A blog dedicated to the Missouri Whitetail Hunter

Archive for September, 2012

Brassicas: The Ultimate Fall/Winter Food Source

Now, I’m not that serious of a food plot guy… yet. I mean, yes I plant one here and there. It might have some success, but not a whole lot. The thing is I don’t have the resources right now to really be 100% devoted to managing a plot all year round. Mostly due to me being at school 9 months out of the year. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m talking about. Being a bio major, I look at things a little differently. I like to ask why deer might prefer this forage over that, and what it is about that forage that helps the deer on a biological level. Not just, “oh if a buck eats this his antlers are gonna get bigger.”. I don’t see it like that. I wanna know what it is about that plant that allows a deer to reach that genetic potential, and what is occurring in his body to make that happen.

Well when I first heard about brassicas, these were the questions I asked myself. I wanted to know why this plant was becoming so popular with food plot fanatics. So like any “good” college student, I did my homework. Did some reading on the plant and found some interesting stuff about it.

The Brassica is a genus of the mustard family. It is closely related to the turnip and other types of cabbages. It has large broad leaves that can get extremely large when not grazed on. It develops a turnip head down below the soil that can grow extremely large, depending on the species you’re dealing with. The thing about these plants that make them so popular with whitetail hunters. Is they are a little bit more heartier than other forages, which allows them to stay greener longer and be hunted over longer.

But I wanted to know why deer liked these plants so much later in the year. Bill Winke on Midwest Whitetails talks repeatedly about how the deer pound these products good in the fall, but really hit them after a few frosts. Then it hit me. It’s just like many other plants, such as a lot of vegetables that we grow in our gardens. Have you ever had peas before they’re actually ready to be harvested? They’re bitter and nasty. The same thing happens with brassicas. You see the pea plant is harvested after the plant has hit a certain air temperature and triggers mechanisms in the plant to draw sugars out of the roots, and into the peas themselves. Giving them a sweet taste. That’s what happens to the brassicas. After a few colder temps hit them, a trigger is set off in the plant and sends the sugars in the large turnip head up into the leaves, changing the chemical composition of the leaves. This is what the deer love about it. It’s got a sweeter taste that to them is more palatable. The deer feed on this after much of the forage has already turned brown and died. Which is what makes brassicas such a wonderful fall and winter food source for whitetails.

It’s not just in the fall that deer like these plants either. Into the winter months when times are harsh, and food sources are thin. The deer will dig into the earth and eat the turnip portion of the plant. Which still has plenty of sugars left in it. Too me the winter months are crucial to growing trophy whitetails. A lot gets sucked out of a deer in these months, if he doesn’t have good enough resources to live off of in the winter. Minerals such as calcium are taken from the bones, along with vitamins and protein from muscle tissue. If poorly fed through the winter a deer can lose a lot of weight, jsut from feeding off of itself. When spring rolls around, depending on how much has been zapped out of the deer. He’s going to have to recover and regain all that he lost in the winter. If he’s ate good and been taken care of through the winter, it’s going to take less to get him back on track. Hopefully you see my point.

Now brassicas are not only loved by deer, they’re extremely good for them as well. These plants are planted in late August and early September, so they’re not really a part of your summer food plot program. But they still have a large amount of nutritional benefit for the deer. Besides a great plot program is a year round thing, not just a spring and summer commitment. They supply a large amount of carbohydrates and proteins. Which during the rut are highly crucial and need to be available in large quantities for the entire herd.

Overall I can understand why brassicas are in high demand during the fall months. Any hunter that hunts over food plots should get their hands on this forage and get it in the ground.

Here are the planting instructions for brassicas, via Food Plot Resources (foodplotresources.com)

Longevity:Less than 6 months of grazing time

Adaptation Zone:Entire Eastern U.S. and Plains. Excels as a winter plot option from the upper South into Canada.

Seeding Rate:4 lbs/acre (5-6 lbs/acre creates a denser forage canopy which can help decrease weed and grass growth).

Seeding Date:Deep South (September-October); Central (late August-September), North (August-September).

Soil Requirement:Most soil types are adequate

Sunlight Requirement:Medium-high

Seeding Depth:1/4 – 1/2 inch

Soil pH:5.0-8.0 (6.5-7.5 is ideal)

Fertilizer Requirement:Medium-high (nitrogen, phoshorous and potoassium)

Palatability:High (especially after using for consecutive years)

Browsing Tolerance:Low

Average Seed Price
(per acre):Rape $7; Purple Top Turnips $10; Improved Forage Turnips $14; Brassica varieties (rarely carried in retail stores).

Herbicide Options:Poast will kill grass.


The Truth About Scrapes & The Missing Ingredient

This is kind of a spin off of my post the other day about scents. But today I’m going to go into the detail about the scrape and how the whitetail deer actually uses it as a communication tool.

