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Whitetail Institute OFFICERS AND STAFF ®

Ray Scott Founder and President Wilson Scott Vice President of Operations Steve Scott Vice President, Executive Editor William Cousins Operations Manager Wayne Hanna, Ph.D. Agronomist & Director of Forage Research Mark Trudeau National Sales Manager Justin Moore, Frank Deese Wildlife Biologists Jon Cooner Director of Special Projects Brandon Self, John White Product Consultants Daryl Cherry, Greg Aston, Javin Thomas Dealer/Distributor Sales Steffani Hood Dealer/Distributor Analyst Dawn McGough Office Manager Mary Jones Internet Customer Service Manager Teri Hudson Internet and Office Assistant Marlin Swain Shipping Manager Bart Landsverk Whitetail News Senior Editor Charles Alsheimer, Tracy Breen, Jim Casada, Matt Harper, Brad Herndon, Bill Winke, R.G. Bernier, Bill Marchel, Michael Veine, Dr. Carroll Johnson, III, Ted Nugent, Dean Weimer, David Hart Contributing Writers Susan Scott Copy Editor George Pudzis Art Director Wade Atchley, Atchley Media Advertising Director

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Vol. 22, No. 1 /



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

The Art of Convenience


onvenience has risen to an art form in modern times. I am constantly amazed at the creativity and technology that saves time and energy for the 21st century. And today’s grocery stores have got to be the ultimate showcase for everyday “quick ‘n easy.” I know that convenience can be a dirty word in some nutrition quarters, so let me qualify my admiration for the kind of convenience that does NOT sacrifice quality. I’m certainly not talking about the chemical-laden “fake food” that some may describe as convenience foods. This topic really hit home when I made a rare store visit to get supplies for a big pot of Ray’s famous chili. The produce section was an eye-opener with all kinds of cleaned and prepped fruits and vegetables ready for use and/or consumption. I know I have benefitted from the freshly chopped onions and peppers that make my favorite pork chop dish so easy for my wife to prep. My wife loves them because she is the first to tell me she is no Martha Stewart. So all this food talk is bringing me to the subject of groceries for whitetail deer, more precisely convenience groceries for whitetails. I’m talking specifically about our best-selling No-Plow of course — the Whitetail Institute product that was introduced just a few years after our ground-breaking Imperial Clover. When it was clear that Imperial Whitetail Clover was going to be a landmark product for hunters and land managers, the requests began to flood in for a


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

nutritious planting for deer that could be broadcast on the ground without the benefit of a lot of soil preparation and equipment. In short, a convenience food plot. Believe me, Ray Scott was at the head of the line to use No-Plow. My wife is no Martha Stewart and I am not Mr. Green Thumb. But I was one of the hunters who embraced the principles of quality deer management and knew that one of the best things I could do as a herd manager was to improve the whitetail diet with food plot plantings. Even if my time and/or resources were limited I still wanted to do the best I could. And No-Plow let me and thousands of field testers around the country do exactly that. Since its inception, No-Plow has been a steady top seller. But you must know by now our professionals at Whitetail Institute headquarters are never content with the status quo. If a product can be improved they’ll do it. And that’s exactly what they’ve done with the new and improved No-Plow. Believe it or not, it’s better than ever! Our staff has the whole story on page 18. I urge you to read it because it’s an inspiring story of our continuing quest for the best and an example of the perfect marriage of convenience and quality for everyone who cares about nutrition for their whitetail. Ray Scott

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By Matt Harper Photos by the Author

A cow’s milk, while rich in nutrients, is far less nutrient dense than a doe’s milk.

For many years, most hunters, farmers and land managers considered deer and cattle relatively equal in terms of their habitat needs, including the food they consumed and the nutrients they required. While the knowledge base has grown to the point where many people recognize there are differences, the two species are still often times lumped together. This is an understandable theory since we often find deer and cattle co-existing in the same areas.

Food plot varieties should be heavily leafed, thin stemmed and high in nutrients, like Imperial Whitetail Clover. This type of forage works best for deer.

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Cattle can do well on forages consisting largely of grass but deer can only efficiently digest grass that is young and vegetative.


have always considered hearing as one of my strongest sensory assets when hunting deer. That my hearing is still good after years of tractor driving, target shooting, loud music and so on is nothing short of a miracle. Nonetheless, I normally can hear deer coming long before I see them. On one particular fall evening a couple years ago, I was hunting along a creek bank that overlooked an 8-acre Imperial Whitetail Clover and Imperial Winter-Greens field when I heard the tell-tale sound of hooves moving through the fallen dried oak leaves. The wind was virtually non-existent that day so I detected the sound far up the creek. In all honesty, I would have been able to hear them coming even if gale force winds were blowing as it sounded like a lost herd of pachyderms were barreling down the trail. My heart rate immediately approached stroke stage as I thought the deer that were going to emerge from the brushy bank had to be giants based on the noise they were making. Well, indeed they were big, probably 1,400 pounds or more. No, they weren’t deer but rather a marauding band of rogue cattle that had busted through multiple fences and had been living in the dense strip of briars, cedars and samplings that rings the southern edge of our farm. This was not the first time I had seen them; I had a few trail camera pictures of them before they broke and stole the camera. I know what you must be thinking, but I swear I saw one of those cows pick up a cardboard box I left near a field gate and take off running with it, so I am sure they stole the camera in like manner. I have heard of hogs going feral quickly but over the course of one summer and fall, these cattle became truly wild even to the point that when they caught my scent, they would bolt back into the snarl of vegetation along the creek. So you may ask, how did the hunt end? Did I shoot them? No…wanted to really bad as they caused incredible damage, but I didn’t shoot them. Like a band of raiding Mongols, they eventually moved on to some other farm to continue their reign of terror. I did have some slight bit of retribution, however. You see, they were eating my food plots. The food plots, like Imperial Whitetail Clover, were designed for deer not cattle. The nutrient levels and 6

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

digestibility of my plots were much higher than what is appropriate for cattle. Thus, they scoured, probably bloated some and for sure experienced some digestive discomfort during their occupation of the Harper Farm.

parts of their choice. A deer’s muzzle is long and narrow and is equipped with a long tongue that is perfectly suited for perusing through a briar patch nipping off selected leaves. NUTRITIONAL NEEDS DIFFERENCES

THE CONFUSION For many years, most hunters, farmers and land managers considered deer and cattle relatively equal in terms of their habitat needs including the food they consumed and the nutrients they required. While the knowledge base has grown to the point where many people recognize there are differences, the two species are still often times lumped together. This is an understandable theory since we often find deer and cattle co-existing in the same areas. Furthermore they are both ruminants and herbivores and do eat some of the same types of forages. Even many of the food plot products you find on the market today are basically forages designed for cattle that have been repackaged in a bag emblazoned with a deer head. Likewise, most mineral products are old cattle formulas that have been given a new name to make them more marketable to deer hunters. The truth, however, is that while there are similarities between cattle and deer, there are vast differences between the two species when it comes to desired forage types, nutrient requirements and habitat management. EATING HABITS Herbivores can be classified based on their eating habits. Cattle fall in the class of grazers which are animals that consume vegetation somewhat non-selectively. Watch cattle out in a pasture and you will see them slowly moving along nipping off practically anything that happens to be under their nose. Like other grazers, cattle have large, wide muzzles that are adapted to this type of forage consumption. Deer are classified as browsers or concentrate selectors which mean they pick and choose specific forages or specific parts of a plant such as the leaf of a plant but not the stem. Deer rarely feed in one place too long but rather continually move from place to place, picking off plants or plant

Both deer and cattle require energy (carbohydrates, fats etc.), protein, minerals and vitamins. All of these must be present in diets of cattle and deer for proper growth, health, maintenance and production. However, the percentage of each in relationship to the overall diet varies between the two species. Take for example the protein requirements of deer versus cattle. The protein requirements for growing cattle vary between 10 percent and 14 percent (+/-) depending on the stage of growth, where growing deer have a protein requirement that ranges from 18 percent to 26 percent again depending on the stage of growth. The protein requirement for bulls ranges from 8 percent to 14 percent, where a buck’s protein requirement during antler growth ranges from 16 percent to 18 percent. Protein requirements for young calves are around 20 percent to 22 percent where a young fawn needs as much as 35 percent protein for optimal growth. The only protein requirement for cattle that rivals the protein needs for deer is peak lactating dairy cattle which require about 18 percent protein. However, does in lactation require a minimum of 18 percent protein and some estimate the need to be closer to 20 percent or more. Mineral requirements for deer are likewise greater as compared to those of cattle. Calcium requirements for growing cattle rarely exceed 44 percent. Even a lactating dairy cow will normally not have more than .60 percent to 75 percent calcium in their diet. Lactating does, bucks growing antlers and young growing deer are estimated to require one percent to 1.5 percent or more calcium in their diet. Phosphorus requirement variances follow the same pattern when comparing cattle and deer. A typical phosphorus level in a cattle diet will range from 22 percent on the low side to up to 4 percent or higher for peak lactating dairy cattle. Deer phosphorus requirements are

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typically 6 percent to nearly one percent depending on the stage of growth and whether or not antler growth or lactation is occurring. Trace mineral requirements differ as well, with most cattle rations containing 10 ppm or less of copper where many deer diets range from 15 to 20 ppm or more. When you consider the high demand for nutrients caused by antler growth and lactation, there is little wonder why the nutrient needs for deer (as a percentage of diet) exceed that of cattle. Growing antlers is basically the same as re-growing a large portion of the skeletal structure each year, which requires large quantities of protein, energy, minerals and vitamins. Doe milk is extremely nutrient dense, much more so than cow’s milk, thus increasing the need for a higher percentage of protein and mineral in a doe’s diet. The only situation where a cow’s nutrient requirements are even close to that of antler growth or doe lactation is a peak-producing dairy cow which even then is typically less than deer on a percentage-of-diet basis.

will feed much heavier on the alfalfa field when it is short, tender and heavily leaved. As is grows and matures and the stems get thicker, deer will utilize the field progressively less frequently. Mow the field, and in a few days the deer will be back on the field in droves, browsing on the more highly digestible new growth. PUTTING THE KNOWLEDGE INTO PRACTICE

The muzzle of a cow is broad and wide making it well adapted to non-selective grazing.

RUMEN DIFFERENCE Deer and cattle are both ruminant animals meaning that they have a stomach that has four distinct areas with distinct functions. These four stomach regions consist of the reticulum, rumen, omasum and abomasum. Of these regions, the largest is the rumen which is the “heart” of a ruminant’s digestive system. The rumen is a large sack-like structure which is the home of millions of microbial colonies. These microbial colonies give ruminants the ability to digest fibrous material by breaking down fibrous compounds, the process of which produces nutrients that can be absorbed and utilized by the host animal. The rumen has an ecology all to its own and requires specific environmental conditions such as pH level in order for a healthy microbial population to exist and in turn allow the host ruminant animal to properly digest the food it consumes. Changes in the diet can affect this environment such as the introduction of highly digestible starch which can lower the pH level of the rumen and alter the microbial population. The surface of the rumen is covered by long, finger-like projections called papillae which have many functions in the rumen such as affecting material flow and are where many of the microbes reside. Cattle are considered large ruminants with a mature cow having a rumen roughly the size of a beach ball. Deer, on the other hand, are considered small ruminants with a rumen the size of a volley ball or basketball. This difference in rumen size is one of the main reasons for the different eating habits and forage digestibility needs of cattle and deer. The larger the rumen, the greater the ability of the animal to digest a wide range of forage types and forage quality. A 8

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

A deer muzzle is long and narrow, an adaptation for selective grazing.

large rumen will have a greater surface area, larger microbial populations and typically have a slower rate of digesta passage, all of which result in a greater capacity to digest fibrous material even of a poorer quality. Because small ruminants lack the extent to which they can digest poorer quality fibrous material, they must consume the most highly digestible forages and/or parts of forages. For example, cattle have the ability to digest anything from thick-stemmed grasses to corn stover (stalks) where deer would literally starve to death on items such as these. As a plant matures, the stem produces dense fibrous compounds in order to give the stem the structure it needs to grow taller. A cow with its large rumen can digest much of this fibrous material. Deer, however, being a small ruminant do not have the ability to digest this fibrous material to the same degree. If you fed alfalfa bales to deer, they will eat the leaves but ignore the stems. Feed the same hay to cattle and they will eat it all because they can effectively digest all of it. This difference can be seen in alfalfa hay fields. Deer

I began this article recalling one of my encounters with the rogue cattle. You may remember my enjoyment over the small victory I had seeing the cattle having stomach discomfort brought on by the annihilation of my food plots. The forages growing in the plots were Imperial Whitetail Clover and Winter-Greens. Both of these food plot forages were designed specifically for deer and are rich in nutrients and highly digestible. They were so rich and digestible that the large ruminant cattle digested the forages too highly, producing scours and bloating from the rapid fermentation. Imperial Clover for example provides up to 35 percent protein and was bred to be heavily leaved which matches deer perfectly. Clover designed for cattle, however, is normally only in the mid-20 percent range for protein and grows thicker stems in order to grow taller. You can now see why it is so important when choosing your food plot products to use those that have been designed for deer instead of cattle. Imperial Alfa-Rack Plus for instance is a far better choice than a standard alfalfa designed for cattle. The alfalfa variety found in Alfa-Rack Plus is a specific breed that is designed to stay vegetative longer and be heavier leaved than regular alfalfa. In general, your perennial plots must be highly digestible and extremely high in nutrient content to match the needs of deer. If you use a variety whose origin was designed for cattle, you will not get the best results you could. I have planted Imperial Clover in the middle of a hay-variety clover field that we mowed for our cattle operation and watched deer walk through the hay-variety clover to get to the Imperial Clover. It wasn’t magic or some slick marketing trick, it was because Imperial Clover was designed to match a deer’s needs and the other was designed to match a cow’s needs. Choosing the right mineral supplement also involves selecting one designed for deer. As we previously discussed, the mineral needs are greater for deer than cattle, thus a deer mineral needs to be more nutrient dense especially considering the lower intake of deer as opposed to cattle. So make sure you keep in mind what you are managing. If you are managing deer, make sure you keep in mind the differences between cattle and deer and choose products and practices that are designed for deer and leave the cattle managing to the cattle farmers and ranchers. W

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By Roger Mlsna Photos by the Author


few years ago, my son purchased 300 acres of hunting land in northwestern Wisconsin. His goal was to develop it into a future home for a healthy deer herd. It would then become a place where he, his twin 4-year-old sons and his dad could successfully hunt for many years. Although we couldn’t wait to dig in, we had no idea as to the amount of work it would take to get the property in the condition we imagined for the future. The first thing we needed to do was clear some strategi-


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

Winter-Greens Photo by Whitetail Institute

cally located food plots — six in total. After clearing those the first spring, it was time to prepare them for planting. We tested the plots and then added the correct amount of lime and fertilizer to provide the perfect soil conditions. We decided to try seed from six of the better known names in food plot seeds. We planted in late spring and again in August, trying to experiment with as many seeds as possible. Much of northwestern Wisconsin consists of light, sandy soil, so we needed to be mindful of the dry con-

ditions when selecting our seeds. That first September, we noticed one of our brassica plots was growing extremely well. That said, the deer did not seem to be feeding in it early on. It grew to 12 to 14-inches high the next few weeks, and then we finally had our first hard frost. During the next two weeks, the entire food plot had been consumed. We realized we had a seed we were looking for. We also realized as long as the seed received a moderate rainfall in August or September, we would get the growth

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we needed. The seed, Whitetail Institute’s Winter-Greens, seemed to be the real deal. The next year we planted parts of all six food plots in Winter-Greens. Our herd seemed healthy and growing. That fall, we shot bucks scoring 141 and 155. Most recently, we shot the 175-plus buck (green-scored) pictured in this article. All of our food plots have cameras on them. Because most of the cameras only pick up movement about 15 yards out, we sprinkle a little corn in front of each camera to see what bucks we have in the area. It is legal to use bait in Wisconsin. Deer seldom eat only one kind of food for more than 20 or 30 minutes. As a result, they usually come to the corn for a couple of minutes. We were amazed at how many times the deer would walk right past the corn and go directly to the Winter-Greens. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing. Other than acorns, I didn’t know of anything deer preferred over corn. This has happened regularly. Winter-Greens is head and shoulders above any food plot seed we have ever used. We plant WinterGreens about Aug. 10 here in Wisconsin. It’s recommended to plant about 60 days before the projected first frost.

