Whitetail Hunting – Why We Hunt!!!

Acts 10:13 says, Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” So if ever you wonder why we do what we do, it’s right there in scripture. In fact I would go farther and say it is because we are made in His image as warriors but I will save that part of our nature for a future rant. But getting back to the hunting piece. We are called to do it and it often translates into a gift and a passion we are compelled to pursuit. I used to joke that God’s gift to me was that he made me a hunter, His sense of humor, was I would never make a dime with my gift and to this day that part is true.

God's Creatures for Us to Enjoy

However I don’t really care about making any money in the hunting world, I only know that when in the woods, I feel close to the Father. I get to see the wonder of His creation as He intended it to be. And I understand that He put me in charge of it, to preserve it and to pass the love of it on to others. That is why I hunt, to be close to Him and do His will.

God Bless, Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

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Whitetail Hunting – Where to Hunt in Texas

If you haven’t booked a hunt yet and you are looking for a place where the opportunity to take a good buck exists and you will get treated like royalty I would recommend Krooked River Ranch (KRR.com) in north Texas. Roy and Becky Wilson have a great operation and can provide hunts for all levels of hunters. It is 100% fair chase and although I can guarantee you a great hunt I won’t guarantee you a deer. Unlike some places that I would classify your hunt on a level of “canned hunt”, where the deer wear ear tags.

In fact, I was just reading an advertisement for a hunting excursion where they guarantee a buck in the 170-180 inch class, a no kill and you don’t pay fee structure. This makes me think that they have the deer tied up somewhere and parade them out like a suit at a tailors shop, offering you a choice for the once in a lifetime buck. Once, that is, until the next time. I guess I fail to see the fun in shooting fish in a barrel or cows in a pen. I have known men who didn’t care how they achieved their goal but they were never the kind of man I wanted to spend any time with at a deer camp.

The reason most of us hunt, especially whitetail deer, is that we never know what we are going to encounter when we step into the woods. Sure the more we prepare and sharpen our skills, the higher the odds are in our favor, but we know it is not a sure thing. In fact, I would be willing to venture a guess that most top notch hunters, Stan Potts or Larry Weishuhn, would never place the odds of their harvesting a Boone and Crocket buck at higher than 1-3% on any given hunt. And these guys know what they’re doing, which means the odds for guys who are a notch down are at less than 1%. Not that it won’t happen, cause, hey even a blind pig will find an acorn every now and then, right. So we all go afield in hope of seeing our dream deer.

This is the core definition of fair chase and why high fence ranches don’t have the term “fair” in their title. The fact is you can locate that 200 inch deer on a high fence ranch on most any day of the week and if you don’t, well you can try again tomorrow, he may have just been bedded up for a period of time. Now contrast that to a fair chase ranch and you have no idea if that buck is around or even still alive. He may have decided to put on his rambling hooves to another ranch, even though you have food and cover, the fact is he might have decided to see what the doe life was like on down the road and that is what makes the game so exciting and why most fair chase hunters shoot when given the chance at their buck. They can’t guarantee that buck will be there tomorrow.

So as for me, I’d rather have a long shot at a 150 inch deer, than a sure thing at a 200 inch deer anytime. For me, that’s what fair chase is all about, no guarantee’s.

God Bless, Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

taken by the author

A Krooked River Giant, taken by the author, guided by Roy Wilson

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Whitetail Hunting – Pass It On!!!

I must admit that this is a hard entry to write, even now after a couple of years since his passing. It just doesn’t seem like hunting season without my pop and I must admit most of the year I do okay about missing him, right up until opening day. Now I wouldn’t be a deer hunter if it hadn’t been a passion for my dad. He passed it on to me and I hope to pass it on to my daughters. So far I have managed to convert my wife to the sport and have had the good fortune to take many others on their first deer hunt. And guys it’s not hard to convert your wife, just be careful, they may out hunt you. They come with the ability to out last us at the mall where they are hunting for a pair of shoes or the best deal on a blouse (that’s a shirt guys in case you didn’t know).

Two years ago I sat in my dad’s blind (a permanent structure that has so many broken thermos bottles underneath it I lost count) and shot a big hog in his feeder. Later that same weekend the make shift roof I had over the blind dumped a couple of gallons of water on me out of the blue. I must admit that it was hard not to think that he wasn’t laughing so hard at me he might split a gut.

