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LINDSEY: It’s, is it automatic so I don’t have to load it again?
HEATH: No, do it again.
HEATH: Well, it’s February the 22nd and we’re down in South Arkansas. We’re going to do a hog hunt. We got a farmer that we know that’s been gracious enough to let us come out on his property. He’s got a bad hog problem. He, he farms crops commercially for a living and has lots of hog damage every year. They kill a lot of hogs on this farm and he’s got a big 1500 acre block back in here at least. I’m just guessing. It’s been rode back in the CRP and hardwood bottom land and it’s just covered up with hogs and we’re gonna try out some of these new Razorback XT bullets that we got for our .223 from Winchester and, uh, see what happens.
HEATH: Instead of hog killers, we have become bird watchers today. There’ve been no hogs show. Evidently, they have not read the script.
HEATH: Behind the trees. You can’t see it, though, but if it walks out, we’re gonna kill it. It’s in the green. It’s the first corn pile. It’s fixin’ to come out right there. Are you on it? Are you on it?
LINDSEY: I’m on it.
HEATH: (Shot) Did you get it? That’s a big daggone bobcat right there. We were setting here watching six deer, four here; two over here. I noticed these two deer that were left standing down here kept watching something. Couldn’t figure out what it was. And I was like, “surely, them deer hadn’t seen us in this box stand.” Because we wasn’t moving, but they was looking right at us. One of them about halfway down there behind some bushes and I looked through my binoculars and there was this giant bobcat just setting there watching ‘em. So, obviously, you can see we were scurrying. We had to hurry up and get everything set up. So, anyway, I think them Razorback XT’s work just fine on furbearers too because he didn’t go anywhere.
HEATH: (Whispering) Oh, yeah, right there. Big cat down. Golly, what a toad of a cat. Look at that joker. Golly, what a giant. Furbearer season’s still in ‘til the end of February here in Arkansas. February 28th. So, when this big cat come out, I did not take a second thought about shooting it. Anyway, pumped, pumped. What a fun hunt. What a beautiful day. We’ve seen everything but hogs. Deer, birds, bobcat. Everything. Just no hogs.
GRANT: End of February, big cold front moving across much of the whitetails’ range and it’s stress time for whitetails. Stress this time of year basically comes from lack of food, deer, you know, are homeotherms or must create their heat or energy from within and they do that by digesting food. So without quality food, they can’t generate enough heat and are gonna lose a lot of calories or possibly die.
GRANT: And just like money doesn’t grow on trees, food rarely falls from the air in the whitetails’ world. So, we’re gonna walk out here in a food plot that we planted last year and learn some lessons so we can be prepared next year when winter stress season sets in.
GRANT: This is a food plot we had planted in soybeans and it was a wicked drought year. This is a west facing slope, so I’m not expecting as much production here as I would in a normal growing season. I literally get hundreds of questions via email or Facebook of what I plant. The answer is: I plant a lot of different stuff. I’m always experimenting and this is a perfect example of where Adam and I experimented and we planted regular crop soybeans or production soybeans, half of the drill and side by said, Eagle Seed forage soybeans, so you can see the height difference here compared to here. Even in a drought year, about mid-thigh tall on me and same rain, same soil, obviously, knee high at best. Big difference in height of the plant. But there’s some more differences that are even more important. The Eagle Seed forage soybean was extremely productive even in a drought year. Now, last summer – 2012 – was one of the driest summers ever recorded here in Stone and Taney County in 118 years of record keeping. Drier than the dust bowl. And still just tremendous production, even on this west facing or full sunshine slope. Not only did the deer consume the forage throughout the growing season, but now, you can see that they’re consuming the pods while obviously there’s nothing green around. And as we showed you recently, in an analysis of these same variety of forage soybeans from Kentucky Proving Grounds, these pods are extremely high in both protein and fat. So, lots of energy for the winter.
GRANT: It’s important to understand that deer can go through most of winter without eating a lot because they’ve stored fat all through the growing season for that purpose. That’s how the Creator made them. But they don’t express to most of their potential. Those deer build up through the summer and then drop way down in body weight through the winter and they’re using their reserves trying to build back up before they can grow antlers or have fawns. For a deer to express the maximum potential, you want them growing all summer and at worst, leveling off through the winter and then taking off and growing again. Not regaining ground. Quality forage and seed throughout the winter allow deer to do that.
GRANT: Just a few feet away from the Eagle Seed forage soybeans, we planted just a standard variety of production beans like would be throughout the Midwest in crop fields. These beans are designed to ripen much earlier than a forage soybean and they don’t hold their pods very long. So when I look here and I look close, all of these shells or hulls have shattered. The pods went to the ground. I can see a few, but most of ‘em have already rotted or decomposed. Even worse, is where AJ and I were just working up near Princeton, Illinois, and they had planted production beans everywhere, then, chisel plowed that after the harvest to incorporate these into the soil to add organic matter, and there was literally nothing to eat for miles and miles for a white-tailed deer.
GRANT: Just like most things in life, the real test is during the stress period – not the sunny, easy days. And antlers next year are greatly influenced by the stress period we’re experiencing throughout much of the whitetails’ range right now.
GRANT: Just once again in review, there’s a huge difference in the quality of deer, let’s say out in woodland areas where there’s nothing to eat right now. They’ll build up through the summer in the growing season and fall way back down in body condition right before fawning and antler development and have to regain that skeletal structure, the mineralization of their bones and literally the muscle mass and the body fat before they can produce antlers or fawns versus deer in ag areas with the appropriate crops or on well managed land where they grow through the growing season and level off or plateau during the winter stress period and then take off from that mark and achieve even greater results.
GRANT: Heading back into my warm office now is a great reminder of the blessings the Creator has given me and a good opportunity for me to slow down and thank Him. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.
HEATH: Uh, on a hog hunt, we’ve been uh, cut, take two, four, wow.
LINDSEY: That’s take three.
HEATH: Take three. Take four, I’m gonna get it this time. (Laughter)