As an avid hunter, it’s incredibly important to have confidence in my gear, especially when it comes to ammunition. For decades, Winchester has gone above and beyond, introducing ammunition products that deliver consistent results on the range and in the field. No better example comes to mind than Power-Point centerfire rifle ammo. This legacy round remains one of the most popular among big-game hunters still today … and I know firsthand why.
South Dakota is best known for some exceptional things; Mount Rushmore, my mother’s incredible cooking and pheasant hunting. And when it comes to hunting pheasants, we can coin South Dakota as the pheasant hunting capital of the world, given its rich pheasant resources.
The conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage. It is the mission of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), a modern day, model organization that has demonstrated a commitment to conservation at the highest level for 50 years. It’s an achievement to celebrate. It’s a half century of leadership, headquarters staff, regional directors and dedicated volunteers all working for the wild turkey, habitat improvement and positive promotion of hunting and the shooting sports.
WHOP! The report of a well-placed shot is a beautiful sound. Music to my ears on Kodiak Island, Land of the Giants.
The Emerald Island has an abundant population of brown bears, mountain goats, blacktail deer, and fox. The hunting history of “The Rock” is rich, filled with big tales from big adventures. When gearing up for this journey, many thoughts run through my mind regarding safety and performance. I don’t want to be under-gunned (or should not be!) when coming face to face with a 10-foot tall hungry brown bear. A near perfect medium with calibers such as 338 Win Mag, 300 Win Mag, and 300 WSM are all great choices to consider for such an outing. The real key is finding the ammunition combo which will perform as intended.
Moose Season is what I look forward to every year. For our family, a full freezer of red meat is depended upon. During the September season, hunters in Alaska who are on a 10-day hunt will get one great opportunity at a legal bull. Sometimes, however, not at all.
So far, this season has been a tough one for me. I had my target buck come in after dark during bow season. The last time I saw him was a month ago… that is until the other night when he showed up on someone else trail camera six miles away!
Although no one can control what animals do, we can control how we prepare and how we react in the moment. If you can avoid making these three common hunting mistakes you will be well on your way to enjoying a successful hunting season.
Don’t get me wrong, I eat what I harvest and I love getting more meat for the freezer. But I believe that hunting is not just “getting meat for the freezer”, it is about so much more than that - so why do I hunt?
From brown bears to blacktail deer and everything in between, Alaska puts the “Big Game” in the Winchester Expedition Big Game Long Range lineup.
What goes up, must come down. It’s the main mission when you’re a waterfowl hunter. As ducks and geese soar overhead, perfect aim isn’t the only priority for a hunter…it’s just the start. The finish is all about having the perfect ammunition, designed to penetrate the birds with precision and power.
Hunters often flock to the Lone Star state to dial in on whitetail deer and mule deer. When the Winchester crew visited Texas in January, they had their sights set on antlers. But the hunters got a firsthand look at the wild pig problem in Texas…and got the chance to take a shot at swine.
If you’re like me and always struggle with gift ideas, I put together some of my FAVORITE items that have changed hunting for me…and they may do the same for you.
Many lessons are learned from our own mistakes, but you don’t always have to make a mistake to learn. For example, so many issues can be avoided by simply being prepared. This means putting in the time before the season to ensure you have given yourself the best possible chance at success.
It’s heartbreaking for a hunter to land the shot, but not locate the buck. We know the scene: The blood trail stops. The search slows. You finally have to admit to yourself that maybe that bruiser is gone……and steals some of your pride and ego right along with it. The trek back to the truck empty-handed can feel like a walk of shame. But there’s no real shame in it, because it happens to the best of us.
The time has come.
When the rut is on, it’s on. A flip is switched. The big bucks move, while you stay still in the stand…hoping all of your hard work will pay off. If you’re shooting Winchester, reliability and power will be delivered every single time. But you need to make sure you’re in the stand when those bucks are on the move.
Paul Sawyer snagged a 2-for-1 deal when he hit a duo of gobblers across Kansas state lines. He fed the long beards’ a dose of Long Beard XR. The takedown was one for Paul’s history books.
When it comes to turkey hunting, every step counts. One forgotten move could be the difference between bringing home a fan of feathers or letting that gobbler live to see another day.
The Keefers use the innovative Winchester Pattern Board App to get a clear picture of their shot pattern.
If you haven’t hunted for turkeys yet or are a beginner, you have come to the right place. However, I must warn you…once you hunt for turkeys you will be hooked! Hunting wild turkey may look easy on TV shows but it is no easy feat to get an gobbler to follow your plan. From gobblers running to your setup right off the roost, or struggling to get that big gobbler to commit to coming into gun range…each hunt is different and comes with its own set of excitement and challenges.
One of the reasons I love hunting new places and with new people is because it allows me to experience different styles of hunting and learn new tactics. Being able to connect with people and approach conversations not only with an open mind and a willingness to learn, but also an eagerness to learn is what makes my hunting experiences fun!
…drinking behavior until Memorial Day weekend. I don’t think that the majority of us really know what is involved with “corning” a hunk of meat.
You may not know that “corning”, or more accurately called “pickling” can be done with any antlered game meat or waterfowl. Actual corn plays no part in the process.
Every single mount has a backstory, an adventure, a memory that I will cherish forever. But when space becomes limited, I decided to start looking for alternative methods to hang mounts. Lowering the number of animals I mount would be one option, but I was still hoping for an alternative- and I found it.
I serve people snow geese often, but I don’t tell them it’s snow goose until after they’re just about done eating it. I did have one guy tell me that snow goose was, by far, the best tasting goose out there. He told me about how he cut the breast fillets into little strips and then marinated them in teriyaki sauce for 2 days. After that he wrapped the marinated goose in jalapeno, cream cheese and bacon. I’m fairly certain that you could do the same thing with a piece of your shoe and it would taste about the same.
He and his friends would harvest tons of coyotes each season with my brother and I being pulled through fields in a sled with dad on snowshoe. This was what we loved and this is what I still love it to this day. Even though the tradition of coyote hunting in our family hasn’t changed, the ammunition and technology sure has.
What’s a sounder? It’s a large group of hogs. I was going to go with a “pack,” but I knew that wasn’t correct. They are sexually mature at 6 months of age and they have between 1 and 2 litters of 5 to 6 little piggies each year. They have no real natural predators and they reproduce faster than we can kill them. They also cause billions of damage every year in the United States. So, what’s the solution to the wild hog population explosion? I think the answer is obvious.
Winchester has employed their shot-lok technology enabling you to get the most out of your ammunition. I was lucky enough to test it out at this year’s SHOT Show Media Day in Las Vegas. Needless to say, I was very impressed. What is your favorite gun/ammo combination for tom turkey? Want to see how it works…click on the video!
It’s just not my thing. Go there the day before or after and choose from their normal menu and there’s probably no waiting. A few years ago, we started our own holiday tradition of inviting another couple or two to our house for Valentine’s Day. The steak and lobster is at least as good as any restaurant and the wine is considerably better.
Two questions I often get asked are why do some people seem to find all the sheds and how can one be more effective? This comes down to a few important aspects in my book.
First, shed hunt where the animals are.
Fortunately, the darker-fleshed ducks can still make great table fare with just a few extra steps and some additional time to tame the more “pronounced” flavored game meat.
Lean, dark-fleshed ducks and geese have a deeper, earthier flavor as compared to an otherwise fat and lighter-fleshed mallard or pintail. It should come as no surprise that ducks and geese are what they eat.
This time, I won’t be the one hunting however. Two young South Dakota boys will be taking part in the late-season youth-hunt for does. Quite frankly, I can’t wait! South Dakota participates in the Youth Deer Mentored Big Game hunt. I’m a huge proponent of programs such as this.
…some animal parts manage to last a year or two longer than they probably should. Of course, the purpose of putting a label and a date on everything that goes into the freezer is so you know what the heck it is after it has been packed along with 100 other packages.
Not that you have to be a hunter to know how to prepare wild game. I’ve never killed a cow, but I can cook one, although preferably not the whole animal at once. If the recipe author mentions “catching” wild game, he or she doesn’t hunt. OK, maybe they’re trappers, but I don’t think that’s the case.
Figure out how to beat the weather, and the non-stop action of coyote hunting will truly amaze you.
Having the right gear is always helpful, but sometimes it takes a little hard work and suffering before knowing what gear is truly helpful. I’ve put in a lot of time and learned the hard way on things that make a difference in the field. So, skip a little of the heartache and add some of these items to your gear bag to make your season more comfortable and successful:
I just finished packing my gear to head south for my last hunt of the season in the Texas panhandle. I checked in my bags at the airport counter and made my way through security. As I boarded the plane and the wheels lifted off the runway I happily waved goodbye to frigid below zero temperatures and looked forward to landing in warm Texas.
It adds moisture and flavor and mellows out — not disguises — the natural flavor of waterfowl. I do not cook a duck or goose without first soaking it overnight in brine.
Those of us who have discovered how much better the Thanksgiving turkey tastes after a brine bath for 24 hours know that the bird will not only cook a little faster but it will also be more moist and flavorful than an unbrined bird.
The last thing you want to do when the temps drop and the hunting heats up is stay at home because you aren’t prepared for the chilly temps. I’m not saying everyone has to go out and buy all new arctic gear and apparel, but there are a few easy tips you can do to stay warm and make your hunts more enjoyable.
Try some of these tips to end your season with a strong finish and make the most of those days in the blind.
Hunt Big Water—Smaller bodies of water are freezing up so ducks will head for larger rivers and lakes where water is still liquid. Hunt from a boat blind, set a layout blind on a sandbar or set up on a finger of land jutting into the body of water and set your decoys close.
Hunting has become less and less about the animal, the hunt, or even the location. Now I reminisce about the people I was with more than anything. This is what I now look forward to the most.
Last year I was super fortunate to take several friends and family in the field with me, but one hunt stands out in particular. I got the privilege to take Grandma Rose on a mule deer hunt in Southern Colorado.
For me, most of those memories were formed in my home town in Western New York; and more importantly with my dad.
Every year, my dad and I put out trail cameras in hopes of getting pictures of good bucks. This year was no different. After pulling the cards and scrolling through hundreds of pictures, I came across a tall 8 with good mass. At that moment I knew which buck I had my sights set on for the season.
Perhaps you may have learned that the legs and thighs from pheasants and turkeys are tough, sinewy and unfit for table fare. In some respect, you’re right, but it is probably because you cooked whole birds and discovered that, if the breasts are just cooked and not overcooked, the other parts aren’t fit to eat.
And why not? Not only does the hunter see these creatures as competitors for the game animals they wish to keep in abundance, but the varmints also present an opportunity for additional time in the woods by hunting them year-round in most places, night in most places and can sometimes even get them access to lands that would otherwise be closed to them for other types of hunting.
Those, in turn, gave me days of hunting adventure you can’t tie a bow around or put under a tree. Cottontails in the woods. Fox squirrels raiding the corn bins. And — best of all — big, white-tailed jackrabbits racing over the pastures and cornfields. South Dakota’s winter landscape was the ultimate rifleman’s training ground, and those 22 Long Rifles made it all possible.
Winchester has devoted an incredible amount of time and energy to help hunters and shooter be the most effective they can possibly be. One of the most noticeable changes is the extensive range that’s been proven to be effective for turkey hunting with LongBeard XR. This also goes for waterfowl hunting with Blind Side and continues on through with DeerSeason XP, Varmint X, AA TrAAcker, and the list goes on.
Getting feathers to fall can be a hard-core task when it comes to waterfowl hunting. As the weather shifts from bad to worse, waterfowl warriors know it's time to scan the skies. Sleet, snow, rain, hail, and cold push the birds to use their wings, and hunters head out to bring them down.
And many times, the hubs or bars are also damaged. Usually I don’t like to take blinds out of the field until the season is completely wrapped up. That can be late Dec or even mid-January depending on the state I’m hunting. Once a blind is up, deer get used to them so the last thing I want to do is take them down to avoid snow damage.
Add some onions, celery, carrots and any other vegetables that make you happy. Top the whole mess with a pile of whipped potatoes and pop it in the oven. In about thirty minutes, it’s dinner. Mom used to make something she called “Hamburger Pie.” It was a big hit with dad and the three boys.
Ever since the advent of the first metallic cartridge (the 22 BB Cap in 1845,) hunters have demanded rifles, cartridges and bullets capable of terminating everything from ground squirrels to elephants. This is why the world has seen the creation of — literally — hundreds of rifle cartridges.
This is a list that I used to purchase gifts for my own family and friends and hope there may be something that could spark some interest for that hard to buy for person in your family.
