Submit your photo

Bulldozers push out wildlife for more corn

by Patrick Durkin 22. June 2012 08:50
Patrick Durkin

If you drive through farm country these days, you’ll often see bulldozers pushing old farmsteads, fencerows and windbreaks into monstrous burn piles to expand high-priced cornfields for feeding cattle and brewing ethanol.
All those miles of former brush, oaks, box elder, tall grass, dark granite and crumbling limestone once served as valuable shelterbelts. Besides protecting farm fields from wind and water erosion, they also provided habitat for deer, rabbits, songbirds, pheasants and other wildlife.

Bulldozers pushed several hundred yards of shelterbelts into numerous burn-piles on this southern Wisconsin farm.

Since the Dust Bowl, agricultural agencies and conservationists encouraged and applauded farmers who built and maintained shelterbelts, viewing them as long-term investments in the land. But conservation apparently can’t compete with corn that’s worth nearly $6 per bushel today and consistently more than $4 per bushel the past five years after averaging $2.50 from 1973 through 2005.

This widespread conversion of year-round habitat to seasonal one-crop monocultures is happening from Ohio and Indiana to eastern Washington. And it’s not just shelterbelts and abandoned farmsteads. In the Dakotas, folks are burning off cattail marshes, and tiling the black muck below to expand corn and soybean fields. How many miles of shelterbelts have been lost? Well, no government agency tracks acreage kept as fencerows, windbreaks or vacant farmsteads. But the federal government’s Conservation Reserve Program provides an indicator. Wisconsin alone will lose 45,170 acres of CRP land this year, presumably to beans and corn.

Fencerows and other shelterbelts that provide year-round habitat for ringneck pheasants and other wildlife are being lost as farmers expand fields to grow more profitable corn and soybeans.

But the Badger State is only 15th in lost CRP acres. North Dakota will lose nearly 650,000 acres of CRP lands this year, worst in the nation. Montana is second with 435,000 lost acres, and then it’s Minnesota, 190,000 and South Dakota with 170,000.
In fact, Pheasants Forever estimates the Northern Plains will lose more than 1 million CRP acres in the program’s 2012 re-enrollment process. CRP is perhaps the most powerful conservation tool in U.S. history. Under CRP the past 25-plus years, the government paid farmers and ranchers to plant trees and grasses instead of crops along waterways and highly erodible areas to protect the land and prevent soils and nutrients from washing into rivers and streams.

Diane Peterson photo, Pheasants Forever: A hunter takes aim at a ringneck pheasant flushed from a brushy ditch.

Although payments for CRP lands were competitive with crop prices from the late 1980s through the mid-2000s, they’ve lagged with recent leaps in grain prices. What’s behind high grain prices? Some blame federal subsidies for ethanol production, while others cite rising global demands for cattle feed, including China, India and South America.
Scott Walter, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ upland game ecologist, tracks the state’s CRP acreage for the DNR. He said 51 percent of the country’s 2011 corn crop went to ethanol production, the first time in history that more corn went for fuel than food.

“That demand drives up not only corn prices, but food prices,” Walter said. “That puts more pressure on the land, it destroys more wildlife habitat, and it gives people fewer places to hunt. If your goal is to create more hunting opportunities, the challenge worsens for each acre lost to crop production.”

Dave Nomsen, vice president of governmental affairs for Pheasants Forever, said lost ditches, shelterbelts and old farmsteads have huge impacts on small game, upland birds and other wildlife.
“I’ve lived in Northern Plains states my entire life, and I’ve never seen pressure on the landscape like we have now,” Nomsen said. “It’s one thing to convert old grass into corn, but when you’re pulling out rocks, trees, wetlands and old farmyard foundations, and testing and capping wells on abandoned farmsteads, you’re investing significant time, effort and money into something that might not pay off for very long.”

Roger Hill photo, Pheasants Forever: The more shelterbelts lost to grain production, the fewer places for deer, pheasants, rabbits and other wildlife to live and hide.

Even so, Nomsen said it’s difficult to fault individuals who cash in on today’s high crop prices. “It’s a complex question and decision,” he said. “High land values are part of it, too. It’s tough for a landowner to stand pat with a $75 to $100 break on CRP acres when he can get two to three times that much by renting his fields to someone planting beans and corn.”
Nomsen and Walter also wonder what will happen if grain prices fall to where CRP rates are again competitive.

“Who’s going to put back those long strips of old trees, big rocks and old fencerows?” Walter asked.

For that matter, who’s going to replace the fertile topsoil that blows or drains away the next few years in the absence of shelterbelts?

Wisconsin Right to Add Wolf Hunting Season

by Patrick Durkin 19. April 2012 09:21
Patrick Durkin

Wisconsin lawmakers did the right thing in March by adding the gray wolf to Wisconsin’s list of wildlife that can be hunted and trapped.

With wolf numbers beyond 800 and still climbing – and with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ proven record of scientifically regulating furbearer seasons for foxes, coyotes and bobcats – it’s sensible and consistent to allow wolf hunting and trapping.

The new law also lets the DNR’s bureau of endangered resources off the financial hook when wolves kill pets, cattle, calves, horses, hunting dogs, domestic deer and other livestock. Future wolf-depredation payments will come solely from fees paid by hunters and trappers wishing to hunt wolves.

Predator hunting tends to require serious specialists. Generalists tend to quit when a hunt proves difficult.

Those fees will consist of $10 applications to enter drawings for wolf permits, and $50 (residents) and $250 (nonresidents) licenses for those drawing permits. Those fees will fund depredation payments as long as gray wolves stay off state and federal endangered species lists.

In other words, wolves remain with deer, bears, wild turkeys and Canada geese as Wisconsin’s only animals inspiring government-run entitlement programs. What if a raccoon drowns your Dalmatian or a coyote kills your cat? Sorry. Not the state’s problems.

For more than 20 years, farmers losing crops to browsing deer have been eligible for depredation payments bankrolled by hunting-license fees. Likewise, since 1985, farmers and other folks could receive state-paid death benefits when wolves ate their pet, livestock or other “property.”

License fees paid by hunters will be used to compensate people who lose pets to wolves.

Houndsmen can still seek compensation if wolves kill their dogs while they hunt bears, bobcats or raccoons. But if they’re hunting wolves with hounds when their dog dies in action, the state won’t compensate.

Most noteworthy is that the DNR’s endangered-resources program will no longer pay for misbehaving wolves. That’s also consistent and sensible. The bureau has never had much money, and yet it kept making wolf-depredation payments even after Wisconsin delisted wolves in 2004 and the feds first delisted them in 2007.

Why did the endangered-resources bureau pay nearly $887,500 for wolf-killed pets and livestock the past seven years when wolves were no longer endangered or threatened? Because state law required it.

You might recall that former state Sen. Kevin Shibilski, D-Stevens Point, is a bear-hunting houndsman. Shibilski – there’s no “I” in team but there’s three in Shibilski – wrote the provision that states: “For the purpose of payment of damage claims, the gray wolf shall be considered an endangered or threatened species regardless of whether the wolf is listed as such.”

Wolf licenses will cost $50 for residents and $250 for nonresidents.

The new law repeals that sneaky raid of the endangered-resources program, which has compensated increasingly more wolf damage recently. Although annual payouts averaged $127,000 the past seven years, they nearly tripled from $106,000 in 2009 to $300,000 in 2011, and are expected to hit $320,000 this year.

Meanwhile, the endangered-resources program suffered steady declines the past decade in its two primary funding sources: tax check-offs and specialty license plates. Perhaps it’s coincidence, but taxpayers now have nine additional check-off options for charitable donations, and motorists now have nearly 30 novelty license-plate options.

Going forward, lawmakers are gambling there will be enough interest in wolf hunting and trapping to fund and reduce depredation costs. Who knows how many Wisconsin hunters will want wolf permits? Trapping and predator hunting tend to attract serious specialists. Even if initial interest in wolves is high, dabblers and generalists will likely fade away when permit allocations are minuscule and wolf hunting proves difficult.

