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GRANT: One of the most satisfying parts of my job as a consulting wildlife biologist is helping landowners design a habitat management plan, watching them implement the plan and then seeing them, their family, and their guests reap the results of better habitat.
GRANT: Last winter I visited a farm in eastern Kentucky. It’s over 700 acres of rolling hills and bottoms, covered by hardwoods and cropland, owned by three friends, Norman, Doc and Graham. As is often the case, these guys called me because they wanted to see more deer and better quality deer. I spent the day with Norman, Doc, and Graham, exploring their property and then returned to my office and created a very detailed written management plan and a large map to give them direction on how to meet their goals.
GRANT: You, you called and you said, “Well, we’re a little worried maybe deer herd quality is going down and a couple of factors.” Well, I can see that cause as these invasives take over and take more habitat, your habitat quality is going down. It always goes back to habitat. If we don’t have good quality habitat, we don’t have good critters.
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GRANT: These guys jumped in with a lot of energy and started clearing areas, using prescribed fire and improving food plots.
GRANT: These guys have already implemented a lot of the plan. They’ve still got more to go, but I wanted to take some time and share some of their early successes.
GRANT: Most hunters agree that if you’re gonna set in the woods for hours, it’s a lot more fun to see critters while you’re there.
GRANT: That was the case as Doc and the camera man, Jacob, were setting in the woods during a beautiful October morning.
GRANT: They hadn’t been there long when they had a big doe working their way.
DOC: Uh, the Havoc. Man, what a hole. I watched, you know, Grant and Adam. And I’ve seen the hole the – on the internet and I’m like, “Wow.” And to see it in real life, it’s amazing.
GRANT: Doc learned, like I have, the Havoc’s a great broadhead.
GRANT: It’s now the opening day of gun season in Kentucky, and young Pruitt Lansdale is hunting over a food plot the guys created this spring. Pruitt’s dad, Norman, is running the camera when suddenly, they see antlers on the edge of the field.
PRUITT: (Whispering) You on him? You on him?
NORMAN: (Whispering) Yeah, I’m on him.
NORMAN: Smoked him.
NORMAN: Smoked him.
PRUITT: (Whispering) Yeah! I saw those weeds moving, I looked down there, I go, “Big buck.”
PRUITT: Well, he stepped out at about 110 yards. And I had my opportunity, so I shot him and he dropped about right here. Well, he – he might of ran like ten yards. But, yeah, he’s right here now.
PRUITT: Well, we were in this Redneck Blind up here – about 110 yards from Eagle Seed beans. All right, we were in this Redneck Blind on Eagle Seed. (Laughter) Oh my gosh. I keep wanting to say, “Beans.”
NORMAN: Just have fun with it, man. Okay?
PRUITT: Okay. Eagle Seed field. You said it was Broadside!
NORMAN: It is a Broadside. It’s part of the product. (Laughter)
GRANT: Pruitt’s working on being a real pro. Even better, he’s got a great mentor and plenty of time to touch up his game.
PRUITT: That’s where, that’s where I saw him. And his body popped up right here.
NORMAN: Hmm. Hmm.
GRANT: Congratulations Pruitt, on a fine buck.
GRANT: It’s now November 16th, and Doc’s back in a new field. When I was there last, this area was overgrown with bush honeysuckle and multiflora rose. Due to the lay of the land and the strategic location, I had suggested this would make a great one to two acre food plot. The Kentucky guys immediately set to work – clearing, burning and planting.
GRANT: Today, it’s a great plot of Eagle Seed’s Broadside blend and the deer use it frequently.
GRANT: Doc’s already got action in this Broadside plot and this doe is curious about something outside the plot.
GRANT: Doc believes she’s keeping tabs on a large buck that’s just outside the plot.
GRANT: Suddenly, Doc sees a buck enter the field. He’s never seen this buck before. Doc’s got to run the camera and decide if he’s gonna tag this buck. Doc decides he’s gonna take the shot.
GRANT: Doc says he has no excuse, but I can tell you self-filming is very difficult. You’re constantly worried about the focus, making sure the deer’s in frame, and whether all the meters are reading the right numbers. It’s a very tough job to self-film a hunt.
DOC: Gonna play it back and see, see if I got a good hit on him.
GRANT: Cameras can also help hunters. In this case, it helped Doc quickly confirm it was a clean miss. There was no hydrostatic shock. There was no ripple from the bullet impact. Clearly, it was a clean miss. And that’s a better feeling than wondering if it was a miss or a wounded animal.
DOC: So, it looked like it was a clean miss. We searched all over. Um, no blood. And, uh, so, the ten is still alive.
GRANT: If you’re gonna miss, you hope it’s a clean miss and that’s exactly what Doc got.
