Posts Tagged ‘whitetail hunting’

Tomorrow is opening day of OIhio’s gun season for whitetailed deer.

Over a half million hunters hit the woods and fields for the Ohio deer gun season.

Something I neglected to say in my previous hunting posts this year-

If you do not know how to track and find wounded deer-or any other or any other animal you plan on hunting-then you have no business being in the woods and fields hunting-none whatsoever.

Just because you can shoot sub minute of angle groups from a bench at 100yds-that does not mean you can hit a deer-or any other critter in it’s vital organs for a quick,clean,humane kill.

If you do not know how to track wounded game-I’ll go over the basics,but use Google,use You Tube-there’s a plethora of info on how to track game available on the ‘net.

First of all,when you take a shot at a deer,lean against a tree if possible to steady your arm,shoulder,and rifle or shotgun. If you can rest the forearm of your shotgun or rifle on a branch at the right height for you-that’s even better. Carrying shooting sticks is hands down the best way to insure that you have a stable shooting platform-aside from using your pack as a rest and shooting from prone.

If you are taking part in a deer drive-pay attention to where the other hunters are at ALL times!!!

When shooting at a deer that’s walking/running-do not stop moving your weapon when you pull the trigger-it’s just like shooting clays-keep the gun moving,pull the trigger as the gun is moving-as you keep your sights/bead on the deers vital organs-(look it up-behind and slightly below front shoulder).

Pay attention to where the deer was when you took your shot.

If you do not see or hear the deer fall-sit down,wait at least a half hour before tracking the deer. Keep your eye on the spot where the deer was when you shot.

Slowly and quietly walk to the spot-mark the spot. I carry surveyors tape/ribbon in my hunting pack. It’s simple to tie a piece on a branch,or leave it on the ground with a rock or stick to anchor it in place.

Start walking a small circle around the spot you marked,looking for fresh  tracks and blood,walk a slightly bigger circle each time-when you find either-mark the spot. (use toilet paper if you don’t carry anything else)

Follow the trail as far as you can-marking it every 20 yds or so-closer in heavy cover-if you lose it,start walking circles around the last blood you found. Watch the trail in front of you-wounded deer will lay down in cover almost every time-that’s why you wait a half hour-if you made a good shot,the deer will lay down and bleed out.

If you took your shot at last light-it helps to have something reflective-trail tacks,the orange Tink’s scent bottles-something you can easily spot with a flaslight/headlamp.

Another thing that helps tracking at night is a light with a blue filter or blue light/lens.

Blood seems to show up better under the blue lights.

The rest of tracking at night is the same as tracking during daylight-mark the trail,if you lose it-mark the last spot you found blood-then walk a circle-starting small,then slowly increasing in size with each trip ’till you find the trail again.

Every animal that moves through the woods leaves signs of it’s passing-learn what those signs are,and you’ll have an easier time tracking.

A few points about the blood you find…

If the blood is bright red,and full of bubbles,sort of foamy or frothy looking-that’s a sign of a solid lung hit,which is a fatal wound.

Blood with deer shit in it,partially digested vegetation in it means you gut shot the deer,and it’s going to die eventually. Best to back off,and come back in the morning-(unless temps are over 50-55 at night)

Really dark colored blood usually means a liver hit-again,the deer will die at some point,usually not quickly. A liver hit deer will bed down ASAP. If conditions are right,and you can move quietly,follow the trail-marking it as you go-watch ahead of you for the deer to get up to run again. They often have a hard time getting up,so you have a chance at putting another round in it.

There’s more to it than that-too much to get into in this post-my version of tracking basics comes from over 45 years spent hunting whitetailed deer,elk,moose,bear,bighorn sheep,antelope,mule deer,dall sheep,and caribou.

I’ve worked for outfitters,tracked and found wounded game for clients to earn my paycheck-I highly reccomend the trail tacks,surveyors tape/ribbon,blue light method of tracking.

When you know the area,you can often predict where the critter is going,and save yourself a lot of tracking time-which is slow,tedious work.

You owe it to the animals to kill them as quickly and humanelay as possible.

Don’t take questionable shots.

Before deer season,when you are at the range-don’t just shoot from a table or bench-shoot offhand,shoot sitting,shoot leaning against a tree/post,shoot kneeling,shoot prone.

Shoot clays.

If you have somewhere to do this safely-take an old tire,using good duct tape,tape cardboard over the hole,then thumbtack targets to it-we use a 3″ bullseye,then have a friend roll the tire down a slight hill. When you can hit that target every time-you are capable of hitting a running deer. Also great practice for rabbit hunting-which you should also be doing if there are bunnies in your area.

*alternate method of attaching cardboard-drill small holes,use tie wire to attach cardboard-use duct tape or thumbtacks to attach targets.

If you don’t have a hill to use the tire method-hang a tire from a tree branch-(where there’s safe backstop behind it)-or make a frame from old 4×4’s or landscape timbers.

Drill a small hole in bottom of tire-through tread-screw in a medium sized stainless steel eyebolt,get yourself 50 or 100 yds of rope,tie to eye bolt. To the side of frame,install another eye bolt-run your rope through that,then pull it to where you will shoot from.

Pull the rope with a hard quick pull to get tire moving-then practice hitting target attached to the moving tire.

That’s how you get good at hitting moving targets.

Good luck to everyone hunting this weeks Ohio gun season-and to those in the second week of W.Va and Pa gun seasons.

Pay attention,wear hunter’s orange-too many guys shoot an anything moving that’s even close to the color of a deer-but I have yet to see a day-glo orange deer.




Do More PT!



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.!