This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: Yup. Ease a little in there. Spread it around.
GRANT: It’s that time a year. A time when sportsmen are preparing fall food plots and everyone’s going through their trail camera pictures trying to figure out which bucks are gonna be on their hit list.
GRANT: Late August through mid-September is the time when most fall or cool season food plots are established. No matter what latitude or location your hunting property is, basically, you want to plant fall or cool season food plots about 45 to 60 days before the first average frost.
GRANT: Recently, Adam and I identified another location here at The Proving Grounds that we think will make a great hidey hole food plot. It’s pretty high on the ridge so we think the wind will be stable. There’s a bedding area right by it and a major food plot not far away. This location did not have many trees in it. It did have some saplings about thumb size or so and a lot of weeds about waist high. We took the lawn mower to that location; raised the blades as high as they could go; and started mowing very slowly.
GRANT: It cut some of the large, rank weeds and simply pushed over others. So once we had it all mowed, we lowered the blades down about an inch and mowed in the opposite direction. That did a good job of cutting all the weeds and mulching a lot of the duff that was mowed down in the first pass.
GRANT: The evening after we mowed all the weeds down, it rained about a quarter inch. Enough to hold moisture under the shade of the trees surrounding this little area, but by late afternoon, most of the duff had dried out. Perfect situation for a safe prescribed fire.
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GRANT: We need to remove this duff so we can get seed to soil contact. We need to get down to bare soil so we can broadcast seed out and have success.
GRANT: The quarter inch of rain the night before that made this a safe day to have a prescribed fire also limited total consumption of the duff. We removed about 50% and got it down to a manageable level where we could rake a fire break real easy; wait for a drier day and remove the rest of the duff with smaller fires.
LANCE: …your hole, depending on the size of the tree you have that, uh, your hole is two times as big as your root ball – at least. That’s going…
GRANT: You may recall from a couple episodes ago, the folks from Flatwood Natives were coming up to help us establish a tree plot.
LANCE: …hits this tree. It’s gonna, it’s gonna stay around the tree – it’s gonna hold moisture for a long period of time.
GRANT: A tree plot is simply a food plot based around nut and fruit producing trees. But adding the two together – a food plot with green forage – trees planted in it – so you’ve got fruit coming at one time, nuts coming at another, forage becoming palatable at other time, makes it an ideal attraction for big bucks throughout the whole hunting season.
GRANT: It don’t have to be perfect. Just want a little three foot break around the edge of it; then we’ll burn off the middle. Small hidey hole food plots, you know, a quarter acre or so, can be awesome attraction areas to harvest deer, provide a little venison for your family and you don’t need fancy tools to get it done. Just some simple hand tools and the willingness to do some work.
GRANT: I’d like to introduce you all to Daniel Mallette. Daniel is our intern this fall. Fall is a great time, Daniel, cause you get to hunt with us but before we hunt you’ve got to do a little sweat time here. So, Daniel and I are gonna rake up some of this duff and do a little fire to start preparing this food plot.
GRANT: It’s certainly hot and dry today and fire would spread, so we’re just simply gonna rake in smaller patches, have a break around it, burn that off and go to the next.
GRANT: In addition to preparing the seed bed, it was a great example of how the wind swirls constantly in hilly country like here at The Proving Grounds. That’s why Adam and I are so particular about our scent control and the entire system we use.
GRANT: It’s wicked hot out here today. I can wear a big hat and some long sleeves and kind of protect myself from the sun, but young saplings that just got transplanted from a nursery can’t do that. Obviously, a tree tube that’s vented lets heat escape, but as these leaves open up their little pores at night to let moisture go or try to take moisture in, that moisture collects on the side wall of the tube and drips down versus a dry wind blowing it away. This mat is very porous with kind of one way pores that lets rain go through, but doesn’t let water evaporate out. It actually saves water two ways as it’s a barrier to weed growth right around this young tree, so those weeds aren’t competing for water. Even with those protective measures, we haven’t seen a rain in quite some time and it’s powder dry here in the Ozark Mountains. We planted at the wrong time of year because I was in a hurry to get this tree plot established. So, we’re gonna have to add a little water to this tree.
