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.
bowhunting the october lull

Don’t Get Lulled Into An October Lull

Whether the so-called ‘October lull’ is supported scientifically or only pragmatically doesn’t change one simple fact—finding mature bucks during mid-October can be a challenge.
And while mature bucks may not be capable of a mimicking David Copperfield, or his ability to make items disappear, they can give the impression of being the world’s best illusionists this time of year.
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Rising testosterone, changing food sources and the relocation to fall ranges can often result in what is termed the October lull. During this time sightings of mature bucks seem to decrease and hunters are tempted to believe the only deer on their property are anything but mature.

Don’t Get Lulled Into An October Lull

A lack of mature buck activity can be psychologically irritating. Sitting in a stand day after day with no mature bucks in sight can play havoc with a positive mindset.
In response to this frustration a bowhunter can be tempted to overreact. He or she can lose heart and begin to believe a well-planned hunting strategy isn’t working because, “…there aren’t any shooter bucks around here.”
But this is no time to develop a lackluster attitude.

Ditch The Attitude

Every winner knows game day is played in the mind long before entering the field. Winners also know better than to entertain a single thought of losing the game.
As bowhunters we need to be careful of allowing negativity to control our actions. A ‘there’s no bucks’ attitude can lead to carelessness. And carelessness can lead to your hunting season ending with an unfilled tag.
In contrast, embracing ‘a mature buck could show up any minute’ attitude might not make a buck appear out of nowhere, but it will help you stay focused on both the details and the goal.

The Details Matter

Our attitude often determines the outcome. And this certainly applies to bowhunting during the October lull.
During this time of year I’ve seen hunters develop a loser’s attitude, which resulted in them throwing caution to the wind. (Pun intended!) Out of desperation to ‘kill something’ these hunters decide to hunt when the wind wasn’t ideal. They started taking shortcuts back to the truck instead of using the most concealed entry and exit routes. They walked directly in game trails and left traces of scent for every deer in the area to smell. And instead of being stealthy while approaching and leaving their stand site, they were careless. All because of a ‘…there’s no bucks here’ attitude developed during the October lull.
Ditching what was a sound strategy because of a lack of big buck activity will only make the bowhunter his or her own worst enemy. And reacting with a down-in-the-mouth attitude can only accomplish one thing—serve to educate a mature buck and increases the odds in the buck’s favor.
Scent control, hunting the wind and being careful when going to and from your stand can prevent a mature buck from knowing he’s being hunted. Attention to detail is a must, even during the so-called October lull.
This is not the time to become lulled into forsaking the small details that can diminish risk and increase reward.
october lull tips

Snap Out Of It

If the October lull has you lulled into believing the worst possible outcome for your hunting season, get your head back in the game by reinforcing your strategy.
This has been a cool summer and as a result there is plenty of browse. There is also a surplus crop of hard mast this fall. Combining these two facts is an indication that as soon as the row crops are harvested, deer will have little reason to travel any distance to find an ample food source.
Potentially, does (and bucks) will be found much deeper in the timber this season. On one of our farms we are already seeing deer beginning to key in on hard mast. And this is happening in an area where there is plenty of standing corn.
We are seeing this happen on new property that features deep ravines and short ridges. As a result of both deer behavior, and getting the property shortly before season, we are studying topographical maps and satellite images to find every possible oak flat on the property. For in just a few weeks, I believe the oak flats could be key to us killing a mature buck.
Take this time of year to prepare, adjust if necessary and regroup. God forbid you have to move a stand, but if the does are relocating you’re not left with much of a choice. In a few weeks the bucks will be seeking doe groups and you want to be where those doe groups are.
While much can be said regarding the October lull, the bowhunter cannot afford to get lulled into believing anything other than a positive outcome for his or her hunting season.
Keep the faith November isn’t too far away!

2015 Elite Synergy

The 2015 Elite Synergy – Initial Review

The 2015 Elite Synergy was unboxed with a great amount of skepticism. Stripping the Synergy of its clear plastic wrapper and strategically placed bubble wrap, I stood staring at what Elite Archery president Pete Crawford says is the, “…smoothest drawing, nicest shooting bow Elite has ever made.”
But like a blind date off to a bad start, I was asking myself if Mr. Crawford was mistaken? Was the hype surrounding the 2015 Elite Synergy—gusto, gimmick or really genuine?
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The 2015 Elite Synergy

After installing a D-loop, rest, and sending a few arrows downrange, my opinion of the Synergy began to change. (So much for first impressions!)
Having shot the ever-popular Elite Answer, proudly owned an Elite Hunter, and current shooting the Elite Energy 35; the fit and feel of the Synergy suggests Elite took the premium features of each of these previous model bows and integrated them into the Elite Synergy.

