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GRANT: Recently, I shared we were invited to hunt in Kentucky during that state’s opening weekend of firearms season.
GRANT: While hunting with my good friend, Mr. Terry Hamby, I tagged a good buck.
TERRY: That’s a really nice deer.
GRANT: I am – look at that – I mean, you know, through my hand, again. Look at that forehead.
GRANT: It’s as big as my hand.
TERRY: Yeah. He looks old.
GRANT: Yeah, I’m happy. I mean, I’m happy. It’s the experience.
TYLER: He’s got a lot of character.
TERRY: He does. He’s a cool deer.
GRANT: Man, yeah.
TERRY: Looks where he’s been rubbing.
TYLER: Oh, yeah.
GRANT: We got three does and a buck this morning.
GRANT: Eight does and a buck total so I…
TERRY: That’s good.
GRANT: …I’m helping. I did my part helping on the farm, so.
TERRY: You did your part. You did your part.
GRANT: You got him?
TYLER: (Whispering) Yep.
TERRY: It’s kind of fitting that you kill one here because I can remember when you and I came down through here in a four-wheeler…
GRANT: Oh, yeah, you couldn’t hardly get in here.
TERRY: …weaving our way through all these pines.
GRANT: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
TERRY: And you marked it out with…
GRANT: With flags, with blue flags.
TERRY: …with flags, with blue flags and then we clear cut it and then we pulled the stumps out…
TERRY: …with a track hoe.
GRANT: So, it was an awesome morning.
GRANT: Daniel was also hunting at Mr. Hamby’s property that weekend and he was trying out the Winchester 350 Legend.
DANIEL: (Whispering) It’s the morning of November 9th, and it’s cold. It’s about 25 degrees. Opening day here in Kentucky of firearms season. And I’ve got the 350 Legend with me in this Redneck, so the Fall Buffalo Blend is frosted over out in front of me. It’s just a beautiful morning trying to remove a bunch of mouths out of this food plot. This is actually the same food plot Grant and Clay hunted during the early season.
DANIEL: (Whispering) There were a lot of deer coming to this food plot and so it’s been browsed heavily. In fact, when they filmed here there were really good beans and they’ve just stripped the beans and now it’s just Fall Buffalo Blend.
DANIEL: (Whispering) This property owner, Mr. Hamby, has done a lot of habitat work here. There’s a bedding area just out in front of me – butts right up next to the food plot.
DANIEL: (Whispering) If a mature buck comes in, I’ll be throwing the 350 at him, but I’m really targeting does because we need to remove a lot of mouths from this area.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Well, this morning I’ve got the Montanas out. We’ve got Estrus Betty with the Freshman Buck. I’ve got them about 50 yards in front of me. Estrus Betty pointing back towards the bedding area and the buck back behind her.
GRANT: During the pre-rut, rut, or even late season, you’ve probably seen a doe come out in front of your hunting area and squat to urinate, and almost every buck in the field will come check that out. If it seems deer aren’t closing a distance to your setup, put some Montana Decoys out and see if you can’t bring ‘em in and put some venison in your freezer.
GRANT: Deer almost always approach decoys from the downwind side, so wisely before the hunt Daniel placed the decoys in a Scent Crusher bag and took care of any odors.
GRANT: It was early during Daniel’s hunt when a doe approached the plot from behind the blind where Daniel was hunting and locked on the decoys.
GRANT: The doe moved downwind of the decoys and began walking parallel to them, offering Daniel a broadside shot.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Well, it worked perfectly. Doe number one is down. Decoys worked perfectly. She came in kind of behind me, slipped into the trees, and then tried to circle downwind of ‘em, and came parallel to ‘em, and offered me a great broadside shot. And I don’t know maybe 70 yards, 80 yards.
DANIEL: Well, it’s just been a beautiful morning here in Kentucky. We had frost this morning, and it was cool temperatures, and deer were moving like crazy.
