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GRANT: Last week, you saw us in south Florida chasing turkeys.
GRANT: (Whispering) I’m good, if you are.
ADAM: (Whispering) Take it. Take it.
GRANT: Before turkey season opened in south Florida, I headed out to the palmettos with my Rival bow, to see if I could stick a couple of hogs.
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GRANT: Hogs are not native to this continent. Most researchers believe that Ponce de Leon or Hernando de Soto released hogs in south Florida during the early 1500’s, as a way to provide meet to their crews. Whatever the case, there’s plenty of hogs in south Florida now.
GRANT: This is not good news for landowners in the area. Hogs do a tremendous amount of damage to orange groves and agricultural crops throughout Florida. And they do more than a billion dollars of damage throughout the state.
GRANT: (Whispering) Far left.
ADAM: (Whispering) Okay. I’m on it.
GRANT: I really enjoy hunting hogs. I don’t want ‘em here at The Proving Grounds. I know how much damage they can do and the diseases that they carry. But whenever I’m in hog country, I always want to take time and help remove a few.
GRANT: It’s legal in Florida for hunters on private property to use bait to attract hogs, and our host had placed a feeder about 25 yards in front of the blind and had it programmed to spread corn about 7:00 AM.
GRANT: (Whispering) Here they come running.
GRANT: (Whispering) Brown one. Come on. Run.
GRANT: Just moments after the feeder went off, we heard the palmetto bushes rattling and soon after saw hogs coming out of bushes and headed right for the feeder.
GRANT: (Whispering) Oh, there’s more coming. More coming.
GRANT: (Whispering) I got grass right on the kill zone.
GRANT: With several hogs grouped up beneath the feeder and all moving around, we waited patiently ‘til we had a good shot opportunity at the largest hog.
GRANT: (Whispering) Nope.
GRANT: (Whispering) Black.
GRANT: (Whispering) You on it?
ADAM: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: (Whispering) Perfect. Perfect. Pass through.
GRANT: (Whispering) Hogs came in to the feeder. Kind of had to wait for the biggest one to get around. I was all nervous, to tell you the truth, and finally got quartering away. I thought it was a great shot, but we’ll find out.
GRANT: It looked like a great hit, but we’re early in the morning and we’d driven a long way. So Adam and I decided to stay in the blind, to see if that same sounder, or even different hogs, would come to the feeder.
GRANT: Suddenly, we see movement to our left, and it’s another hog approaching the feeder.
GRANT: (Whispering) I’m gonna take that if you’re ready.
ADAM: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: (Whispering) GoPro’s on.
GRANT: (Whispering) It’s quartering to me.
GRANT: (Whispering) There we go.
GRANT: (Whispering) There we go.
GRANT: (Whispering) Now.
GRANT: (Whispering) Now.
ADAM: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: Perfect. Perfect.
GRANT: (Whispering) I can see the blood on the side (inaudible). It’s down. It’s down. Perfect. That’s what you drive all night to get to Florida for, right there folks. Man. I love that.
GRANT: (Whispering) Hogs provide some great late winter activity. They do a huge amount of damage and I don’t want ‘em around my house, but I don’t mind driving to Florida to hunt ‘em, since they’re already here.
GRANT: This hog only went about 50 yards, after the Havoc broadhead hit its mark.
GRANT: Yeah. It’s going right here.
GRANT: Right there, too. Yeah. I lost it right here somewhere.
ADAM: Yeah. You might look to your left a little bit. A little harder.
GRANT: I looked – I looked real hard right over here. (Laughter)
GRANT: Through the shoulder.
GRANT: Not close to it. Through the shoulder.
CHRIS: That’s impressive.
GRANT: That’s cool, man. Thank you. That’s awesome.
GRANT: Hog number two for the morning. Of course, you can see the bale blind right behind me. This hog only made it 50, 60 yards. Time to go back to camp and make a little pork.
