Posts Tagged ‘hunting’

By Will Brantley

Is your deer meat tough, dry and gamey-tasting? It shouldn’t be. Check out this list of 12 deer-butchering sins to find out why your venison tastes bad — and how to make it better

 By Will Brantley

Is your deer meat tough, dry and gamey-tasting? It shouldn’t be. Check out this list of 12 deer-butchering sins to find out why your venison tastes bad — and how to make it better
I’m often amazed at the people, deer hunters included, who tell me they just don’t like venison. That statement is usually followed by a qualifier: it’s tough; it’s gamey; it’s dry. And so on.

In warm weather, deer should be skinned and quartered ASAP. I’ve eaten a lot of good deer meat. But I’ve eaten some really bad deer meat, too. I’m only a self-trained butcher, but I process five or six animals each fall, and have been doing so for a decade or more. I’m no Scott Leysath, either, but my wife and I do eat venison in some form two or three meals per week, year-round. I think we eat pretty good.
Some things consistently make venison really tasty. And some things will ruin the flavor, too. Here are a dozen of the worst offenders.
1. Poor Field Care
In the real world of hunting, things happen. We all make bad shots on occasion. And while we know not to “push” a deer that’s been hit marginally, realize that the longer it takes for the animal to die and the farther it runs, the more adrenaline and lactic acid builds up in the animal’s system and muscles. Ever had a glass of good-tasting acid? I didn’t think so.
The faster a deer hits the ground and can be field-dressed, the better the meat will be. Some of the best-tasting deer I’ve ever had have been shot in the head with a gun. The animal is killed instantly, and the meat is uncontaminated by blood and entrails from the chest cavity. That said, head shots are risky. The lungs remain the best place to aim.
2. Failure to Cool Quickly
Internal bacteria rapidly takes over after death, expelling gases and causing the animal to bloat. That’s the first step in decomposition. This process is accelerated in warm weather. Learn how to field dress a deer, and get to it ASAP. Removing those organs is the first step in cooling the animal down.
On a cold night—in the mid-30s or lower—a deer can be left hanging skin-on overnight. In especially cold weather, some hunters like to age a deer in such a manner for several days (more on aging in a bit). I live in a warm climate, and most of the deer I shoot in a season’s time are during early bow season, so I don’t have that luxury. When I find my deer and get it field-dressed, I plan on having it skinned, quartered and on ice within the hour.
3. Shot the Wrong Deer
Modern deer hunters are in tune with deer herd management. We’ve learned of practices that contribute to the health of a herd, including which deer to shoot. Given the chance, most of us want to shoot a mature buck with big antlers. Me included.
Old bucks are perfectly edible, but rarely the best. Muscles get tougher with use and stringy with age. An old buck that’s spent a full autumn fighting, rubbing, scraping and chasing does will be lean. Expect chewy steaks. Same thing goes for an old doe that’s burned all her summertime calories producing milk to nurse fawns. I usually make hamburger, sausage and jerky out of such animals.
For steaks, you can’t beat a young, crop-fed deer. Deer that spend a summer munching on corn and soybeans have an easier life—and more fattening food sources—than those that spend a lifetime wandering the big timber in search of scattered mast and browse.

The tastiest venison I’ve ever eaten came from a 1 ½-year-old fork horn shot through the neck near a picked corn field during early bow season.

That young deer had nothing to do all summer except get fat. Am I saying to forgo everything the QDMA is teaching and whack every young buck that walks by? No. But I am saying if a deer for the freezer is your goal, young bucks from the early season are usually good eating, and have more meat than does to boot. If you want to shoot one and it’s legal, go for it. You don’t owe anyone an apology.

Field dressing is the first step in cooling a deer down. Get to it fast, especially if the weather is warm.
4. Failure to Age / Purge I’ve been told that aging venison on ice is a mistake, but I don’t buy it. The mercury rises above 50 degrees on most days of deer season in my area. That’s too warm to let a deer hang, so icing them down is my only option. I line the bottom of a cooler with a layer of ice, add my deer quarters on top of that, and then cover them with more ice.
I keep the cooler in the shade with the drain plug open and on a downhill incline. That’s very important. The idea is to let the ice slowly melt and drain from the cooler. This not only keeps the meat cold, but purges an amazing amount of blood from it. Do this for at least two days, checking the ice a couple times per day in especially warm weather. (Note: if you do this without a drain plug, you’ll get the opposite effect; deer quarters that are essentially marinated in bloody, dirty water. Does that sound tasty? Didn’t think so.)
5. Dirty Knives and Power Saws
A deer’s legs are held together just like yours: with ball-and-socket joints and connective tissue. Learn where these are, and you can cut an entire skinned deer apart within minutes with a good pocket knife. Laying into a deer’s legs and spine with a power saw puts bone marrow, bone fragments and whatever mess was on the saw blade into your venison. Would you season your steak with bone fragments and wood shavings? Didn’t think so.
I keep three sharp knives handy when I’m cleaning a deer. One is for field-dressing. This one will be a stout knife with a drop point for prying through bone. Another is for skinning. Though a skinning blade with a gut hook is nice to have, I’ve been using a long-bladed fillet knife the last couple seasons, and it works beautifully. These knives can be honed to a razor’s edge and quickly re-sharpened. Other than quickly dulling a knife’s edge by slicing through hair, skinning is not taxing on a knife’s blade, so a flexible fillet knife works fine. Finally, I swap over to another knife—again, with a heavier blade—for my quartering. The point to take from all this is to keep your knives separate so you reduce contamination of the meat with blood and hair.
6. Poor Trimming
Unlike beef fat, deer fat does not taste good. Neither does the sinew, membranes and other connective tissues holding the various muscle groups together. Venison, whether destined for steaks or hamburger, should be trimmed free of anything that’s not rich, red meat.

