This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: Hosted Hunts helped my friends and I pick a great outfitter. We saw a lot of elk with several close encounters. During the final afternoon of that hunt, I was able to punch my tag with a good bull.
GRANT: After chasing elk in New Mexico, the GrowingDeer Team returned to The Proving Grounds and we’ve already enjoyed some great hunts.
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GRANT: When we returned from New Mexico, we were greeted with a north wind. We rarely get a north wind during the early season, so Tyler and I went to a stand near a plot we call Boom Back and set up for an afternoon hunt. Boom Back is a long ridge that has several one and two-acre food plots planted with the Buffalo Blend. And with the north wind, we were able to kind of “thread the needle”, if you will; slide along the south side; and get into the stand without alerting deer on the northern side of the ridge.
GRANT: Anytime the temperatures are warmer than normal, deer often bed on north facing slopes. This allows them to stay a bit cooler and more comfortable throughout the day. Tyler and I got settled into the Summits and waited to see what would appear.
GRANT: (Whispering) September 27th in the afternoon and Tyler and I are out for a whitetail hunt here at The Proving Grounds. We’re on a plot we call Boom Back. Last year we had some Reconyx video of Handy, our biggest buck, eating on a persimmon tree right in front of me. Now, I tagged Handy later, so he won't be here and the persimmons aren’t quite dropping yet. But, we’re in a wicked drought. So, any food source is attracting deer. They’ve ate some of this food plot down pretty hard but there’s still some green out here. So, we’ve got some red oaks dropping right here next to the plot, a little bit of green, and maybe one or two of the early persimmons dropping. We’re on food; we’re up early; should be a good afternoon.
GRANT: A short while later, the first deer appeared.
GRANT: Then, we saw antlers.
GRANT: (Whispering) Can you recognize him?
GRANT: (Whispering) Is that?
GRANT: This was the first buck I encountered this season and I always enjoy seeing antlers.
GRANT: After Tyler and I watched this buck a bit, we both decided he was three years old.
GRANT: I enjoy seeing and tagging mature whitetail bucks. You’ve seen us tag a lot of mature bucks here at The Proving Grounds – many of which are larger than average for the Ozark Mountains.
GRANT: We’ve had these great opportunities because we’ve worked hard to improve the habitat and we’ve really worked hard to have good trigger finger management.
GRANT: Through years of research and observation, I’ve noticed that in timber habitat – you know, where most of the area is not row crops – bucks often express most of their antler potential by the time they're four years old.
GRANT: This is not true in areas where most of the land is used for crop production. In those areas whitetails have such great nutrition they often can continue growing and growing larger antlers until they're five, six, seven – even eight years of age.
GRANT: In this case, I’d rather pass this buck, get more trail camera pictures of him and let my family and friends have more encounters than tagging and take him out before he’s expressed more potential.
GRANT: As Tyler and I were enjoying watching this buck, we noticed one of the does had fed in range.
GRANT: Even though she was within range, she wasn’t presenting a good shot opportunity.
GRANT: Suddenly, another doe headed right for us and it looked like she was gonna give me a shot.
GRANT: My shot was a little high but she went down within just a few yards and I knew I had fresh venison for the family.
GRANT: (Whispering) We eat a lot of venison in our family, so that’s a great thing. And, we’re in a severe drought – we’re a little short on food, so we need to remove several does this year. Daniel took one earlier. That’s number two for the year. I’m locked and loaded. Might get another one.
GRANT: Tyler and I were enjoying that moment when another doe come running toward our stand.
GRANT: (Whispering) Are you on her?
TYLER: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: She was very alert and as she cautiously mealed around the bottom of our stand, Tyler finally gave me the green light.
GRANT: (Whispering) Second one down. You just heard a crash, didn’t ya?
GRANT: (Whispering) She came in right here. Would’ve been a great shot but she wasn’t giving me both lungs. It’s tough to get both lungs on a – this steep of angle. She worked over about 15 yards and got in some shadows – pretty dark but. We heard a crash, so, now we’re three toward our goal.
GRANT: Big ole nanny. There she be. I’ll grab the light; you grab a leg.
GRANT: It had been a great afternoon and at dark, Tyler and I climbed down and waited for Daniel and Wes to come help with the recovery.
GRANT: This is short dragging. Just pull her right out of there.
GRANT: We like short drags in the Ozarks.
