Deer Tip: How To Read A Buck’s Body Language

read buck ks gregOne November morning in Kansas, the rut was rocking when Greg Brownlee saw a doe walk out of a tree line and proceed to cross a CRP field.

She stopped and looked back. “Oh boy, this is it,” he thought.

Greg’s heart dropped as he glassed a young buck with one antler come out the trees toward the doe. Then he caught more movement—an enormous rack overtook the little buck and made for the doe!

The hunter started to get excited, but quickly took 5 deep breaths to calm down. “If I think about it too much, I could screw this thing up,” he thought.

The giant started toward the doe, but when he got about 150 yards out from Greg’s stand, he stopped and looked around slowly, like he knew something wasn’t right. He never looked Greg’s way and he didn’t spook, but turned slowly back toward the trees and Greg knew it was now or never.

He had practiced out to 200 yards with his muzzleloader, so he was confident at 150. At the shot the buck tiptoed into the trees. Greg knew the deer hit, but didn’t see him fall.

He walked over to the shot site, but found no blood. He looked around some more and started to get worried. He looked up and saw the monster lying dead in the trees 50 yards away! The 22-pointer gross-scored 218.

3 keys to the hunt:

Greg did a super job reading the buck’s body language and demeanor—and then confidently taking the shot him before the buck got away. That is a critical but often misunderstood and overlooked key to killing a big deer.

Greg took deep breaths and calmed his nerves. I don’t care how long you’ve been hunting and how many bucks you’ve shot, the exhilaration and nerves are still there…do what you can to settle down.

If you’re a blackpowder hunter, listen up: MANY times there is not a speck of blood at the shot site, especially at ranges beyond 100 yards.

The velocity of a muzzleloading bullet (even the best new ones) is relatively low, and many times you get no pass through on a buck. The bullet stays inside the deer, and with no exit hole there is little if any blood. You owe it to the deer to look and look, and grid search, and look some more. I can’t tell you how many muzzleloader bucks I’ve shot and found dead within 120 yards, with not little or no blood to go on.

Why You Should Always Tape The Muzzle of Your Hunting Rifle

hanback--WY big whitetailThis is me with a great buck I shot out in Wyoming years ago.

Minutes earlier I didn’t have that nice smile on my face. I was dazed, confused and damn lucky I hadn’t blown myself up.

It started when I shot a foot over the buck at a tad under 200 yards with solid shooting sticks. Even when I miss a deer, it’s not by that much.

The deer bolted at the bang and ran straight toward me! I bolted another 130-grainer, fired, missed again. The buck kept churning closer and closer, and I dropped him at 60 steps.

Like I said, damn lucky.

As I sat muttering and wondering what had gone wrong, I happened to look down at the barrel tip of my .270. It was split an inch!

This was a $3,000-plus custom rifle so I’m assuming no manufacturing/metallurgical problem. (Yes, that’s a lot of cash for a deer rifle, and yes I got a sweetheart writer’s deal, and yes I did have to chip in more than a month’s mortgage for it, I swear).

I figure that as I belly-crawled commando-style on an 8-pointer that I passed up the previous afternoon on that hunt, I slid the barrel too deeply along the ground and into the soft, sandy dirt and plugged the muzzle.

The first bullet cracked the muzzle tip and who knows where that one and the second bullet flew. It was a miracle I got the buck—and didn’t get hurt.

Lesson learned: I always tape the muzzle of my rifle when hunting in the snow, and you probably do too. But now I cover it with tape all the time and regardless of the weather when still-hunting and stalking, whenever I might have to crawl on a buck, or go prone in the dirt for a shot.

BTW, don’t buy the old rumor that electrical tape (what I use most often) or even heavier duct tape on the muzzle will affect your rifle and bullet’s accuracy and point of impact. It won’t! Common sense and testing here and here say any caliber bullet will blow right through tape.

Tape the rifle muzzle when hunting in the snow, sand and dirt—also when it’s raining to keep out water and prevent barrel rust.

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Dick’s Sporting Goods To Remove Firearms And Hunting Gear From 125 Stores

dicksDick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE: DKS) has announced it will remove firearms and other hunting gear from about 125 stores. The change, expected to begin August 1, will affect about 17 percent of the company’s stores.

