Category Archives: Deer Hunting

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.

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.

Backyard Buck Rinehart Target

Video: Backyard Buck Inspects Rinehart 18-1 Target

How else can you describe this incident, but with the word, ‘insane?’ While sinking arrows into the old Rinehart 18-1, I had an unexpected visitor walk right to the target and check out my shooting skills. This was totally unanticipated.

Behind the church we attend is a large area providing more than ample room to shoot my bow. Most of the time my kids like to join me in shooting their bows, so the large lawn offers plenty of elbowroom.
In the fading light I noticed movement under an apple tree at the back of the property. In a few minutes this curious ‘movement’ became the object of this video. Pulling out the trusty iPhone we attempted to capture the episode.
Obviously this buck wanted to know just how well I can (or can’t) shoot. Hopefully his body language and quick departure signal he was impressed with my accurate arrow delivery. Check out what happens next!
Who knew you could use a Rinehart 18-1 as whitetail attractant?
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Whitetails from Ground to Gun by Neil and Craig Dougherty

Book Review – Whitetails: From Ground To Gun by Neil and Craig Dougherty

Through collating more than two decades of whitetail hunting experience and innovative land management strategy, Whitetails: From Ground To Gun – A Guide To Growing And Hunting Mature Bucks by Neil and Craig Dougherty, provides an entire library of whitetail wisdom in a single volume.
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Although countless so-called whitetail ‘experts’ are writing books today, few can argue with the success of Neil and Craig Dougherty. Having created hundreds of world-class hunting properties, the resumes of these two men speak of mastery. Now through the pages of Whitetails: From Ground To Gun any hunter desiring to become more knowledgable about his quarry can learn from those who have become accomplished in the science and art of harvesting mature whitetail.
By narrating details from their own life the authors have done more than simply write another book around the subject of hunting. Presenting instruction in sensible fashion, Whitetails: From Ground To Gun offers a constructive two-part approach to whitetail management and harvest. No matter if your hunting property is leased, private, or public, within these pages the Dougherty’s take time to provide both valuable knowledge and countless tools for those wanting to know how to better manage and hunt mature whitetail.
The reader will find this book to contain a collection of proven hunting tactics, whitetail behavior studies, and tips for quality deer management that any hunter can benefit from. Whitetails: From Ground To Gun also includes both practical application and personal illustrations from veteran whitetail property managers Neil and Craig Dougherty.
Whitetails: From Ground To Gun should be considered a ‘must have’ resource for any die-hard whitetail hunter.

Chapter Overview – Whitetails: From Ground To Gun

Whitetails: From Ground To Gun is divided into two sections totaling twelve chapters. Filled with useful information, the Dougherty’s work is well rounded in addressing all aspects of whitetail hunting. Bonus photography from Charles Alsheimer provides numerous illustrations within this classic work.
Neil and Craig Dougherty whitetails from ground to gun review
Part I – The Land Connection

Chapter 2 – What Deer Need

Chapter 4 – Evaluating Property

Chapter 5 – Creating The Perfect Property
Part II – Mature Deer & How to Hunt Them

