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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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www.whitetailinstitute.com See page 30

■ MANIPULATING THE LANDSCAPE FOR HUNTING SUCCESS See page 19

■ NEW LATE-SEASON FORAGE See page 56

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In This Issue… FEATURES 12 14

Advantages of Fall Planting By Jon Cooner The spring season isn’t necessarily the best time to plant Meeting at the Secret Spot Kentucky hunter utilizes personal food plot product

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Families Afield: Breaking the Barriers for Kids and Mentors By Tom Fegely A program to introduce youth to hunting

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Chicory Plus — for the “Deer Days” of Summer By Jon Cooner

19 22

Winter-Greens: The Wait is Over! A Family Affair

By Jon Cooner

Wisconsin father and daughter plant Extreme and see the results

24 30

Trespassers! By Charles Alsheimer How do you solve a trespassing problem?

Dealing with trespassers! Page 24

Manipulating the Landscape for Hunting Success

By Bill Winke

Mold your property for an increased hunting advantage

40

Creating a Hunting Hotspot

By Lou Haubner and Tim Hooey, as told to Rick Sapp Learn about a transformed property

44

Maps and Megabucks By Brad Herndon Studying geography can give a hunter a different perspective

50

Buck of a Lifetime on Imperial Clover By Kevin Brown Food plot product produces memorable hunting experience

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Tricks for Taking Does – Without Hurting Your Buck Hunting By Steve Bartylla Doe harvest is crucial, so what is the best method?

56

Experts Reveal Their Secrets By Captain Michael Veine How two top deer hunters consistently tag trophy-class whitetails

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Vet Makes Scientific Product Choices

Page 44

Ohio hunter prefers No-Plow

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Track the Estrous Does… and Find the Bucks By John Ozoga During the rut, “hunting” for does isn’t a bad idea

68

QDM Produces Trophy Bucks By Aaron Zobrist Illinois hunters experince benefits of quality food plots

DEPARTMENTS 4

A Message From Ray Scott Passing the hunting tradition on!

5

Scientifically Speaking By Wiley C. Johnson, PhD Tips for long-lasting perennial plots.

6

Deer Nutrition Notes

8

Ask Big Jon By Jon Cooner Real questions from real customers

10

How I Do It By Doug Below An in-depth look at an actual deer management program

20 38 43 63 70

Field Testers’ Reports Record Book Bucks Winter-Greens Planting Dates Fall Planting Dates First Deer – The Future of Our Sport

By Matt Harper On the road again: Tales from the show circuit

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Vol. 16, No. 2 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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

Passing the Hunting Tradition On!

Whitetail Institute OFFICERS AND STAFF FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT: RAY SCOTT Vice President of Operations .........................Wilson Scott Vice President............................................................Steve Scott Operations Manager:....................................William Cousins Agronomist & Director of Forage Research.........................Wiley Johnson, Ph.D. Nutrition Director....................................................Brent Camp Deer Nutrition Specialist.....................................Matt Harper National Sales Manager...................................Mark Trudeau Wildlife Biologist.............................................Jody Holbrooks Director of Communications.......................Chris Eubanks Whitetail News Managing Editor ............Bart Landsverk Contributing Writers ...Charles Alsheimer, Tom Fegely, Jim Casada, Brad Herndon, John Ozoga, Bill Winke, Monte Burch, R.G. Bernier, Jon Cooner, Bill Marchel, Judd Cooney, Michael Veine, Steve Bartylla , Dr. Carroll Johnson, III Product Consultants .............Jon Cooner, Brandon Self, John White, J.B. Smith Dealer/Distributor Sales......................................John Buhay, Greg Aston, Jon Cooner, Shawn Lind Habitat Management Specialist...............Neil Dougherty Accounting & Logistics ....................................Steffani Hood Office Manager................................................Dawn McGough Internet Customer Service Manager.............Mary Jones Shipping Manager .................................................Marlin Swain Copy Editor ................................................................Susan Scott Advertising Director........Wade Atchley, Atchley Media

W

hen I checked my work calendar last night, I was reminded that my first priority today was to write my column for this issue of Whitetail News. This morning, I came in to the office early to use the few quiet hours before the rest of the staff arrives, the phones start ringing off their hooks, and my attention will be directed to servicing the needs of our customers. Last night, I made a few notes about possible topics for my column. These included a recap of the huge successes The Whitetail Institute enjoyed in 2005 with the introduction of Insight Ladino Clover and Chicory Plus, and our new products for 2006, Imperial WinterGreens and Kraze attractant. As I sat in the silence of my office this morning, though, something else occurred to me and prompted me to take a slightly different tack. As is the case in most offices, the trappings of a working life are here. But there are also reminders of events in my personal life - photographs of friends, family and hunts shared over many years, and the nick knacks I bought or received as presents during a lifetime of hunting across our great country. These are my reminders that our hunting way of life is a tradition, and that it is much more than just the act of harvesting a game animal. It goes deeper – much deeper. Sharing time in the woods especially offers parents the opportunity to bond with their sons and daughters in a

uniquely private and soulful way that cannot be duplicated in any other environment. It also allows us to pass on to our children the understanding of how we are part of the natural world and stewards of its bounty. All of us at The Whitetail Institute recognize the responsibility we share, as individuals and as a company, to pass along our hunting heritage to our sons and daughters, and to others that are new to it. Our goal is to help them both understand and cherish who and what we are – an integral part of nature, as well as its protectors and conservators. An example of our commitment to this responsibility is the special section we have added to Whitetail News about young hunters and their first deer. In this issue, the section appears on page 70. I urge you to read it. In closing, all of us at The Whitetail Institute pledge to continue to do all we can to ensure that our hunting way of life continues from generation to generation. And we deeply appreciate, and thank all of our supporters for giving us, the opportunity to fulfill that responsibility.

Ray Scott

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

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SC I E NT I FI C A LLY SP E A K I N G By Wiley C. Johnson, PhD, Institute Agronomist

Tips for Long-Lasting Perennial Plots

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hitetail perennial food plot seed blends such as Imperial Clover, Alfa-Rack Plus, Chicory PLUS, and Extreme have the potential of providing many years of extremely high quality deer food. Obviously, they all require effort and expense for establishment. They also need some care for continued productivity. You need to be alert for insect infestations because they can cause significant damage if not controlled. You may go years without an insect problem, but be alert. Plant diseases will build up and weaken plants so that adverse weather will take them out. Chemical disease control is generally not appropriate for forage plants. The best disease control is prevention by crop rotation where possible, fully utilizing forage produced to avoid excessive accumulated growth, and provide for vigorous forage plant growth (adequate fertility). Invasive weeds may become damaging but normally can be controlled by timely mowing and herbicide use. Generally, the primary factor in keeping a strong perennial food plot is soil fertility including lime. Nitrogen (N) is used and lost in large quantities from food plots each year. However legumes such as alfalfa and clover can provide adequate N. It is considered that if the food plot forage contains at least 50%

legume there will be little or no response to added N. Most soils in the eastern U.S. originally were very low in phosphorus (P). The lush vegetation was possible because as plants died and decomposed the P contained in their tissues was returned to the soil and available for replacing vegetation. When the native vegetation was destroyed for crop production and the crops then removed from the land, it is of no surprise that P deficiency quickly developed. Since then P containing fertilizers have regularly been added. The nature of P in the soil is such that much of that applied is still there. It is now unusual to find agricultural soils with low P content. Adequate P is essential for seedling growth and development but with mature plants and their well developed root system P deficiency is unusual. Normally some P is applied annually to established stands but not in large quantities. Potassium (K) is the mineral most in demand for mature legume plots. This is especially true for somewhat sandy, low clay content soils. Part of the K is associated with the clay structure of the soil and is not available to plants until it is released. This is not bad since this allows the soil to store K and releases it throughout the year. The remainder of the K is in the soil solution and readily available to plants. Unfortunately it is also

subject to loss by leaching. Some plants, especially grasses, will take up K far in excess of what the plant can use. This usually happens right after K fertilization. If is not unusual to have K deficient clover and fescue with excessive K content. A fast way to eliminate clover, especially on a sandy soil and when grown with fescue is to allow the soil to become K deficient. The main mineral nutrients to be concerned with are N, P, and K. Other mineral elements may become limiting but only rarely. However you must keep a close watch on the pH or acid status of the soil. It is a fact of life that soils will become more acid with time. This emphasizes that an occasional soil test is needed to indicate when lime is needed and also when and how much P and K are needed. When to fertilize? Usually annually any time during the season but the best time is soon before maximum growth. The best advice I can give is to soil test every two years and follow its recommendations. W

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Vol. 16, No. 2 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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D E E R N U T R I T I O N N OT E S By Matt Harper, Institute Deer Nutrition Specialist

On the Road Again: Tales From the Show Circuit

I

have to admit, I do like Willie Nelson. But then again, what red-blooded, American country boy doesn’t? I have spent many a late night traveling down some seldom-used back-country highway with Willie as my co-captain and only compatriot. I guess you could say we have a certain kinship, both of us traveling mile upon mile across this great country Starting each year about the first of January, I set off on an epic adventure filled with dangerous perils and moments of great tribulation. It is an exhausting journey where I may be driven to point of collapse suffering from days without sleep and proper nourishment. Near starvation causes lack of good judgment, which in turn causes me to eat nearly anything regardless of who made it and what unthinkable thing it was made from. It is a trip filled with far-off, exotic locations where the inhabitants may be far from friendly and I may find myself alone and outnumbered. And when I lay down to sleep at night, I take what meager precautions I can to lock out the wilds of the outside, only to find out my chamber is filled with scurrying things that also call this place their home. Days and weeks will pass away from friends and loved ones. I tell you friends, many a strong and hearty man has began this journey with boasts of triumph and conquest only to come staggering home with barely an ounce of mental faculties remaining. What is this quest you may ask? Is it traveling across endless sun-scorched deserts or traveling across the barren and frozen ice packs of the Arctic? Or is it traversing a dense jungle filled with man-eating beasts and venomous reptiles? No my friends, the journey I speak of is far more dangerous. It is the yearly trek of the Traveling Seminar Speaker and Hunting-show Vendor. OK, maybe I am being just a bit melodramatic, but traveling around the country doing speaking engagements and manning the booth at outdoors shows is not a walk in the park either. First, there is the road time and then there are the 12-hour days standing on concrete and slinging bags of seed. Of course, the nutritional fare of the day consists of abundant helpings of hot dogs, nachos, Coke and anything that can either be put on a stick or doused in chili. And one can expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of a day’s wages for just one of these healthy meals. When the day is done and you drag yourself back to the hotel, you then commence your nightly ritual of pest control (which can be both insect and human), death-defying ventures to the bathroom and cramming your head deep in the pillow to ward off the ruckus of your next door neighbors on the other side of the paper-thin wall. Yes, shows can be trying for even the most seasoned show carney. But for all their difficulties, shows can also be fun, rewarding and informative. Over the past few years it has been my great pleasure to manage over the chaos of some of these events. I have done as many as 20 shows in a year and have conducted hundreds of seminars. For me, the most important part of my job at both shows and seminars is to talk with our customers and help answer their questions. And let me tell you

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

For me, the most important part of my job at both shows and seminars is to talk with our customers and help answer their questions. And let me tell you something, I have heard a few questions in my tenure. They can range from the complex to the bizarre. something, I have heard a few questions in my tenure. They can range from the complex to the bizarre. Most, however, are excellent questions from people very interested in improving the quality of deer on their property, and I am a firm believer that there are no bad questions. In this article, I would like to share of few of the more memorable inquiries I have received at seminars and shows. I hope you will find my answers useful. Question: Does this $#!% really work? This is a fairly common question, and it is usually asked at the end of the day after the beverages have been flowing for an hour or two. I do not take offense at the question because, after all, advertisements, infomercials and marketing campaigns all say one product or another is the best thing since the proverbial sliced bread. It is no wonder that consumers become somewhat jaded, and they truthfully do want to know if the stuff you are selling really works. Answer: “Well, actually, no it doesn’t work, but when we sell some it helps pay for the $15 Coke and hot dog combo we had for dinner.’ This may be what I want to say at the end of a long day but my actual answer is more like the following: “I assure you that our products do work, for two main reasons. First, each one goes through exhausting amounts of research before it is ever introduced to the market. The product is tested at all five of our research centers and then sent to certified testers located throughout the U.S. If it does not live up to our high expectations, the test product is brought back to the drawing board; and the researchers start over. “Only after a test product has been tested and approved by an overwhelming majority of these testers will it be introduced to the market. That is why it normally takes at least three, and sometimes as many as six, years for a product to go from the initial design to

the market. The second reason I can assure you our products work is that we have been in business since 1988 and continue to sell more and more product each year. In fact, more than one million acres of Whitetail Institute products have been planted since our company was founded. We do not have camo, game calls, treestands or any other merchandise to fall back on if our products don’t work and I wouldn’t be standing here talking to you today. Question: The label on your Imperial Whitetail Clover says it is 33 percent inert matter. Are you just trying to sell me dirt? At first glance, a seed product having 33 percent of something that is not seed would certainly look kind of odd. In fact, some of our competitors try to use this as a selling point against us. However, if you know the facts, the 33 percent inert matter we have in the Imperial Whitetail Clover is actual a selling point for us and a big benefit for our customers. Answer: “The 33 percent inert matter you find on the label is actually seed coating. We coat our Imperial Whitetail Clover seed for one very important reason—it increases the germination percentage and can more than double the seedling survivability. Also located in the coating around our seed is innoculant, which is vital for seed germination as well. Because it is it located in the coating, the innoculant will be right next to the seed as the coating breaks down and the seed starts to germinate. This is far better than simply mixing coating with raw seed, or even worse, spreading raw seed without innoculant. Without innoculant, seed germination can be substantially reduced. “Another thing that coating can do is help decrease false germination. False germination takes place when a seed receives a small amount of moisture causing it to germinate but not enough to survive. This can occur even with heavy dew. A coated seed must have adequate amounts of moisture to break down the coating, increasing the odds that there is adequate moisture available to sustain the young seedling. Also, some types of materials used in the coating can actually help neutralize the pH of the soil in the immediate area around the seed to further improve survivability. In other words, we coat our seeds because ours are premium products, and we want to give you the best chance of planting success. After all, you are not buying a product based on the number of seeds in a bag, but the number of live plants you will have in the field.” Question: I planted your stuff, read all the directions on the back of the bag, and nothing grew. What do you have to say about that? I saved this one for the last, as it is probably my favorite out of thousands of questions and conversations I have had. In 99 percent of these cases, I can identify the reason for a product not performing. The reasons can range from poor pH and planting error to problems out of anyone’s control such as lack of rain, too much rain or some other weather-related situation. Our products are designed to be extremely droughtresistant, cold-tolerant and, overall, very hardy. But extreme weather conditions can sometimes spell the

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end of a good food plot. There is, of course, that one percent that I simply cannot explain. But then again, having farmed for many years, I realize you are dealing with a complex interaction between seed, soil and weather. Sometimes you just can’t explain Mother Nature. This is definitely not the case in the story I am about to share with you. In this particular instance, I was at a trade show, and it was the busiest time of the day. The line at our booth was about three or four people deep, stretching across the entire front of our space. There were four of us working the booth, and each of us was busy helping customers. All of the sudden, I sensed a disturbance in the atmosphere. I can’t explain it, but if you do enough shows, you will find that you can pick up on such things. I looked up from what I was doing and saw a man walking directly toward our booth from about 50 yards out. He was walking with a focus and a purpose, coming straight at us. I seemed to recall an image I had seen on some nature show watching a lion that had picked out its prey and was single mindedly closing in for the kill. The man seemed to have an entourage with him forming a “V� shape with him at the center, and he was slicing through the other show-goers as he steadily came toward us. My compatriots must have also noticed him, because when he arrived at the booth, I looked around for the rest of the crew, but they had mysteriously vaporized. By now, the rest of the customers at our booth had also noticed him. It might have had something to do with the fact that he had started yelling obscenities about 20 feet before he got to the booth, but then again, I can’t be sure. For the purpose of this story, let’s say the guy’s name was

Frank. Following is the dialogue that ensued. Frank: “I got a #%$@!#& problem with you and that #%$@!#& product you sell.� OK, now I knew he wasn’t just coming up to try and talk me out of a hat. Me: “Sir, what seems to be the problem?� Frank: “I will tell you what the problem is. (He was cooperating so far.) I planted your $#!% and nothing came up.� Me: In a polite tone, “Sir, did you follow all the instructions of the back of the bag?� Frank: “Hell yes I did. I read every #%$@!#& word of it.� To save you some of the rest of the vulgarity, the next 10 minutes went by with me asking questions to try to figure out what happened. Frank was becoming more heated by the minute and teaching me new cuss words and combinations of those words I had not known previously. Actually, we were drawing quite an audience, and I think Frank was feeding off it, as his tone began to rise and he looked around for glass to start breaking. Eventually I got around to asking him what product he planted, which is where I will pick up the conversation. Me: “Sir, which one of the products did you plant?� Frank: “I planted the one in the blue bag.� Me: I gave Frank a curious look, “Sir, we do not have a seed in a blue bag.� And at the time, we did not. Frank: “Yes you do, it’s that #%$@!#& blue bag right there.� Me: I followed his projected finger to the product he was pointing at and then turned slowly, “Sir, that is 30-06, a mineral/vitamin supplement. Is that what you planted?� Frank: “#%$@ yes, and not a bit of it grew.�

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By this time I was starting to hear a few chuckles rising from the gathered crowd. Me: “Sir, are you sure you read the back of the bag because you planted a mineral/vitamin supplement.� I think Frank was starting to feel the pendulum change, and the crowd, including his posse, was turning on him. Frank: A little less defiantly, “Well, will any of it ever come up?� Me: “Sir, I highly doubt it because what you have is a half-acre mineral lick.� At that, Frank realized his error and shrank into the crowd and disappeared without another word. It is certainly not my intent to poke fun at someone’s mistake. Goodness knows I have messed up many a project by skipping the important step of reading the directions. The point of the story is to always follow the directions of the back of the bag. On the back of each bag you will find a complete list of instructions from soil sampling, to planting procedure, to planting dates, to maintenance. Following these directions greatly increases your odds of success. I hope you have enjoyed reading about some of the experiences of being a traveling show vendor, and most importantly, I hope you learned a few things along the way. In all honesty, I do enjoy the shows and seminars very much, as they let me visit one-on-one with our customers. And, of course, there are the glamour, fame, riches and accolades that come with being a professional outdoor show vendor. You know, maybe I was wrong. Maybe Willie and I are more alike than I thought. Or maybe that delusion is coming from the half-frozen chili/cheese, jalapeno, microwave bean burrito I just ate. W

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WHITETAIL NEWS

7


ASK BIG JON By Jon Cooner, Institute Sales Consultant

Common Questions — Straightforward Answers You advertise that Whitetail Institute perennials can last three to five years or longer. What do I have to do to make them last that long?

Q

This is one of the most common questions our inhouse consultants receive. Whether or not your perennial plot will last up to three to five years as intended depends on a number of things. Mother Nature must cooperate, of course, but there are factors you control that can heavily influence the life span of your Whitetail Institute perennial plot. These include choosing the correct forage for your soil type and performing the maintenance steps recommended for that forage by the Whitetail Institute. To choose the correct forage for your conditions, be sure to consider the soil type in which you will be planting. Remember that Imperial Whitetail Clover and Chicory Plus are intended for heavy, bottomland soils that hold moisture well. Imperial Alfa-Rack Plus is designed for good soils that are well drained. All three require a minimum of 30 inches of rainfall per year. Imperial Whitetail Extreme is designed to thrive in a variety of well-drained soils in areas that receive a minimum of 15 inches of rainfall per year. All of our perennial blends also do best in a properly prepared seedbed.

A

If you can’t work the soil, then consider Imperial No-Plow or Secret Spot, which can be planted without ground tillage. When maintaining your plot in later years, be sure to fertilize according to the maintenance instructions published by the Whitetail Institute on each bag of seed and on its Web site, www.whitetailinstitute.com. These instructions include fertilizing your plot each year. Also, if you are concerned that you may have a grass problem in your perennial plot in the spring and summer, be sure to spray the plot with Arrest grass herbicide proactively in the early spring, as soon after green-up as possible when grass has started to grow but is still in seeding stage, meaning before it matures to a height greater than 6-12 inches. If your Imperial Whitetail Clover plot shows signs of invasion by broadleaf weeds, consider spraying the plot in early spring with a solution of Slay weed herbicide and Surefire surfactant. To control broadleaf weeds in AlfaRack Plus, Chicory Plus or Extreme, be sure to keep the tops mowed out of your plots during spring and early summer and then once again in the early fall to keep any upright annual weeds from having the opportunity to create seed heads. The Whitetail Institute recommends mowing as a normal maintenance practice for all its

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

perennial blends. Don’t mow, however, when conditions are unusually hot or dry or within one week before or after you have sprayed the plot with a herbicide. While disease, insects and drought can also affect the lifespan of a plot, grass and weed competition is the most common source of problems, and thankfully, these are factors that you can control to a great degree. Be sure to closely follow all label directions when using Arrest, Slay or any other herbicide or adjuvant. I live in Florida, and my hunting property is in Illinois. I did not have a chance to spray for grass in early spring, and now my clover plots have mature grass in them. Can I do anything to control the grass at this stage?

Q

Yes, but there are a few things you should consider before you decide to try. Weed and grass removal is best accomplished when grass and weeds are very young and still in seedling stage, meaning before they have matured to a height greater than 6-12 inches. They will be much more difficult to control, but not necessarily impossible, once they mature. First, it makes sense to do a cost/benefit analysis to see whether you will come out better financially by replanting. If your plot is already several years old and toward the end of its natural life span, choked with mature grass and weeds, or both, starting over by preparing your seed bed for a new planting may be a more cost-effective option. If you are dealing with mature grass or weeds, the herbicide label will give you additional mixing instructions for such situations. In some cases, these include the addition of adjuvants and stronger mixing rates. Don’t ever mix an herbicide solution stronger than recommended by the label, though – if you do, you could kill your plot. Always strictly follow all label instructions on Arrest, Slay, Surefire and any other herbicide or adjuvant. It may also be advantageous for you to mow mature grass and weeds before spraying the plot. If you do so, be sure to wait at least a week after mowing before applying a herbicide and a week after applying a herbicide before you mow. If you are facing weeds that are not of a type the Arrest and Slay labels say they are designed to control, or if mature grasses and weeds are much taller than your forage plants, you also have the option to apply a non-selective glyphosate herbicide, such as RoundUp, to the plot by means of a wick bar. A wick bar is an herbicide-application device that, like a conventional sprayer, consists of a tank to hold herbicide and an applicator bar. However, instead of spray nozzles, the bar wipes herbicide onto the plants it touches. If adjusted correctly and with the correct herbicide mixture so that herbicide is applied only to what the applicator touches, a wick bar can be used to apply a comprehensive herbicide directly to weeds without killing the forage plants beneath. These suggestions are not a guarantee that you will be successful in controlling mature grass or weeds, but they offer the best options if you elect to try it. W

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

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H OW I D O I T By Doug Below

Critical Ideas For Food Plots assess what changes needed to take place. Even though I pretty much had a game plan, it helped to have an expert in the field confirm my ideas were on track. Ted and I marked the areas to be clear-cut and select-cut and marked the oak trees, all of which were to be protected. While walking the property, Ted told me about a presentation he recently gave to a large group of QDM members. I recall him saying, “I asked the audience to raise their hand if they use food plots to attract deer on their property. Nearly all of them proudly held their hand up high. I then asked how many practice timber management targeted to improve whitetail habitat. Not one hand was raised. This is a common problem amongst landowners trying to mange a deer herd … A successful food plot should be placed near good habitat, water and cover in order to keep those deer on your property. Not only will intensive timber management help the deer population, it will also put a chunk of change in your pocket from the timber sales.”

