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GRANT: This week we’ll share two great buck hunts from Oklahoma Pro Staffers, Daniel Stefanoff and Brandon Pittman.
BRANDON: Right there. There it is.
GRANT: We will also share how GrowingDeer Pro Staffer, Rylan White, punched both of his Missouri buck tags.
GRANT: Several years ago, I traveled to near Tulsa, Oklahoma to help Daniel Stefanoff with a habitat improvement and hunting strategy plan.
GRANT: All right. So, I’m just going to make one hack like that. This one is so springy, it’s hard to do, and you just want one milliliter right in there.
GRANT: Daniel had just gotten into deer hunting when I met him. He had recently purchased just over 100 acres so he could not only enjoy hunting but improving the habitat.
GRANT: What-not. I’m going to go boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, and I just helped that tree make better, you know, better production a lot.
GRANT: Daniel followed the plan, and it improved the property so much he was able to sell it and purchase a larger property.
GRANT: Daniel and I became friends during all the communication back and forth about his habitat plan, and during that process, I asked him to be part of the GrowingDeer Pro Staff.
GRANT: Daniel applied the techniques he learned on his first property to his second property and rapidly made significant improvements. Daniel used the Buffalo System in all of his food plots and used prescribed fire and the other techniques to improve the native habitat.
GRANT: Daniel’s management plan has resulted in high-quality, year around forage and cover.
GRANT: The neighborhood around Daniel’s current property is composed of low-quality hardwoods and fescue pastures. There’s no ag in the area.
GRANT: Daniel’s work to improve the habitat on his property appears to have resulted in the deer spending more time on his property than throughout the rest of their home range.
GRANT: Like us, Daniel has also implemented an intensive trapping program. He’s focused on removing raccoons and opossums – nest predators. And as a result, his turkey population has exploded.
GRANT: Several years ago, we shared an episode where Daniel harvested his first buck.
DANIEL: What a great buck.
GRANT: Daniel’s farm has continued to improve and this summer he had several Reconyx videos and pictures of nice quality bucks.
GRANT: Reviewing the trail camera data got both Daniel and Brandon super excited for Oklahoma’s firearms season, so a couple of weeks before it opened, they headed to the range to make sure their Winchesters were sighted in.
UNKNOWN: Got it.
GRANT: A few days later, Daniel and his new farm manager, Owen, which was a previous GrowingDeer intern, found themselves hunting in a Redneck blind overlooking a plot they call The Bottoms.
DANIEL: (Whispering) This thing was choked out, just sapling, nasty, kind of creek bottom area. I had it mulched, chemically treated all the stumps, and I’ve been putting Buffalo Blend in here for two years. So, it’s really hot.
DANIEL: (Whispering) It’s rifle season though. We’re hoping maybe we can get a buck that’s bedded down here in the cool part of the creek and get him on – get him in our scope and get him down.
GRANT: Daniel and Owen hadn’t been in the blind long when they spotted a young buck cruising the edge of the plot.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Just not what we’re looking for, man.
DANIEL: (Whispering) I think he’s a shooter, don’t you?
OWEN: (Whispering) Yeah. That’s that (Inaudible).
DANIEL: (Whispering) Ready?
DANIEL: (Whispering) Tell me when.
OWEN: (Whispering) Okay.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Ready?
OWEN: (Whispering) Yep.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Oh my, gosh. That is a mature buck on the ground. We did not have those deer here when we got the property. I’m so happy. Oh my, gosh. Oh, he’s a good buck. Oh my, gosh.
DANIEL: (Whispering) If you put in all the work on these farms and you follow just the stuff that Grant says to do and – I mean, we have turned this place in – what four years? We have turned this place into a great, great hunting farm. Golly, I’m so happy. So happy. Now, let’s go get our hands on him, man.
DANIEL: Good size; look at that.
DANIEL: What a great afternoon. There’s nothing like killing a deer on your own farm, especially when you put in all this work. I started hunting late in life.
DANIEL: I’ve only been hunting five years and I love the management side of it. I love seeing these bucks progress. I love keeping track of the body weights, and we’re seeing our does weigh more when we – when we kill them. We’re seeing a ton more does. We saw six deer our first season, and we’ve probably had 20/30 sits so far this year. We’ve seen, you know, no less than six to eight deer every sit, so just fantastic. I love watching that stuff develop. It’s so exciting and so much fun. So, just overall, just a great, great, great start to our season.
GRANT: Pro Staffer Brandon Pittman had helped Daniel with many of the projects and he was hunting on Daniel’s farm also.