Still, here’s one estimate: A DNR study of the wolf bill’s fiscal impacts notes that Idaho issued 26,428 licenses for its first wolf hunt in 2009. Idaho closed the season when reaching its quota. But if interest in wolves parallels bears among Wisconsin hunters, about 100,000 might apply for a permit.

With scenarios ranging from 25,000 to 100,000 applicants, wolf hunting would generate $250,000 to $1 million in application fees. But if the DNR is conservative and issues, say 200 licenses, that’s only $10,000 more.

Those numbers suggest we’ll see tremendous shortfalls in wolf-depredation payments. If so, the new law makes no provision for the unfunded balance. Compensation payments will be made on a prorated, i.e., discounted, basis.

While this new law might prove good for wolves and Wisconsin, don’t expect widespread joy and satisfaction from those losing pets and livestock to wolves..




For some reason, hunters often struggle to find satisfaction

by Patrick Durkin 15. March 2012 00:48
Patrick Durkin

For all the fun, challenge and satisfaction we find in scouting, hunting sheds and bowhunting deer, elk and other critters, I’m often struck how often guys tell me they’re unhappy with the neighbors, deer numbers or rut activity.

Research shows that "nonconsumptive" recreationists – such as hikers, bikers, campers and rowers – report more satisfaction from their activities than do hunters, anglers and mushroom hunters.

It seems I’m not alone. In fact, here’s something to think about: If hunters, anglers and mushroom pickers want to return home feeling happier and more satisfied after every outing, we might want to take up hiking, camping, canoeing or birdwatching.

Like it or not, research consistently shows “consumptive” recreationists – hunter-gatherers – report significantly lower satisfaction ratings than our “nonconsumptive” counterparts.

When Professor Jerry Vaske at Colorado State University reported this finding in 1982, he also predicted it wouldn’t change much over time. Why? Probably because hunter-gatherers typically have specific goals like shooting a deer or catching a perch. Further, even if we choose great spots with higher odds of reaching our goals, we can’t control deer activity or perch feeding habits.

Nonconsumptive recreationists don’t have such exact goals and expectations. Plus, they usually have more control in determining their outing’s satisfaction, whether it’s a campsite’s location, a trail’s scenery, a hike’s length, or a rapids’ degree of difficulty. They can choose outings that best match their skills and interests, which increases satisfaction.

Sure, hunters and anglers also enjoy violet sunrises, fog-shrouded valleys and smoky-gold tamaracks, but these are desserts, not necessarily main courses.

Friends enjoy a campfire after a full day of bowhunting elk in Idaho.

And although we photograph snow-draped cedars for their beauty, we judge the snow’s usefulness by whether it helps us see deer, find tracks, or hear hoofsteps. Likewise, we might appreciate a cool breeze on hot afternoons, but then we’ll curse it for ruining our casts, blowing our scent to deer, or pushing our boat off biting fish.

Too many standards. Too little control. Too many distractions and failed expectations.

And ultimately, too much room for frustration.

So when Professor Vaske recently updated and expanded his 1982 research, no wonder he found hunters and anglers still aren’t as satisfied as bikers, climbers, kayakers, runners and other nonconsumptive recreationists. This time, Vaske and his research assistant, Jennifer Roemer, analyzed 102 studies – 57 consumptive and 45 nonconsumptive – that examined satisfaction levels of participants in a wide range of outdoor activities from 1975 through 2005.

Even mushroom hunters tend to report less overall satisfaction in the outdoors than do campers.

Despite the large sample, the results differed little from his 1982 research. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, but I’m guessing some bowhunters and fishermen will take it personally.

Yes, not everyone feels dissatisfied. Many of us enjoy every outing, and don’t need to arrow a big buck to feel content. It says so on our bumper stickers “The worst day bowhunting beats the best day working.”

Unfortunately, we aren’t the majority. When researchers compile data and cross-check answers, they often find things that separate fibs from fact, and wishes from reality.

Even though birders report greater satisfaction than do hunters, how many of us would trade bowhunting for birdwatching?

Vaske notes that while hunters and anglers have other goals that influence satisfaction -- such as camaraderie, solitude and being alone in nature – the research found these things were “partial substitutes” and of “secondary importance.” In fact, “seeing, shooting and bagging game” remain the most important factors for evaluating hunting and fishing experiences, and “the strongest predictors of overall satisfaction.”

In contrast, the goals of campers, backpackers and other nonconsumptive types are more general, Vaske writes. They, too, might feel motivated to test skills, seek solitude, experience nature and spend time with friends. These goals, however, aren’t as specific as catching a meal of bluegills or shooting a doe for the family’s larder. Therefore, nonconsumptive goals are “more easily substituted if one goal is not satisfied.”

Even when some of us go snowshoeing, our main interest is scouting for deer sign.

In other words, it’s probably asking too much of hunting – on land or in the water – to satisfy all hunters all the time. For example, when Wisconsin deer hunters rated their experiences the past 10 years of record-setting seasons, you would have thought some were being water-boarded.

After setting the Wisconsin-record deer kill (528,494) in 2000, the majority opinion – 40.8 percent of hunters – judged the season’s quality “about average.” After Wisconsin’s No. 2 gun-deer season (413,794 kills) in 2004, the majority – 52 percent – ranked its quality “low.” And after tallying Wisconsin’s No. 3 gun season (402,563 kills) in 2007, the majority – 53.6 percent – also ranked it “low.”

Worse, some think it’s the government’s responsibility to satisfy and make them happy by supplying more deer, even as they protest taxes, threaten license boycotts, and demand government get off their backs.

Unfortunately, if anyone thinks lawmakers can deliver long-term hunting and fishing satisfaction, their frustrations and disappointments are just beginning.

SHOT Show has changed, stayed the same since January 1991

by Patrick Durkin 14. March 2012 23:50
Patrick Durkin

While checking in and picking up my media credentials at the 2012 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas in January, I realized I was attending my 22nd consecutive SHOT Show. My first was in Dallas in January 1991.

Maybe that’s why I couldn’t help but eavesdrop in a hotel elevator the first morning when two guys next to me started complaining. They said they’d been coming to the show “for years,” and groaned about the “long day” ahead.

Pretty girls staff many SHOT Show booths to greet visitors and hand out information.

“It’s not getting any easier,” one guy said.

“Nine hours of walking and standing on cement covered by thin carpeting,” the other sighed. “The more I do this, the worse I feel.”

I glanced at them, expecting to see men in their 40s, maybe even 50s. But no, they weren’t even close to my age, 56. They looked to be in their mid-30s; late 30s at the most.

I couldn’t help but smile and ask: “How many SHOT Shows have you attended?”

The guy nearest me said, “Seven.” His friend replied, “Me too.”

Author and former Navy SEAL Chuck Pfarrer sold and signed copies of his latest book for charity at the 2012 SHOT Show.

I must have smiled wider, because one of them asked politely, “I take it this isn’t your first one?”

I silently thanked him for not adding, “Old Timer” to the end of his sentence. Then I told him this was No. 22 for me, and I hoped I’d be around for at least 22 more. “They’re all a blur now,” I said.

My companions seemed impressed, even apologetic. “I guess we shouldn’t be complaining, should we?”

Terry Drury, left, and Mark Drury, center, talk with Cuz Strickland of Mossy Oak fame.

“Well, don’t let me ruin a good time for you,” I laughed, and wished them well.

The fact is, the SHOT Show is a demanding way to spend four days, but as I’ll always say, “It beats working for a living.” My typical day at SHOT begins about 4:30 a.m. and ends at 10 p.m. Although the show is held in Las Vegas most years, I estimate I’ve spent no more than $70 gambling in all my walks back and forth between the show and my hotel room. And if I were to subtract two $20 bets I’ve made on Super Bowls played during SHOT Show weekends, I’ve spent about $30 on the slots.

The fact is, I must cover so much ground each day of SHOT that I’m too tired to do anything fun in Vegas at night. Plus, I usually file two 700-word articles each night of the Show, and another 700-word newspaper column one morning. Such articles don’t get written unless I visit a lot of booths and attend several press conferences each day.

Astronaut Joe Engle posed for a photo with my daughter, Leah Durkin, at a recent SHOT Show.

