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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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One-Acre Food Plots Offer Fields of Opportunity Page 5

Success in a Record-Breaking Drought Year

The Improbable Deer Season




In This Issue…


One-Acre Plots — Fields of Opportunity By Bill Winke The author’s favorite stands are on the edges of one-acre food plots. Discover this successful hunters strategies on what he plants, where he plants and stand placement strategies.

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Imperial Whitetail Tall Tine Tubers, the Ultimate Turnip Take Time to Plan Your Approach By Bob Humphrey


Customer Service is Truly Extraordinary at Whitetail Institute — The strobe light says it all


Products for Procrastinators

By Hollis Ayres By Dean Weimer




The Hardest Working Hunters, Disabilities Don’t Deter Kids By Darren Warner





Trees — Thinking Long Term


K.I.S.S. Deer Management

By Bob Humphrey

The Improbable Deer Season By Matt Harper Last year’s drought should have hindered the author’s hunting season, but the hard work he did planting Imperial products paid off.


Whitetail Institute Annuals — Which is the Best For You? By Whitetail Institute Staff While perennials are forages designed to last for multiple years from a single planting, annuals are designed to provide maximum production for part of one calendar year. Whitetail Institute annuals are highly attractive and nutritious.

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By Scott Bestul By Joe Blake You don’t need a ton of expensive equipment or a Ph.D in whitetail biology to effectively manage your hunting property. Just Keep It Simple Stupid!

Whitetail Oats Plus Adds New Dimension to Food Plot Program By Charles J. Alsheimer The author has planted many different food plot varieties during his years as a deer manager. Whitetail Oats Plus has really impressed him with the results it produced.


Thriving in a Sea of Pines

Fertilizer: What You Need to Know By William Cousins Whether you are a first time food plotter or an old hand, knowing exactly what fertilizer does is important. It can be the difference between a lush food plot and an average one.


Made in Shade By Gerald Almy

Departments 4 22

A Message from Ray Scott Field Testers Report Stories and Photos


Record Book Bucks

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Food Plot Planting Dates First Deer — Aiming for the Future

Stories and Photos

Cover photo by Dusty Reid


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 Desmond Byrd Shipping Assistant Bart Landsverk Whitetail News Senior Editor Charles Alsheimer, Tracy Breen, Matt Harper, Bill Winke, R.G. Bernier, Bill Marchel, Michael Veine, Dr. Carroll Johnson, III, Dean Weimer, David Hart Contributing Writers Susan Scott Copy Editor George Pudzis Art Director Wade Atchley, Atchley Media Advertising Director

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Vol. 23, No. 2 /


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

Gun Control — My View A

I am still stunned at the hypocrisy of those who will not acknowledge that places like Chicago that have some of the highest rates of gun crime also have some of the toughest gun laws on the books.

s a hunter and gun owner, I feel obliged to address the controversial issue of gun control post-Newtown. One thing is for sure, ignorance is the order of the day. Sane voices were drowned out in emotional hysteria. Hysteria will not solve the problems of U.S. gun violence, and no amount of emotional blackmail will obscure plain facts. I know the subject causes strong emotions, but I was still caught flatfooted when I watched CNN’s Piers Morgan (a British citizen) lose his English cool on his prime-time interview show right after the tragic attack and scream down anyone who dared to present even the most logical, factbased response to his rabid anti-gun views. It was embarrassing to watch but a true insight into the minds of knee-jerk anti-gun fanatics. Finally, I presume after public response to his incredibly bad manners and worse journalism, we were treated to his trip to Texas to visit with some rational gun owners and even shoot — gasp — an AR-15. The much-maligned semi-automatic, cosmetically enhanced and accessorized to look like a lean, mean machine, is, after all, a rifle, less powerful than other popular hunting rifles. After the episode, I can only imagine the sale of AR-l5s skyrocketed after the Texas hosts extolled the virtues of the gun and even old Piers admitted it was kind of exhilarating to shoot. I am still stunned, however, by the number of media (and legislators) who do not know the difference between an automatic and semi-automatic weapon. I am still stunned by the fact that segments of the public and again legislators want to add yet other layers of gun laws when lawenforcement officials tell us there are hundreds of gun laws already on the books, many unenforced. I am still stunned at the hypocrisy of those who will not acknowledge


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that places like Chicago that have some of the highest rates of gun crime also have some of the toughest gun laws on the books. I am stunned after all the focus on the criminal use of guns that you don’t hear much at all about the defensive use of guns by law-abiding citizens. Magazine limits? Consider the Georgia woman who recently unloaded the bullets in her revolver at an intruder as she huddled with her two children in the crawl space of her attic. What if there had been two intruders? I guess I should give humble thanks that even most of the staunchest anti-gun advocates seem to give hunters a pass on gun ownership. But sometimes it rings hollow and condescending, especially coming from people who might have never hunted a day in their lives and, in their hearts, likely oppose hunting. At the end of the day, there are a few things I am sure of: First, we as hunters must be absolute role models in the respect for and the safe use of guns. And we must acknowledge that with rights come responsibilities. That includes voting. Some of anti-gun U.S. legislators have backed off because of their constituents. That’s us, friends. Second, we must be ever-vigilant in protecting our Second Amendment rights. Yes, Piers, that is part of our Constitution thanks in large measure to your ancestors. Third, like the bumper sticker says, “When guns are outlawed, only the outlaws will have guns.” That’s the reality we live with.

Ray Scott


Success in a Record-Breaking Drought Year By Matt Harper Photos by the Author

The Big 8

have tremendous respect for my dad for innumerable reasons. He raised a family via the hard life of a southern Iowa farmer, and not when corn was $7.50 per bushel but when a mediocre yield or a few dead calves could result in a foreclosure auction.

My dad is also one of the most honest men I have ever known — in fact, almost to a fault. Embellishment, aside from joke telling, is just not part of his genre. So when Dad tells me he saw a “big” deer, I believe him, and not just because of his honesty but because he has seen big deer. So when I picked him up one evening

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this past year after a mid-October crossbow hunt, the first thing he said was, “I saw an absolute giant.” He had my attention. “How big was he?” I asked. “He was huge," Dad replied. “Wide, tall and massive. He came from the other side of the food plot, right there where the top wire is broken on the fence.” “In the southeastern corner?” I asked. “Yeah, he came out right between that big burr oak and walnut tree,” he said. “He got to about 52 yards, but I just didn’t feel comfortable enough to take a shot.”

Vol. 23, No. 2 /


“I have a camera on the corner post in that corner of the field,” I said. “I’ll pull the card and see if we got a good shot of him.” I drove the truck around the Imperial Winter-Greens field and pulled the card from my Reconyx camera. I had several pictures on the card, but the entire way back to Dad’s house, we wondered if one would be the Old Bruiser. Twenty minutes later, we were clicking through pictures of does, small bucks, raccoons and bobcats — and then we saw him: a jaw-dropping, eye-bulging kind of buck that left Dad and I speechless. Finally, Dad managed to say, “That’s him.” He was an 8-pointer, without question the biggest I had ever seen on hoof. I have shot 150-plus-class 8s and have seen giant 8s others have taken, but I had never seen an 8 that big on one of our farms. I slowly turned to Dad and mumbled, “I think he’ll go 170 … maybe 170-plus.” I had always wanted to fill my tag with a giant 8-pointer that was north of 160. A 160class 8 is huge, but a 170-class 8 is truly a monster. This deer immediately became the catalyst for my sitting long hours in the stand for the next few weeks. Fast-forward to early November. I was hunting with good friend and Whitetail

News editor Bart Landsverk. In Iowa, November is bow season and the rut. Unfortunately, the weather was not as cooperative as we would have liked. Temperatures were not that bad, but evenings were on the warm side. We were hunting the farm where Dad had seen the Big 8-pointer, and I had dropped Bart off at “the” stand on the eastern end of the property. The stand was at the end of a draw that led from an upper field to the field in the creek bottom where I had got the pictures of the Big 8. Actually, there were pictures of several mature shooters all better than 160 that frequented the travel corridor. I bid Bart good luck and headed back toward the western end of the farm. I was running low on time, so I decided to sit another draw that separated two food sources. It was also closest to the barn where I always park. Historically, the draw had been productive, but I had not captured an image of the Big 8 on the western side of the property. However, I had pictures of some of the other shooters using that finger of woods. Maybe I was so focused on the Big 8 that I would pass anything else that walked by. I’d slept in brush piles at night to study his nocturnal habits and launched a satellite over the farm to track his whereabouts. OK, not re-

ally, but you know what I mean — hardcore, one man versus one deer kind of stuff. Don’t get me wrong, there are hunters who pursue one deer and are very successful, but they're likely better hunters than I am. I really wanted the Big 8, but anything 160 or better that walked past me would have an arrow thrown at it. I honestly didn’t expect much to happen that evening. At 3 p.m., it was about 60 degrees with a light wind out of the southeast. I was busy contemplating life’s mysteries (OK, I was actually playing Angry Birds) when I heard the grunt. I say “the grunt” because it was one of those very low, very deep grunts. Those of you who have heard it know what I mean. It is a sound that only comes from a big, mature, gives-you-the-shakes kind of buck. I grabbed my bow and grunted back and heard nothing for about 20 seconds. Then I saw movement and antlers swaying through the understory. One quick look at the antlers told me it was a shooter, and somewhere in the back of my mind I recognized the deer, even though I didn’t think about it at the time. He walked behind an enormous old maple tree, and I drew. A few steps more, and I stopped him with a grunt and released the arrow. I saw it hit but did not see the fletching dis-

A photo captured by a Reconyx camera of the Big 8 Harper shot with his bow. This buck was headed out into a food plot of Imperial Clover and Imperial Winter-Greens. The Big 8 scored 178-1/2.


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Harper shot this bruiser on his first day afield in last year’s Iowa muzzleloader season. The buck gross scored 183.

appear. I draw a pretty heavy weight, and I almost always have a pass-through, but as the buck sprinted off, my arrow dangled out of one side only. I watched him run into thick briars and brush that encompasses 100 acres of the southern side of the farm. I have lost deer there before by going after them too soon, so I decided not to take up the blood trail until the next morning. The blood trail wasn’t great (it rained a bit that night), but it was good enough to lead me to him about 150 yards from where I had made the shot. I admit that when I saw him, it was one of those drop-to-your-knees times, out of relief and appreciation of the blessing of the animal and the moment. It was the Big 8. He ended up gross-scoring 178½ inches, and that was with a partially broken left brow tine. I reviewed the trail camera pictures of him before he broke his brow tine, and I am guessing he would have had another 3 inches, putting him at 181½ gross.

The Drought Really, last year should not have been the year I harvested a world-class 8-pointer. The year will go down in history as one of the worst droughts to hit Iowa within the past 100 years. I remember my grandpa talking about the drought in the 1930s and Dad talking about the drought in the 1950s, but last year was the worst drought I have ever seen.


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In terms of annual rainfall, last year ranked about 19th in lowest precipitation since the 1860s. However, it ranked third for the driest summer months. It seemed like it simply didn’t rain from late May to mid-August. Also, it was extremely hot — in fact, one of the hottest summers ever recorded. That combination led to scorched vegetation, plus dried ponds, creeks and water holes. That left animals searching for food and water wherever they could find it. Such times put the words “drought resistant” to the test. The backbone of my food plot program has always been perennial legumes. These forages produce large amounts of highly digestible nutrients, which help to produce a healthy deer and in turn better antler production. My perennials of choice are Imperial Whitetail Clover and Imperial AlfaRack Plus. I am not just saying that because I am writing this for the Whitetail News. I am saying it because they are the best perennial legumes I have used, and I have tried nearly everything. In late July, when bucks were in the maximum antler-growth phase, the drought was also hitting its zenith. Nearly everything was brown and dead, and I mean nearly everything. My lawn at home looked like it does after a mid-January thaw. The only green thing on my farms was my Imperial Whitetail Clover and Imperial Alfa-Rack Plus fields. That is not to say that they weren’t

taking a beating from drought, but they were the only green food to which the deer herd had access. When Whitetail Institute folks said these products were bred to be drought resistant, they weren’t kidding. I am pretty sure that almost every deer in the neighborhood was visiting the food plots on my farms at least at some point during the day or night. Even with the perennials holding on during the drought, I knew I needed some additional food when the sub-freezing temperatures of late fall and winter would make the perennials go dormant. I had planted some summer annuals that spring, but by July, the fields looked like an abandoned, overgrown, dirt baseball field. I decided I was going to plant Winter-Greens, Pure Attraction and Whitetail Oats Plus in pre-planned fall plot areas but also in the plots where my summer annuals had failed. It was excessively dry, and I basically planted them in powder, but I knew all I needed was a little rain. Then it happened. In August, we had a two-week period where we got some rain. I think we got about two to three inches total, which was not a lot, but it was enough to bring the fall plots exploding out of the ground. I realize the products I used were drought resistant, but I was honestly amazed at how well they did considering the lack of subsoil moisture. After the two weeks of onand-off rain, it dried up again, but the plots www.whitetailinstitute.com

had the moisture they needed to produce good forage. Within a month after I planted my fall plots, all the neighboring deer didn’t just visit my farms to feed. They moved in and starting calling my farms home. A perfect example is the Big 8-pointer. I had never seen that deer before on my property, nor had I captured a trail camera photo of him before this past fall. I realize it was close to the rut, but the bucks had not started moving yet (especially the big boys), so I have no doubt the buck moved to my place for the food. In fact, I would guess he moved in during late summer, and I just didn’t get a photo of him until October. When I was laying out the plots to plant with fall/winter annuals, I figured they would get pounded because they would be almost the only green thing out there. So I planted a few extra acres on each farm, and that was the right decision. I often have fields full of deer on my Winter-Green fields during winter when snow covers the ground. However, this past year, I had fields full of deer as early as September. Even with the extra acres I planted, I was still concerned the deer would wipeout the plots before late muzzleloader season, which starts in late December.

However, the plots were very productive, and with the extra acres I planted, the plots managed to hold out well into and even past late muzzleloader season. It’s a good thing, too, because in late December, I was going to have a run-in with another foreign brute of a deer.

Where Did He Come From? Late muzzleloader season in Iowa is a fantastic opportunity to harvest a mature whitetail buck. That is, if the weather is right and you have done all your preparation work. Sweating your butt off in late July and August planting a late fall/winter food plot such as Winter-Greens can produce some amazing December/January hunts if you can stand the cold. In fact, the colder and the more snow on the ground, the better the hunting will be. My first day afield during last year’s Iowa late muzzleloader season was a picture-perfect afternoon. About eight inches of fresh snow blanketed the ground, temperatures were in the high teens, and I was hunting one of our farms I had not stepped foot on since bowhunting there in November. I walked over a small ridge and took my

first glimpse at the plot and found there were about 20 sets of eyes looking back at me. The deer were actually reluctant to leave their afternoon meal, but eventually I moved close enough that white flags bounced off into the brush. I climbed into the stand with the hope that it was early enough and the conditions good enough that deer would re-emerge onto the field. I didn’t have to wait long, as just five minutes passed before two fawns slipped back underneath the barbwire fence and began digging in the snow. Within 30 minutes, there were at least 20 deer back at the plot, and I settled in with my gun propped on the rail and video camera running, looking forward to an enjoyable evening. There were a couple of mature bucks I had on camera that frequented the plot, but as the afternoon slipped by, only does, fawns and younger bucks presented themselves. Then, as often happens, a massive non-typical appeared out of nowhere to my left. I swung the camera on him and grabbed my binoculars. I immediately realized it was an interloper from some other area, as I had never seen him before. This was the first time that I have tried to film my own hunt, so it was a little awkward, but I got several minutes of great

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Vol. 23, No. 2 /


footage of him. I got so wrapped up in my Spielberg moment that I almost let him get to where I couldn’t get a shot. I got the camera set and squeezed off the shot, and the deer dropped in the snow where he was standing. He was one of those bucks that got better the closer I walked up on him. Normally, that isn’t the case but it was with this deer. He was a main-frame 9-pointer with kickers all over. He had the most unique split brow tine I have ever seen. The buck gross-scored 183 and some change.



Last year’s deer season was one of the most successful seasons I have experienced. In the face of one of the worst droughts in Iowa history, I was blessed to have harvested two fantastic animals. Equally, if not more exciting and rewarding, was the fact that my daughter took two great bucks, including her biggest to date: a mature 140-plus-inch 9-pointer. You will never hear me say that my hunt-


ing success is because of some supernatural hunting prowess. Although there are things you can do to improve your luck, the right deer has to be within the range of whatever weapon you are using at the right time instead of being in a million other places. As I mentioned, there are, however, practices you can do to improve your chances. Availability of food and water are always important, but last year, having food and water on your hunting property meant almost everything. Forages on other properties were drying up and dying. The drought tolerance of my Imperial Clover and Alfa-Rack Plus fields allowed for moderate to good food sources for the deer herd — certainly better than neighboring properties. The Big 8 had not grown up on my farm, and in fact, I had never seen him until last year. I have no doubt he moved in during summer when his home core area became void of quality food. We were blessed to get a few inches of rain in August to get my Winter-Greens, Pure Attraction and Whitetail Oats Plus growing. It

A Trophy Buck starts with a great food plot

wasn’t a lot of rain, but the plots did well with what they got and attracted even more deer into the fields. The first buck my daughter shot was coming into a Winter-Greens field in October, and the second one was on a Winter-Greens field in late December. Both were resident deer of which I had pictures, but having food held them on the farm. The 183-incher I took during late muzzleloader was a transplant from another property, attracted to my farm by food. I realize that with no rain, there is nothing you can do. If I would not have had any rain in August, I would not have had late fall/winter food plots. As good as the Whitetail Institute products are, they still need at least some rain. But without these food plots, last year would likely been a season of hunting farms where a deer sighting was noteworthy. Deer simply would have ventured off to find greener pastures or, in this case, just something green. W

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Every herd has a leader—an individual with superior strength and endurance. And where the leader goes, the herd will surely follow. THE ALL-NEW AEROHEAD™. FOUR YEARS IN DEVELOPMENT. 4,000 MILES IN TESTING.


