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Whitetail Institute of North America 239 Whitetail Trail / Pintlala, AL 36043 Phone: 334-281-3006 / Fax: 334-286-9723 CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED

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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 Daryl Cherry, Greg Aston, Javin Thomas Dealer/Distributor Sales Steffani Hood Dealer/Distributor Analyst Dawn McGough Office Manager Mary Jones Internet Customer Service Manager Teri Hudson Internet and Office Assistant David Dickey Shipping Manager Bart Landsverk Whitetail News Senior Editor Charles Alsheimer, Tracy Breen, Jim Casada, Matt Harper, 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

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

Your Own Back Yard

T

here is a song from the Roaring Twenties that tells us “happiness lies right under your eyes back in your own back yard.” I heard that sentimental old song recently on a player piano and I had to agree. I know that the best things literally ARE in my own back yard in Central Alabama. Because that’s how I feel about my part of the world with its great hunting and fishing. The area I call home is known as the Black Belt, a geographical region named for its rich dark soil. It cuts a swath across the state from east to west and as you can imagine from its definition, it enjoys a longstanding and historic agrarian tradition. Even better, it is home to superb natural resources, including two of America’s favorite game critters — whitetail deer and black bass. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that my hometown of Montgomery is the birthplace of no less than three influential outdoor organizations. It is where I founded the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) in 1968 and it is where Jackie Bushman founded Buckmasters, built I’m proud to say, on the basic model of B.A.S.S. Then in 1988 I founded the Whitetail Institute of North America, inspired by my frustration at not being able to find a really good whitetail forage and my determination to improve the less-than-desirable deer quality we suffered with at the time. I’m happy to say both situations were taken care of. With my interest in both hunting and fishing, I was excited when I was invited to participate in a new state initiative called Alabama Black Belt Adventures, a

program designed to spotlight and promote the state’s exceptional outdoor resources, especially its hunting and fishing lodges. That’s frankly what prompted me to open my own bass lakes and home to a limited number of groups at Ray Scott’s Trophy Bass Retreat. As much as anything however, I felt gratitude knowing that there are individuals out there who not only treasure our outdoor heritage on a personal level but are willing to expend considerable time and energy to protect and enhance its future for all. I know that similar efforts — on local levels or statewide — are being made all over the country, sometimes against a mighty strong headwind. Hunting is a sacred tradition in the Black Belt and the South in general. However, in a few other regions, hunters must fight constantly simply not to lose ground. But with perseverance and the kind of knowledge and support the Whitetail Institute provides, we can be more certain that the next generation of whitetail hunters will continue a proud tradition of responsible management and dedication to conservation principles that will ensure that our sport not only survives but thrives in all of our own backyards.

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THE HIGH POINTS

T

he Whitetail Institute of North America is proud to announce the development and release of a perennial forage mixture that combines heat tolerance, drought tolerance and winter hardiness in a single mix that deer absolutely devour. Imperial Whitetail Edge is the latest addition to the Whitetail Institute’s industry-leading line of forage products for deer. Edge is the result of five years of the same scientific research, development and real-world testing process that make Whitetail Institute forage products the gold standard of the industry. That means you can rest assured that Edge will perform well in a variety of climates ranging from Florida to Canada and attract deer like a magnet. www.whitetailinstitute.com

• • • • •

• Extremely palatable forage to deer that provides outstanding energy and nutrition • Five years in Whitetail Institute’s research, development and testing program Perennial mixture (last up to 5 years from a single planting with proper management) Up to 44 percent protein Penetrating and prolific root systems which enhance drought and heat tolerance Winter hardy Best performance on medium/heavy to moderately well-drained soils Optimum soil pH: 6.5 to 7.5 THE DETAILS

The Whitetail Institute’s research, development and testing process are entirely goal-oriented. That goal is product quality and high performance in a wide range of categories that include: early seedling vigor, rapid stand establishment, drought and heat tolerance, disease resistance, persistence, nutritional content and, of course, attractiveness to whitetails. Over the five years of Whitetail Institute’s research, development and testing of this product, Edge has met or exceeded the Whitetail Institute’s stringent standards which ensure success for your herd management and hunting success.

FORAGE COMPONENTS Like most other Whitetail Institute forage products, Edge is a carefully designed blend of several plant species that have traits that provide optimum performance in the field and optimum results for your deer herd. We use blends for a couple reasons: 1) Rarely will a single plant type perform at the highest levels in all test categories; 2) Mixtures can adapt to the variable growing environments and conditions found throughout different growing regions and even in the variable conditions of your own food plot. You will find one of the components may be predominant in shady, wet area, while another component prevails in a sunny, dry area. Because all the components are selected for field performance and deer preference and nutritional benefits, the flexibility of the blend ensures good food availability and nutrition throughout your entire food plot. That’s why the Whitetail Institute takes such care in selecting forage components that complement each other, and then determine the optimum ratios in which to combine them. As a result, you can be sure that, like all Whitetail Institute products, Edge is well suited to a broad range of environments from the Southeastern U.S. to Alberta, Canada, and is highly preferred by deer. Edge contains the following forage components, some of which will be familiar to those who have planted other Whitetail Institute perennials. Edge includes

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proprietary forage varieties available only in Whitetail Institute products. Persist Forb: The backbone perennial in Imperial Whitetail Extreme. Sweet, deeply rooted, cold/heat tolerant, and drought resistant. Persist performs well on light to medium-heavy soils in well-drained sites. Optimum soil pH of 6.5-7.5. X-9 Grazing Alfalfas: The same high-tech grazing alfalfas found in AlfaRack Plus. Deeply rooted, winter hardy and extremely attractive to deer. Because these are true “grazing” alfalfa varieties, they have an excellent leaf-to-stem ratio. Like any alfalfa, X-9 grazing alfalfas should be planted in soils with soil pH of 6.5 or above. WINA Perennial Forage Chicory: The same proprietary perennial forage chicory found in Imperial Whitetail “Chic” Magnet, Alfa-Rack Plus and Extreme. Deeply rooted. More palatable to deer because its leaves don’t become leathery and waxy like other chicories traditionally planted for deer. Specially Selected Sainfoin Variety: High-protein legume that produces protein levels similar to those produced by high-quality alfalfas. Sainfoin is a non-bloating legume which increases palatability. Winter hardy as well as drought and heat tolerant to withstand hotter, dryer environments. The sainfoin variety included in Edge has been specially selected for its outstanding deer preference compared to all other sainfoin varieties tested by the Whitetail Institute. WINA Golden-Jumpstart Annual Clovers: These are the same proprietary clovers included in other Whitetail Institute perennial and annual forage blends. These clovers sprout and grow very rapidly, providing fast green-up and attraction. RAINBOND SEED COATING Edge includes Rainbond, a high-tech coating component that contains water-absorbing polymer beads. These polymer beads act like a minireservoir, absorbing up to 200 times their weight in water that would normally be lost to evaporation or percolation through the soil, and keeping it right next to the seed as it germinates. The beads continue to absorb more water as the moisture in them is depleted. The seed coating and Rainbond on Whitetail Institute products dramatically improves seed-to-soil contact which is critical for successful seed germination and plant establishment. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

Research = Results™

Planting Dates. Edge is suitable for spring or fall planting in most areas, and during a single yearly planting date window in others. Planting maps for the United States and Canada are provided on the back of the product bags as well as on-line at www.whitetailinstitute.com. Soil Type, Drainage and Soil pH. Edge is designed for medium or heavy soils in sites that are moderately well drained. As with any alfalfa or product containing alfalfa, soil pH should be within neutral range (6.5-7.5) at the time of planting. Equipment Requirements. Equipment required to prepare the seedbed for Edge and to maintain the established forage is the same as for any Whitetail Institute perennial forage product. Seedbed preparation includes the incorporation of lime (when soil pH is below 6.5) by disking or tilling, and smoothing the seedbed with a cultipacker or drag-type implement to eliminate soil cracks and spaces before seeding. Maintenance includes mowing a few times in the spring and, if possible, once as fall approaches. Edge stands should also be sprayed for grass each spring if needed. Bag Sizes. Edge is available in 1-acre (26 lbs.) and 1/4–acre (6.5 lbs.) sizes. If you have any additional questions about new Edge, call the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants at (800) 688-3030. The call and the service are free. W

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By Matt Harper Photos by the Author

I

s it is just me or does it seem like sometime during the past 20 years our communities have been inundated with eating establishments? When I was a kid, we had two restaurants in my hometown, one where you had coffee (maybe breakfast if you were lucky) and the other you went to after church on Sunday for dinner (lunch for city folks). And at these diners your choices were anything that included meat and potatoes, maybe eggs at the breakfast joint. Today, I think there are more than 12 restaurants in that town with food to match any dining preference including a host of ethnic foods and good old Americana. Actually your choices are endless, which can be good or bad depending on the flexibility of your digestive tract. I am not too adventurous when it comes to trying new food but I did try some Thai food one time and let’s just say I spent a lot of time alone for the next few hours. So you may be asking yourself what all this rambling about food and restaurants has to do

with food plots and deer management. The answer is simple. For food plots to be effective, deer must utilize them, so it is important to have an understanding of why deer eat what they eat, and the answers can all be found in the opening paragraph; availability, taste and digestibility. AVAILABILITY Over the past few years I have had hunters share with me literally hundreds of different food stuffs that they swear deer love. There are the obvious ones but add to that pumpkins, watermelons, all types of landscaping plants, cattle feed and on and on. On one occasion, I had someone tell me that deer love fescue. I have never experienced this nor have I heard of deer eating fescue with regularity and certainly not as a preference. I asked him what types of forages the deer in his area have available to them. He answered with the enlightening state-

ment that fescue was just about the only available food source. So basically, the deer’s choices were starving or eating the fescue. I have also had hunters share with me the food plot forages that they feel work the best in terms of deer preference. A few of the forage types mentioned were a bit surprising in that they were varieties that normally do not win the deer attraction contest. After a bit more inquiry I discovered that in most cases, the forages they were growing were the only ones that would grow successfully in the type of soil in which they were planting, thus the only forages available to any degree. In these cases, I like to use the analogy of going to a buffet. If you show up early at the buffet and you’re greeted with a plethora of choices including your favorite juicy rib eye steak, what do you think you will choose? Now let’s say you get stuck in traffic and you get to the buffet line late in the evening. The choices have been picked over pretty good and all that

Even though standing corn is available, deer are often-times drawn to the brassicas under the snow. If you didn’t have brassicas, the deer would likely be in standing corn.

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is left is some dried-out meatloaf. Do you just go home? Of course not, because it has been a long time since lunch and you’re starving, so you will eat just about anything that is eatable. I used two extremes in the analogy but the fact is that with multiple choices of food, one will move progressively down the food preference scale depending on availability. Have you ever had deer seemingly disappear sometime in early fall only to find them munching on white oak acorns? Or maybe you notice less usage on your food plots for a few weeks in spring when natural browse is lush and bountiful? While both of these examples do have the benefit of deer being able to browse in cover, it is also true that at these specific times of the year a food source that deer prefer is available. The take-home message is that it is hard to determine what food source is more preferred than another if you only have one or two choices. As the diversity of available food sources increase, so will the likelihood of determining true forage preferences. My first experience of testing forage preference occurred several years ago when I planted my first food plot. We had an 18-acre hay field that was primarily red clover and deer were often seen browsing in the hay field. I planted a one-half-acre Imperial Whitetail Clover field near the edge of the 18-acre hay field in order to test if deer truly preferred Imperial Clover over other clovers. The first day of hunting season, I sat in a stand overlooking the bottom and was shocked to see deer move thru 18 acres of hay clover and congregate on the one-half-acre Imperial Clover field. If I had not planted the food plot, I am sure that the deer would have continued using the hay field, but when I made Imperial Clover available to the deer herd, a distinct preference was obvious.

TASTE In the discussion of why deer eat what they eat, it would only make sense that taste would play a part in the food preference. In fact, it seems a bit obvious but in reality, the actual “taste” of the food stuffs deer prefer is somewhat less than obvious. It’s pretty tricky to get deer to fill out a taste survey as to what flavors they prefer and the incredible diversity of food that deer consume makes it difficult to pinpoint specific flavors. However, there is one type of taste that unquestionably deer are attracted to and that is sweet. Many years ago I was talking to some university researchers and they told me that the best way they could lure deer into a specific area to catch them with a net cannon was to use apple pie filling. You may say, “Of course, it’s apples, deer love apples”. I certainly don’t disagree but I would suggest that a more exact statement is that deer like sweets. Pour molasses out on the ground and likely you will have deer attracted to that spot and for that matter, just pour sugar out and deer will be lured to that area. To further illustrate the point, deer are most attracted to apples when they ripen and their sugar content increases. Persimmons, berries and other types of soft mast are all most attractive to deer when they ripen and the fruit is at its sweetest stage. Acorns are not particularly sweet but some are less bitter than others such as white oak acorns, and it would seem that the less bitter the acorn, the more attractive it is to deer. You have all either witnessed or heard that brassicas are most attractive after a frost. The reason is that the frost forces the plant to mature and ripen which involves a buildup of sugar content in the leaves. Imperial Winter-

The author plants multiple forages in areas he’ll hunt as deer usage will change from forage to forage based on the stage of maturity.

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Greens tends to be more attractive than other variety blends because the brassica hybrids used in the mix are primarily derived from vegetable (garden) varieties as opposed to the forage varieties found in most of the other brassica products and thus are less bitter. I would be remiss not to mention salt in a discussion on taste. Salt is a difficult attractant to categorize because deer are attracted to salt when they are experiencing a mineral imbalance in the body. In the spring and summer when plants are lush and vegetative, they are high in potassium. This high potassium level in the diet causes deer to crave salt in order to get sodium to balance out the potassium level in the diet. So does that mean that deer are attracted to salt because of the taste or is it more of a physiological function? It is somewhat of a chicken-or-the-eggtype question, but because salt becomes less attractive to deer when plants start to mature and the potassium level drops, I would suggest that it is more physiological than purely a taste attraction. It would also appear that some types of starches and oils are attractive to deer such as those found in grains and hard mast although the actual taste attraction is less apparent. DIGESTIBILITY While availability and taste are two major factors affecting the food sources deer eat, the digestibility of a food source is an influencer that seems the most consistent and predictable. In order to understand the idea behind the relationship of digestibility and food source preference you first have to have an understanding of how deer digest their food. Deer are ruminants which means they have a stomach that has four sections or regions, each performing specific functions. These four sections consist of a reticulum, rumen, omasum and abomasum. The reticulum is involved in controlling the flow of food particles either into the rumen or out of the rumen and back to the mouth. The regurgitated food-stuff bolus is then further masticated (chewed) to break down the digesta which is especially important when breaking down fibrous material. The reticulum is also called the “honeycomb” as the internal surface has the appearance of a honeycomb which acts as a filter trapping larger particulars. The omasum is less understood but is likely involved in some nutrient absorption and the control of digesta flow from the rumen to the abomasum. The abomasum or “true stomach” functions in a similar fashion to the stomach of a monogastric (single stomach). Gastric juices found in the abomasum create a low pH environment that helps to complete the digestion of food particles to allow nutrients to be absorbed in the small intestine. The “heart” of the ruminant system is the rumen, the largest section of the stomach. The rumen of a deer is a volleyball-

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sized sack that is the home of millions of living microorganisms. The microbial populations found in the rumen have a symbiotic relationship with the host (deer) and are in large part what gives a deer the ability to digest fibrous material. Food particles enter the rumen and are broken down by the microbial populations resulting in the production of compounds that deer can digest and utilize. Without a healthy microbial population, deer would lose their ability to digest many of the food sources they consume. Cattle are also ruminants and therefore are often related to deer in terms of their eating habits. The difference, however, is that cattle are large ruminants where deer are small ruminants and are described this way not necessarily in terms of overall body size but rather in the size of the rumen. As mentioned earlier, a deer’s rumen is roughly the size of a volleyball but in comparison, a cow’s rumen is roughly the size of a beach ball. The larger the rumen, the more surface area and in turn the larger the population of microbial colonies. A higher population of microbial colonies gives the host animal the ability to digest forages with a greater variability of digestibility. Therefore, cattle, being large ruminants, have the ability to digest poorer quality material with a higher NDF (neutral detergent fiber) compared to deer. NDF is a good indicator of forage digestibility for deer as it represents the total

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

fiber content of forages. The content not found in NDF are cell solubles (starch, protein and sugars), which tend to be more easily digested. In other words, the higher the NDF, the more fibrous the forage will be and less digestible the forage will be, especially to deer. For example, cattle can derive nutrition from mature, stemmy, low-quality hay that is high in NDF where deer could literally starve on the same diet. Put a bale of alfalfa hay in front of a cow and she will eat the entire bale where a deer will likely eat only the leaves and not the stems as the leaves are less fibrous and more digestible. When you take this knowledge and apply it to food plot forages, the less fibrous the plant, the more digestible and more attractive it will be to deer. Fiber is found in the highest levels in the structural part of plants such as the stems. Therefore, it would make sense that a food plot with less stems and more leaves would be more attractive to deer. This solves part of the mystery as to why the deer on my farm browsed more heavily on the Imperial Clover instead of the 18 acres of hay clover. Hay clover is designed primarily for cattle production and to produce tonnage. To produce large quantities of hay, the forage needs the stem structure to support the massive growth, and since cattle can derive nutrition even from the fibrous stem, plant breeders of hay clover allow for heavy stems. Because deer do not have as great a capacity

to digest stems, Imperial Whitetail Clover was bred to be heavily leaved with smaller stems, thus making it more digestible and attractive to deer. Maturity also plays a role in digestibility. Plants that are vegetative (in the growing stage) are more digestible than mature plants. You may have noticed deer activity is always greatest in a hay field just after it has been mowed. This is because after mowing, the plant begins shooting up new tender, lush growth that is high in digestibility. So the longer a plant can stay vegetative, the longer it will be attractive to deer, which is one of the major factors that influence food plot design at the Whitetail Institute. The preference for new growth also explains why deer utilize natural browse most heavily in spring. CONCLUSION Deer can be unpredictable and I am in no way saying that you can tell what a deer is going to eat 100 percent of the time. I have seen deer eat things with no logical reason as to why they are eating that food source. However, if you keep in mind the three factors we discussed —availability, taste and digestibility — you will be able to accurately predict more times than not what deer prefer to eat at certain times. And that prediction may very well give you an advantage when next deer season rolls around. W

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Food Plot Planting Guide‌ PLANTING DATES FOR IMPERIAL CLOVER, ALFA-RACK PLUS, EXTREME, NO-PLOW, CHICORY PLUS, CHIC MAGNET AND EDGE    

   

Call for planting dates Apr 1 - July 1 Apr 15 - June 15 Aug 1 - Sept 1 Coastal: Feb 1 - Mar 1 Sept 1 - Oct 15 Southern Piedmont: Feb 15 - Apr 1 Aug 15 - Oct 1 Mountain Valleys: Mar 1 - Apr 15 Aug 1 - Sept 15

 