GRANT: This fall, Brandon had been trying to tag a buck named Lefteye.
GRANT: Daniel and Brandon begin getting pictures of Lefteye during the summer of 2017. Then on September 15th of 2017, while scouting, Brandon had his first encounter with Lefteye.
GRANT: Unfortunately, Lefteye disappeared from camera and personal observations and wasn’t seen again during that season.
GRANT: During the following year, 2018, they hoped Lefteye would show up, but once again, there was no sign of the buck. Then during the summer of 2019, Lefteye showed back up. They continued getting pictures of Lefteye throughout the fall.
GRANT: During the opening morning of Oklahoma’s firearms season, Brandon and his wife, Brecka, hunted a Redneck overlooking The Bottoms plot.
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GRANT: Young bucks were certainly on their feet, but Brandon and Brecka were looking for a hit lister.
GRANT: The following morning, they went to a blind overlooking a plot called the OK Corral. There was a southeast wind, which meant they could walk to the blind from the north and not alert deer to the east, west, or south. This was the same plot where Brandon had filmed Lefteye while scouting during 2017.
GRANT: At first light, there were deer in the plot feeding on the Eagle Seed Forage Soybeans.
GRANT: They had been watching the does for several minutes when they looked around and spotted a buck.
BRECKA: (Whispering) He’s still there.
BRANDON: (Whispering) That’s him.
GRANT: It was Lefteye.
BRANDON: (Whispering) That’s Lefteye. That’s the deer. Oh my gosh, I hope I hit him good. That’s the deer that I’ve wanted more than any other deer, right there. Oh my, gosh.
GRANT: It was early during the hunt, so Brandon and Brecka decided to wait and see what else showed up. They didn’t have to wait long. And this doe was hammering the soybean pods.
BRANDON: (Whispering) She keeps stopping behind all the tall grass.
BRANDON: (Whispering) That one is perfect. Right there.
BRECKA: (Whispering) Okay.
BRANDON: (Whispering) Yeah.
BRECKA: (Whispering) Yes.
BRANDON: (Whispering) No question about that one.
BRECKA: (Whispering) Nope.
GRANT: Brandon and Brecka couldn’t wait any longer. They got down and headed towards Brecka’s doe.
BRECKA: (Whispering) Oh, that’s a good shot.
GRANT: After celebration, Brandon couldn’t wait to pick up the trail for Lefteye.
BRANDON: Right there.
GRANT: It was an easy trail to follow, and they didn’t have to go far.
BRANDON: Right there. There he is.
BRANDON: Lefteye is down. Oh, man.
BRECKA: Oh, my gosh.
BRANDON: How about that?
BRECKA: Wow, wow.
BRANDON: We’ve had a lot of hit list deer over the year, but to get this one after him disappearing on us for two years and then showing back up. I’ve never wanted one particular deer so bad as this one. Man, I’ve been following him all season trying to put a pattern on him and, oh, to take this deer is awesome. Been rubbing. Not broke up or anything. Oh, man. Look at that.
GRANT: Team Oklahoma’s success didn’t occur overnight. They put years of hard work into improving the habitat and creating a very huntable property. Daniel took a rough piece of property that probably would’ve been considered a lump of coal to many and, through hard work, put the pressure on that property to turn it into a diamond.
GRANT: Father and son duo, Chase and Rylan White have also been hunting a lot this fall. Rylan’s been a successful hunter while using a gun, but last year, he tagged his first deer while using a crossbow.
CHASE: (Whispering) Go for it.
RYLAN: (Whispering) Yeah, we got rid of him.
CHASE: (Whispering) Yeah, you did. Good job, bub.
GRANT: This season, Rylan set a personal goal of tagging a buck with his crossbow. Rylan isn’t one to wait around, and from the opening of season, he was hunting every chance he got.
GRANT: Chase and Rylan hunt about two hours east of The Proving Grounds in the Ozark Mountains, and typically there’s a lot of acorns which can make deer difficult to pattern, especially during the early season. But this year, the deer were hammering Chase’s Eagle Seed beans.
GRANT: A cold front was moving through October 11th, so Chase and Rylan headed to a Redneck blind overlooking one of their food plots. Sure enough, a buck walked out.
CHASE: (Whispering) See it? (Inaudible)
GRANT: Rylan tagged his first buck using his crossbow, and I’m sure that’s the first of many.
GRANT: In Missouri, if you tag a buck with a bow before the firearms season, you have to wait until the firearms season to use your second buck tag. Rylan spent the next few weeks practicing with his Winchester and he had high hopes of tagging another buck.
