Deer Hunting | Tagging Bucks With Tactics For The Rut (Episode 418 Transcript)

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

RALEIGH: (Whispering) Ready?

DANIEL: (Whispering) Nice shot. Good shot.

RALEIGH: (Whispering) Oh, yeah. He’s not going anywhere. Perfect.

DANIEL: (Whispering) Nice shot, Raleigh.

RALEIGH: (Whispering) Let’s go.

GRANT: Last week we shared that my daughter, Raleigh, tagged a nice buck and a doe during the opening day of Missouri’s firearms season.

GRANT: The following morning, Daniel and one of our fall interns, Wes Mason, decided to hunt a plot we call Bigfoot.

GRANT: The Bigfoot plot is located in the southeastern portion of The Proving Grounds with a creek running on the eastern side. About 150 yards up the hill from Bigfoot is a five-acre plot we call Narnia. And the strip of timber in between the two make a great travel corridor during the rut.

GRANT: With cooler temperatures and a northwest wind, the scent would be going down the creek and we had some Summit stands set up in the southeast corner of Bigfoot. So, it was a great setup for the conditions.

GRANT: Even though the temperatures were cool, it was a dreary, foggy morning and deer movement seemed to be slow.

DANIEL: (Whispering) Well, it is November the 12th and it is on here in southern Missouri. A little warmer today. I suspect deer are gonna be on their feet moving. I like this setup. Yeah. This is – it’s gonna be a good day.

DANIEL: (Whispering) This time of year – especially being along this creek – it’s just a travel corridor. We could just pull – we can pull some unknown deer which would be awesome. So, who knows what will show up today.

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GRANT: After several hours, the first deer stepped out.

GRANT: Suddenly, Daniel spotted a doe entering the north end of Bigfoot.

GRANT: The doe was headed toward Daniel and Wes and she was coming fast.

DANIEL: (Whispering) It’s a doe, right?

GRANT: Daniel stopped her and let the Winchester work.

GRANT: Fortunately, and you’ll understand why I say that later, the doe went down on the edge of the plot.

DANIEL: (Whispering) Deer Season XP in the shoulder puts ‘em down fast. Does a lot of damage and they don’t go far.

GRANT: Only minutes after the shot, Daniel spotted antlers entering the plot where the doe had entered.

GRANT: It was a nice two-year-old buck.

GRANT: Several other deer filtered into the plot as well.

GRANT: This buck had almost certainly heard the shot, saw the doe, but seemed unphased.

GRANT: Through the years, a lot of hunters have asked me if they tag a doe during the hunt, should they get down; move it from their hunting area; and then go back to hunting. My response has always been the same. Absolutely not. It’s apparent, deer don’t look at dead deer, or death, like humans do. It doesn’t alert them or spook them instantly. Most of the time they ignore it or are curious and come to it.

GRANT: I have found that harvested does can be a tremendous attraction to bucks. Besides, I don’t want to get down and make a big disturbance and potentially alert deer in the area while I’m moving the doe.

GRANT: The other young bucks drifted out of the plot while the three button bucks remained in the plot close to the doe.

GRANT: About an hour later, Daniel heard a grunt up the hill and Wes got ready.

GRANT: After several minutes of not hearing or seeing anything, Daniel used the Messenger grunt call.

GRANT: Daniel wisely pointed the Messenger upwind to try to lure the buck that way versus attracting him downwind to their stand.

GRANT: A few minutes later, Daniel saw movement coming down the mountain.

GRANT: It was a good buck and he was headed straight for the doe.

GRANT: This buck stopped at the doe and was nudging and pawing her. He clearly wasn’t afraid of the doe. In fact, he was very attracted to the doe.

GRANT: As Daniel and Wes watched this show, they were trying to figure out if we had any pictures of this buck.

GRANT: Daniel and Wes were confident we hadn’t had any pictures of this buck on our Reconyx cameras. It seemed this was a bonus buck. This buck worked around the doe and stepped out into the plot.

DANIEL: (Whispering) He’s got big bases.

GRANT: He took a couple of bites and headed back to the doe.

DANIEL: (Whispering) I’m gonna take him. I think that’s a good deer.

GRANT: Daniel settled the crosshairs and sent a Deer Season XP down range.

DANIEL: (Whispering) You ready? You on him? You on him?

GRANT: The buck only went a few yards.

DANIEL: The first buck I’ve harvested here at The Proving Grounds. And what a hunt. Whoooo. Tag a doe and don’t be afraid to sit it out and wait for that buck. It is – it, this time of year, it is a lure to those deer.

GRANT: The doe Daniel had shot earlier was key to tagging this buck. He’d used the Messenger to get the buck’s attention and bring him into the plot. But once he saw the doe, the doe captivated his attention.

DANIEL: (Whispering) Yeah. Grant texted me. It was: “You shoot? Heard shot close.” (Laughing) Yes, I did.

GRANT: I’ve shared before that about 25% of the mature bucks I’ve tagged in my career have been tagged while they were investigating a doe I’d shot previously during that hunt.

GRANT: Daniel couldn’t wait to get out of the stand, put his hands on that Ozark Mountain buck.

