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GRANT: During a recent turkey hunt, Clay and I sat up on a ridge we call 50 Acre. The south side of the 50 Acre Ridge is a bedding area we’ve managed for years by cutting cedars and using prescribed fire.
GRANT: This area now is a high-quality savanna. Scattered oak trees with great stands of native grasses and forbs. The vegetation during the spring is relatively short which makes great bugging and nesting areas for turkeys. Clay and I had just started calling hoping a tom would be in the area looking for hens that were using the area to bug or nest when we spotted movement off to the side. Fortunately, the cameras were rolling.
GRANT: Thankfully, the coyote got a surprise and didn’t get a real meal.
GRANT: The decoy looked so real, it faked out a top-level predator and it’s a great illustration of how coyotes kill turkeys.
GRANT: Consider that a hen lays one egg per day and typically lays about ten eggs and then they sit on those eggs incubating for 28 more days. And once they hatch, it’s 14 days before the poults are mature enough to fly and roost on a limb.
GRANT: That’s 52 days that hen, and at least part of her clutch, is going to be on the ground, extremely vulnerable to predators.
GRANT: We’ve got to ask ourselves how likely is it that there’s so many coyotes, raccoons, possums and other predators in an area that just once during 52 days they go downwind enough of that hen and her eggs or poults to smell them and come in to get the meal.
GRANT: Studies for multiple ground nesting species have shown that when predators are trapped just before and during the nesting season, there’s a higher chance of poult survival.
GRANT: Unfortunately, here in Missouri, our trapping season closes at the end of January and we can’t do that important job of trapping right before and during the nesting period.
GRANT: With turkey populations down in many states, it may be time for some state agencies to consider allowing sportsmen to help them in managing the turkey population by extending trapping seasons through that critical period.
GRANT: I’m certainly concerned about declining turkey populations in many areas. Now, I will admit, we have pretty good turkey populations here at The Proving Grounds, but you may recall, we are removing as many raccoons, opossums and coyotes as we can during the legal trapping season paired with working to have good quality habitat.
GRANT: Even with those concerns, it was still an incredible observation to watch that coyote rush in and try to grab that turkey by the neck.
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GRANT: Last week we shared that Pro Staffer Danny Naugle had a great hunt on Missouri’s opening morning of turkey season and even with extremely foggy conditions was able to punch his tag on a mature tom.
GRANT: Turkey hunters are allowed to tag two toms in Missouri during the spring season, but only one during the first week. So, with Danny being tagged out for that first week, he swapped the Winchester for the camera with his filming partner, Bradley Lueckenhoff.
GRANT: One morning during a hunt, Bradley had a neat observation of a hen coming in to check out the decoys.
GRANT: After a few minutes, she drifted off the way she came.
GRANT: That hen was the only turkey Bradley saw that morning, so he decided to scout another area for fresh sign.
GRANT: While scouting a cattle pasture on a property he has permission to hunt, he found several sets of fresh tracks and believed toms were using this area to strut and feed.
GRANT: There was rain in the forecast so Bradley and Danny decided to place a Redneck ghillie blind in the pasture so if the weatherman was correct, they could still hunt.
BRADLEY: So those birds have been roosting down on this ridge right here. We have that Redneck sitting in that cattle pasture that we set up for the rain. I say we get up on this field, see if we can get one to gobble. We’ll see exactly where they are.
BRADLEY: If anything, there’s those logging roads. We can just run down and try to cut ‘em off. But if they’re decently close, I say we throw the Avians out in this field and jump in the Redneck and see if we can just call ‘em up to us.
GRANT: Light was just breaking when Bradley and Danny entered the pasture and Danny hooted on his Harrison Hoot’n Stick.
DANNY: (Whispering) They’re right here. Right here.
DANNY: (Whispering) There he is, right there.
GRANT: Bradley quickly set up the decoys as the toms gobbled on the limb.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) Don’t you love that?
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) Yeah.
BRADLEY: (Whispering) That ought to give them enough to know we’re here, right?
DANNY: (Whispering) Yeah.
DANNY: (Whispering) There. Right there, dude.
DANNY: (Whispering) That sounds like on the ground now. He’s on the ground.
DANNY: (Whispering) Yeah. They’re definitely on the ground now.
DANNY: (Whispering) On that ridge down there, they like to – like this road, maybe.
BRADLEY: (Whispering) I think they’re coming; I think they’re coming.
DANNY: (Whispering) We should see them in plenty of time, huh?
BRADLEY: (Whispering) Yeah. There they are, there they are, I can see them down there coming up through the woods to the right. Yeah. Get that GoPro.
DANNY: (Whispering) Yeah, I just turned it on.
BRADLEY: (Whispering) (Inaudible) I’m going to probably shoot that left one.
DANNY: (Whispering) Just let him work the decoy (Inaudible). (Inaudible) see if he’ll jump that jake any.
BRADLEY: (Whispering) I just need ‘em to separate.
BRADLEY: (Whispering) Are you on ‘em?
DANNY: (Whispering) I’m on the (Inaudible).
BRADLEY: (Whispering) Yes!
DANNY: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Oh my gosh, dude.
BRADLEY: (Whispering) Look at that hawk.
DANNY: (Whispering) Dude.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) I can’t believe a hawk just came down to hit a turkey.
DANNY: (Whispering) I can’t believe there’s a hawk sitting on your turkey right now.
DANNY: (Whispering) There it goes. Dude.
BRADLEY: (Quietly) Oh, I’m so stoked right now.
BRADLEY: Probably inch long spurs. Big, long beard. Man. Nice spurs. Decent beard. Well, Danny and I came and set up this morning. Set up in the Redneck. This is just a big cattle pasture. Within 30 minutes, we’ve got a big bird on the ground.
BRADLEY: Got to watch a good show with both of these birds coming in. And then even after we shot this one, that second bird just stuck around for a little bit. But we came and brought this Redneck in a few days ago. The last three or four days has been nothing but rain. So, we figured they’d be coming in to feed in this field.
BRADLEY: Didn’t have any luck, but this morning the birds were within 100 yards on the roost and we got set up and gave just a couple calls and they came in on a string. And like I said, they put on a great show.
BRADLEY: Beat up the decoy just a little bit, but that’s part of it. So, incredible morning. We’re just happy to do it.
GRANT: Congratulations, Bradley on scouting and making a good plan. That tom will provide several meals for you and your family.
GRANT: I’m receiving a lot of questions about how to establish food plots. If you have questions about our techniques, simply check out the food plot playlist on our channels.
GRANT: Turkey season is open for a few more days here in Missouri and it’s almost time to start planting food plots, although the weatherman says the temperatures are dropping back into the 40s for a few more nights.
GRANT: No matter the conditions, it’s always good to get outside and enjoy Creation. But most important, take time every day to be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.
GRANT: You can see where it landed in the mud on the back.
CLAY: (Quietly) Oh, yeah.
GRANT: Got flipped over. There was a big scratch mark right there. See where he –
CLAY: (Quietly) Oh yeah. Yeah.
GRANT: And right there in front of your foot.
CLAY: Lived to hunt another day.
GRANT: They’re tough. Tough decoys. They obviously look very realistic. Because he was right on it.