Thoughts From The Field

Blog posts by the team

Keys To Post Rut Success

For most deer hunters, the anticipation for the rut builds for many months. However, the season always seems to drift away much faster than it arrives. If you were unable to fill a tag by the end of the rut, it can be easy to get discouraged. Don’t give up yet! It only takes a few pieces to unlock the key to post rut success.

Deer in a food plot during the late season

Hunting food sources can help tag a late season deer.

A whitetail’s body goes through a lot of stress during the rut. It’s critical that they refuel and replenish during the next few months to survive through the stress period of late winter. As slaves to their stomachs, this can be the weak link in their travel patterns and can make them fairly easy to pattern.

Hunting areas that are near, or on food sources, can give you the advantage you need to seal the deal. Some of the most attractive food sources this time of year are grains, like soybeans and corn, or brassicas, like radishes and turnips. Deer tend to feed more during daylight hours on days when the temperature is lower than average so bundle up.

Did you take the time and effort earlier in the season to plant food plots? Have you scouted to find the best food source in the area? Then your hard work is about to pay off.

Time your hunts with cold temperatures, a solid food source, and a favorable wind. This is the absolute best ticket to filling a tag in the post rut. Whether you’ve already filled a tag or not, don’t let the post rut blues take you out of the game. With the right conditions, and maybe another layer or two, you can still experience some of the best hunting the season has to offer.

Enjoy Creation,


Link directly to this post

Trapping Now, Turkeys Later

Let’s talk turkey! No, I’m not talking about Thanksgiving leftovers. Now is an important time of the year to begin thinking about turkeys. Even though deer season is still in full swing at The Proving Grounds, we are spending fewer mornings climbing into Summits and more time on the trap line. Why? Because we love chasing turkeys in the spring!


Another great start to future turkey hunting!

Each year the Missouri Department of Conservation takes a turkey survey. Hunters and wildlife managers record the number of turkeys and poults seen in the field. The survey helps provide an estimate of how many poults hatched the previous spring and Missouri’s turkey population. This fall, the Missouri Department of Conservation shared that poult numbers were very low across the state. However, based on our observations, The Proving Grounds has great poult numbers.

Why are there a higher number of poults at The Proving Grounds compared to most of the state? We trap predators, hard!

Each trapping season, we remove 50+ predators. That means fewer predators sniffing around looking for turkey eggs next spring. Trapping season began a few days ago and we are not wasting time. The Duke Traps are on the ground. We have already removed several raccoons and opossums – both are notorious turkey nest predators.  We will start targeting coyotes soon.

If you enjoy long beards in the spring and wish for turkey and deer numbers to increase at your Proving Grounds, consider trapping. You will enjoy the results. We have!

Stay tuned for more trapping tips and techniques throughout the winter.

From the trap line,


Link directly to this post

Prepare For A Second Surge

Keep those seat belts fastened! The post-rut in many portions of the whitetail’s range is just around the corner. Oftentimes this phase of the rut is just as exciting as the first. The post-rut is the period of time after the primary lock down phase where bucks are back on their feet seeking the last remaining receptive does. With fewer does receptive during this time, bucks generally travel more. The keyword here is “travel!”

A mature buck staying close to thick cover

Southpaw is in pursuit. Notice his proximity to thick cover!

Over many years here at The Proving Grounds we have documented the average conception date to be November 14th -16th. This means most of the does are bred during this period, but not all does will come into estrous at this point. Some will come into estrous after this time frame. The number of does will be far less than the peak rut, as a result, there will be increased competition for them. The smaller percentage of receptive does requires bucks to travel further and longer. Traveling this much often results in more daylight movement.

To capitalize on does still being receptive and bucks on their feet, position yourself along a travel corridor between bedding areas. After nearly a month of being pushed and pestered, does often seek thick cover for refuge. Bucks will be working edges with the wind in their favor to find them. This is when travel corridors become great places to intercept mature bucks.

Don’t give up on the rut yet! There is still great action to experience in the deer woods. Stay persistent and hunt smart!

Chasing whitetails together,

Matt Dye

Link directly to this post

How Mature Bucks Use The Wind

It’s November and that means the rut is right around the corner! Some hunters have already experienced great hunting during the pre-rut. If you haven’t punched your tag yet because of the heat or bucks not chasing, get ready. This time of year anything can happen.

Grant Woods with hit list buck Tall 8

Considering the wind is key to killing a mature buck.


Over the past week, I have watched two mature bucks be killed with a Prime bow. As I reflect on both hunts, I realize how different they were, even over a period of one week. One hunt was a single mature buck working through a small hidey hole food plot. The other was a buck trailing a soon to be receptive doe. The two hunts were different in many ways but there was a similar feature. Both mature bucks were moving with the wind in their favor.

During the first hunt, the mature buck was cutting across the wind. Upwind of the buck was a small thicket. (Receptive does often seek security in thick cover.) This buck was obviously using the wind to scent check the nearby thicket for a receptive doe and to warn him of danger up ahead.

The second hunt was one we all fantasize about! One doe, young bucks running all around, and the mature buck chasing them off with the occasional grunt and snort wheeze. As this all unfolded, I watched the doe and the mature buck use the wind. The mature buck and the young bucks were always downwind of the doe, waiting for the moment to move in. Even the doe cut across the wind aware of what was ahead; knowing any moment a buck was going to be chasing her forward.

These hunts are a reminder of how deer use the wind, especially mature bucks as they seek receptive does during the rut. If you want to be successful over the next few weeks, consider where the deer will be traveling and where the wind will be carrying scent.

The GrowingDeer Team hopes you have a blessed rut. Be safe and enjoy your time in the woods.

Enjoying Creation,


Link directly to this post