Answering The Call Of The Wild: The Benefits of Predator Hunting

By Mark Kenyon

 

The hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up, hands clenched into fists and my stomach tightened. I knew what must be causing the crashing behind me. Being November 7th, this had to be the rut-induced buck chasing frenzy I had been dreaming of. I reached for my bow, and spun around, searching for the buck and doe causing such a commotion.

When my eyes finally focused in on the flashing whites and browns that had now raced into the creek, I was hit with an unexpected wave of shock. This was no buck chasing a doe. This was a 140” mature whitetail buck, being circled and attacked by thee coyotes. They lunged, weaved in and out, poking, ripping, biting and tearing. The buck, standing his ground, spun and bucked at his attackers with every last bit of energy he had.

I had known it before, but this image seared into my mind and reinforced the message more strongly than any lecture, research study or public service announcement could. Predator populations are growing dramatically, and as stewards of the natural environment, it is our job as hunters to help control this new dynamic in ecosystems across the country.

 

Why Predator Hunt?

 

Just five minutes before I witnessed the aforementioned coyote attack, my friend had arrowed this buck several hundred yards away from where I sat. In just those few minutes, nearby coyotes had picked up the scent of the wounded deer and taken chase. While this buck was injured, he certainly had plenty of adrenaline induced energy, and I couldn’t believe the coyotes were attacking this big of a deer, still strong and kicking.

Recent studies though have shown that coyotes are attacking much more than just the occasional wounded buck. Most notably, coyotes and other predators are impacting the survival of fawns. In a recent study conducted by the USDA Forest Service and the South Carolina DNR, it was found that 73% of fawns (in the research area) died before being “recruited” into the fall population, and 64 to 84 percent of all fawn mortality from 2006 to 2008 was caused by coyotes! Many other recent studies are backing this up as well. There’s no doubt about it, predators are significantly reducing the survival rate of fawns, and it’s hurting whitetail populations across the country.

If you’ve stepped foot in any sporting good store, read a hunting blog or participated in hunting message boards online recently – you know that hunters are experiencing lower whitetail populations now than has been seen in years. And it seems that the predator impact is one part of this problem.

In another study, conducted by Cory VanGilder, of the University of Georgia, and Dr. Grant Woods, predator impact on fawn recruitment was examined by looking at data before and after intense predator removal practices. They found that after predator removal (hunting/trapping), fawn survival increased by 193 to 256 percent!

The point of me sharing all of this? To impress upon you that predators are making a significant impact on whitetail populations across the country, and that it’s our responsibility to help change that. That said, it’s time to grab a gun, and head to the woods.

 

Getting Out There

 

Predator hunting, most popularly in the form of coyote hunting, has been growing in popularity for a number of years now and for good reason. It’s a great excuse to get in the woods during the late winter, it significantly helps survival rates of prey species such as deer, and of course, it’s fun!

That said the late winter and early spring can be one of the best times to be hitting the woods for predators, as mating seasons, cold temperatures and heavy snow result in increased daylight activity. The downside to hunting in late February or March? Frigid temperatures, biting winds, and everything else that comes with the late winter elements.

Redneck Blinds can be a great way to hunt predators.

 

This is where a Redneck Box or Haybale Blind comes in.  A Redneck blind will keep you dry, protect you from the wind, and can even keep you warm, especially if you bring along a portable heater! On top of that, a Redneck Blind can significantly help keep your scent contained, which is incredibly important given the strong sense of smell that most predators such as coyotes possess.

If your blind is set up overlooking an open area and near brushy cover, set up a decoy out in front and begin calling with prey in-distress or even howler calls. Before you know it, you could have a coyote streaking towards you, and with a nice firm rest in your blind for your gun, you’ll have that wiley coyote lined up in your sights in no time.

 

Final Thoughts

 

For several nights after witnessing that coyote attack, I walked across my hunting property after dark, with coyotes howling in all directions. One part of me loved this eerie call of the wild and this symbolic pronouncement of the return of predators to our wild places. But as the yips and barks echoed off the oaks around me, I was also reminded of our responsibility as hunters, to help manage the ecosystems which we’ve now become a part of – predators included.

Predator hunting, done responsibly, can without a doubt positively benefit whitetail and other prey species populations – and it’s a job we as hunters must attend to. But on top of that, it can also be a downright good time. If you haven’t already, answer the call of the wild and try your hand at predator hunting.

Time To Get Ready For Deer Season!

