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How Often Should you Check your Game Cameras?

One of the questions we get asked a lot is how often should I check my trail cameras. Everyone is eager to know what’s on their cameras, but checking them too often can leave a lot of scent behind and give mature deer a reason to avoid the area.

Consider Trail Cam Locations

The location of your camera has a lot to do with how often you should check it and each situation can be a little bit different. In a situation where you have a camera on a row crop field edge or well traveled road, it’s not going to hurt to go check your camera every couple of weeks, especially if you can check it out of a truck or UTV. On the other hand, if your camera is close to a bedding area, heavy cover, or a remote food source you don’t want to go in every few days to check your camera.

Checking Trail Cams Digitally

A great feature on some cameras is the ability to send pictures through a cellular network. The cell capable cameras work well if you live a long way from your land and it isn’t feasible to check them as often as you would like. Cameras that send pictures through either email or text messaging can be really advantageous to absentee landowners or for cameras placed in hard to reach areas. It is very tempting to check cameras every couple of days, but remember that disturbing the woods too often and leaving human scent behind can be counterproductive to your hunting and land management. [Read more…]

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4 Reasons To Start Planting Trees

Tree planting has played an important role in improving wildlife habitat for ages. As GameKeepers, we know how effective “tree plots” and reforestation can be for attracting wildlife to a property, but let’s take a look at some of the other great reasons to go out and plant some trees!

Reliable Food Source

Everyone loves fresh fruit! Planting fruit bearing trees for wildlife can become a “hot spot” for game traffic when the trees are producing. These same trees can also offer up a tasty snack while in the field or at the home.

Improve The Environment

Trees improve the environment by preventing and controlling erosion and help to clean the air and water. Trees in urban areas provide shade and block cold winds, which in turn keeps heating and cooling costs down. The benefits of trees far outweigh the costs, making them a wise investment for the future.

Create Lasting  Habitats

All trees are beneficial to wildlife in some form or fashion. Food, cover and water are the pillars of necessity for all walks of wildlife, and trees can provide both food and cover. Acorns from oaks and leaves and fruits of mulberries are favorite foods by many, and a long row of mixed trees in a barren landscape of the Midwest can provide enough cover to provide safe travels to feeding areas. Advanced tree planting techniques and superior stock means nuts and fruits can mature in a hurry. [Read more…]

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Understanding The American Persimmon

Many of us know how attractive the American Persimmon can be to wildlife, especially whitetail deer. But how many of us have spent numerous hours in the field scouting for these fruit-bearing trees only to find a large persimmon tree with no fruit on it at all?

Understanding Persimmon Production

What many people are unaware of is that the American Persimmon tree can be either a male or a female; females produce fruit, and males produce pollen. Determining a persimmon tree’s sex until it actually begins flowering and producing is impossible. So it’s important to do some scouting during the right time of year to figure out which trees are male and which are female.

When To Scout For Persimmons

Late summer/early fall is a great time to let persimmons tell you whether they’re male or female. Pre-season scouting will allow you to flag the fruit-bearing persimmons so you can come back to the “flagged” trees during hunting season. You can also look for calyxes on the ground. The calyx is the woody portion that’s attached to the mature fruits. [Read more…]

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It’s Time to Start Planning Your Fall Food Plot

                                                                                                               

Fall is right around the corner and it’s time to start planning your Fall Food Plot,whether you have an existing food plot or starting a new one from scratch,it’s a great time to add trees. Tree’s provide browse, cover and food making them a smart long term investment to any property.

Fall planting gives two cooler, damper growing periods – fall and spring – before a new tree faces hot summer conditions. Fall really is a good time to plant because:
Shorter days, less intense sunlight, more rain, and the cooler temperatures of early fall mean less stress (i.e. “transplant shock”) 
Newly planted trees tend to lose less moisture through their leaves in fall than in summer, which lowers water demands.
Bugs and diseases that are in high gear during summer mostly wind down and/or disappear to hibernate as fall progresses.
Planting in the fall gives them a head start on growth the following spring. Root systems will start to grow once the ground thaws, long before the soil can be worked by human hands and any new plants can be put in.

