Archive for the ‘Tips and Tricks’ Category

Well, Saturday the 14th I decided that after thirty years, it was time to go squirrel hunting again.  I’ve supposedly been out squirrel hunting twice in the last few years, but both times were simply deer scouting trips, with the thought that if a squirrel was stupid enough to still scamper around with my giant frame wandering through the woods, I’d take a shot.

I drove out to Paulding Forest WMA in the morning, and the radio station (97.1 ‘The River’) was just perfect. Too perfect, I missed stopping at the WMA kiosk for a map and double check of the rules, and if I needed to sign in or not.   I turned around at the county line and drove back the six or seven miles, then headed towards decent squirrel woods. I must need to get up earlier on Saturdays, because every spot to pull over and park near decent big timber had a truck already there, so I drove on to Supper Club Road, where I know I can park at the gate and walk in. (This is where Danny and I killed a timber rattler a few years ago.  Needless to say, I kept my eyes WIDE open walking into the woods.)

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Closeup of the rattlesnake’s head

As soon as I parked, my wife sent me a text asking if I wanted to go on a hike today. Well, yeah, it’s going to be 70′ in January, of course I want to hike.   So I told her I’d poke around Paulding for about an hour and head back.  I wandered into the WMA for about half a mile, until I could find a decent log to sit on with a good view of a hillside, and sat down to see if any squirrels decided to come out and play.  After half an hour or so, I hadn’t even seen or heard a bird, so I wandered back to the truck and cruised the forty miles or so back to the house to pick the wife up and head to Arabia Mountain. (Half an hour isn’t very long to sit in a squirrel wood, but the wife was waiting, so off I went.)The trail head (at least the one we parked at) is roughly forty miles in the other direction, East of the house, and with typical Atlanta traffic, it took about an hour to get there.

And it was packed.  No shock, really, the good weather had a lot of people headed to their version of nature.   I say ‘their version of nature’ because my idea of a nature hike doesn’t have eight foot wide paved hiking walkways, but to each their own.  We walked the mile long trail across the top of the old granite quarry, then headed further down the paved trail towards Panola Mountain, but it wasn’t long before the pavement started bothering us, and we turned around, for a total of roughly four miles, but we did enjoy the granite part of the hike.  My wife took one photo of me standing near what had to be the quarry office, but I’ll spare you the ‘shaved sasquatch’ image.

After that, since we were already east of Atlanta, I decided to head toward Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, because I’ve wanted to go there for a long time, and why not now?  We had a good time on the drive (another 40 miles, that seems to have been the magical distance to everything Saturday) and when we arrived, we were surprised at how nice both the museum and the facilities looked.  I had never questioned the name “Charlie Elliott,” figuring it was either a DNR donor or politician, I was surprised to learn that he was a naturalist and that the museum had rebuilt his study as one of the displays.  I would very much love to have a den like the study Charlie Elliott created for himself.

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So, in one day, I walked Paulding Forest Wildlife Management Area a bit, Davidson-Arabia Mountain trails, and managed to squeeze in a walk through the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center museum.   That’s what I call a good day.

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…as a great way of getting around ‘no motor’ areas that say you must use a paddle….

 

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A friend shared this on FaceBook – from the Ely Chamber of Commerce…..

 

Another Sunday, another hike!  I told the wife and Little Bear that I was hitting the White trail at Sweetwater Creek State Park this morning, even though it was a bit chilly out.   The wife had to work today, and Little Bear had a friend visiting, so I was going to solo the hike.

Great! Five miles of solitude and nature, all to myself!

Or so I thought.

See, the Georgia Ultrarunning and Trailrunning Society had a 30 mile trail race on the White Trail this morning.

30.

Miles. 

So, while I was doing my peaceful, solo, 5 mile hike… I kept getting lapped.  Which was hilarious, because it went from “Good morning!” or “Howdy!”  to “Good morning again!” and “That’s three laps!”  I know several of them lapped me four times.  That’s TWENTY MILES to my five.

My ‘Map My Walk’ fitness app said I walked 5.15 miles for 3,600 calories.  Even if they just WALKED that far instead of, you know, RUNNING it, that would put them at 20,000 plus calories for the event.

