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Food Plot 101

by Jordan Howell 23. April 2012 10:52
Jordan Howell

One of the hottest topics in the hunting industry today is Food Plots.  Some hunters will argue that they are absolutely necessary to kill big bucks; others will say you don't need them.  Despite the fact that there is no magical big buck potion, food plots definitely have their place in deer management and can drastically increase a hunter's success….IF they are done right.  For a bowhunter who may be a novice when it comes to food plots, trying to figure out everything on your own can be a nightmare.  For example, what to plant, where to plant, and the never ending when, how, and why’s associated with growing food plots can drive a person crazy. Quite often, these are questions many landowners and managers don't have answers to. As a result, many guess or take the advice of friends.  This trial and error method produces mixed results because not everything works in every situation. Hunters also have many misconceptions about food plots; such as you must have access to large equipment to be successful. This isn't true in most cases.  The only thing a hunter really needs is a determined attitude and the patience to do things right. So, if you happen to be one of the many bowhunters who have wanted to start your very own food plot, but didn’t because you thought you couldn’t do it for one reason or another----then this article is for you. Let’s begin with the basics....the EXTREME basics.

Establishing an intimate knowledge of your hunting area will go a long way toward reaching your management goals

It has been said that you must have long term goals to prevent frustration with short term failures. This is definitely true when it comes to habitat management.  Planning and forethought on the part of the hunter will have an immeasurable effect on the success of his/her food plots.  Because every piece of property is different, there is no food plot strategy that works for everyone. In order to be successful, one must carefully examine the needs and capabilities of his/her particular property before starting. The first question a hunter must ask himself is WHY do you want a food plot?  Is it to attract more deer to your property, or perhaps grow bigger bucks? Maybe it is to hold deer on your property by providing them with added nutrition. Before you plant the first seed, take a minute and write down what your short term and long term goals for the property are. This will help determine the starting point for your management plan because not all hunters want the same things, or can realistically achieve the same goals. For example, in the Southeastern part of the country, growing a “Booner  Buck” is not exactly an attainable goal. Many hunters in that region would be happy to simply see more deer while they are hunting. When it comes to your own wants and needs, think about what it is you ultimately wish to accomplish on your property.  Then, evaluate what your property's current short term and long term potential is; writing down its strengths and weaknesses. This will help you come up with a list of goals for the management of the property. 


Mineral Sites are an excellent means for not only attracting deer, but also helping bucks maximize their antler potential.

Once you have determined your goals, you can begin formulating a plan to carry them out.  The first thing that I like to do on a property is find out what kind of deer herd I am dealing with.  Although walking the property will give me clues about terrain, available forage, cover etc, there is no way I can accurately inventory the deer herd on a farm without added help.  One of the best tools for helping you do this is a good trail camera.  It will serve as your eyes in the woods….24 hours a day. When selecting a site to place a camera, I always pick an area where I can monitor and check it with minimal pressure to the local deer. This means placing my camera on the fringes of the property; places I can easily drive to or get very close to with my truck, thus minimizing the amount of human scent I leave in the area. This is a key step because the less intrusion I make, the more apt the deer will be to use the area. If placing minerals or attractants is not legal in your state, then pick a location that gets a lot of natural traffic, such as water holes, openings in fences, or where fence-rows meet the woods.  If putting out attractants is legal in your area, then by all means do so. This will increase the number of deer images you capture on your camera. Putting out minerals is also the easiest and cheapest way to establish deer numbers and develop a management plan on your property.  After that, the only decision you will have to make is do you want to simply attract more deer to your property or are you interested in growing bigger and healthier deer?  I know that is a simple question, but remember, we're taking baby steps here. If pure attraction is what you want out of your property, then a product such as Monster Raxx's Whitetail Magnet will work great.  It is a highly concentrated oil based attractant and deer find the sweet smell irresistible. On the other hand, if you want to attract deer, while at the same time, benefit them nutritionally, a product such as Monster Raxx's Trophy Minerals would be a suitable choice. This particular product still has some salt to attract deer, but has many different macro and trace minerals that will help with antler production and doe lactation which will lead to healthier fawns.  Mineral sites serve several roles to a hunter/ land manager. In addition to immediately attracting deer to your area and providing them with a nutritional boost, they help you inventory and keep track of your deer herd by documenting each visitor to the site. Plus they require very little effort on the hunter's part. I can't think of a product that gives a hunter more bang for his buck! 

 This plot was selected to be a "kill plot" inorder to intercept cruising bucks during the rut.

Once you have completed your mineral site setup, you can then begin to evaluate your property's food plot potential. The most important thing to remember is that without a clear picture of what your farm needs or what the conditions are, no one can offer a “catch-all” solution that will work.  The number one reason for food plot failure is improper site and/or forage selection. I cringe when I hear a plethora of different answers to questions regarding “what to plant” or “what to do” to improve a particular plot. While suggestions such as plant clover, plant beans, or add lime CAN be good, first and foremost, site selection and “plot purpose” must be taken into consideration. 
For example, currently I am working on a new plot on a piece of property that presents some unique challenges. I have hunted this particular farm for seven seasons. The entire southwestern corner of the property is roughly made up of 20 acre’s of impenetrable thicket; so thick that I can’t walk through it, much less hunt it.  The northeast section of this farm contains a swamp and holds a lot of deer.  The deer feed to the south in large agricultural fields. The swamp is the sanctuary on the property, so I don't hunt there. The center of the farm has little timber and is difficult to hunt.  I have put in a couple of plots in the center to provide late season forage for the deer.  This year I have decided to utilize the thicket that I haven’t been able to do anything with. 

 Treestand view from the "kill plot".

I have basically cleared out a section of the thicket where several trails crisscross and planted about a 1/3 acre “kill plot” in this section. I plan to utilize this particular area during the rut when I hope to capitalize on bucks cruising from North to South in search of does.  The addition of a plot surrounded by security cover will give wary bucks a spot to stop briefly and scent check for a receptive mate. Also, access to this location is perfect. With a North or Northeast wind I will be able to walk up the tree-line to the west and climb into the stand without alerting any deer to my presence. I cannot stress enough the importance of a covert access when hunting a food plot, or anywhere for that matter.  A good spot with perfect access is better than a great spot with bad access. If the deer know you are hunting them the greenest plot in the world won't do you any good. Once you have selected a location, you must decide on what type of forage to plant. Before doing this please remember to do one thing……A SOIL TEST!  This information will prove to be invaluable.  Not only will it provide you with soil PH, it will tell you soil type and nutrient levels as well. This will help you determine what kind of plot will grow the best on your land. 

After a site has been selected for your new food plot, it is vital to conduct a soil sample test.

In the case of the new plot on my farm, the soil test indicated my PH was low, and the soil was sandy, but organic matter was high. This is fairly typical of plots in the woods that have never been cultivated.  I wanted a clover plot, but typically clovers do better in heavier soils because they need a good amount of moisture. Based on the information in my soil test, I decided on a blend of annual clovers and brassicas, as well as alfalfa and chicory. I want a plot that will have peak attractiveness during the rut; when I plan to hunt it. The clovers and brassicas will provide that attractiveness, while the alfalfa's large roots will help hold moisture that the soil won’t; which allows the clover to attach to and utilize the water in its root system.
There are forages that would be easier to establish, but again I want peak attraction to be late October through November. The annual clovers will provide a quick green-up and will give the plot attractiveness while the lime builds up in the soil to raise the PH. Once the PH reaches 6.5, hopefully by next year, then I will plant a perennial. 

Success is failure turned inside out.  No matter what your goals are for a property, careful planning will make all the difference in the success of your food plots.  It isn't rocket science by any means, and anyone who wants to do it can.  All it takes is effort, determination, and creativity.  Just remember that to reach a destination, you must first know where you are going.  Make a list of management goals for your property, stick to them, and don't cut any corners achieving them.  If done correctly, food plots will be another deadly weapon in your arsenal of tactics. In my next article we will discuss soil testing a little more in-depth and move forward with the over-all food plot construction.

Coyotes Prey Heavily on Southeast’s Deer Fawns

by Patrick Durkin 19. April 2012 08:46
Patrick Durkin

SANDESTIN, Fla. – If you’re a Great Lakes States bowhunter who blames every apparent deer shortage on predators, be thankful you don’t hunt parts of the Southeastern United States. Coyotes in some Southeastern regions prey so heavily on newborn whitetails that less than one in five fawns lives four months.

And if you’re a Great Lakes wildlife biologist discussing predators with your colleagues, ask yourself the last time one of them told you to “Get with it!” or “Get your head out of (long pause) the sand” in public.

Well, many wildlife managers talked that way a few weeks ago at the 35th annual Southeast Deer Study Group meeting, which attracted about 325 deer biologists and researchers from universities, wildlife agencies, and timber companies across the South and northward. I’ve been attending this annual gathering since 1991 because it’s a great source for the latest research on white-tailed deer.

In some parts of the whitetail's Southeastern range, many fawns don’t live to see their third month.

At a forum I attended one night, a speaker asked the audience if coyotes were having significant impacts in their areas. About half the wildlife pros raised their hands. Minutes later, John Kilgo, a wildlife researcher with the USDA Forest Service in South Carolina said:

“My guess is that the skeptics haven’t yet seen places that once had deer but don’t anymore. The data we collected at the Savannah River Site (South Carolina) showed it took a 75 percent harvest reduction by hunters to level the population decline. Also, preliminary research doesn’t show much promise for mitigating coyote impacts on deer by improving and expanding fawning cover, or increasing buffer foods.”

Ten years ago, most Southeastern biologists never thought they’d be worrying about coyotes, which aren’t native to the region. But as coyotes moved in the past 30 years, they adapted, reproduced, and learned newborn fawns were easy prey.

