We're days away from some of the best whitetail hunting opportunities of the season and you can increase your odds by setting up in areas that funnel whitetails. Look for them and the quick road to success. Tree lines, shrubs, hedges and narrow strips of timber all funnel whitetails, but manmade objects can also be used. Some of the most obvious manmade funnels include travel-restricting objects such as roads and fences. While visiting the Minneapolis area for work I'd routinely skip out and take hikes in many of the parks throughout the urban center. Highways and sound barriers were obvious restrictions creating funnels. Whitetail trails paralleled their course funneling deer through the maze of neighborhoods. It wasn't uncommon at all to be following a trail and run face to face with a whitetail headed to feed on a manicured lawn for the evening.
Fences also provide funnel opportunities. Whitetails have no qualms about jumping a fence, but higher than normal or tightly strung fences may make them think twice. Instead of jumping, they'll follow it for convenience looking for a low spot to cross or an open gate. While guiding for Powder River Outfitters in southeast Montana we routinely watched whitetails follow a fence to an open gate leading to an irrigated alfalfa field and set stands for a later ambush.
There's nothing to say you can't build your own fence too except maybe an uninformed landowner. If you own your own property or have the blessing of a landowner, building a 5-foot fence to force whitetails through an ambush area is a smart idea. The fence doesn't have to be fancy and can even be temporarily stapled to trees. It just needs to eliminate travel options and force deer into a more restricted route you can take advantage of.
If you don't want to go to the work of building a fence, but wish to stop deer from sneaking by your funnel position, alter the terrain. Stacking brush over trails creates a barrier forcing whitetails to take a trail of your choice, not theirs. I once built a scarecrow out of large branches, an old tire and cow bones smack dab in the middle of a trail to make the whitetails go the other way. It worked, but almost too well. When they popped over the hill and saw the alien blocking the route they bolted in my direction, but too fast for a bow shot. I learned two important lessons.First, allow the deer to see the scarecrow from farther away, but more importantly I learned I could funnel deer by my stand.
If you can't find a good funnel in your hunting area, make your own, but most importantly, hunt a funnel for success.
I admit it. I've already missed this season. I had a pronghorn buck give me fits before I finally connected. If you hunt enough you'll undoubtedly miss as well. It's part of the experience, but something you can actually fix over time. Here are a few simple steps to diminish your missed shots.
I've been sneaking off to bowhunt pronghorns and deer on public lands the last week. Some of the locations have been less than desirable, but others have been somewhat surprising. In fact this morning I bumped into a mule deer buck that was quite respectable. Had I known he was going to bed in sagebrush pocket I couldn't see into I would have been ready. At least now I know he's in the neighborhood. My son accompanied me on a weekend bowhunt for pronghorns last week on BLM ground. It was a fast and furious hunt, but I did manage to arrow a young buck to start filling the freezer. If you plan on hunting public lands this fall you may want to consider every public land option to make your hunt more enjoyable and more successful.
We all dream about pursuing game in exotic or trophy-producing locations.
Regardless if you shoot the new world record or a fat yearling doe, spend the extra time to take a good photograph of your trophy this coming season.
To get the most from your trail camera you need to put it in the right place and summertime is a great time for your first peek at your fall quarry.
Regardless if you're hunting whitetails, muleys elk or pronghorn, you can set up a trail camera for firsthand surveillance. A friend and I set up trail cameras last week for elk and in another week we're hiking back in to see who's calling the mountain home. Another friend of mine is using my backup camera to capture whitetail images on a property in South Dakota where I hunt. He sends me E-mail updates and keeps me up-to-speed on big buck sightings.
In summer bucks and bulls take on a careless, gluttonous nature as they gorge on the best foods to beef up before the rut. Even mature bucks and bulls become more relaxed, oftentimes revealing themselves in the presence of other bachelors during daylight hours on soybean, alfalfa or other candy-like crops. Bachelor groups of bucks and bulls become a band of brothers, and will do almost everything together up until the breeding season when they begin to disband.
Great places to set up for summer photos are on field edges, water holes, refuge cover and the trails in between all of these. You can capture images of any species using these locations. If water is scarce, set up a camera overlooking a water sources muddled with big game tracks.
Good luck on your images and I hope a big one says "cheese" for you.
It's less than two months before major hunting seasons kick off. My head is already swimming with things to do and plans to make. Since I switch weapons each season to showcase the latest and greatest from the manufacturers I spend a considerable amount of free time sighting in. This year I've been busy setting up my Mathews Reezen and Mathews Monster (www.mathewsinc.com) for fall hunting season.
I've also equally been busy setting up my new Thompson Center (www.tcarms.com) Venture centerfire rifle and Triumph muzzleloader. Are these my top priorities?
They rank right up there, but another job you need to consider is lining up hunting areas. If you're hunting public lands you need to spend time scouting for game and learning the perimeters. If you're hunting private land you need to renew friendships and offer to help with any chores to "pay" for your privileges.
Setting aside hunting time on your schedule, particularly with your boss, is another priority chore you need to address. If you wait too long important windows like the pronghorn, elk or deer rut may be taken up by other coworkers. You don't want to be in the office when the elk are bugling or the whitetails running?