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

DO-IT-YOURSELF FOOD PLOTS Many times, potential food plot locations are overlooked since it can be extremely difficult to reach some areas with big tractors, plows and all the other fun attachments most traditional farmers use to produce their crops. Depending on the lay of the land, it is extremely common for landowners to construct and care for their own food plots using hand tools and small equipment. Much work can be done with a chainsaw, ATV or small tractor, plow attachments and a trailer. In fact, the food plot market has literally exploded when it comes to producing and selling small-scale farm implements designed specifically for food plot preparation. Believe me, this do-it-yourself stuff can be a ton of work, especially when trying to pick rock and move small boulders. However, the end result can be extremely gratifying and productive. Keep in mind that it is seldom possible to eliminate all obstacles, so be content by simply working/planting around the immovable rocks and stumps. Folks, some of these areas deep in the timber were just not meant to be farming areas, but with a lot of hard work and creativity, successful food plots can be made.

THE EASY WAY After meeting with Ted, I wasted no time and contracted with a logger to have my property select-cut. In addition, we marked off two areas that would be clearcut. One clear-cut would turn into a two-acre food plot and the other would be left alone. The latter clear-cut would serve as a fresh, natural food source for a few years, later maturing into a much-needed sanctuary or bedding area. After the logging activities were complete, I used some of the money made from the timber sales to hire a

The addition of lime is possible in hard-to-reach locations with spreaders tat can be towed with a four-wheeler.

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construction company. They brought in a huge backhoe and bulldozer to remove 228 large maple stumps and hundreds of big boulders. The end result was a beautiful two-acre clearing, which I later groomed into a food plot.

FOOD PLOT SIZE AND LOCATION

B-I-H Enterprises

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reating food sources for whitetail deer has become an extremely popular activity for property owners and land managers. Great whitetail habitat – offering good nutrition – is the scenario we all strive to create. One of the biggest concerns I hear from landowners is that their piece of property has less-thanperfect farming conditions. One landowner recently told me, “I don’t have one clearing on my 160 acres; it’s all hardwoods and cedar swamps. There is no way I can start a food plot without destroying my woods, and I can’t afford to pay for someone to come in and bulldoze an opening.” Knowing this man’s property quite well, I promptly disagreed that his land was a lost cause. I proceeded to tell him that his property could certainly be enhanced despite less-than-perfect conditions. Such was the case when I recently redesigned our property. My desire was to create as much whitetail-friendly habitat as possible, on my not-so-friendly land. The property consisted mainly of mature hardwoods dominated by maple, with oak trees scattered throughout. There were no natural openings, in which a potential food plot could be made. Huge boulders, many of which couldn’t be budged by a small tractor or ATV, littered the area. Additional rocks, ranging in size from a huge beach ball to softball, were more than plenty. My first step was to contact my good friend Ted Avelallemant, who works in Forest Management with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. In my opinion, Ted is the master of knowledge when it comes to habitat management. As a bonus, he is a pretty darn good whitetail hunter, thus he thoroughly understood my goals. Ted agreed to take a walk through my land to

Whether you’re a do-it-yourself-type person or one who prefers to hire out help, there are a number of critical tips to keep in mind when developing food plots. The remainder of this article will highlight what I learned over the last several years about food plot location, success and failures. Keep in mind that a number of my food plots are located in the big woods of northern Wisconsin and hostile habitat is the norm. The size of a food plot can be determined by the lay of the land. Granted we all would love to have 5- to 10-acre food plots in the middle of the woods with easy access, but it just doesn’t always work that way. When dealing with tough terrain, you take what you can get, looking for flat areas that have the potential to receive adequate sunlight. It would be nice to have direct sunlight all day long, but that usually doesn’t happen on small food plots. In big woods situations, I am more than satisfied after developing a one-acre food plot. In general, a food plot placed just about anywhere has the potential to attract whitetails. However, one placed in a strategic location may increase your odds of attracting more deer and perhaps creating a scenario more favorable to the hunter. Based on my 31 years of hunting experience, I learned that un-pressured mature whitetails often take the easiest route to access food sources from their bedding location. You should strongly consider creating a sanctuary on your property. These sacred areas or safe (Continued on page 43)

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Advantages of Fall Planting By Jon Cooner, Institute Product Consultant

margin when used in food plots. One reason these alfalfa varieties are superior is their cold-tolerant characteristics. The Whitetail Institute even offers regional blends of its perennial forages to make Now available them perform best in different areas of North through the America. Also, be sure that the forage blend you choose is Soil testing is one of the most important designed for your soil and things you can do to ensure the success of your plantings — of any kind. The Institute is environmental conditions. pleased to now provide soil test kits and results for Imperial Whitetail Clover all Imperial products or any other type seeds. (Complete and Chicory Plus, for examinstructions and all related information will come with kits.) ple, are designed for a Test results include pH, phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). heavy bottomland type soil Fertilizer and lime recommendations for maximum performance from your plantings will be provided. The average turnaround time is 24-48 hours after our with good moisture-holdlab receives the sample. ing properties and a soil pH The charge for the kit and results is $9.95. If ordered alone, add $2.00 shipping of 6.5 or higher. Alfa-Rack and handling for unlimited number of kits. If ordered with other Imperial products there Plus is designed for good, is no shipping charge. well-drained soils with a pH Please send ______ soil test kits at $9.95 each. Add $2.00 shipping and handling of 6.5 or higher. Extreme for each order regardless of number of kits desired. (There is NO shipping charge will tolerate a broad range if kit is ordered with other Imperial products.) Cost of kit includes test results. of soil types and soil pH as SHIP TO: low as 5.4, much lower Name _________________________________________________________________ than Imperial Whitetail Address _______________________________________________________________ Clover or Alfa-Rack Plus City _____________________________________ State ________Zip _____________ will normally withstand. Rainfall is another facPhone _____________________Email _______________________________________ tor that should influence ❏ Check or Money Order enclosed Payment: : Charge to: ❏ MasterCard ❏ Visa ❏ Discover what forage blend you Credit Card # ______________________________________ Exp. Date ____________ choose for fall planting. Imperial Whitetail Clover, Signature ______________________________________________________________ Chicory Plus and Alfa-Rack Mail to: Whitetail Institute • 239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043 Plus require at least 30 or CALL TOLL FREE 1-800-688-3030 inches of rainfall annually. Extreme will tolerate much

SOIL TEST KITS Whitetail Institute

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

Whitetail Institute

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s late summer or early fall the wrong time to start thinking about planting food plots? Is it too late? The answer is an emphatic, “No!” In fact, planting in the fall has some advantages over planting in the spring that you might not have considered. For example, fall plantings yield succulent new growth that is highly attractive to deer right when the hunter needs it the most – during hunting season. Also, planting in the fall allows Whitetail Institute perennial forages to reach maturity and maximum protein content right when your deer need it most – during the 200 days of spring and summer when bucks are building the collagen matrix of their velvet antlers (which consists of up to 80 percent protein) and when does are in the later stages of pregnancy and providing milk for newborn fawns. To maximize growth of a perennial forage planted in the fall and its protein content the following spring, be sure to choose a forage blend adapted for fall planting, such as Imperial Whitetail Clover, Chicory Plus, Alfa-Rack Plus or Extreme. Hard frost can “brown” some species, especially most alfalfas, and that often happens just before or during hunting season. The X-9 Technology grazing alfalfas in AlfaRack Plus, however, outperform standard alfalfas by a wide

less – as little as 15 inches per year. Many areas of the country experience comparatively low rainfall during the early fall, and you should not plant if your conditions are very dry. However, the Whitetail Institute even coats its seeds with the finest coatings available to protect the seeds as much as possible from false germination – germinating when insufficient moisture is present in the ground to sustain the seedlings. Once you have chosen the appropriate Whitetail Institute forage blend, you should closely follow the Whitetail Institute’s published guidelines when preparing your seedbed and planting if you want to maximize your fall planting results. Two crucial steps in this process are removing existing vegetation and adjusting soil pH. The two most common methods for removing existing vegetation from new plot sites are repetitive disking, and applying comprehensive glyphosphate herbicides such as RoundUp. Most new plots can also have literally millions of dormant weed and grass seeds in the ground, and it is quite common for these quiet invaders to show up shortly after fallow ground is tilled, bringing them to the surface where they receive adequate light, moisture and air to germinate. The fall planter can have an advantage over the spring planter in such cases. In the fall, these dormant seeds may not germinate right away when brought to the surface; or if they do germinate, they may not grow much until they go completely dormant again later in the fall. That can give the newly planted perennials a better chance to get a jump on native grass and weeds. In the following spring, however, be sure to monitor the plot closely after spring green-up to get a quick jump on controlling any grasses and weeds that may re-appear. Most food plot managers will also find a recommendation in their soil-test results that lime be incorporated into the soil to raise soil pH from the common acidic state to a neutral pH. The more thoroughly lime is mixed into the soil, the faster it will work. In the Midwest and North, ground may be too frozen in winter to allow thorough incorporation of lime – a concern not present the rest of the year. Planting in the fall also gives plants additional time for their root systems to mature before they have to go through the heat of summer. Whitetail Institute forages were designed and bred to be extremely drought-tolerant. For instance the new X-9 Technology grazing alfalfas in Imperial Alfa-Rack Plus and the evergreen herbaceous forb that is the main perennial in Extreme may develop root systems as deep as one to two feet. As is the case with any plant, though, they must grow from a seedling and develop their root systems before they are at their most droughttolerant state, and planting in the fall gives those plants a little extra time to get their root systems ready for summer’s dryer weather. Whitetail Institute perennials are not the only Whitetail Institute blends that are appropriate for fall planting. Imperial No-Plow annual also shines when planted in the fall. The result will be a highly attractive and nutritious food plot that will last well until the following spring or early summer. Also, Secret Spot is specifically formulated for planting in the fall and will produce well into the following spring. Winter-Greens is designed specifically to be planted in the late summer or early fall and will provide you and your deer with an outstanding late season food plot. Of course, my purpose is not to say that one should only plant in the fall; Imperial Whitetail Clover, Chicory Plus, Alfa-Rack Plus, Extreme and No-Plow are suitable for planting in either the spring or the fall in most areas of the country. If you do miss your spring planting dates, though, just remember that fall planting can be a great option. If you have any questions about spring or fall planting, how to choose the appropriate Whitetail Institute forage blend for your specific situation, or anything else related to deer nutrition or our company, please give our in-house consultants a call. Our consultants are available any time from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday, at our toll-free number, (800) 688-3030, ext 2. W www.whitetailinstitute.com


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KENTUCKY

Meeting at the Secret Spot

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ryan Jones sat patiently waiting for first light. He enjoyed the anticipation of another morning in the deer woods. The Kentucky hunter watched as the sun started to rise, breaking through the limbs of the trees and scattering beams of orange on the forest floor. Jones went through his checklist. The wind was still from the northeast, so he should be fine as the deer headed from their feeding areas to grab a quick bite before they bedded for the day. Just as he could start making out forms, two small yearling does came in from the east side of his stand location. He hadn’t been in the stand very long, and it was already “go” time. “I heard the breaking of twigs behind me, and my heart started to race,” Jones said. “Earlier in the year, I had seen a really nice 130-class 8-pointer working the

Peter Gilman – Georgia Secret Spot is a great product. All I did was follow the instructions on the bag. And in no time the Secret Spot started to grow. It was not long, and the deer started to feed on it. I see deer eating it every time that I hunt around the food plot. Christoph Blackledge – Kansas I would recommend Secret Spot due to its ease of use and the attractant qualities it possesses. The deer really come to this plot better than the other plots I planted with competitors’ blends. I was able to harvest a really nice 11-point buck over this plot. Rodney Ravey – Louisiana Secret Spot is super stuff. I’ll be getting more. Ken Sangster Jr – Michigan Secret Spot was easy to plant. Deer and turkeys love this stuff! I shot a beautiful 8-point over the food plot. Great product! Dennis McFarland – Ohio Secret Spot is the greatest product that I have used. I am very happy with it and would recommend it to any hunter. David Jones – Texas Secret Spot is the best game attractant I have ever used. It drew deer in like I could never have imagined.

edge of my Secret Spot food plot. This was the first time I had hunted this ‘Secret Spot’ since I planted it.” Jones had waited for this day for many months. His farm covers 130 acres. “It isn’t a lot of land, but with the help of the Whitetail Institute I’ve been seeing and harvesting more and bigger bucks.” Jones uses Secret Spot, three mineral licks of 3006 Plus Protein, and No-Plow as well as some native food species. There is one pond and three apple trees, and his timber is about 70 percent cedar thickets, 15 percent oaks and maples, with the rest a mixture of different species. “We don’t hunt on any food plots or licks,” he said. “We try to stay about 50 yards back if we’re bowhunting and 100 yards off the plots if we’re hunting with a gun.” Jones wanted his Secret Spot area to stay untouched until opening day of gun season, but that day the wind was not in his favor. He decided to wait until the wind was perfect, which happened to be the following weekend. “My Secret Spot had no pressure the whole season, so I felt confident in the area,” Jones explained. “I was excited that morning when I grabbed my gun and backpack of goodies and headed to my stand, which was perched in a cedar tree about 20 feet up.” He had a great view of his Secret Spot food plot, which was 60 yards to the east. Bordering his 1/4-acre plot were two thick cedar patches. With some good trails leading in to both thickets. Jones watched as does cleared through the area, for about five minutes although it seemed like hours. Finally he caught a glimpse of white and then a little bit of antler. “I moved in position for the shot, expecting the 8point to emerge when a nice 6-point stepped out. I wasn’t really disappointed because it was good to know that there were bucks in the area,” he explained. “Just then I heard a grunt from the west, so I turned to check out the sound. To my amazement, there stood the 8pointer I had seen earlier in the year. He was only 20 yards out, but I didn’t even hear him come in.” As he placed the cross-hairs on the buck’s chest, he happened to look above his scope. Whatever made the Kentucky hunter take a second look—fate or instinct—he was thrilled he took a second glance. “I saw one of the biggest bucks I have ever seen on

PRODUCT POINTERS

SECRET SPOT • Up to 36% protein • Plant 1/4 inch or less depth • Plant 4 pounds per 4500 square feet • Blend of highly attractive forages • Designed for use in small areas, such as clearings in the woods • No tillage equipment needed

Mature Secret Spot

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

With the help of Secret Spot, Bryan Jones shot this very impressive buck.

the property,” Jones said. “The neighbors said they saw two big, old bucks moving onto my hunting grounds earlier that year, and I had seen signs of big bucks all over, but I had not seen either of these two deer before that moment.” Jones’ eyes grew big as the 10-pointer filled his scope. Now his brain was on autopilot. He aimed, took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger slowly and confidently. His quiet confidence became exhilaration as he climbed out of his stand to look at his trophy. “The walk seemed to be miles but was only 60 yards to see the biggest buck I’ve ever taken,” he recounted. The bruiser scored an incredible 165 5/8 Boone and Crockett points. “It was the first time I had been in this plot since August. There was heavy grazing and big tracks everywhere.” Jones headed up to the barn to wait for his buddy, Chuck, to help him retrieve the giant deer. “I told him about the 8-pointer and 6-pointer and advised him to bring his rifle just in case,” Jones said. He said, “Do you think they would come near that downed deer?” I said, “you never know about these critters.” So we headed down to my buck, and when we got within 70 yards, of my deer, I tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Look there’s that 8-pointer in my plot.” It was only 15 yards from my downed deer. Chuck aimed his rifle and fired. The 8-point trophy ran 30 feet and piled up. The hunting duo had two bucks down within 30 yards of each other. “Since this success we have planted another Secret Spot plot on the farm, along with one Imperial Clover field and put out 30-06 Plus Protein mineral licks,” Jones said. “We have been seeing 50 percent more deer and bigger bucks as well. The neighbors are in awe of how many more big deer they’re seeing. And they’re healthier deer. I now have them planting food plots on their farm, so together we have 400 acres of prime whitetail hunting. I highly recommend Secret Spot to anyone who wants to have a nice little plot away from everyone else. It really brings the deer in.” Jones success hasn’t ended with those two deer shot in 2004. Last year he shot a 12-pointer with his bow out of his “Secret Spot.” He also let his cousin hunt it during muzzloader season, and he harvested a 140-class 10-point buck. And Chuck shot another huge buck – a 155-11/16 inch, 9-pointer. “It just keeps getting better,” says Jones. W

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Vol. 16, No. 2 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

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Families Afield:

Breaking the Barriers for Kids and Mentors

In many states, kids under age 12 may go afield under supervision but may not otherwise participate in the hunt.

Tom Fegely

By Tom Fegely

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

Families Afield’s challenge is to tackle the inequity by taking the positions that: (1) Most hunters were or are introduced to hunting by a parent; (2) parents, not lawmakers, should determine whether and when to take their children afield to hunt; (3) the window of opportunity for recruiting new hunters falls within the 6-15 age group, and (4) in many states, traditional laws and regulations serve as overly restrictive barriers to youth participation and are in need of immediate change. PARENT POWER

Searching for turkey sign is part of the early education process.

Tom Fegely

n exciting concept considered by many hunters as the most innovative and promising program for passing the spirit of the hunt onto impressionable youngsters is beginning to take root across the nation. It’s called Families Afield, the brainchild of three of the nation’s most influential sportsmen’s organizations – the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA). How does Families Afield differ from youth recruitment attempts of the past? It’s surely not the first kid-oriented outreach hunting program to be tried nor is it a onceand-done effort on the part of hunters in extending their hands and hearts to kids. Over the decades, many youngsters have been exposed to hunting via sporting club or state agency-sponsored youth hunts. Though well-meaning, there’s often little helpful follow-up and the spark of interest that may have been ignited soon dims. On a positive note, however, it must be said that some speciallystructured “youth-day” hunts for deer, turkey, pheasant, squirrel, waterfowl or other game have become successful annual events in many states. The problem was that many youngsters under age 12 and not holding hunter education certificates remained ineligible to hunt.

Families Afield is a national effort driven by local and regional volunteers who bring new ideas to the table. The initial plan is to reduce or alter certain barriers that hinder the recruitment of youth. As indicated, it seeks to ensure that parents, not state-affiliated agencies, must be the decision-makers in determining when their sons or daughters are old enough and sufficiently responsible to participate in mentored hunts. In 33 states it is illegal for youngsters under 12 to carry a firearm and go deer or turkey hunting with a parent or other adult mentor. In most of those states, youth 12 and older must have completed a hunter-training course before a license can be purchased. No provisions are www.whitetailinstitute.com


made for potential hunters 6-11 years old. Where applicable, the Families Afield agenda will promote lowering the age at which mentored youth may go afield. A prime example is Pennsylvania where, in January, kids under 12 were given a green light to accompany an approved mentor beginning with the 2006-2007 seasons. The mentor must carry the firearm while hunting or moving from one site to another but he/she will not hunt while with a student. The regulation will limit mentor responsibility for one child at a time who must stay “within arm’s reach at all times.” In Ohio, a measure was approved in mid-February creating an apprentice hunting license for mentors and a similar measure was approved in Wisconsin (where the child must be at least eight years old). In Utah, age requirements have been lowered for hunting upland game and wild turkeys. Look for similar action in other states as concerned hunters and game agencies seek to remove long-standing legal – yet largely unrecognized – barriers to youth hunting participation. Understand that mandatory hunter training courses will continue for students ages 12 or older. No “one size fits all” program can be instituted as individual states differ dramatically in their laws, rules and regulations. “The progress of Families Afield in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin is confirmation that these are bills the people want,” said Rob Sexton, vice president of government affairs for the USSA. “The bipartisan support that Families Afield has received indicates legislators are listening to sportsmen and understand the positive impact these bills can have for all citizens of these states.” A TIME FOR CHANGE One key to the growing success of Families Afield is timing—targeting impressionable kids before computer and video games, roller boarding, soccer, Little League and other interests fully dominate their lives. This doesn’t mean eliminating those popular pursuits. Rather, it calls for meaningful adult mentoring before, during and after the hunts that will hopefully kick off a lifetime of adventures afield. Targeting youngsters at an early age and keeping them in touch with hunting is crucial to the success of the program. “Youths who start hunting early in life are more likely to hunt as adults,” said Rob Keck, CEO of the South Carolina-based NWTF. “They’re tomorrow’s conservationists, and if we don’t instill in them the love of the outdoors at an early age, the hunting and conservation tradition could be lost.” www.whitetailinstitute.com

MORE ON AGE BARRIERS The three national organizations listed previously have supported research showing that some state laws and regulations have become barriers to parents who wish to introduce their kids to hunting under their own supervision and before a hunter education course has been completed. One such barrier may at first seem a contradiction to safe hunting. It’s the requirement in many states for completing a hunter education course before a first license can be pur-

■ More Information >>> o learn more about Families Afield, contact the persons listed here.

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U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance — Doug Jeanneret 614-888-4868 djeanneret@ussportsmen.org.

National Shooting Sports Foundation — Steve Wagner 203-426-1320.