S4 Gear Bino Harness– This is a binocular harness that keeps optics dry, clean and at the ready. It fits most styles of binoculars and not only makes it much more convenient, but also keeps binos snow and water-free so you can see regardless of weather conditions.
When it comes to sealing the deal, there are a few tricks I keep up my sleeve to utilize when the time is right.
Never let deer know they are being hunted
It may sound like a no-brainer and pretty simple, but it takes discipline. After gun opener, deer seem to be on edge. So, I keep the location I hunt low pressure and take every precaution to be stealthy in hopes that deer use my section of property as a safe haven.
If you’ve ever taken a bite into a fresh, unsweetened cranberry, you know that the taste is nothing like what you get from something that’s been made with cranberries. Cranberry sauce, chutney, relish and, of course, the cranberry juice that occasionally floats on top of a vodka drink have all been sweetened or they would taste sour.
But not the 308 Winchester and 300 Winchester Magnum. Here there is such a performance differential that one must seriously consider what each does and which hunting applications each handles best. So let’s dig in. Both these popular and vastly different cartridges throw .308-inch diameter (30-caliber) bullets. The big difference is their powder capacity.
I put in so much time during the off-season training and throughout the season scouting and hunting that when the moment of truth comes…I want no excuses. Winchester introduced Deer Season XP because they wanted to ensure deer hunters had something specific to their needs. This round was designed with only one thing in mind: dropping big deer in their tracks.
With so much to do and so little time, I like to have recipes on the back burner (pun intended) that I can turn to when I am in a time crunch. Here are a few quick snacks that the entire family will enjoy. The best part is both recipes share the same 3 core ingredients!
Let’s face it, we’ve all had some pretty funky venison. Hopefully, any unpalatable dishes you prepared in the past resulted in a learning experience. Sometimes we gain as much knowledge by making mistakes as we do by our successes, a concept I’ve reminded my 20-year old son about for years. In my formative years as a wild game cooker, I had some remarkable culinary failures.
Big on Optics: Quality optics, both in the form of binoculars and a scope, are your best friends in low light scenarios. A good pair of binos in the 8x to 10x range, but with a larger objective, can help gather more light and make creatures almost invisible to the naked eye easily identifiable in low light.
The result is you can hold the crosshair in the right spot, but it could really be pointing an inch or more off that spot at 100 yards. This isn’t a big deal, but as distance increases, that one-inch difference expands to 2 inches at 200 yards, 3 inches at 300 yards, etc. For precision, long range shooting, a tiny big of parallax in a scope can result in significant misses.
I’ve been in camps where everyone is so exhausted by the time dark comes that food preparation is the last thing anyone cares about. When this is the case, I’ve found a great solution: freeze dried meals. Most people think that freeze dried food would be a last resort or something that is less than desirable to eat. This may have been the case years ago, but this is an area that has really come a long way!
For me, determining a buck’s age beyond 4.5 years old becomes more difficult due to variations in genetics. Therefore, I am going to break down bucks into a couple different age groups: fawns, yearlings, 2.5 year olds,3.5 year olds, and 4.5 or older. Whether you are new to aging bucks or just want to brush up on your skills before heading to the tree stand, here are a few tips and body characteristics that you should pay close attention to.
It’s true comfort food that greets you with an inviting aroma as you open the door. No waiting for dinner. Let’s eat! The bigger challenge is to roast a venison hindquarter and have it come out medium-rare like sliced roast beef that you might put into a sandwich. Cooking lean venison isn’t nearly as forgiving as fatty beef. It requires more time and attention, but the end result can be just as delicious as any thin-sliced beef you may have had in a French dip.
Whitetails, mule deer, elk and even small game such as squirrels and rabbits are crepuscular, meaning they feed primarily at dawn or dusk (twilight hours) when night is transitioning to day and vice versa. For this reason, much of a hunter’s time—for sake of this blog, a deer hunter’s time—is going to be spent in the woods, most likely on a stand during…
In this era of laser-measured ranges, turret dialing scopes and multiple-stadia-line reticles, wind remains the biggest roadblock to precise targeting. That’s because wind, unlike gravity, isn’t constant. You can’t depend on its velocity or direction. Inside of 200 yards or so, this isn’t generally a big problem, but as distance increases and/or wind speed increases, so do your chances for missing.
Another important aspect is keeping yourself warm and comfortable and using the best gear possible. The more prepared you are for the weather conditions, the more you’ll enjoy the hunt. First, when calling or setting decoys remember you’re probably hunting pressured birds. With this, the adage “less is more” holds its own weight. I try to setup in locations where the birds naturally want to be or will be going through. As far as calling, this is absolutely true.
November is finally here! We have waited in anticipation all year for these next few weeks. The rut is heating up in many parts of the country and bucks are beginning to build aggression – this means it is time to break out those rattling antlers!
As for the millions of deer hunters across North America who dropped a deer using it in the field, they were convinced. Now it’s been confirmed by one of the most prestigious magazine titles in the hunting and shooting world; Guns & Ammo has named Winchester Deer Season XP as its 2017 Ammo of the Year.
One of my most frequently reoccurring rants concerns the amount of whole muscle game meat that gets ground into burger. I think it’s because ground meat is easier to prepare, it’s more forgiving than steaks and roasts, especially when it’s a bit overcooked. Ground game usually ends up in tacos, meatloaf and, most often, chili.
BC might sound like a bunch of hooey, but it’s really at the heart of bullet performance. With the right BC you can make a light bullet hit with twice the kinetic energy of a bullet twice its weight because doubling a projectile’s velocity quadruples its energy. Doubling its weight only doubles its energy.
Across America, hunters have pursued wild game for decades with Winchester. They have made choices on the perfect caliber, bullet type, bullet weight … choices that have then been proven in the field, when the moment of truth presented itself. They have stepped out beyond their own backyards to find diverse backdrops and hunt thick-skinned, powerful, and challenging opponents.
Time of Year – Over the years, I’ve had the most success with rattling during the peak of the rut. However, that’s not the only time it works. Pay attention to what is happening, and take of your surroundings. Study the behavior of the deer you’re hunting while on stand. See how they interact with each other and take note.
The stuffing allegedly draws out the evil spirits and adds a fruity and, um…vegetably flavor to the cooked bird. I’m not buying it. Oh, I’ve tried stuffing my turkey and ducks a number of times. It just didn’t seem to make a difference. I know some of you are going to keep doing it the way you’ve always done it. For the rest of you, I’ll continue.
Come along on this video blog by Winchester Deadly Passion’s Melissa Bachman to learn how to do it. It’ll take a little sweat-equity, but will surely pay off in spades down the line. We will give you a few hints: cover, food and water. Check out his video to learn more.
Have you ever been so close to a deer or turkey that you could reach out and touch them while out hunting? I have had serval of these experiences when hunting from blinds, there is nothing quite like being “one with nature” and seeing animals up close and personal in their natural habitat! First we must first consider where and what type of game we are hunting. This is key when deciding on the type of blind and camouflage pattern that would be most effective.
The whitetail rut one of the most anticipated times of the year. Don’t miss out on this golden opportunity, and don’t flub your chance at a monster when the moment of truth arrives. But to make that moment arrive, try these tips this fall.
Take Winchester Blind Side for example. The amount of time, energy and innovation that has been put behind ways to make a waterfowl load better is truly mind boggling. Winchester took something that most people thought was just fine and made it more effective than most people could ever imagine.
Being new to waterfowl hunting and not having a dog of my own, I decided to turn to gun dog trainer, hunting enthusiast and president of Lone Duck Outfitters, Bob Owens, for some knowledgeable insight on what it takes to get a dog ready for the season. We touched on everything from strategies for good conditioning, proper nutrition, and “must have” products to help keep a dog safe and performing at their best while out in the field this fall.
How you slice any hunk of meat can make a big difference at the dinner table. You’ve heard about slicing meat “across the grain.” If you haven’t heard, then you’re probably just not paying attention. Take a close look at a piece of meat, the bigger the better. Notice that the muscle fibers run parallel to each other in long bundles or strands.
That is a byproduct of correctly adjusted parallax, but it does not explain the phenomenon nor will merely turning the ocular to bring the reticle into focus correct it. Parallax occurs when the target and reticle are on different planes within the scope.
This list is something I’ve come up with over the years that I personally use before the season starts to ensure I’m prepared for as many obstacles that may be thrown my way. I can’t count the number of times I’ve run to my truck and grabbed one of these items which allowed me to repair or get out of a sticky situation. All because I have had the necessary tools.
Nothing is worse than missing birds and then deciding to pattern the gun just to find out that the shot pattern is not hitting what you expected. Finding the right ammunition and choke for the gun you intend to shoot is critical to success in the field. When I am unable to get to the woods one of my favorite things to do is to hit the range, or in my case a nice hilly farm field to sight or pattern guns for the upcoming season.
Barley’s full of fiber and it’s supposed to boost your immune system. It’s also a complete protein that also regulates blood sugar. Why someone hasn’t come up with an infomercial selling barley capsules as a miracle cure for anything that ails you is a mystery to me.
So forget the perfect, all-round bear cartridge. Instead, let’s concentrate on a good black bear round. This is assignment enough because black bears can grow to weigh more than 700 pounds! Most, however, are going to fit into the 150 to 400-pound range, and that’s doable for a great number of cartridges. Before we dive into those, however, let’s pay homage to something even more important — the bullet.
- Quality decoys- Just like turkey or deer decoys, waterfowl decoys can make a huge difference on the overall success of a setup. Quality decoys may take time to purchase but you’ll be very happy in the end. Once you have everything you need, keep them in good shape by cleaning them each year and taking care of them both in and out of the field.
Yes, if you show me a picture of a duck I can identify it immediately. However as with most things in life, learning about it through books and actually testing knowledge in the field when birds are flying at various distances and lighting conditions, it is a whole different ball game! My first couple of trips to the blind resulted in me being more of an observer; watching and learning how to identify each duck as they flew past our setup.
Some of us tend to grind up way too much of our good game. There are other options. Before you go grinding up both hindquarters, consider turning the better muscles – sirloin, top round, bottom round – into steaks or roasts. Take a sharp, thin-bladed knife and separate each muscle from the hindquarter. Trim away anything that is not muscle. Give one of the cuts a good soak in olive oil, red wine, garlic and herbs.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use enough gun. The confusing thing about elk is that one bull collapses after a single lung shot from a 243 Win. 95-grain Ballistic Silvertip at 100 yards while the next one takes three 180-grain AccuBond CT slugs through the shoulders inside 50 yards — and keeps walking. Yes, elk are big and notoriously durable, but they’re also known to give up the ghost with what most shooters would deem “minimal persuasion.” Does this mean you should load up your 243 Model 70 or 30-30 M94 for your big bull hunt-of-a-lifetime?
Not only are distances away from the shooter and speed of the targets factors a hunter must consider, but having the right shot size for the size of the ducks or geese likely to be encountered is a critical consideration. Common shot sizes used for waterfowl (from smallest to largest) are No. 4, 3, 2, 1, BB, BBB and T shot. Naturally, smaller shot sizes are best suited for ducks, while the larger shot is better for geese and swans.
Ah, but whack that golf ball with a 100-miles-per-hour club swing and you might change your mind. A basic rule of physics is that double weight doubles energy, but doubling velocity quadruples energy. This is what enables us to terminate 1,000-pound moose with bullets weighing less than a half-ounce! Knowing this does little, however, to clear up the confusion over various bullet weights offered in most cartridges.
Although I don’t get much time to hunt with my family anymore, this season I’m getting the best of both words. I’m heading to Saskatchewan at Buck Paradise Outfitters with my dad for an early goose hunt. So what makes these early hunts so great? In my opinion it’s tough to beat hunting with family and hunting birds that have had little to no pressure is a blast.
If mean, if I can’t keep calm when people are watching, what I am I going to do when buck fever kicks in? Luckily for me, I was in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia so a sense of peace filled my veins. As I wrote last week, I was taking a long range shooting course taught by Phil Conklin. Phil is an accomplished instructor who had me hitting long range targets, calculating wind compensation and elevation changes in just a few hours. Most certainly a testament to his teaching ability all on its own.
Most hunters understand that steep shooting angles alter where bullets strike. If your rig is zeroed at 200 yards on the level and your target stands 200 yards up a steep mountain slope, your bullet will strike lower than usual, right? And if its below you, you’ll shoot high? No? Well, at least half no.
