This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: (Whispering) He’s just gonna strut around.
DANIEL: Oh, man, that’s a good bird.
GRANT: Last week, I shared some hunts from my daughter, Rae, and our friend, Adam Andrews, right here at The Proving Grounds. This week, we’re spreading out a little bit. I want to share Griffin Gandee’s first turkey hunt in Kentucky; take it all the way back to Kansas to show you Heath Martin, Brian Hill and our own Daniel chasing those Kansas toms.
GRANT: Feathers are flying, so sit back and enjoy the action.
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GRANT: Six-year-old Griffin Gandee is going after his first long beard.
GRAHAM: Check out the new gun.
GRANT: His dad, Graham, recently purchased a 20 gauge Winchester for his boys to use during turkey season.
GRAHAM: Good. Now, put it on safety.
GRIFFIN: Good job, Chris.
CHRIS: I got it right on him.
GRIFFIN: Oh, it looks like you nailed him.
GRANT: Graham thinks using a Caldwell Lead Sled is the perfect way to introduce his young sons to the bark of a shotgun.
GRANT: It’s also a good idea to experience the boys shooting off a FieldPod before they get in the blind.
GRANT: The FieldPod is a great tool for all turkey hunters. It holds the weight of the gun if that turkey hangs up on the way in. It keeps that barrel from rolling around like a flag as the turkey gets in close and lets us all shoot a little bit more accurately.
GRANT: It looks like Graham and Griffin are well prepared and they're ready for opening day.
GRANT: Opening morning for Griffin is cold and clear.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) Hear that gobble? He’s down in that holler.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) Well, guys. It’s the first day of Kentucky’s youth season for turkey. I got my good man, Griffin, behind the gun today. It’ll be his first time out behind the trigger. He’s been excited all week. We were out here last weekend patterning the new Winchester 20 gauge and he’s ready. So, we’ve got birds gobbling around us this morning. We hope there’s some beginner’s luck this morning. Stay tuned and we’ll see what happens.
GRANT: Just after sun up, a big tom comes into the plot, but he’s off to the side.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) Be still. Hey. (Inaudible) right there.
GRANT: For Graham, and any father taking a young child hunting, it’s all about patience ‘cause it’s much easier to wait and let the tom move into you than to try to swing the gun.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: This big tom really puts on a show. There’s nothing to do but watch this tom put on a show and hope he drifts into Griffin’s field of fire.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) He’s gonna walk out this way.
GRANT: Finally, the tom drifts in and Griffin’s ready for the shot.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) (Inaudible) behind the trigger. Shoot him; shoot him. Okay? Shoot him, Griff.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) That’s all right, buddy.
GRIFFIN: (Whispering) Did I get him?
GRAHAM: (Whispering) Uh-uh. It’s okay, buddy.
GRANT: Somehow that shot went a little high. Graham remains positive and encourages Griffin to continue hunting.
GRAHAM: We’re gonna get us another one. Okay? He’s gonna go to a different field, but we’ve got a lot of other birds around us. Okay? Okay. Be still.
GRANT: It wasn’t long until a hen strolls into the plot and drags a big ole’ tom right behind her.
GRANT: It’s a pretty picture, but once again, this tom is out of the zone where Griffin is comfortable shooting. And Graham is wise to wait patiently.
GRANT: Graham teaches a great lesson here. When you're hunting with a six-year-old, it’s better to let the tom come to you than try to reposition the hunter and the gun. It’s much safer and probably results in more tags being punched.
GRANT: Eventually, those birds drift out of sight and Graham’s starting to wonder if they’ll get another chance. But about that time, he spots two toms in the distance.
GRANT: Graham does some calling and sure enough, those toms start drifting toward the blind.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) Keep your hand off the trigger.
GRANT: This will be a great story if Griffin gets another shot.
GRANT: Unlike before, these toms are coming right in to Griffin’s kill zone.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) Shoot that one to the right.
GRIFFIN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRAHAM: (Whispering) Okay. Hold on, hold on. Okay. Right there, buddy. Line ‘em up. Line ‘em up and shoot ‘em. Get your head down on the gun.
GRAHAM: Oh yeah. Yes. You got him. Griff! You shot a turkey! What do ya think?
GRIFFIN: Was that, was that a huge one?
GRAHAM: That’s a huge one. That might be bigger than I’ve ever shot.
GRAHAM: Man. I’ll beat ya. I’ll beat ya to him.
GRAHAM: Look at his spurs! Look at those hooks, man! You shot a big one. See his beard?
