Monday, November 18, 2013

Get A Rest

© By Othmar Vohringer


©Copyright Heidi Koehler Photography
A few years ago I accompanied one of my hunting partners on a moose hunt. I was a novice at moose hunting and came along for the ride providing a second pair of eyes and hoped to pick up a few hints and tips along the way. We may have driven for about half an hour along a logging road in the wee hours of the morning when I noticed some movement in the mist down in a swampy area. My hunting partner noticed the shadow in the mist too and stopped the truck. When the shadow stepped onto the road in front of us we saw that it was a legal moose. My partner jumped out of the truck, slammed the clip into the rifle, worked the bolt and a second later the .30-06 barked loud and I saw wood splinters fly off a tree about three feet above the back of the moose. “You missed by about three feet, hold lower” I said to my partner. Again the gun went off. This time I saw a small cloud of dust just behind the moose. “You missed again” said I and he responded with “Damn rifle”. The third shot at the quickly departing moose also hit a tree.

After listening to my friend’s excuses of why he missed I ventured the opinion that perhaps he should have gotten a rest before he pulled the trigger on the rifle. “What rest do you mean? I slept very well thank you very much” he replied. No, I was not talking about that kind of rest but rather resting your rifle on something to steady your aim and increase shooting accuracy. Shooting off hand is without question the most unreliable way to get a clean killing shot at an animal. There are only a few hunters that are capable of shooting accurately off hand, and even they only manage some kind of consistency at very short distances. Depending on speed of the bullet and distance to the target a fraction of an inch of movement of the barrel at the moment you pull the trigger can be as much as ten inches or more off the target downrange.

Friday, November 15, 2013

How Do You Pass Your Time In A Treestand?




“How Do You Pass Your Time In A Treestand?” This was an actual question a hunter asked on one of the many hunting social forums proliferating the internet. The person then went on to elaborate on how bored he gets sitting for hours motionless in his treestand as he waits for a deer to walk by. What followed the initial question of the poster was quite amusing and entertaining to read. 

Most of the forum members advised that they pass their time via cell phone, connecting with friends on Facebook, Twitter and other online networks. One of them proclaimed “I am actually right now in my treestand and checking out the latest posts on this forum.” A few others wrote that they take a book with them to read while in the stand, others read their favourite hunting magazine while others watch hunting TV shows on their newfangled electronic devices.

Interestingly enough from the 40 plus replies to the question not a single one of them mentioned that they hunt while on stand. Hunting deer from treestands is still somewhat new to British Columbia, and yes, it is the most effective way to ambush deer, particularly the wily whitetail deer. However, to take full advantage of a treestand scouting for the exact location of deer travel hotspots is of paramount importance. Just hanging a stand somewhere along a deer trail can have a hunter sit for many hours and days on stand without ever seeing a deer.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Not Your Usual Whitetail Deer Habitat

When we think of whitetail deer habitat we think of lush river bottoms, hardwood ridges or farm lands, and yes these are prime whitetail deer areas. When I arrived in the southern interior of British Columbia with its rolling hills and open ranch grass lands I thought of mule deer, black bears, cougars and perhaps populations of grouse in the scattered aspen and brush pockets.

Anything but whitetail country but yet they are there too, not in the numbers you typically would see elsewhere… but they are there and the numbers are growing each year. Whitetail deer are adaptable to almost any terrain between the swamps of Florida and the alpines of northern British Columbia. It is this adaptability that makes the whitetail deer one of the most successful wildlife species in North America.

The southern interior of British Columbia is well known for its good population of trophy sized mule deer bucks and attracts hunters from all over the province. Over the last few years we also see more and bigger whitetail deer bucks been taken. Just last week, while sitting in Tim Hortons with my wife a truck drove onto the parking lot with a massive whitetail deer in the back that the hunter shot just outside Merritt.

