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Whitetail Institute OFFICERS AND STAFF ®

Ray Scott Founder and President Wilson Scott Vice President of Operations Steve Scott Vice President, Executive Editor William Cousins Operations Manager Wayne Hanna, Ph.D. Agronomist & Director of Forage Research Mark Trudeau National Sales Manager Justin Moore, Frank Deese Wildlife Biologists Jon Cooner Director of Special Projects Brandon Self, John White Product Consultants Greg Aston Dealer/Distributor Sales Steffani Hood Dealer/Distributor Analyst Dawn McGough Office Manager Mary Jones Internet Customer Service Manager Teri Hudson Internet and Office Assistant Marlin Swain Shipping Manager Bart Landsverk Whitetail News Senior Editor 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 Contributing Writers Susan Scott Copy Editor George Pudzis Art Director Wade Atchley, Atchley Media Advertising Director


Vol. 20, No. 3 /



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

Hunting Can Be a Double-Edged Sword


very now and then I read something that makes me laugh, cry and above all — think. That was the effect of R.G. Bernier’s article on the next page. I always expect something philosophical and even poetic from Bernier, who is not only a legendary whitetail hunter and naturalist but an author, award-winning photographer and lecturer. In this issue he reminds us of something many may forget in their whitetail career and that is that the hunting experience is a journey and not just a destination, i.e. a big buck. It’s a total experience to savour and enjoy with exciting and fulfilling detours off the beaten path. If they take the authentic journey, I think most serious hunters inevitably find some bumps in the road and even dead ends along the way. They also recognize at some point that hunting can be a real paradox — a double-edged sword — if you will. Like my wife has always said, she’s never seen people work so hard to have fun. Now of course she understands all the preparation and anticipation is half the enjoyment. But it is also true that a sport that can be so contemplative, nature-

oriented and centered around fellowship, friendship and fun with other hunters can turn into ego-driven competition, resentment, ruined relationships and a drive for more toys and above all, trophies. So If you find yourself getting caught up on the sword’s uncomfortable edge, remember Bernier’s words, “when you eventually die, there will be no whitetails attending your funeral, and stuffed deer heads don’t count, because they’re past caring. Only those people who cared most about you will be there… those are the ones who count, the ones who matter… the ones who experienced the journey beside you.” Keep Mr. Bernier’s sage advice in mind and I guarantee you’ll get more out of your whitetail hunting for the rest of your life and I’m not just talking about big bucks.

Ray Scott

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

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Hunting is a Journey Not a Destination

By R.G. Bernier Photos by the Author

“There will always be, in the hunter’s memory, the song of a little mountain brook, discovered in his wanderings; the heart-stopping clutch as a magnificent buck bounds from a windfall hideaway; the triumphant moment when, by wits and woodsmanship alone, he has tracked down his whitetail buck and sent forth the well-placed shot that brought his trophy to bag.” — Larry Koller, Shots At Whitetails www.whitetailinstitute.com

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ster buck (the destination) trumps a relationship (the journey). Irreparable damage is inflicted fracturing families, friendships and personal conduct all for the mighty buck. There’s not a whitetail walking this planet, regardless of how big he might be, that is more important to me than my family and friends. Think about this the next time you might be tempted to discard a relationship over a whitetail. When you eventually die, there will be no whitetails attending your funeral, and stuffed deer heads don’t count because they’re past caring. Only those people who cared most about you will be there to pay their final respects. Those are the ones who count, the ones who matter, the ones you invested in, and the ones who experienced the journey beside you and will be there when you have reached your final destination.

n the amber afterglow of a November setting sun, I trained my sights on the biggest whitetail buck of my hunting career. There, in the knee-deep snow, he teetered mortally wounded from my initial volley of shots hours before and a long distance from whence we began the chase. As the shot rang out, the buck melted into the white tapestry. As I approached the downed beast, he blinked once, gasped a final breath and then was motionless at his final resting spot. The paradoxical emotions of jubilation and sadness flooded me as I admired my prize. Sitting atop a windfall next to the buck of my dreams — wet, tired and mentally spent — a wave of reflective thoughts came rushing in. The countless miles that I’d traveled on the trail of this magnificent creature — up and over three ridges, and through two swamps — made the accomplishment that much more special. The tenacity of the buck and his sheer will to escape capture made him a formidable foe. The sheer fact that I was able to succeed was satisfying. And even after many years later, gazing upon that fine head on the wall, I continue to reflect on that hunt. I can, with vivid recall, remember the six-mile hike out that evening in the dark, and the three days afterward that it ultimately took to drag the vanquished monarch out to a drivable road. Memories — those golden moments we all have to reflect upon in the quietness of our hearts — are snapshots of a particular time, event and place. They are unique only to you and become part of the mind’s ever-updating photo album that can never be erased. As I grow older, the more precious these wonderful recollections mean to me, and I cling to them fancifully. I’ve been allotted more than my fair share, for which I’m extremely grateful. Several of my most treasured reminiscences don’t necessarily have anything to do with a kill, although many have emerged while in the act of hunting or time shared with hunting partners near and dear to me. Outdoor writer Pat Durkin expressed this sentiment so well when he wrote, “Memories are often easier to accommodate than the person who inspired them. Memories can be generous. They don’t pick at the quirks and defects. They tend to find the good that’s so often hidden in 6

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3


real life.” As hunters, we often become susceptible to getting caught up in the proverbial trap of getting to the end of our trip, our goal, our prize and often lose sight of the enjoyment to be had along the way. We become so focused on the outcome that we miss the subtle high points in the journey to get there. THE VALUE OF RELATIONSHIPS The famous country/western group Alabama recorded a single in the early 1990s, the lyrics of which more than emphasize the importance that is placed on getting to the destination instead of enjoying the journey. “I’m in a hurry to get things done Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun All I really gotta do is live and die But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.” Relationships are built through time and are an investment. The people we choose to hunt with should be more important than the animal we seek. After all, you can always kill a deer — it’s difficult to replace relationships. Through the years, I’ve had hunted with a number of people: family, friends and those who wanted more than I had to give. Trust me when I tell you, good hunting partners are hard to come by. And when you find them, always — and I mean always — put them first. Jealousy and envy have a cruel way of eroding even the sincerest of friendships. I’ve seen it happen far too often where the priority of killing that mon-

Superiority has a funny way of rearing its ugly head amongst deer hunters. And when this happens, we lose sight of exactly why we are out there. Hunting deer is supposed to be an invigorating, enjoyable pastime, in which the outcome should never be based on hits or misses, and antler score, points or size, but rather in the experience and opportunity to engage in such a wonderful God-given exercise of freedom and right. Yet we squabble about our methodology, choice of weapon, the size and sex of the deer we shoot, baiting, high fences and other considerations. I’m a deer tracker, but it doesn’t necessarily make me a better deer hunter than a guy who diligently sits in a tree stand for hours. What it demonstrates is that the tree-stand hunter gets as much satisfaction from deciphering exactly where the optimum location is to perch aloft and ambush his deer as I gain from dogging my quarry from dawn-to-dusk, gobbling up endless miles in hopes of getting a shot. When it comes to the debate about weaponry, again we get caught up in contentions as if it really mattered to the deer how it was going to die. Just remember, on average, automobiles kill far more deer than guns, bows or muzzleloaders combined. I think it would make a lot more sense and cause much less grief if instead of looking down our long nose of disapproval about what another hunter is using for a legal weapon, thinking they might have a marked advantage, to cough up the dough it would take to buy that hunting tool and go hunt, or bid the chap God speed and hunt with whatever fits his fancy. Personal limitations are what we impose upon our self, not on others. Sadly, our culture has seen fit to elevate deer hunting personalities into rock stars. In many instances, the ordinary deer hunter does a comwww.whitetailinstitute.com

parative of what is seen on TV and their own experiences, and the two don’t seem to add up. Well here’s the dirty little secret: It never will, because you’re not hunting on a level playing field. In large, many of the made-for-TV hunting shows are 23 minutes of spliced up entertainment where the participants have the best of locations, equipment, time and most of all, money to spend. What you choose to shoot for a deer on any outing is a personal choice and should never be compared with what anyone else chooses. Further, what’s hanging from your game pole at the season’s end has more to do with circumstances and choice than it ever will with being as good or inferior a deer hunter to someone else. Gene Wensel stated it best when he wrote, “What we carry for weapons may vary, and how we hunt might be different, but what we carry in our heart is the same — we’re all hunters.” WHY WE HUNT Ask any group of hunters that question and you’re sure to get a variety of solid responses. Retorts like the one given by the former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin: “I eat therefore I hunt.” Respondents would undoubtedly reply that they hunt for sport, as an outlet, camaraderie, a challenge or other reasons. All are

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

sound. I have pondered that question time after time, but I always come back to the same conclusion: I hunt for personal satisfaction. That is why I hunt in the manner that I do — tracking — and why I must hunt where I do, the wilderness. I have yet to find another methodology that can bring me the same gratification or provide the necessary ingredients to enhance my journey. Primal Dreams producers Gene and Barry Wensel outline the very essence of hunting better than I have ever heard expressed when they state, “Why we hunt is far more important than where, when or how. Hunting for the right reasons is much more important than the act itself. It defines fair chase; our level of passion, our future, our very existence.” They go on to list seven elements that conclusively shape hunting as a journey, not a destination. 1. Wonderment: When we see nature played out before our eyes for the first time, it’s like looking through the eyes of a child and we stand excitably in awe. 2. Hope: When we watch a newborn fawn stumbling on wobbly legs in its first attempt to stand and nurse, our heart roots for its ultimate survival. 3. Anticipation: When oversized tracks litter the ground in your hunting area, coupled with rubs on trees you cannot wrap your arms

around. 4. Self-reliance: When you leave the comforts of a warm bed well before the rooster crows and meet the harsh demands that the elements can throw at you only to return the next day for more. 5. Responsibility: When hitting your mark is consistently practiced, confidence replaces apprehension. 6. Sustenance: When preparation meets opportunity, a bounty of food is provided for the hunter. 7. Pride: When goals are achieved, the strenuous effort it took to get there intensifies — accomplished goals cannot be met without the journey. When these seven elements cannot be bought, we are left with God’s gifts and a way of life where memories and dreams flourish. CONCLUSION Each journey is filled with unexpected twists and turns around each new bend in the trail. The journey also has with it many unfulfilled dreams — that’s what keeps us coming back, year after year. But on some lucky radiant day when those dreams turn into the destination, it’s then that you realize that the journey itself is the destination, providing memories lasting for a lifetime.W

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SMARTforSELECTIONS ATV Implements By Jon Cooner Photos by Whitetail Institute

Perhaps no other ATV implement offers as many potential uses as a spray rig.


hink you need a tractor and heavy equipment to plant and maintain food plots? Many tasks that are required to prepare a seedbed, plant and maintain forages, keep trails clear and do a host of other jobs on your hunting property can be done with an ATV and ATV implements. Don’t make the mistake, though, of looking in your next hunting equipment catalog and buying every ATV implement you see. You’ll be a lot happier (and have a lot more money left) if you approach your ATV equipment selection in an informed way. And that’s what I hope this article will help you do. In this article, I’ll tell you about some ATV implements that we use here at the Whitetail Institute. Links to the manufacturers mentioned are also provided in the sidebar to this article. ATVS FOR FOOD PLOT WORK Before you even start thinking about ATV implements you’ll first need something to pull them with: an ATV. Generally, I suggest you get a water-cooled, 4X4 ATV that has an engine of at least a 300cc for food plot work. If you already have an ATV and it’s a less robust model, that doesn’t mean that you have to trade it in for something else. Less powerful ATVs can often do quite well for food plot work. Just be sure that the equipment you ask it to pull is not as heavy and that you don’t tax it as hard because heavier jobs such as disking can prematurely age any machine if it has to regularly operate near the upper limits of its capacity. I still use the same 400cc 4X4 ATV that’s over 10

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

a decade old for all my food plot work, and it still does everything I need it to. Also, my ATV is water-cooled, and that is a big help when the machine is running for extended periods under a heavy load and at slow speed. Now let’s take a look at ATV implements for food plot work. There are two general categories: seedbed-preparation implements and forage-maintenance implements. As you’ll see there is some overlap, as you’ll use some implements in both roles. ATV IMPLEMENTS FOR SEEDBED PREPARATION AND PLANTING (Including sprayers, lime spreaders, plows, disks, cultivators, harrows, seed and fertilizer spreaders and cultipackers) Seedbed preparation equipment is needed when planting perennials (forages designed to last for more than one calendar year) and many annuals (forages designed to last for part of one calendar year). These implements are used to get the seedbed “ready to plant” (adjust soil pH by incorporating lime into the seedbed when soil pH is below 6.5, till the soil, fertilize, smooth and firm the seedbed) and to plant the seed. ATV SPRAYER Perhaps no other ATV implement offers as many potential uses for the hunter and food plotter as a spray rig. In fact, if you’re planning to work up a fallow plot site with an ATV, your spray rig may be the very first implement you use. The biggest advantages tractors have over ATVs are weight and power. Comparatively light

ATVs can have a hard time disking fallow sites covered in thick grass or weeds because they may not have the weight and power needed to pull an implement capable of cutting up those roots. In such cases, consider spraying the site with a Roundup-type herbicide a few weeks before you plan to till. That can help kill the roots, allowing comparatively light ATV disks and tillers to dig into the ground vastly more easily. (Remember that glyphosate herbicides enter grasses and weeds through their leaves, so it must be sprayed after spring green-up, when the plants are actively growing). Features: ATV sprayers are fairly straightforward and are available at competitive prices through mail-order catalogs, from box stores and from local farm-supply stores. They consist of three main assemblies: (1) a tank to hold the spray solution, (2) a transfer mechanism powered by the ATV’s battery, and (3) spray nozzles mounted to a boom. Some sprayers mount to the ATV, while others are towed. Get a sprayer with at least a 15-gallon tank capacity. You can get ATV-mounted sprayers with larger tanks, and that’s fine too, but if you are going to only spray an acre at a time, you won’t need more capacity than 15-gallons. You can get much larger tanks with tow-behind units, but the drawback with them is that they are not as easy to maneuver. Two great options are a folding boom with shut-off valves, and a hand-wand attachment. The folding boom and shut-offs will allow you to turn off all the spray nozzles except the one directly behind the ATV, fold the boom up and out of the way, and spray trails as you ride along. www.whitetailinstitute.com

This is a great way to keep trails clear and does not leave them muddy the way disking them can. A wand attachment will allow you to stop and spot-spray. LIME SPREADER The most important factor you can control to ensure food plot success is to check soil pH and adjust it when necessary. Check the soil pH of the soil in each plot with a laboratory soil test. If the lab report shows that soil pH is below 6.5, it will also tell you how much lime to add to the plot. In the vast majority of cases, the soil pH of fallow ground is acidic (below 6.5), and lime must be added to raise it. Lime works in particle-toparticle contact with the soil’s particles. You can imagine how many dirt particles are in the top few inches of an acre of ground, and that’s why lime recommendations are often expressed in tons of lime per acre. Many farm supply stores will sell lime by the truck load and even deliver and spread it for you for a fee. Others will rent you a buggy that holds several tons of lime and let you haul it to the field with your own truck. Neither may be a great option when the plots are a long way from the store or the plots cannot be reached with big lime trucks and buggies. In such cases, the only option was to buy much more expensive pelleted lime, which is more finely ground limestone suspended in clay balls for use with a broadcast spreader.


These days, though, there’s a third choice that lets you use less expensive ag lime and put it out yourself: personal lime spreaders. One we continue to use extensively at the Institute (because it works) is the Groundbuster Lime Spreader. It’s built out of heavy gauge sheet metal for strength, comes with heavy duty tires and wheels, and is designed to dispense lime evenly, even over rough ground. The Groundbuster comes in two sizes (1-ton (for tractors) or 1/2-ton (for tractors or strong ATVs with a 2-inch ball). Groundbuster will even build a custom size for you. ATV PLOWS, DISKS AND CULTIVATORS Plows, disks and cultivators are ground-tillage implements used during seedbed preparation. Of these, ATV disks and cultivators arguably offer the most bang for the buck for the average ATV food plotter. Generally speaking, these can be lumped into two categories, which I refer to as “lighter” and “heavier.” Lighter ATV disks and cultivators are built with all the parts combined into a single tool that is not adjustable. An example is the fliptype disk implements that consist of a flat steep plate with fixed disk gangs welded to one side, wheels on the other, and a towing arm with a swiveling coupler on the front. The unit is towed to the site with the wheels down, and when it

gets there the entire implement is turned over so that the disk blades are down. Heavier units have a main frame to which the wheels and disk gangs are attached in a way that allows each such component to be separately adjusted. For example, heavier ATV disks often have pin adjustments for the angle of the disk blades and many also have electric motors to raise and lower the disk gangs within the implement’s frame. An implement’s ability to cut into the soil depends on how much “down pressure” it can apply to the soil. A big factor in down pressure is implement weight, and this is the biggest limiting factor of most ATV ground-tillage implements — they must be comparatively light because ATVs aren’t strong enough to pull heavy, tractor-type implements. Kolpin’s Dirtwork’s Series is an incredibly ingenious system that overcomes this problem to a great extent by adding some of the ATV’s own weight to the implement to increase the implement’s down pressure. At the heart of the system is a 3-point hitch mounting assembly that attaches to the ATV and works much like the 3-point hitch system on a tractor. Once the 3-point hitch assembly is mounted, different components can then be swapped in and out to do lots of different food plot jobs. DRAG HARROW Also commonly referred to as a “spring har-

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row,” these are basically just a mat of heavy gauge chain-link with spring-shaped teeth extending from one side of the matt. The harrow can be used with the teeth up to smooth a disked seedbed before planting small-seeds, and it can be used with the teeth down to cover large seeds. These are inexpensive and generally available from most farm-supply stores and box stores. (For a complete description of drag harrows see Part 4 of Mark Trudeau’s “Turning Dirt” series here: http://www.whitetailinstitute.com/ info/news/Turning_Dirt4.pdf.) SEEDERS / FERTILIZER SPREADERS The Whitetail Institute recommends using a shoulder-type spreader for fertilizing plots that are too small to need an ATV, and for putting out seed. If you’re planting larger plots, it makes more sense to put out fertilizer with an ATVmounted spreader. Earthway makes excellent examples of both. Unlike the cheap grass-type bag spreaders with a canvas pouch you get at most lawn and garden stores, the Earthway shoulder spreader is truly heavy duty. The body, gears and crank assembly are strong, the bag is made of thick nylon instead of canvas, and the zipper is reinforced. I have two. One is six years old, the other is three years old, and both are still going strong. For larger sites where an ATV spreader is more practical, Earthway’s 12-Volt Broadcast Spreader is a super choice

Kolpin’s Dirtworks Series uses the ATV’s weight to increase implement down pressure.

CULTIPACKER A cultipacker is basically just a roller on bearings mounted to a frame, which is towed by the ATV. After disking a seedbed in which you’ll be planting small seeds, you must smooth and firm it before you put the seed out. That’s because small seeds are just that — “small,” and if you cover them by more than 1/4-inch of soil they likely won’t survive. A drag harrow can be used

to smooth a seedbed sufficiently to eliminate cracks into which small seeds can fall and be buried too deep, and it is the optimum tool for covering large seeds. The optimum tool for smoothing and firming a seedbed before planting small seeds is a cultipacker. One benefit of most high-quality ATV cultipackers is that they have a “corrugated”, or wavy, packing surface, which leaves ridges in the soil. These ridges can help the soil retain moisture better, help keep seeds from washing off sloped sites. Interestingly, this is one implement where the units designed for ATVs may actually be better than large, tractor cultipackers for planting small-seed food plots. The ATV units leave ridges that are shallower, leaving less chance that small seeds will be covered too deep on a subsequent pass or by hard rain. Excellent ATV cultipackers are available from Kolpin and Kunz Engineering. FOOD PLOT ATV IMPLEMENTS FOR PERENNIAL MAINTENANCE — MOWERS AND SPRAYERS Generally, forage maintenance is needed only with perennial forages. The main perennialmaintenance implements you’ll need are a mower and a sprayer. MOWERS If you will be planting an Imperial perennial

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blend, then you’ll need to do basic maintenance starting the next spring if you want it to stay as lush and attractive as possible, and last as long as intended. One step in our suggested maintenance instructions for Imperial perennials is that you mow them a few times in the spring and maybe once again in the fall, if possible before anything in the plot has a chance to flower (make seeds). Preventing the forage plants from flowering keeps them even more lush, nutritious and attractive. Mowing can also help prevent weeds from flowering, which can help break the re-seeding cycle and help with weed and grass control. When selecting a mower for food plot maintenance, home-type residential lawnmowers are usually not a very good option. One reason is that most are nowhere near sturdy enough to handle food plot work for very long. Another is that most residential mower decks can’t be raised high enough to leave plots at least 4-6 inches tall, which is recommended when maintenance mowing perennials. The best mower I have ever seen for food plot and trail work is the Kunz Engineering Rough Cut Mower. A while back, the guys from Kunz brought one of these mowers to the Institute, and it didn’t take long for me to be sold. I am telling you — that mower is a hoss! It is tough and powerful. I watched it go through deep, tall sedge grass and even some thick stands of tree

saplings, and the Kunz mower took them down without its motor even slowing down. There may be tougher or stronger food plot mowers out there, but if there are any, I haven’t seen them. MORE ON SPRAYERS As I mentioned earlier, spraying a site with a Roundup-type herbicide before disking can help ATV disk implements work the soil much more effectively. If you’ll be planting perennials, you may also need to spray them in the spring to control grass and weeds. The two main ways to control grass and

The Kunz Engineering Rough Cut mower is the strongest ATV-suitable mower the author has ever seen.