Winter-Greens is a brassica, and brassicas should not be used in the same food plot in back-to-back plantings. However, if you plant alternative seeds in spring, follow it up with brassica again in August. That works quite well. We have used this method with great success. We had pictures of the buck shown in this article as early as this past year. When he showed up this year on camera, we got some great close-ups to see that he had at least 17 scorable points. Every photo we had the previous year, as

well as thus far this year, had been after dark. We needed to get him on those food plots during daylight. After bowhunting him for the past two years, with no daytime pictures, we realized that we were simply educating him as to our location in the area. About two weeks before our gun season, we decided to leave him alone. Less than two weeks later, we finally got him on camera at 8:15 a.m. before gun season. Four days later, he walked out on one of our Winter-Greens food plots and started feeding. A wellplaced shot dropped him where he was standing. We are firm believers that food trumps many things in the deer’s world. When hunting the rut, bucks will be where the does are, and the does will eventually be where the food is. What that says is that even in the rut, food trumps everything. In conclusion, if you are trying to figure out what works best on your food plots, don’t overlook the potential of a planting of Whitetail Institute’s Winter-Greens. Thank you Whitetail Institute for contributing in a major way to our success. W

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Vol. 22, No. 1 /



By Bill Winke Photos by the Author


When brassicas are bulb forming, deer will definitely learn to eat the bulbs. Generally, the bulbs are most attractive after the first hard freeze. Imperial Winter-Greens and Tall Tine Tubers feature bulb producing plants in their mix.

have finally been broken, figuratively and literally. The hunting season two years ago was the final straw in my massive, years-long campaign to provide my deer with a winter’s worth of maize each year. I went into that spring like all good farmers, filled with the optimism born from the several-month gap since my last failure. I envisioned tall corn and a field full of big ears beckoning every buck in a three-county area. “I will surely slaughter them this year,” I thought with satisfaction. Then came the rains, good at first then concerning, finally tragic. It never stopped raining all spring and summer. Next came the bills. Nitrogen is not cheap these days with the high prices of commercial corn pushing so much money into the system that everyone in the supply chain is frothing at the mouth to get their piece. By the time all the bills settled, I had nearly $200 per acre in my food plots—and that was with free seed. That was bad enough, but the stuff was severely stunted from all the rains to the

Corn is at its best when the temperatures are brutally cold. That is when deer will walk past all other food sources to hit corn. As important as this is, it is hard to get past the fact that corn is also very expensive to grow right now, forcing us to look for alternatives.


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

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point where I barely got anything out of it. A friend of mine once said, “I would just burn my money, but planting corn on a wet year is at least a bit more dramatic.” I felt the same way, might as well have just burned it. So, not only was I broken by the lack of production of my corn food plots, but my bank account was broken too. I would tell you how much I spent, but I am afraid my wife may stumble across this article and see that our net worth would have doubled if I had skipped the food plots for a year. So that brings me to my new conclusion. If I plant corn again, it is going to be on a much smaller scale and maybe not until the price of the inputs drops considerably. My mission now: find an alternative with all the upside of corn and none of its downside. FINDING AN ALTERNATIVE So what are the tradeoffs? What am I giving up by turning a cold shoulder to the maize? I’ll start with the negatives. Corn is too sensitive to growing conditions for a reliable food plot staple. It is fine if you are big farmer with crop insurance to cover the risk. It doesn’t work so well if you are only growing it for the deer. If the spring is too wet, corn does very poorly. Nor is it a good summer food source even in good years because it is not high in protein and is essentially sugar-rich junk food for deer at that time of year. And it is very expensive to grow, especially right now. That is the left side of the ledger. On the other side (the positive side) is the fact that corn provides a high degree of energy for deer in the fall and winter. It is a great source of carbohydrates and deer love it. They need energy to handle a cold winter. Corn stands up well above the ground so when the snows come it is very accessible and deer take advantage of this fact. They will walk across other food sources to get to standing corn when snow buries most everything else. They would rather feed than dig. OK, so now that we know the challenge, let’s get to work finding a good alternative. Here are the ones that came most readily to my mind. Soybeans: Deer eat the leaves of this legume aggressively during the summer, nearly with the gusto they go after clover and alfalfa. Soybeans are reasonably affordable to plant because they don’t require expensive nitrogen and the herbicides are easy to use and affordable. Though they don’t love having their feet wet all the time, beans do better under wet conditions than corn does. Also, beans do pretty well under periods of dry, as well. They are easier to grow and not overly temperamental. I like that. You pretty much know (unless the deer wipe you out early) that you will have a crop of some sort regardless of weather. On the downside, the actual beans (deer eat

the entire pod after they dry down) aren’t as attractive as corn during the fall and winter. The difference is slight, but deer move more aggressively to corn when the temperatures are cold. This urgency often is the difference between success and failure during the late season. The same urgency isn’t quite as evident when deer are heading to soybeans. Yes, they will eat them during the cold days of winter, but given a choice between beans and corn, they generally select corn and will go out of their way to find it. Clover: I love clover for my spring/summer and fall food plots. Nothing else comes close the efficiency of clover. Clover feeds deer what they need when they need it and it is inexpensive to maintain. A seeding generally will last three years, with only the need for annual fertilizer and at least one mowing (two is better) per year. For spring and summer food, I don’t think anything beats clover. The only downside of clover is that it is not as attractive during the late fall and winter as some other options. So clover is not a true alternative to corn in the northern states like Iowa and Wisconsin. It fills an important niche as a top spring, summer and early seasonal fall food source, however, and will always be a big part of what I plant on my farm. Sorghum: Deer like sorghum once they have gotten used to it. I have planted sorghum instead of corn many times. The biggest advantage of sorghum is the fact that deer won’t touch it during the summer. They eat corn aggressively during the summer if there are large numbers of deer. By fall, much of the corn is gone. Sorghum has an advantage here and is the reason it can produce a big healthy plant capable of bearing a full seed head even with

moderate to high deer numbers. The deer eat the seed head in the fall and winter. One big negative for sorghum: I learned the hard way that deer love sorghum when the seed is in the dough stage (usually late August and early September, depending on planting date). Once the deer get used to sorghum, they will nearly wipe it out during the dough stage leaving little for fall and winter consumption. The other downside of sorghum is the fact that it requires a lot of nitrogen to grow well. Nitrogen is expensive now, as I have already discussed. You don’t need to add as much phosphorous and potassium to the soil for sorghum as you do for corn, but sorghum also doesn’t yield as many bushels per acre (about half) as a good corn crop. It makes sense to consider sorghum in some situations, especially if you have pheasants and quail that you are also trying to manage. The game birds do very well on table scraps—the seeds that sloppy deer drop onto the ground— and they will live very well in the cover of the sorghum patches. However, if you are focusing strictly on deer, sorghum is a bit costly for what it produces in terms of winter food. Cereal grains: Winter wheat and oats are affordable to plant and they grow quickly. They do require some nitrogen to grow well, but not to the extent required for corn or sorghum. They are also quite attractive to deer in the fall and early winter. For this reason, they do serve some purpose in certain food plot situations. However, on the downside, they don’t produce a high amount of forage compared to other options and tend to flatten when snow comes, making them less attractive than other options for late season hunting in the snow belt. In areas with-

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Vol. 22, No. 1 /



When the conditions are right, you can overseed thin areas within other food plot crops with brassica-like Imperial Winter-Greens. This produces additional forage and gives you the most possible forage in your plots.

out snow, cereal grains are a viable option, not at the top of the list, but at least in the running. Brassicas: In my own personal experience, this is where it starts to get interesting. If there is a simple alternative to corn’s late season attractiveness, maybe it is brassicas. In fact, we need to spend some real time here sorting out the pros and cons of brassicas and see where we end up. First, I will look at attractiveness. From what I have seen on our farm and heard from others, deer love certain brassicas after the first hard freeze. They will run to them when the time is right. With a good mix, the attractiveness of the brassica blend is not in question. Once they get used to it, the deer will crave it. Of course, you want to stick with mixes that are proven to assure that you are getting this benefit. Second, the brassicas do supply a lot of what the deer need in the late season. The leaves are very rich in protein, rivaling most legumes and when the brassica also bears tubers (not all do), these also are fairly high in protein. So protein is not a problem either. Brassicas (leaves and tubers) tend to become more palatable later in the fall/winter (after at least one hard freeze) which suggests that there is some kind of sugar or starch (carbs) there that will also provide energy. Third, brassicas produce a lot of forage. Information I have seen suggests that a good mix will produce between 1.5 and 5 tons per 14

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

acre depending on soil quality, weather and fertilizer. I always figure two to three tons per acre of any food source (forage or grain) is pretty darn good. So, brassicas also produce a good (great) supply of forage. We are up to three pluses for brassicas. On the downside, brassicas can be temperamental. I have had some bad luck with pure turnip plantings when the conditions were too wet. They died and withered away during the late summer during wet years. Properly selected blends do much better because there is usually something in the mix that will hold up under wet conditions. That is another reason why I like blends—you never are completely wiped out if the growing conditions turn less than ideal. You do have the option of a summer or early fall planting so generally, you are going into a moist (not wet) seedbed. You can time the planting to coincide with a good rain. Finally, we need to look at the cost of brassicas versus corn. I think I have established the fact that a good brassica blend is definitely a worthy addition to the food plot regimen, but we don’t want to jump out of frying pan and into the fire on this one, so let’s see what it costs to grow a robust crop of brassicas before we convert all the acres over. Studying the information I have at my disposal, as well as looking back over my own experiences, brassicas require about 70 percent as much nitrogen per acre as corn and slightly less phosphorous and potassi-

um. After properly killing the existing plants and tilling the seedbed, there is no herbicide treatment needed in most cases. Therefore, to keep this simple, you can figure that brassicas are less expensive to plant than corn and they yield greater amounts of forage and produce a good combination of protein and carbohydrates for winter attraction. THE ROTATION PLAN I am always going to keep the farm lush and green with clover so the deer have many secure, small plots in which to feed during the spring, summer and early fall, but I still need to figure out a cost-effective food source for winter attraction. Here is my solution. My plan is to use a rotation of soybeans and brassicas. It is never a good idea to plant brassicas for more than two years in the same plot, so rotation is inevitable anyway. Besides, the brassicas can benefit from the nitrogen credit left in the ground from the prior year’s soybean crop. It is a natural way to get the most out of your plots for the least amount of money. I will fertilize the brassicas as required on the bag and then depend on the P and K carryover to help my soybeans the following year. The two crops complement each other just as nicely as corn and beans, but at a lower cost and with less risk of a failed crop. There are two ways to create this rotation.

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You can swap entire fields from one year to the next or you can split the field roughly in half and swap back and forth within that field annually. Splitting the field is really the best way to create maximum attraction in your plots as long as the soybean portion is big enough to sustain summer grazing pressure. Beans are going to get hit harder because the brassica portion of the plot is fallow until planted in summer or early fall. However, there is a nice way around this if you plan, and that is what I will cover next. UTILIZING GREEN MANURE To take the complementary nature of these two crops one step farther, you can include a plow-down mix into your soybean plot to enhance the soil fertility for your brassica blend the next year. This also gives the deer something to eat during the spring and summer rather than simply a fallow field of weeds. This concept is known as green manure. You frost seed a blend of a clover into your soybean plot around the time the leaves start to turn yellow on the soybeans (early fall). The clover seeding will germinate and start to grow in the fall but will really hit its stride the following spring. By late summer, you will have a thick stand of some rangy looking clover that you can mow down and till into the soil. Believe it or not, a good stand of clover

plowed down like this will provide nearly all the nutrients you need for the ensuing crop of brassicas. Organic farmers use this practice all the time. You also benefit from having some weed control in the form of a plant that deer will eat during the spring and early summer leading up to the time when you till it in and establish the brassicas. Just to be on the safe side, you should still include a half dose of conventional fertilizer before tilling and planting the brassicas. Seeding a blend of clovers in the late summer will save you a lot of money on fertilizer the next year while getting the absolute most possible out of your food plot acres. CONCLUSION If commodity prices ever drop and fertilizer costs come back to earth, I may start planting corn again, but for now, I would rather forego corn plots in favor of paying my mortgage. They are of about equal size! I am sure the family will appreciate a place to live and some food. Yes, corn is attractive in the winter, but man, is it ever expensive. Fortunately, there are very effective strategies you can use to eliminate corn without reducing the late season attractiveness of your property. W

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Brassicas like Imperial Winter-Greens are particularly attractive to deer after a hard freeze making, them a great choice for mid-fall through late season.

Vol. 22, No. 1 /



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

Stale Seedbeds: A Weed-Control Tool When Herbicide Choices are Limited


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

of the non-dormant weed seed in the upper two to three inches of the soil profile. Repeating shallow tillage at two-week intervals will simultaneously control the emerged weed seedlings and stimulate germination of a fresh batch of weed seed. Continuing this cycle of intermittent shallow tillage of stale seedbeds during fallow periods will reduce baseline weed densities before the forage blend is seeded. This does not deplete all viable weed seeds in the soil since some are dormant and located well below the depth of tillage. However, research has shown this system of cultural weed control is a proven means to substantially lower the baseline weed density. Compared to the U. S., Europe has traditionally relied more on cultural and mechanical weed control strategies than herbicides, and much of the useful supporting research is European. Studies conducted in Denmark showed that stale seedbed weed control reduced weed growth up to 84 percent compared to plantings that did not use stale

seedbed weed control. It should be obvious that stale seedbed weed control is not a stand-alone weed control strategy. It is simply one tool in the weed control tool box that can be used in virtually every food plot system — a crescent wrench of sorts. There are three critical characteristics of a successful stale seedbed weed control program. First, start the process early, several weeks or months prior to seeding the forage blend if possible. Second, shallow-till the seedbeds at two-week intervals. Third, use an implement that thoroughly tills the top two to three inches of the soil. The best implement is a PTO-tiller since it is a shallow tillage implement that pulverizes the soil. However, two perpendicular passes with a disk harrow is an acceptable alternative. Regardless of the implement, repeat the process three or four times for maximum benefit. A variation on stale seedbed weed control is the use of a non-selective, broad-spectrum herbicide such as glyphosate

Herbicides that are typically used for weed control in food plots cannot be used in certified organic production systems.

Whitetail Institute


nteresting questions arise from telephone calls and e-mails. One series of weed-control questions came from a customer who had hunting rights on a certified organic dairy. Herbicides that are typically used for weed control in food plots cannot be used in certified organic production systems, and the customer needed guidance on how to manage weeds without compromising the dairy's organic certification. This is a unique and challenging question that closely parallels my area of research in my full-time job. This question is equally relevant when multi-species forage blends are planted for food plots and the species have varying tolerance to herbicides. In both examples, the panic-fueled question is the same: “How are weeds managed without herbicides?” Forage crop production practices that suppress weeds and encourage crop growth are the foundation for any weed management system, in any crop. In situations where herbicides are not an option, cultural weed control transforms from a foundational practice to the primary means of weed control. A cultural weed control practice commonly recommended is the use of stale seedbeds, also called false seedbeds. A stale seedbed is a seedbed prepared several weeks or months prior to seeding the forage. Stale seedbed weed control works by stimulating the germination of non-dormant weed seed and simultaneously controlling newly emerged weed seedlings before planting food plots. There are a finite number of weed seeds in the soil and those that potentially infest crops are present in the upper two to three inches of the soil. Granted, the number of weed seeds may be in the millions per acre and there is no practical way to predict that number. Furthermore, weed seed germination varies according to weed species, soil type, geographical location, and current environmental conditions. As a general rule, repeated shallow tillage of stale seedbeds will stimulate germination of a large portion

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(Roundup and generics) to control emerged weeds on the seedbed before planting forages. Glyphosate has basically no soil-residual properties and will not affect forages when applied before planting. The key to using glyphosate as a stale seedbed weed control tool is timing; weeds need to be emerged and actively growing for optimum performance. In addition, time is needed to allow glyphosate to translocate in the vascular system of weeds to the roots for optimum performance; meaning that treated weeds need to remain undisturbed for several days after treatment. Glyphosate for stale seedbed weed control is particularly useful where perennial weeds (briars, bramble, Johnsongrass, common bermudagrass, quackgrass, etc.) infest the site. Seedbed tillage alone will not control perennial weeds outright, but glyphosate can provide valuable control of perennial weeds. In fact, the tandem system of stale seedbed tillage coupled with an application of glyphosate is probably the best stale seedbed weed control system, with the combination being synergistic to each component alone. For the tangible benefits of stale seedbed weed control, there are disadvantages that need to be considered. Frequent and intense stale seedbed tillage in not a good soil stewardship practice, particularly in areas where soil erosion is problematic. When done correctly, stale seedbed tillage eliminates all vegetation (i.e. weeds) shortterm and creates a condition for erosion. Secondly, stale seedbed tillage alters soil physical structure and can cause soil compaction. The degree to which this occurs varies according to tillage implement, frequency of tillage, and soil type. These are unfortunate outcomes that cannot be overlooked. In professional agricultural circles, there are many advocates of no-tillage crop production with a stated advantage of no-tillage being fewer weeds due to non-disturbed soil and weed suppression by cover or smother crops. While research data does not always support their position, they are repulsed by the idea of repeated stale seedbed tillage. I will not use this article as a means of refuting their contention. In fact, no-tillage advocates have legitimate points. So, we have a paradox; promote soil health and practice good soil stewardship by reducing or eliminating seedbed tillage; or intensively till seedbeds before planting forages to deplete weed seed. That is a tough choice. I have been beaten senseless by my organic crop production customers with the same argument. My response back to organic growers (and in our case customers who plant multispecies forage blends in food plots): How will weeds be controlled if tillage is removed? Pick your poison. When considered long-term, it makes sense to me as someone who studies weeds and personally struggles with weed control in food plots, that a system built around stale seedbed weed control does not have to be a permanent production practice. It can be gradually transformed into a minimumtillage system once baseline weed populations are reduced to a manageable level. This article began with a discussion about food plot management on a certified organic dairy and the need to manage food plots without compromising the owner’s organic certification. This real-world example parallels the constraints of weed control in food plots planted to a blend of several forage species. In both cases, the tools for successful weed control are limited and selective herbicides are not always an option. Study the entire system of forage crop production practices and focus on the weed control benefits that they provide. Stale seedbed weed control is a useful and versatile weed control strategy; a crescent wrench of sorts. While stale seedbed weed control is not stand-alone and certainly has a down-side, consider it to be the ‘go-to’ method to reduce weed populations and stay ahead of weeds in food plots. W

