Expert Answer Board
(The answers to your questions are posted below)
Tell a Friend
Current Topic Q&A's Posted
Food Plot Strategies (below) "New Postings"
Shooting Tips/Techniques (below)
Management Strategies (below)
Turkey Bowhunting Strategies (below)
General Bowhunting (below)
Food Plot Strategies Topics
How big does your food plot need to be in relation to the total amount of property you hunt?
To have any positive impact on your herd with food plots a minimum of 1% of the property must be devoted to HIGH QUALITY & YEAR ROUND (HQYR) food plots, but I prefer much more for serious management. To determine the acreage of food plot for a property I determine the ratio of food plot acreage to total property acreage needed ( i.e., 1 Acre of food plot per X Acres of property or the percentage of the total property acreage to be planted in food plots). There are many variables to consider for each property to determine the amount of food plot acreage, but some basic principals apply to all tracts. For a very intensive Trophy Management Program we push for 6% to 10% of the property to be planted in HQYR food plot and/or a whitetail friendly agricultural crop such as alfalfa, soybeans, wheat, peanuts or corn. Because agricultural crops other than alfalfa are not equal in nutritional value for whitetails to the forage plants I use and recommend for food plots and because farm crops are harvested as soon as they mature, I only give a farm crop acre half the value of a food plot acre in my formula (i.e., 1 acre of farm fields on a property would count as a ½ acre in my ratio of food plot to land size needed for each project).
Again, when I say food plot I don't mean a stand of wheat and winter rye thrown out in the fall with some 10-10-10 and then forgotten about after hunting season. I'm referring to very high energy cool season crops like Tecomate's Max Attract 50/50™, high protein summer crops like Tecomate's Lablab and ebony pea, or high quality perennial crops (grows year round) like white clovers, Puna chicory, or Bar alfalfa in Tecomate's Monster Mix™ and Alfa Extreme™.
- 1000 Acre property
- 30 Acre farm field in summer soybeans and winter wheat on the property = 15 Acres of needed forage
- We are shooting for 6% of the property in high quality planted forage = 60 Acres or 1 Acre of HQFP for every 16.6 Acres of land.
- With the 15 acres of forage provided by the farm field in our food plot formula we need to plant 45 Acres of HQYR food plot to reach our goal
(Rans Thomas, Senior Wildlife Biologist, Tecomate Wildlife Systems)
Question:What is the difference between a "hunting strategy" vs. "attracting strategy" for a food plot?
Answer:Both share one major feature and that is ATTRACTION! A "hunting" plot is one that you want to place a stand over and literally hunt the field. An "attraction" plot is one that you don't hunt over but you hunt nearby on trails the deer are using to get to the field or somewhere between multiple attraction plots which is my favorite location. For either purpose I prefer these plots to be relatively smaller at ½ - 2 Acres and located near bedding areas or major travel corridors.
I know a little secret that I'm now going to share with you bow hunters that hunt over or around small attraction plots. As you have probably noticed these plots are often small in size and they tend to get really banged up by deer browse before the peak of rut when you really want to be hunting these plots. Also, the key is ATTRACTION! I know how to remedy the browse problem and make that plot the BEST thing going in the area! It's the Plot D-Fence System™ (PDFS). I developed the PDFS to manage deer browse on food plots. This is not a deterrent like electric fence or odor strips but is total physical exclusion. Plant your fall attraction crop and then install the PDFS to fence it in. You leave the fence down for a few weeks and allow the plot to establish, thicken, and peak in nutrients. A few days before you are ready to hunt the field you literally roll up the fence by folding it in half vertically lifting the bottom to the top so deer can enter. Then my friend you will be hunting over the most attractive food plot possible, even more so than your neighbors who may be planting the same crops. To learn more or to purchase a PDFS kit log onto http://www.tecomate.com/content/index.php/dfencesystem. This is a new system and product that is sure to revolutionize food plot management! (Rans Thomas, Senior Wildlife Biologist, Tecomate Wildlife Systems)
Question:What are the best Spring/Summer seeds to plant for optimal antler growth in the South vs. North?