It takes a special strategy to hunt these whitetails here. Forget treestands, ground blinds or sitting on deer trails. Here we hunt whitetails like mule deer, glassing the distant slopes, ridges and edges of aspen pockets. If a buck is spotted we try to stalk close enough for a shot. I say “try” because unlike the more docile mule deer the whitetails ever vigilant nature makes stalking in open country much more difficult. Unlike mule deer a whitetail will not stick around for a while or only jog a little distance before they stop and look back at you. (This often can be their downfall as it provides a hunter the opportunity to get a quick shot off.) No, if a whitetail becomes aware that it is been stalked it gets up and runs, never to be seen again.

For me it was a big learning curve to hunt whitetails any other way then from treestands or ground blinds but now that I am getting the hang of  stalking them I’ve to admit, it is great fun.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

The Good And The Bad Of Public Land Hunting

© Othmar Vohringer

Does of you that read Whitetail Deer Passion regularly know that I hunt often on public land. Here in Canada we call it Crown Land. The general consensus among hunters is that hunting on public land is nothing short of a nightmare. Yes it can be though to compete with many other hunters and spooky deer but it is not all bad either.

Here are a few examples of the good and bad based on the personal experience I gathered over the years.

Let’s start with the good points first.
  1. You can sleep a few hours longer. Every other hunter is in the woods before first light until about 8:00am to 9:00am then they go home and don’t come back until late afternoon. Deer know about this human habit and adjust their movement patterns accordingly. If you get an hour before the other hunters go home to your stand you catch deer moving about.
  2. Rather than scouting for deer sign scout for human sign. Figure out what the other hunters do and where they set up their stands and then look for the escape routes the deer use. The escape routes are where you want to set up and wait until the other hunters start pushing deer your way. Also look for the places other hunters avoid. Things like flooded timber, marshes, small woodlots, tickets and other “unlikely” places, because that is where the deer go when the pressure starts to build.
  3. Talk to the farmers in the area because they have pretty good grasp on what the deer are doing and where they go once the hunter invasion begins.
  4. No matter where you live in North America there is public hunting land within one hour drive of your home and you don’t have to pay an access fee or take out a second mortgage to pay for the lease.
  5. Despite what you hear to the contrary, there are mature bucks on public land. I've shot quite a few nice bucks where nobody expected to see big bucks. They are there you just have to hunt them very different then you would on private land. 
Now let’s examine a few of the not so good points.
  1. You will have to compete with lots of other hunters and that can make a little uncomfortable as far as safety is concerned. On public land I wear a hunter orange vest and hat on my way to and from the stand during bowhunting season. During the firearm season I wear even more hunter orange for the duration of the hunt and regardless if it is the law or not. Having been shot at ones I can assure it is not a nice feeling.
  2. If you hunt from a treestand don’t leave it on the tree. Even if the stand is chained and bolted to the tree is can, and often will be, stolen. Over the years I had two stands stolen that I thought were adequately secured to the tree with chains and padlocks. It seems treestand thieves arrive equipped with bolt-cutters and ladders. I thought just taking the climbing stick down would be sufficient to secure the stand in addition to chain and padlock. I was sadly mistaken.
  3. There is always the chance that your “hotspot” is also the “hotspot” of five other hunters. It happened a few times to me that I climbed into my stand and not much later heard hunters climbing into trees to either side of me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Are You Overanalyzing Hunting?

© By Othmar Vohringer

There used to be a period in my hunting career where I would analyze everything down to the smallest detail. While this can be a good thing it also can quickly turn into self-doubt caused by trying to analyze too much. I used to ask myself all kinds of questions before a hunt.

Things like.

What stand should I hunt today? Will the wind be right for that stand? Will the deer move by that particular stand or elsewhere? In addition to all this, and more, I was concerned about the wind, weather, moon phase, the gear I had with me and on, and one it went.

I constantly asked myself; “What if?” The questions and analytical process seemed endless. It came to a point were hunting became a chore rather than an enjoyable time in the deer woods. One day a few seasons ago I just had enough of it all and told myself. “Just go hunting.” Ever since that day I enjoy hunting more and appreciate the time in the woods more.

Hunting has become too complicated, when in fact it is simple. If you’re doing your scouting right then what else can you do? With years of hunting experience under by belt I remind myself that I should trust my knowledge and gut feeling more. I’ve been a successful hunter before I started to worry about every little detail and I am still a successful hunter now. But now I enjoy hunting more again.

