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BRAD: Good morning. It’s January 18th. Uh, Brad Mormann filling in for Grant. Grant’s out west at the Shot Show out in Las Vegas. Today, I’m going to be moving some of the cameras from those high elevated locations in our food plots to lower down where we can do some camera surveys around different portions of the property so we can try to figure out some of those population dynamics and where exactly the deer are and how they’re looking. What kind of shape they’re in this time of year.
BRAD: When we go about selecting camera sites, we like to have at least one camera site per hundred acres on the property. So, particularly here at The Proving Grounds, we’ve got about 21 camera sites on our roughly 1500 acres. Anytime I’m wanting to bait deer in for a camera survey, corn is my favorite attractant. We selected this particular location because of the high volume of deer coming into and out of this Eagle Seed soybean food plot. As you will recall earlier in the season, Grant and I videoed a tremendous number of deer coming in – coming in and out of this food plot foraging on those Eagle Seed beans.
BRAD: So, I’m gonna come through here and I’m actually going to weed whip some of these, just you know, remaining stems to help clear up the vegetation so nothing is blocking my antlers on the deer that I’m photographing, because I want to be able to identify, you know, every deer that comes in here. Every buck at least. So, I’m gonna go ahead and weed whip this out and then apply my corn pile and attach my camera.
BRAD: Anytime I place bait for a camera survey, I like to put it the optimum distance from the tree I’m gonna have the camera on. I want that optimum distance that pertains to that camera. In particular, we use Reconyx cameras. Their optimum distance is around 15 feet where we can really identify those unique bucks – to really look at those antler characteristics – to find those little scars or other things to help us identify each deer. Also, I like to place it in about a horseshoe shape fashion like this to the camera. Uh, that just really helps again, so the deer aren’t blocking each other so we can really identify each one as they come up. It’s very important to get, you know, to utilize every picture that we get on that camera.
BRAD: When placing the camera on the tree, I like to have it about three and a half feet or so up on the tree so about at the eye level of the deer I’m trying to capture an image from. The camera settings I like to focus on when I’m setting up my camera is, in particular, three shot mode. I like to have it when the deer walks into the frame that we get three pictures of him. In the three shot mode, I like to have about a ten second delay between each picture. So that, I take a picture; the deer moves his head a little bit. I take another picture ten seconds later. They move it again and ten seconds later they move it again. So I have that diversity of pictures so I can really identify that particular deer.
BRAD: On this particular camera I haven’t had to change the batteries. We’ve had the camera up on the tree for several weeks now. Taking pictures day in and day out and we still have over 92% battery life. These Ansmann batteries are nickel-metal hydride which really do well in these cold conditions. We, I, you know normally, three, four, five, six weeks or more, we can get out of a lot of these batteries, so I just have to come back at three to four day intervals to check out my batteries; to see if they are holding up; also to see if my camera card still has room; and then also to make sure my corn or my bait is still accessible and still there, so that I’m continually taking pictures throughout the survey period. Camera surveys are just another way that we can keep learning from our population. Anymore these days with the high quality cameras coming out and the great nickel-metal hydride batteries produced by Ansmann, we can allow our cameras to be out there a significant period of time throughout the fall, throughout the winter, spring, summer and just keep collecting information throughout the year. Just continually providing us data allows us to better manage our habitat, to know how many deer we have, to know where the deer are using and what forages they’re really, uh, hitting during different times of the year. So, putting away your cameras right after the hunting season is just something of the past. Keep ‘em out there. Keep trying to collect that information.
BRAD: Here’s an interesting buck. Barely 10. We’ve had him for several years and he’s busy on the property.
GRANT: He moves around which should make him a little bit more harvestable. Remember all deer are unique individuals. Some deer don’t move much; some deer just have a little bit larger home range…(Fades out)
BRAD: Man, it’s exciting to see one of our Hit List bucks. Uh, you know, this buck, when I come up and look at it, it’s one of those deer we’ve been tracking for several years. We have thousands of pictures of this deer. He’s actually what we call Barely 10. And right now, he’s only a nine pointer this year. But in the past he had a tenth point just barely coming up. Finding a deer like this in our food plot, is not, is not a bad thing. We like to be able to, to be able to get our hands on a deer whether we harvest him or not. Look, some deer when they reach maturity are gonna die of natural causes or just die of old age and that may have been the case for this deer. This deer is interesting because I actually have pictures of him, uh, throughout the year and the fact that I could start to see that maybe something was going on. In particular, uh, in September, we had pictures of him in daylight. He’s looking great; looking strong; eating those Eagle Seed soybeans. And we had him through October at night patrolling around trying to find a doe. November 3rd, even yet, we had him walking; had a big ole pile of brush in his antlers, like he’d been just doing a rub or a scrape or something somewhere. But just a few days later, I got a few pictures of him up at our Boom Pond, that pond with the liner, and he’s trying to get a drink of water and his, the side of his face is all puffed up. And then again, two days later, the same thing. His face is puffed up on November 15th and you just start to look at his body and he was just really starting to look rough. His, his fur was getting ruffled up and he looked really gaunt. So I looked at it and I remember seeing it on the camera and I was talking to Grant and I was like, “Man, this, this deer’s struggling, you know. I’m not sure if he’s gonna make it much longer.” And after seeing those pictures on November 13th and 15th with his cheek all swelled up and his mouth seeming to be a little deformed, that really got to me, got me thinking as I came up to this deer. You know, what caused his death? And as I look, his skull really doesn’t look like it has anything that happened to it. I don’t see anything happened to the bone. You know, I see he’s missing, actually a molar on his right side of his jaw, but I don’t think that’s something that caused his death because of how quickly it occurred from our pictures. So, I’m kind of ruling out anything as far as hunting, as far as it goes – skull, but I think I’m gonna grab our metal detector and just run over it; and just to put my mind at ease that yes, this probably was, uh, just naturally, a natural death by this deer.
BRAD: Well, I just ran the metal detector over the deer and it doesn’t seem like there’s any metal in or around the deer. So right now, I’m gonna put it off as, as dying of natural causes. This deer, according to the pictures was four or five years old. Looking at his jaw, I would say he’s, yeah, he’s at least four years old. This is just the natural part of doing deer management. It’s exciting. It’s fun to be out here. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.