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Food Plot Stand Location Tips

by Cody Altizer 16. May 2012 04:32
Cody Altizer

The art of taking a whitetail with archery tackle is a continually evolving sport.  As bowhunters, we are constantly on the lookout for strategies, gear and information that can tip the odds of arrowing a mature buck in our favor.  It’s hard to believe, in fact, that hunting from treestands was once thought of as unethical because it would make harvesting whitetails too easy.  We’ve come along away since then; however, many hunters still struggle to get within bow range of a mature whitetail buck during daytime hours.  In recent years hunting over, around and near food plots has become an increasingly popular hunting strategy.  If you’re looking for a new avenue in which to increase your chances of putting down a big bruiser buck this fall, read on for food plot hunting strategies and information!

It’s a common misconception that hunting over food plots is easy.  Some hunters have a very twisted idea that hunting over, or around food plots is no different than hunting over bait.  While that may be a great topic for a later article, I’ll preface this article by stating that hunting over food plots is not easy.  Food plots offer a variety of different hunting opportunities, so I’ll do my best to cover each option.

Food plot hunting is a great way to practice Quality Deer Management because you usually have ample opportunites to harvest adult does.

Retreat to the Timber

If you’ve incorporated food plots into your hunting strategy in the past, you probably quickly learned that the further away you get from the food plot, the better your chances of success can be.  This is true for both morning and afternoon hunts.  Setting up shop right on top of a food plot can be a great way to kill a deer, and it’s a topic I’ll touch on later in this article, but hunting back in the timber off the food plot keeps your very flexible as a bowhunter.  I’ll use my property as an example.

On my 260 acre hunting property in the mountains of Virginia, I have two destination food plots planted.  Each food plot is a little over an acre in size with one being planted in clover, and the other in alfalfa.  Both of these food plots are located in the center of my property strategically placed in areas that require deer to move past my stand sites when going to and from their bedding area.

By hunting off of these food plots, back in the timber, I am giving myself a better chance at seeing a mature buck during the daylight hours than if I were simply sitting right on the plot. Don’t let television shows and magazine articles fool you.  Mature bucks know what it takes to see another sun rise, and feeding in food plots during the day light is a sure fire way to ensure that doesn’t happen. As a result, mature bucks aren’t likely to visit food plots during the daytime.

For afternoon hunts during the early season, I like hanging my Lone Wolf stands about 50 yards or so back in the timber in order to catch bucks, or at least a mature doe, taking thier time getting to the food plot.   Temperatures in Virginia can vary greatly during early October, and if the mercury rises above 80 degrees, the deer aren’t likely to get to the food plot until after dusk.  I don’t want to get too close to the bedding area for an afternoon hunt, however, because I risk the chance of bumping a buck that may have gotten out of his bed earlier than normal.

I harvested this beautiful 127" 3 year old buck in late November, 2011.  I intercepted him on his way back to his bedding area after feeding in one of my clover food plots the night prior.

Many hunters don’t associate morning hunts with food plots.  While I certainly don’t advise sitting over a food plot during the morning (unless trail camera photos give you reason to), catching deer coming off the destination plots on their way back to bed can be a great big buck strategy.  In fact, my brother and I both used this method to shot our biggest bucks during the 2011 season.  

It’s been my experience that bucks will often times use the same trails when returning to their bed in the morning that they used to access the food plot the night prior.  This knowledge gave my brother and I the confidence to hang our stands on these trails and harvest both a 148” and 127” buck.  After field dressing the bucks we found each of their stomachs to be full of clover.  

My brother shot this 148", 15 point bruiser in early November.  He was set up on a trail that this buck used often to access our clover plot from his bedding area.

For morning hunts off of food plots, I like to be closer to bedding areas than if I was hunting the same food plot in the afternoon.  If you hunt to close to the food plot in the morning you run the risk of educating deer to your presence before the hunt even begins.  Also, you could climb your tree and get ready for the hunt well after the deer have exited the food plot and walked past your stand site.  Hunting close to bedding areas in the morning, with respect to food plots, eliminates both of those problems. 

Hunting OVER a Food Plot

As mentioned before, hunting directly over food plots can also prove to be a very successful option.  However, sitting directly over a food plot, or any food source for that matter, opens the door to several possible problems.  For one, I’ve always preferred bowhunting whitetails in transition areas; that is, in areas where they are moving, and less likely to look up and spot me in a tree.  When hunting over a food plot there are usually several eyes, ears and noses on the lookout for danger.  Also, when deer feed in a food plot, they usually feed well into the night; making getting down from stand undetected a very real concern.  

All that being said, sitting on a food plot for an afternoon deer hunt can be an effective strategy, and it’s one I utilize often.  There are two important factors to keep in mind, though, to ensure your hunt is as efficient as possible.  For starters, as is the case with all things deer hunting, pay special attention to the wind direction, and if your hunting in hilly country, the thermals as well.  There are few things as painful as sitting in a treestand looking over an empty food plot because the deer winded you.  

Obviously, you don’t want to hunt with a wind that blows your scent back into the timber in the direction in which your deer are traveling.  However, a wind that blows your scent directly out in the food plot isn’t ideal either.  If the deer that feed in your food plot are anything like mine, they prefer a certain area of the plot.  This is usually an inside corner.  A strategically placed Stealth Cam can reveal which inside corner your deer prefer, and you can hang your stands according.  Hunting inside corners is also beneficial because you can hunt cross winds that will keep you from being smelled by the deer.  

Be sure to pay attention to wind direction when hunting around food plots.  Deer are usually on high alert just prior to entering a food plot, so keep this in mind when hanging stands.

If possible, layout your food plot locations with wind direction in mind, and if possible, construct multiple food plots to accommodate different wind directions.  On my property, my two primary hunting plots are laid out to accommodate an east wind, and a west wind for afternoon hunts.  During the deer season, it’s very rare for my property to receive a due north or south wind, so if the forecast is calling for a west wind, I have a stand hung on a clover food plot specifically for that wind.  However, if a tricky east wind blows in, I have a Lone Wolf sitting over an alfalfa field.  

Find an Exit

The single most important factor that can make or break your hunt when sitting over a food plot is your entry and exit route.  Obviously, you don’t want to bump the deer on your way to the stand, but an effective exit strategy takes top priority.  If you don’t harvest a deer during an afternoon sit, chances are there will still be deer feeding in the field when it’s time to get down.

There are a few simple solutions to this problem.  If you’re hunting with a partner, you could have he or she pick you up with their ATV or truck.  Deer are usually very tolerable of a motorized vehicle, and being pushed out of a food plot by one isn’t a big deal.  I’ve also had a lot of success with “blowing” at a deer.  That is, mimicking the alarming sound a deer makes when it senses danger.  I usually do this after dark when it would be harder for a deer to pinpoint my location.  I can remember specific instances when I have blow a family group of does out of a food plot, only to have them return the next afternoon relaxed, calm and unaware of my presence.   I have also heard of hunters mimicking a coyote yelp or scream.  I’ve never done this and don’t question its effectiveness, convincing the deer that a coyote was on a field edge watching them is not a situation I’d like to mirror. 

Food plot hunting isn't as easy as it sounds, but if you follow the tips and information provided in this article then you could very well walk up to your biggest buck ever this fall when hunting food plots!

 

Not as Easy as it Sounds

Hunting over food plots sounds like an easy hunt, right?  The deer walk aimlessly out in a lush clover field, and you casually draw your bow back and send a Carbon Express right through the lungs.  Heck, if you’re lucky, another deer might make the same mistake.  While that may be true for the fortunate hunters who get to relive their hunts on national television, that isn’t the case for the most.  In fact, I sat overlooking a food plot roughly 10 hunts this past year and I only drew back once.  I couldn’t catch a break, nor could I figure out why, but I think it has something to do with me being a bad bowhunter.  

Conclusion

Food plot hunting is one of my favorite hunting strategies.  I usually see a lot of deer, and watching them interact with one another in a food source I created is a very rewarding feeling.  However, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t expect to shoot a deer each time I hunted over or around a food plot.  Their ability to concentrate deer to a certain area makes for awesome bowhunting opportunities.  If you’ve struggled to find success hunting around food plots in the past, then hopefully the above article provided you with some insight that can help you put down a food plot buck this fall!

ATA Show Day 2 Live Update

by Cody Altizer 11. January 2012 06:53
Cody Altizer

Day 2 of the 2012 ATA Show is well underway here in Columbus, OH and I can say with full confidence two things: there are some seriously cool products hitting the shelves for 2012 and my legs are painfully heavy and sore.  But, what the heck, it’s all worth it, because it’s all fun!  I’ve been busy running around gathering information for future posts and articles, e-mailing photos back to the Bowhunting.com headquarters, and the minute this blog is posted I’ll be back on the show room floor, so I hope you enjoy the photographs!

New for 2012 is the Lone Wolf Wide "Flip-Top" Climber Combo.  I just recently purchased a Lone Wolf Sit and Climb for this past hunting season and was thrilled with it, so I am excited about possibly using this stand this fall.  Where I hunt in Western Virginia, it's predominantly big woods mountains with a lot of mature pole timber.  Often times, hunting from a climber is my best bet at getting high enough to avoid the wary eyes of the whitetail.  The Flip Top Climber Combo functions like a climber in every regard except the seat, which looks like it belongs on a hang on.  This feature gives hunters more room to position themselves on the platform for a shot.

Yesterday I was drooling over a world record Mule Deer.  Today, a world record moose caught my eye.  What a giant, beautiful animal!  Who wants to plan a mule deer / moose combo hunt with me?!

Pine Ridge Archery is offering several accessories in custom colors allowing hunters to completely trick out their bow in 2012.  There are numerous possibilities and options that allow you to make your bow look truly unique.  Pine Ridge Archery really hit a home run with this line of products.

I've always enjoyed the Rocket Broadheads commercial on televisions, you know, the one with the giant chainsaw lined with Rocket Broadheads.  It's visually appeaking and I think it does a fantastic job of selling the effectiveness of Rocket Broadheads.  Nevertheless, when I saw the real life version of the vicous machine, I had to take a photo.

I find myself faced with quite the dilemma: shoot the new NAP Armor Rest or the New Apache Carbon?  I've shot the Apache for two years now and am excited about this new lightweight, carbon design (4 ounces is a featherweight!) but the new Armor Rest looks pretty cool as well!  Help!  Someone decide for me!

Bowhunting.com is well represented both at the NAP booth...

...as well as the Stealth Cam / Epic Action Cam booth!

I'll leave you with an image I found pretty funny.  I happened by The Block Target Booth while filming John Dudley doing a commercial spot.  It sounded like a pretty simply commercial, but John kept repeating his name over and over again (multiple takes to get the perfect shot, of course), but I just couldn't help but laugh and feel sorry for him.  Here he was, standing in front of a camera, with lights beating on his face, and he was asked to repeate his name over and over while a substantial crowd simply watched.  Talk about awkward!

The show is still going strong and out staff guys are hard at work getting photos and information to releases on the site as quickly as possible so you can be the first to hear and read about the new products for 2012.  Check back often because you don't want to miss out on the upcoming updates and photos!

Day One Update from the 2012 ATA Show

by Cody Altizer 10. January 2012 07:16
Cody Altizer

For me personally, there are a handful of exciting days that I look forward to every year as a bowhunter.  Obviously, opening day is one of those days.  The first cold snap that triggers daytime buck movement coinciding with rubs and scrapes appearing in the woods is another.  However, there is one day that I am very privileged and excited to experience every year, and that is the first day of the annual ATA trade show.

A shot of the hundreds of bowhunters at the Outtech party last night at the 2012 ATA Show.

Josh Kelley performing at the 2012 Outtech Party!

The show technically kicked off last night with the Outtech party.  Hundreds of industry dealers, writers, television personalities and bowhunting insiders flooded the convention center to enjoy some sneak peeks at new products, a live performance by country music star Josh Kelley, and of course to watch the Alabama Crimson Tide roll the LSU Tigers in the BCS National Championship game.  It was a perfect way to kick off an exciting week!

Let the festivities begin!

The floor rooms opened this morning at 8:30 and as soon as the gates opened, it didn’t take long for the industry business to begin taking place on the show room floor.  It’s pretty exciting to walk the floor and look left and right see the business being conducted.  You could feel the energy as business was being conducted left and right, new products were being revealed and hunting celebrities smiled candidly for photos and autographs.  

Perhaps what I look forward to most about the ATA Show is catching up and socializing with my hunting buddies that I may only see once or twice a year.  I know, I know I should probably be working and not socializing but hey, swapping hunting stories is just plain fun.  I was fortunate enough to catch up and chat with my pal Jason McKee of New Archery Products and Frank Archey of Lone Wolf Portable Treestands.  It’s always good to catch up and listen to other hunter’s success stories.  

I've always wanted to hunt mule deer and seeing this giant mule deer buck has only made me want to go even more.  Only at ATA!

In between working and socializing, I have been able to locate a couple of products that I especially excited about for the 2012 season.  The first was the 20 feet climbing ladder system from Lone Wolf Portable Treestands.  I’m a big fan of Lone Wolf’s climbing sticks, and this new ladder system looks fantastic.  The ladder stick system will get you 16 feet in the air in no time.  I spoke with Lone Wolf President Jared Schlipf about them and he assured me you could safely (with the aid of a lineman’s belt, of course) attach the ladder system to the tree, strap it down and be safely in your stand in 5 minutes.  This is a great product for the mobile hunter.  

