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


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— A L L H A I L T H E FA N AT I C S E R I E S —


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In This Issue…


Imperial Whitetail No-Plow: Unique Product Stands Test of Time By Whitetail Institute Staff

Features 6


God Will Repay

By Matt Harper

By Charles J. Alsheimer The author is thankful that his working in the whitetail deer industry has introduced him to many great people. One of those people is a musician, award-winning songwriter and best-selling author, Steve Champman.




Your Best Crop Insurance: Follow Best Management Practices By J. Wayne Fears


Whitetail Oats Plus: More than Just a Great Food Plot By Whitetail Institute Staff


Don’t Clean the Table — Try Multi-Cropping By Jeremy Flinn



Imperial Whitetail Double Cross: The Perfect Partnership of Clover and Brassicas


There’s Just Something About the Ones that Get Away

By Whitetail Institute Staff

By Scott Bestul


Avoid the One-and-Done Syndrome By Scott Bestul

Rx for Old Plots By Gerald Almy


Good Things Can Come in Small Packages By Jon Cooner, WINA Director of Special Projects

Irresistible — Whitetail Institute Attractants Cover All the Bases By Whitetail Institute Staff

Winning Rotations By Matt Harper Healthy soil equals healthy plots which equals healthy deer. You can achieve this by rotating your food plot choices.



Stealth Food Plots By Mark Kenyon Using food plot screens will allow big bucks to use your food plots without feeling threatened. This could lead to more hunting success on your plots.


How to Kill Big Bucks: First, Make Sure You Have One to Shoot

Plan Hunting Strategies Around Plots and Buck Behavior By David Hart


Embrace the Chase — Seeking the Ultimate Adventure By R.G. Bernier

Departments 4 16

A Message from Ray Scott The Weed Doctor


Breaking Ground

By Dr. Carroll Johnson, III, Ph.D. By Mark Trudeau, WINA Director of Certified Research


Record Book Bucks Stories and Photos

45 46

Food Plot Planting Dates Field Testers Report Stories and Photos




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, Tyler Holley, John White Product Consultants Daryl Cherry Director of Sales Scott Thompson Upper Midwest Sales Manager Clare Hudson Northeast Sales Manager Dawn McGough Office Manager Mary Jones EDI & Inventory Specialist Teri Hudson Office Administrator Accounts Receivable Kim Collins Customer Service Marlin Swain Shipping Manager Bart Landsverk Whitetail News Senior Editor Kris Klemick Whitetail News Editor Charles Alsheimer, Tracy Breen, Matt Harper, Mark Kenyon, 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. 25, No. 2 /


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

Whitetail News Advertisers Deserve Both Credit and Support! Within the pages of Whitetail News, you’ll find a broad range of advertisements covering a host of products related to the outdoors. The ads you’ll see in Whitetail News are worth your time to read and consider.


ver two decades ago, we found out from our field testers that there was a real hunger out there for more information about food plots and deer management. The Whitetail Institute created Whitetail News to satisfy that very need, and we sell advertising space to help cover some of the substantial costs of publishing and mailing each issue to you. Within the pages of Whitetail News, you’ll find a broad range of advertisements covering a host of products related to the outdoors. The ads you’ll see in Whitetail News are worth your time to read and consider. One of the main reasons is, our advertisers make it possible for us to send Whitetail News to our customers for free. A second is that you know the ads in Whitetail News are from high quality and trustworthy companies. Over the years since its first publication, the Whitetail Institute’s insistence that Whitetail News only offer the high-


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est quality content has never wavered. Our ad director, Wade Atchley, understands that Whitetail News readers are among the most passionate hunters and managers out there and that they look to Whitetail News as a source of solid information that they can rely on. That also applies to the product and service advertisements you’ll find in these pages. So, when you’re considering making your next hunting-related purchase, consider supporting the advertisers you see here. It’s a great way to thank them for helping make the Food Plot Revolution a reality, and you’ll also be doing yourself a favor at the same time by ensuring that you’ll be buying from a high quality company.



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By Charles J. Alsheimer Photos by the Author

’d hate to think how my life would have turned out had it not been for the whitetail deer. It has enabled me to do some very special things. For more than 35 years, this animal has allowed me to be immersed in the hunting industry and hunt and photograph it throughout North America. But more important, the whitetail has made it possible for me to meet some incredible people. One such person is Steve Chapman, of Tennessee. He’s a musician, awardwinning songwriter and best-selling author of more than 26 books. In many ways, I knew Steve before I met him. In 1985, I became acquainted with his music. I’ll never forget the first time I heard Steve and his wife, Annie, sing their popular song “Turn Your Heart Toward Home.” Its message to the families of America is powerful, and I still find myself humming the song and thinking about its words. From that point, I’ve been a big fan of Steve and Annie Chapman’s music. Though our careers are much different, Steve and I have several common bonds that draw us together. Certainly, our love for family and the joy we share in knowing Jesus Christ as our savior are paramount. However, the thing that caused us to finally meet and become friends was our mutual love and respect for the whitetail deer. Steve has made a name for himself with his books and music, but I don’t know if I’ve ever met a more avid whitetail hunter. The mention of whitetails puts a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. In 1996, when Steve called and asked if I’d be willing to write the foreword to his new book, A Look at Life from a Deer Stand, I was curious about what the book would be like. His title intrigued me, and knowing his gift for writing, I was anxious to see the manuscript. Suffice to say, I couldn’t put it down. I was struck by Steve’s unique and wonderful way of communicating his deer hunting experiences and outlook on life. At times, I found myself roaring with laughter. Other

times, I sat thinking about the serious side of his words; words that vividly illustrate how I can become a better person, father and husband — the things that matter most in life. Simply, he makes me think. The man is a breath of fresh air; a living, breathing gift from God. A Look at Life from a Deer Stand is not your typical deer hunting book. Though it has sold more than 400,000 copies, making it one of the top-selling deer hunting books of all time, it will not tell you how to kill the biggest buck in the woods. But it might change your life. It is a powerful work from one of America’s top songwriters. Several years after the book was released, I suggested to Steve that he should do a study guide for the book. Though the book’s theme throughout dealt with deer hunting and life, the message conveyed in its 20 chapters could easily be turned into material suitable for Bible study classes, men’s retreats and hunting camp settings. Well, I don’t know how much I influenced Steve, but in 2012, the study guide to the book was published by Harvest House Publishers. Immediately, I knew it would be a great tool to help deer hunters put balance in their lives.

A Tool Box for Men Through the years, I’ve taught a men’s Sunday school class during the summer quarter at our church. The past two years, I’ve used Steve’s book and study guide, along with my whitetail photos, to show the relationship God has with whitetails and man, and what we can learn from the whitetail about life and our Creator. The two main themes of the class have been that God loves us, and great things are possible for those who believe and follow Him. Chapter 20 of the book is titled “God Will Repay.” In the chapter, Steve relates how he and his son, Nathan, helped a needy family when they harvested two does on a morning hunt. Their intent that morning was to be fortunate enough to get one deer for their family’s freezer. They got more than they bargained for when they killed two fat does; one for them and one for a family in need. Some might say there is no big deal in what they did. I tend to view their experience differently. Steve shared that he and his son had prepared for the hunt, and God repaid them for their preparation and desire to help a fellow person by putting those does in their sights. To illustrate the chapter’s points regarding God’s desire for us to give back to our fellow man, I shared through my photos how God blesses the whitetail deer. He blessed the whitetail with five incredible senses: touch, taste, eyesight, hearing and smell. Without these senses, the whitetail could not thrive and survive as it has since the dawn of creation. That is how God has repaid what I consider the crown jewel of North American wildlife. But the greater takeaway from the book’s chapter is the way God repays those who follow Him. Allow me to illustrate an experience I shared with my class that shows how God repays.

Meat for the Poor Proverbs 19:17 says, “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed.” This is a Bible verse that came to me when I received a phone call from a pastor

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Vol. 25, No. 2 /


God blessed the “crown jewel” of North American wildlife with incredible senses, including eyesight, hearing and smelling.

friend in 2004. He knew I would be traveling to Saskatchewan in November to hunt whitetails. The pastor shared they were supporting a missionary in the region I’d be hunting, and one of the missionary’s needs was food to help needy families. He went on to ask if it might be possible to donate some venison harvested by the hunters in camp the week I was there. I told him I’d contact the outfitter and get back to him. At the time, I didn’t know what to expect when I made the call to my outfitter, Bentley Brown of Turtleford, Saskatchewan. I explained to Bentley the pastor’s request, and after a brief discussion, he said he’d be happy to see what the other hunters thought about donating their venison, if successful. I called the pastor and shared what Brown had said. After getting the missionary’s phone number, I hung up and thought, “This is going to be interesting, because there is no guarantee anyone will kill a buck or even want to participate.” The first night in camp, I shared the missionary’s needs with the hunters. To my surprise, the other five hunters wanted in on the request. Now all we had to do was be fortunate enough to bag the buck of our dreams. Bentley added a bonus by telling us he still had two carcasses hanging in his meat locker that hunters had left from the previous week, which he’d donate to the cause. So we had a jumpstart before our first day of hunting. It turned out to be an incredible week, with all but one hunter tagging out by the end of the day on Thursday. Was it a coincidence that five slammer bucks presented themselves in front of Brown’s hunters? I think not. God knew the missionary’s need and used five deer hunters to seal the deal. On Thursday night, Bentley and I called the missionary to tell him there were seven 200-pound whitetail carcasses for him to pick up. When the missionary came the next day, he was overcome with emotion. To say he was grateful would be an understatement. God had repaid not only him but every hunter in camp. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

A Life Lesson When you’ve lived for almost seven decades, like I have, you learn that nothing great comes by chance. At least that’s the way I look at life. When I left the corporate world in 1979, many close to me thought I was making a huge mistake by trading in a good-paying job with many benefits to chase my dream of becoming a full-time outdoor writer and nature photographer. What caused me to make the leap (as some called it) was the desire to do something I loved and my deep faith in God. I believe that every person has been blessed with a special talent. Sadly, many never have the opportunity to turn their gift into a life’s work. I was passionate about deer hunting from the time I was a teenager. But only when I became immersed in nature photography did I see the potential of possibly turning hunting, outdoor writing and nature photography into a career. However, something greater than chasing a mere pipe dream had my attention. It was God. My writing, photography, hunting and public speaking ability opened doors I never thought possible. About the time I left the corporate sales and marketing world in 1979, I began getting requests to speak at church wild-game dinners. Many are huge events with 300 to 500 men and women in attendance. Since 1979, I’ve spoken at nearly 2,000 dinners to more than 500,000 folks. They’ve provided me an opportunity to share my knowledge of the whitetail, my photography and my faith with attendees. Along the


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way, I’ve met some incredible people, built special friendships and seen men turn their lives around. The takeaway for me has been very clear: I’m able to do what I do because God paved the way. It’s that simple.

Epilogue Allow me to wrap things up with two thoughts, unsolicited and personal. During my career, I’ve been privileged to have worked with many fine companies that carried out their business with impeccable integrity. Whitetail Institute is one such company. Though no one at this magazine asked or implied that I mention them in this article, I’ll just say this: The company’s products, people and the way it carries out business are second to none. For me, working as a freelancer, I view our relationship as a God-send. And last, you are probably reading this magazine because you love whitetails and have a desire to give back to wildlife by planting food plots, with the hope of having better hunting opportunities. If you believe that God created the land, sea and air, you know you have a responsibility to make things better than you found them. So, every time you work the soil and plant the seeds, do it like you are working for God by doing things to the best of your ability. From experience, I can tell you that when you look at your efforts this way, God will repay with better food plots, better whitetails and better hunting, not to mention leaving you with a great sense of fulfillment. ^


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Steve Scott, Charles Alsheimer and Ray Scott have formed a great friendship over the years.


Stealth Food Plots By Mark Kenyon Photo by the Author


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The first thing I saw was a flicker of ivory emerging from the timber and then a dark shape drifting through the grass. He was coming my way and fast. But my initial reaction wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t to grab my bow or binoculars or position myself for a shot. It was simply surprise. For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

Vol. 25, No. 2 /


I’d never seen or captured pictures of a mature buck using this food plot. But that summer, I’d made plans to change that. And now, on only my second hunt of the season, my plans had come to fruition. A 140-class Michigan whitetail was walking right in toward my food plot — a plot in which he would have probably never shown his face during daylight in previous years. The difference? I’d gone stealth. And I’d done it with the use of food plot screens.

plots are planted within view of a road or a neighbor’s property, this is something you’ll want to keep in mind. The last thing you want is a trespasser or poacher seeing deer pouring into your food plots nightly and getting ideas. This concept also applies to keeping deer from seeing into your plots, which at times can be beneficial. A food plot that can’t be easily seen from afar is one a buck will be more inclined to poke his head into and explore.

How to Go Stealth

Implementing Food Plot Screens

We know that quality food plots can command a lot of attention from deer when the right forage is planted. But as a hunter, this doesn’t do us much good if deer only spend time in or near those food plots at night. The food plot I described earlier is a perfect example of this issue, as daylight use (pre-screen) was rare because of its location adjacent to a large open crop field and its proximity to a road. The plot was planted in Whitetail Institute’s Pure Attraction, and deer were hitting it hard, but without some level of seclusion, it inevitably only saw action at night. If you experience a similar situation, where a secluded food plot location isn’t an option, going stealth with a food plot screen might be the fix. A food plot screen is a planting of some kind that forms a wall of cover around the borders of your food plot, blocking the view in and out. These screens can come in many forms, but in the example mentioned, I used a mixture of sorghum and Egyptian wheat. I chose those varieties because they’re fast growing, easy-to-establish annuals that can reach 8 to 12 feet tall in just a few months. The stalks and leaves of the plants form a nearly solid wall of vegetation, similar to stalks of corn, you can’t see through. Other options for food plot screens include plantings of tall corn, native grasses or even trees, such as pines or cedars. In the end, the only necessary trait is that whatever you plant must completely block the view in and out of a food plot.

If you have a food plot that could benefit from a screen, the first step you’ll need to take is deciding what type to plant. As I mentioned, the fastest and easiest option I’ve found is to plant a mix of sorghum and Egyptian wheat. Here in Michigan, this planting goes in the ground sometime around June, and by August or September, it can be well taller than head high. It’s also very forgiving when it comes to growing conditions and weather. I’ve had no trouble establishing stands around my food plots, despite dealing with several weather extremes in past years. That said, if you go this route, remember to not over-seed, as each plant needs enough space and sunlight to reach its full height. I’ve heard of numerous instances where this combination was over-seeded and growth was stunted because of it. You’ll also want to consider how wide a strip to plant. I’ve found that somewhere around eight feet wide seems to work best, but you might need to test this to find what works for your specific situation. If you plant a strip that’s too narrow, your screen might be too see-through or susceptible to blowing down. Too wide, though, and you waste valuable space that could be planted in food. There’s also the risk of creating so much cover that it encourages bedding within the screen, which isn’t necessarily something you want when trying to sneak past. Sorghum and Egyptian wheat are great options for getting a screen up in a short period, but this method requires replanting every year. If you’re looking for a more long-term option, it’s hard to beat a series of pine trees or cedars. And in the years before the evergreens are tall or thick enough, you can always supplement the screen with annual plantings of grasses or the wheat/sorghum mix. I’ve used food plot screens for several years and have seen significant benefits from their use, but it’s important to note a few challenges they bring with them. The most notable is that food plot screens can block shot opportunities. I’ve had two encounters where mature bucks moved into my area but remained blocked from view by the screen. To counteract that, I’ve occasionally cut shooting lanes through food plot screens, and I also do my best to position stands near those food plots in such a way that I’ll have shots at deer approaching the plots without worry of the screens getting in the way.

Why? Why is it so important to get stealthy and block visibility in and out of a food plot? First and foremost, creating some amount of seclusion can keep deer feeling secure in your plot and lead to increased daytime usage. By nature, a food plot screen does that by keeping deer within the plot from seeing out, which provides two benefits. First, by blocking in the plot, it keeps deer from seeing any outside activity that might usually alarm them. If a plot is near a road or adjacent to a larger field, the potential for outside factors to spook feeding deer is high, and a screen can negate that substantially. This kind of seclusion can also simply make deer feel more comfortable using the area because of their general preference of being close to edge cover. Deer, especially mature bucks, often feel uncomfortable feeding in large wide-open fields during daylight. By blocking in your plot, you can cut down the amount of open space a deer has to deal with to provide a sense of nearby safety. Food plot screens can also be beneficial for hiding you, the hunter. Your plots, if successfully planted, will inevitably have deer in them early and late in the day. But if you need to access a stand near those plots, you’re going to have a hard time getting there without spooking deer. With the use of a food plot screen, though, you can sneak past without being seen. This is relevant whether you’re hunting close to plots or simply need to travel past them to enter or exit other areas. As great as food plot screens are at keeping deer from seeing out, they are also great at keeping things from seeing inside. If your food


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Conclusion Two years after the initial encounter mentioned at the beginning of this piece, I sat again overlooking that food plot. Again, my food plot screens provided a level of seclusion that made local deer feel safe feeding in the plots at all hours. This time, though, I wasn’t surprised when the buck emerged from the adjacent brush an hour before dark and headed into the plot. My dad was with me that day, and as he brought the buck into his scope, I couldn’t help but smile as I thought back to how far that location had come. Food plots are great, but stealth plots are sometimes better. My dad and I have freezers full of venison to prove it. ^ www.whitetailinstitute.com

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

Pigweeds: A Cautionary Tale on How NOT to Manage Weeds


hroughout most of the central and eastern United States, you will commonly see a tall weed in crop fields. This weed is not fussy about what type of crop — corn, soybean, cotton, peanut and perhaps food plots. It has been around a while but was effectively controlled. Currently, that is not the case. The weed is pigweed. Pigweeds are a genetically diverse group of weeds in the genus Amaranthus. In the Midwest, the prevalent pigweed is waterhemp. In the Delta and Southeast, Palmer amaranth is the demon. Other pigweed species exist elsewhere, and all species have overlapping distribution and even hybridize. The reasons for this diverse group of weeds becoming predominant provide a cautionary tale for how not to manage weeds, and the story is worth telling. During this explanation, look for parallels between this example and overall weed control in food plots.

