Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bagging that monster buck

Looking to harvest that elusive big buck? Are you sold out to getting one or do you just dream about it? There is no education better than being out in the wilds seeing, experiencing, reading signs, adjusting to seasons, weather and other factors. You must understand that your ability to harvest a big buck will completely rely on your willingness to adjust your thinking, your tactics and your determination to find and ultimately harvest that animal you have your mind set on. Let start:
1. Taking Big Bucks Requires Exceptional Tactics. You will not bag a trophy buck by using standard techniques like everyone else. In fact, it probably does not matter if there are big bucks in the area you hunt. The truth is that if you're using all the normal tactics you will not get the monster. The really BIG bucks are old bucks. They do not grow old by falling prey to the normal tactics the majority of hunters use. Make sense?
2. You must hunt where big bucks live! It is so obvious, yet how many days or seasons have you spent hunting in areas where you never saw a really big buck? You must realize that not all areas hold even one really big buck, let alone a few. But it is a fact that some parts of different counties in the country hold many large bucks within a given area due to quite a few factors. Things like cover, food sources and other nutrition, hunting pressure, and genetics play a huge role in finding areas that hold big bucks. We sometimes deceive ourselves. We HOPE they are there. If your overriding goal is to find that monster - you need to find out where they are and hunt there. You cannot shoot what does not exist.
3. Be selective in what you shoot - do not shoot small bucks. Think about this - in most cases after you harvest your buck you are done for the season - so if your goal is to shoot a monster why do you harvest a smaller one? Let the smaller ones go, let them mature into bigger bucks, and wait for your monster to appear. Most veteran hunters that shoot big bucks will tell you that the larger bucks follow the smaller ones out - the big ones are much more weary. That is how they get to be monsters. If you are satisfied with shooting a smaller buck than you set your goal to shoot, then you are compromising and your interest and desire are lacking. If you are committed to taking the big one, do not take the first buck you see unless it meets your goal!
4. You will find that big bucks will frequently have wet feet. Huh? Yep - find areas where there is a creek bottom or lowland wet areas such as a swamp and other wetlands. Talk to the experienced hunters who have shot big bucks.... most of them will tell you that big bucks like to frequent the heavy cover and are loners in these areas. They like the thick cover the wetlands produce because it gives them security. Also, deer are excellent swimmers. It is nothing for them to swim major rivers, let alone creeks and lakes. When pressure increases the big bucks head for cover.
5. Let the experienced and successful hunters be your role models. It is no different than any sport or avocation. If you want to be great, if you want the big prize, if you really want that big buck you need to learn and do what other successful whitetail hunters have done to harvest their big bucks. While no situation is identical, remember that the 1% or 2% of the top deer hunters are very disciplined and have developed methods and skills that work consistently. They know and talk to others about deer locations, sightings, behavior, etc. Luck has helped some over time but by and large the hunters who take the big ones year after year know things you do not. Or perhaps they are more persistent.
6. Big, Old Bucks are unique and you must adjust your hunting accordingly. Some say you have to treat them like a different animal or a different species if you're going to take one. Besides being older, they are wiser, heavier, more mellow, slower, and much more deliberate in their actions. The fact that they got to 4, 5, or 6 years old is an indication that they found a safe way to exist and avoid the hunters. These big boys will not typically run at the slightest pressure - they may hold tight. I have heard story after story about how smart the old bucks can be - they will swim, crawl, hold tight in cover, and use their natural color and stealth methods to avoid even the most experienced hunters. You must use different tactics for these big boys.
7. Hunt long and often. There is no exception to this rule. Big bucks are seldom taken by hunters who don't spend lots of time in the field. If you only hunt a couple hours in the morning and a couple more in the evening you're missing some of the best hours to bag a big buck! Lots of B+C bucks are taken in the late morning and noon hours. Surprised? Also, during the rut lots of big bucks have been seen checking their scrapes during the noon hour.
Get out in the field, scout those areas, then plan your approach and tactics. There's so much more to deer hunting tactics and methods but these 7 Hot tips are a start.