Lone Wolf President Jare Schlipf in the middle of an interview discussing the new innovative Ladder Stick System.

I was also intrigued by NAP’s new Armor Rest full capture drop-away rest.  This little 5 oz. piece of engineering genius has a full rubber Armorshield on the body of the rest that stays whisper quiet in operation.  Titanium arms mean less weight, but added strength.  This rest promises full containment with 100% fletching clearance at any angle.  You’ll definitely want to check out this new rest from NAP!

New for 2012 the NAP Armor Rest.  If you're into full-containment drop away rests, then this is the rest for you.

The 2012 ATA Show is still very young, so be sure to keep checking the blogs to be the first to know about the cool new products for 2012.  

 

Persistence Pays - Big Buck Down in Virginia

by Cody Altizer 5. December 2011 17:24
Cody Altizer

Disclaimer: Okay, let me preface this blog by stating that, like my previous blog, this blog is dedicated to another gun kill.  Yes, obviously this is a bowhunting website, but I (and many of our other staff members as well) equally enjoy taking to the woods every fall with rifle and/or muzzleloader.  After all, we are all hunters and we must support one another, regardless of choice of weapon.  Disclaimer over, read on for the actual blog!

Quite frankly, this has been one of the slowest, most frustrating hunting seasons I have ever been a part of.  I went into this season more prepared and more excited than I had ever gone into a previous season.  Food plots were prepped and planted in the spring and maintained throughout the summer.  Stands were hung during the dog days of summer, and my Mathews was shooting darts.  I was ready to rock n’ roll! 

Here is one of literally hundreds of photos I got of High n' Tight after the season last year.  He certainly wasn't shy as a 2 year old, but it's funny how a whitetail wises up between their second and third birthday.  During the spring, summer and fall, he became a ghost.

I had trail camera photos of two different bucks I was going to be on the lookout for.  The first was a 4 year old buck we had decided to call Clyde.  He was a mainframe 10, and the best we could tell from trail camera photos he would score close to 150 inches.  The second buck, and quite honestly, the buck I thought I would have the best chance at shooting, was a buck nicknamed High n’ Tight.  High n’ Tight was a frequent visitor to our food plots last winter as a 2 year old, and I was excited about hunting him this season as a 3 year old.  His brow tines were high and tight (hence the nickname) and we had over 100 photos of him feeding in our food plots.  He was so visible in our food plots and on trails to and from bedding areas, that I was sure I would get a crack at him early this season.

High n' Tight on his way back to bed in early February.  I searched for hours on end for his sheds, but to no avail.

Unfortunately, as you may have read here, my season got off to a rocky start immediately.  I regrouped after my opening day misfortune, and hunted relatively hard the entire month of October.  As you may have read in my previous blog, I hunted mostly afternoons near food sources as to not pressure a certain buck I had my eyes on.  As the month of October neared its end and November quickly approaching, I was excited about the thought of hunting rutting whitetails.   I had plenty of food available on the property; the deer I would be hunting hadn’t been pressured, and rubs and scrapes and were popping up over night on trails leading to and from bedding areas.  My goal this season was to hunt exclusively with my bow.  I knew it would be tempting to swap the bow for my muzzleloader or rifle once their respective seasons came in, but I wanted, no, needed, to harvest a buck with my this year.  It would be fantastic to harvest a 3 year old buck with my bow in the mountains I hunt, and I was going to be relentless in my pursuit of that goal.

By the time November rolled around, I was a lot like the bucks that were maxed out on testosterone at the same time, it was go time!  Clyde had been captured several times on trail camera, but High n’ Tight was nowhere to be found.  He was so visible during the winter, I simply couldn’t believe he just up and vanished.  Was he poached during the summer?  Did he establish a new home range?  Had Clyde scared him completely out of the state of Virginia?  I was pretty disappointed that the buck I thought I had the best chance of shooting had completely disappeared.

High n' Tight with his older brother, Clyde in January of this year.  I actually didn't know it was Clyde until my brother shot him in early November.  A small cut in his left ear let me know that it was in fact him in this photo.

Nevertheless, on November 1st I checked my Stealth Cam that was overlooking one of my mock scrapes on a field edge, and it revealed Clyde had visited just two days prior.  The next day I took down my Lone Wolf Assault and sticks, packed it on my back and moved it a half mile east to the location of the mock scrape.  The next morning I was 15 yards from that mock scrape and ready to arrow Clyde at 15 yards.  That morning was an exciting morning to be on stand to say the least.  I didn’t see Clyde, but I did see a handful of does and had a close encounter with another one of my target bucks, a tall racked 8 pointer I call Mr. Two Bits.  I have quite a bit of history with Mr. Two Bits, including still photos and video footage of him in velvet in July, and a handful of trail camera photos of him throughout September and October.  He walked out past me at 60 yards, but he busted me as I was trying to get my camera situated and get some footage of him.  So close!  I got down that morning optimistic about what the rest of the month would hold, but I was oblivious to the tough hunting I was about to endure.

In the following weeks I got served a huge dose of bowhunting reality.  The weather for bowhunting the rut was simply terrible.  The following weather pattern repeated itself for almost the entire month: three days of rain, a day of high winds, and then warming temperatures until the next storm system blew in bringing more rain.  It was incredibly frustrating, but I kept hunting hard.  In fact, I was hunting harder than ever.  My Lone Wolf Sit and Climb and I got to be exceptionally close, and I took down and moved my Lone Wolf Assault at least 6 times during a span of 10 days when I thought the bucks would be rutting the hardest.  My efforts were futile.  The terrible weather partnered with a full moon in mid-November and forced me to go deer less on more hunts that I would care to admit.  My brother shot Clyde on November the 12th with his muzzleloader, but that was the only buck activity we experienced the first couple weeks of November.  Exhausted, I took a handful of days off from hunting to get a change of scenery, recharge my batteries and get re-focused for the second half of the month.

My Mathews Z7 Xtreme and Lone Wolf Assault and Sticks at the ready.  I logged a lot of stand time with this combo during October and November.

My first hunt after my vacation from hunting was a lot like the first two weeks of November.  Dumping rains kept me in bed the morning of November 17th, and I elected to get in my stand around noon to see if I could catch any bucks up on their feet before the high winds moved.  At 12:45 I heard a deer running behind me to the east and quickly threw up my Leupold Acadia’s to see what causing the commotion.  Shooter buck!  I counted 10 points, good tine length and estimated the buck to score around 130 inches.  Unfortunately, he was downwind of me and a little jittery with the blustery winds.  I wanted so badly to throw him a couple of contact grunts to gauge his interest and aggressiveness, but thought better of it.  Being downwind, he would pick me off in a heartbeat.  Helpless, I spent the better part of 5 minutes glassing him out through my binoculars.  I saw a good right main beam, and 4 tall tines shooting into the air.  He was a great buck, but I had to watch him turn around and trot off in the direction from which he came.  I’m not sure if he winded me, or was more interested in some does.  Nevertheless, I settled back in and enjoyed another deerless afternoon. 

I checked a trail camera on the way out that afternoon and was excited to find a lot of good deer, including a couple shooters moving through the area.  I keep a running file of all the bucks I have gotten on trail camera over the years, and as I copied the new entries into the “Bucks” file, I couldn’t help but notice High n’ Tight.  I had honestly forgotten about him because Clyde and Mr. Two Bits had stolen my attention the majority of the season.  As I sifted through the 50 photos that I kept of him, I couldn’t help but smile.  He was quite the clueless little two year old, who seemed to enjoy having his picture taken.  He was never far from the camera and offered several good looks of his rack, almost as if to say, “Look at me, Cody!  Just think of how big I will be next year!”  I laughed to myself and shut off the computer.

This photo was snapped after I hung my Lone Wolf in some of the nastiest cover on our property.  Warm temperatures and a full moon forced me to get right in the deer's bedroom.

My luck over the next week never improved.  One hunt, I forgot my binoculars.  The next, my safety harness.  Yes, my safety harness.  Don’t worry, I dropped my gear and made the long walk back to camp and put it on before returning to my stand.  I simply couldn’t catch a break.  The bad weather ensued, but I kept pushing on.  I continued to move my stands trying to get closer to the bucks I was chasing.  That plan, like my others, failed me.  There were many instances where I would move my stand from location “a’ to location “b” only to have deer walking right by the tree where my stand was hung at location “a.”  It got quite comical at times, but I couldn’t convince myself that I wasn’t going to catch a break sooner or later.  Fortunately, it proved to be sooner.

The morning of November 26th found me perched in one of my favorite stands.  In fact, it was in this stand that I shot my first deer ever when I was 6 years old.  It was creatively called, “Cody’s Stand” and is a great stand to not only see deer from, but watch the woods wake up as the sun rises.  About 8:00 the sun is high enough in the sky to just barely peak over the mountain to the South of me, and you can literally watch the sun rays shoot through the tall pines in front of the stand.  The frost dances in the forest openings, and I have never seen a deer look so pretty in the sun when they cross a trail 60 yards in front of my stand.  It's poetic.

Like always, I was in my stand over an hour before first light.  With plenty of time to spare, I tightened up my safety harness (I remembered it this time) and took a nice nap.  Getting up at 4:15 in the morning got harder and harder to do with each passing day during November, and these naps weren’t uncommon.  I have an incredible internal clock, and wanted to sleep not a minute past 6:30.  Sure enough, I woke up, checked my watch and it read 6:28.  I was alive, refreshed and ready to hunt!

Sweet November had finally arrived!  Unfortunately, the bucks didn't get the memo until later in the month.

It was a beautiful morning.  It was cold, calm and clear.  The sun had yet to rise, but there was enough light to make out my surroundings.  I was situated halfway between 1 acre of clover, 1 acre of turnips and a known buck bedding area.  The wind was out of the South.  I was expecting to see deer working their way in front of me walking East to West (left to right) back to bed after feeding in the food plots the previous night.  Right at 7:00 am I saw a flicker of movement about 100 yards to my south east.  There is a painfully annoying autumn olive bush at that exact location that always looks like a deer moving with the breeze blows, so I assumed that was what caused my heart to skip a beat.  Wait a minute, why is that autumn olive bush walking?  Bam, it’s a deer.  Up go my Leupold’s and I see a good buck coming my way.  He stops and I have just a couple seconds to determine he has a great rack but wasn’t a big bodied deer.  Just like that, he had disappeared into the timber and I lost him.  He was coming from my turnip food plot, and I was confident he would walk the trail 60 yards right in front of my stand, but I had a decision to make.  Is he a shooter?  He had a beautiful set of antlers, but wasn’t a big bodied deer.  I had to make up my mind.  I decided, “If he takes this trail right in front of my stand, I am taking this deer!”

There was only one problem; I still couldn’t find him in the thick timber!  I was looking frantically with my binoculars, but just couldn’t find him.  Finally, I wised up and let my ears find him for me.  I heard consistent footsteps and my eyes trusted my ears and I spotted him walking on the trail that would take him right in front of my stand.  He was in a hurry to get back to his bed, so I quickly grabbed my rifle, waited for him to walk into my shooting lane and stopped him with a soft grunt.  He threw his head up in my direction, and I settled the crosshairs right behind his shoulder.  My rifle rang out, and I saw him buckle up hard before racing straight down below my stand.  I knew he was hit, and hit hard, so I obviously started talking to myself, “That buck is hit hard, that buck is hit hard!”  I had just lost sight of him when I thought I had heard and saw him fall, but I just couldn’t tell.  I welcomed the shakes and adrenaline rush, removed my lucky orange beanie, stuffed it in my pocket, and took a deep breath.  

I texted my brother and dad saying, “Just took a shot on a good buck.  Think I made a good hit, didn’t see him go down.”  My brother responded, “Can I come up?!”  I replied, “Yes, but take your time.  I held right on the heart and he buckled up pretty good, just didn’t see him go down.”  I sent that text at 7:21, no more than 20 minutes later my brother was underneath my stand.  He was just as excited as I was.   

Persistence pays! I was finally able to catch up with High n' Tight the morning of November 25th.

I knew exactly where he was standing, so my brother and I went to recover my blood.  There was blood all over the place at the point of impact.  I’m surprised I didn’t break my brother’s hand when I gave him a fist pound and blurted, “That’s what I am talking about!”  He now calls me Stan Potts, go figure. 

I saw High n' Tight's right main beam a little over a week prior to me taking him.  Having history with a buck you eventually end up harvesting is a sweet feeling!

We took our time following the trail, and as I peaked up over the small hill where I last saw him, there he lay.  I saw a gorgeous right main beam with 4 tall tines, the same buck that slipped past me just a week before!  I walked up to him, lifted his head, looked him over in admiration and was surprised yet again, it was High n’ Tight!  The tall, sharp brow tines gave him away.  I immediately looked up at my brother, who was filming the recovery, and just stared at him blankly.  The buck that I thought I had the best chance at shooting this year, had evaded all 6 of my trail cameras, managed to hide from me all season despite my best efforts and nearly snuck by me again.  

