This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: They won't hear us ‘cause we can sneak along an old logging road. And not many deer will smell us…(Fades Out)
GRANT: That's why today I'm gonna share with you a technique we use that's kinda controversial.
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GRANT: One of the funner tasks of getting ready for deer season is gettin’ out and doing some scouting.
GRANT: Last week Daniel and the interns did some of this tough work here at The Proving Grounds and went to a plot we call Crabapple.
GRANT: Crabapple is the second largest plot at The Proving Grounds, and usually – if the conditions are right – is a great place to scout and/or hunt deer.
GRANT: The Crabapple plot is located in a valley that runs north and south. So, on those rare days this time of year when the wind is out of the north, we can come in from the south, get in a Redneck blind, and there's almost no chance we will alert deer.
GRANT: As a result of years of improving the habitat and working to balance the predator/prey population, we’ve got a lot of deer at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: We have more deer than we can build food plots. So, this year our goal is to remove about 40 does.
GRANT: That's a lot of fun and great venison for the freezer but it's also a lot of work. We need all hands on deck. So, Daniel wanted to spend some time with Tyler and Wes, our current interns, and teach them about running the camera the way we do it here at GrowingDeer so we can have multiple crews filming hunts this fall.
DANIEL: (Whispering) We're out with the interns tonight in a large food plot we call Crabapple. We've got Wes and Tyler behind the camera. They're gonna be doing a lot of filming this year, so we're getting 'em started filming velvet bucks and deer feeding here before our season.
DANIEL: (Whispering) So, we've got a lot of food here in Crabapple. It's one of the larger food plots. It's a central hub. Great feeding field for deer. The beans are looking great.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Earlier this summer, they were hit really hard by browse but we had some timely rain. They've really popped up, got ahead of that browse pressure and are looking great.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Thomas came in a few days ago and drilled the fall Buffalo blend into these beans. The beans laid down but a lot of them popped back up. It should be a killer spot later this year.
GRANT: Once they were settled in the blind and the sun dropped below a distant hill, they started seeing deer.
GRANT: As they were filming, Daniel spotted antlers sticking out of the beans.
GRANT: The guys enjoyed seeing some nice looking bucks. Wes and Tyler got some experience running the GrowingDeer cameras and we look forward to sharing hunts with these guys this fall.
GRANT: Scouting – such as figuring out where deer are feeding and bedding – well, that's about half the battle. Then you need to locate a stand or a blind in an area where you can access, hunt, and exit without alerting deer.
GRANT: Bring me a line so the dozer guy can see it from there to here.
GRANT: You may recall that the interns and I went to one of our small hidey hole food plots called Prickly Pear with the goal of expanding it.
GRANT: We studied the area, flagged out the area to be expanded, and prepared it for the guys to come in and remove the timber.
GRANT: Once we finished marking how we wanted to expand that food plot, David and Brenton brought in the heavy equipment and started removing timber.
GRANT: David and Brenton did a great job. Rather than just dozing it all down, they saved the logs that had market value and that helps offset the cost of expanding the food plot.
GRANT: Once the timber was removed, they leveled it out and prepared it for us to plant.
GRANT: We waited until there was rain in the forecast. And then Tyler rode that way and planted the plot.
GRANT: By using a no-till drill, we ensured that the seed made good contact with soil and there was ample moisture, and as you can see, it's already germinated.
GRANT: This was obviously raw and rough ground. We haven't added any fertilizer or other amendments. That's why I welcomed the opportunity to test a new product from Trophy Rock. It's called Trophy Rock Grow. It's basically a mineral substance, along with some clay, that has all the 60+ trace minerals Trophy Rock is famous for. Spread it out over the plot.
GRANT: We did some tests. We took one portion of the plot and applied it at the equivalent of 50 pounds per acre. Right next to that, we did another application at the equivalent rate of 100 pounds per acre. When doing such tests, it's very important to have a control. So, we left the rest of the plot untreated. And we'll watch the forage growth and where deer prefer to feed in this plot.
GRANT: We're now in a CWD zone, so we can't simply just place minerals on top of the ground. But it's certainly legal to add trace minerals in an agricultural practice to larger areas. And this has all the benefits I'm looking for.
GRANT: We can improve the soil. The minerals can be taken up by the plants – make plants healthier and more attractive to deer. And deer end up getting the same 60+ trace minerals.
GRANT: I am super excited about this technique and look forward to sharing the results.
