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Conservation Organizations Supporters of Wildlife By Gary Howey

What do local Whitetails Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, Quail Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation have in common?

They are all conservation organizations that support wildlife, habitat as well as numerous other programs, working hard to promote hunting and conservation.

With the greater population of the United States becoming urbanized, with less people living in our rural areas, people are becoming disconnected with the land and the outdoors.

Hunting has always been an American tradition, helping to put food on the table, an opportunity for friends and families to spend time together and to celebrate the great outdoors. [Read more…]


4 Steps For A Successful Spring Food Plot

The spring and summer months are critical when it comes to herd health. By providing a consistent, high-protein food source, whitetails will have their best chance for reaching their full genetic potential. Below are 4 key steps to help you grow a successful spring food plot this year. 

Step 1: Know Your Dirt
If you haven’t recently taken a soil test to know where your pH level is or if you are in need of soil nutrients, get it done. Knowing the characteristics of the soil not only helps determine the most productive species to plant but gives land managers the information needed to properly amend the soil ensuring a successful , nutritious food plot. Soil tests through the BioLogic lab are fast, simple, and inexpensive. Choose the crop you are planning to plant, and you will receive fertilizer recommendations specific to that crop and your soil.

STEP 2: Determining the Right Seed Blend
Where you live can help you determine what you need to plant. For the North/Midwest perennials and annuals can both be planted in the spring. If you have plots you want to plant with cool season annuals late in the summer, choose an annual to plant this spring. If you would like a perennial crop like clover, alfalfa, or chicory you can get them started this spring. Non-Typical Clover is one of our top producing perennials. For the South, warm season annuals are the ideal spring planting, Lablab or one of the new Protein Pea blends are perfect for providing attraction and nutrition through the growing months. To help you choose the best seed for your area search BioLogic’s Planting Guide.

STEP 3: Controlling Food Plot Weeds
Food plots overtaken with weeds is one of the top reasons for crop failure. Many of these blends can be sprayed with specific herbicides with great results. Weeds and grasses need to be identified early in the growing cycle and sprayed with the appropriate herbicide for best results. Weed Reaper grass herbicide can be used to eliminate grasses from all clover, warm season legumes, and chicory. Imazamox is a great broadleaf weed herbicide for use in legumes and pre-emergent herbicides. Also utilizing metolachlor works great on many common warm season blends like Protein Pea Plus that contains peas, beans, sunflowers and sorghum. [Read more…]


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.                                                                           


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.










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…]


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…]


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…]


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

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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.




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.




Understanding Soils: Grow Better Food Plots

M.O.-Game Keepers (1)With the late summer food plot planting season in full swing in the north right now and the rest of the country soon to follow, the questions are pouring in on what type of fertilizer to use and what your soil sample means. Here are some quick tips to help you understand what you need for your plot.

Fertilizer and lime recommendations can be confusing. All the different numbers and suggestions can really make it difficult to understand what your soil and crop needs to perform its best.

1. Soil pH
Soil pH is the first thing you need to get right. Although some crops are more tolerant of acidic soils than others, your plot will perform best with a pH of 6.5-7.0. Lime is relatively inexpensive and is really important for successful plots. For perspective, a plot with a pH of 5.5 is 10 times more acidic than one at 6.5. Over 50% of fertilizer added to a plot with a 5.5 pH is wasted because it is not able to be used by the plants. 1-2 tons per acre of ag lime is very common to get your plots where they need to be. [Read more…]