This past weekend, I was working to hang one of the last stands prior to the early archery season and spray my access trail with glyphosate. I was doing some work on the tractor and decided to drive through the area where the stand would be located. I drove along the field edge and returned to get the truck since it had all of my gear. Upon returning in the truck, I slammed the door, opened the truck bed, and began working on the back pack sprayer.
Once I was 5 yards into the woods with sprayer on my back, I jumped up a fawn to my left. As I investigated, it was quite clear where the fawn was bedded down, less than 20 yards from my truck. I couldn't believe I had driven by with the tractor (less than 10 yards from the bed), returned with the truck, made all of that noise and still the fawn remained in the bed. This wasn't a newborn fawn being stalked by a coyote that could be walked right up on and doesn't move and slows down breathing to go undetected. I would have thought this amount of activity would have gently pushed the deer out of the area as it did with the adult does. In fact, that was my intention.
As I stood there and thought about the encounter, I realized the fawn stayed because it felt comfortable and not threatened. But why? Then I looked closely at the bed. This deer was completely concealed until walking right up onto it. I'm guessing I could have walked in another 5 yards to the north of this bed and it would have remained in place. This bed was created due to hinge cutting a large Sassafras tree in efforts to create screening cover along the field edge.
I believe this supports and emphasizes the importance of screening cover. The plan we have laid out is coming together. We want the fawns and does to stay close to the field edges. We need to be able to access the stand between these bedding areas and the buck beds. This is an extremely positive sign.
Obviously you did not see what I saw and the skeptics could say I am making this story up. I guess if you believe that then you question everything I have posted up to this point. This truly happened, which is how I found the bed in the video. As you may or may not know, doe and buck beds are much larger than this one. I've probably walked by many of these fawn beds in the woods. I've seen such beds in the tall clover and weeds, but never under a hinge cut tree like this one. This was a learning moment for me. Now I know what to look for in the future.
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We visited the watering hole today after completing the work a few weeks ago. Since that work was completed, as featured in an earlier blog, we received an inch of rain all in one day. The video outlines how much water is remaining in the hole several days after that rain event. Since that initial rainfall, we have received no measurable rainfall. That fact alone is very impressive to me and makes be conclude the repairs were a success. The spreading of bentonite and compacting the clay will continue to pay off.
The video and photos show that we have deer visiting this regularly, along with turkeys and other small game. Frogs and tadpoles are in the water that remains due to the nice canopy that is protecting the hole from direct sunlight and evaporating. Hopefully we get another good rain in the next couple of weeks to fill it up. This hole will be critical during the pre-rut and rut when bucks are cruising and chasing does. With the stand only 20 yards to the north of this spot, this might be the money location for that elusive buck.
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On July 14th, we started a process to evaluate the ability of five different products to attract deer to our mineral station. The products were set out for one week and monitored by a trail camera. Each week the SD card was pulled and the photos counted to determine what species of animal hit the mineral station. We separated the deer into bucks, does, and fawns.
A hit was counted if the deer's face was down at or actually licking the mineral station. If the deer was standing at the station, but looking up or around it was not counted as a hit.
On previous blogs, I attempted to log the weekly results with the first two products tested. Time simply got away from me and I didn't report out on the last three weeks of the test period. As a result, I wanted to wrap this up with a complete report just on the deer group hits and discuss my perception of the results. Perception is simply your personal reality. I say that as I'm sure there will be comments on the validity of this study. Each visitor to this blog will perceive the results differently. As always, all I ask is that you do not go out and buy this product solely on these results. These are my results. You should make an informed decision before purchasing any of the five products tested. I am not sponsored by any of these products, so I have no monetary stake in this.
I put out products each year in the hopes to attract the deer and basically complete an informal camera survey. I want to know each year how the fawns are doing and see the continued growth of the buck racks. Mission accomplished this year! We know we have three fawns that have run together all summer long. We also have a good idea of the resident bucks on the property. Hopefully as the velvet is shed, we will have a better idea of what these bucks will score and can estimate age of each for the fall hit list.