Coyotes can kill deer in winter, but do most of their predation when fawns are less than a week old.

“Coyotes are increasing at rates that remind me of what our deer herds did in the 1980s and ’90s,” said Dr. Charles Ruth, deer project supervisor for South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources. “When I talked to folks 10 years ago, I often said if I could get my foot on our deer herd, I would pull out my knife. Well, I’m kind of having to chill out on that approach.”

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of predator-deer impacts is their wide variability within regions and states. When Kilgo reviewed pre-2005 predation studies across the United States, he found coyote-inflicted mortality on deer averaged 16 percent in Northern states and 44 percent in Southern states.

Black bears killed more fawns than coyotes did in a Wisconsin study.

“The North’s highest mortality rate was 38 percent,” he said. “That doesn’t even reach the South’s average,” he said.

But it’s not consistent across the South, either. A 2008-2011 study on northern Virginia’s Quantico Marine Corps base found 60 percent of fawns lived past three months, and more died of natural causes, 53 percent, than predation, 18 percent.

But in 2011, in the first year of a study at the Fort Bragg Military Institution in North Carolina, researchers reported only five of 27 fawns (18.5 percent) survived their first four months, with 15 of the 22 dead fawns (68 percent) killed by coyotes or bobcats.

How do those studies compare to similar research by the Wisconsin DNR? To refresh, one study site is a 3,500-square mile Northern-forest setting in Sawyer, Price and Rusk counties. The other is a 2,300-square mile east-central farmland setting in Shawano, Waupaca and Outagamie counties.

A Michigan study is finding coyotes to be the whitetail's No. 1 predation risk.

During the first year (2011) of Wisconsin’s Northern study, 27 percent of ID-tagged fawns (eight of 30) survived seven months, with 17 of 30 (57 percent) killed by predators. Five others died of starvation or other causes. The top predator was black bears, with five fawn kills. Unknown predators killed four; hunters, three; bobcats, two; unknown canid, two; and coyote, one.

For perspective, a 1973-1983 study in Minnesota’s northeastern forests found annual fawn survival was 31 percent, not significantly better.

But in the first year of Wisconsin’s east-central farmland study, 62.5 percent of ID-tagged fawns (30 of 48) survived seven months, with eight of the 18 deaths (44 percent) caused by predators. The others died of starvation, six (33 percent); vehicle collisions, three (16.5 percent); and unknown causes, one. The top predator was coyotes, with four fawn kills. Hunters killed two; black bears, one; and unknown, one.

Meanwhile, researchers in Michigan’s south-central Upper Peninsula estimated fawn survival at 37 percent in January 2011after two years of study in Menominee County. With three years of data now in, researchers report 47 of their ID-tagged fawns were killed by four-legged predators.

 Coyotes killed 22 fawns (47 percent of kills), followed by bobcats, 12 (25.5 percent), unknown predators, five (11 percent), black bears, four (8.5 percent) and wolves, four (8.5 percent).

 What to make of all this? Few hunters or biologists will find much comfort or scientific certainty in such varying, ever-changing numbers.

Saying Goodbye to the 2011 Bow Season

by Cody Altizer 16. January 2012 11:34
Cody Altizer

Have you ever experienced something that contrasts so sharply with itself that it almost takes on two different beings, two unique personalities?  For example, the skyline of a city at sunrise is as equally beautiful with its color and glamour as it is destructive with its pollution and noise.  What if I told you that the Rocky Mountains, the powerful backbone of America that even the mightiest of hunters can’t sometimes conquer, is actually corroding yearly at the hands of water and ice?  On January 7th I experienced a similar juxtaposition.  I climbed a tree to go hunting, a decision that would generally lead to a kill and death.  However this time, it was to extend the life of the previous 3 months through spiritual and personal reflection.

A shot of my home away from home, so to speak.  I've spent the better part of my 22 years in this camp and the surrounding woods and fields chasing whitetail deer.  Maybe it's not home away from home and it's just..home?

As I settled into my stand, I decided to just close my eyes and let my mind wander, rather than trying to reminisce about certain memories.  That didn’t last long, because a meat fly landed on my nose and I grinned to myself as I swatted him away, because I couldn’t believe how warm it was for a January hunt.  It must have been 65 degrees, 20 degrees warmer than it was at the same time opening day over 3 months prior.

After I ridded myself of the pesky insect, my mind truly began to wander, but in a direction I certainly hadn’t intended it to.  I wanted to relive the day my brother shot the 150” giant we had been hunting all year, and how we celebrated in the woods together, sharing an indescribable fraternal connection.  I badly wanted to replay the events of the day I shot my biggest buck to date, and how countless hours of hard work had paid off.  Finally, I wanted to remember cutting up deer meat with my family the night my dad shot his first buck in 6 years while watching college football.  But, as is often the case, my mind had other ideas.

On my last hunt of the season, I climbed a tree not wanting to shoot a deer, but instead reminisce over the memories of what was my best season to date.

Instead, my mind wandered to different memories.  For instance, I remembered an early November hunt that my brother had offered to film.  We were hunting over one of our food plots, and I had just finished hanging his camera stand when he told me there were three does quickly coming down the opposite side ridge.  I hurried down, and he hurried back up as I followed him, praying the deer wouldn’t see us.  Magically, we got set up safely in our stands just as the deer came into view.  Strapping the camera arm to the tree was out of the question as this point as the doe and her twin fawns were at 40 yards and closing.  The twins got a free pass as they sprinted in the food plot chasing each other back and forth excited for an afternoon of feasting on oats and clover.  I laughed to myself because their eagerness reminded me of how I must have acted when I went to Chucky Cheese as a kid.  

I refocused on the doe and recognized her as a doe we had been seeing the last 4 years and had earned the name “Momma.”  She had a distinctive white streak down her nose, and was once so comfortable with my presence she would almost eat out of my hands when I would put out minerals during the summer.  She had to be at least 7 years old, and I was prepared to take her life if she gave me the opportunity.  She was at 15 yards when I drew my bow and at 7 yards when I settled the pin, there was only one problem: a small branch protected her vitals from my arrow.  She stood there for close to 20 seconds completely unaware of my brother and me sitting 20 feet above her.  I could have shot her in the shoulder blade, and I know I would have gotten enough penetration that she wouldn’t make it far, but I couldn’t do it.  I could have shot through the small branches and, at just 7 yards, the arrow wouldn’t deflect enough to make much of a difference, but I’m not that type of hunter.  Momma deserved more than that.  After scanning the field for danger she took the final step I needed to clear her vitals, and when she did I tried to stop her.  I was going for a subtle bleat, but a loud, boisterous grunt is what erupted from my mouth.  To this day, I don't know how that happened.  She didn’t think twice about stopping and looking up, and she bolted immediately back in the direction from which she came.  I had no choice but shake my head and smile while my brother laughed at me.  I guess my subconscious simply wouldn’t let me kill Momma.  

One of the many images I have of an old doe we call, "Momma."  She's an old doe, wise to my ways, and would be a true trophy if I could harvest her next fall.

Eyes still closed, my mind ironically shifted to a morning where my eyes were full of wonder and curiosity.  I had just hung a stand a few days prior in an area I hadn’t hunted for close to 10 years.  I could just never convince myself there would be deer there.  However, a trail camera on a mock scrape had revealed this area was actually a deer haven with two monster bucks working the scrape.  To say I was excited about be an insult to how eager I was to get in the tree on an early November morning.  I had hiked close to a mile to get to my stand, got settled in and said the same prayer I say before every hunt, giving thanks for the opportunity and the ability to hunt, asking for safety and, if it were in His will, to bless me with some luck, in any way He felt fit.  

After a deep breath I looked up and was blindsided by how clear the stars were.  It was beautifully cold and clear, and the stars could have never been brighter.  The frosty field I was overlooking harmoniously joined forces with the stars and the result was a glittering dance floor for me to enjoy.  It was one of those mornings where it was literally difficult for me to take my eyes of the sky, and I was glad I didn’t.  I must have seen 5 shooting stars that morning, and I made a wish on each and every one of them.  By the time the sun had risen I had already deemed the morning a success and readied myself for the actual hunt.  Over the next 4 hours I saw close to 10 deer, one of them being one of the bucks I was hunting, but he was just out of bow range.  It was an awesome morning and one that I am thankful I could experience.

One of my favorite things about hunting season is the clairty of the stars on crisp cool mornings.  This picture could never do the real image justice.

The season was now a little less than an hour from being over and I had decided to do my best to relive the morning I shot my buck, High n’ Tight.  I was, after all, sitting in the exact same stand.  Right on cue, however, my mind had other ideas.  I thought about the first time I had seen High n’ Tight from stand.  It was a terribly windy day, and I had gotten in my stand a little before noon hoping to see some midday rutting activity.  I suppose my plan had worked because I saw High n’ Tight, although only briefly, about 100 yards in the thick timber.  Unfortunately, he left as quickly as he came, but I had hoped he would make another appearance, only this time closer.

Unfortunately, he never showed himself again that day, but I did have an encounter with a different buck.  About 3:00 I had a button buck make his way out of a nearby bedding area and made a beeline right for my stand.  The minute he got underneath my stand he stopped, set up shop, and began feeding on acorns.  He looked up at me briefly, almost as if to say, “I’m glad you’re here Cody!  I think I’ll just hang out with you this afternoon, I know you won’t shoot me, will ya?!”  I tried not to anthropomorphize, and decided to take out my camera and snap some photos of the small buck.  He was only 5 yards from the base of my tree, and I was worried he’d spook if he heard the shutter.  I decided to risk it and see what happened.  I snapped a couple images, and it was clear he heard the shutter, because he jerked his head up with each picture I took.  I thought it was funny, so I decided to take some more.  With each shot, up went his head and back went his ears.  He could clearly ear me, but he hadn’t been around long enough to know that suspicious noises from above generally mean danger.  We repeated this process frequently the entire afternoon and the laughs he gave me far outweighed the fact that I could be unnecessarily educating a buck I could be trying to kill in the three years.  Oh well, hunting is supposed to be fun, right?