I like to do this at 30-yards as it’s a great way to test out the gun, choke, and ammo combination to ensure perfect patterns when it’s time to hit the field. I always recommend shooting from a lead sled on the bench because it really helps reduce recoil and ensure that shots are consistent, and human error has been taken out.
From the hides to the nether regions, nothing was wasted. By comparison, think about how much of your wild game gets thrown in the trash. Based on a lifetime of talking to others about how they prepare their harvested game, I’d guess that only a very small percentage of them make the most of their critters. I’m not talking about making coin purses out of venison scrotums, but the tasty shanks and flanks are often discarded.
Veterans of the syndrome recommend all hunters begin their anti-buck fever training as soon as possible. A great way to begin is by working with your rifle until you can operate it with complete function and confidence in the dark. Figure out how you’re going to carry it, get it off your shoulder and into shooting position.
But where the country opens up and mountains rule the terrain, most certainly out West, taking shots uphill or downhill, and sometimes at fairly long ranges, definitely comes into play. Compound that with the interest—and modern capabilities—of shooting longer ranges courtesy of technological advances in optics, firearms and ammunition (think Winchester Big Game Extended Range) and you have a world where considering angles when shooting becomes critical.
The blind keeps weather from becoming an issue if it’s raining or snowing allowing you to sit longer. Last but not least, it’s pretty tough to beat being eye-level with a big buck only steps away from the blind. With all these benefits, it does however take a little work to make them as effective as a treestand, but it can be done by utilizing a few simple tips.
Leaving a dead or mortally wounded animal on the ground in hot weather happens, but we’d all prefer a solid kill shot with an animal that drops dead immediately. Fortunately, we found this one before it got too hot. Since this was a “TV hunt”, part of what it is that I am supposed to do is to show viewers how to cook it, or at least part of it.
A thick slab of fatback bacon sizzles on a well-seasoned cast iron griddle. A trusty Model 94 30-30 waits for the sunrise at the front door, alongside a notched up .270 and a walnut-stocked 30-06. The woods are still quiet, but the camp is starting to wake to the sound of hot grease, and the sweet smell of early morning at deer camp. Behind the spatula is an artisan of sorts. A specialist in the nuances of rustic dining. A seasoned stove operator who wants nothing more than to follow up the bacon breakfast with a backstrap supper. It’s The Camp Cook, and every deer camp has one.
Despite all the hype in this day and age over larger game such as whitetail deer and wild turkeys, for many hunters who grew up prior to the Millennial generation, small game is what we first hunted—with much of that focus on squirrels and rabbits. Long a perennial favorite firearm choice for these smaller critters has been the .22 LR. The .22, with its low recoil, minimal cost per round and light weight of most rifles chambered in that caliber, makes it a favorite.
Most accidents happen going in and out of the stand before people are safely strapped in. The good news is this can be avoided simply by using a lifeline. The idea behind a lifeline is to keep you connected from the moment you leave the ground until the moment you return. This eliminates the chance of falling from the tree on the ascent or descent; plus it make things easier when you get into your stand because you’re already connected.
Tall grasses, cornstalks, pine, and cedar work great if they occur in the landscape you are hunting. When collecting materials you will need a folding saw for the larger branches, pruners, and some zip ties for holding everything in place. When covering the blind don’t worry if you cover the windows as you can use the pruners to cut any obstructions out of the way once you get into your blind.
Training with an empty rifle helps shooters forget about recoil and concentrate on proper form and trigger control. They can see where their sights were when the firing pin clicks. So load for the shooter behind his back. When she’s doing everything right, slip in a live round and score!
The Canada goose population in the East and across the rest of its migratory range has exploded. Not to the point of snow geese, but certainly, what they tend to call “resident birds,” those that have adapted to staying put in areas of warmer weather and abundant food and nesting conditions, are quite plentiful.
As a young girl growing up in Central Minnesota, teal hunting is something we always looked forward to. Sure they’re fast as can be, but what a great way to get back in the swing of things to kick of the season. A few tips to make your hunt more successful and enjoyable for early season teal usually involve bringing a couple key items to make your time in the field more comfortable.
With every bite it always takes me back to my grandma’s home cooking! Presume the same is true for you as well. I really love how that it only takes a few ingredients that I usually have on hand. I just mix it all together and throw it in a pan for a quick and easy healthy meal!
I’m all for rewarding my dogs, but they feel equally rewarded with a good scratching or maybe a rawhide chew. For me, one of the best rewards is a slow-cooked deer shank bathed in a tasty sauce. Discarding venison shanks is about the same as throwing away bones and carcasses that could be used to make a stock that is infinitely more flavorful that something out of a can or a bouillon cube.
However, beyond the opening day hubbub or the groups of hunters gathering on those first few warm (often still downright hot) Saturdays, some hunters like to sneak out after work or even before, once the season permits, and oftentimes, they find themselves without the benefit of the other hunters to keep birds moving around.
Heck, even veteran hunters are susceptible to buck fever. And sometimes doe fever. We overthink, worry, hyperventilate, get the shakes, rush our shots, panic and miss, miss, miss. But we don’t have to. It’s possible to train to keep cool, shoot straight and score. It isn’t necessarily easy, but it can be done. Here’s how:
There are several reasons for this. First, it’s usually beautiful weather and a great way to spend a morning or afternoon. Secondly, it’s a fun hunt that can be very social. Third, I believe it’s a great way to get in some much needed real life practice which will help you for the upcoming waterfowl season.
But then, so does setting up trail cameras and scouting for good animals, but both of those activities are more fun than thawing out your freezer and deciding what is worth saving. Look, I know that you’ve been planning on doing something with that trout you caught last year, or was it three years ago?
For close shots on birds such as released quail or other tight sitting upland game that present close shots, a more open choke such as skeet, cylinder bore or most likely, improved cylinder are best. For late in the season ducks and geese, where birds are reluctant to decoy and will likely flare at the edge of range, a much tighter full choke is better.
Some people keep things like this locked up or under glass, but in our family we like to take them afield. This keeps the stories going and adds to the history. In our family, a particular heirloom is a Winchester 30/30 that my grandfather had. He was a guy who loved Winchester, and was so proud of this particular gun. It was then passed on to my father, and now my brother and I both get to use it.
But, what happens if you find yourself in a survival situation while hunting in the backcountry? Do you carry the appropriate fire starting materials with you and would you know where to begin? The foundation of starting a fire is in proper planning. There is nothing more frustrating than getting a flame started just to have it go out due to a lack of preparation.
But Winchester Life isn’t centered on taking every shot when you see any opportunity walk your way. It’s knowing the difference between the right opportunity and the wrong timing. It’s effective discernment. Most of all, it’s patience.
We’ve all heard tales of lips, ears, glands and all things gristly that, once passed through a meat grinder, get crammed into a casing and loaded into boxes destined for your local market. And while there are plenty of sausage horror stories, most them are just that…stories. Make your own and you’ve got nothing to worry about. “Hey, has anyone seen my Band-Aid?
It’s near the end of firearm season, and Paul Sawyer heads to Oklahoma to dial in on a 9-point he has his heart set on. When The Big Nine makes an appearance in the field, the Model 70 is warm and the Deer Season XP is ready…and Paul learns that patience really does pay off.
But, I am not alone in realizing the many drawbacks to having seemingly endless technologies available at our fingertips 24/7, 365 days a year. These drawbacks become especially present in regards to our developing youth and a growing disconnect with nature and the environment around them!
Rarely does the most expensive wine get the most votes. It’s usually somewhere in the mid-price range. One time, a $7 bottle of Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon beat out the competition. Boy, were the wine aficionados all worked up about it. Fun to watch. I’m guessing that there are as many people reading this that are wine lovers as there are those who don’t really care for wine or would just rather drink something else.
Remember to get comfortable using your full-body safety harness with your treestand at ground level before climbing into the tree and never leave the ground without wearing your full body harness! Safety first, safety in the middle and safety at the end makes for a great and memorable outing.
The rest is divided into smaller batches, cooled and packed for the freezer. When I’m short on prep time, I can quick-thaw the basic red sauce and throw in a few fresh ingredients like mushrooms or diced tomatoes and dinner is served in less than an hour.
First on this list would be prairie dogging! In many areas prairie dogs have become a huge nuisance and can be difficult to get rid of. There towns cause big holes that cattle can step in, and they also carry tons of disease. On a recent trip to the Rosebud Reservation in SouthDakota with my good friend Ben Bearshield, we took an afternoon off to hunt prairie dogs with little Miss Pork Chop.
So, before heading out to hunt this fall, be sure to look at the contents of your pack to ensure that you have basic survival tools that would help you if you were unable to make it back home. My pack contents vary depending on factors such as: where,when and for how long I will be away. However, here are the staple items that I always keep in my pack.
It’s basically a cooking method that slowly and evenly cooks things like venison steaks and roasts and holds them at a precise temperature. You know how you like how your slow-cooker cooks your dinner while you’re away from the kitchen all day? It’s pretty much the same with sous vide, only different. A slow-cooker uses relatively low heat and moisture to transform lesser cuts into pot roast tender stews and more. If you have a tough hunk of meat, throwing it onto a hot grill won’t do anything to make it more tender.
After all, the bullet is the reason for the rifle, case, primer, powder and scope! The bullet gets the game, does all the work. All the rest is just the launch pad. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, ammo and bullet makers like Winchester have done the hard work for us. By testing and modifying and retesting bullet after bullet, they have freed us from even thinking about this critical ingredient.
In situations like these, it is important to be mindful of a few practices that will aid in navigating your way back to safety. One practice that we should always be aware of is being able to accurately keep a pace count. Keeping track of a pace count gives us the ability to estimate our distance traveled and hopefully provide us with the confidence to orient ourselves.
One man’s delicious burger just might be another man’s bland and dry one. And based on the huge quantity of deer meat that is ground into burger, it seems appropriate to add a twist or two to the grind without compromising the deliciousness of a properly cooked burger. If you’re not overjoyed with the way your venison burgers taste, here are a few tips to make them better next time.
Heck, there was no 270 Winchester either. No 270 WSM, no 7mm WSM or 243 Winchester or…Last time I looked, the Winchester ammo catalog offered ammunition for 66 different centerfire rifle cartridges. I didn’t even count the handgun options. Sixty-six is more than enough to choose from for this big gamehunter. Obviously, some rounds like the 17 Hornet and 458 Winchester Magnum are easy to brush from consideration. But that leaves plenty for a dilemma: which cartridge do you pick for your deer rifle?
This video will give you a visual of what the choke patterns look like and help you to decide what choke is best for the type of shooting or hunting you will be doing. I hope this video gives you a better understanding of what choke you should use before heading out on your next adventure!
The Keefer Brothers and longtime friend Jason Brown made cherished memories while hunting Merriam’s wild turkeys in South Dakota. Though they traded the Midwest timbers for the golden prairies of the west, the crew never leaves home without Winchester. For good reason.
In many ways, choosing a scope these days is harder than selecting a rifle. You have to decide among 1-inch, 30mm and 34mm main tubes. Will the objective be 36mm, 40mm, 44mm, 50mm, or 56mm? Parallax adjustment dial or not? BDC reticle, duplex, fine, post, heavy, illuminated? Dialing turrets?
VIDEO – Jan “Boland” Coetzee, owner of Vriesenhof Winery near Cape Town, South Africa. Jan is a legendary professional rugby player, food and wine lover and hunter. Jan demonstrates a typical marinade and style of cooking for kudu and oryx loins. Of course, if you’re out of kudu, you can always substitute whitetail.
Usually I have everything from fish, to pheasant to deer and elk with the assortment of other game along the way as well. Although I may have some specific go-to recipes, I’m always looking to try new things and prepare wild game different ways. I’m a firm believer in learning from the best so you’ll often catch me browsing through Scott Leysath’s website, the Sporting Chef, for new ideas and recipes to try.
Note: I used the Big Game Rub by Traeger and cooked them on the Traeger to add a smokey flavor! You can also use a marinade of your choice and cook them in the oven. If you are using a marinade, place the pheasant in a bowl and let it marinade overnight in the refrigerator for extra flavor!
Research from organizations like Southwick Associates repeatedly reveals that access is one of the biggest challenges facing sportsmen today. With that in mind, unless you own your own land, searching for a place to hunt really isn’t something you can afford to concern yourself with just now or when you need a new place to hunt, but rather should be an ongoing search every year, always working leads to improve your odds of finding decent spots to recreate.
Recently, I was able to grant Pork Chop a wish come true. Her very own hunt in South Dakota with my good friend Ben Bearshield on the Rosebud reservation. We went into this thinking the squirrel hunting would be a slam-dunk, but unfortunately things always come up along the way.
