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GRANT: It’s Sunday afternoon, March 20th. A gorgeous afternoon and I’m tired but happy, because we just finished our annual shed hunt, here at The Proving Grounds. We had folks show up from Kansas, Michigan, Georgia, Texas, and almost every state in between. It was a great chance for me to share and learn from people that love white-tailed deer.
GRANT: Gonna go down, and it is steep, and we’re gonna go up, and we’re gonna go to some bedding areas, and you’ll come to a creek, and when you hit the creek, just start funneling to your left, so you can’t get lost.
GRANT: First afternoon, people are arriving via the airport, or driving in from all over. About half of ‘em arrive in time to get a walk in that first afternoon. Brad had selected a very steep route. I guess kind of a trial. Can you cut the mustard, or not, at The Proving Grounds? Steep hill up, down another into a creek bottom, with the objective of finding one of, or both, of Pitchfork’s sheds.
GRANT: You know what that is? Want you to feel it and tell me what’s kind of odd about it.
UNKNOWN: It’s light?
GRANT: Very light. Why would something be real light? What’s an advantage to being light?
UNKNOWN: Be able to climb trees.
GRANT: That’s one thought. What’s, what’s even higher than trees?
GRANT: Being able to fly. You don’t want to be heavy and fly, do you?
GRANT: Went up that hill and I’m like, “How do you not see us? Is he lost, or what?” We’re all sitting here watching…
UNKNOWN: What’s that?
UNKNOWN: Find it way – when we first started, it was just up on a hillside a little bit.
GRANT: Look at that. I know this guy, too. Anyone recognize this from the videos? Who this is? It’s a very famous deer on our place. Very old. Look at the size of that base. That’s Mr. Pitchfork and he’s on the way downhill. I estimate he’s at least seven and a half. Smart rascal. So I’ve been trying to get him for four years and he lives right there where we were. That’s really bad, when you know where they live, you know ‘em by name, and I’ve never seen this deer in person. Not one time, have I ever seen this deer in person.
GRANT: Now, Pitchfork is a buck that’s at least seven and a half years old, based on our camera data. I’ve never seen him with my eyes, but lots of Reconyx pictures. Now, it’s not a lot of inches to brag about, but the biology is so cool in that Pitchfork, of course, was born to a momma that was here, probably, before I bought the property. It was all fescue pasture and closed canopy hardwoods – no nutrition. So Pitchfork’s mom couldn’t give very good milk, not a lot of high quality milk, just like cattle, or even humans born in third world countries with no nutrition, they can’t express their potential.
GRANT: Do we have a head count, so we don’t leave someone out here overnight?
GRANT: Come all the way up to Hidey Hole 2. You can turn around and get pointed back to Hidey Hole 2.
GRANT: Everyone was so pumped up, after finding Pitchfork, we decided to do a second walk on Friday afternoon, and right off the bat, we found a couple of skulls with the bottom jaw. Now, finding the bottom jaw’s great, cause I get to get an estimate of age and correlate that to rack size. This is also just a great time to explain to all the attendees natural mortality is gonna occur, if you allow many bucks to live through the older age classes. You know if you got a lot of bucks, you’re gonna find a couple, cause 10 percent adds up through a lot of age classes. You may also have bucks like Tracy found here that may have been there a year or two, based on the evidence, and the burn scars on the back. This buck shed had been there through at least one prescribed fire, so…
GRANT: After two long walks, everybody’s ready for a hardy supper, which we already had planned at one of the hotels here in Branson. But more than supper, great visiting and great prizes. Man, the GrowingDeer.tv sponsors stepped up to the plate in a big way. A lot of prizes the first night; a lot of laughing, but people knew there were even bigger prizes the second night, so we were off to bed fairly early, to get some rest, cause we were on a mission to find Giant 10’s antlers.
GRANT: Saturday morning. Unbelievable. Everybody’s up and on time, cause I set the whistle. We’re in the truck at eight o’clock. We’re pouring out at eight with a slight chance of rain. Coolers of water and soda pop. People are hanging out the back, spirits are high, cause we’re going shed hunting.
UNKNOWN: (Inaudible) back. (Inaudible) back.
GRANT: But while we’re all fresh, I wanted everyone to go to the core area of Giant 10. I wanted the maximum amount of people, cause this is tough country to find this shed in. Looking, happy, focused, concentrated – because my mission for the whole shed hunt was to find both sides of Giant 10.