The scrape is a puzzling thing in the world of whitetails. A bare spot of ground that is almost like the community bathroom. But in a deers eyes it’s the complete opposite of a bathroom. The scrape in the deer world is the night club/bar of their social life. It’s where bucks hangout, set up pecking orders, and hand out their business cards. It is the top place for whitetail communication. You see deer actually use scrapes year round, it’s just that in the fall and during the rut is when they heavily use them. But I’ve seen pictures of deer scent checking old scrapes in March before, it’s just not as frequently used or seen.

Deer interpret their world and their social life through their nose. You see does have a summer schedule that’s different from a bucks. The main reason bucks join together in the summer and for bachelor groups is to familiarize themselves with the competition. They are studying their opponents from how they look to how they smell. They have an instinctive need to find out who is dominant and who is subordinate.

You see there is an aspect of the scrape that is heavily overlooked by hunters, one of the most important aspects. I’ve seen hunters hunt over natural scrapes and I’ve seen hunters hunt over man made. Both with some success, but it’s the ones that pay attention to the minor details of the man made scrapes that have almost 100% chance of success while in the field. You see a man made scrape will bring a buck in… but just one time. Let’s say you clear the ground and make the scrape flawlessly and you put just the right doe urine on the ground, along with a dominant buck urine. Now you sit over that scrape and hunt it. Now a buck might or might not come in, either way a buck is probably going to come in to the scrape just once. To investigate the scent of urine that he’s smelling. But the main reason a mature buck will only come to that scrape once is that key ingredient I was talking about earlier.

If you’ve ever watched a buck work a scrape. He paws the ground, might pee a little, and he rubs his antlers and forehead on an over hanging limb. There isn’t a whitetail scrape on this planet that doesn’t have some kind of over hanging licking branch. That branch is a where a buck deposits his preorbital gland scent. this comes from a gland that’s directly in front of the deers eye. An aspect of a mock scrape that will make or break it is that preorbital gland. When used on a licking branch, it can be extremely deadly for a mature whitetail. You see this is going to make a mature buck believe your scrape is real, and he’s gonna want to know who made it. He’s going to hang around in that area, checking that scrape and making others. He wants to meet this new comer, to decide where he fits in the pecking order. The use of preorbital gland lure on a mock scrape can turn that scrape into a community scrape, and a productive tool for a hunter in mere days.

I hope this helps you and you can find it useful next time you plan to create a mock scrape to hunt over.


Deer Scents and the Nuttiness Behind Them

I’ve been looking up some stuff on deer pee. I got curious one night on which brand was “the best”. Dug up some interesting stuff. These mass produced urines sit on the shelf in a store for a long time before they are purchased. They start to break down, turning rancid and becoming blackish in color. Alcohol or some other type of preservative is added to try and keep the urine fresh. The urine is spoiling on the shelf and will not fool a mature, rutting Whitetail. But the ad says “Collected from a single doe during the peak of the rut.” This leads the buyer to believe that this urine is fresh and full of pheromones – not so. Can you imagine how many does would have to be available for collection during the 24 hour peak of estrous? This is simply not possible. There’s millions of little bottles of doe pee sitting on the shelves of American stores. do you really think there’s that many does on deer farms across the US to fill all those bottles. Anyways…

What are pheromones? Pheromones are a live product that are secreted from the doe, which signal to the buck that she is ready to be bred at the time of ovulation. The buck can detect pheromones when he does a flaming curl. A flaming curl forces the air that the buck inhales into smaller passages in his naval cavity, an area where the live pheromones can be detected by the buck. When a buck smells live pheromones, he will do whatever he can to get near the doe in estrous.

When a buck is looking for a doe in estrous, he is first looking for a good amount of doe urine. Does do urinate a lot more when in estrous. Once the buck finds a doe urinating frequently, he goes to the spot of heavy urination, puts his nose into the puddle and inhales deeply. Then, doing a flaming curl, he is able to determine if the doe is ready to stand for breeding. If you are using a 1.5 ounce bottle of old, rancid urine you are fooling no one. The urine is not fresh and you are not using enough to simulate a doe in estrous. Therefore probably not filling your tag with a mature trophy buck.

You see when you walk past a pizza shop, what do you smell? Pizza. What does a deer smell? He smells tomatoes, peperoni, the seasoning on the peperoni, cheese, the flour used in the dough, etc. You get my point. We as hunters all know that deer have an excellent sense of smell. But most hunter don’t know how good it really is. You see deer have about 296 million receptors in their nose. As opposed to a dog with 220 million and humans with 5-6 million. So when you put that little bottle of doe pee on a scrape this fall. What do you think a buck is gonna smell? He’s gonna smell the little drop of 100% doe pee yes, but he’s gonna also smell the preservatives added as well.

