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In This Issue… 28

Pipeline Benefits Wildlife Habitat By Jon Cooner

34

Whitetail Institute Perennials

40

Whitetail Institute Forage Products: The Value Factor

44

Winter-Greens Prevail in Minnesota

By Ben Jennings

44

By Jon Cooner By Bill Marchel

48

Features 6

6

Grow and Kill the Biggest Bucks Possible

By Craig Dougherty

54

Habits of Successful Food Plotters

By Gerald Almy The explosion of record-book bucks entered in the Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young record books is no coincidence. The timing runs parallel with the founding of the Whitetail Institute of North America.

58

BowStand and Secret Spot: A Tale of Two Food Plots

10 Customer Service, Foundation of Whitetail Institute for Over 25 Years

64

By Charles J. Alsheimerl When you call the Whitetail Institute of North America you don’t have to press 0 for the operator…you get a knowledgeable consultant. The Whitetail Institute staff has more than 200 years of combined experience planting food plots and helping others with their efforts.

14 Food Plot Location and Design… Planning Food Plot Goals to Attract, Draw and Hold Deer By Brandon Gaines Whether you have a lot of hunting land or just a small tract, Whitetail Institute forage products are specifically designed to help you meet three food plot goals: to attract, draw and hold whitetails.

24

Share the Know-How… and transform hunting neighbors into property managers

22 Customers Demand Chicory 24 Successful Deer Management Starts with Large, Healthy Fawns By John J. Ozoga Many factors can influence a fawn’s prospects for survival, as well as general well-being and ultimate deer stature. However, the mother’s level of nutrition during the last trimester of pregnancy is the most important factor governing the newborn fawn’s survival prospects.

®

By Joe Blake

By Scott Bestul

Planning and Planting Food Plots for the Rut By Bob Humphrey

70

Simple Soil Test Helps Ensure Top-Notch Food Plots By Tracy Breen

Departments 4 20

A Message from Ray Scott Field Testers Report Stories and Photos

32

Record Book Bucks Stories and Photos

55 76

Food Plot Planting Dates First Deer — The Future of our Sport

Whitetail Institute OFFICERS AND STAFF

Ray Scott Founder and President Wilson Scott Vice President of Operations Steve Scott Vice President, Executive Editor William Cousins Operations Manager Wayne Hanna, Ph.D. Agronomist & Director of Forage Research Mark Trudeau 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 Clare Hudson Northeast Sales Manager Dawn McGough Office Manager Mary Jones EDI & Invetory Specialist Teri Hudson Office Administrator Accounts Receivable Kim Collins Internet Customer Service 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. 24, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 3


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

A Tale of Generations I can only imagine what environment my youngest grandson will inherit. If the hearts and minds — and practices — of the people who support the Whitetail Institute and the philosophies it stands for prevail, it will be bright indeed.

I

have before me two great photos. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but these are worth more than words to me. I am prejudiced for sure, because the photos are of two of my grandsons — one 21 years old and the other approaching just 3 years of age. The older grandson, Weston, is in the photo with his friend Tucker Helms and a nice 8-point he took a few years ago. The second is of my three-year-old grandson, John-David, as he helps his father prepare to plant Pure Attraction in a viewing field near his home out here in Pintlala. The little guy doggedly followed the spreader, tripping over the furrows, until the job was complete. If his father has any influence, he'll be a deer hunter. These photos really got me to thinking about the evolution of deer hunting and the state of the sport today. Two things I’m sure of: you were unlikely to kill a record book buck in 1988 before I founded the Whitetail Institute of North America and you couldn't have purchased a scientific blend of forages designed specifically for attracting, growing and holding better quality deer.

My son Steve, Whitetail Institute vice president, and I both participated in those days of Alabama deer hunting three to four decades ago and it's entertaining to consider all the changes in the sport. If you're Steve's age or older, just think about the new technology in everything from clothing to equipment — warmer jackets and boots, scent-reducing products, scent-enhancing products, buck calls, better archery equipment, better scopes and binoculars. But for me the most profound change has been in the overall improved state of deer hunting thanks to improved nutrition and better deer management which has been the mission and message of the Whitetail Institute for more than 25 years. Gerald Almy agrees in his article on page six stating it's no coincidence that there has been a significant increase in the number of record-book bucks taken since the founding of the Whitetail Institute. And Almy and I agree that knowledge — education — is at the heart of the improved state of whitetail deer and hunting. We knew over 25 years ago Whitetail Institute products had

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to be backed up with plenty of education for them to be of maximum benefit. That was our mission when we published our first edition of Whitetail News. As with every issue, I'm proud to say there's not an article in this issue that will not add to your knowhow in some form or fashion. The News succeeded beyond our wildest expectations, creating a generation of hunters and land managers who are more knowledgeable, more responsible and more successful than ever before. And that brings me back to those photos. My oldest grandson is a younggeneration beneficiary of these past 25 plus years of progress. I can only imagine what environment my youngest grandson will inherit. If the hearts and minds — and practices — of the people who support the Whitetail Institute and the philosophies it stands for prevail, it will be bright indeed.

Ray Scott’s oldest grandson, Weston Epperson, 21, and his friend Tucker Helms, display a handsome Alabama buck Weston took several years ago.

Ray Scott’s youngest grandson John-David, three, helps his father load a spreader with Pure Attraction to attract deer to a viewing plot near his home in the country.

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Vol. 24, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 5


STUNNING INCREASE IN RECORD-BOOK BUCKS IS NO COINCIDENCE

Grow and Kill the Biggest Buck Possible uestion: Have you checked the trends in the Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young record books during the past 20 or 30 years? If you have, you’ve probably noticed something stunning. There has been an explosion of whitetail deer entries starting about 10 years before the turn of the century. 6 WHITETAIL NEWS

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Charles J. Alsheimer

By Gerald Almy

www.whitetailinstitute.com


Guess what else happened around that time? Ray Scott founded the Whitetail Institute of North America and singlehandedly began the food plot phenomenon with the introduction of Imperial Whitetail Clover — still the greatest perennial seed for growing trophy whitetails. Since then, the company has grown exponentially. With help from Ray's sons, Steve and Wilson, who joined the company in 1990, and many dedicated employees, Whitetail Institute has expanded to meet the high demand for its established food plot products while continuously researching ways to improve existing products and to develop new, innovative ones for the wildlife land manager. The timing of the beginning of the food plot craze and the dramatic increase in trophy bucks is not coincidental. In fact, a strong case could be made that one is largely responsible for the other. Just how dramatic has the increase in record-book bucks been? “Since the Whitetail Institute was founded in 1988, and food plots and other deer management techniques became more widely publicized and implemented by hunters across the country, the annual average number of record-book bucks entered has increased 500 percent,” Steve Scott said. Of course, that surge in record-book bucks can’t totally be credited to the food plot phenomenon and Whitetail Institute’s products. Deer hunters have become much better educated not only on the importance of food plots but on all aspects of deer management. Two things are for sure, letting bucks grow older and providing them with highquality nutrition help them grow bigger racks, so more record-bookquality animals exist, and more are harvested by hunters. The contribution of Whitetail Institute to the explosion of heavy-

racked deer can be traced to four distinct ways their products have helped make it possible for the number of record-book trophies — and big deer in general — to multiply so dramatically. Let’s first list the four reasons. Then we’ll delve into each of them a bit more deeply. After that, I’ll describe briefly how my property has followed the same pattern and demonstrated firsthand how the food plot craze has led to an upsurge in more old deer with heavy racks being killed. The parallels between the national whitetail scene and my situation are strong, because I bought the land where I live and started getting into food plots two years after Ray Scott founded the Whitetail Institute. Here are the four ways Whitetail Institute has contributed to the surge in the number of trophy and record-book deer. 1. The nutrition and protein their plants offer help deer grow larger racks. 2. The plots hunters plant help produce more and bigger deer, so hunters have had the opportunity and motivation to pass up smaller bucks and let them obtain the age necessary to grow record-book racks. 3. The work involved in planning and creating plots encourages hunters to spend more time in whitetail habitat, learning more and becoming more knowledgeable of their land which helps them harvest the wariest old bucks. 4. Planting Whitetail Institute products makes deer more predictable, allowing their movements to be patterned as deer travel from bedding areas to food plots. Now let’s delve into the factors in more detail. 1. High-protein, nutritious foods help deer to grow the largest racks

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Vol. 24, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 7


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Gerald Almy

possible. Whitetail Institute products provide forage that tastes good to deer, attracting them and providing the protein and nutrition crucial to growing big bodies. After the nutritional needs for the bodies of deer are met, excess nutrients and minerals in the forage can be used for growing heavier racks. The Whitetail Institute also produces mineral/vitamin supplements such as 30-06, Cutting Edge and Results deer feed designed to fit the specific physiological needs of deer, as opposed to cattle or sheep. All of these products help hunters grow the best deer possible in their area, from healthy does that produce strong, heavier fawns to bucks that grow the biggest racks their genetics will allow. 2. More bucks are being allowed to grow old. This benefit grows directly out of previously mentioned factors. Food plots have helped landowners grow bigger bucks with larger racks, and that has instigated the trend of letting bucks mature beyond the typical one or twoyear-old that was harvested 20 or 30 years ago. If your plots are growing and attracting deer with racks in the 120- or 140-inch class, what hunter wouldn’t start passing up those spikes, forkhorns and spindly racked 8-pointers? Hunters rarely had the opportunity or motivation to pass up younger bucks years ago, when the food available was of poor quality and almost everyone shot bucks before they could grow good headgear. Lately, a philosophy of allowing young bucks to walk at least until they are three or older has developed, nurtured by Whitetail Institute, the Quality Deer Management Association and preached by hunters who have seen how much a deer can develop with age. 3. Hunters are getting more skilled and knowledgeable. Another thing Whitetail Institute has done by encouraging and nurturing food plot establishment throughout the whitetail range is to make deer hunters more knowledgeable about their properties and the behavior of whitetails. That inevitably makes them better hunters and better able to bag old, educated bucks. Many hunters don’t just go out for a few weeks in the fall now. They spend much of the year out in the woods and fields patterning the movements of animals, setting out trail cameras, searching for shed antlers and most important, improving the habitat and creating nutritious food plots to enhance the deer’s health and improve their hunting. As you scout your property to find the best food plot locations, you discover a lot about the topography, the natural vegetation and the lay of the land. You learn about the animals’ behavior as you study your trail camera photos and discover the sign they leave, gradually becoming a more knowledgeable hunter. And that’s the type of hunter who is most likely to harvest an old, wary buck that might make the record books. 4. Food plots make deer more predictable. This benefit of food plots definitely makes taking a mature, potential record-book buck more likely. Properties 20 or 30 years ago often consisted of large tracts of hardwoods where deer fed randomly and huge agricultural tracts that made it hard to tell where a deer, let alone a specific trophy buck, was likely to appear. Now take that setup and add a few lush, strategically located food plots a few hundred yards from thick bedding cover, and suddenly a mature buck’s movement patterns become a bit more predictable. And maybe you even helped create that bedding area with your chainsaw, so you know exactly where it is, or at least you’ve discovered it during scouting and shed hunting and have learned via trail cameras the routes bucks follow from there to one of your plots. Killing a mature buck becomes much more do-able in this situation. And that’s why

The author proudly looks at his beautiful buck killed with the help of Whitetail Institute products. the record bucks continue to fall. So you see, it’s not just because Whitetail Institute products provide good nutrition that more big bucks are being harvested. It’s also because we have more motivation to pass up young deer, as older bucks are more numerous. It’s because putting in food plots can make us better hunters. And it’s because deer living on properties with food plots are more predictable and more killable. Even with all these positives, tagging a huge, gnarly-racked whitetail is still not easy. But with the use of food plots planted with Whitetail Institute products, habitat-improvement projects and patience to pass up small deer, it is clearly more likely than ever that a hunter using this system stands the best chance to kill a beautiful mature buck. Whether it makes a record book is important to some, but for most of us, what matters is that the deer reaches its full potential. What that potential is will vary from state to state, county to county, and even individual property to property.

Personal Experience Virginia has produced some outstanding bucks, including a net typical 12-point in the 180s that was bagged just a few miles from me in the Shenandoah Valley. But bucks like that were few and far between when I bought my land 22 years ago. It was rare, in fact, to see a deer in the 130s. Taking a two-year-old with a thin 8-point rack and 16inch spread would be a real accomplishment. That would typically be www.whitetailinstitute.com


a deer in the 100 to 115-inch class. Now many hunters in the area are routinely passing up such deer and searching for three to four-year old bucks and occasionally even five-year-old bucks instead. The reason they’re doing so is because those older bucks are now available, thanks to the use of food plots and improved hunter education, skills and attitudes. Using food plots has not only allowed them to pass up younger deer, it has encouraged them to learn more about their properties, as I have with mine, realizing how deer move in their daily patterns and improving other aspects of the habitat for them besides putting in plots. When I added shrubs, planted warm-season grasses and had timberstand improvement done, and then built a couple of ponds, deer began living on the property instead of just passing through. That meant they could be allowed to grow older, and soon 100- to 110-inch bucks were being replaced with 120s, 130s and 140s. Every year, I added more plots, sticking mostly to Imperial Whitetail Clover for the perennials but adding Chicory Plus for when we experience dry summer conditions. Then I realized annuals such as PowerPlant were a good addition to provide more varied food sources. In late summer, I put in Winter-Greens and Tall Tine Tubers. These plants also helped kill the weeds in the soil by shading them out and preparing the ground for future perennial plantings. This year, I added Whitetail Oats Plus which provided a terrific fall and winter food source that deer craved because of its high sugar content. Each year during the two decades I’ve been putting in food plots, the racks of deer have gradually attained more mass and gained inches. And the more large deer I saw, the more I passed up younger ones because I knew I could take an older buck with enough patience, paralleling a national movement that was underway. The high-quality nutrition from the Whitetail Institute plots, combined with the increase in older bucks and better understanding of my land’s topography and vegetation were paying big dividends. And one of the most important of those benefits was that it’s made the deer on my land more predictable in their movements — the fourth benefit of Whitetail Institute products and the food plot craze. The patterns of travel are so much more predictable than when I bought the property it's like night and day. When I bought the land, there were fescue fields, some scattered cedars that offered cover, a few agricultural fields on either side of me and a woods that was too one-dimensional. Deer movement was almost random, it seemed. Now, almost every day, deer leave the thick cover of the woods and head into one of my plots to feed toward dark. It’s just a matter of pinpointing which one they’ll use on a given day and deciding whether to set up on the plot or hunt back in the woods closer to where they bed. But the chance is there any day, thanks to the plots, to tag a brute. And who knows? Maybe a buck with genes from that 180-inch 12pointer killed across the valley will wander into one of my plots one afternoon. If he does, I’ll be ready for him. But even if the deer I kill is much smaller, at least he will have reached more of his potential than he would have 25 years ago, before the food plot revolution began. And that is the real reward of putting in plots and doing habitat work. Whether you can grow 170-inch bucks that qualify for Boone and Crockett or grow 120- or 150-inch bucks, it shouldn’t really matter much. The pleasure lies in letting the deer in your area reach their full potential or close to it. It’s a reward I hope I’ll never stop enjoying until my days end. ^

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Vol. 24, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 9


CUSTOMER SERVICE FOUNDATION OF WHITETAIL INSTITUTE FOR OVER 25 YEARS By Charles J. Alsheimer

rying to make contact with a company for product information, technical support or placing an order is not what it was years ago. Fact of the matter is it can be downright exasperating. The all-too-typical scenario when trying to reach a company today is that the phone rings several times, the phone picks up on the other end and you hear a recorded message that goes something like this: “Thank you for calling. If you would like to place an order, please press 1; for product information, press 2; to speak to a customer service representative, please press 3; for shipping, press 4; for warranty information, press 5; if you know your party’s extension. you may dial it now. Please press 0 for all other requests.” In some cases, the options are so long that you can’t remember which number to dial by the time you listen to all the options. If you are fortunate enough to actually have a human being pick up, you might find yourself talking to someone in India or the Philippines, who you can’t understand because of their dialect. Frustrating? You bet. Unfortunately, this type of customer service is the new norm for many American corporations. It shouldn’t be, because great customer service is often the ticket to a company’s success or failure. When I graduated from college, I took a sales and marketing position with the world’s largest producer of wood office furniture. In addition to making great furniture, the company prided itself on having excellent customer service. Part of my responsibilities with the company was heading up their customer service division. During my tenure, two of our mottos were, “The customer is always king,” and, “Nothing happens until something is sold.” From the president’s corner office to the factory floor, every employee knew that without satisfied customers, we would cease to be successful. For seven-plus years, I had a ringside seat into the inner workings of a major corporation, especially when it came to the importance of having great customer service. Though I left the corporate world in 1979 to become a full-time outdoor writer and nature photographer, the lessons I learned in the corporate world have stayed with me all these years. The bottom line is this. For a company to be successful, it must have a great product, but without great customer service backup, it will not last very long, regardless of how good the product is. One of the beauties of the free-market system is that it weeds out companies that try to cut corners, especially when it comes to customer service. Since entering the outdoor profession, I’ve had the opportunity of working with many hunting-related companies. Unfortunately, I’ve seen many companies that had great products fail

