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In this issue:

December 2012

John 3:16

Vol. 4 No. 30

- The Best Flashlights for 2012

- Jump Shooting Ducks

- Top 5 Outdoorsmens Gifts

- Weather and Whitetails

- 5 Strategies for Hunting the Rut - Outdoor Truths

158 East Road • Ecru, MS 38841 hillcountry@ms.metrocast.net

W.C. Grisham of Union County took this giant buck while hunting in Illinois.

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Solunar Tables

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Editorial Dean Wells

Editor and Publisher of HIllcountry Outdoor Magazine

Every Dog Has His Day

Thatʼs a saying Iʼve heard all of my life, from folks in every walk of life. So, it was that late November day that I hurried to my hunting spot. The frost had blanketed my truck and I was letting Ole White Cloud warm up. To say this hunt had to be rigged by the Almighty Himself may cause some to frown, but those who know things like this happen will simply nod their heads.

Last year I had planned to do some guiding for a locally owned outfitting business with land leased in Iowa, but that fell through hours before I was to leave. My hunting clothes were all neatly packed in 5 duffle bags, to be loaded in the truck and were lying in the living room floor.

As I arrived home that evening, I had to just set there and let the entire day's events soak in. Wow, I had just killed the biggest deer of my life and found out who some of my real friends were.

“All is well that ends well”, is what they say. Its almost been a year, and my buck is on the wall. I have a new trailer for the ranger and I wonʼt forget the folks who helped me that day. You would never have known all of this just by looking at the picture. What a way, for a dog to have his day.

Until next time, Deano

I began to carry my hunting gear back to the place where I keep it, in frustration for all that had transpired. The funny thing about all of this was that I felt an overwhelming peace and looked forward to the next day of guiding myself.

The stands I had placed in different counties ran through my mind for hours as I tried to make a decision about where I was going to hunt. I watched the weather, got the wind and all the other conditions and decided on where I was going. As always, the next morning I awoke second guessing my decision, but after breakfast I decided to stick with it.

Now White Cloud was warm with windshield smoking from the heater melting away the frost. I climbed in and off I went. After arriving, I left the warm truck and began my long stalk through the frost.

This year I had added another tool to my arsenal, a small video camera, therefore I was doing a little filming as I walked to my stand. What a beautiful day I thought...Deercember at itʼs finest. The birds were playing in the frost, a squirrel hopped off a tree beside me and ran into a brush pile.

What was about to happen, I have spent many days pondering and I have talked to experts who have never witnessed any thing like it. As I was filming with the camera I saw something moving out in front of me. It was a buck deer walking on his back legs like a man. He walked out of the woods and across an opening rubbed the bottom of a tree limb then dropped on all fours, scraped, then went back where he came from. I was astonished and bewildered to say the least, trying to process what had just happened, when along came another buck doing the same thing. I couldnʼt believe it and I had just recorded it to boot. It was about this time, I saw tines and a deer 35 yards away, walking by, with me standing there watching, I dropped the camera and shot my largest buck to date a 10 point with 7 inch main beams and a 21ʼʼ inside spread. But this story is not over yet.

Shortly after I got Ole Bruiser loaded, I was headed home when I felt a violent jerk, as I looked back in my rearview mirror I saw that my trailer hauling my brand new Polaris Ranger had broke an axle, jerked off the ball and was going down a 8 foot embankment,. The truth is that it almost caused my Yukon to go into a tail spin, as I fought it with everything I could to keep it on my side of the road. After I got stopped, I ran over and looked down the embankment and saw my buck deer thrown 10 feet from the trailer. My trailer that had been from here across the United States many times was a wrecked and tangled mess, but my ranger was fine. I couldnʼt believe it. That was a miracle, for my trailer to come loose from the ball, break a right axle, plow into a ditch and break everything on the trailer but the ranger. It gets better.

There I stood beside the wreck with vehicles going by and people wouldnʼt stop to help. Some of those I had helped before when they were in a jam, but they just looked and drove by, some I knew, recognized me, and still wouldnʼt stop, you can bet Deano wonʼt forget them Jack. Lifeʼs challenges, where people are involved, have a way of separating the wheat from the chaff.

While I stood there in anger and disbelief, I started to think how the man who was finally helped by the Good Samaritan must have felt, when along came a carpenter who stopped by and asked “Man you need some help donʼt you?” It turned out he owns Moody Construction and he helped me for 4 hours to get it all under control and wouldnʼt take a dime. My best friend in high school, Timmy Hall with Hall Construction, along with Union Lumber Company came by and offered us the use of their loader to pull my trailer from the ditch. In a few minutes along came Bro. Williams with Pontotoc Gas to help and then Alan Russell with Russell Body Shop to haul my trailer back to his shop to fix. Last but not least, Mr. Bobby Joe McMillan and his wife, whoʼs yard got messed up and rearranged for a while, never complained once.

