Well looks as we are a tad behind on our updates. Below are the Week 5, 6, and 7 updates (6 and 7 on same video). Watch below to see the change in these plots during this three (3) week time period. Some hilarity, tips, and general knowledge is the basis of these past couple of updates. We also would like to inform you that the updates will be becoming more sporadic as the Haastyle crew is in full swing for the 2014 hunting season. As major changes occur we will give you some food plot updates.
Mother Nature is following the script which has made for another great weekly update! Fertilizer is doing its job, and the deer are already enjoying all of the food plots. Some great tips in this weeks update from our co-host Zach. Check it out below!
This week Zach finds that his four food plots are finally following the game plan, and growing like CRAZY! Raxx Factor is the Pine Plot especially has taken the ground by storm as you could say. Large plants, and some great tips in this weeks update!
This week our co-host Zach goes over some positives and negatives that can be observed in the first couple weeks of growing your food plot. Many individuals think it is as easy as just throwing seed on some dirt, and working the ground with their fourwheeler or tractor. One word for that thought........ WRONG!
With spring quickly approaching, we must switch our main focus from looking for last years antlers to growing this upcoming years antlers! We all must realize that our deer herds have just gone through a long drawn out winter full of harsh conditions and lack of mineral/nutrient intake. This mineral deficiency can have a negative impact on your number one hitlister or up-and-comer bucks. If these bucks need to focus on keeping their body healthy due to a mineral deficiency, the antlers are the first to go. This same biological process is seen in fish as they age or have a low nutrient diet. When age and/or nutrient reduction are seen, the body processes focus on motor function instead of overall growth.
This spring your deer are going to be searching for the minerals and nutrients they have lost since the previous year's rut. The bucks have been impacted the most due to an intense rut and harsh winter. Most individuals wait to start their mineral sites when antlers have already begun growing, and have developed 25% or more of their total growth. This is a BIG mistake!
Your deer are going to need mineral and nutrients prior to growing their antlers if they are going to achieve an optimal growth level. In order to get them to this point, mineral sites should be maintained throughout the winter (minimal amounts typically needed) all the way through spring and the following hunting season. As winter begins to subside and spring shows its face, you will want to increase how much mineral you are putting out. These areas are going to be deer beacons as your herd will be wanting to obtain their essential nutrients/minerals needed for growth. Getting a kick start to the antler growing season will boost your bucks' antler potential.
Not only will your bucks benefit from having additional mineral available, but so will the does of your herd. Remember, without does there will be no bucks for the future. A healthy doe will produce healthy fawns, it's as simple as that. Keeping your does healthy with a source of mineral, especially the minerals/nutrients in the Monster Raxx blend, will help maintain a healthy deer herd all the way from your biggest buck down to the smallest fawn.
So now that you know the importance of placing mineral all season long, the other mistake that you must not fall into is just buying any mineral off the shelf. Most minerals on the market are super high in sodium (salt). This mineral may be great for bringing deer into your DLC Covert Scouting Camera locations, but it is doing minimal for the health of your deer herd. Sodium is needed for normal blood flow as it interchanges with potassium in the blood stream. However, not a lot of sodium is needed for this process to work properly. The important minerals (as seen on Monster Raxx's ingredient label above) are calcium and phosphorus. Calcium and phosphorus comprise of 35% of the total antler growth (Minerals for Whitetails by Brian Murphy QDMA). Now it is not a matter of minerals directly making antlers bigger, but it is that having a proper inflow of these minerals will make your deer herd healthier, thus allowing these bucks to focus on antler growth and less on body maintenance.
This spring make sure not to miss this VERY important step of mineral placement. Remember this simple statement, "A healthy herd, is a trophy herd".
Order your Monster Raxx mineral TODAY at www.monsterraxx.com!
Every year the same old ballgame is played. We scout deer all summer watching antler growth, pursue these bucks come the fall, and to end another season we hope to find the antlers we had looked for all hunting season.
In the last several years, shed hunting as grown exponentially! All kinds of individuals are hitting up the fields, woods, and, marshes more and more every year to find these spectacular gifts left behind by our four legged friends. From outdoor personalities down to a small child, people are beginning to obtain the addiction known as shed hunting. However, many of these individuals new to the shed hunting world are having a tough time finding antlers. The simple statement would be that as you find more and more antlers, the easier it gets. This simple statement works great, but how do you go about finding those first couple of sheds? A series of tips to help you find more antlers this spring is exactly what this article was intended for.
1. Scouting for Sheds
Just like our summer and fall scouting we go through every season to find our hitlist bucks, we must also scout for areas where bucks may potentially shed. Deer are similar to humans by how they fall into habits. We see this habits during all seasons of the year.