For great deer burger, try blending the ground venison with a little cheap bacon.
7. Burger is Too Lean Ironically, because fat needs to be trimmed away for the best flavor, venison often becomes too lean for hamburger purposes. Patties made for grilled double cheeseburgers often fall apart soon after hitting the hot grate. The solution is to add some fat, either beef or pork, when you’re grinding venison. We use cheap bacon, mixed at a rate of 5:1 (5 pounds of venison per pound of bacon). It makes our patties stick together, and the bacon adds a great flavor.
8. Used a Cut-Rate Processor
Some commercial deer processors do a great job. But some do not. I once took a deer to a processor, filled out my paperwork and watched him disappear to the freezer room. He weighed my animal and returned with a corresponding amount of packaged, frozen venison. “We mix all our meat together and package a lot of burger at once,” he said.
For all I knew, the deer I was getting could’ve been gut-shot, left to hang in 90-degree heat, and then dragged along a black-top road en route to the processor. No thanks. That was the last deer I ever took to a processor. Insist on getting your own deer back when you have processing work done. If that’s not possible, I’d advise doing business elsewhere.
9. Marinade Problems
“First, soak for 48 hours in Italian dressing …”
It’s enough to make a venison-lover cringe.

Look, Italian dressing and BBQ sauce taste fine, but you’d better be a ravenous fan of them if you’re using them to soak venison steaks for two days. At the end of those two days, your steaks will taste just like … Italian dressing or BBQ sauce.

There’s nothing wrong with a little splash of flavor enhancement, but try lighter flavors that complement, rather than mask, the flavor of deer meat, and keep the marinade time short. My usual maximum is three or four hours. A favorite marinade for grilled venison steaks is a mixture of olive oil, a spoonful of balsamic vinegar, a spoonful of Worcestershire sauce, some minced garlic (with the juice), a squirt of mustard and salt and pepper to taste.

Good venison needs to age a few days. One good way to age is in a cooler of ice with a drain plug open and pointed down-hill. This purges blood from the meat.
10. Cooked Too Cool, for Too Long Venison recipes, especially grilled recipes, often call for removing the meat after a couple minutes per side. For many, the result of that is, “this is raw and gross.” And so they place it back on the grill. After a while, it turns gray, chewy, dry … and still gross.
Grilled venison is best when eaten with a medium-rare interior, but the outside needs to be cooked. In order to do that, your grill needs to be hot enough to instantly sear the meat surface and lock in those flavors and juices. Flip your venison steaks one time. If you don’t have nice grill marks after three or four minutes, the grate isn’t hot enough.
11. Improper Packaging and Freezing
Freezer burn doesn’t help the flavor of ice cream or anything else, deer meat included. Modern vacuum packaging systems are handy and save on space, but I’ve used some that resulted in freezer-burned meat after a few months. If you’re buying a vacuum-sealing unit, get a good one.
We package our deer the old-fashioned way, first wrapping our portion in clear plastic wrap, and then covering that with heavy-duty freezer paper. Each package is clearly labeled, not only so we know what cut of meat is inside and when it was killed, but also which deer it came from. If one animal proves especially tough, we know to use that meat for slow-cooking recipes.
12. Getting too Fancy
There’s no big mystery or secret to cooking venison. Treat it as you would treat very lean beef, and you’ll get outstanding results day in and out. We substitute deer burger for beef hamburger in virtually everything—chili, tacos, sloppy Joe’s, burgers on the grill, spaghetti and who knows what else. We never plan on a “wild game night” at the house. We just plan to cook dinner, and that usually means wild game by default.

