What does "Tested and Approved" mean? Over the years our team of experts at NorthCountry Whitetails has tried and tested many products; tractors, implements, ATV's, seed, we have experienced the good, the bad, and the worthless. Sometimes, a product goes above and beyond the call of duty and proves to us that it is superior. Such superior products are given our "NorthCountry Whitetails Tested and Approved" label of recognition.

What does this mean for you? Each day we receive countless calls and emails from people asking what products we use at our facility. The "Tested and Approved" program allows us to share information gathered through testing, providing feedback on items we have actually put to use at the Demo Center. If a product can make it at our research facility, it should do the job for you, the consumer. Check out our product reviews before you make your next hunting related purchase; and do not accept anything less than a product given the "NorthCountry Whitetails Tested and Approved" label.

“The Answer is Blowin’ in the Wind”

When Cy Weichert’s e-mail came across my screen last fall I was at Kindred Spirits chasing whitetails. It was pretty close to prime time and the last thing I felt like doing was reading e-mails but I clicked on Cy’s because he is a no nonsense kind of deer guy who doesn’t waste people’s time with a whole bunch of junk mail.

Boy am I glad I did, because Cy’s e-mail introduced us to a new weather website specifically designed for hunters (and anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts). Now he had my attention because if there is one thing I need to know as a deer hunter and planter of food plots, it’s the weather.

I clicked on the www.scoutlookweather.com  link and immediately discovered Cy was talking our language. For starters I was able to locate and get a quick and easy hour by hour forecast for Kindred Spirits. It included the usual stuff like temp. precipitation, wind direction and speed, but it also offered free solunar times, barometric pressure, tides and other weather tools organized in categories based on your quarry of the day.   ScoutLook would provide me  complete weather services that are geocoded right down to the exact locations of my tree stands, turkey roosts, duck blinds or favorite fishing spots (or other activity locations year-round). Pretty neat stuff.

This in-and-of itself is great but the real bonus (in terms of deer hunting) came when I discovered what else I could do with the site.

With the click of a mouse and a little dragging I could pull up a nifty aerial photo of my hunting property. A little zooming and I could locate and mark and label all my stands and best of all, there was a nifty little feature called “scent cone” which showed the path my scent would travel as it left my stand. It read in real time but I could plug in any time I wished.

That’s right, if I was thinking about hunting my “pond stand”  this afternoon all I had to do was locate the stand on the map, enter the time I would be hunting it and there superimposed on the aerial was a  scent cone downwind of the stand. No more guessing where the wind would be at a given location at a given time. With the “select a time” feature I could even pick out tomorrow’s stand based on the wind velocity and direction forecast well in advance of hunt time. I was psyched and ready to kill some deer!

Anyone who has attended any of our seminars or read our books and articles knows full well that we believe wind direction is the #1 factor affecting hunting success---especially when it comes to hunting mature deer. The wind will determine how, where, and often the times when a mature deer will move. A whitetail “sees” the woods with his nose like a human “sees” with his eyes.

We have little confidence in scent control systems and products and are convinced that the only way to beat a big buck is to hunt down wind and stay down wind. We frequently arrive at a stand only to discover that the wind is wrong and we need to get to another stand. More than once in a season we change stands in the middle of a shift just because the wind shifted and is now pumping our scent into a bedding or approach area. In other words, we constantly pay attention to wind direction and hunt accordingly.

The ScoutLook weather system would give us a useful tool in predicting wind direction on our property.  Because wind movement is strongly influenced by topography and things like spruce clusters and creek beds, we will need to check the predicted scent cone against the actual cone (as found on the stand with powder or bubbles, or wind floaters) but in time we would be able to square predicted wind cones with actual readings taken from all of our stands. ScoutLook’s “SetZone” Wind Map for Waterfowlers and “DriftPoint” Fishing Wind Map are equally as effective for their respective sports.

Having hour by hour stand specific wind and weather info at the click of a mouse is only one of the great features of ScoutLook. Being able to locate your stand on an aerial photo and “play” with different wind directions is another. Since discovering ScoutLook, I’ve spent hours locating my stands on aerials and studying how various winds move across the stand locations. I’m able to “guesstimate” the effects of topography on the wind movement and check it out later when I get to the stand. Plus, it’s a whole lot of fun.

ScoutLook also contains additional useful whitetail information written by deer experts such as the effects of the moon and temperature on deer movement. Sunrise and sunset times are given as well as those tried and true solunar game movement tables. There is also a record keeping system for hunters interested in keeping track of how weather affects deer movement on their particular hunting areas. Basically this site provides you with all the necessary weather tools to take all of the weather guesswork out of hunting your property. 

