Same Property, 2014 VS 2020: New Plan for Even Bigger Deer!

Same Property, 2014 VS 2020: New Plan for Even Bigger Deer!


GRANT: This plan is a – it’s not just a
next step up the ladder from the first plan. That met your goals. MARTIN: Uh-huh. GRANT: This is a quantum leap. I mean, we’ve got a lot more food. GRANT: During 2014, I traveled to western
Oklahoma to help Martin Smith and his two young sons develop a habitat improvement and
hunting strategy plan for a property they had recently purchased. GRANT: During the tour Martin shared that
his goals were for him and his sons to be able to see a lot of deer and harvest a lot
of deer. The quality of the deer was not an issue at
that time. GRANT: Based on Martin’s objectives, I designed
several food plots that were the appropriate size for hunting and that were easy to approach. GRANT: During the past five years, Martin
and his sons and his guests have tagged several deer. Some of those were the hunter’s first deer
or the hunter’s first buck. GRANT: As Martin’s sons have matured as
hunters, so have their objectives. They now wish to hunt mature bucks with larger
antlers. And to do that, they realized they needed
a different habitat program and hunting strategy. GRANT: Tyler and I recently returned to the
Smith farm to see the improvements Martin has made during the past five years and to
help them with a plan that will allow him and his family to meet their new harvest objectives. GRANT: We toured an area at the north end
of the farm which had a great stand of native grass. Martin didn’t plant this stand of native
grasses. You know that by how steep and rolling this
part of the property is. However, those seeds were in the seed bank
and responded to Martin’s habitat management. GRANT: Before Martin purchased the property,
it had been heavily grazed by cattle. The cattle were allowed to roam the entire
farm. They weren’t grazed in a rotational basis. And that resulted in the cattle eating the
best vegetation and leaving the rest and causing erosion in some areas. GRANT: When Martin purchased the property,
the cattle were removed, the land was allowed to heal a little bit and Martin also introduced
prescribed fire. As a response to these management techniques,
native grasses exploded in this area. GRANT: Previously, Martin had only used prescribed
fire during the early spring or the dormant season. And I shared with Martin that by using fire
on a rotation of dormant and growing season burns, it would encourage not only native
grasses but forbs. And a blend of grasses and forbs is much better
habitat than a monoculture of native grasses. GRANT: Working with Martin and Aaron out here
on the property in western Oklahoma and there’s an area right behind this that some people
might consider a wasteland. It is tough to hunt, but I think it’s a
great asset to your property. It’s got great native grass component all
through here. GRANT: Now, it hasn’t been burned in a while,
so the grass has taken over. There’s not a lot of forbs or legumes which
would be better food, but we’re gonna put some prescribed fire back in here and change
that. We need a growing season fire. GRANT: Growing season fires encourage grasses
and forbs and will knock back the grass just a little bit – not get rid of – there’s
obviously a huge seed base, but knock it back so there’s some sun getting down there to
get some forbs growing. GRANT: And also, fell these eastern red cedars. Just leave them lay. And then the next fire, we’ll burn it. Normally, we say two years, but there’s
– the humidity is so much lower on average in this part of Oklahoma, you may be able
to wait just one year. Because you don’t want the cedars to shed
all their needles. Then there won’t be enough fuel to get up
there and burn those limbs on the top. GRANT: So anyway, this is a tremendous pre-rut
and rut area because bucks will push does literally up in here. There’s all these little gullies and ravines
and hidden places. And man, if we put a Redneck blind right where
we are, and you’re looking out over this, we’re talking about rifle hunting, of course. Perfect for the pre-rut and rut. GRANT: So this is a rifle hunting opportunity
or a scouting opportunity to see how deer are coming up to the food source or when bucks
are trying to separate does out during the rut. This is going to be a huge asset to the property. GRANT: What is neat about this portion of
Martin’s property is how well it responded to removing the cattle and introducing prescribed
fire. The results of Martin’s management is even
more obvious when we look right across the fence on the neighboring farm. GRANT: I’m still working on Martin’s property
in western Oklahoma, and I’m on the border so you can see the fence line. And across the fence line is grazed and that
landowner is obviously not using rotational grazing. Cows are just staying on there and they’ve
consumed what we’re seeing here to the dirt. GRANT: There’s not much quality food. There’s no wildlife habitat and it’s much
more prone to erosion. If they had used rotational grazing where
the cows are really on and then moved off, this would flush back and is much better for
the land, much better for wildlife and it will be more profitable for the farmer because
