Shed antler hunting is one of the fastest growing outdoors activities. But in reality, the interest dates back to prehistory with caveman appeal. Cave paintings and ceremonial objects incorporated antlers into rituals of cultural importance as evidenced from artifacts and cave decor. That trend continues today as shed antlers have become a way to nurture hunting urges during the off-season.
Whether it’s while in your treestand or when viewing trail camera photos, it is important to learn to judge age by looking at an animal. Most gamekeepers feel that harvest decisions should be made based on the animal’s age not antler size. Antler size is one of the details we use to help determine age, but only one in a long list of aspects like body size and shape, muscle tone, the appearance of certain features, etc. You will develop a more effective management plan if you can distinguish a buck’s age by assessing it in a photo or by sight. The following characteristics are fairly consistent for whitetails throughout their range. (Much of the information is courtesy of the QDMA.)
A group of does were feeding on the lush green forage in front of my stand and I knew the odds were good that a buck would soon join them. The acorns in the woods had been depleted, but the Full Draw plot in front of my stand contained both large-leaved brassicas as well as tender cereal grains…a “one-two punch” that the local deer herd found hard to resist. The plants were succulent and packed with protein. Adjoining that smorgasbord was another plot with just pure oats that they could turn to for a change of pace. If the forage itself wasn’t enough attraction for a mature buck, I figured the does in the plot certainly would be.
As a longtime, traditional turkey hunter who loves the challenge of getting Mr. Tom in close, I scratch my head every time I hear or read about someone looking for the biggest, baddest, most pellets in a 10-inch circle at 40 yards, “reach out and get some” at 75 yards turkey gun, choke and load on the market. That conversation seemed to dominate the internet turkey talk sites over the past few years, but now the talk has shifted to finding that magical blend for the smaller shotgun gauges, including the diminutive .410.
Deer rutting season (or “the rut”) is the highlight of the year for any seasoned deer hunter. With bucks on the chase for estrus does, unique behaviors emerge that make them much more vulnerable and easier to hunt. If you’re thinking about hunting a buck during deer rutting season, it helps to understand how deer behave during the rut, what tactics are effective for each phase of the rut and how to avoid some common rut hunting mistakes.
Before diving in to the effect moon phase has on deer movement, it's important to look at when deer move in general. A deer's mission is to go out and find food quickly. Deer go out for food twice a day, typically, so you know a deer will get up to move around their feeding schedule.
Everyone likes to brag to their buddies about harvesting a nice buck or all the deer feeding in one of their food plots. Be careful who you boast in front of... Word of a huge buck travels fast. For some reason, “antlers” can make normally principled people do stupid things. The enticement to harvest a big, mature whitetail buck can trigger certain people to break the law, so the less people who know, the better.
Food plots are for many of us the most fun and dramatically rewarding part of being a gamekeeper. But as you delve deeper into habitat and wildlife management, it becomes clear that there are plenty of other improvements that need to be made to the habitat if your goal is to attract and hold mature bucks on your property.
According to Popular Science, there are over 170,000 different knots. Fortunately for fishermen, you only need to know a few. Your repertoire should include 8 or 10, but if you’re only going to learn 5, these are the ones I’d pick. Everyone has their favorites. Your top 5 may vary slightly but should contain at least 2 or 3 of the following.
What is the best caliber for deer hunting? This question has been discussed over campfires, in hunting camps, and during Monday morning quarterbacking sessions for ages! I watched two co-workers nearly ruin a good friendship over the difference in a 243 Winchester and a 6MM Remington. A fellow that I used to work with had a 264 Winchester Magnum named “Big Joe” that in his mind was the only viable caliber for deer hunting.
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