How To Improve Your Hunting Grounds (Episode 189 Transcript)

This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.

GRANT: July 1st, and the GrowingDeer Team went to Perryville, Missouri to work on a wildlife and habitat project.

GRANT: And that, that plant is very healthy.

GRANT: But back at The Proving Grounds, we had some bad news on two fronts.

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GRANT: Just a few minutes away from Mr. Robinson's property. Excited to return to the property after Brad created a plan several years ago; want to see how they've done in implementing the plan and what we can do to tweak it to improve the deer and the habitat.

FRANK: We've got some pretty windy roads.

GRANT: Mr. Robinson's been dedicated to managing his farm for improved hunting and better quality deer and turkey.

GRANT: Ideally, I'd like to be a five, seven foot plane just sweeping over the place.

GRANT: During the past few years, Mr. Robinson and his crew have created some great bedding areas by harvesting the timber and allowing the native vegetation to re-colonize those areas as well as establishing several high quality food plots.

GRANT: So why we want to burn in August and September is, all the carbohydrates, all the energy in a tree, is up here right now. It hasn’t started transporting it back down to the root system. And I would consider this a huge success if we killed, let's say, 70 to 75 percent of the saplings out here, you won't ever get ‘em all, you just never get it hot enough to get ‘em all.

GRANT: Creating bedding areas by harvesting timber is not a once and done operation. That's especially true in hardwood areas because those hardwood root systems are very resilient and they will send up hardwood sprouts that grow rapidly and shade out the high quality native vegetation within just a couple years. That's what we're seeing at Mr. Robinson's place, so we prescribed a growing season fire, which will stimulate more grasses and forbs and not back the amount of hardwood sprouts that are colonizing that area.

GRANT: A growing season fire is safe from late July through late September, every three to five years will do a wonderful job of maintaining that area and grasses and forbs, making it a feeding and bedding area.

GRANT: Beautiful. Like last year, when it was a real drought. ‘Cause it, right now, there's so much water and little stump holes and everything else and…

GRANT: Another improvement Mr. Robinson and his crew has made, is establishing the wildlife sized ponds throughout the property. These ponds are well designed, just large enough, where they won't go dry in a severe drought, but small enough deer are very comfortable at drinking at them during daylight hours.

GRANT: Put in a lot of his energy on food, which is really important when you have a farm that's primarily covered in timber.

GRANT: Just like here at The Proving Grounds, the clover is very strong during the early growing season ‘til about July when it gets pretty dry and the clover starts going in resistance, or dormant mode, to survive through the dry months and kick in strong in the fall.

GRANT: It was obvious deer had browsed on the clover heavily before we had visited, but we're switching more over to the soybeans at this time of year.

GRANT: Some of the soybean plots at Mr. Robinson's property had been protected by electric fence; this simply allows the beans to get large enough, to handle the browse pressure that might occur when it's the most attractive food source in a large wooded area.

GRANT: And that, that plant is very healthy. Those nodules are telling me it's doing what it needs to do. You know, the air we breathe is 78% nitrogen. It's taking nitrogen out of the air and what we call fixing it, making it available for the plant to use, and those nodules, you can see a bunch more forming out here on the end, are what does that. That’s where the bacteria are colonized.

GRANT: Given that his beans are almost waist tall on me, I suggested that they take down all or a portion of the fence, allow deer to have access to that great source of protein, while antlers are developing and those does are producing milk for their fawns.

GRANT: Once Eagle Seed Forage Soybeans reach that state, and they're getting plenty of soil moisture, they tend to grow faster than the deer can browse them down.

GRANT: (Inaudible) And here, too, we did, we gained a couple (inadubile). Some of those survived and we had two more recruit in or whatever. (Inaudible)

GRANT: Mr. Robinson, I'm a big fan of labeling these camera sites because you're going through nighttime pictures from different properties like we do or whatever. We can't know where it is all the time, so having this number here is really plus, but you've taken a step further. What have you done here?

FRANK: Along with the, the dimensioning of our sign is two foot square, and the hash marks are 12 inch centers to give you a frame of reference for identifying the rack size of a buck when you're evaluating pictures.

GRANT: You're not guessing ear length or something, you've got a known scale, got a bachelor group of bucks in here in August doing a camera survey, and you know exactly what six inches is compared to the deer.

GRANT: So you had a six inch marker, all the way around the sign, you can compare the beam length, or tine length, or ear size and get a very accurate estimate of antler size.

GRANT: We will certainly include that and other tips we learn from Mr. Robinson as we work with future landowners throughout the whitetails range.

GRANT: Back at The Proving Grounds, we're always learning and refining our techniques.

GRANT: You may recall a few weeks ago, we treated some smaller clover food plots with a backpack sprayer.

GRANT: A few of the weeds were not impacted by the cocktail of herbicides we used on that treatment.

GRANT: As many species of weeds mature, they become less susceptible to the effects of herbicide.

GRANT: In those cases, mowing or doing what we do – going into the plot and individually treating, if you will, mowing down those weeds with a weed eater – can save millions of weed seeds being produced and a lot of headaches in the future.

GRANT: It is certainly not as efficient to go in with the weed eater and treat individual weeds as it is to walk through, or drive an ATV through rapidly and spray the whole plot, but the savings in the future of not having millions of that similar weed in your plot, is well worth the energy.

GRANT: Treating weeds can almost always be accomplished by one system or another. But I've yet to figure out a way to make it rain when I need it.

GRANT: Throughout much of the whitetails range, they're very wet this year. Crops aren't being planted, there's water standing in the fields. But that's not the case here at The Proving Grounds, 'cause you can tell by this pond, it's been a long time since we've had a good rain here at the Missouri Proving Grounds.

GRANT: Without adequate water, deer are certainly stressed, but the plants are stressed and nutrient deprived and deer, or turkey, can't express their full potential.

GRANT: This growing season started with ample soil moisture, our crops got up strong, and deer and other forms of wildlife benefited from those crops for a good month and a half. During that time, most fawns are born, mothers are making that critical first milk, and antlers are taking shape. If we don’t have relief from this drought soon, it won't surprise me to see a little bit shorter tine length than average here at The Proving Grounds.

GRANT: Managers can always moderate the impacts of a drought by keeping that deer density low enough so they're not right at the edge at the maximum food the property can produce and by using good techniques, like we shared last week about planting beans early and letting that crown get established.

GRANT: I hope you're experiencing good growing conditions at your Proving Grounds, but whatever they are, take some time to get outside and enjoy Creation and most importantly, listen to the Creator. Thanks for watching

LEVI: Man, I am videoing myself good.

ADAM: You got to stop recording first and then…

LEVI: Ohhh.

GRANT: Nothing is more palatable to deer than early beans. Nothing.

ALL: Adam, sing for us.

ALL: Heel, toe, dosey doe, come on baby let's go, boot scootin'.