All posts by Randy Hynes

Christ follower, husband, father and founder of 365 Whitetail. Randy is the former Online Editorial Director for Petersen's Bowhunting, Petersen's Hunting, North American Whitetailand Bowhunter Magazine. His passions include fly fishing, photography and exploring wild places.
Havalon Hydra Knife

Havalon Hydra Review: More Than A Knife

The all-new Havalon Hydra redefines an ancient tool our ancestors called a—knife. Created unlike any of its predecessors, the Havalon Hydra is a stroke of genius bred with pure ingenuity.
Built on a precept that believes good is never good enough, the Hydra is an all-in-one knife/saw combo suitable for any outdoor excursion. Think of the Havalon Hydra as a handheld ‘transformer’ at your disposal, always ready to morph itself into a razor sharp blade or saw in a matter of seconds.
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Havalon Hydra: Seven In One

In reality the Havalon Hydra is seven knives in one. With a quick and easy system offering interchangeable blades the Hydra can deliver a razor sharp edge for whatever you’re cutting or sawing.
While the Hydra’s more compact family members, such as the Piranta-Stag, are suitable for making quick work when field dressing or caping game, the Hydra is designed to be more than a handy hunting knife. Whether fish, fowl or four-legged beast, the Hydra is equipped to make light work of any cut of meat.
Havalon Hydra Knives
The Hydra’s handy package comes with a saw (#115SW), fillet blade (#127XT), a hunter blade (#115XT), along with four different Piranta blades (#60A, #70A, #22XT and #22), all designed to turn your favorite wild game into a succulent meal.
Providing a total of seventeen blades in seven different styles, you might call the Havalon Hydra a Swiss Army Knife for the meat-lover.
The foundation of the Havalon Hydra offers an ergonomic design manufactured from aluminum alloy. Measuring 5-7/8” long the Hydra’s handle offers superior grip and comfort—ideal when spending long sessions on the cutting board.
Havalon Hydra Review
An additional feature provided by the Havalon Hydra is the Piranta safety lock. Locking the Piranta blade into a closed and fixed position, this feature provides both protection and peace of mind.
Obviously the Havalon Hydra will be traveling with us this fall. Gone are the days of packing several knives when on an out-of-town hunting trip. Now all we have to do is slip the Hydra’s handy carrying case into our travel pack and we’re good to go.
Havalon Hydra Knife Case

The Hydra And Real Life

Digging into our stash of highly prized venison backstrap, we sought to christen the Hydra with a delectable cut of venison. We were not disappointed. The Hydra willingly and adequately filleted and cut just as we expected. The Hydra blades were razor sharp and fastened solidly to the handle. Changing blades was simple and the additional blades store needly in the Hydra’s Cordura case.
This knife has definitely found a place at the top of our ‘favorite gear’ list.
Havalon Hydra Saw Knife


For those who find the thought of a double-blade knife a discomfort, let me offer a little logic. If you don’t like the thought of two blades, with one razor sharp blade under your hand, just remove it. You don’t ‘have’ to use the Hydra with two blades.
You can count on this little jewel doing plenty of work for our family and I fully expect the Hydra to make light work of venison steaks this fall.
For more information on the Havalon Hydra check out Havalon Knives.
Havalon Hydra Set

Preseason Giveaway

The Bowhunter’s Pre-Season Giveaway

Knowing how much quality hunting gear means to the bowhunter, we’ve decided to offer one lucky guy, or gal, a chance to begin this year’s hunting season with some brand new hunting gear. Starting today and running through September 1st, you’ll have a chance to win all (yes, all) the hunting gear featured in this giveaway.
This giveaway includes products from Vortex Optics, Costa Sunglasses, Lone Wolf Treestands, Badlands Packs, Bushnell, Stic-n-Pic, Havalon Knives, Hunter Safety System, Duel Game Calls, Scott Archery, DeerLab, and more. Here’s how The Bowhunter’s Pre-Season Giveaway will work:
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Simply SIGN UP below, and provide us with your name and email. It’s that simple. There’s no Facebook pages to like, no Tweets to retweet or blood to donate. All we want to do this year is make some bowhunter very happy! (See details below.)
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Details: You must be 18 years of age and live in the United States to enter this giveaway. By entering this giveaway you are agreeing to receive email updates from 365 Whitetail. The information you provide will be also be shared with the individual companies that have provided products for this giveaway. For detailed information on the individual products included in this giveaway, please see below.

Vortex Optics – Diamondback 8×32 Roof Prism Binocular

The Vortex Diamondback 8×32 binocular provides superior quality in a compact, bowhunter friendly package. Offering multicoated lenses, phase-corrected prisms, and waterproof/fogproof contruction, these binoculars will have you seeing like you’re supposed to. While there are several optics companies making quality optics, few know hunting like the team at Vortex. Vortex Optics are designed by hunters for hunters and not only that, Vortex knows the outdoors is not a friend of glass. Therefore they offer a VIP Warranty with every purchase. What’s a VIP Warranty? Check this out: Vortex VIP Warranty
Vortex Diamondback 8x32

Primos Trail Camera – Proof Cam 01

The all-new Primos Proof Cam 01 trail camera represents the dawning of a new era for trail camera users. In order to move forward Primos has gone back to the basics—back to what hunters want. The Proof Cam 01 offers 10 Mega Pixels, 36–850nM low glow LED’s, 70ft night range, 0.7 second trigger speed, and features photo, HD video and HD time lapse. The all-new Proof Cam 01 operates on 8 AA batteries, provides a battery life of 9-months, and comes with 1 year warranty.
Primos Proof Cam 01

Lone Wolf Treestands – Alpha Tech F1

When it comes to treestands, there’s no question Lone Wolf Treestands ranks at the top. Each treestand is made and assembled in the United States by a team that understands both safety and stealth. The Lone Wolf Alpha Tech F1 delivers the necessary function every treestand hunter demands—quiet and comfortable. Constructed of 100% aluminum and weighing in at only 13.6 pounds, the Alpha Tech F1 offers unparalleled stability. The Alpha Tech F1 also offers a roomy 30″ x 19-1/2″ platform, an extra thick contoured foam set pad and includes a 6-point safety harness that meets industry standards.
Lone Wolf Alpha Tech F1