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

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weeds in Imperial perennial plots are spraying and mowing. Spraying a selective herbicide such as the Whitetail Institute’s Arrest herbicide product is generally the most effective way to control grass in Imperial perennials because grass generally grows from its roots rather than relying on reseeding. The Whitetail Institute’s Slay herbicide is for controlling weeds in clover and alfalfa. Above, I recommended that you get a sprayer with at least a 15-gallon tank capacity. That’s because the minimum amount of water that should be used in a one-acre spray solution of Arrest or Slay is 15 gallons. When it comes to preparing my seedbeds and maintaining my perennials, I plan on continuing to use my ATV and the equipment I mentioned above for the foreseeable future. Sources for the equipment mentioned in this article: Groundbuster Ton Lime Spreader: http://www.groundbusters.com/node/3?q=nod e/6 Kolpin Dirtworks Series: http://www.kolpinpowersports.com/products/dirtworksseries.html Kunz Engineering: http://www.kunzeng.com/ Earthway Shoulder Spreaders: http://www.whitetailinstitute.com/products/spr eader/ Earthway 12-Volt Broadcast Spreader: http://www.earthway.com/category/12-volt/ W

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Vol. 20, No. 3 /



Food Plots Perfect for Youth Turkey Hunting By Sam Parrish Photo by Tes Randle Jolly


he clock was ticking during Wisconsin's youth turkey hunt, and we needed to make something happen. Time to dial up the food plot connection. My friend Cory guided me and our youth hunter along a multiflora-rose-choked ridge to the edge of a large Conservation Reserve Program field. Then, he pointed toward a timbered ridge that tapered down to a dandy clover plot. “There were birds there at midmorning yesterday,” he said. “The hens are hitting it pretty heavy, and a gobbler can't be too far away.” I yelped loudly on an aluminum call. Sure enough, a distant gobbler responded. “He’s way down at the base of the ridge,” Cory said, “but he’ll probably try to hit that food plot where the hens have been. Let’s go.” We hot-footed it along the woods edge, crossed a town road and slipped 100 yards down an old logging trail that connected with the food plot. “Try him,” Cory said. I yelped softly, and the bird cut me off less than 100 yards away. “He’s already coming,” Cory said. I stayed back to float-call, and Cory led the young hunter to a nifty setup 30 yards ahead of me. When he gave me the go-ahead, I hit the call again. The bird hammered back just 75 yards away, probably from the middle of the clover patch. From there, it was Turkey 101. I switched to soft purring and clucking and scratched the roadside leaves two or three times. Within a minute, drumming filled the air, and I could see Cory instructing the youngster on where to point his gun. After a tense 30-second interlude, a shot cut through the crisp April air, and Cory gave me the thumbs-up. “Bingo,” Cory said. “He went right to the plot, and we got to watch the whole show.” Our youth hunter was justifiably excited. He'd killed a dandy gobbler — 23 pounds, with 1-3/8-inch hooks and a bushy beard. Moreover, he’d witnessed the type of video hunt — strutting, drumming and gobbling during a headlong approach — of which even veteran hunters dream. We shook hands and celebrated. Food plots and youth turkey hunts had again proven to be a deadly combination. 14

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

THE FOOD PLOT CONNECTION As more states rightfully try to get children involved in hunting at younger ages, youth turkey hunts have become a staple of spring across the country. At least 36 states offer special youth hunts, and the Families Afield Initiative — spearheaded by the National Wild Turkey Federation, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance — has opened hunting opportunities to more than 100,000 young hunters. Many youth turkey hunts are held before states open their regular seasons, giving youngsters and their mentors the chance to pursue unhunted, unpressured turkeys. Because these hunts occur early in spring, turkeys are often grouped up in large winter flocks, and hens typically gravitate to the best available food. Where hens go, gobblers surely follow. Likely areas include agricultural fields, spots with leftover mast and greening food plots. I focus on food plots because they offer the most advantages. Food plots are usually smaller than pastures, or corn or bean fields. Those spots attract birds in early spring, but their relatively large size can complicate a hunt. Unless you choose a spot-on setup within range of where turkeys enter and leave a large field, a hunt can be finished quickly. When birds walk into a large field, they often hang out of shotgun range and can see any potential danger for hundreds of yards. It’s fun to watch field turkeys, but it’s a daunting task to kill one. The smaller size of many food plots narrows the safe zone for turkeys and often lets youth hunters and their mentors set up within shotgun range of likely feeding spots. Also, open clover patches or other food plots give young hunters a clear view of the action, which lets them observe turkey behavior and eliminates the problem of having to scan the woods looking for the red-white-and-blue flash of a gobbler’s head. In addition, a longbeard in an open food plot provides a clear, clean shot, so youth hunters don’t have to worry about shooting a sapling or picking out a lane in thick timber to attempt a snap-shot. That also benefits mentors, because they can focus on their charges and give quick, clear instructions on when the youngster should move and when he should shoot. They can worry less about the turkey and more about their No. 1 priority: a young hunter whose heart will likely be pounding through his camouflage. HOW-TO When scouting for youth turkey hunts, I first try to identify where turkeys are roosting, feeding and traveling in between. If they’re hitting a food plot, I seek possible ambush spots at the plot or along their travel route from the roost. Then I look for spots to build or place a blind. Many veteran hunters eschew blinds, whether because of tradition or because they want mobility. However, children often get antsy after a few minutes in the woods, and turkeys don’t respond well to herky-jerky movewww.whitetailinstitute.com

ments. A blind lets young hunters move around and stay comfortable while staying concealed from sharp gobbler eyes. If a food plot is small enough and is surrounded by enough large timber, I often construct a small blind or place a portable blind at a point or narrow area in the field. That decreases the distance of potential shots if a gobbler enters the plot but hangs up. I might make a setup where the gobbler enters the field, but I avoid doing so if timber or terrain would let a silent bird appear suddenly. Remember, I want to take brush, timber and other cover out of the equation so the youngster can focus on the turkey and have an open shot. When hunting larger food plots, I’ll place a pop-up blind right in the plot. For whatever reason, turkeys don't yet associate pop-up blinds with danger, and they’ll often walk right past them. If birds seem to be hanging out in the middle of a 50-acre clover plot, I’m not shy about setting up shop with them. Because food plots are open, you should use one or more decoys when hunting them. Gobblers instinctively want visual reassurance for the hencalling they heard. If they enter an open area and don’t see the hen they heard, they usually leave because they sense it’s not natural. During early spring, I use several decoys, and I focus on realism. I start with at least two hen decoys in a feeding position. Decoys with upright heads work fine sometimes, but a turkey with an upright head is alert and looking for something, not relaxed. I also prefer flocked decoys, which cut down on reflection from sunlight and provide added realism. If the youth hunt is at a property with no other hunters, I’ll also add a jake or strutter decoy. When a gobbler sees a jake or another gobbler, it often provokes an aggressive response, especially during early spring, when turkeys are still actively sorting out dominance and their pecking orders. Conversely, gobbler decoys can intimidate two-year-olds and other male turkeys that have been whipped by flockmates. When they work, the results can be spectacular. When they don’t, a hunt can fall flat. When a youth food-plot turkey hunt commences, I usually call like I would during any other hunt, with one notable exception: I’m not shy about hitting the yelper. Hens are often the most vocal and raucous during early spring, so it doesn’t seem unrealistic to call a lot. Also, frequent calling — and hopefully responses — gives young hunters a better idea of the spring game and keeps them interested. If they can hear constant gobbling as a bird slowly approaches, their anticipation and excitement builds, adding to the experience. If the hunt goes well and a turkey walks into range, focus entirely on the youth hunter, and don’t be afraid to provide too much instruction. Tell him what the turkey is doing, and be mindful of the hunter’s movements. Instruct him about when to raise the gun and click off the safety. Tell him when you’ll make the turkey stop, and when it does, be clear about where to aim and when to shoot.


The new Turkey Skinz™ are a fully feathered cloth skin/cape layered with real turkey feathers. This system completely wraps your existing decoy in realistic and natural appearing feathers. We all know feathered decoys are more effective but the cost has been prohibitive until now. Turkey Skinz™ are the solution at a fraction of the cost of a “stuffer” so bring that old decoy to life and sit back and enjoy better results on your next hunt.

ANOTHER CONNECTION? After Cory and I registered the young hunter's bird, we met the boy's younger brother and hit an island on a large river. We crept through the timber, aiming for a small food plot on the island's northern shore. When we arrived, my yelps brought four responses — from the timber across the river. “Well, what should we do?” I asked. Cory shrugged. “We can't go there,” he said. “Might as well try them here.” So we did. And 20 minutes later, four gobblers flew across the river, landed on a sandbar and marched single-file into our food plot. Our youth hunter dropped the lead bird at 15 steps. Will food plots let you call gobblers across rivers to the gun barrel? Not always. But that hunt illustrates the powerful attraction and great youth hunting opportunity provided by food plots. Focus on food plots this youth turkey season, and give a young hunter the strutting, drumming and gobbling show of a lifetime. W www.whitetailinstitute.com


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Vol. 20, No. 3 /





his series of photos documents the antler growth and behavior of a buck I photographed through 12 years. The buck lived on an incredible piece of property in the Northeast that was off limits to hunting. Aside from protection from hunters, he had a normal life, complete with many challenges from Mother Nature. His home range featured a substantial predator population and received significant snowfall during winter.

Throughout my career, I’ve imprinted many whitetails on the sound of corn rattling in a plastic can. This buck was one such animal. Unlike many of the deer on this property, the buck had a gentle disposition and never exhibited any aggressiveness toward me, even during the fullblown rut. Consequently, I could follow him and document some incredible behavior through several years. As the buck aged, I was even able to feed him out of my hand.

A Year in the Life of a Yankee Buck By Charles J. Alsheimer Photos by the Author



WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3



Interestingly, this buck was only a three-inch spike as a yearling. His largest set of antlers was grown in his sixth year and measured 169 Boone & Crockett. When the buck reached four, he began casting his antlers on nearly the same day each year. This let me know when I needed to be present to capture these rare antler-casting images. Only once did the buck shed both antlers at the same time. Normally, he would cast one antler about Feb. 25 and then carry the other for a day or two. This sequence was taken when the buck was seven. It covers a year in his life — from antler cast to antler cast. During the year these photos were taken, his rack scored 165 Boone and Crockett. WINTER The sequence begins in the dead of winter, a time the Native Americans called the “Hunger Moon.” In the area this buck lived, it’s not uncommon for temperatures to hover between zero and the low teens for days. Such bitter cold is the reason the natural world comes to a halt in the North during January and February. During the year this sequence was photographed, this buck was in the prime of his life. He was the dominant buck in the area, and with



the exception of occasional interaction with the other bucks in his bachelor group, he kept to himself during winter. About 90 percent of his time was spent bedded, with his daytime feeding usually occurring at midday and during the last hour of daylight. In spite of snow depths in excess of a foot for most of the winter, he appeared to come through March in very good shape. SPRING As with most mature bucks I’ve observed through the years, this buck began growing his antlers about March 20. His antler growth was minimal during the first month. However, when spring green-up arrived and the days became longer, his antler growth accelerated. When winter passed its torch to spring, the big buck’s changing fur coat made him look very unhealthy. Like the other deer in the area, he began losing clumps of fur around May 1. By the beginning of June, his summer coat was fully grown, and he took on a very sleek look. When June bursts on to the scene, black flies and other insects can be a real nuisance for wildlife. Consequently, the latter stages of spring can be very stressful for Northern whitetails. This buck

attempted to flee the insects’ assault by bedding in high grass and staying close to water sources. As a result, he was often difficult to locate later in spring. SUMMER When July arrived, the buck was beginning to show his antler potential. Though they would eventually be much longer, all of his antler points were visible by mid-July. He also became more predictable as the summer progressed, and I often photographed him in a couple of clover fields at either end of the day. He would feed alone occasionally, but it was more common for him to stay in a bachelor group of four bucks, of which he was the largest. By Aug. 1, his antlers were full grown and were as big as they would be at any point during the year. Around mid-August, they began to shrink in size, and the velvet on them changed from a dark brown to a grayish tone, which is typical when the antler calcification process begins. I photographed the buck just before dark Sept. 4, and it didn’t appear that his antlers were ready to peel. However, when I located him the next day, he had stripped almost all of the velvet from his rack.


Vol. 20, No. 3 /




AUG. 20

AUTUMN As autumn progressed, the big 9-pointer revealed his dominance to the bucks in the area at every opportunity. He would do this by staring down other bucks, dropping his ears, bristling his hair and, in a few cases, fighting. Because he was the largest buck around, most of the others never challenged him to a fight. During September and October, the buck didn’t move a great deal during daylight, preferring to feed at either end of the day. By the latter part of September, he no longer spent time with his summer bachelor group, opting instead to keep to himself. Frequently, I photographed him making rubs and scrapes. By the end of October, he


OCT. 25

was in peak condition and laden with fat. He also was becoming increasingly active. When the air temperature dropped below 40 degrees, I knew he would be up and moving around his territory. During one two-hour period, I photographed him making 10 scrapes and two rubs. He had turned into a rutting machine. By the time the rutting moon shown full Nov. 4, he looked like he was ready to explode. During the next week, he challenged every buck and chased every doe he encountered. He also vocalized a great deal. It was obvious from his aggressive behavior that his testosterone had peaked. On Nov. 18, the weather turned cold, and the season’s first snowfall arrived. Bucks were going ballistic, including the big 9-pointer. He had found a doe near estrous and stuck

NOV. 1


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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3


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

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


NOV. 18

close to her side. Throughout the day, three smaller bucks stayed close enough to cause quite a commotion. Their presence highly irritated the big buck. He trashed small trees, snort-wheezed and tried to run them off. Because they knew the doe was nearing estrous they hung around in spite of the big 9-pointer’s challenges. This scenario continued for two days. On Nov. 19, I photographed the big buck breeding the doe four times during the day. By midday on the 20th, the doe obviously had cycled out of estrous and no longer “smelled right,” as the buck left her to look for another breeding opportunity. WINTER By early December, the buck appeared to have lost a considerable amount of weight from the rut. He was no longer looking for does. Instead, he spent much of his time bedding and feeding. His winter routine had returned. Because this buck lived on excellent range and had access to ample food, he always dropped his antlers within a day or two of the previous year beginning when he was four years old. Consequently, he shed one antler Feb. 23, and two days later the other was cast. His yearly cycle was complete. W

NOV. 20

FEB. 23


Vol. 20, No. 3 /




ARREST AND SLAY: Excellent Tools in Your Weed-Control Arsenal!

mperial perennial forages are designed to perform for years with proper planting, Mother Nature’s cooperation and a little maintenance. Arrest and Slay are herbicide products offered by the Whitetail Institute to help you control weed competition in perennial forage stands. In this article, we’ll look at your entire weed-control arsenal and how Arrest and Slay fit into it. WEED CONTROL IN IMPERIAL PERENNIALS— GENERALLY

When we talk about “weeds” we’re referring to any plant that’s growing where we don’t want it. And again, that’s any plant — grass, broadleaf weeds, briars, ferns —anything that’s growing in our food plot that we need to control to keep it from competing with our forage plants. A great way to get a good jump on weed control later is to do a good job of preparing the seedbed before planting so that the seedbed is as “stale” (free of growing weeds and dormant weed seed) as possible. No matter how good a job we do of preparing our seedbeds, though, odds are high that after we plant, weeds will return at some point. Weeds can appear from dormant seeds in the soil. Some weeds can produce millions of seeds, and many weed seeds have very thick seed coats, allowing them to remain dormant on or in the soil for years. Weed seed is also commonly introduced into our food plots by wind, animals, and even farming equipment. In short, weeds almost always return, and we need to control them if we want our perennials to last as long as they should. The good news is that most weeds can be effectively suppressed or controlled — if the right measures are taken, and timed correctly. Specifically, weed control efforts must be matched to (1) the forage we’re trying to maintain, (2) the specific weeds we’re trying to control and (3) performed at the optimum time in the weed’s life cycle. PRELIMINARIES ABOUT SELECTIVE HERBICIDES Following, we’ll be looking at some common types of weeds and methods that work best for controlling them. In many cases, the Institute’s two herbicide products, Arrest (a selective grass-control herbicide) and Slay (a selective broadleaf-weed herbicide) may be the best option. But that’s not true in all cases. Before using either, you absolutely must check the herbicide labels to be sure of three things: (1) that the herbicide will control the specific weeds you’re facing, (2) that it will do so without harm20

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

By Jon Cooner ing your forage plants if mixed and applied correctly, and (3) how to mix and apply them correctly. This is an extremely important understanding. If you don’t read and follow the label directions, the herbicide may not control the weeds, or you can even damage or kill your forage plants. And that would be a shame, especially since the labels are so easy to access. They’re right on the back of the product packages, and the Whitetail Institute has even put them on its website along with an FAQ: www.whitetailinstitute.com/products/herbicides. In the rest of this article, we’ll look at the best ways to control general weed types. Again, what follows will be general information. For control of specific weeds in your specific perennial forage stand, you should use a step-by-step approach. Herbicide labels clearly list the weeds the product will control, so your first step is to specifically identify the weeds you’re facing. Then, check the herbicide label to make sure the herbicide will control those weeds without harming your forage plants. If both are true, then follow the label instructions for mixing and applying the spray solution. GRASS CONTROL “When it comes to perennial maintenance, your first priority is to get any grass in the plot under control. If you don’t, grass can overtake the forage in a hurry!” — Dr. Wiley Johnson I can’t recall exactly how many times I heard Dr. Wiley Johnson, the Institute’s first Director of Forage Research, say that, but I know it was often. Dr. Wayne Hanna, who took over the reins as Director of Forage Research when Dr. Wiley passed away, has been just as firm in giving us this same warning. It’s also a caution we regularly hear from Dr. Carroll Johnson, the Institute’s

Weed and Herbicide Scientist. Arrest and Slay. Most grasses tend to reproduce through their root systems, so they are best controlled with a selective herbicide. The Whitetail Institute’s Arrest herbicide can be sprayed on any Imperial perennial forage stand, and it will control most kinds of grass. Some of the few types of grass Arrest won’t control can be controlled with the Institute’s Slay broadleafweed herbicide, as long as the forage being maintained is clover (including Imperial Whitetail Clover) or alfalfa. (Do not spray Slay on any Imperial forage product other than Imperial Whitetail Clover, and don’t spray Slay on newly planted clover until the forage plants have grown to a height of about three inches and have unfolded all their leaves.) BROADLEAF WEEDS (Mowing, Slay) The term “broadleaf weed” seems to be somewhat of a catch-all for weeds that don’t look like grass, don’t have woody stems like briars, and aren’t vining plants. Unlike most grasses, which reproduce through their roots, many broadleaf weeds reproduce by flowering and reseeding the next generation of weeds. The two best ways to control most annual, upright weeds that rely on flowering are mowing and, in some but not all cases, spraying the Institute’s Slay herbicide. Mowing. The Whitetail Institute’s published maintenance guidelines for all its perennial forage products include mowing. Specifically, mow your Imperial perennials a few times in the spring, and if possible one more time as fall arrives. Try to time mowing so that you take just a couple of inches off the top of the plot when you see the forage plants, or any annual upright weeds, getting ready to flower. Periodic mowing helps your forage plants in two ways. First, it can break the reseeding cycle of many annual upright weeds that rely on reseeding to stay in our plots. Second, as lush, nutritious and attractive as Imperial perennial forages are, periodic mowing can help them be even more so, if mowing is timed to prevent the forage plants from flowering. The Whitetail Institute’s perennial forage products are designed to last for years without having to reseed themselves by flowering. Flowering robs plants of nutrients and energy, and if you time your mowings to prevent the forage plants from flowering you’ll keep even more nutrients and energy in the plants. In most cases, mowing a couple of inches off the top of the plot a few times in the spring, and if possible one more time as fall approaches, is sufficient to control many annual weeds and www.whitetailinstitute.com

keep your Imperial perennial as attractive and nutrient-rich as possible. Don’t mow more than a couple of inches off the top of the forage plants at any one time; doing so can remove too much foliage and may also accelerate evaporation of soil moisture. And of course, don’t mow at all when conditions are excessively hot or droughty. Slay: The Institute’s Slay broadleaf-weed herbicide controls a wide range of broadleaf weeds, and it can be sprayed on Imperial Whitetail Clover, and on any other clover or alfalfa once the forage plants have reached a height of about three inches and unfolded all their leaves. Applied to clover or alfalfa in the early spring, Slay can provide excellent control of emerged weeds. Slay also provides sustained weed control of weeds that appear after the plot is sprayed. OTHER WEED TYPES Although the most common weed types we face in our food plots are grassy weeds and broadleaf weeds, there are others that routinely appear. Again, this article could not, and is not intended to, be an exhaustive discussion of how to control every type of weed. The Institute’s consultants are regularly asked about two other types often enough, though, to at least mention them. These fall into the broad categories of vining weeds (weeds that grow a vine and run along the ground) and woody weeds (weeds that grow upright on woody stems). Slay can control or suppress many vining weeds in clover or alfalfa. If you’re facing vining weeds, follow the standard path toward control: identify the weed first, and then check the Slay label to be sure the herbicide will offer control. Selective herbicides generally won’t tackle most woody weeds. However, periodic mowing can provide control of some, briars for instance. Once you identify the weeds you’re facing in your perennial forage stand and check the Arrest and Slay labels and decide that either or both is appropriate for your intended use, you still have two more steps to take: you still need to (A) mix the herbicide solution correctly and (B) spray at the optimum time.

bicides to increase the herbicide’s effect. The Slay label says that the addition of an adjuvant to the Slay spray tank is “required.” Without it, Slay can’t do its job. The Arrest label, though, does not require the use of an adjuvant, although the Whitetail Institute recommends the addition of an adjuvant to the Arrest spray solution, especially when the grasses to be controlled are mature annual grasses or perennial grasses. The two main types of adjuvants are oils and surfactants. Although oils and surfactants both increase a herbicide’s effectiveness, they work in different ways chemically. Oils tend to make the herbicide solution much more active than surfactants do and also help the herbicide penetrate the plant’s leaf. Oils are either vegetable seed based or petroleum based. Surefire Seed Oil: The adjuvant recommended by the Whitetail Institute for use with both Arrest and Slay is Surefire Seed Oil. Surefire Seed Oil is a vegetable-seed-based oil that contains an anti-foaming agent to help the user properly mix the herbicide spray solution. Another tank additive you need to take into account is a high-nitrogen fertilizer solution or ammonium sulfate. The Slay label says this must be added to the Slay tank in some states, but that it must not be included in others. And the Arrest label does not require it at all.