DANIEL: This doe presented me a great shot. Had the Estrus Betty and the Freshman Montana decoys out, and she locked on the decoys, and came circling around right around ‘em. And she didn’t go, but 60 yards. The 350 Legend put it right behind the shoulder and it came out right in front of the offside shoulder, just the way she was quartering. And I suspect this won’t be the only doe that goes down this weekend here in Kentucky.
GRANT: Daniel’s strategy worked perfectly, and he tagged the first doe during that hunt.
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GRANT: That afternoon Daniel headed to a different location, a small food plot with bedding all around.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Grant, Tyler, and I have all come down to try to help our good friend, Mr. Terry Hamby, remove several does from his property. We’re on our toes. It’s that time of year where anything could happen, and it’s going to happen fast. Saw a lot of cruising and chasing this morning. Grant saw several nice bucks and I’m self-filming out of the Redneck this afternoon.
DANIEL: (Whispering) I’m gonna load up the 350 Legend and we’re gonna get to work and, hopefully, a couple of does come out to feed this afternoon.
GRANT: He wasn’t in the blind long before the first head popped up over the hill.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Well, that happened fast. She’s down in the plot. That’s a great attraction for a mature buck to come in, scent checking this food plot, and to have a doe down in the plot. Man, you know, it happened fast. I’m following through, but I think when I looked through the scope as I was following through, it looked like that 350 hit her in the shoulder and she just – I don’t – just reared up and fell backward. It did a number on her; it looked like. Whew!
GRANT: Having the doe down in the plot could be a great attractant to other deer.
GRANT: Suddenly, another doe ran into the plot.
GRANT: The second doe saw the first doe lying there, hit the brakes, and offered Daniel a clean shot.
GRANT: Now, there were two does in the plot, and this buck didn’t want to leave.
GRANT: He tried to roll one of the does over with his antlers. Talk about an attractant. We’ve seen this time and time again.
GRANT: As Daniel was watching this buck, another doe stepped out.
GRANT: Even after the shot and the doe running out of view, the buck stayed locked on the two does Daniel dropped in the plot.
GRANT: Daniel did a great job helping Mr. Hamby towards his doe harvest goals and provided lots of quality venison to some folks in the area that needed a bit of help.
GRANT: A few days after we returned from Kentucky, Missouri’s firearms season opened.
GRANT: Daniel and Tyler hunted together during the first few days of Missouri’s season, but deer sightings were few and far between.
GRANT: During the morning of November 18th, Daniel and Tyler decided to go to a Redneck blind that’s in the center of a long plot we call Big Boom. There was a south wind, and Daniel thought he might see a buck cruising the ridgetop, scent checking a small bedding area to the south.
GRANT: There was a beautiful sunrise, and when the sun got high enough, the frost on the blind began to melt.
GRANT: Mid-morning Daniel spotted movement at the far west end of the plot.
GRANT: Daniel didn’t have the necessary small game permit to harvest a coyote, but Tyler did so he quickly grabbed the Winchester.
TYLER: (Whispering) Yep, there he comes. Right side.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Yep. Hold on, hold on.
TYLER: (Whispering) Right side of the food plot.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Yeah.
TYLER: (Whispering) Right side.
DANIEL: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Hold on. Okay. (Inaudible)
DANIEL: (Whispering) Hold on, hold on.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Okay, stop him.
GRANT: That’s the first coyote down this season at The Proving Grounds, and we’re one step closer to balancing predator and prey populations here at The Proving Grounds as we enter the trapping season.
GRANT: It’s important to note what this coyote was doing, and it’s a great lesson for hunters. This coyote was likely doing what Daniel hoped a buck would do. He was running the ridgetop, cutting that south wind, scent checking for a meal where a buck would be scent checking for a receptive doe.
GRANT: For a critter, this is the best technique to cover a lot of ground. They get on the downwind side of an area they believe their target will be – bedding area, cover for small game – cruise through there using their nose to find that target and then move in and get closer.