Slick Trick – 100gr Standard / 4 Blade Broadheads

If you’re looking for a broadhead with versatility at its core—look no further. With perfect geometry for extreme penetration and incredible flight, the Slick Trick Standard 100gr broadhead cuts a devastating four-blade hole with extraordinary performance. This 1” four-blade design out cuts seemingly larger 1 1/8” three-blade broadhead designs by 18%, resulting in larger holes, maximum hemorrhaging and much shorter blood trails. Eight broadheads included in this giveaway.
Slick Trick 100 Standard

Costa Sunglasses – Gift Certificate (Your Choice)

Built on the premise that clarity and durability can co-exist, Costa sunglasses offer dedicated sportsmen optimum clarity and unrivaled quality. Worthy of whatever thrill you pursue, Costa’s are designed to be just as hardcore as your adventure. Whether you consider yourself an avid angler or hunting enthusiast, Costa designed eyewear will stand up to your playground.
Included in this giveaway is a gift certificate for one pair of the Costa sunglasses in the style of your choice.
Costa Sunglasses

Badlands Silent Series – Reaper Pack

Known for their unconditional lifetime warranty and quality hunting packs, the Badlands brand is no stranger to the bowhunter. The all-new Badlands Silent Series packs are designed, crafted and named for those who pursue their quarry with stealth—and from a treestand. The 1800 cubit inch Reaper offers an ingenious easy-open main compartment that can be operated with one hand and quickly sealed shut with a flip of the wrist. This pack is constructed of a proprietary fabric developed by Badlands called Mutex™, which is guaranteed to stay soft and quiet in even the most extreme hunting conditions. Revolutionary Mutex™ is then backed with a sound-absorbing, acoustical foam, all but muting any internal sound caused by your gear. As with all Badlands Silent Series Packs, there are also no buckles or zippers to give you away when silence matters most.
Badlands Reaper Pack

Havalon Knives – Piranta-Stag Hunting/Skinning Knife

While we’ve been fans of the original Havalon Piranta for some time, the new Piranta-Stag features a stronger, thicker 60A blade and a larger handle. Literally these knives are razor sharp, so once you start using a Piranta-Stag, you’ll never use anything else.
Giveaway includes the Piranta-Stag, 6 additional stainless steel #60A blades and a nylon holster. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed. Havalon products are beyond good, they’re simply amazing.
Havalon Piranta Stag

Scott Archery – Shark Caliper Release

Scott releases are known for their quality, which is why the Scott Shark release has become a best seller among bowhunters. This duel-caliper release provides even distribution of friction resulting in enhanced accuracy. For the predator who prefers a caliper release, you can’t go wrong with a Shark. This giveaway includes a Scott Shark in Realtree AP, with a buckle style strap.

Hunter Safety System – HSS-UltraLite Flex Harness

The HSS-UltraLite Flex is the lightest, most flexible harness to hit the market. The HSS-UltraLite Flex features a series of individual, padded hexagons that provide a comfortable, snug fit and unprecedented flexibility. New HSS 1.25” upper-body webbing, tether and waist buckle continues to provide the strength you expect from HSS without the added weight and bulk.
The HSS Flex incorporates individual, padded hexagons to provide comfort and maximum flexibility, a patented HSS design that eliminates dangerous dangling straps
 and weave-through buckles, and a secure, mesh cell phone pocket for your convenience.

Drake’s Adventures – Trick or Treat

Drake’s Adventures book series will captivate your kids page after page. And there’s no better way to introduce youngsters to the outdoors than with high-quality sounds coupled with adventure. Trick or Treat captures the exciting moments Drake and his father spend hunting a buck named ‘Spider.’ “Feel the hair rise as a smaller buck turns tail and bounds away, just to have the best buck on their farm come in with his hair bristled and ready for battle.”
Drakes Adventures Trick Treat

Deer Lab – 1 Year Subscription

Managing Trail Camera photos has never been easier. Now with DeerLab’s Trail Camera Software you can conveniently keep track of not only photos, but individual bucks as well. Plus this unique software automatically taps into your closest weather station and coordinates it with your photo’s time stamp. This means you can track what wind, temperature, or barometric pressure your hit list buck is moving to. For information on additional features visit DeerLab.

Bass & Bucks – $50 Gift Card / Online Store

Stocking over 800 new and used bows, Bass & Bucks is Indiana’s premier archery retailer. Included in this giveaway is a $50 gift card to be used on Bass & Bucks’ new on-line store. From Elite Archery, Scott, Black Eagle and a host of other quality brands, here’s your chance to make your gear list complete. Looking for a new bow, check out Bass & Bucks.
bass and bucks

Duel Game Calls – Stretchback Grunt Call

Duel Game Calls is not just another call maker. Setting themselves apart by using duel chamber technology, Duel Game Calls produces some of the most realistic calls on the market. Watch Weston Clark demo the call here.
Duel Stretchback Grunt Call

Stic-n-Pic – Mini Ground Mount

Stic-n-pic trail camera mounts are some of the most innovative mounts on the market today. Just released this year is their new Mini Ground Mount. The mini mount comes in a small convenient package along with offering all the advantages we have come to expect from Stic-n-Pic.
Stick n pic mini ground mount
Thank you for participating in The Pre-Season Bowhunter’s Giveaway. Hopefully, you’ll be the winner!

funnels and pinch points

Create Your Own Funnels And Pinch Points

Bill Winke says it can take up to three years to figure out the exact tree to hang a stand in when bowhunting a specific location. Most bowhunters know that placing a treestand fifty-yards in one direction or another can make all the difference between having a close encounter and putting meat in the freezer.
But what if the prevailing wind direction, terrain, lack of trees or some other situation, prohibit you from having an ideal stand location—then what? In that case you can build a man made funnel or pinch point, which will result in the deer being forced to relocate, rather than you having to.
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Last year we gained permission to hunt a particular piece of property that holds an abundance of whitetail. Since permission was granted after bow season had started, we restricted our scouting in order to limit the overall pressure on the herd. This also meant stand placement was based solely upon our knowledge of whitetail behavior, visible sign around field edges and terrain features.
As expected, the strategy worked fairly well but was not ideal. After spending a considerable amount of time scouting the property this spring, we are making the necessary adjustments. One of those is to funnel the deer within bow range by creating funnels and pinch points out of deadfall and natural vegetation.

