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GRANT: May 29th, I want to take a small break from our normal format because June 9th is a very special date for me. June 9th, 20 years ago, I received a kidney transplant. I’m a kidney transplant patient. Every day I take medications to stay alive. You probably see me wear big floppy hats or usually long sleeve shirts because the medications I’m on make me very susceptible to skin cancer and other forms of cancer. There are people today, all throughout America that are waiting for an organ donation and they are going to die without that gift of life. If you like GrowingDeer.tv and the free information we offer, I really challenge you to consider being an organ donor. You can give a kidney to someone you don’t even know, it’s the greatest gift you can personally give them. It’s the second greatest gift I’ve ever received. I hope you will consider being an organ donor.
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GRANT: It’s about a seven hour drive from my place to The Kentucky Proving Grounds, so we got in the truck fairly early last Monday morning and took right off to The Kentucky Proving Grounds to start several projects.
GRANT: I want to officially introduce our audience this week to our two wildlife students this summer, Andrew, from Missouri University, and John, from Emporia State in Kansas.
GRANT: Trusty Adam taking us safely. We’re headed to The Kentucky Proving Grounds, a bunch of work to do, replenish all the Trophy Rocks, move all our Reconyx cameras, from turkey scouting to deer scouting, hanging a bunch of Muddy stands, and a big project we’re starting, a timber harvest of 150 acres.
GRANT: There’s some pine stands on The Kentucky Proving Grounds that are 18 years old. They’ve been planted there 18 years; of course, the seedlings were a year old when they were planted. So, these trees are 19 years old, thick and overcrowded and not growing that rapidly anymore.
GRANT: Good timber management is almost always good wildlife management and an overstocked stand means all the canopies are rubbing, no sunshine hitting the forest floor, few hardwood saplings, eeking out a living down here, but nothing for deer, turkey, and other game species to have cover or food from. And the only remedy to that is remove a lot of this wood, thin a bunch of these trees or take the trees out, open up the canopy or where the crowns are touching, let sunlight into the forest floor and the magic of sunlight will cause new vegetation to grow at ground level.
GRANT: Who knows what this leaf is?
GRANT: Harvesting excess pine trees not only benefits the residual trees, but gives revenue to the landowner and helps me do better for the habitat as a wildlife biologist.
GRANT: Think, you know, ten years down the road, how’s this gonna look ten years down the road? Have vision.
GRANT: So, Mr. Hamby, the landowner’s objective here at The Kentucky Proving Grounds, is to improve wildlife habitat and maintain a healthy forest. So, I’ve designed a thinning that will leave the best trees as opposed to high grading where someone comes in and takes the very best trees, makes a little bit more money now, but leaves the forest in poor shape. Leaves the worst trees to reproduce if they’re doing a long term or grow but not be as high commercial value later on. So, we’re doing TSI, Timber Stand Improvement, taking the bad foreign trees, the low quality trees, and leaving the best trees.
GRANT: We’re gonna start fanning back out about right here. So why don’t you hit this one here.
GRANT: I had scouted these pine stands and knew where a couple level areas were in there. And I want to clear cut those flatter areas, remove the stumps, and convert that to a productive food plot.
GRANT: We know you’re on a right track when you’re improving the habitat in an area where you find a shed. Deer obviously use it, we’ve been seeing a lot of scat but this is always better than scat, isn’t it?
GRANT: So, little trail going around the edge of this hill. Right at the edge, we’re making a food plot and that’s typical for bucks to skirt the edge of right at the top, they’re gonna get where that wind tumbles over. All right, we’ll give this to Mr. Hamby and uh, we’ll write on there where we found it and all that stuff and keep on marking.
GRANT: Thursday, May 24th, just two days after the boys and I flagged this food plot here at The Kentucky Proving Grounds, and although it looks like a mess, we’ve made huge progress toward turning this from a biological desert to a tremendous wildlife oasis.
GRANT: As the wood is moving out and the landowner, of course, is making money, I’m thinking about the improvement to the habitat.
GRANT: So, we’re taking an area that had no cover and no food and in this part of the area, we’re going to convert it to a tremendous food, a soybean field, an Eagle Seed bean field, and in the rest of it, the steeper slopes, we’ll thin the trees, allowing sunshine down and maybe herbaceous plants to come up, making cover about waste deep or so. It’d be a tremendous area for deer, quail, turkey, rabbits and other wildlife species.