We’re rolling into the end of July and the GrowingDeer Team is neck deep in preseason projects to help us prepare for the upcoming hunting season! I thought I would take some time this week to discuss those projects so you could get a better understanding of what our preparations are and what you can do to prepare for hunting season.

Most deer hunters across the US are starting to brave the heat and take to the woods to check/move and trim deer stands. Checking stands is very important! We do it this time of year because stand maintenance is crucial; plus you certainly don’t want to be trimming lanes during hunting season – ultimately alerting deer and turning them completely nocturnal. One important piece of advice on preseason stand preparations is checking your stand straps as with each year it becomes more and more important as the straps get older and spend more time in the elements. Squirrels, mice, etc. will also chew on these straps making them weaker, so always be sure to use two straps on each stand and always check them before climbing in your stand.

If you caught Grant’s blog last week you know that we’re also getting ready for our trail camera survey! This involves everything from making sure all settings on our Reconyx trail cameras are correct and the Redneck feeders are all up and ready for August 1st when the survey begins! This activity also means that I’m watching as much TV and movies as possible… now you’re wondering what the connection is? When you’re trying to come up with a unique/creative name for each buck caught on camera on a 2,200 acre ranch, you need to load your brain up with as many different names as possible…

We prepare for future years of hunting with growing season fires. These fires insure quality habitat for all types of wildlife.

Even with these two main projects going on, we’re still finding time to practice our growing season fires (Watch GDTV 189)! Unlike our first two projects where we are focusing on this calendar year’s hunting season, it’s equally important to prepare for future years of hunting! One way we do this is by insuring quality habitat for all types of wildlife by practicing growing season fires. Be sure to catch upcoming episodes of GrowingDeer.tv to learn more about growing season fires.

The last two preseason projects we are doing are my favorite by far! Organizing your gear and getting it ready for opening day is very important to success! We’ll be completely washing all our camo in Dead Down Wind products, air drying them on the clothes line and storing them in ourScentMaster Locker. Although I’m not a huge fan of laundry in my everyday life, when it is camo I can feel the excitement growing! Who knew laundry could be so exciting!? We also spray down other gear, binoculars, camera arms, safety harnesses and store them. As most of the loyal fans know scent reduction is huge for us, we live, breath, and eat scent reduction! Especially at The Proving Grounds when we’re fighting thermal shifts constantly!

This time of year I’m starting to shoot more and more, extending out to find my comfortable range.

Lastly, and definitely my favorite step in preseason preparations: Shooting! Most serious bow huntersshoot their bows year round. As the calendar pages turn and the velvet begins to grow and antlers start forming, shooting becomes more serious. Most hunters begin feeling like a kid on Christmas Eve! This time of year I’m starting to shoot more and more, extending out to find my comfortable range. I’m doing everything I can to make sure when that time comes this fall, I’m ready to squeeze the trigger with the confidence that I’ve done all the preparation to make the shot!

It’s an exciting time of year, so get out there and have some fun getting ready for the upcoming season! As always, be safe!

Daydreaming of whitetails,

Adam

 

For more information from Dr. Grant Woods, go to www.growingdeer.tv

 

 

How To Grow The Best Clover Food Plot

There are numerous types of clover that hunters use across the nation to provide quality food plot forage for deer and other wildlife. Here at The Proving Grounds it’s no different.  We typically plant Eagle Seed soybeans in our food plots. They are awesome for providing food for whitetails, turkey, and other critters  for 11 months out of the year. By combining a healthy stand of clover with Eagle Seed soybeans you can continue attracting  and holding whitetails on your property.

We try to plant 10% of our food plot acreage in clover.

We typically try to plant at least 10% of our food plot acreage in some type of clover. Clover is an essential food plot crop as it is one of the varieties that  helps  fill the void in early spring when our Eagle seed beans have matured and the pods have been completely removed by wildlife. This time period usually falls middle to late February and lasts through late March. If you’re familiar with clover you’ve probably noticed that during that time of year clover can provide lots of forage.  This is important as our Eagle seed beans are at their lowest point of productivity. Clover and Eagle Seed soybeans fill each other’s void beautifully, and together they are quite the deadly duo of food plots.

This past week we’ve worked managing our clover to ensure it’s in the best form it can be. There are two simple steps that need to be performed  on clover food plots. First,  provide clover with a high quality fertilizer so it doesn’t starve; we do this by adding Antler Dirt! The second important part in clover management is weed control, especially in first year stands of clover. We use a broadleaf herbicide combined with a grass specific herbicide and then add a non-ionic surfactant to form a clover cocktail.  We then use the cocktail to spot spray our clover fields. There are benefits to using herbicide in a clover plot instead of mowing. The herbicide is taken in by the plant, killing it all the way to the roots, preventing any future growth of that plant. When mowing, you’re just removing the top section of the weeds and probably not killing the plant roots, resulting in regrowth.

