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GRANT: These hidey hole food plots are literally some of the roughest ground here at The Proving Grounds. Because they're new, there’s no organic matter or soil built up yet. We haven’t had many years to apply our messy food plot technique. So, we’re literally scratching rocks as we planted these food plots.
GRANT: Given those harsh conditions, I was thrilled when we rolled up to one of ‘em this morning and saw young soybeans germinating everywhere.
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GRANT: Eleven days ago we planted this hidey hole food plot with the Genesis drill. And already, I can tell we’ve got great germination. A no-till drill is a great tool for soil conservation and even soil building. But if you look in this plot, it’s nothing but rocks – we actually call it Slab Town – so discing is simply not an option here.
GRANT: We simply terminated the cover crop – you see it everywhere. Used the Genesis drill to place the seed appropriately and we’ve got a great stand of Eagle Seed beans coming on.
GRANT: You’ll notice the beans are pretty thick because this is less than an eighth of an acre. So planting at a normal rate will allow the deer to consume most of the beans before they made much tonnage. By planting a lot of seeds per acre – I think we’ve planted this at over 80 pounds per acre – there’s a lot of stems out here; by the time the deer remove a few, we’ll end up with a pretty good stand of soybeans.
GRANT: I used to worth noting that we’re over eight inches behind in soil moisture so far during 2016. We’ve got great germination. If we had disced this – which allowed more air to get in the soil and dry it out – and if we didn’t have this cover crop providing some shade, and even as thin as it is, I doubt these beans would have germinated as successfully.
GRANT: Hopefully, we’ll get adequate moisture throughout the growing season. And if we do, I promise you these hidey hole food plots are gonna be great stand locations this fall.
GRANT: This mess, or organic matter, is simply the vegetation from the previous food plot crop. Whether it was Broadside or Eagle Seed forage soybeans, we didn’t disc them in. We simply terminated it and drilled right through it; allowed that to fall over and make a shield protecting the soil.
GRANT: It’s cold and wet this morning. In fact, it’s still sprinkling. But last night we had an inch and three quarters of rain. Now that was welcome because we’re about eight inches behind normal. But some of that rain came very hard.
GRANT: This food plot was planted about a week ago and you can see we have great germination already. But I gotta tell ya – with that hard rain – given the steep slope of this plot – the top soil and most of the seed would’ve washed right down into the timber. What prevented that catastrophe is what we call messy planting. I know it sounds kind of negative and this field looks kind of messy. You can see all the terminated crop – last year’s cover crop – Broadside – laying willy nilly everywhere. But all we did was terminate that crop and use a no-till drill to plant the Eagle Seed soybeans.
GRANT: That cover crop, or organic matter, that’s laying on top of the ground – you can see the weed stems and even some turnip stems and what-not – laying there, caught the rain drops, slowed that impact down or even absorbed some of it. And you can see there’s not one little track of a sign of erosion. There’s no runoff. And this hillside is much steeper than it appears on camera.
GRANT: The benefits don’t stop from preventing erosion. This organic matter, last fall’s cover crop laying on top of the soil, will shield the soil when the sun comes out, keep the soil temperature a little bit lower and reduce evaporation.
GRANT: The mulch, or last year’s cover crop, not only reduces evaporation but is perfect habitat for earthworms and other beneficial micro organisms that are actually improving the soil.
GRANT: This technique looks a little messy. I think it’s just hard for some guys to grasp, since they’ve been discing forever. But it saves time, improves soil, reduces cost and is better for the deer herd.
GRANT: It’s common to drive around and see where farmers or food plotters have disced a field, get a big rain – all of a sudden, there’s a little ditch. And the next rain, there’s a giant ditch going right through the field. We don’t want that to happen and an easy way to protect your property is to have that shield on top of the soil in the form of a cover crop.
GRANT: Cover crops aren’t fancy. For food plotters, they're just our fall food plot. We want something growing on the surface of our plot as many months through the year as we can and we never interrupt that cycle by discing. We simply terminate that crop by rolling, or herbicide, or whatever is appropriate for your area. And use a no-till drill to place the seed in the soil.
GRANT: A really big part of our food plot success is what we call the messy technique and that simply means making sure our dirt is always covered with either growing or dead vegetation.
GRANT: Everyone knows how much deer love soybeans. That’s one reason why they're one of my favorite food plot crops. But in a small plot, deer can over browse ‘em when they germinate and damage the crop before it matures.
GRANT: Knowing how much deer love young soybeans, we take a few of our smaller plots each year – usually right in front of a stand or a blind – and put up a Hot Zone electric fence. If those beans are protected from day one, they’ll develop and make a great yield of pods which means it’s a hot spot for hunting come the late season.
GRANT: A primary consideration is the prevailing wind and how you can approach that stand or that fence without alerting deer in the area.
