Turkey Hunting, Double Down! Food Plot Cover Crops (Episode 391 Transcript)

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

GRANT: We’ll celebrate Memorial Day soon and it’s much more than just a holiday weekend. This morning, I visited with Mitchell. He’s from northern Michigan; had some questions about his food plots. And in the conversation, I learned that both he and his father were veterans. It reminded me of the tremendous sacrifice our veterans and their families have paid to keep America free. You know, unquestionably, we’re the greatest nation on the planet and the only reason we are is because of veterans and the sacrifice of their families. Join me this year – take time and thank a veteran. Thank every veteran you see for the freedom we celebrate here in America.

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GRANT: Last week, we shared that Daniel and Clay had success on tagging a big tom right during the last couple days of turkey season here in Missouri. But some other states stay open with turkey season much longer than Missouri. For example, Heath and Lindsey Martin just packed up their rig and headed to Kansas.

HEATH: (Quietly) Well, good morning. We’re back up here in Kansas. It’s like the 5th of May, or something like that, and it’s actually a beautiful morning. It’s been stormy and bad weather and windy for several days. And today’s high pressure, sunshine, and calm, clear, cool. It’s in the 40s, but the turkeys really are not gobbling very much. I’m not sure why. It should be perfect weather.

GRANT: The weather during the first morning of their hunt seemed perfect, but the toms, well, they were silent, and that happens sometimes and no one can explain why.

GRANT: Based on the lack of gobbling that morning, Heath and Lindsey decided to move a Redneck hay bale blind to an area they’d seen lots of turkeys using during the afternoons in the past. This location is just off the break of a hill and out of the wind.

HEATH: (Quietly) The birds have been tight lipped all day. They should’ve gobbled good today, but they didn’t. I’m not sure the reason why, but I guess if I did, I’d be the master turkey hunter. But anyway, we’ve moved a hay bale blind over to this area where we’ve just seen a lot of turkeys in the past just travel through here. They kind of travel through this little corridor right here. We’ve just seen ‘em visually travelling through here when travelling back and forth. Saw ‘em on the property. So we’re actually just gonna sit here this afternoon and see if we can’t see a turkey, and if we have to, call him in. If not, maybe just let him walk right by the blind and get a shot at him, ‘cause they’re not really doing much today, unless they get fired up this evening. They really hadn’t done any, anything to speak of earlier today, so.

GRANT: They weren’t in the blind long when they spotted a couple of hens.

GRANT: They had placed a GoPro perfectly to pick up the action.

GRANT: Heath said the hen spooked a fox squirrel that was barking at ‘em from a distant tree and all that commotion seemed to get everything stirred up.

GRANT: With live decoys and all the natural sounds, Heath decides not to call.

HEATH: (Whispering) Well, we just been here ten minutes and the first hen came by, so maybe we made the right decision.

HEATH: (Whispering) She’s by herself. Maybe we’ll get a gobbler to come strolling through here looking for her here after a while or something.

GRANT: Just a few minutes later, Heath spots some movement and it’s a lone tom coming in silent.

HEATH: (Whispering) You on him?

HEATH: Well, here he is. Finally got my second longbeard of the season here, so I’m tagged out in Kansas.

HEATH: You know today, it should’ve been a perfect day for gobbling, but the birds just were pretty tight lipped; really quiet or weren’t doing much. So, over the years, we’ve seen several turkeys crossing this spot, so just kind of on a hunch, we took a hay bale blind and moved it in here, and you can just kind of see at this pinch point right here. It’s like, “Let’s just sit here and see what happens.” And lo and behold, just in a few minutes, we had a couple of different hens come by, and we probably wasn’t here a half hour and this old longbeard come skulking up through right through this pinch point, like we’ve seen ‘em before – just traveling up and down through here. And he came in here to – I don’t know – 25, 30 yards at the most, and raised his head up in the pretty sunshine. And I figured that’s close enough. So I pulled the trigger and put the hammer down. So, I’m excited. Tagged out in Kansas.

GRANT: Good job, Heath. That was a strategy perfectly executed.

GRANT: The next morning, his wife, Lindsey, is up to bat. And they’re set up very close to some toms they had roosted the evening before.

GRANT: Turns out they were set up a little closer to those toms than they thought and one of ‘em pitches off the roost and flies over their heads.

LINDSEY: (Whispering) Where is he?

GRANT: Lindsey can’t turn far enough to get a shot, so they end up letting that tom walk off.

GRANT: They hear some other gobblers fired up in the distance, so they head down the ridge to try to get in the action.

GRANT: Just as they get to the edge of the timber, Heath spies a fan across the field, so they quickly set down in the shade of a large tree and start to call.

GRANT: Heath makes just a couple calls and that tom is headed right in their direction.

UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Right out in the edge of those woods.

GRANT: Wow! That tom covered some distance.

UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)

LINDSEY: Lo and behold. Even though this bird had a hen with him, Heath was able to call two or three times and he came in on a string straight to us. Worked all the way across this field. Um, we were lucky enough that we were in the shade. He was in the sunlight, so he probably didn’t, couldn’t see us at all. And we had a plan that right when he hit the shade line I was gonna take him. And he hit that shade line and Heath gave me the go ahead and I rolled him.

GRANT: Great shot, Lindsey. I admire your discipline. Passing a difficult shot, continuing hunting and tagging a tom. Congratulations to both Heath and Lindsey on another successful hunt.

GRANT: We enjoyed a lot of great turkey hunts here at The Proving Grounds this year due to great habitat. So naturally, when season ended, we turned our attention to planting summer food plots.

GRANT: As normal, we’ll be planting about 90% of our food plots in the Eagle Seeds forage soybeans. They’ve worked perfectly for us. Drought resistant, produce super high quality forage, and easy to control the weeds. In addition, they pump a huge amount of nitrogen into the ground, because they stay green and productive longer than a normal production bean. That nitrogen is critical for the success of our cool season plots.

