End Of An Era For Hit List Bucks (Episode 168 Transcript)

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

GRANT: Thursday, January 31st. It’s the end of trapping season and the end of an era for a couple of our Hit List Bucks.

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TRACY: (With dog) Where is it?

GRANT: Past couple days, I’ve been in Minnesota, but while I was gone, I received two phone calls that I won’t forget soon.

GRANT: The first phone call was from Ms. Tracy, my wife. Now everyone knows Tracy loves to shed hunt with her dog, Crystal and I knew that this year she’d be finding about as many skulls as she did sheds due to the large outbreak of EHD in this area. Adam, Brian and AJ stopped what they were doing and went to the valley Ms. Tracy were hunting sheds in and soon reported to me that Ms. Tracy had found Bean Flipper.

ADAM: Bean Flipper

BRIAN: Bean Flipper

TRACY: Is that who that is?


TRACY: Ahhh…

BRIAN: Not exactly the way you want to put your hands on Bean Flipper, is it?

ADAM: No. Not at all.

TRACY: That’s sad.

BRIAN: Want that as a treat. You want that?

ADAM: At least we found him.


ADAM: Wow. He was a dandy.

BRIAN: Congratulations on the find.

ADAM: Phenomenal growth from last year though. We found a shed, I think we found a shed, yeah. Grant found a shed…

GRANT: Bean Flipper’s been a buck of interest for us for a couple of years. This is his shed from last year when he was a two and a half year old and this is his skull this year as a three and a half year old. And this is a perfect example of why I advocate or encourage people to pass up immature bucks. This was a buck we were passing up this year even as a three and a half, because we knew there’s another large jump between three and four and a half.

TRACY: So, I really wasn’t looking forward to finding him like this. Uh, was hoping to find another year shed so we could add to the, to the basket and kind of calculate his growth. But, we’ll clean him up and put him on the wall and then enjoy the history that we have with Bean Flipper.

GRANT: Bean Flipper had an extremely large basal circumference for a three year old and if I was basing it only on that, I would have guessed this deer to be much older. Bases being even larger than the eye socket, let alone the eye that we see with skin folded over it. There’s just a tad of velvet still stuck on here but the real telltale sign that he died really close to full antler development, but with velvet on, is that when you grab these bases, they almost cut your hand. Clearly, this has not been rubbed at all. All these little gnarls or bumps down here by the antler base, are so sharp, it literally hurts my hand when I hold it. Just a little bit after velvet. He would have been rubbing on this and would have dulled those little bumps.

GRANT: So, I’m up in Minnesota and I’m looking at the cell phone pictures of Bean Flipper and feeling a little sad about that when I get another call from my neighbor Cliff Fitzwater.

GRANT: And I knew we shared a buck called Pitchfork. Pitchfork would typically spend the summers on Cliff’s property and, fortunately, the hunting season on our property. When I saw Cliff’s call, I was more than happy to take that phone call. I wasn’t quite as happy when I barely got into Cliff’s message that he had found Pitchfork’s skull. And he hunts the land across the road from me on the north side and he and his family have been passing up younger bucks and have got a couple of food plots going and a couple of Trophy Rocks out and they’ve joined us in kind of a cooperative, unofficial but cooperative, effort to allow deer to express more of their potential. It was obvious that Pitchfork died during the velvet season. His antlers and skull were so light, compared to even Bean Flipper, there was a tremendous difference. Clearly those antlers weren’t fully calcified yet. They were still porous and the blood was flowing through there depositing calcium. I’m going to assume Pitchfork probably died sometime in July or very early August.

GRANT: There’s a lot of water coming out of there.

CLIFF: Well, you want to go on down and see where…where….

GRANT: Yeah, let’s go, let’s go see the recovery site.

BOBBY: This is where he was right here. Right against this tree. You had him most of the hunting seasons it seems like. We just, we just kept him fed all summer for you.

GRANT: Good. Good. That’s a good program. We like that program. (Laughter)

CLIFF: It’s usually the other way around.

GRANT: Yeah. Yeah. Well, so you measured this side as is. Not adding any inches for (inaudible) off and we had, we had; what’d you have on this?

BOBBY: 60 and some change. You know….

GRANT: 60 and a little change. Just on this side. But six inch plus base right here. And you can tell. Usually I can get my fingers around the base of an antler and I can’t this one, so. And I’ve never seen this deer in daylight. That’s a mature deer. And, and intentionally trying. I mean…

CLIFF: Right.

GRANT: …setting on a power line just with binoculars. Watching a distance to see if I could figure out where he’s crossing, whatever.

CLIFF: Right.

GRANT: …and never, uh, could get a pattern on him.

CLIFF: Bobby and I – we came in here with our daughters looking specifically for this deer. Ironically saw a little gray squirrel I was chasing and when I got to the, the hillside just across, I saw these antlers shining. So, uh, a little sad, but that’s what we came out here to find.

GRANT: Yeah. It fit very well that Pitchfork probably died from EHD, given he was found so close to that beautiful spring. But Pitchfork was relatively old for a whitetail deer and he also had a clear brain abscess. Odd growth and indentation here that is not over here. These are not natural and that is the brain abscess area right there.

GRANT: Anytime the skull case is punctured due to fighting or a piece of barbed wire or anything like that and allows bacteria to get inside the brain case, there’s a possibility for a brain abscess.

CLIFF: Long history with this deer.

GRANT: Long history. A legend is, a legend of the neighborhood is actually gone, but you know, there’s more coming on. That’s the great thing about a renewable resource or deer hunting is, uh, if you do attempt to harvest mature deer and you limit your harvest to more or less mature deer, you know you’ve always got more coming on to fill that slot. But you know, one of the bigger things out of this all is, is working together. And forming what I call co-ops. Deer management co-ops because we share deer. So, if I’m over there across the road shooting everything that moves or baiting during season or doing whatever, I’m hurting Cliff or vice versa, but when neighbors can work together, just like farming co-ops, there should be deer management co-ops and when neighbors work together, we can all benefit and have better hunting.

GRANT: I’m very thankful that Mr. Fitzwater shared that so we know where Pitchfork ended up and I don’t have to be out there scouting and trying to figure out his pattern next year. And it also gave us a chance to visit about food plots and how we could work together and continue to expand this deer management program throughout our neighborhood.

GRANT: And I consider this an open invitation for any of my other neighbors or people in the Ozarks that want to learn more about deer management to get a hold of me and let’s meet and talk and I’ll be glad to share in our Field Days and other events how we manage deer so they can express most of their potential right here in the very poor habitat of the Ozark mountains.

GRANT: With trapping season over and shed hunting in full swing, we’re certainly busy here at The Proving Grounds and getting a lot of opportunities to be outside and enjoying Creation. And during that time, I personally always take some moments and be quiet and let the Creator talk to me. I hope you do the same. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.

BOBBY: (Inaudible) and 8” tine broke off (inaudible).

KAYTLIN: That looks (inaudible).

BOBBY: Look at the face. (Talking fades out)