GRANT: I dress a hog exactly like I do a deer, except I always wear gloves. Hogs have a higher likelihood of carrying disease that’s contagious to humans than deer do. So if you’re hog hunting, you’re successful, you want to use precautions and make sure you’ve got gloves on. Exactly like on a deer, but even more important on a hog, you want to cut from the inside out, not the outside in, and that will leave the hair attached to the skin and not on the meat. ‘Cause hog hair can be really difficult to get off all the meat.
GRANT: I took some time skinning out this hog, ‘cause I wanted to check out the wound channel. Hog was strongly quartering away. Went in here, come all the way through the vitals. Shoulder was back like this, come out the very center of the shoulder. If you’ve ever done any hog hunting, you know how tough the shoulder is on a hog. I was really impressed with the Havoc and how tough it is.
GRANT: Just like a deer, the first cut I remove is the ball roast, which is the front part of the ham. I simply follow the femur down; follow the line of the meat. Take it off. And when you’re done, you really don’t leave any meat on there at all, but you got no bone. You can take a whole lot home with ya.
GRANT: And then, of course, all you gotta do is hit that button. You can just take that out and put another one in.
GRANT: Yeah. For, for elk hunting you can carry one knife and three or four blades and instead of carrying four or five knives, like everybody does. I’ve probably cleaned four or five deer with that, and then, did this.
GRANT: We had a great experience in south Florida. We were able to accomplish our mission and take a few hogs off Chris and Tina’s farm and get some fresh pork to bring back to Missouri.
JOHN: Hang on.
JOHN: That, that line goes all the way. Now like a, an area like this, do you get enough sun?
GRANT: Oh man. Yeah. (Fades out)
GRANT: During this trip, we also stopped by South Carolina and visited with John Stevens. John had told us that on his family farm, he’d noticed a steady decrease in buck quality during the past several years.
GRANT: I want that whole thing in beans.
GRANT: It’s gonna change…it’s…
GRANT: I, I’m gonna pay for myself real easy today. It’s gonna change your hunt.
GRANT: As we began touring John’s farm, we noticed it was very similar to much of the south. It included a lot of planted pines, some hardwoods, and a few openings. Planted pines are extremely common in the south. It’s a cash crop in the south, just like corn or soybeans are in the Midwest.
GRANT: Okay. We’re working in South Carolina today with John Stevens. John, thanks for having us down.
GRANT: And creating a plan to improve his property, and one of our first stops, we stop at his pine stand right behind me. And the first thing I noticed, of course, it’s volunteer seeded in. You’d never plant trees this thick. And just like having too many deer per square mile where there’s not enough food to go around, there’s so many pine trees here and their crown is real skinny and they’re not gonna ever produce big trees. And if trees aren’t healthy, then, what’s living below ‘em – deer and turkey – can’t be healthy. So first thing we’re gonna prescribe for John, on this property, is to thin this down to about 60 feet per acre, 60 basal feet. So that means if we took all the trees and pushed ‘em together, we’d end up with 60 square feet. But that’s gonna be spread out over an acre. Get some sunshine down to the forest floor, allow some grasses and forbs to come up and have some food, cover, bedding, all at once.
GRANT: Our first recommendation at John’s place was to work with a local forester and have these pines thinned. We laid out a plan to show the ideal thinning operation for timber and wildlife production. Usually, good forestry and good wildlife habitat management go hand in hand.
GRANT: So, like when they’re browsing on this, you, you can see the browse line. No leaves down here and leaves up here. Uh, when, and that’s multiflora rose right here. This isn’t even blackberry. That’s multiflora rose. And when they’re browsing that that hard, you got hungry deer. Yeah. You’re not gonna grow what you want.
