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


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In This Issue…


Unrealistic Expectations By Craig Dougherty Are unrealistic expectations about how large the antlers will grow on the deer you hunt driving you crazy? The author discusses why it is important to understand what your property is capable of growing to maximize your fun in the deer woods.


Imperial Whitetail Chicory Plus — Chicory and Clover Combo Keeps Attracting Deer Even During Droughts By Whitetail Institute Staff


Minerals, Minerals, Minerals By Matt Harper



38 41


Features 5

By Brad Herndon


Whitetail Institute of North America: An Anniversary Celebration — 25 Years of Innovation By Matt Harper Companies that are true pioneers and start an entire industry are rare. That is exactly what the Whitetail Institute of North America is…a company that started the food plot industry 25 years ago and is still innovating to this day.


The Power of the Plot By Sam Parrish Food plots bring turkeys and kids together.


Keeping Weeds in Check By Whitetail Institute Staff Don’t miss the forest for the trees when it comes to keeping weeds out of your food plots.


Imperial Whitetail PowerPlant… Welcome to the Jungle From Weekend Warriors to Master’s Degree Food Plotters

Whitetails are Nature’s Superstars By Charles J. Alsheimer Great photos and words capture how the white-tailed deer is a phenomenal athlete.

What’s New with No-Plow? By Whitetail Institute Staff


A Magical Season By Cory Roberts


What Farmers Have Taught Me By Scott Bestul


Ugly Bullies Revisted By Bill Winke

Departments 4 24

A Message from Ray Scott Field Testers Report Stories and Photos

29 36

Food Plot Planting Dates Record Book Bucks Stories and Photos


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



First Deer — The Future of Our Sport

Whitetail Institute OFFICERS AND STAFF

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

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Vol. 22, No. 3 /


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

25 Years of Innovation — “NO” to the Status Quo I was almost startled when my sons Steve and Wilson said, “Pop, it’s our 25th anniversary.” I guess it’s true that time does fly when you’re having fun… and/or working hard.


read Matt Harper’s anniversary article with interest and appreciated the history he put together. So much has happened in the last quarter century, not just to the Institute but to the entire deer hunting world. He made a comment that really caught my attention: “Ray was never satisfied with the status quo.” I guess that could pretty much sum up most of my life, especially in my business endeavors. Sitting still sure doesn’t move you forward. Plus back in the mid-1980s there was nothing to like about the status quo of deer hunting in Alabama unless you were satisfied with herds of inferior whitetail. Yet there we were, all trying desperately to make the best of a mediocre situation. Then one magical day I watched the deer grazing on the buffet I had planted on my biggest field. Time and again they stepped over the rye and the wheat and the oats to get to the new clover I’d planted, recommended by my man at the seed-and-feed store in Montgomery. That’s exactly how and why my search for Imperial Whitetail Clover began. Ultimately the development of a deer-specific forage helped launch a learning curve about whitetail and protein and nutrition and manage-


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ment that continues to this day. Lately I was talking to John White (my second employee after William Cousins), reminiscing about those earliest days and he reminded me I wasn’t the only one who wanted to move beyond the status quo. It was also our field testers, our customers. As soon as word of the success of Imperial Whitetail Clover spread, we were deluged with immediate, specific and emphatic feedback of what deer hunters and managers wanted and needed. Our mission was clear: Listen to our customers. Alfa-Rack for well drained soils followed as quickly as it could, allowing for full research and development and testing in the real world. That was followed quickly by No-Plow, still one of our best-selling products that enabled individuals without the time, inclination or equipment to plant a food plot. More products have followed for different conditions — all carefully researched and tested. All an expression of “YES” to innovation, improvement, and a better whitetail experience for all. Ray Scott


Whitetail Institute of North America An Anniversary Celebration —

of Innovation By Matt Harper

merica, the great experiment, has proven that when people are given the freedom to be the master of their own futures, they can realize extraordinary achievements. It is this fact that helped build America into the greatest nation on our planet today. Want to start your own business? Go ahead. Work hard, work smart and with a little luck here and there, you can realize your dream. Of course, not all businesses succeed, and in fact, most do not. So when you find yourself still in business and profitable three years from when you first “hung out your shingle,” you have beaten the odds. To get there, you had to provide a good product or service that was in demand and then more than likely work your tail off. There are also those businesses that not only remain profitable but also grow beyond mere sustainability to become major players in their industries. These

Shortly after the birth of the Whitetail Institute, Ray was joined by his two sons, Steve Scott and Wilson Scott, who shared Ray’s passion for deer hunting, deer research and deer management. companies likely have the same characteristics as their smaller brethren, but through innovation, creativity, forward thinking and the aptitude for taking calculated risks have found ways to achieve exponential growth in their respective market. There is yet another type of company that stands in a category reserved for the very few: the truly rare enterprises that start an entire industry, The pioneers. Imagine going to a bank or investor and telling them that you have a great idea to provide a product or service that has not only never been heard of but doesn’t even fit into any industry category.

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To pull that off requires not only unique vision, but also the ability to share that vision with customers clearly enough that they themselves see the value and need of this new innovative concept. Henry Ford is credited by many for starting the auto industry. He did so when horses were still the main power source for transportation and road systems were limited and primitive. Yet, he had a vision and that vision led to the creation of one of the largest industries in the world. An industry that changed the world. Before the mid 1980s, the concept of food plots and managing properties for whitetail deer was by and large nonexistent. There Vol. 22, No. 3 /


were some places in Texas and possibly other parts of the country that were practicing forms of deer management, but in terms of the hunting industry, food plots and deer management were unused and unknown concepts. In the South, with the conversion of land from traditional farming to pine tree production, hunters realized that planting “green fields” was beneficial in drawing deer out of the deep labyrinth of planted trees. But this practice was done primarily if not exclusively for hunting purposes, and the words “food” or “nutrition” were never part of the vocabulary. Enter Ray Scott. At that time, Ray was nationally known as the founder of B.A.S.S. and Bassmasters and the person responsible for popularizing bass fishing and creating national fishing tournaments, which had grown from its beginning in the 1960s to a multibillion dollar industry. Not content with business success alone, Ray set out to protect, preserve and enhance the bass fishing resource and its environment. According to Field and Stream, Ray “walks with the outdoor gods: Individuals like Teddy Roosevelt, Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold. They listed him among the ‘Twenty Who Have Made a Difference’ in the American outdoors over the past century.” Ray also was a deer hunter and hunted in his home state of Alabama, where, like most hunters in the area, he planted and hunted green fields. The green fields on Ray’s property consisted of the traditional forages of wheat, rye and oats, but as you can imagine, Ray was never satisfied with the status quo. He planted all kinds of forages trying to find which produced the best results, and among these was a clover that produced better results, attracting and holding more deer than the other forage varieties planted on the property. His wheels began turning, and a theory took shape that whatever deer-attracting characteristics that particular clover variety possessed could be expanded upon when they were identified. Ray thought that plant genetics held the answers to these questions, so he sought out one of the leading plant (more specifically, clover) geneticists in the country, Dr. Wiley Johnson, who had helped develop the clover he had tested. The men started a research project that would eventually result in the first-ever forage variety genetically designed specifically for whitetail deer. The resulting Imperial Whitetail Clover would be the flame that ig-


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President George Bush was one of the early visitors to the Whitetail Institute headquarters.

nited a new industry. “That whitetail deer hunting has been enriched by a nationwide proliferation of food plots and plantings can’t be overstated, but in fact the domino effect set in motion by Whitetail Institute goes much further than that,” said John Zent, editorial director for the National Rifle Association magazines. “Innumerable species — everything from songbirds to black bears — are now thriving in habitat enhanced purely through private initiative. In addition, this DIY conservation ethic has helped to generate its own real estate boom as hunters make a commitment to become land managers and wildlife managers. America’s wildlife has benefited, and so too has the economy of many rural communities.” With the development of Imperial Whitetail Clover, a new company was created; a company founded upon strict requirements of research and results. In 1988, Ray opened

the doors to the Whitetail Institute of North America, the first and only company at that time whose sole purpose was researching and developing forages and forage blends specifically for whitetail deer management. A new term was coined as well, taking the place of green field: “food plot.” In the development of Imperial Whitetail Clover, it was determined that protein content contributed greatly to attraction. The higher the protein content, the more attractive the clover became. At that time, protein was a little-understood and seldom-used word in deer hunting circles. However, researchers at the Whitetail Institute quickly learned of the vital role protein plays in a deer’s life including antler growth, lactation, and muscle and bone growth. This knowledge led to the concept that not only could you attract more deer with Imperial Whitetail Clover, but because of high protein content, Imperial Clover would also provide improved nutrition and www.whitetailinstitute.com

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Dr, Wiley Johnson was the original Director of Froage Research for the Whitetail Institute and is credited with the development of Imperial Whitetail Clover. in turn a better quality deer herd. The combination of nutrition and attraction resulted in a planting that was truly a food plot. “‘Nothing happens until something is sold’ is one of the great quotes of all time,” noted outdoor writer and deer expert Charles Alsheimer said. “I learned a long time ago that this quote applies to Ray Scott and all the folks at Whitetail Institute. Over the last 25 years, they've led the way and sold hunters and landowners on how they can have better deer and better deer hunting. Without their vision, great products, and dissemination of information, the whitetail's success story would not be what it is today. Simply put, nobody does it better than Whitetail Institute.” Shortly after the birth of the Whitetail Institute, Ray was joined by his two sons, Steve and Wilson Scott, who shared Ray’s passion


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for deer hunting, deer research and deer management. Although the Whitetail Institute was still a fledgling company, the Scotts had a much greater vision of a company that would provide food plot and deer nutritional products to hunters all across the country. “When we first began testing clovers in the ’80s, other seed types, both annuals and other perennials were included in the testing. While our main focus was on finding and developing clovers that met the high standards we were searching for, we knew that in certain circumstances other forages also had a place in a deer hunter’s management plans,” Wilson Scott said. “The early research identified certain other forages that deserved follow-up research. We expanded our testing locations to cover all of North America and Canada to be sure the products we offered were the absolute best forages available and could thrive in both the harshest cold northern climates as well as the hot/dry Deep South. This research, which continues today, is what sets the Whitetail Institute’s products apart.” Based on this national vision, researchers at Whitetail Institute recognized that variables existed from region to region including soil type, climate and specific supplemental nutritional needs of deer. Using the same principles that governed the development of Imperial Clover, Whitetail Institute redoubled and expanded research efforts to design new products that would provide for the needs of a wide variety of management conditions. However, they did not follow the path of some companies that forgo this extensive research in order to simply enlarge their product portfolio. Their philosophy of extensive research to find vetted, proven, performing products remained the very cornerstone of their business. “All Whitetail products go through an exhaustive research program before ever reaching the marketplace. First, they have to go through initial testing at various Whitetail Institute facilities, and if they make it through that stage, then they have to make it through expanded testing at satellite research facilities all over North America,” Steve Scott said. “And if they make it through that stage, then they are tested in the real world with field testers all across the country. These field testers are just regular guys who love hunting and enjoy being involved in the process of helping test and evaluate potentially the next great thing or things. They use their own equipment and plant the various products ex-

actly the same way that hunters across America will eventually do if the product makes it through this last research stage. This research is expensive and most often a long process, but it all goes back to Ray Scott’s vision — no product will carry the Whitetail Institute brand unless it has proven to be the absolute best.” Because of the hundreds of variables involved in whitetail deer research, Whitetail Institute designed their research program to remove as many of these variables as possible. A concept was developed to begin with controlled micro research, and then expand the research protocol to eventually end with macro research. Micro research is conducted on a small and controlled test set. With food plot forages, this often starts in a greenhouse

Today, Dr. Wayne Hanna, a member of the U.S. Agriculture Research Hall of Fame heads up seed research and development for the Whiteteail Institute. www.whitetailinstitute.com

under specific environmental conditions such as moisture and temperature. This way, forage samples can be tested for drought resistance, heat tolerance, disease resistance and so on. From there, small test plots are planted under less-controlled conditions and evaluated. This step is especially important when testing blends of forages to evaluate compatibility, seeding rates and other qualities. Forages that pass this early testing go into large, semi-wild high-fence enclosures. These enclosures are maintained to simulate as close to a wild, free-range environment as possible. The next step is testing which is conducted at certified testing stations in various parts of North America. The testing is done on wild, free-ranging deer but then is closely monitored by trained researchers. The last phase in testing is to send the product to a large group of field testers in nearly every region of whitetail country. Then, and only then, will a product be considered for the Whitetail Institute’s line of products. The products that make the cut are only A-Grade products. Even then, if a product does not fill a need for deer hunters or managers, it will not be added to the line.

The methodology and detail by which the Whitetail Institute tests its products remove as much variability as possible and helps guarantee success to the customer. It is this research process that has led to products such as Imperial Alfa-Rack Plus, the first perennial food plot product on the market containing grazing alfalfa designed for well-drained soils. Also, it produced Extreme, the first perennial food plot product on the market designed for poor quality soils and limited rainfall, and Imperial Winter-Greens, the most highly palatable and attractive brassica product the Whitetail Institute has ever tested. And this research protocol was not just used for food plot products but also for mineral/vitamin supplements such as 30-06 and 30-06 Plus Protein, as well as nutritional supplements like the Cutting Edge line of products. These are only a small handful of the products researchers have developed during the past 25 years at the Whitetail Institute. Throughout its history and still today, research is the backbone of the products from the Whitetail Institute. “I’ve greatly enjoyed knowing the people at the Whitetail Institute for many years. I’m impressed by their innovation, professional-

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ism and commitment to excellence,” says Gordy Krahn, editor-in-chief at North American Hunter. “They have led a revolution that is the food plot industry. I congratulate them on this incredible achievement!” All the research and testing in the world means very little without proven results. The Institute’s goal is not just to develop products but to see the results their products produce for their valued customers. So what do the results look like? Well it could be said that the Whitetail Institute leads the industry in innovation, or it could be said that millions of acres of Whitetail Institute products have been planted. It could also be said that professional deer managers trust Whitetail Institute products above all others. But I think the best way to relay the results of Whitetail Institutes products during the past 25 years is to take a look at the tens of thousands of testimonials that have been received. Here is just a sampling that have appeared in the Whitetail News. “First of all, I want to praise Whitetail Institute for their awesome Imperial Whitetail Clover. It has really helped the deer on our farm over the past several years. It has totally changed not only how we hunt the deer but

Vol. 22, No. 3 /


The Lovstuen buck, the largest freeranging buck ever killed by a hunter, was photographed many times and shot in an Imperial Whitetail Clover field.

the caliber of deer on the farm” — Rick Sweeney, Tennessee “Since we started using Whitetail Institute products, we have killed some very nice bucks. We have bigger-bodied deer and an overall healthier deer herd.” — Samuel Stoltzfus, Pennsylvania “Everyone at Whitetail Institute was great and easy to work with. I asked a lot of questions, but they were always good listeners. I have used Imperial Whitetail Clover, NoPlow and PowerPlant, and I have more and bigger deer.” — Mark Gadbaw, Missouri “We have been using Whitetail Institute products for six years now. Currently, we have No-Plow, Extreme, Chicory Plus and several 30-06 mineral sites. We get multiple bucks throughout the year on our plots and mineral sites.” — Mark Mabry, Ohio The Whitetail News was started soon after the Institute was founded to educate field testers and to satisfy a public that thirsts for the latest information about seed blends, how to plant, what to plant, when to plant and the great results that can be realized.


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“I remember when I started as editor of the Whitetail News almost 17 years ago,” said Bart Landsverk, senior editor. “The News was 24 pages on newspaper stock. Now we boast between 68 and 80 pages of information. And now the Whitetail News is online, which could never have been imagined 17 years ago. I’m very proud of what the Whitetail Institute has pioneered over these 25 years. And I’m very proud to be a small part of it.” Wade Atchley of Atchley Media has been the account executive for the Whitetail News for 19 years. He also marvels at the success of the Institute. “Every industry has a point in time when one idea changes and accelerates everything within that industry,” he said. “It not only impacts the way the entire industry thinks but strongly affects the direction in which the industry moves in to the future. In 1988, Whitetail Institute of North America became the ‘game changer’ of the hunting industry and today continues to lead the industry in producing innovative deer nutritional products and scientifically proven methods for managing whitetail deer.”