For many, booking a guided hunt for the chance to seek a trophy in one of our nation’s best game units, is often the culmination of years of planning and saving money. Even preparation for a self-guided hunt is not without planning time, expense and the need for physical conditioning. As part of preparation for the hunt, a sportsman often purchases or makes sure he has the best firearm he can afford along with a top optic.
All last fall I took little Miss Pork Chop on almost every single hunting adventure. She sits in the blind patiently with me from sun up until sun down. Of course I bring her treats, toys and keep her busy, but I’m assuming it’s not all fun for her. Well all that’s about to change on this next hunt!
By adding in an overhead element to this exercise, you will not only work the muscles in your lower body but also challenge the muscles in your shoulders, back and core.
Winchester Life co-host Nikki Boxler gives us 3 tips for setting up for trail cameras.
Luckily for hunters, there are plenty of opportunities for us to get outside and sharpen our shooting skills, doing some pest control, and have fun while doing so. Here are 4 reasons why you should hit the fields and woods this summer!
When the company’s second lever-action rifle, the iron-framed Model 1873, which would come to be known as the “Gun that Won the West,” was introduced in 1873, it was originally released in .44 Winchester Centerfire, a new cartridge that was the first to carry the Winchester name. It included a 200-grain bullet that left the muzzle at 1,250 fps powered by 40 grains of blackpowder.
The number of coyotes has increased all across the country, but as hunters we understand the need for a balance. To accomplish that balance it takes a hunter willing to go the extra mile to outsmart these predators. They use every advantage possible so we need to ensure we are doing the same! Here are few tips about how to become a more effective predator hunter this year in my latest video-blog…come along.
Many stores limited buyers to no more than two boxes of the rimfire ammunition at a time and even other stores were left to simply tell their customers to search elsewhere. As a result, prices also went up. The ammo was still relatively cheap when compared to larger caliber centerfire loads, but it was no longer the bank account afterthought that many outdoor writers had once waxed poetic about for its availability and low cost.
I knew most shots would be close as we were calling, so I decided to just bring my shotgun. Before heading out however, I wanted to do a little test at the range to see what changes needed to be done to get my SX3 ready for hunting all three. The first thing I did was get my turkey gun all setup with the LongBeard XR using 3 1/2 inch 5 shot. Once that was dialed in, I switched over to the Varmint X in BB, and swapped out my extra full choke for a full choke.
Sure, you can still enjoy all of those fun activities as well, but there is no need to leave your shotgun or rifle neglected in the gun safe, just waiting for the fall to return. There are still ample summer hunting opportunities out there as long as you don’t mind the heat and insects. Here are some of the top hunting opportunities you will find, many in a location near you.
If you’re looking to get someone new into hunting or just prefer to tone that recoil down a bit, a 20-gauge is a perfect solution. Earlier this spring Winchester announced the addition of LongBeard XR in 20-gauge so everybody can experience the Shot-Lok technology regardless if they’re shooting a 12 or 20 gauge.
Here is a great video blog from Winchester Life co-host Nikki Boxler who will explain and show just how to properly go about stretching and saving artifacts from your successful outing. Grab some salt (or borax), stick pins and a sheet of cardboard and come along. It’s not only fun to keep a journal of your hunts through the years, but to also save some of what tome once was.
One of the first tips I will try late season while hunting turkeys is to get out of the blind. The more mobile you are, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Also try to use any vantage points to your advantage so you can potentially see what’s going on. If the birds are talking use your eyes to find them and make a plan.
Here are a few basic (and simple – yes!) exercises I use and would recommend to you as a great pace to start. I’ll show more in this video blog, but here is a rundown on them. Come along on this video and learn more!
Most shotguns today utilize screw-in choke tubes to change the constriction at the muzzle end of the barrel. The purpose of the choke is to improve the pattern of shot delivered when fired from the shotgun—primarily through achieving better range and pattern density.
When it comes to bringing kids out hunting, going after turkeys is one of my favorite places to begin. Turkey hunting is an interactive experience and lends itself well to hunting with kids.
Tip 1: Start by hunting out of a blind. This helps with the early mornings and allows them to lay on the ground and take a nap until the action heats up. A few things to keep in mind is mornings can be pretty chilly. Make sure they’re bundled up enough with layers so they can be comfortable. Nobody likes to be cold and it’s all about making this a fun experience.
Give this recipe from Winchester Life co-host Nikki Boxler a go. It’s quick and delicious – turkey and stuffing casserole may just become a new favorite. To learn more and how easily you can make it, come along on this video blog from Winchester. Bon appetit – enjoy!
It is critical to get comfortable not only with your gun as the season approaches, but also determine the best load-choke combination. In this video blog Melissa shows just how great (and how lethal at long distances) LongBeard XR is and then stretches it out for some long-distance patterning.
Canada represents the most spring black bear hunting opportunities by far with British Columbia offering a two-bear limit to hunters and some of the best spot-and-stalk hunting anywhere. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba also rank high though the style of hunting is decidedly different. Because of the thick, evergreen forests of these western and central provinces, sitting over bait remains the primary method for hunting bears here.
Unfortunately many of the things I’ve learned have been by trial and error so I decided to put a video together highlighting some of the tactics I utilize to get that stunning video. Maybe you’re filming just to show family, for Youtube, or you’re looking to start a TV show.
Here’s why: the key feature behind Long Beard XR’s long-range capability is the shell’s Shot-Lok technology. Instead of traditional buffering materials, Shot-Lok is injected as a liquid resin into the hull among the lead shot during assembly. The resin hardens to keep pellets locked in place until the round is fired. When fired, Shot-Lok immediately fractures into a micro-buffer that protects the shot deformation caused by set-back forces.
To begin with: Make Sure Your Rifle Fits—Being able to control your rifle and maintain consistent attachment and form with every shot is key to repetitively making long, difficult shots. To do this, a shooter needs a rifle that fits them perfectly, with adjustable combs set so each time they place their face against the stock and line up to shoot, they are in the same position.
Sometimes this can be caused by weather, bad luck, or just simply running out of time in states where the season closes at 1pm – like Illinois. When that day comes and you have a turkey hang up, know that you now have options. In the past, long-range turkey shots were simply out of the question for most. Though, the development of Winchester’s Long Beard XR will enable you to make much longer shots with extreme downfield lethality.
But to make sure the optimism transfers into actual success, a hunter has to have his game plan down and make the most of the moment. Don’t leave opening day up to random chance. Here are five tips to help you punch that turkey tag on opening day.
One question I often get from people is what kind of call is best? I guess that really depends on the situation. I’m one of those people who prefer to just have a variety with me at all times so I have whatever I could need. Box calls are probably the easiest to use
in my mind. I have an incredible sounding box call that I absolutely love.
While I am constantly learning and often making mistakes, this experience makes me a more proficient turkey hunter. Here are some tips and tricks that have helped me to become a successful turkey hunter. I hope they may help you as well:
Sure, there are some off brands with off-sizes, such as No. 7s or duplex loads with a mix of 4s and 6s, but generally we are talking about one of those first three when it comes to buying turkey loads.
When standing at the ammo shelf at your local gun shop trying to decide which turkey load is the best size shot, many hunters simply hedge their bets with the obvious compromise and pick No. 5s. Not a bad choice, but let’s consider what’s good and maybe not quite as good between one shot size and the other.
Turkey hunting odds can be easily increased or decreased depending on the amount of work you put into your hunt both before and during. For those who want to increase their chances of success, here are a few simple tips to make you a more effective hunter.
First, do your best to get out to where you plan to hunt and do a little pre-scouting. If you can’t be there all the time, put out your Cuddeback cameras and let them do the work for you! I use cameras for turkeys just as I would for deer so I know what time the turkeys frequent what field.
While Winchester’s Longbeard is lethal at longer shots up to and beyond 60 yards, I like to shoot most of the turkey I have a whack at closer in – around 30 to 40 yards. It is super-important to choose a good combination of ammunition, gun and choke to ensure a clean kill shot. In this video I am shooting Longbeard in 12 at both 30 and 40 yards to test the pattern of the gun, load and choke. I am using a full choke and Longbeard 3” in #5 shot.
Get to know your best gun/load/choke combination before hitting the woods or prairies this spring. Too, another great idea is to check out Winchester’s Ballistics Calculator online at winchester.com. Come along on this video blog from Melissa Bachman to learn more.
I do not have a shed hunting dog, therefore I am covering a lot of ground on my own two legs and always have to be on top of my game if I want to find sheds. Below are the areas that I look at first and a few things to keep in mind that help me find sheds.
An incredible amount of research and development is put into creating products that put we hunters at the top of our game. This goes for everything from Deer Season XP to Longbeard XR to Varmint X, but it doesn’t stop there. Let’s take Varmint X for example.
With regards to our bodies, mobility is simply the ability of our body to move freely or be moved freely at all joints. Over time, activities occurring in our daily lives tend to result in a lack of mobility in our major joints which, over time, may lead to further health drawbacks down the road. For instance, my full-time job often times involves extended periods of sitting and being on a computer Perhaps much like yours.
Come along on this video blog with Winchester Life co-host Nikki Boxler to find to how easy this is to do. Plus, it’s collapsible so you can easily take it with you in the back of the truck on outing away from home.
I’ve put together a few tips that can be helpful when looking for a new place to hunt this fall so you can ease land owners’ minds so they let you on their property. Don’t wait until the season is ready to begin! Get out there now to make some new friends and start building relationships. A big part of someone letting you on their property comes down to trust, helpfulness, safety and respect. This is a HUGE first step with any land owner – they must see these sincere qualities in you.
We want to recognize Leo for his contributions to Winchester, to its historic NILO Farms hunting preserve, and to conservation and the shooting sports. Leo became manager of Winchester’s NILO Farms preserve in 1961 and carried that responsibility for the next 30 years. NILO Farms is a world-renowned hunting preserve located near Brighton, Illinois, where guests can enjoy hunting ringneck pheasants, chukar partridges, and mallard ducks, and also shoot trap, crazy quail, skeet, Riverside skeet, sporting clays, 5-stand, and the tower.
From there opening days proceed northward with Georgia, Alabama and others following just a couple of weeks later. Even if you’re in the wild turkey’s most northern United States (or Canadian) ranges, where seasons don’t open until May and run even into June, now is the time you need to turn your attention toward getting ready for your warmer weather pursuit of America’s favorite gamebird.
Rekindle your love for hunting for the mere sake of hunting and spending time outdoors—try a late-winter small game season. And while most small game hunting articles point sportsmen toward the merits of the 22 Long Rifle or other tack-driving, rimfire calibers, I’m still a fan of the all-purpose scattergun. But no need to go in over-gunned with the ubiquitous big-bore 12 gauge.
It was at my great grandfather’s house and they came into his yard. We thought they were the coolest thing ever, and were mesmerized while watching the birds. Now…fast-forward 20-years and we have an abundant supply of turkeys right in the backyard we grew up in. I’ve even had the privilege to hunt with my parents on our property for turkey and will never forget the memories made each spring.
In fact, every year at SHOT Show, the largest tradeshow in the shooting and hunting industry, there have been more companies introducing new suppressors. To meet the needs of today’s suppressed shooter, Winchester, always on the cutting edge of shooting developments, has introduced new ammunition designed for suppressed shooting enthusiasts looking for heavy-for-caliber projectiles to maximize performance from their firearms while minimizing sound.
As a hunter, we must make sure we know what we are shooting to help ensure proper harvest limits and avoid wantonly wasting any undesired birds. I’ve found that learning to identify different ducks adds to the enjoyment of waterfowling. Sometimes I find myself bird watching and observing nature rather than shooting…it must be the beginner in me! Here are some tips I’ve picked up so far:
From elk, moose and mule deer in North America to kudu, eland and Cape buffalo in Africa, the ammunition line is built for use on the toughest hunts around the world and was introduced in a range of popular big-game calibers. That range of calibers will expand in 2017 with the introduction of six new additions built specifically for long-range accuracy, trajectory and terminal performance.
The truth is, there are certain instances where each can be incredibly helpful depending on what is most important. I’ve created a list of benefits and attributes of each to help make the decision easy.
Shotgun- I’m a big fan of using a shotgun in areas where the coyotes have very little pressure. I recently completed one of the best coyote hunting trips I’ve ever been on in Mexico at El Chaparral Ranch.
Alberta, Canada is known as the Mecca for waterfowl hunting. Casey Keefer witnesses why this province holds its world class reputation. As the skies fill with feathers, Casey and his crew see success with his Winchester SX2 shotgun and Super X Xpert ammunition.
