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GRANT: Monday, May 6th. I had another great turkey hunt with a big ole gobbler and I looked at the food plots to see why.
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GRANT: The Proving Grounds is a series of real steep ridges and narrow valleys and the toms typically roost either on the point of a ridge or about two-thirds up the ridge. And I find it’s best to start on the ridge top and get them to pitch closer to us.
GRANT: Adam and I made it to about 200 yards from where a power line crosses Cave Ridge and we have a small clover food plot planted there. As we were stopped, the birds were gobbling and we both thought they were roosted right on the edge of that food plot.
GRANT: As most experienced turkey hunters can, we can tell the difference between that roost gobble and when they hit the ground. And there wasn’t much distance in between. They must have flew down right in that clover food plot.
GRANT: After a little bit of calling, Adam caught a glimpse of those gobblers coming down the road just about as far as we could see and unfortunately, jakes come in and flanked those gobblers. And Adam could clearly see the tom strutting in the road and the jakes getting behind him. But we were afraid those gobblers were going to chase those jakes off the ridge and leave us sittin’ there with only a decoy to show for our effort. Gobblers drifted back toward the food plot and we could just barely catch motion every now and then through the trees, but we knew we were still in the game.
GRANT: Growing a little impatient after all this time, we did a little bit more aggressive calling and it sure seemed like those gobbles sounded a little bit closer. After the aggressive calling, we heard a little bit of disturbance in the leaves to the left and I was hoping those toms were going to try to slip into the timber.
GRANT: Focusing that area, I saw a couple of deer coming up to our left.
GRANT: Almost any time of the year, I love seeing deer. But when I’ve got gobblers approaching, and deer coming in downwind, I thought this might be a recipe for the end of the hunt.
GRANT: Sure enough, the lead deer apparently caught our scent stream and our turkey hunting gear and started blowing and stomping and making a ruckus.
GRANT: Adam and I are both focused and in position for the gobblers to come down the road. Adam’s got the camera there. The gun’s pointed that way and we’re really whispering back and forth what to do with these deer interrupting our hunt.
GRANT: I love it when gobblers gobble during the approach and I can see their committed to coming and it’s all enjoyment now as we sit back and watch this hunt unfold.
ADAM: (Whispering) Shoot.
GRANT: (Whispering) Deer (inaudible). Oh, hey. That’s my bird on you’re on.
GRANT: All right I’m going in deep. Well, I think what closed the deal on that, not only was the great calling you were doing, but we had a couple of deer come in here to our left and they were in the leaves, making noise, the snorting and although I was worried about that and ready to punch a tag…
GRANT: …on one of those does.
GRANT: I think that very natural sound…
GRANT: That curiosity, because those birds didn’t come in strutting. They came in curious and looking.
GRANT: And they weren’t really looking at the decoy that much, although they did come up the road. They came in very curious and the deer stayed pretty much in the area through the whole ordeal.
GRANT: But, whatever it is, there’s turkey breast waiting.
GRANT: About an inch. Big ole beard on this thing. Look at this rope on here. I didn’t know it was that big. Holey moley. I’m loving that. Look at that. Huge rope on there. Certainly a sign of great health. It’s thick. It’s full and long. But it’s peppered with shot. The shot was on. Not all that heavy, but you expect that at this stage of the breeding season. The shot was true and my season is officially over as I tag two birds in Missouri. My memories will last a lifetime and so will the lessons. Both of my Missouri hunts were very long, extended hunts, in the timber, being patient and allowing the toms to come to me versus trying to get up and close the distance.
GRANT: And after the hunt’s over and we’ve tagged the bird and checked it all out, we want to look inside the crop to see what this bird’s been eating. Knowing that this tom was roosted really close to a little hidey hole food plot planted in clover, and that the clover is one of the lushest plants this time of year, it was no surprise to find fresh clover in this gobbler’s crop.
GRANT: This is when clover is at its peak all year long. It’s gonna green up before the soil temperature is even warm enough to plant softer seeded other forage varieties. A huge advantage to clover is it can provide a lot of tonnage this time of year during spring green up before most forages you would plant have even germinated. I see trails and where deer have been eating; bit off stems all around me, but this clover field, even though it’s small, is clearly providing more tons of forage than the local deer herd can consume.
GRANT: These small locations will more than carry our deer herd during this time of year providing great nutrition for developing fawns, mothers producing milk for their fawns and bucks producing antlers.
GRANT: The wheat served to feed the deer herd last fall and as a cover crop so deer wouldn’t browse on, and even the elements wouldn’t hurt, the very young clover. Clover is clearly coming up through here now, getting plenty of sunshine. This wheat will go to seed, die off, critters may eat the seed heads off top while the clover is still going strong. We’ll talk more later about maintaining this clover, but unless it gets wheaty, we won’t do a thing. Even though it looks big, some people want to tend to mow it, but there’s no need to destroy the forage you’ve paid to fertilize and resources to produce. You need to let deer consume what they want and still produce the new leaves and lush and when that browns off, you still don’t have to mow it. Just take care of the weeds; make sure it’s well fed and this clover, once it starts raining again this fall, will come out strong and lush.
GRANT: Rapidly growing clover usually has a lot of beneficial insects in there and turkeys love the bugs. So, the combination of the bugs and the lush forage make it a great crop for spring turkey hunters. As it dries out and that clover starts to stop its growth rate, or even go dormant, depending on the amount of moisture, that’s when the beans are up and rolling and feeding the deer herd.
GRANT: I hope you have an opportunity to get out and evaluate your food plots this week. Take a moment to appreciate creation and most importantly, listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.
GRANT: I was just gonna walk up here and be done.
ADAM: (Laughing) Yeah, that would have been too easy.