Elite Synergy – Ultra-Smooth Draw Cycle

Halfway through the second draw cycle, I knew the Elite Synergy is destined to become a favorite among hunters and 3D archers. The new Synergy cam offers a silky smooth draw cycle that will have you shaking your head is disbelief. This cam also feels as if you never even reach peak draw weight before settling into a definite valley. Simply put, the new Synergy cam is exceptional.
Obviously the new Synergy cam continues to offer what Elite is known for—a draw force curve that provides less time at peak weight, a deep valley and solid back wall.
Matter of fact the shop manager ask me to put the very bow in mention in the hands of a gentleman—who out of curiosity—drove two hours to shoot the Synergy. After a few shots downrange and a quick explanation of its features, he ordered one. And he’d never shot an Elite before that moment.
If I were a betting man, I’d wager the Elite Synergy’s draw cycle alone makes it a favorite among hunters in 2015.
2015 Elite Synergy Review

Energy Series Riser

The 2015 Elite Synergy retains the identical riser that made the Energy series so popular. This riser design offers ideal geometry, which in turn delivers an incredibly stable shooting platform.
The riser is cold forged machined and provides superior strength and resistance to twist. Like its predecessors the Synergy riser also has an integrated Riser Cage, making it 30% stronger and 19% stiffer than a standard machined riser.
Earlier this year I took a photo of the Riser Cage design to a Rolls-Royce engineer who works in the development of defense aero-engine products. I asked if the Riser Cage would indeed increase strength and stiffness as claimed or was this simply marketing rhetoric? Without hesitation the engineer immediately explained how the riser design would increase overall strength and rigidity. (No gimmicks here!)
A stiff riser and an ultra-smooth draw cycle are the beginnings of a great bow, but there’s more.
Elite Synergy Initial Review 2015

More Than Numbers

For the hunter who desires the delicate balance of having a forgiving bow, longer brace height and enough kinetic energy to kill any big game animal, the Synergy offers all the above. With a 7 3/8-inch brace height and an impressive 325 fps I.B.O. speed, the Synergy provides the best of all worlds. (Elite makes no bones about the fact — they don’t chase speed — but 325 fps isn’t too shabby.)
And for the critic who is thumbing his nose at 325 fps, I challenge you to shoot the Synergy before you knock it.

Upgraded Bolts And Bezels

The 2015 Elite Synergy also comes with upgraded limb bolts and bezels. A much needed improvement over previous designs. This update allows smoother and easier adjustment of the bow’s draw weight.
This attention to detail speaks volumes of the company behind the redesign. There is no question Elite Archery has set out to make the best bow possible. And to do so, they refuse to get stuck in a rut or settle for second best.
2015 Elite Synergy Initial Review

Proprietary String Stop

Another upgrade on the Synergy and included on the entire 2015 Elite lineup is the proprietary string stop. This is another much-needed improvement. With input from Levi Morgan, Elite Archery has designed and molded their very own string stop. Gone are the days of the having a sting stop that was prone to rotation.
2015 Elite Synergy redesign

Pro Kote Protection

This year Elite Archery is offering Pro Kote; a ceramic-based, chip resistant, and non-reflective coating which is superior to all previous coatings. For 2015 this durable coating comes standard on all cams, modules, cable guard rods and limb pockets.
Pro Kote is a much celebrated upgrade and will undoubtedly increase the long-lasting performance of the 2015 lineup.

Winners Choice Strings & Cables

As with any bow, quality strings and cables make all the difference in performance. The 2015 Elite Synergy comes standard with Winners Choice strings and cables made of BCY-X. This is the latest in high performance bowstring material and provides durability, speed and stability.

LimbSaver Broadbands

For 2015 the entire Elite lineup has been upgraded with LimbSaver Broadbands. These limb-mounted dampeners have been engineered to function over a larger frequency range. LimbSaver has combining its NAVCOM ring and center dampener to produce the industry’s most efficient frequency absorbing limb dampener yet. NAVCOM rings are also replaceable and available in a variety of colors.
Elite Synergy 2015

Warranty And Guarantee

The 2015 Elite Synergy also comes with a transferable Lifetime Limited Warranty and the Elite Hunt Guarantee. If your not familiar with the Elite Hunt Guarantee, you should be. This guarantee insures that if you’re on the hunt of a lifetime and something happens to your bow and there’s no way to repair it locally, Elite will next day you a bow so you can finish the hunt. How’s that for service?

Synergy Summary

Shootability is and always has been the goal of Elite Archery. For 2015 that objective not only remains the same, but has been met in the form of the Elite Synergy.
While I’m still very impressed with the Energy series bows, the Synergy offers a package that is unarguably stellar. So, I encourage you to go shoot a Synergy for yourself. Guarantee you’ll be impressed.

  • Axle To Axle – 33 ½
  • Mass Weight – 4.4 lbs.
  • Peak Weights – 40, 50, 60, 65, 70, 80
  • Finishes – Ninja, Realtree Xtra, Realtree Max-1, Realtree APS

    Thank You

    I do want to thank our friends at Bass and Bucks for allowing us to unbox and demo the Synergy. Bass and Bucks is one of the largest Elite dealers in Indiana. They also stock over 800 new and used bows by 20 different manufacturers. Be sure to check out for all your archery needs or visit them in Wabash, Indiana.

    Stalking Whitetail

    Stalking Whitetail Among The Stalks

    When the weatherman said wind gusts were approaching 30 mph and coming out of a southwesterly direction, I knew my plans had been changed. Neither the weather or wind were conducive to sitting in the particular stand I had planned on hunting that evening.
    But why allow the wind to cancel a hunt? Why not stalk whitetail in the corn?
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    Stalking Whitetail Among The Stalks

    On windy days my father used to take his trusty Bear Whitetail and sneak through a corn field. I’ve heard his stories of close encounters and how whitetail seem to be rather unsuspecting when feeding in standing corn.
    With a perfect wind and plenty of time, I decided to use the same tactic. This would be the perfect time to combine a low impact scouting expedition and whitetail hunt into one. So we headed to a new piece of property in an attempt to ‘stalk whitetail among the stalks.’
    Stalking whitetail in a cornfield may sound crazy to some, but there is genuine excitement in stealthily making your way across corn rows knowing a deer might be only a few yards away. And while we did get within 20-yards of a deer, it was slowly walking away and did not offer a shot.
    (Sitting home mumbling about the wind won’t provide that kind of excitement.)