DANIEL: Put it right there in the shoulder, broke her shoulder. Man. Big, ole doe removed from The Proving Grounds. She’ll make good eating but I’m excited about what’s right above me. Twenty yards away, Ozark Mountain buck. So, I’m gonna boogey up here and get my hands on some antlers.

DANIEL: Oh boy. Wes. Look at that mass, man.

GRANT: This was an exciting hunt, and even better, Daniel tagged a bonus buck.

DANIEL: Look at that. He’s got a kicker on the back end; he’s got a couple kickers. You can hang a ring on that one. And he’s got, maybe an inch and a half. Another kicker right there on the back. But, man, look at those bases. Man, look at those tarsal (Inaudible). Look at how thick and dark those are. He just smells, stinks – he’s been in a few scuffs. He’s, he’s lost a little hair back on his back. I love his character. Each, each, each one’s just a little different.

DANIEL: He’s got a little wave here; he’s got a turn in this one. And this one’s long; this one kind of comes down. This is wavy. I mean, each tine is just – he’s just – he’s got character to him.

GRANT: Bonus bucks are frequently defined as bucks that aren’t known to spend a lot of time on the property where you're hunting. Research using GPS collars shows bucks spend a lot of time on their feet during the rut. But they don’t often make long travels outside their home range. The exception seems to be when a buck meets a receptive doe right on the edge of both their ranges and the buck follows that doe out of their range.

GRANT: We’ll never know if this buck simply avoided our camera stations or was truly a bonus buck. But, either way, it was an exciting hunt.

GRANT: Unless you live in ag country, you probably hunt an area like the Ozark Mountains with relatively low-quality deer food throughout the area.

GRANT: Establishing high-quality food plots or really improving the native vegetation can be a key to shifting deer to using your property during the fall hunting season.

DANIEL: Deer Season XP is made to have expansion on impact. It does massive trauma. That’s exactly what happened. I’m gonna open this deer up, look inside and see what Deer Season XP did.

DANIEL: Well, what we saw on the outside – same thing happened on the inside. Massive trauma; damage to multiple ribs on both the entry and the exit. The entry wound actually has several more broken ribs. That’s when that bullet hits, expands quickly. On the exit, just tore it up. I’m super pleased with the results.

GRANT: Throughout the past three seasons, GrowingDeer Pro Staffer Jeff Therrell has had his eye on a buck he called Wrecking Ball. Where Jeff hunts, on October 28th the pre-rut was heating up and a cold front was moving through.

GRANT: Jeff headed to a Redneck Blind specifically to tag the buck he’d been chasing called Wrecking Ball.

GRANT: The blind overlooked an acre and a half food plot that had been planted with Eagle Seed soybeans.

JEFF: So, I broadcasted these beans in here, uh, early June. As you see, they’ve done really well in this food plot. It’s the first year I've ever had anything back here. Um, I’ve still got a few trees I need to clear out, but overall, it’s been a success, I believe.

JEFF: Um. I’m getting ready to broadcast some Broadside in. Um, we’ll just broadcast it in right over the beans. We’ve got a, a rain coming in this evening; more rain tomorrow and possibly more this weekend. So, it should, uh, be enough rain to wash the seeds down and get good contact with the soil.

GRANT: During late August, Jeff had broadcast a Broadside blend into the standing soybeans to maximize the amount of forage in this plot. Jeff knew that the surrounding ag fields would be harvested and by having a lot of quality forage, there would be a good chance it would be an attraction to the local deer herd.

GRANT: Jeff’s plan and timing worked perfectly because Wrecking Ball showed up.

GRANT: Another attraction to Jeff’s set up was that there were some active scrapes nearby. And during the pre-rut, hunting near scrapes can be a great place to see mature bucks.

GRANT: Wrecking Ball never presented Jeff a shot he was comfortable with and Jeff decided it was better to pass and wait for another day.

GRANT: The following weekend was cold and drizzly but Jeff was eager to get back in the Redneck Blind. Suddenly, Jeff saw antlers.

GRANT: It was a great looking buck but Jeff estimated he was three and a half years old and gave him a pass.

GRANT: The buck walked by Jeff and bedded 40 yards downwind and stayed there for hours. Jeff enjoyed watching this buck in the bed as he kept looking for Wrecking Ball.

GRANT: Around 10:30, Jeff spotted Wrecking Ball and he was headed Jeff’s way.

GRANT: Jeff was busy working the camera and getting his bow as he was trying to range Wrecking Ball.

GRANT: Wrecking Ball stepped into Jeff’s lane at 40 yards.

GRANT: Unfortunately, the shot was high.

GRANT: During all the excitement Jeff put his 40 yard pin on Wrecking Ball even though the buck had walked a bit closer.

GRANT: My heart sank as I watched the footage and I can only imagine how Jeff felt.

GRANT: Jeff returned home, watched the footage and realized the shot was too high to be fatal.

GRANT: Deer are extremely tough critters. You probably heard about or even processed a deer and found the broadhead or a bullet in the muscles of a deer that had healed over.

GRANT: Knowing this buck would likely recover, Jeff decided to put several cameras out in the area and see if he could get a picture of Wrecking Ball.

