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GRANT: It was a great week here at The Proving Grounds. A cold front passed and deer were certainly on their feet. I was able to get out and launch a couple arrows. Even more importantly, I was reminded of the freedom I have to go hunting – pretty much any time I want. And that freedom has been protected by the many men and women that have served in our Armed Forces. This week, as we celebrate Veterans Day, take a moment and thank everyone you see that’s served our great nation. Veterans, I want to thank you.
GRANT: As we roll into November, deer activity should be increasing. Research clearly shows that bucks move many more miles during the rut, compared to other times of the year. But that doesn’t mean they move way further and go all through the county, but it means they actually travel more within their home range. It’s a great time to be deer hunting.
GRANT: Just last week, Pro Staffer Heath Martin was in Kansas with a cold front sweeping across the Midwest. Heath tagged a mature buck that responded to a grunt call and we felt that was a great sign of things to come here at The Proving Grounds.
HEATH: That’s what it’s all about right here. Killing big, mature deer. He is old. Look at the mass. He’s probably got a six inch mass measurements right there at the bases.
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GRANT: During the morning of October 25th, Adam and Matt hunted here at The Proving Grounds in a small opening in the middle of a timber. They were hoping a hit list buck would be passing by.
ADAM: (Whispering) October the 25th. This morning, we’ve got a calm wind. It’s supposed to pick up mid-morning, but right now it’s only about five miles an hour. It’s coming, hitting us right in the face, going up the mountain. But we’re in this little bitty staging area, almost a little opening in the woods. Got a lot of thick cover around us. A lot of the does have been passing through here and they’ve been showing up on our Reconyx camera. It’s the time of year where a lot of bucks are starting to cruise. A lot of the younger bucks are starting to pester those does, so the does are gonna go and bed in your cover and trying to hide from those pesky bucks. That’s why we’re set up here this morning.
GRANT: Not long into the hunt, they heard leaves crunching and spotted antlers working through the timber.
ADAM: (Whispering) Just a good looking, good looking deer, but he was three. And to kill a mature deer, you gotta pass bucks just like that, so. Whew, that was a good deer.
GRANT: This encounter was a great reminder that if your goal is to allow bucks to express most of their antler growth potential, you need to pass those three year old bucks. Even though that was the only buck they saw during their hunt, it was great to see bucks on their feet patrolling the area during mid-morning.
GRANT: Based on that encounter, and all the scrape behavior our Reconyx cameras have been picking up, we felt that the current conditions were best for morning hunts.
GRANT: The next day, Daniel and I headed to a stand we call Kingpin. We chose that stand because there was an easterly wind and we can approach that stand from the west with the wind right in our face. In addition, there were a lot of acorns falling in the area.
GRANT: About 30 minutes after light, the first doe appeared on the far edge of the food plot.
GRANT: (Whispering) Several weeks ago, we built a mock scrape in the middle of the food plot. It’s about 30 yards away. Ideal location for a shot.
GRANT: It wasn’t long until a group of does appeared at the far end of the food plot and this time, they were on a v-line toward our stand.
GRANT: (Whispering) Daniel, if you're on it.
GRANT: Oftentimes, when a doe group is traveling through the timber, the lead doe will be the largest and most mature.
GRANT: (Whispering) It looked like a big doe; gave me a great shot at 20 yards, so put a little freezer meat down. Gonna stay in the stand because it’s pre-rut. Hopefully, we can get a big buck to match that doe.
GRANT: There was no reason to get out of the stand just because I tagged that doe. Based on my experience, other deer don’t shun away from areas where a deer has recently been killed.
GRANT: It wasn’t long until I had another observation to support that as we saw more antlerless deer and a young buck coming through the woods.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: During late October, even when I see a young buck chasing a doe, it makes my heart start to race.
GRANT: (Whispering) Here comes another one.
GRANT: After a few grunt calls, Daniel and I heard deer running. It was the same male and female fawn and young buck pursuing them. But what we didn’t know was another deer was following them.