Feb 1 - Apr 1 Aug 1 - Sept 30 Feb 1 - Apr 15 Sept 1 - Nov 1 North: Mar 15 - May 1 Aug 1 - Sept 15 South: Mar 1 - Apr 15 Aug 15 - Oct 15 Apr 1 - June 15 July 15 - Aug 25 Apr 1 - May 15 Aug 1 - Aug 31

   

Mar 20 - May 15 Aug 1 - Sept 15 Sept 15 - Nov 15 Feb 5 - Mar 1 North: Sept 5 - Nov 15 South: Sept 25 - Nov 15 Feb 15 - Apr 1 Sept 1 - Oct 30 North: Sept 5 - Nov 15 South: Sept 25 - Nov 15 Feb 1 - Mar 1 Coastal: Sept 25 - Oct 15 Piedmont: Sept 1 - Oct 5 Mountain Valleys: Aug 25 - Oct 15 North: Sept 15 - Nov 25 South: Oct 5 - Nov 30 Mar 1 - May 15 Aug 1 - Sept 1 Feb 1 - Apr 15 Aug 20 - Sept 30 Apr 15 - June 15 July 1 - Aug 15

  21  22

May 15 -July 1 May 1 - June 15 July 1 - Aug 15 May 15 - July 1

PLANTING DATES FOR DOUBLE-CROSS, PURE ATTRACTION AND SECRET SPOT    

Aug 1 - Sept 1

  

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



Call for planting dates Call for planting dates

Aug 1 - Sept 30 Sept 1 - Nov 1 North: Aug 1 - Sept 15 South: Aug 15 - Oct 15 July 15 - Aug 25 Aug 1 - Aug 31



Aug 1 - Sept 15



Sept 15 - Nov 15 North: Sept 5 - Nov 15 South: Sept 25 - Nov 15



Sept 1 - Oct 30

 

North: Sept 5 - Nov 15 South: Sept 25 - Nov 15

Coastal: Sept 25 - Oct 15 Piedmont: Sept 1 - Oct 5 Mountain: Aug 25 - Oct 15 North: Sept 15 - Nov 25 South: Oct 5 - Nov 30

   21  22

July 1 - Aug 15 June 15 - July 15 July 15 - Aug 31 July 1 - Aug 15

Aug 1 - Sept 1 Aug 20 - Sept 30

PLANTING DATES FOR WINTER-GREENS™ AND TALL TINE TUBERS™    

 

Call for planting dates Call for planting dates July1 - August 1* Coastal: Aug 15 - Sept 30 Southern Piedmont: Aug 1 - Sept 15 Mountain Valleys: July 15 - Sept 15 July 15 - Sept 15 Aug 1 - Oct 1

www.whitetailinstitute.com

 

North: July 15 - Sept 15 South: Aug1 - Oct 1 North: July 20 - Aug 1* South: July 5 - Aug 15* July 1 - Aug 15 July 15 - Sept 15* Sept 15 - Nov 15 North: Sept 5 - Nov 1 Central: Sept 15 - Nov 15 South: Sept 25 - Nov 15

 

North: Aug 15 - Oct 1 South: Sept 5 - Oct 20 North: Sept 5 - Oct 30 Central: Sept 15 - Nov 15 South: Sept 25 - Nov 15 Coastal: Sept 1 - Oct 1 Piedmont: Aug 15 - Sept 20 Mountain Valleys: Aug 5 - Sept 15

      21  22

North: Sept 15 - Nov 15 Central: Sept 25 - Nov 15 South: Oct 5 - Nov 30 July 15 - Sept 1 Aug 1 - Sept 30 July 1 - Aug 15 June 15 - July 15 July 15 - Aug 31

* Earlier (spring) planting dates may be applicable. Call Whitetail institute for more information. ** For northern Pennsylvania, earlier (spring) planting dates may be applicable. Call Whitetail Institute for more information

IMPORTANT! For optimal production, plant at least 50 days before first frost.

July 1 - Aug 15

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By Jon Cooner Photos by Whitetail Institute

M

ake no mistake about it: Antler growth is a race. Given that the antler-growing window of each spring and summer only lasts about 200 days, it’s no wonder that antlers are the fastest growing animal tissue on earth. If you want to win that race by helping your deer grow the largest antlers they can by fall, you’ll need a special high-protein racing fuel. That fuel is Imperial Whitetail PowerPlant. THE GOAL: REALIZING MORE GENETIC POTENTIAL FOR ANTLER SIZE When managing free-range deer to maximize antler size, the specific goal is to make it possible for bucks to realize as much of their genetic potential for antler size as they can. Your management approach should be designed to achieve that goal as fully, quickly, and directly as possible. The three main factors influencing rack size are age, genetics and nutrition.

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Each factor presents management hurdles that can’t be completely eliminated in most free-range situations, but they can be managed to varying degrees. As NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt once said, “In life there are some hurdles you get over and some you don’t," and although he was referring to auto racing, the same is equally true of managing free-range bucks toward larger antlers. The key is to identify the hurdles, and address them in a way that offers the greatest potential to maximize antler size as quickly and directly as possible. Age. One rule in deer management that can’t be changed is the role of age in antler size: a buck cannot grow the biggest set of antlers he has the genetic potential to grow until he’s mature (about 5-1/2 to 6-1/2 years old). Accordingly, any manager whose goal is to maximize antler size should allow his bucks to mature before harvest. In a free-range situation, the effect of age-based harvest restrictions might be limited to some degree by the generally high mortality rate of young bucks from non-hunting related causes and the tendency of bucks that live longer to sometimes relocate. Even so, a management plan that allows bucks to be harvested before maturity will never yield full benefits in antler size. Put simply, you have to let them grow up. Genetics. Another common feature of many management plans is culling — removing mature bucks exhibiting inferior racks from the herd to keep them from breeding and passing on their genes. Over time,

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culling bucks with inferior genetics can reduce the number of malformed racks (a well-formed antler on one side, and a stunted antler on the other) and even racks that are well-formed but structurally smaller than the manager desires (removing 6- or 8-pointers so that only bucks with more points do the breeding) can improve genetics. However, culling can carry practical limitations, especially in freerange situations. Absent scientific testing, the manager has to rely on observation alone to judge the quality of a buck’s genetics, and in some cases observation alone may be an uncertain gauge. A buck whose rack appears to show sub-standard genetics may have simply injured his velvet antlers, which might return to full form the next year. Moreover, even when bucks with inferior genetics are accurately identified, improvement in the herd’s average rack size due to their removal may take a while to show up. Does pass on their genes to their offspring, and you can’t tell much about a doe’s genes by observation. Also, in free-range situations bucks from outside the property may move onto the property, bringing their genes (good or bad) with them. Either may delay or dilute the benefits of culling. In many free-range cases, managing only to improve genetics may not yield larger rack sizes at all. Inferior genetics is a much less common problem in most free-range situations than you might think. Bucks in almost all areas have the genetic potential to grow far bigger antlers than they ever actually grow because they are nutritionally limited by the food Mother Nature provides, die before reaching maturity, or both. Nutrition. Unlike age and genetics, limitations inherent in natural food sources can be largely overcome — and virtually immediately, barring unforeseen weather catastrophes. Accordingly, the smart manager will do what he can with age and genetics, and focus hard on supplementing nutrition. To see why, put yourself in the following situation, and then ask, “What would Dale do?” Let’s say you’re a race car driver who’s nearing the end of a race. You know it will take you one full tank of fuel to finish, but your gas tank is almost empty so you make a pit stop to take on more fuel. Which of the following actions during your pit stop offers the fastest, most direct results: (A) installing a larger gas tank in your car or (B) filling the tank that’s already on the car? Obviously, (B) will get you to your immediate goal with the shortest delay. If you want to extend your car’s range for future races, then certainly install the larger tank. But do that next; for now, filling the existing tank will get you to the finish line, and with as little delay as possible.

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.

The Whitetail Institute

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

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FUEL And when you’re filling the tank, whether for a NASCAR race or an antler-growth race, remember that it will take racing fuel to get full performance. Like a race car engine tuned for racing fuel, the nutritional aspects of antler growth are also specific and narrow, and you won’t get full performance if you rely on low-octane pump gas. Let’s break it down. Protein. Entire books have been written about the nutrients involved in antler growth, and explaining their complex interaction is beyond the scope of this article. For our purposes, we’ll narrow it down to this: the main nutrients involved in antler development are protein, minerals and vitamins, and of these, protein is king. Antler growth starts with the velvet antler, which is 80 percent collagen (a protein), and a hardened antler is still about 45 percent protein. When you take into account that the antlergrowing window only lasts for about 200 days, you can see how important it is that deer have access to lots of protein if they are to have an opportunity to max-out on antler size. MOTHER NATURE’S LOW-OCTANE PUMP GAS Protein. Just as a race car’s engine likely won’t run well on low-octane gas, deer usually can’t get anywhere near the protein they need to maximize antler size just from what Mother Nature provides. Generally, deer need about 16 percent to 18 percent dietary protein. Natural food sources, though, generally offer 10 percent protein or less (usually less). Palatability. After spring green-up, some natural forages can quickly become too tough and stemmy for deer to effectively utilize. Like cattle, deer are ruminant animals that can utilize a wide variety of natural forages. Unlike cattle, though, deer are small-ruminants, meaning that they can only utilize specific parts of plants within a very narrow palatability range. You don’t have to be a scientist to see that deer are built to process only the most tender forages. Just compare a cow’s muzzle and mouth to a deer’s. As grazers, cattle can digest tough, stemmy forages, and they have a wide, flat mouth well suited to mowing off pretty much anything they come across. Deer, though, are “browsers” or “concentrate selectors,” meaning that they select only the most tender parts of plants, and their narrow, sharply pointed muzzle, long tongue, and front of their mouths (incisors only on the bottom, and a hard pallet on top) are suited to nipping off carefully selected parts of a plant. Availability. Consider that right when a buck is well into growing his early (velvet) antler, Mother Nature’s gas station may not even be open. In many parts of the country (especially the further North you go), natural forages can take a while to present themselves in substantial quantities when the antler-growing process begins, and they can be exhausted or of low palatability well before it ends. In most cases, natural food sources are of sufficient nutritional content and availability for deer to grow antlers and live normal lives. Trying to maximize antler size on natural food sources alone, though, is like trying to win NASCAR race when all you have is low-octane fuel—and you don’t have enough of it to even get the car to the finish line. The solution is equally clear: get racing fuel in sufficient amounts for us to cross the finish line as quickly as possible.

get more antler-building protein into your bucks than any other annual forage product the Whitetail Institute has tested. Protein. First, No other competing product the Whitetail Institute has tested produces as much tonnage of high-protein forage during the 200 days of spring/summer antler growth as PowerPlant. Period. Palatability. Second, PowerPlant is specifically designed to be highly palatable to deer and stay that way—even after it establishes and matures. The key lies in the type of legumes included in the blend: they’re true “forage” varieties. Certainly deer will eat agricultural soybeans and can benefit from them nutritionally, but like a race car you’ll be able to push antler growth as high as possible if you provide your bucks with a forage specifically designed for the unique needs of deer. The forage-type legumes in PowerPlant (soybeans, Lablab and peas) are quite different from their agricultural cousins. At PowerPlant’s heart is a forage soybean, which is superior to agricultural-type soybeans in a number of ways when used as a deer forage. For example, unlike agricultural soybeans, which grow a trunk that becomes stemmy with lignin as it matures (making it much less palatable to deer), the forage

P L A NT I N G DAT E S

for Imperial PowerPlant™

POWERPLANT: PROTEIN RACING FUEL FOR ANTLER GROWTH If you want to get “full performance” from the antler-growing engine, then you’ve got to give your bucks the racing fuel it was designed for, and enough of it. When you’re racing to maximize the size of the antlers your bucks will be carrying next fall, fuel them with PowerPlant. It’s designed to 14

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

  

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.

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soybeans in PowerPlant grow as vines, which stay more tender and highly palatable to deer. Also unlike agricultural soybean varieties, once PowerPlant is established, it can regenerate as deer feed on it. The addition of small amounts of sorghum and sunflowers to PowerPlant maximizes the growth rate and foliage production of the vining legumes by allowing them to climb instead of running along the ground. As a result, PowerPlant grows into a thick “jungle” of succulent, protein-rich forage that deer will often bed in as well as prefer as a forage. Availability. Third, PowerPlant establishes and grows quickly, providing the huge amounts of protein bucks need during formation of the velvet antler and later to help maximize the size of their antlers. And PowerPlant is designed to keep on producing tons of high protein—even into the fall in most areas. FINAL POINTERS Order Early. Each year, the Whitetail Institute prepares its spring PowerPlant supply based on demand forecasts. Sometimes the Institute forecasts demand pretty well. In three out of the last four years, though, demand has exceeded expectations, and some customers who wanted PowerPlant but delayed ordering went without. So, be sure to order PowerPlant early. You’ll find early-ordering discounts here in Whitetail News (Page 62). Take advantage of them now. Planting Dates. The recommended planting window for PowerPlant in your area is shown on the back of the product bags. Planting maps are also available on-line at www.whitetailinstitute.com under the Products link. Be sure you wait to plant PowerPlant until soil temperatures reach a constant temperature, day and night, of at least 65 degrees. If you’re not sure when that is in your area, then contact your County Agent or a local farm-supply store to find out when farmers will be planting their agricultural soybean crops this spring. Then, plant your PowerPlant at the same

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time, or even a week or two later. Weed Control. Weed competition is rarely a problem with PowerPlant once it matures because by then its foliage is so thick that virtually no sunlight can reach the ground. Even in its early growth stages, PowerPlant usually grows quickly enough that weeds usually don’t present a significant problem. If you plan to plant fallow ground that’s heavily infested with grass or other weeds, or you’re otherwise concerned that grass or other weeds may compete heavily with PowerPlant during its early growth stages, then you might consider including a Roundup-type herbicide into the planting instructions (available on the product bags and also at www.whitetailinstitute.com). Here’s how: Before spring green-up, add any lime recommended by your soil test (if a soil test isn’t available, then add one ton of lime per acre), and disk or till the lime into the top few inches of the seedbed. Then, wait until grass and weeds have emerged and are actively growing again. Once weeds are actively growing again, spray the site with a Roundup-type glyphosate herbicide solution. (Tip: Adding Surefire Seed Oil to the spray solution can help the herbicide work even better. Surefire is available from the Whitetail Institute.) After you spray, wait until both of the following have occurred before you plant: (A) at least two weeks have passed since you sprayed, and (B) soil temperatures have reached a constant temperature of at least 65 degrees (F). Once both have occurred, go ahead and fertilize and plant according to the Whitetail Institute’s published planting instructions. When you plant you’ll be disturbing the top inch or so of the seedbed to cover the PowerPlant seed with a light layer of loose soil. Even so, it’s highly unlikely that disturbing just the top inch or two of soil will bring enough dormant weed seed to the surface to compromise the performance of PowerPlant. Order your PowerPlant now, and give the bucks on your hunting ground the best opportunity to grow the biggest antlers they can. You’ll be glad you did next fall and winter. W

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By Sam Parrish Photos by Tes Randle Jolly

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eteorologists must not turkey hunt. Well, maybe some of them do, but not most. If they did, they’d surely lobby their respective state game agencies to ensure that spring turkey season opened when the weather was warm and comfortable. If you’ve turkey hunted much, you know that’s not always the case.

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I experienced that firsthand last spring, when Wisconsin’s second turkey period coincided with howling winds and sub-freezing temperatures. Although I didn’t enjoy dressing like I was on a late-season duck hunt, I was fairly optimistic. Sure, the birds would still be wadded up in large winter groups. Yes, they probably wouldn’t gobble much. And of course, I wouldn’t be able to sit for more than an hour or two without being miserable. However, a friend’s foresight had given me an ace in the hole: an early-season food source. EATING WHAT’S ON THEIR PLATE Many folks underestimate the importance of food for turkey hunting because turkeys aren’t very picky at the buffet. Just ask Lovett E. Williams Jr., one of America’s best-known turkey biologists. “Turkeys are among the most resourceful feeders, consuming hundreds of different kinds of insects, other small animals and plant parts, including almost everything that is edible and some things that are not,” Williams wrote in Wild Turkey Hunting and Management. At various times of year, turkeys prefer seeds, insects, grasses, leaves, waste grain, and hard and soft mast. Throughout much of spring, summer and fall, they have abundant food. However, as any wildlife farmer knows, natural chow can be scarce in late winter and early spring, so turkeys will seek out the best food sources in their home range. Often, the best options are logging roads, wildlife openings and food plots with the year’s first green shoots of vegetation. Turkeys use openings throughout the year, but when those openings represent the best food option early in spring, they can congregate there en masse. “Grasses and clovers are good plants to use in your wildlife openings and are especially important to wild turkeys,” according to the National Wild Turkey Federation. “They offer excellent foraging and brood habitat for adult wild turkeys and turkey poults. These plants can produce a large amount of seed, which benefit mature birds, and attract hordes of insects, the essential element of a young turkey's diet. Additionally, grasses and clovers help control erosion when planted on roads, logging decks and fallow fields. “With little maintenance, grasses and clovers planted together will provide several years’ worth of high-quality habitat for wild turkeys and other wildlife.” That’s what my friend had figured the previous year, when he planted several food plots specifically for turkeys. The plots double as great white-

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tail habitat, of course, but he locates them in areas where early-season birds will use them heavily. “Well-managed feeding cover should be located near favored seasonal roosts,” Williams wrote. “Aldo Leopold called this juxtaposition — an exercise in geometry.” CAMPING OUT AT THE FOOD

THE REALISM OF A “STUFFER” WITH THE PORTABILITY OF A TRADITIONAL DECOY

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.

