This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: During the summer of 2018, our Reconyx cameras took some pictures of a buck with a unique rack. The buck had a split G2 and G3 and when we asked folks on our social media to suggest a name, the most common suggestion was Slingshot.
GRANT: During that summer we had several trail camera pictures and videos of Slingshot in the east end of a food plot we named Pops.
GRANT: Based on those pictures of Slingshot and other bucks, Clay and Daniel went in and hung a Summit stand about 40 yards north of that camera.
GRANT: During that fall we got several more pictures of Slingshot and his activity, the core of his area, seemed to be centered in the southern end of The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: During the pre-rut, Slingshot made at least one excursion north to a food plot we call Blue Hole.
GRANT: A few days later, Daniel was hunting on the 50 Acre Ridge, which is between Blue Hole and Pops, when he had an encounter with Slingshot.
GRANT: Even with the pictures from Blue Hole and Daniel’s encounter on the 50 Acre Ridge, it was obvious Slingshot was spending a lot of time around the Pops plot.
GRANT: Based on the information we had accumulated about Slingshot, I wasn’t surprised when during rifle season, Tyler and our fall intern, Owen, had another encounter with Slingshot in the Pops plot.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible) A buck, Slingshot.
TYLER: (Whispering) Man, dude, he’s a pretty deer.
GRANT: You may be wondering why Slingshot wasn’t tagged during one of these encounters, but we had agreed before season to give Slingshot a pass and see how he developed and what he looked like during 2019.
GRANT: When he showed up during the summer of 2019, instantly we put him toward the top of our hit list.
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GRANT: Slingshot appeared to be following his previous pattern and was spending most of his time on the southern portion of The Proving Grounds and a lot of his time around the Pops food plot.
GRANT: Early during Missouri’s bow season, September 22nd, Tyler and I were hunting the east end of the Pops plot when Slingshot stepped out just before dark.
GRANT: It was extremely quiet and still that afternoon and looking back, I wish I hadn’t taken that 34-1/2 yard shot at Slingshot. I should have known he would react at the sound of the shot.
GRANT: Slingshot didn’t know we were in the world. But his head was down and when a deer reacts with their head down, they use that as leverage and it allows them to drop the vitals much faster than if a deer’s head is up.
GRANT: Slingshot’s reaction was so fast that when my arrow arrived, he had already turned and was leaping away from the sound of the shot. It’s important to remember that Slingshot’s momentum was going away from the sound of the shot and I’ll explain that later during this episode.
GRANT: My heart sank. We spent 35 hours trying to recover Slingshot but there just wasn’t much sign.
GRANT: We had no observations and no trail camera pictures of Slingshot for about a month. And then, as I’d been hoping and praying, he showed up at a Code Blue scrape.
GRANT: A few days after our Reconyx camera took the video of Slingshot working the scrape, the wind was correct for Tyler and I to return to the Pops plot and had big hopes we’d see Slingshot.
GRANT: We were settled into the hunt when I heard Tyler say, “Slingshot stepped out.” Unfortunately, Slingshot never came within bow range, but it was great to know he looked good and was back to using what we believe is his core area.
GRANT: The morning of November 25th, Clay went to a Redneck blind at the west end of the Pops plot. There was a south wind that morning, so Clay could approach from the west very quietly and carefully and not alert deer to the north, east or south.
GRANT: Clay was self-filming that morning. So, once the camera was set up, he loaded the Winchester and put it on the FieldPod. It was a cool, clear morning and Clay believed deer would come to the plot to feed on the remaining Eagle Seed Soybeans and the Fall Buffalo Blend.
GRANT: This plot lays primarily west to east with the plot sloping downhill to the east. That means it’s exposed to the early morning sun. The forage in this area is going to warm up by the sun’s energy quicker than a plot on the north side of a ridge. It’s going to melt the frost earlier there and deer prefer to eat where the sun is warming them up and the frost is melted during cold days.
GRANT: This button buck quickly stepped out of the shadows and started feeding in the sun’s warmth.
GRANT: Clay watched this deer as he worked from the north side to the south. Then Clay spotted antlers on the north side.
CLAY: (Whispering) There’s Slingshot.
GRANT: Slingshot had approached from the north side, the downwind side, and appeared to be searching for a receptive doe.
GRANT: Then Slingshot turned and appeared to be headed back in the timber.
GRANT: Thinking quickly, Clay used the Messenger grunt call and Slingshot’s head popped up.
GRANT: If you’ve ever self-filmed a hunt, you know how challenging it can be to keep the camera on a moving deer while preparing to take a shot.
GRANT: Clay was using the Fourth Arrow raptor arm which means the camera can move a lot without the tripod moving and allowed him to stay on the buck much easier.
