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Stealth Cam Introduces the New Trail Camera Field App

by Todd Graf 23. January 2012 08:55
Todd Graf

If you know me personally, have followed my blog over the years, or regularly watch Bowhunt or Die, you know by now that I am a trail camera junky.  Over the years I have amassed an impressive (or embarrassing, if you ask my wife) number of trail cameras of nearly every brand.  There technology simply allows me to scout and monitor bucks without putting added pressure on them.  Trail cameras are a useful tool for bowhunters that promise to increase your success rate.

That being said, trail cameras have come a long way since their inception over a decade ago.  They now take crystal clear images, record HD video and can send your images wirelessly from the unit to your e-mail account (see Stealth Cam’s new Drone system).  Well, Stealth Cam, the trail camera I rely on most in the field, has taken scouting technology one step further with their new Trail Camera Field App.  This hunter friendly mobile app costs only $1.99 and is available for both Apple and Android powered devices.  

It comes packed with a boatload of innovative features that can assist hunters in a variety of ways.  It comes integrated with GPS mapping technology that not only allows you to mark your trail camera locations, but also other important marking points such as tree stands, water holes, scrapes, rubs, you name it!  You can save and share these markers to your Facebook page or your friends via e-mail as well.  Or, simply save them to your personal gallery.  

The app also has built in functionality that can help you plan out your hunts better as well.  Hunters can get weather forecasts by entering their city, state or zip code, or by letting the location based feature on the camera precisely identify your location.  Not only weather forecasts, DETAILED weather forecasts including 24 hour, 3 day or an extended 10 day forecast while not only providing your usually weather information, but also hunter friendly info such as sunrise and sunset times, moon phase and barometric pressure.  The Trail Cam Field App also has a built in photo managing / sharing function that allows hunters to fully customize their photo gallery by location, date, weapon or species.  You can then share your photos via social media and receive comments in real time.  You can also get video tips and information straight from the Stealth Cam Pro Staff as well. 

If this app is something that intrigues you, feel free to contact the Stealth Cam team for tech tips or general information regarding this app, I encourage you to check out their website here.  Happy off-season everyone! 

2011 Mathews Retailer Business Show Keeps Growing

by Todd Graf 2. January 2012 03:09
Todd Graf

Even before I saw the attendance figures for the annual Mathews Retailer Business Show, I knew I was witnessing the company’s biggest, most successful show in its four-year history. This exciting three-day event has grown big-time since its launch in 2008.

It’s a heck of a show for archery retailers. It’s very business-oriented, and it’s held in early December each year at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. This year it attracted more than 400 retailers and 150 exhibitors, including more than 100 Lost Camo licensees. That’s nearly a 50 percent growth in show exhibitors from a year ago, and a whopping 112 more exhibitors than the inaugural show drew in 2008.


Companies such as KTech Designs make a variety of high-quality accessories specifically designed to compliment your Mathews bow.


It's great to see new companies like Archer Xtreme pushing the sport of archery to new heights with their cutting edge designs and materials.

Matt McPherson, Mathews’ founder and president, reminded us of the company’s philanthropic work, too. “Not only do Lost Camo licensed products give Mathews retailers a unique and exclusive product to help their business, but 100 percent of the Lost Camo proceeds help people less fortunate around the world,” Matt said. “That’s in addition to the funding Mathews and Mission have been doing for years for those less fortunate."

I attended the show all three days with Justin Zarr and several other staff members from our Bowhunting.com crew. Let me tell you, we scrambled the entire time to make sure we saw the latest bowhunting gear from Mathews and all the other exhibitors. In fact, this year’s show was so large it was held inside “the bubble,” a giant building with an inflatable roof. This mammoth building is the Chula Vista convention center’s largest venue.


A view from inside "The Bubble", where several hundred people spent nearly 3 days conducting the business that keeps our industry running.

During the show we worked extensively with Corrine Bundy, Mathews’ marketing communications specialist, on several video promotions for Mathews’ products. By the show’s final morning on Day 3, Corrine knew without doubt that the show was Mathews’ best yet.

“It was a great success for us,” she said. “This was the fourth straight year of growth for the show. That kind of growth helps us carry out our mission for the show, which is to give retailers the tools they need to be as successful and profitable as possible.”


Here Justin and I are working with our cameraman, Nick and Brandyn, along with Corrine Bundy to film a Holiday Gift Guide for the Mathews and Lost Camo websites.

While walking the show we saw a variety of innovative new products that will be hitting the market for 2012.  Many of those products are geared towards accessorizing, and colorizing, your bow setup.  Mathews has done a great job at offering colored accessories for their bow for several years now, and many manufacturers are following their lead with colored accessories of their own.  One of the companies leading the charge in that arena is Pine Ridge Archery, who now has a variety of bow accessories in 8 different colors.  From peep sights to kisser buttons and even a new stabilizer, it's never been easier to customize your bow setup any way you please.

Another interesting new product we came upon is the iBowsight.  If you want to talk about innovation and technology in archery, this is it!  The iBowsight uses a custom-designed bracket to hold your iPhone 4 or 4s and turn it into a full-fledged bow sight.  Simply purchase and install the app on your phone and then mount it to your bow and you're off.  The iBowsight may not be for everyone, but there's no doubt it' sure to fuel plenty of conversations.  Click here to read a full review of the iBowsight.

In addition to a busy show floor, Mathews also delivered an impressive seminar lineup featuring industry experts to teach everything from bow tuning to retailing tips. And for evening entertainment, Mathews provided plenty of laughs from comedian Tim Hawkins.


Love it or hate it, the iBowsight is certainly a unique product.

As always, I was impressed with both the Mathews and Mission bow lineups, and think everyone will be impressed with the Heli-m. This bow gives you a super smooth draw and is the lightest bow ever offered by Mathews. Plus it’s loaded with Mathews technology like the Reverse Assist Roller Guard, Harmonic Damper Lite, Harmonic Stabilizer and Geo Grid Lock Riser.

But I gotta tell you, one of the most amazing spectacles was the shoot-off tournament where about 500 people tried shooting bull’s eyes with Mathews’ Genesis bow. This is the bow used by thousands of youngsters nationwide in the National Archery in the Schools Program.  Each show attendee was given one arrow, courtesy of Easton Archery, and had to try and shoot the foam bull's eye of a metal target.  If you made it into the foam you advanced to the next round.  If you missed, you were out.  And no, I didn’t win the event! I missed my first shot to earn an instant disqualification. Justin made it to the second round, but failed to advance to the third round. After 4 rounds of shooting we finally had a lucky winner, who got a free antelope hunt from our good friends at Table Mountain Outfitters.


The aftermath of the Iron Buck challenge. 


It's always great to see kids who are enthusiastic about archery and hunting.  Remember, they are the future of our sport!

Our next stop will be the ATA Trade Show, which runs Jan. 10-12 in Columbus, Ohio. As always, we'll be doing our best to cover the hot new bowhunting and archery products that are hitting the shelves in 2012.  So be sure to keep an eye on Bowhunting.com as we'll be updating the website directly from the show to bring you the hottest new products before anyone else.

Big Buck Killed by Coyotes, Check Out These Photos!

by Todd Graf 13. December 2011 05:52
Todd Graf

These photos show us the gruesome truth that sometimes goes forgotten in the wild.  Many of us spend lots of time and money managing our property for deer by planting food plots, creating bedding areas, etc., but how many of us spend time managing the predators on our grounds?  Research shows that coyote populations can only be marginally controlled for short periods of time, as litter sizes and the number of females that enter heat increase as the population declines.  What are your thoughts on predators and predator control?

We are unsure as to the origin of these photos, but what we see is fairly clear.  At least two coyotes attack and kill this big buck.  Granted, we don't know if he was sick or injured (he appears healthy in the photos) but one thing is for sure, he lost his life to coyotes!  If you need a little help managing your predator population, check out the predator calls in the bowhunting.com store by clicking HERE!!!

 

Mid-October Bowhunting Update and Trail Camera Scrape Tips

by Todd Graf 14. October 2011 11:21
Todd Graf

Well everyone, it’s mid October which means a couple things for us bowhunters. First, we are likely still stuck in that dreaded mid-October lull.  Although some people don't believe in the October Lull, my deer sightings and Stealth Cam photos have sure been way down over the last 10 days.  However, on the good side it also means that the rut is just around the corner and the best hunting is still ahead of us.  With the recent cold front that moved through the Midwest and the full moon finally behind us, it won’t be long until we're seeing bucks chase does across the open fields and through the timbered ridges. I don't know about you but I can’t wait!


This view of my Lone Wolf treestand is a one that I will be seeing more and more of as the season progresses. For those of you with the new 2011 model stands, I hope you're finding the new in-cast bow holder helpful.  I've been using it quite a bit and it works great.  A definite improvement over the previous model stands.

Through the first half of October I have been hunting pretty hard but just haven’t had the caliber of buck I am looking to shoot come into range.  As you saw in Episode 11 of Bowhunt or Die I had a great buck come in front of me opening day in Illinois, but I elected to pass him up.  I know he's a nice deer, but I'm after a couple of giants that have been spotted in the area and my heart is set on one of them.   You can see the footage of me passing on that buck by clicking here.

Although I haven't seen a shooter buck from stand yet, I have seen deer just about every time in stand so I can't really complain too much.   I believe the key to getting in close to deer is the ability to adapt to the changing conditions of the fall.  As the weather and time of year change, so do the deer's patterns.  So when it was hot, I hunted near water and saw several small bucks coming in for a drink.  When the winds were blowing hard I got down in a hollow where I was out of the wind, and saw some good deer movement.  By analyzing what's happening around me and hunting different stands accordingly I'm able to get close to deer just about every time out.   Remember, if you're hunting the same couple of stands every day regardless of the time of year or weather, you're probably hurting your chances for success.


This young buck decided it was too hot to move, so he found a cool shady spot to spend his afternoon. He and I shared a warm 4 hours in the woods together one afternoon this past week.


Filming yourself is tough business!  Here my Sony AX2000 from Campbell Cameras is all set up and ready to record some footage for Bowhunt or Die! If you aren't already, I highly suggest filming your own hunts. It's fun, rewarding and you can relive your adventures for the rest of your life.

