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What happened to Chainsaw?

Question
Hi Grant! Thank you for all the amazing information about habitat mangement. I was wondering, whatever happened to Chainsaw?

Thanks,
Jordan Steele
Springfield, MO

Jordan,

We didn’t get any pictures of Chainsaw since once season started.  We haven’t found his sheds yet.  No neighbors have reported tagging or seeing Chainsaw.  I hope he shows up next season!

Thanks for watching and enjoy creation!

grant

March 2, 2016

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Does this deer have Chronic Wasting Disease?

Question


Aug 30 at 10:10 PM

Hi Grant,

Hello Grant,
I was hoping to pick you brain. The two attached pictures are the same deer approximately 1 week apart. That was a very big doe. She was even healthier looking three weeks ago. She has been absolutely huge. Now she looks like she’s dying. There is another doe that looks like a walking skeleton. Neither doe has had any fawns. The big doe has not had a fawn in three years. She normally looks like a buck with out the proper equipment. Could this be chronic wasting? Also, three of our largest bucks have disappeared after weekly pictures over the last 8 weeks. I’m getting a bit concerned. Thanks for your input.

Regards,

Pete

Pete,

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) usually takes years before the deer show any signs.  Most of the deer that have tested positive for CWD look normal. 

The symptoms you described sound more like Hemorrhagic Disease (H.D.).  H.D. is a virus that transmitted deer to deer by very small biting flies. Deer that contact the H.D. virus go from looking healthy to dead in a matter of days.  H.D. has been studied for more than 50 years. There is currently no vaccine and epidemics of H.D. have occurred throughout the whitetail’s range.  Deer herd’s always bounce back from H.D.

CWD is 100% fatal and a very serious threat to deer.  You can learn more about CWD at http://www.CWD-info.org.

It the deer are dying from CWD – that’s a major game changer for you and all of your neighbors.  I suggest you contact you local state wildlife biologist if you find any fresh deer carcasses.

Hoping for the best,

grant

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What is the appropriate title for Grant’s profession?

Question
Hello dr. Grant
First I just wanted to say that I love your show, and it is very educational. I want to know what you would exactly call your profession besides wildlife biologist. By that I mean like helping people better their land for deer hunting. My name is Chase and hunting is my passion, I play football at MTSU and its my senior year. That being said I have some professional attention from a few teams. What I want to know is how I could start a career in the kind of things that you are doing. My degree is not in biology, quite honestly I have a useless degree of liberal arts. Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated thank you and God bless you, your family, and your business.
Chase Pennycuff

Chase,

Congratulations on almost completing your degree and having a successful football career!  That’s very exciting!

Some folks call me a consulting wildlife biologist.  It’s really no different than a wildlife biologist.  I research and share my results.  Some wildlife biologists work for government agencies. I work primarily for private landowners, but have worked for corporations and government agencies.  

Thank you for asking God to bless my family!  That’s a huge blessing to me!  

Enjoy creation and listen to where God wishes to use you!  

grant

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What college should I attend to become a wildlife biologist?

Question
Dr. Grant Woods,

I wanted to thank you for your advice on degrees in Wildlife Biology. I have contacted UGa and Mississippi State for information from Dr. Karl Miller and Dr. Steve Demaris. My dad had came across Dr. Moore at abac.edu.

I had a question because Dr. Moore let me know that a two two or two years at ABAC and two years at UGa would be a good option for me since my family is in Thomasville. The degrees are different one is BAS applied science and the other one is a BS, but only UGa has the Wildlife Biologist degree.

My dad says I can save money going to the local school first get the core classes out of the way and then go to UGa and be better prepared from the core applied classes at abac, Dr. Moore indicated it is highly competitive to get into UGa. Can you give any advice?

Second question I am still in high school but I would like to know how to go about coming to field days next year as an intern? I am prepared to work time before and after the event.

Thank you for your time.

Parker Maroney

Parker,

I’ve known several wildlife biologists that went to school for two years at ABAC and finished their wildlife degree at the University of Georgia!  I agree with your father – that’s a fine program!  

Wherever you go take each class seriously and be intentional about your career objectives.  For example, take the written and speaking communication skills classes very seriously. These skills are essential to all professions!  School choice is important, but not as important as each student’s desire to learn and participate in activities that will benefit their career.  

We rarely accept candidates for our intern program unless they are a junior or more advanced in college.  Our internship program is designed to last a college semester.  Most schools give credit for such field experience.  

I hope you will consider doing an internship with us at you progress through a wildlife degree program!

Enjoy creation,

grant

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Where can I hunt near Charleston, South Carolina?

Question
Hey Mr. Grant,
i emailed recently wanting to know if you knew any places to hunt in SC,you said you used to hunt the national forest around Clemson,since i live in Charleston that’s along way for a hunt,any other ideas.Also what kind of broad heads do you have? i’m shooting a diamond infinite edge at 45 lbs as of know i have muzzy,deer season just started here in SC can”t wait to get out!
Sincerely Clayton

Clayton,

There’s 10’s  of 1,000’s of acres of public and just outside Charleston called the Francis Marion National Forest.  Some of my friends used to hunt both deer and turkey there!  That’s one place to start while you are meeting landowners, etc., and looking for other places to hunt!  

Remember to be willing to trade some work for hunting rights!  Many landowners need help planting food plots, etc.!

Enjoy creation!

grant

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How can I get over target panic?

Question
Grant,
I’ve been shooting a bow for a couple years now, and developed what people tell me as target panic; where I can’t hold my pin on target. Do you know how I can treat this? I’m told every bow hunter deals with this at one time or another.

Thanks

Robert,

I’ve experienced a few bouts of target panic.  A good friend of mine taught me an easy (but not quick) cure for target panic.  I’m very confident his cure will work for you if the steps are followed.

1.  Stop shooting at dots, X’s, etc. Stop now!  

2.  Get a good target and backstop and shoot blind bale. Blind bale is shooting with your eyes closed – literally. You are only focused on form. You are not worried about where the arrow hits as long as it’s safe.  To learn more about the blind bale technique watch the episode of GrowingDeer at this link:  https://www.growingdeer.tv/?ep=how-to-get-ready-for-deer-hunting-now

3. Use the blind bale technique daily if you can.  You can use this technique almost anywhere if you have a quality target and use the appropriate safety precautions.

4.  ONLY shoot using the blind bale technique for a minimum of 2 weeks! Don’t shoot using normal practice techniques to see if the target panic is cured.

 5. After a very minimum of two weeks start each practice session by shooting at least 10 shots blind bale. Don’t get lazy and simply start shooting targets.  

6. When you shoot at a target, DON’T SHOOT AT A DOT, X, ETC.!!!! Shoot at a 9″ pie plate, 3D target that doesn’t have dots or circles, etc. Start at 5 yards.

Remember – being accurate at archery is all about good form. Having great from at 5 yards equates to good shots at much  longer distances!

The only tough part about curing target panic is being discipline enough to stick to the above program and don’t cheat or take shortcuts.  You must retrain your brain and muscles to a good technique.  This is used by pro athletes, law enforcement, etc.

I’ve had several bouts of target panic. I’d miss 2′ targets at 10 yards and shake like sapling in a wind storm.  I stuck with the above program and continue it today. I start almost every practice session with blind bale and I’m a very confident shooter now!

Let me know how you are progressing! Stick to this program!  

Enjoy creation,

grant 

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What time of year is most beneficial to remove coyotes?

Question
I just read an article in the July 2015 edition of Bowhunter. It was written by C.J. Winand, titled Coyote Update. I’ve watch most if not all of your videos on your site and have seen the videos about trapping predators to help limit offspring mortality. Most trapping seasons are in the fall, well at least here in Illinois. After reading this article I was curious to hear what you might have to say about their findings. The idea that hunting/trapping coyotes in the Fall don’t seem to have much affect on the heard. Should hunting of coyotes be in the late winter months?? Just found it interesting and after watching you videos you appear to take a very scientific approach to your land and wildlife management.

Thanks,
Michael

I tried to attached a copy of the article.

Michael,

I haven’t read C.J. Winand’s article titled Coyote Update.  

I suspect he’s referencing research that showed coyotes can be very mobile and tend to fill areas/territories that aren’t defended by other coyotes.  One of the grad students I helped advise published the results of removing coyotes just before and during fawning season.  There was an amazing response in fawn survival!  You can read about that work at:  https://getd.libs.uga.edu/pdfs/vangilder_cory_l_200808_ms.pdf

However, in many states, including where I live in Missouri coyote trapping season closes well before fawning season. That doesn’t mean there aren’t benefits to trapping coyotes during the winter.  I’ve trapped at my place for years.  Through the years we’ve noticed an improved fawn survival rate.  It seems trapping during the winter requires many more years to achieve the same results at trapping just prior to or during the fawning season.  

As the State Director of Wildlife in Virginia said recently “…dead coyotes don’t eat deer…”  If the predator/prey population is out of balance where you hunt, I encourage you to remove coyotes whenever you legally can.

Enjoy creation,

grant

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How old is this buck from Sedalia, Missouri?

Question
My Dad and I went out the other night to purchase a trail camera to see what new deer may be on our property. Our property is outside Sedalia, Mo and we knew that there had been big mature deer there in the past. We discovered this deer that is giving us some trouble trying to tell the age. We were wondering if you could help.

Thanks,
Will

Will,

That’s a good looking buck!  It’s tough to accurately estimate the age of deer when part of their body is blocked by plants.  From what I can see it appears his neck merges well above where his chest meets his brisket.  HIs shoulders and hams don’t appear to be fully developed and his facial features are very fine (unscarred).  

These are all indicators the buck is likely 2 or 3 years old.  If he’s a 2 year old the buck has tremendous potential!  Even if he’s 3 years old he’s a great looking buck!  

Enjoy creation,

grant

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What can I train to shoot a bow with a heavier draw weight?

Question
Hi,
I am a 13 year old beggining bow hunter, and I was wondering if you have any exercise you could give me to get stronger so that I can to pull my bow back with out as much effort, because right now I’m having trouble keeping my bow steady before I shoot.
Thanks,
Jeremy

Jeremy,

I’m glad you are a fellow bowhunter!  I’m not a fitness expert.  I’ve read and believe that the best training for shooting a bow is to shoot a bow.  Shooting exercises the exact muscles used for this activity.  I suggest you back off the weight of your bow so you can shoot it comfortably.  This will allow you to shoot more accurately than while straining.  

Shooting a bow that is set to heavy will cause you to develop an improper shooting form.  By shooting an appropriate weight bow you will be more accurate and accuracy is way more important than arrow speed.  As you practice you’ll gain strength through repetition! 

Practicing should be fun and rewarding and this will happen if you shoot with a bow that’s the right weight and draw length.

Enjoy creation,

grant

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Should I use a cover crop when planting clover?

Question
I’m getting ready to plant some very small deer food plots in the woods and open field edges. I have heard you say that low growing clovers generate faster in high traffic areas. What type of clover is low growing and would you mix other things with it or would you sow it solo?

Thanks,
Tim

 

Tim,

I strongly prefer using wheat as a cover crop when I establish clover during the fall.  The wheat will usually germinate quickly and provide forage while the clover is still very small. In addition, the wheat will protect the young clover from hard rains, harsh sun during dry conditions, etc.

The following spring the wheat will serve to outcompete most weeds. In addition, when the wheat matures deer and turkeys will benefit and be very attracted to the wheat grain!

Once the grain is consumed the wheat straw will decompose and serve as organic matter and fertilize for the clover.

I’ve had much success using the Monster wheat variety from http://www.EagleSeed.com.

I like a short growing clover.  I avoid most ladino varieties.  I’m experimenting with some newer varieties now and will keep you posted how they perform.

Enjoy creation!

grant

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How much Roundup should be used to treat food plots?

Question
I’m not a farmer and I get very confused on how to read and figure out the proper mixture of roundup to water to kill weeds and grasses before I plant. Any guidance would be appreciated.

David,

I agree!  Herbicide labels can be confusing due to all the legalize.

The active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate and it’s one of the safest herbicides used today.  Unless there are weeds that are resistant to glyphosate most farmers use 2 quarts of Roundup per 20-25 gallons of water per acre.  

There are many variables such as the hardness of the water, the droplet size produced by the sprayer’s nozzles, etc. However, 2 quarts of Roundup mixed with 20-25 gallons of water is a very generic and successful recipe.  

Enjoy creation!

grant

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Will fawns survive if the doe is harvested?

Question
Mr. Grant,
I see does and fawns all the time while hunting, but it always seems the mature does have fawns. And I always end up talking myself out of shooting a doe with fawns. Will the fawns be able to survive without a mother? Any other tips on managing the deer herd would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Wheeler Brewster

Wheeler,

Most state agencies don’t allow doe harvest until most fawns are old enough to survive should the doe be removed.  It’s often necessary to remove does to balance the number of deer with the habitat’s potential to produce quality forage in many areas.  This has been a standard practice for decades in most states and the deer herds have thrived!  

If there are more deer than the habitat where you hunt can produce quality forage or if the adult buck:doe ratio is out of balance in favor of does I suggest you tag some does and allow you and your family to enjoy fresh venison while helping the deer herd!

Enjoy creation,

Grant

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Will you share some of recipes and cooking techniques?

Question
Dear Grant,

Have you ever thought of doing some cooking videos?

Thanks,

Derek

Derek,

Mrs. Tracy has agreed to share some of her preparation techniques and recipes!  Keep watching!   

grant

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Will prescribed fire help native grasses become re-established?

Question
We have a big field that we had in CREP, but it may come out because it is starting to be taken over by other herbaceous plants. My dad is talking about farming it when it comes out, but I think it would benefit the wildlife more if we didn’t. I am trying to talk him into a controlled burn that would help bring back the grasses. Could you give me more information about when we would have someone burn it for us and if it would help or not and why.

Logan,

Prescribed fire can be an excellent and relatively inexpensive tool to promote native warm season grasses.  The best results usually occur when prescribed fire is used before the native warm season grasses have started growing during the late spring.  Most other herbaceous and woody plants will have already greened up before the native warm season grasses.  Fire will set back these other species and stimulate the established native warm season grasses and their seeds to grow!  

In areas where ag is the predominate land use, cover can be a limiting factor for wildlife.  Native warm season grasses can provide great cover as well as build huge amounts of organic matter!

Enjoy creation,

grant

 

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What to plant in food plots that are less than an acre?

Question
Grant!

Fellow “Ozarkian” here! haha. I live just south of Branson MO, across the Border in Omaha, Arkansas. So we’re neighbors!
Let me first start off by saying thank you for all your efforts and wonderful information, great videos, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. As nothing is possible without him.
Now, on to my question. I’d like to spice up my small food plots, where each is less than an acre, and I’d like your personal input on what version of seed I should get from Eagle since you know our weather, terrain, and layouts down here in the Ozarks. I’d love to use a “multi” type seed where i had clover, beans, wheat, turnips, so that they come up at different times. That sort of seed that works well with other seeds. And the best time frame to seed it.

Thanks a ton Sir,
God Bless,
Allen

Allen,

I’ve been planting Eagle’s Seed’s (www.EagleSeed.com) forage soybeans in small plots and then over seeding them with Broadside during mid August (when there’s ample soil moisture available.  Eagle’s Wildlife Manager’s blend works great for smaller plots.  This rotation has both attracted deer and built soil!  Deer love the soybeans all summer and the Broadside blend includes radishes, a forage wheat, and two types of brassicas.

Deer prefer the radishes early, the wheat during the mid season, and the brassicas during the late season!

The forage soybeans are Roundup Ready so it’s easy to keep the plots weed-free all summer and the Broadside blend can be seeding into the weed-free beans during the fall. This rotation does a great job of breaking the weed cycle!

Enjoy creation,

grant

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At what age should I “cull” bucks?

Question
Dear Dr. Woods,

Me and some friends were discussing genetics or the lack there of. The questions is at what age do you harvest a genetically inferior buck or a buck that has some sort of antler “problem”? I noticed in one of your episodes that you passed on a buck with an odd rack that looked to be 3 y/o. Do you stick to your guns of only harvesting a 4 y/o and give the inferior gene another year to replicate? or do you harvest the deer at a younger age 2-3 y/o to get him out of the gene pool? Thank you for your time.

Ben

Ben,

Recently we’ve shared footage of a buck we call Chainsaw!  He has very large antlers several kickers.  I confident almost every deer hunter would gladly tag Chainsaw.  I estimate this buck to be 4 years old. We don’t recognize Chainsaw as any of the bucks from our farm last year.  Chainsaw’s range also includes a member of our local deer coop and that landowner doesn’t recognize him either.  I suspect Chainsaw’s antlers are much larger this year than during any previous year.  Had we (or our neighbor) been tagging 3 year old or younger deer Chainsaw may not have survived to express his genetic potential.

I’ve seen this same pattern many times!  Bucks often don’t show their genetic potential until they reach 4 years old or older.  Several spikes that have been tagged or fitted with a radio collar have produced Boone and Crockett level antlers when they matured to 4 years old or older.  

Based on this and several research projects I do recommend passing bucks until the age criteria used where you hunt. It’s almost impossible to determine a buck’s antler production potential at younger ages.  

Remember that does make a huge contribution to antler shape.  The bottom line is that culling bucks without a known pedigree for several generations on both the doe and buck side is useless.  

Enjoy creation,

grant

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What’s a good backstop to place behind a 3D archery target?

Question
Not s tough question. I have been looking for a solid solution to bow practice where I am able to retrieve arrows without damage or difficulty. I noticed you have a large white square backstop behind your 3d deer target. Can you provide me with a little information on the backstop to include what your thoughts are on it with broad heads or target tips? What it is made out of? Possible distributors?

I have my barn behind the 3d target at my home in the event the 3d is missed (don’t want to lose any at the cost of arrows today). You can see my 3d target in the background of the picture I have attached. (No killing at the house. These are off limits! Wife’s rules. 🙂 )

Thank you for your advice and help. Wishing you all a very successful hunting season this year! Thank you for all the videos and educational material you have provide not only me but those whom I have shared your site.

Take care and be safe!
Rich Tanner
Warrenton, Virginia

Richard,

Deer feeding behind houseThe large “white square” is a product from a company that is no longer in business.  It is only to be used with field tips.

I often use large round bales of hay as a backstop behind 3D targets. These are inexpensive work work great!  They will decompose over time and need to be replaced.

Thank you for watching http://www.GrowingDeer.tv and for sharing the link with  your friends!

Enjoy creation!

 

 

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Hatch or Predator Raid?

Question
Grant,
I found this nest site last week at my farm in Dallas County. In your opinion, does this look like a successful hatch or predator raid?

I really enjoy your Growingdeer.tv!

Mark

 

Mark,

Turkey poults usually pip or open one end of the egg shell to get out.Some of the shells appear that a chick was successfully hatched. Othershells have been crunched by a predator, etc. Most predators would destroyall eggs, not just one or two.

I suspect the chicks hatched normally and then a predator found the nextand busted a few shells by stepping on them, etc.

Hopefully the chicks are still alive and growing!!

Enjoy creation,

Grant

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Where can I hunt in South Carolina?

Question
Hey mr. Grant,
im a young hunter in SC, i was just wondering if you knew any spots to hunt here,i know you probably get asked questions like this all the time and you obviously cant give away your best spots,however if you could help that’d be great!
Sincerely Clayton Hock

Clayton,

Tracy (my wife) and I used to live near Abbeville, South Carolina! I did my Ph.D., work in Clemson!  While in school I hunted on the National Forest above Clemson and hunted around Greenwood and Abbeville when Tracy and I lived in that area. I had some great hunts on public land. Not many folks are willing to hike into the National Forest in the Mountains above Clemson. There was rarely much sign of hunters 1/2 mile or more off the road.  

I also enjoyed some good hunts near Abbeville, South Carolina. I often traded helping with some projects for permission to hunt private land.  You might attend some local Quality Deer Management Association meetings and ask landowners there if you could trade helping them for permission to hunt!  Many landowners will trade help with planting food plots, preparing stands, etc ., for access to hunt.  

You can find out where local Quality Deer Management Association branches are meeting at http://www.QDMA.com.  There are QDMA branches throughout South Carolina.

Enjoy creation!

grant

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How long will it take for deer to return to an area after it’s been disturbed?

Question
Grant,

I was receiving several day and night pictures of different deer every day on my cellular trail camera. I did some plowing and planting on the food plot, hung a 55gal free choice corn feeder, and disposed of some old feed oats in the garage around the plot. Since doing so 4 days ago I have not seen a single deer on the camera. I moved the camera only 20yds or so. My fiance and I both used bug spray generously while we were there.

What can I do to bring them back?

I know the camera is functioning properly because I’m receiving raccoon pictures.

Thanks,

Neil

Neil,

Deer don’t like change.  It can take a week or longer for deer to accept significant changes.  The feeders, smell of the oats, removal of vegetation and plowing all were major changes in the area monitored by the camera. I suggest you simply stay away from the area a few days and allow deer to accept the changes aren’t associated with danger.  Once they are comfortable they will return to the plot unless they’ve found a better food source or one they don’t associate with danger.    

Enjoy creation,

grant

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Do some areas have better genetics for producing larger antlers than other areas?

Question
Dr Woods,

Are certain areas in the MidWest more genetically gifted for growing larger racked whitetails? I know you like to discuss whitetail habitat because it can be manipulated to improve antler growth. Genetics not so much in a wild herd. But, won’t you agree that the true rate limiting step to growing MONSTER 200″+ whitetails are the genetics specific to that animal(s). Do these 200″ genetics occur at random throughout the range of the different whitetail sub-species. Or, are there areas such as Western WI, South Central Iowa, NE Missouri, etc etc that have higher genetic potential to grow 200″ whitetails.

I know after watching/managing a herd for over a decade in WI (1000+ acres on multiple properties) that certain antler characteristics are specific for certain “micro” habitats. Suggesting, genetics of the local herd of animals may be at play with ample food available and minimal stress on these larger properties. I would love to hear your thoughts…. seeing as the last growing deer tv episode focused on Mississippi study showing that the genetic potential existed, but was essentially masked by inadequate nutrition.

Joshua,

I’m not aware of any research that shows some areas have better genetics than others for producing large antlered bucks.  

You mentioned northern Missouri.  That’s a great example!  There wasn’t a deer season in any northern Missouri counties when I was a child.  Missouri has great stocking records and many of the deer used to stock the northern Missouri counties were from Taney County – where I live!  So – same genetics in northern Missouri where many BC bucks are tagged and Taney County where a BC buck has never been recorded.  

Clearly the difference in soil quality and forage (soybeans versus timber) accounts for the differences.  Within any location there will be huge genetic diversity among deer.  I don’t believe the BC distribution map reflects differences in regional genetic diversity. Rather if reflects differences in habitat quality and management (age structure due to state regulations, etc.).

Enjoy creation!

grant

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How does humidity impact your stand selection?

Question
Grant, I really enjoy growingdeertv. Just finished watching the latest vid of Chainsaw and the interns setting a stand on a glade. The discussion went to the different characteristics of the stand. I thought it very interesting that Adam was saying if the humidity was too high yall would not hunt that stand. Is that a regular practice? Thanx Calvin

Calvin,

Scent carries better during moist than dry conditions.  So we rarely hunt from stands where the wind is likely to swirl when the humidity is high.  During high humidity conditions we are more likely to select stand locations on ridgetops or areas where the wind is not blocked by vegetation or topographic features.  At such locations the wind is much less likely to swirl.

Enjoy creation!

grant 

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Should I spray before I disk?

Question
I’m wanting to put in a brassica food plot and I have got to spray the weeds to kill it out before I can plant. I have glyphosate 50% to spray with how long do I need to wait before I can disk and plant new seed? Would appreciate any insight. Thank you in advance Danny

Danny,

Glyphosate has no activity in the soil.  It’s only works by entering plants through green leaves, etc.  So there’s very limited value in spraying glyphosate before disking.  The disking should kill all the weeds.

Enjoy creation!

grant

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How old is this buck?

Question
Hi Grant,

I grabbed this picture from my trail cam Monday. Can you estimate the age of this buck by the picture? I’m thinking 4-5 yrs old. ( by the signs you say to look for on the show )

Thanks
Lee

leeimage1

Lee,

The buck in your picture appears to have a swayed back, pot-belly, and his chest sags below where his shoulders meets his legs.  In addition, his shoulders and hams are very well developed.  These are all indicators that the buck is four years old or older. He’d certainly be on my hit list!  

I hope you have a great encounter with him!  

Enjoy creation!

grant

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What are some raccoon trapping tips?

Question
Hello Grant, I really enjoy your videos and your information you guys put out. I’m new to the trapping world and I’m trying my hand at it this coming season here in Pennsylvania. I’m going to be trapping an area that is high in red fox as well as coon. This also happens to be my bow deer hunting spot which has a lot of activity. I was wondering if you could give me some tips and pointers on how to get started. Just as a side note I already have some bait for the traps which i ordered specially made for fox and coon, 2 rebar 18inch stakes for the traps, as well as 2 Victor #1 1/2 traps for the job. I’m sure you get a ton of emails and posts asking for your advice but if you happen to come upon my request it would be much appreciated if you could throw some advice my way. Hunting and fishing and just being outdoors admiring nature and what our great Creator gave us is my life and something I long to do for the rest of my life. I wish you and your family the best of luck on this upcoming deer and trapping season and as always enjoy the outdoors.

Thank You
Andrew

Andrew,

I really enjoy trapping!  I enjoy the activity and working to balance the predator/prey populations!  There are not many red fox where I live due to high numbers of coyotes.  In fact, we saw three coyotes in the yard today.

We have a lot of raccoons.  I trap raccoons to reduce the number of nest predators during the turkey nesting season.  Each fall more raccoons disperse back into my property as there is not much trapping pressure in the surrounding area.

I’ve been using Duke cage trap for years with great success!  These traps are very easy and quick to set and almost failproof!  I use sweet baits (peanut butter, marsh mellows, orange slice candies, etc., during the early fall and more meat based baits once the temperatures get colder.  This rotation of baits has proven very successful for me!

Enjoy creation!

 

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Will green vegetation burn?

Question
Good Evening Dr. Woods,

Two things: Last weekend I ran into a road block with a 2 acre plot I have. I really needed to burn the plot because there was so many leaves on it. However, I was unsure as to how to properly burn a food plot. I’ve seen your videos on how to do a prescribed burn on woodland, but not a plot. Will the green vegetation not burn? Please help!!

Next, I’ve been hearing loads of people take about the new craze of hinge cutting. I’ve read you can actually funnel the deer from the bedding are you have made, to the travel corridor you have also made, to a blind setup where you are waiting. How come you have never talked about this/added this to your arsenal?

Your friend,

Jim Marshall

Jim,

Green vegetation usually won’t carry a fire very well.  Green vegetation is usually full (literally) of water.  Some plants are composed of 70% water!  In situations where you are trying to remove such vegetation it’s often best to mow the vegetation and allow it to dry then carefully use a prescribed fire to remove the duff.  The fire can also create a clean seedbed!

I very rarely prescribe hinge cutting.  It can work well the first year or two. However the limbs will rapidly grow toward the sun and shade out any vegetation below.  Deer and most critters need cover from ground level to three feet tall.  Most hinge cutting creates cover above three feet. In a few years when the hinge cutting shades out the ground it’s an ugly mess that’s difficult to redirect to better type of cover.

Enjoy creation!

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What steps should I take to create a staging area food plot?

Question
Food plot question. I looked at the ask Grant section and got a lot of tips but none fully addressed my question. I hunted a soybean field last season with my stand on the edge of the field/woods facing the field. Not many opportunities in the field occurred but a lot of ‘just out of bow range’ activity was going on in the woods behind me. I moved my stand last week near a trail intersection with some decent rubs (last seasons) nearby. It seems like a staging area and i am positive the ‘big 9’ uses it to get in and out of the field. There is a break in the canopy where some ground cover grows, it doesn’t get browsed. I would like to replace it with some sort of staging forage. Can I use a weed whacker to cut it all down, and lime/fertilize in one day then come back and seed? Or should I “round-up” then come back and rake, fertilize seed. We are getting close to bow season and I don’t want to miss this opportunity to hold deer in this area. I am in the Upstate of SC bow season starts in about 5 weeks.

I really like your plan to move off the field edge and create a staging area hidely hole plot!!

Whether it will be best to cut the weeds or use herbicide depends on the species of weeds.  Most perennial weeds will simply sprout back after being cut.  The safest bet is to use glyphosate. You can spray on day (in good conditions) and literally add lime, fertilizer and seed the next.  

Make sure the site receives at least 50% sunshine a day.  Forage crops need sunshine to grow.  I often use a rack or other hand tools to prepare hidy hole plots!  

Let me know how this one turns out!

Enjoy creation!


 

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How can I control grass in my radish food plot?

Question
I planted a food plot (rack radish crush item #1808301 at basspro) about June 12th My friend then unwittingly planted grass over the same area. The grass is obviously higher than the radishes, which have been munched on by the deer a lot as well. The grass is actually doubling over some. My question is, should I mow the area to give the radishes a fighting chance? Will it even help?

Thanks!

Wes

It depends on what type of grass and how mature it is.  There are several grass-specific herbicides such as Poast Plus, Clethodim, etc.  None of them are very effective on grass that’s very mature.  So using a grass-specific herbicide depends on the maturity of weeds. You could try mowing but most grass species respond to being cut by growing again if it’s during the growing season.  

It may be best to terminate the weeds and crop by herbicide or tillage and plant a fall crop now.  If you take this action, make sure there is plenty of soil moisture before you plant the new crop!

Enjoy creation!

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Is the Mississippi State research that tested whether antler size is limited by genetics or environment factors available in a written publication?

Question
Any chance we can get a hard copy or emailed pdf of the MSU study?

Thanks,

Marc

The results of the recent research by scientists at Mississippi State University that we shared (https://www.growingdeer.tv/#/whitetail-antlers-and-genetics-fact-or-fiction) hasn’t been published yet.  It is to be published soon and we’ll share a link to that publication when it’s available.

Enjoy creation!

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Can deer be conditioned to accept a specific odor?

Question
Grant,

Is it possible to condition a deer to a specific smell? for example Could you apply your scent cover at your stand year round and condition a deer to that particular smell? Where I hunt the wind swirls almost always. I know that the best option would be to have a sealed blind.

Deer in research facilities do become conditioned to accept and not become alerted to certain individuals or smells that would alert wild deer.  

Deer have an incredible sense of smell.  I suspect they can be conditioned to accept any cover scent. However, when the hunter was present the deer would most likely smell the human and cover sent.  I don’t believe the cover scent will mask all odors given off by the hunter – including the hunters breath, ongoing death of bacteria, etc.  

Cover scents have been around for decades and still hunters commonly get busted by deer.

Enjoy creation!

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Can bears displace deer from an area?

Question
Hello Dr. Grant, Adam, Family, and Interns,
I live in the mountains of Western NC. I have seen (on trail camera pictures) this year and last, an increase in the number of bears and a decrease in the number of deer on one of the properties my family and I hunt. Are the deer avoiding the area because of the bears?

Background Information:
2 years ago we had pictures of approximately 8-12 different deer and maybe 1 or 2 pictures of bears all season( i think of the same bear). Last year throughout the hunting season we had regular pictures of 2 boar bears, a female with 2 cubs, and 1 adolescent bear. Last year also showed a slight decrease in the frequency of deer pictures and I don’t have an accurate count on how many different deer we had pictures of but I can estimate it to be about 8-10. This year (I know it is early but I have only seen pictures of 2 does (each with 1 fawn) and 2 bucks for a total of 6 deer. Bear numbers are exploding. Daily pictures of bears include: 1 big boar, 2 females, one with 2 cubs and one with 4 cubs, and 1 adolescent. This is a minimum of 10 bears total, maybe more.

Thanks in advance for any help or information you can give. My family and I love your videos for both their educational and entertainment value and we love that you share the Gospel through you work.

Your Fellow Hunter and Brother In Christ,
Brent in Western NC

Brent,

Thank you for watching GrowingDeer and for sharing the encouraging words!  

I believe the primary determinant of deer activity is survival.  Deer certainly co-exist with bears in many areas.  However, deer often change habits/patterns when a new or increase of predators occurs.  Given the substantial increase the number of bears where you hunt it’s certainly possible that deer in the area have switched to using a different portion of their home range.  

I suggest you don’t use any supplemental feed as bears are very attracted to easy groceries.  If you aren’t feeding then there’s probably not much you can do to discourage the bears from spending so much time where you hunt.  Hopefully some of the bears will move on soon!

Enjoy creation! 

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Is it safe for deer and other wildlife to consume plants treated with glyphosate?

Question
Dr. Woods,

I need to spray 3 small food plots in NW Wisconsin with glyphosate so I can get them planted with fall crops. The deer have browsed most of the good forage out of the plots but they along with some turkeys are still foraging in the plots on a daily basis. I don’t want to spray a chemical that will harm the critters. Do I need to worry about deer that try and browse the food plots after I have treated it with glyphosate?

Thanks for the help with this question,
Mark in Wisconsin

Mark,

There are no grazing restrictions on the glyphosate label.   In addition literally millions of deer and other critters have browsed on glyphosate treated crops throughout the U.S. for years without one reported negative response.  There have been literally 1,000’s of studies and not one scientific, peer-reviewed study has shown a negative relationship between glyphosate and humans or deer.  

Based on the research to date, and no known negative reports for more than a decade, you should feel comfortable using glyphosate per the instructions on the label.

  

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How many days should a ground blind be in place before hunting from it?

Question
Grant,

When would be a good time to place ground blinds out prior to season?

Thank you,
Jeremy Starner

Deer usually take a while to accept blinds placed in their range.  Some folks do a great job of “brushing in” blinds and deer seem to accept these new “brush piles” quicker than a typical blind.  For the last two years I’ve been using a Hay Bale blind from Redneck (www.RedneckBlinds.com).  I’ve found that deer accept these blinds the first day they are put out if there are hay bales in the area.  I’ve been shocked at how rapidly deer ignore a hay bale blind placed at the edge of a food plot versus a tent style blind!

No matter what style of blind being used, I suggest getting it out as soon a practical.  Every day that deer walk by it without associating with danger makes it a better hunting location!

Enjoy creation!


 

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When should the Broadside blend be planted in northern Mississippi?

Question
I have a question about planting fall food plots. I hunt on about 85 acres, mostly farm fields and lets say 25% woods.
The question is the farmer plants soybeans in May and cuts around Nov. could I spread eagle seed broadside over top of the soybeans and the crop come up? I’m going to plant 3 plots in this same seed mix.One field will be 1 acre and the other 2 plots are going to be long half acres. Whats your thoughts on planting like this; I will also plant in the last part of August. because I live in North MS.
Thanks for your help and keep up the great work on the videos.

Corey,

Broadside should be planted 45 to 60 days before the first expected frost.  The average first frost date in northern Mississippi is during late October (check out:  http://www.plantmaps.com/interactive-mississippi-first-frost-date-map.php).  Based on this information I’d suggest planting during the first week or two of September.  Within that range I’d try to broadcast the Broadside just before a rain.  There will normally be a higher germination rate for seed that’s broadcast if it’s planted just before or even during a rain.  

This technique usually results in rapid germination and prevents seed from being damaged by desiccation and/or being consumed by rodents and birds.  

You need to check with landowner/farmer to insure they are OK with Broadside germinating before the soybean crop is harvested.  I’ve used this technique often with great results!

Enjoy creation!

 

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How much Broadside should be broadcast over existing Eagle Seed forage soybeans?

Question
How much broadside should be broadcast in a half acre of eagle seed beans?

There’s always some seed that doesn’t germinate when using the Broadcast technique.  This can be due to where the seeds land, being consumed by rodents or birds, etc. 

I’ve had very good success broadcasting Broadside over existing beans at 25 pounds per quarter acre.

Enjoy creation! 

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Why do some deer seem to have fewer ticks?

Question
In my trail cam picks I notice that the larger bucks have fewer ticks between the shoulder blades and on the ears as many of the does and smaller bucks. Is this cause or effect? Are they healthier because they don’t have ticks – or do they keep ticks off because they are healthier? Why are some deer’s ears and shoulder blades just dripping with ticks, but not others in exact same area?

Thanks!
Rev. H. R. Curtis
Worden, IL

I’ve had the same observation here at The Proving Grounds!  For example, one of the larger antlered bucks here now is Chainsaw.  We’ve shown several video clips of him.  It appears Chainsaw has fewer ticks than other bucks and does of the same age class and using the same areas.

I assume for reason Chainsaw doesn’t attract ticks as much as the other deer in the area.  This is only a assumption and I’m not aware of any biological facts to support this assumption.

For comparison, Adam is younger and probably healthier than me.  When we work side by side we seem to get about the same number of ticks – as does the rest of our Team.  

If you learn more on this subject, please share it with me!  

Enjoy creation! 

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When should Broadside be broadcast in northern Indiana?

Question
It is time in Northern Indiana to broadcast Broadside in our eagle seed beans. I have a half acre of eagle seed beans how much Broadside do I use? Do I use a half acres worth or less? Azar (aka Big Boy) would like to know! See Pic.

Broadside does best when it’s planted 45 – 60 days before the first hard frost.  None of us can predict when the first frost will occur each fall so the best  we can do is use the average first frost date for each area.  The average first frost date for northern Indiana is around the 2nd week of October.  Based on this average I suggest broadcasting the Broadside blend during mid August or so.  I would wait until there is a good chance of rain in the forecast.  The broadcast planting technique works best if the seed are spread just before (or even during) a rain.  

We’ll be planting Broadside at The Proving Grounds about the same time as you!

 

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How is Antler Dirt made?

Question
Dr. Grant. I don’t have access to Antler Dirt here in Statesboro Georgia. Go Georgia Southern Eagles!!!! How can I create my own with dried chicken manure? Could you provide me with a step by step ingredient list and how much to add per acre? I love your show and have learned so much from you and Adam. Thanks.

Antler Dirt is composted and humified poultry litter.  You can learn more about how it’s made by watching: https://www.growingdeer.tv/#/big-antlers-start-in-the-dirt

To build Antler Dirt correctly requires turning it daily and adding beneficial living microbes, etc.  I suspect it would be much less expensive to pay the shipping than to purchase the equipment and all the ingredients.

You might reach out to the guys at http://www.AntlerDirt.com to learn more.  

Enjoy creation!

 

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How old is this buck?

Question
Im here to ask you how old these deer is in the attached pictures are, I hunt a 500 acre area my grandparents own in Morgan county Ohio, only being 17 I have harvested several 130” deer but want something more mature and bigger.

Heavy 8 (2) Heavy 8 (4) Lucky 13 (106) Lucky 13 (114)

I typically only estimate the age of one buck per question. I’ll spend some time analyzing the first buck (color pics).
This buck’s neck merges with his chest in the brisket area.  There appears to be a hump over his shoulder and his chest sags below where his legs merge with his shoulders.  These are all good indicators this buck is 4 or older.  He’d be on my wish list!  I hope you have a great encounter with him!
 
Enjoy creation!
Grant

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How fast does lime work to alter the soil’s pH?

Question
Hi, my name is Duane Spurgin. I have mainly hunted public ground my whole life but I have recently acquired permission on a 60 acre tract of land. I am located in central Missouri. (Phelps county to be exact) The landowner has given me permission to plant a couple small food plots. Both are approximately between 1/4 to 1/2 acre. I am new to planting food plots so I’m looking for any advice as to what to plant. I’ve done some research and everything strongly recommends lime but I don’t have the time to adjust the pH with bow season quickly approaching and planting season about 2 weeks away. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and god bless

Duane,

Congratulations on accurate some land the manage and hunt!!

It can take months for normal ag lime to totally react with soil. However, the finer particles will begin reacting with the soil within days if there is adequate soil moisture.  I suggest you go ahead and apply lime now. The crops will get some benefit now and more as they mature throughout the fall! 

The finer the grind of lime the faster it reacts with soil. There are some sources of very finely ground lime that has been pelletized so it’s easy to spread.  I did some research on high quality pelletized lime years ago and it substantially improved the soil’s pH in a month!  

Whether you use standard ag lime or high quality pelletized lime I suggest you spread it as soon as you can!

Enjoy creation!

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Are there ways to improve the germination rate of seed that’s to be broadcast into standing soybeans?

Question
hi mr. woods thank you for answering my question about spreading broadside in the north!! im excited for a qdma field day at my local branch this weekend, anything I should look for or important questions to ask? I sprayed my plot and I have almost a pure stand of growing beans im really happy with eagle seeds habitat seeds, hopefully broadside has same results. my question to you now is im going to broadcast my broadside and some other fall blends to give different variety, when looking at my plots we have had very hot weather and I have a “top crust” if you want to say with cracks, ridges etc, im more concerned with germination or if seeds to deep things of that nature. Is there anything I can do to help like spread top soil by hand or anything to get bit of dirt on top? does it matter?

Thanks again!!
mike

Mike,

I hope you enjoy the Field Day with your local QDMA Branch!  

I wouldn’t broadcast the seed into your standing soybean food plot until the chances of rain are very good!  There must be adequate soil moisture for seeds to germinate and survive.  Rain also serves to splash dirt and help cover the seeds!  In addition rodents and birds can consume must of the seed if it lays on top of the ground and doesn’t germinate.  

I often broadcast seed during rain with great results!

Enjoy creation,

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What percentage of land should be in food plots?

Question
How many acers do you own? And how many food plots should you have on your land per acer? Also, how many food plots should you have per however many groups of deer?

There are many variables that determine how many acres of food plot there should be on any property.  If the hunting property is an area where corn and soybean crops are commonly grown then food plots, especially during the summer, are rarely necessary.  In these areas food plots during the hunting season can be useful to attract deer after the production crops have been harvested.  

In areas where timber or pasture are the primary land uses then more acres of food plots will be necessary to provide enough quality forage for all deer to express their full genetic potential. Ideally there will be enough acres of food plots that each deer has all the quality forage they wish to consume. 

An easy and accurate indicator that can be used to evaluate the quantity of food to the number of deer in an area is to notice if quality forage such as soybeans is being over-browsed.   If it is then either more acres of food plots should be established or the deer population should be reduced – or both actions at the same time.  

Enjoy creation! 

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Should I overseed Eagle Seed forage soybeans even if they produced a good crop?

Question
Thanks Grant for taking the time to look at my question. I live and hunt in Wisconsin near Trempleau county. I have a 1 acre plot that I planted in eagle seed soybeans this spring, with the expectation that it would provide forage for deer during the summer, but it would be over browsed, probably not set pods, and come late summer, I would be able to overseed it with broadside blend. Well I may have underestimated the browse tolerance of eagle seed beans and they are about knee high (I’m 6’3″) and have totally closed off and created a canopy such that I can’t see any bare dirt when I look at them from afar and up close. Not being a farmer and never having planted soybeans before, I’m not sure how to tell if these plants are going to produce soybean pods to hunt in the winter. I don’t want to ruin perfectly good beans and at the same time waste the eagle seed putting it in the plot and not have it germinate because the seeds can’t get any sun. Similarly, i don’t want to be fooled into thinking that these plants will set bean pods, not seed it, have the forage beans die in October and nothing but bare dirt to look at come thanksgiving. Not to mention the weed problem come spring when I try to plant again. Thanks in advance if you have a chance to answer my question.