Chapter 7 – Whitetail Personalities

Chapter 9 – Getting the Rut Right

Chapter 12 – Herd Management & Harvesting Does

Book Excerpts

Chapter 2 of Whitetails: From Ground To Gun details the basic needs of whitetail. These needs are a fundamental yet vital part of understanding whitetail behavior and how it relates to the property we hunt.
(Excerpt) – Chapter 2 – What Deer Need
“Fundamentally speaking, deer are driven by the need to stay alive and the need to reproduce; 90% of their energy is dedicated to staying alive, 10% to reproducing. They can’t do either without food, cover, and security and this is what we look for in a hunting property be it private or public. One or two out of three doesn’t cut it. You won’t have good hunting if you can only offer deer food. What you will have is a bunch of night time visitors who spend most of the night feeding and hanging out on your property and are long gone by daylight. Combining food and cover is better but if your cover’s security is breeched every other day by hunters or ATV’s or even roaming dogs, it offers little to deer. Fundamentally, you need all three to find good hunting on any kind of land.” – Whitetails: From Ground To Gun – A Guide To Growing And Hunting Mature Bucks by Neil and Craig Dougherty – Page 30
Chapter 3 of Whitetails: From Ground To Gun provides valuable insights in how to evaluate the long-term potential of current or available hunting property.
(Excerpt) – Chapter 3 – Evaluating Hunting Property
“Deer thrive in quality “weed” fields. They eat the forbs, flowering plants and woody stemmed brush species and even some native grasses that grow along with broadleaf weeds. They regularly chow down goldenrod, ragweed, Queen Anne’s lace, and about 200 other variety of weeds. Bottom line, if it makes a flower or berry, deer will probably eat it. Whitetails eat weeds all the time, especially in spring and early summer when weeds are tender and nutritious. A good weed field has good nutrition (18% protein in some forbs) and is rich in minerals. Whitetail also use overgrown fields for cover and a place to raise their fawns.” – Whitetails: From Ground To Gun – A Guide To Growing And Hunting Mature Bucks by Neil and Craig Dougherty – Page 62
Chapter 11 of Whitetails: From Ground To Gun outlines the necessary elements every hunter must consider if he or she desires to harvest a mature whitetail.
(Excerpt) – Chapter 11 – Hunting Mature Bucks
“But not every hunter gets beaten, at least all the time. We’ve had our share of success on big bucks and plenty of hunters have had the same. If you’ve been skimming your way through this book and not paying attention to the embedded messages, you may be still looking for the part that tells you how to kill big bucks. Stop reading now, go back to the beginning of this book and this time pay attention. If you think being an effective hunter begins when you load your gun and head to the woods, think again. If you think it’s about the caliber of rifle you shoot, or what type of broadhead you use, you’re missing the point.

It’s about understanding deer and the world they live in…“ – Whitetails: From Ground To Gun – A Guide To Growing And Hunting Mature Bucks by Neil and Craig Dougherty – Page 206

Secure Your Copy

Whether you’re a beginner or advanced whitetail hunter, anyone can learn from the invaluable information provided between these covers. Starting today, you can secure your copy of Whitetails: From Ground To Gun on Amazon in eBook form for only $9.99.
Click Here To Purchase Whitetails: From Ground To Gun In eBook
Bonus Offer
Through 5/25, Neil and Craig Dougherty are offering a bonus when you purchase a copy of the Whitetails: From Ground To Gun eBook. Through this week only, Neil and Craig are offering their new condensed eBook Build a Better Property, Quick Tips and Tactics from NorthCountry Whitetails for FREE.
Simply purchase the Whitetails: From Ground To Gun eBook, then send your receipt to You’ll receive your complimentary eBook shortly.

hunting the wind prevailing

Prevailing Winds: Why ‘Hunting The Wind’ Begins Today

When most bowhunters talk of ‘hunting the wind’ they are referring to the hunter’s need to make sure he or she has a relatively steady wind, which will prevent the distribution of human scent in a direction that may alert the hunter’s quarry.
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What is often neglected when referencing ‘hunting the wind’ is taking into consideration how a mature buck may use the wind to his advantage when traveling to and from bedding or food sources.
And just because the wind is favorable for the hunter, does not mean it is favorable for a mature buck to travel in a given direction.

Whitetail Are Unlike Us

If my wife ever saw me stop, lift my nose and circle downwind to see what odors may come drifting from my bedroom – I’m sure she would be making an appointment with a psychologist. And I am quite sure if any of my friends watched me approach downwind and sniff before entering my favorite restaurant they would declare me certifiably insane.
As hunters, we recognize the ways of the Odocoileus virginianus do not resemble that of Homo sapiens. Whitetail survive by using over 297 million olfactory receptors – humans do not. When attempting to harvest a mature whitetail these behavioral characteristics must be taken into consideration before hunting season arrives. Planning an overall strategy begins when scouting new or existing hunting property.

