Tagging Toms! Teens Hunting Turkeys And Habitat Improvement Tips (Episode 386 Transcript)

This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.

GRANT: (Whispering) You just gotta (Inaudible).

RAE: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Shoot (Inaudible).

GRANT: That was awesome, girl.

RAE: That was sweet.

DANIEL: Nice shot, man.

ADAM: Thank you. Oooo.

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GRANT: Tyler and I recently traveled to central Oklahoma to help Jim Fincher create a habitat and a hunting plan for his property. This portion of Oklahoma is mainly oak hickory forest, grassland and cow pasture.

GRANT: There are very few row crops in this area, so whitetails typically consume acorns, native vegetation and any food plots provided by landowners.

GRANT: Soon after we arrived at the property, Jim and his manager had some questions about the Genesis no-till drill. It was easy to explain how to calibrate the drill and change the depth so different seeds can be planted at the appropriate depth for rapid germination.

GRANT: Well, I’m working today just about an hour and a half southwest of Tulsa, Oklahoma with Jim Fincher. Jim, thanks for having us down.

JIM: My pleasure.

GRANT: And we’re touring the property and it’s a lot of oak hickory forest in this part of the world, but we stumbled on an old native grass pasture. We’ve got some big bluestem right here and there’s lots of different grasses and forbs in the area. But, a lot of hardwood saplings come in there, so I’ve advised Jim to go ahead and mow it this year before we’re in turkey or nesting season and get this set back, so we don’t lose it.

GRANT: And then, we’re gonna let this grow up for bedding and cover. And more interior of the property, we’re gonna convert it to a food source or a food plot. So, just early in the tour today, but one gem we found – kind of a diamond in the rough – is an old pasture. Jim, I think you said the original landowner – the landowner you purchased it from – used to mow this for hay.

JIM: Yes.

GRANT: And, obviously, he had native grasses in here.

JIM: Yup.

GRANT: So, we’re gonna stimulate those native grasses. Hopefully, some day, get fire back in here. That will really help set back some of these hardwoods that are rea– really young in here. But for this year, we’re a little late. It’s too green to get a fire in here. I want to mow everything. Still plenty of time to grow up here closer to the border and get bedding and nesting cover. And a screen for the neighbors – to be realistic. More interior for the food plot.

GRANT: Whenever I’m assisting a landowner, I can't wait to get out and start touring the property and see sign left by the deer. When we started touring Jim’s property, it became obvious very quickly that deer were browsing on several low quality forage species.

GRANT: We’re still working Mr. Fincher’s property in Oklahoma, but it’s a neat comparison to where we were just in in Illinois. You know, rich black soil, crops everywhere but in the winter it was kind of a biological desert. And up on Gregg’s property, well all the multiflora rose had been browsed. We showed you some, but, I mean, thousands of multiflora rose bushes in this timber and they're all browsed heavily.

GRANT: There’s a little bit of old browse on this, but hundreds of fresh growth on here. We didn’t see any fresh growth in Illinois. Just a difference. ‘Cause on this property, there’s tons of fairly low-quality native browse. This is lower down the list. This is way lower than the forbs and even some of the young grasses growing in these areas.

GRANT: So, as a comparison – here we’ve got tons and tons of medium and low-quality forage. Multiflora rose is so far down the list, they're not even touching it. Where we were in Illinois they were browsing it down to quarter inch stems – everything on here.

GRANT: On Jim’s property, it was becoming obvious we could lay out some more acres of quality food plots, but still, there was more food available at this time of year compared to the ag country where we worked the previous week.

GRANT: This is a great tip for deer hunters throughout the whitetails’ range. I like to monitor the amount of quality food during the two stress periods – late summer and late winter. Now, in ag country, there’s almost always plenty of food during late summer, unless there’s a horrible drought. But in late winter, well, deer in ag country can really suffer.

GRANT: In areas of timberland and grasslands, there’s usually enough low quality browse to keep deer cruising through the winter and then able to gain when the spring flush occurs.

GRANT: We shared with Jim our rotation of Eagle Seed forage soybeans during the summer – which he’s already using, but on a smaller scale. And over seeding and drilling through them during August, or about 45-60 days before the first frost with the Broadside Blend.

GRANT: And this results standing grain – the grain of soybeans that carry deer through the winter – and greens. That way, whether the temperatures are cold or warm, you have an attraction for deer in that food plot. This makes it much easier to pattern deer and provide quality food for deer throughout the year.

GRANT: We enjoyed assisting Jim with the habitat and hunting plan and we’re off this week to Louisiana. We’ll keep you posted on what we find when we tour that habitat.

GRANT: Rae, look at that! Turkey hunter Rae!

