Deer THUG Kevin Burleson Gives Tips for Better Deer Bowhunting
Editor’s Note: Kevin Burleson has owned Heart of Texas Bowhunting for 13 years, 16-miles west of Brady, Texas. Geographically it’s right dead center in the middle of Texas. He's been a Mossy Oak Pro Staffer for 10 years and is one of the Mossy Oak Deer Thugs on the TV show on the Pursuit Channel. A bowhunter since he was 19-years old, he's also a member of the PSE Pro Staff. “I've been wearing Mossy Oak camouflage as along as Mossy Oak has been making Mossy Oak camouflage,” Burleson says. Can you imagine seeing 30 to 40 bucks each day that you hunt? The deer-management system that Kevin Burleson uses may not produce this type of results on other properties in the U.S. However, this management system works for Burleson in Texas.
When I first started deer hunting, I wore plaid, because I believed a plaid shirt and pants would break-up the human silhouette. Next, I wore military issue camouflage. Once the military developed tiger-striped camo for the Vietnam War, I thought that was the greatest camouflage I’d ever seen in my life. Then when Mossy Oak came out with the old original Bottomland pattern, I feel in love with it. Bottomland was so much better than any camo I’d ever had. I really could almost hide from myself.
I grew up in the mountains of Colorado chasing mule deer and elk. I started guiding elk hunts when I was 16-years old. From a very early age, I learned how critical invisibility was to being a successful hunter and/or a successful guide. I’ve always felt like Mossy Oak had the best camouflage to make me invisible. When Mossy Oak Bottomland first came out, many hunters said, “That’s just a down south pattern.” But I found that Bottomland would fit into any environment I wanted to hunt.
I took to the Mossy Oak Bottomland pattern like a Labrador retriever takes to water. During the early season here in Texas, I like to hunt in brush, and I wear the Mossy Oak Brush pattern. Later in the year, I like Mossy Oak Break-Up. Because of the dark shadows in the pattern, it fits in really well in the ground blinds in which we hunt at Heart of Texas. We have some people who want to wear totally-black shirts, pants, head nets and gloves. However, when the sun starts going down, I think the deer can spot that solid-black patch of black as it moves. Because Mossy Oak Break-Up has different colors, shades, and patterns, I’ve found that it is much more difficult for the deer to see than solid black. Sometimes we hunt from the live oak trees on our property, and Break-Up blends in really well under those conditions. Once the leaves start turning colors, I really like Break-Up Infinity – probably my new favorite color, because once again, with that type of foliage, I blend in and look like part of the tree in that camo. During turkey season, I prefer Mossy Oak Obsession, since we have a lot of bright-green leaves at that time of the year. Mossy Oak has me covered 365 days per year, regardless of where I'm hunting and the game I'm hunting.
The large majority of the hunters who come to Heart of Texas Bowhunting hunt from ground blinds made of Mossy Oak Break-Up camouflage, because we can hide that blind so well in the trees and foliage that we have on the property. We have quite a few hunters who want to hunt from tree stands. If they’ve never hunted here before, the number-one question we’re asked is: “Where are your big trees?” I smile and say, “You're looking at them.” If you fall out of them, our trees are still big enough that you'll hurt yourself, but we don’t have 40-feet tall trees. We also have a few hunters who like to use the spot-and-stalk method of hunting. One of the problems with the spot-and-stalk method of hunting in the areas we hunt is that at least 75 percent of the time the deer will see you before you spot the deer. Once you spook one deer, that deer creates a tidal wave of spooked deer. By that I mean, one deer will spook 10 deer, and those 10 deer may spook 40 deer. Because we have such a high deer density on our ranch, we really don’t advise our hunters to use the spot-and-stalk method of hunting. Having said that, every year we’ll have two or three nice bucks taken by bowhunters stalking to and from their stand sites.
One thing that’s kind of funny is: we have some hunters who will leave their bows in their ground blinds the entire time they're hunting out here. They walk in without their bows. When the time’s too dark to take a shot late in the afternoon, they leave their bows in their blinds and walk out. Besides missing an opportunity to take bucks as they walk in or out of their stand sites, these hunters don’t realize that we have squirrels, coons, rats and other critters that love to nibble on bowstrings. We've had several hunters come back to camp early in the morning, because some critters have chewed their bowstrings due to their leaving their bows in their blinds overnight.