Category Archives: Bowhunting

anthony whitetail with a bow

Anthony Wrote, ‘No Bashing Please, I’m 14’

Anthony isn’t your typical 14-year-old boy—he’s a bowhunter from northwest Pennsylvania who enjoys spending time in the outdoors. Whether he’s chasing whitetails or groundhogs, Anthony can be defined as a true archery enthusiast.
Sadly, at only 14, Anthony is also well aware of the criteria set by keyboard cowards whose sole mission it is to bash anyone who kills a deer that falls under their minimum set of standards.
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Recently, Anthony posted a picture of his latest bow kill (and biggest buck to date) in a popular Facebook group, which caters to archers and bowhunters. The few words above his photo spoke volumes, “Oh, ya got a big buck. No bashing please, I’m 14.”

“No bashing please…”

As a father of three boys, the thought of those words infuriated me. No 14-year-old bowhunter should ever have to say, “No bashing please…” to a group of fellow bowhunters.
There’s only one person who sets the standard for what we kill—it’s the person doing the killing. To shoot or not to shoot should only be determined by the one (young or old) holding the bow. And only the one whose adrenaline is flowing gets to dictate if the antlers are ‘big enough.’
Anthony’s words made me wonder if we’ve placed more value on antler size than the sparkle in a kid’s eye? Those words also have me asking if we have become self-righteous antler elitists who can’t celebrate with a 14-year-old unless the kill is at least of Pope and Young caliber?

What would Fred Bear say?

There is one thing for certain—if Fred Bear were still alive he would be as enthusiastic about Anthony’s kill as if he had killed it himself.
And so should we!
May God help us to get off our ‘high (score) horse’ and realize what’s at stake here. The last thing we want to do is squelch a young hunter’s enthusiasm because their ‘trophy’ just wasn’t good enough to receive accolades. Our responsibility is to make sure we’re encouraging young hunters in every way we can.
Hunting is a tradition that must be preserved. But our attitude toward those walking in our footsteps can do just as much damage as those who are against hunting altogether.
Sadly, there have been other young bowhunters who were either embarrassed to post pictures in the same Facebook group, so their parents did, or they also have made comments requesting they not be ‘bashed’ for the size of animal they killed.
Am I the only person who thinks there is something drastically wrong if we are sending this kind of message to the next generation? It’s time we stop being ‘size snobs’ and celebrate with the Anthony’s of the world!
anthony buck

More About Anthony

At only seven years of age Anthony experienced his first hunt. Since then, hunting has become his life. Anthony says, “My life is hunting when I’m not in school. I have hunted everything in PA except elk.”
In a little over three years, Anthony has taken three deer—two bucks and a doe—with his bow. He also enjoys the challenge of bowhunting groundhogs. Outside of a few trout fishing excursions in the spring, Anthony is a bowhunter at heart. With his Martin Nemesis 35 in hand, Anthony is part of a group of individuals who live for the next close encounter with some of nature’s most elusive creatures.
Obviously, he’s not a young man who deserves to be ‘bashed.‘
I challenge you to leave a comment and let Anthony know you appreciate his dedication and enthusiasm for the hunting tradition. Let’s pass on a little of what those great men before us handed down.

integrity for antler

Prostituting Integrity For Antlers

The voice on the other end of the line shared news any passionate whitetail hunter likes to hear, “I shot a giant!”
Relating the story of a 211-inch urban bow kill, the conversation was centered around a memorable bowhunt. But the tone quickly changed when the question was presented, “Do you think I could get some sponsors from this?” It was immediately apparent, this phone call wasn’t about sharing memories, it was about self-promotion.
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A few days later the story took an unexpected turn. Word came through the grapevine the heavy-horned buck was not a free range deer. It had been checked in as one, but the buck had actually been shot in a hunting preserve.
Would the hunter make it right? Or would he try to hide his obvious misrepresentation? Much like the story of Pinocchio, the antlers were not the only thing that seemed to have grown into Boone and Crockett proportions.
After receiving a text message that read, “I need to talk to you,” the real story unfolded. “I’m sorry. I lied to you. I thought I had to kill a big deer to make it in the hunting industry. I shot the buck in a preserve, it was not fair chase.”
This whole story had been a 211-inch Boone and Crockett lie.
Sadly the young bowhunter also related how a ‘celebrity hunter,’ whose show is regularly aired on one of the ‘hunting channels,’ had done the very same thing in the same preserve.
And the point is this! We should never allow someone who has no integrity to devalue our own.
Although some time has passed, those words still echo in my mind, “I thought I had to kill a big deer to make it in the hunting industry.” And there are multiple questions that linger. So a young man prostituted his integrity for 211-inches of bone? He set out to deceive his friends and family in order to make a name for himself? But why would someone allow ego to steal their integrity?
While it’s easy to be critical of the hunter, these events ought to be a warning for each of us. A fresh commentary as to how it only takes one lie and trust is damaged. A summons for each of us to contemplate how long it takes to build relationships and how fast they can be destroyed. A fresh revelation to how many reputations are tarnished over a single deer.
Just one hunt, one arrow, one lie and then what?
May this story remind us, the true worth of a man is not in the trophies on his wall—it’s in his character. A character that refuses to be prostituted for money or fame. A character founded on principals that will not be sold or squandered. A character that values and guards integrity at all cost.
Hopefully our infatuation with big antlers has not devalued integrity to the price of a pen-raised deer?
All of us enjoy harvesting a trophy deer. But, let’s remember integrity is of more value than a set of 211-inch antlers.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? – Mark 8:36

whitetail and barometric pressure

Whitetail Movement And Barometric Pressure

It was only one o’clock in the afternoon, yet several deer were already feeding in the field. Seeing this unusual phenomenon I turned to my son and said, “It’s going to storm!”
Whitetail have an innate sense for knowing when bad weather is approaching. A couple of days before the weatherman predicts a drastic change in the forecast—based upon radar and weather models—deer already know. But how?
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If you’ve spent any amount of time watching whitetail, you’ve seen how deer respond to an approaching rainstorm or snowstorm. Whitetails are often seen feeding days in advance of a change in weather. And those well-versed in whitetail behavior believe deer are simply responding to a change in barometric pressure.