Too Far. Too Close.

While attempting to find the perfect tree in which to hang a treestand, there have been numerous times when I’ve thought, “If only there were a tree, with plenty of cover, right here.” Unfortunately, Mother Nature isn’t interested in where I place my treestand when it plants its seedlings.
Ideally I prefer to hang my stand 20-25 yards from a travel corridor. While some might prefer closer distances than 20-25 yards, I’ve found a 20-25 yard shot provides an ethical yardage along with a security cushion that blankets movement on the part of the hunter and aids in masking any noise he or she might make.
There have also been times when my setup left me wishing I were closer to the majority of deer movement. I may have had a perfect tree, which provided plenty of cover, but I was not in the best possible location for killing a deer with a bow.
These ideal stand sites aren’t always available, but you can make a location work for you by changing ‘where’ the deer travel. In the photo above you can see how deer travel past one of our stands and into a small crop field. Originally, because of the natural deadfall and having multiple entry points into the food source, deer would travel outside our shooting lanes in an attempt to avoid logs and other debris.
By removing fallen logs and other deadfall to open up a clear path of travel and by using that same debris and other natural vegetation we have created barriers to block off other entry points into the field. While there is a significant amount of sweat equity in cutting trees and moving brush, the hard work has enabled us to ‘funnel’ and ‘pinch’ deer into our shooting lanes.
bowhunting funnels and pinch points

Right Location. Wrong Tree.

Another scenario for which you may want to create your own funnel or pinch point is when you have located an ideal travel route but cannot locate an ideal tree.
Because I enjoy hunting during the late season, when natural cover is sparse, I prefer a to hang my late season stands in a tree that offers plenty of cover. This will normally be a tree with large limbs under and/or above my stand to help break up my silhouette. Unfortunately, where deer travel and where the ideal tree decided to grow may not intersect.
By barricading the current travel route and creating a new one that forces deer to travel closer to the ‘ideal’ tree, the hunter can have the best of both worlds, especially if you’re planning on hunting during the late season.

Creating Barricades

There seems to be no shortage of creative bowhunters who have used old snow fence, logs, brush, or hinge cut trees in order to create funnels or pinch points. These bowhunters repeatedly attribute their hunting success to these man-made blockades. The variety of items used to create obstructions would also suggest there is no right or wrong item to use when creating man made funnels or pinch points.
The caveat when creating your own funnels and pinch points is to make sure your work is done early enough in the season for deer to get accustomed to the new travel route and insure all human scent has dissipated from the area well before season gets here.
While ideally it’d be nice if every stand site made it easy to sneak in and hang a stand with minimal disruption of the natural vegetation and a whitetail’s travel route—unfortunately the word ‘ideal’ isn’t always in Mother Nature’s vocabulary.

Never Take Yes For An Answer

Don’t Take Yes For An Answer

In 1803 the United States acquired over 828,000 square miles of pristine wilderness at less than 5 cents per acre. This acquisition, which included some of the most breathtaking landscape in the United States, became known as the Louisiana Purchase.
One year later Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark began a perilous two-year expedition, which would provide not only a scientific discovery, but a detailed description of this newly acquired territory as well.
The monumental discoveries of the Lewis and Clark Expedition gave us glimpses into the backcountry of Montana, Idaho and what we know as modern day Yellowstone. But in light of their high-risk adventure, it’s only fair to ask ourselves: Why would these two men would risk their lives to lead an expedition into the unknown?
While we don’t know positively, might one reason be because Lewis and Clark refused to take yes for an answer?
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Some may wonder what correlations can be drawn between the early development of our United States and hunting—the answer is—several. For whether mapping a route to the Western half of the United States or planning for the upcoming hunting season, true success comes from approaching every situation or circumstance with humble curiosity.

Ditch Assumption

Recently, while looking through some Outdoor Life magazines from the 1960’s, I was awakened to this fact: Today’s hunters have it easy. Because we stand on the shoulders of the past, we can take from what others have learned, without possessing any personal experience gained from either success or failure.
The modern hunter needs nothing, our homework has been completed for us. We have the luxury of reaping from the experiences of those who have gone before us, and thankfully so. Whether it’s bowhunting whitetail, pursuing Dall sheep or hunting the mighty Wapati, much of our knowledge has been handed down to us—by those who learned the hard way.
Today there are outdoor gadgets galore and just as many marketeers whose job it its to seduce us into believing we’ll be a better hunter if we own the latest or most technologically advanced hunting gear. We have access to TV programming, which can take us hunting around the world without leaving the comforts of our couch. We are afforded modern conveniences, such as the trail camera, which allow us to ‘see’ deer we didn’t actually see with our own two eyes. And don’t forget Google search, hundreds of hunting websites and dozens of outdoor blogs, which assist in answering almost any question at the stroke of a keyboard.

Gone are the days when you had to experience it, before you could know something about it.

Due to the vast amount of information made available to us, modern hunters have a dilemma, a juxtaposition that forces us to assume rather than experience. On the one hand we are rich because of our heritage, on the other hand we are inexcusably poor—but there’s no reason to stay that way.

Learn Like They Did

April 15, 1452 marks the birthday of one of the most curious and creative minds in history. Possessing an imagination unparalleled in his time, Leonardo da Vinci dreamed of: A flying machine, a bicycle, an adjustable monkey wrench, hydraulic jack, a parachute (before the phenomenon of flight) and even a water-powered alarm clock. It is estimated da Vinci left some fourteen thousand pages of notes, which were the sum of his lifelong endeavor to know and to experience as much as he possibly could. Is it any wonder when Michael J. Gelb wrote How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, that he described Leonardo da Vinci by simply stating, “He wouldn’t take yes for an answer.”
I recently met an individual who purchased a bow in hopes to try their hand at archery. Unfortunately, they purchased the bow some time ago, and still haven’t shot it. And why haven’t they nocked an arrow and at least tried? Because they are scared something will go wrong. Even though they spent countless hours researching what bow to buy and why, they are scared to cross over the chasm of fear and experience the release of an arrow for the very first time.
Can we move beyond this type of trepidation? Yes, when we judge a successful outcome based around the experience, good or bad, and what we learn from it, the set boundaries that tend to define failure are removed. In the past authors, explorers and hunters lived wanting to add to their current roster of things experienced. Even Einstein said, “I have no special gift, I am only passionately curious.” When we live to experience—failure is redefined.
So to the man or woman who’s never shot a bow before—go do it. To the hunter who’s never planted a food plot before—go for it. To the hunter wanting to pursue a new species of animal but doesn’t know where to begin—do your best and let experience be your teacher. To the one who’s scared to write their first hunting article—write it. To the shy hunter who wants to ask permission to hunt a piece of property but hates knocking on doors—just try it. To the girl who wonders what people will think if she goes hunting—don’t let people stand in your way.
Don’t fear failure, fear missing out on the experience.