Answer:What are bucks doing in the summer while many deer hunters may likely be fishing or playing golf on the weekends and not even thinking about food plots? They are growing antlers and the more and better food available during this time, the larger the antlers and healthier the herd.
South: In the south we have a long summer growing season so use this to your advantage by planting the highest protein plants possible in the warm season. Serious deer managers in the south should plant large forage fields of Tecomate Lablab Plus™, Ebony Peas, and/or Burgundy Bush™ www.tecomateseed.com These crops can be planted in late March to early May and will grow and provide forage for whitetails until the first frost which may not occur in parts of the south until November. Most are susceptible to early grazing pressure and over-browse - the main reason I developed the Plot D-Fence System™. Use the PDFS to grow the ultimate summer forage crops possible!
North: With a short summer growing season it is hard to justify the cost of planting warm season annual crops when you may only get a few months of forage out of them. I do have clients and associates planting summer crops as far north as Nebraska and Kansas. Others are planting summer crops as far northeast as Maryland and maybe further. Tecomate Ebony peas will germinate in cooler soil temps than lablab - 58 degrees for ebony vs. 65 degrees for Lablab so for northern regions I recommend ebony for annual legume food plots. If farmers plant soybeans and corn in your region you can have a successful summer annual food plot program. Perennial crops of white, red, and yellow clovers, chicory, and/or alfalfa are ideal spring and fall forage crops for the north and northeast. These crops peak in nutrition in the spring and early summer - a key time for forage availability when bucks are trying to rebuild fat and muscle lost during the rut and hard winter and when antlers are starting to development. Perennials thrive in most of the soil types and the cooler summer temps of the north and northeast. (Rans Thomas, Senior Wildlife Biologist, Tecomate Wildlife Systems)
What is the best way to control weeds in our food plots this spring and summer?
First let me stress that you MUST READ the Product Label of any
herbicide for application rates and risks. Most product labels can be
found on-line with a simple product name search. Tecomate claims no
responsibility for herbicide failure or damage.
Here are some general rules of thumb to consider. Perennials such as
clover, chicory, and alfalfa are starting to flush and go "Spring
Active" as temperatures warm in the spring. Summer weeds will also
start to germinate and grow in plots. Perennial crops are responding
well to the recent heavy rains we have seen in many parts of the
country but the rains will also increase weed growth. Spray invasive
grasses in perennial plots in the spring with a Post Emergent Grass
Selective Herbicide. Some common brand names are Poast™, Fusilade™, or
Select™. These herbicides can be applied on perennial plots and will
kill grasses but will not harm the clover, chicory, or alfalfa (again
these grass selective herbicides will only kill the grasses and not
broad leaf weeds).
In situations where plots are being prepared for spring planting it can
be very helpful to apply a Glyphosate herbicide (Roundup) before you
start disking and planting. Growing weeds and grasses can make
cultivation a real hassle, especially with light food plot implements.
For planting with a no-till grain drill you MUST spray the plots first
with a non-selective contact killer like Glyphosate. (Rans Thomas, Senior Wildlife Biologist, Tecomate Wildlife Systems)
What is your recommendation around fertilizer for food plots i.e. (how much per acre, how often and what type)?
This is a very common question but requires an indirect answer. In
order to know what fertilizer blend you need to apply for your plots
and crops you MUST know what is missing in the soil. The direct answer
to the question can be found by taking SOIL SAMPLES! The information
you will obtain from a soil sample will ensure you get the correct type
and amounts of fertilizers for your plots. You need to turn to your
County Agricultural Extension Agency for assistance with this process. http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/
Pulling a Soil Sample
1. Pull several divots (samples) across your food plot - less for
small plots and more for large plots. Samples should be 6-8 inches deep.
(Ensure you use a sterile soil probe tool or shovel to obtain the
sample). Pull samples from across the plot in an evenly distributed
2. Put the samples in a clean or sterile bucket and then mix together
3. Put the Soil Samples in bag and fill out the information
required. Use a numbering system for the plots such as 1 through 10 or
A to J. Do not put the name of the food plot, i.e. "Swamp Plot" or "Drop Tine Plot". Keep a record of what plot each number represents.
