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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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Flint Laces: Shoe Laces That Can Start a Fire

flint-laces-shoe-laces-that-can-start-a-fire-thumb

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.

flint-laces-shoe-laces-that-can-start-a-fire-9435
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…

CameraNO_MosaicYELLOW

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.

TrailCameras3
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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Develop Proper Archery Form

 

SONY DSCPictured here is perhaps the most popular position of the feet when it comes to shooting; the “Open Stance”. It is easy to perform and opens up the shooter to the target resulting in less interference with clothing from the bowstring.

Despite the fact that you may be shooting the most highly tuned bow, adorned with top of the line accessories, if your shooting form is bad your accuracy will likely be worse. Shooting with good form requires mastering a number of processes. However, once these processes are understood and learned, shooting with proper form will be as easy as walking across the floor; it will become second nature.

Before incorporating the following steps into your shot routine, be sure that you are shooting a well tuned bow set at the appropriate draw length.SONY DSC

Proper Shooting Stance
Where you place your feet during the shot process can have a great bearing on where your arrow strikes. By nature, your body has a natural centering point. If your feet are not positioned properly you might find yourself being pulled away from this centering point. As a result, the body will fight to return to this location. Unfortunately, this can occur during the shot which will impede accuracy.

Resist the urge to grip your bow. Instead, let your fingers naturally drop around the handle and riser. This will eliminate unwanted tension and bow torque making your shots more accurate.

There are 3 basic stance positions to consider. They are as follows.
  • Squared Stance:  Feet are in-line with one another, drawing a line perpendicular to the target.
  • Closed Stance:  Front foot is forward from the front of the body
  • Open Stance:  Front foot is slightly pointing toward the target.The best stance, regardless of which you choose, should be comfortable and solid. This starts by placing your feet about shoulders-width apart with your body weight distributed between the midsection and rear of your feet.

Most bow hunting experts will suggest an open stance which starts by positioning your toes 90 degrees to the target, and then taking a half-step backward with the foot that is closest to the target. This stance will essentially place the chest more toward the target and allow for greater bowstring clearance along the bow arm and chest.

However, this stance may not be for everyone. In order to find your perfect stance, enlist the help of a friend and simply close your eyes and draw your bow while facing a archery target with a wide back 1wall, anchoring as you normally would. With your eyes still closed, move your body and feet around until you find the most comfortable position. Then, open your eyes and note the direction of your aim.

When it comes to hauling back the bowstring, don’t rely on the small bicep muscles of the arm. Instead, use the larger, more stable muscles of the upper back and shoulder. Not only can these muscles pull more weight, they are also steadier and fatigue less quickly.

Let down the bow and reference the position of your feet by pointing an arrow straight at the aiming spot. You have just found your stance.

SONY DSCCorrect Bow Grip
When it comes to gripping the bow you want to do so in such a way that hand torque is not promoted. In other words, you want your grip to be as torque-free as possible. To do this, you first need to find the best location for the grip to contact your hand. This can easily be accomplished with a simple test.

First, take your bow hand and hold it out as if you were going to grip the bow; keeping it slightly open and rigid to imitate pressure being applied to it. Next, take your thumb from your other hand and push it into your bow hand at different locations. You will notice that every location you push with your thumb causes your bow hand to move or collapse—-except one. That one spot is where you want to place the pressure of the bows grip while at full draw.

Your bow arm shoulder should be down and in a “locked” position while at full draw. This makes it more difficult to flex the bow arm causing shot-ruining muscle tension.

This location is typically where the bones in the forearm butt up against the base of the palm. It is a bone-to-bone contact point and is the most reliable, torque-resistant location in which to place the bow grip.

When grabbing the bow, place a small amount of tension on the string, just enough to feel it in your bow hand. Then position the grip into the area you discovered by pressing your thumb into your palm. Now you are ready to draw the bow. Just remember, upon reaching full draw, your bow hand should remain relaxed with your fingers falling down or dangling around the front of the riser.

Drawing the Bow
This may seem like a trivial facet to good shooting, but drawing the bow properly incorporates all of the essential muscles needed in order to shoot with good form; mainly, the back muscles. One of the easiest ways to do this is to think of your drawing arm elbow as having a hook in it. When drawing the bow, start with your elbow about as high as your jaw line. Then, imagine someone has a string attached to the hook that is in your elbow. Now, think about them pulling your elbow straight back as you draw your bow. Instead of puling with your biceps, you will notice that you are actually drawing the bow by using the larger muscles of the upper back; specifically, the rhomboid muscles. This will allow you to relax the rest of your body and pull through the shot using only your back.

SONY DSCBow-Arm Position
A steady aim equals comfortable shooting and tighter arrow groups. A relaxed bow hand is the key to this. To acquire this it is imperative that your drawing side shoulder be down and in a locked position during the shot. Positioning the shoulder in such a manner will greatly reduce muscle tension which is the root of poor aiming. Before drawing the bow, lean slightly toward the target, then start the drawing process. This will place the shoulder in a low, locked, “bone to bone” position.