Yeah, my job requires a lot of notes, photographs and interviews. And I can’t say I look forward to my nine hours on the show floor each day, and roughly three hours of work before and after the show. Before self pity creeps in, though, I remind myself there’s only a few thousand hunters and shooters who would love to have my job.

During all these years attending SHOT, I think often about how it has changed. During the early 1990s, the show truly featured hunting. All the archery companies were clustered in one part of its massive floor, and the firearms companies stretched endlessly in the other three directions. I spent two days in each, and never came close to seeing everything.

By the late 1990s, the archery industry had all but abandoned the SHOT Show in favor of the ATA Trade Show. About the only archery companies you see at SHOT now are crossbow manufacturers. If not for them and a few tree-stand companies, you wouldn’t suspect the archery industry was once a key player at SHOT.

Miles of carpeted aisles lead SHOT Show business people past thousands of manufacturers' booths.

Then, soon after 9-11 and the United States’ “War on Terror,” SHOT attracted a growing number of entrepreneurs and manufacturers that specialize in police and military hardware. Unlike the archery and firearms industries, however, I don’t see as much overlap between the firearms and police-military industries. I often feel like I’m learning everything from scratch when working the booths in the law-enforcement wings.

Still, there’s one great thing about the SHOT Show that never changes: It never bores me. I always meet nice people who are passionate about their work, play and business. And whether it’ 1991 or 2012, I’ll often see celebrities roaming the aisles or standing at booths to meet people and sign autographs. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to meet astronaut Joe Engle, test-pilot Chuck Yeager, football coach Bud Grant, actor/gunnery sergeant R. Lee Ermey, and various singers and musicians.

Another thing that hasn’t changed: Some companies still hire pretty girls to hand out brochures and pose for pictures with middle-aged and aging guys like me. After 22 years, I’m still not sure if those girls truly generate business for the exhibitors. I’ll never forget when I ran into my old boss at the 1992 SHOT Show, and said: “Al, you won’t believe this. I just saw two really pretty girls in bikinis working at a booth two aisles over.”

You'll never visit every booth at the SHOT Show, even if you spend every hour of all four days on the show floor.

Al smiled and asked, “Which company are they working for and what were they selling?”

I stood silent, totally dumbstruck. Finally I said: “You know. I never thought to look or ask.”

Al smiled again and said, “I rest my case.”

Well, at the 2012 SHOT Show I still saw a lot of pretty, smiling girls working the booths of several companies. None wore bikinis, but six weeks later, I still can’t answer Al’s timeless question: I don’t know who they worked for or what they were selling.

Maybe I’ll pay more attention and remember such things at the 2013 SHOT Show, but don’t hold me to it.




Crossbow Hunting Safety

by Daniel James Hendricks 28. December 2011 14:13
Daniel James Hendricks

The crossbow is so powerful it is like a 30.06 that shoots arrows.” 

That’s a claim that has been made by the anti-crossbow camp for decades and the truth of the matter is that with a 100-225 lb. or more draw weight, crossbows usually are more powerful than most vertical bows.  The additional draw weight, however, is necessary to compensate for the shorter power stroke and the lesser amount of KE stored in a crossbow arrow.

One can only assume, therefore, that if a crossbow has a heavier draw weight, it’s more dangerous.  The truth is that, as with any other hunting tool, safety during use is critical with the crossbow.  The very first thing that every new crossbow hunter should do is sit down and read their owner’s manual – cover to cover – at least once; twice is even better.  That manual will explain proper handling and safety procedures for your specific bow.  There are some general practices that apply to all crossbow users regardless of which bow they shoot.   

Mark your serving on each side of the rail so that you can visually check to insure that you have cocked your crossbow evenly.

Step number one is always generously use rail lube and string wax when operating your crossbow.  If the string breaks, bad things will happen to your crossbow and perhaps to the shooter or the people in close proximity.  Both lube and wax preserve the string.  If your string begins to fray and strands break – change it, immediately.  Most crossbows are on safe at the end of the cocking process.  Always check to make sure
that your bow is on safe before doing anything else.  This is very important!  Also make sure that the string is centered after cocking by marking your serving so that you can visually verify that it has been drawn back evenly.  If the string is not centered, it will change the impact point of your arrow similar to using a different anchor point on a vertical bow.
Now listen up!  Please make sure that you thumb is below the rail of the crossbow before releasing your arrow; if not, when you pull the trigger the string will hit your thumb and something is going to give.  It will not be the string!  I’ve seen a variety of severe wounds inflicted by a crossbow string and none of them are fun, even the ones that do not draw blood instead of amputate.  The fact that most folks only do it once is of little comfort when you are hopping around, screaming in pain. 

When choosing a crossbow, select one that has a forestock that will help keep fingers well below the rail preventing injured fingers.

Never dry fire a crossbow.  Shooting a crossbow without an arrow to absorb the energy will blow up your bow and when that happens one is never sure of where all the pieces will fly; you may be seriously hurt.   Remember that a loaded crossbow should be handled exactly and with the same care as a loaded firearm.
On the range, make sure that you have a solid and reliable back stop.  Having a range that is at least 300 yards deep and open is recommended and will allow plenty of room for obstruction-free arrow flight.  Targets should be of a high quality capable of readily stopping an arrow from a crossbow.  If the target is badly worn or of an inferior quality, damage may be inflicted to the shorter crossbow arrows causing costly repairs or even destroying the arrow completely.

Cock the crossbow on the ground before raising it into the stand with a safety rope.

Now let’s move into the field and take a look as some common sense practices there.  When hunting from an elevated stand always cock your crossbow on the ground and then use a tow rope to raise it to the platform.  Do not attempt to climb into a stand carrying your crossbow. Once you are secured in your stand with a safety harness (always use a fall arrest system in an elevated stand), then raise your crossbow and load it.  Never have an arrow in place when raising or lowering your crossbow.  That’s how people get killed, and yes it has happened.  Unless your sitting in an enclosed stand, after taking a shot, your crossbow should be lowered to the ground to be recocked.  If you use a cocking device, which can be implemented from a sitting position, remaining in your stand is acceptable.  Never lean over in a treestand to cock your crossbow.
The preferred method for crossbow hunting is from a ground blind or an elevated stand.  The crossbow may be used for still hunting or stalking, but extra caution should be applied.  The crossbow may be cocked and on safe, but one should never move through the bush with an arrow loaded on the rail.  When game is spotted, only then should an arrow be loaded onto the crossbow.  Until that moment, the arrow with the broadhead completely protected should be carried in a bow or hip quiver, not in your hand.

Never shoot at a target on rise without knowing what is on the other side.

It is important that one never shoots a crossbow at a sky-lined animal.  It is critical that you are able to see exactly where your arrow is going to go so that no living thing is accidently harmed by your shot.  As with vertical archery, one should always wait until the game you are shooting at is relaxed and standing still.  No shots should be taken at moving targets.  Making drives while crossbow hunting is not an acceptable practice and should be avoided.
It is important that you are fully aware of all local ordinances regarding shooting your crossbow.  Check with local officials or authorities to make sure that you are not violating any laws while you practice.
There are no more injuries with a crossbow than there are with vertical archery equipment, but it still happens every year.  Knowing your equipment and being aware of common-sense safety procedures will insure that the time you spend in the field will be accident-free and gratifying for all around you.  Good luck and good hunting.

Make sure that your fingers and thumb are well below the rail to prevent injury or loss of digits.

The National Bowhunting Education Foundation publishes a booklet entitled Today’s Crossbow.  This publication’s the official Crossbow Hunters Safety program used by the NBEF.  To obtain a copy, email and request it by name.

Safety features to consider when buying a crossbow. 
Anti-dry fire safety - Some models of crossbows have an anti-dry fire mechanism that prevents the trigger from being pulled when there is no arrow loaded.  This is a common mistake that has been responsible for the destructions of many a crossbow.  Choosing a crossbow with this safety feature can save its owner a lot of misfortune and expense.  Consider it when you are looking for the right crossbow for you.

When tracking or still hunting never have an arrow loaded in the bow.