Weather reporting has come a long way since we hung our first outdoor thermometer on the porch of Kindred Spirits.  We still like checking the old Coca-Cola thermometer but when it comes to accurate hour by hour forecasting and choosing stands to hunt you can’t beat ScoutLook. ScoutLook gives you all the forecast information you need to pack for a week in the woods or squeeze in a two hour sit after work. It will tell you which stands to hunt, when to hunt them. Heck, with a little recordkeeping and paying attention to detail it will probably give you a hunting game plan for the whole season. There is no limit as to what a clever person can do with the ScoutLook weather program.

 We strongly recommend you visit www.scoutlookweather.com.  It is a first class, year-round weather source. It will make you a better deer hunter and maybe even teach you something about fishing to boot.


Shadow Hunter Blinds

2003 was the year of the ground blind at the NorthCountry Demo Center. We tried a variety of models (pop-ups and rigid). Each time we set up a new blind, we sat in it that night to check out the deer's response to the new arrival. Yearlings and fawns all came within ten yards, while the older more mature animals held back just a bit.

Our favorite blind of the year was a rigid box model by Shadow Hunter. This beauty is truly the "Cadillac" of ground blinds. It's carpeted, insulated, wrapped in camo-clad aluminum, with amazingly easy to use windows that slide quietly.

To give the Shadow Hunter Blinds a true test, we set one overlooking a brassicas plot, while we elevated the another Shadow Hunter Blind over one of our browse cuts. As we all know, late hunting season can be brutal with cold temperatures, snow and wind. Single digit temperatures and nasty hunting conditions can really put a damper on the amount of time you spend on stand come December - Not with the Shadow Hunter! While our neighbors were sitting by the fire in camp dreaming of deer, we were seeing the deer, sitting in propane-heated, short-sleeve comfort in Shadow Hunter Blinds.

Shadow Hunter Ground Blinds are here to stay at the NorthCountry Whitetails Demo Center. “NorthCountry Whitetails “Tested and Approved”! For more information visit www.shadowhunter1.com



The last 5 years have seen an absolute explosion in trail camera popularity, and for good reason. They are not only cool and fun to use but when used correctly they can dramatically increase your chances of scoring in the field. They are used by virtually every serious hunter and deer manager we know and are probably the most important advancement in hunting equipment since the compound bow and portable treestands.We’ve been using scouting cameras for almost 15 years on our property and I can honestly say we would be lost without them. We spend hours analyzing their results. We’re not sure we could hunt as we do today without scouting cameras and for certain we would not know as much about the deer using our property. We probably review somewhere over 50,00 pictures on our own hunting property and Neil does another 50,000 for clients.  That’s a lot of pictures.

Forgetting to trim brush from in front of a motion triggered camera is a mistake you will make only once. You return a week later to find 3,000 pictures of moving brush or the buck of a lifetime screened out by a bunch of brush. Set it waist high with a nice dark background behind the deer. Always avoid shooting into the sun when possible.
Seems like there are as many cameras out there as there are users and the choices can get a little overwhelming. Prices range from about $100 for your basic digital to over $1,000 for a unit with all the bells and whistles and then some. We have had good luck with a number of models in the $300 to $500 price range. Our favorite at the top end is Reconyx.  They have served us well for years and our capabilities have grown with theirs. In the lower price ranges we like Bushnell. Most cameras in use today are digital and store photos in a removable memory chip or internally; film is definitely a thing of the past and more trouble than good. Memory chips can be viewed on chip readers or on a computer.

Remote cameras capable of cell phone or radio signal transmission are becoming more and more popular. Neil has 3 BuckEye-Cam wireless remote cameras set up on his farm and they are plenty handy. He can sit at his desk and keep track of activity seconds after it occurs. Better yet, he doesn’t have to disturb anything to pull film. It all happens right there at his desk. Same for his hunting buddy 90 miles away. Craig keeps track of a dozen cameras on a Florida ranch property he hunts during winter with the same system. As remote camera systems continue to decrease in price (this includes cell transmission packages) we expect to see their use continue to grow.

This BuckEye-Cam set up set-up beams pictures directly to our computer in real time. We can sit in our offices or pickups or even in bed and check out what is going on the back 40. Remote cameras are a bit pricey but prices are rapidly coming down. Some run on cell phone technology others use antennas and are line of sight.
What to Look For
When choosing a camera you want something easy to use, relatively fast trigger and recovery times (so you don’t miss that big buck chasing that doe) and completely quiet. Battery cost is an issue so looks for something that is easy on batteries or uses rechargeable. External displays are also handy for quick checks of battery life, number of photos taken etc. During high activity periods (hunter’s rut) our cameras set in high use areas will often take a few thousand pictures in a 5-7 day period.