When it comes to where you place your release-hand, choose and area along the face/jaw-line that is easily repeatable and consistent; your shooting will likewise follow. Hunter shown wearing Lost Camo.

Anchor Position
Consistency is the cornerstone to good shooting. The best location to anchor your bowhand is somewhere along the jawbone that provides the most stable platform. In other words, choose a spot that allows your hand, knuckles, etc. to rest solidly as you release the trigger of your release or let go of the bowstring.

A good tip is to locate this spot with your eyes closed, without looking through the peep sight. Then, once your anchor point has been established, with your head in a natural, upright position, you can open your eyes and adjust the peep sight to your eye, instead of adjusting your eye to the peep sight.

The bottom line is to find an easy-to-repeat anchor point; one that will be consistent and second nature when shooting under pressure or any other time.

TIf good shooting form and posture are present, your body should resemble the letter “T” when viewed from behind. Hunter shown wearing Lost Camo.

Establishing T-Form
The easiest way to confirm that proper draw length and comfortable shooting posture are being used is to look for the “T-Form” as the archer is at full draw. This is easily recognized while looking at the shooter from behind. When doing so, his/her body will represent the shape of a “T”.

The torso should be vertically straight, with a direct line running up and down through the spinal column. The horizontal line in the “T” should run from the bow-side elbow, through the shoulders, and across to the drawing elbow. The trick to establishing this “T” form is to make sure that your drawing elbow isn’t too high or too low. Ideally, it should be about the same height as your ears while at full draw. This will promote the use of back muscles to draw and execute the shot.

Include these simple steps into your shouting routine and watch as your accuracy improves and your confidence soars not only on the 3D archery range, but in the field as well.

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Black Bear Hunting at Wawang Lake

Working hard to provide active baits for each individual hunter is how we operate our hunts, and is what keeps our sportsmen coming back year after year.

BLACK BEAR HUNT RATES

2-bear

We have a very large bear hunt area (1,200 sq miles) surrounding our resort with a good healthy bear population due to years of black bear management.

Our hunts usually begin the Saturday on or after August 15th and continues for three weeks. Since we have consistently managed our bear population for several years we determine the number of hunters we will take according to the bear population we observe the previous year. We average 14 hunters per year.

What We Need to Know Upon booking, please inform us of each party members contact information, weapon (archery or gun) and will they be bringing a tree or ground stand. We need to know what type of weapon each member in the hunt party will be hunting with and whether they will be hunting from tree stand or would prefer a ground stand. More on our website

Days to Hunt (7 days) – Arrive Saturday and depart the following Saturday. Arrive Saturday and depart the following Saturday. If you would like to hunt upon your arrival, please check in between 11am-12pm (EST) and have all of your equipment prepared in advance (tree stands as assembled as possible, weapons/ammunition cased)

Transportation Requirements Since most of our baits are very remote, groups should anticipate driving their members to and from the sites. Most of our baits are road access and we provide private areas for each hunting group so that

dropping members off and picking them up will be systematic and easy. We advise to have 1 vehicle per every two hunters (three max) to ensure as little disruption to each party member’s hunt.

Rates
For a complete list of our Bear Hunt Rates please visit our website at:

BLACK BEAR HUNT RATES A $500.00  non-refundable deposit is required at the time of reservation to guarantee a hunt.

Other Costs Hunting license Canadian Funds (approximately). It’s MANDATORY to provide a current or prior hunting license FROM YOUR HOME STATE, or a hunter safety certificate, as qualification to obtain a hunting license in Ontario. Export Permit – $35.00 Canadian Funds (available at designated locations in the area)

Things to Remember Bring your own tree stand as we do not provide them. Comfortable climbers are the most popular and screw in peg types are acceptable, however, whatever type you bring bear in mind that our trees have very loose bark.

What is Included in our Bear Hunts

  • Modern Housekeeping Cottage for 7 nights
  • Pre-baited Sites & all baiting supplies during your stay & Freezer Service
  • Orientation trip to bait site
  • Experienced guide’s knowledge and advice (use it!)
  • Canadian Firearms Regulations All Firearms (does NOT include bows) being brought into Canada must be registered at the Canadian Customs at the time of entry into Canada. A one- year permit costs $50.00 Canadian, or there is a long term permit as well. If you would like further information, you can visit the Canadian Firearms Website through the link on our website or call toll free, 1-800-731-4000

Passport Cards (similar to a Passport) Information can be obtained at this website: http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/ppt_card/ppt_card_3926.html

Our season begins Saturday on or after August 15th

For further information, or, to book your next bear hunt please contact us at:
1-888-534-9217 or EMAIL

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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…

CameraNO_MosaicYELLOW

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.

