Some People Are Mosquito Magnets, Are You?

mosquitoSome people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others, says a Baylor mosquito expert.

Jason Pitts, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology in Baylor University’s College of Arts and Sciences, studies “host seeking”—how mosquitoes find their next blood meal. He said odor is a major factor why mosquitoes bite some people more often.

Female mosquitoes, which bite because they need blood for reproduction, have the ability to smell odor over long distances.

“Females are able to track upwind.” Once they get that stream of odor, they fly in and out of the stream of odor to orient themselves to try get to the host.”

It is not just odor. Heat—at very close range—also is very attractive for female mosquitoes.

“Mosquitoes are exquisitely sensitive to differences in temperature on surfaces. When it comes to heat or carbon dioxide, both can be beacons for mosquitoes as well,” Pitts said.

Lastly, researchers have found that in addition to odor and heat, mosquitoes can use the sense of taste to decide whether to feed.

“Once a mosquito lands on (your) skin, they taste the skin to decide whether this is a good host or not,” Pitts said. “They can actually taste DEET, which is long-range repellent. They can smell it and avoid it. When they taste it, they will also fly away. Therefore, we know that taste is also important in some ways. Taste is the final choice before blood feeding.”

Whether you are a favorite food among mosquitoes or not, Pitts recommends these three tips for minimizing your chances of being bitten.

1. Reduce mosquito breeding grounds.

The most important thing that anyone can do is to reduce breeding sources for mosquitoes by eliminating stagnant water near your home and from your yard.

2. Stick with DEET

Bracelets, bands and other wearable devices that emit repellent compounds, such as citronella, lemongrass oil or eucalyptus, probably do reduce some mosquito bites. However, Pitts said these devices don’t provide absolute protection against bites. Topical repellents, he said, are still the best. They cover your skin and will not only have a volatile repellent effect, but if a mosquito lands on a person’s skin, it will not bite.

3. Avoid peak biting times.

Typically, mosquitoes bite at dusk and at dawn. Mosquitoes are most active when the sun is rising or setting. If you like to take a morning run or walk at dusk, you should apply DEET repellant to avoid being bitten.

Source: The Outdoor Wire

Why Do Deer Jump The Bow String?

early season bowhunting

Hey Mike: Wondering if you could settle a friendly argument. A buddy and I were discussing deer jumping the string. I say it is all noise related and they instinctively react; he says it could also be visual—they see the arrow coming. Wondering your thoughts? Also, do you ever see a bow being fast enough that you don’t have to worry about them jumping the string or is that impossible? Thanks–Jake in WI

Jake, you win, it’s an instinctive reaction. I heard a guy say one time, “It’s like when somebody blows a horn or sets off a firecracker close, you jump.” When a deer hears your bow go off in his natural environment, same thing.

I’ve heard people say a deer might see the arrow and react…I guess it’s possible a doe or buck might glimpse the blur of an arrow out the corner of their eye, but I doubt it happens often.

Actually, “jumping the string” is a misnomer, it should be called “ducking and rolling.” Doe or buck hears your bow go off, drops its chest down toward the ground and whirls to run in one motion. Can’t see it with the eye, but watch a slow-motion video of it, and it’s amazing.

Some deer drop at the bow sound, others don’t. Unpredictability has to do with distance to deer, quietness of bow, foliage that does/does not muffle sound, etc. You never know, so hold the correct sight pin on bottom third of the vitals. Deer drops, you pierce mid to high lungs; deer does not drop, you sear heart/low lungs. Either way, you kill deer.

I suck at physics, but I understand the speed of sound is around 1,126 fps while the fastest compound bow shoots an arrow at 360 fps or so. So no, I am reasonably sure there will never be a bow that propels an arrow that deer cannot jump (or rather duck).

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 Antlers: How They Grow in June and July

??????????????Antler tissue is the fastest growing tissue known to man. Beams and tines may grow a quarter-inch or more per day, the process driven by a buck’s hormones and the photoperiod of the summer days.

According to Missouri scientist Dr. Grant Woods, a buck’s rack will show most of its points by mid-June, though tine length is typically less than half developed at this time. Most beam length will grow by late June.

Those are general rules, but Grant points out that the growth of individual racks varies. “Some bucks will show a lot of antler growth early, while others seem to add a bunch to their rack during July,” he says.

More interesting facts about summer antlers:

–Antlers are made of bone, consisting mostly of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and other minerals. Although some of the minerals needed for antler growth are taken from food, a lot of them are sucked from the buck’s skeleton, which may cause him to develop osteoporosis during the summer. Setting mineral licks for the deer can help.

–Throughout June and July, velvet antlers have a complex system of blood vessels that causes them to be hot to the touch. Dr. Woods notes, “There is so much blood carrying protein and minerals to a buck’s antlers that even small antlers are easily detected by thermal imaging devices. Tines show up like neon signs when flying over with thermal cameras in summer.”

–Tiny hairs on the velvet stick out and make the antlers look bigger than they are. The hairs act as a radar system so the buck won’t bump into trees, fence posts, etc. and damage his soft antlers.

–Sebum, a semi-liquid secretion, on the hairs gives the velvet a shiny look. Sebum also acts as an insect repellent to keep biting flies off a buck’s rack and face.

Now is the time to set out trail cameras and monitor the racks as they grow now through mid-August.

Photo above: This image of an Illinois buck is from July 4 last year, impressive antler growth!  

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?