4. Some samples ask for a crop. Because this is an agricultural
service for farm crops you should go with a crop similar to what you
are planting for wildlife, i.e. for lablab write soybeans on the bag or
5. Submit the samples (bags or boxes) to the County Extension Office
where you get the soil bags or boxes from. Sample analysis generally
costs from $5 to $10 per sample. The soil report will be sent to you
in a week or two.
6. The report will indicate the soil PH. This is VERY important,
even more so than fertilizer because if the soil is acidic (PH level of
4 - 5) the fertilizer you use will be bound up in the soil and plants
can't utilize it leading to a weak crop and waisting money on
fertilizer. Evaluate the PH levels (Acidic or Alkaline). You want to
keep the PH level between 6.5 and 7.5, which is considered "neutral".
Applying lime will raise the PH levels and your soil samples will tell
you how much lime needs to be applied in tons/acre. 1 - 2 tons is not
uncommon for acidic soils. For information on lime application visit
www.tecomate.com - consulting and read the article "Get the Lime Out"
by Rans Thomas
7. Now the answer: soil sample report fertilizer recommendations
will focus on Nitrogen (N), Phosphate (P) and Potash (K). These are
the nutrients that make up the formula for different fertilizer blends,
i.e. 10-10-10. The nutrient levels in the soil will be indicated (low,
medium, high) in the report and the pounds per acre needed for each
will also be provided. Your local Co-op or fertilizer dealer can help
you choose the appropriate fertilizer blend and rate for your crop
based on the soil sample report. (Rans Thomas, Senior Wildlife Biologist, Tecomate Wildlife Systems). For additional information please go to www.Tecomate.com
Shooting Technique/Archery Tech Topics
What is the most effective way of determining your draw length?
The best way to determine proper draw length is to measure your wing span and divide by 2.5. To measure your draw length, determine the length of your arm-span in inches. Stand with your arms out and palms facing forward. Don't stretch when measuring. Just stand naturally. Have someone else help you, by measuring from the tip of one middle finger to the other. Then simply divide that number by 2.5. The quotient is your proper draw length (in inches) for your body size. This will get you very close to your draw length. However there are some cautions even with this method, finger length can come into play also. Always check with your local pro shop if you need further assistance. (Dave Potts, Axion Archery)
What is the best way to get your fixed blade broad heads to fly straighter?
To stabilize a fixed blade broad head you will achieve the best flight if you use a 5 inch helical fletch feather or vane. What ever feather or vane length you chose you will have to offset the vane. This will help create spin on the arrow to get the broad head to stabilize. Also you must have your bow tuned properly, to get the best result it should be paper tuned by a trained bow smith or experienced archer. Finally, be sure your arrows are spined properly for your setup. (Dave Potts, Axion Archery)
For the intermediate to advanced bow hunter what are some shooting techniques / tips that can help improve accuracy?
The hand to bow pressure is the most critical. The inside or outside pressure and the up or down pressure will have different points of arrow impact . You must have even pressure left/right and even pressure up/down. Set the bow hand with knuckles at 45 degrees, when you feel even pressure left/right and even pressure up/down on the bow hand do not move the bow hand again. (Burley Hall, Axion Archery/Carbon Express)
If someone wants to get involved in shooting local/regional tournaments what is the best way to get started?
Find a local pro shop, most of them will know where all the 3-D ranges are in their area. If you are just getting started the pro shop is the best place to get started right. You can also get a lot of information on-line. The IBO, ASA web pages are good places to look. You can find them in the resources drop down on this website. They will give you locations were you can qualify for national shoots. (Burley Hall, Axion Archery/Carbon Express)
provide a check-list of things to evaluate if your bow is not shooting
properly? I realize that we need to re-tune our bows at times but what
should a good pro-shop be doing to my bow to ensure it is "in tune"?