Whitetail Oats Plus Adds New Dimension to Food Plot Program By Charles J. Alsheimer Photos by the Author

ov. 17, opening day of New York’s firearms season: Dawn arrived cold, frosty and very foggy. My plan was to hunt the morning in one of our farm’s acorn flats, perched in a stand I’ve used for 38 consecutive opening days. Though it’s not the most productive stand on our farm, it has been very good to me through the years. So the memories keep me going back year after year.


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As darkness gave way to the gray shades of dawn, I quietly climbed the ladder and situated myself in the stand for the morning’s hunt. Although there was no cloud cover, dense fog made it hard to see more than 50 yards in the woods. Soon after daybreak, a

lone deer made its way through the stand of mature oak trees, 50 yards away. Because of the deer’s body size, I was certain it was a buck. Unfortunately, the fog was so thick I couldn’t see antlers. By the time I was able to determine that he was a shooter, the buck was out of range. Throughout the morning, several yearling bucks and does made their way past my


stand as they fed on acorns. With noon approaching, I climbed down and headed to where my son, Aaron, was hunting. It was time to check in with him and have lunch. Aaron had hunted the morning in our farm’s best stand, in what we call “the mother of all funnels.” It is situated in a thick spruce plantation that connects two prime bedding areas. What makes this stand so good is that we border the funnel with food plots, and this past year, the plots contained Imperial Clover and Whitetail Oats Plus. When Aaron told me he was going to hunt another stand in the afternoon, I decided to take over for him and hunt his stand in the afternoon. I had hunted a big 8-pointer in this area throughout our archery season and was certain I’d see deer there before day’s end. By 2:30 p.m., I was in the stand and ready for action. Within minutes, several does, fawns and a 2-1/2-year-old 8-pointer began feeding in the Whitetail Oats Plus food plot, 100 yards from my stand. I looked each deer over closely with binoculars. Things got interesting when two button bucks paused from munching on the oats to engage in their version of sparring. I chuckled to myself as I

watched them push each other back and forth. After they broke up and returned to feeding, I scanned the plot to see if any other deer had shown up. I noticed that a big doe had stopped eating and was looking intently into the spruce. Sensing something was about to happen, I let go of my binoculars, reached for my rifle and got ready. Seconds later, a big 8point bolted out of the spruce toward the doe. The chase was on! Luckily, the doe didn’t leave the food plot. I clicked off the safety and waited for the buck to move through one of the two shooting lanes I could shoot through. The doe trotted around the plots before walking through both shooting lanes with the buck in tow. When the buck cleared the brush and stepped into the open lane, I pulled the trigger. Before the .270’s roar finished echoing down the valley, the buck was dead at the edge of the Whitetail Oats Plus plot. When the gun went off and the buck hit the ground, there was mass exodus from the food plot. Deer ran in every direction. A doe, two fawns and a yearling buck bounded toward my stand and stopped less than 10 yards away. They stood motionless looking back toward

the food plot. The four moved very little for the next 10 minutes before walking off and out of sight. Talk about excitement! I knew the buck was dead, so I decided to just sit in the stand for a few more minutes. Everything had happened so fast that I wanted to take time to relive the moment and think about what had taken place. I’ve had a lot of great moments in the deer woods, but this was one of the best from more than 50 years of hunting. I couldn’t believe how everything had come together. Thanks to the setup, the Imperial Clover and Whitetail Oats Plus food plots, and the preparation that went into the day, it had turned out to be an opening day to remember. Little did I know at the time that another great memory would occur in less than a week from the same tree stand. Six days later, Aaron killed the biggest buck of his life as it dogged a doe in the same plot where I had killed my buck. Ironically, he shot his buck within a few yards of where I shot mine on opening day. After Aaron’s buck was loaded on the back of our Gator, we decided to take a few minutes to see how the deer were using the Oats Plus and nearby Imperial Clover plots. It was

Alsheimer has planted many different types of food plots for many years. He has had great success with his Whitetail Oats Plus plots.

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Vol. 23, No. 2 /


obvious that the clover and oat plots were being heavily grazed. But what was amazing to me was the sign we found in and around the Oats Plus plot. Though the clover was being used heavily, there appeared to be twice as many fresh deer droppings in the oats as in the clover. Also, there were several fresh rubs on saplings along the edge of the oat plot. Throughout fall, I spent considerable time photographing the location and knew it was a whitetail magnet. In October, our farm’s deer were hammering the Imperial Clover plots that flanked the spruce funnel. When November arrived, the clover was still being heavily used, but it was clear from the sign that the Oats Plus plot was becoming more preferred with each day. It had been several years since I had planted wheat or oats in our food plot program, so I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the Imperial Clover and Oats Plus complemented each other.

Formula for Success In 1990, several local landowners and I decided to see if we could come up with a plan to have better deer and deer hunting. At the


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time, the concept of quality deer management was in its infancy in the Northeast. It has taken time, but what we’ve been able to accomplish in just more than 20 years has been impressive. For starters, before 1990, more than 90 percent of the antlered buck harvest in our area was made up of 1-½ year-old-bucks. In fact, if anyone killed a 100-inch buck, the hunter and deer got a lot of attention from locals. It wasn’t until after 1990, when participants began passing up yearling bucks, harvesting more does and planting food plots that things changed drastically. In the early going, I relied on annual clover and rye for food plots. However, it didn’t take me long to discover the Whitetail Institute. In 1996, I planted my first Imperial Clover food plot, and as they say, the rest is history — sort of. I say sort of because our farm’s program has grown as other Whitetail products have been introduced. Talk to any two food-plotters and you’ll find that their bread-and-butter plots are clover. In my case, more than half of the food plots on the free-ranging portion of our farm offer Imperial Whitetail Clover. We also operate a 35-acre high-fence enclosure that con-

tains 10 whitetails for research (no hunting is permitted in the enclosure). Half of the enclosure’s food plots are Imperial Clover. The balance of enclosure and the free-ranging food plot areas get planted in a variety of other forages. Up until last year, most of our non-clover plots were planted in annuals such as Winter-Greens and Tall-Tine Tubers, both of which have been huge successes.

Awesome Oat Blend Early last year, Steve Scott, vice president of the Whitetail Institute, and I were having a discussion about an upcoming article I was doing for this publication when he told me about the company's new product, Whitetail Oats Plus. He told me Whitetail Institute had been testing it for several years and was extremely excited about how well it was performing for their field testers. When I questioned him on it, he said, “Whitetail Oats Plus is made with a blend of annuals with its backbone being a winterhardy oat that is incredibly attractive to deer. Unlike our other seed blends, which we developed from the ground up, we discovered


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this product through one of our agricultural contacts who told us about a university research project being conducted to find a grain that could produce high tonnage. Our contact shared that the oat seed in Oats Plus was dropped from the research because deer wouldn’t leave it alone. That obviously got our interest. “Over a six year period, we did extensive testing on Whitetail Oats Plus, all the while tweaking and blending it with different seeds to make it even better. During this time, we evaluated the blend’s attractiveness to deer and how well it grew in different regions of North America. It was the most attractive oat we’ve ever tested. Once we knew we got it right, we brought it to market." Our discussion was enough for me.

Amazing Results In late August, I planted Whitetail Oats Plus in several food plots on our farm, for the

free-ranging deer and our enclosure’s research deer. From September through the time of this writing, this past March, I monitored all the plots with cameras and on foot, to see how they appealed to our deer. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. Through the years, I have planted different varieties of oats in our food plots but have never had success with an oat product like I have with Whitetail Oats Plus. From late September through October, all of our Oats Plus plots were heavily grazed by various doe groups and various bucks, offering numerous photo opportunities. In early November, when the rut went hot-to-trot, deer activity in and around the oats plots ramped up even more, and I was able to photograph many rut behaviors, from bucks dogging does to all-out chasing and two fights. Throughout this past winter, our farm’s deer have pawed through the snow to get to our Imperial Clover and Oats Plus offerings. Because of the Oats Plus’ winter hardiness,

those plots have been, for lack of another word, hammered. And when the snow cover melted off in early March, deer grazed the oats continuously. Not a day has passed that I’ve not seen or bumped multiple deer in and around the Oats Plus plots my son and I created for the farm’s wild deer. The photos I’ve been able to take the past seven months, with trail cameras and my professional cameras, have been amazing, as those that accompany this article can attest. In reflecting on the past year, I’m impressed by how Whitetail Oats Plus has added a new dimension to our food plot program, because of the way it supplements Imperial Clover and other Whitetail Institute products we use. From May through November (and even longer if deer can paw through the snow to get to it), Imperial Clover is the backbone of our food plot program. And Whitetail Oats Plus is another winner indeed. W

From late September through October, all the Whitetail Oats Plus plots were heavily grazed by various doe groups and bucks. Deer activity then ramped up even more during the November rut.


/ Vol. 23, No. 2


his is the second part of a two-part article addressing a question the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants are often asked: “Which Whitetail Institute forage product is the best?” As we said then, which is the “best” depends on your specific situation — factors such as equipment accessibility to the site, soil type and slope should all be considered. In the first part, we covered how to select the Whitetail Institute perennial that is best for your situations(s). Part 1 is available on-line at www.whitetailinstitute.com. In this article, we’ll cover Whitetail Institute annuals and the general forage selection steps that often lead to them.


While “perennials” are forages designed to last for multiple years from a single planting, “annuals” are designed to provide maximum production for part of one calendar year. The Whitetail Institute’s line of perennial forage products covers a broad range of soil types, slopes, and other factors. That’s why they are often used as the backbone plantings for food plot systems. Even so, Whitetail Institute annuals are arguably an even more versatile line of forage products in that they can boost seasonal nutrition and attraction even further — and provide the results you’re looking for even if your time and capabilities are restricted.

Annuals Can Enhance Seasonal Nutrition and Attraction Even Further Whitetail Institute annuals are highly attractive and nutritious. Even in food plot systems that do include perennials, Whitetail Institute annuals can boost attraction, variety and nutrition even further by providing abundant sources of highly attractive, nutritious foliage at targeted times of the year, most commonly spring through summer, and fall through winter.

Which is the Best For You? By Whitetail Institute Staff 18 WHITETAIL NEWS

/ Vol. 23, No. 2

Charles J. Alsheimer

Spring and Summer Imperial Whitetail PowerPlant Spring and summer are critical nutritional seasons, as bucks are growing new sets of antlers, and does are pregnant and, later, producing nutrient-rich milk for their newborn fawns. And it’s no secret that the most important nutrient during the spring and summer is protein. Imperial Whitetail PowerPlant is specifically designed to produce massive tonnage of highly palatable, protein-rich foliage during the spring and summer, right when deer need protein the most. And like all Whitetail Institute forage products, PowerPlant is designed specifically for the needs of deer. An example is the soybean in PowerPlant, a true forage soybean that, unlike agricultural soybean varieties, emwww.whitetailinstitute.com

phasizes foliage production. This particular vining soybean doesn’t get tough and stemmy the way agricultural soybeans do, and it can even tolerate grazing much better once it establishes. PowerPlant also includes other vining legumes, as well as small amounts of structural plants that provide a lattice for the legumes to climb and maximize production instead of growing along the ground.

Fall To Early Spring Fall and winter are stressful times for deer due to diminishing food availability, hunting pressure, the rut and cold temperatures. It’s during these seasons that protein takes somewhat of a back seat to energy in nutritional importance. Whitetail Institute annuals are designed to establish and grow quickly, begin attracting deer right away, and then hold them through the cold months of the year. As previously mentioned, annuals are often even better than perennials for providing targeted attraction and nutrition for a specific part of the year. Let’s look at the Whitetail Institute annuals designed specifically to address your needs for fall, fall through winter, and even fall through early spring.

Whitetail Oats Plus and Pure Attraction Whitetail Oats Plus is a premium forage planting for deer that establishes and grows quickly. The main ingredient in Whitetail Oats Plus is Whitetail Oats, a high-sugar, cold-tolerant oat that’s so attractive to deer that independent university researchers had to remove them from grain production tests and shelve them because deer grazed them so heavily. The Plus components in Whitetail Oats Plus are small amounts of specially selected triticale and wheat, which boost coldtolerance even further and provide variety. Whitetail Oats and winter peas also serve as the first stage of Pure Attraction, which is designed as an overlapping two-stage forage for fall through winter. The oats and winter peas establish and grow quickly, providing exceptional attraction from early fall into the colder months of the year. Later, as the weather turns even colder, Pure Attraction’s second stage kicks in with highly attractive, high carbohydrate WINA annual brassicas that stand tall in the snow, providing abundant, high energy food for deer during the coldest months.

Imperial Whitetail Winter-Greens and Tall Tine Tubers If you’re looking for an all-brassica product, you won’t do better than Winter-Greens and/or Tall-Tine Tubers. They’re similar in many ways. For instance, they both establish and grow very quickly and provide tonnage right away. Both products also become even sweeter with the arrival of fall’s first frosts, and they continue to provide deer with a much needed source of high energy food during the coldest months of the year. So why does the Whitetail Institute offer two all-brassica blends instead of just one? To make sure you have access to more than just a high-quality brassica product, and that you have a high-quality brassica product that precisely meets your needs. The main difference lies in the types of brassicas that make up the lion’s share of each product. Tall Tine Tubers is designed around the Tall Tine Turnip, a new turnip variety developed by the Whitetail Institute over a six-year period specifically for deer. Tall Tine Tubers’


/ Vol. 23, No. 2

foliage establishes and grows quickly, providing an abundant food source for deer during the late fall and winter. The tubers (the bulbs) can grow large underground, and they’re exceptionally sweet. Deer tend to dig them up and attack them with a vengeance once cold weather settles in. Winter-Greens consists primarily of “lettuce-type” brassicas — brassicas with a vegetable genetic base that are simply the most attractive brassicas the Whitetail Institute has ever tested, even during early fall. Winter-Greens also contains a small amount of Tall Tine Turnip. Tall Tine Tubers produces more tubers (the bulbs) than Winter-Greens.

Imperial Whitetail Winter Peas Plus Winter Peas Plus is an exciting new offering from the Whitetail Institute. Put simply, Winter Peas Plus is the best winter-pea forage product the Whitetail Institute could make. And you don’t have to take our word for it. The evidence is right there on the federally-required ingredient tag on the bag. First, Winter Peas Plus is more than 80 percent winter peas, unlike some so-called “winter-pea” food plot products that contain only a comparatively tiny amount of winter peas. The two winter pea varieties in Winter Peas Plus have been selected by the Whitetail Institute for their outstanding attractiveness to deer over all other winter pea varieties the Whitetail Institute has ever tested. Second, Winter Peas Plus doesn’t make up the rest of the bag with inferior plant varieties the way some other “winter pea” products do. Instead, the Plus components in Winter Peas Plus are Whitetail Oats, the highly attractive, cold-tolerant oat that serves as the backbone for Whitetail Oats Plus, and a new winter lettuce and forage radish. Whitetail Oats are added to enhance early-season attraction even further and to provide a cover crop for the peas. The winter lettuce and radish also act as cover crops, and they provide additional forage once the weather turns colder.

Imperial Whitetail No-Plow, Secret Spot XL, Secret Spot and Bow-Stand All four products consist primarily of three main forage groups: forage grains and grasses, annual clovers, and brassica. Deer tend to hit the forage grains and annual clovers the hardest during the early season, and then transition to the brassicas once the weather turns colder. After winter, the annual clovers green up in early spring, providing a much-needed food source to help deer recover their winter health losses so that bucks can turn the nutrition provided to antler growth as quickly as possible. All these products are designed to perform extremely well even with minimal ground tillage, and they can perform even better if planted in a fully prepared seedbed. From a practical standpoint, the biggest issue that would steer you to one of these four products more than the others is plot size. No-Plow is packaged in 1/2-acre quantities and larger. Secret Spot XL is packaged for plots up to 1/4-acre. Secret Spot and Bow-Stand are packaged for plots up to 1/10th acre (4,500 sq. ft.) Earlier, we mentioned that Whitetail Institute perennials are an excellent option as the backbone plantings for a food plot system. Taking that one step further, a good rule of thumb for folks who want to plant both perennials and annuals is to try to plant about 50-75 percent of your food plots in perennials and the rest in annuals. Again, though, that is a rule of thumb — merely a starting point from which you have www.whitetailinstitute.com

to look at your specific situation. It does not mean you must plant perennials at all. With Whitetail Institute annuals, you can provide your deer with the attraction and nutrition you want, seasonally or on a year-round basis. With that being the case, the next question is obvious: should I plant annuals in addition to my perennials, or alone? And if so, which annuals do I choose? Let’s look at some of the big the factors that affect this decision.

