Scouting A New Stand Location: Thermals, Scent Trails, Access (Episode 507 Transcript)

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

GRANT: It’s late summer, and it’s a great time to put some boots on the ground and be finding new stand and blind locations.

GRANT: Going to do a little scouting this morning. We’re on the north side of a ridge we call Boomerang. And we’ve had many hunts out of the Redneck up there and often see deer right here at the bottom in the morning, typically coming out of this side crossing through timber in the afternoon going back.

GRANT: There’s about an eight-acre food plot down here about a quarter mile we call Crabapple. So, we’re thinking for a bow stand we can get in this timber right here and find a place where they’re bottlenecked around a ditch or ravine or something and have a great bow stand for the early season. We’ve got to find just the right spot, but I believe this could be an extremely productive bow stand. Let’s take a walk.

GRANT: Scouting this time of year doesn’t necessarily mean looking for sign. It may mean scouting areas you’ve seen deer pass through during previous seasons.

GRANT: For several years we’ve hunted this location during Missouri’s firearm season out of a Redneck Blind and seen a lot of deer cross that easement.

GRANT: It probably looks like I’m walking on a groomed trail. This is actually a firebreak. We’ve prepared a firebreak on both sides of this powerline right-of-way. We plan on burning it as soon as it gets dry enough during the late summer/early fall.

GRANT: A prescribed fire will serve a couple really important missions on this vegetation. First, we’ll take this mature vegetation and take it back to new growth. It’s like a food plot running all up and down through here, and we can capitalize on that even for bow hunting.

GRANT: By using prescribed fire, this goes from just an area deer cross to an area they’re attracted to.

GRANT: You may recall last year I passed a shot on a mature buck we call Swoops in a right-of-way similar to this because there was grass covering the kill zone. Using prescribed fire will take that down, and get rid of that tall stuff, and have a clear shot the length of the right-of-way.

GRANT: Right-of-ways are an easy place to do a prescribed fire. It’s easy to control.

GRANT: Now, I wouldn’t want to do a fire that had really heavy smoke because heavy, moist smoke can conduct electricity and you don’t want that big powerline zipping down to the ground. But this is really light fuel; it’s going to put off a really light smoke. We’ve done this before and never had a situation where the electricity left the line and arced to the ground.

GRANT: I need to share one added precaution. We’re burning fuel, and that fuel is probably going around any power poles, wooden power poles, in the line.

GRANT: So, take some time before the fire; get all the fuel away from several feet around each power pole. You don’t want to scar that poll and cause a bunch of people to possibly be out of power down the line.

GRANT: When hunting large blocks of timber finding a bottleneck can be difficult, but if you do find a bottleneck it can be the key to a successful hunt.

GRANT: And I can see this is super steep. Of course, the deer could cross it, but why when just a few yards up here it comes to a head, and they can cross it easy? I mean, I would rather walk up here and go around than cross that.

GRANT: So, I’m hoping we see some deer tracks. I’ve been looking in this fire break. Of course, it’s fresh dirt, haven’t seen any deer tracks. I’m hoping we start picking ‘em up here about 30 yards ahead.

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GRANT: I define a bottleneck as anything that influences deer movement into a known, relatively small area. In the past, we’ve shared how we use small hidey hole food plots to influence deer movement in the middle of large blocks of timber.

GRANT: (Whispering) Perfect. Perfect.

GRANT: We’ve also shared how a landscape feature such as a cliff or deep gulley can influence deer movement and, in fact, that’s what we were looking for in this location.

GRANT: But this is a bottleneck, a great bottleneck, because there’s a trail coming down that here – but what I love about right here if we can find a tree there’s – there’s (Inaudible) right here. But our scent is going to drop right in this low spot, right here. Super excited about this.

GRANT: Here in the Ozark Mountains where deer pretty much go wherever they want, and the soil is extremely rocky, finding a worn trail is heavy sign.

GRANT: There’s another trail right here, guys. There are three trails, there, there and here that pour in right here – coming off this flat right here. A lot of deer are using this.

GRANT: Finding several worn trails got me really excited and I instantly started looking for a suitable tree to put up a stand.

GRANT: I’m going to go up here on this flat and just peak in here. We’re far enough before season…

GRANT: Oh yeah, they’re gonna – look at this. They’re going to cross right here. Look at that – look at this ditch right here.


