The entry sign as you drive into the modest farmyard reveals the priorities of the landowners. A big gobbler is carved in one side of the log, and a thumper whitetail on the other.
Dave Forbes, on the right in his go-everywhere golf cart, is the co-CEO of Hunter’s Specialties out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. If you’re a hunter, you’re familiar with the company’s iconic white-and-yellow packaging, and products as diverse as wildlife calls to scent-killing spray to food-plot seeds to camouflage tape.
Everything is done to perfection here, from the food plots to the bow range. As we drove in the yard at dark, I mistook the 3-D targets for a herd of impressive bucks. The range, with dozens of block and life-size targets from 10 to 60 yards, was a great way to tune pins and ensure my bow was shooting true.
The farm covers about 1,000 acres of rolling hills and productive stream bottoms. There is no livestock here, and no commodity grain production. Fields are cultivated with deer in mind, and food plots are planted to HS’s Vita-Rack blends. HS scientist Dave Fuhr holds up a choice turnip.
Fuhr enhances a lick with a dose of Vita-Rack 26, a blend of minerals and food-grade vitamins that enhance whitetail nutritional systems.
Here’s a lick site I found returning from one of my stands. Notice how well-used the site is, with the deer literally eating a hole in the ground to get every bit of the supplement.
Forbes and Fuhr are developing a next-generation remote camera. This model features an infrared light that illuminates the field of view out to 200 yards, and a solar-powered power plant provides juice for a broadband transmitter that sends HD video to a server. The footage is able to be viewed from anywhere you can get an internet connection.
With all the deer-centric technology on C and D Farms, the neighbors are pretty traditional. This is Amish country, and we see almost as many horse-drawn buggies on the highways as four-wheel-drive pickups.
The hunting world comes to Dave Forbes with new products. While I was at the farm, the marketing folks at Tomberlin, a new electric vehicle with plenty of appeal for hunters, paid a call to show off their new Vanish 4×4. Here, David Turner shows us the vehicle’s features.
While Turner was preparing to take the Vanish for a spin, a horse and buggy clopped past on the highway. A meeting of the old and new.
Of course, I’m here to hunt deer, and I know a little bit about this corner of the world. I grew up on a farm about 60 miles to the northwest of here, and everything from the terrain to the vegetation to some of the more humble human dwellings is familiar to me.
I’m hunting with Mark Melotik of Bowhunting World, and we both are experimenting with scent-covering technology. I tell Mark that his “natural-earth” wafer on his head looks like it is a receiver for alien radio transmissions.
Dave Forbes insists that we wear six scent wafers, three each of cedar and natural earth. We are fully engaged in scent control, taking a shower before each morning and evening sit, and washing our clothes after each hunt in scent-controlling detergent. Part of my job here is to see if scent control really works.
Dave has around 50 tree stands set up on his property. Many are well camouflaged in the branches of grand trees, like this white oak.
Every lock-on ladder is accompanied by a safety rope, and each rope has a Prussic knot tied to it. The idea of the Prussic is simple. It’s a sliding choke knot. You clip your safety harness into the sliding knot, and move the knot up the safety rope as you climb. That way, even if you slip off the ladder, the knot will tighten and arrest your fall.
The view from one of many seats I graced during my week in Missouri.
This stand overlooks two food plots. To one side, a sprawling clover field.
On the other side, a luxurious winter forage plot.
A good hour before sunset the deer start feeding out of the timber and into the food plots. In all, I spy over 100 deer in this tight creek valley.
Unfortunately, I didn’t kill a buck here. I saw plenty of good deer, and nearly drew on a heavy 4×4 that walked to 60 yards before turning away. The scent-control efforts apparently worked because he arrived from dead downwind. But all I came away with is an invitation to return to C and D Farms next year. I’ll be here.
At Dave and Carmen Forbes’ north Missouri farm, the land is managed for deer, and an invitation to hunt here is the equivalent of winning the whitetail lottery. OL’s hunting editor, Andrew McKean, was recently there to test his luck.