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>>GRANT: It is May 18th, and I’m getting ready to plant a hidey hole food plot that we call Kingpin. This is one of my favorite little, small hunting food plots. I personally have tagged a mature buck out here and some does, and others have tagged deer out of here. It’s just a great location. It’s in the middle of a pretty large block of contiguous timber – no other large food plots around it.
>>GRANT: So, before the acorn fall or after the acorn fall, this is gonna be very attractive to deer. We’ve got a pair of Summits hanging right over here. So, when the wind is right, we can come in either way from this way, slide into the stands, so we can approach, hunt, and exit without alerting deer that are feeding in the plot.
>>GRANT: We had a winter blend in here last year. It had, of course, small grains. You see the cereal rye standing up and oat and wheats down lower. Cereal rye is gonna be the tallest of the small grains – a lot of biomass – probably not as palatable early on as oats. That’s why I have oats in here. And – and then the wheat is kind of a mid-season. Of course, the cereal rye will grow down to 28 degrees, so it’s gonna be palatable later on, and brassicas and clovers and winter peas, a lot of things. And it’s served its purpose, but we terminated this recently with glyphosate. Let me just take a moment and talk about herbicides.
>>GRANT: Now, I look at herbicides as a tool, almost like going to the dentist or getting a, you know, root canal drilled out. It’s something I don’t want to do, but I use it when it’s necessary.
>>GRANT: And we had some weeds coming on in here. When you’ve got a small food plot like this and a lot of shade and a lot of deer browse pressure, you may not get a full canopy. You’ll notice this is a lot thinner than in the big food plot where we’ve recently showed you using a no-till drill. So, you’re gonna get weeds because you don’t have as much canopy or biomass growing. More sun hits the surface, and that allows weeds to grow.
>>GRANT: So, we use an herbicide to terminate this, and it’s forecast for this afternoon and tomorrow to have a pretty good rain. So, today we’re gonna broadcast some seeds. And my objective here is to have a good crop growing in the summer to limit the amount of weeds growing during the summer and to improve the soil’s health.
>>GRANT: We know there’s lots of research out there that shows that when you plant a very diverse mix – you’ve got grasses and in summer that may be milo or corn or sorghums; and forbs – that could be beans or peas; buckwheat. There’s all kinds of forbs, sunflowers, and brassicas. In the summer, I may have a collard or something like that – that all those different species working together do much more to improve the soil than a monoculture.
>>GRANT: So, we’re gonna plant a blend in here. But this is a small plot – like a tenth of an acre, just a tenth of an acre. It’s a hidey hole or a kill plot. We’re not gonna feed deer all summer. If this was the only little thing I was counting on feeding deer in this much timber, they’d wipe it out about two weeks after I planted it, and it’d just be a waste of time and resources.
>>GRANT: But I’m planting this to improve the soil for the fall crop and to control weeds, so I can come in here in the fall crop and plant a real attractive blend to attract deer. And that’s gonna work best early season before the acorns fall and late season. But even when the acorns fall, deer tend to cruise through here just getting a bite of greens along with all the acorns, and then we use this in one other way, which is really effective.
>>GRANT: Deer, of course, are going to use scrapes. That’s their communication point. That’s like their cell phone; like, we all huddle around our cell phone and communicate with other people. I used to talk about phone booths, but there’s few of those anymore.
>>GRANT: And scrapes are a point of communication where deer can deposit pheromones or external hormones and communicate with other deer maybe their status of “I’m receptive” or “I’m looking for a date” or whatever it is. And all deer use scrapes – immature deer, button bucks, female fawns, does, and bucks use scrapes.
>>GRANT: But if you think about a scrape maybe behind me right on the edge of the timber; well, deer are going to where their view is blocked and maybe can’t hear quite as well and they’re more vulnerable to predation. So, in a situation like this, we put a mock scrape about 20 yards from our tree stand and orient that bottom limb so a deer is gonna be positioned and the vitals are exposed to the hunter. A deer is gonna use that mock scrape almost always because it’s out in the open. And they can detect predators or other deer coming in much easier than when their head is buried in the edge of a thicket. So, this is an ideal place to put a mock scrape.