GRIFFIN: Oh yeah.
GRAHAM: Yeah. Feel that.
GRANT: What an amazing first turkey hunt for Griffin. I don't think I saw four toms during the first three years of my turkey hunting career. It’s a real testimony to the great habitat work those Kentucky boys have been doing.
GRAHAM: Ah, Griff. Hey. You were wanting to keep that.
GRANT: It sure is neat to see all the family and friends join in the celebration. That’s the spirit of hunting.
GRAHAM: You hold that one and we’re gonna walk this way. You ready?
GRAHAM: You got him?
GRAHAM: Barely? Is he bigger than you?
GRANT: Congratulations to Griffin on a fine shot. And to Graham and cameraman, Dustin, for making it enjoyable and safe.
GRANT: Recently, it was archery season for turkeys in Kansas. And Heath Martin was excited to take his new Prime Centergy out there and chase some toms. Normally, his wife, Lindsey, tags along. But this year, she couldn’t make it, so Sawyer Hall went along as Heath’s cameraman.
GRANT: This year during the first few days of Kansas archery season, the weather wasn’t favorable as thunderstorms and even hail kept rolling through the area.
HEATH: (Whispering) That’s just three long beards going after a jake.
GRANT: Despite the tough conditions, they were able to have a couple encounters but couldn’t quite get a shot.
GRANT: During the third afternoon, more storms were forecast to pass through the area. So, Heath decided to hunt from a hay bale blind that was put on a pipeline right-of-way and catch some toms staging in the area before they flew up to roost.
HEATH: (Quietly) Well, we’re in Kansas bow hunting turkeys. We’ve been up here a couple days. It’s been absolutely – well, three days. And it’s been absolutely horrible weather: rain, wind, hail. Well, I guess we hadn’t had sleet or snow, but we’ve had everything else. We’ve had a few encounters with birds but just hadn’t had anything work out. So (Inaudible). We’re sitting up on a big gas pipeline right-of-way where the birds like to roost. And we’re hoping they just come up here and come strutting up and down this pipeline right-of-way and, hopefully, you know, maybe we can call a little bit if we need to. But, hopefully, they’ll just come strutting by. Maybe we’ll be able to get a shot this evening before they go down here and go to roost. So, that’s the game plan.
GRANT: They had not been in a Redneck Blind long when they spotted a tom. And with some luck, he would head their way and give ‘em a shot.
GRANT: Before that tom offered Heath a shot, they had a bit of a surprise. Another tom and a group of hens come charging into the area and there was about to be a fight.
GRANT: The two toms fought so long, they drifted out of sight and the hens went off a different direction. Heath was hoping that when the fight was over, the winner would drift back in looking for the hens. And that’s exactly what happened. Heath used a little coaxing from his Hook's Custom Call and sure enough, here comes the winner.
HEATH: Once we saw ‘em be aggressive to each other, we took the jake decoy out; stuck it just outside the window and when they came back across that opening back there, it was enough to get him to come on down the pipeline. He didn’t come over to attack it ‘cause he’d just been in a big fight, but he walked about 25 yards. Gave me a nice shot with the new Prime Centergy and the Havoc put him down and man, he’s got some almost white colors in him. Just a big, pretty two-year-old bird, but he gobbled; put on a show. We’ve had horrible weather for a couple days, but it’s hard to complain when you finally get a – put a tag on a big Kansas long beard.
GRANT: Congratulations Heath and Sawyer on another fine Kansas turkey hunt. Kansas was definitely hot for Heath. And wanting in on the action, our friend, Brian Hill and Daniel decided to pair up and roll out to Kansas for the opening of the shotgun season.
GRANT: Brian had a great pattern of toms using his Reconyx 900 pictures. Those are the cameras that send the pictures to your email. Brian is an absentee landowner, so it’s a great way for him to monitor his property and pattern turkey and deer.
GRANT: The southern portion of this property has been overgrown by cedars and not ideal turkey habitat. But the northern portion is hardwood hollers and large ag fields and pastures close by. Much better turkey habitat. So, that’s where the boys decided to start off.
GRANT: The guys heard a lot of gobbling from the roost but the toms become quiet once they hit the ground. That’s common during the early season in this portion of Kansas. But the guys were wise to stay put and let the toms take care of some hens and then start hunting more aggressively about 9:30 or 10:00.
GRANT: Mid-morning, they started seeing some hens.
