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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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Managing Small Acreages for a Whitetail Paradise Page 5

The Backstory of Whitetail Institute Products

From Thought to Bought


TURNING CLOTHING INTO GEAR NEXT-TO-SKIN | INSULATION | SOF T SHELL | HARD SHELL | HEADWEAR | HANDWEAR | PACKS

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In This Issue…

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What Mark Do You Want to Leave Behind By R.G. Bernier

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Imperial Whitetail Alfa-Rack Plus… It’s All About the formula By Whitetail Institute Staff

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Managing Small Acreages for a Whitetail Paradise

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Pick Your Product — Institute Forages are Designed for Virtually Every Circumstance

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Imperial Whitetail Winter-Greens… The “Maximum-Attraction” Brassica Product

By Gerald Almy

By Whitetail Institute Staff

By Hollis Ayres

22

12

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30-06 Mineral Vitamin Supplement Break-Away Block By Whitetail Institute Staff

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Features 5

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From Thought to Bought — The Backstory of Whitetail Institute Products

By Joe Byers

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For a company to be successful, it must come up with a high-quality product, understand how to make it appealing, be able to formulate a great game plan and have the dedication required to carry out the marketing plan. When all these factors come together, success follows.

Are You Looking Through a Glass Ceiling on Your Hunting Property?

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Follow Instructions and Reap Big Rewards

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Whitetail Institute Products Help Produce the #1 and #2 Pope and Young Whitetails in Wyoming

By Gerald Almy

By Craig Dougherty Many of the property owners the author and his son work with are plagued with the same problem. They let young bucks walk in hopes of turning them into old bucks with big antlers, but this never seems to happen. Are these client’s expectations holding them back?

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Understanding Protein and How it Fits in Your Management Plan By Matt Harper Protein has become the magic ingredient that is to deer nutrition what Kleenix is to facial tissue. Without a doubt one of the least understood terms in the deer nutrition world is protein.

16

30-06 Mineral Key to Shooting a 180-Inch 9-Point By Adam Hayes

20

The Drought Dilemma By David Hart

By Charles J. Alsheimer

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Planting by the Compass Helps Ensure a Great Plot

By Mike Schmid

Departments 4 18

A Message from Ray Scott Field Testers Report Stories and Photos

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The Weed Doctor By W. Carroll Johnson, III, Ph.D., Weed Scientist and Agronomist

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Record Book Bucks Stories and Photos

Winter Peas Plus…You Make the Call By William Cousins The Whitetail Institute is proud to announce its newest forage product: Imperial Whitetail Winter Peas Plus. Winter Peas Plus is different from other “pea” food plot products in many ways.

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Food Plot Planting Dates First Deer — Aiming for the Future

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 Frank Deese Wildlife Biologist Jon Cooner Director of Special Projects Brandon Self, Kendrick Thomas, John White Product Consultants Daryl Cherry, 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 Marlin Swain 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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Vol. 23, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 3


A Message from RAY SCOTT Founder and President of the Whitetail Institute of North America

In the Arena A Many Whitetail Institute product ideas have not survived our grueling product development and real-world testing. But the important thing is we all kept trying. For me the ultimate failure is not trying.

s the Whitetail Institute turns 25 and the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) turns 45 and I turn 80, allow me to turn philosophical for a moment. My preacher is always saying to practice an attitude of gratitude and as I look back on these past 80 years, I can only be grateful to have been part of not just one but two great American outdoor traditions — bass fishing and whitetail hunting; first, as founder of B.A.S.S. in 1968 and 20 years later the Whitetail Institute of North America. After all the inevitable struggles and eventual success, the sweetest success by far is being in a position to be able to leave these sports better than I found them and help leave a legacy for generations to come. Some people think I have some sort of magic touch, but that is not the case. I will tell anyone for every success, I have a graveyard of ideas that didn’t work. That has been true at the Institute. Many Whitetail Institute product ideas have not survived our grueling product development and real-world testing. But the important thing is we all kept trying. For me the ultimate failure is not trying. I was reminded of that just recently when I came across one of my favorite quotes of all times from Theodore

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Roosevelt, not just one of our greatest presidents but one of our greatest outdoorsmen as well. You’ve probably heard it, but it is timeless for all those out there working, struggling, creating, supporting a cause, devoted to an endeavor. Here’s what Teddy had to say: “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of good deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcomings, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” The Whitetail Institute has been in the arena these past 25 years and that’s where we’ll stay, not just for our field testers and customers but for quality deer management and the future of our sport. Ray Scott

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From Thought to Bought — The Backstory of Whitetail Institute Products By Charles J. Alsheimer Photos by the Author

There is a notion in our society that says, “If you have a good product, you don’t have to worry about sales, they’ll take care of themselves.” Frankly, the person who came up with this line obviously believed in the tooth fairy. Very few things in life just happen. For a company to be successful, it must come up with a high-quality product, understand how to make it appealing, be able to formulate a great game plan and have the dedication required to carry out the marketing plan. When all these factors come together, success follows.

A Little History In 1968, Alabama native Ray Scott walked away from a successful career to follow his dream of bass fishing. At the time, many thought he was crazy, but through time he chased and caught up to his dream by found-

ing the largest sport-fishing organization in the world, the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.). In the process, his vision wound up creating an entire industry that thrives today. Though Ray is synonymous with bass fishing, he is also passionate about whitetail deer. His passion for bass fishing spilled over to deer in the mid-1970s, when his son Steve got him interested in hunting whitetails. At the time, Ray wanted to attract deer to his hunting property, so he began planting oat, wheat and rye green fields. One day in the 1980s, Ray stopped at a local feed store to buy some grain seed to plant in his food plots. While there, the store’s owner threw a bag of clover seed on the back of the truck and encouraged Ray to plant it for his deer. That season, Ray came up with the idea of planting a buffet of food plots, using a variety of grains and the clover seed he’d been given. When hunting season arrived, Ray was amazed to see how often deer would walk through the oats, wheat and rye he had planted to get to the clover plots.

Being attractive to whitetail is one of the main research requirements in Whitetail Institute product development.

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This happened on several hunts. Other hunters reported similar observations. This drove him to find out what the clover seed was all about. The trail led him to Dr. Wiley Johnson, a professor and seed geneticist at Auburn University. Ever the businessman, Ray challenged Dr. Johnson to come up with the best clover product possible specifically for deer. Ray and Dr. Johnson set up the goals to develop a clover blend that had seedling vigor, high nutritional content, drought resistance, winter hardiness and most importantly, was attractive to deer. It took Dr. Johnson the better part of seven years to create the clover variety that became the backbone of Imperial Whitetail Clover. During the time Dr. Johnson was engineering the original Imperial Whitetail Clover, Ray was one of the first to encourage hunters and landowners of the benefits of food plots as a nutritional supplement for whitetails. In 1988, with the first Imperial Whitetail Clover blend in his arsenal, Ray launched the Whitetail Institute of North America. Since then, many new seed varieties have been developed by Dr. Johnson and his successor, Dr. Wayne Hanna, and these new varieties have helped to continue to improve Imperial Whitetail Clover and other Whitetail Institute food plot products.

The author began using Imperial products 17 years ago when his family developed a whitetail research facility on his farm.

Quality is No. 1 Anyone who has ever dealt with the Whitetail Institute knows that there is no such thing as second best with the company. I began using its products 17 years ago when my family developed a whitetail research facility here on our farm. Dedicated to the study of deer behavior and whitetail nutrition, we set out to determine why deer do what they do and why they prefer certain forages, natural and human engineered. It has been a fascinating journey; one that has allowed me to see firsthand the quality (or lack thereof) of certain products. From the get-go, our research deer showed a distinct preference for the various Whitetail Institute products we planted in our 35-acre enclosure. When I asked Steve Scott to comment on their company’s emphasis on the superior quality of their products, he said, “The quality of our products is what made us successful initially and is why we are the number-one food plot company today. We learned a long time ago that repeat business is the key to success because it costs a lot

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more to sell a person the first time than the second, third or fourth time. When my dad began Whitetail Institute, his top priority was to develop the best clover blend possible. This philosophy remains in place today with all our products. “That said, let me share a quick story about my dad as it relates to the quality of our products. Not long after the introduction of Imperial Whitetail Clover, my brother, Wilson, and I thought it might be a great business decision to come up with a less expensive clover blend to compete with the first cheaper ‘copy-

cat’ products that appeared on the market. Well, we ran our idea by our father, and he shot it down almost as fast as the words came out of our mouths. “He said, ‘If we are still here 20 years from now, it will be because of the quality of our products, not the money we make. I’m not about to sacrifice quality, so no we will not market a cheaper seed line. Our goal will always be to offer the highest quality products to our customers.’ “In retrospect, what our dad said that day was one of the best business lessons I’ve ever www.whitetailinstitute.com


learned and the cornerstone for the success we’ve enjoyed for all these years.”

Identifying the Need Attention to detail and the quality of their products has been the lynchpin to Whitetail Institute’s success. From its inception, Whitetail employees listened to their customers and closely analyzed the market before introducing a new product to its line. When I asked Steve Scott how important new products are for them he said. “New products are very important, but only if there is a need or we have a hole to fill in our product line. It usually takes five years on average for us to go from thinking about a product to bringing it to market. For every successful product we’ve had there have been dozens that never saw the light of day,” he said. After Whitetail Institute determines the need for a new product, research begins. Staffers look at all aspects of what will be required for success — everything from educating customers on something totally new to whether the product will provide the proper nutrition and whether deer will be attracted to it and much more. After all aspects are looked at closely, the process of selecting and/or genetically developing the seed begins. A critical aspect of Whitetail Institute’s offerings is that most of its seed products are blends rather than a single seed variety. Single seed varieties typically have negative features, like an inability to be drought resistant or winter hardy. Seed blends, on the other hand, can be formulated to minimize such negatives. In addition, blends can be developed to have higher nutrition levels and last longer.

riety of seeds to test and they give us their opinion of which works best for them. When we know which seed or blend of seeds works best, the marketing process begins.” An important point of emphasis is that Whitetail Institute continually strives to improve the blends it offers. By way of example, since Imperial Whitetail Clover’s introduction in 1988, numerous improvements have been made through the years to this popular clover blend to make it more successful. Further improvement in the company's seed blends took place just recently with the addition of Rain Bond to its seeds. This cuttingedge coating product can hold 200 times its weight in moisture, which helps to improve seedling survival when drought conditions exist.

The Art of Selling When a Whitetail Institute product is developed, it’s time to bring it to market. One of the first steps in the process is ensuring as much as possible that production will be able to keep up with demand when the orders roll in. While production is gearing up, Whitetail’s staff is busy with product naming, bag

design and developing advertising strategy. Since its inception, Whitetail Institute has aggressively marketed its products through vertical magazines and television (those that are primarily whitetail in nature). As Steve Scott said, “We focus on the most serious end users who have a passion for whitetails.” However, the biggest way the company reaches the whitetail public is through its magazine, Whitetail News, which was launched in 1991 and is published three times a year. Each issue is full of informative hunting, land management and food plot articles, with heavy emphasis on how Whitetail Institute products can deliver the greatest return to the deer and landowner. Whitetail News ranks as the most-read magazine of its kind in the United States, and it is free to Whitetail Institute customers. For more than two decades, Ray Scott’s prophetic words to his sons — that quality would be what makes them successful — have rung loud and true. Because of its product’s quality and customer service, Whitetail Institute has become a true American success story. Simply put, few do the thought-tobought process better than Whitetail Institute does. W

Meeting the Test A critical step in Whitetail Institute’s thought to bought process is the unique way it tests prospective products. Steve Scott explained the process. “We test every seed offering vigorously in different parts of the country to make sure it will grow and thrive in each region. We do this through what we call satellite research facilities, which are some of our customers,” he said. “Our testers are folks who plant food plots in what we call the ‘Real World.’ They conduct a fair test, work within our confidential guidelines and provide a prompt and thorough response to how the product performs. Basically, we provide them with a vaFor the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

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WHITETAIL NEWS 7


Are You Looking Through a Glass Ceiling on Your Hunting Property? By Craig Dougherty Photo by the Author

f you think the glass ceiling effect only operates in business or politics, think again. The whitetail world is full of glass ceilings, and there are thousands of landowner/hunters out there with bumps on their heads to prove it. A glass ceiling in business generally refers to an invisible barrier that prevents women or some other class of individual from attaining upper-level positions. Talented individuals, intent on promotion and a career, clearly can see the upper rungs on the career ladder but just can’t seem to get beyond a certain point. They have hit an invisible barrier so to speak.

tent on taking 160-180 inch whitetails like you see on TV, you had better start hunting where the TV stars do. And trust me, that is not Alabama, Massachusetts or even Pennsylvania. It’s Iowa and Illinois and a handful of additional midwestern states that are known for producing monster bucks. The Quality Deer Management Association publishes a nifty map showing exactly where the record-book bucks are coming from. You guessed it — Midwestern states such as Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin are right up there. Overlay a soil quality map, and you see how strongly correlated good soils are with big buck production. Don’t make yourself crazy by trying to grow Iowa-caliber bucks on a South Carolina property. Except for those occasional freaks it just isn’t going to happen. But trying to get bucks into older age classes and providing the best food possible can help you start killing the best bucks in your neighborhood. But the glass ceiling effect is about much more than setting realistic expectations. In fact, it is more about hunting than goal setting. Most of my clients know the difference between growing deer in Iowa and New Jersey. They know that good antlers come with age and nutrition, and they know what the top bucks in their area look like. They are doing everything right: passing young bucks, planting food plots, providing cover and security and hunting hard, but they still are having trouble breaking through the glass ceiling. For the most part, they can get two and even three years on a buck, but when it comes to growing and killing 4, 5 and 6-year-old bucks, that is where they start bumping their head. A closer look will start to answer why.

Size Matters At one time, deer experts were telling us that you couldn’t manage deer on anything less than

Many of the property owners my son and I work with in our consulting business are plagued with the same problem. They let young bucks walk in hopes of turning them into old bucks with big antlers, but it never seems to happen. They set management goals for themselves but keep bumping their heads on invisible (to them) barriers. It typically kicks in when landowner/hunters try to transition from taking younger deer to mature deer in the 4 to 5-year-old range. We see it all the time in our consulting business, and here are some of the most common reasons why.

Great Expectations One of the most common problems my son and I encounter is unrealistic expectations. Landowner/hunters are covered up with images of world-class whitetails. It’s all you see on TV, on magazine covers and on the internet, and some of it is bound to rub off. Many landowner/hunters ignore local norms and conditions and are bound and determined to raise and hunt magazine-cover bucks. If you’re in-

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1,000 acres. Happily, that is old information, and plenty of managers are doing quite nicely on considerably smaller properties. It all depends on how the property lays out and what surrounds it. My son and I have seen successful older-age deer management occur on properties of 200 acres and more. We do nicely on our 500-acre New York property, but we take extreme measures to keep the deer close to home. We have laid out the property so the critical feeding and bedding areas are at the center of the property and as far from our boundary lines as possible. Most of our acreage is off-limits to humans, and we have numerous access roads and trails around the property so we can always approach from the downwind side of wherever we are going to hunt. Most important, we practice low-impact hunting to the extreme. We disrupt the property as little as possible, which means electric carts only, evening hunting only (until the rut), resting the property between hunts, only hunting the outer perimeters and a dozen other practices designed to keep the deer where we want them. Hunters having 100 acres or less are going to have difficulty managing for age or antlers. They can have great deer hunting, but if they think they are going to control deer straying from their property, they are kidding themselves. If their 100 acres is in a neighborhood full of QDM properties, they are in luck. The same goes for small-property owners who are lucky enough to own property in a state that protects young bucks. They can focus on creating the best 100 acres for miles around and attract deer with food, cover and security. Short of highfencing them in, you just can’t consistently keep bucks contained on small properties. If you are lucky enough to get the occasional slammer on your small property, use extreme caution when hunting him. Too much pressure, and the neighbors will have him.

Neighborhood Watch When it comes to setting your sights on big bucks, your neighbors matter as much you and your hunting buddies. Unless you are working with a large chunk of real estate of, say, 200 acres or more, your neighbors can make you or break you. The worst situation is trying to manage deer in a neighborhood full of poachers. They trespass, shoot deer illegally and do everything else under the sun to undermine the principles of hunting fair chase and sound game management. I hate to say it, but in some parts of the country trespassing and poaching is the norm, not the exception. Poachers and trespassers are a scourge and often a good reason to pull up stakes and pull out. More than one property with real potential has been ruined by the wrong kind of people. Neighbors who do not share your management views can often be convinced to get with the program. When we first started to manage for age 25 years ago, our neighbors thought we were nuts. “That will never work,” and, “We hunt for meat not horns” was heard more often than not. And then they started to see older deer on their property and even started killing a few. Before long, they were passing up young bucks and waiting for that nice 10-pointer they got on camera the previous summer. Sure, it’s great if all your neighbors buy into your program, but don’t give up on them if they don’t. That is, unless they are confirmed brown-and-down guys and you are surrounded by them. If that’s the case, and if you are managing less than a few hundred acres, it is going to be very tough to get any age on your deer. You will be lucky to see a 3.5-year-old buck every so often.

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Some areas are notorious for their inability to produce older-aged bucks, and it can generally be placed at the feet of hunters who kill every buck they see. No matter where the property is located, if everyone in the neighborhood is shooting young bucks and you are on a small property, your dreams of growing big bucks are just that — dreams. If your sights are set on taking mature bucks, your options are to convince your neighbors to pass young bucks, find property surrounded by like-minded neighbors or wait for your state to pass laws protecting young bucks (most are there or headed that way).

