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WOODS: You know, if you're ever just walking out through the woods, just really having an afternoon off and you stumble on a great shed, you just, you weren’t shed hunting. You just find it. What a tremendous gift. That’s like Christmas. Boy, we’re coming up on Christmas and I just wanted to slow down just a second and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. It’s when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You know, with all the hoopla and everything else, it’s easy to forget why we really have a Christmas, but I hope this year you'll join the Woods family and celebrate Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you’ve never really slowed down and thought about it, gosh, shoot me an email or talk to someone you know and think about the real reason we celebrate Christmas. I hope you and your family have a very safe and enjoyable Christmas. Merry Christmas.
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WOODS: Brad and I hunted a couple of nights ago and had a awesome encounter. Giant 10 is the biggest buck we know of on the property. And we had positioned ourselves in a stand that had only been hunted twice before at the very east end of Big Boom field. Big Boom is a brand new food plot. We dozed it out last winter. I killed a turkey in there this spring with my bow; planted soybeans in there this summer. We shimmied out through there, got up in a tree, boy just thinking, “This is going to be great.” And we didn’t see a thing for the longest time.
WOODS: A little bit later, sure enough, a yearling buck comes up. You know, how yearling bucks are. “Shoot me, shoot me, shoot me.” Cuts a half circle around the stand, but no big bucks. It was exciting. I always love seeing deer and I love calling and deer responding to it, but I’m not going to make venison out of a yearling buck right now.
WOODS: There’s always that difficult decision whether to get down right before dark when you're not seeing anything, so you don’t make any noise and you can get out a little cleaner. Or wait ‘til pitch black and when you're undoing the camera and the tripods and everything, you're gonna make a little bit more noise and have flashlights going everywhere. So, there we are starting to disassemble and I look over and as soon as I look over, I know it’s a shooter. And this deer comes in, 17 yards away; stands right in a shooting lane at 17 yards and it’s Giant 10. He’s wide, tall and massive. He’s everything. Unbelievable buck. And there we are, disassembling stuff; hands everywhere; and I’ll be doggone if the biggest buck on our property, Giant 10, the biggest buck we know of after, gosh 100,000 photos, literally, comes trolling by at 17 yards. See him about 50, 60 yards out, comes in slow – stop-go-stop-go. Doesn’t know we’re in the world, crosses two shooting lanes at 17 yards or less. Camera couldn’t pick it up. Brad was telling me, “I can’t see anything. I can't see anything. I can’t see anything.” It just wasn’t meant to be. You know, three years we’ve been trying to pattern that buck. We’ve never laid our eyes on him. You notice a 160, 170 inch or bigger deer. I mean, he’s got it all. He’s tall, wide and massive. What more do you want?
WOODS: First time we’ve got to see him. That’s beautiful. Oh, just needed a few more minutes of light. I’m cold, going to the house to have some warm supper. I’ll probably dream about this tonight. I’m going to be back out here soon.
WOODS: Biggest buck I’ve personally seen on this property. We have images of that deer for the last couple of years, but I’ve never seen him in person and there he is, big as a barn. 17 yards, broadside. Doesn’t know we’re in the world. We let him walk off. We must love our viewers a lot because it would have been easy to tag that deer and do the dance, but you wouldn’t have been part of it.
WOODS: The stand is looking south. We had a south wind blowing in our face. We’re up, we’re good, we’re pretty quiet. Not too long after we’re there, Brad spots three bobcats. So, I do the mew mew mew, trying to get those cats in. The biggest one started, but either they saw us or something was happening and they just turned around and continued hunting with the other two cats.
