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GRANT: During the past few days, the GrowingDeer Team has had several good hunts.
GRANT: We’ve seen several deer, including a couple of hit list bucks.
GRANT: I wish to share my observations about those hunts so you can apply the lessons to your hunts.
GRANT: The weather has been fairly favorable for this time of year. Our daytime highs have been in the low 80s, high 70s, and based on our observations and the Reconyx cameras, we’re seeing a bit more daytime movement than normal for this time of year.
GRANT: Weather can influence when deer are active and when we can be hunting without alerting deer, making it seem like more deer are moving since we’re not spooking deer before we see them.
GRANT: A couple of days ago, Clay and I headed to a food plot we call Pops. You may recall that last year during mid-September, I was hunting at Pops and had an encounter with a buck we call Slingshot.
GRANT: The Pops food plot is on a ridgetop that runs primarily from southeast to northwest, and bucks tend to frequent this plot, especially during the early and mid-season.
GRANT: Swoops is a buck that’s been frequenting that plot since we developed it and he tends to hang out there during the late summer and early fall.
GRANT: I estimate, based on our trail camera images, that Swoops is nine years old. And during all that time, we’ve only had three personal encounters with Swoops.
GRANT: Knowing that Swoops is probably still on a food/cover pattern and based on the wind direction, Clay and I were excited to climb in some Summits on the northeast corner of the Pops plot.
GRANT: The stands were placed so we could approach, hunt, and exit without alerting deer during the south/southeast wind. A lot of deer tend to enter this plot during the narrow east end exactly how Slingshot did last year.
GRANT: Once we climbed into the Summits, that forecast southeast wind – well it was a light, swirly wind that kind of went several directions, but we believed if Swoops entered from the east, we’d still have a good opportunity for a shot.
GRANT: Unfortunately, just as light was fading, Swoops stepped out about 150 yards to the southwest.
CLAY: (Whispering) That’s him. That’s Swoops right there.
GRANT: After Swoops had drifted out into the plot just a bit feeding, his head popped up, and it was obvious those light and swirly winds had allowed our scent to drift out into the plot.
GRANT: Swoops and the other buck didn’t bolt out of the field. You could tell they got just a whiff. They were alerted, and they eased out of the field, back into the cover of the timber.
GRANT: Fortunately, just a few days later, Swoops was back in the Pops plot.
GRANT: I wanted to share this hunt for several reasons. One, I believe it’s a great example of older deer behavior. Our first encounter with Swoops was during the fall of 2015; we believed he was four years old at that time. During the next few years, Swoops was primarily nocturnal, and we didn’t see him in person.
GRANT: Bucks that are five, six, seven years of age are often very difficult to hunt. They seem to be in the prime of their life, and they’ve had some education during those earlier years and they’ve learned how to avoid hunters.
GRANT: If bucks survive to eight, nine, ten plus years of age, it seems they start moving much more during daylight hours. And I and others believe that’s because they’re getting a bit senile; and their body is not in prime condition anymore, so they’re probably moving during daylight where it’s easier to avoid predators, four-legged predators, and not have confrontations with prime-aged bucks.
GRANT: Another lesson is that Swoops, obviously, was not extremely alerted. He just slipped out of the field. And that’s probably due to our scent control and just a little bit of our scent – probably our respiration – whiffed up to the area where he was feeding.
GRANT: Remember no scent control system is perfect. We’re respirating. Unless you’re breathing into a contained cylinder, you’re putting scent in the area around where you hunt.
GRANT: Whatever happened, Swoops returned to the plot just a few days later.
GRANT: Hunting during these early season cool fronts and taking advantage of that food/cover pattern can be very productive. Just a few days later, Clay and I were hunting from a Redneck blind in another plot when we had an encounter with a different hit list buck.
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GRANT: It had rained the previous night, and humidity levels were still very high. In addition, the wind was low to non-existent. Clay and I wanted to hunt, so we went to a Redneck blind in a plot we call Big Boom.