GRANT: Yeah. See that whole flat bottlenecks. That whole big area, beautiful area they’re feeding on, red oak and white oak and coming out of Crabapple food plot. Bottleneck is right here.

GRANT: This type of location – about three quarters down the slope or even closer to the creek bottom – has worked well for the GrowingDeer Team many times in the past. And it’s all based on thermals rushing downhill and being low enough the predominant wind isn’t impacting a scent.

GRANT: One of the most important things about picking a tree stand site – or a blind site – is: what is the wind going to do when you’re hunting it? So, worst case scenario we’re in August, it’s hot, it’s humid, I’m sweating, it’s 10:00 a.m. in the morning – most hunts are about over.

GRANT: Look at that. Going right down this ditch just like we talked about. This is an old, old erosion ditch probably 50/60 years old when this land was cleared. It’s going to suck right in that ditch until the sun gets high enough. Because we’re on the north slope here we’re going to stay in the shade much longer in the morning than the south slope or a slope facing east. This is – there are many, many advantages to this stand. I feel confident we’ll tag right here.

GRANT: Another advantage to this location is the stand is pretty far down the slope, about three-quarters of the way down. And that means even if there’s a strong wind out of the north – which you might think would push our scent up the hill – it’s doubtful it’s going to get that far down the valley because the ridge just to the north of this is going to cut off that wind. We’re down in the valley and the thermals will dominant all but the strongest winds.

GRANT: A few yards either side and our scent would generically go downhill but it wouldn’t have a lower point to find and would probably cover a much bigger area.

GRANT: But right here, we can accurately predict where our scent is going and thread the needle because we’ve got a narrow band of a scent trail and the deer have the rest of the area to pass by us and not know we’re in their home range.

GRANT: When hunting with a firearm we’d probably still prefer to be on the powerline where we can cover a couple hundred yards. But for bow hunting during the pre-rut and during the rut this is a tremendous location.

GRANT: On a cool morning during the pre-rut or rut, bucks often travel low on a ridge slope, so the thermals are bringing the scent of any receptive doe down to them.

GRANT: We found an old scrape over here just a little bit while we were scouting this area and bucks are gonna bottleneck right around this really steep ditch. So, we’ll actually have a pinch point that forces deer for 100 or more yards right in an area. And that’s critical when you’re hunting in big timber.

GRANT: Another characteristic that makes this a great setup is that we can approach, hunt, and exit without alerting deer in the area.

GRANT: We will create an entry path right up the erosion ditch where the stand is at the head of it. So, we’ll go up that ditch out of view, probably out of sound because it’s steep walls on both sides and our scent is going to channel right down that ditch. We can truly approach, hunt, and exit with little chance of alerting deer in the area.

GRANT: I love putting boots on the ground. Anytime I can walk through the woods, I’m happy. But let’s face it. We all have a limited amount of time.

GRANT: So, one way I’ve learned to expedite this type of scouting is by using onX. I look at all the lower slopes, look for potential drainages, cliffs, something like that, that might make a bottleneck and then I can limit my scouting to those areas. It saves me time, and it saves me disturbing the whole property. In fact, I’m already using onX, and I’ll be checking out some additional locations in the next couple of weeks.

GRANT: Deer often shift the portions of home range they use about the time they shed their velvet. So, be cautious on locating stands and blinds based on where you’re seeing deer right now.

GRANT: As the time to plant our cool season food plots approaches, I want to take a little time and review how our warm season crops performed.

GRANT: Look at all those little insects working the pollen on this buckwheat here. They’re all over it.

GRANT: We’re in a food plot we called Driveway because it’s not far off the driveway to my house. And it’s one of my favorite testimonies to the Buffalo System.

GRANT: This area is on a steep slope and was covered with brush until about two years ago. We cleared all the brush off this plot during the late summer and that fall we used a Genesis to drill in Eagle Seeds Fall Buffalo Blend.

GRANT: Now, it’s way too steep to get a lime or fertilizer truck on here, so we planted with no amendments to the soil. The following spring we drilled directly into the Fall Buffalo Blend with Eagle Seeds forage soybeans.

GRANT: I drilled pure soybeans because I knew there would be weeds given there was no mulch in this area. During the late summer we drilled the Buffalo Blend into the standing beans. And then this spring we planted beans once again with a little bit of buckwheat included in the beans.

