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How to Judge Your Shooting Distance

 A great article by Kevin Wilson

Accurately judging distance is the first step toward proper shot placement. Instinctive or calculated, bowhunters rely on it for close range shooting. Gun hunters count on their ability to estimate longer distances. Over time we all learn our own tricks for calculating distance but with the advent of laser rangefinders many of us won’t leave home without them. Regardless of how you go about it, determining yardage can make or break your hunt.

I will remember one hunt as long as I live. The outcome was downright depressing all because I misjudged the distance. It happened 16 years ago. I was a neophyte bowhunter at the time. I’d set up a treestand in a small block of trees that I knew held several bucks and does. The previous winter I’d picked up some huge sheds that taped out at 183 Boone & Crockett inches. Knowing that the gigantic buck had survived the winter, my hopes ran high and I knew there was always a chance he’d show up in the timber I was hunting. As luck would have it 45 minutes after climbing into my stand I heard leaves crunching underfoot. Straining to look through the trees, sure enough a smaller basket rack buck was making his way toward my stand. Always an impressive sight I enjoyed the view as he walked 10 yards from me. Then I heard more rustling in the leaves and looked over to see him. He was nothing short of magnificent! Based on his sheds, it looked like he’d grown at least another 15 inches putting him well into the high 190’s – a buck of a lifetime in anyone’s books! He walked 12 yards from my stand but I couldn’t get to full draw with him in plain view. As soon as he turned I capitalized. At full-draw, I locked my 20 yard pin on his body as he continued to amble forward. Walking straight away there was no shot opportunity at all! By the time he stopped, I estimated he was standing at 30 yards. With all the concentration I could muster, I focused and released. The arrow flew where I’d aimed, in perfect alignment with his chest, but literally inches high splitting the hair on his back! Completely awestruck and in total disbelief, that gut-wrenching feeling overcame me as I watched my world-class archery whitetail bound away never to be seen again… and all because I’d misjudged the distance!

Since that day I have made it my lifelong mission to learn how to accurately judge distance. From capitalizing on today’s technologically advanced laser range finding devices to using topographic characteristics to assist in calculating distance, and understanding the influences of terrain, it is an ongoing practice in my world. Regardless of whether you’re an archer or a rifleman, here are a few considerations that might help you as you learn to accurately judge distances.

The Technological Solution
Today’s technology is a saving grace for hunters. Many of us won’t leave home without our laser rangefinder. Portable and easy to use, we simply identify our target, adjust the setting, point, hit the button and, voila! … distance is displayed on the screen. With yardage confirmed, all that remains is the shot itself.

When I began bowhunting nearly two decades ago rangefinders had a simple dial that brought the target image into focus when the dial was turned. Wherever the dial ended up, that was your yardage. Today, thanks to innovation, laser rangefinders are readily available and relatively affordable. In fact today there is really no reason not to use a rangefinder. Many manufacturers have their own versions, but in my opinion, one of the latest and greatest inventions is Bushnell’s Laser Arc. I’ve got the Elite 1500 model. The ARC stands for Angle Range Compensation. While traditional rangefinders are precision optical instruments designed to be used on a level plain (line of sight), the ARC rangefinder compensates for angles from a treestand for instance, or up or down a mountain slope. I have owned and used several different kinds of rangefinders over the years. The Laser ARC is my absolute favorite. Using digital technology, it has a built-in inclinometer that displays the exact slope angle from +/- 60º of elevation with +/- 1.0 degree accuracy. Hunters have always struggled with extreme uphill and downhill angles. These severe angles alter true horizontal distance to the target. The ARC solves this problem. It has three primary settings: bow mode, rifle mode, and a regular mode (for line of sight distance calculation only).

It has a bow mode that displays line of site distance, degree of elevation, and true horizontal distance from 5-99 yards (or meters). For longer range shooters, it also has a rifle mode that calculates and displays the amount of bullet drop, at the target in inches (or centimeters). In the rifle mode, the amount of bullet drop is determined by the line of sight distance to the target, degree of elevation, along with the specific ballistic characteristics of the caliber and ammunition. As the hunter ranges the target, the line of sight, degree of elevation, and bullet-drop/holdover in inches or centimeters is displayed from 100-800 yards (or meters). Here’s where the technology shines ballistically. In the start-up menu, one of eight ballistic groups can be selected by the user, with each formula representing a given combination of caliber and loads.

