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>>GRANT: The GrowingDeer Team assists landowners every year with site-specific habitat and hunting improvement plans.
>>GRANT: Plans need to be site-specific because every property has unique characteristics and is in a unique neighborhood. Putting all that together with a site-specific plan, we can avoid costly mistakes and spending time chasing a rabbit trail.
>>GRANT: I recently spent some time with John who owns 100 acres in South Georgia and his property is primarily a pine plantation.
>>GRANT: Before the conversation, I’d reviewed John’s property and the neighborhood and I wasn’t surprised that the entire area was about 85%, or more, pine plantation or pine stands. And the rest of the area was just pasture; there was no ag close to John’s property.
>>GRANT: You and the entire neighborhood is very short of food. There’s cover everywhere. I mean, there’s young, medium and old pine plantations. The young is great cover.
>>GRANT: It doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of oaks in that buffer of hardwood species that goes through the middle of your property there.
>>JOHN: There’s, there’s not.
>>GRANT: Studying the images and the conversation with John, I knew that his property was primarily composed of a fairly young pine plantation with a hardwood runner that went through most of the middle of the property.
>>GRANT: With this information, I was excited to talk more with John and start developing a site-specific plan.
>>GRANT: For this place to hold more deer and especially to hold them in a patternable way where you could kind of predict where they’re going to be, or even see ‘em, you’re going to have to kill some trees. They’re just – you’ve got to get some sun down to the ground.
>>GRANT: When John sent his initial information, he had included a picture of a shrub that was very common in that hardwood runner and in his pine plantations.
>>GRANT: I took a look at the leaf and bark pattern and identified it as wax myrtle, a very common shrub in the southern United States.
>>GRANT: Wax myrtle – if you take the leaves and just crush ‘em up pretty good in your hand, it should be a pretty pleasing scent. And the bark would be like in your pictures – it would be light and it’s real thin – kind of a frail bark and have some lighter or gray patches in it. That’s wax myrtle.
>>GRANT: And you might imagine the name wax. It’s – it’s got a real waxy leaf covering, so a lot of herbicides just won’t break through those leaves to – to do good.
>>GRANT: Wax myrtle is a native species but it can spread easily in areas that have been disturbed like after a timber harvest.
>>GRANT: In pine country where there’s often disturbance – you know, thinning the stand or replanting the stand – opens up areas for wax myrtle, sweetgums and other invasive species to take over the understory and out compete maybe even the pines and certainly the native grasses and forbs.
>>GRANT: The young pine plantations on John’s property were very homogenous, they were very similar, and it was almost like working with a clean canvas.
>>GRANT: But I think we could go in that – that thicket there, kind of the north center part of your property – and create a food plot in there.
>>GRANT: The hardwood runner that basically ran north and south through John’s property was super thick with the wax myrtle and was large enough that it was difficult for John to pattern deer in that thicket.
>>GRANT: What I’d like to do is leave a little buffer between there and the pines and create us about a, roughly, approximately a four-acre food plot in there.
>>GRANT: Quality food for wildlife species was also extremely limited on John’s property. So one of my first recommendations was to go to the northern end of that thicket and create about a four-acre food plot in the thicket.
>>GRANT: That provided two great resources. The first one was obviously a quality food source for deer on John’s property and also putting it in the middle of that thicket created bottlenecks so deer that didn’t go there to feed would go around one side or the other, making it much easier to pattern.
>>GRANT: Let’s just say you’ve got a four-acre food plot in there and deer – it’s the pre-rut or whatever – deer are just passing through. Well, they don’t want to walk across a four-acre food plot, so now they’re going on one side or the other.
>>GRANT: And you’ve created a bottleneck where right now, it’s just a big, old tangle and I doubt you can predict where deer are crossing in there.
>>GRANT: That food plot would a) put a big source of food right in the middle of your property without, you know, losing a bunch of pine income in the future; and we’re leaving a buffer around there, it’s going to be easier for you to approach, hunt and exit without alerting a bunch of deer. Right?
>>GRANT: You’ve got a little screen and you’ll make yourself a couple of little trails to come and go. And so, you’ve got a whole bunch of food and deer can bed all around on your property.
>>GRANT: I didn’t stop there. I used that same technique to create other food plots throughout John’s property – not just adding food but putting them in very strategic locations so deer are either traveling to the food source or going around, both providing excellent stand and blind locations.
>>GRANT: And we’ve got to know that that’s a travel corridor; right? Deer are coming from the north, down through there versus going through all those pines. And that weaves over to the east to that same type habitat on your neighboring property over there.
>>GRANT: And it goes south towards the highway and kind of a little bit west. And there’s a – kind of like a thumb in a catcher’s mitt sticking up there where there’s a big old “V” of that habitat sticking in your pines.
>>GRANT: And there – it narrows down right in the middle by one of the old logging trails there. That is going to be a bottleneck right there. No doubt in my mind.
>>GRANT: You can look at that from 30,000 feet and know you need a stand right there because that’s just a great place.
