Best Chainsaws For Hunters

chainsawFrom now until stand-hanging time in September a lot of people will be out working their deer hunting property, clearing trails, taking out trash trees to let in more sunlight, etc.

What’s the best saw for the job? Illinois land management expert Matt Cheever says:

I prefer Echo, Stihl and Husqvarna in that order. Echo has the longest warranty and best power to weight ratio (it’s all I currently own). Stihl has always made a good saw, and a “Husky” is built like a tank, but seems to have a longer power stroke so you have to run them wide open all the time for best performance. All 3 are solid choices. Buy a saw in the 40-45 cc range with an 18” bar and it will meet 95% of your land-management needs. A quality saw will last about 25 years of hard use.

What chainsaw do you use and swear by?

Whitetail Management: A Little Land Work Leads To A Monster Buck

Now is the time to put in food plots, work the timber, create mineral sites, and otherwise improve the private property you’ll hunt on this fall. You don’t have to go hog wild and spend thousands of dollars doing it, especially if you live in the right big-buck zip code. Here’s proof that some sweat equity mixed with smart scouting can pay off big.

A few years ago Mike from Iowa obtained a small chunk of ground with a cabin on it. He scouted and hunted a couple of seasons, but didn’t see many bucks bucks, either on camera or from a tree stand. “My confidence in the farm was low, but after doing some timber-stand improvement and putting in food plots one off season, I had hopes that things would change for the better.”

iowa bow giant 2013

Then on November 2 that year Mike recalls…

I was still trying to work things out on the property, and I bumped several deer on the way in to my stand that afternoon. Before the evening was over I had passed on a very nice buck–and I was second guessing myself. I decided to leave everything in the stand so I could just slip in quietly the next morning.

The wind was right and it worked like a charm. I was settled in the stand plenty early, and I had some serious quiet time with God. I enjoy that peaceful time before sunrise. Just after legal shooting light I heard crunching behind me, straight downwind. I turned to look and immediately grabbed my bow and hooked up my release.

The buck was already at 30 yards and in the open, but a couple of large limbs from the tree I was in blocked the shot. My first thought was to wait for him to move from behind the limbs; then it crossed my mind that anything could happen and I needed to get my shot off before he got awaay. I leaned way back and tried to clear a large limb, but couldn’t. I squatted, leaned way out, settled my pin and let her fly.

I was shooting for 30, but the deer was actually at 25. He may have jumped the string as well…either way, my shot was high. As he bolted, the arrow appeared to fall out with poor penetration. I immediately nocked another arrow and was ready for a follow-up shot if he stopped. When his tail started to cork screw I thought “dead deer,” but mind you I had seen the arrow fall away. I started looking for room to squeeze another one. The buck moved slightly and gave me a tiny opening. Before I knew it, the second arrow was away, a clean pass thru this time.

As the deer hustled off I saw what looked like two mortal wounds. I thought I heard a crash, and I started sending text messages. After a few minutes I located horns with my binos and the emotions swept over me. I knew he would be my best deer to date, and as soon as I walked up on him I knew he was a net Boone and Crockett buck.

On my way back to the cabin to get help, I walked up on 3 good bucks in another food plot. I have changed my mind about this property being a low percentage spot! A little timber improvement and quality plotting turned this place around in a hurry, and I see many years of pleasure ahead for our clan here at our cabin farm.

On yeah, the buck scored 183 2/8″ gross, and 178 6/8″ net.—Mike from Iowa

Deer Science: What Causes Most Fawn Deaths?

nj fawn

Our friend Jeff saw this newborn on his New Jersey farm last Saturday. If the little deer can make it until early August, its chances of survival soar. Scientists note that most fawn deaths occur in the first 12 weeks of life.

A grad student at Penn State’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Management examined the causes of fawn deaths listed in 29 different populations, and calculated the proportion of fawns that died from each of 3 categories: human, predation, and natural causes.

coyote wiht fawn

Not surprisingly predators, namely coyotes, bobcats, bears and dogs, killed the most fawns, about 25% of them in the populations studied.

About 8% of fawns died from natural causes like starvation, disease, hypothermia and drowning.

About 5% of fawns died from human causes (cars to combines to indirect causes, like getting tangled in a fence). The researchers noted that while we humans are the smallest source of mortality for whitetail fawns, it is worth noting as the human impact moves into more and more areas.

On the flip (and good) side 55% of fawns survive.