Clover should be a part of every wildlife manager’s arsenal because it not only provides tons of forage for wildlife but it also can create a great spot for hunting!  Check out episode #165 to see the GrowingDeer Team take advantage of the clover at The Kentucky Proving Grounds!

Daydreaming of Whitetails,

Adam

For more information from Dr. Grant Woods, go to www.growingdeer.tv

After The Hunt: Cooking Wild Turkey

Grant and Adam have been busy turkey hunting this week so the writing of the blog falls to me! In considering topics I immediately knew I would not write about turkey hunting but quickly realized that I should write about what I do know – what to do with that turkey once it is “in the bag!”

When Grant and I first got married he learned that my cooking was often an “experiment” as I like to take a base recipe and “experiment” with my own ideas. Most of our meals were prefaced with “I hope this is okay. It’s kind of an experiment.” Fortunately most of my experiments turn out well! Over the years I have experimented with the venison, wild turkey and other wild meats Grant has harvested for our freezer. I’ve become a competent wild game cook. By no means is my cooking gourmet. As a busy working mother I default to the easy recipes instead of the more complicated, fancy recipes.

Cooking wild turkey can be a bit of a challenge. Most hunters prize a “mature” tom as they are usually more challenging to hunt and a better trophy of bigger spurs and a longer beard. Being “mature” equates to old which equates to tough meat! Marinating and/or slow cooking in the crock pot are my preferred ways to turn a tough, old bird into a delicious meal for my family!

Last year I experimented with a new recipe for cooking wild turkey.  Grant loved it! He said that this is his favorite way for me to cook the turkey, second only to deep frying breaded turkey nuggets.

Grant’s Favorite Wild Turkey Recipe

3 10 ounce cans green enchilada sauce

1- 2 15 ounce cans chicken broth to cover turkey breast 1 large onion, chopped 3 cloves garlic, chopped 2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1 turkey breast (2 lbs or larger)

2 to 3 strips uncooked bacon 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional- to taste) 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice serve with: warm flour tortillas and salsa

Mix all ingredients except turkey, cilantro and lime juice in a 4 quart or larger slow cooker.  Add turkey wrapped in bacon strips.  Cover and cook on low 7 to 9 hours or until turkey is tender. Remove turkey to a cutting board.  Stir cilantro and lime juice into mixture in cooker. Shred turkey in bite size pieces; return to cooker.

Can be served as a soup/stew or use a slotted spoon to separate meat from liquid and served burrito/taco style rolled up in flour tortillas with your choice of toppings: cheese, sour cream,  shredded lettuce, or salsa. Accompany with refried beans, rice, salsa and chips. 6 servings. (If you choose to use the meat for a burrito/taco the remaining liquid makes a base for a great Mexican soup!)

Slow Cooking Wild Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(The idea for this recipe is based on one for a Mexican pork dish I modified for venison that I call Venison Pozole.)

If you would like to try something new this year, check out these great recipes on the NWTF website or on the Bass Pro website.

Let us know your favorite recipes for cooking wild turkey by posting them on Grant’s Facebook page!

Enjoy!

Tracy Woods

For more information from Dr. Grant Woods, go to www.growingdeer.tv

 

 

 

Spring Turkey Hunting Strategies

The hillsides here at The Proving Grounds are slowly getting that green tint to them, the creek is flowing fast, and the gobblers are playing their song every morning.  Spring is in the air here, FINALLY! Last year when Missouri turkey season opened, we had plenty of foliage and green leaves. This year’s opening day will be very different. Spring green up is occurring later than it has the last couple of years and the turkeys seem to be on that same schedule.

Spring green up is occurring later this year.

I’ve been asked several times lately if I’m still seeing a lot of birds in large flocks or winter to early spring flocks. The answer is yes and no. From running the Reconyx cameras to driving across the country side, I’m seeing a lot of birds in large flocks. I’m also seeing the occasional single tom out strutting in a field, but the majority of birds are still in groups. What does this mean? If you ask any turkey hunter who’s spent much time chasing turkeys they will tell you that calling to flocks isn’t nearly as effective as calling to lone gobblers. And why should it be?  When a gobbler has an entire flock around him why would he leave them for one hen he can’t see?  “Henned up” turkeys can also be indicated by their lack (if any) of gobbling when they fly off the roost in the morning. It will be difficult calling turkeys until they split up and we start finding more lone toms.