Like you, I’m amazed every year at how much forage Eagle Seed forage soybeans produce even when being heavily browsed.

Unless there’s an earlier than normal frost at your property or you planted a very late maturing variety of Eagle Seed such as Big Fellow or Large Lad it shoulds like the beans in your plot will produce pods.

I really like the many benefits of cover crops!  Some cover crops can provide excellent forage for deer and other game.  When the temperatures are warmer than normal during hunting season deer tend to prefer green forage versus grains (bean pods). By overseeding standing soybeans you can provide deer both greens and grain in the same plot and keep attracting deer during both warm and cold temperatures.  

Eagle’s Broadside blend works great to mine or recycle nutrients. That is to say this blend grows in all but the coldest conditions and actively growing plants take up nutrients that otherwise might leach below the reach of new plants next spring.  When the winter cover crop is terminated the decomposing forage and roots release great nutrients for the new warm season crop.  I could go on with benefits of cover crops.

I strongly suggest planting Broadside in your standing crop of forage soybeans.  If you use a no till drill this will create gaps where the sun will reach the soil and allow the Broadside to germinate.  If you plan to broadcast the seed you may wish to drive and ATV through the plot, etc., and disturb at least 1/3 of the forage crown.  This will allow the Broadside to germinate and the remaining beans to produce pods.

I know it sounds crazy to remove a small portion of a plot you worked hard to grow!  However the benefits of a cover crop outweigh any damage to a small percentage of the standing beans.

 

 

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What forages are extremely shade tolerant?

Question
Grant: I have a beautiful secluded area of mature trees along a creek bed whose understory is almost 100% wild oats (which the deer do not eat). What can I plant there (after mowing the oats) that will be an attractive and nutritious deer food? Obviously, this area is heavily shaded. I thought of some type of clover, but when I read about the clovers, they all seem to want quite a bit of sunshine.

Most forages do require at least 1/2 day of sunshine to be productive.  The sun is the source of all energy and with ample sunlight the photosynthesis process doesn’t work.

I agree with you that white clovers are about as tolerant as any forage I’ve tried  You will need to insure there are plenty of nutrients in the soil. All forages are simply nutrient transfer agents and if the nutrients aren’t in the soil the  plants can’t transfer them to deer.

If the site has a full canopy I wouldn’t recommend using your resources to try to establish a food plot in that location.

 

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What liquid fertilizer should I use?

Question
Hi Grant,

Keep up the great work. Love the videos and information that you provide.

I am aware that you utilize Antler Dirt for fertilizing your plots, but in my situation I don not have access to the equipment necessary to apply the Antler Dirt especially in remote areas of my property and was wondering if you could recommend an all around good fertilizer for use with various types of food plots that can be applied with an ATV sprayer? If so what is it and when is the best time apply it considering both spring and fall plantings?

Regards

Plants requires a certain amount of nutrients to grow. I’m not aware of any liquid fertilize that has enough nutrients to work without a base of some traditional or composted fertilizer.

I’m sure there are some great add-on products.

Your best bet may be to build the quality of soil using minimal tillage and good crop rotation.  I’ve been amazed at how much the soil fertility has improved at my place simply from using soybeans during the warm season and a combination of radishes, wheat, and brassicas (Eagle Seed’s Broadside blend) during the fall.

 

 

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Could I spread Eagle Seed Broadside over top of production soybeans and the crop come up?

Question
I have a question about planting fall food plots. I hunt on about 85 acres, mostly farm fields and lets say 25% woods.  The question is the farmer plants soybeans in May and cuts around Nov. could I spread eagle seed broadside over top of the soybeans and the crop come up? I’m going to plant 3 plots in this same seed mix.One field will be 1 acre and the other 2 plots are going to be long half acres. Whats your thoughts on planting like this; I will also plant in the last part of August. because I live in North MS.
Thanks for your help and keep up the great work on the videos.

Great question! Yes, you can definitely plant the Eagle Seed Broadside mix over the standing production beans. See this video for my suggestions on easy food plots over standing crops: https://www.growingdeer.tv/#/secrets-to-quick-food-plots

My only concern is that you don’t plant too early. If you plant too early the farmer may have difficulty combining his soybeans in November. You always want to stay on good terms with your local farmer!

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When should the Broadside Blend be broadcast in northern states?

Question
hi Mr. woods like to take a moment and just tell you I really enjoy watching your videos and im glad I found a person in the hunting world who is helping other hunters learn about management practices without charging for there answers. I live in Albany ny and have several acres just in outskirts of the city, high deer density but there are some nice bucks in area. I planted eagle beans for first time and im using a deer barrier system to keep them out, seems effective now and beans are about shin high. I purchased your broadside blend as cover crop and I would like to know at what point should I broadcast over beans, I know its usually 60 days before first frost but are area usually stays dry come September and into hunting season, would it be ok to spread within couple weeks while I still have rain coming or should I wait? also I sprayed glyphosate over beans for weed control would there be a lot of competition with the broadside if weeds are not completely gone?

Thank you very much and keep great videos and the info coming!!
mike

Mike,

It sounds as if you have a great food plot established!  I’m glad you are preparing to overseed the Eagle Seed forage soybeans with Broadside. That’s a great technique to keep attracting deer as the seasons change.  

The Broadside or most forage crops will do better with less competition.  If the weeds are turning yellow they will likely be gone before the Broadside germinates.  If not, it might be best to treat the weeds again before planting the Broadside.  

Can you see some of the soil while walking through the plot or have the forage soybeans made a complete canopy?  If there is a complete canopy there won’t be much sunshine reaching the soil and allowing the Broadside to germinate and grow rapidly.  If this is the case I suggest splitting the plot in 1/2 and allowing deer to browse half the beans while protecting the other 1/2. Plant the Broadside in the 1/2 where the deer browse the beans and open up the canopy so at least 50% of the soil is receiving sunshine.  

Either way, I suggest planting the Broadside while there is adequate soil moisture.  This will result in a much higher rate of germination and more tonnage produced before the first killing frost.  

Enjoy creation!

grant

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Why is ragweed growing in my food plot even though I sprayed Roundup?

Question
I have bunch of this growing in a new food lot that we planted this spring, and I cant figure out what this is. I don’t think its a weed as we sprayed round up twice and let it get nice and crispy before discing up the land. Any input would be appreciated.

The plant in your picture appears to be ragweed.

The active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate.  Glyphosate is only active on living leaf surface area.  It won’t prevent weed seeds that are in the soil from germinating.  Disking often results in bringing weed seeds within the top inch of soil. These seeds will usually rapidly germinate.  It’s rarely necessary to spray Roundup before disking as disking will remove the weeds and Roundup won’t keep existing weed seeds from germinating!

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How do you age a doe (female white-tailed deer)?

Question
I love your videos, and can’t wait to always see the next one. I consider myself your student. You give good advice on how to discern a mature buck, but where I hunt (Michigan farmland – a veritable paradise for a deer hunter) doe control is necessary, and I also prefer doe meat. I’d prefer to shoot a mature doe to an immature one, when a doe hunt is on. How can one discern a mature doe on the fly and at a distance? I’m sure you’re too busy to reply, but I don’t doubt many of your viewers would be happy to see an episode, or part of an episode, on that topic. May God bless and keep you and your loved ones.

Thank you for watching GrowingDeer and for asking God to bless our Team!

Tracy, the kids, and I all enjoy venison! Tracy’s a great cook and we consume 10+ does each year! So you and I have the same goals.

Just like with humans, does tend to show their age by changing body shape as they mature in patterns similar to bucks. As does mature their posture goes from very straight to having a swayed back and sags in the belly region. Does don’t have plastic surgery so changes due to age are probably more pronounced and constant than female humans express. In addition most does will produce fawns each year so they show similar signs of aging compared to humans as some ladies bare a lot of children while others very few or none. In addition most does give birth as yearlings or as two year old does. The age humans produce the first child is highly variable.

I tend to age does on the hoof as immature, prime, and elderly based on the shape of their body.

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How to attract older bucks?

Question
I belong to a hunt club that has 500 acres but my family and I are the only serious hunters. There has never been a 4 year old or older buck seen on the property. The oldest we have seen is a couple of 3 year olds. How do we attract and keep the older bucks?

Based on lots of data from GPS collars placed on mature bucks researchers have learned that they are unique individuals and have different habitats and home range sizes just like humans.  These data also show that the home range size of most mature bucks decreases as they mature.  

Based on these findings it is unlikely to “attract” mature bucks outside their home range. So the secrete to seeing more mature bucks on a given property is to reduce the harvest of immature bucks on the same property.  As long as the bucks are dying in a portion of their range that’s outside the property where you hunt, it only requires passing immature bucks to produce mature bucks.  

Hopefully you are part of or can form a neighborhood deer management coop and adjoining landowners will follow the same buck harvest guidelines!  This is a great way to increase the age structure of a local deer herd!

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What fruit trees are a good deer attractant?

Question
Dr. Grant,
Really enjoy your videos, guidance and passion for developing deer management strategies. I’ve learned a lot from your web site!

This is a suggestion based on an experiance I am happy to be having as a result of a neighbor setting up bee hives on his property. My neighbor set up 4 or 5 bee hives early this spring and I’ve noticed them all over my wild apple and plum trees when they were in bloom. the droning was incredible! Now the apples and plums have started to grow and I have never seen them producing so much fruit! (I’ve had the property for 9 years). Some of the plum tree branches are actually breaking under the weight of the fruit. My apple trees, one in particular that is close to my house, seem to have 50% more apples this year. We have also had good rain in the area (South West corner of Wisconsin). So if fruit bearing trees are part of your habitat strategy, Bee hives may be a good investment to promote pollination with a pleasant side effect of being able to collect some honey!

Guess I’ll add a question: How does fruit bearing trees and brush such as black caps, rasberries etc, play into your forage habitat planning?
Thanks,
Travis

Travis,

Like you, I have a friend that keeps his bees at our place!  I enjoy the work they do and the honey they make!!

I have a tree plot (fruit and nut producing trees planting within a forage-based food plot) at my place!  Here in southern Missouri I prefer fruit trees as the landscape is primarily covered by oaks.  I usually prefer plums and pears to apple trees simply because apples trees tend to require a lot more maintenance to produce fruit.  I get my tree stock from Flatwood Natives and have experienced good success and I appreciate thier service and advice!

You can see some of the planting and maintenance advice from Flatwood Natives in episode #247 here.

There’s lots of native soft mass at my ranch as a results of the native habitat management.  These include wild strawberries, dewberries, blackberries, etc. Most of these ripen long before season opens but do provide a source of energy for deer and other wildlife species.

Thank you for watching http://www.GrowingDeer.tv!

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What herbicide is best for food plots with multiple forage species?

Question
Mr woods thank you for your dedication to deer hunting and conservation in general also sending out great messages for all viewers about time spent in the outdoors and creation. My 5 year old daughter loves to set down and watch your videos with me its also something I don’t have to worry about her watching and for that I thank you!

My management question is what can I use to spray on food plots with multiple species of forage such as one plot having chicory, clover and alfalfa in an existing plot that will not kill my plantings. I use glyphosate to kill new areas to be planted but I want something to treat my plots with in early-late spring before weeds mature and take over. I have about 100 acres of my personal land to tend to but also I tend my hunting club that’s about 4800 acres of free range land in the tip northeast corner of Alabama. I know some company’s sell small bottles of select herbicide but I need something a lot more cost effective. I already mow the plots soon as possible in spring but sometimes that doesn’t work out.
thank you Matt

Matt,

Thank you for for sharing the encouraging words and leading by example!  Your daughter is blessed to have a Dad that loves her enough to constantly protect her and spend time with her!

I’m not aware of a herbicide that’s safe to use over legumes (clover and alfalfa) and chicory.  Weed control in plots with multiple species is difficult.  You can use most of the grass- specific herbicides over legumes and broadleaf (chicory) with damaging the forage crops.  There are several grass-specific herbicides and all have advantages and disadvantages.  

Mowing rarely controls weeds (grasses or broad-leafed weeds).  This is one reason I tend to plant warm season plots with a single species like forage soybeans and use blends during the cool season.  Weeds are rarely a problem in cool season plots – especially if there has been a warm season forage crop and good weed control during the summer.

Depending on the size of the plots and the number of deer in the area the best rotation I’ve found for attracting and feeding deer is Eagle Seed forage soybeans during the summer followed by overseeding the beans with the Broadside blend about 60 days before the first expected frost of the fall.

The Roundup ready beans make it easy to keep the plot weed-free during the summer and the Broadside is a great soil builder and deer attractant!

Enjoy creation,

Grant 

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How long does it take to spread lime by hand on food plots?

Question
In the latest video, you show lime being distributed with a hand seeder. But you talk about rates of 2 tons per acre.  How long does it take to spread that much lime using a hand seeder?

Doug

Doug,

I only spread lime on small plots (1/8th of an acre or so) by hand.  This still takes some time, but my spreader holds 50 pounds so I open the flow gauge up wide and spread each load quickly.  I think the effort is worth it as mature bucks readily use high quality forage in small plots that don’t receive much hunting pressure!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What is the best type of archery practice for deer season?

Question
Hey Grant, thanks for all the helpful advise you share in your videos. I am a new bow hunter and I was wondering how you practice to get ready for deer season?
Thanks for watching http://www.GrowingDeer.tv!  I’ve found the blind bale archery practice technique very easy, can be used almost anywhere, and to work extremely well!  Check out this episode of GrowingDeer.tv for step by step instructions!  https://www.growingdeer.tv/#/how-to-get-ready-for-deer-hunting-now

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Does work on a property disturb deer?

Question

Grant,

As a weekly watcher of your series, I can’t help but notice on your shows you and your team are always out on your property. It seems like you are consistently working, hunting or taping for the show. This is where my questions lies, how are you always doing something on your property and not pushing the deer to become nocturnal or just leave the property all together?

One of the biggest issues around my WI property is pressure in the terms of people, machinery, etc. always pushing deer out of our area. I have 160 acres which isn’t chump change in our parts, but it seems like by the end of summer they have had enough of people and vacate the area.

Do you ever worry about being in the field too much? Are there areas you never go in? Are there times of the year you back off working in the field? Need some help from the Dr. Thanks,

-Jason H.

Jason,

We are constantly working or hunting on our place.  To offset this level of disturbance we have sanctuaries or places that we never go in except to retrieve a harvested deer, look for sheds, or limited management activities such as prescribed fire.

Sanctuaries are a critical part of our habitat!  We design/designate sanctuaries on all of our clients’ properties. Is their 20+ acres on your farm that serves as a sanctuary?

Thanks for watching GrowingDeer!

Grant

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Burning and replanting

Question
How can I achieve a soil management goal with out a no-till drill or is that unachieveable? My method now is to burn old fodder and replant, thus leaving my plots bare at times with no food and no protection at times.

Michael,

Prescribed fire can be a great tool in your soil management program!  Fire was a big factor in building the great soils in the prairie states.  You can use fire to remove the duff from past crops and then broadcast seed on plot.  Remember that fire rarely destroys the roots from past crops.  There is often more roots (plant material) under the soil than what is present on top the ground.  The roots will break down creating high quality organic matter and channels for roots of new plants to seek sources of water and nutrients.

When using a fire-based system of preparing a seedbed you will need to select crops that germinate well when the seeds are broadcast on top the soil.  Common crops that work well in this system include clover, wheat (most all small grains), turnips, radishes, buckwheat, etc.

I often plant 20% more pounds per acre when broadcasting compared to using a no till drill because of the seed will be consumed by critters (birds, squirrels, etc.) or won’t germinate due to limited seed to soil contact.

This system works best if the seed is planted just before a rain.  Rain prevents the seed from desiccation and helps insure the seed have good contact with the soil.

It’s often better to terminate the mature crops with herbicide to insure there’s dry vegetation and the fire will effectively burn throughout the whole plot.

The GrowingDeer.tv episode at the following link shows an example of me using fire to remove the duff from an unmanaged pasture to create a food plot:  https://www.growingdeer.tv/#/a-new-buck-and-storm-proofed-food-plots

Be careful with fire and enjoy creation!

grant

 

 

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Where do you send your coyote hides for tanning?

Question
Great information on skinning out a coyote.  Unfortunately, you did not suggest any places that you guys send your hides for tanning.   I want to do the same thing to use as gifts and such but most of the tanneries are $80 and they have to be mount ready.  Which means I have to flesh it out really good.  Please give me some ideas of where I can send my hides to.

I use Moyle Mink & Tannery (http://www.moytown.com/). The quality of work is excellent and prices are reasonable.

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When do bucks shed their antlers in NY state or Ontario, Canada?

Question
When do bucks shed their antlers in NY state or Ontario, Canada?

Jim

It’s common for bucks that are healthy to hold their antlers until mid March or so. There’s so much ag in eastern Kansas that I suspect the bucks are very healthy in your area.

Bucks, does, and fawns will use licking branches (the branches overhanging scrapes) year round. In addition, female fawns often become receptive when they reach about 70 pounds. There are probably some receptive fawns causing bucks to display rut behavior in your area.

After the majority of rutting behavior is over and the testosterone level of bucks begins to decrease they often get together in bachelor groups and will remain in these groups till they begin shedding their velvet next fall.

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Is it normal for the bucks in eastern Kansas to still have antlers in early March?

Question
I noticed that a lot of bucks are still holding their antlers here in eastern Kansas and there are still active scrapes. Is this common to have active scrapes this time of year? The bucks are running in packs like a bachelor group, is this also common?

It’s common for bucks that are healthy to hold their antlers until mid March or so. There’s so much ag in eastern Kansas that I suspect the bucks are very healthy in your area.

Bucks, does, and fawns will use licking branches (the branches overhanging scrapes) year round. In addition, female fawns often become receptive when they reach about 70 pounds. There are probably some receptive fawns causing bucks to display rut behavior in your area.

After the majority of rutting behavior is over and the testosterone level of bucks begins to decrease they often get together in bachelor groups and will remain in these groups till they begin shedding their velvet next fall.

Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv!

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What crops are good for growing deer in southern Ontario, Canada?

Question
Hi, I hunt a property that has a farmer farming the land and he usually plants either corn, millet bird seed and the odd time he’ll plant soybeans. I was just wondering, are these good crops for growing deer? I live and hunt in southern Ontario,Canada, if that would have anything to do with it?

Sounds like you have permission to hunt a good farm! Corn and millet are both great sources of energy for deer (and other species of wildlife)! However, they don’t provide much protein for deer. A combination of soybeans and corn (on different parts of the farm) would be great – with the soybeans providing protein during the growing season and corn providing energy (carbohydrates) during the winter. If some of these crops (odd corners, etc.) were left standing during the winter, they would be a great feeding and hunting area! You might consider trading the farmer work days during the off season for him leaving a bit of grain standing for hunting during the winter. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv!

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Wondering what herbicide do you use in your hack and spray tree elimination?

Question

What herbicide do you use in your hack and spray tree elimination?

Easton

The herbicide used depends on the species of trees to be treated. Glyphosate will work on several species and Tordon RTU works well on locust. Glyphosate doesn’t work well on maples. I suggest you Google “hack and squirt” and the type tree to be treated – like “hack and squirt maple” and find information from your area. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv!

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How can I increase the population of deer on the property and get them to come out in daylight hours?

Question
Hi, my name is Tanner and I am 13 years old. I hunt on a 26 acre property in New Jersey and we have a big problem. We have been trying to get a deer for two years now. We go hunting every weekend ever since we started two years ago. But we see nothing weekend after weekend — no deer. We know they are on the property because trail cameras pick up to 36 deer in one night and some decent bucks too, like 10 and 12 pointers. But they never ever come out in daylight hours. How can I increase the population of deer on the property and get them to come out in daylight hours? It is so bad that I can have over 300 pictures and not one of them are in daylight hours. I love hunting but it is starting to get old going out and sitting through freezing temperatures and seeing nothing day after day. Thank you!

Tanner, it can get tough when hunting a lot and not seeing deer! When I help folks improve hunting on properties that are similar in size to the one you hunt I always try to determine where the best food, cover, and water sources are in the neighborhood. Deer will certainly use neighboring properties so understanding where they are using food, cover, and water during different times of year and weather conditions is very important. Once I get a better handle on where deer are using food, cover, and water I see if I can create the preferred location for one of those resources on the property where my clients hunt. Second – I always have at least 4 stand/blind sites – one for a north, south, west, and east wind. Just as importantly I plan an entrance and exit route for each of those wind directions. It’s easy to alert every deer on 26 acres by simply walking to the stand with the wind at my back and letting every deer know to avoid the area while I’m there. Sometimes this means walking around the outside edge of the property or entering from the opposite side to ensure I don’t alert deer to my presence. By determining where deer are using food, cover, and water, and approaching, hunting and exiting stands/blinds without alerting deer should allow hunters to punch their tag no matter where they hunt! Finally – I often share with folks to not do the same thing and expect different results. Too often deer pattern hunters more than hunters pattern deer. Remember there are several factors that may impact deer besides the hunter – such as coyotes, bears, or hunters on neighboring properties that alert deer. I look forward to hearing about your results after you try some new strategies!

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What do deer eat when there’s snow on the ground?

Question

I love watching your weekly shows. I have a rather odd question. Where snow accumulation gets real high, 15″ or better, do you suppose turkeys will ingest deer droppings? I told you it was odd! I know there is odd forage above the deep snow that turkeys may resort to. I have a debate with a friend, he thinks they do. I know where deer have dug deep to find corn, can the turkeys still manage to find something left behind? I also know turkeys have fat stored, I believe it is 2 weeks they can go without food and 5 days max without water. If the trap line is slow and the deer hunting has ended, do a segment on turkeys in deep snow!

Nathan

I’ve never seen or read about turkeys consuming deer pellets. Deer are efficient at removing food value through their digestive track and there wouldn’t be much nutrient value in their droppings. However, if a turkey was starving they’d probably try anything! Turkeys certainly consume a very wide variety of foods – from small snakes to lots of types of vegetation! Wicked cold weather and frozen deep snow that they can’t scratch through has certainly been reported to cause turkeys to die. Let’s hope the brutal conditions change soon!

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Do you field dress the deer or do you make it a practice not to do it in the field for a reason?

Question
 I noticed when loading the deer your father killed it was not field dressed (gutted). By the way, God bless the times you have with your father. My father has passed and I miss the times we had together. Congratulations to him on his hunt! So I was wondering, do you field dress the deer or do you make it a practice not to do it in the field for a reason? I always field dress not far from the location of the kill. Thanks for your advice on this subject. Take care and have a wonderful new year! Be safe! Rich 

I truly enjoy such spending time with my dad! We really enjoyed that hunt!!! My house is just up the hill from where we were hunting – so I took the buck to the house to weigh, etc., and have a clean source of water to dress and remove the meat. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv and stay warm!

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What can I do to either bring the bucks closer to my stand(s) or bring in more bucks to the property?

Question
I just love watching your shows. I pretty much learn new techniques from every show that I do watch. I am 17 and an avid bow hunter. I only took the rifle three times this season. I hunt on private land that my family does not own, but I am allowed to put out feeders, attractants, food plots, etc. I am a deer manager myself, I pass up small bucks and small does all of the time. We only have about 350 acres of land, so there are not many big bucks (maybe 3 or 4). With other guys hunting with rifles (making it easier for them) what can I do to either bring the bucks closer to my stand(s) or bring in more bucks to the property? I’ve never shot a buck before and I have only killed one doe before and I would really love some advice and tips on bringing them in.

Thanks for reading and paying attention, Nathan

It sounds like you have a good property to hunt. However, it’s tough to pattern mature bucks anywhere! I always study the preferred sources of food, cover, and water throughout the seasons/varying conditions and use that information to pattern bucks. Just as importantly, I study where I can place and how I can approach stands without deer patterning me! I consider being able to enter, hunt, and exit the stand without alerting deer just as important as the stand location itself. I enjoy hunting does and providing that natural meat to my family. Don’t hesitate to take a few does if there are plenty of deer in your area and enjoy hunting while patterning the local deer herd! Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv and may God bless you with great 2014!

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What greens would you recommend planting in our food plot?

Question

Hi Dr. Woods, I emailed you in early October about why we were not seeing mature bucks. Our luck changed as the season went on and we had multiple encounters with some very good bucks. I alone have spent over 100 hours in the tree stand this year trying to put some antlers on the ground. As hunting goes, some things happened and we just couldn’t close the deal. This year we intend on planting about 3 acres of forage soybeans, but we want some short greens next to the beans closer to our stand set ups. This way we have an area for shots. We are avid bow hunters. What greens would you recommend?

Curtis

Check out the current episode at http://www.GrowingDeer.tv (Watch GDTV 215 here) – you’ll see several bucks gorging on Eagle Seed’s Broadside blend and my dad tagging a buck! I tagged several deer this year by placing stands so I could hunt food plots planted with Broadside. The blend of forage varieties in that blend has worked VERY well for me! May you be blessed with some great hunts during 2014!

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Can you plant soybeans without a drill?

Question
Dr. Woods, I am an admiring fan of you and your family shows. My question is, can you plant soybeans any other way than with a drill and still be successful? I only have a 60 acre lease with an acre plot, which is all I’m allowed to plant under my lease. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

James

Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv! Soybeans can be planted successfully by preparing the soil (working it with a disk, tiller, etc.) and then broadcasting the seed (I often use a hand spreader) and then covering the seed by using some fencing, logs, etc., to drag the soil. I usually plant about 20% more seed than normal when using this method as some seed won’t be covered and birds, squirrels, etc., will consume a portion. Planting just before a rain usually produces the best results. I wish you well with this project!

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What causes a buck’s antlers to shed?

Question

First off I would like to tell you how much I like what your are doing on your website and videos. Also, I have caught some interviews with Christian Berg from Petersen’s Bowhunting. Most recently with Korby Taylor, truly great stuff, I really enjoy listening to you. I have an interesting question about antler drop. I live in a unique state for whitetail (Florida). We have the most diverse rut in the US. In fact in Polk County (where I lease) we have yet to have breeding take place (based on the fawn births), while other areas have long since completed. My question is antler drop. My deer rub off the velvet in the 1st week of October. Breeding takes place in……mid/late February. There are already areas in the state (south and north of me 60 miles) that already bred, and have just dropped. I have pics from bucks (most recent was 2 weeks ago) with their antlers. The loooong winded question……what determines the drop in a “normal” non-stressed environment? End of breeding? A set time (i.e. 90 days)? I never thought much about it until now. I am also wondering, can and will they breed (primary phase) well after they drop? Thanks for any time and answers you may provide.

Sincerely, Bo

I agree – Florida is unique! Antler drop is a function of increasing day length and decreasing testosterone. The increasing day length is like a starter cue. This sets the process in action. However, bucks will hold antlers as long as their testosterone is above a threshold. Bucks that get injured, etc., often drop much earlier than healthy bucks. The rate of day length increase is close to the same throughout Florida – but the testosterone levels very significantly as does are mostly bred in some areas and haven’t started becoming receptive in other areas. No one (that I’m aware) fully understands why deer follow the breeding patterns they do in Florida.

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What happened to this buck?

Question
I shot an 8 point buck on day 2 of Missouri’s deer season. He was a 3 year old, I think. The buck’s testes were the size of a peanut shell. Past deer, and even smaller deer, had much bigger testes. I’m wondering if this deer could even breed. What could have happened? He also had a swollen lower left leg but his rack was normal. Thanks for any feedback.  Jeff 

Congrats on harvesting a mature buck! It sounds as if the buck has been injured. Bucks with messed up testes almost always have a deformed/non-typical rack. I suspect he was injured after he shed his velvet and before you harvested him.

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What should we do to improve the hunting and food plots on our small farm in Wisconsin?

Question
I have a few questions. I manage a small parcel of land, 24 acres to be exact, but hunting in our area was tough due to a few factors this year. Now that the season here in Wisconsin is all but over with the bitter cold setting in, I am evaluating my season and all my camera photos to set a new plan for next year and would like your advice or input. My first question is: We have a smaller ag field on the property that a farmer plants in corn for us and I plant the outer edges in food plots. This year I got some more equipment and am looking to plant the whole 4 acres of food plots myself. Would it be best to plant half in an annual like brassicas and half in a mix of clovers and wheat or would it be best to plant one species in the whole field? The land is surrounded by production agriculture with over 100 acres of corn and alfalfa each within a quarter mile. Our land has a hilltop hardwood ridge between two large cedar swamps. The next question is: One of the farms that borders our land is a factory type farm and employs crop damage tags to harvest a ton of deer. I like the fact of the intense doe harvest before and during hunting season but it made it tough from early October to mid December as the deer went total nocturnal and seemed to vanish. I thought it was over hunting of our small parcel but it was a regional problem as we ended up the season with two deer, a nice 9 point and a yearling buck (my wife’s first deer). During the firearms season out of a total of 25 people and around 3000 acres of land we did the best. No one saw much of anything buck wise and very few does were sighted, it was not just eyes – all game cameras went dead too like the deer just vanished. Any advice on how to deal with this problem or hurdle? We only access two stand sites to hunt the property and unless working on timber management or food plots we never walk in swamp land or any areas that are known bedding areas. Thanks for your time. Have a blessed new year and I look forward to 52 new episodes of the show, I can’t wait every week to see what is next.

Kyle, congrats on your previous successes and thanks for your support! As a fellow Wisconsinite I understand the frustrations that go along with tremendous fluctuations in local deer herd numbers across the state. Not sure where you are at exactly, but I see a lot more deer in SE WI than in N WI, and for some obvious reasons…food, predators, and hunter numbers. We could talk all day about WI deer management, but I’ll choose to save that for another day. Your first question was how you should go about planting the large (4 acre) ag field. My answer would be to experiment. Since the property is surrounded by ag, I would expect little over browsing during the early fall. Thus, I love the thought of providing a smorgasbord of quality forage types in your food plots. The majority should still be planted with grains because my guess is the surrounding farmers till the fields after harvest. Try out a pattern like this: 2 acres of corn, 1 acre of soybeans, ½ acre Broadside (great mixture of brassicas, winter wheat and soybeans made by Eagle Seed), and ½ acre of clover. This will be a great way to view what the deer are preferring to eat during different times of the year. Monitor from an observation stand or time lapse mode on trail cams and hunt based upon what you are seeing. Your second question may be a tough hurdle. From your description it sounds as though the deer numbers are low in your area and the factory farm shoots every doe they can. Tough scenario to deal with because you can’t really blame the farmers for using their ag tags because the crop is their moneymaker. Also, shooting at them with rifles will turn them nocturnal. Maybe you could ask if you would be able to fill their ag tags with the use of a bow before season? Could be a win win. You get to hunt and the deer get shot at less, and eventually learn it is safe to feed during the day again. I hope these suggestions help. Hunt safe!

— Andrew Gall, GrowingDeer.tv

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How should I plant this food plot?

Question
Hello, I planted Eagle Seed beans on a 3 acre food plot this season and had great success. However, my dad and brother have been complaining that the beans are too tall. The major difference between them and I though is my first love is archery and they primarily gun hunt. The beans are perfect in my eyes by adding a huge food source and adding amazing cover but that also means that they are not able to shoot as far as they want into the beans. Would you suggest any pattern or plant changes within the plot to add windows of opportunity? I planted about an acre of Broadside on the other side of the creek with great success. Would it be beneficial to save a lane through the heart of the plot to plant Broadside when it gets closer to fall and lose that extra bean production? The average numbers of deer hitting the plots with this cold front is 25-30 on an evening sit. This is up from previous years due to the amount of groceries I’ve added.

Thanks for your help,

Brett

Would you rotate and plant beans to the food plot on the “other side of the creek”? I would consider planting all beans to provide the summer forage and then mow a strip in the center of the larger field about August and plant Broadside. This seems the best way to have your cake and eat it also. Or consider an elevated blind like I use to hunt the Eagle Seed beans and allow your Dad and brother an advantage!

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Have you ever tried Milorganite to protect your food plots?

Question

Have you ever tried Milorganite to protect your soybeans or other plants from deer, when they are first sprouting up?

John

I remember years ago when the University of Georgia tried Milorganite in some experiments. It did seem to keep deer from browsing for a few days. I use an all natural fertilizer called Antler Dirt. It seems to do the same, but has a very high organic matter content. You can learn more about Antler Dirt at http://www.AntlerDirt.com. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv!

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How much of your land have you turned into food plots?

Question

Hey, I was wondering how many acres of land you own? How much of it have you turned into food plots?

Thanks,

John

Tracy and I have about 1,500 acres. We have about 60 acres of food plots. We’d like more but the land is so rough that there’s not many more acres that are flat enough so the tractor won’t turn over – literally!  You can read more about Our Place by clicking here.

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What food plot crop can I plant to attract deer during bow season?

Question

For the past several years I have been planting Eagle Seed Beans.  It is a great crop and brings in plenty of deer in the late season, after our deer season. What can I plant to get them in the food plot during bow season, October and November?

Thank you,

Frank

Deer are picky eaters! Their preferred foods are based on what else is available at that location and time. What are the deer eating at your place between when they are focused on the soybean forage during the summer/early fall and the pods during the late winter? Do you hunt/plant in an area where there are lots of acorns? I live and hunt where there are lots of acorns. I plant Eagle Seed Broadside blend during August and deer are readily attracted to it until the acorns are present everywhere. Deer tend to abandon all my food plot crops while there are plenty of acorns and then return to the plots when the acorns become less abundant.

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Will setting and checking traps scare deer away?

Question
I was wondering about trapping around the area where I deer hunt. My worry is that I will run the deer out by driving to check traps daily. Will that happen?

Kasey

I set traps very close to the private roads inside my property. Deer are conditioned and accept me driving these roads. I believe the benefits for trapping far outweigh any negative impacts. Unless vehicles are rare on the property where you hunt I doubt it will have a negative impact or alert the herd if you locate the traps close to the roads and obviously avoid food plots, etc. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv!

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How to conduct a trail camera deer survey in Illinois without attractants?

Question

I was wandering how you would conduct a trail camera deer survey without using any attractants? Here in Illinois we are not allowed to use any attractants so I was wandering what tool you would use on a survey.

Thanks,

Austin

It’s tough to get an accurate survey in Illinois due to the no attractants regulations. I put cameras on trails and scrapes (licking branches before season) and know the survey won’t be as accurate as if I was using an attractant. I simply look for areas where deer will frequent and do the best I can. I hope you have a great hunting season!

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Is there an alternative to no-till drilling food plots?

Question

Is there any method to mimic no-till drilling? We are thinking of spreading Antler Dirt, then broadcast our seed and then cover it with hay. Would this work?. We don’t yet have the funds for a no-till drill or for a tractor at this time. Like you, our land is rugged and rocky. Thanks for your input.

Matthew

One problem with spreading hay is you will likely spread weed and/or grass seed that you don’t want in your plot. I think in your case it will be less expensive and produce better results to simply spread more seed (to compensate for a lower germination rate) and hopefully spread the seed just before or during a rain. This works great for small seeds like clover, turnips, etc. It works good with wheat. It doesn’t work as well with soybeans and other larger sized seeds. This may mean focusing on planting forage that has smaller sized seed – not a bad program! Rain helps cover the seed by splashing dirt on the seed and burying the seed. It also allows the seed to germinate quickly so rodents and birds don’t consume the seed.

Best,

Grant

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Clover food plot maintenance: mow or don’t mow?

Question

I was watching your video on clover plots (GDTV #187). What is your recommendation on mowing? There are some that say mow and some that say don’t mow. If the plot is clean and growing good should you mow it especially if the clover is well over knee high? Is there a nutritional difference in the new young clover verses the mature clover?

Thanks,

Rob

Rob,

Yes, new growth is almost always more nutritious. That’s one advantage to mowing. However, mowing causes the crop much stress – so don’t mow if it’s dry and the crop is already showing signs of stress, etc. I also don’t mow if I wish to increase the number of plants in the stand and need the existing clover to produce seeds.

Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv!

Grant

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When is the best time to plant winter wheat in a food plot?

Question
I live in southern Indiana.Is it better to plant winter wheat early in September or toward the end of September into October? Also, can you do a burndown with glyphosate and then broadcast the wheat two weeks later right before some rain? Or do you have to work the ground up?

Wheat can be planted during a wide range of dates. The best time to plant depends on the mission. If there are lots of early season food sources in the area, then it may be better to plant wheat later (mid to late September) so it doesn’t mature past being palatable before deer start using it as a food source. I usually begin planting wheat during early to mid August depending on when soil moisture is available so the forage will be available and attracting deer by the opening of bow season – September 15th – as there isn’t any competing food sources in my neighborhood. Wheat seed, like all crops, needs good seed to soil contact. The existing vegetation can be burned down with glyphosate, but the seed needs to be placed in the soil with a no-till drill or the weed duff removed so the seeds will reach the soil.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What do I do now for my clover food plot?

Question

Thanks for the Monday morning videos. I have loved these for quite some time. Also, thank you for taking a positive stand on the Creator. I HAD a picture perfect crimson clover food plot 6 weeks ago. It fed the deer through the winter and was beautiful this spring. I went back this past week and the native grasses were 18 inches tall and completely blocking out the clover. The grasses are deep green in this area which tells me the clover is still there adding nitrogen to the soil. I think the grass is fescue. What do I do now?

Thanks,

Bob

Bob,

Thanks for the encouraging words! Crimson clover is a winter annual where you and I live – and has about finished its productive season by this time of year in the Ozarks (depending on precipitation amounts). I agree with your observations that the fescue is using the nitrogen provided by the crimson clover and doing well. If the crimson clover is all brown and made a hard seed already, then I would spray the fescue with glyphosate (generic Roundup) to control the fescue before it gets too tall. Once fescue is more than one foot tall it’s tough to control. You could use a grass specific herbicide like Clethodim, Select, Poast, etc., but those herbicides cost more and are not as effect as glyphosate at controlling fescue. If you do control/kill the fescue I’d plant a mixture of brassica, wheat, and radishes in the plot this fall about 60 days before the first expected frost. If the crimson clover has already made a hard seed, those seeds will germinate this fall/next spring and result in another great crop of clover for the early growing season!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What products do you use to spray grass in clover food plots?

Question

I watched the latest video on clover food plots (GDTV #187) and I am wanting to know what products you use to spray grass in clover. I am having trouble understanding how to mix the herbicide. I usually spray our field with a 3 gallon backpack sprayer. I try to spray them around the end of May to the first of June (our farm is in southern Tennessee). I usually spray post but I don’t quite remember how I mixed it last year. Any help would be much appreciated!

Drew

Drew,

I use Clethodim to control grass in clover. I follow all instructions on the label, including using a non-ionic surfactant. Clethodim – like most grass-specific herbicides work best when applied when the grass is 4-8″ tall. For the best results, following the instructions on the label! Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv!

Grant

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What is the best food plot mix to plant in a shady location?

Question

I really like your site and the information your team provides. I have read your food plot information but have a question for you. My hunt club is 400 acres. We have about 16 small food plots. A few food plots are around 7,500 square feet and the majority are around 1,200 square feet. Most are clover mixes and some brassica. I have a private area that has a good bit of pines around it. It is somewhat shady. It is about 1,200 square feet for a possible food plot. With the shade/filtered light what do you recommend as the best type of food source to plant here? I want it to be very active during hunting season. It is located in north Georgia.

Thanks for the help,

Peter

I find hidey holes (small plots off the beaten trail) great locations to kill mature bucks! 1,200 square feet is about 3/100 of an acre. Hence, it needs to be a browse tolerant forage, or time the planting/hunting closely so deer don’t consume all the forage before there are good conditions to hunt! White clover is fairly shade and browse tolerant. I suggest making sure all weed competition is removed (using herbicide or tillage) and heavily fertilize the area. Fertilizer will accomplish two goals including making the forage more palatable than other food sources and allowing the forage to continue growing even if there are lots of deer eating at the plot. Another great tool is a Hot Zone electric fence (you may have seen them used on GrowingDeer.tv). These solar powered fences keep deer out until you wish to hunt, then you can create a gap in the fence that funnels deer into a good shooting position.

Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv!

Grant

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Is prescribed fire good for hardwoods?

Question
I really enjoy your weekly show. I spend all of my free time doing the same things on our family property along the Red River near Shreveport,Louisiana. We have some mature/thin/no cover bottomland hardwoods that I would like to improve. I see that you burn your hardwoods a lot but all of the forestry guys around here say that burning hardwoods is bad practice because it makes trees susceptible to disease. I would also like to burn/improve cover in the cottonwood/willow dominant woods along the river bank. It seems like cottonwood leaves suppress understory terribly. Any suggestions?

Thanks!

Clay

Thank you for the kind words and for watching GrowingDeer.tv! I’m a huge fan of using prescribed fire. However, prescribed fire under a closed canopy – where limited sun is reaching the forest floor – won’t result in much growth of forbs or grasses. Oaks and some other hardwoods are fire adapted and low intensity fire rarely results in much damage to the trees. However, fire can damage cottonwoods and willows.  It’s best to define the mission and then learn what tools/techniques are appropriate for that mission.

Thanks again!

Grant

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What software do you use to manage your deer observations and camera images?

Question

What software do you use to manage your deer observations and camera images? Reconyx has some great software to manage deer camera images but I’d like something that also integrates all my deer hunt observation data. Also, I’m trying to purchase another 150 acres adjacent to my current 600 acres up in central Wisconsin. If successful, I’d be interested in discussing having you conduct a property evaluation analysis.

Best,

Jim

I do use the Reconyx software to manage all our trail camera data. I use ScoutLook to manage my hunting observation data – it’s by far the best system/program I or my clients have used to manage hunting observation and harvest data.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How will the recent cold weather impact the spring turkey hatch?

Question

First EHD, now the cold spring weather……I wish we could get back to normal on the weather front!! Anyway, based on the late spring and the cold weather and snow this past week, do you think that will impact the turkey hatch this spring? Thanks!

Dean

I doubt many eggs have hatched yet – so the weather that determines that success is yet to come. Turkeys smell a lot when wet and predators can easily follow hens to the nest – called the wet hen theory by Mississippi State – but it’s not a theory any more. I am sure many hens were killed on the nest last week.

Growing Deer (and turkeys) together,

Grant

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How do you prepare the Duke traps for trapping?

Question

I am very much interested in trapping raccoons. I have purchased a half dozen Duke dog proof coon traps to start, as per your videos. I have been to several web sites looking for trapping information on how to prep the traps and have come away confused. The last video with the pro trapper on trapping coyotes and bobcats was great and gave me more info on the sets but not on prepping the trap and tie-down cables, etc. This is where I lack the most knowledge. Any recommended reading? I’ve searched your FAQ, etc. but have not found what I’m looking for. Thank you for your help and I continue to enjoy all your video postings.