Authentic industry leaders are true gamechangers and courageously lead so others can follow. The Whitetail Institute of North America created the deer nutrition industry in 1988, and 25 years later continues to forge new trails so all hunters can fully enjoy the most prolific game animal in North America: the whitetail deer. Outdoor writer Brad Herndon said, “I have been writing for the Scott family for several years, and it is my pleasure to be able to say that not only do they have fine products, they are fine people, which makes doing business with them a double blessing. For me, it hardly seems possible that the Whitetail Institute, the industry leader, has been selling its highly nutritious products to deer hunters for 25 years, but it is, in fact, true. It's also true that as the use of fine products such as Imperial Whitetail Clover, AlfaRack, Extreme and others increased throughout the years, the annual number of trophy buck entries into the whitetail record books also increased dramatically. As an expert in this field of research, I can assure you there is definitely a connection between the two. It will be fascinating to see what the next 25 years will bring in the deer nutrition field from Whitetail Institute of North America. I'm betting that the best is yet to come.” Over the past 25 years, the Institute has received continuous feedback from field testers who are enjoying the best deer hunting they’ve ever had. This feedback is what tells the folks at the Whitetail Institute that the research is paying off and is why, even after 25 years, the Whitetail Institute customer base grows every year. Twenty-five years of business is a milestone to celebrate in any business. But 25 years in a business that launched an entire new industry is testament to the leaders of the company, the knowledgeable employees and the value of the products that they produce. In truth, you need all of the pieces for longevity — foresight, vision, hard work and a commitment to the customers they serve. These are the ingredients that have made the Whitetail Institute a successful enterprise through the years. But what makes Whitetail Institute truly a great company is that like Ray Scott 25 years ago, it will never be content with the status quo. As you read this article, new research is being conducted and new products are being tested. Rest assured, more innovative products from Whitetail Institute are just over the horizon. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

The Power of the Plot Food Plots Bring Turkeys and Youngsters Together By Sam Parrish

f you’ve chased gobblers much the past few years, you know the power of the plot. Food plots and spring turkeys go hand in hand. Fresh green growth attracts hens early in spring. Gobblers follow, strutting and gobbling in open areas, trying to impress the ladies and deter rival toms. And in summer, clover plots attract and hold insects, providing critical food for growing poults. But as great as food plots are for all turkey hunters, they’re even better for a special segment of the 10th Legion: young hunters. Clover patches and similar plots often attract birds early in spring, when many states hold youth hunts. Further, these open areas let children see turkeys do their thing, and their adult mentors can walk the neophytes


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through every step of the process. In addition, assuming everything comes together, an open plot allows for an easy, sure-kill shot. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to two experts — Erik Landsverk and Kolton Atchley, young hunters who shot gobblers over Whitetail Institute products last spring.

Kolton’s Hunt As in previous years, Kolton and his dad, Wade Atchley, went to their favorite spot for Alabama’s youth turkey hunt: an Imperial Clover plot in a place they call Charlie’s Bottoms. “Since I had scouted the area for several weeks, I noticed that four two-year-olds were keeping the plot company most every afternoon, so it was an easy choice for opening

Kolton Atchley shows off his bird shot in Imperial No-Plow.

day,” Wade said. The hunt started in classic fashion, with a barred owl hooting in the distance before sunrise. That was quickly followed by a thunderous gobble. “He was right where he was supposed to be,” Wade said. “As Kolton and I ventured from the plot edge into the timber, the bird began to light up the morning with endless gobbles, even though it was still pretty dark inside the timber draw leading to his perch. At about 75 yards from his vantage point, I had Kolton walk ahead of me another 20 yards and park below a nice-sized hickory. I settled in between two good ol’ southern pines.” Darkness began to give way to morning sunshine, and another bird gobbled nearby, not far from the first longbeard. “And without hesitation, I knew Kolton could not resist the urge to turn around and smile at me,” Wade said. “Thank you, God, for giving me such a fun-loving son.” But then it was time for business, as Wade had to let the gobblers know a hot hen was waiting for them on the hillside next to the clover plot. “After a few soft tree yelps, the two old boys really got cranked up,” he said. “Then on purpose, I let 10 minutes pass without making another peep. Which, of course, had Kolton looking back at me with that look only fathers know best: ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Teaching you, son.’ After I gave him a big smile, I let out a flurry of soft tree yelps and then a very aggressive fly down cackle, which sent the two longbeards into an absolute frenzy. It had been a long time since I heard two birds get into such a war of gobbles.” Within minutes, father and son heard wings beating as the birds pitched to the ground down a draw to the south. “As soon as I knew they were on the ground, I began to purr and rake the fallen leaves around me, and that was more than www.whitetailinstitute.com

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the bachelors could take,” Wade said. “Within a few seconds, barreling up the draw was not one, not two, not three, but four barrel-chested longbeards fighting over who was going to get there first.” Wade watched the race unfold, and the birds began to fight for the right to strut and eventually breed the hen they’d heard. “All I could do was snicker and grin,” he said. “Then, just as quickly as the morning had started, all four birds broke the 25-yard barrier, and the leader of the gang met Kolton's old youth-model 20-gauge for the first and final time. Thank you, Whitetail Institute, for making not only a great product for deer, but food plots that turkeys like to call their own as well.”

Erik Landsverk shot his first-ever turkey while hunting near a food plot.

Erik’s Hunt “I had never shot a turkey before, so I was excited the night before we headed out into



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the woods,” Erik said. “It was really early in the morning, and I was still incredibly sleepy, even after napping in the car. I had only four glazed donuts in me, and I was still hungry.” Erik and his father, Bart Landsverk, sat under a tree at the corner of a cornfield. Bart told Erik they would wait there until birds began gobbling. “Gnats were already buzzing around my head, and for a while, all I heard was ‘buzz, buzz,’” Erik said. “By 6 a.m., we had only seen a hen on the field we were hunting. Then we heard some distant gobbles in the far back corner of the woods. We quickly ran to our van, drove part of the way toward the gobbles and walked the rest of the way to our spot.” Bart and Erik set up, and Bart began calling. Some gobbles echoed back in response. “We waited for about 20 minutes, and then three jakes walked out 15 to 20 yards in front of me,” Erik said. “These jakes had walked right from a food plot we’ve had planted for many years.” Erik slowly inched his 12-gauge toward his shoulder, trying to ignore the gnats, mosquitoes and other insects that buzzed near his ears. “The bugs were so bad that I almost flinched,” he said. “But I knew I couldn’t swat at them because I would scare away the turkeys.” With his gun finally in position, Erik tried to line up a bird. “My dad said to wait for one of the turkeys to stray away and separate from the group. Finally, one gobbler split off from the others, so I followed him with my red dot, and the ‘boom’ followed.” It was a good shot, and the gobbler was his. “I was very excited to have shot my first turkey,” Erik said. “It was a day that I’ll never forget.”




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If you’ve used Whitetail Institute products on your property and you’re a turkey hunter, you probably have similar stories. Food plots and young turkey hunters go together like, well, a striker and pot call. Consider taking a youngster on a food-plot turkey hunt this spring. The thrill of seeing an old longbeard strut and gobble for a gaggle of hens is something not to be missed. But I’ll warn you: It’s even better to see the look of awe and joy on a youngster’s face after he completes a successful hunt for that bird. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

KEEPING WEEDS IN CHECK Don’t Miss the Forest for the Trees By Whitetail Institute Staff t’s often said that death and taxes are the only certainties in life. We hunters and managers, though, know that there’s a third certainty: No matter how well we prepare our seedbeds, and plant and maintain our food plots, grasses and other weeds are going to show up in them at some point. When that happens, knowing how to deal with them can be confusing if you only focus on a particular method (a tree) instead of following an integrated approach (the forest). This article will hopefully clear up some of that confusion. To get the most out of this article, you’ll first need to have a good, general understanding of a few preliminary matters:

Preliminary Understandings What is a weed? Scientists use the term weed when describing any plant that’s growing where it’s not wanted. In this article,

we’ll use the same term when describing grasses and other weeds generally. When discussing specific general types of weeds, we’ll use common references such as grass for weeds that look like grass, woody weeds for weeds like briars that have a woody, hard stem, and broadleaf weeds as a catchall for most other types.

Weed Control Methods Cultural Weed Control: Any practice that enhances crop growth and uniformity is called cultural weed control. Examples including ensuring that soil pH and nutrient levels are, and remain, optimum for the forage to be grown on the site. “Uniform crop growth is the single most powerful form of weed control in any cropping system, including food plots.” — W. Carroll Johnson, III, Ph.D “Physical” or “Mechanical” Weed Control: Physically removing or destroying a weed or its seeds, rhizomes or roots. Examples include repeated ground tillage before planting, and periodically mowing perennials in the spring and summer. “Chemical” Weed Control: Herbicides. For our purposes, there are two kinds of herbicides: non-selective and selective. Non-selective herbicides don’t discriminate between forage plants and weeds. Instead, they can kill or damage any plants they enter. Non-selective herbicides include glyphosate, the active ingredient found in many Roundup brand herbicides and generic equivalents. Selective herbicides, such as the Whitetail Institute’s Arrest and Slay, kill or damage some plants without harming others when used as directed — and be sure to use them as directed. Otherwise, you can get no activity

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from the herbicide, or worse, kill or damage your forage plants. So remember: Before using any herbicide, consult the herbicide label. The herbicide label is the only official source of correct information there is. (A detailed article about herbicides is available at this link: http://www.whitetailinstitute.com/news/ind ex.php?topic=753.0.) Integrated Weed Management: An approach to weed control that incorporates cultural, physical and chemical weed-control methods to the extent appropriate for the forage.

The Forest (Goal): Healthy, Vigorously Growing Forage In his article, “Integrated Weed Management” (available on-line at the Whitetail News Archives link at www.whitetailinstitute.com), Dr. Carroll Johnson explains that physical, cultural and chemical weed control methods should be considered a three-legged stool. When it comes to things that will help keep grasses and other weeds from negatively impacting the quality of your food plots, nothing is more important than making sure your forage plants are healthy and growing vigorously. Making sure your forage plants produce as they should throughout their intended life isn’t hard. You just need to be sure you know what the steps are, and then follow them. For purposes of this article, we’ll group the steps into two categories: seedbed preparation and forage maintenance.

Seedbed Preparation Cultural Weed Control Steps: Select the correct forage for each site: Different forage-plant types grow better in certain soil and slope conditions than others. Let’s use as examples Imperial Whitetail

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Clover and Imperial Whitetail Extreme, two Whitetail Institute perennial forage products designed for different soil conditions. Imperial Whitetail Clover is designed for “good soil” (soils that have the ability to retain some moisture) in flatter sites. In contrast, Extreme is designed for sites that are well drained—areas with lighter soils that tend not to retain as much moisture, and that can also be more highly sloped. Because these two products are at the opposite ends of the moisture-requirements spectrum, neither might perform as well as it should if planted in a plot with the soil type and slope for which the other is designed. It’s easy to determine what Whitetail Institute forage product is right for each of your plot sites. An article explaining the process in detail is available at www.whitetailinstitute.com under the “Products” link. Laboratory Soil Testing: If possible, have your soil tested by a qualified soil-testing laboratory. Only a qualified soil-testing laboratory can tell you exactly what your soil pH and soil nutrient levels are, and exactly what lime and fertilizer you might need to add to get the soil in optimum condition for your forage planting. If possible, try to decide what you’ll be planting so that you can note that on the soil-test submission sheet. That will allow the lab to tailor its recommendations very precisely for the particular soil type and forage. If possible, it’s also a good idea to have your soil tested at least several months in advance of planting so that you can work in any lime you need early to give it more time to work. Addressing Soil pH if it is low: The most important factor you can control to make sure your soil is in ideal condition for your forage planting is to make sure that soil pH is neutral (between 6.5 and 7.5). When soil pH is acidic (lower than 6.5), then some of the nutrients in the soil are bound up in the soil and not available to the forage plants, and the lower soil pH is, the more nutrients are unavailable. Generally, if you plant in soil with a soil pH of 5.0, more than half of the fertilizer you put out can be wasted because the forage plants can’t get it. Having your soil tested by a qualified soil-testing laboratory is the only way to be absolutely sure you know whether you need to add lime to the seedbed, and how much and what blend of fertilizer you need to add to the soil for your seedbed


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are covered in the planting and maintenance instructions for each Whitetail Institute forage product, which can be found on the back of the product bags and also at www.whitetailinstute.com. Be sure that you also follow the instructions about whether to cover the seeds or not. Most Whitetail Institute food plot products are small seeds, which should be left on top of a smoothed, firm seedbed. The exceptions are Imperial Whitetail PowerPlant, Whitetail Oats Plus and Pure Attraction, which should be covered by a light layer of loose soil. If you’re not sure how to prepare your seedbed for seeding, contact the Whitetail Institute’s consultants for advice.

Physical or Mechanical Control Steps

Taking a soil test is essential for you to have your food plot thrive. to present optimum growing conditions to your forage plants. If your soil test report shows that your soil pH is acidic, don’t be surprised. Most fallow soils are acidic. If your report shows that your soil pH is acidic then it should also give you a recommendation for how much lime to add to the soil to raise soil pH to optimum levels. Add the lime as soon as you can, and disk or till it into the top few inches of the seedbed so that it can go to work as quickly as possible. This is extremely important if your forage plants are to flourish. Raising soil pH to neutral levels can also make it harder for weeds and grass to grow. Fertilizing: Unlike lime, which should be applied a few months in advance of planting if possible, fertilize according to your soil test recommendations immediately before planting. The three numbers separated by dashes on the front of bags of blended fertilizer are (in order from left to right) nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Generally, nitrogen fertilizer dissipates more rapidly than phosphorous or potassium when the fertilizer is applied and exposed to the environment. Waiting to apply fertilizer until just before you plant will help you be sure your fertilizer is at full strength when the forage plants germinate and begin to grow. Planting Depth: So far, we’ve talked about soil pH and soil nutrient levels. These

Repeated Ground Tillage (Optional): Does the soil in your food plot site contain lots of dormant weed seed? In most areas of the United States, fallow ground is heavily infested with dormant weed seed, so chances are, the answer is “yes”— and if you’ve ever tilled your soil and had weeds quickly sprout on their own, that answer is even more certain. In such cases, it can help to till the soil a few times at two-week intervals during the summer before planting. Doing so can bring dormant weed seeds to the surface, allowing them to sprout and start growing, only to be killed the next time you disk or till. A twoweek interval generally works well since any weeds that are going to sprout will usually have done so by then, and they won’t be old enough to flower and produce their own seeds within just two weeks. If you elect to incorporate this step into your seedbed preparation, try to till to the same depth each time.

Chemical Control Steps Non-selective Herbicides. (Optional): If your site is heavily infested with grass, consider performing your final tillage a month before your intended fall planting date, waiting two weeks for grass to return, spraying it with a strong glyphosate spray solution, and then planting two weeks later. If you elect to take this step, remember to not turn the soil again after you spray. It often helps to add an adjuvant such as the Whitetail Institute’s Surefire Seed Oil to the spray solution to help


boost the effect of the herbicide.

Forage Maintenance Cultural Weed Control Steps: Soil pH and Soil Nutrient Levels: When soil pH has been raised to neutral by incorporating lime into the soil, it will stay in neutral range for a while. How long, though, varies because of a number of factors, including soil type, how much lime was added, and how thoroughly the lime was initially tilled into the soil, fertilizer, organic matter and even acid rain. Since soil pH is so important to forage health and vitality, it’s a great idea to perform a laboratory soil test any time you’re even considering buying lime and fertilizer. That way, you can be sure that you’re buying all the lime and fertilizer you need to keep the soil pH and nutrient levels in the plot optimum for your forage (and to be sure you don’t waste money buying lime and/or fertilizer you don’t really need). Mowing: Periodic mowing is a step recommended for the maintenance of Imperial perennial stands. Generally, the Whitetail Institute’s maintenance instructions suggest that perennials be mowed a few times in the spring and summer, and if possible once again in early fall. Mowing in a timely manner can stimulate new growth as well as prevent the forage plants from flowering to produce seeds. The flowering process robs plants of huge amounts of nutrients and energy. Imperial perennial forages are designed to keep producing for years without reseed-

ing, and by mowing to prevent flowering, you’ll keep nutrients and energy in the forage plants where they’ll be available to your deer. Note: Don’t mow when conditions are excessively hot and dry.

you anytime you’re heading to your plots. That way, you can immediately put the pulled weed into the bag and prevent any seeds it may still have on-board from dropping into your food plot.

Physical or Mechanical Control Steps

Chemical Control Steps

(More on) Mowing: Many of the weeds we face in our food plots are annual, upright weeds that rely on flowering (reseeding) to maintain their presence in our plots. Giant ragweed is an example most food plotters have experienced. In addition to the cultural weed control benefits mentioned above, periodic mowing can prevent these weeds from having the chance to reproduce. To get the full weed-control effect, though, be sure to mow these weeds before they flower. Again, mowing a couple of times in spring and summer, and again in early fall is usually sufficient. Try not to mow too much off at once — taking off only a few inches is best. If you take off more than that, then you may take off too much foliage and/or expose more of the soil to sun and wind, allowing accelerated loss of soil moisture. Also, don’t mow when your forage plants are stressed, for example when conditions are excessively hot or droughty as we mentioned above. Hand Pulling: How often have you walked into a plot early in the season and seen just one or two weeds growing? In such cases, take the time to pull the weed, roots and all. Consider carrying a plastic bag with

Mowing is an important step in forage maintenance. Generally, Imperial perennial stands need to be mowed a few times in spring and summer. But, don’t mow when it is hot and dry.