GRANT: Drought can certainly damage saplings. It takes a pretty wicked drought to actually kill a sapling this size, but remember – this tube and this mat keeps the lawn mower drivers, tractor drivers and herbicide sprayers seeing the tree so they don’t damage the tree you worked hard and spent years growing. When it’s really dry, I want to haul water to my trees and water them just to keep the stress levels down. I purchased a used cube and I want to make sure you purchase one that had food grade material in it – not a harsh herbicide or other chemical that might damage the tree.
GRANT: A half inch of water in about a three foot square or so is three or four gallons, depending on a couple of factors there, so you want to give it at least a half inch deep, or what you estimate, to make sure there’s plenty of water to saturate the ground for the next several days.
GRANT: I’ve timed it and I know I need about three minutes to get enough water, so I simply turn the nozzle on, give it three minutes and move to the next tree.
GRANT: If you opt to be a hunter that really targets mature bucks, there are basically two strategies – you can hunt travel corridors or bedding areas that deer frequent, hoping a mature buck in the area will pass by – or you can study individual mature bucks and try to gain a pattern of them based on their behavior.
GRANT: If you're blessed enough to hunt the same property over and over, I highly prefer the second strategy – finding mature bucks with trail cameras or personal observation and learning their behavior so you can find a weak link in their travel pattern.
GRANT: This Reconyx picture is from September 2013, and it’s of a buck we called Magellan. We named him Magellan because he was all over the farm; disappeared like he went somewhere else and come back. He’s obviously an explorer and a traveler. You’ve got to remember that bucks are unique individuals and each buck can have a unique personality – just like humans do.
GRANT: Last year, Magellan was a roamer and we really couldn’t pin down his travel pattern, but let’s advance to 2014. During early July this year, we started getting pictures of a buck that we think might be Magellan. He was showing the signs of splitting the G2 tines, had a pot belly, really defined shoulders – had a lot of the same characteristics as the buck we called Magellan last year. Without a genetic test, we’ll never know for sure. You never know for sure in the wild unless there’s a permanent scar or something that just makes that buck uniquely identifiable. But we’re pretty certain this is the same deer we called Magellan last year.
GRANT: Adam chose to change the name this year to Butterbean cause of this huge gut this deer has.
GRANT: Three weeks later, in July, the same buck is on a pattern, using this little staging area we have of clover, going into an Eagle Seed food plot. This area is perfect for us because with a south wind, we can come in on the north side. We have a couple of Muddys hung right here. It’s right in a creek drain so we can come up a dry creek drain, not make any noise, pop over the edge of this hill with a south wind and any deer moving this way will never know we’re in the neighborhood.
GRANT: We shared a buck with you last week we call George. And he has larger antlers than Butterbean and probably a year or two younger. He’s at least four, while I think Butterbean is six or seven, based on our history with him. You know what? As of right now, Butterbean is probably at the top of our hit list for the simple reason he’s mature, he’s got nice antlers, and most importantly, he’s showing a pattern of moving during daylight hours.
GRANT: It doesn’t matter how big the buck is, if they're totally nocturnal, you're simply going to educate them and have a limited chance of tagging them. We’ll certainly keep an eye on George with our trail cameras and move in if he shows signs of daylight behavior. But come September 15th, you can bet we’ll probably be in Butterbean’s neighborhood cause he’s showing that pattern of daylight movement.
GRANT: As you prepare for deer season, don’t forget to do the most important step in preparing for life. And that’s slowing down and listening to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.
GRANT: Are you excited for deer season like Adam and I? Then click right here and watch this show where we had a successful hunt – put some more venison in the freezer.