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DANIEL: As many of you know, several days ago, Grant’s beloved Pops passed away. It brings us comfort and peace knowing that Pops is finally healed up and made whole in his home with his Lord, Jesus Christ. Grant is taking a few days to be with his family and I would ask that you continue praying for him and the rest of the Woods family.
DANIEL: Recently, Clay and I had the opportunity to travel to Nashville, Tennessee to the National Wild Turkey Federation Convention. The NWTF Convention was chock full of turkey calling contests, hunting gear and everything in between.
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DANIEL: Even though we enjoyed taking in all the sights and sounds of the convention, we were really excited to talk to fellow turkey hunters and landowners.
DANIEL: First thing Saturday morning, Clay and I headed to the RTP Outdoors display and met with landowners to help lay out habitat and wildlife management plans for their properties.
MALE 1: Here’s the close up. This is food plot; this is food plot. We feel like we’ve kind of plateaued and, and we don’t own this farm.
DANIEL: I think the biggest thing for you guys is just gonna be adding food. You’re having bedding here right up next to food. We want a space in between. It’s really hard to get in and hunt without busting deer ‘cause they’d be bedded right here. They only have to go 10 yards, 20 yards to get the food. They’re right on top of you when you’re coming in.
DANIEL: We actually threw crimson clover in our fall blend. It’s gonna flush, you know, this spring…
MALE 1: Yeah. Real hardy.
DANIEL: …and kinda – right there in that stage when they’re gonna hit it hard and then by the time it’s down, we’re gonna have beans in the ground and.
MALE 1: Your beans – you’re not fertilizing them either. If you start beans in a new field – never been there before – you’re just drilling beans and terminating everything else and…
MALE 1: …then you’re coming back with your winter mix in the fall?
DANIEL: Yup. Exactly.
DANIEL: Every property we looked at was a little different. Some already had food plots established, bedding areas and hunting locations while others were just beginning.
YOUTH: And I started using…um…
DANIEL: Oh, man.
YOUTH: …Code Blue too. It really brought ‘em in. I was using Code Blue Doe Urine.
DANIEL: Oh. Ah huh.
YOUTH: He came straight downwind of me just sniffing.
DANIEL: Nose up. Just coming in. Awesome. Man, that’s a great deer.
DANIEL: Any food you can get in here – I’m gonna say this is gonna be more of their – what they’re gonna consider cover. Is they’re gonna be up in these cedars and with this open timber. What’s gonna happen is you want food – as much food as you can. And for hunting-wise, I’d probably do, you know, smaller plots. A little hunting spot on a travel corridor from here as they’re coming through here.
DANIEL: You can do all this with a chainsaw. All these cedars. You don’t have to, you don’t have to spray the stumps or anything. Once you cut it, uh, you know, I would cut an area, let it lay for two years and then you’re gonna burn it.
MALE 2: Okay.
DANIEL: You can burn it.
MALE 2: Prescribed burn.
DANIEL: Um, and then once, you know, native grasses and stuff come in, you’re gonna start – if you can – try to be burning that. And trying to keep saplings, uh, from coming up.
MALE 2: Okay. (Fades Out)
DANIEL: In smaller properties where large plots just weren’t practical, I recommended that the landowner create small hidey hole food plots to create bottlenecks and great hunting locations.
MALE 3: That’s kinda where I…
DANIEL: Seeing a lot of bucks? Seeing a lot of does? What do you see?
MALE 3: No. We don’t see a lot of bucks.
DANIEL: How are your food plots? Are they eaten to the ground or?
MALE 3: Right now, they’re bare. I mean, it could look like mud.
DANIEL: Yeah. And what are you planting in these?
MALE 3: I thought about opening this plot.
DANIEL: Yeah. If you can, if you can get some of these plots a little bigger, I think you’re gonna – what you’re gonna end up doing is, if you get these bigger, you create more bottlenecks.
MALE 3: Okay.