Laser rangefinding technology, and the ARC system in particular, is invaluable but what if we don’t have one? Then it comes down to a matter of practice and estimation to determine our downrange distances.

Practice
For most of us, learning to judge distance takes considerable practice. Only by doing it a lot, and under variable conditions, can we become competent at it. Shooting is a lot like golf. Understanding how your bow or gun works (i.e., trajectory and ballistics) and interpreting the size of the target animal relative to the terrain can only be learned through firsthand repetitive experience. So how do we get all this supposed experience when we can only take a finite number of animals each year? The answer lies in visiting the gun or archery range.

For bowhunters, nothing beats practice on the 3D course. Today’s 3D targets, like those made by MacKenzie, are very lifelike and offer as realistic practice as you’re likely to get anywhere. Most are made to scale and can be strategically placed in any range situation to simulate realistic hunting scenarios. On my local 3D course, our club uses everything from coyote targets to whitetailed deer, mountain goat, elk, moose, wild hog, turkey and more. Some are set at long distances over 60 yards through wide open clearings while others are placed in the trees, often with very small shooting windows at closer distances like 20 or 30 yards. Most 3D ranges have a good assortment of field scenarios to allow practicing archers to hone their skills.

Likewise, rifle and muzzleloader hunters should visit the range regularly to hone shooting skills. Unfortunately due to the expansive nature of bullets today’s 3D targets aren’t an option. Alternatively silhouettes are. Most rifle ranges offer variable range distances from 100 to 400 yards. At my club our furthest distance is 600 yards. Unless you’re really into the long range thing 400 yards is a stretch for most big game hunters. By shooting repeatedly at 100, 200, 300, and 400 yards, we grow accustomed to what those distances look and feel like. By taking note of the size of target in our scope at specified magnifications we can also learn to estimate distances. For example, at 10x zoom on my Leupold scope, I know that a deer will fill a certain percentage of the field of view. By acknowledging how much of the animal is in the field of view, I can guess the approximate yardage with relative accuracy. Likewise, at 200 and 300 yards, that deer will appear smaller respectively.

Break Distances into Increments
Whether we’re hunting remote regions or in farmland things like trees, rocks, fence posts, and power poles can be used to aid in judging distances. As an archer I’ve learned to make a mental note of things like trees, shrubs, rocks or other physical land-based objects at 10 yard increments out to a distance of 50 yards from where I’m sitting. By burning those objects into my memory I’m better able to make quick decisions when an animal steps into a shooting lane. I’m guessing it may be the same throughout North America but where I do much of my hunting I’ve learned that power poles are set at a standard distance of 100 yards apart. Any time I’m hunting a wide open power line or in farm country I can use those power poles as markers to estimate yardage. As a rule, regardless of what kind of weapon you’re hunting with, breaking distances down into increments simplifies things. Remember, if you’re sitting in a stationary stand or ground blind there is always the option of setting out yardage markers at desirable increments, e.g., every 10 yards.

Consider Where and What You’re Shooting
Judging distances on the open prairies is a very different game than judging distance in the dense forest. Likewise, estimating the distance of a large target like a moose can be tricky if you’re more accustomed to looking at antelope. Dense cover and the size of the animal can play tricks on your mind.

As an archer, I spend most of my time hunting heavy mixed forest areas comprised of aspens and evergreens. Rarely do I see deer, moose or elk at distances further than 80 yards unless its down a long open cutline or across a clear cut. So, whenever I head out to different states or provinces to hunt smaller species like pronghorn antelope, it usually takes some time to acclimatize and recalibrate my brain to accurately judge distances. In my experience, smaller big game species in open terrain tend to appear further away while larger species under heavy cover often look closer than they really are. Unfortunately there are no set rules here; you just need to figure out what works best for you under variable conditions.

