Hunting Strategies: Family Farms And Ponds (Episode 349 Transcript)

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

GRANT: This time of year antlers are hardening even though they're still covered with velvet throughout most of the whitetails’ range. Most hunters are like us – getting ready for another bow season.

MATT: Come on. (Inaudible)

GRANT: Matt’s parents recently moved from Virginia to the Ozark Mountains and purchased a little bit over 100 acres for a cattle farm. But they won't graze cattle on all of it and Matt has big plans to use that ungrazed portion as his deer hunting sanctuary.

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GRANT: Hunting properties of this size and family farms that have multi uses on ‘em often require very unique strategies with the direct purpose to have success during hunting season.

MATT: Well, my family just recently purchased a property in the Ozark Mountains. The 108 acres. A lot of this land is going to be devoted to cow operation. But I’m interested in harvesting and managing deer on the property.

MATT: Two tenths of an acre. In here to plant – turn into a food plot. There’s a lot of guys out there who might be able to relate to hunting small farms. Since this is just 108 acres, my main focus is hunting the entire season without alerting every deer in the neighborhood.

MATT: No matter the size of the property, it’s important you establish sanctuaries. These are areas we hardly ever disturb. They provide security and cover for the deer. This increases the chance of having a buck moving during daylight hours.

MATT: There’s a few steep ravines on the property. Cattle are excluded from these areas and if we try to hunt them, the winds are gonna swirl like crazy. So, we’re staying out of ‘em and designating those areas as sanctuaries.

GRANT: Deer will readily adapt to areas they feel secure. And when there’s a lot of hunting pressure in the neighborhood, being the only guy that has sanctuaries can have a huge advantage to your hunting strategy.

MATT: After reviewing the map, we found a few openings that we wanted to designate for food plots. It just so happens that one of the sanctuaries is located just to the south of this food plot, making an awesome location to intercept bucks this fall.

MATT: We’ve got one of our sanctuaries laid out. The food plot is planned. Now it’s time to take inventory of the bucks using the area. We’re gonna place a Reconyx camera out here overlooking a Trophy Rock. Check back in a couple of weeks, hopefully, we’ll have some hit listers show up on camera.

MATT: Just as important as laying out sanctuaries, is establishing stand locations. Since this is just 108 acres, I’m looking for four really good locations I can hunt on different winds. No matter what the wind is, I can head to the woods and chase a buck.

GRANT: By planning ahead of time and having at least one stand or blind location for each potential wind direction will allow you to hunt throughout the entire season.

MATT: We’re on the east side of this food plot. We’ve identified a great looking red oak that we can hunt on a south wind – approach, hunt and exit without alerting deer.

MATT: It’s always exciting managing deer on a new property, seeing the transformations. It won't be long before we’re hanging a Summit set and planting a fall food plot. Follow along with us this fall as we show you techniques to manage and hunt deer successfully on small acreage.

GRANT: I look forward to watching Matt implement his strategy and I’m pretty confident we’ll be sharing some hunts from Matt’s parents’ farm.

GRANT: Recently, Matt and I were invited to central Mississippi to develop a habitat management plan. As we were riding around with the property landowner, we came upon a beautiful multi-acre fishing pond. I like to fish, so I started a conversation about the pond. He said, “You wouldn’t believe it, but not that long ago, this pond was leaking like a sieve.”

GRANT: Now I’m around a lot of properties and pond leakage is really common. So, I asked him, “Gosh, I bet that cost a lot to get the dozers in here and fix the dam.” He said, “Not at all. I met a guy named James. He’s got a special technique that doesn’t require re-doing the dam and to stop almost all pond leaks.”

GRANT: I couldn’t believe it, so I got James’ number and invited him up here to The Proving Grounds to share those techniques with us.

GRANT: Step one is removing the existing vegetation. This pond is so small – that’s not a problem. The interns are gonna get the weedeaters, clean this up or rake it all out and let James go to work.

