This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
DANIEL: Everyone here at GrowingDeer wants to thank you for your intentional prayers and thoughts for Raleigh and Grant as they headed up to the Mayo Clinic last week.
DANIEL: I’m happy to report that both Raleigh and Grant’s surgery went well. Raleigh is out of the hospital and Grant is leaving today.
DANIEL: Raleigh’s incredible sacrificial love is an inspiration to all of us.
GRANT: Seven days out from the transplant. I feel great. In addition, I plan on chasing elk in the Rocky Mountains about 35 days from now. Watch and see.
DANIEL: Grant will remain at the Mayo Clinic for a week or two as the doctors try to balance his new medication. I want to thank you, again, for all of your prayers. And you can bet both Raleigh and Grant are ready to get back to The Proving Grounds and start hunting deer on opening day.
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DANIEL: Deer season is just around the corner and we've got velvet bucks on our mind.
TYLER: (Whispering) No, you're not gonna see it.
LUKE: (Whispering) There’s a good deer down there.
TYLER: (Whispering) Let me see it.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
DANIEL: Recently, Tyler and the guys headed to a Redneck Blind to scout for velvet bucks using the Nikon and iSPOTTER.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
DANIEL: I tell you what. It doesn’t get any better than sitting in a Redneck Blind watching velvet bucks during the summer.
DANIEL: Not only are we scouting, but we’re planning our hunting strategies and preparing our Summit stands.
DANIEL: Deer movement can change from year to year as the habitat changes.
DANIEL: Creating food plots and improving native habitat – well, it creates bottlenecks and causes deer to shift their movement to more desirable areas.
DANIEL: If deer movement shifts, that means we also have to change our hunting strategies. That means we may move our treestands around each year. However, there is treestand locations that are tried and true year after year.
DANIEL: As deer season gets closer and closer, we’re getting our Summit stands ready for opening day.
DANIEL: We leave our stands and ladders in the tree throughout the entire year. But during the late summer, we come in and we check ‘em and make sure they're safe and secure for this fall.
DANIEL: Throughout the year, several things can happen. The straps can actually become weathered and worn and not be as strong as they once were. In that case, sometimes we need to replace a couple straps.
DANIEL: The tree still grows throughout the year and puts even more pressure on those straps. Not only does this put a lot of pressure on the straps; it puts a lot of pressure on the tree.
DANIEL: In fact, you can actually girdle the tree and kill it if you leave the straps on there for an extended amount of time. When we’re checking all our stands, we’re always wearing a safety harness and we are clipped into a safety line or a lineman rope from the moment we leave the ground.
DANIEL: We love using a lineman rope when working on a treestand. You just throw it around the tree; clip it on to both sides of your waist. You're hooked onto the tree and you’ve got both hands to work with the stand.
DANIEL: These Ozark Mountains are tough to hunt. So, when we find a great stand location, we want to make sure that tree lives as long as possible.
DANIEL: This tree here has a proven track record. We’ve tagged a lot of does out of this food plot, which we call BPP, and Raleigh has even tagged a great buck walking along the edge of this food plot.
GRANT: You nailed him; you nailed him.
DANIEL: When we readjust the straps, we don’t want to just undo it and then tighten it back down and go in the exact same spot. We kind of want to shift up or down; to the side a little bit; and make sure that we allow that tree to still grow and not choke it down.
DANIEL: As you can see, there’s a line right below this strap where this strap was last year. We've actually moved this strap up to release the pressure from here so the tree is not girdled.
DANIEL: We’ll even do the same thing with the Summit stands. We’ll loosen that strap; adjust the stand around the tree just a little bit so the pressure is not always in the same spot.
DANIEL: While we’re checking all our stands, we’re also trimming our shooting lanes.
DANIEL: We trim our shooting lanes each year because saplings pop up; trees fall across the lane; and limbs have new vegetation.
DANIEL: Just because your lanes were cleared last year – well, you don’t want to count on it. ‘Cause when that big ole nanny doe and buck walks within range, you want to make sure you have a clear shot this fall.
DANIEL: Once we’re done adjusting all the straps and trimming the shooting lanes, the last thing on the checklist is to make a trail.
DANIEL: We simply take a weed eater and a backpack blower; weed eat all the tall vegetation down; blow the leaves and the duff off the ground, so we have a nice clear path from our treestand to our point of access.
DANIEL: We’ll also go through and remove any large rocks – which we got a lot of – or limbs that are in the path. That way, we have a clear trail when we enter or exit in the dark.
DANIEL: We’ve all been there; we’ve all gone into our stand early in the morning with a flashlight trying to find our tree. Of course, we’re stumbling around; we walk right by our stand and it takes us five, ten minutes to maybe find our tree.
DANIEL: Well, we’re disturbing the area; alerting deer; and most of all, we’re leaving scent in the area we’re about to hunt. You hear us talk a lot about being able to enter, hunt and exit without alerting deer. That’s considered a successful hunt.
DANIEL: Well, this trail is part of that strategy. Being able to walk in without crunching on leaves; cracking limbs and sticks – well, that helps reduce noise as you enter and exit a hunting location.