This little guy never could quite figure out what was making the clicking noise in the tree above him.  He knew something was there, but I don't think he really cared what it was.  He was more concerned with eating acorns than avoiding danger at the time.

By this time sunset was quickly approaching and since I wasn’t going to shoot anything I decided to make my way back to the camp so I could enjoy the last sunset of the season.  It was the perfect ending to the perfect season.  I sat on a picnic table, spitting sunflower seeds watching the clouds blow in and subconsciously began subtly shaking my head in agreement. I suppose it was to both acknowledge what a blessing the previous three months had been as well as let the woods and wildlife know that I was ready to begin preparation for another season.  Because after all, saying goodbye to one season only means saying hello to the next.   

Wisconsin Buck Leaps to Death from Highway Overpass

by Patrick Durkin 30. December 2011 04:41
Patrick Durkin


When Al Rinka and his highway construction coworkers spotted a huge white-tailed buck crossing a field south of Marshfield, Wis., during their lunch break Dec. 8, they didn’t realize they were watching a dead buck walking.

Lane Wetterau of Stevens Point, Wis.; Aaron Seit, Wisconsin Rapids; Al Rinka, Osseo; and Dave Katzner, Arpin; pose with a giant white-tailed buck that leaped to its death from a bridge over an unopened section of U.S. Highway 10 south of Marshfield.

About an hour later, the buck walked up the embankment to the Washington Avenue bridge 1.5 miles away, leaped off and died on a concrete slab 34 feet below. The buck apparently panicked as a car approached, and jumped over the bridge’s parapet without realizing its height from the ground. The momentum from its leap carried the buck about 30 feet from the bridge’s base, where it landed head first.

The concrete below had been poured recently as part of the U.S. Highway 10 reconstruction, and isn’t yet open to traffic. A foreman for the road-grading crew called Rinka to tell him and his coworkers about the freak accident. When they heard the location, the men realized they had built that section of highway, and still referred to it as “our slab.”

This trophy buck leaped off the highway overpass in the background. The bridge's height is 34 feet.

When Rinka and his friends -- Lane Wetterau, Stevens Point; Aaron Seit, Wisconsin Rapids; and Dave Katzner, Arpin -- arrived to see the dead buck, they instantly recognized it as the one they had seen during lunch.

“We’re big hunters, and we all hunt anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour from there, but we saw nothing like that buck during gun season,” said Rinka, a civil engineer from Osseo. “We were amazed to see it crossing a field in broad daylight. It was opening day of the (four-day) antlerless hunt, so maybe some hunters pushed it out. We watched about 10 minutes before we lost sight of him. It’s a huge field.”

Rinka said he and his coworkers noticed the buck had a slight limp. They thought maybe a front leg was injured, but found no wounds or breaks when examining it later. The buck apparently landed on its nose, because nothing else on its body appeared broken, and its antlers weren’t damaged.

Rinka said an elderly woman who lives near the bridge was driving the car that spooked the buck. She told them the buck was standing in the middle of the road as she approached. It could have run down the road to get off the bridge, but jumped over the side instead.

Al Rinka of Osseo, Wis., displays the impressive buck that survived Wisconsin's nine-day firearms season in November, only to die 10 days later in a freak accident.

The woman stopped and looked over the bridge, and saw the buck writhing on the pavement in its death throes. She drove home and told her neighbor, who is a hunter. He notified authorities and received a tag so he could claim the buck.

Rinka and his friends marveled at the buck’s antlers. “As much as all of us hunt, and after all the time we’ve spent in the woods, here we were staring at probably one of the biggest bucks we’ll ever see, and it jumped off a bridge,” he said.

The buck had a 12-point rack with wide beams and thick tines. Rinka said the tallest tines were about 9 inches long, and the spread between the main beams spanned 18 inches. They guessed it would score 150 to 170 inches on the Boone and Crockett Club’s measuring system.

The buck's flying leap carried it about 10 yards from the base of the bridge.

He said the buck had a smaller body than what they expected. Then again, it’s not unusual for a buck’s body to look small, even emaciated, in the weeks following “the rut,” the whitetail’s mating season. Rutting bucks can lose about 25 percent of their body weight while seeking and chasing does. This buck weighed 180 pounds when it died, so it might have weighed around 240 pounds when alive.

In the days that followed, some people jokingly referred to the deer as “The Suicide Buck,” but Rinka said no one there truly believed the buck intended to kill itself.

“What it was doing on that bridge, who knows?” he said. “There’s much easier ways to cross that area than by walking up an overpass. It’s a confined area, and deer seldom walk on bridges anyway. It was out of its element, and probably just panicked when the car approached.”

Although Rinka doesn’t buy the suicide theory, humans have long debated the possibility of animal suicide. About two years ago, for example, “Time” magazine reminded readers that Aristotle (384-322 BC) told of a stallion that leaped into an abyss after realizing it was duped into mating with its mother.

In more recent times, the Overtoun bridge in Milton, Scotland, has gained notoriety as the “Dog Suicide Bridge” because dogs have jumped from it about once a month since the 1960s, causing about 600 to die. Some dogs have even survived, only to run back up and jump again. No one knows what’s causing them to leap.

Rinka is content to consider the buck’s leap a fluke of nature.

“We were dumbfounded when we realized it was the same buck we had seen during lunch,” he said. “When it walked out of sight, we thought we’d never see it again. It was unreal.”



Sometimes You Have to Hunt in the Rain

by Neal McCullough 29. September 2011 14:20
Neal McCullough

I am one of those bowhunters who doesn’t get hundreds of days in the field every year; I don’t spend weeks in Kansas, Iowa, and Canada from September to December (although sometimes I wish I could). That said, I have learned over the years that you have to make your hunts count. I believe in the old adage “you can’t get one if you aren’t out there” but, more specifically, out there at the right time. This past Tuesday evening was one of those “right times”.

Grant Jacobs and I always try to do an early season bowhunt in our properties in Pepin County. It’s a little bit of a drive (About 1 ½ hours) so we do our best to coordinate our varied work schedules and the ever-unpredictable fall weather to select the best day to hunt. Tuesday, flexibility at work magically coincided with some other key factors to make for a perfect evening hunt. Following are a couple of things that made this week’s hunt work:

1. Moontimes– The moon’s affect on whitetails was a subject of a recent blog of mine and the timing of this hunt was set up to be one of the best days in September according to the solar calendar. The moon was setting at 6:30PM (sunset was at 7:00PM) and the “best time” to hunt was 5:30PM – 7:26PM

The solar lunar calendar can be an effective tool during early season.

2. Wind – The particular location of the stand we were hunting in we call the “Elevator Ridge” and any wind out of the N/NW gives us the best chance to get a deer.

A Wind Checker and can help keep track of shifting winds/thermals to know where deer can bust you in the stand.

3. Beans – Although beans have browned in nearly all areas where we hunt, we knew that some of the green was still on the stem and pod. This, along with falling acorns, made for an ideal spot.

This button buck showed on Tuesday evening feeding in the beans, any remaining green soybean fields should be hunted now.

4. Rain – The toughest part of the day was the massive low pressure system that decided to park itself right over Chicago for what seemed like days and days. The weatherman called for continued rain at our stand that day, nonetheless we decided to go for it.

This stubborn low pressure system took days to move out of the midwest.

5. Scent Control – The wind and rain combined created a perfect scent killing solution for us; our scent was pushed away from the deer and much of that scent was knocked down by the rain.

We always wear Scent Blocker gear while hunting, there is no substitute for quality scent blocking clothing. Notice parts of the soybean field in the background are still green.

In the end, the hunt was one of the best early season hunts we have had in a while. Right on schedule, three mature does and a buck fawn all worked their way to within 25 yards and if it weren’t for tree limbs and low camera light, we would have had a shot. Last year we spent hours and hours hunting bad winds, bad moontimes, and frankly, bad stand sites. This year we got in the right place at the right time and got the season off to a great start. Good luck with your hunting seasons and remember; sometimes you have to hunt in the rain.

See you in the woods,
Neal McCullough

Unconventional Ways to Prepare For the Fast Approaching Bow Seasons

by Mark Kenyon 31. July 2011 16:33
Mark Kenyon

54 days. 1 hour. 23 minutes. 41 seconds. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. 

The clock is winding down on the opening of my bow season for whitetails and if any of you are like me, it can't come soon enough! But as much as I am excited, I'm also a little panicked. No matter how much I try to plan ahead, I always feel like I'm scrambling in the last months before season trying to prepare.  And this year is no different. But once I get all of the major preparation out of the way, (setting stands, putting in food plots, etc), I like to do a few unconventional things to help me fine tune myself before the season. So today I'd like to turn a blind eye to the stress of knowing I still need to set a boatload of stands, and instead focus on a few of my favorite last minute preparations that might seem a little out of the usual. Read on for a few of my more unconventional preparation ideas!

Get Your Money's Worth Out of Hunting Videos: This might seem strange, but I use hunting DVDs for more than just entertainment. I've actually found them to be pretty helpful in legitimately preparing myself to hunt. I do this in two ways. First, I like to practice field scoring and aging deer in videos. In some hunting series like Monster Bucks, they'll tell you a score after the kill and I like being able to guess and then confirm with the actual. If you're looking to harvest a certain size or age class deer, this is a helpful and fun way to practice.