Preventive Fore-grip – Perhaps the most common injury inflicted by a crossbow is thumbs bruised, torn or even partially removed by the crossbow string when firing.  Many crossbows have specially designed fore-stocks that make it very difficult for this accident to happen.  I would like to say “never”, but there’s always one guy in the crowd that will manage to hurt himself no matter what precautions are taken.  One characteristic that should be considered when purchasing a new crossbow is the conformation of the fore-stock.  Look for one that aids the shooter in keeping the thumb and fingers well below the shooting rail.

Cocking Rope – Another device that can increase safety as well as imrove performance is a cocking rope.  This handy device cuts the draw weight of a crossbow in half, thereby saving wear and tear on the user, especially during practice sessions when many shots are taken.  It also increases accuracy of the crossbow by consistently drawing the string back to the exact same position.  Most companies also offer crank cocking devices that draw back the string by a mechanical winch that requires no effort other than turning the crank.  One company even markets crossbows with the cocking device built right into the stock of the crossbow.  All of these options will increase your safety, while enhancing your shooting experience.









Treestand Safety Application For Smartphones

by Scott Abbott 1. September 2011 03:33
Scott Abbott

The following Application can be downloaded on your cellular phone this fall for absolutely no cost to you. The benefit of this App. is that it could potentially save your life. Please read and pass the information to your hunting friends. Let's make this year the safest year we've all ever endured.

The people at forHuntersbyHunters in association with the Hog-g App team has completed the prototype of a treestand safety tool that will be on display at the Eastern Outdoors Sports Show in Harrisburg,Pa on 2\5-13 at the Kodak Outdoors booth.

A "first of its kind safety device" that utilizes modern technology to aid hunters in the event of a fall from an elevated hunting platform. forhuntersbyhunters are dedicated to meld modern technology with the oldest hobbies of all time, hunting and fishing. Originally designed for Hunters , SafeClimber could be used as in other ares such as roofing work, for Linemen or anywhere there is a risk of injury from falling when you are by yourself.

This much anticipated prototype is finally ready - the "SafeClimber" safety Application for all who hunt from an elevation that have or will buy a smartphone and it is FREE. Thats right, not a cent. 4HxH and the developers are more interested in saving lives than making money. We will be rewarded when the first hunters life is saved because you just can't put a price on life.
Nearly every hunter I know, myself included, knows of at least one hunter that has fallen from a treestand. Hunting accidents such as accidental shootings, rank high, but still treestand accidents are among the top reported accidents during hunting season We want to drive that number down.If you own a smartphone, this is a must have hunting App, a real no brainer because it's FREE and can save your life.
Statistically, nearly one out of every three hunters that hunt from an elevated stand will fall at some point during their span of hunting and treestand accidents are among the top reported accidents during hunting season.There are an estimated 13 Million climbing treestands in use today.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) nearly 75% of falls happen while the hunter is climbing the tree. The "SafeClimber" application has a 1 touch SOS button to enable an emergency text if you find yourself dangling from a tree. The App also has an automatic contact function (automated safety monitor) that will text two preselected contacts (one click from your contacts list for each for a total of two contacts for redundancy) and if you have a GPS signal, the phone can deliver your location by telling exactly where you are located if you you fall from the stand and are unconscious. Another important feature is that your phone will let you know that it has been triggered which gives you time to stop the emergency texts on a false alarm to keep the EMT's from coming.


Watch the Demo:

Bow Seasons Opening Day

by Mike Willand 31. August 2011 14:55
Mike Willand

I awake. Eyes still shut and body still warm. I sit up in my soft bed still hunched over, grasping a minor head pain from the few cocktails which visited me the night before. My eyelids open faintly as I put foot into action, followed by weight, and then in one swift motion stand erect, yet unstable. I shake it off with a forceful yawn.

I ease across the bedroom floor being careful not to wake my beautiful wife as she sleeps so peacefully and so carelessly without thought of the day that will soon follow. The bedroom door squeaks ever so softly as I dance through the doorway and into the hall, shutting the door behind.

I proceed next into my daughter’s room and peak over her tiny crib. Leaning over her nightly fortress, I place my lips on her cheek, run my hand softly over her hair, and disappear back into the loneliness of an empty hallway. The whole time wondering if she’ll ask where I am when she awakes.

Into our guest bathroom I go. Parades of womanly decorations greet me in my tiny chamber. Quickly I undress and step into the shower. The water instantly awakens my senses with a frigid reminder of the upcoming months in which I will make this an almost daily routine. However, today is different. It’s a day I have yearned for since the robin's return in late March and the television first roared with the crowds of summer’s baseball admirers. Today is the opening day of archery season and my body is still fresh from the short hibernation of the hunter.

Storms of memories cascade into my aching head as I continue to shower. Thoughts and dreams of a new year in stand amongst my most favored of competitors - the whitetail. And I thank God I can do it again! As I close my eyes to rinse the soap off my hide, the visions of the great deer I have known flood into my mind like the great Mississippi in spring. And then dreams of the great bucks I anticipate to encounter this year trade with them.

I step from the shower with a great loud thud which is heard throughout the land! Yet a soft touch onto my bathroom floor. My ears are erect now, senses sharpening, and blood at a steady gait tingles through my veins and quickens its pace. The predator within me - awakes! Within minutes, I am dressed and descend down our home's dark winding stairs.

I march into the kitchen with great pride. It has been so long since this moment and I am overwhelmed with anticipation for what the season might bring. I open the fridge to quench my thirst, followed by my greedy acquisition of the last apple. Standing over the kitchen sink I stare out our window into the dark unknown. I knew the ground I would hunt this morning, and knew the tree I wanted to hunt from. The young oak stood on the edge of a secluded meadow, where switch grasses grew as tall as a man. Surrounded by apple trees, this oak has proved its worth over the years with encounter after encounter. But as I took the first bite of my forbidden fruit I wondered if today it could yet yield even another encounter. I continue to chomp at my apple and walk out of our home, locking the door behind.

The cool air gripped me so, causing my heart to skip a beat and blood to quicken once again! It is a crisp air, so full of life and with the whispering promise of an autumn to follow. The gentle breeze blows from the south but still harbors the last hints of summer's domain.

My truck waits out front like a chariot waiting to cry unto battle. Packed the night before, it stood motionless waiting for its master. I cross the grass with such eagerness. This drive I knew would be the beginning of many and would take me to unknown places in the months to follow. It would be the first of another year, filled with the trials that I am to set before myself. There will be triumph! There will be pain. Moments in between scattered with my thoughts, prayers, frustration, eagerness, loss, and ultimately – belief. A deep belief within myself and something Above me still.

The truck roars into gear as I leave my familiar home. The beams from my vehicle are about the only light in an otherwise dark and sleepy neighborhood. I turn the corner heading out of town. The whitetail woods my next destination.

On the highway I glance at the dashboard, seeking out the morning's present time. It spoke ten after four. I knew a twenty minute drive laid itself ahead of me. It would put me into my perch at ten till five I presumed. This meant a good hour before a legal shooting light. A perfect time, I thought, to get into an eagerly awaited and ready position, waiting for the first footsteps of autumn's prey.

Trailing down the highway I begin to drift. Thoughts and dreams billow into my mind once more. Visions of the past reappeared as if to haunt my present memory. The Big Nine who slipped away, the Great Ten who I could not draw on! Little bucks, dozens of does, and the found sheds of whitetail that were never even seen by me. And then my imagination! Conjuring mythical males with countless inches of antler! Greater whitetail than I have ever known seep into my brain and deliberately force me down a path of personal glory! My head is flooded with these thoughts as I continue down the road.

As I pull over the river, I can see my destination in sight. A twenty two minute drive was about to abruptly end. As I slow my faithful steed to an eventual stop, I feel my blood begin to quicken once more!

I pull off the road and onto the gravel beside it, shutting off the lights in one fluid motion. My hand turns the key and an eerie silence falls once more to me. The door to my truck opens with swift intentions, and a blanket of cool, crisp air charges in! Instantly I am outside my truck and gearing up for what will be my final descent before dawn. I sit down on my tailgate buttoning and pulling at the cotton camouflage that will hide me from searching eyes. Soon, I am lacing up the boots that will guide me over various and often intemperate terrains.

