BIG DEER 2019 Moon-Rut Hunting Guide

full moonThis year I teamed up with Outdoor Life digital for the 8th annual BIG DEER rut guide, with specific tips on planning your hunting vacay this November. Click the above link to read the entire guide; below are some highlights:

New moon this rut cycle begins on October 27…expect deer to be most active at dawn and for 30 minutes thereafter… expect deer to be move from daylight until 9:00a.m. or so…get on stand extra early and hunt especially hard that first hour.

November 4, 2019 First-Quarter Moon: Looking back to my notes and all the research I’ve done over the years it is fact that many huge bucks are killed every year during the seeking phase of the rut November 6-10. This is always a good week to take off work and hunt.

Week of November 11, 2019: Full Moon: November 8 through 16 could be good for midday deer movement, especially if it’s cold. Movement from, say, 10 a.m. till 3:00 p.m. …spend all day in a stand, you never when a mature buck will come by.

Week of November 18, 2019 Last-Quarter Moon: deer movement should be good to great from November 19 through about 24, especially around food sources…if you are going to hunt the last hour of the day anytime this season, you should do it during the last-quarter phase.

Good luck whichever week you take off to hunt the rut!

One more thing: If you have the flexibility to wait until late October to plan your rut-hunting week do it. Study the long-range weather forecast for November, pick a cool to cold week when bucks will move best and factor in the moon advice you read here for a killer game plan.

The Debate Over Deer Urine

synthetic scent

Earlier this summer South Carolina became the 9th state to ban the use of urine-based scents for deer hunting. In a press release, the South Carolina DNR said in part: “the department is following the lead of other states in proactively prohibiting the use of (urine) in order to minimize the potential for CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) introduction into South Carolina.”

In response to this and other state bans on urine-based scents, two major scent companies—Wildlife Research Center and Tink’s, have issued this response:

The argument made by rule makers to ban these products is that they unnaturally congregate deer like bait or feed, thereby increasing interaction between animals and possibly increasing the spread of disease. While a scent set-up can effectively attract the interest of deer nearby for a short period of time to the benefit of a hunter, putting a small amount of deer urine on some wicks is insignificant regarding the overall “congregation of animals” argument.  It would cause no more congregation than using a call or decoy and is a natural occurrence of deer already in the area.

A typical deer releases about 64 oz of urine per day in good weather conditions and 42 oz in bad weather conditions which calculates to approximately 150 gallons per year.  We have never verified the frequency on camera, but our assumption is that each deer urinates on average 4 to 6 times per day.  That’s over 1,800 times per year.  The point is that deer are naturally urinating exponentially more urine in the general area already versus a hunter using 1 or 2 oz of urine that lasts a few hours to attract deer closer to his hunting location.  Even with deer lure, you still have to be in a good spot where deer already exist.  It does not bring in dozens of bucks from far away for extended periods of time like bait or feed might.  The animals do not eat the scent and do not spend long periods of time there interacting with each other like they would at a bait pile. The animals that are attracted live and urinate all around that area already.

It is important to note that lead authors of the most commonly referenced studies on urine and CWD agree that “the risk of urine-based scents spreading CWD is virtually zero”.  See more about this at www.cwdfacts.org

Over the last 3 decades I have used a lot of deer urine and have hunted over a lot of corn and other feed in states where baiting is legal. As I look at this issue from this dual perspective, two valid points from the above statement jump out at me:

While a scent set-up can attract the interest of deer nearby for a short period of time…putting a small amount of deer urine on some wicks is insignificant regarding the overall “congregation of animals” argument…

(Scent) does not bring in dozens of bucks (or does) from far away for extended periods of time like bait or feed might. The animals do not eat the scent and do not spend long periods of time there interacting with each other like they would at a bait pile.

I agree, the argument that a hunter’s use of scent can “congregate deer” does not hold water. How many times have you had 3 or 4 or 6 deer run in and stand under a scent wick? Never. Occasionally a doe or a buck will get a whiff of scent and come to a hunter’s setup—that’s why you use the stuff–but I have never seen multiple deer congregate at a urine wick or even a mock scrape for any length of time. I doubt anybody who has hunted a lot has seen it either.