GRANT: With busy schedules keeping them from hunting, Graham and Doc are excited to get to hunt again. One more time, they head back to the new field. It’s opening of muzzleloader season in Kentucky and Doc’s got his new Nikon all sighted in.
DOC: This is the field that, uh, I missed that ten pointer in. New plot we put in this year. It’s got bedding on both sides, woods; it’s a great travel corridor. We have Reconyx camera on this far corner that’s on time lapse and the amount of deer activity in this field is just amazing.
GRANT: It’s late in the season and they knew a couple of hit list bucks had been shot on neighboring properties, but there’s still some good ones roaming around. One unique buck still using the property is a buck they called Slick Six. Slick Six had matured with only developing six antler points. Slick Six doesn’t appear like he’s ever gonna score a lot, but he’s truly a unique buck.
GRANT: Time had passed during a slow afternoon hunt. It was near closing time when they finally spotted a deer.
DOC: (Whispering) I couldn’t, I couldn’t tell about the shot.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) I couldn’t either. All that smoke.
DOC: (Whispering) I felt like I had a good rest.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) Yeah.
DOC: (Whispering) Yeah. (Inaudible)
UNKNOWN: It’s the Slick Six!
UNKNOWN: Slick Six? (Laughter)
UNKNOWN: Slick Six. (Laughter) (Inaudible)
UNKNOWN: Big bodied deer.
GRAHAM: Oh, man, we’re due. Thank you, Lord. We were so due.
DOC: He’s a, he’s a mature buck and, and, uh, I love him. And he’s – you know, he’s just got an awesome frame and, and uh, it was just – yeah, two weeks ago, uh, one of our ten pointers I missed. So, I got my new BDC reticle for uh, from Nikon to put on my muzzleloader. So, it makes a difference. It’s been – it’s – it’s just awesome.
UNKNOWN: Ready? One, two, three.
DOC: Uh, I just thank the Lord tonight for all He done for me. You know, it’s been a great birthday weekend. Uh, get to hunt all weekend. Uh, my wife gave me the weekend and, uh, I appreciate that Mel and, and, uh, shout out to my mother-in-law who passed, who passed away, um, Thanksgiving. So. Thank you.
GRANT: Congratulations, Doc and Graham on a unique buck.
GRANT: It was wicked cold last night, about 10 degrees, and deer are burning a lot of calories just trying to stay warm – let alone maintain their body weight or increase it for the future season. During these conditions, deer prefer and do best on high energy foods, like soybeans or corn. Greens don’t have as much energy as these grains do – especially during this time of year.
GRANT: These Eagle Seed beans clearly fed deer all summer – are doing a great job in the winter. But, could I improve on this plot? This is an example of the ideal winter food plot. Last spring, we planted it with Eagle Seed forage soybeans. It’s a smaller size plot and the deer clearly kept the beans browsed fairly low. Even with the intense browse pressure, the Eagle Seed beans produced forage to keep the deer fed all summer long and enough pods that there’s plenty of pods here in the middle of January.
GRANT: During the first week of September, Adam and Daniel and I came in here with just shoulder seeders and broadcast Eagle’s Broadside blend in the standing beans.
GRANT: While the deer were still eating the green forage of the soybeans, the Broadside was germinating and growing beneath the beans. When the beans stopped growing, we had lush wheat and brassicas and radishes underneath the beans and deer were feeding on them aggressively. During cold days, deer prefer the bean pods. During warmer days, they will eat the greens below the beans. We have both ideal foods in one plot.
GRANT: This is a perfect example of never cleaning the table. If you’ve got guests over and you want ‘em to stay feeding at your house, but you clean the table and take all the groceries away, they’re gonna go somewhere else. Same with your deer herd. In addition to attracting and feeding deer, this green cover keeps the winter weeds from coming up in the beans. So, we won’t have any weed problem in this plot next spring.
GRANT: Even though the beans are obviously dead and not growing, they’re not taking any nutrients out of the soil. The brassicas and the forage wheat are actively growing. Those roots are getting deeper; they’re retaining nutrients and bringing ‘em to the soil top. We call that mining, or recycling nutrients. Deer will either eat those nutrients, which is great, or these crops will die on the top of the soil and have those nutrients right here for the next crop to take advantage of.
GRANT: It’s taken me years to perfect this system, but we’ve now got a system where deer have something to eat year around in the same plot, with minimal cost and also reducing our need for herbicide and fertilizer.
GRANT: By designing an overall habitat and deer management plan, planting the right crops in the right fields with the right techniques, there’s no doubt about it – that you can have great hunting no matter where you are throughout the whitetails’ range.
GRANT: I hope you have a chance to get outside and enjoy some late season hunting or just go outside and enjoy Creation. But most importantly, take time every day and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.