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Edge Your Way in to a Trophy Buck

by Josh Fletcher 24. August 2011 11:15
Josh Fletcher

With archery season quickly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about stand placement.  Hunting is an odds game, you have to be in a high percentage location for the most success.  Those locations are often funnels such as bottle necks and travel routes such as edges. Deer along with many other animals, including humans are creatures that love to travel along edges.

Hard Edges

There are two types of edges. The first are hard edges, they are a major break from one terrain to another. An example of a hard edge is a field meeting woods, the location of two terrains meeting together. Deer love to travel these edges; however most bucks love to travel the hard edge from inside the woods.

This map shows the line of a hard edge. Expect a mature buck to travel inside the cover of the woods and not in the open field.

A classic example of how deer travel hard edges was a hunt in Bayfield County during the pre-rut when I was scouting the edge of a large clear cut. I noticed several scrapes out on the clear cut’s open edge, however inside the woods approximately seventy five yards along the south east corner of the clear cut there were numerous large rubs. The rub line paralleled the clear cut’s edge. The dilemma I had was deciding if I was going to place my stand on the open edge overlooking the clear cut that had scrapes along it, or inside the woods overlooking the rub line. Knowing that most trophy class public land bucks won’t feel comfortable exposing themselves out in the open of the clear cut, I opted to hunt the trail that followed along the rubs that parallel the open edge.

As the sun began to rise that cold November morning it wasn’t long when I heard a snap from a broken twig and the swishing of leaves from shuffling feet. A big north woods eight point was walking along the trail of rubs inside the wood line. I quickly came to full draw, made a grunt with my voice to stop him, and made a perfect shot on a stump just over his back, never to see that big brute ever again. Yes, buck fever got the best of me. As I sat there in my stand I began to analyze what made that set up a productive one, minus the poor shot.

For starters there where several trails that ran straight from the woods to the clear cut, there were about a half dozen of these north and south trails (from woods to clear cut.) Then inside the woods on the south and east side of the clear cut approximately seventy five yards in the woods was a trail that traveled parallel to the clear cut that was littered with rubs.

The above map shows how deer use hard edges. Hunt the cross trail to intercept a buck this fall.

What this big brute was doing is waiting till mid-morning, to let any possible does that were feeding out in the clear cut time to travel the north and south trails directly back to bed for the morning. By traveling on the east and west trail, he was able to cross trail or check each north and south trail as he crosses them to scent check for a hot doe. After checking one trail, he continued east until he came to the next trail and checked that one. He continued to do this until I decided to send a warning shot in his direction.
Big bucks are opportunistic and during the rut they are working at peak efficiency trying to scent check and cover as much ground using as little energy as possible. This buck was not only scent checking trails but he was traveling in the south east corner of the cut over. By doing this he was also able to use the wind to his advantage. With a North West wind, any scent of a hot doe would be blowing to the south east right into the nose of this old north woods buck. Also the rubs I found where made either by him or other bucks taking out their aggression and leaving scent markers of their travel route which was on the cross trail.  Even though I was not able to seal the deal on this buck, it is a classic example of how deer use hard edges.

The author's brother, Clint Fletcher harvested this buck while hunting a hard edge consisting of a pine plantation meeting open marsh grass.

Recap About Hard Edges

•You will find majority of scrapes along the open side of a hard edge.
•Look inside the woods of a hard edge for a cross trail that parallels the field.
•Hunt the cross trail on the downwind side of a field especially during the pre-rut and seeking phase.
•Focus your efforts just off of the field edge into the woods. Unless during the rut, most trophy class bucks will not expose themselves to the openness of the field.   They will always maintain a position of cover.
•Hard edges are most productive during the pre- rut.

Soft Edges

The second type of edge is called soft edges. These are two terrains that are semi different meeting in a same location. An example of a soft edge is an oak hard woods meeting a cedar swamp. Soft edges can also be a location in the woods of the same tree species but different arrangement, basically where a thick stand of pines meeting a more open stand of pines. The soft edges are my favorite edges to hunt, however you must be observant to spot these edges, as I have often found that the most productive soft edges can be hard to spot.

The above picture shows thick short pines meeting tall open pines, creating a soft edge.

An example of a soft edge is an area on a piece of property I used to hunt. It was an oak hardwoods draw that was approximately two hundred yards wide. I set up my stand more in the center of the draw hoping to catch a buck traveling in the draw feeding on acorns. On every occasion I saw deer traveling approximately eighty yards to the south of me. Enough was enough and I knew I needed to move. As I walked over to where I was seeing the deer traveling, I noticed right away why all the deer where traveling to the south of me. Most of the draw was open oaks, however south of my original stand location was a thick line of blackberry brush and the deer where walking along the edge of the brush. With most of the draw being wide open, the deer felt more comfortable traveling along the thick black berry brush, using it as a point of reference for them to travel though the draw.
Another example of a soft edge was the buck I shot last fall. I was hunting a soft edge consisting of jack pines meeting poplar trees along a drainage ditch. There was a trail that funneled down through the jack pine point, leading to the drainage ditch, the trail then crossed and followed the drainage ditch to thick red willows. It was the end of October and a doe being chased by two bucks, the second was the one I shot. The doe used this soft edge to elude the two boys that were chasing her.  Whether it is early season or late fall, deer travel soft edges to get from one location to the other.

The author harvested this buck last fall as he chased a doe along a soft edge.

Recap about soft edges

•Soft edges are subtle and often over looked.
•They can be productive at all times of the season.
•Soft edges make great travel corridors during the rut.
•Deer often travel along soft edges because they use them as a point of reference when traveling. Much in the same way we travel on a particular road to work every  day.
•Unlike hard edges, set up on the more open side of the edge, and make sure you are with in shooting distance of the soft edge.

In conclusion, animals are creatures of habit and edges. The next time you take a walk in the woods, pay attention to the terrain that you walk though. When you stop and think about it, you also travel edges just like deer. The key is to take a step back and study how you would travel through the woods because often deer travel the exact same way, and that travel is along some form of edges whether it be a soft edge or a hard edge. Pay attention to this and key in on edges this year to edge your way in to a trophy buck this year.

Gamehide Elimi Tick Clothing Review

by Cody Altizer 22. August 2011 05:10
Cody Altizer

As many serious bowhunters know, bowhunting for whitetails isn’t a sport that one can be consistently successful at by simply walking into the woods each fall and hoping for the best.  It takes a lot of time, effort and hard work.  This means spending time year round in the woods shed hunting, scouting, monitoring trail cameras, planting food plots and doing anything possible to gain an edge on a mature whitetail.  To do that, you need gear designed for the hunter who spends their entire year- in all weather conditions- in the field.  Enter the Elimi Tick Series of clothing by Gamehide Gear.

Hanging trail cameras along over grown field edges is a great place to intercept a traveling buck, but also pick up nasty ticks!  Fortunately, I didn't pick up and ticks, but did I catch any bucks on trail camera?  Only time will tell.

The entire Elimi Tick line of clothing is insect and tick repellent, making it a useful piece of gear during the late spring all the way into fall, or whenever ticks or other troublesome insects are a problem in your part of the country.  This comfortable and durable line of clothing is great for any project or adventure you may have planned in the woods that may lead you to cross paths with pesky insects.  Personally, I am a huge fan of the Five Pocket Pants.  I had an opportunity to put them to the test this past week while doing some last minute projects on my property prepping for the upcoming bow season.  I spent two straight days hanging treestands and cutting shooting lanes along overgrown field edges and checking trail cameras in super thick bedding areas and at the end of the weekend, not a tick one found its way onto my body.   Needless to say, I was pleased.  Not a deer hunter?  This line of clothing is perfect for any naturalist, hiker, turkey hunter, or anyone who simply enjoys spending time outdoors.  It’s a versatile piece of clothing.

After hours of trimming shooting lanes, I still could not find a tick one on my body.  Pretty impressive!

Similar to scent control clothing, one could easily refute the effectiveness of insect and tick repelling clothing.  Maybe there were just no ticks in the areas I was working this past weekend?  It was awfully hot and dry; not your ideal tick weather.  Maybe it’s just a coincidence that I made it through hours of work and came away tick-less.  Fortunately, there is some science backing these quality made products.  All Elimi Tick clothing utilizes Insect Shield Repellent Technology that bonds a man made version of tick repellent (naturally found in chrysanthemum flowers) so tightly to the fabrics inner most fibers, that it’s nearly impossible for a tick to latch on to your clothing.  Couple that with the fact that the repellent in Elimi Tick clothing is odorless and invisible and it makes you wonder why you wouldn’t be wearing Elimi Tick garments when scouting or working on land projects.