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Vol. 22, No. 1 /



neW ImperIal WhItetaIl no-ploW Better than ever, and here’s Why


esigned to deliver excellent attraction and nutrition in fully prepared seedbeds or with minimal ground preparation, Imperial Whitetail No-Plow is one of the Whitetail Institute’s most successful and long-running products. With all that, what more is there to say? How about, “Now, No-Plow is even better with the inclusion of two new, highly attractive and nutritious forages.” WHAT MAKES NO-PLOW SPECIAL? There’s a reason why No-Plow is one of the Whitetail Institute’s longest-running products: It’s a result of the Whitetail Institute’s customerdriven approach. When it comes to new product development, the Whitetail Institute has always been customer-driven. Most of its new product ideas come from folks who actually use food plot products in the field: hunters and managers. And when the Whitetail Institute recognizes a need, it acts by starting research and development toward a product that will meet it. That was the driving force behind the development of the Whitetail Institute’s first product, Imperial Whitetail Clover, which to this day contains the only clover varieties ever specifically 18

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

Brad Herndon

developed for deer. The same is true of Imperial Whitetail Extreme, (designed to meet the needs of folks in lower rainfall areas), Winter-Greens, Tall Tine Tubers, and the rest of the Whitetail Institute’s product line. For perhaps as long as humans have planted food plots for deer, hunters have always been faced with a dilemma: finding a food plot product that would attract and hold deer like a magnet even in sites that

couldn’t be accessed with tillage equipment. That’s why the Whitetail Institute started working to meet that need so early in its history. The first step the Whitetail Institute’s scientists and agronomists took when they started the research-and-development project that would ultimately lead to No-Plow was to identify specific attributes the new forage product would need to possess. One might assume that

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their primary research and development goal was to develop a product that could perform well even with minimal ground preparation. Certainly the no-till aspect was important, but the overriding research goal was something else: attractiveness to deer. Without that, the product would be doomed from the outset and never make it to Whitetail Institute product status. Other research goals included rapid stand establishment; early seedling vigor; drought and heat tolerance; the ability to perform well from early fall, through the coldest months of the year, and even into the spring; and yes, the capability to thrive even when planted with minimal ground preparation. Rarely will a single plant variety excel in all these performance categories. Accordingly, the Whitetail Institute worked toward developing a blend of multiple plant varieties that, acting in combination, would satisfy all these performance goals. Was the effort successful? Absolutely. All you have to do is look at how long No-Plow has been on the market to know that. The final test blends that went on for realworld testing on free-ranging deer consisted of three main component groups: forage grains and grasses, annual clovers and brassica. These were the same basic component groups in NoPlow when it was first introduced, and they have

remained so even as the Whitetail Institute has continued to improve No-Plow through the years. The reason is simple: This structure works and has helped No-Plow maintain its dominant place in the market. All the components establish and grow quickly, often appearing above ground just a few days after planting, and start drawing deer right away. Usually, deer tend to concentrate on the forage grains and grasses first and then the clovers. Once the first frosts of fall arrive, the brassicas in No-Plow become even sweeter and continue to attract and hold deer into the coldest months of the year. After winter, the annual clovers continue to provide much-needed nutrition for deer as they recover their winter health losses and bucks begin to regrow antlers. All that is nothing new to folks who’ve used No-Plow before. The Whitetail Institute regularly receives testimonials from hunters and managers from across the United States and Canada telling the Whitetail Institute of the success they’ve had with No-Plow. Even so, the Whitetail Institute is always looking for ways to make even its most popular products better and better, and No-Plow is yet another example. WHAT’S NEW? No-Plow still contains the same components

that have made it a favorite with Whitetail Institute customers, plus two new forage components: a specially selected radish and a new lettuce. The newly added radish and lettuce are highly attractive and help No-Plow draw and hold deer even better. But that’s not all they do. They also improve soil structure and fertility. The specially selected radish grows a large root. As the planting reaches the end of its life, any roots not devoured by your deer will decompose and leave air spaces, which help aerate the soil. This allows better water filtration and air movement throughout the soil, both of which are important to root development and the growth of healthy plants. The large roots also recycle nutrients to the top 8 to 12 inches of the soil, making them available to plants in subsequent food plot plantings. In short, if you’ve used No-Plow before and liked it the way it was, don’t worry — you’ll find the same components in the new No-Plow that worked so well for you before. Plus, you’ll be getting even better attraction, and you’ll be improving your soil structure at the same time, whether you plant new No-Plow in a fully prepared seedbed or according to our no-tillage instructions. If you’re one of the few who is new to No-Plow, I have only one question: What are you waiting for? W

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Vol. 22, No. 1 /



Jason Miller — Iowa Olivia's first deer hunt: Deer and turkeys were already feeding in the first food plot that we came to. That plot is planted in Whitetai Forage Oats Plus and also another forage that we are currently testing for Whitetail Institute. We continued on to the second food plot which is planted with Tall Tine Tubers — trust me it’s unbelievable. We got to the blind about 2:45 pm. About 10 minutes after we got there, and until Olivia shot at about 7 p.m., it was a steady stream of deer in/out eating/gorging in the plot. Most deer out at one time was about 15 but I suppose we saw about 25 does / fawns and one spike. About 7 p.m. he stepped out of the brush just east of the blind at about 45 yards and immediately went to feeding on the food

three years ago is in the enclosed photo. It was really a good family time and a great, great buck. Side note: As I'm sure you guessed, I am extremely proud of my beautiful six-year old daughter. She was a real trooper — very excited to practice shooting, look at trail camera pics, watch deer, hunt, etc. We practiced shooting most of the summer (about 300 rounds) — primarily with a scoped .22 caliber gun. She didn’t practice as much with the muzzleloader but often times looked through the scope to be sure she could find things easily on 3X, 6X, or 9X power. When she did shoot the muzzleloader (80 grains of powder and a 200-grain bullet), she was never spooked by the recoil — which was always a little worrisome to me. I'm still smiling about the whole memorable event.

and developed a hit list that included at least eight different mature bucks. I harvested my second mature buck, this time a 9-point again over an Imperial Whitetail Clover plot. Given the fact that I’m a novice bowhunter, I credit the food plots as the primary reason I have been successful. I have been very happy with Whitetail Institute products and look forward to expanding the plots for next season. I have included a few pictures of my hit list.

Anthony Southard — Pennsylvania

Scott Reedy — Ohio

plot. There were a few tense moments as I tried to get Olivia calmed down but after a deep breath, she was fine and unbelievably focused. I filmed the deer for about one minute. When he turned broadside, Olivia was ready and made a great hit on him with her new Thompson Center Pro Hunter — highlighted in pink of course. After the shot, the buck ran right at us and went by the tower blind about 10 to 15 feet away. I reviewed the footage a couple times and just wasn't 100 percent sure of the hit because of the smoke or if the spot on his side I thought I could see was even a hit? About five minutes after she shot I decided I better get down and look for blood right by the blind — dark was approaching and rain was in the forecast. Fortunately, I found blood immediately which made me feel pretty confident the spot I thought I could see on his side (while reviewing the video) was indeed a good hit. Five minutes later we found him about 30 yards in the brush. He is approximately 170 inches and at least 5-1/2 or 6-1/2 years old I’d say. A shed from the same buck 20

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

As a new hunter, I was advised by friends that if I was going to hunt my property, the only food plot to plant was Imperial Whitetail Clover. I began my first season ever hunting whitetails in southwestern Ohio and scored a nice mature 8point buck with a crossbow. I observed many deer throughout the season. As I prepared for this past season, I expanded my food plots with more Imperial Whitetail Clover and Double Cross

I planted my first food plot using Alfa-Rack Plus five years ago. Since then my family and I have planted more Whitetail Institute seed than I can remember. Every year my brother and I use 30-06 Plus Protein. Our deer herds are much larger than surrounding land owners and our bucks have blossomed. This year I harvested my largest buck ever with bow. He dressed at 185 lbs. He sported a 20-inch inside spread with main beams of 21 and 21-1/2 inches. We hold does, therefore we hold bucks. I will continue using Whitetail Institute products and the enclosed photo shows why. Thanks again Whitetail Institute. You make my hunting better.

David Mandravelis — Maine Since using Whitetail Institute products the deer in my area seem to stay right in the same area, not traveling very far from my two little food plots. This buck is the second deer that I was fortunate enough to shoot that has made the Maine record book. Maine does not have a lot of deer, but we do have some nice ones and many go over 200 pounds dressed out. Unfortunately, the forest in Maine is not managed for a better herd. Much of the land in my area and further north has been logged in excess, with many deer yards overcut. Over the years, the For the latest promotions, sales and news visit


yearly deer harvest has gone down while the wood harvest has gone up. If it weren’t for Whitetail Institute products, I don’t think I would have the few deer that are left, on my property feeding in my food plots. Thank you Whitetail Institute and keep up the great service. This buck had 10 points and a rough green score of 157. He was shot while making a scrape on the edge of my Imperial Whitetail Clover food plot.

have seen nothing but improvements on our farm. Here are just a few deer taken in last three years.

I first used Whitetail Institute products last year on a farm I have permission to hunt. The farm is a small 100-acre tract surrounded by hardcore deer hunters who shoot anything. I knew my only chance was to keep as many deer on the 100 acres as possible, so I planted two small plots of No-Plow and Secret Spot in the fall. I was amazed how many deer spent much more time on the property, and I was actually drawing more bucks in. My buddy killed his two largest bucks ever off the farm last year. I unfortunately missed when the opportunity came my way. This past fall, we decided to see how much better Whitetail Institute products were compared to the ordinary brands you can find at the local co-op. So we planted half our plots in “storebought� turnips/rape/oats. The other half were planted in Whitetail Institute Winter-Greens and No-Plow. The difference was unreal. The deer ate the Whitetail Institute down to almost the dirt. The store-bought stuff is still standing-uneaten. I am convinced! This past rifle season, I killed my biggest buck ever on a No-Plow plot. He was with a doe that was eating in the plot. He scored 165. This year we have more bucks showing up every week and can’t wait to plant this spring. Thanks Whitetail Institute for such great products.

Todd Fisk — Indiana

Eddie Taylor — Tennessee Photo 1 is of this past years buck taken from Chicory Plus plot. He has awesome mass and field dressed at 226 pounds at 7-1/2 years old. He hasn’t been officially scored but was green scored at 202 3/8�.

Clint Freeman — Arkansas

Four years ago planted Imperial Whitetail Clover. I see more deer on my property, bigger antlers on the bucks, heavier bodied deer and increased doe and buck activity. I also bagged my biggest buck in 20 years of hunting, 150inch gross, net 148 5/8. I have also killed my biggest buck with a bow — 130 inch gross, 127 net.

Billy Ham — Kentucky I have been using Chicory Plus on my farm for several years now along with 30-06 Mineral and

Let me start by saying if you’re not using Whitetail Institute products, you’re missing out. I started using Imperial Whitetail Clover 10 years ago on my 36 acres and have had great success with it. Body size, antler mass and antler scores have increased drastically. Overall, deer have gained body weight and overall health. It has changed deer travel routes to visit food plots daily so when the rut kicks in you know where to find the deer! I have also started using PowerPlant the last three years with great success! Three years ago I harvested a 9-point with 21-inch spread scoring 154. Two years ago I harvested a 9-point with 24-inch spread scoring 167. Last year I harvested a 10-point scoring 156. I’m very anxious for the coming hunting season.

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(Continued on page 52) Vol. 22, No. 1 /



Cooperation Vital to QDM Success By Charles J. Alsheimer Photos by the Author


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

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nowflakes floated to the ground as I made my way from the parking lot to the school entrance. I found the auditorium where I was to set up my projection equipment for a seminar I’d be doing. Before I could get set up several men approached and introduced themselves. They were part of a group of landowners who hoped to generate interest in quality deer management by hosting an antler round up. My role in the evening’s event was to share with attendees how a quality deer management program could provide better deer and better hunting.

When my show prep was complete, I made my way into the gymnasium where vendors’ displays were set up. Throughout the room, people were mingling around displays, enjoying the evening. Working my way around the gym, I stopped to chat with people who had come early to see the variety of archery, taxidermists and food plot displays before taking in the seminar I’d be doing. In one corner of the gym the New York State Big Buck Club’s antler measuring tables were drawing a lot of attention as officials measured racks that attendees were bringing in to have scored. The sight was festive. When my seminar was finished and the room had cleared, I had a chance to sit down and discuss with the show’s sponsors what had taken place. One of their goals was to introduce the public to a better form of deer management. All agreed that the night went well and hoped the evening’s events would be a springboard to get hunters and landowners interested in QDM. During my two-hour drive home, I compared what I had just seen to Winter 1991, when landowners in my part of New York state decided to form an organization with a goal to have better deer and better hunting. In that year, seven other landowners and I formed the Steuben County Quality Whitetail Group. By the Winter 1992, we were able to put together a QDM brochure and conduct our first Antler Round Up, in Avoca, N.Y. The event was a huge

success, prompting us to turn it into an annual event. In the years that followed, our Antler Round Up drew hunters and landowners from across New York and northern Pennsylvania who came to learn about deer management, food plots, forest management, hunting strategies and so much more. In retrospect none of us had any idea that what we had started would one day morph into the quality deer management movement our part of the Northeast has experienced. Now, 20 years after The Steuben County Quality Whitetail Group was formed, other groups across the Northeast and Midwest have formed and flourished, thanks to the efforts of dedicated sportsman and The Quality Deer Management Association. WHAT IS QDM? If you are reading Whitetail News for the first time, I’ll bring you up to speed on traditional deer management and the concept of quality deer management, and why so many sportsmen are embracing the QDM philosophy. For decades America’s whitetail populations have been managed under a concept known as traditional deer management. In a nutshell, TDM was used to rebuild America’s whitetail herds after the market-hunting era (1880 to 1910) and is still practiced today in many areas.

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Vol. 22, No. 1 /



Basically it lets hunters kill any legal antlered buck while protecting all or part of the antlerless population. Quality deer management differs greatly from TDM. It is a philosophy/practice that unites landowners, hunters and biologists in a common goal of producing biologically and socially balanced deer herds. It produces quality does, fawns and bucks. Yearling and 2-year-old bucks are protected to produce mature males, and doe harvesting is emphasized to control the adult-doe-to-antlered-buck ratio. In addition, the practice strives to keep deer habitat at a quality level. QDM, if done right, also improves landowner relations and creates better hunters. The end result is better deer, better habitat and better hunting—a win-win program. One might ask after reading the last paragraph, “QDM sounds great, so why doesn’t every state agency and hunter want to embrace the concept?” The answer can be complex but basically some view it as threatening and others simply resist anything that smacks of change. MAKING IT HAPPEN Approaching the public with the QDM message can be a touchy affair. I’ll never forget the first two seminars held by our fledgling Steuben County Quality Whitetail Group in New York, soon after we organized. The first seminar went smoothly, and no one in the audience voiced their disapproval with what we were proposing. A couple of weeks later, the group was asked to speak to a gathering in a bordering county. During the question and answer segment of the program, several individuals were vocal in their disapproval of any type of quality deer manage-

Charles Alsheimer has spoken to many gatherings over the years about QDM.


