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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

BuckScore Download will take the Guessing Game Away!

by Bow Staff 29. July 2010 16:08
Bow Staff

Expect BuckScore to score points with deer hunters!

Ever sit on your PC late at night studying the images of countless bucks you captured on camera? Ever wonder what each buck scores? Sure you can guess. Sure you could have a friend guess. But wouldn’t it be great to really know? Read below and STOP the guessing game.

Introducing BuckScore, a downloadable program developed by two professors from the Mississippi State University’s Deer Ecology and Management Lab, along with a graduate-researcher, over a three year period. Using known measurements for average deer ear widths, eyeball widths, and measurable facial features such as the eye-to-eye distance, these researchers developed equations to assess the antlers in inches using the Boone and Crockett scoring system.

BuckScore can even estimate the antlers' inside spread, main beam lengths and gross score simply from photographs. And is accurate whether the antlers are in their summer "velvet" or hard-horned.

Simply upload a buck’s digital image into your PC and use the tracing tool to outline the antlers. Within moments hunters will get an accurate estimate of the antlers total score!!

Without BuckScore this hunters estimate was off by less than one-inch! With it, he decided the buck was big enough to take after all! Thanks BuckScore!

BuckScore Pro is expected to be available as a $10 download at their website before the Labor Day holiday. It is expected that a percentage of the sales will go to Mississippi State University, and 25% of that will go specifically to its deer research lab. BuckScore is also teaming up with Bushnell scouting cameras to allow a free download with purchase of some of their products.

While the software will first be offered for Windows-based computers only, a Mac version will shortly follow. A BuckScore application is even in the works for both iPhones and iPads and is expected to be available this January.

So take the guessing game out of your favorite trailcamera photos, or just bust the chops of your co-workers and friends. Look for the BuckScore download and start telling the truth about what you really saw!

 

Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

Whitetail Buck versus Bucket! Captured on trailcam?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coyote and whitetails.....

by Scott Abbott 30. December 2008 17:39
Scott Abbott

Did that coyote really ruin your hunt?  I know we have all been in the situation where we have had coyotes come through and in our mind ruined an other wise "perfect" day to be on stand.  I myself used to feel this way but over the years I have come to realize that just isn't the case on most occasions. 

Thinking back over the years I have had many successful hunts where a coyote has come in prior to whitetail.  In fact I shot my highest scoring buck mere minutes after a lone coyote had come through the area.  Coincidence?  I say not.  I have had just to many experiences over the years telling me other wise.  Obviously these deer and coyotes share their home ranges.  If a whitetail froze up or ran for cover every time it cut a coyotes scent trail, they sure wouldn't be able to cover much ground tending their daily routines.

Here are a couple game camera photos, again proving to me that coyotes do not negatively affect a hunt as much as I once thought.  The years have taught me to keep my head up and not let coyotes moving through my setup to waive my confidence.  Note the times on the two photos to follow.  I have more photos of a few different deer on that camera not long after wards as well.  None of them seemed to act alarmed in the photos.

 

 

Shed buck game camera pics, and a surprise.....

by Scott Abbott 22. December 2008 09:46
Scott Abbott

 

Looks to be a healthy buck who has shed his antlers at first glance......

 

 

  Maybe even at second glance.....

 

 

How about now?????

 

 

For my area his muscles structure would be very large in his shoulder area to be 1.5 buck, nor do his facial features look to be a yearlings so I am leaning at 2.5 years old...  I never saw this buck all summer on camera or all fall from stand..... 

I just put a camera back out a week ago to check on the shedding process.....  This is the only shed buck on camera so far.


I wonder if that is a birth defect or an injury sustained later in life.   Any thoughts, ideas or experiences to shed some light on this?

Friends and Trail Cameras!

by Todd Graf 9. December 2008 15:09
Todd Graf

I'm not sure how this happens or what gets into my buddies when I ask them to change out my trail camera memory cards and batteries but I sure get a kick out of the photos. The first set of photos are great - you will see the classic photos of us sneaking into our stands and whether its before or after the bucks always seem to come by:

 
Here is Justin leaving he stand - and of course he did not see any bucks on this evening hunt.

