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WOODS: A few weeks ago, my friend, Rob Freeman, from South Carolina came over to join me for a bow hunt here at The Proving Grounds. And Rob’s a relatively new hunter. Now, he’s my age, but only got introduced to hunting a couple years ago. Ate up with hunting just like any new hunter. Excited, up early every morning, thousands of questions while you’re out there in the tree. Join Rob and I as we have several encounters and a great hunt the last morning he’s in town. Rob’s not used to having a camera over his shoulder, so, I’m trying to get Rob to talk to the camera and tell us about the hunt and he’s kind of bashful in that situation.
FREEMAN: (Whispering) 31 yards to the road. The sun is just starting to set. I’m here with my good friend, Grant Woods. We’re at a property in the Ozarks that’s never been hunted. Deer have been thriving here for eight years. We got in late. We’re set up on the ridge. (Inaudible) the wind blowing. It’s a lot cooler this afternoon than it was in South Carolina when I was up last night. Looking forward to a sunset.
WOODS: Sure enough an adult doe and a couple fawns come up, go right by the tree and mill around the area and I call Rob off the shot because here at The Proving Grounds we’ve got great amounts of food, high quality food plots, and we don’t need a really large doe harvest to keep our population in balance with the food. Here at The Proving Grounds, usually we have a four and a half year old or older buck limit, unless it’s my kids and I or a first time hunter or something like that. Rob’s got the green light to shoot whatever he wants because, again, great friend, new hunter, just want him to have a great time.
FREEMAN: (Whispering) It’s the last morning of our four day hunt. Um, last night we moved our stand location off the ridge. We weren’t seeing a lot of movement during the light hours and we eased off the side of the ridge and we moved into an acorn draw here and a draw leading down to the bedding area. We saw four or five does in here last night. Big flock of turkeys came to roost just 50 yards to our right and we slipped out; came back in this morning.
WOODS: Doing interviews and I see a doe and some fawns coming through. And they’ve got that cadence or that trot that always means in November a buck’s probably pushing them.
FREEMAN: (Whispering) Buck…buck…buck! (Background noise). He was moving. He was grunting, we heard him coming. We saw his size. We got drawn on him just as he passed our position and we bleated and stopped him and I just felt that I only had a second or two for the shot, so I took it.
WOODS: This buck come pushing some does through. I’m on one side of the tree hanging out with the camera. Rob’s on the other and he made the shot. It worked out great. You know, my naked eye and the reaction time of my brain told me Rob hit that deer high in the shoulder. I’m thinking, “Gosh, what a tough trail job this is gonna be in these steep hills.” Rob, right after his shot, really felt he’d hit the deer in the fanny. And if you review that footage in slow motion, you can see that when the arrow hits the deer, it instantly pops up to fletching. That’s what my brain froze on. It takes the first step, Rob sees that fletching way back on the deer and thought he made a bad hunt. Now, not all hunters are gonna have the advantage of a high definition camera recording the hunt right in the field with them. So, don’t always trust what you see when shooting a fast speed bow.
FREEMAN: We’ve given the deer about, uh, 45 minutes. We just got down. As you can see, we’re about 23, 24 yards from the stand. We just got down. We’re feeling pretty positive based on what we see up here on the top of the hill. This is, this is, um, where the rubber meets the road right here. Okay. I’ve got an arrow right here. Looks like we got 8-10” of penetration on the arrow, shooting an expandable broad head. Look like he slipped right here. He’s leaving us a good trail, but I don’t see him. Grant, I see him.
WOODS: You see him, Rob?
FREEMAN: See him.
WOODS: Give me to five.
FREEMAN: I see him.
WOODS: All right.
FREEMAN: Grant, that looks like a pretty good shot to me. What an unbelievable animal. He’s been rubbing this morning. He’s got, um, he’s got wood chips on the top of his head where he’s been rubbing this morning and leaving sign. And, uh, now here he is with us. I remember eight or nine years ago when Grant bought this property. Um, I think there’s about 1500 acres in here and, uh, we thought that there were five deer, at the most, on the whole property. There’s been no hunting here for eight years. This is the first year that Grant has really decided to allow some limited hunting and I guess you can see what’s happening. We’ve seen deer every day when we’re going to the stand; when we’re coming from the stand. Is he a three year old?
WOODS: I don’t know. He’s a two or three, but he’s a great deer and he’s ours. He’s gonna, he’s gonna be about a 12 year old by the time we get to the top of this hill. That’s what it’s gonna be.
FREEMAN: I got it under control. Don’t worry. Don’t send for help. I got it.
WOODS: The story here is: don’t trust what your eye tells you when you’re in a high state of emotion. It’s tough to comprehend all that information simultaneously. Slow down. Take a moment to think it through. Give the deer plenty of time. Then get out of the tree and read the sign. There was ample blood to follow and the deer was piled up 80 yards downhill. Nothing tough about the whole hunt, except the drag up hill. Stay calm after a shot. Those are the most important moments. Replay it in your mind, but don’t doubt the sign. Hey, thanks for joining us on GrowingDeer.tv.