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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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Now you see it Now you don’t By Gary Howey

As legal shooting time begun to fade, the Mule deer buck came out about three hundred yards down in the draw.

My camera operator who zoomed in on the deer earlier indicated it was a good buck, pulling my 25:06 up to my shoulder; I put the cross-hairs near the top of the buck and fired. The buck did not flinch; I jacked another round into the chamber adjusted my scope, fired and when the round hit, the deer hunched up, but refused to go down.

I slid another round into the chamber, adjusted my aim a bit and fired. The buck jumped up into the air, crashed on his right side, kicked a few times, and was down for the count.

We celebrated for just a moment as I headed to the truck to grab my knife, and cleaning gear parked among a group of cedars not far away from the blind.   Before I could get what I needed my videographer hollered, “The deer is gone”. What, it just couldn’t be as I was sure I had hit him twice and put him down for good.

I arrived in Lynch Thursday around noon where I met with my videographer at Ponca Creek Outfitters. It was the end of the week of our Nebraska rifle deer season and there were only three and a half days before the 2017 season closed.

My videographer had been in the area for four or five days rifle hunting and took a nice older whitetail 4 X 4 and after tagging, his buck was scouting the area while looking to fill his archery tag. He had seen numerous deer, both Whitetail and Mule deer bucks, but did not want to shoot a young deer, so he passed on them as his archery tag was good through the end of the year.

While he was hunting, he scouted the area thoroughly, so he knew where the blinds where and had a good idea as to where the deer where bedded.

The first afternoon found us perched on a hill in a blind overlooking an area where several Cedar and Buck brush lined draws came together.

As the sun started to slip away under the horizon, several does with fawns came out and started grazing in the Buck brush.  We were still in the first Rut and I thought because all the does we were seeing, that a buck would be hanging around close by, but as the last half hour after sunset came to a close, nothing appeared; we headed back to the cabin.

The following morning are plan was to set up on a ridge overlooking the Ponca Creek, hoping to catch a buck running around looking for a receptive doe. My videographer had sat there one morning and spotted several deer including a nice buck. He circled the area, getting downwind from the deer trying to get close enough for a shot with his bow. Unfortunately, one of the does the buck was pursuing may have spotted him and they spooked.

We had a great vantage point as we had a large open area below us, with the creek meandering down through the bottom with a huge expanse of open pasture behind it.

On this set, we were unable to see any deer, which was not a good sign as this was during the Rut and if the bucks were not out chasing, it could mean that the first Rut was winding down, which would make hunting tougher.

Later that afternoon, we worked from pasture to pasture using our binoculars to try to locate a buck in an area where we might have the opportunity to do a spot and stalk. We saw but one buck, a good one, but he spotted us coming up the hill and charged out of the pasture up over several hills, never to be seen again.

On my final day, the heavy winds returned, and if it would be, anything like our last windy day would keep deer movement to a minimum. That morning, we went to the north side of the property, setting up in a blind on wide plateau where several deer trails converged up from the draws, all crossing well within rifle range of our blind. Once again, there was no deer movement and for our evening hunt, we would have to find a location where the deer would have the ability to get out of the wind.

Once again, we would be in the hilltop blind above the heavily wooded Cedar draw where we had seen a good number of does the day before. [Read more…]

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Scent Trail Techniques: Fooling Mature Bucks

When leaving a scent trail in a straight line you’ve only got a fifty-fifty chance the buck will follow the trail in your direction. Half of the time they follow it in the wrong direction, even with a real doe’s trail. They’re searching for the “goodies” at the end of the trail so even if they do follow it in the wrong direction, when they get to where you started the trail and don’t find what they’re looking for, sometimes they’ll follow it back in your direction. It might not happen immediately; a buck may come back several hours later and follow the trail back the opposite way. In fact, some bucks will go back and forth several times on a scent trail, so if a buck crosses your trail and heads the wrong way, don’t give up hope

Figure 8 Scent Trail

A cure-all for this problem is a figure-8 scent trail. Create your scent trail in a large figure 8 and place yourself downwind of the intersection of the 8. This way regardless of where the buck cuts the trail or which way he follows it, eventually he’ll wind up in front of you. You have to use your judgment; this may or may not be the best way for you to leave a trail.  Maybe you’ll make too much of a commotion or contaminate the area too much with human scent to make this tactic work properly, but this method has fooled mature bucks time and time again. [Read more…]

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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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Don’t Be Afraid to Try New things My First Deer Hunt By Gary Howey

  Deer hunting has always been something that enthralled me; one of those adventures I had heard and read about, but never had the pleasure of getting out and doing.

  The main reason I did not know much about deer hunting was that my Dad did not have a rifle and so there was, no way we could hunt deer.

