Archive for the ‘Scouting’ Category

I spent an hour or so somewhat shed hunting – I say ‘somewhat,’ because where I was shed hunting, I couldn’t actually pick the sheds up and bring them home.  That’s OK, I just wanted to FIND them more than have them.  I was looking in the area I spotted this buck last November:

aaa

I didn’t find any sheds, but I’m pretty sure I spotted him sneaking away from a patch of woods I was walking through, I couldn’t get a decent look at him, but the body language, low and steady, but still fast, with no tail flagging, just made me think that it was a mature, confident buck, just sneaking out of his patch.

I found multiple tree stands, in an area where there shouldn’t be any tree stands, and game trails that looked like the trails you find in a pasture that has been used for dairy cows for decades.

It was a fun walk, the area was much more open than the photos I took in November would lead one to believe.

10pt_7

I may head back, and hopefully this time, I’ll remember my camera.

Yeah, no. Just no.  The wife and I took a drive up to John’s Mountain yesterday, specifically past the shooting range, which was packed as usual, and drove up through that section.  The WMA road at that point hits a ‘T’ intersection that dead ends in both directions, but Danny and I drove it in January and spotted some decent deer sign at the time, so I wanted to peek around during the summer.

It rained off and on yesterday in that part of Georgia, which simply turned it into a sauna. When I did get out of the truck, it was like having five layers of steamed wool blankets dropped on my head.  Between the heat, and the dense foliage, all we managed to see was some deer at Berry College as we drove by, and my favorite tree.

Johns_mountain_troll_tree

My hat is off to folks who can scout when it’s 95′ with over 60% humidity.  I can do it, but without a specific goal in mind, such as ‘I know a piece of property very well, I just need to check traffic patterns, or a trail camera, at THIS spot,’ I’m not going to randomly wander about and sweat without a reason.

Hopefully, we’ll get a few cooler days in the weeks ahead, where I can get into out into the woods without doing a Frosty impersonation.

Click to view my Twitter profile

Click to view my Twitter profile

I spend a lot of time lurking on Twitter and FaceBook.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m almost always doing other things too, I just keep the feed running and try to spot photos and key words that I’m interested in. (For me, that’s anything related to: hunting, fishing, archery, firearms, physics, climatology, astronomy, history, the film industry, books, and cooking. Yeah, I stay busy.)  One of the repeated themes I’ve seen, year after year, is the ‘countdown to hunting season!’  I even have a widget here on the page that I sometimes use to count down to the next shoot, or Turkey season, Deer season, etc.

It occurred to me the other day that this isn’t really the right mindset.  I was reading something  Mark posted over at Wired to Hunt , and shortly after that I saw somebody post how many days until the start of season, and I thought ‘wait, that isn’t right, we’ve got so much to do between now and then to get ready for season, it’s like season never ends.’   That’s when I decided I was going to make a list of things that needed done, by month, to get ready for the HARVEST season.  You see, we can scout, plant food plots or keep feeders full, place and move trail cameras, etc. all year long (depending on your state, or your location in the state, some places feeders are illegal, etc. CHECK YOUR LOCAL REGULATIONS) so we’ve moved from being seasonal hunters to a more farm-like mindset.  End of season scouting tells us how the ‘livestock’ have fared, collecting sheds gives us an idea of the local population of bucks, planting food plots or feeding through the winter helps the herd survive, practicing our shooting skills through the spring with 3D shoots, etc.

So, while not finished, here are my monthly thoughts on ‘what to do through the year.’  Keep in mind I don’t HAVE a piece of property to put a food plot on, at this point I am hunting on public land almost entirely.  Also keep in mind that I shoot 3D both as a pro-staffer for Hips Archery Targets and as a Gable Sporting Goods staff shooter, so nine months of the year, ‘shoot 3D tournaments’ is on the list.  Also, this isn’t a comprehensive list, I thought of this yesterday, and literally made decisions on what goes on the list as I sit here in front of my computer.  I’m sure I’ve left things off, and keep in mind that this is MY list. If you have hunting property, you’ll need to add in working on food plots, or moving stands, etc.  I don’t have a need for those items, because I have to pull my stand out every night on public land.

