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GRANT: A couple of weeks ago, we shared with you establishing a small hidey hole or a kill plot. And in that plot, we were planting a summer blend that needed to be planted later or when the soil was warmer than clover.
GRANT: Today I want to share with you the results of a plot I planted April 11th.
GRANT: This is a small hidey hole food plot, or another kill plot, where Daniel had a great encounter with a buck we call Octo right at last light.
GRANT: It’s on a hogback ridge; and if you’re not familiar with the term, a hogback ridge falls off really steeply. It’s just solid rock up here. It’s still a great area to have a kill plot so last spring I planted this area with another warm season mix designed to improve the soil and to provide a bit of food. It had some beans and peas and other things, but primarily big sorghums and other plants that had big root systems, a lot of biomass that will lay over and help build soil.
GRANT: During late August, we had some rain coming. We come up here and just broadcast right through that, the winter blend, and you see some of the cereal rye and the other small grains still standing from that planting.
GRANT: That’s a little bit of history and it helps explain why the clover looks so good. But let’s get up to the current time. April 10th, I used prescribed fire to remove all the duff off this plot. In these small food plots surrounded by big trees, especially big oaks like this, well when that wind starts blowing in the fall, it seems to just dump leaves in these small holes in the timber.
GRANT: If I left the weeds in here a lot of clover would get on top of the leaves and it would not survive.
GRANT: I used fire on April 10th and on April 11th rain was in the forecast. So, I came up and broadcast Eagle Seeds clover blend on this spot.
GRANT: Since then, I’ve done nothing but watch and enjoy. I haven’t added any lime or fertilizer. The reason the clover looks so good was that cycle of past crops being left on site, building nutrients in the soil.
GRANT: I prefer clover or a summer soil builder blend in these really small plots. This is less than a tenth of an acre. Because if I planted beans here – that’s my favorite summer forage for wildlife – they would wipe it out.
GRANT: When I look through this clover, there is browse just all through here where they’re eating the stems off. Well, if they browse beans like that in this small plot, it wouldn’t be very productive. But with the clover, there’s so many stems and it’s spreading out and making more stems. It can tolerate browse pressure a bit better in these small plots.
GRANT: Remember, this is a hogback, rocky ridge. With no synthetic additives, the clover looks great. And there’s more rain in the forecast. A tropical storm is going to move through, and I expect that will be enough rain to hold this clover, keep it green and lush end of July, maybe even early August.
GRANT: At that time, on this bony ridge that doesn’t have much soil built up yet, most of the clover will go dormant. That’s okay. It’s fed deer and turkey and other critters and kept them passing through this area throughout the summer.
GRANT: We get into mid-August or so, if the clover is not looking really good, and I doubt it will be, I’ll come up and broadcast a fall blend into this plot. I’ll try to time that fall planting just like I did the clover. I want to spread the seed and it rains that day or within a couple of days.
GRANT: If you spread seed on top of the soil days before rain, especially in these small plots right in the middle of timber, doves, squirrels, turkeys will just clean up a good bit of the seed. But if you plant right before rain, as soon as that seed gets moist, especially when it’s that warm, it will germinate quickly, start sprouting and you don’t have to worry about critters removing the seed.
GRANT: We’ll spread the seed right before rain during late August, early September. That will germinate and be lush again using the nitrogen out of this clover and ready to hunt come deer season.
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GRANT: A lot of y’all know my training is as a wildlife research biologist. And I still love learning. I love focusing on ways to improve hunting techniques and habitat improvement tips not only to improve wildlife – that’s really important – but also, so we can see more wildlife when we’re out hunting.
GRANT: We’re on that same hogback ridge where I planted the clover on this side of the road. On this side, I burned it off much later. I used prescribed fire to remove the leaf litter, allowed the crop to go longer. You can see how it’s standing more than it was on this side.
GRANT: Recently terminated it with herbicide because there was a lot more weeds on that side because I’d let it go so long. Over here I had the clover growing and it was choking out some of the weeds. But on this side, because I’d left it, I needed to control the weeds before I planted the next crop.
GRANT: So, here’s my study. It’s not going to be published. There’s no calculus involved. Not a lot of stats. This is for me to learn from and refine through time.
GRANT: I’ve got an established clover plot here that I established this spring. A clean seedbed. I know there’s rain coming from a tropical storm. It’s going to get here this afternoon. I’m going to broadcast in a really robust summer blend, let it germinate in a few days, and then watch it through the summer and see which one I prefer for these small hidey hole plots.
GRANT: I just use the onX to figure out how big I’m planting. This is a small area. Cameras always make it look bigger. It’s about 2,000 feet so I can determine the amount of seed I need based on that number.