The lesson learned here is. Don’t overanalyze hunting too much. Just go out and hunt.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Best Places In North America To Hunt B&C Trophy Deer

© By Othmar Vohringer

While some hunters don’t care much about trophy deer hunting for others it is a different story. For those hunters looking to hunt that once in a life time trophy whitetail deer buck I’ve sorted through the B&C record book to figure out which American state and Canadian province offers the best chance to fulfill that dream. Here are the top ranking US states and Canadian Provinces, listed according to the entries in the B&C trophy records.

1. Wisconsin, 383 entries
2. Illinois, 299 entries
3. Iowa, 224 entries
4. Ohio, 215 entries
5. Missouri, 214 entries
6. Kentucky, 199 entries
7. Indiana, 195 entries
8. Kansas, 181 entries
9. Minnesota, 172 entries
10. Saskatchewan, 147 entries
11. Texas, 132 entries
12. Alberta, 115 entries
13. Nebraska, 78 entries
14. Oklahoma, 48 entries
15. Ontario, 41 entries
16. Arkansas, 40 entries
17 (tie). Michigan, 39 entries
17 (tie). Mississippi, 39 entries
19. North Dakota, 31 entries
20. Pennsylvania, 26 entries
21. New York, 25 entries
22. South Dakota, 24 entries
23 (tie). Georgia, 23 entries
23 (tie). Maryland, 23 entries
25 (tie). British Columbia, 19 entries
25 (tie). Maine, 19 entries
27. Virginia, 17 entries
28. Tennessee, 15 entries
29. Colorado, 13 entries
30. Idaho, 11 entries

For more information on the Boone & Crockett Club, visit www.Boone-Crockett.org
 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Watch Out For Deer Crossing Road Signs

 © By Othmar Vohringer

Hunting Tip Of the Week:

Deer crossing signs alert drivers to be careful of deer crossing the street. Usually such signs are posted where over the years several deer/vehicle accidents have occurred.

For hunters these sign have an additional meaning. It means that the stretches of road where such signs are set up are traditional deer travel corridors. Such places are a good starting point to look what’s on either side of the road that makes the deer cross on that particular place. It is not uncommon to find some type of food source and structure that are hot deer magnets.

Before you run off and start scouting make sure it is not private land, if it is, get permission before you set foot onto the property. Over the years I had good luck discovering deer hunting hotspots by starting to scout at deer crossing road signs. While some of these traditional deer crossings are active all year others may just be used by the deer at specific times of the year. In any case, the areas near a deer crossing road sign are always worth a closer look.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Summit Treestands Recalls Crush Treestand Series

© By Othmar Vohringer

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Summit Treestands, LLC, announced today a voluntary recall of the following consumer product.

Name of Product:

Crush Treestand Series Models: Perch, Stoop and Ledge hang-on model treestands.

Units affected from this recall: About 2,900

Hazard: The treestand’s hanging strap assembly could dislodge from the treestand or fail to restrain or hold properly on the tree, posing a fall hazard. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.

Description: The recalled treestands have the following names and item numbers:

Crush Series Perch, number 82069.

Crush Series Stoop, number 82070.

Crush Series Ledge number 82071.

The treestands include the main stand platform and seat with a green cinch strap and a tan tree stand hanging strap assembly, which consists of one nylon strap with a hook and an adjustment portion with a metal buckle and a matching nylon tab and a hook. This hanging strap assembly has the recalled item numbers printed on the safety label attached near the buckle.

The recalled products are old at: Hunting stores and in catalogs such as Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s and others across the U.S.A. and canada from July 2012 through August 2012 for between $70 to $100.

WARNING: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled treestands and contact Summit Treestands to receive a free replacement hanging strap assembly.

Consumer Contact: Summit Treestands, LLC, toll free at (855) 373-9808, anytime or website www.summitstands.com click on the Recall icon for more information.

(Image courtesy of Summit Treestands)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

River Bottom Hunting Success

© By Othmar Vohringer

On Saturday, October 13, I went to one of my favorite stand locations for a morning hunt. From dawn to 10 am I've seen only one doe with a fawn. I went home and decided to come back in the evening. In the evening I passed by a river bottom on private land where I've permission to hunt.