GRANT: Watch the stubs. We’re short of food and you can tell. These deer are looking a little thin. That’s the one reason we’re gonna be removing several does this fall. We’re in a wicked drought right now. But, good shot placement on that one. Let’s go look at the other arrow and take up the trail on the second one.
GRANT: This is another great lesson here. You see how many ants are on this arrow already? Crawling up/down. Ants, of course, can be carnivorous and go to blood. So, if you're looking for blood on the ground and you see some ants moving, move close and you’ll probably find the blood.
GRANT: But this arrow is soaked with blood. And the Blood Ring has turned red and there’s blood all over the white fletching there and it’s a good color. So. Yeah. Where’s that brighter light?
GRANT: A little Deadmeat working there.
GRANT: Alright. Number two. We gotta be serious, boys. Too many ribs showing here. We gotta be serious about getting some does off here. We need a rain something fierce.
GRANT: Daniel wanted in on the action the following afternoon. So him and Thomas went to an area we call East Glade.
GRANT: East Glade is actually two hardwood ridges above an area where we’ve cut all the cedars and did a lot of prescribed fire.
GRANT: We showed you some work we were doing in this area earlier this year when Flatwood Natives was here treating all the hardwood saplings. We’ll follow up that treatment with prescribed fire this spring.
GRANT: A few weeks ago, some of our guys were out scouting and found a white oak tree that had a lot of acorns right on top of the southern ridge.
GRANT: Based on this MRI, most recent information, Daniel and Thomas climbed in some Summits overlooking that white oak.
DANIEL: (Quietly) We’re on a, the end of a long ridge that is just filled with white oaks and red oaks. We’ve got a large white oak with a lot of acorns in the tree and a lot on the ground right in front of us about 20 yards. We set up in this tree. It’s the only tree to hang on to hunt this white oak. And it’s on the north wind. We rarely get north winds early season but we got one today. So we were able to sneak in on the back side of this ridge, climb up the tree undetected and now we’re hunting over white oak.
DANIEL: (Quietly) Grant tagged two does last night so deer are on their feet and they're hungry. Hoping that white oaks will bring ‘em in range tonight.
DANIEL: (Quietly) Our management objective this year at The Proving Grounds is to harvest about 40 does. A lot of those we’re gonna try to knock out during the early season.
DANIEL: (Quietly) You know, we want as much forage in that late season during that stress period for bucks and pregnant does after the rut. So, by removing does now we’re helping our deer herd later on and make it through the winter healthy.
GRANT: Once settled in, they could hear acorns falling and felt confident it wouldn’t be long ‘til a deer showed. They didn’t expect the first deer to come from the direction she did.
GRANT: This doe was working up the mountain directly downwind of Daniel and Thomas.
GRANT: Suddenly, she turned and started working away from their set.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) No, she doesn’t.
GRANT: Eventually, she started heading back toward Daniel and Thomas.
GRANT: It looked like she was gonna walk directly downwind of their stand and come in close.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: In fact, she came within seven yards of their stand.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Down, she’s down, she’s scratching. Right there. She’s rolling; she’s probably rolling down the hill.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Oooh. You wanna talk about on the edge of your seat. That doe was downwind of us the entire time. Man. And she was a mature doe. It wasn’t like a yearling. No. That was a mature doe downwind of us and, gosh. I’m gonna range it. I can see the arrow. It is bloody.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Arrow’s at seven yards downwind. That’s why we go to so much trouble to think about scent control. You know. How we wash our clothes, we store our clothes and scent control. Entering, exiting, not alerting deer.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Wow. That deer came in downwind. It’s really hard. We can't pattern deer here in the Ozarks when there’s acorns everywhere. We just say, “We’re on a ridge with acorns. There’s gonna be deer.” But you never know where they're gonna come out.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Same place as that other doe was.
GRANT: It was like she was reading the same script.
DANIEL: (Whispering) You on her?
DANIEL: (Whispering) Shot it exactly where the first doe was. Seven yards downwind. I think we made the right choice, Thomas. Or not.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Two arrows. You can see ‘em. There’s two arrows there.
GRANT: Two does taken at seven yards within minutes of each other – both downwind.
DANIEL: I think she – it did go through that shoulder.
GRANT: The Deadmeat zipped through the first doe and left a great blood trail. Unfortunately, it was down a steep mountain.
