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GRANT: Late August, and our Reconyx are picking up some big antlers, which has Adam and I out checking out stands.
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GRANT: You may recall that last year, Adam and I developed a deer management plan for a gentleman that owned some land in South Dakota.
GRANT: Mike, the owner of that property, actually owns Wollaston Lake Lodge, which is way up north in Saskatchewan. Tracy and the girls studied the website for Wollaston Lake Lodge and they agreed with me it'd be the perfect family getaway before starting school.
GRANT: Wollaston Lake is over 120 miles long and there's basically only two lodges on the lake, with one of ‘em barely operating.
GRANT: That's approximately 25 boats on over 200,000 surface acres of water. Needless to say, it was like catching fish in a barrel.
GRANT: I really enjoy taking my girls hunting, as you know from watching GrowingDeer, but watching my daughters, Raleigh and Rae, haul in 40 inch plus pike was about as fun as it gets.
GRANT: I'm always excited to return to The Proving Grounds, but I admit, I'm missing that fresh pike on the shore lunch every day at Wollaston Lake Lodge.
GRANT: Quickest way to catch up on what's going on at The Proving Grounds is look at those cards from the Reconyx cameras.
GRANT: Well that's about, a lot better than 1,000…
ADAM: A lot better than 1,000 plus like last year.
GRANT: Yep. He look's four there. Belly, shoulders, I, yeah, I think he's four.
GRANT: A buck we call Funky was on our Hit List last year. We've actually had an encounter with Funky a couple years ago, in a food plot we call Big Boom.
GRANT: Funky's pattern has been to start in a food plot we call Big Boom during the early season and by late season, we catch him foraging in a food plot known as Big Cave.
GRANT: We don’t have enough images yet to confirm, but we're catching him about halfway between those two food plots right now. So he may be on a similar pattern and he's certainly old enough this year, putting Funky right up at the top of our Hit List.
GRANT: Been a bear season in Arkansas for years and years and a big bear season, some years they harvest up to 400 bear or more with bows, so we're only 20 miles out. So it's no surprise to have a bear and this one's radio collared, so Missouri Department of Conservation's obviously watching this young, yearling, male bear but uh, got to tell ya, I'm not excited about it being on the farm. It's, of course, a large predator, very successful fawn predator. It sure messes up a camera survey. He’ll just camp on a, on a bait site and keep other deer from, from using it. You see a deer way in the background back here and the bear sitting on the bait site. So it may mess up our survey this year and uh, nothing we can do about it.
GRANT: We've been doing the pre-baiting for our camera survey and we'll start collecting data Monday. But I can tell you already, I'm a little worried about the results this year.
GRANT: This is the first year we've confirmed that there's been a black bear on The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: Not only is he consuming a lot of our Record Rack feed, but he's leaving scent of a major predator all over the site, which certainly doesn't encourage deer to step in front of our Reconyx cameras.
GRANT: I really wanted an accurate trail camera survey this year because we had a huge outbreak of HD, hemorrhagic disease, here last year.
GRANT: Without that accurate survey, it leaves us to do a lot of guessing and leaves some loop holes in our management plan.
GRANT: Gotta go find his lower jaw.
GRANT: Early morning, mid-August, there's not much more rewarding than seeing a great hunting location developing.
GRANT: Most of you’ll know, we suffered a severe drought during the first two months of growing season this year. Due to that drought, our native vegetation wasn't as big as normal, wasn't as lush as normal, and deer really hammered our food plots. That increased pressure on our food plots, due to the drought, made our soybean be browsed over and over and over again and you can clearly see they survived and made new leaves the whole time, feeding our deer herd, but they're not gonna make pods unless they were protected.
GRANT: Most production varieties of beans, as any farmer will testify, will die if a deer keeps biting it over and over again; it just wipes that bean out. These Eagle Seed beans, that are bred to be forage producers, now they also make pods, are bred to keep growing, they're called indeterminate. They keep growing until it frosts. They're not determinate, at a certain day length they mature, and you can see how many stems this bean has put off trying to survive the drought and the browsing.