The Elimi Tick line of clothing is perfect for deer hunters, yes, but also for anyone who likes to get out and casually enjoy the great outdoors.

With the prevalence of Lyme disease growing rapidly, it would be foolish to not at least give Elimi Tick a try.  If you are interested in learning more about Elimi Tick clothing and the many quality products for sale by Gamehide gear, check out their website.  I do, however, insist you give Elimi Tick clothing a try, you will not be disappointed. 


It's Never Too Late to be Scouting for New Hunting Land

by Marshall Kaiser 25. April 2011 03:18
Marshall Kaiser

Spring is the time of year to get out and scout for new hot spots: look over maps, talk to farmers, landowners, DNR biologists, anyone who can give you information or access into some great hunting land.  We have all been there: driving around checking out fields, watching some nice looking deer grazing on the fresh greens, or longbeards struttin’ on the backside of an old cut cornfield.  Whose land is it?  I wonder if I could hunt it? How much land is available?  Is it public, private, Forest Crop Land (FCL- possible huntable land?) Who owns it and where are the boundaries?  How do you go about getting these questions answered?  Simple: plat books.  They have been around for years and have been getting more and more user-friendly as the time passes.  I have been using plat books for over 20 years, and they have gotten me into some very nice hunting land.  You would be surprised at how many people will allow you to hunt if you just ask. As hunters we need to represent the sport in the best ways possible, by asking permission, offering help on the property or being willing to pay a lease fee, are some great ways to keep up a positive image with landowners.  If you are denied, so be it.  Politely say thanks and move on to the next possibility.

As far as my home state of Wisconsin, our plat books are divided into the 72 counties.  Each county is then divided into separate townships.  As you can see in the picture, a township is a six mile by six mile square piece of land.  The squaring off of the land allows these imaginary lines to be our lines of longitude and latitude to help define a specific location.  Out of the 36 sections in each township, they are divided into one mile by one mile parcels which make up 640 acres in size.  The sections are then quartered into four 160 acre quadrants.  Thus the land can be broken down even further.  The confusion begins in trying to name the location of the section by using the description technique found in the front of every plat book.  I have shown a picture of how this can be done, or you can just follow the directions; starting backwards and working your way from specific description out to the section number tends to be the easiest. 

Here is a picture of how townships are divide into 36 sections each 1 mile by 1 mile.


The 1 mile by 1 mile section is now divided into 4 quadrants and broken down even further if needed

A real advantage of the newer plat book is the topographical map it includes as well as the ownership map on the opposite page.  This allows you to look over the land from above to find rivers, funnels, hidden fields, boundary lines etc.

This is a copy of a section that is open to public hunting in Marathon county.

Most Midwestern states have plat books for their counties.  Here is a list of just a few other states that have RMP (Rockford Map Publisher) plat books: Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and of course Wisconsin.  These little books can be a huge help in finding some great hot spots. They also make great gifts. 

Prepare Now To Kill Your Whitetail Buck Next Fall

by John Mueller 7. February 2011 15:05
John Mueller

There are many things you can do this time of year to increase your odds of killing a buck this fall. This is the time of year you can unravel buck movement, create bedding areas and hone your shooting skills.


The woods can reveal many secrets this time of year. The leaves have all disappeared from the trees opening up the forest and allowing us to see rubs, trails and in some cases scrapes much easier than earlier in the season. If some of your bucks did make it through the season and return to your woods this fall, they just might show up at some of the places they called home last fall. You can find their hangouts by locating clusters of rubs or scrapes. And if snow is on the ground it makes it easier to spot their favorite bedding areas. Trails show up well in the snow and could lead to discovering a new pinch point. Trail intersections are always good places to hang a stand.

Shed hunting can help by telling you which bucks made it through the season and will be even bigger next fall. It may even let you know about bucks you never knew existed in your woods.

So put on your cold weather gear and go for a hike in the deer woods. Now would be a good time to check out those bedding areas too. If you bump a buck now it more than likely won't cost you a chance at killing him next fall. And seeing exactly where he likes to hang out in certain wind conditions could lead to his demise.

Land Maintenance

Winter is a great time to do a little maintenance on your hunting grounds.

Take to the woods with your chain saw and create some bedding cover. By hinge cutting trees you can create a tangle of fallen tree tops bucks love to bed in. The thicker the better. This also creates instant browse from the buds and tender twigs on the fallen branches. Then when spring comes the added light reaching the forest floor will produce tremendous new growth from seed lying dormant under the leaves.



Spreading lime or fertilizer on food plots now will ensure the nutrients are taken down into the soil with the spring thawing and rains.

Over seeding your clover plots in late winter will fill in bare or thinning spots as well start new plants when the weather finally does break.

Sharpen Your Skills

Winter is a great time to join indoor leagues at your local Archery Pro Shop. Many of the better shops now have indoor 3D shoots, 3D pop up or video archery leagues. By keeping your hunting skills sharp throughout the year, you'll be ready when fall comes and that shot at your buck presents itself.




What are you doing this winter to increase your odds of tagging that wall hanger?






Summertime Prep; Scouting Velvet Bucks & Hanging Treestands

by Justin Zarr 22. July 2010 14:31
Justin Zarr

The end of July is getting close which means a couple things for us bowhunters.  First and foremost, archery seasons are just around the corner.  We're now less than two months to the start of Wisconsin bow season, and less than 3 months until Illinois opens.  Anyone who hasn't already hung their treestands or started shooting their bow on a regular basis needs to get their butt in gear!  These lazy days of summer also means a great opportunity to glass soybean fields for velvet bucks.  Although you can't shoot them yet, they're still pretty fun to look at!

This past weekend I took a trip with my good friend Mike Willand to a new lease he has in Northwestern Illinois.  Mike takes his scouting extremely seriously and spent countless hours walking this farm during the spring looking for not just shed antlers, but analyzing the available deer sign and formulating a plan for this fall.  As all successful hunters know, the more work you put in now the more successful you'll be later and if that holds true, Mike just may come home with a truck full of bone come October.

During this July scouting trip we had two primary goals.  Number one was to hang another treestand specifically for morning hunts.  The way this particular farm is laid out, only about 1/2 of it can be hunted in the mornings without cutting across the primary food source and bumping any deer that may be in it.  So having plenty of options for wind directions is a must.  With a little help from his Treehopper belt, Mike was able to safely hang his treestand in no time and we were off. 

The second goal of the night was to try and spot some whitetails in velvet and see what kind of headgear they're sporting.  So after sweating our butts off hanging the treestand Mike and I split up for the evening's scouting mission.  Unfortunately my mission was an utter failure.  I saw a doe and fawn in the field on my way out and that was it for the rest of the night.  Zip.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada!  I did however get in a few good games of Blackjack on my phone.  While I was keeping myself occupied with that Mike did manage to see a couple deer, including one decent buck he has nicknamed "Little Rob".  Unfortunately a gang of coyotes came onto the field about 30 minutes before dark and cut our scouting mission short.

Check out the video below for a full recap of our stand hanging/velvet scouting adventure.

The view from my luxury box back in the weeds with the flies, ticks, snakes and blackbirds.

Supplies for the evening: Camera bag, cell phone, gloves, water, Gatorade, and a granola bar.

Nope, no deer here!

Bowhunting a Brawling Buck

by Jessica Edd 19. July 2010 13:48
Jessica Edd

With over one million pronghorn (nicknamed antelope) in the American West, most of which inhabit Wyoming and Montana, one would assume that these animals would be an easy kill. However, thinking like this can have you eating tag soup for years to come. These animals are highly specialized to live in their vast prairie environment. Their incredible eye sight allows them to pick up movement as far as three miles away which the human eye would require at least a 6 power binocular lens to acquire.

Along with its eyes used to spot predators, antelope also have speed on their side to out run them. An adult antelope can reach speeds of up to 60 mph and maintain 30 mph speeds for miles if necessary. Catching one is a near impossibility for most predators unless said predator is a 125 grain bullet. However, when you’re launching arrows at the quick footed antelope, you need to change your approach. There are several different methods to hunt antelope but most people choose to use a blind on a waterhole. Spot and stalk is also popular especially combined with the use of antelope decoys.