With my earthly uniform now covering my body I reach for the one item that will separate my intentions from friendly to foe. I open its casing and am overcome with what this moment truly resembles. It is man's first instinct now buried in a world of conveniences and farce. An item so basic in principle and yet so regarded even in this day. As I take hold of the almost primitive object, it is like I am reaching back to ancestral needs. It is my bow! Where string and stick meet with an unearthly BUMP! As if to say to the gods our species will not fail and become earth's most fabled of predators! Holding it I feel a pure restoration of the human spirit.

I am now ready. I am now equipped. I begin my hike into the great woods lying ahead of me, one foot after the next. And although I walk into these woods with no one by my side - I am not alone.

Good luck on opening day.

Kill Plots The Other Food Plot

by Dan Schafer 6. July 2011 18:31
Dan Schafer

When someone mentions a food plot, one’s mind tends to think about a one to five acre area with lush greens full of deer foraging on high protein brassicas or grains.  While these plots are great for feeding deer, they tend to be destination areas and not great spots to hunt mature bucks.  Lets take a look at these big plots’ little brother, what I call, the kill plot.

A kill plot has one purpose, just like the name implies, for killing a mature buck.  Unlike big brother, these plots are small.  In fact, size is the least of your concerns; in this case location is all that matters. 

This past winter, while scouting a newly acquired piece of land, we located a major buck bedding area and not far away, a perfect spot for a kill plot.  Within 100-125 yards of this bedding area was a small grassy opening, about 1/5 of an acre in size.  Not only was this spot close to the bedding area, it was also close to a large beaver pond that the deer travel around when heading to feed in the larger fields about 500 yards away.  Because of its proximity to the thick bedding area and the travel routes, we determined that this would be a spot that a mature buck would feel comfortable getting a snack at during light before he heads to the larger fields to feed for the night.

You can see the location of this Kill Plot is key.  Its close to the buck bedding, a thick area and in a perfect travel corridor heading to the larger fields at night.

Had this small opening been in another spot, I probably wouldn’t have given it a thought to put a kill plot in here.  I have a number of spots on this property that look like potential locations for a kill plot, but they are just not in the right area.  Doing your off season scouting and really mapping out your deer herd will go a long ways to help you pick the right spot for your kill plot.

Before we started on the Kill Plot, it was a grassy area that was going to need a lot of work.


Besides not picking the right location for a kill plot, another mistake a lot of hunters make is not preparing the area like they should.  I do all of the same preparations on these small plots as I do on the larger ones, including spraying, discing, liming and fertilizing.  This particular plot will be planted with a turnip, rape and lettuce mix.  I’m not a big fan of heading to the local hardware store and picking out a throw and grow type of plot seed and hoping for the best.  That little extra work to make sure your plot grows to its full potential and picking the right seed will pay huge dividends when the season rolls around.

We were fortunate enough to be able to get an ATV with a disc into this area.  Had we not been able to, we would have made the extra effort and used a rototiller.

Proper soil preperation is also key to growing a quality Kill Plot.  Liming and fertilizing are essential.

With the discing and liming done, this Kill Plot will be ready for one last light discing, planting and fertilizing in Mid-July.

You picked the spot, worked your tail off in 90-degree heat during the summer getting the kill plot ready, now its time to hunt it.  Like any hunting spot, how and when you hunt your kill plot is going to be key. 

During the early season, I will only hunt the kill plot during the evening.  I’m not looking to catch a buck on his way back to the bedding area, only trying to catch him on his way to the fields to feed for the night.  On this particular plot, there will be only one stand.  There won’t be options for different winds; it will only be hunted if all conditions are perfect.  Being this close to the bedding area, extreme caution is also going to be needed when getting in and out. 

During the rut, I will actually sit on a kill plot all day.  Not only are bucks going to be using this plot throughout fall, but does will too.  Again, with the location of the plot close to the bucks bedding area and them feeling secure in the plot, they will be checking for hot does during daylight hours. 

It's still early July, so if you’ve thought about giving a kill plot a try for this fall, I highly encourage it, there’s plenty of time.  They may be small in size and hide in the big food plots’ shadow, but their location gives them an edge big brother doesn’t have.

An Early Start to Shed Antler Season

by Scott Abbott 12. January 2011 11:20
Scott Abbott

I was finally able to put some time aside on Monday to get outside and put a couple miles on my boots for an early look for some sheds.  I am not currently running any cameras but have some buddies that are.  For the most part their cameras are telling us that the vast majority of bucks are still carrying their antlers.  But, since I filled my buck tag on October 30th, I have only been in the woods a couple times to help track deer for others.  I just wanted to get out for a walk. 

My few hours did not yield any shed antlers or very much for tracks in the snow but I did find a small buck skull.  Thinking back over the years, I can only think of one year where I found a shed antler before finding one or more buck skulls.  I find a disproportionate number of dead bucks to sheds in my area.  I am hoping for a solid shed season this winter, I just need to give them more time to drop their racks. 

Good luck to all this shed season!

A Lesson in Tracking: Finding a Wounded Elk

by Jessica Edd 15. October 2010 03:02
Jessica Edd

Although my elk hunting season started with archery equipment, it ended with a rifle. I realize that this is a sight dedicated to bowhunting enthusiasts, but I learned a very important lesson in hunting, no matter what weapon you choose to use. After spending 14 days in the field over the course of 6 weeks without seeing a single bull elk, just hearing their teasing bugles, I began wondering if my Area 99 tag would have to wait until the next draw to be filled. On the last day of our three day hunt we walked about two miles passed the wilderness boundary to an open park mixed with grasses, sagebrush, willows and aspens with small running creeks throughout the bottom.


Perfect setting for a nice bull elk.

It was a perfect scene after seeing a cow, calf and spike elk and I just knew there had to be a bull running around somewhere. Soon after, my friend, Joe, stopped me and said, "There’s a bull and it’s a nice one." That’s all I needed to hear. What I saw could have been different, however. It was certainly a bull, but he was quartering towards me and was soon on the move. I took my shot and knew it wasn’t a good one. This is when the painful task of tracking a wounded animal began. Anyone who has ever hunted elk knows they are some of the toughest animals to take down and sometimes they simply refuse to hit the ground. This was one of those elk. When we started our pursuit, we saw one single drop of blood and another about 20 yards away. I knew we were going to have a challenge in front of us and anyone who knows me knows how negative and impatient I can be. I immediately thought the worst and had to get a small cry session out of the way before we could continue. Thankfully Joe is single-handedly the most patient person I’ve ever met and while keeping his wits about him, was able to get things under control and we began looking for more sign of the bull together. The elk was bleeding very little, the snow from the day before had melted and the muddy ground was frozen from the low temperatures of the night before, so we had little to work with. After covering close to a half mile, winding through the trees, we totally lost any sign of him once again. It looked in the dirt like the bull had maybe hit the skids and stopped suddenly, or possibly laid down, turning up fresh dirt. We assumed he would move down hill as opposed to climbing over the rock hill to the east but after finding no further sign of him on the slopes below, we started over once again at the sight of the scuffled dirt. This was the fourth or fifth time we had circled back to the last known location of the bull and I was beginning to get desperate. Joe kept me calm all the while hiding his anxiety about the potential of not finding this bull and what it would do to my hunting in the future. We began heading up the rock slope to the east and I was stunned to see the bull running up the steep, slick rock using only three legs. It didn’t take long to realize why the bull was able to move so far, so quickly, without losing a lot of blood. As he ran, I was able to connect with two more shots before he lay down on the highest point he could find. When I saw he wasn’t getting up, I realized I wasn’t either. I had sat down and literally couldn’t get to my feet. Killing a good bull is something I’ve only ever dreamed of and after losing one 4 years ago, I was sick at the thoughts of possibly losing another one. No one likes to lose an animal, but I’ve yet to find someone who takes it as hard as I do. It’s not something I can let go of easily and knowing the will power of an elk was not helping calm my nerves throughout the ordeal. After seeing the downed elk, I could have lost it all over again, but I simply just had to sit down. Joe helped me to my feet and we were able to claim the trophy together as we worked equally as hard to get it.

