Deer Management Mysteries: Death Strikes Twice (Episode 113 Transcript)

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

GRANT: January 16th and a lot of my fellow hunters in Missouri are depressed today because yesterday was the last day of bow season. But no need to be depressed because we’ve all got a lot of management activities and turkey season and good stuff coming up – getting ready for 2012 – 2013.

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GRANT: I’ve officially cut Tracy and Crystal loose to go shed hunting. They were on a part of the farm that I wasn’t yesterday afternoon and they did find two antlers, but unfortunately, they weren’t sheds. Tracy called and reported she’d found a pretty good buck in Crabapple field.

GRANT: When Adam and I went to check out the buck Tracy found yesterday, we got stopped short on our way there. Something you rarely find when you’re out in the woods – a gray fox laying there dead but a very fresh kill.

GRANT: So, what’s really interesting is this fox has what appears to be rabbit fur in its mouth. And just looking at the scene here, it’s possible that this fox had caught a rabbit and a coyote or a raptor, like a hawk or an owl, came in and killed the fox to get the rabbit. It’s a vicious world out here. We’re gonna go over this with a fine-toothed comb and see if we can figure out what killed the fox that killed the rabbit.

GRANT: The only puncture wound I find is a hole here in the back that could be a canine mark, but it’s only one. It’s not two. But a bullet – any kind of bullet would have passed through this fox unless it’s a .22 or something, so I think this animal was killed by another animal – especially with the bite marks in its – the hair in its mouth and no big bullet holes or puncture wounds anywhere. No real sign of a big scuffle, so whatever it was, took it down quick. We’re gonna skin this out a little later and see if we find anything on the inside that can determine the cause of death and move on up the hill towards this carcass as we’re in the valley of death.

GRANT: The buck was found in a grove of locust trees and that’s not where any deer wants to walk when the locusts are that thick because they’ve got two or three inch needles all around. He’d have got scared in there or potentially drug in there – most likely he was getting chased by a bunch of predators.

GRANT: Possibly a three, probably a two year old deer. A lot of potential going here – short tines but a big spread and pretty good mass for a young deer here in the Ozarks. We’ll probably never know for sure, but-it right now, I’m not seeing any ribs busted or anything – like a traditional shot, it’s probably going to be a predator kill. It’s a tough world anywhere and predator numbers seem to be increasing throughout the whitetails’ range. It’s gonna get tougher unless we really work on predator control.

GRANT: Get it out of the locust thorns there where I can look at it a little better. What a shame. I don’t think anyone can say for certain what the cause of death was for this buck. Losing a button buck, or six month old buck, can be replaced the next year. So you’ve got a one year investment you’ve lost. A year and a half old buck takes two breeding cycles – a button buck one year; year and half old buck – 12 months later. And a two or three year old buck – now we’re looking at a three or four year replacement time. But shooting a two a half year old deer by mistake when you’re on a three year old or older harvest criteria is a three year replacement period. There’s a heavy cost to replace that two and a half year old deer. You’ve fed it and protected it for two and a half years and it takes three years to replace that. So, there’s a heavy replacement cost for this.

GRANT: I’m gonna break the head off this and add it to a pile in the barn of predator kills or domestic dog kills or unknown kills and, uh, it’s just part of the deer business. Out here in the wild, deer are going to die. Not all of ‘em are gonna be hunter harvested. So, it’s sad when you’re in a pretty intensive management program and, and you lose this, but I’m glad that Tracy found it and had that joy and she gave her dog Crystal, actually, the credit for finding it. These are tough sheds to find and, uh, Adam and I are gonna go on about our work here at The Proving Grounds. That’s not a real happy ending to a deer season. I love it when Tracy and Crystal find sheds. I don’t like it when they find antlers attached to a skull.

GRANT: Still a lot of work to accomplish today as Adam and I are starting our post-season trail camera survey. Deer season is officially closed now and I want to reestablish my camera sites and I always use a Trophy Rock and whole kernel corn or shelled corn and I want to draw deer in – get as many pictures as I can. Now, this year is a little different because bucks are shedding early and it won’t be a full blown survey because we use those antlered bucks as marked animals. Each antler is uniquely identifiable and then we use that to get our ratio of does and fawns. So, I really want to see about how many deer are here. I won’t get an exact number. I want to see which bucks still have their antlers; what percent have shed and which bucks made it through the season. So, I’ve got some objectives, even though I won’t get the full count like normal.

