Deer Management: Balancing Predator and Prey (Episode 167 Transcript)
This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: January 25th. Another good week here at The Proving Grounds as we catch another bobcat and I help my friends over at Redneck Blinds design a hunting and management program for their property.
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GRANT: I took just a little bit of time and rode over to Lamar, Missouri, the home of Redneck Blinds. Danny Little and the guys at Redneck Blinds recently purchased 280 acres so they’ll have a place to call their own Proving Grounds for hunting deer and turkey.
GRANT: Well, if you're going to continue harvesting this that's all….
GRANT: I was thrilled when Danny called and asked if I would help set up a habitat management and hunting strategy program for The Redneck Proving Grounds.
DANNY: (Inaudible) about right here. I think…
GRANT: It’s approximately 50/50 timber and crop land with some little dispersed openings and a couple of tools I always like – a gas line right-of-way and a power line right-of-ways. Now right-of-ways are seen as a hamper to some land owners, but they provide openings in the timber for food plots and visual shooting corridors right through potential bedding areas.
BRIAN: (Whispering) There she is.
GRANT: Many of you are already a bit familiar with the property at The Redneck Proving Grounds as Brian went over earlier this year and filmed Jerry taking a great doe and a bobcat on one of these gas line right-of-ways.
GRANT: Do you have pictures of that deer you can email us so we can put that in the episode?
GRANT: As I walked the property, in the back of my mind, I’m always considering food, cover, water. Because that’s the driving force for all of my wildlife and hunting plans. And as we develop this plan and fine-tune it where and what we’re planting, where we gonna thin some trees; maybe do some timber stand improvement and how we’re positioning those Redneck blinds, I’ll keep you all posted so you can use what we’ve learned from that property on your Proving Grounds.
GRANT: Recently, I obtained permission from the Missouri Department of Conservation to salvage road kill deer after a permit from MODOT so I could use that as an attractant for predators.
GRANT: I knew a bobcat was coming, so I placed my traps a little farther out and sure enough the next morning, just out of view of the Reconyx, there was something rattling at the end of one of my Dukes.
GRANT: Yesterday I made this set with a Duke #4 trap and a loud lure; a little bit stronger, had more of a skunk essence. A lot of people can’t imagine predators liking to eat skunks, but they do.
GRANT: You can probably tell from the background, we’re in a bedding area that’s right next to the food plot that the Redneck Blind is overlooking. Turkeys like to nest in this area. It’s okay quail habitat, and of course, does have fawns in this area with the cover right here and the food source just 50 yards away.
GRANT: So, now during this trapping season, we’ve caught one opossum, one raccoon, two bobcats and two coyotes at this set. It’s no wonder I’ve never seen a turkey poult on this part of the farm and very few fawns. With that many predators bouncing around this small area right here, just imagine how difficult it would be for a fawn to be in one place for about two weeks, 14 days or a turkey nest to be in one place for 28 days and then little poults not moving very far for a couple more weeks. In all those weeks, it’s unlikely that a predator won’t stumble on them or smell them and take 'em all out.
GRANT: That is a beautiful spotted belly; that’s what the fur buyers want. The more spots the better. That’s a beautiful male bobcat. Actually, it’s a female. Beautiful female bobcat. One thing I always want to do; especially with a bobcat or coyote, is remove any of the urine out of their bladder, just by squishing right here. You can see the urine coming out, because this is gonna be my trap set again right here and by putting that urine – especially this time of year, 'cause this is bobcat breeding season – on a trap site. Makes a call lure better than anything you can buy.
GRANT: Well, another opossum. He’s showing his teeth really good. If you want to bring the GoPro over here or use the big camera, either one, he’s really showing those teeth.
GRANT: Some people make fun of opossums, but I really respect them as a predator. They have 52 teeth, the most teeth of any mammal in America. But don’t kid yourself. These things are extremely agile and quick when they want to be and they're wicked turkey nest predators.
GRANT: You know, a great thing about these Duke live traps is, I can put them right around my camera survey sites because I know raccoons and opossums are going to come to all this on the ground. Put peanut butter or something a little bit better smelling in the trap and remove these predators from my property. My family consumes a lot eggs, but I save these eggshells to put in traps, because when you're trapping nest predators, obviously eggs are a big attractant; both to visual appeal and the smell.
GRANT: I like to use fish food for bait, especially during the late season because it’s got a lot more odor to it than cat food or dog food and these cold days, you need something to get that odor whiffing around. Instead of just throwing it in the trap, I like to put it in a can to make the predator kind of work for it and make sure they step on the trigger, so they’ll be caught. I like to place my can in the very back of the trap, so they're gonna have to get on that trigger to get to the bait. Make sure the trap is pretty stable because sometimes a raccoon or opossum will crawl on top of it before they go in. You don’t want that door coming down. And we’re good to go check the rest of the traps.
GRANT: As we improve the forage base by planting good quality crops and using organic fertilizer here at The Proving Grounds and all the timber management we do, we can handle more game animals, i.e. a higher population in deer and turkey. But to allow that to happen, I’ve got to get those nestlings, those poults and the fawns to survive. And I need to remove some predators to make that a possibility.
GRANT: The best way to get an accurate estimate of our deer population is a post season camera survey. We will complete the 14-day survey and update you next week on how that’s going. But the early results, i.e. the first camera cards we pulled, are causing me some doubt to the accuracy of this year’s survey due to bucks already shedding their antlers.
GRANT: Another post-season activity that’s super important because it helps keep us safe during the upcoming seasons is take care of our Muddy tree stands.
ADAM: So you wouldn’t leave your bow or any of your other equipment out in the elements 365 days out of the year and you certainly don’t want to do this with the safeline. So we’re going to pull 'em down today, take 'em back and store them in the ScentMaster.
GRANT: We visually inspect each stand and then pull the seats off so they're not out there all summer in the rain and the weather and squirrels potentially eating on them. We also pull down each safeline. Safelines are probably one of the most critical pieces of gear in my hunting arsenal. It keeps me tethered to the tree from the ground to the stand. I’m never free. So if I misstep or something else happens, I’ve got a short little fall of maybe six inches or a foot if I’m using it appropriately, versus hitting the ground and potentially being harmed or paralyzed for life.
TRACY: (To dog) Good girl. Want that antler? Oh, yes….
GRANT: I hope you have some time this week to partake in some post season activities, but most importantly, take a moment to enjoy Creation and listen to what the Creator has to say to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.
GRANT: That is a beautiful spotted belly; that’s what the fur buyers want. The more spots the better.