This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: This week the Pro Staff shares some great action. Plus, we’ve got the story of a huge buck. You’ve got to see this monster.
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GRANT: It’s time to check back in with team Martin. During the past few years, Heath and Lindsey have been growing high quality crops in their food plots and doing several habitat improvement projects. This is all occurring on their family farm in the Arkansas mountains.
GRANT: These improvements have allowed Heath and Lindsey’s father to tag a few mature bucks off the family farm during the past couple of years.
GRANT: While watching the guys, Lindsey’s been skunked at the family farm and she’s hoping this is her year.
GRANT: After several months of preparation and practice, it was finally time to get in the blind.
LINDSEY: (Whispering) Well, good morning. Heath and I are set up here on my family farm in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and it’s opening weekend of rifle season here in Arkansas. It’s a really nice chilly morning. We actually received, one, our first frost of the season overnight last night. So, it’s probably about 28/30 degrees somewhere right in there. So, we’re enjoying the cooler weather. And we’re hoping that with this first good cold front that’s come through the season, it’s gonna get the deer active and maybe before the morning’s over, I’ll get a chance at some mature buck.
GRANT: It wasn’t long after daylight when they spotted movement in the far back corner of the food plot. They had placed some Trophy Rock Four65 under a white oak in that location.
GRANT: The movement turned out to be one of their top hit list bucks they call Pincher. And if he turned broadside, Lindsey was gonna take the shot.
LINDSEY: (Whispering) Okay. Is that a shot?
HEATH: (Whispering) Yeah. Whenever you're ready. Shoot him. Hang on. Right there.
HEATH: (Whispering) I think his shoulder was (Inaudible).
LINDSEY: (Whispering) Yeah.
HEATH: (Whispering) See where you got him?
LINDSEY: (Whispering) I shot him, like, right here ‘cause he was kinda looking at me. Whew.
LINDSEY: (Whispering) We’re actually set up on about a 600 yard former cattle pasture that Heath has Eagle Seed Soybeans and broadcast wheat and some Broadside mix in. Both on this side of the field and the other side of the field. So, we have another blind that my dad is sitting in right now, um, watching. And so, this guy – we’ve been calling Pincher, because I think he’s a mainframe eight, but he’s got two little pinchers out here on the ends. But he stepped out of this corner. We have a Trophy Rock set out over there that they come and use. And so, he stepped out and I wasn’t able to get on him immediately when he stepped out so we had to wait and let him take his time using, using the Trophy Rock. But he finally turned broadside. I’m excited. As crazy as it is, that’s probably gonna be my first mature buck that I’ve actually shot on my family farm here in the Ouachita. So, that’s always exciting.
HEATH: (Whispering) Congratulations, baby.
LINDSEY: (Whispering) Thank you.
LINDSEY: Well, it’s been about an hour and half – maybe close to two hours since I took the shot on ole Pincher here, so. I couldn’t take it any longer. It’s only about 9:30 or so. We probably should have set for another 30 minutes, but I couldn’t take it any longer. So, we’re gonna go over here; um, see if we can find him. We don't think he went far. So, hopefully, we’ve got a deer down.
LINDSEY: You can definitely see this is where I shot him. Have blood right off the bat where he was standing. So we do not think that we heard him go very far. So, I’m actually surprised we can't already see him. But, we’re gonna step off over here in the woods and see if we can find him.
GRANT: Heath believes that Pincher was scent checking the downwind side of some cover where does often bed. This cover, which is a CRP strip, is located parallel a large feeding field and dumps right back into the smaller food plot – a perfect strategy for tagging a mature buck.
HEATH: Man, what a beauty.
LINDSEY: Winchester about turned him inside out.
HEATH: Man, what a pig. That’s a stud, baby.
LINDSEY: (Inaudible) Pincher is a cool looking buck we’ve been – we’ve had a couple of night pictures of him. We’ve not had a ton of daylight pictures of him. But, he’s got this really cool crab claw here on the front. He’s basically a mainframe eight and he’s got that crab claw and a little kicker over here. But, man, he’s a big deer for here in the Ouachita Mountains. He’s a beautiful mature buck. Um, which, you know, any time you have an opportunity to harvest a deer, whether it’s a buck or a doe, it’s always exciting.
LINDSEY: But, you know, as many of you guys who have your own personal farms to hunt on, you know, there’s nothing better than getting – being able to take a deer on your own property that you work hard on and you get to enjoy the family aspect of it. So, this is – this is the first truly mature buck that I’ve ever harvested. Um, and it’s exciting that it was able to be on my home property with my dad hunting, hunting the other end of the food plot that we were on.
HEATH: It don’t get no better than that. That Winchester did a number on him right there. I mean, he bled like a stuck hog. That’s a exit hole there.
