John's Journal...

How to Grow Body-Builder White-Tailed Bucks

All Green Fields Are Not Created Equal

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Do you want monster bucks on your property?  Would you like to have bigger bucks to hunt every season?  Well, here's the formula that will produce your heart's desire. As a youngster with a stomach ache, I'd willingly do almost anything to get rid of the pain.  However, when my mother came toward me with a bottle of bad-tasting medicine, I didn't know if the medicine would taste worse than my stomach ache hurt. The remedy toharvesting nothing but small bucks on your property may leave a bad taste in your mouth, but it will solve your problem. To produce quality bucks through management, everything about the way you hunt and the way you manage your land must change.  A professional body builder doesn't enter a contest, if he hasn't eaten the right food 6 weeks to 3 years before the contest.  To have muscles that look like mountains and to meet the full potential of his frame, the body builder must consume the best foods all year long for several years. And, if you want to produce bucks that can win awards for big bodies and largClick to enlargee antlers, you must understand what the deer need to eat and how to supplement their diets to insure they receive the proper nutrition.

To harvest biggerbucks off your property each year, you'll find the green-field placement on that land almost as important as the planting of the green fields.  The amount of nutritional value a deer can draw from plants in a green field depends on the richness of the soil and/or the amount of lime and fertilizer added.  To get maximum green-field production, have a soil test done. From the soil test, you can determine the amount of lime and fertilizer needed on that piece of property to produce amaximum yield of highly nutritious food to grow better bucks. "Another often-overlooked aspect of developing a green field is weed control," Dr. Grant Woods, a nationally-known wildlife biologist from Reeds Spring , Missouri , emphasizes. "If you don't kill the weeds in the green field before you plant,the weeds will rob your plants of the moisture and the nutrition that's in the ground. A green field where the weeds aren't controlled and killed first won't produce as much quality deer food as a field where the weeds are eliminated." The amount of cover available between the bedding area and the green Click to enlargefield and around the edge of a green field also limits the utilization of a green field by deer. A 5-acre green field planted in the middle of a 100-acre pasture won't produce as many deer during daylight hours as that same 5-acre green field will in a swamp surrounded by cane or briars. Make sure where you hunt has thick-cover corridors that lead to and around the edges of a green field because deer prefer to have close-by cover to step from out into a green field to feed. Too, the thick-cover section around the edge of a green field can produce quite a bit of nutrition as well as cover for the deer.

"Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, has done some extensive studies that show if you plant Japanese honeysuckle and fertilize it, you can increase not only the cover around your green field but the amount and quality of food that the deer have available," Rick Claybrook, a wildlife biologist for the State of Alabama, says. "Another food source that biologists recommend is planting nut and fruit trees around your green fields. These trees provide various types of food offered at different times of the year in your green field." The greater the diversity of highly-nutritious foods around a green field, the more nutrition the green field will provide for your deer, and the more likely that you will see those deer on or near the green fields during daylight hours.

Click to enlargeWildlife Resources in Glen Allen, Virginia, a seed company and nursery, distributes products for a wide variety of seed companies that specialize in wildlife plantings. Some of the most-popular trees that deer hunters purchase to plant include wild fruit trees like persimmon, crab apple, pears and wild plums. They also will buy oak trees like the gobbler sawtooth oak, which grows acorns fast and at an early age. A typical white oak must reach 10 or 12 years of age before it begins to produce acorns. However, some sportsmen have reported seeing acorns on gobbler sawtooth oaks as early as 5 or 6 years after planting them. Wildlife Resources ships trees as bare-root plants during the wintertime when they're dormant, and then you don't have to pay additional freight for a dirtball with the roots in it. By shipping the dormant trees, the trees experience less shock and less stress than if you plant them at other times of the year. Wildlife Resources also sells bushes and shrubs deer like, including the Allegheny chinkapin and honeysuckle.

Number of Green Fields to Plant:

The number and the size of the green fields you need to plant to increase the nutritional level of your deer and grow bigger bucks with larger antlers depends on the type of area you hunt. "The rule of thumb I use," says Dr. Woods, "is if you're planting green fields in Iowa , a state that has a tremendous amount of high-quality nutritious food for its deer already because it's a highly agricultural state, then you're really planting your green fields merely as attractants for the deer. In this scenario, you may only need to plant 1% of the property you hunt in green fields. However, if you're hunting in a heavily-forested place that has little or no agriculture, then I recommend you plant 5% to 10% of the land you hunt in green fields. If you reduce the deer herd to the carrying capacity of the land or below, and you plant 10% of heavily-wooded land in green fields, you can raise the body weight of your deer over 30% and increase antler development by 30% to 50%." To learn more about the work of Dr. Grant Woods, visit

Tomorrow:   The Proper Ingredients of Fall Green Fields  

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Grow Body-Builder White-Tailed Bucks"

Day 1: The Three Most-Critical Ingredients for Growing Big Bucks
Day 2: More Tactics for Better Deer Management
Day 3: The Three Most-Critical Ingredients for Growing Big Bucks
Day 4: The Proper Ingredients of Fall Green Fields
Day 5: Spring Green Field Plantings


Entry 523, Day 3