Off Season Scouting And Prevailing Winds

Shed hunting and spring turkey hunting not only allow time to locate bones and beards, but also provide time to scout for the upcoming season. From these scouting efforts we can form a strategy and within the strategy needs to be the understanding of prevailing winds.
No matter what state or county you may hunt in, each particular hunting area has a prevailing wind. Prevailing wind is defined as the wind direction with the highest percent of frequency within a given area.
Meteorologists record this data by using a Wind Rose such as can be found on This data also provides the months in which these winds are most prominent.
But, it’s not only meteorologists who know what direction the wind normally comes from, so do the deer.
With almost 60 times more olfactory receptors than a human, deer use their unique ability to smell to aid in their survival. To deer, a steady wind is a close friend who warns of danger within a given parameter. This is why most mature bucks will travel into or at a 45-degree angle to the wind. The wind provides them with details of who and what lies ahead of their current location.
It’s a well-known fact that a buck will use the wind to check the security of a food source or bedding area before exposing himself to the unknown. Even circling around the bedding area in a semi-circle / j-hook in an attempt gather as much data possible before deciding to bed. The key is for the bowhunter to use these behavioral characteristics to his advantage.
During pre-season or post-season scouting, the tendency is to look for stand placement based upon wind direction that solely benefits the hunter. But in reality, stand placement should be based upon both travel characteristics of the deer and the best possible position for the hunter.
Tools such as Deer Lab’s trail camera photo management software will help you understand how a particular buck may be using a particular wind to travel. These types of tools are invaluable when pinpointing perfect stand placement.

Connect The Dots

When analyzing trail camera photos, travel corridors, bedding and food sources, use online wind records to verify the best place to hang a stand based upon how a buck is or will travel according to what the wind is telling him. Also consider when the rut begins, how will prevailing winds affect a buck’s ability to check scrapes from a downwind vantage point or hone in on a doe in heat within a particular area.
While pre-season scouting take time to consider all of these variables. Remember, a prevailing wind direction may be suitable for the hunter to hunt a particular treestand and at the same time not be ideal for a mature buck to travel within bow range of that setup. Hunting the wind isn’t only about you.
Let’s Illustrate.
In the photo below you will notice the stand location is marked by a green X. The prevailing winds are marked by a yellow arrow and WSW. The main deer trail and general travel pattern are marked by a red line. What is not visible is a creek that runs on the west side of the main trail. These terrain features, combined with the prevailing winds, provide a narrow funnel in which the deer travel.
Hunting The Wind
The stand is then placed to where the scent is blowing downwind of or over the deer (depending on where the deer travel) and the hunter is within close proximity for a bowshot. Having hunted this pinch point for a couple of years now, I can confirm the deer travel through this corridor, heading to a much larger woodlot – while using the wind to their advantage.
These types of setups also allow the hunter to access the stand without alerting deer to his or her location.

The Wind Is Always Part Of The Equation

Much emphasis is made during this time of year concerning rubs, sheds and beds, but if you’re hunting a mature buck, take the time to think about ‘hunting the wind’ even in pre-season scouting.
Much more could be said about wind speeds, barometric pressure, weather, and how they all work together, but we’ll save that for a later date. Do your homework and when season rolls around, you’ll consider the wind your friend.

