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- Tracy Breen
Tips on Accessing Your Blinds

Dr. Grant Woods of GrowingDeerTV provides some helpful tips on properly accessing your hunting blinds. Small changes can provide large results.

- Tracy Breen

The first successful hunt my son went on was a turkey hunt. He was ten years old.  When the shot was fired from his 20 gauge and the bird went down, you would have thought he had just won the lotto or been drafted by the Detroit Tigers; he was that excited! I have hunted big game across North America and from the time my son was born, I always thought that turkey hunting would be the hunting sport I introduced him to first. Below are five reasons I decided to take him turkey hunting before I introduced him to deer hunting.

The Success Rate is Extremely High

The success rate when turkey hunting is extremely high, which is one of the main reasons adults enjoy turkey hunting.  Let’s face it: we all love to deer hunt.  It can be fun but deer hunting is also a lot of work.  Deer hunting is a lot of work and the success rate, especially when hunting on public land, is extremely low.  I believe many kids get turned off by hunting in general because the first hunt they go on is a deer hunt.  After a long weekend of deer hunting, many kids are ready to walk away from hunting before they ever get started.  Why is this the case?  Deer hunting is often a marathon.  It takes a lot of time and effort to be successful.  A young child doesn’t have the patience for a marathon.

They prefer a 50-yard dash.  Most parents or hunting mentors who scout ahead of time will have a good idea of where turkeys are living before they take a kid hunting. If birds can be located and patterned, the odds of success are extremely high.  If a young hunter fills his tag, chances are he will be hooked for life.  We all enjoy being successful.  Kids especially need to be successful in the field or they will quickly lose interest and go back to playing video games.   

Turkey Hunting is Full of Action

Turkey hunting is great for kids because the hunt itself is fast-paced.  We live in a world full of technology.  Kids are used to being on the go and being entertained.  I don’t always agree with it, but it is a fact of life.  Turkey hunting is a fast-paced hunt that doesn’t require kids to sit still in one place for hours like deer hunting often does.  Most turkey hunters are on the go most of the day.

I usually don’t sit for more than an hour or two at a time when turkey hunting.  If birds don’t respond to my calls in one area, I keep walking and calling or get in the truck and check out another hunting spot.  Kids enjoy being on the go and turkey hunters who spend a lot of time covering ground in search of a Tom are often rewarded with success.

Calling Turkey is Fun

Why do most adults who turkey hunt enjoy it so much? Calling in turkeys is a lot of fun! I called in my first turkey by myself at 15 years old. The first time I yelped on my mouth call and the tom gobbled back, I was hooked for life. Forty-five minutes after the first gobble, I pulled the trigger on my 12 gauge.  I will never forget walking up on the bird and wrapping my tag around his foot.  Calling in a strutting tom is action-packed. The interaction between the caller and the turkey creates a lot of excitement.  My son missed a turkey or two before he controlled his nerves enough to hold his gun steady.  The excitement of calling in a turkey can rattle the nerves of kids and adults.

Young hunters can quickly become decent callers and call in their own birds, which adds even more fun to the hunt.

Turkey Hunting is Affordable

Turkey hunting is extremely affordable. Next to small game hunting, turkey hunting is probably the least expensive hunt out there.  My son’s first turkey tag cost me $7.50!  Many kids start out turkey hunting with an inexpensive single shotgun.  A box or two of shells won’t break the bank either.

Turkey hunting out of state isn’t expensive. In fact, the first longbeard my son ever killed was killed in another state. I have turkey hunted in a dozen or more states.  In fact, it is my favorite critter to hunt out of state and my son has caught the bug.  If you take a kid on an out-of-state deer hunt, it will cost a lot of money and the odds of success are fairly small.  If you take a kid turkey hunting out-of-state, the cost of the hunt is minimal and the odds of success are high.  In fact, many states offer an early youth season which helps stack the odds in a kids’ favor.  We all enjoy going on out-of-state hunts and kids do too!  Hunting somewhere you have never been is fun and will result in lasting memories you and your kids will never forget!

Eating What You Kill

Last but not least, one of the greatest reasons to introduce a kid to turkey hunting before deer hunting is because they will get to experience the satisfaction that comes from eating what they kill. Some kids don’t want to eat wild game but because most kids are accustomed to eating turkey, they will eat wild turkey. My son’s face was glowing the first time he sat down at the dinner table and realized that he provided dinner for the entire family. Instilling in kids that eating wild game is a big part of the reason we hunt while they are young is important.  Eating a wild turkey that they killed is a great way for them to fully understand why we hunt.

Taking a kid turkey hunting can be extremely rewarding. Yes, it does require a healthy dose of patience.  Yes, it might require some work and a lot of effort.  But, like anything in life, you will get out of it what you put into it and so will your child!  Helping a kid get their first turkey is something they will never forget.

- Bill Winke
Staging Area Food Plots

The best stands on my farm overlook small staging areas. I never could have said that ten years ago because I didn’t know what a staging area was. I knew I was supposed to be hunting them, I just had no idea what they really looked like. This riddle has finally given up its secrets.

I am talking about a small food plot, an acre or less, located just a short distance into the cover from a larger feeding area – ideally sandwiched between a known bedding area and that larger destination field. All my favorite stand sites set up exactly this way.

Daylight Activity

These staging area plots are the last places the deer visit before going to bed in the morning and the first places they visit when rising from their beds in the afternoon. This means you will experience lots of daylight activity – a fact that becomes quickly, and happily, apparent during the rut when your staging area plots become the social hubs for at least a 20-acre area.

Most food sources don’t produce good morning hunting because the deer are already back in the cover, but these plots are the exception. They are just as good in the mornings as they are in the evenings.

Bow Shot Distance

A redneck blind is perfect for containing your scent for getting close

When a buck makes his way into one of these small plots, he usually ends up within bow range eventually. Again, these spots really shine during the rut because bucks often work the entire area, checking for does and freshening scrapes around the edge. Large plots can be frustrating to hunt when your maximum range is just 40 yards, another reason why these small staging area plots are so refreshing to hunt.

Entry and Exit Routes

Deer only feed in staging area plots for a short time before they pass through heading to larger plots beyond. So they are generally gone shortly after dark. This gives you the perfect opportunity to climb down and sneak away without educating any deer. Again, this is a refreshing twist from hunts on the fringes of larger feeding areas where it can be nearly impossible to get away without alerting deer.

Find Them or Create Them

We are looking for openings just inside the cover from larger feeding areas. Often, in agricultural country, the farmer with his big equipment doesn’t mess with the very end of a narrow point field and eventually these areas grow over with brush and are forgotten. This is the perfect setting to create a small food plot tucked in close to bedding areas but directly in line with the primary food source – the perfect staging area plot.

My property had a number of these spots. All I had to do was remove some brush and trees with a chainsaw and I was ready for the RoundUp and the tiller. You can even do this, in many cases, when hunting on permission.

If your property doesn’t have such areas and you have the ability to create them, it is definitely worth it. Find areas where the wind, terrain and proximity to bedding and feeding areas (between them) all work together to your benefit. In fact, planting micro-plot staging areas is the single most important thing you can do to improve your hunting area.

Because they are small and deer can wipe them out quickly if planted to a grain crop, go with clover and then rotate to brassicas every third year.

How to Hunt Them

Hunting success for Bill Winke

I am a fan of setting up on the opposite side of the staging area plot from where I expect the deer to come. This gives me a safe wind direction (a crosswind). In my best staging area plots, I have a Redneck Blind in this location so I can get great close shots without risk that the deer will see me or smell me. Let the deer work to you rather than set up right where they come out and you will have much better hunting over the course of an entire season.

It took years for me to figure out what a staging area was, but now that I know, I am making up for lost time. While they work well during all parts of the season, when the rut comes, I am glued to these perfect hunting locations.

- Steve Bartylla
Keeping Tabs on Your Neighbors

Spend much time talking to any group of serious hunters and it’s only a matter of time before those hunting around them come up, and it’s pretty rarely a good thing. Often, they don’t hold to the same harvest goals as we do, don’t hunt as “smart” and generally educate every deer within the tri county area that we’re chasing them. Obviously, they’re no where near as good as we are and are ruining our hunting in the process.

Now, I would contend to my last breath that they have every right to engage in any legal activities they so choose on their grounds. It’s up to each of us to find the “fun factor” in hunting and not give a pinch of salt what the neighbors may think, as it’s none of their darn business.

On the bright side, the exact same set of rules applies to us. Because of that, if we employ a little creativity, we can literally transform those hunt ruining neighbors into hunt making resources. Here’s just a couple ways how.

Understanding Training and Pressure

Before we get deeper, we need to flesh out a couple points. The first is that deer are no different than our dog at home, in one important way. We can train them to fear or accept anything.

To illustrate, imagine keeping the dog’s bowl full at all times, but hiding in the corner from 6 AM to 6 PM. During that time, whenever the dog starts eating, you come flying out of the corner and kick it in the butt across the room. Now, please don’t do that, but you shouldn’t have to in order to realize that it’s only a matter of time before that dog is trained not to fear food, but to shift that feeding exclusively to between 6 PM and 6 AM.

The same applies to hidden fences. Feel free to leave the shock collar on until the batteries die. After that, odds are you can remove the collar and the dog stays in the yard, as its already been successfully trained not to leave.

Now, factor how deer deal with hunting pressure into the equation. Every telemetry study on pressured deer I’ve seen essentially concludes the same thing. When pressure ramps up, it is very rare for the pressured deer to leave their home range. That makes sense, as it’s all they know. Instead, they head for the areas they feel safe on that ground and generally stay in those areas during daylight.

In other words, we trained them to go where we aren’t. If the area is more than a very small pocket of cover, they’ll often even move freely within those areas during daylight, but rarely leave them until after dark, typically returning again before first light.

Making the Neighbors Your Friends

I’m sure some are already connecting the dots. In order to transform those neighbors from the scourge of our humanity to our best friends, make your ground the area they head to when they feel pressure. Doing that is actually very easy in principle. Make the deer feel like they aren’t being hunted there and the pressure literally drives them into your arms. It’s really that simple.

Where it gets slightly more challenging is to be able to hunt the snot out of that ground, while still tricking the deer into feeling they’re safe there. To do that, they can’t smell, hear or see you. It really doesn’t matter if you’re there or not, so long as that’s the case, the impact on those deer is exactly the same.

The rub is that low impact, high odds stands tend to be rare in nature. For those that control their hunting grounds, that merely means you may want to lay out improvements to manufacture those low impact, high odds stands. There well may not be a low impact, high odds option, a mere 100 yards off the road. Get in there with a chainsaw alone and you’re likely to be able to make one, though. Bring some seeds with and odds just got better.

I’m afraid this piece isn’t about the specifics of how to manufacture these locations, as that’s a piece in and of itself. In fact, it took me an entire book. The key though is merely being creative and manufacturing a deer flow that leads them past low impact, high odds stands. Just that quick, the neighborhood shenanigans is working for not against you.

The application doesn’t stop there, though. Remember, we humans are training deer every time we step into the deer woods what to fear and what’s harmless. That applies to more than just sucking pressured deer to your grounds.

Turkey in front of a Redneck Bale Blind

In areas where deer have been trained to avoid blinds, merely brush them in a bit or use more natural variations, such as Bale Blinds

Watch how the neighbors hunt and see what not to do. A great example is if and how they use enclosed, elevated box and ground blinds. If they’re using a bunch of them, it’s a pretty safe bet they’re trained deer to fear them.

What?! Now you’re telling me that they are ruining my stand options, as well? No, not at all. Elevated and ground blinds can still be deadly effective, no matter how much the neighbors do or don’t use them.

The key is merely how much blending one must do. For example, I hunt some areas that are about as high of hunting pressure as it gets, but it’s most all stalking and tree stand hunting. In those scenarios, I have nothing against setting any kind of a blind right in the wide open. Now, it admittedly takes special circumstances for me to put them in the open, but it has nothing to do with deer fearing my blinds. It’s merely that pressured deer don’t enter the open during daylight much, unless forced.

On the flip side, another property I manage is in what I’d consider a very lightly pressured area, with the exception of an outfitter on one side. They have a handful of elevated, homemade boxes that are housing hunters more days than not from the first day of deer season to the last. Every elevated blind I set, I ended up moving to break them up better, as the outfitter trained the deer to avoid any set out in the open. After blending them into some trees, they’ve become truly killer setups.


I know human nature is generally to find others to pin our issues on. If that works for you, by all means continue. Personally, I’ve found much more success in doing what I can to transform negatives into positives. Keeping tabs on the neighbors, realizing that they are training the local deer what to avoid, can put us in position to transform their activities from negatives to positives, bolstering our hunting experiences.

Besides, life’s too short to go around being mad at the neighbors. Most of them are pretty great people. They merely don’t always hunt like we do.

- Steve Bartylla
Ground Blind Tips

I’d watched the ancient buck slowly, steadily feeding into range for so long that there was no excuse for not being ready. When he finally decided to shoot the gap my ground blind was covering, and I thought was. Unfortunately, he zigged instead of zagged. I needed to readjust my position and fast, as he was a mere 15ish yards away and about to slip from my life.

Shifting in my seat and reposition my feet, all I had left to do was grab the bow and come to full draw. Shifting my hand just a couple inches, I snatched my Mathews, which was sitting just off my left knee. Clipping the release to the loop, I achieved full draw in one easy motion. For as deadly quiet as every move was, on that calm evening, the old timer heard my Easton slipping across the rest. Now staring a hole into directly into me, it was too late.  I was already settling the pin.

Over the years, I’ve been able to take a good number of deer from ground blinds. For many of the early years of my hunting from blinds, I’ll admit that I wasn’t a fan, wishing the entire time I was enclosed on the ground that I’d found a tree I could be eagle eyeing the surroundings from, instead.

Redneck Blind's Hay Bale Hunting Blind

Do enough of the little things and it’s like you’re not even sitting in the blind.

As with anything, do it long enough and you’re bound to get better. I’ve always refused to skip a spot just because one stand type or another won’t work there. If it’s THE spot I’m going to find a way to MAKE it work. So, ground blind hunting continued, begrudgingly in those days, yes, but continued all the same.

Somewhere along the learning curve, the worm turned and success began coming. The more little tricks I learned the more the success occurred and the more I began looking forward to when a tree stand just won’t work. When that occurs, I’m now thinking, “Good. Now I’ve got a good spot for a blind,” either slipping in a Hay Bale or a Ghillie Deluxe, depending on which “fits” best.

What follows isn’t the most exciting article I’ve ever written, but these seemingly small details add up to a big hunting difference. I know they sure did for me.

Sweeping the Floor

Though getting the max out of blinds really starts with placement details, we’re going to focus on the inside today. That starts with matching the floor conditions of the blind to the animal hunted.

Really, more accurately stated, am I setting this for turkeys or is this being set for virtually any other big game animals? For turkeys, I don’t want to clean the floor of the blind. I’ll be using decoys with the blind and will place that jake and the hen decoy about 5 yards in front of the blind, so that holding up turkeys are often in bow range, anyway.

In that and that one circumstance alone (turkeys), I’ve found it best to actually have leaf, stick, grass and weed liter on the floor of the blind. That way, when I shift my feet, it seems like those natural sounds are being made by the decoys, further selling the lie to the live birds.

As it applies to bear, deer or any other big game animal I can think of, a clean floor is your best friend. When you don’t have decoys 5 yards in front of the stand, the shifting noises one makes inside become your enemy. I often use deer decoys with blinds, as they are tremendous at taking the live deer’s attentions off the blind and focusing on the decoys, while the decoys also are screaming that the blind is of no concern. However, to pull that off most successfully, unlike with turkeys, I want to set deer decoys closer to the edge of my shooting range, which means deer are focusing away from the blind, not towards it. The result is that shifting feet, even when using deer decoys, can ruin an otherwise gift-wrapped shot.

If you question how a random dried leaf, stick or even the stalk of a weed can ruin a shot at a deer, I recorded that bow kill and it aired on DDH TV. In the audio, from a shotgun mic inside the blind, all one hears is the whisper of the arrow going across the string, and that was enough for the old timer to pick up. The volume of that is nothing compared to shifting feet in ground liter. There’s a BIG difference between being 15 yards away in a treestand and the same distance in a ground blind. The drop in height may not be calculated into the yardage of the shot, but it sure impacts how much less they can hear you. On ground level, I’ve had a bear literally hear my cameraman buddy breathing, and that’s no joke. You have to be at least twice, if not three or four times quieter on the ground than when 20’ up a tree.

I was able to survive the sifting of positions I needed due to creating the cleanest dirt floor in the blind I could. That’s really a big deal.

Rearranging the Furniture

Of course, the more we can minimize movements the easier it is to both go unheard and unseen. Chair and bow holder orientations can minimize or maximize those movements.

I like to setup as far back from the windows as I realistically can, without my elbow hitting the back side at full draw and while being able to cover as many likely shot opportunities, without having to shift, as I can.

Looking at the chair first, most seem to set the chair position for comfortable viewing, being willing to shift for the shot, if it occurs. I get it. That’s more comfortable than sitting half cocked, while watching squirrels and birds, waiting for Mr. Big.

I go the other route. I’ll deal with being in a minimally uncomfortable position while watching birds and squirrels, just so I don’t have to shift at all to get the shot at a deer. That orientation both minimizes deer hearing and seeing me move.

Next, I personally don’t use bow holders that hang the bows from the blind frame or leave the bow lay across my lap. Both require extra movements and I am scarred from some cheap and poorly designed models causing the blind roof to move and make noise, spooking deer I was trying to arrow.

Instead, I place a ground bow holder just off my left knee, or right knee for lefties. That way, with my bow hand resting on my knee, I merely drop it a few inched, hidden movements below the window, snatch the bow and come to full draw, all in one smooth, natural movement.

Obviously, that cuts down on potential noises and movements, allowing us to go better unheard or unseen.

Living in Shadows

What I didn’t mention in the intro hunt story was that I was running way behind that day. To get the most out of blind hunting, I typically wear a black ninja hood, black gloves and a black top. Combine that with having the back windows closed and one literally vanishes into the shows, when wearing black.

Camo is for trees and stalking. Black is for blinds.

To put in perspective how powerful that is, let me tell you 2 very quick stories.

The first is me hunting late season in Minnesota. Having just set and blended a blind into a standing corn field, the brutal cold had the deer literally flocking around my position. A temping 3.5 year old 8 got down right chummy, spending somewhere around 30 mins within less than 10 yards of the stand. In fact, for somewhere north of 5 minutes, he stood with his face about 6” from the front of the blind, staring right inside and through me, as he ate and I sat wrapping in an all black Heater body Suit, wearing black underneath, as well.. He didn’t have a clue, until I arrowed his older brother.

Wearing black clothing in blinds is key

Though wearing warmer clothing in the next day’s pictures, the author was wearing all black, along with a black Heater Body Suit, when he had to go undetected by a different, younger buck feeding inches from the blind, as the buck stared right through the author, allowing his older brother to feel comfortable stepping out of the woods and into the sea of feeding deer.

Then there was the Alberta, adult cow moose that literally stuck its head inside the blind I’d slipped up the day before. It’s face was so close to mine that I could feel the air of each exhale through her nose, and she splattered my glasses with some snot mist, merely from breathing normally. If she ever figured out the blind wasn’t empty, she sure didn’t act like it. Odor control and wearing all black that day may have saved me from fighting to get out of that blind at the same time as the adult moose. That may not have ended well at all.

Circling back, running late had cost me the time I needed to dig out my black outer layer. I still pulled it off, but the reason the buck kept staring was because he first heard the whisper and then spotted me. If I were wearing black, he likely would have went right back to walking, after a quick glance. If I hadn’t been already half way through the draw, I seriously doubt I arrow him.


Cleaning the blind floor, orienting the chair for shooting and the bow holder off your opposite knee, while wearing black and keeping back windows closed may not seem like any are big deals. Each and every one of them have delivered tagged deer for me, over the years. Funny thing about little things. Add enough of them together and they can become a pretty darn big deal!


- Tracy Breen


In Episode 02 of the Drop-Tine Report, we interview Tony Walker from The American Way TV Show. Walker recently shot a buck that scores almost 200 inches. We highlight his successful hunt and how he manages his small piece of hunting property.

- Tracy Breen
3 Crossbows To Check Out

Over the last 30 years, bow technology has improved greatly. Bows used to be heavy and cumbersome but as technology advanced, bows did also. Today bows are lightweight, quiet and user-friendly. Over the last decade, crossbows have become more popular as many states have legalized them and bowhunters are aging and slowly making the shift from shooting a compound to shooting a crossbow.

Now more than ever, crossbow technology is being refined and tweaked so crossbow hunters everywhere can enjoy their time in the field without feeling like they are lugging around a 30.06 that is heavy, noisy and difficult to maneuver. Now long ago that was the norm for crossbow users.

Below are three crossbows that have raised the bar this year. All three of these crossbows are fast, quiet and user-friendly. If you are in the market for a new crossbow, consider these crossbows.

Mission Archery Sub-1

Mission Sub-1 Crossbow

One crossbow that will create some excitement in the coming year is the new Mission Archery SUB-1. As the name implies, this crossbow can deliver less than one-inch groups at 100 yards. For hunters who enjoy long range shooting and want to shoot a bow that is extremely accurate and deadly, the SUB-1 fits the bill. This crossbow comes with many notable new features. For starters, The Benchmark Fire Control System allows the shooter to de-cock his crossbow by disengaging the safety, pulling the trigger or shooting a bolt. This feature eliminates the need for a discharge target and saves bolts for hunting, not discharging.

There are several reasons the SUB-1 is so accurate. The patented Sync X cam system utilizes two circular and concentric string tracks, allowing the string to travel at a constant distance from the center of rotation, resulting in unparalleled accuracy. This fully synched cam system works in unison with the CNC-machined flight tract, completely eliminating horizontal and vertical nock travel, which makes the crossbow extremely accurate at long distances.

Hardcore hunters want to be as quiet as possible when they are hunting. The R.S.D. (Removable Silent Draw System) found on the SUB-1 is an extremely quiet drawing system that allows the user to draw the crossbow without making a lot of noise unlike the crank-like systems used on most crossbows.

In addition, the SUB-1 is extremely adjustable. The stock length can be set in six different positions (LOP 14.5” – 15.75”) and the comb height, with the ambidextrous cheek piece, has a range of 1.25 inches. The ergonomic over-molded AR style pistol grip is contoured for a positive feel and is fully interchangeable with aftermarket AR style grips.

The Mission SUB-1 lets a bolt fly at 350 FPS, is 10.7 inches axle to axle when cocked, making it extremely treestand-friendly. It only weighs 7.5 pounds. On top of all of that, the trigger pull is only 3.4 pounds so it feels like you are pulling the trigger on a high-end rifle.

Matt McPherson, Founder of Mathews Archery, helped design this bow so it is no surprise that it is as innovative as it is. Mathews has a long history of being an industry innovator and Mission Archery is following suit. Learn more about the SUB-1 crossbow at Mission Archery.

Ravin Crossbows

Ravin Crossbow

One crossbow that has taken the hunting world by storm this year is the Ravin Crossbow. This crossbow offers everything a crossbow hunter is looking for. It is fast, quiet and notably the most compact crossbow on the market. When cocked, the Ravin is only 6-inches axle to axle so whether hunting from a treestand or a blind, the Ravin is a joy to handle. Ravin offers several models. The R15 is the speed demon and can send a bolt sailing 425 FPS.

At the heart of the Ravin is HeliCoil technology, which is one of the things that separates the Ravin from the pack. The HeliCoil technology coils cables away from the top and bottom of the cams in helical grooves, keeping the cams perfectly balanced. This allows the cams to rotate an incomparable 340 degrees, while both cams remain perfectly level when drawing and shooting. This revolutionary design creates an incredibly compact crossbow and delivers rifle like accuracy at extreme distances.

Another reason the Ravin is so accurate is the frictionless flight system. This technology allows the arrow and string to free float above the rail, eliminating friction, increasing accuracy, and extending the life of strings and cables.

The Ravin has a built-in cocking mechanism, anti dry-fire and auto safety. The Ravin comes pre-tuned and features a 100-yard illuminated scope. On top of all that, the Ravin tips the scales at 6.9 pounds. No question about it: the Ravin is one of the coolest and most user-friendly crossbows on the market. Learn more at Ravin Crossbows.

Scorpyd Aculeus

Aculeus crossbow

For many crossbow hunters, it is all about the speed. Many hunters want the fastest crossbow they can get their hands on. Hunters wanting that will love the Aceleus Crossbow from Scorpyd Crossbows. The Aculeus crossbow is the fastest crossbow on the planet and throws a bolt an amazing 450 FPS. Scorpyd Crossbows has held the title of the fastest crossbow on earth for many years, thanks to patented Reverse Draw technology. The limbs on the crossbow are reversed, resulting in a longer power stroke. How long is the power stroke, you ask? An amazing 18.5 inches! That is several inches longer than many of today’s most popular crossbows. The longer the power stroke, the more speed a crossbow typically shoots. The longer power stroke allows the company to produce a crossbow that delivers more speed with less draw wight. Less draw weight often results in less noise and recoil.

The patented Kempf trigger, named after the company Founder Jim Kempf, is one of the most notable features found on the Aculeus. This trigger is super crisp and has 3.5 pounds of pull and is said to have virtually no travel which means the crossbow has a trigger like a sniper rifle. The amazing trigger is built with MIM components.

The Aculeus crossbow is built like a tank so it can handle the abuse hunters put it through in the woods. It comes with a forged riser, Barnsdale limbs, a vented barrel, and forearm and is built with titanium fasteners for longevity and strength.

Crossbow safety is also important. For that reason, the Aculeus crossbow comes with a patented anti-dry fire device. The Scorpyd Aculeus weighs 7.5 pounds and is 12-7/8” wide when cocked. For those who like to trick out their crossbow, the Aculeus comes with a 1911 style grip so hunters can customize their setup. For more information, visit Scorpyd Crossbows.

If you are in the market for a crossbow, now is a great time to buy. Today’s crossbows are lightning fast, quiet and built for the serious hunter.

- Jon Livingston
Creating Deer Travel Corridors

By Jeff Sturgis, Habitat Design Specialist / Owner of Whitetail Habitat Solutions

One of the most effective ways to get deer within bow range of your treestand is by creating a travel corridor right past it. Deer are creatures of habit, and they often take the path of least resistance within the landscape. Corridors serve as a great method of getting deer to travel from point A to point B along a path that you’ve created.

A critical aspect of travel corridor creation is insuring that you choose the right dimensions for the deer herd in your area. Throughout the range of the whitetail’s habitat, there is ever changing topography, cover type, and percentage of agriculture. Depending on local conditions, deer will tolerate different amounts of confining tangled cover. Deer may avoid corridors and bedding areas all together if they are too confining, so be sure to account for local conditions.

Narrow Hooped Corridors

Creating corridors for deer

In areas with minimal topographical changes and agriculture utilizing 80-90% of the landscape, deer will tolerate much narrower and confining corridors. In these coverless ag regions, deer are forced to live in close proximity to one another. By compartmentalizing the habitat and movements, you can create more efficient features in the habitat that can accommodate high numbers of deer.

Heavily screened bedding areas, unobtrusive food plots, and narrow travel corridors all help to compartmentalize your habitat improvements. 1-2’ trails between bedding and feeding areas are a great start to effective travel corridors. Remove any logs, branches, or dense vegetation from the trails so that deer can easily meander between habitat features.

A great way to gauge if the trail is clear enough is whether or not you could ride a bike through it with ease. Once the trail is clear, hinge small (4-6” diameter) trees away from and perpendicular to the corridor to create screening side cover. Finally, tie young growth and saplings across the corridor to create hoops above the trail 4-6’ from the ground. In these high agriculture regions, deer will frequently utilize these hooped, narrow and confining corridors, but only if they are free of obstructions, so be sure to clear any fallen branches or debris that may fall and clog your corridor!

Natural Corridors

Avoid creating a canopy or tunneled corridor in areas that deer are accustomed to a more open habitat. This option offers a safer approach to ensuring that your corridor is not too narrow or confining. Without hinging alongside or hooping over the trails, simply clear logs and branches from the trail so that deer have no obstacles to hop over or duck under. Trails can be 3-4’ wide and should be easy to pass through.

These moderately sized corridors require little to no maintenance, but should be kept clear or fallen logs or large branches. This method mimics a more natural feature in the habitat, and exploits the theory that deer will simply follow the path of least resistance between bedding areas and food sources.


While hooped and hinged narrow travel corridors undoubtedly have their place in areas of little cover and high agriculture, they can be completely avoided in areas where deer are used to more open habitat. The best recommendation I can offer, is to mimic the natural conditions of the region your parcel is located in. If your travel corridors blend with the local conditions, deer will utilize them! With strategic placement, you can easily encourage deer to travel within bow range of your treestands.

- Jon Livingston
Trail Camera Strategies

By Jeff Sturgis, Habitat Design Specialist / Owner of Whitetail Habitat Solutions

Since the late 1990’s the trail camera industry has truly revolutionized the way we scout, hunt, and fantasize about the whitetail woods. The ability to click through hundreds if not thousands of photos while zooming, inspecting, and scrutinizing every inch of an animal we’ve probably never seen with our own eyes is something modern hunters certainly take for granted. As the years have passed, technology has made leaps and bounds. From film and flash, to digital, infrared, and now cellular cameras, the trail camera industry has evolved to produce the best scouting tools that money can buy. While the cameras have undoubtedly progressed, the best strategies to effectively utilize them have remained the same.

Locating, identifying, and patterning deer with trail cameras creates inherent risk. Camera theft and the possibility of spooking deer are among the top reasons why proper trail camera strategies are essential.

Camera Recommendations

Whitetail buck walking in food plot

Before you purchase your next trail camera, keep in mind what exactly you’ll be using it for. The purpose of these cameras is to show you what’s there when you are not. The investment should ultimately yield accurate intel on what deer are there and how they are moving through the landscape. The latest developments in cameras have greatly reduced their ‘Footprint’ on your scouting efforts. Blackout infrared flash, increased battery life, and cellular photo sharing are all great features to consider depending on your budget.

What I use: I have become a huge fan of blackout infrared flash, trail cam monitoring software and prolonged battery life. I currently use and recommend the Exodus cameras from Exodus Outdoor Gear in conjunction with DeerLab' trail camera software. High quality images, video, Blackout IR flash, 5 year warranty, and incredibly long battery life when using Lithium Ion batteries are all reasons I trust these cameras for reconnaissance year round.

Easy Access

How you set and access a specific trail camera location can determine when and how often you will be able to safely check it. By placing cameras on travel routes between bedding areas and food sources, you can create a great easy in, easy out camera location. Deer are typically only on their travel routes for brief periods at relatively predictable times, so the risk of spooking deer is minimal. These areas can often be checked prior to an evening hunt. So the intel on the SD card will be current, offering you the best information on where you might have a successful sit.

Hidden Placement

How you mount your camera has everything to do with the locations scouting potential. Over the years, I have learned to hang my cameras 6-8 feet from the ground or on trees that offer adequate cover from branches and foliage. Both people and deer can easily spot a poorly placed camera. Deer behavior is influenced by poor camera placement. They often become wary, alert, and sometimes spooked by cameras hung within their reach or line of sight. Mature bucks will tolerate very little stress and will learn to avoid obvious trail cameras quickly.

When people see cameras, they too get spooky. Whether it’s greed or the fear of being caught trespassing, trail cameras become an easy target. I have had several cameras stolen and SD cards taken or cleared as a result of poor camera placement. By placing cameras 6-8 feet up or tucked between limbs, vines, or stump shells, you will greatly reduce the risk of spooking deer and camera theft.

Camera Locations

There are numerous scenarios and features that make good camera locations. I like to spread them out to cover multiple facets of the property.

Central Food Sources

These heavily trafficked areas are great for keeping tabs on large numbers of deer while exploiting the idea of easy access. If you can easily sneak in and out of the location when deer are not feeding or bedded nearby, out up a camera!


One of the most common questions I hear regarding trail cameras asks, “how often do you check them?” In my opinion, there is no right answer. I typically check cameras wile entering the woods to hunt. Most of my cameras are placed so that I can easily sneak to check them or swap an SD card on the way to or near my treestands. This gives me accurate and up to date photos that can influence my choice of which treestand to sneak into depending on which bucks have or have not had their picture taken. Aside from major wind, rain or snowstorms, I typically do not enter the woods solely to check trail cameras during the season for fear of spooking deer. These weather events can effectively conceal the scent sound, or sight that I create while accessing camera locations.

Waterholes/Mock Scrapes

Waterholes and scrapes are both excellent features that define mature buck movement. This makes them an excellent place to take inventory. By pairing a waterhole or scrape and trail camera near a treestand, you can get up to date information on what deer have been in the area every time you plan to hunt that treestand. These camera locations are also great for knowing when the rut is kicking off in your area! Because deer typically use waterholes in the afternoon, you can monitor when morning and mid day cruising buck activity increases at these locations.

Buck Bedding Areas

trail cameras are great for buck bedding areas

As bucks age, their core areas become smaller and highly defined. Trail cameras that monitor these areas can give you priceless information on which bucks are using the area and how to hunt them. Travel patterns often repeat themselves season after season. When a mature buck is killed, another buck often slides into his patterns. While these cameras must be accessed wisely, they can offer you information that is useful for years to come.

Interpreting Information Night/Day Photos

When your photos are being taken says a lot about your property and efforts. Daytime photos should be the ultimate goal. If mature bucks are moving on your property during the daylight hours, you are on the right track! However, if your trail cameras capture the majority of buck movement in the dark, you have room for improvement. Your hunting efforts can have an enormous influence on how deer move on your property.

Nighttime photos are a tell tale sign that someone or something is negatively influencing the local herd. In short, it means that deer don’t feel safe moving in the daylight. Restrict your hunting efforts and access so that you leave no trace of your presence. It can take time for deer to recover and feel safe moving during the light, but your sacrifice will positively impact deer movement and your hunting efforts.

Core and Non Core Bucks

If your camera strategies and hunting efforts are sharp, core bucks will show themselves often on your cameras. Core bucks frequently move on your property in or near daylight hours and are great targets to focus on throughout the season. Non core bucks live on neighboring parcels and are not easily patterned. You may get sporadic nighttime photos of these bucks, but they ultimately come and go as they please. These bucks are more difficult to target, but most often are harvested during the rut while bucks are cruising longer distances.

Buck/Doe Ratio

The ratio of bucks to does on your property can tell you a lot about your herds health and management efforts. Mature bucks require space; they can easily be overcrowded by doe family groups. If you consistently get an overwhelming number of does compared to bucks, it may be time to thin the local doe herd.


Trail cameras can enhance your scouting efforts immensely. By utilizing them in the most advantageous way possible they can offer insight to directly influence your potential hunting success. Whether you’re just gathering intel on what’s out there, or honing in on your next hit-lister, your trail camera efforts matter. Developing your strategies and determining how you’ll interpret the data you collect is key!

- Tracy Breen
Big Bucks on Small Parcels

As farm land gets turned into strip malls and Wal-Mart parking lots and as the large wooded lot behind our houses gets tuned into another subdivision more and more of us are being forced to hunt deer on smaller tracts of land. 20 years ago it wasn’t uncommon for most of us to have hundreds of acres we could hunt simply by knocking on a farmers door or making a phone call. Times have changed. Now many of us find ourselves hunting on 50 acres or less. If we are lucky we have an 80 or 100 acres lease. Trying to hold deer on a small piece of property and take a large buck can be a huge challenge but the truth is it’s not impossible.

Big Bucks Can Live Anywhere

Noted whitetail biologist CJ Winand spends a lot of time hunting on small tracts of land in suburbia America largely to thin out deer numbers. He says one good thing about deer is they can live anywhere.

“Deer are very good at adapting to the amount of woods they have available” Winand said. “Just because hunters are forced to hunt small woods doesn’t mean they can’t harvest a whopper. I have seen several large bucks taken off of small parcels of land that I manage. To keep deer on small parcels of land deer need food and shelter without a lot of pressure.”

A few years ago I experienced what Winand is talking about first hand. Behind a local church is a small wood lot about 15 acres in size. On occasion I would see deer milling around on the property so I decided to place a scouting camera in the wood lot to see what kind of bucks this small tract of land had to offer the suburbia hunter.

To my surprise within a week I got pictures of several bucks on the camera. A couple of them were nice bucks for my area. One buck in particular scored well over Pope and Young. What does the 15 acres have to offer the big buck. everything he needs.

“Suburbia deer often have it made because they have water, grass and no hunting pressure so they can survive on very small tracts of land for years and years” Winand said.

Change Things Up

If you have 40 acres to hunt out in the middle of farm country or in the middle of town realize you can increase the amount of time deer spend on your property if you are willing to do a little work. “For starters everyone knows that bucks respond to pressure very quickly. On small tracts of land it won't take much human pressure to make a buck change his routine” Winand said.

A recent study showed that permanent stands that have been hung in a tree and left there for years can quickly destroy a great hunting spot. “Studies have shown deer will go 60-100 yards out of their way to avoid treestands when they know they are there” Winand said. How many of us when hunting small woods have one or two stand locations and they are the same every year. Deer will quickly catch on to the game. “I suggest hunters move their stands or blinds every once in a while, all it take sometimes is moving a stand 20 or 30 yards and they are back in the zone.”

Stay Out

Also keep human activity on your property to a minimum. “Deer will quickly catch on to an increased amount of human pressure in their core area so it is best to get in and get out when planting plots, putting in scouting cameras and hanging stands,” Winand explained. “Unless you are hunting an area that sees a lot of human activity all the time staying out of the woods as much as possible is a good idea.” Winand also suggests never hunting a stand location more then twice a week. Any more then that and the deer will probably avoid the area.

Plant Fruit Trees

Making sure the deer always have something to eat on a small property will also keep them on the property more.

“The biggest problem with small wood lots is in many cases deer will travel through them but they don’t live their. To make a deer live on your property you must provide them with food and shelter, which isn’t as hard to do as many people think”.

Plant apple trees for your deer

Winand suggests that hunters plant fruit growing trees. Deer love apples but many people don’t think about planting a few on their property because many people believe they take forever to grow. Many crab apple varieties and normal table apples can be grown relatively quickly with a little bit of care. Placing cages over them and a weed mat of some kind around the trunk will keep weeds as bay so the tree gets plenty of nutrients and isn’t competing with weeds. Fertilizing them and watering them if needed also helps a tree produce fruit much faster then just planting a tree and walking away. With a little care a fruit tree will be producing enough fruit to hunt over in a few years if you plant a tree that is a few inches in diameter when the tree is planted.

Oak Trees

Another tree worth planting is an oak tree. All hunters know deer love acorns but most oak trees take years to mature to the point where they produce large amounts of acorns. That isn’t the case anymore.

“I now plant a burr oak/white oak cross that matures very quickly. They will start producing large amounts of acorns in just a few years if the tree is taken care of properly.” Winand said.

The good news about both oak trees and apple trees is they drop their fruit in the fall. This will keep deer on your property and the most important time of the year.

Don't Forget About Corn

Winand also loves planting corn. “When most hunters think of food plots they think of clover but the truth is corn is a great food plot for small parcels of land because it not only provides food it provides cover which is one thing many small pieces of land are missing” Winand said.

“Once corn grows a few feet tall deer will start bedding it. It gets them out of the sun and the wind and the soil is often cool so deer stay cool while bedding in corn. Once the corn matures the deer have another food source.”

The saying is knee high by the 4th of July but Winand doesn’t like that saying when it comes to corn being planted as a food plot. “Research has shown that deer actually like corn the best during the tasling stage so I plant corn in the summer so it tastles about October 1st which is of course a great time to hunt near the edge of the corn.” According to Winand a large amount of water is found in corn and on the stalks of corn which also provides deer with another important part of their diet - water.

Bedding Areas

Creating good bedding areas will always help keep deer on a piece of property. “Studies have shown that deer living in big woods may have a core area of where they spend 50% of their time or more of several hundred acres. On small pieces of property a deer may only have a core area of 50 acres or less”

“Creating bedding areas really helps keep deer on a small parcel.” There are lots of ways to create bedding areas. Some people plant switch grass or plant thick bushes. Winand like planting pine trees or cutting large trees down.

“White pines grow fast and within a few years several rows of white pines will be a great spot for deer to bed. White pines are cheap and work great for bedding.”

Winand also believes one of the best bedding areas is created by cutting down trees.

“Deer love bedding in the middle of a nasty, thick bunch of down trees, creating them just requires a chain saw. Thick brush will soon grow where trees once stood and deer will start bedding in the middle of it.”

To keep bucks on small property Winand says shoot does and lots of them.

“Does will push a button buck out of their home range once they reach maturity. That means the buck will be forced to leave and the doe will still be their. By harvesting does there will likely be more bucks in the area and less pressure on the food sources as well”.

The more pressure their is on food sources the smaller the bucks will be because their simply wont be enough food to go around.

“Some studies indicate that a deer will consume about 5 pounds of forage a day. That is over 1800 pounds a year. That is just one deer! Reducing the doe population will keep more bucks in the area and help the remaining herd be healthier.”

Every small piece of land is different. Some ground has lots of food but no bedding areas, some places have bedding areas but no food. Before starting an aggressive management plan Winand suggests taking a good look at what your property has to offer and what it is lacking.

“When considering what to do on a small tract of land hunters must not only look at their own piece of property but also look at the property around them. If their isn’t any water for miles and miles digging a pond will help keep deer on a piece of land. If their is lots of food but no cover in an area build bedding areas. If a hunter or group of hunters creates for deer what they are lacking be it food or shelter their is going to be more deer on their property.” 

Small parcels of land can be hard to manage. Lets face it your not going to keep a 200 inch deer on your property from daylight til dark if you only own 50 acres. However, if you give him shelter he may stay their during daylight hours, if you give him food he will stay their even more especially if the does are feeding on that food in the rut. Winand and most land managers I talk to all agree on one thing. Every piece of property can be approved upon.

Creating bedding areas you stay out of, and only hunting a piece of property a few days of week is probably the easiest thing that can be done to make a piece of property attractive to deer. Planting trees, food plots and tightly managing the doe population can take a lot of effort, time and money, BUT The more you do to make your parcel attractive the better chance you have of seeing large bucks on your land.

In the last 5 years more and more monster bucks have been taken on small tracts of land then ever before proving that just because you don't have 1,000 acres doesn’t mean who won’t be gripping and grinning with a monster this fall.

- Jon Livingston
3 Reasons for Planting Late Summer Food Plots

As the widespread popularity of planting spring and early summer food plots skyrockets, the value of waiting for late summer plantings have never been higher. While letting a food plot sit dormant until late July or Early August may seem like a waste of an opportunity, it actually offers several strategic advantages for your potential level of planting resources and hunting success. While neighboring parcels may be feeding the local herd in May, June, and July, being patient and waiting for the right opportunity to attract them back to your parcel when it matters most, can pay huge rewards.

The most important time to influence, attract, and hold the local herd is during the hunting season, when you can capitalize on the attention of the local herd. A late Summer food plot planting can help you realize your goals of quality hunting and herd building opportunities.

Food plot preparation

Why is Late summer SUPERIOR?

Besides giving you ample time to prepare your soil, control weeds, restore planting equipment and determine the best seed blend to offer this fall, there are several more significant reasons to wait to sow your food plot seeds into the late summer soil.

1) Limiting Doe Family Groups and Grazing Pressure

Providing a feast for does and fawns in the early summer can establish an overabundance of grazing pressure on your food plots throughout the hunting season. Doe family groups do not typically disperse like bucks during the end of summer, because they typically stay put as long as there is ample food and cover. Does and fawns can consume precious space that could potentially be available for bucks during the fall.

Throwing food plot seeds

If your desire is to build herd numbers, planting Summer food plots that are available during May, June and July is a great practice! However, if your food plots do not typically last throughout the entire fall, make sure to limit the amount of available Summer food sources so that doe family groups do not swarm and destroy your food plots before the hunting season even begins. By limiting Summer food source amounts, late Summer plantings will be much more likely to be successfully established without an army of does and fawns swarming your offerings too soon.

2) Hunting Season Food Plots

Late summer plantings have plenty of time to grow and produce large volumes of food that will often peak later into the season, than early plantings. Late Summer plantings can also influence when deer numbers will peak on your parcel. Creating balanced deer populations that peak in October and November awards you the opportunity to harvest does when needed, but also creates the opportunity to potentially target a high percentage of the local buck population, as long as the food sources remain un-pressured.

3) Late Summer Perennials

Since 1995, my preferred time to most effectively plant clover and chicory, is within the late summer plantings. Cool season annuals such as rye, oats and peas offer the perfect nurse crop for establishing young perennials.


Of course, longer term species like corn or soybeans need to planted in the Spring in order to reach maturity. However, the lush and highly attractive annual greens like peas, late planted beans, oats, brassicas, wheat and rye, or the establishment of perennials like clover and chicory, should be planted later in the summer. Try planting during the late Summer if your goal is to build a quality deer herd that is peaking during the heart of the season, instead of consuming your resources and potential for success, a few months too soon.

- Jon Livingston
The Blue Collar Food Plot

Food plots have been all the rage with deer hunters for over a decade. If you turn on TV and watch a hunting show, you will probably see someone hunting whitetails over a food plot. Most of the food plots that show up on TV are far from your average food plot. Most TV food plots are as green as a Leprechaun’s thumb, the size of a Major League Baseball field (or larger), and are as groomed as a golf course.

Although this type of food plot looks great and attracts deer, large food plots are expensive, require lots of equipment and knowledge to maintain, and aren’t always practical for the average hunter.  

Almost every hunter I know from the guy with five acres to the guy with 550 acres wants to plant a food plot, but after seeing the gorgeous food plots on TV, many of them give up realizing they can’t build such a plot. If you are a hunter who wants to build a food plot but don’t have the time or resources to build a monster plot, realize there is hope for you!

The Small Food Plot Advantage

Small food plot has it's advantages

According to Steve Scott, of the Whitetail Institute there are several advantages to building a smaller plot.

“For the hunter who has a small budget and doesn’t have much land, building a small plot is a great option. It doesn’t take much time or money to build, doesn’t require much equipment, and let’s face it: killing a buck in a small food plot is often easier than killing one in a large plot. In a small food plot, hunters can often shoot across the entire food plot with a bow or gun. With a large food plot, hunters need to have a gun in their hand if a buck steps out into the middle of it,” Scott said. 

Small food plots are the perfect killing plot for bowhunters and gun hunters. One of the biggest advantages of a small food plot, according to Jeff Best from Best Outdoors in Michigan, is cost. Best makes his living selling food plot equipment like seeders and cultipackers.

“Large food plots are very expensive to put in, often require large amounts of lime, fertilizer and seed. All three of those things can be very expensive. One bag of food plot seed will take care of a small plot. A smaller plot doesn’t require as much fertilizer and lime as a large one,” Best explained. Do the Job Right the First Time

If planting a small plot sounds like a good idea and you are going to plant a small plot mainly because you don’t own a large chunk of land or have much money to spend, you must get the job done right the first time. The last thing you want to do is make a mistake during the planting process and spend lots of money on seed and have to plant again. The first thing you must do is have a pH test done.

“Many people make their first mistake by not having an initial pH test done. The pH of the soil is very important. If the soil is acidic it will need lots of lime so the fertilizer can do its job. Many hunters throw down some seed without checking the pH and the plot doesn’t really grow as a result,” Scott noted.

Many companies, including Whitetail Institute, sell pH test kits. For a small fee, they send you a test kit. You fill a small bag with dirt and send it back for testing. After the soil is tested, the company will send you a letter or email informing you what type of seed will grow best in your soil and tell you how much lime you will need to put down to bring your pH level up to where it needs to be.

After your soil is tested, you need to clear all weeds from the area to be planted.

“When planting a small food plot, the easiest way to eliminate weeds is to mix up a small batch of roundup and spray. A small sprayer doesn’t cost much money and spraying can do wonders,” Scott suggested. Get Your Hands Dirty

When the weeds are gone, it is time to break up the soil.

“There are a variety of seed blends on the market designed for the person who has a small budget and no farm equipment. These blends are designed to grow almost anywhere. There is one hitch though: in order for the seed to grow, there must be good seed to soil contact. For that to happen, the soil must be busted up. “With a small food plot, a few friends and few rakes can work well breaking up the soil. If that is all a person has, it will work,” Best said.

Another option is using an ATV or small lawn tractor with a tiller or disc. “Even dragging an old wooden pallet behind a garden tractor will work, especially if some large nails are hammered into the bottom of the pallet that can tear up the soil,” Scott suggested. However, you do have to make sure soil is exposed and then it is time to seed. A seeder is relatively inexpensive for most seed types.

Maintaining a food plot for deer

After the seeding is complete, Best suggests using a cultipacker to make sure the seed is in contact with the soil, not just sitting on top of the soil.

“We sell lightweight cultipackers that can be filled with sand or water that are extremely durable and reasonably priced. A cultipacker can make the difference between a plot taking off or turning out so-so,” Best noted. What to Plant

The biggest problem when planting a small food plot is deer will often love the food plot to death after the plot starts to grow. There are a couple ways to reduce this problem to ensure that the food plot is lush and green when deer season arrives.

“If there is a high density of deer in the area the plot is planted in, planting a seed blend that has several different attractants in it is critical. Most hunters plant annuals in these small plots and most companies, including ours, have blends that contain brassicas and other plants that mature at different times throughout the fall. As a result, there is always something coming up fresh so the deer have something to eat,” Scott explained. Keep the Deer Out

Another option is protecting the plot by using a deterrent to keep deer out of the plot while it is growing. Plot Saver and Plot Protect are two great examples. Plot Protect is a clay-based product that you shake around the perimeter of the plot. The clay granules are impregnated with coyote or bobcat urine. The smell of the urine keeps the deer at bay while the plot grows.

Putting a small electric fence around the plot is another option. Non-Typical Wildlife Solutions makes the HotZone deer Exclosure System which is an inexpensive portable electric fence that can be plugged into an outlet or run off solar energy. Regardless of which option is chosen, in most cases, a small plot will need to be protected from the deer while growing or it will never reach maturity before the deer devour it.

Let There By Light

When planting a small plot, realize that in order for it to grow, it needs adequate sunlight.

“You don’t want a food plot to get fried by the sun but you don’t want it in the shade either. It is best if the food plot receives at least a few hours of direct sun daily. Hunters should cut trees and make sure a plot receives plenty of sun,” Scott said. Timing Is Everything

If you ask ten different experts, ‘when is the best time to plant a food plot,’ you will likely get several answers. If you are planting an annual food plot that is being planted to hunt over in the fall, Scott suggests planting in the late summer or early fall.

“Most of the annuals designed for killing plots should be planted in the late summer or early fall. This gives the plot plenty of time to grow and mature before the fall hunting season arrives,” Scott advised.

A benefit to planting in early fall is you often don’t have to worry about drought conditions as much.

“Many food plots are killed off in the summer when the days are hot and rainy days are rare. In the fall, days are cooler and rain is often more frequent in most of the country so the food plot has a better chance of taking off. This provides more reason for hunters on a budget to skip planting in the spring and summer and plant in the fall,” Scott added.

If you are on a budget and don’t have the time or money to plant several plots and are planting one killing plot, it better be planned out perfectly.

“When putting in a small killing plot, the soil needs to be perfect, the plot needs to grow, and the treestands and blinds need to be properly located. When designing a small plot, hunters should consider the prominent wind direction for the area, where the deer will likely enter the plot from and where the ideal stand location would be long before they ever plant. By dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s and making sure the plot is laid out correctly, hunters can drastically increase their chances of bagging a buck on a small plot,” Scott stated.

For those of us with a few acres and shallow pockets, a small killing plot can be a dream come true. A little elbow grease, a rake, and a small bag of seed can produce one of your greatest hunting spots.

Small food plot

Get Off the Beaten Path

Many of us have stand locations that are off the beaten path where it is nearly impossible to get an ATV, tractor or truck into. If you want to plant a plot in a location like this, realize that most food plot companies have seed blends specifically designed for such a place.

“We offer Bow Stand and Secret Spot for the Hunter who wants to plant a food plot off the beaten path. These blends will work well, even in places that aren’t off the beaten path,” Scott said.

Many of the blends designed for deep in the woods contain a pH booster that helps the seed grow in soils that are a little AcidicThese blends are often shade tolerant, in case the area doesn’t receive much sun. They also contain a variety of annuals so something is always growing. The biggest advantage is a small, secluded plot can be grown inexpensively. A bag of seed, a rake and some effort are the only requirements.

“If a person wants the plot to take off, I suggest throwing down some lime and fertilizer but that isn’t necessary. Making sure the soil is exposed is often enough for these type of seed blends,” Scott added.
- Jon Livingston
Beating A Buck’s Senses From The Ground

Rewind the clock ten or fifteen years ago and if you watched hunting TV shows or read big buck magazines, it seemed the only way to fill a deer-tag was to hunt high in the air from a treestand. But with the popularization of quality ground-blinds in recent years, such as the Redneck Blinds hay bale models, its becoming increasingly clear that you don’t need to be 20 feet up a tree to kill a big mature deer.

That said, hunting from the ground does present a unique set of circumstances and challenges that must be understood by a new ground hunter before success can consistently be had. Here, broken down by each type of sense that deer employ, are the ground-blind challenges to most keep in mind and how exactly to neutralize them.


Hunting from a ground blind presents an interesting set of benefits and challenges when it comes to a deer’s sense of sight. A ground blind, without a doubt, offers superior concealment when compared to a traditional tree stand, offering a plethora of advantages. But at the same time, being down at deer eye-level means that the ground blind hunter must be more attuned to controlling his/her movements. A quick turn of the head or a flash of a rifle scope are much more easily picked up by a deer at the same level as you, so always be aware of what parts of your body or equipment might be seen through the windows of your blind.

Whenever you have to move something within those areas of visibility, be careful to move at a very slow speed, and try to time those movements to whenever nearby deer are looking away or with their heads down feeding. Another way to reduce the chances of being spotted in your ground blind are to keep as many windows as possible closed, reducing the chance of being silhouetted, and to wear darker or completely black clothes to blend into the interior of your blind.


Reducing noise around bucks

A good ground blind, especially when most of the windows are closed, can help contain some hunter-created sounds – but not all of them. That said, noise control is important to consider when ground hunting. First off, make sure you have a seat that’s not going to squeak or creak every time you shift your position. Redneck Blinds’ Portable Hunting Chair is a perfect example of what you want in a ground blind seat, as it’s comfortable, silent and also offers a smooth swiveling seat that allows you to change your position without effort or noise.

You’ll also want to be especially careful when it comes the sounds produced by your weapon just before firing, such as drawing back your bow or clicking back the hammer on your muzzleloader. Try to time these potential sound-producing movements with the movement of any nearby deer or when their ears are pointed in an opposite direction. Finally, be sure to pay particular attention to any gear you might be moving around inside the blind and it’s proximity to metal pieces or parts. If your gun or bow or tripod or binoculars clink up against another metal piece, it’s sure to alert any critters in the vicinity.


Scent is key to getting close

As with all the other examples listed above, ground blinds can actually help you contain and minimize the impact of your human odor – but only when used properly. Most importantly, you must remember that no ground blind is 100% scent-proof, so always practice comprehensive scent control. This means washing yourself and your gear with a scent free soap, keeping all of those items outside or sealed in scent-free containers and then to putting your hunting clothes on again until you’re outside and ready to head to your blind.

When you arrive at your blind, spray down again with some kind of scent eliminating spray, and consider trying a cover scent or olfactory jamming spray. Finally, if you use an ozone machine, like an Ozonics, close as many windows as possible, and position your machine over top of one window on the downwind side of the blind. By having this window open downwind, your scent stream will be funneled out this one opening, which will then be completely covered and neutralized by the ozone machine above.

- Jon Livingston
Should You Hire a Blood Tracking Dog to Find Your Deer

If you have been a deer hunter long, you have probably lost a deer or two because of a bad shot. Unfortunately, it is part of hunting. Sometimes we make a bad hit because a buck jumps a string. Sometimes buck fever sets in or an arrow hits a twig. Whatever the reason, sooner or later it happens and when it does, you are forced to make a decision.

Should you back out or should you go look for the buck? Answering this question can be extremely difficult. Instead of quickly answering the question, more hunters are calling in a blood tracking dog to find the deer.

