Monday, September 29, 2014

How To Score Your Whitetail Deer Trophy?

© By Othmar Vohringer

Over the years of writing Whitetail Deer Passion I get a lot of questions about how to score a whitetail deer trophy buck. Rather than writing about it I do one better and let Stan Potts, probably America's most respected whitetail deer hunter, tell and show you exactly how to score your trophy whitetail buck.


For more information on trophy qualifications, registration and rules visit:

Boone & Crockett Club Org. Trophies taken with firearms.
Pope & Young Club Org. Trophies taken with archery equipment (Crossbows are excluded).

If you would like to share your trophy whitetail story with the readers of Whitetail Deer Passion, look here for more information.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hunting Whitetail Deer From The Ground

© By Othmar Vohringer

There is no denying it, the popular and most effective way to hunt whitetail is from treestands and will most likely remain so in the future. Another method that enjoys a growing popularity, especially with the aging generation of deer hunters, are pop-up blinds. These blinds can be set up quickly with little fuss and are easy and light to transport. Some of the better quality pop-up blinds not only conceal the hunter they also provide shelter from wind and rain since they are, to a degree, waterproof. For many eastern hunters the pursuit of whitetail deer from the ground must seem something only a crazy person would attempt. Granted hunting bucks at eye-level can be extremely difficult, but with a little planning and relearning it is absolutely possible.

Before I moved to British Columbia I did all my deer hunting from treestands, and while I still hunt a fair amount of my time in the woods from stands I have adopted the “western way of hunting” with a great measure of success. Hunting from the ground is “how hunters roll in the west” and it rubbed off on me.

As mentioned above when you hunt from the ground it requires a different set of skills to find a proper ambush site. It is here where good scouting skills pay huge divides. Instead of treestands and pop-up blinds I use the available topography and natural material, such as branches, tall grass and dead-fallen trees as a natural blind. The good thing about natural blinds is that they are very quickly constructed, you do not have to haul them around and they always fit into the existing landscape, unlike many pop-up blinds that need additional camouflaging and have to be set up before hunting season to give the deer time to get used to it. When I hunt deer at eye-level all I carry with me as additional gear is a lightweight stool, a pair of branch clippers and a small folding saw. The stool provides me with comfort and with the aid of the clippers and folding saw I can turn any spot within seconds into a formidable ground blind and no deer will pay any attention to it. More often than not I do not need to make any alterations whatsoever, sitting behind a bush, a clump of tall grass, a thick tree trunk or a dead-fall tree will suffice. Nature is full of hiding places for hunters. You just have to learn to recognize them.

Mobility

Hunting from the ground, without a stand or commercial blind makes me extremely mobile. I am able to set up everywhere I want to and be ready to hunt in less than a minute without having to look for a suitable tree to accommodate my stand or a sport for the pop-up blind . If the wind is right I can hunt right away and if the wind changes on me I can get up a leave in a second and find a spot nearby that is perfect. Mobility also reduces the chances of deer catching on to you, which is what often happens when you hunt the same stand or blind several times.

Camouflage

When hunting on the ground camouflage becomes really important. Good camouflage does not only break the human outline up but lets you get away with slight movement that you need to shoulder your rifle or pull the bowstring back. The best camouflage I found that works perfectly for that type of hunting is the 3-D leafy suit from ASAT. There are many different brands on the market but in my opinion ASAT beats them all. I also found Predator Camouflage to be very useful and consequently wear almost exclusively ASAT and Predator camouflage for over 15 years now.

If you look for camouflage made for hunters, not "outdoor athletes", check out the Day One Camouflage company. This is a great company that makes top quality garments in many different camouflage patters to an affordable price and provides excellent costumer service.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Good Deer Hunting Information To Tie You Over To The Start Of The Hunting Season

© By Othmar Vohringer

Here in British Columbia the hunting season started on the 1st of September but most everywhere else in North America it is still a few days of waiting and anticipating. To shorten the waiting period and to provide you with a few additional tips that might prove helpful I provide you here with a selection of great articles and information of all things deer hunting.

With the weather only getting colder each day as the hunting season goes on these “7 Rules for hunting cold fronts” provide valuable information that will benefit you ones the freeze is on.
Outdoor Life, 7 Rules for hunting cold fronts by Mark Kenyon

There are still a number of hunters who think that calling deer is a waste of time. The facts are, however, that under the right conditions and with the right set up deer calling can be just the ticket you need to lure that big elusive buck in. Alan Clemons tells you how in his article “Don’t be afraid of grunting for your bucks”.
Deer and Deer Hunting, Don’t be afraid of grunting for your bucks by Alan Clemons

For the hunters that do not fully understand how important scouting is and what knowledge can be gained from it in selecting the perfect deer ambush. Here is one of my own articles that was published in the Western Sportsman magazine last year.
Mapping out deer hunting success

Hunting from a treestand is without question the best way to ambush whitetail deer. However, for safety, comfort and ease of set up it is important to choose the right treestand for you and the environment you hunt. My article “Treestand hunting essentials” explains how to choose the perfect treestand model that is right for you personally and the habitat you hunt.
Treestand hunting essentials

I hope that these tips help you out and wish you the best of luck in the upcoming hunting season.