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Need a Do-Over With Your Shot?

It’s rare for any hunter to walk away from a field or reflect on a hunt and not think about whether a shot could have been better.  Whether with a bow, crossbow or firearm, there are times when we hesitate. A little voice – instinct, caution, doubt? – throws up a hurdle.

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Sometimes we adjust and avoid the hurdle. Other times we pull up short and don’t leap. We don’t take the shot.And, unfortunately, there are times when we know the hurdle is there but take the shot anyway. We’re confident in our abilities and that of our bow, crossbow or gun. Some might call that experience. Some might say it’s recklessness or unethical.

We probably all can look back and wrestle with at least one shot that might have been risky, even if things turned out well after taking it and the deer, bear or moose is on the ground.  Part of our duty as hunters is to strive to maximize our abilities with whatever weapon we use.

We practice, tune our bows, hit the range with our guns. We try to find the right combination of arrows and broad heads or the ammunition that works best with our rifles, muzzleloaders, handguns or shotguns.  One way to improve our knowledge and experience is with Deer & Deer Hunting’s “Shot Simulator” software.  If you’ve ever been curious about where your bullet, slug or arrow has entered a deer’s body and what happened, here’s how to find out.  The Shot Simulator software is designed to provide you with outstanding animation of a deer’s body and internal bones, muscles and organs.

imagesA15UZWSYWith the Shot Simulator, you can position the animated deer in numerous positions – how it was when you shot, or how you saw a buck or doe and didn’t shoot – and then learn which organs were hit.  Didn’t like what you saw? Position it differently and do it again. You can not only position the deer, but also your shot from a tree stand or ground level.  If you’re a stand hunter but only climb about 15 feet, you can see the difference in that height versus 25 feet or on the ground.  The animation allows you to move the deer around and then remove the hide, skin and bones to see what happened.  Then, you can punch in the trailing guide to find out what happens next.  Should you follow the game immediately?  Wait a while? Just for your knowledge, you could take the shots on the computer that you’d definitely pass up in real life and then see what would happen.

It’s an educational tool that could help you glean more knowledge and help make you a better hunter. Shot Simulator also is a great teaching tool for young hunters, too.  They’re curious about what happens and this is a great way to augment their in-field learning.

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Big Mistakes NOT to Make in Your Bear Stand

Part of the thrill of the hunt, is the anticipation knowing that with every second that ticks by, you are one second closer to harvesting your trophy black bear. What happens when those seconds turn into hours and then into days?   Being under prepared to be in your stand for extended periods of time can be frustrating, and worse yet, can prevent you from achieving a successful hunt.

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It would be awesome if we knew when and where the harvest was going to take place, but that wouldn’t be hunting then, would it?

Having a plan in your bear stand can make your hunt much more enjoyable. Things to consider: weather, bugs, boredom and nature calls.

Weather – Avid hunters know that fall weather can change in a heart beat. It can go from warm, to cold, windy and raining in the blink of an eye. Having the right clothes in your back pack can make the best of a somewhat undesirable situation.

Bugs – can be a huge annoyance in the great outdoors. Especially when you are forced to sit still for extended periods of time. Avoid bug sprays when bear hunting… PERIOD! A new, unfamiliar scent, along with an intuitive feeling that something isn’t right, will keep trophy bears from over coming fear and committing to your bait. Bug jackets and bug nets are a must. (Oh, on side note, make sure you practice shooting with your bug net on). Regarding the portable propane bug eliminators, we highly advise against them as it is a new scent that can be detected by a bear easily and may quickly deter them.

Boredom – Nothing will end your hunt faster than impatience and constant movement in your stand. If you are like most guys who can’t sit still for more than 30minutes at a time, you must bring something with to occupy your mind. I personally use a book. I have also seen guys use those portable, pocket video games. Regardless of what you use, make sure you sit sill and only utilize things that will be quiet and non light reflective.

