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Monthly Archives: March 2016

Learn Rack Size By the Signs

You know what a buck rub looks like. You know that bigger bucks tend to rub bigger trees, and you’re probably aware that a buck travels in the direction facing the rubbed side of a tree. But there’s more to be gleaned from a savaged sapling. The right rub can tell you the size of a buck’s rack, whether he has any beauty points, and how to hunt him.

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1. Time of Day
In hilly country, buck rubs that are visible when facing uphill were likely made in the morning as the buck traveled back to his high-ground bedding area. Likewise, the ones you see when looking downhill were probably made in the evening. Wherever feeding areas are open and obvious, such as crop fields, rubs that show when you’re facing into the woods are morning rubs. Their opposites are evening rubs.

2. Velvet Proof
Where there’s off-track ATV travel, it can be difficult to distinguish between a tree that’s been debarked by a buck and one that’s been scraped by a four-wheeler. During preseason and early-season scouting, look for shed velvet on the ground beneath the rub. You won’t always find it—velvet dries quickly and bucks sometimes eat it—but it’s a sure sign when it’s there.

3. Big Tree, Big Buck
This familiar rule of thumb is valid. But remember, there are plenty of exceptions. A mature buck with a narrow tip-to-tip spread or other unusual rack configuration may not be able to rub a large-diameter tree in the usual way.

4. High Rub, Big Buck
Though far less familiar, this is a good rule of thumb, too. A mature buck is taller and stronger and therefore tends to rub higher off the ground. Caveat: This only applies to fresh rubs in fall. Snowpack can affect rub height, giving you a false reading late in the season.

5. Non-typical Marks
Sticker points, split brow tines, and other odd pieces of bone commonly leave corresponding deep, off-center gouges on the tree trunk, branches, or adjacent trees, which can help you identify a specific buck.

6. Rack Width
Wherever you find rubs on multi trunked or closely clumped trees, look for scars or broken branches on saplings and shrubs adjacent to the main rub. They can tell you how wide a buck’s rack is.

7. Tine Length
Look on the underside of branches, too. A tall-tined buck may leave nicks or scraped bark on branches a foot or more above the main rub.

8. Color Clues
Keep an eye peeled for old rubs. A mixture of light-colored new rubs, gray weathered rubs, and often blackish healing-over rubs reveals a perennial favorite buck route and also suggests that the animal making them is now mature.

"The Beatty Buck" taken with a compound bow by Michael Beatty in Ohio in 2000. 40 Points on a 10 point mainframe

“The Beatty Buck” taken with a compound bow by Michael Beatty in Ohio in 2000. 40 Points on a 10 point mainframe

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FUN Camo Cupcake Sandwiches

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Camo cupcakes are surprisingly easy to make considering how cool they look!

To make the cupcake sandwiches, start by mixing up a box of French vanilla cake batter, then divide the batter into four equal parts in four separate bowls. Use Kelly green, brown, and black gel dyes to tint the batter army green, black, brown, and beige (see handy-dandy chart, below).

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Once all the batters are mixed up, spoon the batter bit by bit, color by color, into a whoopie pie pan – or to get the waffle effect shown here, use a Wilton ice cream sandwich pan instead.

Bake the cakes for 8 minutes at 350 degrees. After baking, remove each cake and cool on a wire rack, then sandwich them together with frosting that’s been tinted army green. Be sure to check out Debbie’s blog for her shortening-free whoopie pie frosting recipe!

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…and yes – you can make these in pink, too! (Adorable!)

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Gear: A Cure for Cold Feet

ThermaCELL’s electronically heated insoles aren’t perfect, but they are the best cure for my biggest late-season deer hunting problem: cold feet. When temperatures drop into the teens,  toes can start to burn with the cold unless wearing heavy felt-lined boots. If hiking to a stand or do some still-hunting, however, pac boots make feet sweat, which guarantees  toes will be cold when standing still.Thermacell-Insole-1

The best thing about ThermaCELL’s heated insoles is the fob-like remote and built-in control board and battery. Unlike chemical toe warmers, which start out hot and gradually cool down, these let you wirelessly select “No Heat” when you don’t need any supplemental warmth, then either “Medium” (100 degrees F) or “High” (110 degrees F) heat when you do, all without clumsy external batteries or switches.