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Unlike glyphosate, a non-selective herbicide (kills or damages any plant it enters), selective herbicides such as the Whitetail Institute’s Arrest and Slay products are tailor-made for keeping grasses and other weeds at bay in established food plots. However, not every herbicide is OK to spray on every forage. Generally, Arrest is for controlling most kinds of grass in any Imperial perennial forage and in any other clover or alfalfa, and Slay is for controlling broadleaf weeds in established stands of Imperial Whitetail Clover, and any other straight clover or alfalfa plot. To be certain Arrest, Slay or any other herbicide will control the grasses or other weeds you’re facing, and do so without harming your forage plants, the first step is to specifically identify the unwanted plants. Then, check the herbicide labels to make sure (a) that herbicide will control or suppress that specific weed or grass, and (2) that it is safe to use on the forage that’s growing in your plot. Again, the official herbicide label is the only 100 percent reliable source of information about the use, mix rates, storage, disposal, and other vital information about the herbicide. If you’re not sure whether Arrest or Slay is OK to spray on your forage, or whether it will control or suppress the weeds or grass you’re facing, call the Whitetail Institute’s inhouse consultants before you spray.

Closing Thoughts If you’ve struggled with weeds and/or grass in your food plots and haven’t known how to approach controlling them, I hope this article has given you a new vantage point. An integrated weed-control plan can keep your plots as weed-free and grass-free as possible. In most others, it will help you keep grasses and other weeds suppressed, meaning sufficiently in-check to minimize negative effects on the quality of your food plot. Either way, the practical result is the same: keeping your food plots as attractive and nutritious as possible. W

Vol. 22, No. 3 /


By Any Measure…

Whitetails are Nature’s Superstars By Charles J. Alsheimer Photos by the Author


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’ve had a storied career as a nature photographer and outdoor writer. My travels with camera have taken me from Australia’s Outback to the wilds of Alaska and points in between. During this journey, I’ve filmed a vast array of wildlife, from kangaroos to grizzlies. When it comes to wild animals, there is friendly debate as to which animal ranks as North America’s most athletic. Some argue that squirrels, big cats or mountain sheep are the best all-around when it comes to athleticism. Others say antelope, bears or birds of prey top the list. There is no question that some animals can run faster, jump farther and see better than whitetail deer. However, after pursuing most of North America’s big-game animals with camera, I’ve yet to find one that can offer the whole physical package like whitetail deer. Few animals can live with man and beast and still survive. The whitetail can. In short, it can out-maneuver, out-jump, outrun and out-survive anything walking the continent — including man.

Speed Demon You don’t have to spend much time around whitetails to know they have speed to burn. There may be a few animals in North America that can outrun a whitetail, but when it comes to putting the pedal to the metal or turning on a dime, the whitetail has few peers. On more than one occasion, I’ve been able to monitor a deer running in the open along side of an automobile. The top speed I’ve witnessed was slightly more than 40 miles per hour. This is pretty impressive considering the world’s fastest human barely tops 20 mph. Of course, a whitetail really shines in For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

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an obstacle-strewn forest, where deadfalls, thick brush and other natural hazards are the norm. Certainly topography and natural conditions dictate a deer’s speed in each situation, but it’s safe to say that a mature whitetail can easily run 25 mph in a forest setting. The consensus among experts is that whitetails are more sprinters than marathon runners. I’d have to agree with this assessment, though I have seen whitetails run up to a mile before stopping.

Scale Tall Buildings? Through the years, I’ve heard all kinds of statements concerning how high a whitetail can jump. Some say a deer can clear a 7-foothigh fence from a standing position. Others say they can easily clear an 8- to 10-foot-high fence if it has a running start. During the past 25 years of observing and raising whitetails, I have to admit that I’ve never seen one clear an 8-foot-high fence. I


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have seen many that have tried, but none made it. I have no doubt that the right deer during the right conditions could clear an 8-foot fence, but I’ve never seen it done. In every case where I’ve seen a buck or doe try to leap a high fence, they’ve hit it between 6-1/2 and 7-1/2 feet high. Whether they can clear 8-, 9- or 10-foot-high fences is immaterial. What impresses me most about the whitetail’s jumping ability is that it stands only 36 to 42 inches high at the shoulders and is capable of catapulting its body over obstacles more than twice its height. That’s impressive! By comparison, Olympic high jumpers cannot clear an 8-foot-high bar and most are taller than 6 feet. In my mind, a whitetail’s horizontal jumping prowess surpasses its ability to clear high fences. A deer’s ability to chew up yards of

ground with each bound is legendary. Two autumn’s ago, I photographed an incredible breedingparty sequence. An estrous doe was being pursued by a dominant buck and several lesserracked bucks. In one exchange, the dominant buck chased an intruding subordinate buck. With the dominant buck bearing down on him, the subordinate buck turned on a dime and ran for his life. Unfortunately, a 4-foot-high cattle fence stood in his way. At full throttle, the subordinate buck cleared the fence in one fluid motion. I was shocked by the amount of ground the airborne buck covered. When things calmed, I measured the distance www.whitetailinstitute.com

the jumping buck had flown through the air. It was just shy of 35 feet. I’ve seen a lot of running, jumping and bounding from whitetails in my life, but nothing like that scene. It’s something I’ll never forget.

Heavyweight Contenders

Ultimate Survival Machine In nature there are no gold medals for achievement. An animal’s ultimate award is its ability to survive to see another sunrise. For this to happen, each whitetail must use all of its physical and sensual abilities. Every

gift — be it running, jumping, sight, hearing or sense of smell — must hit on all cylinders for a whitetail to elude danger. When it comes to surviving, very few animals on earth can stack up to a whitetail. Their speed and jumping ability are legendary, but few outside the hunting fraternity know of their

When confronted, whitetails will nearly always attempt to outrun their enemies, be it man or beast. However, there are times when they will choose to stand their ground and confront their opponent. Simply put, they can dodge and weave or stand their ground and duke it out with the best of them. Even the biggest buck has cat-like reflexes that allow him to elude slashing antler tines. Of course there are times when “attitude bucks” opt to brawl rather than slash and jab when confronted by an adversary during the rut. During these confrontations, fighting can resemble Greco-Roman wrestling matches, in which opponents try to out-muscle each other by pushing and trying to throw each other to the ground. During these skirmishes, it’s usually a given buck’s gift of strength, balance and leverage that wins the day.


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fine-tuned senses. Sense of smell: You don't have to be around whitetails long to realize that they survive more times than not because of their ability to sniff out danger. Of all their senses, their sense of smell is the one that impresses me most. Speculation has it that deer can smell anywhere from a hundred to a thousand times better than man. Truth be known, we will probably never know what the real number is. However, what all deer enthusiasts do know is that a whitetail’s sense of smell is remarkable. By way of example, my whitetail research facility’s south fence line is 450 yards from the nearest woods. During the rut, when there is a wind out of the south, my bucks pace the south fence staring across open space toward the woods where wild deer are bedded. As they stand statuesque they often sniff and test the wind coming from the woods’ direction. This example tells me two things. They can smell other deer at least 450 yards away and they can sift through all kinds of odors to pick up the smell of an estrous doe. That’s pretty impressive stuff, if you ask me. Eyesight: Whitetails might not possess the

eyes of birds of prey, but don’t ever let anyone tell you deer cannot see as well as humans. Research done at the University of Georgia has shown that deer don’t have the same cellular structure as people but they certainly have the rod/cone cell make up to suggest they can see certain colors. Specifically, blue and yellow colors can most likely be seen by deer. Because deer see very well into the blue wavelength of light, they are able to see extremely well in dim light. So their nighttime vision is very good, equipping them with the ability to survive predation any time of the day or night. Hearing: Though a whitetail’s hearing ability doesn’t get as much attention as its ability to smell, it should. Time and time again, I’ve witnessed the whitetail’s unbelievable hearing. It’s been my experience that the deer’s ability to hear far exceeds that of a human. This is better understood through the writings of noted whitetail expert Leonard Lee Rue III, who summarizes the whitetail’s ability to hear: “The auditory canal openings in deer and humans are the same size; about one-third inch in diameter, but a deer’s much larger ear allows more sound waves to be

picked up and funneled. “Another advantage that deer have is that their range of hearing is much wider than humans’. Most human adults can hear frequencies in the range of 40 to 16,000 cycles per second. I know that deer can hear frequencies as high as 30,000 cycles and perhaps beyond. I often use a ‘silent’ dog whistle while doing photography, to get a deer’s attention and cause it to look at me alertly. These devices have been machine-tested to 30,000 cycles, and although humans can’t hear them, dogs and deer respond readily.” When you put all the physical attributes a whitetail possesses together, is it any wonder that they can survive unlike few animals on earth? They are incredible creatures, and despite the many advances in hunting technology during the past 20 years, man is still at a disadvantage when it comes to outsmarting a whitetail. Whitetails are the real deal; ultimate survivors. Their athleticism and physical attributes have allowed them to outmaneuver and outsmart the cagiest creatures for centuries, and this will no doubt be the case until the end of time. They truly are nature’s superstars. W


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Vol. 22, No. 3 /


REAL HUNTERS DO THE TALKING about Whitetail Institute products…


n 1972, I purchased 280 acres of farm land in Illinois. The property was initially purchased for farming and residence. At that time, the deer population was few in numbers and deer hunting potential was not realized. I killed my first buck by bow on Nov. 9, 1978; it was a 10-point, what we call today a basket rack. I have been hunting deer on my property with both gun and bow ever since. My property consists of 155 tillable acres, 65 acres which is bottom ground bordered by Otter Creek on the west. The remainder of ground is residence, timber, ponds, and deer plots. In later years, I started thinking about the remaining ground and how to enhance my deer herd; getting bucks and does in balance, along with their health, and developing my property to attract and hold bucks and does. I initially started researching food plots, timber management, bedding attractions, and companies that supply products and information on these goals. After a couple years of research, I decided on Whitetail Institute of North


leven-year-old Olivia Winfrey shot this nice 8 pointer on opening day with her dad. She used her mom’s gun on an Alfa-Rack Plus plot planted on her grandpa and grandma’s farm. What a good product.

Olivia Winfrey – Minnesota

America due to their years of research and valuable information they supply in all aspects of my goals. Seven years ago, I started with 3 acres of Imperial Whitetail Clover. This plot continues to be productive with fertilizing and with mowing and spraying for weed and grasses once a year. Each year since, I expanded my Imperial Clover plots in different areas of the property and now have approximately 12 acres in cultivation, some plots as small as 1/2 acre. Even my pond areas, where I had fescue planted for erosion purposes, Imperial Clover is now planted. I plan to plant 4 to 5 acres of Imperial PowerPlant this coming spring. As to my deer population; bucks have increased their antler size, some now past 170 class; does and fawns seem healthy with added growth. This property is hunted by family and a few friends. We are continuing to try to keep the herd in balance by maintaining buck to doe population. My research results and choosing Whitetail Institute for its products and information has enhanced my property for deer hunting beyond my expectations. Imperial clover is so prolific that I still have plots planted producing without having to replant. Attached is a photo of one of my Imperial Whitetail Clover fields around a pond and another photo of just one of the bucks we’ve taken.

Jay Stewart – Illinois


e have used Imperial Whitetail Clover since the late ’80s with great success. Before using Imperial Whitetail Clover we planted rye or winter wheat and had some success for the fall but had to replant each year. A big problem for us. Our property is 130 acres on top of a mountain in New York that we have owned since 1963. It had never been crop land. At first we planted rye in the fall to help fill our tags. We were very lucky to bag basket rack size bucks — 4 points and 6 points and even more common was spikes. After we heard about Whitetail Institute products my father called and purchased a bag of Imperial Whitetail Clover. We had great success our first season and every season since we see more deer and bigger bucks. Since then we opened up more fields and have more opportunity to bag nice shooter bucks. We get three to four years out of our fields. We took our largest buck to date an 11-pointer (146 B/C) this past year. Imperial Whitetail Clover really works.

Roger Sowicki – New Jersey


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’ve been hunting for 42 years. The property I hunt now is 98 acres and I have been there for 12 years. The property has hundreds of wild apple trees on it which has been good for holding the deer over the years. Two years ago we had a bad freeze in late May and this killed all but a few of the apple blossoms. After harvesting a 7-point on the third day of the season I hunted the next 17 days in a row without seeing a single deer. The entire season was more of the same (archery, shotgun and muzzleloader). Out of a 70-day season I hunted a minimum of 60 days, I saw maybe a dozen deer the entire time! At the end of the season I decided that I must do whatever it takes to prevent this from ever happening to me again. Food plots were the logical step to take.

When spring arrived it was warmer and dryer than normal and I was able to break ground much sooner than I expected. Everything went better then I hoped and I was able to break ground on seven small plots that total about 6 acres. This was what I hoped to have in by the end of the second year. Unfortunately spring also brought another late May freeze which killed all the of the apple blossoms for the second year in a row. I began by researching all the available companies that were selling seed and what they had to offer. The decision was easy after talking on the phone to the friendly and extremely helpful people at the Whitetail Institute. I started by ordering the free sample seed and DVD so I could decide on what to plant in each plot. I also purchased the Whitetail Institute soil sample kits for each plot and told them what would be in each plot. The information provided for me was simply amazing. Each sample was laid out for the seed that I was using in that plot and it told me how many pounds of fertilizer and lime to use not only per acre but also per 1000 sq. ft. This information was e-mailed to me in less than one week. Since this was all new to me I followed the instructions to the letter. I still had low expectations knowing that this land has never been worked before. To my surprise all but plot number 7 came in thick and lush with heavy deer traffic. Plot 7 was a name brand seed that was given to me and I have no idea how old it may have been but germination was under 10 percent. During the late summer I was able to take thousands of pictures on my camera over a Whitetail Institute 30-06 Mineral lick. Finally hunting season arrived on Oct. 16 and every day was full of new encounters. I passed on several small bucks and had encounters with

Mark Lenartz – Michigan

Keith Decker Sr. – New York



started using Whitetail Institute products about eight years ago. I started out with a 3-acre planting of Imperial Whitetail Clover. The deer loved it. That initial planting lasted around five years without intervention except occasional mowing. My kids started complaining after that because the deer sightings went way down so I resumed using Whitetail Institute products last year. I put out 30-06 Plus Protein with a little Kraze mixed in, spring, summer and fall. I planted PowerPlant in June and Imperial Whitetail Clover in early September. The deer came back! I’ve enclosed a photo of one of the bucks in our PowerPlant. I can’t wait to see what he looks like next fall. I love Whitetail Institute products. They work!

several larger bucks. I hunt western New York and would consider it to be a good day of hunting if I averaged seeing three or four deer per outing. This year I had double digit days of seeing 20 or more and as many as 45 with seven of them being bucks. These sightings exceed anything I’ve seen over the last 11 years here by five-fold or more! I would see two to 12 deer in the Imperial Whitetail Clover field every morning and nearly as many in the Alfa-Rack plot. The Pure Attraction plots are more secluded and I would see the deer in them 9 out of 10 times coming and going to my stands. Late one afternoon on my Imperial Whitetail Clover plot a doe was being chased by an 8 point and at about the same time a large buck stepped out as well. The result is this 201/2-inch wide 9-point that will soon be on my wall! This is the biggest buck to date for me. I can’t wait to start breaking new ground in the spring and adding additional food plots.


e bought our farm 15 years ago. We would see 5 to 10 deer in our fields in winter months. With the planting of roughly 25 acres in Whitetail Institute products over the last 12 years we now see on average 50 to 70 deer in the winter months. We now harvest bucks that score in the 150-170 class each year. The two products that draw the most attention for us are Chicory Plus and Imperial Whitetail Clover.

wanted to rave about PowerPlant. I decided to try my hand at planting a food plot this year, and with the awesome detailed instructions on Whitetail Institute’s website, I prepared and planted my plot with PowerPlant. I was absolutely amazed at how fast the plants sprouted, and thanks to plentiful rain in East Texas, it gets taller every week. The deer found it quickly, and now it doesn’t matter how heavily they browse, it just keeps growing. I can’t wait to see the difference in antler growth from this and other supplemental feedings. PowerPlant has created a raving fan. Thank you Whitetail Institute.

Steve Boon – Texas

Robert Wert – Pennsylvania

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(Continued on page 53) Vol. 22, No. 3 /


Unrealistic Expectations Are They Making You Crazy? By Craig Dougherty Photos by the Author

urn on hunting TV any night of the week, and most likely you will see a celebrity hunter pass up a couple of 130- to 140-inch bucks before taking the 170-inch Booner he was after. Often after doing a little touchdown dance, he will grab a handful of antlers, look straight into the camera and tell you how you too can be taking bucks like this if you’ll just buy whatever he is selling that week.

Everyone is happy. Then they start watching hunting TV and their heads get all Boone and Crocketty again. They raise the bar to 150 inches, and the misery sets in. They forget they are hunting Alabama, Georgia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania or Michigan, and those states and another 30 or so like them produce very few 150-inch or better bucks—much less many 170-inch Booners. They forget that all properties have limitations (including theirs) that will prevent them from growing deer like they see every week on hunting TV. They have set an almost impossible goal for their property, and within a few years, their hunting buddies are playing golf instead of planting food plots.

Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is important to enjoy your hunting. Neil Dougherty shot this great buck that was in the top 10 percent of the bucks on the property.

What he should be telling you is bucks like the one he just took are as scarce as hen’s teeth, and unless you are managing property located in just a few specific regions of the country (with almost perfect conditions for growing huge bucks), you had best forget about 170-inch bucks. While he’s at it, he should add that good management can lead to a much better class of bucks on your meat pole and increase hunter satisfaction immensely, but unless you set realistic goals and expectations, you may make yourself crazy. As deer property experts, we deal with clients every day who are actively managing property for whitetails and hunting. They are pretty much a gung-ho group of landowner/ hunters who are willing to do most anything to create a great hunting property. They create cover, plant food plots, pass young bucks and hunt intelligently. They do everything by the QDM book and work hard to implement our recommendations. Most see results almost immediately. Improved nutrition leads to an average weight gain of about 15 percent. Harvesting more does and letting young bucks walk lead to an improved buck-to-doe ratio and more and better bucks. They set a shoot-don’t-shoot buck policy — like a 16-inch inside spread or maybe a 125-inch minimum score — and by the third or fourth year, they are taking some nice bucks.


/ Vol. 22, No. 3


This is one of the most prevalent and debilitating problems faced by our clients who experience initial success. Many draw a trend line and expect to be growing world-class bucks in a few more years with a little more work. Sadly, it most often doesn’t work that way. We send them back to their initial site evaluation report and remind them of the limitations they face with their property. It could be poor soils, property size or location, or maybe a neighborhood full of yearling killers, or even a property plagued with swirling winds or poor access. Virtually every property has limitations that will keep you out of the B&C record book. But that doesn’t mean they can’t have the best hunting place in the county. It simply means they need to establish a set of realistic expectations. When it comes to big deer, the best way to set realistic goals and expectations is to apply the 10 percent rule. That is, set a goal for your property of producing the top 10 percent bucks in your area. Visit your local taxidermist, and ask him what some of the better bucks coming out of your area are scoring. Then get in touch with your regional deer biologist, and ask about ages, weights and antlers. If big buck contests are held in your part of the world, find out what kind of deer have been entered the past few years. Put all this information into a hopper (add the top 10 percent factor), and if you push the right button, a shoot-don’t-shoot bar will pop out. If you start consistently filling your meat pole with the top 10 percent, you can move it up to the top 5 percent or even 2.5 percent. And, if you have set it too high, you can always lower it. The trick is to set goals that are ambitious enough to be challenging and rewarding yet realistic and achievable. What 1IPUPCZ #  84  NJUI follows is eternal bliss. Understand, we’re not talking only antlers. Some folks, such as New Englanders and Mainers, think in terms of weight. Others, like us and many other QDMA diehards, are all about age. The 10 percent guideline works with any and all. And one more thing: With the advent of trail cameras, it is relatively easy to get a fix on the deer using your property during a given year. Some thought should be given to putting the green light on a few bucks even if they don’t measure up. Your bar just might be set too high. The goal is to have some fun, and nothing acts like a wet blanket to a camp full of hunters like a “nothing-here-to-hunt� announcement the night before the opener.

produce. That said, it is pretty hard to be disappointed when you are in the 90th percentile or above (county wide).

Age If you are managing a property of say 200 to 300 acres, raising the age structure of bucks using your property can usually be readily accomplished. The easiest way is to live in a state that protects young bucks with antler restrictions, brief buck seasons or some other program designed to reduce the number of young bucks taken by hunters. If the program is sound and everyone complies, you will see results almost immediately (year two). The second easiest way is to get a bunch of neighbors together, form a QDMA co-op and agree to cut back on the young buck kill. The larger the area, the better. The results will come slower, but in most cases they are seen in two to three years. The third easiest and yet most difficult way is voluntary restraint by you and the hunters hunting your property. If the neighborhood is not hunted to death and you have a sizeable property with plenty of food and cover, and you practice low-impact hunting, you should see results in two to three years. Age will do more to put extra inches on your bucks than anything else. Any fool can see that a 3-½-year-old buck will out-measure a



Grow row


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Getting To The Top After you have established a realistic set of goals and expectations, you can achieve them relatively easily if you understand the three cornerstones of creating great deer. Age, nutrition, and genetics are what deer are made of, and the deer you see on TV have ample doses of each. Unfortunately, most properties won’t even come close. That’s why you need to set realistic expectations for what you can




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yearling any day of the week. It would be great if all bucks could live to be 7-1/2 and express their full antler potential, but that is an unrealistic expectation. If you can get them to 4-½ to 5-½, you will be thrilled with the antler results and achieve a significant age accomplishment as well.

Nutrition Nutrition can be significantly improved on properties, too. Experts agree that good nutrition is a product of good soils, and good soils can be in short supply. However, you can always do something to improve the nutrition on the property you manage and hunt. Food plots are probably the most popular and effective method of improving nutrition. A good food plot can produce tons of highly nutritious forage per acre. We like to see our clients plant three percent to five percent of their property in food plots. The planting ratio should be about 60 percent perennial plots versus 40 percent annuals. We like to see

Over the years, we have been more concerned with getting age on our bucks. These deer will always be limited by our soils. But this great buck was taken on his way to an Imperial Clover plot.

plenty of nice nutrition-rich green stuff pop up in early spring, when does are close to birthing fawns and later lactating. Winter-weary bucks also need good groceries in spring to rebuild their bodies and for antler development. Annuals are fine for attracting deer for fall hunting and pre-winter nutrition, but the best food plot programs show a balance between annual and perennial plantings. Enhancing and even planting native vegetation can also move the nutrition needle in the right direction. On the planting side, you can plant all kinds of hard and soft mast species and see results in a few years. Native vegetation can be enhanced with judicious use of a chainsaw and pruning tool to release mast-producing trees and shrubs. Timber cutting works wonders. Any time you use a chainsaw to bring sun to the forest floor you have done well by your whitetail herd. A good nutrition program will add weight to your deer and inches to your bucks. Does, fawns, and bucks on most managed properties that we work with are typically 15 percent heavier than their counterparts taken on properties with poorer nutrition. Bucks seem to produce about the same amount of extra antler. Supplemental feeding can also be used to improve nutrition. It can be extremely costly when compared to planting food plots or enhancing native vegetation, and we do not often recommend it to clients. It is also illegal to supplemental feed in many states.

Genetics Unless you are working behind a high fence, genetics are virtually impossible to affect. According to the QDMA, the average size of a property managed by its members is slightly more than 200 acres. There is no such thing as a resident deer herd on 200 acres — or even 500 or 1,000 acres. Sure, some bucks are homebodies and tend to hang around certain areas, but if you think you are going to buy a half dozen $5,000 breeder bucks and turn them loose on your place to improve the genetic composition of the herd, you had better think again. Chances are, half of them will be three properties away by morning, and the rest of them will die of natural causes such as cars, disease or rival breeding bucks within a year. And if any of them manage to breed with wild deer, by the time their antler genes are passed on through a few generations, they will be so diluted they will make very little if any difference in the wild herd. The gene manipulation business is definitely a high-fence game where you start from scratch with breeder bucks and does.

So What Do You Do? Assuming you have set sensible goals, how do you achieve them? For starters, you can purchase a property in an area known for producing bucks with sizeable antlers or heavy weights. There are soil and mineral belts across states capable of producing deer 20 percent to 25 percent larger than surrounding areas. Working with ground like that can make life easier. You can also buy into an area (neighborhood) where QDM is practiced, and that will help you with the age equation. Some areas also seem to contain deer with better antler genetics (or maybe it is just the soils). This is an option well worth consideration if you are in the market for property. But most have already bought in and already own or lease the property they are working with. In that case, the most direct path to the 90th percentile is age, nutrition and hunting smart. But — no matter what — have fun! W


/ Vol. 22, No. 3




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


Feb 1 - Apr 1 Aug 1 - Sept 30 Feb 1 - Apr 15 Sept 1 - Nov 1 North: Mar 15 - May 1 Aug 1 - Sept 15 South: Mar 1 - Apr 15 Aug 15 - Oct 15 Apr 1 - June 15 July 15 - Sept 5 Apr 1 - May 15 Aug 1 - Sept 15


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

  21  22

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


Aug 1 - Sept 15


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

Call for planting dates Call for planting dates

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

Aug 1 - Sept 15

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

Sept 1 - Oct 30


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

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

   21  22

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

Aug 1 - Sept 15 Aug 20 - Sept 30



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


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

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

Aug 1 - Oct 1

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      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

Vol. 22, No. 3 /


Imperial Whitetail

Chicory Plus — Chicory and Clover Combo Keeps Attracting Deer Even In Droughts By Whitetail Institute Staff What is Chicory Plus?

bone of Imperial Whitetail Clover (and Chicory Plus), the Whitetail Institute actually developed completely new varieties. The Whitetail Institute’s research, development and testing to develop these clovers was conducted with a specific purpose in mind: to develop the best clover varieties the Whitetail Institute could create that satisho fied a broad range of goals specifically important can forget for food plots the drought

Put simply, Chicory Plus is a perennial forage product designed to provide everything Imperial Whitetail Clover does, but with the additional attraction, production and drought resistance of the Whitetail Institute’s WINA-100 perennial forage chicory. Let’s take a closer look at these compoof 2012? nents. Imperial It was one of the Whitetail worst in history. If you’re one of the Clover Comhundreds of thousands of hunters and ponents. managers who’ve seen first-hand what The ImpeImperial Whitetail Clover can do for your rial Whitedeer and you want to boost drought tail Clover story is altolerance even further, consider Imperial ready well Whitetail Chicory Plus, It offers the known to industry-leading performance of longtime Imperial Whitetail Clover plus the Whitetail Inadded variety, attraction and stitute cusdrought resistance of the tomers and the industry in generWhitetail Institute’s WINAal. It’s the first food 100 perennial forage plot product ever specifchicory. ically designed for deer, the No. 1 food plot planting in the world and the standard by which all other forage products for deer are measured. Like Imperial Whitetail Clover, Chicory Plus contains perennial clovers genetically developed by the Whitetail Institute specifically for food plots for deer. And take a moment to consider what that really means. It means that instead of choosing an existing clover variety to serve as the perennial back-


/ Vol. 22, No. 3

for deer. Examples of these goals include attractiveness to whitetails, rapid stand establishment, early seedling vigor, rapid growth, sustained palatability, high protein content and resistance to disease, heat and drought. And also like Imperial Whitetail Clover, Chicory Plus includes specially selected annual clovers to help the plot green up as quickly as possible after planting. WINA-100 Chicory Component. Imperial Whitetail Clover is extremely drought tolerant. Even so, the Whitetail Institute is never satisfied, no matter how good a product is, and always looks for ways to improve performance. In past years, droughts in some areas of North America prompted Whitetail Institute customers to ask for a product that would boost the drought tolerance of Imperial Whitetail Clover even further, and as always, the Whitetail Institute was listening. Chicory Plus is a prime example of how the Whitetail Institute meets its customers’ needs. The Whitetail Institute considered combining chicory with Imperial Whitetail Clover because of chicory’s general drought resistance. However, not just any chicory would meet the Whitetail Institute’s stringent performance standards. Like Imperial Whitetail Clover and all other Whitetail Institute forage products,




any chicory selected by the Whitetail Institute would first have to satisfy the Whitetail Institute’s research, development and testing goals. One of the requirements any candidate forage component must satisfy is exceptional attractiveness to deer on a sustained basis. Anyone familiar with the small-ruminant digestive system of deer knows how important forage palatability is. Deer simply cannot effectively use tough forages the way cattle can. Most chicories tested by the Whitetail Institute, though, became stemmier as the plants matured, and their leaves took on a tough, waxy texture, making them unsuitable (by the Whitetail Institute’s standards) for use in an Imperial forage product. One

chicory variety, though, exhibited the excellent drought tolerance of chicories generally — and it remained tender and highly palatable to deer even as it matured. That variety is WINA-100 perennial forage chicory.

Development of Chicory Plus When the Whitetail Institute identified WINA-100 as a chicory variety that would live up to its high standards, though, it didn’t just toss some of the chicory seed into Imperial Whitetail Clover and package it as a new product. Far from it. Instead, Chicory Plus had to start again with testing to determine the optimum ratios of perennial clover, annual clovers and chicory in the product for

top performance in all areas. Only after assuring the Whitetail Institute that these ratios were the best it could make them was the decision made to release the blend as Imperial Whitetail Chicory Plus. Chicory Plus is designed for good soils that hold moisture or soils that are slightly well drained. For best results, soil pH should be neutral (between 6.5 and 7.5). The Whitetail Institute’s recommended planting dates, and planting and maintenance instructions, are provided on the back of the product bags as well as at www.whitetailinstitute.com. If you have any questions about Chicory Plus, the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants are standing by to help. Call them at (800) 6883030. The call and the service are free. W

Chicory Plus is a perennial forage that provides everything Imperial Clover does, with the additional attraction, production and drought resistance of WINA-100 perennial forage chicory.


/ Vol. 22, No. 3


Minerals, Minerals, Minerals…

Packin’ on the Bone! By Matt Harper Photo by the Author


ook at the mass on that brute. He’s got Coke cans coming out of his head,” my buddy said.

My over-excited buddy was looking at some trail camera pictures from a card we had just pulled on a camera set up overlooking a mineral site on my farm. I was mindlessly looking at some aerial photos of food plots, and Andy was giving me a feverpitched commentary on what we had photocaptured over the past couple of weeks. Well, I have heard “Coke cans,” or more accurately “beer cans” (go figure), many times. It takes a pretty dang big base to even come close to the circumference of a Coke can. So I pondered my map a bit more because after the 300th look at it I might see something different, and only after the third urging did I saunter over to take a peek. My mouth hit the

floor. I could almost read Miller Brewing Co. between the burr and brow tine. I have to admit, I am a sucker for heavy, massive antlers. Sure, width looks cool, and tall tines jack up your score, but personally a buck with cranial bone that looks like a medieval skull crusher fires me up. I have been fortunate enough to take a small handful of these heavy-boned critters, and each time I do, it never ceases to amaze me how much mineral it must have taken to build such a monstrosity. That’s right, I said mineral. You might have guessed that I would have said protein because, after all, protein is what everyone talks about when it comes to antler growth. Protein nutrition is critical, but it is only one of the rack-building components. There are actually several nutrients involved in antler growth, but one of the major components is mineral. In fact, if you were to analyze a hardened antler, you would find that it is made up of 55 percent mineral and 45 percent protein. While mineral nutrition has not received

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as much press as protein through the years, more people are realizing the benefit of mineral supplementation. For years, ranchers and farmers have fed supplementation mineral to cows and saw the positive effects of heavier body weights, faster growing calves, improved overall health, higher milk production, improved breeding success rates and much more. Considering that the mineral needs of cattle are actually lower (based on body weight) than a lactating doe or a buck during antler growth, it would make sense that mineral supplementation could benefit deer as well. The lack of talk amongst the scientific community about mineral supplementation in whitetail deer is caused by the difficulty in traditional mineral studies on a wild animal. The way the mineral testing protocols are designed, all other variables must be taken away, and only the specific mineral in question is altered to find a result. Obviously, studying free-ranging whitetails would present a multitude of variables, so most reVol. 22, No. 3 /


searchers say that the benefits of mineral supplementation cannot be definitively proven, at least by traditional methods. However, after that official line is uttered, most would agree that from a nutritional, biological and physiological standpoint, supplemental minerals would very likely produce positive results. I have done academic research, and I understand the rules that must be followed and don’t necessarily disagree with them in principle. However, I also lean toward common sense thinking, and from that perspective, mineral supplementation, without question, is beneficial. Again, the benefit of mineral supplementation has been proven time and again in livestock, and considering the mineral needs of deer are higher than that of all major livestock species, it goes without saying that mineral supplementation in deer would produce positive results. But it is not just theoretical comparisons that prove the benefit of mineral supplementation. There are also a multitude of hard facts. First, if you take a map of the United States that depicts the mineral content of the soil by region and then over-lay a map from Pope and Young or Boone and Crockett, you will see that they nearly match. Where soils are high in mineral, big bucks are found. Even if you break it down to properties within a region, you will find that the farms with the highest mineral content regularly produce bigger bucks. Have you ever heard someone say that river bottoms are where the big bucks live? There are a couple of reasons for this. First, cover tends to be better along rivers and creeks, and second, river and creek bottoms have a higher mineral content because of water-induced erosion that builds up mineral over time. In my opinion the most telling example of the benefits of mineral is the results hunters and managers have experienced through the years when using a professionally formulated mineral supplement. Several years ago, Whitetail Institute introduced Imperial 3006 Mineral/Vitamin Supplement followed by Imperial 30-06 Plus Protein and later Cutting Edge Nutritional Supplements. Testimonials immediately started pouring in from every region of the country where whitetails live. “See bigger-bodied deer,” “fawns bigger and healthier,” “antler mass is bigger than we have ever seen” and so on. Year after year, and from all whitetail regions, these testimonials flood into the offices at Whitetail Institute. The enormous data set derived from all


