This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: Ooooo, it’s cold here today and it is throughout most of the whitetails’ range. But I’ve got a hunt to share that’s gonna warm you up. Sit back, relax and enjoy Rae’s season.
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GRANT: (Whispering) …Snickers bars.
GRANT: My daughter, Rae, has truly enjoyed hunting since a young age. (Fades Out)
GRANT: I fondly remember taking Rae hunting and needing a pocketful of bite sized Snickers bars and a five gallon bucket to carry her books, toys, and other gear to make sure the hunt was enjoyable.
GRANT: (Inaudible) Do exactly what you’ve been doing. Follow through, squeeze, take your time.
GRANT: As Rae has matured, so have her outdoor skills and her hunting goals. Rae is currently the national champion for her age class in high school doubles trap. She’s an excellent shot. Rae started squirrel hunting and enjoys skinning, fleshing and tanning the hides. Rae loves everything outdoors.
GRANT: Before youth season this year, Rae shot her Winchester .243 to confirm it was sighted in and take some practice shots.
ADAM: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
RAE: (Whispering) Okay. Stop him.
ADAM: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
ADAM: (Whispering) You got him; you got him.
GRANT: Rae had specific deer hunting goals this year. She wanted to tag a buck as large or larger than the buck she took last year. I knew that would be a tough hurdle because Rae tagged a nice one last season.
RAE: (Whispering) It’s the first day of youth season and we’re out where I shot my deer last year, but this year it’s a lot better because we can see in front of us. Because last year, it was really foggy. So, hopefully, this year, I’ll get a better one than last year.
GRANT: Rae and I started off youth season in a food plot we call North Boom. The Broadside was looking great and there was still some Eagle Seed beans.
RAE: (Whispering) It’s a opossum. Oooo, it’s so cute. You see him over there? It’s walking. Oh my gosh.
GRANT: It was warm during youth season. We saw a few antlerless deer, a raccoon and a opossum and enjoyed the hunt. And Rae was content knowing there were more days to come.
GRANT: Next, we hunted out of a Redneck blind mounted on a trailer. We had just moved this blind to a plot we call North Field knowing there was a pattern of deer using it during the afternoon.
GRANT: (Quietly) Yeah. Perfect. Now, pull your safety down. Perfect. Perfect. You still got it focused how you like? Are your crosshairs clear and all that?
RAE: Hmm. Hmm. Hmm. Hmm.
GRANT: (Quietly) Okie dokie. Rae, any deer you see here, you just put the crosshairs where you want it.
RAE: (Quietly) Okay.
GRANT: (Quietly) Everywhere you can see it – it’s well within range.
RAE: (Quietly) Okay. I’m holding out for a big one.
GRANT: (Quietly) Okay.
ADAM: (Quietly) There’s three really nice ones coming in here a lot. (Inaudible)
GRANT: Once again, we saw some does and fawns.
GRANT: From this blind, we could see another plot across the valley. It’s named after Rae or Rae’s Field. And we can see some turkeys and even deer using that plot.
GRANT: A few years ago, I expanded Rae’s Field. But I left a Redneck blind in the same position. After analyzing and hunting out of it a time or two, I noticed the blind would be better positioned about 100 yards to the east. We can approach that field from the east and not alert deer and rarely would the wind give our location away.
GRANT: I found it’s fairly easy to move a Redneck blind even when it’s on a 10 foot stand if you have the right equipment. A friend of mine, Russell Stewart, who has crafted many of the food plots here at The Proving Grounds, was working close by. He had a small track loader, so Russell simply came over, put the bucket under the blind, we eased it over about 100 yards, put it in the right position and set it back down.
GRANT: The wind is rarely out of the east here at The Proving Grounds, so now we can approach, hunt and exit without alerting the deer.
GRANT: I was confident Rae would see a buck from this new position.
GRANT: In fact, it wasn’t long during our first hunt from this blind that Rae spotted some does and fawns and not long after – a nice buck.
GRANT: (Whispering) Easy, easy, easy.
RAE: (Whispering) I’m not gonna shoot – I’m just looking.
GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Go ahead and (Inaudible). That’s a good deer. And you don’t have to shoot yet, but just make sure you’ve lined him up good. Don’t get sighted (Inaudible) with your gun.
RAE: (Whispering) Yeah, I see him. He’s out of my range.
GRANT: Even though I assured Rae this was a nice buck, she wasn’t sure she wanted to burn her tag on this particular critter.
GRANT: (Whispering) It’s totally up to you but that deer – look how stained his back legs are.
RAE: (Whispering) Hold on. I kinda just want to see what the other deer over the hill is.
GRANT: (Whispering) Okay.
RAE: (Whispering) If that’s okay.
GRANT: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: He came to within about 75 yards of the blind pushing some does around and then returned to the far side of the plot.