GRANT: There are several indicators that a timber stand is ready to harvest but with pine trees, it’s pretty simple, especially Plantation Pine, or pines that have been planted to be harvested; planted in rows at a certain density per acre, just like we would corn or soybeans.
GRANT: One obvious way you can tell from a pickup window is if the crowns are all touching, we’ve talked about that earlier, or you’re starting to get a little depth in the crowns, how high up the tree that all the limbs have naturally pruned or died because of lack of sunshine is another factor. You know, you see a pine tree out in the yard; it’d have limbs all the way down to the ground if there’s no competition around it because the whole tree’s getting sunshine. But we look at these mature pines right behind me; you notice they’ve self-pruned about two-thirds of the way up or so, due to lack of sunshine. But another way is right after logging is started, we look at the inside here, and look how far apart the growth rings are and the first three, four, five years. We go one, two, three, four, five, and we can see those trees are putting on a quarter to a half-inch of diameter each year. Once we got here in the last years, the growth rings are so close together I can barely tell them apart. Now, I know from records that this pine stand is 18 years old. There’s 18 years since this sapling has been put in the ground and they were a year old from the nursery, so this tree is 19 years old. But the first few years, they were putting on tremendous growth. Healthy, vibrant, everything’s going good but you can tell they’re grossly overcrowded these last few years and overcrowded trees are stressed just like overcrowded deer or other wildlife species. More susceptible to disease, they’re a little weaker, more susceptible to wind damage or hail damage or ice or snow damage. So, not only is this good wildlife practice, thinning these trees at this stage of growth, it’s also very good timber practice, releasing these trees, as you will, giving them more sun and nutrients per tree, where they will grow faster, be healthier and more insect and disease resistant.
GRANT: Course these are all the same age cause this was planted, this was hand-planted this area. So, they’re all the same age, different diameters of the wood means that tree had a little bit different microsite index. A little bit more moisture, a little bit more fertility, less moisture, growing in the shade more, whatever happened, but one of the big differences, is simply the difference between the north side of the ridge and the south side of the ridge. South sides gonna have more moisture evaporated so the tree can’t grow as much. North side is better growing conditions.
GRANT: Some people don’t like putting out treestands this time of year and it certainly is hot and gnarly and snakes and ticks and chiggers and everything else is out. But when you really look at a property there’s only so many places that we can approach and hunt that the deer want to use. Big difference between where deer move across the property and where deer move in a predictable way that the hunter can also access without alerting the deer.
GRANT: But always most important is the landowner’s observations and Mr. Hamby has spent a huge amount of time on his property watching deer, guiding his family and friends, and just putting common deer movement together. Bedding area, feeding area, valleys where the wind’s swirling, ridge tops where the wind’s more consistent. Adam, Andrew and John were able to place several Muddy ladder stands, trim the lanes, get ‘em all ready so we can go and get up in the stand and quietly hunt this fall.
GRANT: A great opportunity coming up for us all to share and learn together, be a field trip we’re hosting right at The Kentucky Proving Grounds where you can see a lot of work we’ve completed last week and more work we’ll do throughout the summer. August 12th is on a Sunday, the day after the Land and Wildlife Expo in Nashville, Tennessee. So if you’re going to the expo you can come right up and join us and we’ll look at our hunting set ups, treestand placement, how we built ponds, how we do our food plots, even a timber harvest, a great opportunity to learn and share with those of us at GrowingDeer and other very good deer managers and hunters is join us for the field trip, August 12th at The Kentucky Proving Grounds.
GRANT: One thing about being a student of deer hunting and deer management techniques, it’s a great way to learn more and more about Creation and The Creator. I hope you have a chance to get out and enjoy it this week. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.
ADAM: But we’re all ready getting ready for this fall. Here at The Kentucky Proving Grounds. Aww. Did you all ready, did you roll that..on that? Okay.
ADAM: Okay. Ooo. Because Grant and I. Sorry, that really was distracting. What was that?
GRANT: This plot kind of winds along this ridged. Whoa baby, got too much winding in there. (Laughter)
TERRY: Hey. Hey, did you get this? (Laughter)
GRANT: I’m not doing that. It wouldn’t look to good on mine.
JOHN: Setting out Trophy Rocks for some. And deer are searching for those and I lost it. Setting up our Reconyx Trail Cameras and setting out our Trophy Rocks.
JOHN: Is that good enough? (Laughter)