GRANT: This is Smilax. Depending on where you are in America, you might call it greenbrier, or catbrier. No one really likes it, cause it can cut ya, but deer love to eat it. You would be surprised. These leaves are very digestible, high in protein. There’s no Smilax up to about 5 ½, 6 feet tall, and this is clearly been browsed off. I can see, even browse here where this has been browsed off. Honeysuckle, right here. Honeysuckle vines all below us – not a single leaf. Not one leaf down here. Up to about 4 ½, 5, five feet tall, and then, even more higher. These deer are hungry. And we’re in a large open area that used to be a pasture, or an orchard, so we’ve already prescribed for John to plant this in forage soybeans. And in just that one change, putting four or five acres of forage soybeans will totally eliminate the dependency on this native low quality browse. And I suspect easily, we’re talking realistically, you know 5, 10, 15 inches of antler gain, by liming, fertilizing, and putting the appropriate forage out here for this deer herd – to be available. Just that one simple change will probably change the hunting on this property.
GRANT: We also noticed the food plot crops – mainly wheat – at John’s property had a yellow tint. And yellow in young wheat usually means a lack in nutrients – probably, a lack in nitrogen. When plants don’t have nutrients, they can’t transfer them to the deer. Another easy fix on John’s property.
JOHN: You know we have – like here’s some clover over here that’s not doing that well. It was just planted, but why would they, why would they browse like that, instead of going?
GRANT: Is that, did you really fertilize that well?
GRANT: That’s why.
GRANT: So, that tree has, you know, I don’t know, 15, 20 year old root system, down to where there’s some mineral. That young plant is in highly eroded soil that hadn’t been fertilized.
GRANT: There’s nothing there for to make that – just cause it’s clover doesn’t mean it’s good.
GRANT: We enjoyed touring your property and we’ll have a long list of things to do, but overall, there’s three general trends you need to improve, or three things you need to work on, to improve the quality of your deer herd and the huntability of your deer. And the first would be the deer are hungry. I mean all the Smilax and honeysuckle and everything’s browsed up head high, basically.
GRANT: So, we’re gonna need to do some thinning.
JOHN: All right.
GRANT: We’re gonna need to have the forester come in. We’re gonna write out a plan to have the forester implement. And then, the pines, it’s easy. You’ve got merchantable timber where we can cut, and you’ll get some profit to put towards food plots, or whatever – make momma a little happier. And thin that out where it’s not canopy to canopy. Get some sunshine coming down.
JOHN: All right.
GRANT: Uh, we’re gonna need to make some larger food plots. So in some areas, we’re going to actually remove all the trees and, and get larger areas to plant. Because native vegetation’s one thing. Maybe a thousand, two thousand pounds per acre, but we can grow five, six, seven thousand pounds per acre, with a food plot. That’s a big difference. And then, we want a soil sample, cause remember, if the nutrients aren’t in the dirt, they can’t be transferred to the deer – and you’ve admitted, just got a little slack for a year, or two…
GRANT: …and hadn’t put a lot of fertilizer down. So we’ve got, now, soil tests from every field. We’ll look at those results and come up with a recommendation of lime and fertilizer for each plot. And that’s an annual process. We’re gonna do that every year.
GRANT: Basically, we’re gonna use forage soybeans as our main supplement food – intermixed with clover in the smaller areas, of which aren’t large enough to grow soybeans, due to browse pressure. And I think you’ll be able to hold your deer density where it is, or even let it increase a little bit, more deer per square mile. And also, increase the quality, cause we’re gonna be adding so much more food than we have. So more targets, more deer, bigger deer, but you gotta do some work to get there.
JOHN: Sounds like a plan.
GRANT: All right. Thanks for the opportunity.
JOHN: Thank you.
GRANT: Combination of thinning the pine stands, to allow more forage to grow in the forest, and doing a better job of managing the openings – by taking a soil test, using forage soybeans to get maximum tonnage of high quality forage, and over seeding those soybeans with the fall blend, like Broadside – will turn around the deer herd quality at John’s farm in short order.
GRANT: So, your goal here – which I think you can do – is to grow some three and four year old bucks and give ‘em enough nutrition to express the more potential than they are now.
GRANT: Once we returned home, we created a habitat management map for John’s property and a detailed written report giving him a step-by-step plan to improve the habitat and deer herd quality.
GRANT: We had a safe trip home and are excited for our next adventure. I hope you have a chance to get outside and have an adventure this week and enjoy Creation. But whatever you do, please take time every day to be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.