On the other hand, countless times I have sat and watched 3,6 as many as 8 or 10 deer or more come to a corn or oat pile (and to a food plot or other natural food source also for that matter). Feed does congregate deer.

One hunting organization at the forefront of monitoring CWD and educating hunters says that the risk of disease transmittal through hunters’ use of deer urine is small.

In a statement, the Quality Deer Management Association said: According to current research, the risk of spreading CWD to new areas through the use of natural urine is extremely low, but it’s not zero. The accumulation of infectious materials is much higher in muscle tissue and organs than urine.

In QDMA’s view, it is far more important at this time for all hunters and wildlife agencies to focus on stopping the two most risky activities: 1) Transportation of infected deer carcasses out of CWD zones and 2) All transportation of live deer and elk.

In areas where natural urine has not been banned, we encourage hunters to only buy products from companies participating in the Archery Trade Association’s Deer Protection Program or to use synthetic urine.

POSTSCRIPT: What it means for hunters this 2019-20 deer season:

In addition to South Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia have banned the possession and use real deer urine in the woods. Minnesota and Pennsylvania have implemented bans on urine scents in CWD management zones. A statewide ban on deer/elk urine goes into effect January 1, 2020 in Oregon.

If you plan to carry and use scents to attract bucks in any of these states you must use a manufactured scent. Wildlife Research Center makes 8 varieties of synthetic scent that I use and trust.

A last big thing to remember: In this age of CWD, the days of shooting a buck, loading the carcass in your truck and driving across a state line are virtually gone. If you plan to travel to hunt this fall, even if it’s just 10 miles across a state line, it is imperative that you read and know your state’s regulations on transporting deer and deer parts.

 

 

Time To Reboot Your Tick Prevention

lyme disease 1Today’s guest blog is from one of our regulars, Danny Myers of Maryland, and it’s a must read:   

I’ve always been relatively healthy.  I would get a couple sinus infections every year, but other than that I almost never got sick.

This past March while at one of my daughter’s volleyball tournaments I got a dizzy spell out of nowhere.  I thought it came from not eating breakfast so I grabbed one of her sports drinks with a snack and didn’t think too much of it.

I got a bad headache afterwards and asked my wife to drive me home. The headache continued for about 2 weeks and was similar to a sinus infection, so I went to an Urgent Care, got an antibiotic and thought I would get better.

About a month later I ended up back at Urgent Care, and then my wife encouraged me to go to my regular doctor. They did some blood tests and everything came back normal. (Including the third Lyme test I’d had since March). The doctor wrote it off as allergies and told me to add another allergy medication.

Another month and by this time I could barely climb out of bed.  I was extremely dizzy, had horrible headaches, zero energy, every joint hurt in my body and I couldn’t sleep at night. Not to mention that I was stress eating along with no exercise and gained about 30 pounds.

My sister recommended a specialist in Lancaster, Pa.  and thank God she did.  After 4 months of pure hell I finally have some answers. She diagnosed me with Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

In the last 4 months these diseases have caused my Thyroid to almost stop working, my eyesight has diminished to the point I now need reading glasses and I have 5 or 6 other viruses/infections throughout my body. Even with all of this the specialist said I should consider myself lucky. I am now taking 20 pills per day to try and rid my body of all that is going on.

The thing is, I never found a tick on me. I never saw the bulls-eye rash you hear about. I never thought this type of thing would happen to me. I got complacent and stopped checking for ticks.

So to all my fellow hunters out there…. NEVER stop checking for ticks! If you find a tick stuck on you, go get the antibiotics ASAP.  You don’t want the symptoms that occur if it goes untreated. And, if you do develop symptoms make sure you find a tick-borne specialist in your area. Family doctors aren’t knowledgeable on how to treat this disease. They are only trained to treat the symptoms not the disease itself.

I still have a long road ahead of me. But hopefully by September I’ll be able to take Lexi out for bow season to try and knock down another big buck.—Danny

If this doesn’t jolt you into rebooting your tick precaution routine, I don’t know what will. I’m been complacent about it this summer, but more.

 Thanks, Danny, for the important message. Here’s to a speedy and full recovery.