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in part because of their poor customer service. producing food plots, we must have knowledgeable staff to show them It’s safe to say that the companies within the hunting industry that the way. Our staff has some of the most knowledgeable folks anyhave had great success place a premium on customer service. The where when it comes to food plots so we can help even the most exWhitetail Institute (publishers of the magazine you are holding in perienced food plot veterans improve their results with food plots. your hands) is a company that not only knows how to produce and Our customer service extends out past our home offices in Pintlala, market great products but also does a first-class job in addressing its Ala., because of our presence at outdoor shows and our TV exposure. customer’s needs. In preparation for this article, I interviewed WhiteMany of our staff work the outdoor shows to get the word out. And tail Institute’s Steve Scott to determine why the company places such by sponsoring many of the outdoor TV shows, we have the ability to a high emphasis on customer service. show viewers who we are and what we can do for them. I guess I’m Alsheimer: Steve, for more than 25 years, Whitetail Institute has a little prejudiced in saying this, but I’ll stack our staff up against any been one of the most successful companies in the hunting industry. in this business. How important has customer service been to your success? A blessing that’s come from having a great customer service departScott: I’d say it ranks third behind the quality of our products and ment has been the relationships we’ve built with our customers the research we do to continually improve our existing offerings and through the years. Many have blossomed into lasting friendships that develop new products. We believe it is crucial that the customers who never would have occurred had it not been for the customer service trust us with their money know they can give us a call and actually department we have. talk to our extremely knowledgeable consultAlsheimer: I know that Whitetail News is ants and real hunters to get their questions a tool to help drive sales. That said, do you answered. Our staff has more than 200 years For a company to be successful, it view it also as an asset for your customer of combined experience planting food plots must have a great product, but service. and helping others with their food plot efScott: Whitetail News is certainly a great without great customer service sales tool. But it is also an educational tool forts. Alsheimer: What makes Whitetail’s cus- backup, it will not last very long, for both the guy just starting out or for the tomer service different from that of other individual who really knows what he’s doing regardless of how good the companies? when it comes to food plots. The magazine is Scott: I can’t speak for other companies, published three times a year and is free to our product is. but I can say this about us. Our company polcustomers for a period of two years from icy is that we strive to address every caller’s their most recent purchase. But getting back needs as fast as we can. Virtually every time, a customer calls and asks to your question, Whitetail News has turned out to be a huge addition us a question we can answer that question immediately, but if we to our customer service. Each issue is packed with cutting-edge articles can’t, we’ll get back to them with an answer ASAP. We have biologists, written by the best food plot, land managers and hunters in America. agronomist, PhD’s, nutritionist and other experts to help provide the As a result, it helps our customers know all the ins and outs of food best information possible to our customers. So, it doesn’t matter if the plotting from soil to seed. Knowledge is a powerful thing, and we customer has never planted a food plot or has years of experience, we know the more knowledgeable people are about food plots, the more want them to know they are extremely important to us and we are likely it is they will choose Whitetail Institute products. here to help them. Every office in our complex has a strobe light in it Alsheimer: What other resources does the Whitetail Institute offer to let us know of an incoming call. As a result, the caller might wind to assist customers. up talking to various members of our staff, from the president on Scott: Next to Whitetail News, one of the biggest resources we offer down. The bottom line is that our staff wears a lot of hats and works to those interested in food plots and deer management is our website hard to make sure our customers get their questions answered in a (www.whitetailinstitute.com). The Web is the future, and our website timely fashion. has everything Whitetail News has and so much more. For starters, Alsheimer: Does your customer service play any role in product everything about the Whitetail Institute can be found on our website. development? In addition we post many of the popular articles dealing with soil, herScott: We have employees who’ve been with us for more than 25 bicides, seed choices and land management from past issues of Whiteyears, so when we get requests on how to plant different seeds, we tail News on the website. Our goal is to provide the best customer have the knowledge to offer helpful advice. If we notice a trend in type service and solid resources for those interested in everything from of request or questions we get, it can and has led to all new products. how to plant food plots to better deer hunting. We also offer a DVD For example, our No-Plow product came about as a result of interactthat covers everything related to Whitetail Institute products and tips ing with customers who wanted to be able to plant a high-quality food that will help beginners and pros have the most success possible from plot with minimal ground preparation. There is no question that input their food plot efforts. from our customers and our customer service folks often play a big Alsheimer: In closing, is there anything else you want to share? role in the products we offer. Scott: We want people to know that our 800 number is available Alsheimer: Do you believe that customer service boosts your sales? Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Standard Time. Scott: No doubt. Repeat sales and word of mouth have definitely We’ve had folks call us from the back of a tractor, so it really doesn’t been crucial to our business growing through the years. You don’t necmatter where they are calling us from. So, if you are not 100 percent essarily need great customer service if you are making coffee cups. sure of something dealing with food plots, don’t hesitate to call us. If But our business is technical in nature, and because many of our cuswe don’t have an immediate answer we have the ability and resources tomers have no agricultural background or no idea how to get started to go find the answer and get back to you quickly. ^

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Food Plot Location and Design

Planning Food Plot Goals to Attract, Draw & Hold Better Quality Deer By Brandon Gaines hether you have lots of hunting land or just a little, Whitetail Institute forage products are specifically designed to help you meet three food plot goals: to help you attract more deer to your property, to hold them there and to improve their quality by supplementing naturally available nutrition. All three depend on attraction — deer must find the forage you plant and the food plot location in which you plant it highly attractive. The Whitetail Institute covers forage attractiveness for you by making sure all Whitetail Institute food plot products are the most attractive the Whitetail Institute can make them. In this article, we’ll focus on some ideas that can help you do your part even better; making sure your deer feel as safe as possible getting to the plot and using it, and using it as much as possible during daylight. Drawing Power and Holding Power — Initial and Sustained Attraction Drawing Power — Initial Attraction. Whether you have lots of room on your property to plant food plots or just a little, one thing is for certain: planting Whitetail Institute forage products will improve the drawing power of your property. The reason is simple: Whitetail Institute forage products are specifically designed to be as attractive

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to deer as possible. Attractiveness to whitetails certainly isn’t the Whitetail Institute’s only forage research goal. Others include high, sustained nutritional content; early seedling vigor; rapid stand establishment; tolerance of heat, drought and cold; disease resistance; and graze tolerance, to name but a few. That’s why Whitetail Institute forage products excel in all areas of food plot performance. Even so, attractiveness to whitetails is one of the most important, and initial attractiveness is at the top of the list. The Whitetail Institute goes to great lengths to design its food products so that they’re highly attractive as soon as they begin to sprout and grow so that they will start drawing deer to your property right away. Holding Power — Sustained Attraction. After you draw deer to your property, the next issue is holding them there. For your food plots to help you do that, they must provide sustained attraction, and that brings another Whitetail Institute forage development criterion into play — how graze tolerant the forage is. Here too, Whitetail Institute forage products are designed to provide top performance.

A Few Commonly Overlooked Food Plot Locations The first step in maximizing the results you get from your food plots is to identify all the potentially plantable areas on your property. Although that might seem obvious, many hunters often overlook certain areas because they think they can’t be planted. In many cases, though, this assumption is incorrect. Here are a few examples: Logging Roads. There are two big reasons logging roads are often among the best places you can put a food plot. The first is that they’re often already sufficiently free of heavy weeds and grass that you can prepare them for planting excellent no-till forages such as Imperial Whitetail No-Plow, BowStand or Secret Spot with very little additional work. What little vegetation there is on the road can usually be removed well enough with hand tools, a light mower or even just a Roundup-type glyphosate herbicide and a hand sprayer. That can be a huge help if your ground can’t be tilled, or if it shouldn’t. A personal example of an area I could till but don’t want to is along part of an old skidder road that runs the length of my 78-acre hunting www.whitetailinstitute.com


lease in what’s commonly referred to in Alabama as “prairie soil.” Now, I don’t know who came up with the idea to call it prairie soil, but I wish I did, because I’d like to ask him why, because it doesn’t look like what most of us would consider soil. Instead, it’s some sort of heavier, white clay, and it can be tough to deal with. During hot, dry summers, for example, it develops cracks so deep that I might get an echo back if I yelled down into them. As soon as the first whisper of rain arrives, though, the surface becomes so slick and greasy that it’s difficult to even walk on. The point I’m getting to is this: With the roadbed established in ground like that, the last thing I want to do is destabilize it by disking or tilling to prepare it for planting. Even so, it is one of the most productive food plot sites I have. Because I don’t have to worry about whether or not native grasses and weeds return in spring, I just spray the section of skidder road I’m going to plant in early fall, wait a week or so and then fertilize and plant it with No-Plow a week or two later. As I mentioned, there are two big reasons why logging roads often make excellent food plot sites. We’ve covered the first — the fact that logging roads can often be prepared for planting with very little work. The second is that they’re structurally a long, skinny lane that’s often bordered by cover so they’re already designed with features that can help deer feel safe using food plots planted in them.

Set Your Sights on

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Power and Gas Easements. If you have power or gas lines running through your property, consider yourself lucky because they can also be excellent, ready-made places to put food plots. As I mentioned earlier, No-Plow, Bow-Stand and Secret Spot can be planted if you lack tillage equipment. If you can till the soil, other Whitetail Institute annuals are also an option, and if you can spray and mow as necessary in the spring for forage maintenance, so are Whitetail Institute perennials. Power line easements in areas where the land isn’t completely flat offer even more options for you to plant a variety of Whitetail Institute forages, for example Imperial Whitetail Clover in the lower areas, and Alfa-Rack Plus, Edge, Extreme or annuals in the better-drained areas. And keep in mind that logging roads and utility easements aren’t the only potential plot locations folks can overlook. We’ve touched on those two just as examples to give you an idea of what sort of spots to look for on your own hunting land.

Food Plot Locations If you’ve looked for potential food plot sites such as the kinds we’ve

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mentioned and still think you might not have all the plantable area you want, you might not even need to concern yourself with food plot locations or designs. Instead, just plant the available openings you have in Whitetail Institute forages. As I mentioned, that will improve the attractiveness of your property to deer. If you’ve found that you do have more plantable area than you intend to put into food plots, though, you have some decisions to make. Specifically, you’ll need to decide where to put your food plots and how to design them to overcome an additional issue — the general wariness of whitetails. Just as real estate agents know that location is often the most important factor to folks shopping for a new home, food plot location is also a very important factor to consider if you have more plantable areas than you need. In such cases, your main goal is to locate the food plot so that deer will feel as safe as possible using it during daytime. To do that, you’ll need to consider two things: how to limit as much as possible the chance that deer will be alerted to your presence and how to help them feel safe traveling to and from the plot.

Locate The Plot So That Your Risk Of Detection By Deer Is Minimized What we’re talking about here is locating your food plots in such a way that the possibility of deer being alerted to your presence is minimized when you’re hunting the food plot as well as when you’re traveling to and from it. If possible create multiple entry and exit routes so that you can use wind direction to your advantage. As explained by Neil Dougherty of North Country Whitetails, it’s also a great idea when possible to set the plot up so that deer movement is directed in your favor. “First, try to choose a setup where the deer will be vulnerable," he said. "For example, put the plot up against, or within 50 to 100 yards upwind of a deep ravine, river or other barrier so you can be sure deer can’t get behind you. If you do that and hunt it diligently and in the proper wind, it will keep it fresh as a hunting set up year after year, and you’ll have a lot of success. Second, make sure the site is one that you can get into and out of quickly and easily. If you keep bumping deer every time you’re on the way into and out of a food plot, it will shut it down for mature bucks in a hurry.”

Cover For Deer Travel

Food Plot Design When you decide where to locate your food plot, the next thing to consider is the layout of the plot. Here again, this is something you might not even need to worry about unless you have more plantable area than you intend to put into food plots. If you do have decisions to make on plot layout, though, the following design concepts and shapes have proven themselves effective in helping deer feel safer when entering a food plot and moving through it during daylight hours.

Linear Edge A food plot’s linear edge is the line (linear) that marks where the forage planting meets cover (edge). It’s an important concept to understand because it’s a direct indicator of how safe deer will feel using the plot during daytime. No matter what size opening you’ll be planting, a great way to maximize linear edge is to simply let the outline of the plot follow the opening’s natural contours, since they always tend to wander in and out anyway. If the plot is fairly small, or if you’ve decided to plant every plantable area on your property, that’s all you may want to do to maximize linear edge.

In addition to making sure you don’t alert deer to your presence, you also need to consider how to help deer feel safe traveling to and from the plot. A great way to do that is to try to design the plot so that it adjoins cover as much as possible. A classic example of what I consider to be a poor food plot setup in that regard is a food plot on a neighboring property I pass as I drive down the easement to my own hunting lease. The plot is located in the middle of a large, flat crop field surrounded by woods. By the time hunting season rolls around, the crop has been harvested and the field has been tilled under, requiring deer to cross a long stretch of open ground to reach the food plot. Although the landowner might get lucky during the rut with his current setup, I can’t help but think he sees very few deer in that plot during daytime. He could have helped deer feel safer traveling to and from the plot by locating it against the woods instead of expecting them to cross a long, open expanse to reach it.

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However, if the total plantable area is so big that you don’t need to plant it all — for instance a large opening or field—then you might want to leave a little cover in the field to increase it. Two ways to do that are planting in strips and planting in irregular shapes. Before you decide to leave cover inside a food plot, though, keep two things in mind. Leaving cover inside small, remote food plots can actually be counterproductive. In most cases, leaving cover inside smaller, remote food plots isn’t a good idea. First, it’s usually not necessary because such plots already offer deer a feeling of intimacy to help deer feel safe. Second, and perhaps more important, leaving cover inside such plots is counterproductive if doing so increases the risk that the forage might be overgrazed. Remember, one of the main priorities I mentioned at the very start of this article is to maximize the sustained attractiveness of your food plots, so never consider leaving cover inside the food plot if doing so puts the forage in the planted area at risk of overgrazing. If you do decide to leave cover inside the plot, leave just enough to break up a deer’s outline. If the open area in which you plan to put your food plot is big enough for you to consider leaving some cover inside the plot, you don’t need to leave a lot. Thin strips of cover are sufficient to break up a deer’s outline and will give deer an enhanced feeling of safety without reducing the amount of forage in the site more than you need to. “If you’re going to locate a food plot in something like a big agricultural field, consider planting in strips or irregular shapes and leaving patches of warm-season grasses in between the planted areas," Dougherty said. "That can help make the plots feel smaller and more intimate to deer, which can help keep daylight activity up. The more irregular shape you can build into the plot, the more deer movement you’ll create. Irregular shapes help deer move through the plot better, which is especially important for bowhunters. Also, if you have too many bucks trying to work a big food plot, breaking up their body lines with tall cover between the planted areas can help keep more bucks in the plot, at least when they’re not ramped up on testosterone. That way, each buck can feed without having to make eye contact with another big boy. It keeps them home a little bit more that way.” The bottom line is that leaving additional cover inside small, remote plots is usually unFor the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

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V-shaped plots have proven to be a great food plot design that help deer feel more safe feeding during daylight hours. necessary, and it can even be counterproductive if it increases the risk that the forage plants will be overgrazed. It can be effective, though, as a way to improve the feeling of safety deer have using the area, provided it’s done the right way.

Proven Food Plot Shapes Finally, we’ll cover a few standard food plot shapes that have proven themselves winners and give you an idea of how deer might react to them and within them. The Boomerang or V-Shaped Plot. This is one of the most effective plot shapes there is. One reason is that it consists of two long, skinny lanes bordered by cover — the same design features I mentioned earlier that can help deer feel safer using food plots on logging roads. “V-shaped, boomerang-type plots are an excellent setup,” Dougherty said. “With a long food plot, you can put a pinch point or a narrow gap near the middle of it. Deer will use the whole plot for feeding, but they might spend more time near the pinch-point where they can see what’s on both sides, so you should try to set up so you can hunt that pinch-point area from your stand.” The Hourglass Plot. As with a boomerang-shaped plot, your stand should be set up so that you can cover the junction of the next food plot design we’ll cover: the hourglass. As its name suggests, this type of plot is shaped like an antique hourglass, with two planted-area lobes joined by a much thinner neck, which is also planted. As Dougherty explained, the hourglass-shape takes full advantage of the natural curiosity of deer: “With an hourglass shaped plot in thick cover, deer tend to enter the plot on one side and then often go to the pinch-point so they can see both sides.”

Always keep in mind that you want your food plots to provide initial attraction so that they start drawing deer right away, as well as sustained attraction to hold them on your property. To make sure they can, first make sure you identify all the potential food plot locations on your property, including those you might not have thought of such as logging roads, and power and gas easements. If you still find that you’re short on plantable acreage, plant every opening you can. If you have more plantable area than you plan to use, make sure you locate your food plots as close to cover as possible. Locate them so that deer will be vulnerable — so that you can travel to and from them with as little chance as possible of spooking deer, and deer have as much escape cover nearby as possible. Also, when you have more than enough open area to plant, be as creative as you can when designing the shape of your plots. And remember — every situation is different, so use these tips not as absolutes, but as suggestions that you can consider when developing the best food plot strategy for your situation. ^

Tying It All Together Here’s how Dougherty summed up the concepts we’ve covered: “There’s no better way to draw deer in than with a food plot. And over the years, I’ve learned that other than planting the best seeds, the most important factor in getting deer to use a plot during the day and keep doing so is its location.”

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Hour glass shaped food plots are another great design to increase daylight activity and “huntability.” www.whitetailinstitute.com


REAL HUNTERS DO THE TALKING about Whitetail Institute products… I began planting Whitetail Institute product's in the fall four years ago. I started with plots of Imperial Clover and No-Plow and an ATV with a small pull behind disc. The second year I not only started to see more deer but the quality of the bucks began to improve. The food plots are hearty and the Imperial Clover provides nutrition the entire year and the NoPlow really brings the deer in during the late fall through the winter offering us great opportunities’ come early and late hunting season. I have since added BowStand to the item's

My dad started making me help with planting food plots a few years ago but now he doesn’t have to make me because it’s fun to do. We plant a lot of Imperial Whitetail Clover and Whitetail Oats Plus. My dad told me about this huge 7 point he had seen. I was excited to hunt this buck but I had a church retreat the next weekend. My dad saw the big buck again while I was gone on the church trip. The next week I checked out early from school on Friday so I could hunt that afternoon. No luck Friday afternoon. The next morning I went and sat on a Whitetail Oats Plus field that was closest to where he was last seen. It just so happens that it was my lucky day. He walked out and I shot him with my 7mm-08.