Tom Fegely

A youngster’s first buck is cause for broad smiles, especially when made in the company of a parent.

chased, usually at age 12. That measure could be altered to permit youth under 12 accompanied by a mentor to hunt prior to completing a state’s hunter education course. While this may shatter our traditional thought on mandatory hunter education, research indicates that this “out of the box” thinking has merit. Consider also that statistics show that supervised youth have an excellent hunting safety record. “The reason behind setting a minimum age to hunt in the past was safety,” said Eric Nuse, executive director of the International Hunter Education Association. “The data are clear – accompanied young hunters are safe and the facts do not support having laws restricting the initiation age of hunters for safety reasons.” That opens the door for parents and other youth mentors to judge when a kid is ready to hunt. It also suggests postponing the hunter education requirement and licensing until the youth have tried hunting under very controlled conditions, according to Nuse. Twenty states have been classified as “very restrictive” when it comes to hunting for deer or other game at a younger age and prior to completing a hunter education course. The states exhibiting the greatest restrictions include, in order of rank: Rhode Island, California, South Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Utah, Maine, Montana, New York, New Jersey, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada and Michigan. The 17 “least restrictive” states are Missouri, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, Florida, Iowa, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Vermont, Texas, Alaska, Arkansas, Washington and Louisiana. The remaining 13 states are considered “somewhat restrictive.” HUNTING’S RECRUITMENT DILEMMA In a study performed and compiled by Silvertip Productions and the USSA, the need for an aggressive recruitment campaign was deemed “urgent.” That is, hunters in the 35 to 54 age group represent a disproportionate share of the U.S. hunting population – nearly 46 percent. This is the largest segment of the hunting population and the group most likely to have children of their own old enough to introduce to mentored hunting. Hunter recruitment is a nationwide dilemma affecting all age groups, not just youth. A recent study commissioned by the NSSF showed that only 69 new hunters are being recruited nationwide for every 100 hunters who drop out. Obviously, if the loss of hunters continues at that rate the sport will surely suffer. Drawing first-time hunters via mentoring and opening the gates to kids under age 12 is needed to reverse the trend. W

■ Pennsylvania’s Families Afield Proposals >>>>>>>>>>> hen Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell inked House Bill 1690 last Dec. 22 it marked the first time legislation based on Families Afield standards became law anywhere in the nation. The bill drew strong political support, garnering a 195-1 vote in the House of Representatives and receiving overwhelming support in the Senate. A variety of changes will be instituted based on recommendations from the Keystone State’s Youth Mentored Hunting Committee, which consists of a dozen men and women representing conservation, sporting and youth groups. “Don’t get me wrong,” said committee Chairman Ron Fretts, “I firmly believe that kids under 12 should not hunt on their own. Mentoring is the answer to questions about hunter retention, ethics and increased awareness and can make children and adults very happy in the process.” At press time specifics of the new bills were still in the process of review. Following are several major items which will guide the committee and the Pennsylvania Game Commission in their efforts. Expect other states to closely align with Pennsylvania as each develops its own unique approach. • Parents will have the right to decide when their child should hunt. The commission is expected to establish a specific age limit which will probably be well below the current 12 year old limit. Adult mentors must be at least age 21 and will be required to purchase a special apprentice license to participate. • • Each pair of hunters – adult and child – will be permitted one firearm. The adult will carry the gun while moving but the child will use it when in a stationary hunting position. It is expected that mentored hunts may be limited to five species for safety reasons. They include deer, turkeys, geese, ducks and squirrels. • • Other states will surely look to Pennsylvania as each undertakes an exciting new program to draw families afield.

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CHICORY PLUS – for the “Deer Days” of Summer By Jon Cooner

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he Deer Days of Summer?” You might ask, “Don’t you mean the Dog Days?” We’ve all heard of the Dog Days of Summer, but most folks don’t know where the term came from. According to what I’ve read, the term “Dog Days” describes an ancient belief that the position of Sirius, the “dog star”, close to the sun added to the sun’s heat. With the fairly recent onset of late-summer and early-fall droughts in most parts of the country in recent years, though, perhaps it’s time to modernize the term. Often, new research projects at The Whitetail Institute are prompted by a new or recurring customer need. One problem faced by Field Testers across the country over the past few years has been a pattern of unusually hot, droughty weather during late summer and early fall. During such excessively stressful periods, even the best forages can exhibit slowed growth, nutrition and attraction. Unfortunately, these same months are also one of the key stress periods during which deer need access to high-quality forages the most. To meet this need, the Whitetail Institute now offers an even more drought-resistant option for customers who have come to rely on Imperial Whitetail Clover as a superior, year-around food source for deer. Imperial Whitetail Clover is extremely drought-tolerant, and Chicory Plus is even more so. It is often said in these pages and elsewhere that when

it comes to perennial forages, only those offered by The Whitetail Institute were actually created for deer. To be clear, “created” does not mean just buying seeds somewhere and blending them into a product. It means doing research, development and testing with a goal in mind. It means identifying traits that you want a plant to exhibit, searching for existing varieties likely to possess some of those traits, and then painstakingly cross-breading those varieties to create a single, new variety that contains all the best traits. That was the process performed by renowned plant geneticist Dr. Wiley Johnson when he bred The Whitetail Institute’s first proprietary clover, Advantage Ladino Clover, over seven breeding cycles years ago. This same effort is continually put into all Whitetail Institute products and led to the creation of Insight Ladino Clover last year. The Institute’s continued focus on developing new plant varieties and blends specifically for whitetails it is one of the reasons The Whitetail Institute continues to be the industry leader. Chicory Plus contains the same proprietary perennial clovers as those found in Imperial Whitetail Clover, plus WINA-Brand 100 Chicory, the only chicory designed specifically for deer. WINA-Brand 100 Chicory is less waxy, more tender and vastly more attractive than chicory varieties traditionally planted for deer. The combination of WINA-100 Brand Chicory with the same perennial clovers found in Imperial Whitetail Clover provides the year-around nutrition

and attraction our customers have come to expect of Imperial Whitetail Clover with an even higher level of drought tolerance. Like many Whitetail Institute customers, Myron Warren of Mississippi has relied upon Imperial Whitetail Clover for many years. “I have had great success with Imperial Whitetail Clover and decided to plant Chicory Plus last spring. It has been very dry this spring, though, and most of my plots are slowing down. The Chicory Plus is growing well, though, even without a lot of rain, and the deer are in it every evening.” Jim Lenker of New York planted Chicory Plus in the spring to give his deer some additional variety. “The Chicory Plus we planted in the early spring established very quickly, and the deer are eating the chicory as fast as they do the clover. The difference between the height of the Chicory Plus inside and outside our forage-exclusion cages is amazing.” So, if you are among the many of us who have experienced unusually hot, dry weather during the late summer and early spring, consider planting Chicory Plus. It combines the proven year-around nutrition and attraction of Imperial Whitetail Clover with a specially designed chicory to provide your deer with a highly attractive and nutritious food source, even during the Deer Days of Summer. More information on Chicory Plus is available on-line at http://www.whitetailinstitute.com/products/. W

Another Sign of Superior Research and Development. Chicory Plus is the latest in the Whitetail Institute’s continuing effort to develop products that are both nutritionally superior and exceptionally attractive to deer. Chicory Plus contains the only chicory developed especially for whitetail deer and it is blended with the number one clover in the world, Imperial Whitetail Clover. Chicory Plus is designed to provide the high protein of chicory with a more palatable and attractive texture than other chicory varieties. Chicory Plus is an excellent perennial for areas with heavier or moderately drained soils. It will provide you with 3 to 5 years of high-protein forage from a single planting. You can be sure that it is the perfect blend for whitetail – the deer think so, too.

FREE Trial Offer! Call 1-800-688-3030 Offer 1- only $8.95 (shipping and handling) FREE all new video or DVD / FREE N0-Plow TM FREE Imperial Clover TM / FREE Extreme TM FREE Alfa-Rack TM PLUS / FREE Chicory PLUS TM (each sample plants 100 sq. ft.)

Offer 2- only $19.95 (shipping and handling) Same as Offer 1 PLUS FREE 30-06 TM Mineral (5 lbs.) FREE Cutting Edge TM Supplement (5 lbs.)

The Whitetail Institute / 239 Whitetail Trail Pintlala, Alabama 36043

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Winter-Greens: THE WAIT IS OVER! By Jon Cooner

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ccording to Boone and Crockett Club records, hunters today are around five times more likely to harvest a record-book deer today than they were before The Whitetail Institute started the food-plot and deer-management revolutions in 1988. One reason has been the identification and, in the case of The Whitetail Institute, the actual engineering and development of forages specifically for deer. Over the years, The Whitetail Institute has continued to exhaustively research, develop and test new plant varieties under real-world conditions to meet specific needs identified by its Field Testers. One such need has been for a late-season forage that would surpass the performance of traditional brassica products – one that would not only survive cold temperatures and welldrained soils, but also be highly attractive, and for a longer period during the fall and winter. After years of development and real-world testing, The Whitetail Institute now offers a new and completely unique brassica blend, Imperial Winter-Greens, as the answer. When it comes to brassicas, no one has more experience than The Whitetail Institute, who first started marketing brassicas in a food-plot blend for whitetails in Wintergreens Half 05 WN

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1993. As it does with all its products, The Whitetail Institute tested Winter-Greens extensively before releasing it to the public. Tests were performed by independent researchers, at our certified research stations and at our company research areas on free-ranging whitetails, and the results were impressive to say the least - they showed that deer prefer Winter-Greens an incredible FOUR TO ONE over other brassica blends. Ken Eastman of Wildlife Habitat Consultants in East Hardwick, Vermont, tested Winter-Greens during its development and was highly impressed. “We planted Winter-Greens last year on June 20th. The deer first started eating the Winter-Greens on August 5th, and they continued to use it heavily without stopping all winter long.” Ken’s findings are mirrored by a well-known New York researcher, Neil Doughtery of NorthCountry Whitetails. “We tested the brassicas in Winter-Greens and found that they were much more attractive than any brassica varieties or brassica blends we had ever tested.” Gordon Barksdale of Decatur, Alabama tested Winter-Greens in multiple plots on his property in Tennessee. “The results were spectacular, and I mean

spectacular. Deer started coming to the Winter-Greens in the fall, and it regenerated, and the deer just kept coming back, and they stayed on it hard all the way until spring.” Jody Holdbrooks, The Whitetail Institute’s resident wildlife biologist, observed similarly impressive results. “Here in Alabama the winters are comparatively mild. Even so, the free-ranging deer on our Alabama leases absolutely tore Winter-Greens to pieces, even before our first frost.” In short, the verdict is in. Researchers in many different geographical areas have observed time and time again that Winter-Greens is hands-down the most attractive brassica blend available. If you have been waiting for a forage blend that would survive welldrained soils and offer unparalleled attraction even during the coldest winter months, your wait is over. Imperial Winter-Greens is what you’ve been looking for. More information on Winter-Greens is available online at www.whitetailinstitute.com/products/. W

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Once again Research=Results at the Whitetail Institute. We are proud to introduce, Imperial Whitetail Winter-Greens, our new 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. 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 Winter-Greens and give your deer a valuable source of nutrients for the winter season.

FREE Trial Offer! - Call 1-800-688-3030 Offer 1- only $ 8.95 (shipping and handling) FREE all new video or DVD / FREE Winter-Greens TM / FREE Imperial Clover TM FREE Chicory PLUS TM / FREE Extreme TM / FREE Alfa-Rack TM PLUS FREE N0-PlowTM (each sample plants 100 sq. ft.)

Offer 2- only $19.95 (shipping and handling) Same as Offer 1 PLUS FREE 30-06 TM Mineral (5 lbs.) FREE Cutting Edge TM Supplement (5 lbs.)

The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail Pintlala, AL 36043 www.whitetailinstitute.com

www.whitetailinstitute.com

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Customers do the talking about Steve Wilkes — Alabama

Ben Jackson — Kentucky

I first planted Imperial Whitetail Clover in 2001. I found out right away that there is less work involved after the initial planting. Bushhogging two or three times and a little

Dear Whitetail Institute, I am 15 and have planted NoPlow and Secret Spot on my farm for two years, and I have seen a major difference in the deer herd. We have seen many healthier looking does, and a major improvement in the quality of bucks. We planted 4 food plots of No-Plow

fertilizer goes a long way. Since planting the clover and by being selective about which bucks I shoot I have seen a major improvement in the quality of the bucks I’ve killed. The only thing I have found better than the clover was a couple of hot does and I know the food source is what brought them there. Here is a picture to prove it. I’ve hunted Saskatchewan, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee and all over Alabama. This is my largest buck yet and I got him close to home. He scored 153 7/8. G2 on right is almost 15 inches. G2 on left is over 13 inches both with sticker points. He had 12 scoreable points.

and Secret Spot and the results were great. This buck was shot on a trail leading to a Secret Spot food plot. I use the Cutting Edge products too.

Chris Harris — Louisiana With the help of Alfa-Rack and deer management I took this 200 lb. 8-point. I have learned that with proper nutrition and common sense you can harvest big bucks.

Donald Verble — Illinois Here is a picture of some of the deer killed off a 4 acre Alfa-Rack food plot that I planted three years ago. They just seem to be getting bigger and bigger.

produced. Well the rest is history with two 160 class whitetails killed and several 140 class passed we can say the Extreme really paid off. See photos. Thanks Whitetail Institute.

Fred Dotson — Missouri It was September 30th and we were being pressed for planting time on a new farm we had obtained in Missouri during the summer. We had planted Imperial Clover and No-Plow and the deer were hammering them. With two days remaining before we had to return to Alabama I found six perfect locations for food plots. With lots of big buck sign surrounding these areas I knew if we could get a plot in these areas it would pay off when the soybeans and corn were all harvested. The only problem was we had no time for pH and soil test to plant these plots. I looked in the trailer and there were several bags of Extreme. I told the guys get the Extreme and follow me. I led the way to the remote fields on the four wheeler and we planted the food plots with the Extreme and hoped for the best. As we returned to Missouri in November to set stands for hunters we found the Extreme was three inches high and some kind of tore up with deer tracks. With fresh scrapes and rubs all around the plots we could not wait to see what these Extreme plots 20

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

Jim Voges — Indiana

Dave McGlone — Michigan

My 3 acre plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover has lasted for 5 years. This buck was feeding on my plot.

No-Plow has been my primary choice for spring & fall plantings for quite a long time. The deer and turkeys love it. I also use the 30-06 Plus Protein heavily. Our bucks are growing nicer racks and appear healthier. We will continue to use the Whitetail Institute products! Enclosed are pic-

www.whitetailinstitute.com


Institute products… tures of my son Nathan’s and my 10 points, and a picture of my Whitetail room since using these products.

Ronnie Letcher — New Mexico We hunt between Abilene and Dallas, Texas. It’s been very hot and droughty the last few years. The Alfa-Rack sometimes looks like its dead in the summer but keeps coming back in the fall and spring. Deer love it! No-Plow

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Denise Picotte — Minnesota We’ve got 7 different Imperial Clover fields on different properties. We’ve also been using 30-06 minerals for 5 years; the deer really use the sites. Here is a photo of a buck I arrowed this past year on Halloween night.

and Secret Spot do very well for us in Texas too. We have a lease in Indiana and have used 30-06 Plus Protein in the spring and summer for the last 2 years. See the buck my son bagged this year! I’m sure the 30-06 helped with his antler growth.

Lance Clemons — New York I plant Imperial Whitetail Clover. I also used 30-06 Plus Protein before it became illegal in New York. 30-06 Plus

this plot so far has come close to performing for me as well as Whitetail Institute products. I also have 4 acres of Whitetail Clover and 5 acres of Alfa-Rack out in my open crop land. The bigger plots were put in place to make sure my deer had plenty of forage on my farm year round. I keep the large plots off limits to hunting. My small isolated food plots of Whitetail Clover had given my family and me some great hunting. I have enclosed 2 photos. Photo 1 is me with a nice mature 8 pointer killed by bow over one of my food plots. Photo 2 is a nice mature 9 pointer with a 20 inch spread killed by my father in-law Charles King.

Roger Wilson — North Carolina

Gerald Davies — Wisconsin I am sending 2 pictures of bucks taken this fall with bow and arrow on their way to the clover. My son Joel shot an 8

Protein is unreal. Deer activity is awesome. We have noticed bigger bodied deer, healthier does, and better fawn survival. Fawns have a much better body weight going into winter. I took this trail cam picture on the 30th of July at a 30-06 Plus Protein site. I took the same buck on October 13th with a muzzleloader over one of my Imperial Whitetail Clover plots. pointer and my son-inlaw Nate took a 10 pointer. Ever since using Imperial Whitetail Clover and 30-06 Minerals the racks are larger and the bodies weigh more.

www.whitetailinstitute.com

Gary Green — North Carolina On my farm in North Carolina I have strategically cleared small acres of land back off in the timber for hunting purposes. I have four food plots on my 300 acre farm. Three are planted in Imperial Whitetail Clover. The forth plot has been used to test other products. Nothing I’ve used in

Ambushed this clover fed boy between a cutover and an Imperial Whitetail Clover plot chasing a doe.

Charles Crawford — Ohio I have seen more deer and more mature bucks in the last 3 years since I planted Imperial Whitetail Clover and Alfa-Rack. Photo enclosed. (Continued on page 60) Vol. 16, No. 2 /

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WISCONSIN

A Family Affair

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ani Patterson didn’t care that the first deer taken off her first food plot was a doe. The young girl from Wisconsin helped her father cut weeds, apply Round-Up and spread lime. She also watched as the Imperial Extreme survived after deer ate it to the ground and, shortly after that, a near drought. “It didn’t look like it was going to survive, but the deer just kept coming to it,” said Jeff Patterson, her father. This was Patterson’s first attempt at a management program. Besides Extreme, he uses 30-06 Plus Protein and Cutting Edge nutritional products on many lick sites on his property. “These products drew a lot of attention,” Jeff said. “It was good to see the local deer utilizing the quality mineral products that Dani and I provided. We have just 60 acres, and we decided to use Whitetail Institute products after a lot of research and testimonials. We sent for a sample package that included 30-06 mineral, and the local deer herd responded very positively. My overall goal is to create an area where the deer want to spend some time. We have water, cover and now, quality food plots and mineral sites.” The Extreme did survive the tough, dry summer, and it was finally time for Jeff and Dani to test the small hunting plot during the October archery season.

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The food plot is in a very secluded spot, so Dani and Jeff didn’t scout it. They decided it would be best to leave the food plot alone until archery season and allow deer to feel comfortable using it during daylight hours. “The first afternoon I hunted the plot, it became fairly obvious it didn’t look very good because it was getting hammered by the deer,” Jeff said. My intention was to get a doe early in the season, and on the second afternoon, I did harvest a doe. I waited for the second afternoon because I wanted to see if a good buck was using it during the day. We took another doe off the same plot a couple weeks later, then started hunting the bucks. We saw several very nice deer and some after the season as well. There was a slight increase in the number of deer and an obvious increase in healthier-looking deer. Now that we’re going into our second year of Extreme and 30-06, I’m excited to see the progression.” Daughter Dani calls it “her” food plot. “I'm too young to hunt in Wisconsin so the doe in the picture is my Dad’s,” Dani said. “Still I’m really looking forward to keeping the food plot going this year. I sprayed the weeds, raked the ground and spread the seed and fertilizer. I hope it makes it through the winter, then I’ll fertilize again in the spring. I like to hunt because it lets me see wildlife real close. I like to wait

Dani Patterson helped her dad, Jeff, plant an Extreme food plot, and as a result of her hard work, she was able to shoot this doe on the food plot.

for my Dad every night he goes hunting to see how he did. We spend all day in the turkey blind and listen to the toms answer us. Outsmarting the bucks and toms is real hard, but it makes a person concentrate and be with family in the outdoors. I can hunt the season after this year. We’re trying to save enough money for me to join my Dad on a Texas hunt in December.”

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F Jeff Patterson’s property has been producing better bucks since he started planting quality food plot products such as Extreme.

“She was pretty pumped about the two does shot off ‘her’ plot,” Jeff said. “It’s easy to keep her interested when she’s helping with the food plots. I think she’s hooked on food plot preparation and benefits. She’s already telling me where the next plots should go. The bucks are showing progress after the first antler-growing season with the mineral products and food plots available. I think our neighbors have benefited as well. A good number of great bucks were taken within a half-mile of my property. This is my first harvest off an Extreme food plot, and I expect to have even more positive results this coming fall.” W

Stephen Nunnery – Louisiana First year to do any serious food plots. We planted Extreme and No-Plow and have noticed for the first time in over four years increased deer in plots and/or lease. This includes buck activity as well. In the past we may have seen one or two at a time. This year we have seen on average four to five deer and upwards of ten to twelve deer per hunt.

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Michael Stump – Michigan I have 30 yards by 100 yards of Extreme planted on a hillside close to the woods. I see as many as 20 deer eating on this little food plot. Great product. Scott Bradley – North Carolina Extreme came up and looked good within two weeks. One of the unexpected surprises was seeing 42 turkeys at one time in the Extreme food plot. Dan Kuhns – Ohio We planted Extreme on our hunting property. I saw 17 bucks in four days of hunting. My three sons and myself got four bucks: two 10-points, one 9-point, one 8-point and three of these bucks were the biggest bucks we got in six years of hunting. Tom Cathey – Oklahoma I thought I planted the Extreme too late. I was wrong, it came up quickly — two weeks, and it was thick. We have a lot of deer anyway, but we saw a lot of new ones. It just keeps getting thicker.

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Nearly every state deals with trespassing differently. In some states, placing posted signs on land is not required because all private land is considered posted. In other states, posted signs in accordance with the law must be in place to insure hunters get the message.

Trespassers!

What should you do? Posting and prosecution are among most effective tools By By Charles Charles Alsheimer Alsheimer

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respassing on private lands has been an issue for decades. Though talked about, little has been written about how to deal with individuals who “step over the line” in their quest to harvest a trophy whitetail. The Wisconsin shootings on Nov. 21, 2004, forever changed the way some hunters and landowners handle trespassing issues. It was on this day that a confronted trespasser opened fire on hunters on a private hunting club. When the last shot finally echoed through the woods, six members of the hunting club lie dead, with two others wounded. In the mind of many, it was the worst day the American deer-hunting community has ever seen. No one will ever know for certain exactly what made Chai Vang snap and shoot eight hunters. According to testimony from the surviving witnesses and shooter, harsh words were exchanged over Vang’s trespassing before the shooting began. Vang felt threatened by the landowners and opened fire. Hindsight is always 20/20, but by most accounts, it is clear that lives could have been spared if cooler heads had prevailed on that fateful day. A CHANGING AMERICA

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In case you haven’t noticed, there has been a paradigm shift taking place in the whitetail woods. When I was kid 50 years ago, no one I knew posted their property for hunting purposes. Locals, whether they owned land or not, pretty much hunted wherever they wanted. Oh, a few hunters asked permission to hunt someone’s land, but such requests were rare in my part of western New York State. This is no longer the case. Most private property in prime deer country is now posted for hunting purposes for a host of reasons. Gone are the days when you could park your car and head to the woods for a day of hunting. Back in the late ’80s while on a photography/deer hunting trip to Texas, I hooked up with legendary whitetail manager, Al Brothers. I’ll never forget him saying to me, “Charlie, when people realize that white-tailed deer have a value, everything changes, from land usage to deer management.” This has certainly been the case when it comes to land usage. Today, more and more hunters are recognizing the value of whitetails and what it takes to have quality deer and a quality hunting experience. As a result, many hunters are purchasing land while others are leasing prime whitetail habitat for hunting. To help protect their investment, they must post their property to insure that their goals are met. Unfortunately there is no simple approach to dealing with trespassers.

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Nearly every state deals with trespassing differently. In some states, placing posted signs on land is not required because all private land is considered posted. In other states, posted signs in accordance with the law must be in place to insure hunters get the message. By way of example, in my home state of New York, landowners must have highly visible posted signs (minimum of 11 inches by 11 inches containing the words Warning or Posted with the landowner’s name) no more than 660 feet apart around the property’s boundaries. In Alabama, the regulations are a bit different. According to Sergeant Rusty Morrow of the Alabama wildlife and freshwater fisheries enforcement, “all private land is considered posted to hunting, so trespassing during hunting season is called hunting without permission. When lands are posted to prohibit hunting trespassers, trespassing is treated as a misdemeanor.” Here in New York, the maximum fine for a first-time trespasser is $250 and up to 15 days in jail. In Alabama, first-offense trespassing carries a $250 fine plus court costs and possible loss of hunting privileges for one year. Because the fines are so small, law enforcement emphasizes the need to stay cool, calm, collected and civil when dealing with trespassers. New York State Region 8 wildlife director Sean Hanna told me, “Always approach a trespasser on an even keel with a level head. Start by asking them if they saw the posted signs. The key is that the landowner exhibits the best possible demeanor when dealing with a trespasser, otherwise the situation runs the risk of getting ugly. If the trespasser will not provide you with their identification, try to get a good description of them and their vehicle and plate number. If you wish to prosecute, the collected information should be turned over to law enforcement.”