Finally, go through all your gear for each hunt and make sure nothing needs to be cleaned, repaired or replaced. It will save you lots of time during the season if you try and prepare and hunt at the same time.
Here's one last tip. If you're lucky enough to have a few dollars lying around and possibly on the hunt for an outfitted hunting trip, this may be your year. I've talked with a lot of outfitters over the past several months and many are behind in bookings from 20 to 50 percent. To keep income flowing they are giving some deals. Get on the phone and negotiate. You may get the hunt of a lifetime for a bargain basement price.
Did you catch the first, new episode of TruckVault Xtreme Hunts? I didn't either. They just kind of snuck up on me and here we are again kicking off a new show season.
This year TruckVault Xtreme Hunts has been combined with Americana Outdoors.
We're still going to show you great hunts, but you get two outdoor adventures for the price of one admission.
The show lineup has been added to this site. Click on "The Show" icon and then click "Show Schedule" for episode information.
I think you're going to like this season's lineup. I hunted caribou, elk, mule deer, whitetail, quail, pheasants and waterfowl, and each show provides strategies and tips on how to be successful. We also invited some Heroes along to show them our thanks for their public service.
It's show time again and I appreciate your support in watching the show.
See you in the field!
Take a look at the accompanying photo. Don’t laugh. This could be you in seven years thanks to new vehicle fuel standards pushed by the president. New Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards were proposed this week and automakers will have less than seven years to get meet or exceed the standards.
Now I’m not going into all the excessive details of the standards. You can read up on it via the Internet. In short, in seven years new cars will have to get 39 mpg and light trucks will have to get 30 mpg. This will cost you and me approximately $1,300 per vehicle when you add in new technology and increased prices for the future. The government says you should recoup the increased cost in about three years after purchase with fuel savings. There are some ways around the standards, but this photo, as funny as it appears, could be the future for hunters.
I’m all for conserving energy, but I also believe we should be able to make our own decisions and drive what we “need” to drive to fit our lifestyles. Last year’s high fuel prices had many of us, me included, rethinking driving habits. We purchased a smaller car to make runs that don’t require a truck. I didn’t need the government guidelines to tell me that my budget needed a break from high fuel prices. The car did the trick, but I still have my truck when the snow is deep or the elk are heavy.
Hopefully technology will allow trucks to catch up on fuel efficiency. If not, I’m going to have to eat half my elk on the mountain so the rest will fit in my fuel efficient car.
It's primetime for spring bear hunting from now through mid-June. A few hunters still get to pursue bears with hounds, but the majority of us are restricted to baiting and even more to spot and stalk strategies. In dense woods and bush baiting is the way to go. The state of Maine has embraced baiting for bear management due to the dense forests that make up much of the state.
Some say baiting bears is like shooting fish in a barrel. I say give it a try and then come back to the table to talk. Sure you might be able to shoot a little "Boo-Boo" bear easily over bait, but the mature, giant boars rarely give themselves up as easily. They slink just out of bow range, oftentimes firearm range, of the bait as the sniff for danger. I've lost count of how many times I've seen big black shadows circle bait and never materialize for a shot.
One of my all-time best bowhunts was a black bear hunt over bait. The hunt was drawing to an end and at dusk a bear, a very large bear, showed up under my stand. In a second he was gone. A few minutes later he returned with attitude. He stood up on his hind legs, grabbed the ladder and woofed as he shook the tree. I scrambled for higher ground fearing the brute was coming up the tree, but he must have felt confident he scared me witless since he stopped and began toward the bait.
I was scared and to this day I don't recall making the shot, but when I gathered my senses I walked over to look at the largest bear I've shot to date. If you're looking for some excitement this spring, try sitting bait for a bear. It's definitely not like shooting fish in a barrel.
If you haven't gotten after the turkeys yet you better get going. The season is halfway over in many regions of the country. Midseason also means educated turkeys and the stupid birds of the opener are just a distant memory.
Here are a few tips to help you put an educated tom in the freezer. First, hunt with a partner. After being relatively sure of the gobbler's route, set your calling partner approximately 50 to 70 yards behind you in a screened position. Having the caller hidden is crucial since your goal is to have the gobbler hunt for the maker of the calls. As the gobbler searches the brush for the hen imposter he should wander right into your lap without realizing the unfolding ambush taking place.
Second, sound like an entire flock. Practice and be proficient with several styles of calls. This will give you flexibility in trying to find a call and pitch a gobbler may respond to, plus you can sound like more than one bird.
An overanxious gobbler will be more than happy to woo two ladies as compared to one. A boss hen will also be less leery when moving toward what sounds like a small flock of hens as compared to a loner.
Finally, If a gobbler won't budge and you don't like the option of sitting quietly, turn away from the gobbler and slowly start to walk away, calling as you go. Without question a gobbler will realize you are leaving, possibly sparking it to gobble incessantly or to chase down the departing hen.
I took my kids out this past weekend and you can see the results of employing some of these midseason tactics. Good Luck!
If you’re one of the many hunters now partaking in the turkey season you might be encountering winter weather. Even if you don’t have the presence of snow, cold weather can still challenge turkey hunters who are wondering why their pre-scouted birds suddenly disappeared. If the cold weather had been throwing wrenches into your season, here are some tips to try.
