Shed Season is Among Us

Show Notes

Deer season is officially over for the 2022-23 season in Pennsylvania.  The general narrative from this point on is cabin fever until spring turkey season.  For every diehard deer hunter though, there is always something to be doing to prepare for next fall.  Whether you're cutting timber and travel corridors on private land or scouting new  ground on public land, the hunt never quite ends.  This week on the Pennsylvania Woodsman we chat with Dwayne Jones from Shed Season.

Dwayne is just as crazy about scouring the landscape for fallen antlers as he is sitting in a deer stand - maybe more!  We discuss Dwayne's recent property purchase and how he has begun to transform the land into a whitetail mecca.  Dwayne shares the habitat projects in place including timber management, prescribed fire, invasive species removal, and of course, food plots.  From here we dive into the beloved topic of pursuing mature bucks not only during the hunting season, but also during the months of February and March when antlers are falling.  The attraction created on Dwayne's property is not only good for hunting, it's good for sheds!.   We cover strategies to find more antlers, putting the pieces of the puzzle together on mature bucks using shed antlers, and the added joy during the offseason for him and his family!

Show Transcript

Dan Johnson: [00:00:00] Go Wild is a free social community created for and by Hunters. Go Wild. Has recently partnered with Mountain Tough for a free 30 day workout program. Designed to get you in shape for Turkey season called The Go Wild Challenge. Download. Go wild to sign up and let everyone know in a go wild post that you are joining us.

Then each time you do a workout tag, go wild and Mountain. Tough to hold yourself accountable. Also Go Wild. Will be attending the Great American Outdoor Show. February 4th through the 12th. If you're in the area, stop by Booth four 12. Meet the guys and learn all about Go Wild. Visit, download go and sign up.

Mitchell Shirk: Hey everybody. [00:01:00] Thank you for tuning into this week's episode of the Pennsylvania Woodsman Podcast. I'm your host, Mitchell Shirk, and this week I'm living a modified bachelor life. Uh, I call it modified because I am not home alone. I'm with, uh, I have my, my two, soon to be three year old son here. But his mother and our nine month old went away for a week to their, uh, to, to see my sister-in-law, spend time with them.

So it's been a really interesting dynamic in my house. The, the, so the first night, uh, first night this week that we are, uh, going through the motions of, you know, our work week and. Uh, my mom offered to say, Hey, she, she said, Hey, would you like us to have Lucas stay over at our house Sunday night? That way you don't have to bring him down before you go to work on [00:02:00] Monday.

He's just here. You can go through your thing. I'm like, yeah, that sounds like a great option. So Sunday dropped him off. That went smoothly, and I really wasn't processing what was about to happen. I got home on Sunday night and was like, oh my word. I am home alone without kids, without any, I, I slept so good.

It was unbelievable. , uh, the, the fact that I didn't have a two year old running in, in the middle of the night or my, uh, my infant coming over from the crib and crawling into bed with us, or, you know, screaming in the middle of the night for something like it's just, I can't remember silence and peace like this in so long.

And, uh, you know, if my wife hears me saying this, she's probably like, yeah, you go away hunting and you get plenty of that. It, it's different. Uh, I mean, this was like the first time in forever in my own home. It was just such a weird dynamic. But, uh, no, it's, [00:03:00] it's, it's been good this past weekend and I was talking last week, we went out to do a little bit of hunting for the close of our deer season in the extended units, and I got my butt kicked.

Uh, we, for whatever reason, the, the final week looking at my cameras out there at, you know, and this is after the fact, when I pulled cameras this past weekend, there was very, very poor, poor deer movement for whatever reason. There's a couple things that I think are going through my mind as to why that might be.

It's. . Um, number one, I learned that some of the neighboring properties got a little bit of hunting pressure late. Apparently it was, uh, popular for some people to do a little bit of late season deer hunting. I don't, I don't know if they were hunting with the flintlock muzzle loader or just with a, a rifle trying to shoot a dough in the extended units, but I think that added pressure may have changed your movement slightly.

I don't know to what degree, but I'm, I'm suspecting that [00:04:00] I know the weather change has had a little bit of, of impact it seemed like when we had the one snow squall and. changes in temperature. The, uh, amount of movement changed compared to what it had been. Cuz the beginning of January it was just, there was, there was deer movement through this property constantly.

But, you know, one of the cool things I learned a lot, uh, I walked through the property Sunday morning before I left to pull my cameras and just kind of explore some trails and avenues and places I hadn't been since, you know, the summer. And, and I only did it at one time. I did a speed tour. I mean, there's parts of this property that I'm, I'm still like learning and soaking in and digesting and seeing it in a, a raw form like that in the dead of winter, at the end of season, where you've got trails beaten in and it, it looks, it, it's just obviously this time of year it's just so much easier to determine.

That's getting, I learned a lot of where deer were spending more time betting than others. How they were utilizing certain [00:05:00] points and ridges on that property and moving through currently. And it just, uh, this whole fire was going through me on the way home and throughout this current week of man, the things I would like to do to this property to make it go better.

Because I believe even though it's like a 20 acre property, I think it could hunt fairly large and it just has so much potential. The, the, the design and terrain sets up for good access, good hunting. It sets up well for deer to utilize it and hold deer. It just needs a couple of homey touches as I would say.

Uh, it just needs to fine tune a couple bedding areas, fine tune a couple travel corridors. I'd love to spray some of the invasive still grass and get rid of some of the invasives, try to create a little bit more understory spaces and I'd, I'd love. expand the food plots. So I, I've got all this stuff going through my head of what I'd love to do on this property, and I, I'm also realizing a, a couple other things.

Number one, [00:06:00] when am I gonna get, you know, drive four hours out on a consistent basis and get all this work done for the following season, even though I know it's only, you know, eight, nine months until we're back into the loop of deer season again, I just know how life is, especially at this phase. For me, it's just very, very busy.

But I'm gonna try to make the most of what I can in doing things at that property. And the other thing too, that I'm, I'm really trying to like, encourage myself and keep in my mind that this property is not mine. It's a, it's a family owned property and the goals and objectives that they have, I think, are yet to be determined in some cases.

And I, I think they're open to doing a lot of things better for him because, you know, The owners of this property are now new hunters, and I think they're starting to see, you know, reaping the rewards of little by little and, and how to hunt it appropriately and things like that. And I think that's gonna allow potential to say, well, hey, if you're on board with this, why don't we [00:07:00] design deer movement to be a certain way and create stand locations here and, and, uh, utilize the property in, in this fashion.

And, and that's all good. But I got to keep in mind that they have other goals and objectives they'd like to use this property for throughout the year. I know, uh, dirt bikes and four-wheelers are probably gonna be on the horizon of this property for the children there. And, you know, I, I know walking trails and doing some type of homesteading stuff on this property is a possibility.

And, uh, I have zero interest in any of that, but it's not my property and I'm not paying the taxes on it. So, um, I, I need to just take it with a grain of salt and. Cherish what I have with my family out there and the, the slow process it might be, and the marathon it might be to build that to something really good.

And if over time they completely go a different direction with that, um, I gotta be okay with that. And it's, it's not worth, uh, not worth throwing, but it's just excites me so much because everything I've [00:08:00] dreamed of in a property that has. A lot of it, it has a lot of what you would want as a deer hunter, a bow hunter, somebody who wants their own place and design it for, you know, quality hunting.

It has it, it really does. There's a couple things I'd like to see better, but, uh, you know, some of that's outta your control. Some of that would take, uh, some sweat equity and time. But again, I got, I got a lot of time to do. I, I was really impressed too. I had a lot of good, uh, trail camera information. I had some, some really nice bucks that made it through.

