This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: We often think of a successful hunt as a single moment where everything comes together at just the right time. And while that’s true, behind the scenes, it’s usually a long journey.
GRANT: This deer season, Heath and Lindsey Martin definitely had a long journey. Their journey took them through four different states in search of that great hunting moment.
GRANT: Heath and Lindsey Martin began their journey with a hunting trip to Kansas. Lindsey won the coin toss, and she’s up first.
LINDSEY: So, Heath and I actually have our archery tags here in Kansas. So, we’re bow hunting for this weekend. But it is – it is also muzzleloader season here in Kansas so, we had to wear our hunter orange, as well.
GRANT: Turns out the deer activity is pretty slow, but the turkeys certainly kept them entertained.
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GRANT: What a rare and close up moment for Heath and Lindsey. It looks like, for the turkeys, this is a great way to avoid predators.
GRANT: After about 30 minutes, turkeys got down and continued doing what turkeys do.
GRANT: A couple weeks later, Heath and Lindsey are back in Kansas.
LINDSEY: Hi guys. It’s early October, and we’re in Kansas. Um, they had a really good cold front come through last night, and so, we’re sitting in the tree stand this morning, hoping to see some action. There is a nice, mature ten point that’s been cruising around through here so, might even get a shot at him. We’ll see.
GRANT: Well, it wasn’t long before Lindsey’s wish comes true. When the big ten she was hoping for comes cruising through.
HEATH: (Whispering) Going up.
HEATH: (Whispering) Oh. There’s another big one even behind. Golly. There’s a toad. Big eight point.
GRANT: There’s a big eight following the big ten. It’s rare enough to see one shooter buck, but to see two out of the same hunt, well, that’s a big story.
GRANT: Heath had hung their stands on a well worn trail. Unfortunately, the bucks weren’t following the script and were chasing acorns just off the trail, and slightly out of Lindsey’s effective bow range.
GRANT: Iowa is the place where most whitetail hunters dream of drawing a tag. Its rich soils produce some of the best soybeans, corn, and giant whitetails of anywhere throughout the whitetail’s range. Heath and Lindsey were super excited to finally draw a tag and hunt Iowa.
HEATH: (Whispering) Well, today is November the 9th, and I’ve been waiting four long years for this opportunity, but we are sitting in Iowa. So, this is the first evening in the stand. We’re on a real long finger that’s cut corn field that’s had some brassicas spread in it. We’ve got the decoy out today. Been waiting for this for a long time so, Iowa, I hope you don’t disappoint. Here we are.
GRANT: Deer decoys can be a great hunting tool, but sometimes, they tend to make all the deer in the area a little bit on edge. And it’s obvious, these does and fawns didn’t know exactly what to make of the newcomer in the neighborhood.
GRANT: The spike was very curious and hesitant about the decoy. Notice how he stays in the cover. You can tell by the direction the snow is blowing, he tries to get downwind to check it out.
GRANT: The spike thought he’d strut a little closer for a better look.
GRANT: He either smells something, or lost his nerve. I think I caught a glimpse of blue flame coming out the rear end, as he couldn’t get out of there quick enough.
GRANT: This young buck sees the decoy in the distance and gets excited. And with one short grunt from Heath, he comes running in.
GRANT: Look at the unique dark hairline on this buck’s back. It’s rare, but some deer actually have a mane on their neck like a lion or a horse.
GRANT: Heath and Lindsey are now back in Kansas. It’s late November, and they’ve placed their stands in an open hardwood bottom that serves as a funnel between the feeding and bedding areas.
GRANT: With the doe tag to fill, and no mature bucks in sight, Heath decides to put some venison in the freezer.
HEATH: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
HEATH: (Whispering) And it’s the day after Thanksgiving, and we finally got us a big old doe. Got some extra backstrap for the freezer. It’s been a long time coming. I mean, like come to full draw. I don’t know how long it was, but it felt like I held it forever, and she finally turned in there and I stopped her and got a good (inaudible) shot. I think we heard her fall. I don’t think she went too far so, whew.
HEATH: (Whispering) Now the only way to make this day any better is if a big buck will come on through here in this next 45 minutes of daylight. So, we’re gonna hang tight and see what we see.
HEATH: (Whispering) Okay, that’s a shooter buck, baby.
HEATH: (Whispering) Are you on him?
HEATH: (Whispering) Oh no.
HEATH: (Whispering) Gosh dang it. That deer made the doe turn around.
HEATH: (Quietly) I’m very nervous. I don’t know if it’s gonna be a fatal shot or not. We’re gonna get down and make sure there’s blood, or see what kind of blood there is, and then, get a game plan together. But that was a big deer, and oh. Dear Lord, please let us find that deer. That’s what you hunt Kansas for, right there. I mean it was 60 degrees, when we got in the stand today, but yet, this giant deer still chased a doe right under the tree stand.
HEATH: (Quietly) I don’t know if the deer ran a long ways.
HEATH: (Quietly) I just don’t know. I don’t know what to think. I’m super nervous.
HEATH: (Quietly) I’ve never hit a deer like that. That solid in the shoulder. Didn’t look like it got a whole lot of penetration, but maybe it at least got it into the lungs.
HEATH: (Quietly) Maybe he didn’t go too far.
HEATH: (Quietly) I know he ran out of sight, and it didn’t look like he was slowing down.
LINDSEY: (Whispering) We’ll find him.
HEATH: Uh, we got our big doe. Now, hopefully, we can find the big buck. Man, what a evening. That was a giant eight point, I think. Been hunting up here four years, that’s the first buck I’ve ever shot so, I pray to the Lord that He looks down on us and that he can help, and help us find that deer, ‘cause I’m pretty nervous.