Deciding where you’re going to set up your antelope blind is no different than picking a good tree for your deer stand. There are a lot of factors that go into your blind placement including location, wind direction, type of blind and timing.

Finding a good water hole is a must because like every other animal on the planet, speed goats need water and in the high mountain deserts these animals inhabit, sometimes it can be hard to find. Watching the antelope in your area will tell you what time of day they are moving into water and how long they stay there. Because these animals have such a large territory, however, you may never see the same goat twice but you can get a good idea of what’s going on in your hunt area by doing some scouting.

Wind direction is an obvious key factor because as we know all too well, your scent can bust you more than most anything else. The wind in the area I hunt generally comes out of the southwest (and in Wyoming, the wind is always blowing) so it’s usually a good idea to try to set up a blind on the northeastern side of a water hole. Obviously because the wind can change direction at anytime this isn’t fool proof but it can be helpful information to have and deserves a little research.

Choosing what blind you want to hunt from is as personal of a choice as any of the equipment we use but there are definitely some that work better than others. Because there isn’t the advantage of trees when hunting the sage goat, a full blind is much better than a partial blind. A group of antelope can easily come up on your back side which will then require you to hold solid until they are able to get you out of their line of site. The Bone Collector blind from Ameristep is a good design because its venting system allows for a little bit more air movement which can be a lifesaver when enduring mid August temperatures that reach into the 90’s. The blind’s dull finish also reduces the reflection of the sun which is essential when trying to outsmart an animal with such good eyesight.

When you set up your blind is also very important. Because it’s not something that’s going to blend in what so ever as it sits alone alongside the water hole, you want to set it up early. The antelope will notice something new has moved into the neighborhood but if it’s there for several weeks and doesn’t present a threat, they will get used to it and it won’t bother them.

Because not everything needs to be made a beer drinking sport like blind hunting sometimes is, the spot and stalk method will get you on your feet or even your hands and knees and keeps you moving all day. As has already been mentioned, the antelope’s eyes are nothing short of amazing and will most likely spot you long before you know the goat’s location. A good pair of binoculars will give you a much needed edge and is essential to looking out over the plains in hopes to find your big buck. The Leupold Cascades 10x42 binocular have proved in the past to hold up to the winds and dust of the west which are known to be hard on equipment. Sage brush doesn’t lend much coverage so the terrain will fast become your friend. Big bucks who don’t have does in tow will try to get on a higher point or edge of a ridge in order to scope the landscape for predators and threats. No matter how good they can see though, they still don’t have eyes in the back of their head and putting a sneak on their back side while they lay in the sun is a good way to get an advantage. When reaching within the 50-70 yard range, dropping to your knees and sometimes even belly crawling is going to be required in order to stay out of their line of vision.

If crawling through cactus, sage brush, thistles and rocks doesn’t sound like a good time, employing the use of a decoy such as the Carrylite EZ Goat Antelope Decoy can also be useful. If you’re within 60 yards or so the buck will notice the decoy and will start to get uneasy. Throughout most of the year, antelope maintain a peaceful herd but during breeding season, the bucks can get a little wound up. Dominant bucks will have patience for subordinate bucks at water holes and out in the open but they fast lose them if the smaller buck thinks he’s going to move in on the does. Mature antelope bucks will charge a smaller buck in order to get rid of it and when he’s packing 120 pounds behind a 50 mph punch, he can definitely do a lot of damage.

Most antelope decoys come with labels warning people not to stand behind the decoy but I can’t stress the seriousness of this warning. People don’t realize how fast these animals can move and will not necessarily mean to be standing behind the decoy when a buck has charged them. Basically, the best recommendation is to set up and get out of the way which is not only safer but will provide a much better shot.

Whether you choose to wait out the antelope in the hot summer sun or put your body through pain as you crawl over cactus, successful antelope hunting isn’t always easy. Picking the right equipment is important and knowing the land of your hunt area is key, but having patience and a plan is what will get you your goat. 

Mid-Summer Deer Hunting Preparation

by Todd Graf 14. July 2010 16:07
Todd Graf

The heat of July is on, food plots are putting on some serious growth and for those who took the time to do soil tests and fertilize the tonnage will being coming soon.  This is only my 2nd year of really putting a lot of effort into my food plots and it's amazing how much I've learned.  A little bit of hard work really does go a long way and I've really noticed the increased amount of deer on my property. 

Sending soil samples out for pH testing is critical in order to know the proper type and amount of fertilizer to use for optimal growth.

The photo belows shows how quickly your plots will blow up when they are fertilized and PH levels are in check.  With a little help from mother nature food plots can really grow at an unbelievable pace.  Only 15 days and look at the difference in this plot!

Now that July is here and the bucks have started to pack on the inches, it's time to get your trail cameras out.  I prefer to start them on the edge of soybean fields, or on mineral stations where  legal.  Personally, I like to stay out of the woods now and not put any pressure on resident bucks. If I do enter I try to make plenty of noise to give the deer a change to get out, this way I don’t sneak up on them and bust them out of their beds.  Below are some of the nicer bucks my trail cameras have captured so far this summer.

Summer is a great time to get photos of more than just velvet whitetails.  These two does look like they're really going at it!

While I was up in Wisconsin putting out some trail cameras and getting my stands ready for September, my nephew Anthony came with to help out.  He's really showing some interest in hunting which is great to see.  Anytime you can get a kid interested in the outdoors and take him with you, do it!  It's a lot of fun for both of you.

Here's a shot of my pops trying to keep the horse flies away.  If it wasn't for him taking me out in the woods when I was a kid who knows what I'd be doing now!

If you have apple trees in your hunting areas I like to spread 13-13-13 fertilizer under the edge of the outter branches to help the production of apples.  I did this earlier in the spring and wow did it make a huge difference.  My apple trees are FULL of apples this year, which should make for some great hunting come October.  The deer cant resist them.

Now is the time to start getting those plots ready for this fall.  August is prime time for planting turnips, wheat, buck forage oats, winter rye and brassicas.  All of these make great attractants for fall hunting and are relatively easy to plant.

Killing off the current vegetation is the first step in prepping for fall food plots.

Justin and I are headed to Wyoming next month to chase antelope, which means it's about time to start shooting broadheads already.  The deer hunting season will be here before you know it!

Warm Temperatures in the Midwest; Great News For Hunting Food Plots!

by Todd Graf 20. April 2010 15:02
Todd Graf

These recent warm temperatures and relatively dry weather has been great for those of us who want to get any early start on our food plots.  Unlike last year I am already ahead of schedule by two weeks which is always a good thing!

My fertilzer tests were done early, the results are back already and fertilzer has been spread.  Additionally the majority of my fields have been burned off or mowed off, my clover has been planted and I just had a large group of seedling trees planted as well. I have to admit I am feeling ahead of the game.  I decided not to chase any turkeys this spring, but instead to focus on making adjustments so I can hopefully put myself in a position to havest a nice buck this fall.  So far things have been going very well and I'm really pleased with the progress I've made.

This spring I am going to test forage beans and a sorghum plot to see what kind of wildlife I can attract, and how well those plots hold up.

As you may have seen in some of my earlier Blogs and video posts, shed antler hunting was a sucess this year as I did find a few more then usual.  Myself and a couple good friends of mine picked up quite a few antlers in and around my winter food plots, including the matched set to a buck I call "Flyer".  He is #1 on my hit list for this fall.

With the bowhunting season less than 5 months away now (in Wisconsin anyways) I'm starting to think about some new gear and getting everything tuned up this summer.  After my trips to the ATA Show and both the Iowa and Wisconsin Deer & Turkey Expos I've put together a short list of some new products that you should be keeping an eye on for this fall.  If you're in the market for some new gear you may want to check these out.

Mathews Z7 compound bow - I shot this bow at the Wisconsin show and man is it smooth and fast.  Mathews has always been regarded as one of, if not the best, bow manufacturer out there and it's not hard to see why with bows like the Z7. Also, if you haven't read the full blown compound bow report that we put together on of all the new bows for this year, check it out

Camtrakker MK10 Scouting Camera - everyone knows I'm a trail camera junkie and having tested the new MK10 recently I think there may be a few more of these in my scouting arsenal come summertime.  This new camera takes 5 MP photos both by day and night, and has the option of either a standard strobe flash or infrared flash, which is a very unique and awesome feature.  You can purchase the MK10 right here on by clicking this link.

