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GRANT: It’s Christmas week, and I’ve got a lot to celebrate this year. Tracy, our daughters and the entire GrowingDeer Team are all healthy. My dad is responding very well to the chemotherapy and I’ve had a great year in the deer woods. But most importantly, I’m thankful that years ago Jesus Christ came to the Earth to forgive all of us of our sins. Without that tremendous gift, none of us would have much to be thankful for. This year, I hope you find the time to be quiet and be thankful for the real reason we celebrate Christmas.
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ADAM: Across much of the whitetails’ range, recent temperatures have been warmer than normal. This doesn’t mean deer will not be feeding, it just simply means they may alter their food of choice for this time of the year. One positive that we can take away from these mild temperatures is it’s great growing conditions for clover. We like to plant about 10 percent of our food plots in clover. This way, we can provide plenty of forage in the early spring, before the soybeans have been planted, plus, throughout the fall when it’s warm. When the conditions are favorable for clover, it grows rapidly, so it doesn’t take many acres to feed the deer herd, but when conditions are unfavorable, deer will most likely seek other food sources.
ADAM: So when temperatures are cold, deer will move to the grain where it’s available. These food sources provide the needed energy to stay warm during those cold days of the winter. This is an important lesson to remember. When weather conditions aren’t following their normal trends, we usually have to adjust our hunting strategy – just like the deer have adjusted to a different food source.
MATT: Knowing our clover was still growing and very green, Grant and I played a hunch, set out for our Summits overlooking Clover Mountain.
GRANT: (Whispering) It’s the afternoon of December 5th, and it’s pretty warm today. About 58 degrees. Got a face mask on, because we’re hunting close to where I think the deer are gonna come to the top of the mountain. We’re in a stand we call Clover Mountain, right on a mountain top, and it’s planted with clover. I expect if we see deer, it’ll be close to dark, because it’s so warm. Remember, we adjust our comfort level by adjusting the thermostat, or the clothes we wear. Deer adjust their comfort level by where they bed, or where they’re active, and what they eat. It’s too warm for deer to be seeking soybean pods, full of energy and building up heat, so I anticipate they’re gonna be feeding on clover, but close to dark.
MATT: That afternoon, temperatures were nearly 60 degrees. Great conditions for clover, so we had high expectations for that evenings hunt.
MATT: It didn’t take long for the deer start moving.
MATT: Grant and I could spot the silhouettes of some deer feeding on top of the ridge. We just hoped they’d get here before dark.
MATT: As the sun continued to set, the deer slowly but surely closed the distance.
GRANT: (Whispering) Two of them. Yep.
GRANT: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: (Whispering) That’s a nanny, isn’t it?
MATT: As the lead doe fed across the plot, she finally worked into range.
GRANT: (Whispering) You still good?
GRANT: (Whispering) I’d say bingo.
GRANT: (Whispering) I think she’s down.
GRANT: (Whispering) Did you hear her go down?
GRANT: (Whispering) 26 yards. That was a marathon. She ended up about 26 yards. I got the rangefinder on her, right before the shot. It looked good to me. Maybe a touch high. Certainly, wasn’t far back. It sounded good, sounded solid. So, we’ll get down here, as soon as this deer gets out of the field, check out the arrow, look at the blood on the arrow. But, I’m pretty sure I heard her go down and the shot looked good, so those two probably means some venison for the freezer.
GRANT: (Quietly) Okay. Just got to the arrow and there’s good blood all the way through. See how it’s just painted with blood all through here.
GRANT: Blood, blood, blood, blood up here. Good blood up here. Woo-hoo. I about went down. Good blood. Oh yeah.
GRANT: It’s amazing how your confidence can shoot up and shoot down so quick.
GRANT: There she is.
MATT: You got her?
GRANT: I got her.
MATT: All right (Inaudible).
GRANT: In the road, man. It doesn’t do any better than in the road. Thank you. Look at that. Just a little high on the entry. What a massive doe. My goodness.
GRANT: Post recovery I always like to reflect on why a hunt was successful. Today, when we left the truck, it was 58 degrees. I didn’t think deer would be on soybean grain, because soybean grain, of course, that’s soybean oil, high energy, and that’s what deer really like to eat when it’s cold. You see the shows when deer are out and blowing snow, and head down in the soybeans – but on a warm day like today, probably going for protein. We elected to hunt a plot called Clover Mountain. It’s planted with clover. And sure enough, just before dark we saw five or six deer pile out in it. This large doe presented a 26 yard shot and it ended up with about a 80 yard blood trail. Another ingredient to the success of this hunt was the wind was strong out of the southeast – about eight to nine miles an hour. We were able to approach the stand from the northwest. We thought the deer would be bedded on the far side, or the east side of the hill in the shade, because the warm temperature. I don’t know if that’s true, but Matt picked up these deer a little earlier – skylined ‘em through the timber on another food plot on top of the ridge. And it took – I don’t know – 30 minutes or longer for the deer to work down to our plot, and then, quite awhile for ‘em to work within range. Being patient and sitting motionless, remember, the best camo is a can of sit still. Don’t move and deer won’t pick you up. Putting the ingredients of management, having about 10 percent of our plots in clover, and hunting – knowing when to hunt where – resulted in a successful hunt.
