This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: Winter weather has finally arrived here at The Proving Grounds, but that doesn’t mean we’re not still hunting and that there’s not activities you can do to help your deer and turkey populations.
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GRANT: Yesterday afternoon, Adam and Matt were hunting about 90 miles from The Proving Grounds and had a neat observation.
GRANT: It had snowed a few inches and Adam correctly forecast that deer would be moving from cover to food.
GRANT: Adam had promised a landowner he would help reduce some of the crop damage by taking does during the late season.
GRANT: As he saw some deer approaching, he noticed that the second deer was a yearling buck which made him very curious about the first deer.
GRANT: Once the first deer got in range, he could tell that it was also a yearling buck that had already shed both of his antlers.
ADAM: (Whispering) I thought the lead one was a doe, but this time of year you’ve got to be careful. It was actually a shed buck. The other one was – what all was there?
MATT: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
ADAM: (Whispering) There was a shed buck…
MATT: (Whispering) A half rack.
ADAM: (Whispering) …a half rack and then two yearling bucks. I think they were – I think, excuse me, I think that half rack one was a two and a half, but the other three were yearlings.
GRANT: During the season, any individual buck’s testosterone level goes up and down above a certain threshold, depending on if he smells a hot doe or gets in a fight and wins or loses. But about this time of year, once that level drops below a threshold, a certain layer of cells right between the antler and the pedicle will change. And that’s what allows sheds to drop off rapidly.
GRANT: This time of year, deer have very long hair and that long hair can actually cover the pedicle or the antler scars. If you're not looking closely, it’s easy to shoot a shed buck thinking it’s a doe.
GRANT: In addition to hunting, we’re trapping during this time of year. In many areas, it’s important to work on balancing the predator and prey populations. Especially this year, given fur prices are so low that many fur trappers can't afford to trap.
MATT: (Inaudible) buddy. The new year has just begun and it’s brought us colder temperatures. We’re seeing a lot more raccoons and predators moving on our Reconyx cameras, so we’re keying into those locations and setting up our Duke cage traps.
MATT: With these colder temperatures, the predators are now seeking out a higher energy food source. So, we’ve had to change some of the attractants to get ‘em in our traps. Some of the best baits we’ve found are the cheapest and easily accessible ones – like table scraps, peanut butter, cat food and bacon grease. These baits have a meatier smell and that’s exactly what the predators are looking for this time of year.
MATT: Well, this might be one of the largest coons we’ve trapped this year, so we’re gonna dispatch him, get a weight on him and see how his pelt looks.
MATT: All right, guys. What are you thinking on weight here? I’m gonna go, I’m gonna go lowball and go 18. Oh, man. 18 on the dot.
GRANT: An 18 pound raccoon is larger than many bobcats and some coyotes here at The Proving Grounds. There’s no doubt in my mind that that large coon is going through a bedding area and comes across a newborn fawn – well, that fawn’s gonna become supper for the raccoon.
MATT: Make sure I bait the road and the food plot a little bit here. Slow ‘em down as they're moving through. A can in – as well as put a little bit of peanut butter, that high fatty oil, in with the mix.
GRANT: There’s no supplemental feed out here at The Proving Grounds and the only grain is in our food plots. There’s no adjoining row crops for many, many miles. So, an 18 pound raccoon is a large specimen here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: There’s much research on the devastation raccoons can do to turkey and quail nests. Turkey populations have been increasing significantly here in The Proving Grounds. Part of that is due to the habitat improvement, but there’s no doubt our work to balance the predator and prey populations have been a factor in providing much better turkey populations for my family and myself to enjoy.
GRANT: Tracy has been trying several different recipes in preparing venison this fall. Recently, she wanted to try making venison brats, so Tracy and Daniel brought out the LEM grinder and went to work.
TRACY: Today, we’re going to be making bratwurst. It’s a summer favorite, but really, it can be used all year around. It’s a very simple and very similar to what we’ve shown you in previous videos.
TRACY: It’s got 16 pounds of venison and four pounds of pork per the recommendations on the LEM package.
GRANT: This process is very similar to making summer sausage, except a smaller, edible casing is used.
TRACY: We have our casing on the stuffing tube. This is an edible casing, so you're good to go with that. When you put it on the stuffing tube, it is a little bit more fragile, so you need to be very careful when you put it on, not to tear it.
DANIEL: Once we fill the casing, it’s time to tie ‘em in links. Now, an important step is to make sure that the ends are open. That allows pressure to come out, so you don’t pop the casing. Well, first thing we’re gonna do is bring the two ends together to be able to find the center and that’s our starting point. We’ll kind of work the meat down – kind of relieving some of the pressure so we’re not popping the casing. Get about six inches, take both casings together, pinch, a couple twists, and then we’ll take this one end and we’ll loop it around, bring it through the middle, and pull it through. Just like that. And then we’ll start repeating all the way down until all the links are made.
DANIEL: Now, it’s important as you're working down to keep relieving pressure out of the casing. That way you have enough room to be able to twist and you're not popping that casing.
DANIEL: Once you get to the end you just tie a knot and you're done. All right, Adam, what do you think? Are we butchers now?
ADAM: Looks good.
GRANT: I don’t mind being the guinea pig to try out Tracy’s new recipes and I can't wait to try some brats.
GRANT: You’ve probably noticed that deer are very selective feeders and they tend to eat on the most nutritious plants in their area. For example, if part of your food plot is too wet to add fertilizer, by the time fall comes around, almost all the deer will be feeding on the portion of plot where fertilizer was added – simply because those plants are healthier.
GRANT: The same line of reasoning is true for deer. The better the quality the diet, the more nutrients and minerals they take out of their habitat, the healthier they would be. They’ll produce larger antlers, more fawns, larger bodies and able to avoid predators better.
GRANT: The easiest way I've found to make sure deer are getting all the trace minerals they need is use Trophy Rock’s Four65. It’s mined in Utah; has over 60 trace minerals; deer love it and I keep it out year round.
GRANT: Deer have a fairly unique ability to store trace minerals in their skeletal system and then mobilize them when needed to produce antlers or grow fawns. It’s important to provide your deer herd with trace minerals this time of year, so come springtime they can develop antlers and fawns.
GRANT: Even during these cold days, I hope you take time to get outside and enjoy Creation, but most importantly, take time each day to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.