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Turkey Hunting: Secrets for Successful Food Plots (Episode 389 Transcript)

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

TRACY: Right here. Hunt it up. Hunt.

GRANT: We’ll be celebrating Mother’s Day soon. And every now and then, you’ll see my mom, Mrs. Jean Woods, or my wife, Ms. Tracy, here on GrowingDeer. But you don’t see all the work these ladies do behind the scenes – taking care of me; taking care of Raleigh and Rae, our daughters; and helping me get outside and do the work I do. It’s the women that are behind the scenes that almost make every guy able to do the job he does. So, this year, I want everyone to slow down and really take time to celebrate and appreciate their mom.

GRANT: Moms, have a great Mother’s Day.

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GRANT: Last week, I shared that my dad, Glen Woods, harvested a turkey during opening day of Missouri’s turkey season.

GLEN: I had wonderful hunt. 86 years old. Can't ask for anymore. So, uh, I appreciate everything the gentlemen do for me.

GRANT: My dad loves to hunt and I really enjoy hunting with him. So, he couldn’t wait for the second week of Missouri’s turkey season. In Missouri, hunters are only allowed one turkey during the first week of season. But the first day of the second week of the season, Dad, Clay and I were back out at Prickly Pear food plot where he tagged his first turkey this year.

GLEN: Well, here I am again. Another good turkey hunt. Setting on a fine wheat field hoping for a tom to come by. I sure do hope I see one whether I get it or not.

GRANT: (Whispering) I bet we see one here in a little bit, Dad. It’s just perfect conditions today.

GLEN: I believe it is.

CLAY: (Whispering) A deer just ran across up there.

GRANT: Clay just saw a deer up there.

GRANT: We didn’t hear or see a turkey that morning but we had a great time. And based on the forecast, I thought the next day, Tuesday, would be a good day to take Dad hunting again.

GRANT: There’s rarely much gobbling during the second week of Missouri’s turkey season, especially in the southern portion of the state. That second week tends to occur when the peak of breeding is occurring and most of the toms are with hens and remaining fairly quiet.

GRANT: Even though I didn’t anticipate hearing a lot of gobbling, I was excited to take Dad hunting. We headed to a small food plot we call Big Spring. I chose this plot for several reasons. Last fall, we drilled Eagle Seeds Monster Wheat into some existing clover. Most of the surrounding plots were planted with Broadside and cereal rye. Those plots are much taller and block a turkey’s view.

GRANT: Turkeys like to bug in clover and they want to be in vegetation that is short enough that they can see predators coming, they can see other turkeys and gobblers can strut and be seen.

GRANT: Big Spring food plot is located in a narrow valley. And the adjoining ridges on both sides were areas we used prescribed fire earlier this spring. Those areas are now prime turkey habitat with short, lush vegetation. Lots of insects. Great nesting and feeding areas.

GRANT: So, basically, we set up in a travel corridor between two prime turkey areas. It was a windy day and turkeys often seek a place to get out of the wind. Big Spring food plot provided just a place because the adjoining ridges are very tall and shielded most of the gusts.

GLEN: Wonderful sunshiny day. I’m back down here hunting on the boy’s place and it makes me happy all the way through. I truly love to hunt. At my age, you better take it when you get a chance. I know I’m in good turkey range. I believe we’ll see one pretty soon. I hope to do good if I can.

GRANT: It wasn’t long until we spotted a nice tom working his way down into the food plot. Clearly, he was looking for the source of calls.

GRANT: Despite my best efforts to coax him in range, he crossed the food plot and went out of sight.

GRANT: Only a short time later, a hen entered the plot. She didn’t stick around long, but I knew we were definitely in an area turkeys wanted to be.

GRANT: In Missouri, spring turkey season closes each day at 1:00 p.m. and as the morning progressed, I wasn’t sure Pops was gonna get a shot.

GRANT: About noon, Tyler spotted a red head on the far side of the plot and we quickly realized it was a jake coming our way.