Based on bedding, food sources, moon phases, and time of year, deer change these habits to adjust to what nature has given them. During the winter months deer change their rutting or fall habits into a food foraging habit. Bucks have just gotten through pushing their bodies to the maximum in search of a hot doe. Now it is time for these same bucks to find protein and sugar rich foods to restore vital nutrients they had lost during the rut. Find the corridors, and you have a great chance of finding sheds.
2. Low Pressure Areas
For most hunters this tip easily makes sense. If you go in the areas you don't pressure/hunt, you will find more deer sign. Right? Correct! This same idea applies for shed hunting. Find the areas that are not pressured through hunting, or regularly traveled in, and you will find more deer sign, and most likely more deer sheds. Public land can be the toughest place, due to the high amount of human activity and hunting that takes place. However, find the sanctuaries where most individuals don't go into, and your success rate will rise. This applies to you private guys and gals as well. Go into the areas that you or your hunting group has deemed as a "sanctuary" to raise your shed hunting sucess.
3. Food Sources
When I first began shed hunting, the idea of food sources was the first tip I grasped. It was obvious. If you go where the bucks are feeding, you're chances of finding a shed will increase. During the winter months, deer can spend countless hours in food sources trying to obtain the nutrients, fats, and sugars they need to survive.
These food sources can come in the form of corn fields, soybean fields, turnip plots, or even the lonely hay bale on top of the hill. However, don't forget to search for the browsing areas of your deer herd. My shed hunting group and I have found numerous sheds around these browsing areas. Think about it, when a buck reaches up to nibble a leaf bud there is a good possibility his antlers will hit branches. POP! Off goes his antlers. So this shed hunting season make sure to make inventory of all of your feeding locations (fields and browse).
4. Deer Beds
Deer spend a large amount of time during the winter in their beds. This is to simply help conserve energy, and keep warm. Think about it, do you get cold faster walking around in the woods or when you are nestled up in a wool blanket hunting? When you are sitting their your built up calories and added blanket are keeping you warm. The same principle applies to deer. Deer tend to bed in thick cover to block themselves from wind, snow, sleet, rain..you name it. Find these consolidated bedding areas to increase your shed hunting experience.
5. Southern Facing Hills
A south facing hill goes hand in hand with locating deer beds. Deer tend to bed and/or perform their daily activities on south facing hillsides. This is due to the overall heat exchange they can receive from the sun position. Typically these hillsides will turn up 10 times the sheds than a north facing hillside would. The same goes for fields. If you have two corn fields, one on the north side of a hill, and one on the south side, the deer will generally feed in the southern field. When you find your food sources and bedding areas, and they are on a south facing hill, you just doubled your chances of scoring a shed.
6. Fence Crossings
When a buck is getting close to shed his antlers, a jostle can sometimes accelerate the shed from popping off. As Craig Dougherty wrote in his article "Why Bucks Shed Their Antlers" , the whole reason behind this is due to a drop in testosterone levels which triggers specialized cells called osteoclasts to activate. Osteoclasts eat away at the bone at the base of an antler and allows the antler to be cast, otherwise known as shed. So just as Craig put it, a buck realistically at any time could be ready to shed. This is why fence crossing are so important. When a buck jumps these fences or even ditches for that matter, the osteocalsts could be already have separated most of the antler form the base, and this quick jostle could pop the antler off. So this spring, go to your major fence crossings, ditches, creek bottoms, etc. and look close for some potential sheds or maybe even some matched sets.
7. Take Your Time
As we all know, shed hunting is an exciting and exhilarating time outdoors. This same excitement however tends to make us rush when shed hunting. We generally will skim over everything just to find that big seventy inch five point side. However, this is a BIG mistake. Sheds are easily overlooked due to their color blending in so well to the surroundings. Others may just be sheds from years prior that have accumulated weeds and grasses on top of them over time as seen in the photo to the right.
When you are walking, walk slowly and let your eyes search everywhere leave, stick, and cornstalk to ensure it is not a shed. Also, try walking with the sun at your back to help your eyes adjust easier. Another tip is to walk when the clouds are overcasted. You will be amazed how much a shed antler pops out when the sun isn't beating on it. Last but not least, focus on the ground directly in front of you and around you regardless if it is sunny or not. Searching ahead can be a big mistake if you are looking to expand your shed collection.
When you go into the field this spring looking for shed antlers, keep these tips in mind to help you become a better shed hunter. Also remember that doing research prior to the season is a must if you are going to increase the sheds on your mantle. Take your time, have fun, and good luck this shed hunting season!