PO BOX 3090 RAPID CITY, SD 57709-3090 CALL (605) 348-5150 FAX (605) 348-9827

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Dealing with trespassers is the ugly side of land and deer management. In its most basic form, trespassing is stealing, plain and simple, especially when the perpetrator knows you are growing something he wants – quality deer. Regardless of the state where hunting property is located, trespassing is a problem all landowners deal with. Some do it better than others. Craig and Neil Dougherty operate a state-of-the-art whitetail research facility in western New York State. Prior to their ownership, the 500-acre property was hunted heavily by the locals. When they obtained it and began to manage the land for better habitat and better deer, they had to come to grips with the problem of trespassers. “Basically, we have a two-step program for dealing with trespassers,” Craig said. “During the first two years, we basically warned those we caught trespassing because we knew there was a legitimate possibility the hunters had permission from the previous landowner and were unaware the land had changed hands. Two years is more than enough time to get the word out, and anyone we caught trespassing after this period of time we prosecuted. “When I approach a trespasser I do so in a calm manner and begin by asking them what they are doing. If they ask why, I then ask for ID. If I’m comfortable with who they are, I try to end the conversation as soon as possible. “Once I have ID, I ask them politely to leave, contact the CO (conservation officers) or sheriff and let the law handle the issue. The important thing is to file the complaint, let the authorities handle it and then follow through by pressing charges. All too often people make the mistake of not pressing charges. “If the guy does not provide you with ID, you need to put distance between you and him because in most cases he has a gun. After you get away from him, go into scram-

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

It may take time to secure property for family and friends to hunt. Trespassing problems can take time to resolve.

ble mode by getting a good physical description of the perpetrator, his car make and plate number, then turn the information over to the law. The bottom line is to always approach a trespasser in a civil manner as opposed to being confrontational.” Kevin Haight of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., has been managing his property for deer for more than 10 years and has had more than is share of run-ins with trespassers. “Basically, we

began by trying to be good guys. Our approach was to merely ask the trespassers to leave and hope we would be done with them. This approach didn’t work. The only way we’ve had success with trespassers is by making an example of everyone we catch. We’ve developed a reputation of being landowners who will not allow people going on land illegally, so the word gets out. “On the advice of the local COs and State Troopers, we

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Charles Alsheimer

HOW THEY HANDLE IT


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Regardless of the state where hunting property is located, trespassing is a problem all landowners deal with. Some do it better than others. This approach worked well, but not nearly as well as I had hoped. Only when I began prosecuting the trespassers did the trespassing leak stop. It’s not something I wanted to do, but something that had to happen. Here’s how it all came about. It was a cold, clear November day, well into our fifth year of a quality deer management program. I was hunting in a favorite stand on the north end of our farm. About an hour after daylight, I heard two shots ring out very close to my stand. I knew the shots had to be on our land, so I collected my gear and went to inspect. I didn’t have to go far. Within a couple hundred yards, I saw where human tracks had exited the woods, within feet of one of my posted signs. Not far away a hunter was going across an open field so I hollered at him to get his attention, and he stopped. When I got to him I asked what all the shooting was about. He told me that he had just killed a nice buck and was going for help. I asked him if he knew the property was posted. He responded, “No, but I have permission to hunt from the landowner.” “Well,” I said, “I’m the landowner, so I think we have a problem because I’ve never seen you before.” As it turned out he had permission to hunt a neighboring landowner’s property and didn’t think there would be any problem inch-

ing over onto our property a few hundred feet, even though it was tightly posted. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back with me. I had the hunter ticketed for trespassing and the buck was confiscated by the state. Needless to say, word spread pretty fast in my little community when others heard what

Whitetail Institute

also put our posted signs six feet high, 50 feet apart. I realize that this might seem like overkill because it is far more than what New York law requires, but it has helped us immensely. “One of the things I do is communicate my feeling regarding trespassing in a polite way so that potential trespassers know where I stand and that the land is posted. We don’t have any tricks we use; we just stay on top of things and make sure we are present. When hunters know you are around, trespassing decreases proportionately.” When my wife and I purchased our farm in 1973, we didn’t post. This was in part because I never believed in it. I had grown up on one of the farms that border us, and none of our neighbors posted for hunting when I was a kid, so it was foreign to me. As hunting became more and more popular, I began encountering more and more hunters on our property. I realized I had to do something; otherwise, I’d never be able to accomplish my goals of having better deer and better hunting. So, as a last resort, the posted signs went up. In the early 1990s, I began to aggressively manage our farm for both quality deer and quality hunting. This required more than just posting because, even with the posted signs, I still had three or four trespassing violations occurring each deer season. When they occurred, my approach was to just ask the trespassers to leave. Unfortunately, I found that this wasn’t working. To insure that hunters obeyed my posting wishes, I composed a very polite letter and sent it to all landowners who bordered our farm. In the letter, I explained that I was embarking on a new form of deer management, specifically quality deer management. I also asked them to let any of their hunters know of my rules. Initially, the letter caused quite a bit of chatter among the locals. No one discussed it with me personally, but the word got out. To keep my rules fresh in their minds, I’ve sent out a follow-up letter every third year.

Putting signs in very visual places is one of the first steps in dealing with trespassing problems.

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As hunting became more and more popular, I began encountering more and more hunters on our property. I realized I had to do something; otherwise, I’d never be able to accomplish my goals of having better deer and better hunting. I had done. Though I had had a degree of success merely asking for cooperation, it took prosecuting this individual to get the job done. Since this incident, trespassing on our property has drastically declined. In the best of all worlds, it would be nice to think that just posting a property according the state’s law would be enough protection to keep would-be trespassers at bay. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Every successful land manager I know didn’t attain the success they desired until they began to prosecute trespassers. Good signage and words can be very effective, but nothing trumps prosecution of trespassing when all else fails. With more and more hunters leasing property to hunt, the topic of how the leasing party should handle trespassers is of interest. Brad Herndon of Brownstown, Ind., is well known for his deer-hunting prowess. He and his wife Carol lease property in southern Indiana for deer hunting. Here’s how they handle trespassers. “The first thing we did when we leased the current location for hunting was let surrounding landowners and hunters know our rules. Initially, we had problems because the COs had never done much about ‘ATVers’ and trespassers, so they were reluctant to do much unless we had hard evidence. “To secure trespassing evidence we took our digital camera and photographed our posted signs so that the law knew when the signs were put up. Then we photographed

the trespassers in the act. These photos gave us the proof we needed to prosecute because digital cameras have time data on each image taken. It took this evidence to get the perpetrators arrested. Sadly, words don’t work anymore. The only way you can eliminate trespassing is by prosecuting. I wish this wasn’t the case but for us this is the only way we’ve been able to keep trespassers from coming on our leased land. “We also put in our lease contract that only my wife and I can use the property along with two guests, and guests can only hunt when we are hunting. Also, we place our posted signs close together so that they can’t be missed. Basically, it took us two years to clean up the trespassing problem. It takes this long for the word to get out that you will not tolerate trespassers and, when caught, they will be prosecuted. “Initially, the locals were very upset with me, but within a couple years, they began leasing ground for hunting because they saw the trend and wanted a place to hunt. Whatever you do will make the neighbors mad, but in the long run, it all works out to your advantage because people begin to get the point.” SUMMARY A book could be filled on how different landowners handle trespassing problems. The examples I’ve provided

are similar to numerous others and very representative of how landowners successfully address the trespass problem. The bottom line is that it is best to exceed state posting laws when posting a property (i.e., more signs than necessary). Secondly, the word must get out to the public. Then, when the landowner confronts a trespasser the engagement must be with a calm, polite demeanor and always with respect for the individual confronted. And lastly, if needed, prosecution should be carried out to the fullest extent of the law. W

■ Taking Care of Trespassing >>>>>>>>> •

• •

• •

• •

Follow the posting regulations of your state. If none exists, erect posted signs close enough to each other that they cannot be missed. The posting must be along every boundary. My recommendation is every 60 feet. Also, have the posted sign include the maximum trespassing penalty on the sign. Patrol the boundaries frequently, especially during hunting season. Get the word out to the public. Never miss an opportunity to do so, whether at a public event, the gas station or the post office. Confront trespassers with a polite demeanor and with respect for the individual confronted. If you feel you want to prosecute, get the necessary ID and alert law enforcement. Once the ID is obtained, don’t linger – back out of the situation. Follow through with the prosecution. Work hard to be a good neighbor, but do so in a way that they know what you are doing and why.

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Manipulating I the Landscape for Hunting Success

have an outfitter friend who hunts the farmland fringe in north-central Alberta. Much of the area is devoted to big blocks of bush that are interspersed with alfalfa and oats fields. My friend, Ron, doesn’t take bowhunters, but he will let me hunt with him during the early season because of our friendship. I was hunting with Ron a few years back when we hatched the ultimate scheme for shooting a whopper buck in that big country with a bow.

It struck us that putting in a quarter-mile of plastic construction fence – half on each side of a 40 yard-wideopening, to create a tapered funnel, would greatly improve our odds on deer that traditionally, more or less, moved randomly through the big timber. We never did it, mostly because we decided that it was not really all that sporting, though perfectly legal. Taken to the extreme, that is the gist of this article. I am going to offer a few thoughts on ways you can change your hunting area to make the bucks living there easier to hunt. But, rest assured, I will stop short of suggesting something that takes the sport out of the hunt.

By By Bill Bill Winke Winke

Bill Winke

PLANTING SCREEN Planting screens is one of the best things you can do for your hunting land. The purpose of these screens is not to keep people from seeing the deer, but to keep the deer from seeing the people. In other words, plant something that you can sneak behind when going to and from your tree stands. I have a friend who hunts a piece of ground in Maryland where the deer numbers are very high. One of his favorite stands is in the corner of a remote field that he plants in a food plot. However, because of the deer numbers and the remote nature of the field, there are usually deer out when he approaches the field. Rather than blow the deer out each time he hunts the spot, Jim has begun planting 12 rows of tall forage sorghum around the outer edge of the field each year. Inside this 10-foot-tall screen, he then plants his clover and other food plot species. When approaching the stand, Jim sneaks in right along the tree line and uses the sorghum to hide from the deer. Sometimes the food plot is empty so then he uses the

Narrow food plots tend to be more effective than circular fields. Position fields to take advantage of prevailing wind patterns.

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Bill Winke

Planting screens is one of the best things you can do for your hunting land. The purpose of these screens is not to keep people from seeing the deer, but to keep the deer from seeing the people. In other words, plant something that you can sneak behind when going to and from your tree stands.

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31


sorghum to hide from any deer that might be bedded in the timber by sneaking down the middle of the sorghum strip. Jim reports that he routinely slips past deer as little as 20 yards away when going to and from his stands in low light. I have seen something very similar in my own hunting areas. For several years, I planted a few fields in both forage and grain sorghum. I filled three hoppers in the six-row planter with forage sorghum and the next three with grain sorghum. By going back and forth when seeding (rather than around), I was able to produce six rows of forage sorghum next to six rows of grain sorghum, alternating all the way across the field. The deer ate the heads off the grain sorghum early in the fall (when the seed became doughy) and then ate the taller forage sorghum later in the fall and winter. When going to and from stands near this field, I often walked right past deer. One time a buck was chasing a doe just two or three rows away as I scooted past. Even in low light, I could never get away with crossing an open field right next to deer. Using some kind of screening cover when you walk to and from your stands will make a huge difference in your hunting success. The most practical screens are natural cover that you don’t have to replant every year. Of these, the very best are coniferous so they maintain their effectiveness long after the foliage and leaves have dropped from other plants and trees. For example, in many parts of the country, cedar trees make great screening cover. Most farmers see them as weeds, so it may be possible to rent a tree spade and relocate several 10- to 12-year-old cedars onto your property from nearby properties where they are maligned. You can also grow your own, but it will take many years before they are useful. As I mentioned, there are also faster-growing screens that you can use. For example, I plant about 25 acres to corn each year and then I don’t pick it until after I am fin-

ished hunting. At that point, the fields usually produce about 75 percent of the yield they would produce if harvested on schedule in late October. These acres are not really part of my food plot acres, but they sure do feed deer while I use the corn to cover the entry and exit into the best parts of my hunting area. Other options are the tall forage sorghum species already mentioned and switchgrass. Of the two, switchgrass is obviously the more permanent solution. It usually takes three years to establish a good patch of switchgrass; and if you take care of it, the planting will last many years. In rich fertile soil, switchgrass will grow thick and more than six feet tall – certainly tall enough to hide a skulking hunter. Some invasive weed species might seem tempting, such as pampas grass, but I would not recommend starting a weed that you will have to fight for years to come. You just don’t know how that is going to turn out. Stick with proven plantings such as annuals and switchgrass. The need for screening cover is yet another reason to improve the understory of your hunting area through selective tree cutting and timber stand improvement (cutting down junk trees). I hunted a property for nine years that had primarily mature timber. The forest floor was very clean. Not only did this produce very little browse, but deer could see me coming and going from my stands for nearly 200 yards. That means that when I walked to my stands – if I was not able to take advantage of a ditch or creek – I was alerting deer in a swath that was nearly a quarter-mile wide! I didn’t have the ability to junk that place up, but as soon as I could afford my own place, the first thing I did was start cutting down trees with no commercial value to greatly increase ground level cover. Now, in many parts of the farm, bedded deer can’t see more than 10 yards because it is so thick. Simply improving the ground cover on your hunting land will make it easier to slip through effectively and that will make it much easier to hunt.

FIELD SHAPES I am hooked on narrow fields when it comes to hunting. If you have a choice in where to locate them, try to position a long narrow field where the terrain drops away to the prevailing downwind side. That way you can sit on the downwind side of the field with less risk that deer will smell you. You aren’t setting up to shoot the deer coming out into the field on your side. Rather, your best setup will be where you can cover the deer that come into the field from the other side. There is much less chance that they will smell you. Some deer hunters have complicated field patterns that they use to bring deer within effective range. Personally, I feel that the most important quality is simply that the field be narrow. If the field is approximately 50 yards wide, it will be wide enough for efficient planting and eventually everything walking in it will come within range. Deer feel more comfortable coming out during the day in narrow food plots that are close to cover because they are just one or two bounds from security. This greater feeling of security should increase the number of bucks you see while hunting. FENCES This gets back to the Alberta drift fence debate. There is much you can do with fences to funnel deer movement— the simplest of which is to open a gate. I have hunted gate openings often, and they are generally very good for pro32

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

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Fence openings can be great places to target whitetails. Deer, like all animals, take the easiest travel route when possible. An open gate can invite deer traffic.

ment and cause them to travel through areas where you have a natural advantage, such as near a drop-off where your scent can blow out over the valley below and away from the noses of all the deer. BRUSH PILES Another friend of mine cleared a few acres of timber to produce a food plot. Rather than randomly push the trunks and stumps to the sides of the field, he decided to create a doorway into the new field. He pushed all the trees to one side to create a thick brush pile, but right in the middle of it he left a 20-yard-wide gap that would permit deer to easily walk in and out of the field on that side. It is another form of manmade funnel, but when you have to drop and push trees anyway, they might just as well do you some good.

Bill Winke

BLOCKING TRAILS

ducing shots at does and young bucks. However, it is rare that a mature buck will walk through a gate. It happens, but they are much less predictable in their movements and are just as likely to jump a fence as go through a gate. However, gates remain good options for stand locations. You can also tie down the top wire of the fence, and attach string above the top wire for 100 yards in both directions from the tied-down area, to make a low spot that encourages deer to jump in that location. The string makes the surrounding fence look even higher and makes your “jump site� look even better to them. I personally don’t bother with tying down a fence wire. There are usually enough low spots and holes in most fences (except the very best fences) that you can simply hunt one of these natural crossings rather than training them to use a new one. MAN-MADE TRAILS I have a friend who uses his ATV to make trails through his food plots that all lead to his tree stand location like spokes on a tire. He runs his ATV through the plots (corn or sorghum) to flatten it in these areas. Deer quickly begin using these trails as their own and the simple act of making a few trails has led some very big bucks within bow range. You can also create deer trails in the cover by using a Bush Hog or similar brush-cutting device to clear paths through thick undercover. The deer will begin using these paths as their own almost immediately. This can be a very simple step to improve your hunting if your hunting area has primarily thick cover. Of course, the advantage to making these trails is your ability to concentrate deer movewww.whitetailinstitute.com

Another good trick you can use to manipulate deer movement patterns involves clogging certain trails (that are out of range) with brush so that the deer are forced to use trails closer to your stand. This is especially useful if you are hunting a wide funnel that you can’t cover from the downwind edge. In that case, clogging a few trails on the far upwind side will have the affect of bringing more deer within range. This is a pretty simple process to understand but you really need to drop a lot of brush to achieve your goal. What looks like a roadblock to you and me looks like any other piece of the forest to a deer. They are built for slipping through cover. So, you really have to drop trees and criss-

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Vol. 16, No. 2 /

WHITETAIL NEWS

33


cross them to create a wall. Just dragging a few pieces of brush across a trail will not create enough of an obstacle to produce the results you desire. I have a friend (the same one that makes the trails in his food plots) who uses his chainsaw to block trails in an effort to divert deer closer to his stands. The method paid off for him in spades a few years back when a 169-inch buck came past his stand within easy bow range after the trail farther from stand had been blocked. My friend does this routinely when he sets up his stands. As long as the trees he is cutting are junk (no commercial value), it does not harm the forest at all; and the resulting blockade caused by the felled trees adds a small amount to his odds for success. Obviously, if you don’t own the property, this is a step you should take only with permission from the landowner. OPENING CREEKS AND DITCHES Each spring, after the heavy rains have ended, I go out with my chainsaw and open up all the sneaking paths in my hunting area. I want to be able to walk easily and quickly along the bottoms of all the creeks and ditches that cut through my area so I can use them to access my stands. It is amazing how easily you can slip past nearby deer when using a ditch, but usually ditches are clogged with deadfalls. After removing these deadfalls, creeks and ditches become a pleasure to walk through and you will find yourself using them all the time. Like planting screening vegetation, cleaning out your ditches and creeks is one of the best steps you can take toward making your hunting area more productive. CONCLUSION You can significantly improve your hunting area by making a few cosmetic changes to the cover and the fences. These changes are largely inexpensive but they pay big dividends. You don’t have to cross the line and make the hunt unsporting to enjoy better success. Dropping a tree or two here and there and moving a food plot might be all you need to do to change your fortunes this fall. W

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The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail Hope Hull, AL 36043 w w w. w h i t e t a i l i n s t i t u t e . c o m

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A strategically placed brush pile can force deer to travel where the hunter has the advantage.

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O F N O RT H A M E R I C A

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Donny Landry – Louisiana I use 30-06 and 30-06 Plus Protein. (Photo enclosed.)

Glen Holstlaw – Illinois I have been a Whitetail Institute field tester now for about 3 years in good ole Illinois. That is when I was introduced to Imperial Whitetail Clover. Three of our farms totalmous 12 point buck. We plan to have all three mounted and on our wall soon! See photos.

Gary Monroe – Kansas I bought the piece of property about 2 years earlier in East Central Kansas. It has a good stand of timber but very few agricultural crops in the area. I started experimenting with food plots. Imperial Whitetail Clover brings deer from all over. The next year I was hunting just before the rut. My trail camera had taken some pictures of some very nice bucks. I was going to hold out for something special this year! My daughter, Katie, was going to college to become a teacher. She was in town and wanted to see her ole dad. So I said ,“Come down and stay with me in the camper and you can study while I am in the woods.” Katie got there about noon and we started talking. I realized she had never been in a tree stand, even as an observer. I asked her if she wanted to go with me this evening. I probably would not shoot anything but its fun to go and enjoy the woods and nature. ing 340 acres all have Imperial Whitetail Clover, I have noticed in the last 2 years that the quality of our deer has been greatly enhanced. Button bucks which used to run about 80 lbs are now 100 pounds plus. It’s the same with the yearling does. Their weights are up from 50 lbs to 70 pounds plus. I have triplet fork horns that I have been watching now for 2 yrs. They’re now 140 lbs and the antler growth is tremendous compared to past years. This buck was harvested by me during archery season. The buck came in with 2 other bucks, one was a little smaller and the other was a little bigger. The buck weighed in at 280 lbs, and field dressed 225 lbs with a 10 point rack. The rack has been estimated at 160" but has not been officially scored yet.

Allen Royer – Indiana We planted Imperial Whitetail Clover on our 180 acre farm and we have observed bigger racks on most of the bucks. This year my son Brad age 10 killed his 1st buck, my wife Peggy got her largest buck ever and I got an enor-

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

She said it would be fun! So, I made sure she did not have on a bunch of perfume and girl stuff, and then I put together an outfit for her with a bunch of my old hunting clothes. She rolled up the pant legs, cinched in the belt and off we went, doubling up on the 4-wheeler. I had my spare portable stand and safety belt. We set it up so she was shoulder to shoulder with me at a 90degree angle. That way we could whisper and enjoy the woods together. I told her I would not stand up to shoot unless it was a very big one. We were settled in for about 10 minutes when I heard, “Dad, I hear one.” “Where?” I whispered. “Over there.” “Watch for it” was my response. Crunch, crunch, crunch went the leaves as a big red squirrel hopped by. We both quietly chuckled. After about an hour and a half I heard, “Dad, I see a deer!” “Where?” I whispered. “Over there, and it’s coming this way!” she said. “Is it a buck?” I asked. “I don’t know,” she said. “Does it have any horns?” “No” she replied. “It’s a doe. Just enjoy watching her.” I said. The doe came within 15 yards in front of Katie and just milled around for about 15-20 minutes. Next, I heard an excited, “Dad, its right underneath me!” “Don’t move,” I said. About that time, I heard a loud commotion 75 yards to my left, it was a large buck working over a 10-foot cedar tree. The doe saw him too and took off behind us. The buck started walking to where the doe was standing directly behind our tree, grunting with every step. He looked big! I stood up to get ready and could almost hear Katie’s heart pounding. He came within 15 yards but slightly behind me. My arrow hit a small tree branch and struck the big deer back quite a ways. He whirled around and went about 75 yards, then laid down. Yes, he was a nice 8 pointer. He is in the Pope & Young book at a score of 130 1/8 with a 21 inch spread. I have taken bigger bucks since then, but none as gratifying as sharing this one with Katie. What did she think? Look at her smile in the picture!

Duane Olson – Iowa We own a farm in Central Iowa, and decided to try your Whitetail Institute products on advice from a friend who swears by your 30-06 Protein, Imperial Whitetail Clover, and Imperial No-Plow. He has harvested several 160 class bucks since using your products. I planted Imperial Clover, No-Plow and Extreme on about 4 acres of my farm and the

1

2

results were amazing. The deer love your clover. I constantly see them eating all hours of the day. Your products work great. The enclosed pictures were taken this year. The 9 pointer was harvested in the Imperial Clover field. The 8 pointer in photo number 2 was harvested as he headed toward one of the No-Plow plots on opening day of the Iowa gun season. Great products!

