This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Dude, he’s right here in front of me. You on him?
GRANT: Last fall Daniel tagged a mature buck we called Frost, putting some great tasting venison in the freezer.
GRANT: The success of this hunt was the result of several techniques. I want to take some time and share those techniques with you so you, too, can have great hunts this fall.
DANIEL: The plan worked. You know, we – we started this – this journey almost this summer. We created this food plot earlier this spring, planted it, put a Reconyx camera up, started getting bucks coming through on that east side and – and we just knew. You know, we gotta hang. And so, Clay and I went in, hung a set and then we came in this afternoon knowing the conditions were right.
DANIEL: This first night we’ve hunted that stand. It paid off tonight.
GRANT: You often hear us talk about how to approach, hunt and exit a stand or blind without alerting deer. This is critically important no matter how much sign is there. If you can’t approach, hunt and exit without alerting deer, it won’t be a very successful hunt.
GRANT: We recently assisted a landowner in northern Missouri. And I noticed, based on his comments, that him and his sons have been walking from their lodge – a little cabin on their property – all the way through their farm to get to the stand. That’s a lot of disturbance.
GRANT: When we shared that on GrowingDeer, I had a lot of questions about that subject. So today, I want to share how we approach a couple of stands or blinds here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: I’m standing on an interior road here at The Proving Grounds and a trail we’ve already prepared for this season going through the woods here a couple of hundred yards.
GRANT: When we look at a map of this area, you might think it makes sense to park at the bottom of the hill or the top of the hill and walk into this area.
GRANT: Clearly, the UTV on the gravel is going to make some noise coming in here. But we work from a UTV on this property throughout the year. We’re taking seed to plant in a food plot, doing a prescribed fire, running traps, hanging stands, whatever. Deer are conditioned to this and they don’t associate it with danger.
GRANT: We hunt intensively on this property. Probably two or three guys are out hunting every week, multiple days a week, from September 15th to January 15th.
GRANT: Deer certainly associate our scent with danger.
GRANT: That’s true for a lot of properties. So it’s much easier to get as close to the stand as practical in the UTV, something deer do not associate with danger, and limit the exposure of the predator, us, going to the stand.
GRANT: Given this setup, we’ve got a couple of hundred yard walk. I’ll take you on that walk and you will see why, in this case, it’s better to walk the last little bit than go right through the food plot.
GRANT: As we’re going down the trail, notice we’ve blown all the leaves out of the way. Much quieter walking on rock and bare dirt here than leaves. And leaves are very porous. They will retain scent longer than just walking in this place from rock to rock.
GRANT: We’ve also trimmed all limbs out of the way, so we don’t have to be putting our hands all over limbs or making noise while approaching or leaving the stand before or after dark.
GRANT: Another real advantage of this system is you never get lost. You’re going in without much light before daylight. How many of y’all have missed your stand by 10 or 20 yards, spent more time putting more scent on the ground?
GRANT: So let’s take a walk and we’ll show you this setup of how we enter this stand.
GRANT: onX shows it’s about 350 yards from where we left the Yamaha to the stand. That’s not an easy 350. You know, you’re going down, crossing a little dry creek and coming up to the stand. And it’s only about 250 yards to the edge of the plot. We could get dropped off there.
GRANT: So you may wonder, “Why are we taking this walk through a creek and up when we could be dropped off and walk right through the plot?”
GRANT: The approach and exit of each stand needs to be considered. So I mentioned this is at the east end of a plot. If we have a north, south or west wind, our scent is going to be going all through the area around this plot if we approach from that end of the plot.
GRANT: By entering from the northeast, it would be very rare that the wind carries our scent into an area where we expect deer to approach the plot.
GRANT: Our approach strategy for this stand has been tested. Last fall Daniel took this trail into the stand, got up pretty quietly, and he tagged a mature buck that approached the field just uphill from this stand.
GRANT: If Daniel and Owen had approached this stand by coming through the plot, most likely, the wind would have carried their scent into the area where that buck was bedded and/or he would have crossed their trail as he entered the plot.
GRANT: As it was, the buck never knew these guys were hunting here and it provided Daniel a great opportunity.
GRANT: This is a productive food plot. It’s the only food for quite a ways in the middle of a lot of timber. And we don’t want to limit ourselves to one set of wind directions.
