesn’t get any better. W

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Vol. 20, No. 2 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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Unique 3-Part System Can Help Push Your Deer to the

“Cutting Edge” of Nutrition By Hollis Ayres

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s hunters and managers, we all want our deer to be as big and healthy, and carry the largest antlers they can. The Whitetail Institute’s line of Cutting Edge nutritional supplements are quite literally just that — the cutting edge that can help boost the health and rack size of your deer to the very top.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2

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Specifically, Cutting Edge is a three-part system consisting of Cutting Edge Sustain, Cutting Edge Initiate and Cutting Edge Optimize. Each part is specifically designed to meet the precise nutritional needs of deer during a part of their annual cycle. Cutting Edge Sustain is designed to help keep deer healthy and reduce their winter weight loss. Cutting Edge Initiate is designed to help deer recover from the rigors of rut and the cold winter months. Cutting Edge Optimize provides bucks with the exact nutrition they need during the spring and summer to take full advantage of the antler-growing season and help does produce bigger fawns and more milk. By now, most of us are aware that giving our deer access to proper nutrition is one, if not the most critical factors for creating a healthier deer herd. The two most common ways we do that are by supplementing our deer’s diets with high-quality food plots and providing them with nutritional supplements. The pages of Whitetail News always feature articles on the Institute’s industry-leading food-plot blends. Now, let’s take a look at how and why the Institute’s Cutting Edge line of supplements can complete your nutritional management picture. GENERAL NUTRITIONAL NEEDS OF DEER While we can’t cover everything about the nutritional needs of deer in this article, we can digest the many components down in a generalized way to four groups: energy, protein, minerals and vitamins. To understand why Cutting Edge is such a huge leap forward in nutritional supplements for deer, consider what is happening in the nutritional lives of deer during different times

of the year. Energy. Energy is not a nutrient in and of itself, but a product of other nutrients, mainly protein, carbohydrates and lipids. I’ll cover protein separately below because it is such a big nutritional component in its own right. Carbohydrates, basically starches, sugars and fiber, are the most critical component of a deer’s energy supply. Lipids, or fats and oils, are also very high in energy — two times higher in energy than protein — and they are important in the storage of fat for energy reserves during winter. Deer need energy throughout the year for many specific biological functions, for example antler growth in bucks, metabolism, and pregnancy and lactation. Energy, especially stored reserves, are particularly critical, though, during the fall and winter — a time when natural food sources are becoming less palatable (less digestible energy) and availability begins to be exhausted. The acorns of fall, for example, are very high in lipids. While such natural high-energy food sources are abundant in some years, they are often hit or miss, with some years seeing very low mast production. Also, weather and other factors can further limit mast availability. For example, abundant rain followed by a hard freeze after acorns have dropped can sour them in a hurry, further limiting availability. Protein. Protein is important to deer for a wide range of biological processes. Comprised of small components called amino acids, protein is the building blocks of a deer’s body. That’s true for all deer year-round, regardless of sex or age. Protein is especially important, however, during the spring and summer when bucks are re-growing antlers, does are pregnant and later producing milk for their fawns, and then for the

fawns as they are weaned and grow toward adulthood. Protein is not as critical to deer during the fall and winter as it is during the spring and summer. During the fall and winter, energy is the nutritional “king.” Minerals. Macro minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium are needed in comparatively large quantities to maintain normal health in deer throughout the year. Trace minerals are needed in comparatively smaller amounts, but they are still necessary for antler growth, bone formation, fawn development, lactation, etc. Most minerals have complex interactions, and when supplementing minerals for deer, the most important consideration by far is to be sure the minerals are used precisely in the proper forms and ratios for deer. Otherwise, the supplement can be at best less than effective and at worst dangerous for deer. The need for the amount of supplementation of these minerals, though, changes throughout the year, with the highest need occurring in the spring and summer when bucks are growing antlers and does are pregnant and later in lactation. Vitamins. Vitamins can be grouped into two main classifications. Water-soluble vitamins, or “B vitamins,” are produced by microbes in a deer’s rumen, and supplementation is therefore unnecessary in most cases. Fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D and E), which serve functions in antler growth and development, milk production and fetal growth are not produced in the rumen and are therefore commonly supplemented. WHY CUTTING EDGE IS SUCH A BRILLIANT IDEA I hope a light bulb went off in your head as you read the first part of this article. Specifically, did you notice

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.

Cutting Edge products are great deer attractants and some states don’t allow their use. Check your local game laws before using Cutting Edge products.

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Late winter to mid-spring — When bucks are regrowing their antlers and doe are entering the third 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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that deer are always simultaneously doing two things — using their bodies to do something and getting their bodies ready to do something else? For example, in the late winter bucks are using their bodies to find food to recover their winter health losses, and they are getting their bodies ready to grow new antlers. I hope you also noticed that while the combined process of simultaneous body use and preparation is continuous, exactly what it is that deer are doing and recovering from changes during the course of the year. For example, in the fall bucks are using and preparing their bodies for something just as they were in late winter — but in the fall they’re using bodies to store energy in the form of fat and getting their bodies ready for the rigors of rut and winter. And that’s the key to understanding why Cutting Edge is such a brilliant and effective product line — each of its three stages is specifically designed for the unique biological and life functions of deer at different times of the year. WHEN TO USE EACH STAGE OF CUTTING EDGE Cutting Edge Sustain (For Fall and Winter). By early fall, bucks have hardened their antlers, and the fawns of the previous spring have usually been weaned from their mother’s milk. It is this time of the year that deer are primarily concerned, in a nutritional context, with building fat reserves — storing the energy they’ll need during the coming rut and cold fall and winter months. That’s the time to start your deer on Cutting Edge Sustain. Tailor-made for the fall and winter nutritional needs of deer, Sustain is loaded with energy to help deer pack on reserves and help them stay healthy and

active during the rut, reduce weight loss and keep them healthy through the cold winter months. In addition, Sustain even has a buffering agent to allow it to be mixed with corn in a trough feeder for deer without the negative effects corn alone can have on a deer’s digestive system. Also, all three stages of Cutting Edge are scientifically formulated with the correct minerals in the proper forms and ratios for deer as well as both scent and taste enhancers that make Cutting Edge highly attractive to deer. I decided to mention that here, when describing Cutting Edge Sustain, because Sustain is the stage of Cutting Edge designed for use during the same time deer hunting season takes place across the U.S. The scent and taste enhancers in all three Cutting Edge products are extremely effective and include the Whitetail Institute’s proprietary Devour ingredient, which can be addictive to deer. Accordingly, be sure you consult and follow all applicable game laws before hunting over or near Cutting Edge Sustain. Cutting Edge Initiate (Late Winter to Early Spring). Cutting Edge Initiate is designed for use during the months leading up to spring green-up. For many of us, that has historically been a time when hunting season is a fading memory, and yet it’s a time when we should be concentrating hard on making sure that our deer have access to Cutting Edge Initiate — at least if we want the bucks we hunt the following fall to be carrying the biggest racks they can. There are two keys to understanding why that’s the case. First, the antler-growing season for bucks are of finite duration — it has definite beginning and ending points, and while those points may vary slightly from region to region, the fact remains that they exist. In

short, a buck has a fixed period in which to grow antlers; all antler growth must be accomplished within this period. Second, antler growth is referred to as a “secondary sex characteristic,” meaning that a buck will always use available nutritional resources in the early spring to put his body back in shape and recover his winter health losses before devoting substantial nutritional resources to antler growth. Taken together, you can see that the sooner bucks recover their winter health losses the sooner they can turn in earnest to building antlers. If your bucks have had access to Cutting Edge Sustain during the fall and winter, they’ve likely reduced their winter health losses. Most deer will lose body weight during the winter at least to some degree, and by providing them with Initiate, they can recover even more quickly and get to the business of building antlers in a big way. Realize also that the months leading up to spring green-up aren’t just nutritionally critical for bucks; it’s also during this time that does are pregnant and trying to feed not only themselves but also the fawns growing inside them. During late winter and early spring, does are entering the final stages of gestation in which 60 percent of fetal growth occurs. In many cases, mature does will be carrying two fawns, placing huge demands on her. Without adequate nutrition, the fawns can be born with low birth weights, and studies have shown that low birth weights in buck fawns correlates with smaller antlers when those bucks mature. Likewise, the doe will also be in less than optimum condition to lactate, which can inhibit the growth of her fawns. In fact, studies have also shown that a doe in poor condition will sometimes abandon her fawns when necessary to allow her to

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 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 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. 20, No. 2

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Cutting Edge can be used on the ground or mixed with grains in a trough.

travel to find enough food to survive. Also consider that at this same time of year, before spring green-up, natural food sources are often either unpalatable or simply unavailable. Natural vegetation has not yet emerged, hard mast and remnants from harvests of agricultural fields are long gone, and what little browse remained during the fall and winter has been picked over, leaving only the least preferred, lowest nutrient browse — if any. As I mentioned earlier, carbohydrates are the most important nutritional element for deer during the fall and winter. While they remain important during the months leading to spring green-up, it is at this time of year that protein, minerals and vitamins take over the lead roles in deer nutrition as antler growth approaches and does are entering their final trimester of pregnancy. Initiate helps deer recover their winter health losses quickly so that bucks can take better advantage of the antler-growing season, fawns can develop well within their mothers and have higher birth weights, and does can remain healthy and produce abundant milk for newborn fawns. Cutting Edge Initiate is specifically designed to provide the entire herd with essential nutrients during late winter until spring green-up. Initiate includes high levels of energy, 20 percent protein, the correct minerals and vitamins in the correct forms and ratios, and even digestive aids. And like Cutting Edge Sustain, Initiate can be mixed with corn at a rate of one 17pound bag of Initiate with up to 100 pounds of corn; and it also includes ingredients that actually help maintain and grow the digestive microorganisms in a deer’s rumen. Cutting Edge Optimize (Spring and Summer). Cutting Edge Optimize is scientifically formulated to provide deer with essential nutrients deer need to thrive, and for bucks to grow the biggest antlers they can, during the spring and summer. When it comes to antler growth in bucks, remember I said that the antler-growing window of spring and summer has a specific beginning and ending each year? At the beginning of the antler-growing window, a buck starts growing his velvet antlers—living tissue comprised of about 80 percent protein. Then, later in the spring and summer, the buck deposits minerals on the velvet antler matrix, making the antler harder until nothing remains but bone. Have you ever thought where a buck gets all the protein, minerals and vitamins he uses to grow and harden his antlers? Obviously, he gets some from natural sources, which are usually sufficient for bucks to survive and even grow antlers. Rarely, though, are they sufficient to allow bucks to truly maximize rack size. Given that deer antlers are the fastest growing animal tissue there is, you can see how important it is to supplement protein, minerals and vitamins during the spring and summer. And the huge need during the spring and summer for protein, minerals and vitamins and energy is not just for bucks. It’s at this same time of the year that does are in the last stage of pregnancy and later providing milk for their newborn fawns. Doe milk is extremely nutrient-dense, much more so than cow’s milk, and Cutting Edge Optimize can help does increase milk production. Cutting Edge Optimize supplements a deer’s natural diet with 16 percent protein, and the correct minerals and vitamins to assist in antler growth and doe lactation. When it comes to extensive research on deer biology and nutrition, no one is more diligent than the Whitetail Institute, and Cutting Edge is a prime example. Where else would expect to find a supplement for deer that’s this innovative and precise? If you want to give your fawns a head start toward being as big and healthy at maturity as they can, help push rack size as high as possible and help ensure that your deer stay healthy throughout the year, then push them to the “Cutting Edge” of deer nutrition. For more information, call the Institute’s in-house consultants at (800) 688-3030. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

Vol. 20, No. 2 /

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DOING IT THE RIGHT WAY IN ALABAMA! Meet Oscar and Samuel Barclay

T

he first time you meet Oscar and Samuel Barclay you’ll immediately know they’re brothers. Like most brothers they’re similar in some ways but very different in others.

Oscar and Samuel agree on some things. Samuel says, “We both thank God each day for our health, and we thank our 97-year-old father for our hunting skills and success. We also thank Whitetail Institute for the

quality of our deer and turkey.” In fact, Oscar and Samuel Barclay are two of the Whitetail Institute’s original field testers, having first tried Imperial Whitetail Clover in 1989. One way they’re

different is shown by how they came to be Institute field testers in the first place. “When we have a decision to make, Samuel is the one who usually says no, and I’m the one who usually says yes,” Oscar says with a smile and a chuckle. “1989 was the first time we saw Imperial Whitetail Clover in the store, and I wanted to try it. As usual, Samuel said no because he thought it probably wasn’t any different from any other kind of clover, but I bought it anyway. We planted it in the center of a food plot between two other varieties of clover. That season, the deer walked the two other varieties of clover flat to the ground just to get to the Imperial Whitetail Clover and eat it. Well, that sold Sam, and we have been planting Imperial Whitetail Clover ever since.” The Barclay brothers hunt mostly on the 150 acre farm they own in Coosa County, Alabama, and on another 450 acres they lease in Talladega County. Although more often mentioned for its high deer numbers, Alabama also has the genetics to produce some very respectable bucks. The key to fulfilling that potential is the same as it is in any area: deer must be allowed to mature, and they must have access to highly nutritious, palatable food sources as they do so. The photos Oscar brought with him when he recently stopped by the Institute show that the brothers have achieved great results by taking a long-term approach to both. When it comes to providing deer with high quality nutrition, Oscar’s photos showed that the Barclay brothers definitely know what they’re doing. The photos show food plots situated next to thick cover and with lots of linear edge to help deer feel safer using them. The Barclays are equally diligent about what they

Imperial Whitetail Clover has been the backbone of the Barclay’s food plot system since 1989.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2

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plant in their plot sites. “At first, we just planted Imperial Whitetail Clover,” Oscar explains, “and that’s still the backbone of our whole food plot system. Now, we also use other Institute forages such as Alfa-Rack Plus.” The forages shown in the photos also appear lush, healthy and vigorous, which is a tribute to the Barclay brothers’ diligence in selecting the correct forage for each site and planting and maintaining it properly. Even with the “green thumbs” Oscar and Samuel obviously have, they haven’t stopped with just food plots. “We try to give our deer everything they need so we also put out 30-06 and 30-06 Plus Protein on both the properties we hunt,” Oscar continues. “Since we started using the minerals we have noticed that rack sizes are heavier.” In addition to providing their deer with high quality nutrition the Barclays also allow their deer to mature before harvest. “Another reason our deer have larger racks is that we are selective in the bucks we take,” Oscar explains. “We have a general rule that we don’t take anything smaller than a 6-point, but really we judge things more carefully than just that — we also look at the spread and judge how old the buck is so that we don’t take young 6-points.” With all their successes, though, Oscar says that he and Samuel still find time to give something back by introducing new hunters to the sport they love. “Our harvest rules apply to us, but we let young hunters take whatever they want for their first deer. One thing Samuel and I both really enjoy is taking kids out for their first hunt. We love the excitement of seeing a child take his first deer, teaching them about safety and just helping them learn to love hunting as much as we do.” Success in any endeavor is measured by results. In

the case of Oscar and Samuel Barclay, those results are easy to see. It’s there in the trophy buck mounts on their lodge wall. It’s there in the beauty of their land

and the nutritional quality they have added to it. And it’s there in the wide smiles of the youngsters they introduce to hunting. W

Even considering all the success they’ve had, one of the Barclay’s favorite things to do is taking young hunters on their first hunt.

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Vol. 20, No. 2 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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Gary Keeler — Florida

Stacy Chester — Georgia/Oklahoma

Imperial Whitetail Clover is a magnificent attractant. PowerPlant worked extremely well in the sandy areas of our plots. It was very tolerant of the heat and dry weather when others around us were having their plots fail. Winter-Greens was a fantastic cool weather filler and strip planting mix. The planting was very simple, and the results were staggering! They devoured it!

Mike Deaven — Pennsylvania I took both of these deer on the same 160-acre property in Central Pennsylvania. We have four food plots and have seen lots of 1-1/2 year old bucks. We only harvest 2-1/2 and older year old bucks. My favorite food plot product is Imperial Whitetail Clover. It’s

excellent year round. Also, the deer hammered the PowerPlant in late summer and they couldn’t get enough of the Pure Attraction in October and November.

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Imperial Whitetail Clover is an awesome product. Deer will go crazy over it. It’s not uncommon to see 20-30 deer an afternoon on the clover plot on my place in Georgia. We also have a lease in Oklahoma and use Alfa-Rack there and you can see up to 50 deer an afternoon or morning as well. I would like to thank the Whitetail Institute once again. I was lucky enough to harvest my best buck to date in northwestern Oklahoma. I was set up on the edge of a cottonwood row and plum thickets. I had a huge field of Alfa-Rack to the North and I was between the deer and the food. I watched deer all afternoon back and forth, back and forth, and then out of nowhere he pops up. He was hot on the trail of a hot doe and I had him in my sights. I have always used the Whitetail Institute products and have always been completely happy with the results. So thanks for helping me harvest this nice 10-point 156-3/8 buck.

