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GRANT: Recently, my friend, Danny Naugle invited us to join him in one of my favorite summertime activities – frog hunting. Frog season opens at sunset June 30th, here in Missouri, so a few days after that, we were packing up our gear and rolling about an hour west to meet up with Danny.
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GRANT: The first pond we checked out was shaped like a horseshoe and had a lot of vegetation. It looked like good bullfrog habitat.
GRANT: Frog season just opened in Missouri and you can use a lot of weapons, but our weapon of choice, of course, a bow and an arrow. So, we come to the pond; stay back a little before it gets dark; spot the frog; take a shot. After dark, we can get a little closer. Either way, I’m gonna bet by the end of the evening, we’ve got a lot of frog legs for cooking this weekend.
GRANT: Are, are you gonna try for that headshot or are you gonna pull down and shoot the body?
DANNY: I’m gonna try for the headshot.
GRANT: All right. It didn’t take us long to start seeing some targets.
GRANT: I’m not sure either. I don’t see the arrow wiggling.
GRANT: If you haven’t frog hunted with a bow, don’t laugh. Those little rascals can be hard to hit.
GRANT: That’s why I’m waiting for the big one. I’ll let you be the guinea pig on the small ones.
GRANT: Find us a big ’un around here.
GRANT: There’s a lot of things I like about frog hunting. Of course, their legs are great table fare. You can get out with a group and talk and laugh. It’s not like sitting still deer hunting and being quiet for three hours. And, of course, it’s great practice shooting in front of your friends and all that peer pressure.
GRANT: Well, we know that arrow went a long ways. That one cost me two arrows. That’s a $20 frog right there.
GRANT: It’s one thing to shoot by yourself in the yard and think you’re ready for the first shot of deer season. It’s another thing to shoot in front of other folks. It usually makes you slow down, make sure your form’s right and follow through. Just like you need to when that first deer of the season comes by your stand.
DANIEL: Oh, yeah, you nailed him.
UNKNOWN: Drilled him.
DANIEL: Nailed him.
GRANT: This pond appeared to be great frog habitat, but all the vegetation made it tough to find the frogs or recover our arrows.
UNKNOWN: Drilled him.
GRANT: We had permission to hunt another pond close by. So, we packed up and headed that way.
GRANT: This pond had less vegetation and lots of frogs. Raleigh was whacking ‘em.
CLAY: Oh, you nailed that thing.
GRANT: As the sun set and it got difficult to see the frogs and our pins, we grabbed the Motorola flashlights and continued hunting.
GRANT: Take your time; follow through.
GRANT: That nailed him. Good shot.
GRANT: Frog hunting is usually better after dark. When we got the lights and scanned the edge of the pond, we saw a target-rich environment.
UNKNOWN: You smoked that one.
GRANT: My youngest daughter, Rae, was up to bat and if you think hitting a large bullfrog at ten yards is tough, you find out the real trophies are those small ones.
UNKNOWN: Smoked him.
GRANT: Oh, she nailed that one.
GRANT: Rae impressed us all by nailing a couple of small frogs and the fun was on.
GRANT: Rae Woods – that’s a small – if you hit that one, Rae, it’s a trophy.
RAE: They’re so small.
GRANT: That’s good shooting, Rae.
RAE: I don’t think there’s gonna be much meat on those legs.
DANIEL: Having fun?
RAE: Yeah. Lots of fun.
DANIEL: Are those your first frogs?
RAE: These are my first frogs. The smaller one’s the first one. The slightly larger one’s the second.
UNKNOWN: Got him.
UNKNOWN: Smoked him.
UNKNOWN: You definitely…
RAE: It was, like, five feet away. I’ll take it.
GRANT: Raleigh, Rae and I were using the G5 small game head. I used to hunt frogs with field points, but I learned from my mistakes. They’ll zip right through the frogs and you won’t recover a lot of ‘em.
