Still learning from other hunters

I think one of the best ways to learn about hunting is by listening to others. If you like what you hear, you give it a try. If you don’t agree, keep doing what you think is best.

There are a few subjects I’m up in the air about. One involves light: Do red lights versus traditional white make a difference? I’ve read that a deer’s vision doesn’t pick up on red lights as well as typical white light, but I’m curious to hear what you think. I have both on my headlamp, but I’ll admit that sometimes I use the white light because I can see better. Am I making a big mistake?

Next topic: decoys.

What’s you opinion about deer decoys, and what decoy do you use and when? I’ve never used a decoy, but I’ve seen some hunters have success with them. My question would start with timing. Do you only use a buck decoy during the rut? Or pre-rut? I’d love to hear what you have to say about that subject.

Finally, I’m curious how many hunters out there have had success in the past rattling? I’ve heard some guys are putting down the rattling antlers altogether even during the rut, and sticking solely with grunt tubes. Is that a trend?

Please chime in and let me know your thoughts.

 

 

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Final checkup with a week to go for archery season

Friday, Sept. 25: I made my last trip to the stand I will hunt on opening day. My last two visits there I’ve found a bear has made a chew toy out of my camera strap. Luckily the camera survived the bear’s visit and appears to be working fine. As for the strap, it’s 12 inches shorter than the day before.

The bear has also found the Lifeline on my ladder stand a short distance away. I’m guessing he thinks that his toy now as well. The rubber gaskets over the clips have been pulled off twice. I’m guessing there’s a chance he’ll make an appearance in the weeks to come.

I did take about a 300 yard walk from Stand 1 to Stand 2 and did a little preparation along the way. I have to walk over an area of shale to get to the second stand, so I’ve periodically moved the rock out of the way. When I walk on the rock, I sound like a mountain goat, so I thought I’d cut down on the noise.

I’d rather not announce to the deer I’m walking into their territory.

The cameras have not revealed much lately when it comes to mature bucks, which is a little disappointing. The season is fairly long and it’s the best time of year to be in the woods, in my opinion. My target practice has been better than usual, so hopefully I get an opportunity at a deer.

If not, I’ll settle for a quiet morning watching the sun rise.

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Don’t educate your deer

I used to believe that the more I scouted in the preseason, the better hunter I could be when the season began.

The more I’ve read over the years, the less I’m believing that notion to be true.

Is scouting important? Yes, sure it is. But the key is to be smart while scouting. Years ago I’d make multiple trips a week into the woods checking trail cameras, searching for rubs, or just looking for areas to hunt. I may have been making the biggest mistake as a hunter.

As I drudged through the woods, I was probably educating the deer. What would happen if a bear walked around your house every third morning? You’d probably move. Well, guess what a deer would do if it found human scent, or even saw a person periodically in its range. Yep, it may move too.

So, this year more than ever I’m being as patient as I can in my hunting areas. I still have trail cameras on trails I hope will tell me deer are traveling, but I’m checking them far less then I have in years past.

The key is to be patient while scouting, and if you go into the woods, go in and out quietly. There’s no need to announce to the deer before the season begins that you will be hiding in his area come hunting season.

 

 

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Trust yourself and your equipment

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a very good shot with my bow. I’m OK, but shooting does not come natural to me.

I’ve shot four different bows in my lifetime: a 42-pound recurve as a kid, a Bear bow, a PSE, and the last two years I began shooting BowTech’s Allegiance. My experience has always told me the same story — I had better practice long and hard before I hit the woods.

I’ve made my share of changes over the years, which requires even more practice. New broadheads usually mean a new flight for my arrow. This year, with the help of Eddie Kiser at Dunkelberger’s in the West End, I paper tuned this bow. It was a smart move.

I was changing from expandable blades to a fixed blade (that’s another story), and I didn’t feel confident or comfortable in how my arrows were flying. A quick trip to Dunkelberger’s solved my problems.

It’s important to have confidence in your equipment, I think. If you can’t trust your equipment, how can you trust your arrow in flight? I’m feeling better these last few weeks with the way I’m shooting – 40 yards doesn’t feel like the risky shot anymore, though I won’t shoot any further.

It’s good to have personal limits. Some guys like to climb 25 feet, while others like to hunt from a ground blind. Go where you feel comfortable, shoot at a range that’s good for you, and by all means hunt with a weapon that fits you and not someone else.

And if you think something isn’t quite right, take it to someone who can help or could give you an idea of what to do. I’ve been hunting since I was 12, and I still listen to others when it comes to advice.

When it comes to shooting arrows, nothing beats the repetition of practice. The motion becomes second nature, and when the time comes to make a shot that counts, you can trust in yourself and your equipment.

 

 

 

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Huntstand helping me make a plan

There was a time when I didn’t think much about where I hunted or when I hunted or how I hunted.

Now, the more I read, the more I realize that having a plan is quite important. New technology is assisting me in making that plan.

Yes, there have been days when I just marched into the woods and climbed a tree and waited for a deer to walk by. Those days for me are gone. Now, with the help of an app called “Huntstand.com” I have marked stand locations on a map, and that app will tell me all kinds of information.

The biggest information on that ap may be wind direction. It’s a fantastic app – and importantly, it’s free – that not only tells me about the current wind direction, but what the forecast shows for future wind currents.

The ap also gives hunters the ability to mark stand locations, trails, trail cameras, measure land and moon phases. Did you find a rub or a scrape? You can make a note of that location on your map for future reference.

Huntstand also has useful tools for bird hunters as well.

If it can help make you a better hunter, it may be worth the time to download the app.