They were dear that. I wouldn't have shot during season. They were deer that were nice bucks. I would say probably in that middle-aged like two to three year old bracket, nothing that really excited me. But when you look at 'em, they go, Ooh, one more year, they're gonna be nice. And I could think of like three or four buck that I had throughout the season on a consistent basis.

I know made it through. And I had on, on camera in [00:09:00] January. So I'm really excited to see what they do. And there was one buck in particular that's gonna probably haunt me all year long and be on my mind. And it's the deer that I probably have the least likely chance of encountering. And it was a buck that cruised through like two or three different occasions on this property.

Uh, during like the peak of the breeding season in November into December. And it was, uh, a bruiser of a buck. He, uh, he was probably like a hundred and. Class eight pointer, very massive, wide, had good time length and big mature body deer. It was a book that really got me excited. When I saw the pictures of him, I was like, oh my word.

I would've shot that deer in a heartbeat, and I think he might have made it through. I had one picture of him in the middle of the night, the. Week of rifle season towards the end. So there's a good chance he made it through. I haven't seen him since. Uh, but there's uh, there's a lot of time to plan and do off season work.

And now the deer season's officially over for [00:10:00] me and now I'm thinking off season stuff and I'm thinking about the scouting. I'd like to do the, the chainsaw work and, you know, food plot work and planning. And a lot of that's on my mind. So we're probably gonna be doing some episodes here, this off season that revolves around that stuff, that revolves around scouting, that revolves around food plots.

I, I'm, I'm, Trying to, uh, do a couple episodes on, uh, on food plot and, and you know, some, some higher level food plot stuff. Um, entry level up to higher level stuff, topics that are of hot interest and some of them are just, uh, general management things, things that you wouldn't, uh, you wouldn't know. But I would, I would talk about from an agronomist point of view and how to manage, you know, fertility and things like that in a cost effective way and weeds and stuff like that.

So I'm, I'm anxious to talk about those stuff, those things. But, uh, this week is kind of like, one of those episodes I'd says is towards the beginning of that, um, off season stuff. And we're talking with [00:11:00] Dwayne Jones from shed season and, uh, we have a great conversation with him. He is probably about as fanatical of shed hunting as he is deer hunting in general.

I mean, you can, you can hear the passion in his voice with going out and scouring. You know, pieces of, of, of wood lots and properties he can hunt or can't hunt, but can shed hunt and just putting the pieces of the puzzle together for hunting, but just collecting sheds and then doing all kinds of really cool things with him.

So we catch up with him. We, uh, we talk, catch up with his general life. He's, he's in the process of building a home and going through the stress and moving process of that. So he's, He's definitely feeling it. Uh, so I'm sure he could use, uh, use a little bit of, of prayer and stress relief, but he's, uh, just as fired up.

He had a great hunting season. We catch up on that a little bit. We go into the, the purchasing of a new property for him. He's had for just a, just a short handful of years. And the [00:12:00] transformation of that, the, the, the habitat work, the invasive removal, food plot planning, stuff like that, and his approach to that.

And then that kinda leads us into how deer utilize the property bucks he's targeting and the, the shed hunting season. That's that right around the corner. And for some of us might even be in full swing and, uh, you know, things he's, he's looking forward to doing and, and bucks he's targeting. So it's a great shed hunting episode.

And, and also private land minded. So there's, there's a good mix of things, but I, I really hope you guys enjoy this episode. I hope you guys stay warm. I know this coming weekend, it's looking brutal cold throughout most of the state. I know in my area it's like a low of, low of five degrees or something like that on Saturday morning.

So it's gonna be brutal cold. But stay warm, stay healthy. Uh, do some fun stuff with your family. Do some fun stuff outside. If you wanna brave the elements. Uh, catch back up on the honey do list. Uh, do something. [00:13:00] Keep grinding, keep at it, and, uh, hope you guys have a great week. Thanks for tuning in.

All right, we are rolling. And tonight we got Dwayne Jones. Dwayne, thanks for hopping on. Thanks

Dwayne Jones: for having me. Have a look forward to it. Absolutely.

Mitchell Shirk: So you kind of said with your, your daily commute and your daily job, you listen to podcasts all the time. So, um, Perfect stuff. So, so I, I always like it whenever we get somebody on the show that listens to podcasts or does podcasts, cuz I think it, you talking face to face on a computer or you put headsets on, it just gets real nervous and stuff when you're talking about stuff.

Sure. So people that get used to it, I think it's, it's good stuff. So, I mean, what's, what's your typical, favorite podcast you would go for? Like, if you were gonna go through your, your, uh, your list of stuff, like what's your go-tos that, uh, you wanna listen to most of the time? .

Dwayne Jones: Yeah. There, there's definitely a handful that I, that I go to a lot.

Listen to Wired to Hunt. I'd really like and enjoy everything Mark Kenyon puts out. Um, Jeff [00:14:00] Stir just has a new podcast. I think at first they were calling it, uh, Jeff and Dylan talked to you. Uh, just Habitat stuff, that's a huge, huge passion of mine. Habitat Podcast, um, Exodus podcast. I don't know. There's probably 10 different ones.

I listen. Uh, put 106,000 miles on a truck in two years and means you're spending a lot of time in a truck. So I try to consume that stuff and learn some something from it rather than just driving around mindlessly. So there's some good ones out there.

Mitchell Shirk: Oh, there's a ton of good ones out there. And the ones that you just named are fantastic.

Uh, fantastic stuff. So when you, when you go down that, uh, the rabbit hole of habitat stuff, like, that's a whole different aspect, especially when you're comparing like the, the world we're living in and hunting in Whitetails. Like, I feel like now we've, we've seen a shift in the, in, uh, in the culture that it's almost not as cool to be doing the habitat work and the, the, uh, the, the private property stuff.

And it's almost like deemed it, it's like a lesser, when you kill a buck on private land than, than public land, which I just completely don't agree with. But [00:15:00] it's just crazy how the culture has changed over the years. And I, I'm right there with you. Like, I grew up hunting private land and screwing around on, you know, doing habitat projects and food plots.

You know, my, my, uh, my, my profession is, is. Agronomy. So, I mean, I'm working with fields all the time, so food plots just fit right in. So I, I would be right on board with you there.

Dwayne Jones: Absolutely. Yeah. I think, you know, me, me and somebody started toying around with food plots back in TW 2007, 2008, uh, shortly after graduated high school.

And it's just become a huge, huge passion. You know, I was fortunate enough myself to buy a farm when, when moved back up here a couple years ago, and it, you know, when we first bought it, started running cameras there and the oldest buck we had was two years old. And we started looking at it, uh, trying to decide what we could do food plot wise, and of course there's a lot more to it than that.

Mm-hmm. trying to go on and make the timber right and prove be areas and, um, eliminate, uh, invasives and stuff like that. And we pretty well have [00:16:00] spent two years not hunting it at all and just doing the things that, the habitat that we need to make the landscape what it should be. And, uh, going, you know, coming out of this season now, we just had, I only hunted the farm one time this year, more or less, decided not to hunt it.

The age structure still wasn't there. We had a couple of four year olds and a bunch of three year olds, and luckily we kept the pressure off and the food was there, and so a bunch of 'em survived and we're really, really excited going in the next year. But yeah, that's where a big part of my passion lies, is the habitat stuff and, you know, what should be on the landscape versus what's there and how do we get it back to how it's supposed to be.

So I love that stuff.

Mitchell Shirk: Tell me a little bit more about your property when you, when you bought it. Like what's the mix up of, uh, topography habitat type as far as open field, all the way up to mature timber. Yeah,

Dwayne Jones: so we, we were fortunate enough, we're about 83 and a half. . Um, it's kind of a cool story. I think like, I, I don't come from a wealthy family.