After retrieving the 5x6 bull, I don't know who was more excited that it was over: me or him.

I suppose my entire purpose of writing this is to advise people to be patient when tracking an animal. You never know what direction they could take and getting frustrated simply will not be beneficial to your cause. Having a good hunting partner that is as stubborn and smart as someone like Joe is also helpful but is not always available. Had I been by myself I honestly feel I would not have found this bull and the ending to my story would be much different. We were able to end our hunting trip with pictures of success and a story I have learned a multitude of lessons from. Hopefully, anyone out there reading this, learns something too and is able to keep composure while tracking a kill and they too can bring their trophy home with them.


Though packing wasn't easy, it was a task I was grateful and thankful for.


Ontario's New Archery Non-Typical Whitetail Revealed!

by Bow Staff 18. March 2009 13:59
Bow Staff

Earlier this past month staff put together a brief story on an unbelievable whitetail buck that was said to be coming out of the Canadian providence of Ontario. With our limited resources and wild rumors that were popping up everywhere, it was difficult for us to discern the truth from the false. However, immediately following that brief story into what could become Ontario’s new non-typical archery record buck, the staff here was contacted by the hunter who wrote the story to begin with. Below you will find some of the very details that surround this amazing whitetail from up north. The staff and readers alike wish to thank you, Alex, for coming forth with this story and for graciously contacting us with the details. Thanks, and enjoy!


New Non-Typical whitetail buck taken in Ontario confirmed!


Hunting the border of where hardwoods abruptly met agricultural fields in the afternoon of November 20th, 2008, hunter Alex MacCulloch, was able to take this whitetail buck at a mere 20 yards! Although the hit was a solid one, Alex decided after a few hours of searching to back out and continue his search the following day. The next morning Alex had to nock a second arrow onto his Diamond, Black Ice, and put another shot into the nearly 250 pound whitetail. The buck expired shortly afterward. Alex reports that a doe had come by earlier and that his now legendary buck was likely following the scent trail of that doe.


The incredible whitetail has officially been panel scored after the mandatory 60 day drying period, and has come in at an astonishing 213 2/8 net non-typical, surpassing the previous non-typical archery whitetail record of 197 3/8 taken in 2001. Estimates by the taxidermist put this whitetail at an inconceivable 8 years of age! This begs the reader to wonder if this whitetail was actually no longer in his peak of antler production when he was shot. Could he have once been bigger!?


The hunting public will get to view this new archery non-typical buck this March at the “King of Bucks” outdoor show held at Bass Pro Shops in Toronto, Canada. wishes to congratulate Alex and his incredible taking of this whitetail, and again we thank you very much for your generosity in letting us use this story here at our website for other bowhunters to enjoy. Readers interested in more of Alex’s story can check out North American Whitetail magazine, they will be doing a more comprehensive article of this incredible buck sometime this year. 

30 Point Whitetail Buck Harvested

by Bow Staff 17. December 2008 14:09
Bow Staff

Huge 30 point whitetail buck taken! While rumors have spread far and wide throughout the internet over the past few seasons of this awesome whitetail, it remains somewhat of a mystery as what was it's real cause of demise!?  What state was it even taken in!? This incredible buck is easily one of the largest ever taken by a hunter and begs the question: Why such mystery!? If you had been the deer hunter, whether with gun or bow, would you have kept this animal and it's 30 points all to yourself!? Could you resist the temptation of letting everyone around you know the truth!?


Some of the mystery that surrounds this phenomenal whitetail buck is truly fascinating! From the stories of a small Amish boy who made a stalk on this buck through a standing cornfield in Wisconsin, to a small tavern owner outside St. Paul, Minnesota. A gun hunter from Georgia, an Amish man from Iowa, even your buddy from the neighboring county! It seems that everyone has claimed the prize of this 30 point buck with no real owner to be found.

The most truthful insight of this non-typical seems to stem from the 2006 Ohio archery season. According to this tale, on opening day of that year a young Amish hunter on the Ohio river around Adams county arrowed this buck. Shot with crossbow, the hunter, Jonathon Schmucker declined the photo as it is against his Amish custom. The massive non-typical buck was green scored at 304"! With a 24" inside spread! If this is the true story to this now legendary 30 point buck can you imagine not getting your picture taken with it?

And so it goes… The legend of the 30 point buck circulates amongst deer hunters everywhere! A new yarn to spin by our campfires, a new photo to see on our open forums. This huge.. 30 point.. whitetail buck.. may never hold the last name of it's maker- And it's legend will only escalate! But it truly has a tall tale to spin…doesn't it?

If you have any information on this amazing 30 point whitetail buck, please don't hesitate to send it our way.

Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

Another Big Illinois Bowkill

by John Mueller 9. December 2008 14:14
John Mueller

            Another big IL whitetail fell to a lucky archer this fall. This time a DNR agent named Mike Goetten killed a monster near Joliet. The massive buck is a basic 10 pointer with a double brow tine and a few stickers that gross scores 198 3/8” and nets 175 6/8 as a Typical Booner.


            Bob Schnettgoecke who owns Schnettgoecke’s Taxidermy from Grafton, IL is mounting the buck for Mike. Here are a few pics of the beast the day the buck was mounted. The mount isn’t finished yet, but I couldn’t resist posting a few pics of this beautiful buck.

The buck is almost the size of this cow elk.


The cape on this buck beautiful as well.


Here you can get an idea of his mass.

Bowhunting Pine Ridge Archery Style

by Todd Graf 12. November 2008 15:06
Todd Graf

I recently had the opportunity to spend 6 days with Jim Broberg, owner of Pine Ridge Archery, and several of his family members and friends at their home in Jo Daviess County, IL. All I can say is WOW, what a great time! Jim's wife prepared a outstanding meals for everyone after some long days on stand and I can't thank her enough for the hospitality. Marie is totally organized and the meals were fantastic - nobody went hungry, that's for sure.

The first three days of hunting were tough as the warm weather set in during the beginning of the rut. I decided after not seeing much activity those first few days that I would head home for awhile and wait until some colder weather to move in before heading back out.  Sure enough, after going home for 3 days colder weather finally moved in and I was back and ready for action.

Our bows and arrows were ready to perform, but were we??

Here is some of the great food prepared by Marie, we were fed very well!!

Ron and his son David Bakken talking deer hunting. David just got back from the Campbell Outdoor Challenge where Team Pine Ridge took 2nd place with the largest archery harvest ever filmed in the history of the event.  Watch for them on Versus starting in January 2009, you won't want to miss this! 

Brian Bychowski and Arnie getting back from a hunt talking about what was seen and already working on a plan where to hunt the next morning.

Jim and his daughter Kristen. Guys let me tell you -  this girl can hunt! I have to say I had a blast with her & Scott tracking the buck that I shot on the last night out. (I am saving that story for a few days - I will post soon)

I had to save the best for last - here is a photo of Scott's new outfit that he plans of wearing to pick up chicks! :) - Of course I am kidding.

Over the course of the week we managed to harvest two does and 1 buck despite the adverse weather conditions. We had many sightings of good bucks and some really close encoutners but just couldn't quite pull it together. All of us had a great time.  The rut is still in full swing here in Illinois so if you can get out in the woods now is the time! 

Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

Making a Mock Scrape.

by John Mueller 2. November 2008 14:58
John Mueller

Making a Mock Scrape 

Last Saturday I found a great spot for a mock Scrape. There is a long ridge that slopes down along a small creek on my property, creating a natural funnel. At the end of the ridge is a nice trail leading from my field that crosses the creek. I found a small branch that overhung the trail. This is very important. There must be a low overhanging branch to make the scrape under. The deer also leave scent on the branch with their forehead glands. As you can see in this picture I also broke the branch to add a little visual effect.


Notice the broken branch above the deer.