DANIEL: And you’re also going to, uh, maximize your food acreage.
DANIEL: For properties that had already developed or were going to expand their food plots, I recommended that they plant soybeans for their summer forage and the Buffalo Blend for their fall plots.
DANIEL: The goal is to provide quality forage as many days out of the year as possible. All while building soil, recycling nutrients and reducing fertilizer and herbicide use.
DANIEL: We call this the buffalo system. It replicates the native prairies and its continuous soil building system.
DANIEL: In the prairies, native forages would grow and be trampled by the buffalo. The trampled forage would then break down, new growth would occur; nutrients would be recycled and healthy soil was built.
DANIEL: After Clay and I had left RTP Outdoors, we headed over to visit our friends at Flatwood Natives. While we were there, we were able to talk to several landowners about habitat management.
DANIEL: You may want to just bring this down, if you can, and try to get – try to get a little more acres of food there.
MALE 4: Um-hmm.
DANIEL: Yeah. I, I would, I would get the, I would get all this in food and you’re set up great for those south winds because you’re entering from the north and you can slip in exactly where you need to be.
DANIEL: It was great being there with the Flatwood Natives crew because they know a thing or two about improving habitat.
DANIEL: We’ve had Flatwood visit the Proving Grounds several times over the past few years and they’ve done a great job helping us establish tree plots and treat the encroaching hardwood saplings in our bedding areas.
DANIEL: Hey, how are you?
MALE 5: (Inaudible)
DANIEL: Good to see you.
MALE 5: Hey, a couple quick questions. I know you’re doing a lot of stuff here.
DANIEL: Yeah. No worries.
MALE 5: I was thinking about coming down to your Spring Field Days.
DANIEL: Yeah. Great!
MALE 5: Is that a good recommendation?
DANIEL: Yeah. Yeah. I think, I think you would love it.
MALE 5: I mean, um. Basically, I would come just to learn.
DANIEL: I think you would love it.
MALE 5: Just to learn. ‘Cause we’ve got 40 acres and we’re trying to decide. I sent you a…
MALE 5: …(Inaudible) question once. But, you still have a few openings, I think?
DANIEL: Yeah. I think we’ve got about 30.
MALE 5: Okay.
DANIEL: Last I knew as of yesterday.
MALE 5: Okay.
DANIEL: So, I’d, I’d hurry up and go ahead and register.
MALE 5: Okay. Yeah, I’m thinking about coming down to that. And also, when you, like today, you asked people to bring their maps.
DANIEL: Hmm. Hmm.
MALE 5: What’s the best way to get a map? Is there a better site or?
DANIEL: We, we use – we really like Google Earth.
MALE 5: Okay.
DANIEL: That’s kind of our go-to.
MALE 5: Okay. That’s pretty easy.
DANIEL: And then whenever we look at maps, we want – usually, if you can outline your property and get a close, close up of it.
MALE 5: Okay.
DANIEL: And then if you can back out so we can see the neighboring properties.
MALE 5: So, if I would bring that down to Field Days, do we have time to kinda look at that?
DANIEL: Yeah. Yeah. Just grab me or Grant. We’ll be happy to look at it.
MALE 5: (Inaudible) Okay. All right.
DANIEL: Hey, it was good seeing you. Enjoy the show. (Fades Out)
DANIEL: Clay and I really enjoyed meeting all the landowners, looking at property maps and helping them improve their habitat and their hunting.
DANIEL: Of course, Clay and I had to take a little time to walk around and enjoy the convention.
DANIEL: Even though we’ve got turkeys on the mind, we’ve already begin preparing for this year’s food plots. It may seem early to start talking about food plots, but this time of year is a great time to start taking soil samples.
DANIEL: Every year about this time, we come through and we take a soil sample from every food plot here at The Proving Grounds.
DANIEL: A soil sample is an easy way to figure out what’s in the soil. That way, when it comes time to fertilize or add minerals and nutrients to the soil, we know exactly how much to use and it will actually save us money in the long run.
