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


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To Whitetail Institute Seed Research And To The World’s Food Supply!

The Importance Of Honeybees…

In This Issue… 18

ATVs and ATV Implements for Food Plot Work


Never a Dull Moment

By Jon Cooner By Gerald Almy Nine things to do when you think you’re caught up with your habitat work.


How to Maximize Performance and Longevity of Perennials

38 42

Edge — A Star Perennial Performer Imperial Whitetail Clover Key to Family “Trifecta”

By Jon Cooner



By Cody Altizer

Features 6

Honeybees… Big Things Come in Small Packages

12 “New and Improved” Words that have Real Meaning at the Whitetail Institute

ON THE COVER: Dr. Wayne Hanna, Whitetail Institute Agronomist (left), and W.D. McAllister with one of the beehives that plays a crucial role in Whitetail Institute seed research and development.

By Matt Harper During the past quarter century, the Whitetail Institute has made many improvements to their product, some of which you might know about, many of which you might not. The Whitetail Institute introduces new versions of products because they will truly perform better.

16 Mean and Green: Food Plots for Spring Gobblers By Sam Parrish Just like deer, food plots can congregate turkeys in an area.



Improving Antlers by the Numbers


Protein… Separating Fact from Fiction

By Jon Cooner By Matt Harper


Springtime is Primetime… For Perennial Food Plot Work By Whitetail Institute Staff

Revitalize Food Plots with Frost-Seeding By Scott Bestul Frost-seeding is an agricultural practice with a long history, and it’s as simple as its name implies. Seeds are broadcast during the late winter or early spring.


Small Plot Plans for Big Results By Scott Bestul

By Jon Cooner Honeybees play a vital role in the Whitetail Institute’s development of new plant varieties for food plots for deer. In fact, the Whitetail Institute couldn’t do it without them.



Departments 4 26

A Message from Ray Scott Field Testers Report Stories and Photos


Record Book Bucks Stories and Photos

47 62

Food Plot Planting Dates The Weed Doctor By W. Carroll Johnson, III Ph.D., Weed Scientist and Agronomist


First Deer — Aiming for the Future

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 Director of Certified Research Frank Deese Wildlife Biologist Jon Cooner Director of Special Projects Brandon Self, Kendrick Thomas, John White Product Consultants Daryl Cherry Director of Sales Javin Thomas Upper Midwest Sales Manager Dawn McGough Office Manager Mary Jones Internet Customer Service Manager Teri Hudson Office Administrator Accounts Receivable 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. 3 /


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

A Note on Starbucks and Whitetails I

I identify with Mr. Schultz because like him, we at Whitetail Institute determined to put principle over profits from our very founding over 25 years ago.

was flipping channels not long ago and was stopped by the words “rare interview” and “billionaire.” I soon discovered I was listening to Howard Schultz, the innovator of Starbucks. Now I am not a Starbucks regular but I have certainly enjoyed the occasional espresso with my wife. But I was impressed by his rags-toriches personal story and immediately fascinated as I always am with anyone who successfully discovers or creates a need or niche in our free market system. As someone who was looked upon as highly eccentric (insert the word crazy if you wish) for creating an industry (B.A.S.S.) around a single species of fish (the black bass, long considered a “trash” fish) and then believing that hunters and land managers would be interested in providing whitetail-specific groceries and supplements for the betterment of their deer herds, I was mesmerized by the guy who introduced the world to $4.00 coffee (minimum) in paper cups. The success of Mr. Schultz was based not only on a predictable product but also on the ambiance he creates in his stores, and especially the hospitality and service of the staff he calls “baristas” and considers partners. My ears really perked up when I found out this was a man who was willing to put principle over profit. He “retired” briefly as CEO and then came back when he saw his brand slipping. To the dismay of shareholders, he closed thousands of stores across the country for a day (to the tune of millions of dollars) to basically retrain the baristas to make coffee. Later he shelled out more bucks to hold a huge


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team-building conference to recharge his store managers. It worked. The spirit was back and it showed in the bottom line. This is a story I love. I passionately believe in passion; and I identify with Mr. Schultz because like him, we at Whitetail Institute determined to put principle over profits from our very founding over 25 years ago. The principle? We would never market a product that did not have a real purpose for our field testers or did not work as intended. No matter how easy and how profitable it would be to do otherwise. And we would never stoop to slapping the terms “new” or “improved” on a product unless that was the absolute truth. Matt Harper covers this well in his article on page 12. I hope you read it and know that every time we create and/or introduce a new product, add or improve an ingredient or refine an existing formula, it has run the gauntlet of scientific process and real world testing. And like Mr. Schultz and his baristas we also determined early on that we wanted to be much more than order takers. And that is why we invest in a staff of knowledgeable, caring consultants who not only know our products backwards and forwards, but use them because they are deer hunters and managers themselves. I am proud to say we have histories with customers that go back decades. Their problems are our problems and their successes are our successes. Frankly as both Mr. Schultz and the Institute know, principles are just good business.


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Honeybees Big Things Come In Small Packages By Jon Cooner

oneybees play a critical role in the Whitetail Institute’s development of new plant varieties for food plots for deer. In fact, the Whitetail Institute couldn’t do it without them. The importance of bees is vastly broader than just forage research, though. It would be impossible to overstate how critical bees are to life as we know it on Earth. The Role Bees Play in Whitetail Institute Forage Development The Whitetail Institute is the food plot company that genetically develops new forage varieties specifically for deer. The technically correct term for these new forage varieties is “cultivars.” “In conversation, we sometimes refer to the new forages the Whitetail Institute develops as new ‘varieties’,” Dr. Hanna explains. “That’s fine in everyday conversation because it gets the point across that what the Whitetail Institute has developed is new and/or improved for a specific purpose: as a


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forage for deer. The correct scientific term, though, is ‘cultivars’.” Anyone familiar with the Whitetail Institute’s history knows that it started with Ray Scott’s idea that just as plant varieties had been developed for agriculture, and for cattle hay and grazing, new varieties could also be scientifically developed to meet the unique attraction, palatability and nutritional needs of whitetail deer. That idea became reality with Imperial Whitetail Clover, which remains to this day the only clover product ever genetically developed specifically for whitetails. While most folks are aware of that story and the huge impact Whitetail Institute forage products continue to have on the entire hunting industry, they may not be as familiar with the crucial role bees play in Whitetail Institute’s plant-breeding: bees are indispensable to cross-pollination, the process by which pollen is transferred between flowering plants, allowing them to reproduce. To create Imperial Whitetail Clover, the Whitetail Institute Agronomist, Dr Wayne Hanna (left) and W.D. McAllister inspect the work being done by McAllister’s bees.


Whitetail Institute’s first Director of Forage Research Dr. Wiley Johnson, selected approximately 100 different clover varieties to serve as breeding stock. He then began the laborious process of cross-breeding them using honeybees over the course of seven years, discarding most offspring and keeping only those that best met specific criteria related to whitetail food plots, for example attractiveness to whitetails, palatability, sustained protein content, early seedling vigor, resistance to heat, cold and disease, and other criteria. This is the same general process the Whitetail Institute follows today when developing new plant varieties. A more recent example is Tall Tine Turnip, the new turnip cultivar that is the backbone turnip variety in Tall Tine Tubers. Like humans, each plant has its own individual genetics that are different in some way from the genetics of any other plant. Dr. Hanna also explains that using bees for crosspollination increases genetic diversity, which makes resulting cultivars more stable and better able to adapt to different growing conditions. “In order for the Whitetail Institute to conclude that it has developed a new cultivar, the

new and/or improved plants must be distinct, meaning that they must exhibit traits that distinguish them from any other known cultivar. They must also be uniform and stable, meaning that they must be able to repeatedly produce seed that also carries the genetic traits of the parent plants,” Dr. Hanna said.

The Importance of Bees to the World As We Know It The economic importance of bees in agriculture is enormous. According to a Cornell University study, the value of honeybee pollination to U.S. agriculture is more than $14 billion annually. And that’s not surprising when you consider that many plants depend entirely on bees for production. Some crops, for example, will not set fruit unless their flowers are cross-pollinated. In fact, we humans depend on honeybees to pollinate 80 percent of flowering crops — about one third of the food we eat. In addition, the amount of fruit production of many plants is directly related to the number of bees that cross-pollinate them — the more bees that pollinate the plant, the more fruit it yields. This obviously is of direct im-

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pact concerning crops humans grow for consumption. Consider also how important it is to crops grown to feed the animals we eat or use for dairy production. Alfalfa is an excellent example. Honeybees greatly increase the amount of alfalfa seed produced for harvest. Without them, it would take many more acres to produce enough seed for our needs, which would result in vastly higher prices for related goods. Dr. Hanna summarizes that fact in very direct way: “Bees help us produce food, feed and fiber economically and in sufficient quantity to furnish it to people around the world.” And, don’t forget that without honey, the world would be a lot less sweet — and we’d miss out on the important health benefits honey provides. “The diversity of plants that bees get nectar and pollen from carries forward into the honey and helps us develop resistance to different allergies,” Dr. Hanna explains. So the next time you see a honeybee, maybe you’ll look at it a little differently. He’s a hard worker that’s crucial to the quality of the food plots you plant for your deer. And more importantly, he’s vital to the production of the food you feed your family. W

Vol. 23, No. 3 /


Revitalize Food Plots with

Frost-Seeding By Scott Bestul Photos by Charles J. Alsheimer


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y dad likes to tell me stories from his boyhood, and my favorites almost always involve some aspect of farm life. One in particular involved an uncle known for odd behavior and antics that made most of the family think him mildly, if not completely, “touched.” Dad recalled this uncle, walking around in snow-covered fields and pastures, working a handcrank seeder. Naturally, planting seeds in the snow only fueled the poor uncle’s alreadysuspect reputation and elevated his potential as a candidate for one of the state institutions nearby.


Of course, many years later, it has become clear that crazy Uncle Milt was simply frost-seeding those fields. He might still have been a poster boy for the loony bin in other areas of his life, but the man had no screw loose when it came to successful farming. Like almost everything food-plot related, hunters learned the technique of frost-seeding from farmers. As a practice, it’s been around for decades (or longer) and has been used to recharge and regenerate fields and pastures by those who make their living in agriculture. For those of us who simply want to grow better food plots for deer, it can be an effective and inexpensive way to not only recharge a food plot but add years to its life.

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Frost-Seeding: What the Heck is It? As noted, frost-seeding is an agricultural practice with a long history, and it’s as simple as its name implies. Seeds are broadcast during late winter or early spring, when the ground is going through its normal cycle of daytime thawing and nighttime freezing. This process causes the ground to heave and contract, which creates cracks and fissures in the soil. Seeds lying on the surface are pulled into the dirt during this process, where they make contact with the soil and eventually germinate. Snowmelt and spring rains can help this process along, but they can also have a negative effect as well (more on that later). Frost-seeding is used by farmers to give an established field or pasture a boost. It is not an effective method for starting a food plot if maximum results are expected. But for an established plot that’s experienced winterkill, weed issues or simply has gotten thin for some reason, frost-seeding is a good way to make the plot better for the upcoming growing season. For advice on frost-seeding, I turned to a pair of experts well known to Whitetail News readers: Charlie Alsheimer and Matt Harper.

Midwest Harper has boyhood memories of his grandpa frost-seeding in that limbo season of late winter/early spring that Midwesterners know so well. “He’d frost-seed entire fields,” Harper said. “He’d take a bean field and seed it to clover and orchard grass, or frost-seed an old hayfield that had gotten thin. It’s a practice that farmers have been using for a long time.” According to Harper, the ideal conditions for frost-seeding are easy to describe, yet tough to take advantage of. “You want to be out there in the last few days or weeks of winter or early spring,” he said. “You want that freeze/thaw cycle to really be working and heaving the soil. It works well here in the Midwest when there’s three to four inches of snow on the ground but not much more than that. The snow actually helps the process, because it helps create those cracks and fissures that allow the seed to penetrate the soil and, eventually, germinate.” Harper stressed that frost-seeding is far from an exact science. “It can be an excellent way to give a plot a boost but it can also go wrong in a real hurry,” he said. “There are lots of variables that you can’t control. For example, the weather might be perfect for frost-seeding, and you throw down seed and get a snowstorm. Or it can rain really hard or melt really quickly, and all of a sudden your seed is washed off the plot instead of being where you need it to be. I guess it’s like so much of food plotting; if conditions go bad on you, it can really affect your success.”

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Vol. 23, No. 3 /


The ideal use of frost-seeding is, as mentioned, to give established plots a boost for the upcoming season. “You want to use hard seeds, like clover or alfalfa,” Harper said. “So it’s a great way to get an older stand — or one that’s got thin spots — of clover to go another couple of years. I like to increase the recommended seeding rate when I frost-seed because there are so many variables that you can’t control. I simply count on a lower germination rate, and sometimes I’ll nearly double the recommended amount of seed. I never get concerned about overseeding with a small seed like clover.” If you’re planting in a region that typically doesn’t get much snowfall, it will be simple to identify thin patches in the plot and spread more seed in those areas. But if your plot is snow-covered, remembering where those band-aid spots are might be a challenge. “If you don’t have a lot of plots to work, you can probably commit them to memory,” Harper said. “But it wouldn’t be a bad idea to flag the spots before the snow flies. Then when you come back to frost-seed you’ll know exactly the areas you need to concentrate on.” Harper said well-drained sites are

the best candidates for frost-seeding. “Ridge top plots or those with only a slight slope are the best sites, because rain or melting snow aren’t as likely to wash seed off the plot," he said. "I wouldn’t waste time frostseeding any plot with a significant slope; and low places — such as a waterway — can be really bad. Any significant water coming through may just wash the seed right off the plot.”’ Although he’s clearly a proponent of the technique, Harper takes a matter-of-fact approach. “It’s got a long history and has been used with success by farmers for a long time,” he said. “But it’s no silver bullet. It’s not going to make a four-year-old clover plot look like a second-year stand, and you have to really watch the weather and time things right. But done properly, frost-seeding is an excellent tool that deserves a place in anyone’s arsenal.”

The East The veteran of many food plot seasons in upstate New York, Alsheimer has experimented with almost every seed out there and

every method of making those seeds grow. He sees two main benefits to frost-seeding. “First, it keeps a good food plot producing and breathes some new life into it. And the second is all about time and money. It takes a commitment of both time and money to establish a new clover plot. “With that kind of investment, I want that plot producing for as many seasons as possible. Frost-seeding is a perfect way to keep that investment paying off.” Alsheimer said this past year served as an excellent reminder of the benefits of frostseeding. “We had a big die-off in clover and alfalfa fields in this region,” he said. “There were long periods of the winter that were relatively snow-less, and those conditions are very hard on those plants. You can lose 25 to 30 percent of a stand, and in some cases, the damage can be more severe. Outside of completely digging up a plot and starting over, frost- seeding is the best method for regenerating the stand and getting more life out of a bad situation. If you don’t fill in the areas that have been killed, you’re going to have tremendous competition from weeds.”

Final Thoughts Both men agree that the typical window for frost-seeding in the Midwest and the East occurs from late February through early April. Obviously, this timeframe is variable according to the year, so keep a close eye on the weather forecast — short and longterm — to determine the best time for frost-seeding. One of the best ways to ensure success with frost-seeding is to take a hard, critical look at your clover plots at the end of fall. It’s easy to ignore a clover plot during the busyness of hunting season, but taking the time to walk slowly through it and identify bare or brown spots will tell you if the plot needs a boost. As noted, flagging those problem areas can help you direct seed to the specific spots that need it most. Finally, one veteran food plotter I know prefers to do his frostseeding early in the morning or late in the evening, when the ground is cool and firm. He uses a hand-crank spreader and just finds the walking easier at that time of day. As we approach another exciting food plot season, consider frost-seeding as a method that can revitalize a plot and save you time and money in the process. Oh, and a final benefit; you get to look like a crazy man, tossing seeds out on the snow! 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.


