This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: The pre-rut is heating up and that means bucks are moving more each day searching for receptive does. During the past few days, we’ve had some great buck encounters.
GRANT: During a morning hunt, a six-year-old buck we call Octo cruised in right behind Daniel and Clayton about 40 yards out and, amazingly, directly downwind.
GRANT: When Octo stopped, he was still 40-plus yards, and Daniel wisely opted to not take a shot that far, especially at an alerted deer.
GRANT: I also had a good encounter with a buck while hunting a travel corridor. Unfortunately, that buck came in right when thermals were starting to switch around – starting to rise up the mountain – and that buck got a whiff of our scent, headed on up the hill.
GRANT: Both of these bucks were seen in travel corridors or areas where deer commonly travel between food and cover. Travel corridors can occur in lots of different habitat types, and a well-designed food plot can take advantage of a travel corridor.
GRANT: The Boom North food plot is a great example of combining a travel corridor and a food plot when laying out that food plot, and we’ve seen and tagged several good bucks during the pre-rut and rut at that plot.
GRANT: The Boom North food plot is on a section of ridge that runs primarily from southwest to northeast. And it’s right on the top of that ridge.
GRANT: The north side of this ridge is a mature stand of timber that includes several oaks. North slopes receive less sunlight throughout the day compared to a southern slope, and less sunlight means less moisture is lost due to evaporation.
GRANT: Retaining more moisture typically means larger and likely better-tasting acorns. And that’s especially true during a drought season like we’ve just experienced here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: About 100 yards south of this plot – just through a little band of timber – is a large bedding area. That area was covered with cedars when Tracy and I purchased The Proving Grounds, and we felled all those cedars and have used prescribed fires several times to stimulate the growth of native grasses and forbs.
GRANT: With the appropriate wind, and especially when there is a crop of acorns, this is an ideal setup during the pre-rut. Deer are feeding in the acorns on that north slope and on a cold morning, they’ll feed all night, right? It’s cold everywhere. They tend to cross that ridge; get into that southern slope where the sun’s coming down, and that radiant energy can warm them up, especially when there’s tall native grasses. The sun’s coming in, but those tall grasses shear off the wind so there’s no windchill effect.
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GRANT: During the morning of October 17th, the wind was perfect for that setup, and Clay and I opted to hunt the Boom North food plot.
GRANT: (Whispering) It’s about 33 degrees with about a 5-mile-an-hour wind out of the southeast coming this way – coming from the sun. And it is wicked dry. We’re in the center of the drought zone on the U.S. Drought Monitor. So you can see the food plot is just super dry where the tree roots have reached out and taken out most of the moisture. The pond has been dry for a couple of years; it’s just dry. But we’re on what we call an elevator ridge.
GRANT: We call this Boom North – bedding area, acorns, big food plot. This time of year during the pre-rut, bucks tend to cross here – a little pinch point. They kind of come around, scrape around the edge here. It’s a great setup for this time of year. Man, I’m super excited this morning; see if either some does or a shooter buck will come through.
GRANT: The sun hadn’t risen above the ridge to the east when I spotted a yearling buck in the plot.
GRANT: The buck appeared from the north, fed a little bit in the plot, and headed on south, which gave us a lot of confidence in our plan.
GRANT: As the sun got a bit higher and I could tell it was starting to warm things up a bit, I believed more deer would come off that cold, northern side where they’d been feeding during the night, head over to that southern slope where they could warm up.
GRANT: It wasn’t long until I spotted a doe just to our right.
GRANT: This doe was very alert and kept looking up the ridge. I was looking too, but I couldn’t see what had alerted this doe.
GRANT: Something certainly had these does on high alert.
GRANT: She was walking across the plot and I didn’t have a lot of time, but I’m using the Oracle Bow Sight this year, and it’s got a rangefinder built in. So I just came to full draw, put it on her, and I knew she was 22 yards away.
GRANT: (Whispering) I drew back thinking she might stop a little bit, paying attention up there, and she did. She was at 22 yards. Boy, the Oracle worked great because she was moving. I could get that range right there.
GRANT: (Whispering) It’s – the exit wound looks good. The entrance may be a hair back, but the exit looks good – probably going to run a little further than if it was tucked right behind the shoulder, but that’s gonna be venison in the freezer.
GRANT: Given the does were so alert, we opted to stay in the Summits till about 10:30, thinking maybe there was a buck cruising in the area and he’d come out in our end of the plot.
GRANT: By 10:30, I was eager to get down and look at the Bloodsport and read the sign on the arrow.
GRANT: I’m talking saturated. That’s what you want to see. I mean, there’s the Blood Ring, and it’s – I mean that’s impressive.
GRANT: All right, let’s – yeah, right off the bat. Pretty good blood. All right. Well, it’s dry. It’s really low humidity, so it’s drying a little bit, so this may be a little slower just because it’s drying so fast.
GRANT: Here’s the blood right here. I got blood here, right here, right there, right here, right here.
GRANT: We easily followed the blood trail down the mountain and into the bedding area.
GRANT: That’s pretty good. All right, man, yeah.
GRANT: A big part of why this hunt was successful and resulted in fresh venison was our hunting strategy.
GRANT: During this time of year in most parts of the whitetails’ range, deer are genetically programmed to seek foods that are high in energy, high in carbohydrates. Carbs help deer store a lot fat, which can be necessary for them to survive the winter.
GRANT: If you hunt in timber country that includes a lot of oaks, it’s likely this time of year deer are seeking acorns.
GRANT: We have multiple stands here at The Proving Grounds, and we could have hunted somewhere else. We chose that location to fit the conditions that day.
GRANT: The wind was appropriate for us to approach that stand and hunt without alerting deer. The desired food source – acorns – was on the north slope, and a bedding area for those cool conditions was on the south slope. We could get right in the middle – a great strategy for those conditions.
GRANT: Understanding the resources a deer needs at the time you’ll be hunting, where those resources are located, and how they use the terrain to move between those resources can be key to tagging bucks and does.
GRANT: Once we had finished celebrating and talking, it was time to get that doe out of there, bring her back up to the shop, and process the venison.
GRANT: A quick check on onX showed it was a bit over 200 yards up a steep hill back to where we’d parked or 500 yards down along the creek bottom to another road. The choice was simple. We’ve hunted in these mountains for a long time. And I’d rather go further on relatively level land than drag a deer up a very steep hill.
GRANT: We got the doe to the road. I got to tell you we were tired and thankful there was a Yamaha there to load her in and take her up the hill.
GRANT: Once we got the doe back to the shop, we started the process of preparing the venison, and the first step in that process is removing the hide. If you’d like to see the technique I use to skin a deer, check out our next episode.
GRANT: Seeking fresh venison is just one way to get outside and enjoy Creation. No matter how you choose to get outside, I hope you take time every day and be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.