Michael Dekan — Wisconsin/Missouri I have been hunting out in the Northwoods of Wisconsin since I was as young as I can remember. I purchased my first shotgun at age 13 and have been hunting ever since. It is what I look forward to all year. Seven years ago, I purchased a 345-acre ranch in Seymour, Mo. (in the Ozarks) and use it strictly for whitetail deer hunting. I just love the sport. After purchasing the property and scouting it out I was very disappointed to see so few signs of deer tracks even though the land seemed ideal for deer. I was on a mission to find a way to draw the deer onto my property. I heard about food plots and decided I needed to give that a try. I purchased a tractor, a plow, a disk and cultimulcher over the next couple of years. In the spring four years ago, I had a soil test taken and learned that the pH was good. I planted my first food plot with Imperial Clover and Alfa-Rack. I have added two additional food plots since and now have three plots in different sections of my property. I bought myself a 4-wheeler and my wife and I take it

out at night and shine deer in order to keep track of the size and deer population. Every year I see more and bigger deer! After only four years it is not uncommon to see at least 20 deer on my property on any given night. We see 75 to 80 percent of the deer in the food plots! The enclosed picture was a deer I got last year. Thank you Whitetail Institute for the excellent products that has made all the difference. You made my dream come true.

Duane Branscum — Indiana Imperial Whitetail Clover is an excellent product. It worked far better than we expect-

ed. We had no turkeys, but now we have all kinds. Deer are heavier and are carrying heavier racks. We’re convinced that it provides enough of a food supply to survive winters with a lot less stress. See photos.

Russ Burns — Iowa We have only been using the Whitetail Institute products for about three years. Prior to using the Whitetail Institute products our farms had many deer and several nice bucks. We have gradually seen improvements over each of the past three years and we seem to have made a significant step forward this year. We have done a wide range of projects on the farms to improve wildlife habitat, almost nothing we do is aimed exclusively at whitetails, except our Imperial Clover plots. We are converting old brome CRP fields to native tall and short grass prairie, we have done a number of timber stand improvement projects, edge feathering, and regular burning. I think it is very unhealthy for us as hunters to manage land solely for a single or small number of species; however, I am a deer hunter at heart and want to see and harvest www.whitetailinstitute.com


a hand full of 150-plus whitetails. Thanks to Whitetail Institute and my QDM program.

The deer was in the woods 30 yards away from one of the food plots. It was a 13 pointer scoring 163-1/8 and weighed 215 lbs. This is a very large deer for Delaware. Thank you very much Whitetail Institute for your excellent whitetail products. I am a firm believer in Whitetail Institute food plot products.

Jason Schultz — Michigan Marisa Fanguy — Alabama

big bucks just like anyone else. That is what I love about Imperial Clover. I am able to plant a couple plots (3-5 acres) along with our grain food plots for upland game and attract and hold deer through the entire season. There are two observations that we have made this year that we attribute to Imperial Clover. First, we have seen more big bucks on the farms than the previous three years combined and have probably hunted less. Second, the does we have killed are some of the heaviest and healthiest we have seen. The layers of fat on these does is like nothing we have seen in the previous 20 years. We have been able to transform areas that had poor to marginal deer activity to very good areas with the addition of Imperial Clover; thus stretching our hunting acres. I will also say that we have followed the planting instructions closely and have had great success with spring and fall plantings We enjoy the difficult work of improving wildlife habitat on our farms. Planting the Imperial Clover added to our work load; however it has been the icing on the cake in our management plans. Thank you Whitetail Institute staff and my friends that encouraged me to use the Imperial Clover. I never had the negative experiences of using other products or using Whitetail Institute products incorrectly. Enclosed are some photos that Whitetail Institute is at least partially responsible for making possible. The heavy horned buck scored 164 inches and was nicknamed the clover buck because that is where he spent most of the summer and fall.

Dr. Ric Redden — Kentucky The deer l o v e Extreme and are seen in it every day. Dry weather did not slow up the evergreen forage. After six years it still keeps co m i n g back. I have

On Nov. 15, last season a very cold day in Greenville, Ala. I killed my second deer, a 10-point buck at 4:45 pm. I was sitting in a lock-on with my dad above me in his tree climber, when 5 deer came out on the food plot! Two 8 points, one 6 point, one spike, and one 10 point. My dad was simply shocked, to say the least. On my food-plot, my dad had planted Imperial Clover, Alfa-Rack Plus, No-Plow, and Pure Attraction. As the deer came out, I took my time, waiting for the deer to turn broadside so I could shoot it. When it finally did, I aimed my .243 and took the shot. I hit the deer with the first shot behind the shoulder on the left side. He ran about 80-100 yards, leaving no trace of any blood at all, making it a challenge for us to find him. My dad, Mr. Toby, and I went in search for the deer about an hour after I shot it. We followed trails, hoping to find a lead, but for a long time we didn’t find anything. All of a sudden we heard my dad screaming that he found it, so we raced over and right in front of us was my huge deer. My dad was flipping out over the perfectly symmetrical rack. This was the deer my dad had seen during bow season but could never get a shot at. Mr. Toby has a trail cam picture of him on his food plot, which is about 500 yards away. Sorry Mr. Toby. I was flipping out over my dad’s reaction! Everyone got a big high five. I was more than happy with my kill, especially since it has more points than my dad’s two 8 pointers. It was the kill of a lifetime. Thanks Whitetail Institute for a productive food plot.

John Powell — Delaware

I’ve taken Whitetail Institute products to two different states and all over the state of Michigan for over 20 years. I planted Imperial Whitetail Clover and Imperial No-Plow. I also use 30-06 Mineral and 30-06 Plus Protein. Within a year I noticed that even our 1-1/2 year old deer were growing bigger head gear. Where I hunt, not many deer lived beyond their first set of antlers, but every now and then we would get a 2-1/2 or 3-1/2 year old and I believe that the minerals and Imperial Clover really helped get some over the 125-inch mark. After a few years down state I took Whitetail Institute products to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I owned property but there wasn’t any field areas. I cleared some small spots and planted No-Plow and Secret Spot. Both of these products and the two 30-06 mineral products helped me to see an improvement in the deer in the area. Enclosed is a picture of my wife, Teresa with her biggest deer to date. There aren’t any farm fields in our area. It’s all big woods so this is a really good deer. I had planted No-Plow and Secret Spot in the area and also had 30-06 minerals out in this area for about four years.

David Lemery — Ohio I have planted Whitetail Institute products for six years along a scenic river in Madison County, Ohio, and the term plant it, and they will come, is a true state-

I have been hunting whitetails for 52 years but I have never planted a food plot for deer until two years ago. I was successful at shooting deer every hunting season but nothing big. The second year after planting food plots of Imperial Whitetail Clover and Chicory Plus on my farm I was fortunate enough to shoot the biggest deer of my life. (Continued on page 52)

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Vol. 20, No. 2 /

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A Step-By-Step Guide to

Food Plots (Part 2) By Jon Cooner Photos by Charles J. Alsheimer

“L

et’s get back to the basics.” No matter whether you’re in business, sports or any other endeavor, you’ve probably heard that suggested from time to time. And the reasons are simple: first, the basics are what we build on as we go farther and learn more no matter what our pursuit, and second, later steps depend on earlier steps having been taken, properly and in order. The same holds true when setting hunting properties up with food plots. There are four basic steps that should be followed if we are to get the best possible results from our food plot efforts. Here are those four steps, which we set out in Part 1 of this article. If you missed Part 1 or would like to review it, it’s available at www.whitetailinstitute.com under the Whitetail News link. We covered steps (1) and (2) in Part 1 of this article. Now let’s build on those first two steps.

county agents, agricultural universities and most farm supply stores. And remember — proper soil pH is the most important factor you can control in assuring a successful planting. (For more information on why soil pH is so critical, see the following on-line article:

www.whitetailinstitute.com/info/news/nov05/12.html) 2. Create seedbed free of vegetation. The main reason you should try to get your seedbed as clean of existing vegetation as possible is so that your forage plants will have as much root space as they need for optimum growth. If you are not able to rid the site of all existing vegetation, that won’t be a “deal killer,” but the more you can remove, the better the forage should perform. 3. Seedbed smoothness and firmness: Seedbed firmness and smoothness are not as critical with the Institute’s large-seed blends (Imperial Whitetail PowerPlant and Pure Attraction). Before planting these products, the seedbed should be disked or tilled; once that’s done, there is no need to smooth or firm the seedbed further before seeding. Seedbed smoothness and firmness are much more important when preparing to plant any Imperial forage product other than PowerPlant or Pure Attraction. All other Imperial forages are small-seed blends, and as such they should be planted on or very near the surface of the soil (no deeper than 1/4-inch). Once the seedbed has been disked or tilled, then the seedbed should be (A) smoothed so that it is free of all cracks, and (B) firmed to the point that your boot tracks sink down no more than one-half to one inch when you walk out into the plot. There are two ways to smooth and firm a seedbed after disking or tilling: with a weighted drag-type

Soil pH is critical for food plot success. It proved very successful for Camille and Earl Bentz in Tennessee.

STEP 3: CORRECTLY PREPARE EACH SITE FOR PLANTING For optimum results, all Whitetail Institute forage blends should be planted in a seedbed which has been prepared with the following characteristics: 1. Soil pH should be 6.5 to 7.5: Some Whitetail Institute forage products will tolerate soil pH lower than 6.5. One example is Imperial Whitetail Extreme, which will tolerate soil pH as low as 5.4. Two others are Imperial No-Plow and Secret Spot, which will tolerate being planted with very little seedbed preparation. However, note that I said “tolerate” — that means that these products will perform well in lower pH soils, but if you want any Imperial Whitetail Institute forage to perform optimally, soil pH should be between 6.5 and 7.5. The only way to be absolutely sure that the soil pH of your seedbed is within this optimum range by the time you’re ready to plant is to perform a laboratory soil test, and then disk or till any lime recommended in your soil test report thoroughly into the seedbed several months in advance of planting if possible. Be sure you use a soil test kit that sends your soil sample off to a qualified soil testing laboratory; and when you prepare the sample to send, be sure to tell the lab what forage you’ll be planting. That way the lab can precisely tailor its recommendations. High quality soil test kits are available from the Whitetail Institute, 22

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implement, or with a cultipacker (a roller). As I’ll explain below, which one you use to smooth and firm the seedbed is critical to what — if anything — you should do after putting your seed out. STEP 4: PLANT EACH SITE CORRECTLY Once your seedbed has been limed and disked, add

Proper planting techniques lead to great looking bucks like this monster taken by Steve Kravick in Wisconsin.

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fertilizer as called for in your soil test report. If no soil test is available, then add the amount and blend of fertilizer recommended in the Institute’s planting instructions for the product. Add your fertilizer just before you plant so that the nitrogen in the fertilizer will be at full strength. Once the seedbed has been fertilized and lightly disked in, you’ll need to smooth and firm the seedbed before you put the seed out. How firm and smooth the seedbed should be depends on what Imperial forage product you’re planting. The biggest difference concerns seed size. Large-Seed Blends: As I mentioned in Step 3 above, two Imperial forage products, PowerPlant and Pure Attraction, are large-seed blends. These products contain both small and large seeds and are best planted with a broadcast spreader, and then lightly covered with a drag or light harrow so that they are no deeper than onehalf to one inch under loose soil. Small-Seed Blends: As I also mentioned, all other Imperial Forage products are small-seed blends. These should be left at or very near the surface of the soil when planted.

If you used a weighted drag to smooth and firm the seedbed before seeding, your seedbed should be adequately smooth and free of cracks. Just broadcast the seed, and do nothing further after you put the seed out. Do not drag the field again after seeding. Cultipack the plot after seeding only if you used a cultipacker to smooth and firm the seedbed prior to putting the seed out. That will help seat the seed into the surface of the firmed seedbed. Be sure that you cultipack the seedbed both before and after seeding with small seeds, though. If you only cultipack after, the seed can be pushed too deep into the soft soil. However, if you used a weighted drag-type implement to smooth and firm the seedbed, the soil will still be loose enough for the seed to naturally settle right where it falls, so do nothing further once you put the seed out. Never drag over small seeds. Final matters: Some (but not all) Imperial forage blends benefit from an additional fertilization about 30-45 days after planting with a high-nitrogen fertilizer such as 22-0-0, 24-0-0 or 46-0-0. These include the Institute’s “Chic” Magnet and Extreme perennials as well as all Imperial annual forage products. If possible, try not to skip this step because it can really boost forage growth with these products. Also, consider putting small exclusion cages over part of your food plots so that you can monitor deer usage. The planting instructions for Whitetail Institute forage blends are as easy to find as they are easy to do – they’re right there on the back of each product bag and also on our website, www.whitetailinstitute.com. And as always, if you have any questions, the Institute’s consultants are only a phone call away at (800) 688-3030. W

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PLANT A SEED — Make A Difference! By Brad Herndon Photos by the Author

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ver hear of John Chapman? This name sounds familiar to many people today, but most folks can’t put their finger on who the guy really is until you say Johnny Appleseed. “Oh, yes,” they will say, “He is the guy who went throughout our country planting apple seeds that eventually grew into mature trees that produced delicious apples.” Yep, he’s the guy. Johnny Appleseed lived from 1774 until 1845 and while it seems impossible, he became a legend in his own lifetime, a rare feat indeed. Of course today we see people become legends during their lifetimes in the field of sports, such as Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jack Nicklaus, Nancy Lopez, Michael Phelps, Peyton Manning, Chris

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Evert, Wayne Gretzky, and others. But let’s face it, as talented as these guys and gals are, how many of them could have become a living legend planting apple seeds? Even in today’s age of electronics — TV, radio, Internet, cell phones, and more, the answer to the question is… none. Yet John Chapman, the apple seed planter, is still known to a vast number of our population today, although he has been dead for over 165 years. The reason this is true is because Johnny Appleseed wanted to leave things better for those people following him on this earth. He spent his lifetime planting seeds, establishing pioneer tree nurseries and helping the people around him in various other ways and made a lasting impression on generations of Americans. We as food plot managers can relate to what he did, for in our own way, we are doing the same thing, only on a smaller scale. THE MODERN WILDLIFE SEED PLANTING MOVEMENT’S INNOVATOR It’s well known that Ray Scott was the founder of Bass Anglers Sportsman’s Society (B.A.S.S.). In the fishing field, we can credit Scott with breakthrough ideas such as catch and release, live wells in boats,

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wearable personal floatation devices, engine kill switches, and many other boating and water-related conservation and safety projects. Interestingly, while all these fishing-related projects were going on, Scott was deer hunting — and thinking — on the side. Finding whitetails preferred white clover over other products in food plots, Scott set out to develop a specialty clover that specifically fit the nutritional needs of deer. In 1988 he had that product perfected and named it Imperial Whitetail Clover. The first year he sold more than one million pounds of this incredible product, and in the process started many deer hunters on a seed-planting endeavor beyond their imaginations. New products then came in a timely manner from the Whitetail Institute—Alfa-Rack, Extreme, No-Plow, Pure Attraction, 30-06 Mineral/Vitamin Supplement, and several other noteworthy items related to the nutritional needs of deer. During the next few years tens of thousands of deer hunters became involved in managing for deer and planted countless food plot tracts throughout our land. The result of these extraordinary whitetail management efforts was a striking increase in the number of entries into the Pope & Young and Boone & Crockett record books during the 1990s and early 2000s. IS DEER MANAGEMENT BIG BUCKS ONLY? I think almost every one of you reading this article enjoys seeing or killing a monster whitetail. They create an excitement within us that simply can’t be fully explained. Having a tall-tined giant come our way will send our heart rate out of sight and can wreak havoc

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on our nervous system to such a degree that we at times entirely blow the shot! Without doubt, wanting to grow trophy bucks was instrumental in initially getting most deer hunters into planting food plots, but as time went on these same people realized there was more to the deer management game than they realized. Some place within almost every hunter managing for whitetails is the desire to somehow make things better for wildlife, and for future hunters as well.

paid for with Pittman-Robertson dollars are hunter safety courses and shooting ranges. Obviously, we hunters have certainly benefited wildlife, hunters, and other Americans in a big time way with this money. Despite this fact, I still see many hunters who have the lingering thought that their management efforts are not contributing to the wildlife in their area in a meaningful way. They also have some doubts about whether they are helping or hindering other hunters. At this point in this article, let me put these less than positive feelings to rest.

