Trapping Now, Turkeys Later

By GrowingDeer,

Let’s talk turkey! No, I’m not talking about Thanksgiving leftovers. Now is an important time of the year to begin thinking about turkeys. Even though deer season is still in full swing at The Proving Grounds, we are spending fewer mornings climbing into Summits and more time on the trap line. Why? Because we love chasing turkeys in the spring!


Another great start to future turkey hunting!

Each year the Missouri Department of Conservation takes a turkey survey. Hunters and wildlife managers record the number of turkeys and poults seen in the field. The survey helps provide an estimate of how many poults hatched the previous spring and Missouri’s turkey population. This fall, the Missouri Department of Conservation shared that poult numbers were very low across the state. However, based on our observations, The Proving Grounds has great poult numbers.

Why are there a higher number of poults at The Proving Grounds compared to most of the state? We trap predators, hard!

Each trapping season, we remove 50+ predators. That means fewer predators sniffing around looking for turkey eggs next spring. Trapping season began a few days ago and we are not wasting time. The Duke Traps are on the ground. We have already removed several raccoons and opossums – both are notorious turkey nest predators.  We will start targeting coyotes soon.

If you enjoy long beards in the spring and wish for turkey and deer numbers to increase at your Proving Grounds, consider trapping. You will enjoy the results. We have!

Stay tuned for more trapping tips and techniques throughout the winter.

From the trap line,


Prepare For A Second Surge

By GrowingDeer,

Keep those seat belts fastened! The post-rut in many portions of the whitetail’s range is just around the corner. Oftentimes this phase of the rut is just as exciting as the first. The post-rut is the period of time after the primary lock down phase where bucks are back on their feet seeking the last remaining receptive does. With fewer does receptive during this time, bucks generally travel more. The keyword here is “travel!”

A mature buck staying close to thick cover

Southpaw is in pursuit. Notice his proximity to thick cover!

Over many years here at The Proving Grounds we have documented the average conception date to be November 14th -16th. This means most of the does are bred during this period, but not all does will come into estrous at this point. Some will come into estrous after this time frame. The number of does will be far less than the peak rut, as a result, there will be increased competition for them. The smaller percentage of receptive does requires bucks to travel further and longer. Traveling this much often results in more daylight movement.

To capitalize on does still being receptive and bucks on their feet, position yourself along a travel corridor between bedding areas. After nearly a month of being pushed and pestered, does often seek thick cover for refuge. Bucks will be working edges with the wind in their favor to find them. This is when travel corridors become great places to intercept mature bucks.

Don’t give up on the rut yet! There is still great action to experience in the deer woods. Stay persistent and hunt smart!

Chasing whitetails together,

Matt Dye

How Mature Bucks Use The Wind

By GrowingDeer,

It’s November and that means the rut is right around the corner! Some hunters have already experienced great hunting during the pre-rut. If you haven’t punched your tag yet because of the heat or bucks not chasing, get ready. This time of year anything can happen.

Grant Woods with hit list buck Tall 8

Considering the wind is key to killing a mature buck.

Over the past week, I have watched two mature bucks be killed with a Prime bow. As I reflect on both hunts, I realize how different they were, even over a period of one week. One hunt was a single mature buck working through a small hidey hole food plot. The other was a buck trailing a soon to be receptive doe. The two hunts were different in many ways but there was a similar feature. Both mature bucks were moving with the wind in their favor.

During the first hunt, the mature buck was cutting across the wind. Upwind of the buck was a small thicket. (Receptive does often seek security in thick cover.) This buck was obviously using the wind to scent check the nearby thicket for a receptive doe and to warn him of danger up ahead.

The second hunt was one we all fantasize about! One doe, young bucks running all around, and the mature buck chasing them off with the occasional grunt and snort wheeze. As this all unfolded, I watched the doe and the mature buck use the wind. The mature buck and the young bucks were always downwind of the doe, waiting for the moment to move in. Even the doe cut across the wind aware of what was ahead; knowing any moment a buck was going to be chasing her forward.

These hunts are a reminder of how deer use the wind, especially mature bucks as they seek receptive does during the rut. If you want to be successful over the next few weeks, consider where the deer will be traveling and where the wind will be carrying scent.

The GrowingDeer Team hopes you have a blessed rut. Be safe and enjoy your time in the woods.

Enjoying Creation,


5 Reasons You Should Film Your Hunt

By GrowingDeer,

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, what is a video worth? For many hardcore hunters, the videos of their hunts are priceless yet many hunters still don’t film their hunts. There are a wide variety of reasons people don’t want to film their hunt. Some are afraid of the amount of work filming a hunt can be. Others don’t want to invest in the proper equipment. Some are afraid of learning how to use camera gear. If this sounds like you, now is the time to step outside your box and start filming.  I recently interviewed Dr. Grant Woods from GrowingDeer about why every deer hunter should film their hunt. Below are five reasons Dr. Woods believes all hunters should pick up a camera and start filming.