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The food plot I’d chosen to hunt opening day was tucked neatly beneath a massive hardwood ridge and was bordered on the other side by a creek. Several large winter flocks had roosted in the tall oaks and hickories much of the winter, and based on the tracks and scratching in the food plot, they’d found a favorite early-spring food source. And with winter-like weather entrenched over Wisconsin, I figured an easy early-season food source would attract hens — and that a gobbler or two might follow. I didn’t hear any roost gobbling that morning, but I’d counted on that. Actually, that made my decision to camp out at the food plot even easier. It made little sense to move and try to locate a turkey in the open April woods if they weren’t talking. An hour passed with no action, and I started to long for the warmer days of late spring turkey hunting. Just as I was about to shift my weight and get some blood back in my toes, a blue head popped up from the creek bottom on the other side of the plot. Several more followed. “Hens,” I thought. “No longbeard, though. I wonder where he’s at.” An ear-splitting gobble from farther up the creek bottom provided my answer. He was following the hens to the field. I dared not move with the hen flock so close. The birds pecked at the green shoots in the plot and slowly filtered past me onto the open hardwood ridge. After they had disappeared from sight, however, the gobbler still hadn’t showed, so I clucked and purred lightly on my slate. Sure enough, drumming filled the air, and I looked up to see the bird slowly walking and strutting into the food plot, following the path the hens had taken. I slowly shifted my gun to the left and counted down the distance until he was at 40 steps. Then, I squeezed the trigger and dropped the gobbler in his tracks. CONCLUSION As I picked up the long-spurred gobbler, I thought about the simplicity of the hunt. Sure, it hadn’t been a classic morning full of gobbling action, but the quiet wait had been well worth it. When conditions aren’t ideal, turkey hunters must adapt, and food plots give a great early-season fallback plan. I hope my buddy puts that plot in again this year. In fact, I think I’ll help him do it. W

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

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By Wilson Scott Photos by Brad Herndon

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hitetail Institute forage

products are considered by experts to be the gold standard of the food plot industry. The reason is product quality and much has been written in these pages about the Institute’s exhaustive product development, real-world testing and product preparation. You might not have realized, though, that the Institute’s commitment to product quality extends even to its planting-date recommendations and planting instructions, so don’t cut corners with either. In this article, we’ll explain why it’s so important that you not depart from the Whitetail Institute’s recommended planting process, including our recommended planting dates and published planting instructions. www.whitetailinstitute.com

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FORAGE SELECTION The key to getting optimum performance from your forage planting begins with our first “don’t skip” step: Make sure you select the right Whitetail Institute forage product for each site. Factors that should affect your choice include physical characteristics of the site and whether you want the forage to perform year-round, for one fall and winter, or for one spring and summer. Each of these factors can vary from plot to plot, and you’ll need to consider them all to select the correct forage for each site. Physical factors include rainfall, soil type and slope, equipment accessibility and sunlight. Let’s take soil type and slope as an example. Many Whitetail Institute forage products perform well in similar soil types and slopes, but there is a limit. Consider Imperial Whitetail Clover and Imperial Whitetail Extreme, which are at the opposite ends of the moisture-requirement spectrum. Imperial Whitetail Clover is designed for good soils that hold moisture, while Extreme is for good or lighter soils as long as the site is well drained. Neither may perform as well as designed if it is planted in a plot with a soil type and slope that’s ideal for the other. Let’s take equipment access as another example. All Whitetail Institute perennials and most Whitetail Institute annuals should be planted in a seedbed that has been prepared with, among other things, ground tillage. If your site isn’t equipment-accessible, then your seedbed-preparation efforts will be limited, and that can negatively affect the performance of Whitetail Institute perennials and most of its annuals. However, that doesn’t mean that you are out of luck. Rather, you just need to make sure you select No-Plow, BowStand or Secret Spot, which are high-quality forage products specifically designed to flourish with minimal ground preparation. In fact, no matter what planting situation you’re facing, with very few exceptions, the Whitetail Institute has a forage product specifically designed to meet your needs. It’s easy to determine which product to plant in each of your sites. Each Whitetail Institute forage product states the soil type it’s designed for right on the bag. An article to help you select the correct forage for each site is also available at www.whitetailinstitute.com under the “Products” link. And remember — if you still have questions, our highly knowledgeable in-house consultants are just a phone call away. PLANTING DATES Once you select the correct forage for each site, the next “don’t skip” step is to make sure you know when to plant it. Each Whitetail Institute forage product is designed to be planted within a specific window of dates during the spring, fall or both, and every Whitetail Institute forage product comes with its own planting date map right on the back of the bag. The same planting maps are also available on-line at www.whitetailinstitute.com. You can see an example on page 11 of this issue. HOW SHOULD I USE THE PLANTING-DATE MAPS? Let me assure you the Whitetail Institute went into considerable detail to set the planting dates for each product. If you were to compare the planting-date maps for several Whitetail Institute forage products, you’d notice that while the dates for planting certain products are the same for some areas, the maps for other products may have different sets of planting dates for different regions within the same state. Even so, weather patterns can vary a bit from one year to the next, and we know that our customers are more in tune with current weather patterns in their particular area than we can be. So, to use our planting maps to best advantage, plant not only within our published planting dates for the product you’ve selected, but plant once the ideal conditions arrive during those dates. With Whitetail Institute perennials, you can fudge a bit and plant a little 20

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

Applying fertilizer on pH neutral soil is essential. Otherwise, you may be wasting money.

before or after the arrival of ideal conditions (as long as you are still within the planting dates). Whitetail Institute perennials, for example, are coated with Rainbond, a proprietary polymer seed coating that actually absorbs up to 200 times its weight in water from the soil, and keeps it right next to the seed as it germinates and starts to grow. If conditions are dryer than ideal when the seed is planted, the coating can also help the seeds survive longer without rain than raw seed. With other products, though, you must wait until ideal conditions arrive (within our published planting dates) before you plant. An example is PowerPlant. Because PowerPlant contains summer forage legumes (soybeans, Lablab and forage peas), it should not be planted until soil temperatures reach a constant (day and night) temperature of at least 65 degrees. If you plant PowerPlant, or any summer bean or peas before that, there’s a good chance the planting will suffer. Beans and peas are among the most fragile of all seeds; if you plant them in cool, moist soil, they can rot in as little as one day, so be sure you don’t plant before soil temperatures have reached 65 degrees, regardless of whether you’d still be within our published planting dates if you planted earlier. PLANTING OUTSIDE OUR RECOMMENDED PLANTING DATES: POTENTIAL PROBLEMS If you plant outside our recommended planting dates, does that mean your forage planting will automatically fail? No, but the risk will certainly be elevated. One reason is that the forage roots may not mature in time to handle extreme weather and that’s just with normal weather patterns — how often in your area has hot/dry or cold weather arrived earlier than usual? When most seeds germinate, part of the seedling’s root system must develop before the growing plant appears above ground. Whitetail Institute perennials develop comparatively substantial root systems under-

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ground before they start to grow above ground in earnest, and planting too late in the spring can leave the forage too immature to handle the heat and drought of summer. Likewise, if you plant after our fall planting dates, you run an increased risk that the forage might not be able to handle a hard freeze that arrives early, or that the plants won’t be at their optimum when cold weather arrives. Sometimes, customers call to ask if it is okay to plant outside our published dates because the weather in the area “has been” mild. We point out that what’s important is not what the weather has been, but what it will be. It’s what’s coming that matters, and forecasting the weather is obviously an inexact science. So, rather than planting outside our dates, it is a better idea to wait to plant until your next planting window, and then use the interim time to do a good job of preparing the seedbed, i.e. liming, weed control, etc. PLANTING FALL ANNUALS IN SPRING Like all Whitetail Institute forage products, each fall annual is scientifically formulated with multiple forage components in specific ratios to complement each other, providing top performance from the planting during the seasons for which it is designed. If you plant them in the spring, the cool-season components may be damaged or killed by the hotter, dryer weather of late spring and summer. As is the case with the planting date maps, planting instructions for each Whitetail Institute forage product is printed right on the back of the product bag and are also available on-line at www.whitetailinstitute.com.

perspective in drafting planting instructions for our products. Everything we do at the Whitetail Institute is done with our field testers in mind, and we know that long, complex planting instructions are the last thing our customers want to deal with. We also believe that overly detailed instructions would actually be a disservice to our field testers. One reason is that customers who’ve been with us awhile already have a feel for the finer details. Another is that the questions that arise from folks new to food plotting are so broad that an all-inclusive set of instructions would take up the whole back of the product bag. To provide planting information in a way that will be the most useful to all our customers, we keep the published planting instructions for each product as short as possible. Then, we provide informational backups to the written instructions in several forms. These include immediate access to highly knowledgeable in-house consultants through our toll-free number, (800) 688-3030, during business hours, responsive emails that are informative and timely, and our DVD, Producing Trophy Whitetails, which we include with seed orders by customers who haven’t already received a copy. And unlike other companies who charge for “customer support,” the Whitetail Institute offers these services free to its customers. By structuring our planting instructions in this way, every field tester (whether experienced or new to food plots) has the basic information he needs in the published instructions, plus several avenues to get quick, knowledgeable information if he still has questions. The best way to approach planting instructions is to realize that every step in the instructions is important, or it wouldn’t be there. SOIL TESTING, SOIL PH AND LIME

WHY WHITETAIL INSTITUTE PLANTING INSTRUCTIONS ARE SO SHORT Don’t skip or cut corners with any step in the Whitetail Institute’s published planting and maintenance instructions. To see why, consider our

The planting instructions for all Whitetail Institute forage products (including the full-preparation instructions for No-Plow, BowStand and Secret Spot) advise you to get a laboratory soil test if at all possible. As an

W& W&24 &24E L((47).3,9443**2514>**F L((4 47).3, 7 9443**25144>**F 9-*431>4:9+.9>4:3**) 9-*431>4:99++. +.9>4:3**) 3 EE  E ;*7 Quality Control Specialist since 1997

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alternative, the instructions say to add one or two tons of lime per acre if no soil test is available. First, making sure that soil pH is neutral (between 6.5 and 7.0) is the single most important thing you can control to ensure that your planting will be successful. Most fallow soils have low, or “acidic” soil pH (below 6.5), and when those soils are planted without raising soil pH first, fertilizer is wasted because nutrients are bound up in the soil and inaccessible to the forage plants. As a ballpark, if you plant in a soil pH of 5.0, you’ll be wasting more than 50 percent of the fertilizer you put out. In monetary terms, that means that for every $100 spent on fertilizer, at least $50 will be wasted. The best way to make sure your soil pH is in the neutral range (and if not, then how much lime you need to add to the seedbed to raise it) is a laboratory soil test. High-quality laboratory soil tests are available for about $10 from the Whitetail Institute, agricultural universities and County Agents. Again, be sure you use a soil test kit that actually sends soil off to a qualified laboratory for testing — that’s the only way to be sure you’ll be adding exactly the amount of lime (and fertilizer) you need without wasting money on lime and/or fertilizer you really don’t need.

A soil test is an essential step for a properly managed food plot

SEEDBED FIRMNESS AND SMOOTHNESS (BEFORE SEEDING) Our next “don’t skip” step might be better described as a make-sureyou-understand step: Before you put out small seeds, make sure the seedbed has been smoothed to eliminate any cracks the seeds might fall into. That can be done with a cultipacker (roller) or a home-made drag made with a piece of chain-link fence with concrete blocks on top for added weight. Seedbed firmness and smoothness prior to seeding are very important for any forage requiring a prepared seedbed. Seeds are referred to as either “large seeds” or “small seeds,” and as you’d guess, that describes the seed’s physical size. For example, large seeds include oats and beans, which are much bigger than tiny clover, chicory and brassica seeds. The difference in size makes how you prepare the seedbed prior to seeding extremely important. Unlike a seedbed for larger seeds, which can generally be planted after disking or tilling provided the soil is not too clumpy, a seedbed must be thoroughly smoothed before planting small seeds. Small seeds must be planted on or very near the surface of the seedbed. If they fall into a crack or are otherwise buried more than about 1/4-inch or so, they won’t have enough energy for the seedling to push up to the surface, and they’ll die. Larger seeds should be covered by a relatively thin layer of loose soil. SEEDING RATES Try not to put out more seed than the Whitetail Institute recommends for the product you’ve selected. Whitetail Institute seeding rates have been calculated based on exhaustive research data at the Whitetail Institute’s Certified Research Stations as well as by Field Testers across North America to ensure that they are optimum for that specific product. Every Whitetail Institute forage product comes with the recommended seeding rate right on the package. Going substantially over our recommendations on seeding rates can actually cost you. You’ll be spending money to buy extra seed you really didn’t need — and in some cases it can even compromise the quality of your stand. As for stand quality, think about one square yard of your seedbed. Within that square yard, you have only so much room for forage plants to grow and fully mature their roots. If you crowd that space with too many forage plants, that can cause the plants to battle for root space. Very crowded situations, can cause the roots to be stunted and can result in lower drought resistance and smaller plants above ground. How to seed. A question our in-house consultants are often asked is, “The seed rate is so low — how do I put such a small amount of seed out on my whole plot?” To make sure you buy only the seed you need and to 22

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plant it to ensure broad, even coverage, we recommend using a shoulder spreader. First, set the gap in the spreader to the correct size opening. The highquality Earthway shoulder spreaders available from the Whitetail Institute actually have a chart on them that shows what setting to use for different sizes of seed. For other shoulder spreaders, set the gap by eye — specifically try to set it so that it looks like there’s no way enough seed will come out. In short, if the gap looks a hair too narrow, then you’re likely right on the money. When your gap is set, put one-half the seed allotted for the plot into the bag. For example, let’s assume that you’ll be planting one acre of Imperial Whitetail Clover, for which the recommended seeding rate is 8 lbs. per acre. To start with, put only 4 lbs. of seed into the bag. Then, put that seed out walking north/south, and leaving 12 feet between each pass. Then, repeat, putting the other half of the seed out while walking east/west. That way you’ll have broad, even coverage with no gaps, and your forage plants will have room to grow. SHOULD YOU COVER THE SEED? Whether or not the seed should be covered and, if so, how, are additional “don’t skip” steps. Or, more accurately, they are “don’t fail to understand” steps. Here’s what you need to know in a nutshell: Large-Seed Products. PowerPlant, Pure Attraction and Whitetail Forage Oats Plus include large seeds. These should be covered by a thin layer of loose soil. Small-Seed Products: All other Whitetail Institute forage products are small-seed products. A. If you used a cultipacker (roller) to smooth and firm the seedbed before broadcasting your seed, then cultipack once more after seeding to press the seed down against the firmed surface of the seedbed. B. If you used a weighted drag-type implement to smooth the seedbed before broadcasting your seed, then do nothing further after you put the seed out. It will naturally settle right where it needs to be. Notice that in neither case are you “covering” small seeds.

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PERENNIAL-FORAGE MAINTENANCE Finally, don’t forget to follow the Whitetail Institute’s published maintenance instructions for Imperial perennial forage stands. The most important of these concern grass control and mowing. Grass Control. Since most grasses tend to survive and reproduce through their root systems, controlling them in food plots is usually best accomplished with a selective herbicide. The Whitetail Institute offers Arrest, a selective grass herbicide that can be sprayed to control grass in any Imperial perennial stand, and in any straight clover or alfalfa stand. The Institute also offers Slay, which is more a broadleaf-weed herbicide but which will control a few of the heavier sedge-type grasses. Slay can be sprayed on established (sufficiently mature that at least two of the trifoliate leaves have unfolded) Imperial Whitetail Clover, and on any other straight clover or alfalfa. Before deciding to use Arrest, Slay or any other herbicide it is imperative that you check the label to be sure that (A) the herbicide will control the grass or other weeds you’re facing and (B) do so without harming your forage plants. Mowing. If possible, try to mow established Imperial perennials a few times in the spring, and if you can, also in late summer or early fall (but, of course, not when the plants are stressed such as by excessive heat or drought). There are two reasons: First, mowing can help perennial forage plants remain even more lush, nutritious and attractive; much like pruning a bush, mowing forage plants can help them produce thicker foliage, and produce it at lower levels on the plant. Second, mowing before the forage plants have a chance to flower allows them to retain the substantial energy and nutrients that are expended when a plant flowers. Mowing can also help break the reseeding cycle of upright, annual weeds. Again, to get that benefit you need to mow before weeds flower. This is true of all Imperial perennial stands, except Extreme, which should be allowed to flower, and for the flower and its seeds to dry at least once a year before mowing. Mowing Extreme after it flowers and the flowers dry helps re-seed the stand, and mowing helps scatter the seeds very effectively. To know when to mow Extreme for reseeding, watch the flowers. They’ll turn lavender, and then brown. Once they’re brown and dry, mow the plot. For more information about these, or any other matter relating to Whitetail Institute products, food plots in general, contact the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants at (800) 6883030. W

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By Whitetail Institute Staff Photos by Whitetail Institute

O

nce hunting season is over, it can be easy to forget about our perennial food plots. If possible, try to avoid that temptation because controlling grass and weeds in perennial forage stands is important, simple, and pays off in a wide range of ways, especially for the next hunting season and for years to come. The Whitetail Institute’s Arrest and Slay herbicides are excellent tools in any weed-control arsenal, and they’re specifically designed with food plots in mind. 24

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WHY SPRAY PERENNIALS FOR GRASS AND WEEDS? The answer is simple: we need to spray perennials for the same reason we change the oil in our cars — maintenance is easy, but necessary if we want our food plots to last as long as they were designed to last. And like car maintenance, there are two big reasons to keep grass and weeds in our food plots under control; because it maximizes performance, and it saves us money in the long run. Nutritionally speaking, spring and summer are extremely important times in the lives of deer. That’s when bucks are growing antlers, and does are pregnant and, later, producing milk for their newborn fawns. Each of these processes takes huge amounts of nutrients, especially protein, and it takes high-performance forages to make sure they have all the

protein they need. Whitetail Institute perennials are, in fact, high-performance forages. They’re designed to provide huge amounts of protein and remain highly palatable. If you want your perennials to remain as lush, nutritious and attractive as they’re designed to be, though, you’ll have to do your part, and that includes controlling grass and weeds. Also, just as keeping our cars maintained will save money in the long run, keeping weeds and grass in check can maximize the life of perennials. And that can really pay off. One of the main reasons for planting perennials in the first place is that they’re designed to last for multiple years from a single planting, which means you save the expense of having to replant every year. And be sure you understand — failing to control grass and weeds will shorten the life of your perennials just as not changing the oil in your car will shorten its life.

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“The number one priority in maintaining perennial food plots is controlling grass. If you don’t control grass in a timely manner, it can take over the plot in a hurry.” — Wiley C. Johnson, III, Ph.D. Of all the information Dr. Johnson hammered into our brains, none was as often-repeated as this one. If you want your perennials to last as long as they should, you must control grass and weeds. Arrest and Slay are excellent tools for keeping grass and weeds in check. If you’ve wondered whether they are right for your particular planting situation, this article should give you the information you need. INTEGRATED WEED MANAGEMENT “When maintaining perennial forage stands, herbicides should be considered as one tool within an overall weed-control plan. The overall plan should be integrated, meaning that it should include cultural, physical (or mechanical) and chemical weed control measures as appropriate to the forage being maintained and the weeds you want to control.” — W. Carroll Johnson, III, Ph.D. Whitetail Institute Weed and Herbicide Scientist

As we get started, realize that no herbicide is going to be the answer to every weed and grass problem. Instead, as Dr. Johnson advises, herbicides should be considered one tool within an “integrated” plan to control weeds by attacking them from as many different angles as appropriate in the situation. “Cultural” weed control means keeping the forage itself in good shape — healthy, and vigorously growing, making it harder for weeds to compete. “Physical (or mechanical” weed control means taking physical action against weeds, for instance by mowing them or pulling them up by hand. “Chemical” weed control, of course, means herbicides. When it comes to formulating an integrated weed-control plan, each situation will be different. That’s why Dr. Johnson said “… as appropriate to the forage being maintained and the weeds you want to control.” In some cases, a weed-control plan may include all three measures — cultural, physical and chemical. In others, only two or even just one may be the optimum approach. Below, we’ll explain how to determine whether a herbicide is appropriate for your intended use and, if so, how to mix the spray solution and apply it correctly. We’ll start with a few preliminaries you’ll need to know.

