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Volume 20, No. 2
G E A R. U P. SITKA’S NEW FOREST SYSTEMS, BUILT FOR THE VERTICAL WORLD.
TURNING CLOTHING INTO GEAR.
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Vol. 20, No. 2 /
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
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.
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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2
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EVOLUTIONof a HUNTER… With Food Plots Every Step of the Way By Charles J. Alsheimer Photos by the Author
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.
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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The Whitetail Institute ®
239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043
Research = Results™ Vol. 20, No. 2 /
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
GRAVE DIGGER SCENTED SOILS
Vol. 20, No. 2 /
Imperial Products Help Grow Bigger Kansas Deer By Chad Stoll Photos by the Author
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
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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The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail Pintlala, AL 36043
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 /
Unique 3-Part System Can Help Push Your Deer to the
“Cutting Edge” of Nutrition By Hollis Ayres
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.
WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2
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.
Vol. 20, No. 2 /
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.
The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail Pintlala, AL 36043 ®
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 /
DOING IT THE RIGHT WAY IN ALABAMA! Meet Oscar and Samuel Barclay
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.
WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2
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.
YOUR RECIPE FOR HUNTING SUCCESS Try a full “menu” of Whitetail Institute Products at one low price… and get a FREE 2-year subscription to “Whitetail News” and a FREE DVD as well! Your Super Sampler Pak includes:
• Imperial Whitetail™ Clover — 1/2 acre planting (4 lbs.) • Imperial ALFA-RACK™ PLUS — 1/4 acre planting (3.75 lbs.) • Imperial EXTREME™ — 1/4 acre planting (5.6 lbs.) • Imperial CHICORY PLUS™ — 1/2 acre planting (3.5 lbs.) • Imperial N0-PLOW™ — 1/2 acre planting (9 lbs.) • Imperial WINTER-GREENS™ — 1/2 acre planting (3 lbs.) • Imperial 30-06™ Mineral — 1 lick (5 lbs) • Imperial 30-06™ PLUS PROTEIN™ — 1 lick (5 lbs.) • Imperial DOUBLE-CROSS™ — 1/2 acre planting (4 lbs.) • Cutting Edge™ INITIATE™ — 1 site (5 lbs.) • Cutting Edge™ OPTIMIZE™ — 1 site (5 lbs.) • Cutting Edge™ SUSTAIN™ — 1 site (5 lbs.)
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CALL TOLL FREE a FREE 2-year subscription to “Whitetail News” and a FREE DVD OR MAIL YOUR ORDER TO: “Producing Trophy Whitetails” — Whitetail Institute
60 minutes on how you can produce top quality deer on your hunting land.
239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043 FAX 334-286-9723
Vol. 20, No. 2 /
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.
WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2
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)
Vol. 20, No. 2 /
A Step-By-Step Guide to
Food Plots (Part 2) By Jon Cooner Photos by Charles J. Alsheimer
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.
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
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,
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
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 wasnâ€™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 doesnâ€™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, letâ€™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 landownerâ€™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 manâ€™s managed land, he was just as happy as they were. Another type of payback for sound management practices. WHATâ€™S YOUR PAYBACK STORY? What I have just related is certainly a successful â€” and oftentimes touching â€” 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 donâ€™t only involve our family either. For example, the last Saturday of Indianaâ€™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, â€œShe killed it deader than a hammer.â€? 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 wouldnâ€™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-Greensâ„˘ and Tall Tine Tubersâ„˘ 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
ě”‰ North: Sept 5 - Oct 30
Central: Sept 15 - Nov 15 South: Sept 25 - Nov 15
ě”Š Coastal: Sept 1 - Oct 1 Piedmont: Aug 15 - Sept 20 Mountain Valleys: Aug 5 - Sept 15
ě”‹ 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
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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A West Virginia Success Story By John T. Travis Photos by the Author
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
WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2
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 wasnâ€™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 havenâ€™t learned to be patient until youâ€™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 doesnâ€™t happen over night. I canâ€™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
Daniel Travis shows off the Camden Hollow Buck â€” 17 points, 22inch spread, 5-1/2 years old and scored 155.
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Vol. 20, No. 2 /
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 Iâ€™d send him the photo. We both were looking forward to the upcoming season and having the chance to bag the â€œCamden Hollow Buck.â€? Early on the first day of the season, Daniel made his way around the point into what we call â€œHard Road Cove.â€? 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 deerâ€™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 didnâ€™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 buckâ€™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 wasnâ€™t long â€” maybe a few seconds â€” 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 â€œBig Boy,â€? one of the other bucks that made our hit list for that particular year. â€œBig Boyâ€? was a high-andwide 8-point that we figured was probably a 4-1/2 year-old deer. He wasnâ€™t as heavy as the 13-point, but was no doubt a shooter. We captured a picture of him
FA LL P L A NT I N G DAT E S
for Imperial WhitetailÂŽ Clover, Chicory Plusâ„˘, Alfa-Rackâ„˘, Alfa-Rack PLUSâ„˘, Extremeâ„˘, Secret Spotâ„˘, No-Plowâ„˘ , â€œChicâ€? Magnetâ„˘ , Pure Attractionâ„˘ and Double-Crossâ„˘ í˘ą Call for planting dates í˘˛ Do not plant in fall í˘ł Aug 1 - Sept 1 í˘´ Coastal: Sept 1 - Oct 15
Piedmont: Aug 15 - Oct 1 Mountain Valleys: Aug 1 Sept 15
í˘ľ Aug 1 - Sept 30 í˘ś Sept 1 - Nov 1 í˘ˇ North: Aug 1 - Sept 15
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í˘¸ North: July 15 - Aug 20
South: July 20 - Aug 25
í˘š Aug 1 - Aug 31 ě?… Aug 1 - Sept 15 32
WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2
ě?ˆ Sept 15 - Nov 15 ě?‰ North: Sept 5 - Nov 15
Central: Sept 15 - Nov 15 South: Sept 25 - Nov 15
ě”ˆ North: Aug 25 - Oct 15
South: Sept 5 - Oct 30
ě”‰ North: Sept 5 - Nov 15
Coastal: Sept 15 - Nov 15 South: Sept 25 - Nov 15
ě”Š Coastal: Sept 25 - Oct 15
Piedmont: Sept 1 - Oct 5 Mountain: Aug 25 - Oct 15
ě”‹ North: Sept 15 - Nov 15
Central: Sept 15 - Nov 25 South: Oct 5 - Nov 30
ě”Œ Aug 1 - Sept 1 ě”? Aug 20 - Sept 30 www.whitetailinstitute.com
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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This young whitetail is browsing on a new PowerPlant food plot.
The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043
Research = Results™ Vol. 20, No. 2 /
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
SOIL TEST KITS
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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Soil testing is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the success of your plantings — of any kind. The Institute is pleased to now provide soil test kits and results for all Imperial products or any other type seeds. (Complete instructions and all related information will come with kits.) Test results include pH, phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Fertilizer and lime recommendations for maximum performance from your plantings will be provided. The average turnaround time is 24-48 hours after our lab receives the sample. The charge for the kit and results is $9.95. If ordered alone, add $2.50 shipping and handling for unlimited number of kits. If ordered with other Imperial products there is no shipping charge.
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Mail to: Whitetail Institute • 239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043 or CALL TOLL FREE 1-800-688-3030
WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 2
Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043 FAX 334-286-9723
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