I made the decision as soon as I saw the sign at the trailhead that said ‘GUTS: Wrong Way’ to hike against the ‘flow’ of traffic, this let me see them coming and get out of the way, because I take up a lot of trail.

Still, it was a good hike. Not as much of an elevation change as the Yellow trail, but lots of rough terrain.

Here are a few of the photos, including one of the New Manchester Manufacturing ruins, the rest are in THIS ALBUM on the 323 Archery FaceBook page.

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A few months ago, I sold my Savage M110 30-06 to somebody who loves building rifles, he wanted a long-action Savage receiver to start a new project, and I wanted a .308.  After reading dozens of reviews and customer comments on various models of rifle, I decided to take a chance on the new Mossberg Patriot .308.

Being something of a geek, I just HAD to get it in Kryptek Highlander Camo, because I very rarely buy a new rifle, and this one was going to be my go-to big game gun for deer, bear and boar for a long time.

Kryptec

Whenever I think about new firearms, I check prices using the Gun Genie at Gallery of Guns, it’s fast, and has inventory levels so I can really see if something is in stock or not without calling fifteen places. It’s also nice that when you purchase a firearm using this service, it’s shipped to the store you picked off of the list, where you finish paying for the firearm and fill out the BATF paperwork just like any other firearm purchase.

Of course, I’m a Gables Sporting Goods staff shooter, so last year when I noticed that Gables wasn’t showing up on a search for my zip code, I asked at the shop, and they called Davidsons and figured out what the problem was, so when it was time to order my Mossberg, that’s the shop I chose to ship to.  Ordering was fairly easy, though the shopping cart system could be improved a bit on the Gallery page, and my shipment arrived in about a week. (I ordered a Taurus PT111 G2 9mm as well, and I have to say, for an economy compact 9mm, it’s very accurate and reliable so far.)

After the rifle arrived, I unpacked it at the shop and the nice folks there mounted my Zeiss Conquest 3-9 x 50mm scope on the rifle. A few people snickered, but I’d rather have a six hundred dollar scope on a three hundred dollar rifle than the other way around.  Because you can have a two THOUSAND dollar rifle, but if you can’t see what your shooting at, you aren’t going to shoot very well.

The one issue I had with the rifle out of the box was the camouflage.  It didn’t look very good, almost like it was dipped/applied by somebody who hadn’t had a good day. I called Mossberg and explained that while I know this is a budget rifle, I paid a bit extra for the Kryptek camouflage, and wanted to know if what I got was normal. They emailed me a prepaid FedEx label and said ‘ship it back, we’ll take care of it.’  And they did, too, about two weeks later I got the rifle back, and they must have searched for the best looking stock they had in the warehouse, because it couldn’t be any better looking.

At that point, with the holidays around the corner, I mounted the scope back on the rifle and stuck it in the safe for a month and a half. Yesterday, we tried to take it to Johns Mountain, but the range was packed, so we skedaddled.

Today, I ran up to Buford, GA, to the Georgia Gun Club.  I’ve never been there before, but they have a 100 yard indoor rifle range, so I thought I’d head that way and sight in the .308 and my .243.

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Now, I’ve been to indoor rifle ranges in several states, but I’ve never been in one as nice as this. I was somewhat expecting an old warehouse that had been re-purposed as a range. I was in one like that in Ohio once that was so run down and  gnarly, I’m surprised there wasn’t a secret password to get in the door. *Psssst! Swordfish!*

Georgia_gun_club_insideThis was a VERY nice building, with plenty of parking.  The interior was very clean and open, with room to walk around and a nice lounge area for people waiting on a lane to open up. The web site had mentioned that waiting on lanes was normal, so I took my tablet with me, since that’s my portable patience generator, and signed in.  The process is simple for a first-time customer. You fill out a waiver with general safety and legal statements (not unusual, you have to do that at archery shoots anymore once per year as well), then watch a National Shooting Sports Foundation seven or eight minute long Range Safety video and initial that you’ve watched it, and then you wait.