    Put Strong Winds To Work

    Standing corn offers a natural windbreak and on days when the wind is severe deer will often move deep enough into the corn to find both shelter and food. This offers the bowhunter a unique chance to stalk whitetail in the corn.
    When October winds change your hunting plans, resist the temptation to stay home. Use the wind to your advantage. While rustling corn stalks may make for a loud and irritating ensemble, they will cover any sound you make when moving through the corn.

    Go Slow And Pack Light

    With the wind blowing parallel to the corn rows, slowly move across the rows carefully looking for feeding or bedded deer. Remember to go slow and pack light. Traversing the corn rows will be much easier if you are carrying minimal gear.
    Deer often return to the same general area of a corn field. Once you locate sign of deer having been there previously, drop to your knees and look far down the row your in and into the rows beside you. Depending on how tall the corn stalks are, getting lower will usually allow you to see farther.

    Have Fun

    Not all memorable hunts end in bloodshed. And this particular hunt was one of those. Sharing this hunt with one of my best friends made it well worth the time and effort. We had a ton of fun and learned a lot about deer movement on a new piece of property.
    Have wind? Have corn? Try stalking whitetail among the stalks.
    Stalking whitetail in corn fields

    row crops and whitetail

    Field Crops, Row Crops and Whitetails

    Having been raised on a farm and in a farming community, field crops and row crops were always part of our family’s whitetail hunting strategy.
    Maturing row crops meant long drives through the countryside to see what deer were ‘in the fields.’ With a bag of Doritos, a few Cokes, and an old pair of binoculars, countless evenings were spent glassing food sources to see where bucks were feeding. And those childhood lessons continue to impact the way I hunt today.
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    Growing up around tractors, cultivators and combines has naturally offered a familiarity with alfalfa, soybeans and corn. Therefore I take hunting around agriculture for granted. But I also understand some hunters may not have had similar opportunities of hunting near these premier food sources.
    While not exhaustive, here are a few simple tips to consider when hunting over field crops and/or row crops this season.

    Field Crops, Row Crops and Whitetails

    Some studies claim over 60% of a whitetail’s yearly diet can come from agricultural crops. And since the data suggests field crops such as alfalfa, along with row crops such as soybeans and corn to be favorite foods — crop fields are one of my preferred places to hunt.
    field crops and whitetail
    While hunting in an agricultural area has benefits, hunters need to understand why deer may choose to move from one agricultural crop to another. This is an important element when attempting to comprehend why whitetail in an agricultural area may ‘be here one day and gone the next.’
    In early summer after the young soybeans have pushed their way through the soft soil, whitetail will be found eating these tender shoots. As the soybeans develop, large groups of whitetail will often be seen devouring the soft velvet leaves. But just as soon as the beans begin to die and a hint of yellow spreads across the soybean fields, deer will move on to more desirable food sources such as lush alfalfa or the exposed ears of ripened corn.

    Green, Yellow or Gold Can Make All The Difference

    Here in Indiana we are already seeing deer move out of some of our hunting areas due to the ripened beans. Thankfully, on one of the farms we hunt the soybeans were planted late. On this farm the beans are still green and the deer are continuing to find them palatable.
    soybeans and whitetails
    On another farm the deer are no longer feeding on beans and have moved into the golden corn. Fresh tracks and trampled corn stalks offer telltale signs as to what food the deer (and raccoons) are finding to be the go-to meal of the moment.
    These ever changing food sources can make for a frustrating chess match when trying to pattern a particular buck, but it’s a combination of strategy and patience that will win the day.
    If you’ve already positioned a stand in hopes to catch a buck moving from bedding into a bean field and the beans are already turning yellow, consider leaving it for later in the year, or move it to another food source such as alfalfa, corn or hard mast. If the deer have moved, then you need to.

    Corn and Timber Corridors

    With deer moving out of the beans and into standing corn, don’t overlook the natural corridors created in between the timber line and the first few rows of corn. Not only will bucks travel between these two landscape features, but these natural corridors will become home to scrapes and rubs. As long as the corn remains unharvested, bucks will also use the security of these small corridors when they begin to search for does.
    If you know of corn which will remain standing until late October, hang a stand a few yards off one of these timber/corn corridors. Field corners or a 90-degree meeting of two corridors are a favorite place for whitetail to enter and exit crop fields. Take the time to study these features and place your stand accordingly.
    And remember, these types of corridors are also great places to hunt during the dreaded October Lull.
    corn fields and whitetail

    Harvest And After

    Once beans and corn are harvested whitetail will return to pick through the stubble. If you can be in your stand immediately after threshing, you are very likely to see several deer eating the leftovers.
    Depending on when the crops were harvested deer will often choose to feed in bean stubble over corn stubble. Whitetails are known to pick through the scattered chaff like my kids pick the cashews out of mixed nuts. But as temperatures drop and winter weather sets in, deer will return to feed in corn stubble and on hard mast such as acorns.
    bowhunting soybeans
    If hunting during the late season and able to access a standing soybean field, by all means make sure you are set up on a main trail leading into that field. Beans will provide a late season smorgasbord for hungry whitetail; even if there’s standing corn nearby. Soybeans contain a considerable amount of protein and fat, and winter whitetails know just how much nutrition is held within those pods. During the late season deer will travel a considerable distance to eat the same beans they turned up their noses to in October.