rules for shed hunting

Three Simple Rules For Shed Hunting

Let’s be honest, hard-core shed hunters are a curious crowd. Considering their willingness to tromp countless miles in search of a single whitetail shed, it’s easy to recognize that shed hunters belong to a totally different category of ‘hunters.’
These idiosyncratic searchers are marked by a relentless drive to not only search, but to find—and philosophically—finding is only part of the reason they search.
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So what can we learn from those who consistently find sheds? The simple answer is, a lot. But when we boil down their success, there seems to be three simple rules that successful shed hunters live by.

1. Have A Plan

Any day spent wandering aimlessly through the woods is better than being cooped up indoors, but ‘wandering’ and ‘aimless’ are not proven ways to find shed antlers. Before embarking on any shed hunting adventure take time to study topographical maps and satellite imagery of the property you plan on shed hunting.
Having a detailed mental picture of the property will help you know how to best ‘grid’ the location. Whether searching the property includes using optics or boots on the ground, having a plan when shed hunting will ensure you’re not skipping key bedding areas, travel routes or food sources.
After studying both topographical maps and satellite images I like to start my shed hunt by breaking down large sections of property into manageable pieces. I will then use landmarks to mark off small sections of property in order to walk or glass it thoroughly. After searching that particular section of property, I will move on to the next. This method has worked very well, and has helped to prevent me from feeling overwhelmed, when searching large tracts of land.
When shed hunting large acreages it’s very easy to get distracted and want to wander to what looks like a ‘good spot for sheds,’ but staying focused and thoroughly searching a given area will usually yield greater results.

2. Push Though It

There’s no better way to describe these places than by the word—nasty. They’re usually thick, full of thorns, and the deadfall doesn’t make for easy walking. But as most shed hunters know, it’s these clothes tearing, skin scaring, ‘nasty’ places that are the perfect place to find sheds.
After multiple hours of walking, you may want to walk ‘around’ the next patch of Multiflora Rose—but don’t. I’ve actually found sheds hanging in the middle of a brush patch so thick, I still wonder how they got there.
Whether on south facing hillsides, in bedding areas or in the middle of a brush patch, successful shed hunters have learned that shed antlers can be just about anywhere. That said, make up your mind and push through the temptation to skip the difficult areas.
A willingness to push through tired legs, sharp thorns and weary feet is a rule all successful shed hunters live by.

3. Hold On To Belief

Several years ago I took a relative, who will remain nameless, on their first shed hunt. After a few hours of searching the relative looked at me and said, “This is stupid, we’re never going to find any sheds.” The problem—they had lost all belief.
The dedicated shed hunter continues to believe he or she will find what they’re searching for in spite of the initial results. Shed hunting is the ultimate test of faith and perseverance.
On a recent shed hunt my oldest son looked at me and said, “Dad, how many people do you know who would be happy to walk 15-miles for a whitetail shed?” I smiled and kept on walking, but his question stuck with me. Shed hunting isn’t about the miles, it’s not about the search, and it’s not all about the find. Shed hunting is about belief, a belief that if bucks are there, the sheds will be there, and if the sheds are there, the shed hunter who applies enough determination and tenacity will find them.
Don’t give up belief. If that means searching an area more than once, do it—just don’t give up.
three rules for shed hunting


It’s not hard to see that shed hunting and life have several parallels. Anything we will be successful at requires a plan, persistence and persuasion. So, embrace the rules and enjoy the journey.
Let’s not get tired of doing what is good, for at the right time we will reap a harvest—if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Shed Rally Is Far From Over

Shed Rally Is Far From Over

Last weekend marked the second annual Shed Rally, a day when countless antler addicts took to their favorite locations in search of bone. And while this annual event has been checked off the calendar—your personal Shed Rally doesn’t have to be over.
A unique aspect of Shed Rally, made possible by modern technology, is the ability to share photos of the antlers found during Shed Rally across various social media channels. Gone are the days when around a potbelly stove in the center of a local mercantile was the place to share the latest news—today it’s digital.
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But sharing photos with the hashtag #ShedRally isn’t the only reason we shed hunt. There’s much more to be shared and experienced in the outdoors than simply finding shed antlers. So, while the momentum generated by Whitetail Properties’ Shed Rally encouraged ‘shed heads’ to collectively go on a search for antler, there’s no need to stop looking for antler just because March 7th is behind us.

Enjoy The Hunt

It would seem most whitetail hunters have a love-hate relationship with shed hunting. Either they enjoy the challenge of looking for a ‘needle in a haystack’ or they get board with the endeavor very quickly and are prone to give up the hunt after a few uneventful miles.
shed rally isn't over
But shed hunting is just that—it’s hunting.
To prolong your personal Shed Rally, make shed hunting about the hunt, not just the find. The woods are full of much more meaningful experiences than being able to brag to your buddies about an antler you found. More importantly, shed hunting provides an opportunity to get outdoors, scout for the upcoming season and enjoy time spend with family and friends.

Catch A Glimpse

Having tunnel vision when shed hunting is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, if you’re going to find sheds you must stay focused on what you’re looking for, but it’s also important to take in what’s around you.
Here in Indiana, March 7th was a beautiful day. The sun was shining the snow was glistening; it was a great day to be outside. But, the deep snow didn’t make finding antlers any easier. Knowing our chances of finding sheds were slim, I decided to make Shed Rally not only about what I could find, but what I could see.
After lip squeaking a raccoon to within eight feet, locating several whitetail bedding areas and identifying some travel routes I was previously unaware of, a shed would have just been a bonus.
Shed Rally Is Still Going On
Although I didn’t hashtag #ShedRally #Raccoon #Bedding, March 7th was filled with adventure and indelible experiences shared with my son, my best friend and his seven-year-old son. And the good news is, there can be plenty of days just like it—because March 7th isn’t the only day we can shed hunt.

