A Deer Hunter’s Best Homecoming: Harvesting A Buck (Episode 417 Transcript)

This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.

GRANT: It’s the time of year we celebrate Thanksgiving. And I think it’s really important that America really goes back to the original meaning of Thanksgiving. Being thankful that the Creator provides for us. As a child, we would almost always go out rabbit or quail hunting on Thanksgiving Day and that weekend, and celebrate the gifts of a harvest, and a good year getting ready for winter. This year, why don’t you and your family have a Woods’ family style Thanksgiving? Get outside and enjoy Creation. But most importantly, take some time and be thankful for all the gifts and provisions of our Creator.

GRANT: You may remember a few weeks ago, Lindsey Martin tagged a doe and a nice buck during a morning hunt in Kansas.

GRANT: Her husband, Heath, still has a Kansas tag and he’s eager to get back in action.

GRANT: A strong cold front was predicted for October 27th through 29th and Heath headed back to Kansas trying to cash in on the good conditions.

GRANT: The first afternoon in his Redneck ghillie blind – Heath was overlooking a small food plot and had plenty of action.

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GRANT: At one point, right after camera light, there were six bucks in the field; Heath sat there with his Nikon binoculars, watching the show.

GRANT: The next afternoon, Heath went to a hay bale blind overlooking a plot where Lindsey tagged a buck last season.

GRANT: Heath was hoping to see a buck they call “The Other Guy.”

HEATH: (Whispering) We really haven’t got a picture of a buck that I want to kill here, recently. There’s two big deer in here; one of ‘em is a giant – I’ve been hunting for four years. It’s the only place I’ve gotten pictures of him this year. And it’s been a week or so since I’ve got a picture of him – maybe two weeks, actually.

HEATH: (Whispering) But, he’s in here and with this cold weather coming through, you know, maybe he’ll show up. I think we live – we’re just right on the edge of his home range where he lives and – so I think he lives across where I can't hunt him. So, basically, for four years, I’ve always just got a few pictures of him. I’ve seen him; I’ve had a couple of encounters, uh, with him – or Lindsey has, actually. But, we’re all set up for the afternoon. So, we’re gonna hang tight here and see if we can see one of these big bucks.

GRANT: Heath was barely settled into the blind when he looked through the timber and saw antlers.

GRANT: It was the buck he was hoping to see. It was “The Other Guy.”

GRANT: The buck was making a scrape in the timber. He was moving extremely early and headed Heath’s way.

GRANT: Rather than walking through the plot, the buck started making scrapes and working his way around the edge of the plot.

GRANT: Heath figured the hunt was over. Surely the buck would wind him because he was super close and on the downwind side of his blind.

GRANT: After what seemed like an eternity, the buck appeared on the other side of the blind and started working back through the plot.

GRANT: As mature bucks often do, “The Other Guy” only stopped for a couple of seconds and then took off, not giving Heath enough time for a shot.

GRANT: Worrying about the camera, stopping the buck in frame, and getting all ready, probably cost Heath an extra second or two. And that was too much. Heath thinks he needed another good second to get the shot off.

GRANT: Heath’s encounter with “The Other Guy” is a great testimony to the GrowingDeer Team’s scent control practices. We’ve been using D/Code and ScentCrusher to totally clean our gear and our clothes. And I think it’s a great testimony that Heath had a mature buck just a few feet downwind and the buck never knew Heath was in the area.

GRANT: Proud of Heath for having the discipline to pass the shot, rather than try to make a moving shot and potentially wound the deer.

GRANT: A couple of days later, Heath is back in Arkansas and he and his wife, Lindsey, have time to squeeze in a quick morning hunt on Halloween.

GRANT: A few days earlier, Heath had captured “Spindle Top Junior” using his iSpotter while he was scouting. This was on October 24th and the first time they’d seen this buck during daylight.

GRANT: This buck was cruising the downwind side of an oak savannah, some native grass, and some Eagle Seed beans. He was on a downwind side because he was scent checking for receptive does.

