This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: We had the Winchesters out this week trying to take care of some food plot robbers. While we were out, we saw some great velvet antlers.
GRANT: June 9th was my 24th kidney transplant anniversary. Twenty-four years ago my sister gave me a kidney. That’s why I’m alive and able to work in the field today. I hope you take time to consider being an organ donor and realize you could help someone like me enjoy Creation for decades to come.
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GRANT: Since we planted the Eagle Seed forage soybeans, we’ve had fairly timely rains. The soybeans are growing well. And everyone knows there is a lot of critters that like young, tender soybeans.
GRANT: We plant our food plots primarily for turkey and deer. There’s always some critters that want to take more than their fair share. Groundhogs can cause serious damage to young soybeans. They tend to eat the young bean right down to the dirt level. The sign’s easy to recognize. They tend to live in cover on the edge of the field and they want to stay as close to their den as they can. So, when they come out to forage, they keep making a half circle, not going any further than they have to from their den. You can almost watch that half circle get larger each day.
GRANT: Researchers have determined that each groundhog hole requires about seven hundred pounds of dirt to be removed. Think about driving through a food plot and hitting such a hole with your tractor. Multiply seven hundred pounds by several holes around a single field and you can see that groundhogs can quickly become a serious issue.
GRANT: A lot of people don’t realize that groundhogs can climb. But they can certainly climb trees with no problem and they use that as a predator defense mechanism to get away from coyotes and other predators.
GRANT: Whew! Groundhogs have consumed these beans to almost ground level. Groundhogs – especially in food plots sized fields – usually a couple of acres or less – tend to make their holes or dens right at the edge of the cover; stand in the cover, look for predators and when they feel it’s safe, come on out and start foraging. They don’t want to get any further from security of their den than they have to. So almost always make a perfect semi-circle on the edge of the field and you can watch that semi-circle get larger and larger by the day.
GRANT: So, yesterday afternoon, I set up a lawn chair about 150 yards away and waited with the rifle. And wouldn’t you know it, I caught that groundhog in the act of eating soybeans.
GRANT: We talk frequently about how browse tolerant Eagle Seed forage soybeans are. And that means, when they’ve been bit off they continue to grow. Being bit this close to the ground would kill most varieties of soybeans. But, we’ll keep an eye on this spot and I’m willing to bet that in a week or two, these beans will come close to catching up to the beans at the edge of this circle.
GRANT: Left unchecked, groundhogs can literally remove all the forage off acres of food plots. So, get your deer rifle out, do a little practice during the summer – watch for bucks at the same time and take care of these greedy little critters that want more than their share.
GRANT: Groundhog females average two to nine pups each spring. So, it’s easy to see, if you let a groundhog population go too many years unchecked, the population can literally become out of control.
GRANT: Our favorite method to control groundhogs is grab our Winchester, a good book, and climb in a comfortable Redneck overlooking one of our soybean fields.
GRANT: If groundhog movement tends to be slow that day, we’re always entertained watching for other critters. It’s a great time of year to see velvet antlers.
GRANT: Fortunately for Matt and I, we were able to watch a nice group of bucks enter a food plot and dine on some Eagle Seed beans before dark.
GRANT: (Whispering) It’s got about an inch long kicker on its left base. Oh, there’s a good one.
GRANT: Despite not seeing any groundhogs, it was a great afternoon to get out and enjoy Creation and especially seeing those velvet bucks.
MATT: (Whispering) Right there – check the profile.
GRANT: (Whispering) The fir- yep. The first deer’s got a pretty straight back. I don’t see any other deer.
MATT: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: Another great exercise this time of year is estimating the age of bucks – practicing for deer season. As each buck entered the plot, Matt and I would share our estimates with how old we thought that buck was.
GRANT: Why don’t you join us and do a little practice? How old do you think this buck is?
GRANT: Why did you make that estimate?
GRANT: Let me share some of the observations I made. For this time of year, this buck’s chest is well developed. It seems it’s full enough to extend all the way down to where his legs meets his shoulders. Might notice that his neck merged with his chest much closer to his brisket than the other bucks in the field. Based on these observations and comparing him to the other bucks in the field, I estimated he was three years old.
GRANT: (Whispering) There’s a fawn, doe and a fawn.
GRANT: (Whispering) I was going to say, must be a jackrabbit.
GRANT: (Whispering) That is a young fawn. Very young fawn.
MATT: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: (Whispering) Take care of her, mama.
GRANT: Couple of weeks ago, we shared our techniques for putting up a Hot Zone electric fence. Not only how to put one up but why we place them where we do. After watching those bucks come out in a large food plot and chow down on soybeans, I was eager to go up to the Hot Zone fences and see if there was any difference yet between the beans on the inside versus the outside where they weren’t protected.
GRANT: The purpose of a Hot Zone fence is to protect the beans on the inside of the fence, allow them to reach their full maturity and make a full load of pods – so we can hunt over ‘em during the late season.
GRANT: Even after years of using a Hot Zone fence and being very familiar with Eagle Seed forage soybeans, I am shocked at the difference between outside the fence – where there’s browse pressure – and inside the fence.
GRANT: If I was to walk up to this plot from the other side, I would think, “Man, it’s been dry” or “There’s not much fertilizer on that plot or something, because the beans aren’t looking that great.” And inside they’re lush, twice as tall, big leaves developing. And you can tell a lot of new growth is occurring.
GRANT: Think of the fence as a large utilization cage. Showing you the potential of the plants inside where deer are not browsing versus outside where they are. Clearly, we need to harvest several does this year at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: In this plot, which is approximately one acre, every bean outside the fence has already been nipped off – every single bean. Now, they’re still growing and producing and feeding the deer herd. But, the chances of them making a lot of pods aren’t looking too good at this stage of the game.
GRANT: As long as they feed the deer all summer long and produce a few pods – we’ll come in about 45 days before the first frost, drill Broadside right in the beans. Then we’ll have beans and greens in the same area – great combination. But inside, these beans look like they’re gonna make a great yield of pods. And come the late season, when the temperatures are cold and deer are craving that high energy soybean pod, this will be a hot spot on this ridge.
GRANT: It’s relatively easy to remove groundhogs and protect some beans but there’s one thing really pestering deer right now that’s a bit of a challenge. Field Staffer Roger Duclos, which has property not that far from The Proving Grounds, shared some incredible but sad videos with us last week.
GRANT: Roger’s trail cameras captured pictures of a doe and a fawn using a food plot at his Proving Grounds. A few hours later, his trail cameras captured this dramatic video. And it’s likely the fawn we saw earlier did not survive.
GRANT: In Missouri, trapping season closes during January. Trapping is the most effective way to remove these predators. In states where trapping is allowed, trapping just before and during fawning and poult season has been shown by researchers to be extremely effective in increasing the survival rate of game species.
GRANT: If you would like updates during the week, check out our Facebook page or the clips tab on the GrowingDeer website. If you want to see all these techniques in person and visit with the entire GrowingDeer Team, come join us for our next Field Day event August 12th & 13th.
GRANT: I hope you have a chance to get outside and enjoy Creation this week. But most importantly, I hope you take time each day to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.