/ Vol. 22, No. 3








Bone and teeth formation, muscle contraction, milk production and antler growth Bone and teeth formation, milk production and antler growth, important in acid base balance



Bone formation, enzyme activator



Muscle activity, major cation of intracellular fluid where it is involved in osmotic pressure and acid-base balance



Cellular respiration, hemoglobin



Hemoglobin synthesis, bone formation, hair pigmentation



Bone development, component or cofactor of several enzyme systems





Amino acid metabolism, fatty acid synthesis and cholesterol metabolism, bone formation and growth and reproduction Component of vitamin B12, needed by rumen bacteria for growth and B12 synthesis



Thyroxine formation



Involved in vitamin E absorption and/or retention

Source – Animal Feeding and Nutrition Seventh Addition – Marshall H. Jurgens

of these testimonials effectively removes most of the variables that clouds the answer that mineral supplementation is beneficial. OK, so we know that mineral supplementation can be beneficial in several ways to a deer herd. But what is the mode of action? How does it work, and why is it needed? Let’s tackle the why first. Can deer survive without mineral supplements? Of course, deer can and have for thousands of years. Can deer survive without mineral in the diet? Absolutely not. Mineral intake is essential for a deer’s life. But if you are concerned about more than mere survivability and instead want to improve the quality of the deer herd through nutrition, mineral supplementation is something to consider. It goes without saying that the better the nutritional plane of a deer herd, the higher the quality that deer herd will be. So if are wanting to try and improve deer body weights, fawn survivability or antler growth from their current levels, you will have to improve the nutritional plane, part of which is mineral content in the diet. Minerals have a host of functions that are directly and indirectly involved in the aforementioned herd characteristics. I am not going to delve into each one of these, but the reference chart above explains the specific functions of minerals. Deer naturally obtain mineral from the soil via the vegetation they consume or in some cases directly from the dirt. Mineral content of soils

varies greatly from region to region and even from farm to farm within a region. This variation is based on several factors, such as the rock/mineral make-up of the soil sub-layers, the age of the soil and erosion just to name a few. Ranching and farming practices also will affect mineral content of the soil. Plants require minerals to grow, and they uptake these out of the soil which in turn can be used by whatever animal consumes the vegetation. Unless properly managed, years of crop production and grazing will lower mineral content of the soil. It is a simple matter of more mineral coming out than what can be replaced, thus the lower mineral level. Therefore, even in highly productive agricultural areas, the soil is likely deficient in one or more nutritionally critical minerals. When managing for high-quality whitetails, one or more deficient minerals in the deer’s diet will result in less than maximum herd productivity. The mode of action or how minerals function in a deer’s body depends largely on the particular mineral and the specific physiological function. The antler-growing process for example involves several minerals, directly or indirectly. In particular, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and copper play critical roles. Copper is involved in the production of collagen, which is a protein substance that forms the structural matrix of an antler. Calcium and phosphorus are the two most prevalent minerals found in a hardened www.whitetailinstitute.com

antler. The transformation of velvet antlers to hardened antlers is accomplished by mineral deposits of calcium, phosphorus and others on the protein matrix of the velvet antler. These mineral deposits do not necessarily come directly from the diet but are pulled from the deer’s skeletal system and deposited in the antler. Antler growth is secondary to body health and condition, so if there are not enough minerals in a deer’s diet to replenish those pulled for antler growth, less mineral will be transported from the skeletal system to the growing antler. This will result in decreased antler density and likely less mass and overall growth. Mineral supplementation helps to ensure that these minerals are adequately available in the diet, and thus the maximum amount can be transported to the growing antler. Understanding how minerals work in a deer’s body, the important roles they play, the likely deficiency in most soils and the overwhelming positive results hunters and managers have realized has created a higher awareness, and more people have starting using mineral supplements. However, there still remains quite a bit of confusion when it comes to comparing mineral products that are out there on the market. As you probably already know, there are no shortages of them. All have claims of containing nutrients that will “pack on the bone,” or whatever it is that some clever marketing guy came up with. The truth, however, is that a close examination of these products will show some dramatic differences. To compare products, you must first have a general understanding of a few important factors of mineral supplements. Consider ratios. You might have heard or read something about calcium-to-phosphorus ratios. Minerals have complicated interactions amongst themselves, and each is only effective if formulated in the right ratios. In other words, you need so many parts of this one and so many parts of another one and so on. Think of it as a recipe, which is really what a mineral formula is. Too much calcium to phosphorus, or vice versa, will result in both being less effective. However, it does not stop with calcium and phosphorus. All minerals, macro and trace, have complicated interactions that must be considered when putting the recipe together. The particular form or compound that is used as a mineral source is also important. For instance, copper sulfate is far more digestible than copper oxide. The actual level of each mineral is also a key factor. There are products on the market saying that they contain 30-some odd minerals vital to antler growth but upon examination, you will find that the levels are often only .00001 percent or some such craziness, which amounts to basically zip when it comes to actual benefit. Finally, consumption is critical. Deer have to eat enough of the mineral to get the appropriate levels. So you need the right formulation with the right ratios, from the right sources with proper amounts all combined with targeted amount of consumption. Pretty simple huh? If you haven’t started a mineral supplementation program on your hunting property and it is legal in the state where you live, I would highly encourage you to start. I put out my first 30-06 Mineral/Vitamin Supplement several years ago and continue using mineral/vitamin supplements to this day. Even though I live in a highly productive agricultural area, the results I have seen have been dramatic and consistent. Higher body weights, heavier and healthier fawns and, yes, more massively big antlers. Food plots are important, and I have several acres of them on my farms. But I also realize the importance of the second piece of the puzzle of “packin’ on the bone,” is mineral/vitamin supplements. W

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Vol. 22, No. 3 /


Whitetail Institute RECORD BOOK BUCKS… Steve Scudder – Indiana I started using Whitetail Institute products more than 10 years ago on  a property that I had that didn’t have any agricultural fields nearby. I wanted something to attract deer and that would benefit them. I started out using Alfa-Rack and was impressed beyond belief with the attraction and the difference it was making with the body and antler size on the deer. A couple years later I planted an Imperial Clover plot and a No-Plow plot on another farm I hunted that had crops in every direction around it. Again, the deer were using them on a regular basis even with the crop fields close by. I would even occasionally watch deer walk across a green soybean field straight to the Imperial Clover patch and start feeding. Over the years I have used several of the Whitetail Institute products, annuals and perennials, and have had GREAT success with everything that I have planted. I have to say that even though the plots have turned out some very nice bucks over the years, my proudest moments have been seeing my son hunting over them and  taking several deer and turkey. The plots have been a key tool in helping introduce him into the hunting world. There is always some type of action in our plots, be it deer or turkey, and that keeps a kid’s attention.


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David Borg – Ohio

Deer keep the Imperial Whitetail Clover eaten down short. The Arrest herbicide worked great. I have a big hole where they have been eating the 30-06 Plus Protein. I have been seeing bigger and better bucks this year and killed my biggest buck ever this year in southeastern Ohio — 180-class 18-point. Thanks Whitetail Institute for your great products.

I have to say thank you to the Whitetail Institute for all of the great products and keep up the great work. I look forward to trying any new products that they come out with in the future as I know without a doubt that they will do as they say, attract and grow bigger and healthier deer! I’ve included some photos of some of the deer that we have taken since using Whitetail Institute products. Including my son Tristan’s deer and my best deer ever that we took this past year. It was a year of unforgettable memories for us to say the least. Words can’t describe the feeling I got as I watched my son harvest a 184-inch deer that we watched all year long. (Photo 1) That day in September went down as one of the proudest days of my life. Then later in December I was able to close the deal on a 235-inch deer that I had been after for three years. (Photo 2) I’m not sure how we could ever top last year or if we ever will, but you can bet that we will keep on with the Whitetail Institute products and making some great memories as we go. One very satisfied customer.


Bob Seckora – Wisconsin

Scott Shawley – New York

We started with Imperial Whitetail Clover about 10 years ago. Deer and turkeys were plentiful. It worked so well we tried Chicory Plus in another plot about three years later and the deer hammered the Chicory Plus too. Then I read about Winter-Greens and tried them and got the same results. Last year I put a test plot of Alfa-Rack in and I like it and so did the deer and turkeys. What’s nice about it is it’s a onetime planting and has everything you need for spring, summer and fall. These bow and gun seasons were very successful with a lot of deer hanging around the plots. The photo shows my bow kill from last year. He is a 10-point with 20-inch spread and he scored 156-plus inches.

When we first decided to plant a food plot we were skeptical of name brand products so we conducted a test of our own. We planted 1/2-acre of Imperial Whitetail Clover right next to a blend sold locally. The first year the results were pretty balanced. After that first year though, the results were amazing! The Imperial Whitetail Clover has outperformed the local blend by leaps and bounds. Since then we have moved on with Whitetail Institute and used

their products all around our farm. We are seeing many more deer, older deer, and bigger bucks. In fact, this year our neighbors, who don’t use Whitetail Institute products, complained about not seeing many deer. The last evening hunt of the year, my hunting partner, Mark Goud sat on a Pure Attraction plot and had 18 deer within 20 yards when he shot a 130-inch 8-point at 5 yards. Whitetail Institute brand products actually do what they advertise. They outperform their opponents! I’ve enclosed a picture of Mark’s deer and a trail cam pic of bucks on a trail leading to an Imperial Whitetail Clover plot.

Michael Smith – Ohio In April seven years ago I bought a rundown 17-acre farm almost in the city limits. This small parcel of land has been a Godsend! It was already prime deer habitat with old apple and peach orchards, over-grown pastures and a brush lined stream right thru the middle. I planted over 500 evergreen and hardwood trees, approximately 5 acres of CRP grasses and put in a 1/2-acre wetland. Next came the food plots. I’ve used about all of Whitetail Institute’s products with Imperial Whitetail Clover and PowerPlant being my favorites. The wife and I had already tagged 5 bucks in 6 years on this property but this year we each scored nice bucks 10 days apart. Mine was an exceptional 186-inch non-typical Boone and Crockett. I am extremely happy with Whitetail Institute products and will continue to use them. Note: my deer was taken with a crossbow and my wife’s deer was taken with a muzzleloader.

Keith Graham – Illinois I killed this buck Dec. 23 last season at 4:50 p.m. over an Imperial Whitetail Clover plot. He gross scored 168 inches. W

Send Us Your Photos! Do you have a photo of a buck that qualifies for the Pope & Young, Boone and Crockett or your state record books that you grew or took with the help of Imperial products? Send it to us and you might find it in the Record Book Bucks section of the next issue of Whitetail News. Send your photo and a 3 to 4 paragraph story telling how you harvested the deer and the role our products played to:

Whitetail News, Attn: Record Book Bucks, 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043 For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

Vol. 22, No. 3 /


Imperial Whitetail PowerPlant


Welcome to the

By Whitetail Institute Staff

Imperial Whitetail PowerPlant is a spring/summer annual designed to get lots of protein into your deer right when they need it most: during spring and summer. If you’ve planted PowerPlant before, you probably smiled when you read the title of this article, because you’ve seen for yourself how thick and tall PowerPlant can grow. If you’re planning to plant PowerPlant this spring for the first time, though, you’re in for a surprise: PowerPlant is designed to produce tons of succulent, high-protein foliage that deer find irresistible as a forage and a bedding area. The combination makes PowerPlant an extremely beneficial and versatile forage from spring to early fall. In this article, we’ll look at why PowerPlant is such an excellent tool for folks who want to push their deer as far up their genetic-potential ladders as possible. We’ll also answer some questions our in-house consultants regularly receive about PowerPlant and give you some tips on how to get the most out of it.

Why Plant PowerPlant? Because it is specifically designed to get lots of protein into your deer when they need it


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most — during spring and summer. Realize that there are two parts to that answer: lots of protein and getting it into your deer. If you’re looking to boost antler size, the forage you select must do both. And PowerPlant does.

Lots of Protein Need. It’s no secret how important protein is to deer during spring and summer. Bucks, for example, start growing new antlers in early spring. When you consider that antlers are the fastest-growing animal tissue on earth, and that the growing, or velvet antler is about 80 percent collagen (a protein), it really hits home how important protein is during this time. And that’s not just true for bucks — it’s during this same period that does are also going through their own physiological process that require lots of protein, such as pregnancy and, later, producing milk for their fawns. Natural protein shortfalls. Generally, bucks require an average of about 16 percent protein in their diets and does about 18 percent. Unfortunately, Mother Nature sets a pretty sparse table when it comes to protein. Most natural forages have protein contents in the single digits, and to make matters even worse, many can quickly be exhausted and/or become too stemmy for deer to effectively digest. While natural food sources in the spring are usually enough for bucks to grow antlers and for does to produce healthy fawns and milk, rarely are they anywhere near the levels needed to do what we deer managers want: to give our deer access to the much higher protein levels deer need to be as healthy and grow antlers as big as they can. And that boils down to one thing: If you expect your bucks to realize as much of their

genetic potential for antler size as possible, you should supplement naturally available protein during spring and summer. PowerPlant is specifically designed to do just that, and it works. PowerPlant produces lots of high-protein foliage. Independent university research has shown that PowerPlant produces more highprotein forage for deer than any competing product tested.

Into Your Deer Tonnage alone, though, isn’t enough. Remember what we said earlier? PowerPlant produces lots of protein and gets it into your deer. We’ve already covered protein production. Now, let’s look at why PowerPlant is such a great tool for getting protein into your deer to maximize antler size and herd health. Forage Quality. The term forage quality is commonly used when describing how well a forage does what you want it to. For purposes of evaluating spring/summer annual plantings for deer, forage quality basically means how well a forage gets protein into your deer and keeps doing it throughout spring and summer. To excel at that, the forage must satisfy several requirements. It must: • produce foliage that’s high in protein • produce a lot of it • keep producing well even after deer start eating it • be highly preferred by deer. It’s important to understand that all these factors enter into the equation. For instance, it does little good to have a high-tonnage, high-protein forage that deer won’t eat. The same is true of a highly attractive high-protein forage that can’t withstand heavy grazwww.whitetailinstitute.com



ing pressure. Consider summer peas, for example. You might be surprised how many times folks who’ve never tried PowerPlant call the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants and say something like, “I planted peas for my deer last spring. They grew to about six inches tall, and then the deer quickly wiped them out.” Then again, you might not be surprised if you’ve tried to rely on just peas for a spring/summer deer forage and had the same thing happen.