John Engelken from knows more than most about blood tracking. Engelken is considered by most the best blood tracker in the country. The Drury’s, Lee & Tiffany Lakoski, Chris Brackett and many other famous and not-so-famous people have called on Engelken when they cannot find a buck they shot.

According to Engelken, there is no cut and dry answer to the above question, but he has some tips. “When a hunter realized his hit wasn’t a good one, they should back out and analyze the situation. One mistake many hunters make when they shoot a buck and don’t find it right away is calling all of their buddies and hiking around, looking for blood and any sign of the buck. All this pressure could jump the buck if he is still alive and the more people there are in the woods, the harder it will be to track the buck with a dog later on,” Engelken explained.

Calling on a Highly Trained Dog

Group of blood tracking dogs

Tracker John's tracker shack at Illinois Connection

According to Engelken, the first call every hunter should make after shooting a deer and not finding it is to a qualified bloodtracker who has a highly trained dog. “Blood tracking dogs are becoming extremely popular so more hunters know someone with a tracking dog. The problem is like with any hunting that involves a dog, not all dogs are trained well enough to track hard to find deer.

When I say the first call should be to a tracker, the call needs to be to someone with a highly trained dog. The call should be made before several guys have wandered all over the woods looking for the deer. When many hunters go looking for deer, they often spread the scent from the wounded animal all over the woods, which makes the recovery more difficult for the handler and the dog,” Engelken added.

The Waiting Game

Blood tracking dog

 A bloodhound is considered one of the best blood tracking breeds in the world.

When Engelken receives a call, the first thing he determines is how long he should wait before going to look for the animal.

“The biggest mistake many hunters make is rushing in to look for a deer. In most cases, I like to wait at least twelve hours before going in to look for a deer. Weather is always a factor. Sometimes I make the decision to put my dogs on a trail earlier, but for the most part, waiting at least twelve hours is best whether it is a gun shot, a one-lung hit or a shoulder hit. Rarely does a person lose a deer because they waited too long. Many people lose a deer when they jump it from a bed and it takes off, never to be seen again. If a big storm is coming, if the weather is very warm or some other factor that makes me think we better look early I will, but I use bloodhounds. They have a great nose so I don’t mind waiting a little longer before starting a trail.”

Patience… Patience… Patience

Doug Benefield from Illinois Connection

Doug Benefield from Illinois Connection is all smiles after Jesse the bloodhound saves the day.

Engelken often waits twelve or more hours before going to look for a deer because he wants the deer to die as close to where it was shot as possible. If a buck leaves the property it was shot on, there can be problems. I work in areas where the ground is intensely managed for monster bucks. If a buck leaves the property it was shot on, it could go onto another piece of property that I won’t be able to get permission to track on so it is always best to play the waiting game. Most land owners don’t want other hunters or a tracking dog on the property,” Engelken stated.

If you find yourself wondering if you have waited long enough after making a questionable hit on a deer this fall and you are not sure if you should stay where you are or go in after the deer, you should probably wait longer. “A good tracking dog can find a buck even if the trail is cold. Even if there is no visible blood, a hunter is best to wait and let the dog do its job,” Engelken advised.

In case you are wondering how cold of a trail a dog can work, I found out about John Engelken and his amazing bloodhounds when a friend of mine used him to find a buck that was shot over a week before Engelken was called. The hunter hired several dog trackers and they couldn’t find the buck, even though the hunter knew the deer was dead.

Engelken’s dog found the deer in less than 30 minutes. There is no question Engelken and his dogs know how to find deer. “I have been using John’s tracking services for years. He has found countless deer for my clients over the years and even though he sometimes waits a long time before he starts looking for a buck, more often than not if the deer is dead and on property we can track on, he finds the deer,” Doug Benefield from Illinois Connection in Pike County, Illinois said.

This fall if you find yourself in a bad situation, call a blood tracker and wait at least twelve hours. If the deer is dead and you are patient, the odds are you will be calling a taxidermist and punching your tag.

- Jon Livingston
3 Box Blind Scent Control Considerations

Of the many advantages of hunting from an elevated box blind, scent control is one of the least discussed – but possibly most important. Being able to keep much of your scent contained while hunting is a HUGE perk when it comes to chasing mature bucks, but it’s important to note a key word in this sentence. Much.

Just like with all scent control tactic and products, a box blind will not completely eliminate your scent. With that being the case, it’s important to keep scent control in mind even while hunting from the comfort and containment of a Redneck Blind. Here are 3 scent control considerations that you’ll want to keep in mind this next hunting season.

Keep box blind windows closed

Being fully enclosed, box blinds can typically contain a large amount of your human scent – but only when the windows are closed. That said, consider keeping the windows on your blind closed while hunting, and only open the necessary sides just before a shot. Practice getting the windows open slowly and quietly to ensure that in the moment of truth you can get them open and into position in time.

Practice normal scent control

While a box blind can contain most of your scent, there’s still always a chance that some human odor will drift downwind. To mitigate this risk, practice your normal scent control regiment just as if you were hunting from a tree stand. Wash your clothes in scent free detergent, keep your clothes in a scent-tight container, and spray down with a scent eliminating spray before heading in to hunt.

Scent eliminators/covers still work

Controlling your scent using products

In addition to a basic scent elimination practices, you might also want to consider additional measures such as an Ozonics machine or cover scents – which can all be used in tandem with a box blind. Redneck Blinds actually manufactures a special mount that works perfect for attaching an Ozonics machine to the outside of your blind. If you’re using a cover scent like Nose Jammer, spray this on the downwind side of the blind, along the outer wall.

- Jon Livingston
Rethinking How to Create a Kill Plot

I was beyond frustrated with myself. I’d just invested a full week’s worth of effort into clearing an in-woods kill plot with a chainsaw and gallons of sweat. I’d raked the debris, top seeded the ground and the plants were already emerging. Now, having packed the stand in with me, I walked in circles, staring at trees, fruitlessly trying to will one of them to work.

This is a problem far too many have. We all realize that having low impact stands to hunt is a key to success and keeping a property fresh. Still, far too often it’s an afterthought to our efforts to improve a property’s hunting quality.

Frankly, we reverse the steps for plot creation. The end result is often disappointment and almost never produces the best results. Here’s how to change that.

Rethinking the Kill Plot Process

The first step in creating the best possible kill plots is to throw out how most of us think about the process. Typically, the first step is determining what areas would be easiest for establishing the plot. That makes some sense, in that few realize how comparatively cheaply one can rent a dozer or how much they can get done in one day.

To this day, I’ve never paid more than $100 an hour for a dozer and operator, and I can always get it for less than $70 an hour, if I’m willing to do the operating. For less than the cost of a new bow, one can almost always get at least three new kill plots cleared, as well as a few small water holes and improved access, and that’s being conservative for most properties.

For about the price of a new bow, one can get a dozer to transform the hunting on a property for a lifetime of enjoyment.

For those that can’t justify the dozer charge or simply want to do it themselves, a chainsaw can be a thing of beauty. Somehow, we’ve been trained to believe that food plot quality must rival cash cropping. It doesn’t. Most weeds are cheap deer food and seeding around stumps is far from the end of the world. In fact, if the trees are cut at around chest level, those stumps help offer a smidgen of deer cover, as well as serving as posts to hang lick branches from. So long as we have some candy crops growing, that’s good enough for the deer.

Creating licking branches for your deer

Leaving stumps in the kill plot not only helps deer feel safer in the kill plot from the cover they provide, but also allows us to hang licking branches that help transform our kill plots into social hubs.

Next, we must consider entrance, exit and stand placement. There’s a tremendous advantage to being able to slip in and out, as well as hunt undetected. Unfortunately, high odds stands very rarely naturally offer low impact.

Before ever considering putting in a new food plot, extremely important questions must be answered. Some as basic as where the deer will be during travels to and from, as well as while on the stand. One obviously needs to go unseen or heard while doing those things. What many fail to consider is that they also should do their darnedest not to get winded during those three phases of the hunt. One just can’t do that if they don’t know where the deer will be during those times.

One must also factor in how this new plot will impact deer activity. Since we’re talking kill plots here, a very effective strategy is placing the kill plot around 50 yards off the main food source, located on one of their existing lines of movement between bedding and that food source. That right there is going to help a lot, as the deer will likely be staging in the kill plot, moving on to the primary food source in the evening or bedding in the morning. By the deer not camping out on the kill plot, one can often wait for the deer to leave before climbing out of stand.

However, one must also be able to get to and from the location, without being seen, heard or winded. That makes low impact access and departure routes important. One also must have a wind the plot can be hunted from safely.

There’s only one way I’m aware of to consistently pull all of this off. That’s to determine safe access, departure and stand placement, before one ever begins clearing or breaking dirt. After learning how the deer use your ground and anticipating how the change will impact deer movements, the next step is figuring out how to hunt is safely. Simply put, if one can’t access, depart and hunt the stand without getting busted, the area isn’t right for a kill plot. Keep looking until one is found or, worse case, select the least potentially damaging sites that still will provide a high odds kill plot.

Creating kill plots for your big bucks

An important factor in killing ancient bucks like this in kill plots is for them to never sense danger on the plot. Determining access, departure and safe stand locations before trees are cleaned or the ground is broken is the key to pulling that off.

With that done, build the kill plot around the stand location, not the more common reverse of that. When clearing the plot, one can use the removed trees and brush to create blockades. Use that to your advantage by blocking the areas you don’t want deer to enter or exit, while leaving ample, easy to travel areas where it is both safe and within shooting distance of the stands.

The Redneck Advantage

This is where Rednecks offer a huge advantage. Unlike various tree stands, Rednecks can be placed darn near anywhere, in that they don’t require a suitable stand tree. Certainly, they are benefitted from being able to blend the blind into cover, but even that isn’t a must have. In just the past season, we’ve taken both a 5.5 and a 6.5 year old buck, as well as my daughter’s first doe out of Redneck hunting blinds that are sitting in wide open fields.

To pull this off, two things must be done. They can only be hunted on safe winds and the deer can’t see the hunter entering or existing the Redneck. So long as the hunters are careful and don’t give deer reasons to associate danger with the blind, a Redneck can be effectively placed in the open.

Scouting from a Redneck Blind

Not only do Rednecks hunting blinds eliminate the need for an acceptable tree being where we need it, their complete enclosure allows us to safely hunt them in a much wider area, while also helping to contain scent.

One still needs to determine where the hunting blind will be set before clearing or ground breaking begins. However, Redneck users have far more flexibility in the precise placement of the blind than tree stands offer. As an added bonus, keeping the backside windows closed further reduces the odds of a rogue wind swirl educating deer.


To truly get the best hunting opportunities a property has to give, the trick is not allowing the deer to know we’re hunting them on that ground. When we successfully pull that off, our hunting grounds have the strong tendency to keep getting better and better with each passing day of season, as the neighboring hunting pressure pushes deer to what they see as their sanctuary on our grounds.

One can still hunt a property hard, while realizing that advantage. To do so, simply use your habitat improvements to create high odds, low impact stand sites. Determine how to get to and from, as well as hunt a location safely and you’ve got the game licked. Luckily, Rednecks make that even easier for us.

- Jon Livingston
Fixing Food Plot Failures

If you've turned a hand-crank on a broadcaster, driven a tractor or prayed for rain, you've probably experienced food plot failure like the rest of us. It happens. In fact, as the number of acres of new food plot forages and latest and greatest food plot blends continues to grow, so will the number of acres of food plot fails. Are your plots down to the dirt, plagued by weeds or doomed by drought? Don't worry; you and the local deer herd still have time to enjoy fields of food plot green. Here are three ways to make it happen!

Weeds Killed and Forage Growing

While working with small parcel hunters, readers, and viewers across the northern half of the country, nothing bothers me more when it comes to food plotting than weedy fields. Whatever the percentage of food plot acres that you have where weeds have taken over is the percentage of acres you lose for building a quality herd and hunt. When parcel sizes and food plot acres are small, you can't afford to lose your food plot efficiency to the grasses and broadleafs that often invade your food plot. This is when it is time to get tough!

Missed opportunities are found when weeds are allowed to flourish.

My favorite food plot salvage when weed populations are high accomplishes two things: dead weeds and green food plots. As long as sufficient soil is exposed for seed-to-soil contact, you can spread Winter Rye at varying rates to save your food plot.

For late summer salvage seeding rates, I focus on 100-150 pounds per acre of seed 4-6 weeks before your typical first frost, 150-200 pounds per acre of seed 2-4 weeks prior and up to 300 pounds of seed up to two weeks before your first frost. Your goal is to carpet the soil with a lush green foliage and Winter Rye is the most cold hardy, soil and ph tolerant forage that you can plant. However, broadcasting Winter Rye is only the first step!

After your Winter Rye seed has been broadcasted, it is time to spray the weed growth with two quarts per acre of Glyphosate. Glyphosate is a post-emergent herbicide and will not harm the seed lying on the ground within the weeds. There is no need to disc, till or drag, just simply broadcast the rye, spray and enjoy the season.

It is key to remember that food plotting is not farming. What that means is that since you are not producing seed head production the following summer, much greater varying seeding rate of rye can be appropriate, as determined by your local first-frost date.

Brassica Crop Failure Broadcasting

seed broadcasting failure

Winter Rye food plot salvages can take place right until your expected first frost and even a little later. During the early 2000’s, a Winter Rye broadcasting of mine was germinated by the five inches of melting snow following an October 1st storm. Winter rye is the most cold hearty forage variety and can germinate in soil temperatures in the high 30’s. However, even though brassica forages need to be planted up to ten weeks before the first frost, there are options that you can practice much earlier if you keep a more watchful eye on your food plot.

Has drought or weeds ravaged your brassica plot within 2-3 weeks of your planting? Then plant again. The most appropriate planting timing for a brassica crop is roughly ten weeks before your expected first frost. With a ten week window, you still have time for an adequate food plot salvage.

Most potential weed or drought problems take place during the first two weeks of a brassica planting. A lack or rain destroys seed and a lack of attention to adequate weed control measures before your planting allows weeds to outcompete young growth. If you attack it early, a brassica food plot save is fairly easy! If your resources allow you to do so, simply repeat the planting process if weeds are flourishing and no growth (including weeds) has taken place in the first two weeks. Simply broadcast, spray and enjoy your plot if you are still 7-8 weeks away from your expected first frost. You can even resort to Winter Rye salvage efforts if the first frost date is looming more closely on the calendar.

If you can help it, don't miss out on the earlier opportunities to replant your intended brassica crop.

Over-browsed Food Plot Makeovers

Food plot broadcaster

The ways for a food plot to fail are many. Whitetails may be as much to blame as weeds and drought. One of the first ways to cure a potential plot from overbrowsing is by planting the right forage for the conditions. For example, crops like corn and soybeans need to be planted in amounts of five acres or more if they are to withstand even moderate browsing opportunities. Plantings that lack the support of surrounding agricultural plantings or other high quality destination food sources will attract a much greater percentage of a whitetails’ overall daily diet.

If you expect your plot to last more than a few weeks into the hunting season, choosing the right forage based on your local habitat conditions is the first step. However, when all else fails, it is time to rely on seed varieties that are easy to germinate and grow following a simple hand broadcasting.

During the summer of 1995, I planted my first food plot. In 2005, I began teaching clients about surefire food plot tactics. By 2014, I published my first book about advanced food plot strategies. After working directly with nearly 600 clients in twenty-one states to implement highly successful food plot strategies on the lands they hunt, there is one food plot "sin" that I can't stand: empty exposed fall soil.

There is no need to take a forage-less food plot into the hunting season and an overbrowsed food plot is no exception. Broadcasting brassica, Winter Rye or both into your field of stubble can be a surefire way to experience beautiful fields of green during the hunting season. Do you have raccoon-infested corn or whitetail ravaged beans? Use the window of opportunity during late July through early September to broadcast a solid offering of food plot salvage varieties to strengthen your food plots. You may find that the new young growth within your initial plot takes some pressure off of the overbrowsed species. If you are still seven to eight weeks away from your expected first frost date, you can utilize a quality brassica blend. If frost is just around the corner, Winter rye can be a solid answer for you.

Salvaging a Food Plot

Food plot success

Try turning food plot junk into beauty by blending the old forage failure with surefire salvage methods.

Throughout the last 20+ years of developing food plot strategies for my career and my personal whitetail hunting activities, one of my greatest teachers has been failure. If you haven't experienced over-browsed, drought stricken or weed infested fields yet, sometimes all at once, your day is likely coming. However, when that day comes, don't feel the need to give up!

Successful food plotting isn't about choosing the latest and greatest seed blend and getting it to grow because often you may be setting yourself up for failure before you even open the bag. Instead, you will find success when you choose surefire, adequate seed blends that can work for you when you and the local herd need them most. When all else fails, and it eventually will, consider the appropriate use of Winter rye or brassica broadcastings, herbicide treatments and overseeding makeovers to ensure that any fall plot failures have the potential to find green success.

- Jon Livingston
Early Season Bowhunting for Giant Bucks

Even though we can see the date coming months in advance, it seems to happen in a blink of an eye! Steamy, hot summer days transform into sweatshirt wearing fall mornings and before you know it, it arrives: early season bowhunting begins! However, should it begin for you?

Even though many are decades old, the annual anticipation of another bow season is ripe with some of my fondest memories. The scar I received on my finger in 1987 from over tightening my broadheads the night before Michigan's bow season opener is still fresh in my mind (although faded on my finger). The pull towards climbing into my favorite archery ambush on opening day has been strengthened throughout the years, but an extreme level of patience has grown along the way.

Often I find myself waiting for early season bowhunting opportunities that are based on quality instead of a specific day on the calendar. There are 3 important factors to consider before heading into the woods for the first time this archery season.

Warm Weather Openers

Soaked with sweat and constantly buzzed by mosquitos is not a fun way to begin the early archery season, but often a bowhunter doesn't have a choice. However, what you have a choice about is hunting during the hottest days of the year.

My bow season opening day rarely begins on a particular day of the calendar because I choose to hunt only after a cold front has passed by. In southwest Wisconsin, that cold front drop may only be from a high of 81 to a daytime high of 72. Even a moderate drop of 8-10 degrees will cause whitetail activity levels to increase. With moderate cold fronts taking place often every 7-10 days throughout the fall, my opening day begins within 3-5 days of the actual opener almost every year. In 2015, I was able to take advantage of outstanding opening day cold front conditions to pass on a beautiful 4-year-old I was hoping to get a better look at. The weather and timing were perfect. I wasn’t disappointed and experienced my best bowhunting opener ever.

Is He There Yet?

Countless publications reveal the first time into a stand is always the best time to shoot a mature buck. My harvest records reveal the same! In fact, almost 70% of my oldest 25 bucks have been shot the first time into a particular location for the year.

It is critical that if you expect to shoot a specific buck, he is already there. Mature bucks often shift into their preferred fall habitat at some point after the beginning of most bow season openers and that shift can be a mile or more. I recommend that if you are going to use your favorite big buck blind location, you make sure that the first time that you do so is set up for success. Lingering scent and deer that you spook during the entrance or exit of your blind can spoil a future high quality sit at least 2 weeks or more before it happens.

By using trail cams, observation tree stands or buck sign, you can make an educated decision that the particular buck you are after is there to go after in the first place. When you factor in the addition of some quality weather during a hunt for a buck that you know is already there, you can create an extremely high level of precision for an early season bowhunting sit. However, mature bucks on the trail cams and great weather aren't the only considerations!

Neighboring Early Season Bowhunting Activities

Looking for early season bucks

Do you keep tabs on your hunting neighbors? I do! Often hunting neighbors are there for a weekend and gone for another week or two, especially during early season archery opportunities. Could your neighbor's efforts potentially hinder a particular mature buck movement that you would like to take advantage of? Maybe you should skip the opener.

Have you ever considered that high levels of hunting pressure on your neighbor's land could help you greatly, especially when it comes to neighboring weekend warriors? One of my favorite times to hunt are the Monday and Tuesday following a heavy weekend of neighboring hunting pressure. Mature bucks greatly avoid hunting pressure and when your hunting grounds are allowed to sit idle during high pressure days, you can experience great rewards. The risk of not beating someone to an opening day buck can be outweighed by the rewards of patiently waiting to hunt your land during quieter conditions. Some of the best pictures I have collected of bucks from other areas have been taken on Mondays and Tuesdays. Often it pays to time your early season bowhunting opener with your neighbor's level of hunting opening day pressure.

I still get pumped each season when the bowhunting opener rolls around. However, as the years tick by, I have learned to determine my personal opening day by keeping my eyes on the weather, my neighbor's success, and my trail cam pictures. You only get one chance to hunt a bow season opener each year, so I recommend that you do your best to make it count!

Jeff Sturgis of Whitetail Habitat Solutions is a whitetail habitat consultant and author of several whitetail strategy books. 

- Jon Livingston

More gun hunters are turning into crossbow hunters. Hunting with a crossbow is much different from hunting with a rifle. They both have a trigger and use a scope, but that is where the similarities end. A crossbow doesn’t shoot bullets; it shoots arrows. A crossbow can’t kill a deer at 200 yards; a rifle can. Although technology advancements have resulted in crossbows that are faster than before, at the end of the day a crossbow is still a crossbow.

For those of you making the switch from a gun to a crossbow, there are a few things you should consider before heading to the woods this fall with a crossbow.

A Crossbow's Effective Kill Range

First, the effective kill range of most crossbows is forty or fifty yards. In capable hands, a crossbow can split a hair at 80 yards and beyond, but in a hunting situation it is best to shoot forty yards and in.

When hanging a treestand, it is best to have shooting lanes that are close and set up to create a shot opportunity that is within a reasonable distance. Doug Benefield from Illinois Connection Outfitters in Pike County, Illinois says one mistake he sees some hunters make when they are hunting with him is they treat a crossbow like a gun. “When I set a guy up for crossbow hunting, I tell him not to take shots beyond 40 yards. A deer can still jump the string of a crossbow. Many hunters think they can take extra far shots and be okay. That is not really the case. A crossbow is extremely lethal at short distances. Once you get beyond 40 yards or so, things can change in a hurry, Benefield explained.

Proper Shot Placement

Another thing to consider if you are new to crossbows is shot placement. Hunters can take a variety of shots that are fine when hunting with a gun, but will be questionable if you are hunting with a crossbow. Straight on shots, straight away shots, and deer that are quartering towards the hunter are all shots gun hunters can take and successfully put meat in the freezer. The reason these shots can work when gun hunting is because a bullet can do an enormous amount of internal damage, even if it misses the mark slightly.

This is not the case when hunting with a crossbow. Sharp quartering shots and questionable angled shots when taken with a crossbow often result in a long blood trail before recovering the animal or not recovering the animal at all. “I use a crossbow to harvest a few does from my properties each year. Like when I am bowhunting, I prefer taking 20-or 30-yard shots at does that are broadside. When taking broadside shots, we quickly recover the animal,” Benefield added.

Practice Differently than a Gun

The easiest way to ensure the shots you take result in a quick humane kill is to practice regularly with a crossbow. Joel Maxfield from Mathews, makers of the Mission line of crossbow, says hunters should shoot their crossbow as often as they would a vertical bow.

“A typical gun hunter only has to practice a few times before gun season and he is good to go. That isn’t the case when hunting with a crossbow. Buck fever can cause a hunter to jerk a trigger, pull too much or lift their head from the scope, resulting in poor shot placement or a complete miss. I suggest crossbow hunters practice often and practice at yardages that are beyond what they would take in the field, so they can become extremely accurate at a 30-yard shot on a whitetail. The more a person shoots in the backyard, the more familiar with the weapon they will be in the field at the moment of truth,” Maxfield noted.

Crossbow Practice from a Treestand

When practicing, it is best to practice from the treestand or blind you will be hunting from. “Crossbows are harder to maneuver than a gun, so practicing from a treestand or blind is a great way to prepare yourself for the woods. Putting a stand in the backyard, shooting, and learning how to hold it steady while in a tree is going to make being ready in the woods on opening day much easier,” Maxfield added.

A Solid Resting Point is a Must

A crossbow is not gun, so even moving a tiny bit when pulling the trigger can greatly impact the downrange impact point of the arrow. Being super steady is necessary when shooting a crossbow. There are two ways to make sure you are steady as a rock when shooting. Use a treestand that offers a large generous rail where you can rest the crossbow when shooting or use a tripod or monopod of some type if you are hunting from the ground.

As ground blinds and tower blinds become more popular, so do tripods. Most quality crossbows come with a tripod or monopod attachment. Once attached to one of these, a crossbow is rock solid. Whether you are old and shake a little bit or you are taking a youngster hunting, you will be as steady as a sniper if you use a tripod or monopod. When hunting from a Redneck tower blind the horizontal windows have a nice rest so you can easily keep the crossbow steady during the shot. You can also use a Blind Window Gun Rest to steady your shot.

Shooting a Cross Bow from a Blind

As we age, climbing into a tree becomes a chore. As a result, more hunters are choosing to hunt from the ground. Hunting from the ground can be very exciting. Most hunters who hunt with a crossbow from the ground choose to use a pop-up blind, bale blind or a box blind of some type. Keep in mind many crossbows are damaged each year when hunters shoot their crossbow too close to the blind wall. When the crossbow fires, the limbs of the crossbow smash into the blind wall which can ruin the limbs, put a hole in the wall of the blind, or cause the hunter to miss the animal they were shooting at. When hunting from a blind, back up and make sure there is plenty of clearance between the wall and the crossbow before shooting.

On a side note Redneck Blind's Buck Palace 6x6 360 Crossover Blind and the Trophy Tower 5X5 Crossover Blind have windows width designed wide enough specifically for crossbow and gun hunters. They allow crossbow hunters maximum room and maneuverability out of the windows to get that perfect angle for any shot.

Effectively Judging Distance

When hunting with a crossbow, you need to be able to effectively judge distances or use a high quality rangefinder. Just like when hunting with a vertical bow, if you misjudge the distance to a deer by 5 or 10 yards, it could mean the difference between a lung shot and a gut shot. Practice estimating yardages in the backyard and use a range finder as much as possible while in the woods. I use my rangefinder when I climb into my blind and make sure I know what trees on the edge of my shooting lanes are 20 yards, 30 yards and 40 yards.

Making the switch from a gun to a crossbow can be a fun and rewarding experience, but realize that hunting with a crossbow isn’t like hunting with a gun. It requires more patience and effort, but the payoff is often worth the extra effort.

- Jon Livingston

I have a reoccurring nightmare where a giant buck steps into my food plot at 20 yards, stands broadside and patiently waits for me to send an arrow at him. At this point I draw back, settle in, and promptly send my arrow through the edge of my Redneck Blind window sill, after which I instantly wake up in a cold sweat.

Luckily, this hasn’t happened to me in real life – and that’s because I practice those very situations to ensure it never does.

Hunting from a fiberglass hunting blind, soft side box blind, or hay bale hunting blind is different than sitting in a tree stand, there’s no doubt about that. And while many of these differences will be in your favor as a hunter, there are also a few that have the potential to botch your hunt if you’re not prepared for them. That said, here are four aspects of the hunt that you may want to practice when switching from a tree stand to a box blind.

Opening Windows

If you’re leaving the windows on your blind closed to limit the spread of your human odor, you need to be prepared to carefully and quietly open these windows when a shot opportunity does eventually present itself. This process isn’t something you should be trying for the first time when there is a buck 30 yards in front of you. That said, before prime-time on your first hunt in the blind, make sure you practice getting those windows open as slowly and quietly as you can, and learn what pieces and parts might be a risk to make noise. Figure this all out now so that when the hunt is on the line, you’ll know exactly what to do.

Bowhunting Considerations

When hunting with a bow in a box blind, different than when in a tree, there might be certain angles in a blind that you won’t be able to shoot from, or there might be a certain height you’ll need to be at to ensure you can shoot over the edge of a window, or you might need to adjust your draw sequence or form to ensure that you can get drawn and comfortable within the confines of the blind. That said, each time you set up in your box blind with a bow, practice drawing back and ensure that you have enough room to draw and the proper height to keep your arrow above the window. Additionally, you should move your hunting chair or other equipment within the blind around until you have a comfortable set-up and plenty of room to maneuver your bow from window to window.

Setting Up for Rifle Shots

When hunting with a rifle from a box blind, you’ll still want to make sure you practice your shot sequence. Have a thought-through process for getting your gun off whatever rest its on and up to your shoulder without knocking against the walls or shelves of the blind. Practice getting your barrel out the window and ready for a shot as well. It might seem simple, but it’s always better to know exactly how the process will go before the moment of truth is before you.

Repositioning for the Shot

Whether you’re hunting with a gun or bow, it’s likely that when you get ready for a shot, it will require you to reposition your body or chair in some way. This again requires practice. The last thing you want to have happen is to have a big buck come in from an area where you can’t turn to shoot towards, or in the chaos of the moment knock over something in your blind while you’re trying to reposition. Practice getting repositioned for different shots and position equipment in the blind to allow you the necessary room to move.

- Jon Livingston
Fruit and Nut Trees for Your Food Plots

We all know the most popular food plots in America include clover, corn, soybeans and brassicas. While that might be the norm there's a growing trend among hunters of including fruit and nut trees to their arsenal. Here's some tips for using fruit and nut trees to attract deer to your hunting property.

The Candy Bar Approach

If you are considering planting fruit or nut trees on your property, Grant Woods, host of GrowingDeerTV suggests you look around and make sure you plant trees that will attract deer and not just blend in with what is currently in your area. He calls it the Candy Bar approach.

“In some parts of the country, chestnut trees do a great job of attracting deer. Where I live, if I plant a nut tree, the deer won’t even look at it because we have so many acorns here. I plant apple trees because apples are very attractive to deer around here because they can’t find apples in many places. Deer like a little variety in their diet. Fruits and nuts can really draw deer onto a piece of property if a hunter has what can’t be found anywhere else,”

In a sea of crops and food plots, a fruit tree or nut tree can become the candy bar to the deer in your part of the country.

Give Deer a Variety of Food

When growing food plots, Woods likes to give deer something to eat all the time. He plants his plots so something is always growing and providing food. Trees can be grown the same way.

“There are a variety of fruit and nut trees available. Some apples ripen in the early fall and some ripen in the middle or late fall,” Woods said. I like offering a few different apple varieties so the deer always have something available. Something I have found is deer prefer certain fruit trees over others. Many years ago, I was managing an apple tree plot and noticed most of the apples were hanging on the limb without being eaten. I bumped into a row of apples trees that were being devoured by the deer. For some reason, they really like that variety over the others. Trees are valuable to have around because when a buck loses his velvet, he goes from wanting nothing but protein to craving carbohydrates. Fruit can satisfy the need for carbs. Just make sure you give them a few different options.” Trees Require Work

Some people believe planting trees is going to require less work than a traditional food plot. According to Woods, that is not the case.

“Some people have the misconception that fruit trees are easier to grow than food plots. Fruit trees need to be planted, protected, and cared for. For the first few years before a tree provides food, it has to be protected from being rubbed by deer, eaten by rabbits or other animals. It needs adequate water. Trees are far from maintenance free,”

Woods explained. Adding trees that give deer and other wildlife another food source to your property is a good thing. Realize that trees are a longterm investment.

“It takes many years before trees start producing a crop large enough to attract much wildlife, but eventually they produce much food and can give animals another food source they don’t have anywhere else.” Put a Tree or Two in a Food Plot

Some land owners like having clover food plots and tree plots. They keep the two separate. Woods, on the other hand, puts the two together.

“I plant my fruit trees in my food plots. I have soybeans and fruit trees in the same plot. This gives me multiple attractions in the same area, which really helps draw the deer in. In addition, the soybeans are providing nitrogen that the trees love. The food plot helps keep the weeds down around the tree. After the tree reaches maturity, the food plot provides the deer with all kinds of food. Until then, keeping a tree protected in a food plot is fairly simple. Putting a cage around it and keeping deer away from it until it is mature isn’t very difficult.” Property Size Doesn't Matter

If you don’t have a large piece of property where you can plant acres of food plots, Bob Wallace from  Chestnut Hill Tree Farm in Florida believes tree plots might be the perfect thing for you because trees can grow food in a small area and give you variety.

“The cool thing about planting trees is anyone can do it, regardless of the size of land they have. A person with a few acres can pull big bucks off their neighbor’s property year round if they plant the right things. Even if their neighbor has food plots and agriculture, in many cases the deer prefer fruit and nuts, which will pull them onto their property.” Provide Spring, Summer and Fall Attractants

Wallace believes one of the greatest things about trees is there are enough varieties available that people can grow trees that bear fruit in early spring, summer, early fall and through the end of the rut and into winter. By planting all kinds of trees, the deer will always be nearby.

“Mulberries will ripen first in June and July. Then comes peaches and plums, blueberries and cherries. Blackberries are another thing that wildlife likes. Apples and pears peak late summer and early fall. Some even hang on the branch almost until winter. Of course, then you have chestnuts, persimmons and acorns that will be great fall attractants. If someone plans and plants accordingly, they will always have food available for deer and other wildlife including turkeys and other game birds, especially if they plant traditional food plots along with the trees." The Chestnut Tree Advantage

Chestnut trees for deer

If you only have the money, time or acreage to plant a few trees each year and you don’t have many nut producing trees in your part of the country, Wallace suggests getting a few apple trees and chestnut trees.

“Chestnuts contain up to 40% carbohydrates and ten times the protein of an acorn! This is why deer love them so much and why every tree plot should have a few.”

According to Wallace, another reason to go with a chestnut tree instead of an oak tree is because most oak trees take decades before they produce many acorns. The Dustan Chestnut starts producing nuts in three to five years.

Whether you choose to plant apple trees, chestnut trees or oak trees, one thing is certain: every land manager and land owner should be planting trees. Taking the candy bar approach can draw deer onto a piece of property and keep them there when nothing else will.

Buying Trees for Food Plots

You can find a nursery near you that probably sells quality trees. Dustan Chestnut Trees can be found at Wal-Mart and a variety of other places around the country. Dr. Grant Woods works with Flatwood Natives. They grow a variety of fruit and nut tree species that make great tree plots.

- Jon Livingston

For many whitetail hunters, there isn’t an off season. When we’re not perched 20 feet in a tree waiting for Mr. Big to walk by, we are hanging stands, planting food plots or knocking on doors looking for the next great lease. Many deer hunters zero in on areas where big bucks live and look for shed antlers just to pass the days until deer season opens again. For some hunters, finding sheds during the offseason is a hobby; for others, it’s an obsession. Finding sheds is like going on an Easter egg hunt for whitetail addicts. They look behind every tree, under every log, and turn over leaves and brush in hopes of finding that hidden jewel that tells them a monster buck lives in those woods.

Roger Sigler from Antler Dog Kennels in Missouri has found his fair share of shed antlers over the years. Sigler doesn’t rely on his eyesight alone to find shed antlers; he relies on the nose of his K-9 companion. “I have spent several decades training dogs and other animals. I have trained dogs for police departments, for prisons, and have worked with people in California who train dogs for show business. Several years ago, I placed dogs in the care of prisoners. Many of the dogs were abused or abandoned dogs that needed care. The dogs had someone to look after them and the prisoners had someone to care for. The dogs lived with the prisoners 24 hours a day. It was a great program and I saw many prisoners’ attitudes change because of the dogs,” Sigler explained.

Sigler wanted to start a training program with the dogs and the prisoners, but knew the prisoners wouldn’t be able to train the dogs for several reasons. “I knew the prison system wouldn’t allow me to teach the prisoners how to train the dogs to become drug sniffing dogs or police dogs, so I started researching what type of specialized training we could teach dogs that prisoners could get involved in. My options were to train dogs to bemorel mushroom hunters or shed antler hunters. I decided training shed dogs would be fun. Since I enjoyed bird hunting over hunting dogs, it was a perfect fit for me,” Sigler added.

The training program was a hit. Eventually Sigler retired from training police dogs and training prisoners how to train dogs. He concentrated his efforts on training shed dogs full-time. He and his well-trained dogs find hundreds of sheds every year. Sigler sells puppies and started dogs that are trained to be shed dogs. In 2010, he will offer finished shed dogs. According to Sigler, the Labrador Retriever is the best breed for finding shed antlers. “Labs are great shed dogs because they love to retrieve, they mind well, have a good nose, and aren’t high strung like many other hunting dog breeds,” Sigler stated. Although Sigler believes labs are the best, any dog with a great nose may be able to find sheds.

If you have a lab that you use for bird hunting, Sigler says it isn’t impossible to teach him how to become a shed finding machine. “My experience taught me that a dog that is already a bird hunter will hunt for birds first and foremost. If his master takes him shed hunting and the dog stumbles onto some fresh pheasant scent, the dog will quit looking for sheds and concentrate on finding the bird. My dogs are given sheds to play with when they are weeks old. They are trained to be shed dogs first and bird hunters second, which is the way it has to be if you want a dog that excels in finding shed antlers. I’m not saying that a bird dog can’t be trained to find sheds, but the dogs that are best at finding sheds are the ones that started when they were puppies,” Sigler explained.

If you are interested in having a shed hunting dog that sleeps and breathes finding sheds, purchase a puppy and train him the way Sigler does. If you want to have a dog that can find sheds regularly, use his proven training methods and you may end up with a decent shed dog.

Having a great shed finding dog starts when the lab puppy is young. “I start playing fetch with puppies when they are eight weeks old. It is very important to remember when purchasing a puppy that not all labs are created equal. Finding a dog that loves to retrieve is a must. We start having the dogs retrieve antlers right away. Grabbing an antler doesn’t come naturally so sometimes we use a ball and shove an antler tine through it. From early on, we want the dog to know we want them to retrieve antlers. We want them to love fetching antlers,” Sigler added. In addition to fetching antlers, Sigler teaches the dogs obedience. Obedience training is vital; the dog needs to know who to listen to and needs to do what the master says. He introduces them to the sound of a gun and water. This produces a well-rounded dog that can serve dual purposes. Sigler never uses shock collars or hits his dogs. “We want our dogs to work for us because they love to retrieve. For them, the antler is the reward. Food is used as a reward early on, but we want them to want the sheds. Finding the sheds, returning them to me and getting praised for it is what drives the dogs; not the fear of getting beaten,” Sigler stated.

After a puppy understands basic obedience, the trainer gradually introduces more time with antlers and teaches the puppy to find the antlers. They begin playing fetch with an antler so the dog becomes familiar with the smell of the antler. “The goal with this style of training is teaching the dog scent discrimination. An antler is no more important to a dog than a stick. After they realize that a shed is what we want, he will start sniffing it out and locating it. Making that transition isn’t always easy, but over time a dog will learn that his job is finding shed antlers,” Sigler noted. The best shed dog is the one that understands what you want them to do and becomes obsessed with it. “I have a dog that every time a visitor comes to the house, it runs and finds an antler to play fetch. Getting a dog to become obsessed with the game like that takes time and repetition,” Sigler added.

After a dog is five months old, fetches an antler, and has basic obedience skills, Sigler starts concentrating on teaching the dogs to find sheds in larger areas. “We begin in a large indoor arena. After they consistently find the sheds in the arena, we move outside where we let the dog find sheds in an area about half the size of a football field. Next, we move up to an area the size of a football field and then to about a five-acre piece of land. We then graduate to a 50-acre piece of land,” Sigler explained. This training process takes several months. Sigler points out that during the early stages of the game, the training should take place in a controlled environment indoors where the trainer is always a short distance from the dog and in complete control of the dog. Over time, when the dog consistently does as he is told in the controlled environment and finds the hidden sheds, he graduates to a larger playground.

When a dog understands what his job is, Sigler makes the game a little harder. “After a dog masters finding hidden sheds in large open areas, we sterilize the antlers so they don’t have any human odor on them. We hide three or five of them in a field at a time. After they find sheds in a field, we don’t return to that field for a week or more so the dog doesn’t get familiar with the field. The goal is to make them search for the sheds. If we train the dogs in the same field constantly, the dog will learn where to look for the antlers. Constantly switching things up forces the dog to use his eyes and nose to find the antlers,” Sigler added.

As with any finished gun dog, it takes years to turn a puppy into a great shed finding dog. One of the most important things to remember is when training a dog to find sheds, train them regularly to get them to the point where they can consistently find sheds in the woods. “The training process is a long one but in the end, a well-trained shed dog will double the number of sheds a person can find,” Sigler said. On a recent spring trip to Canada, Sigler and his dogs found 210 sheds in five days. Many of the dogs on the Canada shed hunting excursion are older, well-trained dogs whose goal in life is finding sheds. “Training a shed dog is a long-term commitment. Many guys don’t have the time it takes to produce a finished dog. If they make the time, they will be rewarded with a great shed hunting companion. If they don’t have the time, they can purchase a started dog from me that have the basics down. I will offer finished dogs in the next couple years,” Sigler added.

Sigler believes dogs excel at finding shed antlers after training is done for two reasons. The first is scent. “Dogs can easily smell the antler, especially if it is from the previous fall. Sheds that are several years old are harder for a dog to find, but they still sniff them out. The second reason is because they know what they are looking for and their heads are only inches off the ground. “A dog covers twice as much ground as a person and they are so close to the ground that they see sheds we would walk right by,” Sigler explained.

If you are into shed hunting and want to increase the number of sheds you find, pick up a lab puppy and start the training process. In 18-24 months, you may have a shed hunting buddy that loves looking for sheds as much as you do.

- Jon Livingston

Putting in successful food plots is similar to baking cookies. If you want the cookies to turn out, a simple recipe must be followed. Cutting a corner by omitting a key ingredient often causes the quality of the cookie to suffer. A food plot is similar. For a food plot to turn out, a series of steps must be taken to ensure success. One way to increase the chances of having food plot success is by doing a soil test before you plant a food plot. A soil test is like having a recipe in your hand for success because once you receive the soil test results, you will know exactly which ingredients will be needed to ensure a lush green food plot.

Steve Scott from the Whitetail Institute knows a few things about food plots and soil tests.

“Doing a soil test is one of the most important steps a person should take when putting in a food plot. It is also one of the most commonly overlooked steps when putting in a food plot. It is just human nature to cut corners but when putting in food plots, having a soil test done is one corner that should not be cut,” Scott said.

A person willing to take the time to do a soil test will likely reap the reward.

“If you have two food plots side by side and one was planted without a soil test being done and one was planted via the information provided by a soil test, the difference will be like the difference between a cheap hamburger and filet mignon. The burger food plot will likely be green but it won’t be as full as the filet mignon food plot. The filet mignon food plot will produce more food for the deer which is what every hunter wants.”

Scott says the $15 that a soil test costs is one of the best investments a person can make.

“Seed, tractors, lime, fertilizer and many other expenses go into planting a food plot. Forgetting to do a soil test can be the difference between success and failure.”

A soil test will help a person be more successful at planting a food plot and will save lots of money.

“Many people guess when they put in a food plot what type of fertilizer they will need and how much. Often they also guess at the amount of lime they will need. When you have a soil test done, the test results will tell you exactly what the soil needs to grow your food plot,” Scott added. 

Plain and simple: a soil test is a road map to success. When you guess at what is needed instead of knowing what is needed, more money will often be spent on the wrong fertilizer and the plot might even fail which will be a total waste of money.

Here in the upper midwest where I am from, we often have very acidic soil. In many cases when we plant food plots, lots of lime is needed. Some people who put in food plots simply throw some lime on the ground and call it good. One of the many things a soil test will tell you is what the PH of the soil is and how much lime will be needed to get the soil where it needs to be for a food plot to grow.

“When the PH is corrected, fertilizer is better utilized by the soil and the plant. Without the proper PH, fertilizer often goes to waste because the plants can’t effectively absorb it,” Scott noted.

A soil test also addresses fertility.

“Our soil test will tell you what nutrients the soil is lacking and how much of a certain type of fertilizer is needed. A common thing people who haven’t had a soil test done is go out and by a few hundred pounds of 13 13 13 fertilizer. If they have a soil test done, they will find out that they may not need all the elements in the bag. They might just be lacking a little bit of one thing and a bunch of another. When a soil test is done, you will know exactly what is needed instead of guessing and buying a one-size-fits-all fertilizer. Sometimes the soil is just lacking nitrogen or potassium. Why go buy a bag of fertilizer that has many elements in it when all they needed was nitrogen?” Scott explained.

There are many different types of soil tests available on the market including a do-it-yourself kit to the type of tests that large farming operations use and everything in between.

“The Whitetail Institute soil test is set up for the average Joe who wants to plant a food plot. Hunters collect the soil and send it to our lab and we send them the results. It is that easy. Our test is easy for people to read and understand and tells you exactly what is needed for a food plot. We are not farmers; we are food plot guys so our test is designed for deer hunters. Our test goes as far as telling people what type of fertilizer is available in their area and how much to purchase. We keep it simple,” Scott stated.

The great thing about a soil test is it really is simple.

“As they say, it is not rocket science. Basically a person should take a garden shovel and bucket. They fill the bucket with soil and then mix it up well and place about a pound of it in the container that comes in our kit and send it to our lab,” Scott explained. “The important thing is to get a good representation of the soil. A person should take a little bit of soil from a few different areas where the food plot will be planted, not just from one location. I recommend taking a little soil from as many as fifteen different places within the food plot. By taking soil from several locations, our lab will get a good representation of the overall soil makeup and make their suggestions based on the overall picture,”.

If you really want to hit a home run with a soil test, write down what type of food plot you are planting. The lab will tell you exactly what you need to add to your soil for that particular food plot seed. John Cooner from the Whitetail Institute spends a lot of time talking about what to plant and how to take care of it.

“If the lab knows what a person plans to plant, they can really help that person determine what the soil will need for that particular blend. The same is true for a person who has an established plot. They may need to add a certain fertilizer to maintain their plot. Letting the lab know what they have in the ground will help the experts know exactly what the soil needs,” Cooner explained.

You may be asking yourself why you would need to have a lab test to test your soil. You have a kit and could do it yourself.

“A professional lab tests soil all day everyday. They know exactly what to do and how to test soil. A full-time farmer who makes his living off the land relies on a lab when testing their soil because they know the lab will tell them everything they need to know to increase the yield on their land. Having our lab test your soil is the best way to ensure success,” Cooner added.

At the end of the day when all is said and done, when a person goes by the guidelines of a soil test and plants accordingly, they will end up with a more attractive food plot, a more nutritious food plot and a food plot that produces more tonnage which will make your food plot more attractive to deer than the food plot next door. 

“Deer are going to go where the best food is. That is why it is so important to plant a food plot properly. Hunters spend lots of time and money hunting deer. They can maximize their time and money and likely see and kill more deer by planting a top notch food plot. All of that starts with a simple soil test,” Scott explained.

A soil test kit costs less than $15 and can be the secret ingredient that helps you grow healthier deer and possibly kill bigger bucks. Heck, you can’t even buy a pack of broadheads for $15! If you have never soil tested your ground, go buy a soil test kit this spring... and use it. A soil test can be done anytime of year. Chances are if you follow through and use the kit, it will be the best $15 you have ever spent on improving your land.

- Jon Livingston

In the last decade, many bowhunters are realizing there are many benefits to hunting deer from a deer blind.

Bill Winke from Midwest Whitetail TV knows all about hunting whitetails from a deer blind. Winke spends over 70 days a year chasing big bucks and although he enjoys hunting out of a treestand, he believes every hunter should have a deer hunting blind or two on their property.

I love hunting from a treestand but there are times when hunting from a tree blind or bale blind makes sense. As long as the blinds are set up properly and in the right location, bucks can be killed from a blind on an elevated stand, Winke explained. Deer Blind Placement

Winke spends a fair amount of time in Redneck Hunting Blinds mounted on their tower stands. According to him, blind placement is everything when hunting out of a tower blind, especially when bowhunting.

It is difficult to kill a buck with a bow in a tower blind if you are hunting a large food plot or crop field because the deer have too many places they can come and go out of in a field. I like placing my tower blinds on food plots that are an acre or smaller in size. I have a couple Redneck Blinds on a 7-acre food plot but I have two on that plot so it increases the odds of success. Putting a blind over a small plot is a great option. With a smaller plot, deer can typically only enter the field in a few places and if a bowhunter knows where those places are, that is where you set the blind.

Winke says another option is to put the blind in a central location in the food plot where the deer typically pass by. The downside of this is that eventually deer will get downwind of you.

 When I am hunting in a location where I know the deer are going to come down wind of me, I take every precaution I can to stay scent free. I keep all the windows closed until it is time to shoot, I use an Ozonics machine to help reduce odor, and I wear scent eliminating clothing. By doing everything I can to stay scent free most of the time, the blind contains enough of my odor that the deer don’t wind me. A Redneck Blind is one of the best blinds on the market in regards to scent containment because of their high quality door and window gaskets. More Hunting Options

One reason Winke likes hunting out of tower blinds is it gives him options he doesn’t have when hunting out of a treestand.

 There are plenty of places you can’t hunt because of the swirling wind or lack of good trees to hang a stand. Some farms have deep valleys where the wind is always swirling. These places are perfect for a Redneck Blind because of the amount of human odor the blind contains. The blinds give us more options we didn’t have ten or twenty years ago, which is nice. How to Avoid Spooking Deer

One challenge hunters can face when hunting from a tower blind is getting in and out of them without being detected because the blinds are often in the open.

The simplest solution is to have a person drive into the field I am hunting to spook off the deer. Deer never seem to be spooked by a vehicle entering a food plot. The reason I know that is because the next night I will see the same bucks in the field. Deer are accustomed to seeing farmers and seeing vehicles so they tolerate them.

Some of our blinds are placed on the fringe of a field where there are crops, cedar trees or other cover that can keep us hidden as we enter and exit the blind. I suggest anyone who is putting up a tower blind to really think about where they are going to put it and weigh all the options before they put the blind up. After a blind is in a certain location, moving it can be difficult so think ahead and put the blind in an area that has some cover if it is possible. Hunting Comfortably is Key

Of course one of the greatest benefits of using an enclosed blind is the comfort factor.

I love hunting from a treestand, but the older I get the more I like hunting from a Redneck Blind.

I can stay warm and dry regardless of what the weather outside is doing. My kids love hunting out of them as well. Both of my kids have taken numerous deer out the Redneck blinds. They can play on an iPad, move around and when a buck comes in, they get serious and hunt. There have been many times over the years that I would have been inside the house not hunting at all when we killed deer out of tower blinds because we can sit all day long when the weather is nasty.

There is no better way to introduce kids to hunting than out of an enclosed blind. There is something to be said for comfort. When you are comfortable, you can hunt harder and longer. The more hours you spend in the woods, the better odds you have of success. Comfort is one of the main reasons to hunt from a tower blind like a Redneck.

Deer Blind Options  I like hunting out of elevated blinds but hay bale blinds have their place as well. The Redneck Hay Bale blinds are as realistic as they get and are fairly easy to move. Sometimes we put them on trailers and move them from one farm to another. Because they look like a hay bale, deer don’t pay much attention to them.

With the bale blinds, I put them out in a field when a farmer starts to cut the corn. Since the deer haven’t seen the field without the corn in it for months, they don’t pay attention to the blind if it is in the field when the farmer harvests all the corn. They assume the blind has always been there. Even when I put a hay bale blind in a field that is wide open and hasn’t had crops in it for awhile, the deer get used to it fairly quickly because the blinds are made of natural material and look like a bale of hay. The bale blind is perfect for bowhunting and has enough room in it to hold a couple people comfortably. Weather Doesn't Matter

Some may think that an elevated blind isn’t really made for bowhunting, but Winke and serious bow hunters from across the country are discovering that tower deer blinds can be a secret weapon when the weather is bad, the wind isn’t right or when you want to sit all day during the rut. When placed in the right location, an elevated blind or hay bale blind can be a highly effective way to harvest a mature whitetail.

Sidebar: Not All Deer Blinds are Created Equal

If you want a tower blind that you can bow hunt out of, make sure you buy a blind that offers long vertical windows that make drawing and taking a shot with a bow a piece of cake. Another feature a tower blind should have is gaskets around the doors and windows. The gaskets help contain human odor and greatly reduce insect problems.

- Jon Livingston
Introduce Kids to Hunting - The Redneck Way

If you are a bowhunter and you have kids that you want to teach to hunt, you are always trying to figure out a way to take them hunting without them getting bored. The answer is a Redneck tower blind. There are two things that make a kid want to leave the stand early. The first reason is they get bored and want to go home because they can’t sit still for hours. The second reason most kids want to go home is because they get cold. The Redneck Tower blind solves both problems.

For starters, there is enough room in one of our tower blinds to accommodate an adult and a child. In some models, there is enough room to accommodate an adult and two children. In both cases, there is enough room for a child to get up, move around, grab a sandwich, play on a video game, or color in a book. “My kids love hunting out of a Redneck Blind. In a treestand, they are required to sit still but in a Redneck, they can move around which greatly reduces the chances of them getting bored and asking to go home,” Bill Winke from Midwest Whitetail said.

Getting cold rarely happens when hunting in a Redneck Blind. “All you need is a small portable heater and the kids stay warm, even on really cold days,” Winke explained. “Hunting in a comfortable blind like a Redneck is more fun for the kids which is why we spend so much time hunting in them.”

Kids love hunting

What many parents will ask when they are considering a Redneck blind is if it can really be used as a bowhunting blind. The answer is yes. “Once one of our tower blinds are in place, the deer don’t pay much attention to them after a week or two. Kids can move around, glass for deer, and even talk. At the moment of truth, regardless if they are shooting or their parent is, all that needs to be done is open one of the long vertical windows and shoot the bow. Many of our blind models have a long vertical window in each corner so bowhunters and crossbow hunters can easily shoot standing up or sitting down,” Danny Little from Redneck Blinds said.

Introduce Kids to Hunting

In today’s world, kids are constantly being entertained by something. Video games, TV, sports and other things have them moving 100 miles an hour at all times. As a result, they are not used to having to sit against a tree for hours waiting for a deer to walk by. To keep a kid interested in hunting and the outdoors, they have to be able to move around and have fun. They can move around, talk, eat snacks for hours on end, and be extremely comfortable. If you are looking for a way to enjoy the great outdoors with your kids this fall, consider investing in a Redneck Blind.

- Jon Livingston
Redneck Leasing 101

Research shows that more than any other factor, lack of places to hunt is what is driving hunters and outdoorsmen away from outdoor sports like bowhunting. Many believe finding a good place to hunt on public land is nearly impossible. Many people don’t have the money to buy a large chunk of private property so since they can’t find a good place to hunt, they walk away from the sport. There is a third option which is leasing. Some people love leasing land; others hate the idea of paying to hunt land. One thing is certain: regardless if you love it or hate it, leasing is here to stay and is probably one of the most affordable ways to hunt and experience good hunting without hunting with an outfitter or buying your own land.

Joe Brooks from Base Camp Leasing knows the ins and outs of leasing. Base Camp Leasing specializes in leasing hunting land to hunters. They are the go between for land owners and hunters. “Most land owners who lease are farmers who must find ways to bring income through the door. They grow crops, lease fields out and more of them are leasing hunting rights because they need the income. Leasing is one way for farmers to make money and for hunters to find a good place to hunt,” Brooks explained. According to Brooks, many people cringe when they think about leasing land but he believes we should consider it an investment. “Hunters have no problem spending a lot of money on equipment. We purchase new equipment so we can enjoy our sport. Leasing land is like buying equipment. One reason leasing is so popular and more farmers are leasing is because leasing requires the hunter to invest themselves in the property so they take care of it and treat it like their own.”

The question is: if you want to lease where do you lease and how much should you plan to pay? “The location of the property and how much property there is can greatly impact the price. Regardless of whether a person plans to go through a leasing company like ours or leases on their own, they need to be educated on what the going rate is where they plan to lease. Some leases are $10 an acre; others are $30 an acre.” Brooks warns people not to try to get a cheap lease. “Often a hunter will knock on the door of a landowner and try to give them a few hundred dollars for a lease. That might work for a year but it rarely works long term. If a hunter or group of hunters wants to lease a piece of property, they are best to do some research and know what the going rate is in the area per acre and offer the farmer the going rate.”

When considering a lease, one important thing to consider is whether the land owner lives on the ground where you will be hunting. “It is especially important when leasing out of state that the property owner lives on the ground you will be hunting, or near it. This will help reduce the chances of trespassing and hunting stands and other things being stolen. It’s something all potential leasers should consider,” Brooks advised.

Another important thing to consider is hunting rights. “When putting together a lease, it is important to note that hunters should make sure they are the only one with hunting rights. The last thing a hunter wants to see is the farmer’s son on opening day of deer season or the farmer’s uncle on the second day of the season. When putting a lease together, the hunters should always have all hunting rights. If not, it should be negotiated up front and in writing.”