I plant and I'm very pleased with its extremely fast germination. The products and customer service that Whitetail Institute offer are absolutely the best in the business. My wife, who has only been hunting for 4 years harvested a great deer with a crossbow out of one of our Imperial Clover plots late last year. The deer actually pawed away the snow to get to the clover below. I took a nice buck out of a No-Plow plot the year before. Thanks again Whitetail Institute. You have a customer for life.

Will Cousins — Alabama

Randy Kramer — Ohio

I’ve been using over-the-counter seed from the local farm coop to install food plots for my Illinois Outfitting business. Last year I decided to see if there really was a difference with Whitetail Institute products. We planted Imperial Whitetail Clover next to our own blend. Not only did the deer focus on just eating the Imperial Clover but it drew in more deer. We harvested more and bigger bucks from just this one food plot. One buck scoring 176 inches. By far the biggest we have ever taken off this property in seven years. So what will we be doing next season? Planting more Imperial Whitetail Clover for more deer, bigger deer and happier clients.

Brett Homer — Illinois

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We have been using Whitetail Institute products for six years now and the deer on our property have benefited tremendously. Not only in body size but also antler size and we are seeing more does with twin fawns than in the past. We have implemented a year round food plot strategy which includes our hunting plots. Chicory Plus is one of our main plots. The deer love it. We also plant Imperial Whitetail Clover, No-Plow, and Tall Tine Tubers and have several 30-06 Mineral sites. You be the judge. See the pictures of my daughter’s deer harvested on the property. Thank you Whitetail Institute for a great product. Keep up the good work.

Gerry Nutt — Michigan

I have four farms that total 1,300 acres in Northern Missouri. I’ve been using Imperial Whitetail Clover, Chicory Plus, Winter-Greens and Tall Tine Tubers for years now. I’ve had great success in raising quality food plots and quality deer. I believe it’s important to have quality nutrition 12 months of the year if possible. I’m sold on Whitetail Institute products and have the results to keep using them. Enclosed is a photo of 164 inch buck that was shot right after he fed on a Winter-Greens plot.

John Miller — Missouri

I have been using a wide variety of Whitetail Institute products for years and I continue to use them because they get results! I have a small farm and manage approximately 100 acres, but using Whitetail Institute products helps me get the most out of every acre. I plant PowerPlant in the spring because it has proven to be the best tonnage producing bean variety mix available. In the fall I plant Whitetail Oats Plus and Secret Spot, and the plots have helped to sustain my deer herd through the winters. I have numerous mineral lick sites that I freshen regularly with 30-06 minerals and Cutting Edge Nutritional products. Since I began planting Whitetail Institute products I have observed the number and quality of the deer increase on my property. Whitetail Institute products have become an important part of my overall deer management strategy, and even on a small farm my success has been amazing! Last season I harvested a buck I had been watching for years (enclosed photograph) on a trail leading to one of my Whitetail Oats Plus plots. Thank you Whitetail Institute for making quality products that really perform! This is my third trophy taken on my little farm. Thanks again Whitetail Institute for helping make my success a reality!

Charles Massey — North Carolina

Enclosed are pictures from the last two years. My two best bucks were taken back to back while heading for my food plot. In most cases, a good amount of does are already there. Imperial Whitetail Clover is surely a magnet.

George Pilkington — Connecticut

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Customers Demand ost Whitetail Institute forage products are blends of multiple plant varieties. So, why does Imperial Whitetail Chic Magnet include only WINA-100 perennial forage chicory? The answer is simple: customer demand. And the reason is equally clear to anyone who understands that the Whitetail Institute’s product-development process is entirely customer driven. In fact, some might argue that no other Whitetail Institute product stands as a better real-world example of that reality than Chic Magnet. To see why, consider that WINA-100 perennial forage chicory is included as a forage component in several Whitetail Institute forage products, and it’s also packaged separately as Chic Magnet. Although WINA-100 perennial forage chicory is a component in several Whitetail Institute forage products and is offered by itself, the roads each traveled to reach final product stage aren’t identical. Even so, the proof of WINA-100’s superiority over other chicory varieties when used in food plots for deer is easy to see, if you know what to look for.

WINA-100 Chicory: As A Component in Other Whitetail Institute Forage Products Like all Whitetail Institute forage products and their components, WINA-100 is a product of the Whitetail Institute’s scientific research, development and testing process. Conducted according to strict scientific protocols, this process is designed to ensure that every Whitetail Institute forage product and component meets or exceeds the Whitetail Institute’s industry-leading standards for early seedling vigor; rapid stand establishment; early tonnage production; high nutritional content; resistance to heat, drought and cold; and, above all, exceptional attractiveness to deer. The reasons for WINA-100 chicory’s superior attractiveness to deer can be summed up with one word: palatability. Whitetail Institute testing on free-ranging whitetails from Florida to Canada continues to prove that deer find WINA-100 chicory vastly more attractive than any other chicory variety the Whitetail Institute has ever tested. And that stands to reason. As small-ruminant animals, deer simply can’t digest stemmy, waxy chicory varieties nearly as well as WINA-100 chicory, which remains more tender and succulent even as it matures. To see how well WINA-100 chicory meets the attractiveness and all the other requirements I mentioned earlier, one need only look at

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Chicory how many Whitetail Institute forage products include WINA-100 chicory as a component. It is part of Chicory Plus, AlfaRack Plus, Edge, Extreme, and even Secret Spot and Bow Stand. That fact speaks for itself, and it’s a testament to WINA-100 chicory’s excellent performance and incredible versatility under a broad range of real-world conditions hunters and managers face across the United States.

WINA-100 Chicory: Packaged Separately As Chic Magnet Given that WINA-100 chicory continues to prove itself so impressive as a forage component, you might wonder why it has been a Whitetail Institute forage component for longer than it has been a separate product. Here too, the reason lies in the Whitetail Institute’s customer-driven philosophy. As part of that philosophy, the Whitetail Institute provides a free, in-house consulting service to assist and advise customers during business hours about Whitetail Institute products, food plots, nutritional issues and virtually any subject related to deer or deer hunting. The Whitetail Institute’s consultants interact with hunters and managers all over the country, so you can understand how fertile a source they are for new product ideas. And that’s how WINA-100 perennial forage chicory also became its own product in addition to fulfilling its role as a component in other Whitetail Institute forage blends: because so many customers asked for it.

Don’t Take Our Word for It — Look at the Proof As I mentioned earlier, Whitetail Institute research, development and testing are conducted in the most reliable way: under real-world conditions so that reality speaks for itself. If you look at what we’ve covered above, you can also see for yourself that WINA-100 perennial chicory is an incredibly versatile forage that draws and holds deer and adapts well to a wide range of soil types and drainage conditions — and that you can use it in lots of different ways to increase the attraction, nutrition and drought resistance of your food plots. One way is to plant Chic Magnet by itself. Even if you also plant other Whitetail Institute forage products with WINA-100 chicory in them, including a stand of straight Chic Magnet in your food plot system can add variety, which boosts the attractiveness of your property even further. Chic Magnet can also be mixed with other seeds at planting or overseeded into existing forage stands. Used that way, the Whitetail Institute has already done the hard work for you by including WINA-100 chicory in the other Whitetail Institute forage products I mentioned earlier in the ratios shown to be optimum based on real-world testing from Florida to Canada. Even so, Chic Magnet provides a way for you to use WINA-100 chicory to your advantage if you want to add attraction, nutrition, drought resistance and variety in other forage stands, at planting or after the stand is already established. Additional information about Chic Magnet can be found at www.whitetailinstitute.com or by calling (800) 688-3030. ^ www.whitetailinstitute.com


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Successful Deer Management Starts with

Large, Healthy Fawns By John J. Ozoga Many factors can influence a fawn's prospects for survival, as well as general well-being and ultimate adult stature. However, the mother’s level of nutrition (hence fetal development) during her last trimester of pregnancy is the most important factor governing the newborn fawn's survival prospects. Malnourished does invariably give birth to small, weak fawns that die within a few days. Likewise, the young fawn's nutritional status during spring, summer and autumn will often determine whether or not it survives its first winter (especially on Northern range) and will determine its stature at maturity. Given favorable circumstances, some fawns (male and female) might even achieve early puberty and breed when less than a year old. Unfortunately, the exact nutritional requirements for favorable fawn growth are complex. Not only do the sexes differ in their dietary needs on a regional and seasonal basis, birth timing and social behavior factors can interact with nutrition to determine fawn growth and survival prospects. Understanding these relationships is essential to implement proper deer population and/or habitat management practices.

Charles J. Alsheimer

ny successful deer management program starts with large healthy fawns; stunted fawns reflect management failure. Small weak fawns are more likely to die soon after birth because of malnutrition or abandonment, are more likely to succumb to predators and disease, and are indicative of poor habitat and/or faulty deer population management. Those runts that survive seldom grow up to be large, productive adults.

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Birth Timing

and muscle growth, but they lay down minimal fat until they are weaned. The average fawn may double its birth weight within two weeks, about the time it starts to nibble some vegetation, but cannot survive without its mother’s milk. To grow properly, fawns require nourishing forage that has from 14 to 22 percent protein content, with males having higher requirements than females. Compared to females, buck fawns appear to be especially sensitive to nutritional shortage during the first four months. The capacity and function of the fawn's rumen-reticulum increases as the fawn gains weight. When fawns are five or six weeks of age and weigh about 25 pounds, their forage intake increases substantially. Fawns older than this can compensate somewhat for decreased milk intake by eating more vegetation. Although they can survive, when maternal nutrition is poor and the doe’s milk supply is limited, fawns undersized at birth will also be undersized at weaning age.

The general health status of fawns during autumn can reveal a great deal concerning the nutritional and social well-being of a deer population.

Fortunately, the whitetails’ reproductive cycle is geared to giving birth when conditions are best for newborn fawn survival. As one progresses northward, in the whitetails’ geographic range, a greater percentage of the fawns will be born during a relatively brief period in late May and early June. This is when new, lush vegetation provides excellent hiding cover for fawns and an abundant supply of nutritious forage, which is necessary if does are to produce their maximum amount of nourishing milk. Even fawns need nutritious vegetation to supplement their milk diet at an early age. In the North, natural selection has minimized poorly timed births. Those fawns born too early likely die from exposure. Those fawns born too late seldom achieve favorable physical size and fatness necessary to survive the hardships of their first winter. Late-born fawns are more prevalent in Southern states, where unbred adult does might re-cycle and come into estrus as often as seven times during one season. Further, many southern states have very long hunting seasons, starting in August or September. As is usually the case, bucks are preferentially harvested, which skews adult sex ratios heavily in favor of females before peak breeding, increasing the chances of late breeding/birthing. With unlimited nutrition, fawns born a few weeks late will catch up over time. However, in the wild, over-browsing, poor nutrition and density stress generally go together. As a result, late-born buck fawns, in particular, might never grow large bodies or large antlers, regardless of their genetics. In the North, few undersized fawns survive tough winters. In the South, researchers contend such trends are self-perpetuating, even with favorable nutrition, because it takes late-born deer longer to become sexually mature.

Birth to Weaning Fawns born to malnourished does might weigh as little as two pounds at birth, whereas healthy individuals can weigh as much as 12 pounds. Generally, single fawns weigh more than those from twin or triplet litters. However, few fawns weighing less than five pounds survive more than a few days, because they are too weak to stand and nurse, are abandoned or their mothers produce no milk. At birth, buck fawns tend to be about one-half pound heavier than does among mixed-sex litters. Since this weight differential increases slightly as the mother's nutritional plane declines, researchers speculate that males are more resistant to prenatal malnutrition. Deer milk is higher in fat, protein, dry matter and energy content than milk produced by domestic ruminants. The doe’s diet has little or no influence upon the composition or quality of her milk, but poor nutrition might cause her to produce less milk than normal. Or, if the doe is seriously malnourished, she might produce no milk at all. Young fawns are very efficient in converting nutrients into skeletal

Autumn Requirements Although dietary protein content may be more important than the amount of energy in the fawn’s summer diet, digestible energy needed for fattening becomes more important during autumn. Normally, fawns do not lay down appreciable fat until October, with peak fat reserves not accumulated until mid-December. Also, female fawns tend to be fatter that buck fawns in autumn. Our studies at the Cusino Wildlife Research Station in Michigan revealed that 10 weeks of inadequate autumn diet (October throughout mid-December) stunted fawn growth, but the sexes seemed to suffer equally. Autumn food-deprived fawns grew more slowly and stored less fat than well-fed ones. However, even those fawns on poor or marginal autumn range store appreciable fat. Therefore, it appears that deer inherently are compelled to store fat in autumn while sacrificing body growth if need be. In other words, well-fed fawns tend to be skeletally large as well as fat. By comparison, malnourished individuals might be fairly fat but stunted. Also, based on our studies at Cusino, when provided an unlimited supply of browse, stunted, lean fawns can survive winter by consuming more browse, feeding more efficiently and minimizing their activity to conserve energy. In my studies, conducted with an enclosed population of supplementally fed deer, does achieved about 88 percent of their skeletal growth (as determined by hind-foot length) by seven months of age, compared to 85 percent for bucks, but only 52 percent and 43 percent of their mature body weight, respectively. As yearlings (1-1/2 years old) bucks and does attained 98 percent of their skeletal growth and slightly more than 80 percent of their mature weights. It’s important to note that bucks accomplish most of their skeletal growth before they disperse from their natal range at yearling age. This indicates that habitat preferred by matriarchal groups for fawn-rearing might ultimately determine a buck's physical size at

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Social Factors Even with unlimited nutrition, social stress can impact deer welfare — just as readily as malnutrition. Since whitetail does exhibit territorial behavior, and aggressively defend their established fawning grounds, young subordinate does are relegated to the poorest habitat when deer density is high. When crowded, young does breed late and give birth later than adult does. Compared to adult does, stressed young mothers also experience higher newborn fawn mortality rates and produce inferior male offspring. Based on measurements of 264 9-month-old fawns born and raised with supplemental feeding in the Cusino enclosure, we saw only minor differences in the body size of doe fawns, regardless of their mother’s age. Only female fawns born to first-time mothers (2-year-olds) were smaller than average in winter. The difference in buck fawn weights with regard to the mother’s age (hence, social status) was more striking. On average, buck fawns raised by does four years old and older weighed about 89 pounds in March. This was roughly 10 percent heavier than those born to younger does. Poor nutrition results in uniformly smaller than average fawn weights at weaning age. In contrast, high deer density on fertile range (or supplemental feeding) will cause a wide spread in surviving fawn weights at weaned age. Sometimes, buck fawns raised by wellnourished mature does will even be larger than yearling bucks raised by stressed young mothers, a sure sign of social stress. During a special three-year study, conducted in the same enclosure, we also examined the potential effects of disrupting the female whitetail’s social organization by removing all except one female from known family groups (“isolates”). We then compared their reproductive performance to other females (“socials”) that were members of intact family groups. For whatever reason, social does on average reared heavier and skeletally larger buck fawns to weaning age, compared to isolate mothers. In mixed litters, males from social does averaged 16 percent heavier than female litter mates, compared to a seven percent weight advantage for males reared by isolates mothers. There was no difference among doe fawns with respect to treatment. Apparently, young bucks somehow benefited nutritionally when

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associating with older related females — a situation scientists refer to as “social facilitation.” Because related does and their fawns commonly band together during autumn and winter, social male fawns probably had compatible associations with several does, had access to a relatively large ancestral range, and enjoyed superior nutrition.

Management Implications The general health status of fawns during autumn can reveal a great deal concerning the nutritional and social well-being of a deer population. For example, the frequent occurrence of pregnant doe fawns and/or “infant” antlered buck fawns are good indicators of a nutritionally and socially well-balanced deer herd. Conversely, poor annual recruitment rates and small, lean fawns in autumn indicate a need for management change — but identifying the precise problems involved and determining corrective actions can be a daunting task. Remember, social factors can impact deer welfare just as readily as nutrition and that young male and female whitetails have different social and nutritional requirements. Hence, management practices favoring one sex might not necessarily benefit the other. Normally, social stress due to high deer density and nutritional shortage go together, resulting in increased newborn fawn mortality rates and small fawns destined to become poor quality adults. In such cases, the first priority would be to lower deer density to balance herd size with available food and cover resources. Identifying and correcting the adverse effects of poor population sex-age structure brought on by unfavorable harvest strategies, or improving seasonal nutrition due to poor range quality, may be more difficult. As I’ve discussed in other articles, good nutrition during the final one-third of gestation (late winter/early spring) is critically important. Invariably, offspring that survive poor maternal nutrition or grand maternal nutrition suffer lifelong consequences. The best advice is to create and maintain diversified habitat, especially on maternal range, that satisfies the contrasting seasonal food and cover requirements of young growing animals. From what is known about deer metabolism and forage value, lush summer herbaceous forage rich in protein and autumn foods high in digestible energy meet these needs. In short, to produce skeletally large fat fawns by winter, the benefit of nutrition must first flow through the pregnant doe. In areas of historically poor nutrition, removing negative maternal effects might take several generations — so be patient. ^ Dustin Reid

maturity — regardless of nutritional conditions on his newly established range.