Calling to flocks isn’t nearly as effective as calling to lone gobblers.

With the Missouri turkey season opening soon I thought I would discuss our strategy. Since we’re seeing more flocks than usual for this time of year, our game plan has changed. As much as I enjoy “running and gunning” for turkeys, it probably won’t be on the agenda for opening day this year. Hunting henned up toms that don’t gobble much is more like deer hunting. First we scout with ears, eyes, and Reconyx cameras to find the location where they are most active. Then we move in before sunrise to either a blind or a tree that we have previously picked. Finally, we generally use decoys and keep our calling softer and less aggressive. To me this type of turkey hunting is far less exciting than my favorite running and gunning style, but it can be just as effective if the cards are played right.

We’re only days away from one of my favorite events of the year! I can’t wait to wake up, pull on my LaCrosse boots, and head out in search of a gobbler. Good luck to all the hunters out there and stay safe!

Daydreaming of long beards and long spurs,

Adam

For more information from Dr. Grant Woods, go to www.growingdeer.tv

Pre-season Preparations To Avoid Mid-season Mishaps

He stood only 45 yards away in a small clearing where he had spent the entire morning strutting and gobbling. Shooting hours for the day were coming to a close and I knew the time was now or never. I let out a soft yelp and as he raised his head I squeezed the trigger.

I use the Caldwell Stable Table and Lead Sled to pattern my shogun in preparation for the upcoming turkey season

“Larry Long Spurs” was my arch nemesis during the 2005 and 2006 spring season and I hunted him almost every chance I could get. He didn’t always roost on our farm, and he wouldn’t gobble every morning, but on this particular hunt I had been lucky enough to roost him the night before. I was waiting for him the next morning when I heard his first gobble ring out breaking the morning silence. Being a novice turkey hunter in those days I made a few mistakes that I paid dearly for. The first mistake was my original setup. I had setup too far back and had to use the entire morning to crawl within range.

The second mistake, a mistake that to this day upsets me; I didn’t test my gear before heading into the woods. In those days I weighed 120 pounds soaking wet but I wouldn’t allow anyone, especially my friends, to think I was too small for a 3 ½” turkey load. I was a little man with way too much gun power, so there was nothing pleasant about shooting my turkey gun at anything other than turkeys! That is where I went wrong. I let the fear of getting kicked by the gun prevent me from patterning my gun. I had found a cheap box of shells in a catalog and bought them to use on turkeys. When I hit the woods to hunt a turkey I wanted more than any other bird before, I had no idea how my shotgun patterned. BIG MISTAKE!

As turkeys scattered and I gathered myself from the initial shock of the gun blast, I jumped to my feet and ran to the opening where he had been standing. I found nothing: no Larry Long Spurs, no feathers, and no more faith in my shooting ability. I had blown the only chance I would get at him and all I could do was wonder what went wrong. Returning to our cabin I decided to shoot my shotgun and see what kind of pattern I was shooting. I can summarize my findings by saying that at 45 yards a beach ball would have had a good chance of survival.

Today, not a season goes by that I don’t take the time to pattern my shotgun. All fear of being kicked into submission is gone now that I use the Caldwell Stable Table and Lead Sled. No more are the days of leaning against a tree and hoping I could get the results I wanted before shooting more than a few times. Patterning my shotgun went from being a dreaded activity, to an enjoyable time in preparation of the upcoming season. Top that off with Winchester Double X turkey ammo and now I have complete faith in my gear every hunt.

It’s that time of year to get out and pattern those shotguns! Don’t make the same mistakes I did! Always remember to be safe and good luck turkey hunting!

Daydreaming of long spurs and long beards together,

Adam

For more information from Dr. Grant Woods, go to www.growingdeer.tv

Turkey Season Memories And Preparations

It’s March 14th and we’re almost a month away from Missouri turkey season! Most people who know me know that I am absolutely obsessed with spring turkey hunting! I love the months of March, April, and May for many reasons: the fishing is picking up, the woods are greening up, the morel mushrooms are popping out of the ground and most important the turkeys are doing their spring rituals! One of the biggest reasons I love chasing turkeys every year are the memories from past years that resurface every time I’m out there. My first turkey with my father (on what is now my favorite place in the world to chase turkeys), my first turkey taken when hunting and calling by myself, my four bearded turkey killed moments before getting completely soaked in a thunder storm and so many more. Reasons for having so many memories are due to the fact that I was turkey hunting with my dad years before I was a deer hunter.