GRANT: Knowing how bucks use wind direction to scent check cover areas for receptive does can be a key to punching your tag with a mature buck.

GRANT: Based on this information and the recent observation of “Spindle Top”, Heath and Lindsey headed to a soft-side blind in the same area.

HEATH: (Whispering) We’re after a couple bucks. We’ve got some daylight pictures of ‘em. We’ve actually seen ‘em from the house a couple times in the last week. We don’t typically bow hunt here just a tremendous amount because of the way these mountains are shaped here. Just, the wind swirls really bad. But, with these blinds, we’re able to get away with a little more scent – it helps us control our scent better. So, anyway, this bean field’s only about 100 yards away, so if they come on this half of the bean field, they’ll be in range or even 60 yards. So.

HEATH: (Whispering) We’re just gonna sit here and see if we can catch one of these bucks cruising looking for does or checkin’ scrapes on the edge of this field or something. So. That’s kind of the game plan this morning. We’re gonna sit here and see what happens.

GRANT: Not long after daylight, a doe and a fawn came feeding through the beans.

GRANT: Just a few minutes later, Heath looks down the road on the downwind side of the native grass and there’s their top hit list buck, “Spindle Top Junior.”

HEATH: (Whispering) He’s gonna check them does out (Inaudible).

GRANT: The buck is headed into the timber. So, Heath grabs his Messenger grunt call and grunts at the buck.

GRANT: “Spindle Top Junior” actually pushes a doe out of the timber and back into the native grass.

GRANT: You can tell the buck responds to the Messenger because he left the doe and starts heading toward the sound of the grunt.

GRANT: As you can tell, he’s on a mission to find the source of the grunt.

GRANT: This is all it takes to bring him across the field and in front of Heath’s blind.

HEATH: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Right.

HEATH: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Two of these little (Inaudible). You on him?

LINDSEY: (Whispering) Yup.

HEATH: (Whispering) (Inaudible) He heard something, didn’t he? (Inaudible)

HEATH: (Whispering) Did I get him? Oh, he’s going down, baby. He’s going down. Yes. Yes. Yes, yes, yes. That is a seven or eight-year-old giant. And we’ve been huntin’ – we’ve been hunting that deer for years.

HEATH: (Whispering) It’s Halloween. We had does in the beans and this sucker comes up here in daylight. And I, I made a little noise when I drew on him about 35 and he walked away. And I don't know. I guessed him at 45 and I shot and, but the shot looked good. It had to have been good because he ran 100 yards and he piled up in the grass. Yes.

HEATH: (Whispering) This is western Arkansas. That is a pig of a deer for this part of the country. On our own property; doing our own management. This is the hardest farm I’ve ever bow hunted in my life. And you are not gonna believe this. That’s the first mature deer I’ve ever shot on this farm in nearly 20 years with a bow. That’s how hard it is to hunt this farm with a bow. I met Lindsey when we were 17.

LINDSEY: (Quietly) Awww.

HEATH: (Quietly) And I’m 38 and I’ve been hunting this farm for 21 years. That must have been a money shot ‘cause he didn’t go nowhere. I had – he was 35 when he was walking across; he turned and walked away and I thought, “Man, it’s over.”

HEATH: (Quietly) But we still had these does standing out here in these beans. And when he turned, I was thinking he was probably 45 to 50. So, I shot him. He was probably closer to 50. So, I shot him for 45 in the wheelhouse and he ducked just a little bit and it looked like it just plugged him right perfect.

HEATH: (Quietly) And that is the first mature buck I’ve ever shot on this farm with a bow. Now, I’ve killed several big bucks here with a rifle. But that’s the first big buck we’ve ever been able to shoot with a bow on this farm and that’s a huge deal.

HEATH: (Quietly) It has taken a ton of work to get these deer to use this farm in daylight. Uh.

HEATH: Look at the blood on that Blood Ring on that arrow. That is a heart shot right there if I ever seen one.

