This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: The GrowingDeer Team is excited to host a field event March 23rd and 24th. My friend, Richard Hale, is gonna be here – he's the Director of Records for Boone and Crockett – teaching how to field estimate a buck's score. We're gonna see how y'all do because we're gonna have a rack at the final banquet, and whoever estimates the score the closest gets a hundred dollars of Bass Pro gift cards.
JAMES: When you see me doing my laughs, I'm opening it up and I'm putting a little more pressure to get the high-pitch sound so you can…
GRANT: World champion turkey caller, James Harrison, is gonna be here not only giving turkey call demonstrations but working with individuals to help them with their turkey calling technique.
CLINT: Once we started doing this and putting cameras on it, we had coyotes stopping dead in their tracks out here now as they pass by. So, that's the first thing we do, is I’ve got him stopping out here in the road. You at least got a chance at him now.
GRANT: Professional trapper, Clint Cary, is gonna be here to give us some trapping demonstrations and talking to you about predator management on your proving grounds.
GRANT: The folks from RTP is gonna be here demonstrating some of their new food plot equipment, and Daniel and I will be sharing all the inside techniques for our buffalo food plot system.
GRANT: We're gonna crimp this over. It’ll decompose and slowly release it for the new crop coming on. This has just worked out perfectly.
GRANT: Through the years, we've really improved the food plots and the quality of the deer herd using this system here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: Registration is limited to 100 folks, so go to GrowingDeer.com to sign up to join us for the 2018 field event.
GRANT: Before the field event, Daniel and I will be at the National Wild Turkey Federation Convention in Nashville, Tennessee February 17th. That morning at 10:00 a.m., Daniel and I will be at the RTP Outdoors display talking with folks about their food plot techniques. That afternoon at 2:00 p.m., Daniel and I will be at the Flatwood Natives display helping folks with their habitat management plans. So, bring your maps; come on by, and visit with Daniel and I. Let us scribble on ‘em, and help you have a plan for 2018.
ANNOUNCER: GrowingDeer is brought to you by Bass Pro Shops. Also by Reconyx, Trophy Rock, Eagle Seed, Nikon, Winchester, LaCrosse Footwear, BloodSport Arrows, Flatwood Natives, Morrell Targets, Caldwell Shooting Supplies, Hook’s Custom Calls, Montana Decoys, Summit Treestands, Drake Non-Typical Clothing, Howes Lubricator, RTP Outdoors, Yamaha, Fourth Arrow, ScentCrusher, iSCOPE, Mossy Oak Properties of the Heartland, Code Blue, D/Code, G5 Broadheads, Prime Bows, and Redneck Hunting Blinds.
TRACY: Good girl. Good girl, Chrisy. Good girl.
TRACY: (Inaudible) Find another one. (Inaudible)
GRANT: Shed hunting is not only rewarding – it’s a great way to get exercise and enjoy Creation.
GRANT: Tracy and her dog Crystal have already found eight sheds.
GRANT: This is great information as we not only see which bucks survived but learn a lot about their late winter pattern.
GRANT: The timing of shedding is primarily controlled by the amount of daylight. The amount of daylight influences hormone releases in a buck's body.
GRANT: The range of dates when shedding is possible is controlled by day length impacting hormone levels, but within that range, shedding dates of individual deer is controlled by their health.
GRANT: During the past several months, we've experienced record-setting droughts here at The Proving Grounds. The drought has resulted in limited forage growth and low-quality forage here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: One of the trickled down results of the drought is bucks dropping antlers earlier.
GRANT: An interesting observation from the pile of sheds Tracy has brought in is they're from immature and mature bucks. That's what I'd expect because the environmental conditions are such that it's impacting all animals out there, not just mature, healthy, or immature deer, but all deer here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: During the cold, harsh conditions we've experienced recently, one of Tracy's favorite places to look for sheds is south-facing slopes that have bedding areas.
GRANT: These bedding areas, there’ll be native grasses or brush about yay tall so the deer can get down and the wind goes over 'em, but the sun comes to them allowing the sun's energy to warm their body.
