Sheds Found at The Proving Grounds

By GrowingDeer,

Last week Brad reviewed more than 4,000 Reconyx images from The Proving Grounds and very, very few bucks had shed.  However, Tracy found the right side of the buck in this image and today while filming the next episode of GrowingDeer.tv, I found a shed from a yearling buck.  So far this month three sheds have been found at The Proving Grounds.  I had several Reconyx images of each buck.  It will be interesting to see what portion of bucks we identified with trail cameras last fall that we find sheds from, and how many sheds we find that we didn’t have an image of last fall.  I’ll keep you all updated.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

Thanks to the Service Men & Women of the USA

By GrowingDeer,

C.J. Winand in Afghanistan viewing GrowingDeer.tvI live the blessed life.   My family loves me.  I have good health.  I work as a deer biologist.   Many of these blessings are made possible by the men and women of the United States Armed Forces and staff that supports them.  It’s very easy for me to go about my daily life and not consider those that are away from their family so my family can have the opportunity to enjoy safety and freedom.   The image of CJ Winand, my friend and fellow wildlife biologist, is a great reminder that freedom isn’t free.  CJ volunteered to leave family, a good job, and his bow (CJ’s an avid and skilled archery hunter) to serve his country.

Thanks CJ and all the troops that are serving the USA.   I truly appreciate your friendship and service.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

Late Winter Food Plots

By GrowingDeer,

View of standing soybeans in snow at The Proving Grounds with snow
I just returned from Wisconsin early this morning to falling sleet and snow at The Proving Grounds.  As I look out my office window I’m extremely proud of the standing soybeans in the food plot.  Most hunters probably aren’t thinking about quality deer forage now as hunting season is over.  However, the gads of deer I saw beside the road late last night is an excellent indicator that native browse in forested areas is in short supply.  Late winter is the time to ensure that nutritional resources are available to the deer herd.  The quality and quantity of available food during the late winter stress period is critical for the health of fawns and antler development later this year.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

Good to be Back Home

By GrowingDeer,

The kids in snow
Always good to be back home!! It snowed 3″ +/- at The Proving Grounds last night and today. The kids had fun playing outside! It’s easy to forget about wildlife when playing with the family. That was till I heard some very excited voices downstairs. A large coyote entered the edge of our yard – and left before I could get out the door with my favorite rifle. Most folks know I prefer to see deer than coyotes. But my level of excitement doesn’t compare to Tracy’s when major predators are near her chickens. When the ground is frozen coyotes have a very hard time catching mice. They frequently seek other prey species. One good thing about Tracy’s chickens is that they may serve as a buffer prey species and save an old buck that hasn’t fully recovered from the rigors of the rut. However, Tracy strongly encouraged me to be a bit faster next time.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

SHOT Show, Las Vegas

By GrowingDeer,

SHOT Show JanuaryI’m at the SHOT show in Las Vegas, Nevada again today, seeing old friends and new products. I’m extremely impressed with Winchester’s new ammunition and improved design.

For all the commotion on the show floor, I’d rather be testing these bullets in the surrounding mountains.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

Less Fur, More Feathers!

By GrowingDeer,

I really enjoy turkeys. I enjoy seeing, hearing, and hunting turkeys. I don’t care much for raccoons. So it goes without saying that I’d rather hear one turkey gobble than see four raccoons, but that’s not what happened today.

Raccoons on displayTrap

Observing raccoons is fairly rare, at least during daylight, as they are primarily nocturnal critters. However, Bill and I saw four raccoons today — all yearling males. The Proving Grounds have been covered with snow until recently, but as the temperatures warmed the past few days, the raccoons have been actively roaming around looking for a meal. They attempted to steal some dog food last night that was in traps set for raccoons and opossums. These ended up being their last meal as these males won’t have any chance of consuming turkey eggs, poults, or adult turkeys any more. Their pelts will be removed, tanned, and proudly displayed or given as gifts. I look forward to possibly hearing a few more gobblers during the spring of 2011 — due to a few more turkeys surviving during 2010.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

Big Buck Hunting: 6° Below in Knox County…

By GrowingDeer,

Bill Winke (Midwest Whitetail) and I hunted the past three days together on 1,500 contiguous acres of private land in Knox County, IL. This property had only been hunted by the owner and his friends during the past several years. It had not been hunted at all during the last month. The owner has several trail camera images taken of mature bucks during 2009, including one brute with an estimated BC score north of 200″.

To say the least, Bill and I were excited to hunt this property. Our excitement was not chilled by the 6° temperature when Bill and I climbed in our stands with our cameramen on opposite ends of North Creek. However, I admit I was glad to see the lights of the truck coming to pick us up at dark — when it was -6°!

Grant in stand with bow4 Year Old

Both Bill and I saw several deer, but no mature bucks in bow range. The same trend occurred throughout our hunt. I did see two great 3 year old bucks in shooting range the second night, but our mission was a 4 year old or older buck. The only two, four year old bucks I saw were about 20-30 yards out of range — especially for the cold and windy conditions.

Such hunts are great learning experiences! Bill and I rehashed this hunt and discussed future strategies as we traveled together to the Archery Trade Show in Columbus, OH earlier today. I look forward to checking out all the new gear for 2010. Check out the bucks we passed on in the Knox County episode, GDTV 7.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

An All Too Common Source of Stress…

By GrowingDeer,

My friend and fellow whitetail hunting strategist Michael Engelmeyer shared the following images with me earlier today.

Coyote chasing deerDeer running from coyote

Unfortunately, my Reconyx units capture this same scenario too often at The Proving Grounds and my clients’ properties. Coyotes can’t afford to waste much energy this time of year. When they are trailing, they are after a meal!

Yes, coyotes do kill adult bucks — especially during the post rut when many mature bucks are in poor physical condition and resources are usually too limited for them to fully recover until spring. Even if the buck in the photo sequence above wasn’t killed by the coyote, he likely had to expend a lot of calories to avoid being killed. That additional stress could lead to other conditions/scenarios resulting in an ill-fated future for the buck. There are a lot of ramifications to coyotes besides spooking deer.

Check out GDTV 4 on GrowingDeer.tv and see how I handle stress-inducing coyote.

Growing Deer together,

Grant