Words that have Real Meaning at the Whitetail Institute n a couple of occasions, I have been fortunate enough to able to go the Super Bowl. Not as a player mind you (just to clarify, if anyone was wondering) but as one of the tens of thousands of spectators that converge on the host city to witness one of the biggest sports spectacles in the world. Although I admit it was pretty stinking cool, there were things I missed by not seeing it on TV from the comfort of my recliner. One of the things that I missed the most was not being able to see the much-anticipated TV commercials. I am not alone in my


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By Matt Harper Photos by Charles J. Alsheimer

enjoyment of these commercials. In fact, many people have more anticipation for watching the much-acclaimed Super Bowl commercials than they do for watching the game itself. Millions of dollars are spent each year to pay marketing geniuses to produce advertisements that make us laugh or cry — whatever the emotion might be that will result in the eventual purchase of the product or service being advertised. The truth is with satellite TV, radio, the Internet and other venues, we have became a marketing society that lives to be entertained 24 hours a day, even if it means we are being given a sales pitch in the process. Although there are many marketing themes and concepts, one that has been around since the beginning of time is the idea of “new and improved.” From back then to now, we see the “new and improved” marketing concept on a daily basis. In fact, we see these words so much we are often times skeptical of their validity. But there is something buried deep inside the human psyche that causes us to be grabbed by the words “new” and/or “improved” that won’t let go until we try it for ourselves to see if it truly is new or improved. Product patrons in the hunting industry are not immune to this temptation. In fact, I would say that we see the marketing strategy

of “new and improved” more than in many other industries and for good reason. If a new model or version of — you name the gear — claims it is new and improved, we as hunters absolutely must try it. I can tell you from personal experience that I have had nearly every kind of smell put on hunting clothes and equal amounts of things that take the smell away. Just this year, I was trying something “new,” and my wife asked me if I had been out rolling around in some road kill. My reply was that if it keeps the deer from knowing I am sitting 20 feet above them, I would try it. During this past quarter century, the Whitetail Institute has made many improvements to their products, some of which you might know about, many of which you might not. Did they do this to sell more product? Well, that was one of the goals because for a company to function they must sell products and/or services. However the “new and improved” products were not created to simply lure a customer into buying more products. Nor did these new versions of products contain just some minor piece of something that is little more than a substitution, addition or deletion to a particular product. The Whitetail Institute introduces new versions of products because they will truly perform better in the field (literally). The


new versions of products are also not just introduced with some slight change just because it was a new calendar year and they needed something new on the market. The fact is that this “new” version had been in the research stage for several years leading up to the eventual market introduction. In the end, if the focus is to make sure that the product is truly new and improved, sales will naturally be better because the product is legitimate and self-proving. “Our commitment is to provide the best products we possibly can and to do so, we are always genetically developing and testing numerous varieties of clovers and other type seeds. These improvements are crucial to make sure Whitetail Institute customers get what they expect — the best, most attractive and durable product they can get anywhere. These improvements to the existing Whitetail Institute product line are ongoing,” said Steve Scott, Whitetail Institute vice president. The core of the Whitetail Institute’s research program that leads to the development of new and/or improved products is innovation. In fact, Whitetail Institute and innovation could be considered synonymous. The company was founded on innovation. So what exactly does that mean? Before Whitetail Institute was in existence, the concept of food plots was virtually unheard of. Sure, there were acres of green fields being planted deep in the middle of pine plantations, but most of this was done in the Southeast and the practice was done to simply lure deer out of the maze of planted pines and not to

necessarily provide any nutritional benefit. These fields were planted using commercially available seed varieties found in the agricultural industry and primarily were composed of wheat, rye and oats. And the fact is, these green fields worked in that deer came to the fields. But then again, there really isn't much for a deer to eat in a pine plantation, so it didn’t take much to draw deer in. But what if you wanted to plant a green field in an area that had other food supplies, either natural, agricultural or both? Furthermore, if you are going to plant something, why not plant something that provided optimal nutrition. It was these thoughts that lead the Whitetail Institute into developing the concept of food plots and the development and introduction of the first food plot product specifically designed for whitetail deer — Imperial Whitetail Clover. The development process of Imperial Whitetail Clover consisted of identifying clover varieties that had traits that aligned with the specific needs of deer such as high protein, high digestibility and high attractiveness, and then researchers cross-bred these clover varieties. After several years of research, the end result was a proprietary clover variety that contained these traits in the first variety designed specifically for deer. The attractiveness of the clover was unsur-

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passed and the nutrition it provided helped produce bigger bucks, bigger does and healthier fawns. That is true innovation. But it did not stop with Imperial Whitetail Clover. The Institute went on to develop Alfa-Rack, the first alfalfa product designed for whitetail deer; No-Plow, the first minimal tillage food plot product; Extreme, the first food plot product for low pH and low rainfall; and Cutting Edge Nutritional Supplements, the first nutritional supplement program designed for the specific seasonal nutrition needs for whitetail deer. This is by no means an entire list, as there are several more “firsts” attributed to the Whitetail Institute. But this is why I can say the word innovative and Whitetail Institute are one in the same. The Whitetail Institute is continuously researching ways to improve existing product lines through the same type of innovative thinking that lead to the products’ original development. Like the research that goes into the development of an entirely new product, the research for improvements to existing products is rigorous, thorough and with specific objectives in mind. It must also be conclusive and repeatable before it is implemented. It must be all of these things because you are changing a product that is already industry-leading. “Whitetail Institute’s agronomist, Dr. Wayne Hanna, is continually genetically de-

Vol. 23, No. 3 /


veloping new varieties which generally take four to seven years to develop from start to finish,” Scott said. For example, Imperial Whitetail Clover was originally designed to be extremely drought resistant. However, the product was used in regions all over the country, some of which struggled with low rainfall on a yearly basis. So Institute researchers began an extensive plant breeding program to discover ways to make Imperial Whitetail Clover even more drought tolerant. The process was diligent and after several years of research, a new clover variety was developed that had improved drought tolerance, and only then was it added to the Imperial Whitetail Clover formula resulting in an even better overall product. The same research was done to find a variety that was even more cold tolerant than the original. Imperial Whitetail Clover was being grown as far north as Canada and the more cold tolerant the product, the more beneficial it would be to customers in northern climates. The result of the research was the development of a variety that would green up quicker and stay green longer into the winter than all other clovers tested. In fact, it was so cold tolerant that in much of the United States, it was green year-round, even under snow. “We may develop a new variety of seed that helps us develop an all-new product or we may incorporate the new variety into an existing Whitetail Institute product to give our customers two to five percent more drought tolerance or cold hardiness or browse tolerance,” Scott explained. Do not be fooled by these numbers. A two to five percent increase in any one of these traits can show dramatic results. I can attest to this on my farm in Iowa. I planted some of the new Imperial Whitetail Clover product and was amazed to see it stand up through two very dry summers, and it was always the first legume on the farm to turn green in the spring and stayed green the longest into the winter. In fact, some stayed green under the snow and deer continued to dig through the snow to get to it up until the ground froze solid. The research-based improvements are continual and many as Steve Scott relays. “Too many improvements have been made to existing Whitetail Institute products over the years to list them all, but a few are the genetically developed clovers we use in our products. New varieties of seed were intro-


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Research has helped to produce one of the most cold tolerant clover products available. duced into No-Plow just this past year. The X-9 alfalfas incorporated into Alfa Rack Plus a few years ago were a significant improvement to an already superior product. Tall Tine Tubers was years in development and is the most attractive turnip variety the Whitetail Institute has ever tested. The list goes on and on,” he said. The list of improvements does not stop with food plot products either. The mineral and nutritional supplements offered by the Whitetail Institute are continually researched and changes made when new and better ingredients are identified that can be utilized in the products. The Whitetail Institute has been the hands-down leader in the food plot business since they created the industry over a quarter-century ago. But that did not happen only

because they were the first, but rather because they have never stopped striving to improve once they started. It is relatively easy to get into the food plot business by just throwing some commonly known seeds in a bag and putting a deer head on the bag. However, to continually be the industry leader, a company must develop innovative products and continue to improve them. It boils down to research-driven results which are at the heart of the Whitetail Institute. In fact, today and every day, there are multiple research projects that have either just begun or are years into the process. Because of this you can be rest assured that Whitetail Institute products are proven before they ever hit the market place, and if they say the product is "new and improved" you can bet that it truly is. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

Mean and Green: Food Plots for Spring Gobblers By Sam Parrish

Unless you happened to know about the aforementioned green food plot. A friend had planted it the previous summer to hold deer and turkeys on the small property. It had worked wonderfully for whitetails that autumn, and its appeal would likely increase exponentially for gobblers during the late, cold spring. With mast and waste grain covered in snow and little other green growth in central Wisconsin, the field promised to be a turkey magnet. Of course, that scenario shouldn’t surprise land managers. Many wildlife farmers are beginning to realize how food plots can boost turkeys and turkey hunting. And actually, it doesn’t involve much more than creating the same plots you plant for fall whitetails.

Photo by Tes Jolly

A Biologist’s Perspective

ven in the dark, the green field glowed like a beacon in a sea of white. No doubt, the turkeys also knew it was there. Last year’s Wisconsin spring gobbler season had been open for a week, but winter weather refused to relinquish its hold on the landscape. Most days brought snow, adding to the burdensome total that had piled up the previous four months. Nighttime temperatures had been in the 20s, and ice from several bouts of freezing rain coated the trees. Basically, it was like trying to hunt spring turkeys in January.

According to Jeremy Flinn, wildlife biologist and chief executive officer at The Buck Advisors, a land and wildlife management group, a well-designed food plot strategy is a critical component of thriving turkey populations and quality spring gobbler hunting. “Just like with deer, food plots can congregate turkeys in an area,” he said. “Turkeys love to hit insects, and it is much easier to navigate and locate these in a food plot than it is in the woods. You also have to consider the timing of food sources. Like deer, turkeys spend much of the fall in the woods feeding on hard mast, such as acorns. As you get into spring, you can find them on food plots hitting bug populations and young palatable clovers.” One of Flinn’s favorite planting for turkeys? It’s a proven deer favorite — one that is very familiar to Whitetail Institute customers. Imperial Whitetail Clover. “It is very digestible, but even more important to turkeys, especially poults, as it usually has a high insect population, which provides a quality protein source. It also typically doesn't grow to heights that inhibit movement for the young birds.” Imperial Whitetail Clover greens up early in spring and serves as a tremendous food source to birds during the lean days of late winter and early spring. Hens will concentrate near these areas before other food sources become available, and gobblers won’t be far behind. More important, as Flinn mentioned, are the year-round health benefits that quality plots provide. Poults feed heavily on insects during summer and early fall to ingest much-needed protein. Lush food plots provide a bug bonanza.


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“Quality turkey hunting starts with nest and poult success,” Flinn said. “I personally think right after hatching is the most important time. Creating a quality food source close to escape cover in order to protect those poults is critical. It is also important that they are started off on the right foot by having access to high-quality protein like clovers and insects.” Of course, most landowners focus on whitetails first and turkeys second. However, managers don’t have to devise separate strategies for deer and spring gobblers. A solid strategy can boost both, as well as other game and non-game species. “Strategically a food plot program will contain annuals and perennials,” Flinn said. “That way, there is no time of the year that some food isn't available. A rotation of warm- and cool-season annuals in around 60 percent of your plots and 40 percent in perennials — like clover, chicory or alfalfa — will benefit turkeys and deer alike. If you are surrounded by heavy agriculture, you may lean toward a little more perennials, as they will be heavily relied on when the crops are picked.”

Green-Field Gobbling I slipped under a burr oak next to the food plot, and gobbling soon erupted about 200 yards to the east. Dawn was coming, so I had to move quickly. Sticking to the timber that bordered the field, I slipped around the western edge and tried to cut the distance to the birds. My feet broke through

the icy crust atop the snow with every step, sending loud crackling through the still morning air. I was unsure I could set up near the gobblers undetected, but I had no choice. Finally, after plowing through 100 yards of white stuff, I ducked underneath a field-side red pine and settled in. The gobblers — three, maybe four — continued to hammer, so I figured I was in good shape. When my first tree-yelps brought a raucous response, I felt even better. The gobblers flew down in the woods and stayed put for a few minutes. My calling elicited gobbles but no movement. Still, I was confident the birds would eventually wander toward the field in search of hens. After a few moments, one turkey seemed to break off from the group and drift closer. Soon, his buddies followed, and the birds seemed to make steady progress toward me. I resisted the urge to call for a few moments but then couldn’t help myself. When I yelped softly on a diaphragm, the lead bird hammered back from about 60 steps away. Soon, I caught a glimpse of a black body slipping through the white woods. The gobbler drifted left, and I followed him with my gun barrel. When the longbeard reached the field edge and looked for the hen, I cut hard, watched him periscope his neck and then I ended the hunt. I hoisted the gobbler over my shoulder and, tired of trudging through the snow, walked through the food plot on my way to the truck. It just felt right to smile in appreciation of what the little green field had done for me. W

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Vol. 23, No. 3 /


ATVs and ATV Implements for Food Plot Work Lessons from Experience, Including the School of Hard Knocks By Jon Cooner Photos by Whitetail Institute

hink you need a tractor to do a proper job planting and maintaining food plots? Not necessarily. In fact, you can usually do an excellent job with an ATV — provided you know what features and implements to look for and are willing to allow yourself extra time to accomplish the job. In this article, we’ll cover the ATV and ATV-implement basics. 18 WHITETAIL NEWS

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Defining Our Topic First, let me make a couple of things clear concerning what this article isn’t about: First, isn’t about bashing tractors. A tractor can be a big time saver, especially if you have a lot of acreage to plant and maintain, and I’ve certainly rented my share of them or hired someone with a tractor when I needed to. Even so, I don’t own a tractor and, while this may seem remarkable for someone who works with the Whitetail Institute, I never have. The reason has little to do with tractors and everything to do with the versatility of ATVs and ATV equipment, and their effectiveness when used in an educated way. Second, I’m not going to tell you that you have to own an ATV to do food plot work if you don’t own a tractor. You can do a great job on smaller food plot projects with just hand tools if you leave yourself enough time to get the job done. www.whitetailinstitute.com

Instead, this article is about passing along information that I believe will be useful if you’re considering buying an ATV and ATV implements for food plot work, or if you already own them and just want to use them as efficiently and effectively as possible.

First-Hand Experience The information I’ll provide below includes information I acquired through the advice of others. I proved the accuracy of some of that information by following the advice; and the rest by being hard-headed, not following it, and figuring out later that I should have. In all respects, though, the information below is a product of my own firsthand experience. To keep this in logical order, I’ll go through the information as I’d recommend you use the equipment for efficiently performing food plot tasks with ATV equipment, starting from the point of working up a seedbed on fallow ground. Links to manufacturers I’ll mention are provided at the end of this article.

ATVs — Suggested Minimums and Important Features Before we discuss ATV implements, it makes sense to cover a few things about the ATV you’ll expect to pull them. Practical effective strength of the machine is the most important thing we’ll cover in this article.

Key Understanding: The “Practical Effective Strength” of an ATV This is something that will vary based on two things: the strength (weight and power) of your ATV, and how much time you allow yourself to perform food plot tasks with it so that you don’t overtax the machine. While this isn’t a big consideration with tractors, which generally have more than enough power to do any food plot job, it’s very important when you’ll be doing food plot work with ATVs, though, because they’re comparatively light. You have to understand effectively how to use the limited strength (power and weight) the ATV offers — and do so without overtaxing it if you expect it to last a long time. “Strength” (Power and Weight). If you’re shopping for an ATV for food plot work, the minimum I’d suggest is a 4x4 ATV that has an engine of at least a 400cc. Also, make sure it’s water cooled so that it doesn’t overheat when running under load at slow speeds such as when you’re disking. If you already have an ATV and it’s a less robust model, that doesn’t mean that you have to trade it in for something else. Less powerful ATVs can often do quite well for food plot work. Just be sure that the equipment you ask it to pull is not as heavy and that you don’t overtax it for the reasons I mentioned. Don’t Overtax the Machine. Like any other piece of equipment, running an ATV at maximum capacity will prematurely age it and increase the risk of breakage, especially if you run it under heavy loads for extended periods, such as when disking seedbeds. I still use the same 400cc 4x4 ATV that’s over a decade old for all my food plot work, and it still does everything I need it to because I’ve never abused it. If your ATV isn’t as strong as the minimum I mentioned above, then leave more time so you can stay within its normal operFor the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

Vol. 23, No. 3 /


Kunz Engineering, Inc.

ating parameters. Now let’s take a look at ATV implements for food plot work.

Mowers Mowing as Part of Seedbed Preparation. I mentioned that I’d go through ATV implements in order of food plot tasks beginning with seedbed preparation. The reason that I’m starting with ATV Mowers is that they can help with your first step — clearing the fallow site, especially if the site is covered with thick, mature grass. This isn’t as big an issue when clearing grassy sites with a tractor, since the power of the tractor and weight of its disk or plow will allow it to cut through sod without much difficulty. That’s one of the things I mentioned I learned the hard way — by trying it “my way” instead of following solid advice. It’s been years ago, but my recollection is that even after disking a sod-covered site for a couple of hours with my ATV and a light flip disk, I had only cut down into the sod about an inch. I’d have had much better results, and for much less wasted effort, if I’d followed a piece of advice the Whitetail Institute’s agricultural expert, Mark Trudeau, gave me concerning clearing fallow sites with an ATV: “Glyphosate is your best friend!” What Mark was referring to, glyphosate, is a well-known non-selective herbicide that’s the active ingredient in many Roundup-brand herbicides and generics. Putting Mark’s advice into practical steps, you’d mow the grassy site, wait a week or so until the grass starts to actively grow again, then spray it with glyphosate, and then wait at least 10-14 days before starting ground tillage. Why mow mature grass and then wait a week or so before spraying with glyphosate? While doing so isn’t mandatory, it can help a foliar-uptake herbicide do its job even better. “Foliar uptake” herbicides are taken in through the plant’s leaves. In order for that to happen, the plant must be actively growing. Mowing grass will shock it for a short while, inhibiting its ability to take in a foliar-uptake herbicide, so you need to wait about seven days after mowing, or until you see active growth starting again, before you


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spray. Once the grass starts actively growing again it will do so vigorously, and that can help grass take in foliar-uptake herbicides even better. Why wait 10-14 days after spraying glyphosate before starting ground tillage? Technically, you need wait only seven days after spraying glyphosate before starting ground tillage. Even so, you’d be well advised to wait a little longer if you’ll be working the soil with an ATV and plan to do so effectively. After seven days, the glyphosate will have pretty much killed the grass you sprayed, but the dead or almost-dead grass roots will still have a firm grasp on the soil. By waiting until 10-14 days after spraying, you’ll be giving the grass roots more time to loosen their grip on the soil, allowing ATV tillage equipment to work the soil much more easily and effectively. Mowing as part of Perennial Forage Maintenance. While we’re on the subject of mowers, we might as well cover maintenance mowing of perennial food plots too. Periodic mowing during the spring and summer is one of the standard steps in the forage-maintenance instructions for Whitetail Institute perennials. This can help with weed control and help keep the forage even more lush, attractive and nutritious. (Note: Be sure you just take a little off the top of the forage plants when you mow so that you don’t take off too much foliage. Also, don’t mow when conditions are excessively hot or droughty.) Mower Recommendations. Some manufacturers offer two types of pull-behind mowers: “lawn” mowers, and heavier models they refer to as “trail” mowers. Make sure you get a “trail” mower for food plot use. One reason “lawn” type mowers, even the riding models, aren’t the best option for food plot use is sturdiness. Mowing food plots and clearing trails is a lot tougher work than mowing lawns, and the “trail” mowers are designed and built a lot beefier to deal with it. Another reason is maximum deck height. Imperial perennial stands should be mowed a few times each spring as part of normal maintenance, and they should not be mowed lower than about 4-6 inches, which is higher than most riding lawnmower decks can be raised. Those are the biggest criteria to consider when comparing trail mowers. If you want to cut to the chase with a recommendation on what trail mower to buy, though, I can give you that too. Kunz Engineering AcreEase Rough Cut Mowers. Without question, the best mower I have ever seen for food plot and trail work is the Kunz Engineering Rough Cut Mower. It is, for lack of a better descriptor, a stud. They are truly heavy-duty brush cutters with the highest horsepower and the heaviest built decks on the market, and they’ll also do a great manicure job on food plots. Several years ago, a fellow from Kunz brought one of their mowers to the Whitetail Institute to show us what it could do. As you can imagine, that happens a good bit — equipment manufacturers stop by to show us what their machines can do pretty often, so I wasn’t expecting any real surprise. But that’s exactly what I got. I watched as the mower laid waste to tall, thick sedge grass with no any apparent effort. As the operator approached a dense patch of inchthick sweet gum saplings, though, I figured the mower would at least have to fight a little harder. It didn’t. The Kunz mower shredded them as if they hadn’t even been there. Kunz mowers are offered in a wide variety of sizes and different configurations of electric and manual features. They even offer optional kits for specific applications such as mowing in wetlands. They also offer an optional float kit that allows mowing all the way to the edge of ponds. www.whitetailinstitute.com

As I mentioned above, spraying native vegetation and allowing it to die before you try to till the soil is strongly recommended when you’ll be using ATV ground-tillage equipment. And that’s only one of many benefits a good spray rig offers. In fact, I can think of no other implement that’s as useful in as many food plotting and related tasks as a sprayer. Standard Features. ATV sprayers are fairly straightforward things. The main components are a tank to hold spray solution, a spray boom for disbursing the solution, and an electric pump to move solution from the tank to the boom. Pull-Behind or ATV Mounted? My vote is ATV-mounted. One reason is that some pull-behind models with narrow wheel bases tend to tip when pulled over rough ground. Another is that a tow-behind effectively doubles the length of the vehicle, making it harder to maneuver. Tank Capacity. Get a sprayer with a tank capacity of 15-25 gallons. That will hold a one-acre spray solution of many herbicides, including Whitetail Institute Arrest and Slay. You can also find sprayers with larger tanks, but that’s not always a good thing. Remember, one of the biggest benefits of using an ATV for food plot work is that you can get it into tight places where tractors can’t go, so make sure that you don’t get a sprayer with a tank so large that it inhibits the use of the ATV in tight places.