GRANT: I think that was a heck of a shot. Right by the bullseye. Atta boy.
RYLAN: (Whispering) It’s the first day of youth season here in Missouri. It’s November 2nd. We got a gun. I’m here with my dad, and we’ve sit stand a few – we’ve set this blind a few other times, so we’re going to see what happens.
GRANT: During the opening morning of Missouri’s youth firearms season, Rylan had a neat encounter with a buck.
CHASE: (Whispering) I’ve never seen a collared buck before.
RYLAN: (Whispering) I haven’t either.
GRANT: This wild, free-ranging buck had obviously been captured by the Missouri Department of Conversation and fitted with a GPS collar as part of a large study they’re conducting. Those deer are available for hunters to harvest, but, fortunately for this deer, Rylan was waiting for something a bit bigger.
GRANT: A few weeks later, during the opening morning of Missouri’s firearms season, Chase and Rylan hit the woods again and saw a lot of action.
GRANT: Rylan wasn’t able to punch his tag, but they returned that afternoon.
GRANT: Chase and Rylan set up in the same tree where Chase had tagged a buck with the muzzleloader last year.
GRANT: This location is a flat area used as a travel corridor at the base of a ridge. With an east/southeast wind, Chase and Rylan are able to approach from the west, hug a field edge, and then go to the tree.
GRANT: They didn’t have to wait long.
CHASE: (Whispering) Whenever you’re ready.
CHASE: (Whispering) Shoot her.
CHASE: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: Great shot, Rylan.
GRANT: As the sun set behind the mountain, a pack of coyotes lit off just behind their stand.
GRANT: As Chase was filming the coyotes, he heard leaves crunching. They turned around and spotted a buck coming down the hill.
CHASE: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Go ahead.
CHASE: (Quietly) Boom.
RYLAN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
CHASE: (Whispering) Oh, yeah, you busted him. You just killed a mounter, buddy.
RYLAN: (Whispering) Yeah, you’ll put him on the wall?
CHASE: (Whispering) Yeah.
RYLAN: (Whispering) Sweet.
CHASE: (Whispering) Good job.
GRANT: A buck and a doe during one hunt. Congratulations, Rylan, on a great hunt.
RYLAN: And I shot a doe too. I didn’t make a great shot on her, so we might have to check her.
CHASE: Tell her the (Inaudible).
RYLAN: But we can see the buck.
GRANT: I’m very proud of Rylan for setting a goal, tagging a buck with his crossbow, and tagging another with his Winchester.
RYLAN: I just shot my first big buck. We’re gonna go look at him.
CHASE: Not bad. Not bad. What do you think?
RYLAN: I like it.
CHASE: What an amazing night. My ten-year-old son, Rylan, killed his biggest buck to date. He is tagged out. Killed one with his bow on our hunting lease, and this is on one of the neighbor’s property. He’s gracious enough to let us hunt for several years now. And it’s kind of a pretty awesome deal here because he just shot a doe before, and here in a few weeks he’s got a major surgery coming up, and he’s going to be in a wheelchair for a few months, so I think we’re having some fun before you do. What do you think?
CHASE: This is pretty awesome, so we couldn’t be more excited for him. I’m proud of him. It was a good buck. Congratulations.
RYLAN: Thank you.
GRANT: You may have heard Chase mention that Rylan is going to be in a wheelchair for a while. Rylan just had major surgery. Rylan had been diagnosed with femoral anteversion, commonly known as pigeon-toeing. It was an extreme case, and it caused Rylan a lot of pain when he did any form of exercise. I’m happy to share the praise that Rylan’s surgery went extremely well. He’s going to be in a wheelchair for four weeks or so and then start physical therapy to learn to walk again.
GRANT: I ask you to join the entire GrowingDeer Team and pray for Rylan’s complete recovery. If you’d like to send Rylan a comment, you can make it on our YouTube channel or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be sure he gets it.
RYLAN: Thank you guys for all your support. I’ll be back soon.
GRANT: You can bet Rylan’s eager to get back in the woods, and it won’t surprise me a bit to share a hunt with you this spring of Rylan tagging a big, old, Ozark Mountain tom.
GRANT: If you know someone that would enjoy the hunting and habitat management strategies we share, please encourage them to subscribe to GrowingDeer.com.
GRANT: Each of us have so much to be thankful for, including being able to enjoy Creation, but most importantly, I hope each of us takes time every day to slow down, be quiet, and listen to what the Creator is saying.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.