This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: It’s the Christmas season, and I have much to celebrate this year. The GrowingDeer Team had a wonderful year in the field. We’ve really refined some food plot techniques, and our plots are holding up even though it’s a wicked drought here in the Ozark Mountains, but every year, in fact every day, well gosh, I’m thankful that my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ was born. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. And without Christ there’d be no hope for eternity. This year join the Woods family. Have some fun, but make sure the focus of the Christmas season is celebrating Jesus Christ.
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STEFANOFF: That thing is devastating. Look at that wound.
GRANT: During the past few months, we’ve shared several hunts from the entire GrowingDeer Team.
GRANT: As we’ve shared these hunts, we’ve emphasized the strategy that made each hunt successful.
GRANT: Strategies need to change based on the season and current conditions. In general, during the early season before acorns fall, deer are on a food-cover-food-cover pattern, and that food is early succession growth – food plots, cutovers, young native vegetation, something like that.
GRANT: As the pre-rut and especially the rut kicked in, well, those patterns, throw them out the window. Bucks are seeking receptive does and they can be anywhere within their home range.
GRANT: You get ready. Get ready.
GRANT: During that time, we focused on travel corridors and large bedding areas.
GRANT: Now that the peak of the rut has passed throughout most the whitetails’ range, deer are back to a food-cover-food-cover pattern.
GRANT: During this time of year, as the temperatures drop, and bucks are trying to recover from the stress of the rut, they’re typically seeking high energy food sources.
GRANT: The need to consume calories is so great that bucks often use these food sources during daylight hours.
GLEN: That’s why he didn’t flop (Inaudible).
GRANT: Yeah. You hit him on the head, Pops.
GRANT: We’ve shared several hunts during past years from a small hidey hole food plot called Prickly Pear.
GRANT: We’ve tagged a lot of critters in the Prickly Pear hidey hole food plot, but it’s in an area that is surrounded by a large acreage of timber, and we needed more quality forage in that area. So, this past summer, the interns and I flagged out a two-acre addition to that plot.
GRANT: Our friends, David and Brenton, came in and did the work to remove the trees and level out the plot.
GRANT: After the plot was cleared and we planted the Buffalo Blend, we tried a new product called Trophy Rock Grow.
GRANT: This is basically Trophy Rock ground up super fine like fertilizer, and a special clay added so you get the benefit of all 60 plus trace minerals over the entire plot. Plants can pull those minerals up. It makes ‘em grow better and more attractive to the deer.
GRANT: Once the seed germinated, deer quickly found the plot and began using it. Daniel took advantage of this and tagged two does there early on.
GRANT: It was such a hot spot, I took my father there on his birthday, October 18th.
GRANT: Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to tag a birthday buck, but we had a great time watching all the deer.
GRANT: During Missouri’s firearms season, Daniel took a young man from his church, and Bret was able to tag his first two deer out of Prickly Pear. Now we’re up to four from that plot.
GRANT: Now that we’re in the post-rut and deer are back on a food-cover-food-cover pattern, Prickly Pear once again is a hot spot. We placed a Reconyx camera there and sure enough confirmed that several deer were using Prickly Pear.
GRANT: With a great pattern of deer using Prickly Pear and a favorable wind, Daniel and Tim headed back to that plot.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Well, it’s December 6th, and Tim and I are here at Prickly Pear, and there have been a pile of deer in this food plot. Of course, this summer we had decided to extend the little hidey hole food plot into this larger, larger feeding area. And it has definitely drawn in deer and they have been just hitting it hard. You can tell it is super dry in our food plot. It needs a little help, so, hopefully, we can remove one or two mouths.
DANIEL: (Whispering) We’re really excited to watch Prickly Pear this season because earlier this fall – just a few days after germination – we came through and we spread Trophy Rock Grow on this half of the food plot.
DANIEL: (Whispering) That kind of pile right there is 35. The road is 30 right there. 32 to that stick.
GRANT: It wasn’t long after Daniel and Tim got settled in that the first deer entered the plot.
GRANT: Unfortunately, this deer entered the far end of the plot and had a lot of ground to cover before it got in range.
GRANT: More deer entered the plot, and it was starting to look like it was gonna be another great hunt.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Yup. Yup.
GRANT: Suddenly, Daniel heard something coming up the hill close to the stand.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Big doe in the back.
DANIEL: (Whispering) You see the big doe behind the limb, behind this tree right here?
GRANT: As normal, the fawn stepped out into the plot, but the doe hung back in the timber.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Yeah. She’s just standing there.
