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GRANT: Scored on some venison in Kentucky and helped a deer herd by removing a predator here at The Proving Grounds.
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GRANT: Last week we shared with you Heath headed to Kansas and Adam headin’ to Northern Missouri and both of ‘em bringing home some meat for the freezer.
GRANT: After his return, Adam and I were both eager to jump in our Muddy stands overlooking the food plot we call Little Cave.
GRANT: I’m thinking the deer are really gonna want these soybeans. It’s the best source of energy on the farm. But it’s pretty windy for a ridge top. Only, they don’t like being on ridge tops when it’s this windy. Trade off of food – too much wind. Let’s see which side of the scale tips down.
GRANT: Recently, Adam and I removed a portion of the Non-Typical fence protecting some Eagle Seed soybeans in the Little Cave food plot.
GRANT: Just before dark, I caught movement in the timber. Those two deer ended up being fawns and cut right by our stand.
GRANT: A big doe wasn’t far behind and Adam and I sat there puzzled, wondering what had the deer so skittish. It wasn’t long and our questions were answered.
GRANT: Apparently, the female fawn was receptive and five bucks were following her trail.
GRANT: One nice buck definitely grabbed my attention, especially during the late season.
GRANT: As often occurs, this older buck was moving slower than the younger bucks right on the trail and gave Adam and I plenty of time to estimate that he was three years of age.
GRANT: My personal goal is to harvest bucks four years or older. That allows bucks to express about 90% or more of their antler growth potential. It was extremely tempting to reach for the bow given it was that late in the season and the buck was so close. But if you set a goal, stick to it and be willing to reap the rewards.
GRANT: Adam and I were joined by our good friend, Adam Brooke, and we all headed east to Kentucky. The Adams were gonna stay in Kentucky to do some hunting while I went on to Nashville and went to the ATA – the Archery Trade Association – show. While I was inside at the ATA show, the Adams were struggling in brutally cold temperature in Kentucky.
GRANT: Due to the extreme cold, it seemed that deer were moving more in the midday. So the Adams were hunting during the mid-morning; taking a break for a hot lunch, then climbing back in a tree for the rest of the afternoon.
GRANT: Extremely cold conditions can really turn out some great daytime deer activity, because they generate body heat through a metabolism, which means they’ve got to take a lot of calories in. And they prefer to do that during the day when it’s slightly warmer than those wicked cold nights.
GRANT: Sometimes when you're filming and hunting at the same time, it’s tough to get on the same deer at the same time, and they just couldn’t connect to get some footage on that second night.
ADAM BROOKE: (Whispering) It’s our last night here in Kentucky. Adam and I are sitting over a Eagle Seed bean field that has been picked over. It’s just stems, but there’s Eagle Seed Broadside also in those so there’s a lot of deer sign around here, so it’s our last night. Mr. Hamby wants some does taken off this place, so, uh, I like shooting deer, so that’s why we’re here. So, this ought to be a good night. The wind’s finally laid down. Temperatures up about 40 degrees, aside from that, so you can actually kind of stand to be out here. So, it’s kind of nice.
GRANT: It was their last scheduled hunt in Kentucky for the season and they felt a little self-imposed pressure to get something on the ground.
ADAM BROOKE: (Whispering) I hear something.
GRANT: As hours passed, they did what all of us do and soon started debating whether they’d selected the right stand for that hunt or not.
GRANT: During the fading light, a mature doe started working her way towards the stand and moments later, another group of does was working right behind the stand.
GRANT: Noticing that that group of does was closing the distance quicker, Adam decides to switch and try to get on one of the does behind the stand.
GRANT: As they start changing positions to get on the group behind the stand, one of the does has ‘em pegged.
ADAM BROOKE: (Whispering) She’s smoked. Watch her. Yeah.
ADAM BROOKE: Kentucky Proving Grounds doe on the last day of the hunt. We’ve had a good week. A lot of fun. Really impressed with what the the G5 T3 broadhead did to her. And the, and the BloodSport Arrows. Uh, just love bow hunting. This is just the funnest thing there is to do in the world in my opinion. So, but, we’re gonna drag her out of here; hang her up and, and uh, get ready to head back home to Missouri.
GRANT: The Adams had a great hunt in Kentucky right as I was finishing up at the ATA show. So, we were able to pack up and roll back west to Missouri.
GRANT: Clearly the deer population at the Kentucky and Missouri Proving Grounds is healthy and well. It’s providing our families great hunting and plenty of venison. But that’s not the case throughout the whitetails’ range.
GRANT: There’s a lot of talk and TV interviews and magazine articles about substantially reduced harvest in many states during the 2012 season.
GRANT: There’s a lot of variables, including bad weather during season. A massive EHD outbreak during 2012 and a ever increasing predator population.
GRANT: Any way you slice it, there’s more predator pressure on white-tailed deer, especially fawns, than there has been in decades.
GRANT: As a scientist from the old school of conservation, I think a wiser approach is always to accept our role as managers. And sometimes that means protecting predator populations when they're very low as we’ve done in the past and sometimes that means balancing predator and prey populations. In areas where coyotes are over abundant and deer populations are way down, for no matter what reason, it’s time to reduce that coyote population and allow a predator/prey balance that both can come back together.
GRANT: Quick and painless.
GRANT: Expanding legal trapping seasons or maybe allowing coyotes to be harvested during more months of the year in states where have closed seasons, might be a great tool to help in these times when the deer population and other prey species are relatively low.
GRANT: January 10th and a good catch here at The Proving Grounds. This coyote was caught in a set my friend, Clint Cary, made when he was visiting a few days ago. With permission of MODOT, Missouri Department of Transportation, we put a – a road kill carcass right here and some of the skeletons from deer we’ve harvested as a general bait site in the area. Then we move off ten yards or so and make flat sets or dirt hole sets to attract the coyotes in. You don’t want to make your set right next to the carcass pile ‘cause you might catch vultures or raptors or something you don’t want to catch.
GRANT: We’re using a Duke #4 foothold trap. The foothold is designed to catch ‘em right across the pad. So, it’s minimal damage to them but holds ‘em securely.
GRANT: Today I want to take just a second and talk about dispatching the predator. It’s part of what we do. And the most humane way, of course, is dispatching them with a shot to the brain. I simply draw a line between the eyes and the ears and aim right at that cross. I prefer to use the Winchester Subsonic. It’s very quiet so it doesn’t disturb the area and it’s not as strong as a high speed .22 load. Therefore you do minimal pelt damage – usually just making a single entrance hole and no exit hole. Keeps that pelt prime for the fur market. A lot of trappers use a pistol. But I like this single shot rifle. Of course, a longer barrel makes it a lot easier to aim and there’s a lot of safety in a single shot rifle.
GRANT: It’s over that quick. It’s the most humane way to dispatch a predator. Perfect catch right on the pad. That coyote wasn’t goin’ anywhere and a beautiful pelt that will be great for the fur market.
GRANT: I’d like to make it clear that as a biologist, I certainly know it’s most important to focus on good habitat. Without habitat, none of the other work matters. Provide good quality habitat and if the deer herd is still struggling or the turkey population is struggling, consider looking at the predator/prey balance in your area and it might be that those populations need a little help coming back in balance.
GRANT: As you focus on your Proving Grounds and maybe deer populations or predator populations or habitat quality, take time and focus on what’s really important. Be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.