(Editor’s Note: This Retro Realtree article was originally published in October of 2012)

Long Range Hunting Newsletter


The cover image this month was taken of me by Robb Wiley of Non-Typical Outfitters on a hunt together this year. It demonstrates the use of an Ultrec Saddle Rest on a front tripod plus the use of some stacked up rocks for supporting the right arm and elbow. Both are taught in the LRH-NTO Shooting Classes which we’ll be offering again next summer.

I had fun this month writing the article on “What’s In Len’s Backpack”. It refers to the stuff I typically have with me on a solo DIY “boots-on-the-ground” hunt for mule deer in the western states.

It turns out that when they are counted, 51 items (a crazy number) find a place in my pockets, around my neck and in or lashed onto my backpack. And a reader already pointed out that I forgot to list toilet paper.

Read more  here

Image result for big whitetail bucks


As the month of November draws to a close,the rut has passed-(at least around NE Ohio)-bucks seem to vanish.
The bucks are exhausted from the rut,as they’ve spent a couple weeks acting like horny teenage boys with a non-stop supply of horny teenage girls wiling to do the deed.
They don’t vanish,they do rest a bit more,but the big bucks are still on the move-they have to drink water at least twice a day,and as it gets colder,they have to eat more not only to stay warm,but to replace the weight and muscle lost during the November rut.
The key (s) to finding bucks now is food sources and bedding areas.
Set up on a trail near a food source,either one going in for afternoon/evening hunts,or a trail going from a food source to a bedding area for an early morning hunt.
Something a lot of hunters don’t concentrate on are the two secondary ruts.
The first begins 28 days after the peak rut in your area,as around 10% of does do not get bred during the main rut.
These does go intro estrous,and get bucks chasing after them-just like the main rut-but a much,much smaller version.
Once you figure out the approximate date of the peak rut,you can begin using doe in estrus scents,estrous bleats,and grunt tubes 28 days later.
The buck I got last year came in to a combination of doe bleats and grunt tube calls.
I did have some scent wicks out-but he came in from the wrong direction to have been able to get wind of them.
That buck didn’t have much of a rack-he was a big bodied deer,and likely the dominant buck in his area,judging by how busted up his rack was,and the newly formed scars he had.
The buck began the season as a high-racked 6 point,by the time I shot him on Dec. 6th,he had a broken brow tine,3 points on one side,and two on the other.
He went down after a 30 yard or so shot from a .45caliber  240 gr Hornady XTP mag jhp bullet in a .50 caliber sabot-pushed by 2 50gr Triple7 pellets. I prefer the .44 cal 240 gr XTP’s in a .50 cal sabot,as they are much easier to load,but my brother and I had split a box of 20 of the .45 cal XTP mags.
My preferred load is the .44 cal XTP pushed by 95-100 grains of Triple 7 FFFG,as it’s a higher velocity load,and accurate out to 150 yds.

Okay,back to late season tactics-after the 10% of does that didn’t get bred in the peak/main rut have been bred-usually in early to mid December,depending on timing of main rut-there a third,but extremely small percentage of your local deer herd that go into estrous around the first or second week of Jan.
That very,very small third rut-( maybe 2-3% of the local deer herd)- is generally yearling does coming into estrous for the first time.
This very minor rut coincides with Ohio’s January muzzleloader season.
I’ve had success during this period using estrous bleats and a grunt tube sparingly.

Some stuff I’ve learned about whitetails over the years…
Bucks use grunts,and does use bleats a lot more than most of us realize-several years ago,I had a 2 year plus long series of surgeries done on my leg,in the nice weather,I would sit on our deck most of the daylight hours-hell,I couldn’t do a whole hell of a lot during the first year and a half of that period of torture-(see pic on sidebar  of landing page @
During that time,I watched does with newborn fawns,does with fawns as they grew up their first summer,bachelor groups of bucks,bucks making rubs and scrapes,bucks chasing does,and bucks and does during the rut.
As I watched the steady procession of deer emerge from the woods that are the Cuyahoga Valley National Park,what I heard was almost constant vocalization,bucks grunt all year ’round,does and fawns bleat all year ’round.
After the bucks have rubbed the velvet from their antlers,sparred with the others in the bachelor groups,and the bachelor groups have broken up-their grunts change.
They get louder and longer,there are more snort-wheeze challenges made when bucks spot other bucks,and then the bucks start fighting in earnest.
Once the pecking order has been established,and the dominant buck has beat up on all challengers,the bucks start making scrapes and rubs in earnest.
Most scrapes will be made under a tree at a field edge,or where thick cover turns to small trees.almost every scrape has a branch hanging down that the bucks can reach-they lick the branch,and rub their heads on it-(there’s scent glands in the buck’s head).
As I’ve said in other posts about deer hunting-make a fake scrape line-and be sure there’s a branch hanging within the buck’s reach over the scrape.
All you have to do is clear all the leaves,branches and other debris in a half-circle/oval shape under the tree-make a bunch-I usually make a line of 6-8 fake scrapes.
**** Great new technique****
Something I tried for the first time this year is using the branches I cut when I cleared shooting lanes-tying some  OD color paracord between trees that had no branches hanging down that a buck could reach,and zip-tying the branches to the paracord.
Holy shit-the bucks tore those branches up-I’ll be using that again next year.

