Deer Hunting: Changes for the Season (Episode 356 Transcript)

This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.

GRANT: This week our Reconyx cameras have recorded some sign that shows fall is almost here. Check out these videos to get excited about hunting season.

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GRANT: Just as the seasons come and go, whitetails go through changes throughout the year. Take bucks for example – they grow antlers, shed their velvet, breed, shed their antlers and prepare for another season. Does gain weight, breed, have fawns, and nurse them throughout the summer.

GRANT: Changes in seasons are related to the tilt of the earth as it relates to the sun and the orbit of the earth around the sun – this changes the day length or photoperiod. And photoperiod is a huge factor in a whitetail’s life.

GRANT: Currently one response is – to change in photoperiod or decreasing day length that we’re seeing – is deer shedding that bright summer red coat and replacing it with a much darker, gray coat. The reddish summer coat of a whitetail deer is made to reflect light, or reflect heat. Where the darker winter coat helps the animal absorb heat and stay warm during the winter.

GRANT: This time of year, we get a lot of pictures emailed to us asking if this deer has mange. But rarely is that the case. Usually it’s just a deer shedding their summer coat, replacing with their winter coat. And this shedding tends to occur from the top of the back, down the side of a deer.

GRANT: Each fall we also receive a lot of questions about the October lull. What causes deer to be less active during daylight, often in October? Well, if you think about it, deer have now grown that longer winter coat; it’s tougher for them to get rid of body heat and seems like woods have a warm spell sometime during October. If you had a down coat on and it was 80 degrees outside, you’d probably choose to take a nap and then do your chores after it was dark and much cooler outside. The same appears to be true with deer. If it gets warm in October, they tend to do most of their activity in the hours of darkness when the temperatures are much cooler.

GRANT: In addition to shedding that summer coat and replacing it with the winter coat, right now bucks are shedding their velvet throughout most of the whitetail’s range. This is also triggered by change in day length or photoperiod.

GRANT: Matt’s family farm is about ninety miles east of here but the same latitude, same type of country in the Ozark Mountains. Recently, he had a picture with three bucks. One was fully in velvet; one was just starting to shed on a tine or two; and the other was completely shed. That’s a great illustration that deer are unique individuals. Each deer has unique genetic code just like humans. Photoperiod controls the overall range of when such actions will occur – breeding, shedding velvet, shedding hair for summer/winter coat – but when each individual does those actions, it’s based upon their exact genetic code.

GRANT: The unique differences in antler shape and behavior are what make whitetails so popular. They’re not cloned animals. They’re unique and they respond to the environment in unique ways. And they’ve thrilled man from caveman days to now as illustrated by the many cave paintings of antlered critters throughout the world.

GRANT: All of us on the GrowingDeer Team have been practicing with our Prime Bows throughout the summer. As we get closer to season, we’ve upped our practice to include more realistic hunting situations.

GRANT: Boom.

GRANT: Adam and I are leaving bright and early tomorrow morning to chase elk in the Colorado Rockies. This year, we hooked up with ‘cause they’ve got a great track record of working with outfitters with the highest success rate. Given all this work, I wanna make sure I can do my part and make the shot count should I have an opportunity.

GRANT: The temperatures are a bit cooler this morning than they have been, but not cold enough to merit this jacket. But Adam and I are getting ready to go on an elk hunt, so I want to make sure I’m practicing in full gear.

GRANT: Any jacket’s gonna add a little bit more to your arm diameter size than a short sleeve shirt – which is what we typically practice in all summer. So, I want to make sure I’ve got a jacket on, my arm guard on. I’m elk hunting in a rugged area so I’ve got my backpack on to make sure everything is just right. The last thing you want to do is spend all summer practicing and conditioning then change your gear and go on a hunt.

GRANT: In addition to shooting with all the gear on, you want to make sure the practice is as realistic as possible. That means more than just standing at the yard at a 20 yard line or 30 yard line and flinging arrows. You want to put a little challenge in to these practice sessions.

GRANT: I use spray paint to mark off known yardages in my yard. That’s very helpful for sighting in and tuning my bow. But the real practice comes when I walk around the yard with one arrow and shoot at varied distances using my rangefinder. ‘Cause that elk’s probably not going to stand at 20, 30, or 40 yards. So, 37 yard shot, 43.5 yard shot, those are just as important to practice as the standard distances.

GRANT: Another consideration, it’s doubtful the critters gonna stand broadside. So, I shoot left, right, uphill, downhill. I try to consider all the shot placements I might see. And then I look at how the arrow is penetrating the target to make sure it would take out both lungs and I can know whether it’s a good shot or it’s one I need to pass.

GRANT: I walked around and picked a 33 yard spot. And on the surface, it looks like a perfect shot. But, if we’re thinking about an elk and I look at this angle, great entry but I’m right in the off shoulder. I doubt my arrow went all the way through that off shoulder. I should have been back an inch or two. This type of practice and consideration is much more valuable than just standing at 30 yards and flinging arrows at a broadside target.

GRANT: 44 yards. Never know what you’re gonna be up against in elk country. May need to squat down, catch one coming to the call. See how we do.

GRANT: We’re up higher than the target. My feet are actually way over the back of the target. And right at elevation – works a quartering to shot. Let’s take the shot and then go examine the arrow and see if we would have caught both lungs. Better to figure out here than on the real thing.

GRANT: 38 yards. Tuck that 40 yard pin in just a touch low.

GRANT: There’s a lot to consider about this shot in addition to just a surface hit. Surface hit – boy I’m right in the lungs, it looks good. I knew I was standing above the target so my arrow would be angled down. I wanted to be a little higher than normal – normally like to be at bottom third – but I’m probably an inch or two too high to make sure my exit on the back side still catches a low lung, to get a great blood trail. I also would have liked to have been over an inch or two this way, hugging that scapula or the shoulder bone – just barely nicking it to make sure I take out the lung. But at this angle, looks like we’d have elk steak next week.

GRANT: We focused on how I practice in the yard, but it’s important to mention that I still shoot a few rounds of blind bale or up close to make sure my form is right. At this stage of the game, right before season, I’m typically shooting one arrow at a time. So, when I walk up and retrieve that arrow I can learn from it and dissect exactly what happened and what I need to change to make sure I tag that critter.

GRANT: Practicing this close to season should be focused on realistic practice – gear on, shooting the pin gaps, and considering the angles. Remember, perfect practice makes perfect.

GRANT: With so much going on and excitement this time of year, we usually have stuff in between episodes. If you want to check it out, simply go to the clips tab at and get updates during the week.

GRANT: You probably saw a few leaves fall while we’re filming here today. Certainly the seasons are changing. But one thing that should never change is that we take time each day and enjoy Creation and slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to us. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.