First Hunts Of The Season: Strategies And Threading The Needle (Episode 513 Transcript)

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

GRANT: Kentucky’s archery season opens during early September. Clay and I were excited to pack our gear and rode to Kentucky to hunt with our good friend, Mr. Terry Hamby.

GRANT: We’ve shared a lot of hunts on GrowingDeer from Terry’s property throughout the years.

GRANT: Once we arrived at Terry’s, I got my bow unpacked and I was eager to head out and fling a couple of arrows at a Morell Target to make sure the sight hadn’t shifted during travel.

GRANT: The Bloodsports were hitting the mark and I was ready to hunt that afternoon.

GRANT: Mr. Hamby shared some Reconyx photos with us that showed several deer using one of his Eagle Seed Forage Soybean plots.

GRANT: Included in these deer were some nice bucks. Based on Mr. Hamby’s observations and the Reconyx images, we decided to hunt from a ghillie blind located near the northwest corner of the plot.

TERRY: We put the ghillie blind right there in the edge of these pines.

GRANT: Are they coming out this side of the blind or that side of the blind?

TERRY: They’re coming out this side of the blind.

GRANT: The trail camera was located in the southern end of the plot. But I wanted to watch the plot once and try to learn exactly how deer were entering and exiting the plot before moving in for a closer shot. If time permits, it’s often best to set up a ways from where deer are feeding in the plot. This allows you to see exactly where they’re entering the plot and plan how to move in closer for a shot.

GRANT: It’s risky to move in to fresh sign or to where you have images of showing deer in the middle of a plot. If you don’t know where deer are entering from, you can move in too close, be on the wrong side of the wind and alert the deer before you have an opportunity to tag one.

GRANT: This plot had recently been drilled with Eagle Seeds Fall Buffalo Blend and, just like here, many a bean stood back up after being drilled through and were still providing excellent forage.

GRANT: We believed deer were entering from the eastern side of the plot and there was a southeast wind that afternoon. So we walked down the western side of the plot to approach the blind.

GRANT: (Whispering) It’s the afternoon of September 8th and it’s my first whitetail hunt of this season. I’m super excited. We’re in Kentucky hunting with my good friend, Mr. Terry Hamby.

GRANT: (Whispering) Several years ago I was with Mr. Hamby when he looked at this farm. He later decided to purchase it and we laid out a big wildlife habitat improvement plan.

GRANT: (Whispering) He’s spent several years really working on that plan and even doing more and it’s awesome. He’s got some great bucks, lots of does, plenty of turkeys. I’ve had many, many good hunts here. Let’s see if we can’t start off the season with tagging a buck.

GRANT: It wasn’t long; the deer entered the plot and started feeding on the beans.

GRANT: (Whispering) Here comes another one. Young deer. Here comes another one. Dang. I lost count. That’s got to be five or six right there.

GRANT: As the sun went behind the pines, deer started pouring into the plot including some good-looking bucks.

GRANT: (Whispering) I can see 23 deer.

GRANT: The deer fed until dark in the southern end of the plot, but it wasn’t a wasted hunt. We now had a great plan of where deer were coming from and how they behaved once they got in the plot.

GRANT: Deer continued feeding in the plot even after dark. Mr. Hamby volunteered to come driving to the plot and alert the deer, spooking them out of the plot. That way we could get out of the blind without deer associating the blind with danger.

GRANT: Clay and I planned on hunting near this plot for several days and it was critical a vehicle alert them rather than two hunters walking through the plot.

GRANT: The weather forecast called for the wind to continue to be out of the southeast. So Clay and I knew we’d slide in the next day around noon and hang some stands in the southwest corner, putting us much closer to where the deer were feeding.

GRANT: Once the Summits were in place, we returned to the lodge, showered up – because it was hot hanging stands – and then got ready to return to the same plot.

GRANT: We had just settled into the stands when the first deer stepped out straight across. It was working just as we planned.

GRANT: (Whispering) During the early season when it’s really hot like this, oftentimes the wind swirls. It will get in the shade and cool off, go out in the sun and warm up. Kind of creates a little swirly effect, so we need excellent scent control.

GRANT: Not long after, a group of does entered the plot from the northeast and we had to wonder, “Would the bucks follow the same pattern they were on the night before or shift up to the northeast like those does?”

GRANT: (Whispering) That’s a good buck.

CLAY: (Whispering) Yeah.

GRANT: (Whispering) Really good buck.

GRANT: It wasn’t long until our question was answered.

GRANT: (Whispering) Man, look at those shoulders.

GRANT: Watching these deer, you may notice there is two different coat colors. Some appear reddish and the others are dark gray. The coat colors are not due to a genetic difference and they don’t have mange. During this time of year some deer are still wearing their summer coat. It’s light red built to reflect the sun, reflect heat. And other deer have already shed or molted into their winter coat which is much darker gray.

GRANT: The hair of the winter coats will continue growing throughout the winter and get very long. Deer can piloerect or stand that hair up to trap air, almost like a down coat keeping them warmer. And on warmer days, lay the hair down slick so it’s not holding air in an effort to stay cooler.

GRANT: Unfortunately, the bucks drifted to the north and never walked within range. This often happens when hunting larger food plots or ag fields. It’s tough to pinpoint where deer will enter, feed and exit.