GRANT: It seemed the larger groups of turkeys were breaking up and the hens were moving off to nesting habitat. Sunshine and brightness warming up and Brian and Daniel felt certain that a lone tom would be responsive to calls soon.
GRANT: It wasn’t long before a gobbler fired up right in the hardwood draw below them.
GRANT: They never saw the tom and could tell he was drifting off. Daniel thought maybe the tom had come up and periscoped the food plot and spotted the jake decoy. This time of year, sometimes turkeys will flare off jake decoys. So, he decided to make a change and put another hen out there to attract toms.
GRANT: For traveling turkey hunters, it can be difficult to know what stage of the breeding season toms are in. So, if one decoy setup doesn’t work, it’s often wise to change and try another one so you can match the biology of that current time at that location.
GRANT: It wasn’t long before another tom gobbled.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Oh, he’s coming.
DANIEL: (Whispering) I told you there was two! Be ready to –
BRIAN: (Whispering) What?
DANIEL: (Whispering) Whoa, there’s three. Holy moly.
BRIAN: (Whispering) (Inaudible) to get a couple to the decoy.
BRIAN: (Whispering) This one?
DANIEL: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
BRIAN: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: If you’ve turkey hunted much, you know anything can happen. You're calling, gobblers are gobbling and your emotions are running high.
BRIAN: (Whispering) Where’s the head at?
DANIEL: (Whispering) Under the cedar. Under the cedar. See it?
BRIAN: (Whispering) Yup.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Take it.
GRANT: Brian was a tad excited but made a great follow-up shot.
BRIAN: Whew! I’m super pumped about this one. Me and Daniel’s first hunt together. It’s the first turkey hunt of the year. I’m excited. We worked hard; kept cranking on that Hook's Custom Call – the Redeemer. And we redeemed ourselves. We finally got it. Called in not one, but three. So, let’s go check this thing out. That’s what I’m ready for. Um.
BRIAN: (Whispering) Where’s the head at?
DANIEL: (Whispering) Under the cedar.
BRIAN: Is that the one you was on?
BRIAN: Yup. I’m glad you…
DANIEL: Got that one.
BRIAN: Got that one. (Chuckling)
BRIAN: Oh, right here. Oh yeah. 10, 11 inch beard. Probably 20, 23 pounds. Good ole Kansas turkey.
BRIAN: I’m a deer hunter at heart, but to hear them things gobbling. Me and Daniel’s looking at each other – “Oh, he’s coming closer.” “Oh, he’s working the fence.” “No, he’s coming back; no he’s going away.” And it’s just – with these turkeys, it’s a battle back and forth with them calls. I mean, no, it, it, it just – I’m pumped. I mean, I’m shaking, I mean it’s, it just, it gets me so excited. I mean, now, I got my one bird down; I've got another tag. If I fill it, so be it; if not, I’m completely happy and blessed to have the turkey that I got. Now, it’s time to get Daniel on one and get him tagged out in Kansas for the first time.
GRANT: Nice work, Brian. That seemed like a fun hunt.
GRANT: With one tag punched, Brian takes the camera while Daniel gets the shotgun and they head out to a small clover food plot. It wasn’t long after they had the decoy set up that they were in for a surprise.
DANIEL: (Whispering) That was cool. That was a cool encounter. Wow.
GRANT: Wow. That was a neat way to enjoy Creation.
GRANT: A cool thing we’ve been using this year is the iSCOPE. So, Daniel has his phone and the iSCOPE mounted on the shotgun. And when he gets set up and makes a few calls, whips his phone in there and starts recording.
GRANT: Nice shot, Daniel. I enjoyed watching that.
GRANT: I really enjoy seeing the different habitat types throughout the whitetails’ range. The last few weeks, we’ve been in Illinois, Oklahoma and last week, we went to the great state of Louisiana.
GRANT: Interns Jessica, Tyler and I went to help our friend, Richard, down in Louisiana with his hunting property. A lot of folks don’t realize there are some great bucks produced every year in the South, including Louisiana.
GRANT: Hey, we’re working in Louisiana today. You can tell – beautiful bayou country and there’s a little bit more water than normal because the river is way up. We’re what? Maybe three or four foot higher than normal or something like that?
RICHARD JR: I’d say yes, that’s right.
GRANT: Yeah. But you know what’s interesting is they grow some great quality deer in this area. Richard and Richard have shown us several, you know, 170+ type deer. And, and a lot of people, especially in the Midwest or in the Great Plains area, think, “Oh, they're all small deer down south.” But that’s not true, is it?