Meet High n' Tight, my biggest buck to date, and the deer I am most proud of!

My dad got down out of his stand early, met my brother and in the frosty timber where High n’ Tight fell, and we celebrated like only a father/son hunting team can.  My brother graciously took a couple hundred photos of me and High n’ Tight, and we taped him out at 126 7/8”, my biggest buck to date, and quite frankly the buck I am most proud of.  I hunt harder than the majority of the guys I know.  The amount of time and effort I spend in preparation, hanging stands, trimming lanes, moving stands, mock scraping, food plotting, etc. is mind boggling, and it would have been easy for me to give in after the rough start to the season I endured and chalk it up to bad luck, but I stayed persistent, kept my nose to the grind stone just waiting for something good to happen, and it did.  I’m still amazed at the irony with High n’ Tight.  I had ran 6 trail cameras all summer and fall, hunted countless stands, moved those stands and moved them again trying to find this guy.  All the while, he was feeding in the same food plot the night before I shot him that he was so visible in from January to March.  

After countless hours of preparation, scouting and time in the stand, giving Thanks is the most appropriate way to honor and give respect to the animal.

This buck, and this hunting season really, also means a lot to me on an emotion level.  My brother, and hunting partner, Damin, will be getting married next spring, and while we’ll still get hunt with each other, our brotherly relationship will take a back seat to him starting a family, as it should.  My brother was right alongside me the majority of this hunting season, which to us began back in January, the day the 2010 season went out.  We shed hunted together, planted the food plots together, hung and moved stands together and, like the previous 20 years of our lives, we were inseparable.  It made for a special season that we each got to be in the woods when the other shot the biggest buck of his life.  To add to the irony, High n’ Tight and Clyde actually grouped up and ran together after the 2010 season.  Where there was one, there was the other.  In the food plots, traveling on trails, they trusted each other. They were, ironically, inseparable.  Just like my brother and I.  Who would have thought that two lucky brothers would be so fortunate to harvest such awesome whitetails that were, in a very real sense, brothers as well?

The Rut Finally Comes To Illinois

by Justin Zarr 22. November 2011 15:16
Justin Zarr

First off, let me start by saying I wasn't complaining in my last Blog entry. By all accounts, had my season ended on the evening I wrote that very entry I would have been extremely pleased with the outcome. My Blog was more or less expressing my frustrations that the amount of rutting activity I had seen this year was very sub-par compared to years in the past. For me, the thrill of those classic rut hunts is really what defines my season. The cold mornings with bucks grunting and chasing does, seeing deer on a flat-out run across a field during the middle of the day, the tales of hunters having multiple big buck encounters in a single sit. Those are the things that had been lacking from my season so far.

That brings us to this past weekend here in Northern Illinois. With gun season open across much of the state many bowhunters had their archery gear put away temporarily. However, being a resident of the Chicago suburbs where many of our counties are bow-only, I was fortunate enough to be able to take to the woods with my Mathews in hand. Saturday morning found me perched in a tree where I shot a nice buck last fall, hoping for a November repeat. This time I had good friend, and cameraman, Mike Willand with me.

Over the course of the morning Mike and I saw a total of 8 deer, including two small bucks who were clearly out on the prowl looking for does. Now, I know this doesn't seem very substantial to a lot of people but keep in mind there's times when I don't see 8 deer in a MONTH of hunting on this farm. To see 8 in one sit is pretty incredible, and really helped fuel me for the rest of the weekend.

That same morning the coyotes were also out and about as we saw two of them, both within bow range of our stand. Fortunately for the 2nd coyote, my shooting was a bit off as he came by at 30 yards and I launched an arrow about an inch over his furry back.


My shot was a touch high as this big Illinois 'yote ducked my arrow and escaped unscathed.  These little buggers sure do move quick!

Saturday afternoon I was back in the same stand, this time self-filming as Mike had prior committments. Although I only saw one nice 2 1/2 year old that came by and offered a 10 yard shot, I heard the sounds of a good buck chasing a doe in the timber to my West. Branches cracking, leaves crunching, a buck grunting, roaring and snort-wheezing. Now THIS is what I was looking for! The buck and doe never showed themselves before darkness came, but I knew for a fact I had to get back in there the next morning.  If that does was hot there's bound to be one, if not several, good bucks competing for the right to breed her.


This busted up 2 1/2 year old paid me a visit on Saturday afternoon.  He worked a licking branch and urinated on his hocks just 7 yards from the base of my tree.

4:15 came awful early on Sunday morning, and despite my body telling me to stay in my nice warm bed, I got up and headed out. Knowing it could be my last good morning hunt before the rut was done for the year I was determined to get in a stand before daylight.

As the sun just began to peak over the horizon I spotted my first deer of the day, a young spike buck, making his way behind my stand. About an hour later I heard a deep grunt in the field behind me and turned around to see a doe flying across the field at break-neck speed. I knew a buck wasn't far away and kept my eyes peeled. A minute later I spotted the source of the grunt, a nice buck feeding in the cut corn. After looking him over with my binoculars for a minute or two I determined he was a shootable deer and tried to formulate a game plan for how I was going to get a shot at him. He was 100 yards away from me and straight down wind. Not a good sitaution.

The first thing I did was take out the bottle of Tink's 69 from my backpack and spray some into the air. Not only did I want him to get a whiff of doe estrus to try and attract him, but I wanted to cover up my scent and prevent him from spooking. During the peak of the rut a buck's desire to breed will often cause him to make mistakes he wouldn't normally make, and I was hoping that today this would be the case. So after a minute or two of letting the scent disperse, I broke out the grunt call and let out a series of short buck grunts. The minute he picked his head up and looked my direction I immediately stopped calling and grabbed my bow.

On queue the buck came in on a string, straight down the path I had walked into my stand that morning. With the camera rolling at my side the buck hung up at 18 yards and would not come a single step closer. With a steady North wind at 10 mph blowing both my scent and the Tink's straight into his nostrils the buck didn't know what to do. He looked and looked and looked some more, several times looking right up in the tree at me. I thought for sure I was busted, but thanks to my Lost Camo he never spotted me.

Eventually the buck turned and began to circle around my stand at about 22 yards. Unfortunately this particular piece of woods is extremely thick and wasn't trimmed out quite as well as it should have been so I never got a good shot opportunity at the buck. I had one very small window of opportunity, but when I grunted to stop him he took two steps before stopping and was directly behind a tree, effectively blocking any shot I had. After a second the buck continued on his way, out of bow range and eventually out of sight.


After I grunted in an attempt to stop this buck, he took two more steps before pausing behind some trees where I couldn't get a shot at him.

At this point I couldn't believe it! I had a shooter buck within 20 yards for well over 5 minutes and could never get a shot at him. How does that happen? So as I'm feeling sorry for myself, I do a quick interview and talk about what just happened before sending a text to Mike to let him know what's going on. Just as I put my phone away I hear something and look up to see the buck headed back my direction. So I quickly grab the camera, turn it on and get it positioned, grab my bow and get ready.

The buck steps out in the wide open at 30 yards when I grunt to stop him, settle my pin, and touch off the shot. With a "SMACK" that echoed throughout the woods the big bodied whitetail turned and ran only 5 yards before stopping and looking back to see what just happened, acting like nothing was wrong.  I could see my arrow protruding from his side with what looked like only 2-3 inches of penetration and my heart sank. A direct hit to the shoulder, forward and low, is rarely a good sign.


My buck just milliseconds before the arrow impacted him directly in the shoulder.

Over the course of the next 20 minutes I watched the buck slowly hobble his way through the woods before finally losing sight of him. Although I could see his tail twitching rapidly and see him stagger from time to time, I was very unsure of the hit and decided to back out.  An hour later I climbed down from my Lone Wolf stand and slowly made my way back to the truck. After talking it over with Mike we decided to wait 4-5 hours just to be safe before returning.  In my experience is always better to wait it on on a questionable hit, regardless of whether or not it's too far forward, or too far back.  The way this buck was acting I had a feeling he wouldn't travel far before laying down, and I hoped to find him nearby upon our return.


Not the type of reaction we all hope for after shooting a nice buck.  Making a questionable shot on a deer, buck or doe, leaves a sick pit in the stomach of any bowhunter.

Over 5 hours later at 1 pm we returned to the woods and immediately found good blood. In fact, the blood trail was much better than I thought it was going to be, which was encouraging. Roughly 30 yards up the trail we found my busted Gold Tip arrow and confirmed that penetration was only around 4 inches. My optimism faded a bit. However, as we continued on the blood trail was very easy to follow and at times very good. Then, right where I had last seen him, I spotted rack sticking up over a fallen log. My buck was down!


Finding blood like this is always an ecouraging sign when trailing a wounded deer.


Moments after spotting my buck laying just feet from where I last saw him hours earlier.  What a relief!

The feeling of relief was like a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders. There is nothing worse in the deer hunting woods than shooting and not recovering an animal, and I was honestly sick to my stomach thinking about not finding this deer. Knowing that he went down within 100 yards from the shot is a great feeling.

As it turns out, I believe that I may have hit one of the major veins or arteries that runs up the deer's neck, because on inspection my arrow never actually penetrated the chest cavity. The lack of penetration was caused because I did hit the front shoulder, but luckily I had enough power behind my arrow to push in far enough to get the job done. I give all the credit to the NAP Hellrazor broadhead I was shooting. In this particular case the solid one-piece stainless steel broadhead was the difference between my success and failure on this hunt. Proving yet again why I favor a durable, tough-as-nails fixed blade head over a massive expandable head any day of the week.


After not having any good bucks on trail camera all summer and fall, it was nice to catch up with this guy.  A solid 3 1/2 year old buck, he may not score much but he's a great trophy and a wonderful way to end my 2011 bowhunting season here in Illinois.

With all of this said, my 2011 season is officially in the books and it's time to start thinking 2012 already. I plan on continuing to run several Stealth Cams on my various hunting properties to inventory the bucks that are still around, and of course shed season will be here before we know it! In between those two we've got several trade shows to attend so I'll certainly stay busy.

Look for the full video of this hunt on an upcoming episode of Bowhunt or Die. We still have 6 more exciting buck hunts to bring you over the next several weeks, including mine. To those of you still hunting out there remember to be safe, shoot straight and most importantly have fun!

Big Buck Down - The Taking of a Mock Scrape Buck

by Mike Willand 22. November 2011 15:00
Mike Willand

Bowhunting is detective work. If you’re like me you have many different stand sites set up across numerous different properties covering a handful of different regions of your home state - sometimes over several states. Taking clues that are left behind by deer, revisiting past sightings and experiences, all the while trying to piece together the big picture to make that next move on where the buck you’re looking for will be hiding. Sometimes you guess wrong and sometimes you guess right.

On Monday, November 14th, I guessed right.


For weeks leading up to that Monday I had been grimacing at all the bucks falling to friends of mine across the country. Not in jealousy mind you, but in regret that the days I was pleading to take off from work would be too late into November and past the peak of the rut throughout northern Illinois.

My decision to take the 14th-17th off was based on this year’s poor crop of what I call shooter whitetail. Older deer just never seemed to start expanding their home ranges till after Veterans Day. That’s what I was looking for on that Monday - a buck searching for love far from where he typically calls home.

For weeks, my good friend Justin Zarr and I had been capturing nothing but younger deer on our Stealthcams. Together, we have nearly twenty of them, scattered over four different farms, covering a hundred miles in between. Going into the 2011 season we only had one buck that either of us really wanted to take on camera. Justin would end up the lucky hunter on Halloween weekend, with me behind camera, and a buck called “Hitch”. Two weeks had gone by and we still had nothing else to chase. 

All three of my mock scrapes were flourishing with whitetail activity. The problem was all three of them had a regular onslaught of 100 - 120 inch bucks calling them their own. For Justin and me, once “Hitch” was taken, there seemed to be a major gap between age groups.

Although not the quality of buck I was hoping for, pictures like this are testimonials of a well planned mock scrape. Here, a young buck stands on his back legs to work the above licking branches.

My only chance was to await the days I believed older bucks would begin to stretch their home range, and this is why I chose the 14th -17th of November. Figuring if I failed to find a buck during this time frame, the following week yielded more days off for the Thanksgiving holiday and yet another chance to find a cruiser buck that Justin and I hoped existed. It was a shot in the dark.

Sunday night, November 13th, found me staring at the Scoutlook Weather website for what seemed like eternity, finally making the decision to sit my favorite mock scrape all day beginning the following morning. I shut off my computer and went to bed.

I awoke the next morning especially early. I wanted plenty of time to make and pack a solid lunch for the more than 10 hour sit that I was already dreading. Two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, no less than thirty carrot sticks, a large bag of animal crackers, an apple, and nearly 50 ounces of water were going to be my only sources of comfort for the remainder of the day.

The drive in was uneventful, a far cry from the morning before when no less than four different deer nearly ended up on the hood of my truck. A couple days past full moon, I was hoping the deer were returning to late morning movement again. The past several days had deer on their feet just after legal shooting light, something every deer hunter loathes to witness - myself especially.