HEATH: Perfect. There’s the broadhead right there.

HEATH: This is a buck we call “Spindle Top Junior.” And the reason is we had a great, big 10 point that looked just like this, years ago. But, he was real thin and spindly, so we just called him “Spindle Top.” Well, he had a son; he looked identical. This deer ended up being bigger. He had more mass. We just called him “Spindle Top Junior.”

HEATH: So, we got sheds off of him when he was two.

FEMALE: (Phone rings) Hello?

HEATH: Tell him ole “Spindle Top Junior’s” laying dead right here beside me.

FEMALE: I’ll tell him. He’ll be excited.

HEATH: Yup. We got him.

HEATH: So, we went back to the house and got his sheds. This is a two year-old shed off of him. I think from 2012. Uh, obviously, the mice have got to it and the rats before we found it.

HEATH: But you can tell, he’s got a short G2, long G3 curled in in the front. You know it’s the same deer. And then he vanished for, like, five years – or ‘til last year.

HEATH: And this is a shed from last year. Last year’s brows are a little bit bigger and his beams are probably just a little bit longer. I don't know. They curl in quite a bit this year.

HEATH: But, anyway, it’s pretty cool history here – to be in this part of the mountains of Arkansas to be able to find an old deer to hunt; have history with him over the years like that.

HEATH: I don't know where he went for several years. And then he came back. But, once he came back and found this good habitat and the beans and all the food we’ve got. He stayed here the last couple of years and we finally got an arrow in him.

HEATH: Anyway, when he went in the timber, I grunted at him.

GRANT: That makes “Spindle Top Junior” seven and a half years old this year. That’s a very mature mountain buck.

HEATH: One bent blade and I hit it right through the point of that front shoulder. So, that broadhead went through a shoulder and just bent that one blade a little bit. So.

HEATH: I love this new head. It’s tough; it didn’t bend this chisel point at all; it’s that solid metal. We got the new, you know, stainless steel, thicker blades. And I mean, you can see that deer didn’t run 60 yards after I shot him right through the heart. So, I’m tickled with that.

GRANT: Congratulations, Heath, on a great hunt and for tagging a mature, Arkansas mountain buck.

GRANT: Opening morning of Missouri’s rifle season was November 11th and I was thrilled that my oldest daughter, Raleigh, returned from college to hunt.

GRANT: Last year during opening morning, Raleigh tagged one of our hit listers we called “Gumby” and a doe while hunting from the south end of Crab Apple Field.

GRANT: The Crab Apple plot is a natural crossing for bucks this time of year and the largest food source in this portion of The Proving Grounds.

GRANT: However, with a southeast wind, it wouldn’t have been productive for Daniel and Raleigh to hunt the southern end of the plot. So, they opted to hunt the northern end in a 15 foot tall Redneck we put there a couple of years ago.

GRANT: It was a beautiful, cold, frosty morning. A great day to be outside.

GRANT: Not long after sunrise, Raleigh spotted the first deer of the morning.

RALEIGH: (Whispering) So, beginning of gun season here in Missouri. I could not be more thrilled to be back. It’s a perfect morning – a little chilly, but not too bad. I probably have on too many layers. That’s good. I can always take them off later.

RALEIGH: (Whispering) The sunrise was beautiful. We’ve already seen like four or five deer. So, looks like it’s gonna shape up to a good morning.

GRANT: Raleigh and Daniel set up expecting to see deer come from the west. But, it wasn’t long ‘til Raleigh looked to the south and saw action.

GRANT: They spotted a nice buck to the south and all of the sudden, they were scurrying to get the camera and gun pointed that way.

RALEIGH: (Whispering) I gotta get over more.

GRANT: The buck was moving fairly rapidly across the field, just stopping every now and then to take a bite.

GRANT: Suddenly, this buck lifts his head; does a lip curl.

RALEIGH: (Whispering) Ready?

DANIEL: (Whispering) Yeah.

DANIEL: (Whispering) Nice shot. Good shot.