First, it’s possible the cold weather has caused a panic in the turkey population and instead of forging out to new spring grounds, they abandoned that goal for the security of winter havens. Most turkeys discover winter zones that are hospitable and offer cover as well as food. You’ve seen large flocks of turkeys in the winter hanging out near a farm or ranch, or loafing along a steep ridge that offers wind protection and abundant forest duff for scracthing. Return to those locations and see if your turkeys have turned up there.
Second, look for turkeys in microenvironments. These zones are small areas that turkeys and other animals use to avoid the inclement conditions occurring around them at the moment. South-facing slopes, deep coulees and wind-blown ridges all provide small environments where turkeys may evade the wintry conditions, yet scratch out a living.
Finally, hunt traditional roosts. If you’ve watched turkeys roost in a particular tree time and time again, return to it. You might just catch a mamma’s boy that doesn’t want to get too far from the nest. Good Luck!
That time of year has come and is going quickly. What time is that? It's time to apply for limited quota licenses across the country. If you ever hope to shoot a trophy mule deer, elk or even a grand bighorn sheep, you need to apply now.
One of the great offerings from many states is the opportunity to purchase preference points that you can cash in later. Say you don't want to draw a license this year, but maybe two years from now. Purchase your preference points now and cash in your total points later to go hunting.
Many of the hard-to-get licenses take years and possibly a lifetime to acquire, but it won't happen if you don't start applying now. If you're too busy to apply look into using a service such as Cabela's Trophy Application and Guide Service (cabelas.com). They do all the work and you pay them a fee for keeping track of deadlines and applying for you. I use them to increase my odds in acquiring great tags and in the long run, it saves me money because time is money.
If you have several hunts you'd like to accomplish in your lifetime, it's time to start applying for the license. Good Luck!
Aren’t you glad that so many state game and fish departments are taking a second look at antiquated laws concerning how old a child has to be to hunt? I am. Two years ago I had to travel to Kansas just to take my kids turkey hunting because they weren’t 12 yet. Many states have been revisiting these laws due to the lower number of licensed hunters. Numerous studies also indicate that if you don’t get a child involved in an activity by the time they reach 10 it’s difficult to capture their attention.
I know that for a fact. My kids are overwhelmed with activities grabbing their attention. Hockey, figure skating, baseball, music, 4-H and others take up after school hours and many weekend hours to boot. Luckily states have been lowering the age to hunt or getting rid of age limits entirely. Personally, I think parents should be the ones to decide when a child is responsible enough to hunt, but at least many of the states are lowering the hunting age to 10.
My son shot his first turkey when he was 9 and my daughter missed a gobbler when she was 7. We had a blast on the hunt and it made a lifelong impression on both. Take your kids hunting as soon as possible. We need them!
It’s that time of year again. Yes, tax time too (don’t remind me), but more importantly, it’s almost turkey season. Some states are about to begin like Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Others are nearly a month out.
Turkey hunting offers experienced and greenhorns alike a great opportunity to be afield. It’s exciting, relatively inexpensive and you don’t have to worry about looking for a monster trophy with gagging quality antlers. Most turkeys after 2 ½ years of age look alike. For me, turkey hunting is the best option to introduce newcomers to the sport of hunting.
Now is the time to prepare your gear, practice your calls and most importantly, scout. Winter flocks are still bunched, but don’t worry if you can’t get permission on the same property where the birds are wintering. Try locating adjacent public and private land to where the big flocks hang out. Once warm weather arrives those turkeys will spread out and you’ll likely have gobbler roaming on your side of the fence. Plus, resist the temptation to call birds in preseason. There’ll be plenty of time to call when you have a shotgun in hand and it’s easy to make a gobbler wary of calls. Finally, pattern your shotgun. Pick a load and shoot it at a target the size of a turkey’s noggin. Keep shooting at different distances and determine how far your shotgun is capable of cleanly killing a bird.
Today I’m more worried about getting a turkey for my son and daughter than for myself, but the rush is still the same. Now back to those taxes…or do we get to skip a year like many of the top level officials in Washington?
I hope none of you are going through "TruckVault Xtreme Hunts" withdrawal.
I'm not. Why, because I'm still in recovery mode from shooting the second season series. And with the second season in the editing studio it's the time of year to begin planning for the 2010 show season and those hunts will take place during the fall of 2009.
Is there anything you really liked or disliked? Is there anything you'd like to see? Do you have a hero to nominate for one of our "Hero Hunts?" Let me know in this comment section. I have a good idea where I'm going this coming season. It takes months of planning to coordinate a nonstop fall schedule, but you never know. I may not draw a particular tag or I may have a hole in my travel schedule to add in another hunt. I generally try and plan an extra hunt or two or three since not every hunt is successful.
As for the 2009 show season, keep looking here and I'll keep you posted. The show is going to undergo some cosmetic changes, but rest assured the action will be fast and furious, and the content will be loaded with great hunting information. If you still can't live without some Kayser content, watch me on North American Hunter, also on Versus (www.huntingclub.com). See you in the movies!