GRANT: Tracy and Crystal will also search trails going from those bedding areas to feeding areas – food plots – here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: Another factor that's not often talked about on these south-facing slopes is, of course, they're getting the most sun right now, the soil is warmer, and it’ll be the first place vegetation greens up.
GRANT: Even one or two warm days with a little moisture will cause a flush of vegetation on these slopes, and you can bet that's where deer will be feeding.
GRANT: Putting all these observations together – where we find sheds, knowing where the vegetation greens up first – is key to managing whitetails on any property.
GRANT: It's a given that Tracy and her dog, Crystal, are gonna continue shed hunting, and we'll keep you posted on what they find.
GRANT: I'm sure several of you are out shed hunting also, and we look forward to you sharing pictures of what you find on the GrowingDeer Facebook page.
GRANT: Recently, Daniel, Tyler and Jacob travelled to Eastern Kansas to design another habitat and hunting plan.
GRANT: The landowner's goals were to improve the habitat and produce more mature bucks for him and his family to chase with a bow.
GRANT: Yeah, and this looks like a major travel corridor coming out through here.
GRANT: Daniel and I reviewed satellite images of Mr. Wigley's property and the neighborhood. It's important to know what resources are available in the neighborhood not just on one property.
GRANT: It quickly became obvious that quality food during the winter – the winter stress period specifically – was a limited resource in this area.
GRANT: This is common in ag country. There's often an abundance of food during the growing season, but after the crops are harvested, it's a desert for most species of wildlife.
GRANT: Another limiting factor in ag country is quality cover. Once the crops – or what I call the annual forest – is harvested, it can be a very barren habitat for whitetails and turkeys.
GRANT: While studying the aerial photo of the neighborhood, it was obvious that the best quality cover in the area was on Mr. Wigley's farm.
GRANT: Using that as a basis, Daniel and I knew that if we developed quality food and some bottlenecks on his farm between the food and cover, Mr. Wigley and his family would have some great hunting opportunities.
CHRIS: We killed one doe here this year and nothing else anywhere. So, we didn't really know. Should we be killing does? Should we not? We buck hunted. You know, like, “Like don’t mess any…” And you know, and I said, “I'm gonna go down…”
DANIEL: Well, how many doe – like, what, what are your cameras showing? Like how many deer you think you, you’ve…
CHRIS: Well, I've got pictures of six and eight, seven does at a time at some of these feeders.
DANIEL: Hmm. Hmm.
CHRIS: But I suspect they're all the same does.
CHRIS: God, we see a lot of junk bucks, I call ‘em. You know, a lot of – you know, like they don't have enough nutrition or something. I mean I know they've got horns, but they're just not growing 'em.
DANIEL: Hmm. Hmm.
CHRIS: So, we see a bunch, I mean a bunch of little bucks.
DANIEL: Resource-wise, do you have a drill, a tractor?
DANIEL: Do you do everything or…
CHRIS: I do everything.
DANIEL: …do you have someone here?
CHRIS: Well, you know, I can only come up here during, you know, for a weekend and work hard and. You know what, and so you know, I'm not, you know I’m not keen on planting a food plot on every spot again. You know, I could just as easily go ahead and fill all those in with natural grass and start over, if you guys think I need to do that. You know what I mean?
DANIEL: Hmm. Hmm.
GRANT: Tree plots or fruit trees can be a great attraction for whitetails. In this case, Mr. Wigley had a lot of trees. And Daniel actually suggested taking a few out to maximize the amount of quality food because food plots will produce more tonnage throughout the year than tree plots.
DANIEL: In love with these trees or would you be against this being a food plot or?
CHRIS: I'll do whatever you want to do.
DANIEL: Oh. I'm just curious where you're at.
CHRIS: Yeah, yeah. No, I'm gonna follow your direction.
DANIEL: I think this needs to be a food plot. Um. I'm fine – maybe leave a couple trees.
DANIEL: Um. But planting-wise this is gonna be a hassle, you know, if you're using a drill going through here.
DANIEL: Uh. You could broadcast it. That'll be fine.