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SPORTSMANʼS WAREHOUSE 130 Marathon Way, Southaven, MS 38671 (662) 349-5500


The Best Flashlights of 2012 By Justin Thomas

The body of the TK11 is built of aircraft-grade aluminum alloy, and it has a very solid construction. The flashlight is coated inside out with olive color type III hard coat anodizing that not only provides excellent surface look and feel finish but also protects body against bruises scratches.

25 Amazon reviewers gave the Fenix Tk11 an average of 4.9 stars (out of 5 stars). Itʼs available from Amazon for $73.

A less expensive, but equally well-rated light is the Fenix E21 Once again, we have scoured the internet to find the highest rated flashlights. The lights we feature here received the most praise from the forums and review sites we assessed. These sites included: Backpacking Light, Light Reviews, and the Candle Power Forums.

Best Keychain-sized Flashlight – Fenix LD01 LED Flashlight

A few notable brands of flashlight are still made in the U.S. – Streamlight (made in Eagleville, Pennsylvania) and Surefire (made in Fountain Valley, California), and Pelican (made in Torrance, California).

If you are only interested in flashlights that use standard AA and AAA batteries, see the keyring-sized Fenix LD01 or the Streamlight See also our guide to the best rechargeable batteries See also my our article on the Brightest LED Flashlights

Best Overall Flashlight – Fenix TK11 R5 LED Flashlight

Pros: Very bright, uses single AAA battery, rugged, waterproof, affordable. Price: $41

Reviewers are virtually unanimous in recommending the Fenix LD01 as the best keychain-sized flashlight. The Fenix LD01 flashlight runs on a single AAA-sized battery, yet it can produce 80 lumens of light on its highest setting. It uses a Cree Q5 LED as its light source, and the lens is made of toughened, anti-reflective glass (as with all Fenix lights). It has three output modes: 10 lumens, 27 lumens, and 80 lumens.

The Fenix LD01 is also “IPX-8 water proof” which means it is suitable for continuous submersion. Pros: Very bright, durable, quality components, waterproof, inexpensive. Price: $73

Once again, a Fenix light heads up our list of top rated flashlights. The Fenix TK11 R5impressed reviewers with its build quality and light quality. The TK11 R5 uses of two Cree 7090 XR-E Premium Q5LEDs, producing very bright beam of light (285 lumens in turbo mode). Most reviewers say that Fenix now rivals Surefire in terms of build quality, but because Fenix lights use Cree LEDs, their flashlights are brighter and more affordable than Surefire lights.

The Fenix Tk11 is part of the Tactical range of flashlights from Fenix LightThe Fenix TK11 is actually an enhanced version of Fenix T1 Tactical. The TK11 uses two CR123 or 18650 batteries. A 18650 is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with a 3.7V working voltage. You can find rechargeable 18650 batteriesand the chargers at Amazon. You can use rechargeable CR123A batteries in this flashlight. You switch between light levels by turning the flashlightʼs head: turbo mode is 225 lumens, and general mode is 60 lumens.

The Fenix LD01 is available from Amazon for $41.

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The Best Flashlights of 2012 (Continued from pg. 5) Best for Law Enforcement & Self-Defense – Nitecore Extreme Flashlight

Best for General Household Use – Streamlight 4AA LED Flashlight

Pros: Very bright, uses single CR123 battery, excellent runtime Price: $92

The NiteCore Extreme is flashlight design for Law Enforcement and for self-defense. Reviewers say the output and runtime of the flashlight are top-notch TheNiteCore Extreme runs on a single CR123 battery, and they body is built of military-grade aluminum alloy. It has two light operating levels both of which are are configurable through light programming and are memorized.

The NiteCore Extreme uses Cree 7090 XR-E Premium Q5 binned WC tint LED. The reflector is built from solid aluminum with a Light Orange Peel reflector finish. It uses digitally regulated electronic drive circuit along with micro controller based programming unit. Brightness levels are controlled by turning the head.

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Pros: Inexpensive, extremely rugged, good beam shape.

Reviews say the Streamlight ProPolymer 4AA Flashlight is the best flashlight for general household use. There are lighter and brighter flashlights out there, they canʼt beat the Streamlightʼs price at $28. The flashlight uses 7 LEDs that produce a flood beam with a hotspot in the middle. Reviewers at Amazon gave this flashlight 4 or 5 stars, and rave about its ability to fill a room with light.


Jump Shooting Ducks

When someone mentions the phrase duck hunting, most of us envision a group of guys hunkered down in a camouflage boat amidst a hundred decoys on a big lake. While this may be the case for some hunters, not everyone has access to a large body of water where ducks take refuge, or a boat to sit in while waiting for the ducks to fly within range. If you are a part of this second group, you can still duck hunt with a good chance at bagging a few trophy mallards or wood ducks.