GRANT: The GrowingDeer Team is really loving the Deer Season XP. We’ve used it a couple of seasons now. It’s economical and clearly very accurate.
HEATH: I mean right on the money. 180. Might be 181, even.
UNKNOWN: Yeah, (Inaudible) one over.
HEATH: 182. 181.
GRANT: Pincher weighed 180 pounds. That’s a big buck for the Ouachita Mountains. Congratulations, Lindsey. Your hard work and practice certainly paid off.
ADAM: We’ve had a great season so far chasing whitetails in Missouri as well as Kansas. Our last trip to Kansas was an exciting one as Matt and I found ourselves slipping into range of a bedded buck.
ADAM: We saw a lot of deer throughout the hunt, but we just couldn’t close the distance on another shooter buck.
ADAM: With tags still unfilled and Missouri rifle season coming to a close, Matt and I packed our gear and rolled west.
ADAM: We arrived early that afternoon, got in our camo and headed to the stands.
ADAM: (Whispering) November the 25th. This afternoon Matt and I are back out in Kansas, the first afternoon of a short hunt we have out here. Conditions are great. Cooler temperatures. It was 25 this morning. Seems like the deer finally got out of that lockdown phase and they're starting to really chase again. Trails through here like crazy. So, it’s Kansas; it’s November 25th. So we never know what can happen.
ADAM: About an hour in a set, we saw a parade of does headed our direction.
ADAM: (Whispering) Yeah, but (Inaudible).
ADAM: Fortunately for us, one of the large does broke from the group and was headed right in our direction.
ADAM: Wouldn’t you know it – when she finally stopped, she was directly behind a limb. Even though she was quartering to, I was confident I could put the Bloodsport exactly where it needed to go.
ADAM: It sounded like she crashed just out of sight and we were excited for the start in Kansas.
ADAM: (Whispering) Goodness, gracious. I looked and here came a whole herd of ‘em. One of ‘em looked like it was half Clydesdale. I don’t enjoy and I don’t really like quartering to shots, but the way she was positioned with her body, I felt I could sneak one in there – especially at that range. She slowed way down right up there.
MATT: (Whispering) Yeah.
ADAM: (Whispering) I don't know how many deer there were, but it was a bunch.
MATT: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
ADAM: There she is right there. Alright.
ADAM: Well, here’s the test right here.
ADAM: The Havoc provided a short blood trail, but we were in for a surprise.
ADAM: This is actually a pretty – been a pretty good arrow for me. And we’re gonna give it the test right here ‘cause – it’s covered in blood right now. You can't see it, but ooo, there’s one flex; there’s two flex; it looks like it went out – and it came out. I’ve killed four deer with this arrow already this year and, uh, that being the fifth one, including Stickers – Sticker 8 – and, uh, the arrow is still holding up.
ADAM: That Havoc needs some new blades, but other than that, it’s in pretty good shape. Of course, I’m gonna wash that Evidence up and, uh, flex it a few more times and see if I’ll be able to use it. But, I’ll definitely put another stripe on it.
ADAM: Sounds like a septic tank leaking. Dude, look how big she is. Alright. Oh, my gosh, look how big she is. Holy cow!
ADAM: Look at that head. This is – I’ll guarantee you, this is the biggest doe I’ve ever shot. Had to come all the way to Kansas to get her, but oh my gosh! Look how big she is! Holy cow! I betcha she’s got a bigger body than Sticker 8. She’s huge! Look at that.
ADAM: It’s been a great season for me. Highlight of it all was tagging a mature buck on my family farm. But that mature Ozark Mountain buck was outweighed by this doe from row crop country. Wow. What a difference corn and soybeans on an agricultural scale can do to deer body weights.
ADAM: We spent a couple more days in Kansas, hoping to fill my Kansas buck tag, and it all came down to the last morning in one of our favorite sets.
ADAM: (Whispering). Ooo.
ADAM: Mid-morning – we laid eyes on a mature Kansas buck and he was slowly working our way.
ADAM: (Whispering) He’s coming here to drink. Huh?
ADAM: (Whispering) What? I’m getting some ranges, so.
ADAM: (Whispering) That’s that deer from Grey’s Creek.
ADAM: He’s 60 yards away at a waterhole and he can either continue down that trail and come right in front of our stands or he’s gonna turn around and go back the way he came.
ADAM: Unfortunately, this buck decides to turn around and head back towards the does in the field.
ADAM: (Whispering) Well, that didn’t turn out the way I thought it was going to when I saw him coming across the field. Just like the young buck we saw yesterday – came to the water and worked his way right in front of us, so I thought that’s what he was gonna do. He got a drink; it seemed like it took him an hour to get a drink. Then he walked over and worked a scrape and I thought, “Okay. He’s gonna follow it just like that other buck.” And as you saw, he turned around and walked all the way back out to where he was. It was a nice buck. He’s got a broken G3 on one side, but he is a great looking deer – mature deer.