GRANT: Rae is always eager to go hunting and I love turkey season. But I gotta tell you, I approached this year with a different set of emotions. This is my last year my youngest daughter, Rae, will be eligible for Missouri’s youth season. And it’s just another indicator that my kids are maturing. I’m sure most dads out there that have teenage kids understand the emotions of knowing there’s not much time before these fledglings leave the nest.

GRANT: Our Reconyx videos and pictures showed a great pattern of longbeards using the small food plot on top of a ridge we call Boomerang North. This is where a power line crosses the ridge and we had it planted with Eagle Seed's clover blend and then last August we over seeded it with their Monster Wheat. Turkeys love that combo of clover and wheat.

RAE: (Whispering) Okay.

GRANT: (Whispering) Yup.

RAE: (Whispering) Ready?

GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible) You nailed him. You nailed him.

GRANT: Rae tagged a nice tom in this food plot last year. So with all this scouting information, we didn’t waste any time putting together a new Redneck ghille blind and putting it right on the edge of that food plot and preparing for opening day.

GRANT: Well before daylight Saturday morning, Clay, Rae and I headed up to Boomerang North and settled in to the new Redneck blinds.

GRANT: While we were still getting settled in, a little light started coming over the ridge and it wasn’t long until we heard the first turkeys gobble in the distance.

GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible)

GRANT: Finally, we heard a gobble that we thought was about 200 yards from the blind. It was due east of us and a perfect position for us to call him in to our location.

RAE: (Whispering) It’s the first day of youth season and we are out here this morning. It’s wonderful weather and we’ve heard a bunch of turkeys gobbling. So, hopefully, they’ll gobble a little closer and come on in.

GRANT: Clay was just finishing filming Rae’s first interview of the morning and I was still getting the calls out of my turkey vest when Clay said, “There he is.”

CLAY: (Whispering)) There he is – right here.

GRANT: (Whispering) You see him?

CLAY: (Whispering) Yeah. Right there in the road.

GRANT: (Whispering) Oh, he’s coming down the road. Just (Inaudible).

GRANT: Rae still had her face mask down from doing the interview and Clay was, obviously, not pointed in the right direction. So we were all scrambling to get on the turkey and get ready ‘cause he was closing the distance fairly fast.

GRANT: We were saved by a rabbit. A rabbit came out in the road and it was obvious the gobbler saw the rabbit and even seemed to gobble at him, look at him a little bit and gave us time to get situated.

GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible) You're gonna be fine. (Inaudible) Slow, slow, slow. Everything slow. When he gobbles, take the safety off.

GRANT: It appeared he was very interested in the Montana Decoys Clay and I had put about 20 yards in front of the blind. But as he was closing the distance, I could tell Rae was very eager to take the shot.

RAE: (Whispering) Don’t shoot or shoot?

CLAY: (Whispering) Don’t shoot yet. Let’s see what he does. He, he may kind of come in.

GRANT: (Whispering) He’s gonna strut here.

CLAY: He’s just gonna strut around.

GRANT: Rae was following the turkey with the iSCOPE so I could sit back and see exactly where her crosshairs were. And I could tell she was centering on that turkey’s eye a lot of the time.

GRANT: (Whispering) He’s (Inaudible). See him (Inaudible) strut around? When he gets to where he can't go any farther, I’m gonna let you shoot him.

GRANT: I didn’t have the heart to tell Rae to hold off any longer. So, I clucked on the Redeemer a couple of times and wouldn’t you know it? That tom stopped right behind the utilization cage.

RAE: (Whispering) He’s right by the cage. I can't shoot.

GRANT: (Whispering) When he steps out from behind the cage.

RAE: (Whispering) I – well, then I need him to stop.

GRANT: (Whispering) He’s, he’s gonna come.

RAE: (Whispering) Here you go.

GRANT: I guess you did that.

RAE: Sweet.

GRANT: Awesome, Rae.

RAE: Yeah.

GRANT: That’s a big tom, too.

GRANT: Oh yeah. Minimal floppage.

CLAY: He didn’t; he didn’t flop at all.

GRANT: No. You hammered him.

CLAY: He, he dropped.

GRANT: 50 – prob – we’ll get the rangefinder out. Probably 50 yards. That thing was – you smoked him, Rae.

RAE: Trap shooting.

GRANT: And you got to watch it, like, live on video.

RAE: I know it. I know it.

GRANT: You like that or not?

RAE: I like it. I mean – I guess it killed it. So.

GRANT: Well, yeah. It definitely killed it, Rae.

RAE: As long as it does the job.

GRANT: Oh, Rae’s got his eyeball right in the center right there. Rae is wanting to smoke that thing right there.

