This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: During Christmas Daniel was able to return home to Northern Missouri to spend a little time with family and do some hunting. In ag country, late season hunting can be incredible. So many acres have been crops have been harvested. So, if you can find food, find cover, and a bottleneck in between, you’re gonna see deer.
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GRANT: The 80-acre parcel Daniel hunts is surrounded by ag fields and cattle pasture and it has a creek between the timber and the ag.
GRANT: Last winter Daniel harvested a nice doe hunting this property and had a cool encounter with a buck that had already shed one antler.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Yeah, that’s a good deer.
GRANT: With cold weather and snow forecast, Daniel decided to hunt the southern end of this block of timber.
DANIEL: (Whispering) I’m hoping that this colder weather will get deer on their feet. I’ve got a bean field back behind me. It’s cut but there’s a lot of beans still on the ground so we saw a lot walking in. Hoping deer will come off the south-facing native grass slope, back behind me. Come down, head into the bean field to eat before the front moves in tonight.
GRANT: With the north wind and the cold temperatures causing the thermals to drop, Daniel was able to enter from the east and not alert any deer to his south, north, or west.
GRANT: Because this is a cut and run hunt, Daniel was using a Summit climber so he could find the exact tree based on the conditions that day.
GRANT: It was a beautiful winter afternoon and Daniel saw several critters including lots of bald eagles.
GRANT: As Daniel anticipated, movement was slow until the late afternoon.
GRANT: Right at dark, Daniel heard a splash of water.
GRANT: A group of does crossed the creek about 50 yards upstream from Daniel and they were headed toward the bean field.
GRANT: On large creeks, like the one Daniel is hunting, there’ll often be low spots or shoals where critters like to cross. Finding these can be a hidden bottleneck.
GRANT: Daniel took these observations and knew he needed to change his strategy slightly for the next time.
GRANT: Several days later, there was another favorable wind forecast and Daniel knew he needed to move a bit closer to the creek crossing. Using a climber made it easy for Daniel to move a little closer versus tearing everything down and resetting.
GRANT: With the recent six inches of snow and single-digit temperatures, Daniel thought the deer might be moving a little earlier.
DANIEL: (Whispering) It’s late season. The freezer is full of doe meat so I am really looking for a, a good buck here in Northern Missouri. I think there’s a good chance one will be on his feet cruising through this bottleneck trying to work into this, this bean field, back behind me. A couple nights ago, we had about six inches of snow move through. Deer are hungry. There’s not a lot of food in this timber, or in the area, except to the bean fields just behind me. Deer are hungry and they’re gonna be moving.
GRANT: Not long after Daniel settled in, he saw the first group of deer.
GRANT: A short time later, Daniel saw more deer moving down the hill.
GRANT: Then he saw antlers – not just one but several bucks.
GRANT: One of the bucks bedded on the hill about 90 yards away. Suddenly, a group of does passed about twenty yards in front of Daniel’s stand.
GRANT: Seeing these does, the bucks came on down the hill to investigate.
GRANT: Daniel patiently waited, hoping one of the bucks would step into range.
DANIEL: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: Unfortunately, Daniel didn’t punch a tag and those things hurt a little bit more when the temperatures are in the single digits.
GRANT: It was a successful hunt. Daniel hadn’t been in this property in quite some time so he read the sign appropriately; paired that with the weather conditions; and got to where the deer were moving. I was even more impressed that he wasn’t satisfied with the first set and adjusted to get even closer on the second set. If he’d had more time, there’s no doubt, Daniel would have been bringing home some Northern Missouri venison.
GRANT: Here at The Proving Grounds, we’re also adjusting our strategies given the current conditions and the late season.
GRANT: (Inaudible) …looks kinda (Inaudible). Go this way a little bit. Go down there around outside of that (Inaudible).
GRANT: Way back during the growing season, we shared with you how we put up a Hot Zone electric fence in a food pot we call North Boom. Not just putting the fence up to protect the beans, but designed it so for late season hunting.
DANIEL: We’ve been waiting a long time but it’s time to open up the Hot Zone electric fence. The fence has obviously worked. We looked on the outside of the fence – heavy browse pressure, no standing beans. But on the inside, where they were protected throughout the entire summer and fall, we’ve got standing grain.
