Where do we go from here?

When C.V. Tarter started his company in 1945 selling hand-made wooden gates to farmers around his hometown of Dunnville, Ky, he likely had no idea he would eventually be selling custom farm implements to deer hunters.

But that's a big part of what his company does these days, along with continuing sales of equipment to farmers and ranchers.

As part of an industry that didn't even exist 20 years ago, Tarter joined several other farm implement companies at this year's Quality Deer Management Association show in Louisville, Ky. who are actively courting the hunting market.

They all think the sky is the limit when it comes to sales.

"We noticed a trend several years ago that people were using our standard farm implements for hunting food plots," said Lew Gregory, Vice President of Tarter. "It didn't take long for us to realize there was a market there, but for equipment better suited to guys using small tractors and ATV's."

Other companies saw the emerging market and entered the market as well. Visions of what would work for hunters were quite divergent, however.

Most companies simply scaled-down already existing industrial plows, discs, drills, cultipackers, sprayers, spreaders, seeders and harrows.

The result was some very bulky, all-in-one units that still required a big tractor with a three-point hitch. Several companies continue to make complicated, heavy implements, and they are still quite popular.

Tarter saw the market going another way.

"We built our disc cultipacker to accommodate hunters who need a ground-driven, field-repairable implement," Gregory said.

Unlike most other units on the market, Tarter's disc/cultipacker implement has no electrical parts to malfunction, is heavy enough to dig in and not bounce, and is constructed of parts that can be replaced at any tractor or hardware store.

More importantly, an ATV with a simple hitch easily pulls Tarter's unit.

The trend toward pull-type implements versus three-point connected implements is a trend within the trend.

Though many deer hunters dream of owning a 50-horse tractor, most can't justify the cost or find space to store one. An ATV, on the other hand, is much smaller, easier to store and costs a lot less money.

No current ATV's come equipped with a three-point hitch, but most are factory equipped with a receiver for a Reese-type hitch.

Tarter isn't the only company to recognize the demand for pull-type, scaled-down farm implements.

Best Outdoors took the very reliable Yetter 71-Flex seeder unit manufactured by John Deere for large farming operations and adapted it for hunters.

The result was their Row Model 11, row crop planter, which was on display at this year's QDMA convention.

Though they also make a unit that can be attached with a three-point hitch, their pull-behind model is wildly popular with food plotters.

Like Tarter's unit, Best designed their product so parts are easily replaced. Since the Best Outdoors planter is built on a John Deere design, parts are available for it at John Deere stores across the country.

"Thanks in large part to groups like QDMA, hunters are more educated about planting than ever," Gregory said . "We'll keep adapting, but who knows where we'll all be in this industry 10 years from now?"