RAE: I was (Inaudible).

GRANT: Oh, I can't shoot him – I can kill him.

GRANT: The iSCOPE proved to be a fabulous way to video hunt – even for folks that aren’t using a big video camera like we do.

RAE: And that’s when I started freaking out.

GRANT: And it stops him right behind the cage.

RAE: Yeah, dad.

GRANT: Smart phones have great video cameras anymore. So, with the simple, inexpensive addition of the iSCOPE, you can film and catch the audio of your hunts and share ‘em either on social media or in person with your friends.

RAE: Yeah.

GRANT: Oh, Rae. He took a load of number fours. I mean, man, oh, man. That thing wasn’t going anywhere. Holy mackerel!!

GRANT: We took plenty of time to enjoy the moment and my oldest daughter, Raleigh, come up to take some great pictures.

UNKNOWN: (Inaudible)

GRANT: That thing’s well over 20.

GRANT: The tom had about a 10 inch beard and its spurs were just less than an inch long and it was clear they’d been chipped off on these Ozark rocks. But, most impressively, he weighed 24 pounds. That’s a whopper for mountain country.

GRANT: You may recall a couple of weeks ago, my good friend, James Harrison gave us a tip that scouting is just as important as practicing with your calls. And I think this hunt proves this point. We’d been out listening and checking our Reconyx cameras and we all were confident that Rae would have a chance at a gobbler at this location.

GRANT: The morning before youth season Daniel had been out listening for toms. And he heard several of ‘em gobbling near a small food plot we call Prickly Pear.

DANIEL: This morning at The Proving Grounds, the birds are fired up. This should be a good opening weekend for youth season this weekend. Hopefully, with some birds on the ground.

GRANT: Based on Reconyx pictures in the area and Daniel’s scouting information, he decided to take Adam there opening morning of youth season.

GRANT: Daniel and the Andrews boys watched a beautiful sunrise but they didn’t hear a tom.

ADAM: (Whispering) We haven’t heard any gobbles yet. But, they say that they're here. So, we’re just gonna wait and Rae has already killed one. We just got a text saying that she’s already got one.

ANDY: (Whispering) Hey, Adam.

ADAM: (Whispering) Sir?

ANDY: (Whispering) I want to make sure you know this is what we’re after.

ADAM: (Whispering) Yes, I know.

ANDY: (Whispering) Rae, Rae has already gotten hers.

ADAM: (Whispering) Yes, sir.

ANDY: (Whispering) So, this is what we’re after. Okay?

ADAM: (Whispering) Yes.

GRANT: I text Andy that Rae had got a bird and we’d heard other gobblers in the area, so they decided to grab some lunch and then hunt in our area that afternoon.

GRANT: Rae and I had hunted near the end of a long ridge we call Boomerang and, typically, birds drop off the ridge and down into the bottoms during the afternoon.

GRANT: We had recently placed a Redneck soft side blind in a small hidey hole food plot on the edge of larger Crabapple Field. And Daniel decided that would be a great place to capture those birds coming off Boomerang Ridge.

GRANT: As they were walking in, Daniel spotted a tom out in Crabapple Field.

GRANT: In the area they were walking in, a couple of ridges come down. So, they wisely decided to back up just a little bit; cross the creek; go over the tail end of one ridge; come down to the Rifle Range food plot, which is right next to Crabapple Field.

ADAM: (Whispering) Daniel saw a gobbler in the field and so we snuck by that field and we came to this one and we set up the decoys. We’re gonna, he’s gonna start calling and then we’re gonna wait on ‘em to come.

GRANT: Daniel told me later he was a little worried about calling the tom downhill. That’s just something we usually don’t like to do. We like to be above ‘em. But he felt confident that was a better option than trying to sneak to the edge of the field where the tom already was. And with the aid of two MISS PURR-FECT decoys, he thought he could entice that tom to come out to Rifle Range plot.

GRANT: Just after they got set up on the edge of Rifle Range Field, Daniel hit the Redeemer call, and the tom fired off immediately.

DANIEL: (Whispering) Right behind the cedars. See him?

ADAM: (Whispering) I do not.

DANIEL: (Whispering) He’s coming.

ADAM: (Whispering) Okay.

DANIEL: (Whispering) (Inaudible)

ADAM: (Whispering) I do. I do.

DANIEL: (Whispering) (Inaudible)

GRANT: This would be Adam’s first longbeard. So, I’m sure Daniel had a little bit of a difficult time holding him off because the tom was in range as soon as he came into the narrow food plot.

ADAM: (Whispering) Can I shoot?

DANIEL: (Whispering) Not yet.

GRANT: But I’m sure Daniel and the boys enjoyed watching the show as the tom came out into the field and did a little strut.