RICHARD SR: No way. No way.
GRANT: Yeah. You know – and you were telling me that you’ve harvested a deer that was 280-some odd pounds on the hoof?
RICAHRD SR: Yes. Yeah.
GRANT: 280 pounds, folks. That’s a whopper deer anywhere. So, we’re gonna try to improve – not necessarily that quality of deer – but more of them by making the habitat a little bit more huntable and predictable where we can pattern. Because unlike the Midwest, here in this big hardwood area, it’s tough to pattern deer. So, come along as we lay out a plan for Richard and Richard today here in Louisiana.
GRANT: It’s been a wet spring in that part of Louisiana, but one of the first things I noticed was all the standing water throughout the woods.
GRANT: Working in Louisiana and here’s a really neat observation. We have Virginia creeper, the five leaf, and the three leaf, poison ivy. Both of these are preferred browse species. A lot of people can't imagine deer eating poison ivy. But it’s actually pretty high on the preference list. And you can notice up three, four, maybe, I guess four or five feet here, the leaves are small because it’s been browsed so much. And once you get above where it’s not as convenient to reach up, the poison ivy and the Virginia creeper leaves are much larger. Because this has been browsed off, even this year.
GRANT: Poison ivy will have many different shapes but always in a three leaflet pattern. Virginia creeper will always be in a five leaf pattern and, usually, the middle leaf will be the largest.
GRANT: Here at ground level, there’s all kinds of poison ivy and Virginia creeper, too, but it’s browsed so much that the leaves are smaller. Now, there’s still tons and tons of browse.
GRANT: Here’s some young poison ivy right here – a three leaf. Virginia creeper all over.
GRANT: And people wonder how these southern hardwoods produce such great deer. But there’s tons of high-quality native forage in the area.
GRANT: You may not think about deer eating poison ivy, but they commonly browse on it. Our job was to improve the habitat quality and add even better quality browse and do it in such a way where the hunters could pattern deer more efficiently.
GRANT: We finished touring the property and headed back to the lodge to use the maps and develop a habitat management plan.
GRANT: We want to preserve and enhance the bottlenecks in here and create bottlenecks here as much as we can. Because that’s so critical for this big woods type hunting.
GRANT: I would plant those two little food plots fall only…
RICHARD JR: Right. Okay.
GRANT: …for a staging area plot. If you did that, and you stop…
RICHARD JR: And, and don’t, don’t run this one all the way to the fence.
GRANT: No. You stop 70 yards from that.
RICHARD JR: Okay.
GRANT: You can either have a stand right by your fence going this way or a stand going this way. I mean you – I really like that cross idea right there.
GRANT: And the secret that makes this work is – this is very important – you need to be able to access here…
RICHARD JR: Yeah.
GRANT: …here and here. So you’re minimal disturbance for the whole area.
RICHARD JR: Hmm. Hmm.
GRANT: Because that gets more sunshine during the day and stays a lot drier.
RICHARD JR: Okay. East/west plots.
GRANT: In dry country, we want a north/south, so it will stay wetter.
RICHARD JR: Okay.
GRANT: More shade.
RICHARD JR: Alright.
GRANT: Here we want maximum sun.
RICHARD JR: Grant, it, it comes down to food, doesn’t it?
GRANT: It comes down to food. As, as the, as the ex-Department Head of Texas A&M has said at a symposium I was at one time. He said, “Let me explain genetics to y'all.” And he was a geneticist, so I’m thinking, “Well, we’re finally gonna learn this.” I was, like, you know, getting ready to write it down.
UNKNOWN: The scientist in you was ready.
GRANT: Oh, man, I was eating it ‘cause I was, like, “Boy, there’s gotta be something there.” I’m like, everybody else, “There’s gotta be something there, you know.” “And here’s genetics.” And he kind of gets this pause, gets drama, you know, going on. He says, “It’s food, nutrition, nutrition.”
GRANT: I’m really excited to follow up with Richard and watch this project as it progresses.
GRANT: This morning – a few hours before I came here to the barn wall to film this – well, it was opening day of turkey season here in Missouri. And first up to bat was Pop Woods. Pops is not known for his patience, when meat’s in front of him. Stay tuned next week as we share an exciting hunt as Pops has a gobbler getting in range.
GRANT: Easter has passed, but every day is a great day to celebrate the Resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. And a great way to do that is get outside and enjoy His Creation. But most importantly, slow down and listen to what He’s saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.