This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: It’s the time of year the Woods family and the entire GrowingDeer Team celebrates Christmas. Not only do we take a few days off and get together with family and exchange gifts – that’s just part of it. But the much more important reason we celebrate Christmas is, we’re celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
GRANT: That’s the reason we can enjoy Creation. That’s the reason for everything we do.
GRANT: This year, I hope you take some time and enjoy Creation, but most importantly, I hope you celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
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GRANT: It’s the time of the year throughout most of the whitetails’ range when things are changing in the deer woods. For one, it’s the post-rut. Most does have been bred.
GRANT: And another major factor is that food sources are changing. Deer are likely shifting to different portions of their home range to find a preferred food source for this time of year.
GRANT: During the rut, scrape activity decreases to almost nothing. But during the post-rut, especially right after most does have been bred, scrape activity, again, peaks almost to a level that it was during the pre-rut.
GRANT: One of our Reconyx cameras recently took a cool video of a buck we call “Louie” hitting a Code Blue scrape at a plot we call Tree Plot.
GRANT: You might note that Louie worked that scrape about 6:40 p.m. on December 3rd.
GRANT: As we reviewed the videos and images from other Reconyx cameras throughout The Proving Grounds, we noticed a really cool event.
GRANT: That morning, about 5:15 a.m., we had an image of Louie in a food plot we call Tombstone, on the very south end of The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: At 8:30 a.m. we had a picture of Louie in a plot we’d planted with Eagle Seeds Fall Buffalo Blend we call Lower One. That plot is quite a ways from Tombstone north and east. Louie had traveled a long ways in three hours.
GRANT: We don’t know the path he took, but even if it was a straight line, it was quite a journey for a buck in three hours.
GRANT: Even more surprising and somewhat discouraging to me, Louie traveled even further from 8:30 a.m. to early that evening to the tree plot.
GRANT: I doubt Louie walked a straight line, so he had traveled several miles going from the south end to the north end of The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: Like humans, each buck is a unique individual. Louie is clearly not a homebody and that’s probably why we’ve had a very difficult time establishing his core area and moving in to hunt him.
GRANT: I suspect if we tag Louie this year, it will be because he appears. Not that we selected a stand thinking Louie is going to show.
GRANT: That could certainly change if Louie hones in on the food source during the late season. Either way, that certainly won’t stop the GrowingDeer Team from trying to put a tag on this great buck we call Louie.
GRANT: The late season can be a great time to tag mature bucks as they focus in on quality food sources. But there’s another just as important attractant.
GRANT: If you have quality habitat where you hunt, it’s likely that female fawns will reach at least 65 or 70 pounds by the late season. And at about that weight, female fawns will reach puberty and become receptive for the first time.
GRANT: Unlike mature does, female fawns tend to continue the same pattern daily even when they’re receptive, which often means visiting food plots during daylight hours. And that knowledge has helped me tag more than one mature buck.
GRANT: (Quietly) He’s hit good; he’s hit good. He’s going down. Trashman is ours.
GRANT: We’ve been hunting a lot during the past few weeks here at The Proving Grounds. But, I’ll be honest – we haven’t had a lot of encounters with deer.
GRANT: There are a lot of acorns on the ground at The Proving Grounds and throughout much of the Midwest. And in areas like this, where there is large contiguous blocks of timber, it can be very difficult to get a pattern on deer.
GRANT: The afternoon of December 8th, Daniel opted to go to a food plot we call Clay Hill. His strategy was based on the fact that there are several bedding areas close to Clay Hill, including one that actually joins the food plot. Daniel felt there would be deer bedded close by and some of them may opt to enter the food plot on their way to some hardwoods.
GRANT: These bedding areas were once covered with eastern red cedar. But through cutting them and prescribed fire, we’ve converted them to areas of high-quality native vegetation which serves well as bedding areas.
GRANT: With the help of Flatwood Natives, they’ve controlled the hardwood saplings that were encroaching in the area and, again, these areas are extremely productive for high-quality native forage and bedding.
GRANT: During cold days, deer often seek cover that provides them warmth as well as security.
GRANT: South facing slopes with tall native grasses are the ideal habitat for deer during cold days.
GRANT: When deer bed in this area, the tall grasses sheer off the wind and keep it above the deer while the sun’s radiant energy can shine down in the hole where the deer is bedded and warm ‘em up.