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

Keys to Cooperative QDM 1. Be organized: Failing to plan is a plan to fail. So before forming a QDM cooperative set goals. 2. Think long term: Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s important not to hurry the process. Win the public’s trust with facts, results, and a heavy dose of kindness. 3. Keep the fire lit: Keep QDM and its virtues before the public by hosting seminars, field days, etc. 4. Set a good example: “More is caught than is taught.” Setting a good example for fellow hunters can be far more convincing than lecturing them on whitetail management. 5. Don’t be pushy: Never try to force the QDM concept on people. By breaking down the concept and presenting it in bite-size pieces, you’ll be more successful. 6. Love your neighbor: To have a successful cooperative requires getting along with neighboring landowners. Treat them like you want to be treated. 7. Share ideas: Education is power. Sharing what works for you will help to sell the QDM concept with interested parties.

ment. One person accused us of trying to turn New York into an Illinois, where the common man could no longer hunt because all the land was leased to the wealthy. Another called quality deer management the worst type of deer management ever devised. When we asked the person to elaborate, he went off on a tangent and never addressed the issue. Two other attendees chimed in with negative comments, as well. I’m sure the opinions of those four individuals left many in the audience scratching their heads. One of the frustrating things for QDM organizers is the snail’s pace at which the public

accepts the concept. I can share from experience that you often feel like you’re taking two steps forward and one step back. There will always be dissenters, but a little planning can keep them to a minimum. Being organized is the gold standard when it comes to selling a concept. The best sales people are those who not only have a vision but also a plan to make the vision a reality. Having your ducks in a row is critical when selling quality deer management to hunters and landowners. For starters, QDM’s benefits must take center stage. And one of the biggest benefits is that the concept has always worked where it was given a chance. In my travels as a seminar speaker, I’ve worked for many QDM cooperatives the past 15 years, and few do it as well as the Thumb Area Branch of the QDMA, located in the eastern Thumb area of Michigan. Made up of a cluster of smaller co-ops, this branch has put together two very informative booklets (QDM 101 and QDM 201) to help educate the public on the virtues of quality deer management. The branch distributes them free, at a cost to the branch of $1 each for printing. To date, more than 20,000 of the booklets have been made available to Thumb area residents. One of the Thumb’s co-ops, the Rubicon coop, uses large roadside billboards to show the hunting successes their members are having. Concerning this, Rubicon organizer Paul Plantinga said, “The roadside billboards have been great. For the past three years the boards have run from June through December, with three to four new locations being posted each month. We have displayed as many as 33 locations in one season. Because this is a strong hunting area we’ve had no resistance from

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locals. As a result, area hunters have not been afraid to send us photos to be considered for the billboards. We also use permanent miniboards with great success. Currently we have about 20 locations for these mini-boards around Huron County and have a waiting list of property owners who are willing to display them. So, the billboards and the QDM 101 and 201 booklets have allowed us to reach the public with the QDM message.” INFORMAL QDM Certainly, great things can be done through an organized QDM branch, but it’s safe to say that many QDM practitioners are not part of an organized group. In the past 20 years, I’ve seen hundreds of QDM programs formed by individual landowners who chose not to organize. Many landowners in Bradford County, Pa. (in the rich natural gas region known as Marcellus Shale) have a very successful quality deer management program, without any organizational structure. They’ve been successful through selfeducation, sharing ideas, and benefiting from the Bradford County Trophy Deer and Bear Club, which was founded by farmer and avid deer hunter, Roger Kingsley. I first met Kingsley when he and several other Bradford County landowners attended our Steuben County Whitetail Group seminars in hopes of finding out more about the practice of quality deer management. Through the years, I’ve been intrigued by the success of the quality deer management movement in Bradford County. In discussing this with Kingsley, he said, “Many landowners here in Bradford County have seen tremendous success growing better deer by being better educated on what it takes to have a quality deer management program. Though we are not officially organized we have a great network among landowners here in the county, so we’ve been able to learn from each other. “The Bradford County Trophy Deer and Bear Club does not go out of its way to promote quality deer management, but I feel it has an indirect impact on the QDM movement in the county because of what the club does to encourage sound wildlife management. One way we do it is by having an annual banquet to honor the trophies that have been harvested in the county. Showcasing the quality of animals harvested here has influenced many landowners to manage their property for better wildlife. So, I’d have to say that what the club does has had a significant impact on the QDM philosophy.” The success my immediate area has had growing better deer is a direct result of the Steuben County Quality Whitetail Group. The information the group disseminated got the ball rolling and kept the fire lit for more than 20 years. It birthed numerous small QDM co-ops

This is one of the more creative QDM signs the author has seen.

here in my part of New York State, including our farm and three surrounding properties. Together the four farms encompass about 750 acres. Though all of us manage our land a little differently, we all strive to have better deer, habitat and hunting. The bottom line is that suc-

cess never happens in a vacuum. It’s a process. We’ve been able to do it in part by the information Whitetail News provides, other media dedicated to quality deer management, and the cooperative that got us started. W

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Understanding Your Soil-Test Report By Wayne Hanna, PhD Photo by Brad Herndon

The first time you see a laboratory soil-test report, though, you may not know exactly how to use the information it provides. That’s especially true of reports that, unlike the Whitetail Institute soil-test report, are structured primarily for commercial farmers. The Whitetail Institute soil-test kit and report are specifically designed for food plotters and can be much easier to read. Even so, it helps to know what information in the report is useful to you, and why. Hopefully, this article will help you easily understand any laboratory soil-test report so that you can quickly take from it the information you need to optimize soil conditions for forage growth. The first thing to know is that the information in all laboratory soiltest reports can be divided into two main categories, which are often referred to in conversation as “Readings” and “Recommendations.” In short, the Readings tell you what the soil pH, soil-nutrient levels and soil structure of the sampled soil are, based on the laboratory’s analysis; and the Recommendations tell you what to do about the Readings to assure optimum forage growth for the specific forage you’ll be planting or maintaining. The most important category from the grower’s perspective are the laboratory’s Recommendations, since they tell you what action you need to take to get certain Readings into optimum range. Even so, you also need to know why the laboratory takes the Readings it does and what they mean if you want to understand why the following statement is true: Only a soil test performed by a qualified soil-testing laboratory can assure you that you buy the correct amount of lime, and the exact amount and blend of fertilizer, to assure optimum forage growth and allow you to eliminate wasted lime and fertilizer expenditures! READINGS (Soil pH, Soil Fertility, and Soil Structure) As previously mentioned, the Readings in a soil-test report are the results of the laboratory’s analysis of your soil, and they’re used by the laboratory to arrive at its Recommendations. But, what is it that the lab is “reading” in the soil, and why? SOIL PH


f you’re a long-time reader of Whitetail News, then you’ll have read these statements before: Having a qualified soil-testing laboratory test your soil anytime you’re considering buying lime and/or fertilizer is the best tool available to you for ensuring optimum forage growth, and saving money in the process. It can be the difference between having the best food plot you can imagine and total failure. 26

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

Just as humans need to take in food to survive and grow, plants must take nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium from the soil. In each case, two situations must exist: the food (soil nutrients) must be there, and they must be freely available for intake by the plants. The first Reading you should look for when you receive your soil-test report is the Soil pH Reading (also sometimes stated as “Water pH”), since it immediately tells you whether or not nutrients in your soil may be inaccessible to your forage plants. Unless soil pH is within the optimum range for the forage being planted or maintained, the forage plants will not be able to freely uptake nutrients from the soil. That makes the soil pH Reading (and when soil pH is low then also the attendant lime Recommendation we’ll discuss later) the most important information on your soil-test report. Put simply, soil pH is a measurement of the alkalinity or acidity of soil, and that measurement is represented by a number, most commonly from about 4 to about 8. A number from 6.5 – 7.5 defines “neutral” soil pH. Numbers below that range indicate “acidic” soil, and higher numbers define soil that is “alkaline”. Most fallow soils are acidic. And since we often find fallow sites covered with grass and other weeds, it stands to reason that many naturally occurring grasses and weeds can freely uptake nutrients from soils within a fairly wide soil pH range, including neutral and acidic soils. And that’s the reason for the common misconception that a site will sustain forage plantings well just because grass and other weeds flourish there. Most high-quality forage plantings can freely uptake soil nutrients only in soils with neutral soil

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


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


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

  21  22

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


Aug 1 - Sept 1


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

Call for planting dates Call for planting dates

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

Aug 1 - Sept 15

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

Sept 1 - Oct 30


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

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

   21  22

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

Aug 1 - Sept 1 Aug 20 - Sept 30



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


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


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

      21  22

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

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

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

July 1 - Aug 15

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Vol. 22, No. 1 /




pH — a much narrower range. Why is that important to understand? Because plants growing in the site cannot freely uptake nutrients from the soil unless soil pH is within the range in which they can do so. Still not convinced? Okay, let’s put it in terms your wallet can understand. High-quality forages planted in a site with a soil pH of 5.0 can only access about 46 percent of the nutrients in the soil. That means if you spend $100 on fertilizer for the plants in that plot, you just wasted $54! SOIL FERTILITY INDEX (Soil-Nutrient Levels) Most laboratory soil-test reports list soil nutrient Readings in parts per million (ppm). “Optimum level” doesn’t mean the same thing for all crops; some require higher levels of specific nutrients than others, so if your soiltest report only lists these levels in ppm, then you’ll need to find out what the optimum level of that specific nutrient is for the specific forage you’ll be planting or maintaining. Some reports such as the Whitetail Institute’s soil-test report, though, also provide this information in a format that’s much easier for food-plotters to understand. For example, the Whitetail Institute report’s Readings are also expressed in lbs./acre, which is more familiar to many folks, and even provides an easy-to-read bar graph that tells you in an instant whether the level of a particular nutrient in your soil is low, sufficient for the coming year, high, or even too high. Specific nutrient levels specified in most soil-test Readings include nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, magnesium, boron, copper, iron, manganese, sulfer and zinc. Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. The most important nutrients by far to most food plotters are nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K). Focus on these. They’re the “Big Three”. Calcium, magnesium, boron, copper, iron, manganese, sulfur and zinc. Other nutrient Readings you may find on your soil-test report may include calcium, magnesium, boron, copper, iron, manganese, sulfur and zinc. When the crop being planted is intended as a food plot to attract and hold deer rather than for harvest, these Readings can be largely ignored. While that’s not true in all cases, it’s true in such a majority that the role of these nutrients and the effect of their levels won’t be covered within the scope of this article. Also, as previously mentioned, calcium and/or magnesium, if low, will be addressed if the vastly more common dolomitic type of lime is used to raise soil pH. 28

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

So far, we’ve covered why soil pH and soil nutrient levels must be at (or brought up to) certain levels for the forage plants to have access to all the nutrient levels they need. Why, then, isn’t there a chart out there that says exactly how many pounds of lime should be added in all cases to raise the soil pH of all soils with the same starting soil pH to the same target soil pH? The answer reveals why when it comes to having your soil tested, a laboratory soil test is the only way to go; and it will make sense to anyone who has ever noticed that dark, bottomland soil doesn’t look like the soil in a sandy ridgetop: all soils aren’t the same. And just as they don’t look the same, not all soil types hold lime activity and nutrients as long or as well as others. For example, “heavy” soils such as clays or soils with lots of organic matter tend to hold lime activity and nutrients better than soils that are “lighter” or have a higher sand content. That’s why only a laboratory soil test can precisely tell you exactly how much lime and/or fertilizer you need. If the lab’s nutrient and soil pH Readings are below optimum, then the lab will consider what levels of nutrients are already in the soil, apply its findings as to how well (or poorly) your soil can hold lime and fertilizer activity, and develop its Recommendations accordingly — based on the unique physical characteristics of the soil in your sample. Since the laboratory’s soil structure Readings are simply sub-calculations the laboratory used in arriving at its final Recommendations, they are things you can ignore as a practical matter. If you’re still interested, though, here’s what they mean: Buffer pH. On some soil test reports, you may see “Buffer pH” listed. Buffer pH really tells you nothing. It’s simply the result of a test done at the laboratory to help it form its final Recommendations for how much lime to be added to soils with low soil pH. A liming material called a buffer solution is added to the soil sample, and the increase in soil pH is then measured and used by the laboratory in reaching its final lime Recommendation. A big jump in soil pH suggests that the soil pH of the sample is easily changed, and vice versa if the change is small. The laboratory then uses this calculation in reaching its final lime Recommendation. Organic Matter and CEC: The “Organic Matter” Reading indicates the amount of organic matter in your soil. “CEC” (Cation Exchange Capacity) is a measurement of the soil’s ability to release positively charged nutrients, or “Cations.” Together, Organic Matter and CEC tell the laboratory how well (or poorly) the soil can hold nutrients. The lab uses the Organic Matter and CEC Readings together as part of its final calculations for its Recommendations. RECOMMENDATIONS (Lime and Fertilizer) Recommendations are the most important things on a laboratory soiltest report, since they tell you what action you need to take (what you need to add to the soil) to bring it into optimum condition if planting, or to maintain optimum condition if maintaining an established forage stand. LIME If your soil pH Reading is below optimum for the forage being planted or maintained, then the soil-test report will also make a Recommendation

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as to how much lime to add to the soil to raise it. This is one of — if not the most — critical Recommendations your soil-test report will make. That’s because high-quality forages that grow best in soils with a neutral soil pH won’t be able to freely uptake soil nutrients if soil pH is low, so lime should be added to raise soil pH in such cases, if possible several months in advance of planting. Most laboratory soil-test reports will provide Recommendations for the amount of lime that needs to be added when the soil pH reading is low. Don’t be surprised if you see the lime recommendation expressed in tons per acre. (The good news is that lime is relatively inexpensive, especially when purchased in bulk.) The reason it takes so much lime to raise soil pH is that lime does its work by acting in particle to particle contact with the soil. In other words, a particle of lime needs to touch a particle of dirt to neutralize its pH. The fact that tons of lime are usually required makes more sense when you understand that and consider how many particles of dirt are in the top few inches of a one-acre seedbed. The recommended liming material to raise soil pH is crushed limestone rock. There are two types of limestone rock that are mined and then crushed for use in raising soil pH: dolomitic and calcitic. How quickly they can raise soil pH depends on whether it’s dolomitic or calcitic limestone, how finely it’s crushed, and how thoroughly it is incorporated into the soil. While both dolomitic and calcitic limestone are used as liming materials to raise soil pH, dolomitic is far more common. In fact, if you buy lime for your food plot, chances are extremely high that it will be dolomitic limestone. In most cases, dolomitic is preferable for several reasons: (A) calcitic acts more quickly, but it carries an attendant risk of over-liming, which is not presented with dolomitic; (B) dolomitic already has magnesium in it; and (C) dolomotic’s liming effect lasts longer. Whether the lime is dolomitic or calcitic, it can’t work overnight. That’s why for best results, you should try to plan ahead and, if possible, incorporate lime at least several months in advance of planting.

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FERTILIZER Most soils already have some nutrients in them, although most fallow soils usually don’t have sufficient levels for high-quality forage plants to really thrive, so we add fertilizer to the seedbed to bring those levels up. As we mentioned earlier, the “Big Three” nutrients addressed with blended fertilizers are nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. When you review the fertilizer Recommendations in your soil-test report, though, you may notice that those terms don’t appear. Instead, you’ll see similar sounding titles such as “nitrate” and “phosphate.” Don’t let that confuse you. For our purposes, just remember that nutrient Readings are shown by the names of their natural forms, and the Recommendations are for those same elements, but in compounds used in fertilizers to make those elements available to plants. Here’s how you’ll see the Big Three listed: Element Compound (Fertilizer Form) Nitrogen (N) Nitrate Phosphorous (P) Phosphate Potassium (K) Potash* * The commonly used name for potassium-compound fertilizers. Calculating fertilizer rates. Most, if not all, laboratory soil-test reports make fertilizer Recommendations in two formats: pounds per acre, and for smaller plots, pounds per 1,000 square feet. Blended fertilizers in bags are labeled with a series of three numbers separated by dashes, for example 13-13-13 and 6-24-24. In order from left to right, those numbers tell you the percentage of N, P and K in the package. The Whitetail Institute soil-test report provides a chart (Table 2) that suggests different combinations and amounts of readily available bagged fertilizers common to many areas that will satisfy the nutrient

SOIL TEST KITS Whitetail Institute

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

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


Name ________________________________________________________________

Address ______________________________________________________________

City _______________________________________State ______Zip _____________

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

Credit Card # _______________________________________ Exp. Date __________

Signature _____________________________________________________________

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

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Vol. 22, No. 1 /



Exclusive from the

Recommendations in the report. Each block may suggest one, two or three different fertilizers. It’s important to understand that each block (and everything in it) is a single option, and that all the other blocks (and everything in them) are alternatives. For example, take a look at Table 2 in this article. In the first block (highlighted in red), you can see that 10-10-10, 0-20-20 and 0-46-0 are recommended. If you can find all three of these fertilizer blends in your area, then apply all three, each in the amount (lbs./ac or lbs./1,000 sq. feet) as recommended in Table 2. If you aren’t able to locate all three of the fertilizers recommended in the first block, then go to the second block (highlighted in blue), which recommends 15-15-15, 0-20-20 and 0-46-0. Not all soil-test reports have more than one recommendation. If you can’t locate fertilizers in your area that satisfy at least one of the Table 2 blocks, then call the Whitetail Institute for additional advice.

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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1


Preparing And Sending the Soil Sample to the Laboratory Most, if not all, laboratory soil-test kits come with at least two items: a submission form, which asks you for specific information the lab will need to process the sample and prepare a precise report for you, and a container for sending in the soil you want to have tested. Submission Form. Most, if not all, submission forms ask for the same basic information, such as your name and address. Be sure to write legibly so the lab can correctly label the report for mailing. Two more things: it’s very important to tell the lab (A) whether you will be planting or maintaining a forage in the site, and (B) what that forage is. The reason is that soil pH and fertilizer requirements differ among plant types, and among those, some differ with regard to planting and maintenance. The Whitetail Institute soil-test kit also makes this step very easy. All you have to do is check a block beside either “Establishing New Field” or “Maintaining Existing Field,” and another block beside the name of the Whitetail Institute forage product you’ve chosen. Or, you can choose “other” if you have decided to plant something other than a Whitetail Institute forage product. If you haven’t completely decided on what forage you’ll be planting, you can even check up to two forage-product blocks, and the lab will provide Recommendations for both at no additional charge. Preparing the Soil Sample: Keep in mind that you’ll be sending in a relatively small amount of soil (about a pint), and that sample must be representative of all the soil in the top few inches of the entire seedbed. If you’re planning on plowing the seedbed with a moldboard plow, which inverts dirt in a column, try to do your plowing before you take your samples if possible. That way, you’ll be testing the soil in which the plants will actually be growing. Take samples one to six inches deep in 10 to 20 locations within the seedbed after scraping away plant residue from each sample location. Mix all the samples together thoroughly in a clean, plastic container. If the soil is wet, then allow it to air dry to a workable condition before packaging it. Then, put the representative sample into the soil-sample container provided in the kit. Sending the sample to the laboratory. Be sure to package the soil-sample container and the submission form together. Do not mail them separately. If you have more than one sample, it can also be a good idea to seal each sample container and its accompanying submission form in a separate shipping envelope, and then put all the sealed envelopes into one box to ship. That way, you can be sure all the samples arrived at the same time, and you can track the shipment. If you need assistance interpreting your Whitetail Institute soil-test report, or a soil-test report from any other laboratory, call the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants at (800) 688-3030. The call and advice are free. W

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By Steve Scott

Are you on the sideline or in the game?


magine it’s April 2014 and law enforcement is knocking on your door to confiscate all your guns. You see, civil unrest across the country became uncontrollable in 2012 leading up to the election. The liberals in D.C. used it as an excuse to crack down on gun owners, passing legislation that effectively eliminated the Second Amendment. Of course they used the same old “never let a crisis go to waste” method of scaring enough people into believing that taking guns away from all Americans was best for the safety of society.

and get some skin in the game, because there is strength in numbers. There are an estimated 80 to 100 million gun owners in America, yet only four million of these people are members of the NRA. That means there are 76 to 96 million people letting the four million “tote the mail.” What the heck is wrong with you people? This has to change, because the anti-gun crowd is working everyday on ways to minimize and eventually eliminate our Second Amendment rights. For $35 a year you can be a member of the NRA, the most effective group in the country at preserving our Second Amendment rights. I honestly don’t understand how at least 75 percent (really 100 percent) of gun owners aren’t passionate members of the NRA. But anyway, let’s just say we can get half the gun owners in America to join forces with the NRA. That’s 40-50 million people. Imagine the effectiveness of such a massive group of passionate people. No politician (except the fringe liberal wackos) would ever even attempt to go near our Second Amendment rights. One of the only complaints I have ever heard about being a member of the NRA is that they send all kinds of mailings asking for donations. So what? Do you have a trash can? The donations they ask for are to help pay for the fights that the NRA fights against the anti-gun crowd. But if you don’t want to donate more, that’s fine. But get off the sideline, and spend the $35 a year to join the NRA and encourage others to join us and help continue to fight the good fight so the NRA will be even more effective. Remember there is STRENGTH IN NUMBERS.

