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HILLCOUNTRY

FREE

MISSISSIPPI

outdoors

DECEMBER 2013

JOHN 3:16

VOL. 6 NO. 73

Merry Christmas!

IN THIS ISSUE Rut Hunting Guide Extreme-Height Treestand Tactics Zero In On Bedding Areasfor Deer Whitetail Hunting Mistakes Secrets of Deer Hunting Guides 158 East Road • Ecru, MS 38841 hillcountry@ms.metrocast.net

Follow us on Facebook Hillcountry Outdoor Magazine/Dean Wells


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Editorial

Christmas Time Is Almost Here!

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Dean Wells Editor

Christmas time is almost here, and you can feel it. While delivering magazines this week, I noticed the parking lots were full, and coupon-holding mothers, stomped from their cars with glazed looks as they entered the next store. I could hear the cash registers beeping, and see credit cards swiping, as they hurried on to the next deal. I thought to myself, “I’m sure glad God did not make me a woman”. At times I feel sorry for the ladies, because they put their money, heart and soul into each present, only to see it unwrapped in a matter of seconds and tossed to the side, as the receiver reaches for another. Each year Christmas takes a huge toll on people’s pocket books and their emotions, and I can see why. It has gotten ridiculous. From time to time, I look back on some past Christmases, and very few presents do I remember. What I can remember, is the warm house and a real tree parked in the living room, with needles under it and a few presents. I don’t remember my folks loading thousands of dollars on a credit card and the need to make us feel all fuzzy by buying a bunch of gifts. I do remember the time they spent with us around the tree drinking hot chocolate, coffee, short cokes and eating snacks my grandma had fixed. Coconut Cakes, chocolate pies, cookies, candy canes, all kinds of nuts and fruits, all accompanied by lots of laughter. If you opened the refrigerator it was full, and in the bottom drawer laid the prize, a Christmas ham, raised, killed, butchered and cured from the hands of my granddaddy. Back then Christmas spirit didn’t come from a bottle, but from people’s hearts. I remember one Christmas, when I went to the tobacco shop and bought my grandpa and myself a new Christmas pipe with three different kinds of tobacco. Neither of us smoked, but we still smoked a pipe once a year, on Christmas Eve. The smell of cherry tobacco mixed with the smell of the cedar tree made aromas I will never forget. We reclined back in the chairs and puffed the pipes until our tongues were nearly blistered from the stems of the hot pipes. Fun we had, times I will never forget. I mentioned earlier in my article, that this a time of year that is often hard on some folks, for a multitude of reasons. Divorced parents who may not get to see their kids, and men and women who have lost there spouses or kids. We need to make a special effort to comfort these people in some form. Also, we need to remember that it may be us, someday, sitting alone at Christmas, and that, my friend, would be sad. So drop by and see some folks, cook up a deer tenderloin and some cathead biscuits and gravy, and sit down and eat it with them.You might be surprised how much better you feel. Above all, don’t forget the reason for the season...Jesus Christ. I don’t believe he ever meant for this time of year to be the circus it has become, and I think if we get back to some basics, it will help all of us feel better about the holidays and Christmas season. So, sit down somewhere and read the real Christmas story in the Bible and think about it. There is no perfect gift but Him. He gave His life for us all...what more could He give? That will make you happy. My Grandmother and Grandfather will not be here for anymore Christmases, but are waiting on all their family for the biggest and best Christmas ever. The ability to look forward takes hard discipline, but if you want the true joy of Christmas, that’s where you’ll find it. That is one gift Santa Claus, a big buck, nor the biggest pile of ducks, just can not give. Have a very “Merry Christmas”.

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Rut Hunting Guide

One of the constants of the rut is the fact that bucks will be looking for does. If you find the areas where the does concentrate, and hunt those areas carefully enough to keep from spooking the does, you will eventually get an opportunity at a buck. The rut is the one time each season when bucks leave their safe zones – the places where they know the curve of every branch and the smell of every turd. Suddenly they are in situations where they don’t always have the upper hand. Throw in a little testosterone and they are not only in unfamiliar settings but are moving more than usual. In other words, for a couple of weeks each season they actually become vulnerable. They may even make mistakes. This, of course, is why the rut is the most exciting time to be in the woods. Believe it or not, the rut also has a downside. When bucks are on the move looking for does they become extremely unpredictable. All the time you put in scouting for buck rub lines and deer scrape lines and licking branches and breeding hubs, and all that other neat textbook buck sign is of very little value when bucks are walking helter-skelter through the woods. Trying to hunt a buck by focusing on sign becomes a waste of time. This can be especially frustrating if you’re deer hunting one particular animal. How can you figure out where he’s going to be next when he doesn’t even know himself? It’s easy to be lured into making a common mistake. You see a big buck rub or a big deer scrape and right away you’re convinced that the big buck you saw back in August is the one that made it. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. The buck you are hunting may have been there all summer and early fall, but he could be miles away now. When they’re on the move like this they couldn’t care less about freshening “their” deer scrapes or using a buck rub line, so trying to pattern a buck during the peak of the rut complicates things needlessly. In fact, such an effort actually works against you because it puts you in tree stands that aren’t well located based on what the majority of bucks are actually doing. Unless you’re deer hunting in an area with a really low deer density (in the range of 5 to 10 deer per square mile) there are usually too many bucks around to determine who made what sign. And, even if it was your buck that made the sign, what makes you think that he’s still around? Up goes the tree stand, and down goes your success rate. The only thing holding such a strategy together is a thin strand of pure luck.

It Seems So Easy Many rut hunters never get past this stage because sometimes luck is enough. Take a beginner and a week of vacation during the peak of the rut and seven days later you can show a fellow posing for a grip and grin photo. When you look at how many novices take trophy bucks during the rut it would seem on the surface that any plan is just as good as the next. A deer hunter conducted so many big buck interviews in the early 90’s in which beginning deer hunters took world-class bucks that he started to get caught up in that thinking himself. It took a few washout seasons before he realized that it only works if you’re a beginner. To be consistently successful during the rut, you have to think about your deer hunting strategy based on a long-term approach. You are rewarded for hunting smart – maybe not every day of the season - but your consistency year-after-year will definitely improve. There really aren’t very many aspects of buck behavior that you can count on during the rut, so you need to take maximum advantage of the few that do exist. Granted, none of this is rocket science, but sometimes simplicity is at the heart of genius. Page 4

One of the constants of the rut is the fact that bucks will be looking for does. If you find the areas where the does concentrate, and hunt those areas carefully enough to keep from spooking the does, you will eventually get an opportunity at a buck.