By now, you should have the idea that the only way to know exactly whether or not you should use Arrest or Slay in a particular application and how to mix the spray solutions is to read the herbicide labels. With that clear, here’s some general information that may help you understand specific label information more easily. Arrest Spray Solutions. Generally speaking, the Arrest label gives two main mix rates: one for seedling annual grasses, and a second, stronger rate for mature annual grasses and perennial grasses. Especially when dealing with the latter, the Institute recommends the addition of Surefire Seed Oil in the spray tank at a rate of one-half pint per acre of spray solution. Slay Spray Solutions. The maximum amount of Slay that should be applied in any one calendar year is six ounces per acre. In some cases, a full six ounces is needed, but in most cases four ounces per acre is sufficient. Slay does require the addition of an adjuvant to the Slay spray solution, and again the Institute recommends Surefire Seed Oil at a rate of one half pint per acre of spray solution. Also include a high-nitrogen fertilizer or ammonium sulfate if the solution is to be sprayed in a state where a highnitrogen fertilizer component is required by the Slay label. Small Sprayers. The Arrest spray solution can

MIXING THE ARREST AND SLAY SPRAY SOLUTIONS The components and mix rates for each herbicide are not the same for all weeds they’ll control. That’s yet another reason to read and follow the label directions for your particular situation. For example, consider the following information on adjuvants and fertilizers, which the labels say should be included in the spray tank with some herbicides, but not with others. An adjuvant is basically something that’s added to a spray tank when spraying some herwww.whitetailinstitute.com

Vol. 20, No. 3 /



be easily prepared in quantities as small as one gallon at a time. With Slay, that’s a bit more difficult due to the comparatively tiny amount of Slay that will treat one acre (4-6 ounces, depending on weed type). When using Slay in small sprayers, the easiest way to correctly mix the herbicide solution is five gallons at a time, either directly in a 5-gallon backpack sprayer, or if a smaller sprayer is used then by mixing five gallons of spray solution in a new, clean five-gallon gasoline can and transferring the prepared solution to the sprayer as needed. If you have any Arrest or Slay spray solution left over after you’re through spraying, don’t try to store it. Instead, dispose of it according to the directions on the herbicide label. TIMING ARREST AND SLAY SPRAY APPLICATIONS While writing this article, I remembered something Dr. Wiley Johnson taught us years ago about timing Arrest and Slay applications: “The optimum time to spray Arrest depends on the age of the grass you’re controlling. The optimum time to spray Slay, though, depends on the age of the forage you’re maintaining.” Here’s what he meant by that. Timing the Arrest Application (by the Age of the Grass). The optimum time to spray Arrest is as soon as the grass emerges and begins to

“actively grow.” Arrest enters grass through its leaves, so the grass must be actively growing to take the herbicide in. Also, if possible, Arrest should be applied before the newly emerged grass has a chance to mature its roots, which most grasses do once they reach a height of 6-12 inches. Arrest will still control most grasses once they mature, but you may have to use a stronger mix rate, multiple applications spaced a month apart, or both. As you can see, the optimum window for spraying Arrest isn’t very long. Accordingly, it pays to be diligent in determining when any grass in your perennial plot starts to actively grow. For folks who are able to monitor their plots every few days, the start of “active growth” will be apparent. Some of us, though, may not live close enough to our hunting property to regularly check our plots for grass growth. In such cases, our home lawns can be a good gauge. If your lawn is actively growing, it’s a reasonable assumption that any grass and weeds in your food plots are doing the same. But be sure exactly what I mean by “actively growing.” I’m not talking about the greenish tint most of our lawns take on as warmer weather approaches. Instead, I’m talking about seeing the grass actually growing, and in an active way. If you’re like me, that’s the point when you’ll see that your grass is growing and wonder if your lawn mower is going to start after winter stor-

age. Again, the optimum window for spraying Arrest begins when the grass starts actively growing. Timing the Slay Application (by the Age of the Forage). It’s a good idea to spray Slay when weeds you’re trying to control are still young. The more important consideration, though, is that Slay must not be sprayed on very young clover or alfalfa plants. Again, the Slay label provides specific guidance as to how to tell when newly planted clover and alfalfa are old enough to handle a Slay application. Other Timing Considerations. As with any herbicide, don’t spray Arrest or Slay when the weeds you’re trying to control are dormant. Also, don’t spray either when the forage plants you’re maintaining are stressed due to excessive heat, drought or recent mowing. For additional information on Arrest and Slay, check the product labels, which are on the back of the product packages and also posted on the Institute’s website at www.whitetailinstitute.com /products/herbicides. The Institute’s in-house consultants are ready to assist you with any questions you have about Arrest, Slay or weed control in general. If after reading the Arrest and Slay labels you still have questions about Arrest or Slay, call the Institute’s in-house consultants at (800) 688-3030 before you spray! W

Ensure the success of your food plots.

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

800-688-3030 whitetailinstitute.com



WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3


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hether you’re talking about food plots, hunting, business or anything else, timing is always important. And when it comes to PowerPlant, that’s especially true in two ways: (1) order early, and (2) wait to plant PowerPlant until soil reaches a consistent (day and night) temperature of at least 65 degrees. DO YOU NEED POWERPLANT? If you want the bucks you hunt next fall to have the opportunity to grow the most impressive antlers they can, the answer is “Absolutely!” The nutritional path to maximized antler growth is pretty straightforward: provide your deer with the required nutritional resources during the spring and summer, and the most important of these is protein. PowerPlant is tailor-made to do exactly that — and do it in spades. From the end of winter through summer, deer need high levels of protein on a continuing basis for antler growth, doe pregnancy, doe lactation, fawn growth and a host of other biological functions. Describing the roles protein plays in all these processes would take (and has taken) volumes, so here we’ll hit the high points of just one: antler growth in bucks. When it comes to growing antlers, bucks need lots — lots— of protein, and they need that high level on a consistent basis throughout the spring and summer. Remember, bucks must completely re-grow their antlers every year, and they have a limited amount of time (about 200 days) in which to do it. This period is commonly referred to as the “antler-growing” window of spring and summer. The window may start and end on slightly different dates depending on where your property is located, but this much is certain: no matter where you are, the antler-growing window has a start and a stop date, the window only lasts about 200 days, and all the antler your bucks are going to grow that year will be grown between those dates. It’s amazing that a buck can grow a full set of antlers in only 200 days. That being the case, it’s no shock that antlers are one of the fastest growing types of animal tissue there is. And when you consider that a buck’s growing (“velvet”) antler is made up of about 80 percent protein, you can understand how critical it is that bucks have access to lots of high protein food during the antler-growing season, especially if they’re going to maximize antler growth.

By Hollis Ayres www.whitetailinstitute.com

Vol. 20, No. 3 /



Unfortunately, Mother Nature rarely provides enough protein for bucks to maximize antler growth, and what she does provide is often of limited availability or palatability. Generally speaking, deer need about 16-18 percent protein in their diets for antler growth. Mother Nature, though, usually provides much less — most natural food sources have about 8-10 percent protein, which leaves a protein shortfall of 6-10 percent! And to make matters even worse, the palatability and availability of most natural food sources to deer is relatively short. Most quickly become stemmy and can be exhausted in fairly short order during the spring and summer, which can further limit the amount of naturally available protein deer can ingest. In almost all areas, you’ll need to supplement the protein Mother Nature provides if your goal is to truly maximize the size of the antlers your bucks can grow, and PowerPlant does just that. PowerPlant helps make up the natural shortfalls in the protein content, palatability and availability of natural forages, and in a big way. PowerPlant’s protein content is huge — more than 30 percent — plenty for bucks to really push the envelope in antler size. And PowerPlant does much more than just contain high levels of protein. Even a high-protein product won’t help your deer if the deer won’t eat it, or if your deer quickly exhaust it. And that’s perhaps where PowerPlant shines the brightest: it is specifically designed to be highly palatable and to better withstand grazing so that all that protein can actually make it into your deer. PowerPlant contains three forage plant varieties and two structural plant varieties. The key to PowerPlant’s incredible performance is the Institute’s detail-oriented, goal-driven research, development and testing. The soybean and structural components in PowerPlant are prime examples. Forage Soybean Component. As a deer forage, the soybean in PowerPlant outperforms standard, agricultural soybean varieties by a wide margin. One reason is that unlike standard, agricultural soybeans, which were developed for commercial bean production (to maximize production of beans for harvest and market), the soybean in PowerPlant is a true forage variety, specifically designed to produce massive amounts of high-protein foliage. Another advantage is that the forage soybean in PowerPlant grows on

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


for Imperial PowerPlant™

The Whitetail Institute

239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043 ®


800-688-3030 whitetailinstitute.com “Deer Nutrition Is All We Do!”

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

Research = Results


May 20 - June 30 May 1 - June 30 April 1 - May 31

Plant PowerPlant during the dates shown for your area once soil reaches a constant (day and night) temperature of at least 65°F.


tender, supple vines. This helps PowerPlant stay palatable to deer throughout the growing season, unlike ag beans, which grow upward on rigid stems that are not as palatable to deer. Yet another advantage of the forage soybean in PowerPlant is that once it establishes, it can continually regenerate as deer forage on it. This allows PowerPlant to withstand grazing much better than ag-type beans. Structural Components. In addition to the three forage plant varieties, PowerPlant includes sunflowers and a specifically selected wildlife sorghum as structural components. While deer will forage these structural plants, they are included in the blend for another reason: to act as a lattice for the vining legumes in the blend. This allows the vines to grow up instead of along the ground, and produce maximum tonnage. Put simply, no spring/summer annual food plot product we’ve tested produces more highly palatable, high-protein tonnage for deer than PowerPlant, and there’s a reason: the Institute spared no effort in researching candidate components, developing the best possible combination of components, and then testing different blends to ensure maximum performance. If you want your deer to have access to the abundant, high-protein forage PowerPlant provides, though, you need order now and plant at the right time. ORDER POWERPLANT AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE Spring/summer legume seeds, including the forage-plant seeds in PowerPlant, have relatively short life spans. Generally, they will last only about a year in storage unless they are deep frozen. Accordingly, the Institute must estimate how much PowerPlant will be sold each year and then start preparing to meet those estimates many months in advance. In some years, the Institute has been pretty accurate in estimating how much PowerPlant to grow for the next year. In others (especially the last few years), supplies have run out early as, despite the Institute’s increases in annual production, increasing demand has outpaced supply. Accordingly, if you want to ensure that you’ll have PowerPlant on hand to plant when temperatures warm up, you’d be wise to order now. Wait to plant PowerPlant until soil reaches a constant (day and night) temperature of 65°f or higher. A map showing planting-date windows for Imperial PowerPlant is on the back of the product bags and also posted on-line at www.whitetailinstitute.com. The planting map for PowerPlant has only three sets of dates for the continental U.S.: one for the northern U.S., one for the middle U.S., and one for the south. Once the published planting window for your area arrives, then wait until soil temperatures reach a constant (day and night) temperature of 65°F or higher before planting PowerPlant. I mentioned above that spring/summer legume seeds don’t store well for more than a year. The reason is that these types of seeds are very fragile. In fact, if you plant them in cool, moist soil they can rot in as little as a few days. Unfortunately, that’s just the nature of spring/summer legume seeds generally. It’s therefore very important that PowerPlant not be planted until the soil has reached a constant (day and night) temperature of at least 65°F. If you’re not sure how to tell when your soil temperatures reach a constant 65°F or higher, it can be a great idea to contact a local farm supply store in your area to find out when farmers in the area are planting ag soybeans. Although the soybean in PowerPlant is a forage variety, temperature requirements for planting are the same as those for ag beans. Also, in some cases deep tillage can help dry out wet soil and warm the soil up more quickly. Try to disk early and, again, disk deep. If you have any questions about PowerPlant, how and when to plant it, or any other questions about deer nutrition or deer management, give the Institute’s in-house consultants a call at (800) 688-3030. They’ll also be happy to take your PowerPlant order — as long as supplies last! W www.whitetailinstitute.com

Vol. 20, No. 3 /



s e o r e H g n u s n U — s l a r e Min It’s Monday night and the football game is somewhere in the third quarter. You are really not sure how much time is left on the game clock because you have long since done the mental calculation of probable possession times and came up with the realization that your team could never overcome the 45-6 deficit. For some time now, the commentators have been droning on about the disappointing performance of your quarterback who has fewer passing yards than the punter and a completion percentage that matches your newly refinanced mortgage rate.

It makes some sense that the quarterback would receive the spotlight as every offensive

play brings attention to him and he is likely one of the highest-paid players on the team. Then to your amazement, one of the more enlightened guys with a microphone says, “Well, injuries on the offensive line certainly can’t be helping anything.” You think to yourself, REALLY. The quarterback has had less than two seconds to get rid of the ball before he gets crunched by some defensive Goliath. A football novice would realize that bad blocking would affect the quarterback’s performance. So often times people focus on one particular aspect of a subject to the extent that other attributing pieces of the puzzle are overlooked. For several years now, the hunting world has acknowledged the benefits that a high-quality, highly nutritious food plot can provide to a deer herd. Most of the conversations surrounding food plots lead to a discussion concerning protein levels. Certainly, protein is a vital supplemental nutrient to all segments of the deer herd, but too many times, supplemental considera-

tions begin and end with food plots and protein. I was recently talking to a very intelligent ranch manager who was having issues with broken antlers. He said that he couldn’t understand why he was having so many issues as he was feeding a protein supplement. I asked him, if he knew what the mineral level was in the protein supplement. He said that he wasn’t really sure there was any mineral in the supplement and that he wasn’t specifically feeding any additional mineral supplement. In fact, the response had the tone of “why does that matter.” When I explained that although protein is no doubt vital for antler growth, mineral is equally important, especially in the latter months; and it plays the largest role in antler density which directly affects antler integrity. He had never considered this, and again, this guy knows his stuff in terms of deer management. Minerals have often taken a back seat to protein in terms of nutrients discussed in deer management and sometimes not even made the bus. The reasons for this are numerous, and range from a lack of knowledge to misunderstanding caused by a cornucopia of opinions on mineral. Lack of knowledge is understandable as we all have not been trained in nutrition. In general, there are two causes for the misunder-

By Matt Harper Photos by the Author

The author has had mineral program for several years on his farm and the program helps to contribute mass to the bucks antlers.


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3


standing surrounding mineral. First, there are several products on the market that are touted as mineral supplements but in reality more closely resemble an attractant. A product that contains primarily salt could be called a mineral as salt is indeed a mineral, but the product’s purpose would mostly be for attraction as a true mineral supplement would contain high levels of other minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, etc. Salt alone will not help to increase antler growth or density. The second reason for the confusion is that mineral requirement research, in the classic sense, is nearly impossible to do on a wild deer population. This type of research is conducted by selecting one mineral and depleting it from the diet while leaving the rest of the diet at optimal levels. Deficiencies are then noted and benefits are observed as you systematically increase the deficient mineral. The problem is that in order to get accurate results, the deer must only have access to the test diet which means that the only way to legitimately accomplish this is to perform the test on penned deer. However, warehouse loads of research have been conducted on domestic ruminants such as cattle, goats and sheep proving that mineral supplementation increases body weights, milk production, reproductive efficacy, immune function and more. Because a deer’s mineral needs

are at a minimum, equal to domestic livestock and more likely greater, it would go without saying that mineral supplementation would be beneficial to wild, free-ranging deer. MINERALS AND THEIR FUNCTIONS Minerals are defined as inorganic crystalline chemical elements and originate in the soil. The specific mineral content of the soil is dependent on several factors such as the type of rock formations found in the area, the age of the soil, agricultural practices, erosion, etc. Vegetation pulls mineral for the soil as various minerals are needed for plant growth and reproduction. Minerals are replenished through degradation of organic materials, manual fertilization, water runoff and a host of other methods. Animals get mineral from consuming vegetation, consuming other animals or getting it directly from the soil. Minerals are categorized into two specific groups, macro minerals and trace minerals. Macro minerals are those needed in large quantities to maintain body health and productivity. Examples of these minerals are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium and chloride. Calcium is involved in bone and teeth formation, milk production, muscle contraction and nerve function. Phosphorus is also involved in bone and teeth formation and is important in

acid-base balance. Magnesium is likewise vital for proper bone formation is also an enzyme activator in the glycolytic system. Potassium is involved in maintaining intracellular osmotic pressure, acid-base balance and muscle activity. Sodium and Chloride are both involved in osmotic pressure and acid-base balance. Trace minerals are needed in smaller quantities but are nonetheless vital for normal body health and function. Trace mineral examples include zinc, iron, copper, manganese, selenium, iodine and cobalt. Zinc, copper and manganese are all involved in enzyme activity and are all vital for bone growth and development. Iron is involved in hemoglobin production and cobalt is needed for vitamin B12 production. Iodine is involved in thyroxine formation and selenium is critical for vitamin E absorption and retention and thus affects reproductive efficiency. These are only just a few of the examples of the functions of macro and trace minerals. Digestion of minerals mostly occurs in the small intestine either thru active absorption or by diffusion. MINERAL FUNCTION IN DEER When we were going through the laundry list of functions for minerals, you probably noticed that we mentioned bone growth and development several times. Calcium, phosphorus, mag-

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 ®


800-688-3030 whitetailinstitute.com Research = Results™

Vol. 20, No. 3 /



nesium, manganese and copper all play a major role in the production of bone. Because antlers are basically bone outside the body and a velvet antler is growing bone, it would stand to reason that minerals play a major role in antler growth. If you were to analyze a hardened antler, you would find that it contains slightly more than 50 percent mineral. Of that, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium make up the largest percentage at 22 percent, 11 percent and 3 percent, respectively. Velvet antlers are composed of a protein substance called collagen that produces an internal infrastructure or matrix like that of the frame of a house. Over time, mineral is deposited on the protein matrix giving the antler its hardened structure. The more mineral deposited on the antler, the more dense the antler becomes and typically the more mass the antler exhibits. If you were to cut through a hardened antler you would notice that that it contains two distinct parts, a core with layers surrounding the core. The core appears porous compared to the solid layers surrounding it. The internal core is the protein matrix and the outside layers are mineral deposits. The more mineral deposited on the antlers, the thicker the outside layers will be. Contrary to what one might think, mineral is not taken from the diet and directly deposited on the growing antler. Instead, digested mineral

The center of the antler is the remains of the protein core with the outside of rings consisting largely of hardened mineral.

is deposited on the deer’s skeletal structure and then absorbed from the skeleton and transported via the blood stream to the antler. Another key role that minerals play is enzyme activity. Calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese and zinc are all either activators or components of enzyme systems. Specifically, phosphorus and zinc are involved in protein synthesis. The significance of this is that proper mineral nutrition is needed for efficient digestion and utilization of other nutrients, which in turn effects growth and production. One of the most common results of a mineral supplementation program is increased body weights which is in part, a function of efficient enzyme activity. Certain trace minerals such as copper and zinc are also involved in immune response. Supplementation of these two trace minerals have shown that animals

react to and more effectively deal with immune challenges compared to animals that do not receive supplemental levels of these two elements. Finally, proper mineral nutrition is needed for maximum milk production by a lactating doe and is crucial for the growth and development of the skeletal system of young deer. THE ARGUMENT FOR SUPPLEMENTATION I think that everyone would agree that the proper mineral nutrition is needed for growth, maintenance and overall health. However, some may question the need for mineral supplementation or that improvements in the deer herd will be seen if a supplementation program is put in place. Those opposed to mineral supplementation may argue that deer get all the minerals they need from the plants and forages they consume in order to survive. I would agree that deer may get all the minerals they need to survive, but the goal of most hunters and managers is to try and achieve maximum growth and health of a deer herd, which requires maximum nutrition to accomplish. As we stated earlier, mineral comes from the soil and is utilized by plants for growth. Unless there is an over-abundance of minerals in the soil or mineral is replenished through fertilization, natural mineral replenishment will not keep

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.