Back in the good old days, it wasn’t uncommon for a lease to be negotiated over a cup of coffee and everything was finalized via a handshake. The good old days are gone. “A lease should be in writing so both sides know exactly what they will be receiving beforehand. A written contract is a necessity and keeps everything black and white with no gray area,” Brooks noted.

Getting a hunting lease

Another thing to consider is what you can do with the land. Some land owners may only allow you to park in a certain place and prohibit the use of ATV’s on their land. Other land owners may allow ATV use and allow you to put in food plots. Every land owner is different. Think about these things beforehand. “Some land owners will put in food plots for you, others will charge you and some will let you do it. All of that must be thought of beforehand,” Brooks suggested.

Brooks also advises leasing a piece of property for a year minimum. “In a year, you can get a lot done on a piece of property, understand the hunting, and potentially kill a nice buck. It gives you plenty of time to decide if you want to lease the property again. Leasing for a month or a few weeks during deer season doesn’t work very well,” Brooks stated. A yearlong lease gives you plenty of time to hang stands, put out trail cameras and scout. These things cannot be done in a few weeks.

When leasing, a subject that will always come up is liability insurance. Everyone is afraid of being sued these days and having liability insurance calms the fears of the land owner. “When someone leases through us, we provide three million dollars of liability insurance which will protect both parties in case something goes wrong,” Brooks said. 

View of hunting lease from drone

If you are the type of person who wants to handle a lease on your own, there is an organization out there called The American Hunting Lease Association that will provide you with a contract to use between you and the land owner as well as liability insurance for a couple hundred dollars. Brooks suggests that all hunters have liability insurance when putting together a lease. It makes the landowner feel good and doesn’t cost much money.

Some hunters prefer to buy land. If that is you, Brooks says you may want to lease land first. “We provide leases for many hunters who want to buy land in a certain area but they want to lease property in that area first to make sure it provides the hunting opportunities they desire before investing in land. If you are in the market for hunting land, maybe you should lease first,” Brooks suggested.

hunting lease

As you can see, a lot goes into a lease. Finding the right piece of property can be difficult whether you are looking for land within your town or eight hours away. This is why many hunters choose to hire a leasing agency like Base Camp Leasing. “We have a large network of landowners across the country. A hunter can call me and tell me what they are looking for and I can usually find it. I also take care of the contract and make sure all the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed,” Brooks added.

When you are considering whether you should bite the bullet and lease, realize there is strength in numbers. “Often the best way to lease is with a group of friends. Leasing a large chunk of land can be expensive but with a few friends involved, the work load gets shared, as does the financial burden,” Brooks explained. 

Most of us have no problem buying a new bow every couple years and a new pickup every few years. If you are looking to kill a monster buck, maybe it is time to break out the check book and lease land. 

If breaking out the checkbook isn’t in the cards, there is another option that requires elbow grease. “I have bartered with farmers. I sometimes offer to plant crops for a farmer in return for the right to hunt,” Danny Little from Redneck Blinds said. During the harvest season, farmers always need a helping hand. Over the years, I have encountered many hunters who help harvest crops, feed the livestock or mend the fence. I have fed cow calves in return for hunting rights. I know tradesmen like electricians and welders who have worked for a farmer for the right to hunt. Finding a farmer who will agree to this type of lease isn’t always easy but for those willing to knock on doors and spend some time working, if enough doors are knocked on, sooner or later a land owner will either sign a lease or allow a hard-working person the right to hunt.

At the end of the day, all of us who hunt must decide whether hunting is worth spending a lot of time or money on. In both cases, a serious commitment will be required. 

To learn more about Joe Brooks and Base Camp Leasing, check out To contact Joe, email him at:

- Jon Livingston

There is one thing all Americans love: Labrador Retrievers. In fact, the lab is the most popular dog breed in America. Dogs in general seem to calm people. From a Grandma that lives alone to a blind person that needs help getting around, a dog can be a life saver ... literally. Scott Dewey from Iowa has spent much of his adult life training labs and knows how smart labs can be and what kind of impact they can have on a person’s life. Recently he took his love for dog training in a new direction. “My friend Charles Dwyer and I saw the need for trained dogs that could help veterans with post traumatic stress syndrome, children with autism and adults and children with diabetes,” Dewey said. “We started Retrieving Freedom to provide service dogs for people with these issues.”

One thing that separates Retrieving Freedom from other groups that train service dogs is they want dogs that have prey drive that can hunt and retrieve. “Most groups that train service dogs have bred the prey drive right out of them. They don’t want a dog that has drive. We have a background in training hunting dogs and we want our dogs to want to hunt and retrieve. Some of our veterans take their dogs shed hunting. Others hunt with the dog at their side. Hunting with a dog has a calming effect on the veterans,” Dewey said. 

Taking a wild and crazy puppy and turning it into a fully trained service dog is a lot of work. Training dogs also requires lots of money. Redneck Blinds recently teamed up with Retrieving Freedom to help them raise the funds they need to train dogs. “We have a large facility for training and full-time trainers. We are always in need of funds to keep our operation running. People who are receiving the dogs don’t pay a dime for them so having a corporate partner like Redneck Blinds is a big help,” Dewey added.

To help raise funds for Retrieving Freedom, Redneck Blinds recently donated a tower blind that was given away at an archery shoot that was a fundraiser for Retrieving Freedom. “The shoot took place at Blackhawk Archers in Laport City, Iowa. We had about 80 shooters this year. The grand prize was a Redneck Blind which created lots of buzz. Each competitor must pay $100 so an event like this helps us raise the money we need to train dogs. These dogs really change people’s lives which is what Retrieving Freedom is all about. We couldn’t do it without sponsors,” Dewey explained.

Retrieving Freedom is looking for corporate sponsors as well as puppies. “We have many people who donate Labrador puppies to us which helps lower our costs. We have many people who donate money. It all helps,” Dewey noted.

If you know of a veteran or disabled person in need of a service dog or would like to donate to Retrieving Freedom, which is a 501-c3 nonprofit, visit

- Jon Livingston

There are a million different places online to get information about land management, food plots and deer hunting, but we thought we would put together a cheat sheet for everyone that will make finding high quality information easier. Below is a list of some of the best sites on the web for people who have never managed land or planted food plots and those who have years of experience.

The websites below will teach you about everything from the right type of seed to plant to have a lush green food plot to how to build buck beds and get rid of predators. 

Midwest Whitetails

Midwest Whitetails is a great place to learn about everything whitetail. Bill Winke owns and manages the website and has an online TV show that is all about whitetails. Winke lives on a large farm in Iowa and and teaches his viewers how to grow food plots and manage property. He also has staff members scattered across the Midwest so viewers can learn about what people in their neck of the woods are doing to manage deer and land. The Midwest Whitetail Show is extremely popular and so is Winke’s informative blog.

Growing Deer TV

GrowingDeer.TV is also an online TV show. The host of the show is Dr. Grant Woods. Woods is considered by many to be one of the most knowledgeable deer biologists in the country. On his website, you can learn about whitetail management and lots of information about wild turkey management, predator management, food plots, hunting tactics and more. Woods has helped develop many food plot seed blends over the years and is a wealth of knowledge. Everyone who visits his website will learn something about wildlife and how to manage it.

Whitetail Institute

Whitetail Institute is an innovator when it comes to food plots. Their seed blends are genetically designed for whitetails, not cattle or other animals. The other wonderful thing about this company is they are only a phone call away. If you can’t decide what type of seed to plant, they will help you determine the right one for you and the land you hunt.

Mossy Oak's GameKeepers

Mossy Oak's GameKeepers is another great website and magazine. The magazine covers everything from planting food plots and fruit trees to making your property more attractive to deer, turkeys and waterfowl. The website and magazine covers upland bird management and pond management. The website and the magazine are a great resource for hardcore hunters.


BioLogic is a website for hardcore hunters considering food plots. BioLogic offers all kinds of different seed blends that attract deer, turkeys, upland game and waterfowl. They even offer products for the backyard fish pond.

Eagle Seed

Eagle Seed is a company largely known for their Roundup ready soybeans. They offer a few different soybean options, depending on what part of the country you live in. Their soybeans are known to be drought resistant and out produce other soybean varieties, which is important when planting them in areas with a high whitetail population.

The Noble Foundation

The Noble Foundation is a website for the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. This foundation is an independent, non-profit institute headquartered in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Founded in 1945, the Noble Foundation conducts direct operations including assisting farmers and ranchers and conducting plant science research and agricultural programs, to enhance agricultural productivity regionally, nationally and internationally. Over the years, they have also conducted a fair amount of research on wildlife including deer. By clicking on this link, you can read about much of the research they have done on wildlife. The nice thing about the articles is they are all about research. They aren’t trying to sell you a certain seed blend.

Wired to Hunt

Wired To Hunt is a great resource for the whitetail addicts out there. Wired To Hunt has a newsletter, a podcast and articles that focus on the whitetail deer. If you want to know all the latest and greatest news on whitetail deer, how to manage them and hunt them, check out this website.

The Quality Deer Management Association

The Quality Deer Management Association is largely responsible for getting hunters to band together with the goal of managing whitetails and the land they live on. The organization does a lot of research on deer and their habitat. You can learn about everything from does and fawns to predators and food plots on their website. Their forum is also a great resource.

- Jon Livingston
A Food Plot for Every Season

Food plot season is here. This is a busy time of year here at Redneck Farms because we are tilling the ground, planting food plots, building bedding areas and doing many other things to prepare our property for the fall hunting season. Planting food plots is a lot of work. As a result, many hunters and land managers only plant food plots once a year with the goal of hunting over that food plot during deer season.

According to Dr. Grant Woods from GrowingDeer.TV, if hunters are going to go through the work of planting food plots, they should think about providing deer with a year around food sources. “Providing deer with food during every season helps keep the deer healthy and strong all year. Having something growing all the time is good for the soil. The crops will be pulling nutrients up through the soil year round, which is good for soil health.

I haven’t had to add fertilizer to any of my plots in two years because when each crop dies off, it drops leaves and the nutrients from the plant leach back into the soil. The process is started over so the soil is always healthy and full of nutrients. The plants act as a fertilizer for the next generation of plants that are planted quickly after the plot dies off. Constantly having crops growing saves me from having to fertilize as often,” Woods explained.

One of the first crops Woods plants is soybeans. “Soybeans are a great crop for the deer because they are full of protein and the deer love them. It is a very palatable food it lasts all summer, and is fairly drought resistant.” After the soybeans ripen and die, most hunters are deer hunting so they hunt over the beans. When deer season ends, they are done with food plots until the next year.

Woods takes a different approach. “ I plant right over the top of the soybeans in late August or September. I like to broadcast brassicas, wheat and a few other greens. As the soybeans ripen and eventually turn brown, the newly planted seed will germinate and start to come up. When the beans start to die, the sun reaches the soil and the new plants start to grow between the beans. The deer have bean pods that are ripe and give deer energy for the winter and green forage growing in the same plot, giving deer even more nutrition. It also gives them a food choice. On warm days, deer often don’t want the beans because beans have a lot of oil and energy which produces heat in their body. On these days, the deer turn to the greens. If it is a cold day, they want the energy and go for the beans,” Woods added.

Why does Woods do the extra work to provide forage after the rut? The answer makes perfect sense. “A buck can lose 30-40 percent of his body weight as a result of the rut. I want to give him as much food as possible to help him gain his weight back and make it through the winter,” Woods noted. “Body weight takes precedence over antlers so if I want the bucks to grow big racks, they must first be healthy and strong. Often deer go through a time of drought where there isn’t much food to eat during the winter, which is hard on the deer. Providing them with quality food all year keeps them healthy which can result in larger racks and healthier fawns.”

Inspecting food plot

When spring arrives, the plot is still green from the seeding that was done the last summer. “In the spring, I don’t really have to deal with erosion because the crops I plant over the top of each other keep building up the soil and keep it healthy. I don’t have to worry about crop rotation because the four or five crops I planted on top of the soybeans break up the pest cycle so when it is time to plant again in spring, I just spray and plant round-up ready soybeans. I use Eagle brand.”

Woods also has a few clover plots around. “I keep about 10% of my plots in clover. Small clover plots are just coming on strong in the spring and they can outgrow my deer herd. While they are on the clover, I am planting the beans. I plant clover in my smaller plots and beans and brassicas and other greens in my larger plots. It all depends of what the deer densities are in a person’s area, but my rule of thumb is I like my soybean plots to be at least two acres in size. In areas with a lower deer density, a smaller plot can be used.

The clover plots can be smaller because when it is wet and cool in the spring, clover grows extremely fast. When spring comes, the deer will hit the small clover plots. They leave the other plots alone because the crops I planted last summer or early fall are now getting old and tough. I drill and plant the beans while the deer are on the clover which gives the beans time to get started and grow. This type of system works well because the deer always have something to eat which keeps them healthy and keeps them from loving any one plot to death,” Woods noted.

From January to March, the deer are eating brassicas and wheat. From about mid-March to June, the deer are eating the clover plots heavy. From June until August, the beans are what the deer focus most on at which point the brassicas and wheat blend is planted again and the process is started again. “One thing I like about doing things this way is just about the time one plot is maturing and getting old and not as palatable, I have something new that is palatable, young and ready for the deer to eat. I always want there to be something that is attractive and nutritious for the deer to eat on my property, not just during deer season.”

By doing what Woods describes above, planting food plots and providing food all year doesn’t have to be a ton of work. Depending on the size of a piece of property, Woods suggests having several bean/brassica/wheat plots and a few smaller clover plots. “Planting takes time, so having several small plots creates extra work. Having a few large plots and some small clover plots is easier to manage.”

If you have a small piece of property and are forced to plant small food plots, Woods suggests using the Non Typical Hot Zone Electric fence to keep deer at bay while the plot is growing.

Eagle Seed food plot

We all love hunting over food plots, especially if it is a food plot that we planted ourselves. There is something about seeing the sweat of your brow produce a lush food plot. That said, food plots shouldn’t be something we just hunt over. Having food plots to hunt over and food plots that help keep deer healthy all year is necessary if you want the deer on your property to reach their full potential.

- Jon Livingston

Here at Redneck Hunting Blinds, we love contest giveaways. Sometimes we give away blinds; sometimes we give away chairs or feeders. Recently we gave away a guided turkey hunt. Pete Benetatos was the lucky hunter who won the hunt by participating in a Facebook hunt giveaway we did in conjunction with GrowingDeer TV.

Benetatos got to hunt with famed biologist, Dr. Grant Woods who knows a few things about whitetail management and turkey hunting. The hunt took place at Redneck Farms and from the moment the sun came up until the gun was fired, Benetatos was in the middle of turkeys. “There are a lot of turkeys on that farm,” said Benetatos. Watching all the turkeys chasing each other around and trying to figure out how to get a shot was fun.”

Pete, Grant and Adam, the camera man, climbed into the blind at 5:15 in the morning. “At one point, we had 17 jakes in front of the blind. We had jakes as close as three yards. We could have almost reached out and grabbed them by the neck. All three men were sitting inside a Redneck Bale Blind for the entire hunt. I was very impressed with the amount of room in a bale blind. We could sit comfortably and talk without feeling cramped,” Benetatos said.

The biggest problem was the jakes that kept the longbeards from approaching the blind. “With several jakes around, getting a shot was difficult. After spending several hours in the blind, we decided we had to do something if we wanted to kill a longbeard,” Benetatos said with a laugh. “So we started playing musical chairs. The longbeard was hanging around at about 70 yards out in the field and I started switching chairs with Grant and our camera man, Adam. I was trying to get into position to take a long shot, but we needed the bird to come a little closer.”

In Missouri, turkey hunters must stop hunting at 1 p.m. so Benetatos knew if they were going to kill a bird, he was going to have to take a long shot. “Luckily I was using Grant’s Winchester turkey gun which had a Nikon scope on it. We were using the Winchester Longbeard XR long range turkey load. The bird eventually made a few steps and I took a shot at 67 yards. It was the longest shot I have ever taken in the woods when turkey hunting. There is no way in heck I could have made the shot without having a scope on the gun,” Benetatos recalled.

The hunt was a huge success and so was the bird. “My tom had a 10-inch beard, a 1-5/8” spur and a 1-1/4” spur, so he was at least a 3-year-old bird and may have been older than that,” Benetatos said. “I had a great time hunting with Grant and Adam and I really enjoyed seeing the Redneck Factory and seeing where the blinds were made. The bale blinds and the tower blinds are amazing.”

The nice thing about this hunt is Benetatos will be able to relive the hunt as many times as he wants because it was all filmed for an episode on GrowingDeer TV. “It was fun being filmed for Grant’s show and learning from him,” Benetatos said. “There is no question he knows a lot about land management.”

- Bryan Taylor
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- schmidttexashunting-admin
Essential Turkey Hunting Gear for the Next Hunt

The turkey hunting season is upon us! We’re getting ready for the hunt, are you? We’ll see you at our ranch for the best turkey hunting in Texas. If not, it’s time to get your hunting gear in order and your camouflaged attire picked out; there are gobblers waiting to be tagged! Turkey Hunting Gear... Read more »

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- schmidttexashunting-admin
What to Bring for Your Quail Hunt in Texas

When hunting quail in Texas, you face the same challenges as with most other hunts. What exactly will you need to wear and bring for your day out hunting—because if you forget something, there’s really no going back for it. Quail hunting can be a tricky outing to get ready for: you want to camouflage... Read more »

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- schmidttexashunting-admin
How to Successfully Hunt Quail

Going quail hunting can be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience, especially when you plan a trip here in Texas. Of course, every quail hunter wants to have a successful trip, and it can be frustrating when you return home without hitting a single quail. That’s why we’re here to provide you with a few... Read more »

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- schmidttexashunting-admin
What to Do with Your Venison Meat After a Hunt

After a successful hunt, the question is always “what am I going to do with the venison meat?” There are plenty of options you can choose from when it comes to the use of the venison meat from your kill. Here are some great ideas for using the meat from your kill! Venison Steaks Venison... Read more »

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- schmidttexashunting-admin
Common Mistakes Hunters Make During the Rut

The rut is one of the most exciting times for hunters looking to score that big buck. However, it appears the excitement gets to some and they end up making a few obvious errors. Luckily, a hunter can learn from these mistakes and use their experiences to find success in their future hunts. Forgetting to... Read more »

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- Jim

Best Places to Hunt in North Texas As we approach the fall hunting season, Texas hunters around the state are getting their permits, scheduling their hunting trips, and entering the public drawing system. If you don’t want to travel far west to the Edwards Plateau or down to the South Plains, what are your options?  […]

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- Jim

Dogs are some of the best companions when you’re on the hunt, especially those that were bred to track, retrieve, or expose game. However, even hunting breeds will need training before you bring them out in the field. Let’s look at the signs that your dog could be trained to be a hunting dog, regardless […]

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- Jim

Tips for Deer Hunters in Texas Summer Heat There are a ton of advantages of hunting in Texas, and one of them is that there is available game all year round. That said, a lot of our native deer species are off-limits in the heat of the summer. Does that mean that there’s nothing you […]

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- Jim

Here in Texas, we aren’t too thrilled about our wild boar situation, but we have to admit that it has led to some excellent hunting! North Texas wild boar are a unique game hunting experience: techniques for tracking, approach, aiming, and takedown are all somewhat different from what you’re used to if deer, turkeys, and […]

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- Jim

At 9 Bar Ranch, we love to hunt both solo and in small groups for wild boar, deer, and small game that makes its home here just NW of Fort Worth, Texas. There are times when hunting solo is just the meditative experience you need, while at other times, having company along makes the hunt […]

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- Jim

Texas has the largest wild hog population in the US. Feral hogs are an invasive species that breed quickly and pose a significant threat to natural crops and the Texas ecosystem. Because of the nuisance caused by wild hogs, hog hunting has been encouraged and grown into a quintessential Texas hunting experience. Whether you are […]

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- Jim

It is often said that there are no bad bows these days, and that’s mostly true. Bow technology has evolved drastically even in just the past five years. There are many fantastic options out there, and narrowing down your choices can sometimes be challenging. When bow hunting in North Texas is on your list of […]

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- Jim

The grounds at Nine Bar Ranch offer our guests the chance to experience the best North Texas deer hunts of their lives. With over 12,000 acres of natural Texas beauty surrounding our authentic ranch, we combine traditional Texas hospitality with skilled game management to offer a genuinely authentic deer hunting experience. We host two seasons, […]

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- Jim

Today we’re discussing some of the Texas deer hunting mistakes we at Nine Bar Ranch see frequently. With the rut of 2022 behind us, it’s time for each of us to take a look back and analyze our whitetail hunting strengths and weaknesses. With consistent refinement, your success rates in 2023 will be even better, […]

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- Jim

One of the things we love most about North Texas hunting is the availability of year-round game. If you are eager to get out and hunt this winter, Nine Bar Ranch is here to create the perfect hunting trip for you, your family, and your friends. Whether you’re looking to take a holiday trip or […]

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- Victor Watson
- Victor Watson
- Victor Watson
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- Nate
Pre-Season Mule Deer Scouting

Preseason Scouting Scouting is hunting; it’s not optional. As rule of thumb, you should spend at least twice as much time scouting as you do hunting. With fewer trophy opportunities these days, it’s best to locate big deer and big deer habitat well ahead of hunting season. Simply put, the more days you spend scouting … Continue reading Pre-Season Mule Deer Scouting →

The post Pre-Season Mule Deer Scouting appeared first on Zen Bowhunter Blog.

- Nate
Shaping Up for Bowhunting

Getting in Shape for Backcountry Hunting To succeed with today’s trophy bucks you need to start hunting where other hunters stop. The best hunters I know have no physical limits. They can get go anywhere the animals go, and then get the animal out after the shot. If you want to spend more time hunting … Continue reading Shaping Up for Bowhunting →

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- Nate

My 2023 Turkey Bow Hunt on YouTube After nine years of chasing turkeys with my bow, I finally got this fine tom on public land in Utah during the general season. Even better than an early Thanksgiving bird was all the wild places I’d visited and the memories I made over the years. Watch through … Continue reading Utah Archery Turkey Video →

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- Nate
Turkey versus Elk Hunting: Similarities and Differences

Turkey vs. Elk When I first started hunting turkeys, someone said they were very similar to elk. This sounded absurd considering the two animals are practically complete opposites. However, nine years later I have to admit that turkey behavior during the spring rut is very similar to elk behavior in the fall. What this means … Continue reading Turkey versus Elk Hunting: Similarities and Differences →

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- Nate
Ultimate Health Guide 2023

General Health Overview The purpose of this article is to share the basics of optimal health based on many years of personal study. This applies to hunting for one major reason:  A hunter is an athlete. Hunting big bucks in the modern era means having the physical ability to go wherever they go. In addition … Continue reading Ultimate Health Guide 2023 →

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- Nate
Eye Dominance in Archery

Dominant Eye and Archery Occasionally I have a beginner student consistently missing wide of the bullseye. At first it appears they’re doing everything correctly, however it quickly becomes apparent that the person is aiming with the wrong eye. Even after pointing this out, he keeps shooting with the wrong eye, or the eye that’s farthest … Continue reading Eye Dominance in Archery →

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- Nate
How to Choose a Compound Bow for Hunting

Compound Bow Considerations Compound bow technology has come a long way in just the last few decades. The brand of bow doesn’t really matter much anymore because any bow manufacturer still in business has to work hard to keep up with advancements in efficiency and reliability. Some of the more popular bow manufacturers include Mathews, … Continue reading How to Choose a Compound Bow for Hunting →

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- Nate
How to Blood Trail Wounded Animals

Blood-Trailing Wounded Animals Sooner or later every bowhunter will have to deal with a poorly hit animal. An ethical hunter must do whatever it takes to follow-up and recover wounded game. Arrow-hit deer rarely go down immediately, so every hunter needs to understand the basics of  blood-trailing. In this article we’ll look at some tips … Continue reading How to Blood Trail Wounded Animals →

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- Nate
How to Conquer Buck Fever

  What is Buck Fever? Buck fever is a state of panic brought on by an intense hunting situation, followed by a huge adrenaline surge. It’s basically your body’s fight-or-flight reaction. If you’ve never experienced buck fever, then you either haven’t seen a 200-inch buck up close or you’re just one cool customer. For the … Continue reading How to Conquer Buck Fever →

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- Nate
Extending Your Effective Range

Extending Your Effective Range with Compound Bows Let’s say you’ve mastered the fundamentals of archery, but you’re stuck with an effective shooting range of 50 yards. Any farther and you begin to miss the 9-inch bullseye. At this point, how do you extend your range? Extending your effective range starts with shooting a flatter arrow … Continue reading Extending Your Effective Range →

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- Heather Lee
Vortex Razor HD 13-39×56 Spotting Scope

Vortex spotting scope are certainly an excellent option for hunters. The editors of Hunt Alaska magazine had the opportunity to preview the new Razor HD 13-39x56 spotting scope. We got it out and used it a bit at the range, in addition to zeroing another one of their scopes. We are always very pleased Read More...

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- Heather Lee
The Trials and Tribulations of Hunting Kodiak—the Struggle Is Real!

An awesome Sitka blacktail buck. Story & Photos by Nigel Fox Kodiak is by far my favorite of all the places I have hunted in Alaska, as well as being one of the most frustrating places to hunt. The Sitka black-tailed deer and mountain goat hunting is top-notch and if you are Read More...

The post The Trials and Tribulations of Hunting Kodiak—the Struggle Is Real! appeared first on Hunt Alaska Magazine.

- Heather Lee
Alaska Surf and Turf: Dungeness Crab Cake and Blacktail Deer Steak

Alaska Surf and Turf By Marcus Weiner This surf and turf recipe Serves 4 This is the beginning of a series of Surf-and-Turf recipes that feature Alaska fish and game. This one pairs the bold flavor of blacktail deer backstrap with the buttery deliciousness of Dungeness crab. The crab cake has few fillers to Read More...

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- Heather Lee
Fall Hunting Gear

Fall hunting gear to effectively get the job done. This selection of gear is recommended by the Editors at Hunt Alaska magazine and covers everything from guns, ammunition and sights to the all terrain vehicles to get you where you're going and more. Black Hills Ammunition 6.5 PRC 143 Gr. ELD-X Think Read More...

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- Heather Lee
Editors’ Choice Awards 2023

The Best Hunting Gear for Alaska Hunting in Alaska requires high-quality gear that can stand up to the tortuous, unrelenting, and often brutal conditions that Alaska consistently doles out during spring and fall big-game hunting seasons. Bear, caribou, moose, mountain goat, Dall sheep and Sitka blacktail deer are among the many Read More...

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- Heather Lee
Blacktail Deer Soft Tacos

Blacktail Deer Soft Tacos By Marcus Weiner Recipe Yield: 8 Tacos This recipe is a favorite in my house. My twin 8-year-old boys call them “Garden Tacos” which references the pico de gallo I make from the garden in the summer. I usually cook a couple pounds of taco meat at a time and Read More...

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- Heather Lee
Setting Yourself Up for A Successful Alaska Bow Hunt

High-mountain camp for mountain goats overlooking Resurrection Bay, Seward, Alaska. Story and photos by Nigel Fox My archery black bear taken in May 2022. Bowhunting in Alaska Hunting in Alaska can be very challenging! Logistics, weather, and timing play a big part in planning a hunt in Alaska. The gear Read More...

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- Heather Lee
Spring 2023 Gear Shop

The hunting gear featured in the Spring 2023 Gear Shop covers all of your hunting needs and wants; ammunition, holsters, apparel and more.   Black Hills Ammunition 10mm HoneyBadger Hunting Ammunition Black Hills Ammunition's 10mm HoneyBadger bullet has deep flutes designed for optimum terminal performance without reliance on hollow points. The bullet Read More...

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- Heather Lee
Venison Italian Sausage Soup

By Marcus Weiner This recipe serves 4. This venison Italian sausage recipe makes a hearty soup that is perfect to warm up during wintery days or cool fall evenings. Using game meat, like venison, to make sausage is a great way to bring variety to your game cooking and use up all cuts Read More...

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- Rick Vogt
Venison Shepherd’s Pie

By Marcus Weiner This Venison Shepherd's Pie is easy to make in advance, is full of savory flavor and allows you to incorporate some vegetables in an unobtrusive manner, which can help when you are trying to get your kids to eat veggies. Plus, for those who don’t love the taste of venison all Read More...

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- admin
Für viele passionierte Jäger und Jägerinnen ist die Jagd im eigenen Land längst nicht mehr ausreichend. Eine Jagdreise ins Ausland ist ein aufregendes Abenteuer und eine Chance, exotische Wildtiere zu jagen, die es zu Hause nicht gibt. In diesem Artikel werden wir uns mit den verschiedenen Aspekten von Jagdreisen befassen, von der Geschichte, über die […]
- admin
Covid is currently a topic that cannot be avoided at the moment and that presents us with new challenges every day. Travelling It´s the same with travel. Each of us longs to finally be able to travel carefree again and not have to worry about risk areas and quarantine. As an provider of a booking […]
- geezee-admin
Fly fishing is a method of fishing. It differs from other methods mainly by the fact that the lure, generally called a fly, is too light to cast, so the weight of the line is used as casting weight. This requires a special casting technique and special fishing tackle, especially a special line. The name […]
- geezee-admin
Stalking a hard but worth way to your dream trophy.
- geezee-admin
Die Jagd auf Dangerous Game ist eine Praxis, bei der Jäger Wildtiere jagen, die als gefährlich für den Menschen gelten. Dies umfasst in der Regel große Wildtiere wie Elefanten, Büffel, Nashörner und Löwen. Die Jagd auf Dangerous Game ist eine kontroverse Praxis, da sie oft als unnötig und grausam angesehen wird. In einigen Ländern ist […]
- Choice Staff
Let’s go. Summer’s warmth is giving way to crisp autumn air, and that means that avid waterfowl hunters in Western Canada are ready for the hunting season. This region boasts some of the finest waterfowl hunting opportunities in North America, with its vast wetlands and diverse bird populations. Are you ready? To make the most […]
- Choice Staff
Starting in September, it’s open season for most of Manitoba’s waterfowl. The birds have finished raising their young and are ready to migrate. This means a variety of exciting species are making their way across North America.  We can’t wait for the upcoming season at Birdtail Waterfowl. As Manitoban migratory bird veterans, we know the […]
- Choice Staff
Canada—and Manitoba in particular—is a world-class hunting destination. Keep reading to find out why we think this is where you should book your next hunting trip!  Canada’s expansive, and much of our land mass is filled with rugged, natural wilderness that is largely untouched and uninhabited. It really is a hunter’s playground. Mountain ranges, rolling […]
- Choice Staff
Apple just announced that there will be fewer ‘ducks’ in our texts, with their latest update to the autocorrect feature that will finally let us say what we mean. But our friends to the south should also be aware that they may see fewer ducks this year altogether if they don’t take action now to […]
- Paul
Great news, your hunting trip is finally happening! But before you get back to nature, it’s time to start thinking about what to pack.  What should you bring on your hunting trip? At Birdtail Waterfowl, we try to make packing easy. Check out our full list of gear recommendations, as well as all the essentials […]
- Paul
If Easter has you thinking about turkey dinners, then you’ll be happy to hear that Manitoba’s turkey hunting season is just around the corner. From mid-April to late May, chasing down wild turkeys marks the beginning of hunting season for many, and at Birdtail Waterfowl, we’re already anxious to get back out there. Here in […]
- Paul
March Update and a Wolf Hunt
Greetings everyone!   First off, I would like to thank all of you who hunted with us last fall and for those who expressed interest in joining us in a first-class Manitoba waterfowl hunt. Birdtail Waterfowl reached its maximum number of guests in 2013. We have kept those numbers intentionally to provide our guests with the best […]
- Paul
Hunting can be dangerous. Seems like an obvious statement to make. But experienced hunters know that being prepared and willing to learn can help you avoid a dangerous situation. Following guidelines and safety procedures will ensure your hunt goes well.  At Birdtail Waterfowl, safety is our top priority. We take care to follow all policies […]
- Paul
People have been hunting since the dawn of time. Animals provided valuable meat and materials that helped keep our ancestors alive. As technology advanced and agriculture became industrialized, hunting’s role changed. Today, it continues to be a pastime enjoyed all over the world, as well as a way of managing wildlife populations.  One of the […]
- Paul
Guided Waterfowl Hunts ARE NOT Created Equal (Take Our Advice)
How do I find a guided waterfowl hunt that meets all my needs and wants? If this question has entered your mind while making a calculated effort to take the plunge and book a guided waterfowl hunt, just know that you are not alone (and keep reading). Anyone that has researched or booked a guided […]
Ode to the Good Ones

SallySally was found dead with her head in the feeder on March 24, 2023. Jack had to be put down a week and a day later. He had been having trouble getting up for a while but with his sister Sally gone, he apparently lost his will to stand.

When George bought Wild Idaho Outfitters in 2005, included in the purchase was livestock (horses and mules). Part of this livestock was a pair of Percheron mules named Jack and Sally. They were supposedly around the age of 20 at that time. If Jack and Sally had been horses, retirement would have probably been happening back then, but being that they were mules, they were just getting great!

The kids and I moved to Challis in 2014 and that's when we became acquainted with Jack and Sally. Jack had just been retired from the outfitting business because his old bones couldn’t handle the steep country anymore, but Sally was still going strong! My fond memories of Jack and Sally for this reason are mostly of Sally but both were memory makers. They are the unsung heroes of the back country and the outfitting world. Seems like every return or visiting client looked up Jack and Sally to scratch them, feed them a special treat and relay a story of riding one of them, telling how Sally or Jack took good care of them.

Sally had been in that country longer than any of us. She had old-timer wisdom. She knew the country, she knew her job, and she knew each client as soon as they climbed on her back. Although she knew with each individual how much she could get away with, she always took good care of them and got them safely to their destination and back! She also packed a lot of gear; Sally could do it all. Jack and Sally were giants in personality and stature. They stood almost 16 hands and probably weighed around 1400 to 1500 pounds - gentle giants. Sally packed not only all the big guys but kids, too.

Sally was our river crosser. When Camas Creek was raging in the spring, Ole Sally knew her job. She got clients and us across time after time. She’d take a step, get her footing, take another step, get her footing, on and on till she made it across. When we moved to Challis, my daughter Tia was only 8 and my boy Wyley was 10. I remember Wyley, then Tia, hugging on tightly behind George crossing raging Camas in the spring, my heart pounding, Sally taking care of my family as well as all the others.

Sally only stayed in a fence because she wanted to. If we weren’t using her in camp, she had to be tied up when we rode away, or she’d jump out and go along with us. There was no leaving Sally out of the action! Time after time, we'd awake in camp to Sally out peacefully munching hay off the haystack. We finally hauled panels in to corral the hay and to keep her from consuming all the feed! Our bucket of treats had to be in a Sally proof container and the oats had to be tied tight and hid behind saddles in the tack tent. But she figured that out too. We’d go out in the mornings to find her standing in the tack tent, head out the door eating away!

Our hunters often wear big hiking or pack boots. We have oversized stirrups and instruct clients how to safely dismount without hanging up in the stirrups. But clients tend to forget and get in a hurry to dismount for various reasons. An older gentleman hurried off Sally one day and hung his boot up in the left stirrup and landed with a thud under her back legs. Steadfast Sally never moved a muscle while George got his foot out of the stirrup and helped him up.

I’ve seen grown men scared and clinging to Sally on a perceived steep trail like a mother clings to her infant at perceived danger, and Sally nonchalantly reaching down for a tasty morsel of grass on the downhill side, never coming close to missing a step but scaring the ever-living hell out of her rider.

My most vivid memory of Sally was in the November of 2014. Right before the end of the season we had unseasonably cold temperatures and the rivers and creeks froze. We had a remote drop camp we had to get to, to get clients out. We had to go in with waders and an axe to chop every crossing for 8 miles to meet up with our guides bringing them another 10-12 miles from the other direction. For whatever reason that day, Sally was a packer not a rider. After the ice was chopped, the horses still didn’t want to step off the ledges of ice into the freezing water, but it didn’t bother Ole Sally and the others would follow her. After a long day we finally got the clients and the string back to the last crossing on Camas Creek after dark. Creeks just don’t merely freeze; they freeze and swell. Camas Creek was huge that night. It took George somewhere around an hour to chop a path across the creek wide enough to cross the clients on the horses and the mules. George was out in the creek up to his waist, chopping by headlamp. He got a swath chopped, but there was still a hell of a ledge of ice to step off and plunge into icy water in the dark, with steam rising and ice chunks floating. The horses didn’t want any part of it, but Sally never hesitated, stepped off into the water and the string followed. Thanks to Sally it was a great end to a long grueling day!

SallyAnother great mule came with the livestock when George bought Wild Idaho Outfitters. His name was Foster. He is another whole story. He was only about 5 or so and waspy. Finally, after about 10 years of packing and getting to be an “A-team” pack mule, he started getting rode. He took care of clients too but wasn’t that happy about it. Tia started riding him in 2016 and Foster loved her. He loved that she didn’t pull on his mouth constantly with the bit, he loved her scratches and pets and he loved that she had pockets full of treats for him ALL THE TIME! He was a great mule in a quiet sort of way. He didn’t have the fame with the clients like Jack and Sally, but we knew he was one of our best. Sadly, in the fall of 2021, his health suddenly failed and mid-season we had to have him put down.

Foster thankfully went fast. Jack and Sally thankfully had a great retirement home for the last five years of their lives. They got to stay in the family. Larry Oliver started Wild Idaho Outfitters with George. Monica Oliver, Larry’s wife, answers the phones for Wild Idaho Outfitters as well as Castle Creek Outfitters, books all the clients and SO much more. Christina is their daughter and her husband used to guide for Wild Idaho. When we were looking for a retirement home for Jack and Sally, Christina stepped up because she wanted to keep them “in the family”. I will ever be grateful for her generosity even though she says she is the lucky one.

Wyley and SallyThere is a saying that goes something like, “If you have one good horse, one good dog, and one good woman (or man) in your lifetime, you are doing well”. Folks that use a lot of horses and mules are lucky to be blessed with having several greats. Jack and Sally and Foster are past greats. We have more greats out in our pasture right now that are getting older and with their passing, we will be able to relate more stories of greatness. We have little mules and foals arriving this spring that hopefully walk into the halls of fame for us and others, also. A high bar has been set!

Contributed by Kelly Swingruber (Wrangler)

Why book an Idaho Spring Bear Season Drop Camp?

Winter of 2023 is a LONG one! Most are itching to get out, longing for spring. We are thinking about camping, fishing, hiking, and hunting. Winter has been a drag on physical and mental capacities.

Maybe you are dreaming of getting away from electronics and crowds and going hunting, and hunting season is a lifetime away. But is it? What about an Idaho Spring Bear Drop Camp??? It’s as close as a few weeks away, not months! How about a horseback ride to be dropped in a fully set up camp deep in the wilderness? A camp surrounded by beauty with a dry canvas tent, warm wood stove, cots, pads, cook stove, dishes, and pre-set bear baits! Complete with no cell service, no electronics, or any people in sight for a week or even two!

You can spend your days exploring and fishing, spot and stalking for predators – coyotes, mountain lions, wolves, and bear. In the evenings you can hunt a bear bait. You’ll be surrounded by mountains, big skies, flowers bursting forth, and wildlife, including deer, elk, and moose. At night you can see stars like you’ll experience in few other places. There is certainly no light pollution! You can not only see the milky way (80% of Americans are unable to see the Milky Way Galaxy from where they live) but also zillions of stars and so many constellations you'll want to brush up on them before you arrive! You'll experience the subliminal relaxing scent of the pines as well as the calming sight and sound of campfires and rushing creeks.

You can fully slip into what we affectionately call “Mountain Time”! Idaho Spring Bear in a drop camp means you have no timelines! You can sleep in, eat breakfast at noon, hunt until 10pm, stare into the stars and/or the fire until 2 in the morning! Or you can leave before daylight and climb an open ridge, scan the country fervently with your optics and put the stalk on a predator. Our area is loaded with color phase bears, beautiful blondes, cinnamons, chocolates, and inky blacks with chevrons. Our area is not easy but rewardingly rugged - well worth the time and effort.Spring Drop Camp

So, despair no more! Winter is a week away from being over! Spring is here! Get out of the office, get off the couch! Make plans to get out in the woods sooner than later! You can hunt now AND this fall! Lose yourself for a week or more with no one telling you what to do, no hustle, no bustle. Listen to a silence so big it’ll make you feel insignificant. Your only limitation will be yourself!

March 20, 2023 is the first day of spring and this means Idaho spring bear season is right around the corner!

Let me introduce myself, I'm Kelly Swingruber, my daughter (Tia) and I pack for Wild Idaho Outfitters and Castle Creek Outfitters. I also manage the livestock. Simple right? Hmm, not so much! We run our livestock start to finish, so to speak, which means, we don't just buy broke stock and put them to work. We raise our stock. We find and buy the right brood stock and raise our replacement stock: mares, geldings, stallions, mules!

Prior to the start of Idaho spring bear season, the young Darling Creek Livestock has to be started. They have to be started clear back when they are Lil kids on their Mommas, but when they get some years on ‘em, it gets serious. When Idaho spring bear season rolls around, the young stock needs to be trained enough to at least throw a blanket and pack saddle on, throw some pack bags on and be able to lead. Hopefully they are a little further along then that, but not always.

Anyways….., before the official start of spring bear, we start setting baits and Idaho spring bear season means packing on Darling Creek colts in mud and remnants of snow and green bursting forth and an end to a long long looooong winter!

When we brought the old pros (livestock) out of the back country the end of November 2022 in snow and cold, some of which were just started before spring bear 22, we came home to rest a little and to dream of the start of spring bear season.

Well folks here it is almost spring, the dreaming is over and the long awaited “work” begins! The colts need saddled, the mules need shaved, the horses need shod, and thousands of pounds of bait needs set!

Horses that were cute colts on their Mommas “just yesterday” now are stepping up to hopefully become “old pros”. Myself, I haven’t just been dreaming of spring and the back country and green grass for a winter, I’ve been dreaming of throwing my leg over these colts for 3 and 4 years. Dreaming of how great they could turn out to be!

Spring also means a new crop of Darling Creek Livestock babies are just around the corner, more fodder to dream on!

Yes, the first day of spring means Idaho spring bear season is almost here but to me, so much more! Not only new growth, new stock, new memories but also new hunters as well as return hunters of which some become friends and family. 2023 is going to be a great year!

Contributed by Kelly Swingruber (Wrangler Extraordinaire)

Have You Got Your Bear Bait Ready for the Idaho 2023 Bear Hunting Seasons?

Pretty pink, pretty blue, purple, orange, yellow, tan, chocolate, etc. does it really matter what the name is for bears to like it? The answer is obviously a resounding NO! If it is full of sugar and by default calories, bears are gonna love it and you will have success with this or almost anything edible as bear bait. The main questions in my mind are A) can I get enough of it in a consistent supply, B) can I even afford to feed it to bears and C) how do I keep from producing world record sized squirrels on my Granola, Trail mix, Honey Roasted Nut formula I am currently using?

We believe we have the answer to all three questions. We have icings in stock, usually year-round (remember we can bait for fall bears too and Idaho has many square miles of 2 bear areas) and we are priced far below the competition at only $.20 cents per pound.

I am a proponent of the idea that it does not matter what you feed the bears. The secret is getting the bears to find your bait and then to never let it run out. If your bait site runs out, you are back to square one in trying to entice a bear into your bait.

More Frosting Bear BaitSo, save as much as you can on the actual bear bait and invest some money in some quality scent attractants. Bears are like any other free-loading scavenger, they are going to eat whatever free lunch is out there for them to enjoy, they just gotta find it.

So, if you don’t like paying $1000 dollars per ton for bear bait or feeding squirrels all the nuts in your bear bait barrel, contact us to try some “Pretty Orange Glow Blueberry Mauve Buttercream Organic Slow Roasted Chocolate Mint Chip Ready to Use Icing” or some derivative of that and see how affordable and effective our bear bait is!

Happy Hunting!

See more info at where we also sell scent attractants!

Merry Christmas from Idaho!

As the sun set on a crisp evening in our upper camp overlooking the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness on November 18, the realization hit that our 2022 Idaho elk, deer and bear season had just come to an end.

This past month has flown by and as we inch up on the end of 2022, we can’t help but look back at an amazing year with complete gratitude for the friends and adventures we got to experience and look forward to many more in the future.

We are always grateful to see the many friends we have made over the past 18 years guiding in Idaho returning to hunt with us and just as grateful for the new friends we make each year.

We are especially grateful for the support crew of incredible people that have been coming together at Castle Creek Outfitters and Wild Idaho Outfitters to help make your Idaho adventure as successful and comfortable as possible.

It is always a bittersweet moment as generally we are tired from almost 3 full months in the backcountry and yet incredibly grateful for all the great and wonderful people whose paths crossed with ours in pursuit of their Idaho backcountry adventure.

This season was no different, and as we get together with friends and family to celebrate this Holiday Season, we hope you can look back on your time in Idaho with, if not a smile, at least not a grimace.Smile

Merry Christmas to you and yours! We hope to see many of you on future Idaho adventures!

With Idaho’s 2022 spring bear season beginning in just a few short weeks, we are grateful that we are almost fully booked for our guided hunts, but we still have availability for spring drop camps for those DIY hunters who prefer the challenge of hunting on their own and more of the spot and stalk element of bear hunting.

This is a more affordable option over a guided hunt, puts you in charge of your own schedule and may just be the ticket for that pent up wintertime cabin fever!

We will pack you into a back country camp, drop you off, show you a couple of pre-baited sites you can sit in the evenings and leave you to your own hunting experience. We will then come pick you up at a predetermined time and hope to hear tall tales of faraway places and hopefully be able to congratulate on a well-placed shot on an Idaho bear!

Contact us now for more info on this option from Wild Idaho Outfitters and Castle Creek Outfitters.

Best of luck with your spring bear hunt this year and remember to get out and enjoy YOUR public lands!

Most of you know Wyley and many of you have watched him grow up in hunting camp helping his mom pack drop camps, pack bear bait, hauling firewood, feeding livestock or simply setting up camp. His smile and laughter are always a welcome sight and sound in hunting camp. It appears his career choice was made for him long before he even knew what it would be.

On January 28th Wyley turned 18 and we had him licensed within minutes of the licensing board opening for business and straight to the woods with his first hunter we went. The hunter was Heath F., who had hunted with us 2 times before and was out to finish his predator trifecta with an Idaho Mountain Lion.

After enduring 6 days of single digit starts to the day and 1 subzero day, we found the right Tom Mountain Lion track and the dogs were off on a chase that culminated 1600 feet above where they picked it up and within a short while Wyley was there with his hunter. After a few pictures in the tree, Heath made a perfect shot, the cat expired and fell from the tree. High fives and congratulations rang out along with the sound of the dogs getting a “taste” of victory over their job well done.

With Wyley’s first “professional” kill under his belt, he looks forward to a long and successful guiding career with Castle Creek Outfitters (of which he is about to be the newest partner) and Wild Idaho Outfitters.

Special thanks go out to the hound dog handlers that took the time to share their knowledge and love of chasing Mountain Lions with him including Justin Keller, Brandon Jensen, and Bryan Hansen.

It goes without saying that Kelly and I are very proud of this young man and look forward to working as a family in our outfitting businesses and sharing public lands with outdoor enthusiasts from all walks of life!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Gang at Wild Idaho Outfitters and Castle Creek Outfitters

Happy Thanksgiving 2021 As the girls rode the livestock out on their final ride of the season, heading for greener pastures at lower elevation and a winter rest, we couldn’t help but reminisce on how fast the last 3 months have gone and how grateful we are for what we get to do, the country we get to do it in, and especially for the people we get to meet.


To everyone who hunted with us this year we want to offer you a sincere THANK YOU! And we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!


As you gather with family and friends over this long holiday weekend, we hope that you can look back on your time in Idaho with fondness!


Until our path’s cross again, happy trails and…


Happy Thanksgiving!


It’s Round 2 of applying for your 2021 hunting trips to Idaho. By now you know if you drew a once in a lifetime tag, or tags in many other states, but Idaho is just now applying for elk, deer, antelope, fall bear and fall turkey tags for the 2021 season.

If you have been unlucky so far in the other states, you may want to try Idaho since our OTC (over the counter tags) sold out in record time, it appears your only choice this year is to apply for a draw hunt or book with an outfitter who may still have some guaranteed elk and deer tags left. Antelope is always draw in most states I believe.

The application season runs through June 5. Research the area you want, apply and hope!

To apply for your Idaho draw hunts, visit this link, Login or Enroll, and follow the instructions.

Best of luck and win, lose, or draw (pun intended), get out and enjoy your public lands!

Happy hunting!

With the days beginning to warm a bit and spring bear season just days away, it is time to ramp up our spring bear prep and get moving a bit faster.

Horses need shod, bear bait moved to the backcountry, camps prepped, and wood socked in for the upcoming official opener of Idaho’s 2021 spring bear season.

Although we have been in backcountry often this spring with Mountain Lion hunts and wolf trapping, it seems it takes a bit of the snow melting and warmer days to really “light a fire” and boy has it been lit!

Kelly is prepping Darling Creek colts to pack bait, the phone keeps ringing with bear bait sales and our calendar is full of hunters coming in for a new Idaho spring bear season in “the Frank”. We look forward to it every year, but this year seems extra special with the world having been so cooped up for the past year, this spring just seems a little brighter and we are looking forward to meeting our new guests while we welcome our returning hunters!

Here is to a successful spring bear season! Whether you are hunting with us, another outfitter or doing your own DIY bear hunt get out and enjoy YOUR public lands!

See you in the woods!

Time to start the application game with spring bear first on the agenda

2019 Idaho Blond Black Bear

Now that the madness of 2020 is over, it is time to look ahead to 2021 Idaho hunting seasons and it seems the first of many “seasons” to come is application season.

Idaho spring bear application season just opened and runs through February 15. You can apply online or at an Idaho Fish and Game license vendor in person.

With so may over the counter opportunities to hunt bear in Idaho, it seems strange to apply for spring bear, but evidently there are some places with high concentrations of spring bears, but with easy access they need to be managed differently than the back country units we are used to.

Check it out here if applying for a spring bear hunt is on your list or contact us about booking an Idaho back country spring bear hunt with us.

Good luck in all the “seasons” ahead!


Merry Christmas 2020

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year To say this year has been unique would certainly be an understatement. But has it really? It has had some unique “2020” behavior patterns for sure, but mankind facing adversity and having to deal with it is far from “unprecedented’.

Mankind has been facing trials and tribulations since the beginning of recorded human history.

All of us at Wild Idaho Outfitters and Castle Creek Outfitters, as we look to the end of this year and look ahead to the next, want to send a sincere THANKS to those of you who hunted in Idaho with us in 2020 and to those who are already making plans for next year, and we wish you the happiest of holiday seasons.

Love strong, laugh big, and hug those you love because, as we have all been taught, we are not promised tomorrow!

Merry Christmas from Idaho!


Looking ahead to 2021

Snowshoeing in the wilderness

As the sun set on the 2020 Idaho elk and deer hunting seasons, and since our emails were down, we took some time to reflect on this past year and the craziness that has consumed 2020, the thought that always puts a smile on our face is looking forward to next hunting season and next year’s backcountry adventures!

With tags sold out in most of the popular Idaho hunting zones already, no apparent end in sight of this “pandemic”, and a hostile political environment such as we have never witnessed before, what lifts us out of some of this doom and gloom is to set our sights on next year’s hunting seasons and outdoor adventures where we get to rekindle old friendships and discover new ones.

With all the negativity in this world, one thing that is consistent is our ability to still get out and enjoy our public lands, do a little hunting, hiking, horseback riding, fishing or simply enjoy the great outdoors for what they are…outdoors and not a quarantined hut somewhere in the middle of the city living vicariously through the internet and cable TV.

Now I know that most live in something far larger than a hut, but the point is that (in my opinion) nothing beats the real thing when it comes to outdoor adventure like watching the sunset from the top of a mountain or hearing the forest come to life as the sun rises on a brisk morning in some backcountry locale or listening to the water in a stream flowing gently in a mountain meadow covered with blooming wildflowers or watching the flicker of the flames in a campfire or hearing the sound of a bugling bull elk on a crisp fall morning or enjoying the hoofbeat of good livestock traveling a mountain trail, sometimes even imagining that we can hear our own heart beats as we feel it pounding in our chest as we crest that “next” ridge top. None of these sounds can be experienced in the city. One must get outdoors to enjoy this variety of symphony played by nature.

We just pulled our last camp and yet are already talking to our guides and “regulars” about next year’s dates for not only guiding, but our own outdoor adventures. We hope you are too and that you consider joining us in Idaho for your 2021 backcountry adventure!


That wasn’t supposed to happen aka Happy Late Thanksgiving
Happy father and son

Man, I hate technology! Okay, I do appreciate my heated seats and steering wheel in the Ram pickup when the temps reach single digits, but it sure is frustrating when you have been on the mountain for 3 months and finally make it home only to find out your email server has been down for the last week and there is no remedy in sight.

That is what we came home to after we pulled our last camp this fall. The server evidently was damaged on a multiple countrywide spectrum, so the good news is they were not just picking on us. The bad news is that we were not up and running until Thanksgiving after almost 2 weeks of being down and some of November’s emails may be lost forever.

Hence the reason for the late Happy Thanksgiving wishes. We do hope you got to share the long weekend with friends and family and despite the “warnings” of impending disaster, that you hugged deeply and laughed out loud with those you love and appreciate in your lives!

We are incredibly grateful to all those who made the journey to Idaho, hunted with us this past year, and shared some of their time with us. It is always a pleasure to see old friends and to make new ones.

People are truly the reason we do what we do and love what we do!

As one major Holiday has passed and we head into the largest Holiday time of the year, we hope that your time with family and friends is truly blessed and that you know our lives are, because of those of you that have come into our lives! We are sincerely grateful our paths have crossed with yours!

I guess that we get to tell you that in a quick email makes technology not such a bad idea after all!

Happy late Thanksgiving!

George & the crew

Perspectives on Long-Range Hunting: Speed Kills

Image of a rifle with scopeBeginning from about the time Winchester necked the .30/06 case down to .270, long-range-hunting ideology has proclaimed: “speed kills”. Speed is measured by a bullet’s velocity in feet-per-second. Theoretically, a rifle chambered in a cartridge that produces higher velocities than your last rifle increases your odds of a kill by extending your effective range. That’s simple enough, however, to maximize the full potential of super-velocity cartridges, specialized rifles, accessories and attachments must be used. Hunters showing up in the backcountry these days have rifles outfitted with large, lavish scopes, and modular stocks with attached bipods. Scope turrets adjust, as well as the stocks and the shooting rests. And, hunter’s pockets and daypacks are stuffed with related gear. Rifles tend to be long, heavy, and awkward to handle compared to standard, sporter-type rifles. The net gain of the extra weight and accessories is the ability to hit targets at extreme distances. The net loss is all the extra weight and accessories slow the shooter down at getting the shot off when the golden moment arrives. While hunters are occupied with ranging targets, adjusting turrets, extending bipods, raising cheek rests, or even looking down at a ballistic app on a smartphone—animals simply walk off and the opportunity is missed, not the shot.

Recent experience in the backcountry indicates that more opportunities to take big game are lost by hunters fiddling with gadgetry than by bullets striking low because of inadequate velocity. In the real world of steep mountains, dense forests, and wary game, “speed kills” when it is measured in milliseconds, from the time an animal presents a shot to the moment the trigger is pressed. The faster you can shoulder a rifle and get a well-placed shot off from a field position, the more likely your hunt will end in success. There’s nothing inherently wrong with using high-tech shooting accessories, as long as you don’t consume too much precious time using them.

Hunters are getting so accustomed to employing these shooting accessories that they still use them at short-to-medium ranges when there is no need to. They seem to have it ingrained in their heads that no shot can be attempted without first ranging the target and then supporting the rifle with some form of manufactured shooting rest. As a bull elk stood watching from 50 yards, I witnessed a hunter fold up his rifle’s bipod because he had to shoot from a standing position, and then extend a separate shooting stick to shoot from the standing position. The bull finally trotted off unscathed. When another hunter kicked up a mule buck at 200 yards, he turned and asked his guide to range it. The buck gained another 100+ yards before the hunter finally shot, wounding the buck and initiating a long chase.