ARE YOU MAKING A DIFFERENCE? FROM SEEDS TO TREES — AND MORE First of all, in answer to this question, yes, as a hunter you are making a difference--and have been since 1937. This was the year the Pittman-Robertson act was passed. This act places an 11 percent tax at the manufacturers’ level on sporting firearms, ammunition and archery equipment. This money has been used to restore wildlife populations such as turkey, whitetail deer, wood duck, black bear, bobcat, predatory birds, and many more. In addition, since 1937 a total of four million acres has been purchased with this money and preserved for wildlife and for use by future generations of this land’s people. This four million-acre figure, by the way, is less than 2/1000 of one percent of this country’s acreage. Our great country contains an amazing 2.3 trillion acres! It’s worth noting here that this ground purchased with hunter’s dollars is for everyone’s use. The bird watcher, the hiker, the fisherman, and even the antihunter benefit from this now-public land each of you hunters have paid for with your tax dollars. Other items

As deer hunters became more involved in managing for whitetails, they discovered through the many articles in Whitetail News, magazines and other reputable sources that while nutritious food plots were critically important to a deer’s health, other factors needed to be in place as well for maximum success. Inspired hunters started studying every aspect of how to put all the pieces of the deer management puzzle together, and where it was feasible from an owner or lessee’s standpoint, they took action. I know of several examples of this, one close to my home in southern Indiana. This particular hunter owns nearly 200 acres of land, and he first laid out several food plots in strategic locations on his property and planted a variety of products from the Whitetail Institute. The next step he took was to do a selective timber harvest in his woods, in the process removing trees that were unproductive for any type of wildlife. This improved the timber quality of his forested areas and at the same time provided better natural browse

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and bedding spots for his whitetails. Adding to the great food sources he already had, he began planting persimmon, apple and pear trees in locations that were open and had good sunlight. When he was done, he had provided the best variety of food sources possible for the deer on his property, whether they were up and feeding, or holed up in a bedding area. And he wasn’t done. Since he truly loved wildlife and his acreage was in a creek bottom region, he built a dam across a small stream with approval from the local conservation and zoning boards and created a wetland several acres in size. Today when he sits on stand within view of this wetland, he gets to enjoy watching muskrats, beaver, river otters, mink, several types of ducks, great blue herons and other types of wildlife frolic in or near the water. Obviously, the enjoyment he gets from watching this variety of wildlife is a great payback for him even though it doesn’t involve killing a monster whitetail. Neighboring properties benefit from his management efforts as well, so everyone wins in this situation. It would be interesting if we could compile a list of all of the wildlife now on his property and write those totals down. Then, let’s assume we could somehow take away every wildlife management change he has made throughout the years. Now, if we could, we would let five years pass and once again total those wildlife figures. I suspect the difference in wildlife variety and numbers would be a shock to each one of us. This illustration proves, without doubt, what a positive contribution he has made to the wildlife in his region. And he will be the first to tell you he has been paid back for his hard work in many different ways. Starting

off, he does, indeed, have a house full of dandy bucks. He also has a storehouse of memories that are priceless, for he has spent hundreds of days on stand on his property. And I know he was paid back this past fall in a most touching way. A few years back, this wildlife manager had severe back problems. Knowing this, a father and son offered to come over and help him put up some tree stands, asking for nothing in return. This past fall when the property owner was seeing three bucks on his property scoring in the 130s, he called up this father and son and told them to come over and see if they could kill them since he was looking for something bigger. Full of excitement, they came over and set up stands with the landowner’s advice for placement. Both the father and son were successful, killing two of the 130class bucks. They were the biggest bucks of their life, and they were happy beyond belief. Interestingly, even though the deer were killed off of this man’s managed land, he was just as happy as they were. Another type of payback for sound management practices. WHAT’S YOUR PAYBACK STORY? What I have just related is certainly a successful — and oftentimes touching — management plan carried out by a single individual, but I know each of you have your own payback stories created as a result of planting food plots. I know I do. For example, last fall as I sat in a ground blind with our granddaughter Jessica The Rascal Girl Steger and her dad Mr. Curt, I was privileged to watch as a big doe moseyed into our turnip food plot. At 34 yards Jessica double-lunged that huge doe (it field-dressed 134

pounds) and I think I was just as excited as she was. And even though she was just 11 years old last year, I have been able to hunt with Jessica and her mom JoLinda, our daughter, and watch as Jessica has put the tag on three gobblers. Although my wife, Carol, and I have taken numerous dandy bucks from our leased and managed land over the past thirteen years, and have had a great time together, those grandchild memories are hard to top when it comes to being paid back for all of our wildlife management efforts. Our great memories don’t only involve our family either. For example, the last Saturday of Indiana’s 2009 December muzzleloader season our good friends Mike, Shannon and Emma Winks went hunting with us. Carol passed up a good buck that evening, Miss Emma killed her first deer, a button buck, and her mom Miss Shannon killed a nice 8-point buck, which turned out to be her best buck ever. As Mr. Mike and I sat in the blind with Miss Emma and watched as she shot her deer, I turned around and said, “She killed it deader than a hammer.� Mr. Mike had a great laugh out of that line, and each of us has wonderful memories of that evening hunt with good friends. Now that, folks, is a priceless payback. OTHER WAYS YOU ARE CONTRIBUTING Whether you realize it or not, right now you are responsible for me making a living. Without you planting those seeds, I wouldn’t be writing this article. Nor would the folks at the Whitetail Institute have a job. You keep a certain number of employees paid at fer-

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

for Imperial WhitetailÂŽ Winter-Greens™ and Tall Tine Tubers™ í˘ą Call for planting dates ě?ˆ Sept 15 - Nov 15 í˘˛ Call for planting dates ě?‰ North: Sept 5 - Nov 1 Central: Sept 15 - Nov 15 í˘ł July1 - August 1* South: Sept 25 - Nov 15 í˘´ Coastal: Aug 15 - Sept 30 ě”ˆ North: Aug 15 - Oct 1 Southern Piedmont: Aug 1 - Sept 15 Mountain Valleys: July 15 - Sept 15

í˘ľ July 15 - Sept 15 í˘ś Aug 1 - Oct 1 í˘ˇ North: July 15 - Sept 15 South: Aug1 - Oct 1

í˘¸ North: June 20 - Aug 1 South: July 5 - Aug 15

í˘š July 1 - Aug 15 ě?… July 15 - Sept 15* 26

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2

South: Sept 5 - Oct 20

씉 North: Sept 5 - Oct 30

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

씊 Coastal: Sept 1 - Oct 1 Piedmont: Aug 15 - Sept 20 Mountain Valleys: Aug 5 - Sept 15

씋 North: Sept 15 - Nov 15

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

ě”Œ July 15 - Sept 1 ě”? Aug1 - Sept 30 www.whitetailinstitute.com


Carol Herndon, the author’s wife, has taken many nice bucks from their family managed property.

you will plant those food plots again next spring. Here’s how I know. My good friend Charlie Alsheimer, a valued contributor to Whitetail News, does more than 50 speaking engagements in churches every year and all of his seminars relate to deer biology, deer hunting, and quality deer management. His survey over the past five years of nearly 1,000 people who carry out QDM reveals 95 percent of them will do it again, regardless of the past droughts, floods and monetary costs involved along the way, and the mistakes they have made. It goes to show special memories of time spent with family and friends, and an abundance of wildlife, are sufficient rewards for the time invested. In closing, my hat is always off to someone who is an innovator like Ray Scott, whose seeds got us started in QDM. I’m betting Ray and his sons, Steve and Wilson, also have a great feeling about the seeds they have sown, and the people they have helped start in wildlife management with their quality products, and the educational articles they have shared. And I know they have that wonderful feeling not because they made a dollar, but because they made a difference. W

My Biggest Personal Payback From Food Plots

tilizer and chemical companies. People at lime companies and ATV, tractor and implement factories also owe their livelihood to each of you. And this list could go on and on because you have a huge, positive, economic impact on our economy at a time when it’s vitally needed. You help feed people too, not just animals and birds. Every time the farmer we lease from goes by our food plots and sees whitetails munching our Imperial Whitetail Clover he has a smile on his face. Can you imagine how much corn and soybeans we save the farmer by planting our tracts in products deer find so palatable? If you added it all up, it would be sizable, and the millions of bushels of grain we all save with our food plots no doubt feeds a lot of people. Little noticed, but true, is the fact deer plot managers are great teachers of the natural world, so this knowledge and passion is passed along to others as well. You can’t get this kind of education in a class room. Don’t forget, either, that you’re instilling a great work ethic in your children, grandchildren and other children who help you work those food plot tracts. We’ll all agree a better work ethic is needed in today’s society. So as you reflect back on your years of working and planting food plots for whitetails and wildlife, always remember you are making a difference not only in the lives of wildlife, but in people’s lives too. Fascinatingly, even in these tough economic conditions, almost all of www.whitetailinstitute.com

“My daddy always said that you should leave the land better than you received it. We’ve taken our marginal soils here in Alabama and improved the quality of the land tremendously, with the result being a dramatic increase in our wildlife numbers. Managing for wildlife properly enhances not only the quality of your whole life, but the quality of your families’ lives and those of your friends as well. I’ve been able to see my daddy and mom be successful many times over our food plots, even into their 70s and 80s. To me, the memories from our food plots have been priceless.” — Tes Randle Jolly, Alabama.

“Personally, I have tons of personal paybacks from food plots. Yes, both Aaron and I have killed some very nice New York whitetails because of the food plots we've planted; yes, I've taken some photos I never would have taken without food plots. But probably the biggest benefit is that Aaron and I have done them together… food plots have allowed us to make a lot of dreams together and the beauty is that so many have come true. When a father and son are able to play with dirt, manage a property, and hunt it successfully, the payoff is special.” — Charlie Alsheimer, New York.

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A r o W f O I N E O TH CRIPTI S E PR , field Biologist h c t i om L rogram T y B eer P R D tos by Bill Winke N D Pho Iowa

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eople often ask, “How it is that Iowa and other Midwestern states can produce mature whitetails with large antlers on a frequent basis?” The easiest answer to this question is that the area has all the components necessary for the production of a quality whitetail deer herd. One of the most important components in Iowa is its fertile soils, which allow the land to grow nutrient-rich, nutritious forages. The moderate, temperate climate is also important. Although the state has cold winters that help break up disease and parasite cycles, the winters are not extremely cold and the deer herd usually does not have to contend with extended periods of deep snow. The summers are warm, but usually, not too dry. The combination of fertile soils and favorable cli28

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2

matic conditions is enhanced by the mixture of natural and agricultural habitats that comprise Iowa’s landscape. Timber, brush, and prairie habitat types provide nutritious hard and soft mast crops, browse, and forbs. The two main crops of Iowa, corn and soybeans, are prevalent throughout the state and provide a tremendous benefit to the deer herd as well as other wildlife. This is especially true during the late fall and winter months when waste grain in fields is still available for the animals except during severe winters. Midwestern deer have also proven to be of good genetic stock but, more importantly, the habitat with its high plane of nutrition allows them to express their genetic potential. Even in Iowa, the overall deer density in relation to the habitat plays a very important role in enabling the deer to maintain this high level of nutrition. Iowa’s deer herd has always been managed by social tolerances and not by biological carrying capacity considerations. This has kept deer densities well below carrying capacity in the state as a whole and lower than the densities of other Midwestern states. Not only do the moderate densities help ensure that Iowa’s deer have access to very nutritious food resources, it also helps mitigate social stress within the herd which can have negative impacts. With a high plane of nutrition comes more rapid development and in Iowa one example of this is that typically more than

50 percent of the female fawns will be bred their first fall. The last ingredient needed in the mix in order for a deer herd to express its genetic potential is age. Since hunting is the major mortality factor in the deer herd, the number and types of deer harvested have the biggest impact on the population and age structure. When Iowa initiated its first modern deer seasons it began a tradition that proved to be fortuitous. The firearm deer season (shotguns for Iowa) was established in December because after the crops were harvested, farmers would have more time to hunt, deer would be more accessible, and the hunt would not interfere with the pheasant season. This resulted in a scenario in which the majority of the bucks were harvested after the rut, when mature bucks were less vulnerable. Iowa also differs from many states in that anydeer licenses were always a component of Iowa deer hunting and Iowans have never been averse to harvesting antlerless animals. The length of the shotgun seasons also encourages hunters to harvest antlerless deer. This shorter season timeframe with two shotgun seasons provides multiple opening weekends. The enthusiasm associated with these events helps to increase the harvest. www.whitetailinstitute.com


This has produced a deer herd where the antlered component is subjected to significantly less mortality when it is most vulnerable and an antlerless component that is willingly harvested by Iowa hunters. The final product is an older-aged male herd component, a more natural breeding season, population control through the harvest of does, and more balanced sex ratios. The quality of Iowa’s deer herd and being known for “big bucks” also can create issues and desires that can negatively impact the population. One issue that is becoming more common is for recreational landowners to implement practices designed to attract and hold deer. However, too often such properties overlook one all-important component; an adequate doe harvest. The result is higher-than-average deer densities, impaired herd quality, and reduced public acceptance of deer due to conflicts (agricultural producers, highway collisions, etc.). Increasing a property’s attractiveness to deer also demands an increased responsibility to population control. Being a good neighbor and maintaining acceptable deer densities that promote herd quality and public appreciation of the resource should be primary goals. The mistaken belief that success is only possible when pursuing undis-

Increasin gap an incre roperty’s attra c ased re sponsib tiveness to dee ility to p r opulatio also demands n contro l.

turbed animals or the fear that someone may shoot “my buck” are not valid excuses for ignoring this responsibility. Pressures from non-residents for increased access to the resource are also common. However, Iowa cannot meet the desires of the nation’s deer hunters for “tro-

phy bucks” and still maintain the quality of its deer herd; so access must be limited. Currently, it takes about three years for a non-resident to draw an archery license in the more popular zones of Iowa (the season includes the November rut). However, non-residents interested in hunting during Iowa’s shotgun or late muzzleloader seasons currently draw a license at least every other year. These drawing success rates are better than the odds of other coveted hunts in America. Also, the proportion of deer hunters in Iowa that are non-residents is equitable to the proportions exhibited in neighboring Midwestern states that have no restrictions on nonresident license sales. Is Iowa’s management strategy the only way to produce a high-quality whitetail herd? Certainly not; regulations and management strategies must be tailored to fit regional habitat capabilities and deer hunting traditions in order to establish and achieve realistic goals. In the end every deer harvested, no matter what the sex or size, is something to be appreciated and hunters should never lose sight of that fact. W

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CAMDEN HOLLOW…

A West Virginia Success Story By John T. Travis Photos by the Author

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amden Hollow is located in the North central portion of the great state of West Virginia. For this particular part of the state, quantity of whitetail deer is not a problem. Quality, on the other hand, is a huge problem. I bought Camden in 1993 and it was 300 acres of the wooliest deer country in the area. At that time in my hunting career my philosophy was like most others in the community in that “if it was brown, it was down” as long as the buck had spikes as long as a .30-06 shell. Heaven forbid if someone in our hunting party shot a doe. I was concerned only with “getting that buck,” no matter how scrawny it was. In the late 1990s my nephew Daniel and I were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to hunt in Edgar County, Ill. We did this for seven years. Deer hunting as we knew it started to slowly change. We would return from Illinois on the Sunday before the first day of the West Virginia rifle season. 30

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The Camden Hollow Buck.

