This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: I think I speak for a lot of hunters when I say chasing elk in the Rocky Mountains is a dream we all share. And last week, Adam, some friends, and I chased that dream as we went to the Rockies seeking bull elk.
GRANT: If you’ve driven to Denver from the east, you know the excitement of catching the first glimpses of the Rockies as you roll up the slope. To me, the Rockies offer some of the most stunning views in all of Creation.
GRANT: Even with the great views, we were ready to get out of the truck and we met Marv, who is the owner and host of the elk camp where we hunted.
GRANT: After a brief introduction and learning more about the area, I was eager to grab my Prime Bow and Morrell Target and head out and make sure the bow was sighted in after 16 hours of riding in the truck.
GRANT: Man. Left, left, left. It was dead on yesterday.
GRANT: Whether it’s a couple-hour or a 16-hour trip, it’s always wise to check your bow just to make sure nothing’s changed when you're traveling.
DANIEL: Did you hold right?
GRANT: I’m not giving my secrets away. About four inches. Don’t be cheating on me now. Don’t be taking my hints away from me.
GRANT: After we made sure our bows were sighted in, Brandon, Adam and Marv headed up the mountain to look for elk and do a little scouting. It didn’t take long for them to see the first elk.
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GRANT: During the first morning of our hunt, it was time to get those Rocky Mountain legs under us and take a hike.
GRANT: We climbed up the mountain listening for bugles and to enjoy the view. Shortly after daylight, we heard the first bugle.
MARV: That’s what we like. (Inaudible)
GRANT: We talked it over with Marv, our guide, and made a plan to go after that bull.
GRANT: As we were slipping through a mature stand of aspens, Marv caught some movement in the tall weeds.
GRANT: (Whispering) I see a calf.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) Can’t see it now.
GRANT: (Whispering) I can see its head.
GRANT: These weeds were so tall, we were having difficulty knowing how many elk were in front of us.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) I think there’s two of them.
GRANT: After several minutes of looking for ears and noses, I finally thought I might get a shot.
GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: Unfortunately, there were simply too many weeds in the way to make a clear shot and the elk finally detected our presence.
GRANT: (Whispering) We were side hill in the mountain – wisely – thermals coming down. We got in right below what appeared to be a cow, a yearling and a calf – about 40 yards. But I never had a clean shot. I got a cow tag. And if I’d had a clean shot, we’d have been in business the first morning.
GRANT: Shortly after this encounter, we heard a couple more bugles. We headed that way, but it appeared that bull went to bed before we could close the distance.
GRANT: That afternoon, we found ourselves set up over a water hole with a stunning view.
GRANT: (Whispering) First afternoon of our elk hunt; it is sunny and bright and hot. Perfect water hole hunting conditions. We’ve got a great set up. Elk tend to bed on the far side of this super steep ridge; drop over where we can see real easy; come to a water hole about 20 yards right below us. It’s like tree stand hunting. Marv, our lead guide, has built a great stand into the side of the hill – all brushed in. I mean, we’re just carved out of the brush. So.
GRANT: We’re accustomed to thermals being a problem here at The Proving Grounds, but we got a real taste of Rocky Mountain size thermals as we sat watching this water hole.
GRANT: The first elk appeared to our left and seemed to be on a course that would bring him within bow range.
GRANT: Even though this elk was across the valley, the thermals switched so much that the elk caught our scent and scurried up the mountain.
GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: As the week progressed, we heard some bugles, saw several elk, and really enjoyed the views. This ranch had an incredible amount of elk food. The owner doesn’t graze any cattle on the entire ranch. Therefore, all the food is saved for wildlife. With this amount of food, the elk reproductive rates were extremely high and I probably saw more elk during this hunt than I ever have.
GRANT: The daytime temperatures were unseasonably warm. That’s probably a huge factor in why we were having a difficult time closing the distance on the elk we heard or saw either before they got to the bedding area in the morning or catch them coming out of the bedding area with enough light to make an approach.
GRANT: The conditions we experienced is a huge factor between hunting at home – like here at The Proving Grounds – and a suitcase, or travel, hunt. We can pick the days we want to hunt here at The Proving Grounds, but when you book a hunt, you're gonna hunt every day no matter what the weather conditions are – and try to develop a strategy that best fits those conditions.
GRANT: I haven’t hunted with outfitters much and have limited experience with elk operations. I had a list of criteria that included location, time of year, budget, a quality and honest outfitter, and the number of critters in the area.
GRANT: I enlisted the help of Hosted Hunts, so they could use their experience to find an outfitter that met all these criteria. They held our hand through the whole process from the beginning research until we returned home from the hunt. I was so pleased with how easy they made the process that we’re already planning a 2017 elk hunt. If you’d like to hunt with the GrowingDeer Team, simply go to Hosted Hunts.com and click on the promo button and enter GrowingDeer. We look forward to hunting elk with you next year.
GRANT: We’re constantly experimenting with better ways to improve whitetail and turkey habitat. And oftentimes, this means trying new techniques or crops – even those that are outside the norm for whitetail habitat management.