TrailCameras3
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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Calling in Coyotes & Wolves

Thanks to the prevalence of electronic calling devices, anyone can become a decent coyote caller with the press of a few buttons. But if you really want to step up your game, you need to first understand what makes these animals tick.

coyote-hunting

Prey Distress
Coyotes are nature’s great omnivores. Studies of stomach contents have found that coyotes will swallow almost anything that they can get in their mouths, including rocks, plastic packaging, harness buckles, and even the occasional rabbit. Knowing this, it doesn’t matter much which sort of prey distress call you use—most modern electronic callers offer everything from a whitetail fawn to a house cat—as long as you set up within a coyote’s earshot.

The manner in which a coyote approaches a distress call depends on its security level, which is influenced by its latest experiences. An unpressured coyote will often come in quickly and boldly to almost any distress sound. A pressured coyote, however, will take much longer to approach a call. He’ll wait downwind of the sound before slowly slinking in, wary nose to the air.

Upon hearing the initial prey distress cries, the test coyotes would usually run to a downwind position without exposing themselves and remain there until we left. They would later approach our stand area to investigate. One wary old alpha pair (the male was 10 years old) waited 17 hours before approaching the calling location, and then spent 45 minutes at our stand site sniffing around.

The takeaway? One of the biggest mistakes you can make with a distress call is leaving a location too soon. Spend at least 30 to 45 minutes on stand.

Another important factor is the time of day you target coyotes. Only 10 percent of respondents in a recent poll of about 1,400 coyote callers said dawn was best. More than half the hunters chose 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., followed by 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and then dusk, each of which got about 20 percent of the vote.

Whines & Yelps
These nonaggressive vocalizations—often made by pups—are probably the most effective sounds in a coyote caller’s repertoire because they trip so many behavioral triggers at once. With the press of a button you can target social interaction, territorial instincts, and protective maternal/paternal instincts. At certain times of the year, a case could probably be made that you’re appealing to their hunger, too, since several studies have documented coyotes cannibalizing pups.

Before switching to a different sound, we’ll increase the volume and intensity of the whines and yelps for three or four series in order to reach out to distant coyotes. This has proven extremely effective in all seasons and geographic locations, and at any time of day.

Challenge Howl
The challenge howl is a misnomer. A challenge is an invitation to fight, to do battle, such as a monarch bull elk bugling at a satellite bull. Coyotes don’t do that. Biologists call this vocalization the threat-bark howl because it more accurately describes the intent of the coyote: to threaten and demand that the intruder leave. Now. Field observations have shown that coyotes (unlike wolves) will avoid fights whenever possible. A wolf pack will run down an intruder and kill it. A pack of coyotes will run down an intruder, make him submit, and then let him leave the territory.

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For these reasons, callers should use this vocalization only if they know they are set up in a pack’s core territory. If a caller sets up near a den during whelping or denning season, the results can be spectacular. Having resident coyotes charge in on a close, loud, aggressive call rivals any approach of a rutting buck or strut of a spring gobbler. However, if you set up in overlapping home ranges and demand that every coyote within hearing distance leave, they probably will.

The key to locating a pack’s core area is to home in on their group-yip howls. Listen for a pack’s group howl night after night. If you are able to pattern their howling with some regularity, you should be able to determine their core area. Once you’ve plotted that on a map or GPS, study the terrain. Coyotes will typically hide out in the thickest, most secluded cover in the area. Make an educated guess and move in close before threatening the pack.

Many callers will break off a stand when a coyote bark-threat howls in response to their distress calls because they believe that it means the coyote has busted them and will not approach. That’s not always the case. The coyote may simply be protesting the source of the sound even if it hasn’t identified it. You can often get a barking, threat-howling coyote to expose himself for a clear shot if you wait him out and weaken your return howls, keeping them less aggressive than the coyote’s. Another tactic is to retrace your steps and then circle around to a different location. If the coyote doesn’t see or scent you, you can call him in to the new setup with whines and whimpers.

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Group and Solo Howls
Coyote calling is a numbers game. You want to offer sounds that appeal to the largest number of coyotes without alarming or intimidating them. The most effective howl to draw them in is a lone howl that is low frequency, high pitched, and long. It announces the presence of an unknown, young, small, nonaggressive coyote that any other dog within hearing distance will be willing to investigate.

Louder, long-range howls are more likely to get howls in return, but they are less likely to draw a coyote in to your stand.

 

 

Knowing that, here’s a simple formula for success: Locate coyotes with a group-yip howl (the collective yowling that you have undoubtedly heard on calm evenings) and call them in to gun range with a lone howl.

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Most of those vocalizations are aggressive in nature. This is important to know because such vocalizations will alarm and/or intimidate most coyotes. Submissive coyotes will often retreat to their core areas after howls are broadcast and remain there until joined by another group member or until enough time has passed for them to call back or investigate. That’s the exact opposite of what you want your howls to do.

It is important to remember that coyotes will sometimes investigate the source of your group-yip howls, so don’t get caught unprepared.

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