Thanks again,

Charles

I either use rebar to stake down my Duke DP traps or use a D loop (buy at Lowes, etc.) and some 1/8″ cable with fastened loops at both ends. I place the cable around a tree and through one loop and then fasten the loop to the chain on the DP trap with the D Loop. This is quicker and easier than driving stakes. The D Loop is a quick link that screws closed. The snap closed links will open if a critter or the cable hits them right. How the cables are made isn’t as important as insuring they will hold the critter when they tug. You may wish to view past episodes about trapping by looking in our archives.  Go to this link and page down and on the left you will see a Trapping section. In those episodes I think you’ll find all the info you are seeking.

Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv!

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What food plot seed would you recommend for around Ontario, Canada?

Question

I have been a long time follower of your site. If you had only a small amount of area to prepare for a winter feed plot, say 1/2 to 1 acre, would you plant it in soybeans or would a turnip brassica blend be more beneficial? I live in Ontario, Canada. We can have winter from mid November to early March. Soil conditions are ok for either forage – just wondering on your advice.

Thanks,

Darren

If your primary concern is to attract deer during the fall and provide quality forage during that season, I’d probably go with a turnip/brassica blend. This is especially true if there are a lot of deer in the area. A few deer can limit the pod production potential of soybeans in a 1/2 acre plot. Therefore, planting soybeans in that plot is a bit of a gamble. However the risk is limited as it’s easy to broadcast brassicas into heavily browsed beans about 45 days before the first frost – so a combo may be best! Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv!

Grant

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How much protein does a deer need and use?

Question

I have a question that I need your advice concerning maximum protein utilization requirements for whitetails. Does a deer have a % limit that can be metabolized and any amount over that provides no benefit? In other words if a deer has access to nutrients of 30 % + protein can it all be beneficial/utilized for physical development regardless of sex or age? Please share your thoughts with me on this topic if my question makes sense. Where do you get these answers to learn more about this topic? I sure enjoy your info on GrowingDeer.tv!!

Harrison

Harrison,

To my knowledge, Cargill (huge feed company that researches and sells to the whitetail market under the brand Sportsmen Choice) has the largest whitetail nutrition research program. There is lots of good information on their website.

Grant

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Do you have a month to month list of things I can do to help the wildlife?

Question

I have 40 acres in Rosebud, MO where nothing has been touched. It has just all grown up right now. Is there anything I can do in January and February to help the wildlife? Do you have a month to month list of things I can do to help the wildlife? I am wanting to start doing some food plots and some timber management in 2013 and any help would be deeply appreciated; this is my first time.

Thanks,

Ed

Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv! I would make sure I have plenty of Trophy Rock (60+ trace minerals) out during January. I want it out year round. I tend to create new hidey hole food plots and stand sites at this time also. There are no ticks and the woods are open so visibility is better! We produce a new show each week and all the past shows (160+) are available online. So can easily see what we are doing each week. Thanks again and best of luck with your habitat work!

Grant

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What food plot seed would you recommend for hunting over in October to November?

Question

I would like to put together some food plots in the area I hunt. This area has some pretty harsh winters and the deer migrate out of the area to large cedar swamps for the winter. Is there a seed conglomerate that you would suggest to plant for hunting purposes (Oct/Nov) that matures best before the deer exit the area (Dec)?

Thanks,

Gary

I like a blend of radishes, turnips, and forage brassicas. I like to plant them at least 45 days (preferably more) before the first expected frost.

Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv!

Grant

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What is the best food plot plants that are at a decent price?

Question

My parents and I would like to find some property this summer that we can have our ranch on and use for hunting. My question to you is, what is the best food plot plants that are at a decent price that you would recommend for the Caulfield area of Missouri?

Thank you for your time,

Edward

Edward,

The Eagle Seed soybeans give the most tonnage of high quality forage per dollar and effort. Several university studies have evaluated the forage quality and quantity of Eagle Seed forage soybeans. Remember to have a soil test and lime and fertilize appropriatly as all forages need good growing conditions to express their potential.

Grant

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Could I use a raccoon carcass to attract other predators to my trap line?

Question

I am a believer in recycling and using every part possible in the game I harvest. I recently trapped a big male raccoon and was wondering if I could use the carcass to attract other predators and if so what kind of set would be best? I know that coyotes will eat muskrats and groundhogs but those aren’t vegetarians.

Thank you,

Ryan

Ryan,

Yes, other predators are certainly attracted to the carcasses from your trap line! It seems most prefer bobcat – but will come to raccoon carcasses, etc.

Good trapping!

Grant

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What should I plant in the small, shady food plot at my hunt club?

Question

I really like your site and the information your team provides. I have read your food plot information but have a question for you. My hunt club is 400 acres. We have about 16 small food plots. A few that are around 7,500 square feet and the majority are around 1,200 square feet. Most are clover mixes and some brassica. I have a private area that has a good bit of pines around it. It is  somewhat shady. It is about 1,200 square feet of possible food plot. With the shade/filtered light what do you recommend as the best type of food source to plant here? I want it to be very active during hunting season. It is located in north Georgia.

Thanks for the help,

Peter

Peter,

I find hidey holes (small plots off the beaten trail) great locations to kill mature bucks! 1,200 sq feet is about 3/100 of an acre. Hence, it needs to be a browse tolerant forage, or you must time the planting/hunting closely so deer don’t consume all the forage before there are good conditions to hunt! White clover is fairly shade and browse tolerant. I suggest making sure all weed competition is removed (using herbicide or tillage) and heavily fertilize the area. Fertilizer will accomplish two goals including making the forage more palatable than other food sources and allowing the forage to continue growing even if there is a lot of deer eating at the plot. Another great tool is a Hot Zone electric fence (you may have seen them used on GrowingDeer.tv). These solar powered fences keep deer out until you wish to hunt, then you can create a gap in the fence that funnels deer into a good shooting position.

Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv!

Grant

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Why do southern Missouri oaks bear more frequently?

Question

Why do southern Missouri oaks bear more frequently and heavier crops than oaks in northern Missouri? It obviously isn’t soil quality. Do you think it might be minerals that are more readily available in the Ozark rock? The white oaks and swamp white oaks bear very infrequently in spite of releasing them with chain saws and even fertilizing. These oaks range from 20 to 100 years old. The only oaks to bear a decent crop are pin oaks.

Thanks in advance,

Ron

Ron,

I suspect it’s due to later frost dates in the north. Oaks produce flowers and the flowers make acorns. If the flowers are damaged by frost, they won’t mature into acorns.

Grant

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Which food plot variety is the best for hunting purposes?

Question

I would like to put together some food plots in the area I hunt. This area has some pretty harsh winters and the deer migrate out of the area to large cedar swamps for the winter. Is there a seed conglomerate that you would suggest to plant for hunting purposes (Oct./Nov.) that matures best before the deer exit the area (Dec.)?

Gary

Gary,

I like a blend of radishes, turnips, and forage brassicas. I like to plant them at least 45 days (preferably more) before the first expected frost.

Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv!

Grant

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What Are The Signs Of Chronic Wasting Disease?

Question

Tomorrow is the opening day for section 4E tomorrow in PA for the firearm season. I read that the disease is starting to spread into PA. What signs can I look for in deer when they are on the hoof and after I shoot one? If I see one that shows symptoms of it should I shoot it? What should I do with it if I do get one that has it, worst case scenario?

Thank You,

Logan

Logan,

The incidence rate of CWD will be very low in your area. The odds of you seeing or harvesting a deer with CWD are extremely low. I compliment you for desiring to be prepared! The best information about CWD can be found at the link here.

Deer in the early stages of CWD show no overt signs. They appear normal. Deer often incubate CWD for years. Deer that are closer to dying with CWD appear droopy, weak, not alert, etc. They will appear sick. Such deer (whether harvested or not) should be immediately reported to the local game and fish department. If you harvest such a deer, submit it to the local game and fish for testing.

CWD has never been shown to be transmitted to humans – NEVER. However, it’s always smart to wear gloves with dressing deer and not cut through the spinal column or other areas of the primary nervous system. I usually simply debone deer.

Don’t let the news scare you about CWD – check the link I shared and enjoy hunting!

Grant

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Do You Have Any Tips For Hunting After The Rut?

Question

Awesome videos! Do you have any tips for hunting after the rut?

Benjamin

I prefer to hunt food sources after the rut. It is best to hunt food sources where mature bucks haven’t been recently alerted. Bucks have been hunted for months now in most areas and are extremely cautious. If such food sources are available in your area, my next preferred location is on the edge of bedding areas.

Good hunting!

Grant

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Jumping Deer?

Question

The property I hunt on is not easy to get into areas where deer are without jumping some. It is a small track of 100 acres. I am not allowed to cut anything on the property like another road or paths. I was wondering by jumping the deer going in does it make then less likely to come back? I usually see deer but it is more midday after jumping some in the early light or dark. Do you have suggestions for getting in and out of places like this as well? Thanks for your help and enjoy the show.

David

David,

Most likely the deer you are jumping (alerting) during entry are at minimum going to be tougher to hunt – if they return by your stand. I’d probably try walking the very edge of the property and then cutting into your stand. This will likely be a longer walk – but will result in more deer encounters. I’d walk the edge that is most favorable from a wind direction. If you jump deer in the same location – I’d find a path that goes around (down wind) that area.

I hope this helps!

Grant

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Barbed Wire Fencing For Food Plots?

Question

I enjoy all the great information you provide on managing your deer herd and managing the land in general. I do have a specific question regarding barbed wire fences: is there a specific height the lowest strand should be to allow fawns to enter my food plots? I manage about 500 acres and the perimeter is not fenced. Therefore, I must fence off my plots from the surrounding landowners occasional free range cattle.

Thanks again for all the useful information.

Denton

Denton,

Folks in Texas commonly use solar powered electric fences to exclude cattle and allow deer access to plots. They typically use one strand about 20″ above the ground. However, if calves are present, two strands at 12″ and 24″ may be necessary. The best value in solar powered fences I’ve found is the Non-Typical Electric Fence. I use this to keep deer from over browsing small plots until I have time to hunt. Simply don’t use the outside strand and deer will readily use the plot while keeping cattle out.

Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv!

Grant

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Local Information and Help With Prescribed Fire?

Question

I hunt in western Illinois in a small town called Amboy. The 25 acre woods that I hunt is VERY thick and I was thinking about the prescribed fire that you always talk about. I’m not sure where to start with it or who I would contact about helping with it. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Dan

Dan,

You are wise to seek counsel about burning before using that tool! I’ve never burned in Illinois – and am not sure what resources are available for private land there. Most states have a Forestry Commission (name varies a little state to state). They usually offer prescribed burn classes, workshops, and some states offer assistance.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What Should I Plant in My Food Plot?

Question
What Should I Plant in My Food Plot?

This is the most frequently asked question I receive. However, it’s like asking what aircraft I use. I use a helicopter to count deer in the brush country of South Texas. However, a jet works much better to get me to clients’ properties in distant portions of the whitetails’ range. Both aircraft work, but are much better suited for different missions. Similarly many varieties of food plot crops will grow in different areas. However, specific crops should be selected based on a site-specific basis depending on the mission of plot, the soil type of the plot, budget, etc.  Throughout the year, the Growing Deer Team will frequently show and discuss what crops they use to establish specific food plots for specific missions (warm season, cool season, attractant, nutrition). As an example, I use forage soybeans from Eagle Seed for the last few years in plots where the mission is maximum warm season forage with great success. I use a different crop for small, attractant or cool season plots. My best advice to you in this limited space is to research several options and continue to watch here for more shows and tips on this exact subject!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Skin Growth Identification

 

Question
Grant,

I checked my trail camera this morning and found a video of a buck with a black ball hanging from its jaw area. Do you have any idea what it might be?

On another note, I really enjoy GrowingDeer.tv!

Thanks!

Jared

 

 

Jared,

Thanks for the kind words and for watching GrowingDeer.tv!

I suspect the “ball” on the buck is a fibroma that has become detached from the skin.  You may wish to check out the information online at The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks website.

If the deer is harvested and you find out something different, please let me know.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Cover Crop near Public Road

Question
I watched one of your videos about the soybeans that get very tall (4′ to 6′).  What type of beans are these and where can they be purchased?  My property isn’t very big and is almost all open next to a town road.  Currently I plant normal beans surrounded by corn.  I would like to get my hands on these beans so I don’t have to plant corn around the edges all the time.

Thanks,

Michael

Michael,

The forage soybeans I referenced are produced by Eagle Seed.  It is a family owned business, and that family has been selecting soybean traits for literally 40+ years.

However, I’m not sure you should plant the Eagle forage soybeans within sight of a public road.  Deer find the Eagle Seed soybean forage and pods very attractive.  I suspect that may make the deer more visible — at least the corn provides some cover.  This is especially true during the early growth stages when the soybeans are 4’+ tall.

A cover crop that I frequently recommend for similar situations is Switchgrass.  Switchgrass provides great bedding/escape cover and typically stands all winter (even through snow and ice).  I plant it next to public roads so poachers can’t see and don’t wish to walk through it.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What data should be collected while deer hunting?

Question
I just purchased your book, “Deer Management 101: Manage Your Way to Better Hunting”, and I’m reading it at this time.  You mention keeping a log or journal.  I have been keeping a hunting/work journal for years.  I never seem to have all the information I need on my journal pages.  When you are gathering information on your property what are the main things you record?  Thanks for all the great information you provide.

Ron

Ron,

I record the date, start and stop time of each hunt (morning and afternoon).  I record the time in military style so morning and afternoon are never confused.  I also record where I hunt based on a grid system, I don’t use stand names as stand names change from time to time.  I also record the number of bucks, does, fawns, and unidentified deer observed.  I differentiate between antlered bucks and male fawns.  I also am very careful to never assume!  If I can’t positively identify the deer, I list it as an unidentified.  Typically about 30% of the deer I observe are listed as unidentified.

I don’t record moon phase, temperature, etc,. as all of those data are available from the Nation Weather Service.  I find the basic information, such as I described above, is more useful than detailed information that doesn’t allow me to see the big picture.  On some of my research projects where I’m attempting to address specific questions, my staff and I collect additional data.

In addition to observation data, I collect harvest data (age, body weights, etc.).  I’m a huge fan of using trail camera surveys to monitor a herd’s population demographics.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Can corn be planted in the same food plot over multiple years?

Question
Grant,

I know from watching your video that you don’t recommend it…but is it possible to grow corn on corn each year?  Based on my property layout corn is the only crop that I can grow other than sorghum or Egyptian wheat that will provide food and screening from neighbors.  The area I’m thinking of is also a powerline easement that lies in a valley.  I was talking to local farmers and my local co-op and was told the only effect was a decreased yield.

Thanks.

Garry

Garry,

Food plot crop rotation is an excellent practice.  However, it is possible to plant corn in the same location multiple years in a row.  However, there is a much better chance of allowing the population of pests specific to that crop to increase significantly as their cycle is never broken by rotation crops.  In addition, different crops usually remove different micronutrients from the soil.  By growing the same crop at the same site year after year this will usually result in depletion of that micro nutrient.

Another consideration is if there is more corn being produced than the critters eat?  If so, it’s likely that deer in the local herd are not expressing their full antler or fawn production potential.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What is the best way to kill weeds and grass in food plots?

Question
I have a field that has not been planted in 8+ years.  It is now overgrown with weeds and grass as it is only cut once each summer.  What is a good weed and grass killer that is available to the general public that would still allow me to plant something this spring?

Larry

Larry,

Depending on the species of weeds, Glyphosate (the chemical name of Roundup) is probably the best option.  It usually works best if you use fire first to remove the duff (dead plant material) from the field (check out GDTV 20 for an overview of prescribed fire).  This allows the herbicide to make better contact with the fresh vegetation that will grow after the burn.  If a burn is not an option, mowing or even disking is the next best option.  No matter what option you select for preparation, it’s important to remember that Glyphosate is most effective when the new growth is relatively young and there is enough leaf surface area for the herbicide to make good contact with the plant.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What type of soybean and clover are best for whitetail food plots?

Question
Hi Grant,

I love the show and everything you do to help hunters and wildlife managers with our way of life.  What is your favorite type of Eagle Seed bean? I used Eagle Seed Wildlife Managers Mix last year and it work great.  I was wondering which type has the best browsing tolerance and which type produces the most pods?

What is your favorite clover type?  I am trying to figure out what would work best in my area, after a proper soil test and working the ground as needed.

What do you think would be the best fruit trees to plant for the deer?  I started about ten trees (mostly apple with a few pear trees) a couple years ago.

Thank you for your time and help in getting me and others on the right track.

God Bless,

Chad (central Pennsylvania)

Chad,

Thank you for your kind words!  There is a very detailed explanation of each variety of Eagle Seed beans on their website.  I use both Large Lad and Big Fellow per the recommendations on their site.  There are several good varieties of both white and red clovers.  I like clover varieties that put more energy into producing forage than stems.

Deer usually readily use the fruit from both apple and pear trees.  In fact, they readily consume most fruit that they have had experience consuming in the past.  Deer often take some time to learn to eat cultivars of fruit that they haven’t been exposed to previously.  However, by using different varieties of fruit, the tree plot may remain productive and attractive longer than when limiting the cultivars to apples and pears.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Broadhead Selection

 

Question
I’m a new bow hunter from Kentucky.  I just started bow hunting this year, I’m only 11 years old.  I don’t know too much about it.  What would be the best broadhead to deer hunt with?  I just bought some Rage SlipCam Rear Deploying Broadheads and I don’t know if they are very good or not. This year I used Muzzy Broadheads and I liked them.

Colton

 

 

Colton,

There are many great broadheads on the market!  I prefer a fixed-blade design so the chance of failure is minimal.  More importantly, I insist that the broadheads I use are literally shaving sharp.  Broadheads kill deer by causing rapid blood loss.  Dull broadheads cause more trauma to deer and therefore deer instantly secrete a hormone that causes blood to clot.  Deer are much less likely to secrete this hormone when hit by a razor sharp broadhead.  To illustrate, think about how much you bleed when you hit your finger with a hammer (not much) versus how much you bleed from a simple paper cut.  Paper cuts don’t cause trauma — so our bodies don’t release the clotting hormone.

I shoot a Blackout Fixed-Blade Broadhead from Bass Pro.  I had great results on multiple mature bucks using that head last year (GDTV 45).

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Crop Selection for Sandy Soil

Question
Hi Grant,

I recently purchased 40 acres in western Michigan and want to plant crops that will attract deer and enhance antler growth.  The land is sandy and mostly covered by pines and oaks.  However 3 to 4 acres are tree free. Would you recommend any particular nutrients and crops that I could plant in the tree free area that would help me accomplish my goals?  Thank you for your help, and keep those great videos coming!

Pete

Pete,

Congratulations on owning your own Proving Grounds.  Crops are simply nutrient transfer agents that serve to transfer nutrients from the ground to the deer.  So the first step is to ensure there are ample nutrients in the soil by collecting a soil sample and having it analyzed at a good soil lab like Waters Ag.  Check out GDTV 71 for a refresher on how to properly collect and label a soil sample.

I prefer forage soybeans over other types of forage because they are relatively drought resistant, easy to establish and manage, and very nutritious to deer.  Few other crops produce quality forage throughout the entire growing season.  If you are far enough North, white clover works fairly well, but doesn’t usually do well in sandy soils and won’t produce nearly as much tonnage as Eagle Seed forage soybeans.

Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv and the kind words!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What is the best spring food plot mix for small plots that will attract deer and turkey?

Question
I want to plant some food plots in northern Arkansas in an area with very sandy soil.  What is the best spring food plot mix for small plots that are 1/4 to 1/2 acre in size?  I’m trying to attract deer and turkey.

Thank you,

Justin

Justin,

I would try Eagle Seed forage soybeans.  They handle droughty conditions as well as any forage crop I’ve tried.  However, if there are a lot of deer in the area, the forage soybeans might be severely browsed in the smaller sized plots.  I use a food plot fence to protect the soybeans until they mature a bit and can handle browse a bit better.

Remember that all forage plants are simply nutrient transfer agents.  That is to say if the nutrients aren’t in the soil, the plants can’t transfer them to the deer.  That’s why one of the most important steps in establishing a food plot is to collect a soil sample and have it analyzed at a reputable lab like Waters Ag.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What to Plant in Food Plots

 

Question
In the recent frost seeding episode (GDTV 68) it was mentioned that only 5% of your food plots are planted in clover.  What is the breakdown of percentages for different plants in your food plots and what is the reasoning behind it?

Thanks

Dan

Dan,

I use prescribed fire, etc., to promote very good native vegetation at The Proving Grounds.  Most native vegetation is at peak production and palatability the same time clover is productive – during the spring green up period.  However, as the spring progresses and the temperatures warm and the amount of soil moisture decreases clover decreases in productivity and quality.  This time of year, soybeans usually provide much more tonnage and quality than clover.  So, I plant about 5% of my food plot acreage in clover and the remainder in soybeans and corn.  I usually plant 2/3rds of this acreage in soybeans and 1/3rd in corn as corn typically produces twice as much grain as soybeans.  This grain is critical to provide quality food during the winter or non-growing season months (again, when clover is unproductive).  Soybeans provide forage during the growing season and grain (their pods) during the non growing season, so they play a larger role in my deer food management program than corn.

Each property will have a different composition of native vegetation, neighboring ag fields, ratio of food plot acreage, etc.  However, the ratio of crops I described above is a good starting point that can be customized on a site-specific basis.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What Critter was Trailing Deer

 

Question
While walking through the woods the other day I noticed “paw” prints inside the deer tracks.  They were inside the deer tracks and every so many feet they took a rest and then proceeded.  What type of animal would track this way?

Thanks,

Greg

 

 

Greg,

That’s an interesting observation!  There is no way to positively identify what species made the tracks without seeing an image or very good description of the tracks.  However, based on the limited information, I would guess a bobcat.  Bobcats tend to walk in a very narrow path with each step placed almost exactly in front of the other.  In addition, they often stop frequently.  There are several good web sites that help identify tracks.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Where to Find Sheds

Question
Hey Grant,

In March there is still quite a bit of snow on the ground where I live.  I’ve looked for sheds my whole life but I have never found one.  Do the mice eat them as they fall or am I not looking in the right areas?  We have 250 acres and I look by our creek, under pines, up on ridges, near fence crossings, corn fields, even by rubs.  Do you have any tips to find a big shed?

Joe (Wisconsin)

Joe,

My wife, daughters, and I really enjoy shed hunting!  Through the years, we’ve learned to spend most of our time looking in areas where deer feed and bed during January through March.  We also search the travel zones between the feeding and bedding areas.  Rodents (squirrels and mice), coyotes and other critters will consume sheds.  However, they usually don’t consume the entire shed, especially the larger ones.  These critters tend to chew on the points and less on the main beams.  The biggest factor to finding sheds is the number of sheds in the area.  Therefore, in areas where a higher percentage of bucks from the herd are harvested each year, there will obviously be fewer sheds to find.  If you and your family are actively passing bucks on your land to allow them to mature, you should have a good opportunity to find some sheds!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Learning Curve for Deer

 

Question
Grant,

Last year we planted Eagle Seed soybeans with corn.  The deer browsed heavily on the bean leaves but they are not eating the beans.  The corn has disappeared but we are not sure which animals ate it.  It was probably birds.  Why didn’t the deer eat the soybeans?

Thanks,

Martin

 

 

 

Martin,

There are no agricultural row crops (soybeans or corn) in the county where The Proving Grounds (where I live) is located.  The first year I planted soybeans, deer didn’t consume the bean forage or pods.  However, some brave deer apparently took a bite the next year and it was obvious when the local herd learned to consume the forage and pods.  I don’t know if this is the situation in your area.  I would be surprised if the local herd has been exposed to soybeans and didn’t consume them on your property unless they had a strong association with danger and the food plot location.  I would recommend you plant Eagle Seed soybeans again and use a Reconyx trail camera to monitor usage.  Another great tool is a utilization cage.  The cage won’t provide data of which deer are using the plot, but will confirm if the soybeans that are growing outside the cage are being consumed versus the beans that are protected from consumption inside the cage.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What food plot varieties work best in Louisiana?

Question
What would be a good seed to plant in the summer that would carry through deer season?  I live in Washington Parish, Louisiana and we have dry and wet summers.  I have found that clay peas work pretty well before the season.

Robbie

Robbie,

Eagle Seed forage soybeans have been shown by several universities to produce more tons of digestible, high quality forage than almost any other crop that deer prefer!  Deer consume the foliage during the summer and the bean pods during the winter.  It can truly be a 10 month per year crop!  However, deer find these soybeans so attractive, that small-sized plots can be over-browsed when the seedlings are young unless protected by an electric food plot fence.

The size of the plot that won’t need any protection depends on the number of deer in the area and the availability of other high quality foods.  If your food plot is large enough, I doubt you will find a better crop!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Encouraging Deer to Change Patterns

 

Question
I hunt a powerline out of a box ground blind.  The powerline runs downhill about 150 yards and uphill 450+ yards.  I have two feeders set up 150 and 200 yards from my box stand.  I keep seeing deer at the top of the hill 400+ yards away.  What can I do to get the deer to cross closer to my stand?  Should I put up a metal stand further up the hill?

I took three paper bags and a cup of washing powder and put it around at the top of the hill. The deer still came out at the same place.  The smell of washing powder had no effect.

Rob

 

 

 

Rob,

If you have permission to hunt the hilltop where the deer prefer to travel, I would place a stand within range of that location.  Remember that being able to approach and leave the stand without alerting deer is just as important as the stand’s location.

If you don’t have permission to hunt the hilltop where the deer prefer to travel, can you determine why deer frequent that hill?  Is there a preferred food source there or nearby?  Is it close to a bedding area?  If so, can you create a better source of food or cover closer to your existing stand?  Deer usually seek out the best habitat features within their home range.  It seems there is something on the hill they frequent that is the most preferred source in their neighborhood.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What is the best hunting strategy for older, wiser, noctornal bucks?

Question
I have an awesome, huge, old, 10 point buck on our property (which has apple groves, a corn field, and food plots).  From the camera pictures he looks to be a 220 class.  His G2 is about 19″ long.  I have several trail cameras pictures where he appears between 11:00 PM and 5:40 AM.  I have strategically placed tree blinds but I don’t see him during shooting hours.  I know this is how he got so old and big but I’d really like to take him this year.  What should I do?

Michelle

Michelle,

That’s a huge buck and no doubt very mature.  There is lots of research that has shown some mature bucks rarely move during daylight hours.  This may be the behavior of the giant buck you are hunting.  I would attempt to limit human disturbance as much as possible to the area where you believe he is bedding and feeding.  I would only hunt this buck when conditions are favorable to the hunter (constant wind that favors the hunter, etc.).

Chances are you won’t see this buck much, so it’s critical that you are well practiced with your weapon of choice and all of your equipment is in perfect working order.  The personality of some bucks make them almost impossible to harvest as they are almost totally nocturnal, etc.  That’s okay, as the legendary bucks keep most of us inspired to keep hunting!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Spreading Lime by Hand

 

Question
In your video on frost seeding clover (GDTV 68), you show lime being distributed with a hand seeder.  Brad talks about a generic rate of 2 tons per acre.  How long does it take to spread that much lime using a hand seeder?

Doug

 

Doug,

I only spread lime on small plots (1/8th of an acre or so) by hand.  This still takes some time, but my spreader holds 50 pounds so I open the flow gauge up wide and spread each load quickly.  I think the effort is worth it as mature bucks readily use high quality forage in small plots that don’t receive much hunting pressure!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How do you attract deer to a trail camera site?

Question
Dear Grant,

What food should I put out for the deer?  I have a big trophy buck but I can’t get him to the camera.

Thanks,

Shelby

Shelby,

Deer seem to be attracted to whole shelled corn almost everywhere I work.  In fact, corn combined with a Trophy Rock is what I use to attract deer to camera sites when I do a camera survey for deer.  Even in areas where baiting is legal and mature bucks tend to avoid corn during the daytime because of hunting pressure, they visit the bait piles at night (a very good reason not to bait — as most deer rapidly learn to avoid bait during daytime).  If shelled corn doesn’t work, I suspect the buck you’re attempting to pattern has been conditioned to avoid bait.

I suggest you try a Trophy Rock, if legal in your area, or simply put the camera over scrapes.  During the few days just before the peak of breeding, bucks visit scrapes frequently.  Hence, scrapes can be a great location to capture images of a mature buck!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Maintain Apple Trees

 

Question
Hey Grant,

Our hunting property contains an abundance of apple and crabapple trees.  Over the past few years they have been growing larger and larger and producing fewer apples.  We have also seen a dramatic increase in the growth of pricker bushes and briars.  What is the best thing to do to allow the apples to grow?  Do deer like the prickers?  If not, is there a way to control them?

Dean

 

 

Dean,

Almost all apple trees should be pruned annually (during the dormant season).  They should be pruned significantly – enough that most folks squirm!  The specifics of how and how much to prune is very detailed.  The QDMA web site has some great articles about maintaining fruit trees.

Fruit trees are a crop, and benefit from being fertilized.  The blend and amount of fertilizer depends on the local soils and types of trees.

As I work throughout the whitetails’ range, I realize that different species of plants are often referred to by the same name.  So “prickers” could mean blackberries, hawthorns, multi-flora roses, hedge trees, etc.  However, in general deer may consume “prickers” during some portion of the year.  This is usually when the plants are young or have fresh growth during the early spring. The species you are referring to may be consumed by deer, but will not be enough to provide a high quality diet by itself.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How many trail cameras are needed to pattern whitetails?

Question
After watching your video about using cameras to pattern deer (GDTV 66), I am interested in how many acres your facility is and how many cameras you use to track the deer.  I really liked your example of deer movement patterns.  Can I, with a limited budget for cameras, produce the same results with one or two cameras?  Or did you have cameras at all the locations at the same time?

Keep up the good work!

Jeff

Jeff,

I like to use as many Reconyx trail cameras as practical given time and budget constraints.  The Proving Grounds (my place) is 1,500 acres and I try to use one camera per 100 acres when doing an official camera survey and I continue using them to scout with throughout the season.  Using rechargeable batteries has greatly reduced my operating costs!  I have other projects where we “leap frog” cameras as we don’t have a camera per 100 acres.  We get usable data, but not as good as using a camera per 100 acres simultaneously.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What is the size of the home range for white-tailed deer?

Question
Do deer stay within a 2 mile radius from where they are born?

I love your show!

Zack

Zack,

Some deer do stay within a few miles of where they were born and others move many miles.  There are several factors that determine if and how far a deer disperses from its place of birth.  Male fawns are usually forced to disperse from their mother’s home range.  If the doe dies before it is time for the male fawn to disperse, he tends to remain in the same area where he was born.  This is one advantage of harvesting does!

If the doe is alive and she forces the young male to disperse, the distance he will travel is influenced by the quality of the habitat, the local deer herd density, predator population, and several other factors.  As biologists learn more about deer by using GPS collars and other neat tools, we are discovering that deer are like humans in that each one is a unique individual.  The averages often quoted for home range size, distance of dispersal, etc., rarely closely represent a large percentage of the population due to the individual nature of deer.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What tips do you have on how to pattern mature bucks?

Question
I’ve been hunting this giant 10 point for a few years now on my parent’s property.  Just when I think I know his pattern, he changes things up on me.  Do you have any tips on how to pattern this buck?

David

David,

Mature bucks can be difficult to pattern.  I use Reconyx trail cameras to determine where deer are moving at night, then I use my knowledge of the area to predict where the mature buck will bed during the day.  I call this connecting the dots.  Based on this information, I locate stands in between the dots (travel zones).  Once a pattern is suspected, I limit my disturbance to the area and wait until the wind and other factors are to my advantage before hunting that buck.  I think that successfully patterning a mature buck is as much fun as harvesting one.

Growing (and patterning) Bucks together,

Grant

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Why Turkeys Ingest Grit

 

Question
I harvested a turkey that had iron in the bladder.  What could cause this?

Thank you,

TJ

 

TJ,

Are you referring to the crop – the white sack above the breast?  If so, what shape was the iron?  If small, they were probably picking it up as grit.  Turkeys ingest grit daily and the grit passes to the gizzard and is used to grind up food.  The grit basically serves as their teeth.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Help with Prescribed Fire

 

Question
I want to do a prescribed fire after I spray the weeds/grass. I intend to plant soybeans, clover, etc. for deer and turkey on approximately 30 acres of pasture. Who can I contact to assist me (I have no experience with prescribed fire)?

Thanks,

David (Arkansas)

David,

Prescribed fire is a great tool, but it can also be dangerous and even deadly. I helped combat a wildfire recently that was started by folks attempting to do a prescribed fire that didn’t have sufficient training, knowledge, or equipment. You are wise to seek assistance!

Many state and federal agencies provide workshops for prescribed fire planning and implementation. Some states require participants to be certified before they can help with prescribed fire. I’m not sure what the policy is in Arkansas, but a call to your local county or forestry extension office should provide you with the correct information and hopefully an opportunity for training! Don’t dare drop a match without help or adequate training!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How do you pattern bucks on public hunting land?

Question
I would like to try to pattern and hunt trophy bucks on federal land in the north Georgia mountains.  How should I go about this?

Owen

Owen,

I lived in north Georgia and South Carolina for several years and hunted the national forest lands in the mountains. It was great turkey hunting but a very difficult place to pattern deer.  The same is true in the Ozark Mountains where I grew up (and currently live).  Without habitat improvement, deer rarely have distinct patterns and certainly rarely use trails in such areas.  This is because food sources and bedding areas are not defined in contrast to the ag production areas of the Midwest.  However, I would spend the bulk of my time scouting, looking for fresh sign and general travel routes.  Within these travel routes I would concentrate on bottlenecks such as steep saddles in the mountains or bluffs that force deer to travel within a specific area.  Once these areas are located, they will provide quality hunting unless the deer sense the danger and change their patterns.

If you can successfully harvest deer regularly in the mountains of Georgia on public land, you can be a successful deer hunter anywhere!

Growing (and hunting) Deer together,

Grant

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Where is the best place to locate hunting stands?

Question
Is it better to set up stands on the edge of a food source or back inside off the plot?  My morning stand is back inside 150 yards but I’m not sure about where to set my evening stand.

Thank you, you are a great help to guys like me,

Kermit

Kermit,

I select stand locations based on how much hunting pressure occurs in the area.  If there are food sources that aren’t frequently hunted, then deer may come to them well before dark!  If that’s the case, then placing stands overlooking or near the food source is a good option for afternoon hunts.  If the food sources tend to get pressured, deer likely won’t approach the field until after dark.  In this situation, it’s best to place the stands between the food and the likely bedding areas.

I almost always opt for stands closer to bedding areas in the morning as the deer will likely be close to the food sources just before daylight and if I attempt to approach that area I will spook the deer.

The bottom line is that I prefer to place stands where I can access them without spooking the deer.  This means I’m approaching and leaving the stand at time when the deer are not close to that location.

Growing (and hunting) Deer together,

Grant

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Improving Bedding Areas

Question
Grant,

Is there anything you can do, planting or building up, to make deer bedding habitats better?

Keep up the fantastic work!

Brett

Brett,

Quality bedding cover for deer is cover that is thick from 0-3′ high and open above 3′.  It needs to be on south facing slopes if it is to be used during the winter.  If it is to be used during the summer it needs to have a partial canopy for shade and be on a north facing slope.  The size of the bedding area is also important.  Deer will use small areas (an acre or two in size) if that’s the largest block around, but prefer larger blocks so predators have difficulty isolating them.  I usually create bedding areas that are at least 10 acres or larger.

In addition to creating bedding areas, I make them sanctuaries.  That is I stay out of them except during the spring to shed hunt or to recover a shot deer during season.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Sources of Deer for Restocking

 

Question
What sub species of white-tailed deer is in Reynolds County, Missouri?  When my dad was young he said he talked to a man that was restocking deer out of Wisconsin for the Conservation Department.  What do you know about this?

Matt

 

 

Matt,

There is a good book available through the Quality Deer Management Association about the restocking of white-tailed deer throughout their range.  The authors collected records from most states, including Missouri, to document the sources of deer used to restock and how many were released.  It seems there are gads and gads of stories about the fabulous restocking effort, but the book by the Quality Deer Management Association is the best collection of accurate information on the subject that I’m aware of.  Most of the deer restocked in Missouri were from remnant populations in Missouri.  In fact, they restocked 2,292 deer trapped from within Missouri and 356 from Michigan and Minnesota.  There were most likely some unrecorded events of citizens moving deer as well.

It is interesting that deer in northern Missouri were mainly stocked from existing populations in southern Missouri.  The large difference observed now between body and antler development in northern Missouri compared to southern Missouri is simply the vast difference in land use practices (ag crops in the central and northern counties compared to predominate timber and fescue pasture in the southern counties).  Deer in most counties south of I-44 simply can’t express their potential because of the low quality food available in this area.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How Often to Check Trail Cameras

 

Question
Hey Grant,

I just set up a trail camera on a big deer run.  How often should I check it?  I don’t want to spook the deer that bed there.

Jonathan

 

Jonathan,

The frequency at which to check a trail camera without spooking the local deer depends on where the trail camera is located.  If it’s in a bedding area one trip is too much!  That’s why I never locate trail cameras in areas where I want to hunt or bedding areas.  Doing so would simply condition deer to avoid the area during daylight.  I prefer to set trail cameras in areas that are relatively open and easy to access (a few steps from a road, trail, etc.).  I get the images/data and then figure out where to hunt.  I rarely place a stand close to a trail camera location as deer are conditioned to avoid that area during daylight hours.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How big of a food plot is needed for soybeans?

Question
Grant,

What size field do you recommend if you don’t wish to have a fence around your soybeans?  I have been watching your videos and saw that some of your fields you listed at .9 or right above an acre did not have a fence around them.  Thanks for the help and I love the videos.

James

James,

The size of the plot necessary to produce soybeans is dependent on the number of deer locally, the productivity of the plot, and alternate food sources such as the quality of native browse in the area.  I do a lot of prescribed fire and have fairly high quality native browse.  The quality of the native browse at The Proving Grounds peaks about the time when the forage soybeans at my place are germinating, there is plenty of food and deer don’t decimate the beans during the critical stage of their development.  I have 53 acres of appropriately fertilized food plots and about 500 acres of productive native browse/cover areas in the 1,500 acres of The Proving Grounds. However, the neighboring properties are mainly unmanaged hardwoods and fescue pasture.  There is no row crop ag within counties of me.  So I provide the quality forage for all the deer in the neighborhood.  The ratio of plots to total acreage to produce quality deer will be more or less at different areas depending on the production of each plot and land use practices on the neighboring properties.  If the deer density is high and there are many other quality food sources when the soybeans are germinating, then plots even an acre or more in size would need to be protected with an electric fence to allow them to mature enough to not be damaged by browse pressure.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What effects the timing of buck scrapes and rubs?

Question
Dr. Grant,

While turkey hunting south/central Georgia this weekend I found plenty of fresh scrapes.  Why is that? Also, during the pre-rut we have bucks leaving plenty of scrapes, but just a few rubs.  Then in January after all the breeding is done our bucks go crazy rubbing trees.  Do you find that odd?

Keep up the good work!!

Kevin

Kevin,

Fawns in deer herds with access to good nutrition will reach puberty (approximately 70 pounds) in Georgia before and during the opening of the spring turkey season.  The female fawns that reach their first estrous cycle during that time of year cause the bucks to express rutting behavior.  Rutting behavior rarely occurs this time of year in areas without ag crops or good food plots.

I’m not sure about the timing of rubs on your property.  It could be that bucks are shifting their range a bit and more bucks are present on your property during January.  This could be caused by local farmers harvesting their crops and your food plots are providing the best food in the neighborhood during that time of year.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What is the correct time to plant spring soybeans?

Question
When do you typically plant your beans?

Weston

Weston,

I plant when the soil temperature at two inches deep is 60 degrees at 9:00 AM.  9:00 AM is usually when the soil temperature is the coldest throughout the day.  Soybeans germinate and grow rapidly at this temperature.  They will germinate when it is warmer, however, warmer temperatures result in more soil moisture evaporation and lack of moisture rapidly stresses seedlings.

I plan to plant my Eagle Seed forage soybeans during the next 10 days or so, depending on weather.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What food plot crops do you recommend for Nebraska?

Question
Dr. Grant,

I would like to commend you on the videos you are producing for the web site.  I have watched most of them since the NWTF Convention.  There is a lot of useful information in them for anyone wanting to get started in deer management.

I live in southwestern Nebraska and I have mule deer, white-tailed deer, merriam’s turkeys, rio grand turkeys, and a hybrid of the two turkeys.  I am running my operation on 7,000 acres of private ground.  Other than ag crops, what would you recommend planting for this area?  On the acreage I operate I grow corn and wheat in a rotation crop.  In the winter I plant a winter food plot mix consisting of turnips, winter forage peas and brassicas.  In the spring I plant several plots consisting of spring forage peas, red clover, yellow sweet clover, sudan grass (headless), oats (reeves), cereals, rye, turnips (purple top), and a hybrid brassica mix (grazing).

I am trying to hold deer year around.  It is not working very well as I have only a few resident deer that I see often.  In hunting season I see deer that I don’t see the rest of the year.  My mule deer herd which should be migratory is not and they stay pretty much year around.  I just don’t see them much in the summer months due to heat.  I know I have a coyote problem and I shoot them on site whenever possible.  I have shot about 40 in two years.

I am just starting out on the deer management and have a lot to learn.  I am reading and watching everything I can get my hands on for this topic (any recommendations here would be helpful also).  I do soil samples on every plot, usually from several areas through the plot then blending them together as recommended by our co-op. Our co-op then sends them to an Iowa university to have them tested.  I receive a printout of fertilizer recommendations along with lime and ph numbers.  Any advice you can send my way would be greatly appreciated.  I don’t have a lot of help and I pretty much do everything myself.  The rancher I work for allows me use of his equipment.  I am a whitetail freak, I love growing them, watching them and harvesting them with my bow and rifle.
Thanks for your time and consideration!

Bryan

Bryan,

Thank you for the kind words!  It sounds as if you have a good deer management program started!  You are correct that providing quality food is a good tool for minimizing the home range size of deer.  The biggest change I would suggest to your program would be to plant forage soybeans rather than the warm season blend you described.  Deer may consume some of the varieties you described, but none of them produce as much tonnage of quality forage as forage soybeans.  In addition, soybeans are relatively easy to establish and maintain.

I’m not sure I understood correctly, but it sounds as if you are mixing soil samples from all your plots and then submitting one sample to the lab.  If that’s the case, I strongly suggest you watch GDTV #71 about how to collect and label soil samples.  I think it will clearly explain a better system to help you produce better crops and better deer!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What should I do to create the best habitat for deer and turkey hunting?

Question
Hi,

I recently acquired 80 acres from my wife’s family.  We have a very high deer population and at least three packs of coyotes that are on or around our little piece of land.  The land was clear-cut about 5 years ago leaving some good hardwoods and some pines.  There are limited access routes at present but I will be changing that soon.  The property joins over 800 acres of land owned by family and it is only hunted by one family member.  Some of the 800 acres is also clear-cut.  I have 3 creeks that come together on my property then one creek runs into a big government lake situated on family land.  I need to try to groom my 80 acres to make it great deer and turkey hunting ground.  Where can I get the information I need to get started?  I grew up on a farm but I don’t have any equipment yet and I don’t know where to begin.  Please help.

