Tools and Tips for Managing Whitetails (Episode 170 Transcript)

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

GRANT: Friday, February 15th. And another busy week at The Proving Grounds. AJ and I went down to Oklahoma to help a fellow landowner and I want to share with you one of the most important tools of being a deer manager and a deer hunter.

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GRANT: AJ and I had the privilege to be invited down to help Mr. Walt Haskins near Pryor, Oklahoma develop a management plan for his property.

GRANT: Mr. Haskins has about 500 acres in Oklahoma and he and his family and guests have had some successful hunts there, but he really wanted to increase not only the productivity of his land, but the huntability of his land so he can capitalize on the hard work they’re doing.

GRANT: Designing wildlife management and hunting plans really drives me. Working literally from New Zealand to Canada and everywhere there’s a whitetail in between has been the basis for my education. College gave me the textbook, but that field experience for 20 plus years has allowed me to read the lay of the land and to implement the best plan for that property. That’s why we try to share with you every week here at

GRANT: One of the most important tools in all of my deer management and hunting arsenal is a soil probe. We’ve showed you how to take a soil sample, but I want to spend just a little bit of time going into why and the advantages as we head into the spring planting season.

GRANT: Deer are just a product of what’s in the dirt and the way to monitor the dirt is by collecting soil samples. So at the foundation of all deer or wildlife management is the knowledge that plants are transfer agents. They transfer nutrients out of the ground and some out of the air to the consumer or to the wildlife that’s eating them.

GRANT: I have admitted in the past that I love antlers. My wife loves shed hunting, but really as a wildlife biologist, I’m most concerned about healthy does producing healthy fawns.

GRANT: In this particular field that we call Hidey Hole One, I’ve been applying Antler Dirt, our composted and humified poultry litter for about six years now. And you can see by the dirt, it’s as black – which means it’s rich in carbon – as any soil you would find in Illinois, Ohio or Iowa, the big buck states. And I know how much I need to add or not add each year by doing a soil sample. I want to walk an “x” pattern through the field so I get a random sample and I may take ten or twenty little samples throughout an acre; put ‘em all in my clean bucket, stir that up and take a sub-sample to send to the lab. I use a B-4 test from Waters Agriculture – there’s a link below me now, showing you that website – and that allows me to monitor several trace minerals as well as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.

GRANT: Another huge advantage of maximum yield is it makes these plants higher quality and concentrates the deer, making them easier to pattern for hunting.

GRANT: While you’re practicing your turkey calls this spring and getting ready for turkey season, you need to be thinking about growing healthier fawns and larger antlers. It all starts in the dirt.

GRANT: It’s certainly true that the better quality soil, the more carbon, the more organic matter, the more moisture it can hold, but when you have a record drought like we experienced last year, here at The Proving Grounds, the driest year in 118 years of record keeping, no amount of soil preparation is going to allow those plants, and therefore the deer, to express their full potential.

GRANT: One insurance policy, and a great tool, is supplemental feeding – especially during those stressful periods. There’s more to supplemental feeding than just pitching a bag of corn out on the ground.

GRANT: Let’s go right around; like about this. Yeah. I got this. You hop inside there, AJ. Just don’t let it hit that back side back there. It’s going to hit the back side. See? Put’s a lot of pressure on that. There you go.

GRANT: Through a lot of research, it became obvious that Cargill is the largest nutrition research company for livestock and specialty animals throughout the United States.

GRANT: Many years ago, they put their research muscle behind whitetail deer to figure out the exact rations that interact with the bacteria in a deer’s gut or rumen to get the maximum benefit out of their antler growth and fawn development potential. The results of that research is Record Rack feeds and all of that research going into deer, not cattle or goats or something else is why I choose these Record Rack feeds here at The Proving Grounds where I want to take the best care of deer I possibly can.

GRANT: Missouri law is such that all feed must be removed about 10 days before the start of turkey season. We’re a long ways from that, we want to help our deer herd and turkey flock out. It’s been a very stressful year with EHD and two record droughts back to back and nothing solves a stressful situation like high quality feed.

GRANT: Mmmm. I’m going to have a little myself here. Let the antler growth begin. In addition to selecting the feed, it’s how you present that feed to wildlife that’s just as important for the health of the herd. So the boys and I put out some brand new Redneck feeders this morning that meet that criteria exactly.

GRANT: Given the massive outbreak of EHD we’ve experienced here and two summers of record drought, I’m very excited to start this supplemental feeding program and I’ll keep you posted on exactly how we do it and the results we observe.

GRANT: February 14th – Valentine’s Day and I’m getting ready to go show a little love to some coyotes in Northern Missouri and Illinois. And just like I shopped ahead of time and got the appropriate gifts for Tracy, Raleigh and Rae, and I gave ‘em to them this morning; I want to make sure “Ole Bessie” here is sighted in so I can give the appropriate gift – the new Winchester Varmint load to some coyotes up in Northern Missouri.

GRANT: I always want to open my bolt as soon as I fire to let heat leave from both ends – the muzzle and the breach of the gun, especially when sighting in. Getting that heat out of the barrel will replicate a hunting situation.

GRANT: I believe it cut the bullet hole. Oh, that baby will shoot. First two shots with the new Winchester VarmintX .223 and I am thrilled. The first shot is right here – exactly two inches above center. Cutting the center line. Second shot cut that bullet hole in half. So it’s overlapping about half the width of a bullet hole. You know, it would be a quarter inch or less group at 100 yards. Two inches high puts me on out there at two or three hundred yards, where there’s no hold over. We are ready to collect some fur.

GRANT: I was stunned that the first two shots with that new load, the VarmintX from Winchester, literally cut the same hole at 100 yards. Good optics and good ammo with a stable shooting platform gave me all the confidence I need to literally have that gun tuned into a single hole group and there’s no doubt in my mind that if I miss on this coyote hunt, you can put all the blame on me because “Ole Bessie” is sighted in.

GRANT: Whether you’re pulling soil samples, putting out some supplemental feed or sighting in your rifle, I hope you get outdoors and take a look around and enjoy Creation this week and most importantly, take time to develop a relationship with the Creator. Thanks for watching

GRANT: I think I’ll shoot one more just ‘cause It’s fun. Is that okay? Fire in the hole.