Many of your photos will be taken at night so night range and flash intensity are important. White flash cameras are capable of taking some nice color photos but we lean toward red-glow units. They use less battery and are less noticeable to camera thieves. Speaking of thieves, some cameras come with cable systems designed to deter theft. Unfortunately, many thieves decide to break them if they cant steal them since their photo is already in the camera.

If you are practicing selective buck harvesting you will need a camera with good resolution. This is where it really pays to buy the best like Reconyx. Occasionally you get a great beauty shot of a buck but as often as not, he’ll be looking away or on the edge of your camera’s effective range or partially obscured by something; the majority of our good bucks are photographed t night. Oft times you are splitting hairs (or tines) when putting together your “shooter list” and resolution can really be critical. When buying cameras we always opt for quality over quantity and really like the brand for great detail and quality.

This guy rode the “midnight express” for weeks before showing up earlier and earlier each night in early November. Finally he went “daylight” and was huntable. Note the time, date, and weather (plus moon phase) stamped on the photo. This kind of data can be analyzed for all kinds of insight into whitetail behavior.

If you are mostly interested in when deer show up in large expanse areas like fields or cross roads you might consider a camera featuring a wide angle “plot watcher” lens and a timer feature to take a picture every 30 seconds or 5 minutes or so. This will let you know when and where they are showing up. Basically, it’s like having a buddy sitting in a stand all day watching a specified area; only difference is, the camera doesn’t take fall asleep like your buddy does.

As far as quantity goes, buy as many as you can afford. You will want at least 3 for a 100 acre property. We run a dozen on 500 acres but most of our property is off limits even for cameras. But before you go out and buy a semi-load of them, remember that unless you are running remotes, it takes boots on the ground to check cameras and the more cameras you check, the more boots on the ground.


We Finally Found an Archery Shop That Knows Their Stuff

     Most QDM enthusiasts are serious bowhunters. We certainly are.  In fact Craig has been in the archery industry for almost 25 years and Neil was literally raised with a bow in his hands, taking his first big game animal (a bear) at the tender age of 12. Any how, we know bows, we know broadheads and we know a good archery set-up when we see one.

We also know a good archery dealer when we see one and that’s exactly what we saw when we visited the newly opened Heritage Outdoors in Phelps NY.  Heritage is run by Mike Price a long time archery guy and world class (insert certification) coach. Mike has been in archery for over 20 years and has won his share of championships but his real claim to fame is the ability to help people become better shooters and bowhunters.

  Mike does this by offering state of the art archery gear at fair prices. 
He doesn’t sell junk equipment or fad products, no archery gimmicks,
just rock solid equipment from reliable manufacturers.  Equipment that won’t let you down when you need it most (like when that 5 ½ year old buck finally shows up)

But, it doesn’t end there.  Heritage has state-of-the–art bow tuning equipment to ensure a proper tune and set-up. They have indoor shooting lanes to try out your gear and three angle video camera gear to help you analyze your shooting form and style. Best of all they have Mike Price, who is without equal when it comes to setting up shooter with the right bowhunting gear.

        If you have a problem with equipment he’ll fix it.  If you need shooting tips and pointers, he knows them all.  If you want to win shoots and tournaments he’ll become your coach. Simply stated, Mike is the most qualified archery dealer we have ever met, and a terrific guy to boot. He knows the meaning of personal attention and outstanding customer service and makes every customer a friend. No scowling hot shot, “hangers around” at this shop, just well meaning knowledgeable people looking to make your archery experience more pleasant.

If you live in the Syracuse-Rochester NY area you need to be a regular at Heritage Outdoors.  Besides offering top-of the- line archery equipment they have a beautiful and challenging 3-D outdoor course and all kinds of known distance targets set up for fair weather shooting.  Their indoor lanes will help you beat the winter doldrums and stay sharp in the off season.  If you hail from Albany, Buffalo, Erie or Binghamton you need to visit Mike once or twice a year to keep you and your archery equipment in tip-top form.  Trust us it will be worth the drive.
      Oh, we almost forgot, Mike, and the whole Heritage gang, speaks QDM. They get it! They are one of us.  Neil does food plot and habitat workshops for Heritage and they really know bowhunting and deer management.

We have tested Heritage Outdoors and they passed with flying colors.  Give them a try.  Their address is 1886 Melvin Hill Rd., Phelps, NY 14532.
Phone: 315-828-6860. Web: www.HeritageOutdoorSports.net


Food Plot Implement

When Tom James toured our research facility late last June, we had no idea that four months later he would come back toting a totally new piece of equipment he called the Firminator.