I wish I took more photos – I forgot my camera, and once you’re in the range, you are on the clock for however many hours you purchased, and I wasn’t thinking about writing this post, I wanted to get the rifles sighted in.  The range was good – easy to use electronic target controls, range master in the room with you. The only thing I could complain about is my own fault – I took two rifle cases and my range bag, so navigating all of the doors was hectic, since I had zero hands to use getting through the place.

The staff were fantastic.  I will be going back, soon, even though it’s about an hour and fifteen minutes from the house.

The rifles I had with me were the Mossberg Patriot .308, and a Winchester Model 70 Ultimate Shadow Extreme Weather .243.  I love the Winchester, though I wish it was in 7mm-08 (I got it in a trade), and was curious to see how the Mossberg stacked up against a firearm that is almost three times more expensive.

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Image Property of Shooting Illustrated

The Mossberg kicked butt.  The trigger is CRISP. As in ‘activate the Lightning Bolt Action, and start to put pressure on the trigger BOOM’ crisp.  For folks familiar with the Savage Accu-Trigger, the Lightning Bolt Action is similar – a light metal safety in the center of the actual trigger, the rifle cannot fire until the LBA is depressed first.  After nine shots with the Mossberg, I felt like I had to work to get the Winchester to fire, where before, I thought the Winchester had the best trigger of all of my long guns.

I shot Federal Fusion 150 grain, Hornady American Whitetail 165 grain, and Winchester Hog Special 150 grain ammunition out of the Mossberg. I find it interesting that I can’t find a link to the Hog Special ammunition on Winchester’s web site, making me wonder if they still make it.  I fired three rounds of each, with a few minutes between groups to let the barrel cool down, and honestly, the Winchester group was small enough at 25 yards for me to cover with a single target cover dot – but I’m NOT a professional shooter when it comes to rifles, and as far as I can tell, that could have been because I shot the Winchester ammunition last and had finally gotten used to the rifle.

I finally moved the target to 100 yards and adjusted the sights – the Hog ammunition was about an inch high with a nice group – the Fusion ammunition was about three inches high (higher listed velocity), so I readjusted for the Fusion ammunition and shot a great group, wrapping up my sight in for the day.

I can’t wait to go back to Georgia Gun Club – if I lived half an hour closer, I’d buy a membership in a heartbeat.

From Whitetail Properties

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There are lots of news articles and state agency reports coming out about declining deer populations and harvest rates in several states. Some of these declines are reported in powerhouse deer hunting states like Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and more.

While your hunting skills and luck play a major role in harvesting big bucks, neither will bring back your deer herd to record levels. Simple math and science can speed up the recovery and here’s how you do it.

The 100-acre Example
Let’s say you hunt on 100 acres. And let’s say 20 deer live on your land. Each year on average, you harvest 4 deer. Now you’re at 16. Predators, weather, vehicle accidents, natural causes, etc. average another 5 mortalities. Now you’re at 11 deer. Let’s say 5 of those 11 are bucks and the other 6 are does. When fawning season comes, let’s say 5 of those 6 does have twin fawns – the other doe has no fawn.

5 does + 10 fawns + 1 doe + 5 bucks means you’re back to 21 deer. Near your average.

The scenario above is your average year. It’s not the exact same every year, but it’s close. You are happy with the 4 deer you kill each year and things are going great.

Now, let’s introduce EHD (Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease) to your deer like we saw in widespread, record-setting levels in 2012 and even again in 2013 in some areas.

2012
As usual, you have 20 deer. Like always, you kill 4 and the other factors kill 5. Business as usual. But now, EHD kills FIVE MORE deer including your two mature bucks. Instead of 11 total deer like above, you only have 6 total deer heading into fawning season and 4 are does. They each have twins. Now your property has only 14 deer.

4 does + 8 fawns + 2 bucks = 14 deer

2013
With just 14 deer, you enter the season with about 30% less than your normal deer population. You see fewer deer, have fewer opportunities to harvest deer and you don’t see a mature buck all year. Not knowing any better, you still kill 4 deer, like usual. Coyotes haven’t gone anywhere. Natural causes deaths haven’t gone anywhere. As usual, predators and natural causes kill 5 deer. Plus, EHD happened AGAIN in 2013. Let’s say EHD (not as bad as 2012) gets 2 deer. You started with 14. You killed 4. Predators and natural causes got 5. EHD got 2.