WOODS: I don’t like missing opportunities to take a predator out but it wasn’t meant to be for a reason this morning. And then just a little later, I notice three deer to my left. I don't know, 60, 70 yards come into the food plot and they're loud. They're crunching beans, they're moving around. They're clearly fawns. They don’t have a care in the world. Ends up being two button bucks and one female fawn. I love to see female fawns this time of year because they usually become receptive later. And I’ve also got something else in the back of my mind. Last year on December 11th, we got more pictures of mature bucks during the daylight than any other day last year. December 11th. Bucks were moving, fighting, cruising – December 11th last year. I made a note on my calendar. “Be sure to be in the tree next year. December 11th.” I’ve got to be gone tomorrow and I think Brad and Adam will probably be hunting, but December 10th is mighty close. So we were up there and a female fawn decoy is out in front of us. And they're just, they're all around. They bed down. They're all around. You can hear ‘em crunching. Just see ‘em eating the soybeans. I love it. And then, I just looked up to my right, maybe 150 yards, and I see five more deer. Eight deer at once at The Proving Grounds. That’s almost unheard of and I heard Brad say, “buck.” I’d been waiting for the word “buck” all morning long.
WOODS: But it turns out a good two, really good two or three year old. It wasn’t on our Hit List. And we got to watch it and it comes in and I told Brad I had heard some grunting down in the woods and it’s sure enough grunting kind of softly and starts pestering one of the fawns and they're in the field and in the woods and in the field and finally get down in the woods, 60, 70 yards behind us. Gosh, deer movement everywhere. One doe is a little crippled. She’s got a bad leg. A lot of great observations so that morning we saw three bobcats, saw a total of 15 deer in the food plots simultaneously. That is huge for us.
WOODS: (Whispering) Great morning. We just sat tight because you know, we had the scent of 15 deer here. And we had just seen Big 10, Giant 10 right at the end of the field. Pictures on that end of the field the other morning. So, he’s in the neighborhood, but he didn’t show today. I’m still pumped up about seeing 15 deer here at The Proving Grounds at one setting.
WOODS: All right, folks, so let’s talk about this rut and cycle of the rut a little bit. Here’s how it works based on conception date data. When I say conception date data, it’s where we harvest does really late in the year, depending on the state or have a permit or whatever, and we pull the fetuses out and we actually measure those fetuses. My good friend, Joe Hamilton, he’s the founder of the Quality Deer Management Association. He’s a tremendously skilled whitetail biologist. As part of Joe’s research early on, he harvested does at different times in captivity and he knew the day they were bred, so he knew how many days that fetus had been developing and he developed a scale or a ruler for the age of the fetus at a certain length. Tremendous tool and you ought to have one if you don’t; if you're a serious deer manager. So we’ve taken literally thousands of fetuses throughout my career and other biologists’ career and we’ve determined that what happens during the rut is a few does will come receptive early. Maybe in October, depending on where you are, and then more and more will build up and that’s what everyone kind of calls the rut and really hopes they're out there hunting and got their vacation days. And it tapers off and then there’s usually a second little peak. And that second peak may or may not show up and it’s dependent upon fawns, primarily. Now, white-tailed fawns, once they reach about 70 pounds on average, will reach puberty or become receptive. So not all fawns will reach 70 pounds. In areas with poor habitat, maybe only five or ten percent of the fawns will breed their first season. Here at The Proving Grounds, I don't know because we don’t harvest any fawns to really get the data from, but I’m gonna say 25 to 30% at minimum, because we’ve got a lot of really good food plots. They're well fertilized. And up in Iowa or places where there’s ag fields, gosh, 60, 70 and even 80 percent have been recorded. You can build a population quick because that’s the biggest number of females. Of course, more die as they get older and older, so when you’ve got 80% of one age class breeding, and reproducing and another area, none of ‘em are reproducing, you can see why herds grow so fast in agricultural areas. And they have to have a large doe harvest. So, again, you’ve got a few come receptive, builds up to that peak, tapers down as, some people might call it a second rut. I really don’t. It’s just the fawns coming in. Here’s another peak out here and that depends on when they reach that magical 70 pounds. So, if you’ve got a tight breeding frame the year before, most of your female fawns are going to reach 70 pounds in the same week or so and it can be a lot of activity. I think that’s what we’re seeing here at The Proving Grounds. Last year, we had that flurry of activity. Right now, we’re having a flurry of activity. I tell you what. I’m gonna do some more field research. Hey, I hope you join me in the research. I hope you really enjoy Creation this week. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.