Hunting whitetails in Texas can be extremely difficult – but not for Matt Moore, founder of the Mt. Enterprise-based company Closing the Distance. From shooting his first buck at 11 with a trusty 30-30, Matt now shares his passion for critters on-camera. Closing the Distance always makes sure that hunters get all the rush without any of the harmful side effects. Imagine a nine-inch cow-horn spike on Thanksgiving morning, with your rifle slung across your shoulder. This is how Matt Moore of Closing the Distance finds deer hunting: a high he can’t get enough of, plus a reliable source of venison stew for his family.
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Closing The Distance: Hunting Secrets With Matt Moore
Joining us on our show is Matt Moore. Matt is the Founder, Producer and Host of Closing the Distance TV. Matt’s been at the game quite a long time since 1997. He and his staff member, Johnny Risinger, started Closing The Distance. They began airing in 2000. What’s so special about Closing The Distance? One, the best part of the show for Matt is Moment of Truth segment of the show. You’ve got to watch the show to figure it out; deer management. Do we need to kill those? What bucks should we move from the property? When does a buck reach full antler potential? Finally, stress periods in deer. What time of year is that and what we can do to help mitigate that? Finally, ethical shot placement. Matt Moore has got a great show coming up. We’re heading down to Texas, Enterprise to be exact, and we’re going to connect with Matt Moore. Matt is the owner, producer, and everything at Closing The Distance TV. Matt, welcome to the show.
Thanks, Bruce. Everything’s good down here in Texas.
Yes, it is. We talked a little bit and I have never shot a whitetail in Texas. Sometime along the line, I hope to get there and see what kind of deer you guys got.
Texas has always been management minded. Not everybody but a lot of the hunters, they’ll try to get some age on the deer herd and see what the full potential is. It’s pretty fun.
I look at you and you’re starting Closing The Distance back in ’97?
Yes, we’d started the company then. We stand for three years just getting to put this together and we actually started airing on the Outdoor Channel in January of 2000. This is our 17th year so it’s been a lot of fun over the last seventeen years to see the industry change and grow. Back then we had to tell everybody what the Outdoor Channel was. It’s just a total change in the industry for sure with all the networks and television media. It’s really neat to know the history of doing it so long.
Why did you and Johnny Risinger start it?
I had bought out a deer scent business and it was basically just a mail order business. We had a few dealers. We sold deer scent, lures, and the bulk. We sold a lot of big pipe sizes and gallon sizes and we had contracts with some deer farms that collected urine. We sold it to other people who privately labeled it. We started the production part of it. I wanted to film a video to show the deer scent product being used in the field. We have made a video about that and some sponsors just saw it and said, “Jeff’s footage and information is better than what’s on TV. Start a TV show.” How do you do that? What’s the TV show? We started filming and getting ready for that and Johnny obviously had helped me out a lot with it and it just started off of a need to help advertise the company called Whitetail Product, is what it was. It started from there.
Talk about the camera gears you had back there as opposed to what we’ve got today?
It’s totally different everything. Back when we we’re just starting in ’96, ’97 in that timeframe, the digital format had just hit the market and everybody else was using the big Beta cameras and the digital MiniDV. It was the term back then. That terminology and that format had just hit and people were a little scared of it really. I had bought a MiniDV camera and took some footage to a big editing studio and they just couldn’t believe the quality of that format. Then it went from that to everything now where it’s full HD and everything’s stored on a card. You don’t have tapes anymore. You went from lugging around big Beta cameras and big Beta tapes to having something that can fit in the palm of your hand. It’s really unbelievable how technology has changed in a really in a good way. It’s so much easier now to get to capture a deer hunt. That didn’t used to be.
When you started out, where did the name Closing The Distance come from?
It was just strictly with me. Everything we do is bow hunting. Everything is in the tree and I want to get a deer in that fifteen, sixteen, seventeen-yard range. I want to be able to see it when I take a shot at him. It’s just what we did. We just want to close the distance. All the tips and tactics and information hunting to do that and that’s kind of what our mindset has been with me and all the staff.
Is it still the same today?
Absolutely, even more. Today, even with trail cameras being so popular and being such a huge tool in hunting, whether you’ve got a hunter bow hunt, right now, you spell them. Kill a deer now that you don’t know about. It’s odd to actually even see a good deer that you hadn’t had some type of history with basically because the trail cameras procure. You’re really wanting to close the distance on that particular deer. We hunt more particular buck or we have a deer on the hit-list more now than ever basically because of how technology has changed the way you hunt.
Help me understand the type of hunting you do. Are you’re in tree stand or are you in a ground blind or bucks blinds off the ground?