Do the math. You have 3 deer left on your property that usually supports 20.

This sounds awful right? Amazingly, there are hunters facing situations like the one above. There’s good news and bad news.

Good News
White-tailed deer are some of the most resilient creatures in the world. In just a year or two, they have the ability to reproduce quickly. Remember, most does have twin fawns. So deer can repopulate about twice as fast as humans. The other good news is that EHD is a disease that happens in pockets. Your hunting property may have taken a beating, but your neighbors down the road might not even have had a single deer die of EHD. So just because things are bleak on your 100 acres, doesn’t mean your county or region is nearly as bad. And we all know by habitat improvement, you can attract deer from surrounding areas. We’ve been dealing with EHD for years and deer will continue to bounce back as random outbreaks occur.

Read the rest of the article at Whitetail Properties

From the Winchester Blog

By MELISSA BACHMAN |

Click to view the Winchester Blog article

Click to view the Winchester Blog article

I’ll be the first to admit that I usually carry too much gear whether I’m turkey hunting or deer hunting. Over the years, however, I’ve learned having a few essential items in the vest at all times can make a hunt not only more enjoyable, but more successful as well. This is all subjective, but here are the items I can’t live without when hitting the turkey woods each spring.

  1. Predator Call- One item I never leave home without is a predator call. I absolutely love to predator hunt as well, and I can’t count the number of coyotes I’ve spotted while turkey hunting. For this reason, my predator call is never far away and I get just as excited about calling in a coyote as I do a turkey
  2. Permetherin Spray- If there is one thing I can count on throughout the spring turkey season, has to be the presence of ticks. I don’t have much of a problem with snakes or spiders or many other critters, but ticks I hate. In my opinion, they invade my space plus they’re absolutely full of disease. Permethrin_with_BottleThere are many things you can do to try and prevent getting ticks on you, but I’ve found spraying my clothing with Permetherin Spray prior to my hunt is a huge help. The important thing is to just spray your clothes and not get it on your skin, but it is truly amazing how well it works.
  3. LongBeard XR- Winchester has always been known for their innovative products. But with Longbeard XR they truly put their time, effort and research into creating one of the most effective turkey hunting loads on the market. For long range shooting it’s second to none.This is all possible because of the Shot-Lok technology that protects the shot during the in-bore acceleration, which in turn
    gives you tight long-range patterns. For example, at 60-yards you’ll get twice the number of pellets in a 10-inch circle, which makes this one impressive load!

For the rest of the list – visit the Winchester Blog

 

I used to hunt ringneck pheasant with my father when I was young.  Long after I moved to Kirkwood, New York, my dad started to raise German Shorthair Pointers and REALLY hunt pheasants, but other than a few times we went out with his pointers in the early 1990’s, it was always with beagles and a black lab, because that’s what we had back when I was a kid.  I even hunted ruffled grouse a few times with him, which were all over the woods near my house, and across the border in Pennsylvania, which was only three or four miles from where I grew up. (I have never taken a grouse – we literally couldn’t find them during season, we had to wait until deer season for the little heart-attack-makers to pop out of the any clump of debris in the woods right at our feet.)

But I haven’t hunted birds, or even shot clays, for nearly twenty years.

That all changed this Saturday, but it takes a bit of explaining to understand WHY it changed.  I don’t have much of a budget for hunting, we have a lot of rescued pets, and they take up a lot of our budget each month, particularly the allergic-to-the-entire-planet German Shepherd. But, we take care of our pets (all four dogs, three cats, three turtles, two tanks of fish, and the horse) so I make do with what I have in terms of gear and travel for hunting.   I always thought dove hunting was a Southern ‘Gentleman’ sport, and I don’t say it that way to exclude women from the sport, but it always conjured images out of Garden & Gun magazine, of the $3,500 over and under shotguns, with the Orvis or better quality shooting vest and clothes, on big dollar hunting plantations.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThat image went out the window last year while bow hunting at Joe Kurz WMA.  Jimmy* and I, while driving around Lodge road, spotted a truck with two young (think 5-7 years old) boys in it, and the back door open.  We stopped to make sure they were OK, and they said ‘We can’t get the radio to turn off!’  I told them to open and close the FRONT door, which would trigger the auto-shutoff on the radio, and then asked where their dad was.  The smaller boy pointed across the hood of my truck, and we peered through the misting rain and could just make out somebody walking down the road about seventy five yards away.   I pulled the truck over,  and to our surprise, it was James, one of the folks we shoot 3D archery with.  He was dove hunting, and had his son and nephew with him, the boys had just gone back to the truck to get out of the rain.

