Jumping The String | New Research To Improve Bow Hunting Success (Episode 462 Transcript)

This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.

GRANT: The entire GrowingDeer Team has been hitting the woods trying to put some fresh venison in the freezer.

GRANT: Pro Staffer Chase White and his son, Rylan, have been hunting also.

GRANT: Rylan has shot several deer over the years.

GRANT: This year, Rylan wanted to try to take a deer with his crossbow during archery season. Recently, Chase and Rylan headed to a field where lots of deer have been feeding; got settled in and, yeah, they saw a lot of deer.

GRANT: One of ‘em was a nice buck.

GRANT: The buck never made it within Rylan’s range, but a little bit later, a doe stepped out at 30 yards.

RYLAN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)

CHASE: (Whispering) Yeah, but the second – in between the second and third one. Make sure you aim a little bit low because she’s gonna drop. Okay? Whenever you’re ready. Wait. She’s quartering away now.

GRANT: The doe seemed calm; had her head down feeding…

CHASE: (Whispering) There she is.

GRANT: …so Rylan took the shot.

GRANT: Unfortunately, it was a miss. Hey, that’s happened to all of us. But the miss didn’t deter Rylan.

RYLAN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)

GRANT: The next day, Chase decided to change his setup. He noticed there was an oak out in the middle of the field that was dropping lots of acorns and deer were feeding in that area. So, he put a couple Summits in the oak hoping for another shot.

CHASE: We came in this morning; we’ve made a new set right here in the tree in the middle of the food plot. It’s risky, but we’ve got a great wind for tonight. This may be the only night we get to sit it, but we’ve got a good northeast wind and the deer have been going between this tree and the property line which is about 40 yards in front of me. If they keep doing what they’ve done the last two times we’ve sit here, we should have a good opportunity.

GRANT: That afternoon, Chase and Rylan headed to the oak and got set up.

GRANT: It seemed like a good plan and deer were coming their way.

GRANT: A doe worked her way under the tree but didn’t offer Rylan a shot.

GRANT: Finally, she drifted out from under the limbs and Rylan had an opportunity.

GRANT: Based on the shot placement, Chase and Rylan wisely decided to wait a few hours before taking up the trail.

CHASE: What do you think about that? Good job, brother. Proud of you. Love you.

RYLAN: Love you, too. Thanks for taking the time to (Inaudible).

CHASE: Yeah. (Inaudible)

GRANT: Great job, Rylan. Good strategy and you put fresh venison in the freezer for your family. I’m proud of you.

GRANT: There are several easy lessons from Chase and Rylan’s hunt. First, they used MRI – most recent information. They set at the edge of the field, noticed the pattern, changed – and the next day, it paid off.

GRANT: Second – during Rylan’s first hunt, when you play it in real time, it seems it was just a miss. But when you slow it down frame by frame, you see that the doe actually dropped several inches and rolled away from the sound of the bow.

GRANT: Reviewing Rylan’s shot at that first doe, well, it tells me this is the perfect time to share with y’all some research we did this summer.

ANNOUNCER: GrowingDeer is brought to you by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. Also by Reconyx, Trophy Rock, Eagle Seed, Nikon, Winchester, LaCrosse Footwear, Flatwood Natives, Morrell Targets, Non-Typical Wildlife Solutions, Hook’s Custom Calls, Montana Decoys, Summit Treestands, Drake Non-Typical Clothing, RTP Outdoors, Yamaha, Fourth Arrow, ScentCrusher, iSCOPE, Mossy Oak Properties of the Heartland, Hunter’s Blend Coffee, Motorola Lighting Solutions, Scorpion Venom Archery, Code Blue, D/Code, G5 Broadheads, Prime Bows, and Redneck Hunting Blinds.

GRANT: For years I’ve noticed that some deer, at the shot of a bow, will drop and get out of Dallas before the arrow gets there. Those observations caused me to ask a lot of questions and do some research this summer on what’s happening when a deer ducks before the arrow gets there.

GRANT: One of the advantages of filming archery hunts is the ability to watch the shot – frame by frame in slow motion. We’ve noticed there’s usually a delay between when the arrow was shot and the deer starts to react.

GRANT: Often, it seems, the arrow is halfway to the deer before it starts to react. It’s almost impossible for hunters to notice this when they’re taking the shot.

GRANT: After years of watching this, I finally asked for professional assistance to understand what was going on. I made this request on GrowingDeer right here at the front of the barnwall and Darren Cummings, an engineer and bow hunter from Pennsylvania, responded.