That allows for wearing a favorite pair of lightweight, moderately insulated knee-high rubber boots when on the go, with the assurance that the heat can be vamped up if on a stand or stop for whatever reason. And even if wearing heavier boots, the control board acts like a thermostat and temporarily shuts off power to the heating element when it reaches the selected temperature.

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It’s genius—though not without a few flaws.

  • For starters, the molded, cushioned insoles are much thicker than the insoles that come standard with most boots and can only use them with light socks in boots that are large to begin with. Otherwise the fit is way too snug.
  • They could also be a little warmer, and the battery life is disappointing. The lithium-ion unit built into the heel of each insole recharges quickly, but it does not come close to the advertised five-hour run time at medium heat.
  • And they’re pricey, at about $130. If the battery lives up to its promised 500 charges, that works out to only about $0.26 per use, which is about one-quarter what chemical toe warmers cost. At this point, though, that’s still a big “if.”

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But the biggest complaint is with the remote. It doesn’t confirm what setting the insole is at. Sometimes it’s off when it should be on and on when it should be off. A positive on-off switch, or even better a setting and battery level indicator, would be a huge improvement. So for now we’ll have to wait for the perfect cure. Until then, these are still pretty darn good, and a second pair would be convenient so they can be swap out on all-day hunts.

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Shot-Gunning

One of the consolations of getting older is getting better at some things, like shooting a shotgun, for instance. On the other hand an older person would lose a game of one-on-one basketball or a footrace with 30-year-old person, and we all know who would win the shooting contest.

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What that means is, if you’re a shot-gunner, you probably have a list of days gone by you wish you had back for a do-over. You know, those days in the field when everything was perfect, the stars aligned, and . . .  you couldn’t hit a thing.

In those days we shot only traps for target practice and we hunted a lot of upland birds.  We were good shots on flushing game, but we had no clue how to lead birds when it came to pass-shooting. They are two very different shooting skills.

imagesA0ZB103T2We were setting up in a snowy field with a small spread of full-body decoys. Layout blinds hadn’t become universally popular yet and we were sitting in popup blinds that were square and about the size of a washing machine. Across the road from us was a mass of 50,000 geese that are called the Glob.  In the morning the whole Glob rose up in a seething ball, and as it whirled around like the flakes of a snow globe, strings of geese would split off from it on their way out to feed. At first, geese ignored our spread. The rest of our party grew impatient and went off to try somewhere else, leaving just one and the guide to guard the decoys.

Then the geese started flying over us. They didn’t want in to the decoys, but we were right on the flightline. The snows came in a near endless stream of ones, twos and little bunches about 35 yards up and directly over us. It didn’t even bother them if we left the lids of our popup blinds open. It was as perfect a setup as a pass-shooter could hope for.   We both shot as the guide, Dave, tried to coach on the right leads.  We went through the first box without cutting a feather and was into the second when finally a lone goose came by about ten feet off the ground. That shot had to made, and at the end of the morning, that one bird was all to show for the big pile of empty cartridges on the ground.

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We had been on quite a few snow goose hunts and of course,  all of them unsuccessful. This was the best chance to shoot a bunch of them and can still see those geese clearly, flying at us in line. We yearn to go back and have that day over again, knowing what we know now.

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Bull-In the Rut

Understanding the Moose Rut

Once you understand the moose rut, you will have a much better chance of finding moose. During the moose-rutting season moose are found in different areas than other parts of the seasons.

What Season Is the Rut?