Top 10 tree stand locations

Let's say that on opening morning of deer season, you were magically picked up and were told you were going to be deer hunting in a place you'd never been to before and it wasn't in your home State. And what's more, you could only pick one place to hunt deer. Oh yeah, and if you didn't kill a deer that day, you had to walk back home! How's that for pressure from a theoretical situation! Where would you start? Here's my favorite 1o best treestand locations and I'd pick one of them if this happened to me.
By the way, my picks for the best treestand locations are in order of my favorite places to hunt because my chance for success will go up greatly if I find them. Sadly, these don't occur in every place that I hunt, but I will go out of my way to find them if they do!
Treestand Location #1. Beaver Dams. Yeah, you read right! Beaver Dams are some of the best deer funnelsyou can find. But not any old Beaver Dams will work. The ones I have the best bet with are the ones that are on deep creeks with few places for Deer to cross. It also helps if there is a reason Deer want to cross the creek, like going from a bedding area to a feeding area.
I truly believe Deer hate crossing Beaver Dams, but it's either that or get wet. While Deer are excellent swimmers and their hollow hair will keep them warm even when wet, they still will avoid swimming if given the chance. So if you know of a creek with Beaver Dams spaced a ways apart, scout them good and look for Deer crossing!
Treestand Location #2. Saddles in long ridges. When I'm hunting in Mountainous areas like the Ozarks or Quachita's, I look for long ridge lines with a saddle in them. Unfortunately in these two mountain ranges, when you find a saddle, it generally has a freakin' road in it! But there are a few...if you look hard enough.
The saddle doesn't have to be very deep either. There's one place in Northern Arkansas that the elevation change in the ridge is only about 10 feet. But that slight saddle is enough to funnel those Rock Pile deer through it year after year!(at least every year I've hunted there, I can't speak for the years I'm not there...:D)
The best way to find them is by using a topo map and following the ridge lines and taking note of elevation changes. You can also use Google and use the Satellite photo's to find saddles, but the smaller ones are harder to see if the photo's were taking in Spring and Summer.
Treestand location #3. Fence crossings. If you hunt in an area with a lot of fences, then you should be looking for places where Deer cross them. One of my best stand locations is a fence crossing where an old tree fell across the fence and broke it. The landowners on either side have no cows in these pastures so neither are worried about getting the fence fixed. If you want to know the truth, I think both are waiting on the other to fix it. That's okay by me, as my Titan Ladder Stand is 30 yards away and this crossing has supplied me with Deer sightings every year!
If you're not lucky enough to have a tree fall where you want it, there are ways of making a better fence crossing. What I've done in the past is cut brush and put at every crossing where I didn't want the deer to cross. I then found a place for a stand and took some para cord and tied it to the top strand of wire and then to the bottom strand. I then pull the two as tight as I can forming a v at the top wire and an inverted 'V' at the bottom, giving the Deer more than enough room to jump over or crawl under the fence. Obviously this works with a barbed wire fence, a web wire fence is totally different, you may only be able to pull the top down.
Whatever you do, make sure you ask the landowner before doing any of these modifications!
Treestand location #4. Finger ridges. Take your hand and lay it flat on a table or other flat surface in front of you. Now spread your fingers wide and pretend these are finger ridges coming off of a main ridge. The hub, the center of the back of your hand, is where you'll want to scout for a treestand location. This is where most of the Deer will pass through in mountainous areas. Sometimes it may only be 2 or 3 fingers coming together at the Hub, sometimes it's more. If the "Hub" is also a nice Oak flat full of acorns, then you might just be sitting on a honey hole! These are definitely places you want to check out and put a treestand if the sign indicates Deer activity!
Treestand location #5. Strips of brush or trees extending out into fields. These can be Golden! Normally, if you have trees or a line of brush extending out into a farm field, it's because there is a draw there. It could also be because the ground there always stays wet. Whatever the reason, if you can find a place like this, look it over real well! Chances are Deer are using it to enter and exit the field. Bucks will especially like these areas during the Rut.
My favorite place to put a treestand in a situation like this is normally right at the 'base' of the draw or brush where it begins at the field edge. If the wind allows me, this setup will catch any Buck that is scent checking the field or waiting for Does returning from the field and using this strip as a travel path.
Treestand location #6. Treelines. Speaking of treelines, if you can find one connecting two sections of woods or other Deer habitat, you've probably found you a Deer super highway! My buddy lives in the same house he grew up in. About 200 yards across the pasture behind his house is a treeline about 75 yards wide that runs for about 1/4 mile. It connects a huge area of woods on the South side with broken woods and grown up fields on the North side. There are cow pastures on either side of this treeline and the cows do a good job of keeping the grass down.