GRANT: I did just a little bit of calling. Clearly, the jake saw the decoys and he was slowly working our way. Pops was eager to pull the trigger, but once again, I had to hold him off and let that turkey close the distance a little bit.

GRANT: (Whispering) When he sticks his head up, Dad. Wait for him to stick his head up.

GLEN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)

GRANT: I’m sure it seemed like a very long time to my dad. But once the turkey got in our effective range, I gave him the green light to take the shot.

GLEN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)

GRANT: You got him.

GRANT: I thought the turkey was going down, but he up and flew just a little bit, so Tyler and I hustled out of the blind and recovered a tom just a few yards in the timber.

GLEN: I was getting a little bit worried about gonna get one. And then all at once, here this one come and I told Grant, “You tell me when to shoot.” Man, for a 87-year-old man, that is high life and good going.

GRANT: Dad, did you keep your gun a little bit further away from you today?

GLEN: I did because I didn’t want that sucker kicking me again today.

GRANT: That may have been why you flopped a little bit. You might have been a little scared of the gun; you might have flopped a little bit. You might have moved a little bit of the last.

GLEN: I probably did. But, that sucker really whopped me the other day.

GRANT: Yeah. Well, that’s okay. Tyler and I were able to get him. No, no worries. He only went about ten yards or so.

GLEN: Yeah. Is, is it all right if I just sleep tomorrow?

GRANT: You can sleep in tomorrow.

GRANT: Congratulations, Pops, on tagging out once again in Missouri.

GRANT: Dad tagging a couple of turkeys this spring was an absolute bonus. The real trophy was spending more time with him in the great outdoors.

GRANT: The GrowingDeer Team has been enjoying a lot of mornings out turkey hunting and so have other hunters throughout the turkeys’ range. Recently, David Harris from Oklahoma shared some very interesting footage with me.

GRANT: Wow. That coyote hammered his decoy. You may recall that just a couple of weeks ago, Brian Hill and Daniel were out hunting turkeys in Kansas and they filmed a large bobcat come check out their Montana Decoy.

GRANT: If you turkey hunt long enough or talk to many turkey hunters, there’s no doubt you’ll see or hear stories of predators coming into the call or charging decoys.

GRANT: There’s no doubt that coyotes and bobcats predate on adult turkeys and that raccoons and other critters raid many, many turkey nests.

GRANT: Fur prices have been very low for many years. There’s just not a lot of trappers removing predators anymore. That’s exactly why I trap every year here at The Proving Grounds.

GRANT: Unfortunately, the trapping season in Missouri only goes from mid-November through January. But lots of scientific research has shown the best way to increase fawn and poult survival is trap just before or during fawning and nesting season.

GRANT: In many areas, working to balance the predator and prey populations can result in many more fawns and poults surviving.

GRANT: We’ve got a great turkey population here at The Proving Grounds after several years of trapping and you can bet we’ll be using our Duke Traps come trapping season this fall.

GRANT: Improving the quality of the forage grown starts by improving the quality of the soil.

GRANT: A lot of moisture in there. No weeds at all.

GRANT: Last week, Daniel and I were turkey hunting. When the birds got quiet, we eased out into a food plot we call Raleigh’s Field.

GRANT: Daniel and I have been out chasing turkeys. We stopped by this plot we call Raleigh’s Field. It’s on the very top of a mountain and the road getting here is so steep, there’s no way to get a fertilizer truck up here. This plot looks great. But considering there’s been no fertilizer added, I think it looks fantastic.

GRANT: Did you know that over every acre of the earth’s surface is more than 70,000,000 pounds of nitrogen? Free nitrogen right there. Given that, why would anyone pay to add nitrogen to the soil? It’s much less expensive to plant forage crops – legumes – plants that take nitrogen out of the air and put it into the soil. Cost of seed is much cheaper than adding synthetic fertilizer and much better for the soil quality, air quality and even water quality.

