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GRANT: Last year while hunting near a food plot we call BPP, I had a cool encounter with a 7-year-old buck we call Swoops.
GRANT: (Whispering) Just be careful. There you go. Just be careful. Yeah, that’s a beautiful deer; beautiful deer. Just a privilege to be right here. I’d like, I’ve got just a little grass. I don’t want to take a chance of deflecting.
GRANT: Even though Swoops was well within Winchester range, I had to give him a pass because his vitals were covered with grass. And I know grass can deflect a bullet.
GRANT: I continued hunting around the BPP area. But never had another encounter with Swoops.
GRANT: Only two days after Missouri’s deer season closed, Swoops showed up at a Code Blue scrape and was photographed by a Reconyx camera.
GRANT: I was thrilled to know he’d survived the deer season and looked healthy.
GRANT: We didn’t get any more pictures or videos of Swoops until February 5th back at BPP.
GRANT: At that time, Swoops still had both his antlers. The evening of February 5th Swoops showed up in front of another Reconyx camera and this time only had one of his antlers.
GRANT: During a 16-hour period of time, Swoops had shed one antler.
GRANT: We used Google Earth to measure the distance between the two camera sites. A straight line as the crow flies, it’s about 900 yards. I doubt he walked a straight line and it’s not as the crow flies here in the Ozarks. It’s up and down steep topography.
GRANT: Somewhere between these two ridges, we believe Swoops dropped one of his antlers.
GRANT: I’m sure Miss Tracy and Crystal will be searching this area soon trying to find one or both of Swoops antlers. I imagine they will start searching the south side of the northern ridge.
GRANT: That area receives the most sunshine in that area. Bucks like to be in sunshine during the day, especially when the temperatures have been cold.
GRANT: Using trail cameras to monitor when bucks shed and approximately where they shed on a specific property is a great technique. Seeing the time and date when bucks have both antlers and, hopefully, another picture when they’ve shed one or two antlers, kind of locks down the area where you need to start searching.
GRANT: Tracy and Crystal have been out searching and getting some exercise, but it’s probably a tad early for finding antlers, as most of our trail camera pictures show bucks still holding both antlers.
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GRANT: While they’ve been out enjoying The Proving Grounds, I’ve been doing some traveling.
GRANT: Recently, I spoke at a wild game banquet in Lamont, Kansas. And I had a great time sharing about Creation and the Creator.
GRANT: A few days later, I spoke at the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The NRA does a great job of hosting that show and it was packed this year.
GRANT: I always have a good time sharing about hunting techniques and advanced strategies to manage food plots – what we call the Buffalo System.
GRANT: I’ll be sharing more information about deer and deer hunting at a wild game banquet in Mountain Grove, Missouri, March 7th. Hey, if you live in the area, come join me there.
GRANT: March 9th, I’ll be traveling again and speaking at an all-day workshop hosted by the Quality Deer Management Association in Hamburg, Pennsylvania at the Cabela’s store.
GRANT: Heavy rains have recently hammered The Proving Grounds as well as several other areas throughout the whitetail’s range.
GRANT: I normally welcome rain as it’s great for native and planted vegetation. Like most things, too much rain can cause more damage than do good.
GRANT: During the first sunny day, Daniel and I headed out to an area we call Boom Glade Road. Bloom Glade is a large native vegetation area on the side of a steep mountain.
GRANT: When Tracy and I purchased The Proving Grounds, this area was totally covered by cedars. But with some sweat equity and a lot of chainsaw blades, we felled all those cedars; used prescribed fire and now it’s a beautiful native vegetation area that’s great for bedding and feeding.
GRANT: Throughout the year, this area offers quality habitat to many species. During the spring, it’s perfect fawning and turkey nesting habitat.
GRANT: During the late summer, there’s native forbs going up for feed and during the winter, the tall native grasses shield the wind off deer while allowing the sun’s radiant energy to penetrate and provides a warm bedding area.
GRANT: It’s easy to see these habitat qualities above the ground but it also has many benefits beneath the surface.
GRANT: An easy way to understand some of the benefits going on below the surface is consider the road that goes through the middle.
GRANT: It’s the first beautiful day we’ve had in quite some time but I’m a bit discouraged.
GRANT: I’m at Boom Glade Road – the main road at The Proving Grounds that goes to the western portion of our property and I’m seeing a good bit of erosion.
GRANT: There’s been a lot of rain here and a lot of places throughout the whitetail’s range this winter. In fact, as I’m driving around, I see a lot of crop fields flooded; rivers out of their banks; but here, our only erosion is on the road.
GRANT: This spot is a great place to teach a really important point to land managers.