This means some of those bruisers you only had nocturnal pictures of during the fall, will finally show themselves during daylight hours. It’s not just for the love of the ladies like it was during the fall, it’s for survival.They need to put weight back on and it can’t be done just at night. With all these factors, the hunting can be great. However, aging the deer can be a little more difficult during this time of the year.
Although many people know and understand the best methods for taking care of big game in the field, waterfowl field-preparation is an incredibly important step to ensure a stunning mount. The skin and feathers of waterfowl are very thin and can be damaged easily unless proper care is taken. Here are a few steps that should be taken from the moment you have a bird down that you think could be one you want to mount.
I’ve seen all too often the harm over abundant coyote populations can cause on deer, and also the cruel way Mother Nature takes care of over population. Diseases like mange leave coyotes with little to no hair left as they freeze to death during the cold winters. As a hunter I’m a firm believer in helping control the predator population and have some fun while doing it too. However, just like with anything, there are a few things you can do to help increase your odds of success.
Straddling the Kansas and Oklahoma state lines, The Box Ranch is one of the oldest original ranches in the area. These sprawling acres were used exclusively for cattle ranching prior to owner Pete Alfano’s purchase of the property five years ago. Nowadays, The Ranch is prime whitetail hunting land during the fall and winter months. Equipped with Winchester firearms and ammunition, outdoorsmen are able to set their eyes on the prize. Trophy bucks.
Over the years I’ve had almost better luck taking big bucks late season. They finally become a little more predictable this time of year. They need to eat and they’re run down, so brave the cold temps and get out there before the season draws to an end. You never know, late season could become your favorite time to hunt big bucks!
America’s Heartland is full of history. Country miles square off massive sections, each with their own story to tell. The Box Ranch outside of Protection, Kansas, is no exception. As one of the oldest original ranches in the state, The Box Ranch has grown into a whitetail Mecca, where heavy tracks are made in the soft Kansas dirt…and dreams come true.
In many areas across the whitetail’s range, the winter is turning cold, maybe even some snow is on the ground, and that buck tag is still burning a hole in your wallet because it’s yet to be filled. Here are five tips to help you finish the season strong.
From the early days of capturing the latest innovations to make shells better (think smokeless powders and later plastic hulls) to the modern wonder, BlindSide, which utilizes stacked hexadhedron-shaped steel shot and Winchester’s patented Diamond Cut wad. But even with the best shells ever made loaded in your shotgun, it does you no good if you don’t follow proper shooting technique and fail to properly lead the fast flying target ducks and geese present.
Nilo Kennels was founded by John Olin in 1950, just two years prior to the establishment of Nilo Farms. Since the very beginning the world class retrievers of Nilo Kennels have played a vital role in the overall success of the facility. Every hunting adventure on site is enjoyed alongside a crew of canine conservationists and Winchester wielding sportsmen.
It should be no surprise that at this time, as there was increasing interest in meeting the ammunition needs of a growing legion of sportsmen, that Winchester shotshells first found their way into the duck boats of waterfowl hunters along the Mississippi River as well as along the Eastern Seaboard. Subsequent ammo introductions quickly followed, including Winchester’s Star line, which coincided with the appearance of the lever-action 1887 shotgun that same year.
The early morning autumn mist encroached from the plains into the bustling sidewalks of town, as the fine folks of Comanche County greeted the day. On the outskirts, a world of whitetails was also waking. It was clear that the Heartland had it all figured out. This quaint town is the poster place for The Winchester Life. The Way Life Should Be.
On Vancouver Island, the logging industry has carefully paved its way through old growth forests for decades, creating manageable routes for big game hunters like Casey Keefer. Canada’s wild rivers have carved a dangerous maze through the mountains, giving free roam to one of the highest concentrations of black bear on the continent. Both industries, logging and hunting, are better off because of one another, working in harmony, while each respecting the preservation of one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems.
Many times I feel like a little kid experiencing the same anticipation as I once did for Christmas morning. As deer season arrives, I am as excited as ever. One thing I’ve learned over the years, is deer season is far too short! There never seems to be enough time in the day to hunt, scout, and fit in work and family time during the fall months. Although I haven’t found a secret recipe to adding hours to the day,I have learned that being prepared can make fall much smoother, and alleviate some wasted time that could be better spent sitting on stand.
With resident elk expert and guide Ramone leading the way, Nikki quietly begins her trek through the rocky terrain at daybreak. The morning hike was encouraging as the team spots elk and other game far off in the meadows below. As elk do not typically graze in the open during hot daylight hours, Nikki and Ramone decide to break for lunch, nonetheless confident in there plan and tactics for the evening chase.
Accordingly, hunters are taking vacation days and kicking their time in the woods into high gear as well as this is definitely the best time of the season to be hunting. Regardless of whether your locale limits you to stick and string this time of year or you can reach out a little farther with a muzzleloader or even a modern firearm, the following tactics will help you make the most of this exciting time of season.
He has monster bucks, big bear, and incredible waterfowl hunting.
Growing up, we spent many weekends hunting ducks and geese on local public land near my home. The youth day hunts were exceptional as it opened a weekend before the regular opener, but I had never really experienced anything like what Canada has to offer.
Many of these tips can be used for any type of spot & stalk hunting, but I find them especially effective on mule deer. I’ve always been a huge fan of hunting mule deer, but this year turned out to be what I decided would be called “The Year of the Mule Deer.” I opened the season with a velvet mule deer hunt in Colorado, then moved onto Nebraska. After that, I drew a tag in Arizona after 10-years of applying for the Kaibab which should be an incredible hunt.
In fact, more than 40 states permit some sort of either sex turkey hunting in the fall and winter providing abundant opportunity across much of the wild turkeys’ nationwide range. Winchester makes a host of great turkey loads for today’s big bird hunter, so grab yourself a box, load the shotgun and get into the autumn woods. Not only is it a beautiful time to hunt, but with more turkey hunters focused on spring (or at this time of year, deer) the fall turkey hunter can find himself in the midst of hunting a lot of unpressured birds. Here are some tips to ensure you foray this autumn is productive and fun.
Where deer, waterfowl and many other large beasts such as elk and pronghorn can only be hunted in the fall, turkey hunters can enjoy going afield nationwide in the spring and in more than 40-plus states across the country in the fall. If you haven’t tried fall turkey hunting, you’re missing out on a time of year that was originally viewed as the classic season for hunting wild turkeys.
But while trigger sessions at the range are a fine way to make sure your big game gun’s scope is on and that you still have a steady enough hand and breathing technique to chew up a bulls-eye at 100 or even 200 yards, there’s an even more exciting way to make sure you are prepared for the big moments this autumn holds. That way is small game hunting.
This can be the case, but you can also use these winds to your advantage as well. First, when you experience high winds one of the reasons game is usually spooky is because everything is moving. This can be used to your advantage if you’re in a treestand as you will usually get busted less. If something catches a little movement from you, just sit tight and let the wind blow everything around you and the deer will usually go back to feeding.
In many places, hunters plant fields of sunflower, millet and corn and can charge up to a $100 a day or more for hunters to bring their shotguns and dove buckets and sit in strategic points in an effort to shoot their daily limit. Dove hunting is allowed in 42 states and according to an article in the Bangor Daily News, more than 20 million of them are harvested each season. It is unequivocally the most popular game bird in North America and still its range and numbers keep expanding.
A new animal I hadn’t tried calling to until this year was hogs. As most people know who’ve hunted hogs, they often come out at night when the temps cool down. This can make it difficult to find success during the day and can be downright frustrating. Recently, I planned a trip to Texas to hunt hogs in the smoldering heat of August. Temps were topping off at113 and my Cuddeback’s were showing only nocturnal activity by the hogs.
Start Scouting—I’m not talking about just starting to scout game just yet as much as scouting out your hunt locations. Whether public land or private, it it’s been last season since you’ve been out there, check out what changes have taken place during the warm months. Make sure timber stands haven’t been cut, see what has been planted in agricultural fields to know whether it will attract deer or other game you might be hunting, and check stands and blinds and make any repairs.
To help get started, I recommend going online and checking out the new Winchester Patternboard. This is a great way for you to do some amazing comparisons from the loads you’re currently using and see if there is a better combination available for your setup. It allows you to pick your gauge, choke, shell length, pellet size, Winchester brand, anddistance.
In fact, for deer hunters, the first firearms deer season to open in the United States—in the South Carolina Low Country—begins August 15. Whether your favorite hunting is for the king of game animals, the white-tailed deer, or you are more of an elk, waterfowl or small game hunter, here are some things you need to start doing now in order to be ready when the season begins.
Go hog hunting.
Hogs, maybe just short of coyotes, are one of the most rapidly expanding species in the country, moving into new areas at a ridiculous rate. “The wild pig is the most prolific large mammal on the face of the Earth,” according to Texas A&M’s Agrilife Extension. They average between five and six pigs per little and have approximately 1.5 litters per year, though they are perfectly capable of having more litters and larger litters.
It’s sparked families to share Winchester stories, new traditions to begin, and this anniversary has given us all a chance to reminisce about what’s really important.
Paper hulls would frequently swell when soaked from rain, water in duck blinds or excessive humidity. They could even swell to the point where they wouldn’t chamber in a shotgun or would fail to extract when fired…if it fired. Then, in 1964, under the Mark 5 shotshell banner, Winchester changed the game with the introduction of compression-formed plastic hulls.
I love to shoot my guns, bows, get my gear organized, make lists of things I may want for the upcoming fall, but I also am super-interested in the growth and patterns of whitetails on property I hunt. Even though bucks are not yet at their full antler growth, I still love putting my Cuddeback’s out nice and early to watch them grow.
Winchester has been a part of so many families and helped create so much happiness over the last 150-years. Winchester’s iconic brand has touched so many families, including my own. After sitting down with my dad and discussing my grandpa’s incredible love of the Winchester brand, he showed me a lever action 30/30 that’s been passed down through the generations of the Bachman family.
Guess it’s the next best thing and something I enjoy doing as well. Most stands need to be tweaked or moved slightly each year and with this comes shooting lanes. Summer is a great time to check everything over, including treestands, straps, and shooting lanes along with access to and from. This will prevent you from having to do this work in the fall when you really should be out scouting, checking cameras or hunting.
When it’s the end of a stalk and it’s time to get down and belly crawl, most of the time I don’t take my binos off and safely put them in my backpack. Instead…they’re drug through the mud, sand and dirt and look pretty tough after a hard day of hunting. I’m confident that I’m not the only one out there that this happens to, so I started looking for products that can keep my gear safe without any extra hassle.
Certain rodents, for instance. Farmers plagued by rodents in their crops either poison them or let varmint shooters trim the herds. You could be one of those shooters, and on your first shoot this late spring or summer you could discover your rifles are inaccurate. That’s funny. Last year they were deadly accurate. What happened? They got dirty.
For years I’ve been coming to Southeast Alaska to hunt black bear and the adventures have been unbelievable. This was going to be the first time staying in a cabin. As luck would have it, we had absolutely perfect weather. Bright sunny days, warm temps, no wind, and best of all…no bugs!
On this black bear adventure in Southeast Alaska, I decided to bring my dad along for the ride and he was up first. The way we were going to be hunting was primarily from a boat looking for south facing grass flats where fresh & tender green shoots of grass would first be popping up.
As kids, my parents had taken my brother and me to Alaska and we had the opportunity to fish halibut, travel the state and see a wide variety of country. However, we weren’t able to get any hunting in and I knew my dad would just love a backcountry trip like this.
With the growing numbers of coyotes in most areas across the US, it’s not uncommon to see coyotes carrying new born fawns in the spring. I’ve had numerous Cuddeback’s with this very pic on it. I understand it’s part of nature, but I’m a firm believer in getting out there and doing my part to control those coyote populations.
The John Browning-designed Winchester Model 94 lever-action in 30-30 Winchester was the first commercial sporting rifle/cartridge that used smokeless gunpowder. This was a huge advancement in firearms technology, but the M94 was not initially chambered in 30-30.
With everything going on so many people forget that these simple things need to be shared. Sure it’s fun to hear birds gobbling from the roost and have a little alone time, but this is an incredible experience you can share with your kids and family as well.
Because from the moment of birth, a turkey is vulnerable to being killed or eaten by a host of predators—both four legged and two legged—they possess a level of paranoia that makes the worst schizophrenic seem calm and an uncanny ability to respond to real or perceived threats with a sudden retreat on foot or by wing.
