His Best Turkey Hunt in 32 Years | Better Food Plots (Episode 441 Transcript)
This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: There’s one thing that we all have in common. We all have, or had, a mom. Some of us, maybe, lost a mom. But this year, join the GrowingDeer Team and celebrate Mother’s Day. Find that special person that helps take care of you; that loves you; that prays for you and do something special for them. This year, appreciate someone on Mother’s Day.
GRANT: This year during the opening week of Missouri’s turkey season, Daniel and I had a great time hunting and actually tagging a couple of Ozark Mountain toms.
GRANT: As we rolled into the second week, my good friend, Scott Reynolds, came to The Proving Grounds to join us for a turkey hunt.
SCOTT: That was, that was the most exciting hunt I’ve ever been on…
GRANT: It’s hard to imagine, but Scott and I met decades ago when we were both programmers for Southwestern Bell – computer programmers. We wrote code in the COBOL computer language. And when we met – and from then on for 32 years – we’ve been turkey hunting every spring together.
GRANT: Sometimes just for a day or a couple of hours due to schedules or sickness. But every year, we’ve kept our record and we’re always happy as long as we get to get together and enjoy Creation.
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GRANT: The afternoon before Scott arrived, I checked the trail camera at a food plot we call Prickly Pear. I’d tagged a tom there the previous week and was pleasantly surprised that toms were still hanging in the area.
GRANT: With this MRI – most recent information – it was an easy decision of where to take Scott the next morning.
GRANT: Once we got settled in, and not long after sunrise, we heard two toms just to the south. It was a start of a great day.
GRANT: (Whispering) There’s two.
SCOTT: (Whispering) Yup.
SCOTT: (Whispering) Well, today is Monday, April 23rd, the first day of the second week of Missouri season. Got Grant right behind me. He’s done some most recent information. There’s been some turkeys working this field for the last two or three days.
SCOTT: (Whispering) Just came off of a rainy Monday here in Missouri. Drove through rain all day yesterday coming from southeast Missouri. And we’ve been hunting 30…
GRANT: (Whispering) Two years.
SCOTT: (Whispering) …32 years together. Sometimes just, maybe, just a few hours, but – because of work schedules and what-not – but always a blessing to come down and, and see my friend and get out and enjoy Creation.
SCOTT: (Whispering) And we’ve been here and (Inaudible) couple gobble right now. One’s probably 100, 150 yards from us right now. So, we’ll see what happens.
GRANT: It seemed like the toms got quiet once they hit the ground, but it wasn’t long until we spotted a hen entering the food plot.
GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: It wasn’t long ‘til two toms followed the hen.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) Strutting right now, isn’t it?
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) Yeah. And there’s one back behind him.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) Yeah, I see it. (Inaudible)
GRANT: These toms put on a show. One was obviously dominate – strutted a lot, gobbled a lot. The other one kind of hung on the periphery just a bit.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) They’re still too far left.
GRANT: They were putting on a show, but they were hung up at 100 plus yards from the blind.
GRANT: Even with a decoy, sometimes it can be tough to call a tom away from a hen.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: During Missouri’s turkey season, it closes daily at 1:00 p.m., so we walked back to the truck and strategized about our plan for the next day.
GRANT: That afternoon, one of our current interns, Tyler, checked the camera on a plot we call Big Boom. As we reviewed that card, we were smiling because a tom had been in the plot the past two mornings. This plot’s already been a great hunting location for us this spring.
DANIEL: Get your football workout in.
GRANT: Chase Hersey tagged a big tom out of this plot during youth season on a snowy, cold morning. And a few days before Scott arrived, Daniel tagged a good tom a couple of hundred yards away in the timber.
GRANT: Putting all the information from the hunters and trail cameras together, it seemed the tom was likely to roost to the north of the plot; hit the ground; circle around into the plot; maybe assemble some hens; and then head east toward an area we’d recently burned.
