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GRANT: Pro Staffer Chase White and his family have had a great deer season. Not long after Missouri’s archery season opened, Chase took his son, Rylan, hunting with a crossbow.
GRANT: During one of their hunts, they set up on the edge of a field and saw several deer. But unfortunately, they were out of range, feeding under a large oak that was dropping acorns.
GRANT: The following afternoon, Chase and Rylan set up in that oak assuming the deer would return to feed.
CHASE: (Whispering) Go for it.
GRANT: The strategy worked perfectly and Rylan tagged his first deer with a crossbow.
GRANT: The property Chase hunts is about two hours east of The Proving Grounds. And much like my farm, it’s primarily covered with timber – composed of red and white oaks.
GRANT: Many hunters in my area as well as throughout the whitetails’ range, if you’re hunting where there’s a lot of timber, had difficulty patterning deer this year.
GRANT: That’s because there was a huge acorn crop and it’s tough to pattern deer when they don’t move very far between food and cover.
GRANT: One afternoon, Chase hunted by a field that was surrounded by large oaks dropping lots of acorns.
CHASE: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: Chase’s hunch that deer would be feeding in the area was correct.
GRANT: Unfortunately, the buck never came within range.
GRANT: With the amount of acorns in the area, Chase kept focusing his strategy on hunting near oaks.
GRANT: During one of his hunts, Chase had another encounter with a good buck.
CHASE: (Whispering) I think he’s gonna be small.
GRANT: This buck was feeding on acorns and worked several scrapes.
CHASE: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: It’s not surprising to see a buck working several scrapes during that time of year.
GRANT: Scrape activity increases as the rut approaches and bucks’ testosterone level rises.
GRANT: It’s cool to watch this buck mark an overhanging limb above a scrape. He’s using a couple of scent glands on his head to leave a pheromone or an external hormone.
GRANT: Multiple deer will mark the same scrape and that’s why scrapes become central communication hubs.
GRANT: That’s why hunting near scrapes during the pre-rut is a great strategy.
GRANT: There was something a little odd about this buck. Did you see it?
GRANT: There are two rows of faint white spots down his back.
GRANT: Every year I’ll receive a few emails with pictures of bucks and does that have similar faint white marks down their back. This is apparently a recessive genetic trait.
GRANT: Remember that deer shed all their hair or their coat twice a year. So, for a mature deer to have those faint white marks, that kind of look like fawn marks, must be a genetic trait for them to reappear with each new coat.
GRANT: This buck put on a great show for Chase, but it wasn’t one of the bucks he was looking for and he gave him a pass.
GRANT: As the season progressed, Chase changed his hunting strategy slightly. Rather than destination areas in acorns, he was looking for travel corridors hoping to catch does and bucks passing through.
GRANT: Chase had many encounters using this strategy, but not with one of the bucks he was looking for.
GRANT: During Missouri’s rifle season, Chase took his wife, Sheena, hunting. Based on Chase’s observations, he opted to take Sheena to a travel corridor in the timber with acorns close by, hoping to catch a buck moving through.
CHASE: (Whispering) You tell me when to stop him.
SHEENA: (Whispering) Okay. Stop him.
CHASE: (Whispering) Right now.
GRANT: Chase’s strategy was spot on and Sheena tagged a nice buck they had called G3.
CHASE: (Whispering) Sheena.
GRANT: During the early season, red oak acorns have a higher tannin content than white oaks. Tannin makes ‘em taste bitter so deer prefer white oaks during that portion of the season.
GRANT: However, as the season progresses, some of the tannin will leech out of red oaks and most of the white oaks have been consumed or have rotted.
GRANT: The bottom line is that during the mid and late season, often red oaks are the preferred food source.
GRANT: Chase knew of a location in the timber that had a lot of red oaks. He’d tagged a lot of deer there, including two does last season.
CHASE: (Whispering) Do you got her?
GRANT: Based on those experiences, Chase returned there during Missouri’s alternative weapons season or what we call muzzleloader season. Based on trail camera pictures, Chase thought a very mature buck he called “Back Woods” and another mature buck he called “Squiggles” was in the area.
GRANT: The buck is named Squiggles because his main beam kind of has a wave or a squiggle pattern.
CHASE: (Whispering) Muzzleloader season here in southern Missouri. It’s 50 degrees. And today is Christmas Day. December 25th and we’ve got 50 degree weather. I’d like that to be down in the 20s for deer season.
CHASE: (Whispering) After January 15th, they can go right back to being the hot temperatures. Sounds great. But for hunting weather, we like it a little bit colder to get the deer on their feet.