Barometric Pressure

Barometric pressure, also known as atmospheric pressure, refers to the amount of air pressure exerted by air molecules against the earth’s surface. Combining the force of gravity with literally miles of air molecules equals approximately 14.7 pounds per square inch of pressure at sea level. It’s the increase or decrease of this pressure that is known to affect animal behavior.
Meteorologists often talk of either ‘low-pressure systems’ or ‘high-pressure systems’ when referring to the weather. These terms simply refer to increased or decreased barometric pressure within a weather system.
If the air molecules above the earth’s surface are not as compressed, the result will be a decrease in barometric pressure. The resulting low-pressure system is known to usher in clouds, rain and/or snow.
After adverse weather moves beyond an area there will be an increase in the compression of air molecules, which in turn causes the barometric pressure to rise. A high-pressure system is often characterized by a combination of clear skies and windy or breezy conditions.

Warm And Cold

Another interesting fact concerning low-pressure areas is how they produce the weather surrounding the advancing storm. The counterclockwise circulation of a low-pressure area will result in cold air forming to the north and west, while warm air is formed on the south and east.
This explains why colder winds and temperatures can accompany a north or west wind. Remember this tip when checking barometric pressure and wind direction prior to a hunt.

Barometric Pressure And The Bowhunter

Whitetail are very in tune to changes in barometric pressure and the resulting atmospheric conditions. Deer will bed, feed and move according to if the barometer is ‘rising,’ ‘steady’ or ‘falling.’
Most hunters who have made a study of barometric pressure and how it corresponds with whitetail behavior, believe whitetail are more active when the barometer is either rising or falling and most active when the barometer is rising. My personal preference is to hunt a rising barometer immediately following a storm. I generally see more deer movement following a hard rain or right after a blizzard.
These observations also suggest deer activity is best when the barometer is 29.90 or higher. Ideal conditions are when the barometer is close to 30.0 inches, is rising and has nearly peaked. This is a recipe that usually results in increased deer movement—especially in bucks.
It would seem from collective observation, when the barometer is falling deer anticipate the possibility of weather impeding their ability to feed. This results in more aggressive whitetail movement as deer attempt to feed for preventative measure.
When weather such as a snowstorm or rainstorm is about to subside and the barometric pressure begins to rise, deer will again feed actively due to their lack of eating while they waited out the severe weather. While not comprehensive, hopefully this practical application will give you an idea as to how whitetail respond to changes in pressure and a few reasons why.
A whitetail’s response to barometric pressure gives the bowhunter insight into knowing how to plan the next hunt. With numerous weather related websites and weather apps to keep us informed, our chances of being where we need to be when we need to be there should also be on the rise.
While the barometric pressure is only one contributing factor to deer movement, it is an important element that should not be overlooked. With fall weather already upon us, use the barometer to your advantage.
If you have any additional tips or would like to share how you use barometric pressure when planning a hunt, please feel free to comment below.

using rain for scent control

How To Use Rainy Days For Scent Control

Not all scent control comes in a bottle. Believe it or not one of the best forms of scent control is what meteorologists call ‘precipitation.’ And while some bowhunters dread a downpour, others have learned to use a rainy day to remain scent free.
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Most hunters don’t celebrate rainy days. Just visit the local coffee shop during deer season. If it’s raining, the shop will be filled with guys who have already left their stand and are drinking hot coffee.
But with rain’s ability to wash away human odor, use those wet days to your advantage and put nature to work for you. And there’s a bonus—rain isn’t sold by the ounce—it’s free.

1. Check Trail Cameras

Rainy days are the perfect time to check trail cameras. With hunting season in full swing, the last thing you want is to leave any more human scent than necessary around your camera.
Rain will help wash away any human odor left on or around your camera, along with helping to eliminate any scent left along your entry and exit routes.

2. Wash Your Deer Decoy

With the rut quickly approaching, use a rainy day to wash your decoy. Simply assemble your decoy and set it outside where the rain can give it a bath. You can also use some form of scent elimination spray such as Dead Down Wind – Field Spray to assist with odor removal.

3. Deodorize New Hunting Gear

Whether it’s a new hunting pack, treestand or hoist line, most hunting gear has an odor when brand new. Set the new gear outside on a rainy day. You’ll be surprised how well the rain and weather will remove unwanted smells.
rain and scent control

4. Clean Your Boots

It’s no secret that rubber boots can get a little rank during early season. Perspiring feet and long hours in the stand can make for a smelly combination.
To keep your rubber boots scent free, simply hang them upside down and allow the rain and damp air to remove odors. You may also want to add a little Dead Down Wind – Boot and Storage Powder after they have dried completely.
scent control for boots

5. Move Your Stand

As bad as we hate to, sometimes it’s necessary to move a stand after season has already started. To limit the impact in any given area, move the stand on a rainy day.
Not only will the rain wash away odors, but the wet leaves will help you enter and exit the area much more quietly.

Use The Rain

Instead of mumbling under your breath about the foul weather, use the next rainy day to your advantage. Remaining scent free is a large part of being successful as a bowhunter.
Farmers can’t, but bowhunters can ‘make hay’ even if it’s pouring.

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!

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.