This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: It’s getting into August. The drill is calibrated; we’re ready to roll. But the weatherman – he threw us a curveball. There is no rain in the 10-day forecast.
GRANT: It doesn’t mean we take off and go fishing. We’re still going to improve the habitat. We’re just switching gears and we’re going to go do a prescribed fire.
GRANT: In the field just about to start this growing season burn in a closed-canopy forest, boy, that’s just choked full of saplings. So, our goal today is to remove a bunch of leaf litter, a bunch of tick habitat. And hopefully, there’s enough leaf litter to get it hot enough around those saplings that will top kill them, or go around that cambium layer, or stop nutrients from going between the leaves and the roots. And that will either kill or top kill those saplings.
GRANT: And you will see it’s just thick in there. We can’t really hunt it because it’s so thick. And certainly nothing’s growing below there, so it’s kind of like a biological desert.
GRANT: Humidity is at 49% right now. 50 and below, it will probably carry in the shade. Much over 50, I doubt that fire will carry in the shade even though it’s dry here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: Okay. Pretty easy burn plan today. We’ve got a big food plot here and the road right down the south side of the food plot. We’ve already blown that, so that’s our firebreak. And that road continues down and around and ties into a bigger, all internal road.
GRANT: So, we’ve just got a square. So, easy. You guys have already made the firebreak, blown the roads out. Man, it looks like a dirt trail down through there.
GRANT: Had a safety briefing with the crew. We always start off by looking at the fire line on onX, making sure that everyone knows where everyone is supposed to be and what the plan is for today.
GRANT: Today is going to be a great day. We’ve got a couple of interns, Evan and Clayton. Evan is from Kansas. He’s been around a lot of grass fire, a lot of prairie fire, prescribed fire – renewing that ecosystem.
GRANT: Clayton is from South Carolina; hasn’t seen a lot of fire. We’ll tuck those guys in with us. Let them see what we’re doing and as they gain a little bit more experience, we’ll probably let them set a little bit of fire, closely supervised, and just add to their education here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: Of course, we always use drip torches. That’s the most efficient way for a hand crew to set fires. And a drip torch has a special curlicue in here so the fire can’t back up and set the fuel in the tank on fire.
GRANT: Never put more than one-third gas in here. We’ve got one-third or slightly less gas and two-thirds diesel. That’s a good ratio for the humidity and the conditions today.
GRANT: If it was more volatile, lower humidity, we would have more diesel and less gasoline. You can learn more about that online.
GRANT: We’ve got a road all the way around this little unit – about 11 acres. We’ve removed all the leaf litter, limbs, duff off the road. We’re down to dirt, so it’s an easy and very good firebreak.
GRANT: I’m going to step in here just a little bit. Find me a pile of leaves, get my fuel started. Just put a little fuel down there; see what’s going to happen here.
GRANT: I treat my drip torch just like a loaded gun. When I’ve got it lit, I’m super cautious and conscientious of where its pointed. I don’t want to walk over here and set it down on the other side – the area we’re not burning – when it’s lit. Because it might tip over – the wind blow or something – and start a fire outside of where we want to burn. There’s no protection and then we’ve got to hustle really hard and try to put that fire out.
GRANT: I’ve let that fuel; let the gas kind of volatilize; get out here a little bit. Keep your head back and see what’s going to happen, see how it’s going to carry. Obviously, there’s almost no wind in here. It’s a closed-canopy forest. The wind today is supposed to be like five to seven miles an hour. And under this closed-canopy forest, it’s not going anywhere.
GRANT: You know, watching how the smoke behaves, that’s a great way to be scouting for a deer stand based on the wind conditions like we have today. And right now, it’s just pretty much going straight up.
GRANT: But, it’s expanding. That tells me it’s likely to carry. But let’s give it a little bit and just see how it goes. It will go into less fuel, more fuel, less fuel. There’s a little bit of bare dirt around it. Let’s see how it carries.
GRANT: So, to start the day, you’re probably going to be doing a task called watching the line or watching the back line. I may take off this way lighting fire and I want you drifting back and forth. You’re not standing still. You’re walking until this gets burned 10 or 12 feet in there.