This time of year is also a great time to fire up your mock scrapes, or freshen up natural scrapes. I’ve had tremendous success using the Tink’s Power Scrape on my mock scrapes and in the natural scrapes on my hunting properties.  Remember, the key when applying scents to deer scrapes, whether they are natural or man-made, is to reduce the amount of human scent left behind while you're applying the lure.  Always wear rubber boots and if possible rubber gloves as well. The less human scent you leave behind the more successful your scrapes will become.

Also, I strongly recommend you shifting your trail camera strategies to scrapes this time of year as well.  Over the next couple of weeks the bucks will be scraping quite a bit, and there's no better way to get an inventory of the bucks in your area.  Additionally, this increases your chances of getting daytime photos of the bucks using the scrapes and will thus help you put the pieces of the puzzle together more quickly.  Once you start seeing your mature bucks checking and working scrapes during the day you know it's time to get out there and really start hunting.  For those of you with limited time off work, this can really come in handy.  So if your trail cameras aren't on scrapes already, get out and move them as soon as possible.  Just make sure your memory cards are big enough to hold all of the pictures you're going to get!

I also suggest using video mode on your trail cameras (if they are capable) because you are able to collect more data from each shot. You can get a better look at the buck’s rack, and have a better idea of how old he is. Plus, you can get the precise location where he came from and is going to after working over the scrape. Simply put, you can gather far more intelligence from video mode than you can a couple pictures. 


My Stealth Cam set up on a scrape and ready to reveal the patterns of a monster buck!

Well, that is all I have time for now. I wish each and every one of you safety and success while out hunting this weekend. And don’t forget, if you do get a deer we would love to see it and your trophy may be featured on an upcoming episode of Bowhunt or Die. Follow this link to send us your trophy! Happy hunting everyone!

Bowhunting Wisconsin Whitetails and Wyoming Elk

by Todd Graf 14. September 2011 14:32
Todd Graf

‘Tis the season, folks!  As I write this blog, I am washing my clothes, fine tuning my Mathews Monster, cleaning out my truck and doing anything bowhunting related to pass the time before the Wisconsin archery opener this Saturday!  Ah, bow season is finally here!  After a terribly long offseason, I can’t wait to get up a tree Saturday morning and enjoy the beautiful scenery that Central Wisconsin has to offer.

After a slow start to the offseason with my Camtrakkers, I was finally able to get some Wisconsin shooter bucks showing up on my cameras, just in time for the season!   Honestly, while getting pictures of big bucks on trail camera during the summer is fun, it does little to help me kill them come fall, because I know their patterns will change drastically.  However, knowing where mature bucks are spending their time on my property during late August and early September can really help me get a bead on those bucks heading into the hunting season.  

I am hoping that any of these nice Wisconsin whitetails will make the mistake of walking under my stand this fall!

With the bucks seemingly coming out of the wood works in the last couple weeks, I have decided to try and implement a new strategy this fall to better my chances of harvesting a mature buck: hunting out of a ground blind.  I recently set out a hay bale blind that will enable me to hunt (successfully, hopefully) off the ground this fall.  This is a new tactic for me and one I am excited about trying.  Normally, my hunting strategy consists of me hunting out of a Lone Wolf Hang-On and set of sticks and staying mobile to keep the deer from patterning me.  In fact, my 2010 Illinois buck was a result of moving my set to get closer to the action.  However, sometimes there simply isn’t a tree suitable for a treestand of any sort where the deer are congregating, and hunting out of a ground blind is the next best option.  One thing is for sure, I can’t wait to get up close and personal with the deer this fall!

Hopefully this hay bale blind will allow me to get up closer and personal with some monster bucks this season.  

It’s hard to believe, but in just a couple of days, I will be up a tree hunting whitetails.  Even harder to believe is that following my first couple hunts in Wisconsin, I will be making a trip out to Table Mountain Outfitters in Wyoming to hunt with longtime friends Scott and Angie Denny.  I am particularly excited for this trip, and am hoping to duplicate the success I had last year antelope hunting.  If you remember, Justin Zarr and I both shot good antelope bucks hunting with Scott and Angie.  I am hoping that Table Mountain Outfitters can turn into my little Western honey hole!  

My little man, Craig, standing next to some native grasses.  If I were a deer, I would definitely want to hide in there, then come out for an afternoon snack on some clover, wouldn't you?

Craig and his friend, Sammy, are looking forward to hunting together out of this comfortable condo.  In fact, when those brutally cold Midwest temperatures arrive late season, I may even sneak up there for a hunt or two.  

I genuinely wish each and every one of you the best of luck this fall, but more importantly, wish you safe travels and time afield.  I’ll be spending a lot of time in the woods between Illinois and Wisconsin, so if you see me out there keeping the roads hot, stop by and say hello!  I always have a little free time to talk hunting!  If you guys are hunting out of a tree, please be sure to wear your safety harness, and remember you have a family waiting for you at home.   No buck, regardless how big, is worth risking your life over!  Also, if you are fortunate enough to enjoy some success, we here at bowhunting.com want to share in your success!  Please send us your trophy photos to this link here!  Good luck this fall everyone, stay safe and happy hunting!

Summer Bowhunting Preparations and Activities

by Todd Graf 2. June 2011 05:50
Todd Graf

As the month of May slowly burns away into June, I can’t help but think that the hunting season begins in just three and a half months.  Before I know it, I will be sitting in a tree in my swamp property of Wisconsin waiting for a mature buck to make the fatal mistake of wandering by my position.  That being said, there is still a lot of work to be done before I can convince myself I am ready for another season, and I am looking forward to an exciting and eventful summer. 

The cool, rainy weather we have had here in the Midwest has been great for my clover and chicory plots!

One of my favorite offseason activities is prepping food plots and other habitat management projects for the upcoming season.  My ultimate goal is to provide the whitetails that visit my property with enough food sources that they don’t need to leave my property.  It may sound like a losing battle, but I welcome the challenge!

These apple trees are only in their second year of growth, however, they are growing beautifully.  Once they begin to produce fruit they will provide another food source for the deer on my property.

The cool rainy weather has been perfect for my clover and chicory plots so far this spring; a few spots measured over 20 inches of growth!  I hate to have to mow it this week, with it looking so beautiful, but it is the best option for weed control.  This time of year also means corn planting time in the Midwest.  When it comes to late season food plot attraction, it’s tough to beat corn.  My corn plots got absolutely hammered last winter during the late season.  The deer are worn down for the rut and crave the carbohydrate rich kernels of corn that keep their bodies warm during the winter cold!  I have also been very pleased with the apple trees I had planted.  They are now in their second year of growth and have almost doubled their size.  

Here I am getting ready to plant my corn.  I can't wait for the late season when the deer will really hit my corn plots hard!

Despite the fact that I killed this field with Round Up and most of the grass was dead, the ground was still pretty hard and the corn was not getting into the ground.  I made a few adjustments and was back in business!  Persistence pays!

This time of year is also my favorite time to get out in the backyard and fling some arrows.  Just recently, I have taken the time to get my little man, Craig, involved in the sport of archery.  If you have little ones that are interested in bowhunting or archery, I strongly recommend you look into the Mathews line of kids bows.  From Mathews to Mission Archery to the Genesis line of bows, they have the flexibility and specifications to get your kids started bowhunting.  With the number of kids hunting decreasing every year, it is important that we get our youth involved in the sport we love so much so that one day they may experience the rush and thrill of deer hunting!

Here's my little man, Craig, getting set up with his new Mathews Craze!

Craig was having a little trouble pulling back the Craze, so I ordered the Mathews Menace.  The Craze was a great bow, but the specs on the Menace fit Craig better physically.  At this point, it is all about keeping Craig interested and having fun!

I first set up Craig with the Mathews Craze, but the draw length was about two inches too long and Craig was having to lean back to hold up the weight, so I decided to go ahead and order the Mathews Menace.  The Craze was a great bow, however, with adjustable draw lengths anywhere from 15-70 pounds and 80% let-off; it can be enjoyed by beginner archers or all skills and age levels.  The Menace weighs about .6 pounds lighter than the Craze and the draw length is two inches shorter than the Craze, so it fits Craig much better physically which will allow for a better overall experience.  But above all else, the goal is to make sure that he is having fun!

Bowhunting.com Staff members Richie Music and Tom Alford also came over for a friendly bow shooting competition.  We enjoyed a day of dialing in our Mathews and preparing for the upcoming Bowhunting.com Get Together and Bow Shoot at Coon Creek Hunt Club in Garden Prairie, Illinois.  This is going to be our biggest and best shoot yet, and I encourage everyone who is able to make it to come out and enjoy a fun day of shooting, prizes, food and beverages.  If you are looking for more information, visit this link which will direct you to our forum where you will find all the information you need.  Every one is welcome hope to see every one of you there!

A shot of my backyard practice range.  

Here I am prepping for the 3rd Annual Bowhunting.com Get Together and Bow Shoot.  I think that would kill a turkey, don't you?

Richie's last shot before he lost the competition to Tom and I.  Now he owes us a pizza!

Richie just couldn't pull it off after 4 shots.  Oh well, stick to hunting those giant sub-urban whitetails, Richie!

To makes things interesting we spiced up our shooting with a little competition, and my buddy Richie Music came out on the losing end.  He may be an expert when it comes to shooting giant bucks from the same tree stand, but he was no match for me and Tom!  He was unable to shoot the Rinehart target in the head above the red line at 30 yards, so he has to buy both Tom and I a pizza!  Better luck next time, Richie!  

Before we all know it we’ll bow hunting our favorite spots in the bitter cold of sweet November.  It’s an exciting thought, but be sure you enjoy yourself this summer.  Get a kid involved in archery or have your buddies over to the house for a night of shooting and friendly competition; it’s equally as rewarding as harvesting that mature buck you’ve been patterning!  Okay, maybe not, but it does make the summer go by more quickly! 

Early Spring Bowhunting Preparations

by Todd Graf 29. April 2011 08:55
Todd Graf

Springtime is upon us, fellow bowhunters!  With the snow and cold days behind us (I hope) here in Northern Illinois, it is time to really focus on preparing for the 2011 deer season, which will be here before you know it!  April was an especially very busy month for me (then again, what month isn’t) between trade shows, habitat management projects on my properties and a little turkey hunting adventure with my little man, Craig.

As many of your probably know, Bowhunting.com was well represented at the Illinois and Wisconsin Deer Classics over the past month.  I always enjoy those shows and it is a real blast to get out there and meet the genuine, down to earth bowhunters who love and enjoy the sport just as much as I do!  We had a great showing at both of these expos and I met a lot of great new people and saw some magnificent deer as well.

