# 504 Grandpa Ray Food Plot Part 1


: Well there’s a pro and a con with the industry. The pro is is you get more selection to choose from. There’s more species that are being introduced. The con is everybody and their brother sees a window of opportunity. I mean that’s the American way. It’s capitalism. You know, they see a quick buck. They’re like, “You know what? I could make a quick buck. I’ll put a fancy bag together, put a deer on it, maybe get a celebrity endorsement, and I’m gonna sell it and make some money.” Sounds great, right? And, again, my thing is is I see so many poorly formulated products. So many products on the market that are not nutritionally sound. They’re not actually balanced mixes. Some mixes contain a bunch of cheap seeds that deer do not prefer to eat. Big price point, big profit margin.

So, again, what’s happened is the industry as a whole, so many people are confused. Some people don’t even know what to buy. Everybody’s got the best seed. Everybody’s got a great story but marketing 101, the guy that helped was involved with one of the most famous marketing campaigns in the United States for beer manufacture. [inaudible 00:04:58] You know, I’m like, “Well what do you appeal to the average consumer?” In the wildlife industry, you know, it’s get a celebrity endorsement. Right? But it’s because why? Why plant that mix? How does it work? And those are the things that people do not know because very few people in the industry are willing to educate and that’s why I came into the industry using my background to try to educate people. To have them make a sound long-term, not short-term, sound long-term investment with their wildlife management program.

Bruce: Wildlife management, land management and we’ve got six, we’re going on nine hours of this discussion. Why? Because everybody thinks they know everything about it and, yeah, that’s tongue in cheek but sometimes we’re our own worst enemies because we’re sitting at the bar, we’re playing Euchre, darts, pool and somebody says, “Well I’ve got blah blah blah, and look at the dear I killed last year.” And neither of them know what the heck they’ve got. And so education, education, education as we go forward at “Whitetail Rendezvous.” You know, we’ve got to educate people and by educating people, then you get to say, “Hey, you know, you ought to listen to this series from ‘Whitetail Rendezvous’ and we’ll go from there.”

WTR 170 | Whitetail Food Plots
Deer Fuel by Grandpa Ray

You know and so the, you know, when you buy a bag of seeds, here’s what I understand from especially big box stores. On the tag it says inert matter and, you know, really 25 pounds of seed, living, breathing, germinating seed, you know, 90% seed, you really don’t know what you have because a lot of that, 25%, 30% of that weight of that bag is nothing but that inert matter. Could be coating. Could be, you know, weed seed. You just don’t know. So how’s a guy really know…guy or gal really know what the heck they’re buying?

John: And that’s one of my little pet peeves, one of those little things that I try to educate by going on social media and various sites. That’s the pro and con of dealing with Facebook and other online hunting related forum areas. I can use my education and show pictures, observations, teaching tools on how to calculate pure live seed, things like that, but then the downside is you get people that just post the picture of a really nice deer, like you mentioned. “I used this seed mix. That’s all you’ve got to do in your property.” Not so simple. Every property is unique. Your properties that you’re on, Bruce, are unique. Bradbury’s Farm property is unique. We’ve got another…your piece of land that’s on the opposite side of…my piece of land on the opposite side of the road from my mom and dad’s house. Same farm, right? Unique.

Look, every little area of land is unique with different solutions and, again, your pure live seed. Your coating. Very, very few people truly understand that most basic concept and, again, I know we touched on this in other segments in the past but let me disclaimer. There is a time and a place for everything. Coating. There is some seeds that, you know, do have a benefit to have coating on them and, again, in the industry typically people are looking at profit margin, price point for the means to use it. But yet again, there is some advantages of coating. Time and place for everything. Understand when they are, understand what you’re actually buying, make your own sound decision on, “Okay, I know there’s coating in here but I don’t care. This is why I’m buying it.” As long as you answer that because or why more power to you. At least you’re educated.