Damien Rzepka – New York [Before it was banned] I had been using your 30-06 Minerals in Upstate New York for years and they really www.whitetailinstitute.com


RECORD BOOK BUCKS… in Illinois. All four killed in were Imperial Whitetail Clover plots. My partners name is Jim

Coleman and our sons’ names are Spencer Bridges and Lee Coleman. helped the deer through all the seasons exceptionally. I also planted Secret Spot and noticed frequent deer activity. Two years ago after putting in a lot of hard work, I was rewarded with my best buck to date. With the help of your great products, I was fortunate to arrow this 140-class buck with a drop-tine that weighed close to 220 lbs. Thank you very much.

Jeffrey McKinney – Virginia Imperial Whitetail Clover did very well. The deer really seem to prefer it. There is not a lot of deer in the area but I see more deer and healthier deer as a whole since I started using your products. I let quality deer pass by day after day that most people seldom see, let alone get a chance to har-

Stan Thomas – Ohio

Used Secret Spot last year. It came up fast and thick. I took this 11 point with my bow last fall. Rattled him in as he was headed for my Secret Spot!

Steve Stapleton – Wisconsin

Stephen Bridges – Tennessee We have always been very impressed with the Imperial Whitetail Clover. I have plots in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois and have taken many great bucks using the plots. I’ve enclosed pictures of my partner and myself with two deer taken on our farm in Illinois this year. The other pictures are our two sons and the two deer they killed this year

vest. Photos enclosed are of some of the bucks taken with a bow. Also included are photos of bucks’ still running wild in our hunting area.

Aaron Moore – Kansas I met Mike Wheeler of Wheeler’s Whitetails about two years ago through a mutual friend of ours. Mike knew I liked to spend a lot of time in Kansas so he told me he had a deal for me. He said he would like me to guide for him. In return I would be able to hunt his land, so I jumped on it. Mike had planted an Imperial Whitetail Clover field that didn’t have many trees around in which to put up a stand, so I used a ground blind instead. It had been a wet year and it was supposed to rain that night, so I headed for the blind. I had a few does and small bucks come to eat the clover. Just before dark a doe came into the clover and behind her followed a huge buck. They weren’t there long and the buck chased her off. After dark I headed back to the lodge to tell Mike about the big buck. Before I agreed to guide for Mike I had booked a hunt in Illinois, and had to leave for a week. The whole time I was www.whitetailinstitute.com

there all I could think about was the big buck in Kansas. It had been a long week in Illinois, and the time had come for me to head back to Kansas. It just happened to be that we had no hunters when I got back to the cabin. It was supposed to rain that night, so off to the ground blind I went. It had started to rain pretty good, so I got settled. Does and small bucks filtered into the clover. The time passed by and it was now 4:30 pm. All of a sudden a huge buck stepped into the clover, but as fast as he had shown up, he was gone. I figured I still had some time left, so I stuck around. Finally, he walked back into the clover and stopped at thirty five yards. After the shot I knew I made a good hit, so I started tracking him right away because of the rain. Even with the rain I had a good blood trail. Not to far from the blind I came up to the deer. I was standing over a 201 and 1/8 buck. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get the deer on my truck alone, so I called for help. I also got a hold of Mike and told him I was bringing a big Kansas buck back to the lodge with me that night. When I showed up Mike was as happy as I was. Since planting Imperial Whitetail Clover we’ve noticed increased daytime activity, more deer and healthier deer. Five years ago an 80”-100” 8pointer was a good buck in this area. This 130” Pope & Young 8-point was shot while eating Imperial Whitetail Clover in a 3/4 acre “hunting plot”. W

Send Us Your Photos! Do you have a photo of a buck that qualifies for the Pope & Young, Boone & Crockett or your state record books that you 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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OHIO

Creating a Hunting Hotspot By Lou Haubner and Tim Hooey, as told to Rick Sapp

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ou Haubner lives in Apopka, Fla., but he is originally from southern Ohio. Like so many who have migrated south in search of warmer weather, he occasionally longs for the change of seasons – bright leaves forecasting leaden skies; dreary, freezing days that signal the onset of the whitetail rut; and the nervous anticipation of a late snowfall before the turkey season opens in April. None of this is meteorologically normal in the Sunshine State. In the mid-1990s, when Haubner’s Florida business was booming, he indulged his hunting interests and purchased a small farm on the north side of the Ohio River. He named it River Ridge. Initially, the farm was 300 acres, but in the way of all things hobby-related, it has since doubled in size. Today, Haubner’s pride in and enthusiasm for his farm are boundless. It was not always that way, however. Haubner met Tim Hooey on a turkey hunt in New York eight years ago. Their mutual enthusiasm for all things outdoors formed an instant bond, and Haubner invited Hooey to hunt the Ohio farm he had recently purchased. Hooey recalls that Haubner described River Ridge as “hilly.” In fact, the old place was in shambles, overrun with dense blackberry tangles. Thickets of brush choked the fields; no farm for miles planted crops any longer. The hardwood forest along the river was crowded with blow-downs. It was an excellent place to pick up firewood but also a big fire just waiting to happen with a bolt of lightning or a careless campfire. Although he was not at all sure he was heading in the most suitable direction, Haubner had planted a few small food plots in corn. They were tentative, almost apologetic patches on the flat upland spaces – a couple acres here, a couple there. The green spaces were neither planned nor organized, and Haubner explained that it was “only a beginning.” The bow hunter knew there were deer and turkeys

on the place. He had seen a few. Nothing big in the way of antlers perhaps and nothing sizeable in the way of long beards, and that was disappointing, he explained to Hooey, but that was not the point. The point was the place was his. It belonged to him. He could fiddle with it, manipulate it, change it all he wanted … and he intended to do just that. It has long been said that two heads are better than one, and when Hooey arrived to hunt Haubner’s farm, he was impressed with its potential and Haubner’s energy. With the right plan, Hooey suggested, Haubner could pull in game from surrounding areas and perhaps grow bigger deer and healthier turkeys. Haubner was immediately interested. The first few years proved to be anything but a trophy showcase for River Ridge, however. The hunters took does and spikes and button bucks. They saw a few small 8-points, but the results were unimpressive. Haubner and Hooey put their heads together. “Why are you planting corn?” Hooey asked. Huabner replied that, combined with the abundant acorn trees, the planted corn helped his deer through the bitter Ohio winters. Besides, corn was standard in the area and relatively easy to grow. “Fair enough,” Hooey said, “but what about the rest of the year? And why be so cautious? You have plenty of land for various types of food plots. Fall corn does not help bucks grow antlers or help does deliver healthy fawns.” As they talked, Haubner began to see his farm in a completely different light. He thought of big racks, heavier deer, does with more than one fawn. He saw flocks of fat turkeys strutting along field edges, even plump squirrels and fat raccoons with attitudes. His enthusiasm for the wildlife and the hunting possibilities grew far beyond what he had ever imagined for his “little hobby farm.” Haubner and Hooey eventually designed a yearround management program for River Ridge Farm. The

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

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objectives were to improve the health not just of the deer but of all of the wildlife. Although they did not think of themselves as experts in nutrition or farming, they knew people who were and where to go for information. Their program would expand the diversity of plantings and offer nutritionally-appropriate foods pegged to the season and the needs of the largest mammals on the farm – whitetail deer. They assumed that if the dominant species thrived from careful management, secondary species would also benefit. One of the first steps was to determine the pH of the farm’s soil. Neither man was an agriculturalist, but they had read about soil testing and realized that a pHneutral soil would benefit food plot growth and health. When the tests returned a predictable acidic result – soils in the 4.5 range – Haubner applied lime to the farm’s worn-out fields, raising soil pH levels to the 6 or 7 level, a requirement before he could expect to grow bountiful wildlife foods. The returned tests not only told him that he needed to apply lime, but in what quantity per acre. The next step was to establish locations for several vitamin and mineral dumps. While it sounds less-thanscientific to call them “dumps,” it only means that beginning in 1999, the hunters poured the minerals directly on the ground in a designated cove of the hardwood forest. The four spots immediately attracted deer and other animals. Because Haubner has continued to dump vitamins and minerals – the Whitetail Institute of North America’s 30-06 Plus Protein mineral supplement – in the same spots and rain has leached dissolving minerals into the soil, deer have pawed the area several feet deep. Haubner found that one bag lasts two to three months. Haubner and Hooey were satisfied that they were on the right track. They knew results would not become immediately apparent and that their program would

30-06 Minerals Terry Galland – Kansas We use the 30-06 Plus Protein Mineral and the deer love it. T.J. Anderson – Louisiana I incorporated No-Plow and 30-06 and let me tell you, Whitetail Institute products are top notch. Dan Zavoral – Minnesota The deer just destroy the 30-06 and 30-06 Plus Protein Mineral sites that we have. They dig and dig hoping to find more. Jason Stefanowicz – Pennsylvania I use the 30-06 Minerals and the deer love them. I can’t keep up with them. The deer even fight over them. I would recommend Whitetail Institute products to anyone who wants to see more deer.

Cutting Edge Jason Miller – Pennsylvania Cutting Edge products brought in more deer. Yearling bucks went from spikes and 4-points to 6- and 8-point deer. Body size increased, too.

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take several years to establish. The next step was to develop a year-round food plot program. Working from an intimate knowledge of the farm’s topography and from recent aerial photographs – which showed broader contours than could be discerned on foot – the hunting friends increased the size of Haubner’s original food plots. Whereas he had begun with four to five acres of clover and 10 acres of corn, they realized this was insufficient for the results they wanted. Estimating that the higher, flatter portions of the farm – and hence the surface eligible for planting – covered a little more than 100 acres, Haubner mowed the entire area and bush-hogged the central mass of blackberry thicket. Haubner’s objective was to plant fields with food that would yield significant benefit to deer and turkeys year-round but especially when they needed it the most: late winter and spring. His subsequent step was to plant a dozen acres of the Whitetail Institute’s Imperial Alfa-Rack, 12 acres of Imperial Whitetail Clover on old fields with gasping soils covered in ragweed, and 10 to 15 acres of corn, which he left standing until midFebruary. Supplementing the mineral licks and food plots, Haubner and Hooey erected five feeders and filled them with corn. They operate from mid-December until the spring “green-up.” “Our feeders distribute about 40 pounds a day,” Haubner said, perfectly enthusiastic about his farming enterprise, “and I’ve built several feed stations solely for

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turkeys.” Today, the wildlife management program at River Ridge Farm has settled into a predictable routine, which Haubner manages with periodic visits: Winter: Minerals are replenished, the corn is still standing (until February), the five planted apple trees are pruned, and feeders are filled with corn monthly. Spring: New ground is disked, fields for Imperial Clover and Alfa-Rack are fertilized, corn is planted, pelletized lime is added as needed, field edges are mowed and weeds sprayed. Summer: 30-06 Plus Protein minerals are replenished, Imperial Clover and Alfa-Rack are sprayed with herbicide to kill broadleaf weeds, and the hunters pray for rain. Fall: New ground is plowed in preparation for AlfaRack and Imperial Clover plantings the next year, a light re-seeding of Alfa-Rack and Imperial Clover. If judged by “just having a place to hunt,” Lou Haubner’s hobby farm is certainly out of control. The work and the expense have increased significantly. Sometimes, Haubner said, when he should be concerned with contracts and returning phone messages, all he can think about is boosting River Ridge Farm’s productivity. Although it did not happen immediately, Tim Hooey feels the results are impressive. “It’s a great success story,” he said. “Lou took this old farm and turned it into a whitetail paradise. When I first hunted there, we were lucky to see a doe wander through. Now, we’re holding a lot of does. When we ride around before dark, we

Rick Sapp

Professional baseball player Ryan Klesko took this superior whitetail buck at River Ridge Farm in 2005. Farm owner Lou Haubner now insists that deer must have a 16-inch inside spread before they can be harvested.

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368 South Gold Tip Dr Orem, Utah 84058 800.551.0541 www.GOLDTIP.com

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Rick Sapp

Terry Rohm with a beautiful 10-point buckhe took on Lou Haubner’s River Ridge Farm in Ohio.

might see 70 to 80 deer in the food plots and in the surrounding woods. We’re obviously bringing deer in from surrounding areas. Eight years ago, we were taking year-and-a-half old deer. Last year we took three deer that scored more than 150!” Lou Haubner says River Ridge is not designed for commercial hunting, and that all of his efforts have been to benefit the wildlife and the enjoyment of friends and family who hunt deer, turkey and small game there. “We have more deer sightings and higher deer densities than ever before,” he says. “We know what the deer like to eat because we regularly walk the fields and we use field cameras for surveillance. It is common to see deer with 8- and 10-point racks now, whereas the first few years we never saw anything like that. And my turkeys seem to be getting along better and better, too.” Results have progressed so well on River Ridge Farm that Haubner has instituted an 8-point minimum for his deer hunters. Antlers must also have a 16-inch inside spread. And what of the future? With a year-round nutritional program for wildlife at River Ridge, Haubner has his eyes on adding several tracts of land adjacent to the farm. “Five hundred, 600 acres sounds like a lot in the east,” he says. “A square mile is 640 acres, but like I told Tim the first time we met, the old place is hilly. We only have about 125 acres of arable land. So, we may need to expand.” Haubner said every time he sees a doe with two fawns or turkey tracks in his mineral dumps, he thinks, “What should I do next? How can I make this better? Several people questioned whether with an unfenced farm as small as River Ridge we could make any difference in the deer and turkey populations, even the bobwhite quail and rabbits. Our results prove it can be done.” W

Rocky Branch Outfitters The Whitetail Institute is proud to offer the WHITETAIL AGING PLAQUE. This interesting plaque displays the jawbone and teeth of the critical first eight years of a deer’s life. The display measures 11 inches wide by 21 inches tall and is handmade of quality pine, sealed and protected with special lamination. The unique aging device is being used by the best deer biologists in America. It is fascinating to view and interesting enough to be displayed in your den, hunting lodge or camp. If you have serious management interest in the progress or decline of your deer herd, the WHITETAIL AGING PLAQUE is an invaluable management tool. After a few hunting seasons of aging deer using this technique, you will actually be able to determine fairly accurately the age of your deer on the hoof. Jawbones and teeth reproductions represent deer from 1-1/2 years to 8-1/2 years old. Remember, the only way to accurately age deer is by the wear on the deer’s teeth. Our WHITETAIL AGING PLAQUE shows you everything you need to know about these wear patterns and will help you make intelligent decisions about your deer management program. Every serious sportsman should have a WHITETAIL AGING PLAQUE. With it, you can determine the age of each deer harvested. With this knowledge you are on your way to developing a deer management program that will lead to bigger and better-quality deer.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

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P L A NT I N G DAT E S

for Imperial Winter-Greens™ North: Sept 5 - Nov 1 Central: Sept 15 - Nov 15 South: Sept 25 - Nov 15

Call for planting dates Call for planting dates July1 - August 1

North: Aug 15 - Oct 1 South: Sept 5 - Oct 20

Coastal: Feb 1 - March 1 Southern Piedmont: Feb 15 - April 1 Mountain Valleys: March 1 - April 15

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

July 15 - Sept 15 Aug1 - Oct 1 North: July 15 - Sept 15 South: Aug1 - Oct 1

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

North: July 20 - Aug 1* South: July 15 - Aug 15*

July 15 - Sept 1 July 1 - Sept 15 Aug1 - Sept 30 July 15 - Sept 15 Sept 15 - Nov 15

HOW I DO IT… (Continued from page 10) zones should be left alone, allowing the resident deer to relax with the idea of making them a tad bit more vulnerable. The goal is to attract as many deer as possible to a food source without eliminating critical safe zones. Putting a food plot too close to a bedding area is a good way to spook resident deer onto someone else’s property. If at all possible, I suggest food plots be placed in areas that allow you to hunt halfway between the food source and bedding area, without disturbing the deer. PROTECT NATURAL FOOD SOURCES As a rule of thumb, I seldom eliminate naturally existing deer food sources such as oak and apple trees. When developing food plots near such trees, it is likely they’ll become much more productive once released, meaning they are now exposed to more sunlight than ever before. In fact, if not already present, I highly recommend planting fruit-bearing trees such as apple trees. Whitetails absolutely love fruit trees and most soils are user friendly when it comes to planting them. Since we’re on the subject of protecting existing resources, I strongly discourage destroying or even modifying bedding areas and thickets of cover. Reason being that many properties lack this type of habitat, thus destroying it makes no sense at all. SOIL QUALITY When selecting potential food plot sites, it’s a good

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idea to check the quality of the soil before the work begins. The pH of the soil can be tested by simply digging three inches to five inches down into the soil in several different locations of the proposed site. Mix those samples together in a Ziploc-type bag and send it to someone who can test it for you. The Whitetail Institute, USDA county extension offices and many agriculture stores can test your soil. The test results will recommend exactly how much lime and/or fertilizer is needed to reach a target level pH. Lime and fertilizer, key ingredients important to the success of your food plot, can be purchased at most garden centers and feed stores. A pH of 6.5 to 7 is about as good as it gets for growing a wide variety of plot foods. Keep in mind that hostile habitat can be challenging, but in my opinion, if the soil is good enough to support weeds and other vegetation, with the right amount of lime and fertilizer it will probably be food-plot friendly. too. LOOK FOR NATURAL OPENINGS Many properties are blessed with old logging roads or small grass openings, which can easily be converted into great food sources. A most important thing to remember about grass openings is they have been a haven of nasty weeds for many years, thus your first step is to kill as much of the vegetation as possible. One pass with a tiller is usually not enough to convince those weeds to give up and die. Again, I want to emphasize, if not properly destroyed, those weeds will find a second wind and come back stronger than ever. All your time, money and effort spent on establishing a good food plot should result in maximum success. Herbicides such as Round-

up may be sprayed on natural clearings several times, spaced three to four weeks apart. Once all the weeds are dead, I recommend plowing the soil two to three times prior to planting the site. SEED CHOICES Each area is different when it comes to selecting the best seed for your food plot. Seed depletion depends a great deal on soil type. My favorite seed blends, depending on my plot location, are Imperial Whitetail Clover, Extreme or Imperial Alfa-Rack PLUS. A product like Imperial Winter-Greens is also great for late season hunting in the northern part of the country. CLOSING Properly managed forest habitat often provides numerous natural food sources beneficial to whitetails. Supplemented with high-quality food plots, the nutritional value of any piece of property can result in increased deer numbers, healthier animals and bigger antlers. Like any food source, a food plot will also recruit non-resident deer, encouraging them to spend more time on the property you intend to hunt. The longer they stay, the more likely they are to establish bedding areas and become long-term tenants. Establishing food plots in hard-to-reach places is certainly not a walk in the park. As with any sport, success seems to come to those who work harder than everyone else. The same holds true with hunting big bucks. In my opinion placing successful food plots in areas never used before is a step in the right direction and an investment worth making. W

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Maps Megabucks

&

Geographic tools “map� hunting success By Brad Herndon

Brad Herndon

The author hunted this buck for four years before he harvested the trophy. A subtle hilltop field funnel the author found on a topographic map led to the successful hunt.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

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Saddles in hilly regions are often the best places to ambush bucks. This topographic map shows three idleal saddles.

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avid Hicks was excited when he got off work on Friday, Nov. 18, 2005, and arrived at his hunting spot. A west wind was what had his adrenalin flowing because it would allow him to hunt a subtle saddle he had located in a ridge that ran north and south. Entering from the east, Hicks cautiously made his way up to the prime ambush point and placed his stand in a tree facing west. The time was 4:05 p.m. www.whitetailinstitute.com

Around 5:30 p.m. Hicks heard a deer walking. He diligently searched the hillside on ernd dH leading up to the sadBra dle and was finally able to see the deer. It was a buck, and definitely a shooter. At 60 yards, the mature whitetail stopped broadside and Hicks’ Buckhammer sabot dropped the 4 1/2-year-old, 10-point buck in his tracks. The deer field-dressed at a healthy 190 pounds. It scored 151 1/8-inches gross, 148 1/8-inches net – certainly a dandy buck. Interestingly, David Hicks will tell you his success is a direct result of using maps in his hunting strategies. A few years ago Hicks started using topographical maps extensively, and the result of his hunting efforts since then has been seven mature bucks in nine years. In addition to his dandy buck from 2005, his 2004 buck scored 155 4/8-inches gross. Those are great back-to-back bucks in almost any state. By studying the contour lines on topographical maps, Hicks is able to pick out strategic ambush locations in the terrain in which to place his tree stands. Saddles are one of the hottest funnels Hicks has found in his hilly region, but inside corners and other terrain corridors whitetails use have also produced for him. Hicks will readily admit that studying maps has enabled him to recognize key ambush locations that he totally overlooked in his early years of hunting. Throughout the nation, stories such as David Hicks’ are commonplace because more and more each year, deer hunters are learning the value of using maps in their hunting plans. However, many hunters out there still have a lot to learn about the use of maps. I’ve been using maps in my hunting strategies since the 1970s, and in the rest of this article I’ll explain four different types of maps and how each can work to make you a more successful whitetail hunter. THE PLAT MAP The four different types of maps used in deer hunting are plat, aerial, topographical, and soil maps. The Plat map shows the ownership of property in an area. They are handy in many ways. For example, if I’m looking for property to lease in a certain area, I’ll check out good-looking regions, then go to my plat map and see who owns the property. Then it’s a simple matter to look in the phone book and call and greet the landowner by name. I have plat maps of regions in several different states, so I also use them when going door-to-door obtaining perVol. 16, No. 2 /

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mission to hunt, which, by the way, can still be accomplished in some areas of our nation. Location of property is determined by latitude (north and south) and longitude (east and west) descriptions. On each plat map, these locations are shown and section numbers are recorded on the map. The good news about this is that locations and section numbers are the same on plat, aerial, topographical and soil maps. This means information can accurately be transferred from one type of map to another type of map. This means if you’re hunting a certain property, you can get the location from a plat map; and by measuring map scales, you can draw your property lines onto the other three types of maps. This way you know exactly where the property lines lie regarding the terrain. This helps immensely when posting a piece of land. THE AERIAL MAP

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

The aerial map is a picture of the countryside taken from above, either by plane or satellite. It’s a valuable map for the deer hunter because it enables him to pick out narrow terrain features whitetails will naturally funnel through when they are moving around. For example, if a woodlot is L-shaped, the aerial map will reveal the inside corner that

deer will travel through during daylight hours. Narrow strips of timber or brush deer travel through, such as timber along streams or fencerows, are also easily spotted on the aerial map. And, of course, roads, houses, barns, ponds, lakes and other landmarks are easily identifiable. All in all, the aerial map is an extremely valuable hunting tool for the deer hunter. But it has one weakness – it doesn’t show elevation contour lines, so it is difficult to determine how flat or hilly the land is. THE TOPOGRAPHICAL MAP If I could pick only one type of map to use, the topographical map would be it. Simply put, the topo map is a drawing of a region made by taking aerial photographs and then using photogramettric methods to record this information. The finished product shows roads, streams, houses, barns, many fencerows, and more; but most of all, it reveals the elevations in a region by implementing elevation contour lines on the map. Most topo maps in the United States are the 7.5-minute quadrangle size that covers about 60 square miles. Each contour elevation line on this scale map represents a 10foot change in elevation. Every fifth contour elevation line is accentuated, so each 50-foot change in elevation is easy www.whitetailinstitute.com


from your thoughts. While sign is important to me – especially large rubs since they indicate a mature deer is cruising the area – location is the most critical factor when it comes to killing trophy bucks. Moreover, a ton of hot deer sign may lie in a hilly valley, begging you to put your stand there; but your success rates in this placement will be low at best because this particular type of terrain location found in valleys results in changing wind directions on and off all day. Conversely, an inside corner that is on high ground only one-fourth mile away may look like a dismal spot because it only has a single deer trail skirting the corner and few rubs or scrapes nearby. Yet this inside corner may turn out to be the key to killing the best bucks in the region. This is true for three reasons. First of all, the inside corner is likely to be located next to a pasture or grain field. This provides an ideal, lowimpact entry to the stand site when the correct wind is used. Secondly, the inside corner is a half-funnel that will pull whitetails through it when they are out traveling during daylight hours. And thirdly, because this inside corner is

The aerial map is a picture of the countryside taken from above, either by plane or satellite. It’s a valuable map for the deer hunter because it enables him to pick out narrow terrain features whitetails will naturally funnel through when they are moving around.