Now, with a planting season having come and gone, we can honestly say we put the Firminator through some serious tests and we simply do not know how we managed for ten years without it.

The Firminator features rugged sixteen-inch discs, a drop-type seed box and metering system, plus a heavy-duty culti-packer all-in-one implement. It is available in a tow-behind four foot version for ATV's and a six foot three-point hitch version for a mid-sized tractor.

Test one: We regularly over-seed our plots in early spring with clover and brassicas and decided this was a great time to begin testing our new Firminator. In years past, we have simply spread our seed with a hand spreader during the spring thaw, giving us germination rate of about 50%. Not this year. With our new Firminator, we were able to straighten out the implement's adjustable discs and lower them to cut a one to two inch deep slot in existing plots. The discs spread the ground while the spreader dropped seed evenly over a six-foot swath, which was followed by the culti-packer pressing the seed into the ground. With the Firminator method we were able to seed about two acres in half an hour. Best of all, germination increased to nearly 95%. We were amazed! The Firminator was our early season ticket to getting the Demo Center ready for visitors allowing us to have several acres completed in just one day. We were sold, but it gets even better.

Test two: We took the Firminator to some bare plots and some with a thick base of sod. This time, we offset the discs to better work the ground and adjusted the dig to about six inches. In only a single pass with the four-foot trailing version we were ready to seed. We had never seen an implement as capable as this! Next, we put all three features to the test with the disc leading the spreader and the culti-packer firming the seedbed. Talk about perfection. We could see why Tom had named it the Fiminator, gawking at our newly planted plot with its perfectly packed seedbed. All we needed was a little moisture and we were ready to go. After some rain, as in test one, in days we witnessed 95% germination!

We were sure we had found the perfect all-in-one food plot implement. We know what it is like to put your hard earned cash and more importantly your time into a food plot. If you are questioning if other “all -in-one” implements are really doing what they claim or you are sick of having to create nearly perfect soil conditions in order to use your current “all-in-one model"; look no further because the Firminator is NorthCountry Whitetails “Tested and Approved”. To learn more about the Firminator visit

New Holland Tractors

The Perfect Food Plot Tractor?

If we had to design the perfect food plot and small property management tractor from the ground up it would probably look a whole bunch like the TC 40 DA from New Holland. Our 2006 model arrived early summer and our food plot work has been a whole lot easier ever since. In fact, our planting and all around utility work has been down right pleasant.

Affectionately called “Little Blue” the TC 40 DA has more than enough muscle for any and all food plot work. We put in a dozen or so food plots in some of the nastiest rock infested clay soil in North America. Most of them were done with a 72” roto-tiller crawling along at a couple of miles per hr. Average time: 1hr. 15 min. per acre. As a test, we also did a few acres with a two bottom plow and an aggressive cutting disc. The tractor never bogged down, never heated up and never even thought about asking for a break.
“Little Blue” really shone on our smaller, irregular shaped hunting plots most of which are less than an acre. Unlike some of our bigger tractors, she handily wove in and out of the tightest spots leaving no spot “unturned”. Her front wheel assist came in handy when the going got tough crossing seeps, springs and pulling out of some pretty vertical drainage ditches. The same spots that have stopped much larger 2 wheel drive tractors in the past.

The easy to adjust 3 pt. hitch hooks up in a snap and the drive controls are highly intuitive. Hydrostatic drive keeps shifting to a minimum and gives you something useful to do with your right foot. These features are super handy for weekend enthusiasts who are more comfortable driving a pickup than a serious tractor. Don't underestimate the importance of easy to understand intuitive controls. They are really important when you get into “sticky” situations and brain forgets you aren't driving a pickup.

Front end loaders are a must for food plotters and “Little Blues” was no exception. They transport seed, fertilizer and bagged lime to out of the way food plot destinations. They help you clear brush and spread gravel or anything else that needs spreading. They are also handy for cleaning out ditches and rough grading.

Unlike old tractors sporting new paint and some outdated design off brands, the TC 40 DA is 100% quality and innovation. Our new tractor is pure innovation top to bottom. No old fashioned, third world manufactured grinding gears, crude design, poor fitting parts, or sloppy paint on this baby. She virtually screams made in USA “quality”.

Our criteria, for a small property management all around tractor has always been a 40-60hp., front wheel assist, 3 pt. hitch with a front-end loader. The TC 40 DA integrates them masterfully into the ultimate machine for small property management and food plot enthusiasts. We own a 75hp 4 WD big brother to “Little Blue” but last year she hardly got out of the barn. We highly recommend this medium sized compact tractor to food plot enthusiasts and recreational property owners.