    Learn What They Like

    While not all areas provide the same type of crops or exact amount of cropland, all deer have changing food preferences throughout the year. By taking the time to learn what a whitetail’s stomach and body are craving, you’re odds of success are sure to increase.
    Be patient, shoot straight and have fun.
    field crops and whitetails

    best bowhunting gear

    How To Choose The Best Bowhunting Gear

    Is there such as thing as the ‘best bowhunting gear?’ In jest I’d like to say, it depends on whether you’re speaking as a manufacturer, retailer, pro-staffer, or consumer.
    Okay, so that was a poor attempt at cynical humor. But, when recently asked for my interpretation of the ‘best bowhunting gear,’ the answer boiled down to four very simple points.
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    1. Quality

    Just because someone gets paid a bundle of money to say a product is qualified to enter the realm of ‘best hunting gear’ doesn’t make it so. I determine what bowhunting gear I use based upon my personal needs and the quality of the product offered.
    For instance, I’ve been using Havalon knives before Jim Shockey started promoting them. I would agree Jim has great taste in hunting gear, but the reason I chose Havalon knives is because they’re a quality product and meet my immediate needs. Furthermore, I’ve never had an issue with a Havalon product. I’ve found them to be of the utmost quality, so I’ll continue to use them even if Jim Shockey doesn’t.
    best bowhunting gear havalon piranta

    2. Company

    Behind every brand is a team. A group of people that develop, manufacture, and market products. When choosing a product my entire hunt may depend on, I like to choose products manufactured by people who are hunters and have the utmost respect for other hunters. This is not a ‘deal breaker’ but is something I keep in mind when purchasing gear.
    Let me illustrate. Just because there are optics companies making quality optics doesn’t mean they all understand the nuances of the bowhunter. One of the main reasons I use Vortex Optics is because the Vortex team is very passionate about hunting and the outdoors. This passion carries over into the products they offer and the service they provide.
    While ‘quality’ trumps ‘company,’ knowing who is behind the product does influence my buying decision.

    3. Warranty

    I also consider what type of warranty is offered with the product upon purchase. For example, besides being a reputable brand, another reason I use Badlands Packs is due to their unconditional warranty. The same goes for Vortex Optics VIP Warranty. How can you go wrong with a product that comes with an unlimited, unconditional, and lifetime warranty?
    Drop it, tear it, break it—and it’s covered. That alone is worth… how much?
    best bowhunting gear vortex optics

    4. Customer Service

    Everyone desires a hassle free experience should an issue arise with a piece of hunting equipment. While some might rank customer service higher on the list, the first three qualifications usually determine the quality of customer service offered by a manufacturer.
    When switching bow companies, one of the things that made Elite Archery so attractive was their Elite Hunt Guarantee. If something happens to my bow while on the hunt of a lifetime, Elite Archery will ship me the exact bow so I can finish my hunt. Now that is customer service offered by a team who understands hunters.


    Defining the ‘best bowhunting gear’ might seem subjective to say the least. But, this short list offers a few objective items to keep in mind and are what I consider to be the most important elements when choosing the ‘best bowhunting gear.’
    I hope this helps to answer the question at hand and trust each of you has a safe and blessed hunting season.

    scouting for whitetails

    Scouting For Whitetail ‘Through’ The Season

    The mention of ‘scouting for whitetail’ is likely to conjure up a multitude of ideas and interpretations. Every bowhunter has his or her strategy for scouting and depending on the type of terrain and whether the location is Eastern, Southern, Midwestern or Western, there are a multitude of methods that will work effectively.
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    Scouting For Whitetail

    Here in the Midwest where row crops are plentiful and woodlots are home to wary whitetail, ‘scouting’ seems to have a connotation as something that ends once hunting season begins. This idea is only partially true and here’s why.
    In a few short weeks most bucks will have shed their velvet or be in the process of doing so. This means the bachelor groups you saw in late summer will have broken up and become individual bucks establishing dominance and moving into their fall ranges.
    (This explains why you’re likely to have a buck you’ve never seen before suddenly appear out of nowhere and why a buck you’ve watched all summer may disappear. Keeping this in mind, this is a good time to move your trail cameras from field edges to funnels or staging areas.)
    Row crops and mast crops can also attribute to deer relocation. If white oaks are dropping or apples are plentiful, deer may ignore a soybean field. Deer that fed through the summer on green soybeans will move on to other food sources once the beans start turning yellow. Deer that fed on corn may move back to a freshly shelled bean field once the corn is harvested. Continuing to scout is the only way to keep up with the chess game of hunting these transient whitetail.

    Scouting From The Outside In

    Beyond understanding how and why whitetail bucks move to and from certain areas, there must also be some sort of vigilance in order to keep track of where a particular buck has relocated or will relocate to.
    While trail cameras are an asset to any bowhunter and serve as a valuable scouting tool, of equal importance is a quality pair of binoculars and/or spotting scope. When used in conjunction with your trail camera(s), glassing from a distance can provide you with details which will assist in pinpointing the exact location needed for stand placement.
    scouting for whitetails through the season
    Scouting for whitetail ‘from the outside in’ also helps to limit the overall impact made on your hunting area, along with providing valuable insight not available any other way.