moments with six shooter mark kenyon

eBook Review: Moments With Six Shooter by Mark Kenyon

Mark Kenyon’s soul is the palette and each page a canvas. More like an artist than an author, Kenyon depicts three years of close encounters and countless memories in his quest for a buck named Six Shooter. Moments with Six Shooter is more than just an author reminiscing, it is a colorful portrayal the reader can reach out and touch.
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Kenyon’s pen will take you through a gallery of poignant scenes. You may find yourself laughing one moment and questioning life’s deeper meaning the next. Laced with philosophy, strewn with humor and immersed in raw emotion, Moments with Six Shooter can only be described as a modern day epic penned from the heart of a hunter.
Look close and Kenyon’s own portrait can be seen in the form of the questions he asks. Such as: “…why it is that I hunt?” These and other practical questions will challenge the reader to think, not just about Kenyon’s three-year quest, but the hunter’s way of living, the food we eat, and how we are to reconcile our passion as hunters with the bigger picture.
Moments with Six Shooter can be summed up in three words. Brilliant. Impressive. Striking.
In vivid and graphic detail this book will leave you realizing life itself is an incessant quest. To acquire Moments with Six Shooter in eBook form click here.
“More times than not, the hunting stories we hear are nothing more than a glorified beginning and end, with a few descriptive details or characters tossed in along the way for good measure. A few walks into the woods, a long wait, and then finally a fallen animal on the ground and a smiling hunter behind it. If we’re honest with ourselves though, we know that wasn’t all there was to the story.”Moments with Six Shooter, by Mark Kenyon

Post Season Deer Survey

Trail Camera Tips For Post Season Deer Surveys

Post-season deer surveys can bring a mixture of anticipation and trepidation. The unknowns surrounding which deer survived hunting season and which deer didn’t can create immeasurable curiosity. Especially when you have intimate knowledge surrounding a particular buck.
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When a hit list buck disappears for a few months it can create a mental tug-of-war between hoping for the best-case scenario and sorting through the worst. Yet, most hunters would agree that little compares to seeing that buck you thought was gone, suddenly appear in a post season trail camera photo – it’s as if he has come back from the dead.
Now that bucks are in their home winter ranges and deer are concentrating on food sources, post season is the time to strategically place trail cameras before bucks drop their antlers. According to Lindsay Thomas Jr., editor of Quality Whitetails and Director of Communications for the QDMA, “A trail-camera survey – put simply – is the most powerful herd monitoring tool you can use that doesn’t require the assistance of a professional wildlife biologist. On your own, you can estimate deer density, sex ratio, buck age structure, fawn recruitment and more – tons of information that will guide you in achieving Quality Deer Management success where you hunt.”
Here are a few simple tips to help you conduct a post season deer survey.

1. Locate Prime Food Sources

Much like pre-season where food was the ‘go-to’ for locating mature bucks, similar tactics are used when conducting a post season survey. With colder temperatures, snow accumulation and depleted testosterone, mature bucks are in survival mode and are driven by appetite.
If baiting isn’t an option then choose a survey site based upon prime food sources. These can include food plots, bean stubble, cut corn, winter wheat, or mast crops in areas where row crops are not an option. If hunting near residential areas, locate places where the snow has less chance of accumulation and deer are feeding on remnants of green—you might be surprised what you’ll find there.
Residential lawns that were irrigated late into the fall often attract deer and can offer a unique late season food source. Deer are known to resort to unlikely places when trying to fulfill a winter appetite. So, depending on where you hunt, think outside the box when it comes to food sources.

2. Use Bait Or An Attractant

Depending on where you reside, baiting or supplementing a pre-existing food source may not be an option. If baiting is legal in your state, it is the recommended way to conduct a post season deer survey. Shelled corn can be used as the preferred bait or attractant, but there are other available options from manufacturers of specialized deer feed.
If you prefer not to bait, you can supplement a pre-existing food source with some form of attractant. Options could include attractants such as Big & J’s BB2 or other mineral supplements that are similar.
One of our favorite tactics for post season deer surveys is to incorporate some form of generic goat feed into the bait or around the bait site. This type of feed is usually laced with molasses and serves as an attractant due to its strong odor. Although it is used sparingly and not used as primary bait, it serves to draw deer from a considerable distance. Adding some form of attractant will quickly draw deer to the location you wish to photograph for your survey.

3. Strategically Place Cameras

According to the QDMA, one camera can sufficiently survey 100 acres if baited properly. If conducting a survey using a pre-existing food plot or other type of food source, placing additional cameras would be recommended.
When planning where to hang your trail camera and establish your survey site, strategically locate the best possible location by using terrain features, travel corridors and bedding areas. Take the time to study topographical maps so as to adequately execute a plan of action based upon known deer movements and habitat.
post season deer surveys
In a post season deer survey, you want to be able to adequately judge the age and maturity of the bucks in your photographs. Over the years we have found that when baiting, if a mature buck does not have adequate cover or feels vulnerable, you may only catch a slight glimpse of him. When conducting a post season survey, it is best to locate your camera, bait or attractant in an area that is thick enough to provide a sense of security for a mature buck.