DANIEL: But then it’s, what's gonna happen is all these trees are gonna be competition for your food plot…
CHRIS: Hmm. Hmm.
DANIEL: …with the roots…
CHRIS: Hmm. Hmm.
CHRIS: Yeah. Yeah. Right.
DANIEL: And so right where you're hunting there's a lot of trees.
DANIEL: You'll just not have a lot of forage to bring 'em here.
CHRIS: Yeah. The food plot is more important than the…
DANIEL: And the forage, the forage is gonna start being over here. Yeah. And you're gonna have such a short window with your fruits.
DANIEL: You know, um, but consistently year after year, you may, you know, you may have a late frost or something and set your trees back. Or, you know.
CHRIS: Yeah. Well right.
DANIEL: So you can't…
CHRIS: Yeah, right, right, right.
DANIEL: So, if you want something consistent year after year, this needs to be a food plot.
CHRIS: Yeah, okay.
GRANT: Oftentimes, we like to use tree plots as staging areas – not entire food plot-size orchards but smaller groups of trees. When the fruit's on, you know the deer are gonna be standing right there and they’ll pass through that area into larger feeding areas.
DANIEL: So, Chris, as we've mentioned. You know, probably gonna remove a few of these trees. I'm fine to leave some of these trees here – great attractant when they do have fruit. But we can get a lot more forage for our deer if we remove a few of these trees. So, um, we just need to talk about, you know, which trees we want to leave. That's probably gonna be which one's the healthiest and kind of design this specifically for what we want. But we really want to maximize our food plot acreage on your property.
DANIEL: By removing some of the fruit trees, we're reducing competition for the food plot. You know, the canopy is gonna reduce forage underneath. The roots are gonna take water and nutrients from the food plot around it. So, we may leave a few trees here. Hot spot – you know, when a deer has got a sweet tooth, but we're really gonna maximize our food plot acreage.
DANIEL: I'd maybe, like leave this tree.
DANIEL: That tree.
CHRIS: The tallest; the (Inaudible) tallest ones.
DANIEL: The ones that are doing good.
DANIEL: And, and have the, the most potential. I mean, those, those small ones and especially right there in front. You know, they, they get all those limbs out, you're gonna have to be shooting around those and looking for shooting lanes. You know.
CHRIS: Yeah, right.
DANIEL: And so you're gonna be fighting it. So. I think – yeah, that we leave one or two trees out here, and I think we'll be good.
GRANT: Daniel discovered that several of the food plots Mr. Wigley had established were very small. They were designed to attract deer into shooting range and not provide food during the critical winter stress period.
DANIEL: I'd like to make this a food plot – a big food plot – plant all that.
CHRIS: The whole place?
CHRIS: Because I have noticed when they cut that corn, um, now there's – I was hoping that there was – this is where they were gonna come, but I didn't notice it that much. You know, I wasn't like, “Oh, wow, (Inaudible).”
DANIEL: I don't think you have that big food source to really draw them in.
CHRIS: It's not like they're like, “Hey, everybody around is going. Hey, let's go to Wigley's place.”
DANIEL: Yep, yep. And you're primarily bow hunting. So, we want to think about how, how we're going to hunt them with a bow. Um, but we also want to pull deer in, and we want to make this a target-rich environment.
DANIEL: Once we get this food source in here, we're gonna have to shift around and change our hunting a little bit…
CHRIS: Yeah. We’ll just…
DANIEL: …to match it.
CHRIS: …see what’s working. Yeah.
DANIEL: Um. But then we're gonna create more bottlenecks. Right now there's really no…uh..no.
CHRIS: They're just coming from everywhere.
CHRIS: How do you create a bottleneck?
DANIEL: Now that we've established more of a bedding on that side and food on this side, were – that's gonna be the bottleneck. Kind of, they're gonna come here, or they're gonna go there. You know? And it's learning where they're gonna go. Here – now creating more of a bottleneck for deer coming this way or this way.
CHRIS: Hmm. Hmm.
DANIEL: We have food where they're, they’re wanting to come this way. So, we're starting to pull 'em in from different directions. Does that, does that make sense?
