It’s the Off-Season

Even though the Whitetail season continues throughout much of the South, for most of us the season is over and we are in the off-season. The long wait for next season has begun, leaving many of us wondering what to do until deer season begins next fall. An excellent way to fight winter doldrums is to hunt coyotes. It’s a great way to hone our hunting skills.

Coyotes are as wary and cagy as any whitetail. I particularly liked to hunt coyotes in the snow. They leave tracks and can be patterned. Successfully hunting coyotes requires the same skills as successfully hunting whitetails. The best way I know to practice whitetail hunting is to hunt coyotes.

* Note: Coyotes spend the better part of daylight hours in cover, just like whitetails. I’ve killed more coyotes in the timber than I ever have in fields.

As a bonus, you can discover a lot of whitetail hunting spots while hunting coyotes.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,
Jim

Four Questions Worth Answering

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails

Where is your next buck? (Specifically, not conceptually. Describe his bedding area, his feeding area, and his travel routes.)

Why is the buck here? (What is it about this situation that attracted the buck in the first place?)

How do you encounter him in a way that is undetected?

What changes are you going to make to adapt to his routine?

Start with this before you spend time on tactics, technology or strategies.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,
Jim

Confusing Lucky with Good

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails

This is why trophy hunting successes fade. This is why amateur hunters so often fail. This is why one-off hunting analogy stories make no sense. Success at the beginning blinds us to the opportunity to get really good instead of merely coasting.

The only thing more sad than the self-limiting arrogance of the confusion between lucky and good is the pathos of the converse: confusing ungood with unlucky.

Most hunters don’t get lucky at first. Or second. Or even third. It’s so easy to conclude that if you’re not lucky, you’re not good. So persistence becomes an essential element of good, because without persistence, you never get a chance to get lucky.
True luck requires persistence.

Get the Book

Good Luck and Good Hunting,
Jim

Hunting Sheds

Among the whitetail hunter’s fraternity the spring search for shed antlers has become almost as competitive and widespread as hunting itself. Over the years I have found hundreds of shed antlers, the vast majority of which I didn’t even bother to pick up. A handful were of Boone & Crockett quality. What, if anything, can finding sheds do to help a hunter in his efforts to be more successful the following fall? The answer is plenty, if you know what to look for.

There are three things that affect the dropping of antlers: diet, stress, and hormonal fluctuations. The loss of hormones is the strongest determining factor. The largest bucks never seem to hold on to their headgear very long after the rut. Bucks fatigued from excessive fighting and breeding during the rut will be the first to lose their antlers.

Once I found a pair of fresh sheds on December 2 that clearly came from a “Booner.” The very next day I found an even bigger shed. Although finding sheds so early is unusual, it is even more uncommon the find a truly big buck carrying his antlers into January. I have spent a lot of year’s bow hunting in December and find it’s a race every year to get a big buck before he sheds. By the middle of December, panic starts to set in as we become aware that “Buckzilla” could become a “baldy” by morning.

Just like in deer hunting, the sheds from smaller bucks are much more common than those from larger bucks. Smaller bucks can keep their antlers well into February and March. For this reason small sheds offer us little valuable information.

The biggest bucks begin to lose their antlers shortly after the rut. I like to start looking for sheds as soon after the end of the hunting season as possible. December’s moist earth or fresh snow makes it a great time to look for tracks and to learn more about deer patterns in your area. Snow reveals the truths about the how’s and why’s of deer movement in any area.

Most importantly, if you find a monster shed, you’ll know exactly where that buck was during the rut, and should have a darn good idea where to look for him next fall. This is when you start looking for trees to hang a stand in next year. Look for nearby funnels, and brush thickets close to bedding areas. This is the one time of the year that busting a buck out of his bed won’t come back to hurt you. The buck has a whole year to forget about you. Regardless, be careful not to stress the deer anytime during the winter and early spring months.

I have used shed hunting to pattern several bucks over the years. It is often much more effective than preseason scouting, especially if you plan to hunt the rut.

I was looking for sheds and found an exceptionally large antler in a narrow timbered funnel. Towards the end of the season I hung a stand with hopes of catching the buck as he searched for does. About half an hour before the end of shooting hours I saw him coming. There was a large draw between us and I momentarily lost sight of him. I prayed he would come into view before it was too dark to shoot. He passed within twenty yards of the stand. As he quartered away, I let the air out of him.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,
Jim
Buy the Book for X-mas

Beware of Zombie Hunters

The walking dead don’t just appear weekly on TV but in deer woods everywhere. I see them every hunting season. I’m sitting in a stand and some zombie comes walking through, wind at his back, eyes to the ground, and stinking up the place. It’s just like the zombies on TV (they even dress like them).

This all happens when hunters see the deer as a mirror image of themselves.

The zombie hunter thinks if he just keeps repeating unsuccessful past behaviors long enough and hard enough, success will find him. As a result, he walks around aimlessly and his development time slows and the road to success lengthens.