So how has the economy been affecting you? Here in Wyoming it’s definitely not as apparent as what I’ve been seeing during my winter travels in other corners of the country. Wyoming’s energy industry is still strong despite lower prices. Housing hasn’t crashed and there are still “help wanted” ads in the newspaper. Basically if you want to work you still can find a job.
An outfitter buddy of mine recently called me from the floor of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, the giant of sport shows based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Although he still felt he was going to have a full camp throughout the fall of 2009, he also could tell that people weren’t openly spending money in advance. Booking future camps wasn’t a sure bet either.
We’re all in this together and even though hunting is expensive, here are some additional tips to save money. First, hunt close to home and drive your fuel-efficient car instead of your truck when possible. Believe it or not, TruckVault makes products for car storage as well. If you get a buck you can always buzz back to load the deer and get it home. Second, if you book a hunt with an outfitter, negotiate out the price of your hunt. You haggle over cars, guns and repair work, why not a hunt. Third, attend your local sport show or DU, RMEF or other conservation organization annual banquet. While attending, look for deals on firearms and even hunts. The cheap prices may surprise you. Finally, keep hunting. It might just be one of the few things to keep your spirits up as this economic turmoil keeps unfolding.
Although we had the sun, our most recent TruckVault Hero hunt in New Mexico was minus the surf and the sand. Instead, we had rocks and cactus, but more importantly we had quail. Regardless of the missing beach, it was a great midwinter getaway.
Last week I was fortunate to host New Mexico Army National soldiers Anthony Lopez and Jason Riley for a scaled quail hunt in south-central New Mexico. I teamed up with Bob King who operates the Santa Fe Guiding Company (www.santafeguidingco.com) to host these two deserving soldiers for their first-ever bird hunt. Neither had hunted birds before so when each of them leveled on a scaled quail and brought gravity into play, a smile spread across my face.
Lopez completed a tour in Iraq nearly three years ago and is likely to deploy again soon. Riley recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan so both have been on the front line protecting our freedom. We hunted for nearly three days and although we never got our daily limits, we did see plenty of birds for all-day shooting opportunities. Heck, we even did some history spelunking and visited a decrepit bunkhouse where Billy the Kid once slept. Giving these guys a break from their important job was a treat for me, but can we truly thank these guys and gals enough? I don’t think so.
I have a soft spot for winter wildlife. In fact, it snowed a pile overnight again and I went out and scraped out a spot for the songbirds, partridge and pheasants to feed. After getting down to grass, I sweetened the location with commercial bird seed and corn. Unfortunately, the mule deer have also discovered the Shoney’s buffet and at sunset they raid it like a pack of raccoons in a neighborhood garbage can. No problem…the birds get theirs before the floppy-ear herd arrives.
I just returned back from the SHOT Show in Orlando. It’s nice to get away, but the return home is always sweeter. Overall the industry is doing fine, but everyone is in a saving mode just like the rest of America. I don’t know about you, but I am into saving, but some of my best stress relief is being outdoors so I’m also going to continue to invest in the industry. Regarding the show, I saw lots of new and updated products so it’s difficult to sort out what everyone believes are the most noteworthy. Here are a few of my favorites.
First, Hunter’s Specialties stunned me with two new products. The first is a new call named the “Kruncher” and does jus that. It mimics the noise of a deer crunching on acorns and serves as a confidence or calming call for whitetails. HS pro staff member Gerald Stewart says it also works wonders on hogs visiting a corn feeder as well. HS also launched a new food plot product with applications beyond the world of whitetails. Named “Vita-Rack Moisture Trap,” this product is mixed into the soil or sprayed on top to retain moisture. I’ve seen the results. It traps 400 times its own weight in moisture for plants to use during dry spells. It will work in your garden, with new trees and your food plot. For more information visit www.hunterspec.com.
I’m always on the lookout for ways to carry my gear more comfortably in the field. One issue I constantly struggle with is keeping my binocular secure while I’m jogging through the woods or even riding my saddle horse. A new product I’m going to try is the Opticbelt made by Del Norte Outdoors. Keep your regular strap on the binocular, but use the adjustable belt, which includes a neoprene wrap to securely hold your binocular against your body. The gizmo cinches a belt around your midsection and also offers dust and moisture protection via the neoprene. See it at www.delnorteoutdoors.com.
I’ll wade through more of my notes and see if I can’t find another item or two of interest for you in the future. Until next time ….
Next week is SHOT Show and it’s being held in Orlando, Florida. If you’re a regular attendee of SHOT Show and you’d like to talk hunting with me, stop by the TruckVault booth, #1589 on Feb. 15, 16 and 17 from 2-3 p.m. I’d love to hear your stories.
If you want to continue the hunt this winter, there’s no better opportunity than hunting coyotes. I truly believe that any hunter who consistently scores on coyotes is a great hunter. Why? Coyotes are like us. They are hunters and practice their game 24/7. If you want to be a better hunter, put your sights on Wile E. Here are some tips that might make you a better coyote hunter. I know they’ve worked for me.