Ok, enough deer hunting philosophy. It’s time to get down to the business of mapping out a simple rut hunting strategy that you can trust. Since we’ve already kicked sand in the faces of deer hunters who try to focus on sign during the rut, we’d better offer a worthy alternative. Again, we can’t count on absolutes because bucks are unpredictable and roaming outside their normal core areas. Instead, we have to focus on tendencies. This is the best possible way to play the odds. There are two tendencies that almost all bucks share during the rut. Knowing what they are and how to use that information when setting tree stands is at the heart of an organized rut hunting game plan. Aerial photos will show you cover related funnels and travel routes, such as this inside corner, where you can expect to pick off a buck that is cruising during the rut.

Two Tendencies Of Rutting Bucks Bucks Look For Does

Don’t take a tree stand unless there’s a strong reason that a buck out looking for a doe would come past. Common sense is all you need to find these places. It is a simple mindset that cuts through all the noise and confusion associated with the rut. Would a buck looking for a doe come past here or not? It is a simple question you should ask yourself each time you are tempted to put up a tree stand. You’ll be surprised by how quickly you can eliminate most of your deer hunting area. Here are a few examples. Suppose you’re looking at a big deer scrape located in a ravine near a bedding ridge. Will a buck looking for does come past this spot? Not necessarily - in fact, probably not. They don’t visit their deer scrapes with any kind of regularity when does are close to breeding or when they are actually breeding – at least not the mature bucks. You can eliminate almost all deer scrape hunting (except well before does are ready to breed) by applying this (Cont. on pg. 5) simple condition.


Rut Hunting Guide

(Cont. from pg. 4)

Now for a couple of better choices: tree stands located between two bedding areas used by does are good locations. Tree stands located near areas where does feed will be productive in the evenings. And tree stands located near doe bedding areas themselves will pay off in the mornings. If you were trying to find a doe, where would you go and how would you get there? That’s where you need to hunt.

In the mornings, this deer hunter definitely favor doe bedding areas. Bucks will be active in these areas for several hours each morning as they look for does. The action continues until the temperature starts to warm up – usually late in the morning. The downside of hunting bedding areas is the increased likelihood that you will educate too many does and ruin your hunting area. If the does leave, the bucks will quickly stop coming too.

Bucks Keep A Low Profile

Only hunt those bedding areas that set up perfectly. You want to be able to hunt the downwind fringe in a location where you can take advantage of ditches or draws to access the tree stand from the direction opposite the primary feeding area. It’s important that you be able to get in and out without being detected. As you can see, this becomes a bit of a delicate operation and not all bedding areas set up properly. You may have to walk away from a few because most deer hunting properties aren’t so big that you can afford to spook deer out of their bedding areas.

Once you know the buck’s Point A and Pont B, you need to consider how he chooses his path as he travels between. Two factors have the most influence: the buck’s desire to keep a low profile and his desire to take the path of least resistance. When hunting pressure isn’t heavy a buck will try to accomplish both of these goals every time he sets foot from his bed. (Where hunting pressure is heavy he most often adjusts by simply staying in his bed until after dark.) Terrain and cover often dictate these low profile low effort travel routes. Terrain-related travel routes include saddles, swales in open fields, shallow water creek crossings and draws leading out of heavy timber into a feeding area. One of some deer hunters favorite setups occurs when a deep erosion ditch cuts into a timbered slope. Typically these ditches are found in draws between two ridges. Since does love to bed on ridges, you’ve got your Point A and Point B. Bucks traveling between these bedding areas aren’t likely to cross the steepest or deepest portions of the ditch, but they will go around it. Another example is a creek crossing in a valley between two bedding ridges. When the wind is right these are also great terrain-related funnels. Now you’ve got your tree stand location. There may not be a deer scrape within a mile, but either of these is a strong setup during the rut – especially during morning hunts when bucks are most actively cruising through bedding areas. Cover also dictates how bucks move. Two of one deer hunter’s largest bucks have come from a tree stand located in a narrow finger of timber and brush that bucks use like a highway when crossing otherwise open country. Cover-related travel routes aren’t always the classic hourglass bottlenecks that you read so much about. They can also include break lines where open cover and thick cover meet and brushy fence lines spanning open fields. Other great spots include inside corners (where an open field makes a corner back in the timber) and fingers of cover pointing at each other from opposing sides of an open ridge top.

Putting It Together

The rut technically has three phases and starts well before the bucks first start chasing does. But this article deals primarily with the most easily identified of all rut phases: the hectic time we know as the peak of the rut. When you see bucks first start to aggressively chase does you know it has begun. This unpredictable portion of the season will last until the majority of the does are bred. Early in this phase you’ll often see bucks hounding does until the doe stops to urinate. The buck will smell the spot on the ground. Depending on what he smells he will either drift off in another direction looking for a better candidate (if she is far from estrous) or he will continue to hound her. Of course, when does start to come into estrous full scale the chasing and random buck movement becomes even more pronounced. One more time: when you start to see bucks chasing, it’s time to start focusing your deer hunting strategies on the does.

Morning Strategies

One deer hunter spends nearly every morning during the rut hunting the edge of doe bedding areas. He’ll have as many as five different tree stands in as many different bedding areas that allow him to spread out his pressure. This strategy paid off again during the 1999 season. Despite record warm temperatures, he was able to get within bow range of a dandy eight-pointer. He was just moseying through looking for does and when he grunted at him with his mouth. He was actually trying to stop him for the shot but when he froze and looked his way there was too much brush to permit the 30-yard shot. Believe it or not, he actually turned and began walking my way! Normally, he would have had poor success trying to grunt call to animals that are close. Usually it just scares them, but maybe he thought the sound had come from the other side of the ridge. He walked right past his tree at only 10 yards.

Bucks tend to move randomly through a bedding area, but there are a few things you can look for to concentrate them. The ridge top spot where a deer hunter took a the buck had a narrow draw that he used to walk right to the base of the tree. The draw also served to slightly concentrate deer toward the top of the ridge. Sometimes it just takes time and observation to find where the majority of the deer move. You can anticipate these places by focusing on narrow sections on a ridge top (deer bed heavily on ridges) where cruising bucks will be more concentrated. If you can’t find a foolproof setup near a bedding area, there is a second strategy that also produces great action. As mentioned previously, tree stands found between two bedding areas will receive plenty of buck traffic, and they are a lot easier to get to and from without spooking deer. Bucks tend to move randomly between bedding areas, so focus on any natural travel funnels created by terrain and cover – anything that will bump them your way. Even though you may not find much buck sign, trust these tree stand locations because they are some of the best during the rut.