Where do you think a Deer that wants to go from the South woods to the North section will travel? That's right, the treeline! It's also a good place to intercept a Buck that is traveling through the Countryside looking for a hot Doe. It's not unusual to look out his back window in the early mornings or late afternoons and see Deer walking along the treeline.
Treestand location #7. Edges of grown over clear cuts where they meet hardwoods. Another of my favorite spots to intercept Bucks are at the edges of a clear cut that has been cut over several years back and allowed to grow up. Usually years 2 through 5 after a place has been cut, there will be some nasty briars, bushes and crap a sane Man would never want to go into. I usually don't either! Most times I can find a spot along the edge and set up a treestand there. I particularly like to find trails leading in and out of these clear cuts. When the pressure gets hot and heavy, the Bucks know that these are safe places.
If you have permission and you're willing to do some work, then you can make you a Deer magnet anytime you find a grown up clear cut. What I've done in the past is crawl, yes I mean CRAWL into these jungles for about 50 yards and then started cutting a straight path through this mess. The path is about as wide as I can extend both arms. Why do I crawl into these areas? Because if you start at the edge, someone may find it and you're secret hunting spot will be done for!
I make these paths about 100 yards long if I can. Once I've got one straight, I go back to the halfway point and start cutting another bisecting the first. So when I'm done, I have what would look like a "Plus Sign" if viewed from the air. At each end of the 'plus sign' I look for trees to put up a stand. I also try to have a tree near the intersection of each lane of the 'plus sign'. Deer will use these lanes you cut like you wouldn't believe!
The downside is that it can be hard to get into these place undetected, so you'll have to leave early and take it slow.
Another feature that I added to several was to rake away the leaves and crap once I had the lanes cut and then threw down some quick growing Winter seed like wheat and rye. Imagine having such a secret spot that no one else knew about in a heavily hunted area.
Treestand location #8. Habitat changes. Technically, Location #7 above could be considered a habitat change. As could places where the Woods meet Fields. These are generally all good areas to look for Deer sign. Deer are edge lovers! A few places of habitat change that I've successfully hunted over the years include places where wetlands met hardwood forest, Pine plantings met hardwoods and obviously where crop fields met any kind of brush, whether it was a swamp or forest. The nastier the better!
There's a WMA about 2 hours away from me where I hunt a few times each year. It's hilly, some would say slightly mountainous. But there are several places where the ridges come down and meet bottom land. The White Oak and Black Jacks of the hillside meet the Red Oaks and Ash trees of the bottom. Along this edge I've had numerous treestands over the years and nearly always see Deer there. If used this pattern at other places I hunt and can nearly always find deer. Keep this in mind when you're out there scouting this year!
Treestand location #9. Remote fruit trees. I'll have to admit that I'm not real big on seeking out the best Persimmon trees or hoping to find an old homestead with an ancient Apple tree that draw deer from miles around. When I was younger, I did take some Apple trees that I grew from seeds and plant them on our property. I think they lasted maybe a week before something ate them! That was pretty much my attempt at trying to make my own Deer attracting Apple orchard!
But I know others who routinely kill nice Deer at these locations. If you know of some type of fruit tree such as Apple or Pear, it may pay off for you to check them each year for fruit. Persimmons are popular in our hunting area, but I can't say I've ever killed a Buck from one. I've taken a few Does over the years because they'll visit them during the daylight. In normal years, the Persimmons are gone by Gun season so they only provide fruit for a few weeks. They start ripening and falling shortly after the first good frost.
Treestand location #10. Standing corn. This is my last pick simply because Corn is not a crop that is grown that much in our area. The few chances that I have had to hunt it, I found it very exciting. Standing corn is Deer cover and food all wrapped up in one. There's no need for Deer to ever leave the cover of a standing Corn field, but obvioiusly some do just for the heck of it.
I like to bowhunt standing Corn fields by still hunting across the rows. I generally do this on Windy days so that the noise of the Corn stalks cover any noise I make. It's not uncommon to catch the Deer beded down between the rows. Just remember to start downwind.
I've also put up a ground blind about 30 yards inside the standing Corn and watched the edge. This is especially good if the edge of the Corn is a long ways away from Woods. Deer expect trouble from the woods, but for some reason the don't expect it from inside the Corn itself. I will usually cut the stalks in one row so I have a clean shot from my blind out to the edge. Use the cut stalks to brush in your blind and have fun!
So there you have it, my 10 best treestand locations. Hopefully you'll keep these in mind as you're out and about scouting this year. If you find one of these locations, look it over real good for Deer sign. You might just have stumbled upon a honey hole that produces year after year!