GRANT: Daniel and Tim worked together to quietly shift around and get the camera pointed where they thought the doe would enter the plot.
TIM: (Whispering) Is (Inaudible) or what?
DANIEL: (Whispering) Yup. I want to shoot her. Are you ready?
TIM: (Whispering) Okay.
DANIEL: (Whispering) You on her? Let this wind die.
TIM: (Whispering) All right.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Doe number one. Still got deer in the field and a lot of light left.
DANIEL: (Whispering) I did not want her to get further out there because it is windy, and we’re having gusts – I don’t know – probably 15, 20 miles an hour. And even at – I don’t know – 18 yards or whatever she was, a big gust of wind came right as I drew, and I was rocking back and forth. So, I’m glad she came out and gave me a good, easy shot.
GRANT: There was still plenty of light left, so Daniel and Tim decided to stay in the Summits and see what else entered the plot.
GRANT: As the sun set behind the mountain, deer started pouring in to the plot.
GRANT: Daniel and Tim enjoyed watching this buck chomp down on some of the brassicas, but they were hoping a group of does would come within range.
DANIEL: (Whispering) These does right here in front of us are gonna come in.
GRANT: Finally, the group turned and headed their way.
DANIEL: (Whispering) You see (Inaudible)? Talk real quiet.
TIM: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
DANIEL: (Whispering) Right.
TIM: (Whispering) I’m on it.
DANIEL: (Whispering) You good?
TIM: (Whispering) Yeah.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Like, really good?
TIM: (Whispering) Like, yeah, I have her whole body.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Okay. (Inaudible)
DANIEL: (Whispering) I think we heard her go down just right out of the food plots.
GRANT: At dark, Daniel and Tim got down and took up the trail.
DANIEL: She’s is spraying. Golly. Blood Ring is just covered – good blood.
DANIEL: Well, she’s right down here right below the bluff. She didn’t go – I don’t know – 50, 60 yards from the plot. She’s a big doe, so we’re gonna – let’s take a look at her.
DANIEL: Well, this is doe number 36 here at The Proving Grounds – working towards our management goal. This is the fifth one off of Prickly Pear and just a big doe. That DeadMeat went clean through her and almost out the off side. So, it definitely did its job. She didn’t go but 50, 60 yards from Prickly Pear.
DANIEL: It’s gonna be a short drag, but, unfortunately, it’s uphill. That’s the Ozarks for ya. So, we’re gonna start dragging and go look for the second deer.
DANIEL: Well, second arrow of the night. Looking at the Blood Ring. Looks like a double lung – great blood. Thought we heard her go down just on the edge of the plot. We’ll pick up the blood trail and see where it ends.
DANIEL: Blood, blood. Right there? Yeah, right there – not 20 yards from the plot.
DANIEL: Well, this doe didn’t make it very far. She’s only about 20 yards from the food plot. A little smaller than the first, but it’s a doe, and we’re one closer to our management goal.
GRANT: The boys were excited that the second doe only made it 20 yards out of the plot.
GRANT: Great shooting, Daniel, and we’re two more does closer to reaching our deer management goal for the year.
GRANT: In addition, there’s more fresh venison for the freezer, and that makes all the GrowingDeer Team happy.
GRANT: The Oklahoma boys also know something about putting fresh venison in the freezer.
STEFANOFF: When the DeadMeat blew through that shoulder, and we’re gonna have to watch it when we cape him out ‘cause it’s just trying to come out the other shoulder.
STEFANOFF: That thing is devastating. Look at that wound.
GRANT: Earlier this fall my good friend, Daniel Stefanoff, took his first buck with a bow off his property in Oklahoma.
GRANT: I was super excited for Daniel and couldn’t wait for Daniel and his brother-in-law, Brandon, to get back out.
GRANT: Daniel and Brandon had been working very hard on habitat improvement projects on their weekends and after work, and the result has been some great hunts this year.
GRANT: During Oklahoma’s muzzleloader season, Brandon was up to bat and he was looking to tag a buck and break a long dry spell.
GRANT: Unfortunately, the temperatures were hot, and there were a lot of acorns at Daniel’s place during Oklahoma’s muzzleloader season.
BRANDON: (Whispering) Muzzleloader season here in Oklahoma, and it is hot. It’s about 80 degrees out, and it shouldn’t be this hot in November, but it is. Uh, Daniel and I are trying something a little different tonight. We’re, uh, with as hot as it is, we think the deer are gonna be down in these valleys where it’s nice and cool. So, we’re on this power line crossing that overlooks a, this valley here – hoping to catch some bucks cruising through this valley looking for does.