“Boom Sprayers” and “Boomless” Sprayers “Boom” Sprayers. In the past, most ATV sprayers were “boom” sprayers, and they’re still fairly common. A boom-type sprayer is one in which the spray nozzles are mounted on a boom that extends several feet or more to both sides of the ATV. Boom-Sprayer Option: Folding Boom with Shut-offs (Recommended). If you’ve ever used an ATV disk in the late summer to clear paths to your stands, then you’ve probably lamented doing that when you found your paths slippery and sticky during the season. Several



years ago, the Whitetail Institute’s agricultural expert Mark Trudeau showed me how effective a folding-boom sprayer with shut-offs is for keeping trails clear in a way that doesn’t turn them to soup during hunting season. Just turn off all the spray nozzles except the one directly behind the ATV, fold the boom up out of the way, and spray as you ride along the trail. As you’ll read below, this can also be done with a boomless sprayer. “Boomless” Sprayers. These are the next evolution in ATV sprayer design after boom sprayers, and they’re now also commonly available. Instead of a boom, these have two nozzles affixed to a small plate that attaches to the back of the ATV. Generally, these are a better option because they’re much more compact than boom sprayers; they don’t present the risk of running into trees and bending the boom. The best part, though, is that the nozzles themselves are directionally adjustable and can be independently turned on or off. With both nozzles opened and turned outward, spray solution is applied to both sides of the ATV and directly behind it. Turning off one nozzle allows you to spray only to one side, and by turning the active nozzle straight down, you can apply spray solution only behind the ATV to keep trails clear without having to till them. Hand Wand (Optional — Recommended). Another useful feature available for boom sprayers and boomless sprayers is a hand wand, which allows you to spray individual plants as you ride along.

Lime Spreaders Why is the Lime Spreader section next? We’re still not ready to cover ground-tillage equipment because I’m going to pass along another tip to help you be as efficient as possible when preparing seedbeds. The forage-related issue most frequently addressed in Whitetail News is soil pH. In a nutshell, most fallow soils in the U.S. are “acidic”, meaning that soil pH is below the “neutral” range (6.5-7.5), which is optimum for the growth of high quality forages. Ideally, acidic soils should be limed to bring soil pH into optimum range before planting. Practical Efficiency Tip. Lime works in particle-to-particle contact with the soil, meaning that a piece of lime has to physically touch a piece of dirt to neutralize that dirt particle’s soil pH. That’s why you should disk or till lime thoroughly into the top few inches of the seedbed for it to work optimally. Since you’ll be disking or tilling the seedbed anyway as part of seedbed preparation, go ahead and add any lime you need first.


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ATV lime spreaders make a backbreaking job much easier. As I mentioned, lime works in particle-to-particle contact with the soil. When you consider how many dirt particles are in the top few inches of an acre, you can understand why it usually takes tons of lime per acre to effectively raise soil pH. That being the case, it makes sense to find a way to apply it with as little effort as possible. One way to get lime to your plot site is to buy it in bags, and haul them to the site. Obviously, this is the least attractive option in terms of effort. In some cases, it may also be the most expensive option. Another way is to pay a farm-supply store to put it out with a lime truck. This is an excellent option in many cases, unless you don’t need a dump truck-sized load of lime or the truck can’t get to the plot. A third common option is to rent a lime buggy from a farm-supply store, and pull it yourself with a pickup truck. This too may not be an option if access to the site is limited. Also, a long truck and trailer may not allow you to reach remote plots. That’s when an ATV-sized lime spreader can save you from the backbreaking job of putting out lime in bags, and do so in a way that allows you to reach remote areas and tight spaces better. Groundbuster Lime Spreader. There is only one ATV lime spreader the Whitetail Institute uses regularly because it’s the only one we’ve seen that reliably does a good job of getting lime to remote food plots and putting it out: The Groundbuster ATV-sized Lime Spreader. It’s built out of heavy gauge steel, and the running gear and tires are also heavy duty. Best of all, it’s designed to disburse lime evenly, even over rough ground. Groundbuster makes its lime spreader in two sizes: a larger unit that holds up to one ton, which is generally best for tractors, and a smaller unit that holds up to ½-ton and is a perfect size for use with an ATV. And for the few folks those two sizes won’t accommodate, Groundbuster will even build one for you to your specifications.

Tillage Equipment Plows, Disks and Cultivators Now that we’ve covered clearing and adding lime to fallow sites with an ATV, it’s time to get into ATV tillage equipment. When it comes to ATV tillage equipment for seedbed preparation, disks and cultivators generally offer the most bang for the buck. Implement Design: There are two basic types of ATV disks, which I’ll define as “Lighter” and “Heavier”. Lighter ATV disks and cultivators are built with all the parts combined into a single tool that is not adjustable. An example is the fliptype disk I mentioned earlier. These consist of a flat steel plate with fixed disk gangs welded to one side, wheels on the other, and a towing arm with a swiveling coupler on the front. The unit is towed to the site with the wheels down, and when it gets there the entire implement is turned over so that the disk blades are down. Heavier units are built around a main frame to which the wheels and disk gangs are attached in a way that allows each such component to be separately adjusted. For example, heavier ATV disks often have pin adjustments for the angle of the disk blades and many also have electric motors to raise and lower the disk gangs within the implement’s frame. Select a disk based on your ATV’s “practical effective strength.” Generally speaking, heavier ATV disks are better suited to larger ATVs with greater “effective strength” as defined above. If you get one that’s too heavy for your ATV, then you’ll overtax the ATV. For ATVs

A great Food Plot starts with proper seed bed preparation. Land Pride offers a wide range of products that will give you the upper hand in the fall. From cutting to tilling, Land Pride has you covered. With our DH25 and DH35 Series Disc Harrows you get excellent soil penetration to cut and bury existing vegetation, creating an ideal food plot seed bed. To ensure success, Land Pride also offers planting and mowing solutions, too. See our full line of American-made implements at landpride.com. Then find a local dealer and get more work done.

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A Division of Great Plains Mfg., Inc. Salina, Kansas www.landpride.com

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Vol. 23, No. 3 /


with low “practical effective strength,” consider buying a lighter ATV disk and, as I explained above, starting seedbed preparation earlier so that you can mow and spray first if necessary.

Final Seed Preparation Before Seeding Small Seeds Next, we’ll cover two types of implements commonly used to cover large seeds (drags) and to smooth and firm the seedbed for small seeds (drags and cultipackers). Which you use, and how you use it depends entirely on the optimum planting depth for small seeds versus large seeds. And the difference is critical. If you’d like more in-depth articles about seed depth, drags and cultipackers, and in what situations each is the optimum implement to use, you can find that information in the following articles on the Whitetail Institute’s website. Turning Dirt Part 4: Finishing the Seedbed: http://whitetailinstitute.blogspot.com/2012/05/turing-dirt-part-four-finishing-and.html Turning Dirt Part 6: Cultipackers: http://whitetailinstitute. blogspot.com/2012/05/turning-dirt-part-six-cultipackers.html

Drag Implements Drag implements can be used to smooth the seedbed prior to planting small seeds, and to lightly cover large seeds optimally under a thin layer of loose soil. You can make your own drag implement with a piece of chain-link fence with a pallet and blocks stacked on it for weight. Alternatively, commercially available drag harrows are commonly available from farm supply stores and box stores. Spring Harrow. If you plan on getting either a drag implement or a cultipacker, then go with the drag implement — specifically, a commercially available spring harrow. It’s very versatile. These look like a mat of heavy gauge chain-link fence with keyhole-shaped teeth attached to one side in a way that allows them to move into a fixed position as they’re pulled across the seedbed. When the implement is being pulled with the teeth-side up, it’s just “dragging.” When it’s turned so that the teeth are down in the soil, it’s “harrowing.” You can use it to drag the seedbed smooth before putting out small seeds, and to harrow large seeds into the soil just below the surface. Never harrow small seeds, and never drag after putting out small seeds or you may bury them to deep for them to survive.

can help keep seeds from washing off sloped sites. Kunz Engineering offers an excellent ATV cultipacker. In fact, I tried one out in a test against a shortened agricultural cultipacker I used with my ATV and found the Kunz implement superior. The main reason is that the ridges it leaves in the soil are shallower, reducing the chance that small seeds will be covered too deep on a subsequent pass or by hard rain. And, of course, it’s not nearly as heavy and cumbersome to load and haul around.

Seeders/Fertilizer Spreaders The Whitetail Institute recommends using a shoulder-type spreader for fertilizing plots that are too small to need an ATV, and for putting out seed. Our spreaders of choice at the Whitetail Institute are made by Earthway. Unlike grass-type bag spreaders with a cheap canvas pouch, the Earthway shoulder spreader is truly heavy duty. The body, gears and crank assembly are strong, the bag is made of thick nylon instead of canvas, and the zipper is reinforced. It even comes with a label to tell you how wide to set the gap based on the seeds you’ll be planting. And here’s another tip: Nitrogen fertilizer is corrosive, so if you use a spreader (Earthway or any other) to put out fertilizer that contains Nitrogen, be sure you wash it out thoroughly after use. Hopefully this article has provided you with useful information, not only to help you buy ATV implements in an educated way but also to help you use equipment you already own more effectively. If you need additional information about ATV implements, call the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants at (800) 688-3030, ext. 2. W

Cultipackers A cultipacker is basically just a roller on bearings mounted to a frame, with a standard trailer coupling for hooking it to a trailer ball on an ATV. Cultipackers aren’t generally used when planting large seeds, since large seeds should be left under a light layer of loose (not cultipacked) soil. Cultipackers are used when planting small seeds, to firm and smooth the seedbed before seeding, and after to press the small seeds into the firmed surface. If you use a cultipacker when planting small seeds, roll the disked or tilled seedbed until your boot tracks sink down about ½ to one inch. Then, put the small seeds out. Then roll once more to press the seeds into the surface. Again, if you use a cultipacker when planting small seeds, be sure to roll both before and after putting the seed out so that the seed stays on or very near the surface of the soil. One benefit of most high-quality ATV cultipackers is that they have a “corrugated”, or wavy, packing surface, which leaves ridges in the soil. These ridges can help the soil retain moisture better, and they


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Whitetail Institute offers a shoulder spreader that is ideal for seeding small food plots. www.whitetailinstitute.com

REAL HUNTERS DO THE TALKING about Whitetail Institute products…


e have a lease in Georgia on the Florida/Georgia border. We have always had food plots and plenty of deer activity around those plots, but nothing like the kind of activity and holding power since using Imperial Whitetail Clover and Winter-Greens. I planted them on half of our plots on one side of our lease to compare against our traditional plantings. No doubt the deer favored Whitetail Institute products. They have survived drought and

heavy tropical rains and kept on growing. Over the last two seasons we have harvested several trophy deer all on or near Whitetail Institute products. The deer are larger and healthier than ever with average weights increasing. Plus the antler size we are seeing has definitely increased. Attached please find pictures of some of the bucks we have harvested. My father with two true trophies and my wife with her biggest buck to date. Whitetail Institute products will be planted over our entire lease this year.


took this buck on the edge of an Imperial Whitetail Clover plot. When I killed him there was an 8pointer with him that was probably even bigger.

Terry Betteridge – Connecticut

Josh Brown – Georgia


planted my Chicory Plus food plot in the spring and watched does feed on it more often. Second year the does were bigger bodied. The bucks increased in antler and body size as well as in number. Last fall, I used the Acorn Obsession to interest a large buck I had watched all summer feeding on Chicory Plus plot. The results are seen in the photo. Great product and results. This year I am prepping a new food plot to plant with Pure Attraction, and I can’t wait to see rusults!

Jess Trampush – Washington


nclosed is a picture of one of my many food plots planted into Whitetail Institute products. This particular plot was planted into Alfa-Rack and the deer just hammered it! I had many daylight as well as night time pictures off of this spot. The number of mature big bucks that were visiting it on a daily basis was unbelievable. Whitetail Institute products are the best. One thing that stood out to me was that once our bow season opened the deer, bucks included continued to use the “Field of Dreams” food plot daily! It didn’t stop once fall arrived like you often see in certain crop fields. I am a firm believer in food plots now. Before I was skeptical living in good farm country. Why would I need to grow a food plot? The whole country is a huge food source?? Well my questions were answered on my first attempt. I now maintain seven different food plots on my farm for the deer. I enjoy working the land and knowing that I am helping the wildlife. Whitetail Institute’s great products and support enable me to “live the dream.” Keep up the great work Whitetail Institute.

Scott Smolen – Wisconsin


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started using Whitetail Institute products about five years ago and have been very pleased with the results. I have, without a doubt, been seeing bigger bucks on my trail cameras, and in the field. In fact the only three P&Y bucks that I have ever taken have been since I started planting Whitetail Institute seed. Including this 155-inch deer which walked under one of my stands after appearing in a nearby PowerPlant plot. This year I planted Imperial Whitetail Clover that I mixed with Chic Magnet (4 acres) and PowerPlant (3 acres). Both products did surprisingly well considering the drought conditions that we experienced this year. In fact, I have spent lots of time and money in the past using other seeds and was disappointed. That hasn’t happened using Imperial Whitetail Clover and PowerPlant.

Chad Hardt – North Dakota


our years ago, we did a major makeover on our 90-acre farm by making bedding areas and planting food plots. My favorites are the AlfaRack Plus and the Chicory Plus. The deer on our farm have increased body weight and antler size along with healthy looking does in the fawning season. The Chicory Plus was by far a favorite among the deer. In the latter part of summer and early fall they literally pigged out on the stuff! Included is a trail cam pick of a buck in my Chicory Plus plot. They love the stuff! Keep up the good work Whitetail Institute!

Jared Kauffman – Illinois

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y wife and I recently purchased some land in central Indiana, which backs up to around 300 acres of woods. We put in around a 3 acre pond and a 2 acre plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover, Tall Tine Tubers and various other grasses for habitat. On Thanksgiving morning, it paid off when I took a gorgeous 215-pund, 15-point typical bruiser. It is the largest buck of my career and a day that I will not soon forget. I very much look forward to watching the deer around us grow healthier and seeing them every day. It is truly a Zen for my wife and me. Me more so for the hunt but both of us for the incredible nature preserve we’ve created. Thank you Whitetail Institute for making it possible.

Tom Belledin – Indiana

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NEVER A 1 DULL MOMENT Nine things to do when you think you’re caught up with your habitat work

REACTIVATE YOUR MINERAL LICKS. Deer have specific mineral and vitamin needs that are rarely met completely in the wild. Sure there are natural licks in some areas and they get other elements from the soil and plants. But to meet a whitetail’s mineral and vitamin needs fully you need several licks on your property. And you need them to be made with deer-specific ingredients like those in the Whitetail Institute’s 30-06 mineral/vitamin supplement and just the right amount of salt. Yes, a small amount of salt is important. “During spring and early summer, deer operate at a sodium deficiency due to the high potassium and water content of the forage,” Brian Murphy, executive director of the Quality Deer Management Association, said. “This interferes with efficient sodium conversion in the body and increases the need for sodium intake. Almost all soils more than 25 to 50 miles from a seacoast are low in sodium.” This is why you may have noticed mineral licks or salt licks are used the heaviest in the spring and summer. Although small amounts of salt are important, other minerals and vitamins are what’s vital for growing big racks. Bucks can actually store phosphorous and calcium obtained from a lick in their skeletons and then draw it back out, transferring it into antler growth during summer. A good rule of thumb is a lick for every 40 to 50 acres. They should be in locations deer use regularly, with some cover around for security and not in an area that sees a lot of human activity. Dig up the ground 3 to 6 inches deep in a 2- to 3-foot oval area, pour in 5 to 20 pounds

By Gerald Almy Photo by the Whitetail Institute

he fields are tilled. The seedbeds are smoothed. Tiny green seedlings are starting to pop up. Now it’s time to just sit back and wait for the food plots to grow and hunting seasons to arrive. Not really. You might think you’ve done all you need to. But chances are there are lots of little tasks, chores and projects you can do to improve your food plots even further and enhance the deer habitat. Fortunately, most of these tasks can be taken care of now before hunting seasons arrive. For the land manager focusing on deer and other wildlife, there should never be a dull moment throughout the year. Here are nine projects you can do during the next few months before fall plots are ready to be planted and tree stands need to be hung. Some are quick, easy chores that are great for when you have a spare half hour on your hands. Those can be good projects to have a youngster help out with. Others are a bit more time-consuming and need a full Saturday off or longer to complete. Juggle them to fit your schedule and you’ll see that the wildlife manager should never lack for something productive to do.