GRANT: A couple of extremely important considerations I go through before placing a stand is ensuring that I can approach, hunt, and exit without alerting the deer I'm trying to harvest.
GRANT: Increasing the size of the Prickly Pear food plot is much needed here at The Proving Grounds. But there's more to it than just adding more forage. Of course we want to hunt this area. There's lots of trees around the edge but we need to really think through where we want to place our stands.
GRANT: The wind is rarely out of the east here in the Ozarks, so it makes sense to place some of the stands on the eastern side of plots so we can hunt them more days throughout the season.
GRANT: This plot is right on the spine or top of a ridge. So, if we walk down the top of the ridge to the plot, it's rare that deer will see us. They won't hear us ‘cause we can sneak along an old logging road. And not many deer will smell us because if the wind is out of the south, north, or west, only deer east of the plot have an opportunity to detect our scent.
DANIEL: The test plot for Trophy Rock Grow is actually right beside me. So, the interns and I decided that a Summit tree stand needed to be hung right on this sweet spot.
DANIEL: Even though the sweet spot here at Prickly Pear is right here, we still have to put a little strategy into where we're hanging our tree stand.
DANIEL: I look across the food plot here and there's several trees that are just barefaced. And it could be tempting to hunt on, right on the edge of this food plot. But I'm thinking a deer could step right out, look across the food plot, and spot a hunter very easily.
DANIEL: Because we're right there on the edge.
DANIEL: Even though it's tempting to hang it right on a food plot edge, sometimes we need to back up just a little bit and have great cover.
DANIEL: It will be kinda hard with those limbs. We may have to cut the middle one out.
DANIEL: The red oak that we’ve selected to hang on is like a lot of trees around the edge of this food plot but it's got one thing that the others don't.
DANIEL: It's got a large extension off the back side that we can actually hang on and use this front tree as our cover.
DANIEL: Rarely do we get easterly winds here in the Ozarks. Any chance we can get to enter and exit from the east, we're gonna take it.
DANIEL: East is this way. So on a north, west, northwest, southwest, wind, we can enter from the east without alerting deer.
DANIEL: We're excited about this tree stand location and it's time for the fun to start. The interns are gonna help me get a Summit stand in this tree.
GRANT: Deer eyes were created to detect movement – even small movements. That's a huge part of their predator-defense mechanism. So, it makes sense that deer were created to detect even the slightest movements.
GRANT: The best setups are when there's some cover that you can kinda hide behind to camouflage this movement.
GRANT: Once Daniel had both the hunter and cameraman stand hung, it was time to do some selective trimming.
GRANT: We like using hand snippers where we can or the electric Hooyman saw for larger limbs.
DANIEL: Anything on a north, west, northwest, southwest, wind we can enter, hunt, and exit without alerting deer.
GRANT: Daniel did a great job on this setup and I can't wait to share some hunts from this plot.
DANIEL: Hopefully, we'll kill Swoops out of there.
GRANT: Standing in a food plot we call Wellhouse Field and we’ve filmed here a lot this spring. You may recall we had some test areas about 10 foot by 10 foot where we tried different herbicides or planted and didn't plant. Well, this is that same field. So we’ll go back this spring and look at it now. It's just a sea of high-quality beans.
GRANT: Certainly this field had fed deer throughout the spring and summer. Now we're going in the late summer/fall and still just massive amounts of forage.
GRANT: These are Eagle Seed forage soybeans and they are an indeterminate variety. That means that they keep growing ‘til the first frost where other beans are determinate – and they're made to all ripen all at once at a certain amount of day length. These will continue growing and producing flowers ‘til the first frost.
GRANT: What's so cool about that from a hunter's point of view is not only getting more tonnage but putting new leaves off – you can see it's a light green leaf, super high-quality forage coming off all the time – as the bottom of the plant is maturing.
GRANT: Look at the size of the stalk on this soybean. If you're familiar with soybeans in ag fields, they're normally, you know, pretty small. And this plant is still actively growing. When I shake the dirt off – you can tell we're kinda dry here. Look at the dry dirt falling off. And look at this growth in a dry situation. There are very large nodules all over the bottom of this root system. Just – gosh, too many to count – dozens of nodules, and that's pumping nitrogen into the soil that’ll be perfect for our fall crop.
