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Deer Hunting: Surefire Scouting and Strategies for Whitetails (Episode 355 Transcript)

This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.

GRANT: This week we put the final touches on our scouting before season opens. And we found some limited resources. We want to share with you how we plan to hunt these spots.

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ADAM: Our Reconyx cameras have been working for months now gathering information. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to put our boots on the ground, step into the woods and put more pieces of the puzzle together.

ADAM: We’re here in a location we call East Glade. You can see the tree stand back behind me. The great thing about this spot is there is white oaks scattered along this ridge. And even if there aren’t acorns in bow range, there’s still acorns scattered along this ridge year in and year out and we’re along a travel corridor. So, if the deer are still feeding out of bow range, most likely they're still gonna move by the stand and give us a shot.

ADAM: So, now that we’re out here this morning, got our boots on the ground – we’re gonna scan the tree tops, see if we can find some white oak acorns.

ADAM: My gosh, those acorns are big up there.

GRANT: The Proving Grounds is primarily covered with oaks. And that can make patterning deer extremely difficult, especially when they all produce acorns.

ADAM: It’s so crazy to me that this one doesn’t have it, but that one’s loaded.

GRANT: In years when acorns are plentiful, deer can literally feed and/or bed anywhere they want to. It could be very tough to cut deer off between bedding and feeding areas.

ADAM: Bam. Bam. Bam. All three of those are just loaded.

GRANT: When acorns are not as plentiful, it’s actually easier to pattern deer because now acorns become a limited resource versus spread throughout the entire property.

GRANT: One ridge here at The Proving Grounds that has a lot of white oaks on it is called East Glade. And on East Glade ridge there’s a little drain that makes a pinch point. We’ve already got a couple of Summits set in trees right at that pinch point.

GRANT: The pinch point makes this a unique set. Even if the white oaks within bow range of these stands don’t produce, there’s enough white oaks up and down the ridge that deer traveling the ridge will go by the pinch point, offering us a shot – whether they're feeding in the area or a couple of hundred yards away.

ADAM: So pretty much, these four within 30 yards of the tree stand plus the tree that the tree stand – and actually the one with the tree stand has more acorns than, than any of ‘em. So, we’re in the hot spot right there.

GRANT: This year we’re all excited about hunting that set because there’s an added attraction. Not only are deer gonna travel the ridge and go through the pinch point, but the white oaks within 30 yards are loaded. We can't wait to see who comes and feeds next to our stand.

GRANT: In addition to scouting areas that’s been productive for us during past years, we’re always looking for fresh sign – potential new locations.

ADAM: This portion of the farm is predominantly red oak trees. But there are a few white oak trees mixed in between and every couple of years one of those trees will be loaded with acorns. It just so happens that one of these trees is located on the edge of the food plot and it’s absolutely loaded with acorns.

ADAM: We’re always looking for several limited resources in one area. So, we’ve got a small food plot that’s recently been planted in Eagle Seed Broadside. We’ve got the white oak tree that’s loaded with acorns. But we’ve got one more limited resource that can play an even bigger role during the early portion of season.

ADAM: We’ve been talking about the drought all summer long and it’s gotten a little worse over the last couple of weeks. So water is gonna play a huge part in our hunting strategy until we start getting measurable rain during the fall.

ADAM: There’s already deer sign showing up on the edge of the food plot near the white oak. All the pieces of the puzzle seem to be coming together. So we can't get this stand hung fast enough and be ready for deer season to open up.

GRANT: Scouting locations is step one. Step two can be a little bit more complicated. We need to identify the attractions in the area and then the best place to hang stands or put a blind.

ADAM: One additional thing that I’m gonna add to this set that a lot of deer hunters that film their hunts can appreciate is I’m actually gonna go ahead and hang my base.

ADAM: Fourth Arrow Tree Arms offer separate bases so you can buy a base for every one of your sets. So, we’re gonna go ahead and stick this one in the tree; make the noise now; do the work; so when deer season opens up, I’m gonna carry less weight, make less noise when I get into the stand.

ADAM: That work?

GRANT: Another really important consideration for picking stand or blind locations is one that allows the hunter to approach, hunt and exit without alerting deer. In this case, we can approach from the east. Wind is rarely out of the east in this part of Missouri and the resources we’re hunting are either on a headwind or a crosswind – allowing us to be there without the deer knowing we’re in their world.

GRANT: The strategy behind these two stands are great examples of using historical and MRI – or most recent information. We need to use both of ‘em because we’ve learned the pattern of deer in the area and environmental factors change season to season and within the season. Acorn crops, growth of forage due to rainfall, or drought and water resources all change how we hunt The Proving Grounds.

GRANT: Recently, Adam, Matt and I travelled to Mark Davidson’s property in central Missouri. We went there to help him develop a wildlife and habitat management plan.