GRANT: A cycle of crops for two years – no lime, no fertilizer added – and it looks wonderful out here. There’s browse all through the plot, but it’s producing more than the deer can consume. There’s a bit of weed pressure in here – not enough to make me want to spray – and in a few weeks, we will drill the Fall Buffalo Blend right in these beans.

GRANT: If I reach down, I can grab mulch from the last fall blend; and you can tell it’s starting to break down – it doesn’t even crunch when I break it up. And that’s adding fertilizer to this slope where it would be impossible to get a fertilizer truck. This is a perfect example of taking an area that was a brush field and making a high-quality food plot using the Buffalo System.

GRANT: It can be a rough start the first year or two, especially when you’re not adding any lime or fertilizer. But by planting a variety of crops, especially during the winter, letting all those roots work together and do their magic, we can free up nutrients that are in the soil to make them available to the plant through the Buffalo System, taking rough ground and improving it to where it’s extremely productive allowing nature to do its magic.

GRANT: And I believe if you look at it during the spring, then look at it when we film later, and look at it now, you’ll see the progression and you’ll understand what the principals of the Buffalo System can do. The system is not perfect, we’ve got some weeds in here. We need to apply an herbicide from time to time, but overall it certainly serves to improve soil quality and save money and time. That’s a system I want to use on my food plots.

GRANT: I’ve been traveling a lot this summer throughout the Midwest, and I got to tell you, these beans look better than most ag fields I’ve driven by. I’m shocked at how well these beans are performing.

GRANT: The amount of time it takes to convert a new plot to a really productive plot using the Buffalo System depends on several factors: the amount of moisture, the native soil quality and other factors that can vary year to year.

GRANT: I’ve got a lot of clients that aren’t quite that patient, so we typically take a soil test and in the first year put out 75% of the fertilizer that’s recommended. Take a soil test the second year and use 50% of that recommendation and 25% the third year of that third soil test.

GRANT: I’ve opted to simply use the Buffalo System and count on the natural processes to improve the soil. I’ve made that decision based on three considerations: many plots here at The Proving Grounds are too steep to spread synthetic fertilizer; second, synthetic fertilizer is very expensive; and third, oftentimes synthetic fertilizer inhibits the growth or multiplication of the many beneficial organisms in the soil that improve it rapidly. So, rather than risk damaging those organisms, I’m using a natural approach, letting those species multiply rapidly and work their magic on the soil. That’s proven a great approach here at The Proving Grounds.

GRANT: Last week, my daughter Rae and I were in Sparta, Illinois, at the World Shooting Complex for the AIM national trap event. AIM stands for Academics, Integrity, and Marksmanship. It’s a very old organization that was designed to get youth involved in the shooting sports.

RAE: Pull. Pull.

GRANT: My daughters, Raleigh and Rae, started shooting in the AIM program during seventh and sixth grade, respectively. Through the years they’ve competed in many state and national championships and had a great time at each event.

GRANT: The Grand National Championships is the largest trap event in the world. While I was watching Rae shoot this year, I visited with members of the South Africa and Brazil Olympic teams.

GRANT: I’m very proud of Rae and the Wildcat Trap Team for placing second in the National AAA Division. Triple-A is the highest level for trap shooters.

GRANT: More importantly, I’m proud of all the team for being great on the field and off the field. I’ve got to tell you I’m more proud when the match is over, and the scorekeeper says, “Boy, your kids were really well behaved.” During this event, the organization reports that more than one million shots were fired. Can you imagine that? One million shots and not one incident or accident. Talk about gun safety.

RAE: Pull.

GRANT: This is a great testimony to how safe and fun the shooting sports are for family and friends and why it’s one of the fastest growing sports throughout the USA.

GRANT: August is National Shooting Sports Month and I hope you join the Woods family and do some shooting this month.

GRANT: I’ll be at the Bass Pro Shops in the hunting department in Springfield, Missouri August 17th and 18th – probably from about 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. I hope you’ll stop by. We can talk about guns and shooting. We can talk about hunting strategies or habitat improvement. I’ll even have my onX there. We can call up your property and really dial in to a better hunting strategy or some habitat improvements where you hunt.

GRANT: If you know someone that would benefit from our scouting techniques or our food plot techniques, please encourage them to subscribe to

GRANT: Participating in the shooting sports or scouting for a new stand or blind location is a great way to get outside and enjoy Creation. But the most important thing you can do every day is slow down, be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching Growing Deer.