Food Plots and Habitat Management: QDMA Field Tour (Episode 78 Transcript)
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GRANT: Monday, May 16th, we’ve had another great week, here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: In the midst of all this planting and everything else, QDMA was gracious enough to hold a deer steward course here in Branson.
GRANT: The pod on soybeans is really high in digestible fiber. And it adds about a third to the weight, so a bushel, now, instead of being 60 pounds, is 80 pounds, because that really good quality fiber. And deer need a lot of fiber. Otherwise, beans, really here for us, work as about a 10 to 11 month crop. They eat the green forage during the growing season; they eat the bean pods all winter. Every single turkey we killed here on this property this spring, Brad and I have looked in the crop and they’re full of soybean pods. That was the majority of what we found in there. There were a few other weed seeds, but soybean pods. So man, it’s feeding my animals all the way through, until it’s just gone, or that barren time between when we drill and it comes out of the ground and it gets big enough for deer to feed on. And during that window is when – you can’t see through these trees, but there’s a 18 acre, another cedar glade, cut right there. During that window is when our native vegetation is just the strong man out here. It’s at its highest quality nutrition. It’s flushing; it’s got tons and tons more than our deer could possibly eat – you’re seeing driving by. So we’ve got a great 12 month out of the year food system. And for antlers, for deer to express their maximum potential – maximum number of fawns, most milk, biggest antlers – they need maximum food 12 months of the year. You don’t, you don’t want your deer, you know, increasing in weight, or health condition during the spring flush, maybe stabilizing during the summer, and then, coming down in that stress season – January, February, March – losing ground, and then, regaining. That’s what the New Zealander’s taught me. They’re all about growing the biggest antler they can, simply to harvest those antlers for velvet products. They want their deer growing, growing, growing, and at worst, stabilizing, and then, growing on up, not recovering. So that’s what we try to do here at The Proving Grounds.
UNKNOWN: I have a question for you. Why don’t you go with grain sorghum instead of corn?
GRANT: Well, corn’s Roundup ready. I have a big weed problem here. Uh, blackbirds will come through and wear out milo in a small plot. I mean, in two days, grackles and blackbirds can, can clean your plot. And the other thing is is I don’t really like milo. I – we’re gonna plant some milo, this year, just for – to try get – we tried in the past, I’m going to try it again. I keep trying to learn, but milo – deer don’t touch the forage on it at all, unless they’re starving. So it’s taking up real estate for months out of the year and doing you nothing but a little bit of cover, and then, once deer get on milo, or blackbirds, they tend to – unless it’s a 40 acre ag field – they wipe it out real quick. Where corn grows up, makes pretty good cover. On the modern varieties of corn, the ear falls down, the sheath keeps the water off of it, it doesn’t mold, and it will stay good until we destroy it the following spring. Milo’s totally exposed. Now, milo is super attractive to deer, so we’re gonna plant – Brad and I are gonna plant – a little bit in a couple of key places, just trying for an early season bow hunt. It’s not part of our nutritional plan. It’s certainly part of our attractive plan.
GRANT: And the folks from Gallagher got a hold of me and said, “I, you know, we got something to keep deer out.” And I – they told me about it and I said, “I, you know, I got to tell you. I’ve, I’ve been a deer biologist a long time and two feet is not – I can jump it. I don’t think it’s gonna keep a deer out.” But they come down and put one up for free, and right here’s the first one we put up, and I kind of – you know, thinking, “Nah. This, they ain’t – this ain’t no dig here, you know? I’ll prove these folks wrong.” So we put a Reconyx camera at a couple ends of it, and watching ‘em, and we had close to 100% protection. And we’ve never grown beans in here over my boot – ever. This is what we did the first year with the fence.
GRANT: So, we decided, uh, about late season, we’d just open the gate and it don’t take many days, ‘cause deer at my place are used to eating soybeans anyway, for deer to figure out that, “Here’s a hole, and here’s food.” When the food is getting kind of short other places, so little – we talked just about a, a patterning secret. If, if, you don’t have to admit you need it, but if you got kids, or older adults – certainly not you – and you want to get the deer bottlenecked down where you can hit ‘em with a bow, or your kids can shoot ‘em, or something, I’m highly impressed with this little setup here where you can make a little hunting food plot. Save your forage that normally wouldn’t grow, because of all the pressure. They’re coming, they’re bedding right there, coming out. Open that gate up at a time of year that’s appropriate for your hunting. Just open that gate – already have your ground blind, or tree stand in place, and that way, you can get ya a nice little 20 yard shot, or somethin’.