there would be something to eat. When cows do this, they select the best – eat
the best food – and leave the rest, and it becomes a weed patch. GRANT: So just a little point that cattle
grazing can be used to make really high-quality wildlife habitat, but it requires a break
from the conventional – just turn ‘em out in the pasture and leave ‘em – and using
a rotational grazing program. GRANT: The sparse ground cover on that farm
is allowing erosion and certainly not providing quality wildlife habitat. GRANT: We also visited several of the food
plots on Martin’s farm. When I first toured Martin’s farm, he was
using tillage as part of his planting program and I explained that tillage greatly increases
the chance for erosion and causes loss of soil moisture. GRANT: What I really want to see you get into
is 100% what we call conservation tillage. So you’re going to – let’s just, for an
example, you might have wheat or oats and, of course, once they go to head, they’re – it’s
nothing really for deer. Once it goes out of the blade stage – MARTIN: It’s kind of moot. GRANT: Yeah. Once it goes out of blade stage and starts
making that round stock, deer are off of it unless they’re starving. UNKNOWN: Yeah. GRANT: We’re just going to spray it with glyphosate,
kill it and no-till drill right into it with your drill, whatever your next crop is and
– and two things are going to happen. When you turn soil, especially this clay,
any moisture you’ve saved, evaporates and you’re going to build up organic matter, or
a black layer of dirt on top of this clay. GRANT: This clay, of course, compacts really easy and if you’ll switch to no-till or
conservation tillage and allow those root systems to penetrate and especially if you
will use some brassicas and radishes, they have the big bulbs. You really bust that up and you’ll be amazed
how productive this land will be. MARTIN: Okay. GRANT: I mean, amazed. GRANT: Martin agreed and has now adopted the
Buffalo System. He’s now using a no-till drill and planting
right through the standing crop so there’s always food available in his food plots. GRANT: We’re at a small hunting size food
plot, less than an acre here, that Martin just created about a year ago. And I think it’s interesting how Martin
established this plot. Martin, would you mind sharing with us how
you did this? MARTIN: So yes, Grant. It was about a year ago, a friend of mine
and my son and his son, we came in here. We had – we had burned this area about four
years ago – GRANT: Uh-huh. MARTIN: – so there was a lot of cedar skeletons. We cleaned all those up and we got rid of
most of the sticks, and then in the spring we came in here sprayed this with glyphosate,
planted Eagle beans – and this being a small plot and just a great bedding area – and the
deer just annihilated the beans. MARTIN: And then in the fall, we planted the
Buffalo Blend. As you can see, it’s well grazed off. GRANT: Uh-huh. MARTIN: But we just sprayed this with glyphosate
and drilled right through the grass and it’s done quite well. GRANT: Yeah, so you never disked. You never disturbed the soil really. MARTIN: Did not. GRANT: You just – you pushed off a couple
of cedar skeletons from a prescribed fire, drilled right in that grass mat that was there
and let that hold the soil in place, so if you got a big thunderstorm or something, you
wouldn’t have a lot of erosion and now, boy, there’s scat all over this. GRANT: I mean, it’s a small plot in a bedding
area, like I said, so it’s getting browsed hard, but deer are definitely using it. MARTIN: All the time. This was one of our best hunting plots this
fall. GRANT: Yeah. MARTIN: One of the great encounters here. GRANT: So just a easy way to establish a plot. You don’t have to get the turn plow and
the disking. That’s old technology and Martin has shown
it can be very successful just using a no-till drill and establishing a food plot. GRANT: For more information about the Buffalo
System, check the link in the description. GRANT: We continued touring Martin’s property
and discussing how to improve the habitat and hunting. GRANT: So you’re in a little food plot. Let’s just say it’s a little food plot
right here. A little food plot right here, and you come
over here right next to this thicket, and you’re a buck, and you come over here. and
you’re pawing and making a scrape and doing stuff. You’re pretty doggone vulnerable to predation. MARTIN: Yep. GRANT: And you’re right here next to the bushes. MARTIN: Yep. GRANT: And you’re – you’re not 20 yards off
the bushes over there, but you’re on the edge of a big, eight-acre food plot, it’s a little
tougher for a bobcat or a coyote to get up on you. GRANT: And that’s exactly why we’ve been
talking about pinch points. And I haven’t heard y’all mention this at
all. Mock scrapes – incredible tool. Incredible tool, because if we had, like right
here, there’s – I don’t know – 100 low-laying limbs around here. But if we come out here, 10 yards away from
the edge, or 15 or whatever, and put at T-post right here and get us an oak or hickory, something
durable that’s got a horizontal limb about four and half feet off the ground and put
