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GRANT: It’s obviously late season here at The Proving Grounds. We’ve been hunting since the opening of bow season in Missouri, September 15th. So, even here at The Proving Grounds, between us and our neighbors, these deer have had a lot of pressure and no doubt, mature bucks are fully alert and on top of their game as far as surviving. So now, during the late season, more than ever, we hunters that are chasing mature bucks, need to create any advantages we can to be successful.
GRANT: I just want to share a couple of techniques today. One thing Brad and I do is we wash all of our clothes in a washing machine; I, I bought a cheap washing machine – brand new – not many features and I use it outside to wash my clothes in. I hook a water hose up to it and wash our hunting clothes in it and then we store ‘em out in the barn so they're not inside in that household smell. And I think that’s made a pretty big difference this year. We’re just trying to eliminate as much scent as we can. If not, you’ve so much scent on your clothes that if the wind swirls at all like it usually does here at The Proving Grounds, you build up this big scent cone and deer just can’t get to you because they get alerted before they get to you. So, I think it’s critical to eliminate as much scent as you can and one way we do it is wash our clothes in a machine that gets no household detergent or no other clothes, except hunting clothes, in it so no residual scent in there. Hang ‘em outside to dry. Store ‘em in a barn, hanging up with fresh air blowing through ‘em and, uh, try to eliminate as much scent as we can so the only scent is what we’re respirating and the bacteria that grows on our body during the hunt. We start out as clean as we can. We’re gonna change clothes, get our gear and ease up on the mountain. I want to show you one more technique as we go towards our stand.
GRANT: (Whispering) A great late season tip is just take a backpack leaf blower and blow the leaves on a small trail to your stand. First reason is, it’s super quiet. If I walk in these leaves, I make a huge amount of noise and I can get in almost silent this way. Second reason is, when you crush vegetation, even dead vegetation like these leaves, it makes a lot of odor and I’m convinced that if, you know, two guys, me and the cameraman, go walking in and crush a bunch of vegetation, that scent really whiffs through the air and deer know that something’s been walking through there and they're probably a little bit more alert. Maybe come check out that crushed vegetation smell. Pick up some of your scent coming off there. That’s important. You don’t leave much scent on this bare dirt. And the third reason is you can walk through here at low light and see exactly where you're going real easy without a flashlight or a very low light. We’re probably gonna wait until right after leaf fall and then blow it, knowing we’re not going to hunt that area for a week or two. And it makes a great late season, ‘cause the woods are so open right now. Easily see two or three hundred yards through here. You go in and you crunch, crunch, crunch, making a lot of noise, you're gonna let every deer in that neighborhood know where you are.
GRANT: (Whispering) But I do know you can’t kill deer sitting in the office, so we’re out here and we’ve been here before, seen a bunch of deer. Really hoping for one of two things. That a female fawn that has the right perfume on comes in and brings someone with her or just a, a poster up buck is out here trying to forage on these beans.
GRANT: We didn’t see much that evening, except a couple deer walked on the edge, right at dark, typical for this time of year, but a few nights later, with a little bit different conditions out of the same stand, we did have a great encounter with a buck that’s showing a huge amount of potential. I bet he’ll make the Hit List next year.
GRANT: (Whispering) Look how dark those tarsals are. Half of his rack’s been knocked off. Busted off at G2. That’s a G3. See the G2’s busted off? I can see it through the Nikons. This is exactly when you don’t want to get tunnel vision. You watch one deer and another one slides in, so I’m going to turn over here and check the other way. Man, that’s an outstanding looking young deer.
GRANT: I’m always curious about what causes a buck to lose or break an antler prematurely, or still during the season. You know, they go through so much stress, fighting and all that pressure pushing on there like a couple of NFL linemen pushing, with sticks three or four inches around. Gosh, you’d think they would break. Or they get caught in the fork of a tree when they're rubbing. Or of all the things that have happened. Just like humans break a bone every now and then, certainly bucks break antlers. And it’s understandable, but it’s a great curiosity that I wish we had little cameras or something on a deer that would tell us exactly where it broke and how it broke. Now this time of year, it’s common for some of the more mature bucks to shed their antlers. In fact, we’re getting some Reconyx images right now of mature bucks that have shed their antlers. We can’t identify which one, because it’s just a great big ole deer with two bald spots here, but it’s interesting to do it. And I think we can explain that easily because mature bucks probably go through more stress during the rut, especially here where we have a balanced adult sex ratio and a lot of deer; a lot of rut activity. Those mature bucks are really working hard during the rut and they're encountering a lot of other bucks. They're fighting. They're protecting the does that they’ve kind of got cornered up. They go through a lot of stress. This time of year when most of the does have been bred and they're not receptive, those bucks are casting antlers and preparing for next year.
GRANT: Now, we’ll be looking for that antler and other antlers here at The Proving Grounds during our Shed Hunt which is coming up soon and I’ll have more information on the website. Man, it’s great. It’s the one time a year we get in our sanctuaries. Walk around with a bunch of friends and folks from the industry. Everyone exchanging information. Boy, it’s a great time and I hope you’ll consider joining us this year and helping us find some of these big ole Proving Grounds sheds.
GRANT: Missouri’s bow season closes January 15th. But, I’m not too sad about that because there’s plenty of activities as a deer manager that keeps me really involved with my deer herd. As soon as the ground thaws, we’ll be pulling our soil samples and sending them off to the labs, so we can see what we need Galen to put in that Antler Dirt this coming year. We’re gonna be putting new Trophy Rocks out. Man, it’s a great time to look at that software that Reconyx has, BuckView, and look at all the patterns we developed this year from our trail camera images so we can do a better job of placing our treestands next year and learning how deer use resources here at The Proving Grounds. A huge advantage of being a deer manager is you and your family can be involved 12 months out of the year and really learn about life cycles. I can't think of a better way to teach our children about Creation.
GRANT: I hope it’s warm where you are and you're thinking about managing your deer herd in the upcoming months. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.