Well it is time to provide an update on the GroPal Experiment as initiated a couple of weeks ago. Refer to the original blog at http://www.allthingswhitetail.com/1/post/2013/07/gropal-appliednow-we-wait.html.
Based on the trail camera photos, I counted a hit as a deer's head in the downward or feeding position. I used the flags to delineate between the GroPal sprayed side of the field (left side of the photos) vs. the No GroPal side on the right side. I did not post every picture showing a hit as that would be 75 photos. However, I included a good sample so you could get an idea of what I am seeing.
Error corrections that I am admitting to upfront before someone calls them out:
1. The camera is not completely centered along the line between the GroPal sprayed side and the No GroPal.
2. The date stamp on the camera is apparently off by 3 days. The original blog was on July 14th. The first photos are stamped July 11th.
3. The surveying flags did not work as well as I had hoped and do not show up in the IR photos. As a result, I drew lines and pasted on the photos where the flags were located.
At this point, it is somewhat early but interesting how the results are shaping up. In the first week, there were only 4 hits on GroPal vs. 14 hits on the No GroPal side. Week two was a completely different story. The GroPal side had 37 total hits vs. only 20 on the No GroPal side. GroPal was almost double the hits for Week 2. This brings the two week total to GroPal - 41 and No GroPal 34. Why the change the second week? Did it take a week for the GroPal to impact the growth or taste of the plants where the deer noticed a difference? Or, is this just a coincidence and the deer just happened to feed on the left side more?
I realize that I need more sample data at this point in the experiment, but I think the photos are interesting. If you look at some of the time stamps, it appears to me that the deer seemed to feed longer on the GroPal side than the No GroPal side. In other words, I had multiple shots of deer feeding on the GroPal side minute by minute. On the No GroPal side, multiple back to back photos were less evident. This could mean that the deer like the GroPal sprayed forage better or find it more palatable.
I think it is too soon to tell, but at some point I will form an opinion as to the effectiveness of this product on deer preference based on the photographic evidence. Some will poke holes in every aspect of what I am doing and claim this is "snake oil". I post this blog to share what I have learned. It is up to each individual to determine for themselves what the results of this study may be. I don't care if you buy GroPal or not. If I buy it again, that is my personal choice as I am sure there are products others buy that I believe are a waste of money. We should not forget that this is the simple economic foundation this country was based on........you have a free choice to buy what you want. Supply and Demand. That is the beauty of living in the United States of America.
The other aspect of the experiment has not yet been evaluated. That is the increased growth comparison between the utilization cages. I forgot to take a tape measure with me the other day so this will be done at the next visit. Keep checking the blog as there is more to come.
The purpose of this experiment is to see if we can make something out of nothing. This particular plot was reclaimed by the DNR several years ago. The soil constituents includes a thin layer of top soil above a bed of larger sized gravel. This makes turning the soil next to impossible, as I have definitely tried.
Working with Jim Ward, he suggested we try a no till method by planting buckwheat this past May left over from the previous year. The video below shows the growth that occurred without any application of fertilizer or lime. I have also posted a picture of my son Luke next to one the taller plants. Some reached 5' in height, which is taller than any buckwheat I have seen. I think that is interesting given the lack of soil amendments. The goal of the experiment is to see what will grow with minimal expense, labor, and time.
Now the buckwheat has headed out and we need to mow and plant soybeans. We know the beans will not form any pods, which is perfect since we just want the immature plants available for browsing during the early Indiana bow season in October. Once the first hard frost hits, these plants will die and the deer will look for other forage.
Given the location of this plot, we want to eliminate the risk of bumping deer when accessing stands deeper in the property. This adds another type of forage available for the herd. With the increased diversity in available forage, we believe it is possible to hold the deer on the property. Add that to the water sources and shelter / bedding, we feel our small property can be a place deer want to be year around.
Keep checking back regularly as we provide updates to the progress the beans are making. We will place a trail camera on the plot to see what activity the beans are creating. Spread the word about our site and thanks for your time.
Although I do not currently have any Eagle Beans in the ground, I thought I would share some of my results from years past. I love this product and wish I could plant it every year. I will elaborate on why planting this forage bean is problematic on my small property.