Happy New Year
It’s Christmas week and a time to spend with family, and friends. I just wrapped up a late-season waterfowl and pheasant hunt in South Dakota with some new and old friends. We were hosted by my good friend Cody Warne who operates Warne Ranches (www.warneranches.com). There I met good friend Don Fenton who oversees marketing for TruckVault and we also teamed up with two new friends, Leroy and Scott Lewis, both Nebraska natives.
It’s that time of year again when the weather outside is frightening and trying to stay warm while hunting is as difficult as Illinois trying to find an honest politician. My thermometer said 16 below zero this morning and I’m grateful not to be sitting in a treestand somewhere.
It's been a long season and even though I have a couple of bird hunts yet on the schedule, I've wrapped up most of my big game hunting for the season. It's been a great season as I'm sure you can see from my previous blogs and I thank the Lord every day for my success. I also thank my family for being so understanding about my absence while I'm trying to keep meat on the table and the bills paid.
Trust me, I'm going to re-visit the comment section of the site and get caught up as soon as possible. I did get some updates in during the season, but as hunters I'm sure you know how run down a person gets after being up well before sunrise and getting less than the recommended amount of sleep per day. It's great to sleep in my own bed again!
If you're still hunting whitetails, keep tabs on the weather system moving in next week. In my neck of the mountains it is supposed to drop below zero and that will make tired bucks go to food for survival. If you don't think you can hack the cold, try what I did this season. I used a Heater Body Suit (wwww.heaterbodysuit.com). It kept me warm, yet ready for action. I hate being cold, especially as I get older and this system works to keep me warm.
Now get after those late-season whitetails and don't forget to X-mas shop for that someone special in your life.
Here's a quick update from the road. I've been getting reports of big bucks from all corners of the country, but especially from my own backyard in the Great Plains and mountain states. The best update is my own. I guess the Lord works in mysterious ways, but he sure made my day this past Saturday.
After 30 years of hunting I finally came face to face with a giant buck, but it happened so fast I didn't even know it. On Nov. 22 we were filming in South Dakota for TruckVault Xtreme Hunts. Just minutes into shooting light several vehicles accessed land to our east and a few seconds later I saw a deer running our way. I put my Nikon binocular up to my face and saw a large-framed buck with kicker points. At that moment I told my cameraman to get on that deer and be ready because I was going to shoot the second he stopped. The buck ran past us and up a steep hill with deep coulees on its face. Any second he was going to dive into a coulee and disappear for good so I took aim and shot instantly as he paused to assess his escape. This whole scenario took less than 20 seconds. It was fast and furious.
I saw the buck drop through the reticle from my TC .300 Win. Magnum. Not wasting any time I rushed over to the buck and was instantly in shock. I knew the buck was going to be big, but BIG. Lifting him up I started to count points and came up with 12 points per side. He's a mainframe 5x5 with forked G2s and stickers. He should gross score around 205 with some change to spare.
I immediately called my family and shared the good news with them. I'd been on the road for nearly 40 days at that point and even though they couldn't be with me to share it in person, we shared the moment via good cell service. I thanked the good Lord for such a great day, a great experience and the opportunity.
2008 will be a year to remember for me. I hope all of you get such an opportunity in your lifetime. Good Hunting!
It can make or break a hunt and during the it can be as unsettled as your mother-in-law during the holidays. I've been running around the country nonstop and have seen it all. We had intense temperatures in New Mexico, rain in Kansas and snow in South Dakota, and Montana.
The hunt I just finished is a good example of why you shouldn't let the weather get you down. Our first day started out with intense rain despite only a 20 percent chance of moisture. Thank you weather forecaster. Even so I hunted hard and ended the day by rattling in two nice mule deer.
Unfortunately I only had a whitetail tag and the whitetails didn't answer my call.
The next day I awoke to 40 and 50 MPH gusts, icy sleet and snow. I was bummed, but went into the field anyway. By midday I passed on a nice 4x4 whitetail and late in the day, in the peak of the gusts, I rattled not one, but two nice bucks including a heavy-antlered 5x5 that I would have shot. Thick brush prevented a clean kill so I passed at 25 yards, but I definitely had found a hotspot.
The next day the sun came out and I worked the same area over. I called in three bucks before sunrise, but no shooter. Finally, at midday I took a lunch break high on a hill for spotting opportunities and spotted the big buck again rutting on a doe.
A short stalk later I ended the hunt with the same mature buck I rattled in during the hurricane winds the day before. Even though I shot the buck on a sunny day, I had equal, if not a better opportunity the day before.
Don't let the weather get you down and hunt hard all day.
It’s that time of year again where I drive from hunt to hunt and oftentimes at night. Whether you’re driving across the country like me or driving across town, you need to drive defensively. Why? It’s the rut and whitetails move nonstop day or night, but particularly at night. I already had one run-in with a pre-rut buck this year and our family subcompact didn’t take the beating with pride. That wasn’t the first deer I’ve hit. In fact, for a period of time I was averaging at least one deer a year, a rate I’ve happily slowed.
My best accident, if you can call it the best, occurred while I was working for another employer. At sunset one evening a herd of whitetails dashed out of a steep ditch and across the road in front of me. I leveled four deer in one instance. To get home I had to duct tape the only remaining headlight back into the trashed grill of the truck.
