Category: Whitetail Habitat Management

Going Native! – Episode #400

By GrowingDeer,

Watch our habitat management tips is GrowingDeer episode 400.

New Video

Improving the odds for nutritious, native vegetation can pay big benefits for the overall health and antler size for the deer herd on your property. Watch as Grant shares the results of a recent timber stand improvement test and how his findings are helping him encourage native grasses and forbs. Plus, see how we are perfecting our shooting form for opening day!

Click Here To Watch Now

Heath looks at a Bloodsport arrowShort Clip:

Watch this recap of when Pro Staffer Heath Martin punched a 2016 tag in Kansas!

 

 

Watch Now

Dead fawn

New Weekly Blog:

Predators can have a huge impact on deer numbers! Find out why wildlife managers need to help balance predators and remove them when given the chance!

 

Click Here

 

A hunter setting up a tree stand.

Tip of the Week:

While hanging stands, always wear a safety harness and be tied to the tree before leaving the ground.

Deer Hunting And Management: The Effect Of The Changing Predator Base

By GrowingDeer,

Successful deer management to grow and hunt bucks in a free-range environment has taken a new twist over the last 10 years. Just following the play book for passing bucks and providing quality food, cover, and water may not yield the results you desire. Something has changed throughout much of the range of the white-tailed deer.

It’s the number of predators. When I was a boy during the 1960s and 70s, coyotes were shot on sight by farmers (almost every farmer I knew always had a rifle in his truck). Raccoon pelts were bringing $50 and anyone I knew that was any kind of hunter or outdoorsmen trapped and/or hunted raccoons as a source of additional income. Chicken hawks (any large hawk was called a chicken hawk) were also shot on sight. These actions didn’t cause any of these predators to go extinct.

In college I was taught to feel sorry for predators. My “book learning” taught the theory that predators were almost never an issue with game species. That might have been true then (although I had a hard time buying into the theory). I was also taught in college that all natural systems are very dynamic – always changing (I certainly have experienced and agree with that!).

Whatever the theories and realities were, the current impact of predators on deer, turkey, quail and other game species are real and measurable! I had a graduate student ten years ago study the impacts of coyote and bobcats on fawn recruitment (fawns surviving until hunting season) on a private property in northern Alabama. Briefly summarized, the results were stunning! He monitored fawn recruitment during year one, then had a trapper remove many coyotes and bobcats from the 2,000 acre property during the following fawning season. During the second fawning season there was a 150+% increase in fawns at the same property as a result of removing 20+ coyotes and 10 bobcats! It appeared the turkey and rabbit population also exploded!

Since that time, much more research has been conducted that supports predators are changing the dynamics of managing deer. Several of the researchers reported results of fawn mortality documented by the use of vaginal transmitters (VITS). This technology allowed researchers to capture does and insert a transmitter in their vagina. The VIT is pushed out of the birth canal when the fawn is born and alerts the researchers by changing the frequency/tone of signal. Researchers can often find the birth site and/or fawn within four hours or less after birth.

Dr. John Kilgo, a talented researcher for the Forest Service, has years of such data. He and his staff have documented that in recent years, 70% of the fawns were killed by predators at their research site (a 300 square mile area in South Carolina) during the first few months after birth! 62% of the total mortality was due to coyotes!! This is not a guess or a theory. At this level of predation, even without any hunting mortality, deer populations will decrease in number and quality (more on the stress of predation next week).

John and his staff swabed the kill site and used advanced techniques with genetic testing to confirm if the killer was a coyote, bobcat, domestic dog, etc. Using this technology, they can tell if it was a male or female predator and if it was the same predator that killed a fawn ¼ mile or 10 miles way. John’s research is fascinating!

He ended his abstract by stating “I predict that this pressure (coyotes) will require significant changes in how deer populations are managed in the Southeast in the future, because coyotes are here to stay.”

I agree with John, but know from my student’s work and my experience, that coyotes can be trapped and their impact on deer populations reduced. Trapping and calling coyotes are fun activities (GDTV 119). However, it requires time and effort. There is no easy method to significantly reduce coyote populations. Some managers will simply let their deer herds be significantly reduced by coyotes. I, and hopefully many others, will not sit by and watch deer populations be reduced significantly by predators. I will actively call and trap coyotes to keep their population in check so deer, turkey, and other game species can maintain a healthy population.

I enjoy hearing a coyote howl. However, I enjoy seeing and interacting with deer and turkeys more. When push comes to shove, I’ll be the deer’s best friend and the coyote’s worst enemy. How about you? Will you sit by and watch America’s favorite game species be reduced to the occasional rare sighting? Or will you join me in protecting the future of hunting?

The damage by coyotes and other predators to deer and other game species is not just direct mortality. Predators also can cause much stress to game species! Next week I’ll share strategies deer hunters/managers can use to fight this change and improve the odds of growing mature bucks on their hunting grounds. While you’re waiting on that blog to come out, watch some of the coyote action caught on video by our Reconyx trail cameras here.