GENERAL HERBICIDE INFORMATION Herbicides are chemicals that “control” (kill) weeds or “suppress” them (keep them at bay enough to minimize their negative effects in crops), and they are described as either “nonselective” or “selective.” Non-selective herbicides kill or damage any plant they enter. An example is glyphosate, the active ingredient in many Roundup brand herbicides and generic equivalents. “Selective” herbicides kill or damage some plants (weeds) without harming others (crops). Examples include the herbicides offered by the Whitetail Institute, Arrest and Slay. THE HERBICIDE LABEL IS YOUR BEST FRIEND The herbicide label is the only source of information concerning the selection and use of the herbicide that is absolutely certain to be correct. It would be hard to over-stress how important it is that you consult the herbicide label in all matters relating to the use of any herbicide. If you don’t follow the label information and instructions exactly, you may get no activity from the herbicide or even damage your forage plants — any number of results, and none of them are good. So again, read and follow all label instructions on any herbicide. The labels

Ensure the success of your food plots.

The Whitetail Institute 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 designed for clover and alfalfa. Both herbicides are extensively field-tested and can be easily applied by 4-wheeler or tractor sprayer. Easy and effective protection for your crop.

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TREATED

The Whitetail Institute

UN-TREATED

— 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043

Research = Results™

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Arrest and Slay are selected herbicides offered by the Whitetail Institute of North America and specifically designed for controlling grass and weeds in food plots.

will tell you whether or not the herbicide is appropriate for your intended use, how to mix the spray solution, apply it, and dispose of any leftover solution — everything you need to know about the herbicide. To get the information you need from the label in order to correctly decide whether or not to use it, you need to understand how the labels are set up. As we go through that, it might be helpful if you pull up the Arrest and Slay labels on your computer so that you can refer to them as you read along. The Arrest and Slay labels are available online at www.whitetailinstitute.com/ products/herbicides.html. SELECTIVE HERBICIDES FOR FORAGE MAINTENANCE The herbicides appropriate for maintaining existing forage stands are “selective” in that they are designed to control weeds without harming forage plants. However, no readily available herbicide is appropriate for use in controlling all types of weeds in all types of forage stands. Instead, as we’ll explain in more detail below, you have to first make sure that the selective herbicide you choose will (1) control the specific weeds you are facing, and (2) do so without harming the specific forage plants you’re maintaining. That’s because herbicides work by interfering with one or more critical parts of the weed’s life and/or reproductive process, and weeds survive and reproduce in many different ways. Also, different weed types may appear very similar but have very different life and reproductive processes. To make matters even more difficult, some weeds and forage plants live and reproduce in ways so similar that no readily available herbicide will control the weeds without harming the forage plants. If you’re confused by herbicides, don’t feel bad. You’re certainly not alone. You’d have to be a weed-and-herbicide scientist to understand all the technical details of exactly how each herbicide works. The good news is that you don’t have to understand all the technical details because that work has been done for you, and all you need to know is the comparatively simple, step-by-step process that has been set up for you to take advantage of it. Call 1-877-849-0767 or visit www.alabamablackbeltadventures.org

ARREST AND SLAY Arrest and Slay are selective herbicides offered by the Whitetail Institute

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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.

SHIP TO:

Name ________________________________________________________________

Address ______________________________________________________________

City _______________________________________State ______Zip _____________

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

and specifically designed for controlling grass and weeds in food plots. Arrest is designed to control most kinds of grass, and it is labeled for use in any Whitetail Institute perennial forage stand, any other straight clover or alfalfa. Slay is designed to control many kinds of broadleaf weeds and a few heavier grass types, and it can be used in established stands of Imperial Whitetail Clover, and any other straight clover or alfalfa. Both are within the family of herbicides referred to in the industry as “small-weed” herbicides, which are designed to provide optimum control of labeled grasses and weeds that are still in “seedling” stage (young — before roots have matured).

Credit Card # _______________________________________ Exp. Date __________

Signature _____________________________________________________________

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

SHOULD YOU USE ARREST AND/OR SLAY IN YOUR FORAGE STAND? Remember what we said earlier? Selective herbicides work by interfering with a grass or weed’s life or reproductive processes, and although two types of grass or other weeds may look very similar, their life and reproductive processes may be quite different. That’s why herbicide labels are specific as to grass and weed type — the information the label gives for different types of grass and weeds is not the same. Step 1. When deciding whether Arrest and/or Slay is right for your situation, your first step is to specifically identify the grass or other weed you’re facing. For example, identifying an unwanted plant as “grass” isn’t enough; you have to identify it more specifically as “Johnsongrass” or “Orchardgrass” or “Crabgrass”, etc. If you’re not sure exactly what a grass or other weed is, you can usually get it identified easily and quickly by your County Agent. Alternatively, you can e-mail detailed, close-up digital photos of the top of the weed, its stem and foliage, and its roots to the Whitetail Institute. When preparing photos, make sure you take them against a white background such as an old pillowcase or bed sheet, and again, make sure the photos are clear and detailed. Step 2. Specifically identify the forage plants you want to maintain in your food plot. If you’ll be maintaining a Whitetail Institute forage, this step is quick and easy. As we said earlier, Arrest is safe to spray (as directed by the label) in any Whitetail Institute perennial forage stand. Slay is safe to spray in stands of Imperial Whitetail Clover that are “established” (meaning that newly planted clovers must have grown to a height of three inches and have all their leaves unfolded before you can safely spray them with www.whitetailinstitute.com

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the Slay solution). For other forages, specifically identify the forage plants just as you did the grass or weeds in Step 1, and consult the herbicide labels. HOW TO MIX THE ARREST OR SLAY SOLUTION If you’re to this stage, then you’ve already gone through Step 1 and found that the label on the herbicide you’re going to use says that the herbicide (1) will control or suppress the grass or weeds you’re facing, and (2) do so without harming your forage plants when used according to the label’s instructions. MIXING INSTRUCTIONS GENERALLY On the herbicide label, look next to the name of the grass or weed you’re trying to control. There, you’ll find a chart telling you exactly how much water and herbicide to use for each specific grass or weed type, and whether that rate needs to change if the grass or weed is older than seedling stage. On the Slay label, you’ll also see that adding a surfactant or agricultural oil into the spray tank at the time you mix the Slay solution is required for Slay to work. The Whitetail Institute recommends Surefire Seed Oil for this purpose. A great way to make sure you get the correct amounts of each component into the spray tank is to start by adding all the water specified except a gallon, then adding the specified amounts of herbicide and any adjuvants such as Surefire Seed Oil and/or ammonium sulfate, and then adding the last gallon of water.

Although Surefire Seed Oil is not required for Arrest to work, the Whitetail Institute strongly recommends adding an oil to the Arrest spray tank when dealing with perennial grasses.

SUREFIRE SEED OIL (MANDATORY FOR SLAY, RECOMMENDED FOR ARREST) Again, the herbicide label will also tell you whether or not a surfactant or agricultural oil should be put into the tank with the herbicide and water when the spray solution is mixed, and the Slay label says a surfactant or agricultural oil is required for Slay to work. Although the Arrest label says that surfactants and oils are not required for Arrest to work, the Whitetail Institute strongly recommends adding an oil to the Arrest spray tank when dealing with perennial grasses, or grasses that have mature roots. In such cases, adding an oil to the Arrest spray solution can have a noticeable effect in increasing the action of the herbicide. The Whitetail Institute specifically designed Surefire Seed Oil for use with Arrest and Slay. Oils tend to make the herbicide solution much more active than surfactants do and also help the herbicide penetrate the plant’s leaf, and they can be either vegetable-seed-based or petroleum-based. Surefire Seed Oil is a vegetable-seed-based oil, 28

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and it also contains an anti-foaming agent to help the user properly mix the herbicide spray solution. AMMONIUM SULFATE (OPTIONAL FOR SLAY) The Slay label says that high nitrogen liquid fertilizers such as ammonium sulfate “may be applied” as part of the Slay spray solution. In other words, it’s okay to include them in the Slay spray tank, but not mandatory. The purpose for which such fertilizers are added to herbicide spray solutions is to combat the negative effects of hard water on a herbicide’s efficacy — to help buffer this effect and allow the solution to stay longer in a form that will provide optimum control. If you decide to add ammonium sulfate to the Slay spray tank, make sure it is “spray grade” so that it will flow through your sprayer nozzles without clogging them.

WHEN TO SPRAY ARREST AND SLAY “The main issue in deciding when to spray Arrest is how old the grass is — you need to spray it as soon as grass appears and starts to actively grow.” — Dr. Wiley C. Johnson, III, Ph.D. Dr. Johnson had a knack for breaking down instructions simply so that we could get the key information stuck in our brains. It may help, though, to explain a few of the key points behind his instruction. HERBICIDE UPTAKE Generally, most herbicides enter grass and weeds in two ways: “foliar uptake” (through the weed’s leaves), “root uptake” (into the weed’s roots), or both. Arrest is a foliar-uptake herbicide. Slay is a foliar-uptake and root-uptake herbicide.

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For a foliar-uptake herbicide like Arrest to enter a plant, the plant must be actively growing. Here’s a simple explanation of when grass is “actively growing” that anyone who regularly mows a lawn will readily understand. Think about early spring when you see your lawn taking on a slight green tint. At that point, your lawn is waking up, but it is not yet “actively growing” for our purposes. Next, think about a few weeks later when you see the grass getting taller and wonder if your lawn mower is going to start. Now, the grass is “actively growing” — the grass is getting taller, and doing so quickly. Other factors that may affect active growth are seasons, excessive heat, drought, and mowing. The same is true of the foliar-uptake aspect of Slay. It allows Slay to control weeds that are actively growing, and its root-uptake aspect allows it to keep controlling new weeds that sprout from dormant seeds after you spray. FORAGE ESTABLISHMENT Arrest can be sprayed on any Imperial perennial no matter how young it is. With Slay, though, you need to wait for newly planted plots to get going before you spray. Specifically, the Slay label says that newly planted clover or alfalfa should not be sprayed until at least the “second trifoliate stage” (until after the new clovers grow to at least three inches and have all their three leaves unfolded). OPTIMUM CONTROL OF YOUNG WEEDS Like most herbicides, Arrest and Slay control young weeds better than mature weeds. For optimum control, try to spray Arrest and/or Slay while actively growing grasses and weeds are still young — as a rough ballpark, before they grow to a height or length of about 6-12 inches. SAFETY FIRST All herbicide labels provide solid advice about the importance of wearing protective clothing when handling and applying herbicides. The most basic important items include chemical-resistant gloves, eye protection, long-sleeve shirt, long pants, and boots. Even though Arrest and Slay are among some of the least toxic herbicides, be sure to follow the label’s advice about protective gear — they’re on the label for a reason. Often, the food plots we spray aren’t near a potable water source, so remember to bring along what you need anytime you’ll be spraying your food plots. Whenever Dr. Carroll Johnson applies herbicides, he carries a “possibles bag” that includes several gallons of potable water for clean-up, and emergency bathing in the event of a spill or exposure due to a ruptured spray line, as well as soap, household ammonia, an eye-flushing kit, and extra personal protective clothing. Dr. Johnson considers ammonia “indispensable when using a sprayer of any type.” Mix one quart of ammonia per 25 gallons of water and flush the sprayer with the mixture to clean the sprayer, ensure optimum sprayer performance, and minimize the risk of herbicide contamination that might injure desirable plants on a subsequent spray trip. FINAL THOUGHTS Hopefully, this article has helped clear up any confusion you may have had about herbicide use in maintaining existing forage stands. Again, the herbicide label is the only official source of information about Arrest, Slay or any other herbicide. The Arrest and Slay labels and an FAQ are available on the Whitetail Institute’s website at www.whitetailinstitute.com/products/herbicides.html. And remember, if you still have questions after reading the Arrest or Slay label, call the Whitetail Institute for advice before you spray. W

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Robert Ellis — Georgia I use Cutting Edge mineral in spring and summer during the antler growing season and fawning season. The county I hunt in Macon County, Ga., has been a number one trophy county in Georgia for many years. There are some very good genetics in the herd. These good genetics and Whitetail Institute products helped produce the nice 160-class buck I took this past Oct. 17. This buck was the most frequent mature buck at my mineral site for the last three years from the time I first saw him on camera when he was a three-year-old until this year at five years old. Whitetail Institute products work for me and I will continue to use them.

Mike Meisberger — Indiana We started using Whitetail Institute products about six years ago and have been extremely happy with the results. On our 150-acre farm in Indiana we have approximately six acres of food plots. The majority are in Imperial Whitetail Clover (approx. four acres), the remaining two acres are a mix of Alfa-Rack, Extreme and Winter-Greens. Deer use the plots year round, and they are a magnet for deer activity. Not only do we see more deer, but body weights and bucks’ antler size are getting better each year. The photo attached shows my last four bucks killed. All on or

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near Whitetail Institute food plots on our property. We have tried several different seed companies and varieties but none seem to have the attractiveness of Whitetail Institute products. Thank you for the products Whitetail Institute and we look forward to using them in the future.

Steve Forrest — Maine We own a 50-acre woodlot in rural Maine. It’s overgrown farmland with 60-plus-year-old second growth mixed stands of mature pine, maple, oak etc. Other than acorns, there is not a lot to attract deer from the surrounding properties. Hunting during the past 10 years had really gone downhill. A friend had been planting food plots with good results and recommended Whitetail Institute’s Imperial Whitetail Clover. Two years ago, we cleared two half-acre plots. The results from the soil samples I sent in to the Whitetail Institute’s soil testing lab were quickly returned with instructions for the proper amounts of lime and fertilizer to apply. We prepared as instructed and planted Imperial Clover. The land was extremely acidic, so the first year before the lime completely kicked-in, the clover came a little slow, but the deer still hit the clover that grew. The next year the plots filled in thick and green. It was impressive. And boy did the deer love it. We have trail cams set up, and filmed six bucks, along with the does and fawns, which feed daily on the plots. This year, we cleared five acres and planted four in Imperial Whitetail Clover and one in Pure Attraction. The deer are here to stay. As I write this letter we have 18 inches of snow covering the ground, and the food plots look like sheep pens. Soon after the first frosts, they started eating the oats and brassica in the Pure Attraction and are still digging through all that snow to get at the clover. This past November rifle season my 16-year-

old son shot this 140-inch buck in the first half acre clover plot we planted the year before. I’m not sure if he or I was more excited. It surely was rewarding to take such a nice animal from our land. The buck weighed 202 pounds field dressed, and his shoulder mount will grace our home to remind us of that special morning. Before we started planting Whitetail Institute products I was becoming discouraged with the hunting on our land but now I’m obsessed with the plots and watching the results. Good food and cover is the key to having deer in an area. It’s only been two years now, but I can already see the results, and it can only get better. Thanks to Whitetail Institute and its products.

Phil Roberts — Michigan

No doubt about it, any Whitetail Institute product will increase deer activity. Any hunter who uses trail cams should be using these products. However, they may have to get a bigger memory card because of all the pictures! I hunt in Michigan, and it’s no secret that for a buck to live to be a mature trophy in this state, he has to be extra smart and cautious. I bowhunt extremely hard and I use Whitetail Institute products on a couple pieces of property to increase the odds. I have been fortunate to harvest six trophies in the last three years all with a bow. Regardless of harvesting deer, it is just an excellent way to improve the habitat for whitetail deer in any area. And after all the satisfaction

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This Kansas buck scored right at 190 inches and was shot near an Imperial Whitetail Clover plot. The food plots have been very good to us. We shoot at least two bucks and two does every year, and they keep getting bigger. Thanks Whitetail Institute for all your help and advice.

Michael Unser — Illinois

that magnificent animal brings to outdoor enthusiasts why not give back to it. It’s my way of saying thank you.

Dennis Terry — Arkansas

in producing quality forages and give them much of the credit in helping my deer achieve their genetic potential.

Bob Jekel — Missouri

I have been using Imperial Whitetail Clover for more than 10 years. I currently maintain four separate plots. The first year I planted I was amazed at the amount of time the deer spent in the plot. I began planting the clover on another lease about four years ago and was delighted by how the turkeys also used the plots during spring. I’ve gotten many videos of birds on the plot. I’ve tried a lot of things during the past 30 years, and nothing pulls the deer and turkey in like Imperial Whitetail Clover. The picture is of a 12-point taken on an Imperial Whitetail Clover plot. Great product!

I tried several types of clover such as red, sweet and ladino, but the deer preferred Imperial Whitetail Clover. After the third year of Imperial Whitetail Clover, grass started showing, so we used Arrest, and it worked great. Our deer herd has doubled with noticeable heavy-bodied bucks.

Lee Schmidt — Kansas

Tom Vig — Minnesota I raise whitetail deer and have used products from the Whitetail Institute as a means of ensuring the best quality forage for my deer. For the past seven years, my deer have benefited greatly from highly nutritious forages including Imperial Whitetail Clover, Chicory Plus and Alfa-Rack Plus. I thank Whitetail Institute for its dedication www.whitetailinstitute.com

I have been using Whitetail Institute products for several years now and swear by them. The quality of deer on our food plots has increased since using these products. The average body weight has increased considerably in bucks and does. The core of my food plots is Imperial Clover, and I plant Winter-Greens or Extreme around the edges. This year, we have already harvested four nice bucks off of these food plots, two during the Illinois youth season. My 12-yearold cousin Jamie harvested his first buck ever, a nice 8-pointer and my 14-year-old son Craig harvested a nice buck with 13 total points and a body weight of 190 pounds that was feeding in an Extreme food plot. Then during the first gun season, Jamie’s dad, Mark, who was deer hunting for the first time ever, harvested a nice 11-pointer that tipped the scales at 208 pounds. Then to top off an already great season Jamie the next day harvested his second buck of the year; very nice 9-pointer. All of these deer were harvested in Whitetail Institute food plots. Then on the final afternoon of Illinois’ shotgun season, my

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By Tracy Breen Photos by the Author

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ong before husband and wife bow-hunting teams were part of the outdoor TV landscape and long before there were outdoor programs dedicated to getting women involved in the outdoors, Janice Maxfield was bowhunting. Janice fell in love with the sport when her boyfriend and future husband Joel Maxfield, introduced her to the sport.

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“I grew up in a family that enjoyed the outdoors,” says Janice Maxfield. “As a child, I fished with my brothers but it wasn’t until I met Joel that I got into bow-hunting. We weren’t dating long before I realized if I wanted to spend time with him, I better take up bow-hunting because that was what he spent all of his time doing.” Things haven’t changed much in the last 20 years. Both Janice and Joel work for Mathews Archery. Janice is the new accounts manager, and Joel is the vice president of marketing. Since they work for Mathews, they probably get to hunt more than the average person. Even though Janice has been able to bow-hunt big game across the country, one of her favorite bow-hunting memories is when she tagged her first doe more than 20 years ago. Janice recalled, “Joel and I often hunt near each other but not in the same stand. That was the case on this particular hunt. I was in the stand by myself and he was hunting another area. We were dating; I was 18 years old. When Joel pulled up to pick me up after hunting, I was already down from my stand waiting for him. He assumed I got cold and quit hunting. When he found out that I had shot a deer, he was so excited. He picked me up, hugged me, and twirled me around in a circle.” Years have passed since Janice killed that first doe. Through the years, her passion for bow-hunting has grown. Janice and Joel have as much passion for bowhunting as anyone I have ever seen. Having spent some time with both of them, I can tell you that Janice is as hardcore as any bow-hunter you will find in the woods. “I love bow-hunting and the sport of archery. I think shooting a bow and bowhunting are fun” she said. “I like being in the woods and enjoying the solitude that comes with it. I like the fact that bow-hunting season is long so I don’t feel rushed like I do when I’m gun hunting and there are only a few days to fill my tag. I also like being able to travel to different states to bow-hunt. Since the bow seasons are so long in most states, there is plenty of time in the fall to travel around and hunt.” Janice gives a lot of credit to Joel for all he does to prepare them for the fall season.