Ground Rules Some properties have good soils, and some don’t. It’s about that simple. Sure you can amend poor soils with lime and add the right kinds of fertilizers, but some soils are just chock-full of great minerals that help bucks grow large antlers (assuming that is your goal). The Whitetail Institute produces a full complement of food plot forages that can make significant nutritional differences on almost any property you should have. But remember, a good portion of what a whitetail eats is native vegetation, and here is where good soils make a difference. Good ground grows good deer, provided they live long enough. But soil quality is only part of the story. Aspect to the sun (ground slope) is important, too. In the North, a property that slopes in a northerly direction (away from the sun) will be colder and wetter in spring and summer, and will stop producing food and freeze up earlier in fall than south-facing slopes, which gather sun more efficiently. We have one major north-facing slope on our New York property, and it is a dark, damp place. Bucks love it in summer, but food production shuts down early in fall, and by mid-hunting season, deer are generally feeding elsewhere. If your hunting property is in the North and you only have north-sloping ground to contend with, you are at a distinct disadvantage as far as keeping deer happy all season. You will be fighting Mother Nature by trying to grow fall forages in areas that get little fall and no winter sun. We combat this by planting Tall Tine Tubers, which grow well in the cold, and attract and feed a lot of deer, but we are definitely working against Mother Nature on north-facing slopes. In the South, it is pretty much the opposite. North slopes are better growers than hot, dry southern exposures. Deer don’t spend much time around hot, dry side hills with midday temps that will pop the top off of a thermometer. Ideally, the property you are working will have multiple slopes of every orientation, providing you with the best of all worlds in terms of growing deer foods. Landowners found out years ago that planting quality food plots for whitetails really can make a significant difference. If you can get some age on a deer and are able to provide top-of-the-line nutrition, you really can grow healthier, heavier and larger-antlered bucks. Start with some good soil and some favorable locations, and the sky is the limit as far as nutrition goes. And good nutrition usually means older-aged deer and good antlers. Start with a poor piece of ground, and you’ll eventually be bumping your head.

Huntability It’s one thing to grow a big mature buck but another to kill him. The vast majority of our glass ceiling clients have photographed good bucks on their property but can’t seem to find them when hunting season rolls around. Indeed, the question most often asked of us in our day-to-day consulting business is, “Now that I have grown him,

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how the heck do I kill him?” The answer to this question will have a good deal to do with how you hunt, but it will also depend on how your property hunts. Some properties are a dream to hunt, but others are almost unhuntable. Three hundred fifty acres of our 500 are unhuntable because of poor wind conditions. Our property is plagued with uneven terrain, and covered up with dropoffs, ups and downs, and benches and points, any of which will make the wind hook, swirl and up-sweep, and any of a dozen other tricks that will tell a mature buck that it’s time to get out of Dodge. It is almost impossible to kill a mature buck with a bow during irregular wind conditions. Some properties are almost impossible to hunt because of constantly swirling winds. It took us years to figure this out, but it has been proven to be true time and time again. We always look for properties with clean air when shopping for hunting land. Clean-air properties have gradual, sweeping slopes that allow air to pass smoothly over them. If you own a 200-acre piece of hunting ground and 100 acres is relatively unhuntable because of dirty, swirling air movement, you are looking at a partial glass ceiling. You wind up hunting the same places again and again, and that is never good when you are after big old bucks. Some properties simply hunt better than others, and getting beaten by the wind every time out is one of those glass ceilings you don’t know is there until you start lighting smoke bombs or releasing wind floaters to truly understand what is really going on in the air

Access How you access a property for hunting is also a make-or-break issue. The best properties can be accessed from multiple locations and in every kind of wind. The worst have a single access point, and by the time you are in position to hunt, every deer on the place knows you are out and about. You might grow them, but you will rarely, if ever, kill them if they know every time you are in the house. If your scent blows over your entire property on your way in or your truck’s headlights light up every buck on the North 40 heading out, you are at a distinct disadvantage when hunting mature deer. During the past 25 years, we have gradually developed complete network access roads that allow us to get in and out of our hunting locations without being detected. Through time, we have closed off all the old roads (that didn’t work) and replaced them with a network of roads built with hunting in mind. This is one glass ceiling that usually can be shattered. Stealthy hunting is a critical ingredient in hunting mature deer, and you can’t be stealthy if you can’t enter and exit a property without every deer on the property knowing they are being hunted. But it doesn’t end there. You neighbors can also screw up your deer hunting by tipping off all the deer in the neighborhood that the hunt is on. You can’t do much about your neighbors, but sometimes you can fix access issues on property. Boundary lines and/or carving in new roads or building crossings can often be a solution. Physical limitations such as lakes, rivers and vertical fall offs can seldom be fixed. There are all kinds of reasons for hitting the glass ceiling as far as age and antlers go. Unrealistic goal-setting is obvious, but most landowners are able to see their way around this issue and get real in a hurry. More common are the invisible ones that truly are holding landowner/hunters back from growing or killing mature bucks. The ones mentioned above are ones we commonly see. It can be tough, but your job is to put a plan together to overcome these issues. W www.whitetailinstitute.com


Understanding Protein and How It Fits In Your Management Plan By Matt Harper

requently, when someone receives a small piece of knowledge, it makes them a semi-authority on the subject. No doubt, the information age we live in has proliferated and expanded this condition. Often, the information you receive is inaccurate, but if you read it online or via oldfashioned print, it has to be gospel, right? Even if what you have read or been told is true, it might be only a small piece of a much bigger picture and might contribute to using the information incorrectly.

Photo by Matt Harper

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Case in point. About three years ago, I took my youngest daughter to watch a high school football game. By the time the third quarter ended, our high school team was getting slaughtered. A couple of ladies behind us had been yelling advice most of the game, and because it was the third quarter and the team was behind by three touchdowns, the advice was growing to a crescendo. During one play, the quarterback dropped back to pass, scrambled and ended up tucking the ball and taking a sack. “You got to get rid of that ball,” and, “Throw the darn thing,” were the comments tossed at the young quarterback. Those statements could have hit on the right idea, but not when there was no one open and throwing the ball would have probably ended up in an interception. I know that because I played quarterback in high school. I had tried both options and threw my fair share of picks. I turned to my daughter and said loud enough for several rows of folks to hear me, “You know what sweetie, I have always felt that if you have never experienced first-hand what you are giving advice on, your advice counts for squat. I mean, I have never given birth, so I would not give an opinion on how to deal with a contraction.” My daughter looked at me like I was insane, but I didn’t hear any more comments from behind me the rest of the game. The whitetail world has no shortage of information on any number of topics. TV, magazines, blogs, websites, trade shows — you name it, and there are plenty of places to give and receive deer knowledge. For the most part, it is good information that, when applied correctly and under the right circumstances, will produce good outcomes. Bad results are a derivative of improper application or not realizing how this information fits into a bigger picture. For example, I heard a guy on TV say you should follow up a deer right away after a shot because the coyote population was increasing so much that the dogs would scavenge your future deer steaks before you get to it. Well, if you know you have a great hit and have a lot of coyotes in the area, maybe that's true. However, if your shot was so-so, I would suggest waiting even if you have coyotes in the area. Jumping a wounded deer that has not yet expired will most likely leave you with nothing to take home. I have also heard people say that a particular food plot variety is the absolute best on the market. Even if it is “the best,” there are

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Bill Winke shows off a monster buck he harvested. He uses food plots to increase the protein levels for his bucks. This will help these deer grow larger antlers.

other factors to consider. Imperial Whitetail Clover is the best food plot product on the market, but if you try and plant it in a sandy, low pH soil, you will not get the results you are looking for. But without doubt, one of the most used but least understood terms in the deer nutrition world is protein. Protein has become the magic nutrient that is to deer nutrition what Kleenex is to facial tissue. If there is a conversation about deer nutrition, protein will certainly lead off the chat. But what do you really know about protein? What is it, why is it important and how does it fit into your management program?

What is Protein? Protein is defined as naturally occurring complex combinations of amino acids that contain carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Most protein values you see or hear about are given as crude protein. Crude protein is the total protein value of a plant or supplement. However, protein can be further broken down into amino acids such as lysine, methionine, threonine, leucine, cystine, arginine and so on. Each one of these amino acids has a specific function, and the configuration of these amino acids varies between food sources. In other words, two food sources might have the same crude protein

value, but one might have more lysine than the other. The importance of amino acid profiles in feed stuffs has been studied far more in mono-gastric animals such as pigs and chickens than it has in ruminant animals. Most swine and poultry diets are not formulated based on crude protein but rather are balanced based on specific amino acid levels. Ruminants have the ability, because of rumen microbial populations, to produce a protein in the rumen called microbial protein. Of course, to produce this protein, the rumen microbes feed off of the food ingested by the animal. Highly digestible protein feed stuffs are needed by the microbial population to produce high levels of microbial protein. In fact, digestible protein, or DP, is a commonly used value when formulating ruminant diets. In simple terms, DP is the value of protein used by the animal when measuring the amount of protein ingested versus the amount of protein found in the feces. Ruminants also have the ability to convert nonprotein nitrogen, or NPN, into microbial protein via the rumen microbial population. Although NPN is not true protein, the nitrogen component is used by the microbial population to produce protein. In addition to microbial protein, certain protein sources will not be broken down by the microbial population and will exit the rumen intact. www.whitetailinstitute.com


Photo by Bill Winke

These proteins are called bypass proteins, as they bypass degradation in the rumen. Bypass protein can then be used and digested further down the digestive system. Although microbial protein is typically sufficient for average growth and maintenance, high-producing ruminants can benefit from bypass protein. For example, a high-producing dairy cow will often be fed a certain percentage of bypass protein because the microbial population might not be able to produce enough protein to sustain the higher level of production.

What Does Protein Do? Protein has many functions, but chiefly it is the building block of the muscle and bone. Protein is also found in many other organs and is a major component of blood. Essentially, protein is needed to grow and produce things, with muscle and bone being two principle structures. However, protein is also vital for lactation/milk production, as the mammary system will not produce maximum amounts of milk without enough protein in the diet. Aside from growth, protein is also needed for body maintenance. For example, weightlifters increase muscle mass by first breaking muscle down (via weightlifting) and then let the body build the muscle back up to a larger size. A crucial part

of this regimen is the consumption of large amounts of protein to supply the body what it needs to rebuild the muscle. In terms of bone growth, large amounts of protein are required during the growth and development of the skeletal system. In fact, young growing bone is composed primarily of protein. Protein in a deer’s diet will contribute to all the aforementioned functions, including muscle growth, bone growth and lactation. As with all young, growing animals, protein plays a major part in a fawn’s diet. Fawns are growing muscle and bone, both of which require large amounts of protein. Fawns require as much as 26 percent or more in the diet the first few months of their lives. Most of this protein early in life is found in the milk supplied by the doe. Thus, does require a great deal of protein to produce this protein-rich food supply to their fawns. A doe’s protein requirements are considered to be around 18 percent during lactation. If protein is limited in the doe’s diet, she will produce less milk, and therefore the young fawn(s) will receive less protein for growth. It is important to note that malnourished fawns have less chance of surviving, and those that survive might be stunted the rest of their life. Protein’s role in a buck’s diet is probably the most unique within the deer herd. Antlers are grown and shed each year, and because antlers are basically growing bone that is outside of the body, a high protein level is needed in the diet to maximize this growth. A velvet antler is approximately 80 percent protein in the early growth stages and a hardened antler is 45 percent protein. Further, when you consider that protein is needed for other functions in the body, such as maintenance, and that these functions take precedence over antler growth, it becomes apparent that a lack of protein in the diet will likely result in stunted antler growth.

yourself what the protein digestibility is. That might be difficult to ascertain, but on a practical level, if a food plot forage is highly digestible, the protein in that food plot forage is more than likely highly digestible. So if the goal is to get protein to the deer herd, look at the characteristics of the forage. Heavy-leafed, thin-stemmed forages like those in Imperial Whitetail Clover and AlfaRack Plus tend to be highly digestible to deer, thus the protein found in these will be readily available to the animal. If you see the words bypass protein, you know that protein escapes rumen degradation to be used farther down the digestive system and could provide growth benefits. However, you also know that microbial protein is vital, as it is the major protein source to the animal, so it is a need that must be taken care of first before there is any need to worry about bypass protein. There is little wonder why the word protein has become so popular in the deer hunting and management world. Protein plays a crucial role in all segments of the deer herd. A lack of protein in the diet will undoubtedly lead to a poorer quality deer herd. In many cases, protein is lacking in the natural environment, especially if you look at protein levels over time. Protein is highest when plants are young and growing and drops along with digestibility as the forage matures. However, deer require high amounts of protein throughout the entire spring and summer. The protein level found in natural food sources has been shown to average 8 percent to 12 percent, far lower than the 16 percent to 18 percent needed for maximum antler growth and doe lactation. Thus, a dramatic result can be seen when a highly digestible, high-protein food plot is added to supplement the deer’s diet — especially, if that food plot maintains a high protein level throughout spring and summer.

Conclusion Putting this Knowledge to Use So with that being said, how do you use the things we have discussed or derive any relevance from it? First, I think it is valuable to gain knowledge and understanding of a topic even if not all of it is applicable. You might not study the amino acid profile of a particular food plot forage, but knowing that there is more to protein than just the crude protein value could be beneficial. For example, when you look at a protein value, you might ask

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It might be nearly impossible to know everything thing about a given subject, but more knowledge is always better than less. Knowledge leads to better actions and, probably more importantly, leads to better questions. Although we know that protein is important in a deer’s diet, knowing the details on why, what and how can help you in your decisions on how to best use protein in your management plan. W Vol. 23, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 15


30-06 Mineral Key to Shooting a 180-Inch 9-Point

Fortunately, I found out the buck survived that season after I saw him in late February. That was my first look at him during good light, and he was still carrying both sides, but what really caught my attention was the lack of white hair on his head, and that is how he got nicknamed “Dark Horse.” Just like a lot of hunters, I don’t own my own land, so I have to get permission or fork out money for leased ground. This makes it difficult when it comes to having any room for establishing food plots, but it’s perfect for providing nutrition by establishing 30-06 mineral sites. I’ve been using strategically placed mineral sites for years, using them to provide nutrition but also to monitor the giant bucks I have hunted almost year round. I get started in March

and will monitor these sites right up to the day that the bucks in my area shed their antlers. 30-06 Minerals have been a critical ingredient in my success in learning how to kill some world-class animals. One of the coolest parts of using mineral sites is watching a buck grow throughout summer, and the Dark Horse was no exception. As he grew throughout summer, I began to notice the buck's rack had oddly grown cleaner that year, losing his stickers and his triple brows. One thing didn’t change though: He was still a world-class animal, and it looked like he might even grow a Boone & Crockett 8-point frame. I was out of state for the first few weeks of September, but one week before the Ohio opener, I was back and anxious to check my trail cameras in hopes Dark

By Adam Hayes, Ohio Photos by the Author

his story begins two seasons ago, when a giant whitetail showed up at one of my 30-06 mineral sites during late summer. I had no idea the buck even existed before that September day, but by the looks of his enormous cage, I knew he was an animal worth concentrating my efforts on. His typical 9point frame looked to be world class, and with a couple of sticker points and triple brows on both sides, I guessed the buck to be in the 180-inch range. I saw him one time that season, but it was too dark to video him. 16 WHITETAIL NEWS

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The author with Dark Horse.

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Horse was still in the area. In the three weeks I was gone, my cameras were full of pictures, but none of Dark Horse since he had shed his velvet. Uh oh. That was concerning to me, because I know how a mature buck can vanish when he sheds his velvet. So my plan was to hope for a good wind, slip into an observation stand on the edge of the property and get a look at him before season opened up. When I finally got the wind I needed, three days before season, I slid into my stand and hoped for the best. Right before dark that evening, I saw him rise from the beans. Fortunately, he fed off in the opposite direction which allowed me to leave the area undetected. For the next couple of days I watched

him get up in nearly the same spot almost every night. Unfortunately, on opening day the wind was wrong for that stand and there was no way I was going to risk a morning hunt right in the middle of his food source or chance getting to my original stand in the afternoon again with him bedded within 30 yards of it. Well, if I couldn’t get close to where he was coming from, I was going to have to concentrate on where he was going to. That’s when I took advantage of a mid-afternoon rainstorm to hang a stand in the area where he was exiting the field. Late in the afternoon on my first sit in the new stand, Dark Horse followed a small 6-pointer into the field. It was getting dark fast, and at that pace, the pair wouldn’t cover the 200 yards in time for a

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shot. When I had just about given up hope, the bucks quit feeding and began moving a little quicker, closing the distance to my position. When they reached the point in the field where they had normally turned and cut into the creek bed, they continued right down the middle of the field, leaving 60 yards between me and my trophy. When Dark Horse came as close as he was going to get, I hit him with the range-finder: 62 yards. Fortunately, he stopped again to feed. I came to full draw, rested my 60-yard pin on his chest and released. When my arrow disappeared in the giant buck, my two-year quest for Dark Horse — and his luck — finally came to an end. W

Vol. 23, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 17


REAL HUNTERS DO THE TALKING about Whitetail Institute products‌

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y tale begins back in December two seasons ago when I saw this buck for the first time. I was sitting on a 5-acre food plot on a power line planted with Extreme and Imperial Whitetail Clover. We had a lot of rain last year and we had great results with the food plots. In fact our results were so good with the combination of Extreme and Imperial Whitetail Clover we have planted them in all our food plots.