GRANT: Early the next morning, Scott, Tyler and I headed to Big Boom plot. This wasn’t the first time Scott and I have hunted Big Boom.
GRANT: (Whispering) Turkeys are real close. Be careful.
GRANT: During the first season we aired GrowingDeer, Scott filmed me tagging a tom with a bow in the same plot.
GRANT: Whoo!! Check that out, Scottis.
SCOTT: I tell you. They came out of nowhere.
GRANT: I heard ‘em. I’m so excited I can barely carry the thing.
GRANT: We hoped that we could make another great memory that morning.
GRANT: The three of us quietly got in the ghillie blind well before sunrise.
GRANT: It was exciting listening to that tom gobble. He was only a few hundred yards away.
GRANT: I could also hear another tom gobbling on a distant ridge.
SCOTT: (Whispering) One of the turkeys that we’ve been hearing on the left for the last 30 minutes – Grant gave a little purr, just a real soft purr – and now he has him on the ground gobbling. There’s another gobbler on the next ridge over and we’re just trying to figure out if he’s coming to us or going to the other gobbler.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) He’s coming to us.
SCOTT: (Whispering) We just heard him gobble again and he’s definitely coming our way. He’s in a food plot in Big Boom and, hopefully, we can get him to come to the decoy and the little soft purr.
GRANT: (Whispering) I’ll give you the yardage.
SCOTT: (Whispering) Okay.
TYLER: (Whispering) He’s gonna pop up to the left, but all the way down.
SCOTT: (Whispering) Yeah.
TYLER: (Whispering) The Redneck.
SCOTT: (Whispering) Yeah. (Inaudible)
GRANT: (Whispering) Yeah, he’s right over the hill right there.
GRANT: We could hear the tom and knew he was in the food plot by the direction, but he was over the rise and we couldn’t see him.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: I gave a few very soft calls with the intention of pulling the tom over the rise.
GRANT: Wouldn’t you know it? Suddenly, I spotted a few hens feeding into the plot from the right.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) There’s two hens. Three hens, three hens, four hens.
TYLER: (Whispering) Front one’s bearded.
GRANT: The natural behavior for a tom – especially this time during the breeding season – is get to a strut area; gobble; and the hens come to him. Normally strut areas are an opening, so he can see predators or danger coming in. So, the natural pattern is for the hens to go over the rise and to the tom.
GRANT: It seemed like that’s what the hens were gonna do. Once again, I made a few soft calls, with hopes the hens would come to our decoy and stay in our area.
GRANT: The hens seemed to be staying on our side of the rise. And suddenly, a beautiful sight, we saw the tip of a fan.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) There he is!
TYLER: (Whispering) There he is!
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) Right there. Right (Inaudible) the Redneck.
SCOTT: (Whispering) I see a big, ole fan coming. (Inaudible)
GRANT: Just barely visible over the rise, backlit by the sun. It was a gorgeous sight.
GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: (Whispering) Nobody make any (Inaudible) noise.
GRANT: (Whispering) That’s a good tom. It’s beautiful.
GRANT: For many hunters, this is what I call a torn emotion minute. You want to enjoy it forever. You want to see that tom strutting and floating out there, but on the other hand, you want him to hurry up and get in shotgun range.
GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Safety on?
SCOTT: (Whispering) How many?
GRANT: (Whispering) 66.
GRANT: At this point, we’re all bouncing about an inch off our chairs. The hens are headed our way, the tom’s in full view, backlit by the morning sun. It is a stunning sight.
SCOTT: (Whispering) What is he right now?
GRANT: (Whispering) 54.
GRANT: The tom slowly pushed the hens closer to our set up.
SCOTT: (Whispering) What is it now?
GRANT: (Whispering) 45.
SCOTT: (Whispering) What is it, Grant?
GRANT: (Whispering) 44.
SCOTT: (Whispering) Okay. Tell me when.
GRANT: (Whispering) Wait. Are you ready?
SCOTT: (Whispering) Yeah, I’m ready.
GRANT: (Whispering) Nailed him.