Why Pigweeds, and Why Now? Pigweeds are prolific seed producers — 500,000 seeds per plant. They readily cross-pollinate, and this gives the weed robust genetic diversity. These general characteristics allow pigweeds to rapidly adjust to changes in crop production and weed management, which are basically man-made forms of natural selection. In recent years, weed control in most major crops has become narrowly focused to reliance on a scant handful of herbicides. This action, in conjunction with the biological attributes of pigweed, allowed the weed to adapt. Surviving weeds with the genetic profile to survive treatment with commonly used herbicides and prolific seed production has created the perfect monster weed. This past summer, a local newspaper reporter interviewed me about herbicide-resistant Palmer amaranth. I made the point that this is strictly a man-made problem. The truth hurts. We created the problem, and the only solution is to revisit the concepts of integrated weed management, and that is equally applicable to food plots.


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Cultural Weed Control Crop varieties have been systematically improved through breeding programs. Desirable attributes include seedling vigor and robust growth, which are among the stated goals of the Whitetail Institute’s forage breeding program. These attributes enhance crop competition with weeds, which is the most cost-effective form of weed control. Production practices that further enhance crop competition are also forms of cultural weed control. These practices include seedbed preparation, seeding rate, forage selection and time of seeding. And make sure you soil test and follow the recommendations. Whitetail Institute provides detailed instruction on forage establishment, which will help capture the benefits of cultural weed control. It is important to understand the great variable — weather. My simple operational philosophy to deal with weather challenges is to avoid extremes when planting food plots. Avoid extremely dry or wet, extremely hot or cold, or extremely early or late conditions. Avoiding the extremes will greatly improve forage crop growth and set the stage for weed suppression.

Mechanical Weed Control Mechanical weed control involves the use of tillage, mowing or hand-weeding to control or remove weeds. Mechanical weed control is dynamic and easy to conceptualize, and the benefits are obvious. Some less obvious benefits are also worth mentioning. Stale seedbeds are formed several weeks or months before planting forages. Harrowing stale seedbeds repeatedly during the fallow period controls emerged weeds and simultaneously stimulates another flush, which is controlled by the next harrowing. That might sound like a paradox of conflicting benefits versus liabilities. Remember, there are a finite number of viable weed seeds in the soil, and repeated stale seedbed tillage substantially lowers the baseline weed density before planting. The process is called exhaustive germination. Deep tillage using a moldboard plow is not always an option in food plots because of equipment limitations. However, it's worth mentioning the weed control benefits provided by moldboard plowing. Shallow tillage for a couple of years with a harrow will cause a stratification of weed seed near the soil surface, where germination is easily stimulated. Periodic tillage with a moldboard plow buries accumulated weed seed deep in the soil profile, where they are not stimulated to germinate. Some argue that although deep plowing might bury weed seeds, the practice also brings weed seeds back to the soil surface. That is true, but research has clearly shown that far more viable www.whitetailinstitute.com

weed seeds are buried than are brought to the soil surface. Weed seeds are always subjected to mortality factors, and that includes when they're buried deep in the soil profile. Remember the previously mentioned herbicide-resistant pigweed example? That development coincides with reductions in deep tillage across most cropping systems. Pigweeds have small seeds and cannot germinate when deep in the soil profile. Shallow tillage or long-term no-tillage crop production causes accumulations of pigweed seeds near the soil surface, where germination readily occurs. This has undoubtedly been a contributing factor in the preponderance of pigweed as a weed and the rapid establishment of herbicide-resistant selections.

Set Your Sights on

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Chemical Weed Control The development and large-scale use of selective herbicides for weed control was a breakthrough in modern crop production. Herbicides increased farm productivity and efficiency, and reduced production costs by lessening the need for hand-weeding labor. Food plot hobbyists have also benefitted from that technology. Arrest Max and Slay are the cornerstone herbicides for grass and weed control in food plots. Glyphosate, triclopyr and 2,4-D have valuable secondary weed-control roles during fallow periods. Most food plot hobbyists have benefitted from these herbicides and rely on their performance. Convenience and logistics present major challenges, and herbicides lessen the perpetual headaches caused by distance and time that separate our daily lives from hunting properties. Herbicides certainly have made our recreational lives better, just like farmersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; lives. However, herbicides also have a dark side that needs to be acknowledged. They are remarkably effective and convenient, and it's human nature to take the path of least resistance. In the weed-control context, that means progressively more dependence on herbicides as the sole means to manage weeds. That is not a sustainable condition. I began this article discussing the nationwide challenge of herbicide-resistant pigweeds. All of us in commercial and professional agriculture need to assume blame for this problem. Herbicides are convenient to use, and agriculture drifted toward a badly skewed system of weed control. The result is a preponderance of herbicide-resistant weeds. This story is a cautionary tale for food plot hobbyists. Weed resistance to herbicides might be an isolated problem in food plots, but the more probable outcome of skewed weed control is selection of weed species that are marginally controlled by existing food plot herbicides. Face it, as useful as herbicides are in food plots, some weed species have never been controlled with available tools. Further, multispecies forage blends complicate herbicide use. In our area of mutual interest, the solution is a balanced system of weed control in food plots. A carefully crafted system of cultural, mechanical and chemical weed control is the only way to effectively manage weeds in food plots. A few years ago, I dreamed up the analogy of a three-legged stool to describe a properly managed weed-management system. Cultural, mechanical and chemical weed control represent the three legs on the stool, each equally supporting the stool. With three legs, the stool is stable. Remove one or more of the legs of the stool, and it falls. The same is true for weed control. Use the weed-control collapse we are seeing with herbicide-resistant pigweeds as a real-world example of how not to manage weeds. ^

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Vol. 25, No. 2 /


Winning Rotations By Matt Harper

Photo by Charles J. Alsheimer

Healthy Soil→Healthy Plots→Healthy Deer


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his past summer, I got to do one of those things that makes being a dad a pretty cool job. I took my two daughters to their first Major League baseball game. Neither are really young — 15 and 11 at the time — but the spectacle around them made the excitement in their eyes brighter than the first time they went to Disney. To make it better, the Kansas City Royals won that night, putting them in first place for the first time in… well, a very long time. My girls have played or still play softball, so they’re familiar with the game. Still, they couldn't figure out why both teams went through at least three to four pitchers during the game. I explained the roles of starting pitchers, middle relief pitchers, set-up men and closers. Each has his own job and function during a game, and on a good pitching staff, they complement each other; left handers versus right handers, speed pitchers versus control pitchers and so on. One often sets up another, and together, hopefully they create a winning rotation. www.whitetailinstitute.com

Nitrogen One main reason for corn-soybean rotation is that corn (actually part of the grass family) requires heavy nitrogen fertilization, but soybeans (a legume) require little or no nitrogen fertilization and will actually add nitrogen into the soil. Legumes such as soybeans, cowpeas, clover and alfalfa do not actually produce their own nitrogen but rather have a symbiotic relationship with specific bacteria. These bacteria convert N2, which is not biologically usable, to NH3 which can be used by the plant. These bacteria species are typically found in the soil if that soil has been planted with legumes in the past. Regardless, seed inoculation is commonly done to make sure the appropriate bacteria are present. Soon after germination, the bacteria form nodules on the root structure of the plant and begin converting N2 to NH3, giving the plant a source of nitrogen. This is why when first planting a legume field such as clover or alfalfa, a small bit of nitrogen is often used while these nodules are being formed. When the field is established, however, nitrogen is not needed, and any nitrogen application is used by competing plant varieties. When those legumes die, the nitrogen in the nodules is released back into the soil and becomes available for the subsequent forage that is planted.

mulate in the soil through time. The severity of the damage this can cause varies depending on several factors but in nearly all cases will result in production loss and eventually lead to forage failure. For example, a common disease in alfalfa is crown rot normally associated with pathenogenic fungus. This condition will worsen through time if the field is planted for multiple years in alfalfa or if alfalfa is planted back to back. Because most of these pathogens negatively affect specific plant species, rotating fields with unrelated forages decreases the amount of these pathogens in the soil. The pathogens require the specific species to survive and proliferate, so removing the host plant species for one or more years will result in an overall decrease of the pathogens in the soil. My grandpa and dad always told me that you should never plant alfalfa again in a field just taken out of alfalfa. We would typically plant a non-legume such as oats, corn or pasture grasses in that field and then rotate it back to alfalfa during a set period. Although certain species of plants are more susceptible to disease than others, nearly all plant varieties can suffer from specific pathogens. Rotating crops can dramatically decrease the negative effects of disease regardless of the forage species being used.

Aeration Most of us are familiar with soil aeration because it’s a common practice for lawn care. Through time, sod forms a highly impenetrable layer on top of the ground, decreasing the amount of air, water and nutrients that can penetrate to the roots. Aerating the ground results in greater root growth so these elements are allowed to penetrate deeper into the soil. Aeration is not only needed to improve an existing stand of vegetation but can also be beneficial in soils that are commonly replanted. Soil compaction leads to decreased air, water and nutrients penetrating the soil and can occur through time as a result of specific tillage practices. For example, if you are using a tiller that will cut into the soil 6 inches but not farther, through time, the soil

Photo by Matt Harper

Food plotters can create winning rotations as well. The soil a plant inhabits is the major environment it depends on for growth and life. Sunlight, rain and carbon dioxide are also essential, but if those factors are present in sufficient quantities to sustain life and the soil is not compatible with the plants growing in it, those plants will not survive or at least won’t be as productive as they should. You must have healthy, compatible soil for optimal vegetative growth and productivity. If you’ve messed around with food plots much, you’ve probably heard that soil pH is important for healthy plant growth. Soil pH is the level of acidity or alkalinity a soil possesses, with 1 to 6 being acidic and 8 to 14 being alkaline. A pH of 7 is neutral and in most cases is the optimal pH for plant growth, or at least for most food plot forages. If a soil has a pH level of 4 or 5, for example, the essential nutrients forages such as clover or alfalfa need are partially bound and cannot be absorbed into the roots. You might have heard that neutralizing the soil is more important than fertilizer, especially as a first step, because regardless of how many nutrients you add to the soil, there’s little to no benefit if the plant is unable to use it. Although soil pH is vital, several other aspects of soil health are also important for food plot productivity. Many of these aspects can be controlled or at least greatly improved through crop or forage rotation. Crop/forage rotation is a system by which you alternate plantings of complementary plant varieties to improve the soil environment for each successive planting. The most common example of this in the agricultural world is the alternate plantings of corn and beans. For many years, farmers have understood the benefits of rotating these crops during alternating years. However, rotational benefits don’t stop with corn and beans.

Diseases Rotational planting can also help prevent the buildup of diseasecausing pathogens in the soil that are related to the forage that has been planted in that field. Bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens typically target specific plant species or families of plants and can accu-

It is a good idea to rotate your Winter-Greens at least every third season. Imperial Winter Peas and Whitetail Oats are two great options.

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Vol. 25, No. 2 /


below that 6-inch area will become compacted. Aeration can be done mechanically, and farmers often use huge subsoilers that cut extremely deep into the ground to help alleviate this issue. Food plotters can use a chisel plow that cuts deeper to break up the compaction. However, aeration can also be done using specific plant varieties. Some of the most common food plot varieties used for this purpose include radishes, turnips and other large tuber-producing varieties. The large tuber cuts through the soil and, depending on the variety, will grow deep down, breaking up and separating the soil. When this soil is subsequently tilled for the next crop, the tuber will have effectively aerated the field.

Managing Rotations for Nutrition and Hunting Rotational planting works great to ensure a healthy soil and in turn a healthy food plot, but implementing these forage rotations can sometimes be tricky. This is especially true for food plots, considering that most people are not able to plant hundreds of acres but rather a small handful. For example, let's say you use Imperial Whitetail Clover for your main perennial food plots, and you rely on those plots to supply protein to deer. When it comes time to replant those plots, you decide to rotate them out with another forage species. But how can you ensure that your deer are getting the protein they need without the Imperial Clover fields? You could create new plots planted with Imperial Clover, but you might not have access or the ability to add new food plots on your property. The same can be said for your winter plots of Winter-Greens. You use those fields to supply deer with valuable nutrients during winter, so if you rotate them into another forage variety, how can you be assured you will be able to give deer what they need? Yet another factor is soil type. You may use AlfaRack Plus and Imperial Extreme because of the soil types in which you plant, but you must also diligently match the soil types to the variety you plan to rotate with. Therefore, not all situations will allow the same rotation. When managing rotations, you must also consider how you use your food plots during hunting season. For example, your early-season bowhunting plots may be planted in PowerPlant, Imperial Whitetail Clover or Whitetail Oats Plus and your late-season plots are planted in Winter-Greens. So when it comes time to rotate those crops, how can you be assured that the rotation will not affect your hunting? If you’re not planting specific food plots for a particular hunting season (early, mid- or late season), rotations can be fairly simple. Your primary concern is that you maintain a proper balance of seasonal plots and provide a consistent level of nutrients. Simply add the total acres of perennials, spring and summer annuals, fall annuals and winter annuals, and make sure that when you rotate your plots, you maintain the target balance. For example, let’s say you have three acres of Winter-Greens, three acres of Imperial Clover, two acres of Whitetail Oats Plus and two acres of No-Plow. Additionally, as part of the planting project, you need to replant one of the three acres of the Imperial Clover. One of the three acres coming out of Winter-Greens could be used for the Imperial Clover, but the Winter-Greens were planted in welldrained soil, so that conversion would not work as well. Instead, you must choose the soil where Whitetail Oats Plus or No-Plow was planted, which holds moisture well, and use one acre there to convert to Imperial Clover. Then, swap out the best-drained soil of the remaining three acres of Whitetail Oats Plus and No-Plow with Winter-


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Greens. Finally, plant No-Plow and Whitetail Oats Plus in the old Winter-Greens fields and in the one acre of Imperial Clover that was removed. This seems a bit complicated, but it’s really just like putting a puzzle together. Pre-planning what your food plot varieties will be in combination with what types of soil you’re working with helps dramatically. If you need specific food plot varieties in a specific field for hunting, you must take a slightly different approach. I have this situation on a couple of farms, and the solution was to break up the bigger fields into planting zones or sub-fields. One example is a 6-acre field I focus on during the late muzzleloader season. In Iowa, that hunt occurs in late December and early January, so my food plot of choice is WinterGreens. But I also want deer to use this field during spring and summer, as it’s in the middle of the farm. To accomplish the rotation, I broke the field into five sections consisting of a 2-acre sub-field and four 1-acre subfields. I plant the 2-acre field with Imperial Alfa-Rack Plus and the other 1-acre fields split between Winter-Greens and Whitetail Oats Plus. For the duration of the life of the Alfa-Rack Plus (generally five or more years), I simply alternate the sub-fields, rotating the WinterGreens and Whitetail Oats Plus. When the Alfa-Rack Plus needs to be replanted, I shift the plots around, swapping out two acres of subfields of Winter-Greens or Whitetail Oats Plus to be planted with Alfawww.whitetailinstitute.com

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Rack Plus. Doing this accomplishes several things. I’m able to keep a consistent nutrient supply, have a food source in that food plot year-round, allow for good hunting opportunities throughout the season regardless of rotation schedule and maintain good soil health with changing varieties each planting cycle.

Conclusion If you’re a food plotter, you’re a manager at heart, and even if you don't think you are today, you will become one. You’re planting plots to help manage your deer herd and/or help manage your deer harvest, but you can also be a good steward of the land and manage your soil health. After all, it all starts with the soil. Healthy soil helps produce a healthy food plot, which in turn will help to maintain a healthy deer herd. As mentioned, rotational planting is a bit of a puzzle, but with some planning and thinking ahead, it’s a puzzle you can solve. ^ For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

Vol. 25, No. 2 /


BREAKING GROUND By Mark Trudeau,, WINA Director of Certified Research

Fine-Tune Equipment Use for Seedbed Preparation and Planting ost high-quality forage plantings for deer should be planted in a prepared seedbed. By that, I mean a seedbed that, among other things, has been tilled and finished with equipment. In this article, I’ll give you some tips on how to use tillage and finishing equipment to get the best results. Preliminary Information Keep in mind that you can use multiple types of implements to work the soil, including plows, disks and tillers. Although it’s generally not necessary to plow, we’ll assume that any plowing you might do for initial tillage has already been done, and we’ll focus on implements used for final tillage before planting: disks and tillers. Likewise, you can use multiple types of implements to finish the seedbed immediately before and after planting. We’ll focus on the most common: drag harrows and cultipackers. Correct use of these implements depends on remembering two things during final seedbed preparation and planting: soil moisture and optimum planting depth based on seed size

and soil moisture. Planting Depth and Seed Size: Seeds are generally described by their physical size, specifically as small seeds or large seeds, especially when optimum planting depth is discussed. Small seeds, such as clover, brassica and chicory, which are often only as big as a grain of black pepper, should be planted so they are left on the surface of the seedbed or very close to the surface, say less than ¼-inch deep. Large seeds, such as oats, corn and beans should be planted so they are left under a thin layer of loose soil. The reason small seeds must be left near the surface of the seedbed is they don’t have enough energy to push seedlings through much soil to reach the surface. Large seeds have more energy to do that, so they can be left a little deeper in the soil. Next, go back to the preceding paragraph, and focus on what I said about planting depth. It’s not just how deep the seed is planted that’s important. It’s where the seed is left. In other words, we are concerned with making sure seeds are planted and stay at optimum depth based on seed size. And as we’ll discuss later, making sure you do that depends in large part on using your equipment correctly. Optimum Soil Moisture for Equipment Use: When most folks think about soil moisture (how much moisture is in the soil), their first consideration is whether sufficient moisture exists to sustain the seedlings after the seeds germinate. That is an important consideration, and we’ll touch on that as we go along. As you’ll also see, though, the soil moisture level is equally important to making sure you get the best results out of your equipment. In fact, it’s crucial to take soil moisture levels into account at each stage of seedbed preparation, because how well or how poorly equipment will do its job depends on it.

Photo by Whitetail Institute


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The Soil Moisture Test: It’s best to disk or till when you can grab some of the soil and ball it tightly in your hand, open your hand, and have the ball fall apart into three or four big chunks, but not into particles. When you can do that, it means the soil has some moisture but is nowhere near wet or dry. That’s optimum for working the soil with equipment at all stages of seedbed preparation and finishing.