It can get “Western” at any time during a desert mule deer hunt. The rugged terrain of the desert creates obstacles that can test your endurance. Rocks, prickly pear cactus and rattlesnakes all keep you on your toes. While hunting in New Mexico last week it got even more Western than that. I was hunting with Bob King who operates the Santa Fe Guiding Company (www.santafeguidingcompany.com). We stopped to talk to a neighbor who appeared to be having trouble loading a bull. In fact, the bull had nearly injured another hired hand and his son.
With patience running thin and a bull that was clearly a danger, the owner of the bull decided it was time to make burger out of the bull. Seeing our group was toting enough firepower to repel a small contingency of invaders, he smiled and asked if we would help him with his ornery bull. Of course we obliged. Seeing the excitement in my guide’s eyes, I graciously handed him my .300 Winchester magnum to help with the deed. I watched from the sideline.
The bull saw our group advancing and advanced himself with vengeance in his eyes. He charged the fence, ramming horns into the steel pipes. His next move was his last as he charged through the gate at the group. Three shots later and the bull was ready for homestyle butchering.
You never know what you’ll see out hunting, but it never ceases to amaze me. Regardless, always lend a hand when you can.
I’m writing this blog from elk camp in eastern Montana and it’s a great reminder of why I hunt. Of course I hunt because of a deep yearning inside that so many writers try to explain, but fall way short of describing. Instinctive urges aside, I enjoy the hunt because of good friends, great experiences and breathtaking country. Doug Gardner at Powder River Outfitters (www.powder-river-outfitters.com) has it all and then some. His camp isn’t a Marriott Suites, but it’s comfortable with great food. It’s the people, the game and the country that makes Doug’s hunt unforgettable and one that client after client return just like myself.
If you live in the northern regions of the U.S. and into Canada, get ready. The whitetail rut is about to rock. If you live in South Texas, hold on. Your time will come in December. This is my favorite time of year, at least in equal to the elk rut. Whitetails begin to trip up and make mistakes they normally wouldn’t make even if drunk on fermenting wild fruit.
Some of you have undoubtedly begun field dressing chores with early-season bowhunts and gun hunts for big game. I’ve had my share of “gut experiences” already this season. If you’re a guide or an outfitter your field dressing chores may be nonstop from here on out.
Here’s one tip to live by: wear latex or vinyl gloves when field dressing big game. Why? First and foremost, gloves help you stay clean. Blood and animal materials have a tendency to get into the pores and lines of your skin, under your fingernails and create an appearance of a serial killer if you don’t wash thoroughly after the hunt. Second, latex gloves protect you and lessen the chances of infectious diseases being transmitted to you via blood and other bodily fluids. While it’s highly unlikely you’ll encounter an infectious disease while field dressing big game, why take the chance? Diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) or Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) show no evidence of possible transmission between animals or humans, but there is evidence Lyme Disease can be transmitted from deer to human via deer blood.
Regardless of the evidence, wear latex or vinyl gloves. If you want to really keep yourself clean, invest in AI gloves, or artificial insemination gloves worn by ranchers and veterinarians involved in elbow-length jobs on the business end of livestock. Hunter’s Specialties includes these long gloves in their Field Dressing Glove kit (www.hunterspec.com). I always keep several packets stowed in my TruckVault and daypack for the chore of field dressing. When I’m done I’m clean and presentable enough to stop by a convenience store or my buddy’s house to show off my trophy.
I admit, I do use trail cameras, but I’m not a camera junkie like many of my hunting pals. I know guys who can’t get a good night’s sleep if they don’t check their trail camera first. Not surprisingly, these same folks are addicted to E-mail, cell phones and text their friends like the world is coming to an end.
If you haven’t noticed, things have been going from bad to worse this year when it comes to economics. If you’re like me, you’ve been tightening your belt and finding ways to save money. For the first time in more than a decade my family purchased a car to save money on fuel. The big trucks weren’t helping our family budget.
Team calling paid off for elk and you’ll get to see the results on TruckVault’s Xtreme Hunts next season. I hooked up with Scott and Angie Denny at Table Mountain Outfitters (www.tablemountainoutfitters.com) for Wyoming elk. They outfit for elk west of Cheyenne in one of the windiest corridors in Wyoming. Besides wind, rain invaded half the hunt, but the elk density was superb and rarely were we out of sight or sound of elk. Scott and Angie have perfected a calling system that involves three people including the hunter. Scott hangs back to call and move in the background making a bull believe a cow is wandering around. Angie sticks with the hunter to call out the shot distance as a bull sneaks into range.
Early September is great for calling in satellite bulls while your chances to sucker in a mature bull tend to increase with the intensity of the rut in mid- to late September. Although it helps to hunt solo to be sneaky, I believe it’s best to hunt with a partner for elk. First, if you’re hunting wilderness areas and anything goes wrong you have a backup partner to get help. Second, if you do get an elk down, you have a partner to help you get it out. Finally, calling with a partner is a great strategy and here’s how you can win at the elk calling game.