I have put together the graph below that shows each of the five products tested with the date range and the number of hits for each deer group (buck, doe, or fawn).
Personal Perceptions (my reality):
1. Big & J BB2 Granular: Draws the largest number of deer, especially does. I'm not really interested in does as much as the fawns and bucks, but they obviously like this product. It could be the grain added to the product. What I listed in the previous blogs was that this product pulled raccoon in from the three county area, which is not desired. Either way, you will have to put out several bags of this to keep animals returning, which isn't cost effective.
2. Trophy Rock: Good product in my opinion. You can see in the graph numbers that this attracted fewer deer and does in general, when compared to BB2. Buck hits stayed relatively the same. Product lasts a long time and doesn't require much maintenance. This is by far the most popular attractant as outlined in the previous blog. http://www.allthingswhitetail.com/1/post/2013/08/survey-update-results.html
3. Luck Buck: Most obvious data swing for this product was buck hits. This could have been primarily due to the time of year with bucks making a last ditch effort to hit the minerals. Tough to say, and I obviously have no scientific data either way. This is just a possible cause that led to the number increase.
4. Redmond Mineral: Very even numbers between the deer groups (buck, doe, fawn). I can't help but recognize the huge swing for fawn hits. This is much higher than any of the five products put out for sampling. The buck number is similar to the Lucky Buck. The doe hits dropped drastically, which was great to see since I got tired of counting does with the first three products.
5. Kraze: This product has been discussed among other QDMer's as being the best product to attract bucks to see what you have in your local herd. I'd have to agree with that statement. You see the number of buck hits was the highest on the graph and the number of doe and fawn hits dropped compared to the other products. Again, was this a function of the time of year as bucks prepare to shed velvet and finish antler growth? It might be interesting to reverse the order next year to see if the numbers are similar for Kraze.
Overall Personal Conclusions:
a. I will not use BB2 simply due to the number of raccoon attracted. Plus the number of doe visits was obnoxious.
b. I like Kraze the best to monitor buck numbers with limited hits from does and fawns. I'll probably purchase only one bag each year due to the cost per pound.
c. I think Redmond mineral will be my primary product of choice in future years. It has an even number of hits between the groups and drew in a high number of bucks.
d. I like the Redmond mineral based also on cost per pound. I purchased the 50# bag for $11. A huge savings compared to the other products when you look at cost per pound.
This may not have produced any scientific data that the huge mineral industry can use, but that wasn't my goal going into it. First and foremost, I had fun doing this and have a better idea of what products I like and what I will avoid. I appreciate your time to review my personal findings. Follow us on Facebook or subscribe to the website on the Home / Sponsors or About Us / Contacts pages. Good luck preparing for the '13 season. It is almost here.
A month has past since we first sprayed the GroPal Foliar Sea Mineral onto half of our WI Clover and Chickory plot. As you recall, our initial purpose of this little experiment was to determine 1.) Do deer prefer GroPal during browsing? 2.) Will GroPal improve plant life and increase growth? Today we tried to answer the second goal by measuring plant growth between the GroPal and Non GroPal Clover and Chickory. You will have to excuse the camera work as I was filming alone today. My camera crew was busy cutting the grass at home and cleaning up around the yard. Now that school is in session, they must do this on weekends.
The growth results are rather interesting. There was a visible height difference within the utilization cages. The GroPal plants were roughly 2" taller than the plants not sprayed with GroPal. For the Clover, this was even more evident when we pulled samples and laid them out on the plywood we had staged in the field. I saw a visible difference in the health of the plants. They were greener and fresher looking than the non GroPal plants. We have not had any rain for a few days, so it is beginning to get a little dry. I can't say for certain that the GroPal plants had more moisture, but they just appeared to be healthier overall.
My application of GroPal is in addition to the normal soil amendments applied each spring. I have posted my soil sampling practices previously on this blog, so hopefully there are no more concerns about neglect of basic soil management practices as a part of this process.