New Archery Products 2 Blade BloodRunner - I shot the 3 blade version of this broadhead last year and was super impressed with it's performance.  Now that the 2 blade version is out with it's enormous 2 1/16" cutting diameter I'm looking forward to heading into the field with these on the end of my arrow this fall. 

Reconyx new Hyperfire Series Trail Camera - although I haven't had a chance to use one in the field yet, if these new cameras perform anythng like my RC55's and RC60's do I think they will be a super hot ticket for bowhunters this fall. 

Pine Ridge Archery Ground Blind Camera Mount - last year I purchased a new ground blind to hunt from with my son, and we had a blast together.  The trouble was, with two of us in the blind it got really cramped with my big video tripod.  This new camera mount from the guys at Pine Ridge Archery takes up barely any room and it works for both filming your own hunts as well as filming with another person.  Great tool!

Havalon Piranta Knives - in case you missed our video review of this product earlier this year, you have to check these things out.  They feature a replaceable razor blade which means you get the sharpest blade possible every time.  No more messing with sharpeners or trying to use a dull knife when field dressing or caping out your next trophy.

Knight & Hale Ultimate Fighting Purr Call - even though I may not be chasing turkeys this spring, I know a lot of you are!  This new call from Knight & Hale is an entire fighting purr system in one compact unit that can be used with just one hand.  Click here to purchase in the store. 

Knight & Hale Pack Rack - Another great compact calling option from Knight & Hale is the Pack Rack and new Pack Rack Magnum.  This compact call simulates the sound of two bucks fighting and is contained in one compact package that provides ease of mobility and use.  Great for bowhunters who want to pack light and not lug around a full set of rattling antlers.  Click here to purchase.

Summit Treestands Switchblade - Summit has long been known for the comfort of their treestands and the Switchblade is no exception.  The Switchblade is basically the same as the popular Viper in a new collapsible version for easier transport in and out of your hunting area. Look for these in the shopping cart later this year.

Code Blue Grave Digger lures - available in Whitetail Doe Estrous and Whitetail Buck Urine, these lures stay strong regardless of weather conditions.  This means you won't have to refresh your mock scrapes and scent stations as frequently even after it rains.  Be on the lookout for these products in the cart later this summer when they become available.

Another thing I want to mention are a few of the new websites that have recently been designed and built by us here at the Rhino Group.  For those of you that don't know, we develop custom websites for many businesses in the hunting industry.  Below are a few of the more recent websites we built that you may want to check out. - The Legends of the Fall is a brand new TV show airing this summer on the Outdoor Channel featuring a few notable faces that you may have seen over the years on Drury Outdoors videos and TV shows.  Mike & Bonnie McFerrin, Eric Hale, Chris Ward, Mark Luster, and Dave Bogart have teamed up to create this new show that is packed full of both monster bucks and good laughs. 
 - This new website for Robinson Outdoor Products (Scent Blocker & Scent Shield) features a complete upgrade of their existing shopping cart along with a ton of great interactive features like a trophy gallery, video clips from popular TV shows like Michael Waddell's Bone Collector, Tech Tips, and much more. 

 - also known as the Mossy Oak Rustiks brand, Legacy Quest Outdoors offers a variety of products made from rustick and antique woods that have been collected from a variety of sources including old barns, railroads, bridge trussels, and other unique places.  If you're looking for a great way to bring the rustic feeling of the outdoors into your home or cabin you won't want to miss this!  A full online catalog and shopping cart lets you browse their selection of products from the comfort of your own home and order most of them online.


If you have a business in need of website development, whether you are in the hunting industry or not, give us a call at 847-515-8000 and find out what the Rhino Group can do for you.  Or check out our online portfolio at

All in all I am looking forward to a great year and I want to take a few moments to mention a new friend of mine and more importantly the doctor that has saved my son's life. My son Craig, age 5 at the time, was diagnosed with an extremely rare health issue - increased intracranial venous pressure over a year ago.  This high pressure in his brain caused him to lose vision in his left eye and also caused a subdural hematoma (blood inside his head). Dr. Ali Shaibani was able to figure out Craig’s problems had recognized that Craig was missing his left sigmoid transverse sinus and had a large occlusion in right one. This was causing backpressure in Craig’s head and if untreated would have lead our little man to even worse places. Dr. Shaibani was able to successfully place a stent in Craig’s brain to decrease the pressure. This is a very rare case and Craig is on the recovery track. The cool part is I have been able to get to know Dr. Shaibani more closely and wouldn't you know it - he wants to start bowhunting! I am very glad that I've been able to kick start his hunting opportunities and I look forward to helping him harvest his first deer this fall.

Dr. Shaibani with his new Diamand Stud bow setup, purchased right here at  Thanks for being so good at what you do!

My little man starting his way to a healthy recovery.

Todd Graf - Strength & Honor!

Maximize Your Bowhunting Success: Location, Location, Location!

by Justin Zarr 27. January 2010 07:17
Justin Zarr

With the passing of each bowhunting season I feel that I learn a little more not only about the game I hunt, but about my shortcomings as a bowhunter.  This has been especially true the past several years over which I feel I've grown quite a bit.  Although I don't have a wall full of Booners to show for it, I have had unquestionably some of the most productive hunts of my life, while at the same time having some of the most unproductive hunts of my life.  Which brings me to the point of this particular blog; maximizing your opportunities and successes for next year.

Like most bowhunters I have a fairly limited amount of time to spend in the woods each fall.  Between my weekends and a few vacation days I average probably 20-25 days in the field, nearly half of which are spent behind a camera as of late.  Needless to say, I need to get the most out of each one of those hunts if I hope to be successful.  There are quite a few variables that go into having a successful hunt and as I have found out the hard way none are more important than location.  You can be as scent free, quiet, and accurate as possible but if the shot never presents itself you've goten all dressed up with essentially no place to go.  The right location can make even a mediocre hunter appear great, and the wrong location can make a great hunter appear mediocre.

When I talk about maximizing your opportunities for success I don't just mean finding more or better hunting grounds.  I mean abandoning stands and entire hunting areas that are not producing the results you are looking for.  That has been one of my biggest hurdles to overcome in the past several years.  Memories and personal attachments to certain spots keep us coming back year after year, but what for?  Can we really afford to be wasting several days a year on spots that have rarely or in some cases never produced?

This past weekend I ventured out to look for shed antlers, pull a few of my cameras that have been out since November, and check on a few stands to make sure they didn't grow legs and walk off.  One of the areas I ventured into is a farm that I've been hunting since 2001.  In the 8 years of hunting this spot I have seen, while hunting, 3 shooter bucks.  Only one of which was within bow range, and unfortunately a bad shot ended with nothing more than a bad memory.  This past season I hunted there for a total of 5 sits and saw only two deer.  I ran a trail camera all summer and fall and got photos of two decent bucks, both well after dark, and both never returned.  So after nearly a decade of punishing myself by hunting an area that clearly is never going to produce the size or quantity of bucks I'm looking for, I've decided to pull my stands and move on. And to be honest, it's difficult to think about NOT hunting this spot.  But if I want to acheive my goals and give myself the best chances of taking a nice buck, I need to move on.

While both of these bucks are very nice, these are the only two photos I was able to capture of them all year.  Both photos were taken well after dark, and neither buck was seen during daylight hours by myself or anyone else hunting this particular farm.  A lot of bowhunters may choose to stick around and hope one of them wanders by during shooting hours, but after 8 years of cat and mouse with the bucks on this farm I'm finally throwing in the towel and moving on.  Am I crazy?

Fortunately for me, I have several other options to explore and promising areas to hunt which helps ease the pain a bit.  However, it wasn't always this way.  I spent 5 seasons bouncing from lease to lease looking for an area that could produce on a consistant basis until I finally found one.  Unfortunately it's 5 hours from home and I can't hunt it as much as I would like!  Which brings me to my next point; changing locations doesn't always mean pulling up stakes and moving halfway across the state.  Sometimes it's as simple as moving a few yards.  Someone once told me that the difference between a good stand and a great stand is 20 yards.  This single statement has stuck with me for years and had a huge effect on my hunting.

Over a 2 week period my trail camera captured 17 buck photos over a community scrape located along a travel corridor.  Of those 17 photos 12 were taken during daylight hours.  Clearly this information tells me that this is an area where these bucks feel safe and are frequenting during legal hunting hours, and is an area I should focus my attention on next year.