Aaron's buck harvested while self-filming

Whether you film the first buck you ever killed or film your child’s first successful hunt, there is something special about being able to watch the footage and relive the experience all over again. “We recently filmed my dad killing a buck on his 86th birthday. It was a special hunt because he turned 86 and he had just finished a long bout of chemotherapy. The first time he had hunted in a long time was his birthday and it was very special for my entire family. The fact that we will be able to go back and watch it repeatedly makes it more memorable. We were hunting in a bale blind and several turkeys showed up. Then a young buck came in and dad made a great shot on the buck with a crossbow. It was a great experience,” Woods explained. Over time, we often forget the details of special hunts like this. When you film a hunt, you can relive it repeatedly so you won’t forget any of the details.


self filming a deer hunt

When you spend a lot of time behind the camera filming deer, sooner or later you are going to see and learn things about deer that you didn’t know before. For instance, Missouri is having a horrible drought this year. Woods sometimes wonders what types of food the deer like to eat when it is hot and dry. By filming deer feeding, Woods is able to determine what the deer like best. “We recently filmed deer feeding in one of our food plots and it was a food plot with a mix in it so there were a variety of things the deer could be eating,” Woods said. “But when we zoomed in, we noticed they were really going after the radishes. In fact, they are almost all gone. Anytime you can learn something like that, it might help you choose where you are going to hunt next time you go out.”


Many hunters bring a cameraman into the woods with them when they are hunting. This can be a disadvantage because there is twice the movement and twice the human odor, but Woods believes the benefits outweigh the negatives. “When you have a friend with you filming, you can have fun chatting and discussing the hunt which helps pass the time,” Woods mentioned. “It also gives you an extra set of eyes and ears. We all use our smart phones when we are hunting which is a huge distraction. When I have a cameraman with me, we take turns watching for deer while the other person checks emails and looks at their phone.”


placement of an arrow shot while deer hunting

Probably one of the biggest benefits of filming a hunt is you can review shot placement after taking a shot. “The human eye can trick us,” Woods said. “Depending on the angle of the shot or what an arrow does in the air, the actual shot placement can differ greatly from where we think we hit a deer. Being able to go back and watch the shot after the fact allows us to determine if we want to go look for a deer right away or let it be for a little while or overnight. We have had many deer jump the string this year and being able to go back and see that our shot was made properly but the deer jumped is nice to have the ability to review so I am not so hard on myself thinking I made a huge mistake. All in all, being able to see where our shot placement was is a huge help when it is time to recover a deer.”


Woods believes another great benefit to filming a hunt is proof that one got away and that you passed on a deer. Before people started filming hunts, if they passed on a young buck, all of their friends would say, ‘Yeah right.’ Now when a hunter passes on a buck, he can show his friends and talk about it and everyone will believe him. Not long ago, the same hunter probably would have shot the buck but having proof that he passed it up is as good as shooting it. Being able to film your encounters and show friends the buck that got away and the buck they passed on is huge. It is a great benefit of filming a hunt.

If after reading this you are convinced you should be filming your hunt, head over to Fourth Arrow Camera Arms. Check out their camera arms and their blog on getting started filming your hunt without breaking the bank.

About the Author: Tracy Breen is a full time outdoor writer, marketing consultant and motivational speaker. He works with a variety of companies including Fourth Arrow Camera Arms. Learn more about him at

Let the Chasing Begin!

By GrowingDeer,

Sweet November is here! For many deer hunters this means vacation time and long sits in a Summit stand. During the early portion of November bucks tend to be on their feet and searching for receptive does. Even though bucks are traveling, proper stand placement is key! Many stands hung at The Proving Grounds are ONLY hunted during this time of the year.

Southpaw is a 5.5 year old buck

Southpaw is locked down on a doe. The chase phase is here!

When the pre-rut activity is hot, bucks put many miles on their feet. As a hunter it’s important to place yourself along heavily travelled corridors. It is common to hunt stands where does have been frequenting, like food plots or acorn flats. This can result in success, but this pattern can change quickly. Does will alter their patterns as a result of constant pestering from bucks. Since those patterns are subject to change, we focus on pinch points along travel corridors.

One of our favorite stands during this time of the year sits mid slope on a mountain we call 50 Acre. A ravine cuts up the slope from the creek bottom to a bench in the slope. The ravine and bench pinch nearly all the deer movement into a small 20 yard wide swath. Any deer traveling this half of the mountain is likely to walk past the stand within bow range. With bucks on their feet and nudging does these are the type of setups you will find us hunting. In different habitat types, similar areas may include converging creeks, fence rows, edges of bedding cover, or creek crossings.