How to cover your scent in the woods

Although I know hunters who smoke and don’t pay any attention to the wind or scent control and they have taken several nice big deer. But you know how the saying goes, a blind squirrel gets a nut every once and a while or something of that nature. I just believe if you are serious about deer hunting and harvesting mature trophy bucks on a consistent basis you must pay attention to wind direction and scent control.
There are many good products on the market to help you with scent control.
There are many good products on the market to help you with scent control.
There is one noise that makes a hunter cringe when in the woods (other than a nearby gun shot) a deer blowing at you is a bad feeling. Although no matter how hard you try to control your scentsometimes it is damn near impossible to keep deer from smelling you whendeer hunting. Especially if the wind direction is shifting. Even if it is shifting I feel much more confident if I take a few steps to control my scent. I wanted to list a few things that I do to keep my scent at a minimum.
  1. The first thing I do is wash my hunting clothes in some type of liquid clothing wash for hunters. I like the way the  autumn blend smells.
  2. Store your clothes and boots in scent proof bags and maybe throw in a few pine needles or scent wafers or some plain old baking soda.
  3. Take a shower before going hunting using a scent eliminator soap
  4. Use a scent away anti-perspirant deodorant. I like the Hunters Specialties brand.
  5. Keep your boots in a scent bag until you arrive at your hunting property and are fixing to go hunting. Don’t ever pump gas in your hunting boots.
  6. Use scent eliminator spray and cover scents
  7. Pay attention to wind direction and use it to your advantage
  8. Don’t smoke or dip while hunting. This one is a hard one for me, I do dip in the woods even though I know I should not.
  9. Wear light clothing when walking to your stand to avoid sweating and put on more layers once you are at your stand or in your stand.
  10. If the wind shifts and is not to your advantage you will be better off to change stand locations. This is a tough one it can be a tough call to get up and leave a location once you are in the stand but if you are serious about harvesting mature trophy bucks you must pay attention to wind direction.
By paying attention to wind direction and doing your best to control your scent you can put the odds in your favor for a mature trophy buck.

Tree stands VS Ground blinds

Ground blind or tree stand? It’s a debate that every hunter has an opinion about. Some hunt what they’ve always hunted and what they’re used to. Others like to experiment with new stands or blinds to find what works best for them. We can’t tell you which is better—ground blind or tree stand—but we can give you a few advantages that both have to offer. Then it’s up to you to decide which type of equipment to use.
Hunting from a ground blind is safer, warmer, and easier to stay in for long periods.
Hunting from a ground blind is safer, warmer,
and easier to stay in for long periods.

Pros for a Ground Blind

One of the biggest advantages of a ground blind is that it gets you out of the elements. Cold, rainy days can make for miserable hunting, but a ground blind shelters you from wind, rain, and snow and takes the bite out of cold weather. With a roof over your head and walls to keep you warmer, you’ll be able to stay out for longer, even when the weather chases other hunters out of the woods.
As an added bonus, you can use a heater inside the blind, although the exhaust and/or noise can be a dead giveaway for game animals. Not all blinds are designed to be used with heaters, so check with the manufacturer before doing so.
Another big advantage for ground blinds is that you can pack them just about anywhere. No good climbing trees in the area? No problem. Just pop a blind up and you’re ready to hunt deer grazing in an open field or near a waterhole surrounded by low brush. Ground blinds are quick and easy to relocate if the first spot turns out to be a dud.
Finally, ground blinds have an advantage over tree stands when it comes to safety. Since you’re already on the ground, there’s no risk of falling or of a tree stand failing. Being able to hunt from the ground is a deciding factor for hunters who have a fear of heights. Plus, when game animals walk by close enough to touch, you get a bigger adrenaline rush.
Hunting from a tree stand gives you better visibility and scent protection.
Hunting from a tree stand gives you better visibility and scent protection.

Pros for a Tree Stand

Just as ground blinds have their distinct advantages, so do tree stands. Sitting up high means that you can see for longer distances and from a better vantage point than in a ground blind. The increased viewing range gives you more time to anticipate and set up for the kill.
Another advantage of tree stand hunting is the scent factor. On the ground, you are nose level with the animal. Up in the trees, the animal is less likely to catch wind of your scent. In either situation, you should take precautions and set up with the wind in your favor, but hunting from the ground requires greater precautions than hunting from up high.

Which Is Better?

Which type of stand or blind equipment is better depends on where, what, and when you are hunting. The weather, the tree and leaf cover, the time of the season, and the terrain, among other factors, all play a part in determining which type of stand will work better for you. You can get busted in a ground blind just like you can get busted in a tree stand. What matters most is not the type of stand or blind but your knowledge of the animal, your timing, and how you play the conditions of the hunt (wind direction, stand placement, cover, etc.).
Choose what feels most comfortable to you. You might end up using a tree stand for bowhunting and a ground blind for rifle hunting, or vice versa. What matters most is that you are comfortable with your choice and able to enjoy the hunt.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hunting: Mechanical Broadheads VS Fixed

Historically broadheads have always been of the fixed blade variety, until a few years ago. Now the bow hunter has a large selection of mechanical broadheads to choose from. What type of broadhead you choose to hunt with has more to do with your bow and skill level than you may think. 