So, that got me interested in dove hunting: here was somebody I knew who hunted an area I was now familiar with, and didn’t mind me tagging along for a hunt.

This year, that translated into me spending a fairly wild (to me) eight hours at Joe Kurz this opening day, slinging shot and having the time of my life.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe day started off a bit rough. I got out of bed after several attempts, showered and threw my gear in the truck, then started putting my boots on when suddenly my cell phone rang.  Work was calling, they needed me to contact Dell ProSupport and get a server back up.  I spent about an hour and a half getting that rolling, then jumped in the truck and headed south.  There is no direct route from my place to Joe Kurz, the fastest way the GPS takes me is down I20 to 285, then down I85 past Newnan, altogether taking me about an hour and a half to go 65 miles.  The last 23 miles are almost all on two lane, secondary roads, and the last ten miles was spent mostly behind people on bicycles for some kind of event.   This meant slowing down to 5-8 MPH until I could get a long enough line of sight to safely pass the cyclists.  Over, and over, and over again.

I try very hard to be extra safe around anyone on a bike, motorcycle, on foot, or even in areas where there might be children or pets playing near the road, because I have a very vivid imagination, and I’ve been in a lot of situations over the years that have taught me that its far better to think ahead and be safe just in case.  (I think the risk management class in graduate school cemented that into my head, for which I am very grateful.)  I don’t know what kind of cycling event this happened to be, because I didn’t just see the stick-insect-skinny cycling fanatics you see in a typical road race, but folks of all shapes, sizes, and on all kinds of bikes, including a tandem, but they were everywhere, for the last ten or twelve miles of the ride.  So after getting up late, work calling, and the cyclists, I got to Joe Kurz around 11:20 am.  Dove season started at noon, so I signed in, and started looking for James’ son and a buddy of his, since James had said to call him when I found them.

When I pulled up to Lodge Road, the long loop section was marked with ‘road closed’ signs that will be familiar to anyone who has hunted a Georgia Wildlife Management area, and there had to have been thirty or forty trucks parked at the intersection.  I was flabbergasted, thinking ‘Oh, crap, I may not be able to hunt here, I might have to just get the camera out and walk with that all day.’

Luckily, dove hunting translates well into being a team sport.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI found Ron and Logan about half a mile down the right side of Lodge road, where the road turns left to continue the loop, and the dead end lodge driveway starts, sitting under a pine tree.  I had passed probably fifty hunters by the time I found them, because there were a LOT of people in lawn chairs, sitting on buckets, or just standing around, the entire length of the fields, on either side of the road.  One of the hunters HAS to win the ‘genius of the day’ award, because he used a four-wheeled garden cart to bring his cooler and all of his gear down the field, most of the rest of us just hauled our gear in by hand.  I did see one hunter using a deer cart, and some other folks who had, like me, a rolling cooler, but I wasn’t smart enough to bring the cooler, or ALL of my ammunition, on the first walk down the field. Oh no, I had 45 shells in a hip bag and my SKB, my camera, and one bottle of water with me, so I had to immediately go BACK up the field and get my rolling cooler.   Then, four hours later, go back up the field again and get my other five boxes of ammunition.  (We ended up shooting five boxes of ammunition total, and I gave a box to a hunter who ran out.)

I saw a LOT of great ideas for last year, but what really shocked me was just how densely packed the hunters were around and in these fields. The sunflower field we hunted over had hunters lining the pine trees, hunters spaced out in the middle of the field, and hunters along the other edge of the field.  What was surprising was the amount of cooperation that generated: hunters would yell ‘over the top!’ or ‘low bird’ as the doves flew, to keep other hunters from decorating each other with #7 shot, or to let people on the other side of some trees know the doves were coming.

