Predators and Prey (Episode 122 Transcript)

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

GRANT: March 16th, trapping season’s over. Turkey season’s gettin’ ready to start, but we’ve been working all winter long, as a family, removing predators, so hopefully, the turkeys will have a little bit higher success rate and having successful poults this spring.

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GRANT: There’s a good bit of conflict right now, among wildlife professionals, whether removing predators has any benefit to game species or not.

GRANT: I’d been attending the same scientific meeting since 1987 and I’ve never seen 12 of the 30 plus papers on one subject. Unequivocally, coyotes predating on deer is a hot topic among research biologists, throughout much of the whitetails’ range.

GRANT: Some of the studies, with really sound scientific design, reported 60 plus percent of all fawns being killed by coyotes within a few months of their birth. Unequivocally, coyotes are impacting deer and other game species, throughout much of the whitetails’ range.

GRANT: Raccoons have been shown to be awesome nest predators, so this year, my family and I took a bigger effort in reducing the raccoon population, in hopes of having a little bit larger turkey population in the seasons to come.

GRANT: My two daughters, Raleigh and Rae, and I have had some great memories running the trap line together.

GRANT: And in the summertime. In the spring, they’ll shed all this hair and replace it with a much shorter…

GRANT: It’s a pretty simple discussion, to me. Will my turkeys benefit from having more raccoons out there? I can unequivocally say, “No, they won’t benefit.” But I know there may be some benefit to having less raccoons out there. No benefit for having more, probably a benefit to having less, and my family get to partake in a renewable resource by removing predators, cause more are gonna move in. To me, trapping is a no-lose situation.

GRANT: A majority of these raccoons, the opossums and this skunk, were caught using this very simple Duke dog proof trap.

GRANT: If you don’t have a lot of trapping experience, this is a great model to start with, cause they’re very simple to use, you’re not gonna catch your neighbor’s dog, you can just use cheap dog food as bait and it’s obviously, a very effective trap.

GRANT: Trapping, or predator control, is certainly not a solve all to wildlife management. I put most of my energy into good habitat management, and then game management, and predator management is third on my list.

GRANT: To have an effective predator removal program, you need to trap year after year. Now, you can hobby trap, or collect furs, a year and take a break, and do it again, but if you really want to do predator management, it’s a year to year process, because young of the year are gonna disperse into that void, where there’s fewer predators.

GRANT: Oh, yeah. Man, that’s a fat coon. Though there’s no doubt in my mind, we’ve done some good, and a few more turkey nests are gonna survive this year, we would do even better if we were allowed to remove predators right during the nesting and fawning season.

GRANT: I hope you consider the benefits of trapping, not only from a game management point of view, but just another reason to get outside and enjoy Creation.

GRANT: This weekend, Tracy and Crystal found a skeleton of a buck and just told me where it was, but said it had already shed, so I was waiting for Monday morning to go see what they had found.

GRANT: I think it’s right across the creek, right over there, if I’m understanding them right.

GRANT: We found Ms. Tracy’s find. Clearly died after it shed but bucks shed early this year. Coyotes have definitely cleaned it up. I’m not saying coyotes killed it; I can’t tell that, but they’ve certainly had their way with it, removing these larger pieces of bone, you just don’t get rats and squirrels doing that that quick and clearly, it was, it died after it had shed. Looks like real clean shed, looks pretty healthy and uh, clean; two and a half year old. Large pedicles, or antler bases, for a two and a half year old, so looked like a buck, that at least some point, was very healthy, was on its way and is no more.

GRANT: One thing I always want to look at, when I come on a buck skeleton, especially a head, is for weakness of the bones in the skull, or places that look like maybe I poured acid on there and it’d eaten away. That would be an indicator of a brain abscess.

GRANT: I don’t see that at all on this deer. But I don’t think it was poached, because there’s no antlers, no reason to poach it. It could have had a injury, or a predators killed it, other than that, it looks very, very healthy and I don’t suspect disease was an issue.

GRANT: Sometimes, you will just find a pelvic girdle. Maybe this has been broken off where coyotes have bit it in half and drug it off, fighting over it, or whatever. But you can still tell the gender of a deer, just by the pelvic girdle. If it was fresh and this had not been chewed off, you got to remember that both the digestive tract and the birth canal pass through here on a female, making this a broad “U” or necessitating a broad “U” for that fawn to pass through. On a male, if this hadn’t been chewed off, this would be a sharp “V” with only allowing the digestive tract to pass through. But scavengers and predators, you can tell, have had their way and really chewed most of this off, so we couldn’t identify this as a male or female, based on the pelvic girdle on that structure. But we could turn it over, just a little bit, and see this – the tuberosities on this side of the pelvic girdle and that would connect down to the testes and hold them up in place, actually.

GRANT: You know, on any given whitetail population, free ranging wild population, you can kind of expect 10 percent, plus or minus, of each age class is going to die from non-hunter causes each year. Your hunting mortality would be added on top of that, but we know, without a shadow of a doubt, because we’re harvesting more record book bucks now than we ever have, since we’ve started keeping records, that passing up bucks and letting them grow – yes, you’re gonna lose a few along the way, but you’ll end up with more mature whitetails out there to interact with, see scrapes and rubs, and coming to grunt calls, and rattling. No doubt about it, letting them go will let way more grow. Being a deer manager doesn’t mean that everything’s gonna go perfectly. Being a deer manger means you understand the roles that environment, and climate, and everything that happens, impacts the deer herd and we try to limit those impacts to have maximum enjoyment and the best health for our deer herd.

GRANT: One of the things we can do as deer managers is limit the causes of death, or competition, that whitetails face. A close friend of mine, and a friend of, Heath Martin, and his wife, Lindsey, did just that this past week.

GRANT: You may remember Heath ‘cause he came up to The Proving Grounds and went shed hunting with his dog recently.

GRANT: Heath’s wife, Lindsey, is just getting into hunting and there’s nothing better than to take a new hunter hunting throughout the year to keep that interest high.

LINDSEY: (Whispering) So, uh, we’re gonna send Heath out here, and he’s gonna trigger the corn feeder again and we’re doing it for two reasons. One, we’re hoping to entice some hogs in, once they hear that corn feeder go off, and two, it’s just really funny to watch Heath run when the corn starts spraying out, so stay tuned for that.

LINDSEY: (Whispering) That’s awesome. This is my first hog hunt ever,um, so I’m really really excited about it.

HEATH: (Whispering) That’s awesome. Love you.

GRANT: The smile on Lindsey’s face, after her first hog harvest, is all I’d need to know that that was a great trip for Heath and Lindsey.

GRANT: I hope you have a chance to get out and enjoy the great outdoors and really take in some Creation this week with a close friend or family member. Thanks for watching