Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tips For Finding Shed Antlers

© By Othmar Vohringer

Now that the weather gets warmer and the snow has melted head out in search for shed antlers. Provided you’re not a turkey hunter, shed hunting is a good way to overcome cabin fever. It’s also a good way to learn about the land you hunt, the deer that inhabit that land and enjoying the great outdoors.

However, wandering around willy-nilly hoping to stumble across a set of shed antlers will lead to noting much other than frustration.
Here are some tips on how to find shed antlers.

Scouting is to shed hunting success as important as it is to deer hunting. Study the land and the available food sources that are available to the deer in winter. Look for thick cover where bucks hide away during the harsh winter months.

In the winter and after the rut bucks form bachelor groups again, tired and nutritionally worn down form the rigors of the rut they retreat to wintering areas where they can find food and cover within close proximity. Find these hideouts and learn to identify what food sources are still available to the deer and you’re likely to find sheds from several bucks in that area.

In the winter bucks have two things on their mind. Eat and sleep. Bucks sleep, or rest, all day long to conserve energy, only getting up for short periods to feed. Bedding areas are usually found in dense cover where the bucks are somewhat sheltered from the cold winds and falling snow. During the day bucks soak up the warm rays of the winter sun on south facing hillsides and the south facing edge of forests.

While some bucks shed their antlers by trashing bush and low hanging branches, most lose their antlers through sudden movement like running and jumping, check places where deer trails cross fences, shallow creeks, ditches and other obstacles that deer have to jump over or crawl underneath.

She hunting is a slow and systematic process. Just walking around will not yield much success in finding sheds. Walk slowly and examine the ground near the features mentioned above closely, often only part of an antler will be exposed while the rest is buried under grass and forest debris.

If you want to learn more about antler shed hunting I recommend a well written book titled “A Guide To Finding White-Tailed Deer Antlers” by Joe Shead, an avid shed antler hunter for many years.



Monday, March 02, 2015

News: Vermont Considering Crossbows For Fall Archery Hunt

© By WILSON RING / Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board wants to expand the use of crossbows during the fall archery deer-hunting season, hoping to lure more hunters by making shooting easier and more precise.

Vermont currently allows archers to use crossbows only if they have a physical condition that prevents them from using a traditional vertical bow. Crossbows have rifle-like stocks and telescopic sights.

Officials hope the change will make an aging population of hunters stay with bow hunting or bring in others who don't feel they can master the vertical bow.

“That's a huge change,” said Rick Sanborn, the owner of R&L Archery in Barre, a store that sells archery, both traditional and crossbows, and other hunting and outdoors equipment.

About 6,000 of the 20,000 archery licenses sold each year go to crossbow users, and the number is going up, officials said.

“We have an aging population of hunters,” Sanborn said. “I'm a part of it. We're the Baby Boom Generation, and we're starting to fall apart. Every year there's more people who qualify.”

The Fish and Wildlife Board, which implements hunting and fishing regulations in the state, wants the new crossbow regulations implemented in time for this fall's archery hunt. The change must also be approved by the Legislature, said Mark Scott, the wildlife director for the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The crossbow proposal and several other changes to hunting regulations were developed by the board after a deer management study and two years of public input.

The archery season would also be expanded by 10 days, starting a week earlier and lasting three days longer into October, and archery and muzzle loading season deer limits would be reduced from three deer to two.

The board must approve the proposal three times before it can take effect. The first approval was last month.

Officials are planning to hold a series of hearings across the state at the end of March. Interested people can also submit written comments to the board through the Fish and Wildlife website.

Scott said nearly two dozen other states have some form of liberalized hunting with crossbows beyond just allowing disabled hunters to use them.

“The plus with crossbows ... is that people can become more proficient using the implement with a lot less practice than with a traditional bow,” Scott said. “The reality is that's probably not a bad thing.”

It will make it easier for people who might not have the time to practice with a bow to get out and bow hunt.

But it doesn't guarantee people will be able to get a deer.

“You still have to put yourself in the woods, in a natural environment, probably within 35 yards or less, to make a good, accurate clean shot,” Scott said.

The proposal isn't universally favored.

Arick Miller, 26, of Barre Town, who bow hunts every fall until he gets a deer, was practicing with a traditional bow on R&L's indoor archery range on Tuesday. He doesn't believe the use of crossbows should be expanded.

“Why not learn the bow and do it traditionally?” Miller said. “I was brought up on this thing. I'll never pick up one of those (crossbows) unless I'm disabled.”

See more at: Grandviwoutdoors.com

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day – So Much To Be Thankful For

© By Othmar Vohringer

Thanksgiving Day is a time to be together with family and friends.

