The Top 1 Precentors

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

95% of hunters surveyed indicated they wanted to harvest a trophy whitetail.

Unfortunately, only about 3% of hunters harvest trophy class bucks each year and only 1% harvest trophy class bucks year after year. Are you one of them?

Interestingly, only about 1% of hunters read books on hunting. Maybe they know something you don’t.

Close the gap and join the 1 precentors.

Jim

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Hitting Running Deer

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

If you can’t hit a running animal, you’re missing a lot of action.
Why is it shooting at a standing bird (ground sluicing) is considered un-sportsman like, while shooting at a running deer is un-ethical. For the life of me, I can’t see the difference.
Hitting running deer can be a daunting task even for experienced shooters. However, there are a few tricks, which will greatly improve your shooting performance at running deer.
There are two schools of thought on hitting running game with a high powered rifle. They are the swing through and the sustained lead.
Swinging through the deer is the same as swinging a shotgun at a flying bird. The hunter moves the cross-hairs through the target and squeezes the trigger when the cross-hairs pass the intended target.
Sustained lead is just that. The hunter leads the deer with his cross-hairs and hopes the deer runs into the bullet. Unfortunately, this rarely works out.
A rifleman with a good swing is about 5 times more successful at hitting running game than one using the sustained lead method.
Here’s how to master the swing:

Mounting the Rifle
One common mistakes most hunters make is properly mounting the rifle. The tendency is to bring the butt of the rifle up to your shoulder. The butt of the rifle can easily get hung-up on our heavier hunting jacket making it difficult to get a consistent mount. It’s best to practice pushing the rifle away from your body and then bringing it straight back to the shoulder. Good shooter practice their mount before they go to the range.

Gripping the Rifle
Learning to mount your rifle properly will ensure a good solid anchor of the rifle to your shoulder. Equally important is learning how to properly grip the forearm. A good shooter will extend their index finger and aline it with the barrel. Where the finger points, the barrel also points. This makes it a lot easier to follow the deer with the muzzle.

Trigger Pull
A good trigger pull will greatly improve your shooting at all game, moving or not. Factory triggers tend to be stiff, have excessive pull or both. A hunter should never have to force the trigger. If you have to put too much pressure on the trigger or there is too much slop in the pull, you’re likely to slow or even stop your swing causing a miss. The rifle should go off easily when the hunter wants it to. I like my hunting trigger to be crisp, with a pull between 2 and 3 pounds. Any gunsmith can help you adjust your trigger to the proper pull.

Swing and Follow Through
A good swing and follow through is a lot like playing baseball. The batter keeps his eye on the ball and doesn’t stop his swing when he hits the ball. He follows through. Likewise, a batter has to time his swing to make contact with the ball. If he gets excited and swings too fast or too slow, he’ll miss the ball all together. These same principle apply to shooting.
Our natural tendency is to stop the swing once the rifle goes off. This inevitably causes our shot to land behind the deer. If we swing too fast or try to speed up our swing, we’ll shoot in front of the deer. Practicing your swing and follow through is essential if you want to become an accomplished shot at running game.
It’s best to keep the rifle moving at the same speed as the deer and slowly increase the speed of the muzzle and squeeze the trigger when the cross-hairs pass through the deer.
Just like a batters focus is on the ball and not the bat, our focus should always be on the deer not the cross-hairs. If we shift our focus between the deer and the cross-hairs, our swing will be erratic and we’ll miss.

Hitting running deer isn’t easy. It never is. However, if you follow these four simple tricks, you’ll greatly improve your odds at hitting the running buck.

Jim

Look for secondary food sources

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails

Don’t focus all of your attention on primary food plots. While we see a lot of does and smaller bucks in the fields at dawn and dusk, the big bucks will tend to visit these locations only under the cover of darkness.

We are better of finding secondary food sources such as mast crops in heavier cover. Bucks often go to ma st before entering the primary food source. Look for acorns, apples, berries, honeysuckle, and other soft browse in your area.

Jim

It might not be the best place to hunt

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

Rubs and scrapes are the easiest buck sign to spot. While finding these signs is exciting, it might not be the best place to place a stand.

Whitetail deer are crepuscular. Crepuscular animals are most active during twilight: both at dawn and dusk. This makes complete sense. Bucks feed most heavily a few hours after sunset and again right before dawn and are making most of their rubs and scrapes at those times. That’s why we see the heaviest concentration of this sign near crop fields.

