This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
ADAM: It felt like 34, something like that. I mean it’s chilly.
MATT: Yeah, yeah.
ADAM: Last night.
MATT: I, I don’t, I don’t even know what I’m gonna…
ADAM: You know what song’s playing in my head right now?
MATT: The Final…
ADAM: (Whispering) See ya in the tree.
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ADAM: January 15th. It’s our last night of hunting here. Going to a food plot we call Raleigh’s Field. We’ve seen a lot of deer coming in here. Daniel and I actually hunted here last night. We saw five, but we had really warm temperatures, high winds, just wasn’t ideal hunting conditions. Little different tonight. Wind chills down to low 30s. We’re staying positive. Turkey season’s only a month and a half away for Florida. So we’re still happy. We’re gonna go see what happens.
ADAM: January the 15th. Last night of the season here in Missouri. Coming down to the wire. We’re in a great spot. Conditions are right. It’s a little chilly tonight. Sunny, sun’s just starting to break. Just a beautiful evening. We’re gonna sit back, reflect on the season, and enjoy the night, see what happens.
ADAM: The deer movement was slow that afternoon, but that was only until the sun had set.
ADAM: As the light began to fade, I caught movement through the timber and looked and saw a group of deer moving into the food plot.
ADAM: We quickly tried to sort through this group to determine which ones are shed bucks, which ones are still young bucks, and which ones might be does.
ADAM: (Whispering) All right. I’m taking her.
ADAM: After feeding on the west end of the food plot for a little while, this doe turned and starts to begin her approach back into range.
ADAM: (Whispering) She’s 30 (Inaudible), she’s 32.
ADAM: (Whispering) She’s dead, right there. Gosh. It’s been a great year.
ADAM: (Whispering) I didn’t know if it was gonna happen. Oh, thank you, Lord. But I thought, “Okay. She’s 30 yards, aim low.” I did aim low.
MATT: (Whispering) Really?
ADAM: (Whispering) Um – I’m, I mean, I aimed bottom third, for sure, but she was – she was 35 steps back, but she was walking parallel. She probably was ended up being about 29…
Matt: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
ADAM: (Whispering) …28.
MATT: (Whispering) Right here, close.
ADAM: She’s down in the plot, but we can’t spend too much time celebrating, ‘cause more deer are coming into range.
MATT: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
ADAM: Deer begin to enter the plot from multiple directions, and as light started to fade, antlers came into view.
ADAM: This was a great looking three and a half year-old buck, and although it was the last night of the season, we ended on a positive note. I was able to tag a doe and lay our eyes on a future hit list buck.
ADAM: It went through that shoulder. I mean it’s definitely double lung. I mean this is classic double lung. Bubbles all over it, bright pink blood. Was my nock – did it glow really well all the way in?
ADAM: Because it’s not – I mean you can see how bright it is now.
ADAM: Yeah. I mean, shoot, she’s bleeding like crazy right there.
MATT: Oh yeah.
ADAM: Look at that. That’s where she….
MATT: (Inaudible) Right here.
ADAM: Okay. Another great hunt. Last one of the year, unfortunately. I hate to say it. I get kind of sad, every January 15th, as the season’s coming to a close. Kind of think to myself, “What do I do with myself, now?” Look forward to turkey season, practice some management. We’ve got a lot of projects we’re gonna do before hunting season next year, so, I’m excited to get those underway. I know I can speak for everyone at GrowingDeer and say a sincere thank you for all the support throughout the season, throughout the whole year, in general, but throughout the season. We work hard to bring ya hunts. We definitely don’t take it for granted. We definitely took – don’t take these for granted. Every harvest is just a true blessing. You always hope to end a season – any season – on a high note, and unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen. Happened for us tonight and we’re just, ah, so thankful. I’m ready to get to the house and warm up and take care of her.
ADAM: It’s been a great season for everyone at GrowingDeer. We’ve had a lot of exciting hunts and made a lot of great memories. We want to thank everyone for the continued support, season after season.
ADAM: With the end of deer season, we switch our focus to removing predators and preparing for the future fawning and nesting seasons. Similar to deer hunting, food sources change throughout the season, and in early season trapping, we’re not using the same approach that we use during the late season. Trapping season is still open, here in Missouri, so we’re continuing to do our part to remove predators.
ADAM: This trap site that we’re at is really unlevel. There’s a lot of big rocks around here. So it’s not ideal for a Duke cage trap, but the Duke dog proof is a great alternative.