GRANT: (Whispering) Are you on it? Are you on it, Daniel?
DANIEL: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: (Whispering) He’s down. He’s down. This is – I’m trying to hold this together. My dad is, uh, diagnosed about a month ago with stage four Lymphoma. And as the saying goes, he’s literally ate up with cancer from here to here. And I’m leaving in, Wednesday, two days from now to take him back to the Mayo Clinic for a second round of chemo. The first round was pretty rough. I had just a couple mornings to hunt before I go up there. Of course, my dad’s my number one priority. And I was praying I’d have a good hunt before I got to go – not just for the show – but to give my dad and I, some, you know, something to talk about and something to take the focus off the cancer. I am so thankful for all the cards and prayers y'all have sent my family. And those prayers warm my family and I up more than the sun shining right now. I’m very appreciative.
GRANT: (Whispering) That’s the pre-rut. It can happen so fast. We were really enjoying – I was really enjoying – watching the button buck and doe fawn and really nice young buck with a lot of character. He was right here behind us. Daniel couldn’t quite turn at first because they were – they weren’t alert to us – they were just alert because of the chase and the wind was constant, good. And our scent was working great – our scent control – and the young buck come through. I didn’t even worry about the bow. It was obviously a immature buck, and. And I looked down and saw those antlers, the bases, the basal, the first thing I saw was the bases ‘cause of the leaves. And then as it got through the leaves, I could see that chest and neck and big scar on the back where it’d been fighting. I said, “I’m zipping that bad boy if we get a chance.” I couldn’t tell if I hit the off shoulder ‘cause it was loud when I shot. Did you hear how loud it was? I thought maybe I hit the – I wasn’t worried about it – I thought maybe I hit the off shoulder at that angle. But I could see the arrow or something right through the – right behind the shoulder.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: (Whispering) As he was turning – right when he went in the woods out there.
GRANT: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an arrow any more painted than that one. Goodness, gracious. That is – you can barely see the white on the BloodSport and it’s just heavy, heavy, heavy blood. This is a white fletching here. The BloodSport on this side, these are all white letters and they're just totally, totally saturated with blood. Totally covered. Fletching – stem to stern, so.
MATT: You got blood here. I don't know if you…
GRANT: That’s the buck. That’s,
GRANT: Yeah, that’s a lot of blood right there.
MATT: Here, here.
GRANT: Here, here, here, here. This thing, (inaudible) trouble following this one. It’s got a….there’s blood right there.
GRANT: Blood right here, here, here, here, here, here, here.
UNKNOWN: Lots of blood.
GRANT: She veered this way somewhere, but I’m not sure.
GRANT: Whoo. Look at that big ole’ body. Well, let’s go look at this. Someone lay something down on our last blood here.
GRANT: Big bases. Big body. No doubt about the body. Big ole shoulders. I am thrilled with that rascal.
GRANT: Look at that chest. I mean, you, just…
GRANT: Look here – look at how far that is. Look at those bases. No doubt that bad boy was mature. I mean, look at that. Oh yeah. I am thrilled with that. Right there. Popped that – it’s through the shoulder. Just didn’t punch through the skin. I can feel the shoulder being all – I can feel the hole through the bone right there. That’s worthy of celebration. I am thankful.
GRANT: It truly was an exceptional morning. Daniel and I saw deer about every 30 minutes – give or take or so. A fun hunt. And I’d taken a doe earlier on, but when this come out, the first thing I saw was bases – just the angle I could see from my side of the stand. And then I saw this full chest and neck and I knew I was launching an arrow.
GRANT: (Chuckling) Lots and lots of character to this buck. Scarred up all over. Behind the head. Obviously some non-typical points. Blind in one eye. As a matter of fact, that was part of this buck’s name. Beautiful coloration up here. I am super proud of this mature buck.
GRANT: This hunt is a great example of strategy and patience. We determined what deer are feeding on. We knew the wind direction and was able to pick a stand to capitalize on that information.