Annuals Provide Top Performance Even If Your Time and Capabilities are Limited Equipment Issues. Again, perennials should be planted in a seedbed that has been prepared with ground-tillage equipment, and they should be periodically mowed during the spring and summer and, if appropriate, sprayed in the spring to keep grass and weeds in check. If you can’t access the site with equipment, then plant NoPlow, Secret Spot, Secret Spot XL or Bow-Stand. They’re made to flourish even with minimal seedbed preparation. They’re also an excellent option if you’ve waited too long, are now at the end of the Whitetail Institute’s published planting dates, or if you simply don’t have time to work the seedbed up properly before planting. Whitetail Institute annuals are also an excellent option for folks who can access the site with equipment, but who live so far away from their hunting properties that they aren’t going to travel all the way to it each spring to spray and mow perennial food plots. If that’s the case, then stick with Whitetail Institute annuals, which generally don’t require maintenance after initial fertilization and planting.

The Other Important Issue There’s another, often overlooked factor to consider when selecting forage products for your hunting sites: fun. When you step back and look at the Whitetail Institute’s entire line of perennial and annual forage products, you start to see a clear picture. That picture is a lineup of forage products that have been developed individually to be the best the Whitetail Institute can make them, and as a product line to cover virtually any planting situation you might have. That’s why with the exception of equipment accessibility, the biggest factor in selecting Whitetail Institute forages is the limits of your imagination. For example, instead of planting one acre in a single WINA forage product, consider planting a half acre of two products. Plant similar blends such as Winter-Greens on one side of your food plot and Tall Tine Tubers on the other so you can observe which one your deer hit harder at different times during the fall and winter. Or go the opposite way and plant blends that are completely different, such as Whitetail Oats Plus beside Winter-Greens. Splitting things up like that can offer some real benefits such as adding variety that can increase attraction of the site even further. Another option we’ve mentioned before (and that works like gangbusters) is to plant a larger field in PowerPlant in the spring, mow lanes through it in the fall in line with the most common wind direction during fall, and then plant the lanes in a fall annual. That can be a deadly setup during the early season, as deer often step from the PowerPlant into the lanes all during the day. If you have any questions about Whitetail Institute forage products, remember that the Whitetail Institute’s highly knowledgeable inhouse consultants are just a phone call away at (800) 688-3030. The call and the service are free. W

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Vol. 23, No. 2 /


REAL HUNTERS DO THE TALKING about Whitetail Institute products…


would like to say thanks Whitetail Institute for producing some great products. I bought a farm four years ago which had several acres of CRP grasses. The first year I saw a few deer, but not any big bucks. That next spring I devised a plan to have several food plots. I planted Imperial Clover in a 15 foot strip along the edge of the timber, and then I planted PowerPlant in two plots. I leave one of the PowerPlant plots standing all winter and plant the bigger


would like to thank Whitetail Institute for their excellent products. My family recently purchased a 160-acre farm in central Kansas and I decided to try Tall Tine Tubers out on a 2-acre hunting plot. My two brothers and I all tagged our bucks over that plot! Enclosed is a picture of me with a 150-plus class 8-point laying in what was left of the Tall Tine Tubers.

one half in Winter-Greens and half in Pure Attraction. I also planted a 2-acre plot of Alfa-Rack Plus. That next fall I saw a lot more deer and some decent bucks. Now in the fourth year I have a lot of deer on my property and have killed two nice bucks this fall. Whitetail Institute products made my property go from an average deer hunting spot to one of the best in the area.

Brian Kramer – Kansas

Clint Turner – Illinois


e practice Quality Deer Management and have used quality minerals and food sources from the Whitetail Institute of North America over the past 10 years, and we have been rewarded with better quality bucks. Our lease consists of approximately 100 acres surrounded by 300 acres of corn and bean fields. With permission we plant the perimeter of these fields with Imperial Whitetail Clover, PowerPlant, Winter-Greens and this season we will add Tall Tine Tubers. These planting areas consists of 3- to 6-foot-wide strips around the perimeter of the crop fields which creates a smorgasbord that can’t be resisted. All of this without any fancy equipment, using only a couple good rear tine roto-tillers which do the trick along with lawn fertilizer spreaders and good quality seeds from Whitetail Institute. The farmers like these perimeter plots as it assists in less crop damage and consumption by deer. With this method we are able to plant a variety of foods at different times of the year, providing a seasonal food source. It’s a win-win for all. Last season was our best ever; sighting of mature bucks and photos from our cameras revealed more bucks than ever. Our labor and time has and will continue to produce some awesome bucks. Over the past six years we have provided 30-06, Initiate, Optimize, and Sustain supplements at the same spot in the middle of our lease. Photos show what this spot has developed into, a huge magnet. Stay tuned for more proof this season.

Gary Redmon – Indiana


/ Vol. 23, No. 2


harvested this 9-pointer the first weekend of last year’s gun season. This is the biggest and best buck I’ve taken since I killed a monster B & C (190 class) 20-pointer on my property in SE Indiana three years ago. This is no Boone & Crockett buck; but, still he is quite an excellent addition to my trophy room. He scored in the 130s and has an excellent 19-inch inside spread. Also, his body size is amazing! I have been using Whitetail Institute products extensively and religiously for 10 years. It has made a prodigious difference in the quality of my deer herd. Thanks again to Whitetail Institute for all their superior products and advice.

Steven Brunner – Indiana



’ve been hunting the Pennsylvania state game lands with my brother since we’ve been old enough to legally pull the trigger. Before that time had come, I have memories of running around outside the house with a Rambo bandana and Red Ryder BB gun shooting at jugs and old junk while I pretended they were big bucks. My dad would always take my brother and me to the Sportsman’s Shows in Harrisburg and one of my No. 1 favorite stops other than the Deer Jerky stands was gawking over the huge bucks displayed at the Whitetail Institutes booth. I would stand there and wonder what it would be like to grow deer this huge and be able to harvest one. What I didn’t know at the time was that I would have the opportunity to do just that one day. My grandfather owns a cabin and a fairly large chunk of ground which is surrounded by state game lands. He’s been an avid hunter for most of his life until recently when his knees started to give out on him and he had trouble getting around in the woods. I remember the day I was eaves dropping listening to a conversation he was having with my dad. “I think we need to look into putting a food plot in up at camp.” Right then and there I remembered the huge bucks and success stories Whitetail Institute had in their magazines. In no time my pap’s vision was turned into a full-fledged family project. We did all the necessary steps to achieve a respectable food plot for the deer. Before we knew it the soil had been prepped and the plot was up and running. Extreme and 30-06 Plus Protein from Whitetail Institute were the secret formulas. Our deer cams showed the results. Not only was the field packed with deer, we were seeing more and more bucks frequenting the area. I knew that if they stayed there not only would they be getting the proper nutrients to grow big, but they would also be around for the hunting season. This year’s rifle season rolled around and I had a feeling it would be a productive one. My pap wished my brother and I luck as we headed out of the camp at 4:30 a.m. Nov. 28th. My brother, age 15, was equipped with his Remington 7mm-08 and me with my crossbow I had received as an early Christmas present. I am 24 years old this year and in

all my years of hunting in the rain, snow, hail, and wind I’ve never been able to shoot a buck. Now that’s not to say I did not have my opportunities but with the new antler restriction, it was always hard for me to determine whether or not the bucks were shooters or not. Little did I know, I wasn’t going to have to worry about that this year. The sun started to come up and individual trees became visible. I started ranging areas around my stand with my dad’s Rangefinder he had let me borrow. My brother was hunting bout 100 yards up over the ridge from me with my dad in their Buddy Tree stand. He too was hoping he could knock down his first buck. Every little rustle I heard I was envisioning a monstrous buck creeping up through the woods. Around 7:25 a.m., I heard a gunshot below my stand. My heart started racing and the adrenaline pumping as I grabbed for my crossbow and got ready in case some deer might run up through. Sure enough within five minutes I caught a glimpse of some movement making its way up through the thick brush below my stand. I almost shot a small 6-point until I saw a very nice 9-pointer coming up behind him. He stopped 20 yards from my stand, caught wind of me and looked directly at me. It took everything I had to stay calm so I could land an accurate shot. I knew that as soon as he stepped out from behind the tree that was blocking his vitals and presented a shot, I would have to shoot quickly. Sure enough, he turned quartering away and as he did I drilled the arrow right where It needed to be. He went 40 yards and dropped dead. My taxidermist scored it at 140 gross. I quickly radioed over to my dad and told him the news. No sooner did I start to field dress my deer, bang! A shot came from up where my brother was hunting. He had just shot a very nice 10-point. I could not have asked for a better morning of hunting. Our prayers were answered and two of the nicest bucks ever taken up at our camp were to show for it. As we dragged the two deer out of the woods, my Pap drove the truck back to greet us. When he saw what was at the end of our drag ropes he gave us a smile I will never forget and said, “them food plots must be workin!”

Cory Hoffman – Pennsylvania

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y son, Ethan Spencer, who is 10, killed this giant 166-6/8-inch 14-point with double eye guards on our land. Ever since we started planting Imperial No-Plow we have been seeing more deer. The bucks on our land have added much mass and size. We have been planting for three years now and can’t wait to try other Whitetail Institute products on our land to give us even more variety. Thank you Whitetail Institute for a great product.

Mike Spencer Jr. – Ohio


own 240 acres on the Potomac River in Maryland about 30 miles south of Washington, D.C. I started planting Imperial Whitetail Clover in 1996. I only had one 6-acre field when I started. Since then I have cleared and planted about 25 more acres. We try to harvest 12 to 15 does and at least five mature bucks a year. This year was the best crops of Clover, WinterGreens and Tall Tine Tubers I ever had. We had plenty of rain all year. Any night I can see 25 to 30 deer feeding in my fields. Thanks to Whitetail Institute products and God we have killed a lot of trophy bucks. I don’t usually like to show off our results, but Tyler Summer, a 20-year-old college student, killed this great buck in shotgun season in my stand. It wasn’t our biggest. But it sure made the old man proud.

Richard Koch – Maryland

(Continued on page 70) Vol. 23, No. 2 /


Fertilizer: What You need to Know By William Cousins

hether you’re a first-time food plotter or an old hand, you probably know that the planting instructions aren’t the same for all Whitetail Institute products, but they all contain at least one step calling for the addition of fertilizer to the seedbed. Have you ever stopped to consider why? More specifically, what exactly does fertilizer do? The quick, general answer is that it adds nutrients to the seedbed. Just like humans, plants need access to nutrients to survive, grow and be healthy. Humans get most of the nutrients they need from food. Plants get them from the air, water and soil. Fertilizers don’t address the nutrients plants get from the air and water because they’re readily available. As for nutrients plants get from the soil, most soils hold some of the essential nutrients plants need, but more often than not, the level of one or more essential soil nutrients is lower than optimum. Fertilizer is used to add nutrients to the soil to bring any existing nutrient levels that are low into optimum range. Most of us know the basic roles nutrients play in our bodies. For example, we know protein is needed for muscle growth, and Vitamin C can help ward off the common cold. Surprisingly few, though, know the specific roles nutrients play in the plant world. Obvi-


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ously, there isn’t enough room here to provide a fully detailed explanation. Thankfully, only a few soil nutrients are of real concern to most food-plotters, and there’s plenty of room to hit the high points of those. In this article, we’ll limit this discussion to the major roles of nutrients in fertilizer.

Preliminary Matters Soil pH and Lime. Even though soil pH and lime are neither nutrients nor fertilizers, no discussion of what fertilizers do would be complete without at least mentioning them. That’s because fertilizer does nothing unless the plants can access it, and unless soil pH is within the neutral range (about 6.5 to 7.5), soil nutrients are bound up in a way that

keeps most forage plants from fully accessing them. For example, if you fertilize and plant in soil with a soil pH of 5.0 without raising soil pH by adding lime to the seedbed first, the forage you just planted will almost always be able to access only about half of the fertilizer you put out. In other words, if you spend $100 on fertilizer and plant in 5.0 pH soil, you’ll be flushing about $50 down the toilet. That’s why soil pH is the most important factor you can control to assure food plot success, and why the existing soil pH of your soil is the first reading you should look at when you receive your soil-test report back from the lab. Test Your Soil With a Laboratory SoilTest Kit. Only a soil test performed by a qualified soil-testing laboratory can provide the precision to make sure you know exactly what the pH of your soil is, what the existing levels of soil nutrients are, and how much lime and what fertilizer you should add to the seedbed to correct deficiencies. The benefits offered by precision laboratory soil testing are real. It can mean the difference that makes your forage stand really flourish, and save you money at the same time. Often, you can save hundreds of dollars by eliminating wasted lime and fertilizer expenses. High-quality laboratory soil-test kits are available from the Whitetail Institute, agricultural universities, county agents and many farm supply stores. In this article, we’ll be referring to the report generated by the Whitetail Institute’s soil-testing laboratory because it is specifically designed for foodplotters instead of farmers. It cuts right to the chase, providing only the information most food-plotters really need in an easy-to-read format. Soil Test “Readings” and “Recommendations.” The Whitetail Institute soil-test report provides readings of existing soil pH levels and soil nutrients, and includes recommendations of what to add to the soil to bring any low levels into optimum range. This distinction is important for understanding the report. One reason is that a reading for nitrogen isn’t provided, but a recommendation for nitrogen fertilizer is. That’s because nitrogen in the air, while plentiful, is not a form of nitrogen that plants can use directly, so in most cases, you’ll need to add a standard amount of nitrogen based on the needs of the forage you’ll be planting or maintaining. Another reason is that terminology can difwww.whitetailinstitute.com

Page One

to raise soil pH. It isn’t beneficial, though, (and in some cases it can be detrimental to forage growth) to add way too much of any one element to the seedbed. And again, that’s where the accuracy of laboratory soil testing is such a great benefit. Nitrogen. Nitrogen is needed for just about every process a plant goes through, but for lack of a better word, the biggest role nitrogen plays is to promote leafy growth. You can sometimes tell if nitrogen is lacking by the yellowing of the plant’s leaves, especially if the leaves that are yellowing are older. Phosphorous. Phosphorus is especially important for early plant growth, root growth and energy storage, and it helps plants mature. Low phosphorous levels can be the reason for slow plant growth, leaf curling or die-back, weak stems and roots, a purple appearance in older leaves and stems, Page Two

fer a bit between a soil-test report’s readings and recommendations. For example, the readings of the phosphorus and potassium levels in the soil sample are stated as “phosphorous” and “potassium,” and the fertilizer recommendations for correcting low levels are respectively stated as “phosphate” and “potash.” In other words, phosphorous and potassium are the nutrients, and if those levels are less than optimum, phosphate and potash, respectively, are the fertilizers used to correct them. When you receive your soil test report back from the Whitetail Institute soil-testing laboratory, the first thing to check is the lab’s reading of the “Actual Soil pH” of the sample you sent in. This is clearly shown at the top right of Page One. If this number is lower than 6.5, you will find a lime recommendation in Table 1 on page one of the Whitetail Institute report. For best results, you should try to add the amount of recommended lime as early as possible. Be sure to incorporate the lime into the seedbed by disking or tilling so that it can work as quickly and fully as possible.

Soil Nutrients and Fertilizers Most food plotters need only be concerned with five soil nutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), and magnesium (Mg). And what’s even better, three of these (N,P and K) can be easily addressed with commonly available bagged fertilizer blends, and the other two (Ca and Mg) can be supplied by the lime you add


/ Vol. 23, No. 2


and reduced cold tolerance. And here’s yet another example of how having a laboratory test your soil can really save you money. As part of the planting instructions for all its forage products, the Whitetail Institute provides alternative fertilizer recommendations for situations in which a laboratory soil test isn’t available. Since these alternative recommendations are designed to apply to the broadest range of situations, rarely will they be precise in an individual case, and if they are, then it will be by chance. The soil-test report that accompanies this article shows that the customer is planning to plant Imperial Whitetail PowerPlant. The alternative (if a laboratory soil test isn’t available) fertilizer recommendations the Whitetail Institute provides in its planting instructions for PowerPlant call for the addition of “400 pounds of 1313-13” to the seedbed just before planting, and that includes 52 pounds of phosphate. The bar chart at the top of page one of the soiltest report, though, shows that this particular customer’s soil already has a phosphorous level that is higher than adequate, and consequently, Tables 1 and 2 recommend that no phosphate be added to the seedbed. The Whitetail Institute soil-test report costs about $13. Fifty pounds of phosphate currently costs about $20 to 25. By spending $13 on a laboratory soil test, the customer in this case will save the money he would have otherwise spent on excess phosphorous fertilizer. Potassium. Potassium is also important for root development, and it aids in water uptake by the plant, improving its tolerance of heat and drought. Potassium also helps the plant’s winter hardiness and increases its overall health and vigor. Calcium and Magnesium. Just as calcium is important for helping build strong bones and teeth in humans, it’s also essential for building strong cell walls in plants so that they’re healthier and better able to withstand stress. Magnesium plays an important role in photosynthesis, the process by which plants use energy from the sun to synthesize their food from the nutrients they get from air and water. The Whitetail Institute soil-test report provides readings as to what your soil’s existing levels of calcium and magnesium are. From the food-plotter’s perspective, calcium and magnesium usually don’t require amendment, because they’re otherwise available and any shortfalls are corrected with other soil additives, such as limestone added to correct low soil pH. The Importance of Nutrient Balance. It’s very important for the level of one soil nutrient to be in balance with the others. This, again, highlights the preference for testing your soil with a laboratory soil test kit. Only a qualified soil-testing laboratory can take into account all the relevant soil and forage-specific factors needed to make precise fertilizer recommendations. And that’s another way the Whitetail Institute’s soil-test report makes it especially easy for food plotters to determine what fertilizer to buy. Table 2 on Page Two is a chart showing alternative combinations of commonly available fertilizer blends that can be used to meet the report’s fertilizer recommendations. You need to clearly understand that everything in one block is one alternative, and everything in the next block is another alternative. In other words, whichever block you decide to go with, apply everything in that block. If you’d like additional information, please call the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants at (800) 688-3030. The call and the service are free. W

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Vol. 23, No. 2 /



Fields of Opportunity By Bill Winke Photos by the Author

y favorite stands are on the edges of small one-acre food plots. Though my farm has big food plots that feed many deer throughout the year, I have learned sometimes smaller is actually better. You need both kinds, actually — big plots to feed a lot of deer and small plots for closerange shots. Small, attractive food sources tucked into secluded openings will really improve the quality of your whitetail hunting. Deer like to eat. We know that. In fact, their willingness to build their patterns around their stomachs is one of the few things about whitetail behavior that you can always depend on. You can also depend on another fact: The better the food, the more they glue themselves to it. We all have our favorite restaurants. We pop into those places whenever we are in that neighborhood for a quick sandwich. After a while, it becomes almost a routine social visit. Deer have those same tendencies. On our farm, my goal is to create as many “favorite restaurants” for deer as possible. In


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this article, I will talk about why I love hunting these one-acre food plots so much and how you can put them to work.

