DUBLIN, VA — Jason Groseclose spends most of his time tending to his family’s cattle herd, spread across farms in Pulaski, Bland and Smyth Counties in southwest Virginia. But occasionally he travels beyond this corner of the Old Dominion to compete in predator calling competitions. He’s so accomplished at this skill that he has become a pro staff member for MFK Game Calls.
The first weekend of April, Groseclose travelled to Waco, Texas to represent MFK at the World Predator & Wild Hog Expo and compete in the Pro division of the World Predator Call Championship. He won the Coyote Howling Championship.
Last year in the same event, Groseclose won the World Howling Championship (as he had in 2010).
He has also won division championships and an all-around championship at the East Coast Predator Showdown.
Groseclose is so adept at using MFK calls to vocalize the sounds of coyotes that numerous videos of him showcasing his talent have been uploaded to Youtube. His successes and the realistic sound of his calling have also motivated others to enter the field of competitive calling.
At home, Groseclose uses his skills to keep coyotes from impacting his family’s 1,000-head cattle herd.
“I saw my first coyote in 1992,” Groseclose said. “I’ve been calling ever since.”
Coyotes are a particular menace, but Groseclose also hunts fox, bobcat and raccoon.
The Groseclose herd — which is managed by Jason and his father Jerry, a retired schoolteacher — includes about 450 cow-calf pairs and 100 or so stockers. The herd is 75 percent Angus, with some Simmental and Gelbvieh crosses. AI is used on occasion (mainly on heifers), but most breeding is done natural service. There are 25 bulls, some of them registered. Calving is spring and fall.
The Grosecloses background their calves to yearling age, then send load lots out west.
The farms in Bland and Smyth County are mostly grassland and rolling terrain, and thus used for grazing the bulk of their cow-calf herd.
The remainder of the cow-calf herd lives on the farm in Pulaski County, where Groseclose takes advantage of good lying farmland to grow about 150 acres of alfalfa, 30 acres of corn for silage, and mixed grass hay. The feeding operation also takes place here, with the feed typically composed of three parts silage to one part corn gluten.
When alfalfa prices were high, Groseclose did make and market about four to five thousand small square bales of alfalfa per year (to horse owners) but in recent years he’s kept his alfalfa production for his own herd.
Groseclose also makes oat hay. “Our cattle really like it,” he said. He used to grow wheat for hay, but found that his herd prefers oat hay.
“It doesn’t have quite the yield as wheat but the quality’s a whole lot better.”
With high cattle prices, Groseclose is thinking about thinning his herd size, removing some of the older cows, the ones “that have been pushing it.”
The farm in Pulaski has a cleverly designed storage barn. It uses the steel structure of a never-built strip mall, set onto concrete pillars which extend four feet above ground, with metal siding and roofing and an open fourth wall.
“It’s really come in handy,” Groseclose said.
At first, the space seemed large. But now it’s fully occupied, with equipment, hay and other supplies. “I’d like to have another one,” Groseclose said, only partly joking.
In the last two years — since they’ve added a concrete floor to part of the structure — the barn has also been a place to house poultry litter.
With the concrete pad, Groseclose can now take part in the cost-share program that helps ship poultry litter from the Shenandoah Valley — which, due to the region’s long history of poultry production, tends to have soils high in potassium — to other parts of the state, with soils with lower potassium levels. His most recent delivery was of turkey litter, which says is a little finer and tends to do a little better than chicken litter.
Groseclose spreads litter both in the winter for spring production and on pastures in July and August, to help with fall grass production.
When he’s out working the fields, he keeps an eye out for predators — raccoons which might get into silage and the bigger varmints that might go after his calves.
Knowing the places predators haunt is just one tool Groseclose uses to combat predators. Being a champion professional caller is another.
Each year in southwest Virginia, another 30 or 40 coyotes discover — to their detriment — just how realistic a caller Groseclose really is.