This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: During Missouri’s youth firearms season, adult archers can still hunt but they must wear an orange hat and vest.
GRANT: We had a youth scheduled to join us that afternoon, but Daniel decided to take advantage of an open morning, put on some orange and go bow hunting.
DANIEL: (Whispering) It’s October 27th and Owen and I are at 50 Acre. We’ve hunted this stand several times this year and I’ve had some great encounters with some three-year-old bucks.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Today, we’re looking for a mature buck or a doe. Pre-rut’s heating up, so anything could happen.
DANIEL: (Whispering) A really good travel corridor; bucks cruising the side of this mountain. A lot of acorns in the area – scrapes and rubs all throughout here.
DANIEL: (Whispering) So, anything could happen. Pretty pumped to be out this morning. I’ve got hunter’s orange on because today is Missouri’s youth season. But we’ve got the Prime with us; looking to punch a tag – whether it be a doe or a mature buck.
GRANT: The forecast called for a northwest wind and cool temperatures. So Daniel and Owen selected a stand on the east side of a mountain we call 50 Acre. I really like this location for hunting during the morning in the pre-rut.
GRANT: There’s a large bedding area to the south and the north. And bucks tend to cruise back and forth checking those bedding areas for the first receptive does.
GRANT: During cool mornings, the air is pulling down the mountain as cold air is heavy and sinks to the bottom.
GRANT: Bucks tend to work the low side of a mountain when the thermals are sinking so they can scent check almost all the mountain without cruising that country.
GRANT: There were also some white oaks dropping acorns in this area giving it an added attraction.
GRANT: Around 9:00 a.m. Daniel spotted a good buck.
GRANT: The buck was walking fast which is typical for this time of year. He passed the stand and Daniel didn’t take a shot.
GRANT: I’ll share that Daniel could have grunted and stopped the buck and had an easy shot, but he recognized it as a buck we call Slingshot. We think this buck has a huge amount of potential, so we’ve all agreed to put it on the pass list for this year.
GRANT: We’ve shared some pictures of this buck during the summer on our social media and asked for suggestions on a name. This buck has a split G2 and G3 and the name we picked out of many suggestions was Slingshot.
GRANT: This was our first personal encounter with Slingshot and, man, did he look good.
GRANT: A few minutes after Slingshot passed, a group of does approached the stands.
DANIEL: (Whispering) You on that front one?
OWEN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
DANIEL: (Whispering) Okay. Swing down; swing down. Get on her; get on her. You on her?
OWEN: (Whispering) Yeah.
DANIEL: (Whispering) You on her?
OWEN: (Whispering) Yeah.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Am I good to shoot?
OWEN: (Whispering) Yeah.
DANIEL: (Whispering) The front doe.
OWEN: (Whispering) Yeah.
DANIEL: (Whispering) One closest to us? The one closest to us.
GRANT: Daniel took aim at the lead doe and we’re one more doe closer to our management goal.
GRANT: Travel corridors like this are hot spots this time of year. So Daniel decided to wait and see if something else would pass.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Well, it’s 9:00. Like, deer are just starting to move. Had Slingshot at about ten yards; gave him the pass. We’re gonna let him go another year; see what he turns into.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Not ten minutes later, had two does and a fawn. I saw them coming up the trail. And they gave me that about 15-yard shot and made a good shot on her. I don’t think she went past the road. It’s pretty far. So, it’s gonna be an easy drag.
DANIEL: (Whispering) We’re gonna stay in the tree and see what else happens. Deer are on their feet. There’s a good chance another buck could come by. He may not be as lucky as Slingshot.
GRANT: That was a wise decision because about 15 minutes later another group of deer came up the trail.
DANIEL: (Whispering) You on her?
OWEN: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: Two does down and an encounter with a great buck. That’s a tremendous hour in anyone’s hunting book.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Well, that happened fast. Just like that first doe. That’s pretty typical hunting timber on these trails. They know where they want to go and they’re just cutting through at a good clip. You can see a lot of deer, but you gotta be on your toes.
DANIEL: Well, I’m at the second arrow I shot this morning. Blood looks really good. Thought we saw her go up on this little flat right up the hill here – about seven yards away from where I shot the first doe.
DANIEL: We’re gonna go ahead and hop up here and see if that second doe is right up on top of the ridge here.