One week we were glassing monster bucks in corn and alfalfa fields and the next thing we knew, we were seeing nothing but small 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 year-old bucks that had nothing to offer as far as headgear was concerned. It was depressing to say the least. But what could we do? We knew very little about quality deer management. We met with local wildlife biologists and researched everything we possibly could in order to have a healthy resident deer herd. Initially, we were harvesting bucks that averaged one to 2-1/2 years of age and weighed between 95 and 105 pounds after being field dressed. Does averaged 70 to 80 pounds. In the spring, it was common to see does with only one fawn. The buck-to-doe ratio was ridiculous. We had a terrible time convincing neighbors and fellow deer hunters how important it was to let younger bucks walk and to harvest does in adequate numbers. Our food plots started out pretty rough in the beginning. We had a difficult time bringing the quality of our soil up to a suitable level. Different seed varieties were used from the local feed store. Even though our plots would grow, we were not satisfied with the performance of the common seed that was used. Let’s face it, it is not easy preparing and maintaining a food plot (or in our case, food plots). We wanted to be able to choose from a variety of seed mixtures that would be compatible with the different soil types and different levels of soil moisture found on Camden. We also wanted perennial plots that were winter hardy and would last for several years. Annual plots needed to be easy to establish and maintain. I read about the Whitetail Institute of North America and was impressed that the company focused entirely on deer nutrition and had years of research to support its products. Soon it was standard practice to only

plant seed from the Whitetail Institute. We’ve tried all of their seed blends and deer love them all. The perennial seed blends are very winter hardy and last for years as long as they are taken care of properly. Annual blends are easy to establish and attract deer like crazy. Both provide more protein than deer actually need to be healthy and to grow to their greatest potential. We also provide our deer with 30-06 mineral at various lick sites on Camden. It is crucial to “fill the gaps” in your herd’s diet in order to meet, or preferably exceed, their nutritional requirements. The 30-06 mineral is like giving the bucks in your herd an antler growth vitamin. We’ve also noticed that does on Camden are dropping healthier fawns in the spring. It is now common to see does with healthy twin fawns. We feel that 30-06 plays an important role in helping us meet our deer management goals. Here at Camden, we also use Cutting Edge products to further give the deer on the property the opportunity to reach their maximum potential. I like Cutting Edge because it can be mixed right in with the supplemental feed we provide for the herd. Probably the hardest thing in the beginning was to actually let the first few bucks walk. Old habits can be hard to break. But soon we were all in “doe mode” and we realized that it made more sense harvesting a large doe rather than a small buck. In order to harvest enough does during the year to keep the herd in check, we invite friends and neighbors to participate in what we call “Gauntlet Week.” This occurs during the West Virginia black powder season and, for Camden, is a doe-only hunt. Black powder season comes in toward the end of all other deer seasons in the state, so the deer are very difficult to hunt. The week is made successful by planning wellorchestrated deer drives not only on Camden but on surrounding properties as well. The initial two or three years after hunting my newly obtained property, I was www.whitetailinstitute.com


convinced that the genetics of the resident whitetail herd was terrible. However, I realized this was false after providing the best possible nutrition and allowing the bucks to mature to at least 4-1/2 years of age. It wasn’t that our bucks were substandard by any means, but they were not given the chance to develop and mature. It is my opinion that age and nutrition are both equally important for an individual buck to display exactly what he has to offer genetically. Patience is something we, as hunters, understand. Let me tell you, you really haven’t learned to be patient until you’ve evolved into not only a skilled hunter but a deer manager as well. Patience is a necessary virtue when it comes to QDM. It doesn’t happen over night. I can’t tell you that Camden was producing trophy whitetails the same year we began our management program, or even the year after. We did, however, begin to see a significant difference in the average weight of the deer harvested. Following four years of managing the property, we began harvesting big, heavy-beamed bucks. The good thing is that the deer hunting has done nothing but get better and better with each passing year. THE CAMDEN HOLLOW BIG BUCK STORY After eight years of deer management on Camden, the quality of the bucks harvested was about not just to change for the better, but dramatically change for the better. We had taken a few mature bucks sporting heavier headgear for the past four

Featuring

Daniel Travis shows off the Camden Hollow Buck — 17 points, 22inch spread, 5-1/2 years old and scored 155.

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years. However, they were not what you would call trophy-class deer. We knew it would get better as long as we continued to allow our bucks time to mature and continued to provide quality nutrition all year-round using products from the Whitetail Institute. Game cameras play a huge role in our management program. After collecting data from the cameras early in the fall two years ago, one buck in particular stood out. It was almost impossible to believe, but there in front of me was a picture of a wide, heavy-beamed buck with what appeared to be 13 points. The camera was mounted on a post along a funnel between a stand of Imperial Extreme and Imperial Winter-Greens. I called my nephew, Daniel, and promised I’d send him the photo. We both were looking forward to the upcoming season and having the chance to bag the “Camden Hollow Buck.� Early on the first day of the season, Daniel made his way around the point into what we call “Hard Road Cove.� It was his usual route for the first day. After coming up to a big oak, he glassed the cove and spotted antlers about three flats down. The buck was bedded down and facing towards him. Daniel slowly backed off a few yards and crept over to an old section of woven wire fence where he was hidden from the deer’s view. He glassed the buck for several minutes. He knew this was the buck, but he was concerned about making a good shot since the deer was bedded down and there was plenty of space between the two of them. If he didn’t take the shot the buck would only have to take one step to the right or left and he would be gone. A doe stepped in from the right, which quickly captured the buck’s attention. She had been there the

30-06 Mineral plays a big role in producing better quality deer at Camden Hollow.

whole time and Daniel figured he was staying close to her since the rut was in full swing. It wasn’t long — maybe a few seconds — before the buck was up and off to the right, tagging along behind the doe. He was gone, just like that. Before Daniel made a move one way or another, a second buck came from out of

nowhere and joined in the chase around the cove. It was “Big Boy,� one of the other bucks that made our hit list for that particular year. “Big Boy� was a high-andwide 8-point that we figured was probably a 4-1/2 year-old deer. He wasn’t as heavy as the 13-point, but was no doubt a shooter. We captured a picture of him

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2

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early in the fall while he visited one of our 30-06 Mineral licks. Now what? Daniel wasn’t about to let this buck wander off without another chance at taking him. Knowing the lay of the land as he did and having a good knowledge of how the deer on the property travel, he figured he could back-track and parallel the buck while on the opposite side of the ridge. He planned on beating the deer to a nearby saddle or “low gap” where he figured they were sure to cross. Out of breath and with just enough time to get into position, Daniel settled in behind an old log where he had plenty of cover. The doe stepped out in clear view no more than 75 yards from his position. Where was the buck? It seemed like forever and the doe was almost out of sight. Suddenly, Daniel caught some movement lower on the hill. The buck was passing below him about 150 yards through dense scrub brush. As the buck stopped and peered up the hill toward the doe, Daniel realized that he now had an even tougher shot than he did in the beginning. There was absolutely no shoulder shot. All he could see was the buck’s enormous rack, head and neck. The deer seemed reluctant to move. Having a good rest and a clear view of the buck’s neck, he decided to take the shot. He didn’t feel rushed and was comfortable with the situation. After clicking the .270 rifle off safety and taking a deep breath, Daniel squeezed the trigger. The buck suddenly disappeared. Daniel called me on the radio and gave me the news that the “Camden Hollow Buck” was down and that he was not a 13-point, but a 17-point. People came from miles around to see Daniel’s buck. Let’s face it, deer like that don’t come from northcentral West Virginia. Well, now they do. I was excited for him, but I was also excited about the fact that we were producing trophy-class deer at last! Or… was this a fluke? Last season answered that question. I was hunting just off our central plot — the largest of the 13 different food plots on Camden. It was the first day of rifle season and once again “Big Boy” made the hit list. We captured a picture of him earlier in the fall coming through the same funnel the 17-point traveled the year before that. Now “Big Boy” had 10 points, a heavier rack, and was taller and wider. The difference in his body structure was quite significant. As you can imagine, I had many sleepless nights wondering if this would be my year to tag a trophy buck. The sun was beginning to set in the west when several does entered the food plot. I had seen several does and smaller-racked deer during the day, but up to this point “Big Boy” was a no-show. The does were not pressured at all, and they were leisurely feeding on our plot made up of a mixture of Imperial Whitetail Clover and Chic Magnet when something from the northwest corner of the food plot got their attention. It was hard for me to see through the trees as I was set up on the outer edge of the plot, probably 75 yards off. Finally, I could make out three does slowly feeding toward the others… and behind them was “Big Boy.” He was accompanied by a smaller 8-point which was probably a 3-1/2 year-old, but a good buck nevertheless. I can recall several times in my life when my heart felt like it would pop out of my chest from beating so hard and this was definitely one of them. I didn’t have a shot. He was a good 400 yards away and there was scrub brush between us. I crawled to a better position where I could get a good look at him but there was no way I would risk taking a shot at that distance. There was nothing I could do. I was pinned down by does in front of me and the buck seemed happy to remain on that end of the clover plot and feed until dark. At least the wind was in my favor. I started making plans for the next day. I had no idea… I was at a loss. The only thing I could think of was to return to the Imperial Clover plot and hope for a closer shot.

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Wait a minute! Was it my imagination, or was he actually edging his way in my direction! Now my heart was really beating. All kinds of things raced through my head… “Will he come in close enough for a shot?”… “Is it going to get dark on me before I have a chance at him?”…I was a nervous wreck. “Big Boy” stopped 248 yards out when I decided that I could probably make this happen. Now all I needed was a clear shot. I couldn’t really move because of the does that were around me. I could only sit and wait. At one point he turned and was quartering away from me as if he had plans to move further down the field, but he finally returned and gave me what I felt was going to be my only chance at him. He was 261 yards out according to my range finder. He was broadside and walking slowly to the right. I was prone, holding my breath, with my eye glued to the scope. Two of the does in front of me had spooked, but it didn’t seem to faze “Big Boy.” It was getting dark and I had a small branch between myself and the target. I was running out of time. He wasn’t getting any closer. I was sure I could make the shot as long as I didn’t hit that branch. It was now or never. I lost sight of the buck due to the recoil of my rifle. Deer ran everywhere. Then I spotted him just as he crossed a small creek that winds down the middle of the hollow. “My gosh! Is he hit?” “Big Boy” stopped and looked into the sky as if to take his final breath and then toppled over into the stream. The “Camden Hollow Buck” was 5-1/2 years old and had a gross score of 155. He had a very massive rack and a 22-inch spread with 17 points. “Big Boy” has not been officially aged or scored yet (I haven’t received the jawbone back from the taxidermist yet). But he was

This buck is feeding on Imperial Whitetail Clover. The author likes to mix a little ChicMagnet in with the Imperial Clover.

a 10-point with a 19-1/2 inch spread — the biggest deer I’ve ever harvested. This was not a fluke. We are producing trophy animals. It can be done as long as you have the land to do it and /or cooperation from your neighbors. Practice the ABC’s of QDM and you will most definitely see the change in your deer herd and your hunting. When it comes to the nutrition of your herd, you can trust the experts at the Whitetail Institute of North America. Take it from somebody who knows. We are now into the tenth year of our deer management program on Camden. We’ve learned a lot in those ten years and we are still learning. You will see by the photos that we can truly say the program has been a success. It is common to harvest 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 yearold bucks. At one time, this was a rarity. The average

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weight of does after being field dressed is 115 pounds and the average weight of the bucks has increased more than 25 percent to approximately 145 pounds. Age, nutrition and genetics… it is not rocket science. That is our motto. Have the discipline to let the smaller, younger bucks walk and give your deer herd the nutrition they need all 365 days a year. You’ll be surprised how good the genetics really are on your hunting property. If you are concerned about not having enough property, seek the help of your neighbors and form coops. It’s a win-win situation. Finally, when it comes to food plots, do not cut corners! Be patient, diligent and seek help from the Whitetail Institute for choosing the right seed for the right soil. Who better to ask? When it comes to whitetail deer nutrition, it is all they do. W

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(especially for small properties) By Bill Winke Photos by the Author

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I

n my experience, people with small properties avoid setting up sanctuaries because they don’t think they can afford to give up hunting land. In fact, they actually benefit dramatically by creating them because the deer remain on their farms more of the time and they remain more “huntable” throughout the season. Though sanctuaries are important for all deer hunters, they are actually more important for those hunting small properties. In this article, I’ll make a case for small-property sanctuaries and talk about how to select them and what to have on them (including food plots). I actually hunted most of the 2003 season on just 125 acres and had good hunting by keeping some areas off-limits. You can expect me to go into some detail on how I was able to do this, as well. THE VALUE OF SANCTUARIES Most of us understand the purpose that a sanctuary serves. The intent is to keep a portion of your hunting area off-limits to human entry for various portions of the year. This permits the deer living in these areas to feel at ease, not compelled to leave in search of greener pastures. Literally, you are trying to create a whitetail deer paradise — everything they need — and then to keep them relaxed in these areas. Without question, the deer will not leave the sanctuary as often as they might if they are feeling stressed in some way, whether by lack of food or water or the result of hunting pressure. However, in my experience, most of them will leave occasionally, giving you some access to these deer as a hunter. The main, and most obvious, goal of the sanctuary is to keep deer in your hunting area. The only time when sanctuaries are not essential is when your hunting area butts up to another parcel that is not hunted and can act as your sanctuary. SIZE OF SANCTUARY This is where some of you are going to disagree with me. I firmly believe that small properties need sanctuaries more than large properties. Unless many people hunt the large property, it likely receives considerably less pressure per acre than the small property and there likely are places within the large property where no one goes even during the hunting season. By default, the large property likely has a few moderatesized sanctuaries just because those areas are particularly tough to hunt or hard to get to. On the other hand, those hunting small properties tend to hunt every inch of the place because they feel the small size handcuffs them and they need to spread their efforts out to include as many stand locations as possible. That line of thinking is a mistake. Actually, any given property has only a certain number of good stands. By good, I mean stands that you can get to and from without alerting deer that also allow you to sit in them without detection. Larger properties have more such ideal stands than small properties simply because they take in more land. I know it sounds blunt, but regardless of the size of the property, those should be the only stands you hunt. By spreading your efforts out over many marginal stands, you do your hunting more harm than if you hunted the really good stands more often and then left the rest of the property alone. To give some life to this notion, I’m going to relate a few stories from my 2003 and 2004 season. I spent most of those two seasons hunting just 125 acres. I was hunting nearly everyday from late October through the end of November and then again in 왗 When determining the location for your sanctuary, select places that are difficult to hunt. As long as these areas contain the other elements required for a sanctuary — food, water and cover — they represent the best return for your sacrifice of hunting grounds. www.whitetailinstitute.com

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If you are hunting carefully, your entire hunting property should feel like a sanctuary to the deer.

late December and early January. I probably spent 50 to 60 days each season hunting this small area. In fact, I spent most of that time on just 40 acres! I was after one particular buck and that was where he lived. Those two seasons were a truly eye-opening experience for me. I hunted as carefully as you can possibly imagine; he was a huge buck. The neighbors found him dead after the 2004 season and he scored 225 inches, so you know I was tiptoeing everywhere I went. I didn’t take any chances with spooking that buck out of the area. Because of how carefully I hunted, and the fact that I only hunted stands that set up perfectly, the small area never burned out. The hunting was just as good on the last day of the season as it had been on the first. I am not exaggerating. I never burned that area out even though I spent nearly all my time on just 40 acres. I saw some good bucks, just not the one I was after. Though I didn’t get him, I learned a very valuable lesson. You can keep a small farm fresh all season if you hunt it carefully enough. The farm was 125 acres and I only hunted about 40 acres of it. The other 85 acres I left completely alone. The majority of the small farm was actually a sanctuary. I have never hunted that farm again with the same intensity since that time. After that buck turned up dead, it took the wind out my sails. But I have applied what I learned during 2003 and 2004 to other areas I have hunted. Now I select fewer stands, but better stands and I hunt my areas lighter. In other words, I bet that at least half, if not three-quarters, of my hunting area is now a sanctuary. It is an amazing thing to consider, but I literally stay out of most of

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2

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my hunting area now. As a good rule of thumb, you should have a minimum of 20 to 25 percent in sanctuaries. One big sanctuary in the center of your property is better than a few smaller ones scattered all around. If you take nothing else from this article, please take note of this next sentence. You don’t have to hunt every inch of a property to do it justice. It is much better to hunt the best stand locations often and carefully and leave the rest of the area alone so the bucks remain relaxed. Eventually, they will cycle through the places where you are sitting. If it feels like you are burrowing in too deep — like you are going to spook something with every step you take — then you probably are. It is better to pull back and hunt those bucks somewhere else where you have the advantage. Give them the places that are hard for you to hunt without being detected. WHERE TO SELECT YOUR SANCTUARY It is easy for me to decide which parts of my hunting area to leave untouched — they are the spots where I would spook the deer if I hunted them there. It is simple. If there is only one good stand on 500 acres, then I will have a 490-acre sanctuary. This strategy makes the most sense. You are not giving up anything when you establish a sanctuary. In fact, in some ways, establishing the sanctuary simply forces you to be more disciplined in your stand selection strategies. That is something you should be doing anyway — just as I learned back in 2003 and 2004. If you want a more systematic approach to selecting a sanctuary, I can offer a few ideas. I would start with valleys or deep draws. These spots usually have water running through the bottom (deer like that). They also have some flat areas with good soils that make good food plots (they like that, too). And they are very hard to hunt effectively because of the swirling winds. These features all make valleys the perfect sanctuaries. I am referring to narrow valleys. Obviously, if a valley is wider than about 300 yards, the wind won’t swirl nearly as noticeably and you may be able to hunt the area more effectively. With that being the case, we can’t automatically turn a wide valley into a sanctuary without thinking about it further. No doubt, one side of a wide valley will set up the best for undetected hunting. Turn the other side into a sanctuary. Again, it makes the most sense to turn areas

Make sure to utilize food plots when considering the spot for your sanctuary.

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The author took this buck during one of the seasons in which he spent most of his time on just 40 acres. You can keep even small areas very fresh through careful hunting. This strategy makes your entire hunting area hunt much more like a sanctuary — the ultimate goal.

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.