RALEIGH: (Whispering) Heeee.

DANIEL: (Whispering) He’s down; he’s down.

RALEIGH: (Whispering) Oh, yeah. He’s not going anywhere. Perfect.

DANIEL: (Whispering) Nice shot, Raleigh.

RALEIGH: (Whispering) Let’s go.

GRANT: Just like last year, after the shot and Raleigh knew the buck was down, she saw a mature doe in the plot and loaded another shell.

RALEIGH: (Whispering) (Inaudible)

DANIEL: (Whispering) Right there.

GRANT: It was a cold morning, so this doe and fawn were packing in the pods on the Eagle Seed soybeans. Pods are full of energy and a great food source during cold spells.

RALEIGH: (Whispering) On the front one? Well, she’s still right in the beans, too.

DANIEL: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Okay.

RALEIGH: (Whispering) Ready? Oh. Got her. I think I’ve shot four – no wait – five or six deer out of this field. Good day. Quick day.

DANIEL: (Whispering) Quick day.

RALEIGH: (Quietly) My hands didn’t get too cold. Got four layers of clothing on. Three pairs of pants; two pairs of socks. It’s not even that cold out here, but prepared.

RALEIGH: (Quietly) It’s opening weekend of gun season here in Missouri. I came back from college. Wooooooooo. Pig. Go hogs! Um, came out this morning, the sunrise was gorgeous. A little nippy but not too bad. Definitely had way too many clothes on, but I’m warm, so that’s great.

RALEIGH: (Quietly) I’ll have time for a nap; get some homework done.

RALEIGH: So, I found a lot of blood on the ground. This looks like where he dropped. The leaves are covered in it. Good, thick, got some bubbles in it. So that’s always a good sign. Now, we’re gonna follow it and see where it goes.

GRANT: The Winchester had once again done its job and the buck barely made it inside the timber.

RALEIGH: Literally, this guy ran maybe ten yards. Probably not even that much from the woods line. Lots of blood, thick blood, really bubbly. Came up here, saw him in a tree – kind of like Christmas – seeing your presents for the first time.

RALEIGH: Honestly, he’s a lot bigger than I thought he was, so that’s a plus. Um, just (Inaudible) on the ground since I have limited time, but this one will definitely do.

RALEIGH: Don't know his name, but, you know, I can name it after it’s dead, so, no problem.

DANIEL: Yeah, I think he was “No Name Eight.”

RALEIGH: “No Name Eight.”

DANIEL: (Inaudible)

RALEIGH: Alright. That works.

GRANT: Our first pictures of this buck were during September. And that’s the time of year when bucks often shift and use a different portion of their home range.

GRANT: Back to back years of tagging a buck and a doe in Crab Apple Field, you can almost bet that Raleigh will want to hunt Crab Apple next year if the conditions are right.

GRANT: If you have a good location, why limit hunting it for one wind direction? I often place multiple blinds or stands around the same area because I want to hunt a good location no matter what the wind direction is that day.

GRANT: Like Raleigh – I chose to be in the same blind I was last year opening day when I tagged our number one hit lister, “Handy.”

GRANT: I got brush in the way.

GRANT: I’m about to take the shot.

UNKNOWN: Okay. (Inaudible)

GRANT: Oh, I’m on him. I’m on it.

UNKNOWN: Yeah.

GRANT: Handy’s down. Oh, my goodness. Oh my goodness.

GRANT: I really like this blind because it’s in the middle of a large bedding area. It gives me a lot of options no matter what the wind direction is and I can cover a lot of land.

GRANT: This time of year does are often seeking quality cover to get away from pesky bucks and bucks are cruising cover trying to find receptive does.

GRANT: (Whispering) Early morning, November 11th and opening morning of firearm season in Missouri. We’re starting in the full-out chase phase and it won't be long until the lock down phase of the rut. So, I love overlooking these bedding areas or this area where we burned a lot and have native grass. ‘Cause bucks tend to try to get does in here. Does try to get in here and get away from being pestered by bucks. So, typically, as in years past, there will be a hub of activity a little later once deer stop feeding and move to cover.