Jay Gregory Host, The Wild Outdoors

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to see. Once a deer hunter learns to read the topo map, he will be able to discover almost all strategic terrain features found on the aerial map, plus many more. For instance, in a hilly region, a saddle (a low place in a ridgeline that drops down and then comes back up, much like a horse saddle) is easy to identify by “reading” the contour elevation lines. This is impossible to accurately do on the aerial map since it is a flat photograph of the terrain and usually doesn’t include elevation contour lines. In addition, awesome deer ambush spots such as hilltop field funnels, converging hubs on ridgetops, prominent points in hilly regions and benches in the hills are all revealed to the trained eye by using the topo map. Interestingly, a few hunters will tell me they don’t need a topographical map since they know their hunting region like “the back of their hand.” While it doesn’t seem likely, I’ve located hunting hot spots in areas I’ve hunted for years, simply by diligently studying a topo map in my easy chair. And some of these hot spots were in locations I had actually walked through to get to what I thought were the real hot spots. This happens because studying maps enables you to take your time and consider all factors that might make a location productive, especially for mature deer. For example, when you are looking at a map in your den at home, the emotion of seeing deer sign is removed

located on high ground, the wind remains consistent out of the predicted wind direction for the day, rather than swirling around like it does in low-lying areas in the hills. Topographical maps are also invaluable when hunting out-of-state since you can read the lay of the land and pick out key deer travel corridors before you ever leave home. It’s common to walk right to a hot location in another state even though you’ve never stepped foot in that forest before. I’ve done it many times, and so have many other deer hunters. Incidentally, the one weakness the topographical map has is that it doesn’t show all of the brush in the terrain like the aerial map does. A fencerow that has grown up in heavy cover, thus providing a breakline whitetails will travel along, is one example of where the aerial mapbeats the topo map. While I favor the topo map overall, I use both the topo and aerial maps when planning a hunting strategy of an area. This way I have all bases covered. I personally know hundreds of whitetail hunters who are now using topographical maps; and without fail, each of them have told me they have become more successful

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hunters since they started using both types of maps. Admittedly, it does take some time and effort to fully understand map hunting; and to shorten up the learning curve, three years ago I wrote a book entitled, Mapping Trophy Bucks. It explains everything about map hunting you need to know, and I have to say I have been extremely happy that I shared with others what I know about map hunting since the book has been one of the best-selling deer hunting books in the nation over the past two years. (I have listed in a sidebar where the book can be purchased.)

The soil survey map is a map that doesn’t get a lot of press. Essentially, it is a complete compilation of every type of soil found in each county in the United States. This map explains where each type of soil is located within each county, what that particular type of soil consists of, and what crops will best grow on that soil. The soil map is obviously valuable to those hunters running a quality deer management program in their hunting area since it allows them to pinpoint the most fertile soils on their properties. The soil maps also tell them what type of food plot products will grow best in that location. If the location contains wetter soil, Imperial Whitetail Clover will do well. If the soil is well-drained, then Alfa-Rack PLUS may be the best product to use. And if the soil is dry and droughty, then Extreme may produce the most nutritious browse for your deer. As with the topo map, some deer hunters don’t see the value of the soil map because “dirt is dirt.” This simply isn’t true. In fact, soil types can change dramatically within a few feet. One half of a food plot may look great while the other half doesn’t look so hot. This leads the food plot manager to believe he did something wrong in one half of the plot, such as not getting the lime or fertilizer spread evenly, when in fact the soil types changed within that small plot.

A Soil Geographic Database on CD shows different types of soils overlaid on an aerial map. It also contains a topographic map overlay and much more. They are available at your local Natural Resource Conservation Service office.

At this time, roughly 80 to 90 percent of the counties in the United States are covered by a Soil Survey Geographic Database that can be obtained on CD for

either no fee or a nominal fee at your county Natural Resources Conservation Service office. Few deer hunters know about this soil survey database, but it

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The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail Pintlala, AL 36043 www.whitetailinstitute.com

Research = Results. 48

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

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Brad Herndon

SOIL SURVEY MAPS


should be a must-have for every hunter. USING A SOIL SURVEY GEOGRAPHIC DATABASE After placing the soil survey database of your county

in your computer, simply click on the township where your hunting area is located. This will bring up an aerial map of this township. From here, click on the Zoom-In tool, and then click on the map to make it bigger. After locating your property, you can click on Soils, Streams, and various other

■ >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> oth topographical and aerial maps are invaluable in scouting, both on familiar and unfamiliar land. You have several options for obtaining your aerial and topographical maps. If you have an Internet connection you can visit www.mytopo.com and this will connect you to a Web site where you can buy both aerial and topo maps. These maps can even be centered over the exact area you are going to hunt and can be ordered waterproofed. They run about $15 each. A related and extremely useful site, www.mapcard.com, for a small annual fee, allows you to locate your hunting property, view both aerial and topo maps, measure the acreage of whatever you desire, calculate distance, insert waypoints to track deer sign, and many other useful features. You can then save and/or print your custom map. It’s an extremely useful tool for deer hunters. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is the source of all mapping information in the United States. They also list all typographical map symbols on their Web page, plus they list all business partners they have who sell topographical and aerial maps, both on paper and on CD. Their Web site is www.usgs.gov or you can contact them at: USGS Information Services, Box 25286, Denver, CO 80225, phone 888-275-8747, fax 303-202-4693. The author’s latest book, “Mapping Trophy Bucks,” explains in detail how to use aerial, topographical and plat maps to figure out trophy buck movement patterns. It explains in easy-to-understand terms how deer use terrain and where and how you can set up and ambush them. The 192-page full-color book contains beautiful photography and many detailed how-to maps. For an autographed copy, send a check for $27.50 to: Brad Herndon, 1838 E. St. Rd. 250, Brownstown, Indiana 47220. Plat maps of your county can be purchased in various places. Local farm cooperatives often carry them, as do county court houses or even real estate agencies. A Soil Survey Geographic Database CD of your county can be obtained from your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office. Look in the phone book under Government, Federal Offices. By typing in www.nrcs.usda.gov/ and then clicking on your state, you will find much more valuable information about the soils in your hunting area, and it’s free. If you’re just beginning to use maps for the first time, the fastest way to learn how to use them is to hook up with an experienced map-reader. If this isn’t possible, take an aerial map to an area you’re familiar with and walk the terrain as you study the map. This will help you understand the contour elevation changes shown on the topo map. Both aerial and topographical maps are very useful when laying out food plots in strategic locations.

B

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items and they will show on your map. The Soils feature is what will tell you about the types of soils in your area. If you wish, you can even click on Topographic Map, and your map will convert from an aerial map to a topo map. It’s awesome how it works. Now for a neat feature I use a lot. Let’s say you’re in aerial view, and you zoom in to a field where you want to place a food plot. By clicking on the Acreage Tool, you can draw in the plot on the map the size you think you would like to make it. Once this is completed, a window will appear that tells you the size of the plot in acres, and it will also tell the yield per acre of various products that might be planted in the plot. Included are corn, soybeans, hay, pasture, winter wheat and more, depending on the county. To give you an idea of how quickly soil types change, I drew in a food plot of 1 1/4 acres in a corner of a field that just happened to have a change in soil types. The chart of this small plot informed me that one half of the plot would produce 80 bushels per acre of corn while the other half would yield 115 bushels per acre. This shows the dramatic differences in soils within a small area. In summing up, this article has covered the four types of maps that will provide valuable information to a deer hunter. The plat map can help you find property to hunt, buy or lease. The aerial map will increase your hunting skills and success rate by revealing key hunting locations to you. The topographical map will reveal even more hot deer funnels than the aerial map since it shows the contour elevations of your hunting areas. And finally, the soil survey map will allow you to grow better crops in your food plots and thus grow healthier and bigger deer. In the end, mastering the use of maps will result in more megabucks on your wall. It’s worked for thousands of hunters in the last few years, and it will work for you. W

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MICHIGAN

Buck of a Lifetime on Imperial Clover By Kevin Brown

M

y heart pounded in my chest and my knees were shaking. I had watched the big 8-pointer for almost 30 minutes, and I was a total wreck. He was feeding within 25 yards of me and moving slowly

Michael Strickland – Alabama I took my daughter, Emily, with me one afternoon and we sat in a shooting house on one of our Imperial Whitetail Clover fields. We saw 17 to 20 deer on the field. We lost count when they started moving around seven of the 17 to 20 were bucks. Imperial Whitetail Clover is truly the best thing I have ever planted for the deer. Nick Wiles – Arizona The Imperial Whitetail Clover has the deer running to it. I also see alot more bigger bucks. Troy Day – Georgia I love Imperial Whitetail Clover and the deer do, too. Kyle Webb – Indiana We have 24 acres and have seen 14 deer at one time in a 1/2-acre patch of Imperial Whitetail Clover. During spring and summer there were four bucks together in the patch one 5-point, one 6-point, one 8-point and one 12-point. Francis Misiuk – Massachusetts I planted a field of Imperial Whitetail Clover. Prior to this I rarely saw deer in the field but immediately began seeing bucks when the clover came up. All summer I video taped big bucks in the field, up to seven at once (all 8- and 10-pointers). Dennis Weinstock – Wisconsin I planted Imperial Whitetail Clover on an old 2-acre field. One day I climbed up into a tree, watched a former dead 2-acre piece of land after two months of growing come alive. That evening I watched 14 deer feed on that plot — eight were bucks.

but steadily closer. As he cleared the overhanging branches blocking his vitals, I began to draw. I was such a basket case I could not get my bow to full draw. I had waited for almost half an hour for a shot opportunity, and now I could not draw my bow! Last winter I purchased a 30-acre parcel of land in southeast Michigan and began building a house at the west end of the property. The property consists of approximately 24 acres of hardwoods surrounded by agricultural fields. The woods narrow at the east end and there is a small strip of open ground along the north edge of the woodlot adjoining one of the agricultural fields. I felt it would be the perfect spot for a food plot. The soil was rich and moist with a pH near 7.0, so I decided to plant a plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover in the spring. The plot grew nicely, and although it struggled early with native grasses and weeds, the Imperial Clover flourished. I hung a tree stand at the east edge of the clover. It was a perfect setup for a southwest wind. I stayed out of the area until conditions to hunt the stand were perfect. As I approached the stand to hunt it for the first time, I noticed several rubs. The location and position of the rubs appeared to indicate a nice buck was entering the food plot to feed in the evening. That first night I saw only a doe and her fawn. They fed on the clover and eventually passed through one of my shooting lanes at 25 yards. I was eager to hunt the stand again but made a commitment to wait until the conditions were again just right. The next time I hunted the stand was the last week of October. The pre-rut was in full swing and there were now some very nice rubs showing up on trees within 30 yards of my stand. About an hour before dark, a doe and a fawn, possibly the same ones I had seen on my previous sit in this stand, popped out of the woods behind me. I was watching the doe and fawn feed when a giant buck entered the field. He came out of a tree line

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

Kevin Brown has seen a surprising amount of buck activity on his 30 acres after planting Imperial Clover.

that joined the woods at the east end of the property. The buck moved steadily toward the two feeding deer grunting with every step. The buck was enormous – legitimate 170-class buck. He was obviously scent- checking the doe. Once he realized the doe was not ready to breed, he turned and disappeared into the corner where the tree line joined the woodlot. Despite my efforts to call him within bow range, he vanished as quickly as he had appeared. Work and other commitments prevented me from being able to hunt for the next few days. The next time I was able to hunt it was pouring down rain and the wind was gusting with speeds up to 30 mph. I took advantage of the conditions and hung a stand in the corner where I had seen the big buck disappear several days before. It was Nov. 11 before I had the opportunity to climb into that stand. The morning dawned cold and clear. I had laid a scent trail using doe-in-estrous urine on the way in to my stand. About an hour after daybreak I saw the first deer, a button buck. He fed beneath my stand for about 20 minutes. Then I heard another deer approaching. It was a 1 1/2-year-old 8-point and he was following the scent trail right to my stand. I watched the two deer milling around for quite some time before I noticed three does cutting across the cut bean field. They were followed by three bucks, one of which appeared to be a shooter. It was not the monster I had seen earlier in the season but it appeared to be a good buck. The young 8-point and the button buck must have also noticed the deer because they both headed after them. There were now eight deer in the cut field about 100 yards north of my Imperial Clover plot. A second button buck passed under my stand and joined them. I watched the nine deer for about 40 minutes. The biggest buck seemed to be tending one of the does. Any time one of the smaller bucks got too close, he would run them off. Eventually, all nine deer bedded in a hedgerow dividing the large field. The deer remained bedded until the last hour of daylight. While most of the deer became active – feeding, chasing and sparring – the bigger buck kept the doe in the hedgerow until it was too dark for me to see. The wind changed overnight, and even though I wanted to hunt my clover plot stand, which was within a couple hundred yards of where I had observed all the deer activity the previous day, I couldn’t risk it. I hunted another nearby stand the next morning but didn’t see a deer. Throughout the day the wind gradually changed direction again and by late afternoon it was blowing out of the southwest. There was no doubt about where I was (Continued on page 55)

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Tricks for Taking Does – Without Hurting Your Buck Hunting By Steve Bartylla

The question then becomes, if nearly all of the most respected whitetail biologists stand behind this assertion, why aren’t more hunters willing to take more does? I believe the answer is that hunters are afraid of the potential damage they will do to their buck hunting. A portion of this group simply believes more does have the potential to draw more bucks. They fear the disturbances associated with harvesting does will alert bucks to the fact they’re being hunted. As has been written many times, mature bucks are tough enough to harvest when they don’t know they’re being hunted. Once they do, they become exponentially more difficult. Since keeping disturbances to a minimum are so vitally important to hunting success, does that mean we can’t risk harvesting does? Not in the least. However, one should do it in a manner that minimizes the risk of damaging our buck hunting. Luckily, this can be accomplished. A BREED APART In order to do this, we must understand some basic differences between mature bucks and does. Luckily, outside of the rut, mature bucks place a higher premium on safety 52

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

than family groups and are much more solitary animals. During the non-rutting phases of deer season, bucks have the strong tendency to form their own bedding and trail systems, which display the higher premium they place on personal safety. Assuming prime deer habitat is expansive enough, they often don’t interact with family groups much except at prime food sources. Even when it comes to food however, it’s not uncommon for bucks to either feed by themselves in remote corners or even select an inferior food source that provides increased safety. This limited amount of information alone is very helpful. Simply because we know that family group trails typically endure more traffic, it’s easy to differentiate between them and a buck trail. The beaten-down cow paths through the mature sections of woods are not likely locations to meet Mr. Big, outside of the peak scraping, chase and breeding phases of season. When further investigation reveals a mixture of adult deer and fawn tracks, we can feel even more confident about this. On the flip side, bumping into a buck on the faint trail paralleling the thicket and adorned with a handful of rubs, is much more likely. Still, common sense must be used. In areas where deer habitat is limited, mature bucks and family groups often

must share the same trail systems. In that case, it’s either share or increase their exposure to danger. Funnels are another obvious example. By definition, a funnel is a feature or combination of features that constrict deer movement through a relatively narrow area. In those conditions, bucks and does can be forced to share the same trail. As with most things, identifying doe trails also requires some common sense. Along with does being more tolerant of human activity, they also have a matriarchal society that plays into the hunter’s favor. Doe groups, or clans, are typically comprised of fawns, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and so on. The most mature, healthy clans tend to occupy the best habitat, with subordinate clans filling in around the fringes. These clans are not unlike gangs that defend their turf. When another clan feeds or beds within a more dominate clan’s comfort zone, they are commonly driven away. This is why one can often observe several different clans loosely grouped in separate areas of a large food source. In habitats that have a surplus of does, the result is that some lesser clans are commonly pushed to areas that no self-respecting mature buck would step foot in outside of www.whitetailinstitute.com

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he concept of harvesting does to improve your buck hunting isn’t new. The vast majority of readers fully understand the arguments behind this principle. Fewer does translates into more nutrition for bucks and tighter sex ratios, resulting in increased competition for breeding rights. In turn, the hunter is offered more opportunities at bigger bucks.


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the breeding phase of season.

BUCK PLOTS VS. DOE PLOTS

FORMULATING A PLAN From these whitetail behavioral traits, we can begin formulating strategies for harvesting does with minimal disturbances. First, because of the limited interactions between mature bucks and family groups outside of the rut, it only makes sense that early and late season is when hunters concerned about educating bucks harvest most of their does. Taking that simple approach alone can be a big help. Next, hunters can focus their doe hunts toward areas that bucks find less desirable. Fringe areas closer to human activity and more open areas of otherwise dense timber are good starting points. With a quick foot-scout of the area, the sign will be a strong indicator as to whether it’s also frequented by mature bucks. If the sign doesn’t indicate a bruiser is present, investing several late afternoons in observing the area is a good practice. This will not only further ensure that harvesting a doe won’t hurt the hunter but watching the family groups increases the odds of getting stand placement right the first time. Even when the right area is targeted, the fewer times a hunter must get in and out of that area, the less likely they are of tipping their hand to Mr. Big. USING FOOD PLOTS TO HARVEST DOES It is also no secret that the best food plots for taking bucks contain highly desirable plantings, which are one-half to two-acres in size and surrounded by protective cover. However, the best food plot management systems should also take doe harvest into account. Because we understand the specific traits that bucks seek, we can use that information to supplement our food plot plan with plots designed for safely harvesting does.

Putting out the welcome mat for deer is as easy as pouring from a jug. Deer are so attracted by the smell and drawn to the taste of Magnet Mix that they will come from miles around – and keep coming back. Just shake and pour (no mixing required) and wait for the deer to show up. Just seconds of preparation provides gallons of attraction. Because of Magnet Mix’s incredible attractiveness, some states may consider it bait. Remember to check your local game laws before hunting over Magnet Mix.

The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail / Pintlala, AL 36043

800-688-3030 www.whitetailinstitute.com

Research = Results.

54

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

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For example, on a 500-acre farm, with a decent amount of timber, two or three buck-killing plots can be created along with one for does. The keys are positioning the doe plot away from known buck activity, making it larger in size and targeting areas that provide a slightly decreased illusion of safety. Because of the competition for the smaller, more secluded buck plots, as well as does not wanting to be harassed by bucks, some doe clans will be pushed to the larger, more open doe plots. This is almost assured when a premium planting, such as Imperial Whitetail Clover, is offered in the plot. Provided that the food plot management system was designed to allow low-impact entry and exit, we are almost home free. All that is left is to exclusively hunt stands when the wind is right and refrain from over-hunting the plot. With that, along with observations validating the lack of buck activity, we have a location that promotes safe doe harvests. REMOVAL The last step in not harming the buck hunting is moving the harvested does to an area void of deer activity before gutting. One can easily argue whether fresh gut piles scare deer. What can’t be argued is that they draw canines and other natural predators. In most areas of the whitetail’s range, coyotes are abundant. Deer get very nervous when a pack of dogs are running around. Once coyotes find a free meal at a specific location they keep coming back looking for seconds. That alone makes gutting deer in areas void of deer activity a solid strategy. Coyotes aren’t the only issue. In some areas of the whitetail’s range, timber wolves, bears or large cats are common. Any one of those predators can have an impact KRAZE 4c ad 5/11/06 1:57 PM Page 1 on your half deer hunting.

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Obviously, for the image of hunting, we should also be mindful of where we field-dress our kills. With that in mind, look for locations away from prime deer habitat where the potential of drawing predators is not as harmful, and where the area won’t harm hunting’s image. Taking that simple step can be more important than one thinks. CONCLUSION Aside from the advantages of creating a habitat that provides bucks with a surplus of nutritious food, as well as one where bucks must compete harder for does, there are other compelling reasons to harvest does. For one, it provides an excellent source of practice. As much as we try to put bucks up on a pedestal, mature does are every bit as wily as a cagey old buck. If hunters can consistently beat the matriarch’s senses, they can feel confident when a bruiser decides to enter weapon’s range. Furthermore, doe meat makes great freezer filler. There is added benefit by specifically targeting does with nubbin buck fawns. Several studies have revealed that the percentage of yearling bucks dispersing to distant properties is reduced when the doe is harvested. Since most readers of Whitetail News already provide their resident deer with superior nutrition, their property’s buck fawns are commonly more robust than average. Obviously, keeping them at home is beneficial to the property’s future hunting prospects. Luckily, a savvy land manager can realize all of these benefits without harming their buck hunting. Through understanding the basic differences between the traits of mature bucks and does, creative food plot strategies and formulating sound hunting plans, ample does can be harvested in a way that does nothing but benefit buck hunting. With that knowledge at our disposal, it no longer makes sense not to skim the surplus does from our properties. Doing so only improves our buck hunting. W

Buck of a Lifetime… (Continued from page 50) headed that evening. It was Nov. 12, and based on what I had observed the previous day, the rut was in full swing. Two hours before dark I climbed into my stand overlooking the Imperial Whitetail Clover food plot. With about an hour of shooting light left, I saw a deer emerge from the hedgerow where I had seen all the deer bed the previous day. The deer slowly worked his way down the hedgerow toward my food plot and my stand. It was the 8-point I had seen the day before. He was now all alone and looking to feed before going in search of another hot doe. The buck fed on the clover, slowly heading in my direction. I had been watching the buck for so long I was now a total mess. The 8-point stepped into my shooting lane totally oblivious to my presence 20 feet above him only 18 yards away. I tried to draw my bow but could not. I could feel myself starting to panic. I had waited for 30 minutes for an opportunity to shoot and now that opportunity was slipping away. I took a deep breath and again drew my bow. This time I reached my anchor point and slowly settled my 20-yard pin tight behind the buck’s front shoulder. I squeezed the trigger on my release and sent an arrow through the buck’s chest. He kicked and spun and I heard him collapse only a short distance away. I sat down and tried to regain my composure. After waiting an incredibly long 20 minutes I climbed down and walked to where I had heard the buck crash. I thanked God as I grasped his 8-point rack. The buck was not a trophy by many people’s standards and was not even the biggest buck I had ever shot, but he was a true trophy to me. I had taken this buck on my own property, hunting over a food plot that I had planted. It was an experience I will never forget. And the 170-inch buck is still out there somewhere. W

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Experts

Reveal Their Secrets

How two top deer hunters consistently tag trophy-class whitetails By Captain Michael Veine

F

With 36 trophy bucks taken from Michigan in the record books, Fred Abbas ranks as Michigan’s most successful trophy deer hunter.