GRANT: There’s a Redneck Blind at the other end of this plot. And during the season last year, Tyler had an awesome opportunity to observe a couple of bucks that weren’t quite on our hit list yet.
GRANT: The technique of having multiple stands or blinds around a single plot is often overlooked. But let’s think about this. If you go through all of the effort to clear trees and plant and maintain a food plot, you don’t want to limit it to one set of wind directions.
GRANT: I want to have multiple hunting locations so no matter the wind direction, I can hunt that area that’s going to attract deer.
GRANT: The path is clean and we’re ready to hunt this stand. Let’s go check out another situation.
GRANT: (Quietly) That is a good deer. He’s coming, he’s coming. Get ready, get ready.
DANIEL: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: He’s down. He’s down. HeadTurner is down. Can you believe that?
DANIEL: Oh my word.
GRANT: We’ve killed a pile of deer out of this Redneck right here. Last year on that ridge, of course, we took Handy. Big, ole, 17-pointer, hit list buck, of course. And years ago I shot other deer on that point over there. And we’ve killed two does out here already this year. And now one of our main hit list bucks, HeadTurner.
GRANT: Hunting bedding areas or quality cover during the rut is one of my favorite strategies. Receptive does will seek areas with thick cover while they’re receptive and bucks will cruise those areas trying to find receptive does.
GRANT: We’ve shared many hunts from a location we called a Boom Glade Redneck.
GRANT: He’s down. Handy’s down. Oh my goodness.
GRANT: This blind overlooks a bedding area and looks into another bedding area on a hillside to the north. And you may ask, “How do you approach that blind without alerting deer?”
GRANT: This is one of my favorite setups on the property and, oddly enough, we drive right through the hunting area getting here.
GRANT: The best-case scenario is maybe someone else is hunting on the back portion of The Proving Grounds and drops us off here. But that rarely happens, so we park just a few yards up here. I can see the buggy from the back of the blind, but it hasn’t impacted our success.
GRANT: We see a vehicle and associate it with danger. Deer – just like hunting blinds or round bales of hay – they see something they’re kind of familiar with and it’s absolutely not moving, it doesn’t have human scent associated with it – they seem to go right by it.
GRANT: We parked at the bottom of the hill, hid the buggy in some trees, walked up the hill to the blind. I’d be sweating when we got here and, no doubt, whichever way the wind’s going, it would carry that scent all through that portion of the bedding area.
GRANT: But by driving through here, our testimony is clear, it doesn’t seem to impact the deer. I have tagged several bucks from this blind.
GRANT: Ozark Mountain stud right there. Whoo!
GRANT: So as a review, my preferred way to approach any stand or blind is to be dropped off as close as I can, let the vehicle alert deer if it does, push ‘em out of the way if they’re bedded that close and I can approach without walking by those deer.
GRANT: If everyone is out hunting, which is common here, and I need to take myself to the blind or stand, I want to get as close as I can in the vehicle to limit the amount of human scent penetrating the area as I approach the stand or blind.
GRANT: Our strategy has proven successful and I believe the foundation of that – at least on this property – is deer are very conditioned to vehicles. We’re working here all the time and we never shoot out of a vehicle, so deer simply ignore them or move slightly out of the way.
GRANT: But we walk in the timber to go hunting. We do that all fall long. And if there’s an association with danger, I believe it’s more of that human walking into the area than a vehicle going through the area.
GRANT: And I will admit, if you’re on a property where there are no vehicles all year long, maybe you’re an absentee landowner or, boy, you’ve got that back woods you just never use a vehicle on, then, yes, don’t wait until opening day of deer season and drive right through it. That’s probably alerting the deer in that area.
GRANT: But there are not many properties like that. There’s farm activity around, UPS is driving a road through it, whatever it is, the deer are accustomed to vehicles.
GRANT: If you’re like most of us and you hunt properties where deer are conditioned to vehicles – they don’t associate them with danger – try this technique. I’m pretty confident it will work out to your advantage.
GRANT: How you approach, hunt and exit a stand or blind is extremely important to your chances of tagging a deer. Every time we hang a new stand or put a blind out, one of our first considerations is our past knowledge of how deer use that area.
GRANT: I believe there are four great takeaways from our techniques to finding great stand and blind locations.
GRANT: First, past observations and current scouting are key for a good stand or blind location.
