Progress at The Proving Grounds (Episode 32 Transcript)

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WOODS: It’s June 25th and Brad and I are out checking trail cameras this morning.  We really get excited about checking our trail cameras.  Especially, around that first week of July or so, because the older bucks have matured enough in their antler development in that growing season that they’re showing individual characteristics.  And we can identify, you know, “Old Lefty”, or “Big Ten” or whatever from the previous year and make sure they made it through the winter and what shape they're looking at this year.  At the first of July, Bucks are usually expressing half to maybe even two-thirds, depending on the individual buck, of the antler they're going to grow that year.  So you’ve got an indication of what you’ve got to hunt this fall.

Now, bucks are just like humans.  I’ve noticed with penned deer at university researches and other places I work is, like in 5th grade, I was the tallest or second tallest kid in my whole school.  And by high school, I didn’t even make the basketball team.  I grew early, other guys grew later on.  That’s the same with buck antlers.  In an individual year, if some bucks come out of the gate early and then by June, they're already big and boy, some bucks, that first week of August, they just really pour it on, but by average, about July 1st or 4th, they’ve got half to two-thirds of their antler development for that year.  You can see the frame and what’s gonna happen.  So, we’re excited.

Now, this time of year, it’s real easy to get pictures of bucks at mineral or grain as you see in front of me, because, boy, they're really coming to mineral this time of year.  Almost every day.  Just takes a lick or two.  Remember, just that little vitamin you take every day is enough and just a lick or two off of a good product like Trophy Rock is enough for what they need for that mineral compliment, depending on where you live and the soils where you are.  So, you can really pattern deer this time of year.  That should be, not be confused with patterning bucks for the hunting season.  Some bucks will stay in the same area.  We’ve noticed that here and other places we work.  Some bucks, all summer long, they're coming right here, right here, right here and then all of a sudden, the velvet comes off and you start getting them on the camera station, you know a half a mile away or something.  You need to change.  So.

WOODS: Our camera work this time of year is not for where we’re going to put our tree stands.  It’s knowing what bucks are in the neighborhood, how big they are and how many does we need to harvest.

WOODS: And it will get a little dirty, so, man, it’s really important.  We just carry a little lens cleaning solution and a micro fiber because you don’t want to be taking your old sweaty shirt and rubbing on there all the time.

WOODS: You know, and when Brad and I are discussing if that’s 153 or 157 inches, we want the best picture we can get.  Okay, Brad, we have 878 pictures taken on this unit.  878… and I noticed that we checked this on 6/17, so that’s eight days.  In eight days, we’ve taken almost 900 pictures.  We have it on a burst of three, so you can divide that in three and figure out your events.  This actually tells us.  Just as important, it tells me, I’ve got 72% battery.  We’re running rechargeable batteries.  We’ve just worked out on this particular brand of battery that we want to let it get down to 55% or so and once it’s below 55, we don’t get the flash quality and stuff we want, so we’re going to leave the batteries running.  Rechargeables work great for us.  Reconyx is great because if you turn that baby on, no matter where you leave it, it’s going to arm itself in two minutes.  So, we can forget to hit “Go”, walk away, whatever.  It’s going to start working in two minutes.  So, that’s great for absent minded guys like me.  Brad never forgets that.

BRAD: When we go out in the field to check our cameras, we like to bring a little camera tool box.  It just contains a lot of the supplies we’re going to need while we’re out in the field.  We bring extra cards.  We can quick swap out cards from our cameras.  We bring a pencil in order to mark on our data sheet.  And we also bring extra batteries and a voltage meter.  We like to make sure when we put our batteries into our cameras, that they all have the appropriate voltage so that our cameras are up and functioning the entire time they're out in the field.  We also bring a lens cleaner.  Deer, oftentimes, will lick your camera, so we like to clean the lens off.  Or flies or other things get on your camera.  And also, this little User’s Guide to make sure our camera is working properly and if we want to switch any settings while out in the field.

WOODS: Brad and I talked this morning about using trail cameras to see the quality of bucks right now and their antlers and identifying where individual bucks are.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where they’ll be come hunting season.  But, we’ve moved on down the valley just a little bit and you can see these beans and this plot are really getting consumed where I am and I can tell already; it’s June 25th, this is going to be gone.  It’s going to be browsed down by September 15th, bow season.  Don’t want to hang a stand here.  But just, you know, a few yards right behind me, you see your lush, full canopy.  The beans are taller and not a leaf missing.  No doubt about it.  Bucks will be there September 15th and so will I, thanks to that little small Gallagher electric fence!  Boy, we put that up just a few weeks ago now.  The deer have heavily browsed on this, not a leaf missing in there.  So, just think about it.  The bucks eating here all summer, seeing that great stuff, but not going over there because of that electrical current and the little fence.  But you take that down during, or right before bow season or open up the gate, whatever you're gonna do and man oh man, the bucks are going to be there, so I’m very confident.  I could go ahead and hang a stand there, even without a trail camera and know, if I protect that food source and all of a sudden, it’s the best, fresh, brand new “hot off the skillet” food in the neighborhood come bow season, the bucks are going to be there and so am I.

WOODS: Eagle Beans grow so tall and robust, that they were growing up in our fence and actually shorting out our fence.  That’s one problem.  The second problem is deer couldn’t see the fence physically.  So, Brad just come by, literally, with a backpack sprayer yesterday.  One day ago, less than 24 hours, literally, and just sprayed this narrow band with Gramoxone, a real fast acting, burn down herbicide.  Already burnt it down.  You can clearly see the fence and it’s getting plenty of voltage.  So, man, the beans inside are so much taller, compared to my legs versus where I was right over here just a yard or two and they're browsing it so heavy.

WOODS: We talk about patterning bucks for the fall.  Well, of course, deer are slaves to their gut.  They’ve got to eat a bunch of high quality food every day.  And if you know where the best food in the neighborhood is, you know where to put your stand.  Especially in that pre-rut where they're going bedding, food, bedding, food and this Gallagher food plot protection fence is assuring me I’m going to know where the very best, untouched food is come September 15th.  Take the fence down, or just simply open the gate and know exactly where that stand should be, thanks to the system.

WOODS: This is a great example of the pressure deer put on favored browse.  Brad’s got the camera at the exact same height on the tripod.  I’m on one knee, just like I was a few seconds before.  Maybe Blake can show you a side by side comparison here.  Same day planting; same rain.  Obviously just a few yards apart.  Just literally a few yards apart.  The growth difference right where deer are being excluded by the Gallagher food plot fence.  I mean, just incredible.

So think about, you know, we fertilize with Antler Dirt, we got Eagle Seed forage beans and we want to make a “hidey hole”, a really great hunting location for myself or my guests this fall and the difference of having this protected and growing right and then, you know, open up the gate or taking the fence down, whatever we have time to do this fall, and how many tons of forage are here versus a small plot; not a big field; but a small plot that’s been heavily browsed.  This is an incredible winning combination that I’m super excited to hunt this fall.

So, when I’ve got beans this tall already, when they're literally below my knee height, I don't know if you can see down here, just a few yards right behind Brad, I know this is going to be a place where I’m zipping some arrows this fall.