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GRANT: January 17th and bow season has officially closed here in Missouri for the year, but we’re not sad because plenty of trapping, predator hunting and management activities to keep us busy until turkey season.
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GRANT: One of the most important things we want to do, especially this year, is our post-season trail camera survey. Now, that’s exactly like the one we do in August. We do trail camera surveys when food is the most limited. So you can put an attraction out like corn or supplemental feed and get the majority of the deer in your area to come to that site. We like a site about every 100 acres or 150 acres, depending on the habitat and the deer density in that area and we’re gonna station our Reconyx cameras at the right distance away – 10, 12, 14 feet, so they’re focused perfectly and we can identify how many bucks, does and fawns are coming to those trail camera stations.
GRANT: January 16th – the day after deer season here in Missouri and it’s wicked cold. I think about 17, 18 here in the bottom this morning. The ground is frozen. Forage is starting to run a little low here at The Proving Grounds and it’s tough conditions for the deer herd.
GRANT: I’m gonna put out a bag of Record Rack Corn. That’s twice clean corn and the reason I like twice cleaned is I don’t want to go to local feed and seed or farmer and pour what we call bin run corn out and have a lot of weed seeds in there. So, I don’t want to introduce foreign weed seeds in my food plot.
GRANT: So my purpose is two-fold here. One: to see which bucks survived the hunting season; our doe to fawn ratio and of course, for Ms. Tracy who loves shed hunting, what percent of the bucks have already shed.
GRANT: I can accomplish the mission of getting deer in front of the Reconyx to do the survey with the Trophy Rock and corn. But the second and even more important mission is increasing the health of my deer herd and that’s really important this year given we had the driest year in 118 years of keeping records; huge drought here in the Midwest, especially here at The Proving Grounds. And also, the largest outbreak of EHD, epizootic hemorrhagic disease, recorded in over 50 years of monitoring that disease. It literally went from north Florida out to Montana – especially bad here in the area in the Midwest around The Proving Grounds. A lot of deer died and are still suffering from the chronic form of EHD.
GRANT: So to improve that nutritional plane and herd health which gives me healthier fawns and more milk and bigger antlers, I’ll mix in about a half a bag of Record Rack's Golden Nuggets with the corn. Now, corn is a great attractant. They’ll start getting used to, or conditioned to, the Golden Nuggets and once we move through that phase and they’re taking that supplemental feed, we’ll keep right on through the year and through the growing season, we’ll move up to even a higher quality feed to get the maximum potential of our deer herd. The station’s complete, but there’s one more task to do.
GRANT: With the establishment of a camera survey station putting the grain on the ground, that’s gonna attract small rodents and, of course, deer which attracts coyotes and bobcats and raccoons and foxes and other predators, so that’s a great trapping area around the perimeter of that trail camera survey station.
GRANT: Now, certainly raccoons will go to that grain, but I’m gonna have cat food or maybe some eggshells out of Ms. Tracy’s kitchen, peanut butter; something more attracting than that grain in my traps and attempt to shortstop those predators from making it to the feeding station, either consuming that feed or harassing the animals I’m trying to benefit.
GRANT: Gonna have to break your stick short so he can’t just reach in there and pull it out.
GRANT: If you’re going to do a camera survey or a supplemental feeding program, I strongly recommend using these Duke live traps. They’re very easy to use; there’s no way a deer or anything is going to get in here and you can shortstop some of these thieves from getting some of the foods you’re putting out for the deer and turkey and remove predators at the same time. Raccoons, just like deer, love edge habitat, so we’re on the edge of a little grown up stream side zone here.
GRANT: I’m sure that raccoon was coming right up through here on his way to the big bait station and we shortstopped him from making it there.
GRANT: Just down the road a bit from where we caught the last raccoon, at another camera survey station. About 13 days or so left in Missouri’s trapping season and that’s about how long we’ll run our camera survey – about two weeks. So, we’ll keep these traps rolling the whole time during the survey, and see what we can come up with.
ADAM: 10 or 11?
GRANT: (Chuckling) I’ll let y'all call it.
ADAM: I’m saying 11.
GRANT: You know, in addition to our supplemental feeding program, we have food plots and I always want to monitor the quality of the forage growing in those food plots. The only true way to do that is pull samples and send it off to a lab to have it analyzed. So, last week, that’s exactly what we did while we were at The Kentucky Proving Grounds. We took samples of the whole soybean just like a deer would eat. That’s the seed, pod and all. And then we took just the seeds out to have that sampled and then just the pods, the hull that’s over the seeds. And then we also sampled some clover that was growing next to a soybean field. So these results are actually what the deer are consuming at that site and this is really valuable data that tells me if I need more fertilizer or what’s going on. Now you may remember, there was also a wicked drought at The Kentucky Proving Grounds last year. But after a couple years of Mr. Hamby, the owner of The Kentucky Proving Grounds, applying Antler Dirt to his food plots, I was stunned at not only the growth, how tall the soybeans grew, but also the quality of forage and grain they produced.
GRANT: The whole soybeans – the seed, the hull, the cover and all came back at a whopping 25.72% crude protein and total digestible nutrients were 68.7%. That’s incredible feed. If you think about that, that’s about as good as it gets.
GRANT: When the guys and I separated out and just took a baggie of the seeds; just a soybean seed or grain and not any of the hull or anything, it was 42.87% crude protein. Extremely high. Now some people say that’s too high, but remember, deer are wild animals and they’re very good at regulating what they take in for their bodies’ needs.
GRANT: Even more surprising is something most researchers don’t do. I separated out just the hulls. The outer lining of the seeds on a soybean. Now if you think about the Midwest; of course, soybeans are harvested pretty early. They’re not left for food plots like at The Kentucky Proving Grounds, but the ground is littered with the hulls of soybeans. They come out of the back of the combine and are put back on the ground, which can be turned into soil for additional fertilizer. I think it would surprise most people to learn that the hull, or the outer covering of the seed, would come out at 10.2% crude protein. That’s really important to remember given that corn usually tests at about 6 or 7% protein. Deer are getting a maintenance diet, barely a maintenance diet, biting the soybean hulls and more important, the fiber that hull is made out of is extremely digestible. In fact, just the fiber come out at 54.69% on those soybean hulls. That’s very good deer food, especially for a field that we assume has been picked clean.
GRANT: It had been fairly warm when we were at The Kentucky Proving Grounds, and they had had some rain so the clover had perked up and reacted to those conditions. We pulled a sample and I was surprised to see that even in the winter, that clover was 30.8% crude protein. Another testimony to using really good quality clover and not just a cheap run-of-the-mill kind and a great fertilizer program. That Antler Dirt had stored the nutrients because it’s an organic, slow release type of nutrient and allowed that clover to perk up in the winter and express its full potential.
GRANT: Given that's basically new growth and new flush of growth, you know it’s going to be highly digestible, very palatable, very little lignen in the cells so most of it can be maintained in the deer and not passed out the digestive tract. And we confirm that by tests and see that it’s 86.12% total digestible nutrients. Very little of that clover is not being used by the deer and that is a great source of protein and fiber during these winter months.
GRANT: If the deer herd at your property is not as productive as you want it to be, one of the first places I look is: the nutrition available for the amount of deer on the property and a great tool to monitor that is do a forage analysis to see what you’re providing on your property.
GRANT: I hope you have some time to get out on your Proving Grounds this week and look around and enjoy Creation and take a moment and let the Creator speak to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.