ADAM: As the buck faded out of range, so did the hopes of tagging a mature buck in Kansas.
GRANT: Our friends from Trophy Rock recently shared an incredible story with us. Jake Dierking from Kansas City had a season to remember. The story starts during muzzleloader season 2015. During that time, Jake passed up a good looking three year-old buck, but he’d already lost half his rack.
GRANT: Fast forward to the summer of 2016 and that buck shows up at one of Jake’s Trophy Rock stations with a huge rack.
GRANT: This is an incredible free ranging whitetail. Knowing he has something special on his family farm, Jake wisely enters the Trophy Rock trail camera contest and wins a new Reconyx camera. Jake uses that Reconyx camera to once again capture this buck at the same Trophy Rock station during October. That video gave Jake great hope he had a chance to tag this monster buck.
GRANT: At the end of October, Jake’s Reconyx camera once again captures this buck strolling past the Trophy Rock station. This time in broad daylight.
GRANT: With limited vacation days, Jake takes a single day off work to hunt his grandmother’s farm. During the morning of November 7th, Jake sees this buck again. This time he’s chasing does. And fortunately, the does bring the buck right past Jake’s stand at ten yards.
GRANT: The rest is history. Congratulations Jake, on an incredible story and hunt. Thanks for sharing it with us. I can't wait to see what shows up at our Trophy Rock stations.
GRANT: Even though it’s still deer season, I’m already starting to think about spring turkey season and part of my thinking means reducing predators. That’s why we set up some Duke traps last week.
DANIEL: Each year, the Missouri Department of Conservation sends out turkey poult recruitment surveys. Landowners, hunters, wildlife managers – they all make observations of what they're seeing in the field.
DANIEL: This year, the Missouri Department of Conservation reported that turkey poult numbers were very low across the state. But at The Proving Grounds, while we’re hunting, while we’re looking through Reconyx images, we’re seeing a lot of turkey poults. We believe that this has a lot to do with our intensive trapping throughout many years.
DANIEL: Generally, we remove about 50 predators from The Proving Grounds each year. That’s primarily raccoons, opossums and coyotes. We kind of have a short window of trapping in Missouri through November to January. And so this is a great start to our 2016 trapping season.
DANIEL: We’re gonna dispatch this raccoon, hop in the Yamaha and head on down the trap line.
GRANT: Since deer season is still open, I want to limit the disturbance to most of the deer habitat. But that’s not a problem because I set my Duke traps right along the internal roads here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: We worked on improving habitat quality throughout the year. But improved habitat quality without balancing the predator population with the prey population may not give you the results you're looking for. But, if you improve the habitat and balance or reduce the amount of predators related to the prey, then you gonna have a lot of critters for your enjoyment.
GRANT: There’s a lot of predators that want to make a meal out of turkey eggs or turkey poults. But at the top of the list are raccoons and opossums.
GRANT: Last year, coon prices were really low. A couple dollars a pelt. Guys can't even pay for their gas trapping coons. So, this year, prices are low again. As a matter of fact, there’s more than a million raccoon pelts in cold storage. Guys just waiting for the prices to come back up.
GRANT: What does that mean for us turkey hunters? Well, guys aren’t removing coons; there’s be a lot of coons throughout the turkeys’ range. And it’s up to us land managers to work on balancing the amount of raccoons versus turkey populations.
GRANT: But raccoons are usually at the top of my list. And a easy way to do it – using a Duke cage trap.
GRANT: Cage traps are super safe and easy to use. There’s no big massive springs or anything to mash your fingers on. And they're very effective. I've had these traps six, seven, eight years and they're working great. So, they're a great investment also. I simply want to find a place where raccoons will likely be traveling.
GRANT: This morning I’ve selected a site right next to a dry creek. We’re in a drought right here – on the edge of a little bit of timber in a food plot. So, we’ve got three habitat types and a trail crossing them. You might be able to tell a, a game trail right here. So, it’s like a street intersection.
GRANT: I want to put my traps and the bait where the wind and the thermals at night because. Think. The critters are most active at night. So, I want the scent that’s attracting the predators drifting across those travel corridors at night.
GRANT: I’m on the uphill side, or upstream side, of this trail and creek. I’ll set my trap where I want it. Place the bait or attractant in there; and at night, that scent will drift down with the thermals. You can actually – I can see my breath going that way right now. Across that area. So, any raccoon traveling right there – it doesn’t have to be right here at the trap – he’s gonna smell that free meal and come check it out.