DANIEL: Well, I found the second doe I shot this morning. Trail was a little longer than I expected. I don’t know if she reacted to the shot, and turned, and I hit the liver or I was just pulled back a little bit in all the excitement.
DANIEL: Well, anyway, the Deadmeat did the job; got her on the ground; we’re gonna drag her out of here and we’re gonna go find that first doe.
DANIEL: Well, this is the first doe I shot this morning. She didn’t make it but 70 or 80 yards from where I shot her – 10 yards from the truck. Can’t complain about that. So, we’re gonna get her loaded up.
DANIEL: We’ve got two deer to process. We’re gonna be busy here for a little bit and we’ll be back at it this afternoon.
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GRANT: That afternoon, Tyler and Owen selected a stand over a staging area and near a plot we call House.
TYLER: (Whispering) The goal for tonight is doe patrol. I’ve got some doe tags and we’re gonna see if we can punch a couple and get us that much closer to the management goal.
GRANT: Once Tyler and Owen got settled in, they didn’t have to wait long.
GRANT: A big doe stepped into the staging area.
TYLER: (Whispering) (Inaudible) If it turns, I’m shooting it.
TYLER: (Whispering) Are you ready?
TYLER: (Whispering) Good?
OWEN: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: Tyler made a great shot and heard a crash.
TYLER: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Right here.
TYLER: (Whispering) Atta boy.
TYLER: (Whispering) I just did my interview about 15 minutes ago. I’ve already had a doe come out; work up the hill; go straight to the red oak acorns; turn broadside at 21 yards. I put the Prime right behind her shoulder; sent a Deadmeat downrange; and we heard her crash not 50 yards from where I shot her.
TYLER: (Whispering) So, we’ve still got a lot of daylight left. We’re gonna sit tight and see if we can punch another one.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) 26.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: The shot was a tad high, but it made for an easy drag. As shooting light was fading, Tyler and Owen heard footsteps through the leaves.
GRANT: It was a nice, young buck that approached from straight downwind and, once again, our scent control system worked perfectly.
GRANT: At dark Tyler and Owen climbed down to retrieve their two does. They had a great hunt.
TYLER: Well, here we are at doe number one of the night. I shot her at about 20 yards. This is the entry wound; exit is on the other side. It’s a complete pass-through right behind the shoulder, which is exactly where I was aiming. She went about 40 yards or so from the food plot, so a little bit of an uphill drag here in the Ozark Mountains. But nothing too bad. We’re gonna get her back to the skinning shed and get her cleaned up.
GRANT: Two doubles in one day. Man, I was happy. We were four tags closer to our doe harvest goal.
GRANT: It’s probably worth noting that Daniel and Owen and Tyler and Owen had close encounters with deer while wearing hunter’s orange.
GRANT: I receive several questions a year asking if hunter’s orange alerts deer. Deer were created to see movement extremely well. That’s how they avoid predators. If hunters limit their movement and only move at the appropriate time, they can certainly have deer within bow range while wearing hunter’s orange.
GRANT: Camo certainly helps, especially if you fidget and move a lot. And if it’s not firearms season, I’m wearing camouflage.
GRANT: During Missouri’s youth season, Rylan White and his dad, Chase, were also hunting. A few weeks ago, Rylan tagged his first deer during archery season with a crossbow.
GRANT: During the opening day of Missouri’s youth season, Rylan and Chase sat on the ground and saw several critters.
GRANT: They had a close encounter with an armadillo.
RYLAN: (Whispering) That was a cool encounter.
CHASE: (Whispering) What’d you think about that?
RYLAN: (Whispering) That was close.
GRANT: The following afternoon, temperatures were cooler. It was a good sign the deer would be active when two does entered the plot.
GRANT: Not long after, a nice buck stepped out.
CHASE: (Whispering) Oh. It’s that one eight-point. It’s a decent eight-point.
RYLAN: (Whispering) Could I hit him?
CHASE: (Whispering) If you like him, you can shoot him. He’s gotta come out here. Do you see him?
RYLAN: (Whispering) No.
GRANT: Rylan had never tagged a buck this large. But he wasn’t certain he wanted to take the shot or wait and see if an even larger one would step out.
CHASE: (Whispering) Do you want to shoot him or you want to wait? It’s up to you.
RYLAN: (Whispering) Would he score 100?
