We've compiled some of your favorite Mossy Oak articles from 2021. Our Top 21 of 2021 features a variety of deer hunting, duck hunting, fishing, wildlife conservation and wild game care, preparation and recipes.
For most hunters, November is the month where the magic happens in the deer woods. However, if you drive far enough south, you’ll find a land where the finest days for deer hunting are in December. That’s right! Hunters in the Deep South will not cash in their vacation days for extra time spent in the tree stand in the month of November. December, and even January, is when those sacred days fall if you drive far enough south in states like Mississippi and Alabama. Therefore, if you are looking to chase the rut throughout the months of December and January in the Deep South, here are five tactics to make it happen.
Removing a certain number of antlerless deer from the population is an important component of a sound wildlife management plan. But which does should you remove and when is the best time to do it?
To a large extent, deer management is doe management. Females represent the breeding potential of the population so maintaining a healthy herd involves removing enough does to balance deer numbers with available habitat and nutrition, while leaving enough to ensure the population remains sustainable. Hunters often wonder which doe or does to take, how many and when to take them. Every situation is unique, and the answers depend on local circumstances and specific objectives. Still, there are some general guidelines.
Despite the dire forecast for the season, duck blinds will be heavily populated come Saturday morning with the hope the experts are wrong about this season’s fall flight. Waterfowlers should keep in mind there are plenty of huntable ducks to be had as populations are still well above the long-term average. Nonetheless, the conditions may need to be near perfect for this season to be a success.
Hunters will need to bring their A game, because there won’t be many young and dumb ducks headed south this winter. Decoy spreads, duck callers and blinds will be up against a savvy group of mature and wise birds this season. To be successful this duck season, waterfowlers will likely need to hunt smarter and harder than they have in a long, long time.
Whether you watch it drop or come upon it after a lengthy blood trail, there’s always a surge of excitement after reducing a deer to possession. But after the high-fives, war whoops and bear hugs subside, reality slowly sets in. Now you’ve got to get that animal back to the skinning shed, a task that can be relatively easy or extremely difficult, depending on circumstances.
If you’ve ever considered not going too deep into the woods or passing up a deer when you get there because it’s too far of a drag, you should reconsider. Up in the north woods where a mature buck will dress out well over 200 pounds, hunters routinely drop bucks several miles from the nearest road, and few if any ever hesitate to do so. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or provide it if asked.
We asked our friend Jeremiah Doughty from From Field to Plate to write up a couple of Thanksgiving recipes that we’d be proud to hang our hat on, and he’s certainly done just that.
From Holiday Spiced Turkey Breast with Orange Glaze to Sage Cornbread Dressing to Drunken Apple Pie with Bourbon Glaze, you’ll should win compliments and thanks from your family this Thanksgiving with these recipes.
Hunting from an elevated position, whether you use a tree stand, saddle or hide, offers numerous benefits compared to other forms of hunting – from clearer sightlines to better camouflage. There are various pieces of equipment hunters can use to hunt from the trees, with tree stands and saddles being some of the most popular choices. If you’re wondering which method is best for you, read on.
After the civil war, railroads were built in the region to be used for the exploitation of lumber but it was also used as a means of transportation for sportsmen and market hunters from St. Louis, Memphis, and Nashville looking to capitalize on the abundant amount of waterfowl in the area.
One such market hunter was James Tillman Beckhart, who would become the father of Arkansas-made duck calls. Beckhart was born in Warsaw, Indiana in 1864. As a young kid, his family moved to Pennsylvania where he lived until 1887. While in Pennsylvania, he married Anna Dorman and their first child, Bertha, was born in 1885. Seeking better opportunities, Beckhart moved his young family to East St. Louis in 1887 and took a job on the railroad. While living in the area, Beckhart began hunting and fishing on the nearby Mississippi River. Waterfowl hunting quickly became something that he was passionate about. At some point in the mid 1890s, Beckhart began to travel to the Big Lake area in northeast Arkansas to hunt. What he saw while there must have really struck a chord, because he packed up his family and moved there in 1897.