GRANT: Daniel chose a Redneck ghillie blind on the west side of the food plot. The west side is also the lowest elevation, which is very important, given the cold temperatures. He knew the thermals would take his scent on down below the plot to the creek.
GRANT: With these conditions, any deer approaching from the north or east would not be alerted to Daniel’s presence.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Well, it’s December the 8th. I’m self-filming in a Redneck ghillie blind in a food plot we call Clay Hill. Got a northeast wind today – kind of blowing across this plot back down into the bottom, back behind me. And thermals are just gonna be sucking down from north to the south because it’s so cold today.
DANIEL: (Whispering) I suspect deer are gonna be moving. It’s cold; there’s a lot of food out in this food plot and it butts right up next to a large bedding area.
DANIEL: (Whispering) I’m hoping that deer are bedded up in there and they’re gonna be on their feet coming down to feed before dark. That’s the plan. We’ll see if it works.
DANIEL: (Whispering) So, bucks may be on their feet cruising on the bottom side of this bedding area looking for a receptive doe or doe fawn. I think we’re in the game this afternoon. Really looking for a doe tag. I’ve got a couple burning holes in my pockets.
DANIEL: (Whispering) It’s been tough hunting here the past couple of weeks. They’ve been in the timber eating on acorns and really haven’t been able to get on deer.
DANIEL: (Whispering) So, if we could get on one this afternoon, that would be a blessing. It would be good just to throw an arrow, but also to get one step close to our management goal and bring home some fresh venison. So, that’s the plan. Let’s see if I can get it done this afternoon self-filming.
GRANT: It was a very cold and still afternoon. And as the sun set behind the mountains, Daniel spotted the first deer entering the plot.
GRANT: As light faded, Daniel spotted another deer in the northeast corner by a pond. It’s a buck we call “Big Deal”.
GRANT: Suddenly, more deer entered the plot and it appeared to be does and fawns.
GRANT: Just at last light, another set of antlers entered the plot. And it’s a buck we call “Trip”.
GRANT: Unfortunately, filming light ended before any of these bucks got within range of the blind. So, Daniel quietly snuck out the back and left the deer alone.
GRANT: The following afternoon, the wind, again, was forecast to be from the north. Daniel believed if the deer stayed on the same pattern, he could cut ‘em off earlier during shooting light if he went about 200 yards in the timber.
GRANT: Last summer, about 200 yards north of the food plot in the timber, we hung a pair of Summit stands right above a small bluff. In mountain country, deer often use such features as bluffs or creeks as the edge of travel areas.
GRANT: While scouting where to hang those stands, we noticed a good trail running through the timber. With what I believed to be a good strategy in place, Daniel and Owen climbed into the Summits ready for some action. They didn’t have to wait long.
GRANT: Daniel heard the crunching of leaves and it sounded like deer were headed his way fast.
DANIEL: (Whispering) You see it?
OWEN: (Whispering) Yeah.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Right behind these cedars. They’re coming straight to us. They’re gonna go right underneath of us.
GRANT: He spotted two fawns and a doe.
GRANT: One of the fawns followed the trail Daniel had walked in on and got directly downwind of him and Owen.
DANIEL: (Whispering) I’m gonna try to shoot this doe back in the back here.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Get on, get on it. Get on this one.
OWEN: (Whispering) Yeah.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Get on this doe. (Inaudible) Out in the back. Easy. Don’t move.
GRANT: With three noses and pairs of eyes within 20 yards, Daniel and Owen remained very still.
GRANT: Several minutes passed and I’m sure it seemed like it was much longer.
GRANT: Finally, the fawns continued south directly downwind of Daniel and Owen headed toward the Clay Hill food plot.
GRANT: It seemed like the does sensed everything was okay and followed the same trail.
DANIEL: (Whispering) It’s gonna be fast, dude.
DANIEL: (Whispering) You on her?
OWEN: (Whispering) Yeah.
DANIEL: (Whispering) You on her?
OWEN: (Whispering) Yeah.
OWEN: (Whispering) That was the hardest film I’ve ever had to, buddy.
DANIEL: (Whispering) What?
OWEN: (Whispering) That was the hardest thing to film.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Well, I don’t know what all Owen got on film. But I’ll tell you what – we worked for that doe right there. Two fawns and a big doe came in fast. One of the fawns came in right at the base of our tree. Kind of got some scent but didn’t know what was up. Ended up drifting off. The doe followed.