Evening Strategies

When bucks are chasing does there’s no better afternoon tree stand location than one found near a feeding area used heavily by does. As the rut goes on, however, constant harassment from every buck in the area drives does undercover. Eventually the action around the feeding areas will go down as a result. But, usually you have about a week before this happens. Try to set up back in the cover a short distance from the edge in a location that allows you to cover three travel patterns. Ideally, you want to be able to shoot to at least one primary trail leading into the feeding area as well as travel routes found on both the inside and the outside edge of the cover. Bucks like to cut trails leading in and out of feeding areas to determine if a hot doe has passed, making it worth your while to find a tree stand that also covers these perpendicular travel patterns. Usually, the “inside trail” will be about 30 yards from the edge of the timber. The “outside trail” will be little less defined but fairly close to the cover on the field side. Bucks are less likely to use the outside trail, so if you can’t find a spot where you can shoot to all three from one stand, focus on the two trails found inside the cover. Small feeding areas are better than big ones because the activity will be concentrated. One deer hunter has sat on 40-acre bean fields and watched bucks chasing does a quarter of a mile away, but that did him little good. This same deer hunter has also sat on one-acre clover patches nestled back in the timber.

Everything Was Right In Your Pocket

If you’ve found yourself confused about the best way to deer hunt the unpredictable rut, you may be too focused on buck sign. Forget about trying to piece together complex patterns from sign made by a buck that could now be miles away. Keep things simple. Stick with tree stands that cover the most basic tendencies that all bucks share and your rut strategies will suddenly become a lot clearer, a lot easier to trust and a lot more productive.

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The Week Before Christmas Twas the week before Christmas and all thru the House Some of my most memorable winter outdoor experiences come from the lake. As a young adult I spent more time fishing than hunting. And as I have mentioned before, there was no boat, just hip boots. It was cold only if the fish were not biting. Those days were about persevering; persevering through the weather and through the lull of inactivity until the fish decided to feed. The gulls always gave away where the fish were hiding. If they began to fly above a certain area, you knew the minnows were being pushed to the top by feeding fish that were below them and that would be the best time and place to cast your bait. There were many days we caught more than our share and a few that we came home empty-handed. The days when the gulls never flew, only gave us hope for the next day if we could just persevere.

I dreamed about hunting: my wife thought me a Louse.

When I think of persevering I think of emotionless persistence. I think of someone who keeps going through all kinds of circumstances because he or she knows the preferred outcome is at the end of the way. He does not keep going because he feels like it or because the conditions are always favorable but because he knows that he is on the right path and the reward is worth his resolute effort. What he does not know however, is the time it may take for his perseverance to turn into his prize.

The alarm went off in the morning quite Early,

Some of you have been persevering for a long time. You have been chasing a goal or dream that you are sure is just around the corner. Right now however you are doubting that it will ever be realized. You are tired from the work and the wait. You perhaps look at your advancing age or even those times in the past that you have failed. All of these push back against your perseverance. What do you do? First of all, check the source of your dream. Make sure that it is lined up with God’s purpose for your life. God is the designer of dreams. He has made you to be fulfilled in life but sometimes our dreams must be gently put back on His course. Secondly, check your motives. Why do you want to accomplish your goal? Is it for selfish reasons or purposes only? Is it for your own edification? The right motive is…. so that others may see God through your accomplishments and so that you may be able to spread the good news of God. Lastly, realize that many times the greater the purpose the longer the preparation.

For my bolt action rifle to put Down on the Ground.

Friend, when your dreams are aligned with God’s purpose and your motive is to give God the glory, He will not only give you the strength to keep going, but also His peace that will carry you through even the most difficult times.

by Gary Miller gary@outdoortruths.org

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The guns were stacked by the pickup with Care Awaiting the sunrise that soon would be There. She in her kerchief and I in my Cap -Camo of courseClimbed into our bunk for a long winter’s Nap We slept thru the night in our warm, toasty Bed While visions of venison danced in my Head.

Making my poor wife a little bit Surly. Then, leaving the house with my gun in my Hand, I drove happily away to my trusty Deer Stand. There alertly I sought that swift patch of Brown I stared into the gloom, and I heard a Buck Snort The gun came to bear, but I held up Short. For Next to the Trophy was The Red Dressed Old Schmuck. I knew in an instant -I was crap out of Luck. Hunter harassment? I’d never make it Stick: The defendant would be good ol’ St. Nick! My wife was furious: “Do you think me Obtuse?” Do you think I’ll believe that far-fetched Excuse? Why don’t you admit it you miserable man? After two weeks of planning, you fell asleep in your Stand!”


Joey Tarrant (left) and Dickson Simmons (right) after a great in the field hunting pheasants.

PJ’s

Across from Wren Flea Market Highway 278 • Wren, MS

•Deli Sandwiches •Fuel •Ice Open early for breakfast.

Hunter & Fishermanʼs One Stop Store Just under bypass

Praters

GROCERY • FOOD Highway 341 • Pontotoc, MS Open 5 a.m. Monday - Saturday

• FUEL • ICE


Extreme-Height Tree Stand Tactics Want more and better opportunities at trophy whitetails?

Get Higher!

By P.J. Reilly

One more tree to clear and he’s mine, I told myself as a magnificent 10-pointer approached to within 20 yards of my tree stand. When the buck stuck his head out from behind a maple sapling, I felt a tingle on the back of my neck. The swirling wind had reversed direction, and it blew my scent right to the deer. Like a shot, the buck’s head was up and his coal-black eyes glared at me. He tipped his head back so that his polished rack nearly scratched his rump, and his upper lip curled toward his nose. After trapping my scent in his nostrils, the buck wheeled, waved his white flag and headed down the ridge before I even got the chance to draw my bow. “How high was your stand?” a buddy asked me the next day when I told him about my misfortune. “About 12 feet,” I replied. “You should have climbed higher,” he said. “Climb up at least 25 feet and they’ll never wind you.” That’s how I was introduced many years ago to “extreme heights” bowhunting, one of my most consistently effective bowhunting strategies.

EVERYBODY GET HIGH!

With the booming popularity of bowhunting from tree stands, deer are learning to watch for danger from above. Even so, most of the archers I know seldom place their stands above 15 feet, but I like to add another 10 to 15 feet in order to beat a deer’s keen senses of smell and sight. By climbing to 25 feet and higher, the bowhunter is getting up high enough that no matter which way the wind is blowing, his scent will likely never reach a deer’s nose. That extra height also places the hunter above a deer’s normal line of sight.

WHY HIGHER WORKS BETTER

The first deer I bagged with a bow while hunting at extreme heights was a small button buck that caught me daydreaming on a warm October afternoon. I never saw the deer until it was standing 15 yards from my tree. The season was winding down, so I decided to take the buck and put some meat in the freezer. As the deer fed on acorns within spitting distance of my perch 30 feet off the ground, I stood up, grabbed my bow off a hook that was fastened to the tree, drew back and released an errant shot that skidded into the leaves under the buck’s belly. The deer kicked up its legs and hopped about 10 yards away. Not knowing where the danger came from, the buck froze and nervously scanned the woods. I nocked a second arrow, drew back, released and scored a perfect hit. There’s no way all that movement would have gone undetected, even by a yearling deer, had my climbing stand been placed 12 to 15 feet off the ground.