After you locate a herd of elk with a vocal bull, try and get in front of them so they’ll want to go to you. Next, look for a likely ambush site that isn’t too open. Open terrain allows an elk to look for what they believe is another elk. If they can see through the timber to where the call is emanating without seeing a bull it may put them on alert. Next, move your non-calling partner at least 50 yards in front of you. Why? You want the incoming bull to walk past him or her as they seek out your calls. Finally, try not to sound too tough. It’s best to begin with cow calls and then work up to a squealing bull. If you sound too tough it may also scare a bull away. They’ve worked hard to get the cows they’ve gathered and competition could mean the loss of their herd and chances at love.
If you have any other great tips, please share them in the comment section, but for now, I’m going elk hunting!
I have to admit, the skies were friendlier than I thought they would be, but the lines were unreal. To get into Quebec, Canadian Customs had set up 13 aisles winding through an auditorium-sized room. It took me nearly an hour to pass through customs and since I had time to kill, I counted the crowd. How many were in the room at one time: approximately 1,000. Immigration was another 1 ½ hours and if you add the half hour of time to clear my firearm, I spent more than three hours to pass into the country. Mind you I was working so the immigration line to obtain a work permit was something most of you could skip.
I know everyone is doing their job, but with everyone doing their job it weighs down on
With all the hassles, and mind you I’m not blaming the industry or govern
It’s time to begin planning for bow season. If you want to increase your success, study these tips and avoid whitetail bowhunting’s top 10 mistakes.
1. FORGET ABOUT SPEED
Don’t get hung up on the speed of your bow when hunting whitetails. Fast-shooting bows are generally noisier and more difficult to tune. Instead, make sure your bow shoots accurately and quietly.
2. TUNE YOUR BROADHEADS
Shoot your hunting broadheads before you go afield. Fixed-blade broadheads fly differently than your field tips. You may even need to re-sight your bow to match the flight characteristics of your broadhead.
3. PRACTCIE LIKE YOU HUNT
Practicing at an indoor shooting range is great when the mercury dips, but when you are preparing for the fall season, shoot outside and mimic your hunting style. If you hunt from a tree stand, practice from one. If you stalk, practice shooting in crouched positions. Clothing, temperature, moisture and body exhaustion all play a pivotal role in how your bow and arrows will perform under your guidance.
4. CLEAR AMPLE SHOOTING LANES
Be sure to leave enough cover to camouflage your tree stand, but make sure your arrow has plenty of clearance to reach the deer. After trimming your lanes, look at the possible shots from both ground level and from your tree stand. Also pay special attention to backdoor entrances a buck may use unsuspectingly.
5. PAY ATTENTION TO SCENT
Whitetails rely on their noses first and use their eyes, and ears for backup. Scent-free technology is incorporated into clothing, clothes detergents, body soaps, ground blinds and dozens of other products.
6. PLACE YOUR TREE STAND HIGH
Bowhunters who place their stands at only 10 to 15 feet up are wasting their time. Deer can easily see movement at this height in their peripheral vision. If branches don’t block your shooting lanes, try to be at least 18 feet up in the tree or more.
7. ROUTE BUCKS YOUR WAY
Don’t be afraid to blaze a trail to your treestand. Trail manipulation several weeks prior to the season will not spook your buck, but it may route them past your stand site during the season.
8. KEEP A FULL GAME BAG OF TRICKS
Rattling, grunts, mock scrapes, scents and decoys work. Use them to lure bucks into an area, but specifically, use them for distractions to get a clear shot at an unsuspecting buck.
9. MOVE WHEN A BUCK’S VISION IS BLOCKED
Even if a buck is distracted, you need to draw your bow when the buck’s vision is blocked by either a tree trunk, a limb or by the buck itself as it looks straight away. It’s too risky to draw when the buck is stationary with its senses on full alert.
10. SHOOT AT THE FIRST OPPORTUNITY
When opportunity knocks, shoot. Too many beginning bowhunters wait for the perfect shooting opportunity. If a good shot presents itself, don’t wait for a better one. It rarely happens.
Remember my last blog? Hunting seasons are starting and if they haven’t for you, they are just around the corner. Are you ready? I mean, are you physically ready? If there were a physical fitness test given to hunters, I’m betting the majority of you would fail. Why am I so sure? According to the Obesity Society (yes, it does really exist) more than 64 percent of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese. In fact, five percent are considered morbidly obese. If you’re one of the 64 percent consider whipping yourself into shape for your own health and increased success in the field.
It’s almost time. What time you ask? Hunting time! The first seasons are about to kick off and for big game that means pronghorn antelope. In fact, when I think of August pronghorns immediately come to mind. In Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota, the states with the three large concentrations of pronghorn, archery seasons kick off next week.
Now is the time to get your trail cameras out and they’re not just for whitetails any longer. Trail cameras work equally well for whitetail, mule deer, pronghorn and elk. Why now? Summer animals are less apprehensive about moving openly during daylight. In fact, most species are busy bulking up for the upcoming rigors of the rut and winter.
Here we go again. Earlier this year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially removed wolves from the Endangered Species List in the northern Rockies. This includes the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, as well as portions of Oregon, Utah and Washington. States were granted the final word in management and according to both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the states; wolf reintroduction has been a resounding success. Of course that wasn’t good enough for animal activists.