And what do zombies feed on? Why their own egos of course! Which explains why zombie hunters stumble around hoping the deer will find them.

Don’t be a zombie.

Grab a copy now

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Jim

Scout Now for Next Seasn’s Buck

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails

I am often asked, “when is the best time to scout?”The answer is “immediately after you harvest your buck.”

The biggest advantage is you will be scouting exactly where the deer will be come hunting season next fall. I like to do my scouting a couple of days after a fresh snowfall. This allows the deer enough movement to show travel routes, feeding preferences, and bedding sites. I’m not worried about spooking deer now as there’s nearly 12 months before I’ll be hunting them again. That’s ample time to let the herd settled now.

If you hunt in areas that don’t receive much if any snowfall, wait a couple days after a hard rain to do your scouting. The old tracks will either be washed away are rounded out by the rain. Look for tracks with crisp edges. Also, keep track of any rubbed trees are scrapes you my find.

If an area has the cover, security, and feed to hold large deer one year, the odds are that it will hold that deer or another large deer the next season.

Missing sign all together or misreading sign is one of the most common mistakes made in hunting. Most hunters tend to block out apparent sign and focus only on the sign that they are comfortable with. They use scouting to support some preconceived conclusion of what the outcome should be instead of letting the sign speak for itself. People tend not to believe what they see, but see what they believe.

Buy the Book Now
If you scout immediately after your hunting season, you’ll be well on your way to harvesting another great buck next fall.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,
Jim

Get Buck Naked for X-mas

Get BUCK NAKED for X-mas

Looking for that special gift for the outdoorsman in your life? Give them the gift that truly keeps on giving, a copy of the book Buck Naked; The Straight Dope on Trophy Whitetails.

Here’s a gift that will be appreciated this Christmas season and for years to come. Buck Naked is jammed packed with tips, tactics, and strategies that will benefit both the novice and seasoned hunter.

At $14.95, it’s affordable for all of the hunters on your list. It also makes a great stocking stuffer.

Have a great Holiday Season,
Jim

‘Tis the Season


‘Tis the season of giving.

Looking for something special for the hunters on your list? Buck Naked; The Straight Dope on Trophy Whitetails is the perfect gift for every outdoors person. The book is literally jam with valuable tips, tactics, and strategies for all hunters regardless of their experience level.

Put a big smile on the face of that special hunter when he opens your package and finds a copy of Buck Naked.

The tips and tactics found in Buck Naked will be appreciated not only this Christmas season but for years to come. Buck Naked is truly a gift that keeps on giving. It’s affordable to buy and easy to ship.

Put a smile on their faces come Christmas morning, get them a copy of the book Buck Naked this holiday season.

Seasons Greetings,
Jim
ize-medium wp-image-995″ />

Young Hunters and Trophy Deer

I recently received a couple of letters from readers asking my advice as to whether young hunters should be encouraged to hold out for a trophy deer or be allowed to harvest a lesser quality animal.

Hunting is SERIOUS BUSINESS, DEADLY SERIOUS.

When you put a weapon capable of killing a big game animal in the hands of a child, he or she is no longer a child. They hold the power of life and death in their hands. This is serious business.
My recommendation is to always allow the young hunter their choice on which animal to harvest. Too often, parents attempt to relive their childhood through their children. We all want our children to achieve a level of higher success that we have. The tendency is to make the hunt easy for the child. This is always a mistake since humans thrive on a challenge.

Even a 10-year-old with a gun or bow in their hands must be capable of making the proper decisions on how to use that weapon. Every hunter regardless of age must make their own decisions in the field, including which deer to harvest.

I always ask young hunters what they expect to harvest. I informed them of their responsibilities, the difficulties and challenges they will face, and asked them if they are willing to do the work necessary.

After that, it’s up to them.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,
Jim

Combating Swirling Winds

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails

One of the questions I get asked most often is, “ How do you hunt in swirling winds?”

Swirling winds can occur anywhere in North America. However, they seem to occur most often while I’m hunting whitetail deer. Swirling winds can be a real nightmare. Often the only thing we succeed at is blowing are scent all over the hunting area and lowering our chances of seeing deer let alone harvesting one. While swirling winds are far from the ideal hunting situation there are a couple of things you can do to improve your chances.

First off, we should place our stand high on a ridge. This will help prevent both thermals and circling winds from pushing our scent throughout the area.

Secondly, we should place our stand high in the tree. I recommend a minimum of 18 to 20 feet. This dramatically improves our chances of keeping our odors above the deer’s noses.

If I’m still hunting or stalking, I’ll move into the direction of the prevailing wind regardless of the wind swirling. Often the prevailing wind will keep the swirling winds from spreading our scent to far in front of us. But you’ll be much farther ahead if you hunt out of a high stand on a high ridge during swirling winds then any other hunting method.

I can promise you this, you have a better chance of killing a deer hunting in swirling winds than you do sitting in your living room watching football.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,
Jim