There’s been a few people looking into this problem and there’s been some advances that might actually just work. The biggest I could find was deer farmers collecting the pee and immediately freezing it. This stops the break down of the pee and the reproduction of bacteria in the pee. Which causes it to smell like ammonia and extremely unnatural. But it also preserves the pheromones. Which when a deer smells something unnatural we all know they avoid that area or book it in the other direction. The only problem I see with this natural frozen product. Is that I don’t think there’s enough supply to keep up with today’s demanding hunting industry.

Another advancement that has been around for quite a few years is the product Buck Bomb. I myself have actually had success with this product. If you don’t know it’s an aerosol can of all natural doe urine. The sealed off can keeps the urine from coming in contact with fresh air and causing the urine to spoil. You can lock the spray nozzle down and cover a lot of area, along with misting the air with the scent. Or spray it here and there. It’s a reliable product that I’d recommend for hunters on a budget. They have a wide variety of deer urines to use from pre-rut into the rut.

I just thought I’d bring this info up to you guys. Way I figure it, deer hunting is a sport of odds. The more you’re in the woods the better odds you have. The better prepared you are for your hunt and the more you actually know about deer from a biological stand point you increase your odds even more.


Poor Boy Deer Feeder

As cost of feeding products rise, it’s tough for a college student on a budget to dedicate a lot of money and resources to a feeding program. While discouraging, it shouldn’t stop hunters like me from enjoying their season and providing for their herd.

Implementing a Shoe String Budget Whitetail Deer Feeding Program

Rather than purchasing an expensive deer feeder that runs on batteries and wipes your behind, you can build your own using the following supplies:

-10’ section of 3” or 4” PVC Pipe. The 4” will hold more feed/corn and require fewer refills.
-PVC Cement.
-90 degree elbow, needs to match your PVC Pipe.
Slip cap for your appropriate sized pipe. Do NOT use a screw cap.
Zip ties or bungee cords, long enough to reach around your feeder and the tree.
1) Take the 10′ piece and cut it in half. You now have two 5′ sections.

2) Cut 1′ off of each 5′ piece. This will be used for your tray section.

3) Glue one of your 90 degree elbow’ to the end of your 5′ section of pipe.

4) Glue your 1′ piece of pipe into your 90 degree elbow.

5) It’s best to lay your pipe and elbow section on a stable, flat surface such as picnic table. Using a small handsaw or hacksaw, cut your 1′ piece of pipe in half starting at the end of the pipe cutting back towards your 90 degree elbow.

Once you reach your elbow, stand your 5′ pipe and elbow section upright. Cut your 1′ section straight down until it intersects with your previous cut. The top half of your 1′ section can now be removed. The remaining portion attached to your 90 degree elbow will be your feeder tray.

*Note – You don’t want to cut your 1′ pipe section in half before gluing it into your 90 degree elbow. This doesn’t allow for proper adhesion to the elbow. The deer will knock the 1′ section off the feeder, draining it of your corn/feed.

6) Place your slip cap on the bottom of your feeder. The cap simply prevents the corn from pouring out on the ground while filling the feeder. Finish by filling with corn/feed, leaving a small space at the top of the pipe.

I also hope to implement the product Grow The Bone (source where I got this feeder idea), in with this feeding routine. By mixing small amounts into the corn/feed it should attract the deer to the feeder, as well as provide a mineral supplement with the feed.


Trail Cam (Backyard)

This buck is from my backyard. Granted these pics are from my backyard and he’s a completely nocturnal buck. Which pretty much makes him impossible to see in day light. His bedding area in about a half a mile to the east of my house.

Note: these pics are from July of 08, and I haven’t seen him on any pics since. Little worried… Hope a four wheel rifle didn’t take him out on BB Hwy. But I know a mature deer in a low pressure hunting area, with ample resources can live to be 8 or 9 years old.

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I’d love to take this guy, but he’s become almost like a pet. Maybe one day.


Keeping The Faith

We all get down every once in a while. The hunt didn’t go as expected, you got busted, or worst of all you missed your target. It’s part of hunting and part of the lesson that hunting teaches us. You show me an outdoorsman that’s never had a bad day and I’ll show you a big fat liar. Deer season is a long one. From September to January here in Missouri, it puts a toll on a hunters attitude. The most important piece of equipment any hunter can have during a long season is a positive mental attitude. Hands down this is the most crucial aspect to remember when in the stand or blind. You can never think negative thoughts while hunting, it just never does you any good. As soon as you start thinking negative, you start to wear on your patience and eventually you’ll just wanna quit. Yes, even the pros have days they wish they didn’t, and as much hunting as they do it’s not an “if” but a “when” for them. They had to start somewhere, and I can guarantee they didn’t get to where they are now by letting a bad day in the woods bring them down. If sitting in the woods by myself has taught me anything it’s to hunt as legally long as possible. In hunting things can happen so fast. That’s something my father has helped me see through the years. When we used to sit in a stand together, it seemed like he had this magical power that he knew we should sit for just 5 more minutes. Sometimes we’d sit till after dark and just watch the deer for as long as we could. Cause you really never know what can happen. We all know deer can materialize out of no where, and your season can change in seconds. But to be successful like that and to solidify the possibility of a good hunt you just gotta stay positive. Even when you’re just sitting in the stand, keep happy thoughts running through your head. Yeah just like Chubs said in Happy Gilmore,”Go to your own happy place.”. It will keep your moral up and positive, and you’ll run the chances of having a good hunt; dead deer or not.