CLAY: (Whispering) Oh, my gosh. That’s Slingshot. Oh, thank you, Lord. Yes. Yes. Yes.
CLAY: That is Slingshot. I mean, just – I don’t know – just popped up out of that back corner. I was filming this button buck over here, watching it. Just shooting some b roll, trying to, trying to stay out of the sun, not move as much, try not to be flashing anything around and I look over and I just see antlers standing on the side of the slope and sure enough, it was Slingshot. As soon as I saw, saw the dark chocolate antlers and those, that split on that one side and just…oh my word.
CLAY: It was hard because I’ve got – he was on this side and I first saw him and my – the easy shot I’ve got with the camera and getting the gun on him at the same time – it’s right out here in front. And he popped out down there and he was just kind of milling around. He would – he came out and then he would go back in and lost him for a few seconds and I couldn’t see. And then I saw a little glimpse of him kind of skirting through the trees there, coming back out.
CLAY: So I got on him again and was just kind of waiting. I knew he was there. I wasn’t – I did not want to rush a shot while he was over there, kind of right there on the edge. And I knew if he was there, he would probably come out to the plot and give me a better shot. So I just waited and tried to stay – tried to stay as calm as possible. And let him come out.
CLAY: And he was just feeding over there and I thought, “Man, I better at least see if I can get him on over on this side.” And so I got the camera over here real quietly and trying to – tried to get the gun and the camera on him at the same time. Got on him and gosh, I think I tried to stop him four or five times.
CLAY: Oh, my gosh. Just so appreciative of the opportunity to be able to hunt a deer like that and have the opportunity to take him. I’m going to quit rambling because I’m just – I’m, nerves are still running through me. I gotta call Grant and I gotta call Daniel and – and tell them.
GRANT: (On phone) Yes, sir.
GRANT: (On phone) Yeah?
CLAY: …I believe we have, have an end to a story.
GRANT: (On phone) Tell me that Slingshot is down.
CLAY: Slingshot is down, Grant.
GRANT: (On phone) Oh, incredible, Clay. Congratulations.
CLAY: Thank you so much, Grant. I don’t think he made it too far, so.
GRANT: (On phone) That’s awesome, Clay. I’m very proud of you and happy for you. That’s awesome. Proud of you, Clay. Talk to you soon.
CLAY: Thank you so much. Bye, bye.
GRANT: (On phone) Ah huh.
DANIEL: (On phone) Well, who did you shoot?
CLAY: I think we got an end to a story.
DANIEL: (On phone) Slingshot?
CLAY: Slingshot is down.
DANIEL: (On phone) Heck, yeah! (Laughter)
CLAY: Oh, my word, dude.
DANIEL: (On phone) That’s awesome.
CLAY: I cannot believe it. I am like speechless.
DANIEL: (On phone) I can’t wait to get inside of him and…
CLAY: Oh, man.
DANIEL: (On phone) …see if there’s a broadhead, Deadmeat…
CLAY: I know it.
DANIEL: (On phone) …in the shoulder, or something.
CLAY: All right. Sounds good. See you.
DANIEL: (On phone) Yep. Bye.
CLAY: Can you believe that? I was so pumped, man. Can you believe that?
DANIEL: So he started plowing over here to your left.
CLAY: So, I shot him about – I shot him about mid field and then I heard…
DANIEL: There he is! Whoo!
CLAY: Oh my word, man.
DANIEL: He didn’t even make it out of the plot.
CLAY: I don’t even know what to say, man. That is – look at the body on him. Oh. Man, look at that, man.
DANIEL: Do you see it?
CLAY: You can see – I mean, not much left of it, but that’s the –
DANIEL: High front shoulder? Where Grant hit him?
CLAY: It’s right here. I’m going to be – I’m going to be careful because there may be – a broadhead may still be in him.
CLAY: Well, this is a moment that the entire GrowingDeer Team, and I know a lot of viewers, have been waiting for. This is Slingshot, up close and personal. Just an incredible deer, incredible hunt. I’m really excited for Grant to see him and it’s just as much the whole team’s deer as it is my deer. I can’t be more thankful to have this opportunity.
GRANT: Congratulations, Clay.
CLAY: Thank you, Grant. Thank you so much.
GRANT: I’m happy for you, man.
CLAY: I, I really appreciate it. I can’t say thank you enough. I’m excited for you to see him.
GRANT: I am. I am. I’m walking up to him excited. Look at the mass on that thing. Yeah. Man, look at the size of the chest on that thing.
GRANT: How could I have missed something that big? (Chuckling) Man.
CLAY: Feel right there. That’s the offside. You can see, feel that bullet in there.
GRANT: That little knot right there?
CLAY: You can feel – that’s the bullet.
DANIEL: That’s the XP.