Once dressed, I made the trek to my treestand. The moon was so bright I never turned on my headlamp that morning. I could easily make out the woods as it lay before me. When I hit the pond, which is what I used to creep into this set-up undetected, I noticed the water had risen several inches after the recent rainfall. Several steps later and I found myself in too deep – literally! After a false step, a small amount of water had gotten over the top of my 18 inch rubber boots, enough to soak my feet and cause me to curse in the dark! I stepped back a few feet and ended up getting out of the water forty yards short of where I normally step out from. I decided the pond was too dangerous to navigate in the dark, fearing a fall would send me and my video camera into the drink. A fall I surely could have lived with, but my camera may not have made it through. With my camera dangling around my neck I took another way in, trouncing through a section of tall grass that skirted the pond. With each step I took, the frosted stems sounded like firecrackers in the once soundless woods.

Once in stand I readied myself for the day. I hung my bow, my pack, and set up the camera for the self-filming session I was sure to receive as the day waned on. Not ten minutes into my sit and I heard the dreadful footsteps of deer in the dark. I turned and looked in the direction they were coming from, and made out what appeared to be two deer in the loud grasses I had just walked in from. No doubt as I peered at their faint images, they had heard me walking in. Immediately I thought my day was already beginning badly. These two deer were surely going to bust me!  And – I thought, if they heard me walk in, they were already in an area deer don’t typically show up in until about an hour after shooting light. The full moon had foiled me again – I thought!

After a few moments, the two deer ran away to the other side of the woods. I couldn’t tell if their tails were up, but I knew they had cut my trail in. I looked up into the starry sky wondering if my decision to not walk the pond all the way in would cost me the entire day’s sit.

The remainder of my sit in the dark anticipating the sunrise was silent. Only a far off cry of an owl could faintly be heard.

I turned my video camera’s power on just at shooting light, something I’ve done for much of the season so I wouldn’t have to fumble for it once the moment of truth arrived at first light. Standing up now, I faced the direction of my mock scrape. It laid just over twenty yards from me. It was not uncommon to hear the deer at the scrape before seeing them. The soft ground surrounding the scrape often made deer nearly impossible to detect if not for the fact that they would often stop to hit the licking branches which strung out from every which angle above it. The overcast sky kept the earth dim as I anticipated the hours ahead.

Just before sunrise I heard loud, drawn out doe bleats coming from the direction I had seen the two does run to about 45 minutes before. I reached for my grunt tube immediately as experience has taught me that when deer are vocal – you are vocal. I quickly threw out four or five short grunts and then stopped, wondering what I was thinking. I didn’t want to scare the potential bait away, and began to bleat loudly and drawn out, just as I had heard. I did this six or seven times, then silenced my grunt, shoving it back into my pocket from where it came.

I heard the running of a deer in the marsh behind me and turned my entire body to make out a buck advancing quickly on me. Without even throwing up my optics I saw that it was a good buck, at least 130-class! As soon as I recognized who the buck was I heard a very faint stick snap from the direction I was previously looking – over toward my scrape. I turned my head and came eye to eye with a shooter buck not more than twelve yards away and peering into the cattails waiting to see what all the commotion was about.

I believe the buck who was approaching from the marsh was this handsome 3 year old I called "Larry Bird". Here "Larry" works my mock scrapes licking branch.

With his eyes fixated on the bog, I turned back quickly and grabbed my bow, even glancing into the camera screen at the same time to see if the buck was in frame. All I saw was the weak outlines of the trees as the image was still too dark – camera light had not yet begun. I forgot about filming and drew!

With the buck slightly quartering in, I found my pin and settled it on his shoulder. Within moments I released! The buck took off through the timber but didn’t make it far, crashing a short distance away. The sounds of the surrounding woods quickly hushed once again. I could see two does in the distance, their tails showing white. The buck in the marsh slopped through the water traveling further and further out of earshot. I calmed myself, waiting for the earth to return to silence.

I could see a small section of my arrow, bloody and broken, laying where the buck once stood. Reaching for my phone I called my wife and daughter to tell them the news – Daddy is done!

A special thanks to Bowhunting.Com president Todd Graf for coming out to take these great pictures.

I would wait another twenty minutes before getting down from the tree to pick up the blood trail. Figuring the buck had made it into the cattails which surrounded my stand I didn’t want to take anything for granted. I was quiet, calm, and ready to put a second shot in him if need be. I took just three steps from where our encounter began, looked up and could see his body just off in the distance. I approached slowly, eyeing the buck up and down to make certain he was expired, and all the time grinning from ear to ear.

On the first day of my four day hunting vacation, within just a few minutes of light, my season was over. I knelt down beside the buck and looked to the sky once more.

My smile says it all! The buck from unknown origin showed up at my mock scrape the same day I did - ending my 2011 deer season.

October Bowhunting Success | A Buck Named Hitch

by Justin Zarr 31. October 2011 16:14
Justin Zarr

This particular tale begins in the spring of 2011.  After one of my most successful bowhunting seasons to date, I decided it was time to move on from the lease I had come to call home the past three seasons.  The days of chasing Dope Ear and Schafer were over, and it was time to find some new ground.  Preferably something closer than the 250 mile drive I had been making almost every weekend during the fall.  So with mixed emotions I let the landowner now that we would be moving on, and the search for a new hunting spot began.

Through some hard work, and some much needed luck, my good friend and hunting partner Mike Willand found just such a spot.  Located in far Northwestern Illinois, this small slice of heaven hugs the bluffs of the mighty Mississippi River and looked to be very promising.  After a brief conversation, confirming that we both agreed that this was our new spot, we signed the paperwork and began preparations for the fall.

Our first trip to the new farm was on a hot summer day in Mid-July.  This was the first time I had ever stepped foot on this farm in person.  Those of you who are big on pre-season scouting know how nearly impossible it can be to scout effectively during the summer months.  The foliage is thick, the bugs are horrible, the temperatures are hot and the humidity is suffocating.  In light of this, Mike and I did the majority of our scouting and planning of stand locations before ever heading to the woods.  Aerial photos and topographic maps are without question your best friend when it comes to scouting new ground.

Having a general idea where we wanted to hang our Lone Wolf stands before heading into the field helped tremendously and allowed us to hang several sets on our first trip that July day, and finish up the remaining sets during a return trip in August.  The 2nd set we hung was located nearly in the center of the farm along what we figured would be a good travel corridor during the rut. 


The dog days of summer may not be the optimal time to hang stands, but sometimes you don't have much of a choice.  One of the keys to being successful is being prepared, not just in hunting but in all aspects of life.  Here Mike is making his way down the field edge to hang one of our Lone Wolf stands in preparation for fall.

Located on the side of a ridge we had a corn field to the North of us and a creek to the South.  To most people this stand doesn’t appear to be anything special, and probably wouldn’t be a spot many people would put a stand.  However, the topography doesn’t lie.  If a deer wanted to move from the big timber to our West through our woods to check does in the bedding area to our East, he would most likely come through this spot.

While hanging stands that warm July day we also set out a trail camera on a fence crossing, hoping to get an inventory of the resident deer herd.   On our return trip in August we checked the camera and much to our liking we had captured several pictures of what appeared to be a nice buck.  The date on the first image was 7-27-11, which was Mike’s 4 year wedding anniversary.  This prompted us to name the buck in the photos “Hitch”.


Our first photo of Hitch, taken in late July.  The forked brow tine on his left side is a dead giveaway.

Fast forward to October 1st, our first day in stand on this farm.  Opening Morning was relatively uneventful as we only saw one small buck and a doe.  During the middle of the day while killing time before our evening hunt we checked our trail camera again, this time on a different fence crossing, and once again captured several photos of Hitch – this time out of velvet.


The next, and last, photo captured of Hitch on this farm.  This photo was taken in late September and we never got another photo of him on this farm.  Although we weren't getting pictures of him, we were confident he was still around.

Over the next several weeks we only hunted this farm a total of 3 days.  While we knew the farm was holding some good deer, we didn’t want to ruin our hunting before things were getting good.  At just over 100 acres it’s easy to put too much pressure on the deer early and decrease your chances of shooting a good buck.  We’ve made that mistake in the past and didn’t want to make it again.  So we bit our tongues and we waited.

The weekend of October 29th it was time to get serious.  Instead of leaving home at 2:30 am like we had done previously, we drove out on Friday night and got a hotel room.  Some extra sleep and a shower were in order now that the bigger bucks were likely on their feet during daylight hours. 

Our plan for this morning was somewhat different than the previous 3 trips to the farm.  Instead of circling around the edge of the property and coming in from the West, we were going to sneak straight up the middle and approach the stand from the East.  You see, earlier in October during our morning walk into the stand we had spooked what sounded like a big deer in the standing corn field.  Upon closer inspection of the area we found several big scrapes, some rubs and a definite “smell” of buck.  Whoever it was, that deer had been marking his territory when we so rudely interrupted him.  Not wanting to make the same mistake again, we altered our entry route accordingly.

Upon entering the woods on Saturday morning we once again encountered the distinct smell of buck.  Many of you likely know what I’m talking about.  The musky smell of rutting whitetail buck is unmistakable and running into that during late October likely means you’re in a buck’s core area.  Also during our trip into the stand, which was our first to this stand for the year, we found several big beds that reinforced our theory that we were in a buck’s bedroom.

As the sun rose on the chilly 29 degree morning, the daylight revealed several rubs and a scrape all within 30 yards of our stand location.  Although we had hung this stand in preparation for a good travel route, it appears that we ended up in a buck bedding area.  In late October in Northern Illinois there are certainly worse places to be!

The first hour of our morning was relatively uneventful until a small button buck made an appearance.   Showing up almost directly downwind of us the young buck was nervous, but unsure of just what he was smelling.  This is until he busted us up in the tree, trying to have a little fun at his expense.  I supposed that’s what we get for screwing around.


Our first visitor of the day, a young button buck.  Anytime you start seeing yearlings out on your own you know the rut is getting close. 

Roughly 45 minutes later, shortly before 9 am, I heard footsteps on the ridge to our West and shortly after I spotted a deer moving through the brush.  I told Mike we had a deer on the opposite ridge working our way, and we both stood up.  As the deer moved out from behind a tree the glimmer of white antlers could be seen and my heart rate quickened.  I put up my Vortex binoculars to size the buck up, to which Mike responded “Put away your binoculars and grab your bow, it’s a shooter!”

Of course I didn’t listen to him as I wanted to make 100% sure this buck was a shooter before I switched my brain into kill mode.  I’ve made the mistake before of not taking time to confirm the buck’s age and rack size and buck fever has gotten the best of me.  However, that wasn’t a problem this time.  As soon as my glass hit his rack I said to Mike “It’s Hitch”.   I immediately put down the binos and reached for my Mathews.


A shot of Hitch as he approached our stand location.  Here at roughly 35 yards I have no good shot opportunities.

Over the course of the next several minutes Hitch crossed the ridge and made his way in front of our stand.  He crossed broadside at just over 30 yards, but I had no shot.  The problem with hunting these hilly areas is that often times you can’t get high enough up in the trees to trim long shooting lanes, which was the case here.  Most of my shots were within 20 yards so he was going to have to close the distance before I could get an arrow headed his direction.

After passing in front of the stand Hitch took an abrupt left and began heading away from us.  Immediately, a small feeling of defeat began to set in.  He had come so close, but was now headed in the wrong direction.  While part of me immediately wanted to reach for my grunt call in an attempt to turn him around, the veteran deer hunter in me knew better.  The buck was still within 40 yards and grunting too soon would sure do nothing but send him in the opposite direction even faster.  My plan was to let him get out to 80 yards or so before hitting the call.  But before that could happen, a little bit of luck headed my way.  Hitch decided to turn around and come back towards us.

As the buck approached our stand and got to within 20 yards he had two trails to pick from.  Both crossed well within shooting range, but one went into an open area that would make for great video and the other behind a small tree holding on dearly to its leaves.  At this point my luck had started to run out, as he picked the trail shrouded by fall foliage.

When Hitch stepped into the open at just 18 yards I grunted to stop him, settled the pin on his shoulder, and sent an NAP Hellrazor tipped arrow his way.  The arrow slammed into the brute’s shoulder and he tore off up the hill, stopping just 50 yards away.  After just 20 seconds the mighty warrior staggered, and despite his best efforts, fell over as Mike continued to roll footage.  Nearly 3 months to the day after showing up on our trail camera, Hitch was dead.

The post-shot celebration was much as you would expect.  Mike and I were in somewhat of a state of disbelief as to what just happened.  You see, things just never seem to work out like this for us.  We hunt harder than most people we know, put more time into our stand setups and preparation, and yet rarely do our plans seem to go, well, as planned.  In this case, our plan was thought out and executed to perfection.  In just the 7th sit on a brand new farm the #1 target on our Hit List was down.  What a way to end October!


My initial reaction after the shot.  I can't believe I just shot Hitch!

Once the shock wore off and text messages were sent out we climbed down to retrieve our trophy.  Despite seeing him fall we still followed the blood trail, which was incredible.  Both deer I’ve shot with the Hellrazor this season have left great trails, which is a testament to both good shot placement as well as razor sharp broadheads.  You don’t need a 2 inch cut to put a deer down quickly provided you hit them in the right place.  My shot on Hitch was about 3 inches further forward than I would have liked, however my arrow penetrated completely through the big-bodied whitetail thanks to the ultra tough Hellrazor broadhead.  I know a lot of guys like big cutting diameters, but I'll take a small, accurate, tough-as-nails broadhead any day no matter how big the cutting diameter.