Future Of Deer Hunting: USDA TO Revise Standards for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

cwd map

As I’ve said on the Blog and on BIG DEER TV, CWD is the biggest issue and threat that we’ve faced in the last 50 years, and maybe ever. We need to stay on top of this and learn all we can about this disease.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is currently revising their standards for CWD, and they need to hear from deer hunters from across the country. To that end, TRCP put out this message which I wholeheartedly agree with and support:

Deer hunting is the single most popular form of hunting in the United States, with 9.2 million Americans participating each year, contributing more than $20 billion in economic activity, state and local taxes, and wildlife restoration trust fund excise taxes. Deer hunters play an essential role in the “user pays, public benefits” framework of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Reductions in deer hunting and the number of deer hunters have reverberating impacts that extend far beyond deer and deer hunting directly, including state fish and wildlife agency budgets and their broader fish and wildlife management work, and rural economic health.

Deer populations represent one of the great success stories of American wildlife conservation, and deer hunters have led the way; but the continued spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) across the country represents a stark threat to the future of deer populations, deer hunting, and more broadly, the public’s wildlife resources. Once again, hunters stand ready to take the steps necessary to address this worrisome issue, but we cannot do it alone. Significant progress must also be made by the deer farming industry.

As the lead federal agency tasked with slowing and ultimately ending the further spread of CWD, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) must take proactive and meaningful steps, including:

1. Reducing the spread of CWD to levels low enough that new cases are extremely rare.
2. Including all effective disease control options, to include improved fencing for deer farms and stronger requirements for disease monitoring, surveillance, and decontamination.
3. Covering all native and farmed deer species in North America.
4. Requiring mandatory testing of all dead animals from captive herds.
5. Eliminating the movement of CWD-infected deer from all sources.
6. Recommending a third-party review of the APHIS Herd Certification and Interstate Movement program and Program Standards due to continued detection of CWD in herds monitored beyond five years, largely due to flaws with the program.

TRCP encourages all of us to take action and weigh in on the CWD threat. Fill out the form found here to send a letter to decision makers at the USDA APHIS.

Mule Deer: Why Antler-Point Restrictions Don’t Work

mule deer 2 ptMost western states and provinces have, over the years, implemented some type of antler-point restrictions during mule deer hunting seasons. On the surface, antler restrictions make sense: If by law hunters cannot shoot young fork-horns and other immature bucks, those deer will grow older and bigger next year and the next. More mature bucks is good for the health of any herd, right? And most hunters want to shoot a deer with big antlers, right?

Not necessarily, say experts with the Mule Deer Working Group (MDWG). These researchers and biologists report that antler-point restrictions have proved to have limited potential to produce more trophy bucks, and they result in a myriad of challenges and problems. For example:

– Available data and experience from across the West suggest that antler restrictions result in no long-term increase in either the proportion or number of mature bucks in a herd, or the total deer population. Antler-point restrictions have been shown to actually reduce the number of trophy bucks in a herd over time by protecting only smaller-antlered young bucks.

–Antler-point restrictions do not increase fawn production or herd population size.

–Antler restrictions dramatically reduce hunter participation, success and total harvest. They can cheapen the value of young bucks by changing the threshold for success from “any buck” is good to a quest where “only a big buck will do.” Antler point restrictions may discourage hunters (especially beginning and young hunters) because it can be difficult to locate and identify legal deer.

WORST UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE: Antler-point restrictions increase the number of deer shot and illegally left in the field; this can be significant and has been documented in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Nevada, and Montana.

The MDWG says that after decades of disappointing results, most western states and provinces have discontinued statewide antler-point restrictions (although some local jurisdictions still have them in limited areas). The two main reasons for abandoning them are: (1) unacceptable accidental-illegal kill, and (2) increased harvest mortality focused on the very age class of buck of it was intended to promote.

Today, according to the MDWG, most states and provinces have concluded that rather than antler-point restrictions, the best way to improve mule deer numbers (including number of mature bucks) and buck:doe ratios is to reduce the annual harvest through 1) a limited-quota licensing system that decreases overall total buck harvest while allowing for some level of doe harvest; or 2) setting a very short hunting season in early fall (before rut) when mature bucks are less vulnerable.

Bottomline for those of you planning a mule deer hunt anywhere out West: Anticipate more draw/quota hunts, and perhaps more and shorter seasons in early to mid-October.

Photo above: The problem with antler-point restrictions. While this 2-point buck is fully mature and should be fair game for any hunter, he would off-limits in an area where “one antler must have 3 points.” Also, while an antler-point restriction rule would unnecessarily protect this older buck, all he’ll ever be antler-wise is a 2-point… most hunters are looking for at least a mature 3-point and more typically a big 4.