The Best Hunt We’ve Ever Videoed About Deer Reacting To A Shot (Episode 517 Transcript)

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

GRANT: We often hear debate from and among hunters about whether to take a shot at a deer with a bow when a deer’s head is up or down.

GRANT: While recently reviewing the footage of one of Tyler’s hunts, it ended that debate for me.

GRANT: Last week, a major cold front moved through much of the Midwest, and we thought that with that cold front many deer would be feeding during daylight hours.

GRANT: Tombstone is the largest food plot at The Proving Grounds and it’s surrounded by low-quality hardwoods and cedars. The food plot is the best source of food for deer in that area.

GRANT: Those reasons are exactly why we designed and created the Tombstone food plot a few years ago. While laying out that plot, as I am with all plots I lay out, I’m very intentional about which trees I leave and which trees I take out along the edge.

GRANT: I leave trees that make great stand locations and trees that produce great quality nuts or fruit such as apple trees, pears, persimmons, white oaks, or other trees that are gonna be a great attraction to deer.

GRANT: During the past couple of seasons, we’ve had some good hunts at the Tombstone plot.

GRANT: Based on all of this information, early one morning Tyler and Clay headed out to Tombstone.

GRANT: With a strong southeast wind, they could approach a pair of Summit stands in the northern end of the plot, coming in from the north without alerting deer in the target area.

GRANT: The sun wasn’t above the trees when they spotted the first deer. These deer were gonna pass within 25 or 30 yards of the stand, but it seemed something had them alert.

GRANT: As Tyler continued to watch, the deer remained alert. So he opted to pass the shot opportunity.

GRANT: That was a great decision. Shooting at a deer at 30 yards with a bow that’s alert can produce bad results.

TYLER: (Whispering) The closest she ever got was 30. I think right here she was at 25. I didn’t want to pull back with her like that, though.

CLAY: (Whispering) Yeah.

TYLER: (Whispering) It’s the morning of October 8th, and Clay and I have been hunting hard here at The Proving Grounds. We’re kind of on the tail end of the cold front. This morning the truck said it was 46 degrees. We’re gonna sit tight and see if we can’t get it done.

GRANT: It wasn’t long until Tyler spotted more deer all the way across the plot, more than 400 yards away.

TYLER: (Whispering) It’s just nice to see deer moving.

CLAY: (Whispering) Yeah.

TYLER: (Whispering) 364 yards and closing. Man, this is my kind of hunt here. Dude, you can watch ’em. You can be calm. 250.

GRANT: There is a persimmon tree about 30 yards to the left of Tyler’s stand, and it became obvious the deer were headed toward that tree. This persimmon was loaded and dropping fruit.

TYLER: (Whispering) The wind is going directly to our left.

TYLER: (Whispering) You good?

CLAY: (Whispering) Yeah. You got it. Nice and easy. She’s probably gonna turn (Inaudible).

TYLER: (Whispering) You ready?

CLAY: (Whispering) Yeah.

CLAY: (Whispering) You smoked her; I think. She’s going down right there.

CLAY: (Whispering) Dude, you (Inaudible). You go.

TYLER: (Whispering) (Inaudible) That’s an easy drag. Heck yeah! From 400 yards to 30 yards. Oh, man.

CLAY: (Whispering) That feels good right there.

TYLER: (Whispering) Yeah, it does.

GRANT: The success of this hunt was not random. It started years ago when we laid out the boundary of this plot and left the persimmon tree within shooting distance of a great tree stand location.

CLAY: Man, they’re just loaded. I mean, they’re all over the ground. It’s no wonder they’re over here. I don’t think I’ve seen one that loaded before.

TYLER: I definitely have not.

GRANT: This hunt is a great illustration of the power of an attractive food source to bring deer within bow range.

TYLER: Well, Clay and I had a great hunt this morning. Deadmeat did the trick; complete pass through. She went down in sight so no complaints there. Just another great morning to be out in the stand here at The Proving Grounds.

GRANT: Tyler made a great shot and brought home fresh venison for the GrowingDeer Team. But another benefit is this hunt provides us some great lessons I’d like to share.

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GRANT: At the moment of Tyler’s shot, two deer were in the video frame. One had their head up, and one had their head down. They’re both almost exactly the same distance from Tyler.

GRANT: When we watched this footage in slow motion, we were able to make some very interesting observations.

GRANT: The camera was set to film at 30 frames per second. That means the difference between two frames is 1/30th of a second.

GRANT: First, when looking at the muscles of both deer, it’s obvious that the deer with its head down starts reacting a full frame quicker than the deer with its head up.

GRANT: This may sound like an insignificant amount of time but consider Tyler’s bow shoots at 279 feet per second.

GRANT: The second observation is there’s a noticeable difference between the drop or the amount of reaction between the two deer. Remember, the two deer are almost exactly the same distance away from Tyler, so the sound reaches them at the same time.