You can use scents such as Active Scrape-(or just piss in the scrapes yourself-but be sure you’re hydrated so your piss is clear),or add some doe urine in the early fall,then a few drops of estrous doe urine starting around the first week of November-don’t use estrous scents any earlier-or you’ll spook the deer,they know that’s not normal.
Then as the leaves turn colors,and nights get colder in late October/early November-the first does start coming into estrous,and the bucks are on their feet chasing those first estrous does for much of the day-and all of the night.
This goes on for about two weeks most years,despite weather,the peak rut remains fairly consistent year after year.
In Ohio,there’s probably more deer killed the second week of November than any time except the week-long gun season.

For the best chance at a late season buck-get out and hunt the really cold days,hunt the days a low pressure system is moving in,hunt in the rain,if it’s not cold enough to snow.
Other than the rut (s),I’ve taken most of my big bucks on days with a cold drizzle or light rain.
After that,the day before a big snow hits is always a good day,as is just after a big snow.
The bucks are still there-it ain’t rocket science to find ’em-know the deer trails in the areas you hunt-the big trails are almost always doe trails-look 10-15 yards to either side of the doe trails,and most of the time,you will find a much less traveled trail-these are the trails the bucks use.
Know where the bedding areas and food sources are-never try to hunt a stand or blind near a bedding area in the afternoon/evening-you’ll get busted-the deer will see and/or smell you.
They choose the bedding areas for a reason-they can see any danger approaching from a long ways off. Hunt near bedding areas really early in the morning-get in to your stand/blind well before daylight,and you have a good chance of catching a buck coming back to his bedding area after feeding all night.

Those who live in areas with large stands of mature timber,and huge hunting areas can take big bucks by tracking them in the snow-search for Larry,Lanny,and Lane Benoit-an entire family of some of the best deer trackers who ever lived.

Do More P.T.!

Sportsmen often quote Theodore Roosevelt’s comments on hunting and conservation, but his views on sporting life went far beyond his spoken words. Through his writings and actions, Roosevelt laid down fundamental guidelines that every hunter can learn from, if not totally agree with.

TR's Rules to Hunt By

In The Wilderness Hunter and Hunting Trips of a Ranchman, Roosevelt expressed his opinions on hunting big game across North America. In African Game Trails, he visited the Dark Continent and blended local opinions with his views from the American West. Though some of his viewpoints were colored by his time period, many are timeless lessons that every hunter can draw wisdom from.

The Cardinal Sin

“On this day I got rather tired, and committed one of the blunders of which no hunter ought ever to be guilty; that is, I fired at small game while on ground where I might expect large.”

— T. Roosevelt, Hunting Trips of a Ranchman

Roosevelt was after bighorn sheep when three jackrabbits crossed his path. He had previously written about the wariness a hunter needed to pursue sheep, but not seeing game for some time had left his trigger finger itching badly.

He wrote that one rabbit practically begged to be shot, being “perched on a bush, and with its neck stretched up.”

He knelt, fired, missed, and instantly regretted his hasty decision—off in the distance an animal stirred and disappeared without Roosevelt or his companion ever learning if it was a sheep or not.

When you target a species to hunt, stick to that animal.

Never Give Up

“I fired into the bull’s shoulder, inflicting a mortal wound; but he went off, and I raced after him at top speed, firing twice into his flank; then he stopped, very sick, and I broke his neck with a fourth bullet.” 

— T. Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter

Elk are infamous for absorbing lead like a sponge and offering no visible reaction in return. In this 21st Century age of one-shot kills and long-range shooting, many hunting guides are frustrated by their clients’ refusal to anchor elk with follow-up shots. The first shot hits perfectly behind the shoulder and the shooter takes a victory lap, leaving the guide to watch as the bull races off to parts unknown.

Roosevelt had poor eyesight and sometimes reached beyond his effective shooting range, but if he had cartridges left and the animal was still in sight he never stopped firing till the animal was secured.

There’s always hope as long as there’s lead in the air.

Measure Distances Accurately

“Distances are deceptive on the bare plains under the African sunlight. I saw a fine Grant[‘s gazelle], and stalked him in a rain squall; but the bullets from the little Springfield fell short as he raced away to safety; I had underestimated the range.”