  When I returned from Viet Nam and moved to Nebraska, I loved the outdoors, but not into it like I am know and I did not know many people who hunted deer so it took me a few years to get into it.

  When my opportunity to hunt deer came about, I was on the road selling parts for the Ford dealership in Norfolk, NE. and editing and producing my newspaper The Outdoorsmen. Being on the road and calling on repair and body shops gave me the opportunity to meet some great people with similar interests as me.

  One of those was Gary Fredericks who ran the Verdigre Body Shop. Over the years, we became good friends and we often talked about the outdoors and deer hunting.

  Then, one year, he asked if I would like to deer hunt the following year with him as he and some of his friends hunted deer between Verdigre and Lynch, NE.

  The sentence was verily out of his mouth when I answered “You Bet” I would love to, but, there was one problem, I did not have a rifle and with a family, really did not have the funds to go out and purchase one.
  No big deal, I would figure it out as I had almost a year before the hunt. I started checking into the cost of a rifle and the person to talk with, as he was one of the big deer hunters in Hartington, Steve Samelson who owned a body shop as well as a small gun shop.

  I kept stopping by; talking with him about what caliber to use and what loads would be the best. Steve knew his stuff when it came to rifles, ammunition and deer hunting as he had hunted deer a long time.

  After several visits I started asking about cost, what rifle would work best as I planned to hunt other game including antelope as well as predators.

  He suggested I go with a .243, as there were both light and heavier loads available for the rifle, which made it versatile. Then we got down to the nitty-gritty, what I could afford to spend on a rifle.

  I had a plan as to how I would pay for the rifle, which was to take on an extra job on weekends and after work at the pheasant preserve outside of town.

  Steve said that I could put a little down and make monthly payment until I had the rifle paid for and if all went according to my plan should be no problem.

  I ended up purchasing a Winchester BDL .243 set up with a Redfield Wide Angle 3 X 9 scope equipped with see through sight scope mounts.

  I paid a little each month and as the deer season approached, it appeared as if I would not have it paid off before the season.

  Fortunately, for me, Steve understood, allowing me take the rifle before I had it paid for and I had two weeks before the season to zero in the rifle and be ready for opening morning.

  Opening day could not come soon enough for me and as the opener got closer, I counted the hours, minutes and seconds until the rifle deer season opened.

  The evening before the season, the Fredericks allowed me to spend the night at their house in Verdigre, a night where I got very little sleep, as I was not about to miss my first deer hunt.

  Opening morning, we headed out to Gary’s hunting partners place and sat down to a breakfast fit for a king and his court. The meal included; three kinds of meat, eggs, breakfast potatoes, toast, rolls, juice, milk and coffee. I thought, if a breakfast is served like this before every deer hunt, “I was in.”

  After breakfast, everyone prepared to head out to the locations where they had taken deer in prior years, which meant, that I the “new guy” hunted by myself in an area I had never seen before.

  Besides having to head out into the field, in pitch-black darkness in a part of the state I had never set foot on before, I had not been out of the Army very long and was still a little jumpy, especially in the dark coming into a new area. 

  The landowners’ wife was nice enough to drive me out to the ridge I was to hunt, where she told me to cross the fence and head west towards the creek. As I worked my way along the ridge through a huge expanse of buck brush, I thought to myself, how I am going to find the creek in the dark, and hopefully it would not be by not falling into it.

  I was about a third of the way when I made a detour around a huge plum brush and as I neared the end, all hell broke loose, as a covey of quail came up all around me sounding like fifty birds taking flight in every direction. I about jumped out of my skin as I went in the air, turned a compete circle, landing in a mess of cactus nearby.

  After settling down and pulling what cactus quills I could from my legs, I figured it was not going to do me much good to walk in the dark all the way across the ridge.  I did not want to spook any more wildlife and would not be able to see any deer in the dark, so I sat down waiting sunup. [Read more…]

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Team Outdoorsmen Adventures Member Marlyn Wiebelhaus By Gary Howey

Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member and guide Marlyn Wiebelhaus, Wynot, NE. spends hundreds of hour s in the outdoors with his bow in pursuit of deer, turkey, antelope and elk.

When not in the field with his bow, he out bow fishing for rough fish including the high-flying silver, grass carp, bighead carp, gar and paddlefish.

He has taken Pope and Young deer and is the holder of numerous bowfishing records in Nebraska and South Dakota.Pic-Marlyin's Gar

Recently he connected with a huge 52 inch, 19 pound long nose gar while bowfishing on the Missouri River.

If you are interested in bow hunting for deer or turkey, bowfishing on the Missouri in northeast Nebraska and bowfishing on the Jim River in southeastern South Dakota, you can call Marlyn at Wiebelhaus guide Service at www.wiebelhausguiding.com or contact him at 402-357-2389 [Read more…]