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red Abbas and Joe Hankins are two of the most successful deer hunters roaming the whitetail woods. Just about every year, these guys manage to take world-class bucks; I'm talking about whitetails of the highest caliber. While both have amassed an unbelievable collection of trophy whitetails, their hunting locations, tactics, philosophies and years of experience are as different as night and day. Unlike many accomplished deer hunters, though, these guys are willing to share their secrets to success. www.whitetailinstitute.com


Fred Abbas took this great buck in 1995 that weighed 250 pounds dressed and scored 183 5/8.

Fred Abbas Fred Abbas is arguably the most successful trophy deer hunter in Michigan. He has taken 36 bucks that qualify for the Michigan record books. Most were taken with a bow, but some were taken with a gun. He has also killed scores of trophy bucks in other states as well, but his Michigan bucks are the only ones he’s entered into the books. Michigan has some of the highest deer hunting pressure found in any state. For some perspective, in Michigan there are more than 5,000 bowhunters for every Pope and Young buck entered in the books, ranking Michigan as one of the most challenging places to target trophy bucks. That fact makes Abbas’ accomplishments very remarkable indeed, and I can understand why he holds his Michigan trophies in such high esteem. Abbas, now 66, lives in central Michigan, but hunts primarily in the southern part of the state. He’s retired from a supervisory job at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport and now works with his son, Greg, producing the popular hunting show, “A-Way Outdoors” televised on the Men’s Channel. Fred started hunting late in life in his 20s and has been deer hunting for 45 years. Abbas and his sons own or lease seven different properties in southern Michigan. “Food plots are a major part of our hunting strategy,” explained Abbas. “We like to have at least one ‘magnet’ plot on each of our properties. A magnet plot should be large enough to provide plenty of forage for the deer so it is the final, prime destination for deer; and it should be located www.whitetailinstitute.com

centrally on the property.” Abbas also likes to have several strategically located remote plots that are usually less than 1/2 acre in size. “We try to intercept the deer coming and going from our food plots without crowding the food sources. That way, if we get busted by a buck, they are less likely to abandon the food source and go nocturnal, thus becoming much harder to hunt,” he said. “Imperial Whitetail Clover is our favorite food plot forage choice; however, we have been having some exceptional luck with Alfa-Rack PLUS as well,” he said. “We have been planting some of our ‘magnet plots’ in alternating strips of Alfa-Rack PLUS and Imperial Whitetail Clover. We even mix in strips of corn to add cover to the plots, which make them more attractive to deer during the day. Deer like variety and we provide that for them with our food plots.” Keeping the hunting pressure light is one of Fred’s key hunting strategies. “We typically only hunt each property three or four times a year. Exceptions are sometimes necessary, though, especially if we determine that a particular buck is vulnerable. In that case, we will target a buck until we either harvest him or he changes his patterns and becomes unhuntable,” he said. One of his properties is located right on the Ohio boarder. “The adjacent Ohio property gets pounded extremely hard during Ohio’s gun season,” Abbas said. “Michigan’s gun season occurs earlier than Ohio’s. We stay completely away from that property of ours during Ohio’s gun season. The Ohio deer move onto our land to escape the pressure

and when they find our food plots and a total lack of human intrusion there, they acclimate to the area and stick around. The adult buck population more than doubles during that period. Once the Ohio gun season is over, we carefully move in for the hunt and have been able to harvest many fine bucks using that strategy.” Abbas is particularly noted for his ability to find and successfully hunt specific trophy bucks. He often goes to great lengths to pattern and eventually bag individual bucks. That was the case in 1995 when he spotted from afar the buck of a lifetime and dedicated himself to taking that animal. “That buck was a rare mature whitetail in that he was fairly active during the day, however, he was difficult to pattern, as his movements on our property were erratic,” Abbas said. “His main bedding area was off our property, and he would come onto our land once every three or four days. I had a heck of a time finding where he entered and exited our property. One day I spotted him from a distance and noticed that his legs were muddy to his ankles. There was only one possible spot where he could have picked up that mud, and when I checked it later that day, sure enough, I discovered where he was coming and going. After surveying the situation, I moved a stand into position, and the next day I spotted him. As he passed 80 yards away, it became clear that he was not going to come any closer without some coaxing. During a previous encounter with the buck, I noticed some fresh puncture wounds on him. His behavior was not very aggressive either; so even though he was very large, he was probably not the dominant buck in the area. With that in mind, I laid off the ratting horns because I was afraid it might spook him. Instead, I pressed my grunt call into action. After a series of subtle contact calls, he worked his way into range, and I was able to cleanly harvest him with my bow. That buck weighed 250 pounds dressed and scored 183 5/8, becoming the new county record.” Abbas is primarily a bowhunter. He attributes a lot of his success to remaining as scent-free as possible. Besides aggressive hygiene, Fred uses Scent-Lock clothing from head to toe. Although preferring bowhunting, Abbas also takes to the whitetail woods with a gun at times. He has a huge collection of mounted trophies on public display at the A-Way Outdoors headquarters. To find out more information about Fred Abbas, “A-Way Outdoors” television program or any of their products, visit www.awayhunting.com or phone 989-435-3879.

Joe Hankins For someone who has been deer hunting seriously for only 13 years, 39-year-old Joe Hankins has certainly been busy tagging a bunch of big whitetails. During that period, he’s hung 25 deer heads from the walls of his home. They range in scores from 125 to 181. Two of his trophies are Booners and a bunch surpasses 160 inches. He is a home builder by trade, but deer and turkey hunting are his real passions. The hunt that resulted in his second largest buck, a 176-inch whopper, was a real heart-stopper. Hankins was hunting a new spot in late October when the huge whitetail came to within 10 yards of his stand. Unfortunately, the instant he came to full draw, the buck stepped forward where some brush blocked his shot. He held at full draw for several minutes but eventually had to let the bow down. Of course, as soon as he did that, the buck finally stepped clear, and Hankins was too spent to draw his bow again. The buck proceeded to work a couple scrapes right below his stand as Hankins kept trying to pull the string back. After 10 minutes of this nightmare, he finally managed to yank it past the peak weight into the valley, took aim and at 15 yards, sent an arrow through the vitals. Hankins lives near Martinsville, Ind. He’s killed a numVol. 16, No. 2 /

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ber of good bucks in his home state of Indiana, but a lot of his trophies were taken in Illinois, a state famous for its monster whitetails. “I've been hunting in Illinois since 1995 and have tagged at least one good buck there every year,” he said. Hankins started out hunting in Illinois with an outfitter, and then he started leasing property. Desiring more prime lands to hunt on, Hankins eventually formed a hunting club where he pools the money from many hunters to secure more and larger lease lands. It takes a ton of time and effort to line up those leases and also scout and organize the club’s hunting activities. Judging by the degree of his hunting success though, it may very well be worth it. “I travel to Illinois at least every other week during the off season,” Hankins said. “During the fall hunting season, I spend every day possible hunting our leases. Some of our properties are leased by the week, which means that I have to scout these areas very quickly, hang stands and then hunt the spots, all the while trying not to spook any deer. This ‘power scouting’ technique relies heavily on the use of aerial photos and topographic maps so scouting sessions and hunting effort can be maximized. “The hard work never seems to end,” Hankins continued. “We typically hang a dozen or more stands on each property we lease, so by the end of the season, I’ve climbed more trees than a squirrel. That’s more than 100 stands every year. When I’m not hunting in Illinois, I’m home in Indiana, where I also like to deer hunt as much as possible. By the end of the season, I’m exhausted from the intense pace of my hunting lifestyle.” Even though Hankins hunts on some awesome trophy-whitetail properties, those big bucks are certainly not stupid. “If you want to consistently harvest trophy-class bucks anywhere, then you need to remain as scent-free as possible,” he explained. “I like to shower using scent-eliminating soap before every hunt. All of my hunting clothes are washed in scent-free detergent designed for hunters. When not worn, these clothes are hung outside in the open air

This 181-inch monster was taken by Joe Hankins bowhunting in Illinois during 2004.

where they won't pick up foreign odors. I also spray odor eliminator on myself before each hunt.” Hankins also relies heavily on food plots for success.

Joe Hankins has taken many bucks that have scored more than 160. This buck scored 176.

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Most of his leases have ample agricultural crops of corn and soybeans. He will seed annuals right over corn and soybeans during the late summer to keep deer on his properties after those crops are harvested. Hankins also has Imperial Whitetail Clover food plots in strategic spots along the edges of certain large crop fields. The deer are drawn to the Imperial first as they enter fields, and that is where he sets up his treestands. In 2004, I was fortunate to have been able to hunt one of Hankins’ setups as a guest on his Indiana lease. On the last day of my hunt, I intercepted a big 8-pointer as he headed for a large Whitetail Clover plot that flanked a picked cornfield. Hankins doesn’t use any commercial deer lures. He instead believes in low-impact hunting to keep the element of surprise on his side. For much of the deer season, he doesn’t much rely on calling, except during the prime rut period when the calls work best. “If you call and rattle during non-prime periods, it tends to educate the deer, making the techniques less effective when they have the best chance for success,” he explained. Hankins likes to hunt very high. I’ve hunted from a few of his stands, and one of them, at 50-feet high, ranks as the highest stand I’ve ever climbed aboard. He rarely hunts below 30 feet and uses mostly hang-on style stands. A high-tech bowhunter by choice, Hankins tries to stay on the leading edge with his equipment choices. He currently shoots a Mathews bow and can consistently shoot softball-sized groups at 50-yards. Both Hankins and Abbas keep themselves in top physical condition year-round. When you hunt as hard as these guys do, keeping yourself in shape is critical to success. Both also pass up dozens of sub-trophy bucks every year, which is perhaps the single most important reason why they shoot big bucks so consistently. You can’t kill the big ones if you settle on little bucks. W

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DOUBLE BULL AD

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Customers do the talking about (Continued from page 21)

Jerry Dennis — Oklahoma I have had a three acre field of Imperial Whitetail Clover for about four years now and it is still going strong. Does, fawns and turkeys use the field constantly. I see and hunt the bucks on ridges above the field. My son Robert shot a 14 point, 146 inch deer near this field, and my wife has shot two bucks here. Robert’s picture is included. He had a broken ankle at the time (basketball).

a nice 7 point and passing on several other bucks. In early April this year we decided to plant some Whitetail clover in with the Alfa-Rack and as you can see from the pictures we have witnessed great results from this combination. Attached are two pictures, one of the clearing process and the other of my son and I standing ankle deep in the lush Whitetail Clover and Alfa-Rack just prior to our first cutting of the plot on June 30th. All this in less than a year. We are all just amazed at the results. PS: Thank you for the hard copy of your Whitetail Institute Magazine. I read this cover to cover even before looking at my many hunting magazines that I receive. Keep up the good work. Also we have set up a digital camera near the food plot and the many deer that we have photographed can be seen in the evening though the night and in the early morning. They stay in the area around the plot a lot. Our theory worked. This fall we will be clearing another plot on the property.

Rudolph Gonzales — Texas This picture speaks for itself. This food plot of Extreme is located in Trans-Pecos region of Texas. We took two bucks, a 6 point and a 10 point this year.

Terry Werley — Pennsylvania Last year my son and I returned from a one year tour in Afghanistan with the PA Army National Guard. Our entire family are avid deer hunters and my son and I spent many hours thinking of the hunting that we were missing and how we could improve the deer hunting on our 55 acres of land in Southeast PA. We decided that upon our return from Afghanistan we would clear some woodland and plant a

Clover. I saw the moose several times in the evening. During the last hunting season my 15-year-old son, Jonathan, received one of a very few lottery moose hunting licenses for our zone in Central Vermont. After school on the third day of the five day hunt he bagged a very nice bull moose. The excitement amongst his family and friends after his first successful hunt will never be forgotten. On two occasions after the season ended I called a second bull moose out into our Imperial Whitetail Clover patch. Another twist to our story involved a discussion between Ken Eastman and our local Vermont wildlife biologist. The biologist was of the opinion that moose did not eat clover. Our story and photographs convinced him that they do indeed like the Imperial Whitetail Clover.

Ron Loomis — Vermont Whitetail Clover really works. I didn’t think it was growing because it didn’t look like it was coming up but when I looked closer I saw it was being eaten closely to the

Robert Symm — Texas

food plot on our property hoping to hold the deer instead of witnessing the deer's daily ritual of leaving our property for the neighbors’ fields every evening. After several calls to your customer service desk and talking with your knowledgeable staff we decided to plant Alfa-Rack on the recently cleared property. Prior to clearing the property soil tests were taken and found that it required a great deal of lime to get the soil to the proper PH level. Even with the late planting to our amazement the food plot of Alfa-Rack grew very nicely and we hunted from the plot that fall harvesting

Before using No-Plow I mainly had oats or wheat plots for deer. I saw numerous does and a few bucks. Now I have seen an increase in the number of bucks and an increase in body and antler size. There also has been an increase in the daytime activity around food plots where Whitetail Institute have products been used.

Robert Grace — Vermont Ken Eastman of Wildlife Habitat Consultants in East Hardwick, Vermont, has been a tremendous resource during my recent planting to improve wildlife habitat. We have successfully experimented with most of your products and have been extremely happy with Imperial Whitetail Clover. Enclosed is a picture on my half acre plot of Whitetail 60

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ground. Enclosed is a picture of a 10-pointer I took going to the food plot. It was the biggest deer we have ever taken on our property.

Johnnie Walter — West Virginia This is a picture of a deer my son shot with his bow this past November. It is the largest deer we have ever taken on my father’s farm in eastern West Virginia. It was an 11 point that gross scored 130 and was killed while chasing does that were coming to feed on the Imperial Whitetail Clover. He was seen a couple of times eating the clover prior to my son harvesting him. My son Josh is 18 years old and this is the first nice deer he has ever harvested. He is currently in www.whitetailinstitute.com


Institute products… years now. I have seen healthier and larger bucks every year with your products and Q.D.M. This past year opening day of gun season I passed up 10 different bucks. Your products work twice as good as co-op bought clover or alfalfa. Thanks.

Eddie Crow — Arkansas The deer have been attracted like magnets to the Extreme. Thursday evening before our gun season opened in Arkansas I spotted this buck in my food plot grazing on Extreme. I watched this buck from the porch of my cabin, 200 yards, for about 30 minutes until darkness set in. We

is Danny Payne from Tennessee. I have attached pictures of a deer Danny killed on my farm outside of Memphis in Arlington, Tennessee. The deer was shot during the tail end of our second rut. The buck was with a doe and was killed over an Imperial Clover food plot we planted back in 2001. The deer scored 159 1/8 gross and 157 net by state officials. It weighed 230 lbs. on the hoof and was aged at 5 1/2 years old. The story gets better. After Danny shot he noticed an even larger buck across the field headed toward the clover. Danny guessed the second to score about 180 or so. I have been hunting this property since I was a kid, and the largest deer killed prior to us planting Imperial Clover scored 135. That is quite an improvement on our deer and I owe it to 2 things — our deer management program and your quality product. There is no doubt in my mind that without the year long protein source they have now, we would not be seeing the same caliber deer. Imperial Whitetail Clover works and I challenge anyone to find a better nutrition source for your wildlife. It simply can not be done. I thank the whole Scott family and the Whitetail Institute staff for their effort in improving the outdoor way of life.

Joe Szabo — New Jersey Planted Extreme and what a difference. It took off right away. In early November it was 10-12 inches high. The deer love it. This year I’ve seen more quality bucks than ever

college majoring in Wildlife Management and this interest was brought on by planting food plots and watching the wildlife that comes to them. We planted a competitor’s brand of clover at the same time as planting the Imperial Whitetail but the deer seem to all migrate to the Imperial brand. Thanks for a great product.

Sam Mancari — Virginia Imperial Whitetail Clover is an excellent product, our hunt club members argue over who is going to hunt over

hunted the food plot and adjacent wooded area Saturday AM and PM and Sunday AM without seeing any bucks. We decided to hunt mid-day Sunday and the pay off for my brother-in-law, Gerry Busken was great. He shot this 9 point at 1:30 chasing a doe approximately 300 yards from the food plot. The mass is great and inside spread is 18 inches. He has not yet had the buck scored but for our area it was a beast. You cannot sit on the porch a day without seeing several deer. During bow season I saw a small 8 and a few spikes and numerous does. During the Thanksgiving hunt my 9 year old son shot his first deer, a 4 point, from the porch at 210 yards with a .223. This buck was grazing in the food plot and had been for 20 minutes before we got our act together to shoot.

Mark Self — Tennessee I am writing you on behalf of a friend of mine. His name

these plots. Our hunt club also plants approximately 6-8 acres of No-Plow every fall and the deer can’t stay out of it. Great stuff too.

before! I took a 160 class 9 point (see photo) in Iowa coming off an Imperial Clover plot. W

Steve Jost — Wisconsin I have planted your Alfa-Rack and Imperial Clover for 6

Send Us Your Photos! Do you have a photo and/or story of a big buck, or a small buck or 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

www.whitetailinstitute.com

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OHIO

Vet Makes Scientific Product Choices By Mike Dyer

No-Plow is great annual food plot product for poor soil, low-light areas and for excellent attraction during hunting season.

PRODUCT POINTERS

IMPERIAL NO-PLOW • Up to 36% protein • Annual • Plant 1/4 inch or less depth • Plant 18-25 pounds per acre • Fast growing • Perfect for logging roads and clearcuts, etc. • Minimal tillage equipment required No-Plow contains a mixture of plants that mature and attract deer from early fall through late winter.

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his story is not necessarily about me, but it allows me to give you some background about my farm and its management. I am a veterinarian here in the Tri-State area of Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. I received my Masters Degree in Animal Science from the Ohio State University with emphasis on reproductive physiology and ruminant nutrition. I have always been a wildlife enthusiast, conservationist and hunter, but now with added science and knowledge, I’m enjoying whitetail management on my own 217-acre farm. In 1997 I purchased one of the few remaining dairy farms that went out of business in our county. Heavy grazing and farm management had depleted deer browse, but the cropland did give deer some nutrition. I knew very little about whitetail management until I went on a hunting trip to Alabama where I was introduced to a management system of food plots. I also learned the importance of managing doe populations, which was easy here in Ohio because of the doe gun-season regulations. I discovered that buck-todoe ratio management coupled with a quality and quantity nutrition program was a powerful combination. Add to this the genetics of southern Ohio deer and allowing young bucks to reach their potential and we had to have a successful formula. We started using Whitetail Institute products in 1999, and my first experience was with a plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover. The deer ate it so fast I had to rethink the size and number of my food plots. I learned the concept of utilizing two types of plots—some for bulk nutrition and other smaller plots to attract and funnel deer for hunting opportunities. This was especially important when youngsters were involved. We developed shooting hutches, and one in particular was a 4- by 8-foot box, 20 feet in the air on a ridge top that was once an apple orchard. Instead of clearing the entire ridge as a food plot, we cut 20- to 40-foot-wide shooting lanes from the corners—front, back and sides of the hutch— in a 360-degree wagon wheel fashion. We planted a variety of forages in these lanes, including Imperial Clover, No-Plow, Alfa-Rack and Extreme. The areas that remained were rich in honey-

Tony Oakley – Alabama Over the past several years, I have changed hunting lands quite a lot, due to landowner changes and prices in leases. However, everywhere I’ve hunted I’ve tried to plant No-Plow, and it always draws deer, and draws them quickly. It is the best early season plot I know of. Robert Spencer – Michigan I bought 60 acres two years ago and saw eight bucks with the largest scoring about 100. After using No-Plow the next spring, I counted 13 different bucks, numerous does and fawns and turkeys. At least four of the bucks I’d consider good shooters. Shane Skinner – Ohio The first year I planted No-Plow I took a buck with my bow that grossed just over 152 and netted 146-3/8 typical. I found his sheds from the year before and they grossed around 110 to 115. That’s 40 inches of growth in one year! Robert Breeden – Tennessee Our best luck has been with No-Plow on small plots in the woods. It grew well and is devoured by deer. John Riley – Texas Since using Imperial No-Plow I have seen bigger antlered bucks, and heavier bodied deer.

www.whitetailinstitute.com


We started using Whitetail Institute products in 1999, and my first experience was with a plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover. The deer ate it so fast I had to rethink the size and number of my food plots. suckle, crabapple and multiple other species of brush and browse. Tall trees were removed to allow sunlight to reach the browse and the plots. The mature bucks that were reluctant to step out into a large plot in daylight hours felt more at ease in these narrow shooting plots. In general all the deer would bypass a corn feeder and preferred to graze these areas. That made great shooting opportunities for our young hunters. It allowed them time to observe deer behavior, pick the right deer, scan the heads for buttons and make clean shots. The shooting box also allowed the kids to move because they have to move but also shielded sounds and scent. Plenty of snacks, hand and feet warmers, grunt tubes, binoculars, bleat cans, rattling antlers and hand-held video games have all been a part of the hunt. My motto is, “Keep them warm, dry, fed and busy.” On the rare occasion that we didn’t see deer, and the kids got bored, we quit. We never forced a kid to sit

miserably in a stand for a sport that is supposed to be fun. Forcing them to sit is the best way to get a kid to grow up hating hunting. When it stops being fun, we stop doing it. This past Ohio youth hunt was just one of our many success stories. Not only did all five kids get deer, one 8pointer was Bradley Endicott’s first deer ever and what a trophy. I heard yahoos and screams of jubilation from Brad and his dad from a half-mile away. Bradley’s dad was quick to point out, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime buck for many people, and many hunting shows on television harvest bucks of lesser quality. Bradley could hardly speak over his excitement. It was surreal. He kept reciting the event and couldn’t believe that the buck was actually his.” Thanks to Whitetail Institute and quality deer management we have seen an increase in buck numbers, rack size and hunting opportunities for our youngsters. I chose Whitetail Institute products because veterinarian sales and pharmaceutical representatives hound me frequently, and I have to choose the best product for

This past Ohio youth hunt was just one of our many success stories. Not only did all five kids get deer, one 8-pointer was Bradley Endicott’s first deer ever and what a trophy.

The mature bucks that were reluctant to step out into a large plot in daylight hours felt more at ease in these narrow shooting plots. In general all the deer would bypass a corn feeder and preferred to graze these areas. That made great shooting opportunities for our young hunters. my animal patients. I have learned to look at the scientific research behind the product, the length of time it has been in use on the market and its successes and failures, including side effects, before making a choice. This selection process was the same filter I used in choosing Whitetail Institute products. I read every publication, magazine article and watched every television program or video I could to learn about the products before purchasing. I also learned to pay close attention to the instructions on how and when to plant. These, plus soil testing, lime and fertilizer instructions, are critical to any food plot success. W

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

for Imperial Whitetail® Clover, Chicory Plus™, Alfa-Rack™, Alfa-Rack Plus™, Extreme™, Secret Spot™ and No-Plow™

Call for planting dates Do not plant in fall Aug 1 - Sept 1 Coastal: Sept 1 - Oct 15 Piedmont: Aug 15 - Oct 1 Mountain Valleys: Aug 1 - Sept 15 Aug 10 - Sept 30 Sept 1 - Nov 1 North: Aug 1 - Sept 15 South: Aug 15 - Oct 15 North: July 15 - Aug 20 South: July 20 - Aug 25 Aug 1 - Aug 31 Aug 1 - Sept 15 Sept 15 - Nov 15

www.whitetailinstitute.com

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

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Track the Estrus Does…

And Find the Bucks By By John John J. J. Ozoga Ozoga

I

f you hunt whitetails during their breeding season, as most of us do, but don’t understand the breedable doe’s behavior, you could be in trouble. Like it or not, the buck you hunt is at the mercy of the estrous doe. Or is he?

