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GRANT: Friday, May 18th and I’m super excited because using a couple of simple tools, we’ve already identified some of our Hit List bucks from last year. A lot of healthy and growing antlers.
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GRANT: I’m always amazed at some of my buddies that have trail cameras that don’t keep ‘em out year round. With the high quality rechargeable batteries, it’s very inexpensive to run a trail camera and you need that baby out year round so you can learn the personalities and range of Hit List bucks on your property.
GRANT: Mature bucks have unique personalities just like we as hunters do. I prefer hunting some styles; Adam prefers hunting other styles. Some mature bucks have very large home ranges in the same habitat type; other mature bucks tend to have much smaller home ranges. Some move more at daytime, which is critical for me as a hunter; some tend to be more nocturnal.
GRANT: Learning the personality of a mature buck is just as important, if not more important, than learning his home range to me as a hunter and a manager.
GRANT: There are two shooters on our Hit List at five…
GRANT: Understanding those personality differences is key to me spending the limited time I have available to hunt in the right area, chasing the right buck, to really increase the chances of me being successful.
GRANT: The pattern will change between now and deer season but it’s good to know they’re in the neighborhood.
GRANT: And I’ve got a great example of that this week as we go back in time to a buck we watched a lot last year, Split Brow.
GRANT: We identified Split Brow as a mature Hit List buck early on last year during our camera survey. And although he showed up repeatedly at our Trophy Rock station, 90 plus percent of his images were at night. Our Reconyx cameras continued getting pictures of Split Brow in the core area we called his home range and we didn’t get many images outside of that area on our other Reconyx cameras.
GRANT: Given that information, you might think we’d set up camp in that area just waiting day after day for Split Brow to show but that strategy rarely proves successful. You tend to just be putting a lot of energy and human sign, coming and going to your stand, whatever, in that area, alerting those mature bucks that there’s a two-legged predator in the area during daytime and even driving them to be more nocturnal.
GRANT: I prefer more of a sniper approach: identify my target, study that target, know when they’re most susceptible, and move in for the kill at the right time.
GRANT: We had a daylight pattern on a buck we called Clean 12; ended up grunting that baby into about three yards and making the shot.
GRANT: (Whispering) Clean 12, come into the grunt call. Whew. That was awesome.
ADAM: (Whispering) Unbelievable.
GRANT: With the limited amount of time I have as a hunter, I need to put all my energies toward where I can be successful and I’m already planning that this year for Split Brow should he have a slight change of personality and become a little bit more active during the daytime.
GRANT: During the season we got a disturbing image of Split Brow. But he’d been in apparently a big, big fight. He busted off the G3 on his left side and lost his vision in the right side. That eye no longer reflected back light to the trail camera. When that happens, that usually means the eye is punctured or injured so bad there’s no vision there.
GRANT: Just a little bit later, we had an image of a big mature buck at that same Trophy Rock – blind in the right eye and had shed both antlers.
GRANT: Soon after we got that picture, we knew he was really condensed down to a pretty small range, probably because of his injuries. Miss Tracy and Crystal went up there and literally within an hour had both sheds in their hands.
TRACY: Do they match? That’s it. You did it. You did it. Yes, you did. See my antlers? See my antlers?
GRANT: We continued getting some images of Split Brow coming to the Trophy Rocks, blind in the right eye, core shed, and I was very concerned about a secondary infection or internal injuries that might not show up that would lead to his death during the winter.
GRANT: So, you can imagine how relieved I was when this spring, we got images of a big mature buck with huge basal circumference on his antlers, blind in the right eye at the same Trophy Rock station.
GRANT: Without a genetic test, I’m as sure as I can be that Split Brow is alive and well and off to a great start of producing another good set of antlers.
GRANT: Should Split Brow be showing signs of becoming a little bit more active in the daylight hours. I’m thinking that buck’s now about five or six years old; that’s old in the Ozarks and he might be letting his guard down just a little bit, a little hungrier, not as worried about chasing doe’s, coming at food in the daylight hours. Only time will tell, but you can bet I’ll have my tools out and I’ll be watching and waiting for Split Brow.
GRANT: So if you don’t have them out already, get those trail cameras out of the closet, get you a couple Trophy Rocks and start patterning those bucks. See whose using your property, kind of what the age structure is, whose dominant, who’s subordinate, and which ones have a tendency to be a little bit more active in daylight. It’s a great way to get out and enjoy Creation. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.