Since the day that I first stepped in the woods to pursue whitetail and turkeys, I have been using face paint. However, the concept of putting greasy, colored ink on your face has been, for the most part, lost in today's outdoor industry. Many television shows display paint on their face for function, but also to look "cool" to their viewers. I am here to educate the individuals that have followed in these footsteps about the real purpose of face paint, and to show that that design you are putting on your face should only be used to help you become hidden to your game.
The notion of putting “paint” on a hunter’s face did not originate in the outdoor industry. The method of marking your face with paint actually came from our early ancestors. Our ancestors used natural elements such as mud, juice from berries, and general plant tissues to help camouflage themselves from their prey. The use of these items aids in breaking up the solid pattern of our unique faces amongst the foliage, as well as removes the glare that our naturally oily skins produce on sunny days.
As the hunting industry has grown in popularity, I have noticed a significant change in the reasoning behind the use of face paint. This change has evolved over the years from zero face coverage to the use of face masks, to the present day where we see face paint as being the primary face concealment tool in the field. This is amazing, given that I have only been hunting for 16 + years, and have seen such a drastic change. Unfortunately, the translation has been lost for many hunters as to why we make black, green and brown streaks on our faces while hunting. Unlike our early ancestors or even most of our hunting mentors, we are beginning to forget some of the “basics.” Much of this can be attributed to the popularity of hunting television, and the tactics used to broaden the brands of these shows. young hunters look up to them as examples of how to be better hunters in the woods, and sadly the use of face paint is widely looked at as a flaunting tool rather than a valuable hunting tool.
I remember getting my first bow at the age of eleven, and having my dad tell me to go shoot while wearing the gear that I would be hunting in. This concept was an eye-opener for a young hunter like myself. Through practice I learned that a face mask got in the way of my anchor point while practicing. The extra fabric between the corner of my mouth and the string of my bow was enough to reduce my accuracy. Because of this simple discovery , my dad got me my first container of face paint. Having just paint on my face not only helped to break up the solid peach color of my face, but it also helped me maintain a high level of accuracy when out in the field. As I have grown and learned more about both hunting and the hunting industry, I too have fallen for this misinformed perception of face paint at times. It was only through research and my own observations that I have realized the true purpose and potential of face paint over the course of my hunting career.
When you go out in the woods, just remember that you are out there as a predator. We buy camouflage for the same purpose as the lion hiding in the savannah grasses stalking its prey or the U.S. Army sniper concealed in plain sight. To stay hidden. The whole reason we buy camouflage is not to be apart of the so called “popular” group of the hunting world, but it is so we can hide from our prey. When you put on face paint or a face mask it should act as an extension of your camouflage. Animals are constantly watching for anything out of the ordinary when they are making their way slowly through the fields, marshes or woods. Whether it be the uniform color of our skin or the shine that our oily skin produces, our prey will see this as a potential threat.
So the next time you reach for your container of face paint or your face mask, stop and think about why you are really wearing it. There will always be a reason why items like these have been around for so long and finding out these reasons will help you become a better hunter year after year. This season go out in the field and ask yourself, “Am I wearing this to be cool? Or am I wearing this for the sole purpose of hiding from my prey?”
Haastyle Hunting Tips & Tactics - Aging Bucks on the Hoof By Kip Adams, Quality Deer Management Association
Harvesting white-tailed bucks based on age is becoming an increasingly common management strategy. To implement this practice, hunters must have the ability to accurately age bucks on the hoof based on their body characteristics, an ability that most hunters considered impossible a decade ago. Today however, hunters across the whitetail’s range are estimating the age of bucks in the field as a means for selective harvest within Quality Deer Management programs or merely for the fun of it.
Like humans, whitetails possess distinct body characteristics by age class, and with a little practice hunters and nonhunters alike can become proficient at estimating the age of bucks on the hoof. There are many good reference books, videos and DVDs available for in-depth instruction and practice on aging bucks, and this article serves to introduce the topic and highlight the differences for each age class from fawns to post-mature animals. These body characteristics are subject to differing interpretation by different viewers, but the characteristics are relative to others in your area or region. Body characteristics also change by season. The breeding season is the best time of year to age bucks because of pronounced neck swelling and tarsal staining. You can estimate their age at other times of the year, but many characteristics are viewed relative to what they will (or did) look like during the rut.
