This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: Late season can be a great time to pattern deer – especially if you know the location of the herd’s favorite food source. Colder than normal temperatures can result in deer being more active during daylight hours. This means some of the best late season hunts when you’ve really got to bundle up.
GRANT: That’s exactly what happened last week when Adam and Matt were out. A cold front had just passed The Proving Grounds and they had to have several layers of clothing on. It was a couple of great days of hunting during that portion of December. But now that the temperatures have warmed up, the deer patterns have changed.
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GRANT: Due to the warmer temperatures, Daniel and I headed back to a clover food plot where I recently had some success.
GRANT: Daniel and I had just settled into the stands when I heard turkeys scratching just across the ridge.
GRANT: (Whispering) I can hear some turkeys scratching just off the ridge and a bunch of crows are over there pestering ‘em. If they come up and there’s a mature tom, we may see if we can have some turkey.
GRANT: The gobblers were feeding on acorns and clover and I wasn’t sure they were gonna close the gap and give me a shot before they pitched off the ridge and flew up to roost.
GRANT: When the toms were about 60 yards from our stands, Daniel noticed a deer on the opposite end of the ridge feeding toward the food plot.
GRANT: Just before dark, the toms started closing the distance.
GRANT: Daniel and I started hearing and seeing turkeys that were across the ridge and out of sight fly up to the trees to roost. I was hoping the toms that were in the plot wouldn’t join them, but would continue feeding toward our stands.
GRANT: (Whispering) All right. I got the first one. Are you focused?
DANIEL: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: (Whispering) Are you on it?
DANIEL: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: Daniel and I watched the tom fly to the roost, sway in the top of the tree, and heard him hit the ground.
GRANT: When we turned around, the button buck was clearly curious what caused all the noise but he did not appear alerted. In fact, he continued feeding after a short period of time.
GRANT: At dark, we got out of the Summit Stands and went down to retrieve my arrow and the turkey. It was an easy recovery since we’d saw exactly where it had fallen.
GRANT: Turkeys were down in the woods scratching acorns heavily and that’s probably why we didn’t see a lot of deer in the food plot this afternoon. Did have a button back came up close. Of course, button bucks offer you shots all over. You know, it’s an important management thing. We passed that button buck at a few yards from the stand and took a turkey. I had a tag for him; we’ve got plenty of turkeys on the property; and it’s probably better for our overall wildlife management plan. But, I’ve never seen so many feathers stuck to an arrow. The Havoc certainly cut a big hole on this bad boy. He pitched off the ridge about 70 yards, lit in a tree just for a second or two, teetered and hit the ground.
GRANT: You can fairly accurately estimate a turkey’s age by the spur length. And on this bird, they’re about a half inch or a little bit longer. Would have been a two year-old going into next turkey season. Turkeys are born in the spring so birthdays are in the spring. Probably about a seven inch long beard – very full. But, beard length is not all that representative of turkey age. Spurs are the key when you’re estimating the age of a gobbler.
GRANT: It will be interesting to open up this turkey and see what he’s been eating. I call that scouting from the skinning shed. Right now, I assume there’s gonna be a lot of acorns and probably some clover.
GRANT: Daniel and I are back at the shop where we can inspect the bird in full light. Not a lot of blood in a turkey. God didn’t build ‘em that way. Of course, liquid or blood is real heavy. Anything that flies doesn’t want a lot of blood in it. So, there was blood on the white fletching. Clearly a pass through, but look at the amount of feathers that stuck on there – knowing that it carried a lot of blood as the arrow passed through.
GRANT: I’ve been using these Havocs on deer, hogs and turkey. And once again, it worked perfectly.
GRANT: Turkeys have relatively small vitals compared to a deer or bear or something like that. The easiest way to find those vitals is go straight up the leg and where the secondary feathers come around.
GRANT: Here’s my entrance hole right here. Pretty much right on target and it worked well.
GRANT: Let’s get inside this turkey and see what he’s been eating and take care of the meat.
GRANT: When you’re dressing a turkey, you don’t want to just cut down through the feathers because that will make feathers go everywhere. Rather get a hold of the hide, right here on the breastbone, and then cut up. That way the feathers are just going out of the way and you’re not getting feathers. The feathers are staying attached to the hide and you’re not getting feathers everywhere.
GRANT: Very few feathers on there. Because we’re cutting out instead of in, so we’re not cutting through feathers. The knife blade just simply parts them out of the way and comes out very clean.
GRANT: See – this is an interesting part. What is in the crop of the turkey? Food is ingested, goes down the esophagus to the crop and then in the gizzard – which is a tough muscle almost the size of my fist – and grinds everything. That’s why turkeys go get grit or sand every morning. And that sits there in the gizzard and just grinds everything up so it can be digested later. Yeah, you’re gonna want tights of this.