GRANT: When I first communicated with James, I was very honest and told him just how rocky the soils are here at The Proving Grounds. He wanted to come anyway. And I really figured he’d drive up, look at my ponds, jump back in his truck and head home.

GRANT: But when he got here, he looked at the ponds, scratched his cheek a time or two, jumped in the back of his truck, started grabbing different buckets and bags and we all went to work applying the sealant.

GRANT: My, my guess is – this is just a guess – and I can't be too wrong. But there’s water – when, when we get a big rain, there’ll be water straight that way – below that green tuft of grass…

JAMES: Mmm-hmm.

GRANT: …right on top. My guess is the leak is somewhere in that five foot / ten foot area right there.

JAMES: Okay.

GRANT: That’s my guess. I don't think it’s going through the bottom. I could be wrong. But it holds here. But it never gets above – you can see on the vegetation – never gets above a certain level there.

JAMES: Right.

GRANT: No matter how much it rains.

GRANT: James, we got our prep work done. What’s our first step?

JAMES: Next step is get our base layer down. That’s where we’ll start right now.

GRANT: All right. Let’s get to it.

GRANT: James typically evaluates the site, determines the soil qualities and characteristics of that pond and then uses a different combination of sealants to ensure he gets a good seal.

GRANT: James, the base layer is down and I can already see water creeping up the edge. I guess it’s pulling water to it.

JAMES: Yes. Absolutely. It’s starting to hydrate as we speak.

GRANT: Okay. And we’re gonna put another layer on top of it – it kind of acts like a sealant. Is that correct?

JAMES: That’s correct. Now, we’ll go to step two, our sealant process.

GRANT: Let’s get after it.

JAMES: A little of this goes a long ways, guys. In fact, uh, if you want to set your hoppers up on like a…

UNKNOWN: I’m outta here.

JAMES: …number two, go ahead and set ‘em all on number two.

GRANT: Throughout most of the whitetails’ range water is rarely the limiting resource. Typically, there’s puddles, ponds, rivers, creeks that have water pretty much throughout anywhere a deer would be. However, during droughts or in some areas, water can be the limiting resource. If you don’t have water on your property, rest assured, deer are going to leave and seek water in another part of their range.

GRANT: James, we’ve got the base level down and the sealant down. So, the next step is just give it a little moisture. You don’t want too much cause we’ll wash it off. That makes sense. Just to get it started. Actually kind of grows like a living organism. Is that correct?

JAMES: That is correct. It will actually start growing into the soil and like you say, we want to dampen it just enough to kind of hold this stuff in place until it can fully hydrate and go to work and do its thing.

GRANT: Now I gotta tell you – all the, all the interns and myself included had a question – what’s all of this doing to the deer that’s gonna come drink out of it tonight or critters here or the plants or whatever?

JAMES: Not gonna hurt a thing. Everything is NSF approved – it’s perfectly safe; nothing we would put in your pond or lake is ever toxic. We would not dare do that.

GRANT: James, let’s review the process.

JAMES: Okay. Well, we got our base coat down, Grant. And then we come back and we put our sealant on top of that and then we took the water hose and wet it in. You're good to go now.

JAMES: I mean, all we’re waiting on is this storm, is some rain. Just where we’re at.

GRANT: And I can't wait. So this would be a great opportunity right at the edge of a sanctuary – have a watering hole here for those dry fall days, this will be a hot spot.

GRANT: We’re in a little water hole at the edge of a food plot we call Tracy’s Field. Y'all know that we’ve tagged a lot of deer out of this field. But James, it’s never been because of water in this watering hole. I don’t believe it’s ever held a teacup of water since I’ve built it. It’s obviously a rock pile.

JAMES: Well, we’re here today to change that. Obviously, we’re dealing with a very rocky, craggy surface here – sub-straight. And we’re going to utilize a four step system to treat this waterhole today.

GRANT: And James, I’m gonna tell you. If you can get me a few hundred or a thousand gallons of water in here and make bucks come right here during the rut for to chase does out there, I’m gonna be one happy hunter.