CHRIS: Yeah, it makes sense, yeah.
CHRIS: And I killed all that grass. I just killed the whole field. And then I planted the whole thing in natural grass, and this is what grew.
DANIEL: I'd make this all a food plot.
CHRIS: That's a big food plot.
DANIEL: We need, we need to get some acres of food in here.
GRANT: Mr. Wigley had done some great work of removing cedar trees and establishing native grasses in those areas with a small food plot on the edge for a stand location.
GRANT: Daniel suggested converting some of these areas entirely into food plots while leaving others entirely as bedding areas.
DANIEL: Well, Chris brought me to another area where he's already done some work. Of course, this whole, you know, food plot slash native grass section was all cedars. Chris removed all those cedars – so it opened up this floor – native grasses have grown up, had, great, you know, a great stand for what you have, and then has come in and planted a food plot so he can hunt it. But what we're wanting to do is we’re wanting to maximize our food plot acreage on Chris' property, specifically for the late season after all the crops have been harvested around him. So, we want to really maximize those acres. So, Chris, what we're gonna do is we want to go ahead and we're just gonna plant that native grass right now. Um, we've designated kind of some bedding areas, native grass areas just to the east, and we can – we’re gonna suspect that deer are gonna bed and then move over to food, and so we're trying to create bottlenecks, kind of designing this specifically for Chris as he's a bow hunter. And so we're creating bottlenecks so you can have those close encounters.
DANIEL: I would, you know, plant right up, right up to the edge here.
GRANT: Separating food and cover allows the hunter to get to the food source while deer in cover or in a bottleneck in between. When cover and food come up next to each other, it can be very tough to approach those areas without alerting deer.
DANIEL: You know, we're gonna design these bedding areas. We got to be thinking, you know, “That's where a receptive doe is gonna go.”
CHRIS: Hmm. Hmm.
DANIEL: And we'll be talking about hunting those winds so, you know, bucks cruising the downward side of those areas…
CHRIS: Yeah, (Inaudible) this area if the wind is blowing.
DANIEL: Right. And so they're gonna be, you know, coming through here scent checking that over there where we're gonna let grow up.
DANIEL: Uh. But I think we're gonna get more bang for our buck focused on native grass…
DANIEL: …and getting cover there instead of opening this up and getting cover under here.
CHRIS: Yeah. Okay.
DANIEL: And then this is still, in a sense, cover. They can get in here. They feel safe.
DANIEL: This is kind of a sanctuary and travel corridor, and then they can finger out and. So, I think we got, you know, good things going here.
CHRIS: Okay, cool.
GRANT: We want to use the best sites for food and the best sites for cover. Steep hillsides mean swirling winds. That's where deer prefer to be. So, let's design cover in those areas.
GRANT: After touring the property, Mr. Wigley, Daniel, and the guys sit down to finalize the plans.
DANIEL: We'll try beans – you know, we're just gonna come in – probably broadcast. If your beans grow really well and they're really thick, we may need to drill through ‘em. Um. Some, what we'll need to do is we'll just have to play it by ear how thick they are. What we may want to do is we may want to drill a couple steps and then try out strips.
CHRIS: Hmm. Hmm.
DANIEL: And then try to broadcast…
CHRIS: Hmm. Hmm.
DANIEL: …our fall plot in there. Um, that way we have both the standing grain and your greens underneath, um, is what we're gonna do. And we're gonna do that on all these.
DANIEL: This whole block we’re just gonna keep as native grass.
CHRIS: Ah huh.
DANIEL: And then we're gonna do that, you know, wherever your property line is here – that strip…
DANIEL: …we'll leave there. And then we're just gonna make this food.
CHRIS: That's gonna be a lot of food in the middle of the property.
GRANT: We look forward to visiting with Mr. Wigley in the future and hearing about his successes in Eastern Kansas.
GRANT: We enjoy assisting landowners throughout the whitetails’ range, and just as much, we enjoy visiting with our neighbors.
GRANT: A few years ago several of my neighbors and I got together and started the Branson Deer Co-op.