CHASE: (Whispering) Deer are still on the acorns. Red oaks had plenty of acorns this year. They are staying in the woods. So bear with me tonight. I’m self-filming and I am in the woods. Gotta go where the deer are.
CHASE: (Whispering) I’m hunting a flat above several draws. The deer are chomping acorns really good through here. I sat here a couple of times and I’ve seen a family group of does and the camera is showing a couple of good bucks.
CHASE: (Whispering) A buck we call Squiggles and a buck called Back Woods. Squiggles is probably the better deer, as far as score. He’s four and a half. I’d like to see what he does next year. But, we’ll take either one.
CHASE: (Whispering) The Back Woods buck – he is at least seven and a half. He’s an old, old deer. It looks like he’s going downhill. I haven’t seen the deer in three years. I thought he was dead or got shot by a neighbor or something. And he just showed up on camera out of nowhere.
CHASE: (Whispering) He’s got a mainframe 10. His tenth points are not very long, though. But, real heavy deer. I’d be tickled pink to get him just because he’s an old bruiser and a buck I’ve had a lot of history with.
CHASE: (Whispering) I’m gonna sit here and see what happens.
GRANT: Chase settled into the stand and it wasn’t long ‘til he saw the first set of antlers.
GRANT: Then, another buck passed through.
GRANT: It looked like Chase was in the game as both these bucks were feeding on acorns.
GRANT: Suddenly, Chase spotted a nice set of antlers through the trees.
GRANT: It was Squiggles.
GRANT: Squiggles was focused on acorns and moving slowly.
GRANT: You can imagine the excitement and tension that was building as Squiggles slowly fed toward Chase.
CHASE: (Whispering) Squiggles is down, baby. Squiggles is down.
CHASE: (Whispering) Yes. That was awesome. Christmas Day. Squiggles is down. That is my first buck with a muzzleloader.
CHASE: (Whispering) Killed several with a gun and a bow. I watched him go down over here. He didn’t make it 50 yards and he’s down right over here. Thank you, Lord.
GRANT: Even though Chase saw Squiggles go down, he climbed out of the stand and went and got his son, Rylan, and the landowner’s son to let them practice trailing.
CHASE: All right. You boys trail him. (Kids talking) (Inaudible)
CHASE: Heck, yeah. He’s a good deer.
CHASE: Well, it’s been a great afternoon here in southern Missouri. It’s Christmas Day and the muzzleloader got to put one down tonight.
CHASE: This buck we called Squiggles – I’ve hunted this acorn flat a few times. He’s eluded us. We’ve had him on camera here and there. He was kind of camera shy this summer.
CHASE: But, tonight he come down the acorn flat out of a big holler and I was solo filming. Got to put him down with the muzzleloader. I did have a couple of encounters with this deer last year in this field that we drug him out to, actually. And passed him.
CHASE: He grew up this year and we put a bullet in him. Couldn’t be more excited.
GRANT: Great job, Chase. You read the sign perfectly; came up with the right strategy and tagged a good mountain country buck. You’ve had a great season, Chase. Included your family the whole way and got lots of venison in the freezer.
GRANT: I recently took a break from hunting and scouted a south facing slope. I went into an area where earlier this year I’d had a cool encounter with an old buck I call “Swoops”.
GRANT: This steep south facing slope has a couple of bedding areas and lots of red oaks.
GRANT: I chose to scout a south facing slope because deer often use them during the winter when it’s cold. South facing slopes get more sun than any other slope and deer use the sun’s radiant energy to stay warm.
GRANT: While walking this slope, I found three sheds from past years.
GRANT: It’s always cool to find sheds, but they also told me bucks like spending time in this area during the late season.
GRANT: It’s tough to hunt that steep slope. But right on top of the ridge, there’s a food plot with Eagle Seeds Broadside Blend. And as the acorns finally start to diminish, I expect those bucks to work their way up the slope and start feeding in that plot.
GRANT: If I see sign that that’s occurring or get trail camera pictures, you can bet once the conditions are favorable, I’ll move in for a shot.
GRANT: I believe the buck I call Swoops is still in that area. If I can catch him in that food plot, he probably won’t be as lucky as the last time we met.
GRANT: For current information on late season hunting strategies or finding sheds, please subscribe to the GrowingDeer newsletter.
GRANT: Deer season is closed in some areas and the rut is just about to start in others. No matter where you live, try to get outside and enjoy Creation.
GRANT: But more importantly, take time every day to slow down, be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.