Here’s the question for you. Would you pay $35 for those at your door to go away so that you could keep your firearms and continue to protect yourself, your family and your property? Of course you would. I sure as heck hope you would. Roughly a third of Americans own guns, but some naively believe that nothing could ever happen to take their guns away. Or perhaps they’re just lackadaisical, with the false sense of security that the Second Amendment has been there for “us” for over 200 years and always will be there. If you’re one of these folks, then you need to get your head out of the sand

Become an NRA member: Website: Phone: 877-NRA-2000 Mail: NRA Processing Center P.O. Box 420648 Palm Coast, FL 32142


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

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For pure tonnage, palatability and overall benefits, few food plot offerings excel like brassicas.

By Joe Blake Photos by the Author

The morning sun had warmed considerably, and the frost had all but disappeared from the edges of the field of brassicas stretched out in front of me. By 10:30 a.m. I was getting drowsy and needed to perk up a little, so I stood, stretched, and eased my rattling antlers from the cut limb where they had been hanging since well before daylight. Scanning the surrounding oak woods one last time to make sure no deer were moving close by, I clashed the bone together with as much force as I could muster, and then began twisting and turning the pair together to simulate a couple of angry white-

tails engaged in a pre-rut challenge. Returning the rack to its resting place I grunted aggressively several times before slipping the call back inside my wool jacket and wrapping my left hand around the familiar, worn, elk-hide grip of my 60-pound longbow. Long moments passed. A red-tailed hawk soared overhead, backed by azure-blue skies; a beaver thumped his disproval of my racket and disappeared into the depths of the pond behind me; and somewhere off to my right a stick cracked under the weight of a heavy hoof. Turning in that direction and swinging my bent

The author is checking out a field of Tall Tine Turnips on his Minnesota farm; notice the tonnage available from the tall, green 'salad' in early fall.


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

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stick around I saw for the first time the tawny, muscular form and dark, mahogany antlers of the mature buck as he stalked the source of the battle he had heard. At 25 yards he turned on the trail that paralleled the field of brassicas and came steadily in my direction; as he did I tried to ignore his heavy rack and tall, bladed tines. Scanning his line of advancement, I picked out a big pin oak at six yards: this would be my opportunity to draw, and as the trophy deer’s head disappeared behind the gnarly, old trunk I brought my longbow to bear. This hunt took place in late October in my home state of Minnesota, and reminds me of why brassicas are my favorite food plot offering. Despite above-average temperatures and a late, sunny morning, the heavy-horned buck mentioned was still cruising the downwind edge of my Tall Tine Tubers field looking for does… and with good reason. Does, fawns, and small bucks were in the field at first light and throughout the morning, offering a perfect attractant to amorous bucks on the prowl. After first planting a small field of Winter-Greens two years ago, brassicas have become a staple in my management plan for the 1,200 acres I oversee here at home and this is why.


EASY DOES IT Brassicas are easy to establish and grow with a minimal amount of effort. Here in Minnesota I usually plant my brassica plots in late July or early August, yet even with this late start the fields are one or even twofeet tall by mid-September when bow season opens. Name me one other planting with that type of incredible growth. And brassicas don’t need expensive drills or planters. The seeds need only make good contact with the soil, so hand-seeding or a hand-held or ATV-mounted spreader work perfectly. Once a field is worked, it is important to firm up the seed bed. I use a cultipacker pulled behind the tractor that I use on all my food plots, then simply broadcast the seeds on top and watch them grow. I’ve had great success with the above steps, but this past year I started running the cultipacker over the fields immediately after seeding to ‘push’ the seed firmly to contact the dirt, and this seems to improve things even more. Either way, brassicas are easy to plant and fast growers. TONNAGE, TONNAGE, TONNAGE As mentioned, brassicas are extremely fast growers, and the leaves alone provide tons of highly desirable food for area whitetails. If you are planting brassicas such as turnips, the tonnage increases even more because of the tubers in the ground. Even after the leaves are eaten, the tubers continue to grow until cold weather settles in to stay, providing even more tonnage for hungry deer during the last season. Generally, brassicas become more palatable to deer after a good frost or two, so they are allowed to grow tall and thick for at least the first few weeks of their growing season, but after that — watch out. The first year I planted brassicas I tried Winter-Greens in a small plot across the meadow about 250 yards from my house, and as soon as we had one frost the deer poured into the field each and every night, reducing the foot-tall stand of leafy salad to nothing but black dirt. Every evening we could watch anywhere from 10 to 20 whitetails fill up the food plot — and then fill up their bellies. The only negative was that the herd devoured the field so quickly there was literally nothing left once bow season rolled around, a problem I have remedied ever since by planting larger fields. SALADS ON A BUDGET As seed goes, brassicas are relatively inexpensive to buy, to maintain and make flourish. Compared to many other food plot offerings, brassicas are a bargain, especially when you consider how much tonnage they provide. And it isn’t just the cost of the seed that offers savings: because

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themselves, slowly at first but with increased ravenous intensity as cold weather settles in. As more and more deer start feeding on the remaining ‘salad’, your plots will look like minefields as the deer paw and kick and bite at the dirt to expose and eat the remaining tubers. Last year I had a two-acre field of Tall Tine Tubers that got buried by three-feet of snow early, so the deer moved off it once they couldn’t dig down to the tubers. But when the snow melted in the spring, they were right back at it. I have actually found that brassica plots make great places to look for shed antlers. If there are any tubers remaining after winter’s cold and snow recedes, the deer will clean up the rest of their ‘salad’ and often leave their headgear behind in return.

The author often pulls up a few turnips and slices them into pieces where deer commonly enter a field... this often gets the deer feeding on the tubers early.


sicas such as Winter-Greens and Tall Tines Tubers grow so quickly, they immediately shade-out competing vegetation, making expensive herbicides unnecessary. I have never sprayed any of my fields of brassicas and have not had one field overrun with weeds or grasses, which leads to another cost-saving benefit: because the deer will eventually eat the field down to bare dirt, and because there is little or no competing vegetation, your food plot will be much easier and quicker to work the following spring. Of course, you may live in an area where the soil is richer or poorer than it is around here, so lime and/or fertilizer may be necessary for your salad plots to reach their maximum potential, so my advice would always be to take a soil sample before planting. The Whitetail Institute provides soil test kits and the recommendations are easy to understand and follow. After applying what the soil tests recommended this past year, I had plants that were two-feet tall and turnips the size of softballs filling my three fields. As I write this in late December, all of my fields have been eaten right down to dirt, but the huge turnips remain and the area whitetails are really hammering the sweet tubers now.

ground and start hammering them during early bow season. This makes for a dynamite ambush spot from mid-September all the way up to the rut in my neighborhood. After which comes punch number two: as soon as all the brassica leaves are cleaned up the deer start nipping the tops off the tubers

As mentioned, brassicas are fast and easy to establish and provide loads of high-quality food for your deer herd, but as with any food plot offerings there are a couple points to remember. First, no matter how tempting it may be after you see how the deer respond to your brassica plots, don’t want to continually plant brassicas in the same fields year after year. If you do, you will see a noticeable decline in your plots, so rotating in other offerings is important to keep your plots producing at the highest level. Second, I found out this year that well-drained soils are preferred by brassicas. We had a tremendous amount of snow last winter and a cold, wet spring and early summer. I planted a new field that was fairly low along the edge of a cattail slough with Winter-Greens and they

The author is shown filling his broadcast spreader with Winter-Greens.

ONE, TWO PUNCH Probably the thing I like most about brassicas is the one-two punch they offer: first, deer become attracted to the leafy greens above 36

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

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Cultipacking or dragging the field before and after spreading your “whitetail salad” seeds helps ensure a great plot.

Whitetail Institute

came up fast like always but never amounted to much and actually turned yellow and purple by early fall. A call to the experts at the Whitetail Institute revealed the problem: too much moisture on already wet soil. Of course, no one can control Mother Nature, but from now on I’ll plant my brassicas in well-drained fields, like the one bordering the strip of oaks in the opening story. As the big buck’s head disappeared briefly behind the oak trunk I brought my longbow up and started to draw, but something stopped me; and as the big deer’s vitals came into view, I relaxed the tension on the string and watched the deer make his way out into the field of Tall Tine Tubers, wolf down several mouthfuls of the leafy planting, and then trot off to the west looking for love. Although the buck was mature and had a heavy rack, I had a long history with this deer with lots of trail cam photos and several sightings, and I knew there were several bigger deer in the immediate area. I also knew that at any moment one of these giants could make a visit to my personal Whitetail Salad bar. AUTHOR’S NOTES If you have any questions, concerns, or comments about your brassica plots, or any other management issues for that matter, give the good folks at the Whitetail Institute a call or visit them on-line. They have been a huge part of the successes I’ve enjoyed managing properties for wildlife and they will be more than happy to do the same for you. Give them a call at (800) 6883030 or visit them on-line at You’ll be glad you did… and so will your deer! W

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Brent VanHoveln — Illinois 

In my hunting area here in Illinois, everything is virtually the same, agriculture fields and woods. We are blessed that whitetails have their choice of plenty of nutritious foods. I have found that if you give them a choice of something else they like that is not readily available, such as Whitetail Institute products, and choose the right planting site that allows the deer to feel comfortable feeding during anytime of the day or night, you have now given yourself a big advantage. Deer are by nature curious and just like humans they like different things. By providing them with a lush new food source that is not in every farmer’s field, it peaks both their curiosity and their appetite. Just like you wouldn’t want to eat the same food every day, I am convinced that deer don’t, either. They love to browse on new green growth. Whitetail Institute products have been around a long time (more than 20 years). Why? Quite simply THEY WORK! Now I don’t know all the scientific research that goes into their products


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

 and I probably wouldn’t understand half of it anyway. All I know is that they got it figured out and my deer and I along with many other hunters are benefitting from their hard work and I want to thank them. I would also like to mention this about hunting around food plots. I try not to hunt directly over any one food plot too often. If I do hunt over one in the evening I always have someone come and “extract me” as we call it so the deer don’t see me climbing down from a tree or out of a ground blind that they just walked by. I think that unnerves a lot of deer and they become much more suspicious making them harder to harvest. By “extract” I mean after the evening hunt, if there are deer still in your plots have someone drive a truck or 4-wheeler out to your plot to let the deer see that and run off instead of you climbing out of a tree and walking across their dinner table. They won’t be as scared and this will allow you to be able to sneak out without the deer really knowing you were there. Most of the time based on my experiences and trail cam pictures, within an hour or sometimes less the same deer are right back feeding after they hear the truck drive out of the field. I wanted to send some pictures of our bucks from last season and a little story about each one. The first two pictures are of a beautiful 160inch buck that grew all summer eating on a plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover. Notice how healthy and fat he looks. Healthy bodies translate into big antlers. Deer have to be well fed before they can ever reach their genetic potential to produce big racks or healthy fawns. With the high protein levels in Whitetail Clover and Chicory Plus I think

Whitetail Institute hit a home run with these products. I got more than 20 pictures of this buck from late July when I finally put out my camera over the Imperial Whitetail Clover plot. He was there virtually every night. Then on Nov. 6 I was fortunate enough to harvest this buck with my bow less than 200 yards from this plot as he was heading back to bed down for the day. The third photo is of my good friend George Huston and an incredible buck he shot with his bow. Ironically George shot this buck out of the same tree stand I had shot mine out of just 10 days before. George’s bucks grossed right at 190-inch as a basic 10 point. It took best of show at the Illinois Deer Classic in the 11 point and under category. George is always helping me plant my food plots and overall property management so it was great for both of us to be able to reap the rewards of all our year round efforts. Thanks Whitetail Institute for continuing to produce the best food plot products out there. P.S. We are getting some more great bucks in this same plot this year, so I hope to have a sequel to this story for the upcoming season.

Toney Soard Jr. — Kentucky I shot this buck going to a field of Imperial Whitetail Clover. I’ve used Whitetail Institute products since 1988. Since then I’ve seen better quality whitetails. Bigger antlers and mass. Whitetail Institute products are the best.

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Thomas Johnson — Virginia I have used Imperial Whitetail Clover and 3006 Mineral/Vitamin Supplement for the past 10 years. This year I am also trying Tall Tine Tubers. The deer have started eating them since the weather is starting to get cold. I am sending you a photo of a nice buck I killed opening day of muzzleloading season in Virginia. This buck had 19 points at least 1 inch long. The lengths of the beams are 27 6/8, and 27 2/8 inches. Circumferences of burr are 8 6/8 and 9 0/8. Outside spread is 23 2/8. The Virginia green score was 220 6/8.

bucks in the 130 to 140 range. I can’t believe the increase in the size of the deer I see every year. I am truly hooked on food plots and Whitetail Institute products. Whitetail Institute really can make a hunters dreams come true.

Larry Lallithan — Ohio

Mark Hoffman — Wisconsin I own 68 acres in Central Wisconsin. I bought the land in October 20 years ago. The next year I hunted it and there were a lot of deer. Small bucks, does and fawns were prominent at the time. I was lucky in the next few years if I saw an

8-point with a 12-inch spread. About 10 years ago I cleared one square acre of land somewhat in the middle of my property. I planted Imperial Clover and Alfa-Rack. They grew fantastically. Two or three years later with my bow I shot a 140-inch 8-point with an 18-inch spread and a weight of 186 pounds. I have seen several bucks that are 8- to 12-pointers with 18-inch spreads every year. I also shot a 10 point 137-inch buck, 183 pounds two years ago. Deer are fewer now because the DNR wants the numbers down, but I still see great bucks every year. I have used Extreme, Chicory Plus, No-Plow and Winter-Greens with good to excellent results. Cutting Edge Optimize is the best. The deer just gobble it up and you can see it really works on all deer. This coming year I can’t wait to try Tall Tine Tubers. Thanks Whitetail Institute for the great products that really grow bigger and healthier deer. Keep up all the great work. Enclosed are the pictures of the two of the deer that I mentioned earlier.

Danny Demers — New Jersey I have a small track of 87.9 acres. Originally I was not a believer in food plots but my buddy talked me into putting one in so I put in the Imperial Whitetail Clover first. That year I took one of my nicest bucks ever. That made me a believer. Now I have about eight acres of food plots planted on my land. I have seen an increase in the deer I hold on my land. Every year I see three or four big bucks on my land. I have seen an increase in the amount of does using my food plots and as we all know they bring in the bucks. In the past 7 years I have taken four

I first started using Whitetail Institute products on some family owned property. We immediately started seeing more deer in the areas of the food plots. I have used almost every product Whitetail Institute has but the deer really seem to favor the Imperial Whitetail Clover for year round use. Pure Attraction is also one of my favorites. It seems like the deer just can’t get to the Pure Attraction plots quick enough once we get the first hard frost of fall. My largest buck to date, a 172-inch 12-point, was shot only a few yards away from the first plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover I ever planted. I’ve been blessed to take a few nice bucks over the years since I began using these products (see the enclosed photos) and there are still more showing up every year.

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(Continued on page 61) Vol. 22, No. 1 /



By Matt Harper Photos by the Author


scending to the ranks of professional sports is an accomplishment attained by very few. It takes a combination of natural ability, good genetics, incredible effort and focus in honing one’s physical skills—and maybe even a dash of luck. Even more rare are those handful of special athletes who made it to the big time in more than one sport. The natural athletic talent found in people such as Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders that gave them the ability to compete in both professional baseball and football (and do it pretty well) is more than just unique.