Research = Results™

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The Whitetail Institute ®

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2

239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043

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that are hard to hunt into sanctuaries. Earlier I mentioned that we want to provide the deer with everything they could need in our sanctuary. The idea is to make it a very attractive place that they don’t want to leave. That means we need food, water, cover and seclusion. If they have these four things they will spend a good deal of time on your property creating hunting opportunities all season long. At the same time you will be preserving younger bucks from being taken on surrounding properties. Do a good job of creating food sources within your sanctuary. Some would argue with me on this, because they want the deer to have to leave their sanctuary to feed so they have better opportunities at hunting them, but I prefer to have some food plots within the boundary of the sanctuary itself. Give them a truly safe haven.

In my sanctuaries, we shed hunt and that is it. No one goes in there for any other reason during the rest of the year other than to plant food plots. We may turkey hunt in there, but we only sit on the open fields (food plots) where the birds come to peck and strut. We stay out of the cover (especially the remote areas). This strikes a realistic balance between access and seclusion. Sanctuaries become harder to control during the offseason on properties that you don’t own. It is not possible, for example, to tell the landowner that he shouldn’t cut firewood or look for mushrooms in a certain part of his property. I guess if you are leasing the ground, you can build that into your lease agreement. However, it does make sense to mention your goals. If the landowner has options, he or she will often honor your goals and conduct their activities elsewhere.

LEVELS OF SECLUSION

HUNTING STRATEGIES

Now we have to decide how much we are going to enter these sanctuaries and for what reasons. The opinions here run all across the board. I know those who won’t even shed hunt within their sanctuaries. No one goes in there ever, for any reason other than to follow a wounded deer. This is the most conservative approach, to be sure. You can’t fault a person for doing this, but it may not be practical for everyone. I know others who keep their sanctuaries off-limits only during the hunting season and the rest of the year they are in there cutting firewood, turkey hunting, looking for morel mushrooms and grabbing antlers. I think this approach errs in the opposite direction, allowing too much access that puts regular stress on the deer.

My final thoughts revolve around how you should hunt around your sanctuary. Of course, you are going to be careful to keep your scent from blowing into the sanctuary area. That is simply part of smart hunting because you aren’t going to do well if you let your scent blow into the very areas from which you expect the deer to approach. I like to take things a step farther. I like to cushion my sanctuaries by staying as far from them as possible while still producing good hunting. In other words, rather than crowd my sanctuaries and fight to make them as small as possible, I would rather hang back and make them as large as possible. For example, let’s assume you have a food plot near

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a sanctuary. In the first place, I am unlikely to hunt between the sanctuary and the food plot. I am more inclined to hunt the opposite side of the food plot from the sanctuary. This permits me to play a very favorable wind, not taking any chances with getting busted near the sanctuary. It also allows me to get in and out easier without the deer detecting me and, in general, makes the sanctuary seem even larger to the deer without sacrificing much in the way of hunting success for me. Look for similar situations, where you can buffer the sanctuary easily by not hunting right up next to it. In essence, if you are hunting carefully, keeping the deer from knowing you are hunting them, your entire hunting property should feel like a sanctuary to the deer. They should never be able to tell where the sanctuary boundary lies. If they feel consistent pressure outside the sanctuary, then you are doing something wrong — hunting the wrong stands or pushing too hard without an advantage. Of course, it is also quite possible that you don’t control all the hunting pressure. In that case, you have to live with other hunters’ mistakes or over-aggressiveness. Then the sanctuary becomes doubly important. In summary, you should look at sanctuaries as entirely essential to the success of your season. Furthermore, strive to turn your entire hunting area into a default sanctuary through careful hunting. If the deer don’t know you are hunting them—the ideal situation—they will think your entire hunting area is a sanctuary. Mission accomplished! No matter how you set them up, sanctuaries are one of the most important keys to successful buck hunting. W

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bucks were looking for does and guess where they were? In my clover plot. Oct. 18 I had a 154-inch, 11point check six does in front of me then turn around and bury his head in the 30-06 Plus Protein where I arrowed him as well. I heard a lot about the Whitetail Institute from friends and had to try it to try and better my luck. I wish I started with it earlier. The stuff works and you can bet that I will never go another season without a lush Imperial Whitetail Clover plot somewhere on all my properties. I just want to say thank you to everyone at the Whitetail Institute because they helped me harvest two of the best deer I have ever harvested.

Chuck Davis — Arkansas

I currently put out approximately 15-acres of plots ranging from 1/4 acre to 3-acres and would not dream of putting out anything less than a Whitetail Institute seed. Thanks Whitetail Institute for the great products. I have 140 acres and I have planted six acres of food plots. Three of those areas are planted in Imperial Whitetail Clover. There are more deer on the property now than ever before. I have harvested four Pope & Young bucks with my bow since I started using Whitetail Institute products. This year I have really noticed the amount of mass increasing from previous years. Every year I’ve seen an increase in size of bucks taken and photographed. Some day’s I film, and see more bucks than does. I had a trouble spot on top of a ridge. Extreme solved it. I planted Extreme this spring with exceptional results. They may like this almost as much as Imperial Clover. PowerPlant is a deer magnet. I photographed my largest buck on the PowerPlant. I catch bigger bucks on PowerPlant in summer than any other plot. My PowerPlant is so thick by the end of July you can’t walk through it. By Oct. 1 it is gone! Amazing! I only plant 1 ½ acres in Winter-Greens. I have let the deer just eat it and don’t hunt it. After a frost or two the deer totally consume it. One large heavy buck stay’s on the Winter-Greens till it’s gone. Great product! The morning of Oct. 12 this past year was perfect. Perfect wind, temp and perfect weather. I snuck to my stand overlooking one of my Imperial Whitetail Clover plots. At first light I heard two bucks sparring. They fought a little and eventually one of them won. While this was going on two smaller bucks entered the plot. The buck that won came into the plot and started feeding and walking to the two smaller bucks. When he got to 20 yards, I arrowed him. He went about 40 yards and piled up. A perfect day. Thanks for my Imperial Whitetail Clover. My neighbors are convinced. We are planning their plots next. I can’t wait!

Danny Wahl — Missouri í˘ą

Benjamin Oliver — Maryland

í˘˛ I love Whitetail Institute’s Imperial Whitetail Clover. I live on two acres. Yes, just two acres. I plowed up a ½ acre two years ago in late September and by mid October I noticed more deer in my small plot. I also put in a 30-06 Plus Protein site approximately 40 yards off my food plot right next to a worked trail. Over the next year I let small bucks walk but saw a lot more deer. This past season rolled around and the Imperial Clover was still kicking and it was like the woods exploded with deer. I had trail camera photos of four wall hangers in the Imperial Whitetail Clover, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I couldn’t wait for the season to start. The first day of the season I arrowed a 135-inch 9-point. The bucks then vacated the area during the day at least but the Clover still drew all the does off the neighboring properties that I could not access. The pre rut rolled around and

I have been a big fan of Whitetail Institute’s products for a long time, especially Imperial Whitetail Clover. I have been planting it for more than 12 years now. My

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Eddie McFarland — Illinois Just a handful of years ago, I started putting out food plots using Whitetail Institute products. The first year, I used Imperial Whitetail Clover on a narrow strip next to a soybean field. I saw so many deer that year all but run across the field or run out of the woods to get to this tiny little plot of Imperial Clover, it was unbelievable. Immediately I was sold on food plots and Whitetail Institute products. I have friends and neighbors who use seeds from other companies, but none hold the deer all year long that my farm does and as a result I am taking some of the largest bucks of my life. 44

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Photo #3 shows another nice 10 pointer that I harvested as he was going into the food plot from this season. Photo #4 is a trail cam photo of a nice 10 pointer with some kickers off of both G-2’s as he came from a food plot on the opposite end of my farm returning to his bed. Photo #5 is a close up shot of my food plot. As you can see the stems that are sticking up without tips on them is evidence of heavy grazing!

Randy Wittman — Iowa

best food plot is located in a flood plain. I have five smaller plots located here and there over my 200 acre farm but this one is in a natural travel corridor between bedding and feeding areas. It is secluded with very little visibility surrounded on two sides by a bluff, one side by the creek and the back side has the beds. Over the years my friends and I have taken some pretty nice animals off of it but in the last 5 years I have to say the size of the bucks and number of deer seen are awesome. Before that time frame I borrowed equipment or rented it and tried to get by with the minimum. My plots were nothing to look at! The weeds took them over and it was a job bush hogging them. The deer visited them and benefited some but you get what you pay for. A few years ago I bought my own tractor and equipment and I started doing soil tests, applying lime and fertilizer as needed. That with the aid of another fine product called Arrest Herbicide also made by the Whitetail Institute has given me the best looking food plots around. Deer numbers have soared! What once was a woods dominated by 7-pointers has transformed into one with numerous 10-pointers and a couple of “Booners� show themselves every year! Last years food plot looked so good I wanted to put a little salad dressing on it and eat it myself! Photo #1 shows what the deer looked like on my place just a few years ago. In the background you can see my food plot with a lot of brown in it and some remaining weeds. Photo #2 shows a buck that was featured in Whitetail News two years ago. He is a main frame 10 along with an additional 6 non-typical points grossing 164-1/2 inches. My best buck ever! He was taken at the edge of a bedding area located just downwind of a food plot.

and muzzleloader season. Last year in mid August I replanted again. I looked up and printed off the planting instructions from the Whitetail Institute web sight. All I can say is WOW, it came up beautiful and by fall I had a good start. After last year with no clover and hardly any pictures on my game cameras, this year was amazing. I had many pictures of many bucks. I also planted a small area by my bow stand. Enclosed is a picture of the deer I shot walking in past my stand in Imperial Whitetail Clover. I am truly convinced that the Imperial Clover held the deer here on my property. Two years ago I had many pictures of this deer and passed him once with the bow, that’s when I had clover. The year I had no clover I never saw him. This year I had your clover and he came back and I got him.

Greg Parsenow — Indiana This past archery season in Indiana will be a season to remember for me. I shot two bucks with my Mathews Drenalin bow while hunting over some half acre food plots my brother Dan and I planted in the spring with Whitetail Institute products. Both bucks grossed more than 135 inches. The buck on the right was shot on Oct. 5. He has 12 scoreable points and will make the Pope and Young Record Books. The buck on the left was shot on October 9th. He has 16 scoreable points and is 21-1/2inches wide. Rage broad heads brought both bucks down within eyesight. Scouting cameras, pre-planning, Scentlok clothing, and Whitetail Institute food plots, watching the wind and a little bit of luck helped bring these hunts together. It took 20 years of bow hunting for it all to come together but boy am I glad it did. W

Imperial Whitetail Clover was the first Whitetail Institute product I used. It definitely increased the deer on my property. It kept them on my property and not on the neighbors. I have also used Chicory Plus the last two years and the deer just love it too. Here is a picture of a buck at my 30-06 Mineral sight. I had two different pictures of him at night at the mineral sight. On Nov. 7 last season I harvested the buck with my bow. He grossed 193-3/8. Thank you for your products.

Pat Reilly — Wisconsin I just had to send a picture of the deer I harvested this year. He is a 14-point, 5-1/2-year-old deer, green scored 179 inches. I have been using Imperial Whitetail Clover for the last six or seven years. The first year I used it I noticed more deer immediately. The planting lasted up until 2 winters ago. The following season I had no food plots and I only saw one buck all of gun

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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

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

Common Questions — Straightforward Answers I planted Imperial Whitetail Clover in several of my plots yesterday. The soil I planted in is rich, and the plots are flat — good crop dirt. However, it has been a little drier than normal here recently, and the ground is pretty dry. The good news is that we normally get plenty of rain throughout the year, and the forecast is calling for rain in a couple of days. How long will it be before my clover germinates and starts growing?

Q:

Provided our planting instructions are followed, Imperial perennial blends can appear and start attracting deer within as little as a week or two. Exactly how long it will take depends on whether or not your soil had any moisture in it when you planted, as well as moisture and temperatures after you planted. Even though you said that it has been drier than nor-

A:

mal, if your soil had a little moisture in it, the odds are extremely high that your Imperial seeds germinated almost immediately. If your soil was dry when you planted, the seeds may not have germinated right away, which of course is a good thing — the last thing you want is for your seeds to germinate with slight surface moisture, for example morning dew, and then immediately die because the tiny seedling roots can find no moisture in the soil. That’s called “false germination,� and it can wipe out an entire plot in short order. That's one reason why the Whitetail Institute coats the seeds in its blends before they are packaged. Plots planted with uncoated seeds are at MUCH higher risk of falling victim to false germination, and the coatings on Imperial seeds greatly reduce that risk. The soil doesn’t have to be “wet� for Imperial perennials to germinate; there just has to be a little moisture in

t spread pulverized or pelletized lime t ground driven system dispenses evenly t made of heavy gauge sheet metal t heavy duty tires and wheels t three models – 500 lb to 2000 lb. t tractor and ATV models

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the soil to dissolve the coating. In that way, the coatings on Imperial seeds are like an insurance policy. Ideally, you want a little moisture in your soil, but the coatings can also give you more latitude in planting conditions than you would have with uncoated seeds. Once the seeds germinate, the seedlings can appear above ground in as little as a couple of days. You probably won’t be able to tell that the seeds have germinated, though, until you actually see the seedlings. That’s because once the seeds germinate, they’ll start building some of the plants’ early root systems before the seedlings appear above ground, and the early roots tend to curl closely under the seed and then grow downward. W

t excellent ground preparation implement t quickly tears up old growth and creates the best seedbed for food plots t strong steel frame with many options t change angle of disc blades easily t tractor and ATV models

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Trail Cameras Are the Ultimate Census Takers… and Management Tools By Scott Bestul Photos by the Author

H

e was the fifth buck on the food plot, and I recognized him instantly. Only a month before, our trail camera had captured a fine 10-point that immediately made our “hit list.” Easily identified by monster brow tines and short G-4s, the buck also wore the broad body and thick neck of a mature deer. I focused on deep, steady breathing as the buck fed my way, and when he’d ambled within 30 yards I was already at full draw. The buck had his head down and was feeding contentedly when my arrow slipped behind his shoulder.

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As the buck crashed off, I sat down to collect myself. Several minutes of replaying the shot finally convinced me I’d made a fatal hit on one of the largest whitetails I’d ever encountered. Trying to infuse some logical thought into my mental patter, I happened to glance to my right. There, not 35 yards from my stand, grew an apple tree that I’d come to know well. It was the same tree that held the scouting camera responsible for “shooting” this buck a few weeks before. CONVERSION EXPERIENCE I’ll have to admit that I’m a relatively recent convert to trail cameras. While I’d always enjoyed playing with

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Summer is an exciting time to take a census of area bucks. The bucks are still in bachelor groups and are visible on food plots during daylight.

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

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2

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them, I was reluctant to jump on the scouting camera bandwagon. My only explanation? My bulb burns several watts dimmer than that of most whitetail nuts. These days, I can barely wait to complete a “milk run” to pull SD cards, and in the brief moments it takes to download digital images onto my computer, I’m pacing the floor like an expectant father. Why the change? The main reason is perhaps the least mercenary; I just love whitetails, and scouting cameras offer a glimpse into their lives I can get no other way. But the secondary reason is simpler to grasp; cameras are a critical tool that make me not only a better hunter, but a more effective manager. The buck I mentioned earlier is a perfect case in point. I harvested that deer from an 80-acre parcel recently purchased by my hunting partner, Dave. Though we knew the property was in the right neighborhood, we had little idea of the number and caliber of bucks actually living there. Cameras helped us take a census of the resident bucks, then go into the hunting season with reasonable expectations. Further, cameras helped us nail down an approximate overall deer population and decide on an appropriate doe harvest. In combination with other measures such as sign reading, habitat quality and visual observation, trail cameras played a vital role in evaluating the property. Like many aspects of whitetail fanaticism, maximizing the effectiveness of trail cameras is best achieved through year-round commitment. Here then, is a look at a seasonal progression of trail cam use, some recommended setups and how to use the information you gather to become a better hunter/manager. SUMMER’S BACHELOR BONANZA Not long ago, summer was down-time when it came to deer hunting. These days, I view July 4th as opening day of the trail camera season! Well, scratch that…I usually have several cameras running before Independence Day, but I get serious about camera work right after the fireworks have died. By midsummer, most bucks in my region have poured on some serious antler growth. Though certainly not fully developed, their headgear has matured enough to give me a head start on distinguishing shooter bucks. In my experience, judging antlers is much easier when you can get a buck to pose close to the camera and reveal multiple angles of his rack. This requires getting the deer to stop and linger at a specific spot for several minutes, and I’ve found mineral licks to be a perfect spot for this purpose. Ideally, you’ve already established several mineral licks on your property, using a quality product like 30-06 or 30-06 Plus Protein spaded into the soil. But I never hesitate to establish new licks any time I’m on a new property, or even when I suspect I’m missing bucks at some of my long-

Trail cameras can help you harvest trophies like this one shot by the author.

