New Strategies For Hunting Old Bucks In The Early Season (Episode 506 Transcript)

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

DANIEL: It’s late summer and we’ve been shooting a lot preparing for deer season.

DANIEL: When we’re shooting out in our yard, there’s a lot of dust that’s flying over from the driveway that’s nearby. And with the yards being mowed once every week or so, there’s a lot of dirt and grime in the grass. And every time I lay my bow down to go fetch an arrow, it’s getting on my string.

DANIEL: About once every week or two, I’ll treat my string with a bow string cleaner to get all that dirt and grime off the string.

DANIEL: This increases the life of the string, keeps my bow performing at top notch and that way I’m ready for when that deer steps out.

DANIEL: It’s late summer and across most of the whitetails’ range, bucks have completed most of their antler growth.

DANIEL: For the next month or so antlers will still be in velvet, but they’ll be undergoing the hardening process.

DANIEL: Bucks are no longer transferring large amounts of protein to their antlers for new growth, but they’ve now switched to needing and transferring minerals, such as calcium and phosphorous, to help harden the antlers.

DANIEL: Because antler growth is nearly complete, many bucks are easy to identify by their unique antler characteristics.

DANIEL: This is a good time to be out scouting, but it’s a great time to really be diving in and studying trail camera pictures. By studying late summer movements, you can begin planning a hunting strategy for the early hunting season.

DANIEL: You may remember that last summer we had new buck show up and he had very unique antlers.

DANIEL: We shared a picture and video of him on our Instagram and Facebook pages and we asked what folks thought we should name him.

DANIEL: He had split tines and they resembled slingshots, so they all said we should name him “Slingshot.” And the name stuck.

DANIEL: We had several encounters with Slingshot last fall.

DANIEL: We’re thrilled that Slingshot survived the winter and we’re getting lots of pictures of him. And we can’t wait to chase him this fall.

DANIEL: Swoops is another buck that we’re paying really close attention to. We estimate Swoops is eight years old this year and we’ve had a lot of history with him.

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DANIEL: We’re looking at past trail camera pictures and this year’s to try to figure out how Swoops moves throughout The Proving Grounds and develop a hunting strategy.

DANIEL: During Missouri’s early archery season of 2015, Grant had the first encounter with Swoops at a food plot we call Big Boom.

GRANT: (Whispering) He’s that deer that’s got the real swooping forward tines, real bowed forward tines. Man, he’s eating like crazy. Oh my gosh.

DANIEL: We didn’t have another encounter with Swoops for several years. But we were getting a lot of pictures of him and we were really studying on how he moved throughout the property.

DANIEL: We thought we had him pegged down and sure enough, last fall during Missouri’s firearm season, Grant had another encounter with him at the Boom Pond Powerline.

GRANT: (Whispering) I’m gonna wait. There’s just a little bit of grass. I don’t want to deflect.

DANIEL: Grant knew that a single blade of grass could deflect a bullet, so he wisely gave him a pass.

DANIEL: We’ve learned through the years through observations and trail camera pictures that Swoops tends to spend his summer range on the southern portion of the property. And then somewhere at the end of September, mid-October, he shifts north to the Boomerang Ridge.

DANIEL: Throughout the years we’ve noticed that during hunting season, Swoops tends to make short trips back to the south, but then always comes back to Boomerang Ridge within a few days.

DANIEL: We believe that Swoops is the most vulnerable during the pre-rut, as most bucks are. They’re on their feet more hours out of the day trying to look for those first receptive does.

DANIEL: But we also believe that a chink in his armor is when he’s moving from the Boomerang Ridge to the south and back to the north.

DANIEL: Just the other day, Clay found another piece of the Swoops puzzle.

CLAY: Hey guys, we’re out walking today with the Missouri Department of Conservation looking at a few things on the property. And we were walking through this creek bed and we were just talking about finding some sheds that maybe have washed down over the years. And about five minutes later, I looked down and I found this.

CLAY: And I’m not 100% sure, but the way it looks, it looks like a deer we call Swoops. We’ve had a lot of history with him. Looks to be a few years old — still a pretty cool find.

DANIEL: Even though this shed is old and all chewed up, it gave us a lot of information on how Swoops is traveling between the two ridges.

DANIEL: Swoops usually falls off the grid and goes MIA several weeks during September. As Swoops travels to the south and back to the north, he’s crossing a ridge we call 50 Acre.