Disks and Rototillers When you’re in the final stages of preparing your seedbed before planting, you’ll be using a disk or a rototiller to perform final ground tillage, regardless of whether the seeds you’ll be planting are small seeds or large seeds. As mentioned, the first consideration with a disk or a tiller is soil moisture. With either implement, optimum soil condition will satisfy the soil moisture test I mentioned. If the soil is truly wet, neither disking nor rototilling will work well. Wet soil can quickly clog up either implement. Disking or tilling wet soil will also actually create clods. If you are short on time or have other constraints and have to disk or till when the ground holds some excess moisture, you might have to disk or till more than twice and leave time between each pass to allow excess moisture to evaporate. Again, though, don’t wait until the soil is completely dry. You want soil moisture levels to be optimum as per the soil moisture test I mentioned. Dry soil also presents problems. It will make it much harder for you to break clods with a disk, and when worked with a rototiller, dry soil can be left so powdery it can’t easily firm back up (important when planting small seeds) before planting. If you have to work dry soil and have access to a disk and a tiller, use the disk, because it won’t work the soil as thoroughly as a tiller. That’s a good thing, especially when conditions are dry, because the more you work the ground, the more quickly you’ll lose what little soil moisture you have through evaporation. More about Disking: If you’re going to use a disk for final tillage before planting, plan on disking twice. Set the blades at an aggressive angle for the first cut, and disk at 4 mph. Then, adjust the blades so they have only a slight angle for the second cut, and disk again but this time at 4 to 5 mph. That will allow you to effectively break up clods left by the first pass — again, if the soil has optimum moisture content (is neither wet nor dry). You can go a little faster with an ATV if you want to, but try not to exceed 5 mph with a tractor because doing so might put ridges in the soil. In either case, you’ll know you’re going too fast if you see the disk is throwing more soil toward the center of its path than elsewhere (not leaving the seedbed level behind it). If you see that happening, take additional angle out of the disk, slow down or do both.

Drag Harrows and Cultipackers First, let’s describe the implements we’re talking about. Drag harrows look basically like a section of heavy chain-link fence with keyhole-shaped teeth extending off one face, and a chain at one end for attaching to an ATV or tractor. You can lay the harrow on the soil with its teeth up (pointing skyward), in which case the flat side against the ground works the soil. In that orientation, it acts purely as a drag-type implement and smooths the seedbed, eliminating large cracks. Alternatively, it can be laid on the ground with the teeth down so the weight of the implement pushes the teeth down into the soil. For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

Vol. 25, No. 2 /


stage between final disking or tilling and putting the seed out when you’re planting large seeds.

Section 2: Use After Planting

Dragging your seedbed.

Photo by Whitetail Institute

That way, the implement simultaneously works and smoothes the soil. Cultipackers are simply rolling cylinders mounted on a frame for attachment to an ATV or tractor. As the implement moves along, it rolls the seedbed, smoothing it and eliminating large cracks as a drag does, and it also tends to firm the soil a lot more. Cultipackers are different from smooth lawn-type rollers, though, in that cultipackers are notched, meaning that their rolling surface is wavy. This creates little ridges in the soil as the implement smoothes and firms the seedbed. The ridges are important for several reasons. One of the most important is that they help reduce loss of soil moisture through evaporation. Another is in situations where you’re planting a site with a slight grade. In such cases, cultipack the field horizontally so the ridges the cultipacker leaves in the soil run laterally across the seedbed instead of up and down the slope. That can help keep the slope from washing and retain moisture in the ridge valleys so it’s available to the seed as it germinates.

Section 1: Use Before Planting When Planting Small Seeds: As mentioned, it’s important to remember that you’re trying to plant your seeds at the optimum depth, depending on whether they’re small seeds or large seeds, and in such a way that they stay at that depth. This is especially important with small seeds, which should be left on or very near the surface of the soil. That means that the seedbed should be smoothed and firmed before planting. A drag harrow or cultipacker can do that effectively. If you use a drag harrow to smooth the seedbed before planting small seeds, use the harrow with the teeth down. This will eliminate large cracks into which the small seeds could fall and be buried too deep. Also, pull the harrow at 8 to 10 mph. By doing so, you’ll smooth the seedbed, and the impact of the harrow’s teeth will help break up remaining clods. If you use a cultipacker, though, roll the seedbed until your boot tracks sink down about 1/2 to one inch before you put your seed out. And if the seedbed is sloped, try to cultipack across the grade, not up and down, for the reasons mentioned earlier. Note that if you rototilled the seedbed when the soil was dry, you might not be able to firm the soil that much. Here’s where you start to see the importance of waiting, when possible, to work the soil until soil moisture levels are optimum. That certainly doesn’t mean you can’t plant. It just means you might need to finish the seedbed a little differently after planting. More on that later. When Planting Large Seeds: Large seeds should be left a little deeper in the seedbed. Specifically, they should be covered by a thin layer of loose soil. Accordingly, it isn’t necessary for the seedbed to be as smooth and free of cracks before planting large seeds as it is when planting small seeds. In most cases, you can eliminate the smoothing


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When Planting Small Seeds: This is when you see why it’s important to remember that seeds need to be planted so they are left (will stay) at the proper depth in the seedbed during germination and early seedling growth. What (if anything) you should do after planting small seeds depends on how firm the seedbed already is when you put the seed out and, again, how much moisture is in the soil. If you cultipacked the seedbed before seeding to the point that your boot tracks sink down only about 1/2 to one inch, cultipack the seedbed once more after putting out small seeds. That won’t cover the seeds, but it will help seat them into the surface of the firmed seedbed. But what if the seedbed isn’t that firm after you put out small seeds? It likely won’t be that firm if you smoothed the seedbed with a drag before seeding. And, as mentioned, it almost certainly won’t be that firm if you rototilled dry soil, even if you tried to firm it up afterwards with a cultipacker. If the soil is softer, do nothing further after you put out small seeds. They will naturally fall right into optimum contact with the seedbed’s surface. And what if the soil is firmer than that? Such cases are rare, but if the soil is firmer, consider pulling a drag harrow over the seed with the teeth up, or use a cultipacker. When Planting Large Seeds: After putting out large seeds, lightly disk the seeds in, or cover them with a drag harrow with the teeth down at 8 to 10 mph. Note that this is the only situation in which you would use a harrow with the teeth down after planting. If you use a drag harrow, pass over the seeds one time at about 8 to 10 mph with the teeth down. Again, harrow over large seeds only once. If you pass over the seeds more than once, you might flip many of the seeds you just left at optimum depth back up onto the surface. Also, keep your speed at about 8 to 10 mph. If you pull the harrow much slower, the teeth will simply ride up and over remaining clods. At a speed of 8 to 10 mph, the impact of the harrow’s teeth with remaining clods can help break them up. Again, this assumes that soil moisture is optimum according to the soil moisture test mentioned earlier. Clods that are wet or dry are harder to break.

Final Thoughts Every situation is different, so again, remember the things to focus on. The first is seed size. The second is soil moisture. As you can see, you should take both into account if you’re going to use your equipment effectively to leave the seed at optimum depth in the soil. ^ Photo by Whitetail Institute

Cultipacking is a must for firm seedbeds.

GOOD THINGS CAN COME IN SMALL PACKAGES: Make the Most of What You Have By Jon Cooner Photo by Charles J. Alsheimer

Every so often, I get a call or run into someone who wants to plant food plots for deer but believes he doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have the room to do so. Usually, he thinks he doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have enough open area on his property or that the property is too small. Whatever the reason, I always see such situations as a golden opportunity to do a little eye opening. The fact is, almost everyone can find a way and a location to plant food plots. All they have to do is alter their way of thinking. 26 WHITETAIL NEWS

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sumptions that aren’t true. The key to getting ahead is to take a realistic look at your resources and set goals you can achieve with what you have. In fact, that’s exactly the approach to crafting any deer hunting or management plan, whether you hunt 10 acres or 10,000. Certainly, it’s possible to manage deer much more intensively on thousands of acres than on 100, and someone with only 10 acres will be managing just for hunting. Even so, it’s usually possible to make real improvements by making the most of what you have. On small properties, your goal should be to increase the amount of time deer spend on your land as opposed to having them occasionally travel across it. Having the most-preferred food in the area, a source of water and helping deer feel secure on your property encourage deer to spend more time there, which will obviously increase your odds for success.

Look for Plantable Areas You Might Have Missed Here’s a big factor: Make sure your deer have attractive, nutritious food. That, of course, leads me to food plots. You can usually find plantable areas on any property. Good examples include power lines, old home sites and pond dams, which are obvious plantable areas to most folks. So are logging roads and ATV trails. Try to find a stand site at a bend or corner in the road, and plant the road in both directions in Imperial Whitetail No-Plow, Bow-Stand or Secret Spot. Your property likely has lots of other plantable areas that you might not have considered. One often overlooked area has become my favorite: spots within planted pines where the canopy is thin for some reason. Usually, these areas are fairly round or rectangular where two or three rows of trees haven’t grown well. These make excellent food plot sites because they’re often within heavy cover and give deer a feeling of security when using them during daytime. Imperial Whitetail No-Plow, Bow-Stand and Secret Spot are ideal for food plots in such small, out-of-the-way places. If your property is very small, consider planting every open space you have. Occasionally, I get calls from folks with very small properties who are considering planting a tiny single food plot — for example, 20 feet by 20 feet. That’s only 400 square feet, which is so small deer can wipe it out very quickly. Consider, though, that if your property is very small and you plant lots of these little areas, all of them together might act as a much larger single food plot.

Deer Must Feel Safe

If-Only Thinking Most of us have probably heard folks make statements such as, “If only… then I could.” You can fill in the blanks in many ways. Even so, the structure of the statement is the same. I call it ‘if-only thinking,’ and it’s a guaranteed path to failure because it means the speaker has decided not to try. You can see what I mean when you consider that if-only statements are really just another way of saying, “I can’t.” Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been guilty of if-only thinking before, too, so I’m not throwing stones. If you think about it, though, the reason if-only thinking is so counterproductive is that it’s often based on as-

Your goal in improving the quality of hunting on your property, whether it’s large or small, is to bring deer to it and make them want to stay. Doing that has several important aspects. Most important, you must do your best to make sure deer feel safe on your property. Larger properties offer deer more distance between themselves and hunters, so the smaller your property is, the more care you’ll have to take making sure that you don’t overhunt it and that when you hunt it, you can get to and from your stand with minimal disturbance. Remember, even if your property is very small, the same process applies to improving the quality of your hunting: You have to identify realistically what your situation is and then look for ways to make the most of it. Even on large properties, the best crafted management plans have to be tweaked after you see how deer react to it, so plant food plots where you can, keep pressure to a minimum and adjust as needed through time. ^

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Vol. 25, No. 2 /



Follow Best Management Practices By J. Wayne Fears Photos by the Author

Then they tell me that when they planted their food plots, they went to Wal-Mart and bought a few sacks of 10-10-10 fertilizer and put some on each plot. Sometimes, I'm told that they saved money and didn’t fertilize the plot at all because the dark soil looked fertile. These are the wrong answers, and that's one of the main reasons many food plots fail to produce a healthy crop that will attract deer. Liming can make all the difference. Liming food plots, where necessary, is an affordable way to provide the elements necessary for optimum growth and nutrition of plants, which in turn benefits deer that eat the plants. The need for lime and, if so, how much, is determined with a soil test that will tell you the soil pH. This knowledge of a soil is vital to food plot production and the fertilization of foods growing in a deer habitat. A pH of 7.0 is neutral, and a soil pH of less than 7.0 — such as 5.0, 5.5 and 6.0 — is acidic. If it's higher than 7.0 — such as 8.0, 8.5 or 9.0 — the soil is alkaline. Most deer forage crops grow best at pH values of 6.5-7.0. Adjusting soil pH with lime to within that range can save you money, maximizes growth and increases yield, fertilizer efficiency and the palatability of crops. As mentioned, the best way to determine the pH of a soil is to get a

nything worth doing is worth doing right,” was a saying my dad lived by, whether it was farming, trapping or home repairs. That saying applies to planting food plots and farming in general. Growing crops is a risky business, at best, especially when you consider that ultimately, you are at the mercy of the weather. However, as farmers know and an increasing number of food plotters are learning, the best insurance for having a good crop yield and a sustainable land management future is to follow the best possible farming practices. This “insurance policy” is composed of several critical crop and land-management practices you must follow. The rest is up to the weather. Soil Testing is a Must “Why are my food plots yellow and not green like my neighbors? I have the same type soil as my neighbor, and I planted the seeds you recommended. Also, my neighbor kills more and better deer than I do. What is the answer?” As a food plot consultant, it's one the most frequent questions I hear. I usually start answering the question with a question: “Did you use a soil test to determine if you needed to lime the plot and determine the kind and amount of fertilizer you need to apply to the plot?” More often than not, the reply is, either “No” or “What is a soil test?”


/ Vol. 25, No. 2

Sound food plot planning that incorporates the best management practices is the best crop insurance there is. www.whitetailinstitute.com

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quality food plot. Take your time, and do it right.

Plant During the Recommended Dates Planting seed based on the planting dates recommended by the seed producer is just as important as planting the correct amount of seed per acre. Plants have a required period of time to grow to maturity or to the desired stage for their intended purposes during weather conditions for which they are adapted. To plant seed out of season is asking for crop failure. I have seen many fall food plots fail because the seeds were planted too early and encountered late-summer drought, or planted too late and encountered a hard freeze. Spring plantings that are too early can encounter a late killing frost, and late plantings can fail because of heat or drought. Seed producers recommend planting dates, based on experience, for USDA plant hardiness zones, and you should follow these recommendations. Know the source of your seeds. Buy from proven leaders in food plot seed production. professional laboratory soil tests which are offered through Ag universities, some coops and the Whitetail Institute. If the soil test recommends lime, it should be applied several months in advance of planting, if possible. Lime is not water soluble and should be incorporated into the soil. Soil testing should be done at least every two years for food plots growing perennials and every year for annuals. If lime is not applied properly to a food plot that has a low pH, the result will be an inferior crop. This is one of the chief causes of yellow-looking food plot crops that see little use by deer. Lime is inexpensive, and getting a professional laboratory soil test and following the recommendations for lime and fertilizer is one easy and inexpensive way to have a food plot crop that will attract and hold deer.

Seed-to-Soil Contact I have written many times that one of the most common mistakes of food plotters is not preparing a good seedbed for the seed they’re planting. I consider poor seedbed preparation second only to not following soil test recommendations as the reason food plot crops fail. Tilling a food plot should not be rushed. It can take several passes with the cutting disc to establish a good seedbed, but with patience, you can do it properly. Good seed-to-soil contact is essential for a productive food plot, and you want a level, fine textured seedbed. Use a cultipacker or drag to make sure the seeds are in contact with the soil. Even the best seed will not grow if it doesn’t come into solid contact with the soil.

Crop Rotation

After buying seeds for a food plot, you want to get the best seeds available without bringing in weed seeds with them. Some places sell bargain-basement seeds — that is, seeds from an unknown source, seeds infested with weed seeds, seeds spilled on the floor (called “sweepings”) and seed mixes of unknown amounts of various types. These seeds are cheap but most often produce less than desired results and often introduce problems in the form of weeds. Purchase seeds from a respected company such as the Whitetail Institute that has a proven track record because it controls its own seed production, seed stock and seed-stock maintenance.

Not rotating crops is another common food plot mistake. Farmers long ago discovered that crop rotation with some plants was the secret to high plant density and healthy crop yields. Rotating certain crops helps control weeds, avoids nutrition depletion, improves soil structure and helps control soil-borne diseases and insects. That principle holds true with wildlife food plots, especially those planted in alfalfa or brassicas. In the case of alfalfa, the crop will usually begin to decline in about three to five years, and at that time, it should be rotated for at least one year into a completely different type crop. Brassicas such as canola, kale, rape, radishes and turnips should not be planted more than two consecutive years on the same plot to prevent insect and root disease problems. They should be rotated into other crops or products that contain no brassicas.

Plant at the Recommended Rate

Consult With Experts

After a plot has been limed and fertilized according to soil test recommendations, calibrate the seeder to be used, following the manufacturer’s instructions, so it will distribute the seed at the rate recommended by the seed producer. Far too many food plotters think that if a little seed will do good, many seeds will produce a bumper crop that will attract many deer. This is far from the truth. There is a healthy balance as to how many seeds should be planted per acre, and not following the recommendations of the seed producer is begging for trouble. Too few or too many seeds per acre can result in a poor-

Not many things these days are free but there is a tremendous amount of information to ensure your food plot success available free from the Whitetail Institute. Everything from A-Z is available at whitetailinstitute.com but if you prefer to talk to someone, the Whitetail Institute has professional consultants available who can answer all your questions. They are available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST Monday through Friday. Their number is 800-688-3030 and the call and service are free. Follow their recommendations, and your food plots will reflect it. This is the best free advice you will ever get. ^

Seeds — Know What You are Buying


/ Vol. 25, No. 2


Whitetail Institute RECORD BOOK BUCKS…

Eric Wagler – Indiana My wife and I purchased a 50acre tract of all woods two years ago that had been heavily logged and was grown up with heavy cover. It was perfect for deep habitat, although it was so thick it made it nearly impossible to hunt. After clearing close to an acre of briars and tree tops in the center of the property and spreading lime and fertilizer, we planted Imperial Whitetail Clover. I knew by the size of the trees that were ravaged on the farm that a large buck was in the area, and it wasn’t long before I was getting trail camera pictures of the big 12-pointer coming into the plot several times a day and throughout the night. This went on all summer, so I felt he was definitely bedding close to the plot, and I couldn’t wait for the season to start. It was hard waiting for the right wind, but I finally got it on Oct. 9. I got to the stand early on the warm day and hadn’t seen anything until the big buck stepped from the heavy cover and immediately began grazing in the lush clover. After a 60-yard shot from my crossbow and only a 75-yard tracking job I was standing over the deer of my dreams! The perfect 12-point had a 211/2-inch inside spread and scored 172 inches. Thanks Whitetail Institute for a product this deer could not resist!

Luke Wolf – Iowa Here’s a picture of my buck from last season. He scored 174. (Photo 1) He would feed at noon on a food plot mixed with Pure Attraction and Winter Peas Plus. I shot him on Oct. 14 an hour and a half before dark. That afternoon, my ATV broke down on the way to the stand I planned

Austin Frees – Kansas Kraze does it again! Eleven point I shot and 10-point my dad shot during rifle season.

to hunt, so I decided to hunt a closer stand. I wasn’t in the stand a half hour when he came walking through. I made the 33-yard shot and he didn’t go 150 yards before expiring. I couldn’t believe how big he was. Trail cam pictures didn’t do him justice. He put on 25 inches from the previous year. I shot a big 8-point the year before on an Alfa-Rack plot, too. He scored just shy of 150. (Photo 2) Also, my best friend shot a double drop-tine buck over the same Alfa-Rack plot this year. He scored 173. Needless to say we love Whitetail Institute products!