Pass It On

Due to the amount of snow we had for Shed Rally, we were able to see plenty of rabbit tracks, fox tracks, coon tracks, coyote tracks, blood, fur, feathers and the list goes on.
To those who have children or grandchildren, finding telltale signs of animal activity are important moments. These left behind (and often overlooked) ‘tracks’ not only offer teaching opportunities, but provide ways for us to pass on an appreciation for the outdoors to the next generation. And there’s no better time to pass on our heritage then when shed hunting.
shed rally continues
So while I wish we wouldn’t have had as much snow for Shed Rally and would have liked to have found some sheds, I also know the experiences and knowledge I gained from a day in the woods far outweigh a picture posted on social media.
Besides, a personal Shed Rally doesn’t have to be over—it’s just begun.

Carry Your Shed Anters Shed Rally

Shed Tote: Conveniently Carry Shed Antlers #ShedRally

A successful shed hunt not only means adding to your bone collection, it can also initiate the conundrum of how to pack multiple shed antlers back to the truck.
Across the years I’ve packed shed antlers in hand, tried to cram them in my pack, and attempted to strap them to my pack—none of which have ever seemed very secure or comfortable.
Thankfully, I’ve found a much better and more convenient way to carry shed antlers!
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While attending the Indianapolis Deer, Turkey and Waterfowl Expo I stumbled upon a very unique product. A product I think is rather ingenious. Made by Call 4 Life Lanyards, this is one product every shed hunter should have in his or her possession.

Shed Tote: Conveniently Carry Your Shed Antlers #ShedRally

The innovative style and size are what attracted me to the—Shed Tote. This handy paracord tote provides the shed hunter with a safe and reliable way to carry shed antlers of any size or weight. Made from durable 550 paracord the Shed Tote is designed to fasten to a belt loop or backpack with ease.
Including its integrated carabineer, the Shed Tote measures 13-inches long overall. Its compact size helps to prevent the Shed Tote from catching on brush or branches. The Shed Tote’s design also keeps antlers relatively tight and restricts them from excessive swinging, like some other paracord totes are prone to do.
Shed Rally Transport Shed Antlers
Since the Shed Tote is small enough to be carried in your pocket or pack until needed, transporting the Shed Tote is easy. Once you find a shed, simply attach the Shed Tote’s integrated carabineer to your belt loop or backpack, fasten the shed and keep on shed hunting.
To use the Shed Tote simply slide the slip knot upwards until the loop is large enough to fit around the base of the antler. Once the antler is placed through the loop, tighten the slip knot against the antler and you’re antler is held securely in place.
The Shed Tote does require that you pay attention to the shape of the antler base. Some antlers will be more secure if the slipknot is on the inside of the antler or vice versa.
Carry Shed Anters During Shed Rally
This is one product that will perfect for the upcoming Shed Rally. (Hopefully you’ll not only be able to hashtag your photos with #ShedRally, but come home with several sheds fastened in the Shed Tote.)

Shed Tote: Display Your Sheds

Not only can the Shed Tote be used to carry shed antlers, it also provides a unique way to display sheds as well.
By fastening three or four shed antlers in the Shed Tote and hanging it below a sconce or from a hook, the Shed Tote can become an addition to any den or man cave decor.
transport shed antlers shed rally
The Shed Tote retails for $14.99 and comes with a lifetime guarantee. To order a Shed Tote contact Call 4 Life Lanyards at (660) 619-8813.
Due to the ongoing development of this product, there may be slight aesthetic or design differences from the Shed Tote pictured and what you receive. If you have any questions or would prefer a custom Shed Tote color or design feel free to contact Call 4 Life Lanyards—they’ll welcome your inquiry.
For more information about Call 4 Life Lanyards please feel free to visit them on:
Website (currently under construction)



Good luck shed hunting!
Shed Rally Carry Your Shed Anters

Coyote Hunting Tips

A Beginner’s Guide To Calling Coyotes

Calling coyotes isn’t rocket science, but when attempting to get a wily coyote within shooting range a few solid tips from an experienced caller can’t hurt. The difference between calling coyotes successfully and simply getting lucky is knowing how to directly apply coyote vocalizations and/or distress calls each time you’re on a stand.
From individual howls to group yip-howls coyote communication is so in-depth some biologists believe science will never be able to interpret each vocalization to its fullest degree.
As hunters we might not be able to explain calling coyotes scientifically, but this does not detour us from being able to call coyotes effectively.
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With the rapid increase in coyote populations across both rural and suburban America, most hunters and non-hunters alike are familiar with the eerie sounds biologists call—coyote vocalizations. But how do we apply these vocalizations when calling coyotes?

A Beginner’s Guide To Calling Coyotes

Several years ago I stumbled onto Randy Anderson’s Calling All Coyotes DVD’s and to this day his suggestions influence the way I call coyotes. While planning this article I located some of Anderson’s videos on YouTube and thought it might be helpful to pass on his wealth of knowledge in visual form.
In these videos Randy Anderson explains what you need to know when calling coyotes and YouTube has provided a platform in which to relay this valuable information. Hopefully you’ll find these videos educational and the end result will be a few deceased coyotes.

1. The Interrogation Howl

The interrogation howl is the simplest and most basic form of communication between coyotes. The interrogation howl can be used as both a locator call and as a primary call.
I like to use an interrogation howl on the majority of my stands, unless I know there is a good chance we can call in a fox. Since coyotes and fox are archenemies, the only time I won’t use coyote vocalizations is if fox are on the hit list.



2. Female Invitation Howl

The female invitation howl is just as its name suggests. This call is a non-threatening invitation to another coyote within close proximity. The female invitation howl can be used at any time during the year and works especially well during breeding season.
Often I’ll combine the female invitation howl with a distress call, such as a cottontail in distress. Since coyotes are opportunistic omnivores who would just as soon steal their food as kill it, a howl mixed in with a sound of distress adds realism and also plays on a coyote’s survival instincts.