Always check your bow string, this is the weakest link on today's
high tech bows. This will also be the first thing to look at if you
have a change in your impact point. I recommend you find a good string
manufacturer, I use Americas best bow strings on my equipment, they do
not stretch and will stay in tune.
There are a couple things you can do to ensure your bow is shooting
the same after proper tuning and sighting in. A lot of bow
manufacturers mill timing marks on your cams to be sure that the bow is
still in time. If you do not have these marks on your cams from the
factory you can scribe them on yourself or use some type of marker to
put them on or have your pro shop do it for you. This will let you know
if you are getting string stretch resulting in cam rotation causing
your aim point to be off target. Also be sure your rest and sight are
locked down and will not move.
(Dave Potts, Axion Archery)
If I don't want to shoot a 5-inch vane with my fixed blade broadheads,
but want to use a 2-inch blazer type of vane for more speed. Should I
drop to 75 grain or 90 grain broadhead to help the arrow fly straighter
You can shoot a Blazer vane with a fixed blade broadhead without going
to a lighter broadhead. You should offset the vanes about 4 degrees to
get your broadhead to stabilize with the Blazer vane. Be sure to sight
in with your broadheads before hunting with your new set-up. Going to a
lighter broadhead will not make the flight any better in fact it could
make things worse. (Dave Potts, Axion Archery)
Herd Management Topics
For many bow hunters we hunt on small plots of land (50 to 100 acres). What is most effective way to determine how many does to harvest?
Determining the correct number of does to harvest is one of the most important management decisions to make. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most difficult. However, research shows that for most deer herds you can stabilize the population by harvesting 20 to 30 percent of the adult does. Shoot more if you want to reduce the herd and fewer if you want the herd to grow. Scouting camera surveys are a great way to estimate the number of does in an area. Then, it's a simple matter of calculating the desired harvest. For example, if you have 20 adult does and you want to stabilize the herd, shoot 4 to 6 of them. If you don't have a good estimate of the number of does, here are some ballpark figures to use. To stabilize the herd, harvest one adult doe for every 25 to 100 acres of high-quality habitat, one adult doe for every 100 to 300 acres of moderate-quality habitat, and one adult doe for every 300 to 640+ acres of poor-quality habitat. Again, shoot more to reduce the herd and fewer to grow it. These numbers apply to deer populations across the landscape. When managing small parcels (50 to 100 acres) you need to account for what your neighbors are doing. Find out how many does are being harvested in the neighborhood, and alter your target number accordingly. In many cases, does are underharvested so you can be the beneficiary of getting to harvest additional does for your neighbors. (Kip Adams, Quality Deer Management Association)
By QDMA standards what age is a Buck considered "Mature"?
There isn't a single right answer to this question. Bucks are often placed into four general age categories: immature (one to two years old), middle-aged (three to four years old), mature (five to seven years old), and over mature (eight years and older). However, bucks can reach skeletal maturity at four years if they're receiving adequate nutrition, and many biologists refer to bucks three years and older as mature. I personally like to use the four categories described above. (Kip Adams, Quality Deer Management Association)
Typically how much more will deer antlers grow from the age of 2 ½ years of age to 3 ½ years, from 3 ½ years to 4 ½ years?
In general, two-year-old bucks will have attained 25 to 50% of their antler growth potential, three-year-olds will have attained 50 to 75% of their antler growth potential, and four-year-olds will have attained 75 to 90% of their antler growth potential. Then, bucks often grow their largest set of antlers between five and seven years of age. The above percentages can vary somewhat between northern and southern bucks, but as you can see, there are big jumps in antler growth from two to three to four years of age. (Kip Adams, Quality Deer Management Association)
Is it possible to have QDM for small plots of property (less than 100 acres)?
