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Food Plots Doing it Right by Gary Howey, Josh Anderson & Mitchell Sudbeck

  With the weather as cold as it is, you may not be thinking about food plots and minerals licks.       When in fact, this is the perfect time to think about them as this is the time of the year when it may be too cold to go ice fishing or calling predators, yet it is the perfect time to go on line and learn about how and when to put them in.

  My web site www.outdoorsmenadventures.com contains those from Mossy Oak Biologic, which have valuable information on foodplots, as do the numerous You Tube videos.

  I have hunted over food plots throughout the United States and Canada. I believe when temperatures start to drop and other food sources are buried under the winter snow that this is when foodplots are most important and needed.

  Food plots, if planted properly and there year round, spring, summer fall and winter, give wildlife-needed food especially after the crops are gone.

  As most of you know, the rut is hard on deer, especially the bucks as they are running all over the country, looking for receptive does and fighting any-and-all bucks they run into. This consumes much of their energy and body fat, that which is needed to survive the winter months.

  If food plots are available during the winter after the rut, they give all deer, especially the bucks; help to survive the long cold nights ahead.

  Winter is also hard on the does and fawns and any additional food they get will help the pregnant does to have healthy fawns and those fawns to make it to spring.

 No matter what mass merchandiser catalogs, web site, sporting goods store or sporting goods department you look at or are in, you are going to see tons of food plot seed.

  I have tried numerous brands and varieties, all which have worked, but some were better than others were.

  I let the deer, turkeys tell me what they liked best, With the game cameras we have out, it became apparent the deer and turkey in the area I hunt during the spring and summer like rye, clover, rape, chicory and oats. In the fall, I plant my fall and winter foodplots to wheat, beans, Brassica, corn or Milo as many of these are not covered up with snow and still available to wildlife above the snow cover.

  I am not saying others will not work; those I mentioned seemed to do the best job of feeding turkey, deer and other critters during different seasons.

  There are several things to consider before establishing a food plot including time of planting, rainfall, location and soil type.

  From what I’ve read and planted, there are two ideal times to plant a foodplot  depending on the Spring weather spring would March 1 through May 15 is a good time to put foodplots in the spring and in the fall it would be August 1 through September 1.

  Some folks believe that the area they is not large enough for a food plot, no true, as even the smaller food plots are beneficial to some wildlife. On the other hand, they might think the area they would like to put a food plot would be too hard to get into.

  If you have access to an ATV or UTV, like the Honda Pioneer I use, you have the biggest part of the problem solved as they can get into some very tight areas.  You do not have to look far to find here are a manufacture that makes the pull behind equipment needed to put in a food plot. If you do not have a four-wheeler, there are other options available.

  My smallest food plot, which was in close proximity to several other larger plots was one twenty yards wide and forty yards long, not really all that accessible to larger equipment, so we put in with a garden tiller and my Honda Pioneer and as small as it was, it was one of my most productive plots.

  Where you plant a food plot is important, as the location you choose is a very big factor when it comes to its success. If you want to establish one to hunt over, of course, you will want it within clear view and close proximity to your stand or deer house.

  If you are planting a plot to feed deer, increase body size, promote overall herd health and improve their antler mass, select a site that is isolated. A secluded, undisturbed area will draw more wildlife to the plot, allowing wildlife to travel to and from it without fear.  

  They work best if they are close to the animals travel route and close to cover, making it easier for them to get to the food plot without using up a lot of energy. Deer, especially the bucks can be in tough shape after the rut and the less distance they travel to get nourishment the better. The same goes for turkeys, if they need to come out into the open in order to get to food, they are more visible and easier for prey to find.

  Establishing a food plot does take some time, but if done correctly, the work you put into it is rewarding.

Below, you will find some of the things I did when I established my foodplots.

Soil Testing

  The first thing and perhaps the most important thing you will need to know is the fertility of the soil; to do this, take a soil test, as it  lets you know what nutrients and PH you need to add.  I picked up my soil test kits from our local Central Valley Ag in town and had them test the sample, that way I knew what I should incorporate into the soil in order to make it successful.

Seed Selection

  Seed selection is very important, as you want to make sure the seed you are planting is one that will grow well up north and tolerate our winter temperatures.

   Numerous companies including Mossy Oak Biologic, Hunter’s Specialties, Whitetail Institute, Tecomate,  Evolved Habitats and others all offer the seed type that grows best in your area.        

Weed Control

 Weeds could be your biggest problem and killing them first, will be an important step towards getting your food plot off to a good start.

  On all my plots, the first thing I did was to spray them with Roundup using a hand, backpack or a sprayer mounted on my Pioneer.

Site Preparation

  Next, you will need to prepare the site using a tiller on the smaller plots or a disk and harrow on the larger plots and then to drag it, creating a smooth seedbed.

  Once you have a smooth seedbed, it is not a bad idea to let things settle down for ten to fourteen days to see if new weeds l appear and then reapply your  herbicide as needed. Once you re-spray, hold off for a week to ten days before planting your seed.