800-688-3030 whitetailinstitute.com The Whitetail Institute ®


239 Whitetail Trail | Pintlala, AL 36043

Research = Results™

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

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.


pace with what is extracted from the soil. This is especially the case in mismanaged agricultural practice. For example, a field is farmed for years then let go fallow and in most cases is not fertilized to replenish the minerals taken out during the production years. This relationship between mineral availability in the soil and the resulting mineral content in plant material can easily be seen when comparing soil ages. The older the soil, the more mineral-deficient it will be. The Midwest is one of the most agriculturally productive areas in the country and the soil found there is some of the youngest soil in the country as it consists largely of glacial till. Furthermore, river bottoms and creek bottoms will also exhibit higher productivity and higher mineral content from mineral deposits left during flooding that was eroded somewhere upstream. Even if your property is in the Midwest, it is likely low in one or more minerals. Minerals have complex interactions and a deficiency in just one mineral can cause complications in several internal systems. Based on these factors, it is highly unlikely that deer on any given property receive all the minerals they need from the vegetation they consume to achieve maximum growth and production. Antlers are secondary sex characteristics, which means that a buck will not sacrifice health in order to grow bigger or more massive antlers. Because the minerals that are deposited on antlers come from the skeletal system, a buck will not absorb mineral from its skeleton at levels that cannot be replenished through the diet, thus sacrificing antler growth. Therefore, the only way maximum antler growth can be achieved is if maximum mineral is available in the buck’s diet. The same can be said for does and milk production. We mentioned earlier in the article that mineral research on wild, whitetail deer is difficult at best. However, over the years, observed results from the practice of mineral supplementation have shown dramatic results. Deer herds fed mineral supplements will nearly always show increased body weights across all segments of the deer herd. This should not be surprising as this same effect has been seen for many years in domestic ruminants. Also, stronger healthier fawns and yearlings have been observed, which is likely a result of improved doe lactation. Effects on antler growth normally are observed in two areas, mass and antler integrity. When a mineral supplement program is put in place, a noticeable increase in antler mass is observed. Increased antler density is also seen with a dramatic decrease in busted or broken antlers. Admittedly, there are a host of variables that can affect these production aspects, but these results have been seen in hundreds of deer herds across the country. Also, the results have been seen when mineral supplewww.whitetailinstitute.com

ments are the only thing changed in a management program. SUMMARY If your goal is to achieve maximum health and productivity of your deer herd, maximum nutrition must be a part of your program. If you are lacking in any vital nutrient, your goal will not be achieved. Supplementation means to “add to” the existing diet, not to replace it. If you start taking a mineral supplement each day that does

not mean that you quit eating. You are simply making sure that your body receives any minerals that may be missing in your diet. The same is true for mineral supplementation for deer. If mineral supplementation is legal in your area, I challenge you to try a mineral supplementation program for yourself. I would wager that the results you see will be all the proof you need for the effectiveness of mineral supplementation. Just make sure you are using a professional mineral product that is designed by experts and not a product that is really an attractant. W

Whitetail Health: Nutrition Vital in Immune Response and Resistance to Parasites By Dale A Hill, PhD, PAS What are the basics of nutrition, immunity and parasite infestations in deer? The simple answer is that there isn't very much published research working directly with deer, so we must look at the published research information using other animal species, because most animals will respond in the same manner. There are four main points to consider. 1. First, there is a metabolic cost associated for the animal to respond to an immune challenge, whether it is a response to bacteria, virus or a parasite. The immune response requires the body to build specific proteins (taken from dietary sources and muscle tissue), and to use energy (calories) to build these proteins. Many of the biochemical processes within the body needed to build these specific proteins for the immune response also require specific minerals and vitamins. With that in mind, we can more easily understand that when there is increased intake of dietary nutrients, the animal will be able to better respond to immune challenges. This becomes very important when we consider that animals (including humans) generally do not eat as much during periods of illnesses, which can reduce available nutrients used by the body for this immune response process. 2. Second, just as an immune response is needed to combat and reduce bacteria and virus infections to a level that the body can tolerate (respiratory infections, for example), the body also generates an immune response to internal parasites (intestinal worms) as well as external parasites (ticks, mosquitoes). The redness and swelling observed around tick and mosquito bites is only the visible response to this attack on body tissues and is only a small part of the body’s overall immune response. 3. Third, as with humans exposed to certain diseases, animals also build up immunity to diseases and parasites through time. It is well understood that adult animals have a higher immunity than young animals, and that infant animals are much more susceptible to disease than adults that have been exposed to these immune challenges. The best way to increase the ability of very young animals to resist bacterial and viral infections and parasites is to provide good nutrition to the mother. The mother will pass some of her immunity to the young animals through her milk. 4. The fourth factor in the process is the body being able to repair the tissues damaged by the bacteria, viruses and parasites. This requires proteins, energy, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients, just as we have considered for the immune response. The simple explanation is that better the nutrition level and nutrient stores in the body of the animal, the faster the animal will be able to respond to immune challenges and to repair damaged tissues. When the body uses nutrients to fight diseases and parasites, there are not as many nutrients available to the animal for tissues. As a result, muscle, skeletal and antler growth will be decreased during immune challenges. Those animals that are not able to adequately respond to immune challenges and to repair damaged tissues because of inadequate nutrition may not survive. W

Vol. 20, No. 3 /



How to Buy Hunting Land By Bill Winke Photos by the Author


he ability to enjoy quality hunting close to home is a dream that most of us share, but it is getting harder every year to find permission to hunt. Additionally, permission brings with it only limited ability to affect the quality of the hunting since we don’t generally have open rein to tear up ground for food plots or improve marginal habitat. To do a good job of producing quality deer hunting, we need to lease or purchase hunting land. In this article, I am going to focus on how to go about evaluating a piece of land for potential purchase — with deer hunting in mind. Lack of access is the harsh reality of these times. However, the good news is that anyone who has a decent job and is willing to make a commitment to the future can, either alone or with the help of like-minded friends, buy land and turn it into a deer-hunting destination. There is only so much land — it is a finite resource. This land that you are thinking about buying should make a good longterm investment. EXPLORING THE LEASE OPTION I’ve never been a fan of leasing because the free market system is ruthless. Here’s an example. I have a friend who leased several thousand acres in south Texas. During the four years that he had the lease, he sacrificed


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

both sweat and money to improve the property and the deer that lived on it to the point that the place gained a local reputation. When his lease agreement came up for renewal, Jack was floored to find that the landowner had dropped him like a hot coal in favor of someone who was willing to pay more than twice as much. You will always fight this when leasing land. I dislike it so much that I’m not even going to discuss it further. Unless you have an unusually strong relationship with the landowner, leasing is not a long-term solution. BUYING LAND The days of buying recreational land that will cash flow (pay for itself) in most of the United States are about over. The economy has brought some of the prices back to reality, but recreational land is considered “junk” land by farmers for a reason. It doesn’t produce much in the way of a return — at least not financially. However, undaunted by this reality, I’m going to look first at the potential cash flow that you can achieve to help make the payments. Cash flow: Typically, there will be little income from hunting property. Most wildlife enthusiasts don’t want cattle grazing in their open areas (which are potential sites for food plots) or their timber and that eliminates two sources of income. You can sell timber. If you keep your eyes peeled and buy a property with good timber, you may be able to make 10 percent to 15 percent of the cost back with the initial cut and average enough to pay your property taxes with regular timber sales thereafter. That would be a good goal, but it is not always attainable. In fact, this would be the exception rather than the rule, but it pays to watch for such situations. In most areas with a solid timber market established, timber sales will net you about a two to three percent annual return from forested acres. In southern regions with their longer growing seasons and more aggressive pulpwood markets, that can be more than double. Additionally, bankers I’ve spoken with suggest that you should be able to return roughly six percent to seven percent per year on crop ground in the form of cash rent.

There may be other sources of income in special markets where things such as water are significant. I have never had the opportunity to purchase any land where mineral rights or water rights were part of the cash flow formula. I have even seen situations where windmills, which pay about $1,000 per windmill per year rent, were part of the formula. However, typically you have two sources of income: timber value and crop land rent. You can also add the cost you’ve been paying to hunt elsewhere to the “income” of owning recreational land. That expense is now one you no longer have to incur. From purely a financial standpoint, it would be tough to justify buying recreational land unless there was some hope that it would appreciate. Capital appreciation: Recreational land is different from pure farmland. Its value is not tied to the price of commodities, but rather to supply and demand and to the overall economy — something we have surely seen this year. Demand is flat at this time as the recession hit recreational land hard. In most areas, it is down as much as 25 percent, making it a good time to consider buying. In talking with a number of realtors on a regular basis, it is clear that the demand is not jumping fast. However, it does seem to be crawling slowly upward. There is at least some buying interest out there again. Long-term, it should be a decent investment based on the simple fact that land is a finite commodity. There is no more being made. That alone will force it to go up at some point. I have read that certain other investments can outpace land, but I don’t own any of those. I have never made anything on those “other” investments. I have made money on hunting land, however. For me it is a no-brainer. I understand it, love it and know what to look for, so land is a good investment for me. It can be for you too, with some careful buying. The downside: From a financial standpoint, there is a big problem with having hunting land as your primary investment. The return is only on paper until you sell it —you can’t live off it (in most cases). Let’s say you are saving for your retirement. You have the ability to put $15,000 per year into tax-deferred investments and hope to have a nice nest egg some day, or you


can buy hunting land. When you reach retirement age, are you going to want to sell the land? Just what I thought. That’s when you plan to use it most. Like millions of farmers, you will find yourself land rich but cash poor when you reach retirement. You can’t retire with any comfort if all your money is tied up in land unless you sell it. It is a very serious consideration, and the reason why hunting land should be only one part of your long-term savings plan. If it is your whole savings plan, you will have to sell it, or at least part of it, when you retire in order to maintain a decent standard of living. As an alternative to this approach, consider buying with partners so no one has to give up their retirement to own the land. Partnerships are fraught with problems of their own (I was in one for nine years), but having a partner (the right partner) is better than driving a long way to hunt or competing for a spot on public land. Plus, in theory at least, it is still growing in value. Just a word or two about partnerships: put everything down on paper first — before you even start looking for the land. That way emotion, or the need to act quickly, won’t tempt you to look past important considerations that will arise as ugly misunderstandings later.

Agricultural rent on tillable acres is one of the few income streams with an investment in hunting land. Factor that into the equation when determining how much land you can afford. Properties with some income can be better investments. Where you want to fall in the tradeoff between tillable income and habitat will factor into the type of land you pursue.

EVALUATING THE PROPERTY The neighborhood: Another decision you will make that will affect your price is proximity to well-known hunting neighborhoods. Without a doubt, you will pay a healthy premium to buy land in high-profile hunting areas where deer management is already prominent. From what I’ve seen in many areas of the country, you should expect to pay 10 percent to 25 percent more when purchasing land that is already in managed neighborhoods; and in my experience, it is definitely worth it. It is impossible to control your neighbors and what they shoot. The best way to do that is to be very careful in what you buy — more importantly, who you border. Take care of this right up front, because otherwise it will be a potential sore spot with you for years to come. You can only control your neighbors before you buy — by controlling who you border. Once you sign, you are stuck, for better or for worse. I am absolutely convinced that you are better off being in a great deer management neighborhood than getting a good deal. I know it is a tough pill to swallow, but it is important advice. You can evaluate the neighbor best by simply talking to the neighbors. Don’t do this until you have done all your other due dili-


Vol. 20, No. 3 /




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gence regarding the property. The last thing you want to do is to tell the neighbors you are interested because then one may quickly call his buddy who has been dragging his feet regarding the purchase and tell him to step it up and get in the game. Just introduce yourself and tell them you are interested in the property and watch their reaction closely. The way they react to you is important as these are people whose land you will border for many years. If you get a bad feeling, let that factor into the decision. Don’t get carried away, but at least factor it in. They may show an attitude right away but soften quickly. That is typical. However, I have walked away from more than one piece of land after talking to the neighbors and realizing I had a potential problem on my hands. Ask to see the kinds of bucks they are shooting and if they have any shed antlers around the place. That will also give you an indication of their intentions to pass up young bucks. You can overcome many things with a new piece of land, but you can’t overcome a neighbor who shoots the best young bucks that jump the fence every year. That person will drive you nuts and will severely hamper your ability to grow and hunt top-end deer on your property. Go around and talk to every neighbor. What you learn will be priceless. The herd dynamics: Most people make a common mistake when they look to purchase their dream property by focusing on trying to border areas with high deer numbers. That is fine if your goal is simply to shoot deer, but eventually you may get the bug to produce quality bucks. These areas also tend to attract a lot of attention and you will have a bigger problem dealing with trespassers and also people wedging in on your boundary wherever they can. Again, it is better to get into a neighborhood where everyone is letting high-quality young bucks go and shooting lots of does, than one with a lot of deer. HAVE A LONG-TERM INVESTMENT INVOLVING HABITAT Ideally, your hunting land will have exactly the mix of tillable and timberland that you desire. Personally, I like roughly 75 percent to 80 percent timber for deer and turkey hunting. This permits me to grow plenty of food while still having enough timber to hunt effectively. However, don’t be turned off by immature timber or pastureland. There are things you can do to dramatically alter the habitat in as little as a few years, but definitely within ten years. Cutting certain trees to open up the canopy for greater production of ground-level vegetation and planting certain other trees and native grasses can change the landscape dramatically.

The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043




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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3


needing big (expensive) equipment. Location: Again, this comes back to neighborhood factors, but ideally, the property would be an island of 80 percent timberland in a sea of open pasture or cropland. This would reduce hunting pressure right on the borders. Topography: A range of topography would be nice, with rolling hills and some rough areas producing nooks and crannies for food plots and plenty of terrain features to funnel traveling deer. A variety of terrain just makes the piece more enjoyable to hunt. Access: This is probably the most overlooked of all aspects to consider when evaluating a piece of land for hunting. You need to be able to access all parts of the farm without alerting the deer that live there. If that is not possible, you either accept the inaccessible area as a sanctuary or you look for a different piece of land to buy. Sometimes you can get the seller to negotiate an easement from a neighbor prior to purchase, but that is definitely the exception. Don’t overlook access when sizing up the property. In fact, consider how you will hunt the farm before you ever sign the purchase agreement. Don’t buy a farm that is hard to hunt. Keep looking.

There is a lot that can be done with habitat, so if the property you are looking at is not perfect, don’t assume it can’t be changed without first consulting with an expert.


If you want an expert opinion on what you might be able to do with a certain piece of ground, hire a private forester to look at it before you make an offer. He or she will be able to tell you quickly if the property will meet your long-term goals and probably also be able to tell you about the potential timber value on the property.

Owning land requires time and focused attention if you are going to manage it well. Someone needs to patrol it, work with the government on farm programs, plant the food plots, coordinate the farming on tillable acres, buy equipment, perform basic maintenance on the property and equipment, work with timber buyers, manage timber stands, fix fence, mow weeds, shoot does, etc. Of course, these can be rewarding aspects of land stewardship but only if you have the time. It may take months, or even years, to find your ideal property. But, if you invest the time to do it right you may only have to do it once and you and your family will benefit from the fruits of your labor for a lifetime. W

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There is virtually no food left in this forest due to a deer overpopulation problem.

Learn to Read

NATURAL SIGN and Help Your Habitat By Brad Herndon Photos by the Author


few years ago, I was at my truck getting ready to go home after a morning hunt on one of our leases. I heard a vehicle slow down, and a fellow hunter who leased in the region stopped to talk to me. “We sure do have a lot of deer now, but for some reason it seems like the bucks have smaller antlers and body size,” he said. “That’s true,” I said. “The reason this is true is because we are losing so much of our natural browse the deer feed on to keep their bodies and racks in good shape. Everyone in the territory needs to shoot more does.” “Oh, no!” the man said. “There’s plenty of browse in the woods on our lease. Some of our hillsides are covered with little saplings that haven’t been browsed on at all, so I know there is plenty of food available in our area for the deer.” The conversation continued for a half-hour or 34

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

so, and no matter what I said or what I showed the fellow hunter, I could not convince him of the impending doom of the local deer herd. In fact, I pointed out a browse line to him in a nearby woods, but he said he couldn’t see it. I also showed him where deer browsed on eastern red cedar, a sure sign of a loss of quality browse. He didn’t buy this argument, either. Finally, I gave up and we went our separate ways. From what I could tell about this fellow hunter, he didn’t want to believe there was a problem. Like me, he had started hunting this region when it contained only a handful of deer and some dandy bucks. During the next few years, he had experienced the explosion of the whitetail herd; a fantastic time when quantities of deer were seen and there were still a few high-scoring bucks. Now the deer were declining, and he was wondering why. His reasoning included fellow hunters shoot-

ing too many small bucks, spot-lighters killing the trophy bucks at night, and there being too many poor nutritional Conservation Reserve Program acres in that location. Actually, at the time we talked, hunters were being more selective and trying to tag an older age class of bucks. Poachers were still a factor, although not any more so than they had ever been, and the CRP acres were virtually the same. The simple fact was we had way too many whitetails on each square mile of land. TREE TRAGEDIES, PAST AND PRESENT During the early 1930s, one in ten trees in forests in southern Indiana, where I live, was an American chestnut. The figure was one in four in the Appalachian Mountains. Then the chestnut blight, a fungal disease, hit and eradicated an estimated three billion of these unique trees. www.whitetailinstitute.com

The author shows a browse line height. The browse line can be easily seen around the entire perimeter of the woods.

Deer favored the soft nuts of the chestnut. Today, only sprouts and a few small trees remain of this magnificent giant of the forest. In 1928, another fungal disease was accidentally imported into the United States. Dutch elm disease has spread throughout North America and has destroyed the majority of the majestic elms found in towns and the countryside. Now we are fighting the emerald ash borer, which threatens each variety of our valuable ash forest. It is estimated 50 million ash trees are now dead or dying in the Midwest because of this infestation. Just recently, it has been discovered that thousand cankers disease is killing walnut trees across the Rocky Mountain region and is a danger to black walnut trees nationwide. The fate of black walnuts as a forest tree hangs in the balance. Sadly, this disease has now been indentified in Tennessee. The loss of these trees is a national tragedy, and one that we as hunters had nothing to do with. I’m sure if we could have helped prevent this great loss in our forests, we would have been glad to do so. Well, today we can do something about a great loss that is going on in our forests. We — you — can help save our forests from destruction, and I’ll explain how in the rest of this article.

tion, I greatly improved my tree identification skills since I have always loved to squirrel hunt. This is a sport where tree identification is important. And last, when I became a photographer 23 years ago, I had to identify everything I photographed in nature, so this helped me learn many species of plants and flowers. Obviously, what I’m writing won’t give you a complete education in identifying everything in nature. I also still have a lot to learn. What I hope to do is to inspire you to learn more — and to put it to use — to help save or restore the valuable natural habitat in your hunting region. IDENTIFY WHAT YOU HAVE LEFT If you can identify a browse line in your woods, you already have a serious deer prob-

lem. A browse line looks like a high-water mark in a bottom woods, only the browse line reveals how high deer have reached to consume their favorite browse foods. Typically the browse line height is about five feet. In Canada, where some bucks grow huge bodies, browse lines have been documented 7 feet high. To determine whether the forest has a browse line, it is important to first identify what species of trees you have in your forests and what type of understory growth remains. Doing this assists quality deer management in two ways. First, if deer don’t overbrowse your hunting timber, it will let you recognize and catch a developing problem. Second, if you have an overbrowsed woods, it will let you know what types of species need to recover. For example, this article includes one picture that looks like a thick, brushy woods. Closer examination, however, reveals the species shown to be spicebush, paw paw trees and white snakeroot, a flower. This is the type of thick browse my hunter friend was talking about. This picture was taken in a tract overpopulated with whitetails, and as you might have guessed, deer do not like to eat these items. The habitat looks like it would provide a tasty, nutritious meal, but in reality, it’s a starvation diet for deer. Another item that will fool most hunters is to see clusters of short, green vegetation in the fields and timber in fall. Although it looks like great browse, it is actually garlic mustard, a plant whitetails will not eat. Tragically, garlic mustard is a rapidly spreading woodland weed that is displacing native woodland wildflowers. It dominates the forest floor and can displace most native herbaceous species within 10 years. This plant is a major threat to woodland herbaceous flora and the wildlife that depend on it. Interestingly, the whitetail deer facilitates the spread of garlic mustard by clearing out native competitors while spreading the seeds on its fur and exposing soil and seedbed by trampling.