GETTING HIGH . . . SAFELY!

Standing on a 2×2 platform 30 feet in the air takes some trustworthy equipment . . . and some getting used to. Regardless of the height at which you’re hunting, your safety is your first responsibility. Always follow the stand manufacturer’s guidelines for safe operation of your tree stand, and never hunt out of a tree without a serviceable and properly worn safety harness or belt. For example, I always wear a full body harness that looks like something a parachute jumper would wear. It has a belt that goes around my waist, straps that go over both shoulders and cross each other in the back, and straps that wrap Page 8

around each of my thighs. A tether attached to the back of the harness hooks to a rope that’s secured to the tree. If I were to fall while wearing this harness, I would simply hang, head up, with my weight evenly distributed throughout the harness. While belts that simply wrap around your waist and are then tethered to the tree are better than nothing, they can cut off your airflow if you fall out of your stand. If you choose to wear a waist belt, stay away from the kind that cinch tight when you pull on them. These will act like a noose if you fall.

CHOOSING A STAND

For mobility, a good climbing stand is hard to beat. Choose one that’s light, sturdy and has a sizable platform – 20 inches wide by 35 inches long suits me. For stability, I like a climber that features a seat that folds up from the platform and locks against the tree. These stands usually include a rope or strap attached to the seat that wraps around the tree and can be cinched tight to prevent slipping. For maximum safety while scaling a tree with a climbing stand, wear your safety harness or belt on the way up and down. It takes a little extra time to slide the belt up and down the tree as you go, but the safety benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Not all of our favorite deer woods are filled with the telephone-pole candidates needed when using a climbing stand. Hang-on stands allow you to hunt from trees that are rife with branches. They also give you a perch that you can leave in the woods throughout the season (assuming that’s legal in your state). Use a hanging stand that fastens to a tree with a webbed nylon strap. They cinch tighter than those that employ chains. And the tighter you can fasten that stand, the less it’ll move. When you’re 30 feet up, you don’t want to stand on a wobbly platform. The safest way to climb high to hang one of these stands is to use a strap-on climbing ladder. Many tree stand manufacturers today market these ladders. I haven’t seen any that are 30 feet long, though, so you’ll probably have to use some strap-on steps as well. Where it’s legal, you can also screw individual steps into a tree to get you up to your stand. (Be sure to check your state’s hunting rules to see if it’s legal to use screw-in steps before you take them into the woods. In many states, they’re allowed on private property with permission from the landowner, but not on public hunting grounds.) Whether you use a climbing stand or a hang-on stand, be sure to place your stand in the fattest tree possible. If a breeze kicks up during your hunt, a fat tree will sway far less than a skinny tree. When you’re 30 feet up, you want solid, Cont. on pg. 9 stable footing, and saplings just don’t get it!


Extreme-Height Tree Stand Tactics (Cont. from pg. 8) DON’T FORGET THE ROPE

You’ll need a generous amount of rope to haul your bow and arrows up to your stand. Thirty feet of rope can be pretty bulky, so it’s best to find a material that’s thin but strong. Parachute cord is perfect. It has a small diameter but it doesn’t get tangled as easily as cotton string. You can find parachute cord in most places that sell a variety of r opes and cords. My rope is 35 feet long with knots tied in it to mark off 25 and 30 feet. This system helps me gauge exactly how high I’ve climbed. In my daypack, I also carry a limb saw to clear any obstructing branches within reach once I’m situated – with my safety harness on, of course. The balance of my gear includes small hooks for hanging my bow, binoculars, a grunt tube, a flashlight, a knife, a deer drag, cover scents and lures, a water bottle and a pen for filling out my tag.

GETTING THE RANGE

Now that you’re seated in your stand waiting for a deer to show, it’s time to do some range estimation. Looking down at the ground from 25 feet up, objects seem farther away than they really are. Remember, the yardage you’re interested in is measured on a level plane from the base of the tree to the deer. To help me figure out that distance before a deer shows up, I like to look straight out in front of me and find trees that are about 20, 30 and 40 yards away. When a deer walks near those trees, I have a reference point to fine-tune my range estimation. Or you can carry a laser range-finder. These fancy gadgets will tell you exactly how far away a deer is. Even if you have a range-finder, it’s best to determine how far away certain landmarks are before any deer show up, because you might not have time to use the range-finder on the deer. Once you’ve picked your reference points, you have something else to consider: Extreme-height bowhunters have to account for the downward angle at which they shoot. When you’re shooting from an elevated stand, expect your arrows to hit targets higher at known distances than if you were shooting those same targets from the ground. Generally, I’ll subtract five yards from my range estimations to account for the steep angle. For example, if a deer is standing 20 yards away, I’ll hold my 20-yard sight pin low, as if I were shooting a target that’s 15 yards out. Practice will teach you what works for you and your equipment. To hit the vital heart-lung area on a deer when shooting from extreme heights, think about where the arrow will exit the deer rather than where it enters. We all know the heart-lung area is right behind a deer’s shoulder. If you shoot a deer there while standing on the ground, the arrow will likely pass through both lungs or the heart, a perfect shot. But if you were 30 feet up in your stand and shot a deer in the same spot as you would while standing on the ground, your arrow would penetrate only a sliver of the deer’s body cavity and exit straight into the ground. To score a deadly hit from extreme heights, you have to rotate your aiming point up toward the deer’s spine. A hit there will send the arrow through the heart of the deer’s body cavity. That’s where you want it. One of my favorite archery shots, which is offered quite frequently when you’re hunting from extreme heights, is straight down. There’s virtually no way a buck will catch you drawing your bow if he’s standing directly beneath your stand. Whitetail experts say deer can see 270 degrees around them. Their blind spot is a small cone that extends from directly overhead to straight down the center of their backs. I like the vertical shot because it’s the only responsible shot that offers the spine as a target. If you can hit the spine, tracking the deer won’t be a problem. And if you don’t hit the spine, you’ll likely pierce the heart, one lung or the liver. All of these are lethal. At such close range, your arrow is likely to pass completely through the deer, leaving the exit hole on the deer’s underside. The blood from such a hit will drain out the hole and spill directly on the ground. Deer that are hit with conventional broadside shots hold some blood inside the chest cavity, and the hair often stems the outside blood flow before it drips to the ground.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Practicing the vertical shot is essential. Until you’ve tried it, you can’t imagine how contorted your body is when you aim a bow straight down. Take some time to practice in the woods, from your stand, with a 3-D deer target before the season to learn this shot. And when you’re practicing that shot, think about the situation you’re preparing for. When you hunted 12 to 15 feet off the ground, how many times did a deer pass directly beneath your stand, one to three yards away from the tree you were perched in? While bowhunting from extreme heights, I’ve often had deer pass this close to me, and the closer I can get to my target the better I feel my chances are of filling my tag.