GRANT: Second, once a great hunting location is found, it’s critical to ensure there’s an excellent way to approach, hunt and exit without alerting deer.
GRANT: Third, an interior road network can be a huge asset for the huntability of a property. Locating stands or blinds next to interior roads means less disturbance when leaving the vehicle and getting to the location.
GRANT: The fourth takeaway needs some interpretation depending on where you hunt. If you hunt public land in Pennsylvania or somewhere like that, there may be a big advantage to walking a bit further. Getting further from the road where there’s less hunting pressure and let the other hunters push deer to your location.
GRANT: Research shows that more than 80% of whitetail hunters hunt at least a portion of their season on private land. And in these situations, even like here where there’s a lot of hunting pressure, there are advantages to having stands or blinds close to interior roads to limit the disturbance of trucking all the way through the woods to reach your hunting location.
GRANT: Let’s consider that last statement just a bit. There’s a lot of hunting pressure here at The Proving Grounds. Usually two or three guys hunt multiple times every week of season from September 15th to January 15th. That’s a lot of pressure on a piece of property like ours.
GRANT: However, because we’re out there so much, if we walk a half mile through the woods, and we’re maybe sweating, or making a lot of noise, we’re going to alert a lot more deer. And they’re gonna stay alert for several days versus maybe going 100 yards or less and getting to a stand without causing a big ruckus.
GRANT: These are great techniques that I know many people have applied and it’s helped them have a funner season, closer encounters and ultimately bringing more venison home to their families.
GRANT: I always enjoy talking hunting strategies and habitat improvement techniques with fellow landowners. So, I was really excited when I had an opportunity to call Corey Spurling in northern Michigan and assist him with a plan for his 40 acres.
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GRANT: Hello, Corey. How are you today?
COREY: Fabulous. How about yourself?
GRANT: I am well. I am well. It’s raining and rain is a rare event in southern Missouri during August, so that’s a great thing.
GRANT: Corey’s property is primarily composed of two habitat types: a nasty swamp that stays wet so much, a lot of critters don’t even want to go in there; and an uplands that has very thick stands of timber.
GRANT: Well, are you ready to talk about a little habitat management and hunting strategies?
GRANT: All right. What I want you to do is kind of envision your property in that square mile it’s in. If you think of that as the middle square of a Rubik’s cube, there’s an incredible travel corridor coming off the (Inaudible) swamp and going over the kettle swamp right through your property.
GRANT: As a matter of fact, if I had to own one 40-acre property there, I would own yours. Because if you go just west of you, that bottleneck is twice as large. And if you go further west, it just gets larger and larger. If you go east, it gets larger. You are in the narrowest point in this very overt bottleneck.
GRANT: So what that tells me, I think – is what I’m reading in your notes and in our original conversation – deer are passing through your property, but not necessarily on a regular pattern, and they’re not hanging around. Is that, is that kind of an accurate assumption on my part?
COREY: That’s fair. And you only – I only have three – one small doe family that is staying on the property.
COREY: And then I have a black bear (Inaudible) who I catch on a camera at least once a week.
GRANT: Okay. All right. So when I look here again at the Rubik’s cube – so I’m looking at nine square miles – there’s no food, ag type food, except for that 80 acres of wheat very close to you.
GRANT: To the north central of your property, I can tell that the timber is much thinner in that almost water drop or, or, water droplet, rain droplet shaped area.
COREY: So it’s – and that area it’s – it’s, I think very mature trees. So right now there’s not a ton of sunlight in the ground.
GRANT: That’s not necessarily all bad because right now you own 40 acres, primarily of a closed canopy forest. But if you did – if you so desired to make this a waypoint on their travels, like, “Boy, I’ve got to stop there.” Like for me, if I see an ice cream store, I have to stop.
GRANT: And I think we can make the same thing for critters. If we took, in the middle of that teardrop shape, and let loggers remove that, and generate some income for you, and you converted that to a feeding area, it would totally change your property.
GRANT: The limiting factor here is unequivocally food. They’re scavenging through thousands of acres of timber looking for beechnuts and the occasional acorn and whatever. You put a food plot in there, this property hunts literally ten times larger than it is.
GRANT: If you could put a box blind on two different sides – let’s just say the north and maybe the southeast or something, so you could hunt that on multiple wind directions – that would be incredible for those late season hunts.