Thanks!!!
David

David,

Congratulations on owning land!  I would start by analyzing what critical elements of deer habitat (food, cover, and water) are the most limited in availability on the surrounding properties.  From your note, it sounds like there is plenty of cover (clear cuts) and water (creeks and lakes) in the surrounding area.  However, you didn’t mention any cultivated food?  If there is no food except native browse in the area, then I would start by establishing food plots with high quality forage.  Deer are very selective foragers and will readily use the best forage within their home range.  From what I know about your neighborhood, adding high quality forage may be the best way to make sure the local deer spend a disproportionate amount of time on your property.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Using Hinge Cutting to Create Bedding Areas

Question
Grant,

I hunt a small 40 acre piece of land on the eastern shore of Maryland. The deer bed mainly in the phragmites marsh and travel through the woods (15-17 acres of mature pines and oak/sweet-gums) to the corn and bean fields to feed.  If I were to hinge cut specific identified trees to provide cover would this likely draw them out of bedding in the marsh and transition them to bed closer to the fields?  When hinge cutting and thinking about a prescribed burn, should I burn and then cut or cut and then burn?  Thank you for your time.

Wil

Wil,

Although phragmites is a very invasive weed, it does provide great bedding cover.  Deer prefer to bed in habitat similar to phragmites.  I doubt by hinge cutting some trees, you will change where deer bed in your area.  If the phragmites are controlled (by using specific herbicides), the deer might rapidly adapt to the next most suitable bedding cover.  On the other hand, if closed-canopy forest was the only cover type within the home range of those deer, they would readily adapt to using the hinged cut trees for cover.

If you do opt to hinge cut for the purpose of developing ground-level cover, you should burn first, then hinge cut.  The timing of fire is more important than the timing of hinge-cutting most trees.  Please always use caution when using prescribed fire!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Mineral in Illinois

Question
I really enjoyed your seminar at the NWTF Convention.  My question is about CWD in Illinois.  The DNR is shooting all the deer in areas where CWD has been detected.  There have been a couple of cases in JoDavies County where my farm is.  Should I put out Trophy Rocks?  Would that be dangerous for the herd?

Pat

Pat,

Thank you for the kind words!  I believe it is illegal to place any mineral supplement or bait for deer in Illinois (always check the local regulations).

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Controlling Bamboo

Question
Grant,

We have 230 acres of land with 50 acres in prime hardwood bottom land.  Wild bamboo has started growing in this bottom land and is about 4 feet high.  We want to control about half of this bamboo.  What chemical would you recommend to spray the bamboo to kill it and prevent it from spreading so fast?

Regards,

Tom (west central Georgia)

Tom,

I’m not aware of an effective herbicide for controlling bamboo.  This is especially true for the varieties that spread by runners.  The American Bamboo Society has more detailed information on their web site.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Do Deer Have a Learning Curve

Question
What do you know of the relationship between deer utilization of a food plot planted in a common local ag crop vs. a crop not grown in the area.  Are there observed delays in deer utilizing the foreign crop?  For example, I planted Iron Clay Cowpeas in a three acre plot and got zero utilization. With the exception of winter wheat there are no ag crops anywhere close to me.  I assume that the food source was foreign to the deer and that contributed to the lack of deer browsing.  Have you ever seen a delay in deer utilizing a crop that is not a common food source?  Will deer eventually figure it out after multiple seasons of planting?  Although I plan to plant Eagle Seed beans this year, local seed stores are baffled when I tell them that the deer did not eat the Iron Clay Cowpeas.  Thanks for any insight!

Jamie

Jamie,

I had the same experience when I first planted soybeans at The Proving Grounds!  There are no soybeans within a couple of counties in any direction of me, and during the first two years I planted soybeans I couldn’t tell that a single leaf had been removed by deer.  Now they readily consume them.  Deer certainly can and will learn to consume new forage types.  It’s up to the landowner to decide if the variety of forage he is planting has enough benefit to weather the duration of the learning process.  I felt (and still do) that Eagle Seed Forage Soybeans were so productive and high in nutritive value that weathering the learning process was well worth the wait!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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The deer are destroying my landscape. What should I do?

Question
My neighborhood is overpopulated with deer.  We live in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  On some afternoons there are 25 deer in my front yard.  Are there any special interest groups that might come and capture the deer to relocate them?  They can be very destructive.  They eat all our plants and flowers, tear up the yard while jumping around and have worn trails in our yard.  Shooting the deer is not well received in our community.  What would you advise?

Viney

Viney,

Unfortunately there are gads of neighborhoods throughout the whitetails’ range that are overpopulated.  Residents go from liking to see an occasional deer to some of the residents hating deer.  It is sad when deer are left unmanaged and then become hated.  They are beautiful creatures and deserve respect and to be appropriately managed.  I’m not aware of any group that will move deer.  Deer are owned by the state (unless part of a captive herd) and can only be moved, harvested, etc., by special permit issued by the governing state agency.  Problems similar to yours have been faced for years and the only solution to date is to harvest the excess deer.  There are several major metropolitan areas that accomplish this by hosting archery only hunts.  These hunts are strongly regulated, and often the hunters must qualify by taking a safety and proficiency test.  If you and your neighbors wish to address the problem I’m very confident this is the only route.  You may wish to contact the regional Missouri Department of Conservation office and seek addition counsel since this would be a state/local jurisdiction sanctioned event.

Whatever you do, don’t allow the neighborhood to lose respect for a beautiful part of God’s creation.  The deer are not at fault.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How do I manage my small property for the best deer hunting?

Question
Hi Dr. Grant,

If you have really small tracts of land, 80 acres to 1 acre, how would you go about managing it?

Shane (central Minnesota)

Shane,

I usually start by identifying if food, water, or cover is the most limiting factor in the neighborhood.  I do this by combining information gathered from using Google Earth and driving around the neighborhood.  If one of these critical habitat elements is limited in availability, I begin by establishing that resource on the property I’m managing.  I also attempt to determine the amount of hunting pressure locally, and how that might impact deer activity in the neighborhood.  I also insure when I hunt the property, my approach to the stand doesn’t alert deer to my presence.  That often means approaching using a non-direct route such as walking the border 1/2 way around the property so I can approach with the wind in my face.  Don’t forget that the smaller the property, the more critical sanctuaries may be.  Deer need an area where they always feel secure.  By providing this on your land, deer are more likely to spend the days on your property.  Having deer present on your property during daylight hours is a huge advantage!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What are your preferred herbicides for food plots and wildlife?

Question
I have been growing food plots for 28 years the old fashion way, till and broadcast.  I used very little herbicides until generic Roundup became available.  I have just purchased a no-till drill, GPS guidance system and tractor pulled sprayer.  I am leaping into the 21st century of wildlife management.  The vast array of herbicides gets confusing.  Could you break down the products that you prefer, how you use them, and possible alternatives?  Maybe a web tv segment would be the best format.  I look forward to your response and really like your website, it is very informative.

Jim

Jim,

Thank you for the kind words!  It seems there are new herbicides and new combinations of herbicides annually!  A great resource is “A Guide to Successful Wildlife Food Plots” by Dr. Craig Harper that is available at QDMA’s online store.  I primarily use glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) as I plant mainly Roundup Ready soybeans and corn.  If you plant a wider variety of crops, I think Craig’s book will be a great resource.

Growing Deer (and learning) together,

Grant

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Mule Deer Hunting Opportunities

Question
I want to take my daughter mule deer hunting.  Do you know of any good walk-in mule deer hunting?

Colin

Colin,

Several states have some great mule deer hunting opportunities, but generally there is a draw process to receive a tag.  Nevada has some exceptional opportunities, but the chance of drawing for a non-resident is very slim.  There are some great mulies in western Kansas, but tags are mainly limited to residents.  Kansas has a great walk-in program on private lands.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Percent of Habitat to Burn Annually

Question
Approximately what percentage of The Proving Grounds do you prescribe burn each year?  Would that number vary in a pine plantation?

Stan

Stan,

I burn approximately a third of The Proving Grounds annually.  The percentage varies based on weather and other factors.  The correct prescribed fire program for a pine plantation would depend on the type of pines, the age of the stands, other management activities such as herbicide and fertilizer, and the management objective.  I would mislead you by offering a simple answer.  Prescribed fire is a great tool when used appropriately, but can be extremely damaging and/or dangerous if misapplied.  If you work with a consulting forester, they may be able to offer you site-specific advice.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Where do Deer Drink during Freezing Conditions

Question
I was watching the most recent episode (GDTV 65) and you were mentioning the use of minerals at The Proving Grounds, even though the pond was frozen and forage was dry with little moisture.  Being from the Southeast, we don’t have to worry about long periods of sub-freezing weather and key water sources being frozen.  The view of the frozen pond and dried forage got me wondering.  Where do deer get their water requirements from in the winter months in areas where the water sources may freeze over for longer periods and all the forage is dried out?

Curious, but not envious,

Phil

Phil,

In the areas where I work, there always seems to be a spring, or some source of water that is not frozen.  I’m not sure if all the water sources at a specific location freeze if deer will consume snow, but I suspect they would.  Deer, and other critters, also will break through ice with their paws to get to water.  Once the water source is opened, it would be easier to reopen daily.  With deer surviving in areas of Canada where winter conditions are severe and prolonged, deer obviously can survive in much harsher conditions than what I experience at The Proving Grounds!  At least we have several months where mosquitoes are not a factor!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Separate Buck, Doe, and Fawn Bedding Areas

Question
Hello Grant,

I look forward to watching GrowingDeer.tv every week.  I’m sure it’s not easy, you and your team do a great job.

I’ve heard of people making separate buck bedding areas, doe bedding areas, and fawning areas.  What are they?  How would you make them?  I can’t imagine getting a wild deer to bed exactly where you want them to.

Thank you for your time.

Kasey

Kasey,

I’ve also heard of buck, doe, and fawn bedding areas.  However, I have no idea how to create gender-specific bedding area.  In areas where bucks receive more hunting pressure than does, they tend to bed in areas with thicker cover.  However, in areas where the harvest pressure is even, I’ve never noticed a difference between the characteristics of a buck or doe bedding area.  Bucks will typically be more solitary than doe/fawn groups.  I’ve certainly never noticed fawns bedding in different areas than does once the fawn is mobile and able to follow the doe.  I’m skeptical of these claims, but am willing to learn if anyone wishes to share!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What tips do you have for successfully deer hunting on public land?

Question
Grant,

I’m not as fortunate as most hunters on having my own land to hunt.  So I must resort to hunting local game lands.  The local game lands do have some corn food plots on them.  What should I look for so that my 10 year old son and I can be more successful hunters?

Thanks and keep your videos coming,

Tracy

Tracy,

Hunting pressure can be a deterrent to daytime deer activity.  It’s a given that many hunters will hunt very near the food plots.  However, it’s often worth walking the extra distance to get away from where most hunter activity is located.  In addition, consider when and where the bulk of the hunters will be moving and consider using that disturbance to predict where and when deer will be moving.  There are many great hunting opportunities on public land.  With a little scouting of both deer and fellow hunters, you and your son should be enjoying some successful hunts!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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When to Hunt Deer in South Carolina

Question
I am from the Northeast and am going to hunt in South Carolina.  Do you think the third week of October would be a good time for deer hunting?

Bob

Bob,

Daytime deer activity is strongly influenced by daytime temperatures everywhere, but especially in the South.  I’ve had some great hunts, and some total bust hunting during mid to late October in South Carolina (I lived there for many years).  I realize this doesn’t help you plan vacation days.  However, weather is a huge factor that influences daytime deer activity.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What is the best food plot seed for wet, clay soils?

Question
Hi Grant,

I live in New Jersey and want to start a food plot.  I have clay soil and it’s very wet.  What would be some good things to grow in this soil to attract whitetail deer?

Thanks,

Nolan 

Nolan,

Most forage crops don’t do well when their feet are wet.  White or ladino clover is about as tolerant of moist soils as any food plot crop that I’m aware of.  Food plots that are oriented east and west will receive more sun and evaporation than those oriented north and south.  By ensuring the plot receives as much sun as practical each day will help remove some of the excess moisture.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Which Side Sheds First

Question
I have noticed antler sheds earlier than normal on our property.  Most of them are young bucks but what is really strange is the 7 I found were right sides only.  I asked my friend about this and he wasn’t sure what it meant but told me to ask you!! Is this something we should be concerned about as we move forward?

Dave

Dave,

I’m not aware of any research that reports which side deer shed first.

From bucks I’ve watched in captivity, I’ve never noticed a bias for shedding the left or right antler first.  I strongly suspect your observations are coincidental.  Keep looking and you will probably find the other sheds from those bucks.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Attracting Bucks to Small Acreage Tracts

Question
I have about 10 acres of land and all I see are does.  How do I get the bucks to come out?

Logan

Logan,

Bucks need food, cover, and water.  A great technique is to use one of the free mapping services like Google Earth on the internet and study where sources of food, cover, and water are located in your neighborhood.  If any of these critical habitat components are missing, such as high quality food, then attempt to establish that where you hunt.  Remember that deer would rather survive than eat, sleep, or drink, so be very careful how you approach your hunting location.  Always try to have the wind in your face, even if you have to walk around the border of the property and then enter to your stand from the backside.  Being able to approach a stand without spooking deer is as important as the stand’s location.

Growing (and hunting) Deer together,

Grant

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Feeding Corn to Deer During the Late Season

Question
Hi Grant,

I love your show and the way you are not just killing deer, but managing them.

I’ve been hearing a lot about not putting out corn and corn piles for the deer later in the year.  People are saying the deer can’t break it down and they burn more energy then they get.  Is this true?

Thanks for the shows,

Joe

Joe,

Deer don’t really digest any foods.  They ingest the food, and then bacteria in their rumen (gut) digest the foods.  These populations of bacteria are somewhat specific to the type of food they breakdown.  For example, if deer haven’t had access to corn, the bacteria that digest starching foods will significantly decrease in population.  If a deer ingests a lot of corn while the appropriate bacteria populations are low, the corn can’t be digested and the deer will die with a tummy full of corn.

If the deer haven’t been consuming corn, then either don’t start or start feeding only very small amounts.  The deer will literally have to grow the appropriate bacteria before gaining any benefit from the corn.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Establishing Chicory

 

Question
Dear Grant,

I planted a one acre food plot with BioLogic Maximum last August.  It was the best food plot I have ever planted as far as growing a full lush field that really attracted deer.  My 15 year old son and I both killed very nice 2 1/2 year old bucks off this field with compound bows, one 9 pt. 176 lb. and one 8 pt. 165 lb. buck.  A friend also scored on a 2 1/2 year old 8 pt. in archery season, as well as two relatives killing nice 2 1/2 year old 8 pt. bucks in rifle season.  All of these on just 80 acres in southeast Pennsylvania, 3 of them off this food plot.

It worked so well I was tempted to replant the field again this fall, but decided instead to take advantage of the present conditions of the ground to do a frost seeding, saving time and money on tilling.  I will plow and plant my other food plot with BioLogic Maximum this fall.  I am planning to frost seed a mix of white ladino clover and red clover, a mix that has worked for me in the past.  However, I would love to also establish chicory or alfalfa in addition to the clover mix.  In the past, I had once tried frost seeding both chicory and alfalfa with poor results.  Is it worth trying again, or is there something else you recommend frost seeding?  Based on my results with conventional planting, I would like to establish chicory in with the clovers.  I do not have a no-till planter and must till before spring or fall plantings, which is a lot of work.

I appreciate any advice or recommendations you can give.

Thanks,

Dan

Dan,

Wow – sounds like some great hunting on your farm last season!!  Congratulations!

Clover is easily established using the frost seeding method (GDTV 68).  However, alfalfa rarely can be established as well using that technique.  Alfalfa germinates best when there is a firm seedbed and very good seed to soil contact.  This is rarely the case when frost seeding.

Chicory is a softer seed and often will crack or rot before germinating when planted when frosts are still occurring.  To establish a good stand of either alfalfa or chicory, you will need to either till or use a no-till drill once the soil temperatures warm up a bit.  Many counties rent no-till drills so be sure and check with the local county extension or NRCS office.

As I write this, there is snow covering portions of Pennsylvania.  I’ve established great stands of clover by spreading it directly into late season snows and letting the seed be placed by the melting snow.

Growing Deer (and crops) together,

Grant

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Eagle Seed Soybeans in Virginia

Question
I want to plant some Eagle Seed Roundup Ready soybeans.  I live in central Virginia.  I understand that Eagle Seed has a number of Roundup Ready varieties including Habitat Haven, Big Fellow, Wildlife Managers Mix, and others.  Which would you recommend for my location?  Do all the mixes have blends for different growing regions (i.e. South, Midwest, etc.)?

Tom

Tom,

I’ve planted all of those varieties of Eagle Seed forage soybeans at that latitude with great success!!  There is a great description of each variety/blend on their website.  I think you will be amazed at the production of Eagle Seed’s forage soybeans.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Establishing Native Warm Season Grasses

Question
Hello Grant,

I purchased a small farm in southern Iowa last spring.  I had a small field planted in corn but I would like to plant this same field in switchgrass.  It’s a low lying field with a 58 CSR.  What would be the best procedure in accomplishing this?

I enjoy your website.  It is very interesting and educational.

Ty

Ty,

I’ve had my best results establishing switchgrass following a crop of Roundup Ready soybeans.  The Roundup Ready soybeans add nitrogen to the soil and allow weeds to be controlled.  The following spring, I simply use Roundup to remove any weeds and no-till the switchgrass seed into the weedless field.  Corn uses most of the available nitrogen, and therefore the switchgrass will be slow to become established and allow more weeds to develop.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How should we manage our hunt club food plots in an area that is heavy timber?

Question
Grant,

I’m a member of a hunting club that owns 700 acres of strictly timber ground in northern Pennsylvania.  We have the necessary sanctuaries and we are adding 12 acres of food plots in the center of the property.  What is the most profitable food that will hold deer and increase harvest opportunities?

Also, have you ever tried to no till brassicas in late summer into clover plots?

Keep up the great work!!

John

John,

The 12 acres is only 1.7% of the property in food plots.  If the remainder of the property is closed canopy forest, then clover might be the best option.  Do the existing plots receive a lot of browse pressure?  If so, more palatable crops such as forage soybeans would most likely be over browsed unless they were protected by a food plot fence.

I have used a no-till drill to seed brassicas into an existing clover stand.  This technique works well if the clover is dormant from drought conditions.  The brassicas will struggle if the clover is lush and blocking the sun from reaching the soil.

No matter what you plant, it’s critical the crops are as productive as possible given the food plot to timber ratio.  I recommend you do a soil test annually and request the lab base their recommendations on a maximum yield.

Finally, I also recommend using a utilization cage in each plot so production versus utilization can be compared.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What can I plant in a food plot that is pretty to neighbors and attractive to deer?

Question
Grant,

I own 14 acres in central Missouri.  My land is surrounded by a mixture of mature woods and pastures.  There are no ag crops in the vicinity.  I do have a couple of small food plots on my land, but I’m really trying to figure out the best thing to plant in the 2 or 3 acres of fields I have that are currently fescue.  These fields are really an extension of our yard, so how they look is important (at least to my neighbors!).  Ideally, I’d like it to be something perennial.  I mow these patches two or three times per year.  Would rye grass be a better option than fescue?  What could I plant that would benefit the deer in this situation?  Thanks for your help and the incredible wisdom that you share with deer nuts like me!

Todd

Todd,

I’m not a rye grass fan.  However, heavily fertilized rye grass is more attractive and will provide more nutrition to deer than fescue.  Given that you want something that looks like turf that deer will consume, rye grass is a viable option.  If it was my yard, I’d plant soybeans, make the deer happy and let the neighbors worry about their own yard.  Obviously, I’m more of food plot guy than a yard guy — just ask my wife.

Growing Deer (and relationships) together,

Grant

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Roundup Ready Alfalfa

Question
What are your thoughts on planting Roundup Ready alfalfa for deer?

Brady

Brady,

Roundup Ready alfalfa is not labeled (not legal) to plant for wildlife consumption.  This has nothing to do with Roundup being toxic to wildlife, but rather Monsanto did not pay for research to get the government to label the product for wildlife consumption.

I don’t like alfalfa as a food plot crop.  All varieties of alfalfa require intensive management to be productive.  I like hunting near alfalfa that farmers establish and maintain.  However, it requires more equipment and work than I and most food plot farmers can expend.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Using Slay on Clover

Question
Dr. Woods,

I so enjoy all of your programs and appreciate you publishing them!  I have enjoyed your book as well!  If you have time to respond to one quick question, I thank you.  Can we use Slay on Durana and Ladino clovers?

Hope you’re doing well and I send my best to you.

John

John,

You can use Slay on those varieties of clover.  However, you may find very similar chemistry in ag stores that are priced much more reasonably, depending on local supplies.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Average Amount of Antler Growth Expressed by Age Class

Question
Grant,

On average how much does a buck usually gain in antler growth each year?

Greg

Greg,

I’m glad you phrased your question by starting with “on average…”  Each buck is an individual just like humans.  For example, I was the tallest kid in my first grade class.  However, I didn’t even make the freshman basketball team.  Different individuals (human or deer) will express their growth potential at different ages.  However, Mississippi State published the following data years ago that represents the average amount of antler growth potential expressed by several bucks in their research program.

I suspect the trends would apply to free-ranging, wild herds as well.  There is no doubt about it, allowing bucks to mature to at least four years of age will allow most bucks to express more of their antler growth potential.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Row Spacing for Soybeans

Question
Dr. Grant,

First off I want to tell you how much I enjoy the GrowingDeer.tv series.  The series has really been educational for me, not to mention entertaining.  I look forward to your email every Monday, keep up the great work.

My question, what do you use as your row spacing for Eagle Seed beans?  I have heard 30-36″ but I was hoping to use a 7.5″ drill.  The drill on your show looks to be narrower than the 30-36″.  The field I am planning on planting is in north-central Wisconsin.  The field is going to be 3 acres of alfalfa, as it has been for the last 5-6 years.  I have not taken a soil test yet so I don’t know the specifics, but I think it should be pretty good.

Any ideas or helpful hints would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Ryan

Ryan,

Thank you for the kind words!  I also plant soybeans with a no-till drill and use a 7.5″ spacing.  This actually gives each bean more room around the plant and allows for better utilization of sun, fertilizer, and soil moisture.  This spacing is not good for a typical combine, but is great for four-legged combines (deer) that I want to harvest the crop!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Type of Forage Soybean

Question
In GDTV 64, Winter Storm Forage, you show and discuss soybeans.  What specific brand and type of beans are those?

I really enjoy your videos!

Thanks,

Danny

Danny,

Thank you for your kind words!  The soybeans in that episode were Eagle Seed forage soybeans — the Large Lad variety.  Eagle Seed is the only soybean breeder that I’m aware of that sells group 7 (live until it frosts) forage soybeans that produce as much tonnage of forage and tremendous pod production as well.  They’ve literally won forage production tests at several universities.  Simply stated, they are a private company that has been family owned for 40+ years and no other soybean breeder has created such great quality forage soybeans.  Eagle Seed is literally decades ahead in selecting traits that make them the ultimate forage crop!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Aging Deer by the Lower Jaw

 

Question
I have a deer jawbone I saved from my son’s buck a few years ago.  Can I send it to you and have you age it?

Kable

Kable,

Unfortunately, I don’t accept jaws to age.  If I did, I would receive literally 1,000’s through the mail.  I hope there is a good biologist close to you that can provide an accurate estimate.  There are gads of good illustrations and descriptions about how to age deer using their lower jaw online.  One such source is the University of Missouri Extension.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Identify the tracks

Question
While walking through the woods the other day, I noticed paw prints inside the deer tracks.  They were inside the deer tracks and every so many feet they took a rest and then proceeded.  What type of animal would track this way?

Thanks,

Greg

Greg,

Without clear pictures, I can only assume based on the description provided.  Bobcats typically place their paws very close together and their hunting style often includes stopping frequently.  My best guess would be the critter was a bobcat.  Were the tracks more circular?  If so, that also indicates the critter was a bobcat.  Most other predator tracks are more oblong or even rectangular.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Crabgrass as Deer Forage

Question
Will deer eat red river crabgrass?  I plan to plant a food plot in cowpeas but was thinking about adding the crabgrass also.  Our ranch is about an hour and a half north of Abilene, Texas.

Brad

Brad,

Deer will eat almost anything if they are hungry enough and nothing else is available.  However, there are much better forage options in most areas than any variety of grass.  Deer simply don’t have the correct bacteria in their gut to digest grass as efficiently as cattle.  The grass would simply act as a competitor to the cowpeas — competing for water and nutrients that the much more preferred forage could use.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How does Lablab rate as a food plot crop for whitetails?

Question
Hey Grant,

I’m starting to plan spring planting and I was trying to decide if lablab would be an asset.  I live in mid-Georgia and I have never used lablab or know anyone in the immediate area who has.  I already use beans, chicory, peas, wheat, oats, grain, and sorghum in different combos (usually on a base of clover).  Would lablab benefit overall?

Thanks,

Floyd

Floyd,

Lablab is an annual legume somewhat similar to soybeans.  It usually doesn’t produce as much tonnage as Eagle Seed forage soybeans (selected specifically for high quality forage production).  It is also more fickle to establish (soil temperature, etc.) and weed control is tougher because lablab is not Roundup Ready.  For these reasons and more, I prefer forage soybeans as an annual legume for food plots.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Using Genetics to Match Sheds

Question
Hi Grant,

I was just wondering how one would go about having samples taken from sheds to see if a deer is a match from one year to the next.  Also, is this process costly or time consuming?

Thank you and keep up the great work!

Bobby

Bobby,

Most folks that attempt to use genetic testing to match sheds (bones, etc.) remove a small amount (the dust from a drilling a small hole) from the bases.  The most recent cost I was quoted for such research was about $65.00 per sample.  The samples must be collected, labeled, and shipped appropriately so the lab can process them efficiently.

Growing (and researching) Deer together,

Grant

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What advice do you have for students considering a career as a Wildlife Biologist?

Question
I have grown up reading articles of yours in magazines.  I am now a sophomore in college and I want to be a wildlife biologist that focuses on deer management.  You’re an expert in this field so I was wondering if you could give me some advice on pursuing this career.

Colin

Colin,

Thank you for the kind words!  I think the key to being successful in any field is to have a passion for the line of work and seek the best information and training to prepare.  To be a wildlife biologist that focuses on deer management, I strongly suggest you find ways through internships, volunteering, etc., to gain experience and make relationships with practicing deer managers.  I consider gaining experience just as important as the coursework associated with obtaining a degree.  One without the other will leave some gaps in your preparation.  I’ve addressed different aspects of this before and those comments can be found by searching the Ask Grant and blog entries on this site.

I look forward to working with you someday soon!

Grant

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Normal Date for Bucks to Shed

Question
I was out coyote hunting in northern Indiana on March 5th and I saw a nice 12 point buck that had not lost any of his rack yet.  Is this normal?

Thomas

Thomas,

In general the healthier bucks are the longer they will carry their antlers through winter.  I’ve seen bucks that haven’t shed during mid-April.  It sounds like you were blessed to observe a very healthy buck!  Bucks that don’t have enough quality food or that have been injured will typically shed much earlier during the winter.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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College Class Work

Question
I am currently going to college to obtain a degree in wildlife biology and conservation.  I am interested in knowing what classes you took and any recommendations or suggestions you’d have for me as I pursue this major.

Thanks,

Ryan

Ryan,

A heavy load of the sciences (biology, botany, forestry and wildlife) are a given.  However, it seems many students that desire to enter the wildlife field don’t realize the amount of writing and oral communication necessary to be effective.  I strongly suggest you, through course work or practice, attempt to become a very effective written and oral communicator.  I am very confident communication skills will improve your life no matter the profession you choose.

Growing Deer together

Grant

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Why Bucks Shed

Question
A week ago one of my buddies found a dead buck in his woods that had already lost his antlers. He found one of his sheds a few feet away and another in a brush pile 50 feet away.  The buck was either a two or a three year old.  Is there any reason to why this would be?

Evan

Evan,

Wow, that’s a neat observation!  I doubt anyone can explain exactly what happened to that buck. However, in general, bucks shed when their body conditions drops below a certain threshold (release of antlers is caused by a change in hormone levels).  The buck was obviously not in prime condition during late winter.  As to exactly what happened, I doubt we will ever know.  Some theories would include he shed and was coincidentally killed by a predator or was injured which caused him to shed and was trying to find cover in a brush pile and died from his injuries.  Again, these are simply theories!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Cover Crop for Plots in Canada

Question
Hi Grant,

I live Nova Scotia Canada and I’m replanting a 5 year old 1/2 acre clover plot this year.  I’m preparing it for an early August brassica planting for the fall.  I was thinking on planting it in something this spring rather than tilling it in and then replanting with brassica.  What would you recommend to plant right now that would give the deer some feed over the summer but act as a manure for my late season planting?  I was thinking on some fall rye and annual clover.

Thanks,

Bob

Bob,

Cover crops are extremely valuable tools.  In fact, there is a new field of study of cover crops.  Different crops provide different values such as extracting more nutrients from deep in the soil to fracturing hard pans.

Unfortunately, some of the cover crops are not palatable to deer, especially during the summer months.  One that I like to use up north is buckwheat.  Buckwheat is an annual flower forage crop that deer readily consume.  Any portions that are not consumed can be tilled back into the soil as a source of organic matter.  Soybean forage also makes great organic matter.  For this purpose, it is not necessary that the plants produce pods.  This is a great application for rapid growing Eagle Seed forage soybeans.  Their aggressive growth will provide lots of quality organic matter during a short timeframe.  However, they may need to be protected with an electric fence in a plot that is 1/2 acre in size.

Remember that even cover crops need fertilizer to express their growth potential.  This is especially true if the cover crop is to double as a source of forage for deer.  Make sure to have the soil tested at a reputable lab, I use Waters Ag, and apply lime and fertilizer as recommended for the crop.  You can inform the lab that you will be planting buckwheat followed by brassicas for a custom recommendation.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Designing an Experiment

Question
I’m going to college to become a wildlife biologist, do you have any advice? I am also going to run a study on how barometric pressure affects deer, any thoughts?

Neil

Neil,

I’ve addressed several questions about becoming a wildlife biologist.  You might check out my answer to Getting Involved and use the search feature to find more answers.  I strongly believe that most folks can be successful at any occupation that they are passionate about.  That doesn’t mean entering or advancing in that occupation will be easy or profitable.  You should know that passion about hunting is not the same as passion about being a wildlife biologist.  The two certainly complement each other.  However, many wildlife biologists (including myself) spend more time helping other hunters and landowners than we do hunting.  My strongest suggestion for you would be to spend a summer as an intern with a wildlife biologist that works in a specific area of your choosing.  Spending a summer, even on a volunteer basis, is much less expensive in terms of dollars and time, then finding out that being a wildlife biologist was a bad choice.  I believe that internships or similar programs are extremely beneficial to folks deciding which career path to take.  I volunteered a summer through the Student Conservation Organization when I was a junior in college.  I worked for the Bureau of Land Management at the Elko, Nevada District.  I was only paid $25 per week and provided a small trailer for living quarters.  It was a fabulous experience.  My best counsel for you is to do an internship and see what being a wildlife biologist is really like before making a decision for your degree program.

Designing studies that provide meaningful results takes a bit of time.  Please take time to consider the question (hypothesis) you wish to address and be honest about all the variables that may impact the results.  Probably the biggest flaw in most studies is not accounting for all the sources of variability.  Results without understanding the variables often lead to erroneous conclusions.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Past Episodes of GrowingDeer.tv

Question
Hi Grant,

Great job on GrowingDeer.tv, I can’t wait until Monday when I get the new video to watch.  I’m wondering if you have the trapping video available from 2010 (GDTV 10)?  I’ve started trapping raccoons and I remember that you had some great information.

Thanks,

Dan

Dan,

Thank you for the kind words!  All of the past episodes of GrowingDeer.tv are available on the website.  Simply click on the word “videos” on the top navigation bar.  You can find past episodes by topic, or review all the past episodes on this page.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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What food plot variety would you suggest for a small plot designed for hunting turkey and deer?

Question
Grant,

I have a 1 acre ridge top area inside the woods that I want to put a hunting plot in for next hunting season.  I am in northwestern Missouri and am surrounded by corn and beans. Should I plant the 1 acre opening with Eagle Seed soybeans or should I plant half turnips and half wheat?  I’m concerned about 1 acre soybeans making it through without too much deer damage, but I am surrounded by commercial beans.  Just curious what crop you would suggest.  Thought a wheat plot would also double for turkey hunting, but deer would be my main target.

Blessings,

Brandon

Brandon,

Eagle Seed soybeans will remain green and growing much later in the fall than most production beans.  That’s positive for most hunters in most situations because once the local production beans turn brown the deer tend to find the Eagle Seed soybeans very attractive.  However, if the local deer population is high, then the beans could be damaged by excessive browsing in a small plot.  The ultimate design in the situation you described is to use a food plot protection fence and protect the Eagle Seed forage soybeans until you wish to hunt.  Then open the gate and allow deer access to the beans.  If there are any pods left, the plot would be very attractive to turkeys the following spring.

I have the same concern about turnips if the local deer population is high.  Once deer decide turnips are palatable, they can remove the forage and bulbs in just a few days in the situation you described.  The forage varieties of Eagle Seed soybeans have been consistently shown to produce five tons or more of forage per acre in university trials.  That’s not counting the pod production.  So, if a food plot protection fence is used it’s tough to find another forage that will provide that much green forage during the early bow season plus 2,600 pounds (at a production of 40 bushels per acre) of high quality grain during the winter.  For comparison, wheat produces 1,200 to 1,600 pounds of digestible forage per acre.  Given this, it’s easy to see why deer populations are higher and in better health in ag production areas versus non-ag areas.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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The Need to Soil Test

Question
Grant,

While I was watching your March 14th episode (GDTV 68) I saw what I think is a common mistake.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but….

Brad seeded an area and then applied lime in order to neutralize acidity.  He said he was going to wait a week before applying fertilizer.  My understanding is that fertilizer tends to raise acidity.  As a result, applying lime and fertilizer cancels the affects of the two out.  Yes?

Matt

Matt,

Yes, some forms of commercial fertilizer are acidic.  However, nutrients must be in the soil for plants to transfer them to deer.  So fertilizer and enough lime are added to insure nutrients are available in the soil and the soil’s pH is balanced at about 6.5.  By adding enough lime, the acidic qualities of the fertilizer are more than neutralized.

This is a perfect example of why soil tests are so important — the results of a soil test provides accurate information of how much fertilizer and lime is necessary to create a healthy environment for the specific crop to be planted.

Adding lime and fertilizer is always a balancing act!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Fuel Mixture for Drip Torch

Question
What mixture of fuel do you use in your drip torch?

I love the show, and have shared it with lots of buddies.  Keep up the great work.

Josh

Josh,

I use 1/3 gas (at max!!) and 2/3 diesel.  Make sure you don’t use more than 1/3 gas as it can be extremely explosive!  Also, make sure the drip torch has a backflow control (usually a 360 in the spout).

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Where is the best place to hunt to find a buck’s shed antlers?

Question
Grant,

I don’t know if you remember but I contacted you earlier in bow season about a buck that disappeared on me.  Well, he is smart.  I didn’t get any pictures of him from September until the end of muzzle loader season.  I had a few encounters with him and my bow but no luck.  Any tips for finding his sheds?

Paul

Paul,

The trick in finding shed antlers is knowing where he is spending most of his time during antler casting season.  After the breeding season this is in two primary locations – bedding and feeding areas.  Find these locations by looking for fresh scat and tracks, which is easier than ever since nothing is growing.  I also keep my trail cameras out over heavily used food plots so I can see when individual bucks are shedding their antlers, narrowing down when/where I should be searching.  Once these areas are located it’s just a matter of searching and sometimes researching likely areas.

My wife, Tracy, has been training a lab puppy to search for antlers.  The mineral content in antlers is unique among bones.  A dog’s nose is much better than human eyes, so if you get serious about finding sheds, consider training a dog as they will cover much more ground and most folks really enjoy watching a trained dog work.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Protecting Deer Forage from Cattle

Question
Grant,

I have a hunting lease in Oklahoma.  The land has cattle on it, the landowners don’t care what food plots I plant as long as I don’t put up a fence.  What would you plant in that field that the cattle won’t eat first?

Rodney

Rodney,

The quickest and most cost effective method to protect quality forage from being browsed by cattle is to use a Gallagher Electric Fence.  Usually a single or double strand of electric wire or tape powered by a solar charger will easily exclude cattle but allow adult deer to simply jump the fence.  This is different from a food plot protection fence where a single strand is placed three feet in front of a second row of fence with two stands.  Using Gallagher fencing, food plots can be established anywhere within the cattle pasture that provides an advantage to the crop and/or hunter.

This technique has been used and refined in Texas and other states where cattle have access to most of the properties.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Chufa

Question
What about Chufa?  I’ve searched the web and wanted to get your advice on using Chufa as a food plot.  What are the pros, cons and your personal experience?  Do you use it on The Proving Grounds?

Andrew

Andrew,

The Proving Grounds is simply too rocky for chufa, which does best in loose soil conditions.  Some of my clients that are die-hard turkey managers do use chufa as part of their program.  The National Wild Turkey Federation has some good information about establishing and maintaining chufa.  Check out their website or contact one of their regional biologists.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Can the antler potential of a mature buck be estimated?

Question
Grant,

We found a matched set of sheds from a main frame 6 x 6 (12 pt) with a gross score of 151.5 without a spread measurement.  You can see them on the Missouri blog at Midwest Whitetail.  We know the buck was a 6 year old this year.  He was coming off a hard winter with no acorns, food plots were eaten off by the first of December, and drought conditions last summer yet he was still able to grow that much horn.  This year we had a bumper crop of acorns, food plots were not hit hard until mid January and in our area we haven’t had as hard of a winter as last year.  If the worst of winter is behind us and we have average or better rainfall this spring and summer, how many inches could this buck add to his rack?  We are located about 150 miles northeast of The Proving Grounds.  Our farm is about 600 acres, with 100 acres of mixed clover hayfields and 20 acres of food plots (wheat, brassicas, clover, and chicory).  Thanks for your help, hope I didn’t kill you with the details!

Ben

Ben,

Deer, like humans, can mature at different rates.  For example, I was the tallest kid in my fifth grade class.  By my freshman year in high school, I wasn’t close to being the tallest in my class.  The same trend is true with deer.  Most follow an average growth and maturation rate.  However, some will express more of their antler growth potential early and some will blossom late in life.  On average, wild, free-ranging deer have expressed most of their antler growth potential by the time they reach six years of age.  However, there are many factors such as weather conditions, wounds, etc., that can cause an individual buck to express more or less of his antler growth potential during any given year.  I hope in 2011 this buck will express more of his antler growth potential.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Does Roundup Harm Turkeys?

Question
Grant,

I plan on spraying glyphosate on a pasture to kill fescue and plant NWSG.  A friend of mine is telling me that the glyphosate could poison or have a negative affect on the turkey population. What do you think?

Chris

Chris,

To my knowledge glyphosate hasn’t been a problem with turkeys.  Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, which is used to kill weeds in Roundup Ready crops, like corn and soybeans.  Roundup Ready crops have dominated the agricultural market for the past couple of decades yet turkeys are still thriving.  From personal experience on The Proving Grounds my turkey population has grown tremendously since I began incorporating glyphosate and Roundup Ready crops into my food plot program.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Hunting at The Proving Grounds

Question
Grant,

Are visitors allowed to hunt?

Brooke

Brooke,

Great question!  As a matter of fact, yes.  At least if you call the upcoming shed hunt “hunting.” You are welcome to join us on March 18-20th for the 2nd Annual Shed Hunt to roam The Proving Grounds in search of antlers.

All other “hunting” on The Proving Grounds is reserved for my family and close friends.  Almost everyone in my family enjoys hunting which is a huge blessing but keeps me busy!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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What can I do to rid my property of wild hogs?

Question
I have enjoyed your recent trapping series.  We have our fair share of raccoons and coyotes, however, the bigger problem we have on our property in Mississippi is hogs.  We have heard for years that land south of us had witnessed pigs on their properties and they were expanding north.  Last year was our first time to see them and a year later they are really beginning to hurt our acorn crop and are rooting-up our fields.  We are scared that if the growth continues at this rate our property and the available nutrition for the deer and turkeys could be greatly impacted.

Do you have any wisdom that could help us control these aggressive pests?

Barry

Barry,

I am sorry to hear that hogs have reached your property.  They can wreak havoc.  The most effective method of reducing hog numbers is trapping.  I strongly recommend you attempt to limit the hogs with a very aggressive plan.  This will be much less expensive than the damage they will cause.  This requires setting up a large trap (fenced in area with a gate) that allows a group to fit within.  There are gads of setups out there.  The second recommendation is to never let any leave alive.  Hogs are highly intelligent animals and quick to learn.

In addition to trapping always take the opportunity to remove any you see while hunting or working on the property.  I’ve worked on properties in that part of the world that removed over 180+ hogs per year and they kept on coming.  So buckle down and be prepared for a long road ahead.  I consider wild hogs extremely damaging to native habitat and critters.  I dispatch each one I can.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Planting Corn and Soybeans Together

Question
Grant,

I am a consulting Forester in Pennsylvania and I work mostly on wildlife habitat projects.  I have a client convinced to plant NWSG as well as Eagle Seed soybeans.  I saw in one of your videos that you recommended against planting corn and beans together, but you have photos of a very good stand of corn and beans.  What has been your experience planting them in the same food plot?

Stephen

Stephen,

Good observation, I have planted corn mixed with soybeans in the past.  However, after digging deep in the available research I have found that rotating corn and soybeans instead of mixing them provides better results.  Two of the primary reasons are parasites and disease.  In particular, whenever a crop, say corn, is planted in a food plot year after year the parasites and disease that accompany corn start to build up to a point that they begin to negatively affect yield.  By doing a rotation and planting soybeans instead of corn on some years the corn specific parasites and disease levels quickly fall off.  After a year or two the corn can then be replanted in the food plot with little loss in yield due to these factors.

At minimum, it’s best to split the field and plant half in corn and the other half in soybeans, then rotate the location of each crop the following year.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Ponds for deer hunting

Question
Grant,

Most of my hunting is done on a relatively small property.  I’m working on a plan to put in some quality food plots to hold more deer in the area.  The habitat seems to be pretty good but one thing I don’t have is a water source on the property.  I don’t think water is lacking in availability because of two ponds about a quarter of a mile away.  That’s not a long walk for a deer.  Do you think that supplying water on my property would be of significant benefit in holding deer closer to my hunting spot?  If so, do you recommend larger earthen ponds or are trough type watering holes okay too?