    200-Inch Success

    Adam Hays III of Team200 has scouted from the outside in and with great success. Few bowhunters can boast of three 200-inch-plus bucks on their roster let alone other bucks topping 170-inches. Hays has a proven track record that scouting with binoculars and/or a spotting scope is a valuable method of scouting. Hays secret is to locate a trophy buck and scout him from a distance until he is intimately acquainted with that particular deer, its habits and movements.
    By taking the time to scout with a spotting scope or binoculars, Hays is also able to determine the wind direction, temperature, barometric pressure and moon phase that coincide with a particular bucks travel pattern. While most of Hays’s scouting is done pre-season, the same tactics can be used all through the hunting season.
    scouting for whitetails all year

    Just Sit And Watch

    Most of my life I have hunted in areas where row crops are the main food source for whitetail. Other than a few years in the West, the Midwest has been home. But even in the West I found whitetail will travel for a considerable distance to feed on alfalfa, garbanzos or lentils.
    Depending on when deer move into their fall ranges, and what food sources are available in your area, make it a practice to set up, sit for periods of time and glass with binoculars or a spotting scope during the season. Glassing can also be done during the rut when bucks are more visible midday. It seems like a simple strategy but it will pay off in the long run.
    In the picture below these bucks were glassed on bordering property we did not have permission to hunt on. Our trail cameras never did get a picture of either one of these cagey critters, but scouting from the outside in worked like a charm. Because we took the time to glass, we knew their general location and were able to plan accordingly. When the rut kicked in the 149 3/8ths 8-point in the photo came over on the property we did have permission to hunt—the rest is history.
    scouting for whitetail

    Look Hard And Long

    It’s important to remember when scouting for whitetail, that just because you don’t have 500 acres of soybeans or corn on your property, doesn’t mean you can’t locate what buck or bucks are within the vicinity of your hunting area by glassing fields, power line right-of-ways, or clear-cuts.
    The best time to glass these areas is during the early morning or late evening. And be sure to glass diligently and watch where the food source and thick cover meet. Bucks will often hang in the shadows, move at last light and use terrain features to remain less visible.
    scouting for whitetail tips
    During the rut be sure to glass for doe groups. Does will often seek out thick cover in an attempt to hide from frisky bucks. Once the chase phase kicks in, does can often be seen sneaking into food sources in the mid-morning in an attempt to have some peace and quiet at the breakfast table. Pinpointing the does location gives the bowhunter a better idea of what transition area a buck might use to access them.
    As season progresses and the weather turns colder, be sure to glass those south-facing meadows, hillsides and field edges. Bucks will often bed very close to food and can be found with a diligent scan of these often overlooked areas. I have also seen exhausted post-rut bucks hang near deserted barn lots or pastures. So be sure to glass in areas you’d least expect a mature buck to be.
    While it may seem like an impossible game of cat and mouse, taking some time to scout both pre-season and during the season can make all the difference when trying to harvest a mature buck.
    So dust off the lenses of your bino’s and feel free to let us know what bucks you glass up through the season.

    Early season bowhunting tip soft mass

    Early Season Bowhunting: Locate Soft Mass

    When rummaging through early season bowhunting tips, it doesn’t take much research to realize whitetail’s are the ultimate foodie. It has been said, “For over 90% of the year, food dominates a whitetail’s life.” This means one thing. Locating a prime food source (i.e., soft mass, hard mass, row crops, etc.) which is known to satisfy a whitetail’s cravings, is key to early season bowhunting success.
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    One of the whitetail’s favorite food sources during the early season is soft mass. In the Midwest this can include apples, pears, and berries. In the South, you can add persimmons to the list. Therefore, finding a source of soft mass for early season bowhunting can increase your odds by a landslide.

    Why Early Season Bowhunting Should Include Soft Mass

    In their book, Whitetails: From Ground To Gun, Neil and Craig Dougherty address the whitetail’s diet in a chapter entitled, What Deer Need. Here they explain why whitetail will ‘hone in’ on soft mass:
    “Actually, deer are what biologist call “concentrate selectors” which means they are very selective about what they eat, and when they find something they like (most nutritious and palatable), they concentrate on it; thus the term “concentrate selectors.” When the acorns are on, the deer flock to them like bugs on a porch light. They return and return until something more attractive becomes available or they clean them up. They select tender greens and forbs in the spring and shift foods with the seasons. A whitetail can get by on woody browse in winter but he won’t be eating much in the way of twigs and bark when tender young greens or berries or fruits are available. Whitetail evolution has left them with narrow snouts that are perfectly designed to pick up the most tender and attractive foods for their environment. They will leave clover and chicory food plots for acorns and often wont eat brassicas until it has been frosted a time or two. Like a person at an all-you-can-eat buffet, they choose what they crave and pass right by the other stuff.”
    And few food sources offer the whitetail more of a smorgasbord than soft mass.

    Locating Soft Mass

    The most obvious source of soft mass is an orchard, but don’t get stuck on thinking you need a few hundred trees to attract whitetail. Deer will travel some distance to feed on soft mass from a single tree.
    Soft mass can often be located in the most out-of-the-way places. Here in Indiana we’ve found soft mass on abandoned farms. While living in the West we located several old homesteads which had both berry bushes and apple trees. These hidden gems can be a magnet for whitetail and are often overlooked by other hunters.
    If you’re wondering where to set up for early season bowhunting, consider positioning yourself between bedding and a source of soft mass. You just might be surprised who’ll come in for dinner.

