This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
ADAM: (Whispering) That’s July Johnson. That’s July Johnson.
GRANT: During Missouri’s gun season, Adam and Seth Harker took the Winchesters out to try to fill their tags.
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GRANT: Missouri’s firearm season runs for 11 days during the middle of November. This is a time, in our region, when the most does are receptive. If you happen to be where receptive does are moving, it could be incredible hunting.
GRANT: We got off to a successful start during firearms season, as my father tagged a coyote and a mature doe.
GRANT: As many of you know, my father’s battling cancer and I was with him while he was getting his third chemo infusion, while Adam was out trying to tag a buck.
ADAM: (Whispering) November the 18th here. November the 18th.
MATT: (Whispering) Coyote, coyote. Right here. Coyote. Coming around the bedding area.
ADAM: (Whispering) Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Turn on Go Pros. Turn on Go Pros. Hurry, hurry.
ADAM: I was doing my first interview of the morning, when we were interrupted.
ADAM: (Whispering) Do you want me to smoke him?
MATT: (Whispering) Yeah.
ADAM: (Whispering) Okay. You good?
ADAM: (Whispering) Where’s the other one?
ADAM: (Whispering) I’m all about being quiet, not talking loud, not making a lot of noise in the stand, but when one of those shows up, we’re taking him out.
GRANT: Nice shot, Adam. That’s one less fawn-nabbing, turkey-poult-eating coyote here at The Proving Grounds.
ADAM: (Whispering) One big doe and four fawns.
ADAM: (Whispering) They’re acting like they want to get the heck out of dodge.
ADAM: Well, we saw a few deer, this morning, but the wind speeds are really starting to pick up. It’s actually supposed to be gusting over 30 today. We figured the deer are gonna be bedded down by now, so we’re gonna go check out the coyote.
ADAM: Male. What smells so stinking bad?
ADAM: Actually, he wore its canines down. It’s got big, long canines but they’re wore down. Looks to be a little older, older coyote. Well, turkey poults and fawns ought to be happy. Actually, all wildlife ought to be happy, now. One less coyote to worry about.
ADAM: Even though we’re always on the lookout for a hit list buck, when a coyote gives us an opportunity, we’re not gonna pass it up.
GRANT: Two summers ago, Adam and a couple of our interns were at Raleigh’s Field, when July stepped out into the plot.
GRANT: We made the decision that July was a three and a half year old buck that year and would get a pass if we saw him that fall.
GRANT: Fast forward one year, almost to the week, and intern Kyle Karcher is in the same Redneck blind and sees July step out into the plot eating Eagle Seed forage soybeans.
GRANT: During the summer, we knew he was now mature and would be on our hit list.
GRANT: We knew from the trail cameras that July’s home range included a couple ridges here at The Proving Grounds. We had multiple stands and blinds in that area and we assumed if we hunted smart and spent our time, one of us would get a shot at July.
ADAM: The next morning, Daniel and I headed into a stand overlooking the north slope of a powerline. It’s one of my favorite places to hunt during the firearms season. You can cover a lot of ground, enter, hunt, and exit without alerting any deer.
ADAM: (Whispering) They don’t even know we’re on the planet.
ADAM: (Whispering) Southwest corner, walking in the woods.
DANIEL: (Whispering) He’s coming out of the timber.
ADAM: (Whispering) Yeah.
DANIEL: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
ADAM: (Whispering) All right. Get as much footage as you can now, ‘cause if he steps out, I’m shooting him before he gets in that grass.
ADAM: It was a beautiful morning. We were seeing a lot of deer, and after watching several deer on the far ridge, we noticed a buck move out, and after looking him over, we identified him as a buck we call July.
ADAM: (Whispering) Oh wow. That is him going straight through the, by that cedar, isn’t it?
DANIEL: (Whispering) Yeah.
ADAM: (Whispering) He’s really keeping his eye on something.
