This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
DANIEL: This past weekend, a big cold front was moving across a portion of the whitetails’ range. Daytime temperatures went from the 90s down to the low 70s and high 60s. Deer were on their feet.
DANIEL: The entire GrowingDeer Team was out in the woods, hunting hard, trying to put venison in the freezer.
DANIEL: Pro Staffer Bradley Lueckenhoff and Danny Naugle had been waiting for hunting conditions like these for several weeks.
DANIEL: Danny and Bradley do a lot of hunting in southwest Missouri, and one of the properties that they have permission to hunt is a block of timber surrounded by cattle pasture.
DANIEL: Because of the habitats, cattle pasture and hardwood timber, there’s not a lot of quality forage for deer to consume.
DANIEL: Bradley and Danny believed that if they cleared an area in the timber and planted a little hidey hole food plot that food source would be a deer magnet. The guys didn’t just throw a dart at the map and say, “We’re planting a hidey hole here.” They strategically designed the area for a great hunting location.
DANIEL: It’s open cattle pasture just to the north of this property line, but there are several hardwood fingers that run and connect to larger chunks of timber to the north.
DANIEL: Based on their past hunting observations, Bradley and Danny knew the northern portion of this property was an incredible travel corridor as deer traveled along the northern fence line and then went up into those hardwood fingers going into another chunk of timber.
DANIEL: There’s an old logging road that runs along the northern portion of the property. And then it takes a small bend, forks, and goes down into the interior. This logging road is a path of least resistance, and deer love to travel that old logging road there on the north end of the property.
DANIEL: This interior logging road, well, it had been opened up a little. So there was some sunlight hitting the ground, so they decided to convert it from an old logging road into a small hidey hole food plot.
DANIEL: This not only created a great destination for deer as they traveled through the timber, but it also created a great bottleneck.
DANNY: We’ve got this little open area right here where I come in backpack spray it, kill it off, come back and burn ’em and spread seed. This is just designed to get a deer to just come through this area, slow down a little bit, and just give us a shot real quick. That’s all we’re asking for. It’s not a supplemental food; it’s not going to keep ‘em here for months. Just to slow ‘em down.
DANIEL: The plan was to allow the vegetation to dry up a little bit and then come in and burn. They terminated the weeds, but a few days later the landowner came in and bush-hogged the area, but that didn’t stop ‘em. On the 29th of August they came back and they burned what they could.
DANIEL: Burning this area got the duff off the ground real quick, and it also allowed those nutrients to break down very quickly and be available for the seed that they planted. Rain was forecast, so Bradley and Danny grabbed their over-the-shoulder seeders and began broadcasting.
DANIEL: They got great seed-to-soil contact and within just a few days after the rain, seed was germinating.
DANIEL: Right before Missouri’s archery season opened, which is September 15th, Danny and Bradley went in and hung a Summit stand on the southwest corner of their new hidey hole food plot.
DANIEL: They wisely put the stands back in the timber several yards from the hidey hole food plot. This gave them the opportunity to hunt the old logging road that was still the travel corridor and the hidey hole food plot.
DANIEL: It wasn’t long before Bradley and Danny were getting lots of pictures of does cutting through the area. When the cold front hit, it brought a northeast wind, which was perfect for Bradley and Danny to slip in and hunt their new hidey hole food plot.
DANIEL: They were able to approach from the southwest with the wind hitting ’em in the face, not alerting deer to the north or the east.
BRADLEY: (Whispering) Well, it is October 7th. We have just climbed up into a Summit. We’re overlooking a food plot that Danny and I planted earlier this summer. We came in – this property is 80 acres of timber. We came in and tried to find a little bit of sunlight coming through. Found this spot here.
BRADLEY: (Whispering) We came in with backpack sprayers, sprayed everything and killed it and came back in and burned it, waited a couple of weeks for a good rain, broadcast our seed and got a pretty nice food plot coming in.
BRADLEY: (Whispering) There’s a lot of oaks that are surrounding this plot and a few that actually run right through the middle of it. Acorns are falling heavy and there’s been a group of does in here every single night. We’ve got a few doe tags, so we’re hoping that maybe tonight we can tag a couple.
DANIEL: They had just got settled in the stand when a buck stepped out. This buck was moving at a pretty good clip, but he was browsing on the green forage and working his way towards Bradley and Danny.