GRANT: This 214 acre property was dominated by oak, similar to The Proving Grounds. The land is a little flatter and Mark had already established several food plots and ponds.

GRANT: The first stop was a food plot that Mark had established. We could tell he’d worked hard but he didn’t quite use all the opening in this group of timber. And we encouraged him to expand the area he planted to provide more forage, given that most of his property is a closed canopy forest.

GRANT: We’ll evaluate all that but I, I like this right off the bat of it’s easy to, to gain through here. I want to change how you're hunting this. And I think just those two changes will have a instant impact.

MARK: Okay.

GRANT: And then we’ll talk throughout the day and then the report about how we want to change this soil management technique cause I, you're kind of hurting yourself right now.

GRANT: In addition, we suggested Mark abandon the heavy tillage practices he’s been using and switch to the no-till system we use here at The Proving Grounds. It’s an easy and cost effective way to improve the soil health and therefore the number of fawns and quality of antlers.

GRANT: As we continued touring, we noticed that most of the property was covered with post oaks and red oaks. All of the sudden, we found a grove of mature white oaks, looked up and they were loaded with acorns.

GRANT: We’re cruising through Mark’s property and we come through a little grove – I don't know – half a dozen or so of fairly mature white oak trees. Of course, white oak has a lot of lobes on each leaf and no bristles or hair on the inner leaf. And they're producing some acorns, so I’d expect this will be a hot spot for deer and turkey to gather in this area, Mark.

GRANT: And, uh, we talked about maybe having a stand for a south wind and a north wind. We’re gonna favor the eastern side because we rarely have an east wind with our stand location.

GRANT: Given that there are obviously white oaks being produced this year, this could be a great hunting spot here in a, actually just a few weeks – three or four weeks or so.

MARK: Great. Fantastic.

GRANT: And it, it’s open – you’ll be able to see deer coming. And there’s really nothing you need to do as a manager. This is a hunting spot right here.

GRANT: There are gonna be – I mean there’s no doubt in my mind – deer are going to be feeding here on this hill. And this is a huntable hill. It’s high. The wind’s – you know, it’s gonna swirl all down in there, but it’s gonna be a little bit more stable here.

MARK: Ah-huh. Ah-huh.

GRANT: You can come to it from two different directions.

MARK: Hmm. Hmm.

GRANT: I like this spot.

MARK: (Inaudible)

GRANT: And we’re gonna need some bedding area, so we may do some cuts in some of those steeper areas to create sanctuaries. But our goal there is both native forage and sanctuary area. Like I have on my land.

MARK: All right. And you guys like this dirt, right?

GRANT: Well, it’s dirt. We’re not used to dirt, man. (Laughter) We, we just like the fact that it’s dirt.

GRANT: But I, uh, I’m pretty certain you're gonna, you know, hunt it appropriately with the right winds, you're gonna see a deer here.

GRANT: On the east side of Mark’s property, we saw where he’d removed a fairly large stand of mature eastern red cedars. And just like here at The Proving Grounds, we were thrilled with what grew in their place.

GRANT: So Mark, here you were explaining that this was all cedars, just like we’re seeing over here. You cleared the cedars out and got this beautiful stand of Big Bluestem and other native grasses in here.

MARK: That’s correct.

GRANT: And it’s tremendous cover area, turkey poult area – just a great area where the cedars weren’t really providing any benefit to the wildlife.

GRANT: And, and I’m, I’m gonna prescribe that we actually expand this. This is – yeah, I’m not good – but two or three acres – something like that. Of course coyote can run downwind of a smaller area and smell everything bedded in here.

GRANT: So, let’s get up to like a, you know, five/ten acre area and have a big enough area that deer are really secure in here. Not just cover, but security.

GRANT: We talked a lot about the difference between cover – something that’s thick to walk through – and security – something where deer are really comfortable.

MARK: Okay. (Inaudible)

GRANT: So, I think part of our plan will be expanding this area to make it a security area in addition to a cover area.

MARK: Okay.

GRANT: Removing the cedars was a great plan by Mark. We encouraged him to enlarge that particular sanctuary area and move the other portions of the property where cedars dominated the timber and do the same.

GRANT: (Inaudible) deer, fish in the pond, ride the trails – just seeing the property…

GRANT: We enjoyed learning Mark’s property and drilling down and really understanding his deer and turkey management objectives. With that information, we can return and develop a site specific habitat and hunting management plan.

GRANT: The closer we get to hunting season, the more information we have to share – too much for our weekly webisode. So, check out or blogs or even the Clips tab at GrowingDeer.com as we post new information throughout the week.

GRANT: Whether you get to work outside all the time like the GrowingDeer Team or you're driving back and forth to the office, it’s important each day to slow down, be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.