GRANT: We’ve got everyone? We are going to go off this way. All the way back to that road where we turned and come up. All the way through the big creek. When you come to a big creek, that you want to get wet crossing, then you’ve went far enough, and then, just walk back up this way, along …(Fades Out)
GRANT: We’ve got kids, and children, and moms, and dogs. It’s like the circus coming to town. There’s no doubt in my mind, we spooked every deer, for a moment, out of Giant 10’s core area. But that’s okay. I warned everyone it would take about an hour, because this is very steep, rough, with cliffs in it, topography.
GRANT: I’m going through there. I see people. I don’t see people. I hear, “Hey, I got one,” every now and then, and “Ah, watch out,” and “Man, I found a basketball.” I don’t know how a basketball got in there.
GRANT: We’re going down, and I’m about the middle of the pack that makes it to the pickups on the other end. Almost an hour later, some guys are looking at some nice racks. You know, nothing major. My heart’s sinking a little bit, because I’m not hearing anyone with the amount of excitement that Giant 10 would garner from someone who just found one shed.
GRANT: (Inaudible) holler right here. That’s in that book. Written in 1905.
GRANT: Finally turned and give Raleigh a full look.
GRANT: Awesome book. Awesome book.
GRANT: What you got, girl? Oh my.
GRANT: And I’m introduced to Giant 10. Now, I was in disbelief, at the time. What are the chances of finding a matched set of what you think’s one of the biggest bucks on your property in an area where you think he beds? Does it really happen outside of fairyland? Giant 10, ladies and gentleman. I was in disbelief, but when Brad checked the trail camera pictures on the laptop, unequivocally – all 160 and 7/8 inches, measured by my friend Richard Hale, an official Boone and Crockett scorer on this shed hunt – Giant 10. He was bedding where we thought he would; he was living where we were predicted he would, in a bedding area we cut and made just for big bucks. I got to tell you, the success of finding these is almost as good as a silly grip and grin of harvesting Giant 10. And you can’t imagine how I feel for next year. Giant 10’s core area is small. His pattern is as we predicted. We know more about him, now, than we’ve ever known. Will he stay this big? Is he four? Is he five? Is he six? Is he going downhill? We won’t know ‘til 2011, but this is one thing we know – Lord willing – I’ll be finding out, and I’ll keep you posted, because Giant 10 is my number one hit list buck for 2011, just based on finding these sheds.
GRANT: I was really pleased at a couple of things: how many great sheds we found and how many people found sheds.
GRANT: Now, there were some standouts. So, I got to tell you, Tracy and my daughter, Raleigh, each found a minimum of three each. Yeah, that gives me pride, no doubt. My 12 year old daughter out there walking steep hills, being part of the team, and got an eye for sheds. How many did the old man find? Well, we won’t talk about that, but let’s just say Raleigh skunked her dad a lot.
GRANT: Show us what you got, cause you’re a top contender, right now. We’re gonna let Richard be the official scorer, cause he’s official Boone and Crockett scorer. But yeah. Those are, uh, good tine length. Of course, you can tell they’ve decalcified a little bit and they don’t have much mass. They’ve been laying there a year, or more. And then, Cory found a nice one. Hold it up, Cory.
GRANT: But a lot of people were finding sheds. There was a lady here from Texas – found her very first shed. Man, I was just joyful of that. It was so much fun.
GRANT: Jennifer. Man.
GRANT: Very nice, Jennifer. Where’d you find it?
JENNIFER: Just up there where you burned recently.
GRANT: In the burn?
GRANT: Another one I walked by. Yeah.
GRANT: It was all good. Everybody goes to the hotel, showers up, and we’re up to Bass Pro for supper and our final seminar.
GRANT: This is a very nice Nikon Coyote Special Scope. I have one, they’re very nice.
GRANT: And it goes to the biggest shed found, which unequivocally is Wilson. Thank you Wilson.
GRANT: The whole event was great. It didn’t rain on us. We had people from all different habitats, and states, and hunting cultures, and Brad and I really get to visit, and listen, and learn. We’re selfish – we listen, we have breakfast with someone different every time, lunch with someone different, ride in a different pickup, whatever it is – and let these people pour into our whitetail lives. Share with us what they’re using, what they’re doing. Hopefully, we can share back. You know, my whole point is – is to have fun and to educate. My objective is to let everyone enjoy Creation, and we all learn more about the white-tailed deer, both management and hunting, so collectively, as whitetail managers and hunters, we can make it better for all 14 million of us. I hope you attend an event this year where you can learn, and give, whether it’s mentoring, or learning, or practicing firearms, and we all work together and make hunting better for the future. Thanks so much for watching GrowingDeer.tv.