Here are just two snapshots of the hunters along the fields:

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When noon rolled around, for about half a minute, I was sure it was going to be a let-down. Nothing happened. No birds, no immediate storm of distant booms, not a thing happened. For half a minute.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThen the first flight of three doves crested the trees, and the booms weren’t so distant. Within ten minutes, there was gunfire in every direction, and the rain-like sound of shot hitting leaves after running out of energy started while we could see spent wads from shells spiralling down in the air around us. And then a dove managed to fly up the road, weaving around the shotshells, angling towards the field right in front of us, and I drew a bead on it with my SKB and knocked it out of the air with my first shot. I was ecstatic, probably twenty years after the last time I tried to shoot anything in the air with a shotgun, and my first shot was perfect.  “Alright! This is much easier than I thought it would be!” was my first thought.  Being in my mid 40’s, my send thought was a very jaded “yup, now I’ve jinxed it, watch me miss all day now…”   Well, that didn’t happen, but I did go through about nearly four boxes of shells myself and only managed six more doves of my own.   I will say this: some folks will claim every bird they can, regardless of who may or may not have shot it, and other people will go far the other way to be as fair as possible.  We had a mix of both types out there, and at times, I don’t think anyone could have said which shot took a bird down, but the shoot was hot and heavy all day.  Did I say hot?  Close to ninety degrees, with spotty clouds, and probably close to sixty percent humidity, until around five pm, when the thunderstorms hit, and soaked us for three hours straight.

I had a wonderful day, even if I felt twice as old when I got out of bed Sunday morning, creaking like a Spanish galleon in rough seas, but happy nonetheless.  My first day of dove hunting over black sunflowers will stay with me for a long, long time.

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*Jimmy is the other half of what we’ve been calling ‘Team Bifocals,’  since both of us are into our bifocal years and have vision problems.

  I’ve heard all kinds of tall tales of ‘125 yard’ bow kills over the years. Realistically, my range is 30 yards and under for hunting shots, unless it’s a PERFECT shot. -Niko

 

Bowhunting_com_Blog

PJ ReillyPosted by: PJ Reilly on Aug 26, 2014 at Bowhunting.com

“Bad hit!”

I knew it as soon as I released the arrow. The doe was only 20 yards away, but I felt myself pull the bow to the left the instant I touched the release. Not surprisingly, the arrow went left and hit the deer a little far back.

Let’s just call it what it was. A gut shot.

The doe hunched its back when the arrow passed through, then walked away slowly. Hoping for another chance, I quickly nocked another arrow. The doe stayed in some heavy cover, but hit an opening at precisely 53 yards, and turned broadside. I took the shot and sent that second arrow through both lungs. Within seconds, the job was finished.

Fifty-three yards is a good poke with a bow and arrow in the Eastern hardwoods. A lot could have gone wrong. But once my first arrow hit that deer poorly, my usual rules about shooting went out the window. All that mattered was cleaning up the mess I created.

Would I have taken a 53-yard shot with my first arrow?

Maybe.

I have five pins set in 10-yard increments from 20-60 yards on my Spot Hogg Hogg-It sight. And I feel comfortable shooting out to 60 yards. But that’s on the practice range shooting at stationary targets.

The writer shot this Missouri buck at 35 yards without hesitation.

The writer shot this Missouri buck at 35 yards without hesitation.

In a hunting situation, how far is too far?

That’s a loaded question; and the answer certainly is going to vary from bowhunter to bowhunter.

As a general rule, 40 yards is my self-imposed “no-worries” range for hunting whitetails. That means I will take a shot at any whitetail 40 yards and closer without hesitation. I might shoot beyond 40 yards if the conditions are right, but I’m going to put some extra thought into such a shot.

And unless I’m chasing a wounded deer, 60 yards is my absolute maximum, since that’s what my farthest sight pin is set for. If a deer is beyond 60 yards, then it’s too far for me regardless of the circumstances.