— T. Roosevelt, African Game Trails

Theodore Roosevelt didn’t have mil-dots, rangefinders, or computerized scopes, but if he had he might have chosen to use them. Some hunters disdain technology and feel it has no place in the grand tradition of hunting, but within reason it can a blessing and not a curse. Make small changes to your equipment list, like a rangefinder, and see if the accuracy is worth the electronic convenience.

Hunting with or without modern devices is a personal choice. However, don’t let nostalgia rob you of the chance at more, and more ethical, shots.

Don’t Play The Numbers Game

“The mere size of the bag indicates little as to a man’s prowess as a hunter, and almost nothing as to the interest or value of his achievement.”

— T. Roosevelt, African Game Trails

Roosevelt and his son Kermit kept only a dozen or so of the 512 African animals they killed while on safari. The vast majority of the animals went to museums as exhibit specimens or were used for meat. He wrote that the two had not killed even a hundredth of the animals they could have if they had been willing.

As a foreign dignitary and arguably the most popular man in the world at the time, the only bag limit imposed on him in colonial Africa was the one within his own conscience. Roosevelt knew a full bag limit doesn’t necessarily mean a full day.

Judge your days afield on the memories made, not the shots fired.

Be Sure of Your Target

“The cowboy’s chapfallen face was a study; he had seen, in the dim light, the two ponies going down with their heads held near the ground, and had mistaken them for bears … He knew only too well the merciless chaff to which he would be henceforth exposed; and a foretaste of which he at once received from my companion.”

— T. Roosevelt, Hunting Trips of a Ranchman

– See more at:

Ohio’s archery season starts in two weeks.

That means you’ve only got two weeks left to target shoot.

You should be shooting at first and last light as much as possible,and wearing the clothes you will wear hunting.

Get out in the woods,check your stand/blind set-ups-you picked your stand/blind locations and cut shooting lanes back in August right?

You already cleared debris and sticks/branches from the trails to your blind/stands right?

You already know the distances to the most likely areas the deer will approach from right?

You can already put all 6 arrows into 6″ or less from those distances,right?

You already know where all the food and water sources and bedding areas are in relation to your stands/blinds,right?

You know what stands/blinds to hunt depending on wind direction right?

You know which stands/blinds you can NOT hunt in early morning or late evening because the sun will be in your eyes,right?

Where it’s legal,you already have salt/mineral blocks out right?

Where it’s legal,you have corn in feeders already setup and filled,right?

You already planted fall/winter food plots with a variety of grains and brassicas right?

You already washed all your hunting clothing and let them hang outside for a day,right?

Then you put said clothing in a clean plastic bin(s) with some pine cones,and pine,oak, or cedar branches in several small paper bags spread out among the clothes in the bin(s),right?

Your early-season hunting boots are in the same bin,right? Already waterproofed and aired out for a few days,right?

Your day pack is in the same bin(s) too,right?And your rain gear?

Got a map of the area you plan to hunt,a compass,fire starting kit,first aid kit, etc. in your day pack right?

Along with all the stuff I wrote about last year in this post,right?

If for whatever reason,you made a bad shot on a deer,you do know how to track a wounded deer,right? If not,read this I wrote that last year also.

You know how to process your deer like I wrote about Here, and Here ,right?

Get out in the woods-scout your hunting area,find all the deer trails,water and food sources,bedding areas,and the trails between bedding area and water source,food source and water source,food source,water source and bedding areas. Pay attention to what the deer eat at what time of year,plant winter food plots where legal-and you’ll have a shot at a late season buck as his body is seriously nutrient depleted  from the rut,and he’ll be drawn to high quality food after the rut has ended. The same food plot will attract does as well,so you have no excuse for not filling your freezer with venison this year !

If you want the local deer herd to remain at optimum numbers of deer-shoot every coyote you see during deer season-shoot enough of them,and the furs will cover your hunting costs for the year!

Fewer ‘yotes mean more deer,studies have shown coyote predation can kill up to 90% of whitetail fawns in areas with a lot of ‘yotes-eastern coyotes are an invasive species,as such,they need to be extirpated.

If there are feral hogs in your area-shoot every one of those you see as well-they eat many of the same foods deer eat.

Feral hogs are an invasive species as well-extirpate them-look at them as bacon on the hoof !

Get out in the woods,get your blinds/stands ready,clear debris from trails you use to and from your blinds/stands-shoot arrows every day,make sure your broadheads are razor sharp,use a safety harness if you hunt from a treestand!

Hunt safely,hunt smart,know your quarry’s habits-if you want to take a big buck,you have to get out in the woods and work for it-it ain’t like the hunting shows on the tee-vee!




Do more PT!

