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>>GRANT: He’s down. Man!

>>GRANT: I’ve enjoyed many great hunts in an area of The Proving Grounds we call Boomerang. I was excited to return to the Redneck blind in the Boomerang area during a recent cold morning.

>>GRANT: It was a beautiful morning as the sun started to rise over the mountains and warm up those south-facing slopes around me. It was still early when I spotted a group of does and fawns walking down the spine of a ridge to my north.

>>GRANT: There’s a food plot on the top of that ridge, a ways through the timber from where I could see. And I suspected those does and fawns had been feeding in the plot and were working down that ridge toward cover.

>>GRANT: Carter and I watched those deer work down the spine of the ridge and into a narrow strip of timber in the valley.

>>GRANT: A few minutes later they popped out on our side of the valley and crossed about 280 yards in front of us.

>>GRANT: As I was watching these deer, Carter whispered there was another deer on the ridge to the north.

>>CARTER: [Whispering] It’s a big buck.

>>GRANT: It was a beautiful sight watching that buck come through the cover.

>>GRANT: The sun was hitting those tall, long, white tines, and I was eager to see if there would be a good shot opportunity.

>>GRANT: The buck traveled down the ridge in the same area that the does and fawns had used. Suddenly, that buck stopped and started rubbing.

>>GRANT: [Whispering] Making a rub.

>>GRANT: [Whispering] Looks like a good deer, doesn’t it?

>>GRANT: Notice how the spike kind of circled around and sniffed the rub the other buck made?

>>GRANT: As I watched the buck through my Burris scope, he finally stopped.

>>GRANT: [Whispering] Are you good?

>>CARTER: [Whispering] I’m good.

>>GRANT: [Whispering] He’ll stop. Okay. Ready?

>>CARTER: [Whispering] Yep.

>>GRANT: Right as I was settling in for the shot, he started walking again.

>>GRANT: He progressed on and entered the timber at the same area the does and fawns did. So, I was hopeful he’d go through the timber and come out on my side, just like the other deer.

>>GRANT: After a few minutes that seemed like thirty, we spotted antlers on our side of the timber.

>>GRANT: [Whispering] Okay. I’m going to take him.

>>CARTER: [Whispering] Okay.

>>CARTER: [Whispering] Yeah, baby. You smoked him. You got it right in the shoulder. You smoked him.

>>GRANT: [Whispering] Carter and I are in the Redneck blind. We call this Boom Glade. Tagged a bunch of bucks out here. And they did [Indiscernible] come off this other ridge to the north. There’s a big food plot on top and that north facing slope, there’s some acorns this year.

>>GRANT: [Whispering] A lot of does in there, of course. And they funnel down that ridge and settled the Burris crosshairs and on the shoulder.

>>GRANT: [Whispering] I didn’t see him fall but I don’t believe he went far. Carter doesn’t believe he went far. Wouldn’t put any weight on that leg. I was – take the shoulder out of big bucks like that so you don’t have to look too far for ‘em. Man, what – just a beautiful morning, I mean a stunning, beautiful morning.

>>GRANT: I was enjoying the moment. Thinking about the venison and really taking in that beautiful scenery with the native vegetation, when I spotted a couple more bucks on the other ridge.

>>GRANT: One of those yearling bucks worked another rub.

>>CARTER: [Whispering] They’re making their rub right [Indiscernible] rub.

>>GRANT: [Whispering] Awesome, man. I told you that’s just where they travel right there.

>>CARTER: [Whispering] Yeah. They all came down on that ridge.

>>GRANT: Finding fresh rubs along the line is a great indicator you’re in an area where bucks travel.

>>GRANT: These yearling bucks kind of proved that assumption as they worked down the same area the other buck did; crossed over on the same side. After the yearling bucks passed, I was ready to get out of the blind and take up the trail.

>>GRANT: Okay. We – up there in the Redneck. Actually, from the Redneck to the edge of the timbers. About 282, 285 and the buck was just this side of that. So, probably 278, 280 yards and he was standing right in front of this fallen-over, old cedar down here. So, we want to see if we can pick up the blood trail and take it from there. Somewhere right in here.

>>CARTER: Look up a little bit [Indiscernible].

>>GRANT: You’re looking at him. Oh, my goodness! Look at that. Look at that big boy. Yes, sir.

>>GRANT: This was a thrilling hunt but as I sit here, I’m really thinking about the years, many years we’ve used prescribed fire. We’ve burned there in the late winter. The dormant season burns and that really works on native grasses and burned during the late growing season – August/September – and that stimulates forbs. And that combination is great habitat for deer like this and the does and fawns. There’s food and cover.

>>GRANT: And during the rut, which we are right now – goodness it’s November 16th – bucks are seeking does. Does like to get in that thick cover area to kind of avoid bucks. It’s almost like beagles chasing rabbits in there. And when you’re up on a ridge and you can see into that cover, it’s a great way to see deer.

>>GRANT: Even better than the antlers is a bunch of fresh venison. So, we’re going to take this thing back to the shop and go to work.

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>>GRANT: As I always do, once we remove the hide, I want to check out the bullet performance.

>>GRANT: I was shooting Winchester’s Deer Season XP. And if you’re not familiar with it that’s a round developed specifically for whitetails.

>>GRANT: I always enjoy this part of processing a deer because you get to see the damage the bullet did. And that lets me compare different calibers and bullets. So, I was using a .243, a Winchester XPR .243. Great rifle for the price. I mean, like awesome, incredible.

