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>>DANIEL: We often receive questions from folks asking how to improve the habitat and hunting on small properties – those 10, 20, 30-acre sized properties – and I gotta tell you, if those small properties are managed and hunted appropriately, they can provide some great hunting opportunities.
>>DANIEL: A great example of success year after year on a small property has been Pro Staffer Jeff Therrell. He’s tagged a bunch of venison and some great bucks on the nine acres behind his house.
>>DANIEL: The key to Jeff’s success on his nine acres in Kansas, well, it’s been planning a quality food plot and providing deer with a food source, especially during the hunting season. Once the production ag in the area has been harvested, Jeff’s property has the only attractive food, and the deer come in, and he’s experienced some great hunts.
>>DANIEL: If a property of any size can provide a limited resource better than neighboring properties, that property becomes very attractive and when seeking that resource – food, cover, water, or even security – deer will want to spend more time on that property than on the neighbors.
>>DANIEL: Clay, Micajah, and I recently traveled about 30 minutes northwest of The Proving Grounds and met with Cody to tour his 50 acres.
>>DANIEL: When looking at the onX map of Cody’s property and the neighborhood, you can see that Cody is surrounded by mostly hardwood timber, which have most likely been high graded, which is typical in this area, and cattle pasture.
>>DANIEL: Imagine that Cody’s property is in the center of a Rubik’s Cube, and each square is one square mile. This is a great illustration to show that for several miles around Cody’s property there’s not great habitat. Food and cover are very limited. Currently, Cody’s property doesn’t look much more attractive than the neighborhood.
>>DANIEL: We want Cody to see more critters and harvest more venison and making his property the most attractive 50 acres within this Rubik’s Cube is gonna be key.
>>DANIEL: Cody was off to a great start, and he had already begun felling cedars on one of the mountains.
>>DANIEL: In the past, we’ve shared updates from similar projects. One was Tom Free’s property.
>>DANIEL: When we visited Tom’s place, there was an area that was invaded by eastern red cedars. We recommended he fell those, let ‘em dry, and then use prescribed fire. After that fire moved through and those skeletons were cleaned up, I gotta tell you, once that sunlight hit the ground, there was a flush of native grasses and forbs.
>>DANIEL: This type of habitat is extremely productive for wildlife.
>>DANIEL: Cody would likely see similar results in this area. Once he used prescribed fire, those native grasses and forbs would add not only cover but native browse to his property.
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>>DANIEL: Cody was obviously onboard for improving native habitat, and I recommended that he not stop at the cedars but carry that improvement into the hardwoods – use TSI and improve the native habitat throughout much of the property.
>>DANIEL: Right now, you look through and there’s, there’s nothing –
>>CODY: No, there’s some oaks up there at the top.
>>DANIEL: – on the ground level.
>>DANIEL: But if we open that up and, you know, you’re leaving some of those big oaks through there much more productive.
>>DANIEL: The high-graded timber wasn’t providing a lot of quality habitat. It was a closed-canopy forest during the summer – not a lot of sunlight is reaching the ground. Now, there were some acorns being produced, but on that large scale Cody’s acorns when they’re on the ground, well the neighbor’s acorns are on the ground, and there’s not much difference between acorns, and patterning and hunting deer. And that type of habitat is very difficult. Deer could be on Cody’s property, or they could very easily be on the neighbor’s.
>>DANIEL: I recommended that Cody either use the hack-and-squirt method or the double-girdling technique to terminate the low-quality trees.
>>DANIEL: I’d – I’d almost just say that’s – that’s the better tree and everything else around it is going.
>>DANIEL: Because now – now you’re really releasing that tree.
>>DANIEL: This would accomplish two missions. First, by opening up that canopy, more sunlight would reach the ground, and after Cody used prescribed fire to remove that leaf litter, natives would be able to come up and offer great cover and browse for wildlife.
>>DANIEL: The quality oaks that Cody leaves standing, well they’re gonna receive more sunlight, and they’re gonna release their potential. They’re gonna photosynthesize more and won’t have as much competition for water and nutrients. They’ll be able to produce larger, more, and better-tasting acorns.
>>DANIEL: If Cody’s oaks are producing better tasting acorns than his neighbors, that could be just the edge to tagging a deer when acorns are on the ground.
>>DANIEL: Deer are very selective. They’re gonna eat the best and then go to the rest. We’ve experienced some great hunts hunting near large oaks that have been released, that don’t have competition and are photosynthesizing more.
>>DANIEL: Even though there were a lot of oaks in the area dropping acorns, deer were coming to those specific trees to munch on acorns, and it resulted in fresh venison.
>> RAE: Yes!
>>DANIEL: Due to the terrain, Cody’s property was limited to areas that could be used as food plots, so much of our focus was on native browse and cover.
>>DANIEL: However, we did find areas to expand an existing food plot and create several new plots.
>>DANIEL: By maximizing food plot acreage and getting more tons of quality forage on Cody’s property and improving the native habitat – not only cover, but native browse – Cody’s property becomes very attractive.
>>DANIEL: Going back to the Rubik’s Cube illustration, Cody’s property is now an island. He’s got the best cover and food in the neighborhood. And when deer are seeking those specific resources, they’re gonna want to spend more time within their home range around Cody’s property.
>>DANIEL: As Cody begins implementing the plan, I’m confident he’ll have some great hunting opportunities, and I look forward to updates and seeing those grip and grin photos.
>>DANIEL: As we travel across the whitetails’ range assisting landowners with their habitat and hunting improvement plans, we’ll be sharing updates and the techniques we’re sharing with them. So, stay tuned on our social media.
>>DANIEL: Whether you’re out improving habitat, looking for sheds, or starting to scout for turkeys, I hope you slow down this week and enjoy Creation. But more importantly I hope you slow down, listen to the Creator and the purpose he has for your life.
>>DANIEL: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.