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WOODS: (Whispering) We just saw our first deer from the treestand for the 2010 Missouri archery season. A yearling buck came down, licked on a Trophy Rock, got his daily minerals, like a vitamin, and took off. Wind’s in our favor so far. Very light. I don’t like a really light wind because they can swirl and one swirl can bust ya. Hey, you know, with the start of the season, I go through and get all my gear ready and one of the most important things I can possibly wear is my safety harness. It’s, although hunting’s fun, I want to go home safe and sound after every hunt. Do not climb a tree without your safety harness. It is that critical. Well, it’s about 7:15. We’ve got a good hour of hunting before the wind shifts, I think. So, stay tuned to GrowingDeer.tv.
WOODS: (Whispering) We have seen one yearling buck. The wind is still holding good. We’re in a valley and the main food sources are north of the valley. They come back this way to bed, so, you see the wind is going down the valley because of thermals. Cold air sinks and about this time of day it starts getting turbulent. Sun comes over the mountain and it’ll get hot and go up the valley. We’d like to get out of here before it starts going up the valley. Although, it feels good staying, I don’t want to blow this stand real, real early in the season, so we’re going to get out of here and check some crops and get to work.
WOODS: Here’s a tough lesson learned at The Proving Grounds. And I knew better, but I did it anyway, so I want to share with you so you won’t do what I did. Do what I say, but not what I do. This is a brand new food plot we dozed out recently. I was so excited. It’s on a ridge top. The wind’s more constant. It’s large enough to be a feeding plot and we can get some hunting on the edges and a tropical storm was coming, so we rushed and bought some additional seed and was going to plant and I didn’t know that seed source and I always do a germination test. I take just a plate. Put some seed in there, get really warm water and put on a paper towel. Put over it or underneath it – either way – and let it germinate and count the percent to make sure I don’t go through all the energy and expense of planting seed that won’t grow. And because of the way this tropical storm just kind of blew in here and we knew we needed the rain to plant, I didn’t do a germination test. And even though we planted at a very heavy rate, there’s only a sprig or two of wheat here and there. Certainly not enough to hunt or even hold the soil in place. But when I look around, there are hundreds of wheat seeds where we broadcast on top of the ground. So I had a failure. The wheat seed, obviously, was not good or something happened to the germ. And I’m going to have to go through the expense of buying more seed and the time; and times off my work and hunting season and drilling and wear and tear on equipment, because I didn’t do a germination test. Always do a germination test before you go through the expense of planting a food plot at your Proving Ground.
WOODS: This field is obviously much different. You see the green everywhere? Boy, it’s looking great. What’s interesting is this field was originally planted with the seed that failed right up the road here in the other field. We had about 100 pounds left over of seed we got from the Turkey Federation. They have a great program. NWTF gets seed donated to them by major companies and it might be a year old or experimental seed and then they're able to sell it to conservationists like you and me at a great discount and we can plant it for wildlife purposes only. It cannot be planted for harvest. It’s perfect seed, but they don’t want it planted for harvest, so it’s great wildlife seed. Again, we had about two bags left over. I said, “Brad, why don’t you run up and plant this quote unquote field?” and, uh, while it was raining one day after we had already thrown the other seed and you see it did great. But, I’m looking at un-germinated seed from the first planting. All over the ground here. So, the first planting was a failure – just like up the road. Brad came out with the raincoat on; hand broadcast with the EarthWay Spreader; some Turkey Federation seed on here – discount seed – and we’ve got a hunting food plot here, so, lesson learned. Never plant without doing a germination test on your seed, because you might be re-doing and days are short during planting season. It’s a tough lesson. A mistake I won’t make again and I hope you don’t make it at your Proving Grounds.
WOODS: Hey, as a manager, one of the most important things I can do is make sure every food plot has a utilization cage. Especially plots in the part of the property where you haven’t had cultivated forage or food plots in the past. I want to look at the amount of food I’m producing versus the amount of deer in that area and that ratio. And this allows me to do it very simply. You know, by December, if the wheat inside here is a foot tall and the wheat outside is lip high, I know there’s more deer using this part of the ranch than I have quality food for and I’ve either got to harvest more deer, get more food or some combination of both. Utilization cages are an outstanding way to monitor that and that’s an important ratio for all deer management programs, no matter where you are. Just stake them down a little bit and make sure they're in there solid. Because if they're not, deer will knock them over. Get them in good and tight. Walk away. Come back in a month or two and there will be a lesson learned for you as a deer manager.
WOODS: Hey, thanks for watching GrowingDeer this week. Learn from us. Do what works. Don’t do our mistakes and enjoy creation. Talk to you next week.