Spike Bucks: Shoot or Let Them Grow? (Episode 105 Transcript)

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GRANT: I enjoyed another fun week of hunting with my family and trapping season opened this week. So, there was a lot of different colored fur in the back of my truck at The Proving Grounds.

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GRANT: My dad and I hunted out of a Redneck blind on a rainy afternoon. Those blinds are perfect for rainy days when you want to watch and see if a buck’s trolling around but stay dry.

GLEN: Well, I’m Glen Robert Woods. I’m Grant’s dad. I appreciate getting to hunt down here. It’s high heaven every time I get to go hunting and he’s good enough to let me go. Uh, in a good warm stand like this – 81 year-old man does fine. I enjoy spending my time with my boy.

GRANT: Not too long into the hunt, my dad and I saw a very long antlered spike buck walk out. I get a lot of questions about what to do with spikes.

GRANT: There’s a lot of hunting camp stories about spike antlered bucks. Most of them are not great. There’s been a ton of university research on spike antlered deer. Almost all spikes are a year and a half old and it’s usually caused by really low nutrition or a late birth date. And late birth dates are most commonly from fawns. Now, female fawns will reach puberty about 70 pounds – give or take. And they don’t do that ‘til later in the year – January or so. And so, when they have a fawn, it’s born later and that fawn has less time to store nutrients and calcium and all that stuff to develop antlers the next year. But it’s from a mother that was superior that got big enough to reach puberty the first year. That spike may well turn out to be one of the better deer in your deer herd.

GRANT: (Whispering) Let’s see what else comes out.

GLEN: (Whispering) Yeah. He just a spike.

GRANT: (Whispering) Umm-hmm.

GLEN: (Whispering) What’d he have, spikes on him ten inches or more?

GRANT: (Whispering) Yeah, probably so.

GRANT: Just before dark, I caught movement on the opposite side of the field and sure enough, there was a larger antlered buck stepping out.

GLEN: (Whispering) I seen him coming around the back side. Way over next to the creek.

GRANT: (Whispering) It’s up to you. Is he big enough that you’d be proud of him?

GLEN: (Whispering) Well, I’d be proud of any of ‘em. I just hate to shoot one this late at night.

GRANT: (Whispering) It’s totally up to you.

GLEN: (Whispering) Yeah. Let him go.

GRANT: (Whispering) You sure?

GLEN: (Whispering) Yeah.

GRANT: (Whispering) Okay.

GLEN: (Whispering) Let him go.

GRANT: (Whispering) Alright. I got the gun. Let’s see if something else comes out.

GLEN: (Whispering) Yeah.

GRANT: My dad’s got the skill set to make that shot. It just wasn’t a good opportunity. I’m glad he passed. You know it’ll be muzzleloader season in about three weeks. Bucks should be back out and using the food plots. And he’ll have a chance to use his tag then.

GRANT: Deer activity this week seemed to be characteristic of the lockdown phase. The biggest percentage of the does are receptive during this two week period of time. There will be multiple bucks tending one doe usually and the other does seem scared to move because they get harassed by bucks if they're seen out in the open anywhere. Another sign that we’re in the lockdown phase of the rut is seeing groups of fawns without a mature doe around. I’m personally seeing that. The Reconyx cameras at my place are picking that up. And what happens is the doe will leave that fawn while she’s receptive and gonna have a bunch of mature bucks circling around to save that fawn from being in danger. They’ll get back together as soon as that doe is not receptive anymore. Just a little bit of time and that second chase phase is gonna start up.

GRANT: The second chase phase can be just as exciting as the first chase phase with a couple of exceptions: there are either a few less bucks out there to hunt cause hunters have been tagging ‘em, some of the bucks have got their racks busted up due to fighting and it doesn’t last as long. In the next week or two, depending on where you are, we’re gonna enter that second chase phase and it’s a great time to be hunting food sources.

GRANT: This time of year, the does that have already been bred will be actively out feeding again. Bucks will circle downwind of that to see if any of ‘em are receptive and bucks will come into that food source cause they’ve got to gain calories going into the harder part of winter and recover from the rut. Food sources are great stand locations if they haven’t been over-hunted so far this year.

GRANT: But while we’re still in the lockdown phase, it’s a great time to take a few days and do some other management activities. One activity I start every time this year is trapping predators. This is called a dog proof trap and it’s really easy to set and you can get a bunch of ‘em at a time. So we’re gonna take care of this coon, add another fur to Tracy’s blanket and get me out of here ‘fore I get attacked.

MATT: It’s November 20th here at The Proving Ground. We’ve got our 8th coon in the trap this season. That’s one more turkey nest predator out of the way.

GRANT: Every now and then we’ll catch a skunk. Now skunks are nest predators also. I don’t trap specifically for them, but I’ll gladly remove them cause there’s plenty. When you're dispatching a skunk, don’t shoot it in the head or it’s gonna spray. The nervous system is quicker than death. But what you do is shoot it through the lungs with solid point bullets so it doesn’t expand, pokes a hole through the lungs, rapid death, no pain. Animals don’t know what a shot is. They don't know what a gunshot is. They have no fear of that and it almost never sprays.

MATT: Tips the scale at six pounds.

GRANT: Six pounds. Now is that including the bucket?

GRANT: But we just had a pretty good catch this morning. I want to stop and talk about it – including a big 17 pound boar coon. Now, you think if you're a turkey on a nest or even a fawn laying there – a little six or seven pound fawn and a 17 pound voracious predator comes up on that. What do you think’s gonna happen, Matt?

MATT: I think he’s taking the easy bait.

GRANT: He’s taking the easy bait. He says, “Look something pink and fluffy. I’m eating this. It can't run yet. I’m eating it.” So, boy, you know, coons are big time predators. They're mean. I’d much rather go up to a skunk in a trap cause they just lay there real docile. Coons want to rip your leg off. They're little mini grizzly bears. The other thing about coons are, of course, they eat a lot of soft mass. They eat the blackberries, persimmons and everything else. And when they're consuming all that, that forces coyotes to look for something else and that would be…

MATT: Your deer.

GRANT: …fawns and turkeys and stuff that I like to consume, so.

GRANT: I can already tell you. The little cage traps we’re using are ideal to set around hunting camps. Let your kids experience trapping and remove a few of those raccoons that are busting up a bunch of turkey nests on your property. This time of year throughout most of the whitetails’ range there are fewer and fewer does receptive every day. Some good hunting is yet to come. I hope you get to get out and hunt during the second chase phase of the rut and enjoy Creation. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.