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y main hunting land is 169 acres but only 8 acres of that is wooded. Since planting Imperial Whitetail Clover, PowerPlant and Winter-Greens I’ve seen bigger and healthier deer year round. I shot my biggest buck to date over a Winter-Greens food plot. He had 15 points and field-dressed 220-plus pounds. I owe this buck to Whitetail Institute and hope for many more to come.

Ben Davis — Georgia

Ryan Gearheart — Indiana

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am 28 years old and have been hunting whitetails for approximately 10 years. Two years ago our family purchased 160 acres in Rice County, KS. This ground is known as the Sand Hills and as the name suggest it is not the best soil to grow crops on. We knew there were a lot of deer in the area but we really didn’t have much on our ground to give them a reason to cross the fence from the neighbors and hang out on our ground. That was until we burned some ground, worked in some lime and planted Tall Tine Tubers! Even though there was an extremely high content of sand in the soil the turnips grew great! There was an amazing amount of forage and the deer could not get enough. It was nothing to see 20 deer hitting our small 2-acre plots during an evening hunt. Thanks to the Whitetail Institute for a wonderful product that has given our family some great memories already. Enclosed is my deer (photo 1) and my older brothers deer (photo 2) (his biggest to date) both shot over our Tall Tine Tubers plots.

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Brian Kramer — Kansas

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It was just before dark when this deer came out of the pines about 20 yards from my stand. I got a good look at him and decided since it was the last week of the season that I would pass on him and hope that he could evade neighboring hunters for just a few more days and make it to next year. He did indeed make it as I began getting pictures of him as soon as I put my trail cameras out this past July. There were several other good bucks on the property but this deer was definitely ruling the roost. Once deer season opened I saw him for the first time on Nov. 1 on a food plot but couldn’t get a good shot. I hunted the deer nearly every day for the next seven days. I saw him again while in my climber just 100 yards from the food plot on Nov. 8th but he was chasing a doe and I could not get him to stop. Nov. 12 was my last day of vacation (the last 30 minutes of daylight) and he finally came out into the plot at 5:30 p.m. He immediately ran off two spikes from the plot and then I got the crosshairs on his shoulder and squeezed off the shot. It was 5:38 p.m. He dropped right where he was. I was shaking so bad and my heart was pounding so hard that I could not believe I had made a 209 yard shot that hit exactly where I had aimed. I know this buck is not even close to scoring like a Kansas or Illinois deer, but for middle Georgia, this is a dang good deer. My taxidermist green scored him at 142 3/8. There is no way I could have harvested this buck without Whitetail Institute products and a whole lot of patience. Thanks Whitetail Institute for having such great products that allow hunters like myself to achieve maximum potential for our Whitetail herd.

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e started planting Whitetail Institute products 8 years ago on our 200-acre northern PA property. We planted Imperial Whitetail Clover, Chicory Plus, and Winter-Greens. We have been consistently harvesting Pope and Young bucks for the last six years. Winter-Greens have been consistently effective and rewarding, providing a food source through late winter. Chicory Plus has served as an early season food source and in dry years the chicory provides green attraction when the clover goes dormant. “Keeps the table set!� Enclosed is a picture of a bow-kill taken on the edge of an Imperial Whitetail Clover field.

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W.R. McClintic — Pennsylvania

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ecause a warm front had moved in and shut down signs of the pre rut, I did not hold out a whole lot of hope of seeing a mature buck when I brought my daughter Alyssa down for her whitetail hunt. But a cold front was moving in and I could tell things were going to be different right from the start of our hunt and sensed that my daughter had brought “lady luck� with her, as we immediately started seeing many deer including some younger bucks. They were trading back and forth from their bedding area to a 3-acre food plot that we planted with Imperial Whitetail Clover mixed with Whitetail Oats Plus in early August. We were seeing more deer than ever with this planting! After several hours of watching many deer and seeing some chasing going on, Alyssa spotted a nice 10pointer coming in. Alyssa said, “Daddy I’m shaking� (Yep, that’s what we call buck fever honey!). I got the video camera ready and was ranging the distances that I thought her shot might be if he kept coming on his course. He did finally get within shooting range but he was behind some brush. He ended up standing there for several minutes until he finally just turned and walked off. That’s how big 10-pointers get to be big 10-pointers,

they just have that sixth sense! Over the next two days we saw very large numbers of deer passing back and forth from the bedding area to the food plot, and had seen many bucks chasing does, but not that 10-pointer. On Alyssa’s last evening of hunting we again started seeing many does and fawns. I told her not to be discouraged since the bucks were chasing does and we had plenty of does heading to the food plot. About a half hour before dark we spotted a buck with 14-inch spikes that we had affectionately named “Texas Longhorn.� Because of the unique head gear, I was toying with the idea of letting Alyssa take him. When Alyssa said with a very excited voice, “there’s a big buck!� I did not see him at first as he was behind brush and out about 100 yards. I finally spotted him and was watching him through binoculars when I saw him turn away from a doe and angle our way. He got to 43 yards, easily within Alyssa’s accurate shooting distance but I told her to wait to see if he gets closer before taking that shot. He did! He came to 33 yards and turned and exposed his vitals. I then said “shoot.� There was no hesitation at all! I heard the shot of the crossbow, the arrow/bolt found its mark and the rest is history. It wasn’t until I walked up to the buck that I saw how big he really was. I have taken many large bucks in my time but never an 8-pointer of this caliber. His G2 measured 12 inches alone and the mass of the rack was huge! No doubt the Whitetail Institute products provide great nutrition and are helping us grow them big. I don’t know how Alyssa fought off the buck fever on this one, but I am very proud of her. This was Alyssa’s third buck, though she had never taken one of this caliber! Being a father and seeing the “night before Christmas� type of excitement in Alyssa’s eyes makes my personal hunts secondary to me. My father and I have been using Whitetail Institute products ever since I can remember. They have always brought us success. However, this marked the first year that we mixed Whitetail Oats Plus with the Imperial Whitetail Clover and planted in August. The deer absolutely LOVE it. I have never seen so many deer in a food plot before! We will follow this model every year now. Thank you Whitetail Institute!

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ix years ago my wife and I were fortunate enough to purchase a small 50-acre farm in south central Ohio. It was approximately 25 acres of wooded areas and 25 acres of pasture. I had dreamed my whole life of being able to hobby farm and manage my own hunting area. I immediately scouted it and hung stands. Five years ago I planted three Imperial Whitetail Clover food plots and have harvested nice bucks every year. The first and second seasons I shot two up-andcoming 2-1/2-year-olds by accident. (Bottom two deer in photo.) Three years ago I harvested a nice 10-point (upper left in photo). Two years ago I killed a huge 8point (upper right in photo). Last year I killed the monster in photo 2. He scored 162 4/8 inches. The bucks just keep getting bigger. I just want to say thanks Whitetail Institute for all the help and a great product that lets guys like me who are doing everything on a shoe string budget be able to have a true hunting paradise.

Pat Harm — Ohio

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Greg Abbas — Michigan

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(Continued on page 66) Vol. 23, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 19


New From the Whitetail Institute —

You Make The Call By William Cousins

The Whitetail Institute is proud to announce its newest forage product: Imperial Whitetail Winter Peas Plus. Put simply, Winter Peas Plus is different from other “pea” food plot products for fall and winter — very different. In this article, I’ll explain why, but I’m not going to suggest that you try Winter Peas Plus based solely on what you’ll read here. That’s because if you know what to look for, you’ll reach that decision on your own. Check Out Other Fall/Winter “Pea” Products Most hunters know that winter peas generally grow quickly and start attracting deer as soon as they sprout, and that some keep doing so through winter. That’s why there are so many products on the market with “winter peas” on the package. Have you ever considered, however, what percentage of those products is actually represented by peas? Winter Peas Plus is more than 80 percent peas. When you’re choosing a “winter pea” food plot product to try next fall, keep in mind the old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

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Nowhere is it more true than with fall/winter “pea” products for deer. Believe it or not, some such products actually contain less than 10 percent peas. And to make matters even worse, some make up the difference with lower-quality forage components that don’t add much to the plot in the way of attraction. The good news for consumers is that federal law requires that all food plot seed products carry an ingredient tag on the package. That’s the first thing you should look at to make sure the product really is what its name implies.

What’s in Winter Peas Plus? The peas. There are two pea varieties in Winter Peas Plus. Both varieties are sugar rich, high protein and cold tolerant. In side-by-side cafeteria tests across North America, these varieties consistently proved themselves many times more attractive to deer than any other variety the Whitetail Institute tested. Even so, the Whitetail Institute continued research and testing of the pea varieties it selected in combination with other, complementary forages to ensure the new product would produce up to the Whitetail Instiwww.whitetailinstitute.com


tute’s relentless expectations. One reason the Whitetail Institute researches blends so heavily is that it’s rare for one type of forage plant to provide optimum performance in all the categories for which the Whitetail Institute tests. That’s why most Institute forage products are blends of multiple forage components, which are painstakingly selected and then combined in optimum ratios as shown by Whitetail Institute testing. The pea varieties the Whitetail Institute selected for Winter Peas Plus are so highly attractive — attracting deer to them as soon as they sprout out of the ground — that they can suffer from early overgrazing when planted alone. Accordingly, the Whitetail Institute added the Plus components to act as a cover crop for the peas to help reduce the likelihood of overgrazing and add even more early- and late-season attraction.

The Plus components In addition to the pea varieties, Winter Peas Plus contains small amounts of three other forages: Whitetail Oats, a winter lettuce and a specially selected radish. Whitetail Oats are included to increase fall attraction even further and to act as a cover crop for the peas. Whitetail Oats establish very quickly and, like the pea varieties in Winter Peas Plus, are cold tolerant and have proven themselves extremely attractive to deer. The two other Plus components in Winter Peas Plus, a winter lettuce and radish, also act as cover crops to help protect the peas from early overgrazing, and they provide additional forage for deer later into the cold months. Each Plus component has been carefully selected and combined in optimum ratios with the other forages in Winter Peas Plus to maximize the initial and long-lasting performance of the stand as a deer forage.

Other Performance Considerations As mentioned, Winter Peas Plus contains more than 80 percent peas, consisting of two highly attractive pea varieties, Plus Whitetail Oats, a winter lettuce and radish that act as cover crops for the peas and add forage variety and attraction. Even though that’s likely enough information to convince you to try Winter Peas Plus, don’t forget that when you’re talking about Whitetail Institute forage products, what’s on the bag is as important as what’s in the bag: specifically the Whitetail Institute’s name. The Whitetail Institute has been providing folks like you with industry-leading forage products for a quarter century and relies on repeat business. That’s why we put maximum effort into research, development and testing to make sure that every Whitetail Institute forage product is the very best the Institute can make so that customers get the results they expect. That includes using only those forage components that outperform all others tested by the Whitetail Institute in a wide range of categories. The most important are attractiveness to deer, nutritional quality and sustained palatability. Other performance categories include how rapidly the stand establishes and grows, tolerance of heat, cold and drought, resistance to disease and other factors. That’s true of all Whitetail Institute products, including Winter Peas Plus. Winter Peas Plus is available in 11-pound bags that plant 1/4-acre. If you’d like more information about new Winter Peas Plus, call the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants at (800) 688-3030. W For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

Call

800-688-3030

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

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WHITETAIL NEWS 21


What Mark Do You Want To Leave? By R.G. Bernier Photos by the Author

o know a man is to know what activities he chooses to pursue and the manner in which he pursues them,” Lee Nisbet wrote. It wouldn’t take anyone very long to discover my love for and passionate pursuit of the whitetail deer. However, there was a time early in my deer hunting career that, because of poor judgment, immaturity and selfish ambition, I believed my deer hunting conquests would be something of value to be left in my wake. I romanticized this and was of the opinion that it really mattered. I had bought into what deer historian Rob Wegner glamorized in his prose of yesteryear's deer slayers: “ … nostalgic memories of their daring feats will linger on; memories of their endless pursuits of mammoth bucks, their victorious conflicts with the hooves and horns of their wounded quarry and the shattering effect of their deer kill statistics.”

Indeed, I had unspoken aspirations of becoming the best whitetail deer hunter there ever was. This egocentric notion can best be understood by a conversation that transpired in the baseball movie The Natural. Roy Hobbs, talking to his boyhood girlfriend Iris Gains, said, “My life didn’t turn out the way I expected. I could've been better. I could’ve broken every record in the book.” Iris responds, “And then?” “And then? And then when I walk down the street, people would’ve looked and they would’ve said, ‘There goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was in the game.’”

“It’s not how you’re buried; it’s how you’re remembered.” — John Wayne

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pense of your children wondering why their daddy is gone again? How significant can even the largest set of antlers be if a lonely wife is left home counting the financial cost and smarting from feeling cheated by an animal? Regrettably, we live in a culture that now glorifies records rather than character, achievement instead of nobility, and seeks immediate gratification regardless of how little the investment to attain it. Gen. George S. Patton, despite his vanity, was intuitive enough to recognize this: “All glory is fleeting.” The people that we try hardest to impress, those whose applause echoes in our mind and shores up our insecurities ultimately become as fickle as a thermal breeze when we fail to live up to the unrealistic hype. Where will those people be when you take your final breath?

Family

The reality to that conceit is summed up rather glaringly in the book of Peter: “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls.” Iris was spot on when she told Roy, “I believe we have two lives.” “How…what do you mean?” Roy asked. Iris said, “The life we learn with and the life we live with after that.” Nisbet continued from the opening line: “It is through activities that our character is formed, deformed and reformed. In reflecting on our activities, we recognize who we are and what kind of person we’re becoming.” I asked myself if I were to succeed and come to complete fulfillment of all of my illustrious deer hunting dreams, then what? What have I actually accomplished beyond self-realized goals, bragging rights, influence and perhaps someone one day saying as I walk down the road, “There goes R.G. Bernier, the best deer hunter that ever was?” Is that the mark I want to leave? Is that a legacy that will have any effect on my children, grandchildren or future generations of hunters?

Perspective Thankfully, those idolatrous aspirations have long since been put to death. Yet, it doesn’t take much of a look to realize that many of the same non-endearing qualities that I once personified plague far too many like-minded hunters in some form or fashion. After all, what’s another giant whitetail killed at your hand if it came at the ex-

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Although I continue to pursue whitetails with unbridled passion, let me assure you that there’s not a deer walking the planet that can compete with my love for my family. My sweetie-pie (wife of 33 years) is my best and most cherished friend. My children are gifts that I treasure. And my grandchildren, well they are just the greatest, period. If you want to see me get genuinely excited, it won’t be as a result of a big deer — not that that won’t quicken my pulse. But to really get me energized, just tell me my grandkids are coming to visit. In his poignant hunting film Searching For West, Western big-game hunter Mark Seacat engages the viewer through his own emotional story about his journey that has taken him from hunting high in the Montana forests, which consumed many days a year, to a much different perspective on his personal pursuits. Seacat, facing internal conflict between his personal hunting goals and his desire to be with his newborn son, West, makes a decision that undoubtedly will have a lasting impact on his legacy. In the narrative, Seacat said, “In 10 days, archery season opens, and people are expecting me to be hunting.” Yet as the battle within continues, he reminds himself, “Commitments are more important than hunting. Like the birth of a son.” He goes on to lament, while fully immersed in the hunt, “I’m missing this time with my newborn son; time that I’ll never get back.” As the season wears on without success, having switched from archery to a rifle, he is a man alone in the wilderness facing harsh elements, the possibility of an empty game pole and the continual mental battle waging within. Mark then asks himself, “Do I continue to hunt like this? Do I go after these personal goals that may or may not be important to my family?” I can easily relate to those internal struggles. A few years ago, facing a decision as to what was most important to me with but three days left of a deer season, while still holding an unfilled tag, I asked myself, “Do I continue to hunt or leave to be home in order to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my family, especially my one-year-old grandson, who traveled down from Canada with his parents for the occasion?” This was yet another landmark moment for a very goal-oriented guy who desperately wants to succeed. Without looking back and certainly having no regrets, I hurriedly packed my hunting gear, said my goodbyes and hastily left deer camp to spend three priceless days with those who loved me most. Mark came to that conclusion: “I then realized those goals were becoming detrimental to the experiences I could be having back home. It’s crazy how life changes, how your priorities can change so quickly.” A newborn son or even a one-year-old grandson can definitely change the way a man thinks. Mark continued: “It was this mowww.whitetailinstitute.com


ment that taught me that I needed to be better at being a father, that I needed to be better at being a husband and hunting was something in my life that could wait.”

Contributions It is never easy to recognize the impact that you might have on another life. Sometimes, that influence doesn’t fully mature until years later, after you’re gone. All you can ever truly give someone is yourself, which encompasses your time, wisdom, influence, know-how, loyalty, love and generosity. I smile inwardly as I watch my hunting partner, a man in whom I’ve invested seven seasons of teaching, unravel a complex tracking situation and be standing within 30-yards of the unsuspecting buck. I’m pleased when I receive notes from readers thanking me for sharing with them what I believe to be the best week to hunt — and they succeed. It’s gratifying when those you’ve invested in ultimately find deer hunting success as a result of those efforts. It’s fulfilling to learn how appreciative countless hunters are of shared behavior insight and captured deer images that I’ve brought out of the wild and into their lives, all to help them better understand an animal I’ve had the good fortune to be intimate with for a good portion of my adult life. It’s humbling when your daughter kisses you on the cheek and whispers in your ear, “Thank you for being a great dad.” And it is heart-melting when your three-year-old grandson says, “I’m Gramp’s buddy boy.” None of these or any other such instances would have ever come to fruition had my chief end been to selfishly drag another buck out of the bush.