GRANT: You can clearly see the light green hue across the top of this food plot. These new green leaves have just come out, brand new, fresh, extremely tender. They're exactly what a deer wants to consume. An indeterminate keeps growing, making new, really palatable, lush, tender leaves, making flowers and just a little later on will even set pods on the bottom, while it's putting new flowers and brand new growth on the top. It keeps in prime condition for deer to browse all the way to the first frost. Not a certain maturity like a commercial bean where the farmers wanting to have the whole field ripen at the same time so we can combine and have a commercial crop to sell. Eagle's been in the business a long time, and a lot of the other companies are trying to sell food plot soybeans, but if it's not indeterminate, and it's not bred for this purpose, it probably won't function well in a little one acre food plot.
GRANT: So we're in mid-August, the first frost date here at The Proving Grounds is about October 10th. We've got 45 days of growing left on this plant. These flowers will become pods and mature, making great food for the winter, but while that's occurring, this plant will continue increasing in height, and you can see how large it is already and making new tender leaves for the deer, and other wildlife, to benefit from. When I look at the tonnage produced per acre, and the quality of the food, there's really not much that stacks up to a giant soybean plant for a food plot crop. During this drought year, there were a couple factors that made it possible for these Eagle Seed Soybeans to express their potential. Clearly the HotZone fence kept deer from these beans; you can see the difference outside and inside.
GRANT: So we've raised a successful crop and fed deer all summer. We've protected a portion of it to make sure there's food here in the winter, especially pods. Now, how do we hunt this set up? This direction is south and this is north. You see a couple of Muddys in the tree behind me. On any kind of south or west wind, we can come up the road, the bedding areas over here and the deer will never know we're in their home range.
GRANT: There's a lot of acorns developing this particular year, so we'll probably will leave the fence up during the early season because deer are gonna be scattered everywhere, eating the acorns, but once those acorns start disappearing, we'll remove either all or a section of the fence and these bean pods will be the most attractive food in their range.
GRANT: Clearly deer have been beating on this cage and sticking their tongue in here, and tremendous browse inside this wire cage and you don’t see that on the electric fence. You just see where we used the weed eater to keep the beans off the fence so it wouldn't ground out.
GRANT: Even though the Non-Typical Fence is only two feet tall, the solar power chargers provided enough electricity to keep deer off the beans, where our hard wire has obviously failed.
GRANT: Going on down the road, we noticed a little persimmon grove, I left on purpose, when I was laying out a food plot several years ago. It's loaded with giant persimmons this year. For those of us that hunt outside the production ag area, we cannot ignore native vegetation. Even within native persimmon trees, some will ripen early and some very late in the year.
GRANT: Typically, persimmons don’t ripen or turn orange until after the first frost. If you're scouting during the season, it'd be obvious because there'd be tracks and droppings, there'll probably a scrape close by if deer are foraging under that persimmon tree.
GRANT: I don’t advise testing the fruit by simply picking one and taking a bite out of it. If you consume the persimmon that wasn't ripe yet, you'd have a very unpleasant hunt that morning and probably wouldn't stay in your tree stand very long, you'd be finding a potty break on the other side of the hill.
GRANT: When persimmon fruit is ripe, it's a huge attractant to deer and it's a hot spot for a tree stand. Mature deer, or especially mature bucks that's had several seasons of this tree producing fruit, will know these trees are here, they're probably conditioned to checking it out at that time of year and I'll be conditioned to checking the tree also and setting in those Muddys when the time is right.
GRANT: Deer love persimmons once they ripen and we'll be watching this persimmon grove to see when those persimmons start falling on their own, get a little bit softer, and we're probably filling some hunts out of that location.
GRANT: It’s important for us all to have a balance in our life and one of the most important balances is to make sure you're spending time with the Creator. Get out at your Proving Grounds this week and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.
TRACY: That's pretty big.
UNKOWN: You keep that tip up, you're doing great.
UNKOWN: Almost came out.