Never came, like, came from money per se. Um, we, we just as have kind of grinded it [00:17:00] out and it was a, a perfect storm of right timing with, uh, we knew the family. It was as an 80 year old doctor was retired that he owned, uh, uh, 254 acres and he's very passionate about trees and, and taking care of the land and it just got to be too much for him to handle.

And we had heard that he wanted to sell a chunk of it and we bought it off the market. Uh, we bought it under market value by quite a bit and, um, we're able to get it, but it, it is half and half. It's, so it's 83 and a half acres and it's pretty, almost perfectly half and half timber and tillable ground.

Uh, so there's a seven acre field in the front, big block of timber that runs through. And then there's a 33 acre field in the back. And then a year after I bought that, my dad actually bought 40 acres that connects to me on the backside. That is. It's, well, there's 10 acres of what was classified as tillable that they planted in row trees.

Um, it's an old apple orchard and there's a lot of, for where we live in Indiana, it's relatively flat, but there's a, there is a creek ditch [00:18:00] that runs through both properties where there's a lot of topography. I mean, like there's spots where you can stand up on a ridge and look down 150. Um, so it, it's, it just like say perfect storm, super blessed.

It, it is for me was my dream property, so we had no choice but to make it happen.

Mitchell Shirk: Yeah, it absolutely seems like perfect storm. Probably some answered prayers there. Sounds like there was probably something working, uh, a little bit greater outside of your plans and that's just awesome. So good for you. Um, you know, you said the, the person that you purchased it from really liked trees.

So if, if they're not of a hunting mindset, I just have to come to my thoughts and say that, uh, it was probably a more of a mature open forest is my guess. So when you were, uh, you know, going through and, you know, allowing the, uh, the u and av your property to kind of finally settle in and you can start to go to work and really dissect, like what did you figure, what did you think was the lowest hole in your bucket as far as what your property needed to start chipping away at first?

Dwayne Jones: [00:19:00] Yeah, so that's a good question. Um, Where we live, north central Indiana is primarily ag. Uh, cash rent is high. Obviously, you know, grain prices are pretty decent and have been for a number of years, so that's, everything is farmed around here. You know, me and me and the buddies that are of the mind of wanting to have wildlife around and, and make deer hunting wise as best can be.

It, it's frustrating to see every year there's excavators tearing, fence rows out and there's less and less habitat all the time. So, um, with that being said, when we bought this and looked at it, it's like, okay, this corner beans is gonna be taken out every year in October, November, and then there's no food.

So how do we get food here? Um, how do we have food here year round? Looked at that and then like, yeah, like you said, a lot of the timber was closed canopy. But I, but I will say they did a, uh, they did a timber harvest in 2019 and. In Indiana, I don't know if it's everywhere, but in Indiana there's a program called Classified [00:20:00] Forest.

Um, it's, it's a government program you can enroll in and it makes your temp, it actually makes your property taxes super, super low. Like, I mean, they're, what we pay for 83 acres is less than a lot of people pay for two acres in town because it's in classified forest. But it does restrict what you can do, kind of, you have to have a written management plan on what are we working towards here?

What, what are the things we're doing to get to that? And so lowest on the bucket food number one. Number two was there's a lot of close canopies still. Um, this is a lot of mature timber. There's not a lot of, uh, regenerative growth, um, early successional growth, anything like that. So it was, I got a biologist out, got permission to, to do some thinning, some improvement.

Um, we did that and really did it in pocket. And then actually really excited about coming up in a month. We are gonna do a prescribed buyer, which is super uncommon here for Woodlands. There's a few people here and there that burn ditches and grasslands. But we're gonna take my [00:21:00] farm, the timber ground, 40 acres, split it into thirds, and we're gonna burn a third of it every year.

So it's on a three year rotation. And we have, uh, a bunch of Indiana state biologists coming, the president of Pheasants forever. And I think we're actually gonna try to get some companies on board and film it and produce it and just kind of make it a, you know, a learning thing, like I say, and where we're at in Indiana.

It's just not a common practice, but I think it's gonna be awesome. I'm really looking forward to it. ,

Mitchell Shirk: that is really exciting. You know, uh, prescribed fire is one of those things. I think it scares a lot of people. Like we can do it here in Pennsylvania, but, um, you know, if you, uh, don't have a, a burn boss on, on site with that, then you're, you're pretty much on your own as far as, uh, liability goes.

Yeah, exactly. So I think it scares a lot of people. Plus it's, it's, I mean, it's a lot of work, especially in a lot of the habitat types that, uh, that. Have access to do it on, um, it's just a, a little bit extra work and you're talking about, you know, fire breaks and stuff like that. But that's really cool. So I was kind of, I'm kind [00:22:00] of curious.

I was, I think you answered my, the one question I had, you, you were, you said that you had to have, or you had a biologist out, I was assuming to have a, a written plan up that probably had to be a, a quote unquote qualified individual for that. So, um, as you, uh, as you guys came up with that prescription in prescribed fire, did they talk about, or did you guys kind of convene over, what were some of the beneficial species that you were kind of targeting in, in replacing with that prescribed fire?

Dwayne Jones: Yeah, so the, the program i's in is called classified forest and wildlands. And it was kind of funny how me and the forester that I had out, uh, biologist and a forester, the forester more, she's the one that writes the management plan and kind of oversees everything. , she, uh, especially initially was very much so more forest reminded than wildlands.

Mm-hmm. . And I would, I would kind of jokingly remind her that it's forest or you know, forest and wildlands. And so, um, yeah. It's, it's really [00:23:00] targeting, like some of the stuff is, especially the trees that are fire suppressing, like beach and maple. Um, thinning those out. Cause there's a ton of maple on, on us.

Mm-hmm. poplars, same thing. Uh, but sh she too, you know, had talked about oaks typically respond really, really well to fire. And, um, we, this had gone through a, a grant, we got a grant a few years ago before we bought the farm to remove all the invasives. So there, you know, you take a walk through our property and there's very little aala or bush honeysuckle or multi floral rose, anything like, And we're hoping that to not have to go in and cut and tot on stuff every year because the fire, hopefully the fire will set that stuff back enough every three years that it, it just kind of keeps up with it.

But yeah, we're looking forward to seeing how the oaks respond to fire. Um, and, and also to see like, you know, will it, will it top kill some of the stuff that we don't want in there to where it gets more sunlight to the fourth floor? Um, stuff like that.

Mitchell Shirk: Yeah, it definitely sounds, the way you're talking about [00:24:00] approaching your property, you're looking at it from a long term investment for sure.

Because, um, yeah, there's a lot of schools of thought out there and it's amazing how in the habitat world and man habitat managers, how they can be so much, um, Bickering, I guess would be the word, or, or have how the correct way to do it. And invasives is a good example. Like, you know, I've been to places where the best cover was auto olive, and then the, the theory was that if you completely strip that property of all that auto olive, then you've completely lost all the cover on that property.

You, you've com you've, you've basically made your property a wasteland anyway as far as the cover aspect goes. And it's gonna take time to regenerate that. But if you're, if the long term end is gonna be replacing it with better Forbes shrubs, uh, hardwood regeneration, things like that, um, what, what, what's wrong with that?

So I, I guess I kind of wonder, uh, I'm assuming that was your, your approach from the beginning or your thought process going into this, when I, when I do this, I wanna do it all and I wanna do [00:25:00] it the right way.

Dwayne Jones: Absolutely. Yep. A hundred percent. Yeah. Just looking at like, another thing she was, she was relatively against, and I know it has its place and there's properties you shouldn't do it on, but like doing, uh, hinge cuts.