TYLER: (Whispering) Yeah.

GRANT: (Whispering) Is that the doe or the fawn?

TYLER: (Whispering) The back one. I think, but I can't see the fawn. The one that’s looking up with its head up.

GRANT: (Whispering) Yeah. Yeah.

TYLER: (Whispering) Yeah, that’s the doe.

GRANT: (Whispering) Okay. I got grass right on the kill zone.

GRANT: Early in the morning, we spotted the first deer…

GRANT: (Whispering) Safety’s off.

GRANT: …going through the cover right in front of us.

GRANT: (Whispering) Her head’s down. There she is coming to us. Oh, she’s peeing right now. I’ve got her head.

TYLER: (Whispering) Yeah. There’s one to the left; there’s one on the right.

GRANT: (Whispering) There’s Raleigh.

TYLER: (Whispering) The one on the right.

GRANT: (Whispering) I could neck shoot her, but I don’t like doing that.

GRANT: This doe never presented a shot that I was comfortable with.

GRANT: (Whispering) I did not have a good shot.

TYLER: (Whispering) That looks like a doe.

GRANT: As the sun got over the horizon and started hitting the native grass, we saw two more does working through the cover.

TYLER: (Whispering) She’s walking up the hill.

GRANT: (Whispering) Yeah, we’re gonna let her go up just a little bit. The wind’s in our favor.

GRANT: Even though she was broadside, there was brush and grass covering the vitals, so I waited for a better opportunity.

GRANT: She turned and headed toward the Redneck.

GRANT: Frontal shots are very tough. Finally, she started quartering slightly away and I put the crosshairs right on the point of the shoulder.

GRANT: Shoulder shots with a firearm bring whitetails down quickly and this deer didn’t make it but a couple of yards.

GRANT: (Whispering) Opening morning of rifle season, I heard two shots from Raleigh and got a text she’s got a good buck down and a doe. Tyler and I have seen four deer. This may be one of the same four we saw earlier, but we have a goal of removing 40 does. So, there’s two more does down. Raleigh took one; I took one; she’s got a good buck down.

GRANT: (Whispering) We’re gonna stay right here; see if I can't get a buck or my second doe. Both of ‘em are trophies.

GRANT: Throughout the morning, we saw several deer across the valley.

GRANT: (Whispering) Two bucks; seven does.

TYLER: (Whispering) Never seen that buck before.

GRANT: (Whispering) I think he’s busted off on this side.

GRANT: I’m eager to meet our management goals. But I didn’t shoot these does – not because they were out of range, but because it’s a long drag from across the valley to the closest road. And I was confident I would see a doe that had a much shorter drag for Tyler and I.

GRANT: (Whispering) Oh, dang it.

GRANT: Suddenly, we saw another young buck bounding in front of our blind. He was chasing a doe.

GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Gonna take her somewhere. (Inaudible)

GRANT: The doe squatted, urinated and then scurried off in the brush.

GRANT: (Whispering) You still filming, Tyler?

TYLER: (Whispering) Yup, I’m still filming, but.

GRANT: (Whispering) …gonna take her somewhere.

GRANT: About that time, I looked over and saw another buck…

GRANT: (Whispering) That’s a doe.

GRANT: …chasing a doe across the valley.

GRANT: Over here.

TYLER: Yup, I can see him.

GRANT: A few minutes later, a doe popped out of that valley. I got on her,…

GRANT: Okay. We gotta take this doe.

GRANT: …waited for a clear shot.

TYLER: I’m on the doe. Stop her.

GRANT: (Quietly) I got weeds.

GRANT: This doe was likely receptive and I would have loved to have tagged her and left her laying there ‘cause it would have been a great attraction for bucks cruising the area.

GRANT: I, I got sticks in the way.

TYLER: Yeah. She’s above that grassy stuff.