Adding Dunstan Chestnut trees to your food plot can be as simple as clearing a “spot” for your tree or clear- cutting an area.  If you are planning on planting trees this fall, make sure the area is weed free by removing existing weeds or clearing a spot in your food plot so the tree doesn’t have to compete with weeds or annuals for water. Hand weed, use herbicide and or lay some ground cloth down to prevent weeds from choking out your tree.

Water is the single most important factor for tree survival. If the year you plant is like the severe drought experienced by the Midwest several summers ago, if you do not water your trees they will die. The truth is that many trees die from too little or too much water during the first few months after planting. Trees are likely to get too little water in well-drained soil and too much in soil that is poorly drained.

If you plant in the fall, water in at planting, and then 1x/week until they lose their leaves and go dormant with the onset of winter. Resume watering after leaf out in the spring. Make sure water is applied to the original root ball. Adjust water according to soil type, temperature, rainfall, and other irrigation.

It is not necessary to fertilize in the fall and in fact, we do not recommend it. Fertilizing too late in the season can cause trees to grow when they should be shutting down for the winter. This tender new growth, when pushed too late in the season is also more susceptible to winter injury.

During the first couple of years, chestnuts grow best when weeds and grass are kept away from the trunks. Also during their first few years of growth, the trunk should be protected with grow tubes. These are plastic tubes that act as mini-greenhouses that enhance the growth of young trees and give protection from the activities and feeding of deer, rabbits, and mice. They also help protect the tree from spray and drift from herbicide and offer some cold protection in late season frosts.

“Deer and other wildlife seek a variety of food types every day,” said R.D. Wallace from Chestnut Hill Outdoors. “If you’ve ever watched whitetails move through the woods, you know they stop frequently to nibble on leaves and mast. When you concentrate a variety of preferred foods in a relatively small area like a food plot and enhance it with mast-bearing trees like Dunstan Chestnuts, it creates a variety deer can’t resist. The deer are seeking the nutrition that other leafy foods do not provide. They’ll spend more time on your plot, which increases your chances of success.”

Chestnuts are chosen by deer over all other nuts because of their taste and nutrition. They are high in carbohydrates (40%), contain up to 10% high-quality protein. This provides the critical easily usable energy source over all other available foods during the Rut in the fall. Chestnuts have no bitter-tasting tannin – and a deer’s taste buds are 1,000 times as sensitive as humans. Deer prefer White Oak acorns over Red Oaks because they contain less tannin, and this is why deer prefer chestnuts over all acorn. Some Oaks can take decades to produce nuts, while the Dunstan Chestnut starts producing at 3 to 5 years!

The Dunstan Chestnut Tree is a great investment because it is an American x Chinese hybrid bred in the 1950’s by plant breeder Dr. Robert T. Dunstan, that is blight-resistant, produces early and annually. The Dunstan produces a large, sweet, easy to peel nut making it an excellent Orchardist tree for human consumption, as well as an excellent food plot tree.

We will start shipping our one-year-old Dunstan Chestnuts this fall at the end of September. The seedlings are 18 to 36″ tall shipped UPS in their pots to your doorstep. This is the perfect size/age to plant in fall, stick a grow tube on it and watch the growth begin in the Spring.

We are getting ready to ship two-year-old Dunstan Chestnuts in 3-gallon pots to specific Rural King stores. Chestnuts, Persimmons and Pear trees will be shipped to the Co-op feed Dealers this fall. Expected to arrive before or by Labor Day. A list of stores will be posted on our website and emailed to you as soon as it’s been confirmed. 

Please visit our website or call our office and ask about our Deer Candy and Deer Magnet Persimmons, Dr. Deer Pear and Thanksgiving Pear that will also be available for Spring 2018, to extend your harvest.

Visit our website: chestnuthilloutdoors.com or call our office 1-800-669-2067 for more info.

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More Habitat = More Wildlife Gary Howey

  The latest pheasant outlook for South Dakota just came out and I do not want to say it is a Doom and Gloom report, but they are indicating that the states pheasant numbers are down significantly.

  To some, especially those who do not live in the upper Midwest, those that travel a long ways to hunt the state bird may think twice about making the trip.

  Well, let me tell you, if I were those individuals, I would not let the report alter your plans as even if the numbers are down, which they could be, there are still more pheasants in South Dakota than in any two or three other states in the U.S.

