Property Design Field Day Was a Success!

The July 9th Property Design Field Day was a huge success! Approximately 90 attendees made it out to the spectacular piece of property; known as Otter Creek Preserve; where hosts – Mike and Carol O’Reilly, and the staff of Timber Creek Land Company graciously opened the facility, and property, to our group. The weather certainly cooperated, as we were blessed with a perfect day for outdoor enjoyment. It got a little warm, in the sun, but with plenty of coolers loaded with ice-cold bottled water (donated by Fastenal) and soda, kept readily on hand, everyone was able to take in the seminars, and field tours, comfortably refreshed.

The day began with a welcome, and introductions, by Branch President – Chase Burns, and was followed by an informative talk by Nate Herman of Herman Brothers Lake & Land Management, who described the development process of Otter Creek Preserve, and the intensive fisheries management techniques that he has helped to implement on the properties’ many ponds and lakes. After fielding some great questions, posed by attendees, Nate introduced his good friend, and fellow fisheries management professional – Greg Grimes. Greg (who is President of Aquatic Environmental Services, Inc., based out of North Central Georgia) fielded some technical questions regarding fish nutrition and feeding programs, and explained how recording data from your catches, such as weight and length, can help you calculate the average size of mature fish, of each species, in your pond, or lake. Greg, and Nate, described health indices for given species of fish, and educated attendees about other techniques for assessing the condition of your fish. The similarities between this type of aquatic management approach, and the Quality Deer Management philosophy, were amazing, and were very well received, by the QDMA members of the group!

A morning tour included a stop at one of the many fish feeding stations, with a feeder demonstration that created a feeding frenzy, and the catch and release of a well-fed hybrid striped bass. Nate gave additional details about the nutritional supplementation program being implemented, on the site. The next station was led by Dr. Grant Woods – noted wildlife biologist, whitetail expert, and host of GrowingDeer.TV, as the caravan stopped along a timbered ridge. At the end of a short trek downhill, to the banks of Otter Creek, Dr. Woods introduced attendees to a suitable, (if not perfect) site for a “Hidey Hole Plot”, that the property owners plan to develop, for fall whitetail attraction. After describing the ideal attributes of a “Hidey Hole”, Dr. Woods emphasized that the most important aspect to successful use of a Hidey Hole, or any hunting plot, is the ability to get into, and out of, position, without being detected.

Later, Ryan Pudik – owner of Midwest Land and Habitat Services talked about land clearing, invasive species removal, and food plot site prep, that can be completed with various pieces of equipment. Ryan demonstrated the use of a “Timber Ax”; which is a skid loader attachment that turns standing trees (upwards of 20’ tall and 8” in DBH) into mulch piles! Ryan answered questions about the costs of having various heavy equipment services performed on one’s property, and follow-up herbicide treatments needed, after clearing. Ryan’s expertise has been developed in working with Timber Creek Land Company, and Otter Creek Preserve is a terrific illustration of his skills, as he performed a great deal of the habitat development and earth work projects on the site, over the last few years.

Lunch was provided by the WCI Branch, back at the building site, and was followed by a PowerPoint presentation, on “Growing Mature Bucks”, given by Dr. Woods. With everyone’s attention captivated, Grant ended his presentation with a heart-touching story, and a plea for everyone to consider the personal commitment of becoming an organ donor, and discussing your wishes with your loved ones.

Before going back out for an afternoon field tour, a special presentation was made to recent high school graduate – Sean Speed, of Galva, IL, who is the first ever recipient of the newly established WCI Branch Academic Scholarship. (Look for more details on this award, in a coming post.)

The afternoon tour brought several more stations and points of interest to the day, including a talk on the many benefits that tower blinds can provide, including; scent containment, comfort and concealment for fidgety youth hunters, and providing a vantage point in open areas, such as CRP fields, or other whitetail hotspots, where no trees are suitable for other types of stands. Special thanks go to Redneck Blinds for providing an exhibition of their high quality blinds that allowed folks to climb up, and try out the features of today’s modern tower blind. At another station, Dr. Woods gave talks on switch grass, and the ideal composition of Native Warm Season Grasses (NWSG), for whitetails. Using NWSG stands as a way of increasing security cover on your property, “insulating” sanctuaries from human activity, and screening public roads, access trails, and food plots, was, also, discussed. A final stop on the tour provided a look at a remote soybean plot, and another talk by Dr. Woods, about hunting techniques, scent control, techniques for improving trail camera monitoring success, and patterning mature deer.

At the end of the day, attendees were invited to participate in a Q&A session with the expert guest speakers, and a very successful raffle was conducted to generate proceeds for future events. Thanks go out to Muddy Outdoors for their generous donations, and to Tractor Supply Company of Galesburg, IL, as well as, Don Wagner of Wagner Wildlife for their support! And, a huge “Thank You!” goes out to LandGuys.Net; our event sponsors, for helping to make this day possible! To our event hosts – Timber Creek Land Company and the O’Reilly’s, we are very grateful for your hospitality! Hope everyone enjoyed this event! We look forward to seeing you all, at upcoming Banquet, on August 27th!

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Tim Klein - Dr. Grant Woods was very informative, he gave me a whole new
perspective on how I should manage my hunting ground.We are truly blessed to have someone that will share their knowledge of whitetails and their habits.
Thanks Dr.Woods and to WCI QDMA