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This buck I shot 4 years ago while I was still in high school. But after sitting out most of archery season and a portion of rifle season because of high school football. I had no idea I’d shoot something like this. I had figured since I hadn’t scouted in months and wouldn’t see anything. The first morning I decided to just go sit (due to some encouragement from my father) this beautiful 8 pointer stepped out and just like that my attitude changed. Just goes to show how unpredictable hunting is and how keeping an open mind when in the stand can make the experience so much better.


Hoyt Vector 32 Review

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Last fall I made the decision to save up and make a large purchase this summer. But before I tell you about my new Hoyt, I wanna give a little history on how this bow has resurrected my passion for bow hunting.

I had spent last summer bow fishing on the Little Blue River, doing what I could to put a dent in the Asian carp population. Getting back into drawing a bow back fired me back up on archery. You see in my younger years I maybe went bow hunting 10 times and shot once, missing a small 8 pointer. It left a bad taste in my mouth and I decided to just continuing competitive archery on my YHEC team instead of chasing Whitetails. But last fall, I really was fed up with how rifle season had been going on my property (an entirely different story, which I might share some other time). So I made a promise to myself to get back into getting serious about bow hunting again. I did my research and looked at every bow almost on the market. You see I had an old Browning bow I had bought when I turned 16, it’s max draw weight was 45lbs and it’s draw length couldn’t get much more than 24 inches. It was perfect for all the bow fishing I was doing, something I could be a little rough on. The worst part about this bow is when released, it’s about as loud as my 30/30. I absolutely hated that. That’s when I made my mind up I wanted a big boy bow. I’m 21 now with the potential to draw back 70lbs consistently and a draw length of 27.5 inches. Clearly I had out grow this Browning. I finally settled on a bow that I thought I would like after watching Bill Winke talk a little bit about his Hoyt Carbon Element on his Semi-Live web show Midwest Whitetails. I looked into the Hoyt brand a little deeper. With a thin stretched budget already I decided I wanted quality but not top notch. So I decided on the Hoyt Vector 32. I spent nearly 9 months saving for this bow (over half came from my per diem from traveling with the MIZZOU Football team for their bowl game while I was a Student Assistant for them and some winnings at the casino in Shreveport, LA). But in July I went one Saturday to Rogers Sporting Goods in Liberty MO to purchase what I so patiently waited for.

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First thing I will say about this bow, it is slick! The design is flawless, and it’s a beautiful piece of equipment. It comes in multiple colors; but I went the traditional route with the Realtree Camo pattern. The draw weight I bought was the 55-65lbs draw weight, which wasn’t what I originally wanted. But the technician was able to get her up to 67lbs, so I’m a happy camper. The main thing I was out for was a quiet and extremely fast bow. After I had shot mine a few times I had realized why Outdoor Life made this bow it’s Editors Choice for 2012! It hardly makes a sound when released, with all the dampening equipment on it, it’d be hard to be very loud. But that was just the beginning. On Hoyt’s website they list the FPS (feet per second) at a whopping 330! Now we all know a bow isn’t going to reach that actual potential, (mostly because thats an ATA measured bow) but mine clocked in at 302 FPS in the shop. Which beats the 250 FPS of my old Browning. This is achieved with the amazing RKT Cam its equipped with. This new cam is simply awesome! With not to many advances in the archery industry lately, this piece of equipment is what I believe is going to really put Hoyt above the rest of the competition in the next few years. Yes and I even mean Mathews.

After I got it sighted in and got my form/technique back down my shots at 30 and 35 yards seem like line drives to the target, I have trouble seeing any arch in my shot at all. There’s no change between 10 and 20 yards, so I just use those two distances on my first pin. Not to mention it drills these arrows into the target. I’m extremely excited to see what it can do on the hide of a deer.

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As a summary I’d like to just say that this bow was worth every penny. I can’t wait to get to the woods this fall and let some arrows fly. I know I’ll bring home some venison because I am fully confident in this piece of equipment. Something that lacked in my last bow. I know if I’m confident in it then I’ll have no problems EVER in the woods. The motto Hoyt carries “Get serious. Get Hoyt.” is so true. I recommend any of their products or bows.

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