Most hunters place their stands right there-where the most sign is. The problem is the buck usually does reach this spot until well after shooting hours has expired. We are better off placing our stand 300 to 400 yards away from the preferred food source and intercepting the on his why to feed. This will require a little careful backtracking on your part, but it will greatly improve your chances on a big buck.

Jim

Hunt Rub Lines

I prefer hunting over rub lines as opposed to scrape lines. First off, bucks make rubs, does don’t. Secondly, bucks rub trees for three months each fall, while ground scrapes are limited to a few of weeks during the rut. Thirdly, scrape lines almost always follow rub lines. You can take it to the bank. Most important, it is far easier to tell the potential size of a buck from a rub than from a scrape.
I’m looking for a tree with a rub length of 24 ” or more.

Hunting rubs is more effective earlier in the fall before the urgency of the rut sets in.

Jim

The Buck Communication Hot-Line

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

Most communication between mature deer is through the use of scent. Every hunter knows about scrapes and some even understand their importance in buck hierarchy. While scrapes are important, they don’t start showing up until immediately before the rut. This leaves us wondering where the bucks are the rest of the year.
While all scrapes are used to communicate a bucks presence to other bucks, all scrapes are not equal. The scrapes which are most important are the ones with a well used “licking branch” above them. These are the scrapes which will be visited by several bucks.
The most important roll of scrapes to a hunter is in helping him to locate these “licking branches”.
To a deer, a licking branch has more meaning than a scrape. Bucks use “licking branches” throughout the entire year. Licking branches hold scent better than scrapes. Urine deposited in scrapes dissipates quickly. Pre-orbital scent on licking branches stays considerably longer.
One way to really get the a buck’s attention is to remove a licking branch from one area and place it over a scrape in an area where you plan to hunt. It won’t take long for the bucks to notice an intruder is in their area.
Licking branches get way more attention than scrapes.
-Jim

Buck Analytics for Dummies (Part 1)

Buck analytics is a method of turning data into insights which will allow us to better predict deer behavior. It helps the hunter to segment this data, uncover hidden patterns, and to make optimal decisions on where and when to hunt. The challenge is to figure out what data is useful and what should be ignored.

Turning data into predictable insights includes:

Finding the ideal buck to hunt.
Locating the ideal stand location.
Optimizing your valuable hunting time.
Increasing your success rate on big bucks.

Today hunters can find all of the data they need to dramatically improve their hunting success. There are harvest reports from wildlife departments, satellite images from outer space, and trail cameras. Our ability to gather data has changed the way we hunt forever.

While gathering data has become relatively easy, segmenting that data can be difficult. Start by defining what you want to achieve through analytics. What will have the biggest impact on your hunting? Is your focus on finding new locations to hunt or are you trying to determine how to better hunt an existing location? Perhaps your biggest concern is limit unproductive days? The questions you ask yourself up-front will narrow the amount of data you’ll need for any scenario.
-Jim

Staying Flexible in a Changing Hunting Environment

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails

Think of yourself as stretchable, expandable, and able to adapt to anything new. Who wants to view themselves as static, inflexible, and unable to adapt? Changes in the hunting environment are unpredictable, and we will be asked to adapt to changes we never anticipated.

When changes occur it’s best to think ahead, but not too far ahead. Instead of abandoning our efforts, focus on changes we can make in the immediate future. I mean think of how you can get ahead of the deer, not next time, but right NOW!

The most important strategy for staying flexible during change is to prepare for various change scenarios. If we create a plan for each possible set of change circumstances, we are prepared to engage change in any way that affects us in the field.

Jim

The importance of scrapes

Whitetail bucks are very territorial. Scraping activity has more to do with letting other bucks know he is in the area than it does with attracting does, think of it as very similar to how male dogs mark areas belonging to them. I’m sure that you have seen how the pooch lifts his leg on the corners of buildings, bushes, car tires, and fire hydrants, and then how the next dog to pass by will leave his own little remembrance in the same locations. It’s as if whoever pees last wins.

Bucks will check out scrapes to see if there are other deer in the area. If you want to hunt over scrape, just be sure it’s in an area where the buck feels comfortable during daylight hours.

http://www.amazon.com/Buck-Naked-Straight-Trophy-Whitetails/dp/1466498234

Jim

Don’t Call in Open Areas

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

If you don’t have a decoy, calling where the buck can see everything is useless. You have to give the buck a reason why he can’t see the deer that’s calling, or he won’t be comfortable coming in. Always take full advantage of the cover and vegetation in your area.

Jim

http://jimcollyer.com/