There are few better feelings for a bow hunter than the first time you wrap your hands around the antlers of a buck you just shot.

Guessing Hitch at 225+ lbs on the hoof we enlisted the help of our friend and other hunting partner Mr. Kenny Tekampe to help us drag the brute out.  Luckily we only had about a 60 yard drag to the field edge, where we were able to drive the truck and pick him up.  After a photo and video session for this week’s episode of Bowhunt or Die we loaded him up and headed to the deer processor.

I didn’t have a chance to put a tape to him, but I would guess he scores somewhere around 145 inches, which makes him my best buck to date.  I’ve yet to enter any of my qualifying bucks into the P&Y record book, but I just may with this one.  He is a great example of what the Midwest has to offer when it comes to high quality whitetails.


My best buck to date, and first buck shot with my Mathews z7 Xtreme.  If my luck continues it won't be the last either.

One thing I want to point out before I end this Blog is that this buck wasn’t a result of just my efforts alone.  It was a team effort that required of hard work, planning, and sacrifice by my friend, hunting partner, cameraman and partner in crime Mike Willand.  Mike and I dedicate nearly ½ of our season each year to film each other, which is not only a lot of work but a huge sacrifice.  For those of you who have never done it, imagine sitting in a tree on a cold November morning with your bow in the truck and a camera in your hand.  

So a big Thank You goes out to Mike for all of his help.   From finding this farm for us to hunt, to battling with me about treestand locations to filming one of the most memorable hunts of my life, you’re a great friend and not a half bad cameraman.  Hopefully I can repay the favor before the season is over!

Be sure to check out our online show, Bowhunt or Die, this Friday as the full video of this hunt will be featured in this week’s episode.  And if you missed last week’s show, but sure to check it out as it features Mike’s hunt for a great suburban whitetail from earlier this October.


The end of a successful hunt is always bittersweet.  The thrill of the hunt is mixed with the disappointment of knowing this particular adventure has come to an end.  However, knowing that the season is young and the peak of the rut is still ahead of us gives me hope that there are more exciting hunts to come before the 2011 season is over.

Hunting Food Plots: Experiences and Lessons Learned

by Cody Altizer 15. October 2011 11:38
Cody Altizer

If you have followed my blog with any regularity over the last several months, you are surely aware of the time, effort and enthusiasm I have poured into my food plots preparing them for the upcoming deer season.  I have planted food plots regularly since 2007 and achieved good results, but this hunting season was going to be the first season I would spend considerable time actually hunting the plots.  Whether it is hunting directly over the plot, hunting a man made funnel designed to push the deer past my stand on their way to feed for the afternoon, or hunting trails and runways hundreds of yards off the food plots trying to intercept the deer returning to their beds in the morning, I was excited.  Well, after three hunts hunting the situations above, I am here to share my experiences and the lessons learned from each hunt.   

Preparing a food plot for hunting purposes is a process that began way back in February when my brother, dad and I made a man made funnel to push the deer by my stand on their way to the food plot.  The following month I frost seeded my clover food plots to give it a head start when spring’s warmth would kickoff the growing the season.  It continued into the summer months with regular mowing to keep the weeds controlled and to ensure that the plot stays healthy and attractive to deer.  Finally, as summer burned away into fall, I plated an additional strip of turnips and oats along the timber line of my food plots to provide some variety and increase shot opportunities should I decide to hunt directly over the plot.  The day prior to opening day two weeks ago, I sat in my hunting camp a couple hundred yards off my favorite plot and observed for two hours over 20 deer feed feverishly on the green clover.  I was excited and ready to hunt!  

By hunting smart and analyzing the situation from a distance, I was better able to determine when was the best time to sneak in for the kill.  Now, if I could only figure out the "kill" part...

Opening morning I elected to go to one of my better stands located some 300 yards east of my clover and turnip food plots.  With a West-Northwest wind, I would be downwind of the food plots and would hopefully catch the deer returning to their bed after feeding in the food plots during the night.  My planned worked to perfection, as I had a perfect shot opportunity on a doe at 15 yards, but I made a poor shot on her and never recovered her.  Despite my poor shooting, I believe that shot opportunity is a direct result of the food plots.  Having a food source, in this case located in the center of my property, is extremely advantageous because it increases traffic of both bucks and does on my entire property.  Equally important in this case is how my property is structured regarding the planting locations of the two food plots.   There are known bedding areas around the food plots and there is great edge cover surrounding the food plots allowing the deer to quickly find refuge should danger approach.  I’m also able to enter and exit my stands downwind without being detected.  Being centrally located pulls deer off neighboring properties and keeps them on my property longer.  However, if there weren’t adequate cover around the food plot or bedding areas nearby, the deer wouldn’t feel as secure using my food plots. When planting food plots for hunting purposes, consider your property layout and how the surrounding terrain and prevailing wind direction can impact your hunts.

I spent the entire afternoon on opening day looking for the doe I shot that morning, so I wasn’t able to hunt that afternoon.  The following Monday, however, I climbed into my Lone Wolf stand with a good feeling about the afternoon hunt.  Temperatures were in the low 50s with a stiff breeze out of the West, perfect for this particular location.  I was tucked back in the timber off my clover plot 40 yards sitting right at the pinch I had worked so hard on during the winter.  I snuck into my stand around 2:30 knowing the deer would be moving earlier in the day with the cold front blowing through.  Every 10 minutes or so I would check the wind direction to make sure it stayed true out of the West.  It was beautifully constant.  A little after 5 o’clock I went ahead and stood up to prepare myself for primetime movement and ready myself for a shot.  The deer I was hunting hadn’t been pressured and had been using the trail I was set up over every afternoon routinely. 

Just like any hunting situation, playing close attention to the wind is critically important.  When hunting food plots, this is no different.

 Just as I had stood up I felt a cooling sensation on my face, the same cooling sensation that relaxes and eases the stress of all hunters while on stand; a nice cool breeze.  There was only one problem, that breeze was out of the East, my stomach sank.  Almost immediately I heard deer blowing in all directions west of my location.  I was busted.  The winds shifted and my hunt was ruined.  I heard deer stomping and blowing like crazy no more than 60 yards from my stand.  After I knew they were gone for good, I immediately got down out of the stand with an hour and half of daylight left.  There was no sense is stinking up the spot.  I exited the area and headed back to camp frustrated.  Another seemingly “perfect” opportunity missed.  

The lesson learned here is simple; food plot hunting isn’t immune to swirling winds.  It’s misconceived that when you hunt food plots, the deer aimlessly walk out into your food plot and you shoot them.  Sometimes if you are lucky, you might shoot two.  That’s how it goes on the television shows after all, right?  I needed a West wind to hunt that pinch and I got it.  Unfortunately, 10 minutes of swirling winds blew that hunt for me.  Fortunately, my confidence was restored as I watched from afar 6 does and a handful of yearling bucks feed in that food plot during the last hour of daylight.  Getting down before I did any further damage proved to be the right move.  

The day after my wind swirling fiasco, I took down my Lone Wolf and tucked it into a red maple on an inside corner right on the edge of the clover where deer enter and exit the field.  I wasn’t completely confident with the cover I had back in the timber, and since the deer had busted me, I wanted to keep them guessing.  I had initially considered hanging the stand in the maple during the summer, but decided to go deeper in the timber next to my funnel.  Having a “back-up” tree picked out before the season starts can prove to be a wise decision if you get busted from your first stand choice.  I had taken down, moved my stand 100 yards east and had it hung all in less than 30 minutes.  That simply would not have been possible without my Lone Wolf Alpha and Sticks, and it allowed me plenty of time to cool off before the afternoon sit.  I was happy with my new stand choice as it provided me with ample cover and two shooting lanes at 15 yards.  It would be impossible for the deer to see me until it’s too late, or at least that’s the plan.

The temperatures had warmed to the mid 70s by this point but I was confident I would see deer activity before dark.  In fact, I watched with frustration and a feeling of “can’t I catch a break?” as deer fed on my turnips to the south of me out of range. They weren’t supposed to touch those until the first frost!  Ah, the joys of high deer densities, I guess. Nevertheless, I knew deer would feed in the clover before too long.  At 6:00, just like clockwork, 7 does came running out of the timber to feed on the clover.  Literally, they were running.  I think they were actually more invested in an afternoon of tag and chase than they were feeding because for 10 minutes they chased each other back and forth in the clover.  It was fun to watch, and reassuring because these were likely the same deer that had busted me just days prior.  They still felt completely safe feeding during the daytime, which made me feel good.  

My Lone Wolf Alpha and Sticks allow me to stay mobile, keep the deer guessing and keep my best areas fresh.

At one point one of the larger does got irritated and came within 20 yards of my stand, but a branch prevented a shot.  The younger does kept chasing each other back and forth, in and out of the timber, back into the plot and back out again for another 10 minutes or so until a yearling buck decided that the game his sisters was playing looked like fun.  There must have been a “no boys allowed” clause in the rule, because the does quickly became agitated with the young buck and fled the food plot entirely.  I got down with about 10 minutes of light left when there were no longer any deer in the field and snuck back to camp.  I came close again, but wasn’t able to harvest a deer and it was an enjoyable hunt nonetheless.  

That hunt reinforced a strategy that I don’t think enough hunters employ, being mobile.  Just days before that hunt nearly every deer in the area knew they were being hunted due to the swirling winds.  However, by staying flexible, and having a back up tree in mind, I was able to buy myself another hunt on that plot within just a couple of days by keeping the deer guessing.  Deer are very instinctive animals, but I am convinced they aren’t good problem solvers.  If you get lazy and educate the deer to your location, you’re opportunities will be limited.  However if you can keep them guessing by staying mobile, keeping areas fresh and hunting the wind correctly, the deer will continue to feel comfortable feeding in your food plot during daytime hours.

I had three hunts game planned around my food plots during the first week of the season, but wasn’t able to harvest a deer.  I haven’t hunted since last Thursday and likely won’t hunt again until next Wednesday, so I am anxious to get back in stand with the cooler temperature and better moon phases.  I wish I could have called this blog: “How To:  Successful Food Plot Hunting Strategies” but that simply wouldn’t be the case, because I haven’t been successful yet.  The season is still young, and the cooler temperatures will hopefully drive the deer to the carbohydrate rich food plots.  Stay tuned to my blog throughout the season to see if my food plots will pay dividends as the season progresses!

 

Bowhunting Wisconsin Whitetails and Wyoming Elk

by Todd Graf 14. September 2011 14:32
Todd Graf

‘Tis the season, folks!  As I write this blog, I am washing my clothes, fine tuning my Mathews Monster, cleaning out my truck and doing anything bowhunting related to pass the time before the Wisconsin archery opener this Saturday!  Ah, bow season is finally here!  After a terribly long offseason, I can’t wait to get up a tree Saturday morning and enjoy the beautiful scenery that Central Wisconsin has to offer.

After a slow start to the offseason with my Camtrakkers, I was finally able to get some Wisconsin shooter bucks showing up on my cameras, just in time for the season!   Honestly, while getting pictures of big bucks on trail camera during the summer is fun, it does little to help me kill them come fall, because I know their patterns will change drastically.  However, knowing where mature bucks are spending their time on my property during late August and early September can really help me get a bead on those bucks heading into the hunting season.  

I am hoping that any of these nice Wisconsin whitetails will make the mistake of walking under my stand this fall!

With the bucks seemingly coming out of the wood works in the last couple weeks, I have decided to try and implement a new strategy this fall to better my chances of harvesting a mature buck: hunting out of a ground blind.  I recently set out a hay bale blind that will enable me to hunt (successfully, hopefully) off the ground this fall.  This is a new tactic for me and one I am excited about trying.  Normally, my hunting strategy consists of me hunting out of a Lone Wolf Hang-On and set of sticks and staying mobile to keep the deer from patterning me.  In fact, my 2010 Illinois buck was a result of moving my set to get closer to the action.  However, sometimes there simply isn’t a tree suitable for a treestand of any sort where the deer are congregating, and hunting out of a ground blind is the next best option.  One thing is for sure, I can’t wait to get up close and personal with the deer this fall!

Hopefully this hay bale blind will allow me to get up closer and personal with some monster bucks this season.  

It’s hard to believe, but in just a couple of days, I will be up a tree hunting whitetails.  Even harder to believe is that following my first couple hunts in Wisconsin, I will be making a trip out to Table Mountain Outfitters in Wyoming to hunt with longtime friends Scott and Angie Denny.  I am particularly excited for this trip, and am hoping to duplicate the success I had last year antelope hunting.  If you remember, Justin Zarr and I both shot good antelope bucks hunting with Scott and Angie.  I am hoping that Table Mountain Outfitters can turn into my little Western honey hole!  

My little man, Craig, standing next to some native grasses.  If I were a deer, I would definitely want to hide in there, then come out for an afternoon snack on some clover, wouldn't you?

Craig and his friend, Sammy, are looking forward to hunting together out of this comfortable condo.  In fact, when those brutally cold Midwest temperatures arrive late season, I may even sneak up there for a hunt or two.  