HELP SAVE OUR FORESTS The fellow hunter I mentioned at the start of this story was obviously not a naturalist. Most of us aren’t. Fortunately, when I was growing up, my mom and grandmother knew just about every tree, bush and flower in the woods, and they shared their knowledge with me. In addiwww.whitetailinstitute.com

This looks like a nice brushy woods providing deer with plenty of food. What you see are paw paw bushes, spicebush and white snakeroot, all items deer don’t eat.

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Obviously, it’s important to be able to identify the trees, flowers and other vegetation in your area. A good way to get up to speed on this is to take your camera — a point-and-shoot will do — and photograph everything you see in your hunting area, preferably when they are easiest to identify. By taking these pictures, you can use field guide books such as those purchased from the Audubon Society to indentify each species. You can also use the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website, www.usda.gov. They have a file of 40,000 forest related images. Be sure to frequently update all your information. Look for signs of preferred food being nipped down by deer, the understory opening up and flowers disappearing. Without doubt, keeping track of deer numbers on your hunting tract will alert you to coming management problems. A quicker tipoff to deer exceeding the carrying capacity of the land, though, is to become a master reader of nature’s sign. IDENTIFY WHAT IS MISSING Great statement, right? How do you identify what is missing? Talk to some of the old-timers in your region who know nature. Ask them what they used to see in the timber in your area. Twenty years ago, I marveled at the strikingly

beautiful hillsides of white trillium flowers in our hunting area. Today they are gone, solely because of deer nipping the vegetation off year after year until they died. In some areas I hunt, there is an absence of poison ivy because the deer ate it. The same goes for greenbriers. I used to dig a lot of ginseng and sell it, but now I rarely see it. It isn’t gone; it just gets browsed in spring, and by fall, when the digging season opens, there are few leaves left. Do a little research on the variety of trees, bushes, forbs and flowers native to your region. This will fill in the blanks as to what type of deer foods might be absent from the timber. Interestingly, when deer overpopulation goes on for some time, the look of the woods might change entirely. For example, in another photograph I have shown a hardwood forest timbered in 2006. You can quickly tell the whitetails have depleted the tract of their favorite foods. Many hunters believe logging results in a rapid growth of saplings that will provide cover and food for deer. This is true under ideal conditions. Moreover, in this logging situation every seedling appearing through the ground was quickly eaten by a deer. Whitetails can easily maneuver through tree tops to get at this suc-

OBTAINING A PREFERRED FOOD SOURCE GUIDE for deer that applies to all regions of the whitetail’s range is not possible because these sources vary from area to area. A preferred food in one state might not be the preferred food in another state. A lot depends on soil type and other available foods. For example, chestnut oak trees are called scrub oak in Indiana because they thrive on poor, well-drained soil. They produce a large acorn, and only once, during a hard winter, have I seen evidence of deer eating them. That said, 15 years ago while hunting at Calloway Gardens in Georgia, they sent me to a ridge where they said deer were sucking up volumes of acorns. To my surprise, they were chestnut oak acorns. Your state deer biologist should be able to provide you with the whitetail deer’s favorite foods in your state. My good friend Charlie Alsheimer has studied deer in his natural containment pen for many years. “Any time a deer is on its feet, it’s looking for food,” he said. When whitetails bed, they get up several times per day, relieve themselves and browse around before lying back down. With too many deer, it doesn’t take long to decimate the preferred forage in a forest. This will happen even if you have lush food plots, because deer need a variety of foods in the wild. In effect, they selectively eat their own blend of special foods when they are available, which keeps them healthy and large-racked. To get an idea of how depleted your timbered areas are, build an exclusion cage in the woods. If you have too many deer, it will be shocking to see how thick the fenced-in area is, while the surrounding forest will have very little vegetation. “Milk sickness” is what killed Nancy Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s mother. They had no idea what caused this illness until the 20th century, when it was discovered that cows eating poisonous white snakeroot produced poisonous milk. It is important to know your trees, plants and flowers where you hunt.

Browse Grass Forbs


Spring 34% 14% 52%

WHAT DO DEER EAT? Summer Fall 58% 56% 7% 12% 35% 32%

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

Winter 63% 13% 24%

culent food source, leaving the woods with only a regrowth of undesirable trees. A heavy cutting of timber allows a tremendous amount of sunlight to reach the forest floor, and in this case, it resulted in a grassy woods. This happens more often than you would believe. In similar situations on north-facing hillsides, you will often find an excessive growth of ferns. Grasses and ferns can create heavy shade on the forest floor, which is not what the seedlings of many beneficial trees need to become established and thrive. Have you encountered the types of situations I have mentioned? CAN THE FOREST RECOVER? The best and cheapest cure for a depleted deer food source is to dramatically reduce the deer herd. This means you and your hunting crew are going to have to do a bunch of shooting, field-dressing and dragging. Ideally, it means your neighbors are going to do the same, for this is a critical part of any deer reduction program. Without a cooperative effort among local deer hunters, it is extremely difficult to contain an out-of-control whitetail herd. There are cases where a region contains too few deer, although I can’t think of one in my state. If you’re going to err, make your mistakes by killing too many does, not enough. After the damage is done, recovery takes years in a hardwood forest. By the way, recovery time estimates vary. I think it would take at least 20 years. In a study in northern Wisconsin, where deer ate a lot of eastern hemlock, a large exclusion area was built. It took 12 years of protection from deer to establish hemlock seedlings. In another older study area it took 27 years for the hemlocks to recover to a natural state in size. After you have reduced the herd, you have several choices to help the recovery rate of the natural habitat. First, you can implement more or larger food plots to relieve the whitetail’s forage pressure on the forest. Second, if possible, cut out all of those undesirable small trees deer don’t eat, such as paw paw, spicebush and others. This allows the foods deer prefer to repopulate the forest, regaining the balance originally found in nature. Also try hinge-cutting excess trees. This lets them stay alive, and the tops are down low, where deer can readily get to them. If you own property, you can plant apple, pear, persimmon and other trees beneficial to deer. Many of these trees are fast growing, providing food in just a few years. THE BOTTOM LINE Our ideal goal as quality deer managers is to keep whitetail numbers within the carrying capacity of the land. This figure varies greatly www.whitetailinstitute.com

Premium Deer Feed with 20% Protein This woods was logged over four years ago, yet shows no regrowth of trees since the deer eat the small seedlings.

from region to region, depending on soil type, agriculture, rainfall amounts, quality of the soil, the quantity of rock present and more. For some regions the carrying capacity of the land might be 20 deer per square mile (640 acres). Another, more fertile area may have a carrying capacity of 40 deer per square mile. This means if the carrying capacity where you hunt is 40 deer per square mile, you should have five deer on an 80 acre tract. For 20 deer, the figure, rounded up, decreases to three deer on 80 acres. This is the figure that just blows deer managers’ minds, because they can’t fathom hunting a location with so few deer. What still isn’t understood in today’s times is how a small, well-balanced deer herd might actually result in more deer sightings than the number experienced with a larger herd. Here’s the reason why. In 1987, my wife, Carol, and I hunted a region of hilly public land that had a small, well-balanced whitetail herd. Actually, we were the only ones hunting there. We agree this was one of our finest hunting years, resulting in three bucks killed and a monster that escaped my arrow. Because there were few does, the bucks just went ballistic during the pre-rut, rut and post-rut. Deer movement, and thus the number of sightings, was incredible. Conversely, with a huge deer herd, a buck can just walk around the next tree and find a doe. In closing, our life is just a passing journey on Earth. Watching, managing and hunting deer are all enjoyable aspects of this short journey. This being said, we need to remember we are stewards of this beautiful sphere. By becoming educated in reading natural sign, you can enjoy nature to its fullest while using your knowledge to keep the deer numbers to a desirable level. You’ll save nature’s balance in our forests, forbs, and flowers in the process. Your children and grandchildren can enjoy the thrill of seeing a hillside of showy white trilliums or be scared out of their wits by a flushing grouse. And best, they should have healthy bucks sporting huge racks to hunt during their lifetimes. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

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The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043 ®

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Vol. 20, No. 3 /




ave you ever noticed that a common human characteristic is to take a very broad and complex subject and somehow filter out one or two aspects of that subject and fixate on them while ignoring the rest of the particulars? My extent of psychological study was taking Psychology 101 in college from a professor who apparently went into that field because of the necessity of self-analysis. So I am not professionally qualified to theorize on the cause of this mental phenomenon, but my unprofessional opinion is that it stems from laziness or the confusion of information overload. We grab onto one thing and do not spend the time to investigate further. For example, why is your favorite football team losing this year? “Coaching” is the word you use with little or no analysis. Why did you buy a particular bow? “Arrow speed” was really the only specification you looked at. One of my favorites is why are Midwestern deer big? “Because they’re corn fed.” There are a infinite number of examples, but suffice to say it is a trait that marketing people and campaign managers have manipulated since those two occupations came into existence.

Thirty years ago, the idea of nutritional management of whitetail deer was not part of the mainstream hunting culture. The concept was maybe floating around in the minds of few innovative souls, but hunters were planting “green fields” for attraction-only purposes or planting no food sources whatsoever. Then in 1988, a new company out of Alabama proposed the crazy idea that you could plant food sources that would have a beneficial nutritional impact on deer and improve characteristics such as antler growth and body weights. Whitetail Institute’s introduction of Imperial Whitetail Clover was revolutionary in that it was the first product introduced to the hunting world as a forage that not only attracted deer but was nutritionally superior to the green-field forages that were being planted. One of the challenges that a company faces with a ground-breaking product is consumer education, particularly when it involves not only a new product but a new concept. There are many advantageous aspects and characteristics of Imperial Whitetail Clover, but the one thing that seemed to stick with people was the protein. In fact, over 20 years later, protein remains the focus of most consumers when they are comparing products. Protein is indeed a critical part of a nutritional management program, but many folks only know it as a word and not really what it is and what it does. Similar to me looking for a new computer, I tell the sales clerk that I need to have a computer with a lot of RAM. Honestly I have no idea what that means. I just know that is what people say. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at protein, what it is, why it is important and how you can use it in

your management program to give you a better and broader understanding of the word. PROTEIN — WHAT IS IT? Protein is defined as naturally occurring complex combinations of amino acids that contain carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Essentially, protein is the building block of muscle, bone and a portion of many other body components, such as organs and blood. The body requires protein for the growth of muscle and bone and also for the maintenance of these tissues. For example, bodybuilders increase muscle mass by first breaking muscle down (via weight lifting) and then letting the body build the muscle back up to a larger size. A crucial part of this regimen is the consumption of large amounts of protein to supply the body with what it needs to rebuild the muscle. In terms of bone growth, large amounts of protein are required during the growth and development of the skeletal system. In fact, young, growing bone is composed primarily of protein. Of course, protein is needed for many other functions, such as milk production or lactation. For the mammary system to be able produce the nutrient-rich milk needed for the growth and health of offspring, the mother must consume large amounts of protein. As mentioned in its definition, protein is comprised of various combinations of amino acids. The particular amino acid combination of a protein defines its nutritional func-

Clover leaf size is an important factor in protein content as the leaves are rich in protein. Large leaf size is one of the characteristics of Imperial Whitetail Clover.

PROTEIN Understanding the Hype By Matt Harper Photos by the Author


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3


tion and quality. A good analogy of the protein/amino acid relationship is to compare it to a brick building. A particular brick building (protein) is comprised of various shapes, sizes and colors of individual bricks (amino acids). Then, say there are hundreds of brick buildings grouped together. They are all brick buildings (protein), but the varying combinations of bricks (amino acids) used to build them define and group the buildings. A few examples of amino acids are lysine, methionine, isoleucine, threonine and tryptophan. In a few species of domestic livestock, such as swine and poultry, researchers have determined the optimal levels of each amino acid depending on the stage of growth of the animal. So nutritionists do not merely say that a four-week old broiler chick should be fed a 22 percent diet but rather break it down to the exact amounts of lysine, methionine and other amino acids needed for optimal growth. Although specific amino acid requirements are not as well defined on the ruminant side (beef cattle, dairy, and sheep) researchers are making advancements in the area, and many ruminant nutritionists consider certain amino acid balances in their recommended rations. Of course, we are not as advanced in our knowledge of specific amino acid balances needed for optimal production in whitetail

Along with good nutrition, protein played a major role in producing the trophy rack on this buck taken by author Matt Harper.

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The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail Pintlala, AL 36043

Research = Results™

Vol. 20, No. 3 /



deer, but research continues to advance our knowledge. In monogastric digestive systems (simple stomachs such as humans and swine), protein hydrolysis occurs in the intestinal tract, where it is broken down, absorbed and used in various functions, including tissue synthesis. In ruminants (deer, cattle and sheep) protein digestion and usage is more complex. When a deer consumes protein, the protein enters the rumen, and at least a portion of it is broken down by rumen microbial populations. These microbial populations eventually produce a protein called microbial protein, which is then used by the animal. Another type of protein, called bypass protein, escapes rumen fermentation and moves into the small intestine, where it is digested in similar fashion to a monogastric system. Most nutritionists have found that certain combinations of microbial and bypass protein is needed for optimal production. PROTEIN NEEDS FOR DEER If you see a buck cruising down the trail you are sitting near, the first thing most hunters will look at is his antlers. We are drawn to antlers as the proverbial moth to the flame. Antlers are an extension of the skeletal system; growing bone while in velvet and hardened dead bone when

Not all food plots are designed to supply protein. Brassicas like Winter-Greens are consumed in the fall when energy is the more vital nutrient.

the velvet is shed. As mentioned earlier, protein is a major component of growing bone and thus is a major component of growing antler. Up to 80 percent of a young velvet antler is protein, and even a hardened antler is roughly half protein. So you can see why there is no doubt that protein is such a major consideration in the nutritional management of bucks. But a buck’s

protein needs go beyond antler growth. Protein is also needed for muscle and tissue synthesis and maintenance. Keeping in mind that a buck must be at optimal body condition to achieve optimal antler growth, protein directly and indirectly affects antler growth and production. Does also require protein for body maintenance, but the needs increase dramatically dur-

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

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ing lactation. In fact, most nutritionists agree that a doe’s protein requirements are higher than that of bucks when she is lactating. Does require somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 percent to 20 percent protein in their overall diet for optimal milk production, as opposed to a buck’s protein need, which range from 16 percent to 18 percent. Although not as high as when she is lactating, a doe’s protein needs are also elevated during gestation, especially during the last couple of months of her pregnancy. The dramatic fetal growth that occurs during this time requires a doe’s dietary protein to not solely be used for her own maintenance but also used for the growth of the unborn fawn(s). Fawns, yearlings and immature deer have probably the highest protein needs of any segment of the deer herd. Consider that these deer have rapidly growing muscle and the skeletal system to supports that muscle, which requires large amounts of protein. Research indicates that fawn and yearling weights of whitetails are a good predictor of their mature weights, which in turn are strongly related to mature antler growth in bucks and maternal proficiency in does.

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

PROTEIN MANAGEMENT So we know what protein is, and we know that all segments of the deer herd require protein for specific biological functions. But what does that mean to a person who wants to manage their property to produce healthier and bigger deer? Although protein is found in nearly all plant material, the levels of protein vary dramatically. For example, acorns and corn are attractive to deer and provide great sources of energy. However, protein levels of acorns and corn typically range from 4 percent to 8 percent, which is far lower than what is required. Further, in most parts of the country, native browse will normally not exceed a collective protein value of more than 12 percent. If you consider that a buck’s protein requirements are as high as 18 percent, a doe’s requirements can be as high as 20 percent and a fawn’s might be up to 26 percent protein, an obvious shortfall can be seen. To make up for this deficiency, food plots containing high-protein forages can be used to fill in the gap. For example, Imperial Whitetail Clover can provide more than 30 percent protein to the deer herd. If your property provides 12 percent protein from natural browse and contains a food plot that produces 30 percent protein, and the deer use the food plot for only one-quarter of their daily diet, the resulting overall protein level would 16.5 percent. If they use the plot for half of their daily intake, the resulting protein level in their diet would be 21 percent. Another consideration when considering protein via food plots is timing and availability of that protein. Protein needs are the highest during spring and summer, when antler growth and lactation are occurring. Deer need a consistent source of a high-quality protein throughout this period. Further, the earlier this protein can be available in spring, the better off you are to provide protein for the early stages of antler growth and the final weeks of gestation. So what we are looking for is a forage that is most likely perennial, cold tolerant, early greening and provides a consistent high level of protein through early fall. These are the goals set forward in each of the perennial products produced by the Whitetail Institute, and I can tell you from experience they have succeeded. My perennial Whitetail Institute food plots (Imperial Whitetail Clover, Extreme and Alfa-Rack Plus) are the first green plants to emerge in spring and are normally the last green forage available in late fall and winter. Research has shown that Imperial Whitetail Clover can maintain an average of 30 percent protein. One final practice that has proven successful in areas where food plots are difficult or impractical to produce is the use of protein-rich supplements. These supplements are not necessarily complete feeds but rather contain high levels of nutrients designed to balance the overall diet in much the same way a food plot can do. In states where it is legal to feed supplements, it is an option worth investigating. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

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Research = Results™ Vol. 20, No. 3 /



Ken Robinson — Illinois

Looked like a perfect hit. As the buck ran away to the right my wife told me she thought she saw a drop tine. I agreed and told her, “You just shot a monster!” My wife replied, “I’m seeing stars, I think I’m gonna pass out!” We heard the buck crash about 75 yards away and could not stand sitting in the stand more than a minute or two. We had to check it out. After tracking the blood trail we found her deer. What a monster! I counted 27 points and a drop tine. Stickers all over. This is what it is all about. My dream has always been to shoot a drop-tine buck, but seeing the reaction my wife had after scoring this trophy, I wouldn’t have it any other way. This meant much more to me than it would have if I had taken it myself.

Monte Mallory — Indiana

My wife has been shotgun hunting for whitetail for four years now, taking two does prior to this season. This year I was determined to get my wife her first buck. We spent the summer planting food plots with Whitetail Institute seeds, setting game cameras, and scouting for deer on our small farm in Jackson County, Illinois. The weeks prior to shotgun season I spent my days off work sitting in a tree stand by 5 a.m. watching bucks and patterning their movement and times. On Nov. 20, the scouting paid off. By 5:30 a.m. my wife and I were in a doubleman ladder stand near a food plot with Imperial Whitetail Clover. By first light the rut seemed to be in full swing. We spotted several midsize bucks chasing does and we were hoping to see one of the hogs I had seen several times between 8 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. the day before. At 7:50 a.m. we watched a big ten-point working his way towards us from 300 yards before he disappeared into the woods. At 8:15 a.m. I was observing a creek bottom to the north when she whispered anxiously, “there he is.” I said, “which field,” to which she replied, “right in front of us, he’s looking at us.” I slowly glanced to the south and saw a huge buck staring directly at us from 60 yards. I whispered, “don’t move.” Immediately the buck started to travel parallel to us towards the right. I said, “Get ready, I’ll stop him and you’ll only have a couple seconds to shoot.” She positioned her shotgun and informed me she was ready. I hit the grunt and he put on the brakes, looking back at us from 65 yards and broadside. Two seconds later the gun went off and I saw the impact right behind the front leg. 42

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

Hello fellow food plotters, I am happy to report I have used Imperial Whitetail products successfully for the last two years on my Southeastern Indiana property. With numerous tracks of land surrounding mine, a management plan

long enough to take a picture next to the stand of PowerPlant. This product grew more than 10 feet tall. This was very impressive and the deer loved it. The two trophy bucks were caught broad side chasing after estrus does. These does came to the Imperial food plots every day to feed. It has worked each year. I plan to expand four more acres of land into food plot areas come spring. And you can bet I will be using Whitetail Institute products. It seems like the deer never leave these plots. Thanks Whitetail Institute.