DANIEL: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
ADAM: We watched July move through the bedding area and down into the valley. He was definitely trailing something and we knew there was a great chance that he would cross the powerline in front of our stands.
ADAM: (Whispering) It’s amazing. They don’t even pay attention to orange vests.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Yeah.
ADAM: (Whispering) But in the spring, they could spot your bare skin like nothing.
ADAM: We continued to see deer throughout the remainder of the morning, but July never showed back up.
ADAM: (Whispering) Nice looking two and a half year old.
ADAM: (Whispering) 26. I wonder where, uh, July went.
ADAM: With cooler temperatures that afternoon, Daniel and I selected a plot we call Hidey Hole One and had hopes that deer would be feeding before dark.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
ADAM: (Whispering) I hear something on this hill right here by us, too.
ADAM: We heard the sounds of grunting and leaves crunching and caught antlers moving through the brush headed to the plot.
ADAM: (Whispering) Daniel. It might be July.
ADAM: (Whispering) I think it’s July.
ADAM: With all the thick cover, there’s just no way for Daniel and I to get the gun and the camera on the buck, so we have to let him go. But we do see a little glimpse of his antlers and realize it’s July.
ADAM: (Whispering) It was July.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Take the chance?
ADAM: Unable to get a shot, we have to watch this buck walk off, but we were hoping we’d get another crack at him soon.
ADAM: The next morning, Matt and I headed into a Redneck in North Boom food plot. This is just a great place to be with a southeast wind during the rut, so we had high expectations.
ADAM: Not long into the morning, the first deer fed across the food plot.
ADAM: The morning continued with just a few does crossing the back end of the food plot. However, it’s the rut, so we knew a mature buck could step out at any time.
ADAM: Just then, Matt notices a buck step out on the food plot, so we’re doing our best to figure out who he is.
ADAM: (Whispering) I don’t know who that is.
MATT: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
ADAM: (Whispering) No I don’t.
ADAM: (Whispering) Is it?
ADAM: (Whispering) That’s July Johnson. That’s July Johnson.
ADAM: After a few steps into the plot, we notice it’s July and it’s go time.
ADAM: (Whispering) Isn’t it?
ADAM: (Whispering) What do you think?
ADAM: We get the cameras rolling and the windows open, so now, we’re just waiting for the right angle to take the shot.
ADAM: (Whispering) Yeah. It’s a mature deer.
ADAM: (Whispering) Okay, buddy. You ready?
ADAM: (Whispering) Ready?
ADAM: Hit him, right?
MATT: Yeah. You’re good.
MATT: I think he’s getting ready to go down right there.
MATT: Oh, baby.
ADAM: You got him?
MATT: Yep. I think he went down right there. Got a good line right behind that cedar.
ADAM: (Inaudible) I kind of want – I mean, he was just feeding on the Broadside, so I kind of wanted to let him just…
ADAM: ..do his thing and get some footage. But he threw that head up and looked back, and you never know when a coyote, or…
MATT: Oh yeah. Absolutely.
ADAM: …something’s gonna show up. So I was like, “Oh gosh. Here we go with trying to stay calm and collected and not rush.” I wanted to let him get broadside, so I could punch it through both shoulders.
MATT: (Whispering) Yep.
ADAM: But seeing his head whip up and look back, I was more, uh, worried about something spooking him, so definitely hit. We’ll probably re-watch the footage.
MATT: A couple times.
ADAM: A couple times. (Laughter)
MATT: A couple 10 times, or something.
ADAM: He stepped out, and you said, “Adam, deer,” and I leaned out and looked through the, looked through the vertical window. I was like, “Yeah. That’s a big bodied deer.”
ADAM: He stepped out there and I looked, and I was like, “Are you kidding me? That’s July Johnson.”
ADAM: After having multiple encounters with July over the last couple of days, we finally sealed the deal.
MATT: Got him?
ADAM: He’s got, probably, I don’t know, eight inch tines, G2s; six inch G3s; but he’s mature. He’s got a big ole body on him. Big front shoulders – and I realized it was July. The rest is history. Oh man. What a great deer.