Then I brushed all of the leaves from a 3’ diameter circle under the branch with a stick. After removing the leaf litter I made some long scrapes in the dirt like a deer’s hooves would make. I like to make it look as real as possible. You can add some scent if you want, but I have found it is not necessary.


When I returned on Sunday to check the scrape a deer had worked it and added another a few feet away. I then went and got my trail camera and set it up on the new scrape. I had lots of action in just a few days. Right now is a great time to make mock scrapes. The bucks are really hitting the scrapes hard at this time. It’s a great way to see what bucks are in your area. Here are a few that worked my mock scrape.



This guy looks like an old bruiser.


Another big bodied visitor.


A good young buck working the scrape.

Notice that all of this activity is under the cover of darkness. That is why I usually don't hunt over scrapes. But it is a great way to get an inventory of your bucks. You can get your trail cameras and scents right here on in the shopping section if you need one.

Big Buck Rubs - Excitement turns to disappointment.

by Scott Abbott 29. October 2008 05:41
Scott Abbott

As I round the outside edge of the standing corn field en route to stand with intentions of checking my Moultrie Game Spy 4.0 camera that is located on the back side of a standing corn field I see a nice fresh rub.....  Looking closer, that rub is on the tree my game camera has been attached to for the past couple months!  I couldn't wait to see what laid down the nice rub on the stout tree.

                                                                                  He didn't tear it up, but it is a good rub none-the-less.

As I approached the camera I could see the screen was blank.  My first thought was, "I hope I got photos of the buck who did this before the batteries died!".  Of course no such luck.  The batteries had been dead for almost a week.  These moultries have excellent battery life, this encounter just didn't work out for me.  The biggest let down of the episode is that I struggled to get any decent bucks on cam at this property this year.  I was pretty excited to see the rub and who left it after my lack luster summer camera results here.

I plan to hunt this property tonight and will walk past this camera on my way to my stand set, I will be sure to have fresh batteries ; )


Here is the view from behind the camera to the corn.

Wounded Buck - Not How I Wanted to Start My Season!

by Todd Graf 9. October 2008 13:13
Todd Graf

I was on a roll until the dreadful bad shot took place. Yes, I will say it again - I made a bad shot. Of course not on purpose, it just one of those unfortunate things that happens in the bowhunting woods.

The season has been going quite well up until this point.  I have been seeing a lot of deer, shooting just about every day and most all of my gear has been working great. I was riding high and feeling good about my chances at harvesting a nice buck this fall.  That is until the other night! 

My evening hunt started off by checking with to confirm the wind was out of the East, and it was. I was pumped and I knew exactly where I was going to go.  Back in 2004 I harvested a nice 145 inch buck out of this very stand. In the past I have had some incredible luck hunting this spot early in the season because I can get right up on a big buck bedding area without them even knowing I'm there. This spot has it all – thick cover, beans, corn, hardwoods (acorns) & a pond all within a 100 yards of the buck’s bedroom.  Early in the season these big bucks don't like to venture far from their bedding areas during daylight, so if you want to get a shot at one you need to get in close.

My 2004 early season Illinois buck.

After arriving at my spot I was able to slip into my stand perfectly and without being detected.  My camera was ready to go and just like clockwork the does started to funnel out of the bedding area well before dark.  I watched them feed out in front of me for awhile, hoping a buck was nearby. 

With about 15 minutes of shooting light left I was out of good camera light so I started to pack everything up and call it a night.  As soon as I got the camera arm off the tree and was putting the camera away I look up to see a big buck headed my direction. I would guess him to be around 150 inches, if not a little bigger.  The buck had no idea I was there as he came down the trail towards my shooting lane.  I drew, aimed and shot. That’s when it felt like the world fell apart on me. I made a bad shot.  The buck ran out about 40 yards and stopped next to a small bush.  I watched him until it was too dark to see and he never moved from that spot.

After waiting an hour I snuck out and went to my truck to call Justin and Horseshoe Mazur to get them ready for the search and rescue mission that was going to take place in the morning.  We met the next morning and found the spot where I shot him.  Sure enough the arrow laid on the ground with about 7 inches broken off.  We found 1 patch of blood where the buck had stood motionless for so long, and then as a lot of  monster bucks seem to do – he vanished. We searched high and low through the woods, CRP fields, fencerows, and any other place we could think to look and came up with nothing.  In fact, we never found a single drop of blood after our initial findings. I believe the shot was high and in the shoulder blade which prevented me from getting good penetration or having a good trail to follow.

The unfortunate reality is that this can happen to any of us.  It only takes being off by and inch or two to make the difference between a quick, clean recovery and a lost animal. We all hope it doesn’t happen to us, but when it does it’s a super bad feeling. I can only hope the monster lives on for me or someone else to get another shot at him. I guess only time will tell.

As far as good news – I am going to go to Wisconsin this weekend and I’m going to give it hell!

Also, after Justin showed me a few pointers on building my own arrows I got my son helping me.  Its amazing how fast these little guys grow up and I make sure I spend as much time with my son as possible!

If you build your own arrows, or are interesting building your own arrows, check out our arrow building supplies here on  We carry just about everything you need for building your own arrows including several types of Arrow Wraps, Bohning Fletch-Tite glue, Bitzenburger Fletching Jigs, and much more.  It's really not that hard, and can be a good way to pass some time in the evenings and customize your arrows to your specifications.

I wish all you bowhunters good luck in the coming weeks as this is what we all live for.  The rut is coming up quicker than we think and  I hope to bear good news on my next post!

The Rage Broadhead - 2 Blade Hype

by Scott Abbott 29. September 2008 16:29
Scott Abbott

I finally gave in and got a pack of the Rage 2 blade broadheads....








You just cannot ignore the overwhelmingly positive reports on their performance... Hearing one person tout a product is one thing, but these heads have been the talk of the town for two years now.  I do not recall any negative press about these heads that was confirmed to anything more than brand bashing.

Huge entry and exit holes.... Massive blood trails..... Thirty yard track jobs.... 

What more could you ask for?  Nothing, that's why I picked up a pack and they shot beautifully!

You can pick up a pack here

What do you think?

Bowhunting: Week One Update

by John Mueller 23. September 2008 15:15
John Mueller

        I started out the 08 season by not hunting opening morning. We had over 4 inches of rain from Hurricane Ike the day before. I was worried about crossing some of the small ditches and creeks in the dark. I went to work instead and saved another day of vacation for the RUT. I got home after work on the 15th and showered and got dressed. I hunted a small lot in my subdivision. My subdivision is made up of 3+ acre lots with many small creeks and a good bit of woods. I got all settled in and let the woods get back to normal. About 5:30 I think it was I heard a crash to my right where the bedding area is. I see 2 deer come sailing out of there being chased by a black lab. So much for my opening day hunt.            

Hunt #2 on the 16th.  After work I climbed into my stand overlooking the food plot in my backyard. Just before 5:00 I see 3 deer making their way up the path to my food plot. I am stood up and ready. It looks like a big doe in the lead followed by 2 fawns. As the doe ducks under a limb entering the plot I draw my bow. That’s when the doe I hadn’t seen enter the plot blows the whole setup. She takes of into the woods blowing with every bound. Needless to say, that was the last deer sightings for hunt #2.           

Hunt #3 on the 19th.  I went back in the woods about 60 yards off of my food plot, figuring they wouldn’t be entering the plot early again. I was right, no deer sightings at all that night.

Hunt #4, Success!!I went out with my ASAT ground blind to hunt the edges of a corn field a couple miles from my house. I set it up in the last few rows of corn looking out over a grassy waterway. I know the deer travel thru here from hunting this farm over the years. Here is my camo job on the blind.

Ground Blind hunting can be a blast!

The deers view as she approached.

About 4:45 I see a doe and a fawn coming my direction in the waterway. They are getting closer and closer, every once in a while they look at the blind but continue on browsing. The doe stops in front of the blind broadside at 12 yards. I touch the trigger on my release and watch my luminock bury behind her shoulder. She runs down the hill and starts to stagger. I see her stumble into the brushy ditch and hear her crashing for a couple of seconds. She made it 60 yards downhill. The Rage did its job again in short order. Yes I do shoot my Rage thru the mesh in my blind. I put a rubber band around the blades and they do not open going thru the mesh. I tried it out quite a few times before I hunted with it. If you want try it out, you can order your Rage Broadheads right here on in the shopping section.