   In South Dakota and other upper Midwestern states, there has been a huge acreage allocation of Conservation Reserve Plantings (CRP)  land and because of this new habitat, wildlife will not only survive, but also should eventually increase in numbers.

  In my neck of the woods, we are seeing a few more birds and the reason for that is because of the low commodity crop prices and the new CRP bill, which allows good quality land to be pulled out of production and planted to native grasses.  These fields that once produced row crops are now in the CRP program where trees and bushes are planted as well as native plants and grasses. These native grasses; Switchgrass, Indian Grass, Sedgegrass, Little Bluestem or Side Oats Grama which grow best in the heat of the summer will take longer to establish. The first year CRP plantings may look as if there are few grasses and wild flowers with a lot of weeds, but once these grasses start to grow, they will eliminate many of the weeds found in the field the first year. These grasses provide excellent wildlife habitat, giving not only pheasants, but also all wildlife a place to live.

  Some plantings are not huge, maybe just the irrigation pivot corners, while others could be a hundred acres or so, no matter what the size, every little bit helps. [Read more…]

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2 Tips For Successful Food Plots: Mowing and Broadcasting

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2 Tips For Successful Food Plots: Mowing and Broadcasting

1. Mowing Perennial Food Plots: Leave Some For the Deer

Mowing your perennials is essential if you wish to have attractive, palatable clover plots. However, you never want to mow all of your perennials at once! Always leave them something to eat. Your deer have been showing up every day for a reliable meal. If you “wipe the table clean” you run the risk of them hopping the fence to find a different source and you might not get them back. Rotate the areas you leave each time you mow so there is always a dependable meal there for your herd.

2. Broadcasting Food Plot Seed: Too Much Can Hurt

A common mistake when broadcasting seed onto a seedbed is putting it on much too thick. To ensure proper coverage, measure your area, measure the correct amount of seed and set your broadcaster lean so the seeds just start to come out. Then cover the area. Your goal should be to cover the entire area and still have seed left in the hopper. Then, go back over the same area (maybe in a different pattern) until all the seed is used up. This is the best way to ensure proper coverage with broadcasters that are not calibrated to speed or driven by the wheels turning.

For more tips on planting a successful food plot read: When Should You Plant Your Food Plot? When to plant can be just as important as what to plant. For example, a hunter in northern Minnesota who wants an all brassica blend should try to plant toward the end of July. On the other hand, a hunter in the deep South wouldn’t plant the same blend until late September.

 
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Getting The Most Out Of Your Clover Food Plots

Most companies will claim a lifespan of three to five years on their perennials. However, if you care for them properly a perennial stand can last for many years. Perennials like red and white clovers, alfalfa, trefoils and chicory provide dependable nutrition and attraction and are especially important for antler growth, fawn rearing and early hunting season attraction. If you decide to plant a perennial like Non-Typical Clover just follow these words of advice to get the most out of your food plot.

Test Your Soil

It is always beneficial to get a soil test done before you begin. The soil that you begin with will be significant in how long your perennials will last. The pH of your soil needs to be fairly neutral (6.2 to 7.5) if you want longevity from your stand. If you have acidic soil (or a low pH) it doesn’t mean that you can’t grow perennials, it just means that you need to incorporate some lime into the soil to raise the pH and reduce the acidity. With an initially neutral pH a perennial stand can grow-on for eight to ten years or more.

Mowing Clover Food Plots

Perennials should be mowed periodically during the growing season (at least three times). Mowing not only helps to keep broadleaf weeds and grasses at bay, but it also promotes new, more attractive, palatable growth on your perennials. Many people want to plant perennials, because they believe they will be less work since you only plant them once and they last for years but perennials actually need more “tractor time” than annuals. Perennials are less expensive for the production that you receive, but with the maintenance required they will take a bit more work than annuals if you wish to do it right.

Using Herbicide On Clover

In most regions of the country you may also find the need to treat your stand with a clover safe herbicide. Mowing will usually take care of broadleaf weeds, but in severe cases there may also be selective herbicides that will deal with the broadleaf problem, depending upon what type of plants are in your perennial stand. There are numerous brands of grass herbicides that will work over perennial blends like Clover Plus or Non-Typical. If you have questions, contact a habitat consultant at http://www.plantbiologic.com.