I wrote about this last year Here and Here and Here

*since I wrote those posts last year,I’ve seen 8-10 bucks raking antlers on branches above their scrapes-was too busy hunting to write up a new post on the subject during last year’s rut.*

I’m putting lots of hunting info up long before deer season gets underway.

It’s now September 12th-Ohio’s archery season for deer starts on September 26th-that’s two weeks away people-get out there and get set up,only a month or so away from the time to be making fake scrape lines-so read up on it…

Via Field & Stream Here

Minnesota whitetail nut Billy Jerowski is a fair-minded, modern husband—one whose manhood isn’t threatened by doing dishes or hanging laundry. But he never imagined his domestic experience would improve his deer hunting. That is until after he’d been watching numerous bucks work scrapes, when it dawned on him that the licking branch doesn’t have to be parallel to the ground. “I realized that bucks love getting their antlers up into anything—a deadfall or a vine—whether it hangs vertically or horizontally,” he says. “That got me to thinking.”

The Scrape Line
Always ready to experiment, Jerowski drove to his hunting area and strung a wire tightly between two trees, like a clothesline. To this wire, he hung short lengths of rope, a green tree branch, even a section of grapevine. “I roughed up some dirt below the wire to start the scrape,” he says. “But I doubt I needed to. The bucks just hammered those overhanging ‘branches.’ When I came back to check my experiment, the little scrapes I started under each had been hit so many times they’d melded into one giant scrape.”

Jerowski feels his technique trumps the standard mock scrape for several reasons. “First, I can put it wherever I need it—no need to find the right tree, with the perfect overhanging branch,” he says. Second, hanging several different “branch” materials seems to ensure that a buck will become interested in at least one. “Bucks are curious, and once one starts getting his antlers up into one branch and pawing the ground, it isn’t long before other bucks are in on the action, and hitting all of them.”

Hang Tight
When it comes to constructing this mock scrape line, the keys are “tight and strong,” says Jerowski. Bucks can pull down a light line easily, so use strong wire, cable, or a stout rope. Stretch it tightly between two trees, and tie it securely. “To attach the hanging vines or branches, I use zip-ties and I make sure they’re cinched down tight or bucks will pull them off,” he says. “You can scrape up the ground to get bucks started, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Once they start working those hanging ‘branches,’ the scraping comes naturally. In a couple of weeks you’ll have a super scrape right where you need it to be.”

Sit Tight

Where you hang your “scrape line” should be determined by the best possible stand location. Start by picking a tree that offers a good combination of cover and shooting lanes. Then look for another similarly good stand tree nearby that will allow you to hunt a totally different wind. If you position your mock scrape line so you can shoot to it from either tree, you’ll have a buck magnet you can hunt in almost any breeze, and one that’ll stay hot right through the start of the rut.




Do more PT !

Via Outdoor Life

Photograph by Ron Spomer

The proliferation of rifles and scopes that make a 1,000-yard shot a genuine possibility in a hunting scenario suggests to me that many hunters have given up on the very thing that separates hunting from target shooting: the stalk.

The range at which you stop stalking and start shooting is determined by your confidence and your desire for a rush of adrenaline. Getting close to game produces a buzz akin to that of skydiving or your first kiss. Stalking close can be the biggest thrill of the hunt, so why deny yourself? Here are the keys to getting closer to game:

1) Work the wind 
Scent will always give you away, but that doesn’t mean you must work straight into the wind. Crosswinds are fine, and quartering winds are okay if they’resteady enough. Pay attention to landforms that block and funnel currents. Cold breezes hug the ground and drift down draws and around ridges. Hot air rises. Hills and cliffs block wind and redirect it. Pay attention to moving grasses, leaves, plant down, and spiderwebs riding the currents. Don’t start a stalk if the wind isn’t in your favor.

2) Note what your quarry is doing
Sleeping? Time is on your side. Feeding? It’s at least momentarily distracted. Walking? It could soon be out of range, so move quickly.

3) Plan your approach
Study the lay of the land. You might find that if you backtrack a mile to get behind a ridge, it might then cover you to within spitting distance. Or you might be able to to crawl behind a series of rocks and shrubs, one leading safely to the next.

Read the rest @ Outdoor Life

10 commandments of hunting safety

Posted: September 4, 2015 by gamegetterII in hunting
Tags: , ,

Hunt safely

Rules hunters can live by: Ten commandments of shooting safety

Always point the muzzle in a safe direction: Control the direction of the muzzle at all times. Do not point a firearm or bow at anything you do not intend to shoot. Never rest a muzzle on your toe or foot. Keep your finger out of the trigger guard until the instant you are ready to fire. Always keep the safety on until ready to fire; however, the safety should never be a substitute for safe firearm handling.