• 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 239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043 ®

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Chicory Plus is part of the Whitetail Institute’s continuing effort to develop products that are both Chicory 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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time hotspots. I’ve also had well-established licks suddenly go dead. When that happens, I immediately set up shop in another area. One of the challenges of taking good pictures of bucks at a lick is that the deer are constantly bobbing their heads as they work the lick, then raise their head. Mount the camera too low, and you stand an excellent chance of snapping nothing but the top of a buck’s back! An Iowa hunting buddy taught me how to solve this problem by strapping the camera 5-6 feet high on the tree, but leaving a little slack in the rope or strap. Then I shove a stick or other brace between the strap and the back of the camera. This tips the camera downward toward the lick, creating a slight aerial view of the antlers. This can take a little experimenting to perfect, but once you establish the proper camera height and angle, it’s almost impossible for a buck to escape a visit to your lick without getting his mug shot. Even better, this camera angle provides an excellent view of most of the features of a buck’s rack. Mineral licks are also an excellent place to begin an inventory of does and fawns, as lactating females crave minerals and visit licks frequently. In fact, doe visits to some of my licks are so frequent that in a few weeks I can usually identify individual animals and their offspring. I’ve learned to truly enjoy looking for the distinguishing characteristics of each doe, and even get a kick out of naming certain deer. Food plots can be another suitable place for capturing summertime photos, as bucks are traveling in bachelor groups and feeding heavily. This is a time when clover plots really shine, especially smaller fields located in secluded areas. Broad, sprawling “destination” plots attract a lot of deer, but steering them toward a camera can be a challenge. I’d much prefer to set the camera in the corner of a smaller hunting plot, where any deer that enters the field (usually on a well-defined trail I’ve “encouraged” them to use by man-made funnels) is going to get photographed. I’ve had similar success in the summer by mounting the camera by a highly specific attractant such as an apple tree or water source like a small pond, seep, or spring. FALL IS FOR SCRAPES; REAL AND MANUFACTURED It’s easy to back off on trail cameras once the hunting season begins, but I’ve learned the hard way that this is a mistake. For starters, bachelor groups break up shortly after velvet shed, and some of the bucks I counted as residents simply relocate for the fall. Other bucks may move to another property. And one inescapable truth for all bucks is that patterns that seemed so predictable in summer tend to vanish like felons on the lam come fall. Running a trail-cam trap line is the best way to keep up with bucks. One of the best ways to bait such a trap line is with mock scrapes. Like cameras themselves, I used to pooh-pooh the concept of mock scrapes as one more thing I didn’t have time to mess with. I’ve done a complete “180” on that belief. These days I enjoy setting up mock scrapes and hanging a camera over them. The pictures I’ve assembled have helped me to not only keep up with my summer bucks, but vagrants who suddenly show up in the neighborhood to check out the action. Of course mocks aren’t the only show in town; my scouting trips always result in a naturalscrape inventory, and I never hesitate to hang a camera on the best sites. I found one such scrape on a field edge near my home last year (incidentally, hunting open-cover scrapes is marginally successful, but they’re a great camera spot), and I “shot” seven

Only a half-decade ago, scouting cameras were something of a novelty to me. These days, I view them as one of the most important tools for learning more about the deer on the properties I hunt.

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Broad, sprawling “destination” plots attract a lot of deer, but steering them toward a camera can be a challenge.

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.

different bucks in a five-day period in mid-October. Three of those bucks I’d never seen before. Much has been written about mock-scrape construction, but I get less technical about it every year. Rather than fret over making the perfect scrape, I focus on making lots of them in widely scattered locations, and my formula is pretty simple; I look for a field edge, intersection of trails, and/or a terrain funnel. Then I pick a rub-ready tree nearby with a licking branch (if that’s missing, I wire or zip-tie one in) that overhangs relatively bare ground. I kick the leaves off the ground in a two-foot circle and use a stick to rough up the dirt. If I have some inexpensive commercial urine, I dribble some in the scrape, but honestly I have just as much luck using my own “product.” That’s all I do. The bucks will take over the ones they like the best, and the others will go dead in a matter of days. I hang the camera on only the best sites.

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The weeks and months following the close of the firearms season seem a perfect time to relax and stow the cameras. But now I consider photos I shoot at that time some of the most important of the year. Every year I create a folder of winter trail cam pics, which serves as an inventory of bucks that survived the hunting season and, given some luck, should be available for next fall. The best way to assemble such a portfolio is by hanging cameras over food sources. The mineral sites and mock scrapes that served as perfect posing spots for deer are, for the most part, of little interest to deer now. Every deer in the herd is focused on groceries again, in an attempt to recover from the rut and maintain fat reserves for the coming winter. This makes a high-quality, late-season food plot an ideal location for a winter inventory. In my experience, plots containing brassicas such as Winter-Greens have produced some of the most attractive, beneficial post-rut food sources a hunter could hope for…with the added benefit of serving as the ideal spot to shoot outstanding trail-camera photos. In fact, when designing and planting food plots, I always try to have some Winter-Greens growing right next to a woods-edge or an island of trees growing in the middle of the plot. To focus deer near the camera site, I’ll often pluck the tops off some brassica plants in a semi-circle near the camera, leaving a healthy group of plants growing within range of the flash. These remaining plants serve as a de facto bait-pile that attracts deer toward the camera.

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FINAL THOUGHTS The popular saying “never say never” has had broad personal applications during my three-plus decades as a deer hunter. Naturally, whitetails have continually surprised me as I’ve hunted and studied them. But the old adage has carried personal implications as well. Many of the things I felt I didn’t have interest in, or time for, have eventually entered my life and taken on new meaning and importance. Trail cameras are perhaps the best — or at least most recent — example. Only a half-decade ago, scouting cameras were something of a novelty to me. These days, I view them as one of the most important tools for learning more about the deer on the properties I hunt. If you’re not a cam-addict already, I urge you to experiment more with this valuable technology. Just don’t get upset with me if you get hooked as deeply as I have! W www.whitetailinstitute.com

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(Continued from page 21)

We’ve been using Imperial Whitetail Clover for 10 years and we’ve noticed increased deer activity and larger bodied deer. And an increase in antler size. I took the largest deer I have ever taken this year on a WinterGreens plot.

Bob “Scrappy” Seckora — Wisconsin ment as you can see from the picture of my trophy room. The picture of the 10-point was from last year, 40 yards from my 2.5 acre Imperial Whitetail Clover field. The deer love this stuff. Thanks Whitetail Institute so much for a great product it has made a huge difference in my success. The 10-point scored 150-5/8 and is my best so far. I am sure it will just keep getting better and better. Since I started using Whitetail Institute products, every year it seems like I see more and more deer. So far I am six years and six mature bucks.

me. I also sent a picture of a deer I harvested in a food plot on the lease.

Wes Wieder — Texas Here is a picture with a 149 B & C 10-point taken in the middle of a plot of Pure Attraction in Huntsville, Texas.

William Strimbu — Ohio/Pennsylvania

I have been doing food plots for more than 10 years. By far the Winter-Greens plot has exceeded all late season plots since I started using it two years ago. Since I have told my hunting friends about it they have experienced the same results. It seems the colder it gets the better the food plot attracts deer. In my area of northern Wisconsin the best time to plant it is the middle of August.

Mike Mitchell — Virginia Imperial Whitetail Clover is the best product. I have approximately 20 small plots (1/2 acre to 1 acre) on a 700 acre parcel in Western Pennsylvania. The deer have gotten a lot better and they hammer the food plots.

Greg Jeffers — Tennessee

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2

I’ve been planting Whitetail Institute products for 12 years, mostly on land that I lease. I bought ten acres five years ago. I cleared about four and a half acres. We built a house, on a hill over looking the creek bottoms. I planted 1-1/4 acres with fruit trees, around the house and Extreme. The rest of the land was planted in annuals — PowerPlant, corn, winter oats and brassicas. Last fall I did a soil test and the land tested 6.5 pH, so I planted Imperial Whitetail Clover. I saw a big improvement in quantity and quality. And now I added 30-06 Mineral and the deer have jumped. It is now Aug. 1 and I’m seeing at least 12 bucks. Three are 10-point or better. I enclosed a picture of a 10-pointer that is a monster for this area. I think he is very young, but I don’t know if I can pass him up, if he comes by me. I also see bear and turkeys in my food plots. Thanks Whitetail Institute for great products and all the help you and your staff have given

Mike Maedke — Wisconsin There is definitely increased deer activity since planting Chicory Plus last spring. My Chicory Plus plot is on the outside of my woods. It is surrounded by farm fields. While bow hunting I have seen deer come thru alfalfa fields to get to the Chicory Plus to feed. Even now in December with more than a foot of snow on the ground, the deer are pawing away the snow to get to the Chicory Plus. See photo 1. On Wednesday, Nov. 26 I harvested a buck that I had numerous pictures of in the food plot. He had a spread of 18-inches inside and dressed out at 178 pounds. My brother-in-law Brian took a nice buck 10 minutes later. He was 16” inside and dressed out at 170#. See photo 2. I chose the Whitetail Institute’s Chicory Plus over another company because of all the information listed on the bag. Taking to a rep was very helpful also when I needed to do weed and www.whitetailinstitute.com


John Brundage — New York Here’s the story behind my big bodied, big antlered deer taken on the second day of last years gun season in the whitetail country of central/western New York State. It started around 5 a.m. when I dropped my father off within 200 yards of his ground blind. Even though he had just undergone total knee replacement surgery just five weeks earlier, there was no way he was going to sit this season out especially after hearing the stories of the big bucks I had seen during bow season around our Imperial Whitetail Clover and Chicory Plus food plots.

í˘ą grass control. I am very happy with the Whitetail Institute’s Chicory Plus, and will be researching more of the Whitetail Institute’s products for this spring.

Robert Davis — No. Carolina/West Virginia

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Dave Faber — Minnesota Having a 2-acre plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover definitely increased the number of deer on my property and the body size. Enclosed photo of a 140-plus-inch ten pointer. Imperial Whitetail Clover was a big part of his diet.

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day, I decided to look over one last bank where there were small pines and thick brush. To my surprise, I came upon the big buck lying with his doe. As he stood, I fired and I knew I hit him good, but he disappeared into the thick brush. I traced the blood knowing he couldn’t be too far while my father and uncle kept watch from above to see if he happened to come out. It was now approaching 4:30 p.m. and rapidly getting dark. I had shot the biggest buck of my lifetime, but couldn’t find him. I finally traced him down about 75 yards from where I made the shot. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief that I was able to recover this deer and have my father and uncle be part of the hunt with me. I know that the size of this 220-pound, 9-point with a 19-3/4 inches spread was directly attributed to our use of the Imperial Whitetail Clover and Chicory Plus in our food plots. Every time I look at this mount I will be reminded of the hard work we put into planting and maintaining the food plots and how that work pays off in the end.

I went to a stand further north that has always produced deer. I was in the stand just before daylight and sat until 3 p.m. only seeing squirrels and the occasional flock of geese. It was cold and I decided to still hunt my way out to my vehicle and head back to pick up my father. As I drove down a roadway between a clover and corn field towards our shooting range and cabin, I happened to glance up in the clover field and noticed a big racked deer lying with a doe. They were positioned perfectly on a slight hill overlooking our shooting range and cabin where they had a clear view. The wind was at their backs. This was one of the biggest deer I had seen in my 17 years of hunting. I quickly backed up the vehicle enough to get out of sight. I grabbed my 16 gauge Browning shotgun and coat out of the back and started to creep up over the hill hoping to sneak up on them, but they had caught my scent and were not there when I crept over the crest of the hill. I knew I hadn’t spooked them too bad so I went back to our farm house and told the story to my uncle who interrupted me halfway and said about an hour earlier he was in the same place I was and he watched this same buck breed that doe that was with him. He told me that he has hunted for 60-plus years and has never seen that before. We got into the truck and headed to pick up my father and maybe walk around a couple of swamps to see if the buck and doe had stopped in one of those. We went around a couple of swamps and nothing. Just as I was getting ready to unload my gun and call it a

I started using Imperial Whitetail Clover, Alfa-Rack Plus and Chic Magnet in the fall two years ago. The deer sightings have doubled. They are the greatest of all products I’ve ever used. I also have used Kraze. It’s great stuff. This past hunting season was my best year. I shot my biggest deer ever with my bow while hunting in West Virginia and on the second day I shot my biggest 10 pointer ever. 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

Vol. 20, No. 2 /

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Fall Annuals Maximize Hunting Success By Michael Veine Photos by Tes Randle Jolly

A smart food plot strategy incorporates fall annuals to provide season-long deer attraction power.

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key ingredient to attracting and keeping deer on your property is providing them with a well-rounded diet that features the key nutrients that they are seeking at any particular time of the season. This is even more important during the fall when hunters are trying to cash in on their food plot investments with weapons in hand. In fact, by understanding the basic dietary needs of deer throughout the summer, fall and early winter, deer hunters can tailor their food plots to provide the ultimate in deer drawing power even when the deers’ appetites are ever changing. Fishermen call this “matching the hatch,” but I like to call it playing deer like a fiddle. Mark Trudeau is one of those impressive individuals that you can talk to just briefly and come away with a ton of easily understandable food plot information. He’s also a genuinely friendly, down-to-earth guy, with credentials that any food plotter will certainly appreciate. Mark is an agronomy expert and has been a professional farmer for more than 30 years. He has worked for the Whitetail Institute as a Product Field Specialist for many years and also currently serves as their National Sales Manager. Mark Trudeau said, “During the summer, bucks and does are targeting food sources that have lots of protein and minerals that they require for building antlers (bucks) and for nursing (does). They also require proper nutrients in mass quantities for overall body growth. www.whitetailinstitute.com

This is when deer will really chow down on succulent food plot forages like Imperial Whitetail Clover, and crave and attack mineral and vitamin supplements provided by 30-06 and 30-06 Plus Protein.” Trudeau continued, “Towards late summer, when antlers harden, fawns are weaned and does stop lactating. This is when whitetails shift their forage preference more towards higher energy foods. I like to call this the beginning of a fattening period that accelerates as the fall progresses. Then you’ll see deer go nuts over fruits like apples or mast crops like acorns. There are also certain high-energy food-plot forages that really get hit hard by deer at this time, especially the annuals like Secret Spot, No-Plow and Pure Attraction.

These annuals grow a lot more tonnage of food in a shorter period than most perennials, especially during the fall. These rapidly growing fall annuals with their tender, easily digestible qualities are favored big time by deer during this period.” Mark Trudeau went on to say, “As the fall season progresses deer focus more and more on high-energy food sources available to them. The problem is that as fall marches on, those high-energy food sources become scarcer, but the smart food plotter can really cash in with the right planting strategy. When heavy frosts cover the ground, Imperial Winter-Greens really start to get hammered by the deer.” Trudeau concluded, “With the onset of early winter, Tall Tine Tubers will

Planting high-quality fall annuals can help make your property even more attractive to deer.

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Whitetail Institute

Fall annuals can be used alone, or in conjunction with highquality perennials like Imperial Whitetail Clover.