I will say that my dad, is one of my heroes and was always my number one hunting partner. Remember, we are always students when we step into the woods and trying to match wits with a wary buck. For us, we are there as a hobby, he is there everyday as a matter of life and death and he knows it! You can either learn the lessons as they present themselves or you will have an opportunity to learn them over and over!

In the end, pass it on and remember, we do it for the memories of being in the woods with our friends and family. Like this one.

"Mobility Got This Big Buck Down"

God Bless, Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

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Whitetail Hunting – Free Range vs. High Fence

I am getting tired of watch hunting shows where they talk about passing on a 180-190 class buck under the guidance that it is a 3 ½ year old, only to shoot a 140 inch buck because he is 4 ½ years old. Guess what, most of the locations get paid by the inch and the fact of the matter is they are culling their herd when they shoot the 140-inch buck. The 180-190 class buck is worth a lot more money to the outfitter and it is never a matter of the age of the animal when the deer get to the record book class. If Milo Hanson had been told that his buck was 3 ½ and he should pass what do you think he would have done? He would have shot the deer, as would have most hunters (most sane hunters anyway). So don’t be fooled by the rhetoric of aging the animal. Now before you get all high and mighty on me, I am a proponent of letting deer get of age. But I am more a believer letting the hunter determine the trophy, not the guide that is paid by the inch. There are many deer I have watched on the outdoor channel being passed upon, that I would be tickled to have on my wall, and folks I have several deer over 150 inches and have been hunting for 45+ years. Let’s put the fun back in deer hunting people.  If someone wants to hunt a high fence operation that’s fine, but let not equate it to free range hunting because the fact of the matter is, it is not! If it were then Boone and Crockett would recognize it as such. Come on folks, if your shooting a deer where it has an ear tag or you know the name of the daddy of your deer, you are essentially shooting cows. So why not shoot a cow and have the steaks!

God Bless, Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

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Whitetail Hunting – A Lesson to Remember

I remember the first time I shot a buck and it didn’t go straight down and die right there on the spot, the emotions ran wild and self-doubt came pouring in.  I was 13 years old and hunting with my father and in 1973 hunters hunted the blinds they built and that was that. We were hunting the hill country and at this point anything with horns, that counted 8 or better, was considered a trophy. This buck by standards of the day was a pig, he was a 9 point and would have scored about 130 inches plus he was still in velvet which was due to his age and a mineral abnormality (or so I was told). The big buck came down off of a ridge with 2 does and stopped with nothing but shoulder showing between 2 oak trees. It was my dads turn to shoot so I didn’t think too much about it until he did the unthinkable, he handed me the 270 and told me to take the shot. In a split second the whole event was over and the deer ran off seemingly unscathed. So here we go, lesson 1 – marking the spot. Because all my deer had fallen in their tracks I had never had to mark the spot, I simply walked over to a dead deer. I didn’t pay close enough attention and without a good mark it was impossible to establish a blood trail, which meant we were basically just walking wildly in the woods (another bad idea that I will talk about later in a future blog). After a good hour my dad concluded that I had missed the buck and we went back to the blind. After about an hour of hunting 2 nice bucks came out and dad told me I could take either one, I guess thinking it would make me feel better after the miss. I squared off on one of the bucks and then put the gun down announcing to my pop I didn’t miss the first buck. Well he blew a gasket and with what proved to be a lot of slamming and grumbling under his breath he announced we would look one more time. This time I tried to mark where to start, we then went in the direction he had ran until we got to a place that split, I went one way and dad the other. After about 2 minutes I heard him holler at me that he had found my buck. So lesson two is persistence, if we had given up we would have lost a great buck and a good story. Dad was proud and I was stoked. This particular buck bled very little from a very well placed shot. But to a novice tracker at the time like myself it was a lesson of a lifetime. I will throw out here lesson 3, in addition to marking the spot of the shot mark the last place you saw your animal go into the brush. Those 2 marks will be critical in finding your animal.

I will say that my dad, even though he has since passed away, is one of my heroes and was always my number one hunting partner. It took me a few lessons like this one to realize he might not know everything about whitetail hunting. I soon learned the most important lesson of all and that is we are always students when we step into the woods and trying to match wits with a wary buck. Remember most of us are there as a hobby, he is there as a matter of life and death and he knows it! You can either learn the lessons as they present themselves or you will have an opportunity to learn them over and over!

