Deer Hunting Strategies: Comparing Past Patterns And Planning (Episode 350 Transcript)

This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.

GRANT: This week I’m gonna share how we’ve successfully tagged several hit list bucks during the past seasons. We use past and current trail camera images to figure out the pattern and home ranges of these hit list bucks. Use these tips and you’ll be well on your way to tagging hit list buck at your Proving Grounds this year.

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GRANT: (Whispering) Are you on it? Are you on it, Daniel?

GRANT: No doubt that bad boy was mature. I mean, look at that.

GRANT: Most hunters enter season with high expectations of tagging a good buck. I’m no different. And the strategies we use to tag those bucks year after year are based on using past trail camera pictures as well as current ones.

GRANT: We often talk about the importance of MRI – most recent information. And I think most folks assume that only applies to current scouting or trail camera images. But that’s not really the case – at least how we use it. MRI can mean trail camera images from past years, but applied to that same week this year.

GRANT: This MRI – based on past year’s trail camera images helps us understand how deer use the resources here at The Proving Grounds – whether it’s a drought, big acorn crop or other factors that influence their daily patterns.

GRANT: Currently, there are some good hit list bucks here at The Proving Grounds that have been making fairly regular appearances in front of our Reconyx cameras.

GRANT: Many of these hit listers were on our radar last year. And we’ve got a record of them in our BuckView software, Reconyx’s free software to manage trail camera photos, so we kind of know which portions of the property they used last year given certain conditions.

GRANT: By digging into these photos and studying the patterns, we can do a pretty accurate job of predicting how these bucks will react to the conditions this fall.

GRANT: Often, bucks will use different portions of their home range during the fall as they did in the summer. This explains why some hunters identify great bucks during the summer and then can't find them in the fall. But by being able to predict those shifts and getting ahead of the game allows us to hang stands where we need to have ‘em come opening day of season.

GRANT: We’re currently studying four hit list bucks here at The Proving Grounds and their patterns are very similar to the patterns they had this time last year.

GRANT: Handy and Southpaw are two hit list bucks that were on The Proving Grounds last year and reappeared this year. Last year during the summertime, they hung pretty much on the north side of the property and were usually together. That same pattern is true right now. They're using the same food plots and Trophy Rock stations as they did during late July and August last year.

GRANT: Another hit list buck we call Herman is doing the same thing. Last year this time he was hanging around Boomerang Ridge and that’s exactly where we’re getting pictures of him this week.

GRANT: Swoops is a great looking nine-pointer. Last year during the late summer he pretty much stayed on the south end of The Proving Grounds and that’s where we’re getting pictures of him right now.

GRANT: It’s easy to understand how our data last year is gonna be so important to this year. With these bucks using the same areas, and there’s no reason to believe their personalities have changed, it’s likely we can predict where they will shift to come hunting season.

GRANT: Our records showed that Handy shifted from the northern portion of The Proving Grounds to the center portion. And at the same time, Herman shifted from the center portion to the southern end of our property.

GRANT: Swoops, on the other hand, remained on the southern end throughout the whole hunting season.

GRANT: Last year, during the first afternoon of bow season – September 15th in Missouri and before most acorns fall – Adam and I filmed Swoops at about 70 or 80 yards in a food plot. We never saw Swoops again with our naked eye.

GRANT: Given that these bucks are showing the same pre-season pattern, we anticipate them making the same shifts once season starts, which will make our job of patterning and tagging these bucks much easier now that we have more history, or more MRI, if you will.

GRANT: It’s important to remember that deer – especially mature bucks – are unique individuals. And it seems like the older they get, the more they get set in their ways and it’s actually easier to pattern a more mature deer than it is that prime three year-old that may be traveling the countryside trying to establish his home range.

GRANT: Trail cameras are obviously great tools for learning herd information and, even more importantly, MRI on individual bucks. We feel very confident this year having two years of data on some of these hit list bucks and understanding their behaviors and their habitat selection much better.

GRANT: While gathering information on these hit list bucks, we also caught some very interesting deer behavior.

GRANT: Recently our Reconyx cameras picked up a neat situation. We had two cameras – about 50 yards apart. One of them was set over a station where we’re testing an experimental feed that’s designed to reduce the number of ticks on deer.

GRANT: The other one we just put up over a fence gap to confirm some deer were patterning through that gap. Well, the deer over the feed site certainly was picking up behavior. But it had to be pointed just right to see deer going through the fence gap and monitor their response to the camera at that gap.

GRANT: Around midnight it got interesting as an old nanny started going through the gap.

GRANT: It looks like Adam’s hiding in the bushes with a flashlight, but what’s really happening is the first camera is putting out an infrared glow and the second camera’s camera is built to detect that glow. If you and I were there, we’d probably have to be looking right in the flash to even notice any light.

GRANT: What makes this observation even more valuable is we had just put that camera up at the fence gap. So, those deer are absolutely not conditioned to any camera being there.

GRANT: I can't say for all cameras, but it seems pretty obvious that deer don’t care about the infrared no glow flash of a Reconyx.

GRANT: A very popular trend is to film hunts. This can be a fun, but extremely challenging goal. Getting started can be tricky, but here are some techniques to help you successfully film your hunts.

ADAM: Before you ever climb in a tree for the first time in the fall, it’s important that you have the appropriate gear. I’ve already attached the base. I like to put it about my right hip. That way the camera arm comes across my body and I have the most range to film the relationship between the hunter and the animal as it works into our setup.

ADAM: The next step is to attach the shoulder.

ADAM: It goes in like so.

ADAM: I like to go ahead and level up the bubble when I put the shoulder on so – make sure it’s good and level. Now, it’s time for the camera arm.

ADAM: (Inaudible)

GRANT: It’s critical to get the camera arm, base and shoulder level before you start filming. This will go a long ways to make sure you capture quality footage.