PowerPlant delivers big-time in all these categories because that’s how the Whitetail Institute designed it: specifically for use as a deer forage for spring and summer. PowerPlant is a Blend of Multiple Plant Varieties. Like other Whitetail Institute forage products, PowerPlant is a blend of multiple plant varieties. Why? Because in most cases, blends of multiple plant varieties can maximize overall performance of the forage stand if the components in the blend have been carefully selected and included in the proper ratios the way the Whitetail Institute does it. And PowerPlant is one of the best examples you’ll find of how well that works. PowerPlant contains two general categories of components that, together, maximize tonnage: forage varieties and structural varieties. Let’s look at each in greater detail. Forage Components. PowerPlant’s forage components are forage soybeans, Lablab and forage peas. And make no mistake — these are true forage varieties, and that makes a big difference. For example, the soybean in PowerPlant is designed to emphasize foliage production, unlike agricultural soybeans, which are designed for bean production. No doubt, agricultural soybeans are attractive to deer. But they can suffer from early overgrazing, and they can tend to become stemmy and less palatable to deer as they mature. The forage bean in PowerPlant grows in a vine and remains palatable to deer. And when it establishes, it can continue to grow and produce


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forage for your deer even as it is browsed. Structural Components. In addition to the forage varieties mentioned above, PowerPlant contains small amounts of sunflowers and a high-quality wildlife sorghum, which act as a trellis for the vining legumes to climb and maximize production instead of growing along the ground. Each forage and structural component has been carefully selected and then included in the correct ratio with the others for PowerPlant to produce as abundantly as the Whitetail Institute can make it. And as with all its forage products, the Whitetail Institute spares no expense when it comes to research, development and real-world testing of its forage products. The result is a high-protein forage stand that produces heavy tonnage that keeps producing even as deer feed on it, and that is highly attractive to deer —both as a food source and for cover.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions Can I plant PowerPlant anytime during the recommended planting dates published by the Whitetail Institute? Yes, provided you also heed this instruction on the front of the bag: That means a constant soil temperature of 65 degrees day and night. This is very important because of the general nature of spring/summer beans and peas: They’re among the most fragile seeds and cannot handle cool, moist soil. An easy way to be sure you don’t plant too early is to check with a local farmer or farm-supply store to see when farmers in your area plan to plant their agricultural soybeans. What is the smallest plot the Whitetail Institute recommends for planting PowerPlant? That depends in large part on whether you have what you’d consider normal or heavy deer density. Here are some general rules of thumb regarding plot size:

Should I spray my PowerPlant stand with a herbicide to control competition

from grasses and other weeds? No. It’s unnecessary. If you are concerned that grasses or other weeds may overtake your PowerPlant planting, finish your ground preparation a few weeks early, and spray any weeds that return with a Roundup-type glyphosate herbicide a week or so before you plant your PowerPlant. How long into the fall is PowerPlant designed to last? PowerPlant is designed to last until the first frosts of fall, and then deer will consume any remaining beans and peas. To keep the site drawing deer after frosts, should I remove the PowerPlant stand during my fall planting dates and replace it with a fall/winter forage? You can certainly do that, but here’s a trick for getting full benefit out of the forage bedding attractiveness of PowerPlant, keeping the plot drawing deer later into the season, and creating a great hunting setup at the same time. Keep in mind the plot size minimums recommended above (one acre in areas of low to medium deer density and 1.5 acres in areas of heavy deer density). Either situation will leave you with a big enough plot to exercise this option. During your fall planting dates, mow some relatively narrow lanes through the growing PowerPlant. Make the lanes so that you allow enough room to plant a fall annual in them but not so wide or so many lanes that you destroy its bedding attraction. Then, lightly till the clippings into the soil. That often results in newly sprouted bean and pea plants, which are highly attractive. Also, plant the lanes in your favorite Whitetail Institute fall annual, such as Pure Attraction, Whitetail Oats Plus, Tall Tine Tubers, Winter-Greens or No-Plow. You’ll find that can keep the plot attracting deer much later into fall and winter. Plus, during the early season before frosts arrive, deer will step from the PowerPlant into the planted lanes all throughout the day, making for a great hunting setup. When should I order PowerPlant? PowerPlant is usually ready for delivery each year by the first part of March. The Whitetail Institute runs out of stock most years, and when its stock of PowerPlant runs out for the year, it’s gone. So, try to order early if you want to be certain you’ll have the advantage PowerPlant can give you in helping your deer be all they can be. If you have any questions about PowerPlant, give the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants a call at (800) 688-3030. The call and the service are free. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

Brad Herndon

From Weekend Warriors to Master’s Degree Food Plotters

By Brad Herndon

f I were to ask 50 deer hunters whether they wanted to see more deer or bigger deer, I’m betting I would get this answer from many of them: “Both.” (Yes, we all know there are a few wiseacres in our deer hunting community. In fact, I might be one of them.) Overall though, in regards to this question I believe many hunters would probably say bigger, and a few who live in low-density whitetail regions would say more. The truth be known, however, if the habitat could sustain it, we all would like to see lots of deer with several trophy buck sightings per day being the norm. Why shouldn’t we want those hunting conditions? Out of curiosity, the Whitetail Institute of North America set

out to see to what lengths the readers of Whitetail News would go to see not only more deer, but higher-scoring bucks. Keep in mind at this point that both of these goals may be possible without increasing the deer population. Our interviewing process covered everything from the weekend warrior to Master’s Degree food plotters. You will find this information fascinating.

The Weekend Warrior By definition, Merriam-Webster Dictionary says a weekend warrior is “ … a person who participates in an usually physically strenuous activity only on weekends or parttime.” In other words, a weekend warrior who just happens to be a deer hunter is a person who has a limited amount of time, and may also have limited monetary resources. Yet simply through hard work and the sweat of his brow he accomplishes some rather amazing things in deer management. Tom Eller is such a guy. Let’s see how this hunter with a wife and four children uses food plots. Like many hunters in the southeast, Tom Eller belongs to a hunting club. Eighteen individuals hunt a 2,300-acre lease. In the early 1980s soybean farming was prevalent on this land, but a paper company purchased the property and turned it into a pine plantation.

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Most of the hardwoods are gone except those remaining along ditches and streams. The land is flat to gently rolling, with two streams and several small tributaries. It’s hard to squeeze a food plot out of a pine plantation used for growing trees for paper, but Eller and his buddies do it. Sometimes they can put in one where a few trees are down, and sometimes they can expand a grassy area into a plot. Incidentally, this lease lies in the Black Belt area of Alabama, and it contains varying soils. Since the rut hits this region in mid-January, a product that works well for this time of year is required. “We set bush hog dates, and planting dates, and a few of us get together and really hit it hard,” noted Eller. “We do take soil tests of our plots, lime as needed, fertilize and do what it takes to produce good forage. We use tractors for heavy work, but ATVs are used to a big degree for spraying, broadcasting seed, and dragging. We use a chain link fence and drag it with an ATV. Much of what we use isn’t fancy, but it works.” After experimenting with a variety of products, Eller and buddies settled on using Imperial Whitetail No-Plow in their area. “We found that by using No-Plow we could plant half the seed of other products and get better results,” Eller said. “In late season NoPlow is fantastic! The deer jump on it. We Vol. 22, No. 3 /


once had 12 racked bucks in one small plot at the same time. My brother ended up killing a 150-inch brute, and I shot an 8-point grossing in the 130s.” Most plots on this lease are one-half acre to one acre in size, with the biggest being three acres. A variety of stands are used. Ladder stands may be located in wooded regions, box stands on the edge of food plots, and several tripod stands have to be used in the sections where only small pines are growing. A monster deer in this region is 140 inches and up, and a 120 to 140-inch buck is considered big. Moreover, Tom Eller and his friends have designed a network of small food plots that pull numerous whitetails out of a huge, totally wooded region that contain few strategic ambush points. And they also kill the best bucks the area has to offer in these same locations. Eller is one of many weekend warriors who are experiencing great results with


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Bart Landsverk

Dan Smith shot this large Wisconsin buck on the Anderson properties by putting a lot of time and effort into his food plots.

small plots, and having lots of fun and fellowship in the process.

A Master’s Degree Food Plotter Thus far we’ve seen how weekend warriors can use small food plots to increase deer sightings and kill a region’s best bucks. Now let’s visit a whitetail hunter in Wisconsin who started out as a weekend warrior and has since “kicked it up a notch.” Tim Jepsen and his wife, Linda, have four children. Both have full-time jobs, yet both are devoted whitetail hunters who contribute considerable time to deer management on their 350-acre tract of property, which is all in one piece. The terrain on this property is a mix of flat and hilly land, containing both oak hills and a few swamps. Tree coverage is 25 percent evergreens, 75 percent hardwoods. Over the years Jepsen has cut out a lot of Jack Pine and planted numerous Nor-

way spruce. Archery gear is their favorite style of deer hunting, with firearm hunting second. “Like most deer hunters I started out with about a half-acre food plot that I put in with an ATV and a disc,” Jepsen noted. “My first crop was Imperial Whitetail Clover and it certainly attracted deer. At first I experimented with various seeds but always had the most success with Whitetail Institute products, so I’ve used them ever since. I rate them a 10.” The year Jepsen planted his half-acre food plot was 1990. A 2-1/2 year-old buck was a top-end sighting during this time period. As the years went along he increased his number of food plots, and always gave careful consideration to their placement. For example, a summer food plot may be in an area where it is hard to hunt, while a fall and winter food plot will be set in a location where the deer feel comfortable using it during hunting seasons. “I have from 13 to 17 stands in place,” Jepsen remarked. “We have a few ladder stands, but three-fourths of our stands are hang-ons. All are placed only after considering what the best wind directions are for each placement. We do erect stands back in the timber because I find the better bucks will oftentimes scent-check the food plots for estrous does from a distance, and I take advantage of this.” As Jepsen increased the number of food plots, he also increased some of them in size. Therefore he hooked up with a local farmer to do the brunt of his work for him. Today he has 80 acres of food plots on his 350 tract. Twenty acres are in Whitetail Institute products. The rest is planted in soybeans and corn. The farmer plants and harvests these fields for a percentage of the crop and comes out well on it with today’s corn and soybean prices. The farmer does leave behind a certain amount of standing corn and soybeans, so it’s easy to see how so many acres on the property are in food plots. It’s good for Jepsen, the deer, and the farmer. Jepsen still uses an ATV coupled with a chisel plow to do smaller food plots in hard-to-get-to locations, and this works out well. Today the soil on this property has been built up and maintained, so a variety of products will do well. Today Jepsen primarily uses Imperial Whitetail Clover, Winter-Greens, Whitetail Oats Plus, and Tall Tine Tubers. “I plant different products at different times of the year,” he said. “Clover, of course, will last for years and www.whitetailinstitute.com

provides quality forage. I’ll plant some Winter-Greens in late July for fall and winter hunting. I’ve also started using Whitetail Oats Plus and it has been a tremendous success too.” During the summer Jepsen uses seven surveillance cameras to take inventory of his deer herd. His family also spends considerable time shed hunting and their eightyear-old son Skylar is the champion because “he is close to the ground.” They found a set of sheds last year that grosses 181 inches if given a 17-inch spread. The Jepsen family considers any buck 140 and up a shooter and their two best bucks to date go 173 and 171 inches. That’s quite an improvement from a 2-1/2-year-old buck. They are trophies that are certainly worth the hard work that has been put into their property.

Master’s or Doctorate Degree Food Plotter? Although the title of this article only goes to Master’s Degree I’m not sure we shouldn’t hand out a doctorate degree to Mark Anderson of northwestern Wisconsin. As we southern Indiana hillbillies say, “He’s whole hog into this deer management business!” Anderson had a desire for better hunting and he knew owning his own land would enable him to achieve that goal. In 1999 he found some affordable land in northwest Wisconsin — 3-1/2 hours away. Despite the distance, the 160 acres were soon purchased. Anderson described the property as “an old farm with grown-up fields.” “There were several deer on the old farm,” he said. “The first year I started cleaning up the place and put a quarter-acre food plot in with my ATV and a disc. Most everyone starts with Imperial Whitetail Clover, and so did I. I basically knew nothing about food plots back then. What I have learned over the years has come from reading articles, watching videos, talking to other hunters, and by experimenting. I saw lots of deer on my food plot that first year.” The Anderson farm had hardwoods on it, evergreens, and swamps. It had been cut over, so Anderson made a point to leave every oak he found in place. He even left oaks in food plots since it was one more food source to draw whitetails into one specific area. Talking about a learning process—he once planted 17,000 pine seedlings only to have quackgrass choke out most of them. He sought out a DNR forester and they came up with an approved herbicide to kill

out the quackgrass. He uses a forester to help him properly manage his timber resources, and since his first disaster he has planted approximately 100,000 pine trees on his properties. I say properties because since 1999 Anderson has purchased two more tracts within six to eight miles of each other. He and his wife, Tammy, (they have three children) now own 800 acres. It’s worth mentioning at this time that the majority of deer hunters who own land didn’t have it given to them, nor are they extremely wealthy. Most of these families have made many sacrifices to own their own properties and I admire them for their commitments to a goal. Over time Anderson has increased his food plot numbers. Presently he has 20 food plots varying in size from a quarter acre to 5 to 7 acres. Total acreage of all of these plots is 4050 acres, and they vary in configuration. Some are square, some rectangular, some “L” shaped, and some are in strips. Each design is used for a specific purpose, which is sometimes dictated by the terrain configuration on the properties. Anderson still sprays his plots using an ATV-mounted sprayer. After this, his equip-

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ment gets bigger. Try a 2007 John Deere 5425 4WD with 95 horses. He has a grain drill for the tractor, a disc at each property site, and more. And by the way, he buys Roundup in 30 gallon drums. He also uses a bulldozer to make small roads which allow him to enter and exit different areas in a lowimpact manner. Also, each of his stands has a special trail to them. His current crop favorites are WinterGreens, Imperial Whitetail Clover, corn and soybeans. He has some interesting planting designs in use in his food plots. Anderson uses a variety of standard tree stands, some 200 yards off his food plot. But right on some of the plots he does have box blinds 7-foot x 7-foot in size. They have rubber roofs, are 10 feet tall, and have stairs leading up to a platform. This makes it safe to get in and out of the blinds. If you were to step into one of his box blinds on one of his bigger plots during hunting season, here is what you would see. First of all, you would see 12 rows of standing corn bordering the entire perimeter of the plot. This makes the deer feel safe. You would also notice strips of soybeans, corn, WinterGreens and Imperial Whitetail Clover within

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the perimeter rows of corn. “I’ve found when planting in strips like this, leaving all of the corn standing, the deer are much more relaxed, and they stay in the plots longer,” Anderson duly noted. And obviously this arrangement is all laid out to encourage the deer at some point to come within good shooting range of the box blind.

Shooter Bucks When Anderson first purchased his property a good buck would gross 115 to 125 inches. Today he considers a shooter something in the 140s, 150s, or better, and he may see three or four shooters on some hunts. The family’s best buck to date is a 186-inch bruiser. Over the past 10 years his family has killed ten bucks scoring more than 140 inches. I could hear the excitement in his voice when Anderson told me his favorite time to hunt. “My favorite time to hunt, by far, is the late season,” he remarked. “The deer simply pour into my food plots during the late season when it gets cold and the snow gets deep. I can document pulling deer into my property from as far as 5 to 10 miles away. This is when I may see three or four shooters per day. The deer destroy the Winter-Greens at this time of year, and as a result we kill our biggest bucks in late season.”

Closing Out As can be seen, the readers of Whitetail News go to extreme lengths to improve their hunting experience. Certainly the weekend warriors derive much satisfaction from their hard work since they draw in more, and better, deer. Likewise, the Master’s Degree food plotters are blessed as well for the efforts they have been able to put into deer management, especially since much of it was carried out with the help and approval of their family and friends. All of the folks at Whitetail Institute of North America feel privileged that they have been able to be a big part of such positive deer management improvement for more than 20 years. W

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


Research = Results™

/ Vol. 22, No. 3

Controlling the whitetail herd varies from region to region. In most areas of our nation the whitetail herd is much too large so there are a high number of antlerless deer permits issued each year. Deer managers, however, should evaluate the deer population on their own particular tract of land. This can get extremely interesting. For example, in northwest Wisconsin where Mark Anderson has his land, there are wolves, bears, bobcats and coyotes as predators. Anderson said that when a pack of five or six wolves move into a section of land they can decimate the whitetail herd in a few weeks. In the spring, bears are on the prowl for fawns and kill several of them. Bobcats also take a toll, and coyotes get their share, too. So while most of us may only have to monitor what damage the coyote is doing, Anderson has to more carefully study the fawn kill by predators each year in order to determine whether to shoot doe in the fall, or not.


What’s New with


New forage components make best-selling No-Plow even better

By Whitetail Institute Staff

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 longrunning 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 customer-driven 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. 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 developed for deer. The same is true of Imperial Whitetail Extreme, which is 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.

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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 the primary R and D 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 through spring; and yes, the capability to thrive even when planted with minimal ground preparation. Rarely will a 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 Imperial Whitetail No-Plow has been on the market to know that. The final test blends that went on for realVol. 22, No. 3 /


world testing on free-ranging deer consisted of three main component groups: brassica, annual clovers, and forage grains and grasses. These were the same basic component groups in No-Plow when it was 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 attracting deer right away. Usually, deer tend to concentrate on the forage grains and grasses first and then the clovers. When the first frosts of fall arrive, the brassicas in NoPlow become even sweeter and continue to attract and hold deer into the coldest months. After winter, the annual clovers continue to provide much-needed nutrition for deer as they recover their winter health losses and bucks begin to re-grow antlers. All that is nothing new to folks who’ve used No-Plow before this new version became available. 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 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 NoPlow that you’ve relied on for years. 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. 3

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


A Magical Season By Cory Roberts Photos by the Author

I had begun prepping my Whitetail Institute Pure Attraction food plots in late July and had also put out some trail cameras on some 30-06 mineral sites. The pictures of big bucks in the area started rolling in. It looked like we were going to get some rain on Aug. 16, so on Aug. 14, I planted all my Pure Attraction food plots. The rain came, and by Sept. 10, I had lush Pure Attraction plots, and the deer were already pounding the oats. The trail camera photos had revealed several really good bucks, but I had my heart set on one. He was an unbelievable buck with a main-frame 10 with split G3s on both sides. He also sported long brow tines and tremendous mass. He appeared to be a Boone & Crockett buck, and from that point, I concentrated all my efforts on killing him.