Jay

Jay,

It sounds like there is currently no water on your property.  I would recommend providing water on your property to lower the need for deer to be traveling across other properties to get a drink, especially if the urge to drink is during the hunting season.  Water sources don’t have to be large.  The goal is to provide water throughout the year.  In most situations, a few thousand gallons is all that is needed.  I typically establish ponds that are three feet deep at the deepest and about 30’ or less in circumference.  These small ponds, when located in areas with good cover, can be fabulous hunting locations!  I use liners to get the ponds to hold water if the soil at the desired site doesn’t have enough clay content.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Best Switchgrass for a Buffer

Question
Grant,

You were most informative recently at the National Wild Turkey Federation convention.

Which switchgrass do you recommend for a buffer?

Thanks,

Wesley

Wesley,

Thank you for the kind words!  I typically plant Cave-in-Rock switchgrass as a buffer around properties because it grows tall and stands up well to winter wind/snow/sleet.  In addition to screening a property from poachers it also serves well as bedding and fawning cover.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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What food plot variety has the highest protein in the summer? Should I put a trail camera by my food plot?

Question
Grant,

What kind of protein should I be giving the deer?  And should I put a trail camera by my food plot?  I live in Louisiana and our food plots are great but the deer use them as a bedding area.

Shelby

Shelby,

One of the best kinds of protein is that produced by forage soybeans.  Forage soybeans produce highly digestible and high protein leafy forage in the summer and grain in the winter.  I can’t think of a better method of providing high quality protein forage for an extending time of the year.

Food plots are great places for trail cameras.  Deer live and die by their gut so putting a camera over a food source is one of the quickest ways of taking their picture.  I leave my cameras out year-round and the vast majority of them are usually overlooking a food source.  The more pictures you can get of a particular deer, the more you can learn about his particular movement patterns around the property.  While you are running those cameras keep in mind to minimize disturbance so as to not unintentionally condition the deer you wish to hunt to avoid the area during daylight hours.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Average Home Range Size

Question
Grant,

What is the normal range, in square miles, of deer?  How often will they traverse most of that area?

Thanks,

Bob

Bob,

My answer is “that depends.”  As in people, deer appear to all have different personalities.  Does typically have a smaller home range than bucks.  Doe home ranges average around 100-600 acres while buck home ranges are 500-1,500 acres (1 square mile = 640 acres).  Even within each sex there can be a lot of variability.  Just like people, some deer are roamers while others are homebodies.  Yearling bucks often disperse from their mother’s home range and often travel quite far to set up a separate home range from where they were birthed.  Recent research also suggests that as a buck matures his home range decreases in size.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Predators as Table Fare

Question
Grant,

Do you eat the animals you trap such as the raccoons, opossum, and foxes?

Alex

Alex,

No, I do not eat most of the predators I trap.  These animals are generally not considered to be table fare.  However, I do tan their hides and use them to educate school children and others interested in wildlife.  They are also used as decorative pieces in my home and as gifts to friends.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Can Salt Harm Deer?

Question
Many people are putting out salt blocks, or in some cases water softener salt, for deer.  I’ve always been taught that too much sodium can actually harm the digestive process of deer or cause them to drink so much water that it can replace nutrients. Is this true?

Thanks,

Dean

Dean,

I never worry about deer consuming too much salt.  Most critters, including deer, need a lot of salt for their bodies to function properly.  I’m not aware of any cases of free-ranging deer consuming too much salt.  That would be hard to monitor, but with all the salt available from cattle licks, gas and oil drilling, etc., there is a lot of salt available in many areas yet no reports of deer suffering from ingesting too much salt.

I am concerned about some sources of salt that folks make available to deer.  Salt marketed for different purposes often has different additives to make it flow better, bleached to make it a different color, etc.  It is certainly possible that these additives could be detrimental to deer and other wildlife.  Therefore, I only use feed grade salt for wildlife.  I personally use Trophy Rock as it has 60+ trace minerals.  Although deer only need very small quantities of trace minerals to express their full fawn and antler growth potential, without them included in their diet, they simply can’t express their full genetic potential.  Therefore, when supplying salt to deer, attempt to use a product that is food grade quality and has as many different trace minerals as practical.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Soft Mass

Question
Grant,

Are you planting any soft mast, like apples and crabapples, for your wildlife/deer?  Is there a nutritional role for soft mast in your wildlife management plan at The Proving Grounds?

Thanks,

Brian

Brian,

That’s a good question.  Soft mast is an important part of wildlife’s diet during several times of the year.  However I typically don’t go out of my way to plant them because they are very labor intensive for the return on my property.  I do actively promote the growth of soft mast species with periodic burning and timber thinning.  Both of these techniques open up the forest canopy and reduce competition from invasive or exotic plants.  Ripe soft mast during the hunting season can be a dynamite hunting location.  In my neck of the woods persimmon groves are great places to be hunting during early bow season.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Do You Use Bait?

Question
Do you use any bait like apples, corn, beets or carrots?  Do you use minerals?

TJ

TJ,

I have Trophy Rock out year around.  I place corn out during August for three weeks so I can attract deer to a location to do a camera survey.  Other than that, I don’t use any attractants or baits.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Pasture Grass for Deer?

Question
If a fellow wants to create a horse pasture that is deer friendly what is the best seed mixture to use?

Blessings in abundance,

Wilson

Wilson,

Deer don’t eat orchard grass – or any pasture grass.  They will eat the clover, but the grass will outcompete the clover for nutrients.  Seeing clover grow and deer getting good nutrients from clover are different.  Certainly deer will benefit from the clover more than solid grass.  However, it is like fishing from ski boat versus a bass boat.  It can be done, but not as well.

I would use a Gallagher fence in a portion of the horse pasture.  This will simply (and relatively inexpensively) exclude the horses and quality deer forage can be established and maintained.  Another huge advantage of this is that the owner will know exactly where the deer will feed – not just simply watching an entire horse pasture.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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The Best Food Plot Crop

Question
What is the best food source for a food plot in the St. Louis, Missouri region?

Brehdin

Brehdin,

The best crop to plant for deer depends on several factors including, but not limited to:

  1. The time of year to be planted.
  2. The time of year it’s desired to feed deer.
  3. Whether the mission for the plot is primarily to attract or provide nutritious forage or grain for deer.
  4. The size of the food plot, etc.

You might look through Grant’s Answer’s in the food plots category on GrowingDeer.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Keeping Cattle out of Food Plots

Question
Last fall I planted a small plot of white clover (1/4 to 1/2 acre).  It did not germinate as we did not receive any rain before the frost.  Will it come up this spring?

Also, I hunt a 180 acre cattle farm in northwest Tennessee.  I have two small areas that I can keep the cows out of that I plant.  Any advice on managing for deer while working around cattle would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for the helpful videos!

Nate

Nate,

If weeds didn’t grow in the plot, then the clover seeds may germinate.  However, I’d suggest you deal with any weeds that have germinated and then reseed the plot.

It’s relatively easy to keep cows out of a food plot and allow deer to enter by using a Gallagher electric fence designed for such purpose.  Electric fences are commonly used for such purposes and keep cows away from feeders while allowing deer access to them.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Effectiveness of Trapping

Question
With your predator trapping program, do you do any kind of survey to measure its effectiveness?  I remember an episode where you stated most of the animals you trapped were yearling males who were probably recolonizing the area.  Do you do anything to document that your trapping efforts in January are still noticeable in the spring during nesting and fawning season?  Has your catch per unit effort or anything changed since you first started trapping?

Ryan

Ryan,

I do record the species, gender, and weight of each critter trapped at The Proving Grounds.  I haven’t analyzed the data, but is certainly appears that there are fewer raccoons and opossums at The Proving Grounds for awhile after trapping season.  However, by August there are several raccoons visiting our camera survey bait sites again.  Another measure is that I’ve caught 45 to 55 raccoons and opossums each year for the past four years at The Proving Grounds.  The critters I catch are now almost all male and yearlings.  It appears I’m removing a high percentage of the predators, but yearling males disperse and fill the open habitat by the next year.  However, effectiveness should be measured by the number of predators that are still reduced during the fawning and nesting season.  I haven’t addressed when the predators are recolonizing after trapping with a research project.  The turkey population has increased substantially at The Proving Grounds during the past few years, but I can’t state with certainty the relationship between this increase and removing predators.

Trapping is a viable wildlife management tool.  With fur prices being significantly reduced for years, it seems the predator/prey populations are out of balance in many areas.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Modern Ag practices

Question
Hello Dr. Woods,

I own some property in Mississippi and I was wondering how today’s agriculture practices affect deer herds using them.  The farmers who have been farming our place have been planting corn year after year.  They begin in March which means the corn is out by the end of August.  They don’t rotate corn and soybeans anymore because the deer ate the farmers’ soybeans.

Geoghegan

Geoghegan,

A corn/soybean rotation, especially if corn and soybeans are both available within close proximity, provides great deer forage and grain.  Corn has the added benefit of providing great cover from when it is two feet tall until it is harvested and soybeans have the added benefit of providing high quality forage throughout much of the growing season.  Advances in combine efficiency results in less spilled grain now than during previous years.

No doubt areas of intensive corn and soybean production can produce great whitetails!  However, the productivity of such areas is determined by the local farming practices.  For example, if the fields are tilled shortly after being harvested there won’t be much grain available.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Where is the best place to create cover for whitetails?

Question
I am planning to create some thickets by hinge cutting some 8 year old trees.  How big of an area would I need to hinge cut to have a impact on providing bedding or creating browse?  Would it be better to do edges 10 yards deep around food plots or a much larger 1 acre area not associated with a food plot?

Thank you, I look forward each week to the topic or your next video.

Gary 

Gary,

Where you create cover depends on your mission.  If you are trying to encourage deer to enter a food source earlier, creating cover along the edge may be a good plan.  However, if your mission is to create cover for deer to use for bedding or escaping predators, then a larger area would be much better than a thin strip along a food plot.  I like cover areas that are at least 10 acres or large in size.  Predators such as coyotes can probably smell deer in smaller cover blocks.  In addition, human scent can easily carry through a one acre cover block.  For the cover block to serve as a sanctuary, consider making the cover block larger in size.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Thick or Thin for Deer Cover?

Question
Can the woods on a property be too thick or too open for good deer cover?  I am 56 and recently bought land (98 acres) to fulfill a lifelong dream.  It was cut over 8 years ago and is extremely thick in some places.  I try to observe this characteristic on your videos and it looks fairly open around the food plots/woods to me.

James

James,

The “woods” on a property can certainly be too open for good deer cover.

It would be very difficult for woods to be too thick.  Good escape cover for deer is usually so thick that humans don’t like to walk (or crawl) through the area.  Prescribed fire or other tools can be used to thin a portion of your woods if they are too thick and are lowering the recreational quality of your property.

The timber on my property had been mismanaged, at least from a wildlife habitat point of view, for decades.  There was no cover on The Proving Grounds when I purchased the property.  However, I’ve cut trees, used prescribed fire, etc., to open the canopy and allow ground level vegetation to grow.  You can see some of the cover I’ve established by watching GDTV #15.  Better yet, come and tour The Proving Grounds during the 2nd Annual Shed Hunt as we will be discussing habitat improvements during that weekend!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Hidey Hole Plots near Bedding Areas

Question
Grant,

We have 160 acres, most of which contain native prairie grass.  The native prairie grasses are full of cedar trees (some are 50+ years old) in most areas from neglect.  We also have large oak stands.  We have ponds and the property has 100′ of elevation change from one end to the other.  Our neighbors have 400+ acres; together we have a nice remote location for the deer. The deer travel to the lower bean fields to graze and return.  I want to clear places for deer and create some low maintenance food plots (e.g. buckwheat).  I can make the opening small (1/2 acre) or large (up to several acres).  What options for size and shape are optimal for deer in making openings?  I can either create the food plots or let the native grass return.

Thank you!

Jay

Jay,

It sounds as if you have a neat property!  If the soybeans and other local production ag fields are providing year round food for the deer herd, then water and cover could be limited resources in your area.  The hunting on your property might be improved by establishing some small attraction plots for deer so they would have a place to feed while returning to cover.  If this is the case, crops that are prime during the fall, such as winter wheat, would function well and are easy establish.  I call such spots “hidey holes” and they can be fabulous hunting locations!  Remember to locate the plots so that you can approach and remain undetected by the deer you wish to hunt.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Selecting Locations for New Food Plots

Question
Grant,

My hunting lease has diverse terrain.  One part is on a hill covered in post oak and cedar but drops off approximately 40′ into a creek bottom covered in water oak, yaupon and briars.  In past years we have not utilized food plots or feeders, so patterning deer movement and concentration has been difficult.  In the absence of a food plot, can you shed some light on which terrain the deer would prefer?  We plan on establishing two soybean plots and one clover plot this year, with the clover just off the creek in the bottom and the soybeans in a terrain transition area.  Is this a good idea or bad?  Any suggestions will be most welcomed.

Thanks,

Chance

Chance,

The more similar the habitat, the more difficult it is to pattern deer.  This is because there are no limited resources that are more valuable than others to attract deer.  For example, if the entire property has oaks, then hunting acorns is probably not a good strategy.  It sounds as if high quality forage would be a limited resource and therefore very attractive to deer on your property!  Remember that deer are usually more concerned about surviving than eating.  So even if the food plots are the only quality forage in the neighborhood, deer, especially mature bucks, will avoid the plots during daylight hours if they associate them with danger.

I would be careful about establishing the clover plot by the creek if flooding is probable.  Another consideration is that if hunting is a primary mission for these plots, locate them where it’s to the hunter’s advantage to approach and hunt without alerting deer.  Usually the wind swirls less on ridge tops compared to bottomland locations.  Unless the soil is extremely low quality, I tend to establish hunting food plots on ridge tops.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Why am I getting trail camera photos of spotted fawns in November and December?

Question
Hello,

We hunt in north central Mississippi.  For several years now I have caught pictures of fawns born really late on my trail cameras.  I have pictures of some (but not all) fawns still with spots and/or suckling milk from their mother in November and December.   What biologically can be going on with these late fawns?  It seems to me that it can’t be a good thing.  Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much!!

Denton

Denton,

Fawns are typically born late in portions of Mississippi and Alabama.  As a manager, I worry more about the duration than the timing of fawning season.  If you are seeing small, spotted fawns for more than three consecutive months it may be an indicator that the adult sex ratio is skewed toward does.  This would result from an extended rut and therefore fawns being born over an extended period of time.  This has several negative ramifications for the herd including allowing predators to key in on fawns and abnormally high stress on bucks.  You, and all deer managers, need to collect simple harvest data to monitor the herd’s health and be able to make sound, site-specific management decisions.  Herds with characteristics as described above usually have lower body weights than normal for the local habitat.  Collect some simple, but accurate data and you can make some good assessments of the herd’s health and appropriate changes to the deer and habitat program.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Processing Pelts

Question

Grant,

As a novice hunter I spend a lot of time trying to separate fact from fiction and folklore. I’ve been told that you can process a pelt using the organs of the animal i.e. brains, liver, etc.  Is this fact, fiction, or folklore?

Thanks for GrowingDeer.tv.  I’m learning a lot from your site.

RJ

RJ,

I’ve read about using brains from some critters to tan pelts.  However, I don’t have any experience with that technique.  Let me know if you give it a try.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Dispatching Trapped Predators

Question

Hi Dr. Grant,

I just watched your latest video on trapping (GDTV #63).  What method do you use to dispatch the animals you trap?  I have really learned a lot from your videos.  Thanks for all the good information.

Tom

Tom,

I use a .22 caliber rifle or pistol and administer a single shot to the head.  This provides a quick and humane result.

I always consider what’s behind the target, and unload the .22 before continuing with my activities.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Dogless Traps

Question

What brand of dogless traps do you use?  Where can I find them?

Thanks,

Howard

Howard,

I have been using the Lil Griz brand of dogless traps.  However, there are some new models coming out for 2011.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Beans for Clay Soil?

Question

Good morning,

I live in the Piedmont area of Georgia in Augusta.  I have a small tract of land with good surrounding tracts around me.  What type of beans can I grow in a soil that is mostly clay?  What can I plant in the same soil in the fall that will help grow healthier deer?  I have children that are starting to hunt with me now and my biggest goal this year is to help them take their first deer.

Thank you,

Eric

Eric,

Eagle Seed’s forage beans will grow in the Georgia clay soils.  I have several friends that grow them throughout the Piedmont of Georgia and South Carolina.  Make sure to collect a soil sample and have it tested at a soil lab so you will know how much lime and fertilizer to add to ensure the crop will grow and express its full potential!  Healthy soybeans certainly help deer express their full potential and are a forage that deer find very palatable.

My girls have both harvested deer that were in plots planted with Eagle Seed beans.  Deer consume the forage during the growing season and the grain the beans produce during the fall/winter.  Good quality forage soybeans are truly a two season crop.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Producing Mature Bucks

Question

I have 1,100 acres near Ava with about 250 acres in pasture and the rest are typical Ozarks hills.  I have about 15 acres in food plots, with the main food sources being clovers with turnips and some winter wheat.  I can’t seem to keep bucks to the older ages.  What should I do to draw and hold older class bucks?  Since you have been here awhile you know what we have to deal with as to neighbors, etc.

Kirk (Missouri)

Kirk,

That sounds like a nice property with lots of potential to produce mature bucks.  Producing mature bucks requires protecting them from being harvested or killed by predators until they reach the age class that you wish to harvest.  The habitat in “typical Ozark hills” doesn’t provide much cover.  Therefore hunters and predators can have a huge impact on deer, especially bucks after the rut.  In addition, without adequate cover, hunters must willfully withhold from harvesting bucks until the bucks reach the level of maturity that hunters wish to harvest.  Mature bucks can be produced on almost any 1,100 acre property if that’s the hunter’s objective.  Trigger finger control is the primary tool for producing mature bucks.

However, there is a big difference between producing mature bucks and producing mature bucks that have expressed their full antler growth potential.  To produce mature bucks that express their full antler development potential requires improving the habitat unless the property has quality forage and grain production.  It’s helpful to remember that the majority of deer in northern Missouri where world class bucks are produced were stocked from the Ozarks.  Hence, deer with the same genetics that have access to quality forage and grain clearly express much more of their antler growth, fawn production, and body size potential.  To allow deer in the Ozarks (or any area that doesn’t produce quality forage and grain) to express their potential requires lots of habitat work.

My property, The Proving Grounds, is extremely steep and rocky.  There is no quality forage or grain produced within miles (counties).  In addition, there are 34 neighboring properties, none of which share my deer management objectives that I’m aware.  However, by providing quality food, cover, and water, bucks at my place are producing antlers similar to deer in northern Missouri of the same age class.  Given you are only an hour from me, I’m very confident you can achieve the same results.  I encourage you to attend one of our field days and see in person the techniques I’ve used to provide quality food, cover, and water.  There are simply too many details to provide in this format.  The next event is our 2nd Annual Shed Hunt where we will collect sheds and tour much of my property.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Coyote Hunting

Question

Grant,

I would like to try coyote hunting but I don’t know how to start.  Will you have a episode about coyote hunting?

Edward

Edward,

I enjoy coyote hunting and consider it a part of my deer management work.

Coyotes currently have a large negative impact on deer herds throughout much of the whitetails’ range.  I do plan to film a coyote hunt or two in the next few weeks.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Ideal Food Plot Crops & Acreage

Question

Grant,

I have 220 acres of hunting ground in Northeast Arkansas.  I only have about 3-4 acres of food plot areas.  What should I plant to take full advantage of my small planting sites?  Should I clear more ground for more food plots?  What is a good ratio of food plot acreage to total acreage?

Thanks and have a great day.

Luke

Luke,

What crops to plant and how many acres to plant are both somewhat dependent on the local deer density.  For example, if the deer density is low and very palatable crops can grow without being over-browsed in the existing plots, then forage soybeans and corn are a great choice to provide the protein and carbohydrates necessary for deer to express their full potential.  If the local deer population is relatively high, then consider either adding more acres of food plots or protecting the crops in the existing plots until they can withstand the browse pressure with a Gallagher Food Plot Protection Fence.

The number of deer per square mile can vary significantly from property to property.  Therefore there is no standard ratio of the amount of food plots to total acres.  If the deer management mission is for deer to express their full potential of antler and fawn development, then there should be adequate quality forage and grain so that deer have all they want to consume during the late summer and late winter stress periods.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Changing Patterns

Question

I hunt on a small 40 acre property with very little hunting pressure.  Recently a new neighbor moved in and their dogs have been chasing the deer.  Because of this the deer have changed their patterns and it has made hunting very hard.  Luckily the dogs have finally been penned up, but the deer patterns are still messed up. What are some tips to make it a better season next year?

Stephen

Stephen,

Dogs and other predators can easily cause deer, especially mature bucks, to change their pattern.  Be thankful your neighbor began keeping his dogs on his property!  It’s likely that the deer will return to using their traditional patterns by next hunting season.

Deer need food, cover, and water.  I suggest you determine which of these habitat features are limited in the neighborhood and supply them on the property you hunt.  A good strategy is always to identify a limiting factor and supply it in an area that allows you to approach a stand or blind without alerting deer to your presence.  Identifying limiting factors is always a good strategy on any property.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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High Desert Food Plots

Question

Grant,

Is it possible to utilize food plots in the west?  I live just west of Denver in an area that is very populated with elk and mule deer.  The area that I hunt/live in is considered high mountain desert at around 7500 feet of elevation and receives 18-20 inches of rainfall a year.  I have full access to about 100 acres of private property that is surrounded by private property on all sides for miles.  The terrain is rugged with a mix of open/park-like ponderosa pine stands on the south facing slopes and dense Douglas Fir/Spruce stands on the north.  The only water is found in the drainages and it is seasonal.  Is it possible to grow or propagate anything useful to elk or deer in an area like this?

Thanks in advance,

Josh

Josh,

I’ve had food plots in a very similar elevation and climate in New Mexico.  We planted brassicas and the elk loved them!  Concentrated food is rare in such environments and is very attractive to elk.  I recommend collecting soil samples and fertilizing according to recommendations from a soil lab.  Then plant a mix of winter wheat and forage brassicas.  I think you will be pleased with the results.  I’m willing to bring my bow and do some research during September!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Food Plots Must Be Fed

Question

Grant,

I have 120 acres in northern Missouri.  I planted my first food plot last year with decent results but I had issues with my corn and other plants not reaching full size.  I am planting Eagle Seed beans this season with some type of annual.  Do you have any suggestions for which annual and what type of fertilizer to use?

Thank you,

Dustin

 

Dustin,

Last year most of northern Missouri received feet (literally) of rain more than average.  In places, many of the soil nutrients were likely leached below reach of the plants.  This resulted in small, hungry plants.

Remember plants consume food just like deer, and when they consume the available nutrients in the soil, fertilizer must be added for the next crop to grow well.  Therefore it is very important to sample the soil in food plots each year and add lime and fertilizer according to the recommendation from the soil lab.

Make sure and tell the soil lab what crops you plan to grow so they can recommend the correct type and amount of fertilizer.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Inoculate Eagle Seed beans?

Question

Do you inoculate your Eagle Seed beans?

Taylor

Taylor,

Recent research shows that soybeans often yield more if they are inoculated.  I inoculate the Eagle Seed beans I plant based on that research and because that practice is relatively inexpensive compared to the other food plot establishment costs.  Inoculation is very important if soybeans haven’t been grown in the plot to be planted during the past year.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Can Deer Digest Hay in the Winter?

Question

We just received 2 feet of snow.  Would it be a good idea to put out a few bales of hay for the deer?  Or would it actually harm the deer because their digestive systems can’t handle the hay this time of the year?

Thanks,

Don

Don,

Great question that currently applies to much of the whitetails’ range!

Providing feed that deer are not used to digesting, especially when they are stressed, can cause them great harm or result in death.  This is because deer only ingest the food (which they will gladly do during periods of stress), bacteria populations that live in their gut perform most of the digestion.  There are many species of bacteria in a deer’s gut and each species is somewhat specific to digesting different types of food.  Food sources in nature tend to become available and unavailable slowly over time.  For example, a few acorns will fall early and then more and more will fall until the supply will taper off.  The species of bacteria that helps digest acorns increases and decreases in population density in accordance with the quantity of acorns ingested.  However, when food resources are very limited, the population of bacteria decreases significantly.

If a deer herd that is stressed by a significant amount of snow suddenly finds a rich food source such as grain or high quality hay, they will consume large quantities.  However, they won’t have an adequate amount of bacteria in their digestive tract to digest the ingested food.  This is why deer given emergency supplemental food during periods of winter stress often die with a stomach full of the food provided by folks with great intentions.  All supplemental feeding programs should start slowly and be very closely monitored (if started at all).  This is especially true during periods of stress such as during winter storms.

You were wise to ask first!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What does the “G” in G1 stand for?

Question

When measuring deer antlers, does the “G” (as in G1) have a direct connection to a word?  So far, nobody can tell me what word the G stands for.

Thanks,

Clark

Clark,

That’s a good question.  I called a friend at Boone and Crockett and he stated that it is simply a use of alphabetical order on the score sheet.  On the whitetail score sheet, A is for the greatest spread, B is for the number of points, etc.  G simply was in order for the data of tine length.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Which Eagle Seed Variety Should I Use?

Question

Dr. Grant,

I have been talking to the good folks at Eagle Seed about their bean species and have placed my order for this year’s seed.  Have you had experiences with Large Lad, Big Fellow, or Managers Mix?  If so, what were the results as far as production and deer preference?  I will be planting the Eagle Seed beans this spring in the southeast region of Kansas and would like your opinion on what bean seed to try.  I am planting three plots totaling 12 to 14 acres.

Also, I already have a 17 acre field of clover on this farm and would like to plant two or three small 1/4 to 1/2 acre plots.  What would you recommend for variety in these areas?

Thank you,

Lee

Lee,

I have planted the Eagle Seed Large Lad and Big Fellow varieties and the Game Keeper blend at The Proving Grounds and at client properties literally throughout most of the whitetails’ range.  Both Large Lad and Big Fellow are excellent forage producers!  From my experience, Large Lad seems to produce a bit more grain (pods).  This is a plus when the plots are managed (as several of mine are) as 10 month + plots.  Deer consume the forage and then consume the pods.  The only time Large Lad is not attracting and feeding deer is when I prepare the plot for replanting and the time necessary for germination.

Big Fellow seems to be a bit more drought resistant.  I use this variety where the conditions are a bit more droughty (sandy soils, west facing slopes, etc.).  The Game Keeper blend has Large Lad and Big Fellow plus a climbing/viney variety that will produce forage extremely late into the growing season.  It a good option if you are unsure of the conditions where the plots will be planted.  Eagle Seed’s web site has a detailed description of each variety/blend.

There are gads and gads of clover varieties.  I doubt any of them will provide forage throughout the entire growing season in southeastern Kansas unless it is an abnormally wet year.  Clover is a great crop to use to cover the gap in time between early spring and when the temperatures become warm enough for more productive forage crops (like forage soybeans) to produce.

Given this, I usually plant about 10% or less of my food plots in clover and the remainder in a more productive forage crop.  When clover is growing actively it produces gads of forage during a short timeframe.  Therefore, not much acreage is needed.  The exact percentage of the plots that should be planted in clover will vary from property to property depending on growing conditions and the number of deer using the plots.  However, I would suspect that a 17 acre field of clover produces more forage than the local herd consumes during early spring and provides almost no quality forage during the late summer or late winter (the two critical stress periods).  Late winter is a good time to review the productivity of food plots so the plan can be tweaked for the next planting season.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Fertilizer Spikes

Question

Have you ever used fertilizer spikes to “sweeten” acorns and would this even work?  Would lime or some other fertilizer around oak trees be effective?  The theory is that it will make one specific band of oaks more desirable than others.

Jack

Jack,

I’m not aware of any research that proves acorns from fertilized oaks are more palatable to deer than from non fertilized oaks.  Certainly fertilizing oaks won’t result in the same increase in food yield as fertilizing a forage crop like soybeans.  This is because a much greater percentage of a soybean plant is palatable to deer than an oak tree.  However, fertilizing pecan trees has proven to increase pecan production.  I think it’s a safe assumption that adding enough fertilizer to oaks would also yield an increase in nut production, and possibly a nut that tastes better to deer.  I doubt that a few fertilizer spikes will add enough nutrients to impact the quantity or quality of nuts produced by a mature oak tree.  Remember that the entire tree is using the fertilizer, not just the acorns.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Events at The Proving Grounds

Question

Grant,

My name is Jacob and I am turning 17 this February.  I think I’ve seen every one of your videos, I love what you do!  When is your next Shed Hunt or Field Day and is it open to the public for people like me?  I know from the videos you charge a small fee.  I would love to be a part of an event at The Proving Grounds.

Jake (New York)

Jake,

Thank you for watching GrowingDeer.tv!  Our 2nd Annual Shed Hunt is scheduled for March 18th-20th.  You are correct in that we charge just enough to cover expenses (hotel room, meals, hat, great prizes, etc.).  I really enjoy sharing what we’ve learned at The Proving Grounds (and other places we work) with fellow hunters and deer managers and learning from them during these events.  There will be several guests from the hunting industry attending also and they love to talk deer with our guests.

I hope to meet you during March!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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When to Start Habitat Projects

Question

I need to clear an elongated “S” shaped swath down in my timber bottom to create a killing plot for bowhunting.  I have already determined the size and location.  However, I have found little information on what time of year will impact the deer the least.  Having a bulldozer and chainsaws running will cause a considerable amount of noise.  There are bedding areas less than 100 yards from where this plot will be located.  Your insight would be greatly appreciated.

Ron

Ron,

Most habitat improvement projects cause a temporary disturbance to deer, especially during the daylight hours.  However, as long as the project is finished and the improvement (food, cover, or water) in place at least a few weeks before deer season, deer usually readily adapt to the new habitat feature.  This is proven over and over again during pond construction, planting of ag or CRP fields, etc.  Usually there will be deer tracks on top of the dozer tracks every morning during the construction phase.  Deer, especially mature deer, rarely leave their home range because of construction disturbance of that scale.  They will certainly adapt their behavior to avoid disturbed areas while the disturbance is occurring, but usually check it out at night and readily use the habitat feature during daylight hours soon after they sense no danger is present.  I believe my hunting activities at these habitat improvement areas likely alert deer more than the activities associated with creating them.  So, start the project anytime you want and try to finish it at least a month before deer season.  Then slip in with much caution and enjoy the fruits of your labor during deer season!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Birdsfoot Trefoil

Question

Hey Grant,

I work for a conservation organization in northern Arkansas.  I’ve had numerous landowners ask about establishing birdsfoot trefoil as a longer lived perennial legume in food plots on sandy well-drained soils.  Is it too hot and dry to establish and maintain birdsfoot trefoil here?  I haven’t run across anyone that has any experience with its use in food plots or forages for cattle.

Thanks for your thoughts,

Bob

 

 

Bob,

I haven’t planted birdsfoot trefoil in the Ozarks.  Where I have tried it, I wasn’t overly impressed.  This crop requires more management than the return in forage it yielded for my preference.  Rarely do the long-lived legumes (alfalfa, trefoil, etc.) do well in an uncontrolled browsing environment like a food plot.  If you or your contacts give it a try, I’d like to hear about the results!

Growing Deer (and crops) together,

Grant

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Shooting Off a Hard Surface

Question

Grant,

Great job on the info on your shows!  I look forward to it every week!

What would your recommendation be for after the gun is sighted in off a bench and someone would be shooting on a hard surface (like an enclosed blind)?  A sand bag?

Thanks a lot!

Cory

Cory,

Thank you for the kind words!  I would recommend a sand bag or a piece of foam pipe insulation, etc.  I’ve noticed that rifles with a truly free-floating barrel rarely have the “hard surface bounce factor.”  However, if you have any doubt, consider firing some test shots during the off season.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Outer Armour Blinds

Question

In your last episode (GDTV 52) I noticed what appears to be a very nice ground blind that you all were using.  Do you like the blind?  If so, where could a person get information on it?  I really appreciate what you are doing for all of us with your show.

Thank you,

Jim

Jim,

Thank you for the kind words!  My daughters and I were hunting out of an Outer Armour blind.  It is a well constructed blind.  The windows are a bit high for most hunters.  I’m 6′ tall and I have to stretch a bit to shoot out of the blind.  I use pads in the chair to elevate my daughters.  The blind is very warm and quiet, but extremely heavy to move.

Grant

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Changing the Pattern on a Shotgun

Question

Grant,

How do you change the pattern on a shotgun?

If I don’t have access to another shotgun would a .22 be legal to use for turkey?

Edward

Edward,

The easiest way, if the gun has a removable choke, is to change the choke.   If the barrel is solid, then changing the choke is a very technical chore that I’ve never attempted.  I’d recommend leaving that task to a skilled gunsmith or simply using another gun.

Each state has different regulations.  Most states don’t allow the use of .22’s for turkey hunting, but you will have to check the regulations for the state where you plan to hunt.  You should spend some time testing the pattern of your shotgun at different distances and you will learn at what distances the pattern is appropriate for turkey hunting.  My daughters use a youth model 20 gauge and it holds a good pattern to approximately 25 yards.  That’s far enough that my oldest daughter, Raleigh, harvested a mature tom last year!

Growing Deer together!

Grant

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Dogless Traps

Question

Grant,

I am 16 years old and love to hunt and fish.  I spend more time in the field than at home.  I noticed you used dogless traps in your video and I am very interested in them.  Will you let me know who they are made by and how to find them?

Thanks,

Bobby

Bobby,

I was using Lil Griz traps.  They are for sale at several websites.  I shared some additional tips that I’ve learned about using Lil Griz traps on GDTV 63.  They are a great style of dogless trap for raccoons, opossums, and even a few gray foxes.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Becoming a Wildlife Biologist

Question

Dr. Woods,

My name is Matt and I am a third year college student (working toward a degree in Urban Forestry and Arboriculture).  I have been watching all of your videos.  The projects you do and the things you are able to study are incredible.  After watching your show and seeing your title of wildlife biologist I started looking into careers in wildlife biology.  I am seriously considering changing my plans and staying in school for a bit longer and getting a degree in Wildlife Management/Biology with a minor in Conservation Biology.  I was hoping that you could give me some pointers and tips about this field of study and the career opportunities (possibly even a job outlook).  I am passionate about white-tailed deer as I am a bow hunter through and through and everything else is merely done to pass the time until bow season.  I have taken a great interest in altering the habitat on our family owned land and my next project is to ease into trapping with the help of one of my knowledgeable friends.

Any knowledge and information you can share with me to guide me would be greatly appreciated.  It really means a lot to me to get some insight and guidance from someone so successful in this field.  Thank you very much for your time in reading this.

Sincerely,

Matt (Wisconsin)

Matt,

I’ve addressed several questions about becoming a wildlife biologist.  You might check out my answer to Getting Involved and use the search feature to find more answers.  I strongly believe that most folks can be successful at any occupation that they are passionate about.  That doesn’t mean entering or advancing in that occupation will be easy or profitable.  You should know that passion about hunting is not the same as passion about being a wildlife biologist.  The two certainly complement each other.  However, many wildlife biologists (including myself) spend more time helping other hunters and landowners than we do hunting.  My strongest suggestion for you would be to spend a summer as an intern with a wildlife biologist that works in a specific area of your choosing.  Spending a summer, even on a volunteer basis, is much less expensive in terms of dollars and time, then changing your degree and finding out that it was a bad choice.  I believe that internships or similar programs are extremely beneficial to folks deciding which career path to take.  I volunteered a summer through the Student Conservation Organization when I was a junior in college.  I worked for the Bureau of Land Management at the Elko, Nevada District.  I was only paid $25 per week and provided a small trailer for living quarters.  It was a fabulous experience.  My best counsel for you is to do an internship and see what being a wildlife biologist is really like before making a huge change in your degree program.

Experience is the best teacher!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Supplying Nutritional Needs

Question

Grant,

I hunt a small 50 acre woods containing hardwoods and thick cover.  I hunted last year for the first time.  Although I do not own the land I am the only one who hunts it.  I have permission from the owner to do what I need as long as it doesn’t pertain to the fields.  It has a lot of acorns and this year it had corn on three sides (the front side is a county road).  I saw several large rubs and a few decent sized scrapes.  I harvested a few does but was unable to harvest a mature buck.  What can I do to help buck growth?  Mineral licks?  What are your suggestions for my little piece of heaven?

Thank you for your time,

David

David,

Sounds as if you have a nice place to hunt!  Having commercial agriculture on three sides should supply most of a deer’s nutritional needs.  This is especially true if there is both corn and soybeans available within the deer’s range.  Corn is very high in energy, but not protein.  This is why deer having access to both corn and soybeans provides a much better diet.  The toughest part of hunting 50 acres is making sure you don’t repeatedly spook deer from the area.  I strongly suggest you always approach the area with the wind in your favor and avoid over hunting the area.

Trophy Rock provides 60+ trace minerals.  Deer need a very small quantity of each of the minerals to express their full potential.  By placing a couple of Trophy Rocks in the area you hunt would insure that each of these trace minerals are available to the deer that use that area!  Take care of the landowner as it sounds as if you have permission to hunt a great location!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Shed Antlers

Question

Hi Grant,

Do you think this shed is from this season or last season?

Thanks,

Walter

Walter,

The shed looks very clean to me.  Rodent populations vary in density throughout the whitetails range, but it’s rare that rodents, coyotes, etc., don’t leave some teeth marks during 12 months.  Given that, I think it’s a good assumption that the shed was dropped recently.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Clover for Food Plots?

Question

I have only had my property for about 1 1/2 years.  I am new to all this and have lots of questions.  I have 80 acres with a small stream going all the way through it and a 6 acre pond. No food plots yet.  I have some clover but it’s too close to the hunting cabin.  I have about 1 to 3 acres of open ground that I want to put in a food plot.  I am thinking more clover but would like to  hear your thoughts. I have a tractor but not a plow. I know a cattle farmer who might be able to till up the land for me.

Thanks,

Pat (Ohio)

Pat,

It sounds as if you’ve been blessed with a wonderful piece of creation!  All food plot crops have strong and weak points, so it’s best to pick the crop that fits your mission.  If year round nutrition is the goal, then it’s tough to beat a corn/soybean combination.  However, if the local deer density is too high, they will consume all of your crops before deer season.

Clover is very good during the early spring and fall.  However, it usually goes dormant during the warmer summer months, especially if it is dry.  Clover is always dormant during the winter — providing no food for nutrition or attraction.

Enjoy your property!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Broad-based Dips

Question

I am a hunter and landowner interested in the techniques that you have for stopping road erosion.

Pat

Pat,

Road systems are one of the most important aspects of any property.  In many cases they also require the most attention of all management activities.  By installing a few structures these maintenance costs can be significantly reduced.

The main cause of road degradation is water movement.  When water accumulates on a road surface and has no way of getting off it builds up momentum.  This accumulation and momentum lifts gravel and other sediments and carries it down the hill.  With this known the main goal of any road project is to get the water off the road surface as quickly as possible.

A system that works well is the creation of broad-based dips (BBD).  A BBD forces water to run off and across a roadway while allowing smooth travel by vehicles.  When determining placement of a BBD look for natural dips in the road that may need only minimal modifications to remove water from the road surface.  Also, try to preplan where BBDs will be positioned before beginning.  Generally, BBDs should be every 20 or 30 yards depending on slope.  A BBD should be positioned at a 30-45 degree angle to the roadway.  Start by removing soil from the uphill portion of the road and dumping on the lower portion until the dip is of sufficient depth to cause water to run off the road during all rainfall events.  When creating the dip, slope the entire dip and 20 feet of the road above the dip, toward the edge of the road.  The entire BBD will require a minimum of 30 feet to allow smooth travel of vehicles and equipment over the BBD surface.  Rock may be placed on the outflow portion of the BBD to slow water and reduce erosion.  Rock is not necessary if adequate vegetation is present after BBD completion.  Once a BBD is completed use the entire surface of the road when traveling over it.  By spreading the vehicle compaction and wear across the surface of the BBD, little maintenance will be required in the future.

BBDs are a great tool to stop erosion of roads.  I use them extensively at The Proving Grounds.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Mineral Rocks

Question

What is a mineral rock?

Ken

Ken,

A “mineral rock,” at least as I use the term, is a Trophy Rock.  Trophy Rock is simply a “rock” mined from a deposit of sea minerals in Utah.  There are only three such veins of salt sea minerals known in the world.  In other salt deposits, the minerals settled out and left just salt.  Each of the known salt sea mineral deposits have a slightly different composition.  I like the mineral composition in the vein that Trophy Rock mines in Utah.  It is 100% natural and a great blend of 60+ minerals that benefits deer.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Best Cover Crop

Question

I have a property in Kansas that also has cattle on it.  What tall cover is available to plant when trying to hold more deer?

Thanks,

Darren

Darren,

It is tough to develop cover when cattle have access to the area.  Most new crops that would be used for cover, such as native warm season grasses (switchgrass, big bluestem, etc.,) are all very palatable to cattle, especially when they are just established.  My favorite cover is a blend of switchgrass, big bluestem, and little bluestem.  The ratio of each species I recommend in the blend somewhat depends on the geographic area and long term management goals.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Eagle Seed Pod Production

Question

Grant,

I have been planning for the next season already and I was wondering if you could give me some more insight on Eagle Seed beans.  I have seen your comments but some people are really going after them as not producing good pods.  Are they a good late season food plot?  I am trying to make sure I have a good December/January food plot standing for my herd next year.

Thanks for your time,

Nic (Illinois)

Nic,

I think you can simply watch the recent episodes or those from this time last year on GrowingDeer.tv and see a two year history of great pod production on the marginal soils at The Proving Grounds.  The family that owns Eagle Seed has literally been selecting and cross breeding soybean varieties for 40 years to maximize forage quality, quantity, and pod production.  The pod production of Eagle Seed’s forage soybeans carried the herd (and turkey flock) at The Proving Grounds last winter and are currently doing the same this year.  You are welcome to check out the pod production during our annual shed hunt this March!  I’ll post more information about that event soon.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Marking System for Hack & Squirt

Question

Grant,

We have some multi-age timber to thin (hack/squirt) and in some areas there will be a lot of stems to treat.  How do you keep track of what you’ve treated and where to treat next?  I plan to mark the trees which are treated and work within long narrow sections delineated by a string line.  Is that the way to do it?  How do you do this?

Doug (Arkansas)

Doug,

You are more systematic than me!  I let the scar from the hatchet serve as marking the treated tree. These scars will remain visible until the tree falls.  I do try to make all my cuts (or at least one on the larger diameter trees where multiple cuts are needed) in the same cardinal direction.  For example, if I begin working the timber stand from north to south, I make all of my cuts on the north so when I reenter the stand I can easily determine which stems have been treated without walking circles around the trees.  I tend to simply move through the woods and consider each tree in relation to the surrounding trees and other habitat features, especially if they are the same species.  I typically treat all sassafras, unless they are abnormally large.  If there are five oaks in a group, I favor the stem with the best form, etc., and treat the others.

There is one exception.  I’m always on the lookout for good treestand locations.  I don’t treat trees that may be positioned perfectly in relation to the surrounding habitat for stand location.  Shaping the future of a timber stand is as much art as it is science.  Don’t let the systematic approach get in the way of creating a productive, aesthetically pleasing and huntable forest.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Forage Beans for Northern Latitudes

Question

Mr. Woods,

I noticed Eagle Seed beans listed on your web site.  Do you know of anyone who has planted them in southern Iowa?  If so, how did they perform?  Do you recommend different seeds if planting in Iowa vs. Georgia?