    365 Whitetail Giveaway

    The Bowhunter’s Bonanza Giveaway

    Here’s your chance to begin this year’s hunting season with a nice selection of brand new hunting gear.
    Starting today and running through September 30th, you have a chance to win the hunting gear featured in this giveaway. This giveaway includes products from Vortex Optics, Badlands Packs, Bushnell, Stic-n-Pic, Havalon Knives, Duel Game Calls, Scott Archery, Only Protein, DeerLab, Black Eagle Arrows, and more.
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    Here’s how The Bowhunter’s Bonanza Giveaway will work.
    Simply SIGN UP below, LIKE the Facebook page of each of these manufactures, and SHARE the giveaway on Facebook. (Feel free to SHARE the giveaway info from 365 Whitetail’s Facebook page or you can share it directly from here.) On September 30th one winner will be randomly selected to win ALL this gear. We want to make some bowhunter very happy!
    For detailed information on the individual products included in this giveaway, see below. You must be 18 years of age and live in the United States to enter this giveaway.
    a Rafflecopter giveaway


    1. Vortex Optics – 10×42 Diamondback Binocular & Vortex Camo Hat

    The Vortex Diamondback 10×42 binocular provides superior quality in a hunter 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
    Click here for more information on the Vortex Diamondback 10×42.
    vortex diamondback

    2. Badlands – Treestand Pack

    Known for their unconditional lifetime warranty and quality hunting packs, the Badlands brand is no stranger to the bowhunter. The Badlands Treestand Pack was designed, crafted and named for those who pursue their quarry from a treestand. I personally use this pack and love it. The treestand pack offers plenty of pockets and even has a ‘basket’ for convenient storage. See our review here: Badlands Treestand Pack

    3. Havalon Knives – NEW Baracuta Bone Saw

    Have you seen the new Baracuta Bone Saw? Talk about innovative! This (bad to the bone) saw is Havalon’s latest invention made specifically for the hunter-gatherer. Offering a proprietary blend of steel this saw is both strong and sharp. And just like the Havalon knives, the blades are replaceable. Cool stuff.
    Giveaway includes the Baracuta saw, two replacement blades and a nylon holster. Color is blaze orange. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed. For more information visit Havalon Knives.
    havalon baracuta bone saw

    4. Havalon Knives – Piranta-Bolt Hunting/Skinning Knife

    While I’ve been a fan of the original Havalon Piranta for some time, the new Piranta-Bolt features a stronger, thicker 60A blade and a much larger handle. Literally these knives are razor sharp, so once you start using a Piranta-Bolt, you’ll never use anything else.
    Giveaway includes the Piranta-Bolt, 12 additional blades and a nylon holster. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed.
    Havalon products are beyond good, they’re simply amazing.

    5. Bushnell – Trophy Cam Essential Trail Camera

    Bushnell’s Trophy Cam Essential 6MP trail camera has become a favorite among hunting enthusiasts. Featuring 32 low-glow LED’s, video mode and Field Scan technology, the Trophy Cam Essential provides both value and performance. Known for their quality photos, some lucky bowhunter is going to win a chance to photograph the buck of a lifetime.

    6. 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.

    7. Black Eagle Arrows – ½ Dozen Outlaws

    Black Eagle Arrows is taking the archery industry by storm. Although a new brand in the industry, the Black Eagle team is well experienced in what it takes to build an arrow that will perform beyond expectation. Offering surpising consistency and arrow accuracy, Black Eagle Arrows is receiving raving reviews among archery enthusiasts. And rightfully so. This giveaway includes ½ dozen Black Eagle Outlaws.
    Once the winner is announced, we will coordinate with Black Eagle so the winner can receive the correct spine. Check out Black Eagle Arrows.
    Black Eagle Arrows

    8. 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.

    9. 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.

    10. 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

    11. Dead Down Wind – 64oz Field Spray, 12oz Spray bottle, String & Rail Lube, and Face Paint

    This company needs little introduction. Known for providing quality scent control products, Dead Down Wind offers just about any product you would ever need in scent free form. This giveaway includes a 64oz bottle of Dead Down Wind Field Spray & spray bottle combo, a three pack of rail & string lube, plus Dead Down Wind’s new Face Paint.

    12. 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. Awesome product!

    13. Only Protein – 10 Protein Powder Sticks / Chocolate

    Perfect for the health conscious hunter who wants to keep a quality source of protein in his pack. Only Protein is free of GMO’s, Gluten, Chemical Additives, Hydrolyzed Proteins, Sugar and the list goes on. Not only does Only Protein offer top quality protein, but it taste great as well. Visit Only Protein for more info and additional products you shouldn’t live without.
    Only Protein Sticks

    14. Steve Sorensen – Growing Up With Guns

    Yes, he’s an an award winning author, but why would we give away a book entitled “Growing Up With Guns” in a ‘bowhunter’s giveaway?’ Well, because Steve Sorensen’s book isn’t limited to the subject of guns. This book contains a collection of meaningful articles any hunter will benefit from. To know more about Steve and his publications, check out The Everyday Hunter.