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PIPELINE BENEFITS WILDLIFE HABITAT Corporate World and PA. Hunting Club Team Up to Demonstrate Benefits of Natural Gas Pipeline By Jon Cooner

il and natural gas pipelines offer huge opportunities to benefit wildlife if they’re managed correctly. In this article, we’ll focus on a reclamation project in north-central Pennsylvania that shows what can be accomplished when a hunting club and an international natural-gas exploration corporation work together. Tom Losch can tell you about the many benefits that come from enhancing the wildlife habitat potential of land. He also knows how to do it. Perhaps that’s why he’s been involved in the management of food plots for the 3,000-acre Elbow Fish and Game Club in northern Pennsylvania for more than 30 years. His substantial knowledge and experience also led him to an idea that has been turned into an exceptionally successful pipeline reclamation project on the club’s property. The idea? To develop a partnership where Elbow and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. would work together in creating a pipeline demonstration area to show the public the benefits a pipeline can provide when properly managed for wildlife. Eight years ago, the Elbow Game and Fish Club in north-central Pennsylvania leased its oil and natural gas rights to Anadarko Petroleum Corp., one of the world’s largest independent oil and natural-gas exploration and production companies. Pursuant to the lease and related agreements, Anadarko began construction of the main trunk of

a natural-gas transmission line through the club’s 3,000 acres three years ago and completed it the following year. Losch pitched his idea to Mark Barbier, senior Anadarko environmental representative, and other Anadarko representatives during a post-construction review on site in the spring of last year. “The idea was that the club and Anadarko should work together to actively manage the pipeline right of way to improve wildlife habitat,” Losch said. “I wanted them to see what a huge opportunity we had to prove to the public that a pipeline can be a huge benefit to wildlife — not just show others what we did, but go farther and let them see the results themselves as the project continues to evolve over time.” The idea of pipeline reclamation certainly isn’t new to Anadarko. It restores its rights of way as a matter of standard practice. The significance of Losch’s partnership approach is what prompted them to accept Elbow’s proposal virtually immediately. Patrick Marty, Anadarko staff government relations representative explained: “Anadarko consistently works with landowners to ensure that their land-use objectives are met by our pipeline reclamation activities," he said. "At Elbow, we immediately recognized the ecological value in Elbow’s idea of actively managing conservation plots on the pipeline right of way as a collaborative conservation demonstration area, and we hope our joint efforts with the Elbow Fish and Game Club will serve as a catalyst for more of these types of partnerships.”

First-Year Plan and Implementation As a result of the partnership of Elbow and Anadarko, acreage devoted to food plots was substantially increased the first year from the 36 acres the club already had under cultivation to 65. The 29 addi-

Tom Losch has seen more turkeys since implementing food plots on the natural gas pipeline than he has in 50 years.

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tional acres are along the pipeline’s main trunk adjacent to private roads within the property and are approximately 100 feet wide to allow more sunlight to reach the ground. Losch and Anadarko started the process of planting the new foodplot sites the right way: by performing laboratory soil tests on each of the new food plot sites. As they had anticipated, soil conditions were less than optimum for the growth of high-quality forages. “A lot of the area burned back at the turn of the century, and that burned up a lot of the humus.” Losch said. “As a result, the soil types on our property are pretty poor. You don’t really have quality soils for growing timber or anything else. The soil pH of our mountain soil is typically very acidic — generally about 5.2 to 5.4 — and raising it into optimum range of 6.5 or higher requires the addition of several tons of lime per acre.” When the new seedbeds had been limed and fertilized, they were planted entirely in Whitetail Institute forage products, in some cases with a cover crop. “We’ve always used Whitetail Institute products,” Losch said. “We’ve used Imperial Whitetail Clover ever since the 1980s. It’s easy to grow, it grows well, and the deer love it. You always want to have enough clover in the spring because it’s the first thing to green up after winter. We planted Imperial Whitetail Clover, Whitetail Oats Plus, Tall Tine Tubers and Winter-Greens in the new pipeline sites this year, and I also planted Chic Magnet on top of the clover. The Whitetail Oats Plus really worked well as a first-year crop on the pipeline, and the deer went nuts over the Chic Magnet.”

First-Year Results — Whitetail Deer Even though the project is only a year old, Losch says he’s already seeing a lot more deer. “In the past, you might see 90 to 100 deer over the entire property if you really had a good evening in the late summer," he said. "Now, you’ll see anywhere from 95 to 145 deer— and that’s just on the pipeline. Most of them are does and fawns at this point. I remember one night we were driving back to the cabin, and there were so many deer on the road beside the pipeline that I thought, ‘This is like a whitetail nursery.’ I was afraid I’d be the first person in the history of the club to ever run over a deer because they were all over the pipeline coming into it from all directions. It was just amazing. The attraction it had was just phenomenal.” According to Barbier, trail cameras set up along the right of way support Losch’s conclusion that deer numbers have increased. “They set up game cameras along the right-of-way,” he said. "The pictures show that deer are using the right-of-way as a food source and a travel corridor, not only at night but also during day. The deer are coming to the property, and they’re staying.” The bucks harvested on the club’s property are also starting to get bigger and heavier, according to Losch. “The size of them and the amount of body fat absolutely increased this year," he said. "We shot three that were about 190 pounds. I also have a picture of another deer that I believe weighs 230 to 240 pounds on the hoof.” Losch added that the antler size is also increasing, which says a lot considering the property is in Pennsylvania. “Deer are heavily pressured in Pennsylvania, and most bucks aren’t allowed to grow old," he said. "Also, bucks in our mountain area tend to have smaller racks than elsewhere in the state. You might shoot bucks with 140- to 150-inch racks. That’s about all the time they’re given to grow before they’re killed. “Before the pipeline project, we took about a dozen bucks a year on average, and most of them were 1-½ years old and had smaller racks. This year, we took some 120s and 130s and a 140. I also have trailcamera pictures of another buck, and although I’m not the best at judging rack size from a picture, I think it might be pushing 150. “To be clear, I can’t say that the increases in antler size among the bucks we harvested this year are attributable to the additional nutrition being supplied by the new pipeline plots because we’ve only had those plots for one year. I believe we’ll see antler size improving because of increased nutrition in two or three years down the road. But I can attribute this year’s improvement to the additional attraction of the new plots. They have helped draw that class of buck to the property, and they’ve improved our chances of harvesting them by making them more visible.”

Turkeys

Better quality deer have been attracted to the property since the pipeline reclamation project began.

Tom has also observed a huge increase in the club’s turkey population just in the past year. “The understory on most of the club’s property is mountain laurel, which is a desert for turkeys,” he said. "Before the project, you might occasionally see turkeys in a field in spring, and maybe one turkey through summer or fall on certain parts of the property that had open timber. Now, I see turkeys almost every time I go to the property, and in multiple places. Every few days, I’ll see a flock of turkeys feeding

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When the snow flies and the rut is on, food plots on the natural gas pipeline become a “go-to” hunting spot. on the pipeline. In 50 years I’ve never seen so many turkeys.”

Other Wildlife Losch said an inherent benefit of the pipeline right away is its edge effect. “Anyone who has a biology or a wildlife background knows exactly what edge effect means,” he said. “We created open areas when we took the trees out for the pipeline. That allows more sunlight to reach the ground, and that’s going to stimulate the growth of seedlings that might have lain dormant there and create a whole new growth of understory. As a result, we’re starting to see some rabbits — definitely seeing that — and of course when you’re way up in the mountains it’s kind of uncommon to see rabbits. And it’s going to be attractive to additional species of songbirds, such as bluebirds, indigo buntings and cardinals because we’ve created a much better habitat for them.” Project Biologist Kevin Yoder also sees the huge positive effect the project has had on wildlife habitat and cites Elbow and Anadarko’s partnership approach as a major contributor. “I think that what Elbow and Anadarko are teaming up to do here is a great partnership and really an example of what reclamation and restoration of a pipeline can do for wildlife," he said. "We’re going to have brood habitat on the pipeline. We’re going to have golden-winged warbler habitat in the forest. We’re going to see more and healthier deer.” As successful as the project’s first year has been, Elbow and Anadarko are still hard at work preparing to build on their initial success. For example, the partners plan to extend habitat management to an additional 16 acres along gathering lines, which transport natural gas to the main pipeline trunk. Losch said that he will also be adjusting the club’s forage plan over the next few years to find the perfect balance of seasonal forage availability for wildlife. “Once we get the soil pH brought up in the 29 acres along the main trunk of the pipeline, those 29 acres won’t be all Imperial Whitetail Clover. We’re going to start using some of the new acreage to plant more winter food such as Tall Tine Tubers and Winter-Greens. Because of natural browse and the Imperial Whitetail Clover we already have planted, the deer have plenty of early spring, summer and early fall food, but they still don’t have enough winter food,” Losch said.

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Educating Others So far in this article, we’ve focused primarily on the project’s many benefits to wildlife. Even so, the most far-reaching benefit of the project may be the opportunities it provides for educating others. “When oil and gas companies approach you for a right of way, it shouldn’t be viewed as a negative impact to the land,” Barbier said. “In Pennsylvania, there’s quite a bit of forest, and if you do want a food plot, a lot of times you have to do some clearcutting or timbering. The cost of that is paid for by the company, and it gives the landowner an opportunity to use new food plot areas that may have been out of reach previously.” As Losch explained, “many landowners in north-central Pennsylvania simply did not have the financial resources to devote to wildlife food plots in the past. But with the explosion in oil and natural gas development of the Marcellus Shale these landowners now have the money to devote to such projects. The demonstration area has given us a way to show them what can happen when a pipeline is managed for wildlife habitat. We are giving the wildlife a smorgasbord — an overabundance of food on this pipeline — and we can show people, ‘Look at all the deer.

Food plots on natural gas pipelines can provide food for deer all year. www.whitetailinstitute.com


Look at all the turkeys.’ They see for themselves the benefits a pipeline can have when it’s managed the right way,” he said. “Anadarko has also brought in government representatives, national media and people from Great Britain and as far away as Uzbekistan to witness firsthand the positive impact Anadarko’s development of natural gas on our property has had and is continuing to provide.” “Because of the partnership, we’ve been very successful here,” Yoder said. “I really like that we’ve been able to put so many people in different organizations together and make good habitat and meet multiple objectives, and I think they’ll be reaping rewards for many years to come.”

Final Thoughts The Whitetail Institute applauds the working relationship between Elbow and Anadarko. By taking the initiative, Elbow’s and Anadarko’s efforts toward developing the pipeline as a demonstration area have helped improve wildlife habitat and create an excellent educational tool for the public. Anadarko and other companies like them are sometimes ostracized by far left environmentalists, even though the energy it helps provide is critical to our country’s economy. The Elbow pipeline project proves Anadarko’s willingness to step up to the plate and spend the money to leave the land in better shape than it found it, especially for wildlife. As we’ve discussed, the Elbow pipeline has already yielded a wide range of substantial benefits, from improvements in wildlife habitat to educating the public. In reality, though, those benefits support something much broader: the concept of stewardship or the careful

and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. Here’s how Whitetail Institute Vice President Steve Scott explained the stewardship perspective: “There are lots of anti-hunting groups and organizations out there who say they stand for conservation or wildlife, but whose only activities are negative, in my opinion. What separates all of us who plant food plots apart from the antis is that what we’re doing is a positive that actually benefits wildlife. That’s the very same thing that’s unique about the Whitetail Institute’s industry segment, which the Whitetail Institute started more than 25 years ago. What we provide is not a faster bullet. It’s not a better camo. Things like that are very important to the longevity of our way of life, but they don’t directly benefit the animal we’re hunting. Whitetail Institute develops the very best foodplot products and other deer-nutrition products we can because our customers want more deer and better deer to hunt, but at the end of the day, that’s also the only thing in the hunting industry that directly benefits the animals we hunt as well as other wildlife, from songbirds to rabbits. “And when you look at the far-reaching effects of what hunters have given back in the way of protecting wild areas, helping endangered species recover, and generally improving the land for all wildlife, everyone who plants food plots are really some of the most effective environmentalists in the world. And I’ve even had a few anti-hunters actually compliment us on what we’re doing. They might not like the fact that we hunt, but they do say they appreciate the fact that what we do actually benefits the animals being targeted and other wildlife as well. It makes us feel great to know that we’re having such a positive impact on the land and on the wildlife.” ^

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Whitetail Institute RECORD BOOK BUCKS‌ Eric Friedel – Illinois

Adam Hays — Kansas Just a quick note to say thanks again Whitetail Institute and to share a photo of my Kansas buck I shot yesterday. Killed him in a funnel between my Tall Tine Tubers food plot and a major bedding area. The Tall Tine Tubers did great despite the drought!

Francis Zydzik — Pennsylvania

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I don’t own land. I hunt strategic corridors and pinch points on private suburban properties. I heard about this deer and another customer saw him repeatedly on adjacent property behind his house but the deer would not show himself to me until I put out the Four Play block. The rest is history. 16 point, 210 pounds, 7-

I planted 3 acres of Imperial Whitetail Clover and two years later I killed this monster 9 pointer that field dressed over 250 lbs.(photo 1) I’ve been using Whitetail Institute products ever since, trying to get more antler mass on the bucks. It has paid off. I killed the 155 inch 10 pointer (photo 2) this past

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November and it proved to me yet again that Whitetail Institute products really make a difference. Thank you Whitetail Institute.

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1/2 to 8-1/2 year old, scored 188 gross and 173 net non-typical P&Y. I have since begun to use Tall Tine Tubers and NoPlow on other suburban properties. Whitetail Institute products keeps’em meaty, beaty, big’n bouncy and my freezer full. Unquestionable, even in small plot suburban settings Whitetail Institute products are a definite deer magnet. www.whitetailinstitute.com


Harry Boyd — Ohio I’ve planted different seeds from my local coop for several years. This past year I decided to plant Whitetail Institute products. Wow, what a difference. The Winter Peas Plus were hit first and they were hammered. The Tall Tine Tubers are amazing, the deer ate the tops first and then started digging up the tubers. We’ve also had great luck with the Imperial Whitetail Clover in the bottom fields. Its 6-8 inches tall in three months. I can’t wait to see how it helps hold the deer on my property all year. The main thing I’ve noticed this year is that the plots seem much more preferred. The does are in the plots more often and I’m seeing bucks that I’ve never seen before. My friend Steve, who hunts with me can’t believe how good our hunting is. Also, my neighbors are saying they aren’t seeing deer like they have in years past. I’m fairly confident I know where their deer went. On Halloween I got a picture of a huge buck with drop tines on one of my trail cameras. Unfortunately work kept me from hunting for the next two weeks. But on Nov. 13 I was going hunting no matter what anybody said. I couldn’t stand it any longer. I got in my stand with my crossbow at 2 p.m. said a prayer and at 2:30 p.m. he was standing broadside at 15 yards from my stand. Somehow, despite my nerves I made a good shot and he ran only about 60 yards. He scored 213 2/8 and the guy that scored him said he’s the #1 buck ever taken in my county with a crossbow and the #18 all time in Ohio with a crossbow. I thank the Whitetail Institute and I especially want to thank the Lord for blessing me with the biggest deer I’ve ever seen while hunting and I thank Him for answering my prayer.

Ryan Woller — Wisconsin 9 years ago we purchased 60 acres. The land was primarily non worked farm land. Shortly afterwards I began planting food plots after my brother in law introduced me to Imperial Whitetail Clover. He showed me 2 plots on his farm. One was planted in Imperial Whitetail Clover and was 3 years old and one that was standard clover from a coop. The Imperial Whitetail Clover plot was very impressive and that is when I began using it. The first year I started with a small Imperial Whitetail Clover plot on my new farm. Since that first year I have added a plot of Chicory Plus, a plot of Winter-Greens, two bigger plots of Imperial Whitetail Clover and a plot of PowerPlant. Besides the food plots I have planted over 5,000 trees for cover and browse. Pines, spruce, dogwoods, elderberry, apple, and various nuts. I have been seeing more deer, mainly does and the bucks show up at night on camera. Given the drought I was very impressed at how well the products grew this past year even with the lack of water. During the bow season the products were drawing does on a regular basis which gave me confidence I would have a shot at a nice buck. I saw several bucks during bow season. I never had a shooter in range but did get to see some from a distance. The food plots have definitely done a great job of drawing and holding deer. The late season product Winter-Greens is great for November. I have no doubt that the product has held deer close and allowed me to see more deer during the hunting season. It is December and the deer are still coming. I took the buck in the photo this past November. He has 22 points and scores around 190. ^

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

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

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Whitetail Institute Perennials An Abundance of Choices By Ben Jennings Photos by Charles J. Alsheimer

ith few exceptions, no matter where you hunt, the Whitetail Institute has a perennial forage product designed to meet your needs. To get the best performance from your food plots, make sure you choose a perennial that’s designed for the planting conditions of the site in which you’ll be planting it. In this article, we’ll show you how to do that. As you’ll see, in many cases, you’ll have more than one outstanding Imperial perennial to choose from. Preliminary Matters First, do you have to plant perennials to get the best hunting results? Absolutely not. Annuals can be an excellent option in many cases, as a complement to perennial plantings or even used exclusively in a food plot system. When possible, though, planting perennials can act as the backbone of a food plot system, keeping quality food more readily available throughout the year, offering

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cost savings over several years and allowing annuals to be used to increase forage variety and tonnage even further.

Equipment Requirements Up front, make sure you understand that you’ll need equipment access to any plot in which you plan to plant perennials. That’s because Whitetail Institute perennials are designed to be planted in prepared seedbeds, which requires the use of ground-tillage equipment. Also, to make sure your perennials last as long as they should, you’ll need to be able to mow them a few times in spring and summer, and when necessary and appropriate, spray them with an appropriate herbicide to control competition from native grasses and other weeds.

Online Forage Selector To make the forage selection process as easy as possible, the Whitetail Institute has developed an Online Forage Selector that will lead you to the right forage(s) for each of your food plot sites with the push of a few buttons. It’s available on the Whitetail Institute’s website, www.whitetailinstitute.com. Just go to the website, and click on the link at the top that says “Product Selector.”