GRANT: The doe with her head up visibly kicks her feet out and starts dropping. Her whole body starts dropping and the fastest she can drop is the speed of gravity, 32.2 feet per second. This doe can drop several inches at the speed of gravity before the arrow reaches her.

GRANT: Notice how the deer that had its head down seems to throw its head up and that results in the vitals sinking faster than the speed of gravity. We believe this is because when the head comes up, the spine lowers quickly, almost like a fulcrum, and drops the vitals quicker than the speed of gravity. This also results in it being able to turn quicker than the deer that had its head up and simply throws its legs out to drop their whole body.

GRANT: Based on our observations and understanding of deer physiology, deer with their head down are basically cocked and can react quicker, like a sprinter in a starting block, than a deer that’s head up and standing flat-footed.

GRANT: Tyler’s shot was 30 yards, and many hunters are comfortable taking shots at that distance. When we put a mark on the deer before it reacts to Tyler’s shot, you see Tyler’s arrow goes through the mark.

GRANT: We have observed these types of reactions, time and time again.

GRANT: What makes this video so valuable and interesting is we’ve never been able to compare two deer in different positions, head up and head down, reacting to the same shot.

GRANT: After considering all these observations, there are several takeaways the GrowingDeer Team will apply to their hunts.

GRANT: Many hunters, including myself, have made the assumption that deer are calmer and less likely to react when their head is down feeding. We videoed ample hunts that show that’s simply not the case. Deer can react with their head up or head down.

GRANT: Deer that have their head down and react to the shot drop their vitals much quicker than a deer with their head up, which results in possibly missing or wounding the deer.

GRANT: After this hunt, I’m fully convinced the odds are much better to take the shot when the deer’s head is up.

GRANT: For years, I’ve shared that it’s best to aim at the bottom third of a deer’s vitals when using a bow. If the deer doesn’t react, it’s a great shot. If the deer does react, the odds are good, if the deer is 30 yards or less, that the shot will still be in the vitals.

GRANT: Studying how much the doe dropped that had her head up at 30 yards – the best-case scenario – makes me very, very cautious about taking a shot over 30 yards at any deer.

GRANT: Myself and the entire GrowingDeer Team have a strong desire to only take shots that have extremely high odds of being successful.

GRANT: Having that as a primary guideline for our hunting, it makes it easy to pass shots over 30 yards.

GRANT: We recently shared that I took a shot at a buck we called Slingshot at 34.5 yards. His head was down, and it was extremely quiet. There was no wind. He had a big reaction to the shot, and I did not recover Slingshot.

GRANT: I believe there’s a good chance, watching the footage many times, that Slingshot is still roaming The Proving Grounds. But had I watched Tyler’s hunt before that encounter, I would’ve likely passed that shot.

GRANT: I received hundreds of comments after we aired the Slingshot episode from folks that had experienced a similar event. They went in great detail about the bow, the arrows, the broadhead, whatever they were using, and that they were still losing sleep over that event.

GRANT: Those comments were the reason we took time to share the details of Tyler’s hunt, specifically the reaction of the two different deer.

GRANT: It’s our hope that the graphics and the explanation in this episode will help us all make better shot selections.

GRANT: There was another good lesson from Tyler’s hunt; and it occurred once Tyler skinned the doe, and we got inside.

GRANT: The doe was quartering to Tyler slightly when he took the shot, and because of that he aimed right behind the shoulder. The Deadmeat broadhead passed through ribs on both sides of the deer and both lungs.

GRANT: When we placed his Bloodsport arrow in the entry and exit hole of the deer, it became obvious it was very high in the chest cavity, close to the spine.

GRANT: Sometimes I hear hunters say their shot was high and the arrow likely passed right above the lungs. That’s probably not the case.

GRANT: When a deer’s lungs are full, they fill up the thoracic cavity, and there’s not room between the lungs and the spine.

GRANT: By the time any hunter field dresses a deer the lungs have deflated or collapsed, and it may look like there’s a lot of room between the top of the lungs and the spine.

GRANT: One thing that may mislead hunters in this event is that a deer that’s hit high will often bleed internally, and there won’t be much sign on the ground.

GRANT: Several years ago, Daniel hit a doe high after she’d reacted to a shot.

GRANT: Even though the shot looked extremely high, both lungs were hit, and she went down a few yards out of the hidey hole food plot.

GRANT: We share these observations and tips to help all hunters enjoy hunting more and be sure they bring home plenty of fresh venison.

GRANT: If you know some folks that would benefit from the information we share at GrowingDeer, please encourage them to subscribe, and I want to thank you for watching.

GRANT: For me, learning about Creation makes me enjoy my outings in Creation much more. But to get more out of life, I need to make sure I slow down every day, be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to me. I hope you do the same.

GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.