GRANT: Two days later one of the cameras photographed Wrecking Ball and he appeared healthy. Jeff shared with us that while driving to work the next morning, he saw Wrecking Ball from the road.

GRANT: The following morning, Jeff took off work and headed back to the blind where he’d shot Wrecking Ball.

GRANT: A doe appeared and Jeff grabbed his bow. The doe walked right by Jeff and worked into the bean field. Wrecking Ball was right behind the doe.

GRANT: Wrecking Ball didn’t follow the same path. He skirted around Jeff’s shooting lanes and never gave Jeff a shot.

GRANT: Jeff debated whether to call the hunt quits and go back to work that afternoon or go home and shower and come back for the afternoon hunt.

JEFF: (Whispering) This morning I sat across the field here about 100 yards, uh, in a Redneck Blind. And, uh, I had my hit lister, Wrecking Ball, come by, uh, following a doe. He just never presented me with a shot. So, uh, I’m hoping he’s still with that doe and he’ll work his way through, through this field here. Give me a good shot. So, stick with me. We’ll see what happens.

GRANT: It wasn’t long until the first deer appeared.

GRANT: After the yearling moved through, Jeff looked to his downwind side and saw Wrecking Ball standing in some CRP.

GRANT: Jeff immediately grabbed his bow and started ranging the two likely paths Wrecking Ball would take.

GRANT: Wrecking Ball stepped into one of the lanes and Jeff drew back.

GRANT: The shot hit its mark.

JEFF: (Whispering) Oh, man. I just got him. I got him this time. Oh! I’m pretty sure I heart shot Wrecking Ball. Uh, I seen blood shooting out of the side. I’m pretty positive I heart shot him. I’ve been sick over that deer.

JEFF: (Whispering) Last Sunday he came by and I misjudged the yard – yardage. But last Sunday, I shot him; I hit him high; went through the backstraps.

JEFF: I shot Wrecking Ball about an hour and a half ago. I’ve got down out of the blind. This Redneck right back behind me. I was overlooking this Eagle Seed beans and, uh, backed out. Went and got a camera guy. We’re gonna go do the recovery now.

JEFF: I heard him fall back here, so we – I know he’s down. But, we’re gonna go ahead and track him just, just to be sure. So. There’s good blood on the beans there. There’s another here. Blood all through here. It’s a good blood trail.

JEFF: Those Deadmeats did a good job. Oh, here’s the arrow. Bloodsport ring is covered. Got bubbles in it, so I must’ve hit some lung.

JEFF: I heard him crash somewhere right in here. Dude. There he is right there. Oh, yes! Oh, dude. Oh, man. I’m speechless right now. I’ve worked so hard on this place.

JEFF: It’s been four and a half years since, since I’ve got my arms and hands around a set of antlers. I had a tough season last year and tonight I got lucky. He came out at 52 yards. I drilled him right where it needed to be. So, he didn’t go 60 yards and he’s down. I’m, I’m pumped. I’m really pumped. I couldn’t be happier right now.

GRANT: The Deadmeat left a great blood trail and an easy recovery.

GRANT: Congratulations, Jeff. Wrecking Ball is a great buck and your testimony to sticking it out and making good choices is a lesson we all can learn from.

GRANT: Here we are in late November and throughout most of the whitetails’ range, the peak of the rut has passed. During the past few weeks bucks have put on a lot of miles and burned a lot of calories.

GRANT: We recently posted a video on Facebook of a buck here at The Proving Grounds we have a lot of history with and are confident he’s six and a half years old. We call this buck Swoops and the video was of Swoops working one of our Code Blue scrapes. There were several comments on our Facebook page that Swoops wasn’t six and a half years old. The reason Swoops didn’t appear six and a half years old, in that video or this stage of the year, is because he’s lost so much weight.

GRANT: A few years ago, I tagged a buck we call Butterbean because he was so big and fat all summer. But when I tagged him, during the later portion of the rut, he only weighed 140 pounds.

GRANT: He’s been rutting hard. So, he’s lost a lot of weight from the summer picture.

GRANT: This is a great reason to use trail cameras to study bucks where you hunt. During the late season their body will change a lot versus the early season. But you can identify the rack and make a good decision whether to harvest or pass.

GRANT: (Whispering) I got him. Here we go.

DANIEL: (Whispering) That’s Trashman.

GRANT: (Whispering) Are you sure?

GRANT: Knowing this biology helps us adjust our hunting strategies for the late season. We’ll switch from focusing on bedding areas or travel zones associated with the rut to feeding areas and travel zones associated with high quality food. Bucks are seeking calories; they need to replenish them before the deep of winter sets in and focusing on food can be a key to late season success.

GRANT: But during the rut, I’m using rut hunting strategies. And for me, that means covering big bedding areas. Bucks are gonna be seeking does in those areas. And I will share with you – give you a little preview if you will – that Head Turner was using a bedding area where I was hunting.

GRANT: (Quietly) Get ready; get ready.

GRANT: We talk a lot about hunting strategies but there’s also good strategies for life. And the best strategy is to make sure you take time each day to slow down and enjoy Creation. And most importantly, be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.

GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.