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>> GRANT: Pro Staffer Lindsey Martin recently tagged a wide Arkansas buck. But Lindsey’s hunt, well it wasn’t what I would call normal. It had a very unique ending.

>> LINDSEY: Look at that.

>> GRANT: Lindsey and her husband, Heath, have worked hard to improve the habitat and hunting opportunities, including working with their food plots to improve the soil’s health and make them more productive.

>> GRANT: Lindsey certainly reaped the rewards of her portion of this work as she’s tagged several great gobblers and bucks through the years.

>> GRANT: During the summer of 2019, Heath and Lindsey started working for that fall season, and one of their projects was mounting a Redneck Blind to a trailer so they could move the blind for wherever the conditions were best for their upcoming hunt.

>> GRANT: One of their projects was moving this blind into a location where they hoped to tag a buck they named Squiggles.

>> GRANT: Unfortunately, right at that time Squiggles shifted to using a different portion of his home range, but Heath was able to tag that good buck out of another blind.

>> GRANT: As Heath and Lindsey have worked to improve the habitat, their deer herd has also improved in quality and in quantity. They’re seeing a lot of deer at the family farm.

>> GRANT: As a good landowner and habitat manager, Lindsey knows it’s important not only to provide quality habitat but to balance the deer herd so that there’s not more deer than the habitat can produce quality food and cover. And with that in mind after all these improvements and knowing the deer herd has increased, it was time for Lindsey to grab a muzzleloader and head out and try to take a couple of does.

>> GRANT: Of course, Lindsey wouldn’t pass a good buck – she had a tag in her pocket. But she knew it was time to take some does and put some venison in the freezer.

>> LINDSEY: [Whispering] Are you on her?

>> LINDSEY: I’ll take that for a first opener of the season.

>> GRANT: Lindsey was committed because after tagging the first doe, she went back out looking for another.

>> LINDSEY: Second doe for the year.

>> GRANT: Once Lindsey had made some good progress toward her management goals and had venison in the freezer, she started looking for a mature buck. She’d seen several great younger bucks but not a buck she’d want to put a tag on.

>> GRANT: Arkansas’ muzzleloader season closed without Lindsey putting a tag on a mature buck.

>> GRANT: During the next few weeks, Heath and Lindsey continued hunting.

>> GRANT: During one of the hunts, Heath and Linsey hunted from the Redneck blind they had mounted on a trailer and had it positioned overlooking a food plot.

>> GRANT: Heath had put a decoy out hoping to pique the interest of a mature buck in the area.

>> GRANT: It wasn’t long into their hunt when a good-looking, younger buck walked into their setup and circled that decoy.

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>> GRANT: That was a really cool encounter, but a mature buck didn’t show.

>> GRANT: During Arkansas’ firearms season, Lindsey was happy to have her Winchester in hand and headed back out to that trailer blind overlooking the southern plot on December 4th.

>> LINDSEY: [Quietly] We’ve selected this stand. One, because we have a northwest wind, which a lot of our stands are not set up for, but probably more importantly we’re having Reconyx photos of about two or three or maybe from four mature bucks that have been using the property pretty consistently – several in daylight. And so we’re gonna set up here for the afternoon.

>> LINDSEY: [Quietly] We’ve got a cold front. This should have the bucks on their feet – all the deer on their feet – for the afternoon. It’s a really pretty day after several days of drizzle. So we’re hoping we’re gonna get in the action.

>> GRANT: One of the mature bucks that has been active on the southern portion of their farm was a big, wide eight-pointer they named Frank.

>> GRANT: It was early during their hunt when a good-looking, immature buck entered the plot and started feeding on the Eagle Seed Blend.

>> GRANT: This buck showed a lot of potential, and Lindsey held off thinking Frank might show.

>> GRANT: But unfortunately, the mature eight-pointer never did.

>> GRANT: There was a lot of sign around the southern plot. Deer were targeting the brassicas in the blend, so Heath and Lindsey returned the next afternoon.