Growing (and protecting) Deer together,

Grant

Tips For Making Poor Timber into Quality Habitat – Episode #398

By GrowingDeer,

A dead doe that was eaten by predators

New Video

Watch as the GrowingDeer Team works to convert poor timber into quality habitat! Learn tips to help select and remove trees for improving your timber! Plus, see our latest strategy for hunting a hit list buck this fall!

Click Here To Watch Now

Several deer at a Trophy Rock station during daylight.Short Clip:

High quality food sources like food plots can bring the deer in! Sit back and enjoy watching all these deer!

 

Watch Now

A buck uses an area that was protected by a fence

New Weekly Blog:

It’s often easier to grow mature bucks than it is to harvest mature bucks. Find out how to create and use bottlenecks to pattern and hunt mature bucks!

 

Click Here

An Ozone Go plugged into the work truck.

Tip of the Week:

Don’t let smelly scent build up in your truck this summer! Running an Ozone Go in the truck after working in the field is a great start to fall scent control!

Just for Whitetails: Save Those Food Plots! – Episode #397

By GrowingDeer,

Protecting food plots for deer in GrowingDeer episode 397.

New Video

We’re hunting! A notorious soybean predator is causing crop damage to a food plot. It’s a great challenge in more ways than one! Plus, see how the Hot Zone fence is keeping deer out of our precious crop and saving those soybeans for a late season hunt.

Click Here To Watch Now

A gobbler strutting in JuneShort Clip:

Spring flooding at The Proving Grounds most likely wiped out many turkey nests. As a result, we are seeing an extended breeding season. Check out these June struts and gobbles!

 

Watch Now

Bucks and does

New Weekly Blog:

Do you know your deer herd’s adult sex ratio? Knowing how many bucks there are for every doe can be an important management tool. Find out how deer sex ratios affect the rut, herd health and hunting!

Click Here

Summit Treestands safety harness

Tip of the Week:

Many hunters will be hanging stands and trimming lanes soon. Before you head into the woods, make sure all the buckles work and the straps are in good condition. And never leave the ground without your safety harness on and attached to the tree.

Deer Season Prep: Creating New Food Plots – Episode #396

By GrowingDeer,

Learn how we design a new food plot in GrowingDeer episode 396.

New Video

Grant and the interns design a new food plot! Watch to see the thoughts and steps to creating a food plot from scratch. It’s a strategy designed to produce quality food and hunting in rough timber. Plus, we share tips on how to capture great trail camera pictures of fawns, does, and of course, BUCKS!

Click Here To Watch Now

Mid-June bucks in velvetShort Clip:

We love seeing ANTLERS! Enjoy our recent Reconyx videos of velvet bucks!

 

 

Watch Now

Grant standing in a glade at The Proving Grounds

New Weekly Blog:

Quality cover and designated sanctuaries can result in a healthier deer herd and better hunting! Find out why cover is key for managing mature, huntable whitetails!

 

Click Here

Clay practices shooting a target at close range

Tip of the Week:

Blind bale shooting, or shooting a close target with your eyes closed, is a great way to slow down and focus on shooting form!

Third Rule For Managing Deer And Growing Big Bucks

By GrowingDeer,

Third on my list of top recommendations for managing land to yield mature, huntable whitetails is the need for cover. Cover is specifically areas where deer are likely to feel more secure compared to surrounding areas.

In the Southern portion of the U.S. cover may be shade. In colder climates it might be native grass that serves to block the wind but allow the sun’s radiant energy to reach the deer. Cover may be areas where predator populations (such as coyotes) are reduced and the deer are less threatened / stressed.

Quality cover reduces stress levels of deer. This allows them to express more of their antler growth and fawn producing potential. Cover can be just as beneficial to a deer herd as quality nutrition, depending on the sources of stress. However, they are co-dependent. One without the other could lead to the deer herd not expressing its potential.

Grant standing in a glade at The Proving Grounds

The best cover is not only a particular type of structure (shade, native grass, etc.), but also an area of reduced predation. Hunters are predators. Those areas set aside for cover should have limited human activity to ensure that deer feel safe from human predation. By making those cover areas a sanctuary (prohibit entry by humans during most of the year) it will maximize the reduction of stress. Sanctuaries combined with desirable cover are very beneficial to deer.

To benefit the deer herd where you hunt, don’t just think about ways to attract them and make the deer easier to see, but think about managing enough of the habitat to ensure each deer has a place they feel safe. This is not a totally unselfish act by hunters. Deer that feel secure are not as alert and are easier to hunt.

Create some sanctuaries! Make that “un-huntable” buck drop some of his defenses, lower his stress, and line him up in your sights next deer season!

Growing Deer together!

