Shed Antler Hunting: When It’s Not Just Antlers (Episode 169 Transcript)

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

TRACY: Right here, come on.

GRANT: Friday, February 8th. Tracy, Crystal and I have been out in the woods a good bit, finding antlers – unfortunately attached to the skull.

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TRACY: Go find.

ADAM: It’s February the 4th. This afternoon we’ve been doing different projects and Grant and Ms. Tracy are out on a walk shed hunting and, uh, we got a call saying to bring all camera equipment and Nikon camera, so,uh, we’re excited to see what it is, ’cause usually it’s gotta be something really big to get a phone call like that, so we’re going to head up Still Holler and, uh, see what they found.

GRANT: This past Monday Tracy and I took a walk up a valley we call Still Holler because there’s an old Revenuers’ still in there and actually you can still see a few hatchet marks from the guy’s wife or the revenue man that found that still and busted it up.

GRANT: You can tell by just how big this is that this is gonna be a buck’s pelvic girdle, but unequivocally these tuberosities, or bumps right here, is what lignants come off here and hold up the buck’s scrotum, so this is unequivocally a male and an old male because there’s actually three bones coming together here and I can’t see any of the lines or joints between the bone and they get calcified as they get older. Just like human bones do, so we can use the pelvic girdle to say, you know, really young, medium or old, but we can’t get to a year class at all. So, do a little searching around and see if we can’t come up with those magical lower jaws and get a much better estimate of his age.

GRANT: No doubt the skull is a big prize when you’re following an EHD outbreak and scouting your property. But the jawbone is certainly the second most valuable. But based on my experience of aging literally thousands of deer throughout my career, I think this is a perfect example of a four and a half year old buck.

GRANT: Think about a chocolate ice cream cone dipped in vanilla. Just the opposite of what you’re normally thinking. Pull it out. The more you remove, the more chocolate is exposed. The technique for aging whitetail deer is based on looking at the amount of dentine, or chocolate if you will, that’s showing inside the white tooth that’s encapsulated or covered by enamel. When you look at that pattern of the, of how sharp these cusps are, and the amount of chocolate, if you will showing, is how you estimate age. And you can find more about aging at the Quality Deer Management Association’s website.

GRANT: Just a few feet away is the ribcage and even from here I can get some evidence of what killed this deer. When I find a ribcage that coyotes or domestic dogs have killed, dogs rarely remove any meat at all. They just kind of string it out and kill it and move on. Coyotes will certainly remove the meat and return for several days, gnawing it down to not much left. And they’ll gnaw these ribs down usually to about here and certainly gnaw these flanges coming off the top of the vertebrae down. So, there’s just very little chewing here. It almost looks like squirrel chewing. Looking at the size of the teeth marks. Squirrels like to get on this for calcium. That’s just more evidence that that deer died from EHD because when I tend to find EHD dead deer; even in summer – the whole carcass – coyotes don’t seem to touch ’em. They apparently sense that that deer is full of infection and don’t want to touch it. That’s the bulk of the biology, but the big prize is down the creek just a little bit where we find the skull.

GRANT: Oooo, look at those bases. Super light and super sharp again. Almost hurting me. This deer died in velvet. No sign of a cranial or brain abscess. And just once again, I am stunned at how sharp these bases are. It’s actually painful when I grip it. You can tell this deer died with velvet. Now velvet’s been removed obviously.

GRANT: 8 Ball is the sixth mature buck we’ve actually found here at The Proving Grounds this year that apparently died from HD. It’s really important for sportsmen to share this with their state agencies – how many they’re finding, the age structure, whatever. So they can get a really good feel for the level of mortality in that area. I’m gonna tote this back to the house, call my local conservation agent, and get the appropriate salvage permit and Tracy and I will continue our post-season hunting looking for bone here at The Proving Grounds.

ADAM: In between deer season and turkey season, there’s one thing that we really like to do here at The Proving Grounds, and that’s collect soil samples. You want to take an average throughout the whole field. That requires walking the entire field, so you’re going to have to burn a little boot leather, but it’s all worth it in the end.

ADAM: An important thing to remember when you’re doing your soil samples is to clearly label them. For example, this is food plot #3. We just put a #3 on the bag, so there’s no confusion back at the lab.

GRANT: This time of year is Tracy and Crystal’s favorite hunting season. They love to get out post-season and look for shed antlers.

