This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: It’s the end of June, and bucks are showing great antler development here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: This makes me very excited for the opening day of deer season and I’ve been using the off season to prepare.
GRANT: During past years, I’ve shared an archery practice technique called blind bale. This is a training technique where you stand very close to the target, just far enough back that the arrow will clear the bow before reaching the target; draw back; kind of get it pointed in the center; and then shut your eyes; and totally focus on form. I use this technique not only to improve my form, but to help reduce target panic.
GRANT: I’m always looking for methods to improve my archery form and increase accuracy. Recently, a friend of mine, Mike Tanaka, shared such a technique.
GRANT: Most archers are familiar with paper tuning. They go to a pro shop and buy a new bow, the guys set it up, shoot through the paper four or five times and send you home. Well, let’s take that a step further.
GRANT: Paper tuning is not only useful for tuning equipment, it’s very useful for perfecting your form. Mike has shared with me it’s relatively easy to tune a bow, so it shoots nice holes through paper. The bigger issue is tuning the shooter.
GRANT: At most pro shops, they’ll shoot the bow and tune the equipment. And they want to make sure the arrow’s not flying at close range — tail right, left, up, or down. You do this at close range because if you’re shooting further, the feathers — unless the bow’s really out of tune — will correct the arrow flight, and it would look straight when it goes through the paper.
GRANT: Once the bow is tuned, we need to make sure the shooter is tuned. And that typically has to do with the way the bow is held, the grip, or how the release is placed against your face. There’s a lot of pressure on the grip hand and the release hand when you’re pulling back 50, 60, 70 pounds. And if that pressure is slightly left or right, up or down, it will cause the arrow to start out flying any way – tail right, left, up, or down. That’s where the paper test comes in.
GRANT: By shooting at close range six or seven feet back, the arrow, if it’s got pressure in its tail – right, left, up, or down – will show when it goes through the paper. So, for this to work, the target needs to be far enough behind the paper so the arrow can pass all the way through.
GRANT: After the arrow’s been shot, when it hits the paper, it will make a perfect bullet hole. But as it continues to slide through — if it’s this way or that way, or up or down — the fletching will rip the paper — you’ll see the pattern of the fletching, whichever way the arrow’s tail is oriented.
GRANT: Ideally, you’re making what we call a “bullet hole.” You’ll see a small round hole and see where each fletching cut the paper.
GRANT: You can set this up at home. It’s always safety first, so we’ve got a frame built that will hold our paper and a large Morrell Target behind the frame. The target is as large as or larger than the frame, so if I’m in between here, it’s going in the target.
GRANT: Use a very thin paper. I use parchment paper; it’s really inexpensive, and it will tell on you. It tears super easy, so it will show the slightest orientation of the arrow.
GRANT: The paper needs to be tight. We hold ours by a couple of clamps. If it’s sloppy, you won’t get a true picture of how the arrow is tearing.
GRANT: Another tip that makes me a little more comfortable when using this technique is to make sure I’ve got a small crack right here so I can ensure there’s a target behind there before I shoot. Don’t make a tuning decision based on one shot. Shoot three or four or five, see if there’s a consistent tear pattern, and if there is, then you can make an adjustment.
GRANT: I’ll shoot a few shots to demonstrate, and I’ll purposely put a little pressure on one side or the other, my grip, and show you what a tear looks like. And then, I’ll try to shoot a bullet hole.
GRANT: I’ll start off by shooting, trying not to pay a lot of attention to my grip. Let’s see what kind of tear that produces.
GRANT: I took the first shot and let my face push into the string a little bit, and the results are obvious. The point of the arrow went right through there. It’s a nice round hole, but the arrow was flying nock left, which results in a left tear.
GRANT: So, you can see here and here where the fletchings went through. You’ll always see those cuts where the fletchings go through and a nice round hole where the arrow point goes through. What we want is those fletchings cutting right around that arrow hole.
GRANT: This shot, I’ll make sure the string is clearing my face, but I’ll grip the handle fairly tight.
GRANT: Whoo! That’s a lot of torque there. I often see guys shooting and they have that full grip on their bow. All their fingers are wrapped around it, and they’re kind of holding it like someone’s going to take it out of their hand. This is often the result.