GRANT: It’s a long, skinny plot, and the blind is about in the middle. I wanted to observe where deer were using the plot and hopefully get a shot. We got in the blind, kept all the windows shut to contain our scent, and waited for deer to appear.
GRANT: There was about an hour left of shooting light when antlers appeared in the east end of the plot.
CLAY: (Whispering) Oh yeah. I think that’s Hemi.
GRANT: (Whispering) Yeah. (Inaudible)
GRANT: We often get questions of why we assign certain names for a buck. In this case, Hemi doesn’t stand for a big engine. It stands for hemionus, a species of a mule deer. And even though Hemi is a whitetail, his antlers has some mule deer characteristics.
CLAY: (Whispering) He’s got to be within bow range of like that side of the tree line. Isn’t he?
GRANT: (Whispering) Oh yeah.
CLAY: (Whispering) On this side?
GRANT: (Whispering) Oh yeah. Oh yeah. We used to have a stand down there.
CLAY: (Whispering) I mean if we got more southeast winds and if we get one that’s got a decent wind…
GRANT: (Whispering) Or a southwest –
CLAY: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: (Whispering) – and it was just on that side.
CLAY: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: Throughout the hunt we saw deer in both ends of the plot, and none of them were alerted. That’s the advantage of sitting in a quality blind with good gaskets around the windows that keeps almost all the scent in.
GRANT: The Hemi encounter was possible because we sat in a Redneck blind with all the windows shut so we wouldn’t be busted. And that was worth it because that afternoon we learned where Hemi was entering the plot and we’ve since hung a pair of Summit stands on the north side, so we’re all set and just waiting on another south wind.
GRANT: Another observation is there were a lot of deer, head down, feeding in the plot. And that tells me there’s not many acorns on the ground in the surrounding area. Hunting food plots or bottlenecks leading to food plots is a very viable option at this time here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: I’d like to share one more hunt. Daniel and Evan hunted at a plot we call Big Cave. They went there because our Reconyx cameras showed us several deer were in the area.
GRANT: During that hunt, Daniel saw a doe feeding on some acorns.
GRANT: That doe never came within Daniel’s range, but he confirmed the food plot was doing good, and there’s also a few acorns around that plot.
GRANT: It’s really important to note that Daniel and Evan were able to approach, hunt, and exit without knowingly alerting any deer in the area.
GRANT: The following afternoon the wind was forecast to be from the same direction, so Daniel and Clayton returned to the same Summit stands.
GRANT: During that hunt, they had a good encounter with several does.
GRANT: Unfortunately, they never provided a good shot opportunity, but we did harvest some more lessons.
GRANT: We’re frequently asked how often a stand should be hunted, and Daniel’s hunt is a perfect illustration to answer that question.
GRANT: Daniel and Evan were able to approach, hunt, and exit the first afternoon without alerting any deer, so it’s like the stand was never hunted. If you don’t alert deer, they don’t know it was hunted. There’s not a tick mark on a tree beside there that says, “Oops, there’s hunters in the area.”
GRANT: You can hunt a stand as frequently as you want and the conditions are appropriate for that location as long as you’re not alerting deer.
GRANT: Tying that back at Clay and I’s hunt at Pops, we knew Swoops was slightly alerted, so we opted to give that area a break for a few days.
GRANT: In Daniel’s case no deer were alerted; and he was able to return the next night and saw even more deer.
GRANT: You can hunt a stand as frequently as you want and the conditions are appropriate as long as deer are not being alerted in the area and associating that area with danger. Be cautious to not alert too many deer in an area because they will associate that area with danger and often shift to using a different portion of their home range.
GRANT: Check us out on social media to see our observations from our daily hunts.
GRANT: I hope these observations help you with your hunting this week and that you take time to enjoy Creation. But most importantly, I hope you take time every day to be quiet and listen to the Creator and His will for your life.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.