GRANT: I found my location. The next step is actually putting the trap in the precise spot. And I like to back my trap up to something kind of solid. And I’ve got a big tree here. It’s so big, I bet it’s hollow. It might even be a den tree. There might be coons right there. But, now I’m want to place it flat. You see where I have it here – it’s kind of rocky. And it’s possible for coons to be kind of smelling around it. And they might cause the door to drop before they get in it and kind of poking around the edge. So, I’m gonna look for a spot right here that’s pretty level – kind of slide it around.
GRANT: Right there looks pretty good. Pretty solid. It’s got a backing. Coons can't really get behind it too well. And if I put my bait in here and I’ll Hansel and Gretel a little out – the scent’s gonna whiff out through that travel corridor. And we’re likely to have a raccoon in a day or two.
GRANT: Once I find a solid location, I’m simply gonna move the rings up on the trap. Now, these rings function to keep the door in place once it falls down. That way, the coon or predator can’t leave. And I always leave a can in my trap. And the reason I leave a can in my trap is – I’ll put the bait or attractant in here and that case if it rains or something, it doesn’t spoil or get messed up. And I’ll turn it sideways and the coon’s kinda got to dig around to get into it. And by that time, he’s gonna trigger the trap. So, just a really easy technique.
GRANT: I’ve been using this DP Stimulator. It’s a dry food; it’s not messy. Easy to use. Got a big nice aroma that attracts coons. And remember, once they're in the trap, you don’t need a whole lot. So, I’m gonna put a little in here. Just enough to smell like, “Oh, there’s a free meal.” Kind of a free meal. What critter doesn’t want a free meal?
GRANT: Then, I’m gonna take just a little – couple handfuls – and Hansel and Gretel me a trail coming right up to the trap. You don’t want to Hansel and Gretel so much that they get full before they ever get in the trap. You just want a little teaser – a little dessert out there. Bringing ‘em into the entrée.
GRANT: I’m gonna take my trap and put the can in the very back sideways, so it’s not exposed to the rain. I’ll often make a little bare ground. For two reasons. As a visual attractant – right in front of the trap like something’s been scratching – going to food. ‘Cause critters out in the wild are often scratching and digging for food. And also, I don’t, want to make sure nothing’s in the way. So when the critter gets back here and depresses the pan, the door can fall easily and not get hung up on a stick or anything. Because if you do – if you give that coon any chance, he’ll get out of jail.
GRANT: This is a very quick and inexpensive way to catch raccoons. And another thing l love about it is how convenient it is. If I’m gonna be gone for a weekend or maybe I only get to the property on the weekend, all I have to do when I don’t want to mess with it is shut the door and no critters can get inside. Much quicker than using other types of traps.
GRANT: Removing predators and balancing that predator/prey population is an important part of wildlife management. In addition to that, well, using pelts is as old as the United States itself. Last year I had a great blanket made for Ms. Tracy out of raccoons and it is beautiful. This year, whatever coons I catch, I’ll have another garment or something else made to give a family member.
GRANT: When I catch a raccoon, I use Winchester Subsonic Hollow Points to dispatch ‘em. Low energy so I don’t do much damage to the pelt. I’m gonna pick up the trap. He can't get me ‘cause of this metal plate.
GRANT: Move it offsite three or four feet. Dispatch the animal. Whatever sign is left from that actually becomes an attractant to the area. I don’t want that right on the trap site. I don’t want any fear right here, so I’m gonna dispatch it over here two or three feet. That’s just an attractant. Re-bait the trap; catch another one soon.
GRANT: Golly. He’s a big one.
GRANT: Once I’ve taken care of the raccoon, I put the trap right back in a place that’s a proven location. And the coon probably urinated or defecated throughout the night; left some scent right here.
GRANT: So, I’m simply gonna take my DP Stimulator, a little bit of bait – put it in my can – a little bit more – just a Hansel and Gretel in the road; bring ‘em right in here. Be good to go. Put it behind the pan or the trigger on the trap and make sure they haven’t raked any dirt in there where the trap will work really well.
GRANT: Trap is easy to reset. Once it’s in place; get my gear; leave it and maybe tonight, I’ll take another predator from The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: We record the gender and the weight from every predator we catch here at The Proving Grounds. So, this happens to be a male – pretty good size. Oh yeah. 17 pounds. You think about a 17 pound aggressive predator like a raccoon. Gosh, turkey eggs or turkey poults don’t stand a chance.
GRANT: As the season progresses, we’ll put out more Duke traps to increase our efforts to balance the predator and prey populations. I can't wait for turkey season.
GRANT: As we approach the Christmas season, it’s easy to get busy. But remember to slow down each day; go outside and enjoy Creation. And more importantly, take time and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.