By far my favorite mount at the Illinois Deer and Turkey Expo was this 197" monster harvested by Mason Paul.  I love how the mount sits on top of the collection of antlers!

I also enjoyed meeting some of our loyal Facebook friends at the show as well.  If you haven't done so, check out Bowhunting.com on Facebook here!

I was excited to get my 2010 buck from officially being scored by the Pope and Young Club.  This monster Illinois whitetail buck officially netted 140 3/8”!  This was my third straight season of harvest a buck over 140 inches with my bow.  I understand that hunting mature, trophy bucks isn’t for everyone, but man, I can’t get enough of it!

From the field...

... to the record book!

Despite the dreary weather we have been experiencing in the Upper Midwest, I have been able to get out on my hunting property and begin work on some of my offseason habitat improvement projects.  Don’t let the cold and wet conditions keep you from bettering your hunting property, now is the perfect time!  I was fortunate enough to get a lot of work done recently.  On one of my 60 acre farms I just finished a TSI (Timber Stand Improvement) project on 10 acres that will increase the health and longevity of the forested area on this farm.  I know a lot of talk these days are about food plots being the secret to killing big deer, and they certainly help, TSI is also a great way to improve the overall habitat on your property as well.  I also mowed down the standing corn stalks from last year, fertilized several food plots and performed some controlled burns to get the soil ready for food plot and native grass plantings.

Conrolled burns will greatly improve the soil for my summer food plot and native grass plantings.  

Finding sheds is always exciting!  This one looks like it may be a couple years old.

I was also able to plant some hardwood and softwood trees, as well as some soft mast bearing trees as well to create added diversity for the deer that visit my farm,  All in all, I planted and caged (have to keep the deer away from them for now!) 50 oaks, 6 pears, 30 pines and 30 more apple trees.  The oaks and apple trees won’t bear fruit for several years down the road, but it will be an enjoyable experience watching them grow and mature through the years.  However, what I take pride in is the thought that my little man Craig will have the opportunity to hunt from those same trees in the future!  A big part of Quality Deer Management is protecting this sport we enjoy so much, and ensuring that younger generations can enjoy it just the same as we did!     

These trees may be small now, but one day my son, Craig, will hopefully be hanging a tree stand from them!

Speaking of Craig, he and I were able to get out together to do a little turkey hunting a couple weeks ago.  We didn’t see any, but their thunderous gobbles rang throughout the woods and got Craig and I both pretty excited!  

Our turkey hunting set-up; Craig and didn't see any but we sure heard them gobbling!

Unfortunately, the onset of Spring also means it is tick season, and man, do I hate these things!   These pesky pests used to find their way on me every time I went outside this time of year.  However, this year I have been wearing Elimitck Clothing from Gamehide Gear and haven’t found a single tick on me.  Elimitick Clothing is my clothing of choice this time of year that is for sure!

ElimiTick Clothing from Gamehide Gear is my clothing of choice this time of year. 

I’d like to close out this blog by show an example of just how random my life can be.  My wife talked me into buying a goat!  My wife loves all animals and, even though I enjoy nothing more than harvesting mature animals during the fall, I have a soft spot in my heart for all animals as well. Maybe, buying this goat will earn me some brownie points this fall and a little extra time in the treestand? We’ll see! 

Yes, somehow I got talked into buying a goat!

More on IL Deer & Turkey Classic in Peoria

by Todd Graf 29. March 2011 16:23
Todd Graf

This year's Illinois Deer & Turkey Expo was a great show!  For those of you who were not able to attend the event I wanted to share some more photos on what you missed. This was our first year having a large 10 x 20 booth for Bowhunting.com and it was a ton of fun meeting grassroots bow hunters like us. This year the show had:

370 plus booths
Lots of seminars
New Product display area
Venison Butchering Demos
Archery Range
Life-Sized Whitetail Deer Skeleton
Live Animals – Yes my son and I got a photo with a bear cub!
Outdoor Photo Contest
A ton of Deer Mounts

Here are some of my favorite photos:


The Bowhunting.com booth was set up early and ready to go with time to spare.


It did not take long for the crowds to start rolling in!


We had a 115 inch shed antler in the booth for everyone to check out.


More big sheds.


When Justin was not looking I should have sold his bow, I had about 10 chances to sell it! You think he would have noticed?


As always our long-time friend was on hand to help kids shoot a bow!


We're always giving away FREE gear from out sponsors each month - make sure you sign up - www.huntingsweepstakes.com


Our good friend Mark Luster with Legends of the Fall stopped in to say HI!


Go figure we had to be right next to the Fudge booth! Yes, we were her best customer.


This was my favorite T-Shirt - If anyone knows who this is tell her call me at my office - 847-659-8200  to receive a  free ladies Bowhunting.com T-shirt.

Maintaining Your Native Prairie Planting

by Todd Graf 29. March 2011 15:13
Todd Graf

As of late we have been seeing a lot more attention being put on creating more bedding areas for deer - whether that is creating clear cuts in your woodlots to create additional cover, or planting native prairies they both will need attention to make sure you get the results you want. This will be my second year now with my prairie planting and I came across this informational piece that was created by Habitat Forever. I originally hired them to put in a prairie and this is some documentation they had provided me on how to maintain the native prairie. Remember this does not cover burnings, as most people recommend waiting until your prairie is 3 years old before you burn it off, otherwise this is a great read, especially if you're just getting started. Enjoy!

Maintaining Your New Native Prairie Planting

You’ve done all the right prep work, better yet; you’ve had your local Habitat Specialist do your prep work…so you know it was done right.  The seeds are in the ground and things are starting to green up.  This is not the time to sit back and let nature take its’ course.  Not just yet.  A new prairie planting must be vigilantly maintained in the first and second seasons of its long life.

New native grass and wildflower seedlings always grow down before they grow up.  That means they are establishing a root system before they put on top growth.  Even under ideal conditions, a native seedling will only grow a few inches high in the first season.  The first season is a critical time for a new prairie planting.  Regardless of how much herbicide prep was done, dormant weed seeds will germinate in your prairie in the first and sometimes into the second season.  These undesirable weeds can out-compete the slower growing native perennials for light and nutrients.  If left unchecked, these weeds will continue to produce seed and continue to proliferate in your new prairie planting.

How do you keep this from happening? MOW!

Maintenance Mowing During The First Season:

The rule of thumb in the first season is to mow the new prairie to a height of SIX INCHES (no lower) each time the average height of the planting reaches 12 INCHES.  If you wait too long to mow, you can actually do more harm than good because the cut thatch will shade out the new seedlings and stunt their growth.  Depending on rainfall, you may have to mow once a month from June to September in the first season.  If you are not able to do this mowing until late in the season, it’s better to wait and start mowing next year unless you have a way of removing the cut thatch.

Maintenance Mowing During The Second Season:

The rule of thumb in the second season is to mow the new prairie to a heights of 10-12 INCHES (no lower) each time the average heights reaches 24 INCHES.  If you don’t have a mower that can be set this high, beg, borrow or rent one that can! Mowing too low in the second season can set establishment time back by a full season.  The second season of mowing is not as critical as the first, but it will ensure good survival of your new native plants. If you don’t do this mowing, you MAY still get establishment of your prairie in patchy areas.  Ignoring the importance of this early mowing maintenance is the second leading cause of failed prairie plantings…second only to improper site prep.


Here is one shot of a native stand that was planted 1 year ago, after we had over 24 inches of snow! Several sheds were found right around the edges where bucks were laying down while enjoying some southern exposure.


Buring is recommended after the 3rd year from planting.

Is anyone planning on establishing a native prairie this year?

A Bowhunting Offseason Begins- Food Plots and Shed Hunting!

by Todd Graf 22. February 2011 04:43
Todd Graf

  The offseason has officially begun for this Illinois bowhunter, but that doesn’t mean that I am kicking back and taking it easy.  In fact, I am as busy now as I am during the fall chasing mature bucks!  But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  A lot of exciting times are ahead for bowhunting.com and our entire Hunting Network, and I can wait to see how 2011 unfolds!

My little man, Craig, and our dog, Drake doing a little February shed hunting.  They each found sheds and I wasn't able to find a single one!  Hopefully my luck will change sooner rather than later.

In the midst of preparing for the Illinois and Wisconsin Deer Classics, I am particularly anxious waiting for the arrival of my new Mathews bow.  I am counting down the days until my Mathews Monster shows up at the bowhunting.com office, and I can’t wait to get it setup and start shooting.  I haven’t gotten a new bow for several years, so I am like a little kid on Christmas Eve waiting for my new Monster.  The Monster is one of Mathew’s fastest bows, and if you are a speed guy like I am, I encourage you to look up the Monster on Mathew’s website.  While you are at it, be sure to look at their new Z Series family of bows as well!

Not a single kernel of corn left!

Now is the perfect time to start planning for your 2011 hunting season, and I am in the process of looking for new acreage to hunt.  I am a firm believer in having multiple properties to hunt throughout the course of the season.  This allows you to keep your properties fresh for an entire season and prevents you from educating the deer too badly thus making the deer “easier” to hunt.  My search for new land is in its infant stages and there are several resources available to the hunter who is willing to dig deep enough for the right information, however, I have had TREMENDOUS success already with nationalhuntingleases.com.  If you are looking for new hunting ground for the 2011 hunting season, check them out on their website!

A shot of one my turnip plots that backs right up against one of my corn plots.  The deer are really hitting these plots hard!

Despite the craziness of trying to find a new hunting lease, patiently (or more like Impatiently) waiting for my new bow, and preparing for the upcoming Illinois and Wisconsin Deer Classics, I managed to sneak out to my property with my son, Craig, to do a little scouting and shed hunting.  The hard work I put in during the late summer on my turnip plots is definitely paying off because the deer are really hitting these particular plots hard!  Spring is just around the corner, and now is the perfect time to start planning for this year’s food plots and giving your deer some added nutrition!  I also learned something about food plots; you can’t plant too much corn!  I made an assertive effort to establish and maintain quality corn plots to give the deer a food source rich in carbohydrates for the rough Northern Illinois winters, but I couldn’t find a single kernel left.  They really cleaned up my corn this year!

The deer are pawing through the snow to get to my turnip plots.  It feels good to know that I have a sustainable food source on my property this late in the winter.

