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>> GRANT: I just wanted to take a moment and share with y’all that we’re celebrating the 11th anniversary of GrowingDeer. We’ve made at least one episode every week for 11 plus years. We’ve never shown a repeat and never took a week off. And we couldn’t have done that without great support from our partners and you, the viewers, and our families for being so tolerant of the schedule we keep. So, man what a great time to celebrate, and thanks to everyone for being a part of the GrowingDeer Team.

>> CODY: [Whispering] Wow! Oh my goodness. That was insane. I just had so many deer come out.

>> GRANT: Cody Kraut is one of the newest GrowingDeer Pro Staff members, and he lives and hunts in western Illinois.

>> GRANT: The landscape in this portion of western Illinois is dominated by production ag – primarily corn and soybeans.

>> GRANT: In this type of habitat, food and cover are readily available during the growing season. Soybeans, of course, provide great quality forage, and corn can be awesome cover for white-tailed deer. However, once these production crops are harvested, food and cover become extremely limited. And small patches of timber serve as the primary source of cover in these areas.

>> GRANT: These areas of timber can be incredible hunting locations as they serve as cover and travel corridors. And often just because of their irregular shapes, there’s great pinch points in those stands of timber.

>> GRANT: We recently shared where Cody was hunting such a stand of timber, and he was hunting along a small creek on the edge of some bean fields.

>> GRANT: Cody’s setup and the wind direction was a perfect situation for rattling.

>> GRANT: Within a few minutes of his first rattling session, a great-looking buck stepped out in the beans.

>> GRANT: Eventually, this buck worked his way within 20 yards of Cody’s stand.

>> GRANT: The pre-rut was just heating up and Cody really enjoys hunting, so this buck got a pass.

>> GRANT: A few days later, Cody got to hunt again and decided to go to a different stand of timber.

>> GRANT: Cody placed his Summit in the timber on a side slope hoping to catch deer traveling from cover to food.

>> GRANT: When we check out his location on onX, it’s easy to see that Cody was in the only block of timber in a large area of production ag.

>> GRANT: I think it’s important to share that the wind was forecast to be out of the northwest. But because of the terrain in this area, the wind was due north. And Cody knew enough about that area to know the wind would be different than what the weatherman said.

>> GRANT: And if you hunt an area enough, you’ll catch on these little changes that can really help you get in close to deer.

>> GRANT: Cody hadn’t been up a tree long when he spotted antlers coming through the timber.

>> GRANT: As Cody was filming this young buck, he heard leaves crunching, and he knew something else was headed his way.

>> GRANT: Unfortunately, this buck Cody has named Blackjack didn’t stop and offer a shot opportunity.

>> GRANT: Cody quickly grabbed his antlers and tried to bring this buck back within range.

>> GRANT: A few moments later, Blackjack reappeared, and Cody positioned his camera where he thought he’d have a shot opportunity.

>> GRANT: Well, we’ve all been there. Cody’s heart sank when this shot sailed over the buck’s back.

>> GRANT: If you’ve hunted long at all, you know that feeling. And I get a question frequently that “Hey, if I miss a deer, should I stay in the stand or is my hunt over?” But I’ll tell you, if the wind’s appropriate, you need to stay put cause another deer could come by.

>> GRANT: That’s exactly what Cody did, and he saw some great pre-rut action.

>> GRANT: This doe was likely either receptive or very close to being receptive.

>> GRANT: During the early portion of the pre-rut, there’s not a lot of receptive does but when there is one there’s usually a string of bucks close behind.

>> GRANT: Unfortunately, another mature buck didn’t come by his stand.

>> GRANT: Cody continued hunting during the pre-rut and rut and saw several good bucks.

>> ANNOUNCER: GrowingDeer is brought to you by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. Also by Reconyx, Eagle Seed, Winchester, Avian-X Decoys, LaCrosse Footwear, Thlete Outdoor Apparel, Morrell Targets, Bog, Hook’s Custom Calls, Summit Treestands, RTP Outdoors, Yamaha, Fourth Arrow, onX Hunt, Scorpion Venom Archery, Case IH Tractors, Burris Optics, Bloodsport Arrows, Code Blue, D/Code, G5 Broadheads, Prime Bows, and Redneck Hunting Blinds.

>> GRANT: Fast-forward to right after the peak of the rut, November 21st, and Cody returned to that same property. But this time he went about 200 yards south of where he had that encounter and hunted over a cut cornfield.

>> GRANT: It was cold and rainy that afternoon, but Blackjack was in the field with several does.

>> GRANT: Unfortunately, the buck never came within range. But it was good to see him, and Cody started creating a strategy to get closer to that buck.