In all honesty, many duck hunters crowd in around refuge or sanctuary areas, and at the first sign of a winged animal, they either let shells fly, or start a bout of calling that drags ducks away from you. All this competition for birds can make for a very frustrating hunt, especially if you are only able to hunt during high-traffic times such as weekends. Jump shooting ducks is a viable option for water fowlers looking for a change from the norm, and the rewards are numerous. First and foremost, jump shooting gives hunters a crack at birds that most others either overlook or don't care to chase. Secondly, it's just you and the ducks in unspoiled real estate with this type of hunting. Small ephemeral ponds and streams are extremely beautiful and peaceful in the fall, giving the hunter plenty to stay busy with between ducks soaring off the water. As far as equipment is concerned, jump shooting really does not require hunters to go out and break the bank. Any 12-gauge shotgun in the sporting goods department will give you the power and range to consistently knock down ducks. Three-inch steel shot shells in heavy-shot sizes work best. Don't forget to bring a few extra three-and-a-half-inch shells, just in case you run into a goose or two hiding out in the sloughs.

Jump Shooting Needs

If you only plan on jumping small ponds, then a pair or waders will allow you to collect all your ducks. But if you stalk small river systems, a welltrained dog or canoe will make your life much easier. In most cases, a good retriever will save you from many a headache when in the field. Not only will a good dog fetch ducks that have fallen in the water, they'll also find ducks that have fallen into the thick brush or woods. One of the best parts of jump shooting ducks is that no special skills or techniques are required. Hunters of almost any skill level can do it with great success, from the novice hunter to the seasoned veteran, and the ability to avoid detection by moving carefully and quietly will be your greatest asset.

Jump Shooting Techniques

Stealth is of utmost importance when jumping ponds. Ducks have an uncanny ability to pick up the slightest movement and sound in the woods, driving them into the air before you can get into range. Walking very slowly and dressing in camouflage will help, but hunting on windy, wet days will be the only way to truly hide your approach. If you are in an area with very little cover or structure, then crawling on your hands and knees might be the only way to get you close enough to shoot.

When you start jumping ponds, keep a keen eye out for how ducks react when spooked off a pond or river. This important information will aid you in future hunts. Most ducks sit on ponds in certain areas for a reason; either that is where they find food, or it is close to an escape route. Understanding where ducks are going to be on the pond you plan to hunt will help you and your partner position yourselves for more effective shooting.

If you can find a buddy to hunt with, sneak up to the pond from two different sides (not directly across from each other) with one person coming from the escape route and one from the most likely landing path. This two-sided approach should at least push some of the ducks by being shot at or spooked towards one of the hunters. In the unfortunate circumstance that you do spook a few ducks before you get into range, hunker down for a second or two and be quiet. If the ducks did not get a good look at you, in many cases they'll circle around and come back to the pond, giving you a second chance to either pass shoot them or take them as they try and land back on the water. If you are interested in jump shooting a few ducks but aren't sure where to start, a good place to begin looking is secluded forest wetlands and bottomland hardwoods near wetlands. Streams, natural ponds, oxbow lakes, wooded sloughs, wooded islands, beaver ponds, and seasonally flooded hardwoods contain the much needed habitat and feeding areas waterfowl require. There is no real secret to finding a good jump shooting body of water. Hunters need to frequent their local waterways regularly to see where the ducks have taken refuge from hunters. A pond that is hot one week might not see ducks again for the rest of the season, depending on weather and pressure, so knowing your local waterways well will give you a better shot at seeing ducks.

Finding Duck Locations

When you happen to find a small pond or river area that consistently harbors ducks, be careful not to shoot the area out. Excessive shooting causes ducks to leave an area for good. If you are hunting a very large area or several small ponds, try leaving a certain part or a single pond free from shooting. This small sanctuary provides protection for ducks, ensuring that a few ducks will be present on at least part of the area, hopefully moving onto your hunting ground later on.

Special Considerations

Monitoring the times at which you hunt is another good consideration. In most cases individuals are hampered by work and busy lives, so getting out duck hunting happens whenever free time presents itself. If possible, hunters should hunt in the early morning allowing ducks to return and feed undisturbed before nightfall. If ducks receive pressure from hunters at night and repeatedly during the day, they will flee small ponds and waterways looking for heavier structured areas to protect themselves.

If sitting out for long hours in the cold alongside other hunters just does not do it for you anymore, then jump shooting ducks might just be the change you and your hunting companions have been looking for. Explosive action and picturesque landscapes in conjunction with minimal hunting pressure makes this type of hunting exhilarating and fun for all ages. Get out and visit a few ponds or small creeks in your area and see what's waiting for you this upcoming season. Page 7


Top 5 Outdoorsmen Christmas Gifts For Christmas 2012 WARN Cordless PullzAll .....$489

As we hunters so often say, the real work begins when the animal is down. Dragging your critter out of the woods, loading it into the truck, hanging the carcass for aging can all be physically demanding, especially for older hunters. So lift some of your loved oneʼs burden with this 24-volt, cordless, handheld winch, which lifts or pulls up to 1,000 pounds.