Thanks for your time,

David

David,

I have clients that plant Eagle Seed beans literally throughout the whitetail’s range – as far north as northern Minnesota.  All the varieties of forage beans are late maturing varieties.  Some of my clients with land in the northern latitudes plant the Wildlife Manager’s Mix as it has some faster maturing varieties included (they are not forage varieties).  Don’t be confused by the term “forage varieties.”  Eagle Seeds’ forage varieties of soybeans have been selected during the past 40 years (literally) for their volume and quality of forage produced while maintaining the seed pod production characteristics.  No other company that I’m aware of has such a long history of selecting desirable qualities in forage soybeans.  In fact, Eagle Seed makes 3 blends specifically for northern latitudes.   These blends have a bit more of the earlier maturing beans for maximum pod production with the later maturing forage varieties.  This allows hunters to produce quality green forage until very late in the growing season (or the first hard frost) while gaining a bit more pod production.

It’s important to plant the longer growing forage beans early.  I plant them when the soil temperature at 2” deep at 9 am (soil is as cold as it gets at 9 am +/-) is 60/62 degrees and rising. Iowa State has a web site that monitors and reports soil temperatures throughout the state.  If you are planting production size fields (30+ acres each), then the value of forage beans is that they will remain green and palatable until very late in the growing season or until the first killing frost.  Such large fields will usually provide enough forage to not be totally over browsed by deer.  However, if you are planting smaller fields in areas with a high deer density, the browse tolerance of Eagle Seed forage beans will often be the difference between a productive plot and a total failure.  Varieties of production soybeans simply can’t withstand as much browse pressure and will often die as the results of excessive browsing.

I’ll be working tomorrow in Fulton County, IL.  I manage multiple properties in Fulton and Adams counties where the owner has successfully planted, produced, and hunted over the standard Eagle Seed forage soybeans.  I usually don’t use the northern mixes south of Wisconsin, etc.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Will ATV’s Scare Deer Away?

Question

Next year when I go deer hunting, if I ride an ATV slowly will it scare the deer away?

Jon

Jon,

Deer are very alert to smells and noises they associate with danger.  If they associate the noise of an ATV with danger, they will certainly avoid the area or at least be alerted by the presence of an ATV.  On the other hand, they may simply ignore the ATV if they don’t associate it with danger.  For example, deer at most golf courses don’t associate golf carts with danger.  They see them every day and are not harmed or threatened by them.  However, a pickup driving down a golf trail would probably cause the local deer herd to be on alert and limit their movement until they sensed the threat passed.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Advice for the Beginning Hunter

Question

Dr. Grant,

I am 12 years old and I love to hunt!  I have been hunting since I was six.  I started deer hunting 3 years ago and I just started bow hunting this year.  I have never shot a deer, gun or bow.  Could you give me a few pointers on food plots and bow hunting?

Nick

Nick,

I’m glad you enjoy hunting!  It’s a fabulous way to learn about the environment, and other lessons that will help you in all aspects of life!!  Rather than give you the short answer here, why don’t you check out the 500+ responses I’ve written to specific questions about hunting and food plots here, in the Grant’s Answers section.  Use the search feature to find information about specific topics.  I also share a lot of information in my blog, Thoughts from the Field.  Finally, I hope you will consider joining us at our annual events.  These are great events to learn more about deer and deer hunting from myself and other folks that attend.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How to Dispatch Trapped Raccoons

Question

How do you shoot a raccoon in a box trap with a .22 and not have the bullet bounce off the wire and hit your body?  Do you open the trap and shoot them when they come out?

David

David,

I simply apply the same gun safety rules that apply to every shot.  These include never pointing the muzzle at anything you don’t wish to shoot.

I always consider the bullet path and background.  I shoot through the trap at very close range (no chance of hitting the wire) and make sure the area behind the target is safe.  I always wear hearing protection, and unload the weapon as soon as the raccoon is dispatched.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Best Bait for Trapping Raccoons

Question

Grant,

I enjoyed your GrowingDeer.tv segment on raccoon trapping (GDTV 58).  We have a real problem on our farm.  Do you have a preferred bait for raccoons that the squirrels don’t prefer?  We seem to have more squirrels springing our traps than coons!  We currently use Havahart traps.  Do you have a recommended size for coons, and do you prefer a 1-door or a 2-door model?  Thanks so much for your advice!

John

John,

I use inexpensive dog food with small kibble size.  Raccoons, opossums, and even foxes are attracted to dog food.  Yes, squirrels will sometimes consume the bait, but crows seem worse!  I like to toss some bait across the road/trail where the trap is set to increase the attractiveness of the set.  However, crows are bad to consume that bait before dark.

I like the single door traps and typically use live traps with a 8” x 8” or 9’ x 9” opening.  I like the smaller traps as then I can haul more in a truck.

Growing Deer (and trapping) together,

Grant

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Keeping Deer out of a Food Plot

Question

How do I go about keeping deer out of a garden (food plot)?  I put up an electric fence with three strands, but the deer tore it down.  How can I keep them out?

Thank you,

Carroll

Carroll,

I’m sorry to hear about deer invading your garden.  Did you use a Gallagher electric fence system with a single wire on the outside and 2 wires placed 3′ back (toward the garden)?  Was power kept to the fence 24/7?  These are common reasons why electric fences don’t keep deer out of a food source.

Another reason is that deer learn there is food in a specific location and become conditioned to eating there.  Once deer get conditioned to feeding at a specific location, they will sometimes continue to cross the fence even if they get shocked.

I hope these questions help you resolve the problem.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Field Days

Question

Grant,

I stumbled onto your website through Facebook.  I’m a youth pastor in Salina, Kansas.  I watched the video that you did before Christmas and really appreciated your testimony at the beginning. I love to hunt as do several guys in our church.  I wish I could spend as much time as you do in the field.  God’s creation is so awesome.  I have six teen boys in my youth ministry that love to hunt. Do you ever do anything with young guys?  If we could connect it would be a great experience for them.  I don’t mean to hunt, just spend a couple of hours with you showing the guys what you do and why you do it.  We are affiliated with Baptist Bible College in Springfield (don’t hold that against us) so making a trip to Springfield isn’t that unusual.  Pray about it and let me know.

God Bless,

Matt

Matt,

Thanks for the kind words!  I host several annual events (field days, shed hunts, etc.) your group would enjoy!!  You are welcome to join us.  There is a fee for events that covers hotel room nights, meals, etc.  It is not a fee based on me making a profit.  I simply don’t wish to lose money on such events.  The registration information will be posted on GrowingDeer.tv.

I always invite all attendees to join me at First Baptist Church Branson for Bible Study and Worship.

Thanks again and may God bless your ministry!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Nasal Bots

Question

Dear Grant,

When I shot my first doe I noticed it had worms at the starting of the eating pipes.  Is this some type of disease?

Robert

Robert,

I suspect the worms you saw are nasal bots.  They are commonly found in deer.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Antlers as an Indicator of Age

Question

Dr. Woods,

What are the biological reasons that a mature buck with large, developed, symmetrical antlers and 22 inches of main beam length barely has one legal brow tine and nothing on the other side?  All other characteristics point to a mature deer (size, brisket, etc.).  It just makes judging a mature buck that much harder!

Buzz

Buzz,

The length of a buck’s brow tines seems to be more of an individual characteristic than an indicator of age.  Body configuration is usually a better indicator of a buck’s age than any characteristic of his antlers.  That’s why I use the shape of a buck’s body much more than the configuration of antlers to estimate age.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Nocturnal Deer after the Rut

Question

I’m an active bow hunter and I can’t understand why there are no more deer around after the rut. I see tons of tracks.  I figure they are moving at night.  It is -3 to 20 degrees.  They should be moving around and then bedding down in this weather.  Any ideas?

Ken (Chicago)

Ken,

Deer, especially mature deer, are extremely good at avoiding danger.  If the hunting pressure has been heavy where you hunt, then the deer may be conditioned to moving at night to avoid danger.  However, deer do tend to move more during the daytime in periods of extreme cold to take advantage of the warmer temperatures during the day, if there is ample food available such as ag fields, etc.  In areas where quality food is not available, deer will sometimes conserve energy by limiting their movement.

Most hunters tend to stay home when the temperatures are near zero.  You should be able to pattern some deer by locating an area that has feed available and that has received less hunting pressure relative to your area.

Stay warm!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Creating Cover in Shade

Question

Grant,

What is the best thing I can do to thicken up my property?  It has a lot of mature trees but still tends to be on the thin side in a lot of areas.  It just seems that thorns and other underbrush do not grow naturally.  I want to try to create that bedroom that I don’t currently have.  I have the food and the water but I know I lose a lot of deer off my property due to insufficient bedding and cover!  I have been doing some looking at millet but I’m not sure this is the answer.  Basically I want to broadcast whatever you suggest and let it go to town.  My main concern is that it will be heavily shaded and needs to be established before the leaves fall or else it will be smothered by the multiple oak and sycamore leaves!

Thanks,

Chris

Chris,

All plants need sunlight to grow.  I’m not aware of any crop (be it for food or cover) that will be very productive if it is heavily shaded.  I suspect the best prescription to create cover on your property is to open the forest’s canopy.  Then you can choose a type of cover that’s best for your area.

Without creating areas where the sun reaches the soil, no crop is going to grow well.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Wildlife Management Degree

Question

Dr. Woods,

I am seeking advice in regards to what avenues are available to pursue a wildlife sciences or management degree.  I graduated from Auburn several years ago with a history degree.  I know Mississippi State and Auburn are well respected in the field but neither offer any online degrees.  I live in Mobile, Alabama and was wondering if you knew of anyway to further my education in this field within driving distance or online.  If not a traditional university then please recommend any other outlets that might help my resume in working in the wildlife management field (i.e. QDMA courses, etc.).

Thanks,

Gaines

Gaines,

I’d start by defining your objective.  If it is to gain employment in the wildlife field, then your objective needs to be further defined.  Do you wish to work specifically with deer or in the wildlife field in general?  If you wish to work with deer, then what type of habitat do you wish to work in?  A degree from south Texas may prepare you very well for working in that habitat type, but some of what you studied may not apply to work in Alabama.  The deer management principles will be the same, but the plants, soils, etc., will be substantially different.  The wildlife field is very competitive, so you need to refine your objectives and take a targeted approach.  I schooled in Missouri, Georgia, and Clemson and worked for the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada.  The diversity of my education was as much of a benefit as any course.

If you wish to learn more about white-tailed deer and habitat management, but are not seeking employment, then the QDMA courses are outstanding!  However, I doubt they are enough to qualify you for a job with most state agencies.  They are perfect for property managers in the private industry.

I’m not familiar with any online programs that truly prepare you to be wildlife biologist.  I believe the field portion of education is just as important as the bookwork.

Finally, the major professor/advisor you pick is just as important as the school.  Drs. Lynn Robins, David Guynn, and Larry Marchinton were very influential on my career.  All of them gave me a lot of room to grow and they strongly encouraged field experience.  I’m indebted to all of them.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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When Do Deer Stop Eating Acorns?

Question

Dr. Grant Woods,

When do deer stop eating acorns?  Do they rot or go bad?  Or do deer eat them until they are gone?  Also what is your opinion of milo for food plots?

Brian

Brian,

Deer will consume acorns as long as they are good.  White oak acorns tend to rot to germinate by mid winter.  Acorns from red oaks have a higher acid content which allows them to remain eatable longer.  Some red oaks may remain eatable until early spring.

Milo is a very drought resistant crop that deer like once it makes a seed head.  Deer don’t consume the vegetation produced by milo.  Hence, if food plot acreage is limited, I don’t recommend milo as it will take up valuable food plot real estate for months before producing anything deer wish to eat.  Once the seed heads are developed, they are favored by birds and are unprotected.  That’s a huge advantage of corn, the ear is protected by a sheath that keeps most birds from consuming the grain and most ears will point down after they ripen and the sheath protects the grain from moisture.

For most food plot situations, corn offers more advantages than milo.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Creating a Silent Approach to Stands

Question

First and foremost, I love the show.  I wish more hunting shows were as informational as yours. Watching someone squeeze a trigger on a monster buck in a food plot does nothing to improve my hunting, so thank you for everything you have taught me.

I hunt in Central Texas.  The area is covered with multiple types of oak, cedar, yaupon and briars. With the forest floor covered in dry leaves and acorns, how can one access a stand with the least amount of noise and detection from whitetails?

Chance

 

 

Chance,

Thank you for the kind words!  I face the same problem at The Proving Grounds, especially after leaf fall.  I wait until most of the leaves have fallen, then use a backpack blower during midday to create a trail by blowing the leaves from a path to my stand.  This creates several advantages for the hunter.

It allows the hunter to walk on bare ground and move without making hardly a sound!  Bare ground doesn’t hold scent as much as vegetation.  Deer rarely detect where I’ve walked when I approach a stand using a path prepared as described above.  The leaf free path makes finding my stand before daylight very simple and I only have to use a very small light.  The minimal disturbance entry (M.D.E.) possible by using this technique is well worth the effort to create the path!!

A potential negative of using the tactic is that deer will often walk the leaf free path.  That’s not a problem as long as they are not walking the same time as the hunter.  Another potential problem is that a stand pirate may follow the path to your stand!  If you’re worried about stand pirates (friends that aren’t really friends), then don’t blow a path all the way to the road.  Begin blowing the path when it is not visible from the road.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What genetic factors contribute to bigger antlers on whitetail bucks?

Question

I’ve read that when it comes to producing “big” bucks, the mother (doe) is responsible for most of the good genetics.  Is there any truth to this?  If so, should we allow some does that we know may have produced a big buck to walk? Also, I find it hard to kill a doe that produced twins or triplets.  Do all does have the ability to birth twins and/or triplets or is that based on the animal’s environment and food?

Thank you,

Justin

Justin,

Researchers believe that does contribute more to the genetic potential of a buck’s antlers than the sire.  However, no matter how good the genetic potential is, the age structure and quality of the habitat determine how much of a buck’s antler potential can be expressed.  That’s why I never worry about a buck’s genetic potential unless the habitat is fabulous.  I don’t believe it’s practical to select which doe produces better bucks in a wild, free-ranging situation.  A buck’s potential is usually not known until he is 4.5 years old or older.  It’s very tough to know which doe produced a buck 4.5 years later.

It is very common for does in good habitat to have twins or triplets.  If the adult sex ratio is not managed to be balanced, then it is unlikely that a buck will express his full antler development potential.  Likewise, it is very important to ensure there is plenty of quality food for each deer in the population by harvesting enough does to balance the habitat’s capacity to produce quality food with the number of deer in the area.

Given the above, I suggest harvesting enough does to meet the management objectives for that property.  I harvest the first doe I can legally and don’t stop until the prescribed doe harvest quota is met – independent of the doe’s age, number of fawns, etc.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Gallagher Food Plot Protection Fence

Question

Why didn’t those deer just jump that fence you had up?  That fence didn’t look too high, was it electric?  The fence can be 4′ tall and they still jump them in North Dakota so why didn’t they jump yours?

Tyrel

Tyrel,

Yes, the Gallagher Food Plot Protection Fence is electric.  It is powered by a nifty solar charger.  The combination of the electric fence and the two-tier approach (the first tier is one wire 18” high and the second are two wires 8” and 24” high – the two tiers are separated by 3’) does an outstanding job of keeping deer out.  Yes, they could jump both tiers, but simply don’t.  Folks use this Gallagher system to protect orchards, vegetables, and other very expensive crops.

The fence has worked excellent at my place.  In areas with cattle or feral hogs, a single tier of two strands can be used to exclude cattle and hogs while allowing deer to access food plots.  The Gallagher Food Plot Protection System is an excellent tool!!!

Growing Deer (and crops) together,

Grant

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Turkey Hunting in the Ozarks

Question

Grant,

I want to know what advice you have for turkey hunting in southern Missouri.  I have hunted them before but it was in a different state.  Do you have any advice for a first time turkey hunter in this part of the country?

Edward

Edward,

I really enjoy turkey hunting!  I usually hunt turkeys in several states each spring and basically use the same techniques everywhere.  I try to get a feel for the stage of the turkey breeding cycle so I can adjust my calling and strategies accordingly.

One thing I try to do when hunting in hilly topography like the Ozarks is always to set up where the gobbler can’t see me until he is in shooting range!  This is easier to do in the Ozarks than in areas with flat terrain.  Mature toms rarely come to a call if they can see the area and hear a call but not see a hen.  I really enjoy hunting the Ozarks, except for toting a large tom up these hills.

Growing Deer (and chasing turkeys) together,

Grant

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Supplemental Feed for Deer

Question

Thanks for answering my last question!!  Here’s another one:  our club leases 7,000+/- acres of topographically similar, but managed pine timberlands (85%+ pinelands).  This past year hardwoods have been in demand and the harvest of those premium hardwood bottoms has been intense with re-plantings by the landowners only in pine.  Although the natural shrub browse is good throughout the lease most of the year (middle Alabama), our club has established a supplemental feeder program with grain (corn) feeders throughout the post-hunting spring and summer season based on a belief that there is not enough good natural food in these timberlands.  We also plant winter food plots with a multi-seed mix.  What’s your opinion on establishing spring/summer food plots versus grain feeders?  Would that provide for an overall better long-term herd food program?  (i.e. if we feed cattle from the corn hopper, why not deer?)

Thanks!!

Dan

Dan,

There are some clubs that have a great supplemental feeding program.  However it’s a lot of work to do correctly.  Feeders should be cleaned frequently (every week), moved every other week (so deer aren’t picking up the spilled grain from areas covered with feces, urine, etc.) and enough feeders should be maintained so that deer are not constantly fighting (being stressed) at feeders.  In addition, predators learn to key in on deer at feeders rapidly.  This plus the huge monetary cost of buying feed, feeders, and maintaining the feeders makes a good supplemental feeding program prohibitive for most folks.

It’s almost always much less expensive to grow high quality feed on site compared to someone else growing, harvesting, packaging, shipping, going through brokers, retailers, etc.

Cattle are vaccinated so they are not as likely to get sick when using feeders that are not cleaned.  In addition, predators don’t pattern cattle as readily as they do deer using a feeder.  Finally, cattle rarely fight as much as deer at feeders.  Cattle are herd animals by nature; white-tailed deer are not comfortable in large herds of non-family members.

A final consideration is that it is common for birds, squirrels, raccoons, etc., to consume a significant portion of the supplemental feed.  You can literally have squirrels and raccoons consume thousands of dollars of feed.  Unless it’s prohibited by your lease agreement, I suggest you strongly consider growing the food on site.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Conditioning Deer

Question

Most of our main food plots have large tower blinds overlooking or directly in the plots. Needless to say, these stands are the main stands for the majority of the hunters.  With that being said, they generally do not get hunted outside of the weekends.  When exiting the stands, someone either drives through the field to pick up the hunter or the hunter gets out of the stand and deer scatter.  If this only takes place on the weekends, does this still dramatically affect how the deer use these fields?  Our fields are on strip pits and our main road system runs through every field.  Based on the terrain, we don’t have any other choice. What are some suggestions when faced with this dilemma?

Mark

Mark,

Deer, especially mature bucks, readily adapt to avoiding threats such as the presence of hunters.  I suspect the mature bucks in your area will simply adapt to using the plots at night.  Some bucks may adapt to using the plots during daylight on weekdays.  If that’s the case, such a pattern would be easy to detect by using a trail camera with a time lapse feature.

I would strongly suggest hunters are dropped off and picked up at the blinds by a vehicle.  I would also suggest that fields are not hunted if the wind direction is not favorable for hunting that location.  Once deer pattern hunters, the odds of harvesting a mature buck in that area are substantially decreased.

Some hunters at your property can capitalize on mature bucks patterning the tower stand hunters.  I would look for staging areas or other features where the majority of hunters don’t travel on the property.  In other words, use the knowledge that mature bucks are patterning the majority of hunters on your property to pattern the mature bucks.  It’s the old surprise attack strategy.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Food Plots and Other Habitat Features

Question

My property sounds very similar to The Proving Grounds in that I have very hilly terrain with marginal soil.  Can you discuss what type of terrain you look for when adding hunting plots?  I know the obvious answer is flat ground, but outside of that, what are you looking for in terms of terrain surrounding the hunting plot?  Also, once this plot is established, what manipulations/improvements do you make to the surrounding terrain to encourage deer to come into the area and feel safe?

Mark

Mark,

Deer need food, cover, and water.  I try to ensure each of these habitat features are available in areas that I can approach and hunt without alerting deer.  I evaluate the terrain, predominate wind direction, roads, and other features that impact how deer use the area and then attempt to supply all the needs of a deer herd in a fashion that allows me to pattern and hunt mature bucks without alerting them to my presence.  I’m a huge fan of food plots, but they are only part of developing quality habitat for deer and deer hunters.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Rattling During the Late Season

Question

Will mild rattling in late December attract or scare off deer movement?  This season in south Georgia has been slow with all rut activity being nocturnal and very little movement in the daylight.  I’m just trying to make something happen before the season ends.

Thanks, keep up the great information.

Paul

Paul,

I typically don’t rattle much during the late season.  It can be effective, but I like using a grunt call more during this time of year.  Mature bucks will be seeking the fawns that become receptive this time of year.  Patterning fawns and remaining totally undetected is a good late season strategy for hunting mature bucks.  It may take a few days in the stand before a female fawn that is receptive happens to walk by.  If the mature does/fawns detect you, your chances of seeing a mature buck are decreased, so hunt these fawns like you are approaching a world class buck.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Using Deer Lures

Question

I’m a beginner at hunting deer.  I’m hunting with a crossbow on public hunting grounds in the mornings and evenings.  I’ve seen three does so far, they almost ran me over.  I haven’t seen a lot of tracks or rubs.  I realize the rut is over.  I’m just getting frustrated with not seeing anything.

What is your opinion on lures?  Do they work and if so, which ones should I buy?  Do you have any other hints or tips?

Thank you and God bless,

Keith (Ohio)

Keith,

I don’t use lures much when I hunt.  I typically try to slip into an area totally undetected by deer.  However, I use lures extensively when I trap coyotes and they can be used effectively for attracting deer.  Stay warm during the late season hunting in Ohio!

Growing Deer together

Grant

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Which Ground Blind?

Question

Hi Grant,

My friends and I bow hunt in Illinois.  We are starting to use ground blinds more often in the late season because there is no squeaking, less wind, and overall it is just more comfortable.  Do you have a particular blind you would recommend for archery?

Thanks,

Don

 

Don,

There are several good ground blinds on the market.  I have four RedHead Enigma blinds I’ve been using this fall and have been very pleased with them.  In fact, I was in an Enigma blind during the second portion of The Z7 Bites Back (GDTV 55).  The blind worked perfectly!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Low or No Glow for Trail Cameras

Question

Dr. Grant,

Which specific model of Reconyx camera do you use?  I notice the Reconyx HyperFire Semi-Covert camera has a low-glow feature when working in IR mode, vs. no glow at all on the Reconyx HyperFire Output Covert model.  Obviously, no glow is best so you do not run the risk of spooking game, but that camera costs $100 more.  Do you think it’s worth it?  I’d just as well go with the semi-covert model and save some money unless you feel differently based on experience.  Thanks for your advice!

Corey

Corey,

I currently use both the Reconyx HyperFire Semi-Convert and HyperFire Output Convert units.  I haven’t had any known problems with deer being spooked by the low glow units.  In fact, I have gads of images of deer bedded for hours at a time with the low glow units.  One deer will get up and browse while the others remain bedded.

If I was using them on public land, I might go for the no glow units.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Raccoons and Turkeys

Question

Dear Grant,

My property consists of about 400 acres of hardwood swamp bottom in southeast Virginia.  In 15 years of hunting this property I have killed two gobblers during spring.  Each fall our food plots are covered with large flocks of hens and a few gobblers here and there.  When spring arrives they are nowhere to be found.  No sign in the woods and definitely no vocalizations.  I watched your segment last year on trapping raccoons and the potential effects they can have on turkey populations (GDTV 10).  After seeing this I took it upon myself to do a raccoon trapping survey which I started this winter.  During bow season it was not uncommon to see 5 to 9 raccoons on their feet at dusk from the stand.  This leads me to believe our property has a serious raccoon population which may have altered the nesting habits of hens in the spring.  Do you feel that this could be possible or is my theory going out on a bit of a limb?  Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and take care!

Carter

Carter,

Raccoons and other predators can certainly reduce the number of eggs and poults that survive significantly!  For that reason alone I trap raccoons at The Proving Grounds.  However, I’m not sure a high raccoon population explains why all turkeys would leave your property during the spring.  I suspect there may be other factors.  For example, is there better nesting and brooding habitat on the neighboring properties?  If that’s the case, especially if it’s been that way for years, then I suspect the hens have developed a pattern of leaving your property during the spring and the gobblers simply follow them.  I suggest you aggressively trap raccoons and other predators and inventory the nesting and brooding habitat on your and the neighboring properties.  By addressing both of these, I strongly suspect the quality of the turkey hunting at your place will improve.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Testing a Trail Camera

Question

I saw deer tracks behind my house.  I put a trail camera there with some corn and I don’t have any pictures yet.  Do you think I have my camera set-up correctly?

Clifton

Clifton,

Sounds like you need to test your camera.  Simply walk through the area where the camera should detect a deer and determine if your presence triggered an event.  If the camera didn’t trigger when you walked through, I’d start by checking the batteries, camera settings, etc.

I hope this helps!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Attracting Deer to a Small Property

Question

My father and I hunt west of Lufkin, Texas on a 277 acre lease.  Although it’s not a big property we still manage it as much as we can by passing young bucks and harvesting does.  We have killed 7 bucks in 6 years.  Three of which are in the high 140’s, so I know the potential of the area.  I just got permission to hunt a small 17 acre piece of property a few miles away.  The good thing is that it’s surrounded on three sides by a 2000 acre property with mostly pine trees. The 17 acre property is mostly mature oak trees.  What can I do to improve this place?  Should I plant a food plot in the center of it and hunt the perimeter?  Or wait until the acorns start to drop before hunting it?  What would you do?

Andrew

Andrew,

It sounds as if you and your father are doing a great job managing the deer on your lease!  You may have another great opportunity on the 17 acre tract!  If you have access to hunt the only stand of oaks around, then when they produce it should be a hot spot!  Remember that deer want to survive even more than they like acorns.  So, be cautious when approaching the area.  Try not to alert deer to your presence.  I suggest you have stands hung for multiple wind directions well before season begins.  I would also develop a food plot in an area where you can access it or a travel corridor to the plot without alarming deer.  There will be some years when acorn production is minimal, so having a good source of food will pay huge dividends during those years.  If the conditions aren’t in your favor, I suggest not hunting the 17 acre tract.  If you alert deer to your presence there many times, mature deer will likely only visit that area after dark.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Can Injuries Influence Antler Development?

Question

I watched the video of the hunt in eastern Kansas and you talked about how injuries affect antler growth (GDTV 48).  I live where an 18 point buck was taken just a week or so ago.  Both brow tines are forked and at the base of the right antler he had a single horn growing along with the main beam.  Could you explain how the injuries affect the antlers?

David (Mississippi)

David,

Injuries that occur behind a deer’s shoulders commonly cause the opposite side of a deer’s antlers to develop in a non-typical configuration.  Injuries that occur from the front shoulders forward will often cause the antlers on the same side as the injury to develop in a non-typical configuration.  Not all injuries result in a buck producing a non-typical set of antlers.

Some non-typical antlers are simply a function of that buck’s genetic make-up.  Bucks tend to develop non-typical racks as they mature.  So there can be several reasons for a buck to have a non-typical antler configuration.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Magic Bean?

Question

What is the best food to put out that the deer will eat all year around?

Brehdin

Brehdin,

I wish there was a magic bean or one singular crop that grew year round for deer.  However, I’ve never found such a crop.  Forage soybeans are about as close as I’ve found.  I use Eagle Seed beans and if managed correctly, they produce tons of forage during the growing season and then deer consume the pods during the cool season.  If the crop yields 30 bushels per acre (60 pounds per bushel), then they would produce 1,800 pounds of feed during the cool season after feeding deer through the summer.  That’s about as close to a year round crop for deer as I’m aware.  Soybeans are one of the main reasons deer grow such large antlers on average in agricultural areas.

Growing Deer (and deer food) together,

Grant

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Hunting after Gun Season

Question

Dear Mr. Grant,

I enjoy your web tv very much.  I have found your information has been very helpful in all my hunts.  I hunt every season and use all the helpful hints that you share.  Thank you very much for not being one of those greedy hunters that horde their tricks of the trade.

I am fairly new to the trade and have only been hunting for the last 3 years.  I have dropped one 4 point buck and two does in my short time hunting.  I hunt bow, firearms, and muzzleloader.  I live in western Indiana and it is in the middle of muzzleloader season and the start of late archery.  You say that this is the time to hunt the food sources and I have been, but with no luck. Should I go deeper into the woods or should I just stick it out and hope they will come back in?  I have seen them in my fields, but since firearms season came in the deer have vanished, especially the mature bucks.  Am I doing something wrong?

Thank you for your time,

Jason

Jason,

Thanks for the kind words and congratulations on your success!!  Deer, especially mature bucks, are very good at avoiding danger.  Deer tend to avoid open fields during daylight for several weeks after firearms season (lots of hunting activity) in most states.  During December, I try to hunt travel corridors rather than directly over food sources unless I have access to food plots that haven’t been hunted much previously that year.  The chances of observing mature bucks during daylight hours are much greater if you hunt areas that mature deer don’t associate with danger.

Such locations are rare, but well worth the effort to find during the late season.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Hunting with Deer Decoys

Question

Do you recommend hunting with decoys?  If so, when is the best time to use them (rut, prerut, postrut, etc.)?  What brand do you recommend?  I hunt on a lot of steep mountainous terrain and was looking at some of the models that are photographic images of deer (Montana Whitetail Dream Team Decoy) due to their compact size and not the bulky 3-D plastic ones (Flambeau Masters Series).  Do you think that these are as good?

Thanks!

Sam

Sam,

I haven’t used deer decoys in a few years.  Decoys can be very effective, but I’ve simply been using other techniques.  I have a close friend in Kansas that has had repeated success harvesting whitetails, mulies, and antelope using the photographic image decoys.  I hope to try some this coming turkey season.  They’d be much easier to pack around The Proving Grounds than the traditional decoys.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Pines for Cover in the South

Question

Dr. Woods,

You say you like as large of areas of bedding as possible, such as NWSGs.  I have a 10 acre part of my property that I want to turn into cover that has a 1 acre food plot in the middle of it.  Is there any benefit to increasing edge by putting half that acreage surrounding the plot in SG/NWSGs and the remainder in loblolly pines?  Or would it be better to plant just one type of cover in this situation (all loblolly or all SG)?

Also, being in the South where pines grow well and are a good form of income, do you recommend planting pines or still prefer SG in terms of cover?  Longleaf (which I understand might be a better choice) won’t grow where I am as well as loblolly, so I’m stuck with loblolly although I plan on increasing spacing to 15 x 15 feet.

Eric

Eric,

I’ve used pines many times as cover for wildlife.  This strategy works fine!  In fact, excellent cover can be created by using a 15’ x 15’ spacing, suppressing unwanted hardwoods such as sweetgum with the appropriate herbicide, and thinning the stand as soon as economically practical.  The key to creating cover in pine plantations is to ensure sunlight reaches the soil.  Not only can cover be created, but if managed correctly, a good forage base that is drought resistant can be maintained by using the correct combinations of herbicides and prescribed fire.

I often create food plots in the thinned rows of pines.  This creates fabulous wildlife cover that is relatively easy to hunt.  You might watch GDTV 19, Food Plots in Thinned Pine Stands, where I visit with Bobby Watkins and show a mature pine stand managed as I’ve described above.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Slow Rut for 2010

Question

It seems like the rut was kind of slow this year, almost non-existent.  It’s back to bowhunting, but I’m still only seeing immature bucks.  Where do I locate those four to five year old trophy bucks?

Rolane

Rolane,

Many, many hunters report not observing as many deer during the 2010 rut.  That means there should be several mature bucks that survived until this portion of the season!  Post rut hunting can be great if the bucks haven’t switched to moving almost exclusively at night due to hunting pressure.  I usually concentrate on hunting travel routes to and from food sources.  I do this because deer have been hunted for several months now and tend to be very alert.  Mature deer often avoid open fields during daylight this time of year.

If you are hunting in an area with quality forage, some female fawns should be reaching about 70 pounds.  They tend to become receptive when they weigh approximately 70 pounds.  If that’s the case where you hunt, then hunting travel routes used by does/fawn groups may also provide some rut action as the bucks compete for the few remaining dates!  I harvested a mature buck last Saturday by selecting a stand where I expected several does and fawns to travel.  A mature buck was chasing a fawn – just as I had hoped.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Attracting Deer During the Lull

Question

During December I don’t have many deer sightings on my 1,500 acre property.  The rut starts after January 1st and just after Christmas we start seeing and harvesting some small bucks. Where have the deer gone and why?  My property has pine plantations with cutover and some hardwoods.  I have stands in all locations.  What do you advise?  We take a good many bucks from after Christmas until January 15th but until that time we don’t see any bucks.  I harvest 140 to 160 class bucks on this property during the 1st week of January on a regular basis.  What can be done to see deer during the lull?

Buddy (Alabama)

Buddy,

It sounds as if you have been very successful.  It may be good to consider that whitetails need food, cover, and water on a daily basis.  If they don’t associate certain areas with fear, they will use the best source of food, cover, and water in their range.  Is better forage available on the neighboring properties?  Is there less hunting pressure on the neighboring properties?  I often use maps to compare my property with surrounding properties to determine where the best resources (food, cover, and water) are available within the likely range of the deer using my property.

Another good tool that might help you determine the cause for the lack of deer observations during the pre-rut is trail cameras!  I often use Reconyx trail cameras to determine the number of deer using a property at different times of the year.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Does Corn Help Grow Antlers?

Question

During a show you mentioned that corn does not facilitate growth of large antlers in states like Iowa.  Rather, the other plants that those rich soils produce aid in that growth.  To what other plants were you referring?

Dennis

Dennis,

I think we miscommunicated.  Food high in protein like soybeans is critical for antler growth.  However, so is food that is high in energy.  Corn is a great source of energy for deer!!  The combination of corn and soybeans grown in the same area creates a much better diet than simply a diet of only corn or only soybeans.  Deer will consume primarily the soybean foliage during the growing season, and then consume the carbohydrate rich corn grain during the winter.  These carbohydrates help deer maintain body heat, weight, etc, through the winter stress period!  In fact, most of the record book bucks come from agricultural areas that produce both corn and soybeans annually.  I commonly prescribe corn and forage soybeans for food plots even in non-agricultural areas.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Clover vs. Soybeans in South Carolina

Question

Grant,

Great video as always!  I hope you get that buck you’re looking for.  I live and hunt in South Carolina on 125 acres.  I planted 10 acres of soybeans this year along with clover.  The clover won’t really come into its own until the spring and the next few years.  Do you think I could bypass planting soybeans and just plant white clover for the deer (say a 5 acre plot)?  I saw deer this year, but I don’t feel like the soybeans were any more of a draw than the clover and I need to devote more of my acreage to bedding areas and cover.  Would a single large plot be better on my property than several smaller plots?

Garry

Garry,

I select food plot crops based on my mission for the plot (feeding vs. attraction, etc.) and what crops perform best in the soils where they are to be planted.  I lived in South Carolina for a decade and still work on projects there.  Except in the mountains, the summers tend to be a bit hot and dry for most varieties of clover.  Clover rarely remains green and succulent during these periods of stress.  If your mission for the plot is attraction and it rains during the time of year you plan to hunt, clover may be a good selection.  It’s tougher to control weeds in clover than soybeans.  If nutrition is your goal, then soybeans will usually remain green and succulent in drier conditions than clover.  If the beans are allowed to mature, the pods are an excellent source of nutrition and attraction for both deer and turkey.  Soybeans are usually more palatable to deer than clover. However, soybeans can be over-browsed when they are young.  If this occurs it’s best to protect them with a Gallagher Food Plot Protection Fence or plant a more browse resistant crop such as clover.

If providing quality nutrition is the goal, I’d plant one large plot near the center of your property.  If creating locations for frequent hunts is the primary mission, than multiple, smaller plots may be a better strategy.  Combining both would be ideal!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Patterning a Mature Buck

Question

I’m seventeen and I have only killed one good buck on my family’s 150 acre property.  It was a 120 inch 8 point.  Right now I’m after a ten point on a friend’s property that will score about 150.  I can’t figure out when he comes through the bean field I hunt over.  I’ve seen his tracks but can’t catch sight of him when I hunt.  Is there a way I can call him to me or find out when to get him?  It’s early December and I don’t know if the rut is over here.  What should I do?  I need the meat for my family and he would help us for awhile considering his tracks are over two inches deep.

Clayton

Clayton,

Congratulations on harvesting a good buck!  Patterning mature bucks is very difficult when on the ground, let alone from a distance.  I’m afraid I’m not going to be much help!  I prefer hunting between the feeding and bedding area.  Can you determine where he is bedding?  Where is the closest thick cover to the field?

If providing meat for your family is the goal, then I would attempt to harvest does if that is legal where you hunt.  This will provide more meat than a single mature buck and allow you to learn more about the local deer herd.  My family eats primarily meat from does every year.  Not only do we value the meat, but the lessons I learn from harvesting does has made me a much better hunter!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How to Score Antlers

Question

Hello Grant,

My 11 year old son and I really enjoy your website and videos.

How do I score a rack?  My son, on his first ever muzzleloader hunt, harvested an 8 point buck that was huge for this part of Maryland.  It weighed in at 255 lbs. field dressed.

Thanks for any help.

Guy

Guy,

Wow – congrats to your son and you!!!!  That’s a huge body weight for a deer harvested anywhere.  A guide to the most common scoring system can be found on The Boone and Crocket website.

Growing (and scoring) Deer together,

Grant

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Timing of the Rut in Duval County, Texas

Question

I hunt in Duvall county, south Texas.  When would you say that the rut will begin and end?

Johnny

Johnny,

Generally speaking, the rut in south Texas is during late December – give or take.  There are many ranches that intensively manage whitetails in Duval County, so the herd densities, nutrition levels, etc., can be significantly different from ranch to ranch.  All these factors can impact the timing of the rut on a site-specific basis.

Talk to the folks that manage the property where you hunt for a more specific answer.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Recommended Literature

Question

Hi,

My name is Seth and I am the private lands conservationist technician for Fremont and Mills counties in Iowa.  What information or literature would you recommend to look at from a management standpoint regarding white-tailed deer?  I wish to educate myself so I can help landowners with questions they have regarding this matter.  I would really appreciate it.

 

Seth

Seth,

There are many sources of information that may be of value.  Some of the sources may not be directly related to white-tailed deer.  For example, there are several sources of information about prescribed fire, soil fertility, etc., that are not considered specific to deer management.  The Quality Deer Management Association produces a great magazine titled Quality Whitetails that includes lots of deer and habitat information.  You might check out my book, “Deer Management 101,” as a source of deer population management information.  We also host multiple field days annually at The Proving Grounds for hands on deer and habitat information.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Latest Strategies

Question

Dear Grant,

I really enjoy your show and appreciate what you do for all of us greenhorns. What do you think of all the individuals out there who are claiming that they have the latest secret or strategy (for a consultation fee) that can manipulate your habitat or teach you how to hold deer (beds etc.) and cause them to predictably funnel past your stand for an easy kill?  I am not trying to get you to talk negatively about anyone.  I just want to know if it is truly possible to do what they are claiming or if I would be better off spending my money elsewhere?  Thank you and may the good Lord bless you and your family this Christmas.

Jim

Jim,

Thanks for the kind words!  Certainly habitat can usually be improved and even designed to improve a hunter’s chances of seeing a mature buck.  However, it’s still up to the hunter to approach the stand stealthily, only hunt when the wind is favorable for that location, etc.

The old adage “if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is” seems to be very accurate.  I would suggest researching any product or consultant that claims to consistently produce “easy kills” of mature bucks before purchasing or hiring.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Cows, Deer & Electric Fences

Question

We lease some Midwest farms to hunt and there are cows in some areas for part of the warm months.  One owner fears us having multi-row electric fences because he thinks some of the cows might get caught between the wires and have problems getting out.  Do you have any experience with this type of situation?

Cows are gone by hunting season and we can open the electric fences.  After letting deer in for a few weeks to graze forage bean green leaves, can we close them out again until late season when we want them to enjoy the bean pods or will habit lead them to force their way back into the groceries?

Are you seeing or hearing reports of fewer deer in your parts of the Midwest?  In our areas of southeast Nebraska and northern Kansas we have experienced a drastic decline in deer numbers in the past 2 years.  We see fewer deer and we see the same deer multiple days so there seems to be fewer total deer.  More tags are being issued.  Late antlerless seasons are allowed after bucks have shed antlers.  There is a new 10-day Nebraska antlerless gun season that was added in the midst of bow season.  We have not seen evidence of big EHD problems.  Lots of hunters are practicing QDM in our areas so why the big drop in buck numbers?  Fewer does produce fewer buck fawns but why does it seem like such a sudden event?  We have gotten similar reports from several counties in southern Iowa and west central Illinois this year.  Do you think it is the result of official actions, over-harvests, weather cycles, voodoo, or just a really unlucky season?  Surely, it is not a matter of ALL of the bucks being in lockdown arrangements for the whole season, right?

Thanks, again, you are a GREAT resource and we appreciate your guidance.

Lennie

Lennie,

Great to hear from you!  I hope we get to visit again this February at the Deer Study Group.

I would have no fear of cows or calves becoming entangled and/or hurt in the 2-tier Gallagher electric fence I use to protect food plot crops.  I’ve grabbed the fence (on purpose and by accident) and besides wishing I hadn’t, I was not injured.  I think the fear of a cow or calf being injured is totally unwarranted.  I think there is a much greater chance of a cow being injured by being chased into a barbed wire fence by dogs, coyotes, etc.

I’ve been very pleased with the results of the Gallagher fences at mine and several clients’ properties from New York to Alabama.  However, I haven’t tried opening the gates, then closing them again.  I believe this will work as long as the remainder of the fence is maintained with a charge.  If you give this a try, please keep me posted about the results!

I’ve heard a mix of reports from friends having their worst to best hunting season in the Midwest.  I do feel strongly that as more bucks are allowed to mature, the herd’s behaviors change.  I think herds with several bucks 4+ years old show much more of a lockdown style rut than herds with the biggest majority of bucks being 3 years old.  Three year old bucks tend to be more active and aggressive.  Once a herd has several big, mature bucks, the younger deer don’t tend to be as rowdy.  That’s not to say that hunting 4 year old bucks is boring, but that it requires a different strategy to be successful on a sustained basis.