us some – I use Code Blue synthetic – but put us some scent on there. And, you know, paw the ground up a little
bit, deer would much rather scrape here than over there because deer have binocular vision
for 60 degrees in front. Stereo vision, both eyes working. And that’s good depth perception. If you’ve got depth perception – if you’re
eating acorns or something and you didn’t have depth perception, you’d be bouncing
your nose on the ground. GRANT: But monocular vision, single vision,
sees movement much better. And they have about 120 degree monocular vision
on each side. GRANT: Where do the predators come from? The back or the side. They don’t come head-on. They come back or the side. So this is, gives you much better movement. GRANT: So a deer can stand here working a
scrape and see almost all around him, see if a predator is coming up behind him. That’s why mock scrapes work so well, or
you’re going to see more scrapes on a big field. And then just a simple factor, there’s more
bucks around that bigger field because there’s more food there. ANNOUNCER: GrowingDeer is brought to you by
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Yamaha, Fourth Arrow, onX Hunt, Scorpion Venom Archery, Bloodsport Arrows, Code Blue, D/Code, G5 Broadheads, Prime Bows, and Redneck Hunting Blinds. GRANT: As we walked the property, I found
another area that would make a great food plot and hunting location. GRANT: So, we’re working on Mr. Smith’s
property in western Oklahoma today and in this area, there is a lot of cedars. I’m sure it was a pasture many years ago;
and a little bit of an opening and he’s like, “How do I pattern deer in here? Where do I hang my stand?” And I had to answer, “I don’t know.” Because there’s no habitat feature here
that’s directing deer within 30, 40 yards of any place. And you said that, “Well, deer just kind
of move through here.” GRANT: So what I’ve laid out is a long,
skinny food plot. You don’t know this, but there’s a creek
over here not too far and it goes up a little hill to a large, feeding food plot. GRANT: So we’re going to make a long, skinny
food plot, stop about 70 yards off that food plot and about 70 yards out of the flood plain
this way. And deer are either attracted to that food
plot or you’ve got a bottleneck on either end. They’re going to go into cover on that end
or this end. So no matter the wind direction, north, south,
east or west, you can hunt this on one end or the other; and during the right time of
year when deer are coming to forage, hunt the food plots. That sound like an okay plan? MARTIN: Sounds really good. GRANT: So, and what I don’t want – we talked
about this earlier. We’ve been touring the property a little
bit. So let me catch you up. On some of the food plots they’ve already
created, they took the cedars or the hedge or whatever and just pushed them over to the
edge. GRANT: I hate it when I see that and I see
that all throughout the whitetails’ range, because what you’re doing – you know, you
push a big brush pile up. You’re making the perfect home for groundhogs
to eat your food plot down, coyotes, bobcats, Bigfoot, whoever, to live in there. And you don’t want to be attracting deer
right next to the coyote den. GRANT: So I want you, when you’re doing this,
to push the trees in piles, burn them – that’s releasing nutrients, decades of nutrients
that trees have taken out of the ground. Burn it, burn it, push it, burn it as much
as you can and then bury the stumps. And you’re not creating predator homes right
next to where you’re attracting deer. GRANT: After a great day of touring the property,
we returned to the lodge, warmed up a little bit and used onX to create a map showing all
the habitat improvements we discussed. GRANT: Well, we’re going to basically double
the size of food plots or add more acres of food plots I should say. Basically, on the south end of the property,
just the way the land lays. It’s one thing to force a plan, it’s another
to work with the land. GRANT: We’re a little bit flatter, some
old pastures down here that we can convert to food plots pretty easily. So we can see some large, feeding-area food
plots here. GRANT: And again, a lot of people look at
food plots one dimensional – source of food. I look at them as a source of food and creating
travel corridors around the edge because you may have acorns or maybe the rut. Deer aren’t worried about eating. And they don’t want to run through the middle
of a food plot. I mean, we’ve all seen the big buck, but
more deer running through the cover on the edge. GRANT: So in the design we have, we can see
right here, just a tremendous travel corridor here. All the deer coming this way that want to
end up over here by the creek are going to want to cut through here. GRANT: By designing several pinch points throughout
the property, Martin and his hunters can hunt on any given day no matter the wind direction. GRANT: We’ve got multiple small food plots. We enlarged a few of them. We’re going to add one here that, again,
we don’t necessarily need more food right here in – in Iowa because we’ve got these
big fields. But this long, skinny food plot will create
a bottleneck going through here and between the river and this side. GRANT: So this is adding some hunting food,