It’s some of all depending on where you’re at. I want to be in a tree regardless. I want to be up and have your safety system on a life line and experience the nature in a tree. There are so many places even in Texas, even if you head to South Texas or West Texas, there’s no timber to do that so you’re either in. We have a great sponsor called Citadel and it’s an awesome blind that you can go hunt or bow hunt out of. It’s perfect. It gets you elevated. You can see the ground blind. That industry has changed the way bow hunters kill deer because they’re portable and it’s a great product. It’s a great hunting style but we do everything. It doesn’t matter. If I’m in a trigger, the end result is we want to close the distance on a big deer. Whatever we have to use, that’s what we’re going to use.
When you say close the distance earlier you said ten to twelve yards. Is your maximum yard less than ten yards?
No, I want a deer close. Whitetails, they’re so cagey and athletic here in Texas. If I’m accurate with my bow as far as you want to shoot, but you can’t shoot at an animal, especially here in Texas, if you get past 25, 26 yards. By the time the arrow gets there, the deer is not going to be there. He’s going to move and you risk wounding one or making a bad shot. In Texas for sure, you want them in that seventeen, eighteen, nineteen yards. You’ve got to have them inside that perimeter to make those perfect shots because they’re just so much different than the northern deer. The northern deer is just a little bit more docile. I’m not saying the northern deer don’t move. You can take a little bit further shot. Your effective range in north compared to the south, you may be at 30 and 35 yards of north. To where in Texas, if you’re past 25 yards, you could just look then they move.
Did they jump the string or just so much brush and cover on them?
Yes, the terminology jumping the string is they’re reacting to the noise and the first thing they do is that they’re going to drop their front legs. They’re dropping their legs to get ready to run. At the time that arrow is getting there is when they’re dropping. That’s just the habit of a whitetail deer to lower their legs to get out of there. In a northern deer, just most of the time, it’s just right the opposite. Their first reaction is they’re just going to turn their head and look and see what the noise is and then by that time the arrow has hit him. The northern whitetails, for the most part, you don’t have that issue as you do here in the south. I say from the south, if you’re from East Texas, Louisiana, even all the southern states, the deer are really athletic compared to the northern deer.
What kind of bodies do the deer have on them as far as size?
Texas is such a huge demographic as far as the deer. Right here in east Texas, a mature five or six-year old buck deer in the rut, he’ll weigh 180, 190. That’s live weight. You can get down into south Texas, you’ll have a six or seven-year old deer that’s mature in the rut. It’s pretty common for them to be in the low 200, 210, 220 maybe. You get up north in the farm country, you’ll have a six or seven-year old deer in the rut where he’s 290, 300. It’s a good 70 to 80-pound swing, which is a lot for sure.
One thing you said, the things you want to cover is Moment of Truth saved on your TV show. Let’s explain to the listeners what’s that all about.
The listeners who have watched Closing the Distance, you will know. The Moment of Truth, there’s a preacher friend of mine, he pastored a church in Florida. His name is Brother Mark and he does a really short and simple Moment of Truth segment where he gives you a testimonial. He’ll give you some words of encouragement. He will give you just a mini sermon, a mini devotional, something that relates to what happened on the TV show today. He just tries to get you to understand how much God loves you. It is quick and simple. It is the best part of our show. We’ve been doing that for a long time. I would encourage you just to watch Closing The Distance just to hear what Brother Mark has to say. He’s a die-hard bow hunter who understands hunting. He loves the Lord and he’s passionate about both. He comes across great and you can watch our shows. If you don’t get the Pursuit Channel, you can find us on CarbonTV and watch him or look us up on YouTube just to hear the last 60 seconds of the show. I guarantee you it’s worth it.It's odd to actually even see a good deer that you hadn't had some type of history with basically. Click To Tweet
Since you brought up how to find you, let’s just go down the list, your URL, your website and everything else?
We’re really easy. It’s ClosingTheDistance.com and same way with our YouTube address just look us up on Closing The Distance. On Instagram, it’s the same. Facebook is the same, just Closing The Distance. The main thing is we air on the Pursuit Channel which started here for the first week of the third quarter. We’re up three times a week. We’re on Tuesday nights at eleven Eastern. That’s our prime time. We’re on Friday afternoon at 4:00, and Tuesday afternoons at 2:00. If you don’t get Pursuit which is on Dish and DIRECTV, you can catch us on CarbonTV. It’s just on CarbonTV. It’s online. You can watch the shows all the time. It’s the first episode you want to see and you can grab it and pull them off of YouTube, we’re pretty easy to find.
Thanks for that. On Twitter, are you Closing The Distance also?
Yes, we are.