I was, however, pleased with how well my native grasses were doing even after heavy snowfall and bitter cold temperatures.  Even in late February they are still providing excellent cover, and I even found several beds on the South facing slopes just like I thought I would!  It feels good when all the hard work and planning in land management comes together and it feels even better when you can see the deer are benefitting from your work.

My Native Grasses are doing especially well despite the heavy snow fall.  In this particular stand, I found several fresh beds that tell me the deer are still bedding in the grasses, which is a great sign.  I can't wait to see how these grasses take off this Spring and Summer!

After investigating my food plots and admiring the work of my Native Grasses, my little man Craig and I tried our luck at a little shed hunting.  When it was all said and done Craig had found two sheds, my dog Drake had found one, and yours truly had found zero.  That’s right; this dedicated bowhunter got skunked by a dog and a first grader when looking for antlers.  Hopefully, I’ll have a little better luck at finding antlers this fall than I’ve had this winter!  Nevertheless, it was fun to get and enjoy the outdoors with my son and no matter how busy I am, I will always make time for that.

I hope you guys are as excited about this year as I am, I can hardly sit still I am so anxious about the opportunities and changes that are going to be happening in the coming months!  With the snow melting, it’s time to continue looking for sheds and start thinking food plots.  Turkey hunters, it is almost time for you to get out there and starting chasing those Toms!  Bring on the warmer weather!

 

SHOT Show Update: Cool Bowhunting Gear From Leupold and Wildgame Innovations

by Todd Graf 20. January 2011 05:18
Todd Graf

 I wanted to give a quick update about how things are going out here at SHOT Show in Las Vegas.  If I could use just one word to describe the first day it would be: incredible.  As big as the ATA Show was 2 weeks ago, SHOT Show is even bigger.  In fact, it dwarfs the ATA Show in terms of size and exhibitors.  This is because the SHOT Show appeals to a much larger audience.  The exhibitors at SHOT Show display archery products, guns and ammunition products as well as law enforcement gear and information.  It’s where the hunting, shooting and outdoor industry comes together.  I want to take a quick minute to give a quick rundown at the highlights of my first day.  

This photo shows just how busy the SHOT Show really is!

Bowhunting.com camera man and video editor hard at work filming product reviews for Leupold.  Check out the New Products gallery of our video gallery to watch videos of the ATA Show from 2 weeks, and tune in next week for videos from SHOT Show.


 The first booth I stopped by was the Leupold booth where my friend Vici Peters introduced me to the new Leupold RX-1000i laser rangefinder that is perfect for bowhunters.  I know that a lot of the rangefinders I have used in the past appear blurry or foggy when looking through the viewfinder, but that’s not the case at all with the RX-1000i.  The picture is crystal clear thanks to Leupold’s Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) technology.  Rather than looking through and LCD with other rangefinders, the OLED display is reflected into the light path of the RX-1000i leaving a crystal clear image.  Thanks to Digitally Enhanced Accuracy it is accurate to within .1 yard which makes it perfect bowhunters and target shooters alike.  It also has an improved response time that lets you know immediately your target’s exact range.

The new RX-1000i laser rangefinder from Leupold is sure to change the people look at rangefinders, literally.  Thanks to OLED technology, the RX-1000i provides a crystal clear image when looking through the lens and is packed with other features geared towards bowhunters.


 Leupold has also developed the RCX Trail Camera System new for 2011.  The RCX is available in two models, the RCX-1 and RCX-2, and take 8 and 10 megapixel pictures respectively.  Its 54 degree lens angle allows for a wide field of view which in turn captures more than other trail cameras on the market.  However, what sets the camera apart from other cameras is the ability to download high resolution photos in the field without making trips to your truck and back checking SD cards.  Once you have downloaded all your photos on the RCS controller and viewer via USB cable, you can take it back to your home to upload the pictures on your computer. 

The new RCX Trail Camera System from Leupold.  Leupold has long been on the cutting edge of technology in optics, and I am sure there trail camera system is top notch as well.


 I was also impressed with Wildgame Innovations new trail camera that features Field Net Wi-Fi technology.  This unique technology, similar to that of a home wireless network, lets users remotely access, receive, edit and delete photos from their trail camera as long as they are within 300 feet of the device without an expensive plan or adding another cell phone line.  The device will automatically send the photos your iPhone or Droid or your laptop (both PC and MAC compatible).

The YN1 trail camera system from Wildgame Innovation utilizes Field Net Technology to wirelessly send trail camera photos to your iPhone, Droid or laptop as long as you are within a 300 ft. radius of the actual unit. 


I also spent some time at the Hot Mocs booth looking at their line of products designed to keep hunters warm.  I spent a lot of time in the tree year hunting late season bucks and unfortunately, I got pretty cold a couple of times.  After looking over some of the Hot Mocs products, I know two things for the 2011 season, I will be wearing their products and I won’t be getting cold.  I also saw that Evolved Harvest and teamed up with Lee and Tiffany Lakosky and developed a unique clover blend called Clover Crush. 

Lee and Tiffany teamed up with Evolved Harvest and developed their own unique seed blend, Clover Crush.


 Last night my cameraman, Brian McAllister and I were able to attend the Sportsman’s Choice Awards.  Fortunately, a couple of close friends were able to take home some hardware.  Our good friends Scott and Angie Denny of Table Mountain Outfitters took home the award for Best Big Game Footage.  If you recall, Justin and I were able to go on antelope hunt at Table Mountain Outfitters this past August and had a great time.  To view the footage of our hunt, click here.  Also, fellow bowhunter and long time friend took home Best New Series for his show Midwest Whitetail.  Congrats to both of you!
 The SHOT Show is a remarkable event to attend and I am excited and honored to be a part of it.  I can’t wait to see what today will bring!

The End of a Bowhunting Season; Pope and Young Club and Treestand Safety

by Todd Graf 18. January 2011 04:36
Todd Graf

 One would think that since the hunting season officially ended this past weekend in Illinois that I would be able to catch up on a little rest and enjoy some down time.  Not so fast, my friend!  As many of you know I was in Indianapolis this past weekend for the annual ATA Show and as I write this I am packing my bags and getting ready to head to Las Vegas for Shot Show too.  In between all of all this, I was able to get my 2010 buck officially scored by my good freind Jim Carlson and became an official member of the Pope and Young Club.  Jim turned me on to the Pope and Young Club and inisisted I join, and after hearing Jim tell of all the good things the Pope and Young Club stands for and represents, I immediately joined.

    October 15th was easily the best day I had hunting for the 2010-2011 season as I was able to harvest a mature self-filming.  This is my third mature buck I've been able to harvest while self-filming in the last three years.  For those of you who are on the fence about self-filming and question whether or not it limits your chances, I am here to tell you it can be done!  If you have ever thought about filming I urge you to give it a try.  Bowhunting itself is fun, but when you add a camera into the mix it only adds to the enjoyment.  Plus, you get to relive all of your hunts whenever you want to.  Stay tuned because we are going to have some self-filming tutorials soon!  When I harvested this buck, I guessed the buck to score in the mid 150s.  Well, my intuition proved to be correct as my buck officially scored 154 7/8”.  In case you missed the footage of me harvesting this buck; check out Episode 3 of Bowhunt or Die by clicking here.  

My record book buck from the 2010 season.  He was just an all around gorgeous buck that ended up grossing 154 7/8".

 I am also proud to announce that I am finally an official member of the Pope and Young Club, and that I entered my buck into the P&Y record books.  I had always wanted to become a part of the Pope and Young Club, but never really had the time to sit down and join. The Pope and Young Club is an organization that every bowhunter should think about joining.  According to the P&Y website, the Pope and Young Club is a non-profit, charitable, membership-based organization whose mission is to ensure bowhunting existence for future generations by promoting and protecting our rich bowhunting heritage and values.   It offers bowhunters around the world a chance to partake in an organization that truly protects our bowhunting rights and ensures a bowhunting future.  I encourage all of to consider joining!

If you are serious about protecting our bowhunting heritage and promising a bowhunting future, I encourage you to join the Pope and Young Club.  I recently did and it's a great organization.


   The Pope and Young Club also supports the National Bowhunter Education Foundation and the two have recently teamed up to unleash an all out attack on tree stand accidents and tree stand safety.  This campaign will be called Project STAND (Stop Treestand Accidents ‘N Deaths).  The goal is to significantly reduce the number of injuries and related deaths associated with tree stand accidents..  Studies show that 50% of tree stand hunters never wear a safety harness.  Studies also show that between 10-30% of all tree stand hunters will experience a fall or near miss during the hunting career.  By 2012, the Pope and Young Club and STAND are hoping to drastically reduce these numbers.  According to the Pope and Young Club, 83% of all P&Y Record Book whitetail entries were taken from a tree stand.  Also, tree stand accidents kill and injure more hunters than firearms.  Those really are sobering statistics and should be an eye opener for everyone.
  Unfortunately, I became a statistic this past fall as I nearly fell from a tree stand while out filming with my cameraman, Cody Altizer.  I was wearing my safety harness while hanging a new stand, and removed it before my descent.  One of the straps on my Lone Wolf climbing stick snapped and I nearly fell.  I was able to grab onto the platform of my stand to prevent a painful landing, but I did injure my right bicep pretty badly.  Thankfully, that was the only injury I had to endure.  I know my wife and little boy, Craig, are thankful too.  I am now taking a serious stand (pun intended) on tree stand safety.  I've been particularly impressed by Scent Blocker's new safety products for 2011, the Tree Spider Safety harness and vest, as well as the Livewire Descent system.  The harness itself is very light, fast and easy to put on and but more importantly safe.  The Speed Vest offers all the same features but in a vest style harness which can be worn into Scent Blocker clothing.  The Livewire Descent System allows for safe, quick, hands free descent from your tree stand.  To learn more about the Tree Spider Safety System from Scent Blocker click here.  I certainly learned my lesson after the fall and immediately ordered the Lifeline System from Muddy Outdoors for all of my treestands.  It is a literal life saver in the deer woods, because you are safe and secure from the moment you start climbing your treestand, to the moment you get down at the end of the hunt.  All you have to do is attach it to the tree when you first hang the stand and you are promised safety henceforth.  I really do encourage all of you to look into the Lifeline System for all of your treestands; the cost certainly outweighs the potential risk. 