>>GRANT: And I was using Deer Season XP ammo. This deer was 280 yards. So, the entrance is on this side and I like to shoot double shoulder. So, you can see right off the bat, man, I mean, just – just a lot of damage. Here’s our entrance here. But just a lot of damage. A lot of shock right off the bat. And I come on in here and that damage when we come in – oh, look at that man. We just start taking this shoulder off and you can tell, man. I mean, it’s just, you know, that bullet did exactly what it was supposed to do.

>>GRANT: As I looked at where the bullet had entered the buck, it was obvious it had broken his shoulder. And this was a downhill shot. I was shooting downhill. So, here’s the exit and you’re thinking, “Oh, that’s not very big.” But remember Deer Season XP, left most of its energy inside this deer.

>>GRANT: There we go. I mean, it was just jelly. Whoo! I mean, jelly. The bullet entered one shoulder, took out both lungs. Did a great job. But stayed together enough that it actually exited the far shoulder.

>>GRANT: .243 on a good buck. 280-yard shot. Deer Season XP. Plenty of energy. It jellied. It went in the shoulder, through that shoulder bone. In between the ribs – that’s just chance. Jellied the front lungs. Front lungs, jelly, and then out the other side, 60-yards and tipped over. Perfect performance.

>>GRANT: I was very thankful for the experience and the venison it provided.

>>GRANT: This hunt illustrates some good rut hunting strategies.

>>GRANT: The first that I’d like to share is hunting near or looking into quality cover is a great place to hunt during the rut.

>>GRANT: During this time of year, it sure seems like does seek out thick cover to avoid or hide from pesky bucks.

>>GRANT: On the other side of that coin, bucks often go into thick cover or at least on the downwind side, looking for receptive does.

>>GRANT: We’ve shown many times that using the thick cover strategy is a great rut hunting technique. But there’s a caveat there. You need to also consider the shot opportunity.

>>GRANT: Several years ago, I was hunting from the Redneck blind in Boomerang and a big buck we called Head Turner came out into the area on the same trail that this buck used. However, the native grass was so tall that year there was no shot opportunity. I could see Head Turner’s antlers and his shoulder every now and then but there wasn’t a good shot opportunity. I know that stuff, such as grass or little saplings, can deflect a bullet. Fortunately, Head Turner responded to a grunt call. Came up the mountain and presented a good shot opportunity.

>>GRANT: Years ago, when I was laying out the plan for here at The Proving Grounds, we did a bunch of work in that area. It was covered with cedars, and we felled all those cedars with chainsaws, let ‘em lay for a year or two, and then used prescribed fire to consume much of that wood and also stir up that native seed bank and allow those native species to grow.

>>GRANT: To maintain and even improve the quality of that native habitat through the years, we’ve used a series of dormant and growing season fires. Now dormant fires are late winter – think February/March/April, depending on where you are – and growing season fires are late summer or early fall.

>>GRANT: This rotation of using both dormant and growing season fires has significantly reduced the amount of hardwood saplings and resulted in higher quality native vegetation.

>>GRANT: It’s widely known that dormant season fires favor grasses and growing season fires favor forbs. A combination of both will give you high-quality habitat. However, I’ve observed, during several hunts here, that on years following a dormant season fire – you know, we burned it in that February or March and were hunting that fall – the native grasses respond so well that it’s tough to see or get a shot opportunity.

>>GRANT: It doesn’t take too many times of watching a big buck get out of there without a good shot opportunity, to know you need to weed eat or mow some shooting lanes in those big grass areas before hunting season.

>>GRANT: Looking at that north slope brings up another good point. Depending on the height of the vegetation or the height of the hunter relative to the vegetation, you may not need to do any mowing or weed eating. On that north slope the vegetation right below the deer is much lower because it’s fairly steep. And we’re higher so we can usually see the vitals of the deer like I did on a big buck we call Handy and make the shot without any issues.

>>GRANT: The last lesson I’d like to share, and it may not be as obvious to a casual observer, is that the conditions were just right to hunt that location. When I’m saying conditions, I’m not talking about wind direction, although they were favorable and that’s very important. But I’ve learned through the years that bucks and does prefer to be in those areas on cold, bluebird days. If it’s sopping wet, who wants to go lay in a wet mat of grass? I don’t think deer do either. And if it’s warm, well, gosh, we were there because that sun’s going to come up and warm that area first and deer can use that radiant energy to get warm.

>>GRANT: I’ve hunted here on really warm days; those odd warm days in the fall and, you know, you’ve got a lot of time looking around and might see the occasional deer. But it’s never the same hunt quality as hunting in those areas on a cold, clear day.

>>GRANT: Just because a place is a good hunting location doesn’t mean you need to hunt there all the time. And it’s really important to consider the conditions and why deer would be active at that location before selecting it as your hunt for the day.

>>GRANT: The afternoon after my hunt, Daniel used that strategy – selecting a hunting location based on the current conditions. It got warm that day. Gosh, it got into the mid-60s and the average high for that day was about 55, 56. So, Daniel knew deer with that big, thick, fur coat on and starting to store fat, would probably want to be in a cooler part of their home range.

>>GRANT: We’ll share that hunt and more details about the strategy on the next episode.

>>GRANT: Whether you’re out scouting trying to find current sign, maybe like a rub line or walking in a city park, I hope you have a chance to get outside and enjoy Creation. But most importantly, I hope you take time, every day, to be quiet and intentionally seek God’s will for your life.

>>GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.