GRANT: After awhile, Daniel gave Adam the “okay” and as they say, the rest is history.

DANIEL: (Whispering) Take him.

DANIEL: You the man.

ADAM: That’s so good.

DANIEL: Nice shot, man.

ADAM: Thank you.

DANIEL: That was awesome.

ADAM: Oooooo,

DANIEL: You shakin’?

ADAM: Yes, sir.

DANIEL: Oh, man. That’s a good bird.

UNKNOWN: That is a big bird.

DANIEL: And you smoked him.

ADAM: Daniel said, “I see him. There he is.” And he was up in there and he walked out right there and he came over right here and, uh, he was strutting and drumming and then he said that I could shoot him. I did.

DANIEL: You smoked him, man.

ADAM: Yes, sir.

DANIEL: That’s what? You say your first longbeard?

ADAM: Yes, sir. I killed a jake a couple of years ago – had a beard about that big. This is the first longbeard. This is so cool.

DANIEL: Oh yeah. That’s a good bird.

ADAM: How much do you think he weighs?

DANIEL: 23.

RALEIGH: There you go. That looks good.

UNKNOWN: Yes. (Inaudible)

GRANT: What a great hunt. A little suspense because in the morning they didn’t hear any toms in their first set up. And after lunch, they spotted one coming in – but instead of just sitting down and calling, they had to stalk around a ridge, cross a creek, get set up and then watch him come through the timber and, finally, enter the field.

GRANT: Congratulations, Adam. The GrowingDeer Team certainly enjoyed hunting with you and your family.

ANDY: That’s a great beard, isn't it?

ADAM: Hmm. Hmm.

GRANT: Jessica and the rest of us were heading to film the summary of this week’s episode and we noticed – and we’ve been noticing for a week or so – a big difference between where Russell, my buddy that helps us create food plots, had just cleared off an expansion to this food plot, Big Cave, and where our winter crop is still growing.

GRANT: Jessica and I were discussing why. And Jessica, it’s obvious that the crop here is sheering off the wind above the ground and shading the soil some. So that means there’s less moisture evaporating out here and you can tell this dirt is darker and more moisture content than just 20 feet away, where there’s nothing protecting it.

JESSICA: Well, on top of that, it’s pretty obvious there’s more life in this soil. I just turned over a couple rocks, found some earthworms. And back there is practically a desert.

GRANT: Yeah, you know, those earthworms are critical for developing soil structure; they make tunnels so rain goes in instead of running across. I’m sure that’s pretty hard packed right now.

GRANT: And they also – their, their feces or their poop – called vermiculture is tremendous fertilizer for this field. So, they feed on parts of the plants and plant roots and what-not. Especially when we crimp this and that vegetation decaying – that’s great worm food and worm bedding – or worm protection. So, no doubt, this is full of life and holding more moisture and doing everything we want to do to feed deer. And that, well, that’s a diamond in the rough. We haven’t planted it yet.

JESSICA: Yep. I guess I better put him back.

GRANT: I guess you better put him back so he can help us. It’s amazing that worms help you make bigger antlers, but that’s absolutely the case.

GRANT: This is a great illustration of the soil conservation caused by no tilling into a duff from the previous crop versus tilling and allowing all the moisture to evaporate. Soil moisture is often the most limiting factor in growing quality forage. And here’s an obvious example of the advantages of not tilling or leaving soil bare.

GRANT: It’s kind of a sad week here at The Proving Grounds ‘cause it’s Jessica’s last week with us. She’s accepted a job with the National Park Service. And that’s our goal with interns. We want to bring ’em in, give them some field experience on top of academic experience. Let them get their hands dirty and see some of these principles they’ve learned in school in action and help them prepare for a job.

GRANT: Now, Jessica didn’t need much help preparing. She had great grades and a lot of experience coming to us and there was no doubt I was gonna lose Jessica early to a good job.

GRANT: I have already accepted my quota of interns for the summer but we’re opening up a new intern position. If you're really good with DSLR and cameras and pictures and editing, you might want to apply at info@GrowingDeer.com.

GRANT: For years, I’ve had a lot of requests: “Hey, Grant, when you gonna have some GrowingDeer hats?” We’re not in the hat business. But our good friends at Drake clothing are. They made us some cool hats and we want to make ‘em available to everyone. Got the GrowingDeer on the front and the Drake Non-Typical on the side and most important – got “Enjoy Creation” right on the back.

GRANT: If you’d like a GrowingDeer hat or two, simply go to Drake’s website and search for GrowingDeer.

GRANT: Spring is a great time of year to get outside and enjoy Creation. But every day, it’s important to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.