MATT: He’s got good (Inaudible).
MATT: You drag.
ADAM: You drag him, and I’ll just assist.
ADAM: Got him out in the food plot for a better look. You can see back behind me, the secret to our success. Of course, this is just a great travel corridor, but having the food plot here, we’ve got standing Eagle Seed soybeans – which is a little, light brown strips you can see back behind me – and we drilled right through it with Eagle Seed Broadside. So we’ve got greens and standing grains. It’s exactly why the buck was cruising through here – get a bite to eat before he went back to bed.
UNKNOWN: Give me five.
GRANT: I enjoyed hearing about these encounters and knowing Adam had closed a book on a great hit list buck.
ADAM: We’re always curious to see how well our equipment performed. This time, we’re gonna check out the Deer Season XP. Here’s the entry side. Not a lot of damage, small entry hole. But that bullet’s supposed to expand rapidly, so we’re gonna spin the deer around. Now that we spun it around, we’re looking at the exit side shoulder. Side of the body – you can see there’s a lot of trauma over here. Cut inside – here’s our bullet. Obviously, did its job. Went all the way through the deer, went through that front side shoulder, came over here and lodged in the very back side in the muscle of this shoulder.
GRANT: With all the traveling a buck will do during the rut, it’s important to ensure there’s high quality forage in the area. They need to regain weight, before the winter.
GRANT: Adam wasn’t the only one trying to write their final chapter on a hit list buck. Both Aaron Kicklighter and Seth Harker had seen good bucks earlier this year and felt they could close the deal come rifle season.
GRANT: Aaron did the right thing. When he got to the stand and knew the wind was wrong, he felt he’d put the odds in his favor and go somewhere else, even if it meant sitting on the ground.
AARON: (Whispering) Opening morning in Missouri rifle season. As you can see, we’re sitting on the ground this morning. Unfortunately, had a couple Summits setup here at the other end of this holler for north wind. Got down, got home late last night. Got in this morning, checked the wind, it was wrong. So we packed all the stuff back up, slipped around to the other end of this. South wind’s in our face, now. Kind of a bench come out of this holler here, leaning up to this sagegrass field. A lot of does been running up in there. Bumped a couple out a little bit ago, actually. So hopefully, that didn’t mess anything up. Uh, don’t like sitting on the ground, especially, in rifle season where I kind of get up where I can see a little farther, but got my old Model 70. See if we can’t let the wind out of a good one.
GRANT: Aaron played his hunch, as wise hunters often do, and moved over to watch a travel route.
AARON: (Whispering) Smoked him. Good buck.
GRANT: His hunch played out perfectly. During the rut, when mature bucks finish tending one doe, they often use travel routes to go seek another doe.
AARON: I can see the buck laying down here. I, uh, went back and got Aaron Harker. He’s gonna help me film my recovery. We’re gonna go down there, see exactly how big this dude is, get him drug up here to the truck. I think it’s the biggest deer I’ve ever killed. Uh, it’s gonna be close, either way. But good deer no matter what.
AARON: I could not be happier. Probably the biggest deer I’ve ever killed. Came right down this little bench running into a bedding area up here on this top in this field full of does this morning. He came around looking for does, and, uh, he saw him about 80 yards away. He got to, probably, 40 to 45, and, uh, put the old Winchester right through his shoulder and he didn’t even run 40 yards. Piled up, and it’s always a little bittersweet when you tag out opening day. Kinda anxious all year for these 10 days that we get here in Missouri to rifle hunt. But, uh, not gonna turn it down, by any means. Could not be happier.
GRANT: Good call, Aaron, and congratulations on a great buck.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) Oh, we’re getting good b-roll.
SETH: (Whispering) I wish the sun would go down, so I could see better.
SETH: (Whispering) What?
GRANT: A mature buck had showed up at a plot where Seth Harker had success during previous seasons.