Epitaph The 14th century Scottish hero William Wallace voiced an inspiring rally cry to his fellow Scotsmen: “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” Death is indeed final, and however you and I are ultimately remembered, beyond gracious platitudes respectfully offered by graveside mourners, has everything to do with how we lived. It’s inevitable that upon my passing I will leave a bunch of stuffed deer heads, antlers and hunting mementos. But if that is all — if that is all my life amounted to — it sure wouldn’t be much. After all, despite those trophies being meaningful to me as a result of the memories they engender, I’m realistic enough to know they will probably be wrangled over, sold, given away, relegated to a dusty attic, placed in a yard sale or destroyed. No, I want my mark to count for more than just dusty old deer heads. The question was asked of me, “If today was your last day, how was your mark left?” Although I could attempt self-aggrandizing prose regarding the significance of the life I’ve led, I won’t. I cannot. This judgment will be left to historians, reviewers and those whose lives I’ve affected — friends and loved ones. I can only hope that their memories will be generous. Perhaps surprisingly, despite the whitetail deer being such an integral part of my life and livelihood, I’d not wish any mention of it on my tombstone. Here is what I desire to be etched in my final remembrance: Loved the Lord his God faithfully Loving husband Benevolent dad and granddad Loyal friend If I live up to that inscription, the mark I aspire to make will have been securely left as a legacy meaningful to those who loved me. W

A great Food Plot star ts with proper seed bed preparation. Land Pride offers a wide range of products that will give you the upper hand in the fall. From cut ting to tilling, Land Pride has you covered. With our DH25 and DH35 Series Disc Harrows you get excellent soil penetration to cut and bur y existing vegetation, creating an ideal food plot seed bed. To ensure success, Land Pride also offers planting and mowing solutions, too. See our full line of American-made implements at landpride.com. Then find a local dealer and get more work done.

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CONSISTENTLY LEADING THE WAY...

Vol. 23, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 25


The WEED DOCTOR By W. Carroll Johnson, III, Ph.D.,, Weed Scientist and Agronomist

Site Preparation Weed Control: When Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures ike everybody else, professionally I had to “pay my dues.” In 1984, I was the newest and youngest by a substantial margin in my department which meant that I was assigned the duties that nobody else wanted. For the weed scientists, that meant crop assignments on which to conduct weed science educational programs. One of my early hodgepodge of unrelated crop assignments was weed control in Christmas tree plantings. At that time, weed scientists typically viewed weed control strictly as which herbicide to use and I was no different in that regard. Nobody wanted Christmas tree weed control since there were very few herbicide choices and successful weed control in that system did not rely on a simple approach. That attitude was embarrassing and the commodity deserved more scientific support than it was given. Nationwide, Christmas trees are planted on more than 300,000 acres and more than 17 million trees are harvested annually. In North Carolina alone, Christmas tree production is worth more than $100,000,000. In many ways, weed control in Christmas tree plantings is very similar to weed control in food plots — complex. Complexity is due to no single approach to weed control will

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work and successful weed control depends on a broad-based strategy. Weed control in Christmas tree plantings begins months before trees are planted and this is termed site preparation weed control. Considering that Christmas trees are often planted in remote and marginally arable sites, it is easy to see another interesting parallel with weed control in food plots. Food plots are often established in newly cleared sites in forested areas. Food plot sites can be along old logging roads, ramps, or any clearing in the timber large enough for a food plot. Regardless of the previous land use, there will certainly be a proliferation of perennial plants that refuse to surrender and be easily controlled. Common perennial plants that may be encountered include briars, blackberry, vines, trumpet creeper, and dozens of species of deciduous tree saplings sprouting from old rootstock. Of course, there

will be the typical perennials like common bermudagrass, quackgrass, johnsongrass, broomsedge, and nutsedges. Weeds in the newly cleared sites defy normal control efforts and require aggressive mowing, tillage, and herbicides to achieve any reasonable level of success.

Tillage and Mowing Mowing, which includes the heavy-duty ‘mulching’ using tracked vehicles, is a logical first step. Mowing or mulching rough areas will not kill saplings or any other perennial weed. We all know that. Mowing weakens perennial weeds which greatly improves subsequent weed control efforts. Mowing also enhances tillage by shredding the tops of tall plants which improves the operation of any tillage implement. Mowing stimulates succulent re-growth, which is often more suscepti-

Food plots in remote sites are often the best locations for hunting purposes, but can be difficult to manage for successful perennial food plots. www.whitetailinstitute.com


ble to herbicide uptake than older, tougher foliage. This is an essential step for successful herbicide performance, which is discussed later. Initial tillage of rough non-improved sites is a nasty job and must be carefully conducted to prevent damage to equipment. This is a case where large (heavy-duty) disk harrows are the preferred choice. Harrow size is not necessarily the width of the implement. In this context, harrow size subjectively refers to diameter of harrow blades and robustness of the frame. Site preparation tillage is typically the site’s first tillage in many years. This takes substantial horsepower and a heavy implement to cut through vegetative material and compacted soil. One tillage pass is rarely sufficient for site preparation weed control. I have observed in my recent weed control experiences that tillage during dry periods is far more effective in controlling perennial weeds than tillage during rainy periods. Damaged perennial weeds can survive if tilled when soils are wet or if it rains shortly afterwards. I am a hobbyist food plotter like a lot of Whitetail News readers and fully understand that scheduling conflicts and logistics heavily influence when I work on food plots. Those real-world considerations often trump working around ideal weather conditions. However, this is one of the rare situa-

tions when drier conditions are better than wetter conditions.

Herbicides for Site Preparation This is the best role for non-selective herbicides in food plots and the focal point is certain formulations of glyphosate (Roundup, Accord and others). Glyphosate is well known and highly versatile. For site preparation uses, glyphosate must be applied at very high rates to control perennial weeds and woody saplings. Steps must be taken to ensure maximum efficacy; applying glyphosate at a high rate suitable to control perennial weeds and when environmental conditions are ideal. Use of an appropriate adjuvant is also a wise investment. Refer to the glyphosate label for guidance. In site preparation when woody species are often targeted, glyphosate should be tankmixed with systemic broadleaf herbicides like triclopyr (Garlon 3A) and/or 2,4-D. These chemicals are powerful broadleaf herbicides that are synergistic with glyphosate, with amine salt formulations preferred due to improved mixing qualities. Triclopyr and 2,4-D significantly improve brush control over glyphosate alone, with triclopyr being the superior tank-mix partner in terms of efficacy. In addition, glyphosate controls annual and perennial grasses that are not controlled by

Heavy vegetation often requires mowing, tillage, and systemic herbicides to control perennial weeds. For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

triclopyr and 2,4-D. None of these herbicides have appreciable long-term soil activity at common use rates which makes them ideal for site preparation prior to planting food plots. That said, there is always the disclaimer that confuses the matter. Under certain conditions, triclopyr, 2,4-D, and (to a far lesser extent) glyphosate can persist in the soil and injure desirable forages if seeded too soon after application. This is not a certainty, but still warrants caution. A good rule of thumb is to apply combinations of triclopyr, 2,4-D, and/or glyphosate four to six weeks prior to seeding the forage to minimize chances for injury. This is not as restrictive as it may seem on the surface. These herbicides, alone or in combination, need time to control woody species. The delay between treatment and seeding the forage to ensure crop safety basically equals the delay needed for optimum weed control. When everything proceeds according to plan, these herbicide combinations are typically applied late-summer prior to planting fall food plots and will provide outstanding weed control that is noticeable for about 12 months. Re-growth of deciduous saplings and other perennial weeds will soon become evident and retreatment may be needed. Retreatment can be spot sprays or broadcast treatment at lower herbicide rates. Given this likely course of action, initial forage plantings in these sites should be annuals with retreatment between plantings. Avoid planting perennial forages until adequate control of the woody perennial weeds has been achieved. It should be noted and emphasized that direct applications of triclopyr, 2,4-D, and glyphosate will kill forages. These herbicides are used for site preparation weed control for a reason — they are very active on broadleaf plants and unfortunately that includes legume and brassica forages. There is absolutely no ambiguity in that statement. There is little chance of injury when these herbicides are applied four to six weeks before seeding the forage. Site preparation weed control is another example of the need to be proactive. Hunting land often changes hands on a yearly basis and site-preparation weed control may not be feasible in those cases. If land is owned or at least available long-term, site preparation weed control is a worthwhile investment and a significant step towards establishing highquality food plots in rough areas that are often highly desirable for hunting. W Vol. 23, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 27


Imperial Whitetail Alfa-Rack Plus… It’s All About the Formula! By Whitetail Institute Staff If you’re looking for a high-protein perennial forage product designed for top performance and versatility in good, well-drained soils, look no further than Imperial Whitetail Alfa-Rack Plus. Although Alfa-Rack Plus has a lot in common with other Whitetail Institute forage blends, it’s very unique in other ways. In this article, we’ll look at what characteristics Alfa-Rack Plus shares with other Whitetail Institute forages and what makes it so distinctive.

Look for the Brand One thing Alfa-Rack Plus shares with every other Whitetail Institute forage product are the words Imperial Whitetail, right on the front of the package. That’s the Whitetail Institute brand, and the Whitetail Institute didn’t choose it by chance. Quite the opposite: Whitetail speaks for itself, and Imperial defines the nature of all Whitetail Institute products, including AlfaRack PLUS. You’ll understand why if you look up imperial in a dictionary. When I checked several dictionaries, I found one definition of imperial they all had in common: “In the nature of supreme quality.” That definitely describes Alfa-Rack Plus. Like every Whitetail Institute product, Alfa-Rack Plus is the result of the Whitetail Institute process; true scientific research, development and real-world testing on free-ranging deer across North America, followed by detailed product preparation to ensure top performance.

Components and Product Preparation Perennial Clover. Whitetail Institute forage products contain plant varieties available only in Institute products. An example is the perennial clover in Alfa-Rack Plus, which was scientifically created by the Whitetail Institute through repeated cycles of cross-breeding and goaloriented selection for traits such as attractiveness to whitetails, protein content and sustained palatability. Forage-Type Alfalfa. Alfa-Rack Plus also contains alfalfa — but not just any alfalfa. The alfalfas in Alfa-Rack Plus are true forage alfalfas (a/k/a grazing alfalfas), which are different from ordinary haytype alfalfas in some important ways. Perhaps the most important difference is that the grazing alfalfas in Alfa-Rack Plus grow more leaf relative to stem than ordinary hay-type alfalfas. Why is that so important? The answer lies with the small-ruminant digestive system of deer. Cattle and deer are ruminant animals, meaning in simplest terms that they chew cud and have four-chambered stomachs. When cattle

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and deer take in food, they go through a process of chewing, swallowing, regurgitating and re-chewing it (cud) until it’s sufficiently broken down for the animal’s stomach to digest it. There, digestive organisms use the cud to provide nutrients for the animal. There’s a very important difference, though, between the ruminant digestive systems of cattle and deer: Unlike cattle, deer are small ruminants, which means they can’t effectively use tougher, stemmier forages like cattle can. Accordingly, forage for deer must be highly palatable (of the most tender, succulent sort). If you’ve ever seen deer grazing in agricultural alfalfa fields planted and harvested for hay for cattle, you’ve likely seen the proof yourself. Through time, you might have noticed that the deer were attracted to it soon after planting when the plants were young, less attracted after it started to get tall, and then attracted to it again soon after mowing as the plants put on new growth. The reason that happens is one of the best examples you’ll find of how important palatability is to deer. The grazing alfalfas in Alfa-Rack Plus have been selected by the Whitetail Institute through real-world testing on free-ranging deer for their sustained palatability over all other alfalfa varieties tested by the Whitetail Institute. WINA-100 Perennial Forage Chicory. Alfa-Rack Plus also contains WINA-100 chicory. This specially selected chicory variety is superior to other chicory varieties traditionally planted for deer in one very important way: Unlike other chicories, which can become stemmy and waxy, WINA-100 chicory remains tender and highly attractive to deer even as it matures. Annual Clovers. In addition to its perennial forage components, Alfa-Rack Plus contains specially selected annual clovers to fill a specific role: rapid stand establishment. Generally, when a perennial seed germinates, it begins building its roots and has to get part of that process done before it pushes a shoot above the surface. The perennials in Alfa-Rack Plus are designed to establish and grow quickly, exhibit early plant vigor and begin attracting deer right away. Because annuals generally have smaller root systems than perennials, they appear above ground even more quickly in most cases. The difference might be so slight that you won’t even notice it. Even so, the Whitetail Institute took the extra step of adding the annual clovers to ensure that your Alfa-Rack Plus plot can establish as rapidly as the Whitetail Institute could achieve. Rainbond Seed Coating. To the Whitetail Institute, product quality isn’t measured just by how much effort goes into selecting and combining forage varieties. It’s not about what the Whitetail Institute does, but what the customer sees for himself. It’s about results. That’s why the Institute is never satisfied with just making sure a forage product contains only the finest forage components in the best ratios. It makes the same effort to ensure that each product is prepared for planting to help customers get the thick, lush, attractive food plots they want in the real world. A big part of that is the Whitetail Institute’s Rainbond seed coating. Rainbond isn’t just any old seed coating. It’s very high-tech and packed with features that serve several functions, all of which maximize the ability of the seeds to survive and grow vigorously. An especially important function of Rainbond is to protect the seedlings from dying from lack of water. Like human infants, plants are at their most vulnerable to death from lack of water when they’re very young. Uncoated seed can germinate when exposed to very tiny www.whitetailinstitute.com


amounts of water, and if there isn’t enough moisture in the soil to sustain the seedling, it can die. Rainbond protects the seeds from germinating when there’s insufficient moisture in the soil. When there is enough moisture, it penetrates the coating and the seed germinates. But Rainbond doesn’t stop there. It also contains polymer beads that absorb up to 200 times their weight in water and keep it right next to the seed as it germinates. And as the seedling uses that moisture, Rainbond continues to replenish itself by drawing more moisture from the soil, giving the young seedlings a better chance to survive and flourish. Inoculant. Some seeds require soil bacteria to grow and thrive. Examples are clover and alfalfa. These bacteria are specific to the plant type. It’s so important that seed stores sell these bacteria as inoculant, which must be mixed with raw seed before planting. Whitetail Institute seed coatings take care of that for you. They contain the correct inoculant for the product and keep it right next to the seed. Protein Levels. When it comes to delivering protein for deer, AlfaRack Plus is in the top category of forage products for deer. One reason is protein content. Alfa-Rack Plus can produce tons of forage with protein levels as high as 35 percent. And remember, because AlfaRack Plus is highly palatable and attractive, it gets that protein where you need it — into your deer.

Set Your Sights on

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Variety and Versatility We’ve talked about some of the quality and performance goals the Whitetail Institute set in its research, development, testing and product development for Alfa-Rack Plus, such as attractiveness, disease resistance, high protein content, rapid stand establishment, and heat, cold and drought tolerance. There are additional benefits that you might not have thought of, even though the Whitetail Institute did. For example, like most Whitetail Institute forage products, AlfaRack Plus is a blend of multiple forage components. That’s because rarely will a single plant variety perform as well as the Whitetail Institute demands in all categories (attractiveness to deer, rapid establishment, cold-tolerance). Blends of complementary forages can make that a non-issue, provided, of course, that the forages are carefully selected and then blended in the optimum ratios like Alfa-Rack Plus. No matter how tasty our favorite dish is, all of us like something different once in a while, and deer are no exception. That’s why having a variety of complementary forages in the same plot can boost attraction to deer even more. Another unique characteristic of Alfa-Rack Plus is that it’s ideally suited to sites with varying soil types and slopes. The clovers tend to grow best in flat areas with good soil, and the alfalfas and chicory tend to prefer better-drained conditions. That’s why Alfa-Rack Plus is the perfect choice for a perennial in plots with some areas that are flat and others that are sloped. I have used Alfa-Rack Plus many times with great success in food plots that roll with rises and dips throughout the plot. Generally, the clovers establish in the valleys, and the alfalfas and chicory dominate on the sides and tops of the rises. The result is a thick, lush stand with no gaps in coverage. Alfa-Rack Plus is designed for good, well-drained soils. For best results, soil pH should be at least 6.5 at the time of planting. The Whitetail Institute’s recommended planting dates, and planting and maintenance instructions, are provided on the back of the product bags as well as at www.whitetailinstitute.com. If you have any questions about Alfa-Rack Plus, give the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants a call at (800) 688-3030. The call and the service are free. W

B Brillion, rillion, WI WI 54110 54110 8 855.320.0373 55.320.0373

w www.brillionfarmeq.com ww.brillionfarmeq.com

©2012 ©2012 Brillion Br illio n F Farm ar m E Equipment quip m e nt

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Vol. 23, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 29


Whitetail Institute RECORD BOOK BUCKS… Gary Brickl — Wisconsin

Brett Neal — Illinois Four years ago, my father and I started hunting a piece of property. Though there were decent deer on the property, we just weren’t getting the results we had expected. So three years ago, we decided to plant 6 total acres of Imperial Whitetail Clover, Double-Cross, Winter-Greens and Tall Tine Tubers  throughout our 300-acre property. The results were immediate. Deer literally started piling onto our property and it has increased every year. We now get thousands more trail cam pictures every year and the bucks just keep getting bigger! I killed a 150-inch 9point 2 years ago (photo 1) and my latest bowkill is a 147-inch, 270-pound giant (photo 2). The bucks just flock to these plots during the rut. Thanks Whitetail Institute for these amazing products!



