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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

Meet ProStaff Member John Muellers Target Buck - Bakers Dozen

by John Mueller 18. August 2011 14:48
John Mueller

Well it took until the middle of August, but I finally got a MONSTER on one of my trail cameras. It had been a slow summer with only a few shooters and some 2 year old teaser bucks showing up on the trail cameras. That is until “Baker’s Dozen” showed up. He is truly a monster buck by anyone’s standards. He is a beautiful 12 pointer with a small sticker off his left G-2.

My jaw hit the floor when I saw these pictures.

I had put out my trail camera next to a soy bean field on a small farm close to home where I have permission to hunt. I’ve had a camera overlooking this area all summer hoping for a good buck to show up. While I did get a few bucks frequenting the area throughout the summer there wasn’t really a buck I wanted to shoot showing up here with any regularity. So on my way home from work one night I stopped and pulled the camera so I could hang it on a new farm I will be hunting this season. After I downloaded the pictures and found “Baker’s Dozen” on a few of them I wished I had left the camera there to see if he would be a regular visitor or if he was just passing through. But now I’m glad I didn’t leave it there. I plan on staying out of that area until the first time I hunt it, carrying my Lone Wolf climbing stand and setting up an ambush.


Here's another shot of "Baker's Dozen", my #1 target buck for 2011.


His rack actually makes his body look small in this picture.

My question is, where has this deer been all summer and why hasn’t he showed up before now? I could see if it was the rut and he was traveling all over searching for hot does but this is the middle of the summer and I always thought that bucks were pretty much home bodies this time of year. He has everything he needs right in the immediate area. There is a soybean field 10 yards away and a small pond less than 100 yards through the woods, plus there are good bedding areas located nearby too. A storm went through this area and blew down a lot of trees making a jungle out a good chunk of the woods.


I wish he would have posed a little better and stood still.

I’ll admit it I will be spending a good deal of time hunting this buck. Unfortunately this is a small property so I have to be careful not to over hunt it and push him off of it if he is using it at least part of the time. I wish I could go back there and glass the soybean field from a distance, but there is no way to get far enough away to not be at risk of getting detected. So I guess I’ll just plan my hunts like he is hanging out there. I’ll probably hunt it a few times early in the season trying to catch him headed out to the beans. They should be green for a while, they are wheat stubble beans. Then I’ll spend a few all day sits during the rut, when this type of deer is in his most vulnerable state, looking for love.

Wish me luck!

My Summer Food Plots are Making Progress

by John Mueller 30. June 2011 13:36
John Mueller

Six weeks after putting seeds in the ground, my food plots are doing very well. I'm very pleased with the progress and the growth the plants have put on so far. The weather has been a little crazy for growing good food plots this year. We have had more than enough rain, cold weather, and extremely hot weather for this early in the season. I was actually lucky to get them in when I did. I know a few guys that are still hoping to get something planted because of the weather and time constraints.

My corn is looking really strong this summer. I planted it a little thinner this year because last year it was too thick and a lot of stalks didn't produce ears. The corn is well past knee high before the end of June. This should give it plenty of time to make ears before the bow season starts. That is if I can get the deer to stop nipping the tops off the corn stalks. The hot weather in the next few weeks should really help the corn put on a growth spurt. Once it's a little taller, the corn will be a source of food as well as good cover for the deer to bed in.


Here is a small part of the 2+ acres of corn I have planted.

I believe my soybeans are a little behind right now. We got a very heavy downpour right after I planted them which made them work extra hard to poke through the crusted over soil. Now that they have exposed themselves the plants have really taken off. We've had good moisture the last couple of weeks and the soybeans have been putting on plenty of new leaves. Hopefully there will be lots of beans left in the pods for the late bow season. Last year my standing beans were the food of choice after the snow blanketed the ground.


After a slow start my soy beans are adding new growth.

I am also trying an experiment this year. I planted a mix of corn and soy beans in part of the field. This will give the deer a little bit of both in the same location instead of having to travel all over the food plot for corn and beans. You never know which one they might be in the mood for when picking a stand to sit that evening. This way I have both bases covered.


My experiment. A mix of corn and soy beans with the milo and millet in the background.

The milo is probably showing the most growth right now. It is putting on the leaves in preparation for producing seed heads. The millet is already producing seed heads. One nice thing about these two crops is the deer only eat the seeds and not the foliage. This allows the plants to mature undamaged unlike the corn and soybeans, which the deer eat as soon as they emerge. My quail and turkeys will surely appreciate these tiny seeds too.


Mix of milo and millet.


The millet is already heading out.

Even if my food plots don't produce a ton of food this year, my deer will have plenty to eat. If the White Oak Trees inside the woods are anything like the ones along the edge of my food plot, there is a bumper crop of acorns this year. Just check out this cluster of baby acorns. And the whole tree is like this. That means the deer will be spending a lot of time in the woods this season. I think I'll be hanging a few stands near the White Oaks this summer.

 
Looks like there is no shortage of White Oak Acorns this year.

Now if I can just keep the hail storms away from my food plots I think I will have a good draw to keep the deer on my property this season. A neighbor just down the road had to start over after hail destroyed his food plots after 4 weeks of growth.

Food Plot Success! Corn, Beans, Brassicas & Buck Forage Oats

by Todd Graf 10. September 2009 14:57
Todd Graf

I have to give my friend Jim Carlson a ton of credit for my food plot success this fall. He has coached me the entire way and I can't believe how great all of my plots are looking. I have already been dreaming of sitting over these plots when the time is right. I am totally convinced that it is going to attract more deer to my properties then ever. Here are some photos of how the plots look. Jim, thanks again for the help and letting me borrow your Great Plains no-till drill. What a great piece of equipment!

Key Points to remember for foodplot success!

1. You hear it time and time again - test the soil!  Having the proper pH level in your soil is critical for maximizing your plots.

2. Control the weeds to get the best tonage.  Round-Up ready corn and beans are great for this.

3. Timing , Timing, Timing - watch the weather and try to plant before it rains.

4. Plant different sources of food for different times of the year.  This provides you with different options to hunt over at different times of the season.

5. Buy good quality seed.  Don't spend all of your time working on food plots and put in low quality seed.  If you're going to do it, do it right!

6. Get yourself a copy of Farming for Wildlife, this magazine will get you pointed in the right direction as well.


Here I am preparing the no-till drill for planting my buck forage oats. I decided to do this last minute so the field that I am converting over to native grasses next spring would have some sort of food source for the deer this fall.


My corn is looking great as well. Thanks to Dave R. for the tips!

 


Here you can see my Brassicas are really starting to come in good.  I planted them the last week of August and with the recent rain and cool weather to retain soil moisture they shot up out of the ground in no time.

 


Back at home I've changed up a few things with my bow/arrow setup and I'm shooting dead on.  My new NAP BloodRunners are flying perfect.

Wisconsin opener is this weekend and you can bet I will be hanging from a tree somewhere with Justin! I have about 3 more loads of laundry to do so it's time to go.

Good Luck to all my Wisconsin friends!




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