As I slowly enter the aisle for food plot seeds with my two kids in tow, a feeling of desperation starts to creep in. The shelves, stocked top to bottom as far as the eye can see, bring me back to a scene in Indiana Jones where the Ark is placed in a wooden box and shuttled down rows of unending wooden boxes to keep its whereabouts hidden forever. I decide to push on and try to unlock the mystery of where the perfect seeds reside. My goal is to grow a couple of good food plots that will keep the deer locked into my property and give me the best chance possible to take a nice buck this fall.
Every bowhunter dreams of hunting over a lush food plot like this. With the right seed that dream can become a reality.
As I pull the packages and start reading the directions it becomes very apparent I need help. I find an individual that works in this area and start to ask as many questions as I can. The blank stare that I receive tells me everything I need to know. Unless you have experience in farming I feel that this experience happens more often than we would ever admit. Lucky for me, I recently got to spend some time with Chris Hartman; the Operations Director with Heartland Wildlife Institute. She took the time to answer all of my questions and lead me to the best product for my specific needs. I hope my conversation with her will help you as much as it did me.
Q: How did you get started?
A: We are part of a company, Kalmbach Feeds Inc., and their VP of sales and marketing has a real passion for hunting. In approximately 2000-2001, he suggested they come up with a food plot mix. After experimenting with a biologist on a few mixes, they determined what worked. As our line of food plot mixes grew we started adding attractants, minerals, and a lot of other products to our line. It was almost a hobby that took off to what it has become today.
What started out as a hobby has grown into a thriving business. Pictured here is the Heartland Operations Facility located in Sandusky, OH.
Q: How is Heartland Wildlife Institute different from other companies that do food plot seeds?
A: We don’t put a clay coating on our seeds. There is no benefit to adding that, other than adding weight to the product. Also, in three of our mixes, the smaller seeds are separate from the larger seeds. We package the smaller seeds in a separate bag within the larger seed bags. We focus on nutrition and quality.
Q: What is the one thing that the general public doesn’t know about Heartland Wildlife, but you want them to know?
A: There are two people that handle the entire operation. We handle anything and everything that comes into Heartland Wildlife. The two of us handle ads, marketing, pricing, customer service issues, answer phones and e-mails, and handle website work. This allows us to give each customer the kind of personal service they need. We remember our customers and their specific needs; it is almost like family.
Products in the Heartland lineup are tested on real deer on one of the various testing grounds owned by the company. This ensures that customers are getting a quality product once the product hits the shelves.
Q: How do you develop the different seed blends and products?
A: The VP or the biologists will talk and get ideas going together. The testing grounds are mostly in southern Ohio, near Pomeroy, OH. We have other testing locations in New York, Minnesota, and Texas.
Q: How are the products tested?
A: Our VP has a 700-acre farm so they will plant the different varieties of seeds, monitor the growth, and examine how the deer respond to the mixes. He uses cameras as well to keep up with the growth rates and deer traffic. The biologist does some testing in his area too. The data is shared after the two do their separate testing and adjustments are made to have the best quality product available.
Q: What one product are you most proud of and why?
A: Our number one product is Lick Magic. We have had great response to this product from our customers. It works quickly and the pricing is great. It also will provide your deer with all the minerals they are looking for while increasing health and size.
Q: What are common mistakes that you hear about when using your product or in food plots in general?
A: Normally planting too deep our not making sure you have good seed to soil contact. Generally speaking, our seeds don’t need big equipment to plant. If you have good soil contact, the seeds will grow. As long as it touches dirt, it will grow.
Minerals are a great way to get deer attracted to your area quickly. Heartland Wildlife Institute offers a variety of minerals and supplements engineered to give bowhunters an edge in the field.
Q: How do you handle the calls in regards to people that understand the basics but are unsure of what to do depending on the seed?
A: First, geographic area is important. What is the soil type? Is it shady? What is the term of use? Do you want something quick? Long term? Once I get some basics established, I can figure out what you will need. If I can’t help them, I will have the biologist call them.
If you’ve got a question about how to plant food plots, the folks at Heartland Wildlife Institute can help get you started just in time for the fall bowhunting season.
Q: What is the most common question asked?
A: How do I plant the seed? What do I need, and how do I use it? Which are all questions we will help answer once we have some basic information from each customer.
Q: What is the best way to plant the seed?
A: With our annuals, you need to have the seed covered. Till the ground, drop the seed, and drag some dirt over the seed. With the spring perennials, the seeds only need to touch the dirt and get some rain.
Q: Where can people get more information about Heartland Wildlife Institute?
A: Our website www.heartlandwildlifeinstitute.com is probably the best place. Our Website gets rotated, depending on the season. It will display what you should be using, depending on the time of year. Facebook is another great way to get information and interact with other consumers that are using our products.