She was not a fan of doing, doing hinge cuts at all. But there were areas where we did it and some of these bedding pockets, again, to get hardwood regeneration and get some of those sprouts out of the horizontal branches that are laying down and stuff like that. And again, like we've removed a lot of the cover by taking out all the invasives, um, how do you get that back?

And it's, you know, putting horizontal cover on the ground. Yeah. That's instant cover, 10% improvement. Yeah, exactly.

Mitchell Shirk: Instant cover. Exactly. And, and I think a lot of places, like, uh, some of the places that I hunt out here, it's, it's completely big hardwood timber and the, the problem is not, uh, the. Blow ground cover.

I mean, the problem is we need to remove over story. And you know, it's simply cutting large trees that are never gonna be timber. Just letting them lay down creates cover and creates sunlight. Um, hinge cutting, I don't think has to [00:26:00] be something that's done all the time, but, you know, that's, uh, that's pretty cool.

So, um, as you've, uh, seen this property transpire the past few years, um, what's the, the shift in the deer herd been like?

Dwayne Jones: Incredible. Honestly. Like, you know, going into this, you, you have dreams and aspirations and hopes for what it'll be. Like. We talked about having kids. I have young kids. I hope for them to be able to take them out and them see deer.

You know, it's not about always killing one or having giants around, but I, I hope that numbers would, would be there for, you know, any, any given day if we go get in a tree sander box blind or you know, ground blind, whatever, that we're gonna at least see deer because at nine and 10, that's what's gonna keep 'em wanting to go.

Mm-hmm. having encounters. So, um, yeah, numbers wise and age structure wise, it, it just, It, honestly, it almost blows me away. I've spent a ton of time the past decade in researching habitat improvements and, you know, dos and don'ts and trying to learn, learn from others' mistakes and stuff like that. And so we've kind of gone into this and, and, [00:27:00] you know, I feel like have done the best we could with it, but to see in two years to go from that, you know, the first winter they're running cameras, having nothing but a couple, two year olds to now next year having a couple five year olds, handful of four year olds, um, yeah, I couldn't be happier with it.

It, it's been such a rewarding experience.

Mitchell Shirk: Do you think, uh, so, so having the property in such a short time, you're starting to see that age structure change. Do you think it's, um, uh, a fact that the fact that you've had such a, a vacuum of, of better quality habitat on your property and shorter that you're creating a vacuum from the, the, the greater surrounding area?

Or, um, you know, is the, is the, uh, hunting pressure relatively low that deer are just getting to an a better age class in the first place, and now you've created something that's like, what, what's what, what do you attribute that to? Is it a combination of things or

Dwayne Jones: It's a little of both. Um, before we bought it, I, I'd heard rumors that.

The doctor we bought it from is one of those [00:28:00] guys that doesn't like conflict. He wants everybody to be his friend. And unfortunately that led to, there were times, I guess what is now our driveway. Uh, there would be 7, 8, 9 trucks of guys there opening day, a firearm season. Mm. And just people everywhere. So, as you can imagine, a as you can imagine, the herd was decimated every firearm season.

You know, our, our season being two weeks, three weekends long. Um, when we bought this property, we also leased a lot of what he has. And although we don't really hunt it, we leased it to keep the pressure off. Uh, myself, really, myself and my dad have replaced likely 10 guys. Um, now the surrounding properties, there still is a lot of.

But again, you know, we bought this property two years ago. We've, we've, for the last two years, I've had the farmer leave an acre of grain. We've planted two to three acres in, in greens, whether it's brass, um, late planted beans, peas, oats, stuff like that. And then a half acre plus of clover in the center of the woods that, that, and none of that's been [00:29:00] hunted.

You know, we've just, we did all this habitat work and we've just tried to stay out and keep the pressure off as much as possible. So I do think there's a vacuum, but it also is definitely from the reduced hunting pressure. And there're being so much pressure around that when they start getting pressured on neighboring properties, they've figured out that they can come to mind and they're safe.

Mitchell Shirk: That's pretty cool. So as you've been able to kind of watch this develop, you're starting to see some deer that are getting to a, a four year old plus age class. Um, are you starting to get in and, and start to formulate, um, a, a plan and kind of see things come together for 2023?

Dwayne Jones: Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So, um, we forgot to mention this earlier, this coming spring, we're putting seven, or sorry, nine acres in warm season grass, a CRP program.

So that's another thing here. There's just less and less c r p. There's, there's almost no grasses around because cash rent is so high. Um, but, you know, I, I joke about this all the time with my wife, that since I was a little kid driving around, I'd always [00:30:00] said one of my biggest goals was to buy a piece of property and do the opposite of what everyone around here is doing.

I wanna take it from farmland and I wanna put it back to habitat. Mm-hmm. . And, and so we are gonna plant that whole front seven acre field and warm season grasses. And then we're gonna do a border 30 feet wide all the way around the back, uh, back field in warm season grasses to like create the edge feathering, um, make better Turkey nesting, make it easier to access hunting wise and stuff like that.

So that's one big thing for this spring. . Um, and then just continuing to build on plots. I think more than likely every year I'll probably be trying to figure out how I can squeeze in just a little bit more. Mm-hmm. . So yeah, just continue to do the same stuff. Uh, like I said, prescribed fire we're doing this year, uh, nine acres of grasses.

I'm gonna continue with the, uh, the plot stuff. So

Mitchell Shirk: what about looking forward to it? Good deal. What about from the aspect of, uh, of targets?

Dwayne Jones: Target bucks? Yeah. Yeah. Oh yeah. So last year, uh, another thing I'm not sure how Pennsylvania is Indiana, we can [00:31:00] supplemental feed outside of season, so it has to be cleaned up 10 days prior to hunting the area.

Um, but this time of year it's something we do partake in. Uh, and I love doing it, to be honest. I feel like around here it really helps these deer recover from the rut. Um, when there is very limited food sources and a lot of times, you know, foot of snow on the ground, it gives 'em something to go to. And then of course, me being shed seasoned, it definitely helps hold 'em around to find some sheds.

So last year we found nine sheds on my property. . Um, which for here was really good. I was tickled to death. And a couple of those bucks that I said were four this year that have made it to five, we have their match sets from last year. I'm watching 'em actually getting pictures of 'em every day. And, uh, well I have two five year olds.

And then the one time I hunted the farm this year, I went in with, with a specific goal. There was a three year old that I had that was, he was, uh, about 150 inch mainframe, 10 with like an eight inch drop off his base. And I was getting him a lot and I, I had a feeling I knew where he was living. And so I slipped in one day, took a NOx hi [00:32:00] in, and did a hanging hunt.

And I, I had no desire obviously, to shoot him, but I wanted to see if I can encounter him. And I did. I got to film him. He came, ended up coming into eight yards and bumping some those around and stuff. And so, although we really would like to shoot five year olds, I'm not gonna pass 170 inch four year old here.

We definitely will have three shooters here for sure next year. Um, two of which we have last year's match set. Hoping, hoping to find 'em this year again. They're still hanging around, so we're really excited about it. Great.

Mitchell Shirk: So that kind of answered my question. That's shed season as far as, um, it, it, it's probably not quite in full swing yet, but we're at the, we're at the cusp here, so what's that been like for you?

Dwayne Jones: So right now we are in full, like people getting fired up about shed season. The, the time to hit the woods is not there yet here anyway. Mm-hmm. , uh, it is some places north of us where they've had a lot, a lot harsher winter and a lot more snow here in Indiana. The, the month of January was more like late March.

It was fifties and rain all month, so [00:33:00] they really had these bucks spread out a lot. The, the stress level was super low. There was still a lot of food, you know, the green stuff is all around and everything like that. So it's been super warm and super low stress. Um, I actually don't have a single buck shut out yet at all still today, so.