When we talk about deer management, let’s just dive into that a little bit and talk about how you’ve managed your properties that you hunt.
No matter where you’re at, it’s a really simple rule if people just abide by it. It’s feed the deer. The deer have to have food during their stress periods for sure. Some people think they go to the store and buy a 50-pound sack of ultra-wheat, some sack of fertilizer and they can find a food plot for the fall and they think they’re feeding the deer, which is it’s good, but that’s not what it means. You need year-round nutrition. Every area in the deer woods, they have a stress period. In Texas, our major stress period is July and August and sometimes even into September because of the lack of rain sometimes. We can’t plant summer food plots or have summer crop fields unless you’re under irrigation. In the Midwest, they’ll have alfalfa fields or beans or whatever. They have food. That’s not a stress period for the deer. Their stress period might be winter. Our late winter stress period is we don’t have much for winter. It’s not cold and brutal, but you have to supplement feed. No matter where you’re at, find your stress periods. Number one.
You had to let the deer get out, feed them, and let them grow. Shooting a deer when they’re two and three and four and even five years old is not the right thing to do if you want to grow big deer. It’s simple science that in the deer’s skeletal system, the growth plates don’t even connect on a whitetail deer until they’re at least six years old, so he’s not going to have his bestseller antlers until he’s either six and even in the seven. Many hunters they’ll say deer is two years old or three years old because they’ll think he’s got short tines or something or of snare spread and they’re pulling the trigger and they use the word management. Management hunter or co-hunt, they use these words that TV shows use to justify us having an excuse to kill a deer for fame is what it was.
Then hunters are using these words to justify themselves just wanting to kill a deer. I’ve made those mistakes a thousand times and a lot of other people on TV media. We’ll shoot a deer and use the word, use the code word or management word just to justify ourselves. We need footage is what it would have basically boil down to, which is totally wrong. I’ve done my best in the past several years to stop that. If you’re shooting two-year old deer, wait till they’re three, let a three-year old pass. If you let a three-year old deer buck pass, wait until he’s four. Once you start doing that, you get in the habit of doing it. It’s so fun to see a deer age and get to that seven-year-old age because they’re just so mature. It’s an unbelievable animal. Let a deer get some age on him.
For our listeners, how old do your deer get before they just die of old age or their teeth wear away or whatever? What’s their upper age?
Ten, eleven, twelve years old. It depends if they’re stressed, it depends on predators. If deer’s got groceries, he’s got a place to hide and he’s got food, unfortunately, he’s going to get run over by a car or get shot with a bullet or arrow just before he dies of old age. That’s rare in the wild on the whitetail deer just because they get so many obstacles. They got a lot of predators trying to get them.
Yes, they do. How long is your hunting season from when it starts with archery and then when it ends? How many months?
In Texas, the archery season starts either that last weekend of September or first of October. Texas gives hunters five weekends to bow hunt and then the general raffle season comes in, but you can bow hunt all through the general raffle season as well. It’s October, November, and December. It closes the second week or so in January, but with the state of Texas, if you’re under level three permits, MLD level threes, what that means is you’re working through with the state biologist and they issue you tags to hunt particular pieces of property. That season goes on almost to the end of February. They do that give you more time to get your deer numbers, get the deer kill that you made on your management program. Four months, you have a long for four and a half months season. It is pretty liberal, which is good.
Your rut is in December or is it early in November?
Depending on what part of Texas. On the eastern part of Texas where I live, the rut is really similar to that in the Midwest. You’re that first and second week of November, but when you get down in the South Texas, everything in south Texas is always a month behind. You’re going to have your rut a month behind so that means your fauns are born later. When your fauns are born later, you’ve got fauns that are being born here in south Texas. Even right now, a lot of the faun haven’t even hit the ground yet. Where everybody else, most of the fauns have already been born. To get deer down there that are born late, that’s why you have a lot of spot books and four points and three points so they’re just younger. Hunters don’t realize that about a whitetail, about them needing that age. That’s why you see so many young four points or five, they’re just babies that were born late. There’s not a genetic problem per se. They just got late birthdays by the time they start growing the rack. There are a lot of things other people just don’t take into consideration.
That’s for sure. I’m learning every single day, every single interview I have.
That’s the main thing. If you’re hunting in Texas, if you’re hunting in Michigan or Pennsylvania or Florida or Georgia or wherever, so many hunters we know, because I get to hunt in a lot of different places, a lot of hunters s go on their ground or they’re just with blinders on. They think what goes on their particular ground or wherever they hunt, they think that’s what the whitetail does everywhere. If you really want to learn more about hunting and more about your deer, I’ll challenge you to hunt somebody else’s ground or book a hunt. Go somewhere else at least one weekend of the year. Somewhere else, if you can just go somewhere different, totally opposite where you’re at. That’s why I’ve learned so much because I get to hunt different. What goes on in Texas is not what goes on in Ohio. What goes on a Kansas is not what goes on in Wisconsin. It’s just different, although these differences are what helps us understand more about whitetail.