For me Thanksgiving Day is also a time to remember and be thankful he people that helped me along the way of becoming a hunter. Most of them are now long gone but will never be forgotten.

I am thankful to my wife for her understanding and support of my whitetail deer passion, my family and the many friends with whom I share my passion for the hunt. It is all these people that helped me to become the person that I am today. I give thanks to my mentors that gave freely of their time to teach me how to become a responsible hunter and steward of nature. 

I also must give thanks for the hunt. I give thanks to the animals that provided the healthy organic meat for our meals and the lasting memories I carried away from each hunt. And finally, I am thankful to live in a country where it is my right to be a hunter and pursue my own happiness.

I wish all our American Whitetail Deer Passion readers a very Happy Thanksgiving Day.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tip of the Week: Whitetail Deer Behavior and Movement Pattern Studies Reveals How To Hunt Mature Bucks

© By Othmar Vohringer

In this "Tip of the Week" I would like to draw your attention to two interesting studies that had been done in order to learn more about buck travel patterns. Knowing how bucks behave during all stages of the rut enables hunters to make the right decisions on stand placement. In my profession as an animal behaviorist I have studied whitetail deer behavior at great length and I am convinced that the knowledge I gained from these studies ultimately were the biggest contribution to my success as a hunter.

Knowing the habits and behavior of whitetail deer will lead to a better understanding why animals do what they do. With that understanding we can develop strategies that ultimately will result in more encounters with mature whitetail deer bucks.

Where Are Bucks Hiding? New Study Reveals Insights into Buck Behavior is written by Daniel Xu for the OutdoorHub.com

GPS Reveals Early Season Buck Movement Patterns This article, posted on the Quality Deer Management Website, provides lots of charts and aerial images to illustrate buck movement patterns. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hunting Bucks On Public Land

© By Othmar Vohringer

I am probably not wrong with the assumption that most hunters in America and here in Canada hunt on public land. Here in North America we’re extremely lucky to have so much public land available to hunt. No matter where you live you never have to drive far to access public hunting land. The downside of public land hunting is that you have a lot of competition from other hunters, and that means hunting educated deer that are masters at humiliating hunters. Many hunters are of the opinion that public land does not hold big mature bucks, but looking at the Pope &Young or Boone & Crockett records will quickly reveal that every year a fair number of trophies are entered that have been taken on public land.

With that said, it is absolutely possible to take a big buck on public land. However, to do so you have to abandon everything that you have read or heard about buck hunting strategies. Most of the tactics discussed in the hunting media pertains to private land deer. Since I hunt most of the time public land deer I will reveal here what I have learned over the past 10 to 15 years.

Pay attention to the competition.
Humans are lazy and habitual. This means that hunters rarely venture far from the truck and almost always walk the same route and hunt the same spots season after season. Knowing this is important for the successful public land hunter. One of my preferred public land scouting times is right after the season closes. It is then that I am able to see the “sign” hunters have left behind and make notes of it. Just remember this, on public land hunters influence deer movement patterns.

Scout from home
.
Google Earth has become for me a vital public land scouting tool. It is on Google Earth where I can clearly see the structure and layout of the land before I even set foot onto the land. When I look at Google Earth I look for spots that other hunters often overlook. Out of the way places and locations that don’t look like deer holding areas peak my interest. Often a small woodlot out in the open is overlooked by other hunters and so are small swampy areas and places that are not easily accessible. Most hunters head for the field edges and the big timber. These are the areas deer go to ones the pressure intensives knowing that no hunter will bother them there.

Check the boundaries.
Public land often borders onto private farmland. Walking the boundaries will reveal deer trails that lead from the public land onto private land. Often times these trails are used by the deer during hunting season as escape routes, hanging a stand near such trails can provide you with good hunting opportunities. Just be early in the stand and wait for the other hunters to enter the land and push deer your way.

Barriers.
Many public hunting lands have rivers and streams flowing through them. Most hunters wouldn’t think of crossing waterways or are not equipped to do so. Deer on the other hand have no hesitation whatsoever to get their feet wet crossing rivers and streams to escape from hunters onto small islands, into swampy or tall grass patches. Walking along such waterways after the hunting season closes will show where deer cross rivers and streams. I’ve made it many years ago a practice of mine to always carry a pair of hip and chest waders with me when I scout and hunt on public land.

Conclusion.
Hunting public land can be frustrating and almost always is hard work. But rather than letting hunting pressure get to you, do as the deer do. Avoid the hunting pressure and other hunters by finding the places that other hunters overlook or can’t be bothered to get to it. With a little effort and scouting right after hunting season closes you will find these deer refuge areas.
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