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WOODS: Hey, listen up. I want to go ahead and get started before it gets too cold out there.
WOODS: Hey, it’s Sunday afternoon. August 22nd. Had a great Field Day weekend here at The Proving Grounds. Man, it was just great fun. Went to church this morning. Said “goodbye” to some new and old friends. We had folks come to The Proving Grounds this weekend from 14 different states. About 98/99 folks total. It was hot, but we didn’t let that stop us from having a bunch of fun. Friday afternoon, people started coming in and registering. We got the bows out, did some shooting. Of course that Matthew Z7, slapping them in there. My daughter, Rae with the Genesis, putting it down.
Man, we’re shooting bows, swapping stories and telling each other about the upcoming hunting season. Go that night to a fancy restaurant on top of the tallest hotel in Branson. Had a great meal, gave away some great door prizes and got pumped up for Saturday morning to get out here in the field, because this is my home turf. I’m most comfortable right here.
WOODS: Back out to The Proving Grounds about 7:30. Take that obligatory group picture at such events. And we’re off for the field trip. Now, the first stop is only a couple of hundred yards away from my house, because I want to maximize the habitat at The Proving Grounds.
BRAD: Today, we’re on the first stop of the Field Day. Grant’s over here talking to a large group of people about how deer transfer those nutrients from the plants they are eating in order to grow those large body sizes to produce those fawns and, ultimately prepare for the rut. As we go through today, we’re going to see a lot of different things, not only from forage to cover, but other things we do to help our deer herd be the best that they can be.
WOODS: When you burn trees, it’s not going to burn those saplings down and fall into the ground. It’s just going to get hot enough to kill that, the blood vessels, so to speak, the xylem and phloem…
BRAD: Here’s another stop where Grant is talking about how we improve the native habitat on our property to help supplement the forage and to help to feed the deer, not only by our food plots, but by the amount of forage found in our native habitat. We’ve actually, by burning and cutting timber on this slope, we’ve able, been able to produce over 176 different species of grasses and forbes. Producing a ton of forage; a ton of cover for those deer to bed in and forage as they come down to eat in our food plots.
WOODS: Well, we have planted this little area here four years in a row. And it’s never been above boot tall. Ever. Never. So, this year it’s, you know, out here where the rabbits weren’t wearing us out so bad, it’s way over waist tall on me. I’m a huge believer in Gallagher because what’s going to happen, you see that ground blind right back here behind Mr. Hamby, well, I don’t have a lot of interior fences. But I just made the funnel. The perfect funnel. Where I want, wind direction predictable. My blind’s already up and I either let these go all the way to pod or the first of the season, when the rest of my beans are pretty well ate up, deer walk by this, we get pictures; they know it’s here, it won’t take very many days, because deer are very adept at figuring this out; and they’ll just walk right in there. Man, yeah, I’m all about hunting this place right here. I mean, it’s just a natural fit for me and what I want to do. Because without the fence, I’ve never been able to grow forage here. I’ve never been able to provide this many tons.
WOODS: We don’t like mixing corn and soybeans because corn is always a weed to a soybean. A soybean’s always a weed to corn. And if you’re manage…they grow fine together, but if you’ll manage corn for corn, planted at the earlier dates, that kind of stuff, you get more yield. You plant soybeans at the right time, you get more yield. When you plant them where they both work, something’s yield is getting knocked off.
WOODS: I’m 17 rows, what do you call it, Brad? Nodes? I’m 17 nodes to the top on something that short. There’s no telling how many times this thing’s been bit off, bit off, bit off, bit off, bit off, and still re-growing. Any production, I mean, like I said, I used to publish against people planting soybeans for food plots. Any production bean I’ve ever tried, one or two bites down here, and that baby’s dead. They’re just not bred to take that kind. And a forage bean will handle it. A production bean won’t.
WOODS: The second thing is on lignin, is deer don’t have that particular microbe in their gut that a cow has and allows them to use more lignin content. That’s why, deer are basically non-grass eaters. When wheat or any of the cereal grains; the instant they go out of grass stage into the stem stage, it’s over for a deer. And you’ll never see anything but a starving deer eat that until it gets to the seed stage and they may eat the seed off the top. But they’re not eating those stems, and lignin is just the more woody stuff in the cell wall that makes it stand erect. And that’s why deer aren’t eating any of these hickory sprouts or anything around here, because they’re full of lignin and deer cannot digest lignin. It may go in, but it’s coming out and it’s not staying in the middle.
So, lignin content; a cow can eat fescue. It doesn’t do any good on it, but it can eat it and try to digest it. Deer can’t digest; when you see deer out in the fescue field, during that little bit of clover, the weed or whatever’s growing in there, they’re not eating the fescue.
WOODS: (That’s 10% protein up there and it’s 10% protein down here. What do I want to do that for?) If you’re using standard N, P & K, I’ve done it with the N, P & K, but you better spread it like within 45 minutes because the N, P & K is pretty caustic and it will kill the seed if it is in contact too long. It will literally kill the seed. So, you don’t want to go to MFA or wherever you live. That’s our local ag co-op. Mix up a trailer load of N, P & K and a bunch of wheat and let it set all night and go spread it the next day because you’ll have a reduced germination rate.
MALE 1: So, you’re not spreading any conventional fertilizer anymore.
MALE 1: You’re just doing the Antler Dirt.
MALE 2: You have to spread that every year?
WOODS: I take a soil test and spread accordingly.
WOODS: Boy, after several stops at The Proving Grounds, valleys, ridges, burning, timber management, food plots, water management, hunting set ups, tree stand placement, I’m getting hungry. It’s time to go to lunch. We had 30 feet of sandwiches brought in. 30 feet. But I want to tell you, about 100 guys that have been out talking deer management, can go through 30 feet of sandwiches in a scary fast way. We all had fun, got re-hydrated. It’s time to play some more.
WOODS: Man, Trophy Rock had a giant rock, we’re all trying to guess the weight of it for some door prizes. Muddy had some new models out there. We’re in the yard climbing trees. Kids are having fun. Adults are having fun. Taking turns climbing that.
Atchison drills brought down some models of drills that were new to me. No till drills. Lighter, less moving parts. Might be ideal for some of my clients with smaller properties and a little bit smaller tractors. We’re just checking all the stuff out. It is good fun at The Proving Grounds. Get it done. Shower up, because we’re headed to Bass Pro for a seminar that night.
WOODS: Any particular order. This is “Large Left”. He’s on our hit list. And I’m not gonna spend a lot of time. I’m just gonna give you some fabulous views, thanks to Reconyx. Here’s “Split G2.” Can you imagine why he got that name? Deer in the center on that one. There, he’s obvious.
WOODS: No doubt in my mind that all 90+ folks had great dreams that night because they were tired from being in the field all day. And they go to bed thinking about 20 mature bucks that are there to harvest this fall. What a great time of fellowship we had. You know, on top of that, we had some great prizes. Nikon rangefinders and coon skins trapped at The Proving Grounds, and books. Everyone left smiling. Safe trip home. Breakfast the next morning. You know what I took away from breakfast this morning, right before church? That, just the importance of seeing, touching and feeling; and sharing that information one-on-one out in the field. I hope you get to participate in a similar event. I hope you have a great year and I look forward to keeping you updated about The Proving Grounds.