I was going to say it helps you close the distance.
What about managing does? What’s your stand on that?
The organizations out there did a really good job of advertising that the doe numbers are high. You got to kill a lot of those off your property. In some cases, that’s true. In some cases, that’s totally false. Even the ground where I live on, where our acres are here in Texas, our doe numbers are low because we have so many other people punting around us. You might go five miles or six miles south and they may have too many deer, or you may go on a certain part of Kansas where you need to kill does. You may go a hundred miles north and there’s not any deer. It’s been crammed down our throat with magazines and other TV shows: shoot your does. You don’t necessarily have to. If you’re sitting on a foot wide and you’re seeing ten to fifteen does every afternoon, shoot some. If you’re not seeing deer when you go out, you may see one doe and a couple of fauns, you’re not overpopulated so don’t get too quick on pulling the trigger if you’re not seeing very many deer.
Is there a magic number? If you got a hundred acres and you’re seeing ten does sitting, is that way too many does? Help me out with those numbers.
On some ground that we manage in south Texas every year, because of the brush and it’s low, it’s really easy to count your deer. We do helicopter surveys. You get in a helicopter and fly a grid pattern and you’re actually looking at the deer on the ground and counting them. You do it year after year and you get patterns. It’s so fun and you learn so much, but on lot of the ground in south Texas, if you’re managing your gap supplement feed, the rule of thumb is you’re wanting one deer to every ten acres. That’s on a place that’s managed. To places that are not managed, law would just want to tell you to have one deer to every twenty acres. It’s really easy math to figure out how much grounds, how many acres you have, and to know one if you’re overpopulated or not. It’s not rocket science to figure that out. It’s really simple.
That’s in Texas. I haven’t talked to a biologist in a long time up in Wisconsin, but we got some fields with alfalfa. There’ll be twenty or 30 does out there, but they come off.
Yes, but that’s what you have to remember. There might be twenty or 30 standing in that ten or fifteen-acre alfalfa field, but that’s all the deer you might be pulling for two miles around. I don’t know how many alfalfa are there. If there are twenty or 30 deer in every alfalfa field, if there’s alfalfa fields stacked on top of each other, you’re overpopulated. That’s what I’m saying, if there’s a hunter that’s hunting an area and he’s got so many deer there and he’s having to shoot for five or six does a year, he can’t complain or graph at a hundred that’s ten miles away. That’s not seeing any deer. That’s not shooting any does. That’s what I’m talking about is you’ve got to know what’s going on in your ground don’t necessarily mean what’s going on a few miles down the road. Every track is different. That’s what makes whitetails so unique.
I liked what you said a minute ago. Go someplace different, see how your skills stack up. I hear what you’re saying because it really will open your eyes and I’ve been fortunate enough to do that and you go, “I wonder if that would work back at the farm where we typically hunt?” It makes you a better hunter. There is no question about it. Let’s switch gears and talk about Treezyn and your relationship there and how that began? Unpack that for a little bit.It's not the product, it's the person. Click To Tweet
Treezyn came on board with us as a sponsor. I’ve known about Treezyn for a couple of years and it’s been several years ago when they first launched them social media posts and stuff and I saw their pattern. I didn’t know anybody with Treezyn. First time I ever saw it I said, “Who’s this?” I really liked the pattern. This pattern will help me no matter where I hunt because it doesn’t give you that silhouette look. It blends everywhere. I send them an email off their website wanting to be a dealer. I wanted to sell some on my website. The next thing I know, they knew who I was from the email and they called and they started sending me products and they just went from there. They are a great company with great owners and people and styling staff. They’re awesome. If people are listening and they’ve never heard of Treezyn or never know anything about it, just Google it, check them out. If you don’t like their pattern, you don’t like anybody.
Who are the people running that? Why don’t you just go down the list?
You got Cobb. He says he’s in charge. He’ll tell you that but you’ll know who’s in charge if you know everybody around. He’s got so many people who love his company more than he does. That’s kind of way I’ve got interpreted. In a good way. He’s got some great team of people, employees and truly they love what he does more than he does which is awesome.
What’s the importance of having a sponsor like that?
You want a sponsor obviously that has great product but having people that believe in what you’re trying to do and what you like, it’s more of it’s not the product, it’s the person. It’s not that relationship is just strictly people. They believe in Closing The Distance and I believe in their brand, to put it simply.