>>GRANT: So, we’ve got the attraction of a food source that’s not available anywhere else in this closed-canopy forest and that mock scrape communication point – well, that makes this a great hunting setup.
>>GRANT: (Whispering) Are you on it?
>>GRANT: (Whispering) Are you on it, Daniel?
>>GRANT: Basically, this is a bottleneck. We often think of bottlenecks as a physical barrier. Maybe a creek has a really steep bank, or there’s a bluff, or a field edge, or something like that. And it’s a reason for deer to funnel in a narrow area, like an hourglass or a bottleneck.
>>GRANT: But this bottleneck is designed or created by having a really attractive food source that’s not available in the rest of this closed-canopy forest. So, we’re making a bottleneck by using food or a really limited resource. And we’re gonna plant it this summer, and deer will browse on it – and that’s part of my objective but not the total. We’re really preparing right now for the crop that will make this a successful hunting location during the fall.
>>GRANT: We’ve got a lot of rain coming, and this is quite a ways from our shop, and really small, so, we’re gonna use the broadcast technique. We’re going to broadcast seed. We’re gonna be broadcasting Green Cover Food Plot’s Summer Release Blend. It’s got all the different species I was talking about – a very diverse blend. It works well for broadcasting as well as planting it with a no-till drill.
>>GRANT: We’ve shared this before but through the years, why, I’ve planted food plots and then it germinates, you come back and you’ve got gaps or it’s too heavy over here or you say, “I only need this much seed,” and you run out. So, I developed techniques to limit that.
>>GRANT: And basically we hold that broadcaster really high, spin it fairly slow, and walk fast so that way we usually have to double cover it. We have to go north and south and east and west, and that gives us good coverage. And we don’t run out of seed before we get to the end of the plot.
>>GRANT: We’ll demonstrate that now. We’ve got a new class of GrowingDeer interns, and we’ll introduce those through the summer. But we’re gonna get to work now and show those guys my technique so they can learn, and we’ll get a successful food plot established, hopefully, with this rain coming.
>>GRANT: And I always talk about rain right after broadcasting because those raindrops falling do a couple things. They’ll physically help make that seed get contact in soil by hitting it. And they may – probably not much here because of the duff on the ground but – help splash a little dirt up on the seed. Seed to be successful needs to have seed-to-soil contact. If it’s on top of debris or something and it will germinate – we talk about germination.
>>GRANT: Being a successful sprout or seedling is just as important, and we have to have that root get in the soil so it can feed. And so we got to get seed-to-soil contact so that root gets in the soil right off the bat.
>>GRANT: Now, we’re planting the Summer Release Blend, which with a drill is about 40 pounds per acre. But broadcasting – I see some leaves and stuff. Not all the seed’s gonna work. It’s not going to be as efficient as using a no-till drill. So, we’ll probably plant this at 80 pounds per acre when we’re broadcasting. Seed is usually the least expensive part of establishing the food plot.
>>GRANT: I’m not adding any fertilizer now. Again, I’m just protecting weeds and improving the soil. I may add a bit of synthetic fertilizer, like 10-10-10 or triple 13 this fall, just to sweeten this crop and make it even a bit more palatable.
>>GRANT: Now, I don’t like adding synthetic fertilizer, but this is a tenth of an acre. I’m not adding a lot of pollution. It’s all forest around here. It’s not gonna run off and get into someone’s watershed, get into someone’s well. So, I will add fertilizer in small plots like this, but not much. because you see all this biomass out here. These plants took up nutrients from the soil all through last fall, winter, and spring, and now that they’re terminated, they’re gonna release those nutrients for the new crop.
>>GRANT: I’ll look and see how the next crop is going – the crop we’re going to plant now and make a decision during August whether I wish to add fertilizer or not.