Wow. Uh, but knowing that the time's coming, I think I was looking back through photos the other day and the first sheds I found there last year were like mid-February, so we're only two, three weeks from that. So, It's definitely really, really starting to ramp up where people are anticipating it, looking forward to it, and wanting to consume shed related content.

Mitchell Shirk: Thi this year I feel like, um, my conversations with other people in Pennsylvania, um, you know, if you follow a little bit on social media maybe, um, and just my own experiences with some of my trail cameras, you can definitely tell where Habitat is different across the landscape because it seems like places we had, you know, with an extreme drought this year, food sources were just completely [00:34:00] different.

The other problem we had in a good portion of Pennsylvania, uh, we had a bad problem with, uh, gypsy mos and just absolutely hammered oak trees and Oh wow. Just, just absolutely decimated pockets of, uh, of. Acorn production throughout the state. So you're talking about Big Woods up here. So we actually had, I, I, I, I had friends and I, I've seen pictures of bucks that were shedding in our, in our rifle season, which our rifle season is always this Saturday after Thanksgiving and runs, uh, two weeks, then into December.

So, wow. It was, uh, there were some cases where it was pretty early. I know there was people that were hunting deer in our, our late season Flintlock, which starts the, you know, the day after Christmas and bucks were shed out. So, Uh, real, I know this, this weekend is our last weekend of the extended season.

I'm gonna be doing some hunting. Uh, I'm like, it's gonna be like constantly into binoculars, making sure it's a, it's a dough before I pull the trigger on [00:35:00] anything, so. Oh yeah. It's just been, uh, really crazy. So it's, it's good to hear that you had some, some normal stuff here. So stuff will start to pick up for you as far as checking things out on the farm for the next two

Dwayne Jones: weeks.

Yeah, definitely. So right now I, I'm running a bunch of cell cameras, uh, running cameras on feed. I actually just, I sent you a picture of that, the buck that I passed that was a three year old this year. But, uh, yeah. So I'll, I'll just monitor cameras, man. Yep. He's a good one. That was literally and an hour ago maybe, so.

Yep. Monitor cameras when I start to see, see 'em, pop it off there. Uh, I'll, I'll look around a little bit as I go into feed, but I probably won't really look on my farm heavily until 80 90% of 'em are shut out because like I said, the pressure's low. Most of 'em, especially like the weather is, we just had a front come in.

We got four, five inches of snow yesterday and the day before, and tonight's the coldest it's been in a month. So, you know, cameras are on fire blowing up nonstop, and they're, they're around. As long as I don't go in there and push [00:36:00] 'em out, they're gonna be there. Mm-hmm. . So no rush. Um, we will wait until the cameras tell us to go and then it'll be, Go like gangbusters,

Mitchell Shirk: Good deal. You know, I, I think it's probably because of the, the way our, our deer herd is and the places that I hunt, the, the way that they shift. Um, I just never got crazy about shed hunting. And that might sound crazy to anybody who's listening to this and is really into shed hunting. I mean, I got, I know, I know plenty of buddies that go on on trips annually outta state just to shed hunt.

And I'm like, you know, that time of year, like I just think about all the work that I have to do. Like I, I've got, um, you know, trees to cut and, um, Trails to monitor and, you know, clean up tree stands that it just, all this whole list of things to do a lot of time. It's, it's, uh, prepping more stuff for food plots in the spring.

Like the, the list of own private land for me never ends. So I just never took the time and the little bit of free time I had to actually go shed hunting. But it, it, it is a really cool thing and you know, [00:37:00] as I'm, as my, I'm starting to see my kids grow. I see it's gonna be a really good opportunity for me to get out with kids.

Dwayne Jones: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. I have, I have a son and daughter. My son's 10, daughter's nine and the last handful of years, uh, my daughter actually has been more into shed humming than my son even. Um, just absolutely loves to go. And there, there's been days there where. You know, your phone or your watch tracks, how many miles you put on.

And when she was five, six years old and would go, we might walk 8, 9, 10 miles in a day. And at the end of the day I look at that and be like, oh, wow. I probably pushed her a little hard. But she, she absolutely loves to get, that's cool. So it, it is fun to get 'em out. And I'm actually, I'm was in the process of writing an article this morning, uh, for a blog and was talking about shed season and kind of like, you know, deer season's over.

Now what, and this has become one of my favorite times of the year and kind of was thinking about it this morning, and to me it's kinda like this, you know, when you follow these deer for 2, 3, 4 years and you get 'em to four or five, you shoot 'em and it's bittersweet because they're not, they're not there anymore.

You know, [00:38:00] all the pictures and the, the encounters and stuff like that, it's all over. It's done. You killed them. But with shut. , you know, you still, you got a piece of 'em, but they're still there. Um, I don't know. It's, it's really cool to me that and, and finding them and then getting to watch what they do next year and how they keep the same little characteristics, but a lot of times they're bigger or slightly different.

There's just something really cool and unique to it, and I, I just am crazy drawn to it. It's, you know, definitely shed crazy here.

Mitchell Shirk: What was your, the past several years, what was your introduction and what was that first time that you, you kind of flipped that switch on shed hunting?

Dwayne Jones: So it would've, it's been a lot of years ago, but, um, one of my best friends I hunted with when we were teenagers, same, same friend I started food plotting with back in 2007, 2008.

He had found a, she antler by accident when we were probably 16, 17. And, um, the fact that he found it, I can remember sitting there at his kitchen table admiring this antler that he found and, and kind, you know, you, you know, they shut [00:39:00] out. But it's just not something that was at the forefront of our mind back then.

and I just remember being completely and totally blown away by it. And immediately then we'd go out and start trying to find the other side. And that year we ended up having a couple of days, which, you know, now I realize how fortunate we were. But you know, days where we'd go into a patch of woods in the middle of a section and find 6, 7, 8 sheds in a day.

Wow. And it just, it, it ruined me, to be honest. It pretty well ruined me. So this time of year that's at the forefront of my mind and putting all these miles on the truck, I'm constantly trying to keep it between the ditches watch, looking for sheds in the fields and stuff like that. So, so

Mitchell Shirk: that's a blast.

So did the attraction kind of start off just out of the, the, the sheer fact of finding antler? Or were you kind looking at it from the aspect of, I'm, I'm doing this in areas I hunt, and kind of also learning the land, learning the deer habits that time of year, a little bit different. Like what was. was it?

Or was it just uh, truly antler.

Dwayne Jones: Crazy. Yeah. At the beginning it was really, truly was just a fascination thing. Antlers, [00:40:00] um, the finding them and, and just remember how cool it was. Like I said, it admired them and I, you know, that was it at the beginning. A fascination thing. Antlers, it has become though, um, more of just like building the story with particular deer.

Mm-hmm. , um, building history with them, learning. You learn. Every time I find a shed, you kinda learn a little bit more. A lot of times you'll find 'em in beds and stuff like that and they can tell you a lot about, you know, where the deer living or how they're using, using the farm. So it, it has become that as I've gotten older, but it just started with fascination painters.

Mitchell Shirk: That's really cool. So, um, obviously with, with, uh, feeding, taking place on your property, um, you're holding deer, you've got a lot of good habitat and stuff, so I'm, I'm kind of curious, when you find, uh, sheds a lot of time on your property or any other properties that you go, is is there, is, is it more common to find them at feeding areas, bedding areas, or somewhere in between?

Dwayne Jones: Uh, definitely for us here, feeding areas. Okay. Um, [00:41:00] like I said, e everything gets harvested here. Typically they, you know, farmers don't leave anything. Uh, a lot of, a lot of the stuff gets worked in the fall, so there's, there's very little food really for us being an ag state. So if you can find a food source, Yeah, a soybean field was too flooded in the fall.

