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>>DANIEL: As the pre-rut was starting to heat up, Grant and Clay had a heck of an encounter with a buck we call Slick on October 23rd.

>>GRANT: (Whispering) It’s a good deer.

>>CLAY: (Whispering) Yeah.

>>GRANT: (Whispering) It’s too dark.

>>DANIEL: Unfortunately, when old Slick came through, it was low light, and Grant wisely decided to hold off from the shot. Those low-light situations, well, they’re real hard to see body characteristics and to see those tiny limbs that could be in the way between the hunter and the critter.

>>GRANT: (Whispering) I would have took that deer, but there were some limbs in the way. Better to pass, get to hunt some more.

>>DANIEL: Those types of calls can be tough to make, but Grant was confident in his decision, and we believed he made a great choice. However, we had to wonder if we’d ever see Slick again.

>>DANIEL: Missouri’s firearms season typically falls during the peak of the rut. That’s when the most does are receptive. During that time, bucks don’t have to search as much to find a receptive doe because there’s more around. To be successful, hunters need an effective rut-hunting strategy.

>>DANIEL: When hunting during the rut, an effective strategy can be overlooking or looking into a bedding area with quality cover. That’s because these are areas that does will seek trying to avoid those pesky bucks.

>>DANIEL: Being able to observe and hunt these types of areas allows hunters to watch for bucks tending does, cruising through, or maybe circling downwind scent checking for those receptive does.

>>GRANT: Is he down?

>>ADAM: He’s down.

>>GRANT: He’s down!

>>DANIEL: Using this strategy, firearm hunters are able to cover a lot of ground. They’ve got a longer effective range than an archer, but archers shouldn’t overlook this strategy. If they can identify a pinch point or a bottleneck in a travel corridor leading to and from a bedding area, that can be a great rut-hunting location for an archer.

>>DANIEL: As part of this strategy, any time we can get in a hunting location where we can see a long ways and catch deer crossing, well, that can be very effective during the rut.

>>DANIEL: This may be looking between pine rows, a utility easement, or maybe a long, narrow food plot.

>>DANIEL: You may recall that during the second day of Missouri’s firearms season, Raleigh and I used this strategy at a food plot we call Rifle Range.

>>DANIEL: This strategy was spot on because Raleigh tagged a six-year-old buck we call Shadow.

>>RALEIGH: I am very pleased with the turnout of this evening.

>>DANIEL: At The Proving Grounds, we’re blessed to have a powerline easement that runs right through the property. It runs north and south. During firearms season, we’re able to use this easement to observe areas that we typically can’t hunt with a bow. That’s because those steep mountains, well, once you get in there, thermals start swirling, and it’s hard to effectively hunt during archery season. But you get a Winchester in our hands, we can overlook quite a bit of ground and we’ve had some great hunts.

>>DANIEL: Several years ago, Grant used this powerline easement strategy to harvest a big, mainframe ten we call Butterbean.

>>DANIEL: At that time, we had a Summit ladder stand overlooking a portion of the powerline below a food plot we call BPP.

>>DANIEL: The BPP powerline is a great hunting location, especially during this time of year when bucks are seeking those receptive does. That’s because there are two bedding areas on the side of the mountain. Bucks can cruise that side slope as the wind churns, scent checking those bedding areas looking for receptive does.

>>DANIEL: In addition, these bedding areas are on a south-facing slope. That’s the perfect place for deer to bed, to get in the sun, get warm when the temperatures are cool.

>>DANIEL: The BPP powerline easement was a proven hunting location, and a few years ago we decided to put up a 15-foot Redneck blind up the mountain a bit so we could overlook both the powerline easement and the BPP food plot.

>>DANIEL: It was just a few days into Missouri’s firearms season, and I was excited because I was sitting in the Redneck blind overlooking that BPP powerline, and I saw several deer.

>>DANIEL: The plan worked perfectly as these deer cross the powerline, but I was holding off for a buck.

>>DANIEL: Unfortunately, that big, ‘ole buck never showed up, and the next few days were unseasonably warm.

>>DANIEL: South facing slopes at this portion of the powerline, they receive a lot of sunlight. You pair that with warm temperatures – gosh, a deer with its winter coat on, it’s not gonna want to spend much time in these areas. Rather, they’re gonna go to areas that are cool – typically, that’s north-facing slopes.

>>DANIEL: Even though it was warm, I couldn’t help but be in the deer woods. I hunted hard for several days. I didn’t see any hit list bucks, but I started to see a lot of does.

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>>DANIEL: Seeing more and more does this time of year is a great indicator that the peak of the rut has passed. And that means there are fewer receptive does in the woods. This means bucks are having to travel more to find those few receptive does.

>>DANIEL: Buck activity after the peak of the rut, it’s very similar to the pre-rut. However, there are some exceptions. Of course, there’s not as many bucks running around because some have been harvested, and that increased level of activity doesn’t last as long as the pre-rut.

>>DANIEL: As the season began to wane, rain fronts began passing through The Proving Grounds. Those weren’t favorable conditions for hunting, but after they passed, it brought cooler temperatures, and that’s exactly what we were waiting for.

>>DANIEL: During the final morning of Missouri’s firearms season, I decided to return to the Redneck at the BPP powerline.

>>DANIEL: (Whispering) We’ve got a strong southeast wind today, so hoping to catch a buck cruising the side of this mountain. There’s acorns on this slope, so we’ve got a great food source. There’s a lot of great things going on. There’s some good bucks in the area. Hopefully, a buck comes through this morning. We’ll let the Winchester sing on the final day of Missouri’s rifle season.

