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GRANT: It’s Friday, February 11th, and I think the deer here at The Proving Grounds think we’ve given them a Valentine’s gift this year, especially, in this part of our property. We put up this Gallagher food plot protection fence this spring when we planted these soybeans. We’ve never had luck getting these soybeans above ankle tall in this very small, about an eighth of an acre size, food plot. It’s simply too many deer in this area for such a small source of food. But by putting the fence up, it allowed the beans to reach all the way to maturity and make great pods, even in a drought year.
GRANT: Now, we opened up the fence – or opened up the gate – late in bow season, and it had had tremendous amount of beans. And now, that we’re in February, and we’ve had all these winter storms in the Midwest this year, these pods have just been a delicacy to the white-tailed deer and turkey in this area. It’s one of the things I’ve noticed when Brad and I are going around today reviewing our food plots and planning for next year, that we can grow really high quality food, back in the woods, next to the bedding areas, using these Gallagher fences, and open ‘em up for hunting season, or when we want to hunt. If you’ve got some hunting locations that you just can’t get the food up to make it a really great hunting location, consider putting up a Gallagher fence next year and preserving that food until you want the deer to have access to it.
GRANT: We’re doing some post-season scouting today, and we’re looking at sign, and the snow, and where they’re digging in food plots, what not. And this dry pond is right in front of the stand where I harvested Crab Claw 10 back in November. And there was a bunch of sign here, at that time – tracks, scat, scrapes, and rubs – all right here. It was clearly a hub of activity, but right now, there’s barely a couple of old deer tracks going through here – nothing fresh and certainly no major trail. Not an accumulation of deer sign here at all, and this is a great point that post-season scouting doesn’t always give you a true picture of what will be going on during deer season. It’s great to get out and see the deer sign, see what’s going on, but always think it through. Now, why would a deer be there in October, November, December? Post-season scouting is a great tool, as long as it’s paired with good thinking and knowledge of your property.
GRANT: A lot of times when I hear people talking about providing mineral to the deer herd, they’re talking about providing it during the hunting season. And that’s certainly a critical time of year, but all months – all 12 months out of the year – are critical to provide mineral to your deer. Deer store minerals at small amounts, day after day in their skeletal system, and then mobilize that to grow antlers, or produce fawns, or to make milk at that time of year. They take it in so slowly that they can’t get enough in during antler growth time. So they store it all year long, in their skeletal system, and then, mobilize it. It’s one reason I really like Trophy Rock with the 60 plus different trace minerals. It’s covering the bases, no matter the fertilizer program or where I am in America. Trophy Rock allows me to provide those trace minerals on a year round basis. Now, I love using my Reconyx cameras to monitor these sites, and see the deer are coming to ‘em, but when the snow’s on, it’s obvious, even in February, in harsh conditions, they’re coming to the mineral.
GRANT: And a real important thing to remember – cause right here, we’re right by a pond, a perfect example – some people really claim deer only go to salt when they need a lot of water. And this is pretty good evidence that they also need mineral, and seek mineral, because the pond right here is totally frozen over. There’s not a source of water there. And of course, all the vegetation around is really low in moisture right now. So they’re not consuming a lot of water through vegetation they would eat, standing grain, cause it’s really dry. And there’s not a lot of freestanding water, because it’s been zero, or in the single digits, for days on end at night, so most of the water’s frozen. They’re still, obviously, using this Trophy Rock. So provide it on a year round basis, and give your herd an opportunity to express their full potential.
GRANT: I’ve been receiving a lot of questions about when you should start shed hunting.
GRANT: The first factor is the healthier the deer are in your neighborhood, the longer they’re gonna hold their antlers. It’s just simply a matter of stress versus health.
GRANT: So, if your deer are eating grain, and really healthy, and the temperatures haven’t been too bad, and the snow’s not too deep, probably a pretty high percent are still holding antlers. The larger bucks that were more stressed during the rut tend to shed their antlers first.
GRANT: I like to search when there’s the most sheds on the ground. So I’m gonna wait ‘til about early March, late February, to start shed hunting with a lot of intensity. But I know, sometimes I’ll find one, just like this shed that’s already been found by the rodents, or coyotes, and chewed on a lot.
GRANT: We’ve scheduled our shed hunt here at The Proving Grounds this year for March 18th through the 20th. And if you’d like to join us, there’s more information on the call out right below me. I hope to see you here. We’ll have a great time. We should have plenty of sheds on the ground, by March 18th, to find.