This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: Last summer an unknown buck showed up on our Reconyx cameras. This buck had a lot of neat antler characteristics, so we posted a video of him on our social media pages and asked folks to suggest a name.
GRANT: Many folks suggested we name him Slingshot because he had a fork on his G2 and G3 tines and the name stuck.
GRANT: At that time we estimated Slingshot was three years old and decided to pass him for a year and allow him to mature and express more of his antler growth potential.
GRANT: Our Reconyx cameras captured a lot of pictures and videos of Slingshot throughout that fall in many different areas.
GRANT: The amount of travel Slingshot did during the fall was another indicator he wasn’t fully mature.
GRANT: Each buck is a unique individual. But as a rule of thumb, as bucks mature, they use a smaller portion of their home range.
GRANT: During the end of October last fall, Daniel had our first encounter with Slingshot while hunting on the 50-Acre Ridge.
GRANT: Then late in Missouri’s firearms season, Tyler had another encounter with Slingshot in a food plot we call Pops.
TYLER: (Whispering) Man, dude, he’s a pretty deer. (Inaudible)
GRANT: Early this summer we started getting videos and pictures of a buck we thought was Slingshot. As the summer progressed and the buck’s antlers developed, we knew it was Slingshot.
GRANT: During the summer of 2018, Slingshot and other bucks were very active in the southern portion of The Proving Grounds, again using the Pops plot. Based on the pattern these bucks were showing, Daniel and Clay hung a pair of Summits in the northeast corner of that plot.
GRANT: This location proved very productive as Daniel tagged a nice buck during an early November afternoon hunt.
GRANT: This summer Slingshot was again using the Pops plot.
GRANT: During the late summer and early fall, bucks are often on a food/cover, food/cover pattern. And finding a quality food source where the hunter can access, hunt and exit without alerting deer often leads to great encounters.
GRANT: In timber country there’s often a short period of time between when archery season opens and acorns start to fall that deer are on that food/cover, food/cover pattern and are often traveling a fair distance. But once acorns fall deer tend to feed and bed relatively close together and it makes it very difficult to approach these areas without alerting deer.
GRANT: Here there are not many acorns on the ground yet. Missouri’s archery season opened September 15th. September 17th, about 7:30 p.m., Slingshot walks in front of a Reconyx camera at the Pops food plot.
GRANT: Here it was unseasonably warm during the first week of Missouri’s archery season and most deer were moving after the sunset.
GRANT: September 20th a cold front passed over The Proving Grounds bringing rain and average daytime temperatures dropped by about 10 degrees.
GRANT: When weather changes favorably for deer, daytime deer activity tends to increase.
GRANT: A strong south wind was forecast for the afternoon of September 21st. And Clay and I believed there was a good chance Slingshot would be in the Pops food plot before dark.
GRANT: With a southerly wind, we could approach the Pops plot from the north side without alerting any deer that were bedded or traveling from the south side. This was a perfect setup as we believed Slingshot was bedded on and traveling from the south side of the plot.
GRANT: We were very excited because this was our first archery hunt during Missouri’s 2019 season.
GRANT: (Whispering) It’s the afternoon of September 21st and my first whitetail hunt here at The Proving Grounds this season. I’m super excited to be back up a tree here at home.
GRANT: (Whispering) There’s a lot of acorns but they haven’t started falling a lot yet and deer are literally browsing heavily on these beans. We’ve got a Reconyx right over here and it’s picking up some good bucks getting here right at dark or after dark. There’s a weather front coming in today. It’s a forecast of rain tomorrow and I’m hoping that change of weather is just enough to get the bucks on their feet and in the plot before dark.
GRANT: As the sun was setting, I was starting to wonder if Slingshot was going to show.
GRANT: Right at last light I spotted a buck. It was Slingshot.
GRANT: The plan worked which for me means it was a successful hunt. However, the light was low, so we watched him enjoy some beans.
GRANT: Slingshot was still enjoying beans not far from the stand when it was dark. I didn’t want to alert Slingshot and let him figure out the position of our stand.
GRANT: Tyler was still working on the property. So we got ahold of him and had him come to the plot in the Yamaha and use the Yamaha to alert Slingshot and push him out of the plot.
GRANT: By using this exit strategy, I felt there was a good chance Slingshot would return to the plot the next afternoon and, hopefully, a bit earlier.
GRANT: The following afternoon the wind was from the southwest. It had rained lightly during the day and it seemed like a great afternoon hunt. So Tyler and I returned to the Pops plot.