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“Joel loves bow-hunting and preparing for the hunt. He spends a lot of time scouting and hanging the stands which makes it easier for me,” Janice explained. According to Joel, he helps but he doesn’t have to hold her hand. “Janice has been bow-hunting a long time and doesn’t really need my help. I spend a lot of time on the road in the fall and she goes out on her own and bow-hunts,” Joel said. “After all these years, one of the things that amazes me about Janice is her unique style of bowhunting. There are times she calls me and tells me she shot a buck. I start asking her questions about the shot or where she is hunting. When she explains herself, I think to myself, ‘I don’t think I ever would have done it that way, but wow! Great thinking.’ She just has a way of getting the job done.” Long before Mathews Archery, Joel co-owned an archery pro shop and Joel and Janice participated in a local archery league. Janice says that is where she fine-tuned her archery skills. “Joel has always been a great teacher but the local archery league we participated in years ago had a few women that were shooting in the league. Many of them took me under their wing and gave me a woman’s perspective on archery and bow-hunting. I think that really helped me when I was younger,” Janice noted. One thing is certain: Janice, like many bowhunting fanatics, has taken her fair share of trophy bucks and is calm and collected in the process. “I don’t often score the bucks I take. That isn’t the most important thing to me. I have taken bucks as big as 150 and like most hunters, I have

to work very hard for the bucks I get. Many of the deer I have taken, I shot on the last day of the hunt or even the last half-hour of a hunt,” she said. “I am very patient and can wait if I have to. If you want to kill big bucks, you have to let the smaller bucks pass by and wait for the big ones. I think I do a good job at that.” There is no question that women, in general, are more patient than men ... and that is also true in the woods. Janice and Joel have a son, Andy. Just like his mom and dad, Andy caught the bow-hunting bug. “One great thing about our family is we can go on hunts together. Joel spends a lot of time on the road hunting in the fall,” Janice said. “Andy and I meet up with him every chance we get so we can hunt together as a family. Andy has taken a number of different animals with a bow including whitetails and bear. Recently Joel took him on a bison hunt and he got a bison with his bow. That was really cool!” Like all of us, Janice has a few deer hunting stories that stick out in her mind that she will always remember. “A few years ago, my parents died a few months apart. My dad died in August and my mom died in December. I killed one of my biggest bucks that year in November before my mom died. My dad had just passed away and I didn’t feel like going on a hunt, but I went anyway. I tagged my buck on the first day of my hunt in Kansas. Joel and our son, Andy, were there so it was very memorable as a family. I rarely tag out on the first day so it was very special. It was like my dad was there with me. Joel filmed the hunt, which made it special because

Janice Maxfield, Joel, her husband, and Andy, their son, enjoy time afield as a family.

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we rarely hunt side by side. Usually someone else is filming my hunts. I have now taken several bucks out of that stand.” Janice recently took a mule deer buck at almost 60 yards. That hunt was also very memorable. “I have spent most of my time hunting whitetails so going out West to hunt mule deer was fun. Spot-and-stalk hunting is a lot different from sitting in a tree stand. We had a few blown opportunities during those six days before I actually scored, but in the end, I got a nice buck and had a great time,” she said. Joel, Janice and now Andy have become familiar faces on Mathews TV, a show hosted by Dave Watson on the Outdoor Channel. Being on film has added a different dynamic to bowhunting for Janice. “Being on film can be tough,” Janice said with a laugh. “Sometimes when I am being filmed I have to pass on shots I would usually take because the camera man doesn’t have a good view of the buck. Other times we have to quit early because of low light. Filming for TV isn’t always fun, but I will say it can be fun to look back at footage and relive a certain hunt. It takes away from the solitude a bit but over the last few years of being filmed, I am getting used to it and am fine with being on film now.” When Janice started bow-hunting, Joel set up a bow for her that was designed for a man. All the gear she used was tailored towards men. Times have changed and Janice believes that is a good thing. “When I got into bowhunting, there were some women in the sport but not many. Over the years, I have taken women under my wing and introduced them to the sport. It is much easier getting into the sport for women than it was 25 years ago. Now there are bows designed for women,” Janice said. “I think that is great and I always encourage women to get involved in archery and bow-hunting. It’s a great sport for the entire family.” In a day and age when so many bow-hunting folks want to be hunting celebrities and see their faces plastered all over television, it is refreshing to interview people like Janice and Joel. Both of them love bow-hunting, not fame. Janice is an accomplished bow-hunter who isn’t one to toot her own horn. In fact, she doesn’t talk much about her bow-hunting accomplishments unless others ask. The Maxfield family has built a life around the sport of bow-hunting and were just as passionate about bow-hunting before they worked for Mathews Archery. You might see Joel, Janice and Andy on TV but that is not what is important to them. Spending time together doing something they are passionate about is what is important to them. Bowhunting is one of those unique sports that can bring a family even closer together. It certainly has for Janice, Joel and Andy. W

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By Dean Weimer Photos by the Author

Planting food plots in spring is a superior option for hunters looking to offer up an established, attractive, and nutritional food source for their deer in the warm season and beyond. 36

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

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A

fter all, bucks in particular need to replenish lost reserves from their skeletal system and overall physiology as a result of the stress-heavy process of antler growth/calcification, in conjunction with the rigors of the primary rut, followed by the grueling winter months in the middle and upper latitudes of the northern hemisphere. Food sources, natural and agricultural, have been depleted at a time when deer need them most during the cold winter months. Does, too, are coming out of winter and are entering their most stressful period of the year, all the while carrying future members of the herd. Therefore, a highly nutritious food source that is available as early in the new season as possible is very important to help alleviate the problems mentioned above. There are many reasons why planting in spring is perhaps the best time, and in this article we’ll take a look at the top reasons to do so. Perhaps the best reason to plant food plots in spring, especially those warm-season varieties of legumes like Imperial Whitetail Clover, Imperial Alfa-Rack, and others, is because that period leading into spring is tailor-made for plot preparation.

To be sure, weeds and grasses can be an issue, at least to a certain extent, but killing many of them early on can help tremendously.

PREPARATION

deer season is the power of the

The window for establishing a quality base for your plots is much longer in the early season than it is at any other time of the year. Later on extremely dry conditions can be a food plot killer. We’ll touch more on this further on. In late winter, weeds, grasses and other types of food plot forage competition are still in their dormancy, and this is a great time to till up the soil and begin the process of addressing the needs of your soil. This can be done in the northern latitudes as soon as your soil is thawed and dry enough to get your machinery in your fields. The sooner you can get your lime in the soil the better. This is why getting your soil samples in as soon as possible is so important. Planning your lime and fertilizer purchases ahead of time is also extremely helpful. Another advantage early preparation has is that dormant weed seeds can be stirred up into the topsoil to allow them to germinate and begin growing prior to the actual planting of the food plot seed. That way you can stop many broadleaves and grass plants as you can spray them just before the planting of the preferred species. Or, if you’d rather, you could simply continue to disc your plot several times, effectively minimizing competition without chemicals in the weeks prior to planting. This can greatly aid the control of such plants later on in the growing season when rain and the sun’s more direct rays can be focused on your food plot plants, and not their competition. www.whitetailinstitute.com

TESTING. ONE, TWO, THREE Arguably, the best time to soil test is at least several weeks before the planting of your chosen food plot species. Soil tests can even be taken in late winter when the ground is still cold, and even a bit wet. You don’t want to send mud in for a soil test, but a little moisture in the sample isn’t going to hurt anything. Interestingly enough, it is the extremely dry samples that can actually cause more false test information than wet ones. This past spring I sent a soil test into the Whitetail Institute in March. It was cold the day I drew the sample and the plants were still

“A benefit of establishing a quality food plot several months ahead of

planting to draw deer to your property. The amount of nutritious forage that a properly maintained plot can provide to a deer herd can’t be overstated.” brown. I put the sample on a piece of plastic in my garage for a few days and let it air dry before I sent it in. Getting the lacking nutrients and lime mixed into the sub-surface soil is also critical for plants that will be rooting down into this zone in the coming months, thus benefiting plant and deer alike. It amazes me how many well-meaning food plot enthusiasts skip these vital steps prior to starting their new, springtime plantings. Skipping these early steps is like a serious fishermen buying the best rods, reels, line, and top-dollar fishing lures only to buy the cheapest snap swivels you can find. If you’re serious about improving your forage and overall habitat for your deer, and are willing

to spend good, hard-earned money on Whitetail Institute’s quality seeds, then you owe it to yourself and the deer you’re hunting, to skip no steps in the entire process. It’s definitely worth the extra time, money, and effort. STARTING FRESH All the ingredients are starting to come together for the ultimate springtime food plot, and so far we’ve discussed the proper steps to take while waiting on the proper planting timeframe. While waiting on the planting date it is very important to get the freshest Whitetail Institute seed that you possibly can. Make sure you buy seed that has a current test date on the bag. If you find an untagged bag then it’s best to steer clear of it. And it’s not just the seed that needs to be ultra-fresh. You also want to make sure those seeds have the freshest coatings. All Whitetail Institute legumes are pre-inoculated with microbial Rhizobium bacteria so that germination is maximized, and later on to help produce maximum amounts of nitrogen for themselves. The fresher that inoculant, the better off your individual plants in your plot will be. Recently the Institute has begun to also add Rainbond to all their coated seeds. Rainbond holds 200 times its weight in water around the seed to improve seedling survival and reduce false germination from lack of moisture. This is just another aid in helping the survival of all your plants, which will only help those food plots in the future. Perhaps the best time to plant a legume like Imperial Clover in my part of Indiana is from about the beginning of April to mid-May. In fact, this is a good timeframe to plant your new plots in many areas of the middle latitudes. In my neck of the woods a springtime frost isn’t out of the question in early to mid-April, but clover seed is very hardy and will withstand some colder temperatures. If you live in more southerly latitudes be sure to read the optimum dates for planting your plots on the labels of your products. There is a window for planting for each of the Institute’s products that is specific for each region, or state/province. What I like to do is have the fresh seed ready to plant, and when all of the other steps have been taken care of I’ll be ready to go sometime inside of this important window of planting. Make sure that you are planting as early as possible within the planting window suggested on your seed package. MAKE YOUR BED It’s an old cliché: “Make your own bed, and lie in it too.” OK, so we aren’t discussing human behavior here so much. But, it’s super important to prepare your seed bed correctly to get the

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Vol. 21, No. 3 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

37


most out of all the work you’ll be doing up to this point in time. After you’ve disked the seed bed several times, and/or sprayed it with a glyphosate-type herbicide, it’s now time to prepare that bed for your seeds. This is another area in which many well-meaning food plotters can make or break their efforts. When you are completely ready to put the seed out, it’s time to get the dirt ready one last time before the actual seed broadcasting. A cultipacker is really key in this instance. You can get away with using some type of homemade drag, but if you can borrow, or rent a cultipacker you’ll be better off in the long run. Before planting the first seed, you should cultipack the plot. Get that plot bed firm and uniform for your best results. After this you are ready to broadcast the seed. I’ve found that a hand spreader works best on plots about an acre, or smaller. These plots are small enough and you can pinpoint your broadcasting efforts more easily. For larger plots a pull-behind, ATV-mounted, or other type broadcaster might save you some legwork. It’s critical to follow Whitetail Institute’s recommended per-acre seeding rates. When your seed has been planted it’s time to cultipack it one more time. Once that is finished you’re ready for Mom Nature to do her part.

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RAIN ON ME Generally, spring offers the right amounts of rainfall to get a new food plot up and going properly. Having your particular field ready to go when the season’s first rains begin to harbor in spring’s new growth is critical to getting your plot in as good a shape as can be expected before going into the summer’s dry period. Taking all of the necessary steps ahead of the rains of April, May, and also June will no doubt put the finishing touches on the perfect food plot. Getting Imperial Clover to root down effectively before summer's dry spell is key in getting the plot to become as drought tolerant as it is designed to be. After your new plot starts to grow, and the deer start to devour your offerings, you will finally understand what all the hard work was for. And believe me, those deer will come and eat this new, nutritious food item that hasn’t been available to them before. ADDED BENEFITS Another benefit of establishing a quality food plot several months ahead of deer season is the power of the planting to draw deer to your particular property. My personal favorite reason to plant food plots is the sheer amount of nutritious forage that a properly maintained plot can

provide to a deer herd. This really can’t be overstated. It’s amazing to me how much a food plot that offers up something different to an area’s deer can really bring them to your property and keep them there more of the time. For me personally, it is very rewarding to give back to the animals I hunt, and it is aesthetically pleasing to actually see them eating from a food plot that I have painstakingly created for them. When you realize that your plot can also be utilized in a deer hunting strategy as well, it is just icing on the cake. SUMMING IT UP Spring is perhaps the best time to plant a new food plot throughout much of the whitetail’s range. With proper preparation, planning, and timing you will be well on your way to producing the ultimate plot. Paying attention to all the details in the steps to building an awesome food plot will go a long way in reaping the benefits that will come from the effort. Putting forth maximum effort and time will definitely help in your quest for the ultimate hunting on your slice of paradise. And it feels good to give back and ensure that your deer will have great nutrition for the next several years. W

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Bob Richardson — Illinois It wasn’t a coincidence that we saw “The Picket Fence Buck” that evening. Our trail camera photos showed the buck was using our WinterGreens food plot for several weeks. This typical giant pushing 200 inches Boone & Crockett had been visiting almost nightly with two smaller bucks. We set up that evening on a trail we knew the buck used to travel from his bedding area to the food plot. Like most mature bucks, his pattern was to stage in the woods until darkness then work his way into the Winter-Greens after dark. Food plots, and the bucks we hope to attract by using them, are serious business to us. Through hard work, determination and sticking to a game plan, we make our property more attractive to deer and also draw them from neighboring properties. With does filtering onto the property and plenty of food to go around, mature bucks usually aren’t far behind. For the past five years, we have planted Imperial Whitetail Clover, Winter-Greens and Chicory Plus. Our clover grows all year and is especially popular with the deer in the early season. The Winter-Greens don’t get much attention early, but they turn sweet after the first frost and deer hit them hard late in the season. This is my zone — late season, big Illinois bucks and Winter-Greens! For the past five years, I have killed my biggest bucks, and this past season was the icing on the cake. The Picket Fence Buck — he got his name from that wide palmated main beam with eight points on each side — the 8-inch-10-inch points stacked up on each side of his rack and lined up like a picket fence. A deer of a lifetime! A full season of hard work was about to come together. The big buck’s routine appetite was about to get him in trouble! With the light fading, my camera man gave me the signal — he was on the buck and rolling. With a deep breath I squeezed the trigger on my muzzleloader and knew the bullet hit home. When we walked up to him, The Picket Fence

Buck was every bit as stunning as we thought, with palmation on his main beams and a rough score of 200 inches. What a deer! Through meticulous planning, hard work and a little bit of good luck, I landed the buck of my life. And there is not a better feeling than putting a new, hard-earned trophy on the wall. Thanks Whitetail Institute for the food plot products that helped him grow his impressive antlers and bring him down the trail I was sitting on.

Terry Smith — Nova Scotia, Canada

Enclosed is a picture of my 11-point bow kill taken over an Imperial Whitetail Clover food plot. I have been using Whitetail Institute products for three years. I have 12 acres of food plots and I will continue to use Whitetail Institute products in all my food plots. I was watching this buck for two years and finally had the opportunity to get a shot at him at 31 yards. This is my largest bow kill ever. I have been seeing more deer, healthier deer and larger racks. This spring, we are implementing 30-06 Minerals as well for six sites on our property. The customer service from e-mails I’ve sent to Whitetail Institute or when I have called has been a great help, and it’s great to know that when you call, someone answers the phone and can answer your food plot questions. Keep up the great work Whitetail Institute.

spread across our farm. We have been practicing let them go, let them grow for eight years now. I harvested the buck in the photo on one of our food plots. We have seen more big bucks and more deer overall since using Whitetail Institute products. We have taken 8 big bucks to date. We had a fantastic season this past year. We harvested four bucks that ranged from 130 inches to 160 inches. Things are looking bright for the future as well. Great things do happen when you provide quality food plots and you don’t take small bucks. It will work if you can be patient. Shoot the does for meat and let the small bucks walk. Thanks Whitetail Institute for great products.

Chad Hardt — North Dakota Five years ago, I planted a brand of clover other than Imperial Whitetail Clover. It grew well,

Randall Roark — Indiana My hunting group and I are very blessed to hunt 742 acres in north-central Indiana. We have 10 to 12 acres of Whitetail Institute food plots planted. We also have four 30-06 Mineral licks 40

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

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but it wasn’t attracting deer like I had expected. The next year, I planted a small plot of Chic Magnet about 50 yards from the clover. I was very impressed to see that the Chic Magnet would be loaded with deer, while the clover was empty. So two years ago I planted a couple of acres of Imperial Whitetail Clover. After it was a couple of inches high I was getting pictures of deer in it, sometimes a half dozen in one picture. Since I have been planting Whitetail Institute products I have been getting trail cam pictures of nice bucks all summer and fall, not just during the rut. Also, the last two bucks I have shot were my first Pope & Young bucks scoring 134- and 148-inches. One of them was shot in the clover. This year I planted Tall Tine Tubers and five weeks later they were a foot high! Everything I have planted from Whitetail Institute has had excellent results. I will without a doubt be planting more Whitetail Institute products next year.

