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DANIEL: Last summer the interns took the Nikon spotting scope to a food plot we call Crabapple to scout for velvet bucks.
DANIEL: Moose was a big, wide 10-pointer, and he had a lot of potential.
DANIEL: During the summer of 2018, we used Reconyx images to keep tabs on Moose, and he showed up in a couple food plots.
DANIEL: We got a lot of pictures of Moose throughout the summer, and he seemed to disappear until the end of September when he showed back up on Boom North Powerline.
DANIEL: Moose didn’t reappear for almost a month, but when he did, he was at Cave Powerline working a Code Blue scrape.
DANIEL: On November 4th, we got one picture of Moose at the Clay Hill food plot. We didn’t see Moose for a long time, and we had to wonder what happened to Moose.
DANIEL: Then, during the end of December, Moose resurfaced at a food plot we call Boom North.
DANIEL: We had recently opened the Hot Zone Fence at Boom North to allow deer to feed on the Eagle Seed forage soybeans. Moose quickly found ‘em, and he loved chowing down on the beans.
DANIEL: It was then that we noticed Moose had an injury on one of his hind legs. If you look closely, you can see his ankle is very swollen.
DANIEL: On January 24th, we got our last picture of Moose. He still had his injury, and he appeared to be losing a lot of weight. We wondered if Moose would survive the winter.
DANIEL: Last week, Clay and summer intern Taylor grabbed the Winchester and camera and headed to Crabapple North to see if they could scout for velvet bucks and maybe shoot a groundhog.
DANIEL: There was a south wind, so Clay and Taylor were able to enter from the north and set up in the Redneck Blind position on the north side of Crabapple without alerting deer.
DANIEL: Deer can’t adjust the thermostat like we can in our houses, and that means on warm, sunny summer days, deer often are going to the north slope to bed where it’s shady and cool.
DANIEL: Clay knew it was very likely that there were deer bedding on the north slope that butts up to Crabapple, and once that sun went over the mountain, the deer would come down and feed on the beans. Sure enough, it wasn’t long until the first buck appeared.
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DANIEL: As Clay and Taylor were enjoying the show, they looked over and saw a good set of antlers coming down off the slope.
DANIEL: It was Moose. Boy, he looked good, and he was hammering the beans.
DANIEL: We’re thrilled to see that Moose is alive and seems healthy.
DANIEL: After Clay and Taylor’s observations of seeing deer in the food plots, we went out a few days later to check on the beans.
GRANT: Beautiful morning here at The Proving Grounds, and I’m out scouting some food plots. We call this plot Hidey Hole One, and I’m extremely excited about this stand of forage soybeans. The forage is dark green, lush, obviously palatable; there’s browse out here.
GRANT: You’ve got to remember, we haven’t added any fertilizer of any type to this field in six years. This plot’s a great testimony to the Buffalo System and to the Eagle Seed variety of forage soybeans.
GRANT: Look at the size of these leaves already. I mean, if you compared that to an ag leaf at this time of year, the ag leaf would be about the size of two or maybe three fingers.
GRANT: These great forage soybeans are a direct result of the folks at Eagle Seed literally collecting pollen from individual plants that had the traits they wanted and hand pollenating for more than four decades.
GRANT: Of course, these beans will flower and make a lot of pods also, so they’re ideal for a food plot. These beans are extremely palatable and high in protein, and it looks great right now, but as the summer progresses, especially if we get in a little dry period, I’ll probably see a lot more browse pressure in this plot.
GRANT: As a safeguard, I put a Hot Zone Fence right over here, and we’re going to take a look.
GRANT: A few weeks ago, we put up this Hot Zone Fence to make sure there was no browse on this portion of the plot.
GRANT: Got a couple of Summit Treestands hung right over here with a creek right behind ‘em, so on a cold day our scent is going right down the creek. We can approach from behind that stand and never expose ourselves to the field.
GRANT: All the beans are growing so fast right now. There’s no height difference between inside and outside the fence. When I walk through the beans outside the fence, I can see some leaves missing, but inside every leaf is intact, and I see no stems where it’s been bitten off.
GRANT: Throughout the summer, I suspect we’ll start seeing a height difference. The beans outside the fence – they’ll feed deer throughout the summer. When it’s time to plant the fall blend, late August/early September, I imagine there will be a lot of browse pressure on the beans outside the fence, and there will be ample sun reaching the soil.
GRANT: We’ll drill right through those beans and plant our fall blend. Inside the fence there’ll be a full canopy, so we’ll wait ‘til much later when these beans start maturing and allowing a little sun to reach the soil and broadcast the fall blend into this stand.
GRANT: This creates the ideal stand or blind location.
GRANT: When using this technique, think through all the steps. You want plenty of food to feed the deer; you want to protect a portion for that stand location; you need to know where the stand is before you put up the fence; and how you can approach, hunt, and exit without alerting deer.
GRANT: We’ll keep you posted on this project throughout the summer. And one way that makes it easy is I’ve got a Reconyx camera right here looking down the fence. There’s ample moisture right now. With another rain or two, we’ll make it through this summer with great growing conditions.
DANIEL: This area that’s protected, well, it can’t be browsed on, and pod production can be maximized. This is gonna be a great hunting location later this fall.
DANIEL: We’re already excited about this hunting location, and we hope to share several great hunts from there later this year.
DANIEL: Last fall, we had a very large acorn crop here at The Proving Grounds. This made hunting even more challenging because deer had acorns everywhere and didn’t have to travel far from food to cover.