>> GRANT: Sure enough, deer started entering the plot and feeding.

>> GRANT: As light faded, Lindsey spotted antlers through the grass.

>> HEATH: [Whispering] Do you see him? Over there [indiscernible].

>> GRANT: It was Frank.

>> HEATH: [Whispering] Do you see him?

>> LINDSEY: [Whispering] I see him, baby.

>> HEATH: [Whispering] [Indiscernible]

>> GRANT: Unfortunately, the tall vegetation blocked the buck’s vitals, and Lindsey wisely held off.

>> HEATH: [Whispering] There’s a lot of grass there. Can you see him good? [Indiscernible]

>> GRANT: Frank eased over the slope and out of sight.

>> HEATH: [Whispering] [Indiscernible].

>> LINDSEY: [Whispering] I can’t see him now.

>> GRANT: I know a lot of y’all are thinking, “Lindsey, you should’ve shot that bullet right through that grass! I mean you got a big, powerful bullet, and it’s just a little grass.” We’ve had those comments before on other hunts. But some folks don’t realize just a small amount of vegetation can cause a bullet or arrow to deflect.

>> GRANT: You take something moving fast, even a muzzleloader bullet, and it hits anything – just a small change can result in a miss or even worse, wounding the animal.

>> GRANT: I applaud Lindsey’s maturity. She’s a good hunter and knows that Frank wasn’t disturbed. He just eased out of the area and he’s likely to come back.

>> GRANT: The next day Heath and Lindsey decided to move the Redneck on the trailer to the other side of the plot where they could clearly see the area Frank had been using.

>> GRANT: That afternoon they returned to the blind to see if Frank or another mature buck would be feeding in the plot.

>> GRANT: Once again, it wasn’t long until Lindsey spotted a wide set of antlers through the grass.

>> LINDSEY: [Whispering] Oh, he’s coming in. He’s almost at the food plot.

>> HEATH: [Whispering] [Indiscernible]

>> LINDSEY: [Whispering] You want to stop him?

>> HEATH: [Whispering] Yep.

>> HEATH: [Whispering] Wait, wait, wait, wait. All right take your time.

>> HEATH: [Whispering] Nice!

>> HEATH: [Whispering] You got to be kidding me.

>> LINDSEY: [Whispering] Oh, that is awesome! Thank you for moving my blind.

>> LINDSEY: [Whispering] So, I feel like it’s been a long time coming to this stage. But we got this blind and set it up on this trailer in – last year – the summer of 2019. I remember when we were building it.

>> LINDSEY: [Whispering] But this year – this late season – we’ve started getting game camera pictures of Frank. And so the last two days, as you saw,- we were set up on top of this hill because that’s where we had been getting some pictures. But all of a sudden, patterns changed.

>> LINDSEY: [Whispering] And the thing about this food plot is these deer come from every direction. We’ve seen Frank come in yesterday from the side of the hill. Today we saw him come in from the side by the pond.

>> LINDSEY: [Whispering] So, deer come in here from all directions. And we realized that at the top of that hill we were really limited at when the deer were coming in end of the evening, and we couldn’t get shots of ‘em.

>> LINDSEY: [Whispering] So at 11 o’clock today, we pulled that blind from the top of the hill back to down here beside another fence gap, and we thought we’re gonna see what they do. And lo and behold, Frank didn’t have a problem with it, so we sat here, and we got a shot at him. So it’s been an awesome hunt. This is an awesome story with this beautiful footage.

>> LINDSEY: All right! Let’s go take the fun stroll across the food plot and find us a deer.

>> LINDSEY: Here he is.

>> LINDSEY: Look at that. He’s down.

>> GRANT: When Lindsey walked up to the buck, one of his antlers was laying on the ground.

>> GRANT: Frank likely had a brain abscess, and the bacteria and their byproducts eroded the skull enough that when Frank hit the ground, the antler broke off, including a bit of skull with it.

>> LINDSEY: He gave me a great shot; a really fun hunt. It’s been really fun hunting this deer over the past couple of days, so super proud to have him down.