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

The Whitetail Institute ®

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

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2

Research = Results™

provide deer with an awesome high-energy food source that will draw them from miles away. Hunters with these products in the ground will have a huge advantage during the late season.” It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Imperial Whitetail Clover and I’ve also used Imperial Chicory Plus and Imperial Alfa-Rack Plus with good results. These are all proven perennials that really attract deer and also provide them with nearly yearround top quality nutrition. In fact I’ve been using Imperial Whitetail Clover for well over a decade and rely on it heavily for consistent forage production on the bulk of my food plot acreage. Deer love variety in their diet though, so it can really pay big dividends to provide them with some other goodies that supply just what deer are looking for during the key periods from late summer to early winter when hunters are looking to fill tags. The Whitetail Institute has some incredible fall annuals that really fit the bill. No-Plow, Secret Spot, Pure Attraction, Winter-Greens and the new Tall Tine Tubers are premium fall annual food plot seeds that, when planted with a smart strategy, can and will attract deer so well that hunters can play the deer like a fiddle for the ultimate in hunting success. My food plot layout, forage selection and hunting strategies on my hunting property in Michigan’s U.P. are carefully planned out and executed like a Navy Seal assault on an enemy stronghold. My basic hunting strategy is to hunt the front of my land during the early season and then focus on stands in the rear of my property later in the prime rut phase of the fall. That strategy is supported by the way my food plots are located and also when and where I plant my selected forages. I have a plot I call “the Big Field” in the center of my land. It’s a five-acre food plot that I bulldozed out of the forest. It has been planted mainly with Imperial Whitetail Clover, but I experiment with various other seeding options in that plot as well. My “Big Field” serves as a central draw for deer on my property and provides a nearly year-round food source for local deer. The deer can feed on that plot unpressured too as I don’t hunt near it. Typically the Imperial Clover is shin high by the end of summer, but by the end of fall it’s been grazed down to stubble with cow-path-like deer trails all along the perimeter that clearly define their travel patterns in and out. The Imperial Whitetail Clover there does a great job of providing maximum forage with minimal hassle and expense. In fact, part of the food plot is in its tenth year without having been replanted and the Imperial Whitetail Clover is still thriving nicely. Two medium-sized plots that are a little over one acre each in size are located towards the front of my property. Those plots are also planted with Imperial Whitetail Clover. I don’t bowhunt over those plots at all, but we do have gun blinds set up overlooking them from a distance. There are four smaller food plots that measure fractions of an acre, all strategically situated between those larger clover food plots along natural and man-enhanced travel corridors. These small plots are seeded primarily with Secret Spot and No-Plow and are hunted mostly during the early bow season. Those sites are also seasoned with 30-06 mineral and vitamin supplements and they feature hand-dug water holes for the ultimate in early-season deer attraction. Those small “kill plots,” planted with fall annuals, get hammered during October to the point where hunting success there has skyrocketed; so much in fact, that I often don’t have tags left beyond the early season. The back of my property is much more heavily wooded than the front half and I typically save that territory for bowhunting during the rut (early November) and also for firearm deer hunts, which in Michigan starts on Nov. 15 and runs for about three www.whitetailinstitute.com


weeks. I’ve installed three food plots on the back of my land and all of them are planted with a mixture of Imperial Whitetail Clover and fall annuals. 30-06 is also used at those sites, which are all located in prime terrain features (ridges, funnels, edges) where bucks prefer to patrol during the rut. This mixture of nutrition and optimal location really ramps up my rut hunting success there. My wife only hunts with a rifle. She and I are the only ones that hunt the property during the firearm deer season. If I have any tags left (which is rare), I hunt the back while she hunts the front half. Reason being, she prefers not to walk a long way in the dark with wolves howling, however she has been getting braver in recent years. Even though we are hunting in areas with an overall, relatively low deer population, we almost always see at least one or two bucks on every hunt throughout the firearm deer seasons. Along with our neighbors, we practice QDM and when you manage the deer herd with this type of common-sense approach, and provide the deer with the right vittles in the right places and hunt smartly, the quality of the hunt skyrockets. Here are some details about the outstanding fall annual food plot choices mentioned. Visit www.whitetailinstitute.com for more details including planting instructions: If you have food plot sites that are hard to access with traditional food plot prep equipment or just want a fall annual that really pulls in deer like a magnet, No-Plow is hard to beat. Just like the name implies, you don’t have to till the ground with this unique product. The blend of carefully selected clovers, brassicas and cereal grains come up fast and provide plentiful, highly desirable forage for deer. You do need seed-to-soil contact. This product is another super, easy to grow, yet highly attractive and nutritious food plot choice. Secret Spot even thrives on sites that have tough growing conditions with a variety of clovers, brassicas and cereal grains that deer love to eat. It even comes with a pH booster. If you’re looking for a product that will really pull deer in a competitive environment, Pure Attraction fits the bill. This blend of WINA forage oats, winter peas and Whitetail Institute brassicas gives food plotters the ultimate blend for a fall annual that delivers rapid growth, abundant forage and unreal deer-attracting qualities in the fall and on into winter. This brassica blend is designed to draw deer in during the late season. Winter-Greens is most attractive to deer at the same time when other food plot choices are becoming less appealing. Winter-Greens actually sweeten up with the first hard frosts and they stand tall, making them ideal when the snows pile up during late fall and winter hunts. This new product was developed through extensive research to come up with the most preferred turnip-based product available. Deer will typically eat the tops of the Tall Tines Tubers during the fall, leaving the highly nutritious root vegetable portion for late season. Deer really go after those tubers during the winter providing perhaps the best draw around at that time. W

Perennial Chicory

No-Plow

DRAMATICALLY MORE ATTRACTIVE THAN TRADITIONAL CHICORIES!

Secret Spot

DROUGHT TOLERANT FORAGE PROVIDES UP TO 44% PROTEIN!

Pure Attraction

Winter-Greens

Tall Tine Tubers

High-quality annuals have proven to be outstanding choices for attracting deer.

Featuring the Whitetail Institute’s own

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. “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!

The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043

800-688-3030

®

www.whitetailinstitute.com

whitetailinstitute.com Research = Results™ Vol. 20, No. 2 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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Autumn and A Last Hunt with Bow and Arrow By Brad Herndon Photo by the Author

First Winds Of Autumn Steve Chapman When the green of the cornstalk begins to turn brown And when the time for the goldenrod bloom comes around That's when I look to the hills for I know Soon I'll walk there again with my arrow and bow And when the fruit of the white oak is ready to fall When the hummingbird feels that old Mexico call And when the tears touch the cheeks of my sweetheart she knows Soon it’s farewell to her man with the arrow and bow The heart of the hunter, who can explain How the first winds of autumn seem to whisper my name And they send me to dreamin’ ‘bout the morning I'll go Back up to the hills with my arrow and bow When the tender young fawn is spotted no more And when their fathers prepare for their November wars I can't help but wonder if the mighty ones know Soon I will come with my arrow and bow The heart of the hunter, who can explain How the first winds of autumn seem to whisper my name And they send me to dreamin’ ‘bout the morning I'll go Back up to the hills with my arrow and bow And they send me to dreamin’ ‘bout the morning I'll go Back up to the hills with my arrow and bow

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had been listening to this Steve Chapman song on and off for about a week when I made my way back to the hills with my arrow and bow. The hunt was to my deepest region of hills, and the toughest too, and I knew that this could be one of my last hunts to the hills, for the God-created parts in my right knee have seen much use, and undoubtedly will not be with me at this time next year. Next season, I thought, perhaps the artificial parts in the knee will not allow me to go back to the hills, with my arrow and bow. I pondered all this as I climbed the ladder to the hangon stand in the large oak tree, one strategically grown in an inside corner. Just past 8 a.m. a button buck sprinted into the corner and looked nervously behind him. Something was up. Within minutes I saw the figure of a blocky deer in the brush. He stopped, looked around, then walked a few more steps; on he came. Within a minute he was in my corner. He was old, that was obvious, probably 4-1/2 years of age. And his rack wasn't bad, perhaps in the low 120s, but a size I would normally admire, make mental notes of characteristics, and let the deer mosey on his way. But this day was different. The hands holding the arrow and the bow were almost 67 years old. Were they still strong enough and steady enough to place the arrow where I wanted it to go? Did I still have the skills to end up kneeling in awe beside one of the most magnificent and smartest animals God ever created? I could be happy with this old warrior, I thought, and the string came back surprisingly easy to my anchor point. The old deer paused to look over his surroundings once more, stopping in a opening among the trees. The sight pin rested just behind his shoulder and soon the arrow disappeared through the deer’s chest. The buck jumped sideways perhaps 10 yards and turned back toward me, wondering what had happened. Within seconds he attempted to go on, but within 40 yards slumped to the ground, giving up his life among the thousands of leaves that had fallen to the ground only a few days earlier. Soon I was beside him, joyous, because I realized what a privileged life the Lord has given me. But with a measure of sadness too, because I realized my last hunt with the arrow and bow was not far away. I began the four-hour wait for my best friend, my hunting buddy for decades, my wife, Miss Carol, to show up. I was at the road waiting for her, and when she said "Did you get one?" I could say, once more, “I did.” Miss Carol and I took the old deer cart and with more effort than was taken just a few short years ago, extracted the old monarch from deep within the hills. We paid him respect by taking quality pictures, and putting the meat to good use, as we always do. My tag was filled, so I didn't hunt the next day. But my best friend, my hunting buddy for decades, my wife, Miss Carol, went back to the hills, with her arrow and bow. — Brad

Premium Deer Feed with 20% Protein

Results is a complete deer feed scientifically formulated to provide maximum nutritional benefit to deer throughout the year. Results is designed to help maximize rack size in bucks, improve the quantity of milk production in does, increase birth weights and growth in fawns, and promote overall herd health. Here are some of the specific benefits Results provides:

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

Call 800-688-3030 to find the dealer nearest you.

The Whitetail Institute Any of you who have bow hunted for a number of years need to purchase this Steve Chapman song and listen to it. You will be touched by both the words and music, regardless of whether you hunt in the hills or the bottoms. It can be purchased at www.steveandanniechapman.com. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043 ®

Research = Results™

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

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IN THE THICK OF THINGS DENSE COVER SERVES MULTIPLE PURPOSES

A commercial timber harvest is another valuable way to open up the timber permitting re-growth.

By Bill Winke Photos by the Author

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reas of thick cover serve four purposes to the deer hunter and all of them are important. First, the foliage provides browse to hold and feed deer. Second, the cover keeps you out of sight when going to and from your stands. Third, it provides a sense of security that deer will seek when pressured in other areas. Fourth, when the cover is thick, the deer aren’t in visual contact as often and many experts feel this allows a higher carrying capacity of mature bucks. In this article, I’ll offer more detail on each of these reasons why you need thick cover as well as offering a few tips on how to make your cover thicker. MORE BROWSE Deer can only reach about five feet up without standing on their hind legs, so you have to look at what is available to them in this lower band of habitat. Many times, you will see that a presumably dense thicket of small trees has nothing useful to offer a deer. While a thick stand of small trees may serve some goals that I’ll get to later, it doesn’t achieve the 60

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2

Cutting down junk trees to expose the forest floor to sunlight is one way to create thicker habitat.

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goal of increasing browse. The kind of thick cover we are after will produce a wide variety of native woody browse and weeds. This is known as early succession — the first species to repopulate open ground. The ideal mix, in my mind, contains a scattering of small trees that produce and hold leaves well, such as many species of oak and cedars, along with a variety of natural re-growth. Such areas are virtual spring and early summer food banks as tender new shoots begin to grow. By midsummer and fall, these once browse-rich areas are not as attractive and the deer make for the agricultural fields and food plots. If you have a high deer population, they can literally stunt the growth of your woodland regeneration to the point where you begin to wonder if anything is actually growing. Just as an exclusion cage will show what is happening in your food plots, a large exclusion cage in the timber would reveal how much damage these browsing deer are really doing. They really are heavy browsers at certain times of the year. Browse will never replace food plots in a well-balanced deer management plan, but there is no reason why it can’t be the fringe benefit of a habitat improvement program. IMPROVED HUNTABILITY Even if making my cover thicker didn’t do anything to improve the environment for deer, I would still do it just to improve my hunting success. Let me give you an example and you will grasp my point immediately. For nine years, I hunted a farm that was loaded with mature trees. You could literally see for 200 yards through the timber in any direction. That made it easy to see the deer coming from a long distance away. Unfortunately, the opposite was also true. They could see me coming from at least 200 yards in every direction, too. If I approached an afternoon stand in the timber or exited a morning stand back on a ridge, I was literally educating deer in a quarter-mile wide swath where I walked. Granted, I used the terrain to my advantage as much as possible and not all the deer were looking my way when I passed in the distance, but you get the idea. It was not good. Many times I saw white tails flashing way off in the distance as I crept to my stands. It was very frustrating because I knew how much damage my entry and exit were having on that day’s hunt and any future hunts from the same stand. Fortunately, it was a big farm because I burned out my stands very quickly. Before I get into my contrasting example, let me offer up a few words about owning land with several partners. The farm I just talked about was a large partnership of which I was one of the owners. It was awesome that a simple outdoor writer could enjoy access to quality hunting by combining his finances with a number of others. But, that leverage came at a cost. It was very difficult to make any significant changes to that place because no one seemed to agree on anything. It was like trying to push a new healthcare bill through Congress, but without the benefit of poor, dumb taxpayers to foot the bill. In other words, it was very hard to get the mutual nod to cut trees that needed to be cut, plant food plots in new areas, etc. I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy land with partners, just be forewarned that progress moves very slowly in those settings. Now contrast those hunts with experiences I’ve had on my own farm. Shortly after I bought it, I began a timber stand improvement (TSI) program. That is a fancy way of saying that we cut out all the junk trees to achieve two goals: increase light to the forest floor for re-growth and improve the opportunity for existing quality trees like walnut, oak and cherry to flourish. Each time we set out to cut a new patch of timber, we were more aggressive. It is interesting to see the changes that have occurred in the seven years since we first started. The most recent effort took place just this www.whitetailinstitute.com

What is TalkHunting? TalkHunting is a web forum that centers around hunting. What is a forum? A forum is public meeting place for open discussion of various topics (in this case, hunting related). A forum may also be referred to as a bulletin board or discussion area. You "post" questions or comments for others to comment on or you post on their comments. Think of it as a delayed chat room. Do you just talk with each other? No, you can also share pictures, recipes or ask about non-hunting items. You can get to know people and even arrange swap hunts. We also have hunting championships and many events throughout the year for members to meet and have fun. It sounds like a club. Is it? In a way. You will get to know people here and that almost makes it like a family. You also will learn a lot about hunting here gaining from thousands of people's knowledge and advice. My experience with forums is that they are a place for people to argue, fight and talk bad. That is not the case here at all. First of all, we maintain a fun, friendly, family atmosphere where bashing, fighting, cliques and vulgarity is absolutely not tolerated. Second, we have real people looking after the site to ensure no offensive material is posted. This site is safe for kids and adults of all ages. I see that I can read everything without joining so why join? First, as a guest, you can only read, you cannot make comments or start new posts. Secondly, not all areas are available to guests. Once you join, you will see more areas. Third we have prize drawings each month for members from nationally known manufacturers of hunting products. Guests are not eligible to win. Fourth, as our numbers grow, so does our influence in the outdoor world. This will help us as we push for a cleaner, more family friendly industry. Thank you for visiting the "TalkHunting" website. We encourage you to register and jump right in. Since membership is free, you have nothing to lose? This is a place to learn, have fun, express ideas and have a chance to win some prizes. If you are addicted to hunting... this is your fix! SOME OF OUR SPONSORS AND WINNERS…

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Don’t Get Get Caught Without It… Pre-Book Your

Imperial POWERPLANT

The author’s farm now holds a higher density of mature bucks than it ever held partly because of thicker cover. Not all of the mature bucks are giant trophies but the fact that they are present makes for an exciting hunting season each year.

For the past four years we've sold out of Imperial PowerPlant. Each year more product is bagged and more is sold. This year we're offering a pre-booking sale that will guarantee you PowerPlant for the 2011 spring planting season at discounted pricing. To pre-book PowerPlant for next year at the discounted price of $99 for each 50-pound bag. Call our consultants and mention this offer. They will take your information and ship next year a few weeks before planting time.

CALL TOLL-FREE

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past winter. So I have a reference of what aggressive TSI looks like after zero years, one year, two years, etc. — all the way up to seven years later. Anyway, having this reference gave me confidence about the outcome and we became increasingly aggressive in removing junk tree species. However, be sure to discuss your goals with an actual forestry consultant before you start cutting or deadening trees, because my approach may not work for you. Now for the good news. In areas where the sunlight hit the forest floor, the ground story produced exceptional amounts of new growth. Because of this thick ground cover, the farm hunts much, much larger. I almost have to step on a deer to alarm it in the thickest areas. Again, by using the terrain to keep out of sight, I feel that the farm hunts at least twice as big as it did before I made the cover thicker. In other words, my stands don’t burn out nearly as fast and I don’t have to jump around as much to maintain the all-important element of surprise. In hindsight, I would never put a single one of those trees back that we cut down. In fact, because of rapid re-growth, I am certain that we will have to start planning a return trip to the areas we cut first. My sense is that the farm will end up on a tenyear cycle. Every ten years we will revisit each TSI site in the order we cut it, making sure that the area is still accomplishing the required goals: producing ground cover, promoting the growth of desirable trees and offering browse.