GRANT: We had a great tour with guys, literally, from Texas to Michigan, and most states in between. About 50 guys, plus all my friends at QDMA. And we spent a lot of time looking at food plots, and roads, and the effects of prescribed fire, and timber thinning. I lit this right here as a backing fire going this way, but when we had this 130 acres blackened, we set this over here. Way over there is a head fire and let it rip through it, cause it couldn’t go anywhere. This was all black – no fuel. So that flame hitting that right there was a lot hotter than this backing fire started off here. The backing fire did not suppress the woody vegetation near as well as that major rager coming up this way. And you can’t have a major rager everywhere and stop it right where you want. If we would’ve hit this with a head fire, we’d have burnt that compartment the same day, whether we wanted to or not.
GRANT: During the rut, deer are respirating a lot and they get thirsty – bucks, especially. Mature bucks get thirsty. And if you can get a little water spot right where deer are traveling during the rut, they’ll almost always stop right there. So think about water, in addition to food, as being a great hunting tool. But not just water on your property, water where you want it. And these liners – relatively inexpensive versus all the other work you do to make a pond to hold – great, great tools. Now, if you’re putting your mineral out, everybody wants to put ‘em right here. Well, what’s it gonna do? Leech right into the water. Our mineral is right over there where it’s going around behind a dam. We always put our mineral where it’s not leeching into water; it’s just an important consideration. And I always love these opportunities to not only share information, but to gain information from the instructors and the students who usually are very involved in the management of their property.
BRIAN: …grew up like Grant. My first two years, I didn’t see a deer. In two whole seasons. How many hunters go two seasons without seeing a whitetail, these days? “You know, let’s do it again next year, dad. I’m, I’m excited.”
BRIAN: I think we’re in a different world, so, uh, we’re at some challenging times. You’re gonna have to – and we can’t be as mad at does as we’ve been the last, uh,10 or 20 years. And you know, we – we have been advocates, strong advocates, we’ll continue to be where necessary, uh, for doe harvest, uh, an aggressive doe harvest still in some areas. But I think we’re gonna have to just look at, uh, look at, deer management even more site specific than, than we have in the past. Very, very micro management level, you know, strategies, going forward.
UNKNOWN: One. Two. Three.
GRANT: Although those tours are fun, we’re right back to work. Brad and I went down to one of the corn fields he’d actually planted Tuesday, so going on seven days ago, and dug in the dirt. I love getting dirt under my fingernails. It’s the afternoon of Monday, May 16th, and this corn field has been planted – today’s the seventh day. Now, we’re all very anxious, because last year, and the year before, wireworm totally destroyed our corn crop. We got no germination, cause the worms, literally, ate out the heart, or the germination of the seed, before they had a chance to germinate and sprout. So we’re just checking, and just a little raking through of this particular furrow of where the drill went. I find one here and it’s got just a little sprout coming up. And I found another one here and I can tell it’s solid in the ground, so it’s putting its root down, but it hasn’t made that sprout – what I call the run for the sun – to come up out of ground, photosynthesize to get more energy so it can grow more rapid. So we’re not gonna dig around a lot, but we’re getting corn. We’re very worried, because wireworm – an inch long worm – in the past two years has actually found all our corn kernels and ate the center out, the germination out, and we lost our corn stands. Very irritating, very expensive, and then, it took corn out of our rotation. So we did a lot of research in the off season, and changed insecticides, and actually, put an insecticide applicator on our no-till drill, so instead of just broadcast spraying it, we’re being more conservative and spraying it right in the furrow where the seed is. And we dug several feet down, planted rows, and I’m very pleased that we found corn seed. That’s just a puss of fine seed that’s germinating. And I think in a day or two, we’ll see those seedlings out of the ground, and I’m very excited about that.
GRANT: All right. Another week, this ‘ill be different. Let’s kind of remember where we were, and we may come back here. Hunter, look at that cedar tree.
GRANT: It’s easy to get distracted by softball games, and fishing, and all the other stuff that comes with spring all throughout America. But it’s really important to remember, just like here at The Proving Grounds, that planting, and controlling invasive species, and minerals out, and early camera work, and placing stands so they have time to settle down, are critical to the success we have as hunters this fall. I mean, I’m a manager, not only because I enjoy being out in Creation, but I really enjoy participating in hunting where I have a better than average chance of succeeding, and my children can see deer, and we get to really bring it all full circle.
GRANT: I hope you have some time in your schedule to go to the property where you hunt, whether it’s a friend’s property, or you own it, and participate in this important time of year, so you’ll have a more enjoyable fall, and hopefully, benefit from a healthier deer herd, which results in bigger antlers. Always remember, the big antlers are just a byproduct of healthy does and fawns and an older age class of bucks on your property. Thanks so much for watching GrowingDeer.tv.
GRANT: How many people would like to learn my number one secret about patterning deer? Well, forget that. That ain’t gonna happen.
GRANT: I would share it, if I knew it, but I’m not a very good hunter, so…
GRANT: Okay. (Fades Out)