This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: AJ and I help a landowner in south Alabama develop a timber and wildlife management plan and Maddox tags his first tom.
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GRANT: Easter is a great time of year for the Woods family and it’s not just because it’s about turkey season. The real reason we’re all excited for Easter is because it’s when we celebrate the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The next time you're out in Creation, slow down and look around and think about the tremendous gift God gave us of His only son as a sacrifice so we could have a relationship with Him. This year, think about the real reason to celebrate Easter.
GRANT: AJ and I are on the road again. This time we’re headed south of Montgomery, Alabama. But it’s not all work on this trip. We’re going to slide a little turkey hunting in in the morning and help our client, who recently purchased a new tract of land, lay out a timber and wildlife management plan.
MARK: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: (Whispering) Did you hear that hen, AJ?
GRANT: Mark and his friends have been in a long-term lease, but recently, had the opportunity to purchase over 800 acres of private land.
GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible) …get, get, get to that point.
GRANT: They were super excited of the change from being under a lease, where they really couldn’t do everything they knew they needed to do, to ownin’ property where we can take care of food plots and even more important, timber management and harvest regulations to set the herd up exactly as they would like it to be.
MARK: From here, around here, set up here.
GRANT: So, we’ve seen these pines.
GRANT: In this little quadrant. You know, we’re starting from scratch, so what I’d like to do is hop in the buggy and see as much as we can. And I understand there’s not a good road structure in this bottom, so let’s take a few jaunts off here and there and, but I want to get a feel for all the different habitat types – especially the pine stands.
GRANT: The property Mark and his crew purchased is about 90% standing timber and maybe five to ten percent openings: roads, ponds, what have you. So just planting a few food plots would be ignoring the bulk of the property. In most of the southern states, and even here in the Ozark Mountains where I live, timber covers most of the area. So, improving the timber is the biggest tool for improving habitat quality and hunting opportunities.
GRANT: A pine forest that’s appropriately managed can be a wonderful wildlife habitat. In fact, when we’re looking at the records from the early explorers, they talk about seeing elk and buffalo and of course, plenty of white-tailed deer and turkey throughout the southeast in an open pine forest. That’s a tree, every now and then, with plenty of sunlight coming down to the forest floor and causing a lot of grass and forbs to grow, tremendous cover and food for wildlife.
GRANT: So we’re in 80 acre block of pines and the first thing I noticed, it’s choked full of sweet gum saplings. These sweet gum saplings will have such a thick canopy; you can tell almost nothing grows beneath them – no cover or no food species. Deer, turkey, quail, don’t eat anything from the sweet gum, so they're taking up a lot of room and rarely make a commercially viable tree. And almost none of the sweet gums are single stemmed. You can tell this one has several stems and a really old scar. I suspect this has been hit with prescribed fire many times in past years, but prescribed fire alone without a herbicide treatment rarely kills sweet gums.
GRANT: Even though the fire was relatively intense in this stand and I can see the scar a foot and a half, two feet tall. Clearly this tree is leafing out. It’s healthy and will produce more sweet gums if not controlled by herbicide.
GRANT: This is a neat pine stand for comparison. A couple of years ago, the land owner allowed the forester to do a small treatment with herbicide to limit the resprouting of hardwood. Without that herbicide – where these pines had been thinned – this would be choked out with sweet gum trees like we’ve seen in the other two stands. Control the hardwoods one time, and for the next 30 or 40 years, prescribed fire will keep this extremely productive – both for wildlife and for growing larger pine trees. Because there aren’t 50 or 500 sweet gums for every ten feet and that canopy is stopping the sunshine from reaching the forest floor, you see all kinds of green, blackberry and annual forbs which is great deer food, turkey food, nesting habitat and fawning cover.
GRANT: By using these more current and progressive tools, sometime including herbicide, we can do a lot of benefit for wildlife and the forest.
GRANT: Mark and his crew call this property “Moss Hammock” and I look forward to going back as we develop the entire property, making a management plan for all the acres, not just the pine stands, and we’ll show you in future episodes, what we’re doing in hardwood stands and, of course, the food plots.
GRANT: This morning we added another blind to our arsenal and it may be one of the more comfortable blinds we have on the property.
GRANT: You want me to stand it up here?
GRANT: It’s a Redneck hay bale blind.
GRANT: One huge advantage of the hay bale blind – well it looks like a big bale of hay. So you can whip it out, and turkeys or deer just think it’s a bale of hay just like they’ve seen probably on a neighboring property or any pasture throughout the whitetails’ range.
GRANT: Just put the Redneck hay bale blind in place. Super easy setup, obviously, and this is perfect for me to take my family hunting. The deer, or turkey, are never gonna know we’re in their world.
GRANT: We’re gonna trim a few limbs out of the way and clear a shooting lane and we’ll be ready for youth season this weekend.
GRANT: Another feature I really like about the hay bale blind is the door goes almost all the way up. So, my 83 year old dad can get in easy, unlike some ground blinds where you’ve got to be a little bit athletic to get in. But the feature I probably like the most about the hay bale blind is that the windows are reversible. They can look just like part of the hay bale or you can turn ‘em around where they're black like the inside. And what I like to do is take the windows that I’m going to have open, reverse them so the black is showing and when I’m not hunting, it looks just the same as when I go hunt and lower the window, two black holes. The animals don’t notice any change between closed up and a couple of hunters inside the blind.
RAE: Back riding?
GRANT: It’s a piggy back turkey. Okay. Take off, girl. You can do it. (Laughter)
GRANT: There’s not many experiences better than sharing success in the field with your son or daughter. This week my friend, Graham Gandee, took his son, Maddox, on his first turkey hunt.
GRANT: With a couple of RedHead decoys set up below, they climb up into a Redneck blind for their first hunt.
GRANT: Wasn’t long until two turkeys come into view. It was a big ole gobbler following a bearded hen. But those birds were still 80 yards out and anything could happen. And this hunt’s going to depend on which way that hen takes the gobbler.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) That hen is gonna bring him right to you, Maddox. That bird in front of it is a gobbler. (Inaudible) All right. Get ready Maddox. Get ready.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) Take a deep breath. Line everything up (inaudible).
GRANT: The bird didn’t go far and look at this special moment between Maddox and his father after he harvested his first tom.
GRANT: Yeah, the footage is a little shaky, but what a great moment between a father and son.
GRAHAM: Can you believe it, buddy? You did this. Maddox, awesome job, man! That’s a huge bird.
GRAHAM: A lot of span there, Maddox.
GRANT: As every father knows, moments like that are some of the best in life. Congratulations to six year old Maddox for tagging a beautiful tom and for Graham for setting an example all of us dads can follow.
GRANT: Hope you have a chance to get outside and take a youngster hunting or work on food plots this week. But more importantly, slow down and enjoy Creation and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.