 
And of course later that night here comes a nice buck right up the same trail Justin just walked out.

 
Here I am walking to my stand for a morning hunt.

 
And this buck wanted to find out what was going on just 3 minutes later!

 
Here I am a few days earlier sneaking in for another morning hunt...

 
And here goes a nice buck sneaking out, only 1/2 hour later!

Of course I save the best for last!

I am embrassed to say Horseshoe hunts with me when you look at him in this photo, actually now that I think about it he always runs with his arms like this.

 
I wish he (Justin) was a little older of a buck because I would have taken him for sure.

 
What fun would it be to have a post without a trespasser! Hours after it snows and this guy can't resist but to follow a set of deer tracks over several people's properties! Yes, I did call the police and they did visit him. It turns out after talking with serveral of my neighbors he thinks he owns the entire county. I hope he finally gets the drift after a visit from the boys in blue!

I did not want to end on a negative note so here is a nice buck that I hope made it though the gun seaon as he will be incredible next year!

Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

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 Bowhunting.com in the shopping section if you need one.

Deer Hunting Scrapes - It Won't Be Long Now!

by John Mueller 27. October 2008 13:50
John Mueller

IT WON”T BE LONG NOW

  

            The scrapeing is going on strong at my place in IL right now. I found a hot scrape last weekend and set my Moultrie I40 up on it. I was pleasantly surprised this weekend by the results. I got pics of a quite a few different bucks using it. Most of the big guys were at night but that may change in a week or 2.

 

            Here is a pic. of a real nice 10 pointer I had an encounter with 2 weeks ago right at dark. I had him at 40 yards but couldn’t see my pins. At least he is still around.

 

 

The Big 10

 

I got a few action shots of the bucks with their antlers in the branches too. I may have to change the I40 over to the video mode. It has that option built in.

 

I can almost reach it.

 

 

Giving it a thrashing.

 

 

 

 

         Another visitor. 

 

 

Big bodied 8 pointer.

 

 

            If you’re interested in putting a trail camera on your own scrapes, you can order yours right here on Bowhunting.com. Check out the trail cam section

  

Moultrie I40 Trail Camera Review

by John Mueller 29. September 2008 12:52
John Mueller

I put 2 Moultrie I40's into use almost a year ago and have been very impressed with the results. That is after I updated the software. It seems there was some type of glitch in the cameras originally. They would produce a whiteout image when in the IR mode on some pictures. After downloading the update from the Moultrie website onto the SD card and then loading it in the cameras my units have performed very well for me.

The Moultrie I40.

 

The daytime pictures are some of the clearest I have seen from a trail camera. The 4 megapixel camera produces very sharp images.

2 turkeys in my food plot.

A doe in the plot.

 

The one feature I have mixed reviews on is the IR Mode of the camera. It was one of the reasons I had originally bought the camera. To get away from the flash going off in the woods and possibly scareing the deer. This model uses Infrared Illumination to capture lowlight and nighttime photos. A band of 72 IR bulbs glows red to take the lowlight pictures. These photos are black and white images.

 

 This is not supposed to spook deer. I do catch some of them stareing at the camera while it is taking their picture. The bad part about this is it takes a lot of daylight to get the camera off of the IR mode. When my camera is in the woods 90% of the pictures are IR mode even in daylight. The only way I get color daylight pictures is to have my camera on a food plot or open field. The black and white images are great for just cataloging your deer and seeing what is out there. But if you want to frame some of the photos or show them off on your favorite website, the color pictures work much better.

Some of the neat features of this camera are:

1. 3 different still picture settings for picture quility.