CHASE: (Whispering) He’d score about 100. Yeah. If you want him, take the safety off. If you don’t, wait. (Inaudible)
GRANT: Rylan decided this was a dandy buck.
CHASE: (Whispering) He’s not gonna stop for you. If you want him, get on him and pull the trigger. Take your time. Make sure you’re holding steady. Right on the heart.
RYLAN: (Whispering) Did I hit him?
CHASE: (Whispering) Yup.
RYLAN: (Whispering) Good?
CHASE: (Whispering) Yeah, I think you got him. I hope so, anyway. You definitely hit him.
GRANT: After a shot and celebrating a little bit, they re-watched the footage and decided it might be best to back out; give the buck a few hours; and then take up the trail.
CHASE: You got him.
RYLAN: Last night, we sat in the same stand; we seen a good buck, but it was after camera light. Tonight, this guy popped out and I shot him. We had to give him a little bit of time, but, eventually, we found him.
GRANT: Rylan and Chase did a great job trailing. Well done, guys. Rylan, you’ve already had a heck of a season and provided a lot of fresh venison for your family. Congratulations.
GRANT: Daniel Stefanoff and his brother-in-law, Brandon Pittman, from Oklahoma have been working on Daniel’s farm for years with the goal of improving the habitat.
GRANT: Last year, both Daniel and Brandon tagged nice bucks from the farm.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible) You got him.
GRANT: They’ve continued improving the habitat by taking low-quality areas and converting it to high-quality feeding and bedding.
GRANT: During the early summer, Team Oklahoma planted Eagle Seeds forage soybeans and then in the late summer drilled right through them with Eagle’s Fall Buffalo Blend. This gave them the perfect crop of standing grain, the soybean pods, and green.
GRANT: Recently, during Oklahoma’s youth season, Brandon and his wife, Brecka, took their eight-year-old son, Wylee, to one of the plots with a Redneck blind.
GRANT: Wylee had set the goal of his first deer being a buck.
GRANT: During the first morning of Oklahoma’s youth season, Wylee saw several does, but decided to give them a pass.
WYLEE: (Whispering) Three or four does – they – we were expecting a buck or, maybe, two. They were just out there. The mom went in first and two babies went in. And then one – I think – that might have got lost, so it just ran right in, right in.
GRANT: That afternoon, Wylee, Brandon and Brecka went to a different plot with a Redneck blind.
GRANT: Not long after settling into the blind, a group of longbeards entered the plot.
GRANT: A little later, a doe and two fawns came into the field.
GRANT: Wylee was still waiting for a buck, so he held off the trigger.
GRANT: As the sun set and shooting light began to fade, a buck entered the plot.
GRANT: He entered at the far end of the plot and Wylee hoped he would walk toward the blind.
BRANDON: (Whispering) Take a deep breath, Buddy.
WYLEE: (Whispering) Is he close enough?
BRECKA: (Whispering) He’s getting there. We’ll tell you. Do you see him?
WYLEE: (Whispering) Ah huh.
BRECKA: (Whispering) You can’t shoot him through that tree. He needs to be where he’s in the open. So you won’t hit a tree.
GRANT: As if reading the script, the buck started closing the distance.
BRANDON: (Whispering) He’s at 30 yards.
GRANT: All of the sudden, the buck turned and started walking away. Like a seasoned hunter, Wylee suggested hitting the Messenger grunt call to lure the buck back.
BRANDON: (Whispering) No.
WYLEE: (Whispering) Quick. Use our grunt call.
BRECKA: (Whispering) He’s looking our way.
GRANT: Hearing the call, the buck turned and headed toward the blind.
(Several talking at once) (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: Finally, the buck stopped and Wylee had a shot.
BRANDON: Wait. Hold on!
BRECKA: (Whispering) Shh, shh, shh, shh.
WYLEE: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
BRECKA: (Whispering) He’s down.
BRANDON: Yes, buddy. You drilled him.
WYLEE: Oh, my God. I’m happy.
BRANDON: (Whispering) Well, Wylee got it done. And it was last light. Had a little buck walk in; made a perfect shot on him. I think, I think he’s super excited. I’m super excited; mom’s super excited. The buck’s down about 50 yards. We’re gonna wait for Daniel to get down here. We’re gonna go let Wylee put his hands on his buck.
