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GRANT: April 9th and Adam and I just returned from rolling up to South Dakota to help a client with his new property while Tracy found a couple more antlers here at The Proving Grounds.
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GRANT: April 9th and we got a call from a new client that had purchased a property up in South Dakota not too far off the Missouri River. Many people think of South Dakota as flat and cropland and pheasants, but there’s some outstanding deer hunting in South Dakota. And the land along the Missouri River called “The Breaks” have a lot of topography, it’s where Lewis and Clark chased elk and grizzly bears and white-tailed deer and it’s still wild and wooly. Great place to set up a new deer management program.
GRANT: This particular property was so wild it had very limited road so Adam and I had the privilege of doing a lot of walking, exploring 1500 acres up, over, down and around and you can find all kinds of stuff when you’re not worried about your scent going anywhere or spooking deer and you’re just digging in to learn the property.
GRANT: So, a solid two year old. No sign of brain abscess. Something we always want to check for. Skull – seven bones that make up the cranial cavity are all intact and…
GRANT: Some of the sign we found wasn’t real pleasant to report to him as we found a skull from one young buck and one nice buck while we’re learning the property.
GRANT: We know this is a male because of the tuberosities. You can see it really well right there.
GRANT: And a deep “V”.
GRANT: Although we’re all captivated by large antlers, when I got to looking at the skull, I noticed something else just as interesting.
GRANT: This buck had a lot of trouble because here on the, the opposite side, there’s also where I can see light all the way through underneath the antler, which is not normal. So I would say this deer died of natural causes. He was healthy. He probably got in a vicious fight or hit by a car or something really racked his antlers, caused his skeletal bones to spread or he did have a brain abscess and that acidic bacteria started eating through in a couple of places and caused him to have pressure on the side of his brain. He did not act normal and predators or a hunter or whatever could easily harvest him because he did not have full brain function.
GRANT: And a brain abscess is simply where, somehow, bacteria gets inside the skull, starts causing a growth or expansion of an infection and that puts pressure on a certain part of a deer’s brain. Oftentimes, these deer may walk out in the middle of a field during daylight or they’re the deer that jump through store windows or in schools that you hear about on the news because of this brain abscess putting pressure on their brain, causing them to have abnormal behavior.
GRANT: Years ago, University of Georgia did a study on brain abscesses and found that it’s a pretty low occurrence. It’s nothing that’s gonna change my management plans from passing up young bucks, allowing them to mature and express their full antler potential. One of the most important things, when you purchase property or even before you purchase the property, is to get another set of eyes to look at it and see if it meets your management objectives.
GRANT: Some properties are better suited for bow hunting, or gun hunting with big long views, or spot and stock, or mobility getting the family around, or walking areas. Whatever your goals and objectives are should match the property you acquire for hunting purposes.
GRANT: This property is well suited for our client and his objectives of having a great hunting opportunity for his sons and his family. We’ll lay out a management plan. Kind of help him put all the parts and pieces together and set back and watch him enjoy the fruits of his labor.
GRANT: Even though I travel for my work, my mind is never far away from The Proving Grounds and it doesn’t help when Tracy texts me and sends me a picture of her and Crystal with some big antlers.
GRANT: That was a dandy. Look at the basal circumference on that rascal. And he’ll end up back at the farm, but he won’t have a tag on him except a collection tag from MDC.
GRANT: Tracy left a pile of rocks out here in the road to direct Adam and I to where this was and this is an older kill. This is not this winter. As a matter of fact, Adam and I have been through the Reconyx pictures – don’t recognize the deer. Been through last year’s Reconyx pictures and don’t recognize the deer. And I think I would remember the potential of this coming on.
GRANT: Using the top jaw to estimate the age of a deer is even less accurate than using the bottom jaw. But these cusps, or points of the teeth, are so sharp and the basal circumference relatively small for my property, that I think this was a super two year old coming on strong.
GRANT: You know, this is a great example with six points on one side. Still didn’t score a whole lot but for those guys that are looking for a big score, you have to pass these up and let ‘em mature. They’ve got to get to four, five, six, seven to express their full potential. It just takes age to get that much mass out there, so tine length, of course, is 40% usually of a Boone and Crockett score and although, he’s got a lot of tines – very limited length. This deer wouldn’t score a whole lot, but give him a couple of years on a good diet and low stress. This would have been a wall hanger in anybody’s house.
GRANT: So, I’ll send my local conservation agent a text, cause in Missouri, you have to have a permit to pick these up and take ‘em back home. We’ll get some measurements and collect some data and just realize that we’re gonna lose about 10% or more of our standing crop of bucks each year to natural causes.
GRANT: Where I live, next to Branson, Missouri, is a notoriously poor, rocky gravely soil. It’s so rocky that a lot of minerals leech out of the reach of a deer with any amount of rainfall.
GRANT: But I’ve been adding Antler Dirt organic fertilizer and growing great crops for years to try to give the deer all the nutrition they need. But even at those programs, it’s real important that deer have all their trace minerals.
GRANT: Oftentimes hunters don’t put their Trophy Rocks out until July, August, when they’re putting their trail cameras out. But they may be missing a critical window by not having ‘em out this time of year when antlers and those fetuses and does are developing rapidly.
GRANT: Antlers are one of the fastest growing tissues known to man – especially among the animal kingdom. And it takes a huge amount of mineral content to do the equivalent of growing bone structure the size of your arm, losing it and growing it again the next year. They’re taking in minerals rapidly and a very convenient way to apply that is by putting Trophy Rocks out and keeping ‘em out year round.
GRANT: The fact that it’s all natural or a little bit easier to digest, it is really important when I look at blood flow to nerve endings to antler growth and fawn production. And deer are heavily using the Trophy Rocks at my property right now.
GRANT: When Adam and I returned from South Dakota, we pulled all the cards from our Reconyx cameras and this one card is just a perfect example of why I want Trophy Rocks out this time of year. Check out these couple of mature bucks. Big body, big shoulders – especially for this time of year. Don’t confuse a November posture of a buck with this time of year. Check out these overtly mature bucks digging on this Trophy Rock day after day after day.
GRANT: You know, if you’re using Reconyx or trail cameras, it’s really important to leave ‘em out year round. I use rechargeable batteries so batteries aren’t costing me anymore and get pictures of those bucks developing and sense those patterns and see where the big bucks are and learn about your property. It’s an awesome tool that shouldn’t be sitting in your closet nine months out of the year.
GRANT: This episode of Growing Deer will be released on the opening morning of Missouri’s regular turkey season. And I can assure you, Lord willing, Adam and I will be out on a ridge listening for turkeys and getting ready to cut and run.
GRANT: I hope you have a chance to get out and enjoy Creation this week. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.