It’s “turkey time,” and the “king of spring” obsession begins. We plot, plan, scout and practice those annoying yelps and hoots at family members like we’re cramming for college finals. Soon our large, grapefruit-sized brain will be pitted against toms with a measly grape-sized wad of gray matter, which during the spring, has all circuits locked on two things…procreation and staying alive. If we’re blessed, there’ll be times our sizable brain functions spectacularly and our tag is punched. There’ll surely be plenty of head-scratching, hat-slamming encounters that prove brain size really doesn’t matter…and that’s a fact!
Following are other facts about wild turkeys you may not know. Good luck in the turkey woods. May your grapefruit-sized brain prevail!
The phrase “decoy-shy ducks” is a bit of an oxymoron. After all, ducks are gregarious, preferring the company of others of their kind. Decoys are meant to present that. Yet waterfowl seem to become warier, and ducks develop a knack for distinguishing decoys from the real thing with each passing day of the season. If you want to stay in the game, you may need to do like the ducks and modify your behavior.
When it comes to feeders, there are dozens of different styles to choose from to meet your needs. One of the most effective feeders I have found is pretty simple to build and will last for many years when built with quality materials. A major advantage of a “free-choice,” covered, trough-style feeder is the low maintenance and lack of any parts, batteries or motors to worry about failing. Automatic feeders definitely have their place, but some managers find the simplicity of an open, trough-type feeder the best option.
Another benefit from these open station trough feeders is the utilization by all age classes of deer. Some older deer, particularly bucks, can get a little shy around noisy automatic feeders. After all, our main goal for supplying a protein pellet or enhanced feed is so all your deer use them and consume feed to increase their nutritional intake.
Turkey season is right around the corner, and for most of us in the U.S., going turkey hunting and actually hearing and seeing turkeys is fairly common; actually harvesting one, well, that’s a different story altogether. Regardless, having access to thriving turkey populations is something we get to enjoy as turkey hunters in America today, but it hasn’t always been this way.
This super stocking project is a collaborative effort between the NWTF, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, a few other states’ natural resource departments and private landowners. The project release site is right on the cusp of the Eastern wild turkey’s historic range. A littler farther west and the Rio Grande becomes the predominant subspecies.
To be a wildlife artist is to see the natural world through a telescopic lens, focusing in on the details of the animal and tuning out the surrounding distractions of leaves dropping, birds chirping, squirrels rummaging through the dirt, searching for their long-ago buried nut, and the footfalls of neighboring critters.
To paint an animal is to really see them—to see each of their feathers illuminated in the sun, each unique tine of the antler.
Ryan Kirby, wildlife artist hailing from Boone, North Carolina, says “I’ve always approached my paintings like the first time you see a turkey come out on the hillside, strutting into focus. You’re not looking at the squirrel 20 yards to the right—you’re laser-focused on him.”
Lucas and his parents hunt out of an elevated blind, and Dan built Lucas a ramp for his wheelchair to be able to make it up to the shooting house. And because they have a 400 yard or so walk from the truck to the stand, Dan cleared the path so that Lucas’s portable wheelchair wouldn’t have too much trouble making it through the mud and dirt.
And it’s all worth it for his excitement when he gets a deer. His mom, Kayla McCormick, says “He screams bloody murder and is so loud when he shoots. He starts screaming again once he sees the deer! After he shoots you won’t see any other deer for a while because he’s so excited and noisy.”
Learning where to shoot a deer is, of course, the most important lesson a new hunter can learn. It's important to be able to visualize your shot placement and where you're hoping to hit vitals. We've built out the ultimate guide for just that so you can not only see exactly where you need to aim, but also the path your bullet or arrow will take through the deer's vitals.
