CRITICAL: You MUST choose each moment wisely…

As I know oh-so-well from 45 years of trophy hunting, every day you’re forced to make tough choices about what to spend your time on in order to improve your own personal odds for success.

The key question is simple: “What should I be doing right now?!”

Every day you need to ask this core question.

Every day you need to choose how you spend your time prudently and wisely.

Today, November 15th the rut peaks in most northern states. Do you continue to carry on trying to harvest bucks in the same old way you’ve been doing year after year… with the same predictable results?

Or do you instead invest a few dollars and a little time to learn how you can finally UNLEASH your latent talents and skills… leverage them in a way that’s integral to your hunting success… finally giving yourself the critical tools needed to harvest the buck of your dreams?

It’s up to you.

Get your copy of my book; BUCK NAKED today.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Scouting is Lifeblood

Photo courtesy Apple Creek Whitetails

A brief summary. Scouting is lifeblood. If you are overly reliant on any one location or method for your hunting…. If you have an insufficient or unsteady method for scouting good bucks….if you lack a well-organized, complete system for understanding, implementing, or following up on your scouting…
….you are on very thin ice.
I’ve been at this for about 45 years. About as long as many reading this have been walking the earth. Four and a half decades. I am – today, this moment – well respected and sought out for hunting advice across the nation. My reach has been and is broad and deep. In all these years, I have never once seen a hunter achieve consistent success without proper scouting.

Learn the fast track method for scouting in my book,

    Buck Naked: The Straght Dope on Trophy Whitetails.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Become a more Successful Hunter

The Single Easiest Way to Become a more Successful Hunter

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you knew the single easiest way to become a successful trophy hunter?

Now you can…I’m finally going to show you the single greatest way for you to become a super successful whitetail hunter.

I’ve created Buck Naked; The Straight Dope on Trophy Whitetails to teach you the simple and easy-to-learn ways to get everything you want out deer hunting.

Get on the road to success and start harvesting the bucks you’ve always dreamed of.
Best Regards,
Order Today

They Only Come Out at Night

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails

“A good deer hunter hunts where the buck is. A great deer hunter hunts where the buck is going to be.”
As night begins to fall, the coyotes howl, the owls hoot and the deer begin to move. Have you ever wondered what is really out there in the dark?

Every trophy hunter owes it to himself to go out and do a little late night surveillance and reconnaissance. It’s a whole different world at night. There is an abundance of wildlife out at night. Animals rarely seen during the day come out into the open under the cover of darkness. It will be a real awakening for you. You’ll see things that you never knew existed.

While most animals that are thought of as nocturnal are in fact crepuscular. Crepuscular animals are most active during twilight: both at dawn and dusk. Dogs, cats, rabbits, bears, and deer are considered crepuscular animals. This makes complete sense. Deer feed most heavily a few hours after sunset and again right before dawn and are most commonly seen at those times.

Anyone who seriously scouts bucks goes at dawn and dusk.

Scientists believe that deer are more active at twilight and night to reduce their risk of predation. They are able to protect themselves as well as their offspring better due to this pattern of activity.

Nocturnal and crepuscular animals have highly developed senses. Their sense of hearing, sight and smell are specially adapted, to make the most of night-illumination. Deer have vision that is easily adapted to both night and day illumination. They have large pupils and a large amount of “rods” in their eyes to help them see in the dark. With a white membrane, the tapetum, in the back of their eyes to reflects light back to their retinas, deer are perfectly adapted to a nocturnal lifestyle.

Generally speaking, deer also benefit from scents that linger in the air longer at night. Since the air is still, it becomes easier for the deer to pick up and track scents, and to find food.

Sounds are more acute at night and deers extra powerful sense of hearing allows it to better determine the distance and direction of a noise.

Years ago I had a small farm at the base of the Selkirk Mountains. I borrowed a tractor from a neighbor and planted the pastures in deer feed. Every evening we would have a dozen or more does and a couple of smaller bucks come into the pastures to feed. After several months I thought I knew every deer on the property.