My first year to plant Eagle Beans was in '08. My plots had just been cleared and I was dying to plant soybeans as a major tactic to arrow a large buck. I did not have a planter at the time so my application method was simply using an Earthway Broadcast Spreader. I also applied DeltAg Seed Coat to help get the plants up and out of the ground.
As you can see with the slideshow, the beans were fantastic. I had bucks actually bedding in the middle of these plots, similar to mature corn. The utilization cage in the main plot clearly depicted this was the preferred field. I knew the number of deer hitting this field was huge and often. Refer to the photo of the utilization cage in the slideshow.
That season proved to be a disappointment from the stand regarding bucks on the ground. However, the Eagle Beans turned out to be far better than I ever imagined. The plants stayed green well after other crops had turned brown. In addition, the months of December and January provided deer with bean pods, pulling large herds into the property. I truly believe the late season availability of forage in the middle of winter persuaded other deer to make my 63 acres home.
Ok....now for the bad news. This product is so good, that the deer key on it after the first couple of years used. Each year after '08, my plants were hit harder and harder making it virtually impossible to grow a descent stand of beans for fall hunting. This is primarily due to the lack of plot acreage on my property. Given I only have 3.32 acres tillable, this is not enough beans to survive the browse pressure. I tried some products designed to keep deer away through bad smells, but nothing worked. The alpha does simply laughed at this, jumped the fence and taught every other deer to do the same.
In the future, I would like to provide a two deep electric fence around the beans to prevent deer accessing. The double fence scares the deer against jumping over both lines. Until I am ready to invest the time and money for a fence, I will continue to plant alternative crops that provide good tonnage and are preferred by the herd as much as Eagle Seeds.
Please comment on what brand of electric fence you utilize and the associated cost per acre.
Thank you for your time!
On 7/21/13 we visited the mineral station again to determine the results from the week of Big & J BB2 Granular. I have posted a picture of the product ingredients below. Upon our return, there was nothing left at the station as evident in the video below. Animal hits and percentages caught on camera were as follows:
1. Whitetail Deer - 456 (62.7%)
a. Bucks - 35 (4.8%)
b. Does - 370 (50.9%)
c. Fawns - 51 (7.0%)
2. Raccoon - 252 (34.7%)
3. Squirrel - 6 (0.8%)
4. Possum - 9 (1.2%)
5. Coyote - 1 (0.1%)
6. Rabbit - 3 (0.4%)
7. Total Hits - 727 (62.8% of the total photos)
8. Total Photos - 1158
*Note: A single photo may have had more than one type of animal in it, thus each was counted (e.g., one photo having 5 raccoons was counted as 5 hits)
As you can see from the counts and the slideshow below, the raccoons were a huge problem and accounted for much of the reduction in available product. Prior to this particular product, I had little to no raccoons hitting the mineral station. Obviously much of this has to do with the corn content of the product.
The amount of raccoon traffic is very disappointing from several angles. One, I think they impact the deer who don't want to fight with other animals for product. Two, the raccoon population is far greater than I really want on this property. Three, the large numbers will make it difficult for other game animals, such as turkey given these are known egg eaters.
I paid $20 for a 20# bag. For that cost, I can't afford to feed raccoons who will eventually scavenge turkey eggs and possibly run off or pressure deer from using the mineral station. As a result, I have elected not be using any more of this particular attractant.
Keep checking in or like us on Facebook so you can see regular updates on the blog regarding this experiment. You can also subscribe to our site at the bottom of the home page to receive emails each time the blog is updated. Thank you for your time.
I was 23 years old and hadn't shot a gun since I was 12 years old. I had been hounding a friend of mine to take me hunting for about a year. That previous summer I took him out golfing so he owed me one. Well, Saturday, November 21 he took me out for my first ever deer hunt. The night before I went with my dad to a family friends to shoot the 12 gauge shot gun I'd be using the next day - just wanted to make sure I was comfortable with the gun before I got into the woods. Hunting on the Indiana, Illinois State line near Terre Haute we arrived in our spot in the woods about 6:15 a.m. we sat up some fold out chairs so my buddy could help guide me through this hunt.