Fertilizer Your Clover

It is also important, if you want longevity from your perennials, to feed them from time to time. It’s best to fertilize with what your soil test results recommend. Most often the best fertilizer for clover will recommend around 300 lbs of 0-20-20 per acre annually. Many choose to fertilize at planting time and then during the spring annually thereafter. Some also believe that a boost of potassium during the late summer in the North, or early fall in the South, can increase cold hardiness of the stand. About 200-250 lbs of 0-0-60 per acre should suffice.

For more tips and tricks on caring for your food plots check out “7 Tips To Keep Weeds Under Control”. We know the most common problems in food plots, especially perennials, is weed competition. Weeds rob your plot of essential nutrients, water, and root space. Learn how to keep weeds under control.

 
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Deer Food Plot Tips : Creating Visual Barriers

Have you ever had a really nice food plot that the deer just didn’t seem to use that much, especially during the daylight? One really easy way to encourage whitetails to use a food source is making them feel safe by planting a food plot screen like BioLogic Blind Spot. The older age class of both bucks and does can be really shy of big, open fields or food plots that are void of close cover. Here are a few suggestions you can try to make your food plots as effective as possible.

  1. Creating Screens For Increased Daylight Activity

Create a screen around the perimeter of the plot or areas that allow the plot to be seen by a road or neighbors. We have seen great results from using tall growing blends like Blind Spot to create a transition zone from woods and thickets where the deer are coming from and the food plot. Planting a screen around the field can really help the deer have a b3 Beetter feeling of security and encourage daytime use. If you have plots that are easily seen by a neighboring property or public road, plant a screen to shield the view. You’ll be amazed how the deer know when they can’t be seen.

  1. Hide Your Stand Approach With Tall Varieties

Use blends like Blind Spot or Whistle Back to create a hidden path to your stand. We have all had one of those stands that was in a great spot for an afternoon hunt, but almost impossible to get to without being spotted. The 8-12 ft tall variety of sorghum in Blind Spot can make a great covered path to get you to your stand un-noticed. Just a tractor width wide planting is all it takes. [Read more…]

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Establishing Spring Food Plots

With spring in full swing and the woods coming to life after a long winter hiatus, the opportunities for improving habitat for wildlife are numerous. If you live in the south, the soil temperature is ripe for planting, and the Midwest and north are not far behind. If you have had problems in the past establishing spring and summer plots for your deer because of over browsing and high deer numbers, trying to time your planting to coincide with spring green up can be a big advantage. Whitetails love the fresh growth that the woods and thickets explode with during that first few weeks of green up. There is no other time of year when there is such an overwhelming amount of fresh browse

from such a variety of plants. This explosion of vast amounts of new food throughout the woods can take a lot of pressure off of your plots and give them a chance to get some established growth that is more tolerant of browse pressure. It can be hard to realize that you can plant warm season plots like BioLogic’s LabLab or BioMass All Legume this early in the year, but once the threat of frost is gone and soil temperatures warm up to the upper 50’s, it is game on. Also remember to try BioLogic’s Plot Protector kit, this is what I rely on to make sure our plots get established and feed our deer for the entire summer.

 

 

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Managing Whitetails with Minerals: Easy & Effective

Managing Whitetails with Minerals: Easy & Effective very simple but favorite management chore of mine in the spring is establishing new mineral sites. The anticipation of what might show up that year as the antlers begin to develop is always super high. I have even found myself in the past few years putting out mineral rocks and supplements in urban landscapes and backyard woodlots just to see what deer frequent the area even though I have no intention of hunting there. Creating new mineral sites can be especially exciting when you have a new piece of ground to investigate and see what deer are living there and what the potential of the area is. Refreshing old mineral sites or creating new ones is also a good family and kid friendly management activity. It doesn’t require any heavy equipment or long hours, and can be a great way to help teach kids some woodsmanship along the way and why whitetails use mineral licks.

So how do you establish a productive mineral site? It may seem as simple as pouring it in a depression you dig up with your boot or throwing a Bio Rock out on the edge of a food plot. These scenarios will work to a degree, but I like to put a little more thought and effort into my mineral sites and try to get the most out of them in terms of attraction, utilization, and trail camera use for getting an inventory on the deer that are using the area as well as identifying bucks through unique characteristics. [Read more…]