January:

  • End of season, look at trails and consider needs for the coming year in terms of gear and property.
  • Look at the gear I have, make repairs and decisions on replace or discard various damaged pieces of equipment.
  • Watch for clearance gear from various sources (including social media.)
  • Reset bow for 3D tournaments, shoot 3D tournaments

February:

  • Archery 3D season picks up, practice form and shot sequence, continue to shoot 3D tournaments
  • Scout local Wildlife Management Areas while small game hunting. (DID NOT DO, meant to, just didn’t get out and do it.)
  • Shed hunt local Wildlife Management Areas.

March:

  • Continue to shed hunt
  • Continue to shoot 3D tournaments
  • Talk to various people regarding finding hog, turkey, and deer hunting opportunities
  • Turkey season starts, note down deer and hog sign while turkey hunting

April:

  • Continue to shoot 3D tournaments
  • Evaluate my firearms – are there any that I can sell or trade, do I need to purchase more ammunition
  • Be aware of deer and/or hog sign while turkey hunting*
  • Continue to look for property
  • Fishing for stripers on Lake Allatoona
  • Continue to hunt turkey and make notes

May:

  • Continue to shoot 3D tournaments
  • More fishing
  • Continue to look for property
  • Plan trail cam use for summer, write down a plan
  • Turkey season ends, check notes for possible trail cam locations

June:

  • Scout local Wildlife Management Areas and check turkey hunting notes for likely trail cam use
  • Continue to shoot 3D tournaments
  • Place trail cam (I am very leery of this on a WMA, I have ONE trail cam, and I don’t want to have it stolen.)
  • Double check climbing harness and climbing stand for damage.
  • Make tentative plans for using vacation in the fall
  • Apply for quota hunts with the Georgia DNR
  • Make a calendar of important dates for various seasons and hunts on public land

July:

  • Check trail cam, move if warranted.
  • Continue to shoot 3D tournaments, shoot the state championship
  • Scout more Wildlife Management Areas, talk to rangers if possible.
  • Continue to look for hunting property
  • Check firearms for accuracy, sight in again if needed, double check ammunition
  • Discuss hunting trips with my hunting friends

August:

  • Check trail cam, move if warranted.
  • Small game season starts, leverage small game hunting to scout for big game
  • Make plans for the opening of archery season
  • Firm up vacation plans for hunting season
  • Check supply of scent free products
  • Set up hunting bow, shoot season-prep tournaments

September:

  • Archery season starts
  • Continue to scout for firearm season while hunting
  • Continue to look for property
  • Re-examine gear to determine if any changes are needed
  • Check trail cam, move if warranted
  • Note acorn development, discuss with other hunters

October:

  • Continue to bowhunt
  • Note down any turkey sign or encounters for spring turkey season
  • Check trail cam, move if warranted
  • Take notes of any hog sign
  • Take notes of rub lines or long distance deer sightings

November:

  • Check notes so far for the year, try to develop doe patterns for the rut
  • Check trail cam, move if warranted.
  • Take notes on movement, look for the beginning of the rut.
  • Note down any turkey sign or encounters for spring turkey season
  • Hunt the rut.

December:

  • Hunt the end of the rut and post-rut
  • Check trail cam, pull it after the last day of hunting
  • Note down any turkey sign or encounters for spring turkey season
  • Examine notes and list from the year, make changes if needed for the next year.

 

This also isn’t meant to be some obsessive/compulsive “Oh, DARN, I forgot to do X!” list, it just breaks down what I would (or should) do for the months.  For example, EVERY YEAR I say I’m going to small game hunt through February, to scout, shed hunt, and put some squirrels in the freezer.  I never do. Ever.  Because 3D season is in full swing, and if I’m not at a 3D shoot, I’m planning to run one, practicing for the next one, or saying ‘Screw it, it’s raining, I’m going to watch The Avengers again!’  I’m just glad nobody’s grading me on it. 🙂

This squirrel approves

This squirrel approves

I wandered over to the archery shoot property today to determine if we needed to mow or do any major work on the range before setting up for our first shoot of 2014, which is next Saturday, the 15th.  Last year, around March, we set up a shoot that used the edges of the woods and some of the clumps of trees along the powerline, more of a ‘wood and meadow’ shoot than our usual ‘full woods, Augusta-style’ setup, and we found two sheds, both left sides, both 4 points, while setting up.  So, after walking the course and deciding that we only needed some minor trim work done, I drove over to that side, parked the truck, and looked around for half an hour.