Fawns are easily distinguished from other age classes of bucks but are commonly misidentified as female deer. Buck fawns have small square bodies, small short heads and relatively large ears. Their heads are flatter between the ears rather than rounded like that of a doe. The distance from their ear to eye is also approximately the same as the distance from their eye to nose. In contrast, the distance from an adult doe’s ear to eye is much shorter than from its eye to nose. Fawns also have short necks, flatter bellies and backs, and less muscle definition than adult does. The Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) has produced an educational poster, “Identifying Antlerless Deer,” that uses close-up photography of live deer to help you learn to sort fawns from adult does and buck fawns from doe fawns using these characteristics. This makes a great visual tool for teaching hunting-club members or guests how to avoid harvesting buck fawns.
For most QDM programs, especially those in beginning stages, learning to identify yearling bucks is the most important aging skill. Yearling bucks have long legs, a thin neck, a slim body and an overall lanky appearance. Their legs appear too long for their bodies because their torsos (stomach, chest and neck) are not fully developed. Their antler spread is nearly always less than the width of their ears when their ears are in an alert position. They have a distinct line of separation between their neck and shoulders and little muscle definition. They have a thin waist, and they may have slight staining in their tarsal glands during the rut. Overall, a yearling buck can be said to look like a doe with antlers. In well-managed populations on high-quality-habitat, yearling bucks can have large bodies and even 10 or more antler points, but the above characteristics will be present and can be used to separate them from 2½-year-olds. This is why it is important to study body characteristics before considering antler size when attempting to age a buck in the field.
Two-year-olds have legs that still appear too long for their bodies, and they still have an overall sleek appearance. They have developed some muscling in their shoulders and slight swelling in their neck during the rut, but their waist is still thin. Given adequate nutrition, their antler spread can be equal to or wider than their ears. Finally, they can have moderate staining in their tarsal glands during the rut, especially if few mature bucks are in the population.
Three-year-olds have legs that appear to be the right length for their bodies because their torsos are now more fully developed. They have muscled shoulders and a highly swelled neck during the rut, but their waist is still lean. I liken three-year-olds to middle linebackers as they are big and strong but they’re also lean and fast. A deep chest and lean waist give them a “racehorse” appearance. Their antler spread can be even with or wider than their ears. Research shows that at this age, most bucks have achieved 50 to 75 percent of their antler-growth potential. They also have a lot of tarsal staining during the rut.
Beyond 3½ years of age, determining the exact age of a buck becomes more difficult because of increased variation among individual bucks. However, for most QDM programs, harvest goals can be achieved if hunters are able to confidently separate bucks into one of three groups: A) Yearlings, B) 2½-year-olds, and C) 3½ or older. Hunters who want to sort and select bucks based on ages older than 3½ can still do so, but more time spent studying each buck may be required. In addition to viewing in the field, use trail-camera photos and home-video footage to refine your estimates. Also, once a buck has been harvested, check your own field estimates against age estimates based on toothwear and/or cementum annuli ages from a reputable lab. This will help you hone your skills at aging the deer in your region or habitat type.
Because their stomachs, chests and necks are now fully developed, most four-year-olds have legs that appear too short for their body. They have fully-muscled shoulders, heavy swelling in their neck during the rut, and their waist has dropped down to become even with their chest. Given adequate nutrition they’ll become structurally mature and can reach 75 to 90 percent of their antler growth potential. They also have a lot of tarsal staining and during the rut the stain may extend below the tarsal gland. Four-year-olds have an entirely different appearance than one- to three-year-old bucks.
5½ to 7½ year
Other than in select places, few free-ranging bucks exceed five years of age so I’ll combine five- to seven-year-olds. Bucks in this category have legs that appear too short for their body. They also have several other characteristics of four year olds including fully-muscled shoulders, heavy swelling in their neck during the rut, and a waist that’s even with their chest. However, they also may have a pot belly and a sagging back. Their increased body mass gives them a more rounded appearance, and they may look like a small cow. They will have achieved 90 to 100% of their antler growth potential, and they can have highly stained tarsal glands during the rut, with the stain extending well below the tarsal gland.
8½ and older
A few free-ranging bucks make it to the post-mature age category. These bucks have passed their prime and regress in both body and antler size. They generally have loose skin on their face, neck and shoulders – usually visible as a “chin flap” – and they may have pointed shoulder and hip bones. Their antlers can show age-related abnormalities such as abnormal points or wavy or curvy tines, and they have an overall “weathered” appearance.
As you study age-specific body characteristics you’ll notice there aren’t age-specific antler characteristics (other than the range of antler potential that may be reached at each age class, and this percentage can’t be accurately estimated by viewing the antlers). Therefore, I suggest you don’t rely solely on antler size when aging bucks. Large antlers on a younger deer and small antlers on an older deer can negatively influence your estimated age. I prefer to estimate age based solely on body characteristics with respect to location and time of year and then use antler size to “check” my estimate or to break a tie if I can’t decide between two ages.