GRANT: Daniel called Tyler and Wes and I gotta tell ya – Wes was a little happy that Tyler got a little payback for the two does he helped drag that I had shot previously.
UNKNOWN: (Inaudible) Ya ready?
GRANT: The guys got the does back to the Yamaha and brought ‘em into the skinning shed.
GRANT: Two more?
GRANT: 35 left to go.
DANIEL: Yeah. (Laughter) Still got a lot to go. But, definitely were in all those acorns.
DANIEL: They were head down just chomping.
GRANT: Yeah. We gotta be hunting acorns right now.
GRANT: Find ‘em and hang and hunt.
DANIEL: And they, they didn’t see anything at Crabapple. There was nothing Crabapple when we came through. I think they're all in acorns.
GRANT: Find acorns, hang and hunt. That’s our strategy for…
GRANT: …a little bit.
GRANT: (Inaudible) is a lymphatic system. If you eat the whole ham, you're eating that. And if this deer – I don't think it did – but if it had any infection, it’s gonna collect in a lymphatic system. Why would you want to feed that to your family?
GRANT: And I’m, again, I’m freeing up from the pelvic girdle. The pelvic girdle makes a little jog right here.
GRANT: Oh my gosh. That and a couple of scrambled eggs – you could climb Mt. Everest. Oooo, it’s good!
GRANT: And now, the rest of this is another big ole roast.
JAMES: I know I’m ready for this cooler weather as I get (Inaudible)…
GRANT: And the thing I really like is, I even tuck mine in the shirt like this when I’m hunting so there’s no chance of my bow hitting it when I draw. I love this small end of the barrel. So, I, without looking, you know, I may see a deer out there or something. Even without looking, I can – I've got this just right. And I never have to look.
GRANT: I, I love that.
GRANT: Hey, it’s October 1st, so I’m out in the woods with my good friend, James Harrison. James, what does October 1st mean to you?
JAMES: Oh, it’s – well, originally, it was bow season but now it’s fall turkey season. And the leaves are changing, acorns are dropping and it’s time to shoot some deer.
GRANT: You know and I, I started out hunting, rattling ‘cause I’d seen some videos of guys in Texas doing it and making all kinds of movement, noise and it wasn’t all that successful to tell you the truth.
GRANT: Rattling certainly works and can be a great technique but there’s – you're carrying something big and bulky in the woods. You're making all this noise and get busted a lot of the time. And later I learned that grunt calls – through research I learned that grunt calls or grunting – is a much better tool than rattling. Both are good tools.
GRANT: But, if I’m only gonna carry one in the woods, I’m gonna carry the grunt call and I’m gonna take it on every hunt.
GRANT: So, James. You know, once I figured out – gosh, I can mash my thumbs together a lot and see some deer, but not that many. Or I can take a grunt call, which is easy to be quiet and not moving as much, I just kind of went to, you know, the store and bought whatever grunt call I could get. And I’d lose it and get another one next year or whatever. I never really paid attention to different tone or volume of grunt calls. And through my career as a research biologist, I started learning more about deer communications and realized there’s a huge difference in what deer are saying. And that’s when I got with you to – because I couldn’t find anything out there that fit my needs as a deer hunter. I needed a new call designed.
JAMES: Right. And we – and we started from scratch, really. I mean, we went down to listening to actual deer grunting on the videos, live deer grunting. The stuff that we heard and how it was carrying and then we started, basically, from the ground – basically, from the ground up. You know, with the tone boards all the way through. I know we had a lot of time developing the call to get the sounds where we wanted ‘em at.
GRANT: Me and, and that batch of interns that year and the employees spent a lot of time in the bottoms and ridges listening to models you’d sent us, which is fun. I’ve still got a box of all the test models. (Laughter) I make sure I don’t get ‘em mixed up with my hunting stuff ’cause I don’t want to blow the wrong one. But, yeah.
GRANT: So, a lot of fun. And, and we came up with what’s called the Messenger to communicate very specific vocalizations at different situations and different times of the year.
GRANT: So, James and I have been hunting a long time. But, James is a world champion caller and he’s, lately he’s been really specializing in calling deer.
GRANT: So, today, James, I want you to share some tips with us about the Messenger grunt call.
GRANT: But, just calling deer in general.
JAMES: You know, as the season changes, calling deer changes also.