GRANT: For the first step, James had us remove as much of the vegetation as we could. That way the first layer is making great contact with the soil. Or should I say rocks? Because as you look around, this is literally a rock pile that’s gonna become a hidey hole watering spot.

JAMES: It doesn’t matter guys. You can go over it multiple times just as long as you get the correct amount of products out.

GRANT: James, it looks like we got a light snow on the ground. That’s part one of the first step.

JAMES: That’s correct. And now, we’re gonna put part B of the first step.

GRANT: And, and these work together to form that base seal that really locks down in this horrendous rock habitat. Then you're gonna put some other sealants on top of that.

JAMES: That’s correct.

GRANT: So, it takes in this rough of an environment – which no one would really think this is gonna hold water – more steps to make it hold, but you're telling me – once it’s gonna hold, it’s there for my lifetime. Is that right?

JAMES: Absolutely. It’s done forever.

GRANT: Man, I’m gonna shoot some deer off this place. Well, let’s get this step down.

JAMES: Let’s go for it.

GRANT: James has applied part A and part B of the first layer. Once they get wet, they interact to make that base seal. But ensure this rocky hole holds water, he’s coming now with another layer – a little bit larger – to help seal the cracks between these rocks.

GRANT: We just completed another phase. This time we just spread something that’s about an eighth inch in diameter. That goes in between the thumb size stuff that was just put down – making sure we’ve got a total seal. ‘Cause a pond this size with one small crack will go dry faster than a deer can run out of a food plot.

GRANT: James is applying the last of a four stage process. I can't wait to get some water in here, see if it holds and enjoy a new pond.

GRANT: All the sealant layers are down. We used a backpack sprayer just to put a little moisture on there to start that bonding or sealing process. But, I’m not a patient guy. So, we’re gonna get a cube and start hauling water to it because I want to see if it will hold water and how long it takes for deer to come get a drink.

GRANT: I was shocked, as we started pumping water to the pond, that any water started building up at all. Because as far as I know, that pond had never held a teacup of water since I built it.

GRANT: The next day the water level had receded a little bit but James said that was a natural. Actually, he called it the night before because the sealant will absorb a lot of that water as it fills in the cracks and fissures in the bottom of the pond. It’s actually going in places you can't see from above the surface.

GRANT: I’m very excited about the work James did here at The Proving Grounds. I can already see placing a stand or blind near these ponds.

GRANT: It’s often hot and dry during the early season here at The Proving Grounds, but I’m even more excited about hunting these spots during the rut.

GRANT: We all know bucks are traveling a lot during the rut, burning up a lot of water and they need to stop and get a drink. These ponds may be the secret to tagging a hit list buck.

GRANT: If you're like me and you’ve got issues with ponds not holding water and it’s too expensive to bring a dozer in and try to fix ‘em, give James a call at this number and see if he thinks he can help you in your situation.

GRANT: Recently we captured some video of a unique buck that was eating on one of the fruit trees in our yard. It was clearly a mature buck, so we asked our viewers for help coming up with a creative name. We received hundreds of suggestions on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, direct email and every social media outlet we use. And the coolest name we come up with was Peaches.

GRANT: Several folks suggested Peaches, but the best we can tell – Matthew Kline from Connecticut was the first to respond with that name. Matthew, we’re gonna send you a GrowingDeer hat.

GRANT: And we’re gonna help everyone else learn from Peaches as we start putting the pieces of the puzzle together and try to figure out a plan so one of us can tag Peaches this fall.

GRANT: Walk over the little hill. We’ve got a trail cut right through the back side of that tree. Our scent, our noise, our presence…

GRANT: Just about two more weeks ‘til our Field Event and we’re all working hard to make sure we’ve got everything ready so we can share great information – including – we’ve talked James into returning and he can tell us all about his techniques for sealing ponds.

GRANT: We hope you’ll come join us August 12th and 13th.

GRANT: Whether you're working on a habitat management project or just going outside and taking a walk to relieve some stress. One of the best things you can do is slow down and enjoy Creation. And even more importantly, take time each day to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.