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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!

A Bowhunting Offseason Begins- Food Plots and Shed Hunting!

by Todd Graf 22. February 2011 04:43
Todd Graf

  The offseason has officially begun for this Illinois bowhunter, but that doesn’t mean that I am kicking back and taking it easy.  In fact, I am as busy now as I am during the fall chasing mature bucks!  But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  A lot of exciting times are ahead for bowhunting.com and our entire Hunting Network, and I can wait to see how 2011 unfolds!

My little man, Craig, and our dog, Drake doing a little February shed hunting.  They each found sheds and I wasn't able to find a single one!  Hopefully my luck will change sooner rather than later.

In the midst of preparing for the Illinois and Wisconsin Deer Classics, I am particularly anxious waiting for the arrival of my new Mathews bow.  I am counting down the days until my Mathews Monster shows up at the bowhunting.com office, and I can’t wait to get it setup and start shooting.  I haven’t gotten a new bow for several years, so I am like a little kid on Christmas Eve waiting for my new Monster.  The Monster is one of Mathew’s fastest bows, and if you are a speed guy like I am, I encourage you to look up the Monster on Mathew’s website.  While you are at it, be sure to look at their new Z Series family of bows as well!

Not a single kernel of corn left!

Now is the perfect time to start planning for your 2011 hunting season, and I am in the process of looking for new acreage to hunt.  I am a firm believer in having multiple properties to hunt throughout the course of the season.  This allows you to keep your properties fresh for an entire season and prevents you from educating the deer too badly thus making the deer “easier” to hunt.  My search for new land is in its infant stages and there are several resources available to the hunter who is willing to dig deep enough for the right information, however, I have had TREMENDOUS success already with nationalhuntingleases.com.  If you are looking for new hunting ground for the 2011 hunting season, check them out on their website!

A shot of one my turnip plots that backs right up against one of my corn plots.  The deer are really hitting these plots hard!

Despite the craziness of trying to find a new hunting lease, patiently (or more like Impatiently) waiting for my new bow, and preparing for the upcoming Illinois and Wisconsin Deer Classics, I managed to sneak out to my property with my son, Craig, to do a little scouting and shed hunting.  The hard work I put in during the late summer on my turnip plots is definitely paying off because the deer are really hitting these particular plots hard!  Spring is just around the corner, and now is the perfect time to start planning for this year’s food plots and giving your deer some added nutrition!  I also learned something about food plots; you can’t plant too much corn!  I made an assertive effort to establish and maintain quality corn plots to give the deer a food source rich in carbohydrates for the rough Northern Illinois winters, but I couldn’t find a single kernel left.  They really cleaned up my corn this year!

The deer are pawing through the snow to get to my turnip plots.  It feels good to know that I have a sustainable food source on my property this late in the winter.

I was, however, pleased with how well my native grasses were doing even after heavy snowfall and bitter cold temperatures.  Even in late February they are still providing excellent cover, and I even found several beds on the South facing slopes just like I thought I would!  It feels good when all the hard work and planning in land management comes together and it feels even better when you can see the deer are benefitting from your work.

My Native Grasses are doing especially well despite the heavy snow fall.  In this particular stand, I found several fresh beds that tell me the deer are still bedding in the grasses, which is a great sign.  I can't wait to see how these grasses take off this Spring and Summer!

After investigating my food plots and admiring the work of my Native Grasses, my little man Craig and I tried our luck at a little shed hunting.  When it was all said and done Craig had found two sheds, my dog Drake had found one, and yours truly had found zero.  That’s right; this dedicated bowhunter got skunked by a dog and a first grader when looking for antlers.  Hopefully, I’ll have a little better luck at finding antlers this fall than I’ve had this winter!  Nevertheless, it was fun to get and enjoy the outdoors with my son and no matter how busy I am, I will always make time for that.

I hope you guys are as excited about this year as I am, I can hardly sit still I am so anxious about the opportunities and changes that are going to be happening in the coming months!  With the snow melting, it’s time to continue looking for sheds and start thinking food plots.  Turkey hunters, it is almost time for you to get out there and starting chasing those Toms!  Bring on the warmer weather!

 




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