GRANT: Yeah. I’m thinking that’s the buck. There’s blood, blood. But we need….
MATT: There’s blood here. (Inaudible)
GRANT: Mercy. You had to run a long ways, didn’t ya?
ADAM: Yeah. All the way to the bottom.
GRANT: Just for the interns.
MATT: Wow. That’s the exit there?
GRANT: That’s the exit and that’s the entrance. Look at the slice on that entrance. Man, that is a huge hole.
GRANT: Just recovered a doe I shot before the buck. That’s an important lesson. Just because you harvest a deer doesn’t mean you need to get out of the stand. We stayed put and it resulted in a nice, mature buck after we’d shot the doe.
GRANT: We trailed the doe about four times or more further than the buck. She made it all the way to the creek bottom. Glad the interns are here to pull her out. The reason she made it further is this shot was seven or eight inches higher and it just simply takes longer for deer to expire when they're hit high in the lungs versus low.
GRANT: We’ve had an intern program for literally about 20 years. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Matt, Nate and Kyle. We do a lot of work just to focus on educational aspects and teaching. Today is a little bit more on physical fitness (Laughter) as we take this doe to the top of the mountain. Lecture is over and the lab has started.
GRANT: I would suggest you drag with the hair. I think you can just go two on, one off and then trade. We’re going that way. I would go that way.
GRANT: What an awesome hunt it was for Daniel and I. We were able to take a mature doe, a hit list buck and be blessed with a wonderful experience.
GRANT: When we recovered the deer, Adam recognized him as one of our hit list bucks called Blind 8.
GRANT: Later, we had time to study all of the Reconyx pictures of Blind 8 and it was easy to see that he spent all his time primarily on two ridges – the one where I tagged him and the one ridge to the north. There was one time when he ventured a little bit further north, but basically stayed in a relatively small range. More importantly, all the past pictures of this buck were during the nighttime instead of for the previous week when we had two daytime pictures.
GRANT: If you're hunting an area like I do that has a lot of pressure on this land and even the neighboring properties, cold fronts tend to be the name of the game. That’s the primary factor that will get a deer up and moving during daylight hours.
KYLE: Walk much?
GRANT: We had yet to hunt this set up until the afternoon before and the morning I tagged Blind 8. Limiting hunting pressure until the conditions are right is a key factor in harvesting mature deer.
GRANT: I like to hunt a lot so I can't just wait for a cold front to pass to go hunting. But I can always work hard to pick the stand where my presence will cause the least disturbance to the local deer herd.
GRANT: It was neat to see Blind 8 respond to the grunt call. The young bucks out in the plot. I hit the grunt just to see how (Inaudible) would respond and hear footsteps coming. That’s pretty much a hunter’s dream.
ADAM: Number four.
GRANT: We’ve been tweaking on grunt calls from the summer ‘til now. We watch all the footage we get, including our Reconyx footage, of bucks grunting and we’re really trying to figure out the rhythm of tone of wild free ranging bucks.
DANIEL: Watch out for that broadhead.
DANIEL: Well, this morning Grant shot Blind 8 – a mature buck. And the Havoc – as soon as he made the shot, we both knew that he’d hit the off side shoulder. Once we caped it out, we actually found the Havoc was still lodged in the shoulder, doing its job. And we’re very pleased.
GRANT: Blind 8 certainly wasn’t the largest antlered buck on our hit list. In fact, the three year old that Adam passed probably had larger antlers than Blind 8. But Blind 8 had one thing – he was four years old, he’d expressed most of his antler growth potential and he provided a great opportunity.
GRANT: Youth season opened in Missouri recently and my youngest daughter, Rae, said she wanted to take a buck larger than the one she tagged last year.
RAE: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) Ready when you are.
GRANT: Stay tuned and we’ll let you know if Rae accomplished her goal.
GRANT: I hope you have a chance to get outside and enjoy Creation this week, but most importantly, I hope you take time to be quiet every day, slow down, and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.com.