GRANT: In addition to gaining that data, it will also tell us where the bucks that still have their antlers or big body bucks that are already shed are spending their time this time of year. Just a day past season. We’ll put all that information into our BuckView or MapView Reconyx software. Remember – we’re one day past season. That’d be great information for hunting the late season next year.

GRANT: So, I’m the right distance for my Reconyx camera that I’ve always used, so I know it will be focused really good right here. And I’m just gonna put my – a brand new Trophy Rock out. You can see they’ve all but cleaned up the last one.

GRANT: Then I put my corn out in a little bit of a U shape because I don’t want all the bucks head down right here and some of the bodies blocking potential view of the antlers of the other bucks. So, I want to make a U about half the width of the camera frame so, hopefully, they’re spread out – be nice little boys, won’t be too crowded and I can get pictures that allow me to identify each buck as a unique individual.

GRANT: Well, bag tore so I didn’t get the perfect U I was looking for, but this will suffice and we’ll re-bait about every three days – two to three days, depending on the deer density but we’ve got a extra thing going this year at our camera sites.

GRANT: Everyone that’s done a trail camera survey where you put whole kernel corn or another attractant on the ground knows that raccoons will be some of the first to find it and may consume 50 or 75 percent of the bait you’re putting out that you intended to attract deer to your camera site.

GRANT: Not only is that a financial loss because you’re feeding non-target animals, but raccoons carry ticks and other things that might impact deer and they definitively cause stress to deer. You’ve seen them snarling in your pictures or backing deer off or five fat coons sitting on the bait pile while the deer are standing in the background, barely in flash range. I want to remove some of those coons, so we moved all of our traps from the various areas to right around our camera survey sites.

GRANT: I’ve got the least expensive mackerel I can buy and the wind’s actually blowing out of the south like this. I’m holding it over here so I don’t have to smell it. Well, the raccoon breeding season is right now. And they’re leaving sweets or other things and going to meat. And so, mackerel, or other sources of meats, you can buy inexpensively at the grocery store are great raccoon bait right now.

GRANT: Got me a Duke trap right here. I know from the photographs of this trail camera that coons come down this edge here working to the creek right behind us, so we got a trap there and a couple traps right over here. The trap’s in place. We haven’t ran traps in awhile so the door is locked down so nothing could get in. You need to check your traps every day. We need to open it up and bait it, lay a Hansel and Gretel trail with another secret recipe. I don’t stop with just mackerel, I want the cafeteria approach so we got the chocolate marshmallows for the sweet tooth; that dog food that’s been proven to work well and got the mackerel in there. We can give them the $5 discount buffet right there at the Duke trap. The magic juice is actually fish oil. You can purchase at a lot of trapping supply places – fish oil is very attractive to coons. Of course, they love anything to do with fish, so I just lay a little scent line – just like this. Don’t have to be much at all. Right to the door of the trap. You don’t want to get it all over the trap because then they’d be pawing on it and might trigger it from the outside. Just get it within a foot or two and they’ll smell that mackerel, chocolate marshmallows and dog food concoction on the inside and you’ll have somebody grinning at you in the morning when you pull up.

GRANT: The next couple of weeks will be just like Christmas. Going through camera cards and seeing what bucks still have their antlers or survived the season and which ones have already shed, which we can’t identify those as an individual, and how many raccoons and opossum we can add to the approximately 35 we’ve already removed from The Proving Grounds.

ADAM: You know, hindsight’s 20/20 and I want to share more about our hunt on January 6th. During that morning we had an encounter with a buck we call Pumpkin Face.

ADAM: (Whispering) …Pumpkin Face…that’s Pumpkin Face.

ADAM: Now, Pumpkin Face is often in the Reconyx images with Last Lick 10.

ADAM: As that hunt unfolded, we never saw Last Lick 10. But after seeing all the bucks in the area, I thought for sure he was close.

ADAM: Fast forward four days. It’s Tuesday and I’m checking the Reconyx cameras and I was shocked at what I found. On January 6th, Last Lick 10, Pumpkin Face and several other of the same deer I saw that morning, were at Boom Pond Powerline not one hour before I saw them.

ADAM: But as mature bucks do, he slipped through our fingers that morning and never showed, but we’ve got a great pattern for him next year.

GRANT: You know, as Reconyx says, “See what you’ve been missing.” Sometimes that’s more painful than it is good.

GRANT: This is a great time of year to get out and enjoy Creation. Scouting, shed hunting, post-camera surveys and trapping are all activities that you and your family can really enjoy while improving your deer herd and the habitat. I’m sure we’ll have some great Reconyx images to share with you next week and an update on our trapping and how many sheds Ms. Tracy has found. Thanks for watching