Why They Work The author took this mature buck from a small, one-acre food plot during the middle of the rut as the buck came out well before the end of daylight to check for does. Such plots become the social hub for the area.

One-acre food plots — or even smaller — are effective for three reasons. First, they are small enough that any deer that enters the plot is likely to wind up within bow range. Being primarily a bowhunter, that is important to me. Hunting large plots or open fields with a bow can be very discouraging. The deer can — and do — come out anywhere, and it is easy for them to stay out of bow range without even knowing they are doing it. But in the small plots, the tables turn in your favor. Second, my favorite small plots are located in the cover — closer to bedding areas than larger plots. For that reason, the deer are more likely to visit them during daylight. The simple logistics are hard to deny. If the food source is close to where the deer bed, they will use it more. As a result, these small plots are the last place deer visit before bedding in the morning and the first place they visit upon rising in the afternoon. Micro-plots become the focal point of deer activity in that area, especially during the rut. Every buck passing through the area will add the plot to his rounds, checking a few scrapes and sniffing around for signs of hot does. You can almost call them social plots because these small plots take on the role of a community center for deer. I rarely hunt traditional food plots in the mornings, but I hunt my one-acre plots just as much in the morning as the evening and they are just as productive at both times. In fact, these plots are my best morning and evening stand sites. Third, deer feel safer in these small plots because they are only a bound or two from the cover. Again, this encourages the deer to spend more time in these areas during daylight.

The Best Shape Most of my one-acre plots fit available openings found in the timber or pressed tight along its edge. They tend to be oval, rectangular or round. However, if you have the luxury of building one of these from scratch, or carving one out of an old brush-filled field, the ideal shape is that of an L or a crescent. This gives you two stand locations that are separated visually from each other. These For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

stand sites should work (at least in theory) on different wind directions. You can hunt one side and sneak away without the deer on the other end realizing you were there. If you are a bowhunter, narrow is better than wide. When a buck enters a small plot, he will often walk the length of it, checking scrapes or just boldly strutting right down the center. I have seen it 100 times — probably more. If the plot is only 30 to 35 yards wide, he will be within range of your stand when he comes past, even if he is on the other side. However, for growing the crop, wide is better than narrow. All plants need a certain amount of sunlight each day to flourish. Even if we select crops that tolerate some shade, a narrow plot might not furnish even that minimum amount of sunlight. Also, the roots from all those trees invade the soil under the plot and suck the moisture out of it on dry years. It is a trade-off between huntability and production. I generally wind up on the huntability side of that spectrum, opting for narrow plots. I like them no wider than 50 yards. So a plot that is roughly 90 to 100 yards long by 40 to 50 yards wide is a great size. Just a simple tip: You can improve the growing conditions for your plot by planting it so that it runs east and west to follow the path of the summer sun. I have also used a chainsaw to cut back and kill the junk trees along the edges of these narrow plots. This improves sunlight and moisture in the plot. Just drop the trees back into the cover away from the plot. Of course, that is something you should do only with permission if you don’t own the property. It is fine to have a brushy edge, but the big, overlapping canopy of branches and leaves can suffocate your plot. It makes a huge difference just cutting back some of these sunlight-(and moisture) stealing trees.

What to Plant Because these plots are small, it is easy for the deer to wipe them out during the summer or early fall if you plant the wrong thing. I would not plant grain crops in a small plot. Better choices include clover and brassica blends. Both can do well in areas that don’t get full sunlight all day. Both can also sustain some browsing pressure during summer and still continue to grow. I favor the clover. I have had great success with clover through the years. It is low maintenance, easy to establish, will stand moderate to heavy grazing pressure and deer love it. The Vol. 23, No. 2 /


only down side of the clover is the fact that it becomes less attractive in the late season when the plants flatten from repeated hard frosts. That is when the brassicas shine and why I will always plant both. In fact, if you have a plot that is slightly larger than an acre, it makes total sense to plant half in clover and the other half in brassicas. I split these plots the long way so you have both crops the entire length of the plot.

How to Hunt Mini-Plots As good as the small plots are at attracting deer, they are equally good for another reason: They are also staging areas. That means that the deer often gather and then pass through them toward larger fields as the day turns to night. The deer are often gone by dark, allowing you to sneak out undetected. This is one of the big advantages of small plots over large plots — deer tend to linger forever in the large plots requiring a creative strategy (and often a diversion) to get away clean. In this section, I will look at the entry and exit strategies and the best stand locations for hunting one-acre fields of opportunity. Entry strategies: Getting to the stand undetected is easy in the afternoon; you simply

avoid all known bedding areas with your person and scent. I have several of these stands that allow me to come in from the opposite direction of the nearby bedding areas and with the wind in my face. I can slip into the stand without being seen, sometimes even getting aloft with deer in the plot. Getting in is the easy part — at least in the afternoon. Morning entry can be much tougher. My favorite small plots are those near ditches that I can sneak in until I am nearly to the stand, or even stands where thick cover helps to keep me hidden on my entry. Not only does a clean entry and exit require creativity, but you need to spend some time thinking about the stand location and even the location of the plot itself. I like stands located right next to terrain features like ditches or cover features like a thick line of cedar trees. I will offer more about this later. Exit strategies: Sneaking out clean is a bigger challenge for afternoon hunts. As I already noted, this goal is often aided by the fact that deer pass through these small plots and are gone by dark. You can increase the odds of this occurring by locating the small plot between bedding areas and large feeding areas whenever possible. The small plots become excellent staging areas but empty out just before dark — perfect.

Small plots can also be small fields. This small plot of alfalfa doubles as a forage-producing field for the landowner, who doesn’t take a final cutting each summer in favor of letting the plot grow thick and tall for the deer.


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You can also create these low-profile exit routes by moving cedar trees into strategic spots during the off-season or planting a screen of Egyptian wheat and forage sorghum along the edge of the plot near your stand. This mix grows thick and stands about 10 to 15 feet tall. It is easily short enough to shoot over but tall enough to hide behind. These plants are annuals so you will need to plant them every year; just a strip eight to 10 feet wide will give you enough cover to slip out of the area. Be quiet and careful in the way you descend the tree and have a raked, cleared trail to walk on and you can get away clean as darkness falls — even with deer in the plot. Place your stand on the side of the plot that permits the easiest escape. Plot location: Whenever possible, build your plot in a location where you have a safe side — a direction from which deer are not likely to approach. Examples of a safe side barrier include a bluff edge, a pond or river, a nearby roadway, even a farmyard. Not all small plots will set up this well, but it is worth the effort to find and develop those that do. Having a safe side gives you a place for your scent to blow and a direction to enter and exit. Stand location: It is human nature to want to set up right where the deer come out of the timber. However, resist this temptation. I am a firm believer that you should always set up on the side away from where you expect the deer to come into the plot. Remember, the plot is small enough that most deer will eventually end up within bow range, so there is no point in pressing things. By setting up on the opposite side you can hunt with the wind blowing away from the plot with little risk of getting picked off. Again, this is a very important reason to select plot locations where you have a safe side into which your scent can blow. To me, this is the perfect stand setup. The farm I hunt most often is loaded with all kinds of stand locations. I have ditches, creeks, big blocks of timber, wooded ridges, saddles and big food plots. I love hunting it because of all the diversity of terrain and cover. However, given all these options, I will jump at any opportunity to hunt the edge of a one-acre food plot 40 yards into the timber. I really love hunting these small food plots. Most of my evening hunts and many of my morning hunts occur in these places. Like I said, I have lots of other options, but these small plots are where I get my best shots at deer. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

Whitetail Institute RECORD BOOK BUCKS…

Richard Harris – Wisconsin Imperial Whitetail Clover and Winter-Greens have improved my hunting to the extreme. These products keep the deer on my property all 12 months. The two products provide a complete feed source. The size of my bucks has increased. I harvested a 200pound 8-point P&Y last year and a 150-4/8 net P&Y (photo attached). Thank you Whitetail Institute!

Chad Miller – Illinois The first year on the farm, we did everything we could to improve the habitat; we put in great food plots of Imperial Whitetail Clover, No-Plow, and Alfa-Rack, opened up oak trees by clearing hundreds of tiny maples that were choking out mast production and created tremendous cover in the process. That year around Halloween, I harvested a beautiful doe that weighed close to 200 pounds. A nice, wide 10-point buck came back grunting, snorting and circling the dead doe so I blew a grunt call and he came in on a string. Meanwhile, I had I real nice tall tined 8-pointer walking toward me in the clover I was hunting over. So I decided, if QDM is going to work, I would have to be willing to pass on some very nice but young bucks in order to find that elusive 4- or 5-year-old buck. And that is what I did. Last year on Nov. 5, I thought about the experiences I had with all the forks, spikes, baskets and monsters just out of range. I thought about my daughter and her knowledge about QDM, and for one early Christmas she got me an antler picture frame with her 4year-old hand written note saying, “Insert photo of monster buck.” Could this be the year to put a picture in that frame? Sunday morning found me passing on yet two more young bucks at six yards, one of which I rattled in. I wondered when one of the giants would show himself within bow range and if the tractors picking corn around me were going to have any impact on the deer movement. The tractors didn’t appear to bother the young bucks, but around lunch time I had to call it a day and assume no other deer were going to come near. After I touched ground, I immediately noticed two does at 60 yards running away from me and I instantly felt sick knowing they crossed the corn field right next to the tractors and were walking right in my direction. “Darn it,” I thought as I would happily have harvested either doe. I then called my dad to tell him about the day, and right as I lifted my eyes to look down the creek corridor, I saw this majestic looking buck looking right toward me. “Dad, monster buck, gotta go” I whispered. An abnormal south wind, that perfectly sunny spot where he stood in the meadow, the dark creek bed where I stood all allowed me to disappear and had not all of these things happened simultaneously, I surely would have spooked that buck. He put his head down and took a few steps down into the same creek bed I was using to walk out, and I sighed in relief. Patiently, I stalked as I could see only antler tops over the downed trees. He looked my way and I froze, thinking he may hear my heart beat for sure, but he would look away and I would inch closer. “Man the pros make this looks so easy,” I thought as I fought to keep my footing and stealth walking over all the softball sized rocks. I finally got within what I thought was 25 yards and pulled back my bow as I could see the buck getting ready to finally show me a broadside shot. By this time I had started getting the fever, and when I released I felt my arm drop and sadly I knew by the arrow ricocheting off a branch right in front of this buck, that this would NOT be the day. “%%*%,” I whispered, but the buck didn’t bolt, and I instantly grabbed another arrow. “Thank you Lord” I thought and put that 25-yard pin right center double lung and released. That arrow went a little high but looked good, and the buck took off. After a short track, I found the monster in a corn row, antlers wider than the row, his body rested against one row while his legs rested against the other. This was a truly mature, huge buck. We aged him at 6 or 7 years old, with a 4 by 5 rack 26 inches wide with three kickers and a gross score of 168 inches. So I sat there giving thanks to the good Lord, wondering how many times had I seen and passed this monster as a young buck? Was this buck my gift for my faithful years of stewardship? Too many unexplainable factors came into account for me to think otherwise. Since then many hunters have said that it is a buck of a lifetime, and I will agree, but how will we truly know what a buck of a lifetime looks like if we don’t have the patience, perseverance, and faith to pass young bucks and keep our eyes focused on stewardship? I must thank my father for introducing me to the outdoors, my wife and family for their unwavering support, Dennis Tessendorf (the farm owner who has helped me with every deer), Dan Packard (the neighbor who practices QDM) and the Whitetail institute for great products, and the good Lord above for making this buck worth the wait.


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Kurt Coleman – Indiana

Kirk Bright – Iowa I put in two new food plots this year and I went with Tall Tine Tubers. They grew great with large leaves and large tubers. They attracted a couple of the bucks that we had seen in years past and had sheds of. We were able to harvest the 160inch 10-point my dad took with a bow and the 4-year-old 7-point I was able to shoot with my muzzleloader. Whitetail Institute puts out great stuff and we will continue to use them without a doubt.

I have used Imperial Whitetail Clover for 10 years, and I also use Winter-Greens. The fawns have larger bodies and the does seem to be bigger, too. The bucks are heavier and the racks are bigger and have noticeably more mass. Turkeys like it too. In the last 10 years we have taken two bucks in the 140-class and Old Tree Top that grossed 1891/8 B&C. This is on 80 acres. The buck I call Tree Top netted 179. He is the biggest typical buck taken in Pike Co, Ind. I’d like to thank my wife of 25 years. She put up with me being gone from daylight to dark for two months while I pursued Old Tree Top. Thanks Whitetail Institute. I’m a customer for life.

Rob Dean – Missouri Last season turned out to be the best season yet. My son tagged a nice 12-point buck with an archery tag. (See photo). Last year I got a decent 10 point with my bow. Each of the last four years I have had close encounters with big deer. After much trial and error (we are not farmers), we kind of have a pretty good system of planting and hunting food plots. We mix and match perennials with annuals in the same plots and also leave some taller uncut areas. The bucks are definitely healthier with bigger

racks and bodies. Last winter we frost seeded Imperial Whitetail Clover into three locations – two upper areas and one bottom small plot. The outcome was excellent with very thick stands. Also attached is a trail cam photo of the 12-point in the bottom Whitetail Clover plot.

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

Whitetail News, Attn: Record Book Bucks, 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043

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Vol. 23, No. 2 /


Charles J. Alsheimer

all Tine Tubers includes a new turnip variety scientifically developed by the Whitetail Institute specifically for food plots for deer. It’s the last part, “specifically for deer,” that makes Tall Tine Tubers so special. The Key: Testing Under Real-World Conditions Without question, the Whitetail Institute’s product development process is one of the biggest reasons the Whitetail Institute and its products lead the industry. It’s what separates Whitetail Institute forage products from the rest of the crowd because it focuses entirely on real-world, observable results.


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Although that might seem simple on the surface, you really start to get the picture of how rigorous, time consuming and reliable that approach is when it’s done the way Whitetail Institute actually does it: by strict adherence to something called scientific method.

Scientific Method In a nutshell, scientific method is a term used to describe the established way scientists generally go about proving something or solving a question. It is a step-by-step process that starts with setting the research goal, and then repeatedly testing assumptions based on research until an accurate conclusion is reached.

Research Goals Whether Whitetail Institute’s scientists are developing a totally new Whitetail Institute forage product or testing and improving an existing product, the team’s overriding goal is always the same: to make the best products the Whitetail Institute can make for use in food plots as a forage for deer. That includes a lot of factors, such as attractiveness to deer, rapid stand establishment and early seedling vigor, sustained palatability, nutritional content, cold and heat tolerance, and resistance to drought and disease. When developing Tall Tine Tubers, two of these factors were considered most important: • Attractiveness to deer

• Sustained availability during late fall and winter

planting them and testing them under realworld conditions?