I suspect the post rut hunts may be some of the best hunting during the 2010-11 season.  Let’s visit during February and see if this prediction is accurate.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Warts on Deer

Question

Dr. Woods,

I have noticed that several of the doe’s that we have seen on our farm have some type of large reddish looking warts on their bodies. Without seeing a picture is it possible for you to explain what this wart could be?  Is it safe to eat the meat if we harvest a deer that has one of these warts?

Thanks,

Brandon

Brandon,

I can’t positively identify what the lesions are without an image or personally examining the deer. However, I suspect they are fibromas. If so, they are not harmful to humans and only impact the quality of the meat if a secondary infection is present. Check out these images and description and see if you think they are fibromas.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Gun Preference

Question

Which is a better gun, a Savage .308 or a Savage 30-06? I’ve got the .308 and I’ve shot one deer with it. My brother has the 30-06, but he has missed three deer with a 30-30.

Which is better to plant for a food plot, clover or something else?

Good hunting,

Grant

Grant,

I’ve never shot either model of gun. However, I own both calibers in other models and they are both excellent for whitetails. I prefer the .308 as it has plenty of power to kill a whitetail and, depending on the model, usually has less recoil than a 30-06.

There are many good food plot crops. Clover works well in areas where it remains cool and moist most of the year (in northern states). It tends to go dormant during the frequent hot, dry summers that occur in southern states. Deer readily consume soybeans during the summer and corn during the winter. Winter wheat is an easy crop to grow during the fall and deer readily consume it if it has been well fertilized. Different crops produce better in different areas and different soils. Your local seed dealer or hunters experienced with food plots should be able to help you pick a food plot crop that grows well in your neighborhood.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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One Acre Cover Plots

Question

Grant,

I have 128 acres that my dad and I hunt, and one day my son will hunt with us. There are already three 1 acre plots on it. We are always improving our woods with browse and cover. However, I’m having a hard time determining a pattern for the deer, although I do see deer in each plot. Would it be better to create one larger plot in the middle of my property (about 5 acres) and convert the other plots to cover? I don’t want to because they are already there and I maintain them, but it has been hard to predict the deer movement. We usually kill one or two 3.5 year old deer per year, typically over the plots during the rut. We try hunting between cover and food but the best cover is on a neighboring property.  This makes it hard to get close to the edge without spooking deer, so we’ve found the best hunting near or on the plots.

Thanks,

Garry

Garry,

I think you’ve been very successful by harvesting one or two 3.5 year old bucks annually on 128 acres! Certainly harvesting one 3.5 year buck per 100 acres annually is above the national average!! However, properties can almost always be improved. Deer require food, cover, and water. Mature bucks usually use the best source of each of these in their range. Best may not be the best source based solely on quality, but their usage also depends on the amount of danger they associate with each resource. For example, you could have the best food source for deer in the neighborhood but if deer associate it with danger they won’t use it much during daylight hours.

If your neighbor has “the best” cover it’s doubtful one acre cover blocks will be better. I’d evaluate what’s the limiting factor in your neighborhood and make sure you have the best of that resource available on your property. By providing a resource that deer need and is most limited in your neighborhood, and working to insure deer don’t associate that resource with danger, you should have great hunting!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Hunting Thick Pines

Question

My dad and I are managing a 100 acre plot of land that is bordered by a creek on two sides and a small river at one end.  The area is heavily pressured by dogs, as all the hunters in the area are running them.  My dad and I restrict hunting to only stand and still hunting on our property, but the occasional group of dogs runs across our property from time to time.  I am getting into bowhunting heavily as well.

The land consists of 20 acres of cleared land and a mix of thick pines, underbrush and hardwoods in distinct separations.  We have not seen anything from our stands, which are all located in the hardwoods, but we find tracks on a regular basis all throughout the pines.  They are too thick to hunt from the ground.  There are minimal distances you can see if we set up a stand there.  Do you have any suggestions for hunting the deer in the pines or pulling them out of their cover?

Robbie

Robbie,

Hunting thick pines can be tough!  However there are some techniques that can help.  Deer will seek the easiest path of travel if they feel secure.  I’ve cut paths through thick cover with some openings or shooting lanes, especially for bowhunting.  I’m not describing cutting down large trees, but clearing the brush and vines between and below some of the trees.  Then, hang or place a ground blind with the predominant wind in your favor and create a path for you to approach/leave the stand.  Don’t hunt this stand if the wind is not in your favor.  Deer usually don’t tolerate much disturbance in their sanctuary.  Also, always stalk your stand as deer will also adapt to using the lane created to approach your stand.  If possible, I’d establish this setup on several sides of the pine thicket so you and your father can hunt with any wind direction.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What Rifle Do You Use?

Question

Hi Grant,

I just had a quick question about your rifle.  I noticed it is very compact. Would you mind sharing what brand or is it a custom built rifle?

Mike

Mike,

I was using a Steyr SSG4 rifle.  I use it as it came from the factory – there have been no modifications.  I have a Nikon Monarch 3-12×42 scope with a BDC reticle.  It is a short, but very accurate rifle.  It’s a .308 and I use Barnes VOR-TX ammo.  The gun, scope, and ammo are a fabulous combination!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Winter Food Plot Crops in Michigan

Question

Grant,

Thank you for the great information that you provide every week on your show, it is great to finally have a show that that puts the creator first.

I live in Michigan where baiting is no longer allowed, which means no mineral licks.  All of the crops around me are corn, which is harvested then disked under every year.  I lease 250 acres with about 2 acres available to plant in food plots (4 different locations).  What would be the best seeds to plant in those areas?  Two of the food plot locations are shady with only about 4 to 5 hours of sunlight during the summer months.  Thank you again for the awesome show.

Trevor

Trevor,

Thank you for the kind words!  It sounds as if you could have a fabulous situation!  The local commercial agricultural fields provide quality food during the warm season.  This is especially true if some of the neighboring acreage is planted in soybeans as corn forage is rarely consumed by deer during the growing season.  If that’s the case, I recommend concentrating on providing quality forage during the hunting season.  Heavily fertilized rye grain (not rye grass) and brassicas provide great cold season forage!!  If the deer density is relatively high in your neighborhood, a Gallagher Food Plot Protection fence may be necessary to protect the crops from over browsing until you are ready to hunt.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Patterning Deer

Question

I know where the deer bed and their routes.  Could you give me tips on how to hunt the deer down?  Hopefully I’ll have a steak on my plate at the end of gun season.

Jonathan (Massachusetts)

Jonathan,

Sounds like you almost have the deer in your area patterned!  Once you know where they go for food, cover, and water the challenge is how you can position a stand between those habitat features without disturbing the deer.  You have an excellent start to having venison soon!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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2011 Field Day Dates

Question

In your answer to a previous question you stated there will be two field days in 2011.  When will those dates and associated costs be available?

Andrew

Andrew,

I haven’t set dates for the shed hunt or field days yet.  The date for our 2011 Shed Hunt will be posted on our web site during early January.  The hunt will most likely be during late March – just before spring green up in the Ozarks and youth turkey season!

I hope you will join us!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Shoot or Don’t Shoot Spikes

Question

Years ago, a biologist in Texas wrote a book, “The King Of Deer”, and in it he wrote that his studies show that spikes are simply yearlings that did not get the right diet.  Now a number of Texas authorities say that is bunk and they tell everyone to shoot them.  I imagine that some of the spikes will never develop to be a 20″ 10 point, but they may grow to be good legal bucks. Have you done any studies on this?  Where does your research take place?

Chick

Chick,

Several researchers including Drs. Harry Jacobson, Mickey Hellickson, myself, etc., have researched both captive and free-ranging yearly bucks and without question spike bucks can and most often do produce average or better antlers as they mature!  In fact, some of Dr. Hellickson’s research in Texas shows that the difference in antler size, once allowed to mature, between bucks whose first set of antlers were spikes and those with 10 points is not substantially different when they are 4.5 years old.  The conclusion to his research was that shooting spikes only resulted in fewer bucks for hunters to harvest three years later.  Based on that and several other research projects I never recommend hunters harvest yearling bucks with spike antlers as a means to improve the herd’s average antler size.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Drawing Deer out of a Swamp

Question

Hi Grant,

The property I hunt has a large (30-40 acres) swampy area that is so thick around the edges that we can’t even see into it, much less gain access.  Food plots have not been successful in drawing the deer out of the swamp.  Do you have any advice for drawing deer out of a habitat that is large, incredibly thick, and provides everything the deer need?

Greg

Greg,

It sounds like you’re hunting next to a great sanctuary.  If there’s many deer using the swamp as cover, they are coming out to forage at sometime.  However, it may be only at night if the hunting pressure is heavy in the area.  Food is certainly a good attractant.  I’d study the swamp and surrounding area on an aerial image and determine all the probable food sources within practical range of the swamp and then investigate the likely travel routes to those food sources.  Remember that deer rarely travel in straight paths.  Consider the best travel routes based on cover and focus on those that allow you to approach without being detected.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Trailing Bucks

Question

Have you ever been to Maine?  I got a yearling buck last year that weighed 145 lbs.  This year we were walking to our spot when we saw an 8 point buck that was about to mount a doe.  A partridge then flew out in front of the buck and he went running like crazy.  We followed him for quite awhile.  In this situation would it be better to let him go or to chase him?

Elijah

Elijah,

Congratulations on harvesting a buck!  I have been to Maine.  Many hunters there are successful at trailing deer in the snow.  It’s a hunting technique that requires lots of patience and skill.  Usually if a deer is observed while following their track, it is only for a few seconds so there is very little time to prepare for the shot.  It’s even tougher to trail a deer with two folks as there is twice the noise, movement, etc.  However, it is an exciting hunting technique.  Every situation is different and good hunters simply learn which technique works best for them.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Mature bucks on 131 acres

Question

I just recently checked out your website and was impressed.  I live in Florida but I own 131 acres in the Ozarks (Douglas County) for 3 years now.  I put a lot of hard work on my land and see no improvement (lime, fertilize, mow, disk and plant all types of seed).  I get lots of pictures of young bucks and does but no big bucks.  I have 3 ponds, mature pines, and hardwoods with good bedding.  I think the neighbors shoot anything brown.  What am I doing wrong?

Tim

Tim,

Sounds like you have created good habitat.  Mature bucks will typically use the best habitat within their range disproportionately more than areas with lower quality food, cover, and water.  You may have the best habitat in the neighborhood, but the mature bucks are still probably spending some time on the neighboring properties.  If that’s the case and your neighbors aren’t of the mindset to pass immature bucks, then few bucks are probably reaching maturity at your farm.

You didn’t mention the creation of sanctuaries on your property.  Sanctuaries are critical for producing mature bucks on relatively small acreages.  I’d also visit with the neighbors about the benefits of allowing bucks to mature.  They may or may not be receptive at first.  However, it’s certainly worth a shot and I’d continue with the educational efforts.  Each buck that is passed will make the hunting in the neighborhood that much better!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Continue GrowingDeer.tv

Question

Just wanted to drop you a short note to say that I thoroughly enjoy your weekly videos.  I own a farm in northern Missouri, so big bucks are common in that part of the state.  I’m very impressed with the quality of the bucks that you have on your property, in one of the toughest parts of the state to grow big deer.  I hope you continue your videos into next year.  Keep up the good work and thanks for the helpful information.

Keith

Keith,

Thank you for the kind words!!  I enjoy sharing information with deer hunters and managers and GrowingDeer.tv is a great tool to share timely information!  Lord willing, I plan to continue with the show, our annual shed hunt, and food plot and habitat field trips.

Thanks for watching and please join us for a field trip!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Creating Bedding Areas

Question

I am having a lot of the old pine trees cut off my property and plan on putting a larger food plot in the center of the property.  How do I build bedding areas with hinge cutting (height and direction of cut)?  Is there a difference between buck and doe bedding areas?  Thanks, I’m looking forward to your answer.

Craig

Craig,

Deer like to bed and/or rest in areas where the cover at 0-3’ above ground level is very thick.  Anything above 3’ only serves to provide shade when it’s hot.  Such cover can be created by hinge cutting.  However, trees, even when they are hinged-cut, grow up rapidly.  Without additional cuts every few years, the cover will rapidly grow taller and shade out the critical 0-3’ zone that’s important to deer.  That’s why deer prefer to bed in thick grasses or other types of cover that doesn’t grow up as fast as trees.

With that said, deer will readily use the best cover within their range.  If the area where you planned the hinge cutting is primarily forest or open pasture land, then deer will most likely use any cover created!  Deer tend to select the best food and cover in their range.  By creating the best food and cover available in the neighborhood on your property, deer will use it disproportionately more than the surrounding areas.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Plant Identification

Question

Dr. Grant,

I had this plant come up in my turnip plot.  I have never seen it before.  There is only one of them in the whole plot.  It has a stalk like broccoli and a seed head similar to broccoli.  The leaves are about eight inches across.  Do you know what it is?  Any thoughts would be appreciated!

Looks like you have grown some beautiful deer on The Proving Grounds!

Thank you,

Andrew (Michigan)

Andrew,

I don’t know for sure what the plant is.  However, given that there is only one, that it looks like a brassica, and is among turnips in a food plot, I strongly suspect it is a forage brassica and the seed happened to be mixed with the seed you purchased.  If you are concerned, simply pull it before it can go to seed.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Hunt Invitation

Question

Are you interested in hunting in Dekalb County, Alabama?  In south Alabama the rut is in January.

Van

Van,

I’m very appreciative of the invitation to join you to hunt in Alabama!  Unfortunately, my schedule is jammed for this January.  Keep me in the loop about how you’re hunting progresses!

Growing Deer (and hunting) together,

Grant

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Best Food Plot Crop

Question

I have a dream spot in my backyard.  We have a 42 acre pasture with a pound and plenty of hardwoods.  I want a mature buck and I know they are around as I’ve seen them.  What would be a good food plot to help get one in?

Jordan (eastern North Carolina)

Jordan,

It sounds as if you’ve been blessed with a good hunting location!  Different crops mature at different times during the season.  Soybeans are extremely attractive to deer during the early season.  If they are managed to allow them to produce bean pods, deer readily consume the pods during the late season.  I’ve used Eagle Seed soybeans for years and they have proven their worth time and again.

Deer will readily consume heavily fertilized winter wheat and it is relatively easy to grow.  There are many more options.  I always consider what’s available on the surrounding properties and make sure the food on my place is more attractive than what deer might find across the fence.  For example, if your property is surrounded by timber and/or pasture grass, then almost any common food plot that is heavily fertilized would be the most attractive food source in the neighborhood. If the neighbors have production soybeans and corn, then you may plan on planting crops that mature late and are available after the commercial crops have been harvested.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Minimum Size for Deer Hunting Property

Question

I am looking at available land in Maine to purchase and build a house.  I am an avid hunter, and specifically am looking at lots with acreage, with the hope of successfully hunting on my own property for years to come.  What do you feel would be the minimum amount of land (acres) that would be needed to be able to positively affect the deer population?

Thanks,

Brock

P.S. I just found your website for the first time today.  It is awesome to see you taking the time to take your kids hunting and teaching them the wonders of God’s creation.  My wife and I are expecting our first daughter in February, and I look forward to the opportunity to do the same!  God Bless!

Brock,

Congratulations on expecting your first child!  If I would have realized how great kids were earlier in my life, I would have probably had a quiver full!!

The “minimum amount of land needed” to be able to manage deer is extremely variable based on the quality of each property and the quality and activities on the neighboring properties.  For example, my place (which is called The Proving Grounds) is 1,500+ acres.  However, there are 34 neighboring properties and they don’t have the same deer management objectives as I do.

On the other hand, a friend of mine owns 136 acres in Missouri that borders a 2,000 acre state park.  Some of the largest bucks in Missouri harvested during the past three consecutive years have been taken on those 136 acres.

I suggest you carefully consider your long-term deer management objectives.  Then consider if the property you are considering is large enough to support those objectives and/or if the neighbors will cooperate to help you achieve your deer management objectives.  The size of deer home ranges is extremely variable throughout the whitetail’s range.  However, a constant is that the better the habitat, the smaller the average deer home range size in that area tends to be.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Internship at The Proving Grounds

Question

Hello,

I am a student at the University of Michigan with a strong passion for habitat management and preserving hunting traditions.  As a sophomore, I am currently in the process of choosing a career path and I am looking for opportunities to observe professionals in their respective careers.  I stumbled upon your website today.  After watching all of your videos and reading about The Proving Grounds, I am confident that an opportunity to observe and learn from you would be beneficial to my future.  I understand that you are very busy.  Any help and/or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Hunter

Hunter,

You are on the right track!  I took a volunteer position with the Bureau of Land Management while in undergrad school and it was a great step in my career path!!  I have several habitat improvement projects planned for this summer.  However, I don’t have any funds designated to pay an intern to assist with this work.  If there are intern or project scholarships available at your school, I’ll be happy to review the program.  I can promise you that you would gain a huge amount of experience in wildlife and habitat management working with my team.  I enjoy working with graduate students and interns.  I’m very thankful for the opportunity my first volunteer position provided.  It was through the Student Conservation Association which is still a good organization.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Barometric Pressure

Question

Dear Grant,

Could you please explain how and why barometric pressure affects deer?  Is it biological, social, or instinct?  I have been trying to watch the barometer and time my hunting according to when the pressure is moving up or down in the range of 30 plus or minus .1 (my job always seem to get in the way).  I understand why we feel the way we do when it is a cold, rainy day and the pressure is low.  I do not understand why deer do not move all that much when the pressure is high.

Thank you for everything you are doing.  You are living my dream.

Jesse

Jesse,

Several research biologists, including myself, have attempted to find a pattern of deer activity related to changes in barometric pressure.  I’m not aware of anyone that has found any meaningful results.  I think this is because of the huge number of additional influences such as wind speed, wind direction temperature, humidity, etc.  In fact, I’ve tried very large, complicated statistical models that included these and more factors and still haven’t found a trend that predicts deer activity accurately.

Generically, I’m confident that deer move before and after significant changes in weather.  However, since such changes can’t be predicted more than a few days in advance, there’s no way to plan hunting dates weeks ahead of time.  After years of trying to find a pattern, the best I can offer is hunt when you can!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Broadhead Selection

Question

What kind of broadheads do you like to use?  I shoot Muzzy MX-4’s but I have been thinking about buying some Rage broadheads, but for twice the price I am not sure if they are worth it. What do you think?

Thanks,

Peter

 

 

Peter,

I’ve been using the RedHead BlackOut Broadheads this year and am extremely pleased with the results.  I’ve shot two mature bucks, one doe, a coyote, and some small game.  The bucks had short, paintbrush blood trails.  I was a tad high on the doe (GDTV 45) and actually shot completely through her spine!!  I’ve never had a broadhead perform like that.  Usually, broadheads deflect above or below the spine, but the RedHead BlackOut broadhead is extremely sharp and tough.

I also like that that broadhead flies exactly like my field points at 50 yards.  I’m a huge believer in practicing with Broadheads, but I’ve found that is not necessary with the Blackouts with my setup.  Finally, they are a great value – they are less expensive than comparable quality heads.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Food Plot Crop for Iowa

Question

I live in Iowa and I need a plant that will attract a lot of deer and will give them enough protein for them to grow big racks, preferably something that will sprout quickly.

Mason

Mason,

We all want that magic bean that will sprout quickly, be extremely attractive to deer, yet deer won’t over browse the crop.  Unfortunately, I’ve yet to find that crop.  Crop selection for food plots is not only based on these criteria but also what other food sources are available in the area.  For example, deer will readily consume lower quality food in heavily wooded areas, but won’t touch them when they are planted next to a soybean field.

Antlers are a by-product of an overall healthy diet that includes plenty of digestible protein, calcium, phosphorous, and several trace minerals.  No single plant provides everything that is needed to produce healthy deer.  Soybeans probably come as close as any crop.  That’s why most of the large-antlered bucks harvested are found close to an area that produces soybeans.  I plant soybeans at The Proving Grounds and there are no production soybeans for several counties around.  However, Eagle Seed forage soybeans are easy to grow and very drought resistant.  They are very palatable to deer and shouldn’t be planted in small food plots unless they are protected by a Gallagher Food Plot Protection Fence.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Dove Field by Deer Food Plot

Question

If one plants food plots for deer near fields where dove hunting is to take place, will the dove hunting in September negatively affect the deer hunting in October, November and December?  Or is it better to have dove plots in one area and have deer/turkey plots in another with some distance between them?

Tom

Tom,

I like to limit disturbance near food plots that I plan to hunt as much as practical.  However, deer readily become conditioned to accept activities they don’t association with danger.  I’ve watched deer feeding 200 yards from a very active sporting clay range.  The range was used frequently and the deer became conditioned to the presence of the shooters and the noise.

However, if the range was only used infrequently, I doubt the deer would have been as tolerant of the activity.  Another factor is if there are alternate food sources available in the area of equal or better quality.  If there are, the deer may simply use the alternate food sources.  The availability and distribution of food has a lot to do with where deer forage.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What’s in the book “Deer Management 101”?

Question

Could you please describe what type of information is covered in your book, Deer Management 101: Manage Your Way to Better Hunting?

Thank you,

Craig

Craig,

The subject of Deer Management 101 is about the principles of deer herd management.  I explain in simple terms the advantages and disadvantages of managing for different adult sex ratios, age structures, differing numbers of deer per the amount of food available, etc.  It has gads of pictures, graphs and tables that are easy to understand and the information is easy to apply to specific hunting properties.  It’s about deer management and the implications of differing quality habitats, but does not address specific habitat management techniques such as food plots, prescribed fire, etc.

I hope you enjoy and benefit from Deer Management 101!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Which Trail Camera to Buy

Question

I am interested in getting a game camera but I am a little confused on what to buy.  Do you have any recommendations or what to look for when buying one?

Bofiss

Bofiss,

I evaluate trail cameras based on:

  1. Whether they spook deer with noise or flash
  2. Quality of images
  3. Battery life
  4. Value of product (price versus length of service)

I’ve had two Reconyx cameras for more than six years!  Those two older models are still working and in the woods today.  I’ve never had another brand work that long!  In fact, I was using Reconyx cameras years before they became a sponsor.  Many times I’ve been filming a buck while his picture was being taken by a Reconyx camera and I’ve never seen a buck react or act like he knew his picture was being taken.  For me, Reconyx is the best value when considering the criteria listed above.  I suggest you use the criteria I’ve listed above and check out several reviews online before making a selection.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Minimum Size of Cover Areas

Question

Grant,

Is there a minimum acreage that’s necessary for switchgrass or other NWSGs to be effective as bedding?  I read where you recommend as big of blocks of cover as possible, such as 10 acres.  I have some areas that are only 2 to 5 acres and am wondering if it’s worth planting switchgrass for cover?  If there’s no use should I plant food plots there instead (although I don’t really need more food)?

Thanks,

Garry

Garry,

Native warm season grasses and other types of cover in any size acreages will be used by deer and other game species.  However, the smaller the area of cover the easier it is for predators to detect the game within the cover.  In addition, deer are not herd animals like elk.  They, especially mature bucks, like their space.

So, if your property has a limited supply of cover, I’d convert the larger plots into cover if you have more than enough quality forage available during both the late summer and late winter stress periods.  I wouldn’t convert food plot acreage to cover if there is not enough food during those stress periods as you would simply be spending resources to solve one problem and create another.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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When to Call

Question

Grant,

When is it time to stop grunting or rattling when trying to attract mature bucks?  When should I stop using attractants, such as estrous?  Basically I am asking the best methods to attract deer during a time when you are unsure if the rut is over or not.

Dave

Dave,

A grunt call and rattling antlers/bag are always in my possession no matter when I hunt.  I have found that grunt calling and to an extent rattling are both neutrals-to-positives in the deer woods.  I rarely see a deer act negatively to the grunt call.  Deer are curious critters and respond well to calling in the right situation.  One situation where I don’t use either a grunt or rattle call is if a buck is close enough to see the source of the call.  Bucks that hear a call but don’t see a deer where they think one should be often leave the area.

I have gads of Reconyx images of mature bucks actively fighting a month after the peak of the rut.  This late activity is often due to fawns reaching sexual maturity (at approximately 70 lbs).  One estrous doe in the middle of several bucks without a date can create some tremendous activity.  As you can imagine, this kind of ruckus can keep bringing in bucks just like you can by rattling and grunting.

After the peak of the rut is over I tend to change my hunting strategy to focus on food sources.  The temperatures are dropping and deer are in need of energy.  Anywhere I can find food and a good number of does there is a greater chance a mature buck is going to be traveling through the area.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Stand vs. Still Hunting

Question

Grant,

When it comes time to go hunting is it better to sit in a tree stand or is it better to walk around and try to harvest one?  What is the best thing to do when you know that there are deer in the area?

Jon

Jon,

Deciding whether to still hunt (stealthily move through deer habitat) or stand hunt is largely dependent on what a hunter enjoys more.  I personally like to still hunt when I’m using a firearm more than stand hunting for two reasons.  The first is that I can keep the wind in my favor by simply changing directions.  The second is that I can time when I’m at what type of habitat.  For example, I ease by a cover area earlier in the afternoon and end up at a food source just before dark.  When I still hunt, I move very, very slowly – almost to the point that my body physically hurts due to holding positions to avoid movement or making noise when I sense a deer is near.  It’s difficult to pick my way around crunchy branches, leaves, etc. while trying to see deer before they see me.

With a bow I prefer to stand hunt, although I’ve had great success with my bow still hunting.  In general, getting deer close enough for a bow shot while still hunting is quite a challenge to perform on a consistent basis.  This is especially true with a cameraman and equipment in tow.

Both are fun and rewarding techniques!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Holding Bucks on a Property During the Summer

Question

Mr. Woods,

I have 145 acres that I have managed for 10 years.  I have a 1/4 acre turnip, wheat, clover field, and ½ acre clover field, and the Fisher River runs through the property.  The timber was cut 15 years ago and is still fairly dense.  The bucks don’t stay on my property in the summer.  I’ve got Trophy Rocks and two feeders out.  There are two doe groups that call my place home.  How can I get the bucks to call my place home all year?

Brandon (North Carolina)

Brandon,

In order to hold bucks throughout the year a property must contain good quality food, cover, and water.  It appears that your property has plenty of water.  Next, let’s consider food.  Turnips, wheat, and clover are good food sources during certain times of the year.  Deer readily consume turnips and wheat during the fall and early spring but once they “bolt,” or make a stem during the spring, their attractiveness and forage value quickly drops.  Clover is a great protein source during cool, moist seasons but tends to not provide much forage during the dry portions of summer and during the late winter.  I would try to increase my summer food sources by increasing acreage and planting Eagle Seed forage soybeans or even chicory depending on the plot size and number of deer.  The quality and quantity of crops produced are dependent on the soil’s fertility so it is critical to do an annual soil test and lime and fertilize as needed.

I also suggest you view the cover from a deer’s point of view.  Is there a significant amount of sunlight reaching the forest floor?  Is it difficult to see more than a few feet?  Sunlight means there should be ample growth that can provide both food and cover.  If the forest’s canopy has closed and limited sunlight is reaching the soil, it may be time to consider thinning a portion of the timber.

I’m glad to hear you are using Trophy Rocks.  I get gads of buck pictures throughout the summer at my mineral stations.  Remember, if you provide quality food, cover, and water throughout the year, it is likely bucks will remain on your property!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Number of Points Related to a Buck’s Age?

Question

Grant,

I have heard that once a buck is 3.5 years old that how many points they have is usually the most they will ever have.  Is this true?  We have some video of a buck last year that had a bad front left leg and he was a 120” 8 point.  This year my cousin shot that deer and he was a 155” 10 point at 4.5 years old.  We know it is the same deer because his left front leg is bad.  We had a bad drought here as well, without any rain for 3 ½ months.

Jarvis

Jarvis,

Wow – that’s a neat observation.  Typically by the time a buck reaches 3.5 years old he is only expressing up to 75% of his growth antler potential.  Because bucks have the potential to add a substantial amount of antler growth between 3.5 and 4.5, I prefer to allow them the extra year to mature.  In many cases, as a buck matures he begins throwing more non-typical points.  So, the number of points can certainly change.  I wouldn’t put much stock in the statement “the number a buck will produce is maxed out by the time he is 3.5 years old.”

Given the drought conditions you mentioned, the buck you speak of is probably more of a unique scenario because he was potentially battling a wound last year and was able to put more resources toward growing bone this year.  Severe droughts can limit antler growth.  Finally, it’s important to remember that bucks are unique individuals and the best we can do is discuss averages as any individual can show a totally different antler growth pattern.  Thanks for sharing that unique observation!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Managing 4,000 Acres

Question

Dear Grant,

Our hunting club has been following a management program for many years.  On a 4,000 acre farm we plant around 80 acres in a mixture of clover, Eagle Seed forage soybeans and a wheat/oat combination in the fall.  We maintain about 40 mineral licks on this property and we feel we are at a point where we may have reached our potential.  We only harvest about 8 to 12 mature 4 year old bucks a year.  We feel that on some parts of the property we can carry more deer while others parts may need additional harvest of does.  Our pre-season camera survey shows our fawn recruitment may be low as we have also seen a significant increase in predators on the farm.  Should we hammer the predators, slack off on the doe harvest and continue to provide quality year round forage?  If we can’t grow deer over 140” can we can grow more of them?  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Lance (northwest Alabama)

Lance,

It sounds like you have a good deer management program.  I’m glad to hear that you are collecting data before making management decisions.  Camera surveys are a great method of learning deer herd dynamics, however caution must be given to actual fawn recruitment totals from a pre-season survey.  During this time of year some fawns are not old enough to be at the doe’s side.  It is best to look at these numbers as trends from year-to-year.  Collecting hunter observation data is another way of collecting fawn recruitment data and if implemented correctly can provide more accurate results.

Determining how many does to harvest should be based on both a camera survey and the foraging pressure on food resources, with more emphasis on the available food during the two stress periods – late summer and late winter.  To easily and accurately monitor this I place at least one utilization cage (4X10 ft piece of woven wire with the ends tied together) in each food plot to see how much deer are eating compared to growth inside the cage.  If the forage in food plots in some areas of the property is heavily eaten it may be time to harvest more does or increase food plot acreage in that area.

In either case I highly recommend implementing a sustained predator control program.  Coyotes, in particular, can cause a huge amount of stress on adult deer and mortality on fawns.  A recent study in Alabama suggested that fawn recruitment rose 150+% after a heavy predator reduction program.  There is no doubt that coyotes can have a huge impact on deer population quality and quantity!

By maintaining ample high quality food on a year round basis, practicing quality deer management, and reducing predators, the herd’s health will most like improve substantially.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Identifying Habitat Needs in the Mountains

Question

Dr. Woods,

Great website!  I appreciate your dedication to this great sport.

I have 1,500 mountainous acres that have been stripped for mining and logged.  The strip pits have been planted in food plots and adequately support our deer herd.  The loggers left several logging roads cutting around these mountains that have since become overgrown.  With the steep terrain, the deer use these logging roads as much as possible.  My question involves how to manipulate this terrain to allow a more huntable setup while providing natural food and cover.  I am fortunate to have a very skilled dozer operator to help with this.  Should I “touch up” these logging roads and create bottlenecks with the dozer?  Should I clear off ridge tops and wide benches and allow undergrowth to grow back?  I’m looking to manipulate these hard-to-hunt areas with a dozer and a chainsaw.  Any suggestions?

Mark

Mark,

As you have noticed deer readily adapt to man-made roads, especially after they grow up providing concealment for both bedding and movements.  This short, brushy habit is very important for cover but can quickly grow too tall to continue providing cover and is also very difficult to hunt.  If the brush on the roadways is wrist thick or smaller in diameter at the base, a prescribed fire may help to set it back.

You mentioned you have plenty of food plots.  Does this mean there is ample quality forage left over during the two stress periods of late summer and late winter?  If so, you have the ability to produce bucks that are expressing their full antler growth and body weight potential!  Also, if food is over abundant, then creating large clearcuts on ridge tops may be a good plan.  I like food on the ridge tops as the wind is usually more predictable on the ridge tops and therefore easier to hunt.  Deer will bed anywhere there is cover, so you can create bedding areas on the side slopes, etc., and leave the prime hunting areas for food.

With that said, gads of deer are harvested from clearcuts every year if a few suitable trees are left along the edges for stand placement.  Large cover areas can be great all day hunting locations.  Just remember to approach such areas from downwind to minimize disturbance during entry.  Here again, prescribed fire and herbicide application of unwanted cut stumps will keep the cut in an early successional stage.

The problem with using hardwood regeneration for cover (or food) is that they rapidly mature past the cover stage into a closed canopy that goes from quality cover to a desert for whitetails.  To maintain hardwoods as a source of cover, be prepared to do frequent thinning or aggressive prescribed fire to continue reducing the growth to a non-closed canopy stand.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Attracting Bucks in North Carolina

Question

Grant,

I have two stands I hunt the most.  I live in North Carolina and in one of the spots we have a climbing stand and know there were three or more mature bucks around before gun season started.  My stand is right on a trail that has 3+ rubs but every time I hunt there I never see anything.  I also have another stand that has been set up for 13 years.  It is right on the edge of a thicket that is too high to see in but I know there are deer there.  This stand is also on a creek. All I have seen hunting in this stand is does. Here in North Carolina the rut is still on and I was wondering if you have any tips on how to draw any size buck out to either location.

Thanks,

Luke

Luke,

That is a good question.  I have been in this same situation and have found that occasionally trying a brand new location now and again can really pay off.  Sometimes hunters (me included) get in a pattern of hunting one or two great locations.  It’s a tough decision to attempt to find a new stand location once the season gets rolling.  In the last several years I have really pushed myself to try new stand locations every year.  I find the most recent sign, throw up a stand, and come back to hunt it when the wind is right.  Remember that deer pattern hunters probably better than hunters pattern deer.  Changing stand locations and never hunting a stand when the wind is wrong are very important steps to harvesting bucks on a consistent basis!

No matter what stand I’m in I always have a grunt tube handy.  Deer are extremely social animals and given the right circumstances can respond very well to a call, especially during the rut.  I’m lightly blowing on the grunt call every 20 minutes or so during the rut.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Learning the Movement Patterns of Deer

Question

Grant,

Hello!  This past winter I started leasing 1,000 acres near Gainesville, Missouri.  We are trying to learn the patterns/movements of the deer on our property.  What are some efficient ways to go about this?

Wyatt

Wyatt,

At The Proving Grounds we have Reconyx trail cameras out year round.  We have cameras placed on food plots, mineral licks, saddles, pinch points, etc.  From these cameras we archive all mature buck pictures in Reconyx image software.  Their software is phenomenal at allowing me to literally see every picture of each buck on an aerial photo of the property and each successive movement from camera-to-camera site.

When placing cameras I like to keep them as close to vehicle access as possible to limit disturbance as I check them.  Several of my cameras are checked right out my truck window.  Since truck traffic is a normal part of daytime activities on The Proving Grounds I can practice minimal disturbance entry (M.D.E.).  Once I determine the general movements of the herd I then start scouting until I find high quality sign.  After the hunting season closes is a great time to find hot trails, rubs, scrape lines, and even shed antlers that further help me to formulate a plan for the next season.  Trail cameras allow me to scout without disturbing the entire property – a key to patterning and harvesting mature bucks!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Where Have the Mature Bucks Gone?

Question

Hi Grant,

I have taken several big bucks over the past ten years.  I have six stands on 2,000 acres.  I have hunted and scouted hard during bow and gun season.  I only saw one shooter buck and he was busted up so I let him walk.  I saw a bunch of spikes and forked bucks.  Any ideas what has happened?  I had several pictures of 135” to 160” deer last year on five cameras and now I don’t have any buck pictures this year.

Marlon

Marlon,

The presence and observability of bucks on any property is largely affected by variables such as the size and duration of the acorn crop, crop rotation by farmers, age structure of bucks, actions of neighbors, etc.  This year I had a bumper crop of red oak acorns and the deer herd responded to them in a big way.  My food plots look better than ever with the primary reason being the deer weren’t using them until last week.  I had to adjust by placing more stands in acorn areas and travel corridors between acorns and bedding areas.  Many hunters throughout the Midwest report the same observations.  However, now that the temperatures are dropping, many of the acorns have been consumed, and the food plots/crop fields are sure to be hot spots soon.

All across America more and more people are allowing young bucks to walk in the hope of seeing/harvesting mature bucks.  Older bucks by default are more wary and more difficult to see/hunt.  Everyone, including myself, has to think about our hunting strategies and develop new tactics to successfully pursue mature bucks year after year.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Keeping Cows Out of Food Plots

Question

Hey Grant,

Just want to say that I stumbled upon your show and I have watched about 20 episodes and I really like what you are doing, keep it up!!

How would you go about planting or hunting ground with cows?  Both of my properties are half timber and half cattle pastures.  I get a lot of deer pictures in the summer but no luck in the winter.  What location is best for a mineral lick?  This is primarily how I get my summer pictures, but I do not think it is 90% of the herd.

Sincerely,

Kalvin (northwest Missouri)

Kalvin,

Cows can make it difficult to plant a high quality food source.  I have had the greatest success by excluding cows from a portion of the property.  An easy way to exclude them would be with a single stranded Gallagher fence.  With only one strand the deer will adapt to jumping over it while the cows will remain outside it.  This will allow you to properly plant, fertilize, and grow a high quality food source.  With one or more good food sources deer become much more patternable, especially in an area dominated by pasture land.  I like to hunt the travel corridors between bedding areas and food sources so the deer continue to utilize the food during daylight hours.

I place Trophy Rock mineral licks wherever I think deer are already traveling, below a pond, food plot, etc.  Although I’ve tested the herd’s ability to find mineral by throwing Trophy Rocks into extremely brushy areas and the deer still readily found them.  I like Trophy Rocks because of their sheer number of trace minerals – over 60!  I usually place one about every 160 acres.

Lastly, if you want to increase your camera success and get a better idea of your herd composition I suggest doing a camera survey.  With the help of corn in early August you shouldn’t have too much problem getting a large portion of the herd to stand in front of the camera.  A camera station/s can be set up inside the electric fence/s to exclude cows.   Just be sure to have the corn cleaned up at least two weeks before the start of the first hunting season.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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State Regulations

Question

Grant,

For the past couple of years I’ve been under the understanding that with my Missouri archery tags I can shoot a buck before gun season and after gun season but if I don’t shoot one before gun season I can only shoot one after.  Recently I’ve been told I can shoot two bucks after gun season if I didn’t get one before gun season.  I checked the MDC website but that wasn’t very clear either.  Can you clear this up for me?

Jordan

Jordan,

Sometimes I don’t understand hunting regulations either.  This is really a problem when hunting multiple states during the same year.  I reread Missouri’s archery regulations and interpret them to say that you can shoot two bucks with your bow after the rifle season if you did not harvest one before the rifle season in Missouri and still have two “any deer” bow tags left.  However, I’m not an employee of the Missouri Department of Conservation and you certainly need to check with one of their employees to confirm I’ve interpreted the regulations correctly.  Most conservation agents know the regulations well and enjoy speaking with hunters.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Shape of Food Plots

Question

Grant,

I’m looking to enclose a part of my property with a few shrub or tree lines.  This chunk of the property is roughly three acres.  After I enclose the field, I would like to plant a food plot.  I am trying to persuade the deer to stay on my property instead of using it for a quick passageway.  I have also noticed that the bucks don’t roam on my property either.  I’m hoping to attract them.  What should I plant and what pattern should I plant the tree lines and food plot to make it a deer haven?

Sincerely,

Lee (Michigan)

Lee,

If I were to plant shrubs or trees I would plant them along the border of the property to obscure the vision of neighboring hunters.  However, I am a much bigger fan of planting stands of native warm season grass.  Tall warm season grasses such as switchgrass and big bluestem provide tremendous thermal cover to limit cold stress and are great for fawning cover during the spring.  In addition, unlike a tree or shrub that may take a decade to become established, native grass is often thick and vibrantly growing within a couple of years.

At the latitude where your property is located a cool season food plot mix of winter wheat and brassicas will capture the herd’s attention.  Winter wheat is generally available at a local ag store while a brassica mix can be purchased from any reputable wildlife seed dealer.  With a soil test and appropriate lime/fertilization, the deer’s table will be set.

Deer seek quality food, cover, and water.  The best way to encourage deer to use your property more than the neighbors’ is to determine if food, cover, or water is scarce in your area and then provide it on your property.  For example, if food is widely available, adding more food won’t necessarily encourage deer to increase the time they spend on your property.  Provide the limiting habitat type in an environment that allows deer to feel secure and deer will readily adapt to using that resource.

A final thought.  The shape of a food plot is not nearly as important as the quality of the food produced or the timing it is available (great food during June won’t attract deer to your property during the fall).  In addition, it is critical to insure deer don’t associate your property with fear.  Don’t overhunt the food plots, etc. on your property!   Make sure you can approach and leave stands without alerting deer or they will become conditioned to using your property only during the dark.  This is critical to managing small acreages which tend to get hunted so frequently that deer simply avoid them during daylight hours.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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When do I open my food plot fence?

Question

Dear Grant,

My question is in regards to the Eagle Seed forage soybeans.  I am considering planting some forage soybeans next season.  I have two destination food plots that are approximately ¾ to 1 acre in size.  However, in my past experience with either corn or soybeans, there has been immense browsing pressure from deer and turkeys during the early development stage of my plantings.  This has ultimately disrupted the growth of the plots and my ability to establish a good stand.  This coming year I plan to employ the two-stage fencing system that you discuss, in order to increase my ability to establish those plots.

After employing the fence, how long would you leave the fence in operation before allowing the deer to enter the plot?  I know that the forage soybeans are designed to provide forage through the summer months via their leaves, and then of course the added late season forage.  However, when should you start to allow that browsing pressure to happen, in order to not stunt the growth significantly?  Also, do you completely remove the fencing at The Proving Grounds, or just allow one area of entrance, leaving the remaining fence in operation?

What are your thoughts on the size of my food plots for growing forage soybeans?  I know you discuss planting soybeans and corn in large plots.  Unfortunately, my property is mostly hardwoods.  Without incurring significant clearing costs, I may be able to expand some of my plots to 1 1/2 acres.  Do you think with the implementation of the food plot protection my plots would be large enough?

Thanks for your thoughts!

Rob (Michigan)

Rob,

I think a fencing system is a tremendous tool that allows deer managers to provide quality nutritional forage such as Eagle Seeds forage soybeans.  If providing forage throughout the summer and fall is the goal I would open the fence about four to six weeks (depending on growing conditions) after they germinate.  This will give the soybeans time to completely shade the ground after your second glyphosate application (when using Roundup Ready soybeans).  At this point their roots will be well developed and if the crop was planted fairly early in the planting season over 5 months of leaf foraging time.  If your desire is to provide maximum grain production for fall forage I would leave the fence shut all summer.  Factors affecting these decisions are the number of deer in the local herd and the amount of food resources available in the area.

I would just open a gate in the fence and leave the rest of the fence hot.  This way come hunting season you know where the herd is entering and leaving the plot.  The important aspect is to never leave the fence in place without electricity running to it or the deer will learn they can safely jump over it.

