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GRANT: It’s March 9th today, and it’s my wedding anniversary. Tracy and I have been married 15 years. Fifteen years ago, we were in the mountains of South Carolina and it was wicked cold – in the teens and wet, kinda like today – and I used to have a tree nursery, a wildlife tree nursery – pears, persimmons, stuff like that. I’ve always been a workaholic, and I had about 300 trees I needed to deliver that morning, before my wedding. I remember how cold it was because they had frozen to the bed of the U-Haul truck I had rented to deliver those trees. And had to call some buddies; and they didn’t want to show up so I’d be late for my wedding. I couldn’t get ‘em unfroze. So thinking about cold and going into March. It’s cold today, throughout most of the whitetails’ range, and wet, and although Brad talked last week about clover and green vegetation. And you don’t get, usually, that energy content out of green growing forage – that’s protein.
GRANT: Even through March, in most of the whitetails’ range, we still need grain – soybeans or corn – ‘cause they have so much more energy than green growing forage. So today, in mid-March, we’re gonna talk about grain and how important that is to carry your deer herd all the way ‘til it truly warms up, so they can have great anniversaries in the future.
GRANT: This is the utilization cage, and of course, we’ve talked about them a lot, here on GrowingDeer.tv. And this is a really small field, like an eighth of an acre, and outside this utilization cage there are very few bean pods anywhere. And I can assure you those few pods had an insect, or something is wrong, ‘cause they’ve cleaned this like a cold, cold marriage buddy. I mean it’s ugly – like no supper when you come home from work. But inside the utilization cage – look at this stalk here. I mean there’s just pods all the way up it. Gosh, in a drought year – we had a wicked draught year last year – and this thing is chest tall on me. So we provided a lot of food and forage here. And this was a small hunting plot, still just had tremendous yield off our Eagle Seed forage soybeans, so it carried on until fairly late in winter. Three, four weeks ago, there was still some bean pods here. We got this cage. If I just walked by and saw this and I hadn’t known it, or driven by this road a lot, as I hunt the property, I might have thought this was a failure, that the pods didn’t develop, or something was wrong and it was just stems. But the utilization cage tells me that I had great production and the deer utilized them – hence the name utilization cage – that carried them through this harsh winter.
GRANT: Now, Brand and I are just getting ready to go, just 200 yards, or so. You’re right across the creek and we’ll have a feeding field. This is a small hunting plot. A feeding field – that one has to be several acres in size – and show you the difference when you can get more quantity in one area. No doubt, the deer here know that field’s there, and we want to show you the difference and why it’s so important to manage your property with small hunting plots where deer are comfortable coming out in the daylight hours and feeding fields, so they can express their full potential. Come along with us.
GRANT: Corn is one of the best sources of energy for a whitetail herd, in the winter, and in the winter energy is a limited resource. You can get lots of sources of protein, through native vegetation, if you’ve got prescribed fire or timber cutting going on, or whatever. But energy is a limited resource, and the energy from corn is much more digestible and readily available than, let’s say, rough acorns, or something like that. Now, this is about a four acre patch of corn that didn’t grow very thick, because of wireworm. And we’ll talk about that more this spring, as we’re planting, and what we have to do to get on top of wireworm. But most of this corn is gone. We had just enough. There’s a few full ears we found, as Brad and I walked through here – not many. A lot of partial, or not many partial, actually. Most of it’s this, and it will kind of fake you out, ‘cause as you look behind me, you say, well Grant, there’s a lot of corn there, but most of it is just husk, like this, with no ear inside. The deer have already consumed it. One of the beautiful things about a crop of corn is most genetic varieties anymore, of course the ear grows up, and as it ripens, it falls over, and the husk protects the ear of corn from moisture, or most insects, and what not. Deer have no problem peeling that back and eating what’s inside. It’s like Christmas morning.
GRANT: If you have the room, food plot size – anywhere from Florida to Canada – there’s a variety of corn that will work well in your area, and it will certainly be a great tool for you to manage your deer herd to express their full potential.
GRANT: Literally, just 150 yards behind us is where Brad and I started this morning in the little hunting food plot – less than an acre – and deer had wiped it all out, except inside the utilization cage. But just across the creek, in coming here, plenty of bean pods left. My goodness, this stalk is as tall as my nose. Look around, lots of food. It’s about a four acre field and that’s important, no matter whether you’re managing 40 acres or 1,400 acres. Have a big feeding destination field where deer can get to at night – in the comfort and safety of night – and have all they want to feed and hold grain late into the winter, early spring, so they’re not stressing out in these cold tough temperatures, ‘cause I’m cold out here today.
GRANT: By providing this and having a destination field where there’s plenty of high energy, high protein food to eat, you don’t want to hunt it and condition deer to avoid it. Brad and I hunted within two or three hundred yards in several directions of here, but we didn’t want to hunt right here and spook the deer off of it. And that’s a great strategy to keep the deer on your property well fed, expressing their potential. Certainly, those deer that were 150 yards away that cleaned that field also ate in here. There was just such a volume of great food here. They couldn’t get on top of it all. Just another strategy to allow the deer on your property to express their full potential. No doubt, with all of this and these cold days, there’s fresh droppings, deer are eating in here, we’ll have bigger antlers and better fawns next year, 2011 season, because we had a big, centrally located feeding field. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.
GRANT: There’s a half a bushel of beans on one plant. I might hang my tree stand on that thing.