GRANT: This small game head, unlike a broadhead, has points that are curved forward. They’re not overly sharp – not like a razor sharp broadhead. So, they do a great job of thumping the frog. And if you miss or you go through the frog and hit in the mud, those curved forward points keep your arrow from skipping or burying as bad.
DANNY: Rae, are you ready? That one – that big one’s still sitting there.
DANNY: Oh yeah.
UNKNOWN: Oh yeah.
DANNY: You got him.
GRANT: You got him. Go get him.
GRANT: Looked pretty good to me.
DANNY: You got another head shot.
GRANT: Bring it in. Don’t point it down where you (Inaudible).
GRANT: Being able to shine frogs allows us to see a much higher percentage of ‘em and plan our hunt accordingly. It allows us to plan our stalk, if you can envision stalking frogs.
DANNY: Nice shot.
DANIEL: You got him that time.
UNKNOWN: Nice shot.
DANNY: Nailed that one.
GRANT: The limit of frogs in Missouri is eight per hunter per day. And when we got close to our limit, we started moving around ponds and trying some trickier shots. We ended up having a great evening with lots of frog legs that we’ll be cooking soon.
GRANT: We had a blast huntin’ with Danny and can’t wait to go back out with him again and join him in the deer woods this fall.
GRANT: We ae experiencing a wicked drought here at The Proving Grounds. It’s obvious we have way more deer than the amount of food we can produce.
GRANT: In fact, the rainfall amounts are several inches below normal during the past couple of months.
GRANT: We’re in about a two-acre food plot we call Boom North. And we’ve planted this part with an experimental summer blend during June. It was a late planting, you may recall we had some tractor issues and our timing was late. And to compound the problems, we’re in a wicked drought.
GRANT: In this part of Missouri, we’re several inches behind for the months of May, June, and so far in July.
GRANT: To add insult to injury, the few rains that have come through have primarily missed The Proving Grounds. I’ve sat on my deck and watched showers go just south of the property.
GRANT: As a result of those conditions and having too many deer for those conditions, we can see most of the good stuff has been browsed and we’re left with some weeds coming on.
GRANT: Generally speaking, I always advise folks to manage deer densities to make sure there’s plenty of food during the two most common stress periods – late summer and late winter.
GRANT: On the bigger scale, it’s important managers and hunters work to keep populations down where they’ll remain healthy when those big stress periods come – droughts, tough winters, whatever occurs in your region.
GRANT: During 2012, there was a big outbreak of EHD – epizootic hemorrhagic disease – here at The Proving Grounds and throughout much of the whitetails’ range.
GRANT: Based on trail camera surveys, and our observations, and the amount of skulls we found that winter while shed hunting, we estimate about a third of our deer population was killed by that outbreak of EHD.
GRANT: EHD has been known for over five decades and every time, deer herds rebound. EHD does not have the long-term potential impacts of CWD and the two should not be confused.
GRANT: We wisely chose to back off the doe harvest after that outbreak of EHD.
GRANT: In response to our habitat improvement projects and always working to balance the number of predator and prey species, our deer herd grew rapidly after that 2012 outbreak.
GRANT: Yes, it knocked our deer herd way down. But it’s obviously come back. We have more acres of food plots now than we had then and we have way too many deer for the current growing conditions.
GRANT: I can’t make it rain. But I can reduce the number of deer.
GRANT: Last year, we had a goal of taking about two does per 100 acres. Clearly, it wasn’t enough.
GRANT: So, this year, we’ve got to get some more arrows; get some more bullets because we’re gonna be trying to take three does per every 100 acres of The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: That’s a tough job because we’ve put a lot of hunting pressure on The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: Their first few – well, they come easy. But I’ve got to tell you. By mid-season and later, it’s tough to find a doe on this property.
GRANT: The does are still here – obviously looking at the browse pressure. But they get educated and become nocturnal.
GRANT: We thought attempting to harvest two does per 100 acres was a big challenge. And we worked a lot of hours to make that happen.