Adam shared a successful morning hunt with his father and brother

Thinking back to the early days of turkey hunting, I can’t help but look at the amount of change that has occurred. Early in my career you went to locations where turkeys were known to roost and you waited to hear a gobbler then you made your move. It’s 2013 now, and although season is over a month away my scouting has already started, thanks to our Reconyx cameras. Yesterday we began setting our Reconyx cameras to time lapse. We do this so we can scout over fields where turkeys may be active, but still out of range of our motion sensors. Common trail cameras without the time lapse feature would most likely miss an old tom that was strutting a hundred yards away in the field. We position our Reconyx cameras to overlook our food plots and then set the time lapse interval to every 15 minutes. Once this is done we now are scouting our food plots without even getting out of bed in the mornings.

The time lapse feature on our Reconyx camera captured images of turkeys strutting.

With our Reconyx cameras set up with time lapse on our food plots we are officially scouting and preparing for the first day of turkey season. When that first day arrives we will hit the woods with complete confidence on where and when to go!

Turkey seasons are already open in some states and are soon to open in others. Always stay safe and best of luck to all!

Daydreaming of long beards and long spurs!

Adam

For more information from Dr. Grant Woods, go to www.growingdeer.tv

 

Frost Seeding Clover Food Plots: Easy Off Season Project

It’s March 1st and we’ve officially survived the month of February. Now we’re taking on March. This time of year can be very boring for a whitetail hunter. Cabin fever can be a deer hunter’s worst enemy if they haven’t started shed hunting or found some off season management projects to keep themselves occupied until turkey season. One of these management projects that we are currently doing here at The Proving Grounds is frost seeding clover. We’ve posted a few pictures of the team frost seeding on our Facebook and Twitter pages. After posting, we’ve had some questions about what frost seeding is.

When frost seeding clover we plant at 10 lbs/acre.

Frost seeding is the technique of broadcasting a small hard seed onto the ground and using the natural act of frosting or the freezing and thawing of the ground to help pull the seed into the soil. This technique is usually practiced from mid-February to the beginning of March. This allows seeds, like clover, or other small hard seeds to lie in the soil until adequate warmth and moisture are available to germinate. This technique does not work well with large soft seeds like corn or soybeans because they can soak in moisture before it is warm enough to germinate and this causes them to rot and not grow, which can be costly.

When we’re frost seeding clover we tend to plant more seed per acre than we typically would in a fall or spring planting. Generally we plant 5 lbs/acre for a new stand of clover. When we’re frost seeding we will double that and plant 10lbs/acre. We do this because the seed may lie on the ground for weeks before germinating with the possibility of things like birds carrying some off or heavy rain washing seed away, so we want to have plenty of seed left for growing.

Clover along with Eagle Seed beans allows us to provide deer forage 12 months a year!

The additional seed cost is well worth it in the time savings for not having to employ more sophisticated equipment. A broadcast seeder is quick and inexpensive, making it a tool that everyone can use.

We are planting clover here at The Proving Grounds to help carry that void of growth in early spring. You’ve probably heard Grant talk about soybeans and how they provide forage eleven months out of the year. Clover can be that forage for the twelfth month. By providing enough clover along with Eagle Seed beans you can provide deer forage twelve months out of the year!

You can catch more information about frost seeding on the upcoming episode of GrowingDeer.tv (GDTV 171)!

As we head into March I hope you all can get out and cure your cabin fever with various management projects, combine it with a little shed hunting or maybe do a little scouting for turkeys!

Dreaming of Giant Whitetails,

Adam

For more information from Dr. Grant Woods, go to www.growingdeer.tv

Coyote Hunting Tips And Techniques

It’s Friday February 22nd and Grant and I just returned late last night from a coyote hunt in Hamilton, Illinois with Jason Gilbertson and Mike Stock from Winchester Ammunition. Along with their friend Tyler Sellens of Riverview Outfitters. As most of you are aware there was a large winter weather front sweeping across the Midwest on Wednesday and Thursday, so Grant and I headed up on Tuesday hoping to get a couple days of hunting coyotes  in before the winter weather hit.