On day, just for giggles, I moved the spot light showing on our driveway and pointed it out into the pasture. A couple of hours after dark I happened to look out at the pasture. The big bucks were just starting to come in. And when I say big bucks, I mean big bucks. In total 14 bucks came in that night, of which, 9 were in the 130″ to 150″ class. I had only seen one of these bucks before and I had lived at that farm for 5 years.

While deer may be crepuscular, I can tell you big bucks are nearly totally nocturnal. It’s true, they only come out at night.

I’ve spent countless nights driving around with a spot light and I’ve seen literally hundreds of bucks I wouldn’t have ever seen otherwise. They are every where. From inside the city limits to remote alfalfa fields.

Nowadays most hunters rely on trail cameras to do their scouting for them. One drawback to these cameras is that the deer has to move within 10 to 15 yards of the front of the camera in order to get it’s picture taken. This leaves a lot of uncovered area. The other drawback is the vast majority of bucks captured on film are at night. This does us little good. We need to know where the deer is at during the day.

The question has always been: “Does spot lighting bucks really improve you odds at successfully harvesting a big buck? ”

Sadly, the answer is: “No.” But it’s a lot of fun.

95% of these bucks I saw at night were unhuntable. Either I couldn’t get permission from the land owner or more likely the wind thermals didn’t allow a set-up. The biggest benefit from spot lighting is the confidence gained in knowing a monster is in the area. It’s a lot easier to stay in the field all day when you know Mr. Big is close.

A great hunter hunts where the bucks are going to be. Knowing where the buck was the night before gives us some indication as to where he will be come day light. He should be within a mile. That’s a big area. But at least it’s a starting point.

Regardless, just seeing those bucks is reward enough.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

The Rut

Photo courtsey of Apple Creek Whitetails

Predicting the rut is one of the hottest topics in whitetail hunting. You don’t need a crystal ball, tea leaves, or chicken bones to predict it. To accurately predict the breeding season we must first understand the why’s, where’s, what’s, and when’s of the rut. After that it’s a simple matter of math. As much fun as rolling the chicken bones might be, it probably won’t get you any closer to predicting the rut.

Even though the rut is the best time to harvest big bucks, the breeding season is truly all about the does. The rut serves one purpose: to perpetuate the species. To best understand the breeding season, we must look back through the eons of time and see the myriad natural factors that affect it.

The Evolution of the Rut

The Weather Factor
The last Ice Age occurred ten thousand years ago. Due to the severity of winter across most of North America, the deer had to adapt to a narrow fawning window of about two weeks each spring. Fawns had to be born late enough so their mothers could recover enough strength to nurse them. Yet, they needed to be born early enough to be able to gain sufficient body weight in order to survive the coming winter.

As deer evolved, Mother Nature played an important role in the timing of the deer breeding season. Survival of the species depended on a proper season of rutting.

Because of the severe energetic costs of lactation, the birth of fawns is typically correlated to the availability of highly nutritious forage.

For the first few days after birth, fawns nurse two or three times during daylight hours. Nursing becomes less frequent as the fawns begin to forage, and stops altogether after about four months.

The Predator Factor
In ancient times, predators were far more abundant than they are today. Predators limited deer populations. Fawns are exceptionally vulnerable to predators. Several years ago I came across a coyote den and found a dozen fawn hoofs in front of the opening.

Mother Nature’s response is to have as many fawns hitting the ground at the same time as possible. This further narrows the birthing window to about four days in late May or early June. An abundant food supply makes it virtually impossible for predators to wipe out the deer.

The size of the doe is another contributing factor in determining the rut’s timing. The average weight of a mature doe in the northwest and northeastern United States is about 135 pounds. In the Midwest, deer are a little bigger, averaging about 150 pounds. In the Deep South they’ll go maybe a hundred pounds. Size affects gestation periods. Midwest deer will have a gestation period of 200 to 210 days, while southern deer often give birth after only 190 days.

The average gestation period for a whitetail doe is two hundred days. All we have to do is to subtract two hundred days from the day the fawns are born and we’ll have a good idea of when the breeding occurred.

Most fawns are born in the last few days of May and the first few days of June. In my neck of the woods, the fawns are generally born between June 2 and June 4. That puts the breeding around November 15.