GRANT: You may recall that a few seasons ago, we developed a new food plot on the very top of a mountain. We call it Raleigh’s Field. And that area is extremely gravely. Soil – if you call it soil – was almost 100% gravel. There was no organic matter to hold moisture or nutrients in that area.
GRANT: Due to the extreme drought conditions and the gravely nature of that mountain top, our crop we planted this spring was gone by July. There was nothing but gravel showing. So, we took a chance and tried an experimental crop of Sunn Hemp. Sunn Hemp is reported to put a lot of nitrogen in the soil – it’s a legume – and build a lot of organic matter. So, we were excited to monitor the results.
GRANT: So, we planted this knowing we were gonna terminate it. You notice the deer haven’t eaten on it; it’s not really a forage crop. To give us a layer of organic matter to trap in moisture and keep it from evaporating or leaching too deep.
GRANT: I’m six feet tall, so you can see some of these plants are seven, eight feet tall. No way our sprayer boom is going through here. So, we’re using our roller crimper to terminate the crop. I actually like using a roller crimper because we don’t have to use any herbicide. Now, I’m not opposed to herbicide, but I want to use the least amount necessary. And the best time to terminate any crop is when it’s flowering because the plant is weakest when it’s putting all its energy into making flowers.
GRANT: We don’t want to wait ‘til it makes seed and have volunteers coming up at the wrong time or too thick. So, the roller crimper simply comes through, rolls this over – that’s the roller part. But the crimpers break the stem, like cutting off the circulatory system in our body, and kills the plant rapidly.
GRANT: So, we put this biomass – or the crop – on the ground, crimp it and then we take our no till drill – the Genesis – and drill right through here following the same pattern that we used to crimp the field. Put the seeds in, it makes a little slit so the plants can come right up through the terminated crop.
GRANT: The reason we have blades on our roller – or make it a crimper – is so it will terminate the circulatory system. You can see here where it’s really broke the plant almost completely in two in a couple of places up and down through here. Here’s one where it’s here and you can see when I try to pick it up, it’s been crimped and totally breaking that circulatory system is what terminates the crop.
GRANT: A no till drill or any planter can easily cut right through here – almost like combing your hair – and put the seed in the right position. While the rest of the duff keeps weeds from growing up in between the planted rows. Versus if we’d have used a mower or bush hog to mow this down, it would have been scattered in all directions – making it much more difficult for the planter to cut cross-wise of the stems.
GRANT: Another factor with mowing versus using a roller crimper is some plants when you mow them – like grass species – will come back. Think of your yard. We want to terminate this crop and that’s where the crimper really comes into play.
GRANT: This cover crop yielded lots and lots of organic matter and now it’s in perfect shape to take the Genesis drill and drill in the Eagle Seed Broadside blend, giving us some mulch layer on top to conserve whatever moisture there is. And as that cover crop breaks down, add critical nutrients to the new Broadside that will be growing.
GRANT: We’ll keep you posted how this plot progresses and share these techniques, as hopefully something you can use to improve your Proving Grounds.
GRANT: The thermometer on my truck said 86 degrees when Matt just dropped us off, so it’s hot getting to a stand no matter what you do. One of the most refreshing and best things I’ve found is to use these scent wipes when you get in the stand. Clean your hands, face real good before you put your cami paint on. And it also feels great to take that moist wipe and cool down. I may put one in my hat if it doesn’t cool off pretty soon.
GRANT: The white oak acorns are not falling yet here at The Proving Grounds and deer are really feeding heavily in our food plots. Where the beans have been browsed pretty heavily, they're really working on the Broadside we planted a few weeks ago.
GRANT: (Whispering) There we go. Come on out. Who’s behind ya? First buck of the 2016 season is in the plot. Boy, thing’s got sharp tines, doesn’t it?
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: (Whispering) Gosh, almighty. They go right by the Redneck. Look at that. Right upwind of the Redneck. Perfect.
GRANT: In the plots where the beans did well, the deer seem to be pouring in there every night taking advantage of that food source.
GRANT: Matt and I had a doe in bow range the second night. But her fawn still had pretty obvious spots and I opted to give her a pass.
GRANT: In just three sets, we’ve seen more than a dozen young bucks. That’s extremely encouraging – not only for this season, but seasons to come.
GRANT: Passing these young bucks probably means more opportunities at mature bucks in the future. Not many does will get a pass this year at The Proving Grounds because the population has finally crept higher than the amount of quality food, especially this year given the drought conditions.
GRANT: We look forward to sharing our whitetail strategies and hunts throughout the season. As always, we film one week and air the next, so it’s current and should apply to your Proving Grounds.
GRANT: With Adam, Daniel, Matt and myself hunting and all the Pro Staffers, there’s a lot of footage coming through the GrowingDeer editing room this time of year. Be sure and check out the Clips tab at GrowingDeer.com to catch those clips we put up in between episodes.
GRANT: Whether you get a chance to hunt out of state or you're hunting close to home this year, it’s important every day to slow down and enjoy Creation. But more important to take time daily and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.