Sunday, December 28, 2014

Mr. Elusive

There are those bucks who rarely make a fatal mistake.  Although I'm very confident a hunting buddy saw this buck during November based on his description, he got pinned and the hunt was quickly over.  I haven't seen this buck in person and only have one picture of him this year, but for some reason I have a feeling he made it.  I found the sheds of this buck as a yearling and two year old, hopefully I will find them this year as well.  He really blew up as a three year old and seems to have very good genetics.  He will be a monarch next fall and I hope to finally see him on stand.
Bucks like this keep you dreaming all year round

Friday, December 26, 2014

November Bucks

This post is way too late but I definitely needed to get it up.  I shot this buck Nov. 2. The first night of my eight day hunting vacation. As a matter of fact, I only had to be on stand for an hour before a whole parade of deer came down off the ridge grunting and chasing all the way to within range. It was the hunt of a lifetime so far...this guy had a serious attitude and certainly was not going to back down...Glad I got him but man it would've been cool to see another three or four year old pass through because it would have been a showdown for the hot doe. 

My smile says it all

This years rut was absolutely crazy the first week of November.  I had trail cameras in different spots around the state and there was a boatload of daylight movement Nov. 1 through the 8th.
Got off easy, I was eating lunch at Grandmas

Dad's bow buck, a fighter too

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Getting Close

As the season nears, I can't help but run a mental checklist through my head every so often.  Today I ran to the store to pick up a few necessities and also a 'want' item.  The "I want' item was something I believe will clear up space in my pack and create less noise and movement while on stand.  I've always had a hard time carrying and storing shed antlers that are used for rattling.  They always seem to bang together at all the wrong times no matter how hard you try to keep quiet.  I found it especially difficult to handle real antlers while pulling them off bow hangers, and making the transition to both hands.  The few times a hunter actually rattles in a buck, (the success rates of rattling in deer are relatively small) the hunter must make a seamless transition with the antlers in order to hang them so they don't fall twenty feet to the ground.  The chances of getting them hung or put in a pack without banging them against metal or something else is a risk I'm no longer willing to take.  I want something that will be simple to keep close and silent when need be.  It's a cheesy name but the 'Heavy Horns' bag from Hunters Specialties looks to be right on.  Easy to use, simple to store or hang, and they produce a sound I feel is realistic enough to get deer engaged in what they hear, which is all hunters can ask for when calling.  Combined with Hunters Specialties' excellent (loud) grunt call, I'm excited to see if the Heavy Horns create realistic situations to reel in heavily pressured whitetails.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rake 'em in

Outdoor publications are full of tips and tricks coming from expert hunters who have purposely used those tips to lure in deer.  Last fall, I was trying to use one of those tips in order to quietly approach a stand that is difficult to reach without busting deer, and discovered something else.  I raked the last sixty yards to my stand hoping this would silence my approach to the hang-on which is pinched between bedding and feeding areas.  It not only silenced my approach, the deer found it quite helpful for them as well.  It isn't too surprising actually.  Deer are very curious and the exposed dirt spurred their curiosity for whatever reason.  Possibly because of the smell, but also I think they prefer not to be too loud for obvious reasons.  So, for this upcoming season, come mid-October, I will be raking paths not only for me, but for deer.  I believe this will be a great strategy to re-direct deer traffic to areas where I want them to be.  This will especially deadly when the path I rake leads to a natural or mock scrape. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Basement Therapy

My wife and I just bought a house.  Although the yard isn't big enough to loft some arrows, the basement is perfect.  

Not shooting broadheads yet but it sure is fun to look at them

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Boys of Summer

There's nothing like pulling trail cameras and seeing multiple pictures of good bucks  Although I didn't have that happen today, I did have some deer walk past my camera (and potential stand site).  For this being a new property just a few miles down the road, I was quite happy.  Although I didn't get him on camera, having the landowner tell me he saw a great velvet buck was even better. 
This is more like it...
Unfortunately this property isn't two miles away

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Shed Hunting...Experiences gained and lessons learned.

