Illinois: Big 10 Sheds w/Drop Tine


big sheds

Archie over at Midwest Buck Quest turned us on to these big sheds that were found recently in Illinois. Split brow and a nice drop! Hope this hunter, who wishes to remain anonymous, gets a crack at him this fall.

This is a good reminder to get out there this weekend and do one more round of shed hunting before the woods green up. Find a nice set like this (or one antler) and you know the buck that dropped them survived last hunting season. If he does not get hit by a car or otherwise perish this summer, he will live in the general vicinity of where he cast his sheds (typically within 500 acres or so).

Teaser: You won’t believe the size of the wild skull/rack we’ll be posting next week. Can you say 250 inches plus?


Maryland Bowhunting and Broadhead Study

hanback w Milk River buck

I had a fascinating conversation with Andy Pedersen, a retired engineer and hard-core bowhunter who for more than 20 years was deeply involved with a deer management program on the Naval facility where he worked and hunted (and still hunts today).

From 1989 to 2006, 161 bowhunters participated in the tightly controlled program on 3,000 acres of great whitetail habitat near the Potomac River. Pedersen’s records show that 104 of them (65%) hit 908 deer and recovered 746 of the animals within 24 hours for a recovery rate of 82 percent (+- 2.5%). From 2007-2012, hunters stuck another 388 deer and found 337 of them. Add the numbers and you get a recovery rate of 83.6% over the 24-year span. The hunters were able to recover 1 deer for every 1.4 shots.

“Those are real-world numbers,” says Pedersen, who blood-trailed many of those deer.

To me, the most telling number is found inside the reams of data. The hunters were advised by Pedersen and others to hunt ethically and show restraint, and they did by keeping their shots at deer close. Shots averaged 17.6 yards for compound hunters (longest successful shot on record was 40 yards and the rest were closer, often much closer). There is no doubt in my mind that this statistic drives the impressive 83 percent recovery rate.

Just 10 years ago, if you wrote a blog about shooting at a buck more than 40 yards away, hunters would scream and call for your head. Today, you routinely read about 50-, 60- and even 70-yard shots, and see it more than you should on TV.

I don’t get that. As this 24-year study reaffirms to me, if you want to find most every incredibly fast, string-jumping whitetail you shoot at, show some restraint and keep your shots close!

Read my entire account of this landmark study in the August 2014 issue of Bowhunting World magazine.


Texas Sheds & Snakes

Sarge and Miller from the #Big Deer Hunt Team just got back from an eventful weekend in South Texas. They drove down to hunt hogs, but the pigs weren’t cooperating. Most people think hog hunting in Texas is guaranteed, but it’s not. Pigs can be tricky, often coming out into the open at or near dark, especially on a ranch where they’ve been shot at and worked on pretty good.

tx sarge snake

Anyway, the hog hunt quickly turned into a creepy combo: sheds and rattlesnakes. I got text updates throughout the weekend, which was ok for the sheds but freaky with the snakes. The final tally: 0 hogs, a dozen or so antlers and 4 ugly serpents, which they proudly displayed on my Yeti to freak me out (and make me wonder what’s inside the next time I open that cooler).

yeti w snakes

I enjoy shed and pig hunting, but after seeing these pictures, I’ll damn sure never do it in South Texas in April.

tx miller snake



22LR: Why Still a Shortage?

rem 22

The ammo shortage of the last few years has gotten better, but why it is it still hard to find .22 LR in some places?

Three reasons, according to this Sierra Bullets blog.

Some gun owners are hoarding bricks of .22 in basements, garages and “prepper” bunkers, fearing they might not be able to get the ammo again in the near future–or ever. The blog’s writer, Matt Reams, says this is a “minor factor.” But I think it is a big factor. People know about President Obama’s and Holder’s views on guns (should I say hatred of) and then they envision 4 to 8 years of Hillary out there. No wonder people are hoarding ammo.

Then there are the gougers who prey on the anxiety of the hoarders. From the blog: These are the guys that wait in line at Wal-Mart at 3 a.m. to buy up the daily allotment that Wal-Mart puts out at normal retail prices and then double or triple their price on the weekend gun show circuit ($75 to $100 a brick). Again, not a huge factor, but keeping the shelves looking empty which keeps the panic level higher for those that are looking.

But the main reason is good old supply and demand. Reams notes that there are conservatively 35 million gun owners in the U.S., and that number may be as high as 70-80 million. Many if not most of those people own at least one .22 rifle. Do you know any (of these owners) that are not looking for .22 LR ammo or would at least buy some if they saw it for normal prices? How many would they buy when they found it? A lot – right?

Reams points out that major ammunition manufacturers are running 24/7 on their rimfire lines, cranking out an estimated 25-30 million .22LR rounds PER DAY. And they still having trouble keeping up with the demand.

What about where you live and hunt? Can you get .22LR at normal prices, or is it still hard to come by?



Jack O’Connor on Whitetail

jack ocon white

O’Connor, one of the greatest hunters and writers of the 20th century and one of my heroes, wrote this in his 1967 book, The Art of Hunting Big Game in America:

“That crafty old whitetail buck above the fireplace is a lot smarter and harder to come by than any Stone sheep or any tiger that ever lived.”

The simple and insightful writing by men who knew how to hunt and lived it is marvelous, isn’t it? Sadly, there are few hunting writers like that anymore. Worse, there are virtually no good-paying opportunities in the outdoor genre for men to hunt and write like that anymore.