Kevin Harris — Ohio

I started using Whitetail Institute products more than 20 years ago. My first purchase was Imperial Whitetail Clover. It attracted many does and fawns and higher caliber bucks like I’ve never seen before. Also tried Alfa-Rack Plus with the same results and enjoy the longevity of both of these products. What can I say about the Winter-Greens other than its unbelievable. It’s almost too good the way deer feed on the plot, especially after a hard frost. I’ll have to expand the acreage I plant to accommodate all the dinner guest (deer from surrounding area.) These products make checking our trail cameras an obsession almost year-round, because of the way they attract the deer. Photo is the 15-point I took this fall with my bow which scored 172. Thanks for great products and your friendly customer service.

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Whitetail Institute products are truly amazing. Some of my bucks are putting on as much as 30 inches from 3.5 to 4.5 years old and 4.5 to 5.5. Simply unbelievable. Whitetail Institute products are performing so well I’m able to grow bucks 40 minutes from home that I used to have to drive nine hours to my farm in Pike County, Illinois to hunt. My wife probably likes them even better than me because it will probably allow me to sell my Illinois farm and just concentrate on Ohio. Here is a picture of a 5.5-year-old buck with 21 inches inside and 24 inch beams that I took with my bow this past year. Gross score as an 8 point 157 7/8 and he was around a 120class the year before. He’s my best Ohio buck to date. Thanks again Whitetail Institute for your great products. I’ll use them forever.

www.whitetailinstitute.com


Danny Terril — Indiana

On our property my wife and I prefer Imperial Whitetail Clover and Alfa-Rack Plus in the spring and summer and the early hunting season. For late season we depend on Winter-Greens. Whitetail Institute products along with good deer management equals success. Enclosed is my bow kill from this past year that scored 172 3/8.

Chris Williams — Ohio

I have planted food plots for years and never have I seen deer come to a plot like they have to the Tall Tine Tubers. It’s like a deer magnet. I shot a 142-inch 11-point in route to the Tall Tine Tubers in my home state of southern Ohio on Nov. 8. I won’t use anything else. These plots get better the later the season gets. I took my dad there on our second gun season last week and we saw deer for four hours coming in and out of that Tall Tine Tubers field. He killed his first deer in 13 years out of it. It was pretty awesome. Thanks a lot Whitetail Institute.

Dale Gilman — New York

Finally Oct. 21 arrived. I worked until 1 p.m., came home and got ready to hunt. On the way to the property where I was going to hunt, I stopped and showed a friend the picture of the buck I wanted to get. I told him I was going up that afternoon to try and get him. This stand was located on the edge of a group of hardwoods, overlooking a field of goldenrod. We had worked up a part of the field and put in a small plot, maybe 20 yards wide and 80 yards long. We hand seeded the area with Winter-Greens. As things began to grow, we put up a ladder stand that was perfect for winds coming from the south or the west. That afternoon the wind was coming from the West. I climbed into the tree stand about 4:10 p.m. The food plot was already heavily browsed but there was still plenty there to attract the deer. I saw a doe and fawn about 4:45 a.m. and at about 5:10 a.m. I noticed a deer in the woods in front of me. I looked at him with the binoculars and realized he was a big buck, maybe the big tined buck I was hoping to see. For 10 days I had hoped I would see him and now maybe he was coming in range. I stopped looking at the antlers and focused on getting a good shot. In 41 years of hunting this is the nicest buck I have taken. The taxidermist green scored him at 140 with a 3.5 inches of deduction for irregularities. I was very happy with a 136.5 point total score. He is only an 8-point but the difference is the 8-1/2-inch brow tines. I have shot many deer in my lifetime of hunting and I have several 8-point bucks on the wall, but when I compare them to this big tined buck there is no comparison. The longest brow tines on any of the antlers I have taken are only 3 inches tall! Getting a deer like this with my bow is a dream of a lifetime.

Send Us Your Photos! Do you have a photo of a buck that qualifies for the Pope & Young, Boone and Crockett or your state record books that you grew or took with the help of Imperial products? Send it to us and you might find it in the Record Book Bucks 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: Record Book Bucks, 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043

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Vol. 23, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 31


Managing Small Acreages for a Whitetail Paradise By Gerald Almy Photo by the Author

any people believe deer management and habitat improvement are projects best left to the State’s wildlife management division and large landowners with thousands of acres and expensive farming equipment. But dramatic improvements in the deer herd, the habitat and the quality of hunting can be made even on small parcels of land by individuals or small groups of sportsmen working together. Improvement of the land and the herd takes place one acre at a time and one deer at a time, no matter the size of the property or how many whitetails it holds. After more than 35 years of visiting deer hunting properties throughout the country, I’ve seen the benefits proper management and habitat work can bring even on small parcels of land. And for the past two decades, I’ve put many these principles to work on the 117 acres my wife and I purchased and live on in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

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Along the way, I’ve developed a set of guidelines for improving what I call the three H’s — the herd, habitat and hunting. Sound boring? Believe me, it’s not. One of the things I’ve found through the years is that managing the deer and the land and working on the habitat are immensely rewarding activities. In fact, lately I enjoy them as much, if not more, than hunting for the quality bucks and does that are the fruits of this labor. Don’t own land? Don’t worry. Perhaps your hunting club leases a tract you could work on, or maybe a friend or relative has a farm or piece of property where you can put this program in place. Most landowners are more than willing to have improvements made on the property to help wildlife. And make no mistake about it, although you might be managing for deer and trying to improve the herd, other species such as quail, rabbits, turkeys, ducks and songbirds will also benefit. It’s important to realize that managing small acreages for better deer hunting doesn’t just involve work on the habitat and the land. It’s a two-part equation and the other half involves managing people and where, when and how the hunting is done. It’s challenging, for sure. But the rewards

of putting this program in place are many, and they don’t just come during hunting season. Watching the land evolve into a model of habitat improvement, the deer herd become healthier and the bucks get older and bigger is a payback you reap anytime you visit the property — or every day if you’re lucky enough to live there. Results you can expect in the whitetails include an increase in the body size of all the deer, larger antlers on bucks, an older and more natural age structure, a better sex balance in the herd, a more intense rut and healthier fawns. Hunting will be more exciting because more large bucks will be chasing fewer does during the breeding period, and more of that activity will take place in daylight. As you start your improvements, keep in mind that managing deer on small acreages is a continually evolving process, one that never really ends. New challenges will always arise, and they come in many forms. You will become a farmer, logger, laborer, dam builder, wildlife manager, recreation planner, game warden and yes, a hunter. What you won’t become is bored. Here are some of the steps I’ve found that are vital for successful deer management on small acreages. About half are directed at people and their actions, and the other half working the land to better the habitat. One cannot succeed without the other.

Pass Up Young Bucks A one-year-old buck might have spikes or it might have four to eight light, spindly points. In any case, it should be passed up to reach more of its genetic potential. Some bucks are late bloomers, starting out with tiny racks and growing into magnificent animals later. Others start out on a higher level and improve more slowly. A one-year-old buck generally has a rack 1/10 the size it’s capable of growing as a mature animal. Such deer are easy to harvest, but unless they are passed up, a management plan cannot succeed. Two-year-olds are slightly more developed than yearlings, but these bucks, too, should be allowed to grow another year. At three years, a buck’s rack will generally reach more than half of its full potential, and in some areas you might choose to harvest such deer. A lot depends on the hunting pressure surrounding the land you’re managing and the attitudes of neighboring property owners. In www.whitetailinstitute.com


an ideal situation, pass these animals up, too, because bucks need five or more years to grow their best racks.

Harvest Enough Does A tract of land can only hold so many deer. That could be nine does and one buck, or something closer to a 50-50 ratio; perhaps three or four bucks to every six or seven does. The greater the percentage of bucks in the herd, the more likely some will survive to older age classes. A lower percentage of does means more competition among bucks for breeding rights and a more intense and exciting rut. Another reason to harvest does is that it keeps young bucks on your property. Studies show that does chase their yearling male offspring away when they give birth to new fawns, and those outcasts often travel long distances before setting up a new home range — probably off of your small hunting property. Harvest the doe, and the yearling buck will be more likely to stay put.

Establish No-Hunting Zones You need at least one major sanctuary area near the interior of the property that’s offlimits to hunting. A location with thick cover or rough terrain where bucks feel secure is best. Try to make it off-limits to virtually all activity, even hiking. On my sanctuary area, I go in only one time a year. That’s in spring, when antlers have dropped, to look for sheds. If you break down and hunt an off-limits area when deer get hard to find late in the season, you’ve defeated its purpose. Sanctuaries are especially important on properties of 50 to 200 acres. Bucks certainly will wander off parcels of this size at times, but if you have an area where they have cover and feel secure during daylight, they’ll tend to return there. Deer from surrounding properties might also pile in when pressure builds.

Limit the Amount and Type of Hunting Even if it’s just a matter of hiking a few hundred yards in to a tree stand and watching for a morning, deer — particularly older bucks — can sense this pressure. If you get four or five people doing this, with a few others choosing to still hunt or rattle occasion-

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ally and this activity goes on every day, you’ll wind up with one of two outcomes. Bucks two years old or older will most likely become nocturnal, or they’ll move off the property to find less-pressured ground. Restrict the number of people on the property, schedule rest days when no one hunts — do whatever it takes to limit the pressure so that mature bucks don’t flee or become night roamers.

Restrict the Type of Hunting Stand hunting is best, with a limited amount of still hunting acceptable. Avoid deer drives. Yes, they are fun and productive. But if you want to create a whitetail paradise on a small parcel of land, they’re inappropriate. Save them for public land or large tracts of private land.

Cooperate with Surrounding Landowners This might be a challenge, but you have to try it. Use a low-key approach, asking questions such as whether they’re seeing as many or as good a quality of bucks as they’d like. Tell them some of the things you’ve been trying to do and some of the goals you have. Teach by example, offer to help, and just maybe they’ll see the wisdom of harvesting does, passing up young bucks and improving the habitat.

Plant Food Plots A one-acre food plot can provide more forage than 100 acres of mature woods. Not only that, but it can be high-protein food rich with the calcium, phosphorous and other minerals deer need to thrive. Food plots can take the pressure off native vegetation so it is less likely to be over-browsed. Food plots also attract deer into the open where you can evaluate antlers, judge the age of bucks and monitor the buck-to-doe ratio. The more plots you can plant and maintain, annual and perennial, the better. Three percent to 10 percent of the land devoted to plots is not too much. Good crops to consider include clover, chicory, brassicas, lablab, forage soybeans and oats. You can use generics, but a much better bet is to buy carefully developed mixtures from the Whitetail Institute of North America. The company carefully researches which seeds do best in each region of the country and mixes them in just the

right proportions so the plants complement each other and are available at different time frames so deer always have something that attracts them to your land. Whitetail Institute also has specially engineered plants that were developed not for cattle but specifically to appeal to the taste preferences and nutritional needs of whitetail deer. Don’t overextend yourself, though. Plots require time and care for site preparation, soil testing, fertilizing, planting and weed control. Better to have five acres in high-quality plots than 10 acres poorly prepared and crowded with weeds. Be sure to plant two kinds of food plots, though. Plant some larger parcels that are designed exclusively to improve the nutrition of deer. Never hunt over those. Instead, plant a few smaller, irregular-shaped plots tucked away along the deer’s travel routes and close to bedding cover that you can hunt over lightly, skipping days in between sessions. If you hunt over the main larger food plots, mature bucks may stay away from them entirely or use them only at night. You can hunt trails leading to them, but don’t hunt over the plot itself.

Create Cover Your food plot might attract a buck. Without cover he will not stay. All wildlife needs food, water and cover. Deer need cover for two reasons: thermal protection in winter and security needs year-round. You can create it two ways: by planting appropriate vegetation or by manipulating existing vegetation. Planting evergreens such as pines is a good place to start. Place them in clusters in areas where deer might naturally bed if cover was present. They’ll not only offer visual security but also thermal protection. Low, bush-type plants are also valuable not only for cover, but also food in their leaves, stems and fruits. Plant bushes as hedges along a stream or at the edge of woods where they border a field. Planting warm-season grasses such as switchgrass, Indian and big bluestem is another option. These grow 5 to 7 feet tall and provide great sanctuary areas for bucks. Open forests can be devoid of cover, but by taking a chainsaw to them, you can create cover quickly. Cut old, poor value, misshapen or pest-infested trees. Leave some of them, or at least the tops, on the ground. Clearcut a few small, irregular-shaped areas and the brush and low saplings that grow back will make wonderful, almost jungle-like cover in a few years. www.whitetailinstitute.com


Construct a Pond A deer needs an average of 1½ quarts of water a day. Some of this they get from vegetation, but during dry periods, having water available might mean the difference between bucks staying on your property or going to the neighbor’s. Study the topography and you’ll see low spots that drain surrounding hillsides or hollows that would make good pond sites. They don’t have to be large. A quarter-acre pond will serve the water needs of an entire herd using a small property. You can even make small dams by hand on wet-weather streams with rocks, shovels and logs that can help hold water during summer.

Take Advantage of Government Programs Biologists, foresters and agricultural specialists that know far more than you and I about wildlife and timber management, crops, soil, dam construction and other habitat topics are at your fingertips. Consult the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the State forestry

department, your local agricultural extension agent and the Wildlife Resources Commission. Some of the services I’ve taken advantage of are an on-site analysis and long-range forest plan, a walk-through and habitat-improvement plan by a senior wildlife biologist and the development of a cost-share Wildlife Habitat Improvement Plan that called for planting acres of native warm-season grasses and shrubs along a stream lacking cover. Cost? Nothing. In fact, the WHIP plan helped pay some of the cost of purchasing the warm-season grasses and shrubs. And those stands of warm-season grasses, mostly switchgrass, have turned out to be some of the best mature buck cover on the property.

also keep complete gross-score measurements. Make notes on the productivity of various food plots, when it’s best to plant them, how well deer use them, dates when rutting activity begins and ends, number of fawns with does and other important data. You can’t store all this in your head, but with thorough records, you can see ways to change your approach and improve as you work on the constantly evolving process of creating a whitetail paradise. It’s a project that never ends, but if you have as much fun with it as I do, you’ll never want it to.

Collect Data and Keep Records

It’s crucial not to have unrealistic goals as you work on improving the three H’s: habitat, herd and hunting. Don’t expect every deer you see scouting or working the land to stay on the property or every buck you pass up as a youngster to live to a ripe old age. But the more effort you put into the program, the greater the rewards will be. Just knowing there are 3- and 4-year old bucks out there and that does and fawns are healthier is reward in itself. W

Through time, you will see dramatic improvements with the steps outlined here. They will come gradually, though, and the best way to monitor them and see where you could make further improvements is to keep thorough records. Keep track of how many deer are harvested and their age, weight and sex. Measure the racks for antler circumference above the burr and beam length, and

Keep Your Expectations in Check

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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Research = Results™ Vol. 23, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 35


Pick Your Product —

Institute Forages are Designed for Virtually Every Circumstance By Whitetail Institute Staff

question the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants are often asked is, “Which of the Whitetail Institute’s perennial forage products is the best?” The answer is, “All of them are the best they can be, and your own circumstances will dictate which will work best in a specific plot.” Each Whitetail Institute product is the very best the Whitetail Institute can make to meet specific planting circumstances hunters and managers face across North America. The main difference is really just what planting circumstances each is designed to meet. In this article, we’ll help you identify which Whitetail Institute perennial is “best” for each of your food plot sites. The first step is understanding the process the Whitetail Institute follows in developing new forage products.

The Whitetail Institute Process So, what do we mean when we say that each Whitetail Institute product is “the best” the Whitetail Institute can make? We mean that the Whitetail Institute does everything it can to ensure that its forage products can attract, hold and grow bigger and better deer in a broad variety of soils and climates across North America. The process involves taking ideas and bringing them to reality through something called scientific method.

Perennials

Ideas

Photo by Charles J. Alsheimer

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By now, most hunters and managers are aware that the Whitetail Institute and its first forage product, Imperial Whitetail Clover, www.whitetailinstitute.com


Jason Say from Pennsylvania in an Imperial Whitetail Clover plot. started with founder Ray Scott’s idea that just as plant varieties had been scientifically developed specifically to meet the needs of cattle, grain production and other agricultural purposes, new plant varieties could also be scientifically developed specifically to attract and improve the quality of whitetails. Scott started the Whitetail Institute with that goal in mind more than a quarter century ago, and because of continuous improvement in varieties included in it through the years, Imperial Whitetail Clover remains the No. 1 food plot planting in the world and the only clover product ever scientifically developed and specifically designed for whitetail deer. Since 1988, most of the Whitetail Institute’s new product ideas have come from customers. Imperial Whitetail Extreme, for example, started when the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants spotted a trend among customers asking for a perennial forage that would rival the attractiveness and nutritional content of Imperial Whitetail Clover, tolerate lower soil pH and be able to tolerate lower rainfall amounts.