A second way I use videos is by practicing aiming at deer on video. I will watch a deer come on screen and practice drawing, aiming and holding on deer, just like it was the real deal. Just putting your mind through the paces like this is going to help you come game time. Obviously you need to be very careful doing this, as you don't want to dry fire. But if you're totally against drawing your bow w/o an arrow, just practicing aiming a bow undrawn at a big buck on tv can still help!

Try A New Position: Continuing on our theme of practicing with your bow, in the last few weeks before season I like to try some interesting new things when it comes to angles, locations and positions with my bow. When it comes to shot opportunities, you just never know whats going to happen. You might need to shoot leaning around a limb, crouching down or who knows what. So I try to prepare for these things with some crazy scenarios while practicing. A week or two before season I'll start adding some abnormal situations into my practice regimen like shooting from my truck bed, sitting on the ground, kneeling, leaning around a tree, leaning on my back and just about anything else I can think about. Practicing in these strange positions will hopefully leave me prepared for whatever the real deal can throw at me!

Practice In The Dark: Now here's an unconventional idea that I actually haven't done before, but I want to! If you're like me, you like being mobile during the bow season. It's great to have a climbing or portable hang-on treestand that you can move around as you adjust your strategy during the season. That being said, sometimes you really want to hunt somewhere new in the morning, so you've got to put up a stand in the dark. If you think this could happen to you, it's best to prepare. If you're trying out a new treestand this fall it's even more important, so I'd highly recommend trying to put it up before you ever go in the field. Test drive the stand once in the light and then once in the dark, and this should fully prepare you for whatever situation might arise during the season. This may seem like a waste of time, but it's certainly better than fumbling around in the pitch black on a November morning making more noise than a marching band coming down main street. I also like to do this while wearing my full hunting camo. Just like you should practice shooting in your hunting gear, you should also practice using a climber or setting up a hang-on and sticks while wearing your cold weather gear. It can really be different in the heavy clothing, so it's best to practice and struggle now, rather than during game time.

So while these three ideas might seem a little out there, I'm certain they are well worth the extra work. When you get near the end of your check list of pre-season preparation, consider trying a few of these off the wall ideas. It just might put you over the edge when it comes to tagging that big ole buck!

Will there EVER be a Cure for Buck Fever?

by Marshall Kaiser 30. July 2011 15:22
Marshall Kaiser

We’ve all been there, watching a nice buck, doe, gobbler, elk, or Muley come in and our heart feels like it’s going to spook the animal because it is pounding so loud.  Appendages may start to shake uncontrollably.  You may even find it difficult to draw your bow because your muscles have locked due to the epinephrine hormone that has been released in your body by the adrenal glands that are located on top of the kidneys. Epinephrine and Adrenaline is the same thing.  The key is to be able to control this rush and focus on the job at hand.  Yeah right…  A lot easier said than done.  The advice of don’t focus on the antlers, pick a small spot on the animal, look away for a brief moment, close your eyes to reset yourself, lower your draw weight so you can easily handle it when the situation is needed are all good bits of advice.  I personally don’t think there is a cure all for controlling the epinephrine when it comes to crunch time other than experience.  But even that is not a guarantee.  I am sure several pro’s face the same issues.  Every encounter is going to cause the adrenal glands to secrete different amounts of this potent hormone.  Quick encounters may let your conscious take over relying on your experience to quickly close the deal.  Watching a big bull elk makes its way through the timber for 30 minutes to find that mysterious cow that’s enticing him will cause an overflow of epinephrine giving you too much time to think about your next move. 

So what can be done to help matters in this situation?  The more practice shooting will definitely help, however putting your mental state of mind in that “fight or Flight” feeling is impossible.  The more a person thinks about this mysterious process the more we as hunters may not want to be able to control the situation.  I know everyone wants to be calm when that 200 inch whitetail shows up so we can make the perfect shot.  This is the very reason why bowhunting is so intriguing because we can’t control our emotions, heart rate, lack of blood flow to our skin, shortness of breath, and of course the ever popular lockage of the muscles to prevent drawing our bows.   Then there is the complete opposite, the overconfidence of imagining what the deer is going to look like above the fireplace, or how the steaks will taste, or which one of my buddies should I call first to start gloating over the animal that I am about to harvest.


I think if I ever lost that feeling of excitement, or the inability to control my patience I would wonder what I was doing in a treestand to begin with.  This to me is what bowhunting is all about.  For the past 30 years of hunting I have felt that rush of the adrenal glands pumping out epinephrine by the gallons from my first miss at a nice little 6 pointer when I was 12 to now when I see deer going about their business of wandering by my treestand.   I hope Scientist come up with a cure for cancer, HIV, and other fatal disease, but leave Buck Fever alone.  It needs no cure.  My favorite outdoorsman, Fred Eichler says “when confronted with a harvest possibility tell yourself it’s not going to happen.” Using negative reinforcement to trick your mind into thinking you are going to control the situation instead of the situation controlling you is the method Fred had learned from another great hunter by the name of Chuck Adams. 

Overall I think we all agree that getting a case of the “shakes” when the opportunity arises is one of the best feelings a bowhunter can have.  Without it we should second guess our reasons to enjoy what God has created for us.  After all that when God created Adam he put the Adrenal Glands there for this specific purpose.  Without them we wouldn’t have any excuses for all of our misses.




Buckscore REVIEW - Scoring your Trophy Buck from Home

by Josh Fletcher 20. July 2011 16:30
Josh Fletcher

After reading on about a new program available on the market for both deer hunters and wildlife managers, that could score a buck just from a picture, I just had to take a closer look.  The program is called Buckscore.

Buckscore was developed by the Mississippi State University’s Deer Ecology and Management Laboratory. The program has a data base of known measurements from deer around the country, such as ear width and eyeball diameter. From those base measurements, Buckscore can be used to measure the total amount of antler from a picture. The program states that it is most accurate on deer antler positions from three angles. The picture can be analyzed from a buck that is 0 degrees, 45 degrees, and 90 degrees.
To use the Buckscore program you download the picture of the buck you want to score. From there select what state the picture of the buck was taken from and approximate age if known. Then select the known measurement that you want to use that all measurements are compared from. An example is the width of the buck’s ear. By selecting Wisconsin as the state the program uses known deer ear width from the area of Wisconsin. Once the known measurement is taken you are now ready to begin scoring your buck. The tutorial on the side of the program walks you through the locations on the buck’s antlers to click your mouse to retrieve measurements for scoring your buck. If you cannot see a particular tine or cannot tell from the photo where a tine begins or ends, you have the option of clicking the mirror tab that uses the same measurement from the other side of the buck’s antlers. An example is that you can see the buck’s right side G3 but not the left, by clicking this tab it will take the right G3 and use that measurement for the left G3. After measuring all the given locations the program then asks if the deer you just scored is in velvet or not. Select your answer and soon the total score of your buck if given in a form showing B&C or P&Y, it also shows the net score along with the gross score of your buck.

This is a good quality photo for an accurate score from the Buckscore

(This program scored this buck at 152.06" Typical Gross Score)

After researching this program from the Buckscore web site I decided to download the program and give it a try. By clicking on the website button to buy the program it charged me just under $20.00 for the down load. I then followed the tutorial to begin downloading the program straight from their web site. On my laptop I am running the Windows7 software and had no troubles down loading the program. is also able to be downloaded by other types of software.  The whole process from start to finish took me around fifteen minutes. To explain how easy this was I must first tell you my computer knowledge is near zero and computer back ground is at a big zero, so as the saying goes, if I can do it so can you.

My first test of this program was to see just how accurate it really is at scoring bucks. Now, I first want to tell you that the program only works for whitetail bucks. I loaded a picture of a buck that I already knew the score of and that was the buck I shot last fall. I used a picture that was taken of me holding the buck and it was not from a game camera. The reason for this was to provide the best quality picture to test on the scoring. After several minutes of taking measurements, I was given the final score. was off by less than two inches from what I received from the tape measure. I then scored a buck that my friend had shot last year; this buck was off by just over three inches from what the actual tape measurement was. I’m not sure how particular you are, but for me this type of accuracy is very impressive just from a picture.

Here is an example of a poor quality photo that is hard to score

After using this program for some time now and scoring numerous bucks I have noticed that I am learning better judgment on where to begin measuring from the picture to achieve more accurate results. I will say that a greater error will happen if the picture that you are scoring is of poor quality and if you cannot see all of the tines. A poor quality photo may also make it more difficult to be able to tell where one point begins and ends, making it difficult to measure. You can score bucks that are not at the three previous mentioned angles however your score may slightly be off of what the buck actually scores. To get the most accurate score I would recommend scoring several different photos of the same buck and comparing the differences if at all possible. I also want to note that when I am talking about your score being off, I am talking about only several inches. Basically you may have a photo of a buck that’s real score is 167” but the program states it is 165”. In my eyes this is very accurate from just a picture. The other neat part about this program is that I have my friends email me pictures of bucks that they want scored by and I can score it for them with in several minutes.
This program will not kill you bigger bucks, however, has many benefits. First is that it helps with the famous ground shrinkage. We have all experienced it, the buck appears bigger right before you take the shot however when you walk up on your prize he just isn’t as big as you thought. The other part is that pictures can be deceiving. We have all seen it or have been a part of the famous trophy fish photo, where you hold the fish closer to the camera to get it away from the fisherman’s body to make the fish look bigger. Trail cam photos can do the same thing with bucks; the buck can look much bigger on the trail cam photo than he really is. My brother Clint and I were victims of this last fall. I had several pictures of a buck that we know as the kicker buck. By looking at the trail cam pictures we estimated him to be in the 130” range. During the rut Clint was able to harvest this buck and when we walked up on him we realized he was much smaller than the picture made him look. Now don’t get me wrong, he was a good buck and Clint was very proud to have taken him, however if we would have had this program last year we would have known before the shot opportunity that he was smaller than what we judged him by the picture.
By utilizing the Buckscore program you can “pre classify” the bucks on your property prior to actually laying eyes on them with great accuracy. Also by being able to score bucks right from your computer you are better able to learn what a true 130” buck looks like and so forth allowing you to improve your skills at scoring bucks on the hoof.