WHAT ABOUT SCENT?

Just because you’re above a deer’s normal line of sight and smell doesn’t mean you can do a jig in your stand while smelling like a defensive lineman at the end of a football game. You still have to try to be as scent-free as possible and move as slowly and deliberately as you can. Extreme-heights bowhunting gives you an extra edge over a deer’s senses, but it doesn’t eliminate them. For example, during the 2001 archery deer season, bowhunting from an extreme height was the main reason I managed to place my tag on a fat 5-point buck. The end of the season was three days away, and I had already spent many, many hours in my stand without success. Quite frankly, the hunting was getting boring. I was in my stand for about four hours on this mildly cool morning, and I hadn’t seen a tail. “That’s it,” I said to myself. “I’ve had enough. I’m going home and I’m just going to wait for gun season before I try again.” With that, I grabbed my bow off its hook and tied my rope to the top limb. I lowered the bow to the ground and then removed my trigger release from my wrist and my arm guard from my forearm. I had just turned around in my stand and faced the tree to prepare for my descent when I heard a shotgun blast and some beagles baying across the road. In my mind, the thought Hey, maybe they’ll scare a deer my way was still in the processing phase when I spied movement at the edge of the woods about 80 yards downhill from me. When the deer stepped from behind some brush, I immediately saw a rack. There was only one way I was going to get a crack at this buck, and I had to act fast. I turned around, sat down and hauled up my bow as fast as I could. I knew there was a chance the buck might see the bow hurtling upward, but I had no choice. When I got the bow in my hand, I turned back around to see what the buck was doing. He was walking at a steady pace, and he was coming straight toward me. I hurriedly untied my rope, nocked an arrow and laid the bow across my lap. With my heart racing a mile a minute, I fumbled around in my pocket, trying to get hold of my release. I finally grabbed it, pulled it out and slapped it on my wrist. The buck was now 30 yards out and closing fast. There was no time to strap on my arm guard, so I just stood up and turned to my right to face the buck. There was nothing but open wood s between the deer and me. There’s no doubt in my mind the buck would have As it was, the buck had no idea I was around, and he walked to within five paces of my tree, where he stopped to check his back trail. I drew back my bow, centered my pin on the buck’s spine and squeezed the trigger. The buck fell in his tracks. Today, that buck’s rack sits on my wall next to several others that serve as shining examples of the rewards of extreme-heights bowhunting. Now it’s your turn to give extreme-heights bowhunting a try!

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Time to Zero in on Bedding Areas

It’s no secret that positioning yourself between deer bedding and feeding areas is the ticket to success in the early bow season. Once the rut kicks in and gun season applies pressure on the herd, many hunters find success by then relocating to narrow travel or escape routes that connect large blocks of cover. But what’s the best place to hunt during the transition period in between? During this time of year, when deer could be focused on feeding or breeding depending on the conditions, I’ve found that closing the gap on bedding areas offers a versatile setup that takes advantage of either scenario. This doesn’t mean abandoning the feeding routes that deer have been using, it means getting aggressive and relocating from the “feeding end” of the route to the “bedding end.” A case in point about the versatility of such a setup is a particular stand location that has become my favorite spot to hunt. The stand sits just 35 yards south of a well-used bedding thicket, and it also happens to be where I harvested my largest buck to date (no, that’s not the only reason it’s my favorite). That buck was taken one weekend a few years back, and the deer in question was contently nibbling acorns while making a leisurely trek to neighbor’s field. There were no pre-rut theatrics, he was just interested in dinner, and I was fortunate enough catch him on his regular feeding route. Likewise, that same position has offered December opportunities at bucks that were clearly obsessed with breeding. Lonely bucks in the pre-rut days will often wander in daylight hours from place to place looking for does, and popular bedding spots are always on their list of destinations to search. Many times I’ve watched from that stand as bucks swung around the downwind edge of the thicket for a quick scent check and then barged into the brush to scatter does. Hunting tight against bedding areas during this time of year is a good game plan, but it can also be tricky. It’s easy to scare or pressure the deer you’re after as you access the stand, so stealth is critical for it to work properly. It’s important to watch the wind regardless of where you’re hunting, but this is particularly true when you’re close to their daytime sanctuary. As much as I love to hunt that favorite spot I mentioned, I’ll avoid it until I can hunt there with the wind in my face. If the breeze will carry from your direction toward the bedding area at any time during your hunt - which includes your travel to the stand - the odds of success will drop dramatically. Remember, the bucks are either in there already or will scent check the spot from the downwind side, so straight downwind is where you need to be. Noise is also a big concern in these positions, and I like to use hang-on or ladder stands for these applications rather than using a climbing stand. Anything that clinks, clanks, or squeaks unnaturally is a problem when the deer you’re after could be laying just a few dozen yards away, so do everything possible to sound like nothing more than a squirrel when you walk and then climb to your perch in silence. Pre-rut days will transition to the peak of the rut, hunting pressure will change the game, and mid-season may bring a shift in preferred food sources. But until then, holding tight to current feeding routes while closing in on bedding areas will offer legitimate chances at both does and bucks.

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To Kill Mature Bucks, Go Somewhere Else

As hunters, we make all kinds of judgement errors in choosing where to hunt: Some of us think seeing a long way equates to seeing more deer (sometimes it does, but not always). Some of us think food plots are the best place to be (sometimes they are, but not always). Some of us think a productive stand is bound to be just as productive tomorrow. This is just plain wrong, in my opinion. Consistently successful hunters agree: The chances of seeing a mature buck at a given stand decrease exponentially each time you hunt there without giving the site a lengthy rest. And some of us look at cutovers, thickets, swamps or thorns and turn the other direction, toward that comfortable condo stand at the end of a four-wheeler trail.

I had an interesting phone conversation with deer researcher Dr. Mark Conner Mark, has led a number of recent groundbreaking studies of buck movements and home-range characteristics using GPS tracking collars placed on deer. We were talking about “sanctuaries,” and Mark told me about two distinct areas on his study site that have developed into safe zones with no hunting pressure, and how these two areas ended up being the core areas for several of the adult bucks being tracked.

The main mistake is in thinking we know what kind of landscape mature bucks prefer. Mainly, mature bucks prefer to be where we aren’t. They do have their weaknesses, and if it wasn’t for the rut, significantly fewer hunters would ever see adult bucks; but to consistently increase your chances of seeing them, identify your favorite stand – and go somewhere else.