Scientific Method One thing that makes Whitetail Institute products unique is how the Whitetail Institute goes about turning ideas into reality: by strict adherence to something called scientific method. When it comes to developing food plot products specifically to attract, hold and grow whitetail deer, the various definitions of scientific method found in several dictionaries can be condensed as follows: reaching conclusions based on facts, measurement and ob-

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servation that are objective, meaning that they allow reality to speak for itself. The process the Whitetail Institute uses to take ideas to reality is structured to adhere to that principal, without exception. And that’s perhaps the biggest reason for the success Whitetail Institute customers have enjoyed with Whitetail Institute products for more than a quarter of a century: The Whitetail Institute develops and tests its products according to practices that ensure real-world results.

Facts As mentioned, scientific method relies on facts, measurement and observation. The facts on which the Whitetail Institute bases its forage research include specific traits each product must exhibit — traits that relate to forage attractiveness and quality specifically for whitetail deer, and to grow in a variety of soil and climactic conditions across North America. These traits include rapid stand establishment, early seedling vigor, high and sustained nutritional content, heat and drought tolerance, cold tolerance, disease resistance, and of course, attractiveness to deer. These traits weigh heavily in all phases of Whitetail Institute research, development and testing.

Measurement and Observation As also mentioned, true scientific process requires that testing be conducted in a way that “allows reality to speak for itself.” Consider the traits the Whitetail Institute looks for when selecting and breeding plant varieties for its food plot products. Examples in-

clude how quickly and well they establish and grow in a wide variety of climates and how attractive they are to deer when young and also once they mature. What better way to determine both than to plant them across North America under real-world conditions, observe how well they grow and let wild, free-ranging deer show you which ones they prefer? And that’s exactly how the Whitetail Institute tests forage components, individually and when blended with other compatible forages: by planting them at certified research stations and with field testers across the United States and Canada. That’s why you can be sure that a product that says Whitetail Institute on it takes the guesswork out. All Whitetail Institute products share that same quality. Now, let’s look at how the Whitetail Institute’s perennial forage products differ from one another and the conditions each is designed for.

Which Perennial Forage is Optimum for Your Food Plot Site? All Whitetail Institute forage products have been painstakingly developed by the Whitetail Institute for a particular set of planting conditions or factors. When deciding which Whitetail Institute forage product to plant in a particular site, you need to know what conditions each is specifically designed for. Because these factors differ from site to site, you should go through all the factors for one food plot site at a time. To assist you in doing that, the Whitetail Institute has an online Forage Selector on its website, www.whitetailinstitute.com. Generally, there are two categories of factors to consider: physical factors relating to the site itself, and timing factors — whether you want a forage designed to last for multiple years from a single planting (a perennial) or one that’s designed to last for part of one calendar year (an annual). Because this article is about Whitetail Institute perennials (we’ll cover annuals in the next issue), we’ll assume that you’re looking for a multi-year forage and move on to the other category: physical factors relating to the plot. All Whitetail Institute perennials should be planted in seedbeds that have been prepared by disking or tilling and smoothing. Accordingly, make sure you can access the site with appropriate equipment. Beyond that, the perennial selection decision should depend on two things: (1) minimum annual www.whitetailinstitute.com


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 15 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 - Sept 5 Apr 1 - May 15 Aug 1 - Sept 15

   

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 15 - 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 25 - Nov 25 South: Oct 5 - Nov 30 Mar 1 - May 15 Aug 1 - Sept 15 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, SECRET SPOT, WINTER PEAS AND BOWSTAND    

Aug 1 - Sept 15

  

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 Aug 15 - Nov 1 North: Aug 1 - Sept 30 South: Aug 15 - Oct 15 July 15 - Sept 5 Aug 1 - Sept 15



Aug 1 - Sept 15



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



Sept 1 - Oct 30

 

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

Coastal: Sept 15 - Oct 15 Piedmont: Sept 1 - Oct 5 Mountain: Aug 25 - Oct 15 North: Sept 25 - 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 15 Aug 20 - Sept 30

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

 

Call for planting dates Call for planting dates July 1 - Sept 10* Coastal: Aug 15 - Sept 30 Southern Piedmont: Aug 1 - Sept 15 Mountain Valleys: July 15 - Sept 15 July 15 - Sept 30

 

North: July 15 - Sept 30 South: Aug 1 - Oct 10 July 1 - Aug 30



July 1 - Aug 30 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 - Nov 1 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

Aug 1 - Oct 1

For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

      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

* 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.

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

Vol. 23, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 39


rainfall, and (2) drainage (soil type and slope). Minimum Annual Rainfall. Remember that Whitetail Institute perennials are designed to last for multiple years from one planting. That’s why you should be sure you consider not just the current year’s rainfall levels but also historical rainfall data. Drainage (Soil Type and Slope). For our purposes, soil type will be one of two things: heavier or lighter, and which it is depends on how well or poorly the soil in the site can retain moisture. Slope means exactly that: whether the plot is flat or sloped, and if sloped, whether the slope is gradual or something steeper. For forage-selection purposes, determining soil type is very easy: If you were to take some soil from the plot a few days after a rain, ball it up tightly in your hand and then open your hand. It will do one of two things: (1) If it falls apart into a few big chunks, we’d call it a good soil, meaning that it has the ability to retain some moisture when it receives some rain. (2) If it falls completely apart into grains, we’d call it a lighter soil, meaning it doesn’t retain moisture as well. Determining slope is even easier. You don’t have to measure it in degrees. Just eyeball it to determine whether the site is flat, slightly sloped, moderately sloped or steep. Because soil type and slope affect the forage’s access to moisture, they must be considered together when selecting a perennial for a particular site.

Imperial Whitetail Clover Imperial Whitetail Clover is the No. 1 food plot planting in the world, and the standard by which all other food plot products in the industry are measured. Imperial Whitetail Clover includes the only clover varieties genetically developed specifically for food plots for deer. Imperial Whitetail Clover requires a minimum annual rainfall of 30 inches per year and should be planted in flat sites with good soils that hold moisture.

Double-Cross Double-Cross is one of several Whitetail Institute perennial forage products that include Imperial Whitetail Clover as a component for maximum attraction, high protein levels, longevity and variety. In addition, the Whitetail Institute’s highly attractive annual bras-

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sicas are added to boost tonnage even further in the early and late season the first year and provide deer with a much-needed carbohydrate boost during the colder months. Double-Cross should be planted in the late summer or fall on flat to slightly sloped sites that have loamy, light clays to heavy soils, and that receive a minimum of 30 inches of rainfall per year.

Chicory Plus Chicory Plus also features Imperial Whitetail Clover as a perennial forage component. The Whitetail Institute’s WINA-100 perennial forage chicory is also included as a component to boost heat and drought tolerance even further. Chicory Plus requires a minimum of 30 inches of rainfall per year, and it should be planted in good quality, heavy soils that hold moisture or that are moderately drained.

Alfa-Rack Plus Alfa-Rack Plus contains three perennial forage groups: Imperial Whitetail Clover, X9 Technology grazing alfalfas, and WINA100 perennial forage chicory. It’s specifically designed for sites that receive at least 30 inches of rainfall per year and that have good soils that are well drained and/or are moderately sloped. It’s also an excellent option for good soils in sites that are flat in some areas and sloped in others. In such cases the clovers tend to establish most heavily in the flatter areas of the plot, and the alfalfas and chicory most heavily in the sloped areas, providing a thick, lush stand of highly attractive, high-protein forage across the entire plot.

“Chic” Magnet “Chic” Magnet is the Whitetail Institute’s WINA-100 perennial forage chicory. Unlike other chicories planted for deer, WINA-100 chicory remains highly attractive and palatable to deer because it doesn’t get tough and stemmy like other chicories sometimes planted for deer. “Chic” Magnet is one of the most versatile forage products the Whitetail Institute offers. It can be planted by itself, added in with other seeds you are planting or overseeded into established food plots to boost the attraction, tonnage, drought tolerance and nutritional content of the stand. A highly attractive, drought-tolerant forage, WINA-100 chicory can grow roots as deep as

two to three feet into the soil to find moisture, can tolerate rainfall levels as low as 15 inches per year and adapts well to a wide variety of soil types. When planting “Chic” Magnet by itself, select a site with heavy soils or soils that are moderately well drained.

Edge Edge is the Whitetail Institute’s newest perennial forage product. Designed to provide up to 44 percent protein for up to five years from one planting, Edge includes four perennial forage components that complement each other, providing superb attraction and nutrition in sites with moderately well drained to medium/heavy soils in areas that receive at least 30 inches per year in rainfall. Perennial components include highly attractive, deeply rooted X-9 Technology grazing alfalfas, Persist™ forb, and WINA-100 perennial forage chicory as well as a sainfoin variety specially selected for its preference by deer.

Extreme Extreme is a revolutionary forage product designed to attract, hold and grow bigger deer in areas with soil pH as low as 5.4 and with annual rainfall as low as 15 inches per year. (Note: Although Extreme is designed to “tolerate” low soil pH and low rainfall, it performs even better when soil pH and rainfall amounts are higher.) The perennial components in Extreme are Persist forb and WINA100 chicory, which are exceptionally palatable, sweet forages that are also highly drought resistant. Extreme is specifically designed to tolerate a wide variety of soils, from good to lighter, as long as the site is well drained.

Coming Soon In the next issue of Whitetail News, we’ll take a similar look at the Whitetail Institute’s full line of annual forage products. If you’d like to know more about any of the Whitetail Institute’s industry-leading forage products, you can find lots of information at www.whitetailinstitute.com. And if you have any questions, remember that the Whitetail Institute’s highly knowledgeable in-house consultants are just a phone call away at (800) 688-3030. The call and the service are free. W www.whitetailinstitute.com


FREE TRIAL OFFER! OFFER 1 — ONLY $9.95 (SHIPPING AND HANDLING)

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Imperial Whitetail Winter-Greens… The “MaximumAttraction” Brassica Product By Hollis Ayers Photo by Charles J. Alsheimer

Let’s face it: If you’re going to consistently bring deer to your food plot during hunting season, you have to offer them the most attractive forage you can. If you’re looking for a brassica food plot product that’s specifically designed to provide maximum attraction from early fall into winter, look no farther than Imperial Whitetail Winter-Greens.

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When it comes to brassica food plot products, no competing brassica product the Whitetail Institute has ever tested has even come close to matching Winter-Greens for sheer attractiveness. The reason lies in the unique type of brassicas included in Winter-Greens.

Lettuce-Type Brassicas The Whitetail Institute has included brassicas in some of its multi-variety forage blends for over two decades. (As a matter of fact, the Whitetail Institute has been researching and marketing brassica varieties for longer than the other “food plot” companies have even been around). Generally, brassicas tend to reach their most attractive stage late in the season, when frosts cause starches in the leaves to convert into sugars. This window of highest attractiveness is the reason why the Whitetail Institute has used brassicas for many years as a timing element with other non-brassica forage components in some of its blends. Until the introduction of Winter-Greens, though, the Whitetail Institute had decided not to offer an all-brassica product because of the high performance standards the Whitetail Institute sets for all Whitetail Institute products, which include early- and late-season attraction. The Whitetail Institute’s decision to not offer an all-brassica product changed only after Whitetail Institute testing revealed an all-brassica blend that met these standards. That blend is Winter-Greens, which contains especially attractive lettuce type brassicas — brassicas with a vegetable genetic base. When it comes to attracting whitetail

www.whitetailinstitute.com


deer, all brassicas are definitely not the same. Whitetails require very tender forages because of their smaller digestive systems and any food plot product has to take that into account, at least if it is going to maximize attraction to whitetails. And because of the type of brassicas in the blend, side-by-side cafeteria tests have repeatedly proven that deer prefer Winter-Greens over other brassica products by a huge margin.

Tall Tine Turnips And lettuce-type brassicas aren’t the only unique thing about Winter-Greens. In addition to the lettuce-type brassicas, the Whitetail Institute also now includes a small amount of Tall Tine Turnip, a new turnip variety the Whitetail Institute developed specifically for deer. Tall Tine Turnips boost late-season attraction and tonnage even further, as an additional forage from late fall into winter and as the tubers remain available through the coldest months. Most food plots begin to lose attractiveness to deer when temperatures get cold and snow accumulates. Winter-Greens does just the opposite — and again, because of the nature of the brassicas.

Nutritional Considerations In addition, consider the nutritional benefit Winter-Greens offers your deer — especially carbohydrates. It takes a lot of energy for deer to just survive cold winters, let alone survive them in good health. In fact, a buck can lose up to 25 percent of his body weight during the rut and in winter when food is scarce. When the next antler-growing season rolls around, he will have to recover his winter health losses before he can devote nutritional resources to antler growth in earnest. Winter-Greens is rich in the carbohydrates deer need for energy and health during fall and winter. By helping bucks better maintain body weight and overall health during winter, you can shorten the amount of time they spend recovering winter health losses in spring and help them devote substantial resources to antler growth as early in the antlergrowing process as possible. For hunting whitetails in the early season and especially in the late season, attract them with the nutritionally enhanced and balanced vegetable-based brassicas found only in WinterGreens from the Whitetail Institute — the leader in the food plot industry since 1988. Winter-Greens is designed for late summer or fall planting in good quality soils that drain well. For more information, visit www.whitetailinstitute.com, or call (800) 688-3030 today. W For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

Vol. 23, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 43


New and Convenient for Man and Deer —

30-06 Mineral Vitamin Supplement BREAK-AWAY BLOCK By Whitetail Institute Staff

If you’ve wished the Whitetail Institute would offer its famous 30-06 Mineral/Vitamin supplement in block form, your wait is over. The Whitetail Institute is pleased to announce the availability of its new 30-06 Break-Away Block. Because the Whitetail Institute’s 30-06 Mineral/Vitamin supplement in granular form continues to be a mainstay of so many management programs, you might wonder why the Whitetail Institute has gone to the trouble of creating the same supplement in block form. The first reason is simple: The Whitetail Institute has always been customer-driven, and customers requested it. Another reason is so that you can give your deer exactly what they want. Deer are very much like humans in that each is an individual with unique likes. Some deer might prefer 30-06 in granular form, but others may prefer the block. If you haven’t tried 30-06 before, try the granular and block forms in

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sites that are close to each other, and let your deer tell you which they prefer. Either way, though, 30-06 in granular or block form isn’t just another glorified salt lick like some other so-called “mineral supplements” on the market, and the new 30-06 B r e a k - Aw a y Block is not a cattle block. It’s a true mineral/ vitamin supplement that’s specifically formulated for the unique mineral, vitamin and dietary needs of deer. The three biggest nutritional components affecting deer during spring and summer are protein, minerals and vitamins. Many minerals are necessary for deer health and maximum antler growth during spring and summer — but not just any minerals. They must be the correct minerals in the correct forms and ratios if they are to provide full benefit to deer. The 30-06 Break-Away Block is designed to optimize digestibility, and it contains the correct minerals in the

right ratios for deer, as well as the necessary vitamins for antler growth, pregnancy and lactation, including vitamins A, D and E. Of course, no supplement will work if the deer don’t find and eat it. That’s why the Whitetail Institute has included multiple scent and taste enhancers in 30-06 BreakAway Block, including the Whitetail Institute’s proprietary Devour, an attraction component that can be addictive to deer. By approaching attraction from multiple angles, the Whitetail Institute has made sure that deer will use 30-06 products more quickly and more consistently. Whitetail Institute tests on wild deer showed deer love it so much they will dig huge holes in the ground to get to it. And the 30-06 Break-Away Block is designed so you’ll love it too because it’s so versatile and easy to use. Each 30-06 BreakAway Block is ready to go right out of the package, weighs 25 pounds and is even prescored so that if you want to use it for more than one location, you can easily break it up into four 6.25-pound segments. If you want to maximize the results your deer get from a mineral supplement, make sure it’s one that’s specifically and scientifically formulated for deer. The 30-06 Break-Away Block is highly attractive, and it provides deer with the essential minerals and vitamins they need to realize more of their genetic potential. One note of caution, though: 3006 Break-Away Block contains such powerful attractants that some states consider it bait, so consult your local game laws before using it. If you’d like additional information about the Whitetail Institute’s new 30-06 Break-Away Block, go to www.whitetailinstitute.com, or give our inhouse consultants a call at (800) 688-3030.W

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Planting by the Compass Helps Ensure a Great Plot Deer naturally browse by the compass. Year-round, and multidirectional plantings maximize plant growth and help mitigate extremes in moisture fluctuation. It’s not a bad hunting strategy either. By Joe Byers Photo by the Author

e’ve all been there in science class. A teacher holds up a globe (or basketball) and a flashlight (simulating the sun) and demonstrates how solar rays strike the earth (yawn, yawn). Had the teacher mentioned that deer predictably feed on plants according to the sun’s angle, you’d probably have aced the class — right? Luckily, it’s not too late for Deer/Earth Science 101 as Neil Dougherty enlightens and informs hundreds of clients each year. “Everything in a deer’s world revolves around its stomach,” Dougherty said. “And the more you know where the food is, the more successful you will be. Not just where an apple tree is dropping, but peeling the onion back to determine where the best forages can be found on a property and its food production potential.”

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Dougherty smiles behind his 140-class buck that he stalked on a very windy day and shot at eight yards as the buck walked toward him. www.whitetailinstitute.com


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Dougherty, operations manager at North Country Whitetails, believes no matter how small or large a piece of property, the more direct light it receives, the hotter it becomes. The sun is a critical factor in soil temperature and moisture retention, knowledge he capitalized on while hunting late this past fall.