Testing and Observation

Research Equals Results

Testing, and especially the way testing is conducted, lies at the core of scientific method. For the results of any experiment to be accurate, testing must be set up so that its results are absolutely reliable, and the scientist is merely an observer. It took the Whitetail Institute six years to develop Tall Tine Tubers, and the whole time, candidate components and test blends were under constant evaluation at the Whitetail Institute, at its system of certified research stations across North America, and with field testers. At each stage of development, this evaluation process involved only two steps: planting according to directions, and then observing the stand for two things: establishment, growth and production during actual climactic conditions and with wild, free-ranging deer and to actually show which candidates they preferred the most. Why does the Whitetail Institute rely so heavily on real-world testing? It’s expensive and time-consuming to do it that way, but that’s how the Whitetail Institute does it, and for one simple reason: It’s as reliable proof as you can get. Think about it — if you’re developing products intended to establish quickly, grow well and last in a wide variety of climates, and attract and hold deer, what could be a more reliable test than actually

Because the Whitetail Institute relies so heavily on real-world testing on wild, freeranging deer, you can be assured that Tall Tine Tubers can provide the results you’re looking for. Designed for planting in the late summer/early fall, Tall Tine Tubers provides not one but two forage sources for late fall and winter. The first is its foliage, which grows very quickly and becomes even sweeter with the frosts of fall. The second is the sweet tubers it produces, which can grow large underground and are attacked as deer dig them up when the cold weather sets in. And the real beauty of Tall Tine Tubers? You have the luxury of relying on the Whitetail Institute name and what wild deer have shown about it under real-world conditions. Tall Tine Tubers is the most attractive turnip-based product the Whitetail Institute could make. Six years of research, development and real-world testing have proven that Tall Tine Turnip is drought resistant, cold tolerant and the most attractive turnip variety the Whitetail Institute has ever tested. Tall Tine Tubers is available in 1/2-acre and 2-acre bags. For more information, see www.whitetailinstitute.com, or call the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants at (800) 688-3030. The call and the service are free. W

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Vol. 23, No. 2 /


Take Time to Plan Your Approach When it comes to hunting, how you enter and exit a food plot stand can be as important as what you plant. By Bob Humphrey Photos by the Author

’m meticulous about the way I hunt, particularly the stands I hunt from, leaving as little as possible to chance. That’s partly why I ask so many questions when on a guided hunt. I’m sure I’ve annoyed my fair share of guides and even offended a few. But I’ve experienced the good, the bad and the most emphatically ugly; and until I spend a little time with the guy, I don’t know which category he falls into.

Following watercourses is another way to minimize your scent when approaching a stand.


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“We’ve seen some good bucks in this field,” my Illinois guide said in the darkness of his truck cab on the first day of my hunt. The stand he’d described on the ride sounded like a winner. It was in the woods, just off the corner of a cut bean field. From it, I could cover the back corner of the field above as well as a wooded pinch point below. Now I just had to get there. “Just stay on this two-track till you come to the field,” he said. “Your stand is down on the left side, but don’t walk along the edge. Walk down the middle of the field,” he continued. “The deer like to bed down in that bottom, and you might jump them.” Seemed logical. “When you get to the end, turn left and follow that edge to the corner. Your stand is right there,” he said. OK, I could figure that out. Off I went on foot, turning back only once to glimpse his taillights fading into the distance. It all seemed to make sense, until I made the last turn and found the field. If there were any deer in the bedding area, walking down the middle of the field would reduce the chances of them seeing or hearing me. But the wind would be blowing directly from me to them during the entire length of my walk, ensuring I would clear the hollow. Under different circumstances I would have switched to a Plan B. That wasn’t going to happen, because I’d never stepped foot on this property before, so I didn’t have a Plan B to switch to. I wasn’t expecting to see much that morning, and I didn’t.

ough job on your initial layout, you already have most of that. Then move from the extensive to the intensive, looking at details of how and when is best to approach.

Timing For the most part, you’ll be hunting food plots in the afternoon. Morning food plot hunts for me, tend to be a low percentage proposition. Deer are most active just about the same time you’re headed to your stand. If they’re already on the plot, you’ll spook them going in. By the time things settle down, so has most of the morning activity. But you don’t have to be on a food plot to hunt it. Set a stand back in the woods on a trail deer use when leaving the plot. That way, you can slip in the back way without disturbing deer on the field. It will also be a good spot during the rut if you’re after a mature buck. There’s another option, if you really want to go to extremes. Consider that we go to our afternoon stands sometimes two or three hours ahead of when we expect to see deer. Granted, something might saunter by earlier and offer a shot, but most shot opportunities

occur within the last 30 to 45 minutes of daylight. Why not go to your morning stand two or three hours early? It might not be much fun in a lock-on, but you could slip in to a shooting house, catch a couple of hours of sleep and then be right where you need to be when you need to be, with minimal disturbance.

Against the Wind You almost certainly factored wind direction into your stand location, so why would you ignore it when considering approach? My Illinois hunt in the opening passage was a prime example of how a bad approach can ruin a good stand. I contend that wind direction is even more important to approach than location, because you’re covering more ground and have the potential to disturb far more deer. Bumping deer on the way in is also more likely to have a domino effect, where one fleeing or snorting deer alarms others, putting them on edge or sending them on their way. During most circumstances, it’s best if you can approach with the wind in your face. As you have to consider other factors, that’s not

Getting There Deer hunters spend so much effort finding the right location, but they sometimes overlook how they’ll get there when it comes time to hunt, which can be just as important. We’re taught at a very young age that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But a direct approach is not always best when hunting wily whitetails. It might take a little more time and effort, but the route that causes the least disturbance is often the path best traveled. It might seem easier to approach a food plot stand than a stand in the woods, and in some ways it is. That also makes it easier to get lax and make mistakes. You should plan your approach in much the same way you planned your plot layout, by first gathering information on habitat and topography and how they influence deer movement. If you did a thorFor the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

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A road through the middle of your property might be the easiest route. But if it alerts deer to your presence, it might be worth going the extra mile, taking a perimeter road around and in the back way, especially if you want to take out more than you brought in.

always possible. If you can’t, at least use a quartering wind, or one that will blow in a direction where it will disturb the fewest deer. Sometimes you have no choice. Most hunters have heard the old adage, “Never hunt a stand when the wind is wrong.” That also applies to approach. There might be some stands you could hunt if you could get there, but the wind is wrong for the approach. Wait until it’s right.

Take the Highway No matter how conscientious you are about scent control, you will always leave some trace where you tread. That’s why it’s often better to travel existing roads, twotracks or ATV trails to the greatest extent possible. Deer are more accustomed to disturbance and human odor on and around them. During most circumstances, and especially when hunting alone, you should park your vehicle a considerable distance away from your stand and walk the remainder. Vehicles are noisy and smelly. In addition to petroleum odors such as gas and oil, there’s the sulfurous stench of a catalytic converter as well as anything you might have in the back of an open-bed truck. Then there are opening and closing doors, and on a cold morning, that annoying “tick-tick” as the metal contracts. Eventually, you might have to get off the road. If a quiet, unobstructed approach doesn’t exist, make one by cutting and clearing brush. It can also function as a shooting lane. Beware though that deer may find your trails easier to use too, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Easy Rider For every rule, there are exceptions, and this is particularly true of approach. Deer react differently to motor vehicles under various circumstances. I’ve seen them bolt at the first drone of a distant four wheeler, and I’ve seen them stand in a food plot and watch a truck roll by. The difference, in most cases, is what they’re accustomed to. Although it’s usually better to walk at least some of the distance to your stand, there are circumstances when riding as close as you can is a better option. This is particularly true where deer are accustomed to regular vehicle traffic. Obviously, this only applies when someone else is dropping you off. And


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the more frequent and regular the traffic, the more this works in your favor. If you suddenly go from weekly trips to check or fill the feeders to daily hunter drop-offs and pickups, it will have a much greater negative effect on deer movement. If you’re hunting alone, you might still be able to ride much closer, and this is one area where electric ATVs really excel.

going to spook any deer already in the plot no matter how you approach. And those back in the woods won’t see you in the dark. More important, you won’t be leaving any trace of human scent along the edge. This is critical as deer will often stop along the edge before venturing out into the open.

Sneaky Feelings

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to be a successful deer hunter. Much of planning your approach — as with most of deer hunting — comes down to common sense. No creature passes through the forest without making its presence known. You simply want to minimize yours as much as possible. Covering the basics should give you a decent shot, at something. But ask someone who targets mature bucks, and they’ll tell you the difference is in the details, the subtleties. It’s somewhat analogous to scent control. You can be lax and still succeed, sometimes. You don’t notice the absence of deer. You might chalk it up to poor weather, high pressure, low deer densities or a dozen other factors. But when you are meticulous about controlling your odor, you will see more and better deer. If your goal is meat in the freezer, you can probably ride up to your plot on an ATV, hop off and stroll down the middle to your stand. If you want to see big bucks with any consistency, take the time to plan your approach. W

OK, so we’ve covered the extensive aspects of approach. You’ve looked at the landscape, studied deer movement and planned the proper route and the best time to approach. You’re still not done. We’ve got one more area to cover — one where people often mess up. You put your stand in a particular place for a reason: Deer like it there. Just because they’re not standing out in the plot doesn’t mean you can tromp right in. Chances are very good the deer are lying somewhere nearby. This applies to any stand, but is especially true of food plots. Approach with this in mind and you’ll scare off fewer deer. You could even get an unexpected shot opportunity. Convince yourself there is a deer bedded nearby. Then load up and approach with that in mind. Just don’t forget to unload before you ascend to your stand. The above applies mostly to an afternoon hunt. The best route for a morning approach — besides sneaking in the back way — might be right down the middle of the plot. You’re



CUSTOMER SERVICE is truly Extraordinary at Whitetail Institute

The strobe light says it all By Hollis Ayres

he Whitetail Institute’s business has grown exponentially since it was founded more than 25 years ago and the reason is two-fold: First, the Whitetail Institute makes the very best products it can and second, it provides extraordinary customer service. Much has been written in these pages about the exhaustive scientific research, development and testing it puts into product quality, both by the Institute itself and the thousands of hunters and managers who have seen the realworld results Whitetail Institute products are designed to deliver. But below, we’ll also take a deeper look at the role customer service continues to play in the Whitetail Institute’s ongoing success. Whether you’re talking about product quality or customer service, no other word describes the Whitetail Institute better than “extraordinary.” The various definitions of that word can be summed up as follows: “Beyond what is usual, ordinary, or regular.” Those words accurately describe the Whitetail Institute, beginning with two events that happened more than 25 years ago. These two events marked a fundamental shift in deer hunting and management: the founding of the Whitetail Institute of North America and the introduction of its first product, Imperial Whitetail Clover. Before the Whitetail Institute was founded, far fewer hunters and managers un-


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derstood the benefits high-quality food plots can provide than they do today, and the comparatively few of them who even planted food plots had to rely on commodity grains, clovers, and other plant varieties developed for agriculture and cattle. The Whitetail Institute was founded on the belief that just as plant varieties had been developed for cattle and agriculture, new plant varieties could also be developed specifically for food plots for deer. That belief became reality for the first time with the introduction of the Whitetail Institute’s first product, Imperial Whitetail Clover, which is still the only clover product ever genetically developed specifically for food plots for deer. That certainly qualifies for something “beyond what is usual, ordinary, regular, or established.” When it comes to the Whitetail Institute’s focus on product quality, you can see that for yourself if you know what to look for. You’ll notice the Whitetail Institute doesn’t pay for celebrity endorsements. They don’t have to because tens of thousands of real hunters endorse them regularly. The celebrities that do endorse Whitetail Institute products do so voluntarily because they have first-hand experience with the results they deliver, and they truly believe in them. The Institute also doesn’t pay for the testimonials that appear in Whitetail News. And let me tell you, the Whitetail Institute gets a pile of them — so many that the vast majority never make it into Whitetail News because there simply isn’t enough room to publish them all. Even so, product quality isn’t the sole reason for the Whitetail Institute’s success. To get the whole picture of why the Whitetail Institute remains at the top of the industry, you also have to take into account how the Institute approaches customer service. Here’s how Whitetail Institute founder Ray Scott explains the Institute’s core business philosophy: “There are basically two ways to grow a business: by making one-time sales, or by developing repeat business like the Whitetail Institute does. Companies that depend primarily on one-time sales usually put a lot of their resources into things that help get new customers in the door, such as flashy advertising and/or paying celebrities to endorse their products. Since the Whitetail Institute relies heavily on repeat business — not onetime sales — our product performance and customer service have to do the talking, both to keep existing customers and to motivate them to recommend Whitetail Institute to their friends. Good news travels. That’s why we focus so heavily on both product quality and customer service.” Unfortunately, one thing you won’t find in Whitetail News is all the testimonials the Whitetail Institute regularly receives about the cuswww.whitetailinstitute.com

tomer service part of Scott’s business model. Hardly a day goes by without hunters and managers calling or emailing headquarters thanking them for something customer-service-related. While some are existing customers, others have had no dealings with Whitetail Institute or its products before they contacted the Institute with a question about food plots, deer management or hunting. In both cases, many of those emails and calls express surprise because they found Whitetail Institute customer service more timely and responsive than what they expected or what they’ve encountered elsewhere. In fact, they found it “extraordinary.” The way the Whitetail Institute approaches customer service is entirely different from the way many other companies do by limiting contact to automated telephone and website systems. We’ve all suffered through having our calls to such companies automatically directed by a computer to a seeming endless string of option selections that often end with a computer telling us to go to a website for help (if we haven’t already hung up in disgust by then). It’s pretty easy to understand why those companies give customer service such a low priority: It’s expensive. But it was an expense Ray Scott was willing to pay from Day One. Just like the results Whitetail Institute customers see firsthand with products, the proof of the Institute’s dedication to customer service is there for anyone to experience. An example is the Whitetail Institute’s knowledgeable in-house consulting staff, which is available as a free service to all who call, answering questions by telephone about food plots, deer nutrition and deer hunting, whether the caller is a Whitetail Institute customer or not. The in-house consultants can immediately answer about 98 percent of the questions they receive from callers, and if they can’t answer a question on the spot, then they have the Whitetail Institute’s staff of wildlife biologists, agronomists, nutritionists, weed-and-herbicide scientists and other experts to turn to so that customers get the answers they need, and that the information is correct. And the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consulting service is specifically designed to be as timely as it is useful. Everyone likes a prompt response, and that’s why there is a strobe light that illuminates any time the company phone rings more than three times during business hours without being answered. You read that correctly. A strobe light is mounted to the wall in every office at the Whitetail Institute for one reason: to alert everyone in the building that the phone is ringing and must be answered. That may seem like overkill, since the strobes only go off rarely, during periods of unusually high call volume. But the point is, the Whitetail Institute makes that extra effort to make certain that just like the Institute’s products, its customer service is the very best it can provide. If you’ve been a Whitetail Institute customer for a while, though, all this may not be news to you. After all, it’s been that way ever since the Whitetail Institute was founded more than 25 years ago, and the Institute has stuck like glue to the core business philosophy described by Ray Scott earlier in this article. That’s how the Whitetail Institute has been able to grow and thrive by building on repeat business and word of mouth, earning the satisfaction and loyalty of its customers. In short, this is what makes Whitetail Institute and its products extraordinary. W

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Products for


etter late than never.” This widely accepted and oft-used cliché is thought to have originated in the United States, and that seems appropriate considering most Americans use this expression from time to time.

are still finding it tough to get their food plots in on time. It’s especially prevalent in a world where speed and the ability to keep abreast are everything. We live in the age of information, and life comes at you at warp speed. We are all super busy with our careers, children, vacationing, hunting, fishing, exercising and a host of other activities. We are on the go. So what happens if you wait too long to get that food plot in, although you’ve promised yourself every off-season you’d get it in this year by the time fall rolls around? Not to worry. All is not lost.

I’ve got to be honest; I’m a procrastinator, and this used to bug my dad terribly. “You’re going to be late for your own funeral,” he used to tell me.

Sure, there are many plants you don’t want to put in too late in the planting season for fear that the elements, weather, and the like could ruin the plot before it gets going. And we’ve already mentioned that we don’t always have the time to do things the right way in preparing a perennial food plot. So what are the options for producing an attractive food plot that can be planted late and still provide nutrition and hunting attractiveness without all the sweat, preparation, money, fertilizer, equipment and soil testing?

Gotta Love Your Dad There are many situations in which people use this phrase. Some of them are more fitting than others. For example, you don’t want to use it with your college professor when you’re turning in a term paper two days late. It likely won’t help your cause. On the other hand, when you arrive a bit late for a family holiday dinner, it’s not as serious. Your family will forgive you, and you won’t have to worry about failing the course — though you might not get first dibs on the turkey and mashed potatoes, which is similar to failing a college term paper, in my overweight opinion. Another situation in which it’s not a good idea to come late and use this old cliché is on your wedding day. Although you might not fail anything, you aren’t going to earn any extra credit from your new bride. But what do these situations have to do with food plotting? Nothing, actually, but it seems that many hunters and land managers


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Help is On the Way

The Players Lots of companies sell products that claim to be useful for growing food plots with practically no preparation. But let’s be honest, many of them are simply over-marketed seed blends you could buy at your local co-op, and they aren’t always the magic mixes they claim to be. This is another area where the Whitetail Institute really shines, especially with its annual blends, such as Imperial No-Plow, Secret Spot and Bow Stand. All of these blends have been designed for food plotters who don’t have the time, money, heavy equipment and

ideal ground to produce a more traditional perennial plot. Or perhaps they just fall in that category of procrastinators (such as myself). Whatever the reasons, it doesn’t really matter. What you need to pull off a last-minute food plot is enough ground that receives the right amount of sunlight per day to get a quality plot going with the bare essentials for plant germination and survival — namely water and nutrients. Let’s look at the big three — Imperial NoPlow, Secret Spot and Bow Stand — and talk about their benefits. No-Plow has been around for quite a few years and has been continuously improved since its inception. It is a combination of lateseason brassica, cereal grains and annual clovers, and most recently, a radish and forage lettuce, which were added to enhance its attractiveness. It was initially developed for areas that were hard to reach with traditional food-plotting equipment. Spots such as clearings, old logging roads or remote fire lanes are ideal spots for No-Plow, provided you take care of natural vegetation before you plant No-Plow. We’ll touch on soil prep work in a while. Similarly, Secret Spot and Bow Stand are www.whitetailinstitute.com

Special Whitetail Institute products help you pull off a last-minute food plot.

forage blends designed to thrive in very remote, hidden spots. These blends also have a pH booster to help out with more acidic soils. This brings us to a good point about soil pH, but we’ll touch on this later as well. All of these forages need as little as three to four hours of broken or full sunlight to germinate and thrive. They are also designed to ensure germination with minimal soil preparation. If you can find such spots in your hunting area and do the minimal amount of prep work, you can have an annual food plot that can attract and nourish deer during the season, provided you can get the plot in no later than early fall.