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J. David Bess – Illinois

Jared Sack – Ohio

Here is a picture of a big mature southern Illinois buck I harvested on Nov. 2 while hunting over a plot of Tall Tine Tubers. We were amazed at the growth of the Tall Tine Tubers even after minimal rain. After a few good rains, the tubers really took off big-time. This plot was pulling and holding deer like nothing we have ever used before. They literally could not stay off of it and our cameras supported that. On the afternoon of Nov. 2, I was in a 20-foot ladder stand in the timber about 70 yards off the Tall Tine Tuber plot overlooking it. I saw over 20 deer in less than an hour and then about 5 p.m. (day before time change), I spotted this big body mature buck standing in the middle of the plot just gorging himself. In fact, he was so interested in eating the tubers I had a difficult time getting his interest. After numerous grunts and no luck, I finally got him to the tree with a doe bleat and put an arrow in him at 25 yards just before dusk. One G2 is 15 inches. Gross score 144 4/8 P&Y. The deer have eaten all the green leaves, and they are now digging the bulbs up and eating them. We are true believers in Tall Tine Tubers and we also plant Imperial Whitetail Clover. Just thought you may want to hear how great the Whitetail Institute products work for us. Thanks!

I started using Whitetail Institute products five years ago. I am located in northeast Ohio, where crops of corn and soybeans are readily available. My idea behind planting food plots started with a 2-acre plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover and an 1-1/2-acre plot of Alfa-Rack Plus. I have found that with fertilizer and herbicides these seeds flourish and grow plentiful. I have used other products prior and never had the success that I’ve had with Whitetail Institute products. With a little bit of care, you will have great plots for years to come. Within three years of planting plots I was holding and growing larger deer on just a 30 acre parcel. While having trail cameras and scouting from a distance, I have been able to watch button bucks grow into Pope and Young deer within two years and stay around the property because of Whitetail Institute products. In early November last season, I harvested this 11-point that was 24-1/2 inches inside and scored 164 1/8 with my bow. One month later during the opening day of gun season, I was able to set my grandfather (who is 79 years old) in the same stand from where I shot my buck, and he harvested his largest deer to date; this 10point that scored 140. These are just a couple of examples of the deer harvested due to Whitetail Institute products. Thank you Whitetail Institute for making such great products that helped me create an everlasting memory for me and my grandfather. ^

Brian Pusch – Kentucky Some friends invited me to hunt their property in Kentucky. After they showed me some trail camera pictures, I took them up on the offer. I had my mind set on one particular 150-inch 10-point. After a week of hunting he made an appearance at last light, and I glanced an arrow off of his back. The following year, I went back in September. The last night I was there, I missed a 140-inch 8-point at 50 yards. By this time, I was ready to puke and swore I was cursed in Kentucky, I had never missed two bucks in a row. By October, the big 10 from the year before showed up on a trail camera again! I went back in December looking for him. The night I was pulling into town, my good friend who owns the property had his first encounter in three years with him and missed him at 18 yards in a Tall Tine Tuber plot. Two days later, I had the right wind to hunt that same stand, and again at last light he showed up in the Tall Tine Tubers. I sealed the deal at under 20 yards on Christmas Eve! Best Christmas present of my life! Net score is 172 1/8 and gross is in the 180s. This is my largest whitetail to date. Looking back, it’s good I missed the same 150s 10-point the year before and it’s good I missed the Big 8 in September. Thanks Whitetail Institute for your products! I also have to thank my two great friends in Kentucky, Tony and Ryan! Ryan plants a lot of Whitetail Institute products with great success!

Send Us Your Photos!

Do you have photos 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. Email your digital photos and a 3 to 4 paragraph story telling how you harvested the deer and the role our products played to info@whitetailinstitute.com or send them to:

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

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Vol. 25, No. 2 /


Whitetail Oats Plus: More Than Just a Great Food Plot By William Cousins f you have used Whitetail Oats Plus, you know it makes a great food plot all by itself. In my own food plots, I have found a couple other ways Whitetail Oats Plus can be used to enhance your food plots and benefit your deer and wildlife. When planting my Whitetail Institute perennial legume food plots, like Imperial Clover or Alfa Rack, I use Whitetail Oats Plus as both a nurse crop for the food plot itself and as a soft edge around the food plot. The other nice benefit the Whitetail Oats Plus offers is a safety net. If moisture arrives late in the fall, your plot will still provide good forage, because the oats will jump out of the ground very quickly giving you something to hunt over almost immediately.

out of the ground quickly. This will draw the deer to the plot as it will likely be some of the only fresh grazing available due to the recent lack of moisture. Your newly seeded food plot will still serve as a great area to hunt over, even though it is not fully established. Finally, there is another benefit of using Whitetail Oats Plus as a nurse crop for your perennial food plot. The developing plants in Whitetail Oats Plus will provide some nice, tasty food for animals which will reduce their grazing pressure on the underlying, developing legumes. If you have ever used a cage (grazing gauge) in your perennial food plots to observe plant development without feeding pressure, you know there is a lot of nibbling going on while the plants are trying to get growing. Using Whitetail Oats Plus as a nurse crop gives the developing perennial food plot some early grazing protection during this critical growth period. Planting and managing your perennial food plot using Whitetail Oats Plus as a Nurse Crop. Preparation of the planting site is no different when using a nurse crop. The soil needs to be tested and lime added, as needed, according to the soil test. When you send off your soil test, ask for the recommendations for the perennial plot, not

Area B

Area A

Whitetail Oats Plus as a Nurse Crop What is a Nurse Crop? A nurse crop is basically a fast-growing, secondary crop, Whitetail Oats Plus, which is planted with the primary, Imperial Clover or Alfa Rack, crop in the same seedbed to protect the primary crop while it establishes. While all Whitetail Institute food plot seed components are evaluated for rapid germination and emergence, some species just naturally germinate and emerge more quickly than others. Whitetail Oats Plus germinates and emerges very quickly. The roots of the plants in Whitetail Oats Plus are fibrous and they hold the soil in place. The rapid emergence of the Whitetail Oats Plus plants creates a microenvironment near the soil surface that helps reduce evaporation of moisture from the soil by creating an environment of higher humidity near the soil surface. This microenvironment, coupled with the water holding benefits of RAINBOND on Imperial Whitetail Clover and Alfa Rack seed, really improve the chances of successfully establishing your perennial food plot. The rapid emergence of Whitetail Oats Plus also helps reduce competition from undesirable weeds. There are a couple other nontraditional benefits of using Whitetail Oats Plus as a nurse crop for your perennial food plot. As mentioned in the opening, delayed emergence of the food plot due to moisture arriving late in the fall is not the disaster it might be. When the rain comes, the Whitetail Oats Plus nurse crop will jump


/ Vol. 25, No. 2




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the Whitetail Oats Plus. The initial fertilizer that you apply to the soil, including some nitrogen, will be more than enough for the nurse crop to get started. As the legumes develop, they will provide additional nitrogen to the Whitetail Oats Plus in a few Photo C weeks so that no additional nitrogen is required. As with other food plots, kill and remove all the weeds that you can and prepare as good a seed bed as possible. The seeding rate for Whitetail Oats Plus as a nurse crop is 1/4 to 1/3 the normal seeding rate which means you should use 23 to 30 pounds per acre. When Whitetail Oats Plus is used alone the seeding rate is 90 pounds per acre. This is important because too heavy a seeding rate for the nurse crop can create too much competition for the perennial legume plot developing underneath. First spread the 23 to 30 pounds per acre of Whitetail Oats Plus evenly over your food plot. After seeding the Whitetail Oats Plus, drag over them lightly to cover the seeds with a small amount of soil. Next, apply a full rate of your Whitetail Institute perennial food plot seed. Do not cover this perennial seed after planting, but if you have a cultipacker or other rolling device, this is the time to firm the seed bed ensuring good seed to soil contact. If you do not have a cultipacker, you could increase the seeding rate of the perennial food plot seed a bit and let Mother Nature take care of the rest. The Whitetail Oats Plus will emerge quickly and soon afterwards you will start to see the perennial legumes start to emerge. After some time passes, you will need to decide how to handle the nurse crop of Whitetail Oats Plus: Remove it: mechanically or with a herbicide, or leave it. In my plots, I usually remove the Whitetail Oats Plus by using Whitetail’s ARREST Max grass herbicide or mowing. In the picture on the previous page, Area A has had the Whitetail Oats Plus nurse crop removed by spraying Arrest Max and then mowing several weeks later revealing a great stand of Imperial Clover actively growing. Area B has been sprayed with ARREST Max herbicide and you can see the plants melting down. As the clover grows up through the dying nurse crop, it uses the Whitetail Oats Plus as a support which is shown in Photo C.

Photo D shows another plot that was sprayed with Arrest Max and the Whitetail Oats Plus were just left to melt down. Regardless of how you handle the nurse crop, Whitetail Oats Plus will improve establishment and productivity of your perennial food plot. I have successfully used all three methods and hope you will consider trying Whitetail Whitetail Oats Plus as a nurse crop the next time you plant a Whitetail perennial food plot.

Whitetail Oats Plus as a Soft Edge You may have noticed in the picture on page 34 around Area A, there is a green, actively growing border to the food plot near the tree line. This is what I call the “soft edge” that is planted with Whitetail Oats Plus. Over the years, I’ve found that planting a soft edge of Whitetail Oats Plus just outside the border of my fall perennial plots provides a huge benefit to a host of wildlife as both a food source and cover. The soft edge creates an excellent nesting habitat for turkeys and other upland birds as well as a great hiding place for fawns and turkey polts. If you elect to plant a soft edge of Whitetail Whitetail Oats Plus around your perennial plots this fall, just allow them to grow through spring and into early summer. This provides some extra hiding places and time for fawns and young turkeys to develop the size and skill needed to avoid predation. If possible, manage the soft edge like you would a straight planting of Whitetail Oats Plus by throwing on a little additional fertilizer about 6 weeks after the Whitetail Oats Plus emerges. Planting a soft edge with Whitetail Oats Plus has been a great success for the wildlife that live near and utilize my food plots and has, I feel, significantly improved the quantity and quality of animals in the area. I feel confident that you will experience the same kind of results by including a soft edge in your own food plots. Following is an overview of the management involved using Whitetail Whitetail Oats Plus as a nurse crop and a soft edge. Good planting! •

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Photo D • • •

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Test the soil prior to planting using the perennial crop, Imperial Whitetail Clover or Alfa Rack as the basis for the soil test. You can get a soil test kit from The Whitetail Institute 800-688-3030. Adjust the soil pH with lime according to the soil test recommendations. Prepare the best seedbed that you can by removing as many of the weeds and grasses from the plot as possible by thorough disking or tilling. For the nurse crop, plant the Whitetail Oats Plus at 1/4 to 1/3 the normal rate or no more than 30 pounds per acre. For the soft edge plant at the full rate, 90 pounds per acre or close. Apply your fertilizer at the recommended rate. Once the Whitetail Oats Plus seed are spread, drag the plot to very lightly cover the oats with soil. Spread your Whitetail perennial food plot seed over the area at a full rate. DO NOT drag the plot again. Cultipack the food plot area to get good seed-to-soil contact if appropriate. In the spring when the Whitetail Institute perennial plants become well established, remove the Whitetail Oats Plus nurse crop. Removal of the nurse crop can be achieved with mowing or spraying with ARREST Max herbicide. Leave the soft edge at least until the turkeys are finished nesting. Enjoy watching your deer and other wildlife grow. Then have a great hunt! ^ www.whitetailinstitute.com

Don’t Clean the Table – Try Multi-Cropping By Jeremy Flinn, Professional Wildlife Biologist Photos by the Author

he wind blew through the lush, green field, making it look like waves rolling onto a beach. The soybeans and lablab were waist high and sorghum head high. As the sun sank into the horizon, the field began to fill up with deer. With barely enough light to see, velvet-racked giants slipped out of the woods and into the highprotein-producing PowerPlant field. Such scenes are common across whitetail country. For most deer hunters and managers, a plot such as PowerPlant earns its keep during summer, and then attention turns to fall annual mixes. Often, we turn under our spring/summer plantings in late summer or early fall to sow fall plots. However, when we do this, we might be losing some incredibly attractive plots and valuable nutrition, especially in the late season. Our strategy should be to not clean the table. Instead, consider double-cropping.

Summer to Fall As summer transitions to fall, deer and their surroundings go through dramatic changes. Lush, green, summer agriculture fields have transitioned to brown and soon will fall to combines. Bachelor groups of velvet-racked bucks have split up and are hardened-out, solo soldiers. It won’t be long until acorns begin to rain down. Throughout this time your PowerPlant plots can continue to attract deer to your hunting land and continue to produce them high-quality nutrition. But at this time we also need to prepare and plant food plots for fall and winter. That’s where double-cropping comes into play. When fall planting arrives, you have a choice: Work the entire plot under and replant if it is eaten down to nothing, or work part of it under and leave the rest standing. Both have their advantages, particularly as you transition into preparing your plots for hunting season.

Fall to Winter

to finding doe feeding areas during the rut to late season, food will always lead you to deer. Why? Deer do two things: eat and breed. It’s that simple. Early in the season, just before acorns really start pouring down, summer annuals such as Imperial PowerPlant left standing and/or new fall plots such as Pure Attraction, Whitetail Oats Plus, No-Plow and many other Whitetail Institute products are very attractive to deer. As the acorns begin to take over a deer’s attention, fall annuals, which are also peaking in attractiveness, will be the most beneficial plantings. As winter begins to creep in and deer demand more energy for rut recovery in the North and peak rut activity in the South, their precious acorns are drying up. Late season is when high-quality fall annuals such as Tall Tine Tubers, WinterGreens, Pure Attraction, etc. can provide an attractive and nutritious food plot for late-season hunting and deer body conditioning.

Triple Cropping with Perennials As crazy as it might seem, this is actually my favorite food plot strategy. By definition, it's triple-cropping, though not usually all in the same year. Having perennials such as Imperial Whitetail Clover on your property is critical. In fact, I recommend at least 40 percent of the food plots on a property consist of perennial plantings. These triple-cropped plantings usually need to be in a field of at least three acres. One-third will be planted in a perennial food plot, and the other two-thirds will be part of the double-crop strategy. In summer, you might have PowerPlant for the entire two-thirds and then disc it under and plant a fall annual such as Whitetail Oats Plus. Or you might keep one-third of the plot standing in a summer annual and plant the balance in your fall planting. Either way, it’s a foolproof way to prevent a clean table. The perennial can produce quality food all year, and the annuals produce high peaks in total production at various times of year. This may not be a strategy for all your food plots, but consider it for any place you want to lay out a true buffet. Food plotting can be as simple as throwing out some No-Plow, Secret Spot or BowStand, or as complex as triple-cropping Imperial Clover, PowerPlant and Pure Attraction. It depends on your overall management and hunting strategy. But in the end, take advantage of all the planting space you have, try not to ‘clean the table’ and consider multiple plantings this year. ^

As hunting season kicks in across the country and days begin to shorten, food sources become critical. From patterning pre-rut bucks For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

Vol. 25, No. 2 /


Avoid the

One-And-Done Syndrome By Scott Bestul Photo by Dustin Reid


/ Vol. 25, No. 2


f we gave such an award, this would have been our undisputed food plot rookie of the year. The Pine Tree Plot (imaginatively named because there was a towering white pine nearby) was a landing left by loggers one winter. That spring, my hunting buddy Alan cleaned up the debris with a skid loader and then worked the plot with a disc. When we planted the spot to Pure Attraction in early August, the Pine Tree Plot turned into a veritable Garden of Eden, the plants were so lush and green, it was fun to just walk back there and stare. I was enthusiastic, but the deer were insane. They started hitting the plot the first week of September, and they never stopped until they’d eaten almost everything to the ground in March. That fall, Alan saw two shooter bucks — one that came to rattling — from the stand we hung on the plot’s edge. Another hunting buddy passed a pair of almost-mature 8-points there in late November. But the Pine Tree’s crowning moment came when my 83-year-old dad arrowed the biggest buck of his life — a tall-racked buck we’d named “Crab Claw” — there the last week of October.

Hunt it Right It’s irresistible, of course. The new plot goes in. The trail cams light up. And the sign starts; first the unmistakable feeding activity, then the trails get pounded into the corners of your little field, followed by rubs and scrapes that make your heart beat a little faster every time you spot a new one. Whitetails are hitting your plots like geese pitching into a cut corn field, so your brain screams, “Hunt right here! Hunt right now!” And of course, you’d be an idiot not to. Of course, if you’re a thinking hunter, you take all the necessary precautions. You only hunt the plot when the wind is right, and if you’re really energetic, you erect several stands to deal with differing wind directions. You carve covert entry and exit trails that allow you to come and go without busting deer. If you truly bring your A-game, you refuse to overhunt the plot, visiting it once a week at the most (unless the rut is really rocking, in which case I have no advice except to just follow your gut on timing and frequency) and, in some cases, barely at all. One of my most killer plots never gets hunted until the December archery season, when 60 percent of the season is gone. But one of the best ways to keep a plot hot — and in most cases, kill the best buck hitting it — is to simply back your stands off the plot. Regardless of how careful we are, our hunting efforts are almost always noticed by whitetails. We think we sneak out without busting a deer, but an old nanny doe is back in the cover, watching (or hearing) us leave. We leave scent trails to and from the stands that are discovered by deer hours after we’re gone. And let’s face it: Most mature bucks simply don’t like to poke their noses into open areas during daylight, regardless of how tempting and tasty the treats growing there are. Indeed, although every mature buck using your property knows the exact location of every plot you plant and probably how many does are using it, he’s rarely going to pop in there during daylight. But he’s often moving near and around the plot, and a stand placed off the plot edge near hot buck sign can be one of the deadliest traps going. One of my consistently successful hunting buds has killed some dandy bucks on stands placed on the downwind side of the plot. The prevailing wind in the Midwest for November is from the west/northwest, so my friend scouts the timber south and east of a plot until he finds fresh rubs and scrapes. The bucks he kills are using the wind to scent-check the plot for feeding does instead of plunging into the open feeding area and possibly risking danger.

The One-and-Done Phenomenon Farm it Smart If you have some food plot experience, you can probably predict what happened after the Pine Tree Plot’s Cinderella season. Though deer certainly used the plot the next fall, the action there was a fraction of what we’d experienced the previous autumn. Does continued to visit the plot, though not in the numbers they had before. Bucks appeared at the Pine Tree, but only in the first and last slivers of light, and mature bucks only rarely. I’ve planted enough food plots, and talked to enough veterans who’ve done the same, that I recognize that the sophomore season of a food plot is rarely as good as that rookie year. Although some of that decreased attention is natural — whitetails are, after all, extremely fickle in their attraction to food sources and are always looking for the next best thing — much of it could have been avoided. Here then are some ways to keep food plots attractive to deer for multiple seasons and enjoy excellent action for as long as you maintain them.