They couldn't harvest the beans and so they left 10 acres of beans standing or, um, me and one of my best friends last year found a field that was, it was probably 120 acres, uh, that was harvested. Most of the beans were harvested. They had to leave a little bit, stay up by, by the house again, it was too wet.

And then they ended up drilling till, till Radisson into this field as a cover crop. Mm-hmm. . And it was surrounded by safety zone reservoir property that can't be hunted. And we found 14 sheds in a day there. And the smallest one was probably 120 inch, eight point. Wow. The biggest was probably an upper seventies 10.

And just, it almost felt fake. But that's how it is here. You [00:42:00] find if you find the hot food source, that's where the deer gonna be. Period. End the end of story. If you find staining grain, um, good cover crop, if you're planting food plots, You're gonna find Chads. Yeah,

Mitchell Shirk: I, I can kind of echo that. Um, we, uh, one, one of the things that's cool about the, the section of Pennsylvania I'm in, uh, the agriculture community in our area does a really, really good job of planting cover crops.

We actually have a lot of wheat that goes to grain, which is, you know, basically, uh, a food source right now. We also have a lot of, um, overwintering cover crops to go to the cash crop the following year, and places with high deer density manners, places that I go, when I'm looking at fields in, uh, in marching stuff, it's, it's just chewed down lip high and, you know, be 10, 15, 20 acre, uh, ag fields in that case.

And I found, uh, quite a bit of sheds. It just in my day job, in my walking and my traveling doing that. But, uh, I, the, the, the, the trickiest part for us, like I had, uh, I'd taken a walk last year on this [00:43:00] mountain property that I have to hunt, and I don't remember how many miles I put on that. It was like a day after work.

I had like two or three hours to spare fork, got dark, and, uh, I noticed that everywhere I walked, um, I was finding traffic, but the places that I actually would find sheds were either, I, I found one last year. It was, it was a target buck we ended up killing this year, um, in a food plot, and the others were on r real distinct knot, uh, points.

Um, there was a couple, uh, points on this ridge that a lot of the oak canopy had died and we had a lot of thick brows and, uh, that was like my next best spot and like I started weaving through and I'd find sheds in those areas. And it, other than that, it's like always a, a needle and a haystack for me. Uh, I think it's just, cuz it's, it's just so different, um, here and I, I'm definitely not the person to be talking about, uh, sheds in our area, but the, the couple I've found over the years, whenever you find them, like there's the, the, the buck we killed this past year, uh, [00:44:00] I, I was thinking like, what cool things could we do with that antler to go with that mount?

Like that, that was just such a cool part of that story. Cuz like you said, I've watched that deer three or four seasons now and then to finally see this story come to a close, it's, it, it's, it's, it's just a truly cool experience to have that bone on the wall.

Dwayne Jones: Absolutely. Yeah. It, it's incredible man.

That's, uh, I, I have a buddy that has, he shot an eight and a half year old buck last, I think it was last year or the year before. And he had four or five years of sheds to him before that. And again, it's, I just, I, I think it's something truly incredible to have that much history with him. And he had mounted those all, um, on an RH one, a product that TJ makes, so, mm-hmm.

Yeah. I think he had four years of right sides to him, and so he had taken an old piece of barnwood and put each shed, you know, obviously ascending age up and then had deer mounted there. And, uh, it's just pretty special.

Mitchell Shirk: I'll Awesome. Um, So when, uh, when you get into full [00:45:00] shed hunting mode, what does that look like to you?

If, if, if this, especially given the fact that you're dad and a full-time worker, but like, what, what's that gonna look like?

Dwayne Jones: Yeah. Just any opportunity I can, um, you, we'll, do

Mitchell Shirk: you do a lot of other

Dwayne Jones: properties besides your farm? I do. Yeah, I do. Yep. There's, there's a, a handful of farms here that for probably 10 years that we've just, shed hunted.

I can't whitetail hunt 'em. Mm-hmm. . Um, but that's, again, I'll take my daughter and my son and we'll go, um, got some buddies that I go with. But yeah, it'll, it'll be as of probably mid-February, it'll be most weekends and any spare second I can get, we'll be out hitting it. Um, I'm actually hoping to try and take a trip to Missouri and maybe even a couple trips to Missouri.

Honestly. Um, Ty Easley from Heartland Bow Hunter, he and I have been talking a bunch, and I'm hoping to get out there and spend a, a weekend or a long weekend with. and then some guys from like, bog old timer, uh, Eyman. They've got a few big, big farms out there that it sounds like we're gonna try to hit mid-March.

So Yeah. We'll, we'll be taking some trips [00:46:00] and there'll be a couple months here where it'll be, we'll be going nonstop. Mm-hmm.

Mitchell Shirk: Mm. Yeah, like, like I said, that's, uh, it's a whole different aspect when you think about it, just because it just opens a whole new world up, because how many times do you talk about cabin fever in February and March?

I do it all the

Dwayne Jones: time. Yep. Yep. Absolutely. Again, yeah, that's one of the biggest things. This has become one of my favorite times of the year, and because of the things we're talking about, you know, Right now dormant season for trees best, really the best time to go in and cut timber if you, as long as you cannot identify what you're cutting.

But going in and doing habitat work, reading gear sign, and getting out and looking for sheds, you know, doesn't get much better to me. So next to a perfect front on in late October, early November, this is as good as it gets for

Mitchell Shirk: me. Better believe it, man. So the, you know, the however many properties that you get to shed hunt, do you get to do that in close proximity to any places that you can hunt and kind of get.

The pieces of the puzzle together on deer that you follow throughout the course of the year that maybe [00:47:00] you go, what, what, what the heck happened when I was following him from, uh, you know, October one to December 31st and then kind of get to scope the landscape and go, oh, maybe this is another piece of that puzzle.

Dwayne Jones: Yeah. That, that is a big focus. Um, we, we'll kind of look at like my home farm look in the surrounding couple of miles and if, if we find a hot food source, luckily here the shed hunting has not become, it's nothing like getting permission to actually hunt. They're, most of these guys, especially farmers, want you to, to go out and find 'em so they're not running 'em over in the tractor.

Mm-hmm. . So most of these guys will let you go. But yeah, find hot food source again, somebody that's left grain staying cuz they had to or something like that. And we'll get, get permission and a lot of times it's, it's pretty remarkable. You, you may have. All year long and are positive he died cuz he disappeared in mid-October and we'll find his sheds two miles away, three miles away sometimes.

So yeah, we'll definitely focus around the farms that we hunt first and then it's, you know, we got, we got shed fever, we just [00:48:00] wanna find sheds, so we'll go anywhere the lettuce,

Mitchell Shirk: so when you get into shed fever, you start collecting that many sheds. You were talking about some of the products, um, that. Kind of hang 'em on and stuff.

So like, what do you personally like to do with all the sheds you

Dwayne Jones: find? Yeah, luckily my wife has similar taste in home decor, so. Well, that's good. Yeah. It, it, it's nice. So I think I told you at the beginning of this, we're in the process right now, building, building a house. We're building a barn dominium or a barn house.

And that'll be, that'll be the taste. There'll be sheds everywhere, but that's kind of how it's been. You know, we got baskets full of sheds here and there. And then, uh, some of the biggest ones we have are on the rack, hub mounts, whether it's an RH one for a single shed or an RH two for a match set. Uh, got a bunch of those here, there and everywhere.

Do it tastefully, but you know, it's what we love. It's our passion. So that's, they're everywhere around the house.

Mitchell Shirk: Um, so that RH one, like, do a lot of people use that in a sense, kind of like you described earlier, like kind of that, uh, leading in, like if you have a story that you've brought [00:49:00] together from a bucket you've harvested, kind of something like that.

