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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
EXPERTS OF SOME
SECRETS Volume 16, No. 2
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
Families Afield: Breaking the Barriers for Kids and Mentors By Tom Fegely A program to introduce youth to hunting
Chicory Plus — for the “Deer Days” of Summer By Jon Cooner
Winter-Greens: The Wait is Over! A Family Affair
By Jon Cooner
Wisconsin father and daughter plant Extreme and see the results
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
Creating a Hunting Hotspot
By Lou Haubner and Tim Hooey, as told to Rick Sapp Learn about a transformed property
Maps and Megabucks By Brad Herndon Studying geography can give a hunter a different perspective
Buck of a Lifetime on Imperial Clover By Kevin Brown Food plot product produces memorable hunting experience
Tricks for Taking Does – Without Hurting Your Buck Hunting By Steve Bartylla Doe harvest is crucial, so what is the best method?
Experts Reveal Their Secrets By Captain Michael Veine How two top deer hunters consistently tag trophy-class whitetails
Vet Makes Scientific Product Choices
Ohio hunter prefers No-Plow
Track the Estrous Does… and Find the Bucks By John Ozoga During the rut, “hunting” for does isn’t a bad idea
QDM Produces Trophy Bucks By Aaron Zobrist Illinois hunters experince benefits of quality food plots
A Message From Ray Scott Passing the hunting tradition on!
Scientifically Speaking By Wiley C. Johnson, PhD Tips for long-lasting perennial plots.
Deer Nutrition Notes
Ask Big Jon By Jon Cooner Real questions from real customers
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
Vol. 16, No. 2 /
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
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.
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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2
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
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 /
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
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
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
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 canâ€™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 canâ€™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 â€œVâ€? 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 canâ€™t be sure. For the purpose of this story, letâ€™s say the guyâ€™s name was
Frank. Following is the dialogue that ensued. Frank: â€œI got a #%$@!#& problem with you and that #%$@!#& product you sell.â€? OK, now I knew he wasnâ€™t just coming up to try and talk me out of a hat. Me: â€œSir, what seems to be the problem?â€? Frank: â€œI will tell you what the problem is. (He was cooperating so far.) I planted your $#!% and nothing came up.â€? Me: In a polite tone, â€œSir, did you follow all the instructions of the back of the bag?â€? Frank: â€œHell yes I did. I read every #%$@!#& word of it.â€? 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: â€œSir, which one of the products did you plant?â€? Frank: â€œI planted the one in the blue bag.â€? Me: I gave Frank a curious look, â€œSir, we do not have a seed in a blue bag.â€? And at the time, we did not. Frank: â€œYes you do, itâ€™s that #%$@!#& blue bag right there.â€? Me: I followed his projected finger to the product he was pointing at and then turned slowly, â€œSir, that is 30-06, a mineral/vitamin supplement. Is that what you planted?â€? Frank: â€œ#%$@ yes, and not a bit of it grew.â€?
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By this time I was starting to hear a few chuckles rising from the gathered crowd. Me: â€œSir, are you sure you read the back of the bag because you planted a mineral/vitamin supplement.â€? 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, â€œWell, will any of it ever come up?â€? Me: â€œSir, I highly doubt it because what you have is a half-acre mineral lick.â€? 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 someoneâ€™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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Vol. 16, No. 2 /
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?
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.
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?
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
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 â€“ 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.
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
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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P R E DAT O R .
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
WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2
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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Meeting at the Secret Spot
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
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
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 /
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.
By Tom Fegely
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.
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.
U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance — Doug Jeanneret 614-888-4868 firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Shooting Sports Foundation — Steve Wagner 203-426-1320.
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.
Vol. 16, No. 2 /
CHICORY PLUS – for the “Deer Days” of Summer By Jon Cooner
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
WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2
Winter-Greens: THE WAIT IS OVER! By Jon Cooner
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
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
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
Vol. 16, No. 2 /
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-
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
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.
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 /
A Family Affair
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.
WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2
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.”
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.
What should you do? Posting and prosecution are among most effective tools By By Charles Charles Alsheimer Alsheimer
WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2
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
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
Vol. 16, No. 2 /
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-
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
HOW THEY HANDLE IT
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
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.
Vol. 16, No. 2 /
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, doesnâ€™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 â€“ 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
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.
WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 16, No. 2
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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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
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.
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 â€œjump siteâ€? look even better to them. I personally donâ€™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 canâ€™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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