The Buckscore program is also great for analyzing the quality of bucks that are utilizing your property. The program allows you to track the bucks that you score for an analysis of bucks on your property. By this I mean that if you score thirty different bucks, the program lists the score class of the bucks so you can see the percentage of a particular class of bucks on your property. With proper management and habitat improvement your goal may be to see an increase in 120” class bucks one year and then an increase of 130” class the next. This program allows you to track this information about your property.

This buck is not at the three angles recommended by the program, causing the results to vary

(This buck scored 149.46" Typical Gross Score by the Buckscore program)

The last reason I would encourage the use of the Buckscore program is that it is just plain old fun to use. It’s exciting to get out into the woods and check your trail cam for big buck pictures, now you can take that picture home and put a score to that buck of a life time. This program doesn’t need a picture taken from just a trail camera, you can use pictures that you personally have taken or even use a freeze framed clip from your own video, save it as a picture and then basically score the buck from a video. Now if that big boy walks just outside of your bow range you can still video him and then score him without ever firing a shot. This can be good or bad because it may make that missed opportunity hurt just that much more.

Listed below are the pros and cons to the Buckscore program;

• Easy to down load from the website using Windows7
• Able to be downloaded using other types of software
• Allows for great practice on field judging bucks on the hoof (no more guessing)
• Program is set up to be able to analyze the class of bucks on your property
• Helps to minimize ground shrinkage
• Accurately score bucks to be placed in a “harvest class”
• Plain old fun to score bucks that you have captured on your trail camera
• It is very accurate at scoring whitetail bucks, with in just several inches
• Bucks can be scored in velvet and the program accounts for the velvet.
• Keeps your hunting buddies much more honest when they email you a photo

• Poor photos can cause a greater error with accuracy
• The most accurate measurements are taken from three angles: 0, 45, and 90 degrees
• It can cause missing the buck of a life time hurt that much more knowing what he really scores
• If you’re the exaggerating hunting buddy emailing the photo

After utilizing the Buckscore program I must say I am very pleased with it. Yes it is not 100% accurate, but nothing will ever be unless you actually put your hands on his antlers. For just taking measurement from a photo I am more than pleased with being off by only several inches and believe that this program given a good quality picture is very accurate. For less than $20.00 this product is definitely worth a try.

After the Shot—Clues to recovering your next whitetail

by Steve Flores 9. May 2011 14:50
Steve Flores

Months of preparation, hours and hours of practice time, days of hanging stand after stand, all come down to one split second, one opportunity to loose an arrow at the whitetail of your dreams, or at least, the whitetail of the moment.  When the shot finally happens there is a great sense of relief; especially if it is a solid hit.  However, before you start reaching for that tag there are a few steps that should be taken to ensure you make the right decisions during this very critical, but often overlooked, time.


Unless you witness your deer “topple-over”, don’t assume that you’ve made a lethal hit. Follow up with caution until your hands are wrapped around the antlers for real.

Remember the last Spot
If the deer you’ve just shot happens to run away, pay special attention to the very last place it was standing (or running) before loosing sight of it.  Look for easily recognizable landmarks such as rocks, downed trees or unique logs.  These will aid you in locating that “last spot seen” once you are actually on the ground because the topography will look vastly different once you climb out of your stand.  This can result in following the wrong trail and possibly loosing your deer.

There is a huge difference in how things look from 20 feet up in a treestand and ground level. This can add confusion to an already tedious moment in the hunt.

In addition, once the animal is no longer visible, you should pay special attention to any noise or racket in order to determine if your animal has crashed to the ground or has kept running.  Even fatally shot deer will run.  Some make it a short distance and fall dead, some run a little further before expiring.  Either way, there is no set distance to how far they can or will run; even if your arrow passes completely through the boiler room.

 Once your deer is out of sight, your sense of hearing should take over in order to detect the sound of cracking limbs or the overabundance of leaves rustling….followed by dead silence.

Find your Arrow
The reason it’s so vital to find your arrow is simple.  It holds a ton of clues as to the location of impact.  For instance, an arrow covered in bright red blood, filled with tiny air bubbles, indicates a solid lung hit.  An arrow with brown and green residue on it, accompanied by a “staunch” odor is typical of a gut shot animal.  And lastly, dark red blood on your arrow may be an indication of a liver hit. 

 You never really know what your arrow is going to do after it impacts flesh and bone. Therefore, it is vital to locate it if at all possible in order to better evaluate the situation.

If you typically experience trouble locating your arrow after the shot, there are several aftermarket items designed to help bowhunters not only find their arrow after the shot, but watch it while it is in flight as well.  One such product is “lighted” nocks.  Much like a tracer round fired from a rifle, arrows with lighted nocks are highly visible from the moment they leave the bowstring until the instant they disappear into hide and hair.  This makes determining exactly where your arrow impacted much easier; which in turn will help you make the best decisions about how badly the animal is hurt and when to take up the trail.

 Lighted nocks greatly enhance your ability to “track” your arrow in flight. Arrow “wraps” are also a good idea if you have trouble finding your arrow once it is on the ground.

Tic Toc, Tic Toc
You’ve found your arrow.  You’ve determine to the best of your ability what type of hit it was.  Now you must decide what to do.  For starters, even if I know my shot was on the money, I think it is a wise choice not to follow the blood trail for at least 20-30 minutes.  That may sound like a long time; especially if you know your buck is lying just around the point.  However, when you consider the time it takes to gather your composure, collect your gear, and climb down, such a waiting period will go by rather quickly. 

Climbing down too soon after the shoot can not only hurt your chances of recovering your deer, it can also increase the odds that you injure yourself.  Maneuvering down a tree while under the influence of adrenaline isn’t the smartest thing to do. Settle your nerves first, then climb down.

When it comes to recovering your deer, the “gut shot” doesn’t have to be the kiss of death.  The problem arises from bowhunters pushing deer too soon.  A gut shot deer is likely going to die.  The trick is to leave it alone and let it expire as closely to where you shot it as possible.  Since there will be very little blood to follow, it is vital that the deer drop within close proximity of your stand site.  Otherwise, a long tracking job usually results in a lost deer.
Gut shot deer get a minimum of 8 hours wait time in my book.  If I happen to make this shot right before last light, I will usually elect to return the next morning; making sure I leave the area as quietly as possible.  If it is the start of a hot, early season day, I will usually cut that time in half; hoping to recover the deer before meat spoilage occurs; making a bad situation even worse. 

 This buck was left to lay overnight after a suspected liver shot. Expecting to find the deer piled-up the next morning, the author and his hunting buddy were astonished when the bruiser sprang to his feet mere yards from them. A follow up shot by the author’s friend ended the 12 hour plus ordeal.

The same goes for liver shots.  This type of wound will definitely take down a whitetail.  However, ample time must be given before taking up the trail; especially if your broadhead doesn’t punch right through the center of this organ.  Of course, there is no way of knowing how well you hit the liver until you actually perform the field dressing chores.  Therefore, proceed with caution.

 Making the shot is only the beginning. The real work, as they say, begins afterward. Do your best to follow up your shot with a level head. The outcome of your hunt depends on it.

You’ve worked your tail off  to get to the point where you hear your bowstring jump forward and watch your arrow cut a straight path to its target.  Don’t screw things up now.  Take a moment to settle your nerves; watching and listening to everything around you.  Then, make your decisions based on the information you have collected.  If you do, the odds are pretty good you will make the right ones.


Armchair Whitetail Scouting

by Steve Flores 21. March 2011 13:16
Steve Flores

Flying under the whitetail radar, while effectively locating your next trophy from the comfort of your own home, is actually easier than it sounds using these three steps.

Record Books
They may not have the glitz and glamour compared to other methods used to uncover whitetail hotspots, but don’t kid yourself regarding their value.  If properly utilized, record books are the next best thing to someone actually telling you where the whitetail hotspots are located.  You see, most individuals are reluctant to reveal their exact whereabouts when they experience any type of consistent success; especially when hunting on public land, and without a doubt if the animal is of Pope and Young caliber.  However, upon entering their trophy into the record books, they must at least divulge the general area of the harvest.  And that is where this entire process begins. 

Another good source of information is your local taxidermist. They are witness to a large variety of bucks and usually know the exact details of the kill. (i.e. harvest data: time, date, location)

Searching through the most recent edition of P&Y records will ultimately tell you (among other things), where the best bucks is being taken.  Finding a hotspot is as easy as calculating the total number of entries for any given county within the state you are researching.  Obviously, when you find a county that is consistently producing a high number of record class bucks, then that is where you will most likely want to concentrate your efforts.

Topo Maps
When using the lay of the land as a guide for stand placement, whether you’re in an entirely new spot or on very familiar hunting ground, the first thing you need to do is realize there are 2 types of terrain features….Positive and Negative.  Both will influence deer movement.  Your job is to utilize the clues found on your topo map to determine which types your area holds and how the deer are going to respond to them.  Then, act accordingly.


Don’t dismiss the amount of information contained in a topo map. Take your time and study one of your area before actually walking in on foot to further investigate.