GRANT: There are no fees or money exchanged in our co-op. It's strictly volunteer and neighbors helping neighbors. Each winter, we have an annual get-together, and this year it was at a local bow shop.
GRANT: It's always fun to visit with all the neighbors and hear their hunting stories.
GRANT: My favorite local diner, Dinky's, supplied a great meal for our event. In fact, if you come here to visit me at The Proving Grounds, I'll probably take you to lunch at Dinky's. It's my office away from the office.
GRANT: After our dinner, one of my neighbors, Fred McQueary, shared the advantages of habitat management and what it's done for his farm.
FRED: We killed a total of 29 deer on my place – 1 mature buck, 27 does, and 1 button buck. (Laughter) Anybody shooting a button buck gets to wear that around deer camp unless somebody else shoots another button buck. Nobody else did, so he got to wear it all camp long. Yeah.
FRED: So, I know people are sitting there saying, “You shot 29 deer on your place. Did, how, did you leave any?” And this is a video taken December 5th. So, count the deer in the field real quick. Yeah. There’s, there’s still plenty. There's still plenty.
FRED: Pick our interest up a little bit, on account that everybody is gonna want to see closer pictures, so I blew it up a little bit. Yeah, and if you're wondering how many points that has, it's got 17. John, you want to tell us about this buck?
JOHN: Nope, I don't want anybody to know this buck. (Laughter) Never seen it before.
FRED: I think we'll put that GPS tracker on it this year so you know exactly where he is.
JOHN: No, I've never seen this buck until after season. These, those two pictures are the only pics I've got of him, and those were…
GRANT: I shared some current updates on CWD.
GRANT: And there is – there's so many rumors out there anymore. Please, uh, please seek the truth because this just gets out of hand in some of the publications. There is no vaccine known to man for CWD, period. There is no cure. There is no practical live test. Uh. The tonsil test you hear some writers talk about, whatnot, is not practical, certainly, for a large scale. And it's not very accurate. So, you don't want to be basing stuff on that, and bucks typically have a bigger home range than does, and they're a little bit more social. So, they're going doe group to doe group to doe group. Where does kind of stay in their own group. So, bucks, are much – mature bucks are much more likely – in Wisconsin, over twice as likely – to have CWD as does.
GRANT: CWD is 100% fatal. The causative agent gets in the ground and you can't get rid of it. You can cook it at 2,000 degrees, you can soak it in chlorine for days and it will still infect the deer. And get this, those prions can get in the dirt; a plant can take it up – we know that for sure – and then it's likely that the deer can eat that plant and get it. So, think about this. A crow pecks on a dead mule deer in Colorado. Flies over to North Dakota. Crows travel huge distances; they're very migratory. Poops when he's going over North Dakota – poops out a prion. This disease is very, very serious.
GRANT: We have to stop shipping live deer. Period. Must stop. If I was a deer czar, it would’ve stopped yesterday. Cannot ship live deer. And we as hunters can't move deer parts. Can't move deer parts. You need to debone the deer – not necessarily right where it fell, but within a couple miles – in that county, in that area. You may of heard about a vaccine. Anyone heard about CWD vaccine? It made a lot of rumors a few months ago. No deer survived. It did prolong the life of a few deer. What's the problem with that?
UNKNOWN: Spreads it. (Inaudible)
GRANT: Yeah, deer is still alive. So, they're urinating and defecating and salivating as they're walking around. Our goal is, if a deer has CWD, we hope it dies that day so it's not producing more of the causative agent. I am fully confident that we will get on top of this. I am.
GRANT: It's important for hunters to know the facts about CWD given all the misinformation in some of the media.
GRANT: I believe that local co-ops, neighbors helping neighbors, is one of the most valuable tools in all of wildlife management.
GRANT: Whether you're out shed hunting or getting an early start on pulling soil samples for this coming year, remember to take time, slow down, and enjoy Creation, but most importantly take some time every day to be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.
GRANT: If you'd like to know how many sheds Tracy's been finding or what habitat work we're doing, please subscribe to the GrowingDeer newsletter.