You mentioned that the pattern blends in no matter where you are. Let’s talk about places you hunt and have hunted with Treezyn Camo and why your mindset is it just blends in.
There are a lot of great patterns out there to help you hide, and some of the serious hunters that are listening, they’ll understand what I’m saying by this. It’s a pattern. If you grab your camo jacket and you’ve got to walk in the store with it to get gasoline or get grocery, you don’t mind wearing their jacket. You don’t mind wearing the product. I’m not saying it’s a fashion statement, but it just looks good and it works. It’s appealing to the eye. It blends in the woods. There’s nothing wrong with it on any aspect. What’s even better than that, the products and new patterns that they’re showing me, it’s going to be out on the market soon. It’s unlimited. It’s so cool.
I can’t wait to put her to work on my sheep hunt in August. I tried to get some of their new stuff and I didn’t have any luck doing that. That’s kind of humorous. You are in a tree stand, why does Treezyn help you to blend in or disappear?
They had to have that hardwood pattern, that light season pattern that if you’re leaned up against the tree, in the tree, in the leaves, in the limbs, when the deer is looking up, the deer doesn’t see a big dark blob. You’ve got to have multiple colors, multiple hues, and just the different patterns that just helps you hit. It needs to give you an extra three or four or five seconds. It blends you when you pull your bow backer or especially with us, with our camera person in the tree. Just anything that gives you those extra seconds, you just want to lock it.
Extra seconds count with whitetails, folks. Everybody knows that. If you get made by a buck or a doe and they look right at you, you can’t move, you can’t blink.
I’d recommend not looking at them in the eyes. Look away. Look at the ground or something.
Let’s end up the show about shot placement and the ethical hunter.
Shot placement has always been a big deal for me. We have a video called Shot Placement 101 that we have sold thousands of copies. We have so many hunter educational programs that use that video in their program. It’s a DVD right now because of our sponsorships that we sent the people for free and you pay the shipping and we’ll send you the DVD. It’s for footage because I’ve looked at thousands of shots on that while I’m editing. I’ve seen so many of them and I understand shot placement. It’s not because I know more about you, our listener, it’s because I’ve edited so many hunts and I know the deer’s angle when arrows hit. I just know it because I’ve done it for so long. It’s just passion to me. That’s why we made the video. To educate hunters, especially bow hunters about when to take shots, where to aim, why do you aim where you do. We could have another an hour conversation, a whole other radio podcast on that subject. About people who hadn’t seen the DVD, just get online and order. It’s a great product.
Where do we order again?
They can just go to ClosingTheDistance.com. Even on the home page, you can click on the store on there and there’s the Shot Placement DVD at the bottom and click on it to get it here. It’s really simple for them to order it online.
Thanks to that. We’re right up at the end of the show here, Matt. Give some shout outs to your sponsors, to people that have helped you along the way and whoever else you want to mention.
Yes. We were already talking about Treezyn. It’s a great company. I invite everybody to check them out. Anybody that’s ever bow hunted, you for sure know Lumenok. They’ve been with us since day one. It’s an awesome product, which goes back to shot placement. If you got your limb locked on your arrows, you can see where your arrow goes. Hunter Safety System. If you’re in a tree, we talked about hunting in trees, if you’re not wearing a hunter safety system, to put it bluntly, you’re an idiot. Safety is number one and that company has you covered whatever size you are, men, women, boys or girls, they got you covered. The new hunters out there, if you’ve been watching TV and following media, you know about Ozonics. It is an unbelievable product, especially for bow hunters. If you’re a gun hunter, strictly a gun hunter, Ozonics should be illegal for you. That’s how good that is. It just should be.
Bow hunters still have to pull your bow back and close the distance. You still have to know more about scouting and know where to hang stands. Gun hunters sitting in trees where they’re shooting at deer 75 yards, 100 yards out, Ozonics should be against the law be against the law. Matthews is a better bow sponsor for forever. I mentioned to some of you, even the northern hunters that are listening, if you want to stay warm and you love to bow hunt, maybe check out the Citadel. It’s an awesome product for bow hunters, especially the bow hunters who look at late season hunts where they want to have a heater in the bond and they want to stay warm when it’s down below zero and when chill factors’ bad. You may want to check out that product. It’s awesome.
Thanks so much for being a guest, Matt. More about Closing The Distance and across North America we’ve got listeners that learn a little bit more about what whitetail hunting. Matt Moore, thank you so much for being on the show.
- Matt Moore
- Closing the Distance TV
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- Moment of Truth
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- Shot Placement 101
- Hunter Safety System