GRANT: On this side, I’ve got native vegetation we manage as a bedding area; on this side, a food plot. I’ve walked through ‘em both and I can’t find any evidence of erosion.
GRANT: Right here – same slope; same amount of rain – obvious erosion. One spot of erosion wouldn’t cause me a lot of concern. But 100 yards – well I’ve got to get David and Brenten out here and fix this road.
GRANT: The reason is really easy to understand. There’s the same amount of slope and distance on both sides. The big difference – vegetation and porous soil versus a hard surface.
GRANT: Consider a sponge and a table at the same slope. Pour water on ‘em both. Water is gonna run rapidly across the tabletop, but either soak in the sponge or slow way down.
GRANT: There’s a living root on both sides. That makes the soil more porous than this hard surface and lots of insects, including earthworms, that are making the ground porous so water can infiltrate versus running over the surface.
GRANT: On a hard surface, water goes down instead of infiltrating in; builds up speed; picks up sand and grit and even gravel; and cuts a ditch.
GRANT: Researches learned years ago that a great tool or structure to eliminate or significantly reduce erosion on such roads in steep country are called broad based dips or BBDs for short.
GRANT: These structures can be created by a dozer, skid steer or similar equipment and made from the material that the road is made from. You don’t have to bring anything in. You just have to shape the road.
GRANT: They’re formed in a specific way to divert water from the road into an area that’s not compacted, like the native vegetation, and allow it to be absorbed rather than continue running off and making erosion.
GRANT: We created several BBDs on this road more than a decade ago.
GRANT: Through times and hundreds of trips up and down the hill with trucks, UTVs and equipment, we’ve worn the BBDs down just enough that during a heavy rain, water has enough momentum to get up and go over and keep going down the road.
GRANT: I’ll have some buddies rebuild these BBDs, so they once again divert water into an area that doesn’t have compacted soil.
GRANT: Probably more impressive to me is right through the middle of this small hidey hole food plot is a ditch running downhill. Given all the rain and the obvious erosion potential, you would think it would be blown out.
GRANT: Well, let’s take a look.
GRANT: I’m in a ditch that starts about that walnut tree behind me and runs catawampus all the way across this small plot.
GRANT: There’s zero sign of erosion even though we’ve had a lot of hard rain in the last couple of weeks.
GRANT: The reason why there’s no erosion – the miracle of living plant roots.
GRANT: We planted this plot about early September with Eagle Seeds Fall Buffalo Blend. We purposely took the Genesis this way when planting the seeds so we would not go up and down the ditch.
GRANT: Just as important – we planted into a standing crop – you can see the duff all over the ground – so the soil was never exposed. We went from one living root to another and never exposed the soil.
GRANT: There was never a chance for raindrops to hit exposed soil or gain momentum running downhill because they fell into one crop. And when that crop was terminated, the other crop was already growing.
GRANT: That’s a huge advantage of the Buffalo System. Imagine if those techniques were applied to ag acres across the United States and limited all the soil erosion going on where there’s tillage.
GRANT: For me – a wildlife guy – I’ve never cleaned the table. I’ve got food growing all the time. I really dislike it when food plot farmers disc their fields right before deer season and then wonder why deer have shifted to a different portion of their home range.
GRANT: Eliminating erosion and keeping food available for critters every day of the year, well, those are just two advantages of the Buffalo System.
GRANT: The Buffalo System is the perfect solution to provide forage for critters throughout the year and protect soil while building organic matter – a key component to healthy soils.
GRANT: Last week we shared that we removed 76 predators during trapping season from The Proving Grounds this year. That’s approximately one predator for every 30 acres. Imagine having a raccoon or an opossum every 30 acres – and they’re constantly moving, overlapping and going – and trying to be a turkey hen or even a songbird nesting on the ground.
GRANT: Considering we reduced that predator population, it’s obvious it will be much easier for a turkey to nest and successfully raise poults.
GRANT: We removed most of these predators using the Duke box trap.
GRANT: They’re obviously effective; easy to use; and perfect for folks like us that often have to go out of town and work somewhere else.
GRANT: We can easily shut the door, come back in a few days, open it up and start trapping again.
GRANT: If you are interested in working toward balancing the number of predators with the number of prey where you hunt, I’ve got some great news. The guys over at Duke Traps are offering GrowingDeer viewers a great special on the same box traps we use here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: I’m so excited about this. We just got a pallet in and we can’t wait for trapping season to start again this fall. More predators will move in and we’ll continue working to balance the number of predators versus prey here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: If you’d like to learn more about property management, habitat management or hunting techniques, subscribe to the GrowingDeer newsletter.
GRANT: I always enjoy getting outside and learning more about how Creation works. But more important to me, is finding time every day to be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to me. I hope you do the same.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.