Ask my wife. I'm a very organized person, maybe too organized if there's such a state of organization. Right now I'm less than a month away from my fall tour of North America that includes filming for TruckVault Xtreme Hunts, gathering material for magazine articles and filling my freezer, and the freezers of friends. My hunting schedule extends into 2009 with very little time in between to look for lost gear and ready a new lineup of accessories for the next hunt.
It's no secret I rely on my TruckVault to keep me organized on the road and at home. It's hard to be successful on a hunt when you can't find your gear because it's jumbled in a pile behind the seat of your truck. TruckVault's secure storage units allow me to customize the interior with movable dividers to hold any gear. The best part of a TruckVault unit is that my gear is secure from the elements and from intruders with lockable vaults. You can get a TruckVault to fit any truck, SUV and even cars. Most of the three-letter agencies use TruckVaults in their vehicle fleets and that's good enough for me.
My organization doesn't stop there and neither should yours. Summer is the best time to get your gear organized, inventoried and prepped for the upcoming hunting seasons. I'm fortunate. I was able to take an old coal storage area and transform it into my hunting room complete with shelves for ammunition, game calls, optics, camping gear, backpacks and boots. I can breeze into the room and immediately grab what I need from the shelves without hunting for it in a jumbled mess. I have another room set up for clothing and I keep it scent free.
For me, keeping organized has led to success. Last season is a good example. I finished one whitetail hunt, but a friend of mine had some other obligations so we couldn't start the next hunt as planned. By having my TruckVault stocked and organized, I was able to move on to an impromptu hunt undertaken in a day and half. The result of this spur-of-the-moment hunt is the first show of the season and a great trophy.
It's this type of organization that's helped my success...at least that's what I tell my wife to wrangle the extra rooms in our home.
Despite the heat and the occasional bug bite, summer is a great time to be out scouting. I just returned from a trip to the mountains and although my family and I barbecued, watched fireworks and rode the horses, we also managed to get in some scouting time. Since we were in the mountains we focused on elk.
Rubs, old wallows and watering holes were still evident from the previous rutting season indicating past elk activity. We also spotted several groups of bulls with antlers large enough to indicate whether they would be shooters or not. Of course the cows and calves were in large herds and put on a show as good as any fireworks display.
We even found a few shed elk antlers to give us an idea of the quality of bulls in the area for the upcoming season. The bulls in this particular area rarely migrate because snow melts throughout the winter and a recent burn provides ample forage year-round.
It doesn't matter if you're scouting for elk, mule deer, pronghorn or the popular whitetail, summer is a great time to get your eyes on a buck and track it until fall. Dust off your binocular and your trail camera, and break a sweat now for success this fall.
We just finished our last hunt for the 2008 show season. It turned out to be quite a surprise. Our destination was southwest Montana and our goal was to call in and harvest a black bear with a pistol. I was carrying my trusty TC .300 Win. Mag as well for a long-shot backup. I had been corresponding with outfitter Mark Shutey at Stockton Outfitters (www.stocktonoutfitters.com) for several years and we finally set dates to get together.
Shutey runs a great camp with comfortable cabins, great food and lots of good-hearted joking ... my kind of place. So what was the surprise? I can't give everything away ... you'll have to watch TruckVault Xtreme Hunts to find out the ending, but the hunt was scheduled for June 8-13. Here is the big surprise.
It snowed and snowed and then snowed some more. It snowed steadily for nearly 40 hours and turned southwest Montana into a winter wonderland. All that was missing was were Christmas lights. Of course bears went into low gear or no gear making our hunt even more difficult. Who would have guessed I'd be hunting in blizzard conditions in the middle of June? Not me!
Anyway, now that the filming season is in planning mode for this coming fall I'm busy getting bows and guns ready ... you should be too!
I want to welcome you to TruckVault's Xtreme Hunts web site and invite you to watch TruckVault's new series, TruckVault Xtreme Hunts, appearing on Versus this coming August. Get the details from this site, grab some popcorn and sit back for a real adventure.
Many of you might know me from North American Hunter or Whitetail Revolution, both on Versus, but if you don't know me, I'm sure you'll get a better understanding of my ways after watching the first episode of the series. In short, I love to hunt. Whether it's birds or bears, ducks or deer, I enjoy time in the field and I don't let a little weather, mud or extreme terrain deter me.
Like you, I still have to work and although TV provides me some of my income, I'm strapped to a desk part of the year and traveling throughout the winter to round out my IRS donation. It's a great way to make a living, but in all honesty it's demanding on my family. Making time for family throughout the nuttiness of the fall is a must, but often impossible task when you're traveling from border to border for hunts. Would I change careers if I could? Not on your life! I'm just always trying to manage my time as best as possible.
Unless you live in a hotspot overloaded with coyotes, taking one of these Wile E. critters is one of hunting’s greatest accomplishments. I truly believe that any hunter who consistently calls in and shoots coyotes is a good hunter. Why? Coyotes are like you and I; they’re hunters. There’s one exception though. They hunt full-time and most of us don’t have that luxury. By being on the job 24/7 they learn their environment, they learn the best places to look for prey and they learn to stay away from danger. If a coyote lives past 1 ½ years of age, it transforms into an Einstein. If you want to be one up on a coyote, try a few of these tricks that have helped me over the years.