GRANT: So, it’s loaded with clover. Of course, we shot him in a clover food plot. And acorns. Clover and acorns. And I don’t mean maybe, either. Look at all that clover. Clover and red oak acorns. Clover and red oak acorns. And I mean, he was ready to go to roost on a full tummy – or crop, if you will.
GRANT: In addition to clover, this turkey had a lot of red oak acorns in there. And that’s good scouting information. Whitetails eat red oaks too and it may mean we need to back off the food plots and hunt some of the stands in the timber.
SETH: (Whispering) It is December 18th. It is my all time favorite month to hunt. We’ve had a cold front move through. Um, we’ve got lows in the 20s; highs in the 40s. We’re not gonna be beggars. We’ve got a buck called The Riddler hopefully using these Eagle beans tonight. He’s been using ‘em the last two weeks. So, hopefully, tonight we’ve solved his riddle and he can’t resist these Eagle beans because this buck is just here – he’s there – he’s everywhere. He’ll set up shop here for a week; there for a week. It’s just a riddle trying to figure it – he’s always right in front of your nose. You just can’t seem to pinpoint. If you’re here; he’s there.
SETH: (Whispering) Um, you’ll come pull the card. He’ll be here for a week straight. So, hopefully tonight we’ve cracked the riddle on The Riddler and, uh, we’re gonna lay to bed this big ole dog. He’s an old bruiser. Uh, he’s not got a lot upstairs, but he’s a big mature buck.
SETH: (Whispering) I hunted this stand last night. It’s a food plot we call a 360 buffet. We’ve got beans; we’ve got greens; we’ve got bedding area – just like we like our food plots to be set up. However, we’ve got warm temperatures once again. It was cooler yesterday, warmer today. I saw a ton of deer last night. Um, we’re hunting a particular buck we call The Riddler. He makes his rounds for two or three days and then he’s gone and then he’s back. Um, he actually ranges to another property out quite a ways back to the north. It’s the oddest thing I’ve ever seen a buck do. But – hunted it last night, he wasn’t here. I’m hoping we crack his riddle tonight and he is here. Just a great ten point – fully mature. Know him well. Hopefully, we close the chapter tonight on a buck we call The Riddler.
SETH: Beautiful evening – beautiful if you like warm weather. Not beautiful if you like cold weather. But, it is a beautiful evening, so we’re gonna set back, enjoy the sunshine.
GRANT: It was a bluebird sky that afternoon, but it didn’t take long for deer to show up where Seth was hunting. The deer were feeding on the Broadside blend on the far end of the plot. But, Seth was confident, as the afternoon progressed that deer would work their way toward the standing Eagle Seed forage soybeans.
GRANT: These soybeans had been protected all summer. By protecting the beans, it allows them to make the maximum number of pods which is a great attractant during the late season.
GRANT: After watching deer work into and feed in the plot for more than an hour, Seth finally spotted Riddler.
GRANT: You can definitely tell it’s late season by the way these deer are feeding. Now that the buck Seth was hunting is in the plot, he’s hoping the buck comes all the way into the beans and within bow range.
GRANT: Seth watched Riddler for over 30 minutes and the buck is starting to ease closer and closer to his stand.
GRANT: The sun is now sinking below the horizon and the first group of deer are in the beans. This is a great example of why it’s important to keep the fence hot even after growing season. Seth had created a gap, but turned the fence off. Most of the deer entered the gap, but Riddler had other plans.
GRANT: Now that he’s in the beans, Seth is just waiting for Riddler to get in range.
GRANT: After watching the buck gorge himself on soybeans, it’s time for Seth to take the shot.
GRANT: Seth wisely decides to give the buck plenty of time and head back in the morning with Chase White to help take up the trail.
CHASE: Check your mic please.
SETH: Mic check. One, two.
CHASE: Tap it.
SETH: It’s midnight. We’ve gave the buck we call Riddler probably seven/eight hours. We’re not sure on the shot, but, uh, we’ve been playing cat and mouse with this buck. We named him The Riddler because it’s just been a riddle. The riddle continues. Hopefully, we’re gonna solve it tonight and find him at the end of a blood trail.
CHASE: Yeah. There’s blood to your left.
CHASE: Right there.
SETH: We need to figure out which tr- path he went here. You see him?
CHASE: Um, um.
SETH: Three AM, boys.
CHASE: He’s out.
SETH: O – he’s out cold.
CHASE: Woo-wee. Holy cow, dude. I want you to look at that shot and this deer is done.
SETH: He was quartering away. The shot should have been right there.
CHASE: Dude, look where it came out. I mean.
SETH: I wonder where it did come out.
CHASE: No. Look at the bottom; look where it’s sticking out.
CHASE: Look by your foot.
SETH: Oh, right there?
CHASE: Yeah. I mean, that’s an old bruiser right there. Look at those brows.