One of the most common and understandable traps to fall into when a food plot has an amazing year is simply relaxing. Think about this: You put a ton of time, effort and expense into constructing and planting the plot. Then it produces a wonderful crop, which the deer relish. With all the other work that goes into being a successful hunter/manager, the easiest thing in the world to do is think, “Well, I’ve got that place under control. Time for other projects.” If you’ve spent much time reading Whitetail News, you should know that keeping a food plot in good shape requires attention. You must apply lime and fertilizer when needed to maintain proper soil health, and, of course, weed control is usually a continuing concern. One of the plots I hunt grows a fantastic crop of deer food every year. It is also a magnet for burdock like no other place I’ve seen. I’ve devoted hours of merciless effort the past four summers to what I’ve grimly nicknamed “The

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Vol. 25, No. 2 /


Burdock War,” and though I’m confident of victory, I have not been able to let up for a second on that place. Finally — and this is another topic covered extensively in Whitetail News — it’s important to rotate your crop. Planting any food plot seed year after year in the same dirt can lead to all sorts of bad things, including diminished soil health and lower plant productivity. If deer are hammering that first year or two of brassica plantings, the temptation to keep going with them will be great, but do yourself and your plots a favor by rotating in a new crop offering at least every two years.

across the property. So many times when a food plot goes dead, we scratch our heads and wonder why deer aren’t as excited about it as we are. Assuming you’ve followed the steps mentioned, it’s probably a good time to take a long, hard look at the habitat surrounding that plot. Nothing in nature stays the same, and that tenet holds true even for forests. The young, vibrant stand of trees that once attracted whitetails is going to mature, and mature forests generally offer little attraction for deer. If you don’t know the right steps to take to maintain a balance of young growth on your property (hint: it’s probably going to involve a chainsaw), consult with a habitat manager to make your forest a comfy place for whitetails.

Work the Habitat


Another of the easiest traps for a food plotter to fall into is tunnel vision — the belief that planting a green field is all it takes to attract and hold whitetails on a property. The habitat that surrounds any food plot is just as — if not more — important than the food source itself. That cover should provide browse and other food sources that will keep deer visiting the area when they’re not hitting your food plot, but even more important, it should make deer feel safe and secure. Never forget that deer are a prey species. From the time they wore spots, they were worried about getting eaten by every predator with teeth and claws. Dense cover is how they escape those predators (well, that and being able to run like heck) and having brush, saplings and blowdowns nearby just makes dining a safer proposition. Think about it this way: Would you rather eat in a good restaurant in a safe neighborhood or an excellent restaurant in a place where you feared for your life? I know I’d pick the former every time. The key to this is a sound forest management plan that maximizes whitetail habitat

There’s no question that food plots are a deadly place to ambush a trophy buck. I’ve had tremendous success on many of the plots I’ve planted, and without a doubt, the first year is one of the best times to see how a properly established plot can attract deer and provide hunting opportunity. The challenge is keeping that plot producing as well as it did on its maiden voyage. This past fall, I was having a tough time getting on bucks. The rut was in full swing, yet some of my best stand sites simply weren’t producing. So on a cool November evening, I headed for the Pine Tree Plot. I didn’t fill my tag that evening, but I saw three great bucks and had a fantastic hunt. By following some of the steps outlined above, we’d managed to keep a plot in its third season producing like it had during its first — and best — year. ^


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

Your all-inclusive Trophy Bass Retreat package includes: • • • • •

3 nights lodging • 2 full days of fishing • Airport pickup All meals provided with relaxed family-style dinners Comfortable accommodations with private baths • Boats available or bring your own Two miles of private, scenic jogging road • Secluded pool Lodge area with large fireplace and big screen TV • And many other amenities

Bookings: All lodging is based on double occupancy with private baths. Booking and fishing is in pairs only. There is a maximum of eight guests. Booking groups of four in the Presidents Guest Cabin is a recipe for fun and fellowship. Bass is good business: The guest cabin for four — or the whole facility for eight — is perfect for incentive and reward trips or tax-deductible corporate team building. Be sure to inquire about the limited number of Ray Scott’s trademark marketing seminars, “From a Fishing Hole to a Pot of Gold” personally conducted after fishing hours by the Bass Boss himself. Or call to book the whole lodge and customize your own tax-deductible marketing and motivational agenda with Ray.

Named “Best Bass Lake” in America by “Outdoor Life” Magazine

Call 800-518-7222

Availability is very limited. Bookings on first-come, first-served basis.



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Visit us on the web at


Imperial Whitetail


Unique product stands the test of time ou’d have to be one of the Whitetail Institute’s first customers to remember when Imperial Whitetail No-Plow was introduced. It’s the second longest-running Whitetail Institute food plot product, right behind Imperial Whitetail Clover. Like human siblings, No-Plow has a lot in common with its big brother, yet it’s also unique. In No-Plow’s case, the combination of varieties makes it one of the most versatile food plot plantings of all time. That’s why No-Plow is one of the Whitetail Institute’s longest-running products: It’s the result of the Whitetail Institute’s customer-driven approach. Meeting customer needs has been the driving force behind the development of such industry-leading products as Imperial Whitetail Clover, Imperial Whitetail Extreme, Tall Tine Tubers and the rest of the Whitetail Institute’s product line. The specific need that prompted the Whitetail Institute to develop No-Plow was a dilemma hunters have faced since they’ve planted food plots for deer: what to plant at a site that can’t be accessed with tillage equipment. That’s why the Whitetail Institute started working to meet that need so early in its history. It would have been easy for the Whitetail Institute to come up with a product that could be planted without tillage — if that had been the Whitetail Institute’s only focus. It wasn’t. As is still the case today, the company’s focus in those early days was to develop forage products that would excel in a broad range of performance categories specifi-


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cally related to food plots for deer. Certainly, the no-till aspect was critical, but the overriding research goal was something else: attractiveness to deer. Without that, the product would be doomed from the outset and would never make it to Whitetail Institute product status. Other research goals included rapid stand establishment; early seedling vigor; drought and heat tolerance; the ability to perform well from early fall through the coldest months of the year, and even into the spring; and, yes, the capability to thrive even when planted with minimal ground preparation. As originally designed, No-Plow consisted of three types of forages: brassicas, forage grasses and annual clovers. Those component groups made up No- Plow when it was introduced, and they have remained so even as the Whitetail Institute has continued to improve the varieties of seed in No-Plow through the years. The reason is simple: This structure works and has helped No-Plow maintain its dominant place in the market. All the components establish and grow quickly, often appearing above ground just a few days after planting, and attract deer right away. Usually, deer tend to concentrate on the forage grasses first and then the clovers. When the first frosts of fall arrive, the brassicas in No-Plow become even sweeter and continue to attract and hold deer into the coldest months. In the spring, the annual clovers continue to provide much-needed nutrition for deer as they recover their winter health losses and bucks begin to regrow antlers. As mentioned, even with the huge success No-Plow has enjoyed, the Whitetail Institute continues to test new potential forage components for No-Plow, just as it does with all its products. In the case of No-Plow, the newest variety of seed introduced into the blend is a specially selected radish that complements the other forage types. The radishes in No-Plow serve specific functions by acting as a nurse crop as the other forages develop and serve as an additional late-season food source. The radishes also help reduce soil compaction, as their roots are thick, leaving space in the soil as they are eaten or as they break down as the planting completes its life span. No-Plow can tolerate as little as three to four hours of broken, filtered or indirect sunlight a day. It can also thrive in a wide variety of soil types, and it can be planted with minimal ground tillage or in a fully prepared seedbed. No-Plow is available in 9-pound bags that plant 1/2 acre and 25-pound bags that plant 1-1/2 acres. For more information on No-Plow, go to whitetailinstitute.com, or call the Whitetail Institute at (800) 688-3030. ^ www.whitetailinstitute.com



Call for planting dates

Apr 1 - July 1 Apr 15 - June 15 Aug 1 - Sept 1 Coastal: Feb 1 - Mar 15 Sept 1 - Oct 15 Southern Piedmont: Feb 15 - Apr 1 Aug 15 - Oct 1 Mountain Valleys: Mar 1 - Apr 15 Aug 1 - Sept 15 Feb 1 - Apr 1 Aug 1 - Sept 30 Feb 1 - Apr 15 Sept 1 - Nov 1

North: Mar 15 - May 1 Aug 1 - Sept 15 South: Mar 1 - Apr 15 Aug 15 - Oct 15

Apr 1 - June 15 July 15 - Sept 5

Apr 1 - May 15 Aug 1 - Sept 15

Mar 20 - May 15 Aug 1 - Sept 15

Sept 15 - Nov 15

Feb 5 - Mar 1 North: Sept 5 - Nov 15 South: Sept 25 - Nov 15 Feb 15 - Apr 1 Sept 1 - Oct 30 North: Sept 15 - Nov 15 South: Sept 25 - Nov 15

  21  22

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


Call for planting dates Call for planting dates Aug 1 - Sept 15 Coastal: Sept 1 - Oct 15 Piedmont: Aug 15 - Oct 1 Mountain Valleys: Aug 1 - Sept 15 Aug 1 - Sept 30


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

Aug 15 - Nov 1


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

    21  22

Aug 20 - Sept 30 July 1 - Aug 15 June 15 - July 15 July 15 - Aug 31 July 1 - Aug 15

North: Sept 25 - Nov 25 South: Oct 5 - Nov 30


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

July 15 - Sept 30 Aug 1 - Oct 1 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

     21  22

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

Use the map below as a guideline for when to plant Imperial Whitetail Oats Plus in your area. For best results, wait to plant until excessively hot, droughty summer weather has passed. Imperial Whitetail Oats Plus is highly cold-tolerant and designed to provide abundant forage from fall into spring in the southern U.S. and from fall into winter in colder climates


Aug 1 - Sept 15



* 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.

*Do not plant PowerPlant until soil temperatures reach a constant 65 degrees F. Wait as long as necessary for soil temperatures to reach a constant 65 degrees F before planting PowerPlant.

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

Aug 15 - Sept 15

Sept 1 - Oct 1

Sept 1 - Oct 20


Do not plant PowerPlant in black areas.


May 20 - June 30 April 1 - May 31

Vol. 25, No. 2 /


May 1 - June 30 June 20 - July 31*


REAL HUNTERS DO THE TALKING about Whitetail Institute products…



or over a decade, we have used a lot of Whitetail Institute products, including Imperial Whitetail Clover, Extreme, Winter-Greens, Whitetail Oats Plus, Pure Attraction, and Winter Peas Plus in many of our favorite hunting food plots. My whole family hunts our family farmland, which consists of 260 acres. About 10 acres consists of Whitetail Institute food plot products. Ever since we started using Whitetail Institute products, our buck and doe activity has greatly increased. My stand looks over Imperial Whitetail Clover, Winter-Greens, Tall Tine Tubers and Winter Peas Plus. After analyzing my logbook from the past years, these products have definitely drawn in more deer on our land. This year we harvested our biggest management doe ever taken off our land. It weighed 175 pounds! This year we put in a test plot of the Winter Peas Plus, and the deer devoured it! The Tall Tine Tubers grew so huge! They stick out well above the ground and snow. The deer already have taken large bites out of them. It also provides food for them throughout the winter and makes for good shed hunting! I like having a variety of products planted in my food plots so when the weather changes and their appetite switches, I have the right food right out in front of me to draw them in. All of these products have given us rewarding results after each hunting season. I have enclosed a picture. I recommend your products every deer season to all of my hunting friends! Every year I look forward to planting food plots and watching the antler growth of my deer herd.

Katie Eastman – New York


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fter three consecutive seasons of food plot work (soil test, lime, fertilizer) and planting an oat product from another company, I decided to do something different this season, as I have not been pleased with utilization of my food plots by deer. This year I purchased and planted Imperial Whitetail Clover. Result — a very thick stand and unbelievable deer usage. I hunt in the pine hills of north Louisiana and generally daylight usage of food plots is very limited. This season, I have seen and captured many daylight photos of mature (4-plus age) bucks. The highlight was the harvest of a 152-inch 10-point by one of my hunting partners in one of my clover plots. This buck was a club record for us. I truly believe the planting of Imperial Whitetail Clover has made a big impact on my food plots with the harvest of two additional mature bucks and numerous does.

Josh Rogers – Louisiana


y cousin and I have been using Whitetail Institute products for the last six years. We hunt on a 280-acre farm with both agriculture fields and hardwood forests. We have two plots of Imperial Whitetail Clover, two plots of Edge, one plot of Chicory Plus, one plot of Extreme, and we use Winter-Greens as our annual and the deer just love all of them. We also have two 30-06 lick sites on the farm. Before using Whitetail Institute products the deer on our farm would average in the 120

 to 130 class. Now, after using these products the deer are averaging in the 150 to 160 class. The overall health of the deer is much better with bigger and healthier fawns being born. This just shows what can be achieved with proper deer management and great products from Whitetail Institute. Attached is a trail cam photo (1) of a 158 inch 10 point on his way to a Chicory Plus plot. My nephew Nick was lucky enough to harvest this buck last fall. Also enclosed is a photo (2) of that deer mounted.

Rob Costin – Indiana



t used to be that we did not even see big bucks. Photos (1 & 2) show what we used to shoot. But since we started using Whitetail Institute products (Imperial Whitetail Clover, Chicory Plus, Tall Tine Tubers, No-Plow and 30-06 Minerals), we have been steadily seeing more and bigger bucks with more mass every year. My granddaughter has been hunting four years and every year keeps shooting bigger and bigger bucks. My son, Jeremy, shot a 140-inch bow kill (photo 3) three years after we started Whitetail Institute plots. For myself, I have been seeing more and healthier deer, bucks, does, fawns. My granddaughter, Amanda, shot the beautiful buck in Photo 4. This photo shows why we do what we do.

Edward Kosal – Michigan


e started planting PowerPlant in the spring two years ago and Pure Attraction that fall. Prior to this we were planting regular clover, oats and rye with fair results. We were harvesting a few bucks in the 120s and 130s. This fall was great. We have harvested several deer in the 140 and 150 class. If this is not a testimony to Whitetail Institute products, then we can’t explain it. My members are hooked and we will continue to use Whitetail Institute products and expand our spring and fall planting regiments. I would suggest to anyone if you are going to take the effort to establish food plots use Whitetail Institute products. The deer will come and they will feast.

Oscar Dubose – Texas


am 10 years old and have been hunting since I was five years old. We have 169 acres that is just for wildlife. We have seven different food plots and we use Imperial Whitetail Clover, Winter-Greens, Pure Attraction and many other Whitetail Institute products. One cold day in November, my dad and I were hunting and a 140-inch 10-point buck and three does came to a food plot with Pure Attraction. The deer started eating, and I took a shot and harvested that buck. We have been using Whitetail Institute products now for three years and we see a great difference in the amount of deer that come to our farm. Thank you so much Whitetail Institute and we will never use any other product.

Jimmy Carter – Ohio

(Continued on page 73) For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

Vol. 25, No. 2 /


How to Kill Big Bucks: FIRST, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ONE TO SHOOT By Matt Harper Photos by the Author

ave you ever watched a hunting show or read a hunting article and thought, “How does this guy kill so many big bucks?” Often, that hunter spent hours or days pre-scouting for tree stand locations and decoding the intricate puzzle of scrapes, rubs, bedding cover and food sources and how they influence monster whitetails. That doesn’t even take into consideration scent control, trail cameras, wind direction, stand entry and exit routes and other factors.

You might think, “Man, these guys are experts; woodsmen of the highest mark. I bet they just live in the woods, covered in leaves and mud, watching every move and habit of the monarch bucks.” Well, some hunters have nearly supernatural skill, and I've known a few such folks. But sometimes, the stories can be embellished a bit. Here’s an example from one of my hunts that ended with me taking a monster buck: Several years ago, the morning of Nov. 3 broke cold and calm, with temperatures dipping below 10 degrees. The rut had arrived, and deer were moving, so I waited for first light to stealthily sneak to my stand via a dry creek bed that provided a sunken, brush-covered path. (Truth: It was extremely cold that morning, and finding myself in a

Eighty acres of my farm has thick cedars providing winter cover. This buck moved in at three years old and lived there for the next two years. He scored 193.


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knowledge, work and skill. Still, you can do loads of homework on patterning a trophy whitetail and do everything right, but the buck must get within shooting range, and they’re not always on the same script as you. However, there is one thing that will definitely guarantee you won’t shoot a monster buck — if there is not one on the property you're hunting. I’ve been blessed to shoot my fair share of big bucks, and the best way to kill them is to make sure they want to call your property home.

This buck lived to be old and big in the 80 acres of thick brush on part of our farm. He scored 178 as an 8-pointer.