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and mix it up with the dirt. Not every lick will get used regularly. That’s why you need to try a number of locations. The deer will tell you which spots they like best. If you already have licks, now is the time to reactivate them with additional minerals. I also like to break them up again with a pick axe or shovel and work the minerals several inches into the soil. Sprinkle some more on top. These are great spots to place a trail camera, but avoid too much human traffic near the site. SPRAY EXISTING PERENNIAL PLOTS TO REDUCE GRASS AND WEED COMPETITION. No matter how well you think you’ve killed the weeds in a spot before you start a food plot, there are still some left. And others will invade over the years, along with grasses. I know this battle well, because most of the open land on the property I bought here in Virginia 22 years ago was fescue pasture mixed with other grasses and weeds. Fescue is one of the hardest plants to remove. But through persistence, I’ve eliminated most of it on the land, and in some areas with food plots, it’s eradicated. But there are lots of other grasses and weeds that keep cropping up and gradually competing with my Imperial Whitetail Clover and Chicory Plus plots. That’s why I spray with Arrest virtually every spring. “The earlier you can spray the grasses the better after they come up and are growing good. Ideally you should spray grasses such as fescue before they reach six inches tall,” said Steve Scott, vice president of the Whitetail Institute of North America. But don’t be impatient after you spray. It takes a week before you’ll see much effect, and 10-14 days or more for serious damage to the grasses to occur. The first thing that will happen is they will stop growing. That’s a big plus in itself, allowing the Imperial Clover to get the upper hand competing against it. Soon enough most of the grasses and weeds should die back, though don’t expect a 100 percent kill. If for some reason you can’t spray or choose not to, mow the tops of weeds and grasses above the clover or chicory. This will help keep them from going to seed and reduce their strength in competing against the plants you’re trying to grow. DO A SOIL TEST. Nothing is more important for a successful food plot that the right pH and right balance of fertilizers that the forage you are growing requires. The only way to be certain you can get this right is with a soil test. The Whitetail Institute offers inexpensive, professional soil tests hits or most local farm coops can do them for you. Without the right levels of fertilizer and at least an adequate pH level, even the best seeds from the Whitetail Institute won’t grow plants as healthy and nutritious as they otherwise could be. The roots won’t grow as deep and strong and the forage won’t be as thick. Take lots of smaller samples from around the plot before mixing them well to obtain the sample you send in. And be sure to specify what type of plant you intend to grow on the plot such as clover, alfalfa or other options. PROVIDE A SECURITY BUFFER. One of the most common mistakes beginning food plotters make is to not consider where their food plots are in relation to deer bedding areas. If there isn’t any cover bordering the plot, chances are does and yearling bucks are the only animals that will use it during shooting hours. Try to plan your plot locations so they’re accessible via a transition corridor from bedding areas with some low shrubs, saplings and other




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cover. A good route would be paralleling a brushy stream, maybe following an overgrown ditch or down a hollow. The idea is to have a route the deer can approach the plot from while feeling secure. It’s also important to have some cover around the edges of the plot so older bucks will feel comfortable as they approach it and enter it during daylight. The best way to accomplish this is to plant a few rows of bushes along the edges. Good choices include Chickasaw plum, American honeysuckle, lespedeza, raspberry, blackberry, indigo bush, Allegheny chinquapin and red osier dogwood, as well as a few white pines. You can also hinge-cut a few trees along the edge or cut cedars and other trash trees nearby and drag them over to provide additional security cover as deer approach the edge of the plots. This work is best done well before hunting seasons. Deer will soon forget the commotion and welcome the new more natural feel and extra cover around the plot. Keeping the plots themselves immaculate, neat and attractive is fine. You just need things a little rough and brushy along the edges for the best results. Tony Fulton of Mississippi will vouch for that. He killed one of the biggest free-range bucks ever — a deer that scored 295-6/8 net, when it burst out into a food plot chasing a doe. It came right out of a thicket bordering the plot consisting of young pines that he had planted and purposefully allowed to become overrun with thick brush and weeds. “The area next to the plot had grown up like a jungle,” Tony said. Just the kind of security cover a near 300-inch buck requires. CREATE A WATER HOLE. No matter how good your food plots are, if you don’t have a source of water, deer are going to leave your property to find one. That’s fine if all of your neighboring landowners have similar attitudes about deer management and are willing to let that promising 2-1/2 year-old buck walk. But a safer bet is to provide that deer and others on the property with water on your own land. It’s not hard and doesn’t have to be expensive. If you have a stream running through that runs occasionally, you might be able to just use rocks and logs and make a little dam that allows it to hold a small pool during dry spells. Another option is to dig out a hole in a low area and place in a stock tank or children’s pool to collect water or simply dig down to clay and pack that firmly. The best bet of all is to hire an experienced pond builder with a dozer and have him put in one or more small ponds on the property. If you have a low drainage area you don’t even need a stream feeding it. You can get a small pond built for less than $1,000 in many cases. Spend a little more for a bigger one and you can also wind up with a nice fishing hole. PLANT A VEGETATION SCREEN. Yes, I know. There’s a lot of pride in creating a good food plot. You might want to show it off to neighboring landowners who might drive past. But for many reasons having a plot visible from the road is a bad decision. If you’re forced to because that’s where the best location is, consider planting a screen to hide the plot from public view. (If you want to show it off, invite neighbors over specifically to have a look.) Unfortunately, poaching is a problem throughout the whitetail’s range. Even if it’s not common in your area, if a mature buck was feeding in your plot and the wrong person drove by and saw it, that buck might be history. And even if poaching is not likely, simply the extra traffic of people slowing down and gawking at the deer in your plot will make the animals nervous and make it less likely older bucks will use it during daylight. Avoid tempting those with itchy trigger fingers and creating traffic

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jams by putting up a screen of vegetation blocking the view from roads. I’ve used white pines, which can be purchased inexpensively from most forestry departments. If you’re in a hurry to create the screen, buy larger ones from nurseries five to six feet tall. Another option is a strip of warm-season grasses such as switchgrass, bluestem and Indian grass. These will grow six feet and taller, blocking out the view from the road. These will also make deer feel more secure using your plots. OVER-SEED BARE SPOTS. Sometimes the seed doesn’t go on as evenly as we planned or some washes away in a rain. Other times, maybe the soil isn’t as good in a certain spot or it gets more drying sunlight. Whatever the reason, you probably have a few areas in your plots that aren’t as lush and thick as you’d like. Now is the time to fix that. Either hand toss or use a crank spreader to over-seed bare or thin spots. You can rake them in lightly or simply drive over them with the ATV and spring rains should do the rest. There’s no use wasting a part of a field when a small amount of effort could make the plot lush from border to border. CLEAR AREAS FOR NEW PLOTS. As far as I’m concerned, it’s hard to have too many food plots. Any time I find I seem to be caught up with my habitat work, I start looking hard at new areas where I might put another plot in. And if the truth be known, sometimes I do this to replace spots that for some reason just never worked too well. Either the soil was poor or too rocky or the deer just didn’t like using that area. Whatever the reason, now is the time to start thoroughly preparing new spots for plots. You might simply have to clear sticks, debris and rocks, and then brush hog and apply Roundup to get an area ready for planting. In other locations you might have to hire a dozer to clear stumps, trees and large rocks to prepare a spot. Put in whatever effort it takes, but don’t take any shortcuts. The more you smooth the dirt, repeatedly kill weeds and grasses and clear rocks and debris, the better your final product will be. After you get this new area ready, consider planting annuals such as Power Plant, No-Plow, Secret Spot, BowStand, Whitetail Oats, Winter-Greens, Pure Attraction, No-Plow or Tall Tine Tubers for at least a 12-month cycle. This will help further shade out weeds and grasses and get the soil ready for a longer-lasting perennial planting. SPRUCE UP THE PLOT. If I find myself with just a small amount of time to spare, one of my favorite chores is simply to spruce up my plots. This can mean lots of things. It seems there are always rocks in some of the fields no matter how many times I’ve cleared it. Pick these up so they don’t cover plants or hinder growth and won’t damage tractor equipment. Sticks, leaves and branches might blow onto the plot after windstorms. They need to be removed or the plot won’t reach its full potential. In small plots hand-pulling certain weeds is also practical such as bothersome pigweed. Other times I walk or ride in my ATV with a hand-sprayer filled with glyphosate and spray thistles and other weeds individually in a plot. All of these are good chores to get a youngster to help with to nurture their interest in wildlife land management. Deer habitat managers should never get bored. There’s always a project beckoning — some big, some small. They provide good exercise, make for better deer habitat and food plots, and are often great activities to get the family involved with. What are you waiting for? Let’s get to work! W


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How to MAXIMIZE PERFORMANCE and LONGEVITY of Perennials The steps to maximum attraction, nutrition, longevity and weed control all work together By Jon Cooner WINA Director of Special Projects

hen it comes right down to it, we all want the same three things from our perennial food plots: we want them to be as attractive as they can be, as nutritious as possible, and last as long as they should. For that to happen, one of the things we have to do is keep weeds in check. In this article, I’ll show you that the very same comprehensive, balanced approach to optimum weedcontrol also helps maximize the attraction, nutritional content and longevity of your perennials. Hopefully, you keep and file Whitetail News articles you find especially informative and put them in a binder or file them for future reference. I certainly do. Most of the articles about food plots that I save are filed under subject-specific tabs, such as “Food Plot Design,”


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“Equipment,” “Planting Instructions,” and “Perennial Forage Maintenance.” A few articles I’ve saved, though, won’t fit neatly into a single subject’s section because they tie multiple subjects together in a way that made a light bulb turn on in my brain when I first read them. Those special articles go into a separate section in the very front of my files under a tab appropriately marked “Light Bulb Articles.” If you keep a file like I do, then I hope that this article is one you’ll want to save in your own “Light Bulb Articles” section for future reference because it will tie multiple subjects about food plots together in a way that reveals something you may have never considered before: The steps to optimum weed control, perennial-forage attractiveness, stand longevity and overall performance are exactly the same — and many of them depend on each other for optimum results. To explain, I’ll start with a look at the “Integrated Weed Management” approach set out by Dr. Carroll Johnson, the Whitetail Institute’s Weed and Herbicide Scientist, in an earlier issue of Whitetail News. Then, we’ll expand its application to perennial performance and longevity. Finally, we’ll tie everything together with a look at the planting instructions for Whitetail Institute perennial forage products. As you’ll see, all three are based on the same premise: a comprehensive, balanced approach yields optimum results.

A Comprehensive, Balanced Approach The Model for Optimum Results Weed Control (Specifically) The clearest explanation of why a comprehensive, balanced approach offers optimum weed-control results in perennial food plots appears in an article I have in the “Light Bulb” section of my binder: “Integrated Weed Management,” which was written by Dr. Carroll Johnson, and published in Whitetail News, Volume 18, No. 3. In that article, Dr. Johnson used a three-legged stool to illustrate that the three types of weed control measures (cultural, physical and chemical)




A three-legged stool is balanced and stable. If you remove one of the legs, the stool becomes unstable. A balanced weed management system relies equally on all three components. www.whitetailinstitute.com

should be considered as part of an integrated weed-management plan for optimum comprehensive weed control. In the same article, Dr. Johnson provided the following explanation of this concept: “Any crop production practice that enhances crop growth and uniformity also improves the ability of the crop to compete with weeds. This is true for any crop. Another way of describing this relationship is equally relevant. If a crop is not growing normally or uniformly, there is a parallel weed control problem. Uniform crop growth is the single most powerful form of weed control in any cropping system, including food plots. Forage selection, proper soil fertility (particularly pH), seedbed preparation, seeding rate, and overall growing conditions are cultural practices that provide weed control benefits of troublesome weeds.” As you read on, keep two terms in mind: “optimum growth conditions” and “crop production practices.” Even though Dr. Johnson’s article was specifically about weed control, this short paragraph is also the clearest statement I’ve ever seen of how to achieve a much broader goal: maximizing the attractiveness, nutritional content and longevity of perennial plantings. To show you why, I’ll break down what Dr. Johnson said and look more closely at each part. I’ll start with a sentence in the above paragraph from Dr. Johnson’s article because, as you’ll see, it’s the key to everything — it’s the key to an effective weed-management plan, and to ensuring that your perennials are highly attractive, nutritious and as long-lived as possible. “Uniform crop growth is the single most powerful form of weed control in any cropping system, including food plots.” Now, why is that the case? You may have noticed the answer in your own perennial food plots and not even realized it: Weeds are opportunists. They usually show up in areas of the plot where the forage stand is thin. It stands to reason, then, that the healthier the forage stand is, the less opportunity weeds have to invade the plot. As Dr. Johnson also explained, “Another way of describing this relationship is equally relevant. If a crop is not growing normally or uniformly, there is a parallel weed control problem.” So, how do we make sure our forage plants can grow vigorously and uniformly? By making sure they have optimum growing conditions, meaning that the planting environment is such that the forage plants can get everything they need to thrive. In most cases, the environment doesn’t provide optimum growth conditions when it’s in its natural state. And that’s where we come in. We have to make the growth environment optimum through “crop production practices that enhance crop growth and uniformity,” or making sure we correctly address the factors Dr. Johnson mentioned, “forage selection, soil fertility, seedbed preparation, seeding rate,” and others vital to establishing optimum growth conditions. If all that sounds familiar, there’s a reason: Those and other such crop production practices ARE the steps in Whitetail Institute’s planting instructions for its perennial forage products. And just like Dr. Johnson’s three-legged stool of Integrated Weed Management, many of those steps work together to help you achieve optimum growth conditions so that your perennials can be as attractive, nutritious and long-lived as they can be. We’ll cover that next.

Optimum Growth Conditions Depend on Crop Production Practices Working Together Weed Control (Specifically) Here’s a question for you to consider: When is the first time you think about weeds in your perennials? Is it only after they show up? If so, then you’re being entirely “reactive” — you’re trying to “get rid” of weeds after they appear. Of course your weed-control plan should be reactive — in part. Since weeds will eventually show up in even the best-prepared food plots, you do need to be reactive and deal with them when you see them. The point of Dr. Johnson’s three-legged stool is that being entirely reactive isn’t the best approach to comprehensive weed control. While you’ll probably be able to control weeds in most cases if you wait until they actually show up, optimum growth conditions will usually take more time and effort than if you’d also been proactive — taking steps before weeds appear to make it harder for them to get a foothold. And as you’ll see next, that is exactly the same understanding on which the planting instructions for Whitetail Institute perennials are based.

Whitetail Institute Planting Instructions for Imperial Perennial Forage Products So far, we’ve covered quite a bit of information, so let’s quickly recap: As Dr. Johnson advised in his article, a healthy forage stand is the most important tool for weed control, and the same comprehensive, balanced approach to optimum weed control he described in “Integrated Weed Management” also applies fully to the broader goal of perennial stand performance (maximized attraction, nutrition and longevity). And the path to achieving all these goals is the same: a comprehensive, balanced application of crop production practices that will increase yield. The planting instructions for all Whitetail Institute perennial forage products are similar, but none is identical to the others. Here, we’ll be reviewing the planting steps for Imperial Whitetail Clover in greater detail. When we’re through, you should have a clear picture of how far-reaching the benefits of a balanced, integrated approach are. And as is the case with weed control, you’ll see that ensuring that your forage plants have optimum growth conditions depends on many of the crop production practices in the planting instructions working together. 1. Follow all instructions below, step-by-step, when planting Imperial Whitetail Clover. (See our planting guide DVD for further details and instructions.) The first step is there just to remind you that the Whitetail Institute’s DVD provides tons of information about the planting process. In addition, you can find lots of instructive photos, videos and articles on the Whitetail Institute’s website, www.whitetailinstitute.com. And as always, you can get rapid, direct personalized assistance for free just by calling (800) 688-3030, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday. 2. Stay within the planting times for your state on the back of your Imperial Whitetail Clover bag.

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This is where we start getting into crop production practices designed to yield optimum growth conditions. Optimum Growth Conditions. Like any crop, optimum results can be expected from Whitetail Institute perennials when they’re planted in specific climactic and weather conditions. Crop Production Practice. Follow the Whitetail Institute’s published planting dates. The Whitetail Institute publishes recommended regional planting dates for each of its perennial forage products. Those dates, which are provided on the back of the product bags and at www.whitetailinstitute.com., have been shown through Whitetail Institute testing to be ideal for stand establishment and growth. Planting outside the Whitetail Institute’s recommended planting dates elevates the risk that unexpected hot, dry or cold weather will compromise the forage planting. The dates are not the same for all Whitetail Institute perennials, so be sure you check the specific planting dates for the forage you’ll be planting. 3. For Imperial Whitetail Clover, select an area with heavy soil that holds moisture. If possible, avoid sandy soils, hilltops and hillsides that drain quickly. This is where we start getting into crop production practices WORKING TOGETHER to yield optimum growth conditions. Optimum Growth Conditions. Select a forage product designed for the type of soil in the site, and the slope of the site. Some forages require more moisture for optimum growth than others. Some require less. Some soil types can hold moisture better than others, and that’s

generally the result of two factors: the soil type in the plot, and the slope of the site. Crop Production Practices Working Together. The good news is that virtually no matter what type of soil type and slope of your plot, the Whitetail Institute has a perennial forage product designed for it. To help you make sure you select the correct forage product for each of your food plot sites, the Whitetail Institute has provided an interactive forage-selection program on its website, and it will lead you to the best options for each of your sites with just the click of a few buttons. And if you still have questions, the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants are just a phone call away. 4. If the plot you are planting has grass, it is a good idea to spray a Roundup-type product and wait the recommended 10 days before disking. (Always follow herbicide label directions.) Optimum Growth Condition. Maximized root space. Crop Production Practices Working Together. To help ensure that your forage plants won’t have to compete with grass and weeds for root space, remove as much grass and weeds from the seedbed as possible before the seeds are sown. Doing so will help keep your forage plants from having to compete for nutrients and moisture available in the site, making it easier for your forage plants to grow without restriction. Remember what we said earlier? For optimum results, start weed control proactively during seedbed preparation, and also reactively as soon as grass and weeds begin to reappear in the stand. You’ll get optimum results if you deal with weeds before they appear and

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— 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043

Research = Results™ / Vol. 23, No. 3


make it harder for them to get a foothold in the first place. By removing weed and grass competition before you plant (proactive weed control), you free up root space in the seedbed and you make it easier to deal with weeds that appear later in the established forage stand (reactive weed control). 5. Soil test for a Giant White Clover to determine fertilizer and lime requirements. Be sure the pH of the soil is between 6.5 and 7.5. Proper pH is a very important part of soil preparation. If no soil test is available, use 400 lbs. of 6-24-24 or equivalent fertilizer per acre. Also, apply a minimum of two tons of lime per acre. A heavy application of lime can maintain a neutral soil pH for several years. Optimum Growth Conditions. This concerns “soil fertility” (soil pH and levels of important nutrients such as Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium in the soil). For optimum forage growth, soil pH must be 6.5 to 7.5, and the soil must contain sufficient levels of all the nutrients the plants need. A laboratory soil test will tell you whether any of these levels are low and, if so, exactly what blend and amount of fertilizer to add to correct it. It will also tell you whether soil pH is low and, if it is low, how much lime to add to the seedbed to raise it to the ideal range of 6.5 to 7.5. Crop Production Practices Working Together. If the level of any soil nutrient is low, then it should be raised with fertilizer before planting. If soil pH is low, then it should be limed in advance of planting, a few months in advance if possible. The forage plants won’t be able to

uptake all the nutrients they need unless both nutrient levels and soil pH are addressed — the nutrients must be there, and soil pH must be “neutral” ( 6.5-7.5) for the forage plants to access those nutrients. Most fallow soils in the U.S., though, are “acidic” (soil pH lower than 6.5), and as a result some of the nutrients are bound up in the soil in a way that the plants can’t reach them. And the lower the soil pH gets, the worse it gets. For example, if you spend $100 on fertilizer and plant in soil with a soil pH of 5.0 without raising soil pH first, the plants will only be able to access about half the fertilizer you put out. In other words, you will have wasted $50. And here’s something else you may not have thought of: making sure soil pH is in neutral range can also help with weed and grass control. Native grasses and other weeds tend to grow best when soil pH is in its natural state. As I mentioned earlier, most fallow soils are acidic. By raising soil pH to neutral, you not only provide an optimum growing condition for your forage plants, but also make it harder for grass and weeds to freely uptake nutrients. Are you starting to see how all this is interrelated? 6. Disk ground thoroughly to prepare good weed-free seedbed. Optimum Growth Conditions. Most fallow soils have huge amounts of dormant weed seed and grass seed in the soil. Some have such thick seed coats that they can literally lie dormant in the soil for decades. Disking the seedbed a few times at two-week intervals can bring a lot of these seeds to the surface where they germinate and are then killed by the next disking.