With the threat of wintry weather Grant and I thought it would be a great time to catch some predators trying to find a quick meal before the storm hit. Plus, we would also spend some time with our friends at Winchester Ammo doing something exciting like chasing coyotes! On Wednesday Grant was busy working on a property near Princeton, Illinois so I teamed up with Mike and Tyler for the day. We had a fun day chasing coyotes. At the end of the day Mike headed home just as Jason and Grant arrived to hunt the following day. Before I give away the outcome of our success, you can catch this two day coyote hunt on the upcoming episode of GrowingDeer.tv! During this hunt I noticed some different techniques that I’ll share with you now.

  • Approach. You often hear Grant talk about MDE (minimal disturbance entry) for deer hunting, this is also important to coyotes. Our most successful trips happen when we use a hill or slope to our advantage. Approaching from a backside of a hill and just breaking over the top so we’re not alerting anything when approaching is a great way to sneak attack coyotes!
  • Crosswinds.Of course when deer hunting, a wind that is consistently in your face is ideal, but sometimes with coyotes they can hang up out of sight because the situation is too risky for them. We typically want our wind direction to be blowing across a field or open area so when a coyote does approach downwind he’s in sight and you can take the shot!
  • Be ready!A lot of times coyotes can run into your setup in under a minute of turning on the caller. This happened numerous times during our Illinois hunt. Once the caller had only been on for 36 seconds! With that being said, when the caller is turned on be ready!
  • Timing. Coyote breeding season here in Missouri is typically mid to late February so its prime time to call coyotes. Coyotes are very vocal during this time so don’t be afraid to make a few howls either, it might be the only temptation you need to bring one within range.

It’s a slow time of year for deer hunters but an exciting time of year for predator hunters! It’s a great way to ease your cabin fever during these slow months between deer and turkey seasons.

That winter storm swept cross Missouri it dumping everything from freezing rain, sleet, to snow in northern parts of Missouri. Reports of up to 17 inches in places, but in Branson, Missouri there was primarily just sleet and freezing rain. Conditions were very hazardous when we made our venture home; generally it’s a 6 hour drive from Keokuk, Iowa where we were staying to Branson. Last night it took just over 12 hours. Today we are thankful for making it home safely with memories stored away of exciting and challenging days hunting those wiley coyotes!

As always – stay safe and good luck removing predators!

Dreaming of Giant Whitetails,

Adam

For more information from Dr. Grant Woods, go to www.growingdeer.tv

 

Scouting Whitetails In February for November Success

If you’ve paid any attention over the past couple of weeks you’ve seen our GrowingDeer.tv episodes, tweets and Facebook posts have consisted mostly of bucks that have been found dead on The Proving Grounds due to the outbreak of EHD late last summer. Now if you’re anything like me you might be getting sick of talking about deer that you’ll never be able to hunt. So today we’re changing things up and thinking “happy thoughts.”

There are still a few nice bucks running around here, one that you’ve probably heard us talk about before is a 6.5 year old or older buck named Split Brow. Another great buck that showed up on Boomerang Ridge this year is Two Face. Both of these bucks were still holding their antlers in early

February when we ran our Reconyx cameras, but it’s that time of year when they can fall off at any moment, so we’re taking any spare moments we get to do a little shed hunting!

One of the great things about shed hunting, besides finding those treasured antlers, is finding the trails, scrapes, rubs, and all the other sign that you didn’t know existed because they were in areas you didn’t want to intrude on during hunting season. That’s the great thing about walking your property during January and February, all the deer sign that was left during hunting season is still present. This means you might be able to find those trails that the mature bucks were using to sneak through your property unseen. With this in mind, anyone who’s ever shed hunted with me knows I’m terrible at it! I have to almost step on the antlers to find them. The biggest reason why I’m so bad at shed hunting is the deer sign I mentioned. When I’m walking through the woods and find a very active deer trail, then maybe a large rub on a tree, followed by a scrape, I’ve stopped focusing on finding sheds and I’ve already started looking for a tree to hang a Muddy treestand in.

While collecting soil samples and shed hunting last week, if I noticed a large deer trail coming into a food plot, I would take a short recon mission and see what I could learn. As the week came to a close I had found nine new locations to hang Muddy stands in. Nine new stands in places we didn’t hunt at all last year, plus they’re loaded with deer sign! Needless to say we are only a few weeks into February and I’m already excited about the upcoming season!

It’s a great time of year for shed hunting but don’t forget to keep those eyes peeled for possible hunting locations. You could be missing out on that secret spot where your Hit List bucks hide!

Dreaming of Giant Whitetails,

Adam

For more information from Dr. Grant Woods, go to www.growingdeer.tv