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

48 WHITETAIL NEWS

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“I was seeing some really good deer on my trail cameras as the rut began to wane,” said Dougherty, switching from consultant to predator mode. “Deer were getting back to a feeding pattern, making observation a key element on a particular property that had three main feeding areas: perennials (primarily clover), brassica and CRP grass.” As he pondered hunting one of the three, he kept the compass principal in mind and headed toward the field facing the southwest. This property had one very high tree stand used primarily for observation, so a hunter could observe the actions of a particular deer and then plan a stalk or ambush. As dawn broke, Dougherty spotted a very large deer, barely visible in the dim light as it moved along the edge of a crop field. The animal was 400 yards away, and its rack difficult to judge, yet the body size was impressive. As the sun rose, and the morning progressed, Dougherty waited patiently before making his move. Finally, around 9:30 a.m., the buck emerged from the timber and began moving through a CRP field searching for does. After bumping a couple with no success, it bedded in the tall grass, a signal for Dougherty to take action. He climbed from the stand and moved toward an ambush point, anticipating that the buck would soon begin cruising again and head his way. The other option was to stalk the bedded animal, like a Western mule deer, yet the 3- to 5-foot-high grass was very arrow-unfriendly, even at close range. Soon, the buck emerged but moved directly away. “I glassed him and believed it was a 4-year-old as it went into a thick pocket of brush,” Dougherty said. He figured it would emerge a few minutes later. The hunter quickly moved along a drainage ditch next to a small stream that created a funnel and a likely travel route for the deer. Using the drainage ditch for cover, he slipped within 70 yards of the buck and planned to intercept it there. “Completely concealed by the drainage ditch, I believed the buck was directly in front of me and hurried farther downwind to circle in the likely path of the deer. Unfortunately, I was a few minutes too late,” Dougherty said.

Big Buck: Incoming Again, Dougherty ducked into the drainage ditch and raced to get ahead of the buck as it searched for does in the CRP grass. “Sneaking from the ditch I spotted the buck headed right toward me at about 80 yards. A 25 mph wind whipped the grass and made lots of noise, helping to conceal my movements,” Dougherty said. “As the buck approached steadily, I came to full draw at about 40 yards and I expected it to pass broadside at 20. Instead, it veered in my direction as if on a collision course. The impending point-blank encounter nearly broke my concentration, but at eight steps, I released and watched the arrow bury deeply into its chest. The deer whirled, ran 80 yards and piled up.” Dougherty was delighted with the heavy, 250-pound buck, which scored right at 140 P&Y, and the style of the hunt was equally if not www.whitetailinstitute.com


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more satisfying. Spotting and stalking whitetails in tall grass is fairly common in the Great Plains, where vast fields of tall grass make a perfect hiding place. You can watch a field all afternoon and see nothing, yet as evening approaches, deer pop up like one of those bash-a-gopher games. On a calm day, stalking is almost impossible, but with a good breeze and the ability to see deer and plan a stalk, good things can happen. “This is one of my favorite stands and favorite Northeastern properties to hunt,” Dougherty said. “You can watch a food plot and 200 acres of grass. It’s just nonstop glassing with a chance to stalk a buck when it stands up. This is a unique farm and a real blast to hunt. I wanted to be on the food plots facing south and west, and it worked out just right.”

A Day in the Life of a Summer Plot Plant At midnight, photosynthesis is in sleep mode, and all plants in the plot have the same temperatures, regardless of their sun orientation. As dawn nears, dew forms on vegetation and the soil remains partially shaded and cool. As noon approaches, the sun rises directly overhead, air temperatures increase, soil receives direct sunlight and warms leading to 4 to 5 p.m., when the temperature is typically the highest and plants suffer the greatest stress. This is the period when plants and soil capture the highest thermal radiation from the sun and become the most vulnerable to drought. The angle of the sun is consistent on plots that are pool table flat. However, most small patches and fields have rolling topography or might be part of a larger slope that tilts its contents toward or away

from the sun. A plot that tips toward the morning sky or the southwest in late afternoon will gather more energy from the sun, and temperature will influence how the plot grows and how deer react to it. Dougherty suggests looking at polar opposites as a clarifying example. “A field that faces the northern sky will experience angled sunlight and, all things being equal, will be the coolest and usually be the most moist site on the property. The sun, due to its lower angle will have greater reflection, less absorption and results in cooler soil temperatures. These spots are ideally suited for perennial plants and can be a great spot for summer forage for deer, especially in drought areas,” Dougherty said. “The exact opposite occurs if the plot faces the southwest sky such that it gets maximum energy from the sun and the soil temperatures can be significantly higher than the northern orientation. Southwestern slopes can be very droughty and difficult to grow plants during summer months.” These generalizations must be tempered with latitude. In upstate New York, the southwest exposure might be preferable because of a shorter growing season and lower average summer temperatures. Likewise, planting a north-facing plot in Alabama might help shelter the plot from radiation that could fry plants facing directly toward the sun.

Planting on Course “Smart plant managers will develop plots to all points of the compass,” Dougherty said. “Deer react to how well the grocery store is stocked, and how well it is stocked depends on how well the plot grows. All summer, deer will feed in the northern facing plots. These

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will also be the first to be affected by frost in the late fall or winter. As those plants become dormant, the browse tendency will shift toward the southeast and southwest, which typically will hold the last forage of the year. From a hunting strategy, you want to progress toward the warmer ground slopes as the hunting seasons progresses, as deer will usually feed on the lushest sides of the plots.” Planting by the compass helps to ensure that plots will survive according to seasonal variations of temperature and moisture. In high levels of rain, the southwest plots will produce better, whereas in years of drought and high temperature, the northern plots may do better. In this way, at least half of the plants will live up to their potential because they are best suited for the conditions of the year — too much rain or not enough. Ironically, the compass approach works well on small or very large food plots. Dougherty has observed that deer feeding in alfalfa fields in rolling topography will naturally select those plants according to their newness of growth. In early season when the sun is high and moisture is low, deer prefer plants in the valleys or on the north slopes of the rolling terrain, because those plants receive less direct sunlight. As the season progresses and the previous dining areas become more shaded and the soil cools, deer move toward the southwest where plants are benefitting from the more direct rays of fall.

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Dougherty works full time as a wildlife consultant assisting landowners and hunt club managers to maximize their deer health through food plots. Here are his recommendations for maximizing the success of your plots. Northern Slopes: Imperial Whitetail Clover. It is high in nutrition and is extremely attractive to deer well beyond the first frosts of late fall or winter. Southeastern Slopes: Chicory Plus or Imperial Whitetail Clover. Southeastern slopes are one of the easiest directions to grow plots because almost everything you plant looks good and grows well. South Slopes: Chicory Plus or Whitetail Extreme (if soil is sandy) Dougherty also recommends you consider planting hunting foods in this orientation and consider planting them in brassica products such as Winter-Greens or Tall Tine Tubers late in the summer. West/Southwest: Because this is the hottest and driest orientation, he recommends extreme caution when planting a perennial here and suggests holding this plot for a fall hunting source, such as No-Plow, Pure Attraction, Winter-Greens, or Tall Tine Tubers. W

A PLANT PLAN OF ACTION: “Based on my 20 years in food plots, typically two out of five years are too wet or too dry, and planting by the compass helps you plan for that,” Dougherty said. “On perfect years, you will grow lots of food everywhere. If you want to be a better deer manager and meet the nutritional needs of wildlife, be sure that you always have food in front of your animals. The easiest way to do that is to plant by the compass to help eliminate the weather factors. In drought years, northern slopes will keep producing so that your deer don’t travel to neighboring properties. In seasons of abundant moisture, the south-southwestern exposures will also be the ticket. www.whitetailinstitute.com


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The Drought Dilemma

Dry weather doesn’t have to be the end of your food plot By David Hart Photos by the Author

lame it on a string of unfortunate weather events or an act of God. Whatever the reason, this past year was one of the driest on record. More than half the contiguous United States was under what the National Climatic Data Center labeled moderate to exceptional drought in July 2012, and 78 percent was abnormally dry. Although autumn rains did help in some regions, things haven’t improved much throughout a large part of the country since. (I’m writing this in November 2012.) If that’s not enough, consider this: At least one region of whitetail country has been

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under an exceptional drought for at least the past six years. More bad news? Some predict the drought will become the most costly natural disaster in U.S. history if the current weather trends remain in place. And there’s a good chance they will, according to the National Weather Service. That’s troubling news for deer hunters who plant and maintain food plots. What should be a guaranteed way to draw deer and keep them on your property has turned into a gamble.

First, the Bad News Few if any food plot plants planted in the spring just a few months before the rain stopped, not even the most drought-tolerant ones, could survive through the extreme drought conditions parts of the country dealt with in 2012. Not only did the recently planted food plots struggle at best and most die, so did such crops as genetically modified soybeans, corn and wheat, all designed to withstand dry spells. Short of irrigating a food plot, there isn’t much a deer hunter can do to overcome the worst conditions.

fore we planted the first seed. We were also careful to make sure our perennial plots were in the best shape possible before it got dry.” That’s just part of the drought-defeating equation. Not only is it mandatory to get the dirt right, it’s also very important to choose the plants best-suited for that soil. Imperial Whitetail Clover, for example, isn’t the best choice for well-drained soil or a high spot that won’t hold moisture. Because they are shallow rooted, clovers tend to do best in heavier soil that holds moisture. That’s not to say clover won’t grow in a slightly drained soil but it is just less drought tolerant on that type of site. “Use a product that’s right for the type of soil you’ll be planting in and you won’t have to worry as much about negative weather situations,” Scott said. “Alfa-Rack Plus, Edge and Ex-

Hope for the hopeless There are, however, plenty of steps that can help reduce the effects of abnormally dry weather, said Whitetail Institute vice-president Steve Scott. First, the most important thing a food-plotter can do is get the soil right by conducting a soil test and amending the soil with the recommended amounts of lime and fertilizer. “Healthy plants in properly prepared soil will usually survive most drought situations,” he said. “Most of the food plots that we grew looked pretty bad during the worst of the drought, but once we started getting rain near the end of the summer, they ended up doing pretty well because we made sure the soil had the proper fertilizer and pH be-

No food plot plant will grow under a prolonged and extreme drought, but if the soil is properly amended prior to the harsh conditions, most plants will weather an average drought. www.whitetailinstitute.com


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treme are our most drought-tolerant perennial products because they include plants that are extremely deep rooted and are better adapted for well-drained soils.”

The Right Plant All of the above-mentioned products are perennial blends that offer a variety of forage options for the deer. Blends stand a better chance of giving the deer at least one food choice during harsh weather conditions. If one plant goes dormant, another might stay more vibrant and provide a more consistent food source. Blends will be much more likely to outperform single-seed products in adverse soil conditions that are common in food plot areas. As mentioned earlier, the seeds in AlfaRack Plus, Edge and Extreme grow a deep root system, so they can reach moisture deeper in the ground than plants like clover. That allows them to endure everything but the most extreme dry spells. The leaves might wither and appear dead during a drought, but most often the roots are just dormant, waiting for a good dose of water. When they get it, they’ll most often sprout new stems and leaves and do just fine. Imperial Whitetail Clover doesn’t have roots that grow as deep but it can tolerate some pretty harsh conditions if it’s already established before dry weather sets in. It might shrivel up and appear dead during the peak of a drought, but when it gets ample rain in the fall, it will most often rejuvenate and grow with vigor.

Timing is everything How well food plots do depends on when you plant them because no matter what you choose to plant, when you broadcast your seed will often determine the success of your food plots. Follow the recommended planting dates from Whitetail Institute. When the directions are followed, including the recommended planting dates, you should expect great results from various annual springplanted seeds like vining soybeans, lablab and other annuals found in Whitetail Institute’s Power Plant. The key, said Scott, is to get PowerPlant in after the last frost and after the ground temperature reaches 65 degrees but before the summer dry spell sets in. “When planting perennials in the spring, push the plant date as early as you think you can get away with it,” he added. For fallplanted seeds, instead of pushing the early

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The author waited until Virginia’s drought broke before he put down a bag of Whitetail Institute’s Winter Greens. The wait paid off.

date, aim for the tail end of the recommended planting dates. Put your clover in too early and it might get enough rain to sprout, but that rain might be followed by another hot, dry spell that can ultimately kill any tender sprouts. “The first rain is important, but the second rain is even more important,” Scott said. “Watch the weather. Although you can’t always count on the forecast, it at least can give you a pretty good idea if it’s a good time to plant.”

Be Nice to Your Plots By itself, a long, hot, dry spell can be tough on a food plot, but mowing or spraying it at the wrong time can spell the end of a plot hanging on the edge of survival. Scott said one of the worst things a food plotter can do is attempt to control the weeds when the plot plants are already stressed. Whether you use mechanical weed control like routine mowing or you prefer to spray herbicides, both

can be the kiss of death to your plots if done when the plants are already struggling from hot and dry weather. There’s no question unwanted plants like grasses and invasive broadleaf weeds rob your plots of critical moisture and nutrients, and can crowd out the “good” plants. However, it’s far better to leave the plot alone and wait until they get some rain and recover somewhat before mowing or spraying. “If it’s hot and dry, the weeds are probably dormant anyway, so there’s really no point in attempting to knock them back with a bush hog or a herbicide. Plants have to be actively growing in order for a herbicide to have any effect, and mowing during these hot and dry times will most likely do more harm than good,” Scott said. Spray or mow only after your plots become green and vibrant, even if it means waiting until the fall or even next spring to conduct some routine maintenance. When it’s hot and dry, doing nothing to a food plot is far better than doing the wrong thing. W www.whitetailinstitute.com


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


FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS and

Reap Big Rewards

By Gerald Almy Photo by the Author

hen all else fails, read the instructions. That’s a motto of too many people. Some think they’re too clever to need instructions. Others are simply too lazy and some are in too big of a hurry to wade through the advice most companies give about their products. 58 WHITETAIL NEWS

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I often fall into this camp, I hate to admit. Then when I sit in the middle of the floor surrounded by parts and bolts from some item I’m trying to put together, not knowing what to do next, I relent and read the words or look at the diagrams. I was that way with food plots, too, when I first started putting seeds in the ground to grow food for whitetails. I’d read a lot and figured I knew what I was doing. And who knows, maybe experimenting would lead to even better results or at least interesting ones. In fact, virtually every experiment in “improvising” and ignoring instructions just led to failure. A typical example is an experience I had with Tall Tine Tubers. I was talking on the phone with Steve Scott, vice president of the

Whitetail Institute, saying how I needed to get some of these great turnips in the ground quickly, even though it was only late May. Scott balked. Gently, he asked, “Isn’t that a little early?” “No,” I replied. “I want to be sure to get lots of growth on the leaves before fall.” “You might find it gets too hot for the plants,” he said. “The turnips could go to seed.” Well, to make a long story short, I ignored his advice. Not that I think I’m so smart. I guess I’m just stubborn. I had this idea in my head that I’d get a jump on things and grow bigger plants by getting them in earlier. But his words echoed in the back of my head as I sowed the seed. And by early August, those words rang all www.whitetailinstitute.com


too true. The Tall Tine Tubers grew quickly at first in May. But with my Imperial Clover plots thriving, the deer ignored the turnips during this early stage and fed on the lush green Imperial Whitetail Clover. And then, in short order, the brassica plants went to seed and died in the 100-degree summer sun. This was a hard lesson, but one I took to heart. It wasn’t the first time I’d had a food plot failure or poor results from trying to do it my own way. But it was one of the most dramatic ones. The combination of those flops and mediocre plots has turned me into a stickler for following instructions on Whitetail Institute of North America (WINA) seed bags, on its how-to video and its website. I’ve become a fanatic about not skipping steps. If you want to save a lot of headaches, you should be, too. In fact, the step I ignored in that particular case was so important it’s listed on the WINA bags as the second piece of advice. It’s given right after the initial statement (step 1) that you should, “Follow all instructions stepby-step.” Under “Planting Recommendations,” the bag says, “Step 2. Stay within the planting times for your state.” And right next to that advice on the left side of the bag are clear maps and time tables for fall and spring plantings, or just one time if two planting seasons are not possible. Some states are even divided into several regions if the climate can vary widely within the state. My state of Virginia, for example, has three regions: Mountain Valleys, South Piedmont and Coastal. So there’s no excuse for not putting seeds in during the four- to eight-week time frames typically given for a particular product. Scientists at WINA go through stringent experimenting over many years before releasing products. And they test them throughout North America in different regions to see when they grow best. Trying to wing it and put the seeds in at a different time than the one recommended can certainly lead to failure. In the case of my Tall Tine Tubers plot, failure could have resulted from going the opposite direction, too — by planting the seed too late. In that case, the seeds wouldn’t have had time to grow large enough to offer substantial leaves for deer to feed on or develop large turnips that they could dig up and eat during winter. This would have been less dramatic of a failure, but it still wouldn’t have

allowed the product to produce the maximum amount of forage possible. There are so many Whitetail Institute products that can be planted at different periods that simply being anxious to put in a plot when you have some free time is no excuse for ignoring the time frame instructions. Brassicas prefer cooler weather and in my location needed to be planted later in summer. If I simply wanted to be out in the fields working, there were other plants that could have gone in then. PowerPlant would have thrived if it was planted at that time of year in my area. Ignoring or altering other steps on the planting guides is also asking for trouble. Let’s go through them one by one and see exactly why skipping them can lead to poorer quality plots, or in some cases, total failure. We’ll begin with Step 3. Step 3 says to select an area with appropriate soils. This instruction will vary in details

depending on the type of seed you’re planting. That makes it especially important to pay attention to this advice. On Imperial Whitetail Clover, for example, the step says, “Select an area with heavy soil that holds moisture. If possible, avoid sandy soils, hilltops and hillsides that drain quickly.” Obviously with this step, you simply have to work within the constraints of what’s available on your land. But doing so as closely as possible can pay big dividends in a more attractive, thicker, taller crop that provides the maximum nutrients and thrives even in difficult weather conditions. If you didn’t have the type of soil recommended for Imperial Clover but have hillier, lighter upland soils, Alfa-Rack Plus might be a better selection. A good idea here, if you’re unsure what to plant, is to call the experts at WINA and talk it over. They’ll have specific recommendations for the soil conditions you describe to them.

