This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: The lockdown phase of the rut is over throughout most of the whitetails’ range. This week, we’ll share with you a strategy we used to finally see a buck we call Butterbean during the post lockdown.
GRANT: (Whispering) Man, that’s a good deer.
GRANT: (Whispering) Are you on him?
GRANT: (Whispering) Are you on him, Matt?
GRANT: I spent the majority of Missouri’s firearm season with my father who is receiving his third chemo treatment. After the treatment, he was doing well and I had an opportunity to hunt.
GRANT: (Quietly) No doubt about the maturity of that big boy.
MATT: (Quietly) That was a good…
GRANT: (Quietly) Did you see the chest on that one?
MATT: (Quietly) Good looking deer.
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ADAM: (Whispering) He’s behind me, getting ready to be behind the trees. Do you see him?
GRANT: While I was assisting with my father’s healthcare, Adam had several encounters with a buck we call July, but during that time, he didn’t see any other mature bucks and did see several fawns without does. This was a great indicator that that period of time was smack dab during the breeding season, or the prime rut, here in Missouri.
GRANT: During the peak of the rut are when most does are receptive; mature bucks will find a receptive doe and spend 24 to 36 hours with her, not moving much, and then only move enough to find another receptive doe. Hence, bucks aren’t moving much and it’s called the lockdown phase.
GRANT: Knowing that here at The Proving Grounds, most does are bred by November 20th – we were gonna hunt November 22nd. So we selected a stand that was appropriate for bucks seeking does.
GRANT: We call this stand Boom Pond Powerline. We’re not real creative with names. There’s a powerline that crosses a ridge right next to a pond. The magic about this stand is there’s a road that comes up the ridge from the east, right on the north side of this stand. So any wind out of the south, the deer can’t see us, ‘cause we’re right on top of a ridge. They don’t smell us and they probably can’t hear us, and even if they do hear a truck on the ridge top, they’re used to traffic there, so it won’t alert them. Right off to the side of the ridge, on the very edge of the powerline, we have a Summit ladder stand for the hunter and a hang on for the cameraman. During years past, we’ve created bedding areas to the east and west of the powerline. During the pre and post rut, bucks will cruise this area, specifically to two bedding areas, looking for receptive does. By looking down the powerline, it gives us a window into, basically, a sanctuary where we can watch deer without being detected.
GRANT: Earlier this fall, we used prescribed fire and saws to remove the largest saplings out of powerline right of way. We didn’t want any chance of having our view obstructed or a bullet being deflected should we get a shot.
GRANT: (Whispering) It’s November 22nd and there’s two and a half days left in Missouri’s firearms season. We’ve had a great year so far, but I’d like to tag a mature buck with a firearm. This afternoon, I’ve selected hunting this powerline right of way. There’s a bedding area down here, a bedding area right beside us, and two food plots just back here to our east. So, we’re in an area of transition and I think we’re past the lockdown stage where the most receptive does have been bred in this area and now mature bucks are back in the seeking game. They’ve been getting a date for 11, 12, 13 days straight most likely. They’re not giving that up all at once. So they’re gonna start feeding a little bit more, but still looking for a receptive doe. Hunting these transition zones can be a great opportunity to catch a mature buck on his feet.
GRANT: As Matt and I were getting settled in the stands that afternoon, I spotted movement about 150 yards down the powerline.
GRANT: To my surprise, it was a large antlered buck and I instantly started trying to get a look through the scope to identify which buck it was.
GRANT: (Whispering) Are you on him, Matt?
MATT: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: (Whispering) Are you sure?
MATT: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: Matt was struggling to find the buck in the viewfinder, due to the shadows and how well deer blend in with this type of background. But once he did, he quickly recognized the deer as a buck we named Butterbean.
GRANT: Butterbean continues making his way across the powerline, and Matt finally gives me the a-okay that all cameras are up and running.
GRANT: (Whispering) If he stops, I’m gonna take him.
GRANT: (Whispering) You’re on him?
GRANT: (Whispering) Here we go, Matt.
GRANT: (Whispering) I’d like for him to square up a little bit more.
GRANT: (Whispering) There we go. Right there.
GRANT: Super buck.
MATT: (Inaudible) Awesome job. Had to wait.
GRANT: No doubt about the maturity of that big boy.
MATT: That was a good.
GRANT: Did you see the chest on that one?
GRANT: Thank you, Lord. Man, did the plan work, or what, man?
GRANT: At what, 3:30 in the afternoon?
MATT: Yeah. I think it’s 3:45 right now.