General Perennial Forage Selection Steps Each Whitetail Institute perennial forage product has been developed to meet a specific set of planting conditions that a planter might face. In many cases there’s a good bit of overlap, but it makes www.whitetailinstitute.com


sense to select a perennial that’s specifically designed for your situation. The Online Forage Selector is structured in the same way you’d generally select the best perennial for your needs: by going through a short list of questions in a specific order to progressively narrow the range of product options until the best option(s) is identified. Below, we’ll follow the same step-by-step path to choosing the perennial forage best suited for your situation in even greater detail.

the plot’s slope. It’s important to consider both factors because the root depth of the forage components in Whitetail Institute perennials can vary. Consider Alfa-Rack Plus for example. The root systems of its alfalfa and chicory components can grow as deep as three feet into the soil, while the Imperial Whitetail Clover component isn’t as deeply rooted.

Step 1: Minimum Annual Rainfall

It’s easy to determine the recommended dates for planting Whitetail Institute perennials in your area. They’re shown on the back of the product bags, and you can also find them at www.whitetailinstitute.com by clicking on the “Planting Dates” link at the top of the home page.

If you live in the eastern half of the United States, you get enough annual rainfall to sustain all Whitetail Institute perennial forage products. Whitetail Institute perennial forage products do vary in the minimum amount of rainfall they need to flourish. Keep in mind that when determining which perennial to choose, the rainfall level you have to go by is the minimum rainfall you expect to get each year during the expected life of the stand, not the average. Imperial Whitetail Clover requires at least 30 inches in annual rainfall. The Whitetail Institute’s grazing alfalfas and Chic Magnet, WINA perennial forage chicory, require at least 25 to 30 inches. Extreme needs at least 15 inches in annual rainfall. Also, again keep in mind that we’re talking about the minimum annual rainfall needed for the stand to survive. If you get more rainfall than the minimum listed for a particular product, you can certainly still plant it. In fact, that’s even better.

Step 4: Spring Planting or Fall Planting?

Narrowing Your Perennial Forage Options In many situations, you’ll find that you have multiple options to choose from in the Whitetail Institute perennial line. Sites with good, moderately drained soils are a good example. In such cases, you can choose Imperial Whitetail Clover, Double-Cross, Chicory Plus, AlfaRack Plus, Chic Magnet, Edge and Extreme. Here are some examples of other factors you might take into account in such cases to narrow your options down.

Step 2: Soil pH and Lime If soil pH is low and you can’t lime the seedbed, select Imperial Whitetail Extreme for the site. I really had some heartburn writing that — for several reasons. First, all of the Whitetail Institute’s high-quality forages products grow best when soil pH is within the range of 6.5 to 7.5 (that is, neutral soil pH), and that includes Extreme. Even so, Extreme can tolerate lower soil pH better than other perennials. For example, like any alfalfa, the grazing-variety alfalfas in Alfa-Rack Plus and Edge will struggle if planted where soil pH is below neutral. Looking at it honestly, it is possible to lime most seedbeds before planting. It might just be harder to do so if the plot is remote or not easily accessed with the large quantities of lime it usually takes to effectively raise soil pH. In my opinion, though, the better option in such cases is to bite the bullet and lime the seedbed, and then plant an annual such as Imperial Whitetail No-Plow for one season until soil pH has risen to neutral range. That way, you have an excellent food plot that will draw deer like a magnet the first year, and then you can expand your forage options into a perennial once soil pH is up. If you really can’t lime a seedbed in which soil pH is low, though, Extreme will be able to tolerate lower soil pH better than any other Whitetail Institute perennial.

Step 3: How Well-Drained the Seedbed Is What we’re talking about in this section is how well (or poorly) the seedbed will be able to retain moisture so that it’s available to the forage plants as they sprout and grow. That depends on two factors that should be considered together: how well the soil itself can retain moisture, and how quickly water runs off the seedbed as determined by

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Partially shaded sites. Like all Whitetail Institute perennial products, Imperial Whitetail Clover can tolerate as little as four hours of broken, filtered or indirect sunlight a day. It’s also the most moisturetolerant perennial in the Whitetail Institute line, making it an excellent option for such sites in which soil moisture may dissipate more slowly because of limited sunlight. What about climates in which late summer and early fall can be excessively hot or prone to drought? Most of us remember the terrible droughts that affected so much of the country a few years ago. Imperial Whitetail Clover is highly drought resistant. Even so, it has certain self-protection aspects to it, and it can slow production under unusually hot, dry conditions. The Whitetail Institute developed Chicory Plus specifically for such situations. First, WINA-100 chicory is very drought resistant, with roots that can grow several feet down into the soil, and it can keep the plot attractive and nutritious even through excessively hot, dry weather might slow clover production. Second, it stays highly palatable to deer even as it matures, unlike some other chicories that tend to become stemmy and waxy. As a result, Chicory Plus boosts the attraction, tonnage and drought resistance of the stand even further.

Double-Cross Double-Cross features Imperial Whitetail Clover, plus WINA Annual Forage Brassicas for additional tonnage during fall and winter. As is the case with Chicory Plus, Double-Cross has also been developed to maximize stand performance for planters with a narrower performance need: the industry-leading attraction and sustained nutrition of Imperial Whitetail Clover plus a tonnage boost for the cold winter months, all in a single product. The brassicas in Double-Cross are annuals, so what remains in the plot after the first fall and winter is essentially a straight stand of Imperial Whitetail Clover. Even so, many Double-Cross customers elect to reintroduce brassicas into the stand by top-dressing the stand with Imperial Whitetail WinterGreens in the fall. “Rolling” Sites. As mentioned, Alfa-Rack Plus contains alfalfa and chicory, which grow deep roots, and Imperial Whitetail Clover, which is not as deeply rooted. That makes Alfa-Rack Plus an excellent option for sites with good soils that roll or have high and low spots across the seedbed. In such cases, the Imperial Whitetail Clover component often establishes more heavily in the lower areas, and the alfalfa and chicory components more so on the slopes and tops, providing a lush, unbroken stand across the entire seedbed. Sloped Sites with Fewer Low Spots. Edge combines grazing alfalfas, Persist forb, WINA-100 perennial forage chicory, and a specially selected sainfoin for full-spectrum attraction and perennial performance in good, well-drained soils. It is an excellent choice if the site has fewer low or flat spots that would benefit from an Imperial Whitetail Clover component. Again, these are just some examples. Any of the options we’ve discussed for sites with good soils and a seedbed that drains are excellent options, provided soil pH is 6.5 to 7.5 at planting. If you have a site or planting need for which you need help selecting a forage, give the Whitetail Institute’s forage selector a try, or just call the Whitetail Institute. Our in-house consultants are ready to help you choose a forage to meet your needs. They’re available at (800) 688-3030 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., CST, Monday through Friday. The call and the service are free. ^

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One Moment. One Choice.

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Whitetail Institute Forage Products

The VALUE FACTORS

How to determine the true returns on your forage investment dollars By Jon Cooner

Have you ever considered that any time you spend money on hunting you’re actually making an investment? And as with any investment, you’ll need to know how to spot real value if you want to get the most in return from your hunting-related investments. If the returns you want are to actually attract more deer to your property, hold them there and improve their quality, then Whitetail Institute forage products are the very best investments you can make. You might wonder how I can say the things I spend money on for hunting are investments rather than expenses. Although accountants might disagree with me, I think “expenses” are mandatory payments — cash outlays I have to make to get something I consider essential to my daily life, such as groceries and utilities. “Investments”, though, I see as different from expenses in two ways. First, I put money into investments voluntarily. Second, I expect to get something I consider rewarding back — in other words, a return on my investment. So, how do you know which investments to choose? If we all had our way, we’d all have unlimited funds and wouldn’t have to worry about choosing investments. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for most of us. Because our funds are limited, we have to make choices about what to spend money on. For me to invest in anything, it has to offer more than just a return I want. It also has to offer that return at a reasonable cost. In other words, it has to offer me value. To determine an investment’s “value,” weigh expected return against cost

Scope Of This Article Because the list of hunting-related investments most of us make every year is too broad to cover in one article, we’ll limit our discussion to investments for attracting deer to your property, holding them there and improving their quality. The reason we’ll focus on those particular investments is that they’re at the top of the list of things that can improve your odds of hunting success. Unless your investments to attract, hold and grow more and better deer pay off, the returns from

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your investments in things like archery equipment, camo and tree stands are much less likely to improve your hunting success.

First Value Factor: Expected Return As mentioned, identifying the best investment values (expected return weighed against cost) starts with identifying the specific return you expect. For most of us, the list of hunting-related things we spend money on is pretty broad. Examples include archery equipment, firearms and ammunition, tree stands, camo, boots, lime, fertilizer and food-plot seed, to name but a few. As broad as the list is, though, every item on it offers the same expected return: improved odds of hunting success. As we’ll discuss, it’s critical to keep that specific expected return in mind when you’re looking for the best values among huntingrelated investments. Remember what I said earlier? To compare investments by value, you have to start by identifying the return you expect. And that expected return isn’t just to make your property more attractive to deer. It’s to actually improve your odds of hunting success. Will planting food plots that make your property more attractive actually accomplish that? Maybe. But then again, maybe not. The answer depends on what competition you face. You can see what I mean when you consider that the additional deer you hope to attract to your property won’t magically materialize out of thin air. You’ll have to draw them from somewhere else — and it must already be pretty attractive there, too. Otherwise the deer wouldn’t be there.

Winning The Attraction Competition So, what food-plot competition do you likely face? Chances are, many of you are competing to some degree with what I’ll refer to as farm crops — plants designed for harvest, hay production or grazing by cattle. As any farmer will tell you, farm crops can be attractive to deer. That’s why hunters have been planting them in food plots for years. So if your food plots are going to help you win the deer-attraction competition, you’ll need to plant something deer prefer even more than farm crops. You’ll have to maximize attraction. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that farm crops have no place in food plots. Instead, I’m trying to get you to think competitively so that you can get the return you expect: to actually improve your odds of hunting success. And that’s where Whitetail Institute forage products really shine. The main reason lies in their very nature. Unlike ordinary farm crops, Whitetail Institute forage products are specifically designed to attract, hold and grow deer. If you’re a longtime Whitetail Institute customer, you already know how well forages specifically designed for deer work. If you want additional proof, though, walk through the seed section of a farm-supply store some time. You’ll likely find that they sell lots of different seeds for plant types that seem very similar. Take clover for example. You’ll find seeds for white clover, red clover, alyce clover, arrowleaf clover and many other types of clover, as well as seeds for different varieties of corn, alfalfa, soybeans — virtually any kind of agricultural plant you can think of. So, why are there seeds for so many plant types with only relatively slight differences available on the market? Because farmers, cattlemen and other commercial consumers demand specialized plant varieties designed to maximize performance in the precise application they intend. Soybeans are another excellent example. Agricultural soybeans www.whitetailinstitute.com


are attractive to deer but they are specifically designed for a different purpose: to emphasize bean production for farmers. The Whitetail Institute includes forage-type soybeans in Imperial Whitetail PowerPlant, though, because they’re designed to emphasize foliage production. As such, they outperform agricultural soybeans when used as a forage for deer. The additional proof I mentioned earlier lies in the reason seed producers make the huge financial investment it takes to develop new plant varieties for specific purposes: there is enough demand for them to do so, and that demand exists because specialized plant varieties work. And that is exactly the understanding that lead to Ray Scott’s idea that just as plant varieties are developed for harvest, hay production and grazing by cattle, forages could be also specifically designed to meet the unique attraction and nutritional requirements for deer. It was that idea that started the whole food-plot revolution with the founding of the Whitetail Institute in 1988 and led to the development of Imperial Whitetail Clover, the first food-plot product ever specifically designed for food plots for whitetails. The same sort of proof shows that the specially designed forage products offered by the Whitetail Institute actually improve the odds of hunting success, even in the face of competition from farm crops. For more than 25 years, the Whitetail Institute has continued to focus its efforts exclusively on developing food-plot products specifically for deer. During that entire time, the Whitetail Institute has never deviated from its core business. It has remained the industry leader. Its customer base has increased every year, and more than one million acres have been planted in Whitetail Institute products. With that track record, there is no question that Whitetail Institute forage products truly do maximize the attractiveness of your food plots because they’re specifically designed for that purpose.

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So far, we’ve covered the expected return factor in our value analysis: improved odds of hunting success. We’ve also given you proof that Whitetail Institute forage products can help you maximize those odds, even when you’re competing with farm crops. If expected return were the only issue, then everyone would plant Whitetail Institute forage products instead of farm crops in their food plots. So, why don’t they? The main reason is that folks tend to make mistakes on the cost side of the value equation when comparison shopping for food-plot seed. And the biggest mistake they make is to base their buying decisions solely on price instead of cost.

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offered at the cheapest price. They’re designed for folks who understand that an investment’s potential to deliver an expected return depends entirely on quality, and that price must be reasonable given that potential. That’s not to say that pricing isn’t important to the Whitetail Institute. It is, but only after the Whitetail Institute is convinced that it has made the highest quality, best-performing product it can. And if that product can’t be priced competitively, the Whitetail Institute simply won’t offer it. Results Deer Feed is a prime example. The Results formula has been used in-house by the Whitetail Institute for many years. Even so, that formula wasn’t available to the public until fairly recently because it was too expensive for the Whitetail Institute to manufacture and price competitively. Results Deer Feed only became a product because a distributor in the feed- manufacturing industry showed the Whitetail Institute that it could produce Results more efficiently under its existing feed-manufacturing systems without sacrificing quality, and agreed to do so in return for exclusive rights to sell it. The notion of focusing on making the best quality products you can, and then pricing them competitively without sacrificing quality isn’t new. And when a company and its customers think that way, it’s a proven roadmap straight to mutual success.

tios Whitetail Institute testing shows to be optimum in a wide range of climates so that total stand performance will be the very best the Whitetail Institute can make.

What Are You Giving Up If You Don’t Make The Investment?

Now that we’ve identified expected return and cost, it’s time to complete our value comparison. If you’ve followed this article so far, though, you might have already reached the obvious conclusion: Whitetail Institute forage products are designed to help you maximize your odds of hunting success, and when you weigh that return against their cost (what you get, and what you give up if you don’t make the investment), you clearly see that they’re among the best investments you’ll find. Are Whitetail Institute forage products worth the few extra dollars it takes to buy them? Here again, the answer should be obvious. First, consider everything you spend money on every year that you expect to improve your odds of hunting success. For most of us, the list would be pretty long. Your notes would probably fill up several pages with a broad range of items, for example, lease payments, vehicle maintenance and repair, fuel, bows, arrows, broadheads, bow sights, firearms, scopes, ammunition, camo, boots, tree stands, lime, fertilizer and seed. Next, consider how much of that total hunting budget goes to purchase of food-plot seed. Of everything mentioned above, food plots are the best hunting-related investment you can make to actually have more deer and better quality deer on your land, and in most cases, food-plot seed purchases are a very small part of our overall hunting budgets. Yet, as we’ve shown, they are among the most important investments to choose wisely because they’re so important to attracting and holding deer. Hopefully after reading this article you now realize how important it is to make sure you don’t skimp on food-plot seed, if you really want to maximize your odds of hunting success. ^

By now, you may already see why basing a seed purchase decision on price alone is such a huge mistake. It’s because it completely ignores the concept of value. Cost, on the other hand, takes a lot more into account — not just how much money it takes to buy the seed, but also what you’ll be giving up if you buy something else. Here are some of the reasons why Whitetail Institute forage products win the cost battle hands down.

Whitetail Institute Forage Products Are Specifically Designed For Deer Although we’ve already covered how important seeds specifically designed for deer are to maximizing your hunting success, it bears repeating because it’s such a big reason why Whitetail Institute forages perform so well in food plots for deer.

Whitetail Institute Forage Products Are Designed To Maximize Overall Stand Performanc Have you ever considered why most Whitetail Institute forage products are blends? That’s because rarely will one single plant variety “max out” in all performance areas, such as sustained attraction, tolerance of cold and heat, and nutritional content. That’s why the Whitetail Institute goes to such exhaustive lengths to identify complementary plant varieties, and blend them in the precise ra-

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Whitetail Institute Seed Coatings Maximize Seedling Survivability Every Whitetail Institute forage product is prepared in such a way that seedling survivability is maximized. Whitetail Institute seed coatings, for example, help protect seeds from false germination, thereby maximizing seedling survivability. There’s no question that coated seed has a far higher seedling survivability rate than raw, uncoated seed. The Whitetail Institute’s Rainbond seed coating, for example, contains high-tech polymers that absorb up to 200 times their weight in moisture from the soil and keep it right next to the seed as it germinates. And they continue to absorb moisture from the soil, replenishing the supply they hold as the seedling uses it. Whitetail Institute coatings also contain the correct inoculant, fungicide or both on seeds that require them.

Making The Value Comparison

Is $20 standing between you and hunting success?