Can You Salvage Roadkill Deer In Your State?

va buck hit may - CopyFrom Popular Science: Jessica Mundall came across a dead buck while driving. The animal had just been hit and killed by a semi-truck, and was still “super fresh.” She and her husband, both hunters, processed the deer on the side of the road….

“After that, we were hooked,” says Mundall, 26, who works for the state’s fish and game department in Boise, Idaho. “We ended up getting our freezer filled off of roadkill.”

Idaho is one of 20-some states that allow the free salvage of roadkill animals (you simply need to report your take to the state and answer a few questions within 24 hours). Other states that allow it include Washington, Pennsylvania, Oregon, West Virginia, Montana, Tennessee and Alaska.

There are some obvious concerns: Is a car-struck deer salvageable or too damaged…? Is the meat still fresh or spoiled…? In a CWD area, is the meat safe to eat…?

But according to State Farm Insurance, an estimated 1.33 million deer will be struck by vehicles this year. A lot of those animals will be salvageable, so that’s a lot of fresh red meat for our freezers, or for a shelter.

California is the latest state to get in on salvage. A recently introduced bill states “the intent of this legislation (is) to make available to Californians tens of thousands of pounds of a healthy, wild, big game food source that currently is wantonly wasted each year following wildlife-vehicle collisions.”

Why don’t all states allow a person to recover, take home and eat a dead deer if you’re willing to take a picture of it and get a salvage permit?

This seems to be a win-win. Would you salvage a roadkill, or maybe you already have?

Laws and Ethics of Drones & Hunting

drone

I heard an amazing prediction the other day: In less than 20 years every person in the world will have a “pet drone” or at least access to a drone.

What will 10 billion of the things buzzing around the land mean for hunting? Is there any place for a drone in the deer woods? As the technology advances and drones become cheaper and easier to fly, it is inevitable that people will try to find a way to use them for all activities, including hunting.

People already have. State troopers and wildlife cops in Alaska are aware of at least one drone-assisted (and illegal) moose kill, back in 2012.

Other than shooting cool footage for personal video or a TV show (more on that later) I can’t think of any good use for a drone in the deer woods. To me it would not be ethical to fly a drone over the fields/woods where you hunt, scouting from the air and sizing up buck racks (though that would be almost impossible with a drone’s wide-angle camera), or looking for funnels where bucks walk, and then moving in on the ground with a stand for an ambush.

Alaska was the first state to prohibit hunters from spotting game with drones, and others have followed. I expect all states to follow suit with specific restrictions on drones for hunting.

A few years ago, the National Park Service announced that it was taking steps to limit and/or prohibit drones from 84 million acres of public lands to keep the unmanned aircraft from harassing wildlife and annoying hikers, camper and all visitors. Check out the drone regulations before flying on in a national park.

As mentioned, one legal and ethical use of a drone is to get killer TV footage of landscapes, terrain and hunters walking around and glassing, etc. You see it on almost every show you watch on Sportsman Channel, including BIG DEER TV. But even this can lead to potential problems.

Several years ago, one of my former TV producers alerted game wardens in the area that our crew would be out there for a week, flying a drone with a camera attached to it to get some cool footage. We would not be using it as we scouted or hunted, just to film general landscape and hunter shots in the middle of the day.

filming with drone

That was back in the day when a drone was a novelty, and size-wise, big as a small helicopter (above). One evening, the warden in the area pulled up to property where I was hunting and confronted my friend as he waited to pick me up after dark.

“Where the hell is Hanback, I hear he’s using a damn helicopter to hunt, I want to talk to him.” He roared off and said he’d be back. He never tracked me down that week, and I’m glad. We flew the drone on private land and got some good footage, but I was uneasy about it.

We’re always ethical, and authorities are more familiar with drones today, but still it can be a tricky issue, especially on public land.

Lost in all this talk is the hunt itself—the stillness and solitude of the woods, the connection to nature and the land, the anticipation as you sit in a tree stand and wait on a magnificent buck, the sight of which takes your breath…

Who wants to ponder a hunting world with a billion drones buzzing overhead, watching your every move.

Sounds weird, but they say those days are coming. What do you think?