TRACY: Easy. Easy.

GRANT: This year, unfortunately, they’re finding plenty of antlers but they’re attached to the skull.

TRACY: There you go. You found it again. That’s it. Good girl. What kind of skull? Good girl. Look at that. Look at that. That’s a buck. Crystal and I just found this buried. I probably wouldn’t have looked there if she hadn’t of nosed it. Oh, I got a treat. When you find that, you get a treat. You get a treat. Good girl. So, come on up the creek bottom. Um, I’ll go ahead and walk out some more and I will leave my backpack here in the creek.

ADAM: Well, here we are yet again. We were out on the property, Brian and I working, doing soil samples and we got a phone call from Ms. Tracy saying that she was walking up 2nd House and that she had found another buck dead, so it’s happened a lot here lately. I think we’re up to probably seven good bucks – three and a half and older – so, we’re gonna haul up this, uh, little draw and see what she found.

ADAM: Amazes me how she just barrels in. There she goes.

TRACY: Good girl. This was hidden under the leaves.

ADAM: Hmmf.

TRACY: Is that still a little bit of…

ADAM: Velvet.

TRACY: …velvet on it.

ADAM: Yeah. Little bit of velvet. This buck, he doesn’t actually have a name because he showed up, he showed up at Boom Saddle probably half a mile, three quarters of a mile that way. And he showed up, I think the first part of September and he had just shed his velvet and then he went missing in action. Well, we know why now. He had really nice brows.

TRACY: How old do you think he was?

ADAM: I, when I looked at him in pictures, if I remember right, I had him at three.

GRANT: Tracy and Crystal found this skull right in the creek again in a different valley or holler as we call them here in the Ozarks. Pretty much in the center of the property. We couldn’t find the bottom jaw of this buck to estimate his age and the top jaw is not near as reliable. But based on basal circumference and some other characteristics, I would estimate this buck to be three years old.

GRANT: We’ve received several questions on our Facebook page, “Hey Grant, are only the big bucks dying of HD on your property? Hemorrhagic Disease tends to affect all sects and gender classes of deer. Obviously, it’s easier to find these antlers sticking up above the ground than a few bones that have been scattered out and covered by leaves.

TRACY: It’s a deer. Good girl.

ADAM: Third day in a row we’ve got a phone call from Tracy or Grant saying, “Bring the camera equipment,” because they have found a dead deer and all three days, it’s been a large buck, so, we’re headed down the valley now to see what buck it was that she found.

ADAM: Yeah. Super light again. Kind of the same story we’ve been telling for the last two weeks now.

GRANT: Tracy and Crystal found this in another dry creek bank by the Last Lick food plot.

GRANT: Lefty was a three year-old that was showing great potential. Very long beams, very long tine length; had everything going for him until some little midge or biting fly bit him and shared HD with Lefty. Probably died within 24 or 36 hours of that bite.

TRACY: I mean this is just what stood out to me was just like how long these guys are.

ADAM: Yeah.

TRACY: I mean, look at that .

ADAM: Yeah, we got…

TRACY: Awesome.

ADAM: He was a nice deer. Lefty. Yup. We got pictures of him. Not very far away and…

TRACY: What was his travel pattern?

ADAM: He was just right in here. Just right here. I think the only place we had him was Last Lick.

GRANT: Clearly, Hemorrhagic Disease took a big toll here at The Proving Grounds, but all is not lost. The remaining herd that’s alive and well now has probably built up antibodies to the HD virus and they will probably be able to go throughout the rest of their life and not be impacted by Hemorrhagic Disease.

GRANT: Research has shown that does carrying fetuses or fawns in their body will pass on those antibodies to the fawns so if they have a male fawn this spring, he’ll likely live out the rest of his life and not have an impact from HD.

GRANT: The best reason to be excited about the future is not that I know there’s still bucks left, but that I’m free to get out and enjoy Creation and have a relationship with the Creator. Thanks for watching

ADAM: There you go. Now we’ll get into that post-season, post deer season management time. Aaarggh.

BRIAN: Ready?

ADAM: Another important part about, another important fact, another important part of, soil samples (Laughing), there is only one way to get an accurate read on your soil and that’s collecitng a soil sample.

BRIAN: You are the man.

ADAM: Boom. (Laughing)