3. Kiyi And Pup In Distress

Both the adult coyote in distress, called a kiyi, and pup in distress are some of the most effective calls you can use when calling coyotes. These calls play on the paternal instincts of a coyote and will work anytime of the year and on either sex.
After I’ve been on stand for 20-25 minutes I will use the kiyi or pup in distress to finish out my calling sequence. If a coyote is hung up out of sight, either of these sounds will usually bring the yote within shooting range.
The kiyi or pup in distress can also work if a coyote spooks when approaching a stand. A few weeks ago I had a young hunter on stand that couldn’t sit still. When the approaching coyote caught movement and turned to leave, the pup in distress brought it back within shooting range.
Immediately after the shot try using the kiyi or pup in distress. Often these sounds will allow you to take a second coyote in spite of the report of your firearm. One of my favorite features on FoxPro’s electronic callers is what’s called FoxBang. FoxBang electronically senses the shot and automatically initiates a preset sound, such as a kiyi or pup in distress.


4. Female Estrus Chirp

The female estrus chirp is unique in that it does not resemble a typical coyote vocalization. The estrus ‘chirp’ is made by a female coyote that’s ready to breed. The female estrus chirp is the perfect call to use during the January through March breeding season.
To make this peculiar sound consider using a call such as Duel Game Call’s Micro Estrus Chirp. Duel’s estrus chirp is a small but essential call to add to your collection. By using the estrus chirp sound the coyote hunter if offered an additional sound that’s known to fool call shy coyotes.


5. Distress Calls

The most popular of all calls are distress calls. Whether you choose to use a cottontail, jackrabbit, Magpie, Blue Jay, vole, or squirrel distress, coyotes will respond to just about any type of distress call.
When calling coyotes a distress call can be used along with either an interrogation howl or invitation howl to simulate a coyote that’s in the process of killing or has killed some sort of prey.
Remember when using distress calls that coyotes will respond to a distress call even if the call mimics an animal not native to the area. Here in the Midwest we don’t have jackrabbits, but coyotes don’t care—a jackrabbit in distress sounds too good for them to ignore.
Another tip to remember, if hunting in an area where other hunters may have used rabbit or hare distress calls, is to change up your calling by using bird sounds, or even big game sounds such as an antelope or whitetail fawn. Peculiar sounds are still interpreted by coyotes as a ‘dinner bell’ and can work very effectively.


6. Challenge Howls

Challenge howls play on a coyote’s territorial instincts. Due to the intimidating nature of challenge howls, I seldom use them. But as you can see in the following video this call can be used to build a scenario, which can obviously lure in even the most wary of predator.

So, if you want to get serious about calling coyotes there’s no better time than today to add these calls to your repertoire.
While there are always new calls to learn, these six types of calls are sure to increase your chances at killing coyotes. If you have any additional tips or suggestions you’d like to share, please feel free to comment below.
Shoot strait, be safe and have fun.

7 shed hunting tips

7 Shed Hunting Tips: Prepare For Shed Rally #ShedRally

March 7th has once again been declared a national holiday. At least if you’re a shed hunter it has. Thanks to our friends at Whitetail Properties for continuing the ingenious idea of a national shed hunting day.
March 7th, 2015 will mark the second annual ‘shed rally’ where all across America men and women who enjoy searching for hidden treasure in the form of shed antlers will post their finds on social media. (This so transcends seeing what someone had for lunch!)
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Whether on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, photos and stories of glorious finds will be marked with the hashtag #ShedRally. 365 Whitetail will be joining the #ShedRally and we invite you to be a part of what our friends at Whitetail Properties are calling, “The worlds largest shed hunt.”
For those who may be new to shed hunting or have a thirst to learn more, here are seven simple tips that may help you locate hidden bone on March 7th.

1. Start In The Backyard

If you’re new to this addictive quest, the first place to begin shed hunting is in your backyard. Seriously!
If you have access to an antler of any kind, place it in multiple locations, subject it to various lighting and study its features as it’s lying in different forms of undergrowth in or around your yard.
Once the antler is placed in the tall grass or weeds, look at it from a distance, up close and when standing directly over it. You can also use your optics to get a visual of what a shed antler will look like through a pair of binoculars. Your neighbors might think you’ve lost your mind, but who cares.
Using this little exercise is how I taught my boys to shed hunt. This practice session will allow your eyes and mind to process the texture, color, size, and contrast of an antler to its surroundings; making it easier to pick out an antler when legitimately shed hunting.
Shed Hunting Tips

2. Take Time To Pre-Scout

Since there are no guarantees when a buck might shed, the shed hunter is left in a dilemma. As bad as we want to ‘bust the brush’ and locate sheds, we must also recognize if we apply too much pressure on a buck before he has shed, there is a risk of pushing him off the property and losing the opportunity altogether.
Rarely do I shed hunt in wooded areas before March. This allows time to kill two birds with one stone. Prior to March I shed hunt open areas, walk fence lines and check out surrounding food sources while at the same time I’m scouting to determine where deer may be yarding. Pre-scouting also enables me to locate the most heavily used trails to and from food sources without applying unnecessary pressure on an already stressed deer herd.
Strategic pre-scouting will help locate winter travel patters in the particular area where you will be shed hunting at a future date. If you have snow, use it to your advantage. Snow can help you find where the majority of deer are entering food sources and traveling to and from bedding. Spending some time pre scouting will serve to your advantage when it comes time to go deeper in the brush.