Nature Calls – Ever been in the stand when all of the sudden you have to take a pee? Sucks, doesn’t it? I don’t know how many times I have had this happen to me, yet somehow I always forget to bring a container along. Put a portable urinal on your packing list. Doing so will make the difference between shooting that monster and taking it’s offspring or nothing at all.  NEVER eliminate off of or near your stand!  There is nothing more offensive and frightening to a bear than knowing a human is directly near by.

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Remember, being prepared to sit that stand can mean the difference between a very successful harvest or having to return and start all over again!

 

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2017 in black bear, hunting, Wawang Lake Resort

 

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Want More Grouse? Watch the Thermometer Drop!

P1040063Cold, blustery days in early winter are not the best days to go grouse hunting. Neither are, humid, September days. Essentially, the best time to go grouse hunting is when you can. And if that means dealing with the weather de jour- so be it. That doesn’t mean you can’t find some grouse, and even pocket a few, regardless of the weather.

Grouse like to stay cool in early fall when Indian summer days send the thermometer to summer-like temperatures. During those glorious fall days grouse will sleep in on their cozy roost and then venture out into a sunlit patch to soak up the warming October rays. November and December is a transitional period when cover becomes as much a priority as food. Staying warm and out of the wrath of heat-sapping winds and cold makes the places that grouse frequent during the late fall and early winter months predictable. Most times the mercury can give you a heads-up on which way to go.

Ruffed grouse seasons open in September in Ontario. Going hunting then is more a testament to tradition than it is to wanting to kill grouse. Foliage is thick, dense and green. But, if you insist on subjecting yourself to this kind of brutality you might as well give yourself the best chance at finding birds.

Look at the thermometer and you’ll realize that one of the best places to look for early season grouse is near rivers and streams. Waterways provide cool summer oases for grouse and you usually won’t find them far from the same habitat come early fall. During especially dry years, the moist soils found along rivers and streams may be one of the few places that you’re going to find the types of vegetation that produce the fruits and berries that grouse love so much.

Another reason early season grouse can be found along waterways is that the thick vegetation protects grouse broods from predators. Moist soils produce lush habitat that is ideal for protecting young grouse broods and the temperate environment produces a lot of high-protein invertebrates that are critical to young grouse growth and survival. Working along river bottoms and creek beds can be a good tactic because grouse broods can often be found in or close to their brood habitat.

Grouse are often still in broods or tight-knit family groups in September and October and can be concentrated and difficult to find. Perseverance can pay off. You might hunt several prime coverts without success and then bust several coveys in a short period of time. The trick is to keep at it. When you do run into some birds, you’ll usually find a bunch and chasing down singles after the flock is broken up can produce some quick shooting.

And quick shooting is what you can expect this time of year. Shooting grouse is never easy, but the task is made increasingly difficult when foliage is thick and catching even a glimpse of a bird is tricky. In the early season, you need to post, plan and resist the temptation to go in after them. It’s fruitless. If you have a dog, let them do the dirty work. Instead, look for openings, deer trails, clearings and post where you can get a shot if a bird flushes in your direction. Put a bell on your dog so your can keep track of his location at all times. Let one hunter bust the brush while the other walks a logging road where a flushing bird just might offer a shot. Don’t wait for an open shot. You’ll never get one! Instead, instinctively point and shoot even if you only catch a fleeting glimpse of the bird. Many times I never even knew I’d hit the bird until the dog came back with the grouse in its mouth. Be sure to keep in constant contact with your hunting party and know their location for safety sake and wear plenty of hunter’s orange.

Think wide open chokes and small shot during the early season. Grouse are not difficult birds to bring down, so put a lot of shot in the air and maybe just a pellet or two will get through the trees and hit its mark.

Weather and temperatures can be quite diverse in October. You might be rewarded with one of those cool, sunny, perfect fall days that grouse hunters live for. But don’t be surprised if you’re forced to pull out the woolies and gloves either. And you might even wake up to some fresh tracking snow. That’s just how October is- transitional- and it’s a transitional period for grouse too.