To allow deer to express their full potential I like to provide more forage than the herd can eat, so if a couple more acres are available I recommend adding them to your food plot program.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What Time of Day to Hunt?

Question

Grant,

I have a very important question.  This is my first year hunting white-tailed deer.  I have never killed a deer before in my life but I want to harvest one this season for sure.  I live in southwest Tennessee around Nashville.  What time do the mature bucks usually come out from bedding to feeding or vice versa?  I have found the most used path the deer take and I will be setting my climbing stand about 15 feet off the path.  The path has got walls of saplings and hardwood trees surrounding it.  I feel this is where the buck makes his morning, midday or afternoon route, but I’m not sure when.  The reason of the question is because I need to know the best time to go in and hunt that very hot spot.

Chris

Chris,

I’m glad you’re excited about hunting!  If you plan to hunt at or near feeding areas, I would go during the afternoon.  There is a high probability of spooking deer when approaching feeding areas during the morning as deer are probably close by.  If you are hunting travel corridors or near bedding areas, try hunting during the mornings.  This should allow you to approach the stand and not alert deer as they will most likely be near feeding areas.

However, during the peak of the rut I try to hunt as many hours as practical.  Based on my hunting experiences and from viewing thousands of trail camera pictures the bucks often remain active throughout the day during the rut.  My good friend Jessica Brooks from Barnes Bullets experienced this while hunting The Proving Grounds this season.  Jessica and I got to the stand about 9:00 AM on the first day she was here and decided to hunt until 2:00 PM or so.  As soon as we got in our stands a buck was moving across the powerline we were watching.  We remained in our stands through lunch and at 1:30 PM a hit list buck came cruising across the right of way.  Jessica’s VOR-TX bullet worked perfectly and it was all smiles and a downhill drag during the early afternoon!

Basically, if it’s the rut hunt, hunt, hunt.  Any other time of the year consider why deer would be moving in the area of your stand and if you can approach the stand without alerting deer.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Holding Mature Bucks on Small Properties

Question

Grant,

I own 30 acres and I’m wanting to know the best way to try and pull deer off surrounding land.  I put in about 2 acres of corn and beans while trying to let the back 5 acres grow up.  As expected, I just get bucks on my land during the rut.  How do I keep the bucks around?

Thanks,

Dane

Dane,

I think you are already on the right track.  Two things I would focus on are maximizing the productivity of the food plots to make sure you have enough food to last through the hunting season and minimizing disturbance.  I am a big fan of Roundup Ready crops because I have the ability to nearly eliminate weed competition both before planting and well after the crop has come up.  This helps to ensure that my lime/fertilizer is being utilized by the crops, eaten by deer, and transferred to the bodies and antlers of my deer herd.  Healthy plants are also more palatable to deer and thus hold their attention better.

Disturbance can be difficult to manage on small properties because they are often multiuse areas.  To maximize deer use I always try to limit my presence as much as possible.  Obviously planting/spraying, etc. is required but other than that I try to stay out of the areas designated as cover or sanctuaries.

Remember that deer require food, cover, and water daily.  If you have the best sources of food, cover, and water in your neighborhood and deer don’t associate these resources with danger, mature bucks will spend a majority of their time on your property versus the neighbors.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Tours of The Proving Grounds

Question

I hunt about 1,000 acres on Bear Creek just off of Highway 65.  I have put in a few food plots this year but have had very little success hunting them.  The acorn crop this year is what I suspect is to blame.  Have you had any similar experiences?

Also, I was wondering if you ever give educational tours at The Proving Grounds? I am trying to decide what type of changes I should make to create a more desirable food source.

Thanks for your help.

Jake

Jake,

I agree with you that deer are not using food plots in our neighborhood because they are still feeding on the huge crop of acorns.  My wife recently went to western Kansas on a pheasant hunt and she reports seeing gads of deer in ag fields.  There are very, very few acorns in western Kansas so deer are much easier to pattern there because the food sources are much more constant and predictable!  However, I think the acorn crop is mostly consumed and deer should begin using our food plots soon.

I’ve had outstanding crops (even in the drought we experienced in our neighborhood this year) with the recipe we show on GrowingDeer.tv.  We use Antler Dirt, a composted and humified poultry litter.  The primary warm and cool season crop I grow for deer is Eagle Seed forage soybeans.  This combination works wonderfully on our poor, rocky Ozark soils.

We will be hosting one shed hunt this spring and two field days during the late summer.  There will be details posted about each of these events as they approach.  We’ve started a waiting list for these events as they were very popular last year and folks want to pre-register for the 2011 events.  We limit attendance to 100 folks at each event for logistical reasons.  You can be placed on the pre-registration list by emailing your name and contact information to us.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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NWSG Mix for Bedding Cover

Question

Grant,

I have 2 acres of food plot ground that I need to turn into a bedding area.  Do you recommend the normal little/big bluestem/indian grass, monoculture of switchgrass, or something new that I can experiment with?  I don’t mind being a guinea pig with something you might want tried.  I’ve always worked with the philosophy nothing ventured, nothing gained.  I have over 400 acres (200 woods, 15 water, 100 normal prairie mix, 30 food plots, and 55 farmed) in west central Indiana with lots of ground around me being farmed.  I’ve been working with this land about 10 years. Any ideas are much appreciated.  All I want is for the bucks to reach their full potential.

A Brother in Christ,

Percy

Percy,

It’s sounds as if you have a wonderful habitat management program in place!  I also like to experiment, but I think we’d both be better served experimenting with something that isn’t as proven as the native warm season grass mix that you discussed.  That mix, or maybe that mix plus 20% switchgrass is a great recipe for creating bedding/escape cover.  The only suggestion I would add is that I like bedding areas a bit larger.  Coyotes can probably smell every deer in a 2 acre area when they are downwind.  The other experiment might be different varieties of the same species you mentioned.  For example, I’ve had great success with Cave In Rock switchgrass.  However there are gads of other varieties.  With the habitat you described and allowing bucks to reach maturity, they should be able to express their full potential!  Let me know what you try and learn!

Growing Deer (and learning) together,

Grant

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How to Collect Harvest Data

Question

Grant,

I love your GrowingDeer.tv shows, excellent topics and video.  Could you do a video on collecting harvest data?  What to collect and why?  Most importantly, how to remove the jawbone?

Thanks and happy hunting!

Britt

Britt,

Thanks for the kind words!!  We film what we are doing each week and have time to film.  When we are collecting data on a project, we tend to be very busy weighing, measuring, recording, etc.  Our data collection sessions are usually not a pretty sight, and we don’t seem to slow down to mess with the camera while on those projects.  However, data collection is a very important topic, so we’ll try to remember to record that information when appropriate.  Until then, remember that estimating the age based on the lower jaw, an accurate body weight (be consistent and collect either all whole or gutted weights), gender, and antler size or lactation are the basics that everyone should collect to help manage their deer herd!  Trends in the average weight per age/gender class is an excellent indicator of the herd’s health and response to current habitat conditions.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How do you decide how many white-tailed does to harvest off a hunting property?

Question

Hello Grant,

What do you think about shooting does?  And when ?

One of my leases is about 205 acres in Chappells, South Carolina.  I have had this lease for 2 years and have just renewed for two more.  We have only killed 3 bucks on this land, all 15” to 18.5” and 155 – 185 lbs.  I try not to over hunt this lease and have talked to other hunters to see if they would let small basket rack deer go.  Some will and some won’t.  I think they shoot a fair amount of does, so my thinking was if I am seeing a good number of does then the bucks will show up soon.  Also Josh is my wife’s cousin!!  God bless you and thank you for helping me understand deer and making the outdoors better than we found it!!  Lots of luck hunting!!

Jeff

Jeff,

I still have some friends that hunt in that area of South Carolina!  I used to live in Abbeville.  I use doe harvest to accomplish two deer management objectives.  These are to balance the adult sex ratio and to ensure each deer has ample quality forage to meet my deer management objectives.

Observation data and/or a camera survey can be used to accurately estimate the adult sex ratio.  I like an adult sex ratio of 1:1 for my management objectives.  I also like deer to express their full potential of producing antlers and fawns for each age class.  Therefore, I want more quality forage than then herd will consume.  This means quality forage left during the two typical stress periods of late summer and late winter.

If deer are consuming all of the quality forage, then a doe harvest is in order.  Once that is determined, I harvest enough does to either balance the adult sex ratio and/or allow enough food to be available to ensure each deer has all they wish to consume during the stress periods.  To meet that goal, I start harvesting does when the season opens.  I harvest the first doe that presents a safe shot.  I don’t select young or mature does for harvest because both have advantages to the herd.  Hence a harvest of what’s available will usually result in a mix of all age classes.

I hope this information helps and that you enjoy a safe and enjoyable deer management program!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Holding Bucks on a Property

Question

Every year I have some great bucks show up on my trail cameras in September and October. Unfortunately, my neighbor’s (a local farmer) property is overcrowded with hunters.  Because my property primarily holds food (agricultural fields and small food plots) and his property contains most of the bedding areas (large wooded areas) what do you think is the best way to hold bucks on my property and keep them away from the neighbor?

Ryan

Ryan,

As bucks mature, many of them will use a smaller home range to avoid danger.  The smaller the area that contains quality food, cover, and water, the smaller their home range size can be.  A great plan to maintain mature bucks on your property a larger percentage of the legal hunting time is to insure that everything they need is available on your property.

Within that large goal, my priority is cover (as you’ve discovered).  Deer will spend the majority of the legal hunting hours in cover.  Hence, by providing the best cover in a deer’s home range, you’ve substantially increased the odds they will be on your property from dawn until dusk.

It sounds like you’ve identified what you need to work on when you stated “…his property contains most of the bedding areas…”  The bucks in your neighborhood are likely on the neighboring property during most of the legal hunting hours.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Spacing of Feeders

Question

Hi Grant,

I hunt on 300 acres in north central Texas.  How many free-choice protein feeders should I be deploying during the year?  Do you recommend a certain feeder/acre ratio?

Thanks!

Phil

Phil,

Reducing competition at feeders benefits the herd.  So, it’s always a tradeoff of the amount of work and resources required to maintain additional feeders versus the benefits of reducing stress.  A good rule of thumb is one feeder per 100 acres, depending on the local deer density and habitat quality.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Old 6 Point

Question

Dr. Woods,

Every Monday morning when I get to my computer I check to see what new information you have on your website.  I learn a lot from you and your website.

I have emailed you before about managing my 800 acre farm.  Now my question is about trying to get rid of bad genetics.  We harvested a couple of 6 points this year during gun season that are for sure 3 year olds, if not older.  These deer both had lots of mass and had bigger bodies compared to other deer in the area.  We have also had a history of some huge 6 points on the farm.  In all the reading I’ve done harvesting and getting rid of these genetics is a good thing, but I would like to get your input on the topic.  How old should a person let a deer get when they have only 4 or 6 points?  When this is all the points they have, is this because of bad genetics or lack of food sources?  On The Proving Grounds would you harvest a 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 year old 4 or 6 point?

Thank you, I learn something new from you every week.

Brett

Brett,

The “old 6 point” is a deer that nearly every property has had sometime in the past or will in the future.  They are the deer that are always joked about sitting around the campfire during hunting season.  On my property I have set my harvest standards to focus on bucks that are 4.5 years old or older.  At 4.5 years old bucks are exhibiting at least 75% of their antler potential.  At that point, no matter their antler score, I consider them a trophy if I can get a harvest opportunity.  Mature bucks, regardless of antler score, are a tremendous challenge.

I do not try to remove genetic traits from a free ranging herd because study after study has proven its ineffectiveness.  Deer herds have such diverse genetics that removing a handful of deer from a herd does little to change their genetic makeup.

In some situations a buck (whether it was 1 or 7 points) is very important to the herd.  This is the case with herds that are heavily weighted toward does.  In this situation every buck is needed to breed does during their first or second estrus cycle and not unduly prolong the rut.  With every estrus cycle that a doe does not get breed, the later her potential buck fawn is birthed and behind the rest of his age class, resulting in delayed development and possibly death during his first winter.

With that said, my personal harvest goals are different than my young children’s and my 80 year old father’s.  They have the green light to harvest whatever they desire.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Harvest Goals of Neighbors

Question

Grant,

How many acres is The Proving Grounds?

I lease 1,000 acres.  We try to manage our deer by selecting which deer we harvest.  We only shoot 8 points or better.   We have tried food plots but we never have a lot of success.  We kill one or two good bucks each year (125” to 140”).  I’m just not sure what our surrounding clubs are doing.  Do you have surrounding properties that also shoot only mature deer?

Jared

Jared,

The Proving Grounds is roughly 1,500 acres.  I am surrounded by many, many (34 to be exact) small properties, nearly all of which do not follow our management principles.  This can make it very difficult to grow mature deer.  However, I’m able to produce mature deer every year by striving to provide everything a mature buck requires throughout the year – ample food, cover, and water.  This, in addition to large sanctuaries and limited disturbance allows bucks to spend most of their time on The Proving Grounds and less time on neighboring land.  One way to monitor the success of this strategy is that I’ve identified 20 bucks to put on our hit list this year!  Providing ample quality food, cover, and water can make a huge difference in the size of a mature buck’s home range.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Processing Deer Meat

Question

When I started hunting 8 or 9 years ago I didn’t have a lot of guidance on field dressing or final processing of deer.  I began the search for videos and written materials to assist.  The best, in my opinion, is put out by our own KY Afield program.  I have such a great respect for your material, have you ever done anything like this or considered producing something?  I ask as I embark on the processing of this year’s first harvest.

Bruce

 

Bruce,

Congratulations on the harvest!  My family and I consume about 10 deer annually.  We process our own meat (on our kitchen table).  However, we’ve never recorded or described the process.  I debone the meat and then filet out any connective tissue, etc.  We use a vacuum sealer to wrap the meat as the final step in our process.  Tracy, my wife, just prepared a loin from at 4.5 year old buck I recently harvested and it was fabulous!

Unfortunately, I think creating a processing video would require more of a studio setup (lighting, etc.) than we normally use.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Native Warm Season Grasses as Forage?

Question

Hello Grant,

Are there any native grasses that deer forage upon?  I have been planting eastern gamma grass from remnant stands in northern Missouri and noticed some light browsing on them.  Is this possibly deer or do they not really browse any of the native grasses?  If they do browse some of them I would like to know so I can add that particular species to my prairie restoration project.

Phil

Phil,

If I wanted to provide forage for my deer herd I would concentrate my resources on well fertilized forage crops.  Although a few warm season grasses can provide some forage value, forage crops will do it in a much more efficient way.  Deer simply don’t consume much grass.  Certainly legumes can be incorporated into the warm season grass mix.  Legumes, with the help of rhizobium, fix nitrogen and are great sources of protein.  Plants like partridge pea or Illinois bundle flower are examples of native legumes.  However, this technique will not provide near the tonnage per acre as a crop managed for forage, and it will cost much more per pound produced.

I’m a huge native forage fan, but managed forage crops will certainly produce more tonnage of higher quality food per acre.  I tend to manage cover for cover and food for food to maximize the quality of both.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Crops Matched To Equipment

Question

Dr. Grant,

I stated in a previous question that we are very new to food-plotting.  We planted 2 acres this fall and growth inside the cage is pretty good but outside the cage deer are consuming the forage before any of it can mature.

The equipment we have to work with includes an excellent tractor, a disk, harrow drag, and a broadcast spreader that mounts on a 4-wheeler.

Are there certain types of crops you recommended we stick to based on the equipment we have to work with?  I ask this because one issue we struggle with is planting depth.

Thanks!

JP

JP,

I would concentrate on planting high quality winter wheat food plots.  This requires planting the seed a minimum of 45-60 days before the first average frost.  A soil test would also be beneficial in determining exactly what the lime/fertilizer requirements are.  When submitting a soil test ask the testing agency for maximum yield results.  Because most agencies are geared toward agricultural production soil test results are often geared toward economic return instead of maximum yield.

Winter wheat grows well when broadcasted and can be a covered from 0-1 inches deep with soil and germinate.  Planting just before or during a rain ensures the best germination rates.  Winter wheat can jump during warm spells and is quick to come out of the gate in the spring.

Your equipment can also plant almost any other small seeded crop that doesn’t need to be buried to a specific depth like clover, brassicas, etc.  By adding clover to the wheat, the time the plot will be productive for deer and turkey can be extended well into the spring or summer depending on the amount of soil moisture available.  If you use this mix, make sure you mow or spray the wheat once it begins to make a stem versus a blade.  Once wheat forms a stem, it is not palatable to deer and will create enough shade to substantially reduce the clover’s production.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Food Plot Crops for Kentucky

Question

Dr. Grant,

Thank you for GrowingDeer.tv.  I have enjoyed it all year.  Between the 2010 QDMA Convention, Quality Whitetails and GrowingDeer.tv, I was able to turn my 57 acre farm in western Kentucky into a deer paradise!  Last Sunday I shot the best deer of my life going to a TSI bedding area I cut this spring.

I have less than 3 acres to plant for food plots.  I want to plant crops for fall thru early spring without clearing the table.  What type of blend would you recommend?  Also, I don’t mind planting every year so annuals would be fine.  Thank you for inspiring me and may God bless you!

Jeff

Jeff,

Thanks for the kind words!  As you have seen on my property I am a heavy believer in Eagle Seed forage soybeans.  They provide tremendous protein forage throughout the summer and have the ability to produce more pounds of cool season forage in the form of grain than many cool season forages.  They also act as a fail safe for fall food plots.  If it doesn’t look like the plot will produce enough grain (25+ bushels/acre) the plot can be easily broadcasted/drilled into with a green forage, like winter wheat and/or brassicas.

The Eagle Seed forage soybeans are among the most drought resistant crop I’ve tried.  They are a huge part of my deer management program.  I have them planted at several projects in Kentucky and have been very pleased with the results and the deer observed/harvested at those plots.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Establishing Food, Cover & Water

Question

Dear Dr. Woods,

My folks have a 30 acre farm which is roughly 75% pasture and 25% woods.  I’ve convinced my dad of the need to plant food plots, add more springs for water sources, possibly add some fruit and nut trees, and add some pines for shelter.

I realize that without seeing the property and the topography it is hard to make suggestions and recommendations, but could you tell me what types of plots and seed mixtures to start with in the spring and carry on through winter with?  I want to establish perennial plots for antler growth and the overall health of the deer.

Is there a need for transition zones for cover for the deer to feel safe if the plots are planted along the edges of the fields where they meet the woods?  What is the best way to establish shelter for the deer?  Also, is it better to have a larger pond or more small to medium size springs as far as water sources?

I would greatly appreciate any advice you can give me.

Amen to spending time with our Creator.

Dexter

Dexter,

Most pasture areas, just as you mentioned, are lacking food and cover in a big way.  Cover can be created in several ways.  The easiest method is to simply allow an area of a property to grow up and periodically be set back with fire, mowing, or some other disturbance.  However this method only creates quality cover if good cover species are already present, such as native warm season grasses.  If the pasture is primarily cool season grass species, like fescue or smooth brome, it will probably be necessary to kill those species and plant grasses like switchgrass and big bluestem.

For food plots to attract deer well fertilized/limed winter wheat is hard to beat.  Clover mixes are good during most times of the year but can leave you hanging when you want to hunt.  If a few acres are available I suggest you try Eagle Seed’s forage soybeans.  Even if it is heavily browsed, as long as a few leaves are present, it is providing nutrients and would be very easy to transition into a cool season green plot if needed during late summer.

One or two perennial water sources should be efficient for the property.  Enjoy improving the habitat!  I find that as much fun as hunting!!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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When to Hunt a Stand

Question

Hey Grant,

I’ve talked with you a few different times about different subjects, but I have a new question.  I was just watching a show and they say to stay out of your “best spots” until the seeking or the rut phases.  In Northeast Louisiana we hunt off the Mississippi River.  Our rut in this area is anywhere from Christmas through February.  If I stayed out of my spot until then, I wouldn’t get to hunt it until the last month of hunting season, 3 months after the season opens.  I’ve been very selective with my hunting of these locations.  What do you recommend?  I’ve hunted some spots once since bow season opened back on October 1 and the deer are still nocturnal on my camera with zero pressure.  I only go in to check my camera every two weeks or so.  What do you recommend?

Lee

Lee,

I was just in your neck of the woods a few weeks ago.  The Mississippi River corridor can provide some tremendous hunting!  I think every stand has a different time of the season when it is “hot.”  Stands over food plots are great when the deer prefer that food source; stands by oaks are great when the acorns are falling, etc.  This is the same for stand locations that are not productive unless the rut is in full swing.  I have a couple of these on my property where a downed fence or saddle bottlenecks bucks as they troll between doe bedding areas.  Anytime but during the peak of the rut and these stands are nearly worthless, but sit in one during the rut and bucks are likely to pass by all day long.  If I were to sit in these stands before the rut I would only be burning them up with my scent and disturbance.

I try to have as many potential stand sites as possible and be flexible to finding new locations.  Disturbance is detrimental to any stand because deer certainly associate hunting pressure with danger.  I try to limit disturbance and conditioning them to my presence as much as possible.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Rutting Young Bucks

Question

Dr. Grant,

This rut was a very good one for me in Ohio!  I have been bowhunting deer for 26 years and have never seen a doe being breed by a buck.  Last week on November 10th while on a stand a little 5 point buck came in chasing a doe.  They stopped at 35 yards in front of me and the buck breed her.  I was amazed!  They just stood there for 15 minutes without moving, and then I see another doe walking up.  She walked up to the little buck, and he breed her too…WOW!!  I was blown away by all this!  My thoughts were that I have way too many does in my area, because there were no other bucks, and that the other bucks were locked-down with does.  What are your thoughts?  Thanks for your help!

Brent

Brent,

That is a neat observation.  It was once common in the deer world to think that only the oldest bucks in the herd did all the breeding, but after years of research this is changing rapidly.  Bucks of all age classes can get in on the action even when herds are well managed and contain balanced sex ratios and age structures.  This is because a mature buck can only tend to one doe at a time, very different from a bull elk that tends a whole harem.  With large numbers of does coming into estrus during the peak of the rut subordinate bucks can also find a date or two.  Remember that genetics are set at conception so there is no disadvantage to a deer herd genetically speaking if a young buck breeds a doe.  However, if the buck age structure is such that young bucks must do all the breeding, then they may not express their full antler development potential as they will spend huge amounts of energy during the rut.

If you are unsure about your herd’s adult sex ratio or age structure it would be beneficial to start collecting observation data and to perform a camera survey.  These are great tools to ensure the herd’s sex ratio and age structure are doing well.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Too Much Food?

Question

Sorry for all the questions!  Every time I watch one of your videos I think of more.

I know last year you planted corn.  If you have planted corn this year, why haven’t you hunted over it?

Could you make a video telling us more about why you hunt a particular area?  Oftentimes you mention where you hunt regarding to food plots, but I’m referring to why you choose particular trees in the woods.  It’s something I struggle with and often see people on television and wonder how a particular buck can walk within 15 yards of that ONE tree the hunter chose.

I have a lot of food this year (too much I think) and I already had a lot of thick bedding cover (20 acres of food and 25 acres of thick cover).  I’m seeing tons of deer but can only do so by hunting over the big plots.  I want to try to create some sort of transitional cover where deer can stage so I can hunt there and not spook deer over plots.  I have 30 acres to play with.  Any recommendations?  Pines would grow well here, in the South, but would take some time to grow.  NWSGs would grow pretty quick but might act more as a sanctuary/bedding area.  I haven’t seen you hunt over NWSGs, do you use them only as cover?

Eric

Eric,

Most of the corn I planted this year was consumed by wireworm before it germinated.  I wish I had some corn to help feed the deer and as a hunting location!

I do try to discuss why I select where I’m hunting.  However, I’ll try to focus on that a bit more.  Picking the correct tree is about as much art as it is science.  For me, how the wind behaves (swirls, eddies, etc.,) at that tree and my ability to approach that tree without disturbing deer are key factors in my selection process.

The only problem with too much food is the volunteer crops the next year (they are never as good as planted crops at the appropriate spacing, etc.).  Not every property has existing bottlenecks. However, they can be fairly easily created by placing multiple bales of hay, using a Gallagher fence, cutting a few trees, or other features that deer don’t wish to cross.

I like hunting NWSG stands!  If I know where the deer are bedding and the preferred food source, I can find the travel corridor.  I can use the tools listed above to narrow that travel corridor to create some great stand locations that are approachable without disturbing the deer.

I agree with you, I’d much rather hunt the transition zones rather than the food sources, especially in the mornings.  Remember that spooking a deer doesn’t just impact that hunt, but hunts for the next several weeks in that area.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Mature Buck Sightings

Question

Hi Grant,

First of all I’d like to say thanks because I’ve learned a lot from you and you have made me a much better outdoorsman!  I’ve been fortunate enough to harvest some pretty impressive whitetails over the years.  I’ve been bowhunting for about 12 years now and I’m obsessed with the sport.  I love watching and studying their behaviors and quirks!  I recently got permission to hunt some land that hasn’t been hunted in about 5 years.  I’ve seen plenty of deer (early October thru the present) but no shooter bucks yet….  I’m looking for 150+ mature bucks.  I’m huge in scent elimination and never wear my hunting clothes in vehicles or anywhere but the woods!  I always play the wind and will get down if the wind changes for the bad.  There is plenty of water and food for them, the rut is starting to heat up, and all I’m seeing are little bucks chasing and cruising for does.  Should I scratch this spot for the rest of this season?

Thanks,

Jeremy

Jeremy,

It sounds like you use great hunting techniques and have a good hunting location!  Many folks are discussing the lack of mature bucks observed cruising this year.  I wouldn’t give up on your spot!!  If there’s good habitat, limited hunting pressure, and an area large enough for mature bucks to survive neighbors that might not practice passing yearling bucks, there will be mature bucks.  Consider using some Reconyx trail cameras to capture images of mature bucks without spooking them.  Then you will have the confidence to hunt the area and know which areas the bucks are using.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Deer Changing Patterns

Question

I’ve noticed strange changes in deer movement during the last couple of years which has me concerned.  I hunt a parcel of private land, 180 acres that runs along the Black River in central Wisconsin.  I’ve hunted this property since 1995 when I met my wife.  I have been very successful hunting the property and have had many mature buck sightings.  But it seems that in the last couple of years the deer have removed themselves from our property and crossed the river to move north.  This change is taking place about the same time every year, right around the last week in October and the first part of November.  I’m not sure what the cause of this is.  There is not a lot of hunting pressure on our property as I am the only one bowhunting the 180 acre parcel 99% of the time.  We have agricultural land that is planted with corn, oats, and clover on a yearly basis. The woods are a mix of hardwoods and other timber with many white and red oaks throughout the property along with wild plum and apple trees.  There is no food shortage on the property.

Other than the rut, what may cause the deer to leave the property during daylight hours and come back through only after dark?  I have not seen any sign or indication of bear or wolves on the property this year as I have in the past. Something has changed and I am looking for some suggestion on what direction I should take on hunting the property now.  Thanks for your time. Great show, I love all the information you provide!!

Tony

Tony,

Your hunting property sounds wonderful!  Deer typically only change movement patterns due to a changed location of a food source or fear of predation.  If the location of preferred food sources on your property and the neighbors’ hasn’t changed, then fear of predation is most likely causing the deer to change their travel pattern.

The source of fear could be from either two or four-legged predators.  However, it sounds more like avoidance of two-legged predators.  If you using the same techniques and spending the same amount of time hunting, I’d make sure trespassing is not an issue.  It sounds as if someone else is most likely alerting the deer and causing them to avoid your property during daylight hours.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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First Deer

Question

Grant,

My brother wants to get a BIG buck for his first deer.  Do you have any tips to give me to help him get the kind of buck that he really wants?

Edward

Edward,

I would encourage your brother to set his goals on something a bit more obtainable.  Hunting, like any skill, takes time to develop.  New athletes shouldn’t be disappointed if they don’t win a championship during their first season.  Likewise, new hunters shouldn’t be discouraged if they don’t bring home a trophy (by mature hunter standards).  I encourage my daughters to enjoy the hunt and the process of learning about deer behavior and hunting skills.  I’m thrilled when they harvest any deer and so are they.  I would encourage safety, learning about deer, and harvesting a legal deer as a starting point.  That’s a strategy that has worked for years with new hunters, regardless of their age.

Growing Deer (and deer hunters) together,

Grant

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Harvest Goals for a New Hunter

Question

Dr. Grant,

I’ve been hunting for a couple of years now and I’ve shot two deer including a button and an 8 pointer.  I want to know if I should kill more does or bucks?

Thomas

Thomas,

What you harvest depends on your personal goals as a hunter and the deer management goals of the property where you hunt.  With that said, make sure your goals are realistic.  For example don’t hold out for buck that scores 150” if very few bucks with antlers that large have ever been harvested on the property you’re hunting.  Having realistic objectives will allow for more satisfaction from your hunting efforts.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Using Corn as Cover

Question

Dr. Woods,

Thanks for all the help this year, my property is improving because of it!  I planted 20 acres of corn on my 100 acre parcel with 5 acres of green fields, mostly surrounded by cover.  Corn has been a huge attractant, with 30 deer per site, but that number is tapering off.  95% of the deer are does, but I did have a shot at a mature, 3.5 year old deer last week which made me excited (I missed).  Tonight I saw 8 does and my dad saw 2.  We are not seeing a lot of bucks which could be due to lack of cover.  We had a lot of bucks in the summer, but they’re not showing up on trail cameras now.

All that sounds great, so maybe I shouldn’t change much but since deer sightings (especially bucks) are dropping I’m thinking it is best.  Most of my hunting has to be over the corn/food plots because of limited cover (I have a centralized 20 acre bedding area, but hunting it would ruin my “sanctuary”).  I’ve basically been gun hunting the edges of the food source outside of the bedding area.

I want to add more cover for next year, as I believe I actually have too much food.  If I plant new cover with SG will corn make all that much difference in what I see next year?  That is, if I had all the food a deer could eat in the form of clover (which stays green here throughout hunting season) would it act as good of an attractant as corn, or can corn REALLY attract deer?

As you know, corn is a land consuming crop and I was hoping it would act as good bedding cover, but it really hasn’t.  It is good for cover as a transitional area, but I don’t find deer bedding in it, they prefer the thicker forests next door or in my central sanctuary.

If I turned the rest of my property that’s not part of a sanctuary now (40 acres) to SG and put in several small clover attraction plots, would it give me a better chance of seeing the same number of deer throughout the season while providing more cover?

I also know that hunting does usually leads to bucks.  I’m just not seeing them.  Any thoughts?  Should I plant more cover or not try to fix it if it isn’t broken?

Eric

Eric,

I’m a big fan of the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” strategy.  With that said, I’ve experienced deer adapting to the use of standing corn as cover in areas where corn is not traditionally planted many times.  I think corn can be a great source of cover eight or more months out of the year.  Any cover or food source can be easily over hunted to the point that mature bucks will only use that area at night or will stop using that area totally.

I’m curious, did acorns become available about the same time deer reduced the usage of the corn plot (even acorns not on your property)?

Corn needs to be rotated with another crop.  So preparing enough food plot area to allow corn and soybeans to be planted in rotation is a great technique.  In addition, it’s always a good plan to have smaller hunting plots scattered throughout the property so they can be approached and hunted in any wind direction.  In addition, these plots will reduce the hunting pressure on the feeding plots (corn and soybeans).

By providing multiple food plots, feeding plots in a sanctuary, and ample cover, you should have some great opportunities to hunt throughout the season while producing quality bucks.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Doe Tarsal Glands

Question

Is the degree of tarsal staining in does related to the onset of estrus?  Do does lick tarsals clean after ovulation or breeding?

Doug

Doug,

That’s a great question!  I am not aware of any research related to tarsal glands on does.  That would be a great research project!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Which Crops Do Deer Prefer More Than Acorns?

Question

I have a friend here in Missouri that is a conservation agent.  He is also in charge of Peck Ranch Wildlife Refuge.  He had the opportunity to visit one of your farms and took notes on how to get the most out of food plots.  I posed this question to him and he said that I needed to ask a real professional, you.

I have always been told that the outcome of your acorn production depends on the weather and rain from the previous year.  Is there any truth to that?  I know that deer prefer acorns over any other food source here in southeast Missouri.  Is there another food source that deer will frequent even if you have a bumper crop of acorns?

I have about 300 acres that I manage very strictly with 105 in pasture and the rest in thick cover, but I don’t have an abundance of mature oak trees.  I have very little pressure during the hunting seasons and I would love to utilize my farm to its fullest extent.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Brian

Brian,

There is some truth to the statement that acorn production depends on the weather during the previous year.   Acorns on red oaks develop from flowers from the previous year.  A late frost can damage or kill those flowers and when that occurs there won’t be many acorns the following year.  The flowers on a white oak tree develop into acorns the same year.  Therefore a late frost, drought, etc., can reduce white oak acorn production the same year it occurs.

There are gads of factors that influence acorn production such as insects.  This year Jumping Oak Gall caused most of the white oaks on my property to lose 90% of their leaves during the summer and all emerging acorns.  Given all the uncontrollable factors that can impact acorn production, I never count on them as a food source or hunting location.  I view them as strictly opportunistic – that is I select stand sites near acorns when deer are feeding on them.

When acorns are available, deer do prefer them over most food sources.  Even in ag production areas, deer will leave corn and beans to feed on acorns.  They do the same thing at The Proving Grounds.  However, as soon as the acorn crop is gone, deer will readily use the corn and forage soybeans grown here.  Therefore, I always want great crops.  I’ve seen significant increases in antler development, deer herd density, and body weights at The Proving Grounds as a result of our habitat management program which includes growing an Eagle Seed forage soybean and corn rotation.  If practical, I encourage you to consider converting all or a portion of the pasture area at your farm to crop production.  Such a program could have a huge impact on the quality of the deer at your farm!  We’ll be hosting two field days during 2011.  I hope you will consider joining us and seeing the habitat management techniques we use to improve our herd quality and hunting opportunities!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Will Deer Avoid a Dead Deer?

Question

Dr. Grant,

Will the presence of a dead deer in a hunting area – specifically one used for bow hunting – have an impact on other deer using that area for travel or feeding?  A deer that was shot and not recovered during the rifle season was discovered within 100 yards of my stand and I am concerned that it may deter other deer from entering the area.  What do you think?

Sincerely,

Bryan

Bryan,

I had a research project for 11 years in South Carolina.  Briefly, we shot as many does as we could and only mature bucks from October 15th through January 1st (legal in South Carolina).  We kept detailed records of what was seen, harvested, stand location, etc.  About 25% of the mature bucks that were harvested were shot out of the same stand and during the same hunt as when a doe had already been shot and left laying where she died (until the end of that hunt).

Deer die from natural causes all the time.  I doubt deer view death as humans do.  I doubt deer will avoid another deer’s carcass.  In fact, I’ve harvested many deer within close range of a gut pit (where the remains of deer were placed after all meat and samples were removed) at the same project described above.  After placing the remains of literally 100’s of deer in that area for scavengers to consume (it was a scary place at night), it remained a good stand to observe and harvest deer for more than a decade.

I’m much more concerned about human scent and disturbance than I am about the disturbance of a deer carcass in a hunting area.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Using Grunt Calls

Question

I haven’t found any good videos or tips on grunting or rattling a deer.  Can you go over what to do in different situations?  I have no clue how to do it well.  I try but I don’t know if I’m annoying the deer or if it is actually working.

It would mean a lot to a new bow hunter.  I got my first 8 pointer with my bow this year.  I’ve been gun hunting for 7 years now, but when you bow hunt you need the deer in so much closer.

Thanks,

Tyrel

Tyrel,

Congratulations on harvesting an 8 pointer with your bow!  Both immature and mature bucks (and does) will frequently respond to grunt calls.  However, they can also shy away from them if they associate the call with danger.  In areas where hunters are calling frequently, I use my grunt call sparingly.  I like to grunt if I see a mature buck that’s out of range and moving away.  I will also call when I don’t observe deer.  In this situation, I begin with a very low volume.  I increase the volume if I don’t believe deer are responding.  I believe, if used appropriately, that deer usually respond positively or ignore grunt calls.  However, deer can certainly be conditioned to avoid grunt calls if they associate them with danger.  Therefore, I think timing and volume are more important than tone of grunt calls.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Can Deer Scent Spook Whitetails?

Question

When using deer scent, can you use the wrong scent at the wrong time and spook whitetails?

Ryan

Ryan,

Like humans, deer are individuals.  Some deer may react positively to a specific scent, while others ignore or avoid the scent.  Another factor is the amount of hunting pressure the local herd receives.  If they’ve had a negative experience with a specific scent and encounter it again, they will most likely avoid the scent.  Young deer often are very curious and will check out scents that are new to them.  They simply haven’t had as much time to have a negative association with a scent.  However, mature deer are often more cautious.

It’s fun to try new scents and watch how deer respond to them.  However, there’s always a chance mature deer will respond negatively and avoid the area that day.  This is true with any technique such as calls, decoys, etc.  When deer avoid an attractant, it usually occurs without the hunter ever knowing the deer was in the area.  Using scents to attract deer is certainly not a one size fits all approach!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Getting Involved

Question

Hello Grant,

I am an avid hunter.  I live in West Virginia.  There are not too many places here that try to grow big bucks.  I hunt almost every day on a small piece of land.   How would I go about getting involved with GrowingDeer.tv (or a similar group) as a guide?

Eli

Eli,

Wow, I wish I could hunt almost every day!  I think I want your job!!  My first job as a wildlife biologist was as a volunteer.  I applied through the Student Conservation Association and received a volunteer position with the Bureau of Land Management in Elko, Nevada as a wildlife technician.  I spent my summer identifying plants in areas where mule deer wintered and fighting fire.  It was a fabulous start to my career (30 years ago).

The same is true today.  For example I met Brad Mormann, one of my employees for the past five years, while giving a guest lecture at a local college.  I offered the students in that mammalogy class the opportunity to help in a prescribed fire the following Saturday.  Three students out of 30 showed up to volunteer.  Two worked very hard and both of them are gainfully employed in the wildlife field today (Brad currently works for me and Josh is employed by Bass Pro Shops).

There are usually opportunities to get where you want to go, but the route may not be direct.  Brad volunteered simply to gain some experience.  He’s now a published deer biologist that works on projects in several states assisting land owners and hunters with their deer and habitat management programs.  Find an opportunity to start in the wildlife field, even if it’s a volunteer position, and work hard.  I’m always amazed at what can be accomplished with hard work and determination!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Where Did the Big Bucks Go?

Question

Hi Dr. Grant,

Where did the big bucks go?  On our farm, we’re seeing plenty of does and bucks that are 1.5 to 2.5, but the 3 older bucks that we’ve been watching have fallen into a hole.  No pictures or actual sightings the very time I think we should be seeing them.  I know they are alive, but where in the world are they?  I can’t even get a picture of them at night.

Thanks,

Kevin

Kevin,

That’s a great question!  We have bucks that do that also.  One buck in particular at The Proving Grounds hits the road just after velvet shedding each fall.  Again this fall, for the 3rd year in a row, one of our oldest bucks disappeared after feeding on my soybeans all summer long.  As in past years, he will probably become a resident again in the spring and summer.  This can be a challenging situation.

GPS collared bucks tell us that bucks often have a slight shift or even an entire shift between their summer and winter ranges.  We’re not sure why it happens but every buck has its own personality and movement patterns.

Another thing to consider is that this time of year bucks can get tied up with estrus does for a day or two cutting down on their movements.  This is especially true when a deer herd is largely skewed toward does.  With few bucks and many does to breed, a buck doesn’t have to move far to find another hot doe.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Should I Establish Food or Cover?

Question

Grant,

I have a 120 acre property with a bedding area in the middle and food sources on the southern end of the bedding area.  I have a 15 acre ag field that is located on the NW end of my land that I’m trying to figure out what to do with.  It is currently open land and abuts my neighbor’s property.  He is a hunter and his property has mature oaks.  I can’t decide if I should plant a small perimeter of screen like pines on the boundary and then plant the rest in corn, hunting the interior corner of my property with mowed strips, or if I should convert the entire part into bedding with a small clover or wheat plot on the interior corner?  The interior corners would allow me access without spooking any deer.

I feel like if I make it bedding then the deer will go to the neighbors property, especially during good acorn years.  If I plant corn will deer transition through his woods giving him first crack before they enter the corn?

Will the deer bed in the corn if I leave the outside 10 acres of it standing and then mow the interior 5 acres to hunt (or even plant a couple small 1 acre green plots within the corn)?

I’m treading cautiously since ag land is hard to remake (clear) and I don’t want to convert it to timber until I know for sure what I should do.

Most of the properties around me are all cover with not many crops being planted.

Thanks for your time,

Garry

Garry,

It sounds like you have been working hard to develop a solid plan.  As you’ve said it’s far easier to make the correct management decisions the first time than to have to redo them.

From what I know, I recommend planting the outer seven or eight acres in a mix of tall warm season grasses like switchgrass and big bluestem.  This will provide deer cover plus allow them to bed near the edge of the property and come toward its interior to forage.  The interior acreage can then be planted in corn/soybean rotation.  Again, leave the forage standing if possible.  I frequently create habitat plans for clients that include establishing cover near their property boundaries and food on the interior.  When quality food, cover, and water are close in proximity deer tend to remain in the area.

When creating these habitat features, remember to design stand locations and an approach or two for each stand that allows the hunter to enter the stand without being detected by deer.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Cool Season Food Plots

Question

Grant,

My family owns 110 acres in east central IL, Iroquois county.  We are totally surrounded by agricultural fields and CRP that is owned by a neighbor.  We would like to plant a couple of small food plots on our land but have limited area to do so.  I would say 95% of our land is what we would call bottom ground.  The remaining five percent has some small oaks growing on it.  Is there something that can be planted late season in the bottom ground to help hold deer on our property?  We have seen a few turkeys on our property too, but this is the first season in 16 years that we have.

Thank you for any information you may have.

Matt

Matt,

For small, cool season forage crops I rely heavily on winter wheat and brassicas.  Winter wheat is a hardy cool season small grain that performs well if fertilized/limed properly.  Brassicas are good as they typically are not foraged upon until after a hard frost allowing them to grow a bunch of tonnage before the deer herd starts to eat them.  Both require being planted at least 45-50 days before the first average frost date.  Rye grain (absolutely not rye grass) is also an option as it can be planted slightly later because it is an excellent nitrogen scavenger and can grow during temperatures 12 degrees cooler than winter wheat.

Lastly, depending on the actual food plot size Eagle Seed’s forage soybeans are my first bet. I like them because they produce forage all summer while producing tons of grain forage (often tons more than typical cool season forage crops). However, their grain production depends largely on how heavily they are hit by the deer throughout the summer. If there are gads of deer in the area, a small plot of soybeans might get over browsed unless protected by a fence (I use the Hot Zone Deer Exclosure System). I’d plant Eagle Seed forage soybeans the first year and see what happens. The worst case scenario is that the beans will be totally consumed, but the plot will be prepared for the cool season planting!

Growing Deer together,

Grant