DANIEL: Sure enough, when he left the plot, he was walking that logging road down through the timber.
DANIEL: The guys hoped a hit list buck or a doe would follow the same pattern.
DANIEL: Acorns were raining down in the timber, and that can make hunting difficult in hardwoods. However, Bradley and Danny knew that they had acorns, they were hunting a great travel corridor and they had a tasty food plot out in front of ’em. They knew they were in the game.
DANIEL: The sun was setting when Bradley spotted a doe walking up the road and headed for the hidey hole.
BRADLEY: (Whispering) She crashed.
BRADLEY: (Whispering) Well, we have about 30 minutes until shooting light was, was over. Just happened to look up, and this doe came in, and she was about 20 yards when she first came in but went out to about 30. I think I might’ve hit her a little high, but it sounded like she crashed not too far along. The plan worked out perfect.
BRADLEY: (Whispering) We planted this food plot not necessarily to hold deer but to just kind of funnel ‘em in here, hoping that maybe they’d go in, grab a bite to eat, and give us enough time to be able to draw back and get a shot on one. The plan worked out perfect.
BRADLEY: (Whispering) We’re going to sit a little bit, re-watch the footage, make sure we’ve got a good shot before we start trailing.
BRADLEY: Well, we have climbed down, recovered the arrow. As you can see, it’s covered in blood. That Blood Ring is looking good. The shot was a little high, but we do think we got some lungs. We’re going to pick up the trail.
BRADLEY: We heard her crash not too far from here, so hopefully we can find her here before too long.
BRADLEY: As you can see, the shot is a little high. If you look on the backside though it’s a little lower; and it’s actually through that front shoulder.
BRADLEY: The Deadmeat definitely did its job. She only ran 50 or 60 yards probably. Not the biggest doe but definitely a mature one. That food plot worked perfect. Like I said earlier, that plot was not made to hold deer but rather funnel them through that area, hopefully slow them down, allow us a shot.
DANIEL: I wish to take a moment to review the shot. The doe was only standing 24 yards away, and, in real-time, it looked like Bradley had aimed and hit high.
DANIEL: However, if we slow the footage down frame by frame, we once again see that this doe had reacted to the shot and the arrow hit her high.
DANIEL: Bradley’s Bloodsport is flying about 270 feet per second and at 24 yards this doe reacts and drops several inches. This is a great example of what many hunters see in real-time.
DANIEL: As the deer runs off, they realize that the shot was high or a little left or right. But they don’t realize that the deer actually reacted to the shot.
DANIEL: Bradley and Danny did an excellent job executing a plan. They created a hidey hole food plot giving the property a limiting resource, created an incredible bottleneck and brought home venison for the freezer.
DANIEL: I suspect we’ll be seeing several hunts from these guys later this fall.
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DANIEL: We have recently assisted another landowner using only an onX map and a cell phone to create a habitat management and hunting plan for their property.
DANIEL: Andy, the property owner, owns 20 acres where he and his son hunt.
GRANT: Andy, Grant Woods calling.
ANDY: Hi, Grant. How are you doing?
GRANT: I’m well. How are you today, sir?
ANDY: Very good.
DANIEL: Andy’s property is on the north portion of a large block of timber and to the north, east, and west, there’s production cropland.
DANIEL: Looking at the onX map, it was easy to tell Andy’s property was well-positioned. He was smack dab in the middle of the travel corridor that deer would be using as they traveled between food and cover.
GRANT: It’s a little bit over 700 yards from your northern boundary up those ag fields.
GRANT: So, that’s not far. It’s less than half a mile up there.
GRANT: So, to a deer, it’s not too far, but your property is situated in the middle of a bunch of timber and cattle pastures.
ANDY: I know.
GRANT: So, if we can develop some good food plots on your property, I think we can shortstop deer from going up to the ag fields, at least during daylight hours.
DANIEL: Because Andy’s property is in crop country, quality food and cover is often a limited resource after the harvest. Grant recommended that Andy focus on providing cool-season forage and cover on his property.
GRANT: So, one of the first things I would do is the small powerline easement that’s on the east side of your property…
GRANT: …I would – there’s not a lot of elevation change there at all, like 20 feet from one end to the other?
ANDY: Yeah, it just kind of goes up and down.
ANDY: Like up and down about four times.
GRANT: Right. All those low spots or even in 50 yards – which is a fair amount from either end of your property – I would plant the rest of that thing in a food plot.