As I glassed the fields I saw about 50 mule and whitetail deer in the field, among them several small bucks. The big bucks wait until nightfall before they come out. One of the smaller bucks, a mule deer, caught my eye because of his very unusual rack. I decided then and there to abandon my initial plan to hunt my other stand and instead take this buck. I sneaked as close as I could without spooking the deer and hunkered down behind the field irrigation pump. As I ranged the distance it showed 280 yards. It's a bit of a long shot for me but I am confident on taking them. The crosshairs settled on the bucks vitals, the Weaterby Vanguard .270 barked and sent the Federal Accu-Bond 130 grain bullet on its deadly mission.

Upon impact the buck kicked his hind legs hard upward, indicating a hit in the heart. Then he jumped across the creek and disappeared from sight into the thick stuff. It took me almost an hour to retrieve and drag him back across the creek. The hardest part was dragging him through the thick underbrush back to the creek. Thankfully my wife was on hand to give me a hand between documenting the event with her camera for an upcoming article on hunting river bottom deer.

Usually I don't hunt this river bottom until late October when the foliage is all off the trees and bushes. The reason for that is that with the foliage still on it is nearly impossible to see more then a few steps ahead of you. Yes the river bottom is that thickly overgrown with trees, vines, and low growth brush...your typical deer paradise.

River bottoms can be very hard to hunt due to their small size - deer quickly catch on to hunters - and they are often hard to get to it. The reason why I love river bottoms more then any other structure is twofold.

1. They are deer magnets. River bottoms provide everything deer need to survive. Lush and plentiful food all year long -even in the winter - and lots of cover that provides security for deer.

2. Above all I like river bottoms because most hunters avoid these places like the plague because as mentioned they are hard to get to and hard to hunt. Most river bottoms require that the hunter has a boat or a lest a pair of good hip-waders.

Getting to river bottom deer hot spots often requires boats or hip-waders. 

Shooting a deer in a river bottom is the easy part...
...dragging them back though the thick tangle of brush and across the creek to the waiting truck can be real hard work.

I'll be back in that river bottom at the end of October and see if I can tag that big whitetail deer buck I've seen there earlier in the year. I love hunting these river bottom deer.

(Images courtesy of Heidi Koehler Photogrpahy

Monday, October 08, 2012

Are Trophy Records Destroying Hunting As We Know It?

© By Othmar Vohringer

For years I have been saying that the “trophy” aspect of hunting perpetrated in every magazine and hunting TV show eventually will backfire on our hunting heritage. It is my contention that if trophy record books would only give credit to the animal without the name of the hunter they would go quickly out of business. The reason hunters enter trophy’s in these books is for the sole reason to see their name in print. In magazines and hunting TV shows trophy animals are used solely for the purpose to sell products and to give “testimony” that the writer or TV show presenter is an “expert”.

Now don’t get me wrong. I like to kill a trophy animal as much as the next guy but to me it is not a contest and I certainly never would enter one in a record book. I am not a trophy hunter and I am not a meat hunter either. I am just a hunter. While I fully respect that some hunters may only hunt for a trophy animal to please their own ego or their own sense of achievement it needs to be mentioned that the trophy hype does affect new and young hunters in a very negative way. How so? I lost count of how many times I heard a young or new hunter say something like; “I will not waste a bullet on a lesser animal.” Or “I want to be a trophy hunter.” These are all people that may go many years without killing a deer waiting for that big trophy buck. They do so because they want not to be ridiculed by their peers for shooting a lesser animal.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Whitetail Deer Hunting Tactics: Read All About It

© Othmar Vohringer

Common belief has it that outdoor writers are the lucky ones because they can spend all their time in great outdoors. While I admit that I call myself “lucky” I do not spend all my time outdoors. A good part of my time as an outdoor writer is used up in my office writing about the outdoors. Proof of that are my new articles published this fall in the BC Outdoors and western Sportsman magazine, available on the newsstands now.