Kunz Engineering ATV Implements
NCW spent a full season testing three ATV products from Kuntz Engineering. The season is over and we are pleased to say these products are approved with flying colors.

The Kunz Till Ease Model 543 is a chisel plow type ATV implement whichdoes a remarkable job of preparing ground for planting. Adjustable shanks tipped with ground breaking shoes penetrate four to six inches into the earth to turn up and fracture the ground. The implement can be easily be pulled by a 500cc ATV the shanks remain firmly planted in the ground during use. Rocks and heavy soil are no problem for the 543 as no down cutting (as in disc plates) is required. We used the Kunz Till Ease Model 543 on a number of plots and found it to be a superior ground preparation implement. It prepares a plot much faster than typical ATV discs and is a major step forward in ATV food plot implement technology. We strongly recommend it.
Compacting soil prior to (and after) planting is the key to a good stand of food plot forage. The Kunz Till Ease Model 2148 cultipacker tool is the perfect complement to the-Kunz Till Ease Model 543. The cultipacker is 48” wide and tides on rubber wheels for transport and flips over for packing. This system is handy and simple to use which is always a good thing. The implement can be pulled by any ATV over 350cc and does a nice job of seed bed preparation. We have always strongly recommended packing soil and this well made implement does a fine job.

The Kunz Rough Cut ATV mower is a NorthCountry Whitetails favorite.We used it so much during the 2006 season that we never got around to hooking up our tractor pulled rotary mower (bush hog). We mowed our lawn, mowed our food plots and mowed our brush (up to 2'') with this handy 18 hp, height adjustable pull behind. We used it more than any piece of equipment we had. Food plotters will appreciate the mower's off-set capability. You mow one pass, reverse direction and from that point on your ATV wheels are running on mowed ground. No more tire crush popping up two hours later. A simple adjustment and it runs as an in-line tow behind. Mowing brush and food plots is an important part of every habitat development program. This implement lets you get err done with your hunting ATV (350cc or better). We enthusiastically recommend this mower.


Argo ATV's
What the heck is an Argo? That was our response when Argo's regional dealer gave a call. Two months after that call, four of us were motoring up the Demo Center's steep and treacherous trail network in at least a foot of ATV staling snow with ease! The Argo we tested was equipped with removable tracks that fit directly over the wheels and can be added and removed in only a few short minutes. The machine provided plenty of room for our chainsaws and all the rest of our gear, plus the four guys.
We do a lot of winter work in our woods. ATV's, and their larger utility vehicle counter parts, are hard working machines, but they tend to bog down as the snow builds up. Our only solution, until now, to deep snow woods work was a snowmobile; which was definitely not designed for hauling a chainsaw, gas, bar oil, etc. Snowmobiles were our winter pack horses until we tried the Argo. The Argo is not as flashy as our snowmobile, but it is definitely a better winter woods machine. Wintertime for us is more about work than play.

Besides handling work in snow, our Argo dealer noted the machine's ability in tough off-road situations. When the snow left the Demo Center, we were eager to put it to our own off-road test to see if it could live up to the Dealer's claims of being “tougher” and having “higher performance” than our ATV's. After a whole spring of putting the machine to the test and really roughing it up, to say we were impressed would an understatement. We took the Argo straight up hills and down through gullies, across holes, rode places where even our four-wheel drive tractor was know to get stuck.
Next, we drove the Argo through the Demo Center's ponds. We were impressed. The Argo went places we would have never dreamed possible with our ATV's. It was unstoppable on our trails during a soggy, wet spring. The only place we were able to get it stuck was in a washed-out ravine and we probably should not have been there in the first place! The only place the machine came up a bit short was walking on water. The Argo floated like a champ, but steering in windy weather was a challenge (especially with a load). But the machine still performed and eventually we were able to cross the pond; just not quite to the intended spot. However, considering the alternative of wading across the pond in 40 degree weather, we were happy accept the Argo's ride.

Canadian made Argo comes in both six and eight-wheeled versions to fit your particular needs and has been used heavily by Canadian sportsman for years. The Argo is one tough, hard working machine that goes where conventional ATV's will not and does what they can not. It has the ability to carry many pounds of payload while carrying six passengers in the eight-wheel version and four passengers in the six-wheel version. Tough, it not as flashy as an ATV or snowmobile, but it WORKS HARD and that is what matters to us! We are happy to say the Argo has been Northcountry Whitetails "Tested and Approved”! For further information visit www.argoatv.com