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Grouse have a smorgasbord of items to choose from in October and finding their preferred food source is often critical to finding numbers of grouse. Ripening fall fruits can draw grouse from far and wide. Grouse favor edge cover, and it’s no coincidence that some of their favorite culinary delights do best on edges where sunlight can penetrate the forest canopy. Depending on which state you live in, grouse can usually be found keying in on edge cover fruits like wild grapes, chokecherry, and a host of other fruity edibles. These open areas also produce some of old ruff’s favorite greens like wild strawberry and clover and are also places where they can find high-protein items like grasshoppers, crickets, and other insects.

When grouse numbers are high, they can be found in variety of cover types at this time of year. Even marginal grouse habitat will hold a few birds as grouse begin dispersing into new territories during the fall shuffle.

Cover becomes an increasingly important priority as the month wears on. October begins with it plenty of foliage and grouse can move about uninhibited. By the end of the month, the trees are bare, the wind has a foreshadowing bite to it and grouse must rely on their camouflage and staying hidden as much as possible. Still, you’ll find grouse wandering about in search of brunch or a late afternoon snack and those are two of the best times to hunt grouse at this time of year.

Obviously a peak time in October is the first week or two after the leaves have fallen. When this happens might vary by a few weeks from region to region, but it is prime time to be in the woods. Grouse seem to forget for a little while that they are not as invisible as they were just a few days earlier and their numbers are at a seasonal peak. You can actually see some of the grouse that you flush too. 

At this time of year you can find grouse in some pretty unusual places far from what you’d consider ideal grouse cover. I’ve found grouse under a solitary crab apple tree in the middle of a field far from what you’d consider grouse cover. I’ve shot grouse out of fields of goldenrod that you’d think were more likely to hold pheasants. No patch of cover is too small or too thin to hold a grouse then.

Once snow blankets the ground the whole ballgame changes. Grouse that have survived the onslaught of hunters, wolves, owls and know that when their environment becomes covered in white they are vulnerable. Snow also covers up many of the grouse’s food sources and feeding becomes a little more risky and perilous. Grouse don’t go on those aimless strolls in search of food. Their search is more deliberate and of shorter duration when the thermometer starts to dip and the weather turns cold. Cover becomes more of a priority.

It’s important to ferret out productive versus non-productive cover as quickly as possible. I don’t know about you, but I’m not as young as I use to be. Those all-day jaunts of pounding the woods are over. I’m usually only good for about a half a day of hard hunting and I want to make the most of it. To do so requires that you develop a since for identifying the absolute best cover and hunt it hard. Learn to not waste time where you THINK there might be birds.

Remember those light loads and wide-open chokes you used in September? Put them away if you’re serious about killing grouse once the snow flies. Shots will be longer and birds will be tougher. Replace your 8’s and 9’s with high-brass 71/2’s or even 6’s. Take the skeet tubes out and go to improved or even a modified tube in one barrel. With your shooting eye in late season form you’ll still get the easy shots and with the heavier shot and tighter chokes you’ll be able to add a few birds you wouldn’t normally pocket.

Grouse are tough customers. That’s why most of us hunt them. But watching the thermometer you can get a better idea of where to begin your search and make your days in the woods a little more productive.

Join us for our 2017 Grouse HUNT!

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Posted by on September 14, 2017 in grouse, hunting, Wawang Lake Resort

 

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Flint Laces: Shoe Laces That Can Start a Fire

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The Flint Laces are a pair of shoe laces that you can use in case of an emergency to start a fire with if you are otherwise incapable of starting one. Maybe you forgot your matches at home, maybe it just rained and all your matches are wet, or maybe you’re stranded in the woods without a match or a lighter and you’ve lost your manhood and just can’t make a fire using your own two hands.

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Each flint lace contains a hidden piece of ferro rod that is capped with rubber. Simply scrape the rubber from the rod, strike it against a knife or some steel (assuming you have some), and you will be toasting your buns on a nice hot fire in no time.

The flint laces are completely normal shoe laces other than containing a fire starter rod, they are made from type III 7 strand 550 paracord, contain 4 separate rods (1 on each end of each shoelace), come in sizes 36-108, and are perfect for when you’re planning on getting lost and stranded while hiking or camping.