I had a pretty good idea of where he was coming from, but as I monitored his travel routes, he was coming out in three places into a five-acre Pure Attraction food plot. He was hitting the field almost every night 30 to 45 minutes before dark. I had to prepare and figure out which travel route I was going to hunt. It became clear it was going to be a southeast wind opening day, so my decision was easy. It was going to be the ditch stand and that was awesome. This stand is one of my favorites, and several big bucks have fallen there. I just needed him to cooperate and come off the ridge where he was bedded and down to me. I would be set up 125 yards off the food plot at the bottom of a saddle that funneled them off the main ridge where he was bedded and to the food plot. Opening day came, and I arrived at my stand at 4 p.m. and got set up. It was a cool fall day, so the four-hour sit I had awaiting me would be very comfortable. As the evening progressed, a few deer started to filter off the ridge right down past me. Things were looking really good. Several does and a

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few small bucks came by and headed to the Pure Attraction food plot. About an hour before dark, I heard a deer start working down the ridge and my heart started to race. I was just hoping it was him, and as the deer worked down I could tell it was a big buck. When the buck stepped out of the timber into the creek ditch opening, I knew instantly it was the one I was after. He stood facing me at 40 yards, checking things out for what seemed like an eternity. Then he started to walk toward me to the creek ditch crossing, and as he came to the ditch edge, he stopped, perfectly broadside at 30 yards. I drew my Mathews bow to full draw, settled in on his crease and let the arrow fly. The arrow hit its mark, and the buck instantly high kicked, crashed into the creek and ran past me. With blood spilling out of the deer, I knew it wouldn’t take long. Then I heard the sound I wanted to hear. He crashed 50 yards behind me, and it was over. I had just killed my biggest buck ever with a bow on opening day. I was jacked up, the adrenalin was flowing Vol. 22, No. 3 /


This monster 9-point routinely used the Imperial Pure Attraction food plots and 30-06 mineral sites. and I thought I might come out of the tree. The anticipation of getting my hands on those antlers was killing me, so I packed up my gear and climbed down. The short walk to the buck didn’t take long, and I was in awe as I walked up on him. The gnarly bases with huge mass, the length of his main beams and long tines were overwhelming. I thanked the good Lord and admired the buck. He ended up gross-scoring 181, and I was tickled with that. Now some might think that was the end of my season, but in Iowa as a landowner, I get three buck tags, so it was only the beginning. I got my landowner’s tag as a bow tag and waited for the rut to hit. I started hunting again Nov. 2 and was only able to sit a few mornings and evenings because of some clients I had in for deer hunts. On Nov. 8, my early rut bow clients were done and had left, and I didn’t have anyone coming until Nov. 16. The rut was kicking pretty hard, and I had myself in the tree bright and early on Nov. 9 for an all-day sit. The wind was out of the northwest, so I had myself on a ridge that led into the southern corner of a doe bedding area. To the northwest was a Pure Attraction food plot that the does were going to. The morning was slow, but at 10:45 a.m., I started to hear a lot of racket coming from the direction of the food plot. As it got louder and closer, I realized it was an all-out war be-


tween several bucks over a hot doe. As the chasing and fighting continued, I finally got a look at the biggest buck, and man was he big. Huge spread and long main beams with long tines — he was a giant. The encounter got close but the deer never presented a shot, and the smaller bucks eventually worked off.

The big buck and the doe moved off the side of the ridge and disappeared. As the day wore on, I kept wondering where the deer bedded and whether I would still get a crack at him. The afternoon was pretty slow until 3:30 p.m., when a mid-140s 10-pointer came out of the bedding area and walked off the side of the ridge where the buck and doe did. My question had soon been answered when it all erupted again. The big buck and doe had been bedded only 100 yards from me, and the fight began. The doe started to head up the ridge to me, and the buck continued to chase off the other buck. As the doe got closer, she was heading directly toward my stand. The buck soon followed, and he was headed toward me while the smaller buck retreated. The doe continued her march toward me and was eventually right under my tree. I kept thinking, “Could this really be happening? And then I couldn’t believe my eyes. She bedded down right under my tree, and the big buck was getting closer. I found myself in the perfect spot, and I was ready for him. He slowly marched his way in, head bobbing side to side with his giant rack. Then the moment of truth — the buck stopped at 12 yards, and I was already at full draw. I waited as he was quartering to me a bit and then he turned broadside. I took a deep breath and as soon as the arrow flew there was an instantaneous whack. The buck was This great muzzleloader buck capped a magical season for the author.

/ Vol. 22, No. 3 www.whitetailinstitute.com

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SOIL TEST KITS Whitetail Institute

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

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


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


/ Vol. 22, No. 3

hit well and he bounded off from where he’d come. He made it about 100 yards and then started to sway back and forth. I knew it wouldn’t be long, and he soon fell on his side. The amount of pure adrenalin that ran threw me was overwhelming. After 20 minutes, I stood over another giant whitetail buck. He was only a 9-point but was wide with long beams and had really good length on his tines. With another giant buck down with my bow, my season was on hold until late muzzleloader season, which wasn’t for another 39 days. The temps climbed in early December. It was abnormally warm, and there wasn’t any snow on the ground. It didn’t look good for late muzzleloader season, and hunting was getting tough. Without any snow in the forecast, Dec. 19 arrived — opening day. I knew I was only going to hunt the evenings, so I didn’t need an early-morning start. I had decided that I was going to hunt a tripod stand on the same five-acre Pure Attraction food plot where I had killed my opening-day bow buck. By then, the deer had wiped out the oats and were primarily feeding on the turnips and brassicas. They were still very lush and had turnips the size of softballs. I had been seeing a couple of really big 8-pointers there, and I had decided I was going to kill a management deer with my gun. I got set up at 2 p.m., and the wait started. Nothing was moving, and I was starting to think it was going to be a bust. The magic hour came, but nothing was in the field. I kept checking my phone to see how much time I had left. Then, with 25 minutes to go, the train of deer started. Doe, yearling, yearling, doe, doe, yearling, little buck, little buck and then a big buck. I put my binoculars to my eyes and realized this was one of the big 8-pointers I had been seeing. As the other deer came out in the field, he stood along the edge of the timber at 200 yards, checking the field out. Finally, he started his march into the field but wasn’t getting any closer. The rest of the deer started moving toward me but light was quickly fading. The buck eventually turned and was walking in my direction, but then he stopped and turned broadside at 180 yards. I had about 10 minutes left, and I figured that was as good as it was going to get. I raised my muzzleloader, dialed the power up to 9 and settled in for the shot. One deep breath, and boom, the shot was off. The black-powder smoke engulfed me, but as it cleared, I caught a glimpse of the buck hunched down and digging hard as he ran into the timber. I felt good about the shot, and it was just a waiting game. After waiting an hour, I went out to the field and looked for blood. I couldn’t find any sign of blood, so I decided it would be best to wait to look until morning. It was a very sleepless night, but finally the sun rose, and I was in my truck headed to the farm. One hour later, I was back in the field looking for blood. I didn’t find any, but I followed the buck’s tracks into the timber and found a few small drops of blood. The buck was right on a main trail headed back to the bedding area. I continued down the trail and came to the ditch creek crossing. I stopped, looked up and there he was on the other side of the ditch in some brush. I jumped over the creek and soon found my hands on his nice rack. He was about as nice of an 8-pointer as you can get. What a great way to end a magical season. There was a lot of hard work that went into this season, but I firmly believe that without my Whitetail Institute products I could not produce, pattern, and harvest the deer that I do. I have tremendous success hunting on and around Whitetail Institute food plot products and have enjoyed managing my deer with all of the products they offer. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

What Farmers Have Taught Me Valuable lessons from people who grow plants for a living By Scott Bestul Photo by the Author

t’s not a world-beater buck, but it’s my Dad’s. And when your father is 82 years old, still climbs up to tree stands, continues to shoot a bow, and works as hard at deer hunting as men half his age, well, the buck doesn’t have to win any contests but the one held in the hearts of a family. As far as the Bestul Clan is concerned, a certain Minnesota 9point is the biggest whitetail that ever walked the planet. Dad shot the buck off the corner of a little food plot this past fall, and it was the third mature whitetail that swung through that patch of Imperial BowStand that day. The plot, planted on a log landing created by a timber sale this past spring, is far from large; a truly good archer could shoot the entire plot from the stand we hung. But the Pine Tree Plot — imaginatively named for a huge white pine growing nearby — didn’t have to be big to draw deer. Instead, the small food source accomplished its one and only mission: attracting does

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Vol. 22, No. 3 /


throughout the early season and, by default, acting as a buck magnet when the rut kicked in. When a plot you can throw a rock across manages to do everything you wanted it to — and results in a trophy buck my family will treasure forever — it’s cause for celebration. If it sounds like I’m celebrating any kind of personal success, I apologize. The Pine Tree Plot blossomed as a food source only because I saw the bare dirt left by a logger and mumbled, “That might make a good food plot.” The person I said that to happened to be a farmer. And in the course of several seasons my neighbor Alan (the farmer and my bowhunting buddy) has shown me how someone who makes things grow for a living approaches food plots. What follows, then, is what I’ve learned.

Weeds Are Your Enemy Farmers abhor weeds like Democrats detest a tax cut, and a food plotter should be just as serious about keeping his plantings clean. Alan taught me early that herbicides can work wonders on a plot, even a small spot like the Pine Tree Plot. After we’d selected the site, Alan blitzed the weeds with a liberal dose of Roundup in early summer, followed by another application a week or two before planting in August. Anyone who’s paid attention to today’s modern agriculture recognizes that the days of a weed-choked corn or soybean field are largely gone. By the time we were ready to plant, our dirt was black-soil bare; devoid of nutrient-grabbing invaders. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money or buy fancy equipment to achieve a largely weed-free plot. Roundup (and its generic equivalents) is widely available and relatively cheap. And you can spray most plots with an ATV boom sprayer (also getting cheaper) or even a backpack type sprayer like those used by homeowners. Also, by planting plots later in the growing season — we planted the Pine Tree Plot in August — you can often reduce weed competition by tilling after many weed species have germinated for the year. This approach helped our cause tremendously.

Sun Is Your Friend Getting adequate sunlight to a plot is no problem in some areas, but in others — particularly log landings like the Pine Tree Plot — it represents one of the chief challenges.


/ Vol. 22, No. 3

Granted, the seed types included in a bag of Bowstand will succeed in minimal sunlight, but in virtually every case, the more light you can shine on a plot, the better. Farmers know this like second nature, and Alan made sure that I got my lesson before I tossed the first seed in the ground.

It’s important to note that achieving such success isn’t a matter of cross-your-fingersand-pray-for-rain; it’s a logical, step-by-step process with measurable results. The Pine Tree Plot was virtually surrounded by sun-blocking trees. Clear-cutting the area was an option, but not the most attractive one in this case. So we identified a few critical trees that were shading the plot and removed them. In each case, the tree we cut was on the southern side of the plot and shaded our planting during the mid- to lateafternoon hours when the summer sun could benefit our plants the most. The trees we removed were also low in timber value (elm, basswood), which wasn’t hard to determine, because the loggers had taken all the good stuff. Felling a few sun-blockers was a nobrainer and resulted in enough light to keep our plants thriving.

Machinery Is Good You can make a fine little plot with nothing more than a steel rake and a whole lot of sweat. But I won’t lie: You can make an even better one with a diesel engine. An increasing number of food plotters are investing in small tractors to do the heavy lifting on plot installation and maintenance (if you doubt this burgeoning market, price one of these nifty little numbers someday; the sticker shock will knock you over). Alas, I can’t afford this investment, but I have neighbors — like Alan — who I can call on to help me out. Alan’s tractor not only made short work of tilling our plot, but he also had a blade that cleared some heavy debris from the plot and expanded its borders. What if you lack the next-door neighbor with machinery? One option is to ask around the neighborhood and find someone who’ll do your heavy lifting. I know several property owners who have knocked on the doors of

area farmers and arranged a per-hour fee for doing plot work. One of my close friends pays his neighbor a mere $300 per summer to work three small plots. This computes to a small annual investment for my friend (and a whole of saved labor) and a $40 per hour rate for the farmer. The arrangement satisfies both parties. Obviously rates will vary, but most fees will seem a bargain when you compare them to buying your own tractor.

Commit To The Long Haul The final lesson I’ve learned from farmers is perhaps the most important: They look at things long-term. Beefing up the corn production in a certain field isn’t a one-shot deal, it’s a commitment. Alan and his dad are some of the best corn and soybean growers in our county (I’m not just bragging up my friends; they actually hold competitions for this stuff, and my buddies have the ribbons to prove their prowess), and they didn’t achieve that success by a “good-enough” attitude. If a field produces 200 bushels of corn one year, they shoot for 210 the next, and they usually make good on their goal. It’s important to note that achieving such success isn’t a matter of cross-your-fingersand-pray-for-rain; it’s a logical, step-by-step process with measurable results. Building pH or inputting adequate fertilizer in a field isn’t done overnight, and there are no quick fixes. I’ve seen this first-hand when Alan and I planted a small plot with Imperial Whitetail Clover a couple of years back. That first season we had the most beautiful clover I’ve ever planted, thanks to soil testing and applications of fertilizer. I was tickled to death with our results, but guess what? The next year the plot grew an even prettier crop. And I expect similar results in the Pine Tree Plot.

Conclusion I doubt that most food plotters are different than me. I don’t have a ton of money, my free time comes in inconvenient streaks, and my greatest temptation is to step back from a newly planted food plot and say, “Well, that’s a heckuva lot better than nothing.” And indeed it might be. But I also know this much; I got a whole lot better at growing stuff when I started listening to and mimicking the practices of folks who grow plants for a living. Judging from the success we enjoyed at the Pine Tree Plot this past fall, I think it’s a practice I’ll keep repeating. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

REAL HUNTERS DO THE TALKING about Whitetail Institute products… (Continued from page 25)


’ve been using Imperial Whitetail Clover for about 15 years. The Arrest and Slay herbicides help my weed control a lot. The clover attracts a lot of deer and turkeys. I never used to see so many turkeys and deer; they really love Imperial Whitetail Clover. The deer have bigger antlers and its fun to sit in my blind and watch all the animals. The buck activity has really increased a lot. I have also informed my friends and they also love Imperial Whitetail Clover. All my neighbors complain because I draw the deer to my land. I also killed a 178-inch deer last year.

from the north to the south so I went and sat about 40 yards off the plot. At approximately 4:50 p.m. two bucks, a 6- and an 8- point, came off the hill toward the plot. My heart started pounding as the eight point eased off the ridge and stopped at about 35 yards. As he was watching the younger buck I drew my bow and shot him right behind his front shoulder. When I finally got down and noticed my arrow was a complete pass through, I was even more excited. Along with the photograph of this deer, I am also enclosing two more photographs of bucks that were killed within 150 yards of my plot. Robert’s 8-point buck, which had a 20-1/2-inch spread, was taken with a muzzleloader on Dec. 5. My other 8-pointer was taken on Christmas morning, and they both scored around 130 inches. Thanks Whitetail Institute!

Barry Popp – Michigan

Daniel Seiber – Tennessee



have used several Whitetail Institute products, with which I have had much success. I have seen more deer on my property of 149 acres, and the antlers have really improved. I started hunting this land 10 years ago and three years after that I started seeing major changes in the herd. It was that spring that I planted Imperial Whitetail Clover and No-Plow. By summer the deer had really started hitting my plots. But the most improvement came, when I mixed Winter-Greens with the clover. I then decided to put cameras in my food plot, and to my surprise I saw bucks that I did not know existed. I first saw a 6-, a 7-, and then an 8-point buck. Even though he was not a 150-inch deer, he was the one I really wanted to take, since I had never taken one with my bow. Since the wind wasn’t right for me to hunt the plot, I stayed away until Oct. 15. That evening the wind changed


ver the years I have used a wide variety of Whitetail Institute products and I am still using them with much success. In the spring I plant PowerPlant in one of my plots and in the fall I rotate in Whitetail Oats Plus. The deer love them both! I use both NoPlow and Secret Spot in some of my harder to reach areas and they have done well, even in shady areas. The Whitetail Institute products are of the highest quality. I harvested the buck (enclosed photo) a short distance from my PowerPlant food plot and on a trail leading to one of my 30-06 Mineral lick stations.

Charles Massey – North Carolina

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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. 3 /


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

Herbicide Adjuvants: Critical Tools to Get the Most of Your Herbicide Dollar As I write this article, my twin daughters are seniors in high school. Both are taking an elective class at our local junior college so they can experience an early introduction to the challenges of college. They could have chosen all sorts of “easy” classes, but they enrolled in freshman level chemistry. Talk about an indoctrination by fire. Watching them sweat (and excel) in this chemistry class brings back all sorts of vivid memories from my earlier years. I believe that most of our population is genetically prone to being intimidated by chemistry. Knowing that, I am delving into a topic that is chemistry-heavy. Sorry — it cannot be avoided. Herbicide adjuvants are additives that improve herbicide performance. That sounds simple enough. However, “herbicide adjuvants” is a confusing topic and I have been in the weed science business for 33 years. Confusion is due to no standardized terminology and there are hundreds of proprietary brands of herbicide adjuvants sold by farm chemical distributors. This spells confusion for everybody — me included. The best way to discuss herbicide adjuvants is to generalize and simplify. In commercial agriculture, herbicide adjuvants can be sorted into five broad groups. 1. Surface-active agents — help spray droplets spread, adhere, or penetrate the leaf cuticle of weeds. 2. Spray buffers — alter the pH of the spray water and address hard-water issues.