GRANT: This is why I prefer to find a bottleneck 100 yards or so off the food plot. That way you kind of know where deer are passing through, even if they spread out and enter the plot at different areas.

GRANT: But in this case, we were only a couple of hundred yards from a neighboring property. I didn’t know the land between the plot and that boundary very well and I didn’t want to walk all over and risk spooking the deer out of the area.

GRANT: Many of the deer tended to feed along the eastern side of the plot. Studying an onX map of the area, it looked like there were some north-facing slopes within a few hundred yards of that edge of the plot. And I assumed deer were bedded during the day on those north-facing slopes in an effort to remain cool.

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GRANT: The following day the wind shifted from southeast to southwest. So midday Clay and I slipped in once again and hung another set on the eastern side.

GRANT: After another sweat bath while hanging the stands, we returned to the lodge, cleaned up again and headed back out for another hunt.

CLAY: (Whispering) There’s the old setup. There’s the new one.

GRANT: We picked the tree based on our observations and the lay of the land. It was hot that week – temperatures in the low to mid-90s. Deer can’t adjust the thermostat like we do when we’re back at the lodge. So they have to find a place to cool or warm up based on the conditions. And in this case, I was very confident they were bedding on a north-facing slope.

GRANT: North slopes remain cooler as they get a bit less sun throughout the day and have more moisture.

GRANT: (Whispering) When you’re on a travel hunt, you don’t have the most recent information. I’ll oftentimes start off in a conservative situation like we did up there in that ground blind and keep working in. This time of year mature bucks tend to be on a pattern.

GRANT: (Whispering) These bucks are still in velvet – at least they were as of yesterday afternoon. So bed/feed, bed/feed. There’s a bowl right over the ridge here; it should be cooler in that bowl the way it’s oriented. We think they’re bedding there. I don’t dare walk in there hitting the top of the ridge coming right around us. So, we’re literally skirting the needle. Our wind is going like this.

GRANT: (Whispering) They’re maybe 100 yards so we don’t want much wind variation. We’re just skirting the needle, but I think we’ve got this plan figured out.

GRANT: If the forecast had called for the wind to be straight out of the west, this probably wouldn’t be a good setup. Straight out of the west would probably push our scent directly to the deer.

GRANT: We were counting on a crosswind or threading the needle. And I often like to set up on a crosswind. That way the deer feel relatively comfortable because they’re getting a whiff of what’s out there. They’re just not picking up our scent because our scent stream is just off the edge of where they’re traveling.

GRANT: Several does and young bucks came out to our south and started feeding toward the stand.

GRANT: Based on our past observations and this group of deer, I felt we were in the game.

GRANT: Then we spotted the bucks. But unfortunately, they were to the north of us.

GRANT: They stayed in the north end of the plot until dark and we never had a shot opportunity.

GRANT: Even though I didn’t punch a tag, there were several great lessons we can share from this hunt.

GRANT: First, I believe a key element of seeing mature bucks feeding in a plot afternoon, afternoon while we’re hunting that same plot was making sure we did not alert those deer.

GRANT: Now we can pick our stand location based on the wind, but you still have to get down and leave the plot. And that almost always blows any deer in the plot out of the area.

GRANT: But in this case, Mr. Hamby was gracious enough to come pick us up, pull to the edge of the plot, and shine his lights out there, push the deer on out. Then, we could get down without alerting deer.

GRANT: Using this technique the deer did not associate the area with danger from a hunter. And they see vehicles come and go all the time. They ease out, let the vehicle clear the area and probably return to feeding in that plot.

GRANT: Second, using multiple blind and stand locations allowed us to continue hunting the plot even though the wind shifted almost around the compass.

GRANT: When hunting a new property, there’s often an advantage to not setting up exactly where the trail camera pictures are showing deer feeding.

GRANT: Unless you know where deer are entering the plot, you’re liable to set up in an area that would spook the deer before they ever made it to shot distance.

GRANT: During the early season deer are often still on a food/cover, food/cover pattern. And if you can identify where they’re feeding, you have a great chance of seeing deer.

GRANT: We had multiple encounters of does and bucks at this plot.

GRANT: We didn’t punch a tag, but I’m confident the deer are still feeding there. And when Mr. Hamby has a chance in the next few days, I bet he can return to that plot, based on the information we gathered, and wrap his tag on one of those bucks.

GRANT: Hopefully, I’ll tag in Missouri here during the next few weeks and be able to return to Kentucky and hunt again with my good friend, Mr. Hamby.

GRANT: In addition to preparing for hunting season, I’ve been busy speaking at several events. Recently, I spoke at Mt. Carmel, Illinois; Marble Hill, Missouri; and Berryville, Arkansas. I really enjoyed visiting with fellow hunters at each of these events.

GRANT: September 26th I’ll be speaking at Syracuse, New York and September 28th, Daniel will be speaking at Columbia, Missouri. If you live near one of these locations, check out the screen for more details.

GRANT: While Daniel and I are traveling speaking, Clay, Tyler and the guys will be here at The Proving Grounds trying to tag a Missouri buck.

GRANT: If you have a friend that you believe would enjoy the hunting tips we share at GrowingDeer, please encourage them to subscribe to our newsletter.

GRANT: I hope you have a chance to get outside and either scout, hunt, or simply enjoy Creation. But more importantly, I hope you take time every day to slow down, be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.

GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.