Grant's Blog

Thoughts from the field

Winter Preparations For Spring Turkey Hunting

The GrowingDeer Team is excited because we are blessed to begin our turkey season March 7th. Flatwood Natives has graciously invited us to kick off our season chasing birds with them in Florida. As the first hunt approaches, we are not only preparing for Florida, we are also preparing for Missouri’s opener on April 20th. No matter when your season starts, you can start preparing now.

Turkeys in clover

It takes the right combination of habitat, food, and calling for a great hunt.

You may have watched the recent unboxing video of Adam opening our new turkey calls from Hooks Custom Calls. We were excited to find several different diaphragm, slate, and locater calls. We have been using these cold winter days to get to know each call. By practicing our calling now and becoming familiar with our new hunting tools, we will be well prepared for turkey season. As turkey hunters/wildlife managers, we know it takes a great call AND quality habitat to get a long beard within range.

We recently burned several hardwood slopes that have established clover plots on the ridge tops above. We are excited! Burning is a known management tool for turkey, especially in the early spring, and can create great hunting opportunities.

By clearing the forest floor we have improved the property’s nesting habitat. As native forbs and grasses grow over the next few weeks, the burned area will become an ideal place for hens to lay their clutches, or eggs. Insects will also find the tender, new growth. The concentration of insects along with the ease which turkeys can now find them is a great food source. Ideal habitat, with an added source of food, close to a known strutting location can lead to great hunting later this spring.

Turkey season won’t get here soon enough! But we can use this time to improve habitat and practice our calling. If you do, you will be ready when toms leave the roost and hit the ground opening morning.

Managing whitetails with you,

Daniel Mallette

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Dormant Season Prescribed Fires

February can be a very slow time of year for hunters, but not for us! There are plenty of things every wildlife manager can do during this time of year to improve the habitat at their property! One project that we’ve been practicing lately is prescribed fires!

Using prescribed fire as a deer management tool

Always be careful when using prescribed fire because you can cause serious damage to trees.

There are areas on The Proving Grounds that we haven’t been able to successfully burn over the years due to slope, shade, moisture, etc. Typically these areas are on the eastern or northern slopes where during the summer the leaves on the trees shade out the forest floor and the leaves are usually still too damp to burn. During this time of year we can reach low humidity levels; when timed with dry conditions and no leaves on the trees, we can burn areas that haven’t seen fire in several years. Burning areas like these will remove most of the leaf litter and decrease the amount of ticks in this area. This happens when the tick habitat (leaf litter) is removed during the fire.

It’s a great time of year for prescribed fires on your property! Don’t let the dog days of winter get you down, get out and improve your habitat!

Daydreaming of long beards and long spurs,


Warning: This blog contains information about prescribed fire which is a management tool for trained professionals using the appropriate tools for the situation.

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For The Deer Hunter You Love: Grilled, Bacon Wrapped Loin/Back Strap Recipe

Are you looking for a special meal to prepare for your special deer hunter this weekend? Show that hunter some real love with this recipe for grilled bacon wrapped loin. (Some folks would call it “back strap.”)  It’s one that our family saves for those special occasions! So, take a nice, big loin from the freezer, let it thaw overnight, and create this dish your hunter is sure to love!

Bacon Wrapped Venison Loin Back Strap

We make this amazing bacon wrapped venison loin for special occasions.


Bacon Wrapped Venison Loin/Back Strap


  • 1 large venison loin/back strap, butterflied down the middle and seasoned with pepper and garlic salt
  • 1 package of bacon (approx. 2 slices of bacon per 1 ½ inches of loin)
  • Tooth picks
  • 8 oz. bar of cream cheese
  • 4 oz. can of chopped green chilies (or if you like it spicy: 1/3 lb jalapenos cleaned, chopped and diced)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • Heavy duty aluminum foil


Mix together the cream cheese, chili powder and peppers in your mixer.

Roll out aluminum foil and cut an amount that will “wrap” the loin: the length of loin long and about  12 inches wide.  Put the foil on top of a baking sheet then place the loin on top of the foil.

Lay open the seasoned loin/back strap and spread/pack the cream cheese mixture down the length of the loin. Fold the loin back together, then…

Wrap 1 slice of bacon going in one direction and the 2nd piece the other (so there is no back strap showing and the cream cheese does not come out). Stick tooth picks in to hold the bacon on while grilling.

Fold the foil around the loin leaving the top open. Transfer venison package  onto hot charcoal or gas outdoor grill.

Grill until all the bacon is cooked.

Some side dish ideas:

Baked potatoes – use the left over cream cheese and jalapenos on top

Corn on the cob – with pepper cream cheese as a spread

Mashed potatoes – with pepper cream cheese sauce*

*Cream Cheese Sauce: Over low heat combine pepper cream cheese (left over) and sour cream in equal amounts. Salt and pepper to taste with ½ cup cooking wine, simmer. It should be a little thick. This is also a very good sauce to use for the back strap.  If the sauce is too thin use corn starch to thicken, simply follow the directions on box.

My thanks go out to Jessica and Ally Wright for sharing this recipe with me! Like usual, I’ve made some tweaks to fit my family and the way I cook. I hope you and your loved ones enjoy it as much as we do!

Cooking venison for the family,


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Are You Still Thinking About Antlers?

Antlers fascinate us don’t they? We name bucks based on their antler formation. We create stories about fights hit list bucks were in that ended with broken tines. We form connections with individual bucks as we watch their antlers grow over the years and sometimes decline. There’s just something about antlers that draws us to them.

That’s why we love this time of the year. All summer the GrowingDeer Team watched antlers grow on Reconyx cameras, once again meeting old and new deer. And now as daylight hours begin to lengthen and hormone levels drop, the bucks we’ve watched all year begin to shed their antlers.

Tracy and Crystal found the sheds from Split Brow

Tracy and Crystal can’t wait to start hunting sheds.

Over the next few weeks many antlers will be hitting the ground and that means shed hunting! You may have already been out looking for sheds and had great success. Others of you may not have found any yet, but don’t lose heart. If the deer in your area are healthy and have few predators, bucks may hold their antlers longer, many bucks at The Proving Grounds still have their antlers. Just be patient and keep searching.

You can bet the GrowingDeer Team will be pulling on our LaCrosse boots soon and hunting the antlers we’ve watched grow all year. For more information of where and when to look for sheds, check out episodes #123 and #116.

Managing whitetails with you,

Daniel Mallette

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