GRANT: Some people ask if it’s okay to plant soybeans summer after summer in the same plot. And the answer is – we have plots here where we planted Eagle Seed forage soybeans in the same plot each summer for 14 years in a row. We get away with it because we have a great cover crop, or different crop, in the fall that breaks the rotation.

GRANT: There’s a couple reasons I’ve been planting soybeans for so many years, but a real graphic one is easy to prove to yourself. Simply go to QDMA’s website and search for the Boone & Crockett / Pope & Young record map. Put it on half your screen. Then, go to NRCS’s website and search for a soybean production by county. Put those maps side by side and you’ll see a strong relationship between antler size and soybean production.

GRANT: This is a brand new plot we just had cleared off. It was timber, just like that, a few weeks ago. Timbered off, so it’s packed with dozers and pushing trees and just rock. We haven’t built up any organic matter yet and I’m thrilled that the Genesis is getting seed this far in the ground in this environment.

GRANT: Even though we’ve had a lot of rain – here in the Ozarks, without building that organic matter, it’s just about powder dry. There’s a little bit of moisture down deeper. But on top, it’s already powder dry. Without a no-till drill, we probably wouldn’t have any germination.

GRANT: Russell, one of the contractors we use, came in with a track hoe and removed the trees off of this area. That was just a couple of months ago, so the process of that big track hoe riding around and trees falling, and stacking ‘em up and burning ‘em, and burying the stumps has really compacted this soil. It’s so packed and dry, the only way we’d have success here is using a no-till drill.

GRANT: We don’t want to disc this. It would just turn up more rocks. But by using a no-till drill, it floats over the larger rocks, puts the seed in the other places, gets it down to a little soil moisture. And I assume here in a week or two we’ll have a pretty stand of Eagle Seed beans.

GRANT: You can see a few weeds coming up where this area was just cleared. That’s common. So once these beans get going, because we don’t have a cover crop, it’ll be necessary to use a light herbicide application to take these weeds out. Let the beans grow and this fall, we’ll come in here with a soil building cover crop to add organic matter to this area.

GRANT: It may surprise you that we’re not using any fertilizer in these new plots. We’ll plant soybeans this summer. They’re pretty tolerant of poor soil conditions and they will pump in a lot of nitrogen into the soil.

GRANT: The crops we plant this fall are really good at recycling nutrients. They’ll bring phosphorus and potassium, and other elements up from the deep, die, decompose on top of the surface, and make for better planting next year. A little water, air, and a plant – well, that does wonders for any piece of soil. Given the right crop rotation, we can get away without using any synthetic fertilizer, improve this area, clean some air, purify some water, and feed a bunch of deer at the same time.

GRANT: We’re experimenting with some different combinations of cover crops. We’ve got the rye you see – a little thin here on the edge – and below it, Eagle Seeds clover.

GRANT: This is working out perfect. You can see on this rye, hasn’t formed a seed head yet. Matter of fact, it’s just pollinating, so it’s not ready to crimp yet. If we crimped it at this stage, it would probably stand back up. And you see the blooms are getting pretty big on the clover. About the time these seed heads are mature and this rye would respond well to the Steel Buffalo – or it being crimped – this clover is gonna be browning up, most likely, or at least more susceptible to being damaged by the crimper coming over. We’ll drill the soybeans in it. The clover will bounce back as soon as it rains, and it will actually grow under the beans.

GRANT: So, we’ve got a cover crop keeping the weeds out from the beans. I couldn’t be happier with this situation.

GRANT: Of course, the rye fed the deer when it was immature, and now that it’s bolting, it’s pulling a lot of the nitrogen that the clover and the previous crop of beans had put in the soil. The clover is now filling in between the rye – great food for deer and keeping weeds at bay. So we’re feeding deer and controlling weeds without using any herbicide.

GRANT: But I did get a .7 ‘cause I made a C in tennis. I at least showed up part-time for that class. And I stood there at the mailbox, and I literally said to myself, I said, “You know I could mulch” – my dad built houses. “I can mulch melons, and raise cows, and build houses, which is a fine life.” But I just knew I wanted to work with deer. “Or, I can change my life. I can change the whole – everything I’m doing.” And I did. And I had a great mom and dad. They’re still married. Been married 67 years. Live in Nixa, now.

UNKOWN: Well.

GRANT: And, um, so, never give up on your kids. Never. I don’t care where they go, what they do. Never ever give up on kids. Pray, pray, pray. Never give up on kids.

GRANT: I love learning and sharing information. And recently, I had a chance to share some information with folks right here in my home county at the Taney County Soil and Water District Meeting.

GRANT: If you’re a cow farmer, you’re not really a cow farmer. You’ve been mislead for 70 years. You’re using cows to convert grass into dollars. You’re a grass farmer. Unless you’re a food lot guy. If you’ve got a feed lot – which I’m not aware of many big feed lot operations here – you're a grass farmer.

GRANT: I presented some of these soil improvement techniques and shared results from right here at The Proving Grounds.

GRANT: Cows were never made to digest fescue, folks. Just telling you the truth. I don’t have a dime in the fight. They can gain a whole lot more weight on our native grasses – big bluestem, little bluestem, other stuff. Way more weight. Not uncommon at all for cattle to gain three to four pounds a day on native grasses. You will never get that off fescue. Ever. Can’t do it.

GRANT: If you’d like to see more of that presentation, simply go to GrowingDeer.com and click on the “Clips” tab. One of the best ways to learn is get out and study some natural habitat. But for true wisdom, each day, slow down and take time to be with the Creator and listen to what He’s saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.