It’s exciting to be eye to eye with deer in a ground blind or when you’re on a spot-and-stalk hunt. Every move you make is seen, your scent is more noticeable and your aiming point can be different. Even the best deer rifle can’t help you overcome bad shot placement. Let’s look at different strategies for hunting on the ground.
Ellie set out to close that gap for women representation in the hunting world. She knew her drawings would appeal to women and children in a way that other sellers weren’t reaching. She wanted to create something that catered to women and their love of the outdoors, too.
She believes that by exposing more women to hunting and allowing a connection that introduces women hunters to each other, we can help grow the number of outdoorswomen.
She says, “All the women I have met in the outdoor industry have been awesome. It’s an instant, automatic friendship because you have something in common already. It’s like a secret club that’s not really a secret.”
Like many other hunters before me, small game was one of the first things I ever hunted. My brothers and I put many miles in on public land as kids, trading our shared .20-gauge shotgun back and forth between us until we all had a chance at knocking a fat grey squirrel out of an oak tree. We made a lot of memories, and I have taken many squirrels with that gun.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I decided to try bowhunting not only squirrels, but also rabbit and dove. Bowhunting small game turned out to be a whole different game than hunting them with a gun…however, I’ve never been one to shy from a challenge. And, I certainly have learned a thing or two.
It is amazing how life can run full circle at times. Such is the case with vintage waterfowl shotguns. When steel shot for waterfowl was mandated nationwide in 1992, the use of the older shotgun models pretty much ceased due to the steel used for the barrels of those guns not being able to handle the pressures and hard pellets used in steel loads. The introduction of lead-free, non-steel loads over the past few years have changed that significantly, as there are multiple shotshell loads for waterfowl available for those coveted old vintage guns.
When it comes to waterfowl, hunters like guns that can take a beating from water, mud, ice and other somewhat uncomfortable wintertime elements. Here is a list of guns that that have stood the test of time and can stand up to the rigors that hunting ducks and geese can present.
Butchering a wild turkey is the same as butchering a chicken or duck, except it is a little larger. You can practice on chickens using the same method. Plucking the whole bird and cooking with the skin on is more flavorful and protects the meat from drying out. There is lots of meat on the legs, and with a little extra care these can provide a few valuable meals.
After shooting your bird, start plucking the feathers from the breast area. The feathers will come out much easier while the bird is still warm. Pull up on the skin below the breasts and make a shallow incision across the entire stomach, cutting upwards and being careful not to cut the intestines. Using your hand, pull out all the innards. Keep the heart, liver, and gizzard and discard the rest.
When Guntersville Lake guide Mike Carter asked 14-year-old Carolina Justice how far she wanted to take fishing, she said “all the way.”
And she’s certainly on her way. With a successful custom lure business operating out of the family craft room, a second-place tournament win under her belt, and now 5 fishing sponsors, Carolina is paving her own fast track to professional angling.
As a 14-year-old, Carolina Justice is ahead of the game, leaps and bounds. The initiative alone is impressive—she’s got her business model expanding and growing quickly. We’ll be looking out for her career to jump in the next few years, and Mossy Oak is proud to call her a friend.
Over the past few years, I have become a tremendous fan of the European-style skull mounts for deer, elk, and other big game, primarily because of my above rant. A skull mount looks good, it's a new fad, and it is much better than laying them to the side and forgetting about the animal, as well as the hunt.
The skull mount has been around for years, so why is it just now the cool thing to do among big game hunters?
If you own a firearm and have gone down to your local gun shop to pick up a box of ammunition within the last six months, you have probably asked the same thing - where is the ammo? Unlike times in the past when there have been shortages in 22 ammo, handgun ammo, .223, 5.56 or anything that was primarily used in assault rifles, this time the ammo shortage has hit across the board.
When will it end? Taking every answer that I received into consideration, one could possibly conclude that barring another catalyst to spur buying, we are looking at somewhere between the fall of 2021 and the spring of 2022 before things show any sign of returning to normal. Until then, don't be careless with the use of your supply.