>>GRANT: So knowing that’s a great place, I would make a little food plot – just to slow deer down right there. Because they’re going to be coming through there. And the deer are going to stage on one side or the other in the thicket or go right through the food plot.
>>GRANT: It’s – it’s going to make that hunting a little bit better.
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>>GRANT: I think what I want to do after drawing this out a couple of times is put a little food plot on the east side of that bottleneck and let deer go right through the bottleneck so you can still hunt that if you want. But have a little food plot right there on the east side so deer will be really comfortable stepping out there and you can put a ground blind or a Redneck or whatever you want on the even more east side of that. And those deer will never know you’re in the world. I mean, they’ll never know you’re in the world.
>>GRANT: If we go right around that – the pines kind of stick up in the wax myrtle thicket up there and make almost an upside-down “U”.
>>GRANT: And we had the big food plot up there in the thicket. And I want to make another little food plot – if – if the peak of that group of pines right there is twelve o’clock, or right south of the big food plot there – and if we go from like twelve o’clock to two-thirty, along the edge of the gallberry thicket and the pines and put another food plot right there in those pines, what that does is create a great bottleneck between the big food plot and this second little one we just put out there in the pines.
>>GRANT: Because remember, food plots are either an attraction or deer are going around them.
>>GRANT: And the reason I like that is that wax myrtle thicket, of course, it comes down from the top of your property and then bends east and ties into a thicket on your neighbor’s property. And you don’t really have any active way to hunt that.
>>GRANT: And we’re going to make that a whole lot better here. If you, you know, that wax myrtle thicket that comes down to your property and then kicks over to the right – it’s almost like a boot.
>>GRANT: Right where the boot is the narrowest – like you’re going from the ankle to the toes – it’s the narrowest right there.
>>GRANT: I do want to get the forestry mulcher in there, or dozer, whatever you’re using and just grind that up. Because there’s no doubt in my mind deer are going from your neighbors right up through the wax myrtle thicket. I mean, that’s just the travel corridor.
>>GRANT: And basically, what we’re making is about a 50-yard wide – just like a power line easement or a gas line easement.
>>GRANT: Right through there because there’s deer traveling that. There is no doubt in my mind. And you just – you’re just making a window through the bedroom, so to speak. You’re just making a shooting lane through there.
>>GRANT: There were two areas in these hardwood runners that narrow down to about 100 or 70 yards – pinch points, if you will. Now 100 yards of head-tall thick brush is tough to hunt. So I suggested John rent a forestry mulcher and make a right-of-way, or an easement, if you will, through there – about 50 yards wide.
>>GRANT: Take it down to the ground; let that mulch decompose a little bit and then plant a food plot. That would give him a perfect view through a long hardwood runner. And the food plot adds more food and gives a reason for deer to slow down when traveling through there and let John decide whether to shoot or take a pass.
>>GRANT: You’ve seen how effective this strategy is as we commonly hunt a big transmission line right-of-way that goes through The Proving Grounds and it gives us a view through large sections of hardwoods. Deer get out there; maybe slow down in the food plot we’ve created, and we’ve tagged a bunch of deer using that technique.
>>GRANT: The remaining portion of John’s property were the pine plantations.
>>GRANT: The pines were too young and they haven’t been thinned the first time yet. But knowing they would in a few years, I pulled out one of my favorite food plot techniques in pine country.
>>GRANT: When these pines go through their first thinning the standard thinning practice, at least in the southeast, is to thin one row – take every tree out – and then it’s operator select.
>>GRANT: They can reach in two rows on either side and pull out trees that aren’t as desirable as the remaining trees.
>>GRANT: So that’s called a fifth row thin. Every fifth row is clear cut. All the trees are taken out. And that makes a great food plot location.
>>GRANT: Most of the pine plantations on John’s property were oriented east and west. The one in the southeast corner was more oriented north and south. And I explained the difference of these orientations. Basically, east/west roads get full day sunshine and that soil will be a bit drier.
>>GRANT: North and south rows will only get midday sunshine – perfect growing conditions – and I expect the food plots in those pine stands, especially during dry years, to be more productive.
>>GRANT: So I like all of this. I can’t wait to share this plan with you. I know you’re not seeing it right now. But we’ve got one, two, three, four, five, six food plots, not counting – and we haven’t hardly killed any pines – and that’s not counting all the thinned row stuff.
>>GRANT: So lots and lots of stand and blind opportunities now that you could have ready by this next hunting season. And then when you – when you do your first thinning, there’s almost an unlimited amount of potential for stands and blinds.
>>GRANT: As part of this process, we actually pinpointed several blind and stand locations and I’m very confident that as John implements this plan, the hunting for him and his family will get better and better – from two points of view – better quality animals and more opportunities to see and harvest deer.
>>GRANT: John mentioned that he and his family like fresh venison and I have no doubt they’re going to be packing some freezers in a couple of years.
>>GRANT: Whether you hunt in pine country or the Ozark Mountains like we do, it’s always good to get outside and enjoy Creation.
>>GRANT: But it’s way more important to take time every day and be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
>>GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.