SCOTT: Holy smokes.
GRANT: You okay?
SCOTT: That was, that was just – that was the most exciting hunt I’ve ever been on.
GRANT: You were nervous when he was out there at 70.
GRANT: Then when he got to 60, I could really tell you were nervous because my leg was up against yours. Then when he got to 50, your leg started moving.
GRANT: 32 years, buddy.
SCOTT: Well, I don’t think it’s ever been as good as this one.
GRANT: That was a fine hunt right there. That was a fine hunt.
GRANT: The FieldPod. If you’d had to hold your gun all that time…
SCOTT: Oh, gosh.
GRANT: …you’d been shaking like a persimmon in a windstorm.
GRANT: Well, it would have been rubber arms. I would have just fallen.
GRANT: Man, that sun behind that fan was beautiful, wasn’t it?
SCOTT: Oh. Oh, my gosh. You, you just almost got lost just watching him just come back and forth and strutting and drumming. And just kind of pushing the hens here. And I, and I was down on him all the time just watching the sun through his fan. And, oh, my gosh.
GRANT: And we probably could’ve milked it a little more. But, at 40, I knew that pattern was big enough because I could sense you were a little bit nervous, baby. And I wanted that pattern a little bit bigger than 30. 30 is kind of tight.
SCOTT: I kept asking Grant, “What is he?” “He’s 70; 77; 75.” And I’m like, “Oh, boy. Oh, boy. Come on.”
SCOTT: What, what’d you do to get his head up?
GRANT: Yelped with my mouth.
SCOTT: Oh. Okay.
GRANT: Probably sounded like someone over here being strangled.
SCOTT: I thought you were doing the, the – oh, I couldn’t even think of what Daniel did.
GRANT: He snorted, he snorted at that turkey. He (Inaudible) (Both talking at once)…
SCOTT: And I thought that’s what you did.
SCOTT: This morning was just an absolute picture-perfect hunt. I was fortunate enough to, to get a nice shot. And the Winchester put it down and just thankful to be in, in God’s Creation with my buddy, Grant, and Tyler doing the filming.
SCOTT: But, it’s been a beautiful day. I mean, the sun’s in the background. Turkeys are, are gobbling a few ridges over and it’s just been a, a blessing to come down and, and get to hunt again.
GRANT: What a thrilling hunt for a couple of friends to share. Scott and I celebrated and talked about it on and off camera. And we decided it was one of the best turkey hunts we’d shared in 32 years.
GRANT: Congratulations to Scott on tagging a fine Ozark Mountain tom and thanks for the friendship.
GRANT: Lots of folks have been asking, “Is it warm enough to plant food plots?” The answer, of course, depends on where you are. Still way too cold in most of the northern states. Getting close – depending on where you are – here in the Midwest. And you’ve probably already planted if you’re in the south.
GRANT: During past years, I’d have been just as eager. But this year, we’ve got a better plan.
GRANT: It’s a cool, misty morning here at The Proving Grounds, so we’re not turkey hunting. It’s not ideal conditions for gobbling. But, it’s a great day to get out and check our food plots.
GRANT: This is a plot Daniel and I filmed in recently called Hidey Hole One. And it’s an area we’ve been doing some experimenting with with the folks at Eagle Seed.
GRANT: In this plot, we have an experimental blend we call the Buffalo Blend. We took the Broadside Blend, which is awesome, and added or changed the ratio of a few things and added some stuff in to try to tweak it and improve it a bit.
GRANT: An obvious addition you see is all this really strong annual clover. It’s peaking right now. It’s doing great in providing tons of quality forage for the critters.
GRANT: Other components of the blend are the cereal grains. Monster Wheat, a special variety of cereal rye, some other stuff we added in there and it fed deer all winter long. And now it’s growing and getting in the stem stage. And the stem is not as attractive or digestible to deer as when it was younger in the blade stage.