GRANT: You call it hunting; we call it work when you’re trying to harvest that many does.
GRANT: Upping the management goal to three does per 100 acres means we have to be even better hunters than we were last year.
GRANT: We’re gonna be shifting some blinds and stands; hunting some new areas; and sharing techniques as we work hard to meet this objective.
GRANT: When looking at the whitetail harvest data compiled by the QDMA – the Quality Deer Management Association – nationwide – we know that doe harvest has been dropping nationwide. And that’s a bad sign for the health of our deer herd.
GRANT: We have plenty of deer, but we need to get back to harvest some does after that tough EHD outbreak in 2012.
GRANT: One of the tools we’ll be using to meet our harvest objective, and a really great illustration of the conditions here at The Proving Grounds, and the success of the Buffalo System, is just up the hill.
GRANT: I walked up the hill about ten yards where we have a Hot Zone electric fence.
GRANT: We planted this entire two-acre plot at the same time with Eagle Seed forage soybeans. Again, the entire plot was planted at one time; same tractor driver; same seed. Everything the same, except inside the fence, the deer haven’t had access to. And outside – well, they wiped out all the beans.
GRANT: There are many, many lessons here. Look how dark and lush these beans look in a drought. And that’s on top of no fertilizer in five plus years.
GRANT: This is the result of the four primary principles of soil health – minimum disturbance (we never till); a living root in the soil as many months out of the year as possible; a diversity of crops (at least during the portion of the year – beans are my cash crop, if you will, during the summer – and I’ve got a big diversity in the fall); and I always want that mulch on top of the soil.
GRANT: I’ve been doing this for many, many decades and I am shocked at how good these beans look.
GRANT: Look at the size of this leaf, compared to the size of my hand.
GRANT: If you’re not planting Eagle Seed forage soybeans, compare that to the leaves of the beans you’re planting.
GRANT: Remember, this is in a wicked drought. When I look through here, there’s not one weed coming up. And we haven’t used any herbicide on this plot this year.
GRANT: That’s a result of the Buffalo System. We planted into standing vegetation and then put the Goliath crimper on top of it giving us that mat which is slow release fertilizer, protecting moisture and suppressing weeds.
GRANT: As far as our harvest strategy, you can bet – looking at the rest of this plot – if we let this fence down and there’s not a bunch of acorns on the ground, deer are gonna pour into this plot. And there will be a lot of arrows flying here.
GRANT: What’s amazing about this – it doesn’t matter if you’ve got three acres or 300 acres. You can use this technique.
GRANT: Our hunting strategy is gonna be – watch the acorns. If a lot of acorns are coming on early, we’ll probably leave the fence up and save this for a late season hunting location.
GRANT: If we do that, once the beans start ripening and a little sun is making it to the soil, we’ll broadcast Eagle’s fall buffalo blend right into this. Let it grow up so we’ve got greens growing in the grain – the soybean pods – and have a double attraction for late season deer hunting.
GRANT: If our scouting during August and early September shows there’s not a lot of acorns coming on, we may go ahead and take the fence down early, or at least open up one side, and probably be able to tag several does right off the bat.
GRANT: Our hunting strategy for this plot – simple. I’ve told you the timing. And if you look over my shoulder, you’ll see the legs of a Summit Ladder Stand.
GRANT: On the top of the plot is a Redneck Blind. So, we can hunt it in almost any wind direction.
GRANT: That’s why we’ve got a ladder stand here and a blind there. No matter what the wind direction is, when the fence comes down, we need to be ready to hunt.
GRANT: I suspect you’ll be seeing this plot from an elevated position here in a couple of months.
GRANT: Now, you can watch GrowingDeer on whatever device you want and whenever you want. I checked this out and it looked wonderful on the big screen TV.
GRANT: Be sure to take time each week and enjoy Creation, but most importantly, find a quiet time every day to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.