The announcement, coupled with continuing declines in sales since 2017 (adjusted same-store sales were down 3.1% last year) lead to a 11 percent decline in stock price yesterday. Dick’s closed at $34.45 on the NYSE, down $4.28/share.

Dick’s CEO and major shareholder Ed Stack told the media that if the 125-store move “goes well” the company may remove hunting gear from more stores next year.

According to the Outdoor Wire, Stack was one of four CEOs to sign a letter supporting a gun control bill recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has also joined the business council of Everytown, the nonprofit organization founded by Michael Bloomberg that advocates for gun control.

It’s more obvious than ever that if you are a law-abiding gun owner and hunter, Dick’s does not want your business. I for one have vowed to never step foot or spend another penny in a Dick’s store again.

 

Deer Tactics For Thanksgiving Weekend

gun ground blindMost of you have several days to hunt this weekend, so after stuffing your face on Thursday, get out and try these tatics:

On Friday, November 23, on the day the moon waxes full, you need to spend most of the day in a tree stand or blind. In a North Carolina State study several years ago, researchers said that a common misconception with hunters is that  during a full moon, deer can see better at night. But according to their data, bucks actually moved less on average at night during a full moon and more during the middle of the day, and also earlier in the evenings.

With the full moon so late this November, it’s tricky to predict where the best hunting will be this weekend. Iffy in the Midwest and other regions where peak rut is early to mid-November, because some big bucks will be in lockdown. But in places where the rut typically peaks November 17-23 or so—Maine, Vermont and other Northeastern states; Virginia; and Montana to name a few—I predict good midday buck movement from November 23-25.

Great stand: Look for a timbered ridge flanked by a crop field on one or two sides and interspersed with heavy cover. Old bucks will run the ridge in or near the thick stuff.

Try this: It’s easier to hack it on stand all day if you wait until 9:00 am to climb up. Remember, this day you’re most apt to see a big boy from 11:00 am until dark.

If you can hunt November 26 and 27, do it. Most people will be back to work, or hunted out for the year, so you’ll have the woods pretty much to yourself.

In late November across the country, most does have been bred, and bucks are run down. But the survivors know the chance to breed won’t come around for another year, and so they keep moving and looking for the last 5 percent of does that are still receptive.

Great stand: You’ll likely have a west or north wind, so set up somewhere on the east side of a ridge where you can watch a wide swath of woods and thickets below. Watch for a buck cutting from one thicket to the next, hoping to find a last doe or sneaking away from man pressure.

Try this: By now bucks are spooky and unpredictable. Go to a good spot, stay positive and hunt hard. Your chances of tagging out at the tail end of the 2018 rut are better than you think. Good luck.

Oklahoma: Early-Rut Blackpowder Buck

OK Brian HOdge 2018Today’s guest blog from Brian out in Southeast Oklahoma:

This buck first showed up on my game cameras October 21st. Didn’t know him and had never seen him before. Then he was on camera again the morning of October 29 at 6:00 a.m. I hunted that evening and saw some younger bucks and does but no mature bucks. One young buck was pushing does around and grunting and roaring, so I knew they were rutting in the area. When I slipped out I left most of my equipment in the tree so I could slip in as quietly as possible the next morning.

The wind was iffy the morning of October 30th. It was warm but I had that feeling that I needed to be there. Shortly after daylight I heard him coming through the timber behind me and got ready. The buck popped out into the field at 10 yards. He caught my wind and started to leave fast. He got behind some cedars and I thought he was gone. Luckily he stayed on the edge of the field and stopped to look back one last time.

He was quartering away hard, but I made the shot and he only ran about 70 yards before going down. I was self-filming the hunt, and in my panic I didn’t hit the record button! I was bummed I didn’t get the shot on film but I didn’t let it get me down because he’s a great buck and it was a great hunt.

I was thankful and blessed to have the opportunity to hunt and take this buck. He’s my best blackpowder buck to date and my second best buck overall.– Brian Hodge, Caddo, Oklahoma.