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UNKNOWN: …gonna slide down.
GRANT: One of the activities we’ve been doing to prepare for deer season is putting up a Redneck blind in what we believe will be a killer location.
ADAM: So we’re gonna put this whole Redneck blind up today with just a little elbow grease and a little strength. We’re not gonna use any ATV’s, tractors, skid steers to put it up. We’re gonna just use our muscles and some hand tools.
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GRANT: There’s not much level here at The Proving Grounds in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. So, we’re doing a little bit food plot work not far away, just had the dozer come in and cut off part of the hill so we’ve got a level spot to put this Redneck blind.
CREW: (Singing) 16 kids in the front porch light. Louisiana Saturday night.
GRANT: We selected a spot on a south facing slope, overlooking a power line cut through our property. This portion of the power line is actually much more open than the rest of our farm which is mainly timber. The added visibility gives us much more time to set up for the shot and determine if it’s a buck on our hit list.
GRANT: Even more important are the habitat features around this portion of the power line. There’s a Eagle Seed food plot just to the east of the power line; a known bedding area to the west of the power line and some large white oaks on both sides. No doubt about it – come November there’s a lot of reason for bucks to be going back and forth checking out the food sources and does in the area.
GRANT: Once we’d figured out, generally, where we wanted to place the blind, we brought out our ten foot stepladder and tested several different locations – maybe just a foot or two apart – so we could find the place that offered the best view for a hunting location.
ADAM: How’s it look?
GRANT: Oh, it is awesome. Knowing that there’s acorns over in this pocket over here and a bedding area over here, bedding area over there. I mean they’re just gonna be crossing and they’re – and they’re-they’re have no reason to fear crossing there.
GRANT: Blind is put together and they’re getting ready to stand it up. The slope is too steep and we don’t own any specialty equipment. So, today, the interns earned their keep. We’re just gonna man this thing up; keep it from going too far; then turn it around in the right position.
GRANT: Y’all ready?
GRANT: Easy as that, man.
GRANT: Worked about a half a day without any big equipment, leveling up, getting this all ready to go. So, now let’s get up there and check out our view that we’ll enjoy come November.
GRANT: This is exactly what I was looking for. Check out this view. Now, here’s the lay of the land. Bedding area over here – known bedding area – cut the brush – made a bedding area. Food plot right over the ridge. Some people would question, “Why didn’t we put the blind overlooking the food plot?” It’s steep, rugged and a lot of mature bucks come this way – stage on a south wind coming this way; then pop over after dark. We’re looking right in the staging area or the exit area in the morning. With a south wind, we come in from the north; they never know we’re in their universe.
GRANT: The vertical area allows me a three point rest. I’d take my hand – lock the gun in here, using my elbow as on my knee and this elbow will be on the armrest of a chair. Three point rest – like a bench. I’m comfortable low, medium or a higher elevation shot.
GRANT: With the horizontal window, your gun tends to bevel; your elbows are up and you can’t get that three point rest. Great for the camera view – looking around – awesome for gun hunting. Put this vertical window toward the target area.
GRANT: Later in the week, the interns, Adam and I jumped in our truck and drove a couple hours to tour Bill and Maggie’s farm.
GRANT: Doe standing right there. Yeah, there she goes.
UNKNOWN: You sure? You sure?
GRANT: Bill and Maggie own about 200 acres and wish to maximize the potential of seeing and hunting wildlife on their property.
GRANT: You know, so our goal is, realistically with the shape of the property and the size of property, couple hundred acres, deer are not gonna live and die on this property. So we need to make it the most attractive or where deer want to be – that’s safety and food combined – not just one or the other…
GRANT: …during daylight hours. What is missing that would keep a deer from being here during the daylight hours? (A) If they’re here in daylight, you can recreate with them and (B) They’re not dying on neighboring properties. So that’s our – a big, big factor for us.
GRANT: Like most farms in southern Missouri, this farm had been used to graze cattle in the past. So, it was covered with fescue, locust trees and even a lot of red cedar.
GRANT: It’s still not good food and, and when they’re eating this, it tells me you’re behind in the food game – especially in July.
GRANT: Bill and Maggie had already spent some time getting rid of locust trees and cedars. But they had some work to do in their open land.
BILL: Some of ‘em are doing all right.