Ok so here is the trophy photo, I had to take it myself, no help around.


First Harvest of '08

New Lone Wolf Sit and Climb Seat Review

by Scott Abbott 19. September 2008 14:44
Scott Abbott

I must say, the padded seats that used to come with the Lone Wolf Sit and Climb are perhaps the most uncomfortable seat on a climbing tree stand I have sat in for years....  The thin nylon straps underneath the old seat dug into the back of my legs through the rather thin padding of the seat cushion in no time making an other wise pleasing sit, not so pleasurable.

Installed on all 2008 and newer Lone Wolf stands is their improved seat cushion design.  It is a HUGE step above the old offering.   The seat is firm rather than soft.  It is also acceptable for a lengthy sit, but still not as cush and comfortable as a Summit seat.



A head on view of the new seat.  As it looks, it is firm and not as soft as the Summit seats, but is not near as bulky or heavy as the Summit seats either. 



 A view looking down on the seat.


You can see how the nylon straps attach to the climbing portion of the stand.  You just thread the straps through the plastic buckles and slide them up or down to adjust the seat to your desired height.  If you like your seat to sit high, you may want to trim the excess straps length off as they are rather long.


The seats strap is nylon with a plastic buckle closure which I seem to like better than the bungee cord with metal hooks like the Summit replaceable seat.  The metal hooks would always catch on things and I would seem to make unwanted noise with them at times as well.

Final words, the seat is not as comfortable for an all day sit as the Summit seats are, but is lighter, less bulky and packs better.  It also lacks the metal hooks which I did not care for on the Summit seat I had on here previously.

To me it is give and take.... I think I am willing to give the extra comfort of the Summit seat for the benefits of this slimmer, less bulky design.

Huge Success - Reconyx Trail Cameras

by Todd Graf 15. September 2008 13:54
Todd Graf

Most of you know that I have been testing all the different trail cameras out this fall. With the recent launch of our goal was to test all units and we have been doing just that! On 8/17/2008 I put out a Reconyx with a 2 gig card and 6 Duracell batteries. I had the cameras setting on the 3 shot burst mode. This unit was a piece of cake to set-up, I never even used the manual once. I decided to check on the reconyx this last past weekend to see what the results were going to be and was I impressed!

3109 PHOTOS!!!! and I am not exaggerating.

The unit had about 5% battery life left, I could not believe it. I honestly thought for sure that the unit was being triggered by a limb, weed or the sun but when I got home all the photos were on the card. After reviewing all of the photos I feel like you get a lot of value out of this camera but the IR needs to reach out a little further.

Here are some of the images.

Small 2 1/2 Year old buck. Let him go and he will grow! I did not always say that - just for the record.


My only complaint - This unit needs more IR power.


Of course what would owning property be without trespassers. I need to put some tire spikes out.


Nice buck - any buck that makes it through the WI gun season deserves a medal.


IR filter must have switched over early and took this photo during the day.


I guess even a few more trespassers will keep you deer nocturnal.


I am not even going to make any comments, although I really want to.

Nice Beards!

Good day time photo example.

Now, here is how you know a camera is easy to program - My pops decides to open it and tries to see if he can view the photos. On this unit you can't. Do you think he told me that he did this - Of course not. But I did capture it and I did bust his chops. Thankfully the unit self arms itself and I never missed any shots.

If your intrested in trying this unit out we have them in stock here.


Octane One-Piece Quiver Review.

by Scott Abbott 8. September 2008 12:58
Scott Abbott

I have now had my Octane quiver for a couple months and have had time to really put some shots through it and test it out.

The quiver features a magnetic hood which has powerful rare earth magnets that automatically center your arrows inside the rubber housing.  This feature works great as your broadheads do not come in contact with anything dulling blades or prematurely deploying mechanical heads.  The quiver also comes with a foam insert which contains a corrosion inhibitor if one prefers a foam insert over the magnetic offering. 


The quick disconnect assembly requires no tools and features Teflon connections for silence.  A half turn is all it takes to remove the quiver or attach it. The mounting block offers 30 degrees of adjust ability and the quivers spine has more than six inches of vertical and horizontal adjustments to customize the feel of your setup.  No more nocks getting caked full of mud from the arrows protruding past the cams.


A simple pull of the arrow and it silently releases from the arrow gripper.  There is no loud clicking sound while removing or replacing an arrow from the quiver.   

The Octane one and two piece quiver will fit any bow with it's included adapters.  It is also available in an assortment of camo patterns to match your bow and other accessories.  This quiver can be purchased here on by clicking here


Trail Camera Review - Predator Evolution

by Todd Graf 7. September 2008 06:19
Todd Graf

Predator Evolution digital trail camera –First and foremost, please don’t get this post confused.  This review is on the Predator Evolution trail camera, not the new Predator Xtinction trail camera. We are still waiting to get a new unit in our hands for testing. I heard they are having some difficulties getting parts but they are on the way shortly.  As soon as we get a new unit and have a chance to try it out we will let you know.

The Pros:

The video mode is super cool on mineral licks and scrapes! This is probably one of my favorite features of this camera.  Still photos are great, but there's just something about watching a big buck working a scrape from close up that gets me excited.  Plus having multiple angles of the buck's rack can allow you to see all those little  stickers and kickers that are sometimes hiddenin standard photos.  The LCD touchscreen is cool for programming the unit and viewing photos in the field.  More than once I have found myself heading out for an evening's hunt only to stop and check my photos on the way in.  The Predator Evolution is a very compact trail camera which makes it easy to carry around the woods in a fanny pack. The unit comes with a screw-in bracket for attaching the camera to trees easily.  What makes this particular bracket nice is that by simply removing a pin you can take the camera off the tree to making changing batteries and reviewing photos easy, and simply replace the pin to secure the camera when you are done. It works well and is one of the better attaching mechanicsms that I have used.

The trigger speed on the Predator Evolution is also a huge plus.  To put it simply, it's probably the fastest trigger speed of any camera I've ever tested or owned.  I've gotten a ton of pictures of birds as they fly by the front of the camera, which is pretty impressive.

The Cons:

The battery life of this unit is not the best in the world, and replacing 10 AA batteries every few weeks can get expensive quick.  My advice would be to buy rechargeables as soon as possible.  You'll thank me later!  Also, the images are kind of small. I wish you got a little larger picture so you could blow them up if you got a cool shot.  Sometimes it can be difficult to see all the details of a buck's rack or body, especially if they are a little further away.  The last downside to this camera is the performance of the LCD screen in really cold weather.  Just like your cell phone if you leave it in your truck by accident, the LCD screen gets extremely sluggish when it's cold, which can make reviewing images tedious.  And when it's that cold, you don't have much patience for staying still too long!

This photo shows how good the day time photos can be.


Here I must have had the unit programmed improperly, as there was plenty of daylight but yet it still took an IR shot.

Not sure why these bucks bucks got freaked out, the unit is very quiet and has no flash.

The IR flash range on the Evolution is decent, but not great.  I am hoping in the new Xteniction unit's IR will reach out further.

Of course I save the best for last - All bowhunters and dee hunters in general  will like this - if you want to get some great videos, this unit can do it!

Check out some of these videos....

Struting Turkey Video

20 Plus deer in Field - Pretty cool. You know at least one good buck has to be out there somewhere!

Buck at Licking Branch


About the Authors

The staff is made up of "Average Joe" bowhunters from around the country who are serious about one thing - BOWHUNTING.  Keep up to date with them as they work year-round at persuing their passion and bring you the most up-to-date information on bowhunting gear and archery equipment.

» Click here to learn more about the Staff.

Editorial Disclaimer

The opinions expressed by Hunting Network LLC bloggers and by those members providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Hunting Network LLC. Hunting Network LLC is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by bloggers or forum participants. Hunting Network LLC is not responsible for any offense caused inadvertently through interpretation of grammar, punctuation or language.