Western Sportsman magazine. September/October 2012: Beat Them To It. On page 69 I reveal seven of my favourite early season deer hunting tactics that may help you too to get an early season buck this year. Here is a teaser.
Hunt Escape Routes.
For most hunters there is nothing worse than having to share the same area with hordes of other hunters. In fact, dealing with all the other hunters used to be the reason why I rarely went out in the early season. Not anymore! I learned how to use the other hunters as my involuntary deer drivers. When hunting highly pressured areas I forget about scouting for deer sign. Instead, I scout for other hunters and the sign they leave behind. Given the habitual human nature the hunters will do the same things again this season. Try to find trail markers hunters have left behind (they always do), stand locations and easy walking and driving access routes to the area.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Coyotes Kill More Deer Then Other Predators Do

© By Othmar Vohringer

A long-term study by the Carnivore Ecology Laboratory at Mississippi State University in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan revealed that coyotes killed more adult and fawn whitetail deer than wolves, bears, bobcats or any other predator. The study group uses radio collars on adult and fawn whitetails to track their movements, choice of habitat and causes of mortality. The scientists also use GPS collars to track top predators, such as coyotes, wolves, bears and bobcats.

The study revealed that, for the third straight year, coyotes are responsible for the killing of more adult and fawn deer than other predators. In one study the coyotes have preyed on seven adult deer, wolves on three deer, bear and bobcats on one each. In that same timeframe coyotes also killed 22 fawns, bobcats 12, bears and wolves each killed four fawns. Researchers also observed one fawn deer being killed by a bald eagle.

The study is still ongoing, but the trend that coyotes, besides humans, play a major role in deer kills is increasing.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Good Day For Deer Photography

© By Othmar Vohringer

Yesterday was a gloriously nice day day. For the first time it felt like spring here in Merritt. My wife and I celebrated that day by taking our cameras and driving out on a Nicola Valley photography tour. In all the years we live here we've never seen that many deer out and about in the fields in the middle of the afternoon. Deer where everywhere and by the time we came back home we must have seen over 100 deer. Here are a few images from yesterday.

Part of the first group of deer we spotted on a hillside at a cattle ranch.
Another section of a group consisting over 30 deer in a alfalfa field near a lush river bottom.
A few miles further along the highway another group of deer... This went on like that all afternoon. No matter where we drove or walked we saw deer everywhere.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Whitetail Deer Hunting Seminar

Our Fish & Game Club has asked me to provide one of my all day hunting seminars as a fund raiser toward the building of the new archery range. If you live near Merritt, BC plan on attending. This is going to be a great event with lots to learn, fun and entertainment while doing something good for our fellow hunters.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Late Season Buck Hunting Tactics

© By Othmar Vohringer

It is early December and in most regions, other than in some Canadian provinces, the rut is winding down to the post rutting stages. With most does breed bucks change their behaviour once again. With the breeding frenzy over and food sources limited bucks concentrate their efforts on gaining back the weight they lost during the rut. Now the buck’s main activity consists of sleeping and feeding to gain the necessary strength to make it through the harsh winter. Many hunters, me included, believe that the post-rut is one of the best times to kill a monster buck. Why?

During the rut bucks chase does day and night and there is no predictable way to determine where they will turn up next. After the rut is over bucks stay in one core area where they can find sufficient cover and food in close proximity. As an additional bonus bucks become more tolerant of each other and it is quite common that several bucks share one core area. But make no mistake late season bucks are no easy pushovers. Even at that time of year bucks are still weary. The bucks that survived the early and rut hunting seasons are skittish and have little tolerance for human intrusion in their core area.

While many big bucks have been taken by stalking them I don’t regard this as the most effective late-season hunting tactic. Granted there it is a special experience to track a buck in the snow and getting close enough to it to shoot it. A much more successful late-season buck hunting tactic is to set up a treestand or ground blind. To find a promising stand site some careful scouting is necessary. Look for a thicket, the thicker the better, in close proximity to a food source. If there is snow on the ground it is not hard to find well-worn trails leading out of the thicket to the food source. Hang a stand or set up a ground blind somewhere in between the two locations, possibly not to close to the bedding area (thicket). Make sure the wind is right and that the stand is far enough away from the thicket that the bucks cannot hear you approach the stand when you walk through the crunchy snow.

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