Hunting Whitetails: Muzzleloader Action (Episode 110 Transcript)

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

GRANT: It’s late December and we’ll post this episode on January 2nd. It’s still hunting season throughout most states in the whitetails’ range. It’s one of my favorite times of the year, the late season when big bucks are predictable.

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GRANT: Now, it’s muzzleloader season in Missouri and you're only allowed one buck with a gun during either regular rifle season or muzzleloader season. I was blessed enough to take a nice buck earlier this year, so it’s time for Adam to get in front of the camera.

GRANT: It was really foggy that morning limiting our vision to 50 to 100 yards, but our muzzleloader shoots great out to almost 200 yards, so we weren’t able to capitalize the full range of the tool we had in hand.

ADAM: (Whispering) Still wicked foggy. Visibility is less than 50 yards, probably so, hopefully, uh, it will burn off here in a little while and we’ll have some movement.

GRANT: As the fog begin to lift, Adam was studying the bedding area we were overlooking with his Nikons and I heard him whisper he saw tines.

ADAM: (Whispering) Just to the right.

GRANT: But the tines he saw were laying on the ground.

ADAM: (Whispering) About 10:45, I caught an antler down here in the brush. Got my heart racing and I realized there wasn’t a body attached to that antler. It’s a shed from last year, so I want to climb down and go pick it up.

ADAM: (Whispering) See if I can find the other side.

ADAM: (Whispering) Well, here we are. Here’s the shed that was laying about 50 yards down the hill from us. Uh, it sure looks like Giant 10, but we’ll-I guess we’ll never know for sure. He had that very distinct G4 that fell off, off his main beam; angled out, but, anyway, it looks like I got an early jump on all those shed hunters this coming March.

GRANT: Although, I haven’t submitted genetic samples to make sure this is actually Giant 10, the similarities give me 90% confidence. It’s great evidence of allowing young, but decent bucks to pass, can turn into those whopper bucks we all dream about. Got to remember, they won't grow unless you let ‘em go.

GRANT: Even though we knew Giant 10 had been harvested, there was a reason we were hunting that bedding area. Big bucks get big by making great choices. Giant 10 had obviously selected great habitat. When he’s taken out, another buck will sense that dominance is gone and move in. Sometimes the difference between dominance and subordinance is just a couple of inches for maybe one year. A five or six year old’s taken out, the local four or five year olds may move in. If you’ve got a pattern on a big buck, remember that pattern cause it might be good for years to come.

GRANT: Our best source of MRI is our Reconyx cameras. As I’ve explained in past episodes, we usually set ‘em up high on trees, aim ‘em a little bit down and use that time lapse feature. Taking the picture of the whole field every five minutes, just boom, boom, boom. So, even if the deer is 200 yards away, we’ll still get an image, can zoom in and pretty much sex or class the deer.

GRANT: Adam and I spend a lot of time studying the weather and maps and a list of all of our stands on our property, deciding where to hunt each time. It turns out there was a great pattern of deer using Hidden Valley 2, but the pattern was late afternoon – 4:30 to 5:00 – entering the field.

GRANT: We came to the decision that Hidden Valley 2 would be a great stand. Now Hidden Valley 2 is in a steep valley, as the name implies, and a north or south wind hits that valley and just swirls. But a due west wind blows from the back of the field towards the stand. How we approach the field should give the hunter the advantage they need.

ADAM: (Whispering) It’s about 4:15. When we checked our Reconyx images, midday today, we saw that a lot of the deer, about 90% of ‘em, are here at 4:30 and later. So, we’re sitting on pins and needles waiting cause we know at any moment now, ole Giant 8 could be stepping out.

GRANT: Knowing the deer had been coming in the field between 4:30 and 5:00, they were sitting on pins and needles and sure enough, about 5 o’clock two antlerless deer came into the field.

ADAM: (Whispering) Are you on him, Thomas?

THOMAS: (Whispering) Yes.

ADAM: (Whispering) Okay.

GRANT: Now, Adam’s a committed deer manager and he knows we need to harvest a few more does to keep our sex ratio in balance and reduce our population just a little bit so we got enough food to make it through the harsh winter that could come.