Having been somewhat of a minimalist for most of my life, I cringed when a hunter showed up at camp with a rifle chambered in .30-378 Weatherby and all the latest shooting accessories imaginable. One day a bull bulged in front of him as he was descending a semi-forested spur. The hunter froze in mid-stride and stood searching for the bull. He then side-stepped one step to change his field of view slightly and the bull appeared at 180 yards. Without wasting any time and from a standing position, the hunter raised his rifle, aimed, and fired in one fluid motion. The bull nose-dived into the steep slope and never stood again. Perhaps the lesson gained is not a total rejection of modern shooting accessories, but to know when to use them and when not to. If you can clearly see a buck or a bull with your unaided eye—don’t bother with your rangefinder—aim right at him. And, if he’s already looking in your direction—change your shooting stance minimally. If you must shoot at ranges over 300 yards, take the time to get set up using all the necessary gear, but move quickly.

Good hunting,

Joe Cavanaugh

Bear Hunting with Our Next Generation

Austin and Suzy with Austin's 2020 Spring Black BearI had an exceedingly refreshing hunting experience this past spring-bear season. In camp we had 2 youths; one was a 12-year-old boy, Austin, who was hunting with his father, the other was my 18-year-old daughter, Suzy, who was our camp cook. It was the first big game hunt of any kind for Austin, whose father acted as the mentor of the hunt—teaching and advising his son on everything from nature to firearms to camp etiquette.

This spring was Suzy’s first experience with hunting, too. Suzy grew up in Eastern Bolivia where girls don’t hunt, though wild game meat is a large part of the rural population’s diet and she had eaten quite a variety of it growing up. Since this year is Suzy’s first time to the United States, these are her first impressions. At the start of bear season, Suzy had little interest in hunting, and she could not comprehend the concept of hunting for sport. Why would anyone travel far and spend money to hunt when they already had plenty to eat?

The one other person in camp was an experienced big game hunter who had already taken several color phase bears and was specifically after a cinnamon bear on this trip. He shot one on the first evening. Suzy, Austin, and his father accompanied the hunter and I the morning after the bear was taken to skin it out in the woods. The walk there was quite exhilarating as we had to cross a raging stream on a fallen log to reach the bait site. This would be the first time Suzy had ever seen a bear. She was in awe with the bear’s beauty and thrilled with the overall experience. In the following days, she started paying more attention to the father and son, and noticed they were having fun together outside and by being challenged by the elements. On the 4th evening Austin shot a black boar which was larger than the other hunter’s cinnamon bear. Suzy now saw how the competition and challenge for bigger bears and different colors of bears played into the scheme of sport hunting—and she liked it—along with the camaraderie.

Competition, challenge, and camaraderie are as natural to the human condition as eating meat. I had been teaching Suzy how handle handguns for personal defense, but now she wants a rifle so she can go bear hunting with her dad, too. I’ll be working on that shortly.

Congratulations to Suzy and Austin for everything they learned! It was so much more than a bear hunt.

Good hunting,

Joe Cavanaugh

Bam, Bam: A Great Week of Bear Hunting

Brandon with his black bear Brandon with his blond bear

Congratulations to Brandon, from Michigan, for taking 2 bears on a 5-day bear hunt with Wild Idaho Outfitters. Brandon took an old black sow on the first evening of the hunt, and a young blond boar on the last evening. Brandon stuck with it and remained optimistic through the entire hunt.

Good hunting, Joe Cavanaugh

Time is Running Out to Apply for Idaho Controlled Hunt Tags

Punching a filled tag The application deadline to apply for elk, deer, and pronghorn controlled hunts in Idaho is June 5th. Idaho does not use a bonus/preference point system for controlled hunts, so you have the same chance at drawing a tag as anyone else. All residents and nonresidents need to apply is a general hunting license and pay an application fee of $6.25 for residents and $14.75 for nonresidents, per species. The cost of the tag is not paid for until after you have drawn, which is a pretty fair deal compared to some of the other Western states that make you pay everything up front. If successful you will be notified by July 10, and the tag must be purchased by August 1.

Wild Idaho Outfitters operates in Frank Church Wilderness Unit 27, which offers a late-season, unlimited controlled hunt for mule deer during the rut (Hunt 1017). This hunt runs November 1 – 18, and offers outstanding opportunity for large, mature bucks in the Middle Fork Salmon drainage. Nonresident tags are limited to 51 tags for this hunt however, so it’s not truly unlimited for them. Hunters may only apply for these tags as their first choice and during the first controlled-hunt, application period. Wild Idaho Outfitters receives outfitter allocation tags for the same hunt, but they are in short supply due to high demand. There are no controlled-hunt elk tags for Unit 27, as they are sold over the counter. There are still plenty of these elk tags left. The OTC deer season in Unit 27 runs from September 15 to October 31—a full 6 weeks.

For detailed information and statistics on Idaho controlled hunts click on this link:

Good hunting,

Joe Cavanaugh

Happy Memorial Day

The Flag flying in the Frank Memorial Day is here again, signaling the unofficial start of summer. There’s much more to it however, than picnics and beaches. Memorial Day is an official Federal Holiday in honor of military personnel who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. We shouldn’t forget that. Even if you don’t know anyone personally who has given their life for our freedom, you could still visit a national cemetery, attend a parade, or just sit down and reflect on our great country and what it took in lives to make it great.

God bless America,

Joe Cavanaugh

We’re back on track again for spring bear. As of May 16, 2020, Idaho hunting licenses, tags, and permits will be available to buy online, at retail vendors, or by calling (800) 554-8685.

A temporary suspension of some nonresident licenses, permits, and tags sales had been imposed by the Idaho Fish & Game Commission the first week of April, due to COVID-19. This mostly affected tags for black bear, cougar, and gray wolf. The 14-day self-quarantine for people entering Idaho has also been relaxed by the governor. So, if you want to hunt spring bear in Idaho this year, you can now purchase a hunting license and tags, as well as stay in hotels and eat in restaurants here.

For more information on licenses, tags and seasons, see:

Good hunting,

Joe Cavanaugh

- Iberhunting
Our IberHunting Colleague Appointed as Official Measurer by Safari Club International

We are thrilled to bring you exciting news from within our IberHunting team. Sergio, our main guide in Spain, has achieved a remarkable milestone by being appointed as an Official Measurer by Safari Club International (SCI). This prestigious recognition not only showcases his exceptional skills and expertise but also elevates our company, IberHunting, to [...]

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The shepherd’s Gredos Ibex

Today we hunt with a US Army Veteran and hunter passionate about the high-mountain game. We are in Gredos, home of which for me is probably the most beautiful ibex in the world. The objective is to hunt a huge Gredos ibex. We start the morning climbing these incredible mountains from which you quickly [...]

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To kill two Ronda ibex with one stone

We begin a new hunting adventure. It begins to get light with snow on the top of the mountains and a cold day. As with every hunt, we begin our day with the park rangers at the town bar to take a coffee and discuss the hunting plan. Preparing our plan for the hunt [...]

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A great way to finish a Grand Slam!

We are in the last days of the hunting season, with high temperatures and long days. After more than a week of traveling around Spain, our hunter Mr. Koch is in southern Spain, looking for his Southeastern ibex (Sierra Nevada ibex) to complete his Grand Slam. LOOKING FOR IBEX On the first morning, we [...]

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Hunting White Rhinoceros: Controversy or Misinformation?

Many people may think that hunting for white rhinoceros is a crime. I don't have a doubt that the majority will believe so. It can be added the criticism of those who are unaware of this issue. It seems normal, but ignorance blinds many who rush to give their opinion without knowing what they [...]

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Bushbuck hunting, the best hunt of my life

I've always been a man who loves mountain hunting, the harder the better. But Africa was not my thing. I was unwilling to hunt in Africa at such a young age. This trip was something I had planned for the future. However, I was mistaken. I had paid too much attention to other people's comments. [...]

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Gold Medal Ibex in Spain, a hunting trip with the best company

Every hunter dreams of his Gold Medal Ibex, but visiting a new country in company is an experience of a lifetime. Both can enjoy an exciting trip and above all, Spain is the ideal country to share your passion for hunting with your companion. This hunting trip starts with a couple in Madrid visiting [...]

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The huge Sierra Nevada Ibex of the cave

This new hunt begins after getting the Ronda Ibex in Spain. We traveled to our hunting area to hunt this time the Sierra Nevada Ibex or Southeastern Ibex. Just arrived we saw a group of Ibex moving, but nothing interesting. We started the hunt in the lower parts of the area since it was the [...]

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Hunting a magnificent Ronda Ibex at the last minute

We begin a new hunting adventure in Spain with a group of hunters from the United States. A new hunting trip to get the Ronda Ibex. This hunt began in the late morning because of the jet lag we needed to rest. Once on the route, our most concern was the high temperatures. All [...]

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Visit us at booth A-1901 at the Jagt & Outdoor fair in Denmark

Visit us at Denmark's largest hunting fair, Jagt & Outdoor, from April 1-3, 2022 at Odense Congress Center. You will experience three fantastic days of talks, trophies, and lots of exciting activities for both kids and adults. Experience a one-of-a-kind event setting completely new standards for the hunting and outdoor world. New surprises at [...]

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- Wes
Deer hunting is a popular sport in many parts of the world, but it can also be a dangerous one. In order to minimize the risk of accidental shootings, one may wear hunter orange clothing while in the field. However, there is a long-standing debate among hunters about whether or not deer can actually see …

Can Deer See Hunter Orange? Read More »

- Wes
10 Essential Pig Hunting Tips & Tactics Explained
Did you know that California is home to over a quarter million wild pigs, making it a prime destination for hunters across the nation? With a year-round hunting season, the Golden State offers ample opportunities for those seeking the thrill of hog hunting. Hunting wild pigs, or hogs as they’re often called, is a popular …

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- Wes
When we look at the current trends in the Californian wilderness, a ripple of excitement is weaving through the ecological communities. There have been confirmed sightings of the elusive wolverine, a creature rarely seen and widely considered a vestige of wilderness past, in multiple counties across California. The wolverine, scientific name Gulo gulo, is a …

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- Wes
Choosing The Best Bullet Grain for 30-30 Winchester When Deer Hunting
The 30-30 Winchester, a classic American rifle, has been a staple in the hunting community for over a century. Its versatility, reliability, and power have made it a preferred choice for many hunters, especially those hunting deer. However, the effectiveness of this iconic firearm is not solely dependent on its inherent qualities, but also on …

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- Wes
The CamoJoJo Trail Camera: Comprehensive Review and Guide
When the first signs of dawn peek over the horizon, casting a soft light over the undisturbed wild, a new day begins for nature’s creatures. It’s in these moments that a hunter’s heart races with anticipation – the thrill of the chase, the call of the wild, and the ultimate test of their skills. But …

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- Wes
The Best Folding Knife for Hunting: Outdoor Edge Pocket Knife Review
There’s nothing quite like the sense of preparedness and confidence that comes with having a reliable knife at your side. The “OUTDOOR EDGE” Series Knife takes that feeling to another level. After reading about this review you’re going to be shocked at the affordability! This product is one of the most versatile, robust, and sleek …

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- Wes
You’ve planned your deer hunting trip, the day approaches and the forecast calls for rain. All of your time spent researching, scouting, planning, and preparing is all for nothing, or is it? There’s something magical about hunting in the rain. The air is crisp, and the sound of raindrops hitting the leaves and branches creates …

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- Wes
Public Land Turkey hunting: Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
Finding the best turkey hunting spots the Bay Area has to offer is going to take time and research. This article intends to give you a big head start. As an experienced hunter, I’ve spent countless hours scouring the Bay Area for the best public land turkey hunting locations. While I’ve had my fair share …

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- Wes
10 Costly Mistakes to Avoid When Hunting in California
Every hunter must know what mistakes to avoid when hunting. Hunting in California can be a thrilling and gratifying experience. There are some mistakes that can compromise your safety and the success of your hunt, regardless of whether you are an experienced hunter or new to the sport. It’s important to have knowledge of typical …

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- Wes
3 Best Bushnell Scopes Under $200 [Review + Top Picks]
Are you an avid hunter or shooter who’s always looking for ways to improve your accuracy and precision? If so, then you know that having the right equipment can make all the difference. One essential piece of equipment that every hunter and shooter should have is a high-quality scope. In this article, we recommend the …

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- Tobias
Surviving the Wilderness: A Comprehensive Guide to Bear Hunting Safety

Surviving the Wilderness: A Comprehensive Guide to Bear Hunting Safety SEO meta-description: Uncover the essentials of bear hunting safety, from appropriate gear to the best practices, ensuring your outdoor adventures are exciting yet secure. Master …

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- Tobias
Moose Hunting Safety: A Comprehensive Guide

Every year, hunters flock to the wilderness in search of the majestic moose. The thrill of tracking this giant of the forest is an unforgettable experience, but one that also comes with inherent risks. Being …

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- Tobias
Are Deer Herbivores?

Are deer herbivores? A deer will happily eat mice if it has the chance, even though they primarily eat plant matter. The lack of plant food and the added minerals in other animals is not …

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- Tobias
Do Deer Eat Pumpkins?

Whitetail deer Did you know that whitetail deer eat pumpkins? These deer are a common sight in woods and forests, and they are classified as herbivores. Their diets depend on their habitat, but they will …

Do Deer Eat Pumpkins? Read More »

The post Do Deer Eat Pumpkins? appeared first on Hunting heart.

- Tobias
Where Do Whitetail-Deer Go When it Rains?

When it rains, deer find the best places to hide. Their preferred hiding spots are at the end of ridges and under large trees. Deer move away quickly from these hideouts when they sense a …

Where Do Whitetail-Deer Go When it Rains? Read More »

The post Where Do Whitetail-Deer Go When it Rains? appeared first on Hunting heart.

- Tobias
Best Camouflage Pattern For Hunting

Not sure which type of ammo is best suited for your hunt? We know some are more effective than others – even though all patterns are designed to enable hunters to blend into their surroundings. …

Best Camouflage Pattern For Hunting Read More »

The post Best Camouflage Pattern For Hunting appeared first on Hunting heart.

- Tobias
 Where is Trophy Hunting Legal?

Trophy hunting is a controversial topic. Some people see it as a barbaric practice that should be outlawed, while others argue that it’s a sustainable way to manage wildlife populations. So where is trophy hunting …

 Where is Trophy Hunting Legal? Read More »

The post  Where is Trophy Hunting Legal? appeared first on Hunting heart.

- Tobias
Missouri Youth Hunting Regulations

Missouri offers youth fantastic opportunities to go after a variety of wildlife. However, you must be conversant with Missouri youth hunting regulations if you’re looking to engage in one of the oldest pastimes in the …

Missouri Youth Hunting Regulations Read More »

The post Missouri Youth Hunting Regulations appeared first on Hunting heart.

- Tobias
Hunting Hibernating Bears in Alaska: Everything You Need to Know

Hibernation is when an animal sleeps for up to seven months without eating or drinking. That’s done in winter, and these animals rarely leave their dens, with little or no urination or defecation. So, is …

Hunting Hibernating Bears in Alaska: Everything You Need to Know Read More »

The post Hunting Hibernating Bears in Alaska: Everything You Need to Know appeared first on Hunting heart.

- Tobias
Can You Hunt Wolves in Alaska?

Alaska’s most savage predator is prolific throughout the state. Pursuing them makes for exhilarating and is also part of a sound management strategy. But can you hunt wolves in Alaska legally? The state of Alaska …

Can You Hunt Wolves in Alaska? Read More »

The post Can You Hunt Wolves in Alaska? appeared first on Hunting heart.

- Al Quackenbush
Knife Review: ESEE Ashley Game Knife or AGK

ESEE Ashley Game Knife works for bushcraft and hunting.

The post Knife Review: ESEE Ashley Game Knife or AGK appeared first on The SoCal Bowhunter Blog -.

- Al Quackenbush
Knife Review: Case® x Winkler Knives® Recurve Utility No. 6

As a hunter, when preparing for a hunt and I will always have a sharp knife in my kit. Normally, more than one, but one main knife for the majority of the tasks required. For a year, I have been testing the Case® x Winkler Knives® Recurve Utility No. 6…

The post Knife Review: Case® x Winkler Knives® Recurve Utility No. 6 appeared first on The SoCal Bowhunter Blog -.

- Al Quackenbush
Announcing the Sprocket & Chubbs Podcast!

In case you have been living off the grid, our Sprocket & Chubbs Podcast is LIVE and ready for a listen! What started out as a joke amongst friends at the 2023 ATA Show has developed into a podcast between myself and my good friend, Aaron Ritter. We plan to…

The post Announcing the Sprocket & Chubbs Podcast! appeared first on The SoCal Bowhunter Blog -.

- Al Quackenbush
Knife Review: Shay Butler Knives Intrepid

We hunters tend to love sharp things, especially knives. Personally, I am a sucker for arrows, broadheads and knives. Specifically fixed-blade hunting knives. Last year, I began working on a project where I wanted to test my skills with a fixed-blade knife for hunting use and for bushcrafting. So, for…

The post Knife Review: Shay Butler Knives Intrepid appeared first on The SoCal Bowhunter Blog -.

- Al Quackenbush
Highlights from the 2023 Archery Trade Association (ATA) Show

Pardon the delay in getting this info out in a timely manner. Doh! Many moons ago, in the early days of The SoCal Bowhunter, I was invited to the Archery Trade Association Show a few times. Each year I declined due to family obligations. This year was different, as my…

The post Highlights from the 2023 Archery Trade Association (ATA) Show appeared first on The SoCal Bowhunter Blog -.

- Al Quackenbush
SPYPOINT FLEX Cellular Camera – Field Test Results and Full Gear Review

Finding quality animals to hunt is a challenge hunters thrive on. I love the anticipation of seeing what animals made it through the season and what new animals have appeared. With the development of new technology, cellular trail cameras are an impressive tool that have much to offer. It took…

The post SPYPOINT FLEX Cellular Camera – Field Test Results and Full Gear Review appeared first on The SoCal Bowhunter Blog -.

- Al Quackenbush
Saddle Up! It’s Time to Go Hunt Whitetails!

Close your eyes and think about what you are hearing. Is it the hum of the refrigerator or maybe the neighbor mowing his lawn? Maybe it’s the wind or snoring or kids yelling down the street. No matter what, we are always hearing what’s going on around us, but we…

The post Saddle Up! It’s Time to Go Hunt Whitetails! appeared first on The SoCal Bowhunter Blog -.

- Al Quackenbush
Country Music, 3D Archery and Divine Intervention Resonate Strong in Nashville

Recently, some Christian men, who also happen to be avid bowhunters, received an invitation to travel to Nashville, TN to participate in a 3D archery event and do a little recon for a future HHAUSA archery shoot. Chris Hamm co-owner of HHA Sports and founder of HHAUSA; Chad Stillman, retired…

The post Country Music, 3D Archery and Divine Intervention Resonate Strong in Nashville appeared first on The SoCal Bowhunter Blog -.

- Al Quackenbush

One of my most excellent friends, Aaron Ritter of LIMB-itless Outdoors, launched the A3G Initiative in early 2022. This grant presented an amputee with an incredible archery package to help introduce them to the “sport of archery and bowhunting for improvements in mental health, physical fitness and quality of life.”…

The post Giving Back – Blessing a Fellow Bowhunter with a Gift appeared first on The SoCal Bowhunter Blog -.

- Al Quackenbush
Archers Assemble for HHAUSA Archery Event and Grant Presentation

We may have had a saddle hunting seminar, too. The Saturday morning wake-up call for HHAUSA Mission 20 was a bit earlier than my body wanted, but we had coffee. Yes, that glorious, steaming, brown elixir. Chris and I first visited Manderfield’s Home Bakery for some fresh made buns for…

The post Archers Assemble for HHAUSA Archery Event and Grant Presentation appeared first on The SoCal Bowhunter Blog -.

- Ilka Dorn
Wild boar medallions atop mushroom-fennel vegetables
For the medallions 800 g wild boar fillet 1 tbsp oil 1 tbsp clarified butter 200 g bacon (sliced) Salt Pepper For the mushroom-fennel vegetables 1 large fennel bulb 200 g mushrooms (e.g. chanterelles, chestnuts, Porcini mushrooms or cauliflower mushroom) 1 onion 2 slices of bacon 1 clove of garlic […]
- Ilka Dorn
Venison Salad
For the Salad 1 tablespoon oil 400 g saddle of venison 2 large carrots 250 g green beans 200 g broccoli florets 2 spring onions 1 clove of garlic 10 g ginger 6 tbsp lemon juice 4 tbsp rapeseed oil 1 tsp sesame oil 1 tsp raw cane sugar Salt […]
- Oliver Dorn
Rut-hunting in Masuria
Many German hunters visit Poland regularly – the forests and fields are considered rich in game and the people are hospitable. Oliver Dorn traveled to the province of Warmia-Masuria for the first time and tried his hand at hunting mature roebuck. Nearly 20 years ago, my late father and I […]
- Ilka Dorn
Grilled Wild Boar
You have to be prepared to spend a bit of time – grilling a wild freshling is a real event. And one that is well worth it: while the meat is browning, you can prepare the side dishes and look forward to the meal in good company. Ingredients For the […]
- Philippe Jaeger
The Namib Small Five
On the Eastern boarder of the Namib desert, there is a jewel named Wilsonfontein where the hunter can live some exclusive experience in the middle of these 29 000 hectares of private arid land which is totally wild and open. After a first trip 4 years ago, we’ve decided to […]
- Oliver Dorn
“Wild boars in the corn!”
If I had to name one type of hunt that really excites me, I’d say: in summer grain. At night, observing the damaged areas in the milk-ripe wheat with a thermal camera, stalking the boars if they come to feast, and possibly taking one down – that’s incredibly appealing to […]
- Ilka Dorn
Wild boar cutlet rolls
Ingredients For the hummus 1 can chickpeas (drained weight 265 g) Juice of 1 lemon 1–2 garlic cloves ½ tsp. salt 120 g creamy, pourable tahini 100 ml water (ice cold!) 1–2 tbs. olive oil ½ tsp ground cumin ½ tsp rose paprika For the cutlets 400 g wild boar […]
- Ilka Dorn
Hunting red deer in the French Pyrenees
If you were to ask me which place has particularly fascinated me on my many travels over the years, I would immediately say: the French Pyrenees. From a hunting perspective, the remote valleys and peaks of this mountain range, which separates the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of Europe, are […]
- Ilka Dorn
Poached saddle of venison with vegetables and chickweed
Ingredients For the meat 800 g saddle of venison (off the bone) 250 ml dry white wine 125 ml Noilly Prat 125 ml venison stock 2 bay leaves 2 garlic cloves 1 tsp. peppercorns 1 tsp. salt 4 allspice grains 1 cinnamon stick 3 cloves 1 handful of deadnettle (Lamium) […]
- Ilka Dorn
Hunter´s luck in the Highlands
Two long years lie behind us, my husband Oliver and me – years of impatience and yearning to finally be able to hunt in Scotland again. Now we are in the high north of Scotland, one and a half hours beyond Inverness. It’s a long journey from Germany for just […]
- Clay Hanback
Hemorrhagic Disease in Whitetail Deer 2023

In June 2023 I blogged: Many areas in the West and Deep South have received plenty of moisture this spring, so I think any outbreaks of Hemorrhagic Disease (HD)  — either epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) virus or bluetongue virus-- in whitetails will be spotty and insignificant. But I see potential trouble spots in the Midwest… [...]

The post Hemorrhagic Disease in Whitetail Deer 2023 appeared first on Big Deer.

- Clay Hanback
Why You Should Shoot a Doe Early in Bow Season

In this open letter to hunters as the 2023 season kicks off, Chad Stewart, deer management specialist with the Michigan DNR, writes: …”the typical Michigan hunting philosophy to date is to hold off on taking antlerless deer until later in the season.” While there are exceptions to this way of thinking, that is the predominant [...]

The post Why You Should Shoot a Doe Early in Bow Season appeared first on Big Deer.

- Clay Hanback
Kitchen Chair Tree Stand in Oklahoma

This tweet by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (@OKWildlifeDept) has gone viral: This "tree stand" was discovered on public land in McIntosh Co. by Warden Rowland. Not only is this EXTREMELY NOT SAFE, it is EXTREMELY NOT LEGAL. Not Safe: The chair was attached to the tree by just 4 small screws! Not legal: In [...]

The post Kitchen Chair Tree Stand in Oklahoma appeared first on Big Deer.

- Clay Hanback
Big Deer’s 2023 Moon-Rut Hunting Guide

Over the past 40 years I’ve spent more than 1,000 days in deer stands across North America during the magic month of November, during every imaginable moon phase, during all the waxing and waning days. Though many scientists don’t put much stock in the moon and its effects on whitetails and the rut, my journal [...]

The post Big Deer’s 2023 Moon-Rut Hunting Guide appeared first on Big Deer.

- Clay Hanback
3 Great Hunts to Kick Off the Fall

You’re a charter member of the Big Deer Army, some 12 million of us strong across the United States. More people hunt whitetails by far than any other game species. But the best deer hunting is still months away. Feel the need to get outdoors, where the air is clean and the environment quiet? Here [...]

The post 3 Great Hunts to Kick Off the Fall appeared first on Big Deer.

- Clay Hanback
Early-Season Whitetail Q&A for Bowhunters

You scout and glass a couple of small bucks, a decent 8-pointer and a shooter 10 coming to a bean field like clockwork in the evenings. Will those bucks, and especially the 10-point, be around when bow season opens in a few weeks?   That bachelor’s club will start to break up in mid-September, but [...]

The post Early-Season Whitetail Q&A for Bowhunters appeared first on Big Deer.

- Clay Hanback
How Many Tree Stands do You Need to Hunt Deer?

As a general rule, hang 3 to 5 tree stands across a 100-acre block of whitetail timber. Spread out those stands to cover as many food sources, travel corridors and staging/bedding thickets as you can, and to have options for hunting all the different winds. Keep these 5 things in mind when setting those stands: [...]

The post How Many Tree Stands do You Need to Hunt Deer? appeared first on Big Deer.

- Clay Hanback
Bowhunting Tactics for the Suburbs

For years now, hunters have ben shooting some huge whitetail bucks in small to tiny tracts of land in cities and suburbs where bowhunting is permitted. In Connecticut, northern Virginia, outside New York city, even out in Missoula, Montana. Kevin Robinson is one of those hunters, and he’s killed all these bucks in the suburbs of [...]

The post Bowhunting Tactics for the Suburbs appeared first on Big Deer.

- Clay Hanback
Why Some Bucks Grow Non-Typical Antlers

In Perry County, Ohio, Ethan Featheroff arrowed a 20-point giant that scored 220 7/8”. In Logan County, West Virginia, Donny Baisden scouted, hunted and shot the awesome unicorn buck that taped out at 182 5/8. The 20-year trend of hunters shooting monster non-typical whitetails continues, and many more giants will fall in 2023. Here are 3 reasons bucks grow [...]

The post Why Some Bucks Grow Non-Typical Antlers appeared first on Big Deer.

- Clay Hanback
Texas Unicorn Velvet Buck

My friend Wren from down in Texas sent me this photo and said, “Looks like we have another unicorn buck on the ranch!” Look close in the middle of the deer’s forehead and you’ll see it. You might ask, “Is possible a tine can grow out the middle of a buck’s forehead like that? How [...]

The post Texas Unicorn Velvet Buck appeared first on Big Deer.

- Joshua Kirchner
My Biggest Archery Issues

We learn by doing. It’s the only way to find out what works and doesn’t work for us individually. Archery has been an enriching journey for me. It’s also been humbling, especially on the bowhunting side of things. That has a way of truly bringing you back to zero, which in my opinion is healthy. […]

The post My Biggest Archery Issues appeared first on Dialed In Hunter.

- Joshua Kirchner
Missing Sucks – The Bowhunting Aftermath

Show me a bowhunter that enjoys missing and I’ll show you a liar. Especially after so much effort, it is crushing to watch your arrow sail harmlessly passed an animal. It’s damn near debilitating mentally. While there is no shortage of suck that comes from missing, I will say that there is a lot to […]

The post Missing Sucks – The Bowhunting Aftermath appeared first on Dialed In Hunter.

- Joshua Kirchner

Fall is officially here, and if you’re anything like me, you’re getting hit with the warm and fuzzies. Hopefully, the fuzzies are in the form of big mule deer antlers! This new film of mine may not be a mule deer film, but I am super proud of it. Dillon Flint and I backpacked into […]

The post New Film – The Most – Backcountry Bear Hunting in Idaho – And Vortex Giveaway appeared first on Dialed In Hunter.

- Joshua Kirchner
Accuracy Killers in Bowhunting – These 3 Things Helped Me Shooter Better

We’re sitting less than a month out from the 2023 Fall hunting season at the time of writing this. Along with my uncontrollable excitement, e-scouting, and focus on fitness, there is one other thing heavy on my mind. That thing is accuracy. To me, it doesn’t matter how fancy your bow is, it doesn’t matter […]

The post Accuracy Killers in Bowhunting – These 3 Things Helped Me Shooter Better appeared first on Dialed In Hunter.

- Joshua Kirchner
The Final Countdown to Hunting Season

It’s been a while since I did a more personal post on here, so I figured I’d give it a rip before hunting season kicks in. A sort of pre-season personal assessment if you will. At the start of each year, I always seem to be filled with piss and vinegar, ready to get after […]

The post The Final Countdown to Hunting Season appeared first on Dialed In Hunter.

- Joshua Kirchner

Since I was a child, doing difficult things has been something I’ve been drawn to. There is a beauty to it. It’s challenging and keeps one on their toes. Should you come out successful, no matter what that difficult thing is, the reward is so much greater. It means “the most” to struggle and then […]

The post New Film Teaser – The Most – Bear Hunting in Idaho appeared first on Dialed In Hunter.

- Joshua Kirchner
The Skinny on Stabilizers for Bowhunting

You don’t know what you don’t know right? I always thought it looked so funny when archers and bowhunters had that long stick-looking deal hanging off the front of their bow. Stabilizers weren’t really something I’d worry too much about in my early years. And with how many “correct opinions” there are in the bowhunting […]

The post The Skinny on Stabilizers for Bowhunting appeared first on Dialed In Hunter.

- Joshua Kirchner
What Makes a Good Bow Sight?

We were so stoked. After months of planning, we were finally loading up our backpacks at the truck, getting ready to hike a few miles in for an archery deer hunt. It was my buddy’s first backpack hunt ever, and I couldn’t wait to show him the ropes. About 5 minutes into our hike, I […]

The post What Makes a Good Bow Sight? appeared first on Dialed In Hunter.

- Joshua Kirchner
Backup Release Aid – Have One and Know How to Use It

An early morning archery hunt. Sun up would come in about 30 minutes and I had a brush blind set up not far away. Just as I was coming down the hill that led to the blind, I fell, and I fell right on my release aid. It seemed ok until I tried to do […]

The post Backup Release Aid – Have One and Know How to Use It appeared first on Dialed In Hunter.

- Joshua Kirchner

Bow season is something that I look forward to literally every single day of the year. I fell in love with archery hunting many years ago and it was for several reasons. Some of them are the sheer difficulty involved, intimate encounters with animals, and honestly just the act of shooting a bow and arrow. […]

The post The Road to Bow Season appeared first on Dialed In Hunter.

- Brandon Mason

I just read a very disturbing news article. Thanks to the article by author and rancher Cat Urbigkit in Cowboy State Daily, I’m able to pass along this information to help spread the word of very dangerous undertakings and games being played by the Federal Government and anti-hunting groups. We’ve all heard the rumors of …

The post DISTURBING! Wildlife Management and Ranching Under Attack on BLM Lands appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

- Dan Pickar

Game and Fish is considering postponing the May 1 shed season this year. Winter conditions in Wyoming are unlike anything we’ve seen in 30 years and big game animals are struggling. Winter has lasted a long time and most of the state has well over 100% of objectives when it comes to snowpack. Jackson is …

The post Wyoming May Postpone Shed Season appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

- Todd Helms

“He told us he was unable to get his dog to come back to him. He appeared very upset and stated he didn’t know why his dog would do something like this.” A Jackson, Wyoming man lost control of his pet Husky early this week and the dog severely mauled two mule deer. This led …

The post Husky Killed For Mauling Deer appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

- Dave Shaffer

Across much of the western portions of the Colorado Rockies, and especially the northwest corner of Colorado, this winter’s snowfall is significantly above average … and winter isn’t over yet. The National Weather Service’s Maybell weather station has recorded over 80 inches of snow for the area and it’s just as bad, and in many …

The post Wicked Colorado Winter & Tag Reductions appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

- Todd Helms

The letter below came through my email this morning. I’ll not divulge who wrote it and it was unsolicited, but it does mirror my personal views on the issue of feral horses competing with wildlife. The mule deer, elk and especially pronghorn of southern Wyoming are at a tipping point this “spring” with more big …

The post Horses & Winter: Too Much For Western Wildlife? appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

- Rodger Holscher

HPAI H5N1 better known as the Eurasian Avian Flu, was first reported in California in July, 2022. The disease is mostly impacting birds but can be transferred to carnivorous animals when the infected bird is ingested. To date, this virus has been found in 45 of the 58 counties in California. In December, 2022 and …

The post Avian Flu In California Mountain Lions appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

- Scott Reekers

When people think of the old West images of weathered cowboys like Vigo Mortensen in “Hidalgo” and native tribes of horse oriented hunters roaming the desert on horseback looking for buffalo are the first thing that comes to mind. Often these memories are etched as a mural, that at one point or another, the person …

The post The “Wild” Horse Conundrum appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

- Guy Eastman, Editor-In-Chief

Another day, another snow storm. Unless you are pushing the envelope on 80 years on this rock then this winter will probably be the worst you’ve ever seen in Wyoming. The winter conditions in the Cowboy State and others have gone from bad to worse, and now possibly even to the level of catastrophic.  A …

The post Wyoming Winter Devastation appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

- Branden VanDyken

As I looked down at my ram laying on the shelf below us, I realized that I had finally killed a ram. The excitement and emotions got even higher as I picked my way down the cliff towards him. This was our seventh year of hunting sheep in this unit, we had blown opportunities and …

The post So You Wanna Hunt Sheep appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

- Todd Helms

As Colorado nears the actual implementation of its fairy-tale wolf “reintroduction” plan, some inconvenient and ugly realities of plunging the large predator back into the mix of modern society are taking center stage. First, it seems that wolves harbor severe contempt for domestic dogs and they don’t discriminate whether the dog or dogs in question …

The post Colorado Wolves: Killing Pets & A Safe-Space appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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- Ryan

We are only a couple days out after a highly anticipated several months of waiting suddenly it’s almost here; Leading, me to a certain degree of reflection. Reflecting on the emotions that are felt when putting ourselves back in the Read more…

The post OPENING DAY REFLECTIONS AND RITUALS first appeared on ahuntersjournal.
- Ryan
Bear Essentials | Spot And Stalk Hunting

In order to be successful time and time again year after year, I learned a number of things that I should focus on doing and I also learned a number of things that I should entirely avoid. Let’s break down what we should try and avoid if we want to be more productive while bear hunting.

The post Bear Essentials | Spot And Stalk Hunting first appeared on ahuntersjournal.
- Ryan

Three generations of Mercier men made their way into what could only be described as an elk hunters paradise on a gloomy October morning. It was apparent that the rut had kicked off later than usual as it was now Read more…

The post 2022 ELK SEASON | THE FINAL CHAPTER first appeared on ahuntersjournal.
- Ryan

Early Archery season 2022 came and went just as quickly as it does every year. This year was a marathon; Only this time instead of finishing the race with a victory we found ourselves restarting. Shaking off the feeling of Read more…

The post 2022 ELK SEASON | PART THREE first appeared on ahuntersjournal.
- Ryan

The evening of September the 8th 2022 was a night that perfectly illustrated both the challenges and the pure adrenaline one can endure while bowhunting for elk. I had located a small group of bulls while on my way to Read more…

The post 2022 ELK SEASON | PART TWO first appeared on ahuntersjournal.
- Ryan

Writing hasn’t been on my priority list for some time now. The last couple years enduring all of the sh*t has left me to re-evaluate some things. One of those things being how to categorize my priorities depending on importance. Read more…

The post 2022 ELK SEASON | PART ONE first appeared on ahuntersjournal.
- Ryan
Preparing For The Fall Hunting Season

Once again we find ourselves in the final month of summer and quickly approaching the fall season. Normally, when we get to the month of August I’m far more prepared for the upcoming hunts than I am this year. Whether, Read more…

The post Preparing For The Fall Hunting Season first appeared on ahuntersjournal.
- Ryan
Scouting | Planning And Hunting Elk

When most people think of the month of September they think of leaves changing colours, cooler temperatures, hoodies, and pumpkin spice lattes. Not this guy, when I think of September I think of bugling bulls and that’s it! Now during Read more…

The post Scouting | Planning And Hunting Elk first appeared on ahuntersjournal.
- Ryan
5 Years In The Making | Blitz

After moving to the area at the beginning of 2016 finding new hunting locations was high up on my priority list. That summer I discovered a new area that seemed to hold tonnes of velvet whitetail bucks and with that Read more…

The post 5 Years In The Making | Blitz first appeared on ahuntersjournal.
- Ryan
Getting Into Bowhunting As A New Hunter

You’ve done it, you have completed your C.O.R. E or whichever hunting course you have available to you in your province/state now you are officially ready to begin hunting. But wait a minute you didn’t just want to become any Read more…

The post Getting Into Bowhunting As A New Hunter first appeared on ahuntersjournal.
- HuntTested
The Ultimate Pheasant Hunting Gear List

If you’re lucky enough to live in rural South Dakota, pheasant hunting is pretty darn simple. Grab your shotgun, throw

The post The Ultimate Pheasant Hunting Gear List appeared first on HuntTested.

- HuntTested
Rev Up Your Hunt: ATV vs. UTV – Which is the Ultimate Choice for Hunters?

ATVs and UTVs have been a game changer for hunters. We can go deeper and hunt longer with these fantastic

The post Rev Up Your Hunt: ATV vs. UTV – Which is the Ultimate Choice for Hunters? appeared first on HuntTested.

- HuntTested
X Marks the Spot: Expert Tips for Grouse Hunting Success using onX Hunt

Ruffed grouse hunting is easy for a beginner to get started, difficult to master, and thoroughly enjoyable whether or not

The post X Marks the Spot: Expert Tips for Grouse Hunting Success using onX Hunt appeared first on HuntTested.

- HuntTested
Camp Stove Review: The Jetboil Flash

If you’re like most hunters and campers, you’ve probably had your share of camp stoves. If you need a fast,

The post Camp Stove Review: The Jetboil Flash appeared first on HuntTested.

- HuntTested
TigerTough Seat Covers – Review

Hunting is tough on your truck’s seats. It’s not uncommon to climb into your truck after a day in the

The post TigerTough Seat Covers – Review appeared first on HuntTested.

- HuntTested

Quick access to drinking water is critical to any outdoor activity. I generally loathe single-use plastic water bottles, so I’ve

The post Featured Gear: Keith Titanium Canteen Mess Kit appeared first on HuntTested.

- HuntTested
Polaris RANGER CREW XP 1000 NorthStar Edition Trail Boss

I made the mistake of flying first class once. It was a mistake because if you can’t always fly first

The post Polaris RANGER CREW XP 1000 NorthStar Edition Trail Boss appeared first on HuntTested.

- HuntTested
Breeo Y Series Portable Fire Pit – Review

Hunters have been sitting around campfires for as long as there have been hunters. It’s in our DNA to sit

The post Breeo Y Series Portable Fire Pit – Review appeared first on HuntTested.

- HuntTested

Welcome to our complete list of state DNR Agencies. We have compiled a comprehensive list of all 50 state Department

The post Department of Natural Resources Web Site List appeared first on HuntTested.

- Western Hunter

There’s always something special about your first time. A first kiss, first car, and first house are all deeply imprinted […]

The post A Day to Remember appeared first on Western Hunter.

- Western Hunter

An Arizona Late-season Elk Hunt After four years of waiting, my credit card got hit once again for a late-season […]

The post No Time Wasted appeared first on Western Hunter.

- Western Hunter

Every year when planning for hunting season begins, I ask my boyfriend what hunts I should put in for that […]

The post The Engagement Bull appeared first on Western Hunter.

- Nate Simmons

Backpack elk hunts are tough, so pick your battles wisely I’m a sucker for a good view. Consequently, I often […]

The post Tough Terrain Bulls appeared first on Western Hunter.

- Pedram Parvin

In just two years, MKC has taken off like a rocket ship, and they’ve done it all without a single outside investor. It has grown completely organically into one of the most talked about brands in all of the hunting industry.

The post Montana Knife Company | Working Knives for Working People appeared first on Western Hunter.

- Mattt Ward

When it comes to preparing for a backcountry hunt, there are two camps of people; one camp throws a pack […]

The post Hard Yards Performance appeared first on Western Hunter.

- Kevin Guillen

In this Made in America series, we’re going to look at companies with different beginnings, different specialties, wildly different histories, […]

The post Made In America: Marsupial Gear appeared first on Western Hunter.

- Colton Bagnoli

When it comes to late-season big game and winter predator hunting, I have tried everything to stay warm and dry […]

The post Stone Glacier M7 Pant appeared first on Western Hunter.

- Kevin Guillen

Hunger for adventure leads to a duel with a monster Arizona bear This spring, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity had my number, […]

The post Yes Man appeared first on Western Hunter.

- James Yates

"Even if you get your bow initially set up by an archery pro shop, having the ability to work on your own bow and arrow after the initial setup is very important..."

The post DIY Bow and Arrow Tuning appeared first on Western Hunter.

- Eric Clark
The longer you wait to get the ball rolling on your out-of-state hunting plans, the longer it will take to get in the woods. Start exploring your options, figuring your logistics, and don’t be afraid to dream a little.


- Eric Clark
Being an ambassador for hunting is more than buying your tags every year and changing your social media profile pictures to your latest kill. It’s about representing the lifestyle and aiding in building its defense. It’s about being generous and helping the next generation.


- Eric Clark

The key is to have a plan and stick to it. Remember perfect practice makes perfect and consistency is the goal. Go into this fall being a better archer than you were last year. Let’s get shooting!


- Eric Clark
Hunting Early Season Whitetails in the Heat
Water is vital for the survival and overall well-being of whitetail deer. During dry seasons or in regions with limited natural water sources, waterholes become critical for sustaining deer populations. 


- Eric Clark
Building Your Own DIY Duck Hunting Boat
Building Your Own Duck Boat

By Jeff Ludeke | PUBLISHED June 11th, 2023

There's a common saying that boat stands for Bust Out Another Thousand (B.O.A.T.). Knowing that boats can become money pits is one of the main reasons some hunters prefer to head out to their local walk-in area or hitch a ride on a buddy’s boat instead. But what if I told you that you could build yourself a nice duck boat for under $5,000, and be able to access your local marsh or river?

With private land access becoming increasingly hard to come by, getting yourself out onto the water can greatly increase your hunting opportunities. Here in the state of Wisconsin, all navigable water is public. Article IX of the Wisconsin Constitution states that navigable waters are “common highways and forever free." If you can access an area legally and keep your feet wet (or boat), you are good to go. 

I've built several of my own duck boats, and even went into detail recently on the UPDUCK podcast, about how I built my own duck hunting boat. My duck boat journey has been a great learning experience on many fronts. When I bought my first Jon boat in high school, I had no idea what I was doing. I learned by making mistakes and evolving my design through many years of duck hunting. If you are reading this blog and are interested in building your first duck boat, I hope this information will help make your journey a little less intimidating, and potentially save you a few dollars. 

I bought my first boat when I was 17 years old. 19 years later, I just finished building my 3rd duck boat.   My latest boat is a 1436 G3 flat bottom boat. For  Jon boats, 1436 means that the boat is 14 feet long and 36 inches wide at the bottom. I settled on a 1436 after considering the types of waters I wanted to navigate, the types of launches in my area, and the number of hunters/dogs I wanted to hunt with. There are many boat configurations to choose from, the important part is analyzing what areas you want to hunt, and then choose a size that best fits those spots. For me, I mostly hunt small rivers with boat “launches” that are usually comprised of dirt paths off the side of a bridge or road. Because of this, keeping my boat small and light was a requirement. In some situations, I have to pull my boat off the trailer onto the ground, and then drag it into the water. Doing this with anything bigger than a 1436 would not be feasible, especially if I'm hunting solo. 

I bought my boat off Facebook marketplace in summer of 2022. I drove down to the Land of Lincoln with cash in my pocket, and picked up an old fishing boat that was, coincidentally, used primarily at a cabin in northern Wisconsin. The hull was in good shape overall, but needed a fresh coat of paint. The trailer looked to be in good shape, but you'll never know for sure until you start diving into your build. 


Purchase the boat and bring it home:

Materials: - Cash (Bank - $1200)

After I got the boat home, the first thing I did was pull the hull off the trailer for a thorough inspection of what I had just bought. Upon doing so, one of the trailer bunks snapped off and sent the boat toppling into the yard.


Fix the bunks and install new trailer lights:


Treated lumber (Hardware store) Bunk carpeting (Amazon - $22) Staples (Hardware store) Trailer light kit (Amazon - $27)

After the trailer was in better shape, it was time to start diving into the hull. I was fortunate enough to find a boat that still had factory paint, and was only used for fishing - us duck hunters tend to beat up our boats. However, the interior of the boat was scratched up and the paint worn off.  I liked the factory color of the boat, and wanted to re-paint the interior. After getting a crazy expensive quote from G3 for spray cans, I decided to head to my local hardware store and see what they had. I pulled off a handle from the boat and had it color matched at the store. I decided to try an ultra-flat Behr outdoor paint. Because my household is currently run by my two young children, I opted to save time and not strip the existing paint. I knew it wouldn’t last as long, but let’s be honest, I’ll just throw another coat on top once it wears off. 

Paint the hull:


Gallon of Ultra-Flat Behr Outdoor paint (Hardware store - $50) Cheap spray gun (Amazon - $30) Air compressor

After a few coats of paint, the boat was looking brand new again. It’s amazing how much a fresh coat of paint can take any old Jon boat and bring it back to life. As I mentioned above, my boat builds have evolved through the years, and I try and make upgrades along the way. For this build, I decided to try out Hydro-Turf. After talking with friends and fellow duck hunters, the Hydro-Turf seemed like a great way to make the boat safer, make the boat quieter, save the paint job, and overall make the boat look a little more badass. By no means is Hydro-Turf necessary, but it does have a lot of benefits. 

Install Hydro-Turf:


Hydro-turf sheet (Amazon - $150) Carpenters square Utility knife 


With the Hydro-Turf installed, it was time to start electrical. Electrical is one of the most time-consuming parts of a boat build. It is very important to have a plan a head of time and know what types of lights, how many lights, and the location of said lights. With a small boat like mine, I didn’t have a need for anything besides lights and a way to start the motor. I wanted a light bar up front, a few interior lights, and navigation lights. I wired everything up to a 2-gang switch panel to run the interior and navigation lights separate from the light bar. This was important in the event you are passing someone in the dark. Some tips for electrical:

Run a bead of silicon caulk between the housing and the clear cover on your light bar. This will help it stay water-tight. Use quick-connects for your wiring to save you time in the winter when you want to remove all of your lighting. Research the wiring on your switch-panel in order to eliminate the permanent light that stays on even when you’re not using the lights. 

Install electrical:


Nilight 20” lightbar w/ harness (Amazon - $40) Nilight 2-gang switch panel (Amazon - $15) LED strip Nav lights (Amazon - $10) LED strip interior lights (Amazon - $14) 3D printed switch box for panel ($0.30) Batteries (1 for lights, 1 for motor) – (Amazon – $120) Battery box (Amazon - $20)  Electrical tubing (Amazon - $15) Wires/connectors/heat-shrink tubing, etc. (Amazon - $100)


The blind is a piece of the project that I went back and forth with. Because my boat is smaller, I wasn’t sure if it was worth constructing another home-made blind. On my previous boats, the blind did not function very effectively, and sometimes ended up being more of a hassle than it was worth. In some situations, you can either stand/sit in shallow water with a marsh stool or find an area that has some surrounding public land to sit on. Despite my best efforts to pass on building a blind, I decided to put another one together. In the end, I’m glad I did. On my last two boats, I’ve had success using Bimini top brackets and caps to construct a basic scissor-style blind. If you have ever been on a pontoon boat with a canopy, the framework is exactly like most boat blinds. The Bimini hardware easily attaches to electrical conduit, swivels to either side of the boat, and is easily removed from storage or transportation. Throw on some camo, and you’re ready to go. 

Build the blind:


Ø3/4 electrical conduit and elbows – (Hardware store - $100) Bimini top eye end caps (Amazon - $10) Bimini top deck hinges (Amazon - $16) Golf practice net – (Amazon - $40) Camo systems netting (Fleet Farm - $150) Raffia grass – (J. Stern - $40) Zip ties – (Hardware store -$10)

Now for the main course, the motor. My previous boat had a Swamp Runner longtail kit paired with a small 212cc predator motor. This set-up was a great starter kit, and got me where I needed to go. However, after buying a 2-foot longer boat, I knew I would need more horsepower. Captaining a “Thai” longtail kit is like steering the Titanic. Because of this, I decided to purchase a Backwater Inc. longtail kit. I headed over to my nearest Harbor Freight and picked up a new 459cc Predator motor. The Backwater kit is all American made, and it shows. This set-up was a huge upgrade from my Thai kit and pushes my 1436 at about 20MPH. 

Install the motor and longtail kit:


Backwater longtail kit – (Backwater inc. -$1400) Predator 459 motor – (Harbor Freight - $450)

Installing a grab bar was a minor upgrade to the boat, but one that required me to get creative. My previous boat had a grab-bar comprised of electrical conduit that was mounted behind the middle seat. My new boat is longer and did not allow me to swap it over. I decided I wanted a grab bar that swiveled down and out of the way for storage, so I purchased a grab bar directly from Backwater Inc. After I mocked up the mounting bracket on the side of the boat, I quickly learned that the sides did not have enough rigidity to support my weight hanging on the handle. I was determined to make the grab bar work, so I found a few pieces of aluminum angle iron, tied it into the ribs on the sidewall, and then celebrated with a beer. The build was complete!

Grab Bar:


Grab bar – (Backwater inc. - $175 ) Angle iron (found in garage)


Time to hunt:


Duck boat rig: - (Total: $4,500)


Overall, I’m very pleased with how this build turned out. I was able to use the boat quite a few times this part waterfowl season, and never had any major issues (aside from sand eating my prop). If you decide to go down the duck boat build road, I hope you've learned a thing or two from my build. 




- Eric Clark
Hunting requires hiding from your target. Don’t depend on camo; rather, depend on cover. A dense cover behind you and some outline-breaking cover in front of you is the ticket. If cover is adequate, spooking game is a lot more difficult.


- Eric Clark
If you are a hunter, failure and success will both be familiar (often more heavy quantities of failure) but failure is not a bad thing. Failure can make you hardened and prepare you for future success.


- Eric Clark
There is a ton of luck involved with any successful turkey harvest, but there is one factor you can control that often determines the success of the hunt and that's persistence.


- Eric Clark
No matter what you post on social media, someone will have an opinion. That opinion often comes with an undertone of negativity. Just because someone doesn't do something the way you would have, doesn't mean it's wrong, yet keyboard cowboys can't seem to help bring other people down. 


- Eric Clark
Killing a turkey is a huge accomplishment and it can happen at any time. Just because you’ve still got tags burning a hole in your pocket doesn’t mean you’re any less likely to get it done. So, stick with the plan if you’re seeing birds, or change it up if you’re not. But keep learning and keep hunting.


- Eric Clark
We can put a lot of pressure on ourselves when it comes to hunting, especially if you devote a large portion of your life to hunting like a lot of hunters often do. That pressure to succeed can be one of the biggest reasons we fail to stick to a plan. Remember that as turkey hunters, we’re not defined by the number of spurs we’ve collected, but by the experience and wisdom we gain through the lessons learned on every hunt.


- Eric Clark
As a traveling turkey hunter, I feel blessed. I get to experience new places and new turkey flocks every year. I get to spend time with some good people and fellowship. I get to test my small brain against a turkey’s. You just can’t beat hunting turkeys in new places.


- Eric Clark
Are you looking to put the odds in your favor this season? Well, I’m going to tell you that the odds are never truly in your favor while turkey hunting but there are some things you can do to increase them. Here are three things you must do to up your odds at a gobbler this year. 


- Eric Clark
You may have heard it said that deer hunting is a 365-day sport. If so, you probably heard it from someone who works in the hunting industry, or at least spends an exorbitant amount of time alone in the woods. While that 365-day model of deer hunting may not ring true for the average hunter, the idea behind it is worth considering. 


- Eric Clark
February can be a perfect time to get a jump on the next one. Sure, with dullish gray skies and the snow piling outdoors, it can be tough to find any motivation. But if you're an Okayest Hunter like me, there are always things to do in preparation for the upcoming season. 


- Eric Clark
Deer hunting and stoic philosophy: two seemingly unrelated pastimes that, upon closer examination, share some striking similarities. As an Okayest Hunter, I've come to realize that the two pursuits have more in common than I'd have have thought.


- Eric Clark
You’ve assessed your goals, you know what areas you failed in, and you know where you’ve succeeded, now where do you go from here. 


- Eric Clark
I don’t think I even loaded the gun; I just sat there thinking about the past for a while. This brought me more joy than harvesting any whitetail and it’s what Ed and my uncle would have wanted to see, my brother and I out in the whitetail woods, carrying on the tradition. 


- Eric Clark

The hunting industry as a whole has caused so many new hunters to grab on so tightly to the notion that the only hunt worth having is one that ends with a 150” grip-and-grin. And we’re all guilty of helping market that belief through buck shaming and “would’ve been a good one next year” comments. 


- Eric Clark

The late season is cold, very cold. Yes we get cold spells in the middle of November but nothing bites like that post-Christmas north wind.

There are things that you can do to help cut the chill. Granted, being some level of cold just comes with the territory of late season hunting.


- Eric Clark
Well the best time of the hunting season has passed and I’m sitting here with a buck tag in my pocket. Some hunters would say “what a shame”. But not me, I love the late season and for many different reasons. Things like cold weather, very few mosquitos and snakes, and hungry deer increase my interest.


- Eric Clark

I graduated, got a job, saved some money, and did some research on how to get one of these western tags. Through online study and guidance from some relatives that lived in Eastern New Mexico I was able to put a plan together for this mule deer trip. The hunt itself was amazing and fairly difficult to pull off but it was the pure logistics that made the hunt almost not happen.


- Eric Clark
I grabbed my bow and bugle tube and walked into the tree line sending off a challenge call. The bull quickly responded. I knew it was thick, and I needed to move fast. So, I asked Dad to stay back while I went after the bull. Going back and forth between cow calls and bugles, I closed the distance on the bull. Finally, it came to the point where I knew he was close.


- Eric Clark
Mounting Deer Hunting Memories
When deciding how to display your trophy there are several factors that you have to consider: money, available space, DIY possibility, and overall aesthetic. Working your way through the previous factors can help point you in the right direction. 


- Eric Clark

At some point in the night, I woke up to the entire bed and floor shaking. It felt like a train was coming through the cabin. 

Kyle points to the top bunk across the room above JJ and screams as loud as he can, "THERE HE IS, RIGHT THERE!!!" Kyle's dad asks, "what the hell are you talking about?"


- Eric Clark
Tree Stand Maintenance: The Quick & Dirty Care Guide

 If I had to make a guess, your stand went from hanging on a tree to hanging on a nail beat into your basement drywall. But, hey, at least it's off the tree, and that's the first step!

In all seriousness, regularly inspecting your whole treestand rig is an important task that shouldn't be overlooked


- Eric Clark
I feel like it would be an injustice to consider any time spent in God’s amazing creation as a waste of time. Breathing in the fresh air, marveling at unique landscapes, and getting to intimately know some of Earth’s most amazing creatures are all benefits of being outside.


- Eric Clark
After a few hundred stories, I noticed patterns in the stories we chose to print. Here are a few reasons those hunting stories rose to the top of the stack and why the others went into the recycling bin. 


- Eric Clark
Listening to hunting podcasts has become the best way to learn new and specific tactics. You can listen to them on the go, pick and choose animal species to hunt, and learn a ton of targeted hunting tactics. But to the Okayest Hunter like myself, it can quickly become overwhelming. I will summarize what I do to get the most out of your listening and help put together the best strategy to tag out this year.