I'm sure these results and this particular blog will resurface the debates and critical feedback regarding this experiment. Again, I am not sponsored by GroPal and I am only doing this to share what I have learned from this process. Please do not buy GroPal or any other product based solely on my personal results. Make an informed purchase and test it yourself. You may get different results. As far as my opinion, GroPal makes a difference. I think it can increase the tonnage in my plots, which could be huge once the snow starts flying. A couple of inches of growth might provide the carrying capacity my herd needs through late January and February.
Good luck with your plots, and I appreciate the time you have taken to review this blog and the attached video and photos below. Like us on Facebook and keep checking back for new entries.
Earlier entries in the blog included a couple of surveys. I felt like it was time to post the results of those surveys. Granted I would like to have more entries to better solidify the data; however, I think this will work at this point.
Attractant / Mineral Product Use Survey: The purpose of this survey was to see what others are using to attract deer. Results are pretty clear that Trophy Rock is the preferred product.
The last survey completed was on Fall Protection Practices. Although the views on this particular blog entry were the highest to date, very few entries were entered. As a result, there is very few data on this. But, I thought I would list it anyway.
The majority only tie off once in the stand. Frankly I don't understand this practice given the climb and act of stepping into the stand is the riskiest part of the process. Second was using fall protection 100% of the time. I applaud those who take the extra steps to protect themselves completely. Your families appreciate it also.
Last Saturday, we spent some of the day checking on buck beds. As a part of that activity, I noticed some of the progress with a trick taught to me. A simple method of habitat manipulations wherever possible is the tucking of saplings.
Here is how it works.....when you are hinge cutting trees, there are always saplings in the area that are way too small to effectively hinge cut. Quickly grab them and pull each over and under other trees that are hinge cut. Sometimes it may require twisting a limb or two to keep them tucked.
Upon visiting the buck beds on Saturday, the tucked saplings were still in place and effectively growing. What does this do for your deer? It provides browse under shoulder level. It also increases the odds of tree survival as there is no cutting. Lastly and probably most importantly, it provides awesome structure for a canopy, which is a major component of an effective buck bed. Hinge cut trees often die after some time. Hopefully other vines and growth take over the structure of hinge cut trees to keep the canopy. But with tucked saplings, they begin to permanently take the shape of the bow or bend. Refer to the photos below.
Try this next time you are working on thickening up your woods for better deer cover. It works.....I promise you!
I've been a member of QDMA since February 2008 and have learned more about deer hunting and deer habitat management from this organization than any other. In fact, I believe the QDMA Forum ranks at the top for someone obsessed with whitetail deer hunting, such as myself.
I was looking at other whitetail related blogs and ran across one from Nick Pinizzotto called Whitetail Writer. He wrote a nice piece about his visit to the national convention this year. I was unable to go this year and last, but have made the journey at least three times. He posted a video from QDMA that was shown at the national convention this year. I too thought I should share this video just in case someone who visits this site doesn't realize the importance of this organization for our deer hunting future.
Every year we hear of a story of someone falling from a tree stand while hunting. And, every year I shake my head on how wasteful and unnecessary these incidents are. It is time that I define the system and process used to ensure 100% fall protection.
What I will be outlining below and on video is a method for providing 100% protection from the moment your foot leaves the ground, as you climb up and into the stand, and until you climb back down. It doesn't take any more time to do it safely than not. You will notice that the total time of the video at the tree is 16:44 seconds. Add 3 minutes for setting the bottom climbing section before the video started, and we completed this stand from ground to 20' in right at 20 min.
Disclaimer: allthingswhitetail.com is not responsible for any incidents associated with hunting from a tree stand. This information is a reference only. You are responsible for your own safety, your skills, your equipment, and your mental state and common sense when hanging a tree stand or hunting. This blog and video are a bit lengthy given the needed details, so strap yourselves in.
A. Tree Selection: This process may be the most important step to ensure you do not fall. It is hard enough to select a tree in a spot to get your shot at a big one. The next step is identifying a tree in that position that is not defective or presents a risk of you falling (e.g., dead or dying, leaning, too small, etc.).