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GRANT: (Whispering) Tyler and I are back at Pops food plot where I hunted last night with Clay. We had a great encounter with a buck we call Slingshot, but it was just a little dark for camera light. Had a little rain today. Temperatures are at least ten degrees cooler and I’m hoping he’ll show a bit earlier.
GRANT: (Whispering) We have a backdoor approach to this stand, so we should not alert that buck. I believe he’s bedded on the other side of the ridge. We don’t walk down the plot because that might allow our wind to switch over there or leave a lot of scent in the plot, so.
GRANT: (Whispering) Fortunately, Tyler come in last night, drove to the plot, and pushed that deer and some other deer that came in after dark out of the plot, so they don’t associate this stand with danger. We should be set to hunt this stand again and the deer not know we’re in their range.
GRANT: All was quiet late into the hunt until I finally saw antlers coming through the trees.
GRANT: (Whispering) He moved like a rock. Whew. Slingshot, the buck I was after, 34 ½ yards. I was calm. Shot was good, clearly, but I could see the buck dropping as my arrow was going to him. I haven’t watched the footage yet, but I could tell he was dropping a lot, so. I’m afraid that’s a shoulder shot. I don’t know. We’re not gonna get a lot of blood.
GRANT: We could only find two small spots of blood where Slingshot left the plot. We looked and looked and just couldn’t pick up a trail. So we decided it was best to return to the office, watch the footage on a larger monitor and see if we could determine where he was hit and his reaction.
GRANT: It was obvious; Slingshot dropped several inches in response to the shot.
GRANT: Back up Daniel, a click or two. No. Forward a little bit.
GRANT: Slingshot not only dropped but had turned and was leaning at an extreme angle. The buck’s reaction greatly reduced the size of the effective kill zone.
GRANT: Flip – put a Post-It on where, you know, where we think that is and watch him move. Click the point where you think the arrow went in. I think my shot was very true. He just moved.
(Several talking at once)
TYLER: He just turned away from us.
GRANT: By marking the arrow’s path and then backing up the footage until right before Slingshot started reacting, it’s obvious the shot would have hit its mark.
GRANT: However, the buck did react. And his reaction time was so fast that when we slow it down, the video is a bit blurry and we could not tell exactly where the arrow hit.
GRANT: Look how far he’s laying over. Did y’all notice how far over he is?
TYLER: Yeah. He’s…
GRANT: So I mean…
DANIEL: He’s twisted.
GRANT: Oh yeah, he’s all. Look at that angle, you know, compared to this. Look how far he’s leaning over.
DANIEL: And his front’s even more than that.
GRANT: Even though I’ve got my bow set at 52 pounds, I’m not worried about the setup I’m using’s ability to penetrate. I use a heavy Bloodsport arrow and a Deadmeat broadhead.
GRANT: You may recall that with the same setup this spring, I shot through a boar in Florida. He had just come out of a wallow, was wet and muddy and sandy, and the arrow went all the way through the boar and stuck several inches in a palmetto tree that he was rubbing on.
GRANT: In this case, Slingshot was moving away from the arrow at a high rate of speed. Probably faster than an Olympic sprinter can take off out of the starting blocks.
GRANT: So if you imagine Slingshot going this way and my arrow’s catching him, but it doesn’t have the same impact as if the buck was standing still.
GRANT: To illustrate this, consider a parked car being hit by another car. There’s obviously more damage than if those same two cars are on a road and the car that’s hit is moving at 40 miles an hour and the car that taps it on the back is moving at 50 miles an hour. The car does much more damage when it hits the stationery vehicle.
GRANT: All right. So everyone study. Those trees are real important.
GRANT: Even with all these considerations, the guys and I returned with Crystal, our blood trailing dog, and tried to take up the trail.
GRANT: Well, a couple hours ago I shot Slingshot, one of our good bucks, and we’ve tried. We found just a little blood and lost it, so Crystal is gonna be up to bat. Hopefully, she’ll do it once again.
GRANT: We’re going to take off and once Crystal’s on it, you’ll know…
TYLER: Find it.
GRANT: …because Tyler will be skiing through the woods.
GRANT: Find it, girl. Find it.
GRANT: Crystal struggled to take up the trail. We found that a little bit odd ‘cause we’ve used Crystal to recover several deer. And it was probably because there was a lack of blood.