I genuinely wish each and every one of you the best of luck this fall, but more importantly, wish you safe travels and time afield.  I’ll be spending a lot of time in the woods between Illinois and Wisconsin, so if you see me out there keeping the roads hot, stop by and say hello!  I always have a little free time to talk hunting!  If you guys are hunting out of a tree, please be sure to wear your safety harness, and remember you have a family waiting for you at home.   No buck, regardless how big, is worth risking your life over!  Also, if you are fortunate enough to enjoy some success, we here at bowhunting.com want to share in your success!  Please send us your trophy photos to this link here!  Good luck this fall everyone, stay safe and happy hunting!

Treestand Placement - Morning Stands vrs Evening Stands

by Justin Zarr 2. September 2011 10:05
Justin Zarr

It’s that time of year again where many of us are finishing up our final treestand preparations for the fast approaching season.  While many bow hunters are simply checking the condition of stands that have been in place for years, others are studying topographic and aerial maps, checking deer sign and trying to formulate a plan that will help them be successful.  When it comes to picking out your stand locations I’ve found it helps to determine if you’re looking for a morning location or an evening location.

By and large one of the biggest mistakes I see novice hunters make is hunting stand locations at the wrong times.  Unfortunately for many of these hunters, they often don’t realize what’s going on until it’s too late.  This is primarily due to the fact that they are spooking deer that they may never see or hear.

Keep in mind that some of the strategies I’m about to talk about are not fool proof.These are more of a general guideline that may help you get close enough for a shot, or at least determine the exact spot you need to be in order to make something happen this season.

MORNING STANDS

As a general rule of thumb, try to avoid hunting food sources in the mornings.  Most whitetails are typically active during the night, much of which is spent feeding.  In many cases whitetails will still be feeding in the hours leading up to sunrise which means you stand a good chance of spooking them on your way into your stand if you are trying to hunt over a food source (or too close to one).  Walk into that food plot you spent hours working on this summer an hour before daylight and chances are you’ll spot several sets of eyeballs in your flashlight before you hear the telltale snort of a whitetail headed the other direction.

When it comes to avoiding food sources in the morning this also includes the entrance route to your stands.  As a young hunter I always took the path of least resistance to my stand locations, which often meant marching through the direct center of a cut corn or bean field an hour before light.  I would see eyes reflecting back in my flashlight and hear deer snorting at me on my walk in, but didn’t put two and two together as to why my morning hunts were often so unproductive until some years later.  Looking back on those days I can’t help but laugh at my ignorance. 

In order to maintain undetected try to slip into your stand using natural features such as creeks, ravines, and standing crops to your advantage.  Take care to avoid walking field edges or areas within sight or earshot of a food source where you think deer may be.  In most cases this is going to make your morning walk longer and more difficult than you’re used to, however it will almost surely increase your morning deer sightings.

So if not food sources, where should you hunt in the mornings?  My personal favorite places to hunt during the morning are as close as I can get to a good bedding area.  The intent is to catch deer coming off the feed sources at night and working their way back to safety to bed for the day.  This tactic, although productive, does pose several risks that must be taken into consideration.

First, you need to set up between the food and the bedding area.  If you set up on the wrong side of the bedroom you may find yourself playing more games on your phone than watching deer.   When picking your stand location it is helpful to keep in mind the various food sources available to your local whitetails and hang several stand sets that you can utilize as the food sources change.  When farmers begin taking in crops or acorns begin to drop the deer will begin utilizing different food sources and, in some cases, different bedding areas as well.  A general rule of thumb is that you can never have too many stand locations to pick from.


Several years ago I was lucky enough to harvest this nice Illinois buck on the morning of October 19th.  I was set up very close to a small bedding area that was surrounded by rubs when he appeared shortly after daylight.  Mid to late October is a great time to catch bucks like this on their feet just late enough to get a shot at them.

Second, watch the wind carefully.  I prefer to hunt on a cross wind, which is blowing perpendicular to both the bedding and feeding areas.  This allows me to get into the stand without blowing out deer from the food source, yet doesn’t expose me to any deer that may happen to slip into the bedroom from another direction without me knowing.  Of course I don’t always get this ideal wind which means that you’ll often have to pick a stand with the wind blowing at least partially into the bedding area.  Be sure to hunt these stands very sparingly as you may only have one or two opportunities to hunt them on a non-perfect wind before they are blown out.  However, if you’ve played your cards right once chance may be all you need.
Also, when picking a morning stand you have to consider not just your entrance but your exit as well.  Don’t walk through the middle of the bedding area on your way back to the truck unless you enjoy not seeing deer from that stand.  They key is to remain undetected so try exiting through those food sources you avoided in the morning, where you’re less likely to encounter a bedded buck.


This map of a property I used to hunt shows both morning "M" and evening "E" setups.  For the morning hunts I would sneak down the road and into the woods in order to catch the deer moving off the feed fields back into the timber.  Conversely, evening setups overlooking a standing bean field were very productive and allowed easy access without spooking deer bedded in the timber.

Finally, make sure you get into your stand early.  Many of the mature bucks we’re hunting prefer to be off the food sources and headed back to bed well before daylight.  If you’re walking into your stand 20 minutes before shooting light and run into a buck headed the same direction you may have just blown your chance.  I like to be in my stand and ready to go at least an hour before shooting light, which often means leaving the truck a solid 2 hours before shooting light.  This gives me time to cool off from that extra long hike, get my gear ready and let the woods settle back down before the sun peaks over the horizon.  If you do nothing else, try getting into your stands much earlier than you do know and you’ll be surprised at how many more deer you will begin to see.

EVENING STANDS

During evening hunts I prefer to hunt close to, if not overlooking, a hot food source.  The majority of your deer will be bedded down during the daytime and get up near dusk to begin feeding.  In most cases they will begin to work their way towards food sources where they can chow down all night under the cover of darkness.  Does will almost always be the first deer to enter a field at night, with most mature bucks not willing to expose themselves until the cover of darkness is close.


Finding a hot food source, like this standing corn field, is a great starting point for your evening hunts.  After you've located the destination food source try to locate where the deer are entering the fields and set up on the down wind side.

Just like hunting during the morning you need to be aware of your wind direction and approach to the stand.  Your wind should typically be blowing from your location towards the food source, or perpendicular to it.  Make sure to avoid having your wind blow directly into the area you expect the deer to approach from (the bedding area).  I know this seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised at the number of hunters who simply pick a stand on the edge of a field without paying attention to wind direction.

Approaching your stand doesn’t necessarily require as much work as your morning sets as walking through or on the edge of your agricultural fields is a great way to get into your stand undetected.  The key is to avoid walking through any timber or locations you think deer may be bedded such as CRP, overgrown pastures, or any thick cover.  If you just go trouncing through the middle of the woods on your way into your stand you may very well blow out the bedded deer before they have a chance to make their way to your food source.

For those of you with good agricultural fields or food plots, and unpressured deer, you may have good luck directly overlooking the food source.  However, as many of us have found out, sitting directly on a food source may provide consistent sightings of does and small bucks but not the mature deer we’re after.  This can be attributed to the fact that often times big bucks like to hang back in the woods and wait for the cover of darkness before coming out into the open.  After all, they didn’t get that big by being stupid. 

In these cases you’ll often find a heavy concentration of buck sign (rubs and scrapes) either just inside the field edge, or just outside of the bedding area.  If you start seeing this increase in sign during mid-October but no buck sightings in the fields you may need to move your stand in closer to the bedding area and try to catch these bucks while they are staging.  Staying mobile by either using a climbing stand or a set of Lone Wolf climbing sticks and hang-on stand can present a huge benefit to the bow hunter.

A great way to help you determine when the bucks are visiting your food sources is to use a trail camera. When it comes to trail cameras many hunters simply use them to gather an inventory of their deer herd, but not as actual scouting tools.  If you can change your way of thinking and place your camera in strategic areas to tell you when deer are active it can help you figure out which places to hunt, and which places to avoid.  If you are getting nothing but night time photos of your target bucks on field edges, try moving back 100 yards or so and see if you can surprise him before darkness falls.


If your trail camera is showing you a lot of buck activity in your food source after dark, you may need to move in closer to the bedding area in order to catch a buck on his feet during daylight hours.

Another overlooked evening set that often times coincides with staging areas are acorn drops.  Often times I see people underestimating the power of acorns when it comes to whitetail hunting, which is a big mistake.  There are few foods a whitetail enjoys more than a fresh crop of acorns, especially white acorns.  If you can find a white oak that’s dropping acorns in between a bedding area and your primary food source you may just have found one of your best evening setups. 

Several years ago I was fortunate enough to find a “magic oak” tree that was dropping acorns so often it sounded like it was raining.  Located about 100 yards off a field edge this tree was attracting all of the local bucks who would eat and spend time sparring and interacting with each other before dark.  After observing this movement from a stand that was just out of range I repositioned my Lone Wolf treestand to move in on the action and two nights later killed one of my best bucks with a bow.


After spotting this buck feeding on acorns under a huge white oak tree, I repositioned my Lone Wolf stand and shot him two nights later under the same tree.  Mid to late October is a great time to locate, pattern, and harvest a good buck before the rut kicks in and he disappears from his core area.

BE READY TO MOVE

The above tips are simply a guideline that should help you get close to the deer you’re hunting and be able to observe their movements and patterns.  With a little bit of luck (and some newfound skills) you’ll be able to hang a stand and kill a deer from it using these tips.  However, that’s not always the case.  Bowhunting is a game of inches and sometimes you’ll find that your stand is close but not close enough to give you a shot.  When this happens you need to be ready to move.

Possibly the biggest mistake I see people make is hunting the same stand over and over again, hoping that someday a deer will walk within range.  While there are certain stands that can produce year in and year out I’ve found that those “killing stands” aren’t as common as I would like.  Sure, you may have SEEN a buck from this stand two years ago, and your uncle may have killed one with his gun a decade ago, but what is going on in your woods today?  As food sources change from year to year and other factors including hunting and outside pressure change, deer will alter their movement patterns.  In these cases you need to be ready to move.

I believe the #1 reason most hunters don’t move their stands more often is a combination of laziness and difficulty of moving stands.  If you’re using a ladder stand you can pretty much forget about being mobile.  Likewise, using screw-in steps and heavy steel hang-on stands can present quite the challenge as well.  Having a good, lightweight treestand setup is the only way to go when it comes to staying mobile.  My personal choice, as mentioned earlier, is a Lone Wolf hang-on stand and climbing sticks.  With this setup and I can scout a staging area with fresh sign and be set up and hunting in less than 20 minutes.  Often times this means the difference between success and failure.


Investing in a good light-weight setup like a Lone Wolf Alpha can pay dividends during the hunting season.  If you're not getting close enough for a shot in your current location, don't be afraid to move!  A wise bowhunter once said that the difference between a good stand and a great stand is sometimes less than 10 yards.

So if you find yourself in the position of seeing a lot of deer but not getting close enough for a shot, try moving your stand location and see what happens.  After all, the window of opportunity for most of us is relatively small.  Between weekends and a few “call in sick” days most of us only get to spend somewhere between 5 and 10 days in a stand while the hunting is good (end of October to mid November).  If you don’t do it now, you may be waiting until next year to wrap your tag around a nice set of whitetail antlers.

Hanging Deer Stands and Glassing for Velvet Bucks

by Cody Altizer 23. July 2011 15:24
Cody Altizer

This coming fall will be my seventh season bowhunting for whitetails, and I have learned quite a bit about the sport during that time, and still have a lot to learn.  One thing I have learned is that there are no certainties in the whitetail woods.  That being said, however, I have come to expect a peak in anticipation for the upcoming season during mid to late July, and this year is no different.  While the recent country wide heat wave will do it’s best to prove otherwise, I feel the onset of autumn more and more with each passing day.  Fortunately, I was able to spend a couple days on my property in Virginia last week prepping for the quickly approaching season.


I was excited about the possibility of pegging a potential shooter this fall while glassing a couple weeks.  Unfortunately, all I saw was does.  Maybe next time!

 My trip home was short lived, so I had to make the very most of time in the woods.  I arrived in Virginia during the middle of the afternoon on Wednesday the 13th, and immediately went glassing for bucks.  I have permission to glass and shoot photos on a neighboring property, so I made the quick drive down the road and set prepared to enjoy a hot summer afternoon.  The evening came and went with no bucks spotted.  I did, however, see 10-15 does feeding the hayfields I was glassing, but they were a good 300 yards away and I wasn’t able to snap any photos or record any video.  Alas, such is life!


I was able to snap a photo of this doe as she effortlessly jogged through the tall grass.  I was particularly offended by her taunting me by sticking her tongue out at me as she ran to safety.  Hopefully, this won't be a recurring theme this fall!

The next day, also my last day home, would be spent hanging stands.  I had 5 Lone Wolf stands I wanted to get hung, and was able to get all 5 of them hung in a day’s time.  I was pretty proud of myself, but I have been hunting this piece of property for what will be my 16th season, so I know my away around the woods pretty well.  Now, if I could just figure out how to kill these mountain bucks; but, I digress.  After I hung my stands and got my shooting lanes trimmed out, I wanted to check on my food plots.  If you have followed my blog and Bowhunt or Die episodes throughout the offseason, you know how excited I have been about a particular clover food plot and its impact on my hunting this coming fall.  Well, I must admit that the key to my success was taking a hit as of a week ago, and is likely in even worse shape as we speak.  July has been an abnormally hot and dry month in Virginia, and what was once a thick, green jungle of clover is quickly getting eaten to the ground by the deer and burnt up by the heat.  There is still a good bit of clover, and given the conditions it has provided a nutritious and consistent food source all summer, but it sure could use a drink of water!  You hear that Rain gods?  I am talking to you!