GRANT: The pointed arrow went in here, clean hole, and it tore an inch and a half or more over here. You can see where the fletchings went through, so that arrow was flying at a very steep angle, making a lot of noise, obviously, and losing efficiency. Now, it would correct itself down range, but by that time, the deer has probably heard the arrow and maybe started to react.
GRANT: Third shot, well, I’ll try to shoot with a good grip and no face pressure.
GRANT: Whoo! That looks good. Very good. Third shot, I’ve got to tell you, since I was doing it on camera and needed to make a good hole, I kind of felt the same pressure as shooting at a big ole’ buck, but it worked out good.
GRANT: So, first shot was a lot of face pressure, the string was really pushing into me; second shot, torqueing with my hand, I had a death grip on it; third shot, good grip, strings not touching my face, got a hole right in the paper.
GRANT: When the bow is tuned and the shooter is tuned to producing results like this, well, that means all the energy is right behind the broadhead. You can shoot less pounds and get greater penetration. And it’s going to be a quieter arrow down range, less of a chance that deer is going to drop before the arrow gets there.
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GRANT: I’ve learned a lot from using this technique and I will continue it throughout the summer before my regular practice sessions. I believe the instant feedback helps me reduce target panic and makes me have much better follow through. As I start shooting outside more and stepping back to further distances, I’ll be sharing additional techniques.
GRANT: The GrowingDeer summer interns, Owen, Hunter, Taylor, Patrick, and Tanner, have been doing a great job improving the habitat here at The Proving Grounds, and along the way, getting some incredible experience that will help them throughout their career.
GRANT: A few weeks ago, they were spot treating sericea lespedeza. This is a very invasive, exotic plant. It was brought into the United States decades ago and turned out to be a real pest. And it’s a very invasive species. It’s spread in places it shouldn’t be. In fact, I don’t think it should be anywhere.
GRANT: Livestock rarely browse it; wildlife don’t use it; the seeds are too small for wildlife species to consume. It’s a nasty pest.
GRANT: It’s relatively easy to control with a strong mix of glyphosate, but the problem is it makes a tremendous seed base. And you end up treating it for several years in a row, killing the above ground plants, but then coming back and treating seedlings that come from the seed base the following year.
GRANT: They used backpack sprayers so they could limit the treatment to each spot, or each plant, and included a dye with the herbicide so they would know exactly where they were treating. Another big benefit of using the dye, so you can see what’s already been treated, especially if you return a day or two later.
GRANT: We treat sericea to keep it from spreading and also allow beneficial native species to grow in its place.
GRANT: Sericea is rarely a problem in closed canopy forests, but that doesn’t mean there’s not other species that need to be controlled.
GRANT: We’re doing a bit of TSI, timber stand improvement, work today at The Proving Grounds,
GRANT: Today, we’re working on taking sassafras out of the understory of this oak forest. Sassafras can become a weed species. Remember, our definition of a weed is anything growing and competing with crops that are more preferred.
GRANT: Sassafras typically grows or colonizes areas that had a lot of disturbance. And here in the Ozark Mountains, most of the ridgetops were tomato fields around the 30s, 40s, and maybe early 50s.
GRANT: Just down the ridgeway we can see an old dozer deck or a pile where all the dirt, probably, and trees were dozed off these ridges to make tomato fields. They were productive for tomatoes for a few years and then let to go and we got a big invasion of sassafras.
GRANT: Sassafras can grow extremely large, but rarely are they in an area that allows them to express their potential. Usually they’re in an understory tree like this. They’re just taking up a lot of moisture and nutrients from the oaks in the area and shading out quality vegetation from growing in the understory.
GRANT: Fortunately, sassafras are easy to control. And today, I’m working with the interns — this is Taylor — and we’re using the hack-and-squirt method. Just like with broadleaf weeds, different trees require different herbicides.
GRANT: Sassafras can be terminated relatively easily by glyphosate. Taylor’s been treating some trees, so I’m gonna allow him to demonstrate as I explain the hack-and-squirt technique.
