This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
>>DANIEL: It’s a great time of year to be in the woods. Reading sign this time of year can offer a lot of insight to deer movement, habitat quality and the health of a deer herd.
>>DANIEL: During the past few weeks, Grant and I have been visiting with landowners across the whitetails’ range, both in person and over the phone. We’ve helped them design site-specific habitat improvement and hunting plans for their properties.
>>DANIEL: Last week Clay and I traveled about two hours northeast of The Proving Grounds to assist a landowner with his 20 acres. From the onX map it was obvious there was a diversity of habitat.
>>DANIEL: On the northern half of the property, it appeared to be a mix of pines and cedars and on the southern half, hardwood timber.
>>DANIEL: When I arrived at Mike’s property the first thing we did was sit down and I listened to his personal goals and objectives for the property.
>>DANIEL: You want to see more deer, take a few during season, fill the freezer?
>>MIKE: Yeah. Mainly – mainly I want venison, you know?
>>MIKE: Whether it’s does or whatever. I don’t really care.
>>DANIEL: Mike has owned the property for several years and he’s harvested a couple of deer. But he wishes to see more deer and have more opportunities to harvest deer, to fill that freezer and enjoy fresh venison with his family.
>>MIKE: I’ve got a few photos if you want.
>>DANIEL: Oh yeah. Those are some great deer.
>>MIKE: They’re here every year in the summer. But, you know, I’ve seen them passing through the property from a distance when I’m archery hunting, but never really get ‘em – to see ‘em up close.
>>DANIEL: The neighborhood around Mike’s property is comprised mostly of cattle pasture and small blocks of timber. It doesn’t surprise me that those bucks seem to disappear every year. And that’s because on Mike’s property there aren’t any resources that seem to attract deer at a specific time of year to cause them to spend more time on Mike’s property than neighboring properties.
>>DANIEL: 20 acres – we’re not going to hold deer, but –
>>DANIEL: – it’s how do we get deer here during daylight hours when you’re hunting. That – that’s what we want so you can get some venison.
>>DANIEL: There’s really not great – any cover or food – quality food and cover around you. So if we can add just a little bit on your property, that’s more than the neighbors. And that’s going to make your property a little more attractive.
>>DANIEL: I was excited to get to work; put the boots on the ground and tour Mike’s property.
>>DANIEL: We started our tour on the northern portion of the property and there was a beautiful stand of pines that Mike had removed the cedars from several years ago.
>>DANIEL: Mike and his family enjoys the esthetics of this pine stand. But there was still a portion of the pines that was mixed with cedars. And this area could be improved for wildlife.
>>DANIEL: Even before we got there Mike knew the eastern red cedars were poor quality habitat and he had just hired a chainsaw crew to start felling the cedars.
>>DANIEL: Out walking Mike’s property this morning and we actually – we’ve got the cedar crew here. We’re going to fell all of these cedars and then we’ll use prescribed fire to burn those cedars.
>>DANIEL: And you can tell this is very flat. And once these cedars are removed, we’re going to have a lot of sunlight reaching the ground. With prescribed fire and sunlight, we’re going to have a lot of native grasses and forbs and it’s going to be much better habitat, both for cover and food, than these cedars are offering right now.
>>DANIEL: But we put ‘em on the ground, prescribed fire, sunlight – Mike’s going to have some great habitat here on his property in a few seasons.
>>DANIEL: I was glad we were touring Mike’s property because the chainsaw crew was moving fast.
>>DANIEL: I wanted to flag off a perimeter around the northern and western edge. That way there was a visual blocker from the road and the neighboring property.
>>DANIEL: This is the best time of year to flag such areas for visual screening. And that’s because most of the leaves are off the trees and brush.
>>DANIEL: This allows for maximum view into a stand of timber. And you can know the exact distance you need to flag to have a great visual block.
>>CLAY: Go back a little more.
>>DANIEL: Clay remained on the edge of the property and I walked into the timber.
>>CLAY: Yeah. Somewhere in there you’re – you’re pretty good.
>>DANIEL: When Clay hollered that he couldn’t see me, I began flagging. I knew there was enough screen to block the view from neighboring properties.
>>DANIEL: I recommended that Mike not cut any trees or brush inside the line I flagged and the border of his property. This would create a great buffer or a screen so folks could not look in to Mike’s property.
>>DANIEL: The area that was protected by the screen – I recommended that Mike keep felling the cedars and also target the hardwood species. Use the hack-and-squirt method or double girdling technique to terminate the hardwoods but keep the quality pines.
>>DANIEL: Mike and his family enjoy the esthetics of the pines, so I took time to mark the quality pines that Mike should leave.
>>DANIEL: Currently, there was no quality food or cover on this portion of the property.