GRANT: Seth and Chase had spent an afternoon watching this buck scent check the area from a distance, but they didn’t recognize him as one of their hit list bucks. Since Seth didn’t recognize the buck, he decided to name him the Bonus Buck.
GRANT: As the season progressed, Seth started chasing another buck he called Sub Zero.
GRANT: Normally, Chase White is Seth’s filming partner, but that day, Chase had to work and Seth wasn’t gonna miss a prime November afternoon for hunting.
SETH: (Whispering) Should be a great rut spot, because it’s November and it’s hot. So looking forward to tonight. I’d love to shoot one on a water hole. I’ve never shot a big buck on a water hole. Great evening. Six foot up a pine tree. Literally, six feet, maybe a little higher than six, but I’m not very tall, so. Pine tree’s about that big around, round. Summit’s tucked in here perfectly. My Prime is ready to kill a big buck. I’m ready to kill a big buck. Let’s do it tonight on a water hole.
GRANT: Anyone who’s packed all the gear and tried to self film a hunt knows how much work it is, but even worse feeling is if you self film a hunt, but missed a shot.
SETH: Go to auto. You already did.
SETH: Thanks, Chase.
SETH: Tell me when you’re ready.
SETH: If you’re watching this, you saw the interview where I was really excited about killing my first buck on a water hole, and we did arrow on a buck on a water hole. I was self filming, and, uh, for whatever reason, the record button didn’t get hit. Maybe I got a little flustered with the big deer. Um, this isn’t Hollywood, so there’s no take two. Um, it’s happened, um, but we’re gonna take up the trail.
CHASE: Look at that son of a gun.
SETH: Oh my gosh.
CHASE: He grew, now.
SETH: Oh, that’s a 150s.
CHASE: Oh my gosh. That’s a good buck, dude. Dude, he’s a truck. Look at that neck. That’s probably the biggest body, I bet that’s the biggest bodied deer. I mean…
SETH: What’s that son of a buck gonna score?
SETH: Well, this is a bittersweet evening. We’ve got a deer here we call Sub Zero on the ground. Um, it’s bittersweet, because we didn’t get it on film. I’m kind of at a loss for words, but here he is. I’m ecstatic that we found him. He’s a beautiful, beautiful buck. I am excited, but I am disappointed in the same breath. But this is a beautiful, magnificent buck for southern Missouri. These double brows are just, just awesome. What a stud.
TRACE: Looks like he switched horns with a different buck. (Laughter)
SETH: Give me some, Trace.
SETH: Man, I wish we’d of got that on film. (Inaudible)
GRANT: It was a great buck for Seth but he was down on himself for missing the filming opportunity.
GRANT: Seth is never down long, and when firearms season opened, he was ready to head out and try it again.
GRANT: A big weather front was pushing through, so Seth decided to head out and go after the Bonus Buck.
SETH: Just pulled into the property. It’s raining. Radar says it’s gonna slack off. When it does, we’re gonna get the buggy loaded. If it does, we’re gonna get the buggy loaded, go up and try to kill a rainy day buck.
GRANT: Seth and Chase were once again unable to team up, due to busy schedules, but Seth decided to put the odds in his favor this time and took along his Caldwell FieldPod, so he’d be ready if a buck appeared.
GRANT: He built a small makeshift blind out of grass clumps, which concealed him perfectly.
SETH: (Whispering) It’s November 16th, third day of rifle season. We’re sitting on a hidey hole food plot. It’s a rather large hidey hole food plot. It is in just an awesome spot. We’ve got bedding area all the way around us. We’ve got a perfect wind. This is where Trace killed his deer in youth season. And I’m back, because we keep getting southeast winds, and we don’t have a lot of stands set up for an easterly wind, so I’ve taken clumps of this native grass – or Indian grass, whatever you want to call it – and it just set perfectly right in front of me, so we’re kind of hidden here. It blows in the wind, so I can kind of move. I’m self filming, by the way. We’ve got the Winchester locked and loaded. We’ve got several shooter bucks here. The reason I’m on a food plot is because I’m self filming. If Chase was with me tonight, we’d be backed up trying to intercept a buck. Been raining, been nasty. They haven’t been able to come out and feed. So hopefully, one of these does is gonna drag a, one of our big shooters out, so ought to be an interesting night.