/ Vol. 22, No. 3

3. Compatibility agents — used to help herbicide combinations overcome chemical or physical incompatibility. 4. Suspension aids — help non-water soluble pesticides maintain suspension in the spray tank. 5. Drift retardants — alter the spray droplets to reduce off-target spray drift. Fortunately, there only two of these categories that are likely to be encountered when using herbicides in food plots; surface-active agents and spray buffers. The rest are of minor importance in food plots.

Surface Active Agent A surface active agent affects the relationship between the spray droplet and leaf surface. One type of surface active agent is a non-ionic surfactant (NIS). A NIS reduces the surface tension on the leaf surface allowing spray droplets to uniformly spread over a larger area. The best way to illustrate the role of a NIS is to consider the slick waxy surface of a cabbage leaf. Water droplets bead on the cabbage leaf surface and promptly roll off. An NIS added to water breaks the surface tension and the water droplets evenly spread on

the cabbage leaf surface. By breaking the surface tension on the leaf surface and allowing the spray droplet to spread, herbicide coverage and retention on the leaf surface is significantly improved which greatly enhances performance. Another type of surface active agent is a crop oil concentrate (COC). A COC is a combination material; a blend of paraffin-based petroleum oil (or a vegetable-oil) combined with a NIS. The oil component enhances herbicide penetration through the leaf cuticle, while the NIS component increases the sticking-spreading properties on the leaf surface. COC will form an emulsion when added to the spray tank — an opaque milky suspension in water. Of the herbicides commonly used on food plots, COC is the best example of an adjuvant that allows you to get more from your herbicide dollar by improving herbicide efficacy and consistency. Arrest herbicide has its performance optimized when a COC is used. My personal recommendation: when applying Arrest, use a COC to ensure that you get the most out of your herbicide dollar. Slay performs well when using a NIS or COC. My personal preference is to use a COC with Slay since overall performance is in-


creased (colloquially — the herbicide is “hotter”) with a COC, although chances of clover and alfalfa stunting are slightly increased by the COC. My rationale is that Slay is truly a small-weed herbicide. While that characteristic is well known, my own real-world experiences have shown me that weeds are often a bit too large when Slay is actually applied. The COC helps overall weed control using Slay when weeds are slightly larger than ideal. I caution readers that a COC does not give license to be lax when applying Slay. However, the COC provides a little wiggle room in terms of timing and helps you get more from your herbicide dollar.

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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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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. 3

Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron are present in water in varying concentrations. The degree to which calcium and magnesium are present is commonly called water hardness. Water with dissolved minerals <114 ppm is soft water; 114 – 342 ppm is moderately hard water; 342 - 800 ppm is hard water, and >800 ppm is extremely hard water. I live in southern Georgia where virtually all potable water is well water originating from the extensive Floridian aquifer, drawn from underground limestone caverns. Our water is commonly classified as medium hard. In my locale, buffers are often added to spray water to help negate the effects of water hardness on certain types of herbicides. Ammonium sulfate (AMS) is the most commonly used spray buffer. Not all herbicides need a spray buffer like AMS. However, some herbicides are formulated as a salt to improve stability and handling. In food plots, Slay (ammonium salt of imazethapyr) and Roundup (potassium salt of glyphosate) are examples of herbicides formulated as a salt and these herbicides are prone to being adversely affected by minerals in hard water. The large amount of dissolved minerals in the hard water will bind with the parent herbicide molecule and form an insoluble salt. This reduces herbicide performance. Hard-water antagonism is easily and effectively negated by the use of AMS as a spray buffer. Sprayable-grade AMS reduces hard-water antagonism in two ways. First, the sulfate portion of AMS combines with the hard-water minerals, reducing mineral interference with the herbicide patent molecule. Second, AMS is an acidifier that alters the pH of the spray water such that the herbicide parent molecule is in a chemical state that is efficiently transported through the leaf cuticle. AMS does not replace the need for a NIS or COC. In fact, they are often used together. Sprayable-grade AMS will be found at agrichemical or fertilizer dealers and is sold as a dry or liquid product. Every herbicide label has specific recommendations for herbicide adjuvant use and these statements need to be followed. Often, instructions of the adjuvant label are in general agreement. However, in cases where statements differ, the default position is to follow the instructions on the herbicide label. Finally, here are a few random points somewhat related to herbicide adjuvants that are relevant. • A dishwashing detergent is not a substitute for a NIS. Detergents contain a very low percentage of surface active agents. • Most glyphosate products contain a surface active agent, usually a NIS. Additional NIS may not help, but does not hurt. Controlling woody or perennial weeds with glyphosate may be improved by additional NIS. • Using additional herbicide adjuvants does not necessarily mean that herbicide rates can be reduced. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

UGLY BULLIES REVISITED By Bill Winke Photos by the Author

Andrew Winke, the author’s son, with an old buck that he took during the late season a few years ago. The buck had worn his teeth almost off and was obviously never going to get any bigger. Such bucks serve little purpose in the herd and may take up positions in the dominance structure better occupied by bucks with bigger antlers.

few years ago I wrote an article for Whitetail News about my thoughts relative to one possible way that deer management can go astray. I titled the piece, “Invasion of the Ugly Bullies.” In that piece, I brought out a number of points related to how deer management can produce a group of mature, but small-antlered dominant bucks on some properties. And as a result, these “ugly bullies” can take over certain pieces of real estate and keep out other bucks that might have better antler growth potential.

That is how the world of the whitetail works. There can only be a certain number of mature, dominant aggressive bucks on any piece of property. When fall comes, they don’t tolerate each other very well. And once you reach that limit, something has to give. In my experience, it is the younger bucks that have reached breeding maturity and are looking for their own place to dominate. They are the ones that are left looking for other ground to roam. In my area, this happens when they are 4-1/2 years old. We see some very nice 3-1/2-year-old bucks each year that seem to be regulars. We don’t believe they are shot on other properties (they couldn’t all be every year), but it seems most are gone by the next year. I believe that by age 4-1/2 they are ready to have their own turf that they control without having to pay homage to some other older buck that may be holding sway there already. In other words, if my farm has reached its maximum number of mature, aggressive, dominant bucks, these newcomers to the world of dominance battles have to leave. Rarely does it seem that they win out and the older, ugly bully pulls up stakes. Remember, dominance has almost nothing to do with antler size. It has to do with attitude, body size, aggressiveness and often age (which seems to contribute to all those other factors). A dominant buck can be a thick-horned six-pointer that scores 90 inches but has a big body and a mean disposition. He owns the part of the property where he

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spends the majority of his time and he doesn’t tolerate rivals in his realm. Either he has to go or the younger buck, with potentially better antlers will have to go. If that old bully isn’t leaving, (and he probably isn’t) then we have to remove him. It is that simple. That was the entire premise of my first article on this subject and I concluded it with the plan to start removing more of the ugly bullies from our farm in the future. Well, here we are a couple of years later and it’s time for me to report on our success and what I have learned through this process.

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My plan was simple — kill as many of the ugly bullies from our farm as legally and physically possible. The primary tool for shooting these deer was going to be myself and the cameramen who go out with me each day. We both carry legal weapons to the tree, so if a buck comes in that is mature but is one I don’t want to shoot, I offer the opportunity to the cameraman, who rarely says no. Most of these bucks are trophies only insofar as their age. But that has become a good criteria for us when judging the trophy hunting experience. We find that we get plenty of satisfaction out of shooting bucks we have been after for several years even if they don’t have big racks, so these ugly bullies have become prime targets on our pre-season hit lists. We actually have come to look forward to hunting them. So it is a simple plan — kill as many of them as possible. Our simple goal each season is to shoot at least four. There are probably twice that many here.

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/ Vol. 22, No. 3

By their very definition, ugly bullies are old bucks. Any time you hunt an old buck you are going to have an uphill battle. Killing four, well that is a big task. The attempt to cull out that many of these deer proved frustrating. You can hunt all season to get one shot at a specific fully mature buck, so we had our work cut out for us. Removing old bucks is never easy, only aided by the fact that there were several and we weren’t going to be choosy.

The Opportunities Along the way, we learned something interesting. A few of these bucks went from being extremely elusive at five and six years old to being very visible and almost easy to kill as they got past age six. It was not something that I expected, and after I realized what was happening I asked several serious deer hunters I know if they had seen this over the years. I was pleased to learn that I was not the only one seeing this type of behavior. The reason I say I was “pleased” is because it gives me new hope concerning the bucks on our farm that seem to be phantoms – that only move at night. Some of our old bullies fell into this category, but we found that if you can wait them out, they sometimes get easier to kill as they get older. Of course, that doesn’t really serve the goal of getting them out of the herd as soon as possible; they have been bullying other bucks for a long time. I am going to throw out an idea backed only by my own observations and not by any research of which I am aware — other than the observations of myself and other deer hunters. It seems that the eluwww.whitetailinstitute.com

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

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siveness of a buck peaks when he is five or six years old. When not hunted hard, they are pretty easy to see and would be easy to kill at one, two and three years. They are a bit harder to see at four and seem to disappear at five. At seven they start to appear regularly again, almost as if they are three-year-olds again.

The author with one of his bullies.

Executing the Plan I’ve had two seasons now where my goal has been to remove at least four of these ugly bullies each year. Two years ago, I killed a mature ten-pointer, a good solid mediumcaliber trophy — not a bully buck. My friend Mike Sawyer filmed his friend, John Reynolds, shoot a true bull of the woods that year. John’s buck was giant-bodied, bad-tempered and came in ready to kick butt to the snort-wheeze in the middle of a windstorm. That buck definitely fit the bill of what we after — a true bully buck in every sense — with a mediocre 130s scoring 8-point rack. Our son, Andrew, shot an old buck with worn-down teeth in December over a food plot using a muzzleloader. That buck was acting like a youngster, paying no attention to all the noise we were making in the ground blind only a short distance away. Again, he was a very old buck, with a small rack. I am not sure he was a bully, but he was certainly old and was taking up space. In January of that season, my cameraman, Chad Lathrop, shot a mature, short-tined heavy-horned ten-pointer. Though mature, that buck wasn’t necessarily a bully from our observations of his behavior that fall. In other words, I think our grand total of bullies two years ago was just two. A couple of others gave us opportunities for shots but for various reasons we weren’t able to capitalize. The neighbor killed one of them, which was nice. So, if everything had gone perfectly, we would have shot four bullies ourselves that year with a total of five of them falling. But how often do things go perfectly? It was not super hard seeing the bucks, but it was harder than I thought for the guys in the tree with me to get those bucks killed. I learned as much about other bowhunters that year (and the mistakes they commonly make) as I did about deer. Just an FYI, the biggest problem was getting the guys to be aggressive enough. They tended to wait far too long to get their strings back. Shots at mature bucks are fleeting. These kind of deer don’t often just waltz in and then stand there as you draw and aim. Instead, you have to be ready when they offer that first killing shot. It may be the only decent shot you get. If you snooze, you lose. Last year, our success rate was a bit better. I shot one very old buck on Nov. 24, a deer that we had been hunting for years. He was almost entirely nocturnal, offering only a very few (less than five) daytime photos on the trail cameras during a stretch of two seasons. However, last season, we saw him three times during daylight and I ended up calling him in and shooting him the morning of Nov. 24 as he was looking for does. He was a true bully buck in every sense, big-bodied, stout-antlered, short-tined — an old warrior who had controlled a part of our farm for many years. Not only was it good to finally remove him to make room for other bucks, but it was very rewarding in its own right to shoot such a veteran buck. The whole experience was as memorable as any I have had while deer hunting. Earlier in November, cameraman Greg Clements shot another very old buck that we had been after for several years. Like the one I shot, Greg’s buck was also uncharacteristically visible, coming past us


/ Vol. 22, No. 3

within easy bow range the third different day that we saw him in daylight. We know this old, stiff-kneed buck was a bully from years of watching him operate. Again, it was very rewarding on two levels to take that buck. When the late season arrived, I shot another older buck with my bow, also a 130s-class deer that had been taking up dominance nearby. In fact, a friend had missed the deer in early November. I am not sure he had the disposition of a bully, but he was a mature buck with mediocre antlers that was taking up space on the farm, so I can only assume removing him will open up a hole in the dominance hierarchy. We took three, so that was good, but there were still a couple of others that got away and some that were so poorly antlered that neither I nor the cameraman had the heart to put our tags on them. We let them walk. The problem with taking out the bullies is not the plan; the problem is the execution. To remove these bucks efficiently, we need late-season food plots, a week of hard weather and a muzzleloader. Trying to take out an appreciable number of these old bucks with a bow is a tall order.

Conclusion I am just as firmly convinced that you need to cull out the old bullies now as I was back when I wrote that first article, but I have gained a bit of humility through the course of the subsequent two seasons. They aren’t all that easy to kill. You may only get one shot, and if you let him get away, it may be another year (or never) before you get a second chance. However, it was interesting to note that the bucks seemed to get easier to kill as they got very old, but as I stated already, that is too late. Ideally, we get them out of the herd as soon as possible after realizing they are pushing other bucks out of the area. Deer management is always an interesting project and the act of adding the ugly bullies to the hit list has certainly given us new challenges and added newfound enjoyment to our hunting. I have to admit that after two years, I have found that I really like hunting those old brutes. I have almost forgotten about the trophy-antlered bucks on our farm… almost. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

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/ Vol. 22, No. 3

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Vol. 22, No. 3 /


BRANDON HOWARD – Illinois This picture is of my 13year-old brother, Scott Waldrup. He shot his first deer this morning during youth season in Illinois. Of course it was over an Imperial Whitetail Clover patch that has drawn deer out of the woodwork to our property. Whitetail Institute is the best!

RUSTY WELCH – Virginia On the second week of the Virginia muzzle loader season I set out with my 11-year-old son Owen, looking for his first deer. We were hunting a farm where we have been managing the deer for the last several years. We have had great success using Whitetail Institute products such as 30-06 and Cutting Edge, Imperial Clover, Extreme and most recently Winter Greens. We were sitting in a box blind over looking an Imperial Whitetail Clover food plot and a cut bean field. The first deer to step out into the clover was a huge 8 pointer but he was just past Owen's effective range with his muzzle loader. We watched him in our binoculars until he faded back into the woods. A few minutes later we saw another deer come out and feed in the clover, it was a seven pointer. He too was just outside of Owen's range. Just before dark we saw another buck, a 4-pointer. He entered the bean field and was heading towards the clover and us! I noticed another deer coming out of the woods behind the 4-point, it was the 7-point from earlier. We watched the two deer feed in the beans towards us for the next ten minutes. As they entered the clover plot, they put themselves into Owen's range of 100 yards. While Owen settled the cross hairs on the 7-pointers shoulder, I ranged him at 90 yards. Owen squeezed the trigger and through the smoke we could see the buck running back out into the bean field where he fell. This young deer sported a beautiful seven point rack. He weighed in at 175 pounds. That is a hog for such a young deer in this area. We have seen and taken much bigger bucks on this farm but this is a great first deer for a fine young man. I'm very proud of my son and thankful for the products that the Whitetail Institute has developed exclusively for deer. They work!

DENNIS ADAMS – Missouri October 31st this past year will be a day that 9-year-old Dillen Adams, his Pappa, Bud Adams, and cousin, Whitney Williams of Wappapello, Mo., will never forget. It was opening day of the Missouri Youth Deer Season. Dillen, Pappa, and Whitney were up before first light getting ready to go into the woods behind the house to hunt. Armed with his Rossi .243 caliber single shot rifle and Whitney with her Savage .243 bolt action, they were ready to challenge each other to see who could get the first deer. The three of them headed out to the tree stand near the Whitetail Institute food plot. Dillen and Pappa quietly climbed into the two man ladder stand, harnessed up, and Whitney got settled in the ground blind and they all waited for the woods to wake up. Barely an hour later a doe and two fawns appeared on the far side of the food plot. Twenty minutes later they started easing down the hill and out of view. About the same time a buck appeared from the same direction. Twenty agonizing minutes passes before he finally walked into a lane where Dillen could get a shot. At the crack of the rifle, the buck kicked like a mule, ran down into the bottom and went down within sight of the stand. Dillen looked at his Pappa with a grin as wide as his head and no doubt Pappa’s was just as big. He asked, “Can we go see him?” Pappa said, “Let’s wait and make sure he’s down for good.” After what seemed like an eternity he asks again. Pappa looked at his watch and the eternity that had lasted three minutes was over. Pappa says, “Let’s go” so they climbed out of the stand and went to the bottom of the hill to claim the buck. Dillen had won the challenge with a big 10-point buck and not just any old buck, but a ‘Halloween Buck’!


/ Vol. 22, No. 3

TODD SMITH – Tennessee My son Tanner is 10 years old. He passed his hunters safety class and we’ve been practicing with his .243 Papaw gave him. He got his first deer this season here on our farm in Tennessee during the two day juvenile hunt. W


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Profile for Whitetail Institute

Whitetail News Vol 22.3  

Whitetail News Volume 22.3

Whitetail News Vol 22.3  

Whitetail News Volume 22.3