How many of bowhunters sit the same stands again and again after seeing that big buck just out of range?  Only a few more steps and you would've had him!  This must be a great stand location!  Then it happens again.  Another buck comes by and he's either just out of range or busts you before you can get the shot off.  So close again!  So you come back to that stand for the rest of the season, and maybe the next, and even the next, all the while hoping that maybe that buck will come just a little closer next time.  But after hundreds of hours on stand and some great stories to tell your hunting buddies your tags are still unfilled. 

Ask any bowhunter who has been consistantly successful at harvesting big whitetails the secret to their succes and they will tell you one of two things, and neither one of them is luck.  Location and hard work are the two ingredients to being successful on a regular basis according to virtually all of whitetail hunting's elite.  That means no longer being happy with just seeing deer, but getting close enough to kill them.  In many cases this means staying mobile and not falling into a state of complacency once the season starts.  Don't just sit in the same old stands because they're already in the tree or because they're the easiest walk from the truck.  If you want to be successful you have to hunt where the deer are at.  Click here to read my blog on mobile bowhunting for more information on my techniques and some of the gear I use to help me maximize my chances.

I shot this buck in 2007 after seeing him feeding on acorns several nights earlier.  After my first encounter I came back with another treestand and moved in 50 yards closer to where I had seen him.  Two nights later he showed up and the rest is history.  If I was simply complacent to see him, and hope that he came to me instead of me going to him, I may have never gotten a shot.

Trail camera photos can lead to one night stands.

by Scott Abbott 27. November 2009 05:20
Scott Abbott

Trail camera setups can be as complicated or simplistic as you choose to make them.  I personally stay on the simplistic side of things as I am not trying to "pattern" bucks with their use, but rather get a better look at them after I locate a buck I am interested in from summer glassing. For me it all starts in the summer.... I will spend countless hours and evenings glassing the areas I hunt looking for big whitetail bucks.  Once I locate some bucks of interest I move in and set up cameras and leave them up anywhere from two weeks to a month on the property. 

Leaving cameras up and checking them over and over again all summer is pointless to me.  Once I get a better look at the buck(s) in question, I know right away if he is an animal I am interested in or not.  Once my curiosity is satisfied I pull the cameras not to return with them again, unless a new buck is found on that land I need a better look at.  I err to the side of caution by only placing them on field edges or just into the timber. Deer are used to activity in these areas so you can get away with a little bit of human scent around these setups from your trips in and out.  If you are trying to setup trail cameras on their travel routes or bedding areas I feel you are setting your self up for early season failure.  With my personal focus on early season success, I do not want to tip anymore of the odds in the whitetails favor. 

I used summer glassing to locate this buck this past July.  I then moved in and set my DLC Covert II Assassin trail camera up for 2 weeks and got the photos I was looking for. He turned out to be the largest buck I located on land I can hunt.

October 17th found me in a particular stand for the first time this year with a strong, and very rare for my area NE wind.  I was setup just outside of his bedding area (beds located during shed season) and was able to capitalize on my preseason efforts in a big way!  Chances are I may not have been setup in that area had I not known this guy was in there. 

If you do your summertime homework by locating the bucks, move in and setup the trail cameras on their food source, pull the cameras out after you get the info you need and save those bedding area stand locations for the perfect wind and conditions I bet you will have a better shot at success this fall.


DLC Covert II Assassin Trail Camera.

by Scott Abbott 26. October 2009 05:52
Scott Abbott

This new product brought to market by Covert Scouting Cameras caught my eye right away when I first noticed it at the ATA show this past winter.  "Covert" is the perfect name for such a camera, it's tiny only 5 1/2" high x 3 1/2" wide x 2 1/4" deep.  It literally fits in the palm of your hand.  It's small stature coupled with it's infrared flash makes this camera very hard to detect by game and thieves alike.  Without looking for this camera it would be very easy to unknowingly walk right past it.

I had the privilege of testing this superb unit over the summer.  This trail camera is hands down the best I have used to date.  I got over 8000 pictures on one set of 8 AA batteries!  The cost of running this camera is minuscule.  In time this camera could nearly pay for it's self from it's low cost of operation compared to other cameras I have experience with.  It also comes with a 2 GB SD card so other than adding batteries it is ready to go right out of the package.

The camera is equipped to take either 3 MP or 5 MP photos backed by 24 high intensity LED bulbs packing a 40' flash range.  I will admit to never testing the unit on the 3 MP setting.  I only ran the unit set on 5 MP and it took fantastic photos both day and night.  The LED lights do a nice job on the photos after dark.

Below is a sample of a couple day and night photos. Keep in mind the photo quality suffers quite a bit when I resize and upload them to the blog.  They are much more crisp and vibrant before manipulating them.

These first two photos showcase the cameras fast trigger speed.

 Features of the Covert II Assassin trail camera include:
-24 "high intensity" Infrared LED's with a 40' flash range.
-Adjustable sensitivity for the PIR motion sensor.
-The camera comes with a 2 GB SD memory card.  The unit accepts cards from 8 MB to 2 GB in size.
-Adjustable from 1 second to 60 minute delay.
-Adjustable from 1 second to 60 second video length.
-The case includes a sun / rain shield over the lens and PIR unit.
-Industry standards such as locking tabs and a waterproof seal.
-1 year limited warranty.

These cameras can be viewed at or and you can reach Dave who is very helpful at for all of your Covert camera questions or needs.


The New Moultrie Gamespy i45 Trail Camera

by John Mueller 2. September 2009 08:33
John Mueller

I decided I needed one more trail camera for this season so I ordered the new Moultrie Game Spy i45 from the store. It was waiting on my front porch for me when I got home this evening. It’s so nice to find things like this on the front porch after a hard day at work!

The new Game Spy i45 by Moultrie.

One reason I chose the i45 is it has the option of sending my photos directly from the camera (with an added option) to a website for viewing over the internet. I haven’t purchased the necessary equipment yet, but it’s a neat idea. One I may consider in the future.

Some of the features on the i45 are:

  • Infrared sensor for immediate game capture
  • Imprinted photo strip with temperature, moon phase, time, date, and camera ID
  • Color day pictures/IR(black and white) nighttime pictures
  • 5/15/30 second video clips
  • Multi shot trigger up to 3 shots per trigger
  • 4 picture resolution settings/2 video resolution settings
  • Port for optional power panel
  • 4.0 MegaPixel camera
  • This camera looks to be very well put together. The housing is very sturdy and seals up weather tight. I like the way the top opens up to the controls and the SD card is very easy to reach unlike my older Moultrie cams.  It looks like Moultrie really listened to their customer feedback when designing this new unit.

    The case is well built and more compact than my older Moultrie cameras.

    I really like the easy access to the SD card, much better than on my other Moultrie models.

    A couple of things I found that I didn’t care for are the color of the case and that I cannot read the SD card in my digital camera. The case is almost glossy black which seems to make it stand out more. It does have a nice bark finish to it, but I think a gray color would make it much less noticeable to deer and other hunters. I really liked the fact that I could view the pics from my other Moultrie cams on my hand held digital camera. I guess this one uses a different format, so I can no longer look at my pics in the field.

    The included strap makes for an easy attachment to the tree, but a grey color would blend in much better in my opinion.

    Now I just need to get the unit out in the woods. I’ll do another review after I get a week or two of pics on it and let you all know what I think.

    In the meantime if you'd like to try out one of these new cameras you can purchase them here in the online store by clicking this link.  I think these are going to be a big seller for this fall so get yours before they're all sold out!

    Setting up a lockon treestand, climbing sticks and trimming shooting lanes.

    by Scott Abbott 5. August 2009 08:25
    Scott Abbott

    Every now and then you come across a spot that just tells you to put a lock on up rather than pack in your stand for the hunt.  This spot only tells me that once every 3 years though because of the crop rotation on the fields.  It is a long walk from my parking area and right outside of a bedding area that is located 100 yards East of a corn field (I do not have access to the property with the corn field).

    I always take in extra screw in steps when setting a lock on and climbing sticks.. You never know when you may have to go a couple extra feet to clear some branches.

    Because of these circumstances of the close proximity of a bedding area and the very long walk I decided to put a lock on up for the season rather than pack in a stand when I hunt it.  It is a spot that I will hunt a few times throughout the year as it ties into each stage of the season from early season staging, to prerut seeking, to the ruts chasing and again to late season staging.  I can get into it with our SW winds without any problems of spooked deer as well. 