GRANT: Hack-and-squirt is an extremely safe and efficient technique. So, we simply take our hatchet; hit the tree right here; fold it down just a little bit; while my hatchet’s still there, I put one squirt in for a tree this size; and move on to the next,
GRANT: So, Taylor, give me one good hack right here, and then take your squirt bottle, and you’re using a hatchet to filter it in to kind of form it right into that hack. And that’s all it takes.
GRANT: Now the beauty of using this technique is, over the next month or so, this tree will be terminated, but it will be standing. You’re not felling all these trees at once, making a mess.
GRANT: Then, this winter the small limbs will fall off; and over the next year or two, the limbs up to an inch or so will fall off, unless we get a lot of snow. By the time the stem falls, it will be so rotten, it’s gonna hit the ground and turn into soil fairly quickly. Hack-and- squirt is a simple and safe technique. One guy can cover a lot of acres in a day.
GRANT: A beauty of hack-and-squirt versus a chainsaw or something — if we cut this tree off, it would just stump sprout back. We would not terminate the tree. We’d fell the top, but the roots are still alive. This terminates the entire tree, top and roots.
GRANT: The bark of the sassafras is easy to identify, but if you’re just starting out, it’s usually easier to identify trees by their leaves.
GRANT: You want to make sure you’re terminating the right tree. You don’t want to accidentally hack a white oak or something that’s preferred for that site.
GRANT: Sassafras is a bit unique in that the leaves commonly take one of three forms. So, it has single-lobe, double-lobe, and triple-lobe leaves. But the color in the triple lobes are usually the most common and they’re easy to identify.
GRANT: I’ve talked way longer than it takes to terminate a tree. We’re just gonna watch Taylor go through here and hack four or five trees in this area and you can see how much progress one guy with a hatchet and a squirt bottle can make.
GRANT: I’ll share that different species of trees require different strengths or blends of glyphosate, and some species won’t be controlled very easily by glyphosate. Trees like maple usually require a different herbicide.
GRANT: I’ve used a hack-and-squirt technique here and on clients’ properties for years, and I’m pleased with the results.
GRANT: Several weeks ago, I shared we calibrated our Genesis drill to plant the garden. This wasn’t a typical garden. I had 20 plus different species of garden varieties. We planted directly into a standing crop of Eagle Seeds Fall Buffalo Blend. This morning, I checked on the buffalo garden, and I was pleased with what I found.
GRANT: I’m standing in a bit of an experiment. Last year at this same location, I drilled a garden. It turned out okay. We got some produce out of it, but I put the rows at 15 inches instead of 7-1/2. So this year, learning from that mistake, I did the same thing. I calibrated, but I didn’t tape off every other row. So, I planted ‘em at 7-1/2 inch spacing. And as you can tell, it’s plenty thick. There are very few weeds coming through from the mulch of the Fall Buffalo Blend. And then, all the garden species are so close together, not a lot of sun is reaching the ground to allow weeds to grow.
GRANT: There’s a bunch of something growing, but I gotta tell you, at this stage, it’s so thick and some of the squash and melons and what-not are similar enough, I can’t tell ‘em apart.
GRANT: Some of the varieties are being impacted by insects and I see some yellow and black insects chewing on leaves. Others are doing great.
GRANT: Over time, I hope to learn which garden varieties will work well in this system and which ones don’t. Because it’s much easier than going over here and tilling soil or doing something and planting each seed down a row.
GRANT: It’s yet to be determined how productive this type of garden will be, but for not much money and seed and taking up a little space in my food plot, it’s a fun experiment. And we’ll keep you posted as the summer progresses.
GRANT: I’ll share that some varieties in here are not edible. They’re not normal garden varieties. They’re here to improve the soil. I have a few sunflowers in here primarily for looks. And sunflowers make a massive root system that helps improve the soil. Hopefully, in another month or so, I’ll be picking produce out of this garden.
GRANT: If you know someone that would enjoy this information, please send them a link to GrowingDeer. Whether you’re working in a garden or doing some wildlife habitat improvement projects, I hope you take time to get outside this week and enjoy Creation. But more importantly, take time every day to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.