Camping World Takes Over Gander Mountain

ganderTough times in the hunting/shooting retail world has led, sadly, to another mega takeover.

Earlier this year Gander Mountain, which had been outfitting hunters for more than 50 years, filed for bankruptcy and was placed up for auction. On April 28, Camping World, the nation’s largest RV retailer, was chosen as the winning bidder ($37.8 million is a lot of money to you and me, but seems cheap for a brand like Gander).

The big question: What does this mean for the 126 Gander stores built across the country?

Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis said bluntly, “All stores are liquidating, and the inventory in there is going to go away.” Some stores will likely close for good, but “my goal is to keep open at least 70 and keep them operating as Gander Mountain. I will not be picking stores that do not have a clear path to profitability.”

Lemonis says that moving forward, Camping World intends to “refine the inventory selection,” which many in the outdoor industry take to mean substantially less selling of firearms and shooting/hunting gear. Lemonis said one of Gander’s problems was that the retailer was a victim of its own misguided approach to inventory. “At the end of the day, this company failed because it made some giant inventory mistakes and just bought too much,” he said. “Not the wrong stuff, but just too much. And it didn’t necessarily understand how to operate in a low-cost environment.”

Gander Mountain stores will continue to honor gift cards until May 17, 2017. If you have a card, hurry to your local Gander and use it. After that, Gander Mountain gift cards will no longer be honored in store or online.

The list of Gander stores that will close (or survive) remains fluid, but here’s the latest.

This is sad news for me, because I always enjoyed getting the Gander Mountain catalog, and in recent years visiting Gander stores. How about you? Who shopped at Gander and will miss it?

Michigan: Buck With Third Eye Antler

unicorn eye socket@whitetailpress posted this picture on Twitter and asked: Found this crazy shed while out turkey hunting. Ever seen anything like this?

Yes. While a third beam/tine growing out of a buck’s face is rare, there have been quite a few unicorn bucks documented over the years.

What causes this rarity? It could be simply a freak of genetics, or scientists say a freak tine on the front facial bone of a buck can be caused by trauma, such as a tine puncture from another buck. Strangely, another tine then sprouts out from there.

Most  freak tines grow out from the long, flat facial bone on a buck, though there have instances of weird tines sprouting around and even out of an eye socket, like with the Kansas buck pictured below.

eye socket buck

 

 

 

 

How to Bowhunt City Bucks

MT kevin robinsn bucks

People are shooting huge whitetail bucks in small tracts in cities and suburbs where bowhunting is permitted. In Connecticut, northern Virginia, New York—and out in Missoula, Montana.

Last week I filmed a TV segment with Kevin Robinson; the heavy 8-point rack with killer brow tines is from his 2016 Montana suburbs buck. Kevin will tell his story on an episode of BIG DEER TV later this fall, but here are a few of tricks.

When archery season opens in early September, Kevin hunts high in a draw that overlooks town in the evenings. His tree stand is tight to one of two deer trails that run up and down the mountain. He knows these suburban bucks, and if a big deer has not passed his stand by a certain time in the evening, he knows he is not coming on the first trail, but should be walking the second trail. So he gets down, gets the wind and thermals right and sneaks over to one of three ground spots to watch the second trail. That’s how he got the three-beamed buck on the left side of the photo.

Kevin said, “It’s all about scouting and watching early-season deer on their tight and predictable summer pattern.”

MT film kevin

He hunts fairly hard in September, but when October and the “lull” roll around he stops hunting and leaves the local deer alone until later in November. “Not hunting for 4 or 5 weeks, that’s hard to do, but I know how good the hunting will be as the rut comes on,” Kevin says.

In November he typically hunts from a tree stand set lower in the draw and much nearer houses, roads and developments. “Local town bucks that I hardly ever see up high start moving around and looking for does, and the action really gets good.”

For city bucks, Kevin says grunting works well, and a drag line with doe scent can be good in the rut.

Whitetail Body Language: Why Does Box with Their Feet

 

does boxing

Our friend Zach sent us this great cam picture a few years ago of two does squaring off. Notice how the other girls are standing around and staring, urging them on. A deer fight is pretty much like a people fight!

Why do does do this? Texas Parks & Wildlife says it better than I could on their page about whitetail body language:    

Female deer also establish a peck order and display aggressive behavior. Does, like bucks, use the ear drop, hard look, and sidle body language. However, since they don’t have antlers, they use their front feet to determine their dominance. If the preliminary body-language threats are not effective, the dominant doe lunges at her adversary and then strikes out with one or both front fee. As a last resort, the fighting does stand up on their hind legs and slash out at each other with both front feet. Their sharp hooves are wicked weapons, and the does do not bluff or fight mock battles.

Georgia: 2 Big-Nose Bullwinkle Bucks

Here at Big Deer Blog we’ve become fascinated by whitetails with unusually big noses, and we’ve committed to building the biggest database of these unusual deer that have been shot across North America.

“Bullwinkle” syndrome was first discovered around 2005.  The few scientists who have examined deer with swollen snouts say the condition results from chronic inflammation of tissue in the nose, mouth and upper lip. All the cases studied by researchers have shown similar colonies of bacteria in the inflamed tissues.

How deer acquire Bullwinkle syndrome is unknown. The affliction doesn’t appear to be fatal to the deer, but there are many unknowns.

Bullwinkle syndrome is very rare.

We’ve documented big-nose bucks from Michigan to Minnesota to Alabama and other states. These are the first ones we’ve reported on from Georgia.

georgia big nose ty 2015

Via Twitter Ty Dickey sent me the info on this Bullwinkle he shot in Washington County, Georgia during the 2015 season:

We had pictures of him from ’13 and ’14. Bullwinkle’s snout was very pronounced originally, but once he got healthier (we started an intensive management program on the land) it wasn’t as noticeable. I started updating Lindsay Thomas at QDMA and Charlie Killmaster at Georgia DNR, and they asked if we’d allow the DNR to have the deer if harvested. We did so and it’s my understanding they determined there were no health issues with the deer except the snout.

Bullwinkle weighed 240 lbs. when harvested, and that was way down from pre-rut pics that year. He was aged at 5.5. He was the dominant buck on the property and visited every feeder regularly. We’ve seen no other issues with any other deer and the herd is extremely healthy.

Health-wise this is typical with the other big-nose deer we’ve reported on. Still, while the deer may act and look fine, except for the engorged snout, you should not eat the meat until more is known about this syndrome.

Come to find out, Ty’s buck was the second-known Bullwinkle ever shot in Georgia.  Luther Covington killed the third-known one in Irwin County, also in 2015.

georgia big nose luther

DNR biologist Charlie Killmaster saw this buck too and said, “This is a very classic case of the Bullwinkle disease. It’s exceedingly rare.”

A necropsy was performed on Luther’s deer, and it was diagnosed with the Bullwinkle disease caused by a bacterial infection around the muzzle that leads to the swollen appearance. The actual bacterium that causes this condition is extremely difficult to identify and therefore still has not been detected.

Like Ty’s deer, Luther’s buck was big-bodied and weighed more than 200 pounds.

Biologists know that Ty’s and Luther’s Bullwinkles were bucks, but it’s unclear what the sex of Georgia’s first big-nose deer was. Thus, it’s unclear if the disease will affect does as it does bucks.

The fact that scientists were able to examine both these big-nose Georgia bucks is excellent! On the off-chance you shoot one a doe or buck with a swollen snout, contact your state DNR immediately. Save the head for a biologist to examine so we can learn more about these rare and interesting deer.

If you or any one you know has shot a big-nose deer, or maybe has a trail-cam picture of one, let me know so I can add it to the database.