JAMES: It’s just like turkey season. You call different to the birds early spring – same way you do with deer. Early season like that – I’m trying to catch them does.
JAMES: A lot of times we’re out there trying to kill does early season…
JAMES: …thinning the herd.
JAMES: So, I’m trying to call them does. So, usually, on the Messenger, I just use this. I’ll take that and I’ll move it up to the top click on there. The top notch.
GRANT: Okay. Okay.
JAMES: And what that does is that brings that pitch up higher…
JAMES: …like a doe. So, I can contact them does more. Obviously, the bucks, you know, if a buck hears that, they're social creatures. They're gonna come into it and check it out.
GRANT: There’s some deer over there.
JAMES: Yeah. There’s deer over there. But, you’ll get them does coming in ‘cause they’ll hear that and that it could be either a) they're a fawn or another doe.
JAMES: And we’re trying to get them does.
GRANT: Daniel and I had that experience the other afternoon. He was out and, and had some does out of bow range and, and gave that little lighter-pitch grunt like that and had some does respond to him. So, yeah.
JAMES: And then as pre-rut gets in, I’ll switch it down. I usually go with the middle setting on it.
JAMES: And that’s kind of like a two and a half year-old deer right there. Give you a little bit of sound here.
JAMES: And I want to get that buck’s attention and get him to take his attention toward me but I don’t want to be threatening to him. You know, I don’t want to sound like a dominant buck. I want to sound like another buck that grunting at him and challenging him a little bit. But one that he’s comfortable walking in on.
GRANT: Let’s think about what we’re really communicating. When I go to that second spot there, I – and you and I worked together on this as we were designing this call. We want to communicate that this is an immature buck tending a receptive doe.
GRANT: So, if you think back to high school days. I mean, yeah, you’d probably go up – there’s a fight going on in the hallway, but if Betty Lou was dancing, everybody stopped and looked or came and looked. Right?
JAMES: Yup. Exactly.
GRANT: So, we want to communicate – here’s an immature buck that’s not really a threat that’s tending a receptive doe. Kind of like the freshman’s got the queen of the ball of the dance but a senior’s gonna come in and say, “Hey. This, this dance is my turn.”
JAMES: Yup. Exactly.
GRANT: So, that’s what we want to communicate. That’s, in fact, why we call it the Messenger ‘cause we can communicate a specific message to the deer we’re hunting.
JAMES: Right. Exactly. And, and what that does is you’ll get – and a lot of guys out there, too – and I talk with this guys – they're weekend hunters. They’ve got to work all week. They’ve got the weekends. They want to call in deer.
GRANT: That’s right.
JAMES: That way, if you're sounding like a two year-old buck or a two or a half year-old buck, and you're non-threatening – and another two and a half year-old buck hears you, he’s gonna come in. ‘Cause a lot of them guys, they just want to, they want to shoot a deer…
GRANT: Hey, that’s me.
JAMES: …and get it in the freezer.
GRANT: I want to see deer.
GRANT: I want to see – and another thing. When you call that two year old in, there may be a more mature buck in the area that’s curious of what’s going on, too. Follow that scent trail right in or you get two or three younger bucks working, they may start sparring or something like that.
GRANT: I just want as many deer around my stand or blind as I can have without alerting them.
GRANT: James, let’s advance a couple weeks. Wherever you are in America now – let’s say, we’ve advanced and now we’re heavy pre-rut/rut. There’s some actual breeding going on, there’s chasing going on. What’s your strategy?
JAMES: The strategy there is – and I – and you can leave it on that second setting and just call them deer into ya. But, if I got a shooter buck out there or a hit list buck that I’m wanting to get after, I’ll drop it down to that third setting, which is the closest to the end. And that’s gonna deepen that tone. And what I’m wanting to do is – I want to challenge that buck, but I don’t want to over – be over aggressive to him. I don’t want to sound like a big ole bull out there. I just want to sound like a two and a half, three and a half year-old buck. Still don’t have all my Wheaties yet, but I want to challenge him to get to that doe.
GRANT: And you're definitely tending a doe here. You’ve got that tending grunt going on.
JAMES: Right. Yup. Notice the rhythm’s a lot slower than that. The tone’s down. Just a deeper, deeper grunt sound. He’s actually chasing does tending. And when them other bucks hear that sound, they know, “Okay. He’s chasing a doe. He’s not the dominant buck. He’s chasing a doe.” And they're gonna come in and check it out.