CLAY: That’s the XP on the offside.
DANIEL: And you can show him that other side where the arrow went in.
GRANT: Great shot, by the way.
CLAY: Thank you. So, there’s the entrance.
GRANT: Yeah. Yep.
CLAY: And then there – that was offside, so right there…
CLAY: …that’s where it was. And then if you feel right down there, you can feel like an empty cavity.
GRANT: Yeah. Right here. Yeah, I feel that. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. That’s amazing.
CLAY: Yeah. Yeah.
GRANT: I’m happy for you, man.
CLAY: Thank you so much, Grant. I cannot, cannot thank you enough.
GRANT: That is…I don’t even give man hugs. I don’t even give man hugs. (Laughter)
GRANT: But, you know, this is the perfect team deer.
GRANT: Because you think of someone, I’m sure, saw him as a button buck and was, you know, made the choice not to shoot a, (Inaudible) a doe, made a choice.
GRANT: A good looking two-year-old, a great looking three-year-old. You think about the whole story here.
GRANT: This is a true…
CLAY: Been a lot of years.
GRANT: …team effort right here.
GRANT: And I’m thankful you’re part of the team.
GRANT: Clay and Daniel took Slingshot to our good friend, and great taxidermist, Pete Dickenson, and he started peeling the cape off Slingshot.
GRANT: Clay was shooting Deer Season XP ammo and as they were caping the buck, they found where it had caused massive trauma to the off shoulder.
GRANT: The bullet was just under the skin, past the off shoulder, and it had expanded and performed perfectly.
UNKNOWN: She done her job.
CLAY: Yeah. Left all the energy in the deer.
GRANT: As they continued caping Slingshot, they found where my arrow had hit him two months ago. We were all curious how the wound had healed.
CLAY: You know, I haven’t even cut there and you see the layers just underneath there.
DANIEL: Scar tissue.
CLAY: Yeah. So there’s the, there’s the entry right there from the arrow – that dark spot.
GRANT: Clay used his Uncle Henry to cut below the scar tissue but there was no more sign of damage.
GRANT: This solved the mystery of where my arrow hit Slingshot and how much damage was done. And I got to tell you, if I hadn’t of been the one that shot Slingshot, we probably would have never know there was a wound there.
GRANT: Earlier, I called attention to the fact that Slingshot had a big reaction to my shot and had turned and was moving away from the arrow by the time it arrived. With Singshot’s momentum going straight away from the arrow, it’s no wonder it didn’t penetrate any further.
GRANT: There are several lessons from the Slingshot story I’d like to share.
GRANT: During the past two seasons, Slingshot had been very active in this core area during daylight. And that’s odd for bucks here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: That pattern of activity probably allowed us to have more personal encounters with Slingshot than other bucks we’ve hunted during the past several years.
GRANT: Hunting bucks that have a similar behavior, that tend to be active during daylight, is probably a much better strategy than hunting bucks, even if they have larger antlers, that seem to be only active during dark.
GRANT: Another lesson is that even after he was injured, Slingshot returned to that core area and I believe that’s because we only hunt that area – we only hunt our land when we can approach, hunt and exit without alerting the deer we’re trying to target.
GRANT: And the last lesson I’d like to share is why Clay’s hunt was successful.
GRANT: If you watch closely, after Slingshot enters the plot, he’s moving back and forth and appears to be seeking a receptive doe. Slingshot approached the plot from the north when there was a south wind. By the time Clay was hunting, most does had likely been bred, but I’m sure there was a few that were still receptive.
GRANT: Bucks had spent the last couple of weeks seeking and chasing receptive does. By the time Clay was hunting, the bucks certainly needed to regain some energy and they were using the best food sources in their range.
GRANT: It’s been cold in Missouri, so does are going to the best food in their range also. Clay made a good choice of hunting the plot that morning as it served as a double attraction. There would be does in the area because it was quality forage, bucks are still seeking – looking for those last few receptive does – and they need quality food to recover from the rut.
GRANT: Clay’s strategy was extremely effective and resulted in the last chapter of the Slingshot story and plenty of fresh venison for the GrowingDeer Team.
GRANT: I also had a really exciting hunt during Missouri’s firearms season and was able to punch my firearms buck tag. We’ll share that hunt and the strategies I used next week.
GRANT: Man, we had action in here this morning and better action this afternoon. Can you tell I’m happy? ‘Cause I’m happy, folks.
GRANT: If you enjoy the information and strategies we share, please consider sending a link to GrowingDeer to your friends that hunt.
GRANT: Most of the hardwood leaves are off throughout much of the whitetails’ range and it’s a great time to get outside, enjoy Creation and the different view that winter allows. But no matter the season, it’s important every day to slow down, be quiet and listen to what the Creator says to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.