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GRANT: During the first few weeks of Missouri’s archery season, the temperatures have been warm. But, we’ve had some favorable winds; been able to get out and do some hunting and tag some does.
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GRANT: Here in the Ozark Mountains and throughout much of the whitetails’ range, where timber is the dominant land cover, there is usually a couple of weeks you can hunt food plots before all the acorns start falling and deer are attracted to the timber.
GRANT: If there is a good crop of acorns – especially white oak acorns – deer will pretty much abandon food plots.
GRANT: This year at The Proving Grounds, the white oak acorn crop is relatively small. But, when you find ‘em, it’s a hot spot.
GRANT: Earlier this year, we placed a Reconyx camera on a plot we call Big Boom to monitor deer activity.
GRANT: Throughout the summer, there was a buck that appeared to have good potential using the plot.
GRANT: Throughout the summer, we watched this buck’s antlers develop into a fine set.
GRANT: Oddly enough, the only pictures or video we got of this buck throughout the summer was near a big white oak in the middle of the plot. So, we named him Oakley.
GRANT: Once the acorns of that big white oak started dropping, Tyler and Owen decided to hunt a Redneck Blind about 20 yards away in an effort to tag a doe.
GRANT: Not long into their hunt, they spotted Oakley coming across the field.
GRANT: This was our first buck encounter of the 2018 season.
GRANT: A few days later, we pulled the card in the camera at Big Boom and, sure enough, Oakley was living up to his name. He was under that tree almost every afternoon.
GRANT: My 16-year-old daughter, Rae, was busy with tennis, but was eager to go hunting when she had an opportunity.
GRANT: Last season, Rae spent many days during archery and firearms season trying to tag a hit list buck. Her goal last year was to harvest a buck bigger than any she has previously harvested. That was a pretty tall goal.
GRANT: She set her sights on a buck we called Southpaw.
GRANT: Finally, on a cold afternoon, Rae had an encounter with Southpaw.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: I was very proud of Rae for showing all the discipline; hunting all season; and achieving her goal.
GRANT: This year, Rae’s goal was to harvest a buck with a crossbow.
GRANT: Knowing Oakley was feeding at the white oak in Big Boom, Rae and Daniel headed to the Redneck Blind that’s about 20 yards away.
GRANT: They got settled in the blind and we waited to see if Oakley would show.
RAE: It’s September 28th, and I just got out of school. It’s a Friday, so I got out a little bit earlier. We’re up here on Big Boom. We’ve been seeing Oakley around here a little bit. There’s a lot of acorns, so it should be a good night.
RAE: Normally, my goal each year is to shoot a bigger deer than I did the last year. But, last year I shot Southpaw, so I don’t really know how it’s gonna go this year. I’m just kind of hoping to get a nice three-year-old or up and also take out a lot of does while I’m at it.
GRANT: After they’d been set up a while, Rae spotted a groundhog in the plot.
GRANT: Groundhogs can consume many, many pounds of forage. In fact, they can remove all the browse out of a portion for an entire plot.
GRANT: When we have a chance to remove one of these forage predators, we take it.
GRANT: Rae and Daniel tried to move around so they could get a shot at the groundhog. But before they got settled, he left the field.
RAE: (Whispering) Dang it.
GRANT: The groundhog leaving the field, in hindsight, seemed to be a blessing in disguise. Not long after he left, Daniel spotted a buck entering the plot.
GRANT: It was Oakley.
GRANT: Hoping Oakley would once again work his way to the big white oak, she quietly shifted her DeadShot FieldPod and chair to prepare for a shot.
RAE: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: Oakley quickly closed the distance and got so close to the blind, Rae could hear him crunching acorns.
RAE: (Whispering) All right. (Inaudible) Okay. Just let me know. (Inaudible) Taking the shot right now. Are you ready? I gotta – I’m putting my safety off. Are you ready? Daniel, are you good?
DANIEL: (Whispering) Yeah.
RAE: (Whispering) One dot. The first one.
DANIEL: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
RAE: (Whispering) Okay. Yes. Pow. Second time out. Take that three months of hunting. Yes.
RAE: He came out and I was thinking, I’m like, “He looks kinda small.” Like the one that I passed up last year. And then I realized Raleigh shot the one that I passed up last year. And then I remembered how bad I felt when I realized that Raleigh shot the one that I passed up last year. So, I’m like. “No. It’s not happening again this year.”
RAE: He turned where I could see, like, the full side on him. He got really big. And I was like, “Okay. This is a good deer.” And so, I was like, “All right. It’s gonna be good. He’s gonna come right up here.”
RAE: We had to scoot over a little bit. But, that’s fine. I took a deep breath; pulled the trigger. And we – I saw the arrow go through him; I saw where he ran out. Hopefully, we’ll go down here and find him in just a couple yards.