I happened to catch the national news tonight on CBS. Their final story was about a guy who asked a simple question via social media...."What is your favorite moment in life?" Interesting question. I thought maybe some of you would like to comment or list your favorite whitetail hunting moments. I'm still learning on how to build this website so I'm not sure if you can actually post pictures in the comments section. So....I'll make you a deal. You leave a comment describing your favorite moment, email a picture to me, and I'll post it on here for everyone to see. Send it to email@example.com
My favorite hunting moment happened in 2010. That year in August, I had experienced a heart related issue and was hospitalized for a couple of days. A-fib...what you see in the commercials now on TV quite a bit. Long story short, my heart stopped for 6 seconds when my pressure dropped too quickly.
Obviously I recovered, but began to realize I was mortal at 40 years old. As soon as I got out, I couldn't stop thinking about it. To get my mind off this issue, I threw myself into a huge project. I decided to build the box blind I had envisioned for some time. My goal was to take all of the kids hunting with me.
As with most projects a QDM'er takes on, I went all out. We began in mid August and worked non-stop until the middle of October. By the time the youth hunt rolled around, my 12 year old daughter, Bailey, was ready for her shot at a deer. At that point in the construction, the poles were up, deck was on, but no walls or roof. I decided we would place the pop-up blind on it and see what would happen.
We arrived around 6 pm that evening, much later than planned. No sooner was the blind up when the deer began to poor into the WI Clover. Bailey decided she was going to shoot a doe when suddenly a small buck entered the field. He entered from right to left traveling at a 90 degree course never turning his head (foreshadowing here...). Bailey spotted the buck and turned her attention to him. Obviously I was not going to tell her no, given I believe a small buck is a good harvest for your first deer at 12 years old. She took a deep breath and settled in through the scope to take the 80 yard shot with a single shot 20 ga.
I was watching through binoculars as she squeezed the trigger. I knew instantly it was a good hit based on the mule kick the buck made. He ran into the woods and she knew it was a good shot also saying "I hit him, I hit him." We waited a little while, but proceeded to start the trail. The buck only went about 50 yards into the woods and piled up in some briers. She tracked every drop until she saw the white belly.
We had quite the party calling everyone and sending pictures. As you can see below, our smiles will last forever in this picture. Even though it turned out to be a half rack, this was the best hunting moment of my life.
We had a friend complete a European Mount and it is up on her bedroom wall. Since then, she has vowed to shoot the next deer with a bow. She has missed a couple of times and definitely gets buck fever; therefore, I'm sure she is my kid. Hopefully this fall will be the magical moment with her bow.
Make sure to leave a comment and send me your favorite moment photo. Come back again, and thanks for your time.
I wrote on July 5th about the experiment conducted with hinge cutting the small tree on the edge of the East Plot. I thought it was time for an update, as this tree continues to be a favorite stop for deer in the area.
Below is a video and also photos of the tree since initially reported. Now imagine doing this in other strategic places, such as sanctuaries, near bedding areas, transition points, travel corridors, etc. where deer feel extremely secure. Hinge Cutting is an excellent means of improving the habitat and making the deer feel more at home on your property.
Hinge Cutting is especially important for those of us owning or hunting on small properties. I would define a small property as anything under 100 acres. For my 63 acres, this is one of the most important tools for providing the best cover and an immediate food source to my herd. In addition, it helps me release many of the good tree species that I want to grow that cannot compete with less desirable species. Stump sprouting will also occur, providing additional forage for the deer. I'll try to post some photos of trees I have hinge cut and the stump sprouting that results. Evidence of browsing on these sprouts is typical due to the plant tenderness.
Break out the chainsaw and create some habitat and forage.
If you ask my wife, a patient man I am not. It may seem obvious to some that it will take a while for apple trees to produce after they are planted. After planting two trees four years ago, I had almost given up on the possibility that apples would ever fall from my plantings. During that time, one of the two trees planted had died, which required planting of a third.
But, finally this is happening! My oldest tree produced apples this year. Only a half dozen or so, but apples indeed. Given the grand scheme of of deer management, tonnage is always a focus when enhancing forage, putting in plots, etc. Apples are not the way to go if your focus is strictly on tonnage. However, diversity is where apples help your deer management plan. You can bet as these trees mature, this will be a seasonal stop for the whitetails. Deer love apples, so hopefully they love the half dozen this year and effort it took to provide them. I know my satisfaction learning they produced was almost as good as arrowing my buck last October. Well, not quite as good.
