This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
HEATH: (Whispering) White oak acorns are falling behind us. There’s been deer all in here all morning.
GRANT: During this episode, Pro Staffer Heath Martin from Arkansas tags a big buck. And we’ll share Heath’s strategies and my observations that, hopefully, will help you put more venison in the freezer and some antlers on the wall.
GRANT: Heath hunts the Ouachita Mountains in central Arkansas. The Martin family farm has steep hollers and the primary habitat type is mature hardwood forest, primarily oaks.
GRANT: When there’s a lot of oaks and they make a great crop of acorns, hunting can be very difficult because there’s food everywhere.
GRANT: Throughout the years, Heath and his wife, Lindsey, have worked to improve the habitat including prescribed fire, TSI and also creating several food plots.
GRANT: Their work has resulted in several great hunts and an increase in the overall deer population.
GRANT: You might remember that last fall, Heath tagged a couple of large bucks within a few days of each other.
HEATH: Well, look at that big, ole joker.
GRANT: During the winter, Heath was out on the farm doing some work and he found a matched set of antlers just a few yards apart. These antlers belonged to a buck Heath called Droopy.
HEATH: (Inaudible) How about that for a matched set? Oh yeah.
GRANT: When they got the first pictures of Droopy during the fall of 2020, he looked really nice. When you look at his antlers, you might notice the front tips down a little bit and that’s why Heath calls him Droopy.
GRANT: Droopy was at the top of Heath and Lindsey’s hit list for the hunting season of 2020.
GRANT: As part of their 2020 deer management plan, Heath and Lindsey knew they needed to remove a few does and work toward balancing the number of mouths on their property and the amount of quality forage they can grow.
GRANT: During Arkansas’ muzzleloader season earlier this year, Lindsey grabbed the smoke pole and headed to a Redneck blind with hopes of getting some venison for their freezer.
LINDSEY: (Whispering) Are you on her?
HEATH: (Whispering) Yeah, I am. All right.
LINDSEY: Well, there she is.
GRANT: She harvested two does during that season and helped them a step or two closer to their management goal.
LINDSEY: I’m proud of this one. We’re gonna get her to the skinning shed after this.
GRANT: During one of Lindsey’s hunts with the muzzleloader, they saw Droopy cut across the corner of a food plot, but he went by so fast they couldn’t even get the camera on him.
LINDSEY: (Whispering) After a little bit of chasing on the far end of the field, they went up into these woods. So all the more we’re gonna hang tight here. She may come back in and bring that buck or another buck with her. Or as the morning progresses, I’m sure we’re gonna see some more does come in.
GRANT: Muzzleloader season ended the last day Lindsey was hunting. So the next afternoon, Heath grabbed the Prime and headed to a Redneck blind.
GRANT: It was rainy, but Heath and Lindsey were dry and comfy in the blind and the deer were active.
GRANT: One of the deer they saw was a doe crossing the field and behind that doe was Droopy.
HEATH: (Whispering) (Inaudible) A shot of that (Inaudible).
GRANT: Knowing Droopy was in the area, Heath decided to get off the food plot and hang a stand in the timber.
GRANT: Heath positioned a stand just off the corner of the field, which was a great move because bucks can stay in the timber, cruise around the field and look and scent check for does in the plot.
HEATH: (Whispering) White oak acorns are falling behind us. There’s been deer all in here all morning. I’ve seen a buck cross the food plot here at the crack of light. It’s Halloween. It’s go time. The weather is perfect. We’re in a good spot. We’re locked and loaded. So stay tuned. We’ll see what happens.
GRANT: During that hunt, he saw several deer.
GRANT: Then he spotted antlers through the timber. It was Droopy.
GRANT: Unfortunately, Droopy never came within range but Heath knew he was in the game.
GRANT: That afternoon the conditions were favorable for Heath to hunt a food plot. But he wanted to use a different technique. He placed a decoy in front of his blind.
GRANT: He sprayed the decoy down with D/Code field spray to remove any scent and then added some Code Blue scent to the mock scrape in an effort to attract deer within shot range.
GRANT: Appealing to both a buck’s eyes and his sense of smell, Heath was hoping his setup would be enough to attract Droopy or another mature buck within range.
GRANT: This young buck bowed up and it’s easy to tell he was challenging the decoy. His hair is standing up and his ears are pinned back. He was looking for a fight.
HEATH: (Whispering) (Inaudible).
GRANT: Decoying can be a very effective technique when used appropriately.
LINDSEY: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
ANNOUNCER: GrowingDeer is brought to you by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. Also by Reconyx, Eagle Seed, Winchester, Avian-X Decoys, LaCrosse Footwear, Morrell Targets, Bog, Thlete Outdoor Apparel, Hook’s Custom Calls, Summit Treestands, RTP Outdoors, Yamaha, Fourth Arrow, onX Hunt, Scorpion Venom Archery, Case IH Tractors, Bloodsport Arrows, Burris Optics, Code Blue, D/Code, G5 Broadheads, Prime Bows, and Redneck Hunting Blinds.
HEATH: (Whispering) (Inaudible) I wasn’t sure about it.
GRANT: The next morning Heath decided to hunt a stand a little further south than the stand behind the bottleneck. There was a big red oak dropping acorns and Heath felt Droopy would be feeding there.
GRANT: During this hunt, Heath saw several deer feeding on the acorns.
HEATH: (Whispering) We’ve been hunting a buck in here. We’ve had three encounters with him, and he’s just eluded us. We haven’t been able to get a shot. He was in here for an hour yesterday morning.
GRANT: Wanting to get closer to his management goal of balancing the number of deer with the amount of quality food they can grow, Heath decided to tag a doe.
GRANT: It was obvious this oak producing acorns was a hot spot for deer to be feeding and he felt it was just a short time before Droopy would come by and eat some acorns.
