Good to be Back Home

By GrowingDeer,

The kids in snow
Always good to be back home!! It snowed 3″ +/- at The Proving Grounds last night and today. The kids had fun playing outside! It's easy to forget about wildlife when playing with the family. That was till I heard some very excited voices downstairs. A large coyote entered the edge of our yard – and left before I could get out the door with my favorite rifle. Most folks know I prefer to see deer than coyotes. But my level of excitement doesn't compare to Tracy's when major predators are near her chickens. When the ground is frozen coyotes have a very hard time catching mice. They frequently seek other prey species. One good thing about Tracy's chickens is that they may serve as a buffer prey species and save an old buck that hasn't fully recovered from the rigors of the rut. However, Tracy strongly encouraged me to be a bit faster next time.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

SHOT Show, Las Vegas

By GrowingDeer,

SHOT Show JanuaryI’m at the SHOT show in Las Vegas, Nevada again today, seeing old friends and new products. I’m extremely impressed with Winchester’s new ammunition and improved design.

For all the commotion on the show floor, I’d rather be testing these bullets in the surrounding mountains.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

Less Fur, More Feathers!

By GrowingDeer,

I really enjoy turkeys. I enjoy seeing, hearing, and hunting turkeys. I don’t care much for raccoons. So it goes without saying that I'd rather hear one turkey gobble than see four raccoons, but that’s not what happened today.

Raccoons on displayTrap

Observing raccoons is fairly rare, at least during daylight, as they are primarily nocturnal critters. However, Bill and I saw four raccoons today — all yearling males. The Proving Grounds have been covered with snow until recently, but as the temperatures warmed the past few days, the raccoons have been actively roaming around looking for a meal. They attempted to steal some dog food last night that was in traps set for raccoons and opossums. These ended up being their last meal as these males won't have any chance of consuming turkey eggs, poults, or adult turkeys any more. Their pelts will be removed, tanned, and proudly displayed or given as gifts. I look forward to possibly hearing a few more gobblers during the spring of 2011 — due to a few more turkeys surviving during 2010.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

Big Buck Hunting: 6° Below in Knox County…

By GrowingDeer,

Bill Winke (Midwest Whitetail) and I hunted the past three days together on 1,500 contiguous acres of private land in Knox County, IL. This property had only been hunted by the owner and his friends during the past several years. It had not been hunted at all during the last month. The owner has several trail camera images taken of mature bucks during 2009, including one brute with an estimated BC score north of 200″.

To say the least, Bill and I were excited to hunt this property. Our excitement was not chilled by the 6° temperature when Bill and I climbed in our stands with our cameramen on opposite ends of North Creek. However, I admit I was glad to see the lights of the truck coming to pick us up at dark — when it was -6°!

Grant in stand with bow4 Year Old

Both Bill and I saw several deer, but no mature bucks in bow range. The same trend occurred throughout our hunt. I did see two great 3 year old bucks in shooting range the second night, but our mission was a 4 year old or older buck. The only two, four year old bucks I saw were about 20-30 yards out of range — especially for the cold and windy conditions.

Such hunts are great learning experiences! Bill and I rehashed this hunt and discussed future strategies as we traveled together to the Archery Trade Show in Columbus, OH earlier today. I look forward to checking out all the new gear for 2010. Check out the bucks we passed on in the Knox County episode, GDTV 7.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

An All Too Common Source of Stress…

By GrowingDeer,

My friend and fellow whitetail hunting strategist Michael Engelmeyer shared the following images with me earlier today.

Coyote chasing deerDeer running from coyote

Unfortunately, my Reconyx units capture this same scenario too often at The Proving Grounds and my clients' properties. Coyotes can't afford to waste much energy this time of year. When they are trailing, they are after a meal!

Yes, coyotes do kill adult bucks — especially during the post rut when many mature bucks are in poor physical condition and resources are usually too limited for them to fully recover until spring. Even if the buck in the photo sequence above wasn't killed by the coyote, he likely had to expend a lot of calories to avoid being killed. That additional stress could lead to other conditions/scenarios resulting in an ill-fated future for the buck. There are a lot of ramifications to coyotes besides spooking deer.

Check out GDTV 4 on GrowingDeer.tv and see how I handle stress-inducing coyote.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

Today, I Worked for More Turkeys!

By GrowingDeer,

Eaten Turkey EggsI REALLY like to turkey hunt. I like to take my family members and friends turkey hunting. I like to simply listen to turkeys call. I like to eat turkeys. Most predators like to eat turkeys. I like turkeys — predators like turkeys. That's a conflict.

So today while it was very cold, my friend Bill Stimson and I set 30+ traps for raccoons/opossums at The Proving Grounds. Raccoons/opossums don't move much when it's cold. It was 14° this morning and a low of 17°, 13°, and 8° predicted for the next three mornings.

However, it will warm up and the first night it does, the raccoons/opossums will move. The traps are set and the catch should be good.

It's a good feeling to work toward a few more turkey eggs being able to hatch, more poults surviving, and a few more gobblers to be heard. Besides, trapping is like Christmas in a way — it's always exciting to wake and check what's under the tree! I'm excited about tomorrow morning!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

Hunting Boom North Plot, Crabapple, and Thermals

By GrowingDeer,

Hunted the Boom North plot this afternoon. We were in the stand by 2:30. Michael Engelmeyer – my friend that takes the cool images seen in many of the hunting gear ads — was running the video camera. Michael’s a great hunter and always adds good insight to my stand setups/hunting strategies.

We both felt the setup and strategy was good, and waited patiently for a mature buck to appear. We heard two different flocks of turkeys, and lots of other commotion toward the Crabapple plot which is 200 yards to the northeast and at 300 feet lower elevation in relation to our location. We were skunked this afternoon, but will be doing some recon and hanging a stand in Crabapple for later this week.

Crabapple is in a bottom – next to a creek. Plots in bottoms can be tough to hunt during warmer weather as deer tend to bed high and move down to plots to feed. The rising thermals (hot air rises) usually alerts deer to the presence of a predator (hunter) located in a bottom. However, air rarely rises when the temps are very cold as they are now (no sign of global warming at The Proving Grounds lately).

The thermal currents should be sinking toward the creek (cold air sinks). This is more prevalent at the Crabapple plot because it is at the base of a large hill to the west. Hence the field is shaded by the sun early in the afternoon – allowing the air to cool even quicker. This will provide us the ability to enter a stand at Crabapple with the thermals in our favor. Details about the Crabapple strategy and hunt coming soon!

Stay warm!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

Skunked at the Hidden Valley Two Plot

By GrowingDeer,

Randall Martin and I hunted at The Proving Grounds this afternoon. We hunted a plot with standing corn that has been about 60% consumed. I checked for sign Sunday afternoon briefly and the plot literally smelled like deer so I was very excited to hunt that location today. We stalked to the stand about 2 PM this afternoon, got up quietly, and had a favorable wind during the hunt. We didn’t see a deer! We didn’t see a turkey, and only saw one squirrel. It will be interesting to learn if the Reconyx cameras at The Proving Grounds captured any deer in other plots while we were getting skunked at the Hidden Valley Two plot. I’ll let you know when I check cameras next time.

Growing Deer together,

Grant