These sanctuaries weren’t created on purpose, Mark said. Hunting guides tried to place guests in or near these areas because cover is heavy and they knew mature bucks frequented these zones. But the guests often objected. They tended to want to be somewhere they could see a long way, so they could “see more deer.” Stuck in a stand in heavy cover, they were unhappy. So, the guides altogether quit using these areas as stand sites, which further enhanced the sanctuary effect. The irony here, of course, is that hunters equated seeing farther with seeing more deer, including mature bucks. Yet, as the researchers learned, these hunters stood a far greater chance of actually encountering a mature buck in the thicket, where they couldn’t see very far. This brought to mind related stories that always crop up whenever I’m thinking about hunting strategy and mature bucks. Several years ago I interviewed a teen-aged hunter who had killed an outstanding buck. His story also had an ironic twist. Hunting as a guest of his dad’s club, the teenager had his heart set on a particular stand. When he rose before dawn the next morning, he hurried to the sign-in board to put a pin on the map, reserving the stand he wanted. But a club member appeared and pulled rank, removing the boy’s “guest” pin and taking the stand for himself, as the rules allowed. The boy’s father couldn’t do anything about it, and there were no other “good” stands available. In frustration, the boy picked a random spot on the map, just outside of camp, and jabbed his pin into the board. Then he grabbed his climbing stand and rifle, straggled off into the dark into a tangled cutover bordering camp, and climbed the first large tree he came to. Shortly after sunup, a monstrous buck rose miraculously out of the cutover where it had been bedding, only a stone’s throw outside camp. Ah, sweet justice. You’ve heard stories like this, I’m sure. The big bucks that get killed the first time a new stand is hunted. The hunter who gets lost and kills the best buck of his career. Or the “lucky” hunter who consistently kills mature bucks but doesn’t fit in with his hunting peers because he doesn’t hunt like they do. The common thread is hunters who think they know the best places to hunt, and they’re wrong. Either they choose sites that aren’t as good as they think they are, or they turn the best places into the worst places by hunting them – over and over again.

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Whitetail Hunting Mistakes: And How To Avoid Making Them The white-tail deer rut is the most talked about aspect of hunting, yet may be the most misunderstood. The rut can be broken down into three distinct phases: the pre-rut, peak of the rut and the post-rut. Let’s start with deer activity as it leads into the pre-rut.

Bucks spend their summers in bachelor groups – 3 or 4 or more bucks spending most of their time together. These bachelor groups can be seen late in summer evenings feeding together. As autumn nears and the velvet peels from the bucks’ antlers, hormone levels in each buck begin to rise and the bucks begin to tolerate each other less and less. This is when the bucks begin sparring with each other and a hierarchy is established. The bucks spread out and establish their own home turf. Mistake No. 1: Leaving the rattlebag or rattling antlers at home during the early season. “What most hunters don’t realize is that rattling is very effective in the early season, because bucks are doing a lot of sparring at this time,” said Chuck Tiranno, an Ultimate Hunting Team member of the Knight & Hale Game Calls pro staff. This is not the time to mimic a violent battle between two 140-class bucks, but instead lightly tickle the antlers to create an image of two bucks testing each other. The breaking up of bachelor groups signals the approaching pre-rut. During the pre-rut, does are not ready to be bred, but bucks will keep tabs on them. Bucks go about their business of making scrapes, rubs, feeding and occasionally checking out the does. When the bucks disperse from bachelor groups, each usually stakes out a territory to call home. Each buck will create a series of rubs, or a rubline, on trees surrounding the perimeter of its home turf. Mistake No. 2: Hunting a perimeter rubline for more than a day or two. “If you find a fresh rub, look around to see if you see more through the woods,” Tiranno said. “If you see more and they appear to be in a line, often this is the buck’s perimeter and not his bedroom. A cluster of rubs, and not a line, is indicative of the center of a buck’s home turf.” Likewise, there will often be a series of scrapes along this perimeter rubline. “The scrapes – called secondary scrapes – will be fairly small and don’t feature a licking branch. Primary scrapes always have a licking branch, an overhanging limb that the bucks rub their heads on, and primary scrapes are where you want to be.” Mistake No. 3: Not hunting a primary scrape. Primary scrapes are visited by bucks of all ages. Look for a larger-than-average scrape that features a licking branch. If it appears fresh, with few leaves over the soil and a pungent musky odor, it’s a hot spot. “When hunting a primary scrape, freshen the scrape with some buck or doe urine, and be sure to bring a deer call. Primary scrapes are like a website’s message board. All kinds of deer troll by and check to see whose been by, and leave a message or two of their own.” As the pre-rut continues, bucks will pay more and more attention to the does and will begin the chasing stage. The does still are not ready to be bred, but the bucks will begin trailing them sometimes to the point of chasing. Key to this buck activity is another key whitetail hunter word, “estrous.” “The word ‘estrous’ means that an animal will stand for mating and not run away,” Tiranno said. “So the peak of the rut is when most of the does are standing where you hunt.” As the peak of the rut nears, bucks will spend their time near does, keeping constant tabs on their receptivity. At the peak, a buck and a doe will travel and bed together for a day or so, then the buck will move on to find another receptive doe. Mistake No. 4: Hunting a buck’s home range during the peak of the rut. “Hunting a buck’s bedroom during the peak of the rut a hit or miss situation,” said Tiranno. “A buck may not return to his home range for several days. It’s old advice but it rings true: hunt the does during the peak of the rut to find the bucks.” Page 12