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a career and raising a family I had to put this passion on hold. Fast forward 30 years and there I was bidding on a 60-acre farm in north-eastern Ohio but living in southern Florida. I had located this area that I knew had good genetics for whitetails and was also in my price range. I purchased the property. It had 45 acres of woods and 15 acres of open land where food plots could be planted. After doing some research and talking with fellow hunters, I learned about the Whitetail Institute and its products. For the past five-plus years I have gradually improved the land by using Imperial Whitetail Clover, No-Plow and Chicory Plus. Living out-of-state makes planting successful food plots a challenge. However, Slay and Arrest herbicides have aided greatly with

Joseph Milenkovic — Ohio Several years ago, a childhood dream of mine came true! I have been an apprentice/junior hunter since the ripe old age of four. I have many early photographs of me standing next to one of the deer my Dad harvested in Woodstock, New York. By the time I reached my teen years my dad had harvested many nice bucks and also a 500-plus pound black bear. Being in the woods and watching my dad harvest all of these animals hooked me on hunting. With my fast paced life in New York, moving to Florida, starting

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weed control. I am very impressed with all of the Whitetail Institute products in addition to the simplicity of use. Being a “city boy,� this farming business is new to me. With the help of these products, my 60-acre farm has become my “horns of plenty� and the envy of my neighbors. To date (since I bought the farm five years ago), we have harvested 11 bucks, all being 8 points or more. Last year was our best so far. My Dad harvested a 10-point buck that scored higher than any buck he ever killed in his 50-plus years of hunting (photo 1). My brother also killed a 10point buck, and my 18-year-old son killed his first buck, a beautiful 8-point. The next generation of family hunters is well on his way, and I could not be more thrilled! I also harvested my biggest buck to date. It was a 10-point that grossed almost 159 inches (photo 2). It has matching splits on the G-2s that are 6 inches each and are attached to G-2’s that are almost 12 inches. That morning, I dropped off my brother at his stand and decided to hunt a new stand I had put up just below my largest food plot planted with Imperial Whitetail Clover. First light came and went with no movement. It was a beautiful morning but cold. On stand for nearly two hours, I decided to stand and stretch. While looking behind me I noticed a young 8-point sneaking through the brush at 30 yards. He walked beside my stand and I was admiring what a nice young deer he was when my eyes caught movement about 100 yards in front of my stand. As I glanced that way I saw a monster buck that I immediately knew was a shooter. He was watching this young 8-point walk in his direction. I glanced back to see where the 8-point was and then re-focused on the monster buck when I saw what I believed to be him walking in the opposite direction of my stand, and I lost sight of him. I immediately hit my grunt tube. All of the sudden I saw this massive rack stick up over a hill 50 yards in front of me. The buck walking away was a different buck. The big buck continued to walk in my direction, getting to within 15 yards. I let my arrow fly and was confident I had hit my mark. The buck sprinted up the hill behind my stand. I sent some text messages to my brother and a friend and told myself to give the buck some time. I lasted about 10 minutes and couldn’t take it any longer. I climbed down my tree and found my arrow. It was a clean pass-through, and the arrow was covered with sign indicating a good shot. I decided he could not have gone far so I started walking up the hill looking for him. After walking about 50 yards I was startled when I saw a deer begin running up the hill. As the deer crested the top of the hill where the food plot is located, I could see the massive rack silhouetted against the skyline. My stomach sank thinking I kicked up my

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

Weeds — the Great Thief of Food Plots

T

hirty-four years ago I took my first weed science class at Auburn University; AGY 434. I struggled — mightily. Yet, that class pointed me down the career path and eventually to my current vocation. The instructor was famous for multiple choice exams, with the answer choices ranging from A through M. A through E would be technical choices. F through M would be infuriating statements like A, B, and maybe D but never C. Students are highly vulnerable to intimidation, and I frequently lost sight of the fundamental weed science lessons being evaluated. One exam in particular dealt with losses that weeds cause. Although the questions were ridiculously nit-picky, the concepts being tested were actually very simple. This is certainly the case with weeds and the losses they cause in food plots. The point to this personal testimony is to encourage growers not to dwell on the "what-ifs" when making weed control decisions and focus on the simple concept that weeds are the great early-season thief of food plot productivity. EARLY-SEASON VULNERABILITY TO WEEDS To begin this discussion, consider the stage of food plot development when forages are most susceptible to losses from weeds — the establishment period. All forage species, particularly perennial legumes, are slow-growing as seedlings and vulnerable to weed competition. This vulnerability might be expressed as slower crop development and even stand reduction as weeds compete with forages for sunlight, water and soil nutrients. Refer to the data presented in Table 1. These trials were conducted in Pennsylvania, with the data presented being part of a larger data set. The abbreviated data set is a simple comparison of early-season alfalfa growth between plots with weedy volunteer oat controlled with sethoxydim (Arrest) and a non-treated control. Weed control meant more alfalfa leaflets, greater survival after seeding (pereniation), and greater overall forage yield compared to alfalfa with no weed control. This equates to more nutri-

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

tious forage to attract and sustain the deer herd when weeds are controlled early-season. This phenomenon was also studied by weed scientists with Oregon State University and USDA-ARS (Table 2). Newly seeded alfalfa was maintained weed-free with handweeding for varying periods the first 260 days after establishment. At the end of the 260-day period, above ground weed and alfalfa growth were collected. Obviously, the longer weeds are controlled in seedling alfalfa, the greater the alfalfa yield. Closer study of the data shows that the critical period of early-season weed control for maximum alfalfa yield was about 170 days after seeding — nearly six months. Weed control for 170 days after seeding alfalfa increased yield by 268 percent compared to alfalfa yield with no weed control. Using labor-intensive handweeding weed control in food plots is not practical and that is why we use selective herbicides like Slay and Arrest. Regardless of how weeds are controlled, this data is irrefutable documentation of the importance of early-season weed control. All of this makes sense and is completely intuitive. Early-season weed control is absolutely essential to forage crop establishment, particularly when conditions are austere. While these studies were conducted with alfalfa across a wide geographical range, the general relationship is fundamental for any forage crop and location. Similar studies were recently conducted in Pennsylvania and those studies produced generally comparable results. However, the recent trials had an additional variable — the effect of baseline weed populations on the importance of early-season weed control. Weed control in sites with heavy weed infestations needed to begin immediately after seeding alfalfa, while weed control at sites with lower weed infestations could be delayed a few weeks. This has direct implications on how we choose food plot sites and the intensity of weed control. In cases where food plot managers know or strongly suspect serious weed problems, weed control must be proactive and aggressive, beginning even before the forages are seeded. Pre-plant or site-prepa-

ration weed control is a recommended strategy to lower baseline weed densities before seeding the forage. This includes frequent stale seedbed (pre-plant) tillage and fallow applications of glyphosate to kill emerged weeds. This will be further discussed in a future article. A practical consideration that further validates the importance of early-season weed control is the opportunity to control small weeds at a stage of growth when they are vulnerable to herbicides. Selective herbicides such as Arrest and particularly Slay are far more effective on small (seedling) weeds than large weeds. Not only is early-season weed control important to prevent forage yield losses, selective herbicides perform better by targeting seedling weeds compared to later applications to larger weeds. MAXIMIZING FORAGE COMPETITION WITH WEEDS So far, this discussion has focused solely on how early-season weeds decimate seedling forages. Forage crops that are adapted to the region, properly managed, and growing under good conditions are capable of competing on near-equal terms with weeds. Outside of unpredictable growing conditions, the practices used to prepare the seedbed and sow the forage directly affect the uniformity and quality of the forage stand. Voids or skips in the forage stand promote weed infestation. After all, weeds are opportunists. My full-time job as a weed scientist includes research and outreach programs to serve organic growers and weed control is their biggest production challenge. In organic crop production, there are few corrective weed control options and cultural practices are a widely used preventative weed control tool. In that sense, weed control in food plots is conceptually the same as in organic crop production. Simply stated, let the crop’s innate competitive ability do the ‘heavy lifting’ by suppressing early season weed growth. This benefit is captured by using sound forage crop production practices that ensure an optimum and uniform crop stand. To summarize these points, I could not

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resist using this tool — a multiple choice question: What best describes the most effective technique to manage early-season weeds and minimize losses in forages planted in food plots? A. Choose a forage species that is adapted to the region. B. Use pre-plant tillage and herbicides to reduce the baseline weed density. C. Uniformly sow the forage at the recommended seeding rate. D. Use an appropriate selective herbicide to control small weeds in seedling forages. E. All of the above. Table 1. Effect of weed control with sethoxydim on alfalfa growth and yield, eight months after seeding in Pennsylvania1. Alfalfa Shoot Leaflets Perenniated foliage yield length (in.) (no./plant) (%) (lbs./A) Sethoxydim (Arrest®)2

3.7

10.9

65

2390

No weed control

4.0

8.5

62

390

1

Stout, W. L., R. A. Byers, K. T. Leath, C. C. Bahler, and L. D. Hoffman. 1992. Effects of weed and invertebrate control on alfalfa establishment in oat stubble. J. Prod. Agric. 5:349-352. 2 Herbicide applied 19 days after seeding alfalfa to control volunteer oat.

Table 2. Effect of duration of weed control on seedling alfalfa growth, Prosser, WA1. Duration of weed control2 (days after seeding)

Above-ground dry matter nine months after seeding (lbs./A) Weeds3

Alfalfa

no weed control

6440

1380

8

5730

2160

15

4760

2420

22

3090

3290

36

2400

3340

65

960

4330

170

420

5080

193

116

4840

214

44

5130

235

18

4560

260 (full season weed control)

0

4720

1 Fischer, A. J., J. H. Dawson, and A. P. Appleby. 1988. Interference of annual weeds in seedling alfalfa (Medicago sativa). Weed Sci. 36:583-588. 2 Alfalfa seeded in August and weeds controlled with handweeding for a maximum of 260 days. 3 Weeds were a composite of a cool season annual grass (downy brome) and cool season broadleaf weed (tumble mustard). The combined weed density averaged 44 weeds/ft2. Dillehay, B. L., W. S. Curran, and D. A. Mortensen. 2011. Critical period for weed control in alfalfa. Weed Sci. 59:68-75. W

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Vol. 21, No. 3 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

43


Write Your Own Hunting History —

Logbook is a Tool For Success By Whitetail Institute Staff Photos by The Whitetail Institute

M

ost of us have probably considered keeping a logbook at one time or another but have just never gotten around to it. Quit procrastinating, and start today. You’ll never regret it, and your hunting is guaranteed to get better.

WHY KEEP A LOGBOOK? President Harry Truman once said, “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t 44

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

know.” While Truman wasn’t referring specifically to deer hunting, he certainly could have been. History really does repeat itself, and that’s especially true with creatures of habit like deer. That’s why being a student of “deer history” on your property makes sense if you want to stack the odds of success in your favor. Most of us can remember a few big items that generally affect our hunting success, for instance that bucks tend to move more during the day as the rut approaches and that weather patterns can affect deer movement. However,

most of us forget finer details over time, and it’s in the study of those details that can yield some extremely useful information. A logbook is simply your own written history of your deer-management efforts, structured in a way that allows you to retain and analyze those details to spot trends you can use to your advantage. To see what I mean, try this little test: Think back several years to a hunt on which you or a friend took a nice buck. You likely remember when and where on your property he was killed and the size of his rack. You may even remem-

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ber if the weather that day was warm or cold, and rainy or clear. Now ask yourself this: “Does having just that information increase my odds of success in the future?” For most of us, the answer is, “Perhaps, but not a whole lot.” But, what if you had a written record of that buck’s harvest showing that the buck was taken at 8:15 a.m., the temperature had just dropped 10 degrees due to the arrival of a cold front blowing in from the northwest, your hunting buddies had also noticed a sharp increase in deer activity, the buck exhibited physical signs of being in rut, the acorn crop that year was sparse, and the buck was chasing does in a food plot planted in Imperial Tall Tine Tubers? And what if you had detailed information like that going back several years for each deer harvested or sighted on your property that showed the same trend: as the rut approaches in years when acorn crops are low, deer activity in your food plots spikes the morning after the arrival of a cold front. See any information that you could use? WHAT DATA SHOULD YOU RECORD? There’s no limit to the amount and variety of data you could include in your logbook. It makes sense, though, to include only information that will help you identify useful trends. Beyond that, additional information may actually muddy the water. While each situation is different, and only you can decide what information is important to your situation, I’ll give you a few ideas. Some of these will be obvious while there may be some you haven’t considered. Especially in the food plot section. “DEER” SECTION Buck Harvest. Record the antler size and age of each buck taken during the hunting season. By comparing average data from one year to the next, you can gauge the improvement of your bucks’ rack sizes at specific ages. Also noting the date and exactly where the buck was killed, and whether he shows signs of being in rut, can help you narrow down seasonal movement patterns. General Deer Harvest. Recording the sex, weight and age of each deer taken (bucks and does) can give you a solid picture of whether average weights are improving, and if they aren’t, then you know you need to do something to improve it. At the end of the season, calculate the average weight of does harvested. If average doe weight isn’t increasing, it may indicate a need to improve the quality and quantity of available forage on the property, that the number of does on the property needs to be reduced, or both. (Of course, be sure to follow all game laws if you decide you need to thin the number of does on your property. The wildlife and conservation agencies in many states offer 46

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

programs by which managers can obtain licenses to harvest additional does in areas where deer density is higher than optimum.) Weather. For each record of a deer harvested or sighted, also note the date, time and moon phase, and weather-related information such as wind direction, temperature, rainfall, barometric pressure and weather-front information. You might find that trends in deer activity start to appear, for instance a general increase after the arrival of cold weather as deer move more in search of food, or a sharp increase with an abrupt arrival of cold weather or immediately after the end of a long streak of bad weather or after a sharp increase in barometric pressure. Deer Sightings. Consider logging each buck and doe you and others see on your property whether you’re hunting or just riding around. Also be sure to note whether the deer was near or using a food source such as mast or a food plot when sighted, and what that food is (acorns, Imperial Whitetail Clover, etc.) Natural Food Sources. Some natural food sources, for example acorns, can fluctuate from year to year from abundant to insufficient. Since this cycle can be somewhat regular, depending in part on weather, having data going back several years can help you get a better of idea of how available that food source may be in future years. A forecast of natural food availability can help you narrow your stand options during the early hunting season. Photographs. Trail cameras can be a huge help in narrowing down deer travel corridors and which bucks are using what trails, and in confirming that a young buck you passed on last season is still alive and has matured into a wall-hanger. Also, toss a camera in your pack before a hunt, and keep one with you at all times when you’re on your property. The reason is easy to understand: We’ve covered data on deer harvests, deer sightings, natural food sources and food plots. Now consider how much having a photo as a visual reference in each case will add to your log book. And the camera doesn’t have to be a big-time SLR with a long-range lenses (although if you have one and don’t mind hauling it around, then all the better). If you’re old enough to remember the early days of trail cameras, think how cloudy and grainy their images were, and yet the pictures they took were still “good enough” to be extremely useful. Many of today’s cell phones come with cameras that produce higher quality photos than some of those early trail cameras. Buck Survival. Of course, there’s no way for most of us to tell exactly how many bucks are on our property, and which ones, survived the hunting season. There is a way, though, to confirm that a specific buck did survive: check your sanctuaries for his sheds after the close of hunting season.

Setting aside parts of your property as sanctuaries (thick areas that offer deer food, water and cover, and that you do not violate during hunting season) can be a great way to bring deer, especially mature bucks, to your property and hold them there. Bucks shed their antlers sometime during February or March, although it can occur a bit earlier or later. Entering sanctuaries then won’t spoil them for next season, and the sheds you may find are proof positive that the deer that shed them wasn’t killed during the last hunting season. “FOOD PLOT” SECTION Just as keeping detailed information about the deer on your property can benefit you down the road, including a section about your food plots can help you get the most out of them. Even so, structure your food plot section differently from your deer section in one key way: keep a separate section for each food plot. Separate Section for Each Food Plot. Notice that even though you keep data in multiple categories for each deer killed or sighted on your property, all the information in each category (temperature, mast production, rut, etc.) is analyzed together to spot trends. With food plots, each food plot should be treated as a separate, stand-alone part of your logbook because each plot is unique in terms of soil type, slope, equipment accessibility, and other factors important to forage selection and maintenance. Soil type, for example, plays a big part in how the soil pH will stay up in neutral range. Also, some sites might be accessible with tillage, mowing and spray equipment (needed for perennial planting and maintenance), while others may not (more suited to annual plantings). Forage Selection. Just like most of us can’t remember the finer details of a hunt that’s a few years old, we may have trouble remembering exactly what was planted in each of our food plots in years past. For each plot, include information on what forages have been planted in the plot, and when you planted them. Many Whitetail Institute forage products can thrive in similar soil types and slopes, and managers commonly plant combinations of these side-byside in a single food plot. Keeping detailed information about which forage your deer prefer most at what time of the year can help you adjust your forage selections for a particular food plot to maximize its attraction power. Soil Test Reports. Performing a laboratory soil test of the soil in each of your food plots is the single most important factor you can control to assure that your forage planting will grow well, and that you won’t waste any money on excess lime and/or fertilizer purchases. If possible, decide what forage you’ll be planting early, and note that on the soil-test submission form. That way the laboratory can precisely

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tailor its recommendations for that particular forage type. (Here’s an article that provides more information about how to select the correct forage for each site: www.whitetailinstitute.com/HowtoSelecttheRightForage.pdf) If you have your soil tested without specifying the forage you’re planning to plant, don’t worry. The Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants can help you understand and adjust the recommendations in your report for the forage you’ll be planting. If possible, have a qualified soil-testing laboratory test your soil several months in advance of planting. That way, if your soil pH is low, the lime you’ll add to the seedbed as recommended in the soil-test report will have additional time to work. Also, because a laboratory soil test is so precise, it can save you money by assuring that you don’t spend a dime more on lime and fertilizer than the plot needs for optimum forage growth. In fact, it’s a good idea to perform a laboratory soil test any time you are considering buying lime or fertilizer. When you’ve applied lime and fertilizer according to the report’s recommendations, though, don’t throw the old reports away. Instead, stick them in your logbook. Later, you’ll be able to compare each soil-test report for a particular plot and gauge whether it may be time to test the soil again to be sure that the soil pH and soil nutrients in the plot remain at optimum levels.

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HOW TO USE YOUR LOGBOOK TO YOUR ADVANTAGE We’ve already discussed how to use the data in each section to our advantage by spotting trends in each. By going further and cross-referencing the trends you spot in the deer section with the historical data in your food plot section, you’ll complete the picture. Will that guarantee that you’ll bag a deer every time you hunt? Of course not. But you’ll have stacked the odds more heavily in your favor that the stand you choose for a particular hunt will be the right one. W

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Vol. 21, No. 3 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

47


The author focuses on nutrition and attraction to grow and harvest bucks like this 170 bruiser.

By Matt Harper Photos by the Author

C

hildhood experiences often cause behaviors that stick with us for the rest of our lives. For example, I have this weird quirk that involves eating items on my plate in a systematic fashion, finishing each portion before I move to the next. What influenced this dietary methodology is the fact that I was forced to try everything that was offered and I had to clean my plate completely. I know what you’re thinking; torturous, medieval even, but no matter how heinous the food (we are talking things like dandelion greens and cooked parsnips) I was forced to eat what was put in front of me. 48

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

No chicken nuggets or instant mac and cheese back up, either. These things weren’t even in the vocabulary at that time. So, I developed a plan where I would start with the item I disliked the most and moved in progression around my plate leaving what I liked the best until last. That way I used hunger as an aid to accomplish this ghoulish task. Years later I would learn that, while still torturous, the force feeds of certain foods was done to make sure I actually ate something nutritious instead of just what was tasty to a youngster. Who knew that spinach was more nutritious than chocolate chip cookies? Nearly every package of food plot seed, deer mineral or attractants will say that inside that package you will find a product that deer will be drawn to uncontrollably. Of course, what else would you expect it to say? If it said something like, “This product is packed with nutrients, deer don’t like it much, but it’s really nutritious” I doubt too many bags would leave the store. Speaking of nutrition, nearly all deer products will also promote some kind of nutritional benefit. So, you may wonder if you are buying a nutrition product or an attractant — or buying both.