The Pope and Young Club and the National Bowhunter Education Foundation have recently joined forces to create an educational campaign called STAND designed to educate bowhunters on treestand safety.  The above image is the logo for this new movement and both parties encourage bowhunters to help promote the cause.


   It is hard to believe that another hunting season has come and gone and quite frankly, I don’t even want to think about bowhunting right now.  I am one burnt out bowhunter.  I worked extremely hard this year and was able to harvest a beautiful 154” buck and two does with my bow, all on film, so I really can’t complain.  Before I know it spring will be here and I will be working tirelessly on my food plots and habitat management program on my property.  Shed hunting season has already begun too.  There truly is no offseason for the serious bowhunter!  If you love bowhunting as much as I do, I urge you to become a member of the Pope and Young Club to protect our bowhunting rights and the future of the sport we all love. However, I most encourage you to hunt smart and hunt safely!

Bowhunting.com: Your Resource for Live Updates from 2011 ATA Show

by Todd Graf 4. January 2011 02:09
Todd Graf

 Since January coincides with the end of deer season here Illinois, you would think that I would be pretty depressed right now.  Well, that’s not at all the case, because with the 2011 ATA Show begins this week!  Tomorrow our staff will be heading to Indianapolis, Indiana to cover the show live from the show.


 Bowhunting.com will be reporting live from the show with live blog updates and exclusive videos of all the cool new bowhunting gadgets and gizmos.  Check bowhunting.com regularly to keep up to date with all the new information being released!  This year the ATA will be showcasing 500 exhibitors spaciously spread out on a 300,000 square foot show room with 300 media representatives on sight.  The 2011 ATA Show is the place to get a sneak peak of all the cool new products for 2011.  I myself can’t wait to hit up the shooting lanes and test out the new bows for 2011, especially the new Z series by Mathews! 


There will be several seminars being conducted this week including some by John Campbell and Jeremy Leu of the Campbell Outdoor Challenge.  John and Jeremy are the hosts of the Campbell Outdoor Challenge and are the industry experts in the sport of filming hunts.  I can’t wait to learn a thing or two!  If the name Jeremy Leu sounds familiar, that’s because he was featured on Episode 4 of Bowhunt or Die this season.  Jeremy harvested a beautiful 150+” buck on film.  Be sure to check out the footage if you haven’t already.


If you aren’t able to make it the 2011 ATA Show, Bowhunting.com will be your resource for all the latest updates and information the entire week so make sure you check back with us often; it's going to be fun!

Big Buck Down in Illinois! October Bowhunting Success

by Todd Graf 21. October 2010 13:26
Todd Graf

As we head into the last 10 days of October I know bowhunters across the US are gearing up for the rut, and from what I've seen so far it looks like it's going to be a good one!  I know that bucks around here are really starting to work the scrapes pretty hard so if you find a good scrape line now is the time to hunt it, or at the very least set up a trail camera over it.  If you're looking for any last minute bowhunting products from scents to trail cameras make sure to look in the online bowhunting store right here on Bowhunting.com.  We have over 14,000 products most of which ship out the same or next day!

Here in Illinois things have been going very well for me.  As you've seen in our bowhunting videos I've had several great encounters with some super nice bucks.  One thing that I've noticed, along with a lot of the bowhunters I talk to, is that there's an incredible amount of acorns this year.  I'm sure the great spring we had helped contribute to this.  If you have a good acorn source it seems like the deer are really hitting them hard so that may be another spot to catch a nice buck before the rut really hits.


Acorns are a great food source for Mid to late October hunts.

Across most of the Midwest we've had a really dry stretch of weather which means a lot of water has dried up, making water sources another good option.  If we don't get a lot of rain before November being close to water may really benefit a lot of bowhunters.  Once the bucks start running hard they're going to need water and if you've got a good source you just may catch a nice buck while he's heading in for a drink!


Water holes are another great spot for October and November hunts.  Especially during dry weather.

Doing as much bowhunting as I do means climbing up and down a LOT of trees, which makes treestand safety one of my top priorities.  I truly hope that everyone out there is wearing their safety harness and if you can afford it I would strongly recommend a life line type product as well.  Being attached to the tree from the ground to the top makes the world of difference when it comes to safety and my confidence while climbing in and out of my stands.

Over the past couple of weeks I've been able to share some really fun hunts with a few of my friends as well.  I think it's important to remember to have fun while you're out in the woods and there's no better way to do that than spending it with good friends or family.


Dr. Ali Shaibani on one of his first bowhunts ever.  He hasn't gotten a deer yet, but it's only a matter of time now!


Justin relaxing in a Summit climber during and evening hunt over a soybean plot.

Of course once the fun is over it's time to get back to hunting!  Last Friday I was fortunate enough to close the deal on the white racked giant that you saw in Bowhunt or Die: Episode 2.  You'll have to watch this week's episode, which will be posted tomorrow, for the details but rest assured it was a great hunt!  Once again I was able to prove that you can film yourself harvesting a trophy animal if you work hard at it.


See the full video of me harvesting this buck on tomorrow's episode of Bowhunt or Die.


When self-filming it's important to make sure you have all of your camera pieces before you leave the office!  This is my improvised mount after our video editor forgot to put the mount back on my camera.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the latest episode of Bowhunt or Die!  We've got our best episode yet with two doe kills and two 150 inch bucks hitting the ground.  You don't want to miss it!

Early Bowhunting Season Recap | Wyoming Antelope & Wisconsin Doe

by Todd Graf 29. September 2010 10:46
Todd Graf

October 1st signifies the opening day of archery season here in Illinois and although my bowhunting season has barely begun, it's already been an extremely successful one.  I'm sure many of you have already read Justin's blog about our trip to Wyoming and no doubt seen the video as well.  But for those of you who haven't, let me tell you it was a great time!

Just over a month ago Justin and I, along with our cameraman/editor Brian, flew out to Table Mountain Outfitters for an early season antelope hunt.  After a few delays at the airport we finally settled into camp around 1 am on Friday morning August 27th.

After some much needed rest, unpacking our gear and sighting in our bows we headed into town to pick up our archery tags and some supplies for the day.  Once that was done it was time to head to our blinds and see if we couldn't lay down a couple goats.


Justin reading over the regulations before heading into our blinds.


Our home for the next 9 hours while trying to kill my first antelope with a bow.

Justin had the lucky horseshoe this day as he was able to take a nice antelope just 3 hours after getting into his blind.  In the meantime Brian and I were sitting in our blind wondering if anything was ever going to show up.  After a long day of napping, playing games on our phones, reading books, and staring off into the Wyoming landscape we finally had a nice buck approach our blind.

As Brian, the rookie cameraman on his first hunt, was struggling to hold himself together I got ready for the shot.  After ranging the buck at about 35 yards I drew back and let my 2 blade Bloodrunner fly.  The shot was a bit low and forward, but the Bloodrunner sure did the trick as the buck didn't run more than 100 yards before going down. 

Following a quick celebration and interview I snuck out of the blind to make sure the goat was down for good.  You can never be too sure!  By the time I got to the buck he was already expired and I claimed my first ever archery antelope.  What a great feeling!


My first archery antelope.  What a great way to start the season!


That 2 blade Bloodrunner sure did the trick on this goat.  It flew great and left a HUGE hole!


A nice Wyoming sunset.


The full gang on the final day of our antelope hunt with Table Mountain Outfitters.  From left to right: Brian McAlister, Justin Zarr, Dustin Decroo, Angie Denny, Todd Graf, Vicki Cianciarulo

If you haven't seen the video already, click here to watch it.  There's some really great footage!

After we returned home from Wyoming I was able to head down with my dad for a quick dove hunt with my friends at Graham's Outdoor Adventures in Central Illinois.  As always we had a great time with those guys, shot a bunch of doves, and enjoyed a nice summer day.  Thanks to the Grahams for having us down, it was a blast!


My dad, me, and Derek Graham after a fun day of dove hunting.

This past Sunday up in Wisconsin I was fortunate enough to take a really nice doe on film with my new cameraman Cody Altizer behind the lens.  Cody and I spent a few days at my property the past two weekends trying to get on one of the nice bucks we've had on trail cameras this summer, but they were nowhere to be found.  So when this nice big doe presented me with a shot I took the oportunity to start filling the freezer up with some fresh meat.  Next time we just need a nice buck to come by!


Cody getting ready to head out for our evening's hunt.


Me with my first doe of the season.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO OF THIS EARLY SEASON DOE HUNT.

Back at home, or at least at my hunting property which seems like my 2nd home, my fall food plots are coming in GREAT!  All of my stands are hung and I am just about as ready for Opening Day as I can be.  Good luck to everyone who is going out hunting for the first time this weekend.  Stay safe and shoot straight!


The view from one of the stands I just hung last week.  I can't wait to get in there and do some hunting!

 


My native grasses are doing much better than I expected, which is going to provide some much needed security cover for not just deer but all sorts of wildlife.


Turnips are looking good!

Velvet Whitetails & Native Grasses - Late Summer Bowhunting Update

by Todd Graf 24. August 2010 10:52
Todd Graf

With September looming just around the corner my mind is really starting to wonder off to thoughts of treestands, falling leaves, and hard antlered whitetails!  The bowhunting season can't come quick enough for this deer hunter, that's for sure!

As part of the habitat management program on my Illinois hunting land I've been planting a lot of trees and other native plants.  The 3 acre native grass field I planted this spring is really starting to look great!  Despite the fact that its only the first year for this planting the  warm temperatures and consistant rain has given it a huge kick start. I've had to mow the field  twice to help control unwanted species and I also sprayed it once with a product called Banvel to control unwanted broadleaf plants. I can only imagine how this is going to increase the security cover on the property when it reaches maturity at 5 feet tall. I will most likely be complaining then I am not seeing any deer because they are all hiding in it!


Jim Carlson, thanks again for helping me out and doing such a great job planting!

I have attached some close-up photos for those of you who are interested in seeing the various types of grasses that I've planted and how they are coming along.


The head of some Indian Grass.


Sideoats Grama


Indian Grass stems


Little Blue Stem

It seems the area that I am hunting in Wisconsin does not have Earn-a-Buck regulations this year, which must mean that the DNR is happy with the overall population. I hope that some of the management practices that we have been doing such as letting the smaller bucks walk, taking does for meat & not shooting button bucks will hopefully make a difference in the long haul.  So far it seems to be showing some positive results.


Good looking buck from Wisconsin, I just might have to release an arrow on if he gets too close!