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WHITETAIL NEWS 59


This is another step I’ve overlooked when planting Imperial Clover in the past. The Imperial Whitetail Clover plots I’ve put in on upland, drier soils live and grow, but they never do as well as my plots in the moistureholding bottomlands suggested in the instructions. Step 4. Do a soil test. This step might be as specific as do a “soil test for a Giant White Clover.” You need to find out what type of fertilizer combination is required for each particular seed or seed mixture and you need to find out the pH of the soil to determine how much lime should be added. Skipping this step and just putting in a generalized fertilizer mixture or an average amount of lime is a big mistake. Every plot site has a different type of soil, different nutrient needs and different pH levels. Taking the time to do a soil test, through the Whitetail Institute or your local farm co-op, is

worth the small investment in time and money. Sure, a crop will come up even if you don’t add exactly the right amount of fertilizer or lime. But it will never compare in tonnage or taste appeal or nutrients provided to the animals with a plot where you’ve carefully determined fertilizer and lime needs and applied these products appropriately. Step 5. Disk the ground thoroughly to prepare a good seed bed. After you’re selected a food plot site and killed existing vegetation, disking or tilling the ground repeatedly is a good practice. The amount of disking necessary will vary with the site and what it was used for previously. You need to break up the big clots of dirt and destroy any remaining vegetation. “If weedy or new ground,” the instructions say, “disk again in three to five days.” The point is to get the soil clumps thor-

oughly broken up for good seed-to-soil contact and even distribution of the seed. Step 6. Prepare a good, firm seed bed. For best results use a cultipacker or heavy roller to smooth and firm the soil. If no cultipacker is available, use a weighted fence-type drag. (You can see the Whitetail Institute’s DVD for details.) This is a step many people seem to skip. They figure they’ll cultipack or roll the seed after they plant. That’s a mistake with small seeds. If you don’t firm up the seed bed first, a lot of seed will slip down too deep to germinate and be smothered. And you also won’t get as good a seed-to-soil contact as necessary for a high percentage of germination. The instructions make a special point of emphasizing this: “Notice: We are cultipacking before seeds are sewn.” Step 7. With a good seed bed prepared, broadcast the seed. The amount will vary with the particular product you’re planting.

Whitetail Institute

One of the steps for a successful food plot involves properly preparing the seed bed.

60 WHITETAIL NEWS

/ Vol. 23, No. 1

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W H I T E TA I L I N S T I T U T E A P PA R E L CAPS All our Whitetail Institute caps and visors are made from top quality cotton, and feature detailed embroidered logos and graphics. Caps: $9.95, Visors: $8.95 (Please add $5.50 for shipping and handling.)

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The Whitetail Institute is proud to offer Imperial Whitetail WinterGreens, our annual brassica blend designed specifically for late season food plot sources and hunting opportunities. Winter-Greens blend of brassica is extremely attractive, and during tests was preferred 4 to 1 over other brassica products tested. Winter-Greens stands tall and stays green, even in the coldest winter weather. The colder it gets the more sweet and attractive it becomes which creates perfect food plots for late season hunting. So this year plant our highly drought resistant WinterGreens and give your deer a valuable source of nutrients for the winter season.

FREE Trial Offer! Offer 1 — only $9.95 (shipping and handling) FREE all new DVD; FREE N0-Plow™ FREE Imperial Clover™; FREE Alfa-Rack™ PLUS FREE Chicory PLUS™; FREE Chic Magnet™ FREE Winter-Greens™; FREE Double-Cross™ (each sample plants 100 sq. ft.)

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The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail Pintlala, AL 36043

Research = Results™ 62 WHITETAIL NEWS

/ Vol. 23, No. 1

For Imperial Clover, 8 pounds per acre is recommended. Put in the amount suggested. If you err on the side of too much seed, you’ll have too many plants germinating. They’ll have to compete for available moisture and nutrients and may not grow to their fullest potential. If you use too little seed, the result is all too clear: lots of soil without plants growing on it. That’s an open invitation for weeds to take over and less food production for the deer than you could have had from the land. Step 8. After broadcasting the seed, use a cultipacker or some type of heavy roller to roll over the field. You might be tempted to skip this step because you did it already before you broadcasted the seed. Don’t do it. The instructions explain, “This presses seed into the ground and helps ensure better seed-to-soil contact and germination. If you don’t have a roller or cultipacker, you can pull a fence-type drag over it.” Another part of this instruction step stresses the importance of putting the seed in the ground at the appropriate depth. With small seeds such as clover, for instance, this means 1/4-inch or less. Products such as Whitetail Oats Plus and PowerPlant can be disked in deeper, but clover seeds will not germinate well if you bury them more than 1/4inch. Step 9. Step 9 stresses that there are many factors that can influence the success or failure of a food plot and the quality of plant growth it offers deer. It says, “Imperial Whitetail Clover is a high-quality forage seed. Proper planting effort, favorable soil, weather conditions and good timing can contribute to the success of your planting and the ultimate impact on the quality of your deer and wildlife.” This step is really simply a reminder of and a justification for being a stickler for following instructions carefully and not skipping steps. You can’t change the soil you have to work with and you can’t change the vagaries of the weather. So taking the time to do things exactly right with the steps of putting in a food plot at least gives you all the odds in your favor in the things you can control. Step 10. Step 10 suggests placing a wire basket over a portion of the crop so wildlife can’t graze that area. “Watch the difference inside and outside the basket.” Of all the steps of the instructions, this one would certainly be the least harmful to skip. But why would you want to? Who wouldn’t like to see the contrast between the plants inside and outside of the cage and see how much good nutrition you’re providing the whitetails using your land? Step 11. “Do not plant during hot, dry weather.” This final advice on the Imperial Whitetail Clover bag is one I try to follow as best I can, and you should, too. It’s clear why this step is listed. Dry weather can mean your seeds won’t have enough moisture to germinate. And if it’s extremely hot, those plants that do emerge might perish from the withering heat and lack of moisture. With some of the droughts we’ve been having in many parts of the country recently, this is a hard step to follow. But as with all the others, by ignoring it you’re gambling with the chance of failure, and wasting the time, money and physical effort on a project that might be doomed. Show patience. Wait for a predicted rain and cooling trend, and then get your crop in ahead of it. Like all the other instructions on WINA products, there’s a valid reason for this advice. Follow it, and you’ll be glad you did. W

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Whitetail Institute Products Help Produce the #1 and #2 Pope & Young Whitetails in Wyoming By Mike Schmid Photos by the Author

purchased the Solitude Ranch in Fall 2001. This land, in the shadow of Devils Tower, is full of whitetail deer, an animal that I have enjoyed chasing for more than 25 years. I had a lot of reasons for making an investment like this, but one in particular was to try my hand at managing these fascinating critters. 64 WHITETAIL NEWS

/ Vol. 23, No. 1

The ranch is roughly 8,500 acres, consisting of 800 acres of alfalfa hay fields, timbered ridges full of Ponderosa pine, rolling hills with patches of bur oak, and red rock canyons filled with bur oak, springs, and seeps. In other words, it’s great habitat for Western whitetail deer. After I purchased the ranch and got to know some of my neighbors and some of the locals, I started asking questions about the deer, habitat and hunting tactics. I asked many of them if anyone tried to manage the www.whitetailinstitute.com


deer, and whether anyone planted any food plots, provided any supplemental feed or offered any type of mineral supplement. The answer was always the same. They said it couldn’t be done because of the dry climate. This area of the country only receives about 16 inches of annual precipitation. Well, I took their words as a challenge. There had to be something out there that would work. After trying various brands of food plot mixes, minerals and supplemental feed, I settled on the Whitetail Institute and its products. Today, we plant around 120 acres of food plots. We use Whitetail Institute’s Tall Tine Tubers and Double Cross for this part of our program. My goal is to eventually have 250 acres planted with these products strategically placed throughout the ranch. We chose Whitetail Institute’s Cutting Edge for the mineral supplement part of program. I really believe that using this mineral system makes complete sense. It gives the deer exactly what they need during the three crucial times of the year to benefit their overall health. We blend the Cutting Edge products with our supplemental feed. This combination is dispensed on a weekly basis throughout the 25

feed stations we have on the ranch. Needless to say, the whitetails love the Solitude Ranch. I have many pictures and video footage of great bucks pulling the turnips out of the Tall

Tine Tubers fields. They have the whole turnip in their mouth and chew it down till it’s gone, and then go right after another one. I also have tons of footage of the deer with their noses buried in the Cutting Edge mineral mix. They absolutely love this stuff. It has been eight years since we started managing the deer on the Solitude Ranch. We believe we have found the secret to producing and growing trophy whitetails in a part of the country not known to do so. We believe that by planting quality food plot products and offering mineral supplements it has not only changed the way we hunt deer but we are taking bigger, better and healthier deer. Our deer continue to be more impressive every year — so impressive we have a lot of folks hunting our fence lines. As it turns out, you can manage and produce great whitetails in a dry climate. There isn’t any doubt this would not have been possible without incorporating the awesome products provided by the Whitetail Institute. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Since incorporating these products the Solitude Ranch is now home to where the No. One and No. Two Pope and Young typical whitetail deer in Wyoming were taken. W

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

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

Vol. 23, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 65


REAL HUNTERS DO THE TALKING about Whitetail Institute products… (Continued from page 19)

I

n late July through early August I plowed, disked, seeded, and cultipacked my food plots with great anticipation of the upcoming hunting season. I had earlier in the summer decided that my fall planting choice was to be Whitetail Institute’s Tall Tine Tubers. I cannot explain exactly why, but I was very excited about this seed variety. Maybe it was because I had previously had some success with turnips. Or maybe it was because I always get excited about trying something new! In any event it was a happy planting process. I was very surprised at how quickly the Tall Tine Tubers germinated. It seemed like overnight, although realistically it was probably three to five days. I feared the deer would eat it all long before the hunting season, as they have so many times before, yet they did not. I had above ground leaves that were 10 inches to 12 inches high (generally), and in some cases higher. The turnips matured to be like small pumpkins. Never have I seen turnips of this

size. I remember thinking “are they too big?” Fast forward to hunting season. The archery season was good overall, however the last week was intense from a rutting behavior standpoint. Especially in the Tall Tine Tuber plots. I took a nice buck during the last week of archery season in the Tall Tines Tubers and was ready to call both the planting and hunting seasons a success. Little did I know what was ahead… Opening Day: 7:30 a.m.: Two shots fired in a Tall Tine Tubers field. End result: a 4-1/2-year-old, 200-plus-pound deer was down with my father’s hands on a trophy rack. 1:40 p.m.: One shot fired in a Tall Tine Tubers field. End result: a 4-1/2-year-old, 185-pound deer was down with my hands on a trophy rack. 3:30 p.m.: One shot fired, not in a Tall Tine Tubers field, but coming from the direction of one. End result: a 3-1/2-year-old, 200-pound deer was down with my best friend’s hands on a trophy rack. In summary, what a year. What an unbelievable year. Three trophy animals taken, by three different hunters, on the same property, on the same day, all in or near Tall Tine Tubers plots. It has been more than a month since our magical day, and each of us still talks as if it happened yesterday. All three deer mentioned are presently at the taxidermist, so I guess one could say it was an expensive year. The memories are worth every penny. I am not sure who to thank more. Whitetail Institute for producing such an incredible food plot product or my father and best friend for being there to share in such a special day!

S

tarted out by using Imperial Whitetail Clover and it was a lot bigger clover and lasted longer than the Ladino clover I’ve used in the past. My does seem healthier with Imperial Whitetail Clover. I also had real good luck with Alfa-Rack. The bucks and does came in my plots even when hunting pressure was on. I’ve enclosed a few photos.

Bob Vonch — Indiana

Paul Wurster — New York

S

ince using Whitetail Institute products I’m seeing more deer, turkeys, rabbits and bear! The deer are healthier and have bigger racks! The turkeys, rabbits and even bear are tearing up the Imperial Whitetail Clover. The Imperial Whitetail Clover is the best year around food plot seed out there! There’s nothing better! The WinterGreens are like a magnet in the winter time. The 30-06 Mineral/Vitamin supplement is unreal! There are knee deep holes where we placed the supplement. Every one of Whitetail Institute products that my friends, customers and I have used do exactly what Whitetail Institute says they do! Whitetail Institute products are amazing and I will continue using them.

Dewey Gaskins Jr. — North Carolina

66 WHITETAIL NEWS

/ Vol. 23, No. 1

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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Suggested Retail: $120.00 (44 lbs. - 1-Acre Planting)

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WINTER PEAS™ YOU SAVE $10.00

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IMPERIAL

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

Vol. 23, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 69


ETHAN SMITH – Indiana

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My name is Ethan Smith. I am 10 years old and I live in Gibson County, Indiana. I have hunted since I was six and have taken several does, but this is my first buck. My dad and I hunt on our own land and planted Imperial Whitetail Clover two years ago for our deer. We have already noticed that we see more bucks on our property and that the bucks have gotten bigger. Since we planted the clover, we’ve seen 15-20 deer in our food plot every evening. I shot my buck on opening morning last season. I took my shot at 12 yards when the buck stopped to look for does in our food plot. He only ran about 40 yards and fell. It was a great day. Imperial Whitetail Clover has really made our hunting better. My dad and I say thanks Whitetail Institute.

TODD YODER – Virginia Brothers Double Up! Once again we planted Imperial Whitetail Clover and once again we are impressed more than ever. This year we planted Imperial Whitetail Clover in the spring and also planted Whitetail Oats Plus in the late fall. I took my two boys out for the Indiana youth deer hunting weekend. My wife and I took our 6 year old son out on our farm. And our 8 year old went with my brother Greg on his farm. My 8 year old son, Mark, shot his second deer over Whitetail Oats Plus on my brother’s farm. Photo 1. í˘˛ My wife and I were hunting with our son Caleb — hoping he could kill his first deer. The trail camera’s told us that there had been a lot of deer feeding on the food plots. Our Saturday evening hunt is one I’ll never forget. We saw over 27 deer and over 9 were bucks. We had four bucks come in at one time and Caleb shot and missed, but was able to connect with a doe later that evening! Photo 2. From September to December every time we went out we saw 20 to 30 deer come out to the food plots. It was amazing to see how these food plots brought in the deer. We were seeing some incredible bucks also this year. My dad connected with an 8 pointer and a friend missed a 150 class buck. Thank you Whitetail Institute for such incredible products. I tell PAUL everyone and anyone about Whitetail Institute. Some friends just purchased a WILKERSON – couple of bags. I can’t wait until next year. Michigan

í˘ą

ANASTASIA FIEBIG – Wisconsin It was opening day and I was excited and nervous. I had been “hunting� deer with my camera since I was eight. I knew we had big deer around the area because the year before a nice eight point had come to graze on the food plot of Double-Cross I was sitting over. It was my first, up close brush with a big buck. I was so jumpy that I knocked my hat off and dropped my gloves. I couldn’t wait to harvest such a beautiful animal. I had hunted through bow season and came up empty-handed. I knew if I was going to shoot my first whitetail I was going to have to do it now. I went up to The Buddy-stand with my dad. We were overlooking a nice 2.5 acre plot that had Extreme and Imperial Clover in the middle encircled by PowerPlant with a lot of deer activity. We sat all morning and saw a coyote but no deer. After coming down and eating lunch at around noon. My dad and I went back up for another try. I was discouraged after seeing nothing all day and we began packing up. There was only a few minutes left of opening day. I kept alert while my dad began getting everything together. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement. I tapped my dad and pointed in the direction I had seen the rustling of brush. He looked there and back at me. Yes! It was a deer. It looked like a big doe and I decided to take it. It walked through the PowerPlant to nibble on the clover. A few more steps and I would have my shot. Finally she gave me a shot. KABOOM! The deer took off. By the time both my dad and I were out of the stand and ready to go it was too late to look for my deer. We came back in the morning and found it almost right away. I had two surprises. First, the coyotes ate half of one hindquarter, and second, my doe was a buck. In the light I could clearly see one, three inch tine. The other tine didn’t grow and was a little knob on the head. It wasn’t what I had dreamed my first buck to be, but I wouldn’t trade it for the biggest monster buck-ever. I was glad I got to experience my first buck with my dad, my uncles, and close friends Tony and Steve. It was a perfect first buck.

My 8 year old son, Logan Wilkerson shot his first buck at 40 yards with a muzzleloader and 90 grains of powder. We saw this buck on our trail camera in our field of Imperial Whitetail Clover with a bigger 8 point shedding his velvet. We nicknamed him pronghorn. Imperial Whitetail Clover is a great product that really brings in the deer.

Send your First Deer picture and story to Whitetail Institute of North America, 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala 36043, Att.: First Deer Dept. If your story and picture are used on Aimpoint’s First Deer page, you will be eligible to win an Aimpoint red dot sight in a random drawing!

70 WHITETAIL NEWS

/ Vol. 23, No. 1

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Whitetail News Vol 23.1  

Whitetail News Volume 23 Issue 1

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