Habitat Management Tips: Too Many Deer? (Episode 237 Transcript)

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GRANT: This week on GrowingDeer.tv, I wanna share with you a very simple way to monitor the amount of deer versus your habitat quality and an awesome giveaway.

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GRANT: You nailed him, girl. You nailed him. You’ve got him. Good shot, dad.

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GRANT: A common question we receive is, “What’s the best way to tell how many deer are on my hunting property?” And we’ve shared with you how we do camera surveys and how accurate they are but they’re pretty labor intensive, to be honest. A simple and very inexpensive way to see if you have more deer than habitat quality, not the number of deer – but that relationship, is simply by using utilization cages.

ADAM: Beginning of June and that means one thing: putting out our utilization cages. I’d hate to admit how many times I’ve come close to running it over, and maybe one or two I’ve hit with the sprayer or drill, but as long as I keep flagging on it, I can see it and get it out of the field before I do any planting or spraying.

GRANT: Utilization cages are very simple to construct. Take a piece of web wire about four feet tall and 10 or 12 feet long. Make a cylinder. Make sure you stake it solidly to the ground ‘cause deer will nudge that out of the way to get to the taller, better quality forage inside the cage versus outside the cage.

ADAM: Once we’ve got our flagging on the cage, we want to select our location. To make sure we’re getting an average, and not putting it over the tallest beans or the best looking beans on the field, we’re simply gonna take our hat, throw it out on the field, wherever it lands, that’s where we’re gonna place our utilization cage.

ADAM: Now, we're gonna drive in a stake. As deer managers, one of the best tools we can have, especially for our food plots, is the utilization cage.

GRANT: The cages not only give us an indicator if we have enough food in that area, but they’re a great hunting tool to see how much pressure any food plot is receiving during a certain time of year. Remember, it’s never what number of deer you have, but it’s the amount of deer compared to the amount of quality forage, that should guide your harvest program.

GRANT: Turkey season is now closed in most states throughout the whitetails’ range, and I bet a lot of you guys are like us, you use the same boots to turkey hunt in as you do to deer hunt.

ADAM: The biggest concern we have with trying to get the boots ready for next fall is get inside and make sure there’s no moisture on the inside of the boot.

ADAM: Make sure we get these insoles out. We’ll use the boot powder, give it a good coat and make sure it’s good and, and then we’ll also put the insole back in, give it a little more boot powder. On the outside of the boot, there’s a couple different ways, but we just want to make sure we don’t get any of the moisture on the inside of the boot where we’ve already put the boot powder. So you can use field spray, just make sure you don’t dowse the inside. Spray the whole boot down. We’ll stick ‘em in the ScentMaster and we’ll turn it on and let it run for an hour. It actually has a timer on it, so we’ll just set it, leave, when we come back it’ll be done and ready for the fall.

GRANT: Don’t wait until a couple days before deer season starts to take care of tasks like cleaning up your boots. You know, scent is a critical issue to our success and it’s best to be taken care of ahead of time, so something bad and nasty is not growing in your boots all summer long.

GRANT: AJ and I had the privilege to rolling out to western Oklahoma and working with Mr. Martin Smith on his family’s hunting ground.

GRANT: We’re out in western Oklahoma today. You can see the flat land and wheat everywhere, but we’re getting ready to help one of our clients with his wildlife and habitat management plan.

GRANT: Mr. Smith and his family have about 600 acres west of Oklahoma City. Now most of that area is flat and full of wheat fields, but Mr. Smith’s land is along the little stream that offers a great diversity and quality whitetail and turkey habitat.

MARTIN: But the deer love that area right there. They just would pile up there.

GRANT: Mr. Smith’s goals are different than some clients we’ve worked with in that he wants a lot of deer and a lot of great hunting opportunities, as he has some young sons and frequently brings guests that all enjoy viewing and interacting with critters.

GRANT: What we like to do on those areas like that is just have ‘em come in and fell every single cedar tree, and don’t – we’re not pushing, or moving the skeletons, or anything – and then about two years later we burn it. And you’ll get tremendous flush of native vegetation, just incredible. But I – what I really want to see you get into is 100% what we call conservation tillage. We’re just gonna spray with glyphosate, kill it, and no till drill right into it with your drill. Whatever your next crop is, I think we can get your food plots more productive. Alfalfa I know grows well here. It’s a great commercial crop.

MARTIN: Okay.

GRANT: But for a food plot crop, it is so difficult to keep weeds out and bugs out on a 2 acre, or 10 acre field.

MARTIN: Yeah.

GRANT: It just doesn’t work well.

GRANT: (Inaudible)

MARTIN: (Inaudible)

GRANT: How I envisioned the wind working here and how you can approach it from one side, the deer being on the other. I, I really like this spot.

MARTIN: Sure.

GRANT: So, as we’re traveling along, we come on this nice bottom here by a little creek and the first thing I said was, “Food plot,” ‘cause we’ve got a lot of coverage, you can see, and one thing I really like about this, almost no acorns here – very few, so the ones that do produce acorns will be like a feeder or a food plot. You can pattern deer there. This part of the creek section, it’s mainly cottonwoods and cedars. Too many cedars in Oklahoma, anyway, so we’re gonna clear out this little area, make a two, three, four acre food plot.

MARTIN: That sounds like a good plan to me.

GRANT: And we like to turkey hunt. Can you envision this being a great strut area for turkeys? So I think this will be a multipurpose feeding food plot that will allow hunting, also. Matthew, I think there’s a tree stand right over there. You think you can shoot a deer out of there with your bow?

MATTHEW: Probably.

GRANT: All right. Well, let’s get this dolled up so we can. Skip 300 yards, 200 yards, more food.

MARTIN: Okay.

GRANT: I mean just doing it, ‘cause this is ideal.

GRANT: Let’s stop here for a second. Is that bur oak? Is that what I’m seeing?

MARTIN: Yeah, that’s bur oak. Now, just a mile from here, they have a bunch of …

GRANT: Continuing to explore and learn Mr. Smith’s property, we found this huge bur oak tree. In areas like this, where it’s just few oaks, one here, one there, solitary trees, they’re better than a feeder. When those acorns fall, the deer are going to be right here, and it won’t take me long to design a stand and a way to approach this area to hunt this bur oak.

MART: We’re just coming off one of the worst droughts in history, and over this drought, the river will a lot of times dried out, so we buried these 150 gallon, uh, cattle tanks for deer on the side of our, some of our food plots, allowing them to, uh, have some water during this big drought.

GRANT: For 20 plus years, my best source of satisfaction from a work related project hasn’t been creating the plans, but all the follow up contact with those landowners that enjoyed implementing the plans, getting a little dirt under their fingernails, and taking their family members and friends out to the improved habitat and sharing great hunts with them. Whether you’re doing some habitat work, or simply outside enjoying Creation, make sure you take some time to slow down and be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.

ADAM: Well, the boys and I are out today putting out our utilization cages.

ADAM: Throw it, wherever it lands, that’s where we’re gonna put our utilization cage, unless it landed in the road. Did it land in the road? No. That’s good.

ADAM: It’s important to use utilization cages in your management tools. No! I don’t like it. No bit.

ADAM: Whatever. I don’t care anymore. Let’s go.