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GRANT: October 29th. Just returned from Kentucky Proving Grounds where a cold front came through halfway through the trip; certainly put the bucks on their feet and put some tenderloin in our freezers.
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GRANT: Before we get started this week, just one last reminder. We’re eight days from the presidential election. It’s real important that all the hunters get out and vote. And if you haven’t voted absentee already, it’s probably too late in most states. You need to take a day off from hunting; show up at the polls and vote.
GRANT: Adam, Brian and I rolled over to The Kentucky Proving Grounds where we met C. J. Davis, the president of Montana Decoy and Andrew McKean, the editor for Outdoor Life, along with our host, Mr. Terry Hamby.
ANDREW MCKEAN: Oh, the white part, the fruit of the radish.
GRANT: Fruit of the radish.
GRANT: The first few days we were there, the lows were in the 60’s and the highs were in the 80’s and we didn’t see a lot, except does and fawns coming out to feed in the food plot.
GRANT: That’s not a slam or a bemeaning thing, because I love to fling arrows at does, love tenderloin for the freezer and so does Mr. Hamby. So, I was blessed to get in some action the first night there.
GRANT: Not long into our set, I noticed four antlerless deer enter into the clover. Once Brian gave me the nudge that things were okay and he was recording and capturing footage, I started concentrating on when I could take the shot, and this doe seemed pretty alert as they often are when they go through a transition area into a feeding area and I actually let her walk about ten yards farther away before I decided to come to full draw. I checked one more time with Brian to make sure he was rolling and came to full draw. As I ended up hitting this deer in the spine and as you see it in slow motion, you can tell this doe drops at almost like the last second. And if I’d of had a normal site pattern, I probably would have shot over her back. I share this, simply, as an educational moment and, hopefully, we all can learn as a bow hunter, even at 30 or 40 yards out there, pull that site pattern down low. And that way if the deer drops, you’ve got a winner either way.
GRANT: Adam was paired up with Mr. Hamby, our host, and they had a good hunt also. The deer really didn’t come into their stand ‘til right at dark. Mr. Hamby’s such a gracious host and more concerned about preparing beautiful food plots and timber management and soil management, that he wasn’t concerned if someone else tagged a deer and he didn’t. During this time, we’re getting texts and emails from our buddies back in the Midwest where the cold front has already hit and they're all talking about bucks being on their feet and scrapes opened up and seeing deer chasing. We had none of that. Does and fawns coming to food plots about dark and mosquitoes swarming as the truck monitor said 80 plus degrees.
GRANT: Given the forecast of continued high temperatures, Brian and I selected a stand way back in the timber, a long ways from any food plots where we thought we could catch deer passing through an edge between timber and a planted pine section where they’d be going to bed. Give us time to get in while they're a quarter mile away or more feeding; get up and get quiet and let the deer filter to us with the wind in our favor.
GRANT: Besides an opportunity to harvest another doe and work on balancing that adult sex ratio, it was interesting to watch this doe smelling and interacting with the scrape. Smells clean.
GRANT: 80 yards from the stand and there she is, 20 yards on down the hill. Although I was a little worried about the shot, the trail job was relatively short, about 100 yards. Got some help in getting the deer out of there and we’re waiting for this cold front, which is now a day closer. One, two, three, go.
TERRY: (Cooking) Not very many carbs and not very many calories in ‘em at all. (Laughter)
TERRY: You don’t wanna be a winner.
GRANT: (Whispering) Got his ears laid back.
GRANT: I was just catching glimpses of this buck as he made his way to the timber. And I gotta tell you, when I first saw the depth of his chest, I was thinking, shooter buck. I tell myself to always give the deer the benefit of the doubt. If there’s any doubt in my mind, pass and let it get a year older. But I’d been setting out in the cold rain for quite some time and I was ready to clip that release on the string and let one of those Muddy shafts fly. So much so, that I turned around and asked Adam, who’s now filming me, a couple of times, “How old do you think he is? Is he mature? Is he a taker?” And each time, Adam gave me the thumbs down. That was news I didn’t want to hear as I set there with my bow, not putting my release on the string so I’d avoid that temptation and watch this buck stop broadside at about 20 yards and then where it’s dead downwind of us at 10 yards in a scrape. As you're watching that footage, that buck is all stretched out and just exposed in that kill zone, 10 yards away, doesn’t know we’re in the world; temptation was in its largest form.
GRANT: (Whispering) That was very tough not to draw back. Ten yards or so. Plenty of time. Wasn’t looking. 20+ years ago, I did my master’s research on scrape behavior of free ranging whitetail deer, not any pen stuff, and we noticed after a rain like this, they often will come freshen up, especially during the pre-rut now. You know, it rains in January. They're not necessarily gonna come freshen up a bunch of scrapes. But right now, scrape behavior is at the highest point. If you're gonna hunt scrapes, right now is the time to do it. Just a day or two more before the does become receptive. A rain today, I told Adam earlier, “I bet they come freshen up a scrape.” And there it was.
GRANT: But I gotta tell you, the elation of making that easy shot would have not overweighed the harassment from my fellow hunters who had all agreed to pass up three and a half year old bucks and wait for a four year old buck on this property. Sharing this footage with you and my friends back at hunting camp was much more pleasant than the jibes and the good natured teasing that would have occurred if I’d have shot that deer and took him back to camp.
GRANT: Once back at the lodge, Andrew Clifton, one of my wildlife students that did the trail camera survey at The Kentucky Proving Grounds, pointed out pictures of the buck Adam and I passed. Easy to see it’s not a four year old deer. His neck doesn’t go all the way down to his chest. He’s not balanced in the front, more than the back; he doesn’t have that traditional buffalo shape. And that’s one of the real values of doing the trail camera survey – to be able to know the bucks on your property so you don’t have to make that judgment call in the moment of deciding that while hunting.
GRANT: Now, I've been involved in research where literally thousands of conception dates have been analyzed from late season harvested does and they just don’t swing much from year to year in any geographic area. It doesn’t matter what the moon phase is or the temperature is. But what does matter is the amount of daytime activity that’s viewed by hunters. And that doesn’t seem to have any relation to a moon phase. I’m sure I’ll get a bunch of negative emails about that, though. I’m just quoting you science based on literally thousands of data points. But a cold front coming through made a major change. And many of my past hunts, and in this one from just a few hours one side of a day to another day, temperature is a huge factor in deer activity.
GRANT: It’s a great time to be hunting. But while you're out there hunting, don’t forget to look around at the beautiful fall colors. Think about how long this has been going on and never changing. The ritual of the rut. It’s like a Creator designed all of this which is exactly what happened. So, take a moment to think about The Creator while you're enjoying Creation. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.
GRANT: (Shooting arrows) (Laughter) Put it in there Mr. Hamby. That’s good. A repeat champion.
TERRY: You know, when we came into this, this was the 3rd Annual Hawkeye Classic. The two winners are right here together.
GRANT: Yeah, it is. That’s what the editors got you.