GRANT: Now remember, Crystal is trained to follow blood, not deer. Crystal lives here at The Proving Grounds with us and probably smells deer daily and never chases them. She’s trained for the smell of blood, not the generic smell of deer.
GRANT: Crystal finally picked up the trail and led us to more spots of blood.
UNKNOWN: Blood. Right here at my right foot.
GRANT: I got it. Come on girl. Find it. Find it.
GRANT: With Crystal’s help we spent about four hours trailing blood. We’d lose it from time to time and get back on the trail. And we’d traveled about 435 yards.
GRANT: Crystal or the four of us could not take the trail any further about midnight.
GRANT: I had to be out of town the next day, but the guys and Crystal returned early and tried to take up the trail.
DANIEL: All right. We’re out and we are on the last blood that we marked on onX. We’ve got the map pulled up. We can kind of, we had all our trackers on and everything so we could see where we were going. And we’re on last blood. And we’re gonna pick it up and see what we can find.
GRANT: The team never found any more blood and started searching for a body. We spent more than 36-man hours looking for the deer; covered many miles and several acres and still found no more sign.
GRANT: It’s easy to find blood and consider it a fairly large volume. And that’s probably because humans rarely bleed or see much blood.
GRANT: I did some research and humans and several mammals have about an ounce of blood per pound of weight. Many reports I read made the assumption that deer have about the same ratio.
GRANT: Based on other bucks we’ve tagged here at The Proving Grounds, I believe Slingshot probably weighed about 200 pounds or maybe even more, which means he would have had more than six quarts of blood.
GRANT: To put this in perspective, a quart of paint will cover 100 square feet. 100 square feet. We probably didn’t find a foot or two of square foot of blood given all the little drops we found.
GRANT: So the blood we found probably is only a couple of ounces. Now Slingshot could have lost more blood internally and I’m sure we didn’t find all the blood that was on the ground.
GRANT: In the end, I still don’t know exactly where Slingshot was hit. I sure hope we get a trail camera picture of him soon.
GRANT: I’ve seen many deer throughout my career survive injuries that I thought were life threatening.
GRANT: I realize many folks would not share this hunt. But I believe the lessons we’ve learned will not only help the GrowingDeer Team but many other hunters. So I’ve made my choice to share it and I ask, please don’t send me a lot of hate mail. I’ve explained why I’m sharing it and, hopefully, you can benefit from the lessons.
GRANT: We’ve seen deer react differently to shots many times throughout the years. These reactions have occurred with the same setups, the same hunters and even different setups.
GRANT: I started my hunting career using a recurve bow. And I’ve watched this type of reaction throughout my entire career.
GRANT: The factor that is the most variable is the conditions during the hunt.
GRANT: Making wise decisions about shot opportunities requires considering each opportunity individually and not following a formula.
GRANT: When Slingshot walked out, until I took the shot, he was extremely calm. I don’t believe he knew any hunters were around the plot.
GRANT: I let that influence me more than how quiet it was. And I should have realized it’s extremely quiet and 34 yards is too far to take a shot with a bow under those conditions.
GRANT: I’ve tagged deer, elk and hogs all at the same or even further distances. But in each case, there were different conditions. As we’ve shown, my lighted nock was extremely bright during the shot. But what you may not know, there was a Reconyx camera that had almost the same view as Slingshot. And fortunately, it was taking a video right during my shot.
GRANT: The camera and Slingshot had almost exactly the same view. But from the camera’s point of view, the lighted nock is not visible.
GRANT: I share this because through the years we’ve received a lot of questions from hunters that have obviously had a similar experience and are asking if lighted nocks alerted the deer.
GRANT: I believe the Reconyx video clearly shows that deer are not seeing the lighted nock. That light is behind the arrow and blocked from that point of view.
GRANT: I hope we see or get trail camera pictures of Slingshot again soon. I still feel bad and am losing sleep about my decision to take that shot.
GRANT: My good friend, New York Times best-selling author and fellow hunter, Andy Andrews, often says, “It’s much easier and usually with less pain to learn from other people’s mistake.”
GRANT: I wish I’d have learned this from watching someone else.
GRANT: If you know a fellow hunter that would enjoy this type of detailed information about hunting, please encourage them to subscribe to GrowingDeer.
GRANT: For here at The Proving Grounds, the weatherman forecasts cooler temperatures and fall-like conditions. It’s a great time to get outside and enjoy Creation.
GRANT: But most importantly, I hope you take time every day to slow down, be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.