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2

Increased security, though tangible, is hard to measure. You can see the snippedoff branches and know that browsing took place and you can watch for deer running from your approach, but it is hard to know whether you are holding more deer, or more bucks, or more mature bucks, or whatever, as a result of the thick cover. You end up with a much more subjective measuring stick. So, with that in mind, I am not going to spend a lot of time in this section. It just makes sense that when deer are pressured, they head toward places within their ranges where they can hide. Actual telemetry studies have proven this many times. The deer don’t pack a bag and head for the hills, but they do hole up in the thickest, most secluded portions of their range. A deer doesn’t know anything about the areas outside of its range. It is like Columbus sailing off toward the horizon with the very real fear of falling right off the earth. As far the deer knows, they will drop of the world if they leave their known range. They can’t call their grandma 100 miles away or watch television to see how other deer live. They know about the places they have visited, and nothing more. So they adjust to the pressure as best they can within their known range. That is why www.whitetailinstitute.com


they just hide rather than completely pulling out. They may jump the fence and hide on your farm if they are pressured hard by the neighbors. In fact, they probably will if your farm offers safety and thick hiding cover. That is why it makes sense to have the thickest security cover in your neighborhood. The local deer know about this secure area and will head for your farm when the guns start booming. It is good to have balanced habitat — areas with both thick and more open cover. The deer prefer this transitional edge when bedding. They like to be able to see things, but they also like to have thick cover close by to jump into when they perceive a threat. INCREASING THE DENSITY OF MATURE BUCKS In some areas where the hunting pressure is moderate, the density of mature bucks is dictated by buck dominance behavior rather than by hunting pressure. Mature bucks have a pecking order that they have fought hard to establish. They also have a piece of turf where these dominance battles have taken place. So by default, the winner stays and the loser leaves. It is a bummer when the loser is a dandy buck that has to go live on your neighbor’s farm because some old brute kicked him off your ground. If there is a way to maintain a higher density of mature bucks on our hunting areas, we need to know about it. Thick cover seems to promise this benefit. Again, I’ll start with an intuitive presentation and then back it up with some anecdotal experiences and a bit of biology. Think about it this way. During courtship times, you hate other males your age and don’t want them messing around in your core area. In other words,

you are a typical mature buck during the rut. Now if you are lying on one ridge and you look across at the next ridge only to see another equally mature and potentially dominant male, you are eventually going to get sick of it. You will get up and go over there to see who owns the turf. Now if you can’t see him lying over there, you may not even realize that another mature male is in the area. It is hard to stress out over something of which you are not aware. I wasn’t the originator of this theory. Actually, a friend of mine, named Al Collins, noted this phenomenon when I talked with him about his super-thick Indiana farms. He feels that he is holding a very high density of mature bucks — as tightly packed as one per 40 acres — on these farms simply because they are dog-hair thick. The home ranges of the deer have shrunk down due to the density of the cover and thus the bucks simply aren’t running into each other as often. Without this regular contact, they don’t have as many opportunities to get steamed and are not as likely to run the other guy out of the area. So naturally, the density of mature bucks can be higher. I have seen good growth in the density of mature bucks on my farm over the years. During the past three years of hunting, I have averaged seeing at least one mature buck per day. They haven’t always been big. In fact, they are not usually big. But they are 4-1/2 years old, or older — lots of them. I am not sure if that is the result of not shooting the younger deer or the result of the thicker cover we have produced over the years. It is probably tied to both. I have hunted farms where we didn’t shoot a lot of young bucks and yet we never had densities of mature

bucks as high as I have seen recently. But these were also farms with very open timber. I have run this theory by a number of experienced biologists and they seem to agree with this notion, again based on anecdotal evidence only — no hard science. It is a theory, one that I am entirely willing to take to the bank, but a theory nonetheless. CREATING THICK COVER I could write an entire article about creating thick cover, but it would boil down to a pair of main themes. First, you can cut the timber back and let nature produce a jungle inside the timber or you can plant the jungle in open areas. I have done both, but have focused the majority of my efforts on creating thickets within my timber by aggressive TSI (as I already mentioned). Options for creating thick cover in open areas include planting switchgrass, planting non-invasive shrubbery, direct nut seeding and even planting some annuals such as PowerPlant. CONCLUSION OK, those are my four reasons for wanting thick cover. I have heard arguments from people stating that bucks like open cover because they can see, and I have heard grumblings from foresters that I am “ruining” my timber. But the bottom line is this: I believe strongly enough in the value of thick cover that I don’t worry about grumbling and outside opinions. Give it to me thick and I’m happy — and so are the many bucks that run on my farm. W

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Pine Plantations Can Provide Productive Food Plot Opportunites By Bob Humphrey Photos by the Author

P

ine plantations; can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. To the deer hunter and manager, planted pines don’t offer a whole lot, except perhaps cover in younger-aged stands. Deer don’t eat pines, and about the only reason they travel through them is because it’s often easier than going around. Yet in many parts of the country, the Southeast in particular, planted pines dominate the landscape. They are the primary land use and management priority on what, in many cases, is the only available hunting land. It’s a dilemma for anyone who hunts deer. For those of us who also like to grow and manage deer by manipulat-

ing their habitat for the better, it can seem extremely frustrating — but only if you let it. Even where pine plantations dominate the land and management, there are ample opportunities for establishing food plots to increase both deer production and huntability on the land. You just need to know where to look. INSPIRATION Jon Cooner, Whitetail Institute’s director of special projects, described how he discovered one example. “I was driving on an 800-acre lease with the

landowner,” he said. “It had a few fields but was mostly planted pines, real thick stands about 15 to 20 feet tall and so choked with briars you couldn’t walk through them. Then I noticed an area where the pine trees went back off the road for a ways and then came back up.” He asked the landowner why. “For some reason, they just didn’t take there,” the landowner said. That’s when the lights came on for Cooner. “I started thinking, if they didn’t take there, I bet there’s some spots way back in that didn’t take too,” Cooner said.

Deer prefer edge habitat. Your food plots will be much more effective if you can slip them in where pine stands of different ages intersect.

64

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2

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He was right. After donning some briar-proof gear, he rode his ATV into some of the more remote areas on the property, where he found two types of areas he deemed ideal for food plots. “The first were small circular or oval spots where pines didn’t take,” he said. The second were spots “where a row or two didn’t take.” With a quick application of Imperial No-Plow or Secret Spot, he was able to create some back-lot honey holes.

ditions. You just need enough sunlight reaching the forest floor to promote plant growth, and the right soil conditions, in terms of disturbance and pH (see sidebar on soil testing). In fact, sometimes smaller is better. Cooner noticed his back-lot honey holes offered something conventional plots didn’t. “Deer would filter in and out all day long because they felt safe,” he said. SUNLIGHT

DON’T BUG ME Like most deer hunters in the Southeast, Whitetail Institute Vice President Steve Scott leases his hunting land from a paper company. “They tell us, and rightly so, they make their money growing trees, not deer,” Scott said. Their goal is to maximize profit and if they could, they’d have every possible square inch of land in production. But they can’t, for a variety of reasons that can sometimes be a boon to the deer manager. Scott cited beetle kills as a prime example. Foresters regularly fly over their managed lands looking for telltale brown spots that could indicate beetle infestation. “If they find an infected stand,” Scott said, “they’ll drop all the trees in it, and usually enough around them to prevent spread.” It’s not cost effective to remove the trees so you end up with a tangled mess of anywhere from 1/4 acre to an acre or two. At the very least, it becomes good bedding cover. It can be much more though. According to Scott, “They (timber companies) will leave it be, but are often willing to let you go in these spots and plant a plot.” You can go in immediately, but Scott suggests letting the stumps rot. “Then, it’s easier to work the ground,” he said. Mini hurricanes or micro-bursts sometimes create the same conditions and the same opportunities. SIZE MATTERS Remember, it doesn’t take a lot of acreage to have a measurable effect. Many wildlife managers recommend planting between two percent and five percent of your property in food plots. Even on property that’s intensively managed for softwood production, you can usually find at least that much that has the necessary con-

The first condition — sunlight — is met anywhere there’s an opening, be it man-made or natural. We’ve already mentioned a couple of the latter. “It could simply be soil conditions where pines just don’t do well,” Scott said. In that case, he suggests you talk to the forester and see if they’d mind you planting there. “I’ve got to salute the paper companies,” he said. “To a large degree, they’re very receptive to ideas for improving the property for wildlife habitat while at the same time running their business.” Here again, soil testing is important. There may be a good reason pines won’t grow, but if the soil is really poor you can treat it, or try something like Imperial Extreme, which can thrive even in extremely poor soils. MAN-MADE Some of the side effects of softwood forest management can also benefit the deer hunter and manager. Remember, we’re looking for adequate sunlight hitting the forest floor, which occurs on skid roads and fire breaks. In the latter example you can actually be a benefit to the landowner. “Most anyone wants a fire lane around their property,” Scott said. But it costs money to maintain. Turn it into a food plot and you’re effectively maintaining it for the landowner, a step Scott said “will usually make the landowner smile.” He does caution planting along the property line as it could create a temptation for the neighbors, unless you’re involved in some type of cooperative. Another good example is skid roads. While turning them into food plots might not benefit the forester, he usually won’t object. And like Cooner’s back-lot plots, planting logging roads can extend your hunting day. “Most conventional plots are better for afternoon

hunting,” Scott said. “Roads are good for morning and evening hunting because you catch deer crossing them and/or feeding along them.” For gun hunters, he especially recommends straightaways where you can see further. Skid roads can also be among the least labor intensive plots to build. The loggers do most of the work, clearing down to bare soil in the process of skidding out logs. At most all you have to is make a few passes with an ATV disk before planting. Even some silvicultural practices can create food plotting opportunities. For example, a fifth row removal, done in conjunction with removal of the substandard trees in the remaining rows, opens the canopy and allows more sunlight to reach the forest floor. Establishing plots in the fifth row can actually benefit a pine stand by preventing establishment of sweet gum and other non-merchantable and undesirable species, which would otherwise compete with pines for nutrients and water. MONEY TALKS If all else fails, you could buy a variance from the landowner. According to Scott, “Sometimes for about $100 per acre, per year, they’ll take the land out of production and let you plant it.” It’s may seem like an extreme step, but for $300 a year you can build enough food plots to improve a couple of hundred acres. CONCLUSION Whitetail deer are one of North America’s most adaptable species. They have learned not only to survive but thrive in a broad range of habitats, including a landscape dominated by planted pines. If we want to be more successful as hunters and wildlife managers, we should take a lesson from the game we pursue and learn how to make the most of existing conditions. W

Soil Testing Proper soil pH is vital to plant production because it increases the ability of plants to take up soil nutrients. This is particularly important when working in and around pines as soils tend to be particularly acidic. That’s why soil testing is one of the most important steps in building food plots. It is not, however, the first step. Before testing, Jon Cooner recommends you decide what forage you’re going to plant on your site. “When you send your soil to the lab for testing they can make specific recommendations for that forage on that site,” he says. Which type you choose will depend on both site conditions (slope, aspect, soil moisture, etc.) and objectives (year-round nutrition or fall hunting). For more detailed information, check out: "How to Select the Right Forage" by Jon Cooner at www.whitetailinstitute.com

SMZs Streamside management zones, shoreland zones, If whitetails can thrive in and around planted pines, there’s no reason those who pursue them can’t do so too.

www.whitetailinstitute.com

resource protection areas — they’re known by many names. Essentially, they are buffers along the margins of wetlands, waterways and water bodies where habitat is left undisturbed in order to preserve and protect water quality. They can also be a very valuable asset to the deer manager, particularly if they contain mastproducing hardwoods. Be sure to factor them in when calculating your “productive” acreage, and when setting your bow stands. Vol. 20, No. 2 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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WHITETAIL NEWS

67


www.nikonhunting.com Amy Ingalsbe — Missouri A little more than 20 years ago, I took a hunter education course, never imagining that I’d use that little orange and white card. As a kid, my family didn’t hunt. But a hunting tragedy in my small grade school would introduce me to hunter education. The Missouri Department of Conservation came to our school and put us through the course. We all received our little cards, proving we had successfully completed the course. At 12 years old, my card went into my wallet and stayed there. Now I’ve been a hunter’s wife for more than 14 years. I’ve been a hunter’s mom for the last three or four years, since my oldest son has been old enough to join his dad. I always thought that was where my hunting role would end. I’d never had any interest in hunting. I’ve often felt that I was competing with hunting for my husband’s affections. But all of this would change last fall. My husband, Reuben, is a boilermaker. It’s a great job. It allows him to be home with us all summer. He wouldn’t miss our boys’ baseball seasons. Brady is six years old and plays T-ball. Robbie is 12 and plays in two baseball leagues. The job often conflicts with hunting season, though. This is a sacrifice he struggles with. He had always managed to be home for the annual two-day youth season. Last fall, it just wouldn’t work out that way. That left me at home with our then eleven year old son wanting to hunt. I had NEVER hunted. I had tried scouting for deer once, but I couldn’t sit still long enough to make it worth our while. I had learned to shoot the guns, just in case I ever needed to, but that’s where it ended. With a little encouragement from my husband, I agreed to take Robbie out for the twoday hunt. I had never used that hunter education course, but I would need it to purchase my first-ever hunting permit and tag. I would officially become a licensed hunter in order to take Robbie out in the woods, in hopes of killing his first deer. He had killed a few turkeys in prior years but never a deer. So, with our permits in hand, he and I set out before daylight Saturday morning. We set up in a hunting blind on a food

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2

plot that my husband had planted in Alfa Rack and wheat. I took my CD walkman, cell phone, and snacks. I was prepared to stay a while. As it turned out, we would spend thirteen hours in that blind, only taking a 45-minute break for lunch. We saw several deer; lot of does and young bucks. Robbie had an opportunity to shoot a small seven point. It would have been fine for his first deer kill, but his dad’s management values are already ingrained in his mind. Let him grow some more. He passed on it and would second guess that decision later. We sat and scoured that three acres with our binoculars until it was obviously too dark to shoot. Again, Dad’s teachings would kick in. Don’t get out and spook the deer off. Then, we saw him. All we could see was antlers, lots of them, and just the silhouette of a body. We didn’t know if our eyes were playing tricks on us or what. That buck would walk within 15 feet of us, but it was just too dark to safely shoot at anything. We were fired up to go again the next morning. Robbie even said, “No breaks tomorrow!” The next morning started like the one before. Walkman, phone, snacks. The morning would go much better, though. It got off to a slow start. We didn’t see a single deer for the first hour and a half. Finally, a buck appeared on the far side of the plot, 175 yards away. He wasn't the one from the night before, but he looked like a good one. He slowly wandered our way, eating. Robbie decided this was one he would shoot. I was trying to get a better look at him in the binoculars when I heard the gun go off. All I saw was hair flying up. The buck ran a few yards and stopped perfectly broadside, again. BOOM! Robbie took a second shot. He wasn’t letting this one get away from him. The deer ran a few feet and into the wood line. Robbie was positive he had hit him. The excitement had his teeth chattering, body trembling, and shells in his pocket jingling. My heart was about to beat out of my chest when I called Pennsylvania to wake Reuben and tell him that Robbie had shot his first deer, and it was a good one. I’m not sure which of the three of us was more excited. We walked the 120 yards to where he had shot and found a good blood trail. Reuben told us to go back to the house and wait about an hour to look for him. Easier said than done. That was the longest hour! We took Reuben’s dad with us to look for the deer. We found the buck about 100 feet into the woods. Robbie had taken out the heart with one shot and the lungs with the other. I was so proud. I was happy to have shared in the experience but sad that my husband missed it. That hunter education course some 20 years earlier had been good for something after all. It allowed me to experience one of the sweetest memories of my life. I might even use it again this year. And maybe we’ll get another chance at the big one that got away! Editors Note: This story was from two seasons ago. Amy and Robbie went hunting this past year again and Amy sent this update:

“I took my son hunting again this past weekend, during the Missouri youth hunt. His dad was once again working away. Well, we were very successful hunting over a plot of Alfa-Rack Plus again. Robbie is twelve now, and was thrilled with this trophy! Thanks!”

Gary Chamlee — Alabama It was midNovember, the first day of Alabama’s Youth Deer Hunt. My seven-year-old grandson, Garrett, had been practicing with his rifle and was ready to go after his first deer. That evening about 2 p.m., we slipped into our shooting house. Right next to it was a pond and a strip of Whitetail Institute’s new product, Double-Cross. We were hunting in Dekalb County in the northeast corner of Alabama. The strip was about six inches high, and deer were really using it. About 4 p.m., deer began to filter onto the field. Several deer were feeding in the plot. We finally saw a good sized doe that didn’t have any fawns with her. Garrett patiently got propped good and steady, he squeezed the trigger and made a great shot. After finding the deer, the picture taking began. As you can see from the picture, it wasn’t hard to get Garrett to smile. We give a lot of credit to Whitetail Institute’s DoubleCross. This product made it a lot easier to have a successful hunt for my grandson’s first deer. Garrett had a great season, eventually harvesting three mature does, all while hunting over patches of Double-Cross. Thanks Whitetail Institute for making such great products.

Don Meddaugh — Michigan My son Ryan (age 13) shot his first buck this year. It was a 7-point. It was walking a field edge at about 150 yards. It got to about 70 yards and was either heading into the corn or the food plot in the opposite direction. Luckily for us it chose the food plot. Once the body cleared the brush and stepped into the plot he fired. He hit it broadside and it dropped there. W Photos and stories submitted for First Deer… A True Nikon Moment will be entered into a random drawing to win a quality product from Nikon. Drawings will be held at the mailing of each of the three issues of Whitetail News. Winners will be announced in the next issue after each drawing. Send your first deer photos and stories to: Whitetail News, Att: First Deer, 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043. www.whitetailinstitute.com


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Whitetail News Vol 20.2  

Whitetail News Volume 20 issue 2

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