GRANT: Now, it doesn’t look that way when I’m looking at onX because you see my line goes through a tree right here, but I know that canopy is hanging over the plot and I want to plant underneath it. So, just a little tip to include when you’re managing these small plots.
GRANT: So, a really simple calculation – again, you don’t need calculus for this. Just take the area you’re going to plant. Use onX to figure that. I’ve got 2,000 feet and I divide that by 43,560 – that’s the square footage in an acre – and that gives me that. And boy, that’s a big, ole, nasty number. But, I just take that times the amount of pounds I should plant per acre. And that tells me I need 1.14 pounds.
GRANT: Now I’m broadcasting. It’s really rocky. Not all the seed is going to hit where I need it to so I’m going to round that up and I’m going to plant a pound and a half – 1.5 pounds per acre.
GRANT: And in this situation, it’s so small and so rocky. If I get up to two pounds, I’m okay because again, I’m broadcasting and even before that storm comes in this afternoon, I promise you, doves, squirrels, probably some turkeys are going to be passing through going, “Oh, man, look at this buffet. I’ve got some seed that I can eat.”
GRANT: So, I’m just going to be careful here and try not to pour too much at once. Oh, I got excited there – 2.8 pounds – so I’m going to take a little out. You don’t want to plant like three or four times too much, even though it’s a small seed.
GRANT: So, you’re saying, “Grant, it’s just a couple of pounds. Just pay for it.” It’s not that. I don’t want the crop getting so thick that nothing expresses its potential. So, I’m just going to take a little seed out, put it back in the bag. And I’m just going to put that – I always make sure my gate is closed. Because I don’t want to put it in. and it runs through and it falls out on the ground. So, I just.
GRANT: Put that in here. And I’m ready to start walking and planting. Now, what I try to do is open the gate just wide enough the seeds will come out. These are not very large at all. And I try to go this way and this way.
GRANT: But this is really long and narrow. So, what I’ll probably do is do this and come back doing this to make sure I get really good coverage.
GRANT: You got to hold it high and go fast.
GRANT: I want you to see what I’m planting into and then you will do two things – appreciate how great that that clover was and when we show you this crop, you’ll go, “I can’t believe it grew on this.”
GRANT: It looks like we’re on the edge of an old quarry. It’s nothing but rock. It’s 100% rock. So, you can see why I didn’t want to drag the no-till drill through here. And I’m going to just broadcast this really heavy, let it rain, and I’ll show you the results.
GRANT: As you can see, I’m out. I’ve got this planted and that’s great. But look down in here and you can see a couple of seeds there. And the slot the seed is going out is just a bit bigger. Now, if I’d opened this up all the way, you can see it would have rain out really quickly and I would have planted way too much seed per acre, per scale. And it would have got too thick and been stunted and gross. Just too much competition, right? Like putting 50 cows in a 10 x 10 square. There’s just not enough food. Well, the same is true with plants.
GRANT: So, I want to open my slot, slightly bigger than the biggest seed, start planting.
GRANT: I love hunting hidey hole food plots that have more than one attraction. Maybe it’s an exact location. It’s a staging area for deer to come through there, bottleneck, or pinch point through there on their way to a much larger feeding area where they will feed during the night.
GRANT: Another one might be acorns. You’re talking food plot and acorns. Well, yes. Big oaks on the edge of a small opening in the timber, like a hidey hole food plot. Well, that canopy will reach out chasing the sun.
GRANT: And when it reaches out, of course, the limbs get much longer and a much bigger, fuller canopy than a tree in a forest where it’s just closed canopy all around it. There’s competition. This tree will make more acorns – there’s more branches, more places. And because it’s got more leaves, it can photosynthesize more. That acorn quality may be a bit better.
GRANT: Just a slight bit better means deer want to feed here than way off in the timber and I can hunt here. A huge advantage.
GRANT: Father’s Day is almost here, and I just want to take a moment and wish all the fellow dads Happy Father’s Day. And for those of you that aren’t in the dad stage, take a moment and wish your dad a Happy Father’s Day.
GRANT: Maybe you didn’t have a dad or you didn’t have a good dad. You still have what I have, The Greatest Dad in our Heavenly Father. It’s important to have a relationship with Him. Happy Father’s Day, everyone.
GRANT: There’s literally projects going on The Proving Grounds all the time. If you’d like to stay up to date on the current projects and techniques we’re using, check out our social media.
GRANT: The clover is looking great and with the rain from this tropical storm headed our way, we’ll probably have enough moisture to carry it into mid or even late summer.
GRANT: I love seeing a new crop doing so well and it often reminds me that a seed – I mean, it looks dead, right? Looks like there’s nothing there? Can get buried and spring to life. Well, that’s just one way Creation yells to us about the Creator.
GRANT: I hope you take time to get outside 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.