Managing for White-Tailed Deer: Velvet Racks and Improving Timber Tracks (Episode 345 Transcript)

This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.

GRANT: Antlers are really starting to take shape during July. In fact, by mid to late July, antlers are almost fully formed and a buck switches to calcifying antlers versus growing more inches. This is one reason we really push our Reconyx cameras hard during July and check them frequently so we can determine which hit list bucks are still here at The Proving Grounds.

GRANT: Given that antlers are growing rapidly this time of year, it excites a lot of deer hunters, including me, to start preparing for deer season.

ANNOUNCER: GrowingDeer is brought to you by Bass Pro Shops. Also by Reconyx, Trophy Rock, Eagle Seed, Nikon, Winchester, Dead Down Wind, Antler Dirt, LaCrosse Footwear, BloodSport Arrows, Flatwood Natives, Morrell Targets, Non-Typical Wildlife Solutions, Hook’s Custom Calls, Montana Decoys, Summit Treestands, Drake Non-Typical Clothing, Howes Lubricator, Genesis No-Till Drill, LEM Game Processing, Fourth Arrow, G5 Broadheads, Prime Bows, and Redneck Hunting Blinds.

GRANT: We keep our Reconyx cameras in the field year around, but we’re especially excited during July. Bucks are really drawn to mineral stations during July. So, by placing our Reconyx over Trophy Rock, we’re almost guaranteed to get pictures or video of almost every single buck using The Proving Grounds.

GRANT: Take a look at this buck. Unfortunately, this is the only footage we have of him so far this year, but he’s hanging out in the same area a great buck we used to call Chainsaw hung out. We hope to capture more footage soon and determine if this is Chainsaw or another big buck has moved into the area.

GRANT: It appears this buck is developing several sticker points. There was a buck we named Handy in this same area last year that also had several non-typical points. In a couple weeks, this buck’s antlers should be developed enough that we can confirm if it’s Handy or another mature buck in that area.

GRANT: If this buck is Handy, we had a lot of history with him last year – capturing a lot of videos and images. Hopefully this year, we’ll get a better look at Handy in person.

GRANT: Even though it’s still summertime, it appears this buck has a deep, well-developed chest which makes his legs appear short. We’re almost certain he’s at least four years old and maybe older.

GRANT: These are some great looking bucks for timber country and we can’t wait to see how many more inches they put on during the next couple of weeks.

GRANT: In addition to checking trail cameras, now is the time to start making sure all your gear is ready for deer season.

GRANT: Adam and I made a trip to our local Bass Pro store this morning because they have an indoor 100 yard rifle range and it’s the perfect set up for sighting in your deer gun.

GRANT: We’ve been getting some great video of velvet bucks. Deer season is gonna come on soon, so it’s the perfect time to make sure our rifles are sighted in. Came up to Bass Pro where everything’s perfect and if our guns need any tweaking, we’ve got the gunsmith right here.

GRANT: Of course, every year after deer season, we take our gun all apart and clean it ‘cause it’s had a lot of days in the field. Put it back together – should be spot on at about two inches high. Let’s try it out and see. Always better to find out at the range than it is in the deer woods.

GRANT: One thing that is important when you’re sighting in is to make sure your gun is zeroed at the rest without having to put a lot of pressure or twisting on it.

GRANT: When you’re in a vice, kind of like the Caldwell Lead Sled, and you put a lot of pressure, you can actually put a little pressure on the barrel which might make the gun shoot differently than an open hold like you would typically have deer hunting.

GRANT: So, I want it setting – crosshairs right on the bullseye on the target without me having to really push on it a lot and that will give me a true sighting in of where the gun is really shooting.

GRANT: It’s always important to wear hearing protection when shooting. I wish I had as a young man because now I have constant ringing in my ears but, especially, when you’re at an indoor range. All that noise is coming back out the tube and is amplified. So, definitely when you’re inside, wear hearing protection.

GRANT: Awesome groups. Both shots are touching each other. Two bullets – one expanded hole. We’re three inches high and one inch to the left. This is a .308. I want it to be sighted in at two inches high. So, at 100 yards – right in kill zone; 200 yards, approximately on a .308, it’d be dead perfect; and at 300 yards, about seven and a half inches low. So that means, no matter where I’m aiming in the kill zone on a white-tailed deer – from zero to 300 yards – I’ve got meat at the end of the shot.