Although, there are those that would argue that this is really not all that incredible since many of the same physical abilities are needed to excel in different sports. Speed, hand-eye coordination, strength, endurance and so on are attributes common among most sporting activities. But to reach the professional level in any sporting endeavor, nearly all athletes find themselves at a point in their career where they realize that to achieve the highest level of performance they must doggedly practice and focus on the particular skills their chosen sport requires. Would Aaron Rogers or Tom Brady have been good baseball or basketball players? Probably, because like most professional sports figures, Rogers and Brady are natural athletes. But to become great and to make it to the pinnacle of their chosen sport, they made a decision to hone the specific skills they needed to push

them to greatness. I have had the fortune of taking some pretty good deer through the years. To harvest good deer one must work on the game strategy (reading sign, planning tree stand locations etc.), perfect the necessary skills (making sure you can hit what you aim at) and have a good bit of luck on your side. But even with all of these things, there must be good deer where you are hunting in order to harvest them. This last piece of the puzzle comes as a result of diligent management. When I tell people that I live in southern Iowa, the normal response is something like, “well, it’s no wonder you kill big deer, they are all corn fed.” While admittedly Iowa is a great place for deer hunting, to simply rely on the agricultural practices around you to produce great deer can result in “OK” results— let’s call it minor league Single A results. But to get to the

Diversity is key when planting food plots where diversity is not a key consideration for farmers


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majors where you have good deer year after year on your property, you can’t just rely on your neighbor’s corn fields. You must approach the management of your hunting land as a professional athlete approaches the perfection of his or her skills needed to play at the highest levels. THE RELATIONSHIP OF AGRICULTURE AND DEER HABITAT Unquestionably, deer that call farmland their home derive benefit from the grain and hay fields planted by the local farmers. When combined with sound herd management practices, the nutrition derived from agricultural fields will help produce a deer herd the quality of which typically exceeds that of deer found in non-agricultural areas. However, I can name countless examples of properties that, through the use of food plots, have produced deer that will rival any deer found in the Corn Belt. In fact, on many of these properties, the quality of deer exceeded that of their farmland brethren especially when compared to farms that did not practice deer management. When you target the specific nutritional needs of whitetail deer and grow food sources on a property that are intended solely for deer utilization, you can’t help but improve the quality of deer on that property. This is true whether or not the property is located in agricultural country. Agricultural agronomics, regardless of the crop, are dictated by production goals of the farmer. The type of crop planted, the varieties used, timing of harvest etc. are all decisions that are made with the goal of maximizing the economic return of the crop. In most instances there is little or no thought given to how the farming practices will affect the deer herd. For example, we know that diversification of habitat

and food sources are good deer management practices. But if the rotation calls for planting all the crop fields to corn, that is what is going to happen even though it does not offer diversification. Let’s say a farm may have good diversification with grain crops and alfalfa fields, but because of the high price of corn, the farmer decides to till up the hay field and plant it to corn also. The farmer is making these decisions on what to plant/grow in order to maximize the farm’s income just like any other business owner would do. One might think that corn would be beneficial to the deer herd as a carbohydrate source to meet energy needs during fall and winter months. If the corn was available to the deer herd during the fall and winter it indeed would be a great source of carbohydrates. The problem is that corn is harvested between September and November (depending on where you are in the country), leaving little or no corn left during the most nutritionally stressful winter months. You may argue that waste crops or grains that were lost in the harvest would supply deer with a good food source. Again, it is true that any grain that the combine missed will be a good food source but most people overestimate the amount of grain left lying on the ground after harvest. Equipment manufacturers and farmers both know that waste grains are the same as money thrown away, so equipment is designed to capture nearly all the grain, and farmers utilize harvesting practices that will make sure they don’t lose a large amount of their crop. In other words, if you are going to sell or buy a $300,000 combine you’re probably going to make sure it doesn’t miss much of the grain. I will admit that there are times when a field may appear to have abundant waste, but if you went The Imperial Winter-Greens and Whitetail Oats in the foreground will still be available long after the corn field in the back ground has been harvested.

out there with a bucket and tried to pick it up, you would be hard pressed to find enough to feed a deer herd thru the winter. Furthermore, deer are not the only animals looking for waste crops. Turkey, crows, geese, raccoons and a host of other animals are out picking up the scraps as well. From a nutritional perspective, some agricultural crops can supply needed nutrients to the deer herd. Soybean fields for example are often browsed by deer, and they contain good levels of protein. However, digestibility varies depending on the maturity of the soybean plant. Corn is sometimes nipped off by deer when it is very young, but for the most part, deer eat the actual ear produced by the plant and not the plant itself. Deer require high levels of protein and other nutrients during the spring and summer months when bucks are growing antlers and does are lactating. Considering that corn is fairly low in protein and that the ear is not formed until late summer, a corn field will supply little nutrition during the vital spring and summer months. Hay fields, planted to alfalfa or clover can be nutritionally beneficial to the deer herd. Keep in mind, however, that the varieties used are designed primarily to be used as hay for cattle. These varieties are designed to grow and mature quickly and produce large amounts of tonnage. This rapid growth must be supported by a sturdy plant stem. Because of their large rumen, cattle have the ability to utilize both the leaf and the stem of a hay crop. Deer on the other hand, being small ruminants, require a much more digestible forage and have little ability to digest stems and/or mature vegetation. Therefore, deer benefit from hay fields mostly when they consist of short vegetative plants. As the field grows, digestibility decreases along with the benefit to the deer herd. Furthermore, most agricultural hay fields are a combination of legumes (alfalfa, clover etc.) and grasses such as orchard grass, timothy and so on. Grasses tend to not be preferred by deer as they lack the more highly digestible leaf of a legume and are higher in fibrous compounds that deer have difficulty digesting. Cattle, with their large rumen, can utilize grasses very well and in fact a legume/grass hay is typically more preferred for cattle than a straight legume crop. HOW FOOD PLOTS WORK IN FARM COUNTRY I have had many people ask me how food plots would work when their hunting property is surrounded by agricultural fields. Why would deer come to a food plot when they have all the food they want elsewhere? The answer is that your success of drawing and holding deer in the midst of thousands of acres of farm fields is a matter of variety selection, food plot location, plot management and human pressure. Plot


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location is important in that if deer feel secure using a food plot, they will use that plot more than a neighboring field where they don’t feel as secure. Security comes from being close to escape cover, so a plot that is surrounded partially or completely by cover will greatly encourage deer usage. Human pressure also affects the amount of usage your food plots receive, again due to a matter of security felt by the deer herd. Minimizing human pressure by strategically planning food plot locations and stand locations along with using sanctuary zones on your property will greatly increase deer usage on your food plots. Choosing the right food plot varieties is also a major key to drawing and holding deer on your property. Merely borrowing varieties from the agricultural sector, whether or not they have been renamed as “deer food plot seed,” will probably not give you the desired results. One may argue that planting corn or soybeans in food plots, even though they are agricultural

crops, will draw deer to those plots. I don’t disagree that corn and beans will attract deer, but deeper thought into that plan will reveal a few problems. First, remember the goal is not just to draw deer onto your property during the fall, but rather to encourage deer to use your property all year long. Something different and more preferred by deer can help accomplish this goal. Year-round, attractive food sources will increase the odds your property will become a core area or home range. Furthermore, just attracting deer is not the total goal.

This deer was taken on the author’s farm which is surrounded by agricultural fields. With good management practices, deer utilized the author’s farm more than the neighboring farms.

The corn fields are bare of ears in the winter, but these deer still find brassicas under the snow.


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

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We are also trying to provide nutrients that will maximize the quality of the herd. In order to accomplish this, the property must contain food sources that provide needed nutrients throughout the year, not just for a specific time frame. Corn and beans can be part of your food plot program, but should be only that— a part of the total plan. The backbone of my food plot program is perennial legumes. Being perennials, these food plots provide a consistent food source year after year and are the main source of spring and summer nutrition. The products I incorporate in my perennial food plot program are Imperial Clover, AlfaRack Plus and Extreme, with soil type determining which product I use in a specific location. Why wouldn’t I use a standard hay variety red clover or alfalfa? They are certainly readily available and competitively priced although not necessarily always cheaper. I use the Whitetail Institute perennials because they are designed specifically for whitetail deer. In fact, unique to Whitetail Institute perennials is that they contain certain varieties that are genetically developed specifically for whitetail deer. What this means to me as a property manager is that the perennials I am using in my food plot program contain traits that trump agricultural varieties in both attractiveness and nutrition. In southern Iowa, I have hay/alfalfa fields all around me, and I even have alfalfa fields right on our farm. Deer consistently use my food plots more aggressively than the hay fields because of the variety characteristics we discussed early in the article. The Whitetail Institute products are designed to be heavily leafed, thin stemmed and remain vegetative for a long period of time. Furthermore, Whitetail Institute perennials are higher in protein and digestible energy than commonly used hay variety perennials. The second part of a good food plot program in farm country is the utilization of annuals. Where the contribution of perennials is more broad based, annuals are used to pinpoint specific food source management goals. For example, I plant several acres of Winter-Greens, soybeans and occasional corn for a late fall/winter food source when my perennials go dormant in the winter. These plots are primarily designed to supply carbohydrate-sourced energy. Since my neighbors have typically harvested their crops by then, it is important to make sure you plant adequate acres of winter food as you will likely have most of the deer in the area visiting your plots. I also use annuals such as oats and wheat or blends such as Pure Attraction to target certain time frames such as mid to late fall. These annuals also work well in rotational programs when I’m transitioning fields out of perennials. As you can see, I have a great diversity of food sources on my property. Diversity is critical when it comes to whitetail habitat and most agricultural operations lack diversification. One year the fields may be planted to all corn, the next soybeans or even some of both; but compared to my farm, the neighbor’s farms are like a pitcher that only has a fast ball.

as key to “Power Scrape w ck.” patterning this bu – Jason Cleveland

CONCLUSION Peruse the Boone and Crocket or Pope and Young record books and it becomes very apparent that farmland deer are the benefactors of good soil and agricultural crops. But with some management strategies targeted toward a deer’s needs you can raise your game to a whole new level. If you have ever wondered how people consistently produce great deer on their property while neighboring properties only occasionally achieve these results, the answer is most often a specifically designed management plan. Of course that is easy to say and what else would you expect me to say since we are talking deer management. I can back this statement up, however, using my own farm as an example. In the past four years I have harvested a 150, 162, 170 and a 193 and I can tell you it is not because I am some mystical deer hunting guru. I simply have put a management plan in place that consistently produces a quantity of quality deer that are above average even in farm country. For comparison, before I started managing my farms, I had harvested one buck more than 150 inches in the previous 10 years of hunting. W

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know some truly good deer hunters. Men who gather a little information about a good buck, let it percolate awhile, come up with a game plan, and then kill the deer. I am not one of these people.

By Scott Bestul Photos by the Author


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

I have a handful of pretty nice whitetail heads on my wall, and they all share a common thread; they are the result of a generous friend or a kindly neighbor who gave me access to their property. Sure I hang my own stands and burn my share of time sitting in them, but when a great buck shows up I am, frankly, a little shocked. I have whiled away too many hours watching empty trails to kid myself about possessing unusual skill or cunning strategy. So that’s the deep background for a hunt on a late-September evening just a couple falls back. The woods were lush and sweet, still smelling of summer, when I heard whitetail hooves, pounding dirt‌a distinct thumping that you hear during the rut, but rarely in those pre-

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cious early weeks of fall that we still call “Indian Summer” here in the Midwest. But there was little doubt; there was more than one deer, coming fast, downhill and right toward me. Three bucks showed at first, two 6-points that had to be twins, then a tall, thin 8, wearing his second rack and feeling proud. The little guys juked heads when they hit the bottom of the hill, playing like fawns, then feeling macho and squaring off to spar. The two-year old cocked his head and stared at them like a teenager does when he sees a pair of little kids shove each other on the playground. Then something behind him caught his attention. By the time he pointed his nose back uphill I heard it; another deer, trotting like the others. I gulped hard as soon as the fourth buck hit the bottom of the slope. Buck Four was one of the few I’ve ever had trail cam photos of and, later, recognized instantly in the field. My mouth went paper-dry when I connected the dots. I whispered “the Big 10” and I reached for my bow. I also heard a slight squeak, far below me. The legs of the tripod stand, wobbling. I winced and then grinned. Knocking knees—still a curse after 35 years of bowhunting. The property I was hunting, tucked in the bottom-right corner of Minnesota, wasn’t large but it was in the right neighborhood. It was also,


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

The author had several photos of his monster buck.

conveniently, a recent purchase of my neighbor and close friend, Dave Olson. Oddly, Dave invited me to hunt the place for no other reason than my ability to stand around and scratch my head. Shortly after closing on the rugged 80

acres, Dave invited me to “come down and look at things. You know, give me some ideas about stuff to do and how to hunt it.” So we’d drive down to “The 80” walk around, and look at “stuff.” When we’d pause, I’d lift my hat, massage my graying hair, and give my unprofessional two cents about where to stick a stand or plant a food plot. My neighbor, you see, lives with the delusion that I know something about bowhunting because I write about it for a living. I try to convince my friend that this is like believing a pimple-faced teenager knows something about music because you see him on an album cover. But he remains unmoved. But by the end of spring we’d already had spent a lot of hours on The 80, making plans for fall. First there was just a lot of walking around and more head-scratching. Dave and I found old rubs, mused about funnels and pondered bedding areas. It was a neat chance to play the role of landowner; looking at a property, deciding its shortcomings, and deciding what to do about them. Many places I hunt you simply play the hand you’re dealt. So we started with some obvious steps, like hanging stands. Dave had actually hunted the property for many seasons before buying it, so we stuck some platforms up in traditional hotspots. Then we explored new areas and created sets based on two criteria; first, closerange bowhunting ambushes, and second, comfy places where Dave could place his three children during firearms season. Dave has three daughters (actually young women) who not only like to deer hunt; but are attractive, smart, and good natured. Sorry, younger readers, they are all currently taken. Did I mention those girls also grew up on a

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When a guy like that says a buck is “pretty good,� you run to look at the photo. At first we thought it was an 8-pointer. Dave’s first photos of the giant were from 20 yards out, a long shot for any trail camera, and we couldn’t spot a G-4 on either beam. The rest of the rack, however, did its best to make up for that deficiency. Long, sweeping brows looked like a pair of bananas, the beams were velvet-covered bat handles, and the buck’s torso and shoulders seemed a broad slab. In that first photo the buck is silhouetted by dawn sunlight and almost appears spectral; as if someone had photoshopped it — just to tease a pair of slobbering deer nerds. Dave and I have monkeyed with trail cams long enough to know a one-shot buck is far more likely than a perpetual poser, so we just chuckled in appreciation. “Probably the last time we see him,� was our consensus. Thankfully we were wrong. In the weeks separating midsummer and the September archery opener, that buck morphed into a runway model. And like so many college football teams, he switched dairy farm? If you’re familiar with this particular breed of agri-business, you know that no farmer works harder. It also means that when it’s time to clear, plant and maintain food plots, there is no shortage of knowledge or heavy equipment. We’d identified four areas that might grow deer food during our spring walks, and by early summer we had started spraying weeds, clearing brush, and tilling ground. Dave operated the heavy equipment (a John Deere tractor that he drove places where angels fear to tread) while I did menial labor like spraying Roundup from an ATV and picking rocks. By the way, I am something of an expert rock-picker, having swapped that sweaty, spine-crunching task for bowhunting permission for many years. We used a lot of Whitetail Institute products, and as those little green things started to sprout in our food plots, we decided to stick some trail cameras out. Dave knew that technology is one area where I really shine, as I can identify a AA battery from a D-cell, and have learned that you need to hit the “on� button to optimize the performance of electronic devices. So I helped place surveillance gear, and swapped cards and viewed the photos that might indicate nice deer were about. We didn’t have to scan many to notice a couple shooter bucks, and then one day Dave called to say he had a picture of “a pretty good deer that I think you should see.� I should be clear on this; Dave’s capacity for understatement is something of a running gag in my family. My friend could hold the title to a NASCAR champion auto and, only if pressed, admit “it’s got a little juice under the hood.� And this is more than simple Minnesota modesty. If Dave sensed you disagreed with him even slightly, he would—not wanting to appear braggy—blush, shrug and retract his statement.






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Vol. 22, No. 1 /



conferences, dropping the Big 8 and defecting to the Big 10 by growing a smallish pair of G-4’s. Another buck—a 3-year old 10-point—liked to run with him, and snuck into most of the pics we gathered. He was a shooter, too, though he looked kind of miserable standing by such a specimen. But as we learned the Big 10 seemed to be calling The 80 home, my discomfort grew. From the get-go Dave had insisted we’d hunt the spot together, something I was thrilled to do until the Big 10 went Hollywood on us. Our cameras racked up multiple daytime photos of the buck and I knew he was killable, so I wanted my friend to claim honors. It was, after all, his farm and I could think of nothing neater than to see my buddy—who slips in hunts between milking cows and a fall full of hectic field work—put his tag on such a deer. So when the opener arrived I spent the weekend on another farm. But three days later Dave called. “I’m heading for The 80 this afternoon,” he said. “What time should I pick you up?” I considered making up an excuse, but decided to just come clean. “Well, I’m not sure I should go.” “Too busy with work?” “Well, not really,” I stammered. “I just think you should hunt it alone for awhile. You know, try to kill that big one.” “That’s silly,” my friend snorted. “What are the chances we’ll even see him? And we both know that if one of us spots him, we’re only gonna get one shot. Whoever gets it better take it, and I’d be mad if you let him walk. I’ll be there in a half hour.” It was windy enough that Dave had to muscle the steering wheel as we drove to The 80. And it was cold for September, with dark clouds that promised rain later that night. We chit-chatted 50

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

until we neared the property, then discussed strategy. Dave decided he’d pop up a stand close to where he took the first photo of The Big 10. The buck sign there was as good as I’d seen it less than a month after velvet-shed. I decided to hunt one of the food plots in a tripod stand we’d hauled down a steep logging road and tucked up against an apple tree. The tripod was there for the express purpose of providing comfort for Dave’s daughters, and at the time it seemed the least likely place to shoot any mature deer — much less the mature deer we both had on our minds. Of course, bowhunting is a sport full of irony. We can spend untold hours and countless days strategizing an encounter with a big buck—any

big buck—and eat our tag. I went out of my way to avoid a specific deer and he ran to me like a puppy dog. When I heard, then spotted, The Big 10 gallop down to join the three bucks dorking around on the edge of the food plot, I knew I was witnessing a surreal moment. And it just got funkier after finishing their sparring match, the young bucks walked purposefully toward another food plot, staying well out of bow range. The two-year old followed, and of course I fully expected The Big 10 to assume caboose position in the train. Instead, he watched the youngsters depart. Then he lowered his head, walked into my food plot, and began feeding toward the tripod stand. I’ve been lucky enough to watch a few dandy bucks approach while I have a bow in hand. My reactions have ranged from outright idiocy to controlled jitters. Thankfully, the Big 10 was ambling so slowly toward me I had time to draw slowly and have a little talk with myself. There was a small island of rock and brush in the middle of the plot that I’d ranged at 35 steps, and when the buck buried his head in b r a s s i c a s between me and the brush, I buried my sight pin behind his shoulder. Then I let out my breath and touched the release. On those rare days when I do kill a big whitetail, I have a little tradition. First I take a picture. That’s for me; it captures the hunt better than taxidermy. And then, only because it will make them mad if I don’t do so, I drive the buck around to show a handful of close friends. Of course there is back-slapping and hand-shaking and antler-fondling at each stop. But I always find myself oddly detached during these celebrations, when I look down at a beautiful big deer and wonder “how did that thing get in the back of my truck?” But this time was different, because this time I knew exactly why the biggest buck I had killed—and perhaps ever would kill—was wearing my tag. The Big 10 was in my truck for no other reason than I was lucky enough to call Dave Olson my friend. W

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(Continued from page 21)

I will be adding a fall planting of Winter-Greens. Thanks Whitetail Institute for your incredible product line.