When looking at your map, try to find negative terrain features that funnel deer movement into a pinch point.  For example, a small drain possessing steep side-hills that eventually turn into gradual slopes near the top is an excellent illustration of how negative terrain can funnel and influence deer movement.  Ideally, any deer moving through the area will most likely cross near the top, where the slope is not as radical.  An actual observation of the land should reveal heavy trails at the top which will coincide with the “widely spaced” contour lines from your topo map. For the most part deer are lazy and will often take the path of least resistance; as long as it provides them with the safety needed to get from point A to point B. Use this behavior to your advantage when thinking about possible stand locations.

Positive terrain features on the other hand will include, but not limit themselves to: ridge-top saddles, shallow creek crossings, overgrown logging roads, bench flats, and/or gradually sloping hollows.  In the past, I have set up in saddles discovered using only a topo map and long range observation, and struck pay-dirt my first time in the stand; mainly due to a bucks tendency to use a low lying saddle when crossing over a ridge in order to prevent sky-lining himself. 

Scouting Cameras
You should already have a good idea about where you are going to hang your camera based on the info (lay of the land) gathered from your maps.  Within that chosen area, consider setting up your camera near recently discovered “pinch points”.  Ideally, you’ll want to be set up in high traffic areas; somewhere near bedding/feeding locations or along the transition routes in between. However, if you are unfamiliar with the locale, it may take a little more investigating to discover such places.


Scouting cameras are your eyes when you are not there. Set them up in the right locations and they can pay off in a big way.

  Not only can game cameras reveal travel patterns of target bucks known to frequent your area, they can also provide evidence of NEW bucks that have moved in for any number of reasons. 

While conducting your search, look for heavily used trails leading to pinch points that choke deer movement into a confined area; increasing the likelihood that you will capture useful images.  Remember though, that the overall goal is to remain under the whitetails radar, so try to conduct your camera hanging/scouting before the season starts.  Also, do your best to get the camera location right the first time in order to avoid disturbing the area any more than what is absolutely necessary.  If you have thoroughly studied your maps, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Finding a good location to hang your treestand will be much easier having followed these three tips......

and the rewards will be well worth it!

Locating your next trophy without tipping your hand can be difficult to say the least.  However, with a little more homework, and a lot less footwork, you can accomplish far more than you thought possible.  Remember to utilize the information found in record books and harvest reports to get you headed in the right direction.  Then, obtain a topographic map of the area and study it as if your life depended on it. Lastly, go in and hang a scouting camera based on positive and negative terrain features and see if your hunch was right.  My bet is you will be going back very soon to hang a stand. Good luck and God Bless!











Perfecting the Whitetail Shot: Off-Season Prep

by Steve Flores 22. February 2011 14:07
Steve Flores

Don’t let the title fool you. While it may suggest improving shots on whitetails, without question the following technique can be applied to any type of big, or small, game hunting you do with a bow and arrow. Although this technique may appear to be simple on paper (or on a computer screen), in reality it is one of the hardest things to do simply because as archers and bowhunters…..old habits die hard. However, if you hope to live up to your full potential as both, it would do you good to consider incorporating one little detail into your shot sequence. I am talking about SQUEEZING THE SHOT.  
Squeezing the shot, as opposed to simply yanking the trigger the instant your sight pin lands on the spot you want to hit, has the ability to make you a more deadly shot on live game. It does so by forcing your brain to slow down and focus on one thing, squeezing, at a time when it would rather just turn itself off. Those few extra seconds spent making sure you slowly squeeze the shot, almost guarantees you don’t pull the trigger before your sight pin is even near the vitals; which, by the way, is a leading cause of botched opportunities.
Rushing the shot is a common defense mechanism used by our subconscious mind in order to escape a situation we are uncomfortable with. For instance, trying to hold it together while drawing back on the buck of your dreams will likely create a felling of anxiety, excitement, and extreme nervousness. Naturally, you will want to escape such a situation and the absolute easiest way to do that is to launch your arrow downrange. Once the arrow is gone, that uncomfortable situation is over. Unfortunately, you have to live with the realization that you just blew the shot of your life. Squeezing the trigger on your release aid will counteract most shot ruining tendency.

However, understanding the need to squeeze the shot, and actually performing it are two completely different things. In order to make this technique work you’ve got to have the right equipment. In my experience, I have found the best training tool for this type of shooting is a release-aid with a spring trigger. The reason is that, at least for me, it was too easy to revert back to my old ways and just jerk the trigger while using a standard trigger post. Therefore, it was imperative that I used an approach that wouldn’t allow me to fall back into my old habits. The spring trigger was just the tool I needed.


Whatever release aid you choose, be sure that it does not allow you to fire the shot by punching the trigger.

My release of choice is the Scott Little Bitty Goose Deluxe. The Deluxe series of releases comes with three interchangeable trigger posts. The most important one being the spring trigger. What makes this spring trigger so important is its ability to prevent you from punching the trigger. If you try to punch the trigger, the spring simply flexes back and nothing happens. On the other hand, if you slowly squeeze the spring, it will activate the trigger and the bow will fire by complete surprise; which is exactly what you want to happen. Be warned though, getting use to shooting this way will not be easy. In fact, it could very well be one of the most difficult things you do. However, the payoff is astronomical. Once you master the process of squeezing the shot, you will have more shooting confidence than you ever imagined.
Start off by shooting up close, with your eyes closed, at a fairly large target. This is called “Blind Bale” practice and the purpose of it is to ingrain, in your subconscious mind, what it feels like to squeeze the shot. When you first start trying to shoot this way, your eyes and your mind are going to fight you so your best option is to attack things at the subconscious level first. Therefore, with every squeeze of the release, try your best to note how it feels when the shot takes you by surprise. Without any visual stimulus, your mind will be free to concentrate on those feelings, recognize them, and ultimately, try to repeat them later when your eyes are open and you are shooting for real. After several weeks of blind bale practicing you can open your eyes and start shooting at the target in the usual manner. Stay close to the target until you are comfortable shooting at that distance and then slowly progress further and further away.

In order to fully relax while shooting with your eyes closed, try to find a quiet, private place to conduct your training.

Another important thing to remember is to let your sight pin float around the target spot. Do not attempt to hold it steady. That will only result in frustration and lead to target panic/anxiety. Just be conscious of where your pin is at in relation to where you want your arrow to hit and then forget about it. Let it float around the spot. Your job is to burn a hole through that spot with your mind while you are squeezing the shot. Before you know it, your arrow will be gone. And with it, those feelings of panic, anxiety, and the overwhelming urge to rush the shot.

A spring trigger can still be used for hunting purposes. Just remember, the closer your index finger is to the base of the spring the less it will bend; reacting much like a regular trigger during the shot.

With most big-game seasons closed, now is the perfect time to start revamping your shot technique. Before you know it you will be marking the X on your next big game trophy. Better yet, get started now and reap the rewards in a few short months. Remember, it won’t be long until it is time to chase some Thunder-Chickens!

Closure on a Whitetail Buck

by Steve Flores 6. February 2011 15:46
Steve Flores

I felt it on the very last play of my high school football career. I could feel it as I walked across the stage to receive my college degree. It was a sense that an important part of my life had ended, and a new chapter was about to begin. It was finality… was closure. Thankfully, I have been blessed to experience closure in many different areas of life. Closure is good. It adds conclusiveness to the situation at hand and allows us to move on with other areas of our life. However, it is like a thorn under our skin when we don’t have it. And that thorn, it seems, never goes away.

So what does all of this have to do with bowhunting? Well, a close friend recently brought closure to a story that began several months ago. Actually, it all started in the fall of 2006 when a scouting camera revealed that a very nice buck was occupying the area my friend was hunting in. However, four long years would pass before the two would meet on a cold November day in 2010.

On that fateful day, while others were gathering around the table to partake in Thanksgiving Day festivities, Mark was busy trying to stay warm in his favorite treestand. With plans made to celebrate the day after Thanksgiving, he opted to head to the timber for a chance at the one buck who had eluded him for so long. Although, after several hours in the lonely stand, bitter cold finally forced my friend to the ground in hopes that a little still-hunting might warm him up as well as offer a shooting opportunity at one of the resident bucks.

Walking along an abandoned logging road, Mark happened to catch a glimpse of movement just 20 yards above him on an adjacent flat that ran parallel to his position. After a closer look, he realized it was a doe. Pondering the situation, he decided to fill his freezer and balance the herd at the same time. Coming to full draw, Mark was about to release his arrow when again, something caught his eye.

Looking beyond the unaware doe, he quickly spotted a set of antlers. Situated further back on the flat than her, it was unclear just how good this buck was, but Mark knew it was a good one. Quickly letting down his bow, he waited for a better look at the buck that was shadowing his initial target.

When the bruiser finally did reveal itself, it was obvious he was a trophy. And so the chess match began. It wasn’t until my friend had stalked along with the rutting pair for a good 100 yards or so that a shot opportunity presented itself. And then….the unthinkable happened. Mark missed! Fearing the buck was about to bolt just as he came to full draw, the shot was rushed and his razor tipped arrow found nothing but dirt. Immediately the pair scampered away.

Discouraged, but determined not to give up, he quickly followed behind. It took a while, but my friend finally managed to work himself into position for a second shot! This time the range was a bit further, 40 yards or so. Upon releasing the bow string, Mark watched as his arrow struck the buck farther back behind the ribs than he would have preferred. To this day he is still unsure what went wrong. “The first time I missed him I just plain choked” he said. “But the second shot felt good from start to finish. I’m not really sure what caused that arrow to impact where it did”.

