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GRANT: It’s Thanksgiving week and I’ve had a lot to be thankful for this year. I had some great turkey hunts this spring, some great buck hunts this fall, does in the freezer, my family is healthy. What more could I ask for? But most importantly, I have a great relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope you and your family know the real reason to be thankful this year and have a great Thanksgiving.
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GRANT: Saturday, November 12th was the opening day of gun season in Missouri. My family, my buddies and people I don't know all across Missouri, fellow hunters, were geared up and ready to go. I remember as a child the excitement of seeing cafeterias and campgrounds and gas stations full of guys wearing orange. I still get that same excitement and I could barely sleep the Friday night before gun season open.
GRANT: But were you envisioning this or were you over the (Inaudible)?
GRANT: Preparations for my 2011 gun season started back in the heat of the summer when I was studying maps and thinking, “Where can I strategically locate myself and my family to see deer during the rut?”
GRANT: If we clear those hardwoods ri-right down all the way…
GRANT: One area we come up with is the bedding area on Boomerang Road. Boomerang is a road that goes up a ridge, kind of shaped like a boomerang and we prepared a bedding area that’s difficult to hunt but a lot of deer sign around the edges of it.
GRANT: Hunter and Nathan, my interns this past summer, and I worked hard to prepare that area to put up a Redneck blind offering a 300 yard plus shot in several directions, covering a lot of territory right where the deer want to be during the rut.
GRANT: I was rewarded Saturday morning for the placement of that blind, not from seeing a deer right off the bat, but for the beautiful sunrise that I was able to experience while I’m taking in the start of the gun season.
GRANT: About 7 o’clock I caught movement in a food plot 450 yards away. Adam and I threw up the Nikons and it was clearly a young buck. Great to see some movement and we knew the game was on.
GRANT: (Whispering) Ten after seven and we’ve seen our first buck trolling at about 450 yards. I love the view. That’s one thing about mountainous country. If you get your stands right, you can see a long ways. I’ll bet he comes up through here. He’s trolling. He just looked like he was out smelling, looking. It’s the chase phase of the rut. I bet we see him at a lot less distance.
GRANT: About 45 minutes later, I caught movement on the opposing hillside about 275 yards away.
GRANT: (Whispering) Good buck. Really good buck. Look at the chest on that thing. He’s stained way down his legs.
ADAM: (Whispering) If you can shoot it, if you can shoot him right there, I’m on him…
GRANT: Over the next few minutes we figured out there was a young buck, the mature buck and a doe.
GRANT: (Whispering) He went back…
GRANT: The doe clearly was not quite receptive yet. She was close cause she had the buck’s attention but she kept burying herself in little thickets and brush piles, trying to keep the bucks at bay while the mature buck was trying to keep the younger buck at his 30/40 yard distance. We had a great view of what hunters dream about – the rut in action.
GRANT: (Whispering) Oh I see. I’m on him, I’m on him.
ADAM: (Whispering) Do you know what deer he is?
GRANT: (Whispering) He’s got huge tines, I know that.
ADAM: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: For, literally the next 30 minutes, Adam and I were watching these deer go in and out of brush piles and had plenty of time to make a decision about whether to harvest that buck or not.
GRANT: He’s got a chest on him. Oh, I’m – I got the chest open right there. No, he moved. He’s got a huge chest on him. All right he’s stepping up a little bit here. Getting ready to step out in the open – potentially.
ADAM: (Whispering) I’m on it if he (Inaudible).
GRANT: (Whispering) I got a – I got the doe and him in frame.
ADAM: (Whispering) Yep. See him.
GRANT: Oftentimes a mature buck would stop behind a limb or a weed covering the kill zone. We could see his rack or part of his body, but he did not offer a clean shot.
GRANT: (Whispering) He just jumped over that cedar tree.
ADAM: (Whispering) I’m on him.
GRANT: At about the 40 minute mark, the buck stepped out in an opening with the doe in a brush pile in front of him. G2 shining, big chest for everybody to see, it was time to get the crosshairs where they needed to be.
GRANT: (Whispering) I see him. I’m on him. I’m broadside.
ADAM: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: (Whispering) I better not take it. He’s gonna move. There he goes. Okay. If he turns around, we’re gonna take him. Be ready. He’s turning around.
ADAM: (Whispering) Yeah. I know. Ready when you are. Let me know right before you just take it.
GRANT: (Whispering) Safety’s off.
ADAM: (Whispering) Okay.
GRANT: (Whispering) Here we go. Oh. See what happens. Here we go.
ADAM: (Whispering) Okay.
ADAM: (Whispering) He’s down.
GRANT: Can you believe that? That was intense, long moments and the plan worked perfectly. We put the blind up this summer knowing we’d watch this bedding area, save up for just a couple of days during the gun season. And it was perfect. Man! I love it! Whew! I’m excited still! That’s one of those deer where you gotta put salt on your bullet because it takes a half a day to get there it’s so far away and you don’t want it to spoil before you get there.
GRANT: 267 yards. Man that deer was a long ways.
GRANT: Adam saw the deer fall after just a few steps. We had that high five and congratulations time and then I got to enjoy the walk there.
GRANT: It was a long walk over there. 260 plus yards as the bullet flew. Probably 500 yards up and down the slope and I enjoyed every step of the way.
GRANT: Welcome to the hike.
GRANT: Opening morning of gun season here in Missouri and the chase phase of the rut is definitely on. For the last two weeks in a row, I’ve been practicing with my rifle – making sure everything was sighted in, studying the ballistic tables and it paid off huge today. There’s never enough to be said about being prepared. Even at 260 plus yards, Adam and I could both see the size of this deer’s chest, the basal circumference, and knew that was a mature buck.
GRANT: You know, just as rewarding as this hunt is – thinking back over the years of management that’s made it possible. Tracy and I purchased this property. This ridge was full of cedars. You can see all the stumps and limbs. It was full of cedars on this ridge. We cut it, burnt it a couple of times, allowed all this native vegetation to come up. We created a great foraging and feeding area also. That doe was perfectly comfortable in here. So was the buck. Neither deer knew we were in the world. It was great to watch it for 40 minutes.
GRANT: Shooting from one ridge to another is a long shot no matter how you slice it. But I’d been shooting my gun all summer long at the range and coyote hunting. I knew the ballistics from Winchester’s great ballistic software, which is free at their website, and using that Nikon BDC scope made those long shots easy because you actually have an aiming point. You're not just holding the crosshairs up and taking a guess.
GRANT: You know, getting your family involved in the hunt – either pre or post – watching Rae, my young daughter who thinks she wants to be a vet, poking at the deer’s eyes, playing with the skin, asking questions. What better way than hunting to teach your family about life, death and everything that goes along with the journey in between?
GRANT: So here we are at Thanksgiving week. I’ve clearly got a lot to be thankful for. I hope you and your family enjoy a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.
GRANT: He’s down. He’s rolling down the hill. That’s a smile. (Laughter) Oh, thank you, Lord Jesus. That was awesome.