GRANT: Fire in the hole.

GRANT: Second two shots were at the right elevation, but I went just a little far to the right. I’m gonna bring it back so we’ll be dead center.

GRANT: Fire in the hole.

GRANT: We have a great group. Looks like the last shot is perfect. I’m gonna study with the spotting scope to make sure. Probably fire one more and call it good.

GRANT: Once I got the rifle sighted in, I wanted to check out another neat range at Bass Pro.

UNKNOWN: (Inaudible)

GRANT: It’s a good thing we’re in the business of hunting deer and not using pistols because that wasn’t very pretty. But it’s a great place to practice and learn here at the Bass Pro pistol range.

GRANT: Well, you can see, I got way more than a fist size pattern here and only two in the red. I need a little time at the range.

GRANT: I enjoy shooting throughout the year. But I shoot very purposely when I’m sighting in my rifle and practicing for deer hunting.

GRANT: A couple of weeks ago, Matt and I went to Meridian, Mississippi. We met up with Mr. Wayne Powell who had recently purchased a property in the area specifically for timber management and deer hunting.

GRANT: Okay. So, a couple things that you brought up is – would you say that timber is the primary value and deer the secondary value?


GRANT: Okay. And – that just lets me know where to go.

WAYNE: Well, and, and, and here’s the thing, too. This property is not like our other properties. Most of our properties look like this.

GRANT: Right.

WAYNE: I mean, it’s, it’s a pine plantation… (Fades Out)

GRANT: Like most properties throughout the Southeast, the timber here was a mix of pines and hardwoods.

GRANT: Matt and I traveled down to Meridian, Mississippi today to work with Wayne on his property and our goal throughout the day and then the next week – making a plan and a map – is create a habitat and hunting management plan to help Wayne meet his objectives.

GRANT: Wayne, why don’t you just briefly tell us what your objectives are for this property?

WAYNE: Well, I’m trying to improve the, uh, timber habitat and the wildlife habitat for the game. Um, just trying to give everything an opportunity to express its potential.

GRANT: That’s great. And so, you’ve owned the land a couple of years now. Done a few things – which you wisely said, “Hey, man, before I start cutting more trees or doing this and that, let’s get a overall game plan.” You wouldn’t want to build a house without a plan and you don’t want to manage a wildlife or timber. That’s a big investment. And you want to maximize your time. Wayne’s out here working a lot, doing a lot of work for himself. So, he wants to maximize what he’s doing to make sure he’s going in the right direction. So, we’ve done a little bit of time this morning – really digging down his goals and objectives and understand the map. We’re gonna hop on an ATV and go tour the property. See it, touch it, feel it and start developing a plan.

WAYNE: (Inaudible) …a lot of what I’ve had to do up to now is to get it to where you could ride around. I mean, all these (Inaudible) were just.

GRANT: Yeah.

WAYNE: I mean, you look how deep this is.

GRANT: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

WAYNE: But anyway, all of that – well, there’s another about 20 acres… (Fades Out)

WAYNE: All of this is high ground right in here. So.

GRANT: So, could we get four or five acres right here, you think?

WAYNE: It’s a possibility. It’s a possibility. So, we’ll…

GRANT: Matt, when you map that, get us as many acres as you can there.

WAYNE: Okay. Would be excellent for a food plot, but it would have to be a clear cut there. And that’s some of the better stuff. And you see how it looks. So, maybe not that.

GRANT: Uh. I like it.

WAYNE: It’s flat. I mean, it’s…

GRANT: I like it.

WAYNE: …nice.

GRANT: You’re gonna get your value out of timber now.

WAYNE: So, go ahead and clear cut a spot?

GRANT: I would.

WAYNE: Even though it’s right here.

GRANT: Even (Inaudible).

WAYNE: Right here, right here.

GRANT: Yeah.

WAYNE: On this.

GRANT: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

GRANT: Wayne, Matt and I are continuing to tour his property. We come across a pretty nice stand of mature pines. And you can tell it’s been thinned in the past. When they thinned this, they cut every fifth row. You can see a row behind us where all the trees were removed. And then reached in and did some selective cutting off both sides. Very common forestry practice throughout the southern pine belt.