Typically the peak of the rutting season for moose is the first two weeks of October. This is only an average though. The further north in the hemisphere you travel the earlier in the season the rut happens and the opposite is true for going south.

There are of course always exceptions to the rule, but for the most part early October will be the peak. Some have hunted in early September and been able to call bull moose in using and estrous cow moose calls in an area that I know the peak rut is October. There will always be some cow moose that will start ovulating early and of course a bull moose that hears the yearning calls of a cow moose in estrous will investigate, and may even vocalize his approach.

Where do the Moose Go During the Rut?

We have been asked many times where do the moose go during the rut? Hunters have been out pre-rut scouting and located the moose. Once the season has arrived they return to where they found the moose and cannot find any! Why?

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Before the bull moose go into rut, they are usually found in the higher elevation areas. They will seek out cooler and thicker areas of the forest, higher in elevation trying to escape insects and predators.

Cow moose and their calves on the other hand will stay in the lowlands near water. The cows seek out water for two main reasons… food and safety. Calves are vulnerable, especially to wolves and bears. A cow with calf will use the water as an escape when threatened by predators. Sure the insects will be more bother but the safety of water will outweigh this.

When the moose rut begins and likely for a few weeks before the beginning of the cow moose estrous the bulls will move down out of the higher elevations to seek out the cows. The bulls will stay in the lower and wetter areas within proximity of the cows with hope of getting the breeding done. As the rut winds down the bull moose will once again move back to the higher elevations.

This migration makes for a sometimes elusive hunt.  Scan the area and look for all sign and be prepared for one exhilarating experience!

Join us next time for what to do when you spot your moose!!

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Posted by on March 27, 2016 in hunting, moose, Wawang Lake Resort

 

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Balancing Your Back Pack

In hurry and trying to hastily pack out a deer from the backcountry in one trip, a hunter carried a heavy, irregular pack too low and in the process damaged a spinal disc, pinched nerves in his hip, and lost feeling in his ham hocks for quite some time.

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Here are a few tips to help you shoulder a heavy load comfortably and safely—and avoid the physical therapy and chiropractic sessions the hunter had to go through.

From the bottom up
Stuff your sleeping bag, pad, and tent in the bottom of the pack.

Heavy load
Place the heavy freight—like a meat quarter—above the light cargo and against your back. It should sit above your hips and between your shoulder blades.

Cram Session
Surround the heavy stuff with lighter gear, such as clothing and food, followed by cooking gear, water filter, and the like. Pack the lightest gear like a hat and gloves in any remaining space at the top.

At the ready
Stash gear like a GPS, flashlight, or other items you might need to access quickly in the pack’s lid.

It’s a cinch
Now that it’s packed right, here’s how to carry your pack:

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Geared Up: Cleaning your gun

Most know that cleaning a firearm is a necessity for ownership.  This not only helps prevent malfunction and missfire but can also help bullet path and accuracy.  What most don’t know is that the average gun owner does not clean their firearm correctly which can lead to major headaches down the road 🙂

Here are a few great tips to set you straight

Step 1: Clean barrel and metal parts
Step 1: Clean barrel and metal parts with good commercial solvent.
Step 2: Bore should be cleaned through breech end
Step 2: Bore should be cleaned through breech end where possible.
Step 3: Clean bore until dry patch comes through as clean
Step 3: Clean bore until dry patch comes through as clean as possible.
Step 4: Run oily patch through barrel
Step 4: Run oily patch through barrel.
Step 5: All metal parts should get light coat of oil
Step 5: All metal parts should get light coat of oil.
Step 6: Store in horizontal position
Step 6: Store in horizontal position, or with muzzle pointing down.
Step 7: After storage, run a clean patch through bore
Step 7: After storage, run a clean patch through bore before firing.
Step 8: Remove all excess grease and oil
Step 8: Remove all excess grease and oil.
Click to view pdf of this diagram
With clean gun in hand, enjoy the hunt!
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