Dean Weimer

Preparation Preparation is critical in most of life’s endeavors, and food plots are no different. Dozens of articles talk about the keys to food plot preparation, but the problem is that we’re dealing with a plot that is designed to take advantage of less-than-ideal growing conditions. With that said, it’s always best to take a soil

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sample of the area if possible. It’s also advisable to also use fertilizers and/or lime to optimize your efforts, too. Heck, in an ideal world, you’d have gotten the ground ready several weeks in advance while waiting on ideal planting conditions. Obviously, if you can do all these steps before planting a last-minute plot, do so. But this article is written with the idea that you don’t have the ability to do these things, so let’s focus on what you can do with the bare minimum of preparation.

I pride myself on creating great traditional food plots, but I’ve never messed with lastminute plots. This past summer, I decided to try out an in-woods plot and found a nice four-wheeler path in my buddy’s woods that was semi-cleared and had a small amount of existing vegetation. His neighbors had actually inadvertently created this open area in late winter while setting sap buckets and later collecting maple sap from his many maple trees. Several years of collecting created a very nice clearing. This would prove an ideal spot to work with. In late summer, I took some glyphosate and sprayed the existing vegetation while waiting on better planting conditions. Although the drought last year was serious for most areas of the country — especially the Midwest — it finally started to rain some at the beginning of September. The glyphosate effectively burned off much of the competing foliage, and then it was time to prep the soil in that spot. I chose to use a standard yard rake, garden rake and spade fork to loosen the dirt in the path. I have to admit, the ground was extremely hard, and this was not the most fun I’ve had while food plotting, but it was worth it in the long run. The spade fork was effective at breaking up some of the harder portions of the path, and the garden rake was stout enough for much of the other areas, but the plastic yard rake was the star implement in this plot, as it helped loosen remaining areas of soil and was also used to go back over the plot after I spread the seeds. That leads us to another very important step — perhaps the most important step — in last-minute plots.

Seed-to-Soil Contact Most of you know seed-to-soil contact is


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Whitetail Institute

Getting Started

Many hunters are incorporating plots to help in their quest to harvest deer, and are using small in-woods plots to help harvest mature bucks they’ve been trying to kill for a few years. ultra-critical in food plot applications, and this is also true for last-minute plots. Remember these products were created with the idea that you wouldn’t have to get a cultipacker or other drag-type implement into the areas you’re creating these special plots, but taking a yard rake over the seeds at least once after broadcasting can help tremendously. Doing so helps mix up the seeds with the available topsoil and can actually improve your germination rates in a lastminute plot. This is also the time to add any pelletized lime or fertilizer to the plot, so you get a good mixture of everything. Now it is time to let the late-summer/early-fall rains work their magic.

Hunting Tools Many hunters use such food plots in their hunting strategies, and any of the aforementioned Whitetail Institute products can shine in such situations. I’ve said many times that my favorite reason for food plots is the nutritional boost whitetails receive from them. But they can also be effective tools to help harvest deer. Many hunters are incorporating plots to help in their quest to harvest deer, and a few folks are using small in-woods plots to help harvest mature bucks they’ve been trying to kill for a few years. The idea is to know where the buck is bedding and create a hidden plot near its staging

area. As most hunters know, mature bucks tend to keep to the dark, preferring to stage in security areas before venturing to open agricultural fields after the sun sets. This is where a last-minute plot known only to you and the buck can be the final piece of a great hunt. The key is to get your spot ready while waiting on ideal planting times. You obviously want to keep your efforts as low-key as possible, and you definitely don’t want to go traipsing around the plot you’ve created until the time, winds and weather are perfect to intercept that buck. You might also choose to create last-minute plots in areas where deer congregate, creating a super hub of activity. An area like this could be great all season, but it might be best in later October, before the onset of breeding.

Summing It Up There are many reasons why many hunters/managers don’t get their perennial plots in on time, but there is help in the form of annual blends from the Whitetail Institute. With a bit of planning, preparation, foresight and sweat equity, you can create the ultimate last-minute food plot to help make your next deer season a winner. Remember, it’s better late than never. Just don’t be late for your wedding. It’s OK to be late for your funeral. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

The Hardest Working Hunters:

Disabilities Don’t Deter Kids By Darren Warner Photos by United Special Sportsman Alliance (USSA)

Each year the United Special Sportsman Alliance (USSA) and its partners hold the Illinois Dream Hunt, a three-day deer hunt in southern Illinois for children with critical illnesses or disabilities.

t’s an hour before daylight, dark as a coal mine, and the anticipation is just about killing Ramus Berryhill. Although the 11-year-old hunter appears calm and collected, his stomach is tied in knots. Ramus and his dad, Randy, have come from Chicago to southern Illinois to deer hunt for the first time. Like all deer hunters, they can’t wait for the sun to break the horizon and the day’s events to unfold. Suddenly the mystic shrieks of God-knows-what pierce the night. Their hunting guide, Lucas Shelley, explains that it’s just a barred owl looking for food. The owl’s repeated war cries make the hairs on the back of Ramus’ neck stand up,


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reminding him that nature is all about finding the next meal — survival depends on it. Like critters that live in the woods, Ramus knows a lot about survival. He was born with severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome, or SCID, a rare genetic condition that compromises the body’s immune system and its ability to fight infection. Unable to play sports like his brothers, Ramus has chosen deer hunting to take him away from the regular hospital visits and medical treatments he must endure. Ramus’ hunt was sponsored by the United Special Sportsman Alliance. Since 2000, the USSA has been sending critically ill, disabled youth and disabled military veterans on hunting and fishing adventures throughout North America ( www.childswish.org). The USSA is the largest hunting and fishing charity in the country. To date, more than 8,400 children and their families have participated in a USSA-sponsored hunt. The organization is 100 percent volunteer based, has never been paid for any hunt they offer and doesn’t charge a dime for the hunt of a lifetime. Not surprisingly, the most popular adven-

ture is a deer hunt. Each year, the USSA sends dozens of children and their families on deer hunts across the country. Volunteers donate their time and expertise to do everything from guiding hunters to free taxidermy work. Let’s follow Ramus and other hunters on their quest to harvest a whitetail. We’ll see that outdoor enthusiasts like Ray-Ray (as Ramus is affectionately known) are no different from other hunters, and we’ll learn what they can teach all of us about being a successful deer hunter.

Skills that Kill The night before the Illinois Dream Hunt, 12-year-old Jade Vickers was in deep thought. With her eyes closed, she visualized several scenarios and what she’d do to harvest a deer. “I sat up on Friday night planning how to get a deer if I saw it on Saturday,” Vickers said. “I was able to get two deer: a doe and a button buck.” The morning was clear and cold when Jade and her guide, Gerry Grimm, settled in. They saw deer in the morning, but none offered a www.whitetailinstitute.com

good shot. After coming in for lunch, the two quickly headed back to the blind for an afternoon hunt. As dusk began to overtake the sky, a doe suddenly appeared. Jade put the cross-hairs on it, squeezed the trigger and expected to see the deer fall over dead.

She missed. Undeterred, she shot again. That time, the slug hit its mark and the doe crumbled to the ground. Less than a minute later, a buck appeared, and Jade put a bullet through the deer’s vitals. Now, the hunter wants to try her hand at deer hunting with different weapons. “I’m starting to shoot a crossbow with my dad,” Vickers said. “I started going hunting with him when I was about seven or eight because it’s a lot of fun to just get out there.” Each year, the Illinois Dream Hunt gives children like Jade an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and hunt. All the hunting is fairchase, and many of the landowners use Whitetail Institute products. As one property owner (who wanted to remain anonymous) said, “Imperial Whitetail Clover forms the basis of all my spring food plots. I then plant Winter-Greens and Secret Spot in the late summer or fall.” Like all USSA events, the Illinois Hunt is all about the hunters. “I’ve had the privilege of getting to know so many amazing kids and their families,” said USSA Illinois representative Terry Day. “The best thing about being involved in the program is when you’re with a child and he

From left to right, Randy Berryhill, special sportsman Ramus Berryhill and hunting guide Lucas Shelley with Ramus’s first buck.

Michigan hunter and USSA youth leader Tristan Heinz and his dad, Frank, with a nice buck Tristan harvested in Texas.

or she gets a deer. Both of you walk up to the animal, and they ask if they can call their mom.” Children who participate in a USSA-sponsored hunt come from all walks of life. Each hunter brings to the hunt a mountain of experience overcoming obstacles and a desire to be successful at whatever they do. “Having an appreciation for the abilities of these kids helps you see them for who they really are,” said Dean O’Brien, the Minnesota representative. “You don’t focus on the fact that they’re in a chair. You focus on that fact that they’re a hunter doing everything they can to bag a deer. Like having a fogged scope, a wheelchair is just something you have to

overcome.” Adapt, improvise and overcome. It’s the hunting mantra of a friend of mine who’s got a slew of trophies from all over the world adorning his living room. It’s how hunters like Jade and Ramus live each day.

Jade Vickers (far right) and guides Steve Holmes and Gerry Grimm with the two deer Vickers harvested last year.

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

Patience is Paramount As any seasoned deer hunter can tell you, hunting is a game of patience. After sitting for the morning and afternoon hunts, Randy Berryhill’s patience was wearing thin. They didn’t see any deer that day, and he was wondering if it would happen for his son. Ramus remained optimistic and persistent. Spending five months in a hospital undergoing gene therapy teaches you a lot about patience. One day, Ramus would feel better and the next day worse. Countless consultations, medical procedures and tests filled his days. These challenges have helped him see what some hunters overlook: that success is defined by the journey you take and the obstacles you overcome. Ramus applied that same dogged determination to deer hunting. The next morning, the Berryhills and Shelley saw some deer, but all stayed out of firing range. Later in the day, their luck changed. A buck came out of the brush and headed down the trail running in front of their blind. With no hesitation, Ramus slowly lifted his shotgun, aimed and fired. The buck fell over dead. That day, Ray-Ray had another incurable affliction. “I was scared because I had buck fever,” he Vol. 23, No. 2 /


United Special Sportsman Tommy Moslander (Granite City, Ill.) and two hunting guides with Tommy’s first buck he harvested with only six minutes left before the season closed.

said. “Now I want to get a deer with bigger antlers.” Talk to just about any deer slayer who’s hunted for 20 or 30 years, and he’ll tell you that his hunting goals have changed through time. Each taste of success leads the hunter to a new goal and an opportunity to conquer whatever obstacles stand in the way. Many USSA hunters have already overcome more challenges than most of us will face in a lifetime. They are uniquely prepared to be successful hunters, and the USSA helps them achieve that success. Yet like your first kiss, no hunter ever forgets his first deer. Tommy Moslander of Granite City, Ill., remembers his first buck like it was yesterday. “We were sitting in the blind, and it was almost dark,” he said. “We were just about ready to start packing up to leave when we saw the buck standing on the edge of the woods. I shot, and the buck just fell over dead.” The USSA program isn’t just about harvesting deer — it’s about carrying on the tradition of deer hunting with the next generation of hunters. “We’re also very concerned about hunter recruitment, conservation, wildlife management and hunter safety,” said USSA CEO Brigid O’Donoghue. “So our outdoor adventures teach about these things while promoting our hunting heritage.”

on camouflage and walking out to your favorite stand. It takes minutes instead of seconds to don hunting clothing. A deer blind that’s 400 yards from the house takes an hour to reach. Children in the USSA measure success in the inches they obtain, and not the inches of antler on the wall. “Being out in the wild is what really gets me,” said Tristan Heinz of Swartz Creek, Mich. “It doesn’t matter if you get a deer when you’re out there." Heinz knows what it means to claw for those inches. The 3-foot, 9-inch high-school sophomore has dwarfism, preventing him

Success Measured in Inches For anyone with a disability, going deer hunting involves a lot more than just putting


Minnesota hunter Zachary Bartz and his big buck he harvested on a USSAsponsored hunt.

from participating in organized sports. The USSA sent Heinz and his father on a deer hunt in Texas. Heinz bagged an 8-point and 9-point buck. Now Heinz is a USSA Youth Outdoor Leader, teaching others about the USSA and all it offers children and their families. Unlike many sports, deer hunting is something just about anyone can enjoy. It provides an opportunity for participants to demonstrate that the will to overcome is greater than the obstacles in the way. “We all have some type of disability — it’s just that some have greater struggles than others,” O’Brien said. “We help kids overcome their challenges so they’re able to hunt like the rest of us. Whether it’s adaptive technology [see sidebar], teaching them how to shoot or whatever, we give them the skills to get the job done.” There is one critical difference between these hunters and other deer slayers. “The kids stretch the truth less than other hunters,” laughs Tony Petreikis, Rock Island, Ill. W

Adaptive Equipment Savannah Vickers, of Elvaston, Ill., was a bit nervous about the recoil on her shotgun. Volunteer Jim Laud stepped in and built a special stand that allowed Vickers to aim and shoot without worrying about kickback. Today there are many companies that offer adaptive equipment that address the unique physical challenges of just about any hunter. Here are some: Be Adaptive Equipment designs and manufacturers activity trays, shooting rests, hand controls, lifts for ATVs and much more. All products are made in the United States. For more information, visit www.beadaptive.com. The motto of Big Sky Imagination is the sky is the limit. If you can dream it, Big Sky can make it. From binoculars to stands to rifle rests, all products are custom-made in owner Scot Browne’s machine shop. If you need something made just for you, go to www.bigskyimagination.com. The Hunt Master Tower Stand by Carolina Growler Inc. uses a dual electro-hydraulic to raise the blind up to 21 feet and can lift up to 750 pounds. Includes a trailer with loading ramp, lockable control box and a 2-inch trailer tow coupler with electric wheel brakes. Visit www.carolinagrowlerinc.com to learn more. The Timberlift is a motorized tree stand that lifts a hunter and gear up a tree and back down safely. Go to www.timberlift.com.

/ Vol. 23, No. 2 www.whitetailinstitute.com

Thriving in a

Sea of Pines By Bob Humphrey Photo by the Author

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade — Anonymous any of us dream of discovering a whitetail promised land; a meticulously managed patch of ground with just the right amount of food, cover and water, perfectly juxtaposed in a patchwork pattern providing plenty of hunting opportunities. Such places are few and far between and usually reserved for only the richest expeditions. The rest of us sail off in search of something less satisfying and often find ourselves adrift in a sea of pines.

productivity, the situation becomes even less favorable. But whitetails are a remarkably tolerant and adaptable species, and somehow they persist. Even the most intensively managed pine forests can have some value to the hunter.

Lemonade First, you must figure out how deer use this habitat. That’s what researcher John Harrelson from Louisiana State University and his associates did. They captured and radio-marked roughly four dozen deer and monitored their movements across a 9,600-acre industrial forest, and came up with some interesting — though not entirely unexpected — results. Home range size varied throughout the year for bucks, averaging around 300 acres in fall. So if you can find a buck on your trail cameras, you can at least pin him down to a section of the property that size, unless and until he strikes out on an excursion, which only occurs during the 10 or so days of peak rut. The researchers also observed that males and females shifted core area selection in the fall to 0- to 4- and 13- to 19-year-old pine stands. Harrelson suggested the older of the two was probably the best habitat type because of high structural diversity. Depending on what suppression techniques are applied, the very young stands could provide dense security and bedding cover. Find where those are in your section, and you’ve narrowed down the possibilities even more. More significant, and again not surprising, was the importance of forest openings when establishing home ranges. Woody browse is an important food source for deer outside the growing season (that is, during the hunting season), but is often lacking in intensively managed pine stands. Harrelson wrote, “Deer likely maintain home ranges

Industrial pine forest is the dominant habitat type in much of the Southeast. It doesn’t make for great deer habitat, but the deer are still there. And within that sea are islands of suitable habitat for deer and hunters. From a deer hunter’s perspective, it’s not the promised land. But with a better understanding of how deer use industrial pine forests and how managers can improve habitat and huntability, you could turn your low-budget lease into a bargain-basement bonanza.

Lemons According to the South Carolina Forestry Commission, there has been a 60 percent increase in the amount of timber in the South since 1952. A significant proportion of that property is industrial pine forest, often propagated loblolly pine in intensively managed, even-aged stands with short rotations. Timber products are the largest valued agricultural crop in the South. In Louisiana, they represented a $3.1 billion dollar industry in 2010 — roughly one-third of the nationwide expenditure of hunters. Simply put, landowners make their money growing trees, not deer. Softwood monoculture makes poor deer habitat in general. When you factor in chemical treatments of fertilizer and herbicides, and other silvicultural practices to reduce diversity and maximize stand


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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 30 July 15 - Sept 15* Sept 15 - Nov 15 North: Sept 5 - Nov 1 Central: Sept 15 - Nov 15 South: Sept 25 - Nov 15

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

Aug 1 - Oct 1

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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

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

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

Vol. 23, No. 2 /


in a way that maximizes access to consistent browse.” He also mentioned the importance of stream management zones, mostly because of the presence of hard mast.

