Managing the Deer Herd: Hunting with “Doe Fever!” (Episode 45 Transcript)
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MICHAEL: Well, we got Grant joining us this evening on a hunt. We’re gonna hunt this hay bale blind that Skyler and I set up the other day. We got the windows cut out yesterday, but we gotta, gotta cut a couple more windows out of the plywood so we can see down each side of the food plot. The deer have just been, just been hammering it, so it should be a really good hunt. But we gotta make sure we can see them, so, we better get to work.
MICHAEL: We’re good.
WOODS: Hey, it’s September 28th and I am blessed today to get invited to hunt with Michael Hunsucker, Heartland Bowhunters and we’re up here just, not too far out of Kansas City, going on an afternoon hunt. Michael insists, and it’s a great policy, before we go on a hunt, I’ve traveled all day today. Get my bow out, shoot it down there at this thirty pointer setting out here. Make sure we’re all tuned in and good to go. Now, Michael tells me this is the only shot I’m getting at a thirty pointer tonight, because if one comes out in the food plot, he says he gets first dibs. Is that…
MICHAEL: I’ll be, I’ll be pushing you out of the way.
WOODS: There we go. There we go.
MICHAEL: There’ll be a cluster. We’re going to be in that hay bale blind…
WOODS: In a hale bale blind, a first for me tonight. A lot of firsts going on tonight.
MICHAEL: First for me as well.
WOODS: Okay. So, let’s make sure we’re dialed in and go get in a tree. Or, actually in the blind.
MICHAEL: I was going to say that, yeah. Let’s do it.
WOODS: Rookie mistake. Rookie mistake.
WOODS: All right.
WOODS: (Whispering) I got wind in the face and deer on both sides of us. It’s a good thing.
MICHAEL: We’re looking to thin ‘em out. We got really, really high deer density numbers and I know you get asked all the time, “Which is the best doe to shoot?”
WOODS: (Whispering) You know, that’s the most common question I get about doe harvest is, “Which doe to harvest?” and mine is really simply, not being crude, but the first doe in at the range. You know, and there’s advantages and disadvantages to both. Older does are, are better mothers, typically produce a little bit more milk. Better at avoiding predators. Younger does, if you're improving your herd are a product of does of better nutrition so they have better milk, better care. And it’s like taking a baby from a third world country versus a baby that’s got really good pre-natal nutrition.
WOODS: (Whispering) One with pre, pre-natal nutrition, grows better. That’s unfortunate, but the same is true with deer. So, there’s really a 50/50 either way. And if you mess around trying to shoot a certain doe, you won’t get your quota. In these overpopulated areas, the most important thing is to get your quota. Remove enough mouths. So, tonight, if it’s okay with you, I’m a guest, the first doe in our range, uh, we take a shot.
WOODS: (Whispering) And there’s a good buck down there. There’s a really good buck down there.
WOODS: (Whispering) I love doe fever. I’m already starting to shake right now.
MICHAEL: (Whispering) Those turkeys got me fired up enough.
WOODS: (Whispering) I know.
MICHAEL: (Whispering) About, like five yards.
WOODS: (Whispering) Turkeys at five yards. So, we made the choice. In Missouri, turkeys are legal in the fall, but we didn’t want to make the noise.
MICHAEL: (Whispering) I know. She’s looking.
WOODS: (Whispering) Don’t move. Man, we’ve had all kinds of movement, but we finally got some coming in on the blind. This might get interesting pretty soon. We’ve seen a pile of deer on both ends of the field. Now, we’ve got some candidates wanting to check out the middle. Let’s see if we can make the play.
MICHAEL: (Whispering) Don’t move, Skyler.
MICHAEL: (Whispering) Okay. She’s back down feeding, let’s see how far she is.
WOODS: (Whispering) 32 yards.
MICHAEL: (Whispering) Careful, careful, careful.
WOODS: Are we on it?
WOODS: Man, man, that was intense.
MICHAEL: Geez. That’s the closest I’ve ever been.
WOODS: We had deer, you know, right and left of us early on. You know, 50 yards and more out. And then a couple fawns closer or whatever and then, as we’re losing light, and I hear Skyler say, “Doe three yards.” So, I freeze up. And I finally see an ear wiggling out this side hole over there. She got right here…
WOODS: …corner of the blind where I can see her, but you all can’t see her. And I’m, I got a perfect shot. And I’m sitting here on ready, on ready and ready, but I can see the camera, you know, the view finder.
WOODS: I can tell y'all can’t see her.
MICHAEL: It looks like you hit her just square in shoulder.
WOODS: Yeah, it, well, I went in right behind the shoulder, but…
WOODS: …she was quartered a little bit more than I anticipated. You could hear that far shoulder pop. Ow.
MICHAEL: She just drops.
WOODS: Yeah. Down.
MICHAEL: Just a tear, hair high, but, man.
WOODS: Man, right there.
MICHAEL: Good shot.
WOODS: Yeah. It was intense. I mean, was that intense? Man, that was like a Boone and Crockett deer center. Because we’ve been waiting for a doe all afternoon long. I call that doe fever.
WOODS: You know, when you want to spread all these little bucks moving back and forth and back and forth.
MICHAEL: Grant almost had me talked into shooting little “Half Rack.” He’s a five and a half year old buck that really needs to be shot. He’s a definite management buck and, you know, I would shoot him. We have two tags in Missouri. So, I, I drew back on him, and he walked right out of the frame, so we had a close call with him and ending up getting a doe.
WOODS: Yeah. What a deal, man.
MICHAEL: Our mission.
WOODS: Our mission accomplished.
MICHAEL: That’s number, number one off the list.
WOODS: Man, this deer management can be intensive work. I was, my heart was thumping.
MICHAEL: Yeah. Geez.
WOODS: Gosh, almighty.
MICHAEL: Not always a big buck.
WOODS: It isn’t always a big buck. And, you know, we saw, just like you called. Saw a bunch of bucks. Saw a deer on your Hit List. Isn’t that cool?
MICHAEL: Yeah. Yup.
WOODS: Saw a deer on your Hit List. Didn’t work out for that shot. I was trying to goad you into it, though. And I had called ahead and you said there was a great donation program, because I’m heading on to Kansas and you’ve got some stuff going on, so we’re going to take care of this deer and donate the meat.
WOODS: And we did some management objectives.
MICHAEL: Exactly. We’re, we’re one out of, probably about 12-15. So we’ve, we’ve got our work cut out for us, but good start to it.
WOODS: That’s excellent. Man, was that fun?
MICHAEL: That was awesome. That hay bale blind worked perfect.
MICHAEL: Came in here and placed it two, two or three days ago, so.
WOODS: Three of us in the blind.
WOODS: Worked out great.
MICHAEL: It was a big blind. Perfect size.
WOODS: Yeah, yeah.
MICHAEL: And they have been hammering this food plot.
WOODS: No doubt about it.
MICHAEL: You always talk about hunting a limited resource.
MICHAEL: There’s no doubt that food is a limited resource on this farm.
WOODS: You know, you, you’ve got food, cover and water. And there’s ponds all over the place. There’s big hay fields that they can bed in. We saw a bunch of beds walking in here.
WOODS: But food is a limiting resource. And you called and you had the blind set up. All I had to do was show up, man.
WOODS: Hey, thanks so much for that. That was so fun.
MICHAEL: That was great, man. It was awesome. Thanks for helping us out.
WOODS: Yeah. Yeah. I love being a deer manager. You know, I like planting, plowing, spraying, burning, but this is the part of deer management I really like.
WOODS: You do it the rest of the year to get to this point of the game.