I’m glad I did, because I found this:

323_shed_feb8_14

From Field & Stream online.

Article by Scott Bestul. Uploaded on April 19, 2013

www.fieldandstream

It seems like one of deer hunting’s great mysteries: Some guys pick up shed antlers like a kid collecting quarry stones, while others can’t find bone on a bet. Actually there’s no great secret, and only a little luck, involved. Highly successful shed hunters find more antlers because they spend more time at it, they cover more ground, and they have developed a specific set of skills. We can’t help you with the walking, but here are 10 tips and tricks that will get your skill set on a par with the shed-magnet guys.

Skill 1: Find the Food
Late-winter bucks are all about keeping their bellies full. So you need to find the top food sources in your grounds that are drawing in deer. In farm country, nothing tops standing crops like corn or soybeans, but even picked (though not plowed) fields of the same will hold deer unless the snow is too deep. In the big woods, focus on clear cuts and hard mast (if it’s available). The best shed hunters will tell you that a buck’s antlers are never far from his groceries.

Skill 2: Go to Beds 
It’s just as important to find winter bedding areas that offer both security cover and thermal protection. South-facing slopes are the ticket in cold climates because they allow deer to soak up a little warmth from the sun, which also keeps snow depths down for wintering deer. it’s also the first bare ground that will be revealed when the snow melts and where you might spot the first shed of the spring.

Skill 3: Scout the Drop 
Timing is everything in shed hunting. You want to find bone soon after it drops, before mice, porcupines, and other hunters get their turn. If you can glass food sources from a distance, you’ll know when the majority of bucks have dropped their antlers. Otherwise, visit prime food sources at midday, hang scouting cameras, and check your cards weekly. When your pics reveal a bunch of antlerless bucks, it’s time to hit the woods.

shedantler

Click to go to Field and Stream for the rest of the article

Found on Hunting TV’s YouTube channel

 

Ok!  Back from Joe Kurz Wildlife Management Area  and I had a blast. It always cracks me up when I camp out, particularly these days, when I tend to obsess over things like eyeglass cleaners, decongestant, salt and pepper, etc. and then forget something big.

Like, oh, a pillow and sleeping bag. 

Yep, I’ve been camping since the early 1970’s – in Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia.  I was in the Boy Scouts of America for years, and helped as a camp employee one summer, and as an assistant Scout Leader for a while, and I forgot to take a sleeping bag.

One thing to remember, if you read this and aren’t local to Atlanta, is that this time of year, most of the people out camping aren’t worried in the slightest about being COLD.  Honestly, I could have slept in a pair of gym shorts on TOP of a picnic table if it wasn’t for the bugs and the rain.  It’s WARM, so heat isn’t the reason for taking one, its more like an additional layer of padding between me and the ground (I use interlocking shop floor pads in my tent, nice and soft), and someplace to stick my toes in the middle of the night.  But STILL, I forgot the darn thing…  Luckily, the only thing more common than Dollar General stores in that area are mosquitoes.   I picked up a low-cost pillow, pillow case and blanket and those worked just fine.

The original plan was for myself and my buddy Danny (mentioned before, usually during hijinks) to spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday down there, but due to a broken water line, he couldn’t make it.  I sent a text to Clay and he let me know that Jim was going to be down there for the weekend, so it turned into Team Bifocals all the way!*

We scouted a bit Friday afternoon, then decided where to hunt and got our gear together.  We hunted the same spot Friday night and Saturday morning, but we knew that storms were rolling in, so we had to skip Saturday afternoon. (I don’t like sitting halfway up a tree, holding a lightning rod while wet and standing on a metal platform if thunderstorms are coming in, silly me…)  Instead, we hung out at the Ranger station chatting with a good ol’ boy from the DNR (I could listen to his Cajun accent all day) and two state DNR rangers, while I made some coffee and soup.