GRANT: Last summer, I knew I needed to improve the quality of the soil in this plot. So, I planted Sunn Hemp knowing the deer probably wouldn’t browse on it but it’s a crop that pumps a lot of nitrogen into the soil and makes a lot of biomass. Late last summer, we took a roller crimper and terminated the Sunn Hemp. We simply rolled over it, smashing it down to the ground. Of course, the crimper has bars every now and then and that breaks the stock about every six or eight inches.

GRANT: And then we took the Genesis no-till drill and drove the same pattern we did the crimper so the drill is going right in between that crimped down vegetation and placing the seed at the right depth.

GRANT: There was almost no acorns last year and the Broadside is much more palatable than the rye, so deer about wiped out all the Broadside. The rye was browsed pretty low, but once they were greened up this spring, it shot up and made a lot of biomass.

GRANT: The crop we terminated late last summer is still decomposing on the soil. And while it’s decomposing, it’s releasing a lot of nutrients; it’s kept weeds at bay ‘cause it’s like a mulch layer everywhere and it’s holding soil moisture.

GRANT: That’s exactly what happened to the native prairie. It would grow a big diversity of plants. Buffalo would come through or the winter would kill it or something. It would fall down. New plants would grow up while that old crop was decomposing. And that’s how you build soil and add nutrients without paying for herbicide or fertilizer.

GRANT: And we’re gonna repeat the process. We’ll use our roller crimper to terminate our current crops and drill in Eagle Seed soybeans right into the terminated crop. We’re just waiting for the temperatures to warm up and we’ll start that process soon.

GRANT: Daniel and I just pulled up to the old barn where we film the summary, or barnwall, every Monday. And this area is normally where we park and turn around. And right now, there’s at least a three foot deep hole here due to the excessive flooding we had this weekend.

GRANT: The rain topped my rain gauge, so I’m not sure how much we received here, but Russell, the guy that does our dozer work and makes our food plots, lives a few miles away and he recorded 11 inches of rain between Friday and Sunday.

GRANT: There’s a small creek just over here to my left that’s almost always dry. Of course, it runs when it rains a lot and it apparently got way out of its banks, came down through here – removed all this rock and caused this erosion – and as soon as it hit the food plot, there’s no more erosion.

GRANT: The force of the water deposited some gravel out in the food plot but those living plants and their roots down in the soil held the soil in place. There was no sign of topsoil loss out there in the food plot. And that’s exactly one of the reasons why we use a no-till drill and keep living plants, or cover crops / food plots, growing as many months out of the year as possible.

GRANT: Vegetation does a great job of protecting soil.

GRANT: The second observation I want to point out is all the way down – about three feet – well, it’s nothing but gravel. We didn’t put it here. That's just the nature of soils here at The Proving Grounds.

GRANT: We’ve been sharing – and we’ll continue to share – some techniques that are probably new to most food plot farmers. No tilling; minimal soil disturbance; using cover crops throughout the year – cover crops are just food plot crops.

GRANT: We’ve selected species that deer like to eat; that work well in a cover crop environment to protect and improve soil – add nutrients from the air and protect the soil. And imagine, if they do that well here at The Proving Grounds in this rocky soil, imagine the quality deer you can grow where you hunt.

GRANT: Our techniques of minimal or no tillage obviously protected soil. But they do much more. They improve the soil. Stay tuned as we share our techniques – the benefits. And show you not only how to grow better crops, but attract more deer to our food plots.

GRANT: To understand the scale of the flood we just had, my good friend, James Harrison shared this video on his way back from turkey hunting. This river is many, many feet under the bridge normally and now it’s over the bridge and still rising. There was a lot of damage and even some lives lost due to the massive flooding here in the Ozark Mountains and my prayers go out to those families that are suffering a loss during this horrible event.

GRANT: Planting season is here which means it’s time to terminate the fall food plots and get ready to plant some Eagle Seed forage soybeans.

GRANT: I’m always excited about planting season because it not only means we’re gonna provide quality forage for critters but improve the soil health. And remember, big antlers start in the dirt.

GRANT: Hopefully you and your family are well. You're living on high and dry ground and you get a chance to go outside and enjoy Creation. But no matter what your circumstances are, remember every day to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.