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Crop Production Practices Working Together. And weed control isn’t the only way disking the seedbed can help promote optimum growth conditions. In addition to the weed control benefit, repeated disking during seedbed preparation can also help thoroughly incorporate lime added to the seedbed to raise soil pH. Lime raises soil pH by acting in particle-to-particle contact with the soil (a piece of lime has to touch a piece of soil to raise that soil particle’s pH), so for best results, lime should be incorporated into the soil by disking or tilling. So, if soil pH is low, add the recommended amount of lime, and disk it in. Then disk a few more times at two-week intervals. Doing so can help incorporate the lime even more thoroughly and reduce the amount of dormant weed seed you have in the soil. Be sure to disk or till to the same depth each time. That way you don’t bring even more dormant weed seed up into the top layer of the seedbed. 7. Prepare a good, firm seed bed. For best results use a cultipacker or heavy roller to smooth and firm the soil. If no cultipacker is available, use a weighted fence-type drag (see DVD for details). It is critical to level the ground and fill in any cracks that will allow the seed to get too deep. (NOTICE: We are cultipacking or dragging before the seeds are sown.) Optimum Growth Condition — Seed Depth. For optimum survivability, small seeds such as Imperial Whitetail clover, chicory and brassica should be left on top, or very near the surface, of the seedbed. Large seeds such as oats and beans should be left just under the surface in loose soil. You can understand why that’s so critical if you think of a seed as a can of fuel. A “large” can of fuel contains more energy for the seedling to push up through the soil to the surface, so large seeds should be planted just below the surface. A “small” can of fuel contains much less energy, so small seeds such as Imperial Whitetail Clover, chicory and brassica should be left on top of the seedbed or very near the surface. Crop Production Practices Working Together — Step 7 and Step 9. How you make sure you plant the specific forage product you’ve selected at the correct depth depends on three things: the size of the seed, whether you use a drag or a cultipacker (roller) to smooth the seedbed prior to putting the seed out (Step 7), and what, if anything, else you do after you put the seed out (Step 9). Step 7. Before seeding small seeds, you should eliminate cracks from the seedbed into which small seeds might fall and be buried too deep. Second, you should firm the seedbed so that the seeds aren’t driven too deep into the soil where they may not be able to come up. Step 7 gives you two ways to do that: with a weighted drag, or with a cultipacker (a roller). Either will smooth the seedbed sufficiently to accept small seeds. However, the cultipacker will firm the soil much more than a drag. That’s why Step 9 depends so heavily on what you do in Step 7. 8. With a good seedbed prepared, broadcast 8 lbs. or more seed per acre. If you use a hand spreader, be certain to adjust the seed opening to about 1/8 inch. This adjustment will insure proper distribution of seed. This is usually the smallest setting on most hand spreaders.


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Optimum Growth Condition. Keeping the root space in the plot from becoming crowded saves you money by not having to buy excess seed. Planting at too heavy a seeding rate can negatively affect some forages by crowding the available root space. While that isn’t an issue with a forage such as Imperial Whitetail Clover, since the strongest plants will take over the space, using more seed than you need to will cost you money you don’t need to spend. Crop Production Practices Working Together. Plant Whitetail Institute perennials at the seeding rate shown on the front of the product bags. In addition to making sure you don’t spend more money on seed than you need to when planting, it can be a good idea especially in northern climates to top-dress the standing forage with additional Imperial Whitetail Clover seed during your spring planting dates every year or two (frost seeding). Since Imperial Whitetail Clover seed can germinate earlier in the spring than most native weeds and grasses, top-dressing Imperial Whitetail Clover plots during the spring planting dates for the upper half of the U.S. and Canada can help with weed control as well as extend the life of the plot. 9. After broadcasting seed, if available, use a cultipacker or some type of heavy roller to roll over field. This presses seed into ground and helps insure better seed-to-soil contact and good germination. If no cultipacker or roller is available, you are finished with the planting process. Do not cover seed more than 1/4 inch. Do not disk seed into ground. (NOTICE: This is the second time we recommend use of a cultipacker.) Crop Production Practices Working Together. Remember what we said under Step 7 above? Step 7 gave you two ways to smooth the seedbed before seeding: a drag, or a cultipacker. Step 9 tells you how to finish the seedbed depending on whether you used a drag or a cultipacker in Step 7. A cultipacker will firm the soil more than a drag will, so if you used a cultipacker to smooth the seed bed prior to seeding small seeds (Step 7), then roll the plot once more after seeding to press the seed into the surface of the seedbed. If you used a drag in Step 7, however, do nothing further after you put small seeds out because the seedbed will be comparatively soft, allowing small seeds to fall and naturally settle into optimum contact with the seedbed. Never drag over small seeds. Step 10 really sums up this whole article. 10. Remember Imperial Whitetail Clover is a highquality forage seed. Proper planting effort, favorable soil, weather conditions, good timing, and the other crop production practices in these instructions will provide a comprehensive, balanced approach that yields optimum growth conditions for maximum attraction, nutrition, and longevity, and impact on the quality of your deer and wildlife. I hope this article is one you will want to put in the “Light Bulb” section of your files for future reference. W


In its simplest description, Imperial Whitetail Edge is a deep-rooted perennial forage specifically designed for good, moderately welldrained soils. Beyond that, this star performer is designed to provide excellent attraction, yield up to 44 percent protein, and be both highly droughtresistant and winter hardy.

Exclusive Components Make

Imperial Whitetail

EDGE a Star Perennial Performer

Yes, that’s a lot to ask of any forage product. And that’s one reason it took the Whitetail Institute many years of research, development and real-world testing to create Edge. It also means, though, that you can rest assured that Edge is designed to perform well in a wide variety of climates from Florida to Canada, and draw deer like a magnet. Edge has some very important things in common with all other Whitetail Institute forage products. For starters, Edge contains forage varieties only available in Whitetail Institute products. Of most importance, though, Edge is the result of Whitetail Institute’s totally goaloriented approach to forage research, development and testing, which means that Edge’s product quality and performance are the very best the Whitetail Institute can make them. In addition, like most Whitetail Institute forage products, Edge is a carefully designed blend of several types of plants to maximize the attractiveness, nutritional content and longevity of the stand. Rarely will a single plant type perform at the highest levels in all test categories. That’s why the Whitetail Institute takes such care to select forage components that complement each other, and then to determine the optimum ratios in which to combine them based on exhaustive testing. Looking at the components in Edge, you’ll understand how they interact to maximize attraction, nutrition, and longevity.

Forage Components Edge contains the following forage components, some of which will


/ Vol. 23, No. 3


be familiar to those who have planted other Whitetail Institute perennials. Edge includes proprietary forage varieties available only from the Whitetail Institute. Persist Forb: Persist is the backbone perennial in another Whitetail Institute perennial, Imperial Whitetail Extreme. This exceptionally sweet plant is deeply rooted and highly drought resistant. Persist adapts well in lighter soils, and in good soils that drain well. X-9 Grazing Alfalfas: The X-9 alfalfas in Edge are the same as those the Whitetail Institute includes in Alfa-Rack Plus. Whitetail Institute testing has shown these alfalfas to be superior to hay-type alfalfas when used as a forage for deer. The main reason is that they produce more leaf relative to stem than ordinary alfalfas. The X-9 alfalfas are also deeply rooted and drought resistant. WINA-100 Perennial Forage Chicory: This is the same perennial forage chicory the Whitetail Institute includes in “Chic” Magnet, Chicory Plus, Alfa-Rack Plus and Extreme. Put simply, WINA-100 is the most attractive chicory variety the Whitetail Institute has ever tested. That’s because its leaves stay tender as it matures, unlike other chicories that can become stemmy and waxy. WINA-100 chicory is also deeply rooted and drought resistant. Specially Selected Sainfoin Variety: Sainfoin is a legume that produces high protein levels similar to those produced by high-quality alfalfas. The sainfoin variety included in Edge has been specially selected for its outstanding deer preference compared to all other sainfoin varieties tested by the Whitetail Institute. It’s also very cold tolerant and drought and heat resistant to withstand, hotter, drier climates. WINA Golden-Jumpstart Annual Clovers: These are the same proprietary clovers included in other Whitetail Institute perennial and annual forage blends. These clovers sprout and grow very rapidly, providing fast green-up and attraction.

Rainbond Seed Coating Edge also features the Whitetail Institute’s high-tech Rainbond seed coating to push product quality and seedling survivability to the maximum. Rainbond contains polymers that absorb water from the soil (up to 200 times their weight in water), keep it right next to the seed as it germinates, and replenish the water they hold from the soil as the plants use it. By retaining water that would otherwise be lost to evaporation or percolation, Rainbond helps maximize seedling survivability. The seed coatings in Edge also contain the precise inoculant needed by the alfalfas in the blend so that the customer doesn’t have to inoculate the seed before planting. In short, Edge is ready to go right out of the bag.

Additional Information Edge is designed for a well-prepared seedbed on good soils that are moderately well drained. As with any alfalfa or product containing alfalfa, soil pH should be within neutral range (6.5-7.5) at the time of planting. Edge can be planted in the spring in most areas, or in the fall. Planting dates and instructions for planting and maintaining Edge are provided on the back of the product bags, and they’re also available online at www.whitetailinstitute.com. If you have any additional questions about the new Edge, call the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants at (800) 688-3030. The call and the service are free. W For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

The Whitetail Institute 239 Whitetail Trail • Pintlala, AL 36043

Research = Results™


Vol. 23, No. 3 /


Whitetail Institute RECORD BOOK BUCKS…

Wayne Pelton — Ohio I started with Imperial Whitetail Clover six years ago. We have seen more and bigger bucks every year. I shot this 11-point buck with my bow not far from my clover plot. My father also shot a big heavy racked 10-point. My 11-point dressed out at 209 pounds. Notice both tips are curled down. It’s a very unique rack.

Matthew Kern — North Dakota

Frank Caputo — New York

I shot this 153-inch, 6-by-6 on opening day of the North Dakota bow season. I've been after him for two years. I took him right on the edge of a 3 acre Imperial Whitetail Clover plot. We also have a No-Plow plot that we had multiple trail cam photos of him on. Our two 30-06 mineral sites have also been incredible for getting photos of this deer. I am a believer that one of the reasons I had an opportunity to kill this buck is because of the products we've used from the Whitetail Institute.

I just want to thank Whitetail Institute for making great products, I’ve used Imperial Clover for the past 15 years and Winter-Greens for the past couple of years as well. WOW! What a difference these products have made on our herd. The overall weight of our deer and the rack size has grown tremendously. This is the second P&Y deer I’ve harvested in the past five years. They scored 145 and 153 inches. And don’t forget I’m from the southern part of New York, where not too many deer are living past one and half years old. Again the guys at Whitetail Institute are great and make tremendous products. Attached is a picture of the 153 P&Y. It weighed 235 pounds and was 6-1/2 years old. Thanks again Whitetail Institute for producing great products, I believe it’s because of them that we are having the opportunity to harvest such great deer.

Eric Yoder — Kansas This is the 14th buck that came by the first night my son, Terry, hunted by a food plot planted in Extreme. He has 20 points and scores 204 inches.


/ Vol. 23, No. 3


Gary Grunow — Wisconsin

I have a 900-acre farm exclusively managed for wildlife. It is a 365 day/year obsession/hobby. I have managed my farm for over 10 years. We continue to produce one to two record book bucks every year or two. My kids are at the age of being able to hunt now. Payton is 14 and Nate is 10. They killed their first bucks this year over Pure Attraction fields (Photo 1). My 12-year-old son, Isaac, killed his second buck over same field (Photo 2). We usually exclusively bowhunt the property but kids and friends’ kids get to shoot these bucks with rifles during appropriate seasons. My brother killed a 164-inch 8-pointer with his bow over an Edge plot (Photo 3) and I shot an 160-inch 10-pointer with my bow that was 7-1/2 years old over a Pure Attraction field (Photo 4). We are able to keep these bucks on our farm with Whitetail Institute products, and we generally wait until they are over 5 years old before we’ll shoot them, unless kids decide otherwise. I truly believe with Whitetail Institute products I can get a buck to 200-plus inches. That is my goal. I’ve enclosed several other photos from the past several seasons of great bucks harvested here.

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. 3 /


remember the afternoon surely and clearly. It was one all deer hunters and managers dream about. Temperatures were cool and cloudy with perhaps a light drizzle, but considering the time of year, weather made no difference in my game plan. My approach was slow and methodical, and it was going to take some serious time to accomplish my goal. I was working two fields separated only by a thin finger ridge littered with white oaks. Creatively called the Upper Field and Lower Field, these overgrown fields were located in the center of our property and downwind of a giant sanctuary. They were the secret to my success. I worked the fields back and forth, slowly, but confidently. It took some time, well into the night in fact. However, as I made my last pass down the Upper Field, the headlights on my neighbor’s borrowed tractor were synonymous with our property’s bright future. Later that year, I would be planting two acres of Imperial Whitetail Clover.

Damage Control Four years ago, my family owned a 260-acre piece of property in

the mountains of Bath County, Va. that provided little substance for deer and wildlife. Our deer lived in marginal habitat, so consequently our hunting opportunities suffered. Mature buck sightings were sporadic at best, mainly taking place during the chase phase of the rut. Simply spotting a mature buck at a distance chasing a doe through the woods was cause for celebration. Further, quality deer management and herd health indicators — including fawn recruitment rate, field-dressed weight of harvested animals and rack scores — were well below the genetic potential of our local deer herd. Additionally, our property’s year-long carrying capacity suffered, which in turn made it difficult to locate and target bucks for the hunting season. Our property had one glaring weakness. It lacked a consistent, sustainable food source. Enter Whitetail Institute. Fortunately, we had two overgrown fields, the Upper and Lower Fields, which were more than an acre that would make for ideal food plot locations. Both fields were in the center of our property downwind of primary buck bedding areas. This meant we could refine our hunting strategies to effectively hunt these properties. This was a bonus to the added nutrition the Imperial Whitetail Clover would provide, the primary reason for our planting. Of our property’s 260 acres only about five acres of ground are tillable. Naturally, we didn’t have the necessary equipment to efficiently work up two acres of dirt fit for a food plot. Thankfully, our neighbor lent us his 40-horsepower tractor, which made plowing the fields a much more manageable task. We plowed the fields in late winter, and routinely disked and sprayed the plots with Roundup throughout the summer to prepare a clean seedbed. We’ve had tremendous success on our property plant-

With a lush green carpet of Imperial Whitetail Clover as the backbone of our management and hunting strategies, bigger bucks and healthier deer would quickly become the norm on our property.

Imperial Whitetail Clover Key to Family “Trifecta” By Cody Altizer Photos by the Author


/ Vol. 23, No. 3


When the Whitetail Institute said its seed blends were drought tolerant, it wasn’t kidding.

Persistence Pays

Clyde started showing up on the author’s trail cameras and he took quite a liking to the Imperial Clover plots, and they would quickly become part of his core area. ing during fall, and we decided again that was our best option. We seeded the Upper and Lower Fields with Imperial Clover. We overseeded with oats as well to serve as a cover crop. With a high deer density, we wanted to protect the clover during fall and allow it to establish a strong root system and come back strong the next spring. We had done the dirty work, literally and figuratively, now it was up to Mother Nature to do her part.

New Beginnings In perfect Mother Natures form, she did not disappoint. In March, I frost-seeded the plots. By May, the white blooms contrasted so beautifully with spring splendor it looked like a late spring snowfall. Without a weed in sight, the clover had reached 17 inches in height and was providing literally tons of nutritious food for our deer herd. The whitetails welcomed the Imperial Clover and the nutrition it immediately provided. The new high-protein food source lead to higher lactation rates among does, thus producing healthier fawns. Moreover, the added protein, we would later learn, would result in bigger-bodied bucks sporting higher-scoring racks. The clover plots didn’t just help the deer either; we quickly saw an increase in the number of turkeys using our property as well. As any deer manger and food plotter knows, proper planting and maintenance of the plot is what will ultimately determine its success. We wanted to keep our plots in their most attractive, nutritious and palatable state. This meant taking the simple, albeit necessary steps needed to ensure the overall health of the plot.