GRANT: It’s an age old question. Pursue a hit deer and possibly push them out of range of finding them, or let it stay the night and risk coyotes recovering it before the hunter does? Heath and Lindsey opt to let the deer lay all night, for a better chance of recovery tomorrow.
GRANT: With work to do, Heath skinned out his big doe by torchlight, but the giant eight was constantly on his mind.
GRANT: It was a long night for Heath. Most of us have been there, but dawn finally arrived.
HEATH: Well, it’s the morning after. I shot that big buck yesterday evening and I hit the shoulder. Uh, we got about eight inches of penetration. We replayed it on the camera several times. And I don’t know so, we’re going in this morning. We’re gonna track him and see if we can find him. It’s been a long restless night, so let’s go see if we can put an end to it.
HEATH: Holy cow!
HEATH: Oh! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. 150 yards from the tree. Big buck down, right there baby. That’s been a long time coming. Let’s go get our hands on it.
HEATH: He’s definitely large.
HEATH: Whew! I tell you what, guys. This has been a long time coming, right here. I’ve been hunting Kansas for four years now, and I’ve had some great hunts, but just hadn’t quite had it come together. So this is long overdue. I finally get to wrap my tag around a big Kansas bruiser. Oh. Thank you.
HEATH: Looky there. He’s got a double throat patch. I don’t even know what to say. Man, I smacked that shoulder, and I’ve been really worried all night. I wasn’t sure I got enough penetration. I mean he was dead within a minute, but you know you just never know. And then, we’ve been up here an hour looking, ‘cause we thought he turned and went up the draw, and he circled back and come right down in the bottom here. Man, his whole neck swelled up. Look at the body on that deer.
HEATH: I got to say thanks to Lindsey, my wife. She runs the camera for me. We switch out. She’s been working and hunting as hard as I have, and putting in the time. And I sure appreciate it, baby.
GRANT: Congratulations, Heath and Lindsey, on fine teamwork and for taking the time to share your season with us.
GRANT: December usually means Adam and I will change our strategies, here at The Proving Grounds, and start monitoring food sources. We place almost all our Reconyx cameras over food plots, trying to pick up a pattern of a mature buck feeding during the late season.
GRANT: Based on the forecast and wind direction, we had plans to hunt a food plot we call Gobbler Knob.
GRANT: The magic to the Gobbler Knob food plot is that there’s a bedding area on one side and a larger feeding area on the other side. Gobbler Knob kind of serves as a staging area, as deer come over the ridge and prepare to drop off into the larger feeding food plot. As we were making our way to the Gobbler Knob plot, we drove through one of the feeding food plots in the bottom when Adam said, “Stop the truck.”
GRANT: Oh, I don’t like this at all, Adam.
ADAM: Looks like Junior.
GRANT: Adam had noticed a large area in the standing soybeans had been knocked down, and when we both got out of the truck, we instantly knew why.
GRANT: I don’t know what it is about this field.
GRANT: Four and a half.
GRANT: Oh. He’s got a bad brain abscess, or got shot in the skull. One or the other. I can’t really tell, right now. He may of got a fight. He may of got killed by – he got a hole right in the top of his head.
GRANT: Right in the very top of his head. He has a – that’s not a vulture picking through there.
GRANT: He’s not been dead long, ‘cause there’s still – the coyotes have just cleaned him up. There’s blood all over his spine. He could even be three and a half.
GRANT: Not near the stain on his front teeth as there is here. You can see the obvious stain difference. I mean look at that, how stained these are, versus up here.
ADAM: That’s the deer we were hunting tonight.
GRANT: That’s the deer we’re going to hunt right now. I mean we – we stayed out of that stand until the right wind and conditions for this buck. And we got him, but not the way we wanted.
GRANT: I believe if there would’ve been – he would’ve died instantly, if he got shot there, and they would’ve cut the rack off so, I imagine it was another buck.
GRANT: Got a lucky shot.
GRANT: I’ve got to tell you, the fire just went out of my hunt. Let’s go see if we can tag a doe…and we’ll take care of this later.
GRANT: He’s everything I thought he was, and more.
GRANT: Junior was such a cool mature buck. His odd shaped non-typical rack always made him very easy to identify in our Reconyx pictures.
GRANT: Hey, honey. Tell your mom I got Pitchfork Junior in my hands.
GRANT: Yeah. It’s not good, because I think coyotes killed him. We found him dead. The deer we were going to hunt, we found dead. All right, honey. Bye bye.
GRANT: While studying Junior’s remains, we noticed a hole near one of his antler bases. The hole wasn’t round like you’d expect from a bullet, and there was obviously some sign of a struggle. Any deer shot right there would’ve dropped on the spot. I suspect that hole was caused by an antler tine. Junior had apparently been in a fight, and somebody’s antler tine punctured his skull, maybe due to Junior’s non-typical rack. Antler tines typically have dirt, bark, and other substances on them, and would cause a nasty infection, if they penetrated the skull plate. In any case, it seemed to be what caused the end to Junior.
GRANT: Adam and I were both extremely sad, when we found the skeletal remains of Junior. But whitetails are the perfect example of a renewable resource, and with good habitat management – passing younger bucks, and allowing them to mature, and working to balance that predator prey relationship – there’ll be another buck move into the area Junior called home.
GRANT: We probably won’t hunt that area much more this year, unless we get a surprise on our camera, but there’s other bucks to chase, and I’m looking forward to hunting again this week. I hope you have a chance to go hunting this week, but even if you don’t, take a few moments to get outside and find a quiet place, and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.