GRANT: But what they didn’t do is a follow up treatment to keep all these sweetgums from encroaching. So, what should be a beautiful pine stand somewhat similar to what we showed you at Moss Hammock in Alabama a couple of months ago, is now solid closed canopy down below. Nothing growing on the forest floor – practically nothing. No cover, no food. Very low quality wildlife habitat.

GRANT: We’re gonna prescribe for Wayne to thin some wood out here. Give him some money to use for other projects and get some more sunshine coming down to the forest floor.

GRANT: After we thin, we’re gonna spray a herbicide that takes out these low quality hardwoods, but leaves the pines.

GRANT: And then there’s some real magic to this stand. Because these pre-existing fifth row thinnings – after it’s sprayed and these low quality hardwoods are dead, we’ll do a prescribed fire and Wayne will be able to plant these fifth rows with soybeans, clover and other crops. And that’s gonna be food right in the middle of bedding.

GRANT: So, you’ve got four or five rows of pines and they’re gonna grow up waist tall in forbs and grasses. Be incredible cover and native vegetation. Then you’re gonna have cultivated food. Food/cover, food/cover, food/cover. We’ve showed you this before. It’s incredible habitat and incredible hunting.

GRANT: You just kind of stalk down the road, peer in here and look. If there’s no critters, go down to the next one. Get the wind in your face, go back and forth. And it’s some of the funnest hunting I’ve ever experienced.

GRANT: So, what we’re prescribing is gonna yield a little income; it’s gonna make a lot better wildlife quality. Let the residual trees grow quicker and we take out these low quality hardwoods – they’re competing for nutrients and moisture that the pines are wanting. The residual pines will grow quicker for that next income bout – seven/ten years from now – and make it much better for wildlife.

MATT: There it is. That’s Mississippi mud.

GRANT: Pine management – thinning – commonly meets two objectives. First, when the pine stand is thin so each canopy has sunshine all around it, it allows that tree to grow quicker. Secondly, some of that sunshine will now reach the forest floor, allowing for herbaceous vegetation to grow which is great wildlife food and cover.

GRANT: Thinning alone rarely will meet these objectives. When you thin throughout most of the Southeast, sweetgums will fill up all the voids. And sweetgums don’t offer wildlife much cover or food value. So, following a thinning, it’s almost always necessary in the Southeast to use a herbicide application.

GRANT: The treatment we prescribe doesn’t hurt pines at all. In fact, it helps them grow quicker by taking the hardwood competition out. Better wildlife habitat and a better economic return. No one can argue with that.

GRANT: This is one of the previous landowners. Of course, these were great deer for the day. But this is not Wayne’s goals and objectives. And, of course, looking at the basal diameter – the basal diameter or where the antlers come out of the skull – is somewhat of an indicator in age, because the deer’s bases get larger as the deer matures, in general.

GRANT: So, when I look here, these were almost all two year-old, maybe a couple of three year-olds down here, bucks. Wayne is willing to let deer mature to four or five years old. That, plus the habitat improvements we’re laying out – no doubt in my mind Wayne will be thumping some big deer in a couple of years.

GRANT: We returned back to the office and created a very detailed habitat management plan and map for Mr. Powell. We look forward to hearing from him as he implements the plan and watches his herd and habitat improve.

GRANT: If you’re interested in having someone from the GrowingDeer Team examine your property and help create a plan, sign up for the fall Field Days. And once you’re registered, send us an email to schedule a time and one of us will sit down with you and start creating a custom plan.

GRANT: As part of this, bring current pictures of the bucks on your property and we’ll estimate their age and help you develop a hit list.

GRANT: We’ll also be doing a full tour of The Proving Grounds. This is a great opportunity for you to see the ongoing projects we have and understand before, during and after processes of the same habitat management techniques we may recommend for your Proving Grounds.

GRANT: To take advantage of this opportunity, simply register for the fall Field Days and then send an email to Tell us the email you used to register for Field Days and your name and within 48 hours, we’ll send you back a time that we’re gonna sit down and go over all your maps and data and photos and spend some time creating a plan for you.

GRANT: We’re super excited to help you develop a custom hunting and habitat management program for your Proving Grounds.

GRANT: We’ll select one of the properties that has a lot of potential and highlight it Saturday night at our annual banquet at the Bass Pro store in Springfield, Missouri.

GRANT: I hope you have a chance to get out and see some bucks and velvet this week, but most importantly, I hope you take time to enjoy Creation and slow down each day and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.