GRANT: Whether you’re hunting deer, elk, coyotes, or hogs, understanding the wind and how it acts in different topographies and habitats is critical to being successful.
GRANT: That afternoon, Daniel and Tyler decided to use the same strategy at a different location. They were going to move to the Big Cave food plot.
GRANT: This plot is on top of a long ridge, and it was planted earlier this fall with Eagle Seeds Fall Buffalo Blend. On the south side of this ridge is a large bedding area.
GRANT: Last summer we used prescribed fire once again in this bedding area. Repeated use of fire reduces ticks, controls hardwood saplings, and encourages native grasses and forbs to thrive.
GRANT: A few weeks before Daniel’s hunt, I hunted another food plot on the same ridge we call Little Cave, and I was able to take a doe and see several other deer.
GRANT: With a southwest wind forecasted, Daniel and Tyler decided to hunt from a pair of Summit stands hung in the southeast corner of the Big Cave plot. Daniel’s strategy was based on knowing there were a lot of does in the area; they’d likely be feeding in the plot; and therefore a buck would likely scent check that area trying to find a receptive doe.
GRANT: With much excitement, Daniel and Tyler got settled in the Summits and waited to see what would happen.
GRANT: (Whispering) It’s – just trying to settle in – oh, there’s a deer right – coming – a good buck in front of us. A buck behind a doe.
CLAY: (Whispering) Just behind the trees.
GRANT: (Whispering) He’s going to come out over here.
CLAY: (Whispering) Here he comes through the ditch.
GRANT: (Whispering) Do you see him?
CLAY: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: (Whispering) He’s in the ditch.
CLAY: (Whispering) Yeah, he’s just standing there. Just wait he’s going to…
GRANT: (Whispering) I, I see him. Let’s just let him stop.
CLAY: (Whispering) Tell me before you shoot.
GRANT: (Whispering) Okay.
CLAY: (Whispering) Okay, whenever you’re ready.
CLAY: Good shot. Buck down.
GRANT: (Whispering) Oh, hold on. Let’s get this doe. Let’s get this doe up here.
CLAY: (Whispering) Where’s she at?
GRANT: (Whispering) You ready?
CLAY: (Whispering) Yeah.
CLAY: How about that?
GRANT: Holy mackerel. Those deer both just fell like a bag of concrete being dropped off the back of a truck. You know, calibers are a very personal choice, but if you don’t like recoil, you don’t have to shoot that big magnum, especially for whitetails. Something like a .308 or 6.5 will do just fine.
DANIEL: (Whispering) I wonder who it is. Clay didn’t say. He just said buck and doe down.
TYLER: (Whispering) There’s a lot of possibilities as to who it can be.
DANIEL: (Whispering) That’s great. The shots were just pooh. And we go, “We think that’s Grant.” About three minutes later, pooh.
GRANT: Even with great plans, not all hunts start off with a boom, and they sat there awhile enjoying a beautiful sunset, but didn’t see any deer.
GRANT: Just as shooting light was starting to fade, Daniel saw antlers coming over the ridge.
TYLER: (Whispering) Big, tall, tight eight. Big, tall, tight eight.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Yeah.
TYLER: (Whispering) He’s looking right at you. Stop.
DANIEL: (Whispering) You got good footage and good light?
TYLER: (Whispering) Yeah. He’s looking right at you, like locked on.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Okay. Do you have enough light?
TYLER: (Whispering) Yeah.
TYLER: (Whispering) He’s not looking.
DANIEL: (Whispering) You on him?
TYLER: (Whispering) I’m on him, yeah. I’m on eight shutter speed.
DANIEL: (Whispering) But good footage?
TYLER: (Whispering) Yeah, it’s okay.
TYLER: (Whispering) Tell me before you shoot.
DANIEL: (Whispering) That shadow did – you on him?