  Fertilizer Application

When you establish foodplots properly in areas where deer’s travel, they will visit and feed there. If there are several trails that intersect, that the deer use to get to and from your foodplot, it is an ideal place to hang a deer stand. (Josh Anderson Photo)

  Once the ground is prepared, is the time to apply fertilizer spreading it, depending on the size of the foodplot with a hand spreader or one mounted on your four-wheeler? You will want to make sure you get all of the clods broken up, making for a smooth seedbed.                                                                           

 Planting

Next, you will want to spread your seed using a hand or four-wheeler spreader. When seeding, be sure to plant in two directions as it helps to make sure you to cover the entire plot.

  Then, work the seeds into the soil, do not make the mistake many hunters and that I have made, burying the seed too deep, as smaller seeds such as clover, Brassica or chicory only need to be planted a ¼” deep. Smaller seeds have less packed into them and need to germinate and get to the surface to grow, unlike the larger seed, which you can bury up to 1/2″ deep

  Then it is time to pack the soil for a firm seedbed, done by using a log, wood pallet, heavy drag, or cultipacker.

  As the plot grows, depending on what you planted there could be some maintenance involved, as crops such as of clover or alfalfa in order to make them more palatable to the deer needs to be clipped to promote the fresh growth

               Mineral Supplements

  If you are going to all the trouble to put in a foodplots, why not put in a mineral lick. If you think putting out a salt block that you have given deer all the minerals they need, think again. Sure salt will attract deer, but does not contain what the bucks and does need to prosper.  When a buck’s antler hardens, it is made up of 30 to 35% calcium and phosphorus, so why not put out a supplement that contains these two nutrients. The does will also in need of a higher amount of minerals for milk production to feed their fawns. I have used RAKS minerals for years and have seen the overall size of the bucks’ increase as well as the herd looking better.

  You do not want to pitch the mineral on the ground, cut away the grass and weeds and mix it into the dirt as the deer are used to digging for it. 

  I have had some mineral licks that are tore up shortly after I put them in and others look as if the deer had paid very little attention to them.  If the deer in your area do not need the minerals they will leave it alone and when they need them dig deep to get at it.  At different times of the year, deer will require more minerals, and because of this, your mineral licks may show very little sign of use in some months and a lot in others. It is a good Idea to redo and freshen up your mineral licks from time to time, having it out there when the deer decide they need it.

  Things may not happen as quickly as you would wish with your foodplot and mineral lick, do not panic, give it time and it will take off and be there when you and wildlife need it.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                               

 

 

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Advantages Of Supplemental Feeding Deer

Nutrition For Your Deer Herd

Providing a year-round source of nutrition for your whitetail herd is very important. Inadequate nutrition leads to weight loss, poor conception rates, lower fawn survival, increased susceptibility to disease…and where it counts to some gamekeepers most – poor antler development and increased mortality rates. Food plots can be vital to a nutrition program, there’s no way a gamekeeper can supply the amount or quality of food than by planting food plots. However, many managers have a difficult time supplying a year-round food source, especially during the winter in the north or in areas where you simply cannot supply enough acreage for the amount of mouths you have to feed.

Providing The Best Nutrients For Antler Growth

Antler growth begins in February and runs through September, but during peak months, mineral deposition exceeds mineral intake so bucks must build up reserves prior to summer. Having a supplemental feed that provides these nutrients is crucial if you wish for your herd to reach its potential.  Even if you have ample acreage in food plots, many choose to supplement their herd all year to ensure they receive everything they need to flourish. It’s very important, however, that you stay committed to your feeding program if you wish to see noticeable results. [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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Improving Perennials for Early Season Whitetail

 

A lush and healthy perennial plot can be the perfect ambush site on early-season whitetails. If you have some good perennial fields such as clover, chicory, or alfalfa, here are some things you can do to get them sweetened up for that perfect 20-yard shot.

Fertilize for a Burst of Growth

A good dose of fertilizer just before the season can really help your clover take off and get that nice burst of growth when the moisture and cool temperatures from the early fall start coming in. A no nitrogen fertilizer such as 0-20–20 is perfect for legumes, clover and alfalfa. [Read more…]

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Getting The Most Out Of Your Clover Food Plots

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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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IT’S SPRING TIME, TO GET YOUR MINERAL LICKS STARTED!

M.O.-Game Keepers (1)A 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…]

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GET AHEAD OF THE GAME

By this time of the year, most everyone’s hunting season is over or starting to wind down and not many guys are thinking about growing plots or feeding their deer. With some cold and nasty weather still possible for the next few weeks, it’s a great time to sit down and start planning for the upcoming growing season. There may be some things you thought of while sitting in your deer stand this fall that you would like to accomplish on the property you manage. One of the first things I like to do in      February and March is pull soil samples on my plots and get them sent in to see if I need to add any lime and see what fertilizer will be needed for my warm season annuals that will be planted in late April/early May. If you had soil samples taken this fall you will already have an idea of where your plots are in needing lime or nutrients. Have an up to date sample of the areas you plant to plant this spring and if the ph is low, have lime spread in the late winter/early spring. This will give the ag lime time to start working on the soil for your spring/summer plots and also those fields that are left fallow through the summer and are typically only planted in the fall. Depending on the size of the screen that the lime is run through at the quarry, the granular consistency of ag lime can take several months to break down and begin to neutralize the acidity in your soil. [Read more…]