Grant

Tips For Food Plot Success! – Episode #392

By GrowingDeer,

Learn tips for food plot success in GrowingDeer episode 392.

New Video

Watch Grant share food plot tips to reduce soil temperature and moisture loss! It’s an all round recipe for food plot success!

Click Here To Watch Now

Grant explains how to calibrate a no-till drill.Short Clip:

Check out this simple explanation on how to calibrate a no-till drill and why calibration should be done every year!

 

 

Watch Now

Two deer licking a Trophy Rock

New Weekly Blog:

Antlers are growing and fawning season is here! Find out how to help deer express their full potential during this growing season!

 

Click Here

Adding Howes’ Power Kleaner to the tractor

Tip of the Week:

Don’t forget to take care of your tractor during planting season. Howes Power Kleaner helps lubricate injectors and pumps and improves engine performance.

Preparing For Summer: Ticks

By GrowingDeer,

Here at The Proving Grounds it seems like summer is just around the corner. Antlers are growing, fawns will be dropping any day and Eagle Seed soybeans are being planted. Soon we will be hanging Summit Stands, trimming lanes and beginning several habitat projects. That means a lot of time in the woods.

Clothing treated with permethrin

We lay all our clothes out on the ground and spray both the front and back with permethrin.

As many hours as we spend in the woods, we come across lots of ticks! Ticks can carry many diseases. We help protect our deer herd from these by feeding Antler-X-Treme which reduces ticks and other parasites, but what about us? Tick-borne diseases can be harmful, and in some cases, fatal to humans. Tick-borne diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Lyme disease are serious and precautions need to be considered before heading into the woods this summer.

Before we enter the woods, we spray all our clothes with Permethrin. Permethrin repels and even kills ticks. One treatment will often last up to two weeks and several washings. However, Permethrin should not be applied to your clothes while wearing.

We lay out all our clothes that we will be using in the field, spray them with Permethrin and then let them dry before wearing. This has greatly reduced the number of ticks that we find after being in the woods. Fewer ticks mean there is less of a chance of contracting a tick-borne disease.

If you are planning to be in the woods this summer, start preparing now. Treat your clothes with permethrin or find another tick repellant and enjoy Creation without having to worry about ticks.

Enjoying Creation,

Daniel

The Power Of Cover Crops

By GrowingDeer,

Over the past several weeks we have had a lot of rain at The Proving Grounds. Our neighbor poured out 11+ inches from his rain gauge during one weekend. Talk about a toad straggler!

Water can be a powerful force. There are many that have had massive damage to their homes and properties. We had substantial damage at The Proving Grounds. The main road of our property runs through a bottom along the base of the Ozark Mountains. Like many low areas in mountainous country, there is a small stream that passes through. In torrential downpours, like the one we recently experienced, the creek rises very fast due to the runoff from the mountains. When these occasional rainstorms roll in there is a lot of water that moves through the property very quickly!

Not only are the road and creek located in these low terrain areas, but so are many of our food plots. With thousands of gallons of water rushing through our food plots as the creeks overflow, you would think it would wash away our food plots. Not so.

Cover crop versus erosion

Notice how the erosion stopped when the water hit the cover crop!

The majority of the damage left in the wake of the recent storm was focused on our roads (where no vegetation grew). Several portions of the road (which runs through many of our food plots) washed completely out. Our food plots show no signs of erosion and still have our cover crop in place. To be honest, we are shocked! This is a great example of the power and value of food plot cover crops.

Cover crops have many benefits. They pull nutrients up the soil profile, making them available to food plot crops. Cover crops protect the soil from wind and water erosion, hold soil moisture, help reduce weeds, and promote healthy soil structure among many other things.

Last fall we planted a cover crop of cereal rye. This spring the rye shot up and is now protecting our soil until we are able to plant Eagle Seed soybeans. The cereal rye has done many things for our soil but one of the most impressive is holding our food plots intact through massive flooding. It’s hard to imagine what our food plots would have looked like if they had no protection by a cover crop.

Stay tuned throughout the year as we explain step-by-step our food plot planting and management techniques!

Enjoying Creation,

Daniel

Farm Country Habitat Management – Episode #385

By GrowingDeer,

Grant helps Greg Ritz with a deer management plan in GrowingDeer episode #385.

New Video

Follow along as we travel to northwest Illinois to develop a deer management plan for Greg Ritz. Greg and Grant refine his habitat and hunting plan!

Click Here To Watch Now

Grant Woods & James Harrison answer turkey call questions.Short Clip:

Find out why an owl hooter and crow call can get toms fired up and located!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch Now

We use a low camera angle for scouting turkeys

New Weekly Blog:

Grant shares his tips for scouting and getting great turkey trail camera pictures!

 

 

Click Here

GrowingDeer camo hat

Tip of the Week:

They’re finally here! GrowingDeer hats are now available!

 

 

 

Order Now