GRANT: Rae finally decided she would enjoy tagging this buck, but patiently waited for him to present a broadside shot.
GRANT: Stay with him ‘cause he’s gonna stop right there.
RAE: (Whispering) I can’t find him.
RAE: (Whispering) Oh found him.
GRANT: (Whispering) He’ll run right back around.
RAE: (Whispering) I can shoot him; I can shoot him.
GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible) right there? Follow through. Follow through, follow through.
RAE: (Whispering) Okay.
GRANT: (Whispering) Follow through. Right in the shoulder; right in the shoulder; follow through. Follow through.
GRANT: (Whispering) Rae, you hit below him. Jack another shell in honey. He’s just standing there.
RAE: (Whispering) Okay.
GRANT: (Whispering) Put it right in the shoulder, honey. Just follow through real carefully.
RAE: (Quietly) I don’t know why I hit below him.
GRANT: (Quietly) Were you right on him?
RAE: (Quietly) Yeah.
GRANT: Okay… (Fades Out)
GRANT: The shot was obviously low and I was surprised because I know Rae’s a great shot and I thought the gun was sighted in.
GRANT: In hindsight, her miss was due to a combination of two factors. Somehow the gun had been knocked off and wasn’t sighted in and there was some taller brush between us and the buck and I didn’t notice some of the taller twigs. When Rae and I were searching to make sure there was no blood or sign of a hit in the area, I noticed one of the twigs had a fresh break. It had clearly been shot off. And the bullet deflected below the deer.
GRANT: I felt sorry for Rae. Missing such a shot can be disappointing to anyone – even a very mature hunter. I assumed the gun was off, but the next morning, we went to the range, checked it and confirmed the sights were low. I readjusted the scope and prepared to take Rae hunting again.
GRANT: Finally, Missouri’s regular firearm season opened up and Rae was eager to go hunting.
RAE: (Whispering) It was really, really cold last night – like 24 degrees and so I think it will be really cold again tonight, so maybe the deer will be moving some.
GRANT: We returned to Rae’s Field where we saw an armadillo and several antlerless deer, but the buck she missed didn’t show.
GRANT: Rae and I continued hunting through the firearms season. Saw lots of does and fawns and even some younger bucks. A couple of ‘em putting on a pretty good show fighting in front of the blind. But none of ‘em were ones Rae wanted to tag.
GRANT: Rifle season ended and for the first time in many years, Rae hadn’t punched her buck tag. I could tell she was upset, but I knew as a parent, it was a good lesson in patience and discipline. I couldn’t wait for muzzleloader season to open up and get Rae back out in the woods.
GRANT: When muzzleloader season opened and Rae was available to hunt, there was a cold front passing. And our go-to field during the late season when a cold front is passing is Crabapple food plot. It’s the largest food plot here at The Proving Grounds – about eight acres and usually has the most food. It’s kind of centrally located and the deer haven’t been pressured all that much around that plot. Although, Raleigh had already harvested a buck we called Gumby and it’s where I had an encounter with a great buck, Handy, a couple of months ago.
RAE: (Whispering) It’s December 27th and it’s late muzzleloader season and I didn’t get a deer during regular rifle season. Dad tells me that there’s a pretty good pattern of deer coming in here and so, hopefully, one will step out tonight.
GRANT: One reason we love Crabapple field during the late season and a cold front is the wind is usually out of the north if a cold front is passing and this field is set up perfectly for a north wind. As the blind is at the very south end by a creek – scent, thermals and everything goes away from the deer. It wasn’t long ‘til a large group of does and fawns entered the plot.
GRANT: Then we noticed antlers entering the plot. Very unique antlers. It was a buck we called Peaches. And Rae knew she would like to tag that deer.
RAE: (Whispering) Does that mean I should shoot him?
GRANT: (Whispering) Yeah. Definitely. Let him come closer but go ahead and spot him in your scope.
RAE: (Whispering) It’s a button buck or like a small buck.
GRANT: (Whispering) You’re right. There’s another buck.
RAE: (Whispering) Yeah. Yeah.
GRANT: (Whispering) I see a younger buck.
RAE: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: Peaches was feeding and not offering a good broadside shot when several other bucks entered the plot. It seemed like Peaches and the other bucks were drifting toward a group of does that were further away.
RAE: (Whispering) Make sure I’m on the right one. Okay. I’m gonna shoot.
GRANT: (Whispering) Second one?
RAE: (Whispering) Yup. I got him. I’m gonna shoot really soon. Okay. And jump on the shoulder. Here we go. Or not. Hold on. Okay.
GRANT: You got him; you got him. Good shot, Rae. He’s gonna go down soon.