WYLEE: (Quietly) And it feels like I ate 2,000, 2,000 pounds of sugar.
BRANDON: (Whispering) He’s all jacked up on adrenaline right now. First deer ever; first buck. What a night, man. We’re gonna go celebrate this for sure.
WYLEE: Where is it? Where is it?
BRANDON: Right where my light’s shining, buddy.
BRECKA: If you walk straight, you’ll walk right into him.
BRANDON: How cool is that?
GRANT: I am very proud of Team Oklahoma for all the work they put in improving the habitat. It’s paying off with great hunts.
GRANT: I’m just as proud of Team Oklahoma for taking their kids hunting and continuing the tradition.
GRANT: Last summer, I toured Mr. Tom Free’s property near West Plains, Missouri. While touring, I laid out a habitat management plan.
GRANT: Mr. Free’s property is similar to mine; it’s also in the Ozark Mountains. It’s mainly hardwood timber with a few areas where cedars have encroached. These areas used to be called “balds” because they were native grasses and forbs without many trees.
GRANT: Mr. Free had told me one of his primary objectives was to increase the number and quality of bucks on his property.
GRANT: I studied maps of Tom’s property before the tour and did a detailed overview while on the property. And during those processes, I determined we needed to add many acres of quality forage and acres of native forage and bedding areas.
GRANT: So, like, I’m not stopping my (Inaudible) cut here. As far as I can see down through there, is useless for a deer. Look. Come here and look at this – low. Right here.
TOM: I know. I was sitting there looking at that when he said, over here.
GRANT: There’s nothing in there. Not – so, you and I walk through here and they’re going, “Oh, man, it’s thick. It’s cover.” But get down where deer, quail and turkey live – there’s nothing. It’s a biological desert. Whack it.
GRANT: Mr. Free used the Flatwood Natives crew to fell the cedars in the areas I designated. Flatwood Natives has done a bunch of work here at The Proving Grounds and their work has resulted in significantly improving the quality of habitat.
GRANT: I recently returned to Mr. Free’s project to check on the status of the cedar removal project. I was amazed at the progress.
GRANT: The Flatwood Natives crew had cut over 100 acres of cedars in less than 14 days.
GRANT: After the cedars were felled, it was easy to find more gaps between trees and I was very pleased that there was a rich component of native grasses and forbs.
GRANT: Look at all the seeds on there.
GRANT: (Inaudible) Think a bunch of those were (Inaudible) under a cedar tree and not getting sunshine and they weren’t growing. This place is gonna explode. I promise you.
GRANT: And even this – by next year, a lot of these needles will shrivel up and more sun will be going down in here and that will grow up with fuel so that the year after we burn it, there’s fuel all in here.
GRANT: And also, the real desirable plants that deer like to eat – they’re gonna eat the ones out here in the open. They don’t want to stick their head all the way in here to get to it.
GRANT: So, we get another big seed base to spread around.
GRANT: So, like, you’ve got thousands of utilization cages out here right now.
GRANT: I’m extremely confident that after a prescribed fire, the entire area will explode with high-quality, native grasses and forbs. It will be a tremendous addition to the wildlife habitat in Mr. Free’s property.
GRANT: After cedars are felled, I recommend allowing them to lay and dry for two growing seasons.
GRANT: Cedars have a lot of moisture content in the limbs and stems. If you burn it too quickly, you’ll simply burn off the needles and have large skeletons all over the area.
GRANT: The skeletons are not a problem from a habitat point of view. Sunlight goes through ‘em and native vegetation will grow.
GRANT: But it’s not very aesthetically pleasing to look out and see hundreds of charred cedar skeletons across the area.
GRANT: I’ve used this technique at The Proving Grounds and we now have many acres of very high-quality native habitat.
GRANT: We have felled cedars from several areas here at The Proving Grounds and now those areas are tremendous native habitat. In fact, the largest buck tagged at The Proving Grounds was in one of those areas.
GRANT: Mr. Free’s property is well on its way to producing lots of quality bucks. I look forward to sharing more updates from this project.
GRANT: If you would like to learn more about our hunting and habitat management techniques, please subscribe to the GrowingDeer newsletter.
GRANT: This morning, I was in a treestand. And as the sun was coming over the horizon, the trees right in front of me exploded with brilliant color. It was a great reminder to slow down and enjoy Creation and always be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to us.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.