Mike McNarney — Indiana

Deer use Imperial Whitetail Clover year round. I killed my biggest deer to date. 150-class 11point with outstanding mass.

Bob Goodrich — Iowa

is out of the question. My only advantage is the Whitetail Institute food plot. This is the only product that I have found to attract and hold deer on my side of the fence all year long, especially fall. And it does! I have used several different seed combinations, Extreme over here and Imperial Whitetail Clover over there. I have included some photos of my son, who was one year old at the time, sitting in a mix of Imperial No-Plow and WinterGreens. I have enjoyed watching them both grow. Brody is two this year and would not hold still

We have deer and turkeys from spring season into winter in the Imperial Whitetail Clover. This is a soft bedding area for fawns to lay and the turkeys to eat grasshoppers. We will not use another product for planting clover ever. It’s tried and true! The does and fawns love Imperial Whitetail Clover and the bucks are always where the girls are. It’s a great product for supplemental food for the deer and simply observing all


tures. Deer are looking very good after a long winter in Michigan. We had a ball this year.

Boyd Ness — Minnesota wildlife. Photo — he has been seen eating in one of the Imperial Whitetail Clover food plots weekly.

Howard Dixon — Kentucky My best friend Dean Debow purchased the farm we hunt about 14 years ago. We have been hunting partners since high school, (1974). I started

with a small plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover. As time progressed we have added about 51/2 acre plots of Whitetail Clover. We also have one plot with Alfa-Rack Plus and a late fall over seeding of Winter-Greens. We have also used two mineral sites, one with the 30-06 product and the other with Cutting Edge products. I would love to tell you we have 160-180 class deer running around on the property but we have not seen them yet but I think they are there. However, I can report a significant increase in deer activity, body size and antler development. I harvested a good 2-1/2 yr old, 13-point with a 19-inch inside spread in October. I’ve enclosed a picture of him and two other bucks we’ve taken. The best information I can attest to is the Whitetail News publication. We have learned more about managing deer herds and overall property management from reading what the professionals’ advise. It is unreal. We very much appreciate the time, energy and effort put into all the Whitetail Institute’s endeavors to promote quality deer management programs.


Mike Duni — Maine T h a n k s Whitetail Institute for all the wonderful products. I've found Imperial Whitetail Clover and No-Plow work the best for me. Here is a picture of the buck I harvested on Dec. 4 last year with my muzzleloader in my back Imperial Whitetail Clover field. It was a slow year here in Maine with hunters not seeing many deer. According to my trail camera this was the seventh buck to visit the field. Plant it and they will come! Thanks again Whitetail Institute.

Bill Hubler — Michigan Shot this 16-point Nov. 15 last season with my 13-year-old daughter Rachelle on an Imperial Whitetail Clover food plot. After I shot him an 11 point came out. But we were tagged out for the year. Then about 30 minutes later another big 8 point came out. We are seeing much bigger racks for their ages with Whitetail Institute products. Thanks Whitetail Institute. Keep up the good work.

Thanks Whitetail Institute for great products. We have used Imperial Whitetail C l ove r, Alfa-Rack


Plus and WinterGreens for three years. They work great. We have seen a really big jump in tine length and antler mass this í˘˛ past year. My brother-in-law Jason Winfrey shot the buck in photo 1 in Northern Minnesota. The buck was a main frame 6x6 with three kickers and scored 184 and some change. Photo 2 is my brother Travis with his 150-inch buck taken off a Winter-Greens plot. Thanks again Whitetail Institute for the great products.

Raymond Puchalla — Minnesota

L. D. Peoples — Michigan What a great year of hunting. After 2 years of planting Whitetail I have three plots of Imperial Whitetail Clover going now. The deer love it. I have also used Alfa-Rack on a hill on the back 40 next to Imperial Clover plot. The deer love it too. See photo.

John Hlavacek — Nebraska Institute products we are seeing more and larger deer. See pic-

I planted Alfa-Rack Plus and it has done very well this year. We noticed how fat our deer have become. Even the does’ have a belly. We had a (Continued on page 58) Vol. 20, No. 3 /



A Review of Nutrition and Management Fundamentals:

Basic Terminology By Hollis Ayres


s hunters and managers become ever more knowledgeable about the sciences and practices of deer nutrition and management, they sometimes take for granted that folks who are just starting out understand the basics. Winning programs, whether they’re in sports, business or any other endeavor, all have at least one thing in common: periodically, they all go back and review the fundamentals—those things that serve as the bedrock of success. Let’s take a look at some basic terms in deer nutrition and management and what they mean. WHAT IS “DEER NUTRITION”? I’ll start with this one for two reasons. First, it’s why as deer “managers” we do what we do. And we are managers, at least when our goal is to improve the quality of the deer we hunt. Second, it’s the longest one to explain. So, let’s get started. “Deer Nutrition” in a Nutshell. For our purposes, “deer nutrition” simply means how we supplement the diet Mother Nature provides, and in specific ways, to help deer reach as much of their genetic potential as possible. Whether we’re talking about humans, deer or any other animal, nutrition for our purposes can be generally defined as nourishment through food intake, or diet. And in humans and deer alike, there are two types of diets: general and specific. A general diet is just one that must provide enough nutrients to allow the animal to grow into adulthood and live a healthy, active life. The general human diet consists of three meals a day, each containing something from each of the “four food groups,” and most humans can get enough of what they need right from a grocery store to stay fat and happy. A specific diet is one that is goal-oriented and that goes beyond the general diet. Examples are the body builder who eats a highprotein diet following each workout, or the long-distance runner who eats a carbohydrate-rich meal before a marathon. The “Goal” of Deer Nutrition. Generally speaking, the goal of deer nutrition is to supplement what nutrition Mother Nature provides in amounts, quality and availability needed for deer to maximize health, body size and antler size. There are two reasons why this is necessary in most cases if deer are to maximize their genetic potential: the specific physiological needs of deer, and shortfalls in naturally available food sources. Specific Physiological Needs of Deer. Deer are “small ruminant” animals. A ruminant is an animal whose stomach has four chambers, one of which is the rumen. The rumen is home to millions of microorganisms that do the bulk of digestion. Cattle and deer are ruminants. However, the rumen of a deer is much smaller than those of cattle, and as a result a deer cannot effectively utilize stemmier, tougher forages the way cattle can. Compare the mouths of cattle and deer, and you’ll see a major difference: cattle have wide mouths, which are ideal for grazing, but deer have long, 44

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

slender mouths, which allow them, as “concentrate-select feeders,” to pick and choose only the most tender leaves, shoots and buds that are compatible with their small ruminant digestive system. Changing Nutritional Needs. Consider also that the nutritional needs of deer change during the year. For example, in the spring and summer, protein is the king of nutrients, and minerals might be considered the prince. Large amounts of protein and minerals are needed by bucks for antler growth and by does during the last trimester of pregnancy and later when they’re producing milk for newborn fawns. During fall and winter, though, energy takes top billing. Energy, which is actually a product of nutrients, is provided by fats, lipids and carbohydrates. Shortfalls in Naturally Available Nutrition. To make matters even more nutritionally stressful for deer, the food Mother Nature provides is often of limited palatability and duration. The tender new growth of early spring quickly becomes stemmy and less palatable to deer, and at some times of the year may be totally exhausted. An example is the period from late winter until spring green-up before natural forages re-emerge. While naturally available food sources are sufficient to keep deer alive in most cases (but not all), it’s usually just enough for them to get by. In our context, then, deer nutrition simply means providing deer with regular access to the specific nutrition they need throughout the year to not only remain healthy and active but also to maximize body weight and antler size. Our goal is to help deer thrive as opposed to just survive. WHAT IS “SOIL pH” AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Of all the basic terms used in deer management, “soil pH” has historically been the least understood. Part of that is the fault of experts who unnecessarily complicate their explanation to folks who are just starting out in deer management. The good news is that for our purposes, “soil pH” is very easy to understand: What Soil pH “Is.” Soil pH is a set of numbers from 1-14. The center of the range (6.5 – 7.5) is referred to as “neutral” soil pH, lower numbers indicate “acidic” soil, and higher numbers “alkaline” soil. What soil pH “Means.” Most high-quality deer forages grow best in neutral soil pH. When planted in soils with a soil pH outside the neutral range, these plants cannot access all the fertilizer you put out. In other words, if you fertilize and plant in soil with low soil pH, some of the fertilizer you put out is being wasted. Here’s an analogy that may open your eyes: think about your car or truck. Hopefully, the gas tank doesn’t leak. If it doesn’t leak, then all the gas you spend your money for is going to be used by the engine. If you poke a little hole in the bottom of the gas tank, though, some of the gas will leak www.whitetailinstitute.com

out and be wasted. And if you poke a few more holes, the gas will leak out even more quickly and even more will be wasted. You might as well have bought the lost gas and poured it right down the drain for all the good it will do you. Soil pH works means the same thing, but applied to your food plot. The farther out of neutral your soil pH, the more fertilizer is being completely wasted because the plants can’t access it. How do you correct the problem before you plant? Read on. WHAT KIND OF LIME AND FERTILIZER SHOULD I USE? The way to raise the soil pH of the soil in a plot with acidic soil is to add and incorporate lime into the seedbed by disking or tilling. By “lime” I mean natural, mined Calcitic or Dolomitic limestone in either “ag” form (rough crushed) or “pelleted” form (more finely ground, and suspended in clay balls for ease of use in a broadcast spreader). More and more, we’re seeing new products come on the market and other “lime substitutes” that purport to raise soil pH as well as limestone, and in far less quantities pound-for-pound than limestone. Some of these may have merit. Others almost certainly do not. And still others present risks not associated with lime. Other products we’ve seen purport to raise soil pH and fertilize the seedbed correctly, all out of the same bag! Some of these are also suspect, first in that they suggest that a comparatively tiny amount of liming material can substantially raise soil pH, and second because the fertilizer portion is a fixed blend, meaning that you can’t adjust nitrogen, phosphorous or potassium individually, which may cause you to go either low or high on one or two elements, wasting the excess to get enough of the other. So, how much lime do you need to add if your soil pH is below 6.5-7.5, and how much and what blend of fertilizer do you need to add? Lime works to raise soil pH by acting in particle-to-particle contact with the soil. That’s why you often see lime recommendations in soil test reports expressed in tons of lime per acre; there are a lot of dirt particles in the top few inches of an acre! As for fertilizer, different types of plants have different fertilizer requirements. There’s only one way to know specifically how much lime and fertilizer you may need: with a soil test performed by a qualified soil testing laboratory. Again, if you get nothing else out of this article, please at least get this: Performing a laboratory soil test is the most important thing you can do to ensure a successful planting and save money. A soil test performed by a qualified soil-testing laboratory costs only about $10. For that $10, the lab can tell you whether you need to add lime and fertilizer, and if so exactly how much so that you don’t waste money, and exactly what blend of fertilizer to use to optimize forage growth. Again, only a laboratory soil test gives you all that. Inexpensive do-ityourself testers may not be consistently accurate, are prone to user error, and cannot provide exacting recommendations for that specific plot. Let me put it this way: Would you spend $10 if you knew you’d likely make a few hundred dollars back? A laboratory soil test can save you literally hundreds of dollars in needless lime and fertilizer expenses. And if you do need lime and fertilizer, it can keep you from buying anything more than exactly what you need. And this doesn’t even mention the greatly improved growth and attraction of a food plot planted after following the recommendations of a real soil test.

Extreme conditions call for extreme measures. And Imperial Whitetail Extreme is powerful enough to overcome the worst your property has to offer. Thanks to Extreme, dry, hot locations and soil with low pH no longer prohibit growing a successful perennial crop. Extreme requires only 15 inches of rainfall a year, is both heat and cold tolerant, and will grow well in pH levels as low as 5.4. Extreme is ideal for challenging growing conditions, but will also do great when conditions are kinder. An extreme response to extreme conditions.

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MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON A LABORATORY SOIL TEST REPORT Although the scientific process for generating the information on most laboratory soil reports is similar, the form in which that information is provided is not. To help you wade through your report, realize that some of the information is critically important to you as the planter, and other information is only important to the lab. www.whitetailinstitute.com

The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043


Research = Results™

Vol. 20, No. 3 /



The most important information to you as the planter are (A) the lab’s readings of your soil’s soil pH and nutrient content, and (B) the lab’s recommendations for correcting soil pH and adjusting nutrients when necessary. Soil types differ from one plot to the next, and some acidic soils, for example, are able to “hold” neutral pH longer than others once lime has been incorporated. Likewise, not all forages have the same fertilizer requirements. Recommendations can also be affected by the amount of organic matter in the soil, CEC reading and other factors. The point is that soils differ, and only a lab can give you a recommendation based precisely on the type of soil in your plot. WHAT DO THE NUMBERS ON A FERTILIZER BAG MEAN? When you look at a bag of fertilizer in a store, you’ll see (usually right on the front) three numbers separated by dashes. Examples are “13-13-13” and “6-24-24”. What the Numbers Stand For: From left to right, these numbers stand for nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K). These are the “big three” — farmers often refer to these as their “NPK requirements,” and they’re usually the only nutrients you’ll need to concern yourself with when planting and maintaining a food plot. (Lime is arguably even more critical, but it is not a nutrient.) What the Numbers Mean: Each number represents the amount of that nutrient (N, P or K) in 100 pounds of that fertilizer product. For example, if you see a 50-lb bag of “6-24-24,” you’ll know that inside that bag are three pounds of N, and 12 pounds each of P and K. How That’s Useful To You: Just knowing that can help you select a blended fertilizer product, or multiple blends together, to meet the recommendations specified in your soil test report. And in some cases, it can even

help you save money. For example, let’s say you will be planting Imperial Whitetail Extreme, and your soil test says you need to fertilize at planting with 40 lbs. of N, 40 lbs. of P and 40 lbs of K. When you go to the store, you see that they have “10-10-10” and “20-20-20.” Which one should you buy? Since you know that each number represents the pounds of that component in 100 pounds of the fertilizer blend, you know that by putting out 400 pounds of 10-10-10 you will be putting out 40 pounds each of N, P and K (4, as in 400 pounds, times 10, the content of each component in the blend). But, you can do the same thing with only 200 pounds of 20-20-20 (2, as in 200 pounds, times 10, the content of each component in the blend). Realize also that while you want to be as precise as possible, you don’t have to be mathematically perfect — just get as close as you can, and if you have to go “over” on one component to get the needed amounts of the other two, it’s usually okay to go a little over on nitrogen if you are fertilizing in the fall. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? It’s been over 20 years since the Whitetail Institute started the whole food plot and deer nutrition revolution. Since then, the sciences and practices we now refer to collectively as quality deer management have proved a huge success. According to the record books, hunters today are five times more likely to harvest a record-book trophy buck than they were in the late 1980s. As advanced as deer management has become, and will likely continue to be in the future, it always pays to make sure your basis is solid. If you have any questions about these, or any matters related to deer, deer nutrition, food plots or deer hunting, call the experts at the Whitetail Institute at (800) 688-3030. W

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• Super-charged granules make bucks see RED! • KRAZE contains Devour™, a scientifically developed and tested scent and flavor enhancer that drives deer wild! • KRAZE is mineral and vitamin enhanced • KRAZE satisfies a deer’s inherent craving for specific types of sugars

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

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

Research = Results


Sam Castleman — Illinois I have shot many nice bucks since using the Imperial Clover. I have Imperial Clover planted throughout my hunting properties. This year we did not have the mast crop of acorns like we usually do in the fall. This made the food plots an even hotter place to hunt. I shot two mature bucks around the clover fields. One went over 150 and the other just under 150. The deer in the pic is more than 150. I played cat and mouse with this old buck for about three weeks before I slipped an arrow thru him on Oct. 24. This buck would come to the Imperial Clover just about every evening. This old buck taught me a lot about mature deer. He would use the wind to his advantage every time he came to the field. I finally got the wind that I needed. That evening it was a misty rain with a true north wind. If I did not get him on his way from his bed to the clover he would wind me. About 4 p.m. I saw him working his way towards me. Just before he got into shooting range he stopped and worked a scrape. He came about 10 more yards and that was all she wrote! He ran back toward his bed. I found him about 30 minutes later. Imperial Clover is the only clover I will plant. The deer just love it. In my opinion Imperial Clover is the best. Thanks Whitetail Institute! P.S. By the way the deer in the picture was 100% free ranging.

John Bambara — Iowa Eight years ago I started using Imperial Whitetail Clover, Alfa-Rack and 30-06 Plus


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

Protein. I have taken four deer over 170 inches, one over 180 and one over 197. Also several others more than 160-inches. We hold more deer especially after gun season. We also leave sanctuaries next to food sources and bedding areas. Since using 30-06 Plus Protein it seems every buck has stickers, double even quads, all kinds of extra points. Thanks Whitetail Institute! My farm partner has taken several over 160, two over 170 and one scored 196-4/8. WOW! Picture says it all. Thanks again Whitetail Institute.

Michael Page — Ohio I have used I m p eri al Whitetail Clover and Chicory Plus in my food plots, along with Arrest and Slay to maintain grass and weeds. All I can say is bravo. These are the best seed blends and herbicide products available. Trust me I’ve tried a lot of others. The Imperial Clover and Chicory Plus are deer magnets. My plots are small and about 50 yards apart from each other. This is the only green fields in the whole area. I’m in an urban area. There are houses everywhere and no farm fields. But these two plots attract and hold big bucks and more importantly does. Does and fawns feed in them like crazy. They feed so hard that the plot maintains a height of about 8 to 10 inches in summer, and in fall it is less than an inch tall. I have had these two plots in for two years and am just starting to reap the rewards! I also use 30-06 Mineral. I plan to put in an even bigger plot of Alfa-Rack Plus this year. This past year I killed a buck of a lifetime. It green scored 182-2/8. He showed up on Oct. 1. This is when I got my first picture of him. He loved my food

plots for both the clover and for the does. There were several times he was there and I was at work. It was heart breaking until Nov. 20 when I was out on an evening hunt set up in a ground blind on my food plot. I wasn’t going to go because; well I was diagnosed with Lupus last May. This disease makes me very fatigued and after a day of work it’s hard to go hunting. And I had been hunting fairly hard. But I decided on the way home at 2:30 p.m. I was going to go. I sat in my blind on my food plot and didn’t see a deer until 4:40 a.m. It gets dark at 5:30 p.m. It was a button buck. He was only in the plot for a minute or two and ran off. Within the next minute, I caught the monster out of the corner of my eye. It seemed liked it took forever for him to take a few steps into the clover plot. When he did I took the shot with my ten point crossbow and blew both of his lungs out. He only went 30 yards and piled up. What an awesome way to end an evening. He was a monster 10-point with a couple of kickers. Thank you Whitetail Institute for your excellence through the years.

Patrick Rutledge — Pennsylvania My dad has been using Whitetail Institute products for about 15 years. We also practice QDM and our DMAP program issues us on average 40 doe tags a year to help control the population. We feel that keeping the deer numbers down and keeping high quality food available are two of the most important things for producing quality deer. We also pass on taking younger bucks hoping they can survive to get closer to maturity. The main Whitetail Institute products we use a lot of are Imperial Whitetail Clover and Winter-Greens. We have seen more than 100 deer in one of our Imperial Whitetail Clover fields at one time. The Imperial Whitetail Clover also helps hold the deer on our property all year and the Winter-Greens is fantastic for holding deer during the hunting season. Imperial Whitetail Clover and Winter-Greens make for some fantastic hunts. We’ve killed over a dozen Pope and Young’s off our property over the years. I killed the 11-point in the photo in the woods off our food plots. He was chasing the


does that hold around our food plots. He scores 154 inches, and is my best buck ever. Thanks Whitetail Institute. Keep up the good work.

Albert Ratheim — Tennessee

Three of us have been hunting since 1980 and we had never killed a buck more than 8 points until a few years ago. Enclosed are pictures of three bucks we took two years ago and a picture of two bucks taken last year. Chuck Ellis took the 11 point with his bow and it scored 153. If we had the genetics they have in the Midwest we would no doubt be killing Boone & Crockett’s because Imperial Clover and 30-06 Mineral hold the deer on our land.