 

 

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Where to Place Your Trail Cams

A trail camera won’t stumble through a bedding area, leave scent all over a trail, or exaggerate the size of a rack. And it’ll never oversleep. But your perfect little scouting buddy must be chosen wisely and placed carefully if you want to pattern that old, crafty animal you know is around. Here’s how…

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The earlier version trail cameras were just a 35mm film point-and-shoot tucked in a weatherproof housing. It snapped a single picture when something triggered the sensor. After retrieving the camera, you ran to the one-hour shop to get the film developed, then thumbed through a week’s worth of pictures. More than once a stack of 36 prints revealed a handful of out-of-focus animals and a couple dozen shots of a wind-whipped brush or a drooping tree branch. That was only a few years ago.

Today, many website boasts several pages of trail cams, and even the cheapest one outperforms the original older ones. They have lenses sharp enough to count the ticks on a deer’s neck, electronic circuit boards so efficient that four AA batteries will run a unit for months, and memory cards that hold thousands of pictures you can download to your computer or delete at the touch of a button. And those are standard features on mid-priced cameras. The high-end ones will send a photo to your cellphone or laptop.

Like everything in the digital age, trail-cam technology has improved, competition has become fierce, and prices have plunged. Still, $200 is plenty of money, and matching a camera with the right features to meet your needs is critical. And even the best camera can’t take spectacular photos of a trophy buck if you don’t set it properly. But it’s not difficult to get started. These are the basics.

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Wildlife biologists use trail cams to measure herd densities, buck-to-doe ratios, and the like. Your goals should be simpler: learning about the deer on your property, figuring out where to hunt them, and having fun in the process. You can pinpoint ideal spots before you buy a camera, and the locations you choose can determine what model is best for you. Here are four sites for four different periods.

Time: Late Summer
Site: Mineral lick
Goal: To start an inventory of buck numbers and quality on your property.
Setup: Find a spot with moderate to heavy deer traffic and spade up dirt in a 2-foot circle. Pour in half of an ice-cream pail of stock salt or commercial deer mineral and spade it into the loosened soil. Pour the rest on top.
Tips:
• Establish one or two licks per 80 acres. Allow deer up to a week to find them.
• Situate each lick 10 to 30 feet from a tree for mounting a camera.
• Jam a stick behind the camera’s top edge to point it down toward the lick.

500Time: Early Season
Site: Mock scrape
Goal: To find bucks after velvet shed, when they often relocate. Mocks can draw up to 90 percent of the bucks you’ll hunt.
Setup: Rake grass and forest debris 5 feet away from a tree that has a green, overhanging licking branch 5 to 7 feet above the ground. Activate with your own “product” (drink plenty of liquids) or deer urine.
Tips:
• If you are not getting clear shots of a buck, aim the camera at the licking branch. Most bucks will work it with their antlers.
• Establish multiple scrapes in each area and hang cameras only on the most active ones.

Time: Rut
Site: Funnel
Goal: To determine where resident bucks are traveling and whether traveling bucks are in the area.
Setup: Find terrain features that channel buck movement and hang a camera near fresh tracks and rubbing activity. Check camera every three to five days—the rut moves quickly.
Tips:
• Mount camera at a 45-degree angle to the trail. Bucks often move through funnels quickly; a camera set perpendicular to the trail might miss the shot.
• Scuff dirt in front of the camera with a boot. Such a mini mock will often make a moving buck pause and get “shot.”

Time: Late Season
Site: Food source
Goal: To find out where to fill a last-minute tag, and to know which bucks have survived the bulk of the hunting season.
Setup: Scout widely to find the hot food sources in your area, such as waste grainfields and clear-cuts. Place camera within 30 feet of the most heavily trafficked area. Load it with fresh batteries if you hunt in an extremely cold area.
Tips:
• Set up and check cameras at midday to avoid spooking feeding deer.
• If no trees are located near the food source, mount the camera on a tripod and camouflage it with grass or brush.

Make the Next Shot Count!