GRANT: I want you watching on the other side of our firebreak. I’m looking for any smoke or a spark or flame on this side. And as soon as you see it, you don’t say, “Well, man. I’ll be the man. I’ll just put this out.” You tell us instantly.
GRANT: And if it gets over here – and the way it’s behaving – we’re just going to get in front of it, remove all the leaf litter down to the soil, and make a firebreak, just like you did. We don’t have to be right on the fire breathing smoke. We’ll see which way it’s going and you kill the head.
GRANT: Just beating it from behind it’s still going. Right? Making more progress. You’ve got to get ahead of the fire. The way this is going, I’m not too worried about it. It’s still creeping.
GRANT: Let’s give it a little bit more fuel and see what happens here.
GRANT: You can see once I get my torch lit, I can stream fire. And if you’ve got a torch in hand, you’re not constantly pouring out. You’re not like putting, you know, maple syrup on your pancakes.
GRANT: Fire spreads. It’s never satisfied. It’s never satisfied until all the fuel is gone. So, when your lighting a fire, just do a drop and let it take off. So, you see some, just right here where it’s getting a little bit of sun; a few, little hickory saplings and what-not. We’re going to kill those. They’re so small. They don’t have enough root system to really rebound.
GRANT: I don’t see this getting hot enough right now to kill this. But, we may top kill it. And it will put a bunch of shoots out. And those young shoots are attractive to deer. So, we’re creating – and it won’t last very long – but a little, big attraction in the middle of all this timber.
GRANT: And these are the only young shoots in here; deer will be coming.
DANIEL: This is a great example of how important prep work is when you do a prescribed fire. Here’s an old felled tree – a big, old log. It’s decaying. It’s great fuel. It can easily catch fire.
DANIEL: And right here – right next to it is our firebreak. If we didn’t prep correctly, this would be a lot of fuel. This could be a lot of fire right here on the edge of our firebreak, throwing flames, throwing sparks over our break.
DANIEL: So, when we came in, we prepared the break. We saw this and we went ahead and we blew a break all the way around this log. And we won’t light right here. We’ll actually light on the inside so the fuel is going away and the fire is moving away from this log.
DANIEL: We’re not going to burn this log. It’s going to sit right here. And that way there’s no chance that a fire will jump the break. So, when we’re creating our firebreak, we’re always looking for snags or felled logs and we’ll just go around them if they’re close to the break. That way there’s no chance that we’ll have a fire jump.
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GRANT: Carrying better here. A little difference in fuels. Another road comes in, so this is south. The sun’s getting in here. A little patch of native grasses.
GRANT: Obviously, carrying better because shade is a huge suppressor to fire. Just shade. Even the same air temperature. Shade, of course, holds a little bit more humidity and that sun’s energy will allow this fire and the fine fuels to creep on through there much faster than what we were seeing in the shade.
GRANT: The day is young. This baby is going to carry on through here. He got in here. He was burning really good, then hit a bunch of gravel. Remember, without fuel, fire dies.
GRANT: So, what we’ve got in here – it’s got green grass and gravel. It just put itself out. But that will creep around here, pick up this dead grass again, go on up through there.
GRANT: You don’t have to light every square inch. As long as there’s connecting fuel, a little spider web, it will find its way, consume all that fuel.
GRANT: Clayton is one of our interns. He started in the late spring. He’s a six-month intern, going through summer and fall semester. He’s like ready for fall. Like, “Man, I want to see some deer hunting.” But Clayton’s been doing a great job.
GRANT: And he went through the summer, you know, carrying a backpack sprayer, about 40 pounds, treating noxious weeds, doing hard work like we all do. And now, Clayton, this is one way to control weeds.
GRANT: Now, it won’t control sericea like you’re talking about. But much easier to control 11 acres or working on 11 acres like this than carrying that backpack sprayer, right?
CLAY: Yes, sir.