Building the Right Home

warm bed with my gorgeous wife, I found it difficult to remove myself from that situation, so I was late getting out and almost didn’t go hunting.) Deer were everywhere, but I took my time and made it to my stand, only slightly alarming one old doe. As I slowly climbed up, I noticed another doe only 40 yards away. The tree was between us, so I dropped my climbing pace to that of a sloth and finally reached the stand without spooking her badly. (Truth: The doe 40 yards from my tree didn’t spook, but not because of my ninja-like climbing abilities. She was in heat. But I probably looked like a sloth — a really fat one — as I had on so many layers of clothes I could hardly move.) No sooner had I pulled my bow up when I heard the telltale sound of heavy footsteps crunching through the frozen corn stalks behind me. I peeked over my right shoulder, and a huge mature buck came into my peripheral vision. I knew I’d have to act quickly, as the buck was on a mission to meet up with the doe, still 40 yards away. Shedding my gloves to make a quick, accurate shot, I drew back, aimed at a spot behind the shoulder and released. The massive buck took two short bounds, wobbled and crashed to the frozen corn stalks. (Truth: The buck showed up as soon as I got in the stand, but the rope pull on my bow was frantic, with plenty of movement and branch banging. I took my gloves off, and both of them fell to the ground, clanging off the metal and crashing to the frozen leaves at the base of my tree. I drew back, found what looked like deer hide and yanked the trigger. The buck didn’t look like he was hit, so I shot again, missing him by at least three feet high. Fortunately, the first shot had found high lungs, and he dropped.) Luck always plays some role in hunting success. That being said, the amount on which you rely on luck can be greatly decreased with


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To have one or more shooter bucks on your hunting property, you must ensure that a buck can find life essentials there. The basics, of course, include food, water and cover. But to ensure that your property attracts and holds bucks, you must go beyond the basics and create a home where mature bucks want to live. In other words, other properties will likely have food, water and cover, but to make your property hot whitetail real estate, you must make these necessities more attractive than those on other properties. A buck must have access to the nutrients they require to survive. Further, the amount of food available will dictate the overall number of deer on your property. If your hunting property has little to no food, you will not have many deer on your property. To take this a step farther, deer survival is not your goal. Rather, you seek to have mature, trophy bucks inhabit your land. Although you might attract mature bucks, you must also grow mature bucks, which means you need the right nutrients to maximize antler and body growth. To reach your objective of holding, attracting and growing big bucks, the food sources on your property must have these characteristics: the right nutrients, year-round availability and high attractiveness. Whitetail bucks require many nutrients, including carbohydrates, protein, minerals, vitamins and fats and oils. To maximize buck potential, your land must meet specific nutrient requirements. For example, protein is vital to the growing antlers, so your property must have adequate levels of high-quality protein available for a buck to have the chance of reaching maximum growth. Further, minerals — specifically, the right minerals in the right amounts — must be abundant to ensure bucks can reach their potential. Your property might have food sources, but they might be low in protein, or the property's food supply might lack one or several minerals, thus creating a limitation. Bucks need food and the nutrients it provides not only during the antler-growing season but also the rest of the year. Specifically, bucks require energy for the cold winter months and extra protein during the pre-green-up period. They need food year-round. If food sources are not available, bucks will move to other properties to find chow, and although they might come back to your property, there's no guarantee. Further, you need year-round nutrition to maintain health and maintenance. Without it, antler growth will suffer. The Midwest provides a good example of the need for year-round nutrition. Yes, the region has abundant grain fields, but after they are harvested, the food supply stops. If you’re relying on agricultural grain fields for your food supply, you might want to consider an alternative plan, or you could lose that trophy buck to another property with yearround food. If a neighboring property has food supplies that are more attractive than those on your land, bucks will likely go to the most attractive food source. You simply need the restaurant with the best tasting food. Some food plot varieties are more attractive than others, and www.whitetailinstitute.com

some are more attractive at certain levels of maturation. Ultimately, you need highly attractive, nutrient-rich food sources that are available to deer every month of the year. If deer do not have water, they won't be on your property, or they will at least leave to find water at another property. But to take that a step farther, having easily accessible water supplies at multiple locations on your property will reduce the likelihood of deer wandering across the fence to the neighbor’s land. For example, if you have a large pond on your property but it's far from bedding cover or food, and if deer must expose themselves to reach it, bucks — especially mature bucks — are less likely to use that water source. Of course, if it’s the only water supply around, they will use it, but if there is a better one — maybe closer to thick bedding cover — they will prefer using that supply. If that water source isn’t on your property, bucks might move temporarily or permanently. That doesn’t mean a big pond is not a good thing, because it’s also important to have water when you experience drought. A deep, well-supplied pond will not only keep bucks at home but might make neighboring bucks venture onto your land when their water supplies run out. How many times have you heard someone say, “That old buck didn’t get old by being stupid.” I am not sure that old bucks are genetically “smarter” than bucks that were shot when they were younger, but for a buck to get old, he needs a place to hide. Properties with thick, abundant bedding and escape cover will always attract bucks. These properties will also let bucks grow old. Winter cover such as cedar or heavy brush thickets will hide bucks from four and twolegged predators and help protect them from harsh, cold conditions. But areas that are brushy but a bit more open, such as thinned timber, provide good warm-weather cover. They feature shade and some cover but are open enough to allow the breeze to pass through.

Girls, Girls, Girls Sixty to 90 days of the year, bucks forget about everything but does. We know bucks will travel to find estrous does, but recent research shows that if does are abundant in their home area, bucks will travel less. This seems to be especially true for mature bucks. A mature buck is typically more dominant and less likely to be forced by other bucks to search for estrous does at other properties. Also, bucks are vulnerable when they leave their home areas and more likely to be killed by a hunter. If your property has cover, water, food and plenty of does, a buck really has no reason to move too far, even during the rut. The good news is that managing for bucks is basically the same as managing for does in terms of food, cover and water. Obviously, does need water, but they also need high-quality, nutrient-rich food for gestation, lactation and body maintenance. They also need cover for self-protection and to raise fawns.

area, which might be off of your property. To avoid that, set up your field roads to go around critical bedding areas, not through them, and make sure your entry and exit routes to stands are not close to or certainly don't pass through bedding areas. Creating a sanctuary on your property will also help to avoid pressure, even if it’s just a few acres. Find the thickest, nastiest cover on the farm, and use those areas as sanctuaries. Don’t enter them unless it's absolutely necessary. This will give mature bucks bedding areas with no human pressure.

Let ’Em Grow This seems like it should go without saying, but unless you let young bucks grow to maturity, you will have few, if any mature bucks on your property. It might not be that difficult to pass a yearling or a twoyear-old, but when a buck hits three years old, it typically makes a pretty sizable jump in antler growth. Sometimes, it’s hard to judge these deer, especially if you’re just looking at headgear. It becomes even more difficult when a deer reaches four years old. Many folks set a goal of letting bucks reach four, but really, bucks don’t mature until they’re five. I’ve made that mistake, shooting a three- or fouryear-old when I paid too much attention to their antlers, not their body confirmation. Look closely at the body when judging to make sure a buck has mature characteristics. This will help the bucks on your property reach maturity.

Conclusion You can be the best trophy whitetail hunter, but unless you have a mature buck where you're hunting, you have no chance of getting one. It’s important to remember that a “trophy” is not necessarily based on antler score. In some areas, a 130-inch whitetail might be a mature buck and a trophy. In other places, 130 inches might be good for a two- or three-year-old. In my book, a trophy is a mature buck that reaches its full potential in that region. Also, you might think your property is too small to create a home for mature bucks. Even if you have 40 acres, you should do all you can to make it the best 40 acres of buck habitat in the area. Bucks might not stay on that 40 acres, but they will spend more time there and might be there when you're hunt-

Free choice minerals such as 30-06 are vital to supply the large mineral requirements of growing antlers.

Hunting Pressure A property can have food, water, cover and does, but if bucks are repeatedly disturbed, they will likely move their home area and will almost assuredly move their core area. Other than during the rut, mature bucks tend to be aloof and prefer being unseen and unbothered. This is especially true for their bedding areas. A mature buck can get busted off a food plot and might go nocturnal or move a short distance to another food plot, but he will likely return. However, if he is busted out of his bedding area enough, he will likely move to a new bedding


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IRRESISTIBLE — Whitetail Institute Attractants Cover All the Bases ost Whitetail Institute products are designed for multiple seasons, such as spring and summer, fall through winter and year-round usage. One segment of the Whitetail Institute’s product lineup, though, is specifically designed just for hunting season: Whitetail Institute attractants. They’re designed to cover all the bases so deer are certain to find one or more irresistible.

property. As mentioned, Whitetail Institute attractants come in many forms for versatility, and Kraze is an example. It’s available as Kraze in granular form or Kraze liquid. Magnet Mix: Magnet Mix appeals to a deer’s senses of smell and taste, but in a different way than Apple Obsession and Kraze. It’s also extremely attractive to deer. Whitetail Institute Field Testers report deer coming again and again to a spot treated with Magnet Mix Liquid and pawing the ground to get more. Magnet Mix also comes in two forms: Magnet Mix liquid and the 25-pound 4-Play Block. Magnet Mix Liquid contains highly concentrated attractants but in a form that does not require dilution before being used, so you don’t have to haul water to the site. Just shake the jug and pour. The 4-Play Block offers the same attraction power as Magnet Mix Liquid in an easy-to-use block. Magnet Mix 4-Play block weighs 25 pounds, and it’s designed so you can use it in one site or easily break it into smaller blocks for use at multiple sites.

Whitetail Institute Attractants “Which Whitetail Institute Attractant is the Best?” In this article, we’ll discuss what makes Whitetail Institute attractants almost addictive to deer as well as how to use them. Every Whitetail Institute attractant product is designed to hook deer in multiple ways, and they’re all a bit different in how they do it. Devour is a critical ingredient in all Whitetail Institute attractants. It’s so attractive to deer that it borders on being addictive. Beyond that, each Whitetail Institute attractant contains a specific combination of scent and taste enhancers. The Whitetail Institute also offers attractants in various forms, including granular, liquid and block to cover your preferences and need. Finally, although nutritional levels in Whitetail Institute attractants are not sufficient to meet the Whitetail Institute’s definition of a true nutritional supplement, Whitetail Institute attractants are also nutritionally enhanced so deer can benefit from them. Apple Obsession: A granular attractant, Apple Obsession attracts deer from long distances with its strong apple scent and flavor. It’s extremely attractive to deer, especially in early fall and winter. Apple Obsession is also fortified with 24 percent protein as well as essential minerals and vitamins. Kraze and Kraze Liquid: Kraze contains multiple scent and flavor enhancers, including an ingredient that appeals to the sugar craving of deer, delivering incredible attraction. Kraze can last for weeks, and can pull deer from surrounding properties and help hold them on your


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That’s a question the Whitetail Institute is asked pretty often. Every attractant is designed to be as attractive to deer as the Whitetail Institute can make it. Even so, your deer might exhibit a preference. That’s because deer, like humans, are individuals in what they like, and that’s why the Whitetail Institute offers such a broad range of attractants. The best way to determine whether deer prefer a particular attractant is the same way the Whitetail Institute’s forage research team performs preference testing: cafeteria testing. Put each attractant out near the others so you create a buffet-like situation, and then monitor usage to determine preference. I performed this test at my hunting lease in the past, and deer definitely preferred one Whitetail Institute attractant over the others. I won’t tell you which one, though, because a friend did the same thing at his property, less than five miles from mine, and his deer also exhibited a strong preference — but for a different Whitetail Institute attractant. The bottom line is that you should let the deer decide. Caution: Whitetail Institute attractant products are so powerful that some states consider them bait, so consult your local game laws before hunting over or near a Whitetail Institute attractant site. For more information about Whitetail Institute attractants, go to whitetailinstitute.com, or call the Whitetail Institute at (800) 6883030. ^ www.whitetailinstitute.com

Imperial Whitetail

Double-Cross: The perfect partnership of clover and brassicas f you’ve planted Imperial Whitetail Clover and Imperial Whitetail Winter-Greens before, you already know why Imperial Whitetail Clover remains the # 1 food plot planting in the world and why WinterGreens has taken the brassica food plot market by storm. So why would the Whitetail Institute develop Double-Cross, which is a blend of these products? Because together, they push specific performance categories of each food plot product even farther, especially during fall and winter.

and WINA-brassica elements work together to accomplish a specific purpose — namely maximizing total performance of the stand. Because Double-Cross contains WINA brassicas, it is designed for late summer/fall planting only. First fall after planting. Imperial Whitetail Clover establishes very quickly, and it’s exceptionally attractive to deer. The lettuce-type brassicas in Double-Cross also establish quickly, and they add even more early tonnage to a plot. And remember, the brassicas in Double-Cross

Components of a Successful Partnership As is the case with most Whitetail Institute food plot products, Double-Cross is a blend of several plant varieties. Almost always, blends of several plant varieties offer more complete overall performance than single plant types, if the plant types are selected for specific performance criteria and then combined in optimum ratios. And that’s where the Whitetail Institute’s exhaustive research, development and testing are so important. To see what I mean, think of Double-Cross as what it is: something much more than a blend of randomly chosen plant types. Instead, think of it as a partnership in which the Imperial Whitetail Clover


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become sweeter with the first frost of fall, as do standard brassicas, but they are far more attractive than standard brassicas, often even in the early season before frosts arrive. They have been carefully selected to complement the already excellent early-season performance of Imperial Whitetail Clover, so the Double-Cross brassicas boost early tonnage of the stand even more. And because they become even sweeter after frosts arrive, they can add even more late-season attraction to the plot. In short, the Imperial Whitetail Clover and WINA brassicas in Double-Cross work together toward a common purpose: maximizing tonnage and attraction in the early and late seasons. Continuing perennial performance. The next spring, Imperial Whitetail Clover is one of the first things to green up, providing deer with a highly nutritious food source at a critical time when they’re trying to recover their winter health losses. As spring progresses and soil temperatures increase, the Imperial Whitetail Clover component flourishes and produces tons of highly digestible high-protein forage, which is crucial for antler development, body weight, fawn development and milk production. After the first fall and winter after planting Double-Cross, the stand is essentially all Imperial Whitetail Clover, which can last up to five years from one planting. If you want to re-establish the annual brassicas in the stand the next fall, that’s also very easy to do. Just topdress the stand with three pounds of Imperial Whitetail Winter-Greens per acre. If you have been looking for a perennial blend with the proven performance of Imperial Whitetail Clover, plus the increased earlyand late-season tonnage of brassicas, Double-Cross is the answer. It will attract and hold deer on your property, provide nutrition bucks need to grow bigger antlers and improve the overall quality of your deer. You should plant Double-Cross in loamy, light clays to heavy soils. Double-Cross is available in two sizes: a 4-pound bag that will plant 1/2 acre and an 18-pound bag that will plant 2-1/4 acres. Additional information is available at whitetailinstitute.com, or by calling the Institute’s consultants at (800) 688-3030. ^

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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Vol. 25, No. 2 /


There’s Just Something About The Ones That Get Away

By Scott Bestul Photos by the Author

e called him “The Stranger Buck” because — after a summer and early fall of running cameras — we’d run out of cool or humorous nicknames. One day in early October, we had no clue there was a tall, massive, main-frame 8-pointer on the property, and the next day we did. I looked at that first picture, caught my breath in a little gasp and then immediately calmed down. I’d been sucked in by bucks like that before; interlopers that show up for a day or two and then disappear. Determined not to get charmed by another flash-in-the-pan, I admired the buck’s slab body, arching tines and branching stickers… and vowed to forget him. My oath lasted one week. The next milk run to check cameras, and, you guessed it, there he was. Same plot. Same domination of younger bucks nearby. Same indifference to the camera. I emailed the series of pics to my hunting buddy Alan with a note: “He’s


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back. Where was he all summer?” Alan’s reply led to the buck’s nickname. “Wow. Nice stranger to have in the neighborhood!” So the name stuck. And so did the deer. Suddenly, he was popping up in front of cameras across the farm; early morning crossing the Imperial Whitetail Clover, middle of the night in the beans and just after dark in a plot of Pure Attraction. As a rule, I try not to let an individual buck get under my skin. I recognize mature bucks for the survival machines they are, and I acknowledge myself as the bumbling idiot that I am. So I generally take a shotgun approach when goal-setting. I run through my pre-season cam pics and ogle a handful of bucks I’d be proud to tag. Then I leave the door wide open for any slightly smaller buck that might trip my trigger on a given day, and, of course, am completely susceptible to any newcomer. But a one-buck-or-nothing campaign? I try to leave those to the good hunters. But dang that Stranger Buck. Suddenly, I was zipping through trail-cam pics looking only for him. Closing my eyes at funny times of the day and picturing little details of his rack. And, of course, sitting in tree stands on that farm and willing him to appear. But the pre-rut slipped by, and the chaos of peak breeding passed and not one good buck had dawdled past my stands, let alone the Stranger. Suddenly, it was December, full of cold and snow, and just when a smart man would have given up, I found myself getting excited about that deer. The farm he called home had almost zero cover — the neighboring, off-limits property had all that — but we had all the food. And I’ve even seen the oldest, smartest, biggest bucks abandon caution when all they care about is a belly empty after a www.whitetailinstitute.com

month of chasing does and avoiding hunters. If I played it smart, got in and out of stands carefully and waited for the perfect winds, I believed I had a good shot at the buck that had wriggled under my skin despite my best attempts to ignore him. Everything lined up on a frigid December day just after Christmas. The temp was below zero, the winds out of the northwest felt like cactus needles, the snow ankle-deep and fresh. I knew two food plots were getting hammered by deer, and both were in the Stranger’s wheelhouse. I left the house at noon, planning a quick scouting run to both plots, hoping to find a clue leading me to the best place for the evening hunt. When I pulled up to the first plot, I saw a clue, but not one I was expecting. Bald eagles are a beautiful bird, but when they roost in a tree in the middle of the day, miles from water, they are nothing but a carcass marker. This can be a great thing if, for example, you’re tracking a deer you’ve shot and can’t locate. Or it can be very bad, if the eagle is watching something dead that you don’t want to discover. I was 50 yards from the truck when I spotted the tine; a long, bladed point with a sticker off it that I recognized immediately. Tangled in grass and brush, the rest of the rack came free after a couple of hard tugs, followed by the emaciated body of the Stranger. I found no visible wound on him, but his ribcage poked from his hide like a framework, and his spine stuck up like a series of mountain ridges. His front leg was broken, and I wondered how long an old, strong survivor like that could limp around after being hit by a car or battered by another buck. Long enough, apparently, to turn into little more than a skeleton covered by hair. The Stranger had beaten me. But at least he’d done me the honor of dying in a place where I could find him and acknowledge the defeat. What is it about the bucks that get away? Sometimes, I have to visit my man-cave to recall a buck I was lucky enough to tag. But the big ones that kicked my butt? I can tell you every detail about them. My first sighting. Not only the shape of the rack, but every little kicker and quirk. This trail-cam pic and that close encounter. The nights I lay in bed, thinking of some new strategy for setting up that one ambush or stalk that would reduce him to my possession. And you’d think when my failure was complete — that another hunter did what I couldn’t, or the buck succumbed to disaster or simply disappeared — that I could forget them. Not a chance. Every buck that has whipped me is burned in my psyche like they’ve been soldered there. I’m not alone in this condition. My friend Bob Borowiak has killed some giant bucks, with a consistency that anyone would envy. But ask him sometime about “Lefty,” a buck that grossed more than 200 inches and was 6-1/2 years old when another hunter took him with a muzzleloader. Bob hunted that buck for three seasons and, during the summer before Lefty’s demise, had more than 1,000 hours of scouting invested in that buck, including summer filming sessions when the velvet-clad Lefty stood less than 50 yards from my friend. Or talk to my friend Randy Flannery, a legendary Maine tracker who walks big, old deer down in wilderness hunts that can last for days. Randy has some fantastic bucks to his credit, but this past summer, I asked him about memorable ones that had given him the slip. He didn’t hesitate for a second in recalling a buck he and friend Dick Bernier trailed for an entire day, and one that challenged the finely honed skills of both men by jumping off a small cliff and then making a huge circle that led back to its original bed. The two experts finally admitted defeat after that last maneuver. Flannery’s son killed the buck the next fall. For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