GRANT: Knowing Oakley wasn’t going far with that shot placement, they got out of the blind and took up the trail.
RAE: Yeah. There’s some on this rock here. Right there. I know it went by the (Inaudible) tree. I just can’t remember if it jumped over this log thing or not.
RAE: Look at that. Here he is. Dang. Dude – what? That’s the exit shot right there.
RAE: This is only my second time out this season. Uh, I went out last Saturday and I saw some does, but they weren’t in range. I didn’t see any bucks, so I, I didn’t really remember what they look like. But I sure found out tonight with this bad boy.
RAE: I saw how big his rack was and I’m like, “I gotta take him.”
GRANT: Rae called me to share about her hunt and I couldn’t wait to get up there and join the celebration.
GRANT: Look at the big bases on that thing.
RAE: Exactly what everybody says.
GRANT: (Chuckling) That is nice. Man.
GRANT: It’s been rubbing.
RAE: Hmm. Hmm.
GRANT: (Inaudible) Bark in here.
RAE: Didn’t have any ticks – had like three.
RAE: I like that.
GRANT: I bet you did.
RAE: I sure did.
GRANT: Very nice. Man, I’m proud of you, Rae. You put me to shame already.
GRANT: Oh yeah. Nice shot placement, Rae.
RAE: Thank you.
GRANT: Very nice. Very, very nice.
GRANT: Once we got the buck back to the skinning shed, it was time to process the meat.
GRANT: Rae’s hunt was a success because we read the sign and hunted accordingly.
GRANT: When there are lots of acorns falling and you’re hunting in large, contiguous blocks of timber, it can be tough to pattern deer. They can, basically, feed anywhere they want to walk.
GRANT: I recently was out scouting and checked a large white oak right on the edge of a plot we created this summer. I was excited to find lots of deer scat, tracks, acorns and acorn caps under the tree. Clearly, a lot of deer were using those acorns.
GRANT: After reading this sign, I knew it was a great place to hang a couple of Summit Stands. As soon as I had time, I went back to that area to hang a stand.
GRANT: Early October. I’ve been doing some scouting and the white oak acorns are hitting the ground.
GRANT: I always like as many favorable factors for a stand location as possible and in this case, there’s another factor. I do have a food plot right beside the trees and if deer want to nibble on some forage, they’re still within range.
GRANT: For this mission, I need to use a very portable setup because I may move it in a few weeks.
GRANT: I’ll use strap-on Bucksteps rather than a ladder type step system which is a bit more permanent.
GRANT: Once I’ve got the stand up, I’ll do a little trimming just to open up a shooting lane or two; back out – there’s a cold front coming; and be back here in a couple of days.
GRANT: I want to make sure everyone knows that the GrowingDeer Team, and all hunters, should get out and actively scout to find these events that aren’t gonna be detected on trail cameras or other valuable forms of scouting.
GRANT: And I want to make sure everyone knows – even as excited as I was to find that area and hang a stand – I want to slow down and ensure I’m always safe.
GRANT: The most important safety rule when hunting out of a treestand, or hanging treestands, is to make sure you’re tethered to the tree at all times. You want to make sure that if you do fall for any reason, the fall is very short.
GRANT: When you’re first setting up a stand, obviously, there is not a safe line from where the stands are gonna be placed to the ground. So, there’s no way to be connected to the tree without a lineman’s rope.
GRANT: That’s one reason I prefer a Summit Safety Harness. It’s built to use a lineman’s rope – a rope that connects to both sides of the harness and goes around the tree.
GRANT: Once I place the first step about waist high, I’ve got the lineman rope on; I start working my way up; placing additional steps.
GRANT: Once I’ve reached the height where I’m gonna place the stands, I put my safety line around the tree and lower the other end to the ground.
GRANT: I use that end to pull up whatever I might need to finish the job.
GRANT: Once the hunter and cameraman stand are in place, it’s time to trim a few limbs and make sure my shooting lanes are clear.
GRANT: Safety should be every hunter’s number one priority. Returning home safe and sound after a hunt is always the best trophy.
GRANT: Going out and scouting for deer sign is a great way to enjoy Creation. But no matter what you’re doing today, always take time to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.
GRANT: During every deer season, lots of variables are changing – acorns and no acorns; cold fronts; rainy days; hot days. If you’d like to stay tuned to our techniques as they change with these variable conditions, please subscribe to the GrowingDeer newsletter.
RAE: Yeah, I was like, “You better be on him because I’m not passing him up.” So, I was worried you were gonna say, “No. You ought to get some footage.” Because that’s what Tyler was like. He’s like, “If we see a nice deer, we gotta wait a while and get some good footage.”
RAE: And I’m like, “If Daniel says we have to get footage, I’m gonna be so mad.” It came out. So. Let’s go find what it went through.