>> GRANT: Well done, Lindsey. You’ve had another great season with lots of venison for the freezer and another set of big antlers to put on the wall.

>> LINDSEY: Ready?

>> GRANT: The success of Lindsey’s hunt was a result of implementing a good habitat improvement and hunting strategy plan.

>> GRANT: One of the key factors to the success of this hunt was the decision and willingness to move the Redneck trailer blind to a different portion of the field.

>> GRANT: Making decisions based on accurate MRI – most recent information – often results in fresh venison and antlers for the wall.

>> GRANT: A question we commonly receive is, “How many days should you wait after moving a blind to a location to hunt from?“

>> GRANT: There’s a couple of variables there. If you’re rifle hunting like Lindsey and you’re moving it several yards away – 100 yards away or something like that – if you didn’t alert deer when you were moving the blind, you can hunt it that day or the next day. It’s just something sitting there like a round bale of hay or maybe a tree fell down or something like that.

>> GRANT: But if you’re bow hunting, well that’s a different story. You’re moving something in to where you think deer are gonna be 20 or 30 yards away. They’re gonna be pretty alert when they see something that big sitting there that they haven’t seen the past few days.

>> GRANT: Lindsey’s hunt provides a great opportunity to talk about brain abscesses and deer.

>> GRANT: Now brain abscesses are much more common in bucks than in does. And that’s because of the rutting activities – fighting, rubbing. All those things that go on around the antlers provide a really good opportunity for something to poke through and puncture the skin allowing bacteria to start growing right next to the skull.

>> GRANT: Some species of bacteria are much more likely to result in a brain abscess than others. So, there’s been a puncture in the hide; the antlers had some dirt on it or wood on it or something had this bacteria. And it’s now put right in there – injected if you will – right next to the skull.

>> GRANT: And these species of bacteria that commonly result in a brain abscess, they start multiplying and growing in that warm, moist environment, and they can either eat on the skull or their byproducts are kind of acidic. And they cause erosion or pitting of that skull right around the antler, weakens it, and the antler can break off relatively easily.

>> GRANT: If it was a pretty severe injury and somehow maybe through fighting or something the bones of the skull – there’s multiple bones in the skull [you see those little suture lines] – gets spread enough that that bacteria can get inside the brain case, well if it penetrates the lining around the brain, it often results in that deer dying.

>> GRANT: Seeing how easy this antler broke off that time of year and that some of the skull was attached to the base of the antler and that there was pus in the wound, well, that’s a really good indication this deer lost that antler due to a brain abscess.

>> GRANT: Another question we commonly receive when people harvest a deer and it’s got an injury on the leg or on the head and they see some pus or smell something that’s a little bit off, “Hey, is the meat okay to eat?”

>> GRANT: Well that’s a tough question to answer. But most of the time if that’s a localized infection like a brain abscess – it’s not systemic or going through the whole body – the meat will be fine.

>> GRANT: It’s always best to use your own judgement. You know if the meat looks good, feels good, and smells good, it’s probably just fine to consume.

>> GRANT: We’re not long from shed hunting season, and when you find sheds, I always look at ‘em and see if it looks like the antler fell off cleanly or if there’s some of the skull attached. If you’ve got some skull attached, that buck probably had a brain abscess, and depending on how big that wound is – how much skull is attached – that deer may or may not be around next season. If he is around – it’s just a bit of bone in there – it’s not too bad; it likely will be non-typical on that side.

>> GRANT: I’m glad Lindsey closed the final chapter on Frank and shared the story with us.

>> GRANT: I really enjoy the New Year season, not staying up late and doing a bunch of crazy things, but rather taking some time to reflect on the past year or so and figuring out what I’d like to improve the coming years. Not only, “Hey I want to do this or that” but also the steps I need to take to make sure I can make those improvements.

>> GRANT: One of the things I’ll include on my list every year is spending plenty of time outside and enjoying Creation. But more importantly I hope we all commit to taking time every day and being quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to us.

>> GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.