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Armchair Whitetail Scouting

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

and the rewards will be well worth it!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closure on a Whitetail Buck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 6 PlotWatcher Pro- NEW for 2011!

by Bow Staff 3. February 2011 01:58
Bow Staff

2011 Day 6 PlotWatcher Pro

The original Day 6 PlotWatcher time-lapse video camera was a game changer no doubt, but the new PlotWatcher Pro hits it out of the park. With four times the battery life and a 2.5" LCD for on-board camera set-up, video aiming and camera status messages, the PlotWatcher Pro will put you that much closer to getting that trophy buck you so desire.

The PlotWatcher Pro is not a traditional trail camera. In fact, traditional trail cameras with time-lapse features pail in comparison to the PlotWatcher Pro. There are three very important design criteria for a time-lapse camera -- long battery life, the ability to support tens or hundreds of thousands of images and good picture quality in low light conditions without a flash. This is because some of the most important scenery for a timelapse camera is happening right at dawn or dusk, out of reach of a flash.
 
Traditional trail cameras are optimized for large megapixel counts, continuous motion detection and energy-efficient flashes. The design choices to make a good quality trail camera are simply not the same design choices to make a high quality time-lapse camera such as the PlotWatcher Pro.

Like the original PlotWatcher, the PlotWatcher Pro uses time-lapse video technology to record high-definition images taking a picture every 5 or 10 seconds and saving these individual pictures as an HD video. So whether the animal is 30 feet away or 330 feet away, you'll see them on the video. Essentially, the PlotWatcher Pro records what you would have seen if you'd been scouting that same spot for all of that time.

In addition, the PlotWacher Pro accepts add-on zoom lenses, features temperature and moon-phase info on each image, uses an SD card storage, is security cable ready and saves video files in ½ of the memory space. It also features defined time-of-day for video start and stop.

The GameFinder video player software, free with the PlotWatcher Pro, gives you the ability to watch an entire 12-hour day's worth of video in just a few minutes.

To learn more about this new PlotWatcher Pro take a look for them on the web.

 

Categories: Current News

One Year, One Mile... What a Difference for this Buck!

by Dustin DeCroo 25. January 2011 11:09
Dustin DeCroo

 

As the temperatures dropped into the low teens, my blood began to run slightly warmer than usual. I was in the Oklahoma tree stand at 6:15am, almost 45 minutes before rays of the Eastern sunrise would allow me to shoot any creature.  I setup the Sony HD overlooking a spot where an incredible 21pt buck had stood the morning prior, hoping to catch a glimpse of him on camera and maybe even behind my top pin. 

 

Rewind three weeks.  Two of my best friends had each captured photos of a stud non-typical on trail cameras on adjoining properties in December of 2010.  The deer was quickly given the name “Cyclops” as he appears to be blind in his left eye or missing it altogether.  Night after night the deer would return to eat corn but never did show up in the daylight.  We drooled over him on a daily basis and were eventually able to count 21 tines, “Cyclops” became “Black Jack.”  Expecting no change in Black Jack’s pattern my friend Trey and I headed to Northwest Oklahoma where the deer are plentiful to say the very least... the images of Black Jack still filled our mind.

 

Both the date and time are incorrect but there is no arguing the character of this deer!

 

We returned from our hunt which was a success in terms of both, bowhunting and good friends spending time together.  On our back we stopped and checked the camera that Black Jack had posed for on a nightly basis and we were shocked to see that he had actually visited for breakfast at 8:15 that morning.  Late that evening we were talking about deer that we had caught on camera as I moved photos from my old laptop to my new one.  As the click and drag process continued, Trey said, “Wait, go back!”  I double clicked to open a photo of a velvet deer that showed up in August of 2009... it was him.  Unmistakably missing an eye with incredible mass and short tines growing off the main beam below the brow tines.  The photo was from a property a little over a mile away than the December photos of 2010.  We thought the deer looked old in 2009 but he certainly wasn’t on the downhill in 2010.  In 2009 Black Jack was a tight racked main frame eight point with kickers off of his right and left G2’s and few stickers coming off below his brow tines.  In 2010, he exploded with non-typical points.

These are the first time the buck ever showed up on our camera in 2009!

 

Our first daylight photos of Black Jack...

Fast forward to the morning of the hunt.  It was 11 degrees with a 7mph wind and 80 percent humidity, a real feel of -7.  I made it to 11am before I had to surrender to the cold and with zero deer sightings it was that much colder.  Although I didn’t get to see the deer, there is great anticipation for next fall, as well as shed hunting and trail cameras during velvet season. Black Jack was a stud in 2009 and a toad in 2010, what 2011 brings... I’ll wait and hope to see!

 




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