- Eric Clark
The case for the Butt Out tool
There is one particular aspect of field dressing that I find especially tricky. It is sealing off and removing the anal cavity. Here is where a little gadget called the Butt Out tool comes in handy. This tool helps to isolate and close off the intestines – a critical step in the field dressing process. 


- Jim Zumbo
How To Make Venison Taste Great
Venison often gets a bad rap because it typically tastes different than beef. Before getting into this subject, exactly what is venison? Different dictionaries will give you different answers. Basically, it’s the flesh of a wild ungulate. Deer are almost always mentioned when the word venison is used, but in reality you can call elk, antelope, moose, etc venison as well.


- Jim Zumbo
5 Common Mistakes Elk Hunters Make
Elk hunters who venture out west for the first time often make mistakes that will almost guarantee an unfilled tag. Having said that, even hunters who have pursued elk also make mistakes. Here’s what many experienced hunters consider the top 5 mistakes made by elk hunters.


- Jim Zumbo
Choosing an Outfitter
For many serious hunters, accommodations are not terribly important as long as the outfitter gets them into prime game country and offers shooting opportunities. I know avid hunters who would sleep on rocks to get a shot at an elk.


- Jim Zumbo
Does Bear Spray Work For Grizzlies?
Chris Queen was enjoying an elk hunt in northwest Wyoming. He was a game warden and was taking a well-deserved break from his hectic schedule in the fall. Out of nowhere a grizzly bear charged. Chris was carrying a rifle as well as bear spray on a belt holster. He shot the bear with his rifle. The bear piled up in a heap and died a few feet away from him.

The news of the attack made national news. Then came the hate mail. People wanted to know why he had to kill the bear. They said he should have used the bear spray.

Pardon me? Obviously these detractors know nothing about a charging grizzly. Did they really expect the warden to drop his firearm and fumble for his bear spray which may or may not have stopped the bear’s charge? The bear was so close that Chris had only 2 or so seconds to unholster the bear spray and use it. An internal investigation was conducted and Chris Queen was completely cleared of any wrongdoing — as he should have been.

The debate between firearms versus bear spray is endless. Few people are on the fence. Most have strong opinions and won’t budge. Fact is, firearms have worked in some instances and have not in some instances. Same with bear spray. There are many testimonials that address the successful outcome of each, and there are confirmed stories where neither of them worked. By the way, this blog concerns mostly grizzlies but spray is a good idea for defense in the event of a black bear or mountain lion attack as well.

I’m of the opinion that if bear spray never worked, or worked poorly, it would no longer be on the market. Furthermore, forestry and wildlife agencies are enthusiastic about advising the public to carry bear spray. Some agencies require employees to carry bear spray in the field.

In my hometown of Cody, Wyoming, the Game and Fish Department annually gives out 100 cans of free bear spray to the public. It’s on a first come-first served basis. At the give-away, state G & F officials demonstrate how quickly a bear can charge and what it takes to discharge the spray. A wooden bear, almost life size, is placed on two rails. The “victim” stands at the end of the rails 30 feet away, looking in the opposite direction. A warden next to the bear sends it down the track. At the same time a warden next to the victim shouts, “BEAR” and the victim quickly turns around and tries to spray the bear. (The canister is filled with water). This demo seldom goes smoothly, even though the victim is grasping the canister in his hand when he spins around to spray the bear. In real life the canister is usually worn on a belt or a chest holster where it takes more time to retrieve and activate the trigger. It takes 3 seconds or less for the bear to travel the 30 feet to the victim which means the victim has to move swiftly.  This demo shows the speed required to spray the bear, but the victim is aware of the situation and is ready. In real life when you’re in the woods you’ll be totally surprised if a bear suddenly appears out of nowhere and can be on you in seconds. For this reason it’s advised to test fire your can of spray, but do so when you can spray downwind, and only for a very short burst. You want to conserve as much spray that you can in the canister.

You’re no doubt aware of pepper spray used for defense against humans. It’s often carried in a purse or pocket and comes in a small canister. There’s some confusion because all sprays are called pepper sprays but there’s a world of difference. Both are considered defensive tools designed to temporarily incapacitate a human attacker or wild animal. Bear spray is usually far more potent than pepper spray because its primary targets are large wild animals.

Bear spray is formulated with capsaicin, an active ingredient derived from chili peppers and other ingredients. Pepper spray is usually formulated with oleoresin capsicum which is a synthetic form of capsaicin.

Another difference is the duration of the effects. Bear spray is more potent and has a longer lasting effect than pepper spray. Also, the active ingredients in bear spray can remain in the air for around 90 seconds while only a few seconds for pepper spray.  Importantly, bear spray can be deployed a much greater distance — up to 30 or 40 feet, while pepper spray typically reaches out to 8 to 10 feet.

Bear spray attacks the eyes, nose, mouth and respiratory system to the point where a charging grizzly hit by spray is apt to turn and run off. Obviously, considering that wind direction is important, not many of us are able and willing to dope out the wind when a bear is two seconds away from mauling you. Take your chances and shoot.

Very importantly, do NOT carry your bear spray in your backpack or any pack.  This might seem to be useless information, but you’d be surprised how many people do exactly that.

I have a writer friend who wanted to experience what it was like to be hit by bear spray. He had a buddy spray him. He said he was immediately debilitated. He fell to the ground with profound pain in his eyes, nose and throat. He had difficulty breathing. It took several minutes before he could see again and breathe normally. Dumb move on his part? Yes, but he now knew that the stuff worked. Before being sprayed he was a serious critic.

Experts advise that you deploy all the spray when a bear is charging. Don’t use short bursts. Most sprays will last 8 or 10 seconds. Hold the can firmly after removing the trigger guard and hold it low so the bear runs into it. Holding it too high may cause it to spray over the bear, rendering it ineffective.  If your companion is being mauled, do not hesitate to spray him and the bear if you have to. Your buddy will hopefully recover from the mauling and you’ll save his life. Being hit and distressed by the spray is a tiny price to pay for running the bear off.

Sprays have interesting histories. One of the best known is an incident experienced by Mark Methany who was attacked by a grizzly in 1992 while bowhunting for elk in Montana with his buddy, Dr. Fred Bohnson. The grizzly charged and began mauling Mark. His buddy reacted immediately by spraying the attacking bear with a very small 4 ounce can of pepper spray. The bear ran off. Fortunately, the doctor got Mark out of the woods into the emergency room without further incident. Mark suffered extensive bites, lacerations to the head and neck, superficial body lacerations to the right arm, and also to the chest. He stayed conscious but lost approximately one unit of blood. Mark’s wounds would have been much worse if not fatal if his hunting partner had not sprayed the bear. Mark believed he was extremely lucky and realized that running out of pepper spray, as had the can the doctor used, could’ve been a big problem. He thought that a better product and education were needed and would never recommend using a pepper spray made for humans against a bear. He went on to develop UDAP spray from his experience. Mark’s mauling changed his life since founding the spray. He has been a relentless bear deterrent advocate. His goal from the start was not just to sell spray, but also to help educate the public about the causes, prevention, and realities of bear attacks and how to successfully defend yourself against them.

As I mentioned, many forestry and wildlife agencies require their employees to carry spray in the field. They have no choice — it’s mandatory. There are countless advocates for bear spray who have harrowing stories to tell about bear attacks that were prevented because of bear spray or attacks that were actively in progress and the bear spray ran them off.

Carrying bear spray is a personal choice. If you’re in country inhabited by grizzlies, black bears or lions you might consider carrying it. On the other hand you might prefer the option of carrying a handgun. Either way, when you’re in prime grizzly country you’ll feel far more comfortable when you’re carrying something to defend yourself. A branch or rock doesn’t work.
- Jim Zumbo
Stopping A Grizzly Bear Charge With A Firearm
After long months of anxiously awaiting elk season, you’re finally in the woods with bow in hand and an elk tag in your pocket. Suddenly you’re startled by something crashing in the woods. You’re horrified when you see a grizzly charging toward you.


- Jim Zumbo
What you should know about grizzly bears
There are several reasons why a grizzly will charge you....


- Jim Zumbo
The Wonderful Brook Trout
More than 100 years ago well-meaning folks transported brook trout from their native range in the east to the streams and creeks in the Rockies. At the time the only native trout in the Rockies were cutthroats that occupied lakes, rivers and creeks.


- Ted Ramirez
Planning Your Own Alaska Fishing Adventure

Denali on a clear day!

It’s not too late to plan a summer adventure in Alaska. Now is the ideal time to visit the Last Frontier and experience fishing for species like salmon and halibut. 

Based on a recent Caribou Gear trip to Alaska, we thought we’d provide a review and some ideas for planning your own Alaska fishing adventure. 

Alaska Ocean Pros
Captain Gabe Linegar and Crew


Whether it’s fishing or hunting, one of the keys to planning a successful trip to Alaska is to plan early. With spring into summer salmon runs and great halibut fishing, June, and July in Alaska is no secret, but let's not forget fall silver runs. Everything from hotels to fishing guides will book up quickly. So start your planning as soon as possible. 

Alaska hunters you're already here!  September is still good fishing for silvers, so before you head home plan a DIY, or book a guided fishing trip. 

The main items you’ll want to check off your list first include airfare, hotels, rental car and fishing charters or guides.

When we visited Alaska, one of the biggest pinch points was finding a rental car. Since COVID, many rental car companies have reduced their fleets. But with so many people seeking outdoor recreation, the fishing season in Alaska was still as busy as ever. This meant that rental cars were in high demand, but still available.  

Your hotel stays and your rental car dates will largely depend on where you’ll be fishing. So assuming you’d like to charter a halibut boat or book a river float trip for salmon, we’d recommend starting with those services and book them as soon as possible. From there, you can work backward through your trip itinerary, lining up hotel rooms, transportation and airfare.


For a great Alaska fishing adventure, we’d recommend flying into Anchorage and starting your trip from there. Airfare from hubs in the lower 48 is relatively reasonable. And from Anchorage, you can easily access some outstanding fishing locations. 

We rented a car in Anchorage, and drove from there out to Homer and Kachemak Bay. This scenic drive can take between four and five hours and is a great way to experience this part of Alaska. 

We highly recommend a rental car for getting around because it allows you to make stops, take side-trips and generally be on your own schedule. There are buses and tours available – but being on your own agenda and timetable adds a lot of freedom to the trip. On the trip down to Homer from Anchorage, Seward is a worthwhile detour, for example. In Homer, be sure to check out the Salty Dawg Saloon, where dollar bills cover every inch of the walls and ceilings. 


Lodging options for an Alaska fishing trip can range from hotels, to cabins, VRBO rentals and even campgrounds. When you book your fishing charter or guide services, try asking them if they have recommendations in the area. Additionally, do your own research to find an ideal spot based on your budget and expectations for the trip.

For example, if you’re trying to do the trip on a shoestring budget, something like a KOA campground might be the ticket. If you’re traveling with a group of friends or family, renting a VRBO house might be the best option. Or if you’re hoping for a relaxing stay and a comfortable bed after a long day of fishing, there are some good hotels to choose from.

Whatever you decide, book it early! This will help you secure the best possible price for your stay. When hotels only have a few rooms left, they tend to increase the prices for the remaining rooms. By the time fishing season in Alaska is approaching, hotels and other accommodations can get very expensive.


I was offered a chance to hunt a nuisance black bear.  GOT EM! 

Sharon with a fine cod. In fact she ended up catching more and bigger fish on this trip, but the king below was mine!  


The highlight of our fishing trip was open ocean fishing for halibut. On that trip, we saw humpback whales, killer whales, walrus, seals, otters and more. Plus, we came home with some excellent Alaskan halibut.

Alaska Ocean Pros fishing boat called the Casino

We did our fishing with Alaska Ocean Pros, operated by Captain Gabe Linegar and fabulous crew. We fished off their boat called the Casino, a smooth fast catamaran boat.  What an outstanding experience!  Depending on the time of year and the type of fishing you’re interested in, there are also opportunities to fish for cod, rockfish and other ocean species. Just so you know we bought all of the above. Caption Gabe and crew were very helpful, entertaining and simply made sure everyone caught fish!   

In addition to fishing trips, Alaska Ocean Pros offers self-guided black bear hunts, providing the boat, on-board lodging and meals for the trip. These hunts can be combined with halibut fishing, making it an ultimate spring adventure in Alaska. 

DIY Fishing 

DIY: My good friend Louis Cusack and I.
We caught our fair share of sockeye, a little walk from the crowd. 

There are also opportunities to fish the area’s rivers for spring run salmon. In fact, DIY anglers can find excellent fishing for sockeye salmon this time of year. If you do any DIY fishing, make sure you know the exact regulations – regulations are different on every river and in each location. 

For example, the Russian River is a great place to find DIY salmon fishing. But fishing is only allowed on one side of the river (the side opposite the highway). So anglers must take a ferry across the river before they are allowed to fish. Finding places to fish and learning these regulations can take some legwork. But anglers who do that work, learn what fishing techniques to use, and make appropriate plans, can be rewarded with some excellent DIY salmon fishing. 

It can get a little crowded

Here's a tip: go to the nearest tackle shop and ask what flossing is, or better yet ask what flys are best for flossing. Be sure to buy split shot line weights. After you have your tackle and fish stringer go to the river and observe. You'll be looking for the rig set ups and fishing technique of the locals. Ask questions as many will be happy to help Alaska's newcomer or greenhorn, called a "Cheechako".
Last but not least, when you hook up, you better hang on!!!

For more information about the Russian River Ferry          

Russian River Ferry at Sportsman's Landing
This is a must for a DIY great time!   

Guided Salmon Fishing

Alternatively, there are excellent opportunities to hire a guide service for float trips down wild and scenic Alaska Rivers. Depending on the river and the time of year, this can open opportunities to fishing for king salmon and more. Like everything else, if you wish to do some guided salmon fishing, book those services as early as possible to secure the best dates, locations and guides. 

Getting Your Fish Home 

With most charters and guided fishing services, they will offer options to process your fish. Once your fish are filleted, there are many local places to take your fish to have them flash frozen into vaccum-sealed bags. 

We took our halibut to a local processor, where they flash froze and vacuum-sealed them for us. From there, we purchased a fish box, and shipped it back home. In Alaska, this is an everyday thing and not at all difficult or complicated. No matter where you’re fishing, there are options for getting your fish home. If you’re not sure where to begin, ask your guide service for recommendations. Or, you can always ask for recommendations at your hotel or inquire with local businesses.


Ready to plan your Alaska fishing adventure? Don’t wait! Now is the time to line up the logistics for a trip during the peak fishing season. If you have questions, please feel free to contact the great folks at Alaska Ocean Pros. If you need gear for this adventure or any of your upcoming trips, check out our gear right here at Right off the top we recommend our Koyukon Duffel Bags and rain poncho (did we mention it rains a lot!) We’d be happy to help you pick out the right items for your next fishing or hunting trip.
Koyukon Duffel Bags

Homer Harbor D23, Homer Alaska 99603
Phone 907-299-7498

- Jim Zumbo
Why Do We Miss?
Missing an animal with a rifle bullet is part of hunting. Sometimes we absolutely know why we miss, sometimes we think we know why we miss, and sometimes we’re dumbfounded and can’t explain it. There are many, many variables.


- Jim Zumbo
So You Want To Be A Hunting Guide?
As in every job, there are drawbacks, but for the person who really wants to work in the outdoors, a guiding profession might just be the answer.


- Jim Zumbo
The Hunting Guide You Can Do Without
One of the factors that should never occur is having an incompetent guide. Let me say right off that the majority of guides are savvy outdoorsmen and understand something about human behavior. Then there are those who do not.


- Jim Zumbo
We Are Our Own Worst Enemy
So what’s all the big fuss about? Who cares if hunters complain about other hunters? Isn’t it natural to whine and snivel about new technologies that are different than ours? Fact is, these arguments don’t go unnoticed by the anti’s.


- Jim Zumbo
WXRifle Shield- A new take in rifle protection
The WXRifle Shield will allow your firearm to ride comfortably in your ATV where state laws require a gun to be transported in a case. Unlike a standard soft gun case, the firearm can be easily and quickly accessed from the WXRifle Shield if necessary.


- Jim Zumbo
Never Trust A Store Clerk
In everyday life we’re required to trust many things, whether it’s human or inanimate. But I’ve learned over the years that when it comes to hunting regulations you need to personally confirm the rules.


- Jim Zumbo
Bear Baiting Basics
Bottom line, baiting is a divisive issue among hunters. Fact is, every aspect of hunting has its detractors and supporters among hunters.


- Jim Zumbo
Black Bear Hunting In The Spring
Due to the furtive nature of bears and the fact that they’re largely nocturnal, it’s not easy to see them in the woods. In the spring, however...


- Jim Zumbo
If You've Never Hunted Turkeys Read This!
With turkey seasons open in the U.S., many of us see this as a big deal. We’ve been waiting for turkey season for many months. That’s why I find it so peculiar that many big game hunters are totally disinterested in pursuing the big birds, especially since not much is going on in the woods in the spring.


- Jim Zumbo
The Difference Between Unethical Hunting And Unlawful Hunting
When it comes to wildlife violations there are several basic types of violators.


- Jim Zumbo
Nonresidents: How To Hunt Big Game On A Budget
Many American hunters dream and fantasize about hunting in the west, but if they’re nonresidents in the state they want to hunt the dream may never become reality because of the expense.


- Jim Zumbo
Are You Ready For Turkey Season?
Now is the time to prepare for turkey hunting, but before we discuss calls, gear, and hunting strategies, it’s essential to first determine where you’ll hunt.


- Jim Zumbo
Just Bugs
Waterfowl migrate back north, bears crawl out of their dens, and songbirds begin building their nests. And then come the bugs — all kinds of bugs, some good, some bad.


- Jim Zumbo
Calling All Coyotes
For the most part it’s the coyote that attracts the most off-season hunters. They’re plentiful, live everywhere, and are challenging and fun to hunt.


- Jim Zumbo
What Is The Toughest Big Game Animal To Hunt In The Rocky Mountains?
Some animals are far easier than others to hunt, and some require a great deal of physical effort. Let’s take a brief at look at each species.


- Jim Zumbo
The Most Important Virtue In Hunting
There are many virtues the hunter must have in order to be successful, but one is far more important than the others. Can you guess what it is?


- Jim Zumbo
Competition Among Hunters- A Serious Dilemma
All of us that hunt are keenly aware of rivalry that exists in the woods. Everywhere, even on private land where hunter numbers are controlled. Competition is much more prevalent on public lands where hunters can roam at will.


- Jim Zumbo
The Toughest Game Laws Of All
Of all the laws pertaining to big game, it’s my belief that the requirement of determining a legal animal by making a field judgement call on antler or horn measurements is the most difficult to abide by.


- Jim Zumbo
Is A Drop Camp For You?

This sounds like the perfect answer to those who want a DIY hunt — but are there pitfalls? Indeed. There may be enough negatives to turn your hunt into a nightmare. Let’s explore what it takes for a drop camp to be successful.      Written by: Jim Zumbo


- Jim Zumbo
Shed Antler Hunting 101
Many deer and elk hunters consider antlers to be a major part of the pursuit. But those antlers have another value. Each year, in mid to late winter, all members of the deer family ( all subspecies of deer, elk, moose and caribou) shed their antlers.... Heres what you need to know for your shed hunting adventure.    Written by: Jim Zumbo


- Ryan McSparran
3 Steps for Effective Off-Season Archery and Rifle Practice
Next year's hunting seasons might seem distant. But it’s critical to continue archery and rifle practice, to begin a New Year of hunting with confidence.


- Ryan McSparran
Game Bags By Species: Which Caribou Gear Game Bags to Use

Which game bags should you use for different big game species? Here is a simple guide to our Caribou Gear game bags, listed by species.


- Bob McMichael
…a thrush sings…Its fresh-peeled voiceAstonishing the brickwork… — Philip Larkin Gestation Thanks to my mom, I love birds. A barn swallow pair made a beautiful and precarious mud nest this spring on a beam just below the ceiling of our front porch. Their second batch of chicks is about to fledge. I Am Here I …
- Bob McMichael
More Shirts and Hoodies!
We ordered some cool new “Military Green” Bucking Chukar hoodies, as well as resurrected the Chukar Culture t-shirts! Also, we added a few 2XL Bucking Chukar t-shirts since we sold out of those almost immediately last time. And we still have a handful of the burnt orange Bucking Chukar shirts left, so check them out …
- Bob McMichael
Chukar Shirts Back In Stock!
To celebrate our return to chukar country, we’ve resurrected the Hells Canyon Beer Bucking Chukar t-shirts, in three new colors (Olive, Burnt Orange, and Steel Blue). Limited stock, so get ’em while they last. And make sure you read the description carefully: they run a wee bit small. We’re considering doing some hoodies, and we …
- Bob McMichael
Went on a short walk with the dogs today. Following them across a freshly snowed baseball field, I noticed their prints paralleling each other, in sets of four paws, like words on a page. Morse code. Tab (if you’re a guitarist). Braille in the negative. Then I noticed the two dogs’ sets were mirror images …
- Bob McMichael
Scooping Arcs
In some coincidence, by one, I’ve found myself reading a lot about the Arctic lately. I’d always known it was up there, waiting. Well, not really. It never needed me. But I’d always felt a little guilty somehow. Ignorance. Maybe that accounts for why. Anyway, first was Barry Lopez’s Arctic Dreams, which took a while …
- Bob McMichael
“The short man followed, limping, terrific, crablike.” Nearly through reading 900 pages of Faulkner short stories, and can’t get rid of the sentence above. For some reason. Yesterday, while doing research for a story I’m writing, I came across a Cree word that any bird hunter would appreciate: “Papêtikwâskopaniow.” I wish I could pretend I …
- Leslie McMichael
All Imperfect Things
I got a sick queasy feeling deep in my stomach as we detoured and drove into rural Council, Idaho. The curbside spot right out front of the local veterinary office was the exact spot where we’d parked the bright red Jeep two years before and it was empty and waiting for us. Just like the …
- Bob McMichael
Starts to Be
Do you believe in miracles? –Al Michaels, 1980 And I, whose childhood Is a forgotten boredomFeel like a child Who comes on a sceneOf adult reconciling, And can understand nothingBut the unusual laughter,And starts to be happy–Philip Larkin, from “Coming” The animals are endlessly regenerated, and yet they are finite. I am more powerful than …
- Bob McMichael
…and those receive me, who quietly treat me, as one familiar and well-beloved in that home: but will not, oh, will not, not now, not ever; but will not ever tell me who I am. –James Agee, A Death in the Family We’ve had Bloom a little more than a year now. He’s an odd …
- Bob McMichael
Soon we’ll head east to the west we’ve missed. Chukar season is on in Idaho, and we’ll have tried-and-true Peat and apparent prodigy Bloom with us in our travels to new (for us) and familiar places. We are excited. I’m so excited I made a silly little video of Peat. I’ll probably post one of …
- Gary Harpole
Opening Weekend of Duck Season! Few Spots Remaining!

September 28th, 2023 Duck Hunting Lodge Update- “Are you ready for some heart-pumping waterfowl hunting action? We certainly are! Our team has been working tirelessly brushing in blinds for the upcoming season. Book Your 2023 Opening Weekend Duck and Goose Hunt Today! We only have THREE spots remaining! For more details call 217-734-2526 or E-Mail

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The post Opening Weekend of Duck Season! Few Spots Remaining! appeared first on Heartland Lodge.

- Gary Harpole
Late September Whitetail Scouting Update

If you’re like me and you’re not too fond of this end of summer heat… your mind starts to wonder to those frost ridden mornings of October and November of the past. With only a few days to go before the archery season opens, you begin to finalize your October game plan. Maybe you already

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The post Late September Whitetail Scouting Update appeared first on Heartland Lodge.

- Gary Harpole
Guided Whitetail Doe Hunts

Over the last 28 years of whitetail outfitting many things have changed in the whitetail hunting world, one thing has stayed the same: hunters love to eat venison. At the lodge we have seen more and more interest in harvesting does for meat to bring home, whether it be for the holiday tradition or for

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- Gary Harpole
Hunting Preserve in Illinois-Orvis Endorsed

Wingshooting is one of the most time-honored traditions, linking like-minded people from coast to coast together by fine pointing dogs and fine guns. Since the birth of the United States, the chase of upland game was done for necessity, sport, and excitement. Hunting preserves, like the Orvis, endorsed Harpole’s Heartland Lodge, seek to keep these

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- Gary Harpole
Shooting Tips For Pheasant Hunters

Shooting Tips For Pheasant Hunters
by Chris Larsen

Ask just about any guide what the best way to fill a limit of pheasants is and he'll likely tell you good shooting. If you kill 75% of the roosters flushed, it only takes 4 flushes to fill a limit.

The post Shooting Tips For Pheasant Hunters appeared first on Heartland Lodge.

- Gary Harpole
Family Holiday Upland Hunting Package

Start your next family holiday tradition this season at Heartland Lodge! This year we are offering our “Family Holiday Upland/ Waterfowl Combo Hunt Package”! There’s no better way to experience a Midwestern Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s than at the lodge! Bring home delicious upland game and waterfowl to your next family holiday get-together. I

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- Gary Harpole
The Drawing Power of a Thicket for Whitetails

Food plots have taken all the luster of today’s whitetail hunting era. Food plots undoubtedly help in attracting and holding deer, but few people realize the potential a small thicket can create for a phenomenal treestand location. The cover and food that a thicket creates will hold and attract mature whitetails season after season. Advantages

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The post The Drawing Power of a Thicket for Whitetails appeared first on Heartland Lodge.

- Gary Harpole
All Inclusive Deer Hunting Vacation Packages

Heartland Lodge offers the best all-inclusive deer hunting vacation packages available throughout the Midwest. We offer 100% free range deer hunts that includes everything a hunter needs to make a great deer hunting trip. Our deer hunting vacation packages include all the meals, 5-star lodging, and transportation to and from the hunter’s stand. Coming to

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The post All Inclusive Deer Hunting Vacation Packages appeared first on Heartland Lodge.

- Gary Harpole
Tips For Opening Day Pheasant Hunting

Tips For Opening Day Pheasant Hunting
By Chris Larsen

Opening day of pheasant season is a lot like the first day of school. Everyone is wearing their fancy new clothes, people are wandering around aimlessly, and lessons are about to be learned. Hun

The post Tips For Opening Day Pheasant Hunting appeared first on Heartland Lodge.

- Gary Harpole
Rifle Hunting in Illinois

Rifle Hunting in Illinois Deer Hunting Laws Whitetail hunters across the state of Illinois will soon be able to use rifles for deer hunting (**starting the fall of 2023**). The new rifle hunting laws in Illinois allow for a “single” shot or a rifle with the ability to only hold one shell and no other

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The post Rifle Hunting in Illinois appeared first on Heartland Lodge.

- admin
The Do-It-All Gun – .270 Winchester
Written by: James House For about 115 years, the .30-06 Springfield has been the favorite caliber for many hunters and target shooters. In more recent years, the .308 Winchester and several other calibers have achieved great popularity. Growing up as I did I read all the gun literature that I could find (or afford) and […]
- Camron Stover
Ticks can pose a threat to outdoor enthusiasts, as they are carriers of tick-borne diseases. Knowing how to protect yourself from ticks is crucial for enjoying the great outdoors safely. This comprehensive guide will provide you with effective preventive measures and tips to minimize the risk of tick bites and the potential health complications they […]
- Camron Stover
Defining Hunting:  Sport, Pastime, or Hobby?
Once we can define hunting for ourselves, only then can we help others connect the benefits of hunting to the act of killing.  When we do this, it will help us recruit new hunters and hopefully convince the anti-hunting community that hunting has its place in our society and is a proven conservation method that we can use to ensure the success of our wildlife for generations to come.
- Camron Stover
‘Twas the night before bow season, when all through the house; Not a hunter was sleeping, not even their spouse.
- Camron Stover
How to Use AmmoSquared to Increase Your Ammo Stash
- Camron Stover
Buying quality hunting gear on a budget may seem like a daunting task but I’m here to help.  Not everyone can afford to buy a new bow every year or chase the latest gear craze that’s sweeping the industry.  However, savvy shoppers know how to maximize their dollars to get high-quality hunting gear at a great price. 
- Camron Stover
With my obsession with whitetail deer hunting, I’m always looking for hunting gear that will enhance my hunting experience, especially in the toughest conditions. When the temperature drops below freezing, I grab my Sitka Fanatic jacket and bib to keep warm even though I’m sitting all day. I’ve been wearing Sitka Gear since their second […]
- Camron Stover
SITKA’S New Mountain Evo Jacket is Made for the Most Extreme Hunting Adventures
The Mountain Evo Jacket is available in black as well as OPTIFADE Open Country and Subalpine patterns, catering to a wide range of outdoor pursuits that require a pack, including hunting, mountain biking, backpacking, and backcountry skiing.
- admin
Game over
Man I have never had so much optimism hunting one buck, then had so many first hand encounters with him but have him walk away unscathed every single time. I named him Lucky and he seems to live a charmed life. On Saturday evening, my last night, I went back to my stand on the north […]
- Camron Stover
Four Generations Succeed in Harvesting Bucks from the Same Blind
Learn how four generations of hunters each harvested a buck from the same blind in one season.
- Patrick Morgan
How To Choose The Right Type Of Arrow Tips [Hunting & Practice]

Choosing the right arrow tip can make a big impact on performance for both hunting and target shooting.

The good thing is the fact that there are limited choices for what's available, meaning you don't have to spend endless amounts of time picking the best option for you.

The article below is going to summarize the three main categories of arrow points, as well as the different types within each of them. From there, I'm going to give a quick summary and the pros and cons associated with each pick.

Practice Arrow Tips

The following list contains the different practice arrow tips:

Practice Arrow Tips

1. Field Points

Field points, or field tips, are more often than not the general term used to describe any practice arrow tip, but this name does define a specific type.

Traditional field points are largely used for target practice, but can also be utilized for small game hunting in certain situations. 

Field points have a conical shape, meaning they have a very narrow tip that expands to a wide base so the arrow has high penetration while not getting stuck in the target.

These are great from the novice that just picked out their beginner compound bow, to an experienced competition archer!

Pros Used For Hunting & Target Shooting Tracks Well High Penetration Cons Somewhat Difficult To Remove May Penetrate/Break Other Arrows 2. Bullet Points

Unlike the field points, bullet points are used solely for target practice.

As the name suggests, these tips are shaped in a similar fashion to standard bullets, having a full conical shape. In other words, it pretty much has the same diameter from end to end.

Additionally, if you're looking for a relatievely cheap option, this might be your pick!

Pros Very Easy To Remove Doesn't Eat Up Targets Most Affordable Point Cons Doesn't Track As Well For Competition Shooting Only Used For Targets Minimal Penetration 3. Target Points

As you can guess by the name, these points are designed solely for target practice.

Target points are usually shaped with a very hard-edge, direct cone design to improve consistency and accuracy. Additionally, this build allows for one of the highest penetrations available when it comes to practice options.

Many archers say these fly similarly to their broadheads, making it an easier transition from target practice to hunting.

Pros Very Consistent Deep Penetration Great Practice Point For Hunters Cons Difficult To Remove From Targets Relatively High-Priced 4. Combo Points

Combo points have a very similar shape to the aforementioned field point.

This point has a narrow conical shape with a more smooth transition from the tip to the base. As a result, these offer many of the same qualities as a field point, but with a little less friction when removing from archery targets.

Additionally, they can be used for both targets and small game hunting.

Pros Hybrid Hunting/Target Point Great Aerodynamics Easy To Remove From Targets Cons May Penetrate/Break Other Arrows 5. Pin Points

When it comes to competition shooting, pin points are going to be your top pick.

These points have a straight, rigid angle from the base to the tip, making it a straight flying, high penetrating target point. 

While these aren't commonly used by hunters, they track extremely well for competition archers looking to get any advantage available to them.

Pros Very Accurate Great Tracking High Penetration Cons Difficult To Find Somewhat Expensive Not Easy To Remove From Target Hunting Arrow Tips

The following list contains the different hunting arrow tips:

Hunting Arrow Tips

1.Mechanical Blade Broadheads

Over the past 10 to 20 years, mechanical blade broadheads have grown in popularly due to their unique designs and wide cutting power.

Unlike the broadheads mentioned below, a mechanical broadhead's blade are hidden or pinned down during the flight of the arrow. Upon impact, the blades rotate backward and expand, creating a large cutting diameter.

Since the blades are tucked in during flight, they usually produce straighter and more consistent flight patterns. However, since the impact ultimately causes the expansion to occur, a much stronger and faster bow is required.

Pros Consistent Flight Patterns Wide Cutting Diameters Variety Of Options Cons Potential Flaws With Blades Not Opening Requires Heavier Poundage Bows 2. Fixed Blade Broadheads

Fixed blade broadheads are the most popular style of hunting arrow tips, mainly because they've been around for so long.

As the name suggests, these hunting tips have fixed blades (anywhere from 2 to 6) attached to the head.

Since they have no moving parts, many hunters like the consistency and reliability of these broadheads.

Pros Minimal Error Possibilities Reliable Construction Very Strong Cons Blades Might Get Ruined Smaller Cutting Diameter 3. Removable Blade Broadheads

As you might have guessed, hunters took the design of the fixed blade broadhead and made some slight improvements. From there, we have what you call the removable blade broadhead.

The design of the removable broadhead is almost exaclty the same as the fixed blade, but these have removable blades.

The removable blade options allows hunters to keep the head of the broadhead as is, and replace the blades if any damage occurs... extending the life of these tips.

Pros Removable Blade Design Reliable Construction Cons Not As Strong As Fixed Smaller Cutter Diameter 4.Single Bevel Broadheads

Although you could categorize this under a fixed blade broadhead, I thought it might be important to call this one out separately.

Single bevel are different as they are usually a solid, single-piece broadhead with only two blades. And as the name would suggest, they are only beveled on one side, as compared to two on standard broadheads. 

Many hunters like the s-haped cutting pattern of the single bevel, and say that it's the perfect match to break bone.

Pros Hard Hitting Power Spinning Cutting Penetration Cons Hard To Fix Once Damaged Must Sharpen Routinely Other Arrow Tips

The following list contains a few additional miscellaneous practice arrow tips:

1. Bludgeon Tips

Bludgeon tips offer a very different type of lethality - one that's not related to your standard points.

These points are primarily used for small game hunting, and use blunt force trauma to extinguish the target game - not through cutting or penetration. 

Most bludgeon tips have a flared head that either screw into the insert of the arrow, or that go directly over the field point. 

Additionally, since they do not have sharp points, a missed arrow can be easily found as it will not slide under grass or brush.

2. Blunt Tips

Very similar to bludgeon tips, some archers routinely use blunt tips for small game hunting as well.

When it comes down to it, there's really not much of a difference. The cylinder shape is used to transfer blunt force to the game being hunted without any penetration. 

Overall, you might say that blunt tips are just a "watered-down" version of bludgeon tips.

3. Judo Points

The most unique arrow point on this list has to be the judo point. They are called "judo" points as the tip easily grabs onto objects around it.

This point consists of a blunt or sharp point surround by three to four extending arms around the tip. These tips help the arrow latch onto brush, preventing it from sliding under grass or sticks. As a result, the easier arrow to find if you ever miss the target.

The structure of this point makes them ideal for field archery or small game, as again, they are easy to find if ever lost.

4. Fish Points

Another uniquely designed point, with a very specific purpose, is a fish point. 

This field point style tip has an added screw-off or retractable barb that flares out from the tip so the fish doesn't slide off once punctured.

As you might expect, these tips are solely made for bowfishing, and are not be used for target practice.

Different Materials For Arrow Points Tungsten Points vs. Stainless Steel Points

When it comes to arrow tips, most are going to be made out of steel. However, there tungsten points are an option for a few reasons.

Tungsten is more dense than steel, meaning it takes a far less amount of tungsten to equal the same weight as steel. Additionally, these points are much tougher than steel points, and since they are so tough they cost much, much more.

While it may not matter to many everyday hunters or target shooters, for those that want a slight edge, and an improved FOC, you might want to entertain switching to a tungsten point.

Arrow Point FAQs 1. Which Arrow Points Are Best For Shooting Bag Targets, Foam Targets, or Grass-Type Targets?

- Bullet points are the best arrow points for bag targets.

- Combo points are the best arrow points for foam targets.

- Field points are the best arrow points for grass-type targets

Also, we have a great blog summarizing the different Ways To Carry A Bow While Hunting!

- Patrick Morgan

Getting your start in any new endeavor can be tough, but being a beginner in archery and bowhunting might be the most difficult pursuit out there. As someone who grew up in this world, I often take it for granted when tasked with teaching someone new. There’s a lot to learn, and even more mistakes to be made.

To help guide you on your path, we’ve compiled a list of the most common mistakes that beginner archers will usually make. If you can do your best to avoid these ten mistakes, you will be well on your way to becoming a proficient bowhunter in no time!

1. Choosing the Wrong Equipment

If you don’t get started off on the right foot, you’re bound to make more errors down the road. This is why it’s crucial to select and use the right gear (including your beginner compound bow) from the start. Try to match the equipment to your personal skill level, strength, and intended use.

If you need help with this, don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions at the archery shop, e.g. how much should you spend on a bow. By starting with the right gear, you will not only start out better but avoid buying more gear once you realize it’s not what you need.

2. Incorrect Draw Length

While I don’t see this mistake as often as others here on our list, it’s still important to have a proper draw length. The wrong length can be uncomfortable, inaccurate, and potentially even dangerous in some cases. Ensure you have the right draw length for your body and this will help lead to more accurate shooting and equipment that fits you.

3. Poor Posture

Complete beginners to archery should spend a great deal of time focusing on their archery form. This includes things such as your stance, grip, and of course, your posture.

While it may not seem like a big deal, how you position your body and torso while shooting can have a giant effect on just how accurate your shooting will be. The right posture will also help you properly draw your bow and ensure that your shooting stays as consistent as possible.

4. Too Much Draw Weight

One of the most common mistakes I see is having an improper draw weight. For hunting, there are generally minimum restrictions on how little your draw weight can be but the real problem lies in people thinking they need more weight than they can comfortably handle.

Having too heavy of a draw weight will cause fatigue and bad habits to form. It is much better to start out with a lower, more manageable draw weight and slowly increase it (if you want to) as your skills and stamina allow.

5. Inconsistent Anchor Points

Another aspect of archery form, anchor points are specific points on your body that you use as a reference to ensure consistent shooting. For example, I bring my release aid to the corner of my mouth when I shoot. Other anchor points could be placing the string, fingers, or release along certain points of your nose, cheekbone, or chin. Without using the same anchor points every time, your shooting will be inconsistent and you will be left wondering why you can’t get your arrows to hit the same spot on your archery target.

6. Improper Grip

An easy way of sending arrows erratically down range is to grip your bow too tightly. This causes torque and can result in a decrease in accuracy and consistency. To combat this, simply try holding your bow with a loose grip and relaxed fingers. Keep the knuckles on your hand at a 45-degree angle and you should almost “cradle” the bow in between your thumb and index finger. Remember, less is more when holding the bow!

7. Shooting the Wrong Arrow

Your arrows, including other parts such as the nock, fletching, inserts, etc., should be matched to your bow. This means that the arrow you are shooting is specifically chosen to match your individual draw weight, length, and equipment. Arrows that are too long or too short will not be as accurate (and might even be dangerous). The same can be said for arrows that are too light or too heavy. To get the best results, talk with an expert to ensure your arrows match you and your gear.

8. Neglecting Tuning/Upkeep

Nothing can ruin a hunt faster than an old bow that has been neglected all year. Unlike a rifle, a bow needs a little more care for it to function properly. From something as simple as waxing the bowstring to paper tuning your arrows, all of the little tune-ups and upkeep tasks will help keep your bow performing as best as it possibly can.

9. Rushing the Shot

So you’ve got all of your archery equipment dialed in, and everything is working together as one cohesive unit. You might be extremely accurate out at the range and now it’s time to head out on the hunt. You must make a good shot on an animal to ensure a quick and humane kill, but by far the largest mistake I see new bowhunters make is rushing the shot. They may be extremely accurate while at the archery range, but while shooting at an animal they fall apart. As exciting as it is, remember to take deep breaths and not rush the shot. Take your time, and try to execute a good shot like you have practiced before.

10. Lack of Practice

Speaking of practice, make sure you get plenty of it! Bowhunting is much more difficult than hunting with a rifle and requires a higher skill level. With so many more things that can go wrong, don’t be the guy who only shoots his bow a week before hunting season and expects everything to go smoothly.

Plenty of practice before the season will not only keep your skills sharp but will highlight any potential gear problems that need to be addressed before the hunt ever begins. With enough practice, you’ll be more confident than ever when an opportunity does present itself to kill that big buck in front of you!

- Patrick Morgan
Best Hunting Clothes For Women [5 Top Picks]

Women's hunting clothing has advanced tremendously over the past decade or so, with the top hunting clothing brands offering full clothing systems designed specifically for females.

If you're in the market for the best hunting clothes for women, then look no further! The list below is going to summarize the top clothing picks within each category, and I'm going to show why female hunters can't stop buying these items.

Full Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and end up making a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

1. Best Women's Hunting Jacket KUIU Women's Guide DCS Jacket

KUIU has taken their Guide Series of clothing and brought it over with some slight tweaks to cater to women looking for the top hunting jacket available. 

The KUIU Women's Guide DCS Jacket is built for cold conditions, but that doesn't mean it's a one-trick pony. This jacket is made out of KUIU's proprietary PrimeFlex Polyester and Micro-Fleece Backer material, meaning it can stand up to cold temperatures while letting you breathe if things heat up a bit.

Its tough outer shell is both water and wind resistant and only weighs a mere 21.1 oz - you really can't beat that!

In case that's not enough, this jacket is anatomical shaped specifically for women's fit and comfort!

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First Lite might be considered one of the "new-comers" in the hunting clothing world, but they are quickly becoming one of the most reliable, durable available options.

This durability of First Lite is well represented in their Women's Alturas Guide Pants, our pick for the best women's hunting pants.

If you do any quick search for the pants, you'll quickly recognize that the number of reviews is off the charts. Hundreds of customers rave about the warmth and comfort of the pants, saying that it's the perfect balance for any part of the year.

Additionally, the stretch of the pants provides the ultimate fit for many women. 

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The KUIU Divide series made our list for the best hunting backpacks, so it's only natural that we chose it as the best option for women hunters.

Finding something that's big enough to carry all your gear, but still versatile enough to double as a daypack is a tough venture. KUIU recognized this, and as a result, created the new Divide series.

These packs offer a compact design with a unique "divide" pocket that expands so you can house a tripod or other additional hunting gear. 

The pack is built with 300D Cordura and is fully hydration compatible. Additionally, if you have to bring more, the pack has a sternum strap track for easy adjustability.

And finally, if you're looking for an easy way to carry a bow or gun, you can add KUIU's holder through the connection webbing loops.

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Calling all women upland hunters - We found the perfect upland vest for you this season!

We've heard of the top brands like Filson, Orvis, and Field & Stream, but DSG is shaking up the top upland brands this year with the introduction of their new women's upland vest. 

This vest was built specifically for females, offering a lever of comfort that matches well with the shape of any huntress.

But don't let that steal your attention. This vest comes equipped with all the requirements any upland enthusiast expects. From the padded shoulder straps, to shell carriers, you've got everything you need!

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A good pair of gloves might be at the top of the list when it comes to the most important piece of clothing for hunters. As a result, you might want to take a second or two before you make your final pick.

This year, we've chosen the Sitka Traverse gloves as the best pick for women looking for a comfortable and durable option to project their hands. 

This gloves is made out of Sitka's poly fleece construction, which is a piece of hunting clothing material that has so many positives. First, it provides hunters with a level of stretch that feels like a custom made glove. And at the same time, is a rigid enough material protect against brush and briars.

Additional features include a water repellent finish, and an ax suede index finger that's touchscreen compatible!

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You can only purchase KUIU women's hunting clothing directly through their own website.

In Conclusion

So there it is, the best hunting clothes for women from the top clothing manufactures in the hunting industry.

Each piece of gear is at the top of their category area, and will last for years to come. You can rest assured knowing that if you purchase anything from this list, you're getting the best of the best. Now, you just have to head out to the woods and take down your game. Good luck this season!

To learn more about KUIU vs. Sitka, we have a blog about that too!

- Patrick Morgan
How Much Should You Spend On A Compound Bow?

A compound bow offers several advantages over traditional and recurve bows, but the jump in price can be significant. It can be a challenge to identify what differences there are between flagship, high-end compound bows, and low-cost options.

People who are new to archery may look first for the lowest possible cost or might be interested in the highest-end offering in the hope that a superior product will make learning the sport easier.

Today, we will break down the pros and cons of compound bows at various price points and we will throw in a little information about why some bows are more expensive than others.

The Quick Summary
Overall, compound bows can cost anywhere between $275 to $1,000 plus, depending on the brand and quality.
- Low cost bows will range from $275-$400.
- Mid-priced bows will range from $400-$600.
- High-end bows can cost upwards of $1,000.
The perfect price is one that matches your level of expertise, dedication, and desired budget.

Why Compound Bows Cost So Much

A quick glance at the price of a nice entry-level recurve bow against an entry-level compound bow can be a shock to the system. While recurve bows top out at a fairly reasonable price, the best compound bows can quickly exceed $1,000 price tags.

The reasons are there, but they don’t necessarily translate into better products. The real reason that compound bows cost more has to do with two primary aspects.

First, compound bows are more expensive to manufacture. Second, almost every component of a compound bow is patented. That means companies looking to use patented components must pay a fee to the patent holder. This combination of costs is what drives the price tag more than anything else.

Why a More Expensive Bow Might Not Be Better

A fantastic high-end bow shoots great, but these tools also demand a lot from the archer. For archers with the resources to start out at the top of the scale, it is unlikely that you’ll dislike your bow. A quick glance at online auctions shows a good number of upper-end compound bows with light use, a sign that the archer wasn’t able to master the tool.

I like to think about it like trying to learn to drive a car by starting out with a race car. Driving the car isn’t necessarily different than a regular car, but the performance makes it much more difficult to learn. Learning a bow is a lot the same. Lower-performance bows can be easier to learn before deciding to move up to a higher-end compound bow.

The Differences Between High-Cost and Low-Cost Bows

Expensive bows typically feature the most advanced designs, use proprietary technology, and feature intricate craftsmanship. These factors contribute highly to the increased cost. The biggest difference these factors make is in the speed the bow shoots. In today’s archery world, most bows are priced according to how fast they shoot. Faster bows equal higher prices.

Top Bow Brands

Mid-range bows typically use a combination of recent but not cutting-edge technology and lower manufacturing costs. Sometimes, this is because of simpler construction, but manufacturers can also lower costs by using less expensive materials. With that said, a number of the mid-range bows are of excellent quality and offer everything that the novice to the expert could want without a huge price tag.

A low-cost compound bow is anything that sells for around $275 or more. Below this point, archers are risking life and limb, literally. There are a ton of cheaply made Chinese knockoff compound bows that can explode during use. The old adage that ‘if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is’ certainly applies to purchasing a compound bow.

Avoiding Dangerous Bows

Before you buy any bow, spend some time researching it. Most manufacturers provide detailed information about their products online. If it is hard to find any good information about a brand, it’s a sign the manufacturer is one to avoid.

Taking a trip to an archery store is another great way to separate the good from the bad. Archery stores will have the knowledge to steer you toward a quality product and will help work with your budget to identify the proper bow. FYI, if your archery store is trying to push an expensive bow on you as a novice, they probably aren’t reputable.

Buying A Used Compound Bow

I discourage novice archers from purchasing a used compound bow as their first bow, especially online. There are a number of things that can go wrong with a compound bow that is difficult to identify in pictures. In some cases, the defects can cause a dangerous situation. Other problems can eliminate any savings when you have to replace bow parts that are worn out or damaged.

It is simply better to spend a bit more on a new compound bow than it is to try and save a few bucks buying a used bow.

Prices and Features of Compound Bows Low Cost Bows

Bows that fall in the $275 to $400 range are typically decent quality, but they will lack some desirable features. Most often, these are stripped-down compound bows or bows sod in package deals that include very low-cost accessories. Typically, bows in this price range have a single string stop and a brace height of around 6” to 7”. This gives the bow a speed of around 300 feet-per-second. In the end, these are the top picks for beginner compound bows. 

Mid-Priced Bows

These bows fall within the $400 to $600 range. Typically, these bows feature better cams, dual string stops, and a more attractive riser design. They will shoot in the 310 to 325 FPS range. Usually, these bows will have better arrow nocks, sights, and function very quietly. Archers will find parallel compound arms with eccentric cams in this price range. This is the price point I would recommend a novice archer to compare.

High-End Bows

These bows can range well above $1,000. They represent the best technology and most-current trends in design. Shorter brace heights result in power above 340 FPS. High-end bows frequently have low weight and are as smooth as butter to shoot once an archer has mastered their shooting technique. Bows in this price range are more appropriate for seasoned archers that can use the fine-tuned performance to their advantage.

Compound Bow Cost FAQs How Much Does A Decent Compound Bow Cost?

Expect to pay between $300 and $600 for a quality bow. Avoid really cheap compound bows because they can be dangerous.

Why Are Compound Bows More Expensive?

Compound bows have numerous precision parts that allow them to function. These parts are more expensive to manufacture than the components of traditional or recurve bows.

Is A More Expensive Bow Better?

Expensive bows typically feature the latest in technology and are high-quality. They also shoot faster than less-expensive options. However, this does not necessarily mean the bow will make you a better archer. Expensive, high-end bows are more difficult to shoot.

Is Buying A Used Compound Bow A Good Idea?

Generally, it is better to avoid buying a used bow until you are familiar with the various parts and how to inspect the bow properly. If you have the ability to have an expert check out a used bow, you might be able to save some money.

My Final Thoughts

The amount you’ll spend on the right bow ultimately boils down to the amount you are willing to spend. I’ve had plenty of fun shooting low-end compound bows, but archers looking for a low-cost way to get into the sport should look into recurve bows. A good recurve bow might cost half what a mid-priced compound bow will and is still cheaper than a low-cost compound.

It is a great idea to visit an archery shop and talk with an expert to help figure out the best bow option. There are minor variables between different bow brands and styles that will suit some archers better. It is also a great way to get started on learning the basics and knowing what to do to start out on the right foot.

- Patrick Morgan
7 Easy Ways To Carry A Bow While Hunting

Carrying a bow to and from your hunting location isn't necessarily rocket science, but there are better and worse ways to do it.

I'm going to walk you through some of the most popular ways carry a compound bow while hunting, and in that, tell you about some things to keep in mind.

1. Carrying A Bow In A Case

People underestimate how important a good bow case is. They think that just because it's not a gun, you can throw it around a little more - Wrong!

Bows are just as sensitive as guns. Knocking a bow sight, bumping a rest, or bending an arrow can be costly. 

Of course, if you're a hunter that can step out their back door and walk right into the woods, then maybe you don't need a case. However, most hunters routinely travel decent distances, in and out of vehicles, to get to their final destination. For this reason, it's best to protect your weapon at all costs!

Hard Bow Case vs. Soft Bow Case

Things To Keep In Mind Soft bow cases are cheaper... and less protective. Measure your bow (and its accessories) before buying a case. Keep your broadheads and arrows in a case, tightly secured, and away from your strings. Check airline regulations if you're flying with a case. 2. Carry Your Bow On An ATV

Some hunters have to take multiple forms of transportation to their hunting spot. And one of those modes might be an ATV.

Let's get the easy part out of the way. DO NOT carry a compound or recurve bow on your lap while driving an ATV. This is a lose-lose situation with an endless amount of things that might go wrong. 

ATV manufacturers have recognized the need for ATV bow cases and racks, and today's designs are now very reliable and safe. Of course, some of these cases are quite expensive, but they do ensure some peace of mind that you just can't put a price tag on.

Things To Keep In Mind ATV bow cases are more reliable than racks. I would not recommend leaving a standard bow case on your ATV, especially if you're on public land. Make sure to check your rubber bindings on bow racks - they tend to break over time. Never nock an arrow while driving an ATV. 3. Carrying A Bow In Your Backpack

Having a do-it-all hunting backpack is essential for bagging the game you're going after. And having one that also carries your bow makes it even better.

Some hunters like to take a standard backpack and strap their bow on it. While there's nothing wrong with this, if you're going to jerry-rig something you might as well just go out and buy one with a bow pocket. 

When I purchased my bowhunting backpack, I made sure it had enough room for my standard gear, and the bow straps and pockets in the back did not get in the way of me going to and from my stand.

Bowhunting Backpack

Things To Keep In Mind An external pocket and strap is essential for a good bowhunting pack. Make sure your bow doesn't hang too low after strapped in as it might hit your boots or ground brush. Avoid strapping your bow on a hunting fanny pack as they can be uncomfortable. These are great options for hoisting your bow and pack up in a stand or walking through uneven ground and mountain terrain. 4. Carrying A Bow In Your Hands

Carrying a bow in your hand is probably the most popular, go-to option for taking a bow out in the woods. It's easy, convenient, and you're always ready in case you spot something on the trail. 

From my standpoint, carrying a bow gets a little awkward after some time walking. Today's bows are outfitted with so many accessories that there's not a ton of room on the riser to fit your hand and arm.

If you're a hunter that carries a lot of gear or someone that needs both hands free to go up and down mountains I would avoid this method and look at a hunting backpack.

Things To Keep In Mind As a simple tip, I'll sometimes use weightlifting straps and wrap it around the bow to take pressure off my hands. Do not carry your bow by your stabilizer, sight, or bow rest. Avoid using your bow as a makeshift hiking stick when traversing uneven terrain. 5. Carrying Your Bow By The String

Personally, I don't really understand why you would want to carry a bow by the string when hunting. 

From time to time, I've grabbed onto my cables for a brief moment, but I've always avoided grabbing the string directly. 

If I can suggest avoiding any particular method, it would be this one as it's somewhat uncomfortable and you want to do your best to avoid pulling and moving your bow string. Constantly moving around your string might cause it to come off your cams and/or begin twisting, eventually leading to accuracy problems.

Things To Keep In Mind Carrying a bow by the string is probably the least popular way to do it. If you have to, carry it by the cable - not the actually bow string. Avoid using this method if you have anything that might cut or slice your cables and/or strings. This method, when used with a string accessory sling, might be beneficial to target shooters. 6. Carrying A Bow In A Sling

Utilizing a bow sling seems to be popular amongst hunters out West and those that pursue turkeys in the Spring and Fall months.

Today's bow slings provide a lot more than just an easier way to carry a bow, they also provide protection from unwanted brush scraping across your string and cams. 

While a strap is a little more comfortable than just carrying by hand, it's still caters to a very small subset of hunters that don't want to purchase a bow-specific backpack. For this reason, it's almost a hybrid solution between the two.

Top Bow Slings

Things To Keep In Mind Make sure the sling's anchor point is on the limbs or riser, not the cams or the string. Many slings come with full covers to protect your cams and strings. A bow sling might get in the way of a quick shot if you spot something on the way to your blind or stand. Top hunting brands like Badlands, Sitka, and Primose make reliable bow slings. 7. Carrying A Bow In The Stand

Once you've successfully hoisted your bow up in your climbing stand or ladder stand, you're going to want to figure out what to do next.

When I first started hunting, I would place my bow over my lap or over the guard rails so I could be quick to pull of a shot. Unfortunately, there's cons to this. First, it's very uncomfortable, and second, it doesn't leave you a lot of room to move around.

I've found the best solution to be a folding bow hanging rack that extends off of the tree. This give you plenty of room to move around and allows you to put the bow at the right height for easy access once you stand up.

And for those archers that are new to the sport, try to practice getting in, moving around and shooting when you're in a stand. You don't want that new beginner compound bow falling to the ground!

Things To Keep In Mind Bow hanging racks are the best option for stand hunters. Leaning your bow across your stand rail may produce unwanted noise when getting up to shoot. If possible, try removing your quiver and placing it in your bag while holding your bow in the stand. Always check your bow holder if you leave it up year around.

Also, we have a great blog summarizing How To Store Your Compound Bow At Home!

- Patrick Morgan
How To Hang A Treestand

I think we can all agree that hanging a stand isn't the easiest or funnest part of hunting. But regardless, like anything, there's an easy way to do it and a hard way.