Lemon Pie That knowledge will give you an edge (no pun intended). At least you can concentrate your time and effort in openings or SMZs. Or, you can tip the odds further in your favor by finding ways to improve upon what’s out there. Even in the most intensively managed forest, there are opportunities. Regular readers might recall I reported on a few several years ago in Whitetail News. Jon Cooner, Whitetail Institute’s director of special projects, discovered one way. While driving an 800-acre lease with the landowner, he noticed small patches devoid of pines. “For some reason they just didn’t take there,” the landowner said. Cooner correctly reasoned that if there were pine-less patches on the roadside, there must be similar areas in more remote spots. And because they wouldn’t grow pines, they were of little concern to the landowner. Cooner ultimately found two types he deemed ideal for food plots. “The first were small circular or oval spots where pines didn’t take,” he said. The second were spots “where a row or two didn’t take.” A quick application of Imperial No-Plow or Secret Spot was all he needed to create some back-lot honey holes. About one percent of southern timber is lost to fire, insects and disease annually. Those factors are a bane to foresters but can be a boon to hunters. Fire, micro-bursts and beetle infestations create openings in the forest that allow more sunlight to reach the ground and promote plant growth. Often, loggers will drop all the trees in an infected stand and enough around them to prevent spread. In the case of fire and weather, nature does the work. In both cases, it’s often not cost effective to salvage the timber so the area is left un-managed — at least from a timber standpoint — until the entire stand is harvested. Meanwhile, the foresters won’t object to you managing for deer. A disease or infestation cut leaves a tangled mess of “pixie sticks.” You could simply leave it as sanctuary bedding cover. Increased sunlight will also promote growth of herbaceous and woody browse, making a short-term natural food plot. Or if you’re really ambitious, you could cut your way in, carve out an opening and build a food plot.

Whipped Cream While laying out your plots, don’t overlook the obvious. Skid roads and fire breaks are a “natural” artifact of forest management. They also provide openings in the forest where much of the soil work is already done for you. Further, maintaining fire breaks as food plots actually reduces the landowner’s cost of maintaining for their intended purpose.

Conclusion Recommendations on what percentage of your property should be in food plots vary. Some biologists suggest 10 percent or more. Others suggest two to five percent will suffice. Even in the mostly intensively managed pine forest, you can usually find the latter amount available for plotting. And if you study the landscape and the habitat, you’ll find a good bit more huntable land there, too. W


/ Vol. 23, No. 2



— Thinking Long Term By Scott Bestul

ure, it was a deer hunting story. But really, it was about a tree. My friend Ross told the tale to me a couple of years ago, and truth is, I can’t recall if the deer he shot on the hunt was a buck or a doe. But I remember the tree, and here’s why. Ross is on the north side of 30, I’d guess. Family man, farmer, whitetail freak —though his wife would argue that order depending on the time of year. On an October afternoon, Ross headed out for a bowhunt, the stand he chose hung in a red pine that grew within a nice bow shot of a food plot. The afternoon lapsed pleasantly as my friend enjoyed a few hours away from a tractor. Eventually, a deer showed up, walked within bow range, paused at the right moment and died a few seconds after Ross shot an arrow from his bow. Just like we all want it to happen.

So why is the tree important? Because 20-some years before that hunt, when Ross was young enough to be obedient but old enough to fuss at his dad for working his butt off, my friend had pried a spade in the Minnesota dirt. Then he’d slipped a red pine seedling into the crease and pinched the soil back against the fibrous roots. The pine was one of hundreds Ross would plant that spring and, like a few of its generation, the tree survived. It had nested birds and sheltered deer, lasted through baking summers and frigid winters to grow into a tall, sprawling specimen; one that was big enough for the kid who’d planted it — who’d now become a man — to hang a tree stand. I like a good big buck story as much as anyone, but one that involves shooting a whitetail from a tree you planted as a child? Well, those don’t come around too often.

The Value of Patience Although I love Ross’ story for many reasons, the one I treasure most is this: It shows the importance of patience. We live in a freak-


/ Vol. 23, No. 2

Dusty Reid

ishly hurried world, where we expect results at the click of a mouse and await news — from truly important stuff to what a hare-brained celebrity drank at New Year’s — to arrive via tweet. And old curmudgeons like me can protest till our nose hairs twist, but the nanosecond society in which we dwell ain’t ever slowing down. But the whitetail woods can offer merciful relief. My boss might want instant results, but out in the timber, success can take time. My children scream for attention right freakin now, but on the property I hunt, the wind might be the only voice I hear, and it rarely urges me toward panic. Folks who don’t know better think that not much happens out in the places we love, but the deer manager recognizes that progress is being made every day. We just need a longer yardstick to measure it. What follows, then, are a few thoughts on the value of patience. www.whitetailinstitute.com

Fussing Over Food Plots I have a favorite food plot. I know there are places that grow better clover, because I’ve created them. And there are certainly better spots for killing a deer, because I’ve never shot a whitetail on this plot and, to the best of my knowledge, no one else has either. In fact, just seeing a deer from the one tree stand overlooking the plot is something of a victory. For some odd reason known only to whitetails, it’s just not a place they like to visit during daylight. But I love that place with the same affection I have for an old pickup truck, a runty bird dog pup or the children I used to teach who never made a team, aced a test or dated the homecoming queen. This plot has a unique character and grows Imperial Clover with an emerald sheen that only came after three years of nurture. The first summer, we bulldozed a quarter-acre half-moon into a quagmire of burdock, thistle and prickly ash. Then we spread lime to liven up the acidic soil. We watched the weather, planting only when the lying, no-good Weather Channel promised rain that barely came. I still recall that elation when the first sprouts emerged, and the sense of vengeance I felt, attacking the weeds that threatened the little plot. And it’s been a continual struggle in the four seasons since. Like so much in life that’s worth a hoot, success hasn’t come easily. But here’s the thing. When I’m having a tough day, I’ll grab my dog and make the short drive to that little patch of clover. I might pluck a weed or two, or check a trail cam. But mostly I just like looking at the thing. I know the deer like it too (their sign is everywhere, and my trail cams don’t lie), and someday I might actually shoot one there. In the meantime, I just like knowing that clover is there and I was part of the process.

Set Your Sights on

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Time in the Timber If you really want your patience tested, watch a tree grow. I planted a little stand of white pines about a dozen years ago, when my children were toddlers and just big enough to hand me a seedling and pour a bucket of water into the hole I spaded for the tree. I watered those wispy little things for two summers, checked on them after every high wind, and shot every bark-nibbling rabbit that lived in the same zip code as my babies. I figured the least they could do for all my nurturing would be to start reaching toward the sky, like, right now. But the ungrateful whelps seemed flash-frozen at their original height for years. So I did what any sane person would do; I quit worrying so much. Three years later, the trees had shot past my head, and now the trunks are thick enough that I worry about bucks rubbing them. I was somewhat less impatient when I did my first clearcut a couple of years ago. But still, I’d seen what a one-year old stand of aspen could do after my buddy, who’s a professional logger, got through with it. The place looked like a bomb site one summer, and the next there were so many six-foot saplings they could hide a browsing moose. So when I laid waste to a nearby three-acre patch of aspen, elm and box elder a couple of years back, I was checking on regrowth within a few weeks of shutting down my chainsaw. Fine, laugh at me all you want. But I figured if talking to plants made them grow better, why not spend some time visiting with trees? Turns out that trees are very good listeners, it just takes them some time to process your encouragement. They also confuse your directions. For example, that first summer the blackberry brush and prickly ash paid

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

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Vol. 23, No. 2 /


attention to my pep talk, but the trees wore hearing protection. Thankfully, the deer didn’t care much. They just want stuff thick and nasty, and I’d done a good job of providing that. Plus, I know the place is going to get nothing but better (meaning some actual saplings) in the years to come. So I just keep talking to my trees.

Providing proper cover allows deer to prosper on your property.

If you’re selective about the bucks you harvest, you’ve probably fallen into the same trap I did when I first learned trigger control: believing that every buck you passed would mean one more bigger, better, deer available next fall. Sigh. Like so many great ideas, improving the age structure of a deer herd is not as simple as it seems. More important, it takes a heckuva lot longer than we think it should. Although I’m four-square in favor of letting young bucks walk (if that’s what you want to do), it’s critical to go into buck management with eyes wide open. For starters, yearling bucks are pathetic survivalists. If they’d stay on your little corner of the world, where they enjoy a free pass from most like-minded hunters, they’d do pretty well. But they get booted around by other deer like ping-pong balls, usually wandering off until they find a new home (far away from yours), where they might not receive a get-out-of-jail-free card when they walk past a tree stand. That is, if they even reach said property. Check your roadside ditches if you want to know what happens to a fair number of the rest. Of course, a few yearlings run the gauntlet and graduate from that first set of antlers. It would be wonderful if life got easier for them, but it rarely does. As a buck ages he gets more involved in chasing

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/ Vol. 23, No. 2

Whitetail Institute

Managing for Monsters

and breeding does, an exhausting process that exposes him to all sorts of mayhem. Plus, he fights more often. If you’ve ever watched two mature baddies seriously tangle, you know it’s a wonder either of them walk away. And finally, a buck wearing his second rack is, in many areas, a pretty impressive specimen. In my home state of Minnesota, most 2 1/2-year-olds would make the Pope & Young record book, and many hunters would be justifiably proud to shoot such an animal. So here’s the deal. Go ahead and pass bucks. There is, after all, absolutely no way a deer is going to reach another age class if you tip him over. But unless you live in the Candy Land we ogle on the Outdoor Channel each week, getting a buck to reach 4 1/2 years or older — when a deer really pours the coals to antler growth — is going to take some doing. It’s a worthwhile endeavor; full of challenge, heartbreak, learning and the occasional reward. But never mistake it for a short-term project.

Conclusion They say as we age that patience becomes easier. I can’t testify to that in all aspects of my life — I’m still tapping my foot as I wait to get smarter, wealthier and better looking — but it’s been true for me in the deer woods. I used to beat up on myself when a stand didn’t produce right away, a food plot failed or I didn’t get the buck I was chasing. Without even trying, I’d let the same competitiveness that ruled much of my existence to stick its ugly head into the prettiest, most peaceful place I knew. I’d like to say I had an epiphany at some point, but if it happened I missed it. I think the truth is more subtle, actually; the same gradual awakening that makes you realize your bird dog won’t learn faster if you yell at him or your children respond better to praise than discipline. I still have to remind myself of these truths from time to time, but that’s become easier to do as I’ve grown older. Sometimes I wonder if, instead of talking to trees, they’ve been the ones talking to me. W www.whitetailinstitute.com



You don’t need a ton of expensive equipment or a PhD in whitetail biology to effectively manage your hunting property. Just Keep It Simple Stupid! By Joe Blake Photo by the Author

stiff northwest wind was howling across the open North Dakota countryside as I made my way along the edge of the standing sea of sunflowers toward a heavy grove of timber. Surrounded by the vast acreage of crops, this dense woodlot was a magnet for area whitetails, as indicated by the huge numbers of rubs and scrapes scattered throughout the cover. Problem was, the deer entered, exited and moved about the woodlot with no particular pattern, making a successful ambush a crapshoot. I did have a trick up my sleeve though.


/ Vol. 23, No. 2

A few weeks earlier, on a similarly windy and rainy day, I had slipped into an inside corner of the woodlot with tools in hand and prepared a site that I was sure would prove irresistible to the bucks that lived there. With a heavy landscape rake, I tore up a small area of fairly open ground, removing the forest duff and breaking up the underlying dirt, and then hand-spread Imperial Whitetail Clover seed over my “field.” I raked it into the soil lightly and let Mother Nature take her course. When I came back on the blustery late-October day, I couldn’t believe my eyes: Everything else in the woodlot was a monochrome of browns and grays because of the unseasonably cold autumn weather, but my tiny food plot was lush and green and covered in deer tracks! Quickly climbing aloft in the gnarly old box elder tree that would hold my portable stand, I pulled my perch up with the haul line I carried for the purpose and began breaking off a few pesky branches in the way of my operation. Almost instantly, a


burly 8-pointer came crashing out of the thick cover and slammed on the brakes in the middle of the clover plot less than 10 yards away, hackles raised and full of purpose as he glared this way and that, looking for what he must have thought was another buck tearing up his timber. The buck never knew I was there, even though my tree stand was dangling halfway between the ground and my perch, and he finally swapped ends and was swallowed up by the surrounding thicket, while I did my best to impersonate a tree trunk and looked longingly at my recurve bow hanging unceremoniously on a branch below me at ground level. I never saw that buck again, but I have used this simple management tactic several times since to tag does and bucks, and it proves something very important about whitetail management: You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment or a Ph.D. in whitetail biology to effectively manage your hunting land, and even the very simplest of efforts can reap big rewards. When I was younger and playing football, my coach’s favorite acronym was K.I.S.S., standing for keep it simple, stupid. His belief was that fundamentals were always more important than trickery when it came to winning football games, and the same is definitely true for managing whitetail properties. Sure it would be nice to have thousands of acres to hunt and a ton of expensive equipment to work the land, but the fact is that small acreages and minimal effort can produce trophy deer. Let’s look at some simple things you can do to improve your deer herd and deer hunting.

Easy Does It To begin with, if you have minimal equipment and don’t have farming experience, you should plant easy-to-grow food plots. The Whitetail Institute offers several high-quality seed products that are super easy to grow, like Secret Spot, BowStand and No-Plow. These annuals can be planted just as I did in the opening story, with no heavy equipment and very little effort, and they provide exceptional hunting plots. Brassica products, such as Winter-Greens and Tall Tine Tubers, are my other favorites for simple but effective food plots. Brassicas are truly easy to grow and produce a truckload of tonnage, making a field of brassicas not only a great hunting plot but also a plot that can help your deer make it through a tough winter.

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Take Your Vitamins Another important deer management tool is the use of mineral licks. Quality deer mineral products such as 30-06 and 30-06 Plus Protein, as well as Cutting Edge nutritional supplements provide deer with nutrients they need to grow healthy bodies, and grow impressive headgear. Probably the best thing about mineral licks from a K.I.S.S. standpoint is that it is as simple as can be, requiring no equipment whatsoever. I like to have at least one mineral lick for every 80 to 100 acres, and I place them in areas of high deer traffic, especially near water, so area whitetails can find and use them with minimal effort. The beauty of mineral licks, besides the obvious health benefits to the deer and other wildlife, is that they keep getting better as the years go by, and the product leaches into the soil. You will find that whitetails use mineral licks most heavily from snow melt to about the first frost, and then the sites go mostly dormant until the next spring. These sites provide an important purpose and are extremely simple to establish and main-

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Vol. 23, No. 2 /



tain, and they’re ideal spots to set up your trail cameras throughout summer and early fall.

Take a Little Off the Top Most everyone has some sort of mower, and one of the best and simplest things you can do to improve your land is to regularly mow your fields. Even if you haven’t planted specific food plot seed, mowing small openings in the timber and small, out-of-the-way fields will encourage new growth, which is always more attractive to wildlife. It will also help discourage weed growth and improve the health of plants that are attractive and palatable to deer.

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Helps Improve Antler Growth! I 20% Protein to Help Improve Antler Growth. I Contains Vital Minerals and Vitamins. I Helps Bucks Devote More Nutrition to Antler Growth Earlier in Spring. Helps Improve Doe Lactation, Fawn Birth Weights, Growth Rates and Overall Herd Health! I Contains Critical Protein, Vitamins and Minerals for Does. I Source of High Carbohydrates and Lipids for Fall and Winter. Specifically Designed for the Needs of Deer! I Scientifically formulated to meet the unique requirements of the smallruminant digestive system of deer. I Contains macro minerals, micro minerals and vitamins in the correct forms and ratios deer need to help maximize genetic potential. Extremely Attractive to Deer! I Crunchy texture deer prefer. I Contains scent and taste enhancers including Devour, which drives deer wild. Maximum Flexibility in Delivery Systems! I Can be use in most spin-type feeders, trough feeders, and gravity feeders. I Rainshed™ Technology — Moisture resistant. I 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. 23, No. 2

Of course, fertilizing is an important step to food plot success, but did you know that you can also fertilize existing plants, trees and shrubs to make them more attractive and make them produce at a higher level? When we bought our farm, I found several naturally occurring apple trees around the property, and I fertilize them every other year to keep them producing at a high level. The same can be accomplished with oaks to produce a better mast crop, and all other beneficial plants as well. Fertilizing is another simple step you can take to improve the quality of your land and your deer herd in the process.

Hunt Smart Finally, something you can do to improve your hunting that costs nothing is to simply hunt smart. Always play the wind, use enclosed blinds if possible to minimize human scent contamination of your property, and practice sound deer management by harvesting does and allowing immature bucks to grow. These simple points cost nothing and require no special gear or equipment, yet they can produce great results, especially on the smaller properties that most of us hunt, because not hunting intelligently can cause deer to go nocturnal or vacate the property. The K.I.S.S. deer management program is something all of us can do to improve the health of our deer herd, the size of the bucks we harvest, and our overall success and enjoyment this season. So get out in the woods, and give your deer, deer hunting and deer management a K.I.S.S!