 

 

 

 

 

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2015 season has arrived

Well, that title may not be 100 percent officially accurate, but it has arrived for some of us.

As many of us know, the hunting season doesn’t start at sunrise on whatever season-opener you hunt, it starts well in advance. In sports they call it the pregame. The game before the game.

There’s the target practice, the buying of new clothes, boots and whatever else your wallet can support.

For me, my pregame began with a slight change in equipment. I’m switching to a Muzzy fixed blade this year. I wasn’t satisfied with the T3 from G5, not that it failed me in the field, but rather I grew tired of fixing spider clips in the field.

I’m giving Muzzy a shot on nothing more than I’ve read such good things about their broadhead products.

In the spring I changed boots as well. For the first time I’m hunting in LaCrosse Aerohead rubber boots. I loved them in the spring during gobbler hunts and I’m loving them all summer long on scouting hikes, setting trail cameras or treestands. LaCrosse has earned my business.

So now, like many, it’s time to practice and wait for opening day. October will be here before we know it.

 

 

 

 

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Hunters Sharing the Harvest an easy call

On the opening day of the season I was able to harvest a doe.

And then comes the hard part, deciding what to make with the venison. Jerky? Backstraps? Hamburger? Bologna? The list can be endless.

This year I took my deer to Nello’s, a meat market off the Belfast exit on Route 33. I’ve had deer processed there before and like their work. I’d also suggest Haydt’s if you live in the West End or Martinell’s if you live near Tannersville.

Haydt’s and Nello’s each partake in the Hunters Sharing the Harvest program, a free service to you that allows hunters across the state to share their venison with people in need. Hunters can share all or some of their venison as they wish.

Saturday, Dec. 13 is the final day of the two-week rifle season. With temperatures in the mid 30s, and no rain or snow in the forecast after Tuesday’s nor’easter moves threw the area, conditions should be ideal for hunters.

And if you think you have enough hamburger to fill your freezer like I did last year, consider asking about the Hunters Sharing the Harvest program. The reward of giving back to a needy family will leave you feeling better than you imagined, and maybe it will inspire someone in your hunting party to do the same in the future.

 

 

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Be smart, be safe

I read a few years ago a sad story of a young boy who accidentally shot his father.

The two were hunting, and while walking behind his father, the boy tripped and discharged his rifle, killing his father. I share this story because some accidents, not all though, can be avoided with some common sense.

I have a few personal rules that I follow, the first is especially true on the opening day of the rifle deer season, which kicks off Monday. That rule involves patience. Not having the patience while waiting for a deer to cross my path, but patience with fellow hunters.

Someone asked me about hunting the other day and I told them, “Opening day is like Black Friday in the woods.” They laughed. I wasn’t kidding. If you hunt public land, you know what I mean.

Another personal safety rule involves loading and unloading. I don’t walk in the dark with a loaded weapon. Why would I need a loaded weapon in the dark? Load up when you get to your stand location.

No. 3. Don’t look at other hunters through your scope. It’s a terrible practice and bad lesson for kids to see.

No. 4. Orange hats. Yes, they are mandatory and the PGC says it’s one of the top violations.

No. 5. Talk to your kids about this tradition of hunting and teach them about the right way to do things in the woods. Like all walks of life, let’s leave the next generation with something better.

Send your success photos to sports@poconorecord.com.

One of my favorite trail camera photos from this summer. This giant 9 pointer has some very long G3 tines.

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A picture tells …

There is nothing like a good picture to remember an event. Hunting is no different.

People tell me often, ‘Hey, I got a picture of a buck for you,’ only to see a deer in the back of a pickup truck with its tongue hanging out. Ugh.

My first advice for a photo is simple, take a bunch. I’m no photographer, but I can tell you that the more photos to pick from, the better.

My second piece of advice may be even more crucial, get close. Too often aunt Josie is 50 feet away taking the photo of cousin Lou and his deer. Move in!

The third piece of advice I have involves the setting. Move away from the shed, the trash cans and the road. You shot a deer in the woods, not in a parking lot.

On the right is a great photo of Mackenzie Borger, a junior at Pleasant Valley, who shot an 11-point buck in Long Pond with her crossbow. She was hunting with her brothers, Dylon and Dickson, and her cousin, Brandon Scheller.

Got a photo to share? Email it to sports@poconorecord.com and tell us about your hunt.

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First archery season comes to bitter end

They say, good things come to those who wait.

Baloney, I say.

I waited about six weeks, which included 30 hours of hunting in the final week, and went home empty-handed when it comes to filling my archery buck tag. I had some chances, had two encounters with a spectacular eight-point buck who avoided me like I was wearing a clown suit.

Let’s just say if you are keeping score: Deer 1, me 0.

Monday was my best day of the week. After spotting a buck with his nose to the ground, I thought there was a good chance my estrous scent was going to work at some point. Thirty minutes later a much larger buck had my heart racing cruised up the hill and out of sight.

Two or three subtle grunts and he returned only to take the exact same path 70 yards away and well out of my range.

It was an entertaining final week. I had a small bear and a 6-point buck within eyesight at the same time. The bear was at 20 yards, the buck at 40 and I was slightly uphill in the middle of each. Let’s just say it was an awkward 45 seconds as all three of us froze and waited for the other to blink.

The buck exited first.

I also saw a larger bear, twice to be exact, and a bobcat. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen a bobcat, and this one appeared healthy at 30 pounds if I had to guess.

So it’s back to the woods next week: Next up is the archery bear season. I’ve never taken a black bear, but hoping this may be a good chance considering the sightings I’ve had. With my luck, I’m guessing this is the week I have a racked buck in range.

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