DANIEL: In timber country, when there’s a large acorn crop, it’s almost impossible to pattern deer. There’s food everywhere. That’s why we focus most of our hunting strategy on bottlenecks and travel corridors in the timber, hoping to catch deer passing in front of us.
DANIEL: Based on our observations last season, we knew that if we had another large acorn crop this year, we would have to adjust our hunting strategies and probably move some blinds and stands.
DANIEL: We’re not wasting any time. We’ve already grabbed our Nikons and started scanning the treetops.
GRANT: I’m standing in a hidey hole or staging area foot plot. But it seems right now, the dominant play for this location is gonna be acorns, especially during the mid and late season.
GRANT: I’ve got a couple Summits hung right over here in an area that I can approach easily, but we’re right on top a ridge, so I need a wind that’s coming out of the south going toward the stands so I can approach, hunt, and exit without alerting deer.
GRANT: There’s big red oaks all around this plot, but that’s the best location for the stand. It does me no good to have a stand down here by these other red oaks on this steep slope where the wind’s more likely to swirl. I’m sure deer will use that area, but not likely that the deer and a hunter can be there at the same time due to the swirling winds.
GRANT: This stand Is located where the slope drops off right behind it, and we believe our scent will go right behind us with the south wind and down the mountain, allowing deer to approach the stand without knowing we’re in the area.
GRANT: In fact, last year, Daniel had a great buck we call Octo come in right at dark and he didn’t quite get within bow range.
GRANT: It’s very early in the summer. We’re filming this during late June, and I can already see red oak acorns forming on many of the trees.
GRANT: White oaks feed critters first, and they’re not as bitter; but also, they don’t last as well. So, when you have a bunch of white oaks during that early October/mid-October timeframe and it comes a warm rain, many of them will sprout and try to grow, and as soon as they sprout, the chemistry changes a little bit, and they’re not palatable.
GRANT: Red oaks are different than white oaks in a couple of ways. Red oaks tend to drop a little later than white oaks, and they’re full of a tannic acid, which makes them taste bitter. So deer tend to eat red oaks later in the season than white oaks.
GRANT: There was a master plan to red oaks and white oaks – that acid serves as a preservative.
GRANT: Red oaks will lay on the ground through rains and snows and still not attempt to germinate. Many of them will stay good if there’s a big acorn crop until the late winter and even early turkey season the next year.
GRANT: In the year where the white oaks don’t make, but there’s a big red oak crop, deer will eat those red oaks earlier. Even knowing they’re a bit more bitter, they’re the only acorns in town and deer will consume ‘em.
GRANT: The acorns we’re seeing forming on these red oaks were actually flowers last spring. Red oaks set flowers and pollenate one year, and they develop into acorns the next year; where white oaks flower and make an acorn during the same growing season.
GRANT: Research shows the biggest factor in determining the size of the acorn crop is if there’s a late frost. And apparently, there wasn’t a late frost last spring because these red oaks are loaded.
GRANT: That’s kind of the trend we’re seeing this year. Not a lot of white oaks forming and a pretty good crop of rows coming on. We’re studying this early, so we know where to place our stands.
GRANT: One of the factors that’s limiting the amount of white oaks is the jumping oak gall. We shared a few weeks ago several of the white oak leaves were turning brown, and some of the trees are actually shedding leaves.
GRANT: On closer inspection, you could see hundreds of little brown spots on the back of those leaves, and those are actually eggs laid by a wasp that doesn’t sting.
GRANT: When we shared about jumping oak gall, I received emails from literally New Jersey to Kansas of people seeing the same thing. White oaks turning brown are losing their leaves.
GRANT: If you saw that in your area, you probably won’t have as many white oak acorns as during a normal year, and you may need to adjust some stands.
DANIEL: By putting boots on the ground and spending time in the woods right now, we’re able to start putting our hunting strategy together and make wise decisions on where we’re gonna place those stands or blinds for this fall.
DANIEL: During the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing a lot of information on how we select our treestand and blind locations and how we properly and safely put up a treestand.
DANIEL: Just a few weeks ago a good rain was coming for The Proving Grounds, so the interns grabbed the over-the-shoulder broadcast seeders and grabbed a bag of seed and took off to plant a hidey hole.
GRANT: This is a small hidey hole or staging area food plot. There are much bigger feeding sized plots off the mountain.
GRANT: I’m using an experimental blend that has a little bit of food value but some species that just improve the soil that deer won’t eat.
GRANT: If I planted this all with a really attractive forage, they’d wipe it out, and it’d be a weedy mess. Using the broadcast technique was quick and easy, and we’re getting a good stand that’s keeping most of the weeds at bay.
GRANT: There’s some forage in here to attract deer – take a little bite on the way down the mountain – as a staging area should function. I’ve got some beans in here. They’re working on those pretty hard. Acorns coming on around the edge, so this is serving its purpose. We will follow up and plant the Fall Buffalo Blend in here probably during late August and have a great staging area plot.
GRANT: In 20 days, I’ve got stuff over a foot tall on an extremely rocky, shallow-soil ridgetop, and I’m very pleased with these results.
DANIEL: If you’d like to learn more about our scouting and hunting techniques, please subscribe to the GrowingDeer newsletter.
DANIEL: Seeing velvet bucks and scouting for acorns can get us very excited for this coming fall, but it’s important to also think about today. I hope you slow down today and enjoy Creation. And more importantly, I hope you listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.