GRANT: With favorable conditions, Heath returned to the red oak stand the morning of November 2nd.
GRANT: Heath entered the woods from the west and slipped into the stand.
GRANT: This was a great back door approach. If Heath would have took the short route straight through the food plots, he would have alerted the deer in the plots and pushed them by his stand before he was there.
GRANT: But by being disciplined and taking a longer approach that avoided the food plots, he was able to slide into the stand very quietly, let deer that were feeding in the plots finish feeding and then slide into the timber, hopefully getting a mid-morning acorn snack.
HEATH: (Whispering) Well, good morning. It’s November the 2nd. I’m back here in the timber in the stand I hung a couple of nights ago under these red oak trees. I saw a ton of deer yesterday morning come by; they all came by these red oak trees. Just didn’t see the buck I came here in for. He just wasn’t with that group of does yesterday.
HEATH: (Whispering) It’s just getting good light here. The squirrels are already up here knocking acorns out of the trees onto the ground. So I figure the deer will be coming through here shortly.
HEATH: (Whispering) It’s kind of cool. These red oak acorns really aren’t falling. But right after daylight the acorns get up there – or the squirrels get up there and start knocking these acorns out. And shortly after, the deer come by and start picking them up. So – kind of a neat situation.
HEATH: (Whispering) But, anyway, it’s cold this morning. It’s like right at freezing. Super high pressure. November the 2nd. Beautiful day. Don’t know what more you could ask for. So we’re gonna hang tight to this tree for a while and see if we can get into some action. So, stay tuned.
GRANT: What Heath didn’t know at that time was Droopy walked in front of a Reconyx camera at 7:00 a.m., headed for the timber and toward his stand.
GRANT: It was early and once again Heath saw a lot of deer.
GRANT: You may notice that two of the deer had faint spots along their back. And this is a recessive genetic trait where some whitetails retain faint spots along their spine.
GRANT: Suddenly, Heath spotted antlers.
GRANT: The plan had worked perfectly, and Heath sent a Bloodsport through Droopy.
HEATH: (Whispering) Well, you’re not gonna believe that, but I just shot the buck I’ve been hunting named Droopy. Admittedly, I hit him a little further back than I would have liked. He started taking a step towards these does right when I released and – but the arrow is laying on the ground and there’s really good blood on the arrow and I can see blood on the ground right here, too.
HEATH: (Whispering) So, hopefully, I got one lung and probably the liver. Hopefully, he didn’t go far.
GRANT: Heath had Lindsey join him and help film as he picked up the trail.
HEATH: This arrow was just coated in bright red blood. It looks a little better than I was anticipating. So let’s take up the trail and see what we can find.
HEATH: We’re just 20 yards from where I shot. There’s pretty good blood here on the rocks. But what we’re gonna do is we’re kind of in the dog leg of this big food plot on the north end of our property. And he ran up the hill, stopped for several seconds and then he took off. I thought I heard him fall, but I’m not sure. But the food plot is right there – a couple, three acres across.
HEATH: So, I’m at least gonna trail him up to the top of the hill here and see if he is dead in the food plot or, you know, put a game plan on if we need to back out and let him go longer depending on this hit.
GRANT: Once Heath got to the top of the hill, he spotted something in the plot.
HEATH: He’s dead in the grass over there.
HEATH: Well, this is a five-and-a-half-year-old deer that we called Droopy. We actually found both of his sheds this winter, not 100 yards in the woods right over there.
HEATH: Don’t have a ton of history with him over the years. He just kind of showed up last year. And kind of started being a homebody buck. And then this year he has just lived here.
HEATH: And we’ve had five or six encounters with this deer since October the 25th. Today is November the 2nd. We’re right here. He died right in the food plot, actually. Come out of the timber and died in our food plot.
HEATH: Right there is a Redneck blind we’ve had two encounters with this year and wasn’t able to get it done. And then we moved some stands in the timber back here and had two or three encounters with him. And finally we got it done.
HEATH: But, man for a deer five and a half here to be that visible this time of year – just multiple encounters and he never knew we was hunting him. I mean, he never spooked or never winded us or nothing. So we just kept after it and he finally made a mistake and gave me a shot.
GRANT: Well done, Heath. You had multiple encounters with Droopy and kept adjusting your strategy to get in front of that buck, get some fresh venison in the freezer and a nice set of antlers for the wall.
GRANT: The Droopy hunt has several great lessons we can all learn from.
GRANT: First, Heath and Lindsey had several encounters with Droopy within a few days. There are many factors that likely contributed to this. But one that I believe is the primary factor.
GRANT: If you look at a map, these encounters happened within a relatively small area. It’s obvious that Heath and Lindsey’s approach wasn’t blowing Droopy across the mountain. In fact, they were very careful to always approach, hunt and exit without alerting deer in the area.
GRANT: Because they were very strategic about how they approached, hunted and left the area, Droopy didn’t know they were around – obviously. And he felt free to move throughout the area during daylight hours.
GRANT: Heath consistently adjusted his strategy. He went from the food plot to the physical bottleneck of the corner of the food plot and the timber behind it and, finally, to a large red oak dropping acorns.
GRANT: This oak producing acorns acted as a bottleneck in the middle of the timber.
GRANT: Scouting and hunting fresh sign like the food source under this red oak can be key to tagging more venison. But remember, such resources can change quickly during the deer season and if that resource changes before the conditions are right for you to hunt it, you need to put some boots on the ground and scout some additional places.
GRANT: The GrowingDeer Team is having an incredible deer season. If you’d like to stay up on the events daily, please check out our social media.
GRANT: Whether you’re scouting or hunting, it’s a great time to get outside and enjoy Creation. But most importantly, you want to take time every day to be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.