My Lone Wolf stand sitting in a tree between a bedding area and a clover food plot; how many more days until opening day?!

After an exhausting day hanging stands and looking over my food plots, I was anxious to get home and check the trail cameras I had placed over my Monster Raxx minerals.  To my disappointment, I only had shooter buck visit the minerals, but it looks as if he will be quite a dandy.  The photo was snapped in mid-June and he was already a main frame 10 with some junk around his bases and something funky growing on his right main beam.  I am hoping to get another picture of this buck and hopefully have the chance to put my tag on him this fall!

My clover went from this...

... to this, all in a matter of two months!  It really is amazing what a lack of rain can do to your food plots!

Unfortunately, my trip home was short lived.  I really had only one goal while I was home, and that was to get my stands hung without disturbing the deer too much; a goal I feel I accomplished.  I will be returning to Virginia in a few short weeks so I can begin work on my fall food plots.  Then after that, all that is left to do is continue shooting my Mathews and count down the days until the season starts.  I am sure I say this every year, but I have literally never been more excited about a hunting season than I am this one.  I can’t wait to document my entire season on video and through photography, so be sure to follow my blogs throughout the season.  God Bless and happy hunting everyone!


With a little over two months remaining until the opening day of Virginia's archery season, all I have left to do is a little food plotting, and a lot of dreaming, particularly of this big boy!  October 1st, October 1st...

Bowhunting Get Together a Huge Success

by Justin Zarr 24. June 2011 05:51
Justin Zarr

Building on the tradition of the past 2 years, the staff here at Bowhunting.com was extremely excited about our 3rd annual Get Together. Much like deer camp, this event has become an annual tradition that we all look forward to. Each year we dedicate quite a bit of our time and energy to making the event bigger and better than the year before and this was no exception.

As you may have read on Cody Altizer's blog, the event started for us on Friday June 10th with our Hunting Network staff meeting. Seeing as though many of our team members are located all over the country this is a great opportunity for everyone to get together and go over a few of the finer points that help make Bowhunting.com the finest bow hunting website in the world. We were also fortunate enough to have several of our Sponsors pay us a visit to inform everyone about their companies and their products.

The following day, June 11th, the official Get Together was held at Coon Creek Hunt Club in Garden Prairie, IL. This even is open to anyone who wants to come out and enjoy a day of good old fashioned fun. Which means if you haven't been to an event yet, you better be there next year!

We started the day off with getting everyone signed up and assigned to a team, then it was time to start shooting. As always we had numerous shooting events set up for everyone to participate in.


A group of shooters getting signed up the the day's events.


Yours truly giving some basic safety instructions before beginning the shoot.


The gang from Pine Ridge Archery making their way out to the course.

Thanks to our friends at Rinehart Targets, our 3-D course was better than ever! We had a dozen new archery targets that were in tip-top shape which made both scoring and arrow removal inifinitely better than in previous years. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of shooting a course with Rinehart targets I highly recommend you do so as soon as possible. Having shot at just about every 3-D target on the market I can unquestionably say these targets are the best. In fact, we threw awal all of our non-Rinehart targets simply because they had fallen apart to the point they were unusable.


And you thought a wounded bear was dangerous?  Here Steve Flores finds out what happens when you don't put a Velociraptor down on the first shot!


A great shot of an arrow in flight, courtesy of Jason McKee.


Clinton Fawcett taking aim with his Z7 Xtreme Tactical on the practice range.


Jared Schlipf from Lone Wolf Treestands showing off his perfect shot on the elk from 60 yards.  Luck, or is he just that good?


A group of shooters tallying up their scores after shooting at the 30 point buck.

When all of the scores were tallied up it was 1st time attendee Tony Platt who went home with the 1st place trophy. Pro Staff members Dean Krueger and Dustin DeCroo came in 2nd and 3rd place respectibly.

Our long distance shoot for this year was set at roughly 70 yards, which made it pretty challenging for a lot of our shooters. Personally speaking I only have pins out to 50 yards for my bowhunting needs so it was an "aim high and pray" moment! Although my long range skills weren't very impressive, some of our shooters were remarkably accurate. In the end it was none other than Jared Schlipf, President of Lone Wolf Treestands, who went home with the RhinoBlock target for this long range accuracy. Nice shooting Jared!


John Mueller taking aim at the Rinehart RhinoBlock.  How far is that again?


Jared showing us how long distance shooting should be done.

In the Iron Buck Challenge we had quite the competition this year. In the end, after some fancy one-foot shooting and quite a few busted arrows it was Forum member Steve Renner (Dawg007) who went home with the $100 cash prize. Congrats Steve!


"Rusty" certainly claimed his fair share of arrows over the course of his two days spent in Illinois.


Todd with the lucky winner of the Iron Buck Challenge.

We also had the 5 target pop-up 3D Challenge back again as well. Although Dustin and I both turned in scores of 56 out of 60 on multiple occassions, it was the shoot operator Mark Wagner who turned in a perfect score of 60/60 to take top honors. I'm calling an unfair home-field advantage on this one, but it was good shooting regardless!

The big winner of the day was long-time Bowhunting.com friend, supporter and target-builder Dan Richardson (aka bloodcrik) who went home with a brand new Mathews z7 Xtreme. Congrats to Dan, he definitely deserved it! Dan already has his new bow set up and shooting great - check out his Forum post here.

Our friends at Lone Wolf donated a new Alpha Hang-On II treestand to our raffle, which was won by our friend Ryan Culvey. I know he's extremely excited to get that stand hung before October rolls around. I have to admit that I'm a little jealous of Ryan. Even I don't have a new Lone Wolf stand yet!

A big extended THANK YOU goes to all of our Sponsors who attended the event and donated prizes for the raffle! That includes Mathews, Lone Wolf, New Archery Products, Tink's, Monster Raxx, Pine Ridge Archery, Rinehart Targets and Rut Junkie Apparel.

All in all, the day was a huge success with over 90 of our best bowhunting friends in attendance. Everyone had a great day of shooting, hanging out with good friends, and enjoying the great outdoors. We can't thank you all enough for coming out and we're hoping to see you all again next year!

 
We'll be ready for next year.  Will you?

 

2011 Hunting Network Sponsor's Meeting

by Cody Altizer 10. June 2011 17:07
Cody Altizer

It’s the eve of the 3rd Annual Bowhunting.com Get Together and Fun Shoot, and the Bowhunting.com team wasted little time in kicking off the festivities.  We started what is sure to be a fun weekend with a meeting with 5 of our finest sponsors, Lone Wolf Portable Treestands, New Archery Products, Pine Ridge Archery, Monster Raxx and Tink’s .  We spent a great afternoon reviewing some of the great new products our sponsors have brought to the market for 2011, while catching up with our fellow teammates and telling lies over a delicious dinner.  
Terry Rohm from Tink's started the meeting off by discussing the power of their new attraction lure, Magnetics Buck Attractant.  This synthetic blend was formulated to play on a buck's seasonal senses and exploit his weaknesses.  This product is sure to help a lot of hunters dupe old, mature bucks this fall.  

Terry Rohm of Tink's got the meeting started off by discussing the attractiveness of their new buck lure, Magnetics.  

Jason McKee of New Archery Products (NAP) was up next and he introduced the new Apache bow sling.  Like the other Apache products from NAP, the Apache bow sling is quiet, lightweight and aids in hunter effeciency.  

Jason McKee from NAP going over the features of the new Apache Bow Sling.  

Tom Lester then took the stage to highlight the benefits your deer herd can gain from feeding them Monster Raxx deer minerals.  

Tom Lester going over the benefits of Monster Raxx deer minerals.  

Jim Broberg from Pine Ridge Archery then took the time to highlight the many deer hunting accessories provided by Pine Ridge Archery that make hunters more successful in the field. 

Jim Broberg from Pine Ridge Archery discussing some Pine Ridge Archery accessories that promise to make you a better hunter.

Jared Schlipf rounded out the meeting by highlighting the new features on the Lone Wold Assault II from Lone Wolf Portable Treestands.  The Assault II is proudly made in the USA and sports all of the same lightweight, stealthy construction that hunters have come to expect from Lone Wolf.  

Jared Schlipf talking over the new Assault II from Lone Wolf Portable Treestands.

Lone Wolf Treestands - Back in the USA

by John Mueller 17. January 2011 12:25
John Mueller

The title and this poster pretty much says it all. Lone Wolf Tree Stands are once again 100% made in the USA. To say they learned their lesson by shipping production outside the US would be and understatement. I was assured at their booth, that will never happen again. It wasn't easy but the company did survive the disaster of 2010. And they have made some nice improvements to their stands for 2011. Those of you who were unable to get one of their stands last year. Rest assured they will be on store shelves everywhere again this year. The guys at Lone Wolf just hope you will trust them again to produce a quality product and buy their stands with confidance.

They are hoping this symbol will once again mean the top of the food chain when it comes to tree stands.

They did a complete remake of the cast platform and in the process improved the built in bowholder. They incorporated a cast hook into the platform that catches in the cam of your bow, holding it directly out in front of you at arms length. No reaching around the side to take your bow off the holder screwed into the tree. This holder was designed to work especially well with todays parallel limb bows.

Three different styles of stand make up the Lone Wolf line up. This includes the hang on shown above with the bow in the holder, the sit and climb immidiately below and the hand climber in the bottom photo. All of the Lone Wolf stands are some of the lightest in the industry and pack extremely small for transporting through the woods. Lone Wolf also makes a great set of climbing sticks that stack neatly together and attach to the hang on stand for packing in.

The guys at Lone Wolf hope you can forgive them for the mistakes of last year in an ever more competitive industry and give them another chance. They really have learned their lesson on what it takes to produce a quality product. Instead of being made 6000 miles around the globe, they are now produced in their own backyard, 6 miles from the company headquarters in Peoria, Illinois  USA. A real hometown made product. I believe the new model is even better than the previous ones with the new bow holder.

Bowhunting Success Requires Adaptability

by Cody Altizer 27. September 2010 10:24
Cody Altizer

   For the second straight weekend, Todd Graf and I headed north to Wisconsin in hopes of connecting on an early season whitetail on film.  For the second straight weekend, we worked our tails off to tip the odds in our favor of doing so.  Unlike last weekend, however, we came back to Illinois with a mature doe to our credit.  The harvest of Todd’s early season doe is a testament to two things: less than ideal hunting conditions, but more importantly, our ability to adapt.
    Success in hunting, like success in life in general, is directly correlated between one’s ability to adapt to adverse conditions.  Before the season begins, we as bowhunters have grand plans of tagging an unsuspecting buck that we feel we have patterned all summer.  As opening day approaches, we think to ourselves, “I just need that typical early season wind, a cool afternoon, and that buck is mine!”  While this may be this case for some hunters across the land, this does not describe me and Todd’s first two weekends of the season.  We were faced with problematic Northeast winds and a true ignorance to the deer’s early season patterns.  Nevertheless, we adjusted to the circumstances by being mobile and willing to put in a little extra time and effort.  Here is a quick rundown of techniques that helped put Todd and I on some early season deer.

Click here to see the footage of Todd's Wisconsin Doe Harvest

Trail Cameras

By now most hunters know trail cameras can be an important scouting tool when used correctly.  They key word is, correctly.  By quickly accessing and monitoring trail cameras you can gain a better understanding of the deer movement. Todd and I relied on his Reconyx, Bushnell and Cam Trakker trail cameras to better determine which areas were void of deer, and which were worthy of a hunt.  When deploying or checking trail cameras, it is critical to be as scent free as possible and leave the area completely unmolested as possible.  This means wearing rubber boots and/or rubber gloves and avoid touching any trees or lower level vegetation.  The slightest foreign odor in a deer’s home range can tip them off to your presence thus drastically decreasing your chances.   Keep unfamiliar noise to a minimum as well.  Treat trail camera trips just as you would an actual hunting trip.  Whisper if you are hunting with a partner, walk on matted leaves or grass if possible and don’t make any unnecessary noise.  Be as quiet as possible.  Conversely, when Todd and I checked our trail cameras we left the pickup truck running because the areas we were hunting were close to major roadways.  The deer in these areas are accustomed to traffic noise and paid little attention to a running automobile.  Remember, it is important to recognize your hunting scenarios and adapt accordingly.

Monitoring trail cameras revealed to Todd which areas we should focus our efforts on.  Trail cameras are a great scouting tool when used correctly.