Most importantly, how impressive were your patterns? Did you take time to shoot much before season? Have you been using the same gun/ammo combination for years? All these questions are fair game, and if you haven’t taken the time to look into updating your turkey gear…you may be missing out!
Outdoor writers Doug Howlett and Brad Fenson were riding with fellow hunter Ken Byers, scouring the rolling country side for birds strutting in the open when they spotted a strutter near a remote corral, fan spread to impress three feeding hens.
Longbeard XR has raised the bar when it comes maximum effective range for shooting turkeys. We all like to call them in close, but the impressive patterns experienced with Longbeard XR are truly unbelievable. Featuring brand new Shot-Lok technology, Long Beard XR has given turkey hunters the tightest patterns and longest shot capability of any lead load in history.
With that said, we still want to be successful when season opens and we all need to learn to maximize our time in the field. Ideally before any upcoming turkey hunt I’d love to go roost birds, watch fields, look for sign, and get an idea of what’s happening in the area I’ll be hunting. This takes time and depending on the location of the property I’m hunting, not always possible.
As every turkey hunter knows, talking to tom is half the battle. Millions of dollars and hours have been spent trying to improve humans’ ability to talk turkey. Box calls, slate calls, scratch calls, wing calls, diaphragm calls, straw calls — you name it, turkey hunters have tried it. But they’ve rarely doubled up.
However, there’s one thing I am confident that has stayed the same through all 150 years. Dog has always been man’s (or woman’s) best friend. We may baby our pets a little more now than they did 150 years ago, but I can promise you that love and loyalty toward our furry friends has never changed.
Once that is accomplished, each and every element must be reconsidered in order to find ways to improve it. Many would say, “It works fine so why change it?” Not the people who are working hard at Winchester. With 150 years of shot shell manufacturing knowledge, they have truly re-defined waterfowl hunting with the introduction of Blind Side.
No! At least not if you do it the smart way. To save wear and tear on your shoulder from those big kicking 12 gauges, strap on a PAST or Kick Killer (from Buffalo Arms Co) shoulder recoil pad and/or shoot from a Caldwell Lead Sled. You can slip a bag of lead shot between your shoulder and gun, but this extra length could mess up your aim.
When Winchester looked to create a load specifically for varmint and predator hunters they not only came up with a load with extreme long-range accuracy, but also realized the importance in having minimal pelt damage and making it affordable.
The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation — which depends on citizen cooperation and participation, with hunters’ license fees and excise taxes funding restoration, protection and habitat work — has led to ever increasing quantities and quality of big game animals.
Although many things have changed, there are a few things that have stayed the same. We still fill our freezers with lean, and healthy wild game which we eat year round. We still cherish the moments spent afield together, and talk on and on about the experience for years after.
However the off-season can be a great time to do a little routine maintenance to keep stands in tip top condition and most importantly keep them safe. One of the first things you should do is remove all seat cushions during the off season. This will keep the squirrels and elements from destroying them throughout the winter months.
Many states, with the permission of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), are allowed to extend special seasons for problem populations of resident Canada geese and migrating snows, which can boast giant, destructive flocks in the thousands. Meanwhile, other states hold seasons that run all the way from February into May.
The popularity of Shot-Lok Technology and the performance it delivered in Long Beard XR and Rooster XR rolled seamlessly into what is unequivocally one of the best shotshell options available for extended range shots from a scattergun on coyotes, foxes and more.
With all that said, not everyone has a big budget to spend on planting crops specifically for your deer. However, over the years I’ve come up with a few ways to help cut costs and still produce great results I’m a firm believer that any type of food plot will help a property – it keeps the deer living right in the area where the food plot is planted.
The temps are cold, snow can be deep, and predators have an edge. With ponds and lakes frozen, I have witnessed a pack of coyotes use this to their advantage. They will surround and single out one deer, run them out onto a frozen pond and take them down in no time.
We did a lot of calling using rifles, however we also used shotguns. I like them for those coyotes that come right into your lap, but there are also many states you can only use a shotgun at night when calling for coyotes. So they are a great alternative for night calling, but there was no ammunition designed specifically for this use.
Shotgun “accuracy” is a product of gun fit (so it points where you’re looking every time), concentration (so you don’t pull off the target at the last split second), gun and shell patterning (so it throws an even and adequately dense concentration of pellets around the target center), and follow-through.
I was lucky enough to grow up in a family who loved and embraced hunting, but that’s not always the case. Outdoor TV and YouTube have become sources for many kids to learn more about hunting- whether it’s tips, tricks, or just being entertained, so I figured why not try and entice more kids using that same outlet.
I was hoping for a little Boston Terrier puppy to accompany me on my travels. I had never had my own dog before, and you can image why with my travel schedule. My brother has a male Boston Terrier, Rocky and he’s such a good dog that I couldn’t help but want my own.
I enjoy looking back at the pics, and remembering the good times or hard work that was put into a hunt ending in success. My family has always taken photos, and there is nothing we look back on more than our hunting shots. Sure…it’s just a photo, but there is always a story that goes with every one of them.
Excessive conversion of grasslands to croplands has reduced their numbers and range, but they’re still common to abundant — yet few of us hunt them. Don’t be one of these people. Winter is the perfect time to hunt jacks. Prior to 2001, the challenge was finding the perfect firearm and cartridge for jacks.
You can go as Spartan and alone as a Jedi and still find success working the thickets on foot with a trusty scattergun cradled in your arm or sitting a brush-surrounded field edge in the evening with a tack-driving .22. Best of all, most rabbit seasons run through the much of the rest of winter, providing an abundance of excuses to get outside and hunt rather than sit lazily around the house.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Sure, the percentage of big deer is probably higher than many locations, but big bucks are smart – really smart. This year, for example, I hunted over a week bow hunting, hunted the 4-day slug season for second gun, and hunted the entire muzzleloader season to come up short. Tag soup. It happens, but luckily that wasn’t the case for everyone in my family.
And for gun enthusiasts and sportsmen, part of those wishes may well—in fact they should—include the commitment to be become more accomplished shooters in the new year as well. With that, here are five resolutions that if committed to, will make for a great 2023.
Over the years I’ve had a large percent of my success during late December and January on whitetails – especially big bucks. With that said, the techniques can be very different. I believe this is a time of year when hunting smarter, not harder can be a huge key.
I’ve tried positioning my decoy in various ways hoping to change my shot angle. I’ve set my decoy up near a rub so bucks will have something to show their dominance on while posturing to my decoy. I’ve used everything from scents to sprays, rattling to a snort wheeze to make my setup even more effective, but this year I learned something new.
During this period bucks actively check and work scrapes, respond to grunt calls, etc. In the same area the majority of the does will be receptive from about November 8th through November 20th. This is the peak of the rut. During this time bucks rarely take time to work scrapes. They simply go from one receptive doe to another.
I was able to bring my mom along for her first mule deer ever. We did it all spot and stalk, and I was by her side the entire time. One great aspect was the fact that we had two tags and she was going to be by my side for my hunt as well. As we spent time glassing the hillsides, we were enjoying much warmer weather than usual and just taking it all in.
On top of all this, weather across much of the whitetail’s range has been relatively mild to this point, another factor that does little to improve a hunter’s odds of spotting deer on the move. That is until that weather changes.
Well this couldn’t be truer than spending last night editing together a sizzle reel for Season 5 of Winchester Deadly Passion. It was another wonderful season that I’m wrapping up filled full of memories that will last a lifetime. Way back when I was a little girl I dreamed that someday I could hunt for a living.
What better way to extract some justice from those furry, scurrying critters that filled your heart with false hope during deer season with every initial rustle in the leaves and fill your pot for a delicious cold-weather stew at the same time, than slipping into the woods for a little squirrel hunting action.
On this recent trip to Nebraska I was lucky enough to team up with Scott Kuhn of Deer Meadows Outfitters who has become a close friend. Over the years I’ve done numerous mule deer hunts with Scott, brought my dad and brother out to do a coyote hunt with him, and this year I was bringing my mom on her first ever mule deer hunt.
No they cannot “gun” hunt deer in the rut; they all four have their main firearms seasons post rut and primarily in December (depending on the way the calendar falls). All of these top whitetail destinations, except Kansas, also require modern firearms hunters to use slug shotguns. When much of the country has hung up their blaze orange for the year, these mega buck Meccas are just gearing up.
The combination of these circumstances means competition for receptive does during early December can be high in areas where most does are bred during mid November. This means bucks, does, and fawns will be using scrapes to communicate their social status to other local deer. However, the leaves have fallen throughout much of the whitetail’s range by early December and the ground portion of scrapes are often covered with leaves and appear inactive.
By knowledge I mean a completely understanding of a deer’s anatomy. Sure we can look up Google images of deer anatomy and most of us know where the basics are, but sometimes you want to know exactly what vitals you may or may not have hit so can plan your tracking accordingly.
Such topics are sure to spawn a spirited debate among anyone who hunts America’s favorite game animal and to be sure, for anyone who has more than a few years of hunting time under their belt, you can bet they have made some choices as to what their favorite load and caliber are.
Here are six calibers that are sure to crop up in the discussion:
Bucks don’t defend territories or their home range like coyotes, bobcats and other predators! About the only territory bucks defend is a very small circumference around a receptive doe. Thus the area they will defend is very small and changes frequently as does only remain receptive for about 24 to 36 hours.
I wasn’t sure I would ever really feel that way. I love to hunt and doubt that will ever change, but recently I’ve come to fully understand how the joy on someone else’s face can truly outdo your own excitement when hunting. Take Kelly for example. She was granted any wish in the world she wanted from Wishes & More and she chose to come hunt with me in Illinois.
This is two to three weeks before most does are receptive. Check out this video. This buck is freshening a scrape. When many does are receptive most bucks, especially mature bucks, don’t spend time using scrapes, but rather focus on finding and tending receptive does.
Although hunting may be fun there are actually a ton of benefits to taking your kids hunting that you many never thought of. Being a kid who was exposed to hunting from an early age, I can assure you there is a lot to be learned in the woods.
There is nothing like a dark antlered Rocky Mountain mule deer emerging from the timber on a snowy morning to get a hunter excited, but quite honestly over the past decade or so, some of the best mule deer hunting in North America has been found in more open or prairie type regions.
There are many variables including the buck’s health, quality of habitat each year, etc. Most hunters wish to hunt and harvest bucks with larger antlers. The best way to produce bucks with larger antlers is to allow immature bucks to mature. This requires being able to accurately estimate a buck’s age before pulling the trigger! So, let’s practice…
If you’re lucky enough to hunt deer during the rut one of the most important choices you can make is your choice in ammo and a gun. I’ve been using the Winchester Deer Season XP. It’s offered in a variety of calibers, and honestly the perfect ammo for deer. It was made with only one thing in mind, and that was to take down a deer the quickest way possible.
That is certainly a great time to hunt elk, but in most states, those early seasons are bowhunting only, and for many of us rifle hunters, we must wait until later in fall to pursue the noble wapiti. Wyoming has rifle elk seasons that start in early October, as do many of the units in New Mexico. On these hunts, you may catch the tail end of the “bugle,” but if you are not there that first week, you will probably not be able to locate bulls with your ears.
Receptive does often separate themselves from their fawns and other does. In addition, they often go to a different part of their home range. This is why during this time of year I prefer using a doe more than a buck decoy. I really enjoy watching videos of bucks challenging and crashing into buck decoys. However, I enjoy even more tagging a buck!
It surely wasn’t for lack of effort, but that’s the way it works sometimes. Many people get the illusion that everything always works out perfectly when you’re hunting – that’s simply not the case. This trip was a huge success in my book, but no tag was filled and that’s ok.
We were in Sonora Mexico hunting desert mule deer, and Hunter had been telling me about his unorthodox mule deer tactic for a couple of years, so I couldn’t wait to see how things might unfold. Hunter began blowing distress sounds on a fawn call that was originally designed for predator hunters. For a few moments nothing at all happened, but then he whispered, “Look 45 degrees to your right.”
The hidey hole plot the buck is in, in this video, is less than 1/8th acre in size. It actually connects through a fence gap to a much larger food plot. Deer tend to use the larger food plot after dark, especially mature bucks. However, they tend to always exit during the morning and return during the evenings using the smaller, more secure hidey hole plot.
As we were floating down the river we would find a good area of visibility to hunt for moose, setup camp and hunt in that vicinity for a few days. The river was great to use as a navigational tool, but we were spending most of our time out of the boat, walking through the thick willows and trying to find high points to gain a little elevation.