If you like you can share your 2014 hunting stories with the readers of Whitetail Deer Passion.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

New Study Confirms That Coyotes Can Severely Affect Deer Populations


© By Othmar Vohringer

Read a great article by Tim Burton on outdoornews.com. A new study revealed again that coyotes have a severe impact on whitetail deer and their behaviour.

I wrote about coyotes and the negative impact they have on our deer herds back in 2012 and it seems that each consecutive study comes up with the same results.

Here is my article from 2012 and here you can read the article written by Tim Burton “Do whitetails alter their habits to avoid coyotes.”

It is my long standing opinion that every deer hunter and deer conservationist must make time during the hunting season, or at any other time of the year*, to hunt coyotes.

(** Some areas permit coyote hunting throughout the year with no bag limits)

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Share Your 2014 Deer Hunting Story With The Readers Of Whitetail Deer Passion

© By Othmar Vohringer


Hunting season is upon us, and for others soon will be, with that I would like to bring up an old custom that I started here at Whitetail Deer Passion many years ago.

Share your deer hunting story with our readers on Whitetail Deer Passion.

Whitetail Deer Passion has always been about sharing information with others be that success stories, mistakes and missed opportunities, we want to hear from you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a “trophy” or “meat” hunter, we’re all hunters.

To take part in “Share your 2014 Deer Hunting Story” simply send an email to (atacov(at)yahoo.ca) with a short description of the hunt and what led to the success or missed opportunity. Include a photo or two and describe your hunting tactics and what you used (bow, crossbow, muzzleloader, slug gun, rifle ect.)

As hunters we learn from the success of others as much as we do from mistakes. So you would like to have your story featured on Whitetail be sure to send me your photos and story this season.

Please Note: You will retain all the rights to your story and images at all times and only provide me with the license to publish your material on Whitetail Deer Passion.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Pre-Season Preparations: Read And Understand The Hunting Regulations

© By Othmar Vohringer

An important part of preparing for the hunting season is to read and understand the hunting regulations in the area you hunt. Yet, I am baffled each year how many hunters, even so called celebrity hunters, are caught in violation of game hunting laws. The usual excuse is; “I didn’t know.”

There is simply no excuse for not keeping up and be familiar with the laws and regulations pertaining to hunting. Wildlife conservation needs can, and often do, change from one year to the next and if you do not know and shoot the wrong deer or at the wrong time you could get in to serious and expensive trouble. Take my hunting region for example. Due to declining moose populations the Wildlife Services stipulated that the moose hunting season start in November and for two weeks only, whereas in the previous year moose season was held in late September to October. The season has not started yet and hunters already “look forward” to the September moose hunting season. If theses hunters go out and shoot a moose they are poachers and will be treated as such when caught, and quite rightly so!

It is our duty to keep abreast of changing laws and regulations and with every region making hunting regulations available on the Internet nobody has an excuse not to be informed.

The most important part of pre-season hunting preparations is to know and understand the rules and regulations, even if you hunt with an outfitter in another US State or Canadian Province. Not knowing the rules will not prevent you from getting your butt kicked, the excuse that you didn’t know or that the outfitter hasn’t told you will fall on deaf ears in the court room.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Pre-Season Hunting Tip: Stay Out Of The Woods

© By Othmar Vohringer

Here in British Columbia bowhunting season started on September 1st. In most of North America hunting season is still a month away. It never fails, a month before hunting season opens I notice a lot of hunter activity, hunters checking their trail cameras, doing last minute scouting trips, hanging or moving treestands and placing bait were permissible. In a way this activity is understandable. It’s only a month to go until hunting season and most hunters are itching to get out.

But believe me. It is the worst thing you can do. All that work you’re doing now should have been done a month ago. Now is the time to stay out of the woods. Any activity you do now only serves one purpose putting the deer on edge. Think like a deer. All year it is quiet in the woods, then a month before hunting season human activity increases a hundredfold, all this does is make the deer alert.

If you did your due diligence during the spring and summer scouting you know what trails the deer use at any given time during the hunting season and you have placed your stands accordingly. If you didn’t do that then it is too late now.

A month before the season let the deer relax and resume their normal travel and feeding patterns. The day hunting season opens is the day you go into the hunting area and sit on your stand. This is the best chance you will get at opening day hunting success. Conversely running around in the woods now checking cameras, hanging stands and scout will diminish your chance at an opening day buck.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Is Shed Antler Hunting Licensing In Our Future?

© By Othmar Vohringer

The thought that we need a license to collect shed antlers seems ridiculous to many hunters. Yet if new laws in Nevada, Utah and Montana catch on with other states shed antler licensing could soon become a nationwide mandatory requirement.

Utah requires a mandatory “Antler Gathering Ethics” course and established season dates during which hunters can gather them.

The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners voted to prohibit shed antler collection between January 1st and April 15th. It is not required to be licensed to go shed antler hunting. However such a step might be considered in the future.

Montana established antler colleting seasons for all their Wildlife Management Units. It’s interesting to note that Montana, Nevada and Utah claim that the increasing popularity of shed antler hunting made such regulation necessary. We have seen it before when governments sense “increased popularity” in an activity they also sense revenue that could be obtained and therefore a “need” to regulate and license.

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.
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