DANIEL: Even if you have very small hidey hole food plots that are getting browsed very heavily during the season, an electric fence is a great way to save those spots, keep that forage growing until you’re ready to open it up and hunt. We designed this fence to be able to hunt it out of the Redneck behind me. On a north wind we can enter, hunt, and exit, without alerting deer to the north and to the east.
DANIEL: Today we’re gonna open up the fence on the north and east half; leave the south and the west up; and keep the fence hot to keep deer from slipping in on our downwind side.
DANIEL: Opening the gate is easy, we’ve already got the gate handles in place. We just gotta pull pins and posts, wrap the strands back around the other side, and we’re ready to go.
GRANT: The observations between inside and outside of the fence were an important part of us deciding we needed to remove several does this year.
GRANT: We want to make sure there is adequate food for all conditions – warm, cold, drought, rainy – for deer year around. Clearly, we were carrying too many deer. And that’s why we’ve been tagging several does this fall.
GRANT: A huge part of our strategy is leaving the fence that’s still up hot. We want deer working around that bottleneck and not just jumping the fence. The same time we took down a portion of the fence and created a gap, we put up a Reconyx just to see how long it’d take deer to find the beans.
GRANT: The next few days, the temperatures forecast to be in the single digits here at The Proving Grounds. And deer love soybean pods, especially during those conditions. So it will be fun to watch and see if our work months ago pays dividends in the late season.
GRANT: And this is zero connective tissue in here. This is what you cook for breakfast, except it’s a little big for breakfast on an elk. And cut it with a fork. There is zero connective tissue. So just look at this. Look at that. Zero connective tissue in there. Zero. That’s the best piece of meat.
GRANT: My family and I and a lot of GrowingDeer Team enjoys venison. In fact, we typically have it a couple of meals a week.
GRANT: Eye of the round has zero connective tissue in the middle. Oh, my gosh, it’s the best cut on a deer.
GRANT: My desire to provide natural wholesome meat for my family is the real reason I’m a hunter.
GRANT: Oh, my gosh. That and a couple of scrambled eggs – you could climb Mt. Everest. Oh, it’s good!
GRANT: I matched my desire to provide high-quality venison to my family with my deer management objectives. My harvest strategy to meet my goals as a manager and a venison lover – mature bucks and mature does. Mature bucks yield the most meat per shot and the meat is fabulous as long as you process it well.
GRANT: We’ve showed you how we debone and cut all of the connective tissue off the meat. When we do that, it’s as tender as any fawn you’ve ever dressed. Mature does often outweigh yearling bucks by 10 or 20 – even 30 thirty pounds – depending on where you are. So, once again, mature does yield more meat per shot than yearling bucks.
GRANT: We know, based on my Ph.D. research, that the Native Americans tagged primarily deer that were three and a half years old and older. You might ask, “How do you know that?” Based on the pelvic girdles they threw in trash heaps.
GRANT: You can sex accurately and age, fairly accurately, a deer from the pelvis girdle. So by going through about ten thousand pelvic girdles in museums around America, we know, or have a good sample of, the deer age structure and sex ratio that Native Americans harvested.
GRANT: To replicate that natural system, I focus on tagging older bucks and mature does.
GRANT: Quick summary, we can provide plenty of venison for our family and manage for a quality herd just by using a little trigger finger management.
GRANT: Consuming quality venison is the foundation of deer hunting. Knowing that and all the requests we get, we’ve started putting some of Miss Tracy’s and Jamie’s recipes on the GrowingDeer website. If you go to GrowingDeer.com – right on top, there’s a new tab called “Recipes.”
GRANT: And I go into the meat just a little bit. But you don’t wanta go too deep right along the bone here.
GRANT: We’ll continue adding more recipes, probably week-by-week, as our families enjoy high-quality venison.
GRANT: The arctic blast is resulting in some great hunting conditions so I am eager to go. But the quietness and cold this time of year is a great time to enjoy Creation and, more importantly, to be still and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching Growing Deer.