As with anything, the wind must be in your favor to successfully call in bucks. Youngsters will often charge right in to your setup, but a smart old buck will attempt to circle downwind and try to smell before he comes in. That is the key to calling deer. The best scenario is to put some sort of boundary behind you while the wind is in your face, so he cannot get downwind and smell you.
Knowing this means it’s worthy to scout for the food sources bucks are currently using. During this time of year bucks crave carbohydrate-rich food to aid in developing fat! This could be grain crops in agriculture production areas or acorns in areas where oaks dominate the landscape.
That wish finally came true as I headed out on a float plane from Whitehorse heading into the Yukon bush for a 10-day float trip with a tag for moose, grizzly, and mountain caribou. Originally we were planning on using horses for the trip, but prior to our arrival the moose rut was really ramping up so they decided to switch us to a river hunt where we would float the river and camp along the way.
There is lots of glassing, hiking through the mountains, typically long shots, and there is a good bit of travel for most hunters to get to the right areas. The Coue’s whitetail is a different animal indeed, and many who hunt the gray ghost of the desert become addicted to the challenge. Male Coue’ s deer generally weigh less than 100 pounds, and they are only larger than the tiny Key deer of south Florida as far as whitetails go.
The local hunters thought the large rubs I was studying would be great stand sites! In fact, there was a ladder stand about 70 yards away from the rub in this picture. These hunters wore a trail to this ladder stand from where they parked. I had hundreds of pictures of mature bucks using this rub but this image is the only one taken during daylight. The hunters never tagged or even reported seeing a mature buck from that stand.
This can be extremely helpful if you’re trying to decide where to hunt for yourself, but also a great way to show family and friends what stands are best for different winds. I also like to take it a step further and mark ladder stands with an X, so I have a quick reference as to what type of stand is there.
That seems particularly preposterous to anyone who has driven by a mall, a golf course or a park in those same 20 years where geese ramble about like gangs of pigeons on steroids, scarfing up grass and pooping all over the place. Today, these “resident” geese as they are referred since they don’t migrate like their brethren Canadas, account for one of the most prolific hunting opportunities available to hunters along the Atlantic coast and even many points to the west.
During early fall there are more deer, turkeys, etc., than there will be during the remainder of the year. This is because there will be no more births but animals will die during the rest of the year. This is obvious for game animals such as deer and turkey. It’s also true for squirrels (and other rodents) and birds.
However, long hours on stand can be downright uncomfortable if you don’t have the right setup or remember the little things when it comes to comfort. First and foremost, comfort starts when getting in and out of a stand. Sure you’re not climbing the ladder long, but if you’re uncomfortable or nervous it can keep many from ever getting into the stand.
With big game populations seemingly pushing the carrying capacity of many local environments beyond anything hunters and game managers of the 1950s and 60s ever dreamed, it isn’t any surprise that most kids today come up hunting deer, turkeys, elk and even bear as some of their first hunts. But that wasn’t always the case.
However, fresh rubs, especially those during the early season don’t mean the buck or bucks will return to that area. There are many factors that are changing during the early season. These factors include changing food sources and a deer’s changing dietary requirements.
Buck grunts communicate to other bucks in the area there is a receptive doe close by. During this time of year most bucks’ testosterone level is very high but most does aren’t receptive. Because receptive does are scarce most bucks will readily check out the source of grunts in an effort to find a receptive doe.
If you get as excited as I do, it’s pretty fun to see your reaction as well. I like to mount a small camera on my bow. My favorite is the Garmin Virb XE. This shoots amazing video, and the coolest part is the fact that it can also be paired with the Garmin heart rate monitor.
Declines in deer populations have been caused by outbreaks of E.H.D. (Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease) and predators. There’s no known prevention or cure for E.H.D. However, excessive predators can be removed and a proper predator/prey balance restored. The question is what’s a proper predator/prey balance? There are some easy ways to monitor the predator/prey balance where you hunt.
Although, some people may think that when an antelope comes to water it’s a simple slam-dunk deal. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not. However, I have picked up a few helpful tips along the way that can help improve your odds of success.
Let’s look at each, – you decide which is best
Spring hunts can vary from looking for bears that have just emerged from dens to glassing large expanses hoping to catch a boar roaming in search of a receptive sow, to hunting near shorelines where bears are eating grass and scavenging after a long hibernation.
Each fall deer shed their short and reddish summer hair and new darker hair begins to grow. The blotches of new hair can appear like a rash or skin condition. As the fall progresses this new hair will continue to grow and will end up much longer and darker than their summer coat.
Over the years I’ve always had a cooler in the bed of my truck to keep fresh game, camp food, drinks, or even capes. I’ve picked up a few tips over the years to help you maximize your cooler’s potential. These are simple tricks that anyone can do, however, things many people never think about.
On my last hunt to the same location, I took a great bull of some 58” and was with a friend who took another fantastic moose. My 2 other camp mates scored on true B&C monsters; one was 65” wide and the other was an unbelievable 76”. I measured them myself, and though I am not a tape guy, it was incredible to know just how wide these two brutes truly were.
Bachelor groups are relatively easy to find this time of year and it’s tempting to place stands based on these observations. That may not be a good strategy. About the same time bucks shed their velvet many summer forages and crops are maturing. These factors can results in significant changes in the bucks’ behavior (specifically their tolerance of other bucks) and preference of food sources.
Everyone knows the importance of wearing a seatbelt while you drive, well tree stand safety should be no different. Whether you’re hanging stands, sitting with a friend, or hunting on your own, it’s extremely important to ensure that you’re safe while on stand.
Safety Vests are extremely comfortable these days and there are also products out there like a lifeline that you can put up on your tree stands right now during the off season so you can be safe all fall.
Opening day is drawing close, we’ve been busy with work and other activities, and with weeks, maybe even days before the deer season blows wide open, we have yet to take our rifle or slug gun out and even fire a single shot. Remember, when sighting in your rifle prior to the season, it’s technically not just about “if” your gun is on; it’s really more about if you as a shooter are on.
Using age as a criterion for hit list candidates can be a good deer management tool. However using only age and/or antler size can lead to a lot of frustration! That’s because researchers using GPS collars have documented that some bucks are primarily active only during hours of darkness. Knowing a hit list buck is living where you hunt but never seeing him can be frustrating and result in eating a lot of tag soup.
There are very few locations in Argentina with the option to hunt ducks, perdiz, pigeons and doves, but the area of La Pelegrina has an abundance of all and is the precise reason Paco Riestra decided to call this location home. Paco came over from Spain with his college-aged son at the time and realized he had found a true paradise.
From lone hunters trying to post up near a favorite tree and claim a few of the birds as they transfer from limb to the feed below to large scale gatherings replete with barbecue and sweet tea feasts at the close of shooting, dove hunting is a tradition enjoyed by hunters across the United States. For those shooters who don’t spend abundant time on the clays course or pursuing other winged quarry, it can also be one of the most frustrating exercises in shotgun marksmanship. Don’t miss out on filling your brace this September.
Healthy deer produce larger antlers than unhealthy deer. The process of body growth and maintenance requires small amounts of most of the elements on the periodic chart. For example, zinc is needed for immune function, wound healing, blood clotting, thyroid function, and much more. Another example is Molybdenum that works in the body to break down proteins and other substances.
First, I had heard of some cool traditions that they do using horses and a boat to deliver hunters to their blinds, so I was excited to experience that. The other reason was because of the plentiful supply and the wide variety of ducks that I’d be hunting and had never seen before. So. day two of our trip was going to be dedicated solely to ducks. I couldn’t’ wait!
But there has never really been a load designed specifically for deer…until now! This year, Winchester, building on their long history of innovation, took that important step with the introduction of Deer Season XP, a load built for expressly for whitetails. Outdoor writer David Draper sat down with Winchester’s Centerfire Product Manager, Mike Stock, to get the scoop behind the new round’s creation.
Turkeys often dust daily especially during the summer. They dust to remove external parasites and loose feathers. Turkeys molt or replace their feathers in a relatively slow process. They can fly throughout the molting process. Because they don’t lose all their feathers at once, the loose ones they shed often get stuck amongst the remaining feathers. Dusting helps remove the loose feathers from their body.
So what’s a hunter to do in the throes of summer, when the mercury is rising and the majority of the most popular hunting seasons are closed? Well, there are always hogs. With barbecuing a wonderful way to spend a day with friends in summer, there are probably few summer hunts that compare to seeking out and taking down the very porker you plan to throw on the pit cooker or spit.
Hens must constantly be alert for poults to survive. It seems all predators – from snakes to hawks and land critters that have that have canine teeth enjoy a meal of turkey poults. The poults instinctively know to listen attentively to the hen. They know when to freeze and when to flee based on a single call.
However, when given the chance I’ll take a spot and stalk style hunt any chance I can get…especially for big muleys! One of my favorite mule deer destinations has become the Sandhill region of Nebraska where I hunt with Deer Meadows Outfitters year after year.
However, deer can damage soybeans to the point they won’t grow or produce pods during the late winter if there are a lot of deer in the area and/or the food plot size is relatively small compared to the number of deer in the area. It’s easy to protect a portion of soybeans in a food plot by using a Hot Zone electric fence. The fence is easy to install and is solar powered.
In fact, deer crave soybeans so much that they can totally consume a young soybean crop in smaller fields such as food plots long before hunting season.Does that mean soybeans are a bad choice for food plots? No. It means the smaller the food plot and/or the more deer in the area the more seeds that are required per acre to produce a good crop that will be productive throughout the summer and into the late winter.
Ask any merchant who works behind the counter of a gun shop and they will be full of stories of sportsmen who come in their store and spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on a top shelf rifle, hundreds (if not thousands) on a technologically advanced sighting system and then select the cheapest box of ammunition on the shelf in order to save a few dollars.
Deer will seek the best quality forage within their range that they don’t associate with danger. It’s easy to forget the last part of that sentence (don’t associate with danger). Knowing what types of foods deer prefer during each time of year helps locate where deer will be feeding. Deer crave protein during the summer so they often feed on ag crops such as soybeans.
Named for Mr. Olin (“Nilo” is Olin backwards), Nilo Farms was established in 1952 as one of America’s first game preserves. For decades, it has maintained a commitment to the development and demonstration of hunting preserve and game management techniques. Nilo has contributed a wealth of new information to the hunting and game preserve community.
Later during the summer the protein will be replaced with hard minerals that give the antlers their rigid form. Once this occurs, the antlers will go from a living and pliable tissue to a non living bone like structure and the velvet will shed. While the antlers are growing they are relatively soft and pliable compared to hard antlers. It seems bucks tend to avoid touching anything with their antlers until they are hard.
There is an entirely different class of predators that uses a totally different technique. Crows primarily use their sense of vision to find turkey nests. Rarely are nests covered from the top and the off white eggs are probably very easy to spot from a bird’s eye view.
Research shows each year more hunters are passing immature bucks. More than 60% of bucks harvested in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma were 3.5 years old or older (Quality Deer Management 2015 Whitetail Report)! That’s a drastic change from a decade ago when the majority of bucks tagged nationwide were yearlings.
First, with the advancement in technology cameras have come a long way. You now are looking at Cuddeback photos that boast a 20MP image, crystal clear video, and more affordable than ever. So, the first decision you need to make is what type of flash module to use. The most popular options are a flash, IR, and Black Flash.
Not only do I enjoy watching antlers develop, but the cameras help me learn about travel patterns that may be helpful during hunting season. Deer season opens in most areas just before or after bucks shed their velvet. During this time bucks typically travel between food and cover – using the same travel routes daily.
There are several reasons that make this true, and your physical ability can really make or break a hunt. We all make time to practice, ensure our gear is in tiptop condition so why not make sure we are prepared for the hunt as well! I’ve come up with 4 reasons being fit will help you find success this fall, but the time to start is now.
I put a Reconyx trail camera with video capabilities on the nest and have enjoyed watching what hens do while “nesting.” I’ve also been thrilled that a predator hasn’t destroyed the nest so far! This hen is beating the odds. Researchers have published that 50 to 90% (depending on the study areas) of all turkey nests are destroyed by predators!
Gobblers that were almost impossible to call for weeks because hens were going to them daily are now very responsive to calls. In fact, often multiple gobblers will respond to a single hen. Even though gobblers tend to be very responsive to calls during the late season, they may not gobble much.
While it can get boring, I’d say there are some significant pros and cons for both styles that you should take into consideration before deciding how to hunt on your property. First, when it comes to blind hunting there are some significant benefits:
Every year thousands of turkey hunters, both sportsmen and women, join together to support the NWTF convention in Nashville, TN to learn, buy, and reminisce with old and new friends about their turkey hunting expeditions and experiences. There are always drawing, raffles, and contests going on, but this year I was lucky enough to be a part of the comings and goings.