Attach it to a tree to pull a heavy buck up a steep incline.

Hook it to a heavy-duty strap near the cab of your truck to haul your trophy into the bed. Use it to hoist your animal for cooling and butchering. The PullzAll has both forward and reverse and comes with two rechargeable NiMH battery packs and a charger. —Dave Hurteau

Diamond Archery Infinite Edge Package.....$349.99

The Infinite Edge is the perfect gift for the new bow hunter, male or female, young or old. This new compound takes the recent trend of increased adjustability to the limit, with an industry-first draw-weight range of 5 to 70 pounds. (In fact, with the limb bolts backed all the way out, you donʼt even need a press to work on the bow.)

The draw length adjustability is likewise impressive, from 13 to 30 inches, with no need to change cams or mods. Lightweight and handy, the bow weight is just 3.1 pounds and measures 31 inches from axle to axle. The accessory package includes a 3-Pin Apex Sight, Hostage XL Arrow Rest, Octane DeadLock Lite Quiver, tube peep sight, and a BCY String Loop. —Dave Hurteau

Garmin Fenex Watch.....$399

The new Garmin Fenex (with a long "e", like "Phoenix") is a watch even James Bond might love. This rugged, waterproof digital watch sports an altimeter, barometer and a digital compass in addition to its full-featured GPS capabilities. With the Fenex strapped on your wrist you can create routes, record up to 1,000 waypoints, track logs, navigate to coordinates or along a track, waypoint or any other bearing. In addition, the Fenex's TracBack function allows you to go back along a tracklog to your car, campsite or home. The Fenex boasts a large, backlit display, a mineral glass lens and an everythingproof polyurethane band. —Chad Love

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Thermacell Heated Insoles .....$129.99

While they may seem a little gimmicky, as most items of clothing with a remote control are, these heated boot inserts from Thermacell are a great present for the hunter in your family. Rechargeable batteries in the insole provide about 5 hours of juice per charge and the remote control offers two heat settings and an off switch. This means you can keep them off while walking to your stand, and then crank up the heat when you sit.

While not by any means ideal for someone on a long, rugged hunt away from power sources, they're great for the bowhunter who sits for a few hours in the morning and wants to walk back to the truck with feet that can actually still send signals to the brain.

S.O.G. Bladelight.....$85

This one took Best of the Best honors, and my opinion of it now is even higher. Itʼs a big lockback folder with a powerful LED flashlight in the handle, and is extraordinarily handy. The stainless blade is just under 4 inches long, and the flashlight has a max output of 35 lumens with a running time of 260 minutes. It weighs only 4.3 ounces, and has a real-world price of $85.


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Weather and Whitetails

The best way to pattern deer using the weather is to begin by keeping records of the weather every time you head to the woods to observe, track, scout, and hunt in your favorite part of the great outdoors. Make this part of every trip for deer and you will be able to zero in on harvesting your next trophy.

Science has confirmed that weather effects wildlife in a variety of ways and whitetail movement is not exception. While experts will occasionally disagree on it's effects, nothing can dispute your own observations. Many will debate on which is more important: Wind or temperature? Do deer move more on a rising or falling barometer? Do atmospheric conditions such as rain, cloud cover, fronts or fog really matter? When looking at weather conditions be sure and factor in the hunting pressure on your neck of the woods as well.

This type of weather condition is fairly clear as just like high temperature inhibits our movements, high temperature inhibits deer movement as well. Low temperature stimulates movement and activity. Remember that extremes on either end of the temperature scale will inhibit movement and activity. Usually temperatures above 60-65 will begin to slow down movement and activity. No matter what time or day or season. Be sure an adjust this for your area of the country. The farther north you go the upper temperature range will slide lower. There will surely be some cutoff temperature above which daytime whitetail movement is curtailed. This is where your field notes will identify the "Activity Zones"

Temperature

Most outdoorsman pay close attention to the barometric pressure as an indication of general activity no matter what sort of game they may be after. This is the number one weather indictor to pay attention to and check regularly when heading to the woods. While it can be a complicated topic, whitetails seem to favor a moving barometer to a stationary one. A rising barometer (such as high pressure moving in after a storm) verses a falling one and a steady high barometer verses a steady low one seems to promote the best activity. You may want to invest in a barometer for your deer lodge or camp so you can track your specific area verses the one your get from the TV weather man, sometimes 100 miles or more from where you are.

Barometer

A barometer in your deer camp will give you the ability to accurately anticipate the amount of deer movement you can expected on your next hunt..

Atmospheric conditions such as rain or the lack of, along with the amount of nature of cloud like rain, mist, fog, and whether you have clear skies, cloudy skies and partly cloudy skies will again help you anticipate deer movement. The data you have collected will help you pinpoint the fact that the grungier the sky, the better the deer will like it, even up to but not including heavy rain. A good ground fog, with a light misty rain provides the best of all hunting situations. This goes to show that when you head into the woods you have the right gear for every sort of weather condition you can expect that day.