GRANT: At minimum, they're coming in the scent trail of that receptive doe or check it out.
GRANT: If they're not coming in to challenge, they're coming in ‘cause the most attractive thing in the woods at that time – that’s what we’re communicating – is right here by where we’re hunting.
GRANT: That receptive doe.
GRANT: So, I’m not blowing out early season and I’m not just blind – I don’t – myself – I don’t blind call with that. I’m going to use that when I see the hit lister cruising by at 150 yards or something like that. Or I’ve got young bucks in the area or whatever. I’m gonna get a little more aggressive at that stage of the rut when deer are more aggressive.
JAMES: Right. As the deer get aggressive and you start seeing them bucks cruising a lot, you can get more aggressive with your calling because they're focused in on those does and they're challenging at that stage. They want to get in there and get that doe.
JAMES: So, they're gonna show their dominance. They're gonna bristle up. That is where that one really works good.
GRANT: Now, here’s a tip – a strategy that I gotta tell you James come up with that’s even more refined than what I was using. You told me something you did during the rut – last part of the rut, whatever. You kind of really related it to turkey hunting. I want you to share that with our group.
JAMES: Well, once you get into lockdown – Missouri gun season is notorious – the first week of gun season, it seems like, them does and bucks – they're locked down tight.
GRANT: Yup. Yup.
JAMES: I switch the Messenger back over and I go up to the top group because I want to sound like a doe. And the reason that is – the bucks – they’ve done sparred. They’ve got their dominance. They know where they're at. They don’t want to challenge. They don’t want another challenge. So, if I see an old buck coming through there, I’m gonna.
JAMES: I want to sound like that receptive doe. And if a buck’s cruising and he hears that sound, he’s not threatened by it.
GRANT: He’s coming right in.
JAMES: He’s coming right in ‘cause a lot of times, you’ll have bucks – and I, I did this last year when I was bow hunting. It was locked down; I had a little buck coming through. I grunted at him once on the third setting. And, man, he just bristled up and he walked on past. And I hit him with that doe bleep on this and he turned around and he come right back in to me. ‘Cause he wasn’t threatened then. He knew it was just a deer.
GRANT: By now, they’ve most likely been whipped two or three times…
GRANT: They’ve had enough of that nonsense. But, they're still really interested in a receptive doe.
GRANT: Well, James, we’re in a wicked drought here in the Ozarks. You can see how brown and dry it is and food sources are pretty limited. So, I can get in deer but I need ‘em in bow range. Big difference between being in deer in general. I’m in the same 30 acre block that deer are using and having ‘em 20, 30 yards from my stand or blind.
JAMES: Right. Well, one of the things – you know, with the Messenger, when we designed and worked on this, we made it to – and we had talked about it when we was done – you can get this call soft. You know, I think that’s one of the points – a lot of this stuff – you know, you don’t want to – deer have great hearing and you can blow a deer out. Just like you can a turkey out.
JAMES: So, if you’ve got that call and. You can get on them same deer and not spook ‘em because it’s a natural sound they're hearing and it’s something they're hearing in the woods and pull them deer into you…
GRANT: Yup. Yup.
JAMES: …from there.
GRANT: Yup. You know, a lot of marketing advertisement is all about being the biggest bull in the woods and the super challenge and that’s great if you only want to take home a, you know, a five, six, seven year-old buck. And that’s just not me.
GRANT: I need to fill that freezer up with tenderloin for Ms. Tracy. I love shooting my bow. And I love seeing deer. So, I want to be able to communicate with every member of the deer herd.
GRANT: I always enjoy visiting with James and learning from him. We’ll both be carrying the Messenger grunt call throughout the season and sharing our techniques and results.
GRANT: If you’d like more detailed information about our calling techniques, we recently did a Facebook live with James. We have a copy of that video at GrowingDeer.com under the clips tab.
GRANT: We still need to harvest a bunch of does and start chasing our hit list bucks. So, stay tuned to the techniques and strategies we’ll be using; follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And we’ll be giving almost day-by-day accounts of our strategies.
GRANT: The leaves are starting to fall. And it’s a fabulous time of year. But every day is a great day to get outside and enjoy Creation, but more importantly, slow down, be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.