    15. Hawk Hunting Products – Tactical Tree Hook

    Just because I absolutely love these things, I’m going to throw in a Hawk – Tactical Tree Hook. If your not familiar with Hawk or their treestand accessories, you should be. Here’s a little more info on why I won’t be without a few of these Tree Hooks when I head to my stand.
    tree hook
    Thank you for participating in The Bowhunter’s Bonanza Giveaway. We can’t wait to see who’ll take home the mother load of hunting gear.

    strategy of staying out

    Minimizing Impact: The Strategy of Staying Out

    While the saying, ‘As happy as a bear in a honey bucket…’ might make for a GEICO commercial, few maxims can describe the anticipation with which a bowhunter checks his or her trail cameras. The thought of what could appear on an SD card will raise most any whitetail aficionado’s adrenaline level.
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    While pre-season scouting and the use of trail cameras adds to the overall excitement of what lies ahead and aids in knowing what deer are where, sometimes staying out of an area is the best overall strategy.

    The Strategy of Staying Out

    Bill Winke recently wrote an article in which he touched on this strategy, “You can’t tag a buck that knows he’s being hunted. The more you increase human activity in your hunting area, the more opportunities you give bucks to run into you or your scent and become cautious.

    After spring green-up, stay out of your hunting area until the day you hunt it so the bucks continue moving naturally. That makes them as vulnerable as they’ll be all season. Any scouting in their core areas just before, or during, the season gives them an early warning.

    Consider an in-season scouting method that relies heavily on homework. Spend time at the kitchen table looking at aerial photos and trail-cam pictures (from cameras you set on the fringes of your hunting area). If you don’t have a stand in the right place, wait until the time is right to carry in a portable stand to a better spot, set it up and start hunting. This allows you to keep your hunting area fresh while still trying new spots. I started hunting this way in the 1990s and have increased the number of big bucks I’ve seen. Resist the urge to roam.”

    Proper scouting is a must if wanting to harvest a mature whitetail, but equally important is knowing when to stay out for the sake of minimizing overall impact in a given hunting area.
    This year we have incorporated the ‘strategy of staying out’ into a few of our hunting areas. Most of these areas are funnels or pinch points. I know deer move through those areas especially during the rut. So what scouting we are doing is simply for the purpose of getting to know what buck(s) are in the area. Once we know a buck is in a given area, we have backed out and attempted not to pressure or leave human scent in that area.
    A friend and successful Indiana hunter has used this strategy to harvest mature bucks and with great success. This strategy was used in 2011 to harvest the 184-inch buck pictured below. In a recent email where Steve and I were discussing this strategy, he wrote, “I’ve been pretty fortunate to have hunted the same properties since I was a kid, so those properties I stay out of completely, other than checking cameras, as the deer patterns have been the same as far back as I can remember. When I do check cameras, I only check them every 2-3 weeks and some even longer. I can remember when I first started running cameras back in 2000, I would go out and check them every few days. Was like a kid at Christmas time!!! I’ve since learned to control my “urges” to avoid letting my presence be known.
    the strategy of staying out
    Even when I check my cameras, it’s treated as a hunting situation. Rubber boots are worn and I avoid contact with anything to avoid leaving scent. After checking the cameras, I will even spray them with scent killer before walking away. My wife thinks I get carried away with it, but I’d rather not take any chances. Just like in a trapping scenario, I don’t want anything knowing I’ve been there. I have had several people tell me they go in and out of their hunting woods either on foot or by ATV all the time. They tell me “The deer get used to it.” Yes, to an extent I think they will. Some of the younger deer may accept it. Those older and wiser deer, no chance. If I have a 5 or 6 year old buck running around that I’m hoping to get a crack at, I sure wouldn’t give him more of a reason to push out to another property or make him go nocturnal. The less of an impact to their surroundings, the more your odds will increase.”

    While curiosity can get the best of all of us, sometimes the best strategy is to do low impact scouting, then stay out until hunting season. And when season arrives, only go in when the conditions are perfect.

    Scent Control Tips

    Scent Control Tips: From Breath To Boots

    Proper scent control is a consequential element in the bowhunter’s overall hunting strategy. With a whitetail’s primary line of defense being its acute sense of smell, inattention to scent control is not an option.
    When attempting to have a close encounter with an animal that possesses nearly 300-million olfactory receptors, a variety of precautionary steps should be taken to reduce as much human odor as possible.
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    While there are dozens of soaps, sprays, deodorants and even ozone generators on the market today, having a consistent scent control regime can be more effective than trying to purchase the perfect potion which claims to result in 100% scent ‘elimination’.

    Scent Control Tips: From Breath To Boots

    Scent control begins by understanding that scent ‘elimination’ is impossible. We can’t bowhunt in a vacuum and our bodies are constantly producing some form of odor, so scent ‘reduction’ is the only realistic objective.
    Personally, I think of scent control like a process. A step-by-step regimen I follow before and during each hunt. While every bowhunter will have his or her favorite methods, here are the steps I take on a consistent basis.

    1. Hygiene

    Scent control begins by consistent and careful hygiene. While bowhunters may differ on their preferred brand of scent free soap and shampoo, choose scent free products that work with your pH level. Dead Down Wind’s Body & Hair Soap seems to work well for me.
    I make it a practice to shower before every single hunt. Post showering I use Dead Down Wind’s Odorless Hand & Body Lotion, which again seems to work well with my skin type. While not necessary, the lotion helps prevent dryness when sitting for countless hours in harsh winds and cold temperatures.
    After applying a scent free deodorant, I end my hygiene regimen by brushing my teeth with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. This combination is known to be an effective means of killing bacteria, and will also brighten your teeth.