After a year of maintaining the Upper and Lower Fields, the following fall was time to implement our new plots into our hunting strategies. The Upper and Lower Fields are located downwind of a 15-acre sanctuary that is home to many of the mature bucks that live on and around our property. Our strategy was going to be very simple: Hunt close to the plots to catch deer on their feet during the daylight in the afternoons on their way to feed, and hunt closer to bedding areas in the morning to intercept the deer on their way back to bed coming off the food plots. Fortunately, we had reason to be excited about the upcoming season. During winter, two bucks that fed heavily on our Imperial clover plots in January and February caught our attention. The larger of the two bucks was a busted-racked three-year-old that would have likely scored in the lower 130s. The second buck, a two-year-old, was easily identifiable with his high and tight brow tines. These bucks were at the top of our wish list. The two bucks avoided our trail cameras for the most part during summer. The bigger of the two bucks made a brief appearance at one of our mineral stations in June, but it was tough to tell how big he was. I wasn’t worried, though. I knew that come fall, both bucks would take a strong interest in our plots again, especially in the does that were feeding in them every afternoon. Oct. 1 marked the opening day of Virginia’s bow season, and after an uneventful morning, I decided to check a trail camera I had positioned on the Upper Field. Low and behold, the night prior, the bigbodied buck from winter was in the plot feeding and posturing the younger bucks. He had blown up into a true giant that I guessed would score in the 140s. He was a main-frame 10-pointer with a long sweep-

Maintenance and Weed Control As lush and beautiful as the clover looked at 17 inches, it wasn’t in its most suitable state for deer. To keep the clover young and tender, mowing was essential. Throughout spring and summer, when adequate moisture was available, we would mow our clover down to six to eight inches. This helps ensure that the clover’s protein level remains, not peaks, as high as possible. In addition to mowing, we would spray our plots with Arrest herbicide to help control grasses. Arrest controls competing grasses in a clover or alfalfa plot without harming the clover. Coupled with properly timed mowing, our plots looked like a lush green carpet of deer food throughout the summer, despite the record heat and drought.


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Clyde finally made a mistake in mid-November on his way back to bed after checking for does the night before in the Upper Field. The author’s brother shot him at 60 yards with his muzzleloader. www.whitetailinstitute.com

for a shot. Within seconds, he was in my 60-yard shooting lane and with my cross-hairs behind his shoulder, I pulled the trigger. I knew I made a good hit, but I didn’t see the buck go down. I texted my brother and let him know it was me who shot and that I was pretty sure I’d just killed a good buck. It took him less than 20 minutes to make it to the base of my tree, waiting to pick up the blood trail, like a puppy ready for his afternoon walk. We picked up the blood trail and after a quick tracking job we recovered the buck. It was a dandy buck all right; an 11-pointer in the 130-inch range. After looking him over, I immediately identified him as High ‘n’ Tight. His tall, jagged brow tines were a dead giveaway. Like Clyde, we cut open High ‘n’ Tight’s stomach to find it full of clover after a night of feeding in the Lower Field, his favorite food plot during winter. Dad completed the family trifecta the next day by harvesting a 51/2-year-old warrior buck, his oldest and biggest to date. Like Clyde and High ‘n’ Tight, this buck was harvested in the morning going back to bed on a trail between our Imperial clover plots and the sanctuary.


The author caught the 11 point, “High and Tight,” on his way to bed after a night of feeding on his favorite plot which was planted in Imperial Whitetail Clover. ing right main beam that earned him the nickname “Clyde” (See Clint Eastwood’s movie “Every Which Way but Loose”). However, what was most impressive about this buck was his body size. He had surely benefitted from our Imperial Clover. As October slowly turned to November, I began to hunt Clyde relentlessly. We had gotten several trail camera photos of him around our food plots at night and going back to bed in the morning. It seemed every night a giant rub or massive scrape would pop up on the trails between our food plots and the sanctuary. Unfortunately, however, he was strictly nocturnal. That all changed on the morning of Nov. 12. We had gotten the first hard frost of the hunting season, and it kept Clyde up on his feet a little longer than normal going back to bed. My brother shot him with his muzzleloader just after 7 a.m. at 60 yards between the Upper Field and his bedding area. To our surprise, Clyde was much bigger than we had first thought. He was a main-frame 10-pointer with five scorable kickers that allowed him to gross 148-6/8. The bruiser buck weighed 220 pounds on the hoof; he was a true Virginia giant. After field dressing Clyde, I cut open his stomach, curious what he had been eating on the night before — Imperial Whitetail Clover, if there was ever any doubt. I had been so immersed in trying to harvest Clyde, I had forgotten about his winter running mate, High ‘n’ Tight. I continued to hunt hard throughout the rest of November, as new mature bucks started showing up on our trail cameras. This was proof that Clyde truly was the dominant buck on our property. Still, High ‘n’ Tight remained a ghost. With the rut winding down Nov. 25, I climbed into one of my favorite stands hoping to tag a doe with my rifle. Just after sunrise, I noticed movement to my east. I quickly threw up my binoculars and could tell it was a good buck. I determined he was a shooter and grabbed my rifle to prepare myself


/ Vol. 23, No. 3

Prior to planting Imperial Whitetail Clover, we suffered through marginal hunting and deer management success. However, in the last two seasons alone, we’ve harvested three of our property’s biggest bucks ever. To me, the correlation is simple — Imperial Whitetail Clover food plots have made us more successful hunters. However, more than just bucks on the ground, Imperial Whitetail Clover has strengthened our passion to be better land stewards and conservationists; a reward far greater than any mount on the wall. W

Finally, the day after the author harvested his buck, his dad completed the family trifecta by putting a bullet into this old, mature warrior buck. It was the author’s dad’s biggest buck to date. www.whitetailinstitute.com



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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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. 3 /


Small Plot Plans for

Big Results By Scott Bestul Photos by Tes Randle Jolly

It was one of those hunts where I just wasn’t getting the vibe. An outing where my head tells me I’m making the right choice, but my gut carries on a nagging argument that knee-caps my confidence. On a late October afternoon, the debate went something like this: Head: Cool little ladder stand, tucked sweetly against a leafy white oak. Gut: It’s 12 feet high, idiot. No cover between you and the food plot. You’ll never draw a bow without spooking deer. Head: But I like the food plot. Strip of oats, a swath of brassicas, and even a few beans for variety. Gut: Yes, and you could shoot an arrow into your neighbor’s barn from here. Listen to all that banging, clanking and mooing. And do you recall that a nice buck has already been shot from this spot this fall? How many times do you think you can go to the well, anyway? 48 WHITETAIL NEWS

/ Vol. 23, No. 3


You get the picture. This is why I carry a book in my backpack; to provide distraction from the mental wars and keep my butt in the seat. Some of those hunts live up to my worst expectations. But this one surprised me. Within an hour, I’d seen a handful of does and a small buck, and in the last minutes of prime time a 3-1/2-year-old 10-point fed within 16 yards of that little ladder. I decided to pass on the shot, but the hunt was one of my most exciting of the fall. Such is the power of small food plots, planted close to security cover. The plot I hunted that evening is a perfect example of these tight-cover plots, and though it’s only a few years old, has always fascinated me. As described, it’s located within a stone’s throw of my neighbor’s dairy barn, which is always a busy and noisy place. Yet because of the adjacent cover — an old pasture that Dave has allowed to grow up into dense brush and young trees — the deer feel safe there. This plot sucks in not only a lot of deer, but mature bucks as well. In fact, close to a month before my evening hunt, Dave shot a gorgeous 10-point buck that grossed in the high 150s — not a bad reward for a plot not much bigger than a couple of full-sized pickup trucks. My hunting buddies and I have been experimenting with these types of plots for several seasons now, and have made enough mistakes to feel like we’re finally learning something. Here are a few of the lessons we’ve learned.

No. 1: Plot Location Small plots — which I define as anything less than one-half acre — are best situated somewhere close to dense cover. The reason for this is simple. Because a small plot is never going to feed a lot of deer for a long period of time, their main purpose is to lure deer in for a shot. And to coax any deer into an open area during daylight, you need to make deer feel safe. Situate a small plot close to cover and deer don’t have to travel far to reach the food. Plus, the presence of nearby cover affords a feeding whitetail with a sense of security. This is particularly critical when you’re trying to lure in mature bucks. While there are many areas suitable to these small kill plots, the three best I’ve helped create were all in or near naturally occurring openings. The first is just off a small clearcut close to my home. My neighbor and I made the clearcut over several winter weekends spent with a chainsaw in hand; and just off the edge of the clearcut was a small area — about one-eighth of an acre, to be exact — grown up to sumac, honeysuckle and grass. It was a small matter to clear the brush and grass and establish a plot, which I’ve maintained for several years now. The plot described in the beginning of this story is another excellent example. Though close to buildings and other human activity, the plot (actually several small ones linked together) lies tight to cover so dense it’s barely penetrable. The thick morass of briers, saplings and weeds

keeps deer feeling secure; an illusion maintained because those areas are never penetrated by humans and the plots are hunted sparingly (and then only under perfect wind conditions). Finally, I’ve helped a friend establish and maintain a pair of plots on his small property for many years now. Those plots are located adjacent to the headwaters of a tiny trout stream, which flows through an old brushy pasture choked by box elder, cedar and cottonwood trees, with a smattering of switchgrass and other native prairie species. These plots attract deer throughout the year and have allowed my friend to tag many deer. While our plantings offer deer a nutritional boost, I’m convinced their true effectiveness lies in location; even mature bucks (my friend missed a legitimate Booner there last fall) feel safe grabbing a bite because safety is only a leap away.

No. 2: Plot Establishment and Weed Control Small plots can be deadly, but some of them are just plain difficult to start. Ideally, I like to work with natural openings which require less brush and woody vegetation removal and already enjoy a good dose of sunlight. But sometimes I’m forced to get stubborn. One of my friend’s plots next to the creek (mentioned above) was basically hacked out of a gnarly little stand of box elder trees. For that task I hired a buddy who owns a skid loader and a bucket. Mark ripped trees out of the ground by their roots in an hour’s worth of labor, and the $100 I paid him was chicken feed compared to the labor of cutting trees and digging out stumps by hand. Of course, your time/labor investment will be much smaller if you focus your efforts on natural openings. Here, the main concern is usually eliminating grass and weed competition, a job that’s usually a snap for a sprayer loaded with a quality herbicide. In most scenarios, I like to spray the plot and let it sit for a week or two, which allows stubborn broadleaf weeds and grasses a chance to absorb the chemical in their roots and get a great kill. When the plot has “browned up” nicely, tillage is much simpler and more effective. One of the most frequent questions I’m asked about starting food plots like these is, “Can I use an ATV to do the job?” I confess I’m torn and spoiled on this issue. As far as being spoiled, I’m blessed to have friends, neighbors and hunting buds who possess — and know how to run — some serious equipment. This means I can turn to them, point to a brush-choked thicket and say, “Hey, do you think it’s possible to get a tractor in there and work that up for me?” I’m devious this way, as I’ve learned my buddies take these tasks as a personal challenge; a test of their farming skills, as it were. The next thing I know, there’s a John Deere in a place where it shouldn’t be, turning dirt.

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Back to the “torn” half of the equation. I know some guys who have good ATVs and top-of-the-line accessories. In most areas — I’m stressing the word “most” — they can till up a small plot just fine, assuming they let the herbicide do its work and aren’t battling a root system quagmire. The process just takes a little longer than it would with heavy equipment. This, of course, is fine. But every once in a while there’s a nasty, brushy, rocky patch where an ATV is just not a big enough gun for the game. In such cases, seek out someone who’ll bring in the artillery you need and you won’t regret the cash it takes to get the job done right. One surprising thing I’ve learned about small plots is the amount of continuing weed control required. When I first started planting these mini-plots, I figured that when the initial weed-war was fought my headaches would be over. Wrong. In fact, I feel that small-plot farmers face even stiffer weed competition, not because of what we spray or till in the plot itself, but the stuff we ignore on its borders. A classic example is a plot I planted a few years back that was infested with burdock. I sprayed those nasty, sprawling broadleaves like I was hosing down a house fire … and they just kept coming back. I was mystified, until I took my eyes off the plot itself. On its fringes, and growing in a sweeping arc under neighboring trees and shrubs, were hundreds of burdock plants that were casting seeds into my plot on a continual basis. When I expanded the burdock war to a broader front, I was able to nearly eliminate the competition. These days when I plant a small plot, the first thing I do is look around the perimeter and identify potential enemies that will spread their seed into the perfect growing conditions I’m about to create.

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No. 3: The Planting Question Deciding what to plant in a mini-plot is a thorny issue. If I had my druthers, I’d plant Imperial Whitetail Clover in almost every one I could. Clover is just such a year-round whitetail attractant that it’s tough to beat, and I’ve tested enough brand names to feel that Imperial is the best stuff going. Also, I’m a passionate turkey hunter, and clover sucks in spring birds like no other food source around. Finally, getting a great clover patch established means that, with a little yearly maintenance, you’ll have a great plot going for several years. That said, weed control often forces me to consider other options for the first couple years of a small plot. One tactic that has worked well is to work up the plot in spring or early summer and plant something like a Roundup ready soybean. As noted above, mini-plots are grass- and broadleaf-magnets, and in my experience Roundup whacks weeds like nothing else. After a season or two of Roundup ready beans, I usually have weed competition defeated and I can get my clover going. Yet even beans aren’t a magic bullet. The curse of beans in a small plot is that deer can wipe them out; sometimes before they can even throw a pod or reach the hunting season. Here’s the solution to that problem; monitor your plot into the late summer months. If it looks like deer will have the thing destroyed before it can do you any good, simply till the plot up and plant a late-season annual. Two of my favorite nominees are Tall Tine Tubers, or Winter-Greens. In addition to producing amazing food mass, these offerings typically aren’t attractive to deer until the first frost. This timing can help a small plot produce well into the hunting season. Last year, I experienced a final, and highly exciting, option for small plot success. My hunting partner and I were looking for something to plant in a pair of plots that had been brassica fields for three seasons. Deer had so adored these plots that it was tough to walk away from Winter-Greens, but the experts at Whitetail Institute told me doing so was following the good agricultural practice of rotation. When I asked for a substitute they suggested Whitetail Oats Plus. We’d never planted oats before, but after last fall they’re going to be a staple on our food plot menu. I’ve come to love Whitetail Oats for a variety of reasons, but the short list goes like this: 1. They’re simple to plant; 2. they’re a late-summer, early-fall planting (which means weed competition is minimal); 3. they’re low maintenance and, finally; 4. whitetails just hammer them. We were thrilled with the whitetail response to Whitetail oats and impressed by their ability to take heavy grazing and still rebound to grow even more.

Conclusion Small plots will never accomplish the management goals of their larger counterparts — feeding great numbers of deer and improving herd health and survival. But I’m convinced they’re an integral part of any serious deer manager’s plans. Micro plots placed close to dense security cover allow us to add more variety and tonnage to our food plot plans, and they provide excellent spots for killing does and mature bucks. And finally, I view small plots as the perfect stepping stone into the fascinating world of food plotting. With a small investment of time, money and materials, small plots provide the ideal laboratory for learning. W


Imperial Whitetail

PowerPlant Improving Antlers by the Numbers By Jon Cooner

t’s pretty simple, folks. If you want the bucks you hunt next fall to be carrying larger antlers, you’ll need to supply them with lots of palatable, protein-rich foliage during the spring and summer. And no other competing product the Whitetail Institute has ever tested beats Imperial Whitetail PowerPlant for doing exactly that.

drawbacks. For one, agricultural-variety soybean plants can quickly become stemmy as they mature and the lignen content in them increases. And the stemmier they get, the less attractive they are to deer, which require tender forages due to their small ruminant digestive systems. Ag soybeans can also suffer from early overgrazing. The forage soybeans in PowerPlant, though, can better withstand heavy deer usage once they establish — they can even regenerate and continue to grow once deer start feeding on them! You can easily see the difference between PowerPlant’s forage soybeans and standard ag beans once they establish because the beans in

PowerPlant is a carefully crafted blend of forage legumes and small amounts of sunflowers and a high-quality wildlife sorghum. Forage Legumes. The key to PowerPlant’s superiority is the nature of the legumes in the product. They’re true forage varieties, which can outperform standard, agricultural-type plant varieties in a big way when used as a forage for deer. The forage soybean in PowerPlant is a great example. All soybeans are not the same, especially when used as a forage for deer. Standard agricultural soybeans, which are specifically designed for bean production, are certainly attractive to deer, but they do have some


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PowerPlant grow into a supple, tender vine instead of a tough stem the way ag bean plants do. And that’s true of the other legumes in PowerPlant as well. That’s why PowerPlant also includes small amounts of sunflowers and sorghum as structural components, which give the legume vines something to climb and maximize foliage production instead of growing along the ground. The result is a tangled jungle of succulent foliage that grows up to six feet tall, providing deer with huge amounts of high-protein forage as well as an attractive bedding area. How important is it to provide deer with the sort of abundant, highprotein forage that PowerPlant delivers during the spring and summer? I’ll answer that by summarizing some key numbers in antler growth. Keep in mind the old saying, “Numbers don’t lie!” The number we’ll start with is 200.

200 Days in the Spring/Summer Antler-Growing Window Our first number, 200, is the number of days generally in the antlergrowing window of spring and summer. While exact beginning and ending dates vary regionally, bucks generally have only about 200 days during the spring and summer in which to grow antlers. The key to getting the fastest, most direct results in antler size lies in identifying the main factors that influence antler size, and put our management efforts toward those that offer the best potential to deliver direct, rapid results. And that brings us to our next important number: 3.

3 Main Factors Affecting Antler Size Bruce Lee: Deer Manager? Martial arts icon Bruce Lee once said, “It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” While it’s just a guess, I’d bet Mr. Lee was referring to how to develop proficiency in martial arts. Still, the exact same philosophy applies when we manage deer toward specific goals: the best course is to focus your efforts on actions that will get you to your goal in a direct way. Most folks are familiar with the antler-size “pyramid,” which shows the three main factors involved in antler size. It can be tempting to immediately jump in with both feet and start trying to manage all three factors right off the bat. As with anything else, though, you’ll get to your goal a lot more efficiently if you take the time to understand where to put your efforts so that they’ll do the most good and as quickly as possible. Below, I’ll show you why supplementing nutrition in an educated way usually offers the most potential for rapid results than the other two factors in most free-range situations. Age. Few things in life are absolutely certain. One thing that is certain, though, is that a buck simply cannot grow the largest set of

Deer love fresh spring legumes, so much in fact that they typically clean out an entire planting before the plants are well established. The mix of high-protein annuals in PowerPlant better withstand heavy grazing to produce a high volume crop that continues to thrive throughout the heat of summer, providing deer with not only excellent forage, but with attractive bedding areas as well. In university testing PowerPlant produced more tonnage per acre than any other spring/summer annual. They’ll come for the succulent plants and stay to bed and make your plot their home.