Take a look at the information below if you're trying to hang a stand for the first time, or if you're just looking for a better way to do it. I'm sure there's a thing or two you'll learn! 

Gear You Need Before You Start

Before hanging your stand, you're going to need a gear checklist to make sure you're prepared. Remember to bring the following items, so you don't have to drive back home!

Gear You Need To Hang A Stand

1. Safety Harness

We all know treestand accidents are way too common, and even though you're not technically hunting - you need to have a hunting safety harness on with a lineman's rope attached as soon as you leave the ground.

2. Pruning Shears or Saw

Sometimes you find the perfect tree and that one little limb is right in the way. For this reason, be sure to bring along a pair of pruning shears or a small saw just in case you have to clean up a thing or two.

This is will also come in handy in a section below!

3. Trail Markers

When you hang your stand, you'll most likely be in a relatively new spot. As a result, take a few trail markers to layout your perfect entry and exit route from your truck to your stand.

4. Gear Rope

Lastly, once you have your climbing steps and hang on properly up and secured, you're going to need a way to hoist up your gear. Bring along a strong rope that is lengthy enough to reach your stand height.

Picking Your Tree & Location

No matter if you pick a hang-on stand, climbing stand or ladder stand, you need to be mindful of your tree type, as well as your location.

Best Trees For Hang-On Treestands

When picking a tree, I like to find a reliable maple, oak, or poplar.

Now, that doesn't mean these are always going to be the best, but they do give you the best chance to find a straight, solid tree with a good amount of cover.

Also, make sure to avoid any dead or leaning trees, or those that are too skinny to support a stand and hunter. Furthermore, staying away from trees with smooth or scaly bark will help your stand stay secure.

Best Trees To Hang A Stand

Considering Location

Of course, when picking a treestand location, you want to be where the deer are! 

Travel Corridors

If you're in a new area, try your best to identify the feeding and bedding areas of the deer around you. From there, recognizing travel corridors and trails between these two points is going to put you in the best possible spot to succeed. 

While scouting, remember to utilize trail cameras to confirm these travel patterns, and keep in mind that those mature bucks are most likely going to travel in thicker areas, away from open terrain, to avoid being spotted by predators.

Wind Direction

From here, don't forget about the wind. While wind is relatively hard to predict, try your best to pick stand locations based on different situations. If the wind is bad in one location, having another stand in a different location might save you from getting winded.

Entry & Exit Points

And lastly, consider your entry and exit routes to your stand. If your best route to the stand is right along those beginning travel corridors, you're most likely putting yourself in a bad situation. Try to avoid directly crossing over any trails, especially as deer start to move.

Starting With The Steps

To begin with, most hunters today are using climbing sticks, which are attached steps in 14-20 inch sections. While these aren't quite as mobile as traditional screw in steps, they are very light and much quicker and safer to use.

Once your climbing sticks are separated, start with your first step (bottom step) about knee height off the ground for optimal comfort and reach. Securely strap your stick onto the tree and push down with your weight. You should feel the step slide down slightly, then halt as the stick's teeth grip into the bark.

This sequence can be repeated over and over again as you start to attach more steps. 

Some hunters prefer to hook all of their steps around their safety harness, while others might take their time going up and down the tree with one additional step in hand. The choice is really up to you.

Of course, remember to attach your lineman's rope around the tree as soon as you exit the ground.

Hanging The Stand

After you have all straps unwrapped from your hang on stand, place your hang on stand on your back and begin to climb. Again, while having your safety harness and lineman's rope attached.

Once you get to your final step section, I would recommend placing your hang-on stand slightly off-centered from your climbing sticks. You don't want the stand to be directly above your sticks, and you don't want it to be anywhere close to 90 degrees off-centered either.

Also, when placing your stand, try having the base at eye-level to your final top step. Of course, if you want additionally security you can always have it below your final step in case you want to use this section as a final hand placement.

In the end, the further away you get from that final step, the harder it's going to be.

Finally, secure your hang on stand with both straps - the order does not matter. At this point, it's all about personal preference. 

Remember, before you step onto the stand, fold up (or cam over) the stand and retighten the straps. As you fold up the stand, you should see the straps loosen - we won't to avoid that. Once they are tight, fold down the stand and the two straps should secure even more.

For a visual summary, watch the video below!

Preparing Your Shooting Lanes

Now that you have everything in place it's good to take a breather and check off that final step - preparing shooting lanes.

Before you start, keep in mind that you're not trying to clear all brush within 15 yards of your stand. Your job is to identify passing trails and key points that put you in the best possible spot for a shot. If anything is in the way, do a little trimming.

If you clear too much, either in the tree by your stand or on the ground, you're forfeiting your cover. And I don't care how good your camouflage is, you will be sky-lined by a deer.

Also, if you're interested, we have a great blog showcasing information related to Deer Rubs & Scrapes!

- Patrick Morgan
Best Hunting Apps [2023 Top Picks]

Hunters have a ton of options for apps that can improve their hunt. Adding the best hunting apps to your toolkit can improve success in the field. Figuring out which app is the best for you can be a major challenge. We have compiled this list of the best hunting apps based on features, awards, and reviews from real hunters.

1. onX Hunt

The best hunting app is the onX app - and here's why...

This powerful hunting app has a lot to offer any hunter. The main function of this app is to provide hunters with highly detailed maps. But, it does a lot more than just provide a map, it includes private and public hunting boundaries on topographical and 3D maps. Hunters can use the app to track their route and record elevation data and save maps for use offline. Custom map layers let hunters record locations of stands, blinds, feed plots, and numerous other sites.

onX Hunting App Visuals

onX Best Features

The ability to overlay more than 300 different layers over the maps gives hunters tremendous power to customize points for their favorite spots or even spots you simply dream of hunting one day. The 3D maps and terrain charts are a tremendous help in plotting your trek. Weather updates are a great feature. Boundary mapping is precise and a fantastic way to make sure you are hunting legally.

What onX Doesn’t Have

As powerful and versatile as this app is, there are only a few things that it lacks. We would have liked to have seen a bit of information about target animals based on location. This is really a nit-picky lack and we are sure that hunters using this app will always trust it.

My Final Thoughts On The onX App

If there is just one hunting app that you want to use, make it this one. It will do practically everything you need and a lot of things you didn’t know you wanted in an app. You’ll find the maps and boundary markers to be invaluable when you hunt.

2. HuntStand

When we say that our choice for the top app was a struggle, it is because of the HuntStand app. This app packs a lot of features into its easy-to-use interface and is one of the most popular hunting apps in the U.S. This app combines powerful mapping features with a range of useful utilities and predictive tools that will help on the next hunt.

HuntStand Hunting App Visuals

HuntStand Best Features

Let’s start with the mapping options. This app uses satellite imagery. Hunters can use shapes and lines to mark out various hunting areas, roads, obstacles, and more. The app includes 50 markers and 20 colors that can be added to any of the seven layers. A unique 3D mapping feature helps show elevation to help plan your route and see the locations of important features.

The mapping function also provides detailed boundary lines to show public and private property, even giving hunters the name of owners, but hunters will need to upgrade to the Pro plan to access this information.

The app includes several interesting utility features. It includes a logbook for recording your hunts that can include mapping data, a hunter to-do list, and even a public marketplace to help hunters find hunting property that is for sale.

What HuntStand Doesn’t Have

On this app, it isn’t so much what it doesn’t have as it is the fact that to access the most powerful aspects, you’ll have to pay-to-play. We understand the need to make a profit, but it is somewhat frustrating to download an app thinking that it will offer you all the benefits you need only to realize that you have to pay a monthly subscription fee to use it.

My Final Thoughts On The HunStand App

HuntStand is one of the world’s most popular hunting apps because it combines useful features with detailed maps. It offers tons of features that any hunter or outdoor enthusiast can use, but it does require a monthly fee to get the most out of it.

3. HuntWise

The HuntWise app is a top-download app and is one of the smartest hunting apps we have ever tried. This app provides maps with up to 350 layers of customizable details you can add to make your hunt a success. While many apps offer the benefit of detailed maps and layering, this app also includes a built-in weather station that is unlike anything we have seen from other hunting apps.

HuntWise Hunting App Visuals

HuntWise Best Features

Sometimes, the difference between successful hunting trips and wasting a day in the woods comes down to knowing when and where to hunt. HuntWise does the heavy-lifting by providing detailed weather conditions including wind direction and speed that often will determine where the animals you are hunting will go.

It gives hunters an accurate estimation of the best times and locations to hunt based on species and weather conditions. It even offers a graph to help you determine the best time to target rutting deer - making it the best deer hunting app you can find.

What HuntWise Doesn’t Have

The user interface can be somewhat clunky at times and the lack of offline mapping features means you might need two apps when hunting.

This app also requires a subscription to use the most valuable features including the unique WindCast feature that predicts wind direction based on location.

My Final Thoughts On The Huntwise App

HuntWise was one of the most popular hunting apps until very recently when the others on this list began to offer impressive new features. The most valuable part of this app is the ability to predict wind direction which is a critical factor in successful hunts.

4. Gaia Mapping App

The proper mapping app can be the difference between getting to the spot you want and getting lost. The Gaia app boasts some of the most incredibly detailed maps that we have ever seen and provides pin-point location data, even offline. While it does require a subscription to access all of the features, the basic free version gives you the basic mapping tech you need. We like the reasonable subscription price and the fact that the premium version often goes on sale.

Gaia Mapping App Best Features

Without a doubt, this is the best pure mapping app on the market. We actually learned about this one from an off-roading group that was using it to navigate the backcountry. Having the ability to use maps and track your progress without a connection to the internet is key to what makes this app so special. Premium features add lots of essential add-ons. We recommend going with the top-tier premium version that gives you access to offline maps and features and connects you to a community of outdoor enthusiasts.

What Gaia Doesn’t Have

This app is designed more for hiking and off-roading than it is for hunting, so you won’t find some of the hunting-specific features you’ll see on other apps. This one lacks things like species identification and public hunting boundary information that other apps offer.

My Final Thoughts On The Gaia App

When it comes to having the best maps possible, you won’t be disappointed with the Gaia app. Upgrading to the premium subscription is essential for getting the most out of this app, but the reasonable cost makes it worth every penny.

5. Garmin Explore

Garmin made its name as the world leader in GPS technology, so it is only fitting that the company’s outdoor adventure app makes our list. The Explore app has some unique features that are not included in any other hunting app that we have found.

Garmin Explore Best Features

Lots of apps provide maps, but none of them are from Garmin. These are the most up-to-date and accurate maps you will find. You can even open the app on your laptop or desktop computer and create custom routes, then share the maps to your cell phone.

Our favorite features of this app are its ability to interact with other Garmin products. You can sync the app to your hunting dogs E-collar and monitor its speed and location in real time. This is a fantastic add-on feature that makes hunting with your dog safer and more enjoyable.

Maps can be stored in the cloud and the app can connect via satellite to offer several cool features. One of the most valuable is the SOS feature that can alert emergency services when you are lost or hurt.

What Garmin Explore Doesn’t Have

There are no weather monitoring features included with this app. Since changing weather can impact a hunt, this omission can be problematic for some hunters. The app is geared more toward hiking and outdoor adventure than hunting, so some of the features you’ll find on our top picks are lacking. For example, there is no species information about animals you can hunt in a given location.

The ability to pair this app with an e-collar and to use it as an emergency SOS beacon make it an excellent addition to your hunting kit. The off-line mapping abilities and the useful sync features between devices makes this the easiest mapping app to share your route with others.

My Final Thoughts On The Garmin Explore App

Just a couple of years ago, it would have seemed silly to try and use an app to improve hunting trips, but the advances in technology and the ability to use satellite connectivity and cloud storage have made mapping apps some of the most powerful tools you can use in the field.

Most of the best apps require a subscription to access all features, but several of the ones that we discussed today have reasonable prices or functionality through a free download. It is worth taking the time to explore these apps in detail to determine the features you will need the most for the type of hunting you plan to do.

Also, check out our blog summarizing the Best Beginner Compound Bows too!

- Patrick Morgan
Best Bow Brands [And 1 That Hunters Avoid]

In the world of archery, choosing the best bow brand is paramount to your success. Whether you're a seasoned archer or a beginner looking for their first compound bow, the quality of your bow can significantly impact your accuracy, performance, and overall enjoyment of the sport. In this article, we'll guide you through our expert recommendations for the top compound bow manufacturers in the market today.

These bows offer unparalleled craftsmanship, cutting-edge technology, and precision engineering, ensuring you have the best equipment to elevate your archery game.

The 10 Best Bow Brands

Best Bow Brands Comparison Chart

Sorted By Average Price - Highest To Lowest

1. Mathews Archery: Precision Perfected

Mathews Archery has earned a well-deserved reputation for crafting some of the most accurate and reliable compound bows in the industry. Their dedication to precision engineering is evident in their patented Single Cam Technology, which provides archers with a smooth draw cycle and exceptional accuracy. Whether you're a target shooter or a hunter, Mathews Archery has a bow that suits your needs, making them a standout choice for discerning archers.

Created with Supersurvey 2. Hoyt: Tradition Meets Technology

Hoyt Archery seamlessly blends tradition with cutting-edge technology. As one of the oldest and most respected names in archery, Hoyt has a legacy of producing high-quality bows that have stood the test of time. Their innovative designs, such as the modular cam system, give archers the flexibility to fine-tune their bows for optimal performance. When you choose a Hoyt bow, you're not just investing in a piece of equipment; you're becoming part of a storied tradition of excellence.

3. Bowtech: Pioneering Innovation

Bowtech is a name synonymous with innovation. With a rich history of pushing boundaries and setting new standards, Bowtech has consistently delivered top-tier bows that cater to a wide range of archers. Their commitment to quality and performance shines through in every product they offer. From the accuracy of their Binary Cam System to the adjustability of their bows, Bowtech's dedication to excellence sets them apart from the competition.

4. Elite Archery: Precision Redefined

Elite Archery takes pride in redefining precision in the hunting crowd. Their commitment to detail and craftsmanship is unmatched, resulting in bows that deliver unparalleled accuracy and consistency. Elite's unique shoot-through riser design minimizes torque and vibration, giving archers the edge they need to excel. If you demand nothing but the best in terms of precision, Elite Archery is the brand to consider.

5. Prime Archery: Innovative Excellence

Prime Archery is known for its innovative approach to bow design. They've introduced the Centergy Technology, which optimizes balance and stability for shooters. Prime bows are highly customizable, allowing archers to fine-tune their equipment to their exact preferences. If you're looking for a bow that combines innovation with precision, Prime Archery is a brand worth exploring.

6. Obsession Bows: Precision Meets Passion

Obsession Bows is a brand that embodies the passion of archery enthusiasts. Their bows are meticulously crafted to deliver unmatched precision and consistency. The Obsession Hybrid Cam System offers a perfect blend of speed and accuracy, making them ideal for both target shooters and hunters. If you're looking for a bow that's born out of a deep love for archery, Obsession Bows is the choice for you.

7. Bear Archery: Time-Tested Quality

Bear Archery is a name that resonates with archers who appreciate time-tested quality. With a heritage dating back to the early 20th century, Bear Archery has a legacy of producing bows that combine durability, performance, and affordability. Their Bear EAZ Cam System ensures a smooth draw and consistent accuracy, making them a favorite among bowhunters. When you choose a Bear Archery bow, you're choosing a piece of history that will serve you faithfully.

8. PSE Archery: Affordable Excellence

For those seeking a balance between performance and affordability, PSE Archery is a standout choice. They've consistently delivered bows that provide exceptional value without compromising on quality. PSE's commitment to innovation is evident in their Evolve Cam System, which offers impressive speed and accuracy. If you're an archer on a budget but refuse to compromise on performance, PSE Archery has the perfect solution.

9. Mission Bows: Unmatched Versatility

For archers who a more affordable option, Mission bows offers a range of versatile and dependable options. Their bows are engineered for accuracy and durability, making them a favorite among hunters. With adjustable draw lengths and exceptional build quality, Mission provide archers with the tools they need to succeed in the field.

10. Diamond Archery: Tradition with a Twist

Diamond Archery is an American archery manufacturer based in Eugene, Oregon. They are known for their high-quality bows that are designed for both beginners and experienced archers. Diamond bows are known for being easy to use and adjust, making them a great choice for people of all ages and skill levels.

Diamond Archery offers a wide range of bows, from youth bows to high-performance target bows. They also offer a variety of accessories, such as arrows, sights, and stabilizers.

The Worst Bow Brands Cabela's & Bass Pro Shops Bows

When it comes to bows, I would stay away from any Cabela's/Bass pro branded option.

Of course, most of the time retailers have their products made by a separate manufacturer. In this case, it's Bear Archery. While these two (and now one) brands, have rotated manufacturers in the past, everything is currently being made by Bear.

Now, there's nothing wrong with a Bear bow. It's just the fact that when you look at customer service, as well as small design changes. They aren't going to be as good as an actual knowledge-holding manufacturer. 

My Final Thoughts On Bow Manufacturers

In conclusion, hunters and target shooters have exceptional options from reputable manufacturers. Each of the brands mentioned here has a unique approach to design, innovation, and performance. Your choice ultimately depends on your specific preferences and requirements as an archer. Whether you prioritize precision, affordability, tradition, or innovation, there's a perfect bow waiting for you among these top manufacturers. Make an informed decision, and you'll be well on your way to becoming a more skilled and successful archer.

The choice of your compound bow can make or break your performance. That's why it's crucial to consider these top manufacturers, each known for their unique strengths and innovations. By choosing a bow from one of these esteemed brands, you'll not only enhance your archery experience but also position yourself for success on the field or at the range.

For a somewhat related subject, take a look at our blog comparing Bows vs. Crossbows

- Patrick Morgan
Best Blood Tracking Lights [2023 Update]

You fire off a shot, but you're not sure about your placement... and the sun is starting to set - Not the best situation to be in!

If you're trying to put yourself in the best possible spot when something like this happens, you're going to need the best blood tracking light on the market. 

Now, there's a lot of people out there that poke fun at tracking lights, as they are a bit suspicious. And of course, there's a lot of old wive's tells describing what blood tracking lights do.

After doing a ton of research and testing, I've found the top blood tracking lights available for hunters... and I'm going to debunk some of these rumors while I'm at it. Read on to learn more!

The Quick Summary
Overall, the Best Blood Tracking Light is the Primos Blood Hunter HD!
Below you can check out other top options including the... 
- Best Blood Tracking Flash Light Combo: Bushnell TRKR 600
- Most Affordable Blood Tracking Light: Cabela's Blood-Tracking Light
- Most Durable Blood Tracking Light: NEBO IllumaTrace Blood Tracker
And scroll down to find out the one thing to remember when picking your tracking light!

I've been using tracking lights for nearly a decade now, and while I don't pull this tool out regularly, they do come handy when you need them the most. 

The design and capabilities of these has changed over the years, and it's nice to see these companies getting better and better each season. Now, they are developing some very helpful tools. Take a look below at my top picks!

Trivia Question: After shooting a deer, what does the color of blood indicate? (Click here to see answer).

Full Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and end up making a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  

Primos Blood Hunter HD Bushnell TRKR 600 Cabela's Blood-Tracking Light NEBO IllumaTrace Blood Tracker Highlight Best Overall Best Combo Most Affordable Most Durable Image Best Blood Tracking Light - Primos Blood Hunter HD Best Blood Tracking Flash Light Combo - Bushnell TRKR 600 Most Affordable Blood Tracking Light - Cabela's Blood-Tracking Light Most Durable Blood Tracking Light - NEBO IllumaTrace Blood Tracker Brightness 600 Lumens 600 Lumens 900 Lumens 170 Lumens Size 8"x5" x3" 10"x6"x3" 6"x4"x1" 7"x2"x2" Power Source Batteries Batteries Batteries Internal Price Around $80 Around $50 Around $30 Around $60 More Info. Best Price Best Price Best Price Best Price
Best Blood Tracking Light Primos Blood Hunter HD

When you're out hunting, success often hinges on tracking and recovering wounded game. This is why I picked the Primos Bloodhunter HD as this year's top option.

This state-of-the-art blood trailing technology, powered by intense 600 lumen CREE XM LEDs, will put you in the best possible situation to spot blood in the most challenging terrains.

Primos Blood Hunter HD Test

The Bloodhunter HD's custom optical filter enhances blood visibility, making even the faintest traces stand out. With versatile illumination settings, a comfortable grip, and a holster with belt straps, it's the perfect tool for every hunter.

Don't let a blood trail go cold; make every drop count with the Primos Bloodhunter HD. 

What We Like 600 Lumens Aluminum Housing Weather Resistant Reputable Brand What We Dislike No Standard Flashlight

For latest prices, and more information about the Primos Blood Hunter HD, take a look below!

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Bushnell calls the TRKR 600 flash light "Your Ultimate Tracking Companion". And we put that to the test!

This model is made from heavy-duty aircraft-grade aluminum and features a 162-meter beam distance. Furthermore, you can switch between white mode for visibility and red mode to conserve both battery and night vision.

What sets this flashlight apart is its blood tracking mode, designed to help hunters while tracking game. Plus, it's IPX4 weather-resistant, ready to tackle any weather conditions.

In the package, you'll find the flashlight along with four AA batteries, ensuring you're prepared for your adventures right out of the box. With 600 lumens of power, the Bushnell TRKR 600 Lumen Flashlight is your reliable companion in the dark, whether you're hiking, hunting, or exploring the wilderness.

What We Like 600 Lumens Optional Flashlight Weather Resistant Air Craft Grade Aluminum What We Dislike Bulky/Large Design

For latest prices, and more information on the Bushnell TRKR 600, take a look below!

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If you're looking for a cheap solution, then take a look at the Cabela's® Blood-Tracking Light.

With 112 ultra-bright LEDs, this light delivers 900 lumens, casting a broad swath of light that effortlessly reveals blood trails in low light conditions.

Its user-friendly design features a convenient locking on/off switch and adjustable brightness controls, ensuring a seamless tracking experience. Plus, with just four included AA batteries, you'll be ready to recharge in no time at all.

Whether you're hunting in fading light or navigating the dark wilderness, you can trust this device to lead the way. Its exceptional brightness and user-friendly features make it an essential tool for hunters in pursuit of their game. 

What We Like 900 Lumens Affordable Price What We Dislike No RGB Lights Weird Block Design Durability Concerns

For latest prices, and more information on the Cabela's Blood-Tracking Light, we have that as well!

Most Affordable Blood Tracking Light - Cabela's Blood-Tracking Light

Most Durable Blood Tracking Light NEBO IllumaTrace Blood Tracker

Trying to find a durable blood tracking light can be a difficult task. But now, you don't have to look any further with the NEBO IllumaTrace Blood Tracker Flashlight.

This innovative tool is a game-changer in blood-trail detection, utilizing alternating strobes to enhance blood visibility on any terrain. It swiftly switches between two modes: white light for general path illumination and a specialized blood-tracking mode for precision.

With its impressive 262-foot range, the IllumaTrace Blood Tracker thrives in various hunting environments, from open fields to dense woodlands. It's powered by a 4000mAh lithium-ion battery and boasts a waterproof, impact-resistant aluminum construction for durability. Choose from three blood-tracking strobe rates to suit your visual preference and hunting conditions.

What We Like 262' Light Range WaterProof Construction Tracking Mode Reasonable Price What We Dislike USB Rechargeable Battery

For latest prices, and more information on the NEBO IllumaTrace Blood Tracker, we have that as well!

Most Durable Blood Tracking Light - NEBO IllumaTrace Blood Tracker

Things To Consider When Choosing A Tracking Light Light Combination

The top deer blood tracking lights have the perfect combination of red and green light hues present.

Early on, many hunters believed that shinning a red light on blood would intensify the color, allowing them to track easier. 

However, we now understand that a proper mix of the two colors must be present to increase the color of the blood against any foliage.

Power Source

Power sources for any type of hunting gear is basically going to come down to two options: batteries or internal battery (something you need to charge).

From there, it's really about personal choice. Some hunters like the idea of having batteries as a power source because they can easily change them out without having to wait for charging.

Others like the idea of having an internal battery that they can recharge without having to buy new batteries. 

Pro Tip: After being shot, deer will typically run towards the safest area, potentially water or a bedding area.


We all know that hunting gear needs to stand up to the elements, and battle the wear and tear of getting in and out of the woods.

When looking at tracking lights, I would really pay attention to two main areas: Water Resistance and the Housing Material

Having a light that's water resistant is almost a necessity nowadays. Of course, tracking lights don't always follow these same rules. If you can find a tracking light that's also water resistant, you're in a good spot.

Also, remember to consider the housing material. Many cheaper tracking lights are going to be made out of a plastic composite material, with the most durable ones being aluminum - something you just can't beat for lights.


I know we're focusing on deer tracking lights in this blog, but having a piece of hunting gear that's versatile is always key when trying to properly pack your hunting backpack.

For this reason, when evaluating your next purchase, try to see if it can be used as a general hunting flashlight too. Having one item in your pack is ideal, and being able to switch between a general light and a track light can go a long ways.

Blood Tracking Lights FAQs 1. What Is A Blood Tracking Light?

A blood tracking light is a light device hunters use to track deer, elk, bear, etc. after they are shot. The light is used to help hunters more easily identify and spot a blood trail. 

2. Do Blood Tracking Lights Really Work?

In all honesty, blood trackers do work, but they are not the perfect solution many hunters dream of.

Tracking a blood trail, or finding that first spot of blood, can be a very difficult task, especially if you've made a tough shot. It's easy to see that hunters need a little help.

I've used tracking lights for years now, and while they are not perfect, they are an advantage over general flashlights. And personally, I'll take any advantage I can get when tracking a deer in the dark.

3. What Is The Best Blood Tracking Light For Deer Hunting?

Based on the information above, the Primos Blood Hunter HD is going to be the best blood tracking light for deer hunting.

It combines a heavy-duty, durable housing with a 600 lumens light that's designed specifically for finding blood. It's also made by one of the top hunting brands on the market so you know it's worth it.

4. Does Gerber Make Blood Tracking Lights?

Unfortunately, Gerber no longer makes blood tracking lights.

5. What's The Difference Between A Blood Tracking Light vs. UV Light?

Ultra-violet light, or UV light, has a shorter wavelength than visible light - making it appear purple or violet. 

If you're looking to track blood, a UV light is not what you need. Blood absorbs ultra-violet light and will appear black. 

Additionally, ultra-violet lights do not make blood glow - something you might have seen on TV or in the movies. The appearance of glowing blood is made possible by Luminol. This is used by forensic investigators to detect trace amounts of blood left at crime scenes.

Blood tracking lights will use a combination of RGB light to help blood standout more in the woods.

6. What Are Other Ways Hunters Track Deer?

Outside of using a blood tracking light, there a few other ways out there to track deer:

Different Ways Hunters Track Game

- Dogs - While it's not allowed in all states, many hunters will utilize certain types of hunting dog breeds to track down their kill.

- Hydrogen Peroxide - Some hunters have turned to using hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle to find blood as it will turn the blood white and frothy.

- Luminol - As mentioned above, to replicate the glowing look you see from blood on a crime scene show, hunters can spray Luminol over a blood trail to help during nighttime searches.

7. What Color Light Is Best For Blood Tracking?

When looking for a blood tracking light, you need to find the right combination of RGB light to help blood stand out in the woods. 

The combination of red and green hues in a single light beam is best for tracking blood, especially with green foliage on the ground.

One Thing To Remember When Buying Tracking Lights They Are Not Perfect

There's no doubt that blood tracking lights can be a useful tool when trying to find a blood trail in the dark. However, let's be honest about their capabilities. 

Blood tracking lights do not make blood glow in the dark like something in a crime scene movie. They simple use the light to make the blood standout better when compared to a standard flashlight. 

If you're looking for a perfect solution to finding blood, then a tracking light might not be right for you. But if you are looking for something better than today's standard tools, then I would take a chance and add this to your pack.

Answer: Bright red or pinkish blood usually indicates a lung shot, especially if there's air bubbles, while dark red points to a liver shot. Dark brown or green showcases a gut shot.

Also, if you're looking for the Best Hunting Clothing Brands, we have an awesome blog on that too!

- Patrick Morgan
How To Introduce Your Pup To Gunfire [Avoid These 3 Things]

Successfully introducing your pup to gunfire is one of the most foundational parts of developing a good bird dog. 

Many hunters skip ahead to other areas of training, and just assume a young pup can handle a shotgun sound. Wrong they are!

Of course, some dogs take to the sound of gunfire relatively easily and quickly, but going off that assumption can create a load of issues that are very difficult to repair.

For this reason, I summarized the exact steps I used to train my two GSP's, while also outlining a few key pieces of information that helped me along the way. Enjoy and good luck with the training!

What Is Single Event Learning?

Single event learning means that dogs are impressionable, and that "One negative or traumatic experience may induce fear or phobic response".

I bring this up because when you first start gunfire training your hunting dog, you might want to take things slow. If your dogs begins to associate negativity with your gun or gunfire, you're going to have a very long road ahead of you.

For this reason, make sure to read all the information below, and watch as many videos as possible before introducing gunfire to your new pup.

And to not scare you off... if you do this correctly, you can easily associate positive emotions to a gun going off - increasing the drive of your dog and heightening his level of enjoyment! 

Hunting Dog Single Event Learning

Step-By-Step Gunfire Introduction Guide

Follow the steps below if you're looking for a full step-by-step guide to gunfire introduction:

1. Start With Loud Noises At Home

As soon as you bring your dog home, and before you even start training with a hunting collar, it's best to get your dog accustomed to loud noises... while trying your best to associate them with something good.

For instance, when feeding my puppy, I would drop a few forks and spoons in a metal pot. It sounds a little far-fetched, but this a baby step to introducing your dog to a gun. You're wanting the dog to focus on something good (i.e. the food), while something loud and disturbing is happening in the background. 

Step-By-Step Gunfire Introduction Guide

2. Introduction To Birds

Once you bring your dog out to field, properly introducing them to birds is going to be a must-have for anything related to gunfire. 

If you can get your dog excited about birds, willing to do anything to go after one, that increased drive will make it much easier once a gun is introduced.

For me, I preferred using a wing-clipped bird, or a bird tied to a string to entice the dog to go after it. Using a bird that can easily fly away makes the game a little too hard for the puppy. You want something he/she can chase around and get excited with.

3. Starting From Distance

After your dog is excited about birds, the next steps are relatively easy. The key thing here is to watch your dog for any reactions to the gun. If you notice your dog reacting, especially negatively, you'll want to take a few steps back.

The first introduction of a gun should be done from a very far distance, preferably 50-100 yards away. In a perfect scenario, you're able to handle your dog while a friend controls the gun from a distance.

This sentence above is even more important to remember if you're using a shotgun.

Of course, if possible, I would recommend starting with a .22 blank, but not all hunters have something like this available. 

4. Time The Shot

When first firing off a gun at a distance, you want to properly time the shot.

Your goal in this exercise is for the dog to not react to or recognize the shot. And the best time to do that is when he/she is completely and totally focused on the bird. I've found that the dog is most honed in while chasing the bird, no matter if your using a fly-away bird or a wing-clipped one. 

To quickly summarize, you want your gunner to fire off that shot right before your dog gets the bird or when it's in full sprint after a fly-away. I would not recommend shooting while the dog is on point, as they are retrieving, or after the bird is long gone.

5. Keep It Short

While this isn't necessarily a step, I wanted to point out the fact that progress should be satisfying enough - you're not out there to fully train a dog in one day.

If your dog isn't reacting to their first day of gunshots, look at this as a positive thing and move onto something else.

You can always come back in a few days or a week and progress to a closer distance without losing any ground.

6. Closing The Distance

As your dog continues to point and chase down birds with no reaction to gunfire, continue to close the distance at around 10 yards or so each time. 

Again, the goal is to not see any reaction, and in fact, to associate this gunfire with birds - something your dog breed is naturally excited to go after. If you can connect "gunfire" and "birds" for the dog, you're going down the right path!

7. The Real Test

After the long process of introducing your dogs to loud noises, birds, and gunfire from a distance, it's now time to shoot over your dog.

By this time, if everything is done properly, you should start to see a dog so focused on the bird that it ignores pretty much anything else! The best part of this process is when dogs start to recognize the need for the hunter and their gun, and that a solid point and good shot equals an opportunity for them to retrieve their most prized item - the bird!

Mistakes To Avoid When Introducing Gunfire

Remember to avoid these all-too-common training mistakes when introducing your hunting dog to gunfire:

1. Not Having Enough Space

After you've successfully completed some of the initial steps, it's time to break out your gun. And when doing so, you need to make sure you have plenty of room!

As outlined above, to minimize the volume of the gun (especially if you're first utilizing a shotgun) you need to be far away from the pup.

I would recommend having at least 50-100 yards between you and the dog when first introducing any gunfire. 

Shooting too closely, especially if there's objects around you that might create an echo, increases the chances of your dog focusing on the gun and not the bird. And also gives them the chance to associate worry and fear with the sound of a gun.

2. Poorly Timed Shots

Before you ask your gunner to step away, make sure you have a clear signal to show him/her when to fire. Doing so too early or too late can be somewhat problematic.

A perfectly timed shot is one that takes places when the bird is released and the dog is fully captivated by the chase and catching that bird. You want to avoid shooting when the puppy is on point or right when he breaks. And you also want to avoid shooting after the dog begins loosing attention, or the bird is too far away.

3. Too Much Shooting

Like everything else in training, doing too much can backfire on you real quick!

If you're successfully able to fire off a few shots each training session with no problems, take the progress and move onto something else. From there, remember where you left off, and start at the next level in a week or so.

Always remember, it's easier to speed up your training session, rather than to go back and fix a mistake - especially when you're talking about gunfire!

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Afraid Of Gunfire?

If you've just started introducing your dog to gunfire, and you're trying to gauge their comfort level, I would recommend taking a look at the following behavioural categories. 

If your dog is showcasing any of these actions, then your dog might be somewhat afraid of gunfire.

- Aggressive Actions - Raised hairs on the back (hackles), growling, snarling, snapping, or biting.

- Avoiding Actions - Cowering, looking away, tucking its tail, and perhaps trembling or panting.

- Nervous Movements  - Backing up, hiding behind your legs, or lip licking.

How To Fix A Gun Shy Dog?

Now, I'm not an expert on fixing a gun shy dog. I've only trained two GSP's, and fortunately for me, I've had experienced individuals around to help in order to make sure this doesn't happen.

If you feel as though you made some mistakes when training your dog, or you've moved through these steps too quickly, I would recommend watching the video below first. 

From there, reach out to your local NAVHDA chapter, or a hunting dog kennel in the area, to see if they can provide any assistance.

And if you want to read some similar info, checkout our blog summarizing the Best Hunting Dog Kennels!

- Patrick Morgan
How Far Can You Shoot A Crossbow? [Must Read Info]

Over the past few years, crossbows have been developed to be shorter and more compact, and can shoot faster and harder than ever before.

As a result, many crossbow hunters are wondering if they can extend their effective ranges, due to the changing technology.

How Far Can You Shoot A Crossbow While Hunting?

When talking about an ethical hunting shot, the most effective distance for crossbows is below 50-60 yards.

Of course, when talking about the most effective, I would recommend trying to shoot your target animal somewhere between 20-50 yards, with the most effective being between 10-20 yards.

How Far Can You Shoot A Crossbow While Hunting

What Is The Maximum Distance A Crossbow Will Shoot?

If you take some of the average crossbow speeds, typical crossbow bolt weights, and assuming you're shooting around a 45 degree angle.... then pair that information with a crossbow distance calculator, you'll find the maximum distance of a crossbow to be around 450-500 yds.

Maximum Crossbow Shooting Distance

One additional note - while this is the maximum shooting distance, I would not recommend hunting or target practicing at this distance as it is both dangerous to the animal and the shooter.

What Factors Affect Crossbow Shooting Distance?

Here are few of the most important factors that will affect your crossbow's shooting distances:

1. Draw Weight

The draw weight of a crossbow, referring to the force essential for fully cocking the bowstring, plays a pivotal role in dictating the energy stored within the limbs. The concept is simple: the higher the draw weight, the greater the potential for powerful shots and extended shooting distances. By investing in a crossbow with a higher draw weight, you're essentially setting the stage for a more energetic and forceful shot. This additional energy translates to enhanced bolt speeds and increased shooting distances.

2. Bolt Weight

While the draw weight sets the foundation for power, the weight of the bolts, also known as crossbow arrows, serves as the next contributing factor. Bolts that carry more weight pack a stronger punch in terms of momentum and energy. This added momentum allows the bolt to travel extended distances while maintaining superior accuracy. Heavier bolts are less susceptible to external factors and tend to resist deviations in their trajectory, ensuring that they reach the intended target point with precision.

3. Power Stroke

The power stroke, the distance traversed by the bowstring from full cocking to its resting position, wields a substantial influence on crossbow performance. A lengthier power stroke holds the key to generating higher bolt speeds, thereby contributing to prolonged shooting distances. The rationale is simple yet impactful: an extended power stroke allows for more energy to be imparted to the bolt, resulting in a swifter bolt velocity upon release. This increased velocity directly correlates with an extended shooting range, enabling you to hit targets that might have been previously out of reach.

4. Limbs

The intricate design of a crossbow's limbs and cams plays a pivotal role in determining the efficiency of energy transfer to the bolt. Contemporary crossbow models often incorporate cams to amplify power, a technological advancement that leads to heightened bolt speeds and extended shooting distances.

5. Bolt Material and Fletching

The materials used in crafting crossbow bolts, combined with their unique designs, significantly influence their aerodynamic properties and stability during flight. Additionally, the inclusion of appropriate fletching, whether feathers or vanes, serves to stabilize the bolt's trajectory. By minimizing the effects of turbulence and drag, well-fletched bolts enhance accuracy and promote optimal distance coverage. Choosing the right combination of materials and fletching style can substantially impact your crossbow's overall performance.

6. Wind Conditions

Nature's elements, particularly the wind, exert a substantial influence on bolt trajectory. Crossbow bolts, with their larger surface area, are particularly susceptible to wind drift. To achieve consistent accuracy and extended shooting distances, you must factor in wind speed and direction during aiming. Adjusting your aim to counteract the effects of wind ensures that your bolt remains on course, hitting the target even when faced with gusty conditions.

7. Environmental Factors

Beyond the immediate shooting environment, external factors such as temperature, humidity, and altitude also come into play. Cooler temperatures can increase string tension, potentially resulting in higher bolt speeds. Humidity and altitude, on the other hand, impact air density, which subsequently affects bolt trajectory. Being attuned to these nuances allows you to make real-time adjustments for optimal performance, especially when seeking to achieve exceptional shooting distances.

Effective Crossbow Shooting Distance Video

Take a look at this awesome video that sheds some more light on what the most effective distance range is for deer hunting!

My Final Thoughts On Crossbow Distances

I hope the information above provides some clarity related to the appropriate crossbow shooting distances.

Of course, figuring out the most effective distance is step one. Once you have that settled, it's important to realize that a good crossbow scope can help improve your accuracy at any distance.

Also, in case, you're interested, we summarized the Best TenPoint Crossbows on the market today!

- Patrick Morgan
When Do Bow Sights Work Best? How Do They Work?

To beginning archers, I can understand why bow sights are confusing. You might even ask yourself, "When do bow sights work best?"

Unfortunately, many people assume that understanding a bow sight is easy... and it might have been... 20 or so years ago.

But today, these hunting companies are creating some rather unique bow sights, and it's good to know what the differences are and which one might be best for you and your style of hunting.

If you're interested in learning more about bow sights, we've got the information you need to right here!

What Is A Bow Sight?

A bow sight is a bow accessory that attaches to the riser portion of the bow.

These accessories are used to help archers aim the bow at their desired target. By using a pin (or several different pins) the archer knows where to accurately aim their bow depending on the distance of the target or animal.

They come in quite a few different sizes, shapes, and configurations, and are most commonly used on compound bows for both hunting and competition shooting. 

One caveat - many competition archers that utilize recurves equip their bows with sights for added accuracy.

Best Time To Use Bow Sights

The best time to use a bow sight is when the distance of your target is known. 

While bow sights are not necessarily a requirement in archery, they do help individuals, especially those that use compound bows, to accurately aim at their target... from several different distances.

Types Of Bow Sights

When it really comes down to it, there are only two major types of bow sights:

Single-Pin Sights

Single pin sights contain one pin within the pin guard area and are used within adjustable sights. Hunters use the adjustable dial to move the pin based on predetermined markers.

Multi-Pin Sights

Multi-pin sights contain more than one pin inside the pin guard housing - usually anywhere from 3-6 pins. Multi-pin sights come in fixed and adjustable style sights, but are more common in fixed ones as you don't necessarily need an adjustable dial with these.

Types Of Bow Sights

But just in case, you want some additional information, here are a few images summarizing the different sub-types of bow sights (fixed pin vs. adjustable pin) available to archers today!

Bow Sights - Fixed Pins vs Adjustable Pins

Parts Of A Bow Sight

Take a look at the image below showcasing the various different parts of a bow sight. Don't worry, it's not too bad!

Parts Of A Bow Sight

How To Sight In A Bow

Once you've found the best bow sight for hunting, you're going to want to get this thing dialed in. Take a look at the recommendation below, as well as one of the most highly viewed videos, to learn what you need to do.

The number on thing to remember when sighting in a bow is to move your pins and/or housing where your arrow is landing on the archery target. For example, if you're sighting in your 20 yard pin and your arrow lands down and to the left of the bullseye, you need move your pin and/or housing down and to the left. 

This will make you move your bow up and to the right when you take your second shot, which is the direction you need to go to get closer to the center.

What If You Don't Want To Use A Bow Sight?

If you choose to not use a bow sight, you're going to use what many call the "instinctive aiming method".

This means that you're shooting your bow with both eyes open and aiming based off mostly feel and the general direction, level of your bow... rather than putting a single reference point on the target. 

While this is commonly used while hunting with a recurve or longbow, most hunters don't usually utilize this method with a compound bow.

Also, we have an amazing blog summarizing the Best Ravin Crossbows if you're interested in reading somethings somewhat related!

- Patrick Morgan

So you're trying to find the best climbing treestand, but before you start you want to know how to use one.

The good thing about climbing stands is the fact that they're not too hard to learn. The bad news is the fact that if you don't take precaution and do things properly, you could end up having a bad accident.

The most important thing to remember when using a climbing stand is to have a reliable safety harness. From there, we're going to walk you through some other things to pay attention to.

How To Use A Climbing Stand 1. Choose The Right Tree Stand Safety Harness

When picking a harness, you want to make sure it's going to be comfortable and easy to use, while also not getting in the way of your standard movements or final shot. 

But don't forget to evaluate the construction of the harness, and most importantly, the harness weight capacity as you want to be confident that it lines up with you and your style of hunting.

Additionally, if you can find a safety harness that meets and exceeds the expectations of the TMA (Treestand Manufacturer's Association) that's an added bonus!

2. Pick The Right Tree To Climb

Hardwood trees like oaks and walnut are the best option for climbing while hunting.

While pines are often a popular choice, their fragile bark makes it somewhat difficult to safely climb.

3. Properly Attach Your Stand To The Tree

You'll notice that a lot of hunters will angle their climbers up slightly at the base of the tree. Tree diameters get smaller as you start to climb, and if you're level at the base, your stand might be on a decline as you go higher.

From there, ensure that all cables and straps are intact and without wear and tear.

4. If You're On Uneven Ground, Enter From The Elevated Side

If you find yourself on uneven ground, try to enter your stand from the elevated side of your stand - the side where your stand is closet to the ground.

You'll want to do this because this is the only time you'll start climbing without your safety harness attached. Falling from a foot or two is a lot better than three or four.

5. Tether And Connect Your Two Stand Sections

The step mentioned above also lets your easily attached the two sections of your stand together.

Most climbing stands will come with some sort of rope or strap to attach the upper and lower portion. This is essential as you don't want to be 15 feet up in the air just to have the bottom portion of your stand fall to the bottom!

6. Attach Pull Rope To Top Stand Portion

Before finally entering stand, remember to attach your pull rope to both your gear and weapon.

When attaching the rope to your stand, place the rope on the upper section of the climber as you don't want to bend down to the bottom section while you're at your desired hunting height.

As far as attaching it to your weapons, I prefer to attach my rope to my gun with the barrel pointing down just in case. Of course, your gun should never be loaded during this time, but I prefer to never have the barrel pointing in my direction.

When bringing up a bow, I like to attach the rope to my bow limbs by my fletching so I don't bend my arrows as I draw up my bow.

7. Attach Safety Harness To Your Tree

A safety harness is mentioned twice in this process because it's so important when using climbing stands.

After you're in your stand, remember to attach your safety harness to the climbing rope. There's many different names for this including a lineman's climbing rope. Then, ensure your harness carabiner is successfully attached to the rope before beginning to climb.

8. Begin Climbing

As mentioned above, before you start climbing, you'll notice that a lot of hunters will angle their climbers up slightly at the base of the tree. This is due to the fact that tree diameters get smaller as you start to climb, and you don't want to have to readjust your stand while climbing.

From there, it's a simple process of readjusting your safety harness, moving your top section of the climber up with your upper body, sitting or leaning on the top portion, then raising the bottom section up. Then just rinse and repeat!

Remember to secure each portion of the climber deep into the tree bark by putting your weight on the end (away from the tree) of the climber. This leverage point will dig the spikes into the tree with ease. 

9. Secure And Lock Stand At Your Hunting Height

Once you're at your desired hunting height, it's best to first adjust the top section of your platform based on the most comfortable sitting height.

From there, sit down, and see how high you can place your safety harness. Putting it too low is not safe as you want as little drop as possible if you stand starts to fall. Putting it too high will not allow you to sit comfortably.

After your two platforms are set, and your safety harness is at the right height, place an additional security strap around your top section of the stand and around the tree. Straps like this are already provided by top treestand brands like Summit.

10. Pull Up And Attach Gear

Once your stand is secure, pull up your hunting pack and bow. I would suggest first pulling up your pack and attaching it to your tree or stand, then bringing up your bow.

You want to make sure your gear is out of the way and everything is in the right place before drawing up your weapon.

Things To Keep In Mind When Using A Climbing Treestand Climbing Stand Safety

According to the TSSA, climbing stands have the second highest rate of incidents, right behind hang on stands.

Pros And Cons Of Climbing Tree Stands

Pros of climbing stands include mobility, the fact they are lightweight, and they are great for both bow and gun hunters. Cons include the fact they are somewhat expensive, that they are also not the safest, and that cable stands can wear out over time.

Best Video About Using A Climbing Stand

Additionally, if you're not a fan of climbing stands, check out our blog about the Best Ladder Stands!

- Patrick Morgan
Best Ladder Stands [2023's Top Pick]

The season is quickly approaching and finding the best ladder stand for deer hunting might be on your to-do list!

As you'd expect, most ladder stands are built with the same design in mind. However, if you're not careful, you'll miss some of the small things that separate a good stand from a bad one. 

The Quick Summary
Overall, the Best Ladder Stand is the BIG GAME Hunter HD 1.5!
Below you can check out other top options including the... 
- Best 2 Man Ladder Stand: Hawk Big Denali 2-Man
- Most Comfortable Ladder Stand: Guide Gear Ultra Comfort 18'
- Most Lightweight Ladder Stand: Novix Raider
And scroll down to find out the one thing to avoid when picking your ladder stand!

I first started using ladder stands for deer hunting years ago as it was the safest and easiest option for me. Of course, as you hunt out of these different models, you learn what you like and what you don't like. And most importantly, what's going to help produce a successful hunt.

Take a look at the product overviews below as I share what models I like the most, and what things I pay attention to before I pick any new ladder stand!

Trivia Question: Do you know what ladder stands were originally designed for? (Click here to see answer).

Full Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and end up making a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  

BIG GAME Hunter HD 1.5 Hawk Big Denali 2-Man Guide Gear Ultra Comfort 18' Novix Raider Highlight Best Overall Best 2 Man Most Comfortable Most Lightweight Image Best Ladder Stand - BIG GAME Hunter HD 1.5 Best 2 Man Ladder Stand - Hawk Big Denali 2-Man Most Comfortable Ladder Stand - Guide Gear Ultra Comfort 18' Most Lightweight Ladder Stand - Novix Raider Platform Size (WxL) 23.5"x29" 51"x17" 25"x25" 24"x36" Seat Size (WxL) 23"x18" 24"x23" 25"x15" 20"x14" Height 18.5' 18' 18' 18' Price Around $200 Around $375 Around $200 Around $700 Purchase Best Price Best Price Best Price Best Price
Best Ladder Stand For Deer Hunting BIG GAME Hunter HD 1.5

Out of the best deer ladder stands, is there one better than the BIG GAME Hunter HD?! I just don't think so... This is the stand deer hunters are all talking about and easy to see why.

This stand is at the intersection of value, quality, and performance. Standing at 18'6" tall, it keeps you concealed from deer while providing a spacious and comfortable experience with a sturdy platform and a cozy seat (23" wide x 18" deep).

Big Game Hunter HD 1.5 Review

Fully equipped with features like a padded shooting rail, Flex-tek seats, and an extra-wide platform, this ladder stand sets a new standard in the field. Weighing just 61 lbs. yet boasting an impressive 350 lbs. weight rating, it ensures safety with the inclusion of a Full-Body Fall Arrest System.

What We Like Adjustable Rail & Seat Comfortable Mesh Seat Great Value Price Durable Construction What We Dislike Platform Could Be Bigger

For latest prices, and more information about the BIG GAME Hunter HD 1.5, click below!

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The Hawk Big Denali is the ultimate 2-person ladder stand (and probably the most comfortable 2-man ladder stand) as it's designed to support up to 500 pounds.

Equipped with 2 full patio-chair-sized MeshComfort seats featuring flip-up padded armrests and contoured backrests, you'll enjoy exceptional comfort. The seat dimensions (24 x 23 inches) and platform dimensions (17 x 51 inches) offer ample room for relaxation and maneuverability for any awkward shot.

This ladder stand comes with dual welded kick-out footrests that also double as grab handles, allowing for easy platform entry and exit. The flip-back padded shooting rail can be adjusted from upward for gun rest to downward for archery hunting clearance, accommodating various hunting styles.

Lastly, the Safe-Tread steps provide stable footing, and the bolted ladder sections further reinforce its robust construction!

What We Like 500 lb. Capacity Equipped Footrests Extra-Wide Platform Reasonably Price 2-Man Stand What We Dislike Side Arm Rests Might Block Shooting Lanes

For latest prices, and more information on the Hawk Big Denali 2-Man, take a look below!

p:empty{ margin:0; padding:0; } .product-box-ribbon:after{ content: " "; display: block; position: absolute; left: -10px; bottom: -7px; border-top: 0 inset transparent; border-right: 10px solid #1B3E1E; border-bottom: 7px inset transparent; border-left: 10px inset transparent; } .product-box-half{ flex:1; justify-content:center; margin:5px; } .product-box-title{ font-weight:bold; font-size:20px; margin-bottom:10px; text-align: center; } .product-box-image-wrapper{ clear:both; position:center; } .product-box-description{ font-size:15px; margin-bottom:5px; text-align: left; } .product-box-summary{ font-weight:bold; font-size:18px; color: #1B3E1E; margin-bottom:5px; text-align: center; } .product-box-button .button{ font-size:16px; width:100%; text-align:center; margin-top:10px; padding:5px; border-radius:5px; color: white; font-weight:normal; } @media only screen and (max-width: 760px) { .product-box-single{ flex-direction:column; } .product-box-half{ width:100%; } } --> Our Pick Best 2 Man Ladder Stand - Hawk Big Denali 2-Man Hawk Big Denali 2-Man The Best 2 Man Ladder Treestand The Hawk Big Denali 2-Man is the best 2 man ladder treestand because it offers tons of room and a high level of comfort for both individuals. Best Price on Amazon Best Price on Bass Pro Most Comfortable Ladder Stand Guide Gear Ultra Comfort 18'

The pinnacle of ladder stand comfort is the Guide Gear Ultra Comfort 18'!

The obvious standout feature is the mesh seat that molds to your body, delivering exceptional and supportive comfort throughout long hunts. Need a standing position? Simply flip up the seat. The padded shooting rail is also flip-up friendly, allowing adjustments or removal to suit your preferences.

And at this price point, the Guide Gear Ultra Comfort Ladder Tree Stand is an outstanding value!

But don't forget about the adjustable, flip-up shooting rail at an 18' height, ensuring versatility and convenience. Top it all off with a powder-coated steel construction and you've got something that guarantees durability and reliability.

What We Like Comfortable Mesh Seat Sitting/Standing Position Options Flip-Up Shooting Rail Extra-Wide Platform What We Dislike Heavy Design At 77 lbs.

For latest prices, and more information on the Guide Gear Ultra Comfort 18', we have that as well!

Most Comfortable Ladder Stand - Guide Gear Ultra Comfort 18'

Most Lightweight Ladder Stand Novix Raider

The lightest ladder stand on the market right now is the Novix Raider, and its design is out of this world - making it a great portable ladder treestand pick!

Its machined aluminum platform not only ensures a lightweight packable ladder tree stand build but also provides rigidity for easy and secure boot placement, even in icy or slippery hunting conditions.

And say goodbye to time-consuming assembly with the Zero assembly feature, as this stand comes ready to hunt, eliminating the need for nuts and bolts. Climbing in silence is now possible, thanks to the VersaLocks that connect the sticks without any metal-to-metal contact.

Lastly, don't sleep on its comfort level with the self-level platform, allowing you to sit comfortably in the gnarliest of trees by adjusting the stand front-to-back like your favorite recliner.

This just might be one of the best ladder stands for bow hunting!

What We Like Lightweight Construction (47 lbs.) Leveling Platform No-Noise Design Made In The USA What We Dislike Expensive Price Point Not Designed For Gun Hunters

For latest prices, and more information on the Novix Raider, we have that as well!

Most Lightweight Ladder Stand - Novix Raider

Things To Consider When Choosing A Ladder Stand Budget

Before anyone purchases a ladder option, you're going to need to evaluate how much these stands cost and how much money you have in the bank account.

While ladder stands seem like they'd be a hefty investment, their price tag is pretty reasonable in all honesty. Of course, you have some very expensive options, especially if you're purchasing a two-man setup; but in the end, you're probably going to spend between $200 and $400 dollars on a reliable stand.

Pro Tip: Recheck all ropes and straps on your ladder stand before each season.


Comfort, comfort, comfort is one of the most important things to keep in mind before purchasing a new ladder stand. 

Hunting while sitting on an uncomfortable metal seat or a soaking wet or cold cushion will have you headed for the cabin in no time!

Many of the top treestand options have moved to a mesh style seat, with the best of the best giving you the choice to fold up the seat in case you need to stand for a bit of time. 

Outside of this, don't forget that comfort also depends on your foot platform size as well. Make sure, especially if you're a big guy, to purchase something with an adequate amount of room to stand up and turn around. Being stuck in one place for hours on end does not lead to a comfortable hunt!

Style Of Hunting

Ladder stands are now being built in several different styles and designs, with some of these options being relatively universal (unlike your hang on ladder stands).

It's important to understand that your style of hunting, either with a bow or rifle, is going to make a huge impact on the effectiveness of you stand. 

For instance, the Novix Raider mentioned above is a relatively solid option for most bowhunters, but because it doesn't have an attached rail, many rifle/shotgun/muzzleloader hunters might find this problematic when trying to balance their gun. 

On the other side of things, there are ladder stands that have static rails that do not move up or down. Being a bowhunter and hunting out of one of these is terribly difficult and should be avoided. Not only is it difficult to draw back a bow, but it also eliminates several shooting lanes.

For a good balance, I would recommend something like the BIG GAME Hunter HD 1.5 that gives you the option of a rail, and the additional option of moving it out of the way with minimal interference. It even lets you move the seat back!


When it comes to ladder stands, most are going to be between 12 and 18 feet tall with a few brands producing models in the 20 and 22 feet category.

While there's not a ton of options when it comes to ladder stand, any of these height options would be considered ideal when deer hunting. As you'll notice below, I would recommend staying around 15 feet or so for an optimal balance of safety and avoiding any scent detection. 

Most Popular Ladder Treestand FAQs 1. What Is A Ladder Stand?

A ladder stand is a model of tree stand that combines a ladder and a platform to enable hunters to hunt above the ground safely and easily. They are usually 12 to 18 feet tall and made out of aluminum or steel. Additionally, the platforms are engineered in two different styles to accommodate one and two people.

