Improve Native Browse for Whitetails | Bow Hunting Prep | Hunting Strategies (Episode 400 Transcript)

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GRANT: This is a special episode of GrowingDeer. It's the 400th episode since we started during 2009. All those weeks and never a repeat episode, a new episode every week. I keep learning advanced ways to manage deer and deer habitat and better hunting technique, and I enjoy sharing ‘em with you.

GRANT: During the past eight years we've been blessed to get to see a bunch of y'all at deer shows and field days and emails and social media. We really appreciate the feedback. We hope it continues as we look forward to an exciting fall.

GRANT: Thirteen scoreable points on the Trashman.

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GRANT: I can see easily, move on. We don't have time to be dilly dallying. Okay?

GRANT: Recently, we shared with you that the GrowingDeer Team traveled to near Rolla, Missouri and helped a landowner with a TSI project.

GRANT: Marking the south side of the tree looking north, and the hack-and-squirt crew will be doing the same thing we're doing so they don't lose our marks looking at the sun.

GRANT: TSI stands for timber stand improvement, and on this project we actually went in and painted or marked the leave trees – trees that are beneficial to wildlife or had marketable value, would be quality timber someday – and left the rest unmarked so the Flatwood Natives crew could come in and terminate those trees.

GRANT: The guys from Flatwood used a hack-and-squirt system to terminate the trees we want to remove. Simply put, they took hatchets, made a slice in the tree, injected just a small amount of herbicide. That allows the tree do die standing up instead of falling over like a chainsaw tree and scarring the residual trees, a much better system in a low-quality timber environment.

GRANT: The goal of this project was to allow a lot more sunshine through the timber canopy and allow native forbs and grasses to grow on the forest floor. This project was necessary because during the past that block of timber had basically been high graded by other landowners. High grading simply means for years they had taken the best and left the rest. And we need to reverse the trend by now leaving the best and terminating the rest.

GRANT: Similar to the property in Rolla, much of my property has been high graded in the past. You can see the signs by very few straight, white oak trees. A lot of gnarly, crooked trees growing in their place.

GRANT: I have the nineteen fifty-one or two aerial photo of this property, and it's hard to believe but these ridgetops were cleared at that time. And most of these ridgetop areas even before then were tomato fields.

GRANT: The soil here is naturally acidic, and there's lots of big springs and there were back in the day – so fresh water and acidic soil is a great place for a tomato cannery. My mother's parents raised tomatoes about three miles from here and delivered ‘em to a cannery.

GRANT: As that cycle ended and the forest came back, one of the first trees to establish an area is usually sassafras. Sassafras makes a ton of seeds and easily stump sprouts so it can really take over an area, and you can see all this sassafras around me. Sassafras is interesting because the leaves can be single lobe, double lobe, or actually have three lobes, but even with that diversity, it's still an easy tree to identify.

GRANT: Though you see some spotted sun with shade through here, there's almost nothing growing because sassafras is crowding it out. We've used prescribed fire in here multiple times, but as I’ve shared in the past, fire, unless it's catastrophic, almost never kills hardwoods; it will top kill them but then they stump sprout back.

GRANT: Realizing I needed a change in techniques, I tried a small test area using 5% glyphosate to treat the sassafras. A short walk through the test plot and I knew the 5% glyphosate mixture was gonna do a good job of killing the sassafras.

GRANT: Knowing these results, we got the interns and crew lined up and started treating the side of the ridge.

GRANT: It's amazing how much habitat work you can do with simple hand tools.

GRANT: This looks really good. It's either dead or dying. Leaves are wilting, fading like here. I'm sure we missed a spot or two. You know, we're not professionals. We're just going through here and treating them. They were so thick, it's easy to miss a spot, but this looks really good.

GRANT: We gave it a few weeks, and it looks like almost 100 percent kill. The reason we chose glyphosate versus some of the other herbicides commonly used in forestry, is it's ground neutral. There was no chance it was gonna hurt the larger oaks or go into the root system of the trees we wanted to save.

GRANT: Glyphosate is gonna be an inexpensive and effective way to control sassafras. But don't try it on hickory or other species. You won't have the same results.

GRANT: As always when you're gonna make a herbicide application, take time to read the label and do a little trial area or learn from someone else's experience.

GRANT: We’ll keep sharing these simple techniques so you can improve the habitat where you hunt.

GRANT: This time of year I'm getting ready for season and really focused on improving my accuracy.

GRANT: Most of us, myself included, get a bit nervous when a big hit list buck steps out in front of us. Heck, I get a little nervous when a mature doe gets in range.

GRANT: Oftentimes I'll shoot in the morning before work, but I don't have time to go to a range or really even shoot a whole bunch of shots. I can still have some extremely meaningful and productive practice by shooting really close right in my yard.

GRANT: This is called blind bale practicing, and it simply means I'm shooting very close to the bale or good backstop, and I shoot with my eyes shut. I shoot close, so there's no chance I'm gonna miss. I'm basically so close that at full extension my arrow is gonna clear my bow, so there won't be a problem.

GRANT: It may seem odd talking about shooting with my eyes shut and improving accuracy, but the biggest thing with accuracy, once your bow is tuned, is doing everything exactly the same. Getting your form exactly right – having that muscle memory so when a big elk or a big buck steps out there, everything is ready to roll.

GRANT: So, I stand close. I shoot with my eyes shut. I'm obviously not worried about where I hit the target. I'm worried about form; how I hold the bow; how I anchor; releasing with my shoulders versus pulling through with my trigger finger. Those are the things that make an accurate shot.

GRANT: With blind bale – close range, eyes shut – there’s a zero target panic and helps you build good form without any target panic messing up the results. So, whether I just have a few minutes before work or I have a full-blown practice session, I take 5 or 10 shots blind bale; get my form just right, and then continue with my practice.

GRANT: You can tell my target is a bit faded because I've used it outside for years with the blind bale technique. Blind bale has become so important to improving my accuracy as a bow hunter that whether I have just a few minutes before work or I'm doing a full-blown practice session, I almost always start with the blind bale technique.

GRANT: As we get closer to the opening of deer season, I'll share some additional techniques I use to make sure I'm 100 percent confident I can make the shot come opening day.

GRANT: I recently had the opportunity to help the Coble family with a habitat and hunting plan for their Tennessee farm.

GRANT: Like most of us, their hunting property is not in prime row crop area. In fact, most of it was covered with timber and it was too steep for row crops.

GRANT: So who got started in a trucking business? How'd that get started?

COBLE: That started with my, actually my father and my grandfather in 1951.

GRANT: No kidding.

COBLE: Yeah, Everett and Neely are fourth generation in our business, so.

GRANT: We discussed our hunting goals and objectives; toured the property; and then returned and studied some maps and crafted a hunting and habitat plan.

GRANT: We want to get on these elevator ridges that are coming to the sides. Those are massive kill zones, and you want to back off like 100 yards or so. You don't want to be right there. If you're hunting where there's that much sign, probably you're in a bowl or somewhere where the wind is in their favor, and you can't be there when they’re there.

COBLE: Hmm. Hmm.

GRANT: Find out how they're getting there and hunt them coming and go to that area. I rarely hunt maximum sign. I hunt travel paths to and from maximum sign.

GRANT: As with most things in life, it's much easier to learn from the experiences of others than doing it wrong and starting over. That's a huge reason why I like taking my experiences and sharing with other landowners.

GRANT: Whether you're out practicing your shooting, scouting on public land, or doing a habitat improvement project, remember to take time every day to slow down and enjoy Creation. But most importantly be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.