It is absolutely possible to practice QDM on small properties. Property ownership patterns are small across much of the whitetail's range, as most folks aren't blessed with large land holdings. In fact, the majority of QDMA members hunt small properties. The key to successful QDM programs on small properties is to get involved with a neighborhood QDM Cooperative. QDM Cooperatives provide small landowners with the ability to have a much great influence on the deer herd they hunt. I know of many cooperatives across the U.S., and in every case the deer herd and the hunters benefit from it. In fact, I know a hunter in north central Pennsylvania who shot a fully mature (likely 7.5 years old) buck in 2008 on his 35-acre parcel. Fortunately for him, he was part of a QDM Cooperative that included several landowners and hundreds of acres around him. (Kip Adams, Quality Deer Management Association)
Turkey Bowhunting Strategies
What is the best type of broadhead for bow hunting Turkeys (mechanical, fixed, new Guillotine heads)?
What is the best type of broadhead for bow hunting? The one that flies
straight... Seriously, like most anything else, broadhead choice is
more of a matter of preference and individual performance than anything
else. With this being stated, my preference is mechanical broadheads.
They fly like field tips and due to the "mechanical" expansion, they
normally will stay within the turkey. When shooting turkeys with
broadheads, if they run/fly after the shot, they usually do not leave
the best blood trails. The ideal shot is to accurately place an arrow
that penetrates at least one wing, if not both, while hitting the
vitals. This will ensure a quick kill and a bird that is unable to fly.
I have not shot the Guillotine broadheads, but like most that will read
this, I have seen the impressive videos. For now, I will stick to my
trusty mechanicals. This year I plan on shooting the Rage 2-blade broad
heads. I deer hunted with these this year and was very impressed with
entry and exit holes, as well as field tip like flight. Again, to me
the best broadhead is the one you can confidently shoot into a very
small vital area consistently time and time again. I promise, the last
thing you want to be thinking about is arrow flight when that tom is
out their spitting and drumming at 20 yards. (Chris McNeal, Stick'em Archery Pro Staff)
What are some common calling mistakes new bow hunters make when Turkey hunting?
The most common mistake that bow hunters make is not being patient and
learning the softer calls that are necessary to get that bird those
final 10-20 yards. I will be the first to admit that I would put myself
on the list of more aggressive callers. I cannot help it. I love the
interaction. Something runs through my body every time I hear a bird
respond to me calling. There is just something about hearing a tom
gobble that keeps me coming back again and again. Now with this being
stated, cuts, cackles, kee kees, excited yelps, they are all great and
can really get a bird fired up in the right situation but it is the
soft clucks, purrs, and whines that will bring that bird in those last
few critical yards that are needed with a bow. There are obviously tons
of books and articles that have been written on calling techniques, so
I will not go into too much detail around understanding how hot your
bird is and knowing when and how much to call, but what I will say is
hunting with a bow does require a turkey hunter to be more patient than
your typical run and gun shotgun hunter i.e., me. It requires you to
shut up and let the bird come and once spotted, coax him in with purrs,
whines, and clucks. (Chris McNeal, Stick'em Archery Pro Staff)
Looking to go out west this coming season for an elk/mule deer hunt. Other than my bow, what are the "must haves" for going out west?
After hunting out west several times I have learned one of the most
essential items to carry along is a very comfortable and large back
pack. You will strip clothes as you climb and walk, not to mention
snacks and water you end up carrying (use some type of camel back system). Other important items include:
good boots, energy bars, extra battery for cell phone, video cam, and
my favorite..plenty of arrows for small game..grouse and squirrels
everywhere and eat great at camp!
I like to where shirts such as an Underarmour Heat Gear or other "wicking" types of light shirts to layer. Another tip is to bring scent free baby wipes in a plastic bag. They are good to wipe the sweat, clean and keep you cool. Then you can store them used ones in a Zip Lock baggy. Be sure to be comfortable up to 50
yards and be patient! Good Luck! (Jay Maxwell, Stick'em Archery Pro Staff)
Ask a Question
Bio of Experts
Rans Thomas (Tecomate)
Kip Adams (QDMA)
Burley Hall (Axion - Carbon Express)
Dave Potts (Axion)
Jay Maxwell (Stick'em Archery)
Bill Lawson (Stick'em Archery)
Brian Stephens (Stick'em Archery)
Mark Stephens (Stick'em Archery)
Expert Answer Board
Shane McDermott (Topo Mapping)
Expert Tip of the Month