DANIEL: By taking the time now to adjust our straps, prepare our walking trails, we’re ready for opening day.
DANIEL: With water being a limited resource here at The Proving Grounds, we decided to put out a few kiddie pools and make water available for critters.
DANIEL: Well, here at The Proving Grounds, like many across the whitetails’ range, we’re in a wicked drought.
DANIEL: We were curious how badly critters were looking for water. So, several days ago, Clay and the interns set out a bunch of kiddie pools and started filling ‘em with water.
DANIEL: The guys loaded the water cube in the back of the truck; filled it up with about 75 gallons of water; and we placed several kiddie pools up on the ridgetops where we knew water was limited.
DANIEL: We were curious in these drought-like conditions what would be coming to water and how long it would take. So, we set up several Reconyx cameras to monitor the pools.
DANIEL: One thing we wanted to make sure that we did when we put out these pools is we wanted to make sure that we gave critters a way to get out.
DANIEL: If we didn’t have this stick – or ladder – in the pool, small critters would get in here, would expire – contaminating the water, and then other critters would come in and intake the bacteria and other nasty things that could be in this water.
DANIEL: It’s incredible to think that right here there is water and just a few inches away, it’s very dusty and dry.
DANIEL: Areas that are open and exposed to the sun – well, they're dry and dusty. While areas where the Buffalo System is in place – well, they're very productive.
DANIEL: Well, look at that. That’s all the way up to my…
DANIEL: We’re just down the ridge from that last pool. The Buffalo System is in place here, but these beans have been protected by a Hot Zone fence and allowed to mature without browse pressure and even in drought conditions, they look amazing.
DANIEL: I’m 6’5” with my boots on. And these beans are up to my stomach.
DANIEL: Even in the drought, these soybeans have produced tons of forage. And the reason is the Buffalo System is hard at work.
DANIEL: Having the ground covered, protecting the soil from the heat of the sun, the wind drying it out and holding that soil moisture in – well, plants are able to take that up and really shine.
DANIEL: This tells us the Buffalo System is very productive – conserving moisture and allowing plants to grow and produce quality forage. The problem here at The Proving Grounds isn't drought-like conditions. It’s too many deer for the amount of acres of food plots we have.
DANIEL: The solution – we’re coming after does this fall and, hopefully, next year, all our food plots can look like this.
DANIEL: Putting all this together, we know that the Buffalo System does a great job at conserving soil moisture even during drought conditions.
DANIEL: We’ve shared in the past that we’re gonna up our doe harvest goal to three does per 100 acres this fall.
DANIEL: Grant and I have been discussing this goal and we both thought it would be a great idea to do a little simple camera survey and get a good idea of what our herd dynamics were before season started.
DANIEL: Last week, while I was going through our Reconyx pictures, I was just making a little tally mark for every fawn that I saw. I only counted the fawns that I believed were different fawns at every camera site. If I thought they were duplicating on another camera site, I wouldn’t count ‘em.
DANIEL: We waited to do this survey later in the summer, knowing that fawns would become more and more active as the summer progressed.
DANIEL: When I was done going through cards, I tallied it all up and I believe there are 31 different fawns represented on our cameras.
DANIEL: I know there’s probably a good chance I counted one or two of the fawns twice, but I also know there’s a very good chance that we didn’t see all the fawns in just one week of camera pictures.
DANIEL: What does this information tell us? Well, we know that we’ve recruited as many, if not more, deer to our population than we harvested last fall.
DANIEL: Looking at our food plots and knowing that even in the drought conditions they can be very productive, we know that we have too many deer for the amount of food here at The Proving Grounds.
DANIEL: The solution – we either add more food; harvest more does or a combination of both.
DANIEL: However, food plot acreage here at The Proving Grounds is very limited and you can bet, we’re gonna be targeting does this fall.
DANIEL: For deer to express their potential, there’s gotta be more food than they can consume. I’ll tell you what – we've got a lot of work ahead of us.
DANIEL: 120. I think that’s the biggest one yet, isn't it?
DANIEL: You don’t have to twist my arm to shoot a couple of does. You can bet that we’ll all be out targeting does this fall.
DANIEL: Talking about all this deer hunting makes me remember last fall when Grant and I had a great encounter with a three-year-old buck we call Highriser.
GRANT: (Whispering) I think he’s three.
DANIEL: Even though I’ve been looking hard, I haven’t seen Highriser all summer on any of our Reconyx cameras.
DANIEL: I was thrilled when I was going through trail camera pictures counting fawns and saw a familiar set of antlers. Highriser is still walking the Ozark Mountains and boy, does he look great.
DANIEL: We’ll be sharing updates of Highriser and other hit list bucks in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned.
DANIEL: Whether you're checking trail cameras or scouting velvet bucks, I hope you get outside and enjoy Creation. And no matter what you do, I sure hope you slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
DANIEL: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.
DANIEL: Can you see me?
CLAY: Yeah. Go for it.
DANIEL: Can you see me?
DANIEL: Look at these beans!!
CLAY: Oh, man. (Laughing)