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GRANT: It’s early morning, July 5th and we’re definitely on the downhill slide toward deer season.
GRANT: This time of year I typically move my trail cameras from up high on a tree where I’ve been using time lapse feature to watch the whole field and see where deer are moving, coming and going, and maybe a velvet antler is growing, down to mineral licks where I’m seeing exactly what’s going on at close range and I can get great images of those developing antlers.
GRANT: The most practical way for most of us to monitor those herd and habitat conditions are by using trail cameras. They're simply out there 24 hours a day/7 days a week and we’ve gotta have a job or something else going on.
GRANT: In those states where bow season starts early and you’ve got a mineral lick out, about one per 100 acres usually, you’ll get a real pattern. Because bucks home range is small and you know exactly where they're spending their time. Probably only one or two of your mineral licks will be used by any individual buck. And you can really hone in on where to put your stand for those early season hunts.
GRANT: I really enjoy using my trail cameras this time of year, watching those antlers grow almost every day it seems like. But I use trail cameras year round. And one thing that makes that more practical for me is using a high quality, rechargeable battery. I just feel better about it. I’m a better conservationist because I’m not using a disposable product that I’m pitching in the landfill every month or two. I’ve got a couple of years out of these rechargeable batteries and it makes everything about my whole trail camera operation go a little bit better.
GRANT: As I was pulling those trail cameras down and moving ‘em to my mineral sites, I noticed a few food plots were extremely heavily browsed. Now part of that’s just the drought ‘cause the native vegetation is suffering also and it’s concentrating the deer on that heavily fertilized forage. But also, when I look through those cards, I notice there’s some competition in the food plots.
GRANT: (Whispering) It’s in the hot summer, but it sure feels good to go hunting. Let’s see what we get.
GRANT: (Whispering) See how brown this food plot is? It ought to be really green with soybeans this time of year but we’re in a wicked drought (A) and (B) a family of groundhogs has moved in here and they're eating more than their fair share.
GRANT: Groundhogs were clearly in the field more than deer were. There were two groundhogs in some pictures; single groundhogs at other times and they were putting the hammer on that food plot.
GRANT: Set an hour or two and I had the exact same anticipation we saw that first groundhog pop up over the ridge as I would a deer coming into the food plot.
GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible) That is great practice for a big buck. I was shaking and about as nervous as a Boone ‘n Crockett out there.
GRANT: This soybean muncher is getting ready to provide some munchies for the Woods family. Get out this summer and enjoy some great hunting experiences, awesome tune up for deer season and provide some fresh meat for your family.
GRANT: Not only was it great fun, it helped protect this field so we can get some regeneration of our plants and feed the target animals of white-tailed deer and turkey.
GRANT: One of the bucks that’s already showed up this year is Heavy Ten. Man, I was excited to see him one of the first few nights we had the camera out. Now, Heavy Ten is a buck that we had on our hit list last year. Matter of fact, we had images in 2009, 2010 and now in 2011. He’s got a split ear and kind of a funky growth on his G2. He’s very identifiable. Man, knowing that Heavy Ten’s out there, that we’re in his core area at least during the early season, that he’s alive and well and healthy, that’s extremely rewarding to me as a deer hunter and a deer manager.
GRANT: This is a great technique that most hunters throughout the whitetails’ range can use. Get you some mineral; get you some trail cameras. I like to have a station at least every 100 acres or maybe even less. Position ‘em where you think deer are active, but they're gonna find it, this time of year they're gonna seek out those minerals. Get that camera at the right distance away, usually facing north, and check out the bucks on your property this summer. It is an awesome start to your deer season. If you want to add to that fire, just maintain those mineral sites year after year in the same location. The deer will get conditioned to coming there during antler growth season – helping those antlers grow and you’ll know exactly where to get pictures of those bachelor groups and know exactly what bucks survived and are available on your property.
GRANT: I hope the growing conditions are better at your property than they are here at The Proving Grounds. I hope the deer are wearing out your mineral licks and you're spending most of your nights thumbing through trail camera images, thinking about the bucks you're gonna be hunting this fall.
GRANT: Hey, thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.
GRANT: 8.0 exactly. Thing about groundhog is they're about half hide, so that’s not eight pounds of meat, but it’s still great quality meat. Let’s see what happens here. You prepare a groundhog just like you would a deer. And young groundhogs are tender, more meat than a squirrel, but not a huge amount of meat. Check out groundhog hunting and tune up your deer hunting skills.