GRANT: Another plan I have is…
ANDY: Uh huh.
GRANT: …I notice there’s a line of trees that goes across the top of your property, oh, just 50 or 60 yards down from your border.
ANDY: Yeah, and that’s – that’s a creek right there.
GRANT: Ah huh.
ANDY: There are trees on either side of that.
GRANT: Yeah. So I’ve drawn out a food plot there. We’ll send you a map of this food plot and it hugs the line of your timber, those cedar trees. That pasture with the cedars, I’m sure you see deer out there, but they’re just passing through. It’s not really providing much benefit.
GRANT: So, what I want to do is stay away from the road over there even though it gates at your property. You just don’t want your neighbors seeing deer out in your place all the time. It’s just a big temptation.
ANDY: Right. (Laughter)
GRANT: So, I’ve mapped out about a 2.8-acre food plot in the center there and, that way, it’s going to attract a lot of deer across your utility right-of-way.
GRANT: And I would suggest hunting along that utility right-of-way or in between there and the big food plot and not necessarily right on the food plot because if you get busted or you alert deer while hunting a food plot, they’re going to associate that area with danger.
GRANT: And then on the top up here in that field just like, because there’s another little creek or little stream of woods kind of between you and your neighbor to the north there. So, I’ve drawn out a three-quarter of an acre plot there.
GRANT: And it hugs your timberline, so you’ve got places for stands and blinds.
ANDY: Hmm, hmm.
GRANT: And – and this will give you more of a feeding size type food plot. These are destination plots.
GRANT: What I want to talk about is ways to hunt or position stands and blinds of deer going to those plots and not necessarily focused on hunting those plots.
GRANT: Okay. And then, one more here on that line or on that subject. In between a big old block of your property – the timber in there, and I notice there’s a little opening and a large flat area. And I’ll draw this or shoot it to you. But we can make another little hunting or hidey hole plot that’s just, gosh, a half-acre or less right in the middle of all those trees.
GRANT: Now, what that does is a couple of things. It’s not only more food but, when I do that, now I’ve created several bottlenecks, several areas in the timber that deer are gonna scoot through because they don’t want to be out in the open.
ANDY: Right, right.
GRANT: And this just makes your property much, much more huntable.
GRANT: There’s cover everywhere; there’s water everywhere. What you can provide that your neighbors are not likely to provide is food. And deer are going to food every day. So, boy, if you, if you get these plots established, I promise you, you’re going to see a lot of deer.
ANDY: Right. And so, do you think I should put beans in those plots?
GRANT: Next summer, I would, I would try beans in the larger two plots.
GRANT: You may want to use one of the fences like I use, the Hot Zone fence, to protect the one to the north because I’m afraid there’s so many deer in your area and you’ve got the only food right there, that they may damage it pretty quickly due to browse pressure.
GRANT: I would encourage you to allow the south half of your property – below that food plot, I would never mow that or try to keep it looking like a golf course or anything. I want those grasses to grow up to be bedding cover.
ANDY: Okay, okay. I can do that because it takes quite a long time to mow that, so that’s not a problem.
GRANT: Yeah. Yeah. Stop, stop mowing that. You may mow it once a year, once every two years, simply so saplings don’t take over. Or if you start getting some hardwood saplings in there you can walk around with a backpack sprayer and just terminate those saplings and leave your cover out there.
ANDY: Ah huh.
GRANT: Now, this is a little bit more advanced, but if you can work it out, if you can do this, this would be awesome.
GRANT: You have a road on the west side of your property and a neighbor’s driveway on the south or maybe just slightly off your property on the south.
GRANT: And if you go over to the timberline and then go back up that food plot, the food plot is a fire break; the roads are fire breaks. And if you just disc in between or mow real shortly – short to the ground, close to the ground – from the food plot back west to the road and from the southeast corner of the food plot down to the road – the neighbor’s driveway if the neighbor allows you do this.
GRANT: If you would burn that area, you know, about once every three years it would be even better habitat. And that would take care of your cedars and your hardwood saplings encroaching on that area.
DANIEL: Eastern red cedar offers little benefit for wildlife. Grant recommended that Andy target those cedars, get ‘em on the ground, open up the canopy, allow sunlight to hit the ground, and encourage native grasses and forbs to grow.