2. 2 different video settings. (which I have to figure out so I can put my camera on some scrapes this fall)

3. Uses SD Cards, which most digital cameras use now. I use my camera to view them in the field.

4. A laser aim pointer to adjust where the unit is pointed.

5. Time, Date, Temperature, and Moon Phase stamped on the picture.

6. Uses 6 D-cell batteries that last a reported 150 days. I have had mine in operation for almost 1 year and am on my second set of batteries( still have 65% charge)     Truely extended battery life.

7. Easy to set up and reset after checking.

Nice and simple to operate, not a lot of switches or buttons.

8. Does the scouting when you're not there.

Some things I would like to see changed:

1. The SD Card is in a very awkward place to get to. Unless you have very long skinny fingers. There are many other places this could have been put.

Here you can see the SD Card just to the left of the white label.

2. The unit is a big black box. A grey or softer color would not stand out nearly as much. Harder for the deer and would be thieves to see.

3. No real way to lock it to the tree.

4. It does make a bit of a click when the shutter opens.

All in all I have to say the pluses far outweigh the minuses on this camera. I am very happy with the service my 2 units have given me in the year I have had them. No problems at all after doing the original upgrade to the software. And I have not heard of another unit with the battery life of the I40. If you would like to try one of these out for yourself. They can be purchased right here on Bowhunting.com by following the link below.

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.

Acorns are dropping!

by Justin Zarr 25. August 2008 05:06
Justin Zarr

September is less than a week away now and the deer are definitely getting off their summer feed patterns in the soybean and alfalfa fields and moving into the corn and oak flats to much on their favorite treat - the acorn!  If the amount of decreased deer sightings in the evenings hasn't clued you in, the increase in trail camera activity in the woods certainly should have.  I had over 100 photos on my Cuddeback Excite trail camera over the past two weeks.  This is in a very small woodlot that doesn't usually see much deer traffic until the rut.  But with a good crop of corn and lots of acorns falling the bucks are hitting it pretty hard right now.  I got pictures of 7 or 8 different bucks over the past two weeks.  I usually don't see that many bucks on this property unless they're cruising for does, but once again the drawing power of a deer's stomach is proven to be a determining factor in their travel patterns.  If I'm lucky enough to have some standing corn when the season starts it could prove to be some good early-season hunting in this spot.

Here's a few of the bucks that made their appearance over the past few weeks.


I got a few pictures of this tight-racked 10 point in 2006 and Mike found 1 of his sheds in the spring of 2007 but he disappeared last year.  Now he's back and doesn't look like he's put much antler growth on, which is typical of bucks in this immediate area.  They seem to reach a point where they just don't grow much anymore.  I'm not sure if it's the genetics or what, but I don't think this guy is going to grow too much more.  Might be time to take a "crack" at him if he shows up in October!


This goofy half-racked buck has been showing up on my camera pretty consistantly this summer, quite often during the day.  He's got a real good left side, but his right is just a big massive beam with one or two small kickers coming off it.


I believe this particular buck is bigger than he looks in this photo.  I've got a few others of him from other angles during the day that aren't quite as good, but he looks much nicer.  I'm guessing he may go in the mid-130's and he's definitely a buck I'd shoot if given the opportunity.


This is the first look I've gotten at this big seven pointer, whom I'm dubbed the "7 Stud".  He's got one heck of a body on him for late summer and I'm anxious to see if I can get a few more looks at him.   Like all the bucks on this farm he's not much in the rack department, but looks like at least a 3 year old deer.


The "Nubbin 8" has been one of the most visible bucks on my camera since early July.  I think he's a good solid 2 1/2 that's right about out to his ears with some short tines and virtually no brows.  I may or may not pass him up if given the opportunity.  Depends on how I'm feeling that day!


This little guy looks like he's got some potential if he can make it a few years!


Last but not least this buck looks to be an 8 point similar in size to the Nubbin 8 with much better brows.  Mike thinks he's seen this deer a few times this summer on this farm, so hopefully we get a few more pics of him, or maybe a look at him this fall.  He's probably in the 120" range, which is pushing the pass/don't pass line for me.  Again, depends on what kind of mood I'm in the day he walks by!
Categories: Justin Zarr



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