.
Non-typical Buck – wow will this buck look cool if he makes it a few more years.

Back home in Illinois I haven't had a sighting of Flyer the buck that I am after.  Hopefully he shows up once the velvet starts peeling off and the bucks begin roamin a little more.  In the meantime, I have a few other nice bucks that have showed up my trail cameras.

I want to give a bit congrats to Justin Hillman who looked like he has a great time in Africa. From the looks of these photos he had one heck of a bowhunting adventure.

Two more days until Justin and I are off to Wyoming for an Antelope hunt with our friends at Table Mountain Outfitters.  Wish us luck, we're pretty excited!

Horizontal Bowhunter Reviews Bowhunting.com - Volume 1

by Todd Graf 5. August 2010 08:09
Todd Graf

I just want to thank Horizontal Bowhunter for their great review of Bowhunting.com - Volume 1. You can read the full article below.

Bowhunting.com – Volume 1
Produced by Rhino Group

Todd Graf has been a good, personal friend of mine for a decade and a half; and over the course of those years he has established a reputation within the industry as a serious bowhunter as well as a very competent business man. In recent years, he has entered into the field of hunting DVD production and I am here to report that he maintains his personal level of excellence in this endeavor as well.

I must confess that Todd presented me with a copy of his first production at the 2009 Wisconsin Deer and Turkey Expo and asked me to check it out. A year later at the same show, he asked what I thought of the DVD. I sheepishly had to admit that I had not taken the time to watch it in the past twelve months as I don’t spend my spare time watching hunting shows or videos. He admonished me, clucking in disapproval and then presented me with another copy of Volume One and as well as a copy of the newly released Volume Two. Culpably, I promised him that I would take the time watch them sometime before the 2011 Expo.

Several weeks after returning home I sat down with a note pad and I inserted Volume 1 into the DVD player for a quick look. I settled in and spent over two hours delightfully entertained and at times even on the edge of my seat, watching one bowhunt after another as Todd and his friends pursued the wily whitetail deer with a stick and string. Produced under the title of Bowhunting.com, which is one of Todd’s websites, the DVD follows Todd Graf, Justin Zarr and an assortment of their Bowhunting buddies into the field on one adventure after another.

The format is easy to follow and well done using a combination of on camera footage from the heat of the action in the field accompanies by concise headshot narrations in the studio to fill in the blanks making sure that the viewer has the complete picture of what is happening on screen. It is done very well an moves along quickly preventing the presentation from bogging down and ensuring that the viewer is adequately entertained at all times. The hunts are presented in a real life manner and once did my B.S. detector go off to warn me about imaginative frosting being applied to the production to sweeten it for consumption. I was very impressed with the candid way that the producers portrayed our sport making an honest exhibit of what Bowhunting is really about.

Truthfully, some of the footage was less than perfect as natural conditions and forgotten camera adjustments were not made. Some of the heavy rock music used in the early portions of the production caused a series of colorful flashbacks that temporarily disturbed my concentration, but the tunes towards the end of the video mellowed out and seemed to be more appropriate for a peaceful outing in the serenity of God’s feral forest. The final cut is an entertaining program that keeps a steady pace and never sags in the middle allowing the viewer to get bored with the action. And as I mentioned before, the production is two hours and ten minutes long, which is an unusually good value for your DVD dollar in this day and age.

As emcees, Todd and Justin did an outstanding job of sharing their honesty and their excitement for a sport that means so much to all of us. These men are young, enthused and on the prowl for new hunting adventures in some of the very best whitetail hunting spots in the country. The highlight of the presentation for me was watching Todd take his buck of a lifetime from a stand while acting as his own camera man. It was nicely done and a pleasure to share his excitement of bagging an incredible buck after working so hard and so long to track it down. This production is exciting, educational, very fast paced and surely will be one of the shining stars in any hunting movie collection. I will try very hard to set aside a little time to review Volume 2 and share my thoughts about it in the fall issue of HBM.

For more information on how to add this DVD to your hunting library, visit Bowhunting.com and discover the best bowhunting website in the world.


Click here to purchase your copy of Bowhunting.com - Volume 1 and Bowhunting.com - Volume 2.

Bowhunting.com DVD - Volume 1 Bowhunting.com DVD - Volume 1
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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!

Unbelievable Trail Cam Photo: Doe Walking with Half Born Fawn!

by Todd Graf 25. June 2010 09:31
Todd Graf

Check out this unbelievable trail camera photo I received from a buddy of mine from Wisconsin.  This doe appears to be having a little trouble with the birthing process!  Any ideas as to what may cause this?  Perhaps a hungry coyote startled the mother while she was giving birth, or is it possible she got hungry and decided to get up and get a bite to eat?  Regardless, this is a once in a lifetime photo and of course we hope both the doe and fawn are alive and healthy!

 

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Legends of the Fall Virginia Turkey Hunt

by Todd Graf 14. June 2010 03:08
Todd Graf

A big thanks to our good friend Eric Hale from The Legends of the Fall TV show for sending us this awesome Virginia turkey hunt.  Eric set out with his bow and his camera and was able to self-film himself harvesting a great gobbler this spring.  Click on the video below to check it out!

For those of you who don't know, The Legends of the Fall TV show will be debuting on the Outdoor Channel in July.  We are very proud here at the Rhino Group of the new website we built for them at www.thelegendsofthefall.com, so check that out too when you get a chance.  And as always, if you are in need of a professional website design you can contact us via our website at RhinoGroup.com.  We'd love to help you out.

In the meantime we're continuing to work on our food plots, we've been hanging some stands, and of course testing out the best new bowhunting products for our Gear Review section.  Make sure you keep an eye on our reviews, we've got some great information that will help you choose the right gear for this fall.

Less than 80 days until we head to Table Mountain Outfitters on an Antelope hunt, so it's really time to start getting ready!!

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 Bowhunting.com 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 Bowhunting.com 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 Bowhunting.com 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 Bowhunting.com 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.

thelegendsofthefall.com - 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. 

 

 

 

robinsonoutdoors.com - 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. 

 

 

 

 

legacyquestoutdoors.com - 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 www.rhinogroup.com

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 Bowhunting.com.  Thanks for being so good at what you do!


My little man starting his way to a healthy recovery.

Todd Graf - Strength & Honor!

New World Record Turkey Taken by Bow!

by Todd Graf 20. April 2010 05:57
Todd Graf

Wow, this is a turkey to be proud of... A new world record! Congratulations Todd Pringnitz. I was just surfing the web and found his site and story about his new world record turkey. Here it is:

For many turkey hunters, the thought of a world record animal must occupy their brains much like the elusive giant whitetail bucks that I have been dreaming about my whole life. In all the thoughts that have entered my brain, shooting a world record turkey was the farthest thing from my mind when my good buddy Dan Johnson and I headed to our Bale Blind on the afternoon of April 13th.

I’ve turkey hunted the last few years without any-luck. My only previous experience having any sort of encounter with a tom turkey would be in my back yard back in my home state of Michigan. I somehow found a way to miss a tom turkey at about 8 feet. Needless to say, I didn’t exactly have a huge goal going into this turkey season. In-fact, I would have been pumped to kill any tom turkey with my bow! If it happened on video that would just have been an added bonus. I mean we’re whitetail video producers right?

Thankfully, the persistence of my good friend Dallas Ft. Worth to film my first few hunts of the season would end up being one of the best things to ever happen in my life. Our hunt started earlier in the year when while shed hunting I happened to find my long-lost decoy laying under a bunch of brush out in my CRP field. I remembered the location, and figured I’d grab it the first day I headed into the field turkey hunting. Thankfully I grabbed it a few days before I started hunting because there was an ant nest inside of it, and they were biters! I hosed it out, but didn’t have the stake to hold it in the ground. After digging through my old arrow pile, I found an arrow that would work just fine.

Throughout our first afternoon in the field, Dallas and I filmed a giant tom working the opposite side of the corn field as us. We called at the tom several times, but despite his gobbling and strutting action, he just wouldn’t come closer. I still considered this pretty darned cool because he was definitely a mature tom turkey, and we got some footage of him.

The following afternoon would find Dallas and myself back into the same Bale Blind in-hopes of seeing the giant tom from the day before. When putting out the decoy, we actually busted a hen from the field, so we didn’t even know if we would be seeing much. Within a few minutes, Dallas was performing his “box call magic”, and the wait was on.

About 45 minutes later, we saw a tom turkey enter the field. It was clear that he was a pig of a turkey, but he was leading a hen. He would work up to about 30 yards in-front of her, and then strut back. I honestly didn’t think he was going to come close because he was entertaining the hen. He worked back and forth within about 60 yards, and started circling parallel to us in the blind. With a hen decoy in-front of the blind, we called a little here and there to try to get his attention enough so that he would see the decoy.

With an occasional view of his strutting fan through the standing corn, he started coming closer to the opening in-front of our blind. I was very aware of the distances and shooting arrangement because we had been deer hunting from the same set-up this past late deer season here in Iowa. I knew if he was in the opening, he was within 40 yards, which was a bad place for him to be. He started working closer and seemed like he was committed to coming into the decoy.


This is a picture of the giant turkey entering the field. My first thoughts were “he’s a shooter”...

As he entered the opening, the old tom was clearly a giant turkey. Even though this tom was interested in the hen decoy, he seemed very cautious. He stayed out at a 35-40 yard parameter around the decoy and our bale blind, never coming closer to investigate the mangy looking hen with arrow fletching strangely sticking through the top of her back.


This shows my not-so-fancy decoy set-up in-front of our blind with the big tom circling at 35 yards...

In the back of my mind throughout these moments was the “Shipwreck” encounter that we had in the same corn field only a few months earlier. “Shipwreck” was the 190 class giant I had at 35 yards from a ground blind and I just couldn’t get a shot into him. With the same exact type of “cautious investigation” as the “Shipwreck” encounter, I wasn’t about to make the same mistake again. With the tom starting to walk back to the hen he was tending, I committed to the 35 yard walking shot and came to full-draw. A quick check with Dallas behind the camera, my anchor was locked, and an arrow was soon in-flight “tom-ward bound”.


This is when the tom started heading back toward the other hen in the field. It was now or never!