>>GRANT: That’s our setup. We’re gonna get to work, and it’s important to manage these. Some people just allow them to go to weeds all summer. That may not be all bad. You’re gonna have grasses and forbs, probably won’t have any brassicas. That can improve the soil too, but those weeds make a big seed base. And those seeds can compete with future crops. So, I’d just soon keep those weed seeds outta here. You may be saying, “Well, Grant, you got seeds now, and you don’t want cereal rye competing with your summer crop.” And you’re right.
>>GRANT: And that’s why we terminated that before these seeds were viable. They were just starting getting in the dough stage – they’re formed, get a little moisture in there – but they were not hard. They were not viable seeds. So, none of these seeds are gonna be viable and compete with the summer crop.
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>>GRANT: We’re gonna do some planting here. How many of y’all have ever used – broadcast seed before? Anyone ever broadcast seed?
>>INTERN: I have.
>>GRANT: Okay, all right.
>>GRANT: So, it just, you know, goes over your shoulders. It’s called an over-the-shoulder broadcaster. And what I like to do is just kinda set it up here like this, because if you got it angled up a little bit, you’re throwing a wider cone, and obviously if you’re angled down, you just, you know, you don’t cover as much ground. And ideally, we want really good coverage. We don’t want bare spots out there or a lot of double coverage, but I’d rather have double coverage than bare spots. And so, you’re gonna do it like this.
>>GRANT: And this is your gauge of how much is coming out. This is no big deal. You can set it, and I would do that if I was planting acres. But these small things like this, what I do is just – I’ll just carry it like this and have a finger or a thumb on here, and I can see, “Oh that looks like about enough.” And basically, I just want to see a good cone. I don’t want it super thick, or I’ll run out of seed. And that way if I stopped at any small plots, pick a limb up, throw it out of the way, or whatever, I can just let off the gauge there, and it’s not more seed just pouring out. Because if you leave it open, seed will fall on this, and then the first time you turn it, there’d be a big, ‘ole, you know, plunge of seed out there.
>>GRANT: An important thing is if you think you missed, back up, or, you know, sometimes, you know, whatever, I see a deer, and I turn this way, “Oh, I gotta turn this way and throw the seed out.” You know, it’s not as precise as a no-till drill. But you just kinda work it out. Okay?
>>GRANT: All right. We’ll get some seed in here. So, we think this is about a tenth of an acre, and we’re gonna plant the equivalent of 80 pounds per acre, so we need to plant about 8 pounds. And again, this isn’t precise. If we plant a nine or seven, you know, we’d never know the difference probably.
>>GRANT: On these small plots, it’s not rocket science, and I want to err on the heavier amount. Because in these small plots, man, squirrels and turkeys and cardinals – grain-eating critters – it’s like the dinner bell goes off. I don’t know how they find it. I don’t know how they communicate.
>>GRANT: My wife has a great theory, and I think she’s right. The birds have good sight – like cardinals, grain-eating birds, big-beaked birds find it first – and they make feeding calls, and turkeys have learned, “Well, man that cardinal has found something to eat on. I need to go check it out because I’m a grain eater too.” Squirrels, of course, they’re just cruising all the time, and, man, they tell their buddies. There’d be like a party here tonight; be little squirrels dancing and stuff.
>>GRANT: So, anyway, but that’s one thing about the rain. A warm rain coming in will cause those seeds to germinate quickly, and once they germinate, they decrease in palatability. The chemistry changes in the seed, so that – that won’t stop. Okay?
>>GRANT: All right. We’re gonna fill up here.
>>GRANT: Again, we talked about planting a really diverse blend. You can see, man, there’s sunflowers and all kinds of big, small, medium-size seed in there. And when you have that diversity blend, you get a lotta, lotta better soil interaction going on. So, I’m gonna try to pour four or five pounds in there, and then we’ll fill up another one.
>>GRANT: And then we’ll add inoculant. Because some of these are legumes, and inoculant is the bacteria that interacts with those seeds or that plant, actually, to allow it to take nitrogen out of the air – it’s called fixing nitrogen – and put it in the soil or let that plant use it.