GRANT: 3:45 in the afternoon, cruising just like we said. Man.
GRANT: Love it. Love it, love it. And what did we just say? Two and a half hunts – two and a half days of gun season left. Never give up. Never give up.
MATT: Nope. That was a great, great deer, Grant.
GRANT: Oh man.
MATT: Man. Like you said, there’s no question on that.
GRANT: There wasn’t no question on that one. You know what? It’s not – this isn’t the hunt. We’ve cut all the saplings out of this powerline, we’ve burned it in years past. Cut the saplings, because they’d grown enough that we wouldn’t have been able to make that shot, or probably, would’ve had maybe a barely a hole in there. The hunt is managing all year long. All summer long, you’re making this bedding area you’re seeing right here, clearing this powerline, not hunting this stand – except on a good strong south wind, southwest wind. That’s what made that available. That’s what made that happen. Year round management just gave me a thrill.
GRANT: The shot is seconds. The management is all year long.
GRANT: That shot wasn’t seconds, ‘cause I was worried you weren’t gonna get on it. That shot was a little bit of time.
MATT: He was cruising around, but man. Great shooting. Oh yeah.
GRANT: That is a giant buck. Look at the chest on that thing. Oh my.
GRANT: That’s what we grow. Man. That’s what we spend time out here looking for. There’s kickers all over, big bases, huge chest – just, I don’t know how many inches that is across. I’m just about speechless, to tell you the truth. I’ve had a blessed, blessed year, and season’s only half over. We’ve got all through December and half of January to bow hunt, but my season, I’ve had a wonderful year.
GRANT: Matt and I took time to get down and celebrate the harvest of a buck we know as Butterbean. Butterbean’s at least five and a half, and probably, six and a half years old based on a Reconyx picture.
GRANT: I’m always amazed at how much weight a mature buck can lose during the rut. This buck was much easier to drag, just turn him around a little bit for the picture, than I thought he would be, based on his trail camera pictures and that’s due to all the weight loss during the rut. We know in captivity, in an acre or two pen at the research facilities, that a buck can literally lose 30 percent of its bodyweight, even when they’ve got all the feed they can possibly eat and only chasing over an acre or two. Imagine the stress, or the cost, of a buck running up and down these hills in the wild. Butterbean was limping just a little bit, and I figured he’d been fighting during the rut but when we got up close, we could tell his knees were scarred like he’d been pushed down. There’s a huge scar on his left back leg. Butterbean had been a warrior, but somebody had give him a whipping. Love the coloration of this buck. Of course, there’s a gland in here, especially in bucks, and those cells enlarge and produce different substances during the rut than the rest of the year. And that’s why they get this really reddish color, especially on a mature deer. But if you do that and smell your fingers, you won’t have any doubt that there’s a rut gland on the forehead.
GRANT: We often show footage of bucks using scrapes – when you see them trying to rub their preorbital gland, or this gland right in front of the eye and the forehead gland. We don’t understand all the communication going on there, but certainly a critical part of their social structure. That communication – that social structure – is only exhibited in a natural way if you allow bucks to mature. Allowing the buck to get four, five, or six years old, is really healthy for the entire deer herd. Even more than celebrating the results of a good management plan, I’m celebrating a good team working together. Not just us here at GrowingDeer, but our neighbors and our deer cooperative – passing up deer, harvesting enough does, working together to improve the habitat which results in growing good deer and healthy ecosystem.
GRANT: Even though we work on this farm almost daily, it was the first time any of us had seen Butterbean as an antlered buck.
GRANT: A portion of our strategy was based on maps generated by the software that comes free with the Reconyx cameras. It’s clear from these maps that Butterbean used the south portion of this ridge, and in fact, had been active in this area recently. The thrill of taking a mature buck drives me to do the habitat work throughout the rest of the year, but the hunt’s not over, because bow season goes to January 15th here in Missouri.
GRANT: Now, I want to share some hunts from our Pro Staffers in the Bluegrass State of Kentucky. About two years ago, we toured Norman, Doc and Graham’s farm and helped create a habitat management and hunting plan.
GRANT: Early during our tour of their farm, it became very obvious that they could significantly improve the habitat quality by aggressively removing multiflora rose, bush honeysuckle, and eastern red cedar.
GRANT: This is not going anywhere positive in the future. We can set it back and, and restart the clock and salvage it, for sure. Not – salvage isn’t the right word, but improve it, but it’s not going anywhere…
GRANT: The plan included using a combination of cutting, herbicide, and prescribed fire to remove these invasive species and encourage native forbs and grasses to fill the void. This would provide better food and cover.
