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WOODS: Good morning. It’s June 18th, almost 6:00 a.m. Of course, we’re close to the longest day of the year, which once we pass that, everybody’s thinking about deer season. But you’ve got to remember, if you think about deer season as a deer manager, we’re thinking about it all year long. Because what we’re doing now produces those antlers for this fall. And you may remember, last week, we showed this exact clover field and Brad had just mowed it and we got some rain. We talked about the percent bloom and what-not. What I wasn’t counting on was another pretty good rain and just a tremendous rebound of these broadleaf weeds. We’ve got polk berry, which is pretty good deer food and we like to eat polk salad at the Woods house, but ragweed and courlis and Queen Anne’s Lace and I see some other nasties around here. Mowing, all it does is take the top out of weeds. Because you’ve still got a big root system feeding it nutrients and water. Especially, when there’s plenty of soil moisture and what-not, so although mowing may stress the plant by removing where it’s doing photosynthesis, it often doesn’t kill the plants. And that’s why I like to use herbicide. Herbicide goes in, kills the plant, kills the root system also and you’re done for several months or at least a growing season, so if you’re a food plot manager, check out the safe use of herbicides. It’s usually more environmentally friendly and gives you more time so we can get on with our day doing other tasks.
WOODS: Brad and I are on our way to our next task point this morning. And we come by this food plot. Now this is just to me, this is beautiful. It’s stunning. Now, it’s a little deceptional because we’ve got a food plot right across the road and one on the ridge. There’s a lot of volume in this area and the deer aren’t impacting it as much as maybe smaller soybean areas, but the size of these leaves. I mean, look at this! Here’s my hand. Look at the size of that leaf. That is a huge amount of super, high quality forage. And, of course, that’s a result of the owners of Eagle Seed beans. Their family spending literally 40 years selecting for the traits they want. Great quantity of quality forage and bean production also. I mean, if you had, you know black labs and you spent 40 years breeding the best to the best to the best to the best for the traits you wanted, you’d have great dogs. Well, they’ve done that same thing. They’ve hand selected, breeded, really, hand pollinated to get this, which is for deer forage is a deer manager’s dream. And then, I pull up the plant and it’s just covered with nodules. Of course, this is a nitrogen fixation going on, so we know this is super rich. Nitrogen – 6.23 – becomes protein. I won’t bore you with the science. Also, putting excess nitrogen in soil. So, I am thrilled with this crop to date of Eagle Seed beans. This happens to be the Big Fellow variety. All the varieties I’ve got planted here. I’ve got three here at, at The Proving Grounds this year and they’re all doing great.
WOODS: What a difference a little distance and lack of local food plot acres make. This is planted almost the same day as where we were earlier, but you can tell, there’s a lot of browse pressure here. Just all over. The tops of plants are being nipped out. You know, the tallest stuff will get nipped off. You can tell where this was taller. That will get a break. They’ll come nip this, this grows back and you can see a brand new leaflet coming out here. This field looks more ragged. And what’s going on here, is we probably have about the same deer density as we had where we were filming earlier this morning, but a lot fewer acres of food plots at this location. It’s steep; it’s rugged. You just can’t get them in here, so this is a great time to discover that; mid-June, so we can plan ahead. We have three options. We can remove the number of mouths competing for this resource. We need to do that through doe harvest. Buck harvest is not impacting the reproductive potential of that herd. Get that Z-7 out, start whacking some does this year. We can make this field more productive by trying to plant at a higher seed density next year, knowing we have more browse pressure. We can add fertilizer to compensate and get more rapid growth, or we can do all of them in combination. We’re probably going to take the combination. I’m sure we’ll be removing more does on this end of the property this year as an objective, anyway. We’re going to plant at a higher seed density next year in these areas that are getting overly browsed. And certainly, we’ll make sure our soil is at optimum growth by doing our soil analysis at Water’s Lab and, and we’re going to make sure we’ve got everything up to the good level. So, we know we’re gonna have some tree stands around here this coming year. We’re gonna work on getting more leaves and less this in middle June next year.
WOODS: We’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of energy working on cultivated crops here. Clover, soybeans, corn, what have you. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not always working on native vegetation too. You’ve seen us do prescribed fire and get herbaceous plants growing and thin trees and open up a canopy. We need to talk about soft mass also. June, July, August are huge months for soft mass. Soft mass just means, you know, what it says. Something soft. And produces mass like blackberries. Of course, now, and then we’re gonna have other fruits come on. We’re gonna go through other stages. We’re going to get persimmons and pears and plums will be earlier than that. Wild cherry tends to make the fruit late summer. Which is very important fruit, but it’s hardly talked about because it, in this latitude, it’s usually consumed before deer season, but all these soft mass species are usually really high in energy. High in sugar. Readily consumed by wildlife. And an important part of the overall food plan. I really count all my native vegetation being a buffer in case I have a low production year or something on my cultivated vegetation. Remember, most people got, you know, one to five, maybe ten percent of cultivated crops and ninety percent timber land. Do not ignore native vegetation. You can bet I don’t.
WOODS: Blake, the beans are so tall, I’m underneath them! Help! Help!