GRANT: It was hard to tell through all the smoke, but based on the reaction of Peaches, I thought the shot was great. It seemed like he should fall at any moment. Peaches took off across the field, but stopped right before the wood line. I was in shock and then the longer he stood there, I decided Daniel and I needed to hurry up and reload the muzzleloader.
GRANT: (Whispering) That’s good; that’s good. Get ready to shoot, Rae.
RAE: (Whispering) I am.
GRANT: Rae squared up to take another shot. This time Peaches is about 200 yards away and it’s obvious the bullet struck the ground before and left of Peaches.
GRANT: (Quietly) Follow through.
GRANT: (Quietly) Where was it?
DANIEL: (Quietly) I think that one was low.
GRANT: (Quietly) She dropped him?
DANIEL: (Quietly) No, that was low, I think.
GRANT: (Quietly) Did he run out of the field?
DANIEL: (Quietly) Yes.
GRANT: After carefully reviewing the footage, it became obvious Rae hit Peaches in the front leg. Low and left – just like the second shot. I studied the footage and knew this was not a mortal wound.
GRANT: When Daniel and I were sighting in this muzzleloader, we had difficulty shooting a two or three inch group. But in years past, it had always produced a one inch group without any problem. I started wondering, “Has the powder somehow went bad? What could be the problem?” So, we bought a new box of powder just to give it a test. The next day, we went to the range and shot one inch groups without any issue. Clearly, Rae had been bitten again by problems with a gun. In fact, Rae had no problem shooting one inch groups at 150 yards with the new powder.
GRANT: With full confidence in Rae and the gun as it’s set up now, Daniel, Rae and I headed out to a plot we called Big Boom.
GRANT: Once again, antlerless deer started coming into the plot fairly soon into the hunt and not long, we saw a larger-bodied antlerless deer enter the field.
GRANT: We studied this deer carefully and it was obvious it was a shed buck. A large one, but shed nonetheless.
GRANT: Tracy had already found a shed from the buck Rae missed earlier in Rae’s Field and seeing this shed buck, well, that put more pressure on me to hurry up and try to find a buck that pleased Rae.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Right there.
RAE: (Whispering) It’s the 29th and it’s my third day out muzzleloader hunting. It’s really windy out today, so we think that more deer are gonna be down here in the bottom than up on the ridges. So hopefully, one of those will be a really big buck. We were out last night and we saw a buck that had already shed its antlers, but hopefully, the ones that come out today with have both of ‘em on.
GRANT: We were just getting settled in and kind of quieted down when some does and fawns entered the plot.
GRANT: We were watching these deer; Daniel noticed antlers on the other side of the plot and instantly I thought it was a pretty good buck.
RAE: (Whispering) So, I can’t even get my scope on him.
GRANT: (Whispering) Look at his antlers. (Inaudible) I don’t even know that deer, Rae. But he’s a good deer.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Yeah, I don’t know that deer either.
GRANT: (Whispering) He may have come in ‘cause we’ve got the only food. But, that’s a good deer.
RAE: (Whispering) I’ll wait for a bit, but I can’t shoot him from here anyways.
GRANT: (Whispering) Well, we can move your gun.
RAE: (Whispering) Yeah, but I want to wait for a bit.
GRANT: (Whispering) Okay. I’m telling you – that’s a pretty good deer, Rae.
RAE: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: The buck turned and Rae didn’t have quite as good a look at his antlers, so she wasn’t ready to take the shot. But as the buck fed across the field and Rae got a better look, I could tell she was starting to tighten up on the stock.
GRANT: (Whispering) Easy, easy.
RAE: (Whispering) He’s looking.
GRANT: (Whispering) He’s (Inaudible).
RAE: (Whispering) I know. (Inaudible) Actually. No, no, no. Come back.
GRANT: (Whispering) He’s (Inaudible) – he’s not (Inaudible).
RAE: (Whispering) Yup. I need him to turn. Right behind the shoulder.
GRANT: (Whispering) Right behind the shoulder. It’ll angle through and hit the front shoulder.
RAE: (Whispering) Okay. I’m gonna shoot him.
GRANT: (Whispering) Okay. Just take your time and follow through…(Inaudible)
RAE: (Whispering) Okay.
GRANT: (Whispering) …after you shoot.
GRANT: That – ain’t no doubt about that one, girl.
RAE: He needs to be in the field. In the field,in the field, in the field.
GRANT: We’re gonna start reloading real quick, but I think he’s going down right there. He’s getting ready to go down. He’s going down.
GRANT: No doubt, he’s going down, Rae.
DANIEL: That’s a great shot.
GRANT: That is a great shot.
DANIEL: Heart shot.
GRANT: You heart shot – that was perfect shot. Perfect shot…
GRANT: …on a super buck, Rae.
RAE: Yeah. Yeah.
GRANT: Double G3. You can name that deer.
