This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode, click here.
>>GRANT: It’s mid-October and many folks, including myself are getting ready to hunt the pre-rut. Scrapes are opening up and bucks will be on their feet more during daylight hours searching for those first few receptive does.
>>GRANT: The GrowingDeer Team has been checking our Reconyx cameras and hunting and during those processes, we’ve seen a bunch of turkeys in our food plots.
>>GRANT: During the early season and up until even last week, seeing all those turkeys in the food plot was great MRI, or most recent information, that there weren’t many acorns on the ground. And that standing milo from the Summer Release Blend™ was the best food source around.
>>GRANT: Turkeys and deer this time of year are seeking carbohydrate-rich food to get ready for winter. As a deer hunter, this is great information. But I’ve got to tell you, I’m thrilled to see all the young turkeys. There must have been a tremendous hatch here at The Proving Grounds.
>>GRANT: Like most concerned landowners, we’ve been monitoring the turkey population throughout the summer. But it wasn’t until they started getting out of our burned areas in the forest and started feeding on that milo, that we knew just how good the hatch was.
>>GRANT: I’ve shared how we worked to improve the habitat quality, especially the nesting and brooding habitat. Unfortunately, no matter how good the habitat quality is, if the predator population is extremely high, it’s just a matter of time until a predator gets downwind or sees a nest or poults.
>>GRANT: For a number of years now the turkey population has been continuing to increase here at The Proving Grounds and during that same time, it’s decreasing throughout much of the turkeys’ range. In fact, several states are decreasing the season length, the bag limit, or something to compensate for declining turkey populations.
>>GRANT: I believe one of the factors that we’re having success in increasing the turkey population is our concerted efforts to remove nest and poult predators.
>>GRANT: If you’re not seeing a lot of young turkeys now or jakes in the spring, it’s probably time you helped turkey populations where you hunt by improving the habitat and reducing the number of predators.
>>GRANT: Research has shown that the most effective time to remove predators to increase populations of ground-nesting birds is during the nesting and brooding season.
>>GRANT: Unfortunately, some states, including Missouri, doesn’t allow trapping at that time of year. And I’m lobbying and hoping that Missouri changes that regulation to allow trapping – or at least concerned landowners to be able to trap – during the nesting and brooding season.
>>GRANT: In the meantime, I encourage landowners and fellow hunters to work together and improve the habitat where they hunt and remove predators. You’ve got to work together, maybe share a trapline, spend some time out there and get on top of those nest predators.
>>GRANT: I’m all excited about deer hunting. But I wanted to share that information now. Because now, if you’re in one of those states that doesn’t allow trapping during the nesting and brooding season, is when we can do some good work to help turkey populations.
>> ANNOUNCER: GrowingDeer is brought to you by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. Also by Reconyx, Green Cover Food Plots, Winchester, LaCrosse Footwear, Thlete Outdoor Apparel, Morrell Targets, RTP Outdoors, Fourth Arrow, HuntStand, Scorpion Venom Archery, Case IH Tractors, Burris Optics, G5 Broadheads, Prime Bows, and Redneck Hunting Blinds.
>>GRANT: Research has shown that raccoons are the number one nest predator for wild turkeys and several other species of songbirds. But we often get questions, “Well, Grant, I only hunt, or I have access to 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 acres. Can I do any good?” And the answer is unequivocally, “Yes.”
>>GRANT: Raccoons have a very large home range. In some areas that’s a multi-mile home range. They’re just making big circles or moving here and there.
>>GRANT: And if you trap intensively on your 40 acres, let’s say, you’re reducing the number of coons in the entire area and a few more hens may successfully raise a clutch.
>>GRANT: Sometimes we receive emails from folks worrying, “We’ve removed all the predators in our area,” or they might remove all the predators in their area. And let me assure you, if you’re following legal methods, that is not going to happen.
>>GRANT: Even at the height of the fur boom people were trapping for income, man. I mean, they were making their yearly income from trapping and processing furs. They did not wipe out predator populations.
>>GRANT: The number of trapping licenses sold has decreased in almost every state for several reasons. And that means part of being a good steward or a land manager or a wildlife manager includes trapping to help balance the number of predators to the number of prey species.
>>GRANT: As a wildlife biologist and a landowner, I don’t want to see all the predators removed. I enjoy hearing a coyote howl or maybe seeing a coon from my deer stand. But what I don’t like is seeing turkey populations and many species of songbirds declining significantly year after year.
>>GRANT: We need to work together to find that balance between predator and prey species.
>>GRANT: Trapping season here in Missouri opens November 15th, and that’s, man, that’s right in the middle of rut season. But you can bet we’ll start putting a few traps out and probably right after Thanksgiving, we’ll put even more traps out and start the process of removing predators here at The Proving Grounds.
>>GRANT: Thanksgiving, Christmas, travel hunts – all those activities and even more – can interrupt the trapping process. And that’s one reason I really like using the Duke live trap when removing raccoons and opossums.
>>GRANT: It’s a really easy and effective trap to use. And if you need to be out of town for a day or two and can’t check your traps, simple trigger, let that door set down. You don’t have to take the bait out or anything. Because once you’ve done that, critters can’t get into the trap.
>>GRANT: And when you come back, lift that door back up and you’re in business.
>>GRANT: I’ve been sharing my concerns about turkey populations and even songbird populations with Bill Duke and the folks at Duke Traps. And they agree. So, to work on this conservation effort, they’re offering special pricing, a reduced price to GrowingDeer fans. Simply call the number on the screen, tell them you heard about this at GrowingDeer, and they’ll offer you that special price.
>>GRANT: If you’re setting a trapline out and you can check it every day, several days in a row, the dog proof trap is a great option also. I like the dog proof trap because you can put several in a five-gallon bucket, take off and set a couple dozen traps.
>>GRANT: To learn more about our simple and effective trapping techniques, check out the episodes shown below.
>>GRANT: It’s certainly not common anymore, but a raccoon can make a great meal if you’re feeling a little bit adventurous. Check out the recipe at this episode.
>>GRANT: In addition to increasing predator populations, I have another major concern that I believe is causing the decline of turkey populations. In ag areas especially, almost all the corn and about half of the soybean seeds are coated with an extremely powerful insecticide that’s in the neonicotinoid family. Called neonics for short. You’ve seen corn or soybean seeds that are bright green or bright red, bright orange. That’s actually a warning of the toxin that’s on the seed and to be careful when handling it.
>>GRANT: But, you know, when a farmer plants a field, some of that seed is on top of the ground and many of y’all, based on the pictures we’ve received, have harvested turkeys with a crop full of that treated seed. And that’s not good.
>>GRANT: But even more, we never see that because no one’s harvesting poults. It is later in the year – a guy may plant a little later – and those young poults eating that seed, or insects that have consumed that insecticide, those insects are weakened and easier for a poult to catch and that can cause that poult to get a super dose of that insecticide.
>>GRANT: If you’d like to learn more about the impact of neonicotinoids on birds, simply Google neonic or neonicotinoids and birds and you’ll find all kinds of scientific studies.
>>GRANT: Trapping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, learn more about the resource and enjoy the byproducts of the resource.
>>GRANT: The last couple of years, I’ve had some beautiful fur blankets made from critters we’ve trapped here at The Proving Grounds and shared those blankets with my family.
>>GRANT: I’m focused on deer hunting, but I’m thrilled we’re seeing so many turkeys here at The Proving Grounds. And I’m excited to chase toms here this spring.
>>GRANT: Learning more about wildlife and wildlife habitat is a great way to enjoy Creation. But even more important is to take time every day to be quiet and intentionally seek the Creator’s will for your life.
>>GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.