Billy Norris — Maryland

bucks over 150 inches! We have planted Extreme and we also use the 30-06 mineral year round.

Thomas Baker — New York

I have owned my farm in Kent County, MD for seven years now and have finally gotten my food plots correctly established. My son, Miles, and I have been practicing QDM and it is paying off. We have seen a noticeable improvement in the quality of our herd since beginning to use Whitetail institute products! I harvested this 5 to 6 year old 12-pointer with 24-inch inside spread on the second to last day of last year’s shotgun season over our 3 acre Imperial Clover Food plot! I enjoy Whitetail Institute’s website and Whitetail News and thought I would show the results of what I have learned from Whitetail Institute’s advice, products and stories! I’ve moved the game cam to my Alfa-Rack Plus plot, and I just finished preparing and planting my field behind my house (about twoplus acres) in Imperial Whitetail Clover. Planted on June 15 due to a really wet spring. It’s up out of the ground today, June 18. Thanks Whitetail institute for your products and advice!

Danny Wahl — Missouri

Imperial Whitetail Clover is by far the product I use most. In only two years I went from seeing three to five deer in a week to seeing three to five deer daily. I highly recommend this product! I also use many other Whitetail Institute products. This year I added Tall Tine Tubers and it has just now gotten cold enough to turn the deer on to it and it looks like hogs have rooted up these turnips. It is a great food source to build the health back up after the rut. I am all tagged out, or I would be sitting on the Tall Tine Tubers plot now! The size of my bucks are getting better and bigger! Enclosed is a picture of me and my best buck yet. I took him last season, and he scores 169 4/8. The other picture is of my son Colt’s first buck.

Darin Uhlir — Nebraska Our ranch was always a good wildlife destination. We would have several nice bucks around each year in the fall. As a young hunter growing up in the late 1970s getting a shot at a buck over 125-inch was something very special. We started putting in more and bigger food plots about 12 years ago. Started using Extreme, Winter-Greens and 30-06 Mineral. Since then we watched our buck body size and antler scores get bigger each year. We were also able to see a lot of

We live in western New York and have 80 acres surrounding our home. We purchased this property about 10 years ago at which time I tested the soil where I planned to create food plots. After several tons of bagged, pelletized lime and many aches and pains later, I finally got the pH at a level I was comfortable with. Now came the challenge of what to plant! “So many products” and “so many claims.” After about three years a friend of mine put me on to Imperial Whitetail Clover which has worked extremely well as a year round perennial, sustainable crop. I still had the challenge of what to plant in a 2-acre plot I had dedicated to plant an annual. I tried other Whitetail Institute products which have worked well to build a sustained deer population, but none has worked as well as WinterGreens and Tall Tine Tubers. The attached picture taken the end of January this past year, shows the Winter-Greens food plot and the effort the deer make to dig for them even in the harshest conditions. There were 27 deer in the food plot but they were too spread out to get them all in one picture. I thought the photos would be interesting because most pictures are usually of deer standing in lush, green plots with no effort to eat.

Jim Halley — Virginia This buck is number three in a row that I have killed over my Imperial Whitetail Clover. Another 3-1/2 year old. He is an 11-pointer that scored 158 6/8 inches with 4 inches of antler broken off. I’ve let a big 8 and a 12-pointer go that should be awesome next year. Plus four other 2-year52

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

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would take more than three to four paragraphs to explain how great the Whitetail Institute products work for us. And the pictures would be numerous of past deer. From our 30-06 Mineral sites which are 20 feet x 20 feet x 3 feet deep now, to our plots of Imperial Whitetail Clover, Chicory Plus and Winter-Greens. The health of our deer, well, you be the judge of my brute from last year.

Ronald Michael — Mississippi

olds that could possibly jump into something. I do also have a huge 5-year-old that won’t show himself until well after dark. He is a 14-pointer with a huge rack. I think he will score in the 180class Boone & Crocket range.

Stephen Graham — West Virginia

More deer stayed on my property and I see bigger racked bucks. I also do Quality Deer Management. My Imperial Whitetail Clover and Extreme have done great for five seasons now, with the help from Arrest and Slay herbicide. I have been using 30-06 Minerals and Vitamins for about five years also. Enclosed is a photo of the buck I got this past December. It gross scored 155 4/8. I will continue to use Whitetail Institute products because I know they will keep giving great results.

Pam Tetrick-Tadyck — Minnesota My husband and I have been using Whitetail Institute products for around 15 years now. It Many deer are seen in the Imperial Whitetail Clover all spring, summer and fall. If not for the Slay and Arrest herbicides I would have no clover because of weed and grass competition. They are excellent.

I’ve used Whitetail Institute products for 10 years and have seen an increase in the number of bucks on my property as well as increase in both antler and body size. I began by using Imperial Whitetail Clover and Alfa-Rack Plus and this year added the No-Plow, Winter-Greens, and Tall Tine Tubers. I’m a firm believer in year round food plots and Whitetail Institute products have worked exceptionally well. I live and hunt in northeastern Mississippi and have killed one deer with a gross score of 165 7/8 inches, and I’ve seen several more in the 140 to 160 class since beginning the use of Whitetail Institute products. I’m also attracting and maintaining a healthier doe population and thus I’m growing and attracting a better buck population. I’m a believer in Whitetail Institute products for growing, attracting, and maintaining a healthy deer herd. Also my turkey population has skyrocketed! W

Send Us Your Photos! Ron Cuddie — Wisconsin I have planted Whitetail Institute products for about six years and I have had great results.

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

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

Vol. 22, No. 1 /



Hogs and Coyotes Offer Hunting Opportunities By Bob Humphrey Photos by the Author


t first, the scene before me didn’t register. Acre upon acre of what had obviously been lush green fields was now a sea of overturned soil. Assuming it was the work of machinery, I naively asked my hunting companion, “What are they planting there?” He chuckled and replied, “That’s hogs.” Disbelief turned

to awe as I noticed the somewhat random pattern of tilling. Staring at the devastation left me speechless. Like many who live outside their range, I viewed feral hogs as sort of a novelty, targets of opportunity that occasionally showed up while pursuing deer or turkeys. I was vaguely aware they sometimes chewed up food plots and could be a nuisance at corn feeders, but I had no idea just how widespread and devastating their influence could be on the landscape. Several months later, I was snowshoeing through a northern deer yard when I came upon scattered tufts of deer hair. Following the clues, I found parts of a leg bone, more hide and hair and faded remnants of blood in the deep snow. Abundant canid tracks soon revealed the culprit. Hogs are not the only problem facing modern deer managers. Also once a novelty, Eastern coyotes have now elevated their status to that of a serious deer predator. Only recently have we begun to realize their impacts. And as populations of hogs and coyotes continue to grow in range and number, their combined impact is becoming greater than the sum of its parts.

BACKGROUND Domestic European hogs were introduced to North America in 1539 in Florida. Sportsmen later brought Russian wild boars to the United States in the late 1800s. Both hog species eventually escaped or were released into the wild, ultimately resulting in three types — feral hogs, wild boars and hybrids. In the early 1980s, their range was limited largely to the extreme Southeast, Texas and parts of coastal California. By 2004, they had expanded into most southern and midwestern states, and much of California and Texas. Since then, populations have continued to grow across their range. Coyotes came east on their own and with help. After wolves were extirpated from the eastern United States and southern Canada, Western coyotes expanded eastward, first appearing in western Ontario in the early 1900s and in New York in the 1920s. Along the way, they interbred with remnant populations of Eastern timber wolves, creating a larger, more robust predator. They arrived in Maine around the late 1960s and early 1970s, expanding into eastern Atlantic

Removing nuisance hogs is a good way to endear yourself to a landowner plagued with habitat damage.


WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

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Canada, and later spreading southward in a wave that continues to this day. Meanwhile, a second front advanced eastward, initially from Arkansas and Louisiana. They combined with escapees from dog-training pens in the Southeast. Southern and northern populations converged during the mid-1980s in the central Appalachian mountains of Virginia and West Virginia, and coyotes are now common across most of the eastern United States.

Coyote hunting offers a great way to extend your hunting season.

ISSUES Feral hogs present several problems. According to the Quality Deer Management Association’s 2010 Whitetail Report, the estimated annual agricultural damage from feral hogs in Texas alone is $52 million, and the annual cost to control feral hogs is $7 million. In the Southeast, they can do significant damage to commercial pine plantations. Extrapolate all that across their range, and the costs become staggering. And it’s not just agriculture. They tear up food plots planted for deer, turkeys and other wildlife. They can also take a substantial bite out of natural foods like hard and soft mast, leaving that much less for more desirable species. Add to all that the possible spread of disease to livestock and humans and it presents a sobering scenario. If you don’t have issues yet,

whitetails. In the mid-1990s, coyotes were killing an estimated 20,000 deer in Maine — as many as hunters. Coyote numbers and their influence have since grown substantially. Healthy deer populations can withstand a certain level of predation. But a combination of several severe winters and coyote predation has reduced deer populations across much of northern New England (and possibly elsewhere) to the point where predation is now holding deer populations below a level where they can compensate for it. Meanwhile, research from Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina shows a similarly alarming trend. In a South Carolina study area, coyote predation accounted for as much as 84 percent of all deer mortality, including 62 percent of fawn mortality, and the statewide deer population has declined about 30 percent since coyotes arrived. Coincidence? I think not. A southwestern Georgia study showed the percentage of deer hair in coyote scat almost doubled during the fawning season, resulting in fall fawn-to-doe ratios of about 0.5. And Auburn University researchers found coyote predation to be the leading cause of fawn mortality in suburban areas of Alabama. SOLUTIONS

it’s just a matter of time. Coyotes represent a more direct threat to

Fortunately, solutions exist. In fact, if you look

Ensure the success of your food plots.

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




WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1


The Whitetail Institute


— 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043

Research = Results™

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

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

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Welcoming trappers on your land is one way to alleviate nuisance issues with minimal cost and effort on your part.

in the mirror you’ll find the biggest one staring you right in the face. HUNTING The status of coyotes and hogs varies from state to state, ranging from game animals to nuisance species. In any case, they’re fair game at some point and good sport when they are. And at least in the case of hogs, they can be decent table fare. I know a fellow from Maine who makes a decent coyote jerky. Seasons in most states are long, often year-round, with liberal or unrestricted bag limits on bag, tactics and equipment. Predator and hog hunting is far more than a way to extend your hunting season, though that’s certainly a positive consideration. Both often require many of the same tools and techniques as deer hunting — like stealth, marksmanship and scent control — providing a means to hone your hunting skills between deer seasons. In addition to the thrill of the hunt and more time spent outdoors, you can take some satisfaction in knowing you’re helping to alleviate a significant environmental problem. Hog hunting can take several forms. Where baiting is legal, they’re just as likely to show up at a corn feeder as deer are, making them fine targets of opportunity during and outside the deer season. Spot-and-stalk hunting is another tactic that is especially popular with bowhunters. Hunting with dogs makes for great sport in concert with man’s best friend. Coyote hunting similarly takes several forms. Some hunters sit over bait stations, often at night, where legal. Calling is another popular and effective method, and often a chance to practice some long-range shooting. And running dogs can also be a productive and exhilarating method. TRAPPING Trapping represents a viable and in many cases more effective way of controlling coyotes and hogs. 58

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

Several methods are used for hogs, the most common typically involving some type of baited live trap. And they range from rudimentary to elaborate. I’m aware of one trapper in Illinois who has a live camera feed and remote control trigger capability on his cell phone. He can view the trap, and when he thinks there are enough hogs in it, close the gate remotely with the push of a button. Trapped hogs are then dispatched or transported to high-fence hunting enclosures. Coyote trapping takes a bit more in the way of woodsmanship. Coyotes are savvy, quick learners and can be a challenge even to experienced trappers. Sadly, anti-hunting and anti-trapping sentiments have driven down demand for and price of furs, and as a result, trapping is becoming something of a lost art. Populations of coyotes and other furbearers (particularly raccoons) are ever increasing and having an increasing impact on deer, turkeys and countless other game and non-game species. Fortunately, there are still dedicated individuals who ply the trade and continue the tradition. If you’re not experienced, you’re far better off leaving the job to someone who is. At the least, allow trappers on your properties. It’s a win-win situation. They are often more than willing to help out a landowner in need. They get an opportunity to ply their trade, and you get the benefit or reduced predator-nuisance populations. If you’re not already a trapper, consider giving it a try. It’s an opportunity to enhance your woodsmanship skills while spending time outdoors. It’s also a great way to learn, and teach your children about the outdoors, wildlife and predator-prey relationships. CONCLUSION In the final analysis, feral hogs and coyotes are far more than a nuisance. They represent a significant impediment to deer and wildlife habitat management. Fortunately, solutions exist if we take a page from the school of business and view it as an opportunity rather than a problem. W

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Nobody knows deer nutrition and what attracts deer like the Whitetail Institute. That is why we developed our complete line of liquid, block, and granular attractants to appeal to a deer’s sense of smell and taste. Whether it’s the irresistible scent of acorns or Devour, our proprietary taste and scent enhancer, our products have what it takes to drive deer crazy. These attractants work so well they can pull deer to your property from long distances, and will also help hold deer once they have found the source of the attraction. Use Whitetail Institute attractants to lure both bucks and does in front of your game cameras, as well as attract and hold hot does in your area when the time is right. Scan this with your smart phone for even more information 239 Whitetail Trail | Pintlala, AL 36043 (800) 688-3030 |

(Continued from page 39)

My wife took her first buck with her Hoyt this past season from a blind overlooking a Chicory Plus plot. The mineral sites are a great location for summertime photos. Everyone using Whitetail Institute products says the same thing: More and better deer are seen after using their products. I whole-heartedly agree. We will be using them for a very long time. Keep up the awesome work and research Whitetail Institute.

of younger bucks. We were both able to harvest a couple of 130-class bucks that were our biggest to date. The following spring, we enlarged our patches and planted Imperial Whitetail Clover in the spring and Winter-Greens in the fall. We had many trail-camera pics of lots of does and three good shooter bucks. One in particular I was able to harvest was this huge 8-point the last weekend of our archery season coming off the food plot. I would like to thank God and I also thank Whitetail Institute for the many great products.

development of this property. I’ve come to realize that if I don’t have everything a deer needs to eat on my farm, they will go elsewhere to find it. Winter-Greens and Imperial Whitetail Clover have been an integral part of my food plot program and I want to thank Whitetail Institute for providing outstanding products that I can always rely on.