>>DANIEL: As the cedars, hardwoods and low-quality pines are terminated, there’s going to be more sunlight, water and nutrients available at the ground level. Add prescribed fire and that will encourage native grasses and forbs to thrive in this area. It will provide great native food and cover for wildlife.
>>DANIEL: This type of habitat is extremely beautiful and very productive.
>>CLAY: Well, we’re working on Mike’s property today. And we just came through this neat little area here – a little clearing in these cedars. And it’s a really good sign because you can see all these natives growing right here in the shallow soil – a lot of rocks showing. Typical for a glade in this part of the Ozarks.
>>CLAY: This lets us know when Mike comes through here and starts felling these cedars, we’ve got this great native seed bank right here already in place. We get a little sunlight down here, use some prescribed fire – this will be a totally different area.
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>>DANIEL: As we moved south, the habitat changed to hardwoods.
>>DANIEL: Well, we’ve addressed the cover here at Mike’s place. We’ve removed – we’re removing cedars, we’re getting sunlight to hit the ground; get those native grasses and forbs coming up.
>>DANIEL: And we’ve moved down to the southern half here in the hardwood timber. Now there’s some great white oaks around. But you can see throughout the entire timber, it’s pretty open. There’s nothing here on the ground offering food or cover to wildlife.
>>DANIEL: So what I’m prescribing for Mike to do is we’re actually going to come through and then, you know, these little draws and throughout the property, we’re going to use hack-and-squirt or the double girdling technique and we’re going to terminate some trees.
>>DANIEL: And we’re going to let more sunlight reach the ground, get those native grasses and forbs growing in here. We’ll also allow some of these trees to express more of their potential – photosynthesize more; let those acorns taste better, which are going to be great for you as you hunt. Those become, you know, a limited resource. You know what tree deer are going to and you’ve got cover and native food all around.
>>DANIEL: But right behind us – we’ve kind of got this point here. And along the edge, we’ve got some great white oaks. But we’re designing a food plot to keep these large white oaks – those mast producing trees.
>>DANIEL: Here on the edge we’re going to plant a little food plot up on top here. And Mike can hunt both the acorns and the food plot – whenever those resources are being sought by deer.
>>DANIEL: So, we’ve kind of – we’re designing this food plot, working our edges. We’re going to create some great food, catch deer moving in between food and cover. This should be a great hunting location here in a few years.
>>DANIEL: This area didn’t have many quality oaks in the middle of the flat. So I began flagging out the perimeter for a future food plot.
>>DANIEL: We carefully designed the food plot to leave large trees on the edge that were great for stand locations or large oaks that would be dropping acorns.
>>DANIEL: When deer are targeting those acorns, there will be acorns and green forage. Mike will be able to hunt both food sources.
>>CLAY: Well, we just finished laying out a new food plot here at Mike’s property. We’ve got blue flagging strung down through marking the perimeter of the food plot.
>>CLAY: I’ve got my onX tracker turned on here. I’m just going to walk the perimeter right here where we flagged and get a good idea of how many acres we’re looking at.
>>CLAY: Okay. Well, I just finished walking the perimeter of the food plot. I’ll save that track and draw a quick area around the perimeter of my track here. It comes out to right under a half-acre.
>>CLAY: So for Mike and his family’s purposes, it’s going to serve them well and it lays out perfectly in this little ridgetop here.
>>DANIEL: This food plot will not only add an attractive food source, but it would create a bottleneck.
>>DANIEL: Mike’s property was fairly flat, and you could see a long way. There were really no large terrain features to direct deer one way or the other. Mike enjoys bow hunting, so this little food plot in the middle of the timber caused a bottleneck for deer to wrap around one end or the other.
>>DANIEL: It also created a destination. We’re going to have great cover on the northern half of the property and now we’ve got an attractive food source to the south.
>>DANIEL: Mike’s going to be able to pattern deer traveling from food to cover. This is going to create some great hunting for Mike and his family.
>>DANIEL: During our tour we laid out a lot of work for Mike. And once he implements the plan, provides quality cover, attractive food sources, he’s going to have resources that cause deer to not just pass through his property, but want to spend more daylight hours on his property.
>>DANIEL: We’ve created bottlenecks, resources, great stand and blind locations – this 20 acres is going to hunt great.
>>DANIEL: I look forward to hearing updates from Mike and seeing photos of the venison he harvests.
>>DANIEL: Grant and I will be assisting many landowners during the next few weeks. If you want to stay up to date on the habitat improvement changes we recommend to those landowners and how it can improve their hunting, stay tuned on our social media.
>>DANIEL: Whether you’re working on projects to improve the habitat where you hunt or maybe you’re shed hunting, I hope you get outside this week and enjoy Creation.
>>DANIEL: But more importantly, I hope you slow down, listen to what the Creator is saying to you and the purpose He has for your life.
>>DANIEL: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.