This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: 2014 turkey season has officially opened for the GrowingDeer Team.
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GRANT: Spring has officially sprung for the GrowingDeer Team as Adam and I packed our gear and headed north to Nebraska for the archery turkey season. (Laughter)
GRANT: I’m always excited when preparing to leave for a hunting trip, but I may have been more excited than normal given the winter we’ve had and the chance to break “cabin fever” and get out and do some turkey hunting.
GRANT: We met with our friend, Terron, and started making our plans based on his scouting so we could have a good sit the first morning.
GRANT: The first morning we went in very early to make sure we had our blind set up as we were going about 200 yards from where Terron had roosted some toms. Even before daylight, the toms started gobbling and it felt great to be hunting again.
GRANT: As a larger flock of turkeys entered the field, we spotted several toms and I really felt competition would take over; they’d spot our strutter decoy and come on close to the blind.
GRANT: (Whispering) Oh, there’s another tom strutting in the back. Two more strutters in the back.
GRANT: (Whispering) There’s another tom coming out by himself all the way at the far end of the field.
GRANT: I was a bit amazed at the flock kind of cut catty wampus across the field and didn’t seem to pay any attention to our decoys.
GRANT: Even when the flock was 100 yards out, I was still confident that a couple of toms would swing back by and challenge the stranger.
GRANT: But the flock kept moving further away and I was bending my neck around the blind watching those tail feathers go over the hill. And I knew for certain, that particular portion of our hunt was over.
GRANT: Based on our scouting, we went in super early the next morning and set up our blind and decoys 60 or 70 yards from the edge of the flock. As the sun started to light up the morning, Adam spotted a tom only about 70 yards from our blind.
GRANT: As it became more light and Adam could tell that the tom was getting more active, we knew within a few minutes our morning would either be bank or bust, depending on which way the tom pitched down.
GRANT: As the morning progressed, it became obvious that we had set up on the very edge of the flock. We were in a small alfalfa field where we could get our decoys set up and the tom Adam was watching was the furthest from the center of the flock, so when he pitched down, he went right to those 30 or 40 hens that we’d seen the afternoon before. Like the previous day, the wind picked up to literally 35 plus miles an hour. It was cold and brutal. Once again, not good turkey hunting conditions.
GRANT: For our final morning of the hunt, we headed back to the same field where we started. Based on the previous two mornings, we decided that calling was probably not our best option. So we set up our decoys right where we’d seen the birds enter the field two mornings earlier, hoping they’d use the same travel pattern.
GRANT: We listened to several toms at their fly down and you can tell they were moving through the timber, but we couldn’t quite see ‘em because of the grass.
GRANT: (Whispering) There he is. In the field, 60 yards out and going away from us. You little rascal.
ADAM: (Whispering) You want me to yelp at him soft?
GRANT: (Whispering) Yeah. Easy. Easy yelping.
GRANT: During the winter when turkeys are in a big flock, there’s a lot of fighting and dominance sorting out. And it may be the first tom in the field had been whipped recently, because he entered the field, took one look at our strutter and wanted to go the opposite way.
GRANT: (Whispering) Shut him up and pushed him the other way. Man.
GRANT: It wasn’t long ‘til another tom entered the field; took one look at our setup and had the same plan. Go to the opposite side of the field.
GRANT: Throughout this hunt, we compared the turkeys’ behavior from this year to last year. Our hunt last year was during the exact same week. Last year the temperatures were quite a bit warmer, farmers were in the field already and there was a hint of green occurring. It looked like springtime. The turkeys responded to calling, were more aggressive and clearly responded to our decoys, much more aggressive last year.
GRANT: Even though it’s spring on the calendar, I don't think those turkeys felt like it was spring. They clearly were in a winter flock behavior pattern. I think the results of our turkey hunt is a pretty good indicator that dates on the calendar are not the best indicator of when conditions are right for turkey hunting or spring food plot planting.
GRANT: A date on the calendar isn't really meaningful when you consider the whole whitetails’ range. For example, it’s warm in south Florida and turkeys are almost finished breeding. But up in Michigan, they still got a couple of feet of snow on the ground. And that’s exactly why I don’t like the maps on the back of most food plot bags. They have little painted zones and they say if you're in this plant hardiness zone, plant here or plant here or plant here. And those rarely work out. Those are based on long term averages and rarely apply to any specific year. So on March 31st, I got my heavy coat on – a couple of shirts underneath that, but most importantly, I got my soil temperature probe which will tell me accurately whether it’s time to plant or I need to wait awhile.
GRANT: There’s no real magic to this technique, I simply stick the probe in the soil a couple inches deep. This is the part that monitors the temperature; give it a few minutes and see the temperature so I’ll know whether it’s time to plant or not. I also want to check the forecast and make sure there’s not a strong cold front heading for my area.
GRANT: Research at several universities have shown that soybeans germinate the best and start off the healthiest path in life if they're planted when the soil temperature, about an inch or two deep, is 60 degrees at 9:00 AM in the morning. You also want to take it in two or three different places because the field that’s covered with a good cover crop, like this food plot, will warm up slower than a bare dirt field where the sun’s actually impacting the soil.
GRANT: We strive hard to plant soybeans right at about 60 to 62 degrees so we get off to the best start in life and also that early on there’s a lot of native vegetation still green and it takes the browse pressure off the soybeans so they can develop and not be damaged by over browsing early on. If you wait to mid-June throughout most of the whitetails’ range, certainly the temperature is going to be warm enough for soybeans to germinate. As a matter of fact, it might be a little warm and the chances of it being drier are greater. So, it’s worthwhile to plant the soybeans at the appropriate time and get the best stand for the wildlife on your property.
GRANT: Taxes are due the same time every year. But not true with when you plant your food plots. And if you want to be a successful food plot farmer, always pay attention – especially in the spring – to soil temperature and soil moisture. Get those seeds off to a great start in life and you have a far better crop, months later, just depending on how they started that first week.
GRANT: Whether you're outside turkey hunting or preparing food plots this week, it’s important to slow down and enjoy creation, and even more important, to listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.