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GRANT: Archery season 2013 is just about to open here at The Proving Grounds, and we’re finished with most of our stand hanging and preparation. It’s all about patterning bucks for opening day.
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GRANT: We’ve been involved in a trail camera survey – kind of a scientific approach to actually monitoring how many bucks, does and fawns and the fawn to doe ratio and the age class of the bucks. But you can also use this same data for patterning deer for opening day.
GRANT: In areas where there’s a lot of row crops, typically guys pattern deer by riding the roads or just using the Nikons and watching big fields and seeing which corner field bucks are coming and going.
GRANT: For those of us that hunt in areas that are primarily timber, driving the road just reveals a bunch of trees going by. The best tool for patterning bucks where you don’t have great visibility is a trail camera. Paired with that trail camera, I want to use an attractant like a Trophy Rock and some Record Rack feed. Get the deer in that narrow area where the trail camera is monitoring.
GRANT: In Missouri, all grain must be gone ten days before you hunt the area. We’ll start hunting about September 15th, so we’re letting the rest of this be cleaned up by deer, squirrels and turkey. We can leave Trophy Rocks out year round and they’re a great attractant, so that helps us pattern deer.
GRANT: The biggest attractant coming here to The Proving Grounds and probably most areas that is timber, is gonna be acorns. So we’re scouting out our stands in White Oak Grove.
GRANT: A few years ago, one of our interns, Matt Dye, took a nice buck out of this stand. That year also had a heavy White Oak acorn crop, so when you’re in an all timber area, it really becomes a game of chasing acorns and knowing bedding areas versus where the acorns are, so you can get in between or dialed in on the acorns.
GRANT: Patterning starts with an inventory. You’ve got to know what you have before you can work on a pattern. So, we’ve been working on our inventory for a couple of days and we’ve got a buck in this area we call Perfecto 10.
GRANT: The strange thing about Perfecto 10 is we had a few pictures of him last year in August, and then he disappeared. We assumed he was killed by HD, Hemorrhagic Disease.
GRANT: This year Perfecto 10 has been photographed at this survey station which isn’t really far away from the White Oaks we’ll be hunting soon.
GRANT: It appears he’s had a little bit of a range shift as he’s got a year older; he’s certainly mature and got those four year old characteristics and we think Perfecto 10 might be a buck we can get a pattern on, given the White Oak acorns in his area.
ADAM: I’m not seeing any right there (inaudible).
ADAM: Some years we may have a late frost in the spring. Therefore, we won’t have any acorns in the fall. So that means that year we’re gonna have great hunting over our food plots. But on years like this year, from what it appears, we’re gonna have a large acorn crop which can make it very tough to pattern deer.
ADAM: Honestly, I think that trail’s down there on that end down there though. Alright, you walk that end, I’ll walk down here on this side.
GRANT: There’s a lot of bucks using this particular station, but one that really caught our eye in the last week or two, is a buck we call Two Face. Two Face is a buck that showed up late in November last year. He’s got a lot of characteristics with stickers coming off his bases, a torn ear and a personality that looks like he’s a roamer.
GRANT: Last year we were getting a lot of pictures of Two Face during the rut. So, maybe that’s the wild card that made him look like such a roamer. He’s a year older. Typically older bucks have smaller home ranges. We’re hoping we can get a solid pattern on Two Face this year. Since Two Face is a wild card, if we see any kind of pattern at all, he’ll rise rapidly to the top of our Hit List and we’ll focus our attention on this unique buck.
GRANT: The added year of maturity may mean a difference of Two Face going from a roamer to being dominate and staying in one area this year.
GRANT: The buck with the largest antlers we’ve got pictures of so far this year has been right here and we call him George Alexander. Of course George Alexander is the name of the royal baby over in England, and we use that name because this is the largest buck, but he appears only three years old.
GRANT: Remember, research has shown that on average, three year old bucks are expressing about 75% of their antler growth potential. Bucks usually express another 15% or so of their antler growth potential when they reach four years old. 15% of 150 inches adds a lot between three and four.
GRANT: By making the decision to give George a pass this year, not only does it allow him an opportunity to express more potential next year, but there might be a better growing season than the drought we experienced this year, but also, also allows him to make a contribution to the gene pool here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: I want to be very careful talking about genetics because it’s easy to get misconceptions. The whitetail research is very clear that whitetails are solitary breeders, or breed one doe at a time. They’re not harem animals like an elk. And what happens if you have a balanced adult sex ratio, most of the does become receptive more or less at the same time. So, while a buck is off with one doe tending her, other does are receptive and other bucks are tending them. It’s very difficult for any one buck to make much of a genetic contribution.
GRANT: George appears three right now, but I’ve known some research bucks in the past that went through a huge body shape change once they went from velvet antler to hard antler. The hormone change that goes through the body at that time of year can be significant, especially in some bucks, and if George comes out with a big huge chest and that neck drops all the way down to meet at the bottom of the chest, we’ll rack him up to four years old and the hunt will be on for Royal George.
ADAM: Nothing on those. That Black Oak’s got ‘em too.
GRANT: White Oaks have a lower level of tannic acid than Red Oaks. So when they fall they’re not as bitter and deer almost always prefer White Oak acorns over Red Oaks during the early season.
GRANT: Deer have been consuming White Oak acorns in timber country for hundreds of years and it’s an engrained pattern that’s not going to change, no matter what forage crop you’re growing. When White Oaks are falling, your hunting strategy had better be based around patterning deer, coming and going to the White Oaks or actually hunting in the White Oaks themselves.
GRANT: We have ten plus years of research of the deer herd here at The Proving Grounds. Our Reconyx cameras have been a huge part of that ongoing research. You don’t have to be involved in research to benefit from using trail cameras. They are a great way to pattern mature deer and do it in a way that has minimal disturbance to their home range.
GRANT: Whether you hunt an ag area and you’re spending your time with optics watching deer come and go out of bean fields or you’re trying to chase acorns as we are here at The Proving Grounds, I hope you take a little bit of time to reflect on Creation and take some time to see what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.
ADAM: (Whistling) Did you see that when I first whistled, it was like ……came storming across?