These are very good questions and ones we will examine in order to help you determine nutrition vs. attraction. The first thing to determine is the definition of nutrition and attraction. A nutritional product is one whose primary function and purpose is to supply specific nutrients to deer in order to improve the quality of the herd. The primary role of an attractant is to draw deer to a specific spot or a specific area by using flavors and aromas that deer prefer over other flavors and aromas. These definitions seem somewhat simplistic, but regardless it is important to continually keep them in mind when analyzing products. ATTRACTANTS Because of the definition we are using, the attractant category can contain nearly an infinite number of products. For simplicity’s sake, however, we can further divide the category into feeding and non-feeding type attractants. Nonfeeding attractants are primarily pheromonebased scents that either contain or mimic urine and/or glandular secretions of estrous does or rutting bucks. Scents that contain or mimic gen-

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Just like the protein found in Whitetail Institute food plot products, minerals and vitamins are an essential part of the growth matrix of any deer, especially a buck. Hardened antlers are comprised largely of mineral, approximately 55 percent, and most soils in North America lack one or more of the minerals vital to antler development. When you consider that a buck re-grows antlers each year, you can understand why they require such high level of minerals in their diet. If you want your deer to thrive and help them reach more of their genetic potential, then mineral and vitamins supplementation is vital. Whitetail Institute mineral and vitamin supplements are extremely attractive to deer. They are also developed by nutrition experts and are professionally formulated to provide the best nutrition possible for your deer.

239 Whitetail Trail Pintlala, AL 36043 (800) 688-3030 whitetailinstitute.com


The Basics of Mineral Sites By Matt Harper

“S

imply open and pour on the ground” are the instructions you will find on many deer mineral products on the market today. Have you ever tried doing exactly that? Did you have success? My guess is that if I asked 100 people these questions, the answers would be mixed at best, and even the ones who had some success don’t realize with a bit more thought and planning, their mineral sites would be far more productive. The first step in creating a successful mineral site is to choose a mineral product that will accomplish the goals in your management plan. First you need to differentiate between a mineral product and an attractant. While attractants bring deer to a specific spot, that is most often all they do — attract. A properly designed deer mineral will not only attract deer but provide them with both macro and micro-minerals, as well as critical vitamins. These are the critical nutrients that improve antler growth, doe lactation, fawn growth and improve overall herd production. After selecting the appropriate product, your next step is site selection. First, don’t hide the mineral site from the deer. What I mean by that is to locate your mineral sites in areas that deer frequent. I try to find deer trail intersections where two or more trails bisect each other. I won’t just create the site right on the trail as I do not want to do anything that will cause deer to change their trail movement patterns. Instead, move four to six feet off the trail to create the mineral site. Also, the site needs to be located in an area that you want deer to frequent. If the mineral site is working, visiting the site will become part of their routine, so I would rather have a mineral site deeper into my property than close to a neighboring fence line. Keep in mind that you will be frequenting the spot to check trail cameras, replenish the site etc., so avoid creating sites in bedding areas and focus on travel corridors. Finally, sites should be located inside of cover where deer feel comfortable instead of open areas. One of the most vulnerable times for a deer is when it is eating, so you don’t want to create a situation where deer shy away from a mineral site because they do not feel comfortable. Another recommendation, especially when beginning a mineral program, is to try multiple sites. Depending on the deer population I recommend one site per 40 acres, but to begin with, I would create maybe three or four in 40 acres. Even with good planning and good site selection, there are some locations where deer simply will not use a mineral site. So by applying a small amount of mineral in three to four locations, you will allow the deer to tell you which spots they prefer. After a period of time, replenish the site that is used the most and abandon the others. Once a site is well established I will put 20 pounds or more down to decrease the frequency in which I return to replenish the site. Also, I normally err on the side of creating more mineral sites as opposed to having fewer sites. More sites mean less competition for your herd.

Even when deer dig a hole in the ground, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are getting the nutrients they need.

50

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

eral deer urine would also belong to this subcategory. Because this article pertains mostly to feed/food attractants we will not spend any time diving into non-feeding attractants any deeper, but as you can imagine, there is no shortage of opinions and theories on this particular subcategory—enough to write several articles. Feed/food attractants contain or mimic flavors and scents of food stuffs that are thought to be preferred by deer. Acorns, corn, apples, salt, persimmons, molasses, berries (of all varieties) are just a few of the most common flavors/scents that are used, but the list of culinary delights that profess to bring deer running is virtually endless. While there are arguably other feed/food flavors and scents that attract deer, most are primarily based on the attraction power of sweet or salt. Undoubtedly deer are attracted to sweet food sources. Apples, berries and molasses all have one thing in common and that is a high sugar content. The reason for the attraction power of sugar is not definitive, but an examination of a deer’s taste buds would show a high percentage of sweet receptors. An additional thought is that sugar is high in energy which could make the food source more attractive if you prescribe to the thought that deer instinctively know what food sources are high in energy. This particular theory gains some believability when you consider highly attractive food sources such as acorns, corn and soybeans. These food sources are not particularly sweet nor do they have an overly high salt content. They are, however, packed with energy in the form of oils or carbohydrates and, in the case of soybeans, are also high in protein. My personal opinion (remember I said opinion) is that deer do not necessarily know what food sources are the best for them to eat based on nutrition. Perhaps, instinct is really a learned behavior that has evolved over time. Regardless, it is irrefutable that deer are attracted to hard mast and grains no matter the reason. Salt is another very common substance used to attract deer. The reason behind the attraction lies at a cellular level. Cells maintain osmotic pressure largely by maintaining a proper balance of sodium and potassium. A balance of these two minerals must be maintained for normal cellular health and function. In spring, when fresh new vegetation is growing, the plant material is typically very high in potassium and low in sodium. This causes deer to crave sodium which is a natural bodily reaction to try and maintain the sodium/potassium balance. Salt is sodium chloride, thus the attraction power of salt in the spring and summer. When plants begin to mature, the potassium level drops and the deer’s attraction to salt also drops. That is why most salt-based attractants often lose their draw in the fall and winter. When using attractants, the key thing to remember is

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that they are designed first and foremost for attraction purposes. If you pour some salt or a salt-based attractant out and see the deer digging a big hole in the ground, don’t think that you are automatically improving antler growth, doe lactation or any other production function. While there is some nutritional benefit in terms of potassium balance, salt (sodium) does very little if anything for antler growth. Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and trace minerals such as copper and zinc are much more involved in antler growth. Further, most sweetbased attractants have limited to no nutritional value. Aside from the energy the sugar provides, little nutrition is derived. What about putting out corn or acorns you might ask? Certainly there is nutritional value with these items, but you mainly provide only one nutrient—carbohydrates—which don’t create balanced nutrition. Further, in most attraction situations, too little is used to really provide even enough carbohydrates to call it a nutritive source. So, if the main purpose of the product is to attract, it likely is an attractant only. For example, if a “deer mineral” contains primarily salt (more than 50 percent), then it should be considered an attractant. Yes, if there are a few other minerals in the mix, it may provide some, and I stress SOME, nutrition but not enough for me to call it a nutritional product. I am not say-

ing that using an attractant is wrong, if that is your only goal. Just do not expect much, if any, nutritional benefit. NUTRITION All products whose primary function is one of supplying nutrients to deer would qualify as a nutritional product. That does not mean that they all provide the same level of nutrients and for that matter the same types of nutrients. It is simply that the goal in the design of the product is first and foremost to increase the nutritional plane of the deer herd. To get a better understanding of this, we should first start with the most common nutrients used in food/feed supplementation for deer. Protein has long been a buzz word in deer nutrition as it is involved heavily in antler growth, and because most regions of the country contain natural browse that does not meet deer protein needs to achieve maximum antler production. A growing antler is up to 80 percent protein and even a hardened antler is 45 percent which leaves little doubt as to why protein is often supplemented either through food plots or feed supplements. Keep in mind, however, that antler growth is not the only derivative of protein. Muscle growth and doe lactation are just a couple of the laundry list of protein functions.

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Minerals are another nutrient family that coincides with the topic of deer nutrition. Minerals are divided into two groups — macro and micro. Common macro minerals are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium and chloride. Common micro minerals are copper, zinc, manganese, selenium, iron, iodine and cobalt. All of these minerals perform a multitude of vital functions, but the ones most discussed are antler growth, doe lactation and fawn growth. In terms of antler growth, it is important to remember that each year a buck will regrow what would amount to a large percentage of its skeleton in the form of antlers. Hardened antlers are 55 percent mineral so it should be easy to draw the conclusion that minerals are vital for antler growth. Minerals, however, perform many other functions including immunity, epithelial integrity, blood formation and enzyme activity just to name a very, very few. Vitamins are often overlooked but nonetheless important. In particular fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E are vitamins that are not produced in the rumen via microbial populations like most B vitamins and are often supplemented in nutritional products. These vitamins are involved in a host of functions such as immunity, blood transport and reproductive health. The final nutrient family we will discuss is energy, which is not necessarily a nutrient but a derivative of nutri-

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ents. Energy is needed for nearly all bodily functions and certainly is vital in growth and body maintenance. Energy can be produced from several sources including protein, but the most common are carbohydrates and oils/fats. The key to understanding true nutritional products is that that they are designed to supplement a deer’s diet that may be lacking in one or more nutrients, thereby disallowing the deer to reach full genetic potential. For instance, as previously stated, most parts of the country contain natural browse that is lower in protein than what is needed for optimal antler growth and doe lactation. To remedy this, a food plot can be planted that contains high quality, high levels of protein to help balance out the deer’s diet. Likewise, most parts of the country have soils that are deficient in one or more minerals. Therefore, a mineral supplement is used to help supply the lacking minerals. Maybe you live in an area where winter can bring harsh climate conditions and a lack of food for your deer herd. Energy is vital at this time of year in order to maintain body weight and strength to deal with the cold weather. Using a feed supplement or food plot that contains high amounts of energy could help to provide deer with the nutrients they need to see another spring and see it in good condition. NUTRITION AND ATTRACTION If you ask most deer hunters, they would say that they want to provide their deer with supplemental nutrients to improve the overall quality of the deer herd. While this is most likely an honest answer, if they see little usage of this product and deer are not attracted to the product, it will likely be the last time they purchase that product no matter how good the nutritional quality of the product may be. Frankly, the truth is that if the deer are not attracted to the product, it really doesn’t matter what nutrition it provides because obviously the deer have to eat the product to receive the nutrition. Back to my opening comments, even though dandelions greens may be packed with nutrients, if your stomach turns each time you smell them, it really doesn’t matter their level of nutritive value. The answer to the question of how to combine attraction and nutrition lies in the design of the product. For example, when researchers at the Whitetail Institute were developing the revolutionary food plot product Imperial Whitetail 52

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

Using a product that contains attraction and nutrition can give you the best of both worlds.

Clover, the focus was on both protein content and attraction. Several different clover varieties were tested for attraction and protein and the varieties that showed the best characteristics were interbred to produce an F2 generation of clover. This process was replicated several more times to eventually result in the only clover product bred for deer specifically to provide unequalled attraction and nutrition. Another example from the Whitetail Institute of combining nutrition and attraction is the Cutting Edge Optimize nutritional supplement. This product is designed to be used in the spring and summer to supply mineral and protein. You might think that this product is high in salt but Optimize contains less than 17 percent salt. Instead, Optimize is loaded with vital minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, trace mineral and protein

and contains a proprietary attractant that is a result of a blend of various scents and flavors. CONCLUSION My taste buds have apparently changed as I got older. I actually like spinach now and many of the other foods that bunched up my face when I was a kid (I still don’t like dandelion greens). I am not sure that this was a result of acquired taste through force feeding or because I realized I had to learn to like it to get better nutrition. What I do know is that most of the time there is a definite difference between the food you should eat and the food you like to eat, i.e. nutrition vs. attraction. What I have figured out is that the best plan of action is to focus on foods that I like and are highly nutritious. There is absolutely no difference when it comes to deer nutrition. Find a product that will attract deer like a magnet and provide quality nutrition and you have achieved the best of both worlds. W

A high-quality protein source such as Imperial Clover can attract and provide the nutrition that allows deer to thrive and do it on your property.

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(Continued from page 41)

wounded buck. I walked back to my tree stand dejected. I could see my brother walking toward me and he asked, “Did you find him”? I told him that I thought that I had kicked him up and watched him run up the hill out of sight. He asked me to show him where I had shot the deer. When we got to the spot he looked at the arrow and started on the blood trail. The trail showed decent sign and as we continued to walk it was evident the deer was mortally wounded. We found my buck 125 yards from where I shot him. The buck I had seen run up the hill was not mine but another beautiful buck who was also in the area. I could not believe my eyes looking at this massive 10-point I had just harvested. My brother and I were high-fiving and were soon joined by a friend and neighbor who were also hunting in the area. Being an assistant police chief in a city in southern Florida, life is full of stress, and I see the dredges of society daily. It is a dream come true that I can hop on a plane and within a few hours be at my “horns of plenty” farm away from the rat race. The Whitetail Institute has given me the tools to help make this dream a reality, and I am grateful and so are my family and friends who also benefit from this farm. Thanks Dad for blazing a trail into the outdoors, and rest assured, I’ll do my best to continue the tradition with my boys! I thank God every day for blessing me the way He does.

Thomas Pickens — Michigan We have been using Imperial Whitetail Clover for almost 10 years now. We have added a couple of acres each year. We have seen the health of our herd bloom ever since. The bucks get bigger racks and we have a low mortality rate for our young deer. They visit our four 30-06 Mineral sites daily. We have tried other products in the past but the deer will walk right through those plots and feed in our Imperial Whitetail Clover. I am planning to add some Winter-Greens and Tall Tine Tubers to my food plots. Enclosed are some pictures of the deer we have harvested off our property. We have taken a couple of really nice bucks each year. Using Whitetail Institute products along with thinning (culling) our doe herd has helped us create a deer hunting paradise. My dad, Terry Pickens, on the right in photo, took his deer with gun, and I have taken all of mine with a bow. Left to right the deer scores 10point 143-inch, 8-point 133-inch, 8-point 136-inch, and 9-point 132-inch.

Simeon Layfield — West Virginia

Brad Lamb — Iowa With only 40 acres to manage, products that work like Whitetail Institute products are priceless. This 10-point bow kill scored 167-5/8. Previous year sheds found scored 140s. There’s the proof for me.

Before we started using Whitetail Institute products we were getting 8 points that scored 80 to 100 inches. After using Whitetail Institute products we started seeing bigger and bigger bucks. We knew we would get a Pope & Young buck soon. This year we got a 149-inch 8-point and a 136-inch 10-point as well as two 8-points that were about 120 inches each. Enclosed is a photo of the 149-inch 8-point that my son got with his bow. This is in a county in West Virginia that kills thousands of bucks each year but almost never gets a buck this big. Also, my son just ordered two bags of PowerPlant after we saw how well the wildlife used it last year. W

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

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

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Vol. 21, No. 3 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

53


10 Reasons Food Plots Fail

Do your food plots correctly, and you may find yourself phoning friends to tell them about the great buck you have killed.

By Brad Herndon Photos by the Author

Don’t quit! Success is failure turned inside out, The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, And you never can tell how close you are, It may be near when it seems so far. So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit, It’s when things seem worse, that you must not quit.

T

his simple poem written by an anonymous author has been around for years, and it has special meaning for me because every time I read this poem which is hanging on my office wall, its words encourage me to never quit, to never give up. And to me it means to never give up in all aspects of life; attitude, ethics, morality, hunting, fishing, and, yes, even when working with food plots for wildlife. 54

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

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• Attract and hold deer on your property in fall and winter and/or spring and summer

• Produce tons of high protein forage for improved antler development and a healthier herd

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Do things the right way and this is what an Imperial Whitetail Clover food plot can look like.

There are few, if any, deer food plot managers who have not, at some time, had a food plot failure. I know I have. Sometimes when one looks at the money and effort it takes to put in a plot, a failure may implant some negative thoughts in a person’s mind. In fact, all the effort might not seem worthwhile, and the wildlife manager may consider chucking away the whole quality deer management plan. This is where those “don’t quit” words enter into play. Actually, while disappointing, a food plot failure is a short-term setback and by simply studying what caused the failure this same mistake can most likely be avoided in the future. And by studying what has caused the failure of food plots among a quantity of deer hunters nationwide, many mistakes can be avoided and luscious, nutritious food plots will be the norm for you in years to come. In the rest of this article, I will list 10 reasons why food plots either have poor production, or completely fail. Some of what I list may seem repetitious to you old-timers who have put in food plots for many years, but keep in mind 56

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

there are thousands of deer hunters who are putting in food plots for wildlife for the first time and this is new and important information to them. And even us old timers can benefit from a refresher course. Let’s get started. 10 REASONS FOOD PLOTS FAIL Reason # 1 — The food plots don’t get put in. I thought long and hard before listing this as the number one reason food plots fail, and I believe in my area this ranking is correct. While the plots fail for reasons such as ones I will list later on, the simple fact remains that no food was available in food plots for the whitetails in the area. The failure to get the seeds in the ground is caused by two primary factors: Lack of equipment and lack of money. Let’s see what the possibilities are in this area. With enough ambition and time, you can take a weed eater and a rake and put in some kind of little plot. The location can be trimmed by hand, and then Roundup applied to kill down remaining vegetation. Pelletized lime and fertilizer can

be applied by hand, the ground worked up to some degree with the rake, and the seeds planted. Cost is minimal for this plot, but believe me, putting in a food plot this way gets old in a hurry, and the size of the plot is limited due to the amount of labor required to do the job. The next step up, equipment-wise, is the ATV/UTV. Big ATV/UTV’s can do a pretty good job of pulling the various kinds of equipment built for them that are now on the market, such as sprayers, seeders, mowers, plows, discs, etc. However, if you add it all up, quite a bit of money has been invested, possibly more than $10,000. That’s quite a chunk in our down economy, and you still don’t have the best equipment to handle the job. In addition, if your lease is some distance away, a trailer will have to be purchased to haul the ATV/UTV. Hitches and possibly a bigger vehicle may also need to be purchased. The best option for working up food plots is a tractor, complete with all the equipment. Some great small tractors now are on the market that can be purchased, complete with all accessories

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needed for food plot work, for under $30,000. Still, to the average Joe, that’s a lot of money, so buying an old used tractor and implements usually is considered. By going this way, initial cost is reduced substantially, but repairs can be substantial from time to time. Many years ago Carol and I started leasing ground in an adjoining county about 40 minutes away from our home. For the first three years, I considered all of the ways of planting food plots I have listed above and I ended up taking no action at all. Therefore, I had three years of food plot failures because they were never planted. At that time a friend of ours who lived near our lease bought a medium-sized tractor with all the implements to work his 60-acre farm, and I talked to him about putting in our food plots. He was more than willing to help us out, so today we pay him $50 per hour to do our food plot work — mowing, spraying, plowing, disking, cultivating — whatever is needed. Counting our payments to him as well as seed, fertilizer and lime costs, we spend about $750 per year on our three plots, which we can well afford. Each of you starting out in quality deer management will have to make some decisions in regard to equipment. If you can’t work up the ground and plant the seeds, you will not have a food plot. It’s that simple. Certainly if you have a great income, you can

go with the best equipment. If money is tight, then perhaps used equipment would work best. Borrowing a friend’s equipment is always a possibility, of course, but from my conversation with others, this isn’t always the most dependable, timely method of getting seeds in the soil. Or perhaps our hiring-it-out method might work for you. Reason # 2 — Too many deer. My home state of Indiana just had another record whitetail harvest, for the third year in a row. For most states, record harvests are the norm because the deer herd continues to increase in size. There are exceptions, of course, usually due to some disease killing off a large portion of the deer herd, but they are rare. With an overpopulation of deer you can do everything perfectly as far as working up, planting and maintaining your food plot and still have a crop failure. Here is a personal example. One year we planted oats in a plot that had been carefully prepared. The rain was timely and the oats came up in abundance. However, due to other hunters in the region refusing to shoot doe, our property had far too many whitetails regardless of our efforts to shoot more doe. Deer from neighboring properties simply replaced what we shot. From the time the oats came up the deer hit

them hard, and several weeks later the oats were still at ground level. I actually watched whitetails carefully smell the ground and then pull out an oat stem from among the grass in the plot. Obviously this wasn’t a complete crop failure, but it was close to one because of extreme over-browsing. Certainly the tonnage on this plot was dismal and the hunting results were not nearly as good as they should have been. The solution? Shoot doe and the deer population down to or under the herd’s carrying capacity. Reason # 3 — No soil test is taken. You read this in almost every issue of Whitetail News: Take a soil test. Regardless of this good advice, many deer hunters still do not take a soil test to monitor the condition of their soil. Or, they may take a soil test one year and then not take another one for several years. A soil test should be taken every year in order to determine what your soil might need, and to determine what type of fertilizer, and how much, should be applied for the particular type of seed you are planting. In soil terms, pH means “potential of hydrogen.” It measures the acidity (sourness) or alkalinity (sweetness) of the soil. While it may seem you can just pour fertilizer on your plot and it will do well, this isn’t the case. If

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57


And if no rain comes for several days, the turkeys and other birds in the area may eat all of your seed and you will get no stand at all. Plant all seeds exactly as per the instructions on the bag, regardless of how much work it is.