GRANT: Darren used his engineering and bow hunting skills to help us design some research to figure out what was happening.

GRANT: After watching several video clips of deer reacting to a shot, Darren developed a machine – a one-of-a-kind – to help us test some theories and illustrate what’s happening when deer react to a shot.

GRANT: Darren’s machine included a sensitive mic that could detect when a bow is shot. It then used the speed of sound to calculate the time between when the bow was shot / the arrow was released; and the arrow reached targets, or deer, at 20, 30, and 40 yards.

GRANT: The science goes much further. Darren used the reaction time of Olympic sprinters to estimate how much time it would take once the sound reaches the deer for them to start responding. Then, we used the speed of gravity to determine how fast a deer should drop.

GRANT: Now remember – deer are not connected to the ground. They can’t pull theirselves down. So, they’re dropping at the speed of gravity.

GRANT: After a lot of testing and reconfiguring and programming, and all those engineering things, it was time to bring Darren and the machine to The Proving Grounds and do some research.

GRANT: To help us with this research, our friends at Redneck Blinds loaned us their producer who has a super-cool, high-speed camera.

GRANT: Once all the equipment and players were in place, it was time to test. During the first day of our field work, I reduced the weight of my bow to where it was shooting an arrow at 258 feet a second. As another benchmark, intern Luke from Virginia was shooting an 80-pound bow and it was shootin’ 306 feet a second. As a bow hunter, the results of this research were eye opening.

DARREN: Yeah, so you would expect at 20 yards, if the balloon drops two inches, then at 40, it would drop four. But that’s not the case – it may drop eight or 16. And the reason for that is because gravity accelerates the balloon the longer it has to act upon it.

GRANT: Yeah. So, we can get away with some boo-boos at 20 yards that would not happen at 40 yards. if the deer is responding to the shot because they have more time and, actually, they’re dropping faster now…

GRANT: I’m good. I’ll be the first one to get embarrassed here.

UNKNOWN: Let’s try the table.

GRANT: Man, I gotta tell ya, this is eye opening. I’ve been an archer for decades. I was about center of the balloon, but it dropped, so my arrow went right on top of the balloon. Probably would have been a spine or a high shot. This is the reason we always aim low.

DARREN: This one’s bigger, but it doesn’t have quite as much water.

GRANT: As a brief summary – using my bow, shooting at 258 feet a second, a deer could drop two and a half inches. I was shocked. I never see that while I’m hunting.

GRANT: At 30 yards, a deer could drop six inches and at 40 yards – 10 plus inches. Depending on where you were aiming, the deer could literally drop where the arrow got to the deer after it dropped out of the way.

GRANT: Even with Luke’s 80-pound bow, the deer could easily drop almost five inches before the arrow got to the 40-yard target.

GRANT: We planned on airing these and more detailed results after the first day. But, when we were compiling the data and reviewing the footage, we realized we could improve our research.

GRANT: We scheduled another day and in between added stakes every five yards.

GRANT: And with side view cameras, we could really get a measure on how far the arrow was before deer started dropping. With Tyler’s setup, shooting about 270 feet per second, we were surprised that the arrow made it about halfway to the balloon or the target at each 20, 30 and 40 yards.

GRANT: You may question why it made it halfway at 20 and 40, but remember, it takes longer for the speed of sound to get to 40 yards than it does 20 yards, so the arrow has more time to travel before the deer can possibly react.

GRANT: Wanting to push the limits a little bit more, we added a crossbow to round 2.

GRANT: After reviewing a lot of video clips of hunters shooting a deer in the field and having fun doing our research, we came away with a lot of observations and conclusions. We know that some deer react to shots and others don’t.

GRANT: We suspect this has to do with how alert deer are. And we know from research that deer that feel more pressure are more alert, more vigilant, than deer that aren’t. For example, research has shown that elk in areas where wolves are, are much more vigilant more minutes out of the day than elk in areas where wolves are not present.

GRANT: Most bows on the market shoot 260 to 310 feet per second. And at these speeds, deer are likely to drop some, or a lot, at 20, 30 and 40 yards.

GRANT: During our research, we shot bows and a crossbow with speeds of 258 to 315 feet per second.

GRANT: Following is a graphic that shows how many inches deer can drop at these speeds at 20, 30 and 40 yards.