    2. Breath

    A simple tip for keeping oral bacteria low and your breath fresh is to fill a travel size mouth wash container with hydrogen peroxide. I keep one of these in my pack and swish out my mouth throughout the day.
    I recognize that each detail of scent reduction is not big in and of itself, but when added to an overall scent control routine can make a big difference.
    scent control tips for bowhunting

    3. Layers

    After showering I make sure every piece of clothing I put on has been washed in scent free soap—from underwear to all outer garments. Again, my pick is Dead Down Wind’s Laundry Detergent. Some detergents have caused rashes or haven’t seemed to work as well, so I’ve chosen to use what works for me personally.
    The only time I’ll wear any of my hunting clothes out of the house is if it’s below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Only then will I put on a base layer before heading to my hunting location. Otherwise, I strip down to my underwear and get dressed once I arrive at my destination. (One farmer’s wife thinks we are insane, and yes it can be chilly.)

    4. Travel

    After getting dressed in scent free casual clothing I try to head straight out the door. My rushed departure is an attempt to prevent any household smells, such as the smell of breakfast, from hanging on my scent free clothing or person.
    I also avoid filling up my truck with gas while in route to where I’ll be hunting. It’s also best if one doesn’t stand near the vehicle’s exhaust and takes extra precautions to avoid any foreign odors which could potentially linger on clothing, hair or otherwise.

    5. Storage

    All hunting clothes, including my backpack, safety harness, and optics are stored in an airtight container. Once I arrive at my destination, I’ll remove my scent free clothes from the tote and put on my hunting clothes.
    To keep the tote scent free, avoid putting anything in the tote that might add odor. Also, try to seal it up as soon as you remove your clothing. I have taken dry leaves from my hunting area and added them to my tote as a cover scent, but that is the only odor I want in my tote.

    6. Sprays

    While in the process of getting dressed, I make it a practice to spray down with a scent reduction spray. Depending on the time of year, it may mean spraying down between several layers. If temperatures are near or below freezing, I try to mist and not over spray my clothing.
    My personal choice is Dead Down Wind Field Spray, but again, most hunters have a particular product they feel works extremely well.
    Ten Scent Control Tips

    7. Carbon

    When hunting in warm weather, scent control can seem almost impossible. You hardly get to the treestand and your sweating like a 15-year old on his first date. Because of this I like to use Carbon Synergy in the early season.
    Carbon Synergy is a blend of activated carbon and anti-microbial silver that can be applied directly to your body, sprayed on your clothing or you can dip your clothing in a water/Carbon Synergy mix and allow to hang dry.
    This product is not for everyone. It is black and leaves everything it touches darker in color. But, if you want a product that works—this is it.
    Before putting on my hunting clothes, I like to apply a thin layer of Carbon Synergy to my entire body. It is a little messy, but it works. Especially in areas that are prone to high levels of perspiration Carbon Synergy has made a big difference.
    Now, before you think I’m crazy, last year while hunting from the ground I had a doe come from directly downwind and walk three yards from me. Say what you want to, I’m a believer in Carbon Synergy and have made it a regular part of scent control.
    I also ‘dust’ the inside of my Muck Boots with Carbon Synergy. This product removes smell like nothing else. But, if you don’t like getting a little black, don’t try it. If you like getting close to dear, use it. Plus, it is very affordable and a little goes a long way.
    scent control tips for hunting

    8. Boots

    It seems one of the most overlooked pieces of gear when it comes to scent control is boots. It will do little good to spend time on soaps and sprays if your boots are tracking unwanted scent all the way to your stand.
    Your boots can hold scent for weeks, even months. Especially if you walk in any type of petroleum based product. To prevent leaving a scent trail to and from your stand, make sure you only wear your hunting boots in between your truck and the stand.
    I like to store my boots in a scent free bag. And I don’t wear them for any other reason but to hunt in. The last thing I want to do is track the smell of a gas station, restaurant, or my truck’s floorboard into where I am hunting.
    Simple Scent control tips

    9. Pack

    My hunting pack is also stored in a scent free container. Since it goes with me to the tree, I make sure it is as scent free as possible. My normal practice is to spray the pack with Dead Down Wind’s Field Spray before and after each use.
    If I place anything in my pack, such as food or otherwise, it will be placed in a Ziploc bag. This also helps to reduce any foreign odors while I’m in the treestand.
    I also take a small bottle of scent elimination spray in my pack and will spray down a second time when I get into my tree. If it is a hot day and I have been in the tree for some time, I will be sure to regularly spray my head, hands and hat with the Field Spray.

    10. Bow

    Don’t forget how much odor can come from a bow. Our bow should also be included in this list. I use unscented wet wipes or Dead Down Wind’s Field Wipes to wipe down my bow grip, arrows or any other areas that might have a human odor.
    I also try to use scent free string wax or lube in an attempt to limit any foreign odor. Again, will this one small detail make a difference? Maybe not! But, adding all these details together can only help lower my impact within the given area I am hunting.


    It may seem like a lot of work to some, but once you get in the mindset of following the same scent control regimen each time you head to the stand, these scent control tips will become second nature.
    As has been said many times before, the most important aspect of scent control is to make sure the wind is in your favor and to have hung your stand with that thought in mind. If you have any additional scent control tips, I’d enjoy hearing from you.
    Best of luck this season!