This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
DANIEL: The New Year’s season is here. I’ll be honest. When something like deer or turkey season ends, I’m always a little sad inside. But that’s not the case when a year ends.
DANIEL: That’s because I can look back over the past year and see all the memories I’ve made with my family and my friends. I also see all the lessons that I’ve learned and will, hopefully, continue to build upon.
DANIEL: I hope this New Year you are blessed with vision and wisdom so that you can make the most of every day that the Creator gives you. Happy New Year.
DANIEL: Grant’s not at The Proving Grounds this week because he and Raleigh are up at the Mayo Clinic for their four-month post-kidney transplant checkup. They’re both doing very well and they can’t wait to get back to The Proving Grounds for Missouri’s muzzleloader season this weekend.
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DANIEL: It’s the post-rut across most of the whitetails’ range. And you may think, “Well, gosh. The rut has passed; deer activity is slow; I’m not gonna go hunting.” Well, that’s just not true. There is still a lot of great huntin’ left in the deer woods.
DANIEL: During the late season, identifying high-energy food sources and quality cover can be key to punching a tag. That’s because many deer are often back to a food-cover/food-cover pattern.
DANIEL: Even though the peak of the rut has passed, it doesn’t mean you can’t still see some great rut activity while hunting.
DANIEL: In areas that have quality habitat – about this time of year, doe fawns are reaching about 65 to 70 pounds. And that’s just the time where they are entering puberty and they can become receptive.
DANIEL: High-quality food sources and rut activity during the late season – well, that may be just the ticket to have an encounter with a buck that slipped through your hands during the early season.
DANIEL: This past weekend Clay and I wanted in on some of the late season hunting action, so we headed to a pair of Summit stands at a location we call Tracy’s Bowl.
DANIEL: The stand is hung on the side of a mountain where the terrain makes sort of a bowl that tapers down into a drainage.
DANIEL: On cold mornings, the air is cool and heavy; it will fall off the mountain, down the bowl and into the drainage, taking our scent with it.
DANIEL: Because of this terrain feature, deer often travel on the high side of the bowl.
DANIEL: This location is a great travel corridor with bedding to the north and the south with hardwoods running through the middle.
DANIEL: As we’ve shared, there’s a lot of red oak acorns still on the ground here at The Proving Grounds and we’ve been focusing a lot of our hunting time in the hardwood travel corridors near bedding.
DANIEL: (Whispering) We’re kind of in the eye of the storm right here, I feel like. There’s a lot of buck activity up on Boom which is just to our north. There’s also several bucks that have moved back to the south.
DANIEL: (Whispering) The last camera pull, Swoops moved back to the south to a food plot we call Big Foot. Reconyx got a picture of him down there somewhere between a ridge or two to our south and boom – deer are crossing. There’s just a lot of buck activity.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Louie has crossed through here somewhere at some point multiple times. I think we’re in the game. High Riser, Swoops, Louie – there are several good bucks that could cruise through here this morning.
DANIEL: It was a cold, still morning and Clay and I were waiting for the sun to come over the mountains and warm things up.
DANIEL: Once the sun was up, the deer started to move.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
DANIEL: Clay and I could see several deer up the mountain and it looked like they were heading our way.
DANIEL: It appeared there were several bucks.
CLAY: (Whispering) Oh, there’s a really good buck – left. (Inaudible)
DANIEL: (Whispering) Yeah. That’s the, that’s the, that’s the one I was looking at. Yeah.
DANIEL: The deer really weren’t that far away. But because we were looking through limbs and brush, Clay and I were having a hard time figuring out what was up there.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Doe just ran back down.
CLAY: (Whispering) Yeah. (Inaudible)
DANIEL: Clay and I caught a glimpse of a lot of antlers and we knew there was a good buck in the mix.
CLAY: (Whispering) Oh yeah. You can see ‘em fighting.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Yeah.
DANIEL: A couple of the bucks sparred and the big buck worked a scrape.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) I’m trying to tell who it is.
DANIEL: Clay and I knew there was a good buck up there, but we were having a hard time telling who he was.
DANIEL: The group of deer walked down into a stand of cedars not far from us and every now and then, we could see antlers going through the gaps.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Can you tell who it is?
CLAY: (Whispering) No, I can’t.
DANIEL: As the group worked through the cedars, I spotted a doe fawn and it made sense why there were several bucks just hanging out.
DANIEL: (Whispering) It’s that doe fawn.
CLAY: (Whispering) Yeah.
DANIEL: (Whispering) They’re staying on the bottom side of that doe fawn.
DANIEL: (Whispering) If he comes right there in that gap in this little drainage, that’s 30 yards.
CLAY: (Whispering) Okay.
DANIEL: The buck walked down. He was about 40 yards away; we got a good look at him and I realized it was a buck we call “Red”.
DANIEL: (Whispering) We need this doe fawn to come down the hill.
DANIEL: Even though Red was at 40 yards, I never had a clear shot. I kept hoping that doe fawn would come down the mountain and walk by our stand, leading Red within range.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Come on doe fawn. Come on doe fawn.