2. Are Ladder Stands Better Than Climbing Treestands?

Ladder stands have several advantages over climbing stands.

First, if setup before the hunt, they allow the hunter to quickly, easily, and quietly get up in the tree. Additionally, they are usually more comfortable when compared to climbing stands, and much safer as the stand is securely fixed to the tree.

As far as cons, ladder stands are much heavier and do require an additional hand or two when setting them up. Additionally, they are not recommended for public land as there are sometimes restrictions, and there's a high probability it will get stolen.

3. What's The Best Height For A Ladder Stand?

In the end, the best height for a ladder stand is around 10 to 15 feet. Of course, the closer you are to around the 15 feet market, the better.

4. Are Ladder Stands The Safest Option?

Out of the different types of treestands, the ladder stand is without a doubt the safest option due to the fact that it's placed firmly on the ground and securely attached to the tree. Additionally, the motion of advancing up a traditional ladder structure is inherently more safe than climbing treestands or climbing sticks.

Also, if you're looking for statistics to support our answer, TSSA showcases that only 20% of treestand accidents are caused by ladders.

But when it comes to the safest ladder stand pick, that question has still gone unanswered.

TSSA Treestand Safety

5. Are Deer Scared Of Ladder Stands?

Deer are not scarred of ladder stands. However, this has more to do with when you place your stand in the woods, rather than the type of stand you use.

Placing a ladder stand in the woods week, or even better, months before opening day is going to give deer plenty of time to get accustomed to the object. Additionally, by doing this, you're fully eliminating any scent that might have been on the stand in the first place.

6. Are There Summit Ladder Stands?

Yes, Summit makes one version of a ladder stand called the Summit Two-Person Ladder.

7. Is The BIG GAME Strike XL Ladder Stand Any Good?

Yes, this stand is great second option to the Hunter HD 1.5 mentioned above as it's slightly cheaper at just under $200. Keep in mind though, this stand does not come equipped with a footrest.

8. What Is The Tallest Ladder Stand?

The tallest tree stand is the Primal Treestands Mac Daddy at 22 feet tall. This is a two-person deer hunting ladder stand.

One Thing To Avoid! A Poorly Designed Seat

Ladder stands have come a long way over the years. They've gotten lighter, they're incorporating better accessories, but the most important thing - they've gotten more comfortable. 

Now, that doesn't mean every stand is better! Some treestand brands haven't evolved, and are producing the same designs I hunted on 20 years ago.

When choosing a ladder stand, make sure to avoid two things when it comes to seats. One, do not purchase anything that has a standard metal platform style seat. These are uncomfortable, they rust, they freeze - it's just not ideal.

Two, don't purchase a stand with a cushioned seat. Yes, it sounds great at first until you get up in the stand and realize it's rained the night before... They soak up water and easily break down over the years. 

If possible, try to focus on purchasing a stand with a durable mesh seat. These will provide a good amount of comfort while not absorbing any water or moisture if the weather turns bad.

Answer: In the early 1900s, bird hunters in the Midwest would use ladders to climb trees to get a better vantage point for shooting.

- Patrick Morgan
Best Excalibur Crossbows (2023 Review)

Are you in search of the best Excalibur crossbows on the market today?

The good news is - all the information you need is listed right here! And don't worry, we thought of everything you might be trying to figure out when it comes to Excalibur crossbows.

The blog below is going to summarize the top Excalibur options for the most sought after categories. While the best one might not be the fit for you, the others might offer exactly what you need for your style of hunting.

The Quick Summary
Overall, the Best Excalibur Crossbow is the Excalibur Micro Mag 340!
Below you can check out other top Excalibur options including the... 
- Best Compact Excalibur Crossbow: Excalibur Micro Suppressor 400 TD
- Most Affordable Excalibur Crossbow: Excalibur Mag AIR
- New 2023 Excalibur Crossbow: Excalibur Wolverine
And scroll down to find out the one Excalibur crossbow to avoid!

From my experience hunting with an Excalibur crossbow, this brand has so many amazing options for deer hunters.

Unfortunately, Excalibur doesn't have quite the brand recognition that many other crossbow manufacturers have. But don't sleep on them - these guys are avid hunters and they engineer products that get the job done... and done well!

Question: What are the 3 main types of crossbows? (Answer at the bottom)

Full Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and end up making a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  

Excalibur Micro Mag 340 Excalibur Micro Suppressor 400 TD Excalibur Mag AIR Excalibur Wolverine Highlight Best Overall Best Compact Most Affordable New 2023 Image Best Excalibur Crossbow - Excalbur Micro Mag 340 Best Compact Excalibur Crossbow - Excalibur Micro Suppressor 400 TD Most Affordable Excalibur Crossbow - Excalibur Mag AIR New 2023 Excalibur Crossbow - Excalibur Wolverine FPS 340 400 304 360 Weight 6 lbs 6.8 lbs 4.9 lbs 6.4 lbs Length 31.75" 32" 31" 31.5" Price Around $750 Around $1,200 Around $550 Around $1,100 Best Price Learn More Learn More Learn More Learn More


Best Overall Excalibur Crossbow Excalibur Micro Mag 340

And here's the Excalibur Micro Mag 340 Crossbow – a powerhouse of compact design that grants hunters unparalleled performance, ideal for taking down any game. Engineered with a lightweight aluminum frame and time-tested Excalibur recurve limbs, this crossbow propels arrows downrange with blistering speeds of up to 340 fps.

Its sleek dimensions, measuring just 22" in width when cocked and a mere 31.75" in length, make it the perfect companion for ground blinds or tight treestands. In pursuit of safety, the smooth-breaking trigger boasts Excalibur's Guardian Anti-Dry Fire System.

What sets this crossbow apart is its perfect blend of performance, accuracy, and value. With a draw weight of 270 lbs and a power stroke of 13", it guarantees formidable power and precision. Weighing in at a mere 5.5 lbs, it's designed for ease of use without sacrificing any strength. To ensure you're ready for action, the package includes essential accessories: the Dead Zone Scope, a 4-arrow quiver, 3 Quill arrows equipped with 100-grain field points, and a rope cocking aid.

What We Like Lightweight Construction Highly Ranked By Deer Hunters Great Price Built For Ground Blinds What We Dislike Only 340 FPS

For latest prices, and more information about the Excalibur Micro Mag 340, click below!

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Prepare to be amazed as the Suppressor 400 TD™ takes our Micro platform to extraordinary new heights with its revolutionary High-Output Express Limbs featuring Armor Tips, propelling this crossbow to an unprecedented speed of 400 FPS. The cutting-edge combination of Micro technology and High-Output Express Limbs unlocks a level of performance you've never experienced before.

Crafted with precision and durability in mind, the Suppressor 400 TD™ boasts an aluminum riser, mainframe, and trigger housing construction, ensuring it withstands the harshest conditions during your hunts. You can rely on this crossbow to be your unfailing companion in any adventure.

Effortlessly adapt to your surroundings with the Quick-Loc™ Technology – a simple push of a button allows the Take-Down feature, enabling you to disassemble and reassemble the crossbow in mere seconds, all without compromising accuracy. This flexibility empowers you to stay on the move and tackle diverse hunting scenarios with ease.

What We Like Amazing Speed (400 FPS) Match-Grade Trigger System Compact, Take-Down System What We Dislike Heavier Stock Expensive Price Point

For latest prices, and more information on the Excalibur Micro Suppressor 400 TD, take a look below!

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Why compromise on comfort, maneuverability, and overall weight when you can have it all in an affordable crossbow? With the Mag Air, there's no need to settle for less! This game-changing crossbow is designed to provide you with the ultimate hunting experience without sacrificing any essentials.

The Mag Air stands unrivaled as the lightest, fully accessorized crossbow in the market. In fact, it outshines its competitors by being up to 1 pound lighter, even with their accessories installed! Embracing the Gen2 Synthetic mainframe, it combines cutting-edge engineering to reduce weight while retaining maximum strength. This crossbow not only performs exceptionally but also boasts a stunning design that's sure to turn heads.

Don't let budget constraints limit your hunting aspirations. The Mag Air is a budget-friendly bow that doesn't compromise on performance, allowing you to venture anywhere and pursue any game with confidence. Its compact and lightweight build ensures maneuverability in any hunting situation.

What We Like Great Price! Amazingly Lightweight (4.9 lbs) Compact Length Good Speed For Size What We Dislike Durability Concerns Minimal Accessory Package

For latest prices, and more information on the Excalibur Mag AIR, we have that as well!

Most Affordable Excalibur Crossbow - Excalibur Mag AIR

Top 2023 Excalibur Crossbow Excalibur Wolverine

This crossbow represents a leap into the future, built upon an advanced new platform that embodies power and precision. It proudly upholds the legacy of the recurve revolution that ignited four decades ago, bringing with it a fusion of cutting-edge technology and a tribute to the past, destined to leave a lasting impact on the seasons to come.

Compact, agile, and designed to thrive in any hunting situation, the Excalibur Wolverine stands as a testament to the brand's unrivaled expertise. With a commitment to ruggedness and reliability, this crossbow redefines excellence in its class, embracing Excalibur's legendary design and technology.

Your safety is paramount, and the CeaseFire feature ensures that the crossbow remains still until an arrow is loaded, the safety is off, and the trigger is pulled. Immerse yourself in the ultimate shooting experience with the best-in-class trigger system, mirroring the precision and smoothness of top match-grade rifle triggers.

What We Like Lightweight Stock Vintage Design Match-Grade Rifle Trigger What We Dislike Rope Aid Cocking System

For latest prices, and more information on the Excalibur Wolverine, we have that as well!

New 2023 Excalibur Crossbow - Excalibur Wolverine

Things To Know When Choosing An Excalibur Crossbow Price

Excalibur crossbows range in price from $500 to around $2,000. 

At this particular price range, you might say Excalibur crossbows offer somewhat of an intermediate price range. While they definitely aren't the most expensive, they aren't the cheapest either. 

Excalibur crossbows might not be the most popular brand, but at these price ranges they offer plenty of options to any number of hunters.

Pro Tip: To prevent your crossbow string from fraying or breaking, try to wax your string every 75 shots or so.


After reviewing several different reviews, and scanning hours of YouTube videos, it's clear that Excalibur offers an exceptionally durable crossbow for these prices.

One of the most important things to take a look at is a brand's warranty. Excalibur offers a Limited Lifetime Warranty for many of their models.

Deer hunters have relied upon Excalibur for nearly four decades, and they've lasted this long largely as a result of their products reliability and durability.


Outside of durability, one of the many things Excalibur owners brag about is their crossbow's accuracy.

While many of these crossbows aren't the fastest ones available on the market today, they do offer a construction that keeps shots consistent and on target. 

Add the brand's Pro-Shot match-grade trigger system and pretty much guarantee a combined a crisp, clean and consistent break.

Excalibur Crossbow FAQs 1. Who Makes The Excalibur Crossbows?

Bowtech acquired Excalibur crossbows in 2014. As of today, they still own the company.

2. Are Excalibur Crossbows Any Good?

Yes, Excalibur crossbows are great options for any hunter.

While brands like TenPoint or Ravin might be ranked a bit higher, Excalibur crossbows are better quality than a Killer Instinct or Barnett model.

3. How Fast Does Excalibur Axiom Crossbow Go?

The Excalibur Axiom crossbow has an arrow speed of 305 FPS.

4. What Is The Best Excalibur Crossbow For The Money?

The Excalibur Micro Mag 340 is without doubt the best Excalibur crossbow for the money. At only $750, and with the being a well-tested model, you can't find a better value option.

The One Excalibur Crossbow To Avoid

Before you buy a new Excalibur crossbow, make sure to avoid the Matrix G340!

After watching several unboxing videos and reading numerous reviews, there seems to be some consistent issue with this particular package. Hunters frequently reported that the crossbow's string started loosening over time, and even with additional adjustments, this couldn't be fixed.

There's also some concerns about the durability of the limbs with this recurve style crossbow. 

If possible, I would recommend staying away from this model and steering your focus towards the ones mentioned above.

Answer: Traditional, Compound, and Reverse Draw

For a blog about the Best Beginner Compound Bows, take a look today!

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- Patrick Morgan
Parts Of An Arrow [Beginner's Guide]

No matter if you're a novice looking for the best beginner compound bow, or an experienced hunter wanting a refresh of their knowledge, every archer needs to know the parts of an arrow. 

Take a look at the handy information below that summarizes everything you need to know related to an arrow. This is the base knowledge needed to help you improve your accuracy for both practice, competition shooting, and hunting.

The Main Parts Of An Arrow

Listed below are the different parts of an arrow, and a brief description of each.

Parts Of An Arrow Illustration

1. Nock

An arrow nock (also known as "nock" or "nock point") is a small plastic or metal component located at the rear end of an arrow. It is designed to fit onto the bowstring, allowing the arrow to be securely held in place before and during the shot.

The arrow nock typically has a V-shaped or half-moon groove that accommodates the bowstring, ensuring proper alignment of the arrow with the string. This alignment is essential for consistent and accurate shooting. When an archer prepares to shoot, they place the arrow's nock onto the bowstring, between two nocking points, which are usually small brass, plastic, string loops placed on the bowstring to ensure consistent arrow placement.

The nock plays a critical role in archery, as it helps maintain the arrow's position and orientation during the draw and release, which directly impacts the flight path of the arrow. By having a consistent and secure nocking point, archers can improve their accuracy and precision in hitting their target. It's crucial to inspect and maintain the arrow nocks regularly to ensure they are in good condition and perform optimally during shooting.

2. Fletching

Arrow fletching refers to the feathers or vanes attached to the rear end of an arrow. These fletchings play a crucial role in stabilizing the arrow during flight, ensuring accuracy and consistency in its trajectory. By creating drag and controlling the arrow's spin, fletchings help keep the arrow on a straight path and counteract the effects of wind and other external factors.

Traditionally, arrows were fletched with natural feathers from birds, such as turkey or goose feathers. However, modern arrows often use synthetic materials for fletchings, such as plastic vanes, which offer durability and consistency.

The fletchings are typically attached near the nock end of the arrow, with most arrows having three fletchings positioned at equal angles around the shaft. Different configurations, like two fletchings or even four fletchings, are also used in specialized circumstances.

3. Shaft

An arrow shaft is the main body or central component of an arrow. It is the long, straight part of the arrow that connects the arrowhead at the front to the nock at the rear end. The shaft is responsible for transferring the energy from the bow to the arrowhead, propelling the arrow forward when the bow is released.

Arrow shafts are typically made of various materials, with the most common being:

1. Wood: Historically, arrows were primarily made from wood, such as cedar, pine, or birch. Wooden arrow shafts are still used today, especially in traditional archery, due to their natural and traditional appeal.

2. Aluminum: Modern arrow shafts made from aluminum are widely used in target archery and recreational shooting. They offer consistency, durability, and are available in various diameters and wall thicknesses.

3. Carbon: Carbon arrow shafts are prevalent in both target archery and hunting. They are lightweight, strong, and have excellent consistency, making them popular among archers who require high-performance arrows.

The choice of arrow shaft material depends on the archer's preference, shooting style, and purpose. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages, and selecting the right arrow shaft is crucial for achieving optimal performance and accuracy while shooting.

4. Insert

An arrow insert is a small component that is typically made of metal, plastic, or other durable materials. It is designed to be installed into the front end of an arrow shaft. The primary purpose of an arrow insert is to provide a threaded connection point for attaching the arrowhead or point to the arrow shaft.

When constructing an arrow, the arrowhead (broadhead or field point) is screwed into the arrow insert, which is pre-installed inside the arrow shaft. This threaded connection ensures a secure and reliable attachment of the arrowhead, preventing it from coming loose during shooting.

Arrow inserts come in different sizes and thread patterns to match the corresponding arrow shafts and arrowheads. They are often glued or pressed into the front end of the arrow shaft during the arrow assembly process. Additionally, some inserts are designed to have specific weights, allowing archers to customize the arrow's overall weight and balance according to their preferences and shooting needs.

5. Point

An arrow point, also known as an arrowhead, is the tip or front end of an arrow. It is the part of the arrow that makes direct contact with the target and is responsible for penetrating the target upon impact. Arrow points come in various shapes and designs, each suited for specific purposes such as hunting, target shooting, or traditional archery.

There are two primary types of arrow points:

1. Broadheads: Broadheads are used for hunting and are designed with sharp blades to create a wide cutting diameter upon impact. They are meant to cause significant tissue damage and ensure a lethal shot. Broadheads can be fixed-blade (with stationary blades) or mechanical (with deployable blades).

2. Field Points: Field points are used for target shooting and practice. They have a simple, rounded shape and are typically made of metal or plastic. Field points help maintain the arrow's flight characteristics similar to that of broadheads, making them ideal for honing accuracy.

Types Of Arrow Points

Other Arrow Features To Know...

When asked to name the parts of an arrow, you'll also have these too:

1. Wrap

An arrow wrap is a self-adhesive vinyl that is wrapped around the rear of the shaft.

While it's not the most important part of an arrow, many archers still utilize wraps for hunting to help determine the placement of their shot based on the color of the arrow after it exits the animal. They are also used as a more secure surface to attach the vane to.

Additionally, they do add a pretty cool traditional look to most arrows... if you're interested in that.

2. O-Ring

An o-ring is a small rubber, circular band that fits between the insert and the point of an arrow.

O-rings are not commonly used to today because of the small diameter of carbon arrows. Before this, they were used to ensure a more secure fit between the point and the insert.

However, some archers still utilize o-rings to help align their broadhead with the vanes.

Other Arrow Features

What About Arrow Length & Spine Measurements?

The spine rating of an arrow is basically the measurement of the arrow's flex or bend - or its stiffness.

The ideal arrow has the perfect balance of flex and forgiveness, and each archer must evaluate their arrow length, arrow weight, and point weight to determine what's best for them.

Hunting arrows usually range from a spine of 500 on the weaker side, to 300 or so on the stiffer side.

Arrow Length Spine Chart


Arrow Parts FAQs 1. What Are The 5 Main Parts Of An Arrow Called?

There are 5 main parts of an arrow: Nock, Fletching, Shaft, Insert, and Point.

2.What Is The Feather On An Arrow Called?

The feather or vane portion of an arrow is called the fletching.

3.What Is The Notch At The End Of An Arrow Called?

The notch at the end of the arrow is called a nock.

4. What Are Arrow Heads Called?

Arrow heads are usually referred to as field points or broadheads. Archers will use field points for practice and/or competition shooting, and will use broadheads specifically for hunting.

Broadheads and field points are the two main parts of an arrowhead.

5.What Is The Thing Called That Carries Arrows?

Archers will, at times, have or carry a quiver to hold their arrows. Hunters usually have what's known as a detachable quiver that can attach to the bow during travel but be removed while in a treestand or blind.

Competition archers will usually have a belt or hip quiver that hold their arrows by their waste and out of the way of the bow.

Parts Of An Arrow Video

Also, in case you're interested we have a blog summarizing the Best Crossbow Bolts too!

- Patrick Morgan

Before you go out and purchase the best hunting dog e-collar, you might want to figure out how you're going to use the thing while hunting!

The blog below is going to explain how hunters like myself utilize an e-collar out in the field. 

Now, there are a lot of great resources out there, and I've spent the last 8 years combing through hours of YouTube videos and reading countless articles on what everyone else is doing. I've also spent several years training with individuals that participate in the NAVHDA program - although I have never personally put my dogs through any of their tests.

Over the past 8 years, I've been training two GSPs (in my opinion the best hunting dog breed out there), and this is what I've learned...

Introducing Your Hunting Dog To An E-Collar

The video below is one I've watched countless times, and one I've revisited over and over to better understand how to introduce my dogs to the e-collar. All in all, I've used these suggestions, along with a few things I've learned in the field, to summarize these key steps:

1. I let my dogs start wearing an e-collar when they're around 12 weeks old; however, I do not use it whatsoever. My main goal is to desensitize them to the collar. If you add an e-collar to a dog, and immediately start using any sort of stimulation, they will immediately associate the two together (They are not dumb). And this is something you don't really want.

2. During the 14-17 weeks time period, I'll utilize a choke collar for negative reinforcement with the e-collar on the dog. Again, I do not use the e-collar yet. 

3. After a week or two, once the dog starts understanding negative reinforcement with the choke collar, I'll slowly start to introduce the e-collar on vibration mode. I feel as though this additional step is a better bridge to stronger stimulation levels. 

4. If the dog continues to progress while utilizing the choke collar and vibration mode, I'll begin simultaneously "nicking" the dog with the e-collar stimulation while utilizing the choke lead. Don't forget to slowly work your way up through the stimulation levels till you better understand what level captures your dog's attention (This is explained well in the video below).

Key Thing To Avoid While Using An E-Collar

Similar to what I mentioned before, I would recommend not using stimulation right after first introducing the e-collar to the dog. In all honesty, you don't want to associate anything negative with the collar.

Additionally, remember to take it slowly with e-collar training. You can always speed up the training as progress occurs, but it's very hard to undo anything that negatively impacts a dog.

Ways To Use An E-Collar For Training

These are the top ways I use an e-collar for training. Of course, there are plenty more, but these are the most important in my opinion. Additionally, I'm listing out a few of my favorite videos for each command.

1. Recall Command

The recall command is one of the most important hunting commands out there, and one that can be utilized at home each and every day.

The video below showcases how utilizing an e-collar can reinforce the recall command.

Additionally, one of my favorite things about an e-collar is the use of the tone feature. This features allows you to do what's called 'silent commands' - meaning you can initiate a command in a non-verbal manner. Keep this in mind when figuring how to choose a hunting dog e-collar.

2. Heel Command

While the heel command can be successfully implemented without an e-collar, the video below is going to showcase how using this tool can help any hunter in their training. 

3. Whoa Command

A lot of hunters utilize several different methodologies for whoa training, but I've found the technique below to be the most effective. 

A good e-collar with some half-hitch training can produce tremendous bird dogs that will whoa in any situation!

How Does An E-Collar Help While Hunting?

Similar to the training situations above, every hunter needs to know how they transfer these teachings to the field. The summary below showcases why an e-collar is a necessity while out hunting. 

1. Missing A Bird - Using The Recall Command

Let's say you're out in the field, the flush happens, the shotgun fires and... you miss! Most dogs, if not trained well, will continue to pursue the bird. Unfortunately, this isn't always the best as dogs might flush the bird again while out of shooting range. 

With the recall command, you're able to get your dogs back to your position immediately if you miss your shot. By doing this, you're able to let the bird land undisturbed. You can then pursue the bird again at a closer range, increasing your chances of success.

2. Leaving A Bird - Using The Heel Command

For those that hunt with two dogs, you might run into a situation where both dogs are on point. While this isn't the worst thing, you're really not putting yourself or the dogs in a good position to succeed.

If this happens, and if your dog is properly trained, you can utilize the heel command (with some stimulation for extra reinforcement) to bring your dog off point and to another location. 

3. Stopping The Creep / Backing - Using The Whoa Command

While this is mostly for young dogs, you might find yourself in a position where your dog goes on point, then they slowly start to creep towards the bird.

To avoid this, and to guarantee a consistent point, I sometimes utilize a belly collar on my younger dog. If at any point I notice the dog start to creep, I'll apply a low level of stimulation to the belly collar to get the dog to stop.

My Final Thoughts On Using An E-Collar For Hunting

Overall, I find that utilizing an e-collar (especially from top e-collar brands) has helped tremendously while both training my dogs and ensuring a safe and effective hunt.

Of course, e-collars aren't going to be for everyone, but I would definitely recommend taking a hard look at this piece of hunting gear and weighing both the pros and cons.

Also, if you're interested in a blog about the Best Upland Hunting Vest we have that too!

- Patrick Morgan
10 Benefits Of Deer Meat (Venison)

Deer meat, also known as venison, has a number of positive benefits that make it a great, and even superior, alternative compared to other meats. Sure, you may be much more familiar and even stuck on the tried and true chicken and beef varieties, but there are many benefits to be found in deer meat. Plus, it simply tastes great!

This article lists our top ten reasons for eating deer meat. Here are the major three benefits to eating deer meat:

1. Lean Protein

2. Low Fat

3. Nutrient Dense

Keep reading on below to learn more about all ten benefits. And stick around to the end to gain some tips on how to best prepare and cook venison.

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Curious How Many People A Deer Will Feed? We have the answer for you!

The 10 Benefits of Deer Meat (Venison) 1. Lean Protein

Venison is a great source of high-quality lean protein. It contains all the essential amino acids needed to repair body tissues and for your body’s growth. Compared to beef and pork, deer meat is generally much leaner and makes for a great substitute while still giving you the high-quality protein you’re looking for.

There are several reasons for this including deer’s muscle composition and their diet and environment.

Deer are very active animals and thus, they develop strong muscles. Cattle and pigs on the other hand are very sedentary animals. When comparing the two, it’s quite obvious that the active wild animal is going to have a lot of lean muscle while the more sedentary animal will have more fat.

Venison vs Beef

As for their diet and environment, wild deer are just that, wild. They eat grass, leaves, and other plant materials. This natural diet helps give them their lean physique. Whereas on the other hand, animals on a farm may be fed high-calorie diets designed to make them bigger quicker, which leads to less muscle and more fat.

According to the US Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database, three ounces of ground venison contains 159 calories, 22.5 grams of protein, 7 grams of fat and 83 mg of cholesterol. In comparison, a three-ounce cooked serving of 90% lean ground beef with 10% fat contains 173 calories, 21.4 grams of protein, 9.1 grams of fat, and 71 mg of cholesterol. Meanwhile, a three-ounce serving of cooked ground beef that is 95% lean meat and 5% fat provides 139 calories, 22 grams of protein, 5.1 grams of fat, and 71 mg of cholesterol.

2. Lower Fat Content

If you’re looking to reduce your overall fat intake, while still eating meat, lean meats are key, and deer meat is a great option. This goes right along with deer meat containing more lean protein. Deer meat is especially low in saturated fat, which is linked to heart disease, so right there it’s the better choice “cardiovascular-speaking”. It’s also low in intramuscular and subcutaneous fat.

Intramuscular fats are better known as marbling. Marbling can be more commonly seen on meats like beef and pork. It’s the visible fat that is scattered within muscle. Sometimes, people seek this out as it can improve the flavor and tenderness of some meat. But too much of this can lead to simply too much overall fat content.

Subcutaneous fat is the layer of fat that can be found right beneath the skin. Again, deer typically will have much less subcutaneous fat than cows or pigs, contributing once again to deer meat being the better choice for lean meat.

3. Nutrient Dense

Another major benefit of deer meat is that it has a high number of essential nutrients. These include iron, zinc, selenium, B vitamins, and vitamin E. These nutrients are vital for maintaining optimal bodily functions, producing energy, immune system support, and metabolism. And they can all be found in venison.

As a quick note, here are some helpful reminders concerning the benefits of these different nutrients:

Iron is crucial for the production of red blood cells, helping transport oxygen throughout the body as well as maintaining a healthy immune function and metabolism.

Zinc also plays an important role in immune system function as well as helping with wounds healing among other benefits.

B vitamins are essential for energy metabolism, nervous system functions, and producing red blood cells.

Selenium has antioxidant properties and helps protect cells from damage, while also being important to support of the immune system and thyroid function.

Vitamin E is important for vision, reproduction health and healthy blood, brain and skin. It also contains antioxidants help protect the body from cell and tissue damage.

4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Compared to grain-fed animals, deer that graze on a natural diet have much higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are an essential fat that plays an important role in the function of our bodies. They reduce inflammation, improve heart health, support brain function, and provide for healthier skin.

5. Lower Chemical Exposure

Deer, wild deer, will be less likely exposed to things such as antibiotics, hormones, artificial additives, etc., than farmed animals.

6. Allergen-Friendly

Some people are allergic to meats such as beef, pork, and chicken. For those people, deer meat serves as a great alternative with all the benefits listed here.

7. Sustainable & Ethical

Hunting deer can mean less land cleared for intensive farming, the control of deer overpopulation, and promotes the balance of natural ecosystems.

8. Cultural Significance

Hunting deer meat can bring you much closer and foster a deeper relationship to the meat you eat than just simply buying it from a grocery store. The act of hunting alone is a tradition older than time. And even if you do buy it from a grocery store, that may be helping provide for a hunter elsewhere.

9. Versatile

Deer meat can be used and cooked all sorts of ways. From steaks and roasts, to sausages and stews, deer meat has a lot of to offer in a variety of ways.

10. Unique Flavor

And finally, deer meat tastes great! It’s got a unique rich flavor that is also slightly sweet. It can definitely add a unique twist to a recipe that has gone stale from overusing the same type of meat each time.

My Final Thoughts On The Benefits Of Deer Meat

In conclusion, deer meat, or venison, is a great alternative choice to other more widely used meats. It’s a great source of lean protein with little fat and high nutrients. It adds a unique flavor to your meals and is versatile. And furthermore, it is an environmentally friendly option – and if you hunt your own deer meat, it will give you a newfound sense of closeness to the food you eat. Everyone ought to try it!

In case you're interested, we also have a great blog summarizing the Best Deer Hunting States!

- Patrick Morgan
Best Beginner Compound Bow [2023 Update]

Picking out the best beginner compound bow is an incredibly difficult task and one that should not be taken lightly. 

First, compound bows are not the cheapest item on your list of hunting gear, and if you're going to use one of these for hunting, you're going to want to pick out one that's going to get the job done!

There's a lot of good information out there on which bow is the best, but sometimes the information isn't always easy to comprehend. There are so many options, and the advice gets a little confusing.

But that stops here!

The Quick Summary
Overall, the Best Beginner Compound Bow for hunting is the Bear Archery Cruzer G2!
Below you can check out other top compound bow options including the... 
- Best Beginner Compound Bow For Youth: Genesis Compound Bow
- Best Beginner Compound Bow For Women: Diamond Infinite 305
- Most Affordable Beginner Compound Bow: Bear Archery Royale
And scroll down to find out the one thing to remember before buying your new beginner bow!

I've been using a compound bow for over 20 years, first starting off with my very own Browning Mirco Midas (Anyone remember those?)... and then graduating to a PSE, and then a Hoyt, and then a Mathews.

The good thing about choosing a beginner bow today is the fact that the technology and options have advanced tremendously. Any new archer can pick out a bow that has an amazing list of features and capabilities, and so at a reasonable price. And the best part - these bows will last for years... and I'll tell you why below.

Trivia Question: When was the first compound bow invented? (Click here to see answer).

Full Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and end up making a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  

Bear Archery Cruzer G2 Genesis Compound Bow Diamond Infinite 305 Bear Archery Royale Highlight Best Overall Best Youth Best Women Most Affordable Image Best Beginner Compound Bow - Bear Archery Cruzer G2 Best Beginner Compound Bow For Youth - Genesis Compound Bow Kit Best Beginner Compound Bow For Women - Diamond Infinite 305 Most Affordable Beginner Compound Bow - Bear Archery Royale Draw Weight 5-70 lbs 10-20 lbs 5-70 lbs 5-50 lbs Draw Length 12-30" 15-30" 19-31" 12-17" Full Package Yes No Yes Yes Price Around $400 Around $160 Around $400 Around $320 Best Price Learn More Learn More Learn More Learn More


Best Beginner Compound Bow Bear Archery Cruzer G2

The Bear Archery Cruzer G2 is the best starter compound bow for beginners because it offers maximum-versatility, it's engineered for all ages and skill levels, and is ready to use for hunting!

Bear Archery Cruzer G2 Review

Let's jump right into it! Looking for a compound bow that ticks all the boxes? Look no further than the Bear Archery Cruzer G2. This incredible bow is a game-changer for hunters and target shooters of all levels. With its adjustable draw length range of 12" to 30" and variable draw weight from 5 to 70 lbs., it's suitable for both kids and adults.

The Cruzer G2 comes fully equipped for most hunting ventures, featuring six Trophy Ridge accessories that cover all your needs. From a four-pin sight for precision aiming to a Whisker Biscuit arrow rest for optimal accuracy, this bow has it all. Weighing a mere 3 lbs., it's lightweight and easy to handle. With its lightning-fast arrow speed of 315 feet per second, smooth draw cycle, and advanced grip design, the Cruzer G2 ensures an enjoyable shooting experience. Plus, with the RockStops offset string suppressors, it keeps noise and vibration to a minimum, ensuring a quiet and stealthy performance.

In summary, the Bear Archery Cruzer G2 is a good compound bow for beginners. Its versatility, adjustability, and accuracy make it a standout choice. Whether you're a seasoned hunter or a beginner target shooter, this bow is your perfect companion.

What We Like Widest Draw Length Range On Market 314 FPS Shooting Speed Durable & Reliable Brand Ready To Hunt Package What We Dislike Somewhat Expensive At $400 No Custom Package Options

For latest prices, and more information about the Bear Archery Cruzer G2, click below!

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The Genesis compound bow has redefined archery for beginners and intermediates alike. These bows stand out with their innovative design, eliminating let-off and specific draw length requirements. This makes Genesis bows the perfect choice for archers of all ages, sizes, and athletic abilities.

One of the remarkable advantages of Genesis bows is their adaptability. The Original bow, for instance, can be easily adjusted as archers grow and improve their skills. With a provided 3/16" hex wrench, the draw weight can be safely lowered from the standard 20 lbs. to 10 lbs. This ensures that beginners won't develop bad habits due to using an ill-fitting bow.

Genesis bows cover a wide range of draw lengths, accommodating arms from 15" to 30". Built with a sturdy construction, including a machined 6061-T6 aluminum riser, aluminum cam and idler wheel, and composite limbs, these bows are built to last. With zero let-off, a cable guard, molded competition grip, and compatibility with standard accessories, Genesis bows offer a smooth shooting experience.

What We Like Affordable Price Minimal Construction 0% Let-Off Official Bow Of National Archery In The Schools Program  What We Dislike No Accessories Included Not Used For Hunting

For latest prices, and more information on the Genesis Compound Bow, take a look below!

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Here's the Diamond Archery Infinite 305 compound bow - designed to accommodate archers of all ages and skill levels, this bow offers extreme adjustability and superior performance and is one of the top compound bows for beginners.

The Infinite 305 stands out with its hassle-free adjustability. Simply remove the module screws, adjust the draw length from 19 to 31 inches, and re-tighten—it's that easy. With a wide draw weight range from 5 to 70 lbs., this bow grows with you as you progress in your archery journey.

Built with premium materials, including an aluminum riser, aluminum cams, and top-quality strings and cables, the Infinite 305 ensures both accuracy and durability. Its torque-reducing design promotes consistent hand position, resulting in tighter arrow groupings and improved accuracy. Plus, the carbon construction effectively absorbs excessive string vibration and noise, offering a smooth and quiet shooting experience.

Fully equipped with accessories such as a Furnace 4-Arrow Quiver, Stryker 3 Pin Sight, Boost 5 Inch Stabilizer, Octagon Rest, Wrist Strap, and a 3 Strand Peep, the Infinite 305 is ready for action right out of the box. Experience the versatility, adjustability, and performance of the Diamond Archery Infinite 305 Compound Bow and elevate your archery game to new heights.

What We Like Large Draw Weight Range Fully Accessorized Ideal Hunting Bow For Beginners Forgiving/Efficient Design What We Dislike No EZ Adjust Sytem Relatively Heavy (3.3 lbs)

For latest prices, and more information on the Diamond Infinite 305, we have that as well!

Most Affordable Beginner Compound Bow Bear Archery Royale

The Royale provides an ideal starting point, with a draw weight that begins at an easy-to-pull 5 lbs. and can be adjusted up to a more serious 50 lbs. as your young hunter grows in skill. The draw length is also adjustable, ranging from 12" to 27", and all adjustments can be easily made using an Allen wrench—eliminating the need for a bow press.

Equipped with a Trophy Ridge Mist sight, 5-Spot quiver, Whisker Biscuit, Fletcher Archery No Tie Peep, and a nock loop, the Royale comes fully prepared for hunting. Weighing only 2.7 lbs. (bow only) or 3.3 lbs. (with included accessories), it is incredibly lightweight and easy to carry.

Featuring a super smooth draw cycle with a 75% let-off, the Royale delivers exceptional performance. Arrows fly at an impressive speed of 290 feet per second, ensuring accuracy and power. The EnduraFiber Limbs provide controlled and lethal strength, while the RockStops offset string suppressor effectively eliminates noise and vibration.

In the end, this is a good starter bow for adults!

What We Like Great Value Bow Package! Easy To Adjust - No Bow Press Required High Quality Accessories 290 FPS Shooting Speed What We Dislike Smaller Draw Length Range

For latest prices, and more information on the Bear Archery Royale, we have that as well!

Most Affordable Beginner Compound Bow - Bear Archery Royale

Things To Consider When Choosing A Compound Bow For Beginners Draw Weight

Draw weight is one of the top things to keep in mind when purchasing a compound bow. 

I say this because if you're not able to safely and effectively pull back your bow, you're not going to be able to do anything else in terms of advancing your skills in archery.

Additionally, you want to make sure the draw weight range enables you to grow with the bow, especially if you're purchasing one when you're relatively young.

Aside from this, having a large draw weight range gives you the opportunity to hunt several different types of animals, as some require more poundage than others.

Pro Tip: Your knuckles should be at a 45 degree angle to the bow grip, meaning just the pad of your thumb is resting on the grip.

Draw Length

Similar to draw weight, draw length is another important point of consideration, but for a few different reasons. 

First, similar to draw weight, a proper draw length is going to enable anyone looking for the best beginner bow for archery to establish a sound shooting form. If you're going to take your first step into archery, you're going to want to learn how to shoot properly, and having a bow that fits you and your draw length is the first step.

A variable draw length bow also allows any beginner to keep the same bow over time, while maintaining the correct shooting from. As you start to grow, your draw length begins to change, and having a bow that adapts to this is going to be a necessity.


Once your draw weight and draw length are properly established, any beginner is going to want to evaluate the let-off percentage of your bow. 

The reason why compound bows are recommended so highly when first starting out in archery is because they are easier to shoot. To go deeper, they are easier to shoot because the archer does not have to hold the entire weight of the bow at full draw as compound bows use cables and cams to reduce the bow - what's called 'let-off'. But again, not quite as easy when compared to a crossbow...

I would recommend looking for a compound bow that has a let-off of 75%-80%, which is pretty common for today's bow manufacturers. Of course, going below this isn't bad. It's just going to be a little more difficult when establishing good shooting mechanics.


With any piece of hunting gear, the price of the product and the value you get from that product is going to be something every hunter thinks about.

Beginner style compound bows, while they do say 'beginner', aren't going to have a cheap price tag... most of the time. 

If you're going to spend any amount of money on a compound bow, I would make sure you pick something that has the versatility to last for years. In other words, try to purchase something with a wide range of draw lengths and draw weights, so you're not pigeonhole into something for just a season or two.

Beginner Compound Bow FAQs 1. What Is The Recommended Draw Weight For Beginners?

Take a look at the chart below for the recommend bow weight by age and gender:

Age Segment Weight Range (lbs) 8-12 Youth 10-16 12-14 Youth 14-22 15-18 Youth 24-28 18-21 Female 26-36 21-25 Female 30-40 25-30 Female 35-45 30-35 Male 40-50 35-40 Male 45-60 40-45 Male 50-65 45+ Male 55-70
2. How Much Is An Entry Level Bow?

Most entry level compound bows are going to cost between $200 and $400.

3. Are Compound Bows Good For Beginners?

Yes, compound bows are great for beginners for several reasons.

First, as mentioned above, compound bows have what's called 'let-off', something not found in traditional style bows like longbows or recurves.

Additionally, accessories such as bow sights and release aids, enable a beginner archery to learn quicker and establish more consistent shots early on.

4. What Do I Need To Know Before Buying A Beginner Bow?

Here are few things to know before buying a compound bow:

1. You're going to want a reliable archery shop once you start. Being around experienced and knowledgable archers is going to help you properly pick out your bow, get fitted to your bow, and provide easy insight into the world of archery.

2. You're going to need a place to practice. Either your backyard or an archery range.

3. Being good at archery takes time. After buying your bow, start learning about shooting basics and proper shooting form.

4. Shooting a bow has an initial upfront cost, but once you have your gear it's a relatively affordable sport to do.

Also, be sure to check out any compound bow beginners guides too!

One Thing To Remember... Not All Bows Are Super Adjustable

When buying a compound bow for beginners, I would highly recommend buying one that can be adjusted as you grow and as your needs change.

For most high-end bows from brands like Matthew, PSE, and Hoyt, you're not going to have a lot of adjustments when it comes to draw length and draw weight. Of course, you're are able to adjust the limbs and cams, but this will require purchasing additional parts from the manufacturer.

Many of the bows listed above have a wide range of adjustments for length and weight, and that's why they are great picks for any beginner. If you stay within this area, you should have something that will last for years and for several different hunting situations.

Answer: The first compound bow was invented in 1966 by Holless Wilbur Allen in North Kansas City, Missouri.

For a blog about the Best Hunting Clothing Brands, take a look today!

- Patrick Morgan
The Different Types of Deer Mounts

So you just bagged a nice buck, and you're trying to figure out which type of deer mount is best for you!

Well... you've come to the right place.

Listed below are the most popular types of deer mount styles utilized by hunters today. While there are several options, the list to choose from is relatively straight forward. 

Of course, each style of mount has their own pros and cons, as well as different price points. Be sure to read each section below before making your final pick.

What Are The Different Types of Deer Mounts?

Listed below are the several different styles of mounts hunters choose for their whitetail.

What Are The Different Types of Deer Mounts?

1. Shoulder Mount

A traditional shoulder mount is probably one of the most well-known types of mounts out there, and most likely the deer mount you see when walking into a hunting store or hunting lodge.

These mounts include the head and neck, and go down to the shoulder of the deer. 

While many of these are traditionally mounted on the wall, you are seeing several hunters utilize what's called a pedestal mount, while also incorporating some sort of base structure to hold it up.

A professionally done shoulder mount from a taxidermist can cost you between $300 and $700.

To go into more details, check out the many different types of shoulder mounts available from taxidermists:

Shoulder Mount Type Overview Image  Upright A shoulder mount where the chin and nose are a few inches above the shoulder. Standard Shoulder Mount Semi-Upright A shoulder mount where the chin and nose are level with the shoulder. Semi Upright Shoulder Mount Semi-Sneak A shoulder mount where the chin and nose are below the shoulder. Semi Sneak Shoulder Mount Full Sneak A shoulder mount where the head is extended straight out. Full Sneak Shoulder Mount Wall Pedestal A shoulder mount which is put up against a wall, with either the left or right shoulder against the wall and head is facing away from the wall, into the room. Wall Pedestal Shoulder Mount Pedestal A shoulder mount which is put up on a wooden base or other structure - not against a wall. Pedestal Shoulder Mount
2. Full Body Mount

For those looking to do something a little more than a shoulder mount, you might want to check out what's known as a full body mount.

As the name suggests, this means the full body of the deer is mounted for display.

Now, while these mounts are amazing to look at that, there are few cons. First, they're obviously much more expensive when compared to shoulder mounts, and you also need a lot of room to display one of these.

A full body mount is a great way to display a large deer, or a scene that properly depicts your kill. 

A professionally done full body deer mount from a taxidermist can cost you between $1,800 and $3,500.

3. Antler Mount

For those that want something very simple and cheap to complete, I would personally recommend an antler mount.

While you're not able to display anything related to the deer's body structure, you are able to easily display those antlers... which isn't always a bad thing.

Some hunter incorporate a high-quality wooden plague, and a simple velvet skull cover to spice up the display.

An antler mount can be successfully completed for under $200.

4. Skull Antler Mount (European Mount)

Very similar to the antler mount mentioned above, the European mount incorporates one additional feature - the skull.

For this process, the antlers are kept attached to the skull, and the skull is cleaned and polished for a better overall look.

Similar to the other mount, you can utilize a high-quality wooden plagues to hold the mount against a wall.

Similar to an antler mount, a European mount can be done for under $200 as well.

More Information On Deer Mounts

For a blog that talks about What Deer Poop Looks Like, we have that too!

- Patrick Morgan
How To Identify The Parts Of A Compound Bow

No matter if you're looking for the best compound bow for beginners, or if you just want to brush up on some knowledge, every archer needs to know the key parts of a compound bow!

Nowadays, bows have become so complex that it's nice to have a quick chart pointing on each part of a bow... and that's exactly what I've done!

Take a look at the charts below, as well as the list of each component and why it's important. Also, there's a quick, handy guide that lays out some really key compound bow measurements to know as well. 

Most Important Parts Of A Compound Bow

The list below is going to summarize the most important parts of a compound bow to know!

Most Important Parts of a Compound Bow

1. Riser

A riser is the main piece and/or body of a compound bow that holds all additional accessories, including the limbs. 

While most compound bow risers are made out of aluminum, you will find some other materials used in lower cost, less reliable bows.

2. Axles

An axle is the part of a compound bow that holds the cams in place between the limbs.

3. Cams

Cams are the oval shaped wheels located at the end of the limbs that are held in place by the bow's axles.

These components take rotary motion and transform it into linear motion or vice versa - allowing archers to hold a higher level of weight more comfortably. This is otherwise known as let-off percentage.

In the past, hunters usually shot single cam bows, but today many manufacturers are moving to two or dual (eccentric) cam systems to improve accuracy and velocity.

4. Limbs

A bow's limbs are connected to the riser and hold the axle/cam system at the very end. 

This is the part of the bow that provides its power as the limbs are designed to flex once the bow is drawn. Energy is stored in the bow's limbs and then transferred to the arrow upon release.

Lastly, most limbs a made out of fiberglass and other composite materials.

Additionally, compound bows are made with single limb or split limb designs, with the latter being the most popular today.

5. Limb Bolts

Limb bolts are what connects the limbs to the riser within the limb pockets. 

You can adjust the bolts using a standard allen key. By tightening the bolts you increase the weight of the bow, and by loosening the bolts you decrease the weight of the bow. 

It's very important to keep in mind that the limbs should be adjusted equally to prevent malfunctions and/or inconsistent shots.

Other Compound Bow Parts To Know....

The list doesn't just end here. There are several other parts of a compound bow that make it so efficient!

Other Compound Bow Parts To Know....

6. Sight

A bow sight is usually a circular or square housing that holds fiberoptic pins that help archers aim at certain distances. 

While there are many different types of sights, many archers prefer to use a 3 to 5 pin static sight.

7. Quiver

A quiver is an accessory that properly and safely stores and holds an archer's arrows while hunting and shooting. 

Back in the day, many quiver were two-piece style designs that permanently attached to the side of the bow. Nowadays, many manufacturers are designing lightweight, single-piece quivers that can be detached from the bow. 

8. Cable Slide & Guard

A cable guard is a horizontal pole that exits from the back of the bow's riser that holds the cable in a slightly offset angle to prevent any disruption to the arrow.

The cable is connected to the guard by a cable slide, which allows the cable to move back and forth upon an archer's draw and release with minimal friction occurring.

9. Arrow Rest

The arrow rest is a compound bow accessory that holds the arrow in place within the arrow shelf while at rest and at full draw.

There are several different types of arrow rests including "drop-aways", containment, launcher, etc.

10. Grip

The grip is located right below the arrow shelf and is the location where an archer holds the bow.

Many modern bows are equipped with a relatively simple wooden or tactical style grips that's designed to improve the ergonomics of the hunter. 

Keep in mind, many archers to change out or customize their grip based on individual preferences.

11. Stabilizer

A bow stabilizer is a weighted rod that's mounted on the front side of the riser below the archer's grip area. However, you might notice some archer's utilizing what's known as a rear back bar (v-bar) stabilizer that's mounted on the rear side of the riser and has a slight drop.

Stabilizers are meant to give archers added stability and balance, while also minimizing vibration.

12. Sling

A bows sling attaches to the front portion of the riser, usually by screwing in your stabilizer through the opening slot, and wraps around your hand. 

This is used so hunters don't need need to tightly grip the handle. An individual can relax their hand during the shot and rely on the sling for some peace of mind.

13. Cables

The bow's cables (or buss cables) are the cables that connect the cams on your compound bow. They are utilized to transfer energy from the cams to the limbs, while also keeping the cams in sync.

Additionally, the cables are the main thing that control's the bow's weight.

14. Bowstring

As cables transfer energy from the cams to the limbs, the bow string transfers energy from the limbs to the arrow.

Many don't know this, but a bowstring has a serving section and a loop section.

The serving section is the part of the string that attaches to both ends, while the loop section is where you attach the arrow.

Additionally, bowstrings have to be replaced at twice the rate as cables.

15. Peep Sight

A peep sight is small hole (or hollow circle) placed within the bowstring.

It's used by archers to narrow their field of vision, and to give a consistent marker, to better focus on the sight.

16. Loop

A loop (or D Loop) is a piece of cord that attaches to the bowstring to provide archers with a better connection point for bow release aids.

Key Compound Bow Measurements

Just in case you're interested, I added a few key measurements to remember when shopping for a compound bow...

Key Compound Bow Measurements

1. Axle-To-Axle (ATA) Length

The axle-to-axle length, or ATA, is the distance between each axle of a bow. Said differently, it's the length between the ends of the limbs where the axles/cams rotate. 

Most bows have an axle-to-axle length of 30" to 33". And of course, there are pros and cons to each. A longer ATA means a little more stability and better accuracy, and that's why you see so many competition shooters favor this. 

However, many hunters prefer a shorter ATA due to the maneuverability and compactness of these bows.

2. Brace Height

Brace height is the horizontal measurement from the deepest point of an archer's grip to the bow string (while the bow is at rest). 

You'll find that most bows have a brace height of 7" to 8" with minimal variance outside of this.

Bows with a shorter brace height usually offer more velocity and speed since the bowstring is traveling a further distance. Now, while you'll gain velocity, you may give up accuracy as that lengthier travel opens up the opportunity for errors to occur. 

3. Draw Length

An archer's draw length is the measurement from the Berger Hole (a hole located in the riser above the arrow shelf) to the corner point of the string by the archer's mouth at full draw.

There are several different ways to measure draw length, but the easiest is to imitate pulling a bow back and measuring the distance between the grip and the corner of one's mouth. 

Parts Of A Compound Bow

Additionally, if you're looking for a crossbow, we have a great blog summarizing the Best TenPoint Crossbows!

- Patrick Morgan
The Best Climbing Sticks For Hunting

Are you trying to find the best climbing sticks for this upcoming hunting season?

Unfortunately, a lot of the blogs out there just don't easily summarize the top picks when it comes to this area of hunting, and when they do - they don't give you all the pros and cons you need to make your final choice. 

The blog below is going to summarizes the 4 most highly reviewed and rated climbing sticks any hunter can buy. 

Each product overview is going to easily point out what you might like and what you might dislike, and there's even a convenient comparison guide with the most important specifications.

Lastly, be sure to check out the Things To Consider and FAQ section so you don't miss anything!

The Quick Summary
Overall, the Best Climbing Sticks for hunting is the XOP X2!
Below you can check out other top climbing stick options including the... 
- Best Climbing Sticks For Saddle Hunting: Lone Wolf D'Acquisto Series Compact
- Best Cheap Climbing Sticks: Hawk Helium
- Lightest Climbing Sticks: Tethrd One
And scroll down to find out the one thing to remember before buying a pair!

While I prefer using a climbing stand, I've spent several years utilizing different climbing sticks as a way to navigate difficult-to-climb trees. In that time, you learn what works and what doesn't, and what brands are engineering the hunting gear hunters need.

Each of these climbing stick options are a great fit for several different types of hunters. Of course, each of our needs vary but these are the top picks within some of the heavily researched areas. 

I would encourage everyone to read more information related to the each of these brands and how they've developed some of the top climbing sticks available to hunters today.

Trivia Question: What was the name of the first tree-saddle hunting brand in the USA? (Click here to see answer).

Full Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and end up making a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  

XOP X2 Lone Wolf D'Acquisto Series Hawk Helium Tethrd One Highlight Best Overall Best Saddle Hunting Cheapest Lightest Image Best Overall Climbing Sticks - XOP X2 Best Climbing Sticks for Saddle Hunting - Lone Wolf D'Acquisto Series Best Cheap Climbing Sticks - Hawk Helium Lightest Climbing Sticks - Tethrd One Step to Step (L) 17" 14"-32" 15" 17" Weight 26 oz 1lb 9 oz - 2 lb 6 oz 2.9 lbs 16 oz Capacity Rating 350 lbs 300 lbs 300 lbs 300 lbs Price Around $180 Around $110 (Individual) Around $115 Around $115-$400 Best Price Learn More Learn More Learn More Learn More


Best Overall Climbing Sticks XOP X2 Climbing Sticks

The XOP X2 climbing tool is the ultimate choice for hunters seeking technical superiority and ultralight performance - what more can you ask for?

With its 10" step, increased stand-off, and minimalist design, the X2 delivers exceptional functionality on even the most demanding hunting missions. Its modular construction allows for customization according to individual preferences and requirements.

Weighing a mere 26 oz, the X2 climbing stick combines lightweight convenience with uncompromising durability. The 10" step width provides ample standing room, while the 5" stand-off and V-bracket ensure a secure grip on trees. The XOP Slide Lock system enables easy stacking or side-by-side locking, optimizing portability and efficiency.

Crafted from high-quality 6061 and 7075 aluminum, the X2 climbing tool guarantees long-lasting performance. Its abrasion-resistant anodized finish enhances durability, while the integrated aider attachment points offer added versatility. With ASTM tested cam straps featuring DWR waterproofing and UV treatment, the X2 is prepared to withstand various weather conditions.

What We Like 10" Step Width Fast Strap Motion 4 Quantity Pack Lifetime Metal Warranty What We Dislike A Little Noisey Not Super Affordable

For latest prices, and more information about the XOP X2, click below!

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Designed and manufactured in the USA, these sticks offer unmatched efficiency for saddle hunters out there!

Boasting a spacious step bed and increased foot clearance, these climbing sticks prioritize mobility and getting in the woods quickly. With a compact 3/4'' profile, they stack securely and attach directly to your stand. The D'Acquisto Series climbing sticks are now sold individually, allowing for personalized setups (not the biggest fan of that). Equipped with an extended length 1" cam strap buckle, fastening is quick and reliable.

Additional features include an asymmetrical concealment pattern, no-slip step design, hammered titanium finish, reversible steps, micro versa attachment buttons, and an integrated climbing grip. Specifications include weights ranging from 1lb 9oz to 2lb 6oz, an impressive 300lb weight rating, and the choice between Standard and micro lengths.

What We Like Secure Step Design Rope Fastening Option Efficient Stacking System Made In The USA What We Dislike Expensive Price Point Minimal Retail Purchase Options

For latest prices, and more information on the Lone Wolf D'Acquisto Series Compact, take a look below!

p:empty{ margin:0; padding:0; } .product-box-ribbon:after{ content: " "; display: block; position: absolute; left: -10px; bottom: -7px; border-top: 0 inset transparent; border-right: 10px solid #1B3E1E; border-bottom: 7px inset transparent; border-left: 10px inset transparent; } .product-box-half{ flex:1; justify-content:center; margin:5px; } .product-box-title{ font-weight:bold; font-size:20px; margin-bottom:10px; text-align: center; } .product-box-image-wrapper{ clear:both; position:center; } .product-box-description{ font-size:15px; margin-bottom:5px; text-align: left; } .product-box-summary{ font-weight:bold; font-size:18px; color: #1B3E1E; margin-bottom:5px; text-align: center; } .product-box-button .button{ font-size:16px; width:100%; text-align:center; margin-top:10px; padding:5px; border-radius:5px; color: white; font-weight:normal; } @media only screen and (max-width: 760px) { .product-box-single{ flex-direction:column; } .product-box-half{ width:100%; } } --> Our Pick Best Climbing Sticks for Saddle Hunting - Lone Wolf D'Acquisto Series Lone Wolf D'Acquisto Series The Best Climbing Sticks for Saddle Hunting These are the top options for saddle hunters because they prioritize mobility and getting in the woods quickly. Best Price on Lone Wolf Cheapest Climbing Sticks Hawk Helium

So you want to buy some climbing sticks, but you don't want to spend a fortune? Check out this...

 These sticks are crafted using aircraft-grade aluminum, ensuring durability without sacrificing weight. Each 30-inch section weighs a mere 2.9 pounds, making them one of the lightest options available. With weight-saving cutouts and a foldable design, these sticks offer effortless transport during your hunting expeditions.