GRANT: Yeah, yeah. Deflection makes you doubt the gun and doubt everything. One more step wouldn’t be too bad.

TYLER: She’s got her head up.

GRANT: Yeah.

TYLER: There you go.

GRANT: You on her?

TYLER: Yup.

GRANT: She stopped where there was a small hole in the brush right over the vitals and I took the shot.

GRANT: Did she run or drop?

TYLER: Dropped.

GRANT: That’s what I thought.

GRANT: Two shots; two does; more venison. I’m doe tagged out here in rifle season in Missouri but I’ve got a buck tag. And we saw a good one this morning but he didn’t hold up. I couldn’t tell if he was three or four. I’m not even sure I knew that buck. We think he’s down there in the thicket but we gotta get our doe quota and she gave me a shot – just a narrow window between some saplings. Bessie laid her right in there; she just fell like a bag of concrete; kicked a time or two, but no running. Easy drag to the truck. You don’t turn those shots down in the Ozark Mountains.

GRANT: It wasn’t long ‘til several other does and young bucks came to investigate the doe I’d tagged.

GRANT: I always told you a dead doe draws more deer. We’ve got a doe shot there, folks. Now watch that doe in front. One doe ran to the left.

GRANT: As I often shared, it’s much better to leave a doe you’ve tagged in front of your hunting area than to get down, drag it and make a big disturbance, then go back and hunt.

GRANT: I have found that harvested does are great attractants to other deer.

GRANT: When the deer management goal calls for reducing a deer population, I don’t hesitate to tag does during the early or even mid-part of the deer season. I have found that those does are great attractants during the hunt.

GRANT: Tyler and I continued to see several deer throughout the morning, including a young buck that had lots of potential.

GRANT: (Whispering) I don't think it’s four.

GRANT: A mature buck never showed, so we finally climbed down and retrieved our deer.

GRANT: This was obviously a close shot and a pretty easy drag – just about 60, 70 yards over here to the road. We’re gonna take her to the truck and go check out the second one.

GRANT: Somewhere right in here to my right.

GRANT: This was a broadside, double shoulder shot. Probably about 100, I think it was about, 130, 140 yards. And she just dropped like a rock. As a matter of fact, she disappeared so quick that I had to go, “Tyler, did I hit her?” Because I mean, she just instantly – about the time of the recoil of the gun was over, I couldn’t find her. She dropped straight down. I love double shoulder shots. You lose a little meat in the shoulder but there’s no trailing – they drop right there.

GRANT: And a great thing about this deer is we had several different bucks and does come smell her.

GRANT: People are like, “Well, I don’t want to shoot a deer and spook the bucks.” It’s just the opposite. That’s thinking like a human. Thinking like a deer – “I smell a deer. I want to come smell the deer. Why is that deer laying down?” So. We have several deer circling around smelling this deer.

GRANT: Okie dokie.

GRANT: This year The Proving Grounds is in a CWD management zone. CWD has not been found in the southern counties of Missouri. But it has been found across the state line in Arkansas.

GRANT: Because of the CWD cases in Arkansas, the Missouri Department of Conservation has mandatory CWD check for several counties in southern Missouri during the opening weekend of firearms season.

GRANT: We removed the heads of the deer Raleigh and I tagged and took ‘em to the local CWD station. The lymph nodes in the upper neck of a deer are used to test for CWD.

GRANT: These lymph nodes are easy to extract, put in a baggie, labeled appropriately, and sent to a lab for testing.

MALE: It was big.

GRANT: Awesome. Congratulations.

MALE: Thank you.

GRANT: Traveling up that creek down through there?

MALE: Yeah. That’s exactly.

GRANT: I encourage hunters throughout the whitetails’ range to take all the necessary steps to help everyone to limit the spread of CWD.

GRANT: We celebrate Thanksgiving once a year, but really, we should all be thankful every single day. We should be thankful to the Creator that gave us the opportunity to enjoy his Creation. And more importantly, spend some quiet time every day listening to His will for our lives.

GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.