ADAM: (Whispering) …as soon as she starts heading out, I’m gonna take her.

GRANT: At about the time he makes his mind to go ahead and take the doe, she gets behind the only tree left in the food plot.

ADAM: (Whispering) C’mon doe, do somethin’.

GRANT: At 90 yards, it’s do or die time because light’s fading and the doe is about out of the field.

ADAM: (Whispering) Okay. Show time. Ready? Ready? Did I drop her? We almost let that one slip away.

ADAM: We shot a big doe.

GRANT: You did?

ADAM: Yeah.

GRANT: You didn’t send us a text or anything.

ADAM: Well, we just now shot her. Like right before dark. Oh yeah, she’s laying right there.

GRANT: Dropped her in the spot?

ADAM: Dropped her. Yeah.

GRANT: Congratulations. That’s wonderful.

ADAM: Thanks. Yeah.

GRANT: Put one down for the freezer.

ADAM: Yup. Put one down. Yup.

GRANT: Balance that deer herd and you're showing off for the intern.

GRANT: Of course, I went back down with ‘em for the ceremonial picture taking and hearing the story and congratulations, which is all part of the deer hunting tradition.

GRANT: Man, that’s a big ole doe. Great shot. You got it in you, man! (Laughter)

ADAM: Yeah. I was wondering after that bobcat.

GRANT: Well, you know, the bobcat is just a little bit smaller, but you're still exactly where you're aiming, I’m sure. So, it all worked out wonderful.

ADAM: Umm-hmmm.

GRANT: That is a monster Ozark doe. Look at that long, long nose and huge body.

ADAM: I knew if I missed this one, uh, I probably wasn’t gonna ever hear-hear the end of that. (Laughter)

GRANT: There wasn’t no pressure on you, buddy.

ADAM: No, not at all.

GRANT: You know, back at the shed, I want to collect some more data. Of course it’s important to track body weights because age and body weight combined is a great way to monitor if your herd and food are in balance. Are those weights decreasing, staying the same, or improving as your habitat management projects come into play.

ADAM: 131.

GRANT: This doe weighed 131 pounds. That’s huge for this area where the primary food is timber and pastures. No row crops for a county around. If that was in northern Iowa, that wouldn’t be a big deer. But for here, she’s a Boone and Crockett long nose.

GRANT: While I’m gutting the deer, I want to inspect her reproductive tract. I’m not trying to be crude, but is that uterus swollen, is it collecting fluids, has she been bred? If so, I might be able to remove those fetuses, measure them and back date to when she was bred.

GRANT: Late season – look at that. See the difference?

ADAM: Wow. Oh yeah.

GRANT: No doubt that deer is bred. We’ll know if she’s got twins. There’s buckhorns of the uterus. Right?

ADAM: Yep.

GRANT: My good friend and founder of the Quality Deer Management Association, Joe Hamilton, did the original research to develop a fetal scale, which is just a measurement from the crown to the rump of the fetus, and by measuring that length you can convert it to days, back date that from the day it was harvested and you’ll know the day that doe was bred. We did that on this deer. Turns out she was bred on November 4th. Fits perfectly for my part of the world and what we saw in the rut this year.

GRANT: That’s awesome data for this property. You can tell exactly when it’s a breeding and not just chasing and scrape behavior and rut was going on. You can tell when this doe was bred by a little biology.

GRANT: By collecting enough of that data, you can really time your hunting to know the real phases of the rut on your property and not what you read that happened states away. You know, you’ve got the chase phase and the pre-rut and the breeding phase by getting that breeding phase date down exactly, you can back date to those other phases and really plan your hunting and use the best techniques at the right time.

GRANT: As we continue here at Growing Deer in 2012, we’ll be sharing every week what we’re seeing and what we’re doing. As hunters and managers, hopefully, we can help you making science very practical for your property. Thanks for watching

GRANT: Bullet should be right here somewhere, shouldn’t it?

ADAM: Yeah.

GRANT: There it is right there. Look at that.