Of all the arrows I’ve ever release, boy am I glad this one was true. I hit the tom pretty-much dead-center of his body with a loud “thwack”. Dallas started screaming “you smoked him – you smoked him” and I couldn’t believe I had just shot my first tom turkey. After talking a short bit in the blind, we wanted to go track the bird and make certain he was done. After walking across the field, we saw the turkey and he was still alive. After making a quick stalk, I was able to center another arrow through the bird as he started his “death flap”.


This is Dallas and I in the bale blind just after the shot...

Still not knowing we had just shot the world record, Dallas and I were most concerned with putting the beautiful bird out of his misery. It wasn’t until I peeled back the feathers on his chest when all the beards separated and one after another was visible. My trembling hands sifted through the beards trying to keep track of them as they counted of. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and finally 6 beards were exposed and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’d seen and heard of multiple bearded turkeys, but 6 wasn’t something I’d ever heard of. I proclaimed to Dallas; “I just shot a 200 class Boone and Crocket Turkey Dude”…. Yeah, I still had no idea.


Here is a picture I took of the beards in my hand after just realizing the turkey was a multi-bearded freak bird!

After taking our trophy pictures and making some phone calls, things started to take a turn to the ridiculous. I was SO excited to have killed this tom, I swear I don’t think I would have been any-more excited knowing what I had really just shot. Anyone who has seen our deer hunting videos before already knows what I’m talking about. I can shoot a doe and nearly start crying. Ok, maybe not that bad – but it’s pretty embarrassing I can tell you! This is no exception, but it is what it is. I’m not going to apologize for being myself. Ok, I apologize for those who don’t “get me” because sometimes I hate watching my own stuff!

Sitting in a Huntmore chair that I was fortunate enough to engineer for Huntmore owner Scott Hoffman; well, this is the best testing we can do. Pretty cool I get to combine my skills of product design with my passion for hunting. I’m a very fortunate guy to have Scott many years ago on a hunt in Effingham, Illinois!

Chris Brackett (Arrow Afflictions) was the first guy who let me know exactly what I had shot in his way “You idiot, you just shot a state record or something”. After sending him a cell picture of the beard he replied, “You just shot the new world record, you XXXXX”… I think you get the idea.


This is the Blind Ambitions Bale Blind that we used for this set-up. It worked perfectly!

After doing some “we don’t know how to properly measure turkeys – measuring”, we came to the conclusion that this indeed could be the new world record turkey. By this point all Dallas and I could do is laugh. I mean seriously; I’ve spent the last 22 years of my life basically “living for whitetails”. Every waking second of every single day I spend dreaming of bucks, planning, and working for the upcoming season. As soon as one is complete, we're already working on the next aspect of our year-around pursuit.


Here’s another picture of the Iowa freaks beard.

The only comparison I can make is to the 12 year old that goes out for the first time bowhunting and shoots a 200 class whitetail. I indeed was just that of the turkey world, and I knew things would never be the same. With that being said, I’ve hunted hard enough over the past many years to realize there is always an element of “luck” in any hunt. I always considered all of my luck to be “made”. In this particular case however, it was not only luck, it was dumb luck! What do you do, every serious turkey hunter is probably going to hate me, but I guess there’s nothing I can do about that now.

The turkey was officially scored by Hazel Creek Taxidermy; and has been entered as the new archery World Record for the Eastern turkey in the NWTF record books. The entire experience has been eye-opening to say the least. I’d just like to thank the NWTF and Hazel Creek Taxidermy for their help with this unknown world of turkey hunting that I have just been thrust into. They have all been just awesome! Most of all, I want to thank my good friend, team member, and cameraman Dan Johnson (Dallas Ft. Worth). Without you brother, we wouldn’t have this experience documented to share with the entire world! The turkey and sport deserves it, and without you this would never have been possible. So, thank you so-so much dude! To think that a 9-fingered guy would film the new world record turkey kill – well, I don’t think you’re missing right index finger would have ever imagined. Definitely not right now anyway.

I would never have imagined in a million years that I would ever be “that guy”. Now that it’s done, I just can’t wait to share the story with everyone. I can only imagine how many “shaking heads” there will be when watching me completely not realize what I have just shot. To those guys, believe me, I feel your pain! With that being said, I’m not going to complain about being “that guy”...

My World Record Archery Eastern Tom Turkey had over 49” of combined beard length. He weighed 25.9 pounds, and had 1-1/4” spurs. He scored 149.6875 which beat the previous record of 139.2400. It could be broken tomorrow, but for the moment it’s pretty cool! Good luck to all the turkey hunters out there! Looks like I’ve got a new spring activity to get serious about. Unfortunately, it’s all down-hill from here!

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In Memory of Terry Zarr

by Todd Graf 26. March 2010 10:10
Todd Graf

I know a lot of you guys are friends with Justin and have got to know him through Bowhunting.com. I just wanted to let you know unfortunately yesterday Justin lost a good friend, great sportsmen and more importantly his father. Each and everyone of us if asked who got you into hunting can answer that within seconds. For Justin it was his dad. Here are some photos I want to share and if a few of you can take a moment to reach out to him in a private message that would be appreciated.

Visitation will be Wednesday, March 31st from 3:00pm to 7:00pm at the Kisselburg-Wauconda Funeral Home. Memorial service will be at 7:00pm at the funeral home.

235 North Main Street
Wauconda, Illinois 60084

In Memory of Terry Zarr

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Shed Hunting, Property Planning & The Start of Another Bowhunting Season

by Todd Graf 25. January 2010 10:51
Todd Graf

I was lucky enough to bump into long-term friend Jim Shockey at the ATA show this year. I cant believe it was 15 years ago when I first stepped onto the SHOT Show floor, and was fortunate enough to meet Jim & his wife.  Jim was one of the few people who was willing to give me five minutes of his time while I pitched him on the Internet and how cool it is and that you could have you own website...blah, blah blah.  Honestly, I think Jim thought I was from Mars but he was polite enough to listen to me. When I finally shut up Jim's words were something along the lines of "I'm not really sure what you're talking about, but I want one!" Since that time we have created several different versions of his website through the years and are in the process of a new redesign for 2010 which will be the best yet! For those of you who have not watched Jim on TV or have purchased his videos, he is the REAL DEAL! Jim is as hardcore of a hunter as they get, he is very intelligent, and truly a great guy.

 
We're getting ready to rebuild Jim a new website which will have significantly more interactivity and a lot more video action so stay tuned and we'll make sure that will let you know what is the website is launched.

Two other websites we're very proud to have recently built are Lee & Tiffany Lakosky's website for their hit show The Crush and New Archery Products all-new website.  If you're ever in the need for website development services for your business  - hunting or otherwise - give us a call, we'd love to help you out.  You can learn more about our web development services and view our portfolio online at www.rhinogroup.com


From left to right - Marc Baird, Lee Lakosky, NAP President Andy Simo, Tiffany Lakosky, Todd Graf, and Justin Zarr

We are also excited to be working with a brand new TV show coming for this fall -The Legends of the Fall.  Here is a photo of the cast of the all new show. Mike & Bonnie McFerrin, Eric Hale, Chris Ward, Mark Luster & David Bogard.  We will be starting to build their website very shortly, and I'll make sure to post a link as soon as it's finished.

This past weekend I went out to one of my hunting spots to check a few trail cameras, inspect my food plots, and look for some early shed antlers.  Between my good friend Jim Carlson and I we picked up 3 fresh sheds, including a matched set to a buck that I have been hunting for the past two seasons. I have never seen this buck on hoof, but I sure do have plenty of trail camera photos of him! I'm really glad to see he made it through the season and I'm already looking forward to chasing him again next fall. 

 
My buddy Jim holding the first matched set of the season.

 
Here is a photo of Jim from several weeks ago when he shot this monster buck late in the season hunting over a food plot.


Just after Jim finished his photos, he went to start dragging the deer and off came the one of the antlers. Personally, I think he did it on purpose to make the inside spread larger! "Of course I'm kidding"

 
Here is a photo of the buck I called "Flyer" from this past October.  He doesn't have a lot of tine length, but he's got some great main beams and a lot of mass.

 
Here is another photo of him still alive on 12/22/2009


Here I am posing with Flyer's sheds and another shed that we picked up.  The smaller shed is off a buck I passed earlier in the season.

Looking back on my season I feel like I have really grown a lot over the past year or two when it comes to hunting. I don't feel the need to pull the trigger on every deer that walks by. This is the first year that I can think of where Justin actually shot more deer than I did - I'm kidding Justin. I feel like I have reached another pleateu in hunting where I would rather let them walk and really hunt for a specific deer or just wait longer until the monster steps out. Maybe I am just getting older or my buddy Alex Phillips has really got me convinced not to shoot smaller deer. Whatever's going on I am having the most fun ever - especially when it comes to planting food plots and giving back to wildlife. I highly recommend the giving back part to all hunters, as it is the least that we can do to help preserve the wildlife we all love so much.  Seeing deer pile into a food plot during harsh conditions and eat their hearts out on much need nutrition is really rewarding.


The photo above is a brassica field torn apart by deer looking for food.


My corn is still holding out, but it wont be long and it will be gone.


In just about every row of corn that I walked was pile after pile of deer droppings.


Here's a turnip that is just waiting for a deer to eat it. If you have not tried planting food plots or you are looking for more food plot advice check out www.foodplots.com for some great tips and general information on food plots.

Archery Trade Show 2010 - Bowhunter's Paradise

by Todd Graf 12. January 2010 09:17
Todd Graf

I'm not sure why the older I get the years seem to fly by faster and faster. If i'm not thinking about preparing the properties for food plots, or hunting during the season the next thing that excites me the most is the ATA show each year. This show is where you get to see alot of industry friends, all the new bowhunting gear coming out for the upcoming season. Last year I was just to busy to switch out my bow but this year, I have already seen and have heard about some pretty cool items. The ATA does a fine job putting together this trade show and has done so for years, its very organized and attracts just about everyone in the bowhunting industry. The only two compaines that I know will not be here are Scent-lok and Mathews - which I don't know why?

Justin and I arrived here today and was invited to Outtech's Innovations Party - kind of a sneak peak to all of the Outtech's companies that they rep for. They really out did it this year, great appitizers, Bad Boy Buggies gave away a buggy and country music singer Craig Morgan put on one heck of a show.  I'm not a huge country music fan myself, but I had a good time at the party and could tell everyone else was too!

 

Were going to be busy tommorow seeing all of the new products, and we will be sharing what we find out right here on the site!



Bad Boy Buggies giving away a free buggy before the concert.