The Helium climbing sticks are designed with hunter convenience in mind. The versa button silent strap setup minimizes noise during setup, maintaining a stealthy approach. The TreeDigger Teeth provide a secure bite into bark, instilling confidence as you climb. Featuring a dual-sided step design, these lightweight aluminum sticks offer exceptional traction and stability on both sides, making your ascent and descent effortless.

Silent and foldable, these climbing sticks ensure a streamlined and compact package for easy transport. The steps can be folded up, and the sticks nest tightly together using silent lock technology suction cups, reducing noise and ensuring a secure fit. With their superior step traction, including grooves with raised ends for grabbing wet and muddy boots, these climbing sticks provide non-slip performance in challenging conditions.

What We Like Great Price Point Streamlined Packaging Air-Craft Grade Aluminum TreeDigger Teeth Traction What We Dislike Heavy Design Minimal Distance From Tree - Difficult Footing

For latest prices, and more information on the Hawk Helium, we have that as well!

Best Cheap Climbing Sticks - Hawk Helium

Best Lightweight Climbing Sticks Tethrd One

As mentioned below, when it comes to climbing sticks, weight is the key factor for that final purchase!

Weighing a mere one pound per stick, the Tethrd One climbing sticks redefine portability without compromising on strength. Crafted from Grade 9 aerospace titanium, they offer exceptional durability and corrosion resistance.

The DynaLite Rope attachment adds to their overall weight, ensuring transparency in our claims. With the One Stick, installation is a breeze thanks to the patent-pending DynaLoc tab and the innovative DynaLite rope system. Achieve a secure and silent lock onto the tree in seconds, providing you with a hassle-free climbing experience.

Featuring a one-piece step/standoff design, the Tethrd One Stick offers a generous boot gripping step size and an 8.5" dual-step width, ensuring comfortable and agile climbing. The smart traction tread and boot containment design maximize climbing real estate, while the top stick doubles as a saddle hunting platform.

The StickLoc stacking system allows for whisper-quiet and compact transportation, eliminating the need for additional straps. With self-illuminating GLO-tabs for enhanced visibility in low-light conditions, user-replaceable ropes, and zero moving parts, the Tethrd One Stick is the epitome of reliability and ease of use.

What We Like Only 16 oz! Titanium & Aluminum Construction StickLoc Stacking System Quickly Attaches To Tree What We Dislike Somewhat Expensive

For latest prices, and more information on the Tethrd One, we have that as well!

Lightest Climbing Sticks - Tethrd One

Things To Consider When Choosing Climbing Sticks Weight

Weight is one of the most important characteristics of any mobile climbing device in the hunting world. You just can't lug around anything heavy and expect to go where nobody else is hunting. 

For this reason, and since climbing sticks are only part of the stand system, you have to remain lightweight.

As you can tell from the chart above, your options are going to range from around 16 oz to upwards of 3 lbs or so. Of course, the lighter you get, the more expensive they're going to be - especially since you're really not sacrificing any weight capacity.

Pro Tip: Try adding a dual step aider between your standard sticks for increased heigth with minimal steps.

Step To Step Length

The average length for climbing sticks for hunting is 14-20 inches. But you do have some 3 step options that go well up to 30 inches and more.

To understand which option is best for you, I would evaluate your own natural step height and compare it to the product you're considering. 

Most of these step configuration differences aren't really going to affect your final climbing height, especially if you use some additional tools (Take a look below).

Capacity (Weight Rating)

As mentioned earlier, weight capacity doesn't vary to a great degree within the different brands and models of climbing sticks. 

At minimum, a durable and reliable step is going to hold around 300 lbs. However, there are a few options that can hold upwards of 350 lbs for those larger hunters. 

In short, climbing stick weight capacity choices are limited, but what's available is plenty enough optimal climbing comfort.


Many climbing sticks are made out of lightweight aluminum or titanium, but there are a few steel sets too. 

When it comes to this material, and carrying this in and out of the woods, you know you're going to create unwanted noise. Unfortunately, there's not a lot you can to avoid this when it comes to making the correct purchase.

However, be sure to check that the manufacture's sticks pack easily and in a compact manner. By having an efficient nesting system, you minimize movement and reduce noise.

Climbing Sticks FAQs 1. What Is A Climbing Stick?

A hunting climbing stick is a mobile ladder system that is divided into smaller step segments. These are used to climb trees for hang-on stands and saddle hunting.

2. How Do You Carry Climbing Sticks While On The Tree?

Most hunters are going to utilize 3 to 4 climbing sticks, and because of this, you're going to have to develop a way to get each subsequent stick up in your hands to continue climbing quickly and efficiently. 

For me, I use a hang on system that's very similar to what's outlined in the video below. I use paracord loops that are tied to my lineman/safety harness. With the second, third, and fourth stepped tied to the side of my harness via this method, I can easily set my first step and proceed up tree, grabbing the next step quickly and easily when I'm ready.


3. Are Climbing Sticks Easy To Use?

To be honest, climbing sticks are probably one of the hardest ways to get up a tree, especially when compared to climbing stands or ladder stands.

Of course, they are a little easier when compared to the other climbing methods used by saddle hunters, but I wouldn't say they're simple by any means.

Climbing sticks are difficult because hunters try to use a few as needed to get as high as possible, and they try to do this relatively quickly. Both of these things, in my opinion, make them difficult. For anyone new to climbing sticks, I'd recommend starting off slow and using several climbing stick segments to get to your desired height - don't push it!

4. Do You Need Climbing Sticks With A Tree Saddle?

You don't need climbing sticks for tree saddle hunting, as there are several other climbing methods. Check out a few of the most popular options below:

1. Climbing Sticks

2. Ladder Steps

3. Drill Bolt System

4. Climbing Spurs

5. Silent Approach Steps

5. How Do You Reduce Noise With Climbing Sticks?

After doing quite a bit of research and testing, I found the best way to reduce noice from your climbing sticks is to utilize Stealth Tape. This easy to apply, self adhesive tape utilizes a revolutionary soft fabric that dampens the sounds made from metal on metal contact.

Also, be sure to wrap them tightly with Titan Straps when going in and out of the woods to prevent any movement.

One Thing To Remember... Climbing Stick Aiders

Many of these climbing sticks are relatively expensive, and while they're pretty lightweight, most hunters try to limit the number they have to purchase and carry out in the woods. 

For this reason, and as a way to increase the end height of your climbing steps, most hunters will incorporate some sort of "aider".

These aiders come in one to three step options and hook around your climbing stick to provide a sort of temporary, in-between step so you can space out your sticks.

I would heavily recommend only purchasing these aiders from a reputable company. A lot of companies are building makeshift aiders, and some hunters are building them themselves. 

Unless it's been thoroughly tested and manufactured by a legitimate company, I would not use anything else. 

Answer: The brand Trophyline Tree Saddle Brand was first created in the 1980s.

For a blog about the Best Hunting Rangefinders, take a look today!

- Patrick Morgan
The Top 6 Hunting Cooler Brands

When you are heading to a picnic or a beach party, any old cooler will do just fine to keep drinks cold and prevent food from spoiling. Hunters demand more from a cooler than just cold beverages. A cooler is essential for quickly cooling freshly harvested meat to reduce the possibility of bacterial growth and spoilage.

The best way to figure out which cooler will be the best is to look at the brands that make coolers for hunters. Each has unique technologies that give their products an advantage over competitors. In this article, we look at the top cooler brands for hunters and what makes their products special.

Best Cooler Brands for Hunters

It didn’t take long for us to find out the most popular brands with hunters. Our friends in the industry pointed us to the following companies. These brands are not ranked in any particular order.

Best Cooler Brands for Hunters


Yeti has become synonymous with outdoor adventure since its founding in 2006. The mission statement at Yeti says it all -build the cooler you would use every day if it existed. The company’s products are found on commercial fishing boats and used by professional hunting guides all over the world for one simple reason: their coolers last season after season.

YETI Cooler Key Features

Some of the features that set Yeti coolers apart include up to two inches of insulation, freezer-quality gaskets, and a one-piece molded design that is tough enough to stand up to a hungry bear. Yeti coolers are engineered to provide longer ice retention than other coolers which is a key feature for hunters who need their cooler to stay cold all day.

Additional YETI Information

Yeti makes hard-sided and soft-sided coolers that are built for hunters, fisherman, and pitmasters that demand the ultimate in durability and capability. All Yeti coolers come with a lifetime warranty that covers any possible manufacturing defect. Unfortunately, Yeti has a bad reputation for customer service and currently has a 1.18 of 5 rating with Better Business Bureau.

2. Orca

Orca -which stands for Outdoor Recreation Company of America- started in 2012 with the goal of building a better hard-sided cooler for outdoor adventures. The result was a phenomenal 75 quart cooler (a perfect cooler size for hunting) that led the company to expand their offerings. They now manufacture and sell hard and soft coolers, drinkware, and accessories for hunting, fishing, and all facets of outdoor fun.

Orca Cooler Key Features

Orca coolers feature bear-proof latches, stainless steel handles, and as much as four inches of insulation in some models. The coolers have special drainage spouts and an integrated, one-piece freezer seal in the lid that can keep ice frozen for up to ten days. The handle design makes carrying an Orca cooler more comfortable than other brands.

Additional Orca Information

All Orca products carry a lifetime warranty, but buyers need to be aware that numerous things may not be covered. According to complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau, things like lids on drinkware and damage that can’t be shown to be a defect will not be covered. Orca is not accredited with BBB and has logged just four complaints in three years. In some cases, Orca resolved the issue by offering a refund, but in cases where a product was damaged, the company typically was unhelpful. Only products purchased through the website or an authorized dealer -such as Dick’s Sporting Goods- are eligible for warranty coverage. Purchases made on Amazon are not covered.

3. RTIC Outdoors

When twin brothers John and Jim Jacobsen created RTIC, the goal was to produce a durable cooler that met the needs of hunters without costing a fortune like the competition. The result was a line of coolers that are high-quality, incredibly durable, and more affordable. The secret is in the direct-to-consumer approach and the lack of investment in advertising. Instead, the company relies on word of mouth promotion and social media attention to drive the sales of their coolers.

RTIC Cooler Key Features

The biggest thing you need to know about RTIC Outdoors coolers is that they are built to save you money, but not at the expense of performance. RTIC Outdoors uses thick insulation that is lighter weight than competitors to produce coolers that are easier to transport while featuring bear-resistant latches and the ability to keep ice frozen for up to four days.

Additional RTIC Information

RTIC Outdoors advertises a 4.6 of five star rating on their website with more than 3,600 reviews, an indication that the products they sell are good quality. Better Business Bureau has received a total of 34 customer reviews of the company’s customer service and has a 1.08 of five star rating. Buyers report that customer service at RTIC is difficult to get in touch with and rarely follows through with prompt service. Many customers filed complaints due to refunds that were never issued.

4. Cabela's

Riding the wave of popularity started by Yeti, Cabela’s introduced the Polar Cap and Coldsnap hard and soft coolers. The Cabella’s coolers are more than just clones of other products, though. These coolers stand on their own and have outperformed the very best coolers on the market in independent testing. A Cabela’s Polar Cap cooler retained ice for 13 days and maintained a lower average temperature than other coolers over the test period.

Cabela's Cooler Key Features

Some of the cool features you’ll find on Cabela’s coolers are the barrel-shaped rubberized latches that include an integrated bottle opener. The latches provide the rotomolded cooler with excellent resistance to bears and other scavengers while making it easy to open the cooler, even when your hands are slippery. The coolers have physical handles built into the design and replaceable rope handles to make moving the cooler around simple.

Additional Cabela's Information

Cabela’s coolers generally have positive reviews from customers. Reviews mention that the coolers work even after five or more years of regular use. Some reviews mention that the rubber latches can break, but Cabela’s now offers replacement pieces if this should happen. Better Business Bureau gives Cabela’s a B rating, but customer service reviews are pretty bad. Out of the 84 reviews, Cabela’s received just a 1.02 of five star rating. Customers expressed issues with Cabela’s service both in the store, on the phone, and through email with issues ranging from rude employee’s to credit card and gift card fraud.

5. Orion

Leave it to a kayak manufacturing company to come up with one of the best coolers around. Jackson Kayak introduced their Orion Coolers line in 2014. The goal was to incorporate innovation into the design of functional coolers using ideas that no one else had thought up yet. Orion Coolers are Made in the USA, a feature that few brands can claim.

Orion Cooler Key Features

No matter how innovative a cooler is, the primary job is to keep things cold. Orion coolers do an excellent job and will keep ice frozen for about a week with minimal melting. Locking bear-resistant handles, the use of metal to protect the corners, and even a removable interior light are just a few of the features we like about Orion coolers. What makes these coolers stand out from the crowd is the unique accessories that are available. Orion makes and sells things like a cutting board that works as a divider in the cooler, a cup holder/ snack tray that mounts to the side, and one of the coolest features, a grab handle that doubles as a seat back rest.

Additional Orion Information

Reviews of products from Orion are positive and the cooler received a five-star rating in independent testing. On top of the excellent reviews these coolers receive, the company also does a great job of handling customer issues. The Better Business Bureau has never received a complaint against Jackson Kayak, the parent company behind Orion coolers. Jackson Kayak has an A+ rating at this time.

6. Pelican

Pelican Products built a name for itself by creating some of the toughest and most durable cases on the market. Whether carrying munitions and supplies for the U.S. military, medical supplies for the Red Cross, or protecting sensitive electronics from damage, Pelican offers superior protection. The company’s coolers don’t look like coolers at all. In fact, they look a lot like the ultra-rugged cases Pelican provides for emergency services and military applications.

Pelican Cooler Key Features

The features of these tough-as-nails coolers include flip and latch closures, a one-piece freezer-type seal, integrated handles and bottle openers, and stainless steel fittings. The coolers will maintain ice for ten days or longer. They are even available in a range of interesting colors and feature a lifetime warranty.

Additional Pelican Information

Pelican coolers are well-regarded by customers who report that the products live up to the promises the company makes. The coolers are durable, easy to handle, and work well to keep ice cold. Better Business Bureau reviews show that customers are not too happy with how Pelican handles problems. Though having just ten reviews, Pelican Products has a one-of-five star rating and gets a B- from BBB. Customer complaints largely focus on the company’s unwillingness to fulfill warranty claims and a claims process that is unnecessarily complicated.

My Final Thoughts On Hunting Cooler Brands

The brands here are far from all of the companies making good coolers these days, but these ones are the brands that you can trust to provide an excellent cooler that keeps your ice frozen for a long time and will hold up to the rigors of outdoor adventure, whether you are hunting, fishing, or hiking.

Also, we have a blog summarizing the Best Hunting Clothing Brands too if you're interested!

- Patrick Morgan

When it comes to deer hunting, there are literally hundreds of different rifle calibers that you can choose from. Some are extremely powerful with plenty of recoil, while others are on the lower end and much easier to shoot. Among all the popular choices, the .243 remains one of the most influential and comfortable deer rifle calibers out there.

So whether you’re looking for a specific caliber that has ammo commonly available or a new deer rifle that your significant other or kids can shoot, the .243 might be just what you are looking for. Here’s everything that you need to know!

Understanding the .243 Caliber

The .243 has plenty of history to prove its worth. First introduced by Winchester in 1955, it was designed on the concept of necking down the casing of the popular .308 Winchester. But, unlike the .308, this caliber ended up having much milder recoil while still having a flat trajectory and excellent accuracy.

Through the years, the .243 hasn’t seen many changes. You’re easily able to find just about any brand or model of a rifle chambered in this caliber, and ammunition is even easier to find. The .243 typically shoots bullets that range from 55 to 105 grains depending on what you’re hunting and your preferences. I love using smaller-grain bullets (like 55 grains) for predator hunting while sizing up to 95 or 105-grain bullets for larger game like deer.

With plenty of versatility and mild recoil, the .243 has been one of the most popular deer hunting calibers out there. Opponents of this caliber argue that it is not powerful enough, has limited stopping power, and is too susceptible to wind drift. While it’s true the .243 is not as big or powerful as other popular deer calibers like the .308, .30-06, or even the 6.5 Creedmoor, it’s still plenty to kill a deer as long as you’re using the right ammo!


Choosing The Right Ammunition And Shot Placement

As I mentioned earlier, the .243 functions perfectly as both a coyote rifle and a deer hunting rifle. But ammunition selection is everything. Coyotes can be killed with just about anything, although I’ve found the smaller bullets do less damage to the pelts. That being said, I wouldn’t want to take any chances on deer and would size up for a deer hunt.

95-grain bullets are often the most popular, with 100 or 105 right behind. But just as important as size is the type of bullet you’re shooting. I’ve had great success with both soft points and ballistic tips, although any high-quality bullet from a reputable manufacturer is sure to quickly and effectively put down a deer.

Because the .243 isn’t quite as powerful as other calibers, shot placement can be crucial during a hunt. As with any rifle or weapon, you should be patient and wait for a clean, broadside shot within a reasonable distance that you feel confident at. With this in mind, there’s no reason to doubt the .243 in putting the venison in the freezer. If you do your part, this caliber will definitely do its part when needed.

How Far Can The .243 Kill A Deer?

Now let’s get to the question everyone has been wondering. We know the .243 is a little on the lighter side, but has an excellent trajectory and is a very flat shooter. So how far can it shoot and what’s the maximum range a hunter should expect? Well, it depends.

Standard ammo out of the .243 will give you somewhere around 2900 to 3100 feet per second of speed depending on the load and bullet weight. These faster speeds are what give the .243 its flat trajectory and less bullet drop compared to other calibers. But just how far should you be shooting at a deer?

To best answer that question, it will come down to the specific bullet and load that a person is using. Everything from the bullet weight, construction, and ballistic characteristics will play a part in the max range of a gun. For example, a lighter bullet will be faster and shoot flatter, but heavier bullets will provide better penetration and energy to put down an animal.

With that in mind, most hunters would agree that the max effective range of a .243 for deer hunting will be anywhere from 200 to 400 yards.

Other external factors will also come into play, from the wind, weather, and shooting position. You also have to consider the skill level of the shooter, so really the maximum effective range will vary from person to person and situation to situation. In my experience, the .243 excels as a rifle for new shooters, women, or children thanks to its mild recoil and shots shouldn’t be taken too far anyways.

The .243 Vs Other Calibers

So is the .243 the perfect deer caliber? Honestly, I don’t think it is. But there are so many things that it does right that I think it deserves a place in every hunter’s gun safe. From the mild recoil and versatility of a deer/coyote rifle to its decades of proven history, there’s really no denying how influential this caliber has been (and continues to be).

What it lacks in power and penetration (similar to the 223 caliber), it makes up for with everything else. While my old .243 isn’t my first pick when headed out on a deer hunt these days, it’s almost always my go-to when my wife or kids have a deer hunt lined up. And to this day, it has yet to let us down.

My Final Thoughts On The 243

For more than half a century, deer hunters everywhere have often leaned towards their reliable .243 when heading out to the woods. So whether you’re a veteran hunter or a complete beginner, the .243 can be the perfect choice for a successful deer hunt. Just don’t forget to get plenty of practice, understand the rifle’s limitations, and prioritize safe shooting practices and you will not be disappointed with your .243 deer hunting rifle!

Additionally, we have a great blog about the Best Hunting Clothing Brands!

- Patrick Morgan
How To Prep Your Cooler For Hunting [6 Easy Steps]

If you're looking for some high-level tips on how to prep your cooler for hunting, you've come to the right place. A lot of hunters don't realize that there's a correct and incorrect way to prepare your hunting cooler, and by doing it wrong you can put yourself and your game meat in a tough position.

Take a look at these 6 easy steps for preparing your hunting cooler, and I promise you you'll be much better off!

Hunting Cooler Prep Steps

1. Choose A Roto-Molded Cooler

While this isn't really hunting cooler prep material, I thought it might be beneficial to highlight that a roto-molded cooler is going to be the best possible choice for your next hunting trip.

By utilizing a roto-molded cooler with much thicker plastic, you're going to maximize the efficiency of the following steps - leading to more protection for your game meat.

2. The Night Before - Leave The Cooler Open Outside

The night before a hunt, try your best let the cooler cool down to the ambient temperature around you by leaving it outside with the lid open. Of course, if you're hunting in an area that's still relatively warm outside, and your inside temperature is colder, keep the cooler inside and open the lid.

The main point is to help your cooler reach the lowest possible temperature naturally in preparation for the next step. 

3. The Morning Of - Utilize Freezer Blocks

Right when you wake up, take freezer blocks that have been in your freezer all night, and place them in the bottom of your cooler for 30 minutes or so.

According to Nice Packs, freezer blocks have a much lower freezing temperature than ice cubes (-13°F vs. 32°F), and they stay colder much longer than ice cubes. Additional benefits include the fact that freezer blocks do not melt, therefore they will not get your cooler or meat wet.

4. Pack Your Cooler Before The Hunt

As mentioned earlier, you're going to want to start packing the cooler by adding freezer blocks to the bottom - creating a foundation for everything else. From there, you can use frozen water-milk jugs, and top it off with bags of ice cubes.

If possible, try to keep the ice in the bags to avoid water from entering the cooler. 

Additionally, do your best to pack it as much as possible - no matter the size of your hunting cooler. The more air you have in your cooler, the more susceptible it is to temperature fluctuations. By eliminating this air, you can maximize the coolers ability to stay cold.

5. Keep Your Cooler Away From The Sun

Once everything is packed and your heading out into the woods, try to cover your coolers with a blanket (if possible) and place it in a shaded area... or keep it inside.

Some hunters might pack their cooler and not come back for days until they finally bag their prey. By keeping your cooler unopened, covered, and away from the sun you can pretty much guarantee your cooler is going to be cold and still full of ice. Of course, that's also contingent upon the quality of cooler you purchased.

6. After The Kill, Hang Your Meat (If Possible)

I know this isn't possible for everyone, but if you can, try to let your game meat temperature come down before placing it in the cooler. 

By taking game meat that's relatively warm, and placing it in your cooler, you're speeding up the melting process of your ice and raising the temperature of your cooler. 

Letting your game meat temperature cool off is going to prolong the life of your ice and freezer blocks, leading to cooler temperatures for longer periods of time.

Hunting Cooler Prep Video


In a somewhat related topic, if you're interested in learning more about How Long To Hang A Deer Before Butchering, we have that too!

- Patrick Morgan
Best Hunting Coolers [2023 Update]

The list for the best hunting coolers is now in for this year, and it's time to explore the top options!

Once the hunt is done, it's time to pack up your gear and haul off the main prize from your journey - the meat. 

Now, I know there's a lot of arguments out there on how, where, and what is best when storing your game, but there's no doubt that a good, reliable hunting cooler is needed in the process.

The Quick Summary
Overall, the Best Hunting Cooler is the Yeti Tundra 65!
Below you can check out other top cooler options including the... 
- Best Hunting Backpack Cooler: Yeti Hopper M20 Backpack 
- Best Hunting Cooler For Large Game: Orca 140 QT
- Best Hunting Cooler For The Money: RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler
And scroll down to find out the one thing to remember when buying a hunting cooler!

I've hunted for over 2 decades using a variety of coolers, and just like many of you, I started by bringing along a simple, cheap cooler. But those days are long gone - the technology has improved and you have way more options to choose from.

I'm going to walk you through a few of my favorite coolers I've tested, and the ones I use each and every year when I'm out in the field. Of course, these might not be the best for everyone, but they've definitely been tested and I'm going to share my pros and cons of each.

Trivia Question: When was the first modern cooler invented? (Click here to see answer).

Full Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and end up making a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  

Yeti Tundra 65 Yeti Hopper M20 Orca 140 QT RTIC Ultra-Light Highlight Best Overall Best Backpack Style Best For Large Game Best For The Money Image Best Overall Hunting Cooler - Yeti Tundra 65 Best Hunting Backpack Cooler - Yeti Hopper M20 Backpack Best Hunting Cooler For Large Game - Orca 140 QT Best Cooler For The Money - RTIC Ultra Light Size (Exterior) 25.6"W x 15.9"D x 15.5"H 15.3"W x 9.9"D x 18.1"H 39.4"W x 23"D x 21.3"H 23” W x 15.5” D x 14.5” H Weight 24.6 lbs 5.6 lbs 63 lbs 13 lbs. Capacity 52 qt 21 qt 140 qt 32 qt Price Around $375 Around $325 Around $600 Around $220 More Info Best Price Best Price Best Price Best Price


Best Overall Hunting Cooler Yeti Tundra 65

I know - it's a little stereotypical, but this really is my top pick for the best hunting cooler, and I'll explain why...

The Yeti Tundra 65 cooler has an extremely durable roto-molded construction with PermaFrost insulation to keep your game cool, while the T-Rex Lid latches guarantee a high level of security.

Additionally, the ColdLock Gasket seals in the cold, while convenient features like DoubleHaul  Handles, AnchorPoint™ Tie-Down Slots, and BearFoot Non-Slip Feet justify this somewhat expensive price point.

Some might say that this is perfect option for hunts because the Yeti Tundra 65 cooler keeps your meat fresh and cold for days no matter the outside environment.

What We Like Thick Insulation Roto-Molded Construction Durable & Secure Construction 5 Year Warranty What We Dislike Expensive Price Point Difficult To Carry Around

For latest prices, and more information about the Yeti Tundra 65, click below!

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I purchased the original Yeti backpack cooler years ago, and I didn't think it could get any better, but little did I know....

The Yeti Hopper Backpack M20 cooler is truly one of the most innovative designs on the market oday. This soft cooler, ideal for any hunting trip, boasts a 20 qt capacity, accommodating 18 cans with a refreshing 2:1 ice-to-can ratio.

Its rugged DryHide shell resists punctures, UV rays, and mildew, ensuring longevity in the face of adversity. Within its core, ColdCell insulation locks in the cold, preserving the chill of your beverages for hours of enjoyment.

My Yeti Backpack Cooler

Yeti's latest Hopper iteration introduces a wider opening and innovative MagShield Access (and this is my favorite part). The magnetic seal ensures leak resistance while facilitating easy packing and unpacking. This remarkable cooler, complete with buckles, daisy chains, side handles, carry handles, and a removable shoulder strap, stands as a versatile companion for your adventures.

Take a chance on the Yeti Hopper Backpack M20 cooler and see how well it works out for you on your next hunting trip!

What We Like Easy To Carry Improved Lid Design Very Lightweight Reasonable Price Point What We Dislike Limited Space (21 qt) 3 Year Warranty

For latest prices, and more information on the Yeti Hopper M20, take a look below!

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For those hunters that need the maximum size cooler to haul any sort of large game out of the woods, I would take a look at the Orca 140qt cooler.

Its roto-molded construction offers the highest level of durability, while the built-in insulation delivers remarkable ice retention, keeping your food and beverages icy cold for an astounding duration of up to 10 days. The cold-sealing gasket and secure T-handle latches guarantee airtight closure, preserving freshness with unwavering dedication.

Transporting this cooler is super easy, thanks to the extendable handle with flex grip, allowing you to carry it solo or with a companion. For added convenience, a cargo-net attachment provides extra storage, while the integrated drainage spout prevents pooling of melting ice. Proudly made in the USA, the Orca 140-qt. Cooler showcases high-quality in every aspect.

Lastly, with a capacity to hold up to 192 cans, the Orca 140 will provide any hunter with a food day of "chilled refreshments" following a long day of hunting!

What We Like Roto-Molded Construction Tested 10 Day Storage Sealed Gasket Made In The USA What We Dislike Very Expensive Heavy Design & Construction

For latest prices, and more information on the Orca 140 QT, we have that as well!

Best Hunting Cooler For Large Game - Orca 140 QT

Best Hunting Cooler For The Money RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler

The all-new RTIC Ultra-Light Hard Cooler 32 qt is the answer to any hunter looking for an affordable and lightweight cooler option.

Designed to be over 30% lighter than other coolers of the same capacity, it's the perfect companion for a short day out in the woods. Equipped with up to 2.5 inches of closed-cell foam insulation, this cooler takes extreme temperature preservation to the next level.

Durability and long-lasting ice retention are at the core of this portable cooler's design. With interior dimensions of 11.25” H x 18.25” W x 11” D and exterior dimensions of 14.5” H x 23” W x 15.5” D, it offers ample space for your needs.

The 32 quart model stands tall with a capacity of up to 48 cans and can hold a staggering 30 lbs of dry ice or standard ice. But its usefulness doesn't end there – it can double up as a bench, step stool, tabletop, or even an additional cutting board. If I were you, I would move fast on the RTIC Ultra-Light Hard Cooler 32 qt and add this to your hunting gear wishlist. 

What We Like Very Lightweight (13 lbs) Rapid Drainage System Roto-Molded Construction Multi-Task Bench What We Dislike Limited Durablity Only Holds 32 qt

For latest prices, and more information on the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler, we have that as well!

Best Cooler For The Money - RTIC Ultra Light

Things To Consider When Choosing A Hunting Cooler Insulation / Ice Retention

According to Grizzly coolers and PromoLeaf, there are three main types of insulation found in coolers:

1. Cheaper coolers use Styrofoam (extruded polystyrene).

2. While premium coolers use Polyurethane Foam.

3. And many soft coolers use Polyethylene Foam.

Of course some companies will add a propriety name to their own foam, but this should cover the main core types. 

Pro Tip: For optimized packing, place ice packs on the bottom of the cooler, then fill in the gaps with ice cubes.


Most of the aforementioned hard coolers are going to be made out of some sort of food grade UV-resistant polyethylene plastic. Furthermore, these shapes are going to be made using a roto-molding style of construction. This means that the plastics are softened then placed in a mold.

Of course, these top coolers are going to have much thicker plastic than your standard cooler. This not only helps keep your items cooler, but it also protects the heavily insulated core from outside penetration.

Lockability / Security

When you're spending this much on a hunting cooler, you need to make sure you have a way to lock these things up.

If you know you're going to leave your cooler in the back of your truck or down by your fishing hole, I would only purchase a cooler from a brand that offers some sort of locking bracket.

Most coolers have a small thread hold on the corners that you can run a cable lock through, but having something a little more sturdy than this might be needed. 


Size is the most deceiving thing about today's top-rated hunting coolers. You step into your local sporting good's store or purchase on online expecting it to carry your kill, and BAM you open it up and realize there's hardly any room!

From my own experience I would pay almost no attention to exterior dimensions (unless your trying to store it somewhere) and focus on interior dimensions and most importantly capacity.

For instance, for every 100 lbs. of game meat (deboned), you'll need a 50 qt. cooler. Use this equation to evaluate which size is best for you and your style of hunting.

Cooler Size By Species

Hunting Cooler Size by Species


Hunting cooler prices can range from an affordable $50 to upwards of $700-$800. 

Of course, like any piece of hunting gear, you're going to pay for a combination of brand recognition and quality. What I mean is... the most expensive cooler isn't always going to be the best for you or your hunting situation. 

I would highly recommend first setting a budget, and seeing what options exist within this price point. From there, compare the different features to the next level up and see if it's really worth spending more.

Hunting Cooler FAQs 1. What Is A Hunting Cooler?

A hunting cooler is an insulated container that keeps your game meat cool.

2. What Are Best Cooler Brands For Hunting?

The top hunting cooler brands including the following:

1. Yeti

2. Orca


4. Cabela's

5. Orion

6. Pelican

3. Is Yeti The Best Cooler For Hunting?

Yeti is most definitely one of the top brands for anyone in the market for a cooler. However, claiming it as the best overall brand is tough. Personally speaking, Yeti's prices do tend to drive people away, leaving room for more affordable options to appeal to different types of hunters.

4. What Size Cooler Do I Need For Deer?

For deer, if quartered, you can get away with a 65–75-quart cooler, depending on whether it is a doe or buck. If you can butcher and debone the animal, your cooler size can be as little as 50-60 quarts.

5. What Size Cooler Do I Need For Elk?

Storing elk meat will take 3-4 150-quart coolers. If completely deboned (and around 270 lbs. of meat), you can use one 150-quart coolers for an average elk.

6. What's The Best Way To Prepare A Hunting Cooler?

For a full step-by-step guide on how to prep your cooler, check out this guide on the best ways to prep a hunting cooler.

One Thing To Remember... Exterior Size Does Not Mean Capacity

If you take a look at most hunting coolers today, you'll notice that they look huge! You might even take a look at the manufacturer's measurements and see if the cooler is going to be big enough for what you want. 

Be careful though!

Before buying a cooler make sure you pay attention to the interior dimensions and capacity of the cooler. Today's coolers have extra thick walls - making the actual size/capacity of the cooler much smaller than anticipated.

In case you're wondering how thick some of these coolers' walls are, check it out:

Yeti - 2-inch Insulation (Lid is 3 inches)

RTIC - 3-inch Insulation

Orca - 3-4-inch Insulation

Cabela's - 4-5-inch Insulation

Answer: The first modern cooler was constructed in 1944 during World War II from Dow Chemical with the invention of Styrofoam.

For a blog about KUIU vs. Sitka Gear, take a look today!

- Patrick Morgan
Beginner's Guide To Bowhunting

A few years back when ammunition prices started to go through the roof, I decided that it was time to look into bowhunting as an opportunity to target shoot and hunt without the expense of ammo. Like many people, I assumed I could just pick up a bow, grab some arrows, and start shooting, which is exactly what happened until I started getting frustrated and tired. The bow I bought was put up in the rafters in the garage and basically forgotten for about a year.

Then, in the middle of a totally unrelated conversation with a friend of a friend, (we were talking about horse trailers), the topic of bowhunting came up. It turned out that the fella I was talking to is an accomplished bowhunter who regularly guides bowhunt trips. He encouraged me to get the bow out again, head to a local archery shop, and start over from the beginning. It was solid advice that I am glad I followed, since it gave me the confidence to keep shooting.

The Different Types of Bows

One of the most important choices you’ll make before starting your quest is what type of bow you want to use. There are three types we will discuss today: traditional longbows, recurve bows, and compound bows. Each bow offers potential for success but carries a few drawbacks that are important to understand.

Different Types of Bows

Traditional longbows are most commonly used for competition archery, but will also be found in big game hunting where range and power are important. Recurve bows are more commonly found on bowhunts. These bows offer high draw weights, compact size, and high-performance that makes them ideal for everything from bowfishing to big game. At the high end of the bow price range are compound bows that use pulleys to amplify the available power of the bow and have a cam system that relieves the weight of the string. Compound bows are excellent for hunting and target practice.

Draw Weight, Draw Length, and How To Find The Right One

A few terms that are used a lot in archery are draw weight and draw length. Understanding these terms and what they mean for shooting is vital to having any success as a new bowhunter. Draw weight refers to the amount of weight required to pull the bowstring to its maximum distance, expressed in pounds. A 20 lb draw weight is easier to draw but doesn’t give the arrow as much initial energy, while a 75 lb draw weight will provide optimal penetration power but will require quite a bit of strength to pull back the string. Typically, lower draw weights are best for target practice, while hunting regulations typically establish a minimum draw weight that is usually around 45 lbs.

Bow Holding Weight At Full Draw

Draw length refers to the distance the bowstring is pulled back when shooting. This metric is controlled by either the strength of the shooter or the length the bow has available. New bowhunters will need to find a bow that offers enough draw length that they are not over-extending the draw, but also one that matches the length of their arms to prevent improper shooting motion. There are some ways you can get an idea at home of what the proper length and weight are for you, but taking a little time to head to a local archery shop will ensure that you get the correct setup the first time.

Working On Your Shooting Stance

One of the more important things that an archery shop can share with you is how to find the correct stance for shooting a bow. Just like shooting a firearm or tossing a bowling ball, the mechanics of how you stand and shoot play a major role in whether you hit the target. The most expensive bow in the world won’t make you a better hunter, but spending the time to practice your foot placement, hip alignment, shoulder alignment, and where to hold the drawn string while aiming will make you a better hunter even with a cheap bow.

Working on your shooting stance is one of the most vital parts of accurately shooting a bow. You will want to be able to draw and target quickly with your body in the proper position as close to automatically as you can get. Don’t forget that a bow should never be dry-fired because it can cause damage to the bow. There are a number of exercises you can do at home that will improve your form and speed up the time it takes to advance from low-draw weight bows to a weight that is appropriate for hunting.

Practice, Practice, Practice

In the beginning, you might get discouraged with your accuracy and the strength in your upper body that archery requires. You will need to practice regularly to build up muscle strength and muscle memory proficiently before ever going hunting, and getting past the discouraging part is key.

Once you can hit the bullseye regularly from a variety of distances with a hunting-weight draw, it’s time to think about taking to the field. Don’t forget to check with your state wildlife agency for hunter safety training requirements, regulations, and permit or license information before hunting.

Do Archery Accessories Really Help?

Regardless of the type of bow you choose, there are a number of key accessories you’ll need. The best way for new hunters to figure out what equipment is essential to get started shooting is to ask the pros at the archery shop. They can help figure out the proper forearm bracer, string release mechanism, arrow nock, bow sight, and other key parts that will vary slightly based on the type and brand of the bow you choose.

My Final Thoughts On Bowhunting For Beginners

Getting into bowhunting is so much more than just an opportunity to hit early-season hunts or a lower-cost option to high ammunition prices, it is a way of hunting that is primal. There is no feeling quite like the one you get from a day of bowhunting, stalking a deer, or sitting in a stand waiting on a wild tom, even the days when you don’t take a shot. It’s also a great way to get some exercise in the offseason and continue to work on shooting skills.

Additionally, if you have a crossbow, we have a great article summarizing the Best Crossbow Targets!

- Patrick Morgan
Best Camo Crocs [2023 Top Picks]

No matter if you're going out fishing, checking on your hunting gear, or just lounging around the house, you need the best camo crocs to stay comfortable and stylish. 

Over the years, Crocs has created several different designs and colorways for those outdoor lovers that are looking for a good pair of camo crocs. Unforunately, till now, it's been a little hard to find them all. 

So, I decided to round up the 6 Top Camo Crocs available today and put them all in one place. I hope you enjoy and find one that you really want to purchase!

1. Best Overall Camo Crocs Crocs Classic Realtree

Calling all those looking for the ultimate camo Croc! It's here!

This classic design is now available in a new camo print, and these lightweight wonders have taken the world by storm. With their incredible lightweightness and fun factor, the Classic Printed Camo Clogs offer a breath of fresh air for your feet.

These babies are water-friendly, easy to clean, and quick to dry, making them the perfect choice for any adventure. The pivoting heel straps provide a secure fit, while the customizable Jibbitz charms allow you to personalize your style.

And let's not forget the iconic Croc's comfort, which offers lightweight, flexible, and all-around comfort. Get ready to take your comfort and step into a whole new world.

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In case you're looking for something a little outside of the classic Croc's clog form, I decided to showcase the latest all-terrain sandals.

The Croc flip-flop style shoes have a two-strap upper and an adjustable turbo heel straps for a snug, accommodating fit. From there, you'll get a rugged lug outsoles with added tread for increased traction.

Lastly, don't sleep on the fully molded Croslite™ foam uppers which are easy to clean and quick to dry.

And yes don't forget about the super clean Realtree Edge camo pattern.

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If you have a kid that loves the outdoors and wants to match his mom or dad's camo Crocs, check out these!

They are built with light, supportive Croslite™ foam createng an orthotic footbed for long-lasting comfort. Also, they have a pivoting heel strap for a secure fit.

And you can't forget about the fact that these Crocs are easy to clean - making them a perfect fit for any kid that's outside all day long.

p:empty{ margin:0; padding:0; } .product-box-ribbon:after{ content: " "; display: block; position: absolute; left: -10px; bottom: -7px; border-top: 0 inset transparent; border-right: 10px solid #1B3E1E; border-bottom: 7px inset transparent; border-left: 10px inset transparent; } .product-box-half{ flex:1; justify-content:center; margin:5px; } .product-box-title{ font-weight:bold; font-size:20px; margin-bottom:10px; text-align: center; } .product-box-image-wrapper{ clear:both; position:center; } .product-box-description{ font-size:15px; margin-bottom:5px; text-align: left; } .product-box-summary{ font-weight:bold; font-size:18px; color: #1B3E1E; margin-bottom:5px; text-align: center; } .product-box-button .button{ font-size:16px; width:100%; text-align:center; margin-top:10px; padding:5px; border-radius:5px; color: white; font-weight:normal; } @media only screen and (max-width: 760px) { .product-box-single{ flex-direction:column; } .product-box-half{ width:100%; } } --> Top Item Kid's Classic Realtree Crocs Best Kid's Camo Crocs If you're looking for a camo croc option for your child, look no further! This classic option has everything you need. Best Price on Amazon 4. Best Classic Camo Crocs Adult Classic Printed Camo Crocs

Similar to the model mentioned above, these Crocs offer all the expected awesome features with a new classic printed camo.

You can rest easy knowing you just purchased a pair of Crocs that's ncredibly light and fun to wear. Also, these are water-friendly and buoyant - weighing only ounces.

And for those hot summer days and nights, remember these clogs have ventilation ports for added breathability to help shed water and debris.

p:empty{ margin:0; padding:0; } .product-box-ribbon:after{ content: " "; display: block; position: absolute; left: -10px; bottom: -7px; border-top: 0 inset transparent; border-right: 10px solid #1B3E1E; border-bottom: 7px inset transparent; border-left: 10px inset transparent; } .product-box-half{ flex:1; justify-content:center; margin:5px; } .product-box-title{ font-weight:bold; font-size:20px; margin-bottom:10px; text-align: center; } .product-box-image-wrapper{ clear:both; position:center; } .product-box-description{ font-size:15px; margin-bottom:5px; text-align: left; } .product-box-summary{ font-weight:bold; font-size:18px; color: #1B3E1E; margin-bottom:5px; text-align: center; } .product-box-button .button{ font-size:16px; width:100%; text-align:center; margin-top:10px; padding:5px; border-radius:5px; color: white; font-weight:normal; } @media only screen and (max-width: 760px) { .product-box-single{ flex-direction:column; } .product-box-half{ width:100%; } } --> Top Item Adult Classic Printed Camo Adult Classic Printed Camo Best Classic Camo Crocs The reliable and comfortable croc is now avaailable in  an adventurous new camo print. Best Price on 5. Best Camo All-Terrain Crocs Crocs Camo All-Terrain Clog

Yes, Crocs took their classic design and made it a little more rugged!

To dive deeper, these Crocs come with a more rugged outsole and an adjustable turbo strap. Furthermore, the lightweight Croslite construction makes them an easy pack for any outdoor adventure.

And as you'd expect, the Realtree Edge camo pattern has these shoes looking super clean for any outing.

p:empty{ margin:0; padding:0; } .product-box-ribbon:after{ content: " "; display: block; position: absolute; left: -10px; bottom: -7px; border-top: 0 inset transparent; border-right: 10px solid #1B3E1E; border-bottom: 7px inset transparent; border-left: 10px inset transparent; } .product-box-half{ flex:1; justify-content:center; margin:5px; } .product-box-title{ font-weight:bold; font-size:20px; margin-bottom:10px; text-align: center; } .product-box-image-wrapper{ clear:both; position:center; } .product-box-description{ font-size:15px; margin-bottom:5px; text-align: left; } .product-box-summary{ font-weight:bold; font-size:18px; color: #1B3E1E; margin-bottom:5px; text-align: center; } .product-box-button .button{ font-size:16px; width:100%; text-align:center; margin-top:10px; padding:5px; border-radius:5px; color: white; font-weight:normal; } @media only screen and (max-width: 760px) { .product-box-single{ flex-direction:column; } .product-box-half{ width:100%; } } --> Top Item Crocs Camo All-Terrain Clog Crocs Camo All-Terrain Clog Best Camo All-Terain Crocs Stay camouflaged and take your adventure off-road in these newly designed clogs. Best Price on Amazon 6. Best Camo Lined Crocs Crocs Classic Lined Camo Crocs

What's better than a classic camo designed Croc? Umm... one you can wear in the winter time too!

These Crocs offer a soft, fuzzy liners, to increase the cushion and comfort you already love and enjoy.

Also, these are great as slippers, but can still be used to go outside if needed. These are incredibly light and fun to wear and have a pivoting heel straps for a more secure fit.

Top Item Crocs Classic Lined Camo Crocs Crocs Classic Lined Camo Crocs Best Camo Lined Crocs That great camo look with a little more lining in case you want to rock these bad boys when it's a little chilly outside. Best Price on Amazon Random Camo Crocs Information

Before you make your final purchase, take a second to review these frequently asked questions and most popular related topics:

1. Should You Size UP Or Down On Camo Crocs?

Most of the time, you don't need to change your standard shoe size to fit crocs. However, if you want to double check, take a look at Croc's size guide.

2. What Camo Company Does Crocs Partner Up With?

Crocs has a partnership with Realtree camo.

3. Did Crocs Make A Camo Clog For Luke Combs?

Yes, Crocs did create a special shoe just for Luke Combs in a classic camo.

Also, we have a great blog about the Best KUIU Hunting Gear if you're interested!

- Patrick Morgan

Hunting leases open up excellent opportunities for hunters to legally access some of the best hunting grounds in the nation and present a source of income for landowners. Hunting leases can reduce trespassing, provide a way for state wildlife agents to prosecute illegal hunting, and reduce nuisance populations of wild animals. When injuries happen on a hunting lease, figuring out who is liable is complex and can quickly ruin a carefully-cultivated relationship between the landowner and the hunter. A solution to the problem is a hunting lease insurance policy that clearly labels when and how liability is assigned in the case of injury.

The key to getting coverage through a hunting lease insurance policy is choosing the best policy to cover the types of risks that are present. Policies are available for hunters and landowners, and it is highly recommended that both parties hold policies. Many policies are written to cover both parties simultaneously.
What do Hunting Lease Insurance Policies Cover?

Hunting lease insurance policies are intended to provide financial coverage in the case of injuries or damages that occur. In general, a landowner may be held liable for any injuries or damages that occur as a result of dangerous conditions the owner knew about but did not correct or notify the hunters about. In broad terms, a landowner may incur damages from hunters who cause damage to the property.

Standard policy coverage for hunting lease insurance policies includes:

- $1,000,000 per occurrence / $2,000,000 Aggregate

- Fire Damage Liability ($100,000)

- Medical expenses ($5000) – accident coverage unrelated to Liability

In addition to these basic coverages, a hunting lease insurance policy should include coverage for:

- Member-to-Member Coverage

- Guest Liability Coverage

- Liability coverage for Tree Stands

- Coverage for ATV accidents

- Hunting Agreements vs Insurance

A hunting agreement is a great way for the landowner and the hunter to constructively work out the rules and regulations that will apply when hunting the property. This can include what areas are open and to whom, when and where ATVs and other vehicles can be driven, what game can be taken, and who is responsible for things like trash collection and repairs due to wear and tear from use. It should also detail the financial terms of the arrangement.

An agreement is an important document that should be drafted upon the parties deciding on the lease. It is a key way that both parties can protect themselves from certain liability and ensures that all parties are aware of what the expectations are from each other.

Insurance provides financial backing in the event that an injury or damages occur. It should be pointed out that in many cases, an agreement can’t overrule the law, so even if certain conditions are set in the agreement, injuries and damages could still result in a case. An insurance policy will also cover things that the average homeowner and hunter might not consider. This includes things like guests on the property that injure each other, accidental or intentional damage to neighboring properties, and even freak accidents like structure fires due to ricocheted.

What To Look For From The Best Insurance Policies

Many insurance policies are written from a generalized form established by the insurance company. While this document might cover the majority of incidents, it can also be too broad to provide effective coverage. Policies should clearly list how the policy applies in a variety of situations that relate directly to hunting. This includes things like accidental shootings of people, pets, and livestock, damage to farm equipment and outbuildings, and injuries from accidents.

Policies need to clearly list the individuals who are covered and provide exemptions for those who are not allowed on the property. In many instances, these policies are written for hunting clubs that might represent numerous members who are only loosely affiliated. In this case, the policy should include protections for member-to-member injuries and clearly list who, when, and how hunting club members will advise each other about when they are hunting the property. The policy should cover things like when portable tree stands can be used, and how liability is covered in tree stands owned by the landowner but available for the hunters to use.

How Much Does A Policy Cost?

The costs of a hunting lease insurance policy are typically related to the size of the property and the types of risks that are present. Insurance policies are sold at a by-the-acre cost, so larger properties will have a higher cost. Policies that carry additional coverage beyond the standard will also cost more, but in most cases, additional coverage is affordable.

Who Pays For Insurance?

Landowners should never allow any leaseholders onto their property without having at least a minimum policy on hand. This will ensure they are covered no matter what happens and typically will establish very clear legal boundaries to separate liability according to the type of incident. The costs of the policy may be borne by the lease fee paid by hunters.

Hunters and hunting clubs should carry their own policies. An additional policy ensures that everyone is covered in case of an accident or carelessness, protects the members, and protects the club itself. Hunting club policies are interchangeable with hunting lease insurance policies and provide the same type of coverage but written specifically to address the unique circumstances of hunting clubs and their members.

My Final Thoughts On Hunting Lease Insurance

Choosing the best hunting lease insurance policy involves a lot more than just finding the lowest-cost policy on the market. It is vital that property owners and hunters explore their options when shopping for a policy to find a carrier that will cover the unique types of injuries most likely to happen. Policies should provide coverage for basic injuries and accidents, coverage for damage to property that includes fire protection, and a policy that covers any person who is hunting the property.

An insurance policy is important even when the landowner and the hunter or hunting club have a hunting agreement in place. Both documents support one another, but an agreement may not provide the optimal coverage under the law that an insurance policy will provide.

Additionally, we have a pretty interesting article about How To Finance Hunting Land!

- Patrick Morgan
How Big Of A Cooler Do You Need For Hunting?

Hunting is about more than successfully harvesting your target. One of the most satisfying parts of hunting is using the wild game to feed your friends and family. But the best hunt can turn to disaster if your wild game fails to make it to the table unspoiled. Because of this, many hunters find themselves asking the question, "How big a cooler do I need for hunting?"

Whether at a remote hunting camp, traveling to another state, or simply hunting more than a few hours from home, you will eventually need to transport wild game. Not only will you need to transport the game, but you will also need to keep it cool enough to prevent spoiling. This will require a large enough cooler to transport the meat in various processed stages, as well as ice to keep it cool. Let's take a look at what that might mean before you purchase the best hunting cooler out there.

How To Calculate What Size Hunting Cooler You Need

First, you need to figure the density of your meat. If we go by venison as the standard density of meat for any similar game species, based on this chart it has a density of 1 g/ml. 

From there, we use a simple calculator and some helpful advice from Practical Self Reliance, to get an estimate that one quart will hold two pounds of meat.

Put in a different manner, for every 100 lbs. of game meat (deboned), you'll need a 50 qt. cooler. Just cut the total weight of all your meat in half, and that's the size cooler you need!

Calculating Hunting Cooler Size

Hunting Cooler Size By Species

Recommended Cooler Size by Species

1. Whitetail Deer and Antelope

Whitetail deer and antelope may not be genetically related or found in the same hunting areas, but they share one crucial trait-size. An adult of either species is close enough in size to place both in the same category in terms of the cooler size needed.

A small whitetail deer or antelope can easily fit inside an 80-quart cooler whole with hide removed. If quartered, you can get away with a 65–75-quart cooler, depending on whether it is a doe or buck. If you can butcher and debone the animal, your cooler size can be as little as 50-60 quarts.

2. Mule Deer

Although the typical mule deer averages 15-20% larger than a whitetail, they can grow much larger, up to 300 lbs. vs. 200 lbs. for a white tail. This means your cooler will also need to increase in size as well.

A smaller mule deer may fit in a cooler whole. However, the average hunter is after trophies, not dinks. This means that you will almost always need to process your harvest. A quartered mule deer, with bones in place, typically requires a 105-quart cooler. If deboned, this will drop to a 75–80-quart option.

3. Black Bear

Even as the smaller of the bear species, an adult black bear is an extraordinary animal. The size of their head, body, and paws leaves hunters in awe. They easily exceed 300 lbs. Many hunters believe that this means they will require a supply of large coolers to transport their prize home, but you would be surprised how wrong they are.

It would be impossible to transport a bear whole. Therefore, processing is necessary before transport. However, once processed, bears are much smaller than they appear. The hide made up much of their mass, followed by the head. They also contain a large percentage of body fat verse usable meat, allowing a quartered black bear to fit in a 150-quart cooler. For deboned meat, you can use a 100-quart cooler.

4. Elk

Anyone who has ever seen an elk in the wild knows they dwarf almost any other North American big game species. The 100-quart cooler you used for a mule deer may not even fit ½ of your elk meat regardless of how you prepare it. Large coolers (yes, coolers, multiple) will be needed to avoid wasting a lot of your meat.

Most hunters will quarter an elk for initial transports from the hunting location to the cabin or base camp. However, due to the size of these quarters, only some will fit into an average cooler. Even if you could, lifting the cooler after it loaded would be impossible. Once quartered, storing the meat will take 3-4 150-quart coolers. If completely deboned (and around 270 lbs. of meat), you can use one 150-quart coolers for an average elk.

5. Moose

Only a few hunters are lucky enough to harvest a moose. If you are saving, the meat is a necessity. But moose yield a lot of moose, so be prepared with several large coolers.

The average moose can weigh as much as 1600 pounds and be over 6 feet tall. Dressed, it will weigh approximately 950 pounds and yield almost 500 pounds of usable meat. A field-dressed moose is not being transported in coolers. Even when quartered, most coolers are too small for the meat to fit. Moose are so large that many hunters install a freezer in the bed of their truck or on a trailer for transporting the meat. If you fully process the meat, a minimum of 5-6 150-quart coolers will be needed.

Again, if completely deboned (and around 500 lbs. of meat), you can get away with two 150-quart coolers.

What About The Other Stuff? Hide and Head

Regardless of what species you are harvesting, you may want to save the hide. You may want to keep the head if it is a buck. If so, consider having another cooler on hand. Preserving the hide and head the same way you preserve the meat will protect it for mounting.

Odds and Ends

Unless you are an experienced butcher or utilize a guide who performs this service, chances are you will not end up with perfect cuts of meat. In most cases, the above estimates are based on packing quartered or processed meat with enough room for ice. There is minimal leeway.

With this in mind, it is recommended that an additional smaller 45 or 50-quart cooler be on hand for scraps, heart, liver, and any other odds & ends you may find remaining.

Please do not overdo it....

It may be easier to take the largest cooler available. This could be a mistake that costs you dearly. Extra room in the cooler makes it harder to keep items cool. Adding more ice will make it heavier and harder to move. Plus, unless packed correctly, your meat could stay healthy before reaching your destination.

My Final Thoughts On Hunting Cooler Size

Hopefully, this information helps you better prepare for your next hunting adventure and the triumphant return with a freezer full of wild game. Field to the table – no better way to enjoy all the aspects of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Also, for a blog about How Many People A Deer Will Feed, we have the key information! 

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Acontentious land exchange on the eastern side of the Crazy Mountains and near Big Sky has been approved by the supervisor of the Custer Gallatin National Forest.

The draft decision contains modifications to address concerns from the more than 1,000 people who commented.

The changes include conservation easements and protective covenants to limit development on exchanged parcels, wetland protection by modifying federal parcel boundaries and deed restrictions, Supervisor Mary Erickson wrote in her Sept. 27 letter attached to the documentation.

“I believe that this decision secures the strongest and most certain possible outcome to serve the long-term public interest,” Erickson wrote. “Over 100 years of history have shown that existing access challenges in the East Crazy Mountains will never be any less difficult to resolve.”

Read more at the Billings Gazette here...

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New England BHA Supports Moose Research

In collaboration with the University of New Hampshire's Wildlife Management and Modeling Lab (WMML) and New Hampshire Fish and Game, the New England Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) is enthusiastic about its support towards substantial two part study on moose and mesocarnivores (such as bobcats, foxes, coyotes, and fishers) in the state of New Hampshire. This study utilizes around 300 camera traps (trail cameras) across the state to investigate population dynamics and provide valuable data for future wildlife management decisions.


Chris Borgatti, the New England Chapter Coordinator, expressed his excitement about the project, saying, "I'm thrilled that the chapter is supporting this study, which will significantly contribute to the management of one of New England's most iconic species." Having spent a day with the WMML team in the field last spring, he was convinced of the project's potential. The chapter has undertaken the responsibility of "adopting" research grids, which involves collecting data by swapping out SD cards, and maintaining the cameras within each grid. This entails checking battery levels, replacing SD