GRANT: Clayton is in my pocket not just to learn today. Our interns work, right? We – it’s a tradeoff. We teach, they work. So, Clayton’s got this hand rake which is great if he’s got just a little leaves right here for – you know, you do that really quickly or maybe come up to a tree that you want to save. You don’t want it having a fire scar. You can rake around it.
GRANT: Fire gets a little bit bigger or maybe somehow it jumps across our fire line. Well, the backpack blower which is lighter, by the way, than a backpack full of water, can be cranked up and, boy, you can remove a bunch of leaf litter really quickly and create a firebreak.
GRANT: So, Clayton’s job today is, basically, backing me up, learning, and should something get awry, or I see a tree that, boy, I don’t want to be damaged by fire, we can create a little firebreak around that tree.
GRANT: Man, we’re out here in the sun, south-facing slope. That humidity is dropping on down there. If you watch this, you’ll think, “Man, this thing is gonna cook.” The minute you get up there in the shade, it will lay on down. Even at a super low humidity.
CLAY: All right. Evan, if you want to, if you want to start stringing back to the west here, getting those, hitting these sunny spots in here and then Clayton, if you wait a little bit, let him get going and then you can jump down 20, 30 yards and start lighting below in there.
CLAY: Well, we’ve got the perimeter lit off. You can see back here behind me, it’s just dog hair thick with saplings. So, we’re lighting these spots where the sun’s coming through. The fire is carrying a lot better in these sunny spots. So, we’re taking advantage of what we’ve got.
CLAY: We’re getting things lit off here. We’ve got Clayton and Evan on a drip torch, getting some experience. Should be a good day.
DANIEL: The wind’s kind of shifting. This morning right when we started lighting up, we had a west wind. Right now it looks like it’s – based on the smoke and how it’s coming through here – it’s a little more out of the south or southeast. And then it will kick back to the southwest or west.
DANIEL: But that just goes to show you the wind will just swirl in here. And it – and the wind may be constant out here in the food plot, but here in the timber, the wind is just wanting to swirl. It’s a great example of what, what your scent can do in these closed-canopy forests, especially during the early season where there’s still leaves on and high humidity conditions. And that scent can just kind of swirl and things can get still.
DANIEL: Even if there’s a good wind out in the open, when you get in the timber, it can be a totally different game. So, just a great example of the way, the way conditions can change just within a few yards of each other.
CLAY: One of the things I like best about growing season fires is being able to scout for deer sign right before season opens.
CLAY: We just came through this small section of timber here we’re burning on the back side. There’s a small draw, but its choked full of cedars. And as I’m coming through here, there’s a pretty good trail coming across the slope here.
CLAY: Deer are working down the ridge, coming around that draw and around those cedars. And they have worn out a trail. This would be a good spot, easy to get into to hunt. Come in on a north wind, enter from the south. Any deer crossing in front of you are not going to know you’re in the world.
CLAY: I’ve got to pick up the torch and keep lighting here. But before I do, I’m going to mark this spot. I can see several trees in here that we can get in. I’m going to mark this spot. We’ll be back in here the next couple days, maybe a week or so, and try and get a stand hung. See if we can’t punch a tag right here in this spot this fall.
GRANT: Wrapping up here. A pretty small fire. About 11 acres. We’ve turned it mostly black which was my objective. Removed that leaf litter which is great tick habitat; destroyed that habitat and it gets rid of that parasite. And just hot enough to really girdle some of these smaller saplings. We won’t see the results of that until next spring
GRANT: May see some leaves wilting in a day or two if we got a good scorch on some, but we met our objectives. Perfect summertime fire.
GRANT: We just returned to the shop and are getting ready to unload our gear. It feels good to work hard all day and know that you’ve improved the wildlife habitat.
GRANT: There’s still no rain in the forecast, so we’ll be working later this week on hanging some new Summits and trimming lanes around those stands where we hunted last year.
GRANT: If you’d like to stay tuned to our progress, check us out on social media.
GRANT: As you’re getting ready for season, don’t get so busy that you forget to slow down and enjoy Creation. And more importantly, take time every day to be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.