Author’s Notes One nice thing about deer management is that you are not alone in your efforts, and there are more companies and organizations springing up and growing every day to help you on your journey. One such company that has been around since the beginning is the Whitetail Institute of North America. Not only does the Whitetail Institute offer top-of-the-line products like seed, mineral, attractants and herbicides, but its consultants can be reached to answer any questions you might have. They have helped me out on more than one occasion. If you have any questions on your food plot or management strategies, give them a call at (800) 688-3030, or visit them on-line at www.whitetailinstitute.com. W


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Made in the Shade Maximize food plot By Gerald Almy Photos by the Author

hen I started experimenting with food plots many years ago, I didn’t have much land. In fact, I only had four acres. And the small cedar cabin I lived in at the time and various sheds took up part of that space.

production in low-sunlight areas

If that wasn’t enough of a handicap, the land was situated at the base of the Massanutten Mountain Range in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. In that location, it didn’t get a lot of sunlight. I was worried about the fact that shade covered the property by midafternoon, as any novice food plot grower would be. To be honest, I didn’t hold out much hope for my experiments. But the Imperial Whitetail Clover I planted there some 20 years ago thrived, even though the plot got way less sunlight than most of the surrounding farmland in this agricultural valley. It got about two hours or less, in fact. The time when it lost most of those two hours of sunlight, however, was in the afternoon. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was actually a strategic advantage. During the hot summer months, two hours less exposure to parching, moisture-robbing afternoon sunlight allowed the Imperial Clover to thrive even with temperatures in the 90s and little rain. Gradually it dawned on me that a little shade didn’t hurt. Since then I’ve been a lot less scared of shade, and you should be too. There are plenty of Whitetail Institute food plot products that will thrive with a relatively small amount of sunlight each day. This is es-


/ Vol. 23, No. 2


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


Research = Results™ / Vol. 23, No. 2

pecially important for those plots you want to tuck in strategic places close to bedding areas, in heavy cover or along logging trails in a forest. “All Whitetail Institute annuals for fall planting will tolerate as little as three to four hours of broken, filtered or indirect sunlight a day. Whitetail Forage Oats Plus needs a hair more,” said Jon Cooner, product consultant for the Whitetail Institute of North America. Although it’s clear there are plenty of choices for planting when the ground is shaded for part of the day, there are situations — as I found out in my early experiments — where shade can actually help. Sometimes a bit of shade, instead of 12 to 15 hours of relentless sun exposure per day, can be a benefit. For food plots to thrive and avoid getting parched and shriveling up, you need adequate moisture. Good deep tilling helps so roots can easily dig down far enough to obtain water during dry periods. And of course, getting regular, soaking rains is the most beneficial thing of all. But as many of us in the East and South have found out in recent years, that last ingredient — adequate rainfall — is often hard to come by. Dry spells have gone on for inordinately long stretches as severe droughts wither crops, dry up springs and ponds and turn lawns brown. In those cases, having some shade cover it during the day can actually help a plot survive by reducing soil drying and evaporation. For many of us who use small tractors and ATVs for tilling, it’s often difficult to get the ground turned over as deeply as would be ideal. In these cases getting some shade during the day is especially helpful, since it’s harder for the plant roots to penetrate deep through the hard pan. The moisture near the surface is often all the plants have access to. A few hours of shade during the day will help keep the moisture at these upper levels from being depleted as rapidly. When your plots receive shade is also important. If you have a choice, lay out plots on sloped land that get morning sun exposure, facing north and east. The plots facing this direction will avoid the hot, searing afternoon sun that can wither the crop when temperatures approach 100 degrees and rains are scarce. The ground is cool in the morning and the sun has its most beneficial effects then. On flatter terrain choose sites where tall trees border the west and south sides of the plot, so they shield it from the most intense late afternoon sunlight when the ground is driest and hottest. The shade will provide some relief an hour or two before actual sunset. Fortunately for my food plot addiction, I now have a much larger piece of property than the four acres I started out with. About 113 more acres, in fact, and a slightly larger home than the cedar cabin for my family to live in. Throughout that area, I have some plots in areas that receive full sunlight all day, others that receive partial sun for five to 10 hours a day, and a few I’ve carved out in the woods that only get three to four hours. The key to success has been to choose the best plants for each sunlight/shade situation. 1. For plots that receive the most sunlight get the best perennial plantings such as Alfa-Rack Plus, Extreme, Edge, Chicory Plus, Imperial Whitetail Clover and Chic Magnet. The annual Power Plant mix also does well in these areas. Just match the right product with the correct soil type. 2. Locations that get sun for half or more of the day, around five to 10 hours, can grow these same perennials and summer annuals as well, but also are good spots for fall annuals. 3. The final food plot locations I have are spots in woods that might receive just three to four hours of filtered sunlight per day. www.whitetailinstitute.com

tion from all your food plots. Use common sense and shade doesn’t have to be a handicap. And as I’ve found, sometimes when the sun beats down harshly, a bit of shade can actually be a help.

Trees in Food Plots Another place where you’ll face the shade issue is when there’s a tree or several scattered trees in an area where you want to put in a food plot. I’ve faced this issue several times on my land. I’ll have to admit, if I farmed for a living, I would probably have cut down the trees and torn out the stumps. This would provide maximum sun exposure for the field and allow the cleanest layout for tractor use. But several things kept me from doing that. First, I’m not a farmer, so I don’t have to worry about maximum production and perfect field layout. Second, I have a strong sense of aesthetics about my land. This might sound crazy, but sometimes I feel like I’m an artist sculpting the land. If there’s a beautiful tree in the middle of a potential food plot field, I’m inclined to leave it, in spite of the shade it will create and in spite of the interference with farming implements. That’s especially true if it happens to be a pear, apple, persimmon, mast-bearing oak or some other type of tree that will add extra appeal to whitetails in addition to the forage I’m growing. I’ve found, particularly in dry, hot summers, that the portion of the plot shaded by the tree often has a crop that’s just as good, sometimes even better than the totally sun-exposed areas. So cut down that tree if you must. But don’t say you had to do it because it would shade the plot. W

This gorgeous, lush Imperial Whitetail Clover food plot is thriving with several hours of shade each day. The small size of these plots and secluded locations, carved out close to thick buck bedding areas, make them some of the best hunting plots. You can often catch a mature buck visiting them while there’s still good shooting light as he stops off on his way to a larger more exposed plot that he might use closer to dark. Examples are areas you’ve bull-dozed and cleared in the woods, old logging roads, log loading areas and natural forest clearings. Since you’re dealing with the handicap of lots of shade and just three to four hours of sunlight, it’s important to make sure these plots are well fertilized. If possible, do a soil test, and then add the recommended fertilizer and lime. With these steps several WINA products will thrive in your low-sunlight, mostly-shaded plots. My favorites are Extreme, Secret Spot and No-Plow. By choosing the right seed for the various sunlight-shade situations on your land you can get maximum produc-


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Vol. 23, No. 2 /


Richard Claire – Missouri

Gary Zettel – Wisconsin 11-year-old Cole Zettel shot his first buck over a Pure Attraction food plot. The buck is a 9-point buck with a 16-inch inside spread.

Lee Gosnell – Maryland My hunting spot is on a power line that runs through our hunt club, which is mostly woodlands. I put half of it in Imperial Whitetail Clover and half in a mix of different clover types. I could see the difference immediately after germination. The Imperial was more even and had better vigor. The real test came when the deer showed a clear preference for the Imperial Clover. Seeing is believing. The other half has since been replanted. Maryland has a youth season that occurs before the regular rifle season. This past season I took Karli, my 10-year-old daughter. The prior season, she was able to harvest a doe, which made us both extremely happy. That morning we saw 12 deer, but we were trying to hold out for a buck. That evening was a little slow and I was starting to worry that I had made the wrong choice. Eventually we had a few young ones come out into the Imperial Clover. About 10 minutes before legal shooting light ended, a nice 8-point showed up. He eventually started working toward the does and with about two minutes of light left, she made a perfect 120-yard shot, dropping him in his tracks. Needless to say, Karli and I are firm believers in Whitetail Institute products. Keep them coming.


/ Vol. 23, No. 2

I have included a picture of the great buck my wife shot on opening morning last year. This was the first buck she has shot; what a way to start! I’ve been planting Whitetail Institute products for eight-plus years and see better results in the deer hunting every year. I began seeing this buck on a trail camera around the end of August. The first time I saw his picture I just about jumped out of my chair. What a giant! I nicknamed him “Snaggle Horn.” He became a very frequent deer in front of my camera, showing up almost every night and sometimes several times during a night. I knew he was living in a certain section of timber on my farm by the frequent pictures on the trail camera, but there was never a picture of him during daylight. I tried hard to get a glimpse of him during the bow season, but never saw him, although he continued to parade past my camera on an almost nightly basis. I built a shooting house which sits between my largest food plot (an acre of Imperial Whitetail Clover and 1/2 acre of Winter Greens), and a preferred bedding area in several hundred acres of timbered, old mine land. It’s a great place to watch deer parading one way in the morning, and the opposite way in the evening. My wife likes to hunt with me in this stand during the rifle season, and that is where we were on the Missouri gun opener. I had told her that she would get the first chance to shoot a deer. About two hours after daybreak, I saw a big buck walking across the 50 yard clearing between my timber and the mine-land bedding area. I told her, “There’s a big buck——shoot him”! While she was trying to set up for the shot, I was able to stop him with a loud mouth grunt. She was looking into the sun and wasn’t able to get the scope on him before he again continued his walk to the bedding area. Just as he was about to enter heavy brush, I yelled out another desperate and very loud mouth grunt which stopped him just long enough for her shot, which was perfect behind his shoulder. I went to look for him, and saw him about 50 yards from where she shot him. I could tell long before I reached him that she had killed Snaggle Horn. She was astounded when I yelled to her, “You killed Snaggle Horn”! When the taxidermy is complete, he will hang in the place of honor by our fireplace.

James Shrum – Illinois My son, Scott Shrum, purchased this farm six years ago. We planted two 1-1/2-acre food plots in Imperial Whitetail Clover and had great success with attracting deer and some turkey. My grandson, Dylan Shrum, is 8 years old and killed his first deer Dec. 27, from a tree house I built so he could hunt with me and his father. He shot it in the middle of one of the clover patches. There were several does that came into the field so I handed him the rifle and told him to pick one out. He made a perfect shot from about 75 yards. Needless to say he was thrilled as his dad and grandfather were. Enclosed is a picture of a proud 8-year-old deer hunter.


Steve Scott, VP Whitetail Institute Alabama

Pardon me while I reminisce. I hadn’t seen this picture in almost 40 years and my friend, who is one of my mentors and one of my heroes, Mr. John Nichols, found it, made copies and gave me one. Wow, what a trip down memory lane. I remember it like it was just last weekend, and the picture was taken in 1973. Mr. Nichols is one of my dad’s best friends and a great friend to me, and he loves to hunt. He started taking me and my dad when I was about 11 or 12 years old. I was HOOKED. Mr. Nichols was the first “MacGyver.” Seriously he could do anything. He’s a lot like another of my hero’s, my late father-in-law, Jake Chavers. I’ve often said, just slightly in jest, that if you give either of them a stick of gum and a rubber band, they could make an atom bomb. They could build, fix or make anything. And don’t even get me started on their cooking. Mr. Nichols took up a lot of time with me when he didn’t have to, and I will be forever grateful. Thank you sir. I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to kill hundreds of deer since my first one and many bigger bucks, but I remember my first deer, this 8-pointer, better than any of them. I’ve been blessed by the grace of God to make my living in the hunting industry for more than two decades. And for the boy in this picture, it’s been a heck-u-va ride! I want to thank the four people who helped me the most on my hunting journey. My mom, my dad, Mr. Nichols, and his nephew Gene Dismukes, who also took up a tremendous amount of time with me when he didn’t have to. Thank you all. And most importantly, I want to thank God for his grace and all the blessings.

J.B. Bruner - Alabama I really appreciate all that Whitetail Institute does for us down here. I have enclosed a picture of my daughter Kelton’s very first deer. She harvested this 110-pound doe on one of our Whitetail Institute plots we have planted with Imperial Whitetail Clover and Whitetail Oats Plus. I think I was more excited than she was! I also enclosed a picture of the 10-point that I took on the same plot a couple of weeks later. And as you can see from the third photo PowerPlant produces a lot of forage for us in the spring and summer. Again, thank you for all you do!

Louis Malinchak – Oklahoma Six years ago I planted four acres of Imperial Whitetail Clover and the deer loved it. This past year, Oklahoma and Texas experienced record drought. Further complicating the matter, my neighbor leased his 500 acres to graze 500 cow/calf pairs. The cows got onto my food plots and decimated them. We were convinced that the plots would require replanting. In September, we got scant rainfall. But the clover took what little Mother Nature gave us, and started to resprout. We got better rain in October, and by Halloween the plots were again green and attracting deer. As soon as it was available, the deer were on it with a vengeance. We harvested three trophy bucks (by my standards) this year, including a first and second deer for a 12-year-old beginner hunter, Parker.

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

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Vol. 23, No. 2 /


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/ Vol. 23, No. 2


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

Vol. 23, No. 2 /


REAL HUNTERS DO THE TALKING about Whitetail Institute products… (Continued from page 23)


always felt food plots were a waste of time, money and was unnecessary in good farm country. I have corn and beans yearly on my farm. It was the summer three years ago and, as usual, my wife and I spent the evenings taking a short drive around our farm and surrounding area. Normally this is when we see deer piled in the bean and alfalfa fields, however it was then I noticed my neighbors field adjacent to ours had a ton of deer in it and only a few were in the soybeans! We noticed this all summer, and soon I was trying to see what they had planted in their field that was the deer magnet!? Later that winter, I asked the neighbor what in the world did you guys have planted next to us that was drawing in all the deer? Ted told me it was Whitetail Institute’s Imperial Clover! I discussed with him where I had wanted to plant a food plot and what he would recommend. He answered Alfa-Rack Plus. It would do better in the drier soil. So the next summer I embarked on my first attempt to plant a food plot and doing it the right way I might add. Five days after planting it was sprouting already! The growth was phenomenal, and soon I had deer visiting it.

This spot is located across from our home on a field point that is hidden from the road, however we can glass it from our upstairs loft. I couldn’t believe the deer in it, and big bucks! I soon had my cameras out there to see what was what and to say I was impressed is an understatement. I have enclosed pictures of the food plot appropriately called “Field of Dreams.” A field where dreams are made and my wife’s came true. On Oct. 18 Lori shot this big 8pointer at 10 yards as he fed past her in the Alfa-Rack Plus. Enclosed is another picture of some of the other bucks we also had in there. We now have three more food plots with Whitetail Institutes products and have on the agenda for this coming spring plans to add three more! I enjoy working the land, planting, and caring for them as much as they benefit the deer. The pictures we get say it all. Then to harvest one of the deer is the bonus. We have had some of our most memorable hunts over Whitetail Institutes food plots and look forward to building a lot more of those memories in coming years. Thanks Whitetail Institute for making a believer out of me. When quality products and knowledge are offered the results speak for themselves.

Scott Smolen – Wisconsin


just started using Whitetail Institute products this past year. I got some new property with hardly any food sources on it. The property bordered a 317 acre cutover that was full of deer and I wanted to draw them from that. I planted about two acres of Imperial Whitetail Clover, Alfa-Rack Plus and Chicory Plus. I have had great results. I have had a great number of deer and turkeys on the property throughout the year. This is the third year I have had the property, and the products have worked great in holding the deer and they are very healthy. This is the first year I have seen any turkeys on the property. I also had the luck to harvest a 150-class buck on the property this year. These are great products and I will be planting more this coming year.

Brian Chandler – North Carolina


/ Vol. 23, No. 2


planted a generic clover several years ago and had good results but decided to try Whitetail Institute products about five years ago. I used both Imperial Whitetail Clover and Chicory Plus. I started noticing increased use in my plots immediately and began seeing larger, more mature bucks and found sheds of some real monsters in our clover plots. My son-in-law took my 4-year-old grandson, Alex, to a shooting house overlooking our largest food plot. As the afternoon progressed they saw several does and small bucks. At last shooting light a pretty good 10-point stepped out into the Chicory Plus. One shot later and we now have a rabid 4-year-old deer hunter on our hands. Both Alex and I are sold on Whitetail Institute products. Whitetail Institute has a pretty darn good product when a 4year-old can notice the difference in use on fields planted in Imperial Whitetail Clover, Chicory Plus and generic product of the same type. My grandson insists on hunting over the plots planted with Whitetail Institute products. Keep up the good work! We also routinely see 60 to 70 turkeys on our plots so they apparently love it too.

Phillip Brewer – Alabama

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

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


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compact bow. The Creed truly is Advanced Simplicity.

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DR AW WEIGHTS 5 0 - 7 0 l bs DR AW LENGTHS 26 - 30”

all specifications are approximate


Profile for Whitetail Institute

Whitetail News Vol 23.2  

Whitetail News Volume 23 Issue 2

Whitetail News Vol 23.2  

Whitetail News Volume 23 Issue 2