Now is the time to get in the woods. Find travel corridors that concentrate deer and wait them out! You may just find a buck with his nose down and tail up heading your direction. Hunt hard and stay safe.

Enjoy Creation,

Matt Dye

Tough Hunting Conditions

By GrowingDeer,

It is hot out there! Across much of the whitetail’s range temperatures are warmer than average. This makes for less than ideal hunting conditions. Typically The Proving Grounds has already received a frost. To date, we’ve had one morning dip into the thirties. Needless to say, the hunting has been tough!

A buck in a food plot at dark

This buck is making regular appearances to this plot just after dusk!

Deer are not fans of moving when temperatures are unseasonably warm. They have already shed their summer coat; when conditions are warm deer movement tends to be slow during daylight. Here are a few techniques we use to fill the freezer when it is warm:

Hunt the Greens! We plant the Eagle Seed Broadside blend each fall. This is a four-way blend: soybeans, wheat, brassicas, and turnips. When planted appropriately, this food plot turns into a lush, thick stand of greens. The secret to greens is their attractiveness, as well as a food source with minimal carbohydrates. This means less energy or heat is built up. In return deer feed for longer periods and more often. When this occurs, deer tend to visit plots more often making the chances of tagging one even greater!

Hang Close to the Bedroom. By hanging stands close to bedding cover deer will travel a shorter distance before reaching your stand. The first and last half hour of daylight will be the best time to catch deer on their feet. Sliding in closer to the bedroom increases your chance of success. Entry and exit to these stand placements is critical! Don’t take short cuts, be thorough and success will follow.

The pre-rut is here, who knows what can happen! Get outdoors and embrace the warm weather by implementing these techniques!

Enjoy Creation,


Got Nighttime Deer Movement?

By GrowingDeer,

During this portion of the season many folks experience limited daylight deer movement. It can be frustrating to see hit listers on camera only during the cover of darkness. One of the most frequently asked questions is, “How do I hunt these deer?”

There isn’t a clear cut answer that will result in harvesting a nocturnal buck. Below are the techniques we use when hunting nocturnal bucks.

Headturner is a nocturnal buck

We are closing in on this 4.5 year old buck, Headturner. We may need to wait until the rut to hunt his preferred travel route.

One of the first things we do is cut the distance. We have designated sanctuaries at The Proving Grounds. Much of the bedding occurs within these areas throughout a season. When a mature buck has a nocturnal pattern we start to back track his movements. By using terrain features and known deer trails the preferred bedding areas can be located. Once we’ve pinpointed travel routes to and from the bedding area, we hang a Summit. By cutting the distance close to the bedding area the odds drastically increase.

Next, we sit and wait for the right weather. Cold fronts generally get deer up and moving earlier than usual. This is the time to slip into this stand and hunt, hopefully catching the nocturnal buck on his feet during daylight hours.

Another option, simply wait. If a buck is traveling through an area that is unapproachable then wait! Knowing when to hunt is often just as important as knowing when not to hunt. As the rut nears bucks will begin to travel more. Research out of Pennsylvania has shown bucks travel nearly three times as much during November as they do in October. With that being said, that same nocturnal buck will become more visible during daylight hours. To put the odds in your favor, it’s best to locate a heavily used pinch point in the area. Now you are in the best location to observe the increase in deer activity. Waiting until conditions are favorable is often the quickest way to success.

Remember, pressuring deer only makes them more nocturnal.

If trail cameras are lighting up after the sun has set, there is still hope! Depending on the buck’s core area and travel routes these hunting strategies can keep you in the game. Don’t give up on a nocturnal buck, there is a time and place when that deer will become harvestable.

Chasing Whitetails,


The Power Of Doe Patterns

By GrowingDeer,

Hold on to your seats, the rut is on the way! Within the next few weeks across much of the whitetails' range pre-rut activity will increase. This spike in deer activity can make for excellent hunting. To capitalize on bucks spending more time on their feet during daylight hours, you need to find the does!


At this stage of the game, most hunters have bucks on their minds. But, if you plan on filling tags during the pre-rut phase, it’s important to know where the does are. During this stage bucks are just beginning to search and pester does. As a result, does have not yet begun to alter feeding or bedding patterns. This means they are still on a routine. It’s important to study patterns that show up on trail cameras and adjust stands to accommodate them. If done correctly stands will be ready when bucks are most active.

Don’t think you are the only one picking up on these patterns though. Scrapes are a line of communication among deer. By using scrapes deer can determine which individuals are most active in certain areas. Bucks know where does are frequently visiting as well. They too will be concentrating efforts around doe patterns. This will eventually change once does start seeking denser cover to hide from bucks. However, during the pre-rut phase, does are an important part of putting the puzzle pieces together. Being prepared in advance to hunt locations frequented by does may result in sightings or even punched buck tags.

Chasing Whitetails,

Matt Dye