Blake Brenner — Wisconsin Hunting whitetails has been a passion of mine since I was a little boy. It meant bringing together family and friends for a week of gun season filled with stories, blaze orange, shot guns, and not to mention skipping out on school every year to hunt with my father, grandfather and uncle and creating memories that will last forever. When my father and I first became interested in food plots, we paid a visit to a local friend and deer farmer who has been planting plots for many years. He said there are many choices, but Whitetail Institute products have a large variety and are competitively priced. He provided us with the ordering information and four years ago we were on our way to using Whitetail Institute products. This I must confess, was the best decision I have made to better my hunting on our property. The first plots I planted were www.whitetailinstitute.com

each one acre of Imperial Whitetail Clover and Chicory Plus. They both were a hit. The number of deer increased and brought some dandy bucks into view. Over the first few months of hunting over this lush vegetation, I was very impressed. Living in Wisconsin, my property is surrounded by all kings of other crops. Whether it be alfalfa, soybeans, or corn it didn’t stop the deer activity on my plots. Later in the season I noticed the deer were not only being pulled from neighboring property, but they were also starting to bed in new areas. The first year I planted my plots and during the Wisconsin Archery season on Nov. 3 my dream came true. Knowing there was a giant in the area, I left work early with a good vibe. The rut was in full swing. Having multiple mature does in the wood lots on each side of my food plot, I knew it was just a matter of time until I would get my shot at a big buck. Around 3:30 p.m. I spotted some does making their way to the plot. It turns out it was a stringer of eleven. Watching with patience and losing daylight, the doe vanished into the woods. I was starting to feel discouraged. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him standing 100 yards out with a rack from outer space and body to go with it. In complete shock, I gave him three fast deep grunts. He lifted his head, checked the wind that was in my favor, and headed straight for me. I squared off, drew my bow and waited for his presence, hoping that he wouldn’t hear my knees knocking. I released the arrow and it

found its target, hitting both lungs. Once my adrenaline dropped a small percentage I climbed down from the big oak and made some phone calls. When my cousin Jason and friend Josh both arrived, we headed out to follow the blood trail. Having plenty of blood, he was still difficult to track through the tall grass and thicket. After 75 yards and no buck, I was getting nervous and starting to question my shot when Josh tripped and fell while he was back tracking the blood. I asked if he was alright, and in a calm voice he said, “Blake, you better come see this.” I rushed to his side and there he was, grabbing the antlers. He had everybody’s attention with 11 scoring points. He was a main frame 8 point having the heaviest palmations I have ever seen, along with an 18-inch spread and 13-inch G2s. He dressed at 240 pounds and scored 156 inches. Some people called him “The Moose Buck.” A local retired taxidermist of 40 years in Wisconsin told me the buck had the heaviest antlers he had ever seen. I have also now planted Extreme on several acres. Since my initial planting I have taken two more mature bucks, and there have been a dozen or so mature bucks harvested by friends and family as well. Thanks Whitetail Institute for helping make my dream a reality. I absolutely love Whitetail Institute products.

Paul Yanna — Wisconsin The deer seem to love Chicory PLUS. Also, the 30-06 Mineral gives the deer much more mass in their racks. Here is a deer that I killed with my bow that grossed 138 and netted 135 inches. There were two larger bucks also seen on my property. W

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

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

Vol. 20, No. 3 /




s a teenager growing up on a potato farm in western New York State, I had a close friend whose family ran a dairy farm. Each spring, my friend’s father would frost-seed some of his clover fields. At the time, I thought this practice was strange because my dad and grandfather planted our potato and grain crops with a planter or drill in May or September, not when winter was fading into spring. So, I had a hard time believing anyone would attempt to plant a crop when there was still a skiff of snow on the ground. Little did I know at the time that one day I’d be doing the same kind of late winter planting.

When my wife and I purchased our farm in 1973, I immediately set out to offer the wildlife that called our place home a variety of food options. Initially I planted rye and winter wheat in early September. Whitetails loved both in fall, but as far as I could tell never touched these food plots once spring rolled around. In order to offer them food from spring through fall, I began putting in red clover food plots. At the time I knew of no seed company that had engineered clover for a whitetail’s needs, so I went with what local farmers used for their dairy cattle, which was red clover. The biggest problem I encountered with my early red clover plantings was that I often had major plant die-offs after the first winter. Weeds soon took over the open gaps where the plants had died. In those early years, I knew little about frost-seeding, so to counter the clover plant’s die-off, I often replanted the plot if the die-off was substantial. One day in the late 1980s I was invited to hunt woodchucks on the same dairy farm where I had watched my friend’s dad frost-seed during my youth. Afterward, my friend and I stopped at the barn to talk to his dad. During our discussion, the topic of food plots for deer

came up, and I shared with the farmer the problem I was having with some of the clover dying off in my food plots. He asked me if I did any frost-seeding. When I said no, he shared that this was part of my problem and suggested I might want to give it a try. He went on to explain to me how he did it and how my food plots might benefit from the practice. Since that day, I’ve made it a point to frost- seed all of my Imperial Clover plots at the end of winter when spring is knocking on the door. I can’t praise the practice of frost-seeding enough because through the years, it has proven to be very successful and cost saving. WHAT IS FROST-SEEDING? I asked Dick Darling, a seed specialist for one of the largest agricultural companies in the Northeast, who advises farmers in the New York and northern Pennsylvania area on ways to increase crop yields about frost-seeding and he said this: “In the northern reaches of the United States, winter can be harsh on all things living, especially plants. If adequate snow is not present to cover the ground, plant die-off is a real possibil-

FROST-SEEDING is Simple, Effective, Economical By Charles J. Alsheimer Photos by the Author

Frost seeding taking place in late March.


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3



Proven performance up and down the line.

ity. When plant die-off takes place food plots go from being a forage oasis to a blotchy-looking piece of ground when spring green-up rolls around. This results in less available forage and opens the door for weeds to take over. To counter this, farmers and food plot practitioners use the time-tested method of frost-seeding. By lightly broadcasting a perennial seed on the ground in late winter, certain crops like clover and alfalfa are able to maintain their lushness and provide high nutrition for multiple years.”

Whitetail bucks feeding in frost-seeded clover field in August.

WHEN DO YOU DO IT? Here in the North, some farmers frost-seed their clover fields as early as March 1. The down side of this is that in some cases there is still a fair amount of snow on the ground. Frost seeding can be a problem when several inches of snow blanket uneven ground and a sudden thaw occurs and the seed washes away. What I have found works best is to wait until the snow is nearly gone. In my region of western New York State, this normally takes place the end of March. “The key to frost-seeding is to do it when the ground is freezing and thawing on a daily basis,” said Darling. “This freezing and thawing action honeycombs the soil, causing the seed to fall into the cracks in the soil, which allows the seed

to make direct contact with the soil.” Over the years, I’ve learned that my best

results take place when I frost-seed early in the morning, when the ground is still frozen.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3





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Because you want to take advantage of the ground’s freezing/thawing action, broadcasting the seed should not be attempted if the ground is slick or partly thawed. HOW TO DO IT? One of the beauties of frost-seeding is that it requires very little equipment. I do all of my frost seeding with a strap-on shoulder hand-crank broadcaster. When the weather conditions tell me it’s time to frost-seed, I fill up my handcranked seeder and begin walking the plot, applying a small amount of seed. I usually walk the plot in a clockwise manner to begin with, and then finish the broadcasting by walking the plot diagonally to make sure no spots are missed. When it comes to seed application, “less is more.” In most cases broadcast between one third and half the amount of seed recommended for a new seeding. The goal is to fill in the missing plant gaps in the food plot. WHICH SEEDS WORK BEST? “Because the seed will lie on the snow or ground for an extended period of time only hard seeds should be considered for frost-seeding,” Darling said. “Often, people attempt to frost-

seed forages like rye grass, orchard grass or brome grass, which are all soft seeds. Water soaks into soft seeds as they lay on the ground, causing them to rot before the ground warms enough for them to grow. So, any soft seed should be avoided for frost-seeding.” Two of the best hard-seed blends for frostseed consideration are Imperial Clover and AlfaRack. Their seed is hard-coated, so neither will rot while on the ground waiting for spring and 45-degree ground temperatures to arrive before germinating. In addition, clover and alfalfa seeds are small, so they easily fall into the small crevasses created in the soil when the freezing and thawing action takes place. It is also important that the seed used for frost-seeding be inoculated. All Whitetail Institute products are ready to plant. BENEFITS There are many benefits that can be achieved with frost-seeding, and three of the biggest are that it saves money, boosts the nutrition level of the food plot, and in some cases can control weeds. Cost savings: By frost-seeding an existing perennial food plot, the plot’s annual cost can drop by 70 percent to 75 percent after the first year. Typically, with proper weed control (spray-

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ing and mowing), frost-seeding and periodic fertilizing, I’m able to get five years out of most of my Imperial Clover food plots. Though frost-seeding can be a real bargain, each perennial food plot should be evaluated on a yearly basis to make sure frost-seeding is the way to go. Two questions you should try to answer before considering frost-seeding are: 1) Is the current food plot nearing the end of its lifespan? 2) How bad is the food plot’s weed infestation? Being able to address these questions will determine if it’s time to replant or frost-seed. Nutrition: A second benefit of frost-seeding is that it allows the food plot to have even more young plants in the food plot. Because the nutritional level of younger plants is greater than that of mature plants, the food plot’s overall nutritional level stays as high as possible throughout the food plot’s life. Weed control: Frost-seeding with Imperial clover before spring green-up can help with grass and weed control. This is because clover tends to germinate and begin growing in cooler ground temperatures than many native grass and weed seeds. Generally, when the ground temperature reaches 45 degrees Fahrenheit, clover seeds begin growing. W

SOIL TEST KITS Whitetail Institute

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

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


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

Vol. 20, No. 3 /



LEASING Enjoy the Fruits, Avoid the Pitfalls By Scott Bestul Photos by Brad Herndon


t was one of the toughest checks I’ve ever had to write. Not long ago, I was one of those hunters who said, “I’ll never pay a dime to access deer hunting ground.” I’m fortunate to live in the country, and many of my neighbors are farmers who let me hunt for nothing more than a firm handshake, a Christmas card and the occasional plate of baked goods.


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3


Yet there I was, signing a check that constituted my share of a sizable chunk of money… to deer hunt. For one season. In the interest of full disclosure — and because I doubt she’ll read this — I never told my wife about that first payment. Heck, I was in denial about it myself until the season was nearly over. My hobby was expensive enough just buying the basics, so why would I shell out money for access I could get elsewhere for free? I’ll tell you why: Because I couldn’t hunt the property without paying, and I knew it was good. But there were other benefits, too. I’d be part of a group of like-minded guys; men who wanted the chance to install and maintain food plots, do habitat work and manage a deer herd, all without having to try and pay for real estate we couldn’t afford to own. So we paid the money and, despite some hiccups and challenges, enjoyed the heck out of ourselves. When the sun set on the final day of season that year, I knew I’d spent money on a lot more foolish things than that lease fee. So I've joined the ever-increasing number of hunters who pay to access deer ground, and I’ve done so in each of the many seasons since. Leasing is not only a standard-practice, long-lived tradition in many areas, it’s a growing trend nationwide. If you’re about to join the fraternity, follow this step-by-step guide to getting started. LEASING BENEFITS Well, everyone involved benefits. The landowner — in my area usually a hard-working farmer — realizes some monetary gain from an activity he’s given away for years. Also, many landowners view deer — and the woodlands they primarily inhabit — as net-loss freeloaders on otherwise valuable property, and leasing converts deer to assets. And of course, deer can wreak havoc on agricultural crops, and lease fees help farmers recoup them. The leasing hunter enjoys even more. Primarily, leasing guarantees an exclusivity impossible to find on all public tracts and most private ground accessed only by handshake agreement. Second, leasing often allows hunters the ability to manage whitetail numbers and age classes that’s difficult to enjoy without buying property. Third, some lease agreements afford the hunter a chance to tweak habitat, plant food plots and enjoy other benefits of ownership at a fraction of the cost of actually paying for ground. And, finally, there are some properties — often very good ones — that you will access no other way. Should it come down to paying or staying at home, most hunters find a little extra money and make leasing work. ASSEMBLING A GROUP Unless you’re fairly well-heeled, paying for even a modest lease will require one or more partners. Take your time choosing them. Remember, every lease member will be equal parts hunting buddy, co-worker and business partner; and one individual lacking in any category can make for a long and frustrating experience. Here are some guidelines: 1. Select a core group. Three to six members is a good, manageable starting point and, as noted, they should be folks whom you know well and trust. It’s easier to add people if you need or want to expand your group (for example, if you need more money for lease fees) than it is to get rid of a bad egg. 2. Decide on finances. Members should agree on a per-man cap on costs. This will help as you shop for ground and decide how to budget for projects such as food plot seed and equipment such as stands/blinds, implements and tools. 3. Establish goals. Are you leasing simply to secure access and enjoy the hunt? Just wanting a place to take your kids? Or do your dreams include habitat/food plot work, and managing for trophies? Deciding ahead of time will not only establish harmony among members, it can narrow down the size and location of the property you seek. 4. Set By-Laws. Discuss and decide on rules that will govern how your group will function. This can seem like a kill-joy activity to a group of guys www.whitetailinstitute.com

Vol. 20, No. 3 /



simply eager to hunt, but it aids in communication and makes things fair to everyone. Some possible topics include: • Establishing work days for scouting, hanging stands, planting food plots, establishing trails and other activities. • A guest policy. Will non-paying members be allowed to hunt? How often? For how long? Do they enjoy the same privileges as members? • Distribution of hunting effort. Some members may have oodles of hunting time, others only a weekend or two. Some will want to bow-hunt only, but others will opt for firearms hunting. Who goes when? And where? FINDING GROUND If you already live in good deer country, the best lease is often the one that’s closest to home. Why? For starters, you won’t waste precious hunting time on travel. But scheduling other activities — scouting, food plot work, stand hanging, even inviting the family for an outing — also becomes easier if your lease is in your neighborhood. Finally, monitoring your property — and this includes everything from food plot maintenance to patrolling for trespassers — is much easier. If your group is anything like ours, you’ll fall in love with your lease and want to spend more time there. When it’s easily accessible, visiting becomes a snap. Here are some tactics for securing ground near home. 1. Obtain a plat book. This atlas of landowners and property sizes — available from the recorder’s office in the county you wish to lease — will help you identify potential properties by size and location. 2. Create a hit-list. Write a menu with the most-desirable acreages on top, complete with first names, addresses and phone numbers. 3. Make personal visits. Nothing beats a face-to-face meeting, but an introductory phone call can save time and, in the case of absentee owners, might be your only option. 4. Advertise. While you’re doing your legwork, a classified ad in the local paper can make some property owners come hunting for you. Neatly written posters in stores, restaurants and the local post office can have the same effect. 5. Network. Biologists, foresters and employees of agriculture-related businesses and agencies can be great resources. They’re not only familiar with the best deer properties in the area, but the landowners most amenable to hunters. I learned about our lease from a friend who works for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a division of the Dept. of Agriculture. My buddy simply acted as a matchmaker, putting me in touch with a receptive landowner. Leasing property in other states and regions can take some ingenuity if you don’t have the time to visit the area and chat with prospective landowners. Again, I’ve had friends access great ground by simply running a classified ad in a newspaper from the area. Simply state that you’re an ethical, respectful hunter seeking access and are willing to pay. Note specific seasons — gun, bow, muzzleloader — you’d like to hunt and the size of your group and wait for the phone to ring. The internet offers the same service, but presented in a more streamlined, efficient manner. Sites like High Tech Redneck (hightechredneck.com) list properties for lease by state, species, weapons type and cost. Simply type in your preferred area (Kentucky) for the game you want to hunt (whitetails) and bingo, you’ve got a list of possibilities to sort through. For an annual fee ($39.95) you can find other leases in your area, research spots in other states, and receive detailed info on properties without ever leaving your home. It’s the leasing hunter’s version of online dating and, as you might suspect, there are other sites out there, too. DO YOUR PAPER WORK A lease is a business deal and, as such, is incomplete without a formal agreement signed by your hunting party and the landowner. Again, this might seem an unnecessary — and uncomfortable — step in the honey56

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

This is what hunters are looking for — a monster buck — when they decide to lease hunting land.

moon phase of the relationship between your club and the property’s deed holder, but it will prove invaluable if you encounter problems. Trust me on this; the first property owner my friend and I leased from turned out to be a disreputable sort who reneged on virtually every promise he made by handshake. The relationship turned sour, and lawyers were eventually involved. The only people who win in situations like this are the men who’ve passed the bar exam. Fortunately, there’s no need for reinventing the wheel on a lease agreement. Templates are widely available on the internet. (A good sample was developed by the Agricultural Studies Department at Kansas State University and can found at agmanager.com). Our group married elements of several samples to draft a document we were most comfortable with. Every lease agreement should contain these basics: 1. Monetary mechanics. Explicitly state how much money the landowner will receive and when he should expect payment(s). 2. Legal language. The landowner should be absolved of liability should a club member (or guest) get hurt while on the property. 3. Code of Conduct. Most landowners will want to establish rules for acceptable behavior by all club members and guests on his property; where you can or can’t drive, areas off-limits to hunting and shooting, and placement of stands and blinds. 4. Exclusivity. Your hunting party should not only enjoy sole access to the property for hunting but other activities that might coincide with the season. In some cases, the landowner might want to reserve some rights www.whitetailinstitute.com

for limited hunting or recreation, such as horseback or ATV riding. If so, make sure the specifics of who/what/where/when are spelled out clearly. 5. Trespasser protocol. Will the landowner patrol the property and prosecute interlopers, or will your group perform that function? Sometimes state laws will dictate who gets to play sheriff. 6. Land use agreements. If the landowner agrees to food plots, habitat work and trail creation, indicate clearly where these activities can occur and the proper protocol for planning them. Finally, consider a lease agreement a living document. After you create a template, sit down with the landowner and edit the document. Then make a final draft, have everyone — including all club members and any coowners of the property — sign it. The hunt club stores one copy, the landowner another, and if you’re really dotting your i’s, stick another in a bank vault. Finally, obtaining some sort of hunt-club insurance is worth investigating. Although most liability concerns focus on the landowner, don’t put it past an aggressive lawyer to come after the club itself should an accident occur. The Quality Deer Management Association offers a strong and thorough (underwritten by Lloyd’s Of London) hunt club insurance policy that covers all activities associated with deer hunting, includes guests, and sports, no deductible. For information, contact qdma.com. WHAT’S IT WORTH? Like any real estate, lease fees are across the map and influenced by a variety of factors: property size, habitat condition, hunting history, even the neighborhood (fees in a trophy hotspot such as Buffalo County, Wis., might double what landowners are asking just three counties away in the same state). And of course, demand is a powerful driver of price. If hunting opportunity is scarce in an area, expect to pay more than in a region chock-full of whitetail ground. What’s this mean in cold cash? The lowest fees I’ve heard of recently were a shade less than $2 per acre, and the highest more than $40 for the same. But these numbers can be deceptive. For example, it might take 1,200 acres in Oklahoma to grow enough bucks to keep three men hunting all season, but 120 acres in Illinois could easily entertain the same group. If the Prairie State parcel commands $30 per acre and the Sooner plot only $3, which is the better deal? Only you can answer that, and your decision will be based on non-monetary issues, such as travel, management goals and other factors.



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STRIVE FOR LONG TERM Recently, a friend was approached by a landowner who wanted him to “lease” his property. “I turned him down after talking for five minutes,” Dan said. “He only wanted to lease it to me for one year and then talk again next summer. Paying for one season isn’t a lease, it’s a trespass fee. And I’m not interested in that.” I’ve heard that complaint from many hunters who’ve tried to lease ground, and I didn’t understand their hesitation until I was a leasee myself. Think about it: You spend hours planting food plots, improving habitat, hanging stands and all the labor-intensive activities associated with managing a property, so you want to start over again on a new place the next fall? I don’t, and I don’t appreciate another group enjoying the fruits of my hard work, either. Most happy leasees I know have worked out long-term agreements with the landowner, and three years is a typical minimum. Many property owners balk at multi-year contracts, but I’m convinced their hesitation has more to do with money than the commitment. The cost of living rises as sharply for farmers as it does the rest of us, and their concern that your fee won’t keep up with inflation is legitimate. Craft an agreement with a small-percentage increase for each successive season, and everyone will be happy. W www.whitetailinstitute.com


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Vol. 20, No. 3 /



(Continued from page 43)

No. 1 at the age of 1. Start them young and keep them going.

Brad Cass — Ohio

great deer season this year with my son Jake shooting a 162-inch 5x5 with some trash.