Most hunters are confused about when the actual breeding takes place, because the deer generally are not visible. Most of the rutting activity occurs at night. When breeding is going on, bucks and does are often paired and remain in some secluded sanctuary.

The best time to see big bucks is immediately prior to, and after, the majority of the breeding has taken place. A doe will only be in estrus for around twenty-four hours. After inseminating a doe, the buck will be on the move to find another receptive female. He usually doesn’t have to travel far. After the rut, when the bucks are looking for one last chance at “love,” they are most visible and vulnerable.

“The rut is late again.” I hear this complaint at least every other year, but strangely the fawns are born at the exact same time each spring. Just as sure as the sun rises, the rut must go on.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

The Button Hook and Scrape Hunting

This blog is a sequel to my post of 8 –19–2012 entitled Button Hookin’ Bucks. (Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails)

Regardless of which strategy, technique, and the time of the year you hunt wind direction is always a hunters major concern. When it comes to hunting trophy deer it’s not how we use the wind that is important, but rather, how the buck uses the wind.

Most hunters place their stands downwind of where they expect to intercept a big buck. They do this with little regard to how the deer actually use the wind as a defense mechanism.

Big bucks approach every destination spot by traveling in a button hook or J–hook pattern. A big buck will circle down wind and use his nose to detect danger before he approaches a food plot, a bedding area, a ground scrape, or when coming to grunt calls and antler rattling. Big bucks employee this button hook pattern so regularly it must be considered an instinctual or innate behavior. Regardless of where you hunt I can guarantee you every buck over 1-1/2 years old is continuously using the button hook pattern of travel.

We discussed how a big buck uses the button hook pattern when selecting a bedding site. Today we will be discussing how the big buck uses the button hook to scent check ground scrapes.

First of all, not all ground scrapes are equal. We must first determine whether the scrape is a primary scrape or a casual scrape. Remember, primary scrapes are those that are used by several bucks.

Next, we must determine whether the buck is refreshing the primary scrape at night or during the day. Unfortunately, most scrapes noticed by hunters are the ones which are freshened at night. These scrapes are usually found close to or on the edge of a known food source. Generally speaking, if the prevailing wind in your area does not allow the buck enough cover to scent check the scrape downwind at a distance of 75 to 125 yards, it is a nocturnal scrape and of little use to the hunter.

Since the deer are most active at night, this eliminates roughly 90% of the scrapes you will find. We are looking for a scrape in heavy cover which allows the buck enough security to check it throughout the day. When you find such a scrape, be rest assured that the buck will attempt to check it some time during the day.

The problem most hunters have is they either select the wrong scrape or set their stand too close to the right scrape. A big buck will always circle downwind of the scrape before he attempts to freshen it. We want to place our stand as close to the buck’s scent checking trail as possible and NOT right on top the scrape. Usually this trail will be between 75 and 125 yards downwind of the scrape.

Often you will find a small rub or a token scrape ( one that is little more than a couple of hoof pulls in the sod} to indicate where this trail is. Note: this trail is very faint and hardly noticeable.

I like to place my stand slightly downwind of that trail making sure I have a path to approach the stand without fouling the entire area with my own scent.

All that’s left is to have patience and the faith that the buck will come.

For more detailed information on proper scrape hunting: Order a copy of Buck Naked today.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

How Do You Scout Deer?

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails

One of the questions I get asked most often is “How can I harvest more big bucks without working so hard?”

Of all the skills you can learn to be more successful, scouting is by far the single most valuable skill you could ever master.

Although it seems a daunting task, scouting is one of the easiest and fastest skills to master. It’s also one of the most misunderstood skills.

When most people think scouting, they imagine countless hours of glassing and days spent scouring the woods.

In fact, if you are a hunter or thinking about becoming one, you will need to develop your scouting skills, and fast. Don’t for even a minute start thinking your hunting style is different and you will never have to do any real scouting.

Your success in hunting will depend directly on your ability to scout deer effectively.

Scouting is the life-blood from which all your hunting dreams and goals are accomplished. So how can you learn to scout better without working so hard at it?

Thank you for reading. I’m fully dedicated to bringing you the best information available as we travel the road to hunting success together.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,