4. Orient Camera And Remove Obstructions

Depending on the camera’s field of view, hang your trail camera approximately 12-15 feet from the food source. If hanging it over bait or an attractant, make sure the bait is centered in the camera frame. When locating your camera near a pre-existing food source, locate the camera where you are most likely to photograph deer entering or exiting the area. If you are hanging a camera near a heavy traffic area, such as a game trail, mount the trail camera at a 45-degree angle to the trail. This will provide a wider field of view and allow more opportunities to catch deer moving to and from the area.
Whether overexposed, not enough exposure, too much flash, not enough flash, or some obstruction in front of the camera, few things are more frustrating than a photo of a mature buck that didn’t turn out well. The first step in avoiding this kind of disappointment is to make sure your camera is oriented North when fastening it to the tree or camera mount.
After mounting your camera northward over the bait, use a pair of lopers, pruners or a saw to clear away limbs and undergrowth. Make sure to check for low hanging limbs or small stalks of grass that can trigger a trail camera on windy days. Taking the time to make sure your camera is set up correctly will pay big dividends.

5. Survey And Dream Of Next Season

Statistics show that monitoring an individual bait site for 15 days can provide adequate deer survey results for 100 acre plots. More time may be required if monitoring a food plot or traffic areas to and from a food source. After the necessary time has expired, collect your images and collate the data by reviewing your trail camera photos. This will allow you to take a count of what bucks, does, yearlings and fawns you have on your property.
Remember to use adequate scent control and if the weather is bitter cold, replace your batteries as needed. If you have large numbers of deer around your survey site, use suitable SD cards with adequate memory.
Once you have run the survey, here is a helpful article and computation form provided by the QDMA that can help you calculate your buck to doe ratios.
Our friend Cody Altizer has also shared some perspectives on conducting a post season survey. You can find that information by clicking here. Using Trail Cameras for Late Season Inventory
You may also want to consider organizing or sharing your trail camera photos by using the services provided by Deer Lab. Deer Lab is a trail camera photo management platform that allows you to store and filter photos based upon weather, moon phase, barometric pressure, wind direction and so forth. This platform also enables you to sort statistics by individual deer giving you an overview of what the wind, moon or temperature was like when a certain deer showed up.
Have fun conducting your survey and if you have any other deer survey tips, please feel free to share them with us.

Tag Soup Recipe

In Retrospect: A New Recipe for Tag Soup

Any and all recipes for Tag Soup remain hidden in the darkest recesses of the recipe box. Along with things we ‘might’ eat if starving; like aunt Mable’s slumgullion, grandma’s Brussels sprouts and uncle John’s goose liver, Tag Soup is lumped in with all the other unpalatable plates—better to hide it.
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Front row seats in the recipe box are reserved for items like Bacon Wrapped Backstrap, Marinated Tenderloin, and Slow Cooked Venison Roast. Those are the dishes whose recipe cards are dog earned, stained and well worn.
After taking some time to reflect on this years hunting season, I donned an apron and decided if I had to cook Tag Soup, it might as well be fixed to perfection. Rummaging through cognitive cabinets I found some overlooked seasonings and mixed up a culinary variation that made those unnotched tags a little easier to swallow.
You will need:
• A smidgen of memorable experiences
• A pinch of perspective
• A dash of positive attitude
• A hint of faith

1. Mix Memorable Experiences With Perspective.

To some hunting is all about the kill, but anyone who has spent time in a treestand or on a mountainside will soon recognize there is more to hunting than downing an animal. The memories made in the outdoors can’t be displayed on a wall, but they can be hung in a heart.
Whether awestruck by a starlit sky, mesmerized by the beauty of a sunrise, fascinated by a sudden storm or enjoying the performance of a fawn romping in the field, these are the incidents that shape a hunter’s perspective.
Beyond the reach of city lights and away from our concrete jungles, nature shares riches which cannot be described by pen. These are the experiences nature affords to those who are willing to journey beyond their own comforts, limitations and imagination. The treasures found in the outdoors are meant to be pondered, contemplated, lived, and shared around campfires for a lifetime.
Even when you can’t score antlers, it doesn’t mean there are no trophies.
Mix experiences and perspective well.