DANIEL: (Whispering) I think I looked at the time clock on the GoPros and we started rolling GoPros when we saw and it was about ten, ten and a half minutes that we were just standing here waiting.
DANIEL: (Whispering) That doe was at 30 yards for ten minutes. That just goes to show you how important our scent control system is.
DANIEL: (Whispering) The combination of the Scent Crusher and D/Code keeping our scent very minimal. Even though there were deer right at the base of our tree downwind, we still pulled it off. Got a big doe down.
DANIEL: Right after the hunt, I climbed down and looked at the arrow and it looked like there may be liver blood on it. So, Owen and I decided to go back, and meet up with Tyler at the office, review the footage. The footage looked like the shot was pretty good, but we still gave her some time.
DANIEL: We’ve come back out; we’re back at the arrow. We’re gonna pick up the blood trail, and hopefully the Deadmeat did the job, and she didn’t go too far. I’ve got a good feeling she’s just gonna be up over the hill. I’m gonna turn on the Motorola and pick up the blood trail.
DANIEL: There’s blood there. Right through here. Look at that. All over that grass right there. Hey. White belly. There she is. There she is, Owen.
DANIEL: Well, I am super thrilled to tag this doe; to finally get my hands on her and punch a tag. Because we have been hunting hard the past couple of weeks. And this is the first doe we’ve tagged in about 20 days. And we’ve been hunting hard.
DANIEL: And so, this doe – she is a trophy and I’ve got to tell you, we worked hard for her. Owen and I did tonight in the set. And it just worked out – we put a plan together based on what I saw yesterday afternoon when I was hunting. Changed up the position; got in the timber; got up ahead of ‘em, cutting ‘em off coming to the food. And the plan worked out great.
DANIEL: I thought the shot was just a tad back when I shot; kind of doubted myself. We looked at the arrow and the arrow was kind of dark blood. It looked possibly like a liver shot. So, we backed out; gave her time; reviewed the footage up at the office.
DANIEL: But when we got out here and we really started picking up the trail. I looked at the blood and started seeing that frothy, light-colored blood and I knew the Deadmeat had done the job and she was not far.
DANIEL: And sure enough, I don’t think we’ve gone 100 yards from where I shot her. And the good news is, she ran uphill and she’s only about 20 yards or 30 yards from the road, so it’s gonna be an easy drag. But I am super thrilled with this doe.
DANIEL: We’re gonna get her in the truck; take her up to the skinning shed and we’re gonna be back at it here in the next couple days.
GRANT: It’s a lot of pressure for a hunter and cameraman to go undetected when there’s several deer in the area. All those eyes and noses – it’s easy to get busted. And I’ve gotta tell you, it’s a lot of pressure, maybe even more pressure, on the cameraman.
GRANT: He’s trying to track the deer, adjust everything on the camera and coordinate when the shot’s going to occur. It’s a lot of pressure on Owen and he did a good job.
GRANT: Added more venison to our team’s freezer and we’re one more doe toward our management goal.
GRANT: I really enjoy deer hunting and fresh venison. I enjoy the process of managing habitat and the game. And a part of that process is balancing the predator and prey ratios.
GRANT: Predators, especially coyotes that occur throughout almost all the whitetails’ range, can not only kill fawns and adults, but even to a greater extent put a lot of pressure and stress on whitetails.
GRANT: The presence of an abundant predator population can cause the prey species to always be alert or vigilant and not spend as much time foraging as they should.
GRANT: Excessive stress in any species causes a decline in health.
GRANT: Many landowners recognize this. And earlier this year, Tyler and I headed to Kansas to hunt with a friend. And he asked us if we saw a coyote, to please harvest it because there was an abundance of coyotes on his property and he’d noticed deer had become extremely alert.
GRANT: (Whispering) It’s Halloween morning and Tyler and I arrived in Kansas yesterday. We hung three sets – two for a north wind; one for a south wind. We’ve got a north wind this morning and we’re in the timber with a bunch of acorns dropping. Lots and lots of squirrels around.
GRANT: (Whispering) Several trails in the area; scrape behind me because there’s scrapes all over and this was the best tree. And a bigger scrape about 100 yards that way. So, my read of the sign is deer are passing through here. Let’s see if I’ve read the sign right and if we can tag a big, mature Kansas buck.