Treat every firearm or bow with the same respect you would show a loaded gun or nocked arrow: Every time you pick up a firearm, the first thing you do is point the muzzle in a safe direction and check to see if it is loaded. Be sure the chamber and magazine are empty and that the action is open until ready to be fired. If you do not understand how to determine if it is loaded, do not accept the firearm until someone has safely shown you that it is unloaded. Read your instruction manual carefully before you handle new firearms or bows.

Be sure of your target and what is in front of and beyond your target: Before you pull the trigger you must properly identify game animals. Until your target is fully visible and in good light, do not even raise your scope to see it. Use binoculars! Know what is in front of and behind your target. Determine that you have a safe backstop or background. Since you do not know what is on the other side, never take a shot at any animals on top of ridges or hillsides. Know how far bullets, arrows and pellets can travel. Never shoot at flat, hard surfaces, such as water, rocks or steel because of ricochets.

Unload firearms and unstring conventional bows when not in use: Leave actions open, and store sporting arms in cases when traveling to and from shooting areas. Take bolts out or break down shotguns if necessary. Know how your equipment operates. Store and transport firearms and ammunition separately and under lock and key. Store firearms and bows in cool, dry places. Use gun or trigger locks and guards when not in use.

Handle the firearms, arrows and ammunition carefully: Avoid horseplay with firearms. Never climb a fence, a tree or a ladder with a loaded firearm or bow and arrows. Never jump a ditch or cross difficult terrain with a loaded firearm or nocked arrow. Never face or look down the barrel from the muzzle end. Be sure the only ammunition you carry correctly matches the gauge or caliber you are shooting. Always carry arrows in a protected cover or quiver. Learn the proper carries. Try to use the two-hand carry whenever possible because it affords you the best muzzle control. Always carry handguns with hammers over an empty chamber or cylinder. If you fall, be sure to disassemble the gun and check the barrel from the breech end for obstructions. Carry a field cleaning kit.

Know your safe zone-of-fire and stick to it: Your safe zone-of-fire is that area or direction in which you can safely fire a shot. It is “down range” at a shooting facility. In the field it is that mental image you draw in your mind with every step you take. Be sure you know where your companions are at all times. Never swing your gun or bow out of your safe zone-of-fire. Know the safe carries when there are people to your sides, in front of, or behind you. If in doubt, never take a shot. When hunting, wear daylight fluorescent orange so you can be seen from a distance or in heavy cover.

Control your emotions when it comes to safety: If you lose control of your emotions you may do something carelessly. If you have just shot a target or animal you probably will be excited. At that moment you may turn with a loaded firearm back toward your friends, or you might run with a loaded firearm toward a downed animal with the gun safety off. You or someone else may be in danger once you lose control of your emotions. Show discipline. Rehearse in your mind what the safe actions will be. Do not allow your daydreams to replace good judgment. Show restraint and pass up shots which have the slightest chance of being unsafe.

Wear hearing and eye protection: While shooting at the range, you must wear hearing and eye protection at all times. Firearms are loud and can create noises which are damaging to a person’s hearing. It can be a gradual loss of hearing due to outbursts of noise over many years. The damage could also be immediate, especially if your ears are next to a muzzle blast. Vibrations from the blast are enough to create loss of hearing. Wear glasses to protect your eyes from escaping gases, burned powder (especially in black powder shooting), and other debris.

Don’t drink alcohol or take drugs before or while handling firearms or bow and arrows: Alcohol and drugs impair normal physical and mental body functions and must not be used before or while handling firearms or archery equipment. These substances affect emotions making it easier to lose control.

Be aware of additional circumstances which require added caution or safety awareness:

Just because.


Here in Ohio,bow season starts Sept.29th,other states have similar starting dates,most by mid Oct. at the latest.

Ohio deer  seasons-

White-tailed Deer Hunting

Species Opening Date Closing Date Daily Bag Limit
Archery September 26, 2015 February 7, 2016 Refer to the Deer Hunting Section for details on zone and bag limits.
November 30, 2015 December 6, 2015
December 28, 2015 December 29, 2015
January 9, 2016 January12,2016

More info @

W. Va deer seasons-

Archery-Sept 26th-Dec 31st

More info-

Click to access Deer_Season.pdf

Pa deer seasons-

DEER, ARCHERY (Antlered and Antlerless) WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D: Sept. 19- Nov. 28 and Dec. 26-Jan. 23, 2016. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license. One antlered deer per hunting license year.

DEER, ARCHERY (Antlered and Antlerless) Statewide: Oct. 3-Nov. 14 and Dec. 26-Jan. 9. One antlered deer per hunting license year. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

More info @

  • don’t forget-Pa has elk hunting!