Read the rest at Bowhunting.com.

Ok – this one is a bit complicated – I saw this posted on the North American Hunting Club’s FaceBook page, followed the link to Hunting.Scout.com, which led me to the YouTube video from GrowingDeer.tv

 

Here is the video:

 

Realtree

BYWILL BRANTLEY

I’m often amazed at the people, deer hunters included, who tell me they just don’t like venison. That statement is usually followed by a qualifier: it’s tough; it’s gamey; it’s dry. And so on.

I’ve eaten a lot of good deer meat. But I’ve eaten some really bad deer meat, too. I’m only a self-trained butcher, but I process five or six animals each fall, and have been doing so for a decade or more.

I’m no Scott Leysath, either, but my wife and I do eat venison in some form two or three meals per week, year-round. I think we eat pretty good.

Some things consistently make venison really tasty. And some things will ruin the flavor, too. Here are a dozen of the worst offenders.

1. Poor Field Care

In the real world of hunting, things happen. We all make bad shots on occasion. And while we know not to “push” a deer that’s been hit marginally, realize that the longer it takes for the animal to die and the farther it runs, the more adrenaline and lactic acid builds up in the animal’s system and muscles. Ever had a glass of good-tasting acid? I didn’t think so.

The faster a deer hits the ground and can be field-dressed, the better the meat will be. Some of the best-tasting deer I’ve ever had have been shot in the head with a gun. The animal is killed instantly, and the meat is uncontaminated by blood and entrails from the chest cavity. That said, head shots are risky. The lungs remain the best place to aim.

click to go to the full article at Realtree

click to go to the full article at Realtree

2. Failure to Cool Quickly

Internal bacteria rapidly takes over after death, expelling gases and causing the animal to bloat. That’s the first step in decomposition. This process is accelerated in warm weather. Learn how to field dress a deer, and get to it ASAP. Removing those organs is the first step in cooling the animal down.

On a cold night—in the mid-30s or lower—a deer can be left hanging skin-on overnight. In especially cold weather, some hunters like to age a deer in such a manner for several days (more on aging in a bit). I live in a warm climate, and most of the deer I shoot in a season’s time are during early bow season, so I don’t have that luxury. When I find my deer and get it field-dressed, I plan on having it skinned, quartered and on ice within the hour.

3. Shot the Wrong Deer

Modern deer hunters are in tune with deer herd management. We’ve learned of practices that contribute to the health of a herd, including which deer to shoot. Given the chance, most of us want to shoot a mature buck with big antlers. Me included.

Old bucks are perfectly edible, but rarely the best. Muscles get tougher with use and stringy with age. An old buck that’s spent a full autumn fighting, rubbing, scraping and chasing does will be lean. Expect chewy steaks. Same thing goes for an old doe that’s burned all her summertime calories producing milk to nurse fawns. I usually make hamburger, sausage and jerky out of such animals.

For steaks, you can’t beat a young, crop-fed deer. Deer that spend a summer munching on corn and soybeans have an easier life—and more fattening food sources—than those that spend a lifetime wandering the big timber in search of scattered mast and browse.

The tastiest venison I’ve ever eaten came from a 1 ½-year-old fork horn shot through the neck near a picked corn field during early bow season. That young deer had nothing to do all summer except get fat. Am I saying to forgo everything the QDMA is teaching and whack every young buck that walks by? No. But I am saying if a deer for the freezer is your goal, young bucks from the early season are usually good eating, and have more meat than does to boot. If you want to shoot one and it’s legal, go for it. You don’t owe anyone an apology.

 

Read the rest of the tips at Realtree

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As a side note, IF you end up with terrible tasting venison, you can simply BRINE the meat to leach the nastiness out of it, then cook it however you like.   To brine the meat, mix salt, sugar, and water at room temperature, mix until the salt and sugar dissolve, then soak the meat for a few hours to overnight. You can also add in seasonings during the brining to help with the flavor.  – Niko

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Venison backstrap from a gnarly ol’ buck brining in salt, water, and sugar

Venison_jerky

After slicing, marinating in soy, worchestershire and hickory salt, a few hours in the oven produced LOVELY jerky.