Hunting Whitetails Without Corn? (Episode 140 Transcript)

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GRANT: Even though I’m extremely concerned about the drought conditions and therefore the stress deer are experiencing, I took an afternoon to get in a Redneck blind and enjoy.

GRANT: Adam and I went to Big Boom and even though that food plot is mainly just a few low weeds due to the drought conditions, we thought we might see some critters. Big Boom is located on a long ridge we call Boomerang that’s a natural travel corridor. It felt good to get in a blind and carry your gun and kind of get the camera all set up. Now we weren’t deer hunting, of course, but we still have pesky groundhogs and we can't afford to lose any forage during this drought.

GRANT: Just as we were setting up and starting to do our first interview, I noticed movement just to the side of the blind.

GRANT: I’m always curious how bucks injure their antlers, such as this yearling we observed, but it’s always interesting to watch those bucks in future seasons to see if that injury results in a non-typical rack.

GRANT: Most of you know I’m an avid turkey hunter and seeing gobblers, especially with a big swinging beard, is always a welcome experience.

GRANT: Turkeys survive droughts much better than deer because they're not dependent solely on vegetation. They consume bugs, worms, little snakes – all kinds of stuff that whitetail wouldn’t touch.

GRANT: A couple of maintenance items I like to do to my Redneck blinds, long before hunting season, is make sure the windows are clean, make sure the windows and doors open silently. Dead Down Wind wisely came out with a high quality odorless oil that’s great for projects like this and even using on your gun and bow to make sure you’ve got the right lubricant there, but there’s no odor. I don’t want to use WD-40 or some other smell that’s gonna linger for weeks and weeks in this area and potentially make mature bucks avoid the area.

GRANT: Just takes a drop or two to make sure that hinge is gonna be silent all winter long.

GRANT: Once I had the gun sighted in off the bench, I switched over to the dead pod, or a field situation, where you don’t have that stable bench and I was very pleased with the results. We are ready to roll to Kansas and chase coyotes.

GRANT: We enjoyed several hunts that afternoon and starting at daylight the next morning. We only saw one coyote right before shooting light and very few deer.

GRANT: Clearly the critters in that part of Kansas are moving primarily after dark to avoid the heat stress and limiting the amount of energy they use given the low amount of food available.

GRANT: One thing that became very obvious driving through Kansas was the amount of corn being cut right now.

GRANT: A lot of farmers are cutting the corn now to salvage it as silage and silage doesn’t leave any spilled corn on the land or any cover for deer to hide in. Standing corn is the largest source of cover in most of the agricultural Midwest and without that, it’s going to change deer behavior this fall.

GRANT: I’ve written a blog about this topic and there’s a link to it below. But if you're hunt in an area in the Midwest where there’s a lot of corn and it’s been cut as silage, I urge you to start scouting now and find other sources of cover and feed that are gonna replace those big corn fields because there’s no doubt in my mind that deer activity patterns and movement patterns are going to change due to the amount of corn being cut as silage.

GRANT: Back at The Proving Grounds, the team and I have noticed that deer are much more visible in our areas of native vegetation than any year since we’ve owned The Proving Grounds. This year all the pain, sweat and tears involved in preparing native vegetation and prescribed fire, thinning trees – all the activity we share with you – is paying huge dividends and literally carrying my deer herd through this harsh drought.

GRANT: When deer group up and try to find forage – it’s called optimal foraging strategy. And when that happens in the late summer, that’s a really bad sign as far as antler development or fawn survival because it means conditions are really harsh.

GRANT: Nothing is more rewarding than seeing half a dozen deer using the habitat you’ve created.

GRANT: Native vegetation is critical anywhere, but especially during these drought years where native vegetation tends to handle drought a little bit better than cultivated vegetation.

GRANT: And on that slope, you can tell it’s been burned with prescribed fire a couple times setting back the brush, allowing the forbs and the weeds and stuff deer eat come back and recolonize that area. And I was very pleased to see deer out there using it this morning.

GRANT: This food plot of soybeans had seed in the ground earlier than any plot here at my property. This was a huge gamble because the seed was in the ground way before the last frost date usually occurs. But that gamble paid off with dividends this year because we had a warm spring; that last frost never occurred and that’s allowed these beans to prosper better than any food plot on my property. It’s confusing when you look at the whole field but when I pull one stem up and I look at all the places this has tried to grow and regrow and regrow because deer have browsed and removed the forage, it’s incredible how tough and durable this plant is.

GRANT: Because these beans are only about 8” tall and being browsed heavily, there’s some sunshine reaching the food plot floor. So, I’ll come in and either broadcast or drill right through and place a cool season crop in to allow it to germinate and grow right up through the beans.

GRANT: Even though the conditions are tough, I hope you get outside and see how the deer are behaving in your area and enjoy Creation. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.