Michigan deer seasons-

*Archery: Oct. 1 – Nov. 14 and Dec. 1 – Jan. 1

More info @,4570,7-153-10363-312005–,00.html

Kentucky deer seasons-

More info @

Indiana deer seasons-

Archery Season – Oct. 1, 2015 – Jan. 3, 2016

2 antlerless deer OR 1 antlered and 1 antlerless deer (AND bonus antlerless county quota)

More info @

That covers Ohio and surrounding states. The rest of the country has similar hunting seasons-some start earlier,some start later-but they all start in the fall.

You should have your blind/stand locations scouted out,shooting lanes cut,and your trail in and out raked clear of leaves,sticks,branches,etc. with any overhanging branches trimmed,along with any low branches from small trees,and briars and berry bushes that protrude onto the trail cut off at ground level.

Save all that stuff you trim to brush in your blind or stand. If it’s legal in your state-put out fresh mineral blocks and salt blocks now.

Increase the number of arrows you shoot each day,because as the season starts,you’ll be in the woods,and not practicing as much. I shoot a minimum of 6 groups of 6 arrows a day now,and at least 3 days a week,I shoot 12 groups of 6 arrows-6 in the morning,6 in the evening. At least 2 days a week,I shoot my 6 groups of arrows at last legal shooting light-(half hour after sunset here) Everyone needs to do this-because if there’s any issues with your sights – it’s better to find out now,and have time to fix the problem than it is to find out when you draw your bow on that big buck-and you can’t see shit.

If you hunt private land,and can get your stand/blind set up now-set it up-that way the deer get used to it,and don’t see it as a threat.

If you use trail cameras-you should have had them up in July. If you don’t have them up-get ’em up now.

I know I bring this up a lot-but until more deer hunters get it-the deer herds will continue to shrink many areas-

Shoot every coyote you see-more ‘yotes= fewer deer,in some areas,fawn predation is as high as 90%. That means the ‘yotes are killing 9 out of every 10 fawns born. Shoot the damn things-they’re not native to the eastern U.S.-they are an invasive species-plus eastern ‘yotes have a considerable amount of wolf DNA that they picked upon their way east in Minnesota,Wisconsin,the U.P.of Michigan,and parts of Ontario.

The second problem animal affecting whitetail deer are feral hogs-they eat the same foods as the deer,and while deer can have twins,even triplets,hogs can have 3 litters of 6-8 piglets-(sometimes up to 10 per litter)- per year,sometimes 4. The only way to remove a feral hog family-called a sounder-is to kill or trap every single one of them.If you leave just two,a boar and a sow-within a year,there will be 60-100 hogs in the same area,as the piglets from the first litter will be able to breed and have piglets within 6 months.

The sounders are territorial,so if you take one out-it will be at least a year before another moves in.

Feral hogs have been around from the Carolinas  to Florida,and Florida to Texas along the gulf coast since the Spanish explorers in the 1500’s released pigs in every new place they came to,because the pigs could fend for themselves,and be hunted for food when needed.

It’s impossible to eliminate feral hogs from the southeast,but it is possible to remove them from the surrounding states where they are a problem. The best the southeast can hope for is to limit the billions in crop damage by removing individual sounders.

Unless you want to see the deer herd in your area crash-start killin ‘yotes and feral hogs-remember-you gotta get the whole sounder-all of ’em- to get rid of the hogs.

Get out in the woods.




Do more PT !

I know it’s only early August,but it’s time to hit the woods,scout the local deer,pick stand/blind locations,and cut shooting lanes.

Save the cut branches to start brushing in your blind or stand.

Be sure you go with a friend,one of your kids,whoever,just have another person go with you,and have them stand in the areas deer will approach from,then cut your shooting lanes.

Now’s the time to put fresh mineral blocks out-(if legal in your state)-I always put a few of the reddish colored stockmans blocks from Tractor Supply out for mineral blocks.

Same minerals as the much,much more costly blocks made by several companies as “specially formulated for deer” mineral blocks. I keep them out year ’round,along with regular salt blocks.

Now’s also the time to start getting fall/winter food plots ready-at least in most of the east and NE.

Scouting now,finding trails if you’re hunting a new area,hanging trail cameras if you use them,and figuring out the best stands/blinds to use if you want to get a big buck.

Pay attention to the angle of the sun in early morning and late evening,then guesstimate what the angle will be during early bow season and choose your stands/blinds accordingly. You don’t want to be facing into the sun in am or pm,you want the sun at your back.

As you find the deer trails-look about 5-10 yards to either side for trails made by a single deer-that is often  the trail of the dominant buck in the area,it’s a buck trail for sure,may not be the big one-but you’ll know from trail cam pics,or the size of the tracks,and size and number of scrapes during pre-rut.

More hunting tips/tactics coming soon.

Here’s a good article from Outdoor Life…

How to Scout for Summer Whitetails

Another from Field&Stream…

Early Season Whitetail Tactics