Elk Hunting: Almost Run Over By the Herd!

By GrowingDeer,

Team member Chase White was almost run over by a herd of elk while hunting in New Mexico. The Winchester 6.8 Western worked perfectly and Chase punched his first elk tag!


Hunt Update: Coldest Morning So Far and Bucks Just Out of Range

By GrowingDeer,

Grant shares an update from the stand. It’s the coldest morning of this deer season so far.  He’s near a recently burned area that will be warm and sunny later in the morning.  Food is nearby and an easy travel corridor.  Grant shares his expectations for the morning hunt and when he might choose to use grunt calling.  Watch to see the morning hunt and the bucks that came in…but just out of range.  It’s a beautiful morning in the deer woods!

Better than the Neighbors – Results!

By GrowingDeer,

Last January, we toured Chad’s 80 acres and developed a habitat and hunting improvement plan. Chad’s place used to be used as a cattle and hog farm and the neighboring properties are still primarily cattle pasture and small wood lots. He began implementing the timber stand improvement projects, used prescribed fire and added food plots.

Chad with harvested buck


The property is already more attractive than most of the neighboring properties and he’s seeing more deer. The habitat plan we designed for him has almost endless opportunities for stand and blind placement. And that’s because there’s a huge amount of edge – food/cover/edge, food/cover/edge, food/cover/edge. So, no matter the wind direction, there’s going to be an ideal place for Chad and his family to hunt. In fact, Chad recently harvested a great buck.

Congratulations Chad on your habitat improvement project and a nice set of antlers!

Doe Harvest: Is it better to shoot old or young does?

By GrowingDeer,

arrow fight to doe

We recently received the following question and thought our reply may help others…

Question: What is the ideal age of does to harvest? Young or old?

Answer: Harvesting enough does to ensure the entire herd has enough groceries during the late summer and late winter is much more important than the age of does harvested. Many folks miss their doe harvest goal because they are trying to select a certain age class doe to harvest.

Older does tend to be a bit better mothers. If the habitat is improved, younger does have the benefit of being produced and nursed by a doe that was in better shape! The health of the doe can make a huge difference in the health and productivity (antlers or fawns) of the fawn throughout life.

Hence, it’s best to work to improve the habitat and harvest enough does to ensure the entire herd has ample quality groceries.

For more information on doe harvest, watch this video, DEER HUNTING: WHY AND WHEN TO HARVEST DOES.

Food Plot That Can Do More!

By GrowingDeer,

There is more to the Green Cover Food Plot blends than attracting and feeding deer!  For example deer find sunflower foliage palatable and it’s nutritious. Sunflowers have a very large fibrous root system that adds a lot of organic matter to the soil!  It’s also excellent at extracting zinc from the soil and making it available to other plants (through a complex relationship with microbes).

Buckwheat is very palatable to deer, and it’s leaves have about 16% crude protein, and decomposes quickly – making readily available nutrients to the next crop. Buckwheat exudates (carbonic acid that “leaks” from the roots) makes phosphorus available to other plants.  Knowing that there’s almost always plenty of phosphorus available – everywhere – but that it’s not in a plant-available form, almost all the blends I design include buckwheat.

Determining the mission for the blend is extremely important. There is no magic bean or species, but rather good blends of plant species that can work together to improve the soil’s health and meet the landowner’s mission – whether that’s to attract and feed deer, cows, or humans.

This is why cover crops should be used in every ag field – in rotation with corn, soybeans, rice, etc.  This can significantly reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, insecticide, fungicides, etc., while making farmers more profitable and improving the air, soil and water qualities at their farm and for the planet!

I’m very excited about how the Release Process can be used to help mankind.

Enjoy Creation!


The Benefits of Restoring Native Habitat

By GrowingDeer,

Native habitat makes us smile! Years ago this area was covered with eastern red cedar and offering no benefit to wildlife. After removing the cedars and using prescribed fire, the native habitat released its potential! Now there is a diversity of grasses and wildflowers, which are not only beautiful to look at but many species offer critters great cover and quality browse this time of the year.  If you’re interested in a more in-depth look at the wildflowers and native browse that have been restored on our hunting property, watch this video. 

Much of the poorest quality habitat here at The Proving Grounds was covered with eastern red cedar. Those cedars were allowed to take over areas that used to be open due to overgrazing and suppression of all fire.

However, there was a great native seed source.  We simply cut and felled the cedars, allowed them to dry for two to three years, then burned them where they fell.  A fabulous composition of native warm season grasses and forbs recolonized the area.

After the fire, the areas responded quickly, and in some areas — counting the rings on the cedars — that native vegetation seed had laid dormant in the soil for 75 or more years.

The state botanist helped us to identify over  176 species of native warm season grasses and forbs.  The only maintenance I’ve done on those sites since the original fire has been additional prescribed fires on a three to five year rotation.

If you take degraded habitat – unless it’s been intensely plowed and that seed bank really messed with – if you use prescribed fire or whatever the appropriate technique is for that habitat, usually the natives will recolonize that area. And you have to go around and spot treat some of the invasive species, like sericea lespedeza  to allow these natives even to expand.Cedar glades that became established on tillable land usually don’t have a good native plant seed base as it was disturbed during the previous tillage.

The value of these areas now to many species of wildlife, and the views created, and the value to hunters, is much, much greater than the value it had when they were covered with eastern red cedars.

Missouri is blessed with a great Department of Conservation. All states have a similar department. I hope you’ll reach out to them and check out the resources they have to offer to assist you in establishing native habitat on your hunting property.

Enjoy Creation,