Rural Missouri - November 2011 - (Page 14)

W he T Grant Woods has made his career in deer izard of hitetails O U T D O O R S I by Jason Jenkins jjenkins@ruralmissouri.coop t’s deer season, and Grant Woods — like a lot of hunters around Missouri — can be found most mornings out on his piece of the Ozarks, silently perched up in a tree just waiting for the opportunity to harvest a trophy white-tailed deer. But Grant isn’t what you’d call a run-of-the-mill deer hunter. During the past 25 years, he has earned a reputation as one of the top wildlife biologists in the world, and the white-tailed deer has been his exclusive muse. As a scientist, inventor, TV show host and author of “Deer Management 101,” Grant has studied every aspect of whitetails throughout their range from New Zealand to Canada and everywhere in between. In fact, he may know more about the deer he pursues than they do about themselves. While the hunt may eventually end, every day is deer season for Grant. “I make a living by helping people grow deer,” says the 50-year-old from Reeds Spring. “I take extremely technical scientific information and try to break it down so that average landowners can Reeds use it to improve their deer herd.” Spring Although hunters may not recognize • his name at first, they certainly are familiar with some of his contributions to their enjoyment of the outdoors. In the 1980s, he helped patent the first infrared trail camera, a now-ubiquitous tool for scouting deer; and in the 1990s, he developed BioLogic, a food plot seed blend designed to provide deer with optimum nutrition. Today, he hosts his own online television program, “Growing Deer TV,” sharing his expertise with deer hunters everywhere. Growing up in the 1960s on his family’s farm just west of Republic, Grant says he always wanted to work with whitetails. “I had never even seen a deer, but for some reason, I always had this innate love for them,” he explains. “I never wanted to be a fireman or a jet jock or anything else. I just wanted to work with deer.” Grant’s first encounter with a deer came at the age of 6. On a cold, frosty morning while checking box traps for rabbits, he came across a young doe lying frozen in the family’s alfalfa field. Someone had illegally shot and killed it. “I was in wonderment,” recalls the White River Valley Electric Cooperative member. “I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a life-changing moment.” Grant graduated from Republic High School in 1979 and went to Southwest Missouri State University, now Missouri State University, where he earned a degree in zoology and computer information systems. During summers, Grant interned with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Nevada working with mule deer and cutthroat trout. He’d leave school for a year and work as a programmer for Southwestern Bell Telephone. But he soon realized that life in a cubicle in downtown St. Louis was not for him, and his desire to work with whitetails pulled him back to Missouri State. As a graduate student, Grant studied the rubs and scrapes that white-tailed bucks make on trees and the ground. Through the course of the project, he helped patent a new piece of technology — the infrared trail camera. “It was nothing like the trail cameras you find at Bass Pro today,” he recalls. “It was big and bulky, and it didn’t work. It used film, and you might get two pictures of a deer out of 36 images.” The research helped open doors for Grant, who went on to study at both the University of Georgia and Clemson UniversiThanks to quality deer management, the bucks grow big on Grant Woods’ ty, earning a doctorproperty north of Branson, which he calls the “Proving Grounds.” ate from Clemson in forest resources. While many of his fellow students to 5,000 acres can use to improve their deer habitat. took positions with state and federal The show recently celebrated its 100th episode. agencies or universities, Grant struck out on his own “Big antlers are just a byproduct of a healthy as a private consulting wildlife biologist. One project deer herd,” Grant explains. “I talk big antlers to keep in South Carolina allowed him the opportunity to hunters interested, but I manage for healthy does manage the white-tailed deer herd on a 6,000-acre and healthy fawns. If I do that, I’ll have big deer.” property. He used that access to its fullest advantage. Noting “they call it Stone County for a reason,” “At that time, quality deer management, or Grant says even with the poor soils of the Ozarks, balancing the sex ratios and age structure of deer, it’s possible to grow northern Missouri-sized deer in was just kind of being talked about,” he says. “I said, southern Missouri. “There is no magic bullet,” he ‘Wouldn’t it be neat to try that here and see if it says. “It’s work and time that yield results.” worked?’ We had that contract for 11 years, and it Lonnie Hansen, the Missouri Department of resulted in volumes of groundbreaking research. It Conservation’s top deer biologist, has known Grant was really the catalyst.” since he was a graduate student at Missouri State. He Grant would continue to serve as a private condoesn’t hesitate to acknowledge the significance of sultant, working on properties around the world, Grant’s contributions to whitetail management. including the famous King Ranch in Texas. In 2002, “He’s been one of the pioneers,” says Lonnie, after living and working in South Carolina for sevwho is responsibile for managing deer populations eral years, he and his wife, Tracy, purchased a 1,500statewide. “He’s taken the whole concept of local acre property along the border of Stone and Taney deer management to a different level. He knows how counties. The next year, they moved the family back to produce optimum conditions for whitetails.” to the Show-Me State. After devoting more than a quarter-century of Today, universities, state agencies and private his professional life to deer, Grant’s passion for the landowners all seek Grant’s expertise to answer quesspecies is as unbridled as it was when he was 6 years tions about whitetails. old. It’s a passion he now shares with his family. While some projects seek specific answers about “My 12-year-old, Raleigh, her name is Old English one aspect of deer biology, most of his work involves for ‘dweller by the deer meadow,’ and my 9-year-old, improving the overall health of a local deer herd to Rae, her name is Hebrew for ‘doe,’” he explains. “I increase hunting opportunities. guess you could say wildlife has an impact on our In 2009, Grant launched www.growingdeer.tv, family.” which chronicles how he manages his own property in the Ozarks, which he calls the “Proving Visit www.growingdeer.tv to watch the latest episode Grounds.” Every week, he provides an inside look of “Growing Deer TV.” You also may contact Grant by at techniques he says any landowner with five acres e-mail at grant@growingdeer.tv. 14 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://www.growingdeer.tv http://www.growingdeer.tv http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - November 2011

Rural Missouri - November 2011
Table of Contents
Comments
Columns
In search of Missouri mills
Co-ops take action
Outdoors
Best of rural Missouri
Out of the Way Eats
Second chance ranch
Grant takes command
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
The hillbilly approach to the Woodstock nation
Marketplace
Around Missouri
Neighbors
Just4Kids

Rural Missouri - November 2011

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