ADAM: We’ve got plenty other traps to check. We’re gonna take care of this raccoon and head on down the line. Don’t miss out on a great trapping location, just because a cage trap won’t work. The Duke dog proof will allow you to remain mobile and continue trapping where those predators are moving through. Well, we made it down the trap line. We have another raccoon in one of our Duke cage traps. If we find a great trap site, we’ll use it year after year, but one thing we will change throughout a season is our bait. Throughout most of the season, we’re gonna use a fish food bait, but we’re always gonna add some additives to it. Then, as the season progresses, we’ll start adding a more meat base attraction, like this mackerel. You can get mackerel at almost any grocery store for less than a buck a can. It’s got a high odor. It’s really fishy, oily smell. It’s a great attraction, during the late winter. We’re gonna take care of this raccoon, re-bait it. Hopefully, we’ll have another nest predator in the morning.
ADAM: That one’s 14. Nope. 11. 14 pound male and 11 pound male.
ADAM: Mackerel is a great late season trapping attractant. It has a high odor and it’s meat-based, and you can get it at almost any grocery store.
GRANT: January, February, and March can be brutal months on a white-tailed deer, throughout much of their range. Food supplies can be limited, and the conditions can be very cold.
GRANT: It’s cold today, so I opted to wear a stocking hat and a heavy coat, but deer can’t make those changes. They can stand their hair up and trap a little more air. That’s called piloerecting, but that’s not as big a change as a big warm stocking hat and a heavy coat, so rather than adjust their selves, they have to adjust where they are in the environment to match conditions that allow them to survive.
GRANT: If you happen to hunt an area where there’s CRP fields, or tall native grass, you know in these conditions, most of the deer will be bedded in this tall grass, especially, in a south or west facing slope.
GRANT: The reason you find deer in tall grass during these cold conditions is because when the deer is down on the ground and the tall grass is up here, the wind is sheared off and goes over the deer, so that’s not adding the wind chill factor to ‘em, but the sun’s energy shines down through the grass. So they’re getting the radiant warmth, or radiant energy of the sun to warm them up.
GRANT: You ought to…
UNKNOWN: I didn’t know if you were coming back or not.
GRANT: That’s warm down there.
UNKNOWN: I know it is.
GRANT: I wanted to discuss this in detail today because recently Adam posted on our Facebook page about cutting some cedar off his land. And there were lots of comments, “Why are you cutting cedars? That’s the best habitat. I always like to hunt cedars. Cedar’s where all the game is.” And I want explain that although you may find deer in cedars where you are, that’s just because better habitat doesn’t exist.
GRANT: I got to tell ya – I prefer a good piece of meat to oatmeal, but if there’s no meat available, I’ll eat oatmeal.
GRANT: Yeah. Get ‘em.
GRANT: Doesn’t get much better than that. We’re out here talking about preferred habitat for these conditions, Adam looks over on the south facing slope, and there’s a couple of deer in the tall native grass.
GRANT: As I was saying, most things in the whitetail habitat is not good or bad. But there’s a continuum and it’s where it fits on that continuum versus what else is available in the deer’s range. I always remember one time, many years ago, a guy introduced me to a type of forage out in west Texas, and deer were literally walking for miles to eat this type of grain sorghum. They were eating the leaves, they were eating the stocks. I thought, “My gosh. This is drought resistant, inexpensive, and deer clearly love it. This is the best food plot plant that’s ever been found.” I was so excited. Got some of the seed, planted it in Mississippi and South Carolina on a couple of projects where I was working at the time, and deer didn’t touch it. What was the lesson I learned? Well, in that part of west Texas, anything that was green that summer and holding moisture was going to attract deer. Put it in an area where there’s other green plants and it was really low on their preference. The same is true about bedding quality and bedding habitat.
GRANT: The area where I’m standing was covered with cedar trees, when Tracy and I purchased this property. Cedars everywhere. No sunshine getting down to the ground. Simply come in with some friends with chainsaws and we cut all the cedar trees. You can see the skeletons. We just cut ‘em and left them lay, and then, we burned the cedars and let the native seed that was in the soil bank germinate, and that’s where all this beautiful native grass, and in the summer, native forbs come from and the habitat is much better quality now. Even though we removed literally thousands of cedar trees, it’s more use. We have more deer, more turkeys, and more deer use this area than when we purchased it.
