This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: It’s mixed emotions, you know? Part of me says, “Boy, I hope I get to wear these light pants cuz it’d be a lot more comfortable.” And the other part says, “Boy, I sure I hope I don’t get to wear light pants cuz deer will be moving better.”
WES: I hope you freeze. (Chuckling)
GRANT: Thanks, Wes.
GRANT: This is the time of year throughout most of the whitetails’ range when bucks are cruising looking for the first receptive does. They're using scrapes more frequently now than throughout the rest of the year and they're very responsive to grunt calls.
GRANT: I really prefer hunting here at The Proving Grounds during the early and late season. During those times of the year, bucks are pretty much on a food, cover, food, cover pattern. And if you know the area, you can find the bottlenecks in between and have great hunts.
GRANT: But during the pre-rut and rut, bucks usually use more of their home range and they're not on a food, cover pattern. They're looking for receptive does. And their movements aren’t as predictable. That’s a great time to take a suitcase hunt. I call a suitcase hunt when you travel and go somewhere else.
GRANT: Because bucks are moving more, you don’t have to know the area quite as intimately to have success.
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GRANT: This year Daniel and I were blessed to have an invitation and join our good friend, Richard Hale, and hunt his farm in Kansas. You may recall that Richard joined us on GrowingDeer and shared some great tips on how to estimate a buck’s score in the field.
GRANT: What’s the first thing you're thinking?
RICHARD: I’m looking at a big, mature deer with, what I consider, a large set of antlers. You don’t, you don’t see anything wrong with it. Um, so, you, you throw out a number. You're gonna say…
GRANT: Richard’s also a great deer and habitat manager. So hunting Richard’s farm is like going to school because he’s got a lot of great information to share and hunting a really well-managed property.
GRANT: This is – a lot of this is oak; this is just ate up with tracks out here. It’s like divots.
GRANT: I’ve hunted with Richard before and tagged two nice bucks, so I’m somewhat familiar with the lay of the land at his farm.
GRANT: Four out (Inaudible) four or five places (Inaudible)…
GRANT: Both of the bucks I tagged there were near a small native grass field that has a pond towards one edge. The pond serves as a great bottleneck for deer to either go above or below.
GRANT: When Daniel and I arrived, we started walking the edge of that small, native grass field and found several fresh scrapes, lots of scat and tracks.
GRANT: We decided not to scout anymore – there was no need of disturbing the area – and go hang a stand by the pond.
GRANT: The wind was forecast to be out of the south the next couple of days. To make it even better, there’s a drainage right behind the tree where we’re gonna hang in. So with a south wind and cool temperatures, our scent would go right down that drain. We can approach, hunt and exit without alerting most deer.
GRANT: When we started hunting, it was a fairly cold, cloudy afternoon with a good southern wind.
GRANT: (Whispering) It’s Halloween afternoon and Daniel and I are in Kansas at one of my friend’s property and he’s an excellent deer and habitat manager. We’ve hunted here in the past and I've tagged some nice bucks – actually within a few hundred yards of right here.
GRANT: (Whispering) Daniel and I did just a little bit of scouting because I’ve hunted here in the past. We didn’t want to disturb the area. We saw enough sign; the wind’s right. So, we hunted this corner of the little area. We can see two or three or four acres. So, hopefully, if we see a buck – even out of range – I can hit the Messenger grunt call; he’ll respond; give us a shot. I am super excited about this set.
GRANT: It wasn’t long until Daniel spotted the first deer in the edge of the timber.
GRANT: (Whispering) That’s a bedding area up there on the hill. He’s cut it and it’s real thick up in there.
GRANT: As those deer entered the native grass field, we were in for another surprise. It started snowing.
GRANT: (Whispering) Trick or treat.
GRANT: It was cold outside, but I was fired up on the inside because I knew that cold front this time of year would probably result in increased daytime activity.
GRANT: We were watching deer and Daniel said he still heard something in the timber. It was a large group of turkeys.
GRANT: Right at dark, another doe stepped into the field. This hunt was off to a great start.
GRANT: The next morning, the wind was forecast to be out of the south again, so we returned to the same stand.
GRANT: Right at daybreak, Daniel saw another deer headed our way. It was a yearling buck.
GRANT: This buck worked a scrape only yards from our stand.
GRANT: Sure enough, the pond funneled this buck right in front of our stand and it was really fun to watch him.
GRANT: It’s a good start to the day but we’re looking for a mature buck.
GRANT: It was a very pleasant, cool morning. And Daniel and I were enjoying watching the critters work the area.
GRANT: I wanted to see how this buck would respond to the Messenger, so I pulled it out and gave a grunt.
GRANT: It was incredible how this buck heard the grunt, pinpointed the source of the sound and was headed our way. It appeared this buck had some hay bale twine on his right antler.
GRANT: This buck walked within 20 yards of our stand. What a cool encounter.
GRANT: The following morning, Daniel and I returned to the same set by the pond. You may be curious about us hunting the same tree, but you can hunt the same place over and over as long as your approach, hunt and exit is not alerting deer.
GRANT: If the conditions are the same and you're not alerting deer, it’s fine to hunt the same area. But if the conditions shift or you're getting busted, you probably need to leave that area and find another set.
GRANT: (Whispering) November 2nd and our second morning in Kansas. It’s totally different conditions today. It’s been cold and crisp when we’ve been here. And now it’s foggy and warmer. We’ll see if that changes deer activity. We’re in the same stand where Daniel and I have been hunting and we’ve had some good encounters – but not with the buck we’re looking for. Hopefully, today, we’ll get one to pass this area or respond to the grunt call and provide a shot.