Atmospheric Conditions

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Wind direction matters only indirectly concerning whitetail deer movement. The given winds velocity will affect deer movement directly. Wind speeds over 20 miles an hour seem to slow down movement and activity. But deer where wind speeds are regularly higher will adapt to any sort of wind conditions in order to survive. Below 20 miles and hour the speed seems to have no effect. They move as freely in a 15 mph breeze as when itʼs dead calm.

Wind Force

The nature of the wind is more important than the velocity. Some deer will like strong, steady breezes and dislike gusty, direction-switching breezes because it makes them nervous about there areas they are in. Paying attention to and recording wind force in your area will let you know how the deer in your area react to various wind conditions. Many will debate if the "Moon" is weather but we feel that the "Phase" of the moon does affect whitetail behavior. It may be the light it emits, or a gravitational pull effect, but tracking the moon phases when you are in the woods will help you identify when you spot movement and activity throughout the day.

Moon

You database will yield information over time to which period of the open season has the greatest likelihood of producing the most buck sightings per hunt. It is not surprising that the best period of activity and movement is at the peak of the rut.

Using a something as simple as a notebook to get started is a great way to begin. Also there are many good computer “hunting log books” available that will cross-reference input data for you automatically as you add more and more data over the years. Some of the good programs even combine this information with topographical maps or aerial photos.

A simple logbook/database will give you the real answers to your questions about when deer move in your area. Your information will replace superstition, old hunters wivesʼ tales, long standing myth, or guesswork, and provide you with the evidence to find more trophy opportunities.


Hunter Coleman of Pontotoc, pictured with his dad, Jeff Coleman, took this huge bear with his bow at very close range. The bear scored high enough to get the Pope & Young award. Hunter and his Dad were hunting with Saskadrenaline Outfitters, out of Saskatchewan, Canada.

Senatobia 662-562-4346 Oxford 662-234-2225 www.sayleoil.com

• Change oil with Pennzoil Oil • Change oil filter • Check air filter • Check brake fluid • Check and Fill power steering fluid • Fill windshield washer reservoir • Check and fill battery fluid • Check engine coolant • Check transmission fluid • Check drive belt • Lubricate chassis • Check wiper blades • Check and inspect tires • Vacuum auto interior • Wash windshield

“Come see us for a change” Page 11


Survival Tips For Deer Hunters

At one time or another, most of us have been turned around in the Woods. Heck, even Daniel Boone admitted to being turned around "for a few weeks" when he was out exploring! The modern deer hunter should carry a minimum of gear suited for survival situations when out deer hunting, especially if you're hunting far from the road.

stranded in the woods for an extended period of time. You can use a rope for first aid purposes, to help build a shelter, or to secure equipment during your hike. You can even string up a makeshift clothesline to dry wet clothing should you fall into standing water. Be sure to keep your rope with you and not in the truck.

The essentials for your survival kit

It is also a good idea to wear a belt when out hunting. A belt can be used as a tourniquet in an emergency, as well to help secure a splint to a limb if necessary. A belt is one first aid item that you don’t have to cart around either.

Sometimes it’s easy to lose your way in an unfamiliar wood. Carrying a compass and maps of the general area that you will be hunting in can help in the event that you get lost. Carry a flashlight with extra batteries in case you get caught out after dark. There are also flashlights on the market now that operate by just a shake, eliminating the need for batteries. Matches in a waterproof case are essential and a sharp knife is good to have as well. A traditional Bowie or a Swiss Army knife both serves the purpose for deer hunting. Some granola, candy bars, or dried fruit are a good idea to bring along if you are not skilled at finding food in the wild. Never eat any plants or berries unless you are familiar with what types are poisonous. If you are unsure of the safety of a plant or its fruit, don’t eat it. Risking an illness while stranded in the wild is not preferable to an empty stomach. A bottle or two of drinking water is necessary also. Humans can survive for weeks without food but only three days without water. You will not want to drink any water found on the land without boiling it for several minutes first to kill off any bacteria or parasites. It is recommended that you carry a needle and thread in your survival kit. These materials can be used to repair torn clothing. You can also stitch up a wound to stop heavy bleeding in case an injury occurs and you cannot get medical attention right away. Most hunters carry a six to eight-foot length of rope to help drag their game back to the truck or haul equipment up into a tree stand. This rope can be used in many ways if you are

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Fire safety when stranded in the woods It’s important to follow usual camp safety guidelines when starting a fire under any conditions in the wild. Always triple check to make sure a fire is completely out before leaving the area to prevent flare ups and a potential forest fire. Choose an area away from trees and shrubs, and line your pit with small boulders or stones to help contain the embers. Gather larger logs and sticks and stack them in a teepee fashion. Then gather small twigs and scraps of paper to use as kindling at the base of your teepee. Blowing gently on your kindling will help your flames catch hold. You can use pine boughs to shield your fire from wind if necessary. You can also use boughs to stand or sit on if snow is present. This will help insulate your feet from the cold while warming yourself near the fire. Many times, surviving in the woods is a state of mind. Keep your cool and in most cases you'll come back from deer hunting fine. Panic and they may be carrying you out in a body bag. If they can find you at all!