Several have weighed in and the results are listed below. I admit that not all products were listed in the survey. At that time, my list of attractants was not complete and may never be for that matter. That is kind of the purpose of this website. Thirty-one responses with feedback and suggestions on products they prefer. Results are as follows to date:
This blog topic created much buzz and conversation regarding the ability to actually determine what is best for deer, the contents of each product, and the true scientific nature of such an experiment. Here is the bottomline.....I wanted feedback on what the visitors use as an attractant. Based on the above responses, I think it is clear that the vast majority of visitors to this website and answering this survey prefer to use Trophy Rock as an attractant.
As the experiment continues with our first test product results this weekend, I don't expect to determine how effective the product is at developing antler growth. What I do expect to be able to measure is the number of deer visiting the station. I can compare those numbers between products tested, regardless if it is salt based, contains corn, etc. I want to know what is the best attractant.
Why would I want to know which product is the best attractant? Like many of you, I've got my trail cameras out taking inventory of the deer herd. I'd like to photo and capture the development of the antlers on the bucks returning from last year. This kind of keeps me charged up during the dog days of summer.
I also hope that drawing deer in with an attractant will introduce individual deer to the habitat that I have worked so hard to improve. I'm not saying I can draw deer in for miles with these products, so please comment on other aspects. What I am hoping is that as a deer is wandering around, that he or she samples the attractant and begins to take inventory of what is around and available. Maybe they will call my 63 acres home instead of the neighbors place.
One other comment.....I am not sponsored by any of the products being tested. If that happens at some point, I will provide full disclosure. I just thought it would be a good topic for discussion and blogging on this website. I think the mission was accomplished!
I thought I'd take a short break from blogging about whitetail related topics. This isn't exactly tied to whitetails, but then again it is.
Our county 4-H fair begins this Saturday. Tomorrow night ends the 4-H Archery Club's bow shoots for '13. We will finish with a prizes night where every club member who shows up gets a prize or two depending on how well they have honed their archery skills. Either way, each of the 49 members will receive some kind of gear or equipment that is designed to grow their passion for archery. This is the night all club members look forward to attend.
I'm one of two of the archery instructors certified through the Indiana Hunter Education Program. On the archery end of the shooting sports spectrum, we are tied to NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program), even though we are a 4-H Club. Over one weekend at Purdue University, I was able to acquire a certificate through the State of Indiana and NASP. Purdue Extension does a fantastic job with hosting and coordinating this program for educators across the state.
I've lost count of how many years I've been doing this, but I can truly say there isn't anything better than seeing a kids face light up when they hear what you say, apply the learning, and hit a bulls eye on the target. My three girls all now shoot in the club and I do it primarily for them and to teach the importance of this primitive skill (granted compound bows have come a long way from the days of sticks and sharpened stones). I think it makes them better human beings, but what I really like the most is when one of my girls out shoots a cocky boy trying to puff up his chest. Funny how an arrow in the 12 ring ends any question of who is best. This is truly one sport that levels the playing field (age, gender, height, weight, disability, etc.). It all comes down to disciplined form and skill.
What I have noticed is the discipline it teaches kids with the 11 steps of shooting. My hope is that they will transfer this type of discipline into other aspects of their lives. Some of the kids have a tough road ahead of them and this may be the one sport / hobby that keeps them on the right track. A few kids shoot a couple of years and then leave the club. More than not remain in the club year over year. When I see them out in this small community, they always seem to bring up the 4-H Archery Club.
I'd love to post pictures of the kids in the club, but I'm a little funny about doing so with kids that are not mine. Hopefully I have painted the mental picture of the joy archery brings to young kids. If you have such a program in your respective area, I urge you to support it to the fullest. In today's world, archery proves there is more to growing up than just video games and TV.
Thanks for visiting my blog and please keep coming back to allthingswhitetail.com.
Andy Hayes is a devoted husband and father of 4 kids living in West Central Indiana. Outside of his family, his passion is hunting whitetails. He does not claim to be a professional hunter, but simply wants to share what he learns during his quest to improve whitetail habitat and hunt mature bucks.