2. Combine Mixture Of Perspective With A Positive Attitude.

“Dad stop! Look at all the stars!” The father obeyed, and while the stars blazed overhead two boys and a dad stood gazing at the sea of glittering light. At that moment nothing else mattered. For the father it was confirmation his boys were learning to see more than just the path back to the truck.
As their stargazing ended and they made their way in the darkness, the middle son exclaimed, “Thanks for taking us hunting, Dad!” Whispering in the darkness all three realized this moment was part of a journey we call hunting.
Although I wish this season had ended differently, overall this was the most enjoyable season to date. My boys and I made indelible memories that we are still relishing in. We have had life changing conversations that none of us will forget. We have all learned lessons that will forever mold our character. We have laughed at our mistakes and each other. We have shared in untold emotions—from elation to frustration.
All the while spending time together in picturesque places where there are no remote controls, electrical outlets or TV screens. It’s all about perspective!
Combine perspective with a positive attitude. It makes Tag Soup a little more palatable.

3. Blend Your Perspective And Positive Attitude With Faith.

The bible says, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” and although 1 Corintians 5:7 was not written in the context of hunting, it is applicable.
No matter the outcome the hunter must aggressively continue on this journey conscience of the fact—there are no guarantees. No amount of practice, perfection or patience can assure us of a notched tag. Every hour of practice is done in faith, every stand hung is hung in faith, and every state hunted is hunted in faith.
So we blend our perspective, positive attitude and faith—and keep believing. We walk by faith.
Garnish your Tag Soup with a sense of humor. Enjoy!

Late Season Sanity

5 Simple Steps To Keeping Your Late Season Sanity

It sounded like a cross between a Pterodactyl and coyote howl. Hearing but not understanding my disoriented mind was asking, “What is that noise?” What was this incessant racket right beside my head? Why wouldn’t it stop?
Suddenly in the other ear I heard my wife say, “Randy, shut off that alarm!”
As if in some kind of a trance, I wondered why on earth the alarm was set for 4 am. At the same time I was wondering, “…where am I?”
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Many mornings during the late season I’ve woke up in such a fog I had no earthly idea where I was. As the sleepiness fades I’ll slowly figure out if I’m at home or away on a hunt. It sounds humorous, but to those of you who know how taxing a long hunting season can be, it’s a reality.
With a lack of rest, the need of vitamin D, and low levels of serotonin, our bodies can make us feel like we’re on the verge of loosing our mind. The mental and physical drain from hunting days on end can leave one questioning his or her own sanity.
When we continually demand our bodies do the unordinary, we create a physical cocktail that can contribute to us getting fatigued and frustrated more easily. Especially, when pushing ourselves beyond the normal in an attempt to avoid the taste of tag soup. This accumulation of stress can begin to affect our overall performance and moods. Yet, as the ultimate predator, we need to be at peak performance when under pressure.
Across the years I have learned a few pointers that I apply when hunting late season. There are no silver bullets or magic potions, but these tips have helped me keep an edge in spite of feeling totally worn out.

1. Focus On Proper Nutrition

When we’ve shivered all day in the cold, a Big Mac and large order of fries sound good to a numb mind and cold body. Hungry and craving carbs, the first mistake we often make in the late season is how we fuel our bodies.
When hunting in cold temperatures for extended periods of time, your metabolic rate increases. Meaning, your body burns more calories in order to stay warm. Your body also knows when you’re feeling cold that eating creates thermogenesis (heat production) or a warming effect.