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Prevail in Minnesota By Bill Marchel Photos by the Author

wenty years ago, I purchased 70 acres of land in central Minnesota. My goal was to develop the land for wildlife. Because the acreage contained lowlands, I spent the first few years excavating ponds to attract ducks and other wetland wildlife. When the wetlands were in place, I switched gears and began implementing food plots, mainly to attract whitetail deer. I purchased an ATV and a variety of farming attachments to achieve my goals. A farm tractor would not be practical because of the muddy conditions and remote locations of my food plots. At the time, food plots for deer were not the rage they are today, and just a handful of seed products were available to landowners. One, of course, was Imperial Whitetail Clover. As a beginner food plotter I

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relied on information I received from the Whitetail Institute when I planted the Imperial Clover. I was amazed at the how well it grew, even in the heavy clay soils that constitute several of my food plots. Imperial Whitetail Clover proved to be great for the early season here in Minnesota. However, I wanted a food plot that would attract and provide nutrition for the deer and a place for me to bowhunt all the way until the archery season closed at the end of December. Corn was about the only choice back then. We all know deer love corn, but because my property is primarily lowland, and my plots are all less than an acre, corn was not a good option. Not only would the deer consume it long before the hunting season ended, but dealing with the stalks the next spring was always a hassle. An ATV equipped with farm implements just doesn't have the ability to chop up corn stalks and incorporate them into the soil. I needed to mow and then rake the stalks off the plot, a very time consuming and boring task. It became apparent to me I needed a food plot product that would provide a late-season attractant for whitetails after my clover and oats plots were consumed or had gone dormant. I first tried Imperial Whitetail Winter-Greens about six years ago. I was anxious to try the product because I had had such good luck with Imperial Whitetail Clover. Winter-Greens is a blend of annual brassicas, including a small www.whitetailinstitute.com


amount of Whitetail Institute's Tall Tine Turnips. Winter-Greens was developed for late-season food plots and late-season hunting. In my experience here in Minnesota, Winter-Greens grows quickly, is drought resistant and stays green even in below-zero weather. The mix is extremely palatable to deer and high in nutrients, and best of all deer generally don't consume the plants until after a hard freeze. Perfect for late-season hunting I like the fact that Winter-Greens grows quickly. I have a problem with annual weeds including pigweed and lambsquarter. When I plant Winter-Greens into a well prepared seedbed, the quick-growing plants and large leaves produced by the various brassicas and turnips help shade out the weeds. “We developed Winter-Greens using only the brassicas deer like the best, including lettuce-type brassicas,” said Steve Scott, vice president of the Whitetail Institute. “Winter-Greens is designed for late season. It stands tall even under the snow. A few years ago we added a small amount of Tall Tine Turnips to make Winter-Greens attract deer even longer into the late season. Winter-Greens is the most attractive brassicas product we have ever tested at the Whitetail Institute. “We always plant some plots with Winter-Greens on our place here in Alabama,” Scott added. “The deer begin hitting those plots with the first frosts in November.” Scott advised landowners to rotate brassicas plots with a different plant species at least every two years. “We like to rotate Winter-Greens with Whitetail Oats Plus,” he said. Early on, I learned the hard way that soil preparation, and proper lime and fertilizer applications are important to healthy food plots. To get the most out of my food plots plantings, I annually check the soil in my plots by using the soil test kits available from the Whitetail Institute. I like the way the Whitetail Institute spells out the results and recommendations of the tests. The forms are much easier to read and comprehend than test kits I’ve used from other sources. You don't need to be a seasoned farmer to correctly analyze and apply the recommendations. Easy-to-understand soil-gathering instructions are included with each kit. Here in Minnesota, I try to plant Winter-Greens about mid-July. The Whitetail Institute suggests planting Winter-Greens 60 days before the first frost. If I get ideal planting conditions earlier, say the beginning of July, I’ll plant Winter-Greens then. Last year’s extreme drought dictated that I plant in mid-August. Although the late planting was not the ideal time to plant, I got respectable results. I’ve discovered that if Winter-Greens has enough moisture to germinate, the plants usually do well, even if dry conditions continue. My Minnesota land is located in one of the most heavily hunted regions of the United States. More than 80 percent of our yearling bucks are harvested each season. Couple that with the fact the Minnesota DNR has offered what many hunters believe is an excess of antlerless permits in recent years, I knew going in to my food plot program that harvesting 180-class bucks was not very likely to be in my future. I also knew that no matter how well I managed my land — implementing food plots, sanctuaries and water sources — that I would not be able to keep deer from leaving the boundaries of my small acreage. So, I tend to follow the rule that I’m satisfied to harvest the bucks that are in the top 10 percent, antler-wise, of the deer in my area. That usually means a buck in the 110- to 125-inch range. I use my trail camera surveys, plus time in the field to analyze the size and number of deer using my plots. After my Winter-Greens plots have been subjected to a couple of

The Whitetail Institute is proud to offer Imperial Whitetail WinterGreens, our annual brassica blend designed specifically for late season food plot sources and hunting opportunities. Winter-Greens blend of brassica is extremely attractive, and during tests was preferred 4 to 1 over other brassica products tested. Winter-Greens stands tall and stays green, even in the coldest winter weather. The colder it gets the more sweet and attractive it becomes which creates perfect food plots for late season hunting. So this year plant our highly drought resistant WinterGreens and give your deer a valuable source of nutrients for the winter season.

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hard frosts, usually just before Halloween, the deer quickly gravitate to them. That’s despite the fact that farms surrounding my land contain standing corn, alfalfa and other known deer attractants. Deer continue to feed on Winter-Greens until not a leaf or stalk is left. Then they eat the frozen turnips, gnawing on them until they are below the level of the frozen ground. When the snow is deep, the deer pound away at the frozen powder until my Winter-Green plots resemble mine fields. And the trails leading to and from the plots are like miniature highways through the snow. I love to try new food plot products introduced by the Whitetail Institute. But, each year, I will always reserve at least two or three of the plots for Winter-Greens. When I first decided to try food plots, I was somewhat skeptical; but because of everything I had heard and read on the subject, I expected my hunting to improve. I can say without reservation that my original expectations were exceeded by at least five times. It is enjoyable to work the land and it brings a significant amount of satisfaction to see what was a raw piece of land become home to all sorts of wildlife and know that I created that with my time, sweat and money. And having more deer call my place home makes for much more enjoyable hunts in the fall and winter. ^

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The author with a great bow-kill that was the result of his investment of time, sweat and money. www.whitetailinstitute.com


SHARE THE KNOW-HOW…

…and transform hunting neighbors into property managers 48 WHITETAIL NEWS

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Get Your Friends and Neighbors Started Right By Craig Dougherty Photos by the Author

uring the past 25 years, my son Neil and I have introduced thousands of deer hunters to deer property management. Nothing excites us more than seeing an average (or sub-average) piece of whitetail property transformed into a first-rate piece of hunting ground. We do it because it’s good for hunting and good for wildlife. We also do it because the more people managing property, the better it is for us all. What’s better, one guy managing his 200 acres in the middle of 1,000 acres of ‘if it’s brown-it’s-down’ guys or 30 guys managing 10 square miles and helping each other? That one is a nobrainer. Neil and I have turned many of our hunting neighbors into property managers. Instead of three mature bucks in the neighborhood, there are now over 20. How do you lose with those kinds of numbers? That’s part of the reason we have more than our share of good luck hunting big bucks. But after 25 or more years of trying, we still have some neighborhood holdouts. We keep after them, and little by little, the neighborhood is coming around. Here are some of our favorite strategies for bringing our friends and neighbors into the fold.

Food Matters Food is the keystone of a good deer property. A good natural vegetation program is a must, but nothing beats food plots for attracting and growing good deer. And nothing beats a great food plot for showing your buddies and neighbors how they can turn their pile of rocks into a great hunting property. Note, we said “showing,” because the key to converting food plot skeptics into food plot fanatics is a little show-and-tell. And, when it comes to showing off what we have done,

you can’t beat Whitetail Institute products for results. We have used Whitetail Institute products for years and have yet to be let down. The company's Imperial Whitetail Clover started the whole thing back in the late 1980s, and since then it has gotten nothing but better. An acre of Imperial Whitetail Clover has “deer” written all over it and makes a great show piece. It grows dense and leafy, just like deer clover is supposed to. Keep it weed free with an occasional mowing or an occasional application of Arrest and/or Slay herbicide, and you’ll have a plot that deer just can’t stay out of. Your neighbors and hunting buddies will be “green” with envy.

Use Only the Best If you are going to bring new recruits into the property management fold, you had better be using the best. We are amazed at the proliferation of food plot products out there. Some are barely OK, and others are downright “not good.” The Whitetail Institute is clearly at the top of the pack. A lot of local feed and seed stores and second-rate seed companies use cattle forages in their mixes. They might be fine when baled up for cattle to eat, but they are just the wrong thing for deer (too much stem material). If you want to create great whitetail food plots, you will need to start with great seed. It might cost a few more cents per pound, but it will be more than worth it during the life of your plot. Stay away from cheap no-name brands and bulk seed. The Whitetail Institute spends years scientifically developing specific plants for specific needs and conditions. We know, as we have been helping the company test them up here in New York for years. You should never compromise on seed quality. Avoid off brands like the plague.

Circulate Scouting Cam Photos Short of a bait pile, which is illegal in some states, the best place to set up a scouting camera is on a food plot. Deer use them regularly, and they produce some world-class beauty shots. Circulating them among your buddies is a great way to make them food plot believers. But don’t stop with just sending a photo of a deer. If you want to drive home the “food plots work” message, set up a sign in the shot that identifies what is planted in the plot. You can staple an empty seed bag to a board on a stake to drive the point home. If you don’t want to be quite that blatant, you can caption it with something that identifies what the deer are feeding on. Something like, “December buck digging Winter-Greens” will get the message across and help your audience understand how the whole food plot thing works. How about “Imperial Whitetail Clover fattening 'em up” as a subject heading for a nice doe/fawn group shot in September? I once saw a

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WHITETAIL NEWS 49


“December buck digging Winter-Greens.”

great shot of deer on a Chicory Plus plot that was green when everything else had gone brown from a summer drought. It was labeled, “Chicory Plus lives when everything else dies.” Everyone likes to look at deer pictures. Tying them into your food plot program will make believers of even the most dyed-in-the-wool skeptic.

Do a Deer Census Before the advent of deer cameras, each September a friend would get a group of deer nuts together to count deer. He needed to know his population numbers and fawn recruitment rates to set harvest guidelines for the upcoming season. We were always happy to show up to count deer and compare notes afterward. Where did he do his counting? You guessed it, on Whitetail Institute food plots. He gave each watcher a tally sheet labeled with a food plot ID number. He also listed what was planted because they always would ask. It was always planted in something from the Whitetail Institute family. The guys had lots of fun comparing notes on what forages the deer used the most on a given evening. Counting 23 bucks and 49 does and fawns in one night makes food plot believers of us all. The most popular plot? Imperial Whitetail Clover. The second most popular? Alfa Rack Plus.

Plan a Hunting Camp Hot Dog Roast

Call

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50 WHITETAIL NEWS

Research = Results™ / Vol. 24, No. 1

We’ve seen it work dozens of times. Slap a few burgers and hot dogs on the grill, and invite the neighbors for a deer hunter’s neighborhood cookout. You sit around and talk deer hunting and property management, and before long food plotting will come up. That’s when you make your move. Take them out to see what you have planted and how you hunt it. Show them some pics of dead deer or mounts on the wall. If you want your neighbors to join in on the habitat management game, this is a great time to whet their appetites. Having a bag of seed handy for show-and-tell really can help the conversation along. Ever see a bag of Whitetail Institute seed? It’s got all kinds of easy planting directions and great user information on it. No brown paper sack full of seed. A bag of Winter-Greens is a sight to behold; very inviting and easy for a beginner to master. www.whitetailinstitute.com


Invite Them to a Planting Party Inviting your friends and neighbors in to see how you plant is always a good way to get folks started planting plots. They will get a good feel for working the ground and the importance of soil testing and fertilizing. Again, the Whitetail Institute has made that part of it easy. Having a test kit on hand will enable you to show guests just how easy it is to do a soil test, and having some existing test results handy will show them the kind of information they will be provided for a little over a sawbuck. We like to plant strips of various seed varieties when demonstrating planting techniques. That way, we can discuss how Chicory Plus will take over when the drought and heat sometimes knock the clover down in July. Or how we like Extreme on poor soils, and how when the freeze sets in, they will be all over the Tall Tine Tubers and Winter-Greens. This gives them a sense that various plants can be planted for different conditions. The Whitetail Institute has a great variety of well-designed plants for almost any condition Mother Nature can deliver.

Take ‘Em Hunting When all else fails, you can always take them hunting on your managed property. We do this on occasion when we need some help taking does. If you have never seen a hunter who hasn’t seen a deer in 12 sits on his own property sit up straight when the deer begin to come to a plot full of Winter-Greens on a cold December afternoon, you are

in for a surprise. Chances are his eyes will almost pop out of his head as he fights back his excitement. Nothing turns a hunter onto food plot hunting like seeing deer where he thought there were none. The best time to do this is the absolute end of the season, when most of the guys have given up for the year. If you have a good assortment of plots planted, chances are they will be all over the Tall Tine Tubers or Winter-Greens by season’s end.

Yes, you sometimes have to do a little hunter manipulation to go along with your deer habitat work. Deer hunting is a lot better and more fun when everyone in your neighborhood and all your hunting buddies are on the same page. You help each other out and at the same time help out the deer. We have yet to meet a food plotter who regrets getting started, and we have yet to meet one who hasn’t been happy with all the help the Whitetail Institute provides. We’ve written two books and published a pair of DVDs to help hunters and landowners along the way, and the Whitetail Institute has given them everything they need to be successful since starting it all in 1988. That’s why we wrote our books and published our videos. And, that’s why we have had almost 5,000 visitors to our western New York property — to see how you can turn a pile of rocks and clay into a first-rate deer property. ^

Ensure the success of your food plots.

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

800-688-3030 whitetailinstitute.com

The Whitetail Institute

®

52 WHITETAIL NEWS

TREATED

UN-TREATED

— 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043

Research = Results™ / Vol. 24, No. 1

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REWARDS IN THE WHITETAIL WOODS —

It's easy to see why Minnesota bowhunter Kale Graham's favorite food plot offering is brassicas! Kale has taken a number of big bucks along brassica fields.

Habits of Successful Food Plotters By Joe Blake Photos by the Author

onditions could not have been more poor for my daughter Megan’s first deer season last year. Extremely high winds and rain kept deer movement at a standstill throughout the opening weekend of the Minnesota rifle season, and as Thursday morning dawned, the nine-day hunt was already winding down. With only four days left to hunt, my wife Kim decided to hunt that morning before school, so she and Megan left the house in the pre-dawn darkness and made their way across our property. A blind watching over a lush field of Tall Tine Tubers in the corner of our 75 acres was their destination, and that proved to be a wise decision. 54 WHITETAIL NEWS

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www.whitetailinstitute.com


Food Plot Planting Guide‌ PLANTING DATES FOR IMPERIAL CLOVER, ALFA-RACK PLUS, EXTREME, NO-PLOW, CHICORY PLUS, CHIC MAGNET AND EDGE    

   

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

PLANTING DATES FOR DOUBLE-CROSS, PURE ATTRACTION, SECRET SPOT, WINTER PEAS AND BOWSTAND    

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

PLANTING DATES FOR WINTER-GREENS™ AND TALL TINE TUBERS™    

 

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. 24, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 55


Glancing at her watch, Kim whispered to our 10-year-old daughter that they’d have to start packing up as they had to head back to the house in a few minutes if they were going to make it to school on time. No sooner had the words left her mouth than movement at the edge of the woods caught their eyes. A fat young buck trotted from cover and into the field of turnips in front of them and dropped his head to feed. Megan eased her .243 onto the shooting sticks and took careful aim at the buck 60 yards away. When the little gun barked, the buck exploded from the field and disappeared back into the heavy timber. His flight would be a short one, though, as Megan had made a perfect double-lung shot, putting the fat 7-pointer down in a matter of seconds, and making one little girl and her parents as proud as can be. Food plots played an integral part in the success of my daughter’s first deer season, as they likewise did for my son Ryan during his first hunt, when he dropped two big does from the same blind along the same field planted with the very same Tall Tines Tubers just three years earlier. As we field-dressed Megan’s buck, I couldn’t help but think about how food plots have greatly improved deer and deer hunting. They have led to more deer, more bucks, bigger bucks and better hunting opportunities, and I regularly hunt along or adjacent to food plots across the whitetail’s range from Canada down to Texas. Thinking about my own food plot successes and failures during the past handful of years, I couldn’t help but notice some common themes developing, so I decided to quiz some other hardcore deer hunters and managers to see if these habits worked on other lands as well. What I came up with are the habits of successful food plotters. The first step was to contact and visit with some other serious land managers, a task that isn’t too difficult anymore because more avid whitetail hunters practice deer management. For this article, I chatted with Kale Graham, Derek Revering and Michael Vaughn, and drew conclusions from my experiences. Together, the four of us manage almost 4,000 acres of prime whitetail habitat, and after researching the issue, it became clear that certain habits were virtually universal.

The author fills his ATV spreader with some Tall Tine Tubers seed... far and away his favorite hunting plot planting. farmer’s elevator can do the job, but I prefer to get soil test kits from the Whitetail Institute because they’re in the business of growing and managing whitetails, and I get the results back quicker and the recommendations made are easier to understand. Soil testing is quick and easy, but make sure to follow the recommendations and heed the advice of the professionals when it comes to improving your plots.

Variety is the Spice of Life Testing, 1, 2, 3 The first step to a successful food plot is to get your soil tested, period. Simply going out and planting seeds will rarely cut it. Your local

Different food plot offerings provide the deer herd protein, nutrients and other essentials in various degrees throughout the year, so if possible don’t just plant just one type of seed. Offer deer a smorgasbord they can use to their advantage all year, and your herd will benefit.

Preparation is the Key What I’ve found in the past couple of years is that seedbed preparation is crucial to having top-notch food plots. Simply, if the seed you plant does not have good seed-to-soil contact it will be less likely to give you a great-looking plot that’s full of deer, and the best tool for the job is a cultipacker. A cultipacker is nothing more than a heavy roller that firms up the soil and presses your seed down tight to the dirt. This is especially important for small seeds such as clover or brassicas. If I’m planting these offerings, I roll my food plot before broadcasting the seed and then roll again to achieve optimum soil contact. Some of my group of land managers use a cultipacker, and others use some type of drag system, but the consensus was clear: Seed bed preparation is vitally important.