Fixed Blade Broadheads

Fixed blade broadheads are traditionally the broadhead of choice. A fixed blade broadhead is defined as a broadhead whose blades are permanently fixed in the open position. They generally cut on impact which is a much more efficient way of starting the wound channel, the blades cut into the hide and prevent the wound from closing fully, leading to an improved blood trail. Fixed blade broadheads also tend to be stronger than comparable mechanical broadheads. Because the blades are fixed within the head itself and do not move they are very rugged and reliable. 

Fixed blade broadheads also offer higher penetration than mechanical broadheads, due in a large part to the fact that they cut on impact and do not loose energy to the process of opening. The only negatives with fixed blade broadheads is the fact that they tend to plane when shot out of high speed bows and can be knocked about by the wind. They also can be difficult to tune and tend to shoot to different points than field points. These negatives can be minimized by aligning the blades with the fletching.

Mechanical Broadheads

Mechanical broadheads are relative new, and are making great inroads into the traditional fixed blades popularity. Mechanical broadheads tend to fly straight and shoot close to field points, this is due to the fact that the blades of a mechanical broadhead are hidden in flight and therefore are not affected by wind resistance to the same degree as fixed blades. Mechanical broadheads also offer larger cutting diameters which aid in faster more humane kills and easier tracking through better blood trails. 

Mechanical broadheads do have some negatives, they tend to require a faster arrow speed to ensure penetration, this is due to the fact that they loose energy when they open. They can also malfunction and are more prone to deflection off bone, especially when they are opening. I have had many shots on deer with the rage 2" that hit ribs or shoulderblade and do not get a passthrough because of how wide the blades are. With a fixed tip the broadheads will punch through the shoulderblade. 

Your Choice

As you can see the decision as to which broadhead to shoot is not as simple as picking whatever head looks cool or has the more attractive packaging. If you shoot a slower bow, under 250 fps or take longer shots, stick to fixed blade. If you have a very fast bow and limit your range, mechanicals offer many advantages. 

No matter what head style you choose, nothing makes up for a poor shot, practice and hunt within your limitations.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Big Georgia Buck

During my twenty seven years of Deer Hunting Big Bucks I had the opportunity to hunt all over the great state of Georgia. I thought it would be fun to make a top ten list of the counties I have hunted in and tell you a little about what made each one special to me. So here goes-
10. Taylor-I have a friend who owns 1700 acres in Taylor County. He has it completely fenced in. He invited me to go with him and I took him up on the offer right quick. The place was very nice with a lot of food plots and stand locations. Oh, and not t mention, the big bucks I saw the first day I ever hunted on his property. And that evening I rattled in a nice eight pointer. It was a beautiful place.
9. Pulaski- A friend of mine took me hunting in Pulaski County. His Uncle farmed cotton and peanuts there. It was awesome! There were big rubs everywhere, and plenty of food for the big bucks.
8. Marion-I was in a deer hunting club near Ft. Benning in Columbus. We hunted 5,000 acres. There were some beautiful spots on that property. A lot of the guys were from that area and I really enjoyed hunting with them. There were some trophybucks taken on that property.
7. Putnam-My Grandmother was raised on a dairy farm in Putnam County so it has a special place in my heart. I was deer hunting in a Club there. It is beautiful. I got drawn for a hunt at B.F. Grant. The first morning I ever hunted there, I saw a real trophy buck, but unfortunately he saw me first.
6. Dooly-I was in a club in Dooly County. Whenever you hunt there you feel like you could see a really big monster buck. I harvested my biggest buck to date on the Flint River WMA.
5. Madison-My uncle lived in Madison County. It’s the first place I ever went hunting. It is a beautiful! I loved hunting the power lines there.
4. Morgan-I was in a club in Morgan County. There were a lot of deer and some super nice bucks. I have relatives that own a restaurant in Buckhead. (If you’re ever in the area you should check it out-it’s called “Bonners.” It has great catfish and the best Brunswick stew you’ve ever put in your mouth). I would love to live in Morgan County one day. It’s a great hunting county.
3. Gwinnett-My dad had 14 acres near Chateau Elan Winery. I harvested one of my biggest bucks there. They have the most beautiful hardwood ridges.
2. Walton- My Aunt and Uncle had a place there. We hunted the swamp behind their house. It was awesome. I was also in a club in Walton County-very nice hunting land there also. Beautiful hardwood ridges.
1. Jasper-I’ve been in two clubs in Jasper. One of which I am currently in now. It’s prime hunting territory. I loved hunting the soybeans fields and cornfields-Absolutely beautiful!