but really more importantly, creating some great pinch points. There’s two reasons for that a) we need
more food on this end of the property and b) we’ve got this huge bedding area, cover
area, security area. GRANT: Deer are going to want to travel through
this going to that food plot. Bucks are going to find receptive does and
build a kind of – they’ll actually herd them. Almost like a Border Collie working sheep
into this area. GRANT: Now, one thing you might find interesting
– we know at a minimum level, 25% of twin fawns are stepbrother/stepsister. The doe mates with multiple bucks during that
24- to 36-hour period she’s receptive. So you can imagine how much does get pestered
by bucks. She doesn’t want to be out in the open. She wants to be where it’s thick cover and
literally can get bushes and stuff between her and bucks that are trying to pester her. GRANT: So this area is just perfect for that. I couldn’t have laid it out better. And let’s put a big, tall Redneck on this
corner where we can kind of see all this way for the wind. One up on this corner. GRANT: We an approach on the eastern side. You have very few east winds in this part
of the world. Actually, any part of the world unless you’re
right by an ocean. GRANT: And so you can approach from the east
and on a north wind, hunt this one; on a south wind, hunt this one. Those deer will never know you’re in the world
and have a great view. GRANT: Part of my upgraded plan for Martin’s
farm was designing habitat with specific pinch points which give the hunters a greater opportunity
to harvest mature bucks versus the first program which, basically, was designed for hunters
to set over food plots and see deer. GRANT: So we’ve got an ideal rut area hunt
for rifle hunting. We’ve now created a bunch of bottlenecks
for bow hunting; added – we’ve doubled the amount of food to allow deer to express more
of their genetic potential. More fawns, healthier fawns. GRANT: You’re a vet. You know, boy, if that cow is producing more
milk that young steer or young bull is off to a lot better start in life. It’s about not only health as an infant,
but pre-birth health. So having really good food year around, allows
does to be healthier, go through pregnancy better and their fawns are in better shape
which gives them a better start in life. It just all works together. GRANT: All age classes of bucks on Martin’s
property can probably produce larger antlers on average than they are now. And we will accomplish that by providing more
high-quality food and reducing the number of does competing for those food sources. GRANT: In summary, this plan is a – it’s
not just a next step up the ladder from the first plan. That met your goals. MARTIN: Hmm, hmm. GRANT: This is a quantum leap. I mean, we’ve got a lot more food and a
– and now we weren’t just having young youngsters out hunting seeing a deer, or doe, buck, whatever
and taking a shot. You have now got strategic locations for during
the rut to cut off mature bucks. GRANT: To harvest mature bucks, the hunters
need to exercise a bit more trigger control passing up immature bucks. GRANT: You’re going to have the best food
in the area. You’re not just managing the deer that are
resident on your land. Other deer are coming in. So you’re going to need a significant doe
harvest. GRANT: I’m going to say, for the next few
years, you’re probably looking at a 5:1 or more. You need to harvest, kind of plan on harvesting,
at least five does for every buck taken or more. GRANT: A step that all whitetail managers
need to be mindful of is making sure they harvest enough does each year to ensure there’s
enough groceries for the entire herd, especially during the two stress periods – late summer
and late winter. GRANT: Trigger control is more than passing
immature bucks. It’s also pulling the trigger to make sure
you meet the doe harvest objective. GRANT: Based on Martin’s track record of
implementing the first plan, I’m confident he’ll implement this plan and him and his
hunters will meet their objective. GRANT: Well, I’ll look forward to updates
and even sharing updates. You know, a lot of our viewers are going,
“Hey, how did that project in Oklahoma go?” So, we’re in western Oklahoma. And, uh, so, I’d like for you to, you know,
send me pictures. You call frequently or send me an email and
ask questions, so let us know, so, if you don’t mind, we can share with others and
encourage them to improve their hunting opportunities also. MARTIN: Okay. Great GRANT: Martin, thanks for the opportunity. MARTIN: You bet. GRANT: If you are interested in learning more
about these hunting strategies or habitat improvement techniques, I’ll be speaking
at the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania February 5th and 6th. To learn more check out the link in the description. GRANT: An easy way to learn more about the
hunting strategies and habitat improvement techniques is subscribe to the GrowingDeer channel. GRANT: A great way to learn or simply reduce
your stress is to get outside and enjoy Creation. But the most important thing you can do is
take time every day to be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.