Mobility

    Being flexible when it comes to our hunting spots played a key role in Todd harvesting his doe.  During our 4 combined days in Wisconsin we hung multiple stand locations for various winds giving ourselves the most options possible depending on several hunting related factors including weather, food availability (both agricultural natural crops), wind direction and trail camera intel.  We cashed in on food availability by finding a nice pinch point loaded with acorns.   Being a mobile hunter is not a style that is appealing or suitable for everyone.  It requires a lot of extra time and energy taking down and hanging new sets.  Portable, lightweight tree stands, like those from Lone Wolf, Muddy Outdoors or Gorilla are ideal as are the sticks provided by those manufacturers.  These stands are extremely light weight, portable and easy to carry in and out of the woods.  Being mobile also requires the use of a good pruning saw, like the Hooyman, to quickly trim shooting lanes and clean out the trees you want to hunt.  Again, being a mobile hunter requires extra effort; this may mean getting up an hour earlier in the morning to hang a stand in the dark or hanging a set at lunch and hunting that area the rest of the afternoon.  It can be tiring, but it can definitely be worth it.

Hanging new stands requires diligence and extra effort, but it can also be a deadly tactic when bowhunting whitetails.

Intuition


    Last and certainly not least, Todd and I relied on our intuition in harvesting a mature doe on film.  Preparing for our fifth hunt together, we were really unsure which stand we were going to hunt.  We settled down, looked at the wind, discussed food sources and quickly decided that acorns were our best bet for an afternoon hunt.  By developing a sound game plan based on our hunting intuition we felt confident and hopeful heading to the stand Sunday afternoon.  Trust your instincts, like Todd and I did, develop a sound game plan and you will find yourself feeling more confident in your hunting spots.

Conclusion


    Sure, Todd didn’t harvest a “Booner” this past weekend in Wisconsin, but we did come back with some cool footage and meat in the freezer.  We were faced with a little early season struggle but we adapted and succeeded.  Hopefully, our success this past weekend provided you with a blueprint of how to adapt and make the most of your given hunting scenario.  With October right around the corner, we are all sure to be experiencing some great hunting soon!

Todd and I with his 2010 early season Wisconsin doe.

ATA Show Day 1 Impressions

by Justin Zarr 8. January 2009 15:30
Justin Zarr

The first day of the 2009 ATA show once again brought a lot of anticipation to see what new products would be hitting the market for this year.  The entire Bowhunting.com staff is here in attendance, checking in on the latest gear and bringing you the most up to date info on what's happening in the archery world.

One of the first products that caught my eye is the Universal Bow Rope Holder from Pine Ridge Archery.  As simple as this product is, I personally think it's a great it.  Basically, the holder screws onto your treestand, either a lock-on or a climber, and includes a hoist rope that can be used to pull up your bow, pack, or other gear you may have in th field with you.  As someone who hangs and hunts from quite a few treestands during the season I think this is a great product.  I fully intend on putting one of these on every stand I have, just to make sure I always have a bow rope handy when I need one.  There's nothing worse, or more unsafe, than trying to climb up into your stand with your bow in your hand.

The new Fusion vane from Norway Industries also caught my eye today.  One of the hottest new products of this year's show, this vane features a stiff, durable material in a shield cut vane for optimal broadhead flight, fused with a softer, more pliable base for better adhesion to your shafts and more flexibility in case your fletchings do contact anything on the way towards your target.  I picked up a sample of these vanes and plan on fletching up a few arrows next week in preparation for our indoor shooting leagues which start soon.

I forgot to snap photos at the Duravanes booth, but did find this video on YouTube the other day.  It gives a pretty good explanation of what these vanes are all about. 

 

Another cool product Todd and I saw was the Timber Tread.  Essentially, this rugged step slips over and attaches to your screw-in treestep to offer a larger and more stable platform when climbing and/or decending your tree.  This step accessory helps grip your boot sole more securely and prevent slipping in wet or cold weather.  The Timber Tread is 3.5 inches wide and 4.5 inches long and works great for both lock-on type stands as well as tree saddles.

New for 2009, Lone Wolf now offers a wider version of their popular Sit & Climb stand, which is 3 inches wider than the standard version.  This larger version is more accomodating for larger hunters, or for those cold weather hunts when you've got a few extra inches of clothing on.

New Archery Products released several new broadheads this year, one of which is the Bloodrunner.  This rearward-opening expandable broadhead features a 1" cutting diameter when in flight, and opens to a full 1.5" cutting diameter on impact without losing any kinetic energy or penetrating power.  This looks like a super durable head that can withstand just about anything, and will penetrate extremely well.  I'm personally looking forward to testing them out soon!

Muddy Outdoors has released a new set of climbing sticks that feature a buckle-less fastening system that is completely silent both in transport and when attaching to your tree.  Simply slide the climbing-grade rope into the cam locks, pull it tight, and tie it off and you're up your tree in seconds.  These new climbing sticks also feature dual steps that work in tandem to support your weight while climbing, and offer a greater range of flexibility when climbing those crooked trees, or ones with a lot of limbs.  The new climbing sticks also pack down tightly and attach to the Muddy Outdoors treestands for lightweight, easy transportation.

New from Scent Blocker for this year is the Bone Collector line of apparel and boots.  Based around the new TV show of the same name staring noted personality Michael Waddel, the Freak Nasty Jacket features both activated carbon and S3 technology to eliminate and prevent odors, along with a neat silent wrist fastening system for securing the cuffs.  Thank you for not using velcro!!!  The jacket also has 6 roomy front pockets, 2 rear pockets, and accepts a fleece zip-in vest for colder days.  This is a great looking jacket that I'm eager to test out come next fall.

 

To wrap up Day 1, the Huntmore 360* stool is finally ready for production and will be available in stores shortly.  This compact stool weighs a mere 9 pounds, folds down quickly and quietly and stores in the included bag, and is perfect for ground blind hunting.  The feet have been enlarged for this year to make it more stable even on wet ground, and the patented cast aluminum hub system makes this stool extremely strong and deadly quiet.  When it comes to hunting out of a ground blind, or from the ground in general, there is no better stool than the Huntmore 360.  As soon as they're available to the public, you can bet I'll have one!

I'll make sure to update the site tomorrow night with more products and I learn about them, so check back tomorrow night!  

Whitetail Hunting in December

by Justin Zarr 16. December 2008 13:15
Justin Zarr

Despite my recent close encounter with a nice buck here at home my confidence was still pretty low in my hunting spots.  Late season seems like it's always hit or miss and given my trend of misses lately I figured it was time for a change.  So I packed my truck and headed down to West Central Illinois for another shot at some of the bucks Mike and I had seen back in November.  With nobody pressuring our hunting spot since we left last month I was hopeful that a few bucks may have called this place home in order to avoid the firearms hunters that no doubt invaded the countryside recently.

That first morning I headed for a tree that Mike and I hunted earlier this fall, close to where I missed my one shot at a mature buck so far this year. After hanging my Lone Wolf climbing sticks and Lone Wolf Alpha Assault treestand before light I got settled in for my Saturday morning hunt.  Having a lightweight setup like this Lone Wolf gear is essential for hunting this way as it affords me the ability to move around from spot to spot quickly without moving bulky climbing ladders or screw-in steps that take forever to set up.  Temperatures were mild, in the mid 30's, this morning with strong South winds.  Fortunately given the terrain in this part of the state I was able to get down into a ravine and out of most of it.  I was set up right on top of a good bedding area, hoping to catch these bucks coming back from their nightly feeding areas.  Again, a lot of guys would avoid these types of spots in fear of spooking deer but with a limited amount of time to hunt and knowing the deer were pressured less than a week ago with firearms season, I know they wouldn't be moving much and my best chance was to get as close as possible to them.

Shortly after I got settled into my stand I glanced over my shoulder and saw a buck headed my way.  I immediately stood up and grabbed my bow before taking a better look at the buck.  As fate would have it, this nice 2 1/2 year old just wasn't what I was looking for and as he made his way past me at a mere 12 yards and gave my every opportunity to shoot him, I just couldn't do it.  I would rather eat both of my tags than shoot a deer I'm not going to be happy with so I watched him meander off further into the ravine, looking for a spot to lay down out of the wind.


I believe this is the buck that I passed on, although since this photo was taken last month he appears to have broken off his right G3 as well.  A nice buck, but just not the one I'm after. This particular photo was taken with a Moultrie I-40 trail camera which is one of our top sellers and has a great flash range and amazing battery life.

Later that morning I did spot a better buck working his way up the ravine from me, however either he didn't hear my grunts in the wind or didn't care as he eventually worked his way over the hill along with a 1 1/2 year old buck.  Then shortly before I was set to climb down for the morning I spotted two does running over the hill away from me. As I was wondering why they were running I spotted a beautiful blonde coyote that came running almost to the base of my tree, but spooked off before I could get a shot at him.  Even as I climbed down that morning I knew I made the right decision to head back to this spot as the deer were still in there and moving during daylight.

The evening hunt was rather unproductive as I only spotted 4 does far off in the distance and that was all.  I was set up near a CRP field that held a lot of deer earlier this fall, but I have a feeling after the pressure of firearms season they are sticking more towards the thick security cover and out of the open areas until well after dark.


At least the cool sunset gave me somthing to look at since I wasn't seeing any deer!

A new piece of gear I tried out for the first time on this evening hunt was my Lone Wolf Foot Rest, which I recently installed on one of my hang-on stands.  It took me about 10 minutes to drill some holes into the platform and install the rests, and I'm glad I did!  I only sat for about 3 hours this evening but they definitely made it a more comfortable sit, that's for sure.  I'm planning on installing more foot rests on all of my stands during the off season in preparation for those longer all-day sits next November.  If you're looking for a cheap and easy way to make your Lone Wolf stand more comfortable, check these out.  We have them in stock and ready to ship here at Bowhunting.com for only $17.95 and there's still time to get them before Christmas! Click here to get yours.

Sunday morning was my last hunt of the weekend as I wanted to get home early on Sunday and keep the wife happy.  (I'm sure many of you can relate!)  I headed back into the same stand from the morning before and with 55 degree temperatures I worked up quite the sweat!  Once again not long after daylight I had another nice 2 1/2 year old buck working up the ravine towards me, however this one got downwind of me before he came into range and headed for the next county in the blink of an eye.  The funny part is that during our November hunts we had deer downwind of us all the time and none of them reacted as badly as this buck.  I guess it just goes to show what a lot of pressure will do to your deer!

An hour or so later I had two small 1 1/2 year old bucks come by and I was able to snap a few photos of the closer one as he crossed 20 yards behind my stand and made his way into the bedding area.

I sat until about 9:30 this morning before calling it quits for the weekend and climbing down.  On my way out of the woods I put out my new Cuddeback Capture IR trail camera.  This is a brand new camera that was just released in the last few weeks and is an infrared version of the popular Cuddeback Capture that was released this fall.  I've had great success so far with my two regular Capture cameras, so I'm hoping to continue with this one.  Unlike the standard Capture the IR version is 5.0 megapixels during the day (standard Capture is 3.0) but only 1.3 megapixels at night with the infrared flash.  My only worry is that the flash range is only rated for 25 feet, which is pretty close.  For this reason I purposely kept the camera close to the area I'm hoping to monitor which is a well-used trail that connects two good bedding areas.  If you'd like to pick up a new Cuddeback Capture IR we have them in stock and ready to ship here at Bowhunting.com.  At $229.99 they seem like a great camera with a lot of great features.  Click here to purchase yours.

When Mike and I return in two weeks to hunt after Christmas I will hopefully have some images to share with everyone.  My hope is that a few of the bucks from our November hit list are still around including Big Rob, Stickers, Dope Ear, Lieutenant Dan, Curious George the 2 1/2 year old buck we each passed numerous times that we couldn't get away from!  I feel good about our chances of connecting on a buck before the season is over, and with 2 1/2 days to get it done I think we could end the season in good fashion if we play our cards right.


The new Cuddeback Capture IR digital trail camera.  Will it perform as well as the standard Capture?  We'll find out in two weeks!

Adam Hays Shoots the "Moose" Buck!

by Bowhunting.com Staff 19. November 2008 11:34
Bowhunting.com Staff
Congratulations o Adam Hays of Whitetail Addictions TV on harvesting yet another awesome whitetail with his bow.  Adam has proven himself year in and year out to be a big buck magnet and has harvested more giant whitetails with his bow than many of us will ever see in a lifetime of bowhunting.  Here is the story it was told on the Whitetail Addictions TV website:
"After dreaming about getting a shot at Moose for 3 long years, it finally happened on October 28th.  I went out at 1 pm to hunt a stand for the remainder of the day but when I got there the wind had shifted. I decided to go check a couple of my Predator trailcams and after checking the first one, Moose had been right there 20 minutes earlier. He was in a 9 acre patch of some of the thickest stuff you can imagine. Figuring he would be in there till dark, I quickly returned to my truck, got ready, and headed in. I saw a half dozen does by 5:30 and they were all acting very nervous, I'm sure he had been bumping them around all day. At 5:45, Moose came in browsing through the thicket. After filming him for 3 minutes he finally moved through a small opening at 18 yards. Although the shot looked good, the sign on my arrow didn't. I backed out and took up the trail in the morning, he had only gone about 60 yards.
He has 19 scorable points with his longest tine busted off. My best guess is the tine was close to 14" long. After a very quick scoring job, we came up with about 190."
Congrats again to Adam on this fine buck.  We are looking forward to the full story on the next season of Lone Wolf's Whitetail Addictions TV show.  For more info please visit www.lonewolftv.com

Categories: Current News



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