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GRANT: October 5th. We had a short, but hot week here at The Proving Grounds.
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GRANT: We do a lot of work here at The Proving Grounds to improve the habitat because we’re basically an island. The Proving Grounds is located near Branson, Missouri and the Ozark Mountains which is not known for quality deer habitat. The Proving Grounds just happens to be split by two counties – Stone and Taney County near Branson, Missouri. In both of these counties, there’s never been a Pope & Young or Boone & Crockett recorded. Obviously, there’s very infertile soil and low quality habitat in this area never to have at least one Pope & Young recorded.
GRANT: So, we’re basically an island here. We do a lot of things to improve the habitat. We spread really high quality fertilizer called Antler Dirt. We plant high quality crops and we use prescribed fire to try to restore the native plant community back to this environment.
GRANT: We need to get this baby rocking. See if we’re going to be able to string any fire here.
GRANT: It’s fall but it hasn’t frosted yet and the trees are still pulling the energy up to the leaves and photosynthesizing which means it’s a great time to do a prescribed fire and knock out some of these saplings; getting more native grasses and native forbs for better habitat.
GRANT: Our method of burning in this really mountainous, steep habitat has been all morning when the humidity is high burning through the hard woods, the mature trees where we don’t want to do much damage and just enough fire to hopefully girdle those little saplings that are choking out the vegetation on the forest floor. Hopefully by one or two o’clock in the afternoon, we’ve got that area blacked out and our bedding areas, which tend to be a little bit further down slope where we don’t want trees at all, we can set a head fire or a fire to the bottom of the hill that’s going to rush up the hill and be a little bit more intense, killing those hardwood saplings and open up that canopy that’s only five or six feet tall, allowing native forbs and grasses to recolonize the area.
GRANT: So, over the years, we’ve cut a lot of areas that were clogged up with cedars and used prescribed fire in an attempt to return those native species. Just like disking an old fallow field at different times of the year will result in different plants coming back, burning at different times of the year will result in different plants recolonizing that area. Burning in late summer or fall tends to kill hardwood saplings that may have moved in and choked out more beneficial plants. It doesn’t do it necessarily by the intensity of the fire burning up these stems. It does it by that low fire girdling the stem and then the plant doesn’t have enough time to make new leaves and photosynthesize before the winter. Most of these hardwood saplings try to store carbohydrates in their root system to allow them to come out in the spring. But if we cut that top off now, by girdling the tree with fire, it can’t store carbohydrates and there’s a low chance it will survive the winter. Fire can be extremely dangerous and it should not be tried unless you’ve had the proper training, plenty of help and great communication among those on the fire.
ADAM & BRIAN: (Music playing) (Singing) Speed limits slow you down.
ADAM: Well, it’s about 6:45 and we have about, maybe 30 minutes of shooting light left. Sun’s already going down below the horizon. We’ve waited all evening for this last 45 minutes to hunt and the wind has completely switched 360; I guess it’s 180 isn’t it?
GRANT: Adam and Brian made the wise choice of getting out of that stand and not alerting deer in that area; saving it for a better day.
GRANT: Oh, I wouldn’t wanna drag that by myself.
GRANT: As Adam and I returned from our trip to Kansas recently, we noticed almost all the bean fields are yellow or even started to be harvested already. Eagle has figured out these beans. They keep growing all the way ‘til it frosts. Easy to see this field is still green, growing, produced a huge number of pods, even in a hundred year record drought where other fields are yellow and not attractive to deer. So the great thing about a forage soybean is it stays green until the first frost. And about that time, the deer will switch over and start consuming these pods.
GRANT: There are literally thousands of row crop ag farmers throughout America that just dream their soybeans made this many pods this year, let alone on the old rocky soil during a drought here at The Proving Grounds. Better forage is usually high in nitrogen or high in protein. Deer, like humans, kind of look at protein and carbohydrates in the simplest form. That if you look at all these nodules on the root system here, this plant was pumping out a huge amount of nitrogen. The size of these healthy stems, the number of pods; they’ve fed deer all the way through a drought year. Nothing beats an Eagle Seed forage soybean.
GRANT: The plant varieties we use, the techniques, the fertilizer, everything we use, is just an example that you can be a great island in a desert of unproductive deer habitat, should you have that desire. Now remember, I’m in the Ozark Mountains. There’s not a combine or a soybean field for miles and miles around me. And it’s kind of a testimony that you can be an island too. If you don’t live in Iowa or Kansas or a row crop producing area, if you live in the mountains of Tennessee or Arkansas or Kentucky or anywhere else, you can grow the quality deer we grow here at The Proving Grounds just realizing that you're going to be an island of habitat, probably with a lot of neighbors that don’t play by the same rules you play by.
GRANT: Wherever you hunt, take time to enjoy Creation and think about the Creator. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.