10 thoughts on “Same Property, 2014 VS 2020: New Plan for Even Bigger Deer!

  1. Grant I think I speak for a lot of folks when I say, please keep pumping property management type videos out. They really provide insight how these techniques translate across the country and how others can implement them despite not being in Missouri. I was hoping you could offer advice to future property owners, what part of the country do you feel is underrated for deer hunting, or if you had to buy property now (assuming you didnt own the Proving Grounds) where would you look?

  2. 5:1 buck to doe harvest seems aggressive…. have seen similar to be detrimental in my area. Bucks and does are born at a 1:1 ratio. Natural buck mortality is slightly higher. How does one make that prescription without knowing relative buck:doe harvest rates of neighboring properties? Or do you know in this case?

  3. Great content..as always. Do buckeye trees provide any benefit for deer or turkeys? I have a farm in Northern Missouri with numerous buckeye trees. Should I cut them down or leave them?

  4. That's a really good point about putting mock scrapes in the middle of a field! I never thought about that part but I have a property that i hunt and it has a decent size oak tree in the middle of a field and it has at least 2 scrapes around it! So that right there proves what you are talking about

  5. I understand the great benefits a prescribed fire can generate. Unfortunately that is something I'm not able to do on my property. I have been doing some reading and research into light disking in strips in February to create soil disturbance. The aim is to release the forbes and native browse from the seed bank to create early succession habitat. Have you had any experience with this management practice?

  6. I will be able to make it this year to listen to you speak in Pennsylvania! Looking forward to hearing what you have to talk about and maybe have a chance to talk to you about deer management!

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