To display on, on with a shoulder mount? Yes,

Dwayne Jones: absolutely. Yeah. There's, there's a lot of, you know, through shed season and rack up both on the social side. We've had so many photos and videos shared with how people have used it. But yeah, a lot of times that's what it is. You have a shoulder mount and then whatever sheds you have there are mounted on this rh one of this RH two where they're mounted and displayed, but you can also take 'em off and handle 'em and stuff like that, and they go right back on and play.

So that's a really cool, cool way to slam 'em. For sure. Do

Mitchell Shirk: you ever get any other creative ideas or stuff around the house as far as displaying 'em or utilizing

Dwayne Jones: them? No. We've kind of talked about here now building this house, like trying to throw together some, a chandelier and stuff like that. Um, really haven't done a whole lot of that.

Like, so most, to be honest with you, most of 'em are in baskets. Mm. Here in, you know, fortunately I have a ton of 'em. So unless they're big, big, they're probably stuck in a basket somewhere.

Mitchell Shirk: So do you do all your shed hunting on foot yourself or do you incorporate [00:50:00] dogs at all?

Dwayne Jones: Um, we have incorporated dogs a little.

I I, we got a lab as a puppy that was out a, she was out Pop Bluff, Missouri. And the female that she was out of was actually, uh, red and raised and trained. Fores shed hunting was really good with it. And it, it, it is a hundred percent my fault. I didn't finish her out, um, didn't spend the time with her. I should have, like, after she was a year or so old, she probably would find a shed, but she's definitely by no means like a shed dog or anything.

But, so we're pri primarily on foot or like if we get in a big field setting to where we're watching 30, 40, 50 deer in an evening feed in a 300 acre cornfield, we may jump on a side by side or something like that and, and ride around the row and try to, Um,

Mitchell Shirk: my job, you know, agronomy, I, uh, I've said this so many times that I am an animal appreciator and I appreciate it when they're on my plate, and that's about it.

I just don't, that's [00:51:00] alright. I just don't have the patience with a lot of animals. So, like, we have dogs and, you know, like when we first got, um, our, our lab that we have, he's, I think tank is five now. Geez, Pete's time flies. He's five. But anyway, right. , we, uh, I had to sit in my head that like, I wanted to, to utilize my dog for Whitetails and, you know, I've seen people doing shed hunting and, you know, using him for, for uh, you know, tracking wounded game and stuff like that.

And it's like, yeah, that sounds really cool. I wanna learn about that. And then life happens and I realize that I am not a dog trainer by any sorts, and I have very little . So like the first few weeks of that process, like started off great and then as it started to wear off, I'm like, this is not worth it to me.

It's just,

Dwayne Jones: yeah. Yeah, it's a huge time commitment. That's the biggest thing for me. I mean, It, it was fun and exciting when she was a little puppy. Like every little step where she would, you know, Excel is, is awesome and exciting, but it, there comes a point where it's just, it's such a time commitment that, that just me, for me personally, I [00:52:00] just, I, I just lose it.

I can't st I can't stick with it. Hmm. So,

Mitchell Shirk: yeah, man, I, uh, I, I'm anxious to try looking at a couple new sh new properties in shed hunting, and I, I, I think I'm gonna go with the mindset that, like, I'm looking for new properties, mainly for the, the, the thought of just trying to learn 'em better in the wintertime and try to have a better avenue of hunting them.

I, uh, I, I said before on my show, you know that some of the places that I'm, I'm, I have on a map that I want to do some scouting this. , um, I'm really focusing in, I I really wanna kill a bear in Pennsylvania with my bow. And, uh, I, I think that's gonna be, um, my motivation this time of year to go out, um, scout and just learn the areas and, uh, hopefully, you know, along the way a lot of our, our hunt hunting season, you know, it's kind of overlapping bear and deer that I can shoot a buck or a bear.

So, um, what better way to, uh, kind of check things out when it's in the heart of shed season?

Dwayne Jones: [00:53:00] Absolutely, yeah. This is, this is just such a good time to be out there. I, you gotta be careful not to read too much into the, the, like, what I would say the winter sign, like for us right now, you know, like I, I have a two and a half acre brass plot and if I go in there, the sign's gonna be deceiving cuz they're hammering the brass, whereas they're not doing that in November.

But, um, if you pay attention, you can definitely see the fall sign, you know, seeing rub lines and. where they were making scrapes and where there's trails from the fall and stuff like that. And, uh, it's easy, easy to look at that and know how or where you need to make adjustments for next fall. But also, you know, you're, you're in there and if there's sheds there, you're gonna find them.

Mitchell Shirk: Yeah. Kind of going, I, I kind of wouldn't mind going back. He brought up, uh, good point there with hitting Nebraska's really hard right now and, uh, you know, structuring your, your property and food sources and such. You know, I, I've tried to do whatever I can to keep food sources. As bountiful as pro [00:54:00] possible, you know, from beginning of hunting season, ending hunting season, and trying to keep movement consistent.

You know, I, I know a lot you, you brought up Jeff Sturgiss, you know, he's somebody that, that talks about that amongst many other, uh, managers and stuff like that. So, do you see, um, way you're, you're tinkering with your property, you're kinda seeing that fluctuate throughout different parts of your property, the way you have your food plot set, or like, what is, what does that look like from, uh, uh, a location standpoint and how deer moving throughout your property from October till now?

Dwayne Jones: Yeah. Um, it, it's, I guess, kind of constantly evolving. Um, I think I've, I've found in the, in the couple of years of owning it, that there are some constants, you know, there's some bedding areas that they use constantly, whether it's July or January. But there are, you know, some of these food plots, they're designed to be attractions in the fall and winter.

Mm-hmm. period. You know, they're, they're not gonna be hitting Nebraska plot in February, or I'm sorry, in June or July, because there's [00:55:00] nothing there. Um, and, and kind of by design, you know, like Jeff talks a lot about not building a dough factory and, you know, while like we do have clover there, we do, there's, there's, there's just so much food in the summer.

I was actually going through some summer photos the other day, uh, on my phone that I had saved. And if you look at all, everything that's green then compared to now, everything's a food source that they don't really need food plots in the summertime because everything's a food source right now is when they need food.

You know, there's, there's not much out there. So it just makes perfect sense, you know, coming back to the habitat or the shed. If you have the food now you're gonna have the deer period, just cuz there's, there's not much food out there. So, um, that's kinda the way we've structured our farm is to make sure that they're there in the following winter, when we're gonna be hunting 'em or when we're gonna be hoping to find their sheds and the rest of the year.

It just kind of is what it is. If they're there, cool. If they're not there, that's cool too.

Mitchell Shirk: Is, uh, is food, is the way you design your food plot program also, do [00:56:00] you have in the back of the mine, uh, shed season in, in your design in that?

Dwayne Jones: Oh yeah. A hundred percent. Yeah. You gotta keep that in mind. Um, my two biggest plots this year were an acre and a half standing cornfield, and then the two and a half acre brass plot.

And they're, they're almost side by side and they're both screened in with borderline, um, Egyptian wheat mm-hmm. , stuff like that. So they're hidden. There's literally, you know, you can't see it from any road or house. Nobody's ever back. So super secure and you know, like this evening I was telling you, uh, this evening's the coldest it's been in a month and just, it was picture after picture after picture, just deer pouring out into that cornfield and they, they kinda work across, you know, they'll hit the corn for a while and then they'll, I'll have em on Nebraska on cameras there.

But, um, yep, it's definitely structured and set up for them to be there now and again with like supplemental feeding, as soon as I'm done hunting and I know for sure I'm done hunting and, and my dad is done hunting, uh, we'll start getting feet out just to build some consistency. They know it's there, uh, when they need it, they hit it [00:57:00] and it just helps hold 'em closer so that they're, they're gonna shut out somewhere close by.