GRANT: Early during the morning, Daniel spotted some does through the dense fog. They made their way through the native grass and headed to the pond.
GRANT: It was cool watching these does, totally undisturbed, get a drink and mill around the area.
GRANT: Not long after the does passed, we spotted a young buck cruising the edge of the field.
GRANT: This buck was headed in the opposite direction, so I was curious if he’d respond to the Messenger.
GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: I used the grunt call and this buck turned, headed our way.
GRANT: Within a couple days, we had watched bucks respond to the call, change their path and come within bow range. That’s an exciting hunt.
GRANT: This is why I consider a quality grunt call one of the most important tools to take in the deer woods.
GRANT: There was obviously a lot of deer activity in this area, but the forecast was for a shift in wind direction that afternoon, so Daniel and I decided to scout a different portion of the farm.
GRANT: Bottlenecks are critical to bow hunters because we’re trying not only to see deer, but see ‘em within a reasonable shot distance – 20, 30, 40 yards. Bottlenecks are critical but tough to find in timber country. We often look for steep ravines, maybe river crossings or something like that.
GRANT: In ag country – a lot of times, bottlenecks, or drainage ditches, gaps in a fence, the edge of a field or something that constricts their travel to a narrow area.
GRANT: As Daniel and I were scouting the east end of the farm, we found one of these bottlenecks – a narrow band of hardwood timber that came out of a bedding area heading to an ag field.
GRANT: Travel hunts are often hang and hunt, meaning you hang the stand and hunt it an hour or two later. And that’s exactly what Daniel and I did.
GRANT: (Whispering) It’s November 2nd and the third afternoon of our hunt here in Kansas. The wind has totally shifted so we’ve moved stands. We’re now in a little hardwood drain going out to a feeding area with a bedding area behind us. There’s a fresh scrape right over here about 20 yards and one over here about 15 or 20 yards. It looks like a natural travel corridor. I’ve never hunted here, set here; we’re just scouting and hanging. Let’s see how it pans out.
GRANT: Not long after we settled in the stands and finished our interviews, we saw deer entering one of the fields.
GRANT: We watched several young bucks nearby, including one youngster that snuck in and worked a scrape about 20 yards away.
GRANT: This is why I’m a huge fan of using mock scrapes. We can create a scrape using a Code Blue synthetic, then deer take it over. And we can even abandon it after that – deer will keep using the scrape. And that scrape creates a bottleneck this time of year. That is the pinch point. Deer are coming to that scrape. And that’s the magic of making mock scrapes.
GRANT: There was now several deer out in a large plot and I was watching them, I noticed a buck that had an impressive set of antlers.
GRANT: (Whispering) That back one looks like it has a big body. Good buck. Now he’s chasing now.
GRANT: This buck was several hundred yards away, but all the sudden, he started walking in our direction.
GRANT: (Whispering) He didn’t hear me, did he?
GRANT: He was closing the distance but before he was anywhere near shooting range, he turned and started checking out some does.
GRANT: Watching this buck is probably a great example of why decoys work in these setups. That buck came a long ways to check out some other does. He probably would have done the same if there had been a doe decoy set in the edge of the field.
DANIEL: Wow. Our Kansas hunt didn’t disappoint. We saw tons of deer but, unfortunately, a mature buck didn’t hit the ground. Hopefully, we can return soon.
DANIEL: Back in Missouri champion caller, James Harrison, and his son, Cody, were on doe patrol.
JAMES: (Whispering) Good morning, everybody. We’re down here in the, uh, slugger hole this morning. Trying to get a tag on a deer. Got a light frost this morning. Light wind. Should be a great morning. We already had one deer come past us before shooting light. Skirted beside us. So, um, sounds like the deer are on their feet and moving, so we’re gonna see what happens. Stay tuned.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
JAMES: (Whispering) That was a good hang right there. I was sitting here and Cody told me there was some does coming. And, uh, they did perfect. They came right underneath the stand – right downwind from us. Actually, came right in.
JAMES: (Whispering) It was two yearlings and a big doe. And we waited ‘til that big doe got out here in front of us. She was about 25 yards. Um, the ole, uh, Montecs and the, uh, Bloodsports did their job.
JAMES: (Whispering) She went down right over there. We heard her crash. So, that’s a good hang, dude.
JAMES: (Whispering) I think the Blood Ring is telling us we got good blood. I mean it’s covered. That was a complete pass through at about 25 yards.
JAMES: (Quietly) All righty. We’re here with the doe. Tracked her showing about 80 yards. Big ole doe. She’s good and healthy. Nothing wrong. Uh, she came into the stand and she was quartering away from me a little bit. And we were probably 22 feet up in the tree. She was about 20 yards down off the hill. So, all together, we were way up above her. So, a shot went in a little high and quartering out, it came out right through the heart and lung. Perfect shot. Everything was good. She didn’t go very far at all. So, uh, she’s a big ole doe. She’s already got some pee on her hocks down there, so definitely pre-rut’s getting, getting going on stuff like this. And, uh.
JAMES: Just a big ole healthy doe. I’m, uh, blessed to be able to be out here with my son and get this on video and have a good time. And, uh, the Lord blessed us today ‘cause we’re gonna have a lot of meat in the freezer.
DANIEL: Not only can Cody run a camera but he’s great at dragging deer.
DANIEL: Congratulations to James and Cody on a great meat and management hunt.
GRANT: I hope there’s a cold front headed your way and you have time to get outside and enjoy Creation. But most importantly, take time every day to slow down, be quiet – don’t be distracted – and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.