Nonetheless, he had just shot the biggest buck of his life and it wasn’t the best shot either. But, spirits were lifted after a short search revealed some good blood on the ground. Continuing to look for a brief time, Mark held hope that something good was going to happen. However, the rollercoaster that is bowhunting quickly threw a major decent into the ride as the heartbroken hunter bumped the trophy buck from his bed; watching him bound away for the last time.

Days passed by, Holidays came and left, friends joined in the search, but still there was no trace of Mark’s buck-of-a-lifetime. To make matters worse, it always seemed that when a spare moment was found during his busy workweek, snow was always on the ground; making recovery efforts even more difficult. Then, after weeks of horrible conditions, the weather finally broke, snow melted away, and the forest floor was revealed.

Quickly, Mark headed out to find his buck. Within 10 minutes of his search, there lying peacefully among a blanket of dead leaves and twigs, my friend found what he was looking for. He found his closure. Weeks of sleepless nights and days and days of “what ifs” had finally come to an end. Congratulations Mark on harvesting a tremendous, Southern WV buck. God knows you earned it.

CWD Confirmed in Minnesota Whitetail.

by Mike Willand 1. February 2011 13:07
Mike Willand

The first confirmed case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has just been confirmed in Minnesota by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. The deer was taken by a hunter in November of 2010 near Pine Island, located in the southeastern part of the state.

State of Minnesota Wildlife Officials are taking the disease as a serious concern to the overall health of the state’s whitetail deer herd. Since 2002, the DNR has tested more than 32,000 whitetail, 60 elk, and 90 moose all in attempts for the earliest possible detection in order to combat the disease.

Acting quickly in response to this confirmed case, Minnesota Board of Animal Health has established a CWD-endemic area which includes the area where the deer was taken and any land within a 10-mile radius of there.

Over the next several weeks the DNR will be taking information as well as investigating the entire Pine Island area. Minnesota hunters, landowners, and residents can expect a public meeting to be held sometime in February following these findings.

First found in Wisconsin’s wild deer herd dating back to 2002, CWD can now be found in 15 different states and provinces. Although considered not fatal to humans, CWD is fatal to deer, elk, and moose.

Bowhunting.Com would like to hear your opinion on controlling CWD in your own or any state. Do you believe Minnesota DNR is already over-reacting to just a single positively tested CWD deer? If your state already has CWD, do you believe your state has properly controlled the disease? How? Or, are you one of those conspiracy theorists who believe CWD to be made up by the major insurance companies? We want to hear from you no matter what you believe. Please leave comments below. Thank you!


Categories: Blog | Bowhunting Blogs

NEW Texas Record Whitetail Buck!?

by Bow Staff 20. October 2010 15:33
Bow Staff

There’s an old saying in the lone star state that many native’s love to repeat, “Everything’s bigger in Texas”. Apparently this statement includes whitetail bucks too! Check out this marvel, a 300” monster buck! It could be the state’s NEW record deer! Could be!?

Deer hunter, Mark Barrett, of the Las Raicas Ranch downed what could become the all time leader in the Texas state record books earlier this archery season. The buck has a reported score of 311 4/8” green gross, while still in velvet. And don’t let the fact it was taken on a ranch fool you, the buck reportedly has no scientific influence at all.  As Marko Barrett, son of Mark has stated, “the deer was a 100% native pasture deer that had not been manipulated in any way. He was a product of rain, protein, feed and patience.”

The staff here at Bowhunting.Com wishes to congratulate hunter, Mark Barrett, on what will certainly become the buck of a lifetime for him. Congratulations Mark, we look forward to hearing the news of your new record once the drying period has passed! Congrats!


Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

Man Given $23,000 fine after Illegally Taking Whitetail Buck

by Bow Staff 17. May 2010 12:04
Bow Staff

Whitetail deer hunting, much like any other activity man partakes in will always have a darker side to it. While the vast majority of us follow our state and federal regulations, those very few who do not, are often heard about most. Below you will read about an Ohio man who once walked into the same woods as we all do; only he would choose the wrong path. We don’t usually publish these stories, but this one should be read.

The buck in question was the largest typical whitetail buck taken in North America following the 2009 season. Scoring an impressive 197 2/8 inches, the buck was even in line to becoming Kentucky’s new typical state record. The buck however, was actually taken in Ohio.

Two law-abiding hunters from Adams County, Ohio had over 50 trailcamera photos of the deer. The hunter’s both new what an incredible buck they were hunting and decided to inform a local Ohio State Wildlife Official of the deer prior to the archery opener. With the 2009 season nearing, the buck would end up vanishing, one last photo being taken on September 6.

Months later at the Ohio Deer & Turkey Expo outdoor show in Columbus, Ohio, one of the hunters saw the buck at a booth. The monster buck's head and antlers were on display, with the engraved description below the mount reading, "New Kentucky State-Record Bow Kill." Immediately the hunter knew something was wrong and informed the proper authorities.

The next day at the expo, two Ohio Wildlife Officers interviewed John Clay, the hunter who took the trophy. At first he was very cooperative in telling his remarkable tale of the taking of the deer. But after the two officers took out a photo album containing over 50 photos of the deer alive, Clay knew he was in trouble. The officers immediately confiscated the mount, and left the expo to further investigate.

Hunter, John Clay, later admitted to poaching the trophy buck with a bow and arrow in Ohio, before the season began, then taking it to Kentucky and checking it in. This was not Clay's first wildlife law violation. He has had ten prior wildlife law convictions, including spending time in jail for several of those offenses.

As a result of the two officers' investigation, Clay pleaded guilty to four charges: taking a deer in the closed season, hunting without permission of the landowner, having no hunting license, and having no deer permit. He was fined $1,500 by the court, and an additional $134 in court costs, plus a loss of lifetime hunting privileges in the state of Ohio.

However, in accordance with a new law, which went into effect in March of 2008, the Ohio Division of Wildlife is seeking a restitution of more than $23,000 for the buck.

The restitution value for a whitetail deer in Ohio is determined by antler measurement, using a set formula, plus the value derived for wildlife. The formula, (gross score-125) 2 x $1.65 plus $500.

Bowhunting.Com wishes to hear your comments on the restitution fine of this illegally taken animal. Do you think this amount was fair? Do you think he got off too lightly? Please leave your comments below. Thank you.



Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

Ohio's Real 320" Buck could become the Largest Non-Typical ever Taken by Bowhunter!

by Bow Staff 3. November 2009 15:45
Bow Staff

When you think about it, I mean really think about it. It almost seems completely absurd that over the past 40 years of deer hunting some of the greatest whitetail bucks of all-time came not from today's "golden age", but rather from yesterday's first few seasons. You know.. before the compound was even a drawing and shotguns rarely fired over 40 yards.

The Jordan buck, which once stood at the top of the pile of giant typical bucks for nearly 80 years. Mel Johnson's incredible bow typical from Illinois taken in 1965. And of course the 1962 record non-typical Del Austin bow trophy, which is nearly unthinkable considering how few and far between deer encounters must have been way back when in Nebraska Mr. Austin. Not to mention the scarcity of food plots in the early to late 60's.

Could one of these bow records be at an end? Finally?

On October 19th, 2009, an Ohio hunter took this spectacular non-typical which is said to boast nearly 320" of bone on his head! While the staff here at Bowhunting.Com slightly disagrees with these early estimates, we have no doubt he topples the 280" mark. The hunter, who's name has yet to be identified, reportedly even has the match set from this buck after last years shed season, those antlers go 260"!


The hunting community as a whole is not yet sure on the weapon that was used, however early speculation is that the giant was taken with a crossbow.

Little more information is known at this time on this whitetails chances of becoming the new world record non-typical whitetail buck taken with a bow. The staff at Bowhunting.Com is dedicated to bringing this story to the surface and will hopefully be updating this story as it further develops. If you have any information on this possible record buck please don't hesitate to send it our way. You can email us at

Wisconsin Whitetail Down! Possible New Record Buck with 30 Points falls to Wayne Schumacker and His Bow.

by Bow Staff 22. September 2009 10:16
Bow Staff

Just one week into the big buck state of Wisconsin's archery season and there is once again talk of a possible new state record!

On the evening of September 20th, 2009, while most of the bowhunters across the country were still dreaming of the season that laid before them, Fon Du Loc resident, Wayne Schumacker was living his. At around dusk that eve, Wayne arrowed this huge non-typical buck, said to boast 30 scorable points!

Wayne was in a treestand over-looking partially wooded and flat terrain, when the buck stepped into view. The buck was shot, quartering away, at a mere 15 yards, only to expire around 70 or so. He had no time to get nervous, as he stated, "it was over in less than 30 seconds".

Wayne's hunting partner and brother was the first to find the animal. After a long drag and a struggling effort, the two were able to get the "once in a lifetime" buck into the tailgate of their truck. The buck was registered this past Monday, after Wayne put in 1/2 days worth of work.

The incredible buck carried an inside spread of 20 1/2", and field-dressed a whopping 225 pounds! Early estimates of the bucks age put him at about 4 1/2 to 5 years of age.

Bowhunting.Com wishes a HUGE congratulations to bowhunter, Wayne Schumacker, on this incredible whitetail trophy. The buck will have to wait the mandatory 60-day drying period before it can be officially measured, but either way, what a buck!

The staff here will update this story as we receive more information and it's final score and tally. Congrats again to hunter Wayne Schumacker.


Whitetail Buck versus Bucket! Captured on trailcam?

by Bow Staff 6. April 2009 09:58
Bow Staff

Imagine if you will, for just a moment, its archery deer season. You are in your treestand, perched over your favorite funnel where so many whitetails have met their maker. Its early morning still as the sun’s rays just peak over the eastern skies. The air is cool and the wind is calm. An almost perfect morning waits it’s unfolding. You slowly stand now; making sure the bow’s within reach, stretching your anxious legs.