    Here my buddy Frank is attaching the climbing sticks.  He was a huge help, as it's a tough job by yourself to set it all up and cut the lanes.  We often tag team stand setups on his lands and mine. 

    Now the lock on is being attached to the red oak that just seemed to be in a great spot.

    With Frank in the stand here I am with a 14' pole saw knocking out some shooting lanes. 

    Here you can see how valuable of a tool these are as you can really reach out and trim some branches that would otherwise be out of reach.  To follow is me wrestling with a larger branch... It was kicking my butt, but I ultimately won the battle!


    Op. Massive deer tracks captured with two cool trailcam photos!

    by Scott Abbott 3. August 2009 03:21
    Scott Abbott

    Two months into my quest to locate the buck who was leaving some big tracks on my hunting grounds is finally a success.  I had a camera up for two months with no results just some young bucks, does and fawns. 

    The night before last I finally decided enough was enough. With less than two months until the start of deer season, I needed to determine who was leaving behind the big tracks.  That evening was perfect for big buck movement as we had storms blow through earlier in the day dropping the temps and bringing in a nice layer of fog for that evening.  About 45 minutes before dusk I saw a tall rack bobbing along 500 yards away through my spotting scope.  Between the fog and the distance I could see it was a lopsided rack but couldn't gather any more details.  So yesterday I checked the spot and sure enough... There were his tracks in the wet dirt.  I then moved a camera into position knowing that I would be back there today to hang a stand in a new area to take advantage of a great spot from this years crop rotation. 

    Today when I arrived I went straight to the Covert Assassin II camera hanging on a fence post to see if I got any results last night...  The overnight recon was a success as I got about a half dozen pictures of this buck with two beautiful dawn photos.

    I really don't know how I feel about this buck as far as a shooter, I just don't think this is what I am looking for.  He is a great buck, only stand time and a shot opportunity at him will really let me know how I feel.  If he gives me that feeling (you know the one) I will take a shot, if not I will keep looking for something else.  Just as of now, it's a no go.

     With out further ado....  The "Massive Tracks" buck!

    He looks like he has a broken off g2 tine on his left side, you can see some dried velvet hanging down in the photos.  The time is off 12 hours on the camera however.  It was 6:14 AM not PM.


     One of the night photos of him.


    Blind buck captured on trail camera.

    by Scott Abbott 30. July 2009 21:15
    Scott Abbott

    Well, not completely blind anyhow.  To follow is a few photos of a buck who appears to be blind in his left eye as well as a non typical antler on the same side. 

    He appears to be at least 3 years old and has always traveled alone when I have got trail cam photos of him at my mineral lick.  The trail camera photos really make me wonder what happened to him to cause the damage...  Was it a tine from a sparring match, a tree limb or possibily he was born that way? 


    Any ideas?



    One buck, three years of antler growth.

    by Scott Abbott 25. July 2009 22:26
    Scott Abbott

    Here is the only buck that I have ever got three years worth of photos from.... I thought it was a cool progression of photos showing his changes each year. Hope you guys enjoy it.

    He started out as a decent looking yearling...  These first four photos were taken using a Moultrie D40 trail camera.



    He didn't put on as much antler as I expected as a 2 year old, but he was a decent 100-110" buck anyhow.



    Now as a three year old he took off pretty well, he has a great frame and spread.  I think he is now a pretty solid buck who I would shoot if given the opportunity this fall as we have a good bit of history together.  I saw him in 07 and 08 as well as finding his match set of sheds last winter.   These next two photos were taken with a DLC Covert Assassin II trail camera.  The deer in the last photo was blacked out to avoid any confusion on the buck in question.


    The Four beam buck.... Chapter four.

    by Scott Abbott 25. July 2009 06:42
    Scott Abbott

    The story continues..... (Past entry )

     Many hours of glassing this summer have yielded zero sightings of this buck.  Knowing I would not be able to glass this past week from overtime at work, I put a camera up to keep tabs on what is going on.  A lot can change in a week as far as deer activity and I didn't want to miss out.

    To my udder shock and amazement, I found a few photos of this buck.... In daylight!  All the hours I spent glassing here this year... Nothing of him.  Four days into the week with my camera keeping tabs on the area he shows up.  Kind of funny how it works out.  I would have rather saw him for the first time this year in person rather than via camera but I am just glad to know he is still around.  

     From the photos it looks like he is a 7X3.

    Here are the photos!






    The "Tank" lives on?

    by Scott Abbott 11. July 2009 07:43
    Scott Abbott

    I had glassed some decent bucks on this property a few weeks ago so I set a camera up to hopefully get a better look at them.  I could tell one had a non matching unique rack from first glance. Reminiscent of the "Tank".  ( link to a journal entry on him )

    If this guy isn't the same bloodline as the "tank" than that sure is a remarkable concidnce... Feeding in the same fields on the same farm that the "Tank" did.  The non-typical side of each buck is eerily similar although on different sides....  The Tank went missing fall of 2007 and this buck appears to be a 2 1/2 year old for 2009.

     What do you say....  The "Tank" lives on, or just a coincidence?  I'd like to hear your opinions.

     The "Tank"....


    The buck in question....


    Operation Massive Tracks.

    by Scott Abbott 10. July 2009 23:16
    Scott Abbott

    For the better part of the last month I have assigned myself to "Operation Massive Tracks".  In early June I was checking out the progress of the beans at one of my hunting spots and cut the trail of a great set of tracks.  The area I found these tracks in is a small portion of the field that is not planted due to the farmer not getting all of the new drain tile in before planting season begun this spring.   Next year this spot will be in agriculture again.

    Since the discovery, I have been glassing the area roughly three evenings per week for the past five weeks and have had a trail camera monitoring a mineral site for the past four weeks. I have not had any results finding a clue to who left these impressive tracks behind yet.  I really can't say if these tracks were left by a buck traveling  through this property to his summer grounds else where or if they are from a local buck I just cannot get on.

    Here you can see it (the track) is a little better than a four finger wide walking track at the widest point.

    They are also a splayed four finger track from the dew claw to the leading edge of the track.  A slammer of a track on all accounts.

    On the way out today from checking the camera I saw this guy hanging out catching the last little bit of nice weather before the heavy thunderstorms rolled through the area...  Sure hope he hasn't been feasting on my""massive tracks" buck that I cannot locate!

    Case closed on the "Tank".

    by Scott Abbott 16. March 2009 09:32
    Scott Abbott

    Summer 2007 while glassing a bean field I located a nice bachelor group of bucks using a drainage ditch as a travel corridor to exit a swamp that they were using as bedding cover.  I didn't have my digital camera with me that day so I went back the next three nights hoping to see them repeat their movements through the ditch.  The third night was a success and they made an appearance before night fall.  Even with my camera tapped out to it's 10X optical zoom maximum, it just wasn't enough to really see what the bucks were packing.   I could tell they were all good bucks and I could see the ones left and right side didn't match.  Curiosity was getting to me, I really wanted to know what these guys were packing.

    The buck all the way to the left is the "Tank".

    Soon after I formulated a plan and set a game camera up to take advantage of this travel pattern they were using.  The mission was a success, as I got many photos of each of the bucks.   When checking the memory card for the first time my buddy says, "Man that bucks body is a tank!"  From there on, he was known as the Tank.   He featured a solid typical four points on his right and an odd shaped three point main frame and a kicker on his left.

    The Tank in full velvet.  Impressive neck and body size for August.

    We are now almost into hard antler, a cool photo showing him shedding his velvet.

    Finally, hard antler.

    Even though he wasn't on my "hit list", I never did see him during hunting season and did not get any more trail camera photos of him once our archery season opened the first Saturday of October.  So many times over the years hunting season closes and I have high aspirations to find the sheds of some of the better bucks I located over the previous summer / fall.  Sometimes I am lucky enough to locate some of their bone, but most times they just seem to have disappeared.  I did find the right side of the biggest buck of this bachelor group last winter, but found nothing of the tank or the "Tall Ten". 

    While walking a very nasty multi flora thicket today I could see a solid four point side 30-35 yards ahead....  Five minutes later I finally wrestled my way over through the green briar and I immediately recognized the remains as the Tank.  I examined the skeletal remains as best I could for a clue to his death but I couldn't find anything to convince me of what happened.  It really is bitter sweet finding the remains of a whitetail you have history with.  I had always hoped he just moved on to another area, but this just wasn't the case.     