Hunting big bucks during the peak of the rut features an air of unpredictability. When a doe is receptive to a buck, the two will remain together for eight to 24 hours, then the buck is off to find another doe. This makes funnels and “shortcuts” important hunting location. Shortcuts are void areas such as an open pasture between two patches of doe-rich woods or cover. Old country cemeteries are classic shortcuts. Whereas a buck normally would use a drainage or thin line of timber to travel from one patch of cover to another, at the peak of the rut that same buck may cut straight through the short cut. Mistake No. 5: Not utilizing calls, scents and decoys during the peak of the rut. The time just prior to, during and just after the does are standing for bucks in your area – a span of about 10 days to two weeks – is when hunters should use all of the tools the hunting industry has provided to draw in mature bucks. These tools can work anytime during the season, but mature bucks may be more receptive during the peak of the rut. Here are a couple of considerations concerning using these tools. “Anytime you use a deer call, you’re positioning the deer downwind of you, so you’d better be as scent-free as possible. And, if you’re not using scent in combination with calling, you’re going to cut your chances of getting that buck,” Tiranno said. . “When you call, the buck usually heads downwind to scent check. If you don’t have some buck urine or Tarsal Gland out, your calling won’t be as effective.” Mistake No. 6: Putting away the deer hunting gear after the peak of the rut. Bucks return to their home territories and recuperate after the physically demanding peak of the rut. Feeding is important during the post-rut, as is resting in a secluded area unaffected by hunting pressure. A mature buck may move its home range if hunting pressure during the peak of the rut has burned out its original home, which happens often on public land or other areas with heavy hunting pressure. However, studies have shown that bucks often don’t move to the next county, but will stay in smaller secluded spots near where they were lived before the craziness of the rut. Mistake No. 7: Not using peak-of-the-rut techniques during the second estrous cycle. Most does were bred during the peak of the rut, but the bucks still maintain some contact. About a month after the peak of the rut, does that weren’t bred come back into estrous, causing a smaller, less activity charged rut peak. Use the same tools and tactics used during the peak of the rut to take a mature buck during late post-rut. Mistake No. 8: Watching football during extreme cold. While the suggestion of shunning the race for the National Championship seems absurd to many, horrible weather during the late season may be the very best time to score a monster whitetail. Chris Parrish, better known as the guy whose won two Grand National and two World Championship turkey-calling contests, lives for single-digit-temperature deer hunts. “You don’t have to be out there before dawn, freezing your tail off,” Parrish said. “Deer will feed every four hours or so during super-frigid temperatures, and that means that sometime during the day they will have to feed. Wait until 11 a.m. or so and hunt a secluded food source for several hours during midday.” He’s not suggesting heading out in a snowstorm, but just after the precipitation ends, mature bucks will head to the food.


Secrets Of Deer Hunting Guides

DU TV host wins World Championship Goose Calling Contest

For some, deer hunting isn’t just an annual event, it’s their livelihood. When they talk, you’d do well to pay attention. A professional deer-hunting guide earns his living by finding bucks for his clients every season. These avid woodsmen have spent their lifetimes studying the habits and haunts of deer. They experience consistent success because they know more and hunt more than the average outdoorsman. True masters of the sport of deer hunting, deer-hunting guides have developed common-sense tactics that will produce bucks for you anywhere you live. BOB WALKER hails from the Black Belt area around Livingston, Alabama, and has hunted deer all his life. Walker guides at Bent Creek Lodge near Jachin, Alabama, but employs tactics completely different from others to find and take trophy bucks. “Watch the weather radar on television,” Bob Walker says. “If you know a rainstorm is coming through your area by watching the TV weather radar map, you usually can see how intense the storm is, how fast it is moving and when it should pass out of the region you’re hunting. Go to the woods in the rain about an hour before the storm should leave your area. Since deer understand about when the rain will stop, they will slip out of thick-cover sections the very instant the rain slacks off or stops. By stalking down edges of thick cover sites, you often will see and be able to take a trophy buck that you may not see any other time of the year.” “On dry days I wear either hip waders or lightweight chest waders and stalk creeks, ditches, beaver ponds and flooded timber,” Walker said. “By moving through water on dry days, you can look for deer instead of watching your feet to keep from making any sounds. If I can find a shallow creek running through a thick-cover region, I may slip up on the deer in the bed. The banks of creeks and ditches hide me from the deer I am trying to see. If I spot a buck well out in front of me, I can get low in a creek or a ditch and move quickly to a spot where I can take a shot at the buck. When I move through water, I watch behind myself as well as out in front. Often, I’ll see just as many deer behind me as I do in front of me. I’ve found that wading water during dry weather conditions is the best way to spot the most bucks and get a shot at the ones I see.” “I use rattling antlers all year long,” Walker explains. “As soon as bucks have hard antlers, they begin to spar. Some of this sparring is nothing more than pushing and shoving each other. Later in the year, bucks clash antlers to establish dominance. During the rut, a buck often will fight the intruders in his territory and the challengers for his right to breed a particular doe. On any given day on the 20,000 acres I hunt, two bucks on that property somewhere will clash antlers. I believe the primary reason bucks come to rattling antlers is because of curiosity. I’ve learned I can rattle bucks in all year long.”

MEMPHIS, Tenn.,--Nov. 14, 2013-- Ducks Unlimited TV host Field Hudnall has again been recognized as one of the top goose callers in the world. Hudnall out-called 33 other contestants at the World Championship Goose Calling Contest last weekend in Easton, Maryland. This is Hudnall’s second title--he also won in 2004. “Competition duck and goose calling has been a major part of my life,” said Hudnall. “It has allowed me to meet some great people across the country and it was the pathway that allowed me to make a living in the hunting industry. There are many great callers that compete in the World Championship. Any one of them could have easily been the winner. I was just very blessed that everything played out in my favor. The best feeling the entire night was that I was able to enjoy the victory with my 11-month-old son, Knox.” Ducks Unlimited TV host Field Hudnall claimed his second World Championship Goose Calling Contest win. Since 1976, the World Championship Goose Calling Contest has attracted the top callers in the US and Canada. A caller may be named World Goose Calling Champion up to three times, after which he will be retired from World Goose competition. After achieving the World Champion Goose Calling title, a caller is qualified to compete in the World Goose Calling Champion of Champions contest, which occurs every five years. The next Champion of Champions Contest will be held in 2015. Ducks Unlimited TV airs three times a week on the Outdoor Channel in 2013. Beginning in July 2014, DU TV will begin airing four times a week on the Pursuit Channel, with concurrent airings on the DU website. Hudnall and co-hosts Wade Bourne, Zach Pederson, and Ainsley Beeman will unveil a new show format in 2014 with more hunting action from across North America and more tips and tactics for waterfowl hunters. With additional appearances from hunting and conservation experts and more of the content viewers crave, the new DU TV promises to be one of the best hunting shows on TV and the internet.

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MDWFP Update Treestand Safety: A Call for Awareness

Treestand-related incidents are the leading cause of hunting-related injury and have resulted in at least one fatality in each of the last seven Mississippi deer hunting seasons. During this time, there have been 110 reported treestand incidents in Mississippi which have included a total of 11 fatalities. During last year’s deer season, 21 treestand incidents were reported. The shortest fall distance was 5 feet, the highest at 40 feet, with an average of a 14 feet fall. While the injuries and fall distances varied, one factor remained constant: a full-body harness was either not used or not connected to the tree at the time of the incident.

Eli Montgomery and Mary Kate Butler with 2 nice bucks.