Rich Baugh — Iowa I’ve owned my farm in southeast Iowa for four years and have been strictly managing it to grow and hold big whitetails. Last year was my best year ever for big bucks. I was able to harvest two 5-1/2 year old bucks that ended up grossing 168 inches and 191 inches. One of the key factors in killing these bucks was holding them on my farm with a variety of food sources. I always have grain, brassica, and clover food plots and they have all played a key role in the Enclosed are pictures of both bucks. The trail cam picture shows the 191-inch buck before he broke off all or part of seven points. About 20 inches were broken off. W

Kurt Sanders — Indiana My cousin and I started using Whitetail Institute products two years ago after hunting many years and seeing just a few deer on our property. We hunt a 100 acre plot of land that has 40 acres of agriculture and 60 acres of thick woods. We decided to put two small patches of Imperial Whitetail Clover in different areas of our woods. The result the first year was we saw more deer. Lots

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

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

Vol. 22, No. 1 /



The Benefits of Blends

Why Limit PLots to a singLe PLant? By David Hart Photos by the Author


here’s no doubt a single-plant food plot can give you a great place to hang a tree stand. A stand of alfalfa or clover can also be a reliable source of high-quality forage that can help bucks grow better antlers. Imperial Clover is one of the best, if not the best, all-purpose food plot product available. It’s not only good for deer, it’s great for deer hunting, especially during early fall. But in some regions, clover goes dormant in late winter and offers less benefit to deer or hunter. When the clover disappears, so do the deer. You could plant brassicas if you want a late-season hunting plot. Deer hammer it after the plant has been hit by a frost, and they stay on it until the plant has been reduced to roots. But that means you’ll have to wait until cold weather sets in before you can expect to see any deer. BLENDS ARE BETTER By offering your deer a variety of foods in a So what should you do? The obvious solusingle plot, you stand a tion is to plant both in the same field. Instead better chance of seeing of guessing the best seeding rate for each and harvesting more plant, however, grab a pre-mixed blend like deer throughout the Whitetail Institute’s Double Cross, a mix of entire season. clover and brassicas. Blends offer a variety of foods in one plot, giving deer a solid reason to stay on your property not just part of the hunting season, but all of it. Just as we can’t get all our nutritional needs from a salad or a steak, deer need a variety of foods to survive. Blends give them what they need when they need it. “We design our blends to give hunters and deer the maximum benefit from a food plot," Whitetail Institute Vice-President Steve Scott said. "A blend not only gives the deer a choice, it gives hunters more opportunity to see deer throughout the hunting season because one plant might be prime in October while another is most attractive in November or December." That’s because the plants in a typical blend don’t always grow at the same rate. Whitetail Institute’s Pure Attraction, for example, includes oats and winter peas, which germinate quickly and grow fast, providing an almost-immediate food source for your deer. The third ingredient in Pure Attraction is brassicas. Deer often won’t touch that plant until a frost has changed the palatability of the plant. In fact, brassicas have become one of the hottest late-season food plot choices for that reason. Unfortunately, hunters who only plant brassicas are missing 62

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

Blends can excel when single-species plots won’t. Some plants may go dormant during extreme heat or cold while others remain, giving the deer a variety of choices throughout the season.

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out on an extended opportunity to hunt one food plot.

three in one plot can give you enough variety to cover all the bases. “Alfa-Rack Plus, which has clover, chicory and alfalfa, can be ideal for that situation,” Scott said. “A perfect example might be if you are in hilly country and plan to plant on a plot that is sloped on one end and flat on the other. Alfalfa might do better on the higher ground that doesn’t hold moisture, but clover will excel in the lower, wetter part of the plot. A lot of times, you might have just enough moisture over the entire plot that all the plants will thrive. A blend covers all the bases.” Some, like Whitetail Institute’s new Edge, includes perennial plants like alfalfa, chicory, sanfoin and a fast-growing annual clover. Edge makes a great summer nutrition plot, but also a super place to hang a tree stand, particularly for early-season bow-hunters. The obvious advantage of a perennial blend is the reduced effort and cost. Plant them once, and you’re set for several years. Annuals offer their own advantages: They can be somewhat easier to establish and weed control can be a little easier, too.

WHICH ONE? Choosing the best blend isn’t as easy as grabbing the first bag you see. Whitetail Institute offers more than a dozen different seed blends. All attract deer, but each one includes different seed blends for different situations and different purposes. Thankfully, choosing the right one isn’t really difficult. By their nature, blends offer a variety of plants that draw whitetails throughout the life of the food plot. Some are designed to attract deer during fall and winter, but others provide high-quality, nutritious forage throughout the summer when bucks are growing antlers and does are nursing. “Attraction plots are usually cool-season plots that include clover, brassicas, peas or oats — things that provide a food source throughout the fall and winter. Those are the plots you are going to hunt over,” Scott said. “In some cases, you will have hunting opportunities over warm-season plots, but those tend to diminish as the season progresses, particularly in the North.” Annual warm season forage blends are usually planted in spring and are designed to provide high protein and other vital nutrients. Hunters all across the U.S. report their warm season food plots have resulted in healthier bucks with better antlers. Whitetails that have access to high-quality forage in summer go into winter in better health, giving them better odds of surviving harsh conditions. Some warm season forage blends include annuals like sunflowers, peas, beans and sorghum, but others have perennials like chicory and alfalfa. Attraction blends can also include perennials like clover. What you choose also depends on your plots themselves. Although all food plot plants need at least three to four hours of sunlight, some have different moisture requirements. Scott said alfalfa, for example, does well in drier soils because it has a deep tap root. So does chicory. Clover does best in ground that holds more moisture. Sometimes combining those

STILL NOT SURE? “The best advice I can give is to split up your plots and plant a couple of different blends. That way, you can see what works best for you and your deer,” advises Scott. “The more choices you have — and the deer have — the better off you’ll be, no matter what you choose. For example, plant half your plot in a perennial like Imperial Whitetail Clover and the other half in Pure Attraction.” Even better, by choosing a blend you won’t have to answer the age-old food plot question: Which one? Instead, you can simply say “all of the above.” If you have more questions, call the Whitetail Institute at (800) 6883030. Scott said he and fellow staff members not only are willing to offer sound advice, but they enjoy talking food plots and deer hunting. “It’s what we love to do,” he said. W


You’re invited to fish America’s most famous private bass waters Noted outdoorsman and B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott is making a long-time personal dream come true. As a proud supporter of his home state’s new initiative — Alabama Black Belt Adventures — he is opening his personal lakes, his home and guest accommodations to a limited number of anglers to enjoy great fishing and gracious southern hospitality. Guests at Ray Scott’s Trophy Bass Retreat will fish in the wake of presidents, first ladies and fishing superstars like Kevin VanDam, Rick Clunn, Bill Dance and Roland Martin — all amidst 200 acres of live oaks, Spanish moss, whitetail deer and blue herons. And they will also enjoy many outstanding amenities as well as the opportunity to visit with host Ray Scott. Ray Scott’s Trophy Bass Retreat is located just south of Montgomery, in the heart of Alabama’s Black Belt, a land of rich history, rich traditions and rich black soil that is credited with contributing to the outstanding fishing and hunting that has been treasured by so many generations of outdoorsmen. Whether you’re with your best fishing buddies, son or father, or important business clients or employees, your Ray Scott Trophy Bass Retreat will provide an exclusive, one-of-akind fishing experience to be remembered.

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Vol. 22, No. 1 /



The Wonderment of Not Knowing By R.G. Bernier Photos by the Author

“If life is to preserve its glamour and the heart its freshness, we must not lose our capacity to wonder. —Archibald Rutledge


itting beneath a stately oak — at least I believe it was an oak tree, with branches extended like the arms of a coddling mother not quite ready to release her grip on a boy determined to enter manhood — is where I was positioned next to Dad on my first deer hunt. Excited, exuberant and with a good bit of youthful restlessness I watched the day dawn on the whitetail forest. Each noise, every interruption was met with a renewed curiosity and the constant inquiry to my father, “When are the deer coming?” My boyhood imagination had conjured up the notion that deer would arrive upon a scheduled time, at this precise location and that is why we were indeed located where we were in order to intercept them. If it were only that simple … . As I was to find out later, deer have no schedules. They come and go as 64

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

they please and waiting patiently for the unknown was truly a blessing rather than the curse I thought it to be as an impetuous lad of ten. Until that initial hunt, all I had to go on were stories, tales of spellbinding intrigue betwixt hunter and this ghostly creature that so aptly lives in wooded solitude mysteriously appearing from out of nowhere when least expected. Leaves trapped in crusted snow rustled in the distance, heralding the approach of a forest occupant. However, the noise was lost on me as I fumbled with a candy wrapper. Looking up I found my dad intently staring in the direction where

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he told me the deer would most likely appear. His body language suddenly changed, the whole mood now became intense; something has his attention, something that I could not see, not yet anyway. “Get your gun ready, the buck is standing head on to your left,” dad whispered. Searching with all my might I still could not see him. “He’s right there,” dad exclaimed. In a voice much louder than a whisper I asked, “Where?” This buck was surely destined to be mine as despite my commotion, he remained standing statuesquely still intently and perhaps, curiously looking. “Do you see the big spruce tree?” “Yes,” I replied. “Look to the right of it,” my dad exasperatedly said. And then, there he was, as plain as the nose on my face, the apparition had finally taken form. My little heart began to race. It beat like a drum which was reverberating first in my throat and then relentlessly in my ears. My breath came in gasps as my limbs involuntarily quivered and shook. What a rush to think that one of nature’s children could reduce me to such a trembling mess. Somehow the shot rang true and I had the first of many bucks, but none more special. It was a spike buck with stickers, one whose antlers hang as proudly in my home as any buck I’ve taken since. Much has changed in the whitetail world since that bygone day when I was a boy of ten, but thankfully, at least for me the same exhilarating heart pounding in my ears, sweat trickling a path down my neck still returns routinely when a buck suddenly appears. However, I fear that this may no longer be the case for a large sector of the deer hunting public. In our thirst for knowledge and our bent on technology, have we now reduced deer hunting to a mere formula? Bill Heavey writes, “Today’s whitetail nut knows how to pinpoint a core area, unravel a rub line, make a mock scrape, set up a decoy, rattle a buck close, age the animal on the hoof, and score him to within 10 inches. He knows how to raise the pH of soil from 5.8 to 7.0. Thanks to the whitetail boom — which has focused our obsession and created an enormous market to fund research and development — our knowledge of deer behavior is unprecedented, our gear is unsurpassed, and exciting new tactics are spawned almost daily, making the game more nuanced and fun.” But, in the process have we indeed lost something of intrinsic value? Have we lost the primitive within us? Have we lost the wonderment that only the land beyond the pavement can offer? Dave Hurteau chimes in, “Yes, we are by-and-large better deer hunters today. But does anyone know how to estimate yardage anymore? Why bother learning how to age a track when your trail-cam pics have the date and time stamped on them? Or even read sign when all you need to do is sit over your food plot? Do you know how to walk over dry, brittle leaves without spooking deer? How to slip up on a bedded buck?” Deer hunting is not a game that can be won, it’s a game that must be played, and how you play the game will determine your ultimate satisfaction. If we shot a deer each time out, without fail much of the romance and mystery of the hunt would be erased and the activity would be reduced to merely another mundane job. How septic and tasteless that would be. We still need the mystery of the unknown in order to capture our hearts. “Indeed,” according to the late George Mattis, “there have been many changes from the days when deer hunting meant packing off to the woods for a full season’s stay in the old hunter’s shack. The call of the North Woods was once answered only by the hardy souls to whom the ruggedness of camping in the rough was accepted as a necessary part of the hunt. Though the chase of the whitetail continues, many of the sturdy qualities of the erstwhile Nimrod are no longer with us. The practical deer hunters, and especially the newcomers, emerge to hunt the game animal where it is most plentiful, and many a bag is filled without the hunter straying a quarter of a mile from his parked car. The task of dragging in a deer killed even a mile back in from the road is becoming the exception today.” The value of not knowing comes in ways not readily seen, only felt, and make the entire experience worth recounting each time we take up the chase. Anticipation awakens me like the touch of an icy hand. Excitement overtakes me when seeing the sign that has eluded me thus far.

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Helps Maximize Antler Growth! ■ 20% Protein to Help Maximize Antler Growth. ■ Contains Vital Minerals and Vitamins. ■ Helps Bucks Devote More Nutrition to Antler Growth Earlier in Spring. Helps Maximize Doe Lactation, Fawn Birth Weights, Growth Rates and Overall Herd Health! ■ Contains Critical Protein, Vitamins and Minerals for Does. ■ Source of High Carbohydrates and Lipids for Fall and Winter. Specifically Designed for the Needs of Deer! ■ Scientifically formulated to meet the unique requirements of the smallruminant digestive system of deer. ■ Contains macro minerals, micro minerals and vitamins in the correct forms and ratios deer need to help maximize genetic potential. Extremely Attractive to Deer! ■ Crunchy texture deer prefer. ■ Contains scent and taste enhancers including Devour, which drives deer wild. Maximum Flexibility in Delivery Systems! ■ Can be use in most spin-type feeders, trough feeders, and gravity feeders. ■ Rainshed™ Technology — Moisture resistant. ■ Pelleted form reduces waste.

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

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Results is a trademark of Whitetail Institute Pintlala, AL. Devour is a trademark of Whitetail Institute Pintlala, AL. RainShed is a trademark of Southern States Richmond, VA.

Vol. 22, No. 1 /



Attentiveness to each subtle detail along the trail provides clues that bring me closer to realizing my goal. Strategic planning of the day’s event allows me to be proactive in my quest. Being nature’s invited guest renews an appreciation for all that is most wild, and when you put it all together it becomes an adventure of the finest kind. In his book, Hunting Big Whitetails, Bruce Nelson sums it up so well when he writes, “He wonders if this is the day. Will the trophy buck he has dreamed about suddenly appear out of the underbrush? And if it should happen, will he remember with dismay the last glimpse of that awesome

rack and mighty body, or will he relive on countless occasions, the feeling of staring down in disbelief at that magnificent trophy, and the feel of the massive antlers in his hands? Every deer season, each coming day and hour, is full of unknowns. In the unknown is anticipation, and the hope that soon the scouting and hard hunting will pay off. The prize is the monster buck, and the quest goes on for as long as we hunt whitetails.” Unlike much of our daily life that is scripted, predictable and routine, hunting whitetail deer is and should continue to be anything but. We don’t need the formula, we need the inexplicable. We shouldn’t want a guarantee, only a chance. A pile of dead deer flesh doesn’t represent a hunt; it’s merely the result of the hunt itself. We must have disappointment in order to fully enjoy success; otherwise arrogance would overtake humility. Whitetails certainly have a way of humbling even the most haughty and self-confident. Without uncertainty there would be no hope, nothing to captivate our imagination or fuel our desire. Where would be the magic, mystique and charm? The value of the unknown unleashes our fascination, curiosity and respect for the deer we pursue. Wildlife photographer, Mike Biggs captures this concept brilliantly expressing the following, “Who knows what the future will bring? … Will technology eventually create such an artificiality that it could destroy the mystique which brought us here in the first place? In extreme cases that might be possible. Certainly we don’t want to see whitetails come to share the same status as livestock. Nobody wants to hunt a Hereford. For most of us, the real frontier of whitetail enlightenment lies in the accurate perception of their lives and times—the true understanding of how whitetails live, develop, behave and age under natural circumstances. We want the knowledge. We need the mystery.” Like the childhood fantasies of a ten-year-old boy, may we never lose our capacity to wonder and continue to embrace the unknown in all our future deer hunts. W

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



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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

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

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


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WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1


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Vol. 22, No. 1 /



The Future Of Our Sport Mike McClellan — Indiana The picture is of my son Justin McClellan. He was 7 years old when he killed a doe (his first deer) with a 410 shotgun. Since I have been using Whitetail Institute products, I see more deer including a lot of does. When you have lots of does you have bucks always close by. I haven’t reached the Boone & Crocket yet, but I keep trying. My 9-year-old son sees deer every time he goes. He killed his first deer when he was 7 years old and has killed deer out there ever since.

a rush, I was shaking so much Poppy got out of the stand and went to check things out for me. I had him. An 8-point that weighed 134 pounds! I had just turned 10 years old on Dec. 1 and it felt great to kill my first buck and receive my initiation from the guys in the club. My Poppy is a member of the Mullins Swamp Hunting Camp, and I have tagged along since I was two. Of course I was too small to carry a gun then but my Poppy was training me. I paid attention, listened closely, and watched everything everyone did to learn how to kill a deer. I was rewarded with my first deer being an 8-point. My parents, Casey, Sr. and Holly Allen, had my deer mounted and placed over my bed where when I enter my room I get the thrill of reliving that buck moment.

on the buck! He was so excited he asked me to hold his bow so he could sit down! I have used Whitetail Institute products for some time now at several hunting properties and they work great! I am most fond of the Winter-Greens as it makes for some awesome late season hunting. There is no doubt that these products help increase hunting opportunities on a property. Thanks very much Whitetail Institute for the great products!

Chris Yaritz — Wisconsin

Chris and Benjamin Consler — New York Casey Allen Jr. — Louisiana It was Sunday, Dec. 19, my Poppy (grandfather) and I were doing an evening hunt before we went to the Saints party at the clubhouse. It was about 4:20 p.m. and from the four-wheeler road out came the prettiest 8-point buck I ever saw. I took aim and hit him with a spine shot. Boy did I get

Enclosed please find a picture of my son’s first deer, taken over food plots using Whitetail Institute products. We were sitting in a stand overlooking two plots of Winter-Greens and a plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover. The field had numerous scrapes around it and deer were using the plots on a regular basis. This buck showed up and checked several scrapes along the field and then came out into the plots to check a button buck that was feeding in front of us. My son made a perfect broadside 24-yard shot 70

WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 22, No. 1

Enclosed is a picture of my 11 year old daughter Emily with her first deer, a 4 point. She took this buck with a .243 at 70 yards during the WI youth hunt. The conditions were far from ideal. We had 82 degree temps and 30 mph winds, but the deer couldn’t resist our Winter-Greens field. We saw five does, a fawn and another 4 point pile into the field during some of the worst hunting conditions. We have been using Whitetail Institute products for about eight years now with great success. So far, we have used Winter-Greens, Whitetail Forage Oats Plus, No-Plow, Chicory Plus, Extreme and Whitetail Clover. The deer are growing bigger and healthier. Since we are in the snow belt of WI, it’s very important to get our deer in as good of shape as possible before winter. We are drawing deer from miles away. I may need to expand another acre or two just to keep up with the demand. I’ve tried other brands, but nothing compares to Whitetail Institute products. They are all I use now. Also, notice the back tag in the front. Emily was a little excited and got the shirt backwards. She also created her own custom camo pattern you see on her shirt. I GUESS IT ALL WORKED OUT!!!! Thanks Whitetail Institute for providing a great product and unbelievable service. W

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Whitetail News Vol 22.1  

Whitetail News Volume 22 Issue 1

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