GRANT: Our team come up with a list of practical, applicable, in the field take-aways from this work. Not all deer dropped. But it’s impossible to predict which deer will. So, all shot opportunities should be evaluated based on the assumption that deer will react to the sound of the bow.

GRANT: Most hunting bows and crossbows are not fast enough to hit a deer in the vitals if at 40 yards it reacts to its full potential. All shots at deer should be aimed at the bottom third of the vitals.

GRANT: That way, if they do react, you have a safety buffer.

GRANT: All the GrowingDeer Team members practice with their bows a lot. But now, after doing this research, we all prefer a 20 yard or closer shot.

GRANT: We’ll take 30-yard shots at deer that we evaluate to be calm. We will very carefully evaluate 40-yard shots but probably pass most of ‘em.

GRANT: We’ll continue practicing and suggest you do also at distances greater than 40 yards so we’re very accurate at 30 yards.

GRANT: While reviewing a lot of footage to prepare for this research, we noticed – and it appears – that deer with their head down can drop their vitals faster than deer with their head up. We believe an accurate explanation is that when a deer has its head up, it can’t drop any faster than the speed of gravity. It can’t grab the ground and pull itself down any faster than our balloon was dropping.

GRANT: When a deer has its head down and it hears something that alerts it and it wants to get out of Dallas, it throws its head up which probably serves as leverage to push the chest down. The muscles can react faster than the speed of gravity.

GRANT: I remember a hunt years ago when I was in Georgia. Some does had come in behind the stand and were very alert. One of them finally passed the stand and started feeding in a plot. I waited until I thought she was calm. She was about 20 yards away.

GRANT: I quietly pulled back and took the shot. I was shocked when my arrow sailed over the deer and we reviewed the footage and saw dust come up because it appeared her chest went all the way to the ground.

GRANT: If deer are alert, be very careful about taking any shot.

GRANT: We know that humans are extremely visual. And we often detect any source of danger or threat visually. Every hunter knows that deer are constantly using their nose and their sense of hearing to detect danger.

GRANT: But deer – even when their head is down – their sense of smell and sense of hearing is probably fully engaged.

GRANT: I used to wait for shot opportunities when the deer had their head down. But after going through this research, I will probably avoid all those shots and wait for an opportunity when the deer’s head is up.

GRANT: With that said, I don’t plan on alerting the deer to get it to pick its head up. If I alert the deer, it’s gonna focus in on me and might detect the movement of getting ready for the shot and react even quicker.

GRANT: If a deer is passing by in close range, I’ll probably grunt or make just a little mouse squeak after I’m at full draw and ready to launch the arrow. I just want to stop the deer and shoot at that instant.

GRANT: We doubt deer recognize the sound of a bow going off as danger. We think they’re simply reacting to a strange noise and doing what deer do best – avoiding danger by dropping; locking their legs; and sprinting out of the area.

GRANT: Through the years, I’ve noticed this independent of the distance a deer is from the shot; or the brand of bow; arrow; broadhead; or whether you’re using lighted nocks or regular nocks.

GRANT: Each year – even before this research – I received lots of questions from hunters throughout the whitetails’ range wondering if the lighted nocks are causing deer to drop and rock out of the area.

GRANT: Again, we went back to our footage library and noticed that deer were dropping before we started using lighted nocks.

GRANT: The speed, or the reaction time, seemed to be the same with lighted nocks or without lighted nocks. This is even more evidence that deer are reacting to the sound of the bow being shot.

GRANT: The process of reviewing lots of video footage of deer reacting to shots, going through the research, and evaluating the results, has caused me to change how I will evaluate each shot opportunity.

GRANT: We hope all bow hunters will use this work to understand more about how fast deer can react to shots and make better shot evaluations.

GRANT: One of the next phases of this work is trying to understand if different levels of noise, more decibels, cause different reactions.

GRANT: If you’re a sound engineer and you’re really into this – maybe you’ve got a studio that can accurately measure different sounds – reach out to us at info@growingdeer.com.

GRANT: I really enjoyed working on this research project, as I have all of ‘em I’ve completed throughout my career. I love learning about Creation. But more importantly, I need to make sure I take time every day to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to me. I hope you do the same.

GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.

GRANT: If you’d like to stay current on our research projects or our hunting and management techniques, please subscribe to GrowingDeer’s newsletter.

GRANT: We’re doing an illustration of how deer could react to a bow shot. I’m aiming dead center. This is dropping. This clip was holding the balloon. You can see my arrow got there a little bit late ‘cause I zeroed the clip.