>> GRANT: During the second portion of Illinois firearms season, Cody returned to the same field where he had that encounter with Blackjack.

>> GRANT: With an east wind, Cody and Hayden were able to approach that field from the north – traveling down an old logging road – and not alert deer to the east.

>> GRANT: Cody and Hayden split up, and Cody sat against a tree where he could see a portion of the cut cornfield and where he had seen Blackjack.

>> CODY: [Whispering] Well, it is December 5th today, and it is the second shotgun season here in Illinois. I think we’re in for a fun hunt tonight. We’ve been seeing a lot of deer come out of the timber in front of me here working into eat in this field.

>> CODY: [Whispering] We’ve also been seeing a lot in the field back behind me, so maybe we’ll get lucky and have one of the big ones come out, but let’s see what shows up.

>> GRANT: It was still early when Cody spotted does in the timber.

>> GRANT: Eventually, the does came out in the field and started eating, and a nice-looking young buck was with them.

>> GRANT: As Cody was filming this buck, he happened to look to his left and noticed Blackjack had stepped out.

>> CODY: [Whispering] Wow! Oh my goodness. That was insane.

>> CODY: [Whispering] Okay, so early on I had a bunch of does come out on this hillside and were feeding. I just kept watching out there, and eventually I saw one come – or I saw a deer right over here. Well, then I looked back and there’s a pile of deer up here.

>> CODY: [Whispering] And then I go back on to these deer, and they’re starting to come this way, and I look over, and there’s a bigger buck that just stepped out of the corner, and they were staring at me because it was hard to keep filming over here, but they stuck around long enough, and I shot him.

>> CODY: [Whispering] Looks like a good one, so. Oh man, that was awesome.

>> GRANT: At dark, Cody met up with Hayden, and they picked up the trail.

>> CODY: Oh my goodness! Oh man! What a cool deer.

>> CODY: Well, here he is. I could not be happier with this deer. He is heavy and just an awesome animal, so I couldn’t be happier.

>> GRANT: Congratulations, Cody. You had some great hunting strategies that resulted in a lot of venison for your family and a great set of antlers to put on the wall.

>> GRANT: There are many lessons from Cody’s hunt, some more obvious than others, such as the lesson of how important it is to hunt near a great food source after the peak of the rut.

>> GRANT: Bucks can lose a lot of weight during the rut. In fact, several researchers have reported they can lose up to 30 percent of their body weight. Easy math, a 200-pound buck can come out the other side of the rut weighing only 140 pounds. I mean that’s amazing, and I absolutely believe it not only from research but my own experience.

>> GRANT: A couple years ago here at The Proving Grounds, I was after a buck we called Butterbean. Man, in his summer and pre-rut photos he looked like he was fat. And about the same time Cody tagged this deer, I tagged that deer late during Missouri’s firearms season.

>> GRANT: Got down there to celebrate and did stuff. I put my hand on his antler thinking, “Oh, it’s gonna be horrible dragging this thing up an Ozark hill.” But it wasn’t that bad. Got him back to the skinning shed and weighed him. He weighed about 140 pounds.

>> GRANT: Knowing this, hunters can have the strategy of hunting near high-quality food sources right after the peak of the rut.

>> GRANT: Another cool lesson is Cody had an earlier encounter with Blackjack right in the same area – close proximity. Shot him with a bow and unfortunately missed – a clean miss – continued hunting right in that relatively small area and ended up tagging that buck. Certainly, that miss didn’t spook Blackjack out of the area.

>> GRANT: Cody’s hunt is a great answer to a question we’re frequently asked. It usually goes something like this, “Man I saw the buck of my dreams! Got excited. Missed that thing. You think he’d ever come back to that area?” The answer is really simple. Man, if that buck didn’t smell you – he just heard a loud thunk or a crack of a firearm shot – he really didn’t know what’s going on. They’re not humans; they don’t know that. As long as he wasn’t alerted by the scent of a human, he’ll probably be back in that same area.

>> GRANT: This just highlights the importance of what we say frequently. You need to find areas where you can approach, hunt, and exit without alerting deer. Alerting deer walking in or hunting has the same result. That deer thinks there’s a predator in the area.

>> GRANT: Post-rut hunting can be just as exciting as the pre-rut, but it takes some different strategies. If you’d like to see our strategies, check out our social media and see what we’re doing as the weather conditions change.

>> GRANT: Knowing Cody, I know that he has a strong desire to be outside and enjoy Creation. I hope we all have a strong desire to know the Creator and we take time every day to be quiet and seek His will for our life.

>> GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.