>>DANIEL: Around 7:00 A.M., I spotted a few deer at the bottom of the mountain crossing the powerline.

>>DANIEL: (Whispering) Two does.

>>EVAN: (Whispering) Yeah.

>>DANIEL: These deer were crossing very low on the mountain, and I suspected they were gonna work their way up to that lower bedding area on the side of the mountain.

>>DANIEL: (Whispering) We’ve seen three does this morning. It’s about 7:45. The wind is starting to pick up. It’s kind of, coming out of that south. It’s getting pretty strong, so suspect deer are gonna want to stay out of that wind. So we’re gonna slide over across the holler here to another Redneck so we can watch a slope that’s out of the wind. Hoping that deer are crossing there.

>>DANIEL: (Whispering) Well we boogied around the mountain. As we’re setting up, a little yearling buck crossed the powerline, moving from the east to the west. The southeast winds – they kind of cut across like this. So anything to the east is not gonna know we’re here, and it’s strong enough that it’s kind of gonna blow over the top of ‘em.

>>DANIEL: (Whispering) We’ve got this north-sloped hardwood timber that’s got a lot of acorns in it. There’s just a lot of deer in the area. A lot of great things going on here. I think we’re gonna have a great hunt. We’ll see what happens on this side of the mountain.

>>DANIEL: About 9:30, I spotted a set of antlers coming out of the timber.

>>DANIEL: (Whispering) It’s a shooter, isn’t it?

>>DANIEL: (Whispering) You on him?

>>EVAN: (Whispering) Yep.

>>DANIEL: (Whispering) You’re good?

>>EVAN: (Whispering) Yep.

>>DANIEL: (Whispering) Yes!

>>DANIEL: I was excited and couldn’t wait to climb down out of the Redneck and pick up the trail.

>>DANIEL: Wasn’t he standing right in here?

>>DANIEL: Let’s see here.

>>DANIEL: Looking for blood.

>>DANIEL: Holy cow! I see tines. He’s right there. He didn’t make it 10, 20 yards out of the powerline.

>>DANIEL: Yes! Oh man! Woo! Yeah!

>>DANIEL: That is a good deer!

>>DANIEL: Yes!

>>DANIEL: Oh man! Man! Holy cow! What a deer! Look at the base. This guy’s got good mass. Look at the mass on that sucker. The ‘ole Winchester 6.5 Creedmoor did the job this morning.

>>DANIEL: I think this is a buck we call Slick. Just – what an awesome deer. Big body. Gosh – they’ve been running hard. He lost weight, but man you could tell when he stepped out, big, ‘ole shoulders on him. And just – man. That is an Ozark Mountain deer right there, and I couldn’t be more happy. What a deer!

>>DANIEL: It has been tough, tough hunting. We have not had great weather. It has been warm. We have had south winds. It’s a long 10 days when you’re hunting every day – morning and afternoon – and you’re not seeing deer. That is a long time. And then to pay off last day of season with a toad like this, it’s worth it.

>>DANIEL: It’s over. Yes! Thank you, Lord. This is a blessing. This is a blessing right here.

>>DANIEL: Slick had first shown up 9/10 of a mile to the north of where I had harvested him, two ridges to the south from where Grant and Clay had encountered him during October. During the summer and fall of 2019, we had a lot of Reconyx images and videos of Slick in between North Field and the Cave Ridge. Cave Ridge is just north of where I harvested Slick.

>>DANIEL: Fast forward to 2020 – see where Slick showed up on Reconyx; add those hunting encounters; overlay 2019, and you can see exactly where Slick’s core area was. Putting all this information together, it’s likely I had tagged Slick on the southern edge of his core area.

>>DANIEL: Well I just heard Clay park the Yamaha down at the bottom of the powerline, so uh… Whoo hoo!

>>DANIEL: Dude, he made it 20 yards out of the powerline. He’s down. So, he came up. He stopped right about here ¾ of the way. Shot him with the ‘ole XPR. And he’s down right there.

>>CLAY: Oh, I see antlers. Holy cow. All right, I gotta go see this thing.

>>CLAY: Oh yeah. That’s a good deer, man. Congratulations.

>>DANIEL: Thank you. Thank you.

>>CLAY: That is a good deer.

>>DANIEL: Understanding how bucks use their core area as they travel between food, water, and security cover, well that helps hunters create effective hunting strategies.

>>DANIEL: The Slick hunt is a perfect example. We were able to overlook a sanctuary, if you will, that had a current and an attractive food source – acorns.

>>DANIEL: Let me add, once we got Slick back up to the shop, we looked in his rumen, and sure enough there was a ton of red oak acorns.

>>DANIEL: This hunt also had an extremely valuable lesson to hunters. When the conditions changed, Evan and I packed up and moved to an area that was more favorable for deer activity.

>>DANIEL: If conditions such as wind direction, wind speed, or maybe even temperature change during a hunt, it may be wise for hunters to adjust their hunting strategy accordingly.

>>DANIEL: Understanding deer biology and how deer move within relationship to their resources and current conditions is a great way to not only see but tag more venison for your family.

>>DANIEL: Hunting strategies may change through the seasons, but strategies for life, they never change.

>>DANIEL: I hope you slow down this week, enjoy Creation, but more importantly listen to what the Creator is saying to you and the purpose He has for your life.

>>DANIEL: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.