Angie Denny from Table Mountain Outfitters, Art Helin from New Archery Products, and our own Justin Zarr enjoying the pre-show festivities.  Justin is always good for an interesting photo!



I'm interested to find out what this "Invisible Hunter" is all about....

As far as the ending of my hunting season goes, I was able to harvest a late season doe and a good friend of mine Don Spolum harvested a nice 140 class while hunting during a cold front.  Hunting late season food sources before a cold front is a great way to connect on a late season buck, no doubt.  Congrats to Don on a great trophy, I'm glad I got to share the experience with him.

Trespassers Beware! - Great Job Catching Him!

by Todd Graf 14. December 2009 19:18
Todd Graf

This is one happy ending to someone who has been getting his gear stolen. I sure enjoy reading the stories when the bad guy gets caught.

Here is the article from WAFB.com / Channel 9 - Louisiania's News.

Suspected thief claims he was protecting animal:DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - A land owner used a decoy camera to help catch a man suspected of stealing other digital game surveillance cameras from his property in Livingston Parish. After his arrest, the man reportedly told detectives he took it to stop the owner from hunting in the area.

Dustin Archibald, 21, of Denham Springs surrendered to Livingston Parish sheriff's deputies on Thursday. According to investigators, he was photographed around noon the previous day "taking the bait."

When presented with the photograph (See Below), which deputies said clearly shows him with the camera in his hand, Archibald allegedly told them he was not stealing the camera but taking it so the property owner would not hunt the deer in the area. Detectives added the incriminating photo also shows Archibald's dog and a "No Trespassing" sign in the background.

Deputies said the problem began in November when four cameras were stolen from the victim's property near Denham Springs. He decided to set up a decoy and place another surveillance camera in position to snap pictures of any potential thieves. The land owner called the sheriff's office and showed them the photograph of the suspect.

Archibald was identified as the culprit and turned himself in to authorities. He was booked into the Livingston Parish Detention Center on one count of criminal trespassing and one count of theft. His bond was set at $10,500.

Original article can be found at -  http://www.wafb.com/Global/story.asp?S=11661499

NOTE: One should keep in mind it pays to have your property posted with signs that notify trespassers that property is monitored by digital surveilance.

Click here to see our custom NO-Trespassing sign designed by Bowhunting.Com

Small Buck Mounts 3D Target! Great Trail Camera Video!

by Todd Graf 17. November 2009 19:49
Todd Graf

I recently checked one of the trail cams I have over my mock scrape and found these great clips that I wanted to share with you.  First you'll see me coming in and freshening up my Mock Scrape with some Mrs. Doe Pee's doe urine, then you'll see a small love struck buck who is looking for love in all the wrong places.  He's not the biggest buck in the woods, but he sure does put on an impressive show for the camera.  You have to love the rut!

I knew when I found the head had been knocked off my target that I would have some cool trail camera videos, but I never expected this!

Illinois Buck Harvest - A Buck Named Tank

by Todd Graf 1. November 2009 22:09
Todd Graf

Sweet, sweet November is finally upon us!  If you're a crazy bowhunting nut like myself this is the time you live for, so make sure you're ready to go because the heat of the rut is right around the corner!

October ended on a high note for me, as I was able to film myself harvesting a beautiful Illinois buck that some of my neighbors had nicknamed "Tank".  The ironic part about this particular hunt is that the buck did nearly the exact same thing my 192" buck did last fall.  When you see the footage you'll see what I'm talking about!

Just like last year I was able to catch this buck coming out of his bedding area during daylight, no doubt going to check out some of the local does.  That's been the key to my October success lately.  Find where they're bedding and get them while they're still predictable, because you never know where they are going to end up once the rut hits.


You can tell by the body size on this Illinois brute why he earned the nickname "Tank"!  Justin and I gross scored him at just over 144 inches.

Tank is a buck that we knew well, with multiple trail camera photos of him being taken all summer and fall.  Proof yet again that they can be valuable tools to get a good inventory of the bucks living on your hunting property.  Tank was one of the most visible bucks in the area as you can tell by the photos below.

My shot was a little further back than I had wanted, but with the massive 1 1/2" cutting diameter of the NAP BloodRunner Tank only made it 175 yards before expiring.  It was a tough blood trail at times, but thanks to the help of my good friends Don and Glen Spolum we recovered Tank with relative ease.  Thanks for the help guys, I really appreciate it!


The NAP BloodRunner really did a number on this buck, which is why we were able to recover him within 200 yards from the shot.

We'll have the video posted right here on Bowhunting.com very shortly.  We're a little behind right now, been spending too much time in the treestand and not enough behind our computers!  I'll be sure to let you all know when it's posted.

As always, if you're looking for any last-minute gear before the rut really kicks into high gear check out our online shopping cart.  We've got over 14,000 bowhunting products so chances are we have what you're looking for!

Check out the Video of it here!

 

Mid October Bowhunting & Mock Scrape Update

by Todd Graf 20. October 2009 01:46
Todd Graf

Well guys, it's October 20th and we all know what that means!  The rut is just around the corner and those few precious weeks we wait for all year are almost upon us.  I hope you're all ready for what lays ahead of us!  Of course if you're looking to stock up on some last-minute gear in time for November remember we have over 14,000 bowhunting products in our online shopping cart so chances are we have what you need.

The past few weeks I've been spending quite a bit of time trying to learn my new properties and find out just how the deer are using the food plots I worked so hard on this summer.  I've seen a lot of deer movement during the daytime, which is very encouraging.   However, the bigger bucks seem to be laying pretty low still.  From what I've seen so far I've been able to readjust a few of my stands in preparation for the rut, which I'm hoping is going to really pay off with a nice buck.


Daytime action on opening day in one of my food plots.  Very encouraging!

/
It's always nice to see your hard work pay off.

Last weekend I was able to harvest a nice doe on film, but unfortunately I didn't have a cameraman with me or my camera light so I didn't get any of the recovery on tape.  I put a perfect shot on her and my NAP BloodRunner really did a heck of a job.  She went down just out of sight and I was able to recover her without a problem.  If this had been a big buck I definitely would've worked a little harder on the footage, but I figured this would have to do for now.  I'll make sure I'm ready when primetime comes!  Check out the video below for the shot, and some really cool footage of a few bucks and does feeding in my brassica plot.

My mock scrape is really starting to see some action as well.  You may have read my post here on creating the scrape, and it sure didn't take long for the local bucks and does to find it and start using it.  I'm hoping a few of the big boys in the area start hitting it before too much longer so I can show you some of those photos.

Well, it's time to get back at it!  Good luck to everyone, and be sure to check out or online store if you need any last minute supplies!

Fall Food Plots & Mock Scrapes

by Todd Graf 30. September 2009 05:25
Todd Graf

Way back in the spring when I was first putting in my food plots you may remember a small soybean plot I put in at the top of a ridge.  It was in one of my early season treestand hanging videos in our video section.  Well throughout the course of the summer the beans were growing great, but the local deer population (a few does in particular) absolutely destroyed this plot and ate it down to almost nothing.  Being one of my first real food plots that I've planted I was amazed at just how much they ate and how much damage they did!  Knowing that this spot wasn't going to produce much for food come fall I decided to broadcast some brassicas into the bean field and see what happend.  I was pleasantly surprised when they came up and are growing quite well.


My broadcasted brassicas are really coming up quite well.  Much better than even I expected.

Additionally, I went back a week or two later and broadcast some winter wheat into the field as well.  Both the wheat and brassicas will generally germinate without too much soil cover so broadcasting is a pretty effective method for planting them.  It really helped me save this nice hunting plot, and produce enough food to still draw some deer in come October and November.


Broadcasting seed into a spring plot that didn't grow well or has been eaten out can save your hunting come late season.

After reading Justin's blog post about creating some mock scrapes I figured I'd give it a try as well, so I called up my friend Sam Collora at Mrs. Doe Pee for some advice.  Sam sent me some mock scrape scent to try out and I'm anxious to see how it's going to work.  Sam has an interesting method for preparing his mock scrapes which involves putting wax paper down underneath the soil to help hold the scent in and prevent it from leaching out when it rains.  I have to admit, it's a pretty good idea and Sam is an expert when it comes to how whitetails use scent to communicate.

Here are the instructions that Sam sent over.  Try them out if you're interested in creating a mock scrape of your own!

"We recommend you start early to mid August building continuous scrapes, so they will be open and active by September when the bucks rub out of velvet.  This is a very productive time for continuous scrapes.  The buck's hormone levels are peaking, shutting down antler production, telling the buck to shed their velvet.  This testosterone surge is also getting them started int eh sparing mode, figuring out their pecking order and establishing dominance.  This is the same time perdio their bachelor groups start breaking down.  They will soon be making their own scrapes, marking the territory they have claimed as their own.

Start your scrape with finding a location.  Tery to set the scrape in an ara that has a history of scrape activity or is conducive to deer movement.  Set it up where the prevelant autumn winds will be favorable.  Pick a spot with an overhanging limb (licking branch).  Be sure you can set up a treestand or ground blind near or on a travel route to or from the scrape. 


The spot I chose for my scrape didn't have a good overhanging limb, so I used some rope to tie a limb down that would work.  Then I clared my spot and started to dig my hole.

After locating your scrape site, start by clearing a 2 foot area clear of leaves, grass, and other debris.  In the center of teh scrape dig out a bowl shaped area 6 to 8 inches deep and approximately 12 inches across.  GBring along a piece of wax paper large enough to cover the hole.  Crumple the wax paper then straighten in back out and line the inside of the dirt bowl.  Then fill the liner back in with dirt.  This acts as a waterproof liner to hold the scent even if it rains.  Keep in mind this should all be done while wearing rubber boots and gloves if possible.  You want to leave as little human scent behind as you can.


Adding wax paper to your scrape helps keep the scent contained even if it rains.

Finish the scrape off by adding lure directly to the center of the scrape.  Use 1-2 ounces per application.  Repeat every 5-10 days depending on your circumstances.  If you keep your scrape active throughout the entire season, will will continue to draw bucks.  Good luck and good hunting!"


Finish it off with yoru favorite scrape scent and you're ready to go!


I spotted this doe while out creating my scrape.  She must've known it was still September because she didn't seem too worried about me!

Here's a few great scrape making products that you can try out if you're interested in starting your own mock scrapes.

Tinks Power Scrape Starter

Code Blue Scrape Mate

Active Scrape




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