    Closure has been found on the Tank and the case is now officially closed.  I always had a soft spot for this buck because I shot a buck here in 2003 that had similar non-typical growth on his right side (pictured below).


    Making a Mock Scrape.

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

    Making a Mock Scrape 

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


    Notice the broken branch above the deer.



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


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



    This guy looks like an old bruiser.


    Another big bodied visitor.


    A good young buck working the scrape.

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

    Nikon Binoculars: As tough as They Come

    by John Mueller 25. September 2008 14:06
    John Mueller

    I have had my pair of 10x42 Nikon Monarch Binoculars since 2005. I first bought them to take on my Elk Hunt to New Mexico. Now I use them every time I am in the woods whether hunting or not. They are a great tool for long range scouting. They were definately a couple of steps above my old Tasco model.

    One of my favorite features of this model is the rubber coating on the housing. It serves a dual purpose. It protects the unit form severe shocks and dings. And believe me mine has seen their share of dings. No worse for the wear tho.  And it makes them very quiet when they come into contact with metal or plastic objects on your jackets, safety harnesses and tree stands. That was really annoying on my last pair. Those metal buttons and zippers really made a racket when the binos rub against them. Always at the wrong time too.

    The view through the lenses of these binos are crystal clear. Makes it easy to tell if that movement you saw was a big old buck or a trophy squirrel. The light gathering ability is great when those last minutes of daylight are slipping away too. Lets you know if it's safe to slip out of your stand or if you are being watched.

    The 10 power is great choice for the average hunter. Any more magnafication and you loose to much field of view.

    All in all I have been extremely happy with my Nikon Monarchs. If I lost them tomorrow I would have to get another pair just like them. Mine really take a beating during bow season. Between bouncing around in my truck cab and clanking off of everything as they swing from my neck, they have been put through the torture test.

     If you need a new pair of binos or just want to upgrade, you can purchase these from the shopping page by clicking here


    Final Preparations For Bowhunting Season

    by Justin Zarr 21. September 2008 16:38
    Justin Zarr

    It never seems to fail; no matter how good our intentions are for getting stands hung and trimmed out months before the season starts, life seems to find a way to deviate us from those plans.  In my particular case, I've been planning a wedding for the past 13 months which has taken a lot of time away from my normal routine of scouting, stand hanging, and general preparation for bowhunting season.  In fact, it's less than 10 days until the Illinois archery season opens and I haven't purchased my tags or even shot any broadheads yet!  Although I do plan on getting a few shooting sessions in this week if at all possible.  I'll be back in town on October 5th and plan to hit the ground running when I get return, so it's definitely time to start getting things in gear.

    This past Saturday Mike and I spent some time hanging the last few stands, trimming the last few lanes, and making the last of our pre-season preparations at our local hunting spots.  It's amazing to me how grown up some of these stands can get after only one season.  Shooting lanes that were clear last year have grown over and needed a little bit of TLC before the season opens, which is just what we gave them.  I was able to give my Hooyman Extentible Tree Saw its first workout of the year and overall I was happy with it.  I'm a little hard on my saws and pretty critical of their performance, but overall it held up well.  It definitely works better as an extentible saw than a traditional hand saw as the handle was a little flimsy for my liking.  My Felco hand saw still can't be beat for standard duty, but for those pesky limbs and twigs that are out of arm's reach, the Hooyman works great.  I would definitely recommend this product to any bowhunter who does a lot of standing hanging both before and during their bowhunting seasons.  If you're interested in trying one out, we have them for sale in our shopping cart right here on for only $38.99.

    We also happened on our first rubs of the year as well.  With the bucks having shed their velvet their testosterone levels are starting to pick up a bit so we should be seeing more and more rubs pop up over the next few weeks, and pretty soon a few scrapes as well.  I can't wait!

    This is the kind of stuff that should get every bowhunter excited for the fall!  We found this fresh rub in a heavy fencerow between two standing corn fields that connects two small woodlots.  It's a great place to catch a buck traveling if they leave the corn up.  But once the corn comes down these bucks don't like being caught out in the open during daylight unless they're chasing a hot doe in November.

    Speaking of hard horned bucks, I got my first trail camera pictures of bucks who had shed their velvet.  One is a tight-racked 10 pointer that I have several pictures of throughout the summer months.  I originally thought this buck was older than he really is, as he looks like a 2 1/2 year old buck to me.  He also exhibits the exact same characteristics of so many other bucks on this property over the past 6 years we've been hunting it.  Narrow rack, short brows, and G3's that are every so slightly longer than his G2's.    I don't think he has the genetics to blow into anything huge, but I guess we'll have to wait and see over the next few years if he makes it through.

    This buck is a perfect representative of the type  of genetics we have on this particular farm.  Year after year, fresh crops of bucks pop up with racks that look identical to one another.

    The second buck was the first antlered deer photo I've gotten all summer on what we call the "main farm" property.  It's hard to be totally sure, but I believe that we got a few photos of this particular buck last year during the late season.  At the time he had what looked like a fresh wound on his left side and we wondered if he would make it through the season.  Well, if this photo is indeed the same buck (and I think it is) it looks like he's doing just fine.  He appears to be either a 2 1/2 or 3 1/2 year old buck with either very small or no brow tines.  I'm sure I'll get a few more looks at him this fall once I get my cameras over some scrapes, so I'm looking forward to getting to see his rack a little better.  This is also the 2nd group of photos from my Cuddeback Capture and so far I've been very happy with it's performance.  Flash range is good, batteries are holding strong after nearly a month, and I haven't had any motion-blur problems like I did with my Cuddeback Excite.  For a $200 you can't beat it right now.  Check them out over at, we have them in stock and ready to ship!

    It's a little hard to tell from this small photo, but this buck appears to have some healed-over scars on his left side just behind his shoulder as well as right in front of his hind leg.  I think this is the same buck we got two photos of last year during the late season.

    This will probably be my last update until October as I've got a busy week ahead of me followed by my wedding next Saturday (GULP) and then a week-long trip to Mexico.  I should be nice and rested when I get back and ready to get in a tree and shoot something!  Good luck to everyone who is hunting - be safe and shoot straight!

    Summer wouldn't be complete without at least one trespasser randomly walking through the woods that are clearly posted with "NO TRESPASSING" signs on all 4 sides.  I just wish the photo was a little bit more clear so I could make out who this jackrod is, and what we's got in his hand.  Kinda looks like a camcorder to me??

    Pre-Season Check-up: Food Sources

    by Scott Abbott 7. September 2008 11:10
    Scott Abbott

    The clock has been ticking time away, summer is now all but gone. I look at the calender to find myself three Saturdays shy of opening day.  This time of year is always hectic. Finishing up chores at home, checking game cameras, getting our gear tuned up and loose ends taken care of for autumns duties.

    Today I spent a few hours checking on the local agriculture, as well as the hard and soft mast crops.




    Most of the beans in the area are still green. A few fields are starting to show the signs of the impending harvest season by turning yellow.  I anticipate the deer moving out of the beans in the next couple weeks.



    The corn kernels have dried out and the stocks and leaves are now turning yellow like the beans.  As you can see the animals are feasting on an outstanding growing seasons bounty.  The corn harvest will be some of the best in years.



    Disappointed, I was not able to locate any areas with a high concentration of white oaks bearing mast.  The acorns were hit or miss.  All that I was able to locate were still green with very few of them on the ground.   This could very well be a blessing with the acorns still green.  With any luck they will wait to drop on or after our opener on September 27th.



    The apple output this year is phenomenal, the wildlife are scarfing up the cast apples as fast as they fall.  I only wish I had an apple grove to set up on this fall. I am sure they will be a hot food source around opening day where they are available.

    Longing to run into an old friend.

    by Scott Abbott 3. September 2008 12:31
    Scott Abbott

    If there ever was a buck that I would love to get an opportunity to have 20 feet below me and 20 yards out.....  This is him. 


     A velvet photo showing a broken tine hanging down still attached by velvet.


    In hard antler.

    My first sighting of the double beam buck was summer of 2007. I was glassing a bean field adjacent to a dried up swamp that is now a tall weedy bedding area. He exited the tall weeds and followed a ditch East along the backside of the bean field.  He drank from the ditch and then waded into the beans. I glassed him numerous times in the beans last summer and also had quite a few trail cam photos of him. He quit being active during daylight hours in mid to late August.  From there on out I had no more sightings or photos of him while the sun was up.  I did however get trail cam photos of him after dark into early September.  Mid September on I had no confirmation that he was still around, no sightings, no trail cam photos, nothing. 

