Deer Hunting: Strategies for Hit List Bucks (Episode 93 Transcript)

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

GRANT: It’s Monday, August 29th and it’s a great time of year. Just about two weeks till bow season starts in Missouri and we’re changing gears from managing and camera surveys, to getting ready for hunting season.

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GRANT: Part of the change is moving our Reconyx cameras from our camera survey positions where I have a Trophy Rock and where I put corn out for two weeks a year to try to attract the bucks in, and does and fawns, to get a picture to scouting positions. And my scouting positions are not right where I’m gonna hunt; usually travel places between bedding areas and feeding areas are big, wide open food plots, so I’m not gonna hunt during the day, but I know those mature bucks will use at night, so I can connect the dots and figure out where they’re traveling, to put a stand.

GRANT: Camera surveys are a lot of effort. I looked at 27,000 images this year alone off my property, just for my camera survey. But I think the results and the data you get are well worth the effort, or I wouldn’t do it. That’s obvious. If you’re thinking about doing a camera survey, or want to learn more, check out that link right below me, because QDMA, Quality Deer Management Association, just published a great book on how to do camera surveys and all things trail cameras. I actually wrote a chapter or two in there myself. QDMA’s getting all the proceeds. Check out that book ‘cause it’s a one stop shop and you’ll be a better trail camera user.

GRANT: Just grab your cameras and your light board and we’re gonna go…

GRANT: One result the camera survey will yield is an image of almost every buck on the property; young, medium, old, big, small, typical, non-typical.

GRANT: So today I’m gonna introduce you to a handful of the Hit List bucks on my property, bucks I think are four and a half years old or older, and where they live and habitat features I think I can use to get within hit range of our Hit List bucks.

GRANT: Welcome to Boom Pond Power Line camera site. Now the big power line right over here – pond right over here with the liner in it. We showed you it before, and we’re on a ridge shaped like a boomerang. Hence boom – boomerang. You know I’m a scientist, I’m not real creative so you gotta live with my names, but on Facebook I ask for help every now and then naming some of our bucks because I am a scientist, I just call it as I see it. If you want to help me name some of our Hit List buck’s this year, check out that link right below me, go to our Facebook page. Every now and then I post pictures of our Hit List bucks and I’m open for suggestions of nice, creative names for our bucks.

GRANT: The first buck on my list right here is Big Boom 9. Big Boom 9 lives on this boomerang ridge; big, whopping nine pointer, thick chest, neck melts right into the legs. That’s a great sign of a four year old or older buck. Looks like he’s got short legs. That’s ‘cause his chest and body’s so big. The legs aren’t shorter, his body’s so much bigger and that’s a key factor for identifying mature bucks. Big rack, big basal circumference, all the stuff I’m looking for in a mature deer. Now Big Boom 9 is gonna be trolling this around the north side right here. You can see it’s still dark behind me even though it’s in the morning. Better acorns on the north side. There’s two big White Oaks right over here. South wind pushing over this ridge; we get slightly off the ridge, our scents gonna go up and over, Big Boom 9 should be traveling this way. We know he’s right here. Couple big White Oaks right here. I’m calling this a kill spot for Big Boom 9.

GRANT: I’d like to introduce you to Handle Bars. I named him Handle Bars because off of each G2, there’s a sticker coming out. Just looks like it’s perfect to grab those things for that “grip and grin” photo right after you slapped your tag on a buck. I hope I get to do that, but Handle Bars has caused me a lot of anxiety. I’m not sure in my mind if he’s three and a half or four and a half, or maybe even older. His legs still look pretty long in proportion to his body; his neck doesn’t come all the way to the bottom of his chest to start, you can see a definitive break between his neck and his chest. That’s usually a sign of a three year old. However, using posture and body shape to estimate the age of a buck is not 100 percent accurate. How he defends himself and how he carries himself around these camera stations and the Trophy Rocks tells me he’s a dominant buck. But sometimes three year olds have a bad attitude and they appear as the dominate buck. I’m gonna wait and put Handle Bars on my maybe Hit List, but when he’s in 20 yards, I’ll make that critical decision.

GRANT: Balanced 10, unlike a lot of mature bucks on my property, he’s a rangy buck and bucks that move a lot are easier to harvest.

GRANT: Boom Back Balanced 10. Now surely someone can come up with a better name than Boom Back Balanced 10. I named him that because the back of this ridge where the boomerang center is, is where we receive the most trail camera images of Boom Back Balanced 10. He’s a four and a half year old or older big 10 point that’s very symmetrical. When you see him, you recognize him because he didn’t have any little knobs or stickers. He’s very symmetrical for a deer that age. Boom Back Balanced 10 is a beautiful deer. We’ve got him a few times here, but more at our Boom Back station. And there’s a saddle between here and there. I’m gonna bet old Boom Back Balanced 10 wants the least path resistance between here and there and he’s going through that saddle, or that low spot in the ridge to get there. And right on the downhill side of that saddle, there’s several big mature White Oaks that have some acorns this year. My challenge is: can I go in there, hang a stand, trim my way in and out without alerting him? Because he’ll take that least path resistance as long as he doesn’t associate that with danger. We’ve produced great deer in tough conditions but can we put a tag on one of those deer? It’s gonna be tough to see. Let’s check out one more camera station and talk about what we can do to harvest these mature bucks.

GRANT: Half-way across the property is a perfect example of waiting on a plan to come together. We’ve got Lower Field 2 and we’ve had a Gallagher fence there all summer long protecting the beans in most of that field. Right outside that fence and across the creek on another field, the beans are lip high. I mean the deer just wore ‘em out this summer through all the drought and everything. But, inside the fence, the beans look great.

GRANT: There’s a couple of factors that are gonna make or break this setup. One that’s gonna help make it is this blind has been up for a couple months now. It’s just another object in a deer’s habitat that doesn’t move and is no threat to ‘em. It’s a neutral. A big positive is this fence. The Gallagher fence allowed these beans to grow and be more productive than any other beans in this part of the ranch. It is the source of forage. Open up the gates, create a no fence gap, deer are gonna pour in here. We’re looking at Last Lick 10 and Last Lick Kicker 10 walking in the gap 20 yards from the blind. Beautiful. But a couple things that could go wrong, if the acorns start raining before then and deer back off the forage and start chasing acorns. Boy, I hope that doesn’t happen. If the factors all line up right, September 15th, we can put that tag on Last Lick 10. This is a great early season hunting strategy, the one missing ingredient is it’s in the valley and the wind tends to swirl in the valley. It’s up to Dead Down Wind and us getting a favorable wind direction to slide in there when the bucks come for the last bite of the afternoon buffet.

GRANT: There’s a huge difference between growing deer, allowing them to mature or get older, and providing all the resources they need so they can express all their antler growth potential and fawn production potential and harvesting mature bucks. I hope you stay with us and we can share some of that information with you at

ADAM: [Singing] There stands the preacher’s daughter. Ooooh, oooh…