RAE: I can?
GRANT: He actually walked on out there. I had so much confident and I didn’t tell you – he ended up being about right at 150 yards. It kept getting away from us. That was 150 yard shot in the wind, Rae. (Inaudible)
RAE: There you go; there you go.
GRANT: Perfect; perfect shot.
GRANT: After a long season, we were hugging and high fiving and celebrating. We took our time walking up to the buck. But as we got closer, well, there was another surprise.
GRANT: Rae, you know how we told you deer were about ready to shed?
RAE: Ah huh. Oh.
GRANT: These are your antlers.
RAE: That’s nice. There’s the other one.
GRANT: He shed when he hit the ground. If you’d waited any later, he probably wouldn’t have had any antlers.
GRANT: He might have shed in front of us. Look at those cool tines on there, Rae.
RAE: Ain’t that neat?
GRANT: See, this is a split G3.
RAE: Ah huh.
GRANT: And he’s got a split brow tine, too. So, count those rascals.
RAE: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.
GRANT: Seven on one side?
RAE: Eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve – eight, nine…
GRANT: A 12 pointer.
RAE: …eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve.
GRANT: A 12 point.
RAE: Sure is.
GRANT: That shed a little early.
DANIEL: You can tell your mom you found sheds and shot a deer.
GRANT: You had a double day, Rae.
RAE: I don’t know what to do.
GRANT: That’s okay. Just hold him like he would have him on. Turn him the other way. You’ve got him inside out.
RAE: Alright. Like that? I don’t know which side goes on which side.
GRANT: Yeah, that’s the way it is.
RAE: It is?
GRANT: Yeah, just like that. See?
GRANT: This is easier to pose than normal hero shot…
RAE: This is my once a year weight training. I guess I can just barbell ‘em. It has antlers – I didn’t just grab these from, like the office or something and bring ‘em to stick on a doe. But, this is a buck. I promise.
GRANT: Yeah. We see a scar. He just shed.
RAE: Yup. Like hit the ground with ‘em.
GRANT: As a matter of fact, when I saw him run over here, his antlers were still on.
RAE: I thought I was gonna come over here and see the nice pointies. But nope. They’re still here. Right here.
GRANT: So, he had 12 antler points.
GRANT: Split G3.
GRANT: On the right side. Split brow on the right side.
RAE: And then, this one’s just normal. Yup.
GRANT: You’re in shock, aren’t you?
GRANT: Is that stick messing up just over her left…
RAE: Okay. (Inaudible) Here is falling. No, like he’s falling the other way.
GRANT: Nice job, Rae.
RAE: Thank you.
GRANT: Get the other one – hold both of them.
RAE: I’m getting there.
GRANT: Once the shock was over that the buck had shed his antlers, we were back to celebrating and having fun, taking pictures and enjoying the moment.
GRANT: A couple of days ago, I was out working on the property and I saw a couple of immature eagles staying in one little valley and that’s a telltale sign something is dead in the area. When I went to explore, I found the buck we call Peaches.
GRANT: Peaches had a very unique rack with several kicker points on the left side and a totally unique antler on the right side. We called this deer Peaches because we had pictures of him in our yard under a peach tree this past summer.
RAE: (Whispering) Here we go. Or not. Okay.
GRANT: You got him.
GRANT: Rae shot and unfortunately, hit low and hit Peaches in the off front leg. We watched the footage over and over and I knew that Peaches was hit in the leg, but it wasn’t a fatal shot.
GRANT: The meat – the little bit that was left from scavengers and predators chewing on it, was very fresh. Peaches had lived several days which kind of struck me odd that he had expired from the leg wound. So, I started inspecting the carcass and sure enough, the only sign of a bullet wound was in the front leg.
GRANT: …side and at the base – very discoloring – pretty typical of a brain abscess.
GRANT: When I started looking at the antlers, I noticed this discoloration and it’s actually a little soft at the base of the right antler. The right antler is obviously non-typical. The combination of that non-typical shape and the discoloration, tells me Peaches died from a brain abscess.
GRANT: The University of Georgia has done lots of research on brain abscess and it’s related to a specific family of bacteria. And what happens is when bucks fight or something happens, there can be a small hole or fracture in the skull plate and bacteria is allowed to go from the surface inside the skull plate and starts growing. That forms a strong acid which eats away at the bone and discolors antlers and certainly causes damage to the brain.
GRANT: I’m glad I put closure to the story of Peaches and I look forward to getting the skull cleaned and we’ll show you the results of a brain abscess from an inside view to see where the acid has been eating away at the skull bones.
GRANT: The wind chill has been dangerously cold in many parts of the whitetails’ range. But even when it’s that cold, wrap up and take a few minutes, go outside and enjoy Creation. But most importantly, take time every day to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.