GRANT: Not long into the hunt, a few deer came into the plot.
GRANT: During this time of year, hunters know to be ready, especially, if there’s does in front of ‘em. But Seth wasn’t there long, until antlers busted out into the field.
GRANT: It’s the Bonus Buck and Seth moves quickly to get the buck in frame and get the gun ready.
SETH: (Quietly) That was fast action, but that was – I’m just sure of it. That was the buck we call Bonus, and I’m telling you right now, that’s right where he was standing when he was out of range for the Prime, but guess what? He wasn’t out of range for the Winchester 243. He wasn’t out of range for that. It was fast. I knew not to let him – knew not to let him get to dogging that doe too much. But, I seen her raise her head and it was game on. He came right over the crest. Yes. Yes. Yes. Back to our roots. Yes. Oh great. What a buck. Southern Missouri ridge runners. Awe-some! Wow, what a stud. Look at those magnum brows. Know this deer well. Winchester 243 laid this poor soul to rest. Oh man. Awesome. I can’t be more thrilled.
GRANT: The Bonus Buck is down, and this time, it’s on video.
GRANT: Nice job self filming, Seth. Congratulations on another fine buck.
GRANT: Trapping season opened recently here in Missouri and we busted out the Duke traps.
GRANT: With fur prices lower than they’ve been in decades, many trappers simply can’t afford to hit the field this fall. It’s gonna be up to us land managers to do the job of balancing predator and prey populations.
GRANT: We simply put them along our interior roads, as we know predators use these as travel routes almost every night. In addition, we can run this trap line without doing almost any disturbance to The Proving Grounds.
DANIEL: Duke cage traps work great, even during hunting season, because we can drop a few off on our road systems with minimal disturbance to the deer. We love to use tin cans to put our bait in. It keeps it dry and also is a curiosity factor, when it comes to those curious predators. We like to use fish food, or cat food, because it’s very cheap and it has a really fishy or meaty smell, which predators love. We like to take just a little of our bait and toss it across the road, and that allows a predator coming down the road to slow down and have a chance to smell the bait in our trap. Well, we know that predators love to travel roads searching for food at night. So we set our cage traps at a road intersection to double our chances of catching a predator searching for food.
DANIEL: We have a great location. We have our trail. We have our bait. I’m gonna throw the can in the trap and head on down the trap line.
GRANT: Trapping’s not only a great wildlife management tool, it’s a great family activity. Get yourself a couple of cage traps, some simple bait, take your kids out, and teach them about predator/prey relationships, and enjoy the value of fur. Not the money it brings, but tan ‘em out, have ‘em prepared, and they make great decorations, or gifts.
GRANT: (Whispering) I think it’s a shooter.
GRANT: Matt and I had the opportunity to hunt during the last couple of afternoons of Missouri’s firearm season…
GRANT: (Whispering) Can you find him, Matt?
GRANT: …and I got to tell you…
GRANT: (Whispering) Are you on him?
GRANT: …bucks can cross a powerline rapidly.
GRANT: (Whispering) Are you on him, Matt?
GRANT: (Whispering) If he stops, I’m gonna take him.
GRANT: (Whispering) You’re on him.
GRANT: (Whispering) Here we go, Matt.
GRANT: The leaves are off here at The Proving Grounds and it’s a great time to get outside and enjoy Creation, but no matter what time of year it is, take time each day, slow down, and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.
ADAM: I need to call one, nine – 195. Hold on. What is it?
MATT: Wait for the – wait for the spring to go all the way down.
UNKNOWN: Barely getting…
ADAM: Well, what’s it say, Kyle?