GRANT: So, you had a list of questions here, and I’m gonna go back to it, but one of ‘em was talked about cutting all the cedars. You know, my first priority is –
ANDY: Yeah, there’s just a lot of them.
GRANT: Yeah. My first priority, or maybe year one if you will, is cut the cedars in the – where the food plots are going.
GRANT: Year two or three, I would just start going in there and felling those cedars. You’re just gonna fell them. As long as you cut a cedar below the bottom limb it will not regenerate. It won’t send up saplings like a hardwood sprout will.
GRANT: So, you’ve just got – you know, you’ve got a safety helmet on and chaps on and hearing protection. You don’t have to have a large chainsaw to cut cedars. So, we use a pretty small model because you’re carrying it all day and it’s very efficient.
GRANT: Cedars are relatively softwood and we just fell ‘em and let ‘em lay for at least two years. Boy, there’ll be all kinds of deer cover, but as those needles fall off the cedars, vegetation will start growing up in them.
GRANT: Felling those cedars and let them dry for at least two years and then run a light – when I say light – backing fire. So, let’s say the wind is out of the west. You start the fire on the east and let it creep in there. And that will consume a lot of those cedars and skeletons and open up that area where you can see deer further. And even more importantly, allow sunshine to reach the soil and stimulate really great native grasses and forbs to grow in your woods and create more of a savannah habitat.
DANIEL: As with any property, a key part to Andy’s success will be his hunting strategy.
GRANT: So, let’s talk about hunting strategies. So, you, you’re going to approach down the road there, and I really, really, really want you to develop a path all the way along your southern border and your northern border.
GRANT: So, if we have a west wind – let’s just say we have a west wind —
GRANT: – and you park there at your place, and you start walking these food plots. Well, the wind is pushing your scent right to the plot before you ever get there.
ANDY: Oh, yeah.
GRANT: So, usually, it’s rarely a direct west wind. There’s a little south to it or a little north to it. So, I need you to be able to go from the gravel road there all the way to the eastern end of your property.
ANDY: Hmm, hmm.
GRANT: And then walk up or down the eastern end of your property until you get about parallel with where you want to hunt and then cut in.
GRANT: Because those west winds, you need to be able to come in from the east.
GRANT: And – and not through the middle of your property. If it’s a northwest wind, you need to go all the way to the south. If it’s a southwest wind you want to come in to the north. Get all the way to the eastern side of your property or at least as far east as where you’re hunting and then cut down to where your stand or blind is.
DANIEL: Grant designed a hunting plan that gave Andy access around the border of his property and had many stand and blind locations. This gave Andy many options to be able to hunt during different winds.
GRANT: These walking paths that – where you can get in silently are as important as any habitat feature we have on this property. Because you have to be able to approach your hunting area without alerting deer.
ANDY: Agree, agree.
GRANT: And if you just like come through the middle, maybe you come, you know, 50 yards, 100 yards south of the creek that runs through your property, that drainage, and cut through that food plot and get all the way back to the little food plot we designed in the timber, well goodness, you spooked a lot of deer before you ever started your hunt.
GRANT: So, I think that’s really, really important.
DANIEL: We believe that if Andy and his son apply the hunting strategies and the habitat improvement plans to this 20 acres, they’re gonna have many great hunts.
DANIEL: The entire GrowingDeer Team enjoys working with landowners and hunters to create better habitat, but we’re not the only ones. There are many great biologists out there that enjoy working with landowners to improve their properties.
DANIEL: Recently, over 100 private land biologists that work with the Missouri Department of Conservation and other organizations came and toured The Proving Grounds.
DANIEL: We had a great time discussing the Buffalo System, soil health, and habitat improvement.
DANIEL: By working together, we can all make wise decisions on conserving and improving our natural resources.
DANIEL: Grant recently traveled to Syracuse, New York to share these topics and hunting strategies with hunters and landowners there.
DANIEL: Grant had a great time swapping hunting stories and sharing about Creation. We share the details of these events on our social media pages, so if you’d like more information, check ‘em out.
DANIEL: If you enjoy the tips and hunting strategies that we share at GrowingDeer, I encourage you to share a link with your friends.
DANIEL: Putting together an effective hunting plan, well, it takes time and some strategy. The same is true for our lives. I hope you slow down this week and enjoy Creation. But more importantly I hope you slow down, listen to what the Creator is saying to you, and the plan He has for your life.
DANIEL: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.