GRANT: Brandon and Daniel set up in a small valley with a creek running to it, knowing that when the thermals started moving down, cooler temperatures would be in that area, and it would be a likely place for deer to be escaping the heat.
GRANT: The plan worked as Brandon spotted movement across the power line. It was a buck. This buck milled around crunching on acorns.
BRANDON: (Whispering) How far is he?
STEFANOFF: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: Then another buck stepped out.
STEFANOFF: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Kill him if you want.
BRANDON: (Whispering) Hang on.
STEFANOFF: (Whispering) Kill that (Inaudible) buck.
BRANDON: (Whispering) The tree is in my way right now.
STEFANOFF: (Whispering) Hang on – he’s coming out. Range him.
BRANDON: (Whispering) The tree is in my way. I can’t shoot through that tree.
STEFANOFF: (Whispering) Look to your left.
BRANDON: (Whispering) What?
STEFANOFF: (Whispering) Is he in range?
BRANDON: (Whispering) No, he’s a little over. That bare spot is 100, so.
STEFANOFF: (Whispering) What?
BRANDON: (Whispering) I said that big bare spot is 100, so it’ll just be a little over 100.
STEFANOFF: (Whispering) Kill him before he leaves, if you want him.
GRANT: Brandon decided this buck was the one he wanted and prepared for the shot.
STEFANOFF: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
BRANDON: (Whispering) You ready?
STEFANOFF: (Whispering) You got him. You got him.
BRANDON: (Whispering) I don’t know which deer of those two was better, man, but I’m happy with either of ‘em.
STEFANOFF: (Whispering) Way to go.
BRANDON: (Whispering) Ooo. Buck down in sight.
STEFANOFF: (Whispering) Yeah.
BRANDON: (Whispering) I’m ready to go put my hands on this deer.
STEFANOFF: (Whispering) Man, great. That’s awesome.
GRANT: It’s a very satisfying feeling when the deer drops in view of the hunter, and Brandon had an easy walk to recover his deer.
BRANDON: Oh, he’s right in front of me.
BRANDON: Right there. Went right through his shoulder.
BRANDON: It’s been seven years since I’ve killed a buck. I wanted to kill a big buck, but man this is awesome right now.
STEFANOFF: It’s a three-and-a-half-year-old deer, and…
BRANDON: I’m just happy to get a deer. Didn’t hardly get to hunt last year with my back all jacked up. I took a doe last year during the holiday season. First buck in seven years, so.
STEFANOFF: It’s a great deer.
BRANDON: I’ll take it.
STEFANOFF: It’s a great deer.
BRANDON: Now I’ve got to go look to see if we have any trail camera pictures of it, ‘cause it’s not one I immediately recognized.
GRANT: Congratulations Team Oklahoma. I know you guys worked hard throughout the summer on habitat improvement projects. And I enjoy watching ya benefit from that work.
GRANT: As we enter the post-rut season, bucks are starting to use scrapes again.
GRANT: Scrape activity tends to increase and increase and peak right before most does are receptive. Once does are receptive, bucks tend to ignore scrapes and spend their time either tending or looking for receptive does.
GRANT: Once most of the does have been bred, bucks and does go back to using scrapes as a form of communication. Understanding this biology means that once again scrapes could be a good location for hunting.
GRANT: An advance technique during the post-rut is use a quality lure on the scrapes in front of your stand. That encourages deer to start using those scrapes before they use other scrapes in the area.
GRANT: We simply return to the scrapes in front of our stands, use some Code Blue lure and a stick to take the leaves out, and now we’ve got scent and visual appeal for those scrapes.
GRANT: Another trick that works really well – especially during the late season – is use at least one cell phone or web-based camera on the property where you hunt. We use a Reconyx cell-based camera and put it on a large food plot. It’s not that we’re trying to pattern deer on that specific plot, but during this time of year deer tend to be active all at once or down all at once. We placed a Reconyx camera that shoots pictures to our cell phone on one of our larger plots called Big Cave.
GRANT: Although it does provide us some scouting information for that plot, that’s not our primary objective. The real benefit is just seeing if deer are using that feeding area during daylight or after dark. By this time of year, deer have been heavily pressured here at The Proving Grounds, and if deer are using that plot during daylight, we can assume they’re feeding throughout the property during daylight. But if almost all the pictures are during darkness, we might as well stay home and wait for a better day.
GRANT: It’s easy to get super busy during the Christmas season – trying to slide in some post-rut hunts and spend time with family, but even with all of that going on, take time to enjoy Creation, and most importantly, find a place to be quiet every day and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.