GRANT: Well, your beans are here but you’ve got to spray it again.
BILL: Right. (Inaudible) Should I spray it post-haste?
GRANT: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
BILL: Now, we were having trouble seeing where we’d sprayed.
GRANT: Just, you, you’re gonna see your tracks clearly in this amount of weeds. And, and you’ll learn real quick, that, you know, my tracks are here, I need to be over x feet. I-If you find a dye that works, please let me know. The only thing that I know that works – no professional farmer – no one uses dye – they do make a foamer unit…
BILL: Foam. Yeah.
GRANT: …that comes – and those work well if you get the foam mixture right, you can tell. But it’s an added expense and everything that breaks and all that. I just look at my tracks. I don’t see any problem. I would hit this with two quarts of Roundup per acre.
GRANT: It became obvious that they could separate their land from adjoining farms by having the best food in the neighborhood for deer and other forms of wildlife.
GRANT: You need food. There’s cover everywhere. There’s unmowed pastures and unkept wood lots and you know, you can’t out compete ‘em on cover. But you can win the food war. And you can have deer eating here every single day if you don’t over pressure it. Beans feed the deer world. Corn attracts the deer world. 90% of what your deer are eating here are fescue pasture and they don’t eat fescue at all, so we’re eating the weeds in the fescue. That’s why they’re nipping the top out of all this ragweed in here. If you would spend the resources to get me – I’m gonna say – 10 to 20 acres of beans out here, you’re going to see a minimum of 10% antler increase next year. Because your deer don’t have anything to eat except what standard Ozarks deer eat right now. And, if you plant beans, they not gonna be in your neighborhood. They’re gonna be here in the summer.
GRANT: By eradicating some of the fescue out of their old pastures and planting more desirable forage for deer and other forms of wildlife, they can hold more deer, grow bigger deer, and have an attraction to make sure the deer spend more time on their land than neighboring properties.
GRANT: Once we’ve finished the tour, I’m very confident the plan we shared with Bill and Maggie will help them see more critters and put more tasty venison in their freezer.
GRANT: Back at The Proving Grounds, we’re, unfortunately, on the bit of an unpleasant streak. This is a little bit too common this summer with another dead deer found at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: Just like two weeks ago, this carcass is too far gone and totally consumed. There’s no way for me to come up with a positive cause of death. I did notice a clear drag trail about 30 yards down the hill where scavengers or predators had moved it uphill. Now this is a two year old buck, so it takes a little bit of effort to move it uphill.
GRANT: Like the doe we found recently, you can see an injury on the foot of this buck. Obviously, it’s swollen at least twice the size of normal and appears to have had a bad infection in it. Whether that was caused by snake bite or a spider bite or simply a break due to running in these Ozark Mountains that are just full with fist size and larger rocks all over the place, we’ll probably never know.
GRANT: Several years ago, I harvested a large seven-point in a food plot that had the same foot injury. And then a couple years later, I harvested a buck we called Clean 12 and again, had the same foot injury.
GRANT: The only data we can collect off this deer that’s really of interest to me at this stage is confirming his age. Simply gonna slice back here and expose all the teeth on the lower jaw. The front three teeth are what we call pre-molars and if the third one back has three cusps, or three humps on it, we know it’s a year and a half or less. If there’s only two cusps, or two humps, two years old or older. Right here is the third tooth back – clearly only has two cusps – two years old and older. And the second thing is if these teeth had just been replaced, maybe even (inaudible) 20 months, 21 months, they’d be very white. They wouldn’t have this stain build up on it – the tarter build up on it. This deer is clearly stained. You can see his back ones are stained more because they’re actually older than his front teeth which have just been in – I’m gonna say a year or so. So, looking at this, this buck was clearly a two year old – would be a two and a half year old buck come hunting season this fall.
GRANT: A couple of dead deer aren’t gonna change the herd dynamics at most farms. But it is important to spend some time outside and see what’s going on and make sure that predator/prey balance isn’t out of whack.
GRANT: I hope you have a chance to get outside this week where you hunt and do some scouting and check out your habitat, but most importantly, find a place that’s got a pretty view, sit down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.
UNKNOWN: (Singing) Had me a woman. She couldn’t be true. She made me for my money and she made me blue. A man needs a woman that he can lean on, but my leaning post has done left and gone. A lonesome blue. (Clapping)