Grant's Blog

Thoughts from the field

The Biggest Buck We Have Never Hunted

Understanding a buck’s characteristics will be the deciding factor in your success or failure this fall. When the calendar changes from September to October and bucks start to shift into pre-rut phase you never know who will step in front of your camera. When that buck does make his appearance, it’s important for you to know how to plan your strategy.

Royal George is a big, ten-point hit list buck.

Royal George making his usual stop just after midnight. If his pattern doesn’t change it will be tough to harvest this buck.

Bucks that would gross score over 160” are extremely rare for us here in the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri. So when a buck we call “Royal George” walked in front of our Reconyx camera last summer, we quickly put him at the top of our minds, but since he was only three we wanted to give him another year. George is an incredible buck, and once we got to know him, we found out one of his characteristics that helped him get so big. Looking through all the images we have of him, it’s safe to say that 95% of them are at night. The remaining 5% of pictures were taken during June when bucks are seen more regularly during daylight. Now that George has reached 4.5 years old he’s on the hit list, but there is a difference between being on the hit list and being hunted. Here is where a lot of hunters will make mistakes. Listen up! Just because a hit list buck is showing up at one of your cameras, that doesn’t mean you should be hunting him with regularity. Why should you waste time and put pressure on a buck that probably won’t step out while you’re hunting anyway? You shouldn’t. This brings us back to George who is very nocturnal. When I say very, I’m saying that every picture taken this year of George has been before or after legal shooting hours. Yes, George is living on The Proving Grounds, but he has shown no signs of moving during daylight. What does this mean? We’re not focusing our time hunting a buck that we have a very small chance of even seeing, let alone harvesting. The best approach we can have with bucks like George is to stay out. Let him experience life with little to no pressure, and hope that when the time comes for him to be searching for a receptive doe he’ll choose her over darkness. When that day comes we’ll be ready to capitalize on his decision to choose does over darkness.

One of the biggest mistakes a hunter can make is getting anxious and spending hours hunting a buck that isn’t moving during daylight. This mistake can push a buck even farther into cover and darkness. By limiting the amount of pressure on your deer herd during early season, you can reap the rewards of daylight activity when the temperatures are cool and the hit list bucks are on their feet.

Daydreaming of Whitetails,


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How To Use Scrapes To Locate Bucks

The last two weeks of October are two of my favorite weeks of the year. The leaves are starting to take on lots of color, while the deer are beginning the yearly ritual. It’s an exciting time of year, especially for deer hunters! A lot of bucks will be loaded up in the back of trucks over the next few weeks; don’t you want to be one of those happy hunters? Use scrapes to find where bucks are active and move in for the kill!

A mock scrape was created to to attract bucks

Before and after of the mock scrape created to monitor bucks in the area.

There are many reasons why I love this time of year, fall leaf color, cool temperatures, MLB postseason baseball, but one of my favorites is the whitetail pre-rut. It is a great time of year to have those trail cameras out! Bucks are spending a lot of time working scrapes right now and that can make for great trail camera locations! We put several of our Reconyx cameras overlooking scrapes this time of year. Not only do we find scrapes, we also make them. If we’re in an area with very limited scrape limbs, we will make a scrape tree. Making a mock scrape is a very simple process. Start by bringing in a small tree with horizontal limbs about 4.5 to 5 feet off the ground. Drive a t-post into the ground at your desired location and then tie the tree to the post securely; making sure the tree is stable and secure. Once the tree is secure, scrape the ground under the limbs exposing bare dirt, just like a buck would do. This is a great way to locate bucks in areas where scrapes are very limited.

Bucks of all age classes will be checking scrapes over the next few weeks. If your cameras are watching the scrapes you’ve got a great chance at catching a hit list buck! Once you locate a buck, you should move in quick! It could be a brief window of time before he’s off cruising for receptive does.

It’s an amazing time of year, find time this week to get outside and enjoy this wonderful world God created for us!

Daydreaming of whitetails,


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The October Lull

It’s mid-October and still a week or so before the whitetail pre rut in most areas. Often, this portion of the season is referred to as the October Lull. I’ve certainly experienced some hunts during this time of year when it seemed there were no deer in the area. I’ve also experienced some great hunts during mid October! It seems many folks talk about the October Lull, but…CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL BLOG AT WINCHESTER.COM

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Cooking Deer Meat: Recipe For Slow Cooker Venison Roast

About two months ago I went out to our freezer and realized that we were down to three (3) packages of venison. The opening of bow season on September 15 was highly anticipated as we really needed to get some meat in the freezer! Thankfully, Grant arrowed a doe that first week. We now have a start on building our supply of venison back up for the next year. (You can see that hunt here in the episode “Bow Hunting: Opening Day, Buck Down!”).

Ingredients for slow cooker venison roast

Before you start preparing the venison roast for the crock pot gather all the ingredients.

Grant said we are beginning to get too many deer on the property. In order to keep the deer healthy and in balance with the available food supply “Dr. Woods” has prescribed that we take a good many does to help balance out the population. That is welcome news for our family food budget for filling the freezer with a great quality meat! As the season progresses expect to see Grant and Adam taking more does and know that meat will feed the family!

As you might expect, eating venison at our house is an everyday meal. I cook venison as frequently (or more) than most people cook pork or beef. Our kids have grown up eating healthy venison instead of beef or other red meats. The crock pot (slow cooker) is my answer for a quick, easy meal for my family. Below is my favorite recipe for cooking venison roast. I hope you give it a try and enjoy it as much as we do! It is super easy yet tastes like a gourmet meal! If you start it before leaving for work in the morning, the smell (aroma if you’re fancy) of it cooking will knock your socks off when you get home in the late afternoon!



Slow Cooker Venison Roast

  • 1 (3 to 4 pounds) venison roast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onion wedges
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 large carton beef or chicken broth


Place venison roast in lightly oiled slow cooker/crock pot. Add remaining ingredients. If there isn’t enough liquid to cover the roast, add water or additional broth. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Remove and discard the bay leaves before serving.

Note: You can easily add sliced carrots and potatoes on top of the roast to cook along with the meat. If you do this – drizzle a little olive oil on them along with a light sprinkle of salt, pepper, and very light sprinkle of garlic powder.

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