This morning we put our stands in a new location, and around 8:30, Jim sent a text that he had hit a doe and watched her go down.  I asked him if he needed any help and he said ‘no,’ but I decided at that point that if I didn’t see anything, I would come down around 10 a.m. since I drove and he didn’t have keys to the truck. This was Jim’s first kill with his Bowtech Experience, and he loves it!

I timed it just right, he had only been back to the truck for maybe five minutes when I got there.  We loaded the doe up, recorded the kill at the WMA check-in board, and field processed the doe right there so Jim could fit her in a cooler full of ice for the trip home.

Then we went back to camp, cleaned up, packed up, and we both headed home.  I was going to hunt the evening, but it would have put me home around 11pm if all went well, and well after that if I killed a deer, not to mention the whole safety aspect, so I decided to be safe and come home. And take a shower. And spray the mud off o’ my truck, etc. etc.

Enjoy the photographs 🙂  If you have any questions, visit the FaceBook page and ask me!

*(At a cookout after 3D season this year, somebody mentioned that they were letting all of their staff shooters go and starting a new, six-person shooting team named “Team *store name!*” Jim and I both wear bifocals (get off mah lawn!), so I suggested we call ourselves “Team Bifocals!” and so far the name works for us! 🙂 )

Open Season TV shared this on FaceBook this morning – and honestly, I think it’s a damn good idea for folks to know this information, since a lot of you are in the woods or will BE in the woods soon.

Click the image for more information on venomous spiders in America.

Click the image for more information on venomous spiders in America.

With archery season just over three weeks away at this point, it’s time to get your cover and attractant scents while you can. Big Deer Hunter’s  product is on the shelves at Gable Sporting Goods now.  I plan on stocking up while I still can, particularly the stick scents (both types), acorn soap and cover scent.

Click to go to Big Deer Hunter's website.

Click to go to Big Deer Hunter’s website.

From Bowhunter.com

by C. J. Winand • June 6, 2013

From Bowhunter.com - click to visit original post

From Bowhunter.com – click to visit original post

Are predators such as coyotes negatively affecting our deer herds? In an article in the February 1999 issue of a well-known hunting magazine, a wildlife biologist wrote, “The answer is generally no, but it all depends. The positive and negative impacts of coyotes on our deer herds in the East are poorly understood. More research is needed. The origin of the coyote’s establishment in the East is still a matter of speculation.”

Does this quote tell us anything? I don’t think so. This guy should have been a politician. Why would I say that about someone? Because that quote was from me!

Deer in the West learned to live with coyotes for eons. Granted, there are always peaks and valleys in predator-prey relationships, but deer that possessed the instincts to avoid predators passed their survival traits onto their young. This is important because it increased fawn survival when populations were at a low point. In other words, the does that are better “hiders” of their fawns are the key to re-establishing a population.

But, what happens to the deer in the East that have never lived with coyotes? Dr. Michael Chamberlain, a wildlife professor at the University of Georgia, says, “It’s important to understand that deer in most areas east of the Mississippi River have had to deal with coyotes only recently. Their expansion has been extremely rapid relative to range expansion in other mammals, particularly larger mammals.

As gray and red wolves disappeared from the Northeast and Southeast, coyotes began their eastward expansion, which drastically accelerated during the 1970s and 1980s. By the 1990s, coyotes had reached the East Coast and now are ubiquitous throughout the Eastern U.S.”

Theories suggest that the present-day Eastern coyote is most likely a cross with gray wolves that dispersed across Canada into the Eastern U.S. and/or the red wolf that was found in the Southeast.

Hybridization between coyotes and wolves may also explain why coyotes are in every state east of the Mississippi River. This makes sense when you consider the extensive predator removal that occurred during the previous two centuries. With declining predator populations, breeding with each other may have been the only option. Nowadays, many of these hybrids have backcrossed with coyotes.

Recent genetic studies lean toward crossbreeding with wolves as the most likely reason coyotes are larger in the East than in the West. We also know coyotes in the East are completely different than their Western cousins. We also know coyotes will breed with dogs. Interestingly, research has proven that crosses between coyotes and dogs, or “coydogs,” only survive a generation or two. Whatever the current day makeup of coyotes in the East, one thing is certain: Almost nothing we thought we knew about coyotes in the West pertains to those in the East.

Read more at Bowhunter.com