Vol. 25, No. 2 /


Then there’s Ohio’s Adam Hayes, a man who’s likely killed more B&C bucks with a bow than anyone, including three that score more than 200 inches. Just this past summer, Adam was telling me about a gigantic 170-class 8-pointer that had gotten under his skin. The buck lived on a small farm that has room for only one stand, but Adam was confident the buck would swing past it after a few hunts and the deer would be his. Despite sitting the stand dozens of times in ideal conditions, Adam saw the buck only three times during Ohio’s long archery season — and he missed the only shot the buck gave him. The common ground between these tales (and others like them; I’ve talked to dozens of whitetail fanatics about this topic) is a deep and unbridled respect for the buck. In situations where another hunter tags the deer, there is no jealousy, resentment or bitterness — only a bemused acceptance that sometimes, no matter how good we are (or think we are), the bucks are usually better. This is a truth that can be easy to forget these days. Outdoor television is packed with hunts for monster bucks that have been named, photographed and harvested in a 20-minute show that runs like a highlight reel. Big whitetails hit social media minutes after they hit the ground, deluding the average hunter into thinking that killing big deer is something that happens almost daily. I’ve been guilty of contributing to the craze as well, writing and photographing successful hunts and hunters while often ignoring all their fruitless hours and failed attempts. Failure might not make much of a story, but it’s an integral and important part of deer hunting. Whitetails are animals of tremendous mystery; despite the broad base of knowledge we have now that primitive hunters — and even men who chased deer only a few decades ago — never had, we will never learn all we need to make deer hunting easy. No matter how many trail cams we run, food plots we plant, tree stands we hang, or hours we scout, track, drive, the mature whitetail buck will always have the edge. Hunting, by its nature, is supposed to be a challenge, and, of course, we should celebrate every success. But it’s equally critical that we enter the deer woods with a keen sense of humility and respect. We should stand in awe of mature bucks; their incredible talent for survival and the gauntlet they have to run to reach old age. The bucks that elude us are there to teach us those lessons, and I treasure each one. ^


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Rx for Old Plots – Don’t Give Up Too Quickly on Perennial Food Plots By Gerald Almy Photo by Charles J. Alsheimer

ast year’s winter was brutal throughout much of North America. It came as a punch in the gut to many of us who had been spoiled by mild winters in recent years. Lots of land managers saw their food plots damaged by relentless cold, often with no snow cover to protect plants from temperatures plummeting to minus 20 and 30 and wind chills of minus 50. To top it off, for many of us, that onslaught came after years of drought that had already stressed plants. That combination destroyed many plots for some people in far Northern states and Canada. It even knocked several of my perennial plots for a loop here in western Virginia. Some of them had already been on their last leg from age, drought and weed incursion, so I had to bite the bullet. After spraying the weed- and grass-infested plots with Roundup, I plowed them under and prepared to replant them with annuals such as PowerPlant and Tall Tine Tubers, which could take advantage of the nitrogen the clover had restored to the soil. It’s a natural cycle of birth, growth, aging and death that any perennial food plot undergoes. You watch it emerge, grow, thrive for several years and then die out. Only this time, things had been accelerated by years of drought topped off with a ferocious winter. I was going to put one other plot out of its misery, too, because it also showed the effects of struggling against drought, brutal cold, natural aging and weed and grass competition. It’s one of my favorite showcase plots — a one-acre, five-year old Imperial Whitetail Clover plot you view from the gravel driveway as you enter the property. It was a thing of beauty for the first few years. I never tired of looking at it as I pulled in — and the does and fawns that were usually in it. I’d killed the weeds well before planting it, and the streamside plot had come up lush and vibrant, glowing emerald in the sunlight. It was a favorite of female deer and their fawns, which fed in the clover and cooled off in summer in a nearby spring-fed pond. And during peak rut, that concentration of does lured some of the best bucks in the area to the cedars and switchgrass fields bordering the plot. But I knew it was aging the past year or so. And after that brutal winter and years of little rainfall, it looked terrible in the spring —

cold-damaged and infested with weeds that had gradually taken hold during five years of existence. They were robbing the plot of needed nutrients, moisture and sunlight. There were even some bare dirt spots where nothing grew and it had more grass in it than I’m proud to admit. Anyone who saw it probably called it a weed field. But I was so busy with writing, turkey hunting and working on other plots that I neglected making a final decision on whether to try to squeeze another year or two out of it or throw in the towel and plow it under. I pulled a few plants and did not see significant mold, fungus, insects or root rot, so that made me put off my decision more. Those are potential problems that can alert you that it might be time to give up on a plot and re-plant with an annual. I still wasn’t sure what to do, but in case I decided to keep it, I sprinkled a heavy dose of Imperial Whitetail Clover seeds in several brown dirt spots and some thin areas. Later, putting off the decision more, I killed the grasses with Arrest as best I could, even though I knew some stubborn fescue would be tough to eradicate. Even if I decided to give up on the plot, the Arrest would provide a head start on the process by getting rid of a lot of the grasses. A busy schedule and procrastination kept me from doing anything else or making a final decision. And then slowly, amazingly, the Imperial Whitetail Clover began taking control. It was coming back — and coming back strong. The clover seeds in the bare spots were coming up. The grasses had been beaten down a bit. The strong original planting of clover was gradually dominating the remaining grasses and broadleaf weeds. I did a follow-up spraying with Slay to control some of the broadleaf weeds. Then I followed soil test recommendations and added a mixture of 0-46-0 and 0-0-60. I also added some pelletized lime to give the pH a boost. Both steps and a spring and summer with more rainfall than normal helped even more. We were actually getting three to four inches of rain per month, like we were supposed to according to the average rainfall charts. Although the plot wouldn’t compare with a brand-new plot with no weeds and freshly emerged clover, it was impressive to see how the strong original planting of Imperial Whitetail Clover had gradually taken control and dominated the weeds and grasses, with a little help from my spraying, fertilizing and several mowing sessions. That experience gave me the inspiration to write this story. Doubt-

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Vol. 25, No. 2 /


less, many of you each spring wonder about — even agonize over — that decision. Has the combination of age, time, drought, cold and weed and grass competition made it time to throw in the towel on some of your perennial Whitetail Institute plots? Maybe, but maybe not. Don’t give up too quickly on that perennial plot. It’s amazing how strong the clovers, alfalfa and chicory are in Whitetail Institute plots. And what you first see in spring might not be indicative of what the plot can do with a bit of patience and loving care. That plot was five years old and is now going on six. The deer still love it. Sure, it has some weeds, grasses and thin spots. But despite a brutal winter and continuing droughts, I was able to nurse it back to health. “We generally see no problems with re-establishing most Imperial perennial plots at least once by simply over-seeding them with more of the same blend at the end of the original planting’s life,” Whitetail Institute’s William Cousins wrote in the Whitetail News. “Alfa-Rack Plus is the exception because of alfalfa’s autotoxicity characteristics.” It’s always a challenge to decide whether to give up, spray with glyphosate and re-start a plot or try to revive it. But don’t give up too quickly on older plots. Unlike annuals, which generally produce for only part of the year, perennial plots in my area provide tasty, highprotein food for deer ten months a year, year after year. In mild winters, they might provide forage all year. In most Southern states, they provide forage year-round, every year. That makes them too valuable to give up on unless absolutely necessary. “The decision really comes down to a judgment call,” said Steve Scott, vice president of the Whitetail Institute. “Some folks are very concerned about the aesthetics of the plot. They don’t want a single weed in sight. Others take a more practical approach. They don’t think a few weeds or grasses in the plot is the end of the world as long as the plot is producing a lot of tonnage of quality forage and the deer are using it. I’m actually more in the latter camp,” Scott said. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t want people to take care of the weeds and grasses with herbicides such as Arrest and Slay and by periodic mowing. The more effort you put into the plot, the longer the life you’ll get out of it. The most important thing people can do besides controlling the weeds and grasses is to do a soil test and add fertilizer and lime as recommended every year or two. Other than that, in northern states, frost-seeding can also help extend a plot’s life.”

How to Decide Each plot clearly is a different case, and as Scott said, a “judgment call.” First, how old is it? (Hopefully you kept a record of that.) If it’s three, there’s definitely an argument for trying to save the plot. If it’s four or five, it’s more questionable. It might be time to plow it under and start anew with an annual for a year or two. Or it still might be worth saving. Also, examine the plot in detail. How bad are the weeds and grasses? Are they a nuisance, or do they nearly dominate the plot? In the latter case, mowing and spraying might not be enough to control them. Is there lots of bare ground showing? Do the roots of the perennial forage plants look healthy without fungus or insect damage? In addition, consider the soil. Does the soil need major fertilizer and lime applications or just a little upkeep? You can bring those up a bit with top dressing, but if major reclamation work is required with lots of fertilizer and lime needed, it might be better to till those products into the soil and start fresh.


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The final way I decide whether to stick with a perennial plot is to let the deer have input. If deer are foraging in the plot consistently, that tells me it’s worth keeping and trying to improve. If they’re mostly feeding other places and ignoring the plot, it might be time to plow it under. If you do decide to save that plot, some of the steps I took can help you revive it and maybe get another year or two out of the plot. Here are the important steps. 1. Over-seed bare spots or thin areas. This should be done as soon as possible in spring. The soil freezing and thawing can help set the small seeds. And even without frost, early planting will give the best chance for the seeds to take hold before weed competition becomes strong. I simply take a bag of Imperial Whitetail Clover or Chicory Plus and hand-sprinkle a heavy dose on all bare spots and thin areas. 2. Do a soil test, and apply fertilizer and lime as recommended. Sure, it’s better if you can till the lime into the ground, but fertilizer will gradually work its way down to the roots with rainfall. To a lesser extent, lime will, too. If the soil pH is way too low, consider giving up on the plot, adding the recommended amount of lime and starting again with an annual. The more acidic it is, the harder it is for the plants to absorb needed phosphorous and potassium. And most weeds thrive in acidic soils, so the lower the pH, the greater your weed problem is also likely to be. Fertilizer and an acceptable pH level will help your clover grow strong, even if the stand is three or four years old. And a strong, thriving stand with little space available between the clover plants is the best defense against weeds. It will out-compete them and shade them out. 3. Spray weeds and grasses. Carefully applying selective herbicides such as Arrest MAX for grasses and Slay for broadleaf weeds can be a vital step for reviving an older clover plot. Weeds and grasses rob the plot of vital nutrients in the soil as well as moisture and sunlight. “The best time to spray is early in the year when the grasses are just a few inches high,” Scott said. “The taller they get, the harder they are to control.” I’ve also found a second spraying can be very effective for knocking down remaining grasses that the spring treatment didn’t get. 4. Mow down weeds and grasses. Chances are you won’t get all your grasses and weeds controlled, especially in an older perennial plot where they’ve had years to establish themselves. That’s where regular mowing comes in. Mow when weeds grow taller than the clover and before they go to seed. When you cut the weeds, clipping a small amount of the top of the clover is fine. This stimulates new growth and increases stolen density to help the clover take over bare spots in the plot that weeds would otherwise invade. If possible, cut when the clover and/or weeds are about 10 to 12 inches tall. Make sure the weeds don’t seed out and don’t mow if it’s hot and dry.

Conclusion Don’t be too hasty to give up on that perennial plot. Carefully weigh your decision about each specific site. Does it have much potential left if you give it some extra pampering? Or should you simply bite the bullet, plow it under and start fresh with an annual for a year or so? Based on my experience with my showcase plot, I’d say be careful about giving up too quickly. It might have a year or two of good forage production left with enough loving care. ^ www.whitetailinstitute.com

New Imperial Whitetail

Ambush he Whitetail Institute doesn’t come out with new forage products very often. The reason is the Whitetail Institute’s quality standards — they’re so high that most new product candidates fail at some point in the research and testing process. This fall, though, the Whitetail Institute is offering a new forage product called Ambush that I’m personally very excited about because I’ve seen how incredibly attractive it is to deer. Ambush is going to be an absolute winner! New Ambush is a Whitetail Institute annual food-plot product that’s for fall planting only. And that makes sense when you consider the forage components in Ambush and how they work. In a nutshell, Ambush is designed to do two things: attract deer and provide them with vital nutrition during the early and late season. It’s the sheer attraction power of Ambush, though, that really has me fired up about it. The key to Ambush’s exceptional attraction is its precise blend of complementary forage components: Whitetail Oats, winter peas, sugar beets, and sweet lupines. If you’ve never heard of sweet lupines before, you aren’t alone. Even though most folks may not have heard of these cool-season legumes before, the Whitetail Institute has been working with them for years in its forage research and testing programs, and I have to say that the sweet lupines in Ambush are absolutely incredible at attracting deer. As mentioned, Ambush also includes Whitetail Oats, a cold-tolerant oat variety that’s high in sugar and so attractive to deer that they had to be removed from university grain-production trials and shelved because deer grazed them so heavily. Even with all that, the Whitetail Institute has gone even further and includes winter peas in Ambush. It’s no secret that winter peas can be very attractive to deer, but some winter-pea varieties have shown to be vastly more attractive than others. And just like Whitetail Oats, the winter peas in Ambush are the most attractive varieties the Whitetail Institute has ever tested. Finally, Ambush also includes sugar beets, which provide deer with sugars and other essential carbohydrates they crave for energy into the coldest months of the year, and increase variety in the overall stand even further. The sugar beets in Ambush can even improve the quality of your soil as their huge roots leave open spaces (aeration) as they are eaten or after they die the spring after planting. Ambush delivers explosive attraction during the early and late seasons as well as protein and the abundant energy deer need for the fall and into the winter. Do yourself a favor and plant at least a small plot or a portion of a plot in Ambush this fall. You and your deer will both be glad you did. For more information about Ambush, go to whitetailinstitute.com, or call the Whitetail Institute at (800) 688-3030. Note: Ambush is available in a limited supply this year. It’s possible that by the time you read this, the supply could already be gone. If you want to try Ambush this fall, you need to call the Whitetail Institute immediately to check on availability. ^ For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

Vol. 25, No. 2 /


Plan Hunting Strategies Around Plots and Buck Behavior By David Hart Photos by the Author

lant a food plot, hang a stand, shoot a deer. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? In some ways, hunting food plots really is that simple. At least for the first few days of the season. After that? All bets are off. Deer change their patterns, avoid pressured areas and, well, just seem to vanish as the season progresses. That is, unless you plan your hunting strategies around your plots. There’s more to hunting a food plot than hanging a stand and sitting in it throughout the season. Much more. Hunt It Less One of the most effective ways to hunt any food plot is to hunt it less. That might seem like a tough pill to swallow, especially for hunters who have limited options, but we know whitetails, bucks in particular, seem to vanish when they figure out hunting season has started. Based on several research projects, it doesn’t take long for deer to figure out what’s going on. As an Auburn University graduate student, Clint McCoy initiated a three-year study that examined the movements of 37 adult bucks at a 6,400-acre site in coastal South Carolina. The land had about 100 food plots and 60 feeders (some were together), and almost every stand was directly adjacent to or close to those food sources. Researchers wanted to examine buck activity in relation to hunting activity and breeding strategy. (Although a feeder is not a food plot, there are enough similarities with deer behavior that they can be lumped into the same category, McCoy said). The takeaway? If you want to see more deer, hunt a specific food plot less frequently. McCoy learned that bucks stay away from food sites for at least three days if the site was hunted just once before those three days. The more time a stand was hunted, the less likely a buck was to visit that site. Visits to a food source dropped in half after that spot experienced just 12 hours of hunting pressure. McCoy didn’t just factor visits specific to the food source. He spent time examining all the stands on foot and actually calculated what he called


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a “harvest zone.” If you could see a buck from the stand at 100 yards or less, a hunter could potentially harvest that deer, so that was factored into the equation.

Rotate Your Pressure Those changes in behavior can make things tough on hunters with only a couple of food plots or a small tract of land. For those with abundant options, however, that simply means you’ll have to rotate your stand selections. Chris McClellan, owner of Sailor’s Creek Outfitters, has about 15 food plots on the 4,000 acres he hunts in south-central Virginia. They are planted with wheat, Imperial Whitetail Clover, Whitetail Institute’s Tall Tine Tubers, Whitetail Oats Plus or a combination. Just as McCoy’s study suggests, McClellan pays close attention to how much time his hunters spend in individual stands. Less is better. “I rarely hunt a stand more than once every three days,” he said. “I’ll let the area sit even longer if someone shot or if we had to spend time in the area tracking a deer. It’s pretty obvious that deer will use a food plot less often if it’s hunted frequently, no matter what type of plant is in the plot or what time of year it is.” He admits that other factors can play into how much time he hunts a food plot. A client who saw a big buck sometimes insists on going back, something McClellan won’t argue with. Or the wind direction might be favorable. “A lot of the stands I have aren’t actually on the food plot,” he said. “I like to put some of my stands back off the plot 15 or 20 yards with shooting lanes cut through the trees. That allows us to get in and out without bumping deer that might be in the food plot or in the woods on the other side.” It’s inevitable that you will spook deer as you walk in or out. However, the more thought and care you put into approaching your stand, the better your chances are of seeing deer in it more frequently. It’s equally important to consider such factors as wind direction when you actually hunt the stand. McCoy did not take wind direction into account, so he can’t say how human scent affected deer behavior. He only knows bucks stopped using food plots for a time after they were hunted. Common sense tells us that if the deer never see or smell you, they are more likely to use a specific food plot more often. “I won’t put a hunter in the stand if the wind is wrong,” he said. “That’s a good way to ruin that spot for a couple of days. I’ll just hunt another food plot with a more favorable wind.”

Afternoons Only? McClellan also won’t hunt directly near plots in the morning www.whitetailinstitute.com

much, either. That’s because whitetails are likely to already be in the plot as his hunters walk to their stands. Instead, he prefers to hunt far enough away from plots that any deer in them never know a hunter is nearby. His most productive stands tend to be 100 yards or more away from the field, typically near a trail leading back to thick planted pines, regenerated cut-over or some other obvious bedding cover. McCoy also found evenings tend to be the best time to hunt food plots. In many cases, the bucks he followed were out of planted food sources well before legal shooting light and were bedded down or on their way to bedding cover before daylight. “There was little chance of seeing a mature buck in a food plot in the morning,” he said. “That became more apparent as the season progressed.”

Late Shift

Consider placing your stands over trails leading to and from food plots, not directly over the plots. You will be more likely to catch bucks as they wait for darkness before they enter the plot itself.