While hunting can be a very safe sport, hunters choosing to hunt from an elevated stand without wearing or knowing how to properly use a full-body safety harness are taking a serious risk. While we spend countless hours planning our hunting adventures each year, most of us put very little thought into in the most important part of the hunt: making it home. MDWFP encourages you to read the following tips, share them with other hunters, and practice responsible and smart elevated hunting. Anyone hunting from an elevated stand should: • Learn and use proper treestand safety. • Always use a full-body harness. • Maintain connection to the tree from the time you leave the ground until you return (life-lines are a great option for fixed-position stands). • Read all instructions that come with any treestand or treestand-related product. • Watch the treestand safety DVD that comes with all Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA) certified treestands/harnesses. • Learn what the TMA does and how products are tested/certified. • Remove all stands from the woods each year and store stands out of the weather. • Inspect treestands and safety equipment each time they are used. • Store harnesses indoors and out of the weather. • Carry and know how to use the suspension relief device (SRD) supplied with every TMA certified harness.

“Back To Nature” Photography Contest Deadline Approaching The annual “Back to Nature” Photography Contest is designed to encourage Mississippi Museum of Natural Science visitors to venture out and capture the natural beauty of the wildlife and habitats on the grounds of the the museum and along the trails of Lefleur’s Bluff State Park. Entries will be accepted until December 31, 2013. Page 14


Montgomery Drugs 662-489-5555

8-6 Mon.-Fri. 8-4 Sat. 349 Highway 15 North, Pontotoc, Mississippi

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The Art of Deer Tracking You have worked hard on your land all season long preparing food plots, hanging stands and clearing trails. Finally, the season has arrived and the moment of truth has just walked into your luscious food plot. Taking careful aim at the large doe, you imagine how good the meat will taste and also that you are doing your part to help manage your deer herd. Just remember your responsibility as an ethical hunter to do two important things next: First, make the best shot you can to ensure a quick kill, and second, be ready to put every effort into recovering the deer if it does not go down in sight. This moment of truth has happened to me twice already in the 2012 archery season and has ended both times in a successful bow shot and recovery. Over my 35 years of hunting, I have been on my share of blood trails, on animals ranging from hogs to deer to bears. Between the whitetails I have shot and those I have helped recover, I would venture to say I have followed no less than 500 deer blood-trails. In the process, I have gained a lot of insight on the subject that I would like to share.

If the blood runs out and you still have not found your deer, don’t give up. Begin a grid search of the area, and recruit the help of friends if possible. Depending on how thick the area is, I try to keep everyone within sight so that no thick spots are overlooked. When all else fails, head to your nearest water source. I have found countless deer near or in creeks or shallow ponds. The final piece of advice I can give you is to never give up until you find your animal or confirm it was not hit fatally. Good luck this season, and may all your blood-trails be short and easy to follow!

First, blood-trailing deer is always easier when the blood-trail is short and the deer dies quickly. You can ensure short blood-trails by practicing with your bow or firearm and taking only ethical shots within your proficiency range. Once you pull the trigger or release an arrow, remember the three cardinal rules: watch, listen and wait. Watch: Gather as much information as you can by observing the reaction of the deer after the shot to help determine where you hit the animal, which has a lot to do with how you will proceed hereafter. Well-placed shots in the heart and lung area typically send the deer tearing out of town, often running low to the ground and crashing awkwardly through obstacles. Heart-shot deer also typically kick like a mule after being hit in the boiler room. Poorly placed shots in the paunch or intestines normally cause the deer to “hunch” its back and then make a short run, followed by a walk. These deer often bed down quickly, sometimes within sight of your stand. Leg hit deer usually run hard but show signs of a noticeable limp and tend to crash through brush awkwardly. Listen: I listen intently when I shoot for the sound of a shoulder being hit or the “hollow pumpkin” sound of an arrow or bullet passing through the deer’s chest. By listening and watching as the deer runs off, form both a visual and audible trail of the animal as it leaves the scene. It is important that you pinpoint the place where the deer was standing when you shot it and the last place you saw it, so you can find these locations again once you are on the ground. By listening, you may even hear the sounds of the deer hitting the ground and have a good idea where it will be found. Wait: I normally wait at least 30 minutes in the stand regardless of the shot, unless the deer is dead within view. If the animal is down nearby but not dead, you don’t want to spook it by making noise by coming out of your stand. After 30 minutes, I quietly get down from the stand and investigate the immediate scene. I locate the place the deer was standing when I shot, and I look for signs of blood, hair or a dislodged arrow. Crimson, frothy blood indicates a hit in the lungs and usually a decent blood trail. Bright red blood can indicate a heart shot or possible leg wound. Dark red blood usually means a hit to the liver. Blood that is mixed with green or brown material and has an odor usually means a gut-shot, which will require more time and patience. Liver shots can be tricky. I normally wait a minimum of 2 hours and sometimes 3 or 4 hours depending on the situation. A liver shot is always fatal, and a deer normally does not go far if it isn’t pushed. If pushed, it could go a long way. A deer hit in the stomach or intestines requires more time. If there is no threat of rain, I normally wait 4 to 6 hours before picking up the trail. If it is cool enough at night, I will let a gut-shot deer rest overnight and come search the next morning. Obviously, this is a shot you want to avoid at all costs, so put every effort into being proficient with your gun or bow, and choose only ethical shot opportunities. Trailing dogs are becoming more and more popular, and I have trained and used quite a few myself. In my home state of Georgia, there are plenty of trailing dogs available for hire. They are without a doubt one of the most effective tools for finding a marginally but fatal hit deer, as long as they are legal in your state.

Sherman Drugs 662-844-8880

8-6 Mon.-Fri. 9-3 Sat. 670 Highway 178 Suite 1 • Sherman, Mississippi

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�e gathering place for hunters and friends!

Full Breakfast & Lunch 5 am-7 pm Mon. - Sat. /10 am-6 pm Sunday Tel. 662-534-7885

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DEER STEW Ingredients 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 pounds venison stew meat 1/4 cup flour Essence, recipe follows 2 cups chopped onions 1 cup chopped celery 1 cup chopped carrots 1 tablespoon chopped garlic 1 cup chopped tomatoes, peeled and seeded 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme 2 bay leaves 1 cup red wine 4 cups brown stock Salt and black pepper

Directions In a large pot, over high heat, add the olive oil. In a mixing bowl, toss the venison with flour and Creole Seasoning . When the oil is hot, sear the meat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onions and sautĂŠ for 2 minutes. Add the celery and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. SautĂŠ for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, basil, thyme, and bay leaves to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Deglaze the pan with the red wine. Add the brown stock. Bring the liquid up to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the stew for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the meat is very tender. If the liquid evaporates too much add a little more stock.

Creole Seasoning: 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika 2 tablespoons salt 2 tablespoons garlic powder 1 tablespoon black pepper 1 tablespoon onion powder 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Tel. 662-489-8251 or 662-587-9800

Remove the stew from the oven and serve in shallow bowls.

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Hillcountry outdoors dec 2013  

Mississippi Hunting and Fishing At It's Best!!

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