SETH: What an old bruiser. What a big bodied son of a gun. The riddle was cracked. Yes. It may have not been everything we hoped it to be, but it was – he lived up to his name. That’s for sure. This hunt has just been absolutely up and down from hunting him to recovering him. Um, Chase was the bloodhound tonight. We’ve tracked him – this deer for 500 yards with just specs of blood.
SETH: Um, the body language of the deer as I – when I made the shot – I kind of got backwards and, and we made a marginal shot, but the Havoc did its job. That’s one thing I will say – the Havoc rammed in and it cut stuff and it stayed in, um, and it did some damage. So, the riddle is over – we have solved the riddle at three o’clock in the morning on – what’s the date? It is the 20th now. And I don’t know what to say other than I am proud, proud to sit behind this buck and, um, I’m glad we didn’t wound him – a wound that he would have to live with. I’m glad we got our hands on him. What a stud. What an old dog – bridge nose. Big body for southern Missouri. I am tickled to have this buck. I’m tired. I’m ready for bed. And we’ve still got a lot of work ahead.
GRANT: Congratulations, Seth on a great buck and an excellent season.
GRANT: Missouri’s muzzleloader season is still open and a few days later, Chase White has a chance to go hunting.
CHASE: If you can’t tell, it’s almost dark. It’s four o’clock. Got about an hour and 15 minutes of daylight left. Just got off work; went and grabbed Seth and we come out here; got the muzzleloader. I’ve never killed a deer with a muzzleloader. Last year was my first attempt at it. I missed a doe. So, hopefully, I can redeem myself tonight. We’re sitting right on the highway.
GRANT: It was a slow afternoon, but just before dark, a few deer entered the field.
SETH: (Whispering) (Inaudible).
CHASE: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
CHASE: (Whispering) All right. We’ll give it a whirl.
GRANT: Chase didn’t waste much time letting a little smoke pour from the muzzleloader.
CHASE: (Whispering) You ready?
SETH: (Whispering) Yup.
CHASE: (Whispering) Well, I cut one down with the muzzleloader.
SETH: (Whispering) How far (Inaudible)?
CHASE: (Whispering) Right at 200 yards. There’s deer (Inaudible) they’re just getting ready to come out right here.
SETH: (Whispering) That 200 yard shot was cool.
CHASE: (Whispering) Yeah, it was. These BDC scopes are pretty awesome. Used a second BDC – dropped her in her tracks.
CHASE: December 22nd. My first muzzleloader hunt here in southern Missouri and we done some doe management tonight. 200 yards – dropped her in her tracks right behind the shoulder. My first muzzleloader kill period and we’re gonna load her up and get out of here.
GRANT: We had a critter in our Duke traps recently that’s not a normal catch for us.
GRANT: Easy, one, two. Easy, one, two. Easy. You’re okay. See, this isn’t bad at all.
GRANT: Interesting morning here at The Proving Grounds trap line as we’ve caught a large skunk. A striped skunk in one of the Duke cage traps. We don’t bait or set specifically for skunks but every now and then we’ll catch a skunk. And skunk are egg predators. They will eat turkey and quail eggs.
GRANT: It’s not easy to release a skunk out of a trap without getting a good dose of cover scent all over your body. And I think they have a beautiful pelt. Knowing that, plus the fact that they are nest predators, I’m going to dispatch this skunk.
GRANT: A little different technique for dispatching a skunk than most predators. Most predators, I use a Winchester subsonic hollow point. I want it to go in and expand rapidly so it does minimum damage to the pelt while doing maximum damage to the animal and dispatching it quickly.
GRANT: I want to make sure the skunk doesn’t spray. So, I use a solid lead point, the Winchester target load .22. I shoot for the lungs versus the head and I know, from past experience, that skunks shot in the lungs rarely spray.
GRANT: Skunks are basically fairly calm animals unless they find a turkey nest. So, as long as you move slowly and talk quietly, they rarely get excited when they’re in a trap.
GRANT: I’m gonna move off to the side where I can see the lungs clearly and dispatch this skunk. No spray. I don’t see any sign of respiration.
GRANT: The plan worked perfectly. The skunk was dispatched instantly with no movement or thrashing around and he didn’t spray. I’m always a little cautious just to make sure this skunk isn’t playing opossum, so I give him a few minutes just to make sure there’s no wiggling or anything going on and then I’ll take the skunk out of the trap and this will make a beautiful pelt for the Woods’ house.
GRANT: That is a beautiful skunk. The winter pelt of a skunk is beautiful. It’s thick; the hair is long. This will be a nice addition to our collection of pelts.
GRANT: This skunk had one of the prettiest pelts I’ve seen in quite some time and I can’t wait to get it tanned and display it for my friends and family to enjoy.
GRANT: I hope you have a chance to get outside and enjoy the unique views that are only available during the late winter. But most importantly, I hope you take time each day to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.
SETH: This is literally where the deer died. Just about ten feet up the hill. You can’t ask for better service. We drove through; deer was laying there; we drove 600 yards; walked back to here. If we only would have known. We would have already been in bed.