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/ Vol. 23, No. 3

antlers his genes will allow until he’s mature — about 5-1/2 to 6-1/2 years old. That’s why passing up immature bucks is a “must do” for anyone hoping to maximize antler size in the bucks he hunts. Even so, you may not see the direct results of passing up immature bucks quickly. In many free-range situations, young bucks die or relocate before reaching maturity, so there’s no guarantee that the young bucks you pass up today will still be on the property in the future. Genetics. The fact that the maximum size a buck’s antlers can reach when he’s mature is set in stone by his genes is clearly understood by most hunters and managers. Less so in most free-range cases are the actual benefits of common actions intended to improve genetics: some may have little effect, if any at all. “Culling,” for example, or attempting to influence herd genetics by removing individual bucks that appear inferior so they can’t breed, can be rather ineffective in many free-range management situations. Observation alone is a poor diagnostic tool at best. It can be an easy mistake for someone to remove a young buck by accident, and bucks with antlers deformed through injury during velvet may grow fully formed antlers the next year. Also, half of a buck’s genes come from its mother, and observation is a poor tool when deciding which does to remove. And even if the bucks culled from the herd are truly genetically inferior, removing a buck or two from the herd isn’t going to change overall herd genetics much, if at all. Perhaps the biggest reason why culling offers little in the way of rapid, direct results in improving antlers is that genetics usually aren’t the limiting factor in antler size! How many of us have heard a fellow hunter say something like, “I wish the deer around here had better genetics?” Usually, they’re bemoaning the average size of bucks’ antlers in the area and assuming that antler size can’t be improved because it’s genetically limited. In most freerange cases, though, that assumption is simply incorrect. More often than not, free-range bucks have the genetic potential to grow larger antlers than they do, but they’re limited by other factors. Hunters should certainly strive to get bucks into older age classes. As bucks grow older, though, most of the time they are extremely limited by shortfalls in quality nutrition, and it’s crucial to address this if bigger-antlered bucks are the goal. To understand why, take a look at our next number: 80.

While naturally occurring forages usually provide enough protein for bucks to grow antlers, rarely do they provide anywhere near enough protein for bucks to grow the biggest antlers they can.


80 A buck’s velvet antler is about 80 percent protein Deer antlers are the fastest-growing animal tissue on earth. That’s not surprising when you consider that they only have about 200 days to grow antlers from start to finish. And when you consider that the “velvet” antlers (the growing antler prior to hardening) is about 80% collagen (a protein), you can understand why having the huge tonnage of highly digestible protein PowerPlant provides readily available to your deer is so important during the spring and summer — especially when you consider how downright stingy Mother Nature can be with protein. Research has shown that bucks need about 16% to 18% protein in their diets to maximize antler size. Some naturally occurring forages have protein levels of only about 10%, and most are far lower in protein. And to make matters even worse, most natural forages are highly palatable only when they’re young, and they can become tough and stemmy as they mature, and therefore less digestible by deer. The result is a protein shortfall that acts as a roadblock to maximizing antler size.

You Do the Math! The bottom line is that it takes huge amounts of protein for bucks to grow antlers within the short span of 200 days during the spring and summer; and while naturally occurring forages usually provide enough protein for bucks to grow antlers, rarely do they provide anywhere near enough protein for bucks to grow the biggest antlers they can. That’s why it’s so important to supplement nutrition available to your deer with the abundant, high protein forage that PowerPlant provides. PowerPlant is purpose built to establish quickly, survive grazing better, and provide maximum tonnage of high-protein forage that stays highly palatable right when deer need it most: during the spring and summer. And here’s a reminder: Some of our customers have missed PowerPlant in past years due to limited availability, so don’t delay in booking your PowerPlant for this spring! W

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PROTEIN Separating Fact From Fiction By Matt Harper Photos by Dustin Reid

y day job is working in the livestock feed industry, and an email I received from a colleague detailed how a poultry production company wanted to move part of its production to an all-vegetarian diet for their chickens. You might say, “Well why not, seems like everywhere you look now there is something vegetarian.� 56 WHITETAIL NEWS

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However, I know a little bit about chickens and the “natural” food chickens eat. Basically, chickens eat everything, including worms, bugs and even each other if you let them. Yes, chickens eat seeds, plant and other vegetation but they also eat animal-based food stuffs. In fact, if you remove it from the diet, feed efficiency will likely drop. So why would a chicken company want to do this? Simple, misinformed ideologist(s) think that chickens fed vegetarian diets will be healthier, happier or some other kind of nonsense. But in reality, science would tell you that the natural food of a chicken is a combination of plantand animal-based food sources and that combination creates the healthiest diet. In the deer hunting world, there is also no shortage of misinformation. When it comes to food plots, or more specifically deer nutrition, protein has become the topic that needs a more detailed explanation. Several years ago, people started talking about how protein plays an important role in deer nutrition and, in fact, it does. However, the topic of protein became so popular you would think it was the answer to everything. If you want bigger deer, feed high levels of protein in the diet. If you want your deer to maintain themselves in the wintertime, feeding more protein is the most important factor. High levels of protein in the diet will help bucks grow bigger antlers. If you are having trouble sighting in your new rifle scope, feed your deer more protein, and you will be zeroed in in no time. So which of the above statements are true and which are false? Honestly, the answer might surprise you. So you might be asking yourself, “I thought the title to this article was how protein was big-time important,” and the reality is that protein is indeed extremely important. But, I think that to understand the role of protein and just how important it is in deer nutrition, you need to know what protein is, how it works and why it is needed in a deer’s diet. Then, when someone starts talking about protein in a deer nutrition conversation, you can separate fact from fiction and make better decisions for your deer management program. Proteins are organic molecules made of up of numerous combinations of amino acid chains and polypeptides. Example of these amino acids are lysine, methionine, cystine, leucine and others. Amino acids form various complexes to create specific proteins used for countless biological functions. In fact, protein is found in nearly all tissue and has functions throughout the body. When most people think of protein, they think of muscle and bone and, yes, protein is a major component of both and needed for growth and maintenance of muscle and bone. If you want to build your muscle mass, you better have protein in your diet. Want to grow or maintain healthy bone structure, again, you need protein in the diet. But protein has other equally vital functions. For example, protein plays a major role in the immune system, fighting off diseases in the form of antibodies. Protein also plays a major role in metabolism in the form of enzymes. Enzymes function to break down compounds for digestion of food stuffs. Protein is a major component of blood, which is the body’s nutrient and oxygen transport system. Protein performs all these functions and more in whitetail deer. Take any one of these functions away and you will have a sub-par deer herd, if you have a deer herd at all. However, there are certain biological activities related to protein that receive more attention than others in the deer world. At the top of the list is antler growth. Antlers are essentially a part of the skeletal system that actively grow each and every year. So in other words, growing antlers equates to growing bone.

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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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Research has shown that bucks need 16 percent to 18 percent protein in their overall diet to maximize antler growth while maintaining other protein biological functions. We already discussed how protein is essential for bone growth, but how does it work? A velvet antler is composed primarily of protein, and protein accounts for roughly 80 percent of a growing antler. Collagen, which is a structural protein, forms a matrix or in essence the protein framework of the antler. As the antler matures, mineral is deposited on this protein matrix eventually forming a hardened antler. But collagen is not the only protein involved in antler growth. The velvet skin layer of the growing antler supplies large of amounts of protein-rich blood to the deer’s growing antler, providing the essential nutrients needed for growth. In addition to antler growth, protein is vital for building and maintaining the muscle mass bucks rely on for breeding and survival. For does, protein plays a major role in lactation. Doe milk is rich in protein, in fact, far more protein-dense than cow’s milk. Does require high levels of protein in the diet to produce milk which in turn affects the health and growth of the fawns she is rearing. Protein levels in a doe’s diet before breeding can also affect conception rates, and protein levels during gestation will influence fawn birth weights and in turn, fawn survivability. This is especially true for the last trimester of gestation, when the largest percentage of fetal growth occurs. Maybe one of the most overlooked segments of the deer herd is young, immature deer that still need protein for muscle, bone, skin and overall body growth. Mature deer require protein for maintenance, but deer that have not reached maturity are still using high levels of protein to grow and develop a mature frame. This is particularly evident in bucks when comparing antler size between 2-1/2- and 31/2-year-old bucks. In their third year, bucks reach skeletal maturity so many of the nutrients, including protein that was needed for skeletal growth at 2-1/2 can now be used for antler growth. This accounts for the significant increase in antler size between 2-1/2- and 3-1/2year-old bucks. The same is true for 3-1/2 to 4-1/2-year-olds in that bucks are nearing mature muscle and body size and less protein is utilized for body growth and can thus be used for antler growth. Providing protein for growing deer can lead to a bigger, stronger, healthier mature animal that typically results in bigger mature bucks and does that raise bigger, healthier fawns. So how can you be sure that the deer on your property have the protein they need to maximize their genetic potential? The answer is to provide high-quality, highly digestible, high levels of protein at the appropriate times of the year when deer need it most. Research has shown that bucks require 16 percent to 18 percent protein in their overall diet to maximize antler growth while maintaining other protein biological functions. Does require roughly the same amount with most researchers agreeing that doe protein requirements for late gestation and lactation are a bit higher with an 18 percent-plus protein requirement. Little research has been done on the protein requirements for growth of immature deer, but one could theorize that the protein requirements would be similar to if not higher than 18 percent. For yearlings, I have even heard protein levels as high as 20 per-


/ Vol. 23, No. 3

cent are optimal. The issue is that protein levels in most natural food sources fall under the requirement levels with numbers ranging from 5 to 6 percent to 10 to 12 percent. That might not seem like much but just a percentage or two of protein in the diet can have dramatic effects on growth and production. To solve this problem, food plots that produce high levels of quality protein can be used to help bring the overall protein percentage in the diet up to a more desired level. Even with lush, protein-rich food plots available, deer will still consume natural food sources along with the food plots. This is over-simplified but let’s say that you have a natural food source that provides a protein average of 8 percent. If you plant a food plot like Imperial Whitetail Clover that can provide a protein content of up to 30 percent, and the deer eat half their daily intake from natural food sources and half from the food plot, the overall dietary protein percentage would be around 19 percent. Further, protein requirements change depending on the time of year and the corresponding physiological stage of bucks and does. Bucks require high protein levels at the beginning and throughout the antler-growing cycle. When antler growth stops, protein is still needed but requirements drop significantly. Likewise, protein requirements for does increase as gestation progresses and continues to be high throughout lactation. Once fawns are weaned, doe protein requirements drop. So this means that it is vital to have protein available as early as possible in the spring and continue to provide high levels of quality protein throughout the summer into early fall. This can be accomplished by planting a perennial food plot such as Imperial Clover, Edge, Chicory Plus, Extreme or AlfaRack Plus that will green up quickly in the spring, oftentimes before other vegetation due to their cold-tolerance traits, and they maintain a high protein level throughout spring and summer. Many other perennial food plots might reach a high protein level but either do so long after antler growth starts and then quickly fall in protein content as the food plot matures. Along with a perennial base, spring and summer annuals such as PowerPlant are great options to provide additional diverse sources and lots of tonnage of high-quality protein. Proper maintenance of your food plots such as mowing perennial plots and proper application of lime and fertilizer can help ensure that your food plot produces the quantity of protein you desire. It is also important to remember that protein level in food plots is one thing but overall protein tonnage is equally vital. Choosing the right food plot planting and performing proper maintenance will ensure productive food plot growth rates which equals tonnage. If a deer requires 18 percent protein and is eating 8 pounds of total food a day during the 200-day antler-growing cycle, that buck needs 288 pounds of protein during these 200 days. There are certain situations, such as if your region has a late spring green-up, when you should consider supplementing your food plots with nutritional supplements such as Cutting Edge Initiate. Initiate is formulated with high levels of protein as well as energy, plus minerals and vitamins designed specifically for the needs of deer during late winter through early spring. (Check your local game laws before using a nutritional supplement.) So the next time you find yourself in a conversation regarding protein in the diet of deer or see a bag of some deer product touting protein/nutrition, you can have a discerning viewpoint and a critical eye. Protein is without question a major factor in deer nutrition but only when applied properly and not just for antler growth. W www.whitetailinstitute.com

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

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Springtime is Primetime… For Perennial Food Plot Work By Whitetail Institute Staff

ven though deer hunting season is over, don’t make the mistake of forgetting about your perennial food plots. Controlling grassy and broadleaf weeds is usually easy, and you should do it in a timely manner to ensure that your perennials remain as lush and nutritious as possible, and that they last for as many years as possible. That’s why the Whitetail Institute offers Arrest and Slay, two herbicides specifically designed for food plots. In this article, we’ll show you how to get the best results from Arrest and Slay. We’ll be talking about spraying herbicides as part of perennial forage maintenance, so it makes sense to begin by covering a few basic terms you’ll need to know when discussing Arrest, Slay and any other herbicide.

Weed Terminology

label in all matters relating to the use of any herbicide. Otherwise, you may get results you didn’t anticipate, and none of them are good. You may get less than optimum control on weeds, or even damage your forage plants or the environment. So again, read and follow all label instructions on any herbicide. “Control” and “Suppress.” These are terms you’ll see on herbicide labels, and they do not mean the same thing. The difference describes the effect the herbicide is designed to have on the ability of a treated weed to compete with a crop. When using herbicides to maintain perennial forage stands, “Control” means destruction or damage of a weed to the point that it can no longer compete with the forage at all (a/k/a “kill”). “Suppress” means that the weed isn’t destroyed, but it is compromised enough to limit its ability to compete with the forage plants. “Selective” and “Non-selective” Herbicides. Selective herbicides such as Whitetail Institute Slay and Arrest are specifically designed to control or suppress specific weeds in specific types of forage stands without harming the forage plants when used according to the herbicide label instructions. The label on selective herbicides lists crops that have been proven appropriate to spray with the herbicide (“listed crops”) and weeds the herbicide is designed to control or suppress (“listed weeds”). Non-selective herbicides such as glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup-type herbicides, are those that may control or suppress any plant they come into contact with. “Foliar Uptake” and “Root Uptake.” Some herbicides, for instance Arrest and glyphosate, are foliar-uptake, meaning that their

As shown below, the term “weed” is used to describe any plant that’s growing where it isn’t wanted. When more specificity is needed, “weeds” can then be categorized based on certain specific characteristics: “Weed” — Any plant growing where it isn’t wanted “Grassy Weed” — a weed that look like grass “Vining Weed” — a weed that grows in a vine “Woody Weed” — a weed that has a woody stem “Sapling” — a young, small tree with a thin trunk diameter “Broadleaf Weed” — any weed not in another subcategory

Herbicide Terminology Herbicide “Label.” This is the official set of instructions and advice that you’ll find attached to every herbicide. The label will tell you whether or not the herbicide is appropriate for your intended use, how to mix the spray solution, apply it, and dispose of any leftover solution — everything you need to know about the herbicide. It’s the only source of information that you know is absolutely accurate, and I can’t stress this too strongly: Make sure you consult the herbicide


/ Vol. 23, No. 3


only path into a weed is through the weed’s actively growing leaf. Herbicides such as Slay are both foliar-uptake and root-uptake, the latter meaning that weeds can also take the herbicide in through soil activity. “Small-Weed” Herbicides. Arrest and Slay are within the class of selective herbicides referred to as “small-weed” herbicides because they’re designed to provide optimum control of listed weeds when the weeds are still very young. In most cases, Arrest and Slay can still suppress or control listed weeds even after they’ve matured, but it may be harder and/or take multiple applications to do so.

Arrest and Slay: General Information Arrest is designed to control most kinds of grassy weeds, and it can be used in any Whitetail Institute perennial forage stand, and in any other clover or alfalfa stand. Slay is designed to control a few types of grassy weeds and most kinds of broadleaf weeds, and it can be used in Imperial Whitetail Clover and in any other clover or alfalfa stand. Arrest and Slay can also be used in other types of forage stands, but not all, so if you are planning to spray Arrest and/or Slay in a forage stand other than the types specified above, check the herbicide label to make sure the forage is a listed crop, or call the Whitetail Institute for advice at (800) 688-3030 before you spray. Surefire Seed Oil. Surefire Seed Oil is an “adjuvant” (something you add to the spray tank) specifically for Arrest and Slay. It is vegetable based and even contains an anti-foaming agent to help you mix the spray tank correctly. Surefire is strongly recommended for use with Arrest to help it control grassy weeds that are perennial or mature. You must add an adjuvant such as Surefire to the Slay spray tank for Slay to work. Ammonium Sulfate (Optional for Slay). The Slay label says that high-nitrogen liquid fertilizers such as ammonium sulfate “may be applied” as part of the Slay spray solution. In other words, it’s okay to include them in the Slay spray tank, but not mandatory. The purpose for which such fertilizers are added to herbicide spray solutions is to combat the negative effects of hard water on a herbicide’s efficacy — to help buffer this effect and allow the solution to stay longer in a form that will provide optimum control. If you decide to add ammonium sulfate to the Slay spray tank, make sure it is “spray grade” so that it will flow through your sprayer nozzles without clogging them.

Practical Tips Remember, before you use Arrest or Slay, be sure that the forage you’ll be maintaining is a listed crop and the weeds you want to control or suppress are listed weeds. Once you know that Arrest and/or Slay is appropriate for your intended use, the following steps will help you get the most out of them.

Timing the Spray Applications Time your Arrest application first, immediately after spring green-up. The number-one priority in maintaining perennial food plots, other than having proper soil pH, is controlling grass. If you don’t control grass in a timely manner, it can take over the plot in a hurry. Since Arrest is a foliar-uptake herbicide, it should be sprayed only when grassy weeds are actively growing. And since Arrest is a small-

weed herbicide, spray before the weeds mature their roots, which most grassy weeds do once they reach 6–12 inches in height, for best results. Arrest can still control or suppress most grassy weeds after they mature, but it may take multiple applications several weeks apart to do so. With Arrest, optimum spray timing depends on the age of the grass. Arrest can be sprayed even on newly planted listed crops that are still very young without chemically harming them. I say “chemically” because you don’t want to otherwise harm your forage seedlings by walking or driving across then and breaking their roots. (Let common sense be your guide on that.) With Slay, you must wait to spray newly planted food plots until the forage stand has established. Clover, for example, should not be sprayed with Slay until all the leaves are unfolded, which generally happens once the clover plants reach about three inches in height. Time your Slay application at least three days before or three days after the Arrest application. If you spray Slay within three days of an Arrest treatment, it will reduce the effectiveness of the Arrest application. Also, while Arrest is strictly a foliar-uptake herbicide, Slay is both foliar-uptake and root-uptake, so you can spray Slay a little before or after spring green-up. Again, be sure to add an adjuvant such as Surefire Seed Oil — highly recommended for use with Arrest, and mandatory for Slay. Cleaning the Sprayer after Use. Mix one quart of household ammonia per 25 gallons of water, and run it through the sprayer after use. This helps ensure optimum sprayer performance and minimize the risk of herbicide contamination that might injure desirable plants on a subsequent spray trip.

