October 21: The Best Hunting Starts This Weekend

sioux falls south dakota buckAfter lazy weeks of fattening up on grain and acorns in summer and early fall, whitetail bucks get antsy and start to move around more in mid-October. Historical “rut curves” assembled by biologists over decades show that bucks really begin to rev up their scraping right now, around October 20. Better yet, the data show that 5 to 7 percent of a herd’s does are bred by bucks around October 21, give or take a few days. That’s not a whole lot, but good things happen when bucks start to rip more scrapes and prowl for the first estrus does. The more they are on their feet, the better your chances of seeing and shooting one.

Bonus: There’s little hunting pressure in the woods as compared to what you’ll find later in the peak November rut, so now is a good time to be there.

Best conditions: The thing that kills October hunting is warm to hot weather. But when a cold front blows in and drops the temperature 20 or 30 degrees, perfect. The cooler weather will kick deer into moving more. That will occur in the Eastern U.S. this weekend, where I predict the buck movement and hunting will get better. For example, after a week of 80-plus Indian Summer days here in Virginia, a front will blow through later this afternoon, and the low tomorrow morning will be 44. Although it will heat back up soon, the next couple of days should be good.

Best tree stand: If possible, hang a stand on an oak ridge within 100 yards or so of a corn, soybean or alfalfa field. Set up near a well-used deer trail or creek crossing if you find one. It is a good acorn year in many areas. Many deer will browse on the ridge before moving out to the crops at dusk, if they ever leave the ridge at all. Be ready.

Good Tactics: Try setting 2 scent wicks near your stand, one doused with buck urine and the other with hot doe. (Check your regs, with CWD disease a concern, some states have banned real deer urine, and you’ll have to use a synthetic scent.) When bucks start to prowl, they may circle in to either lure, to fight a rival or love on a gal. Have your grunt call ready and blow it occasionally. A buck might hear it and veer over. Good luck.

Virginia Bowhunter Shoots Massive 7-Point Buck

va 2016 davis

Today’s guest blog from fellow Virginia hunter Chris Davis. These are the stories I like the best, hard-working, hard-hunting Americans doing their thing, grateful for the opportunities we have, thankful for the chance to one day shoot a big deer:    

Opening day of bow season in Virginia, I went behind my house in the morning because I only had a few hours to hunt. I saw a fawn come by, but not much else. I noticed rubs on big cedar trees that were fresh. I decided to come back in the afternoon when I had more time.

When I returned later that day I saw squirrels, birds and a few hawks flying around. Daylight was starting to fade when I saw movement, a decent 6-pointer. I stood up slowly and grabbed my bow but noticed that behind him was a nice 8-pointer. As they fed on acorns, I noticed another buck coming in, a huge 7-pointer.

They fed on acorns for about 5 minutes, and had no idea I was standing there, bow in hand, ready to draw back. Finally, the time had come. I took a deep breath, and told myself to take my time and don’t mess this up. I put my pin on the 7-pointer, slowly pulled the trigger back and let my arrow fly.

I knew the shot was good when he did a mule kick and took off only to hear him crash about 60 yards away. I put my bow up and that’s when the buck fever kicked in–my legs turned to Jello! I started shaking…it took me about 20 minutes to get myself together enough to climb down.

Once down from the stand, I walked over and immediately saw blood. I followed the blood trail for about 60 yards…it was at that point I saw him and realized just how big this deer was. I thanked The Lord for the opportunity to take this big buck, and I stood there awhile in amazement. I had taken my biggest buck to date on opening day of bow season in my own backyard.—Chris Davis

Great buck and story Chris, way to go man! One of the biggest 7-pointers I’ve seen in a while.

Nevada Gun Shop: Firearms, Ammo Prices Will Skyrocket If Clinton Elected

guns hillaryOver the past 8 years, President Obama has been the firearms industry’s best salesman, with gun and ammo sales breaking record after record for months. But you ain’t seen nothing yet if Hillary wins on November 8.

From the Washington Post:

Now the Las Vegas gun store Westside Armory is predicting a Hillary Clinton victory in November, and it has a message for customers: Buy now, because things are going to get expensive.

In an advertisement over the weekend in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Westside Armory said it was holding a “Pre-Hillary Sale” on tactical rifles, warning of a price surge if the Democratic nominee wins the presidential election next month. “Don’t wait!” the advertisement reads.

There is little question that Westside is spot on, and I am certain hunters and shooters all over the nation will be hitting the gun shops and buying during the next 3 weeks. If you’re in the market for a new firearm (and even if you’re not) you should consider purchasing now. A prominent Clinton surrogate was caught on tape saying there could be “an executive action” on firearms to circumvent Congress and restrict our gun rights if Hillary is elected, even thought we do have a little thing called the Second Amendment.


(Photo: John Ralston @Ralstonreports)


“Stag Buck” Velvet Antlers: What Causes This?

oregon stagBIG DEER TV producer Justin Karnopp sent me this text: Shot velvet buck with no testicles. Coolest buck I’ve ever killed!

I can’t wait to see the video footage. This will make a terrific episode for next season, as a stag buck like this is very rare.

According to QDMA a birth defect known as cryptorchidism causes a buck to keep velvet antlers beyond the normal velvet-shedding time of late summer:

In extreme cases both testicles remain in the abdominal cavity and never descend into the scrotum. The normal production of testosterone is diminished, and the antler cycle of hardening, velvet shedding and antler casting is altered. These same results can sometimes be produced in a buck that is born normal but subsequently suffers a testicular injury.

Cryptorchid bucks are different. They don’t participate in the seasonal rituals of normal bucks. Because their testosterone levels remain low in early fall, their antler development is not completed, and their velvet is not shed. Cryptorchid bucks don’t participate in signpost behavior… They lack the chemical stimulation to express their dominance and individualism…  the necks of cryptorchid bucks do not swell as the breeding season approaches. Reproductively, they are in neutral. Antlers are not shed, and they remain in velvet year round… the antlers continue to grow as the animal matures.

I all my travels and hunting I have never seen a stag buck, have you? If anybody has shot one, send me a picture!

Deer How-To: Hunt Terrain, Not Buck Sign

buck sign compressedOne of the biggest mistakes I used to make, and sometimes still do, was to find a mother lode of rubs and scrapes, rush in and hang a tree stand based on the sign. Sound familiar? Sometimes it works out, but most of the time it doesn’t.

Why? Because a ridge or bottom where bucks lay down a ton of sign, especially scrapes beginning later this month, is where they spend a lot of time at night, and hence are apt to show up after shooting light.

Something ODMA biologist Kip Adams told me once stuck: “Why sit and watch scrapes where a 10-pointer is likely to show up at night? Why not watch a heavy trail or edge of cover 100 yards or more off the scrapes, where you might catch him moving in first or last light.”

Another of the nation’s top biologists, Mick Hellickson, has done extensive trail-camera research on land in Iowa. He said: “We have 10 camera sites where we photograph an average of 10 different mature bucks each year. Sign aside, common habitat features for those bucks are proximity to security cover and any terrains that bottleneck buck movement.”

The takeaway:  Find a hub of hot sign—rubs, scrapes and big tracks–and scout out from the sign for 100 to 200 yards in all directions. Look for thick edges and pockets of cover, and trails that run along or through them. Look for narrow creek crossings and bends, ditches, ridge points, saddles and the like that funnel deer to and from a sign-blazed ridge or bottom. Hang your stands on the covers and terrains to see and shoot more bucks.