THE ENERGY BALANCE Wildlife managers are also concerned about deer activity, especially during the breeding season, but for different reasons. There is a definite relationship between the amount of energy taken in (food) versus the amount spent (activity) and deer welfare. A nega-

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tive energy balance during autumn, for whatever reason, can adversely impact deer physical condition, interfere with reproduction and even lower deer survival rates during the critical winter months. The rut is characterized by greatly increased activity, among all deer, but especially so on the part of bucks. Therefore, the rut is energetically demanding, and sometimes greatly increased buck activity can be linked to higher than normal buck mortality during the winter season. There is also mounting evidence that a negative energy balance during autumn can adversely impact the doe’s physical condition and her breeding success. This means that “social stress” can have the same deleterious effects as “nutritional stress.” Increased social (behavioral) stress can result in elevated activity levels, increased foraging, damage to the environment, depressed physical condition, delayed breeding, lower conception rates and ultimately lead to poor quality (or possibly no) progeny. These so-called “sociobiological” relationships have

not been thoroughly studied. However, given their potential importance, the need to better understand such seemingly subtle things as activity rhythms of the estrous doe takes on a high level of importance. THE SCIENCE OF DOE ACTIVITY Since I researched activity patterns of estrous whitetails nearly 30 years ago, I found a more recent article in the Journal of Mammalogy by Rick Relyea and Stephen Demarais, titled “Activity of Desert Mule Deer During the Breeding Season,” rather interesting. I was somewhat dismayed, however, to learn that, after an extensive literature search, the mule deer researchers could only find two studies (including one of my own) that quantified deer behavioral changes during the breeding season. Obviously, this subject has not been thoroughly investigated and is deserving of further study.

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Plotting out-of-season buck movements, monitoring weather conditions, determining deer food sources, calculating moon phases and so on may be important and can contribute to success. No doubt there are a host of factors that sometimes make a particular buck’s travel patterns predictable. But, all too often, the estrous doe is the most potent force determining a buck’s whereabouts, behavior and vulnerability. All your careful plotting and meticulous strategy are likely to go right down the tube, should the estrous doe unexpectedly appear in the wrong place at the right time.


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Using motion-sensitive radio collars, Relyea and Demarais found that activity for both mule deer bucks and does increased from prerut to postrut. They also observed that bucks were most active around sunrise and sunset (crepuscular) during prerut and postrut, but that female mule deer shifted their normal daily rhythm from being most active during twilight hours during prerut to constant during peak rut, followed by low levels of crepuscular activity during postrut. Relyea and Demarais speculated that changes in daily activity patterns of females could be due to harassment of females by males. In their words, “Assuming our radio-colAdvertorial #3_0306 4/6/06 9:41 PM Page 1 lared females were bred during peak rut and a male could not differentiate a bred female from an unbred female until

he approached her closely, pregnant females could reduce interactions with males by becoming less active during times of greatest activity of males and more active during times of lowest activity of males.” Since the behavior of mule deer differs quite markedly from that of whitetails during the breeding season, certain species differences in activity patterns during the rut are expected. For one thing, male whitetails also move outside of their normal home range but only during peak rut – not normally throughout the prerut to postrut period, as in the case of mule deer. Most studies show that female whitetails move shorter distances per day and concentrate their activities on a smaller portion of their range during the rut. During peak

THE HEATER BODY SUIT

By Steve Bartylla

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arely do hunting products come along that radically alter how I approach hunting. Over all the years, I can point to few products that have taken my game to a new level. First there was the emergence of strap-on treestands. Next came compound bows. After that, Scent-Lok and Scent Killer emerged. Finally, Double Bull Archery opened my eyes to hunting from the ground. Each one of these products has made me a more effective hunter. The latest product to accomplish this is the Heater Body Suit. On the surface, one may question how a hunting bag, specifically designed to keep hunters warm in the most brutally cold conditions, can be the target of such a bold statement. Those that follow my work realize I rarely make statements like that and never do without solid reasons.

Obviously, with an unconditional “You stay warm or your money back” guarantee, the Heater Body Suit does keep hunters warm. Also, with the crisscross strap system that keeps the suit up during the shot, along with the ultra quiet fabric and a zipper system designed for easy, quiet use, the Heater Body Suit meets the requirements of serious hunters. However, none of that is near enough for me to qualify it as a revolutionary product. What takes it to that next step is what it enables me to do on those days from the mid 30°’s F. to -20°’s F. It simply allows me to dress nearly the same from the season’s opener to its close. Previously, I had to either accept sweating on the way into the stand and the odor that goes with it or deal with adding and removing layers as my activity levels or temperatures changed. Now, none of that is a concern. Whenever it’s in the 30 ’s F. or lower, I simply dress to the level that I’ll be slightly chilled when I arrive at stand, slip into the suit and adjust the zipper up and down to regulate an ideal heat level. More often than not, I’m even able to remain unzipped enough to allow me to hold my bow and be ready for action. I can now have all of this, without sweating, extra movement, and odors caused by changing layers! The crowning jewel is that I no longer must practice and adjust my sight with each new bulky layer added. Whether it’s a bow or a firearm, adding bulk changes shooting form. The more bulk the more the form is altered. If adjustments aren’t made to the sight or scope, accuracy will be compromised. Since I now always wear minimal layers, my shots are always as natural as they were on opening day! When all of that is added up, one can see why I feel safe in saying that the Heater Body Suit is one of those elite products that have taken my game to a new level.

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rut, females become more active but tend to crisscross in a smaller area. The advantage of this behavior is that the doe’s urinary signals are concentrated during the breeding period, thereby enhancing doe-to-buck communication during the doe’s relatively short receptive period. This means that whitetails are most active during peak rut because males are traveling outside their home range searching for females, and females are walking intensively in a small area to attract males. Such behavior then ceases after the breeding period, and activity patterns return to prerut levels. THE RESTLESS DOE While monitoring activity patterns of penned whitetails in the early l970s (using an elaborate array of wiring, microswitches and event recorders), I accidentally discovered that does became very restless (especially at night) and began pacing in their pen shortly before they mated. This observation led to a more intensive investigation of doe activity patterns during estrus that I later published in the Journal of Wildlife Management. Ultimately, I learned to predict a doe’s estrus period based upon a sudden rise in her activity. This proved valuable in other reproductive studies and during some rather sophisticated studies of blood hormone changes around the doe’s estrus period. My studies with penned does revealed that a doe will accept a male only during a 24- to 36-hour period at peak estrus. However, in the absence of a tending buck, I observed that the doe became about 28 times more active than normal one to two nights before estrus. This restlessness is coincident with increased ovarian production of estrogen – the female hormone that precipitates a doe’s mating urge. In fact, I calculated that one doe walked more than 20 miles the night before she mated. Based upon these findings, I theorized that such an increase in travel on a doe’s part would be adaptive in that the estrous doe would then more likely find a mate if one were not already close by. TESTING THE THEORY Stefan Holzenbein and Georg Schwede tested this theory by monitoring the activities of eight radio-collared does at the National Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center at Front Royal, Va. Instead of wandering extensively, seven of the does they tracked restricted their movements to core areas of their home range around the time of estrus. Apparently, bucks were readily available and quick to locate the does as they came into estrus. As a result, there was no need for these does to wander great distances, as all seven does were presumably bred within core areas of their normal range. It’s interesting to note, however, that one doe suddenly started wandering and left her home range shortly before her estrus, probably because she had not been located by a potential mate in a timely fashion. Holzenbein and Schwede concluded that female whitetails usually make their location predictable by restricting their movements before they become receptive, making it relatively easy for the buck to find them. Also, such a concentration of doe activity likely accounts for a buck’s tendency to cluster his scrapes in certain locations where he might attract the greatest attention from prospective mates. However, if a doe attains estrus without being found by a buck, she then might wander extensively and search for a mate. SYNCHRONOUS MATING

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Some researchers suggest that estrus among all but the youngest of related reproducing does should be synchronous, because estrus can be induced by male-produced pheromones. If so, then it’s also conceivable that females actually compete for the attention of choice mates.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

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My studies with penned does revealed that a doe will accept a male only during a 24- to 36-hour period at peak estrus. However, in the absence of a tending buck, I observed that the doe became about 28 times more active than normal one to two nights before estrus. Subordination tends to have a strong suppressor effect on a doe’s reproductive performance. Older, maternally experienced does within a clan are most dominant. They also control the most favorable habitat, maintain the best physical condition and usually breed first. Therefore, if a dominant doe and a subordinate one come into estrus at the same time, the dominant doe might displace the subordinate and copulate first. If this is the case, subordinate does are more likely to delay mating, more readily mate with a subordinate (younger) buck and are more inclined to be the ones searching for mates. MATE SELECTION There is some experimental evidence that does are indeed “mate selective,” thereby responding more positively to one particular suitor than another. In our Cusino enclosure studies, for example, we found that does were more receptive to bucks of approximately the same age. That is, mature does preferred to be courted by mature, rut-experienced bucks, whereas yearling does seemed to be intimidated by the real monarchs. Hence, a good deal of testing and chasing of females by males during the rut is likely in most herds. As Larry Marchinton and Karl Miller noted, “The whole process of chasing and courtship is a very visible one that exposes participants to risk from predators, both human and otherwise. This is the only time of the year when … deer, particu-

larly bucks, forsake cover and put themselves into vulnerable positions.” Larry and Karl emphasize that such seemingly neurotic behavior has strong selective values. They suggested, “It allows the doe to be bred by the most physically superior buck in the area. She dashes around – in anthropomorphic terms, making quite a spectacle of herself – so that the local bucks become aware of her impending receptivity and join her entourage, at least until they are displaced by the largest buck. This competition among suitors usually assures that her offspring will be sired by the best buck she can find.” On the other hand, if adult females of a clan regroup during the breeding period, several females might come into estrus in the same general area within relatively few days. If several socially regrouped females come into estrus only a day or two apart, a dominant buck might remain with the clan for a few days and breed several does within fairly rapid succession. In such cases, your potential trophy may be pretty well anchored in some distant location for a period of days, leaving you to ponder the reasons for his sudden deviation from an otherwise predictable daily routine. REGIONAL DIFFERENCES Keep in mind that many factors can account for differences in the estrous doe’s behavior from one area to the next, which may have a strong bearing upon buck behavior and your hunting success. The timing, length and intensity

of the whitetail’s breeding season, as well as the estrous doe’s behavior, may differ quite sharply from north to south in particular. Important factors such as herd density and sex-age composition, which are often determined by the timing and intensity of buck harvesting, will greatly influence the stability and predictability of deer behavior during the rut in your area. In the north, the rut tends to be short but very intense, where we also see distinct regrouping of related females during prerut, especially in moderate to high-density deer populations. Hunting seasons also tend to be held later on northern range, usually during peak rut. In contrast, many southern states have early deer hunting seasons, sometimes resulting in a very high buck harvest prior to peak rut. In some cases, buck harvesting may be so extreme that a buck shortage develops during the peak breeding period, which can produce some rather erratic behavior on the part of estrous does searching for mates. CONCLUSIONS One thing that has always greatly impressed me with whitetails is their high degree of social order and elaborate communication employed during the rut, especially in the presence of mature bucks. On the other hand, some rather chaotic rut behavior prevails when intensive buck harvesting leaves only yearling bucks to fulfill the role of herd sires. For example, you’ll find that the “seek-and-chase” style courtship of yearling bucks differs greatly from the more ritualized soliciting of attention demonstrated by rut-experienced mature bucks. So, if you hunt a socially unbalanced whitetail herd – where mature sires are absent or in short supply – you can expect the local does to exhibit some rather peculiar behavior during that brief period when they are in rut. W

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30-06 and 30-06 Plus Protein contain our exclusive scent and flavor enhancers which mean deer find, and frequent, the ground sites you create by mixing these products into the soil. You can be assured 30-06 was created with deer, not cattle, in mind.

30-06 and 30-06 Plus Protein contain all the essential macro and trace minerals along with vitamins A, D, and E necessary for a quality deer herd and maximum antler growth.

Because of the 30-06 products incredible attractiveness, some states may consider it bait. Remember to check your local game laws before hunting over the 30-06 site.

Research = Results. The Whitetail Institute

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/

2 3 9 W h i t e t a i l Tr a i l

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Pintlala, Alabama 36043 / 8 0 0 - 6 8 8 - 3 0 3 0 / w w w. w h i t e t a i l i n s t i t u t e . c o m

Vol. 16, No. 2 /

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ILLINOIS

QDM Produces Trophy Bucks By Aaron Zobrist

I

t has been four years now since my friend Justin Hillman bought his farm in Fulton County, Ill. From the start, we decided to manage this property for deer. While scouting that first spring, we found a shed that was enormous. We think it belonged to the same deer he killed (a monster 10-point that grossed 193 inches) that fall. Right away we knew the genes of the deer herd were what we were looking for. And we decided we had to give these deer the highest protein sources available. The first step we took was to add a food plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover. In one year, the 1 1/2-year-old bucks were healthier and their racks were making noticeable improvements. That previous year we noticed a bunch of young deer with spikes and poor development. The protein and nutrition from the Whitetail Institute’s products have dramatically improved the overall health of the deer.

Over the past four years we have planted Imperial Clover, Alfa-Rack and Chicory Plus, which they love. The terrain is basically made up of hilly timber ground with a nice creek bottom that runs through the middle of the farm. In 2004 CRP fields were planted in the top field that has high erosion potential. It seems we change the deer’s’ patterns every year from all of the improvements we make with food plots, CRP and timber stand improvements. This year we will be working on our CRP fields. There are about 20 acres of mixed perennials and grain food plots planted on about 400 acres. We do have trail cameras out throughout the year to try and monitor the population and see the possibilities for the upcoming year. Justin and I had planned to take a week’s vacation to hunt this year. So on Nov. 3, I took off work early to get in a stand that evening. I hunted a spot off the orig-

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inal Imperial Clover strip in between two pieces of timber. That night I had seen plenty of buck activity checking does. One of the bucks, a nice 3 1/2-year-old we had a picture of, came charging into the field after some does. When he burst onto the field, the does scattered. That gave me my first major rush of the year. We decided we’d pass on this deer because of his future potential. About 10 minutes later he reappeared and walked directly under my stand, making my trigger finger very jumpy. I almost talked myself into harvesting that 140-inch, 10-point buck. That was really hard to do, but to hang out with Justin, you have to pass on those deer. That night I met Justin as he arrived at the farm for the next full week’s hunt. On the morning of Nov. 5, we chose the stands we were going to hunt and agreed to call one another on the progression of the morning. It was about 8:15 a.m., and after seeing only a few does and one young buck, I decided to call Justin on his cell phone to see what he was seeing. As he was telling me he had seen about 15 deer and the same 10-point I passed the night before, I told him I was going to sit until 9 a.m. because I thought I saw a flash of a deer in the timber below about 15 minutes before. I continued to talk for a few seconds when on my left side a monster buck came up over a hill 20 yards from me. I quietly said, ‘Monster,’ and hung up the phone. The deer came from a surprising direction and got through my shooting lane very quickly. It was evident he had been chasing that morning because his mouth was hanging open. I grabbed my bow off the hanger as fast as I could, but he was already 40 yards away. Then I grabbed my grunt call to stop him from his trot. He stopped on the first grunt and looked my way, but proceeded to walk away. I grunted a second time and he stopped. After a brief pause, he started walking again. As he took another step I grunted once more, then he turned, grunted at me, and started walking straight toward my opening. I drew and the arrow fell off my rest. After letting down, putting my arrow back on the rest and drawing the bow again, I made the shot and stopped him at 20 yards. He ran about 60 yards and disappeared into the timber. I immediately called Justin with the news. When we found the deer, we knew it was the 10-point we had on camera. It all happened so fast I just knew he was a shooter. We try and harvest only mature 150-inch-class and larger deer, and he fit the book perfectly. The deer scored 155. Thanks to Justin, I finally stepped foot in a tree stand five years ago, and now I’m addicted for life. I have five Pope and Young bucks harvested now and really have been a QDM “extremist” since. W

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Scott Purdy – Mississippi I love Alfa-Rack Plus. It survived an extreme drought. The deer love it the best! Robert Seiler – North Carolina I planted Alfa-Rack on a farm I hunt in North Carolina. The growth and attraction power of it are awesome. Larry Hanshaw – Virginia Lots of deer activity on my Alfa-Rack, as many as 30 to 40 grazing at a time. Noticeably bigger bodies.

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68

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

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BILL HUNEYCUTT – ALABAMA Santanna Thornton, 17, of Sellers, Alabama had hunted for several years without harvesting a deer. Last December though, her luck changed when she harvested the 6-pointer with the strange rack shown in the attached photo. That afternoon, Santanna had accompanied her boyfriend and my son, Mathew Huneycutt, to a ground stand adjacent to a food plot. Several does appeared after the pair had waited only an hour, and although Santanna wanted to take one of the does, Mathew urged her to wait in the hope that a buck might appear later in the afternoon. The pair did not have too long to wait. At 3:00 the buck entered the food plot 200 yards from the stand, and Santanna took it with Mathew’s .270. Shortly thereafter, Santanna’s mother, Mary Jones, received an excited phone call from her daughter. I think Mathew was even more excited than Santanna. Even though a year has passed since the event, Mary Jones, an employee of The Whitetail Institute, still smiles at the thought of it.

MICHAEL STRICKLAND – ALABAMA My daughter, Anna shot her first deer this past weekend. Main frame 6 pt with two kickers at the base of each brow tine. The deer that Anna shot came out with 3 other bucks. Two which were bigger than anything that I have ever shot and a one horn cow horn. The two big ones never gave her a clean shot so I told her to shoot this one. It was shot on one of our No Plow fields.

SUSIE MARIETTA – KANSAS My love for hunting started early. I was raised in the country and hunted small game, upland birds and varmints with my Dad. The fact that the three oldest kids in our family were all girls did not stop us from hunting, fishing, driving combines and tractors and various other activities often reserved for the male gender in other families. We now live on a small farm in the middle of Kansas with a large pond and a meandering river. Deer and wild turkeys are abun-

Send Us Your Photos! Do you have a photo of a relative or friend who killed his 1st deer? If you do, send it to us with a 3-5 paragraph story about the hunt and the emotions involved with the hunter and mentor. You may find it in an upcoming issue of “Whitetail News.” Readers of the “Whitetail News” love these stories. Send them to:

Whitetail News, Attn: First Deer 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2

The Future Of Our Sport dant. My hunting memories are a special part of me; so getting my kids started hunting means more than just taking time out to get it done. It’s somewhere between a “keen desire” and “instinctual behavior.” That objective has now been met for all of my kids now that Tom, my youngest, was old enough to deer hunt this year. It’s almost a daily activity here; deer hunting, that is. Besides spotting and keeping track of deer activities, I like to help insure that they stick around for the “fun stuff.” Planting trees and shrubs attractive to deer is an ongoing process, as well as maintaining a food plot planted with Imperial Whitetail Clover. As hunting season approaches we spend more and more time watching and patterning the deer. Since this was the first year my son Tom was going to be old enough to hunt, I wanted to do everything I could to insure that he had a successful hunt. In the days before his hunt I spent time watching our clover patch from our platform tree stand where his hunt would take place. Since Tom was in school he wasn’t able to do a lot of the spotting with me. Mostly I saw does and their babies in the clover on a daily basis. This was good, I thought. Where there are does, the bucks will follow. Finally I managed to see an odd young buck in the clover. I knew I would recognize this buck if I ever saw him again. He had a rather small but very upright, narrow rack with main beams that almost touched in the front. Now, with hunter’s education behind Tom, shooting practice completed and his rifle sighted in, all he had to do was wait for the special youth weekend so he could hunt. When that morning arrived we were ready. Tom was curiously calm. He didn’t seem near as excited as my other kids had been on their first hunt. I didn’t think much about it. It was still dark, so we slowly worked our way to the clover with the help of a flashlight. As we reached the last gate before crossing into the clover I heard something. I pointed the flashlight toward the sound. Holy cow! Eyeballs everywhere! The clover field that Tom and I needed to cross in order to reach our stand was filled with deer! With the sound of our approach they all ran to the hedgerow on the north edge of the field. We quietly crossed the field and climbed into the stand. Ah, now I could relax. It’s such a wonderful feeling to be in the woods with the trees and stars overhead and deer all around. It gives me a feeling of peace and serenity I cherish. What a morning! As the sky slowly started to lighten Tom and I could see deer playing in the clover. As the clock ticked on, I was beginning to think I was

going to have to take a break and perhaps continue our hunt later that evening. Oh, well, if he doesn’t get a deer, at least he had already had a great morning with lots of deer activity. I’d give it 30 more minutes. Another deer stepped out to the edge of the field. It was the strange little buck I had spotted the week before. Yes, it was unmistakable. Slowly and quietly I said, “Tom, there’s your buck.” Suddenly the kid who was so non-chalant earlier perked up. “Really! Where?” “Move over here… I think you can see him from here.” “Oh, Mom! My heart’s going ninety-miles and hour!” “Just take your time and make sure you’ve got that crosshair right where you want it then squeeze the trigger.” BANG! As I watched, the buck folded and took off. I could see the deer was hit hard. The thing I couldn’t see was where the heck he went. Two jumps and he was out of sight due to all the trees. By then, Tom was a bundle of adrenaline, wondering about his shot and where the deer went. Tom and I walked to where the deer stood when he shot. Yes, there was a little blood, but not much. We could follow the tracks, but which ones? There were deer tracks going every which way. It was a whitetail dance hall. He must have run back into the woods. We combed through the woods to the south of where we last saw him, but couldn’t find a trace. It was thick woods with briars, tangled vines and loaded with poison ivy. As much as I hated to, I told Tom let’s wait until Mike got home in an hour or so. We made our way back to the house to cool off and rest. After going back and looking for what seemed forever we found Tom’s buck. We breathed a sigh of relief. Tom took hold of the deer’s antlers and looked them over. He was the same upright eight point for sure, with a few small kickers and one side of his main beam somewhat palmated and nearly crossing in the front. Tom gave the buck a few good, confident pats. His smile told me he was a happy boy. What a feeling of satisfaction. And another deer hunter was born.

TOM MANNING – KENTUCKY My son Cody took his first buck this year in Grayson county Kentucky during the 2005 gun season. Several things made this an interesting story. First Cody is ADD and has a hard time sitting still in a deer stand but this year he was able to overcome the urge to fidget by staying focused on what he was there for. Secondly he has only fired a gun 3 times in his entire life and took this deer at 150 yards with a perfect heart / lung shot. He’s a great kid and worked really hard for this deer and is now hooked on deer hunting. Thanks for what you guys do. W www.whitetailinstitute.com


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Whitetail News Vol 16.2  

Whitetail News Volume 16 Issue 2

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