COREY: To the east of the teardrop there’s the other little island that’s primarily beech right now. Would you not touch that?
GRANT: Again, food is your most limited resource. The more you can get, the better I like it. If you had a 1.75-acre food plot there and a 2- or 3-acre food plot, and I don’t think you’re gonna get much bigger than that, in the teardrop, the amount of deer traveling between those two would be incredible.
GRANT: And that just – you can hunt the field, you can hunt in between ’em, you can hunt any wind direction. You can approach, if the swamp isn’t too wet, from the road to the east. You can approach from the north. You could – you’re not gonna have many east winds but you could come down the very eastern side of your property and get in there. I, I like everything about that.
GRANT: And my goal for you would be that you could harvest enough timber out of there to pay to get the land de-stumped and kind of ready to prepare a plot in there.
GRANT: And my only limitation to how big the teardrop is, I would not ever let it be visible from the road and you don’t want to get too close to the swamp border. And other than that, the bigger you make it, the better it’s gonna be for you.
GRANT: It’s gonna do a couple things. It’s gonna be a destination. Food are going to be there and it’s going to create a tremendous travel corridor between that plot and the swamp. I mean just a bow –
GRANT: – a bow hunting. It’s – and if you think about it – it’s just basically a horseshoe or U-shape. You can hunt that on any wind direction.
GRANT: Do you think that on wetter years deer are definitively funneling either south or north of that band?
COREY: Yes. I’d say on the wetter years they definitely go more north.
GRANT: Okay. Good. Would they cross that finger of swamp that goes up in the middle of your property? Will that be wet enough to funnel ‘em all around, around that point? I’m looking to see if that’s a pinch point, is where I’m going with this.
COREY: They definitely travel right through that corridor. I have a trail camera there and that’s where I tend to see most of my activity.
GRANT: Gotcha. Perfect. So I think we can add to the previous stand locations, one there. Because I was hoping that northern edge of the swamp in that pinch point where it goes up further north into your property would be an incredible pinch point.
COREY: Now you say put the stand further south or north of that pinch point?
GRANT: Heck, I’d probably have one on each side depending on the wind direction.
GRANT: I like hunting over the water. I like wading out in the water, you know, a few inches deep. I love hanging my stand right over the water because deer, deer will run the edge of that water. I mean right on the edge. Right on the edge like they’re taking a shortcut there.
GRANT: And they just don’t ever seem to sense any danger out in the water. They just, they just don’t even pay attention to it.
GRANT: And I think you can make the same play here. I think if you get up there where we just talked about and hang a stand on the water side of that, if it’s not too deep, or as close as you can get, anyway. And if, when the wind is appropriate and it’s taking your scent out over the big body of the swamp, those deer are not gonna know you’re in the neighborhood and that’s going to be an – and it’s a pinch point. It’s a naturally occurring pinch point.
GRANT: And the same thing could be true on the west side of the teardrop. If that gets mucky enough or wet enough to force deer up towards the top of that swamp area, that’s another incredible pinch point for you.
GRANT: Man, Corey, I appreciate your time. I appreciate you letting us assist you. And I am very eager to hear updates. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
COREY: Will do.
GRANT: Thank you, Corey. Have a great day.
COREY: Thank you.
GRANT: It requires a fair amount of experience to design a really good habitat plan custom fit to a property. But it takes more experience to make sure there’s a hunting plan that fits that habitat plan.
GRANT: You can develop good habitat, but for most people the icing on the cake is being able to hunt it effectively.
GRANT: The design we shared with Corey creates multiple bottlenecks and many stand locations that are easy to approach, hunt and exit without alerting deer.
GRANT: I look forward to hearing updates from Corey as he implements this project and has some successful hunts.
GRANT: If you’d like to learn more about our soil health improvement techniques, I’ll be speaking August 24th and sharing our hunting techniques at several other locations. Check the screen and see if I’ll be speaking near you because I’d love for you to come and have an opportunity to visit and talk about hunting on your property.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.
GRANT: If you enjoy the content we share, you probably know a buddy or two that will also. And I hope you’ll take time to send them the link.
GRANT: Scouting and preparing stands or blinds for hunting season is a great way to get outside and enjoy Creation. But even if you don’t have time to do those activities, find some time just to get outside and enjoy.
GRANT: But most importantly, take time every day to slow down, be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.