3. Check Food Sources, Cedar Thickets And South Facing Hillsides

Now that bucks are in their home winter ranges, focus on finding where deer are feeding, bedding and transitioning to and from these key areas. Once you have located primary feeding areas, search by backtracking to bedding.
As much as food sources seem to be the starting point when shed hunting, they are not the only place to locate sheds. If deer have endured extremely cold temperatures, thermal cover will be at the top of our list when March arrives.
Thermal cover can include a cedar thicket, a pine grove, or anywhere a buck can get out of the wind, conserve energy and possibly find a place out of the deep snow. (We have recently been working on getting permission to shed hunt a very dense cedar thicket. It may require crawling on our hands and knees but I have a hunch we might find some sheds there.)
South facing hillsides are another winter favorite. Just the other day we saw some deer standing motionless on a sunny slope. Although the temperatures were below zero, the deer were enjoying the warm sun. Any southward facing point, funnel or small meadow will also be a place you’ll want to check for dropped antlers.
Also consider searching fence crossings, creek crossings and any place a deer might ‘jar’ his antlers will often yield good results. If you have access to pasture land, look for areas where the snow may be melting and the first signs of green appearing. Anywhere deer might graze on some green, even though it is outside their normal feeding area, is a potential area to locate sheds.
Whitetail Shed Hunting Tips

4. Keep The Sun At Your Back

Although cloud cover is preferred when shed hunting, on bright days try to keep the sun at your back. This will allow the sun to illuminate the antler and will keep shadows lying directly away from you.
If you own a pair of polarized sunglasses, take them along if the sun is shining. This will not only relieve the stress on your eyes, but will reduce contrasts and make it easier to spot a shed.
Keeping the sun at your back is also beneficial when glassing with your binoculars. An antler can stand out like a sore thumb if the light hits it just right. I remember when living in Idaho I took a friend shed hunting who had never glassed for sheds. After getting the sun at our back it was only a matter of minutes before I had glassed up a matched set of sheds on the opposite hillside—thanks to the sun and a little luck.
seven shed hunting tips

5. Use Your Binos Or Spotting Scope

It wasn’t until some patient Western hunters taught me how to glass effectively that I came to appreciate what you can see with good optics.
Never underestimate what a deliberate scan of a field can expose. Don’t rush it and slowly work your binoculars or spotting scope in a grid pattern. If in an area where you can scan a south facing slope with your bino’s, you will be surprised how much ground you can cover by sitting down and glassing. You might be astonished how well you can locate sheds with a little help from a pair of optics.
Always take your binoculars and use them to your advantage.

6. Don’t Look For Sheds

You’re probably saying, “Huh?” Let me explain.
When learning to glass through a spotting scope, an Idaho friend used to tell me, “Don’t look for a deer, look for a piece of a deer.” When looking for a shed it’s easy to have a preconceived idea what a shed will look like. You may picture it lying where you can see it in its entirety or at least see the majority of the antler. The temptation is to look for an entire shed.
It seems if I focus on looking for a ‘piece’ of a shed, I am much more successful at finding sheds. The majority of the time when I finally locate a shed, only a small portion of the entire shed was exposed. It could be buried in snow, tangled in grass, hidden in corn stubble, or partially concealed by undergrowth; sheds can virtually hide in plain sight.
Changing the visual in your mind to focus on looking for a smaller piece of the shed will help you locate more bone.

7. Walk, Stay Focused And Keep Encouraged

Although I begin every shed hunt with anticipation, I also wear comfortable shoes.
Depending on where you reside and the density of your deer population, shed hunting can require walking countless miles before you’re lucky enough to find that hidden treasure. Prepare yourself mentally and wear appropriate footwear.
shed hunting tips for kids
Spending all day looking for a needle in a haystack can be tiring. But staying focused on the objective is key.
When shed hunting I like to wear a ball cap and pull it down as low as I can. The bill helps me to keep my eyes on the ground and assists in my concentration. All it takes is a few moments of letting your mind wander and you can walk right past a shed. Whatever method you have to use to stay focused—do it.
Shed hunting isn’t for everyone. It’s not easy to have big hopes and then never find a particular buck’s sheds. But keeping in mind that shed hunting is a great time to enjoy the outdoors and have fun no matter the outcome will help keep you encouraged. Plan to stay all day, pack a good lunch and enjoy trekking in the outdoors.
Again, keep it fun and remember on March 7th to tag your shed hunting photos with #ShedRally.

Predator Rifle

Seven Tips For A More Accurate Coyote Rifle

Anyone who’s been toting a coyote rifle for any length of time has likely missed a shot. Unfortunately, it happens. Whether it was shooter error or equipment failure, the end result was a projectile that didn’t end up at its intended point of impact.
A few missed coyotes throughout the year may be considered normal, but consistent misses are not. So are there steps you can take that will improve accuracy and reduce shooter error—most definitely!
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Seven Tips For A More Accurate Coyote Rifle

Not everyone can afford go out and buy a custom rifle that’s guaranteed to shoot sub-MOA groups at 200-yards. Thankfully, when it comes to a coyote rifle, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to achieve accuracy. All it takes is some attention to detail and you can improve the accuracy of most any factory rifle.

Use Quality Ammo

No matter what caliber of rifle you choose for coyote hunting, most rifles will have a preferred brand of ammo. A rifle may shoot Hornady ammo better than brand B or C, or vice versa. Individual rifle accuracy is often determined by the rifle barrel’s rate of twist, the velocity of the ammo and the weight of bullet you choose to shoot.
Before heading into the field find out what ammunition your rifle prefers. Shoot groups at 100-300 yards and see how different ammo performs at different yardages. You may even try different bullet weights offered by the same manufacturer to see which one shoots best out of your particular rifle.
For predator calibers a few grains in bullet weight can mean the difference between an accurate rifle and a not-so-accurate rifle. Take for example the .204 Ruger. Some factory .204’s will not stabilize a 40-grain bullet, but will stabilize a 32-grain. Time on the bench is the only way to know what ammo performs best out of your rifle.
I’ve had very good results with Hornady’s Superformance Varmint ammo. This ammo has consistently been well within one MOA, has added a few hundred feet per second in velocity and is extremely lethal on impact. Hornady’s Superformance Varmint also seems to be in stock at most large sporting goods retailers.
Predator Hunting Rifle

Start Reloading

When trying to achieve the ultimate in accuracy for any rifle, there is no substitute for reloading your own ammo. The ability to tailor each load to its specific purpose and to the individual rifle is a definite recipe for downrange success.
Custom reloading allows you to try different load data in an attempt to find what load suits your rifle. Reloading also provides the opportunity to experiment with powder type, bullet brand, bullet weight, make of brass and primers. Details such as bullet seating depth can also be tailored to your rifles chamber. Without question, precision reloading will allow you to maximize the potential of any custom or factory rifle.
When it comes to reloading for predators, I’ve had excellent results with Ramshot TAC rifle powder and Hornady bullets. TAC offers good velocities, burns very clean and will allow you dozens of shots in between cleanings.
If you shoot .22 caliber / .224 bullets, such as is used for the .223 or .22-250, it will be hard to find a bullet as accurate as Hornady’s 53-grain V-Max. Not only does this bullet perform well on predators, this little guy has a ballistic coefficient of .290—now that’s impressive.
Reloading isn’t for everyone, but if you’re ready to take rifle accuracy to the next level, reloading your own ammo is the way to go.