God Bless, Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

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Why 2011 will be a banner year for Whitetail Hunting!

First of all, as Whitetail (WT) hunters we are if nothing else – optimistic. Face it; if we weren’t we wouldn’t brave freezing cold temperatures or rainy days that turn into sleet for the chance of putting a big buck down (BBD) on the ground. So I will concede with the starting fact that maybe I am overly optimistic, but lets look at the hardcore facts. With a large portion of the country experiencing a drought you would think that I would have a lower than average expectation for the coming year. Here’s where that frame of reference is wrong. With drought conditions the acorn crop will be down, again a bonus for the WT hunter. This means that deer will have to forage harder to find their daily allowance of calories. This gives us an advantage if we put out feeders or plots that we can control and water. In my 45 years of deer hunting I have always seen more deer in dry stricken years than in years that have had more than enough rainfall.

This means that most hunters will see more deer when afield this year, however this doesn’t mean more big bucks will be shot. In fact often times this means more deer taken, but the big ones are big for a reason. When more deer are presented to the average hunter they can often talk themselves into taking a buck they are happy with, but if pressed may wish they would have held off.  If we can all learn to let them walk and be happy with taking the does out of a deer population we will reap a reward that is beyond words as far as satisfaction. If you doubt this just watch “The Crush” and see how Lee Lacowski has improved his deer herd over the course of 3-5 years. If we can learn to practice self-restraint we are essentially doing what managers are doing on high fence properties, that is controlling our deer herd population. But that is another topic for which I can rant forever.

As for now, I will stick to my prediction of a great year for us whitetail hunters in 2011. Remember, hunt safely, hunt hard and if you get the chance take a kid along and introduce them to hunting and the wonder of the outdoo0rs.

God bless and happy hunting!!!

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Whitetail Hunting – The Basics – Part 2, Location, Location, Location

The first thing I try to do is to get a topical map of the land where I will be hunting. You can do this with Google Earth and the latitude and longitude coordinates plugged in, then you can get a birds eye view on the land. Look for trails, dried up waterways such as creek beds and draws that lead to tanks. Then you can plan your scouting expedition. Go in and look for signs of deer movement along these corridors, when you locate them back off in a favorable wind direction at a distance you are comfortable shooting and plan for a blind location. I always prefer hunting from elevated blinds but sometimes there isn’t a possibility. If given the choice between elevation and mobility I choose mobility. I would rather be able to move if the situation calls than be stuck hunting a 25’ permanent or semi-permanent structure (but that’s me). Sitting still is paramount but I must admit it isn’t always my nature.

If the property has food plots such as an oat patch or a winter wheat field, look for game trails that lead to and from these locations. On the map you can identify likely bedding areas and then lay out a strategy for where to place tree stands or ground blinds. I like to find pinch points and then prep at least two locations along that path if it is possible, I will prep one for the predominant wind and another for a second wind direction. That way, I can have a location covered and hunt regardless of the wind.

Once I have picked a couple of potential locations I will put out trail cams to ensure I have chose wisely. I may also enhance my chances with a mineral block. The type of blind I hunt with is highly mobile so I can literally setup as many locations as I think I need and simply chose which one I want based upon what presents itself on a particular day. The key to success I believe is flexibility and knowing where to go based upon the conditions given. This can only be done if you have scouted well and put your time in before the season.

Also remember getting in and out of your hunting area is key. If you come roaring into camp in a big geared over the top 4-wheel drive monster truck, don’t be surprised if you don’t see too many deer. Stealth in and out is obviously better. Bottom line is try to not have the big buck think that anything is different. So a parked truck can be a bad thing too. Years ago I hunted with a guy who camped a few hundred yards from his blind, he would comment how he say deer there the first night but not too much after that, one day I asked him if he didn’t think it was the smell of bacon wafting through the trees that gave him away or maybe the countless thermos bottles he had broken over the years at the base of his ladder on his permanent blind. He argued with me a bit but then changed his habits and started seeing and shooting bigger and better deer.

Remember most hunters can shoot a deer, but the big deer don’t get big by being dumb, they get that way by being wary. Many of the big ones are never seen during daylight hours unless you catch them on a rare screw up slinking back to a bedding area or through a creek bottom. So patience my friends, patience – it is the critical ingredient to finding a trophy for your wall.

God Bless, Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

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