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Strategies for Hunting the By Bruce Ingram

The rut is something that we hunters passionately wait for throughout the year but especially once the various Southern statesʼ deer seasons begin. Regardless of where we will be afield, we will have to make some major decisions during this time. Here, then, are five strategies that may increase our chances for success this year.

ALLOW CURRENT CONDITIONS TO DICTATE HOW YOU HUNT To the subhead above, I might rephrase it to read, “Allow current — and local — conditions to dictate how you hunt.” The problem here is ascertaining what stage of the reproductive period is actually taking place concerning your local whitetails. Itʼs not uncommon for sportsmen in the same county to be witnessing entirely different buck behavior.

For example, many of us, including this writer, have a network of friends who likewise pursue whitetails. During the course of a season, and especially as the rut nears or advances, we will contact these individuals — and they us — to share successes and commiserate concerning failures.

Several years ago over a period of two days, I contacted four of my buddies in order to receive their field reports. The results are as follows. Note that we were all hunting within a two-county area.

• Acquaintance — A told me that the rut was nearly over and had been winding down for the past few days. He had already tagged a nice buck that was chasing a doe. • Buddy — B proclaimed that the rut had not yet begun, but it was about to. That day he had witnessed several bucks pursuing does. He was quite optimistic and expected to kill a good buck any day. • Colleague — C admitted that he was confused about just what stage the rut was in. The “moon phase and weather,” he said, had caused his local deer to be “all messed up.” The whitetails had “just disappeared, who knows where.” • Deer hunter — D flatly announced that the rut was long over. He had killed two fine bucks and would now try for a doe for the freezer.

And what news did I have for my compatriots? Over the course of those two days, I had observed only two whitetails: a scrawny 2-pointer that was bedded with a smallish doe. For all I knew, the duo could have been brother and sister that had remained together because their mother had died the year before.

My point is that all deer activity is local, just as is such highly relevant factors as buck-to-doe ratio, weather conditions and existing hunting pressure. Yes, I know that moon phases and photoperiods play a crucial role in the rut. However, knowing what is going on locally on your 40-, 400- or 4,000-acre tract is often more important than just about anything else.

In any given county in any given state — because of various local factors — the bucks may be in the pre-rut phase and chasing, actively mating, or in the final phases of the rut. The only way to know for sure is to go afield as often as and as long as you can day after day.

Rut

ADAPT TO THE DEER The preceding strategy leads to this second one: That is, we should understand the importance of being able to adapt to the deer and change how we are hunting based on their behavior. For instance, letʼs assume that the does on your local tract have not quite entered estrus. The bucks, however, have become filled with vinegar and are busily jousting with each other, laying down scrapes, and marking rub lines.

This would be a marvelous time to engage in some activities that could lure bucks to our stand sites. Rattling yes even in Mississippi, is a very viable tactic now and it probably has a greater chance of working than at any other time of the season. Conversely, say two weeks later when the bucks may very well be actively mating, our rattling will have little chance of paying off.

This same time during the prerut would also offer us a great opportunity to draw in a nice buck by creating scent trails. A buck that comes across the first doe-in-heat trail of the season could come charging to our stand. But, again, relying on doe-in-heat potions when the forest is full of the smell of estrous females is a gambit that is not nearly as likely to result in success.

My favorite strategy to implement throughout most of the rut (all in fact, except for the actual mating period) is to set up along rub lines. This past season, for example, four times I witnessed an excellent 8-pointer moving along a rub line. Three of those times I was afield with my bow , and the period was very early in the pre-rut.

On two of those occasions, I was able to draw back on the buck, but either the old boy would never stop within a shooting lane or his vital area would remain behind some tree. The last time I saw the 8-pointer was during the gun season when he was clearly on a mission and was steadily moving along the rub line. I grunted and bleated to him, but he never turned or even slowed his pace. In response to my calling, a 3pointer did immediately show up at my stand, but I never saw the massive 8 again that season. I can only hope that he will make a reappearance this autumn. And chances are that if he does, it will be along that rub line. Continued on pg. 14 Page 13


5 Strategies for Hunting the Rut (Continued from pg. 13)

However, on my property, that same rub line was void of buck or doe traffic during the actual rut. The area bucks had no time to revisit the line or freshen the scrapes along it, as they were too busy mating with does. Foolishly, I spent an additional two days sitting along the line until I realized that the bucks had moved on — and so should I.