In the distance you catch a faint glimpse of an object moving through the low brush. You know instantly what it is… a deer! Time dwindles by as the darker shadow grows larger now and the picture more clear… it’s a… it’s a… a buck??

Your hand already has grasped your bow, feet already moved into position. But to your own surprise something is just not right before you. You see the long tines of a buck as he nears, but something doesn’t seem correct. “Is that a raccoon in his rack”? You mumble to yourself, as you begin staring more intently at the now even closer deer.

As he passes within range your bow surprises you at full draw, and you don’t even know how it got there. Your pin finds the mark, settling just behind the buck’s shoulder. A moment later you release the deer’s final breath, and a mere 40 yards later, the buck falls.

Of course the story above is entirely false, but we at wonder what it might be like for such an animal to walk into our woods. What our reaction would be? What your reaction might be?

Do you shoot? Do you pass? Would the entire experience throw you for such a loop that it would cause the entire opportunity to just completely pass you by?

Our answers might different from yours, but we all agree that if any of us had an opportunity to take this buck and successfully did; we’d have a mount on our walls with a 5 gallon bucket still clutched within it’s rack. Cause, why wouldn’t you? What a story that would tell!

What would you do if such an animal, a whitetail buck complete with bucket, presented such a shot?

                                                                                                                                                                                       If this whitetail buck presented you with a shot... would you take it?
Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

GIANT Whitetail Buck Found Dead! Looking for Details!

by Bow Staff 25. March 2009 14:34
Bow Staff

Recently the staff here at has received these forwards by way of email of an amazing whitetail buck discovered. Although we have little information at this time, what an incredible deer!

It is not known at this time in what state this “dead head” was originally found or who it was even found by, and we may very well never know. But it is just jaw-dropping to look at these pictures that were included with the email. Can you imagine finding this buck!?

We can clearly tell by the eyes of the whitetail that the buck must have died rather recently before its finding. This is clearly evident by the eyes and nose which are still in excellent condition. We can guess that it was also likely found by a shed hunter, because of timing of year from date on the photographs. Since there are so many great whitetail mounts in the photographs background, It almost looks as though these pictures were taken in a taxidermists shop, possibly? And what of the two younger girls who are posing with this great head and rack? Perhaps they were the finders of this buck?

However one wishes to look at these photos, it is clear that this is an extraordinary find. The staff at is very interested, along with its readers, to find out as much as we can on this buck, it finding, and its history.

If you have any information on this incredible whitetail, you can email us directly at Thank you for your help; hopefully we can dig something up for all of our readers and our eager staff. 

                                                                                                                                                                                       What an amazing whitetail!?

                                                                                                                                                                                       Clearly this buck has some SIZE to him! Wow!

Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

Ontario's New Archery Non-Typical Whitetail Revealed!

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

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


New Non-Typical whitetail buck taken in Ontario confirmed!


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


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


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

Possible new provincial record whitetail taken in Ontario, Canada

by Bow Staff 2. March 2009 10:02
Bow Staff

The staff has recently received word of this incredible non-typical whitetail buck that could become Ontario’s new provincial archery record. Limited details are known at this time, but we are greatly looking forward to the story to be released soon.

The little information that is known includes that the bowhunter, Alex MacCulloch, took the trophy whitetail in the Durham region just northeast of Toronto. Total gross score is not known at this time, but it is said to have net scored an amazing 213 2/8! From what we can see of the bucks incredible tine length in the photo, we believe these numbers to be pretty accurate! staffers and readers are looking for any information on the details surrounding this amazing buck. If you have or know anything about this new possible record whitetail, please don’t hesitate to send it our way.

You can send your information here, Thank you.

One Million Dollar Whitetail Buck!?

by Bow Staff 15. February 2009 12:39
Bow Staff

Modern whitetail deer hunting and management today is as much a business as a hobby. Whitetail enthusiasts pay top dollar for good equipment, good land, and even whitetail genetics. Below you will find a true story coming to us from the State of Texas, where one particular GIANT whitetail buck is causing some entrepreneurs to reach for their wallets. A whitetail deer whose worth may be ONE MILLION dollars!?

The One Million Dollar whitetail buck.

With a 46-point rack and a Boone and Crockett score of 334, it's hard to
argue that a whitetail named Stickers isn't the biggest buck to ever
consume protein in Texas .. Sammy Nooner of Hondo brought Stickers home in
February. Since then, fellow deer breeders have been speculating on the
price tag. Some estimates involve seven figures for the 6-year-old
monarch buck, whose semen fetches $4,000 to $5,000 per straw. Noone r,
however, said the price is going to stay between him and the seller -
Tommy Dugger, one of the state's top deer breeders. 'It's probably as
high as anybody's ever paid,'' he said, 'but we're not letting it out;
Tommy and I have a gentleman's agreement.''

Damon Thorpe, director of operations for the Texas Deer Association,
said there are probably only two deer in the United States bigger than
Stickers. 'I think you can say with confidence he's the most expensive
deer ever in Texas ,'' Thorpe said. 'It's not inconceivable at all to
think a deer like that is worth $1 million.'' Dugger told the Lone Star
Outdoor News it would not be accurate to say the deer sold for one
million dollars. Wildlife consultant Chase Clark, who works with both
Nooner and Dugger, said the biggest buck title was previously held by
Jake the Dream Buck, which was owned by Dugger. Jake died of a
respiratory illness in the winter of 2005, Clark said. In the meantime,
Dugger acquired the up-and-comer Stickers, who was born in 2001 on the
Glen Morgan ranch.

But Stickers had something else going for him, Clark said. This deer is
the offspring of a doe impregnated by artificial insemination with semen
from an Ohio legend named Redoy Ben. The elder whitetail, who was only
about 2 years old at the time, showed a lot of potential, Clark said. Redoy B en died that same year, also to a respiratory illness.
Nevertheless, Clark said the big deer's potential was realized through
his son, Stickers. 'It wasn't until October of 2006 that a tape was put
on those antlers,'' Clark said of Sticker's headgear. 'Now Stickers
represents the ultimate in the Texas deer breeding industry.''

Nooner, a South Texas gasoline distributor, is also known for the
quality dove hunts he offers from his base in Medina County .. 'We just
wanted to help the genetics,'' he said. 'It was fun just trying to see
how big a deer could grow.'' But Nooner may be on the verge of seeing
his profits grow as well.
'Let's assume he did pay $1 million for the deer,'' Thorpe said. 'All he
has to do is sell 200 straws to get his money out of him. You can easily
get that in a year, and do it safely.'' But despite his pedigree, Nooner
and Clark agree there's nothing uppity about Stickers. 'Some deer are
more nervous than others,'' Clark said. 'They don't do well in breeding
operations. But Stickers is pretty laid back. 'He's great at posing for
the camera.''

The staff at Bowhunting.Com wants to hear your thoughts on this incredible whitetail story. Would you, if you could, pay the possible 1 million dollar price tag of this buck based purely on speculation?

Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

30 Point Whitetail Buck Harvested

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

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


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

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

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

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

Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

Another Big Illinois Bowkill

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

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


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

The buck is almost the size of this cow elk.


The cape on this buck beautiful as well.


Here you can get an idea of his mass.

Bowhunting Pine Ridge Archery Style

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

Pine Ridge Archery Competes in Campbells 2008

by Todd Graf 4. November 2008 14:03
Todd Graf

I have been hunting the last 4 days with Jim Broberg, owner of Pine Ridge Archery, in Jo Davies county. Jim's home is near a new piece of property that I have been hunting so it was hard to say no when Jim asked me to stay at his camp. We have all been hunting hard the last week, but with this warm front it seems to really have shut these deer down. I guess we'll just have to wait a few days until the weather changes which are right around the corner. Marie's wife had some really good meals all prepared and the accommodations were perfect.

While I was in camp I asked Jim and Brian why they were not competing in the challenge this year and here was their response:  “This year, we made a shift in who is competing for the title in the Campbell Outdoor Challenge.  Instead of us, Team Pine Ridge Archery is being represented by two other Team Pine Ridge regulars, Scott and David Bakken.  Scott will be the cameraman while his brother David will be drawing a bead for the team.  Both of them are great hunters and worthy camera operators, but with Scott scoring on his largest buck ever on WI opening day he gave the reins to his brother David for the competition. Needless to say, we are all hoping that Scott and David "Team Pine Ridge" would pull off a win at the Campbell's Outdoor Challenge. We got some exciting news when they arrived in camp on Sunday as they took 2nd place. The boys were able to harvest a 164 inch buck on the last morning of the Challenge to pull out of 5th place into 2nd.

Congratulations Guys!

Last year Justin from Team won the challenge and has just arrived in camp to protect the title. For those of you who don’t know what the Campbell’s Challenge is here is an expert from there site:

The Campbell Outdoor Challenge features team competitions in “The Sport of Filming Hunts” and is open to anyone wanting to compete, regardless of age or experience level. Teams are awarded points based upon required video footage and the maturity of the animal filmed during the hunt. All outdoor challenge events are for wild, free-ranging game and hunts being filmed are conducted under the rules and regulations of the hosting states.


Here are some behind the scenes photos:

Here is a shot of all the teams competing in the challenge.


First deer harvested for Team Pine Ridge Archery.


On the last day they pulled off a super nice 164 inch Buck with great video footage!

The boys show up at camp taking 2nd place with a nice buck in the truck.

With warming temperatures we wasted not time getting this buck into the freezer.


Here we're all watching the footage that was captured during the hunt at Campbells.


I won't give away all of the details you will have to wait to see the full TV Shot. But it got exciting!

We'll I got to get to bed and get ready for another 5 days of hunting. The temps are getting colder and it's time to find another buck.

About the Authors

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

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