Daniel King — New York

I have used Imperial Whitetail Clover for some time now. The clover will grow in just about any soil condition, which makes it a little easier for the non-farmer to have a successful field or plot to hunt. The Winter-Greens is just awesome. My plot of Winter-Greens is usually getting pounded by deer in the month of August, way before a frost sets in. I live in lush farm country and the deer will come to the Winter-Greens instead of the local alfalfa fields. I have also used Arrest and Slay herbicides on the clover with great results. They saved me from having to do my plots over and over and over again because of the high content of weed seed in a certain plot I have. I will continue to use Whitetail Institute products because they WORK!! I have included a photo of a 10-point buck that my daughter Kayla is kneeling next to in an Imperial Whitetail Clover plot. Kayla helped plant this plot. So easy a child can do it. The buck weighed 225 lbs dressed. Kayla was in Whitetail News Volume 13, 58

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

I have a small 50-acre farm. I’ve shot several deer off of my Imperial Whitetail Clover field. (Picture included.) I have two areas where I plant food plots and they are very close together. So while I’m hunting I can observe both plots. The second plot I have experimented with different products. But while observing both plots its hands down the deer prefer Imperial Whitetail Clover. On many occasions in late winter I have watched as many as 26 deer feeding in the clover and maybe one deer in the other plot. Remember I only have 50 acres. I have picked up sheds from a 180-class buck also. This year I planted Winter-Greens in the second plot. I’ve seen many nice bucks cruising the food plots looking for does or just feeding in them. Love the product. The deer in the photo is a bow kill. Keep up the good work.

Jon Szekeres — Pennsylvania Our family has owned 350 acres in Pennsylvania since the early ’70s. We have shot bucks over the years and most were young bucks with average racks. This past year I planted six acres of Imperial Whitetail Clover in three different food plots. This early archery season I saw more bucks than ever before and passed up many decent bucks waiting for a wall hanger to come close. I saw a couple great bucks that never came close enough. When gun season

came around we had some luck. My father (Joe Szekeres) who has shot many great deer over the years shot the biggest buck of his life, crossing though one of the food plots. This monster 9-point was 21-1/2 inches wide with long tines and great mass. Three days later I was hunting with my cousin (John Bortz) and he shot his first deer. His 9-point buck was 23 inches wide and very large. Even now since hunting season is over I have captured some nice bucks on my two game cams. I am very pleased with the results from Imperial Whitetail Clover. There has been more deer and larger bucks staying on the property than before planting the food plots. Next year we will be planting more food plots. I can not wait to see what happens in the years to come.

Bobby Wolfgang — Pennsylvania This is the first year I have planted food plots on my property. I decided I would try Whitetail www.whitetailinstitute.com

Institute products because of the good information I heard and read online and from friends. I can not believe the attraction level of Extreme. Previous years I would not see bucks until late October, early November, and this year with the food plots it was the complete opposite. Within the first two weeks of the Pennsylvania archery season I had seen two shooters in my Extreme plot and passed on multiple smaller bucks. The deer in the photo was shot out of my Extreme plot on Oct. 18. I am really looking forward to seeing what kind of antler growth the product will help exhibit on buck in future years. I am very satisfied with this product and would recommend it to anyone that is interested in planting food plots. Thank you Whitetail Institute for helping me shoot my biggest buck ever!

Brett Gilreath — South Carolina My name is Brett Gilreath and I am 18 years old. I shot this deer on Nov. 19, this past season. I got him at my club in South Carolina. On our 350 acre club we have about 3 acres of Imperial Whitetail Clover, 3 acres of Chic Magnet, and an acre of Pure Attraction. When I killed this deer I was hunting over a Pure Attraction food plot.

He's a straight monster, 159-inch, 10-point grown with the help from Imperial Whitetail products. I'm just glad I talked my dad and the rest of the members in the club into letting me plant this wonderful stuff. Everyone is asking us what we plant now. I tell them get some Whitetail Institute products.

Colby Coppinger — Tennessee Planted Imperial Whitetail Clover in two plots. It’s been established for 3 years and is growing strong. Plots located on mountain and Cumberland Plateau in TN. Planted Alfa-Rack Plus in one plot along with Imperial Whitetail Clover. This plot is awesome. Over the last four or so years there have been easily more than 100 bucks seen. 100-inch — 120inch average,

160-inch — 170inch largest. Planted Extreme in one plot by itself, and it has done exceptionally well. Planted in very poor soil. I planted Chicory Plus as an additive to the Imperial Whitetail Clover, AlfaRack Plus and Extreme plots. Deer loved it a lot more than some of the chicory’s and brassicas we had previously tried. Enclosed are a few pictures of bucks we have harvested.

I have also used Secret Spot around some of my stand sites with good success. We are starting to see very good results. Thanks Whitetail Institute and keep up the good work. Enclosed is a picture of my son Travis’ buck of a lifetime. We are guessing that the buck would score in the 140’s Boone & Crockett. The mass of his antlers was unlike any we had seen on our property in years. Congratulations Son! But it may be a tougher decision on who hunts that stand next year.

Randy Sievert — Wisconsin Before I planted Alfa-Rack Plus I only shot and saw small immature bucks. Once I planted this product we started drawing and holding unbelievable bucks! I never thought I would be hunting bucks of this caliber! I would like to thank the people at Whitetail Institute for making this possible. W

Raynard Good — Virginia The first product I tried was Imperial Clover and I still feel it is the best product for my area. We have several very nice food plots of 1/2 to 1 acre and they have produced for 3 to 4 years without reseeding and we see a lot more deer around them. I planted a plot of clover and another of Winter-Greens in our back yard so we can watch and observe how the deer use it year round. It is very satisfying to watch the deer feed in there almost every evening. We experimented with the PowerPlant this past summer, and wow, did it grow and the deer stayed in the plot a lot. We will be planting it again this year. www.whitetailinstitute.com

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

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

Vol. 20, No. 3 /



Three Stories Make Youth Season Special For Editor By Bart Landsverk, Whitetail News Senior Editor


isconsin’s 2010 youth firearm season was held in mid-October, and my son and two nephews had a special weekend. Their fathers did, too. The youth hunt gives children a chance to shoot deer before the typical gun deer season. Here are the stories about my son, Erik, and nephews Nicholas and Michael’s first deer.

Erik Landsverk Learns A Lesson My son, Erik, was hunting whitetails for the first time during the October youth hunt. Erik is 12 and has taken a shine to hunting. I was very proud of him when he took his hunter’s safety class. He listened to the instructors, asked questions of me after the class and studied hard. We also took time to sight in the new Remington Model 870 12-gauge shotgun. Erik wasn’t used to shooting through a scope, so it was nice that Nikon’s scope provided a ton of eye relief. I knew as a father it was my job to make this hunt the best it could be. Erik already knew that his 13-year-old cousin, Nick, had shot his first deer that morning. Nick actually shot two deer, a buck and a doe. His story will follow. Knowing that his cousin had already been successful only made my son more determined. As I looked at the trees and realized where the wind was blowing, I decided to take him to my brother Adam’s stand, which is a large box stand that fits two hunters easily. Adam’s stand is also one of the best places to see deer on our property. Erik was very excited to have a chance to shoot his first deer. I was also excited. It is a great feeling to share your passion with your child. Youthful exuberance is infectious, and it made me smile as my son’s braces-filled grin filled the stand. And, as can be the case with inexperienced hunters, the excitement would get the best of him. Erik found out that unlike video games, getting a clean shot at a whitetail can be tougher than it looks. “I was hunting with my dad in a tree stand on Saturday night,” Erik said. “We sat about two hours, and I saw a doe. 60

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

I was sitting down, and the stand was too high to see into my scope and aim at the deer. So I tried to sit on my knees to shoot, but it was harder than I thought. I couldn’t get the deer in my scope because I was too far away from the scope. Then the deer trotted away. I was so angry at myself I couldn’t believe it.” My son was visibly upset. I told him that it was all right and that he’d have another chance in the morning. He seemed to calm down and look forward to the next day. When we arrived at camp we found out that Erik’s cousin Michael had shot his first buck. This story will also follow. This, coupled with Nick’s success, made us smile. It also made Erik determined not to be the lone man out. And as we ventured out into the woods on the beautiful Sunday morning, I was hoping Erik would get another chance. “The next day I hunted in the same stand," he said. “My dad said the deer would come from

Erick Landverk’s first buck.

where they were eating the night before and go to their bedding area. It was the way I was facing, too. Then about an hour after we got in the stand, I saw a deer about 25 to 30 yards away. I didn’t think I would miss, so I looked into my scope and aimed right behind the shoulder. Bam! I shot. The deer ran away. My Dad said I hit the deer. He also said it would be dead when we found it. “Then I wondered if it was a buck or a doe. I never looked at its head when I aimed through the scope. As we followed the blood trail, my Dad told me it was a buck. I was really excited then. Then we found the deer. I was so excited to get my first deer. I was also happy to make up for the night before when I couldn’t get the deer in the scope.”

Michael Landsverk Shoots His First Buck Over Winter-Greens! By Rocky Landsverk (his father) My son, Michael, hunts hard. He turkey hunted for about 10 days through two years before shooting his first bird. He has hunted with me in my deer bow stands for many years, so he's put in plenty of time in the deer woods, too. So when it came time for Mike, 14, to get a chance to shoot a gun at a deer, I didn't want yet another lesson capped by “That’s why they call it hunting and not killing.” His friends have shot deer. We own very good deer hunting land, and the elders have shot many deer. I wanted him to shoot something, not learn any more hard lessons about fairness. That’s why I wanted to hunt over the 6-acre food plot. I had choices. We lease 60 acres and own 40, and in another county, we’re part of a large lease of family hunting land. But I wanted to be where I knew we’d see deer and at the very least get a shot at a doe. And come 5 p.m. or so, with a 6-acre plot with Imperial Whitetail Clover, Winter-Greens and Tall Tine Tubers planted, you know where you will see deer. During Mike’s first afternoon with a gun, it was off to a tent alongside our food plot. I knew the deer would come down the opposite hill, pause for moment, do their safety check and head right to the middle, where the Winter-Greens was their recent favorite. But I had the time wrong. It wasn’t until 10 minutes before closing time (remember this is gun, not bow; ask me sometime what bow closing time is) before we saw a deer. And it had antlers. From 100 yards through the Nikons, it looked like a smaller 2-year-old 8-pointer. And it was a perfect first buck. Mike had the 20-gauge sighted in with a shot-


Michael Landverk’s first buck.

gun scope with plenty of eye relief, and the sabots were locked and loaded. The buck wandered to 70 yards, a little farther than we had sighted, but these children and their video games — I knew he could make that shot. Problem was, he couldn’t shoot. The deer was in the scope, but Mike was too nervous to pull the trigger. Even with the gun on a tripod-mounted rest and the deer standing still, Mike was shaking too much to keep the scope centered. “Take it down... breathe... relax,” I said. Back up again, and all is good. Nope, too nervous again. “Relax, it’s only a deer,” I said. “It’s not the end of the world. This is fun.” All good, back up again. “Pretend it’s a video game. Right on the chest, squeeze slow and follow through, you don't have to ... ” Bam. We went into safety mode, checking the safety, kicking out the shell, remembering the muzzle. Now it was time to look for the deer. I couldn’t see it from my spot in the tent at the time of the shot. “I missed him!” Mike said. Looking out, there was nothing. “Then where is he?” I asked. “I don't know, but I think I missed,” he said. “Michael if you missed, he'd be running, and there's nothing running,” I replied. Well, not at that moment. About 30 seconds later, the large (for 1-1/2 years old) 7-pointer got up. And fell. Then he got up again and repeated that pattern all the way back to us, to our woods, just to our right. And by then, it was www.whitetailinstitute.com

about two minutes after close. The deer was lying 30 yards from us, alive but probably not for long, and it was past closing time. Lesson time. “Michael we have to get away from this deer,” I said. “He will lie there and die, but we have to get away from him.” We crawled away until we were at a distance and then returned to the truck. Ninety minutes later, tracking didn’t take long, thanks to our friend Aaron’s tracking skills (more lessons for Mike) and Aaron’s multitude of flashlights. Mike saw the deer first, a little cherry on top. “I got him I got him!” True elation. He had earned it. The practice, reading, safety classes and time spent had paid off. After a brief reminder that he is still 14 (“There’s a porcupine, can I shoot it?” at 9:30 a.m.), it was back to more learning moments, including making Michael pay attention as I gutted his deer. The final lesson that night came courtesy of Aaron. “Michael,” he said, “congratulations on your first buck. The second one, you gut yourself.”

Nicholas Landsverk Bags First Two Deer By Nicholas Landsverk Beep, beep, beep! I woke up to the sound of the alarm clock. It was an unusually hot October morning. It was also the first day of the youth hunt. I was sweating from the heat. I slipped on my sweat pants and boots first, my hunting jacket and orange vest next. I was too excited to eat one of the pumpkin donuts on the table. Taking a sip of Mountain Dew, I looked at my cousin, Tori, and said, “Hope I get one!” She assured me I’d get one, and I decided to get my dad going. It was pitch dark at 6 a.m. Thankfully, the stand was about 70 yards from the cabin. We all got ready and headed out into the black blanket of darkness. After arriving at the stand, I sat listening to the hooting of an owl. Suddenly, the sound of a mouse came from inside the stand. The stand was 15 feet in the air, with a door, roof and several windows. The mouse scurried within inches of my ear, yet it was too dark to see it. As light peeked above the trees, the scurrying happened again. I looked over, and the mouse was climbing down the wall. My dad, who hates mice, was yelling, “Kill it!” It escaped under the door. I looked out the window wondering where it went, and four mice were watching from the crack in the door. I told my dad they were trying to get in. They would poke their noses in, and my dad would kick the door. As I was laughing

at my dad, I looked out the window and saw a little doe. I asked my dad if I should shoot it. He said it was up to me. It kept walking behind trees, so I didn’t have very good shots. It eventually walked out of range. Twenty minutes later, a bigger deer came in. It was within 50 yards and walking broadside into a clearing. It looked like it had small horns, but I didn’t care. I brought up my Remington 870 20-gauge, looking down my iron sights. Then it was in the clearing. Boom! I missed. Boom! It ran into some brush. I didn’t know if I hit it or not. I sat, hoping that I hit it, when another deer came in. I didn’t want to shoot at it, worrying that it had horns, too. I loaded some more shells into my gun. My deer came out of the brush. Boom! Boom! Boom! Miss, miss, miss. It went behind a tree and came out again. Boom! Miss. I realized that I was shooting high. I had just sighted my gun in, so this left me wondering. I aimed lower and squeezed the trigger. Boom! It turned and I could see the blood pouring out of its side. I also saw its fork-structure horns. It walked five yards and dropped. My first deer! I was in such bliss. I was speechless. My dad got my uncle on the radio and told him the news. Suddenly, the same deer that I was scared to shoot came in again. A closer look told me that it didn’t have horns. I had three shells left. I shot high again. The deer ran 20 yards and came back. I aimed lower and squeezed. It dropped in its tracks. We got down from the stand. We tagged and gutted the deer. I looked at them feeling proud. I only waited 30 minutes and nine shots to get these deer. This will be an experience that I will never forget. W

Nicholas Landverk’s first buck.

Vol. 20, No. 3 /



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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3


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Vol. 20, No. 3 /



The Future Of Our Sport David Birkett – Iowa It was about 7:45 am on Saturday morning and the sun had started to break through the trees. Garrett, having just woken up from a nap, was busy checking out every squirrel and bird sound that he heard. Garrett, thinking every sound or movement was a deer sneaking in on us, was busy looking through his binoculars. I explained to him that if a deer was going to sneak in, we would never hear it until it was under our stand and that was the main reason we had to remain perfectly still. Having only been hunting for two weeks at this point and always from a ground blind he was not grasping how exposed we were. It was his first experience in a double wide tree-stand and he kind of looked like a bobble-head figurine on everything that moved or made a sound in the woods. It was about that time, I saw a tail flicker about 55 yards down the ravine by a large Oak tree. I raised my binoculars to see a large body of a deer eating acorns. The neck and head were hidden by the tree, but it was a good sized whitetail. I whispered to Garrett, "I see a deer." He answered in a rather loud voice, "WHERE?" I gave him the stern "SHHHH" sign as I pointed at it while helping him raise the gun. As he was leaning over my legs with the gun up on the shooting rail, I whispered in his ear reminding him to "aim carefully and slowly squeeze the trigger — like at the range." "Let the gun go off on its own while you keep the cross hairs on the middle of the chest." After about 60 seconds, I started to think twice and whispered "shoot!" After what seemed like another 10 minutes, but was probably only 30 seconds, I whispered "shoot or it might walk away." Three seconds after that, the air was filled with white smoke!

Scott Johnston – Michigan After a quick peek with my binoculars and seeing the white belly laying on the ground, I heard a large “I got it!” I grabbed the muzzle loader, put the stock of the gun on the floor of the stand and started to dig in my back pack for the reload kit. About that time I hear a shout, “It’s a buck!” In disbelief, I took another look and after seeing the rack, I began digging frantically for the reload kit. About that time I heard the worst phrase possible, “Hurry Dad, it is trying to get up.” Gator-aid, cookies, beef jerky, donuts and candy bars were flying everywhere at this point. And after nearly spilling the rest of our powder pellets, I was able to get the muzzle loader reloaded and ready for another shot. Garrett finished the deal with a follow up shot and had his very first deer and possibly the buck of his lifetime.

Devin Finnegan – Massachusetts

Brendan Kuhlman – Missouri

On a brisk, fall day after school my Dad and I went deer hunting with some of my relatives. I sat by myself in a spot my Dad picked out for me and I waited. I was nervous and excited. After only about 15 minutes a doe and a one-pointer came into sight. I took aim and shot the one-pointer. I felt sure that I got it, but I stayed put until my Dad showed up. Then we went in search of my deer. It took us about ten minutes, although it seemed like a lot longer before we finally found it. When I realized that I had bagged my first deer I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I was on top of the world. I could tell that my Dad was just as proud of me as I was of myself. My school teacher encouraged me to write Whitetail Institute of North America about my experience. Many of the students in Western Massachusetts enjoy hunting and during our free time in class we share hunting stories. I love Whitetail Institute and would love to have my story and picture in the Whitetail News. 64

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 3

We have poor soils (sand) and a short growing season here in Northern Michigan. When my daughter was old enough to hunt two years ago I decided to thin my woodlot and create a food plot. I was not disappointed. Prior to planting Alfa-Rack Plus and Extreme, we saw few deer. After planting, we had turkey nesting nearby the first spring. Last fall Alanna got her first deer, a three point in the picture.

I am an 8-year-old deer hunter. I hunt on my Grandfathers farm in Northern Missouri. During the youth season last year I killed my first deer. I have enclosed a picture of this big 10-pointer. I shot it as he was at the end of the Imperial Clover field. This was the third big deer I saw that day, but this one did not get away. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

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

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239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043

Research = Results

150" B&C rack Rotating head Stands 37" at the shoulders!

Offset Shooting Zones on all four sides

more core shooting surface

Size of a 300 lb. live weight deer! 150" B&C rack Rotating head Stands 34" at the shoulders!

more core shooting surface

Offset Shooting Zones on all four sides

Size of a 200 lb. live weight deer!

Anchor point just 1/4” high

Anchor Point

Over 5” off at

Over 10” off at

20 yds

40 yds

Perfect Alignment

Perfect Shot

Looking through a peep and putting the pin on your target is not enough Bow is torqued just 1/4”

Bow Torque

Over 5” off at

20 yds

Over 10” off at

40 yds

The new IQ Bowsight’s revolutionary Retina Lock Alignment Technology will dramatically extend your effective range! TM


Most bowhunters are confident shooting at shorter ranges. But, get out to 40 yards or beyond and they lack consistency. This is because of mis-alignment due to bow torque or inconsistent anchor. It doesn’t take much. A 1/4” translates to

a 10 inch miss at 40 yards (see diagram). That’s about to change! IQ Bowsights revolutionary Retina Lock Alignment Technology puts you in perfect alignment for every shot. It’s easy to use and you’ll instantly be shooting short range groups at long range distances!

Your bowsight is really just a stack of pins that help you judge elevation/ distance. The truth is ...

YOUR AIM CAN BE OFF EVEN IF YOUR PIN IS ON! At full draw, purposely torque your bow while keeping your pin on target. Pay attention to your arrow. You’ll see it’s easy to mis-aim your arrow. This proves there is more to accurate shooting than a properly placed pin! Torque is the enemy. And, something as simple as changing grip pressure can cause bow hand torque.

Cold weather, bulky clothes, gloves or buck fever can alter your anchor point Most of us practice on a range or in the backyard in a t-shirt before season. Yet we hunt in cold weather wearing bulky clothes and gloves and shoot from awkward positions after sitting for hours and with adrenaline pulsing through our veins. All of which can alter our anchor point and affect our accuracy.

IQ’s Retina Lock provides instant feedback that alerts you to imperfect alignment With Retina Lock you simply center the dot before the shot. This sophisticated technology provides instant feedback that will identify even the slightest torque or anchor point change. This will force proper form, build confidence and most important, dramatically extend your effective range!

t Instant feedback at a glance t/PCBUUFSJFT1:MFHBM t /PFYQPTFEQBSUT t 'PVSBYJTBEKVTUBCJMJUZ Patent #5,850,700. Other patents pending.

Center the dot for a perfect shot!


Profile for Whitetail Institute

Whitetail News Vol 20.3  

Volume 20 Issue 3

Whitetail News Vol 20.3  

Volume 20 Issue 3