Pump Up Your Plots Providing deer with a variety of food plot offerings is a preferred habit by serious land managers.

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Fertilizing your perennial plots once or twice a year in the spring www.whitetailinstitute.com


and/or fall is highly recommended. To make sure you add exactly what is needed and don’t waste money on unnecessary nutrients, do a soil test prior to applying fertilizer. Again, it's important to enlist the help of the experts at your local elevator or the Whitetail Institute to learn exactly what fertilizer you need to put on your food plots and how much you need to apply.

Alfa Rack Plus. Mowing the plants not only helps keep weed intrusion to a minimum but also stimulates new growth, which is highly attractive to deer. Generally, I like to mow just as the plants are maturing but before they go to seed. This keeps my fields staying lush and green and full of deer. And this also helps prevent weeds from seeding out which would create much more competition in the future. NOTE: Do not mow when it is hot and dry.

Size Matters Sunset Rendezvous When laying out your food plot strategy, the physical size of your plots is an important consideration. Destination plots, those intended to maximize your herd’s food availability throughout the year, are by necessity much larger than hunting plots. All of us agree that a wellmanaged property will have destination plots as well as hunting plots, which are much smaller in size and more strategically located so as to attract those big bucks during daylight. I like my larger food sources to be anywhere from two to five acres, and I keep my hunting plots at an acre or less to better allow me to cover the setup with my longbow. These sentiments were echoed throughout the group.

Mow ‘em Down Occasional mowing is part of the maintenance plan for perennials such as Imperial Whitetail Clover, Chicory Plus, Edge, Extreme and

As far as actual hunting habits, all of us agree that hunting over an actual food plot is pretty much an evening affair. Morning hunts are difficult because deer will likely be in the plots as you access your stands, and spooking the deer off the fields will simply make them more nocturnal. Slipping in quietly several hours before sunset is your best bet when actually sitting over the food plots, but caution is still a key, and entrance and exit plans should be well thought out. Getting in usually isn’t a problem, but sneaking away without spooking deer as you leave is definitely beneficial. Kale uses trimmers and rakes to clear a silent walking path that keeps him out of the fields and away from the deer. All of us agree that hunting right on the food source is best early in the season when deer are still in their relaxed summer patterns, or late in the season when food becomes of paramount importance.

The Stage is Set My favorite hunting setups are actually in staging areas adjacent to but not actually on the food plot. Deer, especially trophy bucks, will stage up in heavy cover and often wait to enter the fields until full darkness settles in, so if you sit directly on a food source, you may only see does and fawns and immature bucks. Look for heavy cover that shows a lot of rubbing and scraping activity, and you will have found a staging area that your bucks are using regularly. My favorite setup paid off for me this past November when I was set up just inside heavy timber about 100 yards from a field of Tall Tines Tubers. An hour before dark, a doe led a record-class buck into the staging area, and a well-placed 8-yard shot from my longbow put the big deer down in short order. You might well see more deer sitting on the food plot itself, but for bigger bucks, set the stage in heavy cover nearby.

Funnel ‘em In

Keeping tabs on the deer in your area is made easier by offering quality food plots: simply set up your cameras along entrance or exit trails or in adjacent staging areas.

Derek’s favorite setups are often well away from the actual food plots, as he prefers to ambush big bucks in heavy cover on oak ridges and pinch points between the food sources. Bucks will use these travel ways as the pre-rut kicks in and they are cruising to look for hot does. Various doe groups will be using the food plots, so the bucks will use connecting funnels to check out each plot for prospective girlfriends. Often, the bucks will never show themselves on the food source during daylight, so these funnels can be the key to successful hunting. The food plots are still the draw, but just like with staging areas, your odds of success on more mature bucks increase when you set up back in heavy cover. Food plots and deer management have forever changed the way we hunt whitetails, and clearly for the better. If you want to improve the health of your deer herd and your success rate, start practicing these habits of successful food plotters. ^

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Vol. 24, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 57


BowStand and Secret Spot:

A Tale of Two Food Plots By Scott Bestul Photos by Charles J. Alsheimer

e just can’t get past Jack and the Beanstalk. You know the fairy tale I’m talking about — where young Jack plants a magic bean in the dirt, watches it sprout to epic heights and then climbs the vine and steals various riches from a giant. The swiped goodies allow Jack and his mother to live in luxury the rest of their fairy-taled lives. When it comes to food plots, deer hunters are forever searching for that magic bean. We tell ourselves that our expectations are lower, of course. We don’t want magic harps or golden-egg-laying geese like Jack found. But if the odd Boone and Crockett buck wanted to show up from time to time in our no-fail food plot, wouldn’t that be just perfect? Well, after hobby-farming food plots for the better part of a decade, I’m not sure who’s more firmly beached on Fantasy Island. I’ve enjoyed stellar successes and presided over epic flops. But when I’m truly honest with myself, I come to the same realization, regardless of result; it’s rarely the fault of the seed. When a plot explodes with growth, it’s usually because I’ve done the right prep work, at which point Ma Nature takes over and provides good conditions. And when my plants fail, I’ve usually taken short

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www.whitetailinstitute.com


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cuts, and/or the rain clouds disappear. Still, one of the most-asked questions I get from food-plotting buddies is, “What should I plant here?” And it’s gnawed at me for quite some time that lifting my cap, scratching my graying hair and replying, “Gosh, I dunno” is not an acceptable answer. I should, after all, know something about this stuff. So I decided to ask the experts at the Whitetail Institute if I should test a couple of products planted relatively close to each other and then write about my experience. Amazingly, they said, “Sure,” even with the full knowledge that my results would be reported about as scientifically as a weatherman who makes predictions using a dartboard.

Trees encircle the site, and it receives direct sunlight for only two to three hours during late summer/early fall. Plot Two was dubbed the “Backyard Plot” because it was situated within 150 yards of my backyard. Slightly smaller than the Pine Tree Plot, the Backyard Plot also had a small stump or two in its midst. There was, however, a slight slope there, and the timber on the southern edge of the plot had been largely clearcut. Because of the clearcut and the slope (which ran west to east) this plot received significantly more sunlight, particularly in the morning, than the Pine Tree Plot. What follows are my “results,” compiled in several categories.

Germination/Plant Growth Plot Comparison and Preparation Every tester needs a lab, and in this case I needed two, and the more similar they were, the better. Fortunately, a recent logging operation provided a pair of perfect test plots. Loggers created a pair of log landings of nearly identical size. Landings are places where logs are piled after cutting. Loggers typically situate them on a site with reasonably good access, so that “forwarders” and other loading machinery can reach the piles and get logs loaded on the trucks that will haul them away. Though the landings were similar in size, there were a couple of significant differences. Plot One was quickly nicknamed “The Pine Tree Plot” because it featured a huge white pine that grew within 20 yards of the landing. The Pine Tree Plot was a basic oval. There were two large tree stumps in the middle that we did not have the equipment or desire to remove. The plot is virtually flat and surrounded by open hardwood timber consisting mainly of medium-age elm, birch, red oak and basswood.

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Secret Spot was planted in the Pine Tree Pot and the Backyard Plot was planted in BowStand. Again, the Backyard Plot is a plot that receives more sunlight than the Pine Tree Plot and the soil is finer, or more thin; about what you’d expect from a forest floor minus the trees. I was convinced the additional sunlight would really give plant growth a huge boost, especially in that first season. Wow, was I in for a surprise. I planted both plots on the same mid-August day, and watched as the seeds germinated right on pace with each other. It took about five days for the first tiny greens to appear but eight days until I could see that I had a very nice catch of seeds in the bed. Then the wheels came off. After a brief shower the week after germination — an event that really gave the plants a boost — rain clouds avoided my area like the plague. Even when rain was imminent in the forecast, with thunderheads visible only a few miles away, storm systems would veer one direction or another and miss us completely. The Backyard Plot, exposed to nearly double the sunlight received by the www.whitetailinstitute.com


Pine Tree Plot, ground to a screeching halt. Red-purple leaf edges signified that many plants were under stress. Greenery still abounded, but growth was clearly affected. I thought several times about hauling water into the plot but decided against it. The whole point of this test, I reminded myself, was to see how minimum-maintenance plots performed. Meanwhile, the Secret Spot I’d planted at the Pine Tree Plot was flourishing. Germination and initial growth were virtually identical to the BowStand seeds in the Back Yard Plot, but as the drought hit and then held on, the Pine Tree Plot just got better and better. Brassicas in the mix absolutely flourished and were soon pushing knee high. At first, I was a little stymied by this, but then I started visiting the Pine Tree Plot at varying times; a few hours after sunup one day, on my lunch break the next, mid-afternoon three days later. Finally, it became clear that, with the drought in full swing, the soil in this more shaded plot was simply hanging on to its moisture better, and the plants were reaping the benefits.

Deer Visits I can pat myself on the back for a beautiful-looking plot all I want, but if deer don’t like it, well, it might as well be a helicopter landing pad. So I used three methods for gauging which spot deer preferred; feeding evidence, hunting success and sightings (split between actual observation and trail cam pictures). Veteran food plotters can predict which plot won the first category. The lush growth of the more heavily shaded Pine Tree Plot got plenty of attention from deer, and they started their visits shortly after germination. As with many successful plots, deer visits to the Pine Tree Plot kind of snowballed. Early on, it was clear that only a couple of deer were hitting the plot. But as the weeks passed, tracks and feeding activity revealed that multiple deer were spending plenty of time in its lush, shady confines. Conversely, early on, the slower-growing, drought-stressed plants in the Backyard Plot seemed to hold little interest for area whitetails. Early fall brought some much-needed rain, and the Backyard Plot responded. As the plot developed, deer visits definitely increased. My neighbor Alan and I mounted trail cams on the edge of both plots, and then checked them weekly to monitor how many (and the estimated age/sex) deer were hitting each plot and when they were most likely to visit. As expected, the quick-growing, shadier and more water-rich Pine Tree Plot came through this test in spades. There were only a handful of young does in the first weeks after germination, but as we neared the mid-September archery opener (about 30 days after planting), older does and their family groups visited the plot consistently. Sub-dominant bucks followed shortly after, but the absence of mature bucks didn’t concern me. I knew that if several old nanny/doe family groups were hitting the plot, I knew the true horn whonkers would show as we approached the rut, and in late October, my dad arrowed a fine 3-1/2-year-old buck we’d nicknamed “Crab Claw.” Meanwhile, the slower-developing Backyard Plot was not yet pulling in as many whitetails. However, I couldn’t get a couple of mitigating factors out of my head. For starters, the plot was situated tight to a recent clearcut, and I knew whitetails should be attracted to the bedand-breakfast appeal of a food plot close to their sanctuary. Indeed, as the fall wore on, whitetail activity increased steadily at this plot, proving that sometimes, at least, a slower-developing food plot close to security cover is tough for a buck to turn down. But there were other

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factors to consider. Because the Backyard Plot was close to, well, my backyard, could the additional human presence (as well as that of my dog, who roams our yard freely) affect a deer’s willingness to visit the plot during daylight? Trail cam photos seem to support this theory, as most of camera shots from the Backyard Plot were after dark, and many pics from the Pine Tree Plot were in daylight.

Final Thoughts and Conclusions I came away from this test with several strong impressions: • Watch the weather. It’s normal to get itchy and want to plant a plot according to recommended planting dates and available vacation time. But keep an eye on the forecast. Sticking seed in the ground with no rain in the immediate future can be a fool’s game, especially with a fall planting like the ones I tested. I’d rather be 10 days past my planned planting date and catch a rain than plant during the “ideal” time and have my plot stressed from the start. Deer are patient; give them the lush green plants that they want. • Site is everything. I was shocked by the difference in the performance of the two plots, and I’m convinced that the abundant shade of the Pine Tree Plot helped it shine during the drought. Normally, of course, the more sun the better, but that wasn’t the case in this dry summer. Another thing to keep in mind; mixes like those found in BowStand and Secret Spot are designed to thrive in shaded environments and less-than-ideal conditions and both did just that for me last season. • Tip-toe around your food plots. The location of your plot and how you hunt it are important. The Backyard Plot seemed to have everything to achieve perfection; such as dense cover nearby as well as water. And even with very poor growing conditions, it produced a fine crop. Yet deer consistently visited it less than other plots with seemingly identical qualities. I’m convinced two factors made it less attractive to older deer — its close proximity to my home and the lack of a good approach/exit. The Pine Tree Plot was not only secluded, we had carved a discreet entry trail that allowed us to hunt the place and avoid detection by deer. My main take-away is fairly simple. The magic bean might exist, somewhere in a parallel universe or fairy tale, but the success of a food plot hinges on a variety of factors, only some of which we can control. I’ve found that if I stick with a quality product like Secret Spot or BowStand, the success or failure of the plot will not rest only on the seed but on taking the right steps that allow them to do their work. ^ www.whitetailinstitute.com


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Where the girls go, the boys will follow

Planning and Planting Food Plots for the Rut By Bob Humphrey

Dustin Reid

sat listening to sleet pellets rattling on the roof in the relative comfort of my shooting house — relative because though it broke the wind and kept me dry, the open windows let in the freezing air. They were adverse conditions for anywhere, but especially for central Alabama. In fact, two members of our hunting party elected to sleep in, reasoning that morning food plot hunts are slow enough. Add inclement weather, and your odds go down even farther most of the time. However, this wasn’t most of the time. It was peak rut, that magical period when normally wary mature bucks drop their guard and move about during daylight. Despite the weather, I wasn’t going to miss a minute of it. Not surprisingly, deer activity was slow but not non-existent. It was just different. Instead of starting high and tapering off, it was prolonged but punctuated. On average, I saw about one deer every 30 to 45 minutes. But every deer was a buck, and every buck cruised across the plot at a steady walk. Unfortunately, I never saw one that fit my criteria, but it made for an eventful morning hunt. Consistent deer hunting success is a matter of playing the odds, which are usually long. Deer spend a very small proportion of daylight on their feet, leaving hunters a rather limited window of opportunity. During most of the year, the only reason undisturbed deer move is to feed, which is why hunting food plots is so popular. Every serious deer manager knows the importance of providing sufficient year-round nutrition. But let’s face it, the ultimate goal is to hold and produce more and better deer so we can hunt them. And there is another reason deer, especially bucks, get up and move around during the day — the rut. Playing the food plot card increases your odds, and if you can combine it with rutting activity, you might end up with a pat hand.

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When Most hunters would agree that food plots are best hunted in the afternoon. Morning activity tends to be slower. Plus, getting to your stand often results in blowing deer out of the field just before you hunt. A few might return, but for the most part you’ve only succeeded in accelerating their transition to day beds. However, that rule of thumb changes slightly during the rut. Radio and satellite telemetry studies show that bucks often make excursions outside their core areas during the rut, sometimes traveling as much as five or even 10 miles from home. Those studies also suggest the bucks are targeting concentration areas — doe groups. The does, meanwhile, are still concerned primarily with food, so they’ll be concentrated around reliable food sources, like food plots. As the does filter off to bed in the morning, they become harder to find, so the rutting bucks re-double their efforts to find them. Bucks move later in the morning cruising from plot to plot seeking the aroma of a hot doe. When they find it, the doe might be long gone, and it could take a buck several hours to follow up the trail. All of the above are why mid- to late morning can be a productive time to hunt the rut. The action won’t be as fast and furious as in the afternoon, but if you see a deer, odds are better it will be a buck; and if you timed it right, a mature buck. Early afternoon tends to be slow throughout fall, but as the afternoon wears on, the does head back out to feed again. The bucks will follow. It’s hardly scientific, but during more than three decades of hunting, I have noticed a couple of trends. One is that even during the rut, mature bucks are usually the last to enter a food plot. Another is that they often wait until the last waning minutes of daylight. Both might influence where you choose to hunt.

Where Admit it. If you’re like most folks who regularly hunt food plots, you probably have a stand or two — shooting house or ladder — www.whitetailinstitute.com


along the edge of your plots. That offers the best opportunity to see the most deer, but not necessarily the right deer if your goal is a mature buck. Remember, those older deer might not venture into a plot until near or after dark. But they might stage up in the edge cover. Bowhunters especially might want to set up back in the woods a bit. There’s another reason, too. Bucks might occasionally act foolishly, but more often than not, they still have their wits about them, even during peak rut. Older ones have also learned they don’t need to put themselves at risk to locate a hot doe. Rather than busting into the open, they’ll sometimes work through the thick cover downwind of a food plot scent-checking for does. Even when cruising throughout the day, they might occasionally cross an open field but still tend to stick to thick cover. That makes travel routes a good option, particularly where cover is sparse and narrow between food plots and doe groups.

Intuitively, you might think smaller plots are better because deer are less exposed to potential danger and more likely to enter them a tad earlier in the afternoon. That’s certainly the case during pre-rut periods, when bucks are still following something of a routine that revolves around feeding. However, when the rut kicks in, they’re seeking does, and might be more inclined to go where there are more of them. All things considered, it’s probably a toss-up. More deer will use the smaller, secluded plots earlier in the afternoon, but overall more deer will use the larger plots. Bear in mind that the so-called “phases” of the rut don’t necessarily occur synchronously throughout a deer herd. They’re much more individualized. A buck on one part of your ground might be seeking while another deer in a different area could be chasing. In a single plot during peak rut, I’ve observed bucks feeding side by side while others sparred, chased and even bred.

