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WOODS: A couple days ago on March 13th, we had our first big shed hunt here at The Proving Grounds. People ask me, “Grant, why do you invite a bunch of people in and disturb all your deer?” But, one day a year, we have a bunch of buddies come in from all over, kinda organize them, tell them the marching plans. We go out and walk all day looking for sheds. It takes a lot of people to cover these big cover blocks and feeding areas and whatnot, but a big bonus of that is the fellowship and the relationships and finding other stuff besides sheds. Maybe where deer have died or find new trails or other habitat or maybe places we can make another food plot.
WOODS: (To participants) I sure appreciate everyone coming today. We’ll schedule this for June next year, it’ll be a little warmer, maybe. But, uh, real simple plans for today. Uh, just, be safe. It’s gonna be slick and our land is extremely rough. Be careful out there. We’re gonna have a banquet tonight and everyone’s welcome. Give away prize, nice prizes for the biggest shed found to encourage everyone and the most sheds found and the smallest shed found. Keep everyone honest and looking hard.
Dr. Fry: I guess we’re looking for sheds, but, uh, we found some remains of a deer, like a jaw. All right, not technically a shed, but what can you tell me about this.
WOODS: Yeah, that’s evidence, isn’t it?
Dr. Fry: Yes, it is.
WOODS: Clearly, a two and a half year-old deer. Deer have six teeth and if the third tooth back has two cusps, it’s at least two and a half.
Dr. Fry: All right.
WOODS: And then we go to the fourth tooth back and if it’s real sharp and the dentyne, the center brown part is narrower than the white part, the enamel, it’s two and a half.
WOODS: All right. Hold that dude up. Man, that’s a good one. Show us what you got man.
RICKY MINTON: There you go.
WOODS: Man, look at that.
RICKY MINTON: Good one.
WOODS: That is a good one.
RICKY MINTON: Can you tell the age of that by that one?
WOODS: No, can’t age it. But, uh, it’s a good one. We have picture of it. Brad knows it. Where’s Brad?
BRAD MORMAN: Last year.
WOODS: Last year? Did we call it three and a half, Brad? That is absolutely a, for the Ozarks, that is a huge deer. Especially for a younger deer.
WOODS: (To participants) All right. Just briefly, because we’re gonna go on another big walk here. Burning daylight. But, when Tracy and I bought this place, you couldn’t see from the road to me. This was all locusts, just thick, thick locusts. And we dozed it out and then from then on, all we’ve done is, is spread Antler Dirt or compost and humidified litter and spray Roundup and no till drill in the beans and we rotate beans and corn. So, that’s literally, all we do is just, Brad will come in and spray here pretty soon. Kill the little winter weeds coming up henbit and what not. Galen will fertilize based on our soil tests, using the Antler Dirt. We come in and no till drill. That’s our program. That’s all we do.
WOODS: Goodness, Sam, give it to me right here, brother. All right. Man, Sammy. Now you just stand close to me from now on, okay? You just hang with me. I’ll split this with you later, okay.
WOODS: And then, Eagle Seed beans, Brad. Where are you? We have deer using our bean fields in the bow season ‘til it frosts because they’re still green and growing. Actively growing. Flowering, new leaves coming off. Brad has just spent, his father-in-law spent, I don’t know, how long, Brad? Decade, two decades.
DOYLE: Uh, yeah, it takes at least seven years to, to develop a variety, but.
WOODS: Breeding and cross breeding selecting for forage qualities and you get the grain production too.
WOODS: My testimony’s clear because you saw them unloading beans this morning. That’s what I’m planting on my place and just real candidly, and I do not mean this wrong, but every seed company in America will give me seed to plant because we video here and do stuff. And my testimony is I’m planting Eagle Seed beans. Every mineral company all across America will provide me mineral for free. I don’t mean that wrong. Just because of Brad publishing all the articles and stuff and we’re using Trophy Rock for a reason. It’s all natural; doesn’t have that stuff that makes it stick together. It’s literally an ancient sea bed deposit with 51 different minerals in there that are natural. Not synthesized or artificially made and you’ll see Trophy Rocks all throughout our property and you see the deer – I saw it walking by one on the first shed walk, there’s fresh prints around it this time of year. Most of the time deer don’t use mineral this time of year, so that was a big testimony I just saw today.
H. MARTIN: Future trophy right there. Tomorrow’s trophies today.
WOODS: Has anyone else found two? Heath’s in the lead for the most, so far.
H. MARTIN: I don’t know about the biggest, but maybe the most.
WOODS: What you got?
DOYLE: Well, it looks healthy. I got a, uh, buck and a doe skull. The buck, I’m assuming had already dropped his, his horns because I couldn’t find them anywhere near it. Uh, also found a half of an eight-point and what I’m, what I’m calling a coyote skull.
DOYLE: Would you say that he dropped his horns prior to…
WOODS: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. He shed and then died. And you found this one?
WOODS: Found that.
WOODS: Man! You’re doing good
WOODS: Man, we had a great shed hunt at The Proving Grounds, but some people confuse shed hunting at The Proving Grounds here in Missouri like shed hunting in western Kansas or Canada where you walk out to a hundred acre wheat field and take your binoculars and scan the whole thing…oops, no antlers. Go to the next one. Here at The Proving Grounds, you work to find a little bone. We’ve created ideal wildlife habitat, so it’s thick. It’s covered. It’s bushy. There’s briars. We had about 50 people show up about 8:30, 9:00 a.m. We’re out walking after a little safety talk and everybody meeting and greeting. Rain and misty. Cold all day long. I was so proud of the troops for hanging in there. We found about 11 sheds. Some nice sheds.
You know, when you find a nice 140-inch plus deer, you know he made it through the winter, next year is just so exciting. I’m gonna think about practicing my bow and getting pumped up. “Where am I gonna put my trees stands. Where did I find these sheds? I didn’t know that buck was bedding there.” That information just all brings it together.
But there’s some other important lessons. We found three carcasses of bucks that didn’t make it through the harsh winter we had. Now, there was no sign of poaching. It could have been poached, but I doubt it. Some of them have shed naturally, so they certainly weren’t shot for antlers. They just didn’t make it through the winter. Death is part of life out here in nature. Critters die. And that’s important. Now some deer are gonna die of natural causes. Just like humans. We don’t all get killed in a car wreck. If you want to shoot mature deer, you have to have mature deer. And to have mature deer, you cannot shoot young deer. Dead deer don’t grow. That lesson was so obvious during this shed hunt, 2010 at The Proving Grounds. It was just a great day. Great fellowship with people from Georgia and Ohio and Arkansas and, of course, Missouri. We’re already looking forward to the 2011 shed hunt here at The Proving Grounds.
I’m gonna take a minute and see if I can’t find just one more shed here.