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GRANT: February 20th and we’re still chasing hogs, looking for sheds, but moving into our spring habitat management actions, because what we do now impacts deer season this fall.
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GRANT: Last week, while I was out of state, Adam went back to our friend’s ranch, about an hour west of here, scouting for those hogs.
ADAM: So we’ve been scouting around – we comin’ up the hill, we noticed some rooting. Then, we kept coming a little farther, and the more, and more, now we’re at a big circle where they’ve just completely like wiped out the Eagle Seed beans. From a deer manager’s perspective, this is exactly why you want to remove hogs and we’re at the early stages, so we’re trying to eliminate ‘em before population gets built up, built up and they start wiping out whole fields instead of little circles here. So, hopefully we can take care of this problem before it gets out of hand.
GRANT: Hogs have an extremely good sense of smell. You’ve got to remember, they make their living rooting and smelling food and insects below ground level throughout much of the year. That nose is better than a whitetail’s nose, and it takes a little extra precaution to get in there and be successful.
ADAM: And you can see that all this; you can see that field; you can see that – that’s where we saw ‘em, right there, wasn’t it?
GRANT: The set up Adam’s confident in may require a little bit longer shot than what we originally thought, so I’m switching to a .308 with my Razorback ammunition so I can reach out there and touch ‘em a little bit further. Nothing like long distance pork.
GRANT: In addition to potentially lining up a hunt or two in other states, I really enjoy doing most of my hunting right here at home on The Proving Grounds. One huge advantage of hunting the home turf, so to speak, is you get to learn deer movement, and you can learn how to make new sets, or new stands, to capitalize on all the information you’ve gained from previous hunts.
GRANT: Just this week, we were able to do just that, capitalize on past information to make an improvement for future hunts.
GRANT: There’s a saddle, or a low spot, on Boomerang Ridge that we know deer tend to go through, year after year, but we-it hasn’t been a friendly spot for hunting.
GRANT: That saddle’s pretty broad, probably over 100 yards and it was really tough to pinpoint where the deer were going through within bow range, so we come up with a solution to solve visibility and maybe limit the deer to a smaller portion of the saddle to make it better for both bow and gun hunting.
GRANT: Now, the wind tends to swirl in this saddle, but it’d be a great gun hunting location ‘cause we get far enough away to hunt this least path of resistance, or this bottleneck. But these stump sprouts block our view, and it doesn’t take any size of a sprout to deflect the bullet. You never want to shoot in any brush, so great off season project to come out here, remove these stump sprouts. But if we’re not cautious, they’ll be back three feet tall before hunting season this fall.
GRANT: Well this tree was probably 50, 60 years old and it’s got that large root system feeding these little sprouts and they will grow rapidly. If we just cut these off, that’s not enough trauma to kill that root system, nor will a prescribed fire kill that root system. So to open up this area for a shooting lane, we’ve got to physically cut these and then spray each sprout to make sure that herbicide gets in there and kills the root system.
GRANT: It’s really important to pick the correct herbicide for the species you’re trying to kill. Rarely does one herbicide kill all species, nor do you want to use, necessarily, a herbicide like that. There’s a lot of native grass, or other little plants, in here that we want to protect, so today we’ve selected Remedy and we’re using it at the appropriate ratio, based on what the label says, mixed with diesel fuel. We’ll cut this off, paint it actually, kill that area, and move on.
GRANT: When doing a basal, or a stump cut treatment, it’s really important to remember that the only thing alive, or the active area where herbicide will work, is the very outer layer called the cambium and that’s where nutrients are transferred up and down through the tree. The easiest method I have found to ensure you get good coverage on these little stumps is to take a sponge brush, saturate it with your herbicide mixture, and just then paint it on top. Just a simple spray mist may or may not cover that cambium level, but using the sponge brush will make sure you get good coverage where the herbicide needs to go and that sprout will not block your view again.
GRANT: But taking the brush we just cut to create a little shooting lane is an excellent opportunity to make that bottleneck. We’re going to string this brush along and make it a little brush fence row, if you will, or a little pinch point to kind of encourage the deer to walk in a certain area than over a couple hundred yard area, making it easier to predict where they will be come this fall when it’s bow season.
GRANT: But this is a great time of year to get family and friends out, do a little habitat work, improve the environment, but it’s just as important to learn the natural, or the travel corridors, and travel patterns of deer using the property.
GRANT: A case in point. Just this last week, we had a buck that we affectionately call Pumpkin Face, do something really cool. Pumpkin Face showed up at a food plot we call Boom Back and used the trophy rock with both antlers on, on February 12th.
GRANT: We didn’t capture any pictures of Pumpkin Face on February 13th. February 14th, a little snow comes in, and he’s back at the same trophy rock in Boom Back food plot with one antler on. He had shed his left antler.
GRANT: But three hours later, he’s at Hidden Valley One, where I had a Gallagher fence protecting the food plot throughout most of the season, so the forage is a lot taller and he’s found that gap in the fence going in perfectly, and that tells me he went all the way over the mountain and in a valley. On February 15th he’s in Big Boom food plot, which is on the opposite side of the original pictures in Boom Back food plot, still with one antler. So now he’s went a couple of days with one antler on and one antler off, easy to identify, showing us a travel pattern between three food plots. You can bet other bucks are using that same pattern. Tracy and Crystal will be out there shed hunting and I’ll be out there looking for potential stand sites for this fall.
GRANT: This week, I had a couple of different guys ask the same question – and that question was, “What time of year should I put my mineral out, or how important is it that I have a Trophy Rock out year ‘round?”
GRANT: To benefit my herd the most, I make sure I’ve got Trophy Rock out year ‘round so they got access to quality minerals on a 365 basis. Allowing them to store everything they need in their skeletal system and use it when they need it the most.
GRANT: Deer are a little different than humans in that they can store minerals in their skeletal system like humans do, but then release it when they need it – like growing antlers, or producing fawns.
GRANT: Whether it’s tracks in the snow, or tracks in the mud during the spring rains, I know they’re using that Trophy Rock year ‘round. It’s all positive and no negatives, so I don’t know why you wouldn’t have it out year ‘round if that’s legal where you live.
GRANT: Whether you’re making sure you got plenty of Trophy Rocks out, or cutting some shooting lanes for this fall, it’s a great time of year to get out and enjoy Creation. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.