Interestingly, as is often the case, at the start of the post-rut, some area bucks returned to the rub line after the mating period had ended. My clue to their return were several fresh rubs, as well as a massive tree that had been horned — perhaps an indication that “my” 8-pointer had survived his quick journey to wherever he had been. Once again, though, I was a little slow to recognize the change in venue, and I missed seeing the bruiser. Adapting to the movements of our local whitetails is a crucial part of developing a sound strategy. The strategy decision that causes many of us the most indecision (and I am definitely including myself in the us category) is the mental anguish and somersaults involved with choosing a stand site. Once again, local factors will likely be the most important thing to consider.

WHERE TO CHOOSE A STAND LOCATION

My family and I live on a 29-acre tract, having bought the land in 1988. Since I can walk right out my back door and be in the woods, I have hunted this parcel more than any other properties that I either own or have access to. Over the years, I have killed 20 deer “behind the house,” including several 8-pointers. One of several constants about the land is that the deer, year after year, have certain predictable travel patterns.

For example, every year at the start of the bow season, does and the occasional buck regularly meander through and feed in a mixed white and red oak hollow. The deer continue to use the hollow throughout the pre-rut period, only ceasing to do so in daytime after the leaves fall and the acorn supply has greatly decreased. Before leaf fall, I set up along an old fencerow that leads through the heart of the hollow. And by doing so, I have killed a number of deer there with both bow and gun. However, once the leaves fall or the acorns disappear, I rarely view whitetails in the hollow. Years passed before I realized that the deer were still moving through my land, but they were doing so while traveling through a dense thicket that lies some 50 yards from the edge of the hollow.

Indeed, during the latter stages of the pre-rut and throughout the rut, the trail through that thicket receives intense deer movement. A buck that I shot during the rut last year, in fact, died just a few feet off that trail. That trail continues to be a deer magnet all the way through the post-rut period until the end of the deer season as a whole. If I am buck hunting during any part of those two periods, it is that secluded pathway that offers me my greatest hope for success.

I strongly suspect that similar, predicable deer travel patterns exist on the land that you go afield on. In the pre-rut period, that hot trail might involve an overgrown fencerow between two wood lots or a line of oak trees that have yielded bountiful nut crops. During the rut, a prime tree line to hang a stand might be the one that runs along a creek bottom or extends to a bedding area. In the latter stages of the post-rut and recovery periods, the best site might be one that lies next to a late-season food source.

Again, hunters should think locally about the various foods available, possible travel paths throughout the various and long deer seasons, and the habits of the local deer herd members. Then and only then can we make logical decisions concerning where to position a stand.

I have a good friend whose predominant big-buck strategy is to always know where the does are. During the early stages of the season and prerut, he doesnʼt even bother to consider where the bucks are. When he has a chance to arrow a doe, he generally does so, feeling that is part of the overall goal of wisely managing the deer herd.

KNOW WHERE THE DOES ARE

By the latter stages of the pre-rut and throughout the rut, this same acquaintance refuses to kill does and targets big bucks exclusively. However, he still is single-minded about knowing where and when the does are using the property he hunts on. His reasoning is that the bucks will now show up soon, and he wants to be near does when such is the case.

During the later stages of the rut and throughout the recovery period until the end of the season, this friend once again concentrates only on the does. His feeling then is that any late rutting buck will show up to harass the does still waiting to be bred or any fawns that have entered estrus. And if no bucks appear at all, he still has an opportunity to take one last doe for the freezer.

This past season, for instance, my friendʼs “know where the does are” plan worked very well. During the early stages of the season, he opted to arrow a mature doe, thus helping to manage the herd on the landownerʼs property and providing his family with venison. When the rut kicked in, the buddy still was concentrating on the whereabouts of does and was able to kill a fine 8-pointer that was trailing an estrous doe.

In the latter stages of the season, my friend saw far more deer than I did, although he did not have the opportunity to kill another broadbeam. He later decided to take another doe toward the end of the season. In short, some of the most successful big-buck hunters are doe hunters first.

Todayʼs Southern deer hunter has more knowledge to glean from than any sportsmen in this regionʼs history. We know far more about the stages of the rut and the life cycles of whitetails, and we have access to more varied and sundry kinds of quality hunting weapons than our ancestors could have ever dreamed of.

KNOW YOUR LOCAL DEER FOODS

Yet, if there is one aspect of deer hunting that our sporting predecessors might still have the edge on us is that they were better woodsmen than many of us are today. Certainly one of the most important aspects of woodsmanship is having a strong background in the various kinds of foods that our local deer consume.

For example, many if not most of us Southerners know that the white oak (Quercus alba) acorn is one of the most preferred deer foods — if not the most preferred — in our entire region.

How many of us are aware of the other members of the white oak family that grow in our local woods? And if we are aware of them, how many of us can distinguish the white oak family membersʼ acorns from the nuts of Quercus alba itself? The answer, quite probably, is that not many of us can. The deer can certainly distinguish among the foods available to them, however. They know what they like and will go to that food. Hunters who know the palatability and availability of those deer foods have an obvious advantage.