Bruce: Yeah, and thanks for that. The other thing is, you know, when I look at, you know, the bag of seed, you know, and this, you know, folks hear just loud and clear. Don’t even think about having a food plot unless you do the soil test. John?

John: Well I’m gonna give you an analogy that I’ve used on occasion. You like to go hunting. Do you ever sight in your gun before opening day or do you just go grab your gun, go hop in your deer stand? I’m thinking how many hunters don’t sight in their gun? Very few, right? Well why would you not take a soil test? I had a guy yesterday ask…he’s like, “Well, should we just use the average for my area with their soil survey?” And, again, why do we want to take a soil test? We’re not gambling. Ninety percent of the people across the United States are deficient in potassium. That means 90% of the people are not putting the right fertilizers down or enough of it. Again, soil sampling is not just about the now. Everything’s just pH. That’s just about the now. It also can be a measuring tool to monitor your program and I recommend doing it every two years. Get a sample this year. Two years from now. Work it with John. We’re supposed to be fertilizing right. We probably are but let’s monitor to see, well, have we been doing things right?

Another factor that comes into play, why we also want to soil sample, you could use a generic recommendation. Put down 200 pounds of a triple 15 fertilizer. What happens if we have a drought year? Don’t have much growth. Guess what? We’ve built up our nutrient levels in the soil because the plants didn’t utilize it. Okay, alternative side of it. What happens if we have a super wet year with a lot of pounding rain? Could a lot of that fertilizer not utilized leech through the root zone? Other factors that, you know, could come into play environmentally. People don’t think about it. That’s another reason why we want to take a soil test. Not just about the now. Looking at the future and evaluating our own success in the past two years.

Bruce: I’m hearing, you know, soil tests that I’ve got to have but then Mother Nature jumps in and people out there who are farmers and ag people, they know that they can do everything positively right, they’ve got satellite imaging, they know the moisture content of this section, blah blah blah. I mean they know everything. Mother Nature comes in and burns it up or drowns it out. The standing crops in a hurricane…not a hurricane, a tornado comes through. So what did you do wrong? Absolutely nothing and that’s one thing I wanted to get through on this segment today. You can do everything by the book and you still don’t get the result. Why? Because Mother Nature sometimes is a cruel master. She just is and you’ve got to make allotments for that. And that’s why [inaudible 00:12:24] in land management with John, you know, microplots, kill plots, staging plots, rest stops, call it what you want but these small, little plots maybe will save your bacon in years when that happens. Your thoughts, John?

John: Yeah. And so here, I’ll throw something at you. If I had to sum up what I recommend, my program for my customers is risk management. How do we reduce risk? We have multiple plots in different areas. How also do we reduce risk? Everything I sell that’s a pre-mix blend has something that grows fast, which we want. Helps get a canopy to reduce weed growth. We want to have something that tolerates dry. We want to have something that tolerates wet. In some years, especially in Wisconsin, we’ll see where it’s too wet and all of a sudden a month from now it’s too dry. You just plant a straight, basic mix with two seeds or one seed, just plant oats in the fall, just plant a mix with Chicory and Ladino Clover. Works great when it’s hot, works great when it’s cold, works great when it’s dry, works great when it’s wet, right?

Uh-uh. No. And that’s why the farming community, my background which I’m bringing to the wildlife industry, I call it managed intensive nutrition. It’s risk management reduction. What we’re doing is whatever Mother Nature throws at us, we have a diversity of species and the rule of thumb with manged intensive nutrition is never plant less than three species on one block of land. In a lot of cases we’re doing five and six, and what we’re doing is we’re using a species, like I mentioned, that tolerates a…we’re using multiple species that tolerates a variety of conditions because unless even Nostradamus, I mean, there might be a Nostradamus out there but, you know, even your local weather man, does he really know what the weather is going to do this year? Maybe you believe in the “Farmer’s Almanac.” Not that simple. It just doesn’t happen that way. Mother Nature always come into play and whatever she throws at us, what I’m working with with people is…not that we’re ever gonna be perfect, which is impossible, but we’re gonna be prepared and flexible. And I offer multiple options to do a better job of handling less than ideal situations.