GRANT: This isn’t wasted. These stems are going to bolt in the next week or two and gosh, it will get four, five, six feet tall. And that will make tremendous biomass or stored nutrients that we will terminate – probably by crimping – in the smaller plots where we have a lot of browse and more weed pressure. Maybe by spraying.
GRANT: That will fall down to the soil and slowly decompose – making the perfect slow release fertilizer for the soybeans we’ll plant soon.
GRANT: We planted a similar test blend last year and then we keep tweaking it a little bit; refining the ratios and which cultivars to use. Eagle is great to work with me on that. And I see the results of that here on the ground.
GRANT: The stems of that past cereal grain have been providing armor for the soil. Not only is it providing armor for the soil. As it breaks down, that’s the perfect slow release fertilizer. It pulled nutrients out of the ground and as it’s breaking down, it’s releasing those nutrients.
GRANT: Think about this. When it rains, it decays faster. And also, when it rains, the plants are growing faster. So, it’s the perfect time release fertilizer. It’s covering the soil, so wind and rain erosion aren’t disturbing the soil and it’s holding moisture in the soil. That’s a win, win, win situation.
GRANT: So, in a brief summary – we keep refining this blend in experimentation. The annual clover was a huge addition. It’s providing super high quality legume forage to the critters right now and adding nitrogen to the soil for this fall’s crop.
GRANT: It’s one thing to talk about the generic overall Buffalo System which has proved to be very good for food plot use. Let’s talk about some specifics.
GRANT: Right now, deer need a lot of phosphorous and other minerals and clover is rich in phosphorous. The timing of that is perfect. We’ve got antlers starting to grow; fawns in the last trimester of development. That’s a critical element for those critters right now.
GRANT: Our deer, to tell you the truth, look pretty scrawny coming out of late winter. We had a long, cold, dry winter here at The Proving Grounds. The food plots were pretty tough. There simply wasn’t any moisture.
GRANT: But, as soon as we got a little rain, this annual clover blew up. It’s easy to compare some Reconyx videos and look at deer a few weeks ago even – or a month ago – and now.
GRANT: Man, they’re looking good now. And I can’t wait to see the antler development that resulted from these food plots.
GRANT: In this food plot, we had a Hot Zone electric fence protecting these beans in this little section we see here. And outside was open and regular browse. And you can see a tremendous difference.
GRANT: Almost no bean stalks outside; beans got, you know, four or five feet tall inside where the fence was.
GRANT: We protected those beans throughout the growing season; let ‘em make a full complement of pods and then took the fence down during the late season when it was cold. And deer wanted to feed here.
GRANT: You may recall, I had a great encounter with a buck we call Herman. He’d already shed one side, so I passed him and I’ll chase him again this coming year.
GRANT: There’s more to the story than creating a great hunting location. It’s great habitat management and soil management also.
GRANT: Late in the season – after the leaves have fell off – or are starting to fall off the beans and the pods are maturing, we broadcast our winter blend right into the standing beans. The deer foraged on the pods; there’s none left. And the winter greens are coming up, providing more food and protecting the soil from wind and rain erosion.
GRANT: The forage growing now – well, it’s providing food, but it is getting a little rank. It’ll get big; we’ll terminate that. And that will slow release; provide nutrients for the beans we’re planting here in about a month and mulch to keep the weeds down.
GRANT: So, we’re set to go with the same rotation. We’ll plant beans again this summer. Probably put the Hot Zone right back here to protect ‘em; have the rest of the food plot for summer feeding; allow this section to make pods for winter hunting.
GRANT: Every year, we’re taking notes and thinking it through and trying to refine our techniques and our goal is to share these techniques with you.
GRANT: If you would like week to week updates on our latest techniques, simply subscribe to the GrowingDeer newsletter.
GRANT: As the temperatures warm up, I hope you don’t get too busy to remember to go outside; spend some quiet time and enjoy Creation. But, most importantly, make time every day to be still and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.
SCOTT: (Inaudible) I just want to hear, “40 yards; 40 yards.”