GRANT: In addition, using prescribed fire in other areas would make the property more attractive to deer and turkey, and easier to hunt.
GRANT: You, you can tell, walking through there, I mean that looks thick, but as we’re walking through there, there’s no problem for us to walk through there. That’s not cover for a deer. I’ll tell you right now, this is gonna be a lot easier and less labor intensive than taking care of the other problem.
GRANT: But if you don’t, that other problem’s gonna spread and take care of the whole farm. (Fades Out)
GRANT: Norman, Doc, and Graham worked hard on implementing both the deer management and habitat management plan. Two years later – based on camera surveys and personal observation – they report seeing twice as many bucks and a more balanced adult sex ratio.
GRANT: Even more impressive than statistics, we’re about to see the results of their hard work.
GRANT: During the first morning of Kentucky’s firearms season, Doc and cameraman Dustin are in a Redneck blind overlooking a food plot of Eagle Seed forage soybeans. During the late summer, Doc went through that plot and broadcast Eagle’s Broadside blend, so now, there’s a mixture of mature soybean pods and greens to draw deer to the area.
GRANT: This is an easy and effective food plot strategy – one that we use here at The Proving Grounds. The pods really attract deer during the cold days of winter and on the warmer days deer love the greens.
DOC: (Whispering) First day of, uh, rifle season. Uh, it’s been, uh, a great morning, so far. We, uh, a bunch of activity in this field already. We’ve got Eagle Seed beans and Broadside mixed in together, and so, we’re hoping that, uh, we get a big boy come traveling through here.
GRANT: They picked this spot hoping to see a buck they call Big Seven. Recent Reconyx time lapse images show Big Seven using this plot during daylight hours.
GRANT: They almost had an opportunity at Big Seven last year, but unfortunately, he didn’t present a clean shot.
GRANT: Not long after watching a lone doe eat on the side of the beans, they see a buck just behind her.
DOC: (Whispering) It’s Seven.
GRANT: Doc realizes it’s Big Seven and his heart starts racing.
GRANT: Look at the shape of Big Seven’s body. He’s clearly a mature buck.
DOC: (Whispering) Oh yeah.
DOC: (Whispering) I think I hit him good.
DUSTIN: (Whispering) I think so, too. Yeah.
DOC: (Whispering) You see him? You see him hop?
DUSTIN: (Whispering) Yeah. Yeah.
GRANT: With Big Seven finally down, Doc’s a little taken by the moment.
DOC: (Whispering) We’ve been chasing him for five and a half years, you know? I found his sheds last year.
GRANT: One of the few advantages of filming hunts is you can go back and watch the shot placement before taking up the blood trail.
GRANT: While it’s hard to tell exactly in this situation, they’re confident enough to take up the trail.
DOC: Holy cow.
DOC: I’m just – I’m overwhelmed. You know we work so hard, you know, preparing our place. And my son and I filmed this deer last year, muzzleloader. And he was on my mind ever since, when I saw him live, and I found his sheds, and then, now, I get to get my hands on him.
DUSTIN: He’s as wide as your shoulders.
DOC: I know.
DUSTIN: It’s awesome. His bases are massive.
DOC: Oh he’s huge, man. Look at that. He grew a ton.
DOC: He grew a lot a mass. A lot of mass this year. Beans. Eagle Seed beans, baby.
GRANT: Meanwhile, Norman’s hunting a location they call Capitol Hill out of a Redneck blind. He’s watching a group of bucks on a distant hillside.
GRANT: There’s a good buck in the group and Norman recognizes him as a buck they call Double Barrel. They call him Double Barrel because he has double split brow tines, but the buck’s at over 350 yards and Norman wisely gives him a pass.
GRANT: As the morning went on, they have deer after deer parade through the plot.
NORMAN: (Whispering) Another doe – stop.
GRANT: Suddenly, there’s some does scrambling in cedars.
NORMAN: (Whispering) Four right there.
GRANT: Norman gets ready, hoping there’s a buck in tow.
NORMAN: (Whispering) There he is. Is that him?
NORMAN: (Whispering) Oh. Mule kick.
NORMAN: (Whispering) Go down. Go down, go down, go down. Just went down.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) He’s kicking right there.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) What just happened there, Norm?
NORMAN: (Whispering) My heart’s about jumped through my chest.
NORMAN: (Whispering) Ooo, it’s been a long time.
NORMAN: (Whispering) We cut a bunch of cedars. We’ve made bedding areas. We’re sitting in a transition spot in-between food, cover – first day.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) First day.