GRANT: The food plots here at The Proving Grounds are relatively small. This is one of our larger plots. So we plant at a higher density. If we planted this at a normal 50 pounds per acre or so, this would be more filled out. Because we planted more seeds per acre, they're reaching for sunshine and not developing quite as many lateral limbs as you'd find if we planted at a lower density.
GRANT: I want these plants to produce pods. That's a critical part of our food management for late season. But I also want some green growing in here. But it's so thick there's no sunshine reaching the soil and if we broadcast in here, well, whatever we broadcast wouldn't germinate until too late to make a crop.
GRANT: That's why today I'm gonna share with you a technique we use that's kinda controversial.
GRANT: We've got, obviously, more food than we need now. I want the beans to make some pods for late season, but I want my fall crop coming in not only to feed deer – but to continue conditioning the soil after these plants die through the cold weather.
GRANT: We accomplish that in bean fields like this by drilling right through the crop. That's right. We're gonna plant right through here. And that'll probably mess up about 50% of the plants. So it will leave 50% standing, making pods, and we'll end up with our Buffalo blend or greens growing up through here. And we'll have pods and greens. That's the ideal fall food plot.
GRANT: When I say greens, I'm not just talking about brassicas. We have eight different cultivars or species in our fall food plot blend. And on warm days, deer like that forage. On cooler days, they want to eat these pods ‘cause these soybeans have high energy in 'em and it helps keep 'em warm.
GRANT: Another advantage to this technique besides having two different sources of food for late winter – greens and energy-rich pods – is that we're not cleaning the table. If we came in here and disced or did something else, we would destroy all this vegetation and the deer probably would want to go the neighboring properties to find some groceries. But when we drill through here, we're gonna leave about 50% or so of these standing – plenty of groceries now and more groceries later.
GRANT: You may recall that we've been experimenting with something we call a Buffalo blend that's not only designed to feed deer but improve the soil. We want to leave a mulch that conserves moisture and prevents weeds from growing. And think about how much is left down here. Look at this. This is the rye straw. Rye is real high in carbon – or any grasses are real high in carbon. This mulch – this soybean mulch – is real high in nitrogen. Put the two together and it's an incredible mix for improving soil quality.
GRANT: And if we had disced this, it would suck all the moisture out of this ground. It would cause rapid evaporation. But because we have this heavy mulch layer, we're probably not losing much soil moisture; the heat is not getting all the way to the ground; and it makes a much better quality seedbed.
GRANT: At first glance, it looks like we're destroying all the beans. But I want to take you to a plot where we used this same technique last week and show you how many of ‘em stand back up.
GRANT: We've moved to another food plot that we drilled through the standing beans last week.
GRANT: This is a smaller food plot, so you can tell the beans have been browsed a little bit harder. And you can see the tractor tires where the weight of the tractor certainly squished the beans down. But where the drill went through, most of the beans have stood back up and are looking good.
GRANT: Even more impressive, when you get close and look in here – there's really good germination of the Buffalo blend right in the standing beans.
GRANT: Using this technique, we still have plenty of food for the deer to eat. We're gonna make a healthy batch of pods for that late season hunting, and in between when these leaves yellow or killed by frost and the pods are really desirable by deer, we'll having the Buffalo blend coming up and providing a high-quality forage. We've never cleaned the table. Deer have a reason to come here day after day after day.
GRANT: Using this technique, we also have a great mulch layer down here. We're dry right now but we're preserving or protecting the moisture in the soil.
GRANT: It's a simple and very beneficial crop rotation. Beans in the summer. We all know deer do great on soybeans and are easy to grow. The fall crop not only is good food for deer but improves the soil also. By using this rotation, we're feeding wildlife throughout the year and improving soil throughout the year.
GRANT: With most of our plots planted, we’re ready for opening day but that doesn't occur for a couple weeks and I'm ready to hunt. So, we're heading to Kentucky where season starts a couple of weeks earlier and sharing a hunt with my good friend, Mr. Terry Hamby.
GRANT: Kentucky is known to have an early bow season opener. A lot of guys head there hoping to tag a velvet buck. That may not be the case this year because here at The Proving Grounds we're already seeing bucks that are fully shed.
GRANT: Velvet, hard-antlered buck, big ‘ole nanny doe, my freezer is getting a little low, and Miss Tracy is ready for me to go hunting.
GRANT: If you want to see how our hunts are going and don't want to wait for the next episode, check us out on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
GRANT: Whether season is open or not where you hunt, take time every day to enjoy Creation. But most importantly, slow down, find a quiet place and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.