Accurize Your Rifle

Most factory bolt-action rifles are built to satisfy the average consumer, but who wants to be ‘average’ when it comes to accuracy? So if you own a less than accurate factory rifle, there are a few things you can do that just might help its performance.
One of the first steps in accurizing a rifle is to bed the action and free-float the barrel. If you have the natural ability to tear things apart and put them back together, you most likely qualify to bed the action and free-float the barrel yourself. There are a host of YouTube videos that explain how to bed and free-float efficiently, and no, it’s not at all difficult if you’re careful and pay attention to the details.
If you’re not comfortable with the thought of bedding or free-floating your own rifle, take it to a notable gunsmith and allow him to bed and free-float the rifle for you. You won’t regret it.
The second thing that can be done is to lighten the trigger pull. Reducing the trigger pull from a factory ‘lawsuit proof’ 6-pound pull will increase your accuracy tremendously. Personally, I prefer no more than a 2-pound trigger pull on any rifle.
Some rifles on the market come from the factory with an adjustable trigger, others will need to be taken to a gunsmith in order to achieve a crisp and clean break. If at all possible I would strongly suggest allowing a competent gunsmith to adjust your rifle’s trigger pull rather than attempting to do it yourself.
Another step to consider would be to have a gunsmith blueprint your rifle’s action. This means truing the components of your action to their intended centerline. After a gunsmith gets done removing a few thousands on each individual component, it can make a noticeable difference downrange.
You may also talk to your gunsmith about re-crowning the barrel. If the crown of the barrel has even the slightest burr from the factory, or from misuse, your rifle will never achieve its full accuracy potential.
These small but significant steps will insure your rifle is as accurate as it possibly can be, which in turn will result in you possessing a greater confidence when shooting in the field.
Accurate Predator Rifle

Clean Your Rifle Properly

“My gun used to shoot 1” groups at 100-yards, and now I can’t get it to shoot a 3” group at 100-yards.” If I’ve heard that statement once, I’ve heard it fifty times. The issue can usually be boiled down to two things. First, the barrel is copper fouled. Second, there is a burr or nick in the crown of the barrel.
Copper fouling occurs when a soft copper bullet passes through the barrel’s lands and groves and leaves copper residue. Sometimes you can see the copper fouling by taking a light and looking closely at the lands and grooves just inside the muzzle. If you can visibly see copper in the corner of the lands, your rifle probably needs a cleaning. Thankfully, you can solve a copper fouling issue for around $10.
For over six years now I’ve been using a product called Wipe-Out Brushless Bore Cleaner to clean my rifles. Wipe-Out is low in ph and will not etch your barrel like some other bore cleaners and it’s self lubricating. Several times I’ve left it in over night with no issues. And I cannot tell you how many guys have used this product and had a rifle return to shooting sub-MOA groups.
The same company that makes the original Wipe-Out also makes a product for the AR platform called Wipe-Out Tactical Advantage. Not only is Tactical Advantage designed to be used like a conventional bore cleaner, it can be diluted with tap water, sprayed or dripped on the bolt and gas system. Simply let it stand for 10-20 minutes and wipe dry. It’s that simple.
If a good cleaning does not help your accuracy, you may need to have your barrel re-crowned. The crown is the bullet’s last point of contact before it heads to the target. If the crown has a burr it can make bullet flight irregular.
Have a trustworthy gunsmith look at the crown of your rifle barrel, and if needs be he can re-crown it. Protecting the crown of your rifle is very important. This is just one reason why you should never stick a muzzle on the floorboard of your vehicle where debris could possibly nick or burr the crown.
Coyote Rifle Optics

Don’t Skimp On Optics

Another item that will help your accuracy is quality optics. And while it may be hard to justify the expense of a quality scope, it’ll be worth every dollar in the long run.
Over the last twelve years I’ve seen multiple shooters buy two scopes when they started shooting predators—why? First, they bought a low quality scope because it was affordable. A few months later, after the low quality scope failed in the field, they ended up buying a second scope, which was better quality.
Obviously, I’m going to recommend using Vortex Optics. Vortex offers quality scopes in a multitude of price points, plus every product is accompanied with a VIP unconditional warranty. The Vortex Viper line offers affordable options in a multitude of configurations for all types of shooters. From long range, varmint or predator—Vortex has it all.
While you’ll need to choose a scope based upon your shooting style, little compares to looking through quality glass. From shooting in low-light conditions to nailing long-range targets, quality optics will make a difference.

Get Steady Before The Shot

Another important element when it comes to accuracy is the need to be steady at the time of shot. Whether you prefer shooting off a bipod or shooting sticks is up to you. I like to use both, but either way, you’ll be much more accurate if you have a rock solid rest for your rifle.
Products such as a Harris bi-pod or the Bog-Pod TAC-3s tripod will offer you more than adequate stability in the field. Both of these products will provide you with a solid shooting platform no matter the terrain.
The Bog-Pod TAC-3s tripod also offers a 360-degree swivel head and can be used to shoot in the prone, sitting or kneeling positions. With adjustable heights all the way down to 6” and up to 42” the Bog-Pod TAC-3s is a ‘must have’ piece of gear every coyote hunter should be packing.
Coyote Rifle Bog Pod

Spend Time On The Bench

Maybe this tip should have been number one, but just because it’s last on the list doesn’t mean it’s not of great importance. The age-old adage, “Practice makes perfect,” is true. There is no substitute for getting to know your rifle and how it performs at various yardages.
Time on the bench will teach you trigger control along with helping you get comfortable with your rifle. When it comes to accuracy, time at the bench can make all the difference when it comes time to make the fur fly.


While ‘accuracy’ is subjective, the overall objective is to have a rifle that is accurate enough to hit its intended target repeatedly and without fail. The good news is you don’t have to settle for anything less than what your rifle and you are capable of—accuracy is achievable.