GRANT: Remember, deer, turkey, and quail, and most game animals, make a living about zero to three feet off the ground, and if that’s shaded out, it’s a biological desert, but in this area, there’s all kind of grass and forbs. There’s stuff to eat and cover in the area where wildlife makes its home.
GRANT: In areas where topography is pretty steep, chances are that land was never cultivated and the native seed bank, what was here before Europeans settled America, is still in the soil. If you remove those cedars, allow sunshine to get to the soil and maybe use prescribed fire – to remove that top layer of duff and expose those ancient seeds, if you will – you’ll be amazed to what grows.
GRANT: We are now on the edge of the same bedding area where we were just filming, and here, I left some cedars, about 10 or 15 yards worth, right next to a drainage. And here’s where we’ve removed the cedars and used prescribed fire.
GRANT: Obviously, this is a biological desert. There’s no cover or food under these cedars. I mean there’s just literally nothing. And literally, just within a few feet here, and every feet you go away from where these cedars are sucking up water, it gets better. There’s native grass, and forbs, and briars, and brambles. Great cover and great food. The difference – we removed the cedars and introduced prescribed fire.
GRANT: It’s worth repeating. I mean the difference is literally night and day. This is night or the biological desert. There’s no reason for deer to be in here, except passing through. Here, there’s escape cover, thermal cover, food. There’s even little green stuff I see on the ground growing up in here now, in the winter. Of course, in the spring and summer, this is wonderful. When we burned this the last time, this was turkey strutting area galore. I mean there were just turkeys out here bugging and strutting day after day. In here – not so much.
GRANT: One of the big differences that’s not obvious to a lot of people is how much water cedars rob from the land. About 40 percent of the moisture that falls on the cedar is either captured by the cedar, or held up in the cedar, and then, evaporated. And it never reaches the ground, or is distributed to other plants.
GRANT: If cedar encroachment is a problem where you hunt, consider grabbing a chainsaw and some safety gear this winter. Go out and cut a couple of acres of cedar trees. Then, watch it. See what plants grow in that area and how much more wildlife uses that area where you cut the cedars versus where you left ‘em standing.
ADAM: All this talk about cedars has got me wanting to head back to the family farm and knock out a few of these invasive trees.
ADAM: Like, when I stand up and I look at my eye level, it’s just limbs everywhere.
MATT: Yeah, but you’re also…
ADAM: But if I get down like this, I can see all the way to that little opening over there.
ADAM: We’re here at my family farm. We’re in an area where cedars have been allowed to grow for several years. They’ve reached maturity and it’s just a classic example of a cedar monoculture. The first thing we find when we step in here is it’s significantly colder. There’s hardly any sunshine coming down and you can tell the plants are struggling to survive. Basically, the only green substance we can see is moss. We can look around from the zero to three foot range – which is where most wildlife are gonna be – you can see over 100 yards through here. There’s really no benefit to the wildlife. As land managers, we’re always trying to maximize our property and utilize every acre we have. So when we compare the benefits of native grass and forbs to a cedar monoculture, there’s really no comparison, so it’s time to get rid of the cedars.
ADAM: Knowing that this part of the farm has never been cultivated, we know there’s still a great native seed bank here. So we’re just gonna remove the cedars, allowing the sunlight to reach the soil. We’ll follow up with a prescribed fire. And we’re excited to see what native grasses and forbs re-colonize this area.
ADAM: If there’s trees you’re trying to save in amongst your cedar cuttings, make sure you cut up the cedar and drag it away from it. That way, during the fire it doesn’t damage that oak tree, or the tree you’re trying to save.
ADAM: Don’t be afraid to grab the chainsaw and safety gear and head out and tackle some of the cedars that reside on your Proving Grounds – replacing that old cedar monoculture with beneficial species that wildlife can use.
GRANT: We’ve been receiving a bunch of questions asking when the next GrowingDeer Field Event will be. It will be April 1st and 2nd and next week, right here, we’ll announce all the details and how you can register.
GRANT: I hope you have a chance to get outside and enjoy creation this week, but most importantly, take time each day to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.
ADAM: (Inaudible) came with it.
ADAM: And although it was the final hunt of this evening – this evening?
ADAM: This evening?
ADAM: We want to take time – no!
ADAM: Got to dance it out.
MATT: Loosey goosey, baby. Loosey goosey.
ADAM: All right.