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Spring Deer Management: Making And Maintaining Food Plots (Episode 280 Transcript)

This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here. 

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GRANT: Spring is a very important time of year for wildlife. It’s when deer build their nutritional foundation for birthing fawns and bucks for producing antlers.

GRANT: A big part of nutrition, for any living organism, is trace minerals.

GRANT: We keep Trophy Rock out year round here at The Proving Grounds, but we double down and make sure there’s plenty available during the spring.

GRANT: I think there’s a lot of misconception about trace minerals. Some people worry about all the phosphorous they can get, or any one mineral, but that’s not the case. All living organisms need a balance of a wide variety of minerals and trace minerals – those they need in a smaller amount. I always go back to an old German scientist called the “Father of Modern Fertilizer” – Liebig. Liebig’s law of the minimum, which basically says it doesn’t matter how many elements or trace minerals you have. If one is missing, the organism can only perform to the height of that one that’s the lowest level. Other words, if you had a cup and you drilled a hole right here, no matter how much water you put in, it’s gonna drain out at that hole, and that’s the lowest level of the missing element. Trophy Rock has more than 60 different trace minerals – more than any natural product I’m aware of. Mined in Utah, it’s certainly an important part of our deer management program.

ADAM: Okay.

GRANT: With the break between the Florida turkey season and time to chase turkeys here in the Midwest, the guys went out and started creating a new hidey hole food plot for deer season this fall.

GRANT: You may recognize the location, cause it’s where we had some great encounters with bucks and does.

GRANT: (Whispering) That was tempting, but if you fall to temptation, you don’t grow a four year old and older bucks.

ADAM: We’re here on the edge of one of our bedding areas. You can see we got a stand in a tree back behind us. We had a lot of great hunts here this past fall. Had a great encounter with a buck we call Gumby, but we’re gonna look to improve this spot just a little bit more.

GRANT: Those deer were passing through as a travel corridor and some were out of range, so the addition of a hidey hole food plot, or an attractive food source, should narrow the width of that travel corridor – put those deer right there at 30 yards, or less.

ADAM: Step number one, for us, is removing these saplings.

GRANT: Hidey hole food plots, by definition, are very small. So we’re doing all this work by hand. Just about every step needed to create a food plot is somewhat weather dependent. And our next step with this food plot will be to kill the fescue that’s in this area. It’s choking out the native vegetation and certainly won’t allow a food plot crop to grow. So it’s necessary to remove it, and we’ll use a generic herbicide,  glyphosate, to take it out of the area and prepare a seed bed, but the air temperature needs to be at least 60 degrees to have an effective kill with glyphosate. Once the temperatures warm up and we kill the fescue, we’ll wait for another step and let the soil temperatures get at least about 60 degrees or so, before we plant our food plot seeds.

ADAM: Pretty good size, now.

ADAM: Gonna be beautiful.

GRANT: It’s the last of March and here it is snowing and sleeting. It’s been a cold winter and the woods have not greened up, yet. When you’re in a hardwood area, you can about bet all the acorns are gone by this time of year. If it wasn’t for food plots, our deer would be very hungry. That’s why when you’re planting a food plot blend, it’s critical to have plants in there that are attractive to deer during the early season, mid-season, and late winter.

GRANT: This was Eagle’s Broadside blend and the deer ate radishes as soon as they came up. Also, had soybeans in there. Then, it went to wheat and brassicas, and back to wheat again. And we can see this young tender wheat coming up, and a lot of the tops are squared off where deer have been tearing ‘em off.

GRANT: Not only has this blend provided great nutrition for deer and other forms of wildlife, it’s helping us build the soil.

GRANT: In addition to providing great forage all the way through the winter and into the early spring, these plants are pulling nutrients up from deep in the soil profile. And once those are dead, or die and decompose on top, it’s like releasing fertilizer for the next crop. I think this has been a very successful food plot. We’ve harvested deer out of here this year. We’re, obviously, still feeding deer and we’re building soil – making better plots for the future.

GRANT: The final plot we checked out showed us a mistake I’d made. This weedy line right here is where we had a Hot Zone electric fence. So, no forage growing and the weeds have come up. We had to keep it clear, so the forage or weeds wouldn’t short out the fence.

GRANT: Right on the far side – normal food plot – looks great, providing food and recycling nutrients. This side is a stand of Eagle Seed beans that were protected by the fence. In this plot, we had planted Eagle Seed beans and protected them with the Hot Zone electric fence and because of that protection the beans had grown so tall and had so much forage that during late fall I didn’t think if we broadcast seed on top those seeds would get enough sunshine to germinate and grow.

GRANT: In hindsight, that was a mistake. We should’ve walked through there with our bag seeders and spread some seed. Because as the leaves fell off late in the fall, or even early this winter, the wheat would’ve come up and provided a ground cover. But without that ground cover crop, two things are happening. Weeds are coming up – you can see all these green coming in here, they’re gonna make a seed base, probably, before it’s warm enough to spray. And the rains hitting the bare dirt, taking the nutrients and trace minerals even deeper in the soil profile. This is a lesson learned. This was a success in a different way in that once we took the fence down, deer poured in here and removed all the pods. They still would’ve done that, and we could’ve had a layer of wheat below it, avoiding the weed competition, if I’d simply broadcast some seed over the top of the forage.

GRANT: The take home message, if you’ve got any standing beans, even though they got leaves into the late fall, go ahead and walk through there and broadcast some seed. That way, come late winter, early spring, you’ll have forage growing and help prevent the weed competition and provide food. Even during these cold days, spring is a great time to get outside and enjoy Creation, but most importantly, take time every day to be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.