Bruce: And that comes all the way back to land management. When you do your land management, “Okay, where are the optimum locations for my food plots?” And then once you have that laid out, those four or five places, it takes the guessing out of it. You’re really thinking through and you’re managing your property from 1 year to 3 years to, you know, 20 years. Hand it down to your kids. And sometimes I see people get so excited, me included, “Hey, I’m going to put in [inaudible 00;15:23]. What do you think I need on this trail, John?” “Well, put in this and this and do this and do this.” Okay, got out there and bounce around and the water comes down the ridge and it poured last summer in Wisconsin so all of my seed went away. Every bit of it. So I’ve got to redo the whole thing.

But, anyway, you think about that. Folks, just, you know, go on YouTube. There’s plenty and plenty of places to go that you can get insight and say, “Oh, I didn’t think about that.” Because this growing deer and shooting deer is supposed to be fun and interesting, but we’re supposed to learn and we’re supposed to do it better. So collectively, when you hand off that piece of land to the next person, you’ve got something going on. And that’s my two cents. I mean Madison, Wisconsin, this weekend we get Deer and Turkey Classic. Or what do they call it? Expo?

John: Madison Deer and Turkey Expo.

Bruce: Yeah, and so that’s on April 6th and the show will air after that, but throughout the country these expos…expos. Expos for deer and for turkey and it’s huge. And so when you go to those, take a notebook, go to seminars, take notes, seek out the seminar speaker, or go to guys that are selling stuff and check out. Just say, “Well, you know, what kind of filler do you have in here? What’s your tag say? How do I read your tag?” All those types of things. Get smart because it’s your money. It really is. It’s your money and more than that it’s time. John?

WTR 267 | Mix For Deer

John: Yeah, I think so many people are even afraid to challenge some of these people. You mean, you hear it all the time. It’s like, “Well, this, you know, celebrity says that it’s good. He’s known as being an expert in the industry.” That’s all you’ve got to worry about. But then again, in a lot of cases, that’s blind faith. What really made that guy an expert? That expert has been pushing that seed mix, bad variety, is he an agronomist? Is he a nutritionist? What makes him an expert? Peoiple are afraid to challenge these people. For me, I love it. I thrive on it. I probably talk too much about it when somebody asks me questions but, again, you know…and I’ve had other people that have came to me at these shows, they’re like, “Well, you know what? I was just at this other booth. I asked them some questions. He didn’t have a great answer. That’s why I came to you. That’s why I’m buying from you.”

And, again, that’s my gripe with the industry is there’s very few people that do it for a living 24/7, 365 days. The industry is made up of people that have another job, that you go to some shows, they have blends that they put together based on either copying or using a lot of the same concepts from another company that’s done the same thing from another company that’s done the same thing from another company. And there’s very few…I’m one of the few companies out there that has multiple research and education plots and areas of land because, as I was listening to you open up the segment, my point is even myself, which I truly believe that I am an expert in my field not because I really believe I’m all that smart. It’s just because I’ve done this for so many years, so many repetitions. Guess what? You can’t rest on your own laurels. That’s why I do research because, again, what I know is one thing. What I don’t know, what I’m willing to learn, what research will tell me, truly that would make me even more of an expert this year, next year, in the future.

Same deal with anybody planting food plots. Guys might have done it for 15 years, they think they know it all, or they feel they’re very knowledgeable about what they do. They could be but there’s so many new technologies, different products that I’m bringing to the industry to help people to do better. And, again, that makes it not just work. It can be fun. You know what? Let’s test things out. Let’s learn more. Let’s compare to what we did but most of all let the deer tell us a lot because the deer is really, truly the expert. Not me. Not Bruce Hutcheon. Not the other guy down the [inaudible 00:19:53] line. Not the PhD. It all comes down to what does the deer tell us.

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