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Bow Hunting – Packing Tips

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Over the past two decades hunting backpacks have grown in popularity and size. Not only cubic inches, but number of pockets and where we can strap things. Don’t be sucked into the thought that you have to fill each and every pocket or empty space with something. Instead, make a list of items you think you’ll need for your outing by reviewing the possible scenarios that may occur. For example, if you are just planning a day hunt you may jot down a considerably short list, whereas if you are hunting for a few days you will be carrying a bit more gear.

Years ago a simple camouflage backpack was used with a large holding area and one pocket. Some hunters went out in the field with just a bow, a peanut butter sandwich in their pocket and a knife. Nowadays it’s good policy to prepare a couple packs that to utilize for different hunts. The following is what goes into these packs on a hunting trip, but,  keep in mind that you should customize your pack essentials according to what your adventure will be. You will be surprised at how much extra ‘stuff’ you really don’t need.The first is the Badlands Hybrid pack that is used on most of short day trips like small game or turkey hunts. Pack calls and essentials and you’ll still have room left over. On longer hunts pack a Badlands 2200 which allows more room for extra clothing or food for longer excursions.  Making sure the essentials are in your pack for a bow hunting adventure can be rather simple. In order to bow hunt, you have to find an area where you can take a quality shot.

You have to find a good area to hunt and you need to get there. You also have to have a pack that is tough, not too heavy, and has ample space to pack out an animal should you be fortunate enough to harvest one. Some areas can be thick vegetation so you need to be aware of the terrain and weather of where you will be headed. Pack your gear for each and every trip to be sure you have everything you might need and a little extra should you find yourself stranded. You should do some research and find a good pack that will fit your needs and more importantly fit you.  Here are the essentials that you should take on every hunt.

These essentials should be a constant each time you venture into the forest.

Al_1Water – Always plan to have enough to drink throughout the day. Also plan on sipping, not guzzling so you don’t waste the resource. Before you leave on your hike, locate a water source on a map and prepare to refill along the way.  Put an extra bottle in the bottom of your pack in case your hydration system runs out. Then you know you at least have one bottle left. Also, leave a 2 liter bottle of water in your vehicle (preferably in a cooler) so you have something cool to drink when you reach it.

Food/Snacks – Have fun with what you eat on the trail!  Take almonds, some energy gel, trail bars like Granola bars, and, be sure to pack a sandwich. For some, and, for those who like it, there is something about eating a peanut butter and honey sandwich on top of a peak that just makes it that much better. Try to stay away from most other sweets on the trail like candy bars or snacks that could leave you feeling sluggish.

First-Aid Kit – Pack a kit yourself or better yet, buy one of the Adventure Medical Kits Sportsmans Kit available at most stores. It is a great kit and the one you should carry on each and every trip. A word of advice to everyone is to open the kit and know what is in there before you leave your house check it over. If you think something is missing, add it. One of the items you should always sure to pack is moleskin. You can never tell when it might be needed to cushion a blister or protect your feet. Having that moleskin was invaluable.  Be sure to include other items like QuikClot and a tick remover. You may never needed them and they could’ve been left at home, but  don’t mind a little extra weight when it comes to safety.

SPOT Locator – Having a locator beacon on your in case in the event you might get lost is added security.  It allows your family to track you via computer when your on a hunt. They can see exactly where you are, the terrain, and if you are stationary or moving. The best part is that is if you get lost or need medical assistance you can press a button and have them dispatched to your location. It is highly recommended to review the features to see if you plan on hiking more than a couple miles in or if you plan to be out for a few days.  Having a space blanket is a great idea in case you get stranded and need to keep warm. If you need to use it you will probably be miserable, but it will help keep you alive.

Compass – Know how to use it.

Map – A topographical map of the area I am hunting.  Some of the items that should be packed, but not necessary really don’t need an explanation:

Whistle, Lighter, Headlamp/Flashlight, Knife and Paracord.

As mentioned earlier, for different hunts there will be a different set of items you will have in your pack. It may take some testing on your part to see what you need, don’t need, and what weighs the least. No matter what, whatever you pack, get out there and enjoy yourself.

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