    As October turned to November, I found myself sidelined with a shoulder injury and missed the rest of the season....  Game over for the year.... The rut came and went as did our shotgun and muzzleloader seasons.  Was he shot by another hunter?  Did he leave the area?  Had he been hit by a car?   None of the other guys who hunt this farm had laid eyes on him either, he seemed to vanish.  I had all of these questions, but no answers....  That is until one evening last winter I was out shed hunting and came across a familiar sight a few yards ahead....


    He had broke off his brow tine as well as a kicker
    point off his base since my last sightings of him.

    There laid the double beam side of the buck I had all those questions about and thought so much about.... It felt good to know that he was still alive and in the area.... Although, many more hours never turned up a find on the other side.  The non-typical side is all it took to get my enthusiasm rejuvenated for another round with this whitetail.

    This year has started no different than last year ended... I have not saw or got a trail cam photo of him this year. But what's new? Persistence payed off last year with this shed, hopefully, it will again this fall with an opportunity at the buck I covet so much.

    Trail Cameras & Horseflies

    by Todd Graf 30. August 2008 15:05
    Todd Graf

    I have finally admitted to having a problem when it comes to trail cameras - I am addicted! I just really enjoy using and trying all of the camera models. I can still remember the film days, collecting all the film out of my Camtrakkers and rushing to Wal-Mart to get the photos developed in an hour. I know I am not the only one who did that! I don’t even want to think about how much money I had spent – I try to forget those days. Digital cameras rock. Many of you know that we have launched a new site where our pro-staff is reporting which trail cameras really work well and which ones don’t. Check it out at If you have any questions or comments let us know.  We're also working to make sure that we have all models in stock and ready to ship so if you're looking for a new trail camera, be sure to check us out.

    Here are some photos from this year - take a look……


    Camtrakker - The highest quality digital trail camera pictures you'll ever get! 

    Another shot from my CamTrakker - you simply can't beat them for quality photos!

    At TrailCam.Com we're committed to testing them all!!! We will keep you informed this season to which one of the trail cameras we test works the best.

    A shot from the new CamTrakker MK-8 - It has a super long lasting battery and the flash range is amazing.

    This shot is from my new Reconyx RC60.  I saw the Drury's pushing this unit so I had to give it a chance. So far I have been impressed with it. Battery life has been good, photos are clear both day and night but the IR range could be a little better. I am still testing this unit -  I will let you know my final thoughts later this year.

    The horseflies are really starting to tick me off this year, I don't think I have ever seen them this bad!

    First hard antlered buck of the summer!

    by Scott Abbott 28. August 2008 11:58
    Scott Abbott

    It is almost that time..... I am now exactly one month away from Ohio's 2008-2009 bow opener. The anticipation has been building and last evening I got another shot of adrenaline while pulling out of a gas well access road after checking a game cam. Across the road in a very lush and green soy bean field was a bachelor group of four bucks. It was a hodgepodge of a bachelor group if I have ever saw one as well. A yearling spike, an 80 inch eight point, a 110 inch eight point and a very good looking 10 point, in hard antler I would put into the low to mid 140's!

    Unfortunately, I was unable to get any photos of them. I did however run into a few more bucks as I drove to another farm. I snapped this photo about 3/4's of a mile down the road from the farm I hunt. Not a slammer, but a solid buck none-the-less.


    Cuddeback Capture: First Look

    by Justin Zarr 27. August 2008 08:47
    Justin Zarr

    Several months ago reports started popping up that Cuddeback was set to release a new trail camera for this fall, called the Capture.  As one of the more widely recognized names in the industry needless to say we were excited to see what these new cameras would offer.  This past week our first Capture arrived at the office.  Here are our first impressions.

    There are two models of the new Capture available, one with standard flash and one with an IR flash.  Both cameras are 3.0 megapixels in both day and night, and are priced very reasonably.  The standard Capture retails for $199.99 and the IR version for $229.99.  To date only the standard-flash cameras have shipped out so that’s what we’ve had the chance to test.

    If you’ve seen any of the new print or TV ads for this product you’ll notice that the main feature Cuddeback is trying to push is the ease of use.  A lot of cameras we’ve tested have settings that are buried several levels deep into the menus and can be somewhat cumbersome to figure out at first.  Let’s face it, none of us want to sit around and read a 20 page manual and spend an hour trying to figure out how to use our trail cameras.  We want to open them up, put batteries in them, strap them on a tree, and be on our way.  With the Cuddeback Capture, you can do just that.

    Both Capture units feature a new rotating dial system for controlling the camera settings and arming the camera in the field.  There are only two push buttons, which are only used for your initial time/date/year setup.  Once you take care of those, which takes less than a minute, you don’t have to use them again.  Once your camera is set up and in position you simply rotate the dial to the time delay you want (30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or 30 minutes), close the cover and walk away.  It truly is a very user-friendly interface.

    Like the older Cuddeback cameras the new Capture also uses 4 D-Cell batteries for power.  Although unlike my C2000 Excite the battery system is much easier to use.  The batteries actually slide into the case underneath the main cover and aren’t held in by that cheesy metal plate that I always had problems with in the past.
    Also new with the Capture units is the switch from Compact Flash (CF) cards over to the more industry-standard SD cards found in most other manufacturer’s units.  This is great for those of us who have a bunch of cameras and have been managing different types of cards.  Not to mention SD cards are more readily available and cheaper than CF cards.  A big thumbs up to Cuddeback for finally making the switch.

    My one complaint on this camera is the fact that they did away with the screw-in fastening system found on my older units.  I really liked this method as it added one small measure of security for my cameras.  I could screw them in, fasten the face plate, then put a small padlock on it that made it more difficult for thieves to run off with.  The new Capture units no longer have this option and instead come with a more traditional strap system.  It works fine for what it is, but now there is no easy option for locking the Capture unit to the tree.  Even if you put a padlock on the door that only prevents someone from opening it, not from removing the strap from the tree and taking the whole unit.  Definitely a step backwards in my opinion.

    My new Cuddeback Capture went out to the field last night and I plan on checking it next Saturday to see how the trigger speed, flash range, and image quality is.  I tested it inside my house a few times before putting it out and the trigger speed looks like it’s on par with my older Cuddeback units, and image quality definitely appears to be higher than my C2000 Excite.  As soon as I have an update, you’ll be the first to know!

    If you'd like to purchase a new Cuddeback Capture digital trail camera we have them in stock and ready to ship over at our sister website!  Retail cost is $199.99 and you can purcahse your new Cuddeback Capture by clicking here.

    Categories: Justin Zarr

    Summer Sightings

    by Justin Zarr 22. August 2008 09:59
    Justin Zarr

    The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, and summer is finally starting to wind down.  Here in Northern IL we had a great summer for deer sightings and trail camera photos.  The spring rains and moderate temps throughout this summer have allowed the crops to flourish and bean fields that started off slow are now more than waist-high.  As many people know quite often the single best time to spot deer during the entire year is during the summer while they're relaxed and on fairly predictable feeding patterns.   Just about every evening from mid-July through mid-August you can take a right around and spot deer feeding in fields, front yards, and anywhere else they can find food sources high in protien. 

    Unfortunately I live a good bit away from both of my hunting spots so to get my fix of deer sightnings without spending a fortune on gas I stayed closer to home and patrolled many of the backroads and forest preserves in the area.  I decided to bring my still camera with me and experiment a little bit with some amateur photography while I was at it.  I am using a Nikon D40 camera with a 55-200mm 4-5.6 VR lens, for those who are wondering.  It works well enough for now but eventually I'd like to get a nice f2.8 telephoto lens.  Too bad they're a little out of my price range for right now!  The photos are cropped and color correct to make them look a little better than my photography skills really are.  

    Here are a few of the shots I got during some of my trips.  I hope you enjoy them!

    This nice 2 year old was with a group of 7 other bucks feeding in someone's front yard while I took pictures of them for close to 20 minutes.

    A beautiful summer evening in Northern Illinois.  You've gotta love it!

    Fawns are always fun to watch and this one didn't seem to mind me one bit.

    This buck was with another giant that I couldn't get a shot of through the trees.  The amazing part is they were at least a mile from the nearest woodlot and walked up a pencil thin fencerow along the back of some houses to get to this bean field.  It's amazing how much a buck's stomach will dictate his movements throughout the year.
    Categories: Justin Zarr

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