For More Assistance; Quality Deer Management Association recommends the book “Observing and Evaluating Whitetails” by Dave Richards and Al Brothers, as well as the pocket field guide to aging bucks produced as a companion to this book. Also, QDMA has produced an educational poster, “Estimating Buck Age,” that uses photos of live bucks of known ages to illustrate variations in body characteristics by age class. Again, this makes a great visual aid for educating hunters. All of these items are available in Quality Deer Management Association's online store, The Shed.
Aging bucks on the hoof is a lot of fun so whether you hunt them with a bow, sporting arm or camera, this information can make you a more knowledgeable whitetail enthusiast.
Article Written By: Kip Adams, Quality Deer Management Association, Jan. 25 2012
What Are You Growing? A Early Season or Late Season Kill Plot
Year after year, food plots continue to increase in importance for most whitetail deer hunters. We see these "Wild Gardens" as not only a way to improve our deer herd through added food and nutrition, but also as a way to improve our success when we are out hunting. However, one general discussion that I find myself being apart of or overhearing is what kind of plot to plant or when to hunt a specific type of plot. Through my years of planting food plots I have had plots that were extremely hot during the spring/summer months, unbelievable in early to late fall, and of course the late season kill plot. In order to understand these three plots we must look at what kind of seed we are tucking into the soil.
A lot of people generally think of a spring/summer plot being one that has to be a perennial type plant. These blends generally consist of clover and chicory that provide a great food source from early on up to actual hunting season. This however is not always the case. I have had many plots that were planted with a high rate of forage oats, beans, sunflowers, and buckwheat that have worked just as well. Think about what you typically see when you're doing your summer time scouting, the deer are generally feeding in soybean fields. This is due to the soybean being a very rich plant that provides a good source of energy compared to that of corn. One must keep in mind that just like a soybean field, early season plots are great up until the cold starts setting in. Early season plots can be great for taking a patterned back or big ol' slickhead prior to their movements changing leading up to the lull and the rut. At this point, it is time to start focusing on your fall and late season plots where does will be gathering. This will lead to one thing, bucks cruising these plots for does!
Early/Late Fall Plots
The plots that shine above all the rest, fall plots! We at Haastyle Hunting particularly love fall plots whether early or late fall. These plots tend to be their for your all season long. These plots typically are a blend of annual seed blends and some perennial seed blends. A mixture that we typically prefer is one that contains clover, chicory, plants from the brassica family (turnips, radish, rape, etc.), beans, peas, and oats. This collection of plants will provide different rates of maturation. The oats, beans, and peas will mature first (produce seed heads) followed by the brassica family which will mature mid to late fall. These plants are all maturing meanwhile the clover and chicory that you have put into the blend are still green and lively up to the first couple of frosts. These plots tend to be great staging areas for bucks and does. The does will feed in these areas with their fawns (if they are still around) from fall all of the way through winter. Bucks are attracted to these areas due to the does making these areas a primary feeding location. Once the rut winds down, these plots are still very huntable as long as you have put in brassica type plants. However, if you focused on having a rotation food plot, primarily due to cabbage root worm prevention, it is time to jump over to your late season turnip/radish plots.
Late Season Plots
Now that the does are bred and the bucks are in recovery mode, it is time to bundle up and get into your late season plot stand. These plots can be made up many plants, but typically the main plants we will see in a late season blend are soybeans, turnips, radishes, and rape brassica. These plants provide a solid food source for wintering deer herds due to high protein and sugars that reside in the leaves, turnip/radish balls, and beans. These plots tend not be the greatest early or even mid fall plots since the deer have yet to make them primary feeding locations. I typically stay away from these plots until my DLC Covert Cameras begin exploding with deer pawing up turnip balls. Sometimes this can take until the weather drops severely and a good layer of snow has covered up the plants. Less forage means the deer need to go searching. What better for the deer than a area loaded with plant life just a paw kick under the snow. Once these areas have been made primary food sources, you can start assuming this is where you will stick your late season animal or find the sheds of a buck you are looking to harvest the following season.
As you can tell there is a lot more to food plots than putting a seed into the ground. Just as you hang a stand according to a specific wind direction, we must prepare to have plots for all times of the year to ensure that our deer herds receive the food they need throughout the year, and also to increase your overall chance at harvesting an animal during the season.
If you have any questions regarding food plots, whether it is what to plant in your plot or where to put a future plot, please drop us an email and we will make sure to get you in the right direction.