Which

Ask any grizzled veteran of whitetail hunting and they’ll tell you there’s no secret formula to consistent success. It comes down to learning as much as you can about your quarry and applying common sense. Provide the most nutritious forage and the type of crop they most desire at that time of year. The does will come, and the bucks will follow. ^ Bob Humphrey is a certified wildlife biologist whose company, Quality Wildlife, works with private landowners to improve wildlife habitat.

Not all plots are created equal. If you want to take full advantage of potential opportunity, you need to know which ones are best to hunt during the rut, if you have them, and which ones to build if you don’t. Most folks already know the difference between feeding and hunting plots. To quickly recap, feeding plots are generally larger plots designed for agricultural efficiency and year-round nutrition. Hunting plots tend to be smaller and are built with hunting as the primary objective. Naturally, individual layouts can vary considerably depending on local conditions and resources. One place I regularly hunt in Alabama has plots varying from 1/4 acre up to more than 20 acres. All are planted with the same thing. Another regular haunt in Ohio has a few larger plots but mostly smaller plots, and the manager plants various crops in different fields, sometimes rotating specific applications from one year to the next. The latter is probably a better option if you really want to maximize your deer herd and their “huntability.” You should have a good mix of hunting and feeding plots strategically laid out on your property. Now, to determine which give you the best odds during the rut, we’ll take a step-down approach. Hunting larger feeding plots is certainly not a total waste of time, particularly if you’ve planted a nutritious crop. There’s no question perennial crops like Imperial Whitetail Clover are a top choice for food plots and are attractive year-round, but winter is not usually their period of greatest attractiveness. The same is true for other blends that are specifically designed to provide protein in the spring and summer when it is needed most — for antler, muscle and bone growth and nursing fawns. Around these crops especially, you’ll want to get back off the field edge and into the woods during the rut. In fall, a deer’s diet shifts. They’re probably not conscious of it, but waning hours of daylight trigger physiological changes that steer deer increasingly toward foods high in fats, carbohydrates and energy — the things they most need to put on a layer of fat and maintain body condition through the long, cold winter. At this time, they most often will seek fall and winter annuals like the lettuce-type brassicas in Winter-Greens, the turnips in Tall Tine Tubers and the Whitetail Oats and brassicas in Pure Attraction. Again, they’ll eat other stuff, but hunting what they most want is a safer bet.

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Conclusion

Bob Humphrey

Consistent success during the rut comes down to playing the odds, but you can hedge your bets by providing the most nutritious examples of the type of food deer desire most this time of year. Draw the does and the bucks will come. www.whitetailinstitute.com


REAL HUNTERS DO THE TALKING about Whitetail Institute products… (Continued from page 21)

I own 70 acres in Jackson County, Iowa which I purchased about 15 years ago. The first couple of years we planted corn but only approximately 2 acres. We would see deer but not much for numbers or big bucks. Then we started adding a field of beans which helped. 10 years ago we started planting Imperial Whitetail Clover and what a difference it made! We would see deer on the clover at all times of the year feeding hard! Over the years the deer numbers and sizes increased so much we added more Imperial Whitetail Clover plots and Winter-Greens. The Winter-Greens really helped take some of the browsing pressure off the clover and attracted even more deer during the fall and winter months. Whitetail Institute products have made believers out of friends of mine that didn’t believe me at first but now they are planting the same things and seeing the same results. Enclosed is a picture of bucks feeding on

clover and also a couple of the nicer bucks we have shot off of our farm since planting Whitetail Institute products.

Cy Sandholdt — Iowa

I planted Imperial Whitetail Clover on my fatherin-laws place which has some pretty good bedding area. We have quite a bit of pressure around us so I figured a good food source would be that much better of a reason for deer to stay on the property. Here are some photos of the deer that are living there. I believe everybody should try these products to get a good idea of how well they really work. Proof is in the plot.

Carl Neal — Arkansas

I started using Imperial Whitetail Clover when it first came out. I was immediately impressed with the use of this product by my deer! It was obvious that not only did it hold my deer on my property, but it also attracted deer from my neighbors and held them extremely well through summer. I later tried Alfa-Rack with similar results. I also added PowerPlant for summer forage. When weeds became a problem in Imperial Whitetail Clover and Alfa-Rack I used Arrest and Slay with excellent results. The addition of 30-06 minerals and nutritional supplements, Cutting Edge Initiate, Optimize and Sustain have completed the food and supplement part of my deer management program. Together with a substantial yearly doe harvest and antler restrictions resulted in my taking my biggest Georgia deer to date this past fall. A picture of this buck is enclosed. As you can see the 19.5 inch inside spread and 42 7/8 inches of mass make this a true Georgia trophy. Most deer in Corona County average only 15-25 inches of mass. I give a lot of credit to Whitetail Institute products for helping to produce this exceptional mass found normally only in places like Iowa, Illinois and Canada. Local people can’t believe it.

Frank Barron — Georgia

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

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Vol. 24, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 69


Simple

SOIL TEST Helps Ensure Top-Notch Food Plots By Tracy Breen

utting in successful food plots is similar to baking cookies. If you want the cookies to turn out, a specific recipe must be followed. Cutting a corner by omitting a critical ingredient can cause the quality of the cookie to suffer greatly. A food plot is similar. For a food plot to turn out, a series of steps must be taken to ensure success. The single best way to increase the chances of having food plot success is by doing a soil test before you plant. A soil test is like having a recipe in your hand, because when you receive the soil test results and recommendations, you will know exactly which ingredients will be needed to ensure a lush food plot. Steve Scott of the Whitetail Institute knows a few things about food plots and soil tests, and his opinions about soil tests are eye-opening. “Doing a soil test is one of the, if not the, most important steps a person should take when putting in a food plot," he said. “It is also one of the most commonly overlooked or skipped steps when putting in a food plot. It’s sometimes human nature to cut corners, but when

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putting in food plots, having a soil test done is one corner that should not be cut.” Someone willing to take the time to do a soil test will almost certainly reap the rewards. “If you have two food plots side by side, and one was planted without a soil test being done and one was planted using the information provided by a soil test, the difference can be like the difference between a cheap hamburger and filet mignon,” Scott said. "The burger food plot will probably be green, but it likely won’t be as full as the filet mignon food plot. The filet mignon food plot will almost always be more attractive to deer and be more nutritious and produce more tonnage.” Scott said cost wise doing a soil test is one of the best investments you can make when planting a food plot. “Seed, tractors, lime, fertilizer and many other expenses go into planting a food plot,” he said. “But doing a soil test can mean the difference between the best food plot you can imagine and total failure.” A soil test will not only help you have better results from your food plot but can save lots of money too. “When they put in a food plot, many people guess what type of fertilizer they will need and how much," Scott said. "Often, they also guess at the amount of lime they will need. When you have a soil test done, the test results will tell you exactly what the soil needs to grow the most successful food plot.” Plain and simple, a soil test is a road map to success. When you guess at what is needed instead of knowing what is needed, you'll often spend more money on the wrong fertilizer, and the plot might even fail, which will be a total waste of money.

Here in the upper Midwest, where I’m from, we often have very acidic soil. In many cases, when we plant food plots, lots of lime is needed. Some people who put in food plots simply throw a few bags of lime on the ground and call it good. One of the many things a soil test will tell you is what the pH of the soil is and how much lime will be needed to get the soil where it needs to be for a food plot to grow. “When the pH is corrected, fertilizer is better utilized by the forage you’re wanting to grow," Scott said. “Without the proper pH, fertilizer often goes to waste because the plants can’t effectively utilize it.” A soil test also addresses fertility. “A Whitetail Institute soil test tells you what nutrients the soil is lacking and how much of a certain type of fertilizer is needed," Scott said. “A common thing people do who haven’t had a soil test done is go out and buy a few hundred pounds of 13-13-13 fertilizer. If they have a soil test done, they may find out they don’t need all the elements in the bag. They might just be lacking a little bit of one thing and a bunch of another. When a soil test is done, you will know exactly what is needed instead of guessing and buying a one-size-fits-all fertilizer. Sometimes, the soil is just lacking potassium. Why go buy a bag of fertilizer that has many elements in it when all that was needed was potassium?” A professional soil test that requires you to send the soil into a lab is certainly the smartest and best way to ensure the best results from your food plot efforts. Professional soil test services are available from agriculture universities, your soil conservation service or through the Whitetail Institute. “The Whitetail Institute soil test is set up for the average Joe who wants to plant a food plot,” Scott said. “Hunters collect the soil and

YOUR RECIPE FOR HUNTING SUCCESS Try a full “menu” of Whitetail Institute Products at one low price… and get a FREE 2-year subscription to “Whitetail News” and a FREE DVD as well! Your Super Sampler Pak includes: • Imperial Whitetail™ Clover — 1/2 acre planting (4 lbs.) SAVE ON BULK • Imperial EXTREME™ — 1/4 acre planting (5.6 lbs.) ORDERS! • Imperial CHICORY PLUS™ — 1/2 acre planting (3.5 lbs.) • Imperial N0-PLOW™ — 1/2 acre planting (9 lbs.) • Imperial WINTER-GREENS™ — 1/2 acre planting (3 lbs.) • Imperial 30-06™ Mineral — 1 lick (5 lbs) • Imperial 30-06™ PLUS PROTEIN™ — 1 lick (5 lbs.) • Imperial BOWSTAND™ — 4500 sq. ft. planting (4 lbs.) • SECRET SPOT™ — 4500 sq. ft. planting (4 lbs.)

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WHITETAIL NEWS 71


SOIL TEST KITS Whitetail Institute

Soil testing is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the success of your plantings — of any kind. The Institute is pleased to now provide soil test kits and results for all Imperial products or any other type seeds. (Complete instructions and all related information will come with kits.) Test results include pH, phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Fertilizer and lime recommendations for maximum performance from your plantings will be provided. The average turnaround time is 24-48 hours after our lab receives the sample. The charge for the kit and results is $10.95. If ordered alone, add $2.90 shipping and handling for unlimited number of kits. If ordered with other Imperial products there is no shipping charge. Please send ______ soil test kits at $10.95 each. Add $2.90 shipping and handling for each order regardless of number of kits desired. (There is NO shipping charge if kit is ordered with other Imperial products.) Cost of kit includes test results and consultation.

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72 WHITETAIL NEWS

/ Vol. 24, No. 1

send it to our lab, and we send them the results and recommendations. It is that easy. Our test is generally easier for people to read and understand and tells you exactly what is needed for a food plot. Most of our customers are not farmers; they are food plot guys, so our test is designed for deer hunters. Our test goes as far as telling people what type of fertilizer is available in their area and how much to purchase. We keep it as simple as possible.” The great thing about a soil test is that it's really simple to do. “It’s one of the most simple tests you’ll ever take,” Scott said. “Basically, a person starts with a clean garden shovel and bucket. The important thing is to get a good representation of the soil from the entire area to be planted, not just from one location. I recommend taking a little soil from as many as 10 to 20 different places within the food plot and then mix it up well and place about a pound of it in the container that comes in our kit and then send it to our lab. By taking soil from several locations, our lab will get a good representation of the overall soil makeup and make their suggestions based on the overall picture.” Let the lab know what type of food plot you are planting and they will tell you exactly what you need to add to your soil for that particular food plot seed. When you follow the recommendations of a soil test and plant accordingly, you will end up with a more attractive and nutritious food plot — one that produces more tonnage, and will make your plot more attractive to deer than the food plot next door. “Deer are going to go where the best food is,” Scott said. “That is why it is so important to plant a food plot properly. Hunters spend lots of time and money hunting deer. They can maximize their time and money and likely see and kill more and better quality deer by planting a top-notch food plot. All of that should start with a simple soil test.” A soil test kit from the Whitetail Institute costs less than $15 and can no doubt help you attract and grow healthier deer. Heck, you can’t even buy a pack of broadheads for $15. If you have never soil-tested your ground, buy a soil test kit now, and use it. If you follow through and use the kit and follow the recommendations, it will likely be the best $15 you have ever spent on improving your hunting success. ^ 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.

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


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Vol. 24, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 75


Michael DelSesto – New Hampshire Here is a picture of my son Cooper, age 9, with his first deer. He shot it over Imperial Whitetail Clover. What a great day! I planted Imperial Whitetail Clover three years ago and we have noticed a much larger population of deer feeding and staying on our land. We have observed healthier deer and better antler growth. Plan to plant four more acres over the next 2 years. Whitetail Institute provides great products and support. Thank You.

Kenny and Hunter Blankenship – South Carolina

Bill Kuhlmann – Missouri We bought our 95 acre farm located in Knox County Missouri about five years ago. With the exception of a small area of red clover, the farm was not developed. Since that time we have installed several food plots along with some row crops that we leave for the critters. One plot is Imperial Whitetail Clover. We have also put in Winter-Greens, Chicory Plus, and PowerPlant. The clover is in its third year and it is doing great. So good in fact that the enclosed picture is the results of an 8 year olds first deer at the old clover patch. This was taken October 31st during our youth season. The hunter is Brendan Thomas Kuhlmann, from Missouri. The deer is a 10 point and as you can see a very big deer. Brendan's only problem is what will he do for an encore?

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/ Vol. 24, No. 1

My 10 year old son, Hunter and I wanted to plant a food plot on our property to help the deer herd. I ordered some Imperial Whitetail Clover, Winter-Greens and Tall Tine Tubers. We planted in early fall. On the morning of December 1st this nice buck came out into the food plot. Hunter, killed his first deer ever. It was a 165 lb 8 point. I am very proud of him. The turnips are as big as softballs. We just wanted to say thanks for helping us have a quality plot.

www.whitetailinstitute.com


Matt & Alexis Luderer – Pennsylvania My daughter, Alexis (Lexi) Luderer, has been bow hunting with me since she was five years old. When she turned eight, my father loaded up some reduced loads for her. She has been shooting like a sniper out to 100 yards with it ever since. This past season we arrived at our stand about 3 p.m. and got settled in. At 4 p.m. an injured but impressive 8 point came out with a back leg hobbling into a Winter-Greens plot and stood broadside feeding at about 75 yards right in front of us. I got her set up but buck fever kicked in and she started to shake a bit. I tried to help her hold the gun steady and then, well????, the buck fever started kicking in again but now I was the victim. Yep, I was 37 years old at the time and I was shaking like a battery powered rabbit decoy on a coyote hunt. To make a long story shorter, WE missed. Trust me, it was way more my fault than hers. Yep, she was a tad bit mad! Later in the season we went to a spot where a few months earlier I planted a small plot of Tall Tine Tubers. The night before, she couldn’t sleep because she was so excited about deer hunting again. I woke her restless body up at 4:30 am, grabbed some breakfast, and off to our stand we went. We settled in at about 6:20 am and waited for the light to come. After about five minutes, I looked over and she was out cold sleeping like a baby. The rain started slightly and there was a thick fog in the area so I let her sleep (she needed it). At 6:50 am I noticed a deer coming across the field towards the Tall Tine Tubers plot and determined that it was a nice sized half rack 5 point. I tried desperately to wake her up and after thoroughly convincing my half asleep daughter that a buck was indeed coming our way, she snapped up and started getting ready. The buck ended up walking right in front of us broadside at 20 yards. Of course I kept my hands away this time, and KABANG! The buck ran about 25 yards and piled up (see enclosed picture). When we found the buck, she gave me the biggest hug imaginable! I was so proud of her and I had tears in my eyes as I hugged her back. I was able to give and receive the enjoyment of a daughter’s first buck as my Dad did when I killed my first buck. That is what is truly priceless! We have developed a little tradition at the farm we hunt on. When you get your first buck, you get a deer blood stripe on your face. Check out Lexi’s left cheek! My deepest thanks go to the Whitetail Institute of North America: you have lifelong customer.

James Knight Sr. – Indiana Here is a picture of my 9 year old stepson, Jacob Adams, with his first deer he shot Nov. 17. This is a mature whitetail doe that has been feeding in the NoPlow plot. The doe weighed 150 lbs.

Kady Trotter – Alabama I am 9 years old. My Dad starting teaching me how to shoot a .22 when I was only 5 years old. I shot my first hog in Florida earlier this year and now it was time to go after a deer. My grandfather has several green fields, but one is set aside just for his grandkids. The grandkids field is planted with Imperial Whitetail Clover. We usually go to Alabama at Thanksgiving, but this year we waited until the week before Christmas. On Dec. 17, I was sitting in the grandkid's shooting house with my Mom and Dad. It was almost dark when we saw 2 deer walk out of the woods and go straight to the field. There was a 7 point and an 8 point. The 7 point was the biggest, but he wouldn't come out from behind a tree. The 8 point walked out and stood broadside. I had been practicing with my .243 and I was ready. As I waited for just the right moment, my Dad whispered instructions in my ear. I got the buck in my scope and squeezed the trigger. My eyes were as big as bowling balls as the big deer fell over. I don’t know who was more excited, me or dad? I can't wait 'til next year! ^

Send your First Deer picture and story to Whitetail Institute of North America, 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala 36043, Att.: First Deer Dept. For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

Vol. 24, No. 1 /

WHITETAIL NEWS 77


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.)

Camo Logo Cap

Beige Logo Cap

Pink Ladies Logo Cap

Hunter Orange Logo Cap

Black Logo Cap

Camo Logo Visor

Beige Logo Visor

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 Institute Deer Short & Long Sleeve Tees

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Available colors: Brown, Green, Yellow (not available in long sleeve), Black

Available sizes: S-XXL, 3X, 4X, 5X

Available colors: Blue, Pink

Available colors: White, Green (also available in long sleeve).

Call Toll Free To Order: 1-800-688-3030 or Mail Your Order With Payment To: Whitetail Institute of North America, 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043, Fax Orders To: (334) 286-9723


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Whitetail News Vol 24.1  

Whitetail News Volume 24 Issue 1

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