DANIEL: There are several stands of mature white oaks on 50 Acre Ridge and we believe those white oak acorns may be the reason Swoops goes MIA during September.

GRANT: When the rut kicks in, it seems Swoops settles down on Boomerang Ridge. But, that’s tough country to hunt.

GRANT: So this year I’ve got a strategy. I’m really looking at either early season on the south end or that two-week period of time when we don’t know exactly where he’s hanging out.

GRANT: This stand of mature white oaks right here is difficult to hunt because it’s on a slope. But it’s the perfect place Swoops could be cutting through and not detected by our trail cameras.

GRANT: We had jumping oak gall early on and many of the white oaks lost their leaves or got very stressed. We know we’re going to have a limited white oak acorn crop because that jumping oak gall. You find the white oak with a big full canopy, it’s likely to have some acorns. So, I believe any white oaks that are producing acorns during that period of time when Swoops has been missing in action, well, that could be like a hidey hole food plot. It’s a limited food source in the middle of a lot of timber.

GRANT: By this time of year, acorns of most species are large enough to spot with good binoculars. So, we’re just spending some time out here glassing up in the trees and trying to find two things: what species had a good crop that year; and where they are, especially if there’s not an even distribution.

GRANT: So that’s what we have this year at The Proving Grounds.

GRANT: So I’m out scouting, trying to find exactly which couple of trees have the most acorns, get a stand moved in here early on, wait for that period of time, move in, and hopefully have a great encounter with Swoops.

DANIEL: While we were out scouting for acorns, we also stopped by one of our food plots to see how the Eagle Seeds forage soybeans were doing.

GRANT: We are in a small food plot between a couple of primary ridges. And it’s critical we have a good food source here.

GRANT: Bucks cross here and before the acorns fall, this will be a primary feeding area. I gotta tell you, I am shocked at how well the Eagle Seed forage soybeans are doing.

GRANT: They’re probably three foot tall inside the wire basket. This is four foot tall wire, what we call a utilization cage. And outside, they’re about a foot tall, but making new leaves about as fast as a deer can browse.

GRANT: Inside the utilization cage, the leaves are bigger, much bigger on average, than outside where there’s constant browsing.

GRANT: If the whole field had beans this tall, there would be more pods produced. But as it is, it’s feeding deer. There’ll be a few pods produced and it will be easy to drill the Fall Buffalo Blend directly into this stand. By using that technique, we’ll never clean the table and those bucks can keep feeding here every day.

GRANT: I assist landowners every year that don’t have utilization cages in their plots. And sometimes they ask me, “How come my food plot isn’t doing too good? Gosh, look how short is.”

GRANT: Well, without a utilization cage, we don’t know for sure if there’s something wrong with the soil, or it’s too dry, or something else is going on. Or, more likely, the deer are simply browsing more than the plants can grow.

DANIEL: Several weeks ago, we shared that the summer interns were using the hack-and-squirt method to do a little timber stand improvement up on the Boomerang Ridge.

DANIEL: The interns were targeting sassafras. This morning I returned to the Boomerang Ridge to follow up on the recent hack-and-squirt project.

DANIEL: This area has historically been poorly managed. There’s been a lot of soil disturbance up on top of this ridge and sassafras is one species that comes back when the soil has been greatly disturbed.

DANIEL: When all those leaves were canopied up, it was blocking sunlight. You can see there’s really nothing growing underneath where these sassafras are.

DANIEL: We came through with a hatchet and a squirt bottle and terminated all these trees within just a few minutes.

DANIEL: That was just a few weeks ago and already, the leaves have turned brown or fallen off and the limbs are already very brittle.

DANIEL: There’s now a lot of sunlight reaching the forest floor. There’s going to be a lot of native grasses and forbs growing offering great cover and food for wildlife.

DANIEL: This week Grant and Rae are at the Aim Nationals. Everyone here at The Proving Grounds is wishing Rae and her trap shooting team the very best.

RAE: Pull.

GRANT: There you go.

DANIEL: If you know someone that’s already planning their hunting strategy for this fall or wants to improve their habitat, send them a link to our newsletter and have them subscribe.

DANIEL: Whether you’re out scouting for bucks or just enjoying a nice walk, I hope you take the time to enjoy Creation. But more importantly, I hope you slow down, and learn more about the Creator, and the purpose He has for your life.

DANIEL: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.