Shed hunting in Richland County Wisconsin is easy.  Deer numbers are high and the driftless regions' hilly country makes it easy for hunters to predict where deer might bed.  In my experience, there isn't a better spot to find sheds than on a hillside facing south close to a food source.  South facing hillsides receive lots winter sunlight and stay much warmer because of this.  In Northeast Wisconsin, shed hunting isn't quite as easy.  I recently went shed hunting with my father-in-law to a great property south of Green Bay.  The land has everything wintering deer love.  Lots of 20-25 year old pines that provide great warmth on subzero days, thick tangled bedding cover and picked crop fields nearby.  There was one small problem, I had no idea where to even start looking.  Knowing that deer hang out in wind-blocking pines I starting there.  Surprisingly, little sign of deer was found besides scars from the 2013 rut.  The hard rain and 20 mph winds encouraged us to move onto the 'obvious' spots to speed up the process.  Within twenty minutes of weaving on and off logging trails I spotted a gorgeous shed right in the middle of a logging road.
After finding the right side of this 3 year old buck I was thinking this flatland shed hunting wasn't so difficult.  Unfortunately, shed hunting isn't like morel mushroom hunting, there aren't always more next to a dead elm.  We spent three more hours in the rain... and getting lost (we made genius decisions to both wear full camo, not planned but still, who does that shed hunting)? Looking back, I found the shed in a place I should've looked right away, paths of least resistance leading to food.  The logging road was most likely a beaten trail by January so it provided deer with a relatively easy route, if there ever was one this winter.  Early afternoon we called it quits on account of wet clothes and cold hands but had an excellent day exploring new property and discovering how and where deer travel this 'unpredictable' flatland woods.  Below, I have provided a list of tips that have helped me find more sheds, I hope you find them helpful.

1.  Locate the food.  Deer are hungry and still attempt to eat 10 pounds of food per day. 

2.  Sunlight. As mentioned earlier, southfacing hillsides warm quickly and stay warm. locate a south-facing hillside that leads to crop fields. 

3.  The nocturnal buck once asked himself, "what trail keeps me unseen the longest before entering a food source?"  Find these trails and scour them, old weary bucks use them.

4.  Thermals.  Bucks love to bed where they can use rising and cooling thermals to their advantage.  Know where deer bed at dusk and dawn.  

5.  Put in the time.  Rarely will you find a pile of sheds from a couple hours of hunting. Don't wear yourself thin, divvy up your time over a few weeks if possible. 

2014 sheds found in Richland County WI

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Build it, and they will come

A famous quote from one of America's most beloved baseball movies should provide every passionate deer hunter with one of those, "ah-ha" moments.  For me, "Field of Dreams" no longer brings visions of an Iowa countryside baseball field with a corn field set in the backdrop.  Last summer, my Dad and I decided to try our first adventure with food plotting.  I had great plans of creating a large plot on newly purchased land, to my surprise, most of my plans came together quite nicely.  After getting married, I only had so much time to scrunch in a few days to spray, disc and plant, all the while planning this around a good rain to ensure germination.  Mid-June 2013, Dad and I began to disc up the plot.  Within minutes my Field of Dreams was coming true.  Deep, rich soil began to show and I immediately knew we would at least have some success with our experiments of this summer.  An hour or so later, two plot sights were turned over and planted with brassica, clover and chicory.  Luckily we received a good rain and things were looking up.
Some time later, as you can tell, we received a little too much rain.  My large food plot was what I thought, completely destroyed.  I had spent hours removing rocks and debris from this area knowing it had the possibility of producing tons of food for my deer.  Well, the rocks found their way back into the plot, and some others that were buried for years decided to join as well.  There wasn't much I could do, I live in Green Bay and I wasn't going to drive back and forth 3.5 hrs to remove rocks and stew and fret over what happened.  We let it be and decided this plot might be a lost cause. 
Well, lets just say the dream was fulfilled after all.  I gave away the success story right away with the first photo I posted here.  Three bucks choosing to browse through my brassica plot in late December in search of high protein greens.  The above photo is from October 27th. Rich, heavy and very green, I knew this plot was going to attract everything that passed thru once the rut finished.  From October 27th to the top picture taken Dec. 28th, deer had basically eaten the entire plot.  Had I been around to hunt it more, I'm sure most evenings would've been filled with me seeing deer filing into the plot at the cusp of darkness. 

This post isn't to discourage hunters from creating or improving natural browse, or to say food plots are a better way to feed deer, it's simply to remind them, if you build it they will come.  Build natural browse but culling and clearing, or plant, they will come.  Seriously they will, and they did as you can see.  Later winter deer fall into a strict pattern of bedding in daylight and feeding at night to build up fat reserves for winter.  With the plot situated not 100 yards from bedding areas, the brassica was too easy and obvious for them.  The process of creating food plots was fascinating to me and had me appreciating the rich soils and rains God provides for us.  Even better is great tasting venison home grown on the farm.