B. Select a Full Body Harness that fits and allows the quick learning and application of this fall protection device. It must be snug to distribute the forces of the fall throughout the body. Climbing harnesses that do not involve shoulder straps or a back connecting line are not recommended.
C. Obtain at least a 30' length of nylon climbing rope. I typically use Blue Water Ropes given they are designed for climbing. My rope size is 7/16" and I usually buy 150' at a time and cut into 30' sections.
D. Once your climbing stick has been assembled, I put on my harness and use a lineman's belt to help hold me to the tree as I begin the climb. One end of the rope is secured to a carabiner on the harness for availability when up top.
E. Set the base stick in place and secure to the tree.
F. Set the 2nd stick on top and wrap your belt around the tree and secure to you. Leave enough slack so you can safely climb and adjust the belt during your assent.
G. Place all climbing sticks in place and strap tightly to the tree to prevent wobbling or noises when climbing.
H. When at the top, secure your fixed rope above the top of the ladder. This will ensure when a fall occurs that you are in front of the ladder and can provide self rescue.
I. Attached the back strap and D-ring of your harness to the Prusik Knot of the fixed rope. The knot should be slid up so that it is directly above your head to reduce the fall distance in the event you slip.
J. Secure the strap(s) for the fixed stand in place and hang the stand. All stands and climbing sticks should be TMA approved.
K. Unhook the lineman's belt and climb from the ladder to the stand. Again......you have 100% protection as you are secured to the fixed rope. This is the most critical moment to have protection, when stepping from the ladder onto the platform. Many falls occur at this phase.
L. Slide the fixed rope up further above your stand. I typically secure the fixed rope at a height that allows me to sit comfortable, but I do fill the slack being taken up as I sit. This ensures that in the event I do fall, I will not stop below the platform. Thus, self rescue is achieved by simply standing up or grabbing the ladder steps.
M. For the descent, I simply slide the Prusik Knot down as I climb. Once safely on the ground, I can detach the D-ring from the Prusik Knot and leave the woods.
You now have a fall protection system that is set in place for the entire season. Since most of us climb up or down with minimal or zero light, this system provides protection in case you miss a step or hand grip. All of us have a responsibility to our family and friends to hunt safely and return home after the hunt. Ask yourself.....would you allow your spouse or kids to climb a tree without a fall protection system? Of course not, but for some reason we justify taking shortcuts because we are adults, are careful, or simply think it will never happen to us. No one ever plans to fall, use fall protection to ensure you do not.
Please comment on what you think about this particular blog. I appreciate the time you have spent reviewing the above and the video. Check back regularly for updates to this blog and share this with others.
Error: During the video you will hear me refer to the knot tied on the end of the rope as a "slip knot". I obviously misspoke. The knot I use is a figure eight knot, one of the strongest knots available.
I previously proudly blogged about the water hole created in one of our transition areas between the food plots (http://www.allthingswhitetail.com/1/post/2013/07/transition-area-watering-hole.html). Well, there was obviously a problem since it was empty after about a week. How could a watering hole made of clay not hold water? That was a question that puzzled me for several days.
To solve this problem I turned to some close friends who run an excavating business. I knew if anyone would have a clue the boys at Crane Excavating could answer this question. Right away they asked if I had compacted the clay? Of course, I had not. They further explained how smearing clay helps retain the water. Similar to a septic finger system, smooth walls hold water and don't allow the system to work properly. As a result, the septic installers typically scarify the bottom and edges of each finger trench. I needed to smooth the bottom of the water hole to help take advantage of the properties of Indiana clay.
Another suggestion the boys made was to add Bentonite to the soil, work it in, then compact it. Now I had a plan, all I needed was a way to compact the soil and find some bags of Bentonite. Fortunately, they allowed me to barrow a small compactor and they had two bags. What do you know? As you can see from the video below, the process seemed to work pretty well. I dug out the hole a little more to add depth. Now all I need is a soaking rain to activate the Bentonite and fill it up. Time will tell if the fix worked.
Keep checking back for updates and thanks for your time.
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.