There’s nothing a hunter can do to change these conditions. Gobblers are also usually quiet during the peak of breeding season. This is similar to the lockdown phase of the whitetail rut. Bucks simply aren’t moving as much as they will spend 24+ hours with a receptive doe in a relatively small area before seeking another receptive doe.
Jakes can group up and absolutely dominate the woods causing gobblers to literally turn and run at the site of their presence. My season started off in Illinois where jakes were overrunning my setups. I had decided to put a ground blind on a big clover field and the first two mornings when the turkeys flew off the roost the jakes came piling into the decoys and the gobblers ran the other way.
Whether you’re still sweating that late season bird with your favorite turkey gun or have taken a shot or two without dropping a bird, chances are, unless you’ve patterned your shotgun, you probably aren’t as dialed in as you think you are. Patterning a turkey load isn’t just for when you have a new gun.
This is very common for this time of year in the Midwest. When a tom is with a hen there are a couple of strategies I find successful. The two strategies I use in these situations is to carefully move to an area that’s definitely out of sight of the tom where he’d feel comfortable (open, relatively flat, etc.) approaching or call aggressively to the hen and try to attract her and the gobbler follows her.
This one-of-a-kind app allows you to select a Winchester turkey load, yardage and choke constriction, and then shows you how that combination patterns on targets set between 10 and 70 yards. You can then examine pellet count and density within 3-, 5-, 15- and 30-inch circles. Even better, you can then compare patterns for up to four different load, choke and range combinations.
Often the gobblers won’t be very vocal when following the hens. They rarely will leave the flock of hens to respond to a lone hen (hunter) calling. However, the flock of hens will often respond to a dominate sounding hen call. I’ve tagged several toms during the early season by calling a flock of hens and taking one of the gobblers that was following the hens. I listen to the hens and call a tad bit more aggressively than the loudest hen in the flock.
The tom in this video is in a known strut area at my farm. There’s another tom gobbling in response to his calls. Often if a tom is in a strut area without hens he will gobble in an effort to attract hens. Gobblers nearby will often gobble in response. This is a locator call. I use this knowledge to my advantage.
We were all so incredibly happy and the feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming. This had been an amazing journey and something I will never forget. Keep hunting hard up until the end – “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Who was it that said that?
Dropping down in the wrong spot can put you in a slight depression or behind brush that may obstruct your view—and shot. Or it can leave you unnecessarily exposed or sitting facing the wrong way from where the bird wants to approach. Here’s how choose a spot that will provide for the perfect ambush.
I recently used a Reconyx UltraFire camera to monitor a known strut zone at my farm. Within a day or two it filmed two mature toms aggressively chasing three jakes from their strut zone (watch this video)! This will be a perfect place to place a jake in strut decoy before sunrise then after the sun is up give a few yelps.
Some of the best deer hunting in the US (especially considering trophy potential) is in the Midwest. States like Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa regularly produce a high number of giant bucks, and they have another thing in common; they are slug states. By “slug state” I mean that these states, and at least parts of other states, do not allow centerfire rifle hunting for deer.
Wherever you plan to hunt during the “early season” one thing is for certain, you need to be close to an opening! Almost all states set the season opening date to start while hens are still breeding and toms are still sorting out the dominance hierarchy.
Toms will be strutting trying to attract hens and often are still in gobbler groups.
The good news is there are a ton of other activities we can do outside to keep us busy and occupied until the next hunting season rolls into place. I’ve come up with a list of what I believe are the 11 best ways to spend your off-season outdoors.
To the contrary, today there are over 30 million whitetails. This is testament to US citizens’ conservation efforts toward this species, one that is the top This population is so high that Time magazine did a cover story about deer and other wildlife populations that are “out of control.”
Turkey guns are usually 12 gauge shotguns with an extra full choke. Mine is a Winchester SX3 Long Beard and I use Winchester Long Beard Magnum 3” shells with #4 shot. I just patterned this gun and shell combo and was very impressed with the results! I prefer to call toms in close and enjoy their behavior, but sometimes mature gobblers will hang up 30, 40, and even 50 yards out.
Whether you’re using their Deer Season XP, Vamint X, AA TrAAcker, Razor Boar XT or the Longbeard XR this spring, you’ll realize that they have put a ton of time and research into helping you be a better more effective hunter in the field. These loads have all been specifically tailored to meet the needs of very specific demands in the field.
Deer Season XP was not designed for deer and larger, thicker-skinned and heavier boned animals, it was developed for the thin-skinned 200-250 pound buck whitetail deer. Whitetails can be tough animals when hit with marginal shots, and one thing we all hate is a long tracking job, so the engineers at Winchester set out to produce a whitetail specific load that would drop deer in their tracks. After all, that’s what we all like, right?
Spending countless hours at the range is great, but sometimes we just don’t have the time. We’ll all make the time to ensure our setup is ready to go before the hunt, but what about trying a variety of combinations on your lunch hour right from your office?
If not, you will surely spark a heated discussion that will vary with every opinion, and one that could rage on for hours.
One of the great arguing points between turkey hunters for decades has been whether #4, 5 or 6 shot is superior. I must admit that I have indulged in this debate a number of times, but I am not sure there is a clear cut, “right” answer. Let’s look a bit deeper…
I shared a picture of some deer tracks in snow on my Facebook page recently and someone commented that I was following a “big buck because of the feet drag marks in the snow.” There are lots of myths about what can be told about a deer by their tracks. One we can put to bed is that deer that only big bucks drag their feet in snow. Check out this video.
Over the years, however, I’ve learned having a few essential items in the vest at all times can make a hunt not only more enjoyable, but more successful as well. This is all subjective, but here are the items I can’t live without when hitting the turkey woods each spring.
Some of the country’s best deer hunting can be had in the months of December and January, but you can’t give up after Thanksgiving. Prime big buck states like Iowa, Kansas, Illinois and Ohio all have their gun seasons after the peak of rut. All of these except Kansas limit modern firearms to shotguns with slugs, and Kansas, Pennsylvania, New York, Texas and many southern states allow rifle hunting in December, and some even into January.
The timing of antler shedding is determined by changes in hormones, primarily a reduction in testosterone, normally triggered by increasing day length. However, injury or other factors that impact testosterone levels can affect the timing of antler shedding for individual bucks.
I think they are the most majestic of the deer species, their meat is my favorite from North American animals, the country they live in is beautiful, and when they are bugling, there is not more exciting hunting pursuit. I have taken a number of elk with both bow and muzzleloader, but if I have my choice, I am going to pick up my favorite rifle to chase bull wapiti.
Over the years I’ve hunted out of a wide variety of blinds for both turkeys and deer. After spending countless days and weeks in blinds, I’ve come up with some key features that you want to think about before purchasing your next ground blind that will not only make your hunt more comfortable but also make you more effective.
There are populations in nearly three fourths of our states, and this pig population explosion is a problem no matter how you look at it, but it has opened the door for hunters. Hog hunting has become the fastest growing hunting sport in the US over the past few years, and like coyotes, this is due to expanding populations and ranges that mean more opportunity for hunters.
Coyotes often have large home ranges. They can and often will respond to calls from long distances in open country. However, where the vegetation is thick the sound from calls don’t travel as far. I’ve found that coyotes will often remain very close to a source of easy food.
We have lots of hamburger, steaks, chops, roasts, etc. in the freezer, but my two favorite ways are a little less traditional. We always make a batch of canned deer meat along with deer bacon. Some people may have heard of canned deer meat before, but deer bacon? Yes, it’s really great.
One of the best things about coyote hunting is that access is generally pretty easy to obtain. It is increasingly harder and harder to get permission to hunt deer and turkeys, but unless hunting rights are leased, most landowners will allow hunters to access their property to hunt coyotes. When asking permission be courteous and respectful, and I find it helpful to dress in a decent way and not show up on a landowner’s doorstep in camo and muddy boots.
One of my dear friends—a passionate deer hunter and owner of 300 acres in Wisconsin—always calls the annual rifle season there “Nine days of hate-your-neighbor; where people behave in ways that would be unthinkable to them at any other time of year.” He’s exaggerating, of course, but only slightly.
Deer hunting is a deep and intense experience for me, and defining it can sometimes be difficult, if not maddening. But just a few days ago, I had some help. On a frigid December evening, with just days left of the season, I killed a beautiful doe. She came in with a half-dozen companions, stared at me in a poorly-concealed tree stand, and decided I was nothing to fear.
We were introduced to predator hunting at a very young age because my dad took care of us all winter since he was laid off from his road construction job in the winter and my mom was working. He would bundle my brother and I up, put us in the back seat with plenty of snacks and we’d hunt all around central Minnesota looking for coyotes. As soon as he spotted one and got permission, the fun would begin.
But it isn’t a company satisfied to sit on the strength of past successes, and in fact, continues to redefine how we as hunters and shooters continue to excel behind the gun. As evidenced by their 2015 product line-up on display at the recent Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas (SHOT), many of Winchester’s biggest game changers have come in just the past few years.
It doesn’t matter if I’m calling bear, turkeys, elk or coyotes – I absolutely love it. Not only is it a lot of fun and usually quite easy to get access, but you’re also doing a big service helping keep things in check. The number of coyotes seems to be at an all-time high in many states and of course this has serious repercussions on deer populations.
In my opinion the .300 Winchester Magnum is the closest thing to a perfect caliber for all North American big game as there is. My reason can be summed up in one word: versatility. The .300 Win Mag with a light 150-grain bullet such as a Power Core, PowerMax Bonded or Power Point can reach velocities of up to 3390 FPS and is a great round for wild hogs, pronghorn, Dall sheep, and all of the various deer species.
Female fawns often reach puberty and become receptive if they reach 70 pounds by late winter. Fawns tend to travel the same routes daily. The combination of receptive female fawns and a limited number of quality food sources available during the late season makes finding active scrapes this time of year relatively easy. Bucks will be seeking these receptive fawns and will often tend scrapes along the routes female fawns are traveling.
When the temps drop down below zero it can become downright brutal to hunt in, but if you can find ways to make it work, it can also be some of the best hunting you’ve ever seen. This was the exact case on a recent late season South Dakota hunt.
By now, as divers and dabblers have worked their way down the flyways, they’ve been called to, decoyed and shot at, and the survivors are wary of anything that doesn’t look right. That also means hunters have to get smarter, pay more attention to the tactical details and be ready to make shots at fast passers, sometimes at the edge of their shotgun’s range.
I live and primarily hunt in the Ozark Mountains of southwest Missouri. The relative humidity is often above 80 percent in this area. Moist air carries scent better than dry air, and most scent molecules let off more odor when they are moist. This is why hunting/tracking dogs work better when there’s some moisture in the air and on the surface of the ground.
This decreased weight can change some of the characteristics commonly used to estimate the age of deer. A buck’s age can still be accurately estimated by taking this expected body weight loss into account. This video shows a realistic scenario. It’s a good buck, but you only have six seconds to decide to shoot or pass.
I was lucky enough to hunt with the Flack brothers and some friends near Mound City, Missouri with Bucks and Ducks. They have an incredible setup. They live and breathe waterfowl hunting. Since it had been a while, I figured that I might as well surround myself with experts!
Deer Season XP
As the biggest announcement in 2015, Winchester has created a load specifically for deer hunters. The new Winchester Deer Season XP is engineered for one purpose—dropping deer in their tracks. With its radical new Extreme Point polymer tip bullet, Winchester Deer Season XP combines a massive impact diameter for immediate and violent expansion with an elevated ballistic coefficient for flatter trajectory and long-range accuracy.
How old do you estimate the buck to be in the following video? I’ll post the characteristics I notice, and at the end my estimate of his age at the bottom. Don’t look down and peak before you guess!
Hunting has always been a family tradition in our household in central Minnesota. Although we didn’t have the biggest bucks or the most abundant supply of ducks, we still enjoyed the moments and memories and continued to find ways to enjoy our time together as a family.Since growing up and moving a couple hours from my parents, we don’t get to spend as much time together anymore so I always try to plan a couple hunts a year where I bring my family along.
It’s become very popular among hunters to pass younger bucks and wait for a mature buck. That can be tough to do when you only have seconds to see and decide to shoot or pass. Let’s say you are hunting where the landowner requests bucks are at least 3 years old before they are harvested. You see the buck in this video coming and know you will have seconds to decide whether to use your tag or pass. What would you do?