Put Safety First All herbicide labels provide solid advice about the importance of wearing protective clothing when handling and applying herbicides. The most important basic items include chemical-resistant gloves, eye protection, long-sleeve shirt, long pants, and boots. Even though Arrest and Slay are among some of the least toxic herbicides, be sure to follow the label’s advice about protective gear — they’re on the label for a reason. That’s why the Whitetail Institute’s Weed and Herbicide Scientist, Dr. Carol Johnson, takes along what he calls his “possibles bag” any time he sprays herbicides. His kit includes several gallons of potable water for clean-up, and emergency bathing in the event of a spill or exposure due to a ruptured spray line, as well as soap, household ammonia, an eye-flushing kit, and extra personal protective clothing.

Final Thoughts Hopefully, this article has helped clear up any confusion you may have had about herbicide use in maintaining existing forage stands. Again, the herbicide label is the only official source of information about Arrest, Slay or any other herbicide. The Arrest and Slay labels and an FAQ are available on the Whitetail Institute’s website at www.whitetailinstitute.com/products/herbicides.html. And remember, if you still have questions after reading the Arrest or Slay label, call the Whitetail Institute for advice before you spray. The Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants are available to assist you at (800) 688-3030, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday. W

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Vol. 23, No. 3 /


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

Lime and Management of Soil Acidity in Food Plots “Lime does not cost, it pays. Don’t just ignore acid soils, lime with something!” — Dr. Wiley Johnson hen I first started my part-time writing assignment with Whitetail Institute, I asked about the most common production-related problems in forages planted for food plots. One of the most commonly encountered problems that customers reported was soil acidity. But first, why is a weed scientist talking about managing soil acidity? While in graduate school at North Carolina State University, I was trained as an agronomist first, weed scientist second. Later, realworld experiences early in my career conditioned me to think as an agronomist first, weed scientist second. If the crop looks like garbage because of soil acidity issues, then why control weeds? To readers who are chemists, chemical engineers, or certainly soil scientists, this discussion might be laughable. To those who have no interest or training in chemistry, please be patient. This will end with a layman’s explanation that ties together soil chemistry and managing food plots. Soil acidity is the quantity of hydrogen ions in the soil. The universal indicator of acidity is pH, which ranges from 0 (strongly acid) to 14 (strongly basic). The pH value is a negative logarithm (sorry). This means that a soil with pH 5.5 is 10 times more acidic than a soil with a pH of 6.5. To further illustrate this significance, refer to Figure 1. This site is in Montgomery County, Ga., and was in timber for more than 30 years until harvest in 2008. The pH of the soil was 4.6, which is nearly 100 times more acidic than a pH of 6.5. Acid soils like the one I described are products of the soil mineral structure and our humid environment. In a natural setting, soils in the eastern United States tend to be acidic and constantly drift towards an acidic state. Man’s land-use patterns remove much of the soil’s limited buffering capacity and pH rapidly changes. This means that acidic soils might quickly respond to liming to neutralize acidity


/ Vol. 23, No. 3

Figure 1 . This site in Montgomery County, GA is heavily infested with red sorrel, a weed that thrives in acidic soils. The soil at this site had a pH of 4.6. This site had been in timber for over 30 years, until harvest in 2008. This illustrates the natural tendency of soils in the eastern U. S. to be acidic.

Soil pH

Figure 2. This graph illustrates the relative availability of essential soil nutrients at varying pH values. Note the declining availability of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, calcium, and magnesium as the soil becomes more acidic (lower pH). www.whitetailinstitute.com

but then quickly revert back to the natural acidic state. Managed agricultural fields are typically limed once every three years to maintain a desirable pH. Specific nutrients that are essential for plant growth and availability varies according to soil pH. The graph in Figure 2 illustrates this phenomenon. For the previously mentioned soil, notice how little nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, calcium and magnesium are available to plants at pH 4.6. It is impossible for plants to adequately use these nutrients in acidic soils. In other words, you can apply excessive fertilizer and plants still remain nutrient deficient if the soil is highly acidic. Aluminum is a common mineral in soil structure, and acidic soils increase aluminum availability to toxic levels for plants. So we have a situation in which forages are simultaneously starved and poisoned because of acid soils. There are three primary soil amendments that neutralize soil acidity: calcium oxide (quick lime), calcium hydroxide (slaked lime) and carbonates (calcium- or magnesium-carbonate). Each material has advantages and disadvantages. Calcium and magnesium are essential nutrients for plants but do not neutralize soil acidity. They are simply carriers for the oxide, hydroxide and carbonate, which neutralize soil acidity. Calcium oxide is a synthesized material available as a bagged powder. Calcium oxide is highly reactive with hydrogen ions and that reaction neutralizes acidity. Of all liming materials, calcium oxide is chemically the quickest and most efficient neutralizer of soil acidity (Table 1). However, calcium oxide is a caustic irritant, messy to apply and tends to form clumps when applied to soil. If you look at the Material Data Safety Sheet for calcium oxide, workers need to wear gog-

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Vol. 23, No. 3 /


gles, gloves and a chemical-resistant apron, and avoid breathing calcium oxide dust. Calcium hydroxide is synthesized from calcium oxide. Calcium hydroxide is also a caustic irritant and equally miserable to handle. Despite these issues, calcium hydroxide quickly and efficiently neutralizes soil acidity, but not quite as efficiently as calcium oxide. Carbonates are by far the most commonly used liming materials, reasonably benign to handlers and the standard by which the other liming materials are compared (Table 1). There are two forms of carbonate used to neutralize soil acidity; calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. Since limestone is a bulk material that is mined, product availability is influenced by which material is mined at the closest quarry. In terms of neutralizing soil pH, there is minimal difference between calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. Remember, the carbonate portion neutralizes soil acidity. In southern Georgia, dolomitic limestone is the local liming material that contains a naturally occurring blend of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. Mined carbonate limestone is ground to a desired size which is regulated to ensure quality control. Smaller limestone particles neutralize acidity quicker than larger particles. By design, bulk carbonate limestone has particles of varying sizes. This works to growers’ advantage by extending the availability of carbonates over many months; an ad hoc time-release feature. Some of the finer limestone is processed and marketed for specialty uses such as in landscape, residential turf and golf courses. One of the specialty products is pelleted limestone. Pelleted limestone is finely ground calcitic- or dolomitic-limestone that has been reformulated into small pellets using a water soluble polymer that quickly dissolves to release the finely ground material. Figure 3 compares the visual appearances of both liming materials. What is the best material to neutralize soil acidity in food plots? Use whichever material you want, but use something only if the soil test calls for amending with a liming compound. All of these materials will neutralize soil acidity. However, there is a substantial cost differential and there is the issue of hazard to handlers (i.e. calcium oxide and calcium hydroxide). Bulk limestone is the least costly. In my re-

Figure 3. Bulk dolomitic limestone is on the left and pelleted dolomitic limestone is on the right. Bulk limestone is mined and ground to variable-size particles. Pelleted limestone is finely ground and then pelleted using a polymer for ease of application.


/ Vol. 23, No. 3


Relative neutralizing value (%)1

Calcium oxide


Calcium hydroxide


Magnesium carbonate


Calcium carbonate



All neutralizing values are relative to calcium carbonate (calcitic limestone).

gion, bulk dolomite is $36 per ton and that includes cost to spread on agricultural-scale fields. Bagged and pelleted dolomite costs $4.25 per 40-pound bag, which is $212.50 per ton. There is a very large price differential between bulk and bagged lime. Yet, I am a hobbyist food plotter and have been in situations where bulk lime was not readily available and I needed a liming material. Fortunately, the food plot was small and bagged pelleted lime was a reasonable option. I am certain there are many readers that have been in similar quandaries. I would like to offer a couple of suggestions that might make bulk limestone a feasible option. 1. Hire a dump truck to haul several tons of bulk lime and store the material at a convenient location on your hunting property. Bulk dolomitic limestone in my area is the texture of beach sand (not the fluffy powder of some products). Bulk dolomite is stored in massive outdoor piles at fertilizer dealerships, so it easily tolerates storage on your hunting property for an extended period. And, there are cheap poly-tarps that can be used to cover the lime pile. 2. Ask the fertilizer dealer if they can sell you bulk lime by the 5gallon bucket. It does not hurt to ask, and I am betting that will be far less costly than the same weight of bagged-pelleted limestone. Who does not keep a stash of 5-gallon buckets, the duct tape of sportsmen? To summarize my recently evolved perspective on materials to neutralize soil acidity, I need to tell this story. I am a member of a longstanding faculty hunting club that hunts three days a year at a dairy in northeastern Georgia. This is a commercial-scale dairy, and like any other dairy, it grows its own hay and has pastures for grazing. Recently, I was lounging around camp midday when a gravel truck appeared and dumped an enormous pile of calcitic limestone. One of the dairymen came by and told me he hired a local truck driver to bring a load of calcitic limestone from the closest quarry (nearly 75 miles away) on a dead-head run back home. That was the closest source of bulk lime since that part of Georgia has only a small remnant of commercial agriculture. Then it dawned on me: Neighboring food plot hobbyists frequently have the problem — very little local supply of bulk limestone. Despite my obvious personal preference of using bulk limestone, my final recommendation is a modified statement my father, Dr. Wiley Johnson, made about liming: “Lime does not cost, it pays. Don’t just ignore acid soils, lime with something!” W www.whitetailinstitute.com

REAL HUNTERS DO THE TALKING about Whitetail Institute products… (Continued from page 27)


e purchased 40 acres of woods a few months before Katrina took everything we owned in 2005. The land sat idle for a couple of years except for the two small food plots we cut out of the thick brush and mixed trees. We planted Whitetail Institute products from the beginning and our trail cameras showed bigger deer every year. On a wet January morning with temps in the 60s he came out at about 8 a.m. 200 yards away. As he walked through the Chicory Plus with one thing on his mind, I tried to stop shaking and get the crosshairs settled on his

220-pound body all the while knowing this was the big deer we had seen on our cameras the past two years. We called him “Mr. Big Stuff”. BAM, true shot, and it all happened in less than 60 seconds. You work hard for years using the best products available and it pays off. Patience, right products and hard work. Yah! The products that have done the best for us in Southern Louisiana are Imperial Whitetail Clover, Chicory Plus and Edge. Thanks Whitetail Institute for making this lady very happy, happy, happy!!

Patricia Bates – Louisiana


set out eight years ago to make my property a wildlife paradise, and with the help of Whitetail Institute products I’m seeing great results. This is one of my four small food plots. On the left half I planted Imperial Whitetail Clover, and on the right I planted Imperial PowerPlant. The pictures speak for themselves. If it’s not Imperial Whitetail, it’s not the same.

Michael Turner – North Carolina


ere are some pictures of our most recent bucks taken over Whitetail Institute products. Since starting using the Whitetail Institute products in 1990 to present, and also following the expert advice of the Whitetail Institute staff, we have now taken over 20 bucks to our taxidermist. He’s glad we use Whitetail Institute products! The White-

Send Us Your Photos! tail Institute food plots products are simply the best and 30-06 Mineral Plus Protein is awesome too. Keep up the good work, and thanks for your support and advice through the years Whitetail Institute. Our 10 year old grandson Bryce connected on his first deer, an 8-pointer, over Tall Tine Tubers. He says, “Thanks Whitetail Institute!” When talking to store associates at retail outlets, the associates always tell me that their customers have the best success with Whitetail Institute products. I guess Whitetail Institute’s hard work and efforts are obvious.

David McGlone – Michigan

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

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

Vol. 23, No. 3 /


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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. 3 /


Katelyn Knapp – Illinois I am 9 years old. Last summer my Memaw and Papa took me to hunter safety course. The following October, I got to hunt in the Illinois October youth hunt on opening day. I was sitting with my dad hunting over a field that my Papa had planted with Tall Tine Tubers. About an hour after sunrise, a doe came out. My dad started talking to me to make me calm. I was able to harvest the deer with one shot. I was so excited I called my Memaw, Papa and Mom and they came to help me get my first deer out of the field.

Bryan Hoover – Michigan What more can I say, his smile tells the whole story! But as a proud father of this 9-year-old, I will take the opportunity to brag a little. My son’s name is Wyatt, this is his first deer, and I couldn’t be any happier. We live in the Keweenaw Peninsula of the upper peninsula of Michigan and as you can see from the snow, our winters are harsh. The planting season is short, and deer have adapted by growing large to handle deep snow. We did not weigh the doe, but as you can see from the picture she is big, rather common for our area. I have a food plot planted with Winter-Greens and Imperial Clover. This was the last day of the November firearm season, and several deer were still digging for the Winter-Greens. In our area, due to the shortage of deer; I have not shot a doe in several years. But I remember my first deer, and it happened to be a doe as well. As in many unfortunate cases, I did not have a father to share that moment with. I however did have my uncle Mike. This story is about a father’s joy of sharing an unforgettable experience with his son and an opportunity for me to say thanks Uncle Mike. Keep up the good work dads and any other mentor that takes a child into the woods, you will create memories that will go on for future generations. By the way, Wyatt shot the doe at about 40 yards using my first rifle.


/ Vol. 23, No. 3

Carol Metzgar – New Jersey Pictured here is Haley Lusby, from New Jersey. Together with her father, Steve, Haley helped seed their food plots with AlfaRack, PowerPlant and Tall Tine Tubers. Next year they plan on adding Imperial Whitetail Clover and Chicory Plus. Haley shot her very first deer the first day out, at their food plot!


Frank Maas – Wisconsin It was the first day of Wisconsin’s two-day, youth-only firearms deer hunt. I decided to take my 10-year-old grandson Peter on his first deer hunt. And now that I think about it, this was his first hunt of any kind. I’d instructed Peter on the proper and safe use of firearms during the summer, and he did well shooting a semi-auto .22 and a boltaction .243 at paper targets. We also spent a lot of time going over photos of deer in various hunting magazines so I could explain to Peter the best spot to aim on a whitetail from several angles. Peter could take part in this deer hunt thanks to Wisconsin’s youth-mentoring program. It allows for youngsters to get a taste of hunting — and see whether they enjoy it — before committing to a gun safety program at age 12. Part of the requirements is the mentor — in this case, me — sits with the young hunter, and only the child has a valid tag for the hunt. Because Peter’s tag was good for a buck or doe, we had high hopes of getting a shot as we headed for a 2-acre food plot I call “The Little Field.” I’d planted about three-fourths of the field into soybeans and corn last spring, but the north side of the field — the area best covered by my large permanent treestand — I’d planted with Whitetail Institute Double-Cross during the third week of July. Our area received a decent amount of rain during late July and August, so the Double-Cross field contained thick clover and 8- to 12-inch-tall brassicas. While I’ve planted many different types of food plot blends through the years, my No. 1 favorite is Double-Cross, or as I like to call it, “The Good Stuff.” It really draws deer during the hunting season. Late in the afternoon, I spotted a deer approaching the field and said, “Peter, get ready.” The buck stepped into the Double-Cross section of field, and immediately his head went down to feed. The range was 80 yards, and the buck was broadside. Peter’s excitement level had to be off the charts because I know mine was! With his .243 resting on shooting sticks, Peter lowered his eye to the scope, and I whispered, “Take him.” But Peter didn’t shoot. For many seconds I waited for the boom, but the shot never came. Was Peter having first-hunt jitters? I didn’t want to make Peter more nervous by giving any more instruction — after all, he’d proven to me that he knew where to aim — so I simply stayed quiet and hoped. The buck walked farther into the field before again stopping to eat. The range was still 80 yards, and the buck was still standing broadside. Why wasn’t Peter shooting? Boom! The gun finally barked and I’ll never forget this: One second the buck was standing upright, and the next his hooves were pointing to the clouds. As Peter grabbed onto the antlers, I asked jokingly, “So why did you take so long to shoot?” “I thought I’d flipped off the safety,” Peter said, “but every time I pulled the trigger, the gun didn’t go off. I finally figured out that I’d moved the safety lever only part of the way. When I flipped it all the way forward and pulled the trigger, I got him!” Yes, Peter, you got him. And you made this 75-year-old deer hunter the proudest grandpa in Wisconsin.

Linda Polowy – Pennsylvania We have a small farm in Pennsylvania. I am writing because I just started hunting and this past October I got my first deer. My husband has been planting Imperial Whitetail Clover food plots for about four years. We have seen some really nice bucks and this past year the herd was great. On Oct. 6 I had been sitting for about an hour. Watching about 13 does grazing with a couple of young bucks, I looked to my right and low and behold this buck was coming my way. He’d take five steps eat and repeat. I saw the rack and told myself, this is it! He came to about 30 yard directly in front of me and I told myself he’s the one. I never looked at the rack again until he was down. I shot, he jumped, headed for brush and only went about another 30 yards and he was down. This is pretty good for a 58-year-old woman who just started hunting with her husband. He’s a 10-pointer. Thanks so much Whitetail Institute!

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

Vol. 23, No. 3 /


W H I T E TA I L I N S T I T U T E A P PA R E L CAPS All our Whitetail Institute caps and visors are made from top quality cotton, and feature detailed embroidered logos and graphics. Caps: $9.95, Visors: $8.95 (Please add $5.50 for shipping and handling.)

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SHORT & LONG SLEEVE TEES All our Whitetail Institute tees are made from 100% preshrunk cotton, and feature screen-printed back and breast pocket designs. Short Sleeve Tees: S-2X: $13.95, 3X: $16.55, 4X: $17.85, 5X: $19.15; Long Sleeve Tees: S-2X: $15.95, 3X: $18.55, 4X: $19.85, 5X: $21.15 (Please add $5.50 for shipping and handling.)

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Whitetail News Vol 23.3  

Whitetail News Volume 23.3

Whitetail News Vol 23.3  

Whitetail News Volume 23.3