Mitchell Shirk: Do you, uh, is that kinda like the icing to the cake or do you feel like you'd still have a really good chance of, of capitalizing on some sheds without that, uh, supplemental

Dwayne Jones: feed? Yeah, I, I think we would have a, we would definitely have a good chance. Um, but it, it does make a huge difference.

There's been, I would say the last three or four years I've probably found. three, four sheds a year, at least in the feed, like in the feed pile itself, or, or within feet of it. And you just wouldn't, you know, you wouldn't have that if, if they're out there feeding in a 33 acre cornfield, it's gonna be way harder to find a shed than if they're feeding in a 10 foot circle.

Sure, sure. Yep. So it's kinda why we

Mitchell Shirk: look at it exciting time of year, exciting way to keep, uh, keep putting the miles on. I know one thing this time of year, it's like a, a motivation. The, the motivation for continuing to go out, aside from all the hunting is a lot of time I'm coming off [00:58:00] the holidays, I usually ate too damn much in the first place.

So it's like, great way to get burned some calories off. But man, uh, this has been great. So, hey, anything, uh, you wanna, you wanna share with us, um, from the, from the rack hub side of things, shed season, side of things, be, uh, before we let you go back to your family?

Dwayne Jones: Yeah. Um, I would just say stay tuned. Uh, we've got, Shed

Uh, we've got a whole new apparel line coming out here in the next couple of weeks. I think today actually started a sale where everything we have currently has gone on sale. And once it's gone, it's gone. Uh, we're, we're replenishing that stuff with all new designs and we're really excited about it. We got some really cool stuff coming up there.

So, um, but shed season officially kicks off for us Valentine's Day. So Valentine's Day through April 14th, it is shed season and we'll be doing four big giveaways during that time. Uh, we got some incredible partners. So giveaway package is gonna be humongous. It, it's gonna be really cool. So, but follow along there also, like if you find good sheds, if you have a good story, share it with us.

We'd love [00:59:00] to put it out there. That's, that's why we started shed season, is just to be a community and a platform to share and consume antler related content. So definitely don't, don't be afraid to reach out or send that stuff over cause we love seeing it. What's the best way

Mitchell Shirk: to, uh, to follow along?

Dwayne Jones: Uh, Instagram?

I would say Instagram is where we're most active for sure.

Mitchell Shirk: Good deal. Exciting stuff. So, last question I wanna leave you with. Um, it could be shed related, it could be hunting related, it could be anything related. What's got you the most excited in 2023?

Dwayne Jones: Um, well, uh, I guess that's gonna be a, a handful of things, so I'll try to make it a quick though.

So, obviously buying the farm, he's been a huge blessing and we've loved every second of that, but we, we really haven't hunted it for two years. So going into this year actually getting to focus on hunting the home farm for the first time is, is really exciting. Knowing we have a couple good shooters there is really exciting.

But also my dad didn't grow up hunting, uh, has never really been a white sail hunter. But here the last, you know, I would say the [01:00:00] last year I've gotten him involved enough in the habitat stuff that he's seen the changes and then, you know, we've got all these cell cameras running and he's a guest on there, so he gets all the pictures and he's getting excited about it.

And I really, really look forward to this coming year, getting him on his first year. So, A number of cool things happening, but, uh, 2023 is gonna be fun.

Mitchell Shirk: That is really cool. So if, uh, if your dad didn't hunt, how did you get exposed into the hunting community?

Dwayne Jones: Um, I had, I had some friends when I was younger.

I grew up racing motocross and I had some friends that also hunted and I guess hearing themselves stories and, and, you know, kinda got me interested. And then I did have, uh, an aunt and uncle that were very much into hunting and just at some point it came point when I was 12 or 13 years old where I became interested enough that I asked to go and it went one time.

And that was pretty much the end of the story.

Mitchell Shirk: Seems to be the case for most of us. It's not hard to, it's not hard to set the hook for us once we get started with this stuff. No, that's a fact. Now are your kids at a point where they're starting to hunt yet?

Dwayne Jones: They are. Yeah. My [01:01:00] son shot his first buck two years ago, actually.

Sa saying we didn't, I really haven't hunted the home far, but my son actually did shoot his first year ever a buck there, uh, last year in rifle season. And getting to share that with him was, was pretty incredible. He, uh, He, he hadn't been like super consumed with it or really ate up about it, but he, he, he liked it enough that he wanted to go and we went a couple times and opening day of firearm season last year in 21.

He shot an eight point there and dropped it in his tracks and instantly started bawling. And it was, it was an awesome experience. Yeah, that's

Mitchell Shirk: one best of my life. That's the kind of stuff you want and I, I really hope that you get to have that same experience with your dad. There's something about Yeah, too, man, there's, there's something about sharing.

I mean, I talk about the camaraderie aspect all the time and there's something about sharing it with people you love in the first place, but to me there is also something about doing it on your own home turf, that you've watched it grow and you've, you've grown so attached to that. Like one, one thing that I don't do on public land, some people probably [01:02:00] do, but I don't get really attached to places on public land.

I have places I like, I like to venture off, but if something changes, it's just easy for me to move on. Cuz most of the time when something changes, it's human. Um, it's, it's human cause. So then I just move on and I never really grow onto that spot. Um, where it's different where a piece of private land where you've got the sole focus and you can do what you want, um, , it's an added connection that if you never get to experience, you don't know how to explain it to somebody until you, you just experience it yourself.

So that's just really cool.

Dwayne Jones: I couldn't agree more. Yeah, there's, you know, a lot of what happens on the private land parcels like this is by designing on purpose, which, you know, makes there be more of an emotional attachment. And I, I could end up going on a big tangent here, but, um, yeah, it, there's definitely a huge and emo emotional attachment to it and it just makes it to me that much sweeter and that much more special.

So we're looking forward to getting, to spend some time out there on it for really the first time ever this year.

Mitchell Shirk: And, and there's nothing wrong with that [01:03:00] emotional attachment either, cuz there's a lot of positive that comes back from it. But you talk about going on tangent, I could easily do it because there's an ugly side to that too, like the Sure.

The, it's so easy to get so emotionally attached to a specific deer and Yep. That gets ugly. I've, I've seen, I've seen cabins break up in, in, in our area. I've seen, um, you know, just, just friendships and because of a, of a, of a stinking deer of all things a four-legged critter that lives on average two to three years and that's all it lives.

It's, it's replaceable. It's a population that keeps turning, but it's just one deer can, can change everything.

Dwayne Jones: You sure can. Yep. I've unfortunately seen it many times too. And just try to keep ourself grounded. Like I say, luck. Luckily we, uh, Surrounded with some really, really great dudes and you know, all of us try to be pretty levelheaded about it.

And at the end of the day, you know, it's a deer. They can go where they, wherever they want. And that's exactly what they do in November. So there's definitely no

Mitchell Shirk: guarantees. Exactly. Uh, grant Woods is, is one of the people I admire the most because he's somebody that talks about hunting [01:04:00] individual deer and appreciating individual deer.

He says at all the time you manage for populations, and it's, there's always gonna be another one to fill that void and there's no reason. And I just, I love that it's always stuck with me since I, you know, I started following along.

Dwayne Jones: Absolutely. Me too, man. A

Mitchell Shirk: hundred percent. Good deal. Well, hey, good luck and all your shed hunting.

Uh, good luck with everything going on between, uh, between the new house and, uh, and family. I'm really looking forward to the stuff you're putting out man. Same to you,

Dwayne Jones: brother. Keep in touch for sure. Likewise. Take care. Yes, sir.