Additionally, I would wager that most Southern sportsmen are very much aware that whitetails will often turn to the acorns of red oak trees after they have consumed those of the various white oak species. How many of us can identify the red oak varieties that live in our home counties? And even more of a challenge would be for us to learn which red oak family members produce acorns that are most consumed by the deer in our home woods. Continued on pg. 15

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5 Strategies for Hunting the Rut (Continued from pg. 14)

The Southern states also produce a dazzling variety of soft-mast foods.

This knowledge of hard- and soft-mast food items is crucial to our knowing what the deer, especially the does, will be eating during the various stages of the rut. If, for example, a hardwood hollow on the property you hunt is devoid of acorns, do you know where the deer in your area will congregate? Will the whitetails be venturing to local soft-mast food sources or will they be going to fields?

If the latter is the case, which fields are the most popular and where do the deer typically enter them? To be sure, these are hard questions, and to answer them we will have to spend a great deal of time learning about our local food sources. This also would be time well spent — just as I hope that considering these five strategies will be time well spent when the rut begins in our region.

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OutdoorTruths

I really love this time of year. The areas that have a lot of deer hunters seem to always try to accommodate this crazy couple of weeks. Even mommas who are normally more about cleanliness are excited to see their little boy or girl come home with a little blood on them from a successful morning. I have heard of places where school is closed during the first week of rifle season and I have personally witnessed every hotel room in a Days Inn in Kentucky being occupied with hunters. I can still picture the parking lot full of trucks, trailers, four wheelers, and deer. The weirdest thing however was watching hunter after hunter waltz throughout the lobby and down the halls with their rifle in tow and garnished with blaze orange. Think with me just a second though………. Can you imagine if 6 months prior to that day a couple from, letʼs say, Hartford Connecticut decided they were going to be coming through Kentucky and would need to stay overnight. By chance, they booked this Days Inn on the same weekend of the opening day of rifle season. Now imagine the man getting up on a Saturday morning, walking down to the lobby in his fuzzy house shoes to get a newspaper and a cup of coffee, and happening upon every man and woman dressed in camo and with gun in hand. (I laugh as I write) That guy would run up to his room, lock the door, close the curtains, hide his wife, and order room service until all of the “barbarians” left. He would then get into his hybrid and drive just as fast as he could to a much safer place – maybe to downtown Chicago or Detroit.

The truth is, I appreciate those who to try to accommodate us during this time. I also appreciate those who tolerate us as well, in the true sense of the word. I just wished that others understood tolerance in other areas of living as well. In fact, Iʼm just about sick of somebody telling me, with a voice thatʼs barely broken puberty, that Iʼm intolerant! Now letʼs have a little classroom time together…….. Think about it. By definition, to tolerate something or someone means that I donʼt agree with that to which I am tolerating. (this seems so simple to me) I can still be friends with a person and not agree with whatever it is that I might not agree with. But toleration, again by definition, does not mean that I give up my beliefs and espouse theirs! And yet that is what most individuals and groups who cry out for tolerance want! I want to make a promise to everybody. I am willing to tolerate anyone but I am unwilling to give up my beliefs until you convince me that my beliefs are wrong. And if I donʼt like you, itʼs not because Iʼm intolerant. Itʼs probably because youʼre a jerk and I donʼt like jerks no matter what they believe. Now Iʼm going huntinʼ!

Gary Miller gary@outdoortruths.org

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RecipeMonth of the

MARINATED AND SMOKED WILD HOG Prep Time: 3–5 Hours Yields: 10–12 Servings

Shoulder Mounts Only by Andy Russell 662.509.2542 137 Clayton Road Ecru, Ms. 38841

Ingredients: 1 (6–8 pound) wild boar shoulder, rack or backstrap 1 cup Worcestershire sauce 1 cup soy sauce 2 tsps minced garlic 1 tsp dry mustard ¼ cup olive oil ½ cup red wine juice of 2 limes juice of 2 lemons 2 cups orange juice 1 tbsp cracked black pepper 1 tbsp chopped rosemary 1 tbsp chopped sage 1 tbsp chopped cilantro

Method: In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except boar. Cover and let rest 1–2 hours to allow flavors to marry. Place boar shoulder in a large pan and top with marinade, rubbing well into meat. Cover and refrigerate 4–6 hours. Remove meat from marinade, reserving marinade. Prepare a smoking pit or electric smoker to a temperature of 250°F–300°F or according to manufacturer’s directions, using Mesquite and Pecan woods. Smoke pork shoulder for 3–4 hours or until internal temperature reaches 165°F, basting every 30 minutes with reserved marinade. If using a rack or a backstrap, cook to an internal temperature of 135– 138°F for medium-rare, or to desired doneness. When done, the meat should pull away from the bone easily. Slice and serve boar with your favorite rice or bread dressing.

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Hill Country Outdoors