When Food Plots Fail

A post from Lindsay Thomas Jr., editor of Quality Whitetails magazine, the journal of the Quality Deer Management Association.


I’m looking at what’s known – in the parlance of our times – as an “epic fail.”

The soybeans are long gone. The sorghum survived the driest weeks of May and early June, but while it struggled, crabgrass rose up to engulf the scene like a noxious tide.

This wreckage called a food plot got off to such a great start, too. Back in April, soil temperatures and moisture allowed for timely planting. Natural forages were abundant, providing a buffer to protect the new soybean seedlings from premature browsing. The blend of soybeans and sorghum appeared likely to sail ahead of any weed competition and shade it out.

What went wrong?


SIQDMA Newsletter for May 2011

Thank you to Travis Haas for his work on this month’s newsletter.  In this month’s edition, you will find a recap of our annual R.E.A.C.H banquet as well as our educational event, “Wild Wings & Hooves.” The newsletter is in .PDF form; if your browser does not open the file correctly, right click the link below and select “save link as” or “save target as” and save the file to your computer for viewing.  Thank you for your support of the Southern Illinois Branch of QDMA.              -Justin

You can read the newsletter here:

May 2011 SIQDMA Newsletter



Wild Wings & Hooves Recap

We set out with a goal to get kids excited about hunting, fishing and the outdoors while centering it around a hunter safety course.  We wanted to make the entire event free for all kids who came through the gates. 78 students graduated from our hunter safety course, with an overwhelming majority being children from right here in Southern Illinois.  All of the students that completed the course are now eligible to obtain a hunting permit and take part in our great hunting tradition.  While we offered all of the components of a typical IDNR Hunter Education Program, we added several interactive and exciting components to offer a more hands-on experience.  We also had several activities that we felt would help to promote living an active lifestyle and encourage children to spend time in the outdoors.

Tree stands were setup just outside the hunter safety tent, and children had an opportunity to learn about how to properly hang, climb, and hunt from an elevated stand. “Camo the Clown” made an appearance during the course, and truly left the children wanting more. He got them excited about hunting, fishing and getting into the outdoors and enjoying everything it has to offer.  Lcal trapper and outdoor enthusiast, Phil Mendenhall, gave trapping demonstrations throughout the weekend and taught everyone who was interested about all the animals that are available for trapping in our state.  He also showed them how to care for game, both in the field and while preparing it for the dinner table.  We had a 3,000 gallon fishin’ hole filled with local bluegill and channel catfish.  The children had the opportunity to catch fish with the help of local volunteers during breaks from the classroom portion of the course.  A local chainsaw carver was on-hand and took a 5 foot piece of red cedar tree trunk, and turned it into a beautiful eagle carving. Everyone had an opportunity to shoot skeet and .22 rifles with our certified range instructors.  We even had a martial arts instructor from a local academy give demonstrations and talk about all the benefits of staying active and living a healthy lifestyle.  We had a Civil War era replica cannon on site with volunteers from the local encampment talking to kids about how people lived during that time.

Upon completion of the course, we had prizes donated from several local organizations and individuals.  Drawing from the names of the kids who passed our hunter safety course, we gave away 2 guided pheasant hunts at a local hunting preserve, a waterfowl hunt with a local expert and guide, a fully guided whitetail deer hunt during the upcoming youth season with a local guide and landowner, and the Grand Prize: An all inclusive, youth season whitetail deer hunt with Dead Zone Outdoors.

The Grand Prize Hunt was won by Caitlyn Phelps of Simpson, Illinois.  Caitlyn is 9 years old and could not possibly be any happier about winning this hunt. Here’s the short list of what this hunt will include: licensing, transportation, guides, meals and lodging on a top notch property that has been strictly managed under QDMA practices for over 12 years, a “Rhino Blinds” ground blind, a youth model shotgun, camouflage apparel for the hunt that the hunter will take home, free processing of the harvest from Miles Brothers Meat, and a free mount from Rankin Taxidermy.  This entire hunt will also be filmed by the crew from Dead Zone Outdoors TV for an upcoming episode on the Pursuit Channel.  As a bonus, Caitlyn will also take home a youth model Mathews bow, and she is very excited about learning how to hunt with stick and string.  This hunting package is valued at over $3,000!!  After the event, Caity said, “I learned a lot of stuff about hunting that I did not know.  I learned about guns and how to be safe with them.  I had so much fun, it was the best weekend ever!  It was awesome to win the hunt, and I can’t wait ’till I get to go.”  All in all, we gave away over $6,000 worth of hunting opportunities, family activities, hunting gear and other items, all of which was donated to the kids at our event.

We cannot thank everyone enough for the help and support that was given to us this weekend.  There are truly a lot of people who share our passion for the outdoors, and gave freely, both of their time and money, to make this event what it was.

This event was the first of its kind in Southern Illinois, and plans are already being made for next year’s event.  Look for more stories from the event, sponsor info, photos and news about Wild Wings and Hooves 2012 in the very near future at www.wildwingsandhooves.com.


QDMA logo

SIQDMA Co-Sponsors of Wild Wings & Hooves

The Southern Illinois Branch of QDMA is proudly sponsoring Wild Wings & Hooves, and educational event hosted at J&S Scents in Dongola, Illinois.  This years event will be held May 6th, 7th & 8th and includes an IDNR hunter safety course, food, prizes, hunt giveaways, and countless outdoor activities all aimed at educating our youth and preserving our outdoor heritage. If you are interested in attending, or signing up yourself or your children for our hunter safety course, please visit the website at www.wildwingsandhooves.com.  We will be giving away an all inclusive youth hunt this coming deer season to one lucky boy or girl who completes our hunter safety course. This hunt includes a fully guided hunt that will air on “Dead Zone Outdoors” television show, room and board, free Rhino Blind, Mathews youth bow, and several other incentives that make this an unbelievable hunt. Thank you for your support of QDMA in Southern Illinois, and we hope to see you at Wild Wings & Hooves.

3rd Annual REACH Banquet, This Thursday, Tickets almost gone!

Just one of the lucky winners from last year's SIQDMA REACH Banquet.

We have a few tickets left at the moment, but they will not last long.  We are expecting our best banquet yet, and have a great collection of guns to give away, as well as some fabulous hunts.  The African Safari is once again on the auction list as well as a new Bear & Wolf hunt in Alberta, Canada.  Food will be provided by Morello’s in Harrisburg and the event will once again be held at the Operating Engineers Hall in Marion.  Doors open at 5:30 with dinner being served at 7:00.  If you need a ticket, or would like more information about the event, please call Matt Duffy at 618.806.1405

We look forward to seeing you there!

A “Must Read” by Lindsay Thomas Jr.

I found this great article on qdmworks.wordpress.com, the website created by Quality Whitetails editor, Lindsay Thomas Jr.  In addition to producing QDMA’s magazine, he served as editor of QDMA’s newest book, Deer Cameras: The Science of Scouting, and he was co-editor of QDMA’s book Quality Food Plots. He was also a contributing author on both books.

Dead Buck Walking


The researchers from the University of Georgia were so excited, you would have thought they had found the Holy Grail of brain infections. The buck was probably 6 1/2 years old. He had been photographed on the property for several years, and for three seasons in a row he had displayed a normal left antler and a strange right antler – a single main spike with smaller stickers off the oddly large base. He was on the “Hit List” for the property, and the researchers especially wanted to get him, because they suspected the strange right antler was related to a brain abscess.