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WOODS: Today is December 7th and it’s been cooler than normal for about a week here at The Proving Grounds and that’s been true across much of, at least, the eastern part of the whitetail’s range. This morning it was 15 degrees in Charlotte, North Carolina where my father-in-law lives and that’s a real shocker down there for this time of December, so no doubt in my mind deer are starting to move to concentrated food sources like food plots throughout most of the whitetail’s range and that’s especially true here at The Proving Grounds. Acorns are disappearing. That is a huge crop this year, but they’re just about consumed and turkey and deer and other critters are going to those concentrated planted food plots that makes attracting deer and patterning deer much easier for hunters.
WOODS: Adam and Brad were able to slip into one of our food plots last Tuesday afternoon and really confirmed that deer were starting to use food plots as a primary forage as they watched twelve does and fawns poor into Big Boom Field and chow down on those Eagle Seed Bean soybeans, so. A lot of people, I think are confused about soybeans. They think they’re only a summer time foraging to eat in the green foliage. But those bean pods produced by the beans are outstanding attraction during the winter as Adam and Brad observed during that hunt.
ADAM: (Whispering) We’ve actually got nine deer in the bean total right now. Four come up to our left. We’ve had five come up back behind us from the bottom. And they are absolutely mowing down the Eagle Seed beans right now. The ears, when they lift their heads up. They are feeding really hard tonight. It’s cold, cold, cold, cold. Another deer right here. Another deer right there, Brad. Where’d she come from?
BRAD: I don’t know.
WOODS: (Whispering) It’s Saturday morning, December 4th. Very windy morning. It’s not all that cold, low 40’s, but very windy. Supposed to be gusting up to 25 plus, so we selected a bottom stand. We actually hunted here last Saturday. We usually don’t repeat all that quick.
WOODS: Coyote coming up the (inaudible). Tell me if you’re on him.
ADAM: (Whispering) I’m on him. I’m rollin’. Here he comes.
WOODS: (Whispering) Y’all know I don’t like coyotes. So, this morning it’s Grant: 1, coyotes: 0. That’s a fawn eatin’, big buck chasin’, hunt blowin’, dead coyote. I just about soon shoot a coyote as a Boone and Crockett buck almost, ‘cause they’ve blown so many hunts. And there’s so much research out there, now, just coming out. Because biologists would ignore it for years. How detrimental coyotes are to big game populations. So, some people might say, “Hey you might ruin your deer hunt.” But I look at it as I just saved several future deer hunts. No doubt in my mind that coyote would have consumed several fawns and it’s the last time. And blown a couple of hunts for me. So, I don’t think, as long as it’s legal, I don’t miss an opportunity to let the ‘7 eat a coyote before the coyote eats a fawn.
WOODS: Now, not only do I harvest coyotes to protect my deer herd and turkey poults again, not only for mortality but from harassment in interrupting my hunts. Hunting days are precious to me, but my family and I really enjoy the pelts out of coyotes. We enjoy them around the house. We like to have them tanned and out and give away as gifts, so. And it’s not wasted. I love interacting with coyotes. Their howls. Their, their vocalizations. I don’t like them harassing, though, other game animals on my property. So, whenever I have a chance to harvest a coyote, I’m going to take that chance. This is a point when you need to think about your hunting. Are you so worried that you might interrupt your hunt that you pass on coyotes? Are you really considering future hunts? Is that coyote gonna bust a deer before it gets to your stand in the future? How many fawns is it going to eat next spring that you’ll never have the opportunity to see as a four and a half year old buck? How many turkey nests is it gonna bust up? I strongly suggest the next time you see a coyote and it’s legal and you have a weapon, you go ahead and make a nice coyote pelt.
WOODS: A successful hunt, I consider harvesting a coyote a successful hunt, under our belt. We go have a little lunch; warm up, because the wind’s been hammering us all morning long. And we’re back out to a ground blind that we had positioned, literally, way over a month ago next to a Gallagher fence. Now we use this Gallagher food plot protection fence to protect soybeans in a really small, less than an acre, area of a food plot and we wanted it to grow big, so we’d have forage in that part of the farm for some late season hunting. And so we’ve protected it and, obviously, it worked great. The beans are five, six feet tall. Full of pods, just tremendous. Outside the fence, they’re less than knee high and all the pods are gone already, so the plan worked perfect. Part B of the plan was to open a gate. We have a gate to drive the tractor in and spray or do maintenance or whatever. Brad opened that gate awhile back to give the deer some time to learn that that gate is open and they have a safe entrance into that field, just like a fence gap. We’ve all hunted fence gaps we’ve found around a farm somewhere.
WOODS: We’ve had a Reconyx shooting right down the line of that fence to make sure the deer weren’t violating that fence all summer long. So, when we open the gap, the Reconyx is still there and we started getting pictures of does and fawns and immature bucks going in that gap. Man, the plan’s working great. But, there’s one buck that’s got a little more interest. Now, I don’t believe he’s a shooter buck. I don’t think he’s on our Hit List, but he’s sure enough a nice deer and he’s got a pretty good pattern going right in and out of the gate. Now, isn’t that what we all dream of. A, a, pretty good buck, that’s patternable, that you know within ten or fifteen yards where he’s walking several days a week. That’s a fantasy for most hunters. And I’ve found that if you’ll protect some high quality forage, using that Gallagher fence system, you, too, on any size land, can create that pattern.
WOODS: And just as the sun is setting and getting pretty hazy outside, we hear that click, click, coming down the mountain, clearly a single deer, sounds like a buck, coming down the mountain. Gets right over here; ten yards to my side. Easy shot and as the buck pulls out, I recognize it’s a two or three year old buck; certainly not a four and a half year old, not on our Hit List and it was just a great experience to watch this deer. He trolls up to the gate. I wasn’t sure if he was going in or not. Turns and clearly goes right in the gate and we can clearly hear him crunching on those soybean pods. Man, he’s a great deer. Survives another year or two, he’s going to be a true Proving Grounds monster. What a great afternoon. Now, that deer is patterned. We just set there until after dark, let him get to the other end of the field, let him go do his thing. We slide out the back side and if that deer is still on that same pattern on those soybeans, come the late youth season or muzzleloader season for my 80 year old father, you can bet I’ll give them the green light. Man, we all dream of patterning bucks like that for us or one of our guests to share in that experience. And that situation is working out perfect here at The Proving Grounds.
WOODS: I really hope you have some great encounters this week; you get to get out and enjoy creation. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.