DANIEL: But it never happened.
DANIEL: Red and the younger bucks and doe fawn worked back up the mountain.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Man, that got the blood pumping. They hung out probably over 20, 25 minutes. Wouldn’t you say, Clay? Maybe even a half hour. And they were, at one point, 40 yards. There was just no shot. Man. Wow.
DANIEL: (Whispering) The power of a doe fawn. It felt like it was the rut right there. (Inaudible) Clay and I believe it was a doe fawn here that was with them and there was multiple bucks just hanging around that doe fawn.
DANIEL: (Whispering) When those doe fawns reach their 65, 70 pounds, they can enter puberty about this time of year. And enter estrus.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Sure enough, that’s what those bucks were waiting on. That doe fawn really didn’t know what was going on. She was just kind of walking around. But, the bucks really put on a show for us. Just couldn’t pull it off.
DANIEL: The plan worked, but Red just never came within range. You can bet when the conditions are right, we’ll be back hunting Tracy’s Bowl.
DANIEL: In between deer hunts, Tyler and Owen are running the trap line and they have already caught 43 predators.
DANIEL: Last week we shared that our friend and local trapper, JR, is helping us with our yearly trapping efforts here at The Proving Grounds.
DANIEL: JR has set several Duke coyote sets throughout the property and within just a few days, we’ve caught our first coyote.
GRANT: The first coyote of this trapping season here at The Proving Grounds. My friend JR is helping us set some coyote traps and, when he’s working, I’m checking ‘em.
GRANT: As I’ve shared many times, we work annually to balance the predator and prey populations. We’ve seen a noticeable increase in deer and turkey populations due to removing predators for several years and improved habitat.
GRANT: There’s more to removing predators than just simply allowing more prey to survive.
GRANT: Research is clear that predators can cause prey stress. And stress means not eating as much; being vigilant looking for predators more; reduced body weights; reduced fawn numbers; and reduced antler size.
GRANT: In addition to all of that, if prey species are being vigilant all the time looking for predators, it means it’s very difficult for hunters to be successful.
GRANT: All these factors, plus I enjoy the woodsmanship skills necessary to catch a predator like a coyote, is plenty of reasons for me to keep trapping.
GRANT: In addition to all those reasons, there’s still a strong pelt industry throughout the world. Pelts are used in a lot of garments and other items.
GRANT: For example, a couple of years ago, I had a very nice blanket made for Tracy with coyote around the border and coons in the middle. It’s a beautiful thing that we’re both very proud of.
GRANT: We’re gonna take care of this coyote; of course, save the pelt and check the rest of our traps.
DANIEL: Whether it’s a big warm blanket, hearing turkeys gobble each spring, or seeing fawns running around every summer, we’re always excited to see the results of all our hard work on the trap line.
DANIEL: It would be nice if property owners and land managers only had to worry about managing wildlife. Unfortunately, sometimes we’ve got to manage for the two-legged critters.
GRANT: Unfortunately, trespassing is an issue in many areas. In most states, if the property is marked “No Trespassing” the penalties are a bit stiffer. It takes a lot of “No Trespassing” signs to properly mark most farms.
GRANT: In addition, they can blow off; get torn down; and for some reason, thugs like to shoot at ‘em. I’m thankful that Missouri has what’s known as the “Purple Paint Law”. Purple paint means the same thing as a “No Trespassing” sign.
GRANT: It’s much faster, easier and typically lasts longer to paint wood or metal posts or even trees purple than to nail up signs. In addition, when you nail signs, you’re putting a nail in a tree and if it’s cut for firewood or timber later that can harm the saw blades.
GRANT: Currently, there are about ten states that allow purple paint to mean the same as “No Trespassing” signs.
GRANT: As a wildlife biologist that commonly prescribes timber management to improve the wildlife habitat, I’ve learned that forestry paint lasts much longer than any type of household paint in this application.
GRANT: Many states require a certain area be painted to be officially marked. Make sure and check the regulations where you live.
GRANT: If your state doesn’t have the “Purple Paint Law”, I hope you consider lobbying for such a law because reducing trespassing is not only a wildlife management issue, but a safety issue.
DANIEL: If you’re a property owner, you may have first-hand experience with trespassers. And you know how disrespectful it is for them to come onto your property and treat it as their own or maybe even worse.
DANIEL: It’s unfortunate that trespassing occurs. But by being proactive, landowners can take a step toward protecting their property and assets.
DANIEL: With fresh paint on our borders, it should be very obvious how seriously we take trespassing and the efforts we’ll go to to protect not only our property, but to keep the entire GrowingDeer Team safe.
DANIEL: If you would like to hear more late season hunting tactics or trapping techniques, please subscribe to the GrowingDeer newsletter.
DANIEL: Whether you’re chasing deer during the late season or just out working on property projects, it’s always a blessing to be able to get out and enjoy Creation.
DANIEL: But the biggest blessing is that we can have a personal relationship with our Creator. I hope you slow down this week and you listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
DANIEL: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.