NORMAN: (Whispering) First hour and a half. We’ve only seen – it’s been a slow morning – we’ve seen about 50, 52. (Chuckling)
GRAHAM: (Quietly) Oh geez, covered up, 360.
NORMAN: (Quietly) Oh it’s been great. It’s been great.
GRAHAM: (Quietly) Covered up, 360.
NORMAN: Golly. I can’t wait to see the (Inaudible). Pretty nice. Just a fantastic morning with fantastic friends, but, uh, Nikon did its job. The new Deer Season XP is just phenomenal. Laid him down. There was no track on this deer, so basically, just walk over and pick him up. A great day.
GRANT: Doc and Norman have their bucks, but what about Graham?
GRANT: With all the activity Norman had seen, Graham decides to go back to the blind they call Capitol Hill.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) We’re back out for a evening hunt. We’re sitting in the same Redneck that we were this morning. We saw a lot of deer activity, so it’d be crazy to go anywhere else.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) 50 degrees. The temperatures are gonna be dropping this evening. It’s gonna get down to freezing tonight, so, uh, deer should be up moving on their feet again. It should be a great night.
GRANT: Deer were in view all morning and the excitement was building.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) Oh it’s a buck.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) It is. (Inaudible)
GRANT: Eventually, they heard a loud grunt just below the blind.
GRANT: Seconds later, a large buck steps out. This might be Double Barrel at just 50 yards.
NORMAN: (Whispering) I’m on him. Watch it.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) Oh.
NORMAN: (Whispering) Where’d he go?
GRAHAM: (Whispering) I think he’s down.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) I saw where he went. I think he’s down.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) My heart is about ready to come out of this – out of my chest. We just heard a grunt right down here. What’s that? 50 yards?
NORMAN: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) Made the shot with bow just about.
NORMAN: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) Doe popped out at 50 yards. I’m glad it was at 50 yards, because I was shaking so bad.
NORMAN: (Whispering) Nice job, brother.
GRAHAM: (Whispering) Whew. Dude, thanks.
NORMAN: (Whispering) You’re welcome, buddy.
GRAHAM: Oh my gosh. Dude, this is Double.
GRAHAM: I can’t believe it, man.
GRAHAM: What a – what a stud. Management plan’s coming together. We’re seeing more deer. Deer numbers have incre – I mean I don’t know how many deer we saw this morning. I mean, deer sightings are going up, habitat is getting – you know – it’s better. Deer don’t get like this without good nutrition and good habitat. That’s a fact. I can’t get my – I can’t get my fingers around his bases.
GRAHAM: I can’t. Double split brow. That’s why we call him Double Barrel. Split brows on both sides. I’m gonna say he’s above 200.
NORMAN: Yeah. Just a touch.
GRANT: What a great opening weekend for our friends in Kentucky. They did a great job of implementing the plan, creating much better habitat, and a much easier place to hunt.
GRANT: After the shot, Graham wanted to check out how the Deer Season XP performed on Double Barrel.
GRAHAM: Deer Season XP, right there. Just destroyed it. We’ll say it went in this side, came out that side. Buy ‘em. They’re worth it.
GRANT: Congratulations, guys, for a great opening weekend.
GRANT: Firearm season’s now closed here in Missouri and we’re preparing for late archery season. One of the best tools during the late season to attract mature bucks is quality food and a Hot Zone electric fence is a great way to ensure there’s quality food near your bow stand. The fence simply keeps deer from browsing on the forage all summer long. So in this case, Eagle Seed forage soybeans can produce the maximum amount of pods. Soybean pods are tasty and super high in energy, so in those cold, late winter days, bucks are gonna go to that food source.
GRANT: Just a few feet away from the fence, the deer have already removed almost every pod from these beans. This is a great technique, whether you have five, or 500 acres. Allowing forage to grow without the damage of being browsed on and then making it available when you have time to hunt is just about a sure fire way to seeing deer in front of your stand.
GRANT: We created a gap in the side of the fence closest to the blind. It’s important to go make sure the power is back on the fence. If it’s not hot, deer will quickly get accustomed to jumping the fence. We don’t want that for now or future seasons. But with the fence being hot, they’ll funnel right through here providing us a very clean shot.
GRANT: We will share with you the results of hunting near these plots in future episodes, but if you don’t like waiting for the next episode, we post what we’re doing daily on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. Whether you’re tagged out, or still hunting, I hope you take time to enjoy Creation. But more importantly, take time every day, slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.