>>GRANT: This is inoculant. Now, it looks tough, right? But it – that’s just peat moss. So, it’s not gonna hurt ya. You know, you get it on your hands, touch your face. You’re not gonna be like, you know, shrimping out there. And we’re just gonna use a little – it doesn’t take much. And I usually put too much in there. Inoculant is cheap, and it’s really effective. So, I just put it in here. It’s called dry mixing. I just put it in there and just work it, work it, work it.
>>GRANT: Ideally, just a little bit – you can see it on there – will get on every seed. It doesn’t take much. Bacteria, you know – a teaspoon of bacteria like out of a deer’s gut would have over a trillion microbes in it; a trillion bacteria – just a teaspoon full. And there’s only about eight billion people on the planet – seven, eight, nine, depending on who you believe. A trillion bacteria in a teaspoon. So, it doesn’t take much.
>>GRANT: We’re at another hidey hole called Blackberry Patch. The guys are doing a great job of seeding it. They’ve caught on quickly. This is a great area because there’s a traditional scrape right back here in the corner. Deer come through here get a bite, hit that scrape, and right behind there we got some Summit stands. Looking forward to watching this one grow.
>>GRANT: Finishing up our last hidey hole food plot for this morning. This one’s called Slab Town. There’s a lotta slab rock out there. I’m amazed at how well it grows.
>>GRANT: And I get a lotta questions from folks who have rough land like this, or for whatever reason don’t have access to a no-till drill or to tractors, whatever. I mean Tracy and I started on 13 acres the same way. I did everything by hand. And the question usually is something like, “How can I get the benefits of The Release Process without using a no-till drill or a Goliath Crimper or something like that?” And to be really honest, you can’t get 100% of those benefits, but you can come close. Just starting the process – whether it’s in the spring or the fall – you need to terminate whatever’s growing there.
>>GRANT: A lot of people ask if they can just mow it. Well, mowing the grass in your yard doesn’t kill it and mowing out here will not kill all the species. It might terminate some, but it won’t terminate ‘em all. So, you can get a foot crimper from RTP Outdoors; you’ve seen us use one of those before. That tends to work better on a little thicker stand than what we had here, where it was so much slab rock. Or you can use an herbicide. But in this process, we tend to do it before we plant, where when I’m using the equipment, we plant first and then terminate. It’s called planting green.
>>GRANT: If we did this technique – planting green – a lot more of the seed would not reach this soil. And then we get a crop growing. We want it really thick to out compete the weeds. And then we’ll replicate that process this fall, and I may or may not add just a little bit of fertilizer, like one bag of 10-10-10 on a small plot like this. This is a tenth of an acre or less, so, that’d be 500 pounds per acre, so just one bag to get those plants growing.
>>GRANT: And, again, you can replicate The Release Process, but you won’t get all the benefits without getting really good seed-to-soil contact, like a no-till drill guarantees, and using that crimper to terminate the crop without an herbicide. And by terminating with the crimper, you get a really good weed mat that covers that. You’re covering the soil really well so it doesn’t get as warm and that means more moisture is staying in the soil versus evaporating.
>>GRANT: There’s advantages to using, you know, the right tools for the job, and what I’m seeing more and more people do is form a small co-op. Y’all know I’m in part of a big co-op – the Branson Deer Co-op. I think there’s 60 plus landowners in there. It’s all volunteer. No rules. We just exchange information. But I’m seeing equipment co-ops – guys that don’t have enough acres maybe to justify a no-till drill or a crimper – getting together with another landowner close by and they split the cost and the use. So, they get all the benefits, but they’ve only got half the money in it, or they rent a drill from a local seed or seed company or the NRCS or something like that.
>>GRANT: A lot of ways to skin the cat. The most important is we all work together to improve the soil’s health, which improves the health of the wildlife – the critters eating this – and lets us all do a better job of just protecting the environment.
>>GRANT: I just heard a turkey gobble. That makes me so excited. Because you know I’m planting a good food plot here. I’m sure they’ll be bugging in here and eating in here soon.
>>GRANT: You know, this working outside is a great way to enjoy Creation – especially with some friends. We’ve got a new batch of interns here.
>>GRANT: And more importantly, take time every day to be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
>>GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.