ADAM: Kind of go just like that – possibly put the gate just right over there so when they step out there – if they come through the gate, they're 30, 35 yards, maybe 40 at the max, so.
ADAM: It’s late May and it’s a great time of the year here at The Proving Grounds. Eagle Seed soybeans have just started to germinate, so it’s time to put out our Hot Zone fence.
ADAM: We’re putting up the Hot Zone in a new area this year. This is a food plot we call North Boom. I actually had some success here this past November; shot a great buck called July Johnson about 150 yards out in the field. Rae shot a nice buck here. So, it’s time to bring in the fence and see if we can make it bow hunter friendly.
ADAM: We’ve got the Redneck Blind set up on the western side of this food plot. Deer typically like to hang down at the eastern end but we’re gonna bring them into bow range this year. Put up the fence; protect these Eagle Seed beans; let ‘em go to grain so this late winter coming up when the temperatures drop and deer are really craving those high energy food sources, they know where to find ‘em and we’re gonna be set up in the Redneck Blind waiting on ‘em.
GRANT: Another really important consideration is where you might had hit list bucks last year that you don’t believe were harvested. They’ll probably be on the same pattern this year and putting a fence in that area means you're one step ahead of locating a buck for this season.
ADAM: This is our new summer intern, Chance Vorderstrasse from the University of Nebraska. It’s his first week here. So, he’s gonna help us put up the fence.
GRANT: Next, we start stringing the wire and we start on the inside – or towards the crop we want to protect. We put one strand ten and the second strand 24 inches above the ground.
GRANT: In addition to understanding the prevailing wind from a deer’s point of view, think about it from the hunter’s point of view. Can you get to your stand or blind next to the fence without alerting deer – given a wind that’s most likely to occur during the late season?
ADAM: We have all our corner posts in. The next step’s gonna be putting in the line post. One thing we want to address is when you're trying to maximize the size of your fence, it’s important you don’t take it right next to the timber. You want to leave a little bit of a buffer there. That way the deer aren’t busting through and running into the fence. Or you're trying to get equipment through here. We still have another portion of the field we want to plant this fall. So we can still get our tractor through here. But you always want to leave about ten yards on the edge of the field between the fence and the timber.
GRANT: Once the inside wire is strung, we put out the outside layer post. You might remember – to keep deer out, you need a two layer electric fence. And the outside layer should be three feet from the inside layer. If you get ‘em too close, deer will jump the whole thing; and too far apart, deer will jump in the middle and jump the second layer of the fence.
ADAM: Yes, it’s an old stick that I’ve got this poly tape rolled up on. I’ve been using this same Hot Zone fence for about four or five seasons now. We just store it away every off season, break it out and it’s ready to go another season.
GRANT: Once the post is set for the outside layer of the fence, we use a thicker poly tape type fencing there. We found that that tape will catch a lot of wind – shimmy and shake – and it’s just another deterrent to keep deer away from the crop you're protecting.
ADAM: Ground rod. So, this is basically how we keep all three lines hot. Of course, we have our poly tape on the outside; two poly lines on the inside. But you have to connect them somehow. So, we just take any excess poly wire that we have; make a couple of loops around the outside; bring it in; wrap it a few more times around the bottom wire; bring it up, all on the same line; and connect it to the top.
GRANT: The goal is to put it up and make sure it’s hot that same day. If you leave it up overnight without charging the fence, deer may lose their fear of it and learn to jump it. And once they learn to jump the fence, it’s doubtful you’ll keep ‘em out. So, go ahead and start. Put the fence up. Then get the solar charger up – positioned appropriately – and turn that baby hot before you leave the project.
GRANT: We’ll check the fence periodically through the summer, just to make sure it’s hot, and probably weed eat underneath the wires a time or two. Because if we don’t, those Eagle Seed beans will grow up into the fence and short it out.
ADAM: Well, this project’s complete. Unfortunately for Chance, he was here for the work, but he’s not gonna be able to be here to reap the benefits of it this deer season. For the rest of us, we’re gonna be sitting around waiting on those cold temperatures, so we can climb in that Redneck Blind and overlook this beautiful stand of Eagle Seed beans.
GRANT: If you’d like to try one of the Hot Zone fences on your property, but you want a little discount, simply join the GrowingDeer Field Staff and we’ll send you a code to get a discount on a Hot Zone Non-Typical Fence.
GRANT: Whether you're planting food plots or had a garden or a flower bed in the past, you know there’s something magical about watching seeds, which appear dead, grow and become something beautiful and/or nutritious. That’s the same thing about developing a relationship with Jesus Christ. I hope this week you take time to enjoy Creation, hopefully watch some seeds germinate and grow. But most importantly, take time each day to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.