GRANT: More back. More back.
ADAM: Having clover plots can increase the huntability of your property if you’re experiencing warm temperatures, like we’ve been having here in the Midwest.
MATT: Just as we suspected, the double lung shot, it was a little high. High to lows, but Havoc – the two inch cutting diameter – did a great job, passed through both of ‘em with ease.
ADAM: Shotgun season opened up December 5th in Iowa and Ryan and Rory were up early and in the field before daylight. The south/southeast wind was perfect for the Iowa shotgun opener.
ADAM: Right as dawn was breaking, a coyote popped up out of the creek bed.
RORY: (Whispering) On him?
RYAN: (Whispering) Yep.
ADAM: Although it’s opening morning, this coyote doesn’t get a pass. With fur prices super low this year, it’s up to land managers and hunters to keep the population in check. Although hunting coyotes is fun, an organized trapping program is the best way to keep the population under control.
ADAM: As the morning went on, Ryan and Rory heard gunshots in the neighboring property, as deer started to move through their area.
ADAM: After looking over the landscape, they spotted a buck bedded about 150 yards away. Although it’s tough to see, he’s broadside to Rory and he’s got a clear shot to his vitals.
RORY: (Whispering) You ready?
RYAN: (Whispering) Yeah.
ADAM: After a quick discussion with Ryan, Rory decides to take the shot.
RYAN: You got him.
RYAN: Get, get on him again.
RYAN: You on him?
RORY: (Whispering) Yeah.
RYAN: You nailed him.
RYAN: That was double lung right there.
RYAN: He went down. He’s down.
ADAM: Rory’s second shot found its mark and the buck was down.
RORY: (Whispering) My God! Not the greatest display of marksmanship, but I smoked him. Whew.
RORY: Oh man, look at how cool he is.
RORY: And there’s our coyote. Ah, a fawn killing machine right here, so happy to take these things out whenever we get a chance.
RORY: (Whispering) Look at that. It’s awesome, man.
RORY: (Whispering) Big heavy eight-pointer with all sorts of junk on the bottom and stuff. Nice gray face. Oh man. Thrilled. Absolutely thrilled. What a day.
ADAM: Congratulations fellas, on managing the predator population and harvesting a fine buck.
RORY: (Whispering) She’s down. I’m tagged out. Excited to go watch the other guys.
DANIEL: Glad we got that foot pedal, otherwise…
TRACY: I know.
DANIEL: …you’d be pushing that …
ADAM: With Grant’s recent doe harvest and the sound of Christmas bells, it’s time for one of our seasonal favorites – summer sausage.
ADAM: This process is very similar to how we’ve been making the jerky and the snack sticks, so we fire up the Big Bite Grinder and get our hands messy.
TRACY: Grant shot a doe this past weekend, so today, we’re gonna make some summer sausage. We’re going to run it through the grinder, mix it up with the seasoning mix, and stuff it in the fibrous casings. The instructions are well outlined on the LEM package. We’re going to be adding 20 percent pork and running it through the grinder, to mix ‘em together.
TRACY: We’re looking forward to making the summer sausage, because it’s Christmas, and it’s great for entertaining, and for giving as Christmas gifts.
TRACY: We’re doing 15 pounds of meat today, so we’re using three packages of the LEM seasoning, along with 15 ounces of water.
DANIEL: Smells good.
ADAM: Instead of using the Jerky Cannon this time, we attach the stuffing tube to the grinder and started filling up the casing.
TRACY: To get the casings ready for stuffing, we’ve soaked ‘em for 20 to 30 minutes in warm water. This is to get them more flexible, so that they’re easier to stuff.
TRACY: Is there a secret to this? Like less air bubbles, or packing it tight, or anything like that?
DANIEL: That’s easy. As you go….
DANIEL: …you’re gonna go really tight and you kind of work it. You’re gonna be putting constant pressure, pushing air out…
DANIEL: …as you go.
DANIEL: Glad we got that foot pedal, otherwise…
TRACY: I know.
DANIEL: …you’d be pushing that button off and on, off and on.
TRACY: We refrigerated the summer sausage overnight in the refrigerator. Now it’s time to put it in the oven. We’ll cook it at 180 degrees until it reaches an internal temperature of 165. You’ll notice that I use two different shelves, because of the amount of product we have. Throughout the time that it’s cooking, probably about 45 minutes into it, I’ll come and I’ll rotate the sausages.
ADAM: Another successful recipe, so we’ll certainly be sharing this venison summer sausage with family and friends throughout the Christmas season.
ADAM: Everyone here at GrowingDeer hopes you have a safe and wonderful Christmas holiday with family and friends, but please remember to take time and thank Christ, for He is the reason for the season. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.
ADAM: Okay. You sure? Let me do it. Dag gummit, Matt. Argh.
MATT: I’m trying to think, I’m sure that works, but you’re…
ADAM: Conditions aren’t following the normal trends. We’re gonna have to he, he…
ADAM: Before the soybeans have…I’m gonna get it. And it only takes a small amount of acreage to…all right, moving on. This is an important lesson to remember. (Laughter) You were distracting me.
ADAM: Ha, ha. When you were (Fades out).