Reason # 4 — No lime is applied to the plot. As mentioned above, a soil test should be taken every year. Almost always a soil test recommends that lime be added to the soil. In some areas, such as mine, bulk agricultural lime is cheap. In other regions, however, bulk ag lime is expensive. Pelletized lime is also available in bags, and its cost is even higher. Despite the soil test, the high cost of lime often discourages the manager from adding this much-needed product and the food plot production suffers significantly because of this lack of action. You must add the recommended amount of lime to your plot, and you should monitor it yearly in order to have outstanding food plots for your deer and other wildlife.

Reason # 7 — Lack of rain. From 2001 until 2009 we had three droughts here in southern Indiana and our food plots actually did fairly well in each of them. Last fall, though, we had one rain immediately after planting our plots, then no rain for roughly three months. We had close to a complete food plot failure. Drought is beyond our control.

Reason # 5 — No weed control is carried out. You never entirely get rid of weeds, regardless of whether you spray or burn the plot, because thousands of weed seeds lie deep within the soil. That being said, you can control weeds to a big degree. For example, if you have a perennial plot and grass starts to be a problem, a grass herbicide especially formulated can be used to kill out the unwanted grass. Arrest is a herbicide for grass that works well with Imperial Whitetail Clover, Alfa-Rack, and most other perennial products. Slay, meanwhile, kills out unwanted broadleaf plants while not harming Imperial Whitetail Clover, and many other food plot plantings. Also, simply mowing a plot that may be planted in clover, alfalfa, and some other perennial products, will usually result in the weeds being subdued due to the new food plot product growth. Reason # 6 — Improper planting of seeds. Most of us who have been in the quality deer management business for a while have learned this lesson the hard way. When planting, mistakes can be made two ways: The seeds are planted too deep, and the seeds are planted too shallow. With clover, alfalfa, turnips, and several other plant types, the seeds are tiny and need to be planted basically on top of the ground and certainly no deeper than 1/4-inch. Typically, those new to food plots want to make sure the seeds are deep enough and they may disc the seeds in to make sure they get a good stand. This usually results in a large quantity of the seeds being buried too deep and they never come up. Conversely, larger seeds like oat need to be 1 to 1-1/2 inches deep. Put them on the surface, or very shallow, and you will get a sparse stand. 58

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

Reason # 8 — Soil is too wet. While a drought can cause food plots failures, planting in areas too wet can likewise prove disastrous. Low-lying river and stream regions that flood yearly are always a risk, especially for perennial products, and I’ve seen many hunters who gamble planting these wet, mucky regions and have lost entire crops. If you must take a risk on these regions, be sure to plant appropriate products there. Moreover, lean toward products such as Imperial Whitetail Clover since clover loves poorly drained soils, and avoid products like alfalfa that thrive in drier, well-drained soils. Reason # 9 — Incorrect fertilizer. Different plants require different fertilizers. Clovers produce their own nitrogen, so they do not need a fertilizer with nitrogen in it. Extreme, Tall Tine Tubers and other brassica products meanwhile, require a lot of nitrogen, so fertilizer containing nitrogen is essential to their success. By all means use the fertilizer ratio recommended from your soil test or follow the general recommendations on the bag of the product you are planting. This is critical to high forage production in your plots. I recommend purchasing your fertilizer early in order to get the exact blend that you need. I’ve seen several hunters wait until the last minute to get their fertilizer, only to find out what they need is sold out. Almost always these hunters take whatever fertilizer is available and their results are not as good as they should have been. It’s also worth mentioning that fertilizer has gone up considerably over the past few years and several hunters have told me they put on just half as much as recommended in order to save money. Again, this results in a considerably lesser amount of forage production in the plots. Put on the recommended amount of fertilizer, regardless of the cost or plant fewer plots.

five years and sometimes longer. In these cases, the crop generally does not have to be rotated. There are other types of food plot products, however, that do need to be rotated. Brassica is a good example. If a plot is planted in brassicas for several years in a row, problems will begin to show up such as clubroot, leaf spot, white rust, turnip mosaic virus, root rot, etc. Over time, these diseases and insects may cause a complete crop failure. Brassicas should be rotated every year and certainly at least every two years. Regardless of what product you plant, you should carefully research how often the crop needs to be rotated in order to stay healthy. So there you have 10 different problems you may encounter that can cause a diminished food plot crop, or complete failure. Consider what I have said, do more research, and get back out there and work in the dirt. And always remember, no matter what happens, don’t quit! W

A good way to monitor if the deer are excessively browsing your food plot is to install a small exclusion cage in each plot. Without question, money is a factor in many decisions made concerning quality deer management. If you have four food plots you want to put in but because of a limited amount of money decide to save by skipping on lime, or putting a lesser amount of fertilizer on the plots, please reconsider. Instead, do just two or three plots, and do them right, and you will have better hunting results in the long run.

Reason # 10 — Crop is not rotated. Clover and is a perennial, meaning it grows for several years without replanting. When properly cared for, a good clover plot will last three to For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

Photo by Whitetail Institute

a soil is too acidic, and most of it is, the fertilizer can’t all be utilized because the nutrients of the soil are bound up against individual soil particles and can’t get into a plant’s system. Take a soil test every year.

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(Continued from page 31)

10 inches of rainfall a year, and it still grows. Size of bucks has been increasing every year. older son, Cody, harvested a nice doe in the Imperial Clover, and I was able to close out the season by harvesting a nice 10-pointer weighing in at 200 pounds. Thanks to Whitetail Institute for the products. Thanks very much.

Pete Olson — Montana I’ve been using Chic Magnet for four years. It is the only product that I can get to grow in north central Montana, and the deer love it. We only get

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

Rick Pierson Sr. — Pennsylvania

I practice QDM, and we pass on all small deer, and we reduce the hunting pressure until the rut begins. P.S. We have also taken several gobblers each spring season. Thank you Whitetail Institute for a great product.

Lawrence Giles — Mississippi We have always taken plenty of deer off of our property (240 acres) but never anything to brag about. By the third year of using Imperial Whitetail Clover, I took a really nice 8-point buck. It was my best deer by far in more than 25 years of hunting. I’m convinced that Imperial Whitetail Clover had a lot to do with my success! Thanks Whitetail Institute, and keep up the good work. P.S. it scored 135, not big by some folk’s standards but a truly great trophy for me.

Whitetail Institute food plot products have taken my hunting area to the next level. More deer, and the deer are spending more time on my woods lot. More does leads to more bucks. I’m seeing bigger bucks as each year goes by. 30-06 Mineral is awesome too. My son, Rick Jr., is in the photo with a 12-point he took.

Roy Snyder — Virginia Since my purchase of my own land here in southeast Virginia, I have been planting Imperial Whitetail Clover. In the last seven years I’ve taken four mountable bucks scoring 125 to 194 4/8 Boone & Crocket gross (picture included). This last and largest deer was on my food plot with a doe and was taken on Nov. 18 last season. This particular farm is only 48 acres. My children and

Jim Boyce — West Virginia I took this picture and several others, from my tree stand last season, and I let him walk. He was with a doe, and as hard as it was to do, I let him walk so he could pass on his genes. I’m really seeing a huge improvement in antler growth and body size the five to six years I’ve been using Whitetail Institute products. I honestly never thought I’d see deer of this caliber in this area. I saw a deer four days ago that was bigger than this one. It might be the same deer with an-

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other year of growth. I’m really excited about what’s happening on our property. I planted Winter-Greens for the first time this past year, and I can’t believe how well it did and how the deer came to it every night. The same was true with the No-Plow I put out. I’ve had Imperial Whitetail Clover out for quite some time. Thanks Whitetail Institute for the products and the good results.

Robert Adrian — Wisconsin I live in northwestern Wisconsin, where there is no farm land. I have 88 acres, and most of the land around here is timberland and gets hunted hard, so I needed a way to keep more deer on my land. I started making food plots five years ago. I have three that are about 1/4-acre and two that are about 1 acre. I wanted the two plots that are an acre to be a perennial plot so I used Imperial Whitetail Clover. That worked great. My only problem was trying to keep the deer out so it could grow more. This year, I changed these two plots to an annual so I could add a lot of lime to make my soil pH better and I planted PowerPlant. It looks great. I wanted an annual plot on my smaller plots so I used Winter-Greens which was awesome, No-Plow and Secret Spot were great too. I have two spots that I use 3006 Mineral and 4-Play blocks and the deer are at these spots year round. To sum everything up, the best thing I ever did on my 88 acres was to use Whitetail Institute food plot seed and minerals. I draw in so many deer from the public land and hold them on my land. I have so many people that have seen my plots and say theirs don’t grow like mine and I tell them one thing: Use

Whitetail Institute seed. Here is a picture of a buck I got last year during our gun season. I shot him on his way to my Winter-Greens plot. This is the eighth buck I got like this one in the five years of planting food plots.

Gilles Beasse — Quebec Canada

I would like to thank Whitetail Institute for their great products! On my 230-acre property I now have five food plots with Imperial Whitetail Clover, Alfa-Rack, and Winter-Greens. I was born with only one hand, and these products have helped me succeed. With a lot of hard work and perseverance I have killed many P&Y bucks. Here are pictures of three bucks I, my girlfriend and a friend shot last year.

Brian Taylor — Virginia Pure Attraction lives up to its name. I killed this 11-pointer with a muzzleloader the first morning I hunted over our food plot where Pure Attraction was planted. He came in looking for does. He was just standing at the edge of the plot scanning it up and down. Luckily, I didn’t realize how big he was until after I found him. For my first time ever it was ground shrinkage in reverse. This was a special kill for me. My dad taught me to hunt, but after I was old enough to go on www.whitetailinstitute.com

my own, he stopped going. A few years ago, he started saying, “If I had somewhere I could go sit with you, I would like to go but I’m not climbing any trees or freezing to death.” My uncle cut a piece of timber on the farm that used to be their grandparents farm. The property has a power line that bisects it. I thought what a perfect spot to put a tower stand because it was easy walking distance for my father who has bad knees. We got permission from my uncle to “do whatever you want,” and my mother made arrangements to have a tower stand for two built and placed on the edge of the power line. Then the fun began. My father is in the logging business, so we went out and pushed out a food strip about 115 yards long to form a T with the power line. The first year we planted Whitetail Institute products and tried a little bit of everything but had limited success because of the poor soil. Last year we decided to do it “right.” We disked the food strip and had a truck come spread lime on it. We disked again and planted the Pure Attraction and applied fertilizer. We planted it the last week in August and then it didn’t rain for three weeks. We were worried whether anything would come up but after good rains at the end of September the plants started coming up. By November and the start of muzzleloader season, we had a lush, pretty food plot. It had grown better than we could have imagined. I just want to thank Whitetail Institute for making such a good product and for the time that I get to spend with my dad planting and hunting our strips. He has gotten such a joy out of how good his plots look, and I cherish the time we get to spend together working and hunting over them. I am hoping that maybe this year’s big buck comes by for him, and I can write another letter about his trophy. W

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

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

Vol. 21, No. 3 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

61


SAVE BIG With Whitetail News

Price with coupon: $109.95 Please send _____ 50 lb. quantities of Imperial NO-PLOW™ Wildlife Seed Blend. TOTAL Including shipping and handling $_______ Please add $18.00 for shipping and handling for each 50 lbs. ordered. (Canadian residents call for shipping charges.) Please enclose with shipping and payment information or give code on phone orders.

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Price with coupon: $169.95 Please send _____ 24 lb. quantities of Imperial Winter-Greens™. TOTAL Including shipping and handling $_______ Please add $12.00 for shipping and handling for each 24 lbs. ordered. (Canadian residents call for shipping charges.) Please enclose with shipping and payment information or give code on phone orders.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

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Price with coupon: $229.95 Please send _____ 52 lb. bags of Imperial Edge™. TOTAL Including shipping and handling $_______ Please add $18.00 for shipping and handling for each 52 lbs. ordered. (Canadian residents call for shipping charges.) Please enclose with shipping and payment information or give code on phone orders.

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Mail To: Whitetail Institute of North America 239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043 Or Call Toll Free: 1-800-688-3030 • Fax Orders To: (334) 286-9723

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WHITETAIL NEWS

63


The Future Of Our Sport Brooklyn Hollon — Alabama On the afternoon of Jan. 22, my dad took me to a new piece of property we had just leased. Dad and my brother Rhett had seen several bucks the week before, so we were really hoping I would get a good chance at a racked deer. Dad took me to a shooting house on a long, narrow field between a cut-over and some thinned out pines. We saw several does early in the hunt, and then late, a good buck stepped out in the back of the field. I got ready for the shot, and just before the buck stepped into the pines, I fired. My first thought was I missed, but my dad assured me I had made a good shot. The buck ran into the pines but he made it only about 50 yards. The 120-yard shot with my 7mm-08 was right in the shoulders. My first buck and he had a small drop tine! I think my brother is jealous.

Gavin Eurish — Illinois I sat in the stand where a friend had a 160 class 8point come out two years ago and there were five big scrapes around it. There were six deer in the bean field to my left. After about 20 minutes of watching what would be my buck chase does in the field he decided to follow a doe over to his scrapes. I took a shot at him from about 10 yards but the nock on my arrow fell out and sent the arrow flying in the wrong direction. He ran about 200 yards, but I stayed still, and the doe stayed out in front of me. All of a sudden I saw him turning around and coming back to that doe. He came in to about 30 yards, and that’s when I shot him. He weighed about 275 pounds and had two tines broken off of his main beam. That’s okay because I got my first whitetail.

64

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 21, No. 3

Howard Smith — Vermont

I have been using Whitetail Institute products for many years with great results! This past rifle season here in Vermont, my sweetheart shot her first deer! This was her first year hunting and thanks to Whitetail Institute’s great products we had more quality deer to choose from than ever before. It took me almost 10 years before I shot my first buck on my property and that was a scrawny three pointer. Then I discovered the Whitetail Institute and tried Imperial Whitetail Clover. The rest is history! I have since tried many Whitetail Institute seed blends and have seen radical changes in deer quality on my property. More deer, bigger deer and better racks. Here is a picture of my Sweetie with her first deer! Thank you so much Whitetail Institute for all the hard work developing such a great selection of wonderful products!

Barry Valk — Wisconsin I had to pass on a story about my son Tim's first youth hunt in Wisconsin. Just to give you a little background about him as he is unique in a lot of ways. He is an 11-year old very modest boy who is extremely kind and never shows very much emotion. He is a very responsible and a straight A student in school. In Wisconsin every year for the past few years, they have what is called a youth hunt where a child from the ages of 10 to 15 can go rifle hunting with an adult without going through hunters’ safety. You get a buck tag and a doe tag for $7 and this past weekend was the youth hunt. So, with that being said here is his/our story from this last Saturday. I have two Whitetail Institute food plots. The first one is on my top field where I have 1.5 acres of Chicory Plus which I planted four years ago and about .5 acres of Winter-Greens. This food plot is on

a 10-acre field where the farmer has corn planted and I have an insulated blind where we stand. My son Tim and I were in the stand around 6 a.m. on Saturday. Temperature was around 65 degrees with a 20 mph wind (not very good conditions for hunting around here). Around 6:30 a.m. when it started getting light we saw a 6-point buck which was out in the field eating Chicory and clover and around 6:45 a.m. he moved over in front of our blind at eight yards eating Winter-Greens. My son shot him at eight yards and the buck only ran 20 yards. I am enclosing a picture of his buck. It is not a huge buck, but at age 11 it's a monster, and Tim held my 30-06 and shot it by himself. It gets better as the day goes on. Not that shooting a 6-point buck wasn't a great achievement, but it was to be Tim's day. I coach his tackle football team and we had to be back at noon for his game. At his game we won 16-6 against a pretty good football team. However, it was Tim's turn to be our halfback for the first half on Saturday. and he ended up scoring both of our touchdowns and a 2point conversion. One touchdown run was for more than 65 yards and he ran the ball right up the middle. However, it doesn't end there. That afternoon we went back out hunting to try and fill his doe tag on my bottom food plot where I also have another blind. There I have one acre of Pure Attraction and one acre of Winter-Greens mixed with some beans. Also, the farmer put a row of beans all around the outside of my food plot and another nine acres of beans he had planted to the right of the food plot. We sat there most the afternoon into the evening, and as evening approached we watched a 2-1/2-year-old doe work her way from 168 yards away from one of the food plots all the way through to the Winter-Greens until she was only 20 yards broadside from the blind. Tim took the gun and shot the doe right through the front shoulders, and the doe only went 10 yards and dropped in the food plot. Totally amazing! What a day for a very proud dad and son. I want to send thanks to Whitetail Institute for the awesome products from a very happy dad! W

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Whitetail News Vol 21.3  

Volume 21 Issue 3

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