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That’s why it’s even more important to plan your food plot hunting strategies as the season grows older. No matter how careful you are at getting in and out of your stand or how little pressure you put on a location, deer still go into hiding and refuse to enter a food plot during legal shooting hours. Outside factors such as hunting pressure on surrounding properties can have just as much impact on your deer as your hunting activity. Remember, you aren’t the only one hunting your deer. Whitetails have home ranges of about a square mile or more. Unless you own or manage several thousand acres, a buck that spends time on your land likely spends time on your neighbors’ land as well. That doesn’t mean those deer aren’t on their feet before last light, though. An older study conducted in South Carolina found that mature deer visit food sources under the cover of darkness but will stage as close as 100 yards from the food. McCoy found the same thing. In fact, as each season progressed, visits to food plots during daylight dropped dramatically. During the first few weeks of the season, about one of every three visits to food plots by individual bucks occurred during legal shooting hours. Toward the end of the season, that number dropped to about one per 20 visits. McCoy could not determine if bucks were simply skirting the food plots and stand locations. He collected data points every 30 minutes. (“A buck can cover a lot of ground in 30 minutes,” he said). However, he knows that Vol. 25, No. 2 /


many bucks were on their feet well before the end of legal shooting light. They were heading to food, but they didn’t actually enter the plots until they knew it was safe. “Food plot visits overall actually increased over the course of the season,” he said. “Bucks didn’t stop using them. They just stopped using them in the daytime and basically went nocturnal.” In other words, the best way — almost the only way — to effectively hunt a plot later in the season is to hunt somewhere besides directly adjacent to it. That means setting up somewhere between their bedding area and their food source. McClellan places his late-season hunters along ridges and other known travel areas in an attempt to catch bucks traveling to and from food. The stand might be 50 yards from a plot or 200 yards away. That depends on surrounding cover and distance to known bedding areas.

Don’t Hunt Them

The author shot this Virginia buck in the morning along a creek bottom about 200 yards from a field of Whitetail Institute Imperial Whitetail Clover. The buck was headed back to his bedding area.


/ Vol. 25, No. 2

There’s no rule that says a food plot must be hunted. Sometimes, not hunting it or even going anywhere near it is good strategy. McCoy figures the increased food plot visits later in the season were likely a result of changes in food sources as the season progressed. Acorns and other foods become less abundant, and deer have few other options besides food plots. That’s why McClellan usually focuses his efforts away from food plots during the early bow season, particularly when the acorn crop is abundant. “There’s no question they favor acorns if they are available,” he said. “You might see deer in food plots early in the season, but if they have the option, they’ll go to acorns first.”


That’s not to say you shouldn’t hunt food plots even if there is a good acorn crop. On the contrary, a field of Imperial Whitetail Clover will attract deer that might be heading from a bedding area to an oak flat. Whitetails don’t live on one food source. A quick bite of a green plant might be the perfect addition to a meal of acorns. Generally, though, food plots become an important and well-used food source later in the year. And when oaks don’t produce acorns, food plots are even more important early in the fall, too. Careful scouting before the season can show you if there is an acorn crop, how deer are responding to it and if they are using your early-season plots.

When All Bets Are Off There’s one time the best strategy really is to sit in a stand overlooking a food plot, no matter how much pressure you’ve been putting on your plots: the rut. Bucks will cruise open woods, fields and food plots in search of a doe during the brief breeding season. You need to be in your stand. Although you might not actually see a doe while you sit, there’s a good chance one was there the night before. A passing buck might follow her scent trail into the middle of a food plot and right past your stand. ^

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Avoid walking through your plots if you can. Any scent you leave behind is a clue to your local deer herd that they are being hunted. The less you make your presence known, the more often you’ll see deer in your food plots.

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Vol. 25, No. 2 /


Embrace the Chase —

Seeking is the Ultimate Adventure By R.G. Bernier Photos by the Author

“It is here that we seek and still find our meat from God.” — Aldo Leopold “I’m getting close,” I thought. The buck had led me over a ridge, through a swamp and across a lot of difficult terrain in between. But without that, the hunt would have seemed stale and flat. You see, most deer hunters spend their lives without knowing it is not deer they are after. Yes, you read that correctly. Essentially it is not whitetails we are after, even though we are hunting them. It is the adventure of the chase during each hunt that keeps us coming back year after year. According to David Farbman, “We are all hunters, whether we are hunting an antique, chasing a huge business deal, or trying to take a dall sheep at 10,000 feet. The sooner we start to realize that we must become hunters in our business lives, in our personal lives, and in the way we pursue our goals or our desired outcomes, the sooner we shall live a life of deliberate purpose: a life of successful hunts.” So yes, we all would like to be successful in our hunting endeavors, whether it’s in locating our misplaced wallet, keys or cell phone or in bagging a big buck. Although searching for something might be inherently the same, the feeling you get while engaged in the chase of a wild whitetail is dramatically different. After all, can you think of another experience that has the ability to test our resolve in every way imaginable? Deer hunting does this because it places a hunter in circumstances he would not otherwise be. Whitetails are the reason we are


/ Vol. 25, No. 2

afield. But rest assured, adventure has a way of finding us out there. No hunter wants to shoot a deer that is as docile as a barnyard pet. He wants to make sporting history, and he wants a story behind the hunt — an epic lasting for a lifetime. South Cox, a man who routinely stalks within spitting distance of his target while only using a recurve bow, and does so well above the tree line in alpine mountains, wrote, “Ultimately, it’s not the delivery of death itself we seek, but the challenge, adventure and pursuit of an animal that has evolved over thousands of years to avoid capture. By limiting ourselves, whether it be by use of a more primitive weapon or hunting older, wiser, mature animals, tests the knowledge, skills, and woodsmanship of a seasoned hunter.” And when we add elements, as Cox suggested, that increase the difficulty, such as tracking/still-hunting wilderness whitetails, the experience becomes even more invigorating. However, whatever style of hunting we choose, be it tramping endless miles or perching ourselves above the forest floor, we expend much energy, time and money doing so, during every conceivable condition; snow, rain, wind and temperature fluctuations on both ends of the spectrum. We combat biting insects and endure bone-chilling cold, and do so wholeheartedly. I don’t know of a hunter who ever questions his sanity when embarking into www.whitetailinstitute.com

meet the next mysterious bend in the trail. We delight in the sweat, toil and struggles that ultimately come as a result of the chase. It is that adventurous temperament, a longing in the heart that cannot be tamed or leashed, that sets the hunter apart. We embrace the chase much the same way a mountain climber thirsts to conquer Everest. Otherwise, why do it? Buying a steak at the supermarket is a lot simpler and cost effective. No, there is really something intoxicating about seeking our deer that keeps us thirsting for the next dose of this elixir. The explanation for this lies in one of the three primal emotions found in animals and humans: curiosity, interest and anticipation. In her book, Animals in Translation, Temple Grandin wrote, “We know animals like being in the seeking state because of self-stimulation studies where the researcher gives his animals control over the electrodes, so the animal can choose to turn the electrodes on or off himself. When the electrodes are implanted into the curiosity/interest/anticipation system, animals turn them on and keep them on until they’re totally exhausted from all their frenzied racing around.” This would explain why a buck is far more animated and excited during the seeking/chasing phase of the rut than he seems to be after he has found fulfillment with an estrous doe. Grandin continued, “The fact is that animals who are having this part of the brain stimulated act intensely curious. The second is the fact that human beings who are having this part of the brain stimulated say they feel excited and interested.” And that is why, for me, seeking a deer afoot will always trump stand-hunting when it comes to total fulfillment, even though it might not necessarily provide the same odds.

morning’s dimly lit forest to take up a lonely deer trail from dawn to dusk just for the simple chance of what it might yield. Why is the hunt far more important than the actual killing? Is it really only just about the deer? Farbman weighed in: “I discovered that when we tap the hunter inside of us — our natural order — things become clearer. All that we need for business, life or the field is already there. We just have to see it, believe it, and stay out of the way and let the hunter take over. The true hunter knows its purpose and does not get caught in the noise, the ego or the waiting game.” So it seems that although our primary motivation in hunting whitetails is to vanquish a foe sporting fine, polished antlers, a dead deer is not what ultimately holds the charm. If we’re to be honest, we should get as much satisfaction from the hunt itself as we do from bagging our quarry. And in so doing, our spirit soars to For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

Vol. 25, No. 2 /


“Tracking is to hunting what ballet is to walking,” said Jim Collyer. “It is completely different from any other method of hunting. We step into the forest and leave everything else behind — our work, our problems and our dreams. We are alone. All that exists is the track, the rifle and the waiting buck. There is nothing more important than the moment. We cannot track with macho aggression; it has to be done with grace. Stand-hunting’s popularity is not due to its excitement. It is simply the most efficient way to harvest a trophy buck. When standhunting, we avoid the deer’s line of sight and sense of smell. While we can still feel the cold wind and smell the ripe odors of the autumn forest, we are passive observers, waiting. The real hunting occurred when we searched out a location for our stand. In the stand we sit above the scene, waiting for action to unfold below us. “A hunter sees things much differently while tracking. We are in the deer’s line of sight, making noise and spreading our scent everywhere. We are in the scene, not just watching it, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. “Tracking is an art. Tracking is a dance. The buck leads, we follow. In tracking, plans are deliberately indefinite. We don’t know where the buck will lead us. Our focus is on the journey, not the destination. When done properly, the buck’s rhythms become our own. We will be in harmony, in step with each other.” And here is the clincher as to why seeking after something has such a profound effect on those that take up the chase. According to Temple’s research, “This part of the brain, the seeking system, starts firing when the animal sees a sign that food might be nearby but stops firing when the animal sees the actual food itself. The seeking circuit fires


/ Vol. 25, No. 2

during the search for food, (or a hot doe) not during the final locating or eating of the food. It’s the search that feels so good. That’s not as surprising as it sounds when you think about it. At the most basic level, animals and humans are wired to enjoy hunting for food. That’s why hunters like to hunt even if they’re not going to eat what they kill; they like the hunting part itself. Depending on their personalities and interests, humans enjoy any kind of hunt. They like hunting through flea markets for hidden finds, they like hunting for answers to medical problems on the Internet, and they like hunting for the ultimate meaning of life in church or in a philosophy seminar. All of those activities come out of the same system in the brain.” After my long and arduous pursuit, I momentarily froze as traces of brown were silhouetted against a white backdrop. Slowly, ever so slowly, I brought my weapon to its well-rehearsed position on my shoulder. Cautiously, I snapped off the safety and fingered the trigger. Time seemed to tick by excruciatingly slow as I waited for clear identification of the animal. The buck moved just enough to reveal his heavy antlers and part of his broad chest. Peering through the sight, I found enough of a hole in the brush to attempt a shot. My mouth was dry, my heart pounded and sweat trickled a path down my neck as every muscle tensed. I exhaled and fired. “The time has come,” Farbman wrote, “to unleash the hunter and track down that which has previously eluded you. All that is needed to be leveraged is inside of you, so wake up because the world is waiting, hunter, and it’s open season.” ^


REAL HUNTERS DO THE TALKING about Whitetail Institute products… (Continued from page 47)


s one of my close friends said, “Olivia does it again”. Even though drought was not helping the food sources, our Whitetail Institute Winter Peas Plus was attracting a lot of deer. Fairly warm weather has been the norm, but all that changed last Sunday. We awoke to 38 degrees and dead calm. We were hunting an interior food plot planted in Winter Peas Plus. After little action at day break, a steady stream of deer started around 7 a.m. — about 30 minutes after legal light. After having four to five little bucks come through and passing a 3-1/2 year old 130-inch class 8-point, we wondered if that would be our last buck action for the day. About 8 a.m. Olivia’s deer appeared at the edge of the food plot about 30 to 40 yards away and was followed closely by two other bucks — one being a mature 10-point that would gross about 150 inches, the other a small buck. As the bucks fed, we quickly and quietly got into position with the camera and Olivia. For no apparent reason, but as somewhat expected, the lead buck lifted his head and slowly started angling directly away and across the plot while the other two bucks continued to feed. Olivia was following him in the scope waiting for a good shot opportunity. After about 20 yards of that, I mouth grunted to stop the deer. He turned and looked directly at the blind, slightly quartering away. Olivia was ready and made a perfect shot at about 70 yards. All three bucks exited the field but her deer only made it about 40 yards into the timber before expiring. The buck scored 162 inches gross.

Jason Miller – Iowa


icknamed Split G2, I harvested him on Dec. 6, at 4:15 p.m. on the edge of a small secluded plot of Winter Greens. This plot for many years has been called the “Potato Patch” by our family. I’d never seen this great buck — not in velvet, not during bow season, not until I pulled the trigger. But I was well aware that he roamed our property thanks to a number of scouting cameras armed in key locations. The day before Split G2 showed up at the potato patch, I had watched a group of bucks enter the plot one-by-one until the 8th and final buck arrived. Shortly after, several does walked in and fed amongst them. Around 3:45 — the next afternoon the wind was in my favor — I climbed into the rifle stand concealed in a mature pine tree near the secluded Potato Patch. Shortly after 4 p.m., I noticed an unfamiliar buck entering the plot. That was a good sign, for he might be traveling with a different group than those I’d seen the previous afternoon. Several minutes later another buck — nicknamed 125 for his estimated score — showed up. I’d seen him a few times during the season, and once again, he was not part of yesterday’s group... more good sign. After a few minutes of watching the bucks through my binoculars, I lowered them for a rest, and there stood the Split G2 buck on the far right-hand side of the plot with his nose to the ground. Seconds later a gunshot thundered across the wooded area... mine! When I knelt down beside the beautiful buck, I was all smiles... all from the power of plots! Split G2 gross-scored 162-2/8 with a 144-2/8 net, making him the largest buck I’ve ever taken in 43 years of deer hunting. Building up the wildlife habitat diversity on our property for the past several years has been a very rewarding activity, and food plots have been a major addition. Even though our Pennsylvania farm consists of hundreds of acres of agricultural crops that wildlife — especially deer

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— utilize, those crops are seldom available year round. That’s where the food plots come in. Planted properly, food plots not only provide year round nutritional benefits but also fantastic hunting opportunities. The Whitetail Institute products are part of our food plot management, and the Split G2 buck is proof that they work.

Roger Kingsley – Pennsylvania ^

Send Us Your Photos! Do you have photos and/or a 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. Email your digital photos and a 3 to 4 paragraph story telling how you harvested the deer and the role our products played to info@whitetailinstitute.com or send them to: Whitetail News, Attn: Field Tester Response,

239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala, AL 36043 Vol. 25, No. 2 /





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/ Vol. 25, No. 2


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Vol. 25, No. 2 /


Randy Ryals – Alabama On the afternoon of Dec. 30, my daughter, Kaitlyn made her third trip into the woods this year looking for her first deer. On her first two hunts she had not seen anything in the woods but had been hearing about multiple deer sightings from others. I told her that we would go to a shooting house where a friend had been seeing several deer. After getting set up in the shooting house, the first shot was fired at 3:30 p.m. about 200 yards from the house. Kaitlyn immediately started getting discouraged, as she felt she was once again in the wrong place at the wrong time. About 4:40 p.m. I saw a deer, but could not make out if it was a buck or a doe, and told Kaitlyn that she would have to wait for it to get to the field before she could shoot. After five to 10 minutes of watching the deer, it moved out of sight and we never saw the deer again. Now she was very discouraged. At 5:00 p.m. I looked to the left and spotted a deer on the far edge of the field. I immediately told Kaitlyn I had spotted a deer and to be still. I pulled up my binoculars and saw the buck. I told her it was a buck and to get ready. She started moving to get ready for the shot, but could not get in a good position. She then asked if she could sit on my knee. She got up on my knee, took aim, and took the buck at 90 yards with one shot. The buck was found within 10 yards of where he was standing when she pulled the trigger. Upon getting down to the buck, we noticed that his left main beam had been broken off just before the G-3 tine. His brow tine on that side was also broken off, but it was still a great first deer. After thanking our friend, Jeff for putting her in a great spot, eating some dinner, and showing off the buck, we took the buck to the taxidermist to be mounted for future year’s stories.


/ Vol. 25, No. 2

Blake Cresswell – Pennsylvania This past archery season, I shot my first buck. My friend Ken Smock took me out to his property to help me get my first deer. We were hunting on an Imperial Whitetail Clover plot. I had seen this buck twice the day before with a couple of does and never was able to get a shot. The next day, we got up early and hit it again. I was watching deer behind me for a while, and when they walked off I turned around and that same buck I saw the past day was standing 30 yards broadside. I slowly stood up, but I realized there were some branches in the way so as slowly as I could I slid my feet over. The buck turned his head and stared right at me but after a short time the buck turned and looked the other direction. That’s when I drew my bow. I lined my peep sight up, put my 20 to 25 yard pin behind his shoulder and touched off; I hit him square and double-lunged him. He ran about 80 yards. I had shot my first buck… I finally shot my first buck. www.whitetailinstitute.com

Bruce Archambault – Missouri The night before opening day of last year’s Missouri’s youth deer season, young, seven year old Bruce IV, his dad, and younger brother Chase (not pictured) had flown to Missouri to hunt the youth deer season weekend on Grandpa’s farm. They had flown in from Ft. Carson, Colorado where his Dad is stationed as an Artillery man and First Lieutenant Fire Support Officer and had only recently returned from his third combat tour, this time in Afghanistan. After drilling several nice .243 shots into a paper plate at 50 yards Friday evening, Dad was confident Bruce IV was ready for the task at hand. Expectations were high but they didn’t see anything opening morning. That afternoon they headed back out with high hopes. They were seated in a double-wide tree stand surrounded by a camouflaged burlap wrap overlooking an acre Imperial Whitetail Clover food plot on a power line and unbeknownst to dad, Bruce IV had fallen asleep. During Missouri’s youth season any deer is legal, so as a fat 6-pointer strolled into the food plot Dad turned to find Bruce IV was out cold! Dad finally awoke his little hunting buddy, but it was too late as the deer had wandered off. Minutes later this nice doe wandered out into the food plot and Bruce nicely double-lunged her with a perfect shot at 65 yards. Upon hearing the shot, Grandpa, who was back at the cabin promptly jumped on his ATV and was able to take this photo after they had dragged the doe from the thick woods. Pictured are Bruce IV far right, Dad and cousin Kayden.

Devin Patterson – Mississippi Devin Patterson, the 12-year-old son of Lisa and Johnny Patterson, has been assisting his parents with planting Imperial Whitetail Clover for years. This deer was his first buck and he shot it over an Imperial Whitetail Clover plot. ^

Email your First Deer digital photos and story to info@whitetailinstitute.com or send them to Whitetail Institute of North America, 239 Whitetail Trail, Pintlala 36043, Attn.: First Deer Dept. For the latest promotions, sales and news visit www.Facebook.com/WhitetailInstitute

Vol. 25, No. 2 /


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Whitetail News Vol 25.2  

Whitetail News Volume 25 Issue 2

Whitetail News Vol 25.2  

Whitetail News Volume 25 Issue 2