DANIEL: (Whispering) Holy cow.
TYLER: (Whispering) Yeah, baby. Yes. Yes. Real tall, tight, with big shoulders. I don’t know who he is.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Holy cow. Oh, my word. That happened quick and last light. Good buck.
DANIEL: (Quietly) I looked over, and I could see – I saw his head come up over the hill. I couldn’t tell who he was, but he had big shoulders and good antlers. He was a good deer.
TYLER: (Whispering) We don’t know him.
DANIEL: (Quietly) I don’t know – I don’t know that deer or I couldn’t tell, but I wasn’t really focused on the antlers. I saw he had good shoulders on him. He was a big-bodied deer. It’s a good night. Grant shot a buck, I don’t know, 30 minutes ago, and got the text that he had a buck down. Oh my word, I am shaking.
TYLER: I know.
GRANT: It’s not like Daniel to be so mysterious here. I’m still waiting to see what we’re gonna find.
DANIEL: There’s blood.
GRANT: Oh yeah, oh yeah.
DANIEL: I mean.
TYLER: You lead the way.
GRANT: Yeah, make a trail.
DANIEL: All right. Here we go.
GRANT: Make a trail, Daniel.
DANIEL: Yep, right there. See his eyes, white belly?
GRANT: Oh yeah, oh yeah.
DANIEL: And even – when he was all the way across the field, I could just see it was just gray on his neck, and I was like, oh my, that’s cool.
GRANT: Oh yeah. Nice deer, Daniel. Congratulations, man.
DANIEL: Thank you. Thank you so much.
GRANT: Man, what a nice deer. Look at the chest on that thing.
DANIEL: Oh, man, yeah. Check out this. Check out what he’s got on his…
GRANT: Is that cool or what? What a fabulous buck. Holy cow.
DANIEL: I have never seen this deer.
GRANT: Yeah, you’d know that deer. We’d all know that deer. Check that neck out. Look at that bruiser.
DANIEL: Just gray all the way down.
DANIEL: I could see that.
GRANT: Look at that bruiser. Man, Daniel. I am so proud of you.
DANIEL: Thank you, Grant. Thank you very much.
GRANT: Man. Man.
DANIEL: Big bases.
GRANT: Oh, yeah, yeah, character.
DANIEL: And I just love that. When I…
DANIEL: …lifted him up, and I saw that I was like, “Oh my word.”
TYLER: Yeah, I said we were about to come to you guys.
DANIEL: Oh my word.
GRANT: I about spoiled your hunt is what you’re saying.
GRANT: At least you wouldn’t have known it and been mad at me.
DANIEL: I went, did I text you, Clay?
DANIEL: I said, “Do we need to come down and help you guys?” And I think we had like 20-30 minutes of light. You said, “No, we’re getting down. I think we’re good.” I’m glad you didn’t need our help. (Laughter)
GRANT: All right. Hey, let’s get that rascal out of here.
DANIEL: All right.
GRANT: And I’ll tell you, I’ve already drugged the doe, so it’s not my turn right now.
GRANT: Daniel tagged a good buck we had no history with, and such bucks are usually called bonus bucks.
GRANT: During the rut, bucks often use portions of their home range they rarely use during the rest of the year. How far bucks travel during the rut is often influenced by habitat, hunting pressure and many other factors. And an additional factor is each buck is a unique individual and some bucks travel much more than others.
GRANT: Daniel’s strategy obviously worked and it provided the GrowingDeer Team with lots of fresh venison and another mount for Daniel’s wall.
GRANT: It’s the time of year we celebrate New Year’s, and many folks make decisions to do something more or better than they did during the previous year. I hope you decide to get outside and enjoy Creation, but, most importantly, make a commitment to slow down every day, be quiet, and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.
GRANT: If you enjoyed hunting strategies we share at GrowingDeer, I hope you will consider sharing the GrowingDeer link with your friends that hunt.