The Proving Grounds: A place to see the results of doing it right
I had always dreamed of owning property where I could hunt and research white-tailed deer by simply walking out my back door. In 2002 God led my family and me to a beautiful property in the heart of the Ozark Mountains near Branson, Missouri. He put into place all the right people and events so that we were able to make my dream come true. However, the property was extremely rough and inhospitable for deer management and deer hunting. The previous owner had died and left the property to a hospital in another region. None of the hospital staff knew exactly where the property was located, let alone visited it during their seven years of ownership. Because of that, folks used it like it was their own by hunting, dumping trash, and even grazing 100+ head of cattle on it without permission. What roads there were on the property had been eroded by irresponsible trespassers. To say the least, it was not a deer management friendly environment. While exploring every hill and valley during the first year of ownership, I literally saw one deer and 11 sets of deer tracks. For several years, it was a conversation point if a family member or guest saw a deer track or a turkey feather anywhere on the property. These conditions probably would have discouraged most recreational land buyers, but not us. I convinced my wife that it was a diamond in the rough and a challenge to showcase what good wildlife and habitat management could do for even the worst of properties.
Why “The Proving Grounds”?
With this very daunting start our ranch became the “The Proving Grounds.” This name was adopted because I realized if certain food plot, timber, and herd management practices would work here, they would work throughout most of the whitetails’ range. Through the years, I learned new techniques and what food plot varieties would work on less than Iowa-type ground. The quality of wildlife habitat and in turn the herd’s quantity and quality have both improved significantly! The programs we’ve implemented on The Proving Grounds have caught the attention of our state wildlife agency, universities, and other resource management groups. We are regularly asked to host tours for government agencies and universities and share our wildlife and habitat management techniques.
The Proving Grounds has become a fabulous place to raise our family and conduct research related to deer hunting and habitat management. It has also become a great place for our clients – fellow deer hunters and habitat managers to learn. Here they learn about, and see in practice hunting and habitat improvement techniques that can be applied on their properties while saving them time and expense.
If you are interested in touring and learning at The Proving Grounds, contact us — It could very well save you years of work, many resources and frustration in the creation of your own dream property!
Things you’ll see and learn about during your tour of The Proving Grounds
Food Plot Establishment and Maintenance: The equipment we use, the crops we have found to work, and the fertilizer types and amounts to produce deer with antlers way better than average for our neighborhood
Trail Camera Use for Scouting and Herd Monitoring: We use trail cameras to pattern mature bucks and determine the herd’s adult sex ratio, buck age structure, average size of bucks, etc. (We also use them for turkey scouting – a wonderful technique!)
Road Construction & Maintenance: Techniques we use to minimize erosion and reduce costs associated with road maintenance
Prescribed Fire: When, why, and how – the tools we use to promote safety and control while minimizing cost
Timber Management: How to implement timber management with wildlife habitat improvement as the primary objective for timber management
Water Resources: The how, where and why of pond construction and creek maintenance/improvement
…Most everything deer and turkey hunting and management
A “bonus feature” of our property for those considering coming for a tour is that we are five miles (as the crow flies) from Branson, Missouri. To quote from a local website promoting Branson: “Truly a remarkable vacation destination, Branson is an incredible value with more than 50 live performance theaters, three pristine lakes with world-class fishing, 12 championship golf courses, an international award-winning theme park, dozens of attractions and museums, shopping galore, a full range of dining options, and a host of hotels, motels, resorts and meeting and conference facilities.” Branson is literally one of the top tourist destinations in the United States. When you come for your tour of The Proving Grounds, bring the family and make it a vacation to remember!
Tours of The Proving Grounds are given in a pickup using the established road system. Given this, three people can be comfortably accommodated at a time. The pricing is $1,000 for up to three attendees. To schedule your tour of The Proving Grounds give us a call at 417-334-3441 or send an email to info@GrowingDeer.tv.
Come tour by yourself or bring your family and break away for a day to learn advance wildlife and habitat management techniques that are proven to work! Come tour The Proving Grounds!
Visitor information links for Branson, MO