Thirty minutes to an hour after you eat your body will generate 10% more heat.

Making it a practice to eat healthy in the late season will give your body the nutrients it needs to push through those weary days. What you eat for breakfast, pack in your lunch and snack on, can make all the difference in how you feel at the end the day. Food is fuel.
Trade those sugary snacks for some walnuts, almonds or sunflower seeds. Nuts contain quality protein, essential fats and will provide your body with quality fuel. Prepare nutritional snacks by pre pealing some oranges, slicing a few apples or choosing a preferred fruit to snack on throughout the day. Dried fruit mixed with nuts is also a quality option.
A candy bar may suppress your cravings, but taking in simple sugars will only make you feel good for the moment. Once your body is flooded with insulin, you’ll feel worse than if you hadn’t eaten that sugary snack at all. Push the Snickers aside and eat something that will have all day benefits.
You should also take in proteins from eggs, chicken or fish, even when your taste buds are screaming for a greasy hamburger. Our taste buds will try to tell us differently, but a Wendy’s hamburger has little nutritional value when it comes to replenishing what our bodies need during a late season hunt.

2. Remember Adequate Hydration

For some strange reason we tend to think that we need more water in the summer than winter. But, winter hydration is equally as important in preventing muscle fatigue and retaining mental acuteness.
When spending extended periods of time in the cold, blood vessels constrict in order to conserve heat and help maintain your core body temperature. To compensate for an increase in blood pressure, your kidneys will produce more urine than normal. An increase in urine production means a greater need for hydration.
Our bodies also have to warm up the air we breath to equal that of our core body temperature. This is the reason our winter exhalations look like steam. Due to the extensive evaporation caused by our breathing process, it is estimated that we can loose between one to two liters of fluid a day from breathing extremely cold air.
We often judge our water intake by whether or not we feel thirsty. But, just because you don’t feel thirsty doesn’t mean your body isn’t in need of adequate fluids. Measure your daily water intake by your body weight requirements, not your senses. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least half your body weight in fluid ounces on a daily basis. If you can’t stand the thought of drinking cold water when temperatures are freezing cold, carry a small thermos that contains warm water or hot green tea.
Proper hydration plays a key role in mind and muscle functions. Staying hydrated will help you stay focused when crunch time arrives.

3. Take Vitamin D3 And B12 Supplements

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that we normally receive from adequate sunlight. Short days and lack of sunshine can contribute to a vitamin D deficiently during the late season. This in turn results in a lack of energy and even depression.
If feeling extreme fatigue during the late season, take a vitamin D3 supplement. Due to our bodies absorbing sunlight better than a supplement, I prefer to take a 1000IU capsule during December and January. As crazy as it sounds, this tiny capsule has made a huge difference in helping to preserve my sanity and energy when hunting late season.
Vitamin B12 is another natural energy enhancer that helps in retaining stamina, improving moods and increasing energy levels. I have been taking B12 for several years now and it is especially helpful during the winter months. B12 is an essential supplement for achieving your optimum potential and unlike D3 can be taken year round.
Supplementing your vitamin D3 and B12 intake during the late season will definitely help to keep you feeling sane plus stabilize your energy levels.

4. Limit Your Caffeine Intake

When it’s cold outside there’s little that compares to a hot cup of coffee. I know what you’re thinking and I didn’t say go without coffee. But if you’re struggling to stay warm and keep a stable frame of mind, it might be best to limit your caffeine intake.
Caffeine can act as a vasoconstrictor; meaning excessive caffeine decreases the diameter of your arteries and increases blood pressure. Limited doses can promote vasodilation, but when sitting for hours in the extreme cold, your blood vessels are already constricting to preserve heat. Too much caffeine accelerates vasoconstriction, which leads to decreased blood flow and cold extremities. And I’ve never found anyone who can stay in a good mood when hunting with cold hands and feet.
Most importantly, caffeine suppresses serotonin. If you’re not familiar with serotonin you should be. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found in the GI tract and central nervous system. It is connected to feelings of well-being and is known as the happiness hormone. Serotonin helps to regulate physical functions such as energy, emotions, mood, sleep, appetite, muscle contraction and so forth.
During the winter months serotonin levels are at their lowest. Some claim this is a contributing factor to what is often called “cabin fever.” To keep your mood up and attitude positive, limit your caffeine and ward off the late season blues.