DANIEL: It doesn’t take much equipment to do a proper soil sample. All you need is a clean shovel or a stainless steel soil probe and a five gallon bucket.
DANIEL: When you’re using a shovel or a soil probe, you want to make sure it’s clean before each soil sample. That means cleaning it in between each field that you test.
DANIEL: Soil samples are part of wildlife management, so we’re gonna let our spring intern, Jacob Hamilton, get a little hands on experience here at The Proving Grounds. And we’re gonna teach him how to do a soil sample.
DANIEL: All right, Jacob. Here we go. We’ve got our soil probe; we’ve got our bucket. We’re just gonna go out in the field.
DANIEL: There’s no need to fertilize if your soil doesn’t need it. You’re just throwing away money when you could be putting that money towards seed or other projects.
DANIEL: Forages that have the proper nutrients available are not only better for deer, but they’re more palatable and deer will seek those forages first.
DANIEL: Well, Jacob, the first thing that we’re gonna do is we want to get that soil probe down in the soil zero to five inches – that’s the zone of the roots. That’s kinda hard to do here in The Proving Grounds. We’ve got a lot of rocks. And then, we’ll take this and move on.
DANIEL: So, as we do this entire plot, I want a good representation. We’re probably gonna do, you know, 10 to 15 samples on this end of the plot. And we want to get high; we want to get low; we want to get in the middle. And we’re just randomly going through and taking soil samples.
DANIEL: See all those pieces of rye and wheat? They just go right in there.
DANIEL: If we get a big rock or something, we’ll throw it out, but, we want everything right in there.
DANIEL: Don’t just walk through your plot and say, “Ooo, that spot over there has great forage,” and test only there. Test randomly.
DANIEL: Don’t be afraid to put the soil probe through a clump of wheat or through a turnip. All that’s gonna decay and be recycled into the soil.
DANIEL: Soil samples aren’t just for the large feeding plots. We also want to take soil samples of our hidey hole food plots.
DANIEL: In these small plots, quality forage doesn’t only mean great nutrition for deer. We want palatability, so those deer will come in and feed and be within bow range.
DANIEL: These small plots – I like these. They don’t take very long.
DANIEL: Oh, there’s a good.
DANIEL: I bet you there’s sheds out there not too far from us.
DANIEL: A lot of organic matter here. Look at all that clover and rye. (Inaudible)
DANIEL: Well, Jacob did a great job taking a bunch of samples here in this food plot. We’re gonna mix ‘em up; put ‘em in the bag; and they’ll be ready to send off to the lab.
DANIEL: Break up all those little parts from the soil probe. There’s a rock there. I’m gonna go ahead and throw that rock out so it doesn’t break the machine at the lab.
DANIEL: Take a little handful and we’ll fill it up in the bag. Just like that. We’ll fold that bag over. And this food plot is done.
DANIEL: Over the years, we’ve created a list of all our food plots with a corresponding number.
DANIEL: When we send the bag in, we just send it labeled with the number. Because we know that number 23 is Blue Hole, 34 is North Boom and so on. This makes it easy for us, as we track our soil samples year to year. It also makes it easy for the lab. They don’t need to know the name of your food plot. They just need a number and they’re good to go.
DANIEL: When we’ve taken the soil samples from all our food plots, it’s time to box ‘em up and mail ‘em to the lab.
DANIEL: Over the years, we’ve tried several different labs. But we have found that Waters Ag has great results and that’s where we send our soil samples every year.
DANIEL: It won’t be long before we get the soil test results back and we can’t wait to share ‘em with you.
DANIEL: If you’re getting ready for turkey season or thinking about food plots, subscribe to our weekly newsletter where we share tips and updates weekly.
DANIEL: I’ll be honest – this past week has been a difficult time here at The Proving Grounds. But the GrowingDeer Team has found peace in our Creator.
DANIEL: I hope you slow down and take time this week to listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
DANIEL: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.