ADAM: The beauty of this setup starts at the base. Every cameraman knows one of the most annoying sounds is the sound of a ratchet strap as you're attaching the base to the tree to start off the hunt. Well, with the great price point and the durability of this base, you can put these up in the tree before season starts so when you climb up in the morning or the afternoon to start the hunt, you just have to attach the shoulder, the camera arm and the camera and you can do it in almost complete silence.

ADAM: One of the biggest reasons why I keep the whole setup on my right side is almost all the cameras have their controls and the screen on the left side. So, throughout the hunt, everything is right in front of my face so I can run the camera effectively. But no matter what scenario is thrown at me, I can capture it all on film.

ADAM: So, Mark has stepped in to represent a hunter and a common setup that we use here at The Proving Grounds. Just like with the camera setup, keeping it to my right, I like to keep the cameraman stand just to the right of the hunter. And a good rule of thumb is the top of my platform is even with his seat. This allows me to shoot great interviews as well as over the shoulder shots, making great connections between the hunter and the animal.

ADAM: Now that Mark and I have settled in the tree, one of the first things I like to do is shoot an interview.

ADAM: I usually twist the camera around – get it in between me and the hunter. I like to keep a good three to four foot in between the lens of the camera and the hunter’s face. This is the ideal setup for an interview.

ADAM: Another important part of telling the story is b-roll footage and scenics.

ADAM: One of the best ways to effectively tell the story as the hunt unfolds is getting stable, smooth footage and that all starts with a good fluid head.

GRANT: Framing your footage correctly is important to making sure you capture the moment. Anticipate where the animal is going – not staying where it’s been. By leaving yourself a buffer or pad in front of the animal – even if it moves quickly, you’ll have the moment captured.

ADAM: Now as the hunt’s unfolding, the first deer is coming to our setup. This is where a lot of us make the error of zooming in and framing too tight, oftentimes cutting off a portion of the deer in the frame. Back it out just a touch – giving plenty of padding, or room around the deer, so you can see the entire deer and the area around it.

ADAM: As the deer moves through your setup, it’s important to pad to where there’s more room in the frame in front of the deer – where he’s going – than behind him, where he’s already been.

ADAM: A deer is coming to our setup and Mark’s gonna take the shot. It’s time for me to start anticipating where the shot’s gonna occur and where the deer is gonna go after the shot.

ADAM: I’m gonna stay on – keeping my hands just enough pressure to move the camera, but not enough pressure causing shake in it. Mark’s on the deer – I’ve given him the “okay.” I open my hands, taking the pressure off the camera so there’s no shake. Shot occurs. My hands go right back on the camera. Deer is still in frame and I follow it all the way out of view.

ADAM: So, the deer has ran off after the shot and he’s either ran out of view or he’s fallen within sight. Either way, I want to stay on that area for just a few seconds and then it’s time to come back to the hunter for that priceless reaction.

GRANT: Bingo! Super buck.

ADAM: Now that the hunt has occurred, it’s time to get any additional footage to help build the story. That may be b-roll with a bloody arrow, a lighted nock, or even a white belly through the timber, but most importantly, you want to get a post-hunt interview.

LINDSEY: (Whispering) That’s awesome. So, this is our second morning…

GRANT: When in doubt, hit record. Capturing the real and raw emotions should an event occur, cannot be recreated. Have that camera rolling; get those real moments and you’ll have a video everyone wants to watch.

UNKNOWN: You guys might not let me come back.

ADAM: Now, that we’re on the ground and it’s time for the recovery, this is when I’m gonna switch the camera to an auto focus. I don't know how excited my hunter is gonna get. He may change the distance in between the camera and him so I want to make sure it’s always in focus. I’m gonna try and keep the distance five yards or so back behind him. And I’m just gonna follow him all the way to the deer.

ADAM: We’ve recovered the deer. Now it’s time for a hero interview. This is where I’m gonna step back just enough to where I can show the animal and the hunter in the frame – get plenty of padding around ‘em – making sure I’m not cutting ‘em off. Center ‘em up. Gonna let the hunter unload his emotions; talk about the hunt; talk about the history with the deer and any other things he wants to share with us.

ADAM: One other little tip – I step back and get a little bit lower. This highlights the animal really well and is a great ending to the hunt.

GRANT: If you film your hunts and want to help others enjoy Creation, consider joining the GrowingDeer Field Staff. Folks from throughout the whitetails’ range have joined our community. We look forward to receiving your application.

GRANT: Recently, I was in Ohio at the national competition for the Scholastic Shooting Sports program. There were literally thousands of shooters there and many more parents and grandparents and coaches supporting those young athletes.

GRANT: Isn't it great that we live in a nation where we can travel across borders with firearms and teach our kids the safety and enjoyment of the Shooting Sports Programs? Did you know that high school trap is the fastest growing sport in high schools throughout the United States?

GRANT: The local team did great with several of our athletes placing, including my youngest daughter, Rae, who took second in doubles.

GRANT: Even more importantly, there was over a million shots fired, but no accidents. Imagine that. A million shots fired and no accidents. All these youth learning gun safety, gun responsibility, fair competition and having a good time.

GRANT: Be sure to check out your local Bass Pro store August 12th through the 28th. Adam will be in Denver, Nashville. Matt will be in Tampa and Baltimore. And I’ll be in Springfield and Memphis during those dates giving seminars and just visiting with our fellow hunters. We look forward to visiting with you there and checking out the great gear they have to enjoy the great outdoors.

GRANT: Practicing with our bows, cleaning out our blinds, hanging stands and patterning bucks are all part of the excitement of getting ready for deer season. But you don’t need to wait for those special events. Each day, take time to enjoy Creation and most importantly, slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.

GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.