5. Get Some Rest

Yeah, right! Who gets rest during the late season?
Sleep deprivation affects each of us differently. Some get sick, others get irritable and others just have low energy levels. It is tough to find time to rest during hunting season, but it’s a must. Even a couple additional hours of sleep can boost your immune system, increase stamina and reduce stress.
Personally, power naps are a lifesaver when I start feeling totally wiped out. Even a quick 10-minute nap can give me enough of a charge to carry on the rest of the day. This may not work for everyone, but rest is a necessity for peak performance.
Sitting in the freezing cold for hours on end isn’t for everyone. But for the diehard hunter who refuses to give up, these are a few tricks that will help you be at your best right up until the moment you either notch your tag or hunting season ends. Stay positive and best of luck.

bowhunting deer

5 Reasons Why It’s Not ‘Just’ A Doe

Like most whitetail addicts, our family enjoys scouting for, seeing and hunting mature whitetail bucks. Therefore, we prepare all year just to have an opportunity to harvest a whitetail with a respectable set of antlers. Because of our desire to harvest something with bone on its noggin, we’re in the habit of saying, “it’s just a doe” after the successful harvest of a whitetail whose sex isn’t of the male gender.
So, after my son harvested a doe last weekend, “just a doe” was on the tip of my tongue when suddenly it occurred to me — it’s not “just a doe.”
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It’s Not Just A Doe

With the whitetail rut in full swing, every bowhunter hopes this time of year will offer him or her the opportunity to harvest a mature whitetail buck. Even my kids have the same hopes and dreams. Invariably, after they have rubbed the sleep from their eyes I am met with the first question of the day, “Dad, did we get any trail camera pictures last night?”
Always wanting to know what antlered deer might have showed up under the cover of darkness, a new day sends their curious minds running to what they enjoy doing this time of year – bowhunting whitetails.

Bowhunting Is Work But The Work Is Satisfying

There are some that believe hunting is easy. Now that I brought up the ‘E’ word, what is ‘easy’ anyway? Who said all the work that goes into getting permission, scouting, trimming shooting lanes, and hanging stands for an entire family is easy? Easy, no! But it sure is satisfying.
Bowhunting whitetail
Isn’t that why we hunt? I have watched all summer as my boys have spent countless hours practicing with their bows. They take the ethical harvest of an animal very serious. Being proficient is not an option. The exploration, anticipation and preparation are all part of the hunt.
Of course, we would like to harvest a 180-inch brute we could brag about, but there is still a whole lot of satisfaction in the ethical harvest of a doe, especially for a 15-year-old. For our family, we take great satisfaction in all the work that goes into the harvest. There’s something rewarding about the journey. From the moment we start hanging trail cameras, clearing shooting lanes, and scouting for better stand locations, to the very moment of harvest, it’s all part of the hunt.

The Hunt Is A Journey And We Should Enjoy Every Step

Crazy? Maybe, but it doesn’t make it any less true. The hunt is a rewarding journey that ends with the satisfaction of knowing you earned it. So as I told my boys, it’s not “just a doe” and here’s why:

1. It’s not, “just a doe” when there were hours of practice and preparation that went into this harvest.
2. It’s not, “just a doe” when this harvest was beneficial to quality deer management.
3. It’s not, “just a doe” when my boys and I were able to share another experience together in God’s beautiful outdoors.
4. It’s not “just a doe” when my son gave the meat to a family that will greatly benefit from it.
5. It’s not, “just a doe” when an animal’s life was taken. It deserves my respect.

Although the desire to harvest a mature whitetail buck hasn’t changed, my vocabulary has. Thank you Lord for allowing us another day in the hardwoods.
Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth. – Proverbs 12:27