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Grant's Blog

Thoughts from the field

Antler Growth And The Importance Of Minerals

Intern, Clay O'Dell, is placing Trophy Rock's Four65 in front of a Reconyx camera."

Intern, Clay O’Dell, is placing Trophy Rock’s Four65 in front of a Reconyx camera.

It doesn’t seem possible, but spring has arrived and the yearly cycle of antler growth is continuing. Not long ago it seems like we were chasing whitetails during the winter months, and now we’re discussing velvet growing. Regardless of how quickly it got here, it’s here, and we don’t want to miss this easy opportunity to help benefit our deer herd. One of the quickest and easiest ways to help improve the health of the deer is by providing easy access to minerals.

During this time of year, bucks are preparing for new antler growth while they are still recovering from this past winter. Most of our does are pregnant and will be giving birth over the next couple of months. One important substance that both bucks and does need is mineral, and you can provide this by using Trophy Rocks or their crushed version, Four65. We generally place a Trophy Rock on every 80 to 100 acres on our property ensuring that every deer has access to a mineral supply.

One of the greatest things about using Trophy Rock or Four65 this time of year is deer will be actively using the mineral making this a great place for a trail camera! We first place our Trophy Rocks in high traffic areas where deer were already active. Once we establish the site, we won’t move the rocks, making it a great location for a trail camera year after year!

We love to check our Reconyx cameras during the spring! We’re always looking for those strutting turkeys but also checking up on our deer making sure they’re healthy and happy. If you’re looking for ways to improve the health of your deer herd don’t overlook this easy step.

Daydreaming of whitetails,

Adam

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Trail Cameras For Turkey Scouting

March is a great month for turkey hunters. A lot of hunters in the South are already starting their turkey season while Grant and I, who are located in the Midwest, are using this month to scout. March in the Midwest can mean large flocks of turkeys roosted in close proximity to each other. This also means they can be very vocal while on the limb, but finding where they fly down can be difficult sometimes. Using the same trail camera you use for scouting deer, and turning on the time lapse feature can help you find the fly down area and increase your success rate once season opens.

A large flock of turkeys

We were able to locate this large flock of turkeys using the time lapse feature on our Reconyx trail camera.

Early in the spring, gobblers are grouped up. During this time they are sorting out dominance so don’t expect them all to be roosted in the same spot a month from now, but they will most likely be close. Once you find their roost location, it’s important to try and find where they fly down and spend the early part of the morning. Although their roost site may change, the areas where they strut and feed will likely be visited throughout the spring. This could be a large field, a small opening in the woods, or a hardwood ridge. Finding this location can be pivotal to your success.

We use our Reconyx cameras and the time lapse feature to find the areas the turkeys are most active in. The time lapse feature allows us to monitor entire fields and hone in on their fly down locations. We set our cameras to take a picture every five minutes from sunrise to two or three hours after sunrise. The cameras will also take motion activated pictures or video if the turkeys are close enough to set off the motion sensor. Using trail cameras is a great way to start your spring so you can be more prepared when turkey season gets here!

Daydreaming of long spurs and long beards,

Adam

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Turkey Decoys: When And Where

Using a turkey decoy has become a very popular tactic for turkey hunters. There are many variations to a turkey decoy: strutting tom, half strut tom, jake, strutting jake, alert hen, feeding hen, breeding hen, and a few others. With all of these different styles it usually brings up a set of questions, “Which ones do I use? How do I set them up?” Below are the guidelines I use every spring for my decoy setups.

A turkey decoy brought this tom in

Grant was able to use the Miss Purr-fect to lure in a South Florida tom.

  • Early Season or Pre Breeding – During this phase of the season dominance is the key. If the flock you’re hunting flies off the roost and walks into a field and every tom begins to strut, you’re best option is to challenge him with a strutting tom decoy with a hen decoy or two. They’re sorting out dominance this time of year and he won’t tolerate a new kid on the block, especially one with hens. As season progresses slightly, I will position the strutting decoy closer to a hen decoy, positioning the hen decoy in a breeder pose. If timed right, this approach can be deadly. This is the setup I use closer to peak breeding.
  • Peak Breeding – When I see the toms and hens are starting to break off into smaller groups, I will start using a lone hen decoy. My favorite is the Montana Miss Purr-fect. Gobblers might be tired of fighting other toms during this phase. Using a lone hen will peak his interest and hopefully bring him into range.
  • Post Breeding – This phase can be difficult to hunt sometimes. Hunting pressure can be high and the turkeys have sorted out dominance, finished most of their breeding, and the gobblers are focused on finding the last remaining hens to breed. The tom may have already seen the decoy spread for days and he’s not having any of it. This is where I’ll try and build his confidence and setup with multiple hens. Maybe 2 or 3 and sometimes 4, depending on the location. By using all of these hen decoys sometimes the gobbler can’t take the fact that there is that many hens and no gobbler and he’ll come in to investigate. The great thing about the Montana decoys is you can easily pack 5 hen decoys in your vest without weighting yourself down. During this phase you might need every trick in the bag to be successful.

To learn even more about decoy setup check out this cool turkey decoy setup guide at Montana Decoy.

Daydreaming of long spurs and long beards,

Adam

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Hunting Feral Hogs

Growing up, late January to the middle of March was my least favorite time of year. Deer season was closed, turkey season wouldn’t open for a few months, and it was cold. For a teenage boy who loved to be outdoors, it was a boring time of year. As time has gone on, I’ve discovered new things to help get through this time of the year, and it can be almost as exciting as chasing deer in the fall!

A successful hog hunt in southern Florida

Grant and Adam enjoying a successful hog hunt in southern Florida.

Throughout America there is a growing population of feral hogs. These highly invasive animals are causing much damage. Eating crops/food plots, turning over soil, and even predating on some prey species, these reproductive maniacs are moving in on native wildlife. As wildlife managers it’s important to do our part to help balance all aspects of creation. We talk a lot about balancing buck to doe ratios and balancing predator prey relationships; it’s also important to control invasive species like feral hogs.

Hunting feral hogs is a blast! Feral hogs are very smart and have an incredible sense of smell. Hunting feral hogs will sharpen your hunting skills. Plus, they provide some excellent meat for the table. Hunting is not an effective way to decrease the population. Many landowners will need to resort to trapping, but hunting can remove several animals while you get to enjoy a great hunting experience.

Grant and I have had a lot of fun chasing feral hogs over the last couple of years, but we recently had one of our best hunts in southern Florida! Stay tuned for upcoming episodes of GrowingDeer.tv to watch it all unfold.

Daydreaming of long spurs and long beards,

Adam

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