GRANT: During an early morning hunt, I heard something coming through the leaves, but it didn’t sound like a deer. I spotted a coyote and knew it was gonna pass close to our stand.
GRANT: (Whispering) Dude, coyote right here. Don’t look; don’t look. (Inaudible)
GRANT: I grabbed my bow. Tyler got the camera ready and at just the right moment, I sent a Deadmeat down range.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: In a flash, there was one less predator causing deer to be alert at my friend’s property.
GRANT: I really enjoy hunting coyotes, but if you’re serious about reducing predator populations, trapping is the best tool.
GRANT: There’s a lot of misinformation about trapping. For one, people call them leg-hold traps, but that’s not correct. Traps are built for the appropriate species and they catch them on the pad of the foot.
GRANT: Think about a coyote running all over rocks and wire and everything. Those feet are tough and that trap is not hurting the animal.
GRANT: If you’re trapping to balance predator and prey populations, it’s often necessary to trap annually. And it’s easy to understand why. In today’s world, most likely, your neighbors are not trapping, so there’s an ample supply of predators in the area.
GRANT: The next year when those yearly males are old enough to disperse, they’re gonna move out in all directions – some towards your property and they will sense that reduced population and set up home.
GRANT: My good friend and professional trapper, Clint Cary, has assisted me here at The Proving Grounds for several years. We’ve shared Clint’s techniques to make a flat set and dirt hole set for coyotes.
GRANT: Clint’s techniques have helped remove several coyotes from our property and you can tell it by an increased deer and turkey population.
GRANT: This year, my friend and local trapper, JR, is helping us at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: Last week I shared that Tyler and Owen have been using Duke box traps to remove raccoons and opossums – nest predators – from The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: They’ve been very successful and have already removed 27 nest predators.
GRANT: That’s not only a great management step for turkeys, quail, and songbirds that nest on the ground, it’s also a great step to take before setting coyote traps.
GRANT: If your management program calls for removing nest predators and coyotes, I like to start on the nest predators first. That way when the coyote sets are in place, they’re not bothered by the smaller nest predators.
DANIEL: Well, it’s cold here at The Proving Grounds this morning. We’re out setting traps with JR. He’s helping us out this season. Setting out some Duke traps, some #2s and #3s. Looking to catch some coyotes.
DANIEL: We’re about a month into trapping season. Tyler and Owen have been busy. They’ve already caught 27 nest predators. Today, we’re targeting those fawn nabbers – coyotes.
DANIEL: Driving through the property, JR spotted this location and thought it would be a great place for a Duke trap. JR, what do you see in this location that makes you want to put a trap here?
JR: Well, we’ve got some good coyote sign right here. You can see where they’re traveling through. We’ve got a spot where we can put in a good trap with some good lure and some good bait. Catch them coyotes as they’re moving through. Catch their nose; get their attention; drag ‘em in here; and stick their foot in one of these traps.
DANIEL: Great. And being at the base of this large bedding area, that scent at night is gonna come down the hill.
DANIEL: So you’re suspecting things are gonna be cruising on the bottom side?
JR: That’s right.
DANIEL: And the trap’s going to be out here.
JR: They’re gonna come through; they’re gonna smell what we’re putting out. And we’ve just got a great air flow as it comes through here.
DANIEL: Awesome. Well, I’m excited. Let’s get this trap in the ground and, hopefully, here in the next day or two, we’ve got a coyote.
JR: Amen. That’s right.
GRANT: We’ll keep you posted as we continue working to balance the amount of predators and prey here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: We’ve scheduled the next GrowingDeer Field Event for March 29th and 30th.
GRANT: Among several special guests, Clint will be here sharing his trapping techniques.
CLINT: But if you don’t have any good way of guiding – like you’re in an open spot like that, you don’t want to go around sticking sticks up here in the ground. That’s gonna look unnatural. So, just make him move his feet as much as possible.
GRANT: We’ll share the registration information soon.
GRANT: In addition to late season hunting techniques, we’re managing the habitat and critters year-round. If you’d like to see what we’re doing each week throughout the year, please subscribe to the GrowingDeer newsletter.
GRANT: Whether you’re interested in balancing predator and prey populations, chasing big bucks or making the habitat better for all critters, I hope you take time to slow down while you’re out in Creation and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.