2018 Deer Season Kicks Off With Big Velvet Bucks

manitoba 2018

One good thing about Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is that once early deer seasons open up, big velvet bucks start popping up on your phone. From what I’ve seen so far from this anecdotal evidence, 2018 is shaping up to be a good if not great year for big racks across North America.

The buck above was killed in Manitoba, where archery season opens in August. I’ve seen a few big deer from Saskatchewan too, but Alberta has been the best, with hunters having shot several deer pushing 200 inches. This portends more huge bucks will be killed in Canada in 2018 as the rut comes on and rifle seasons open in November.

Tennessee held its first velvet buck hunt in August, and some good deer were shot. Once again, monsters were shot in early September in Kentucky, though I have not seen as many posted as last year. New Jersey, a sleeper state for archery whitetails, has produced some nice bucks.

manitoba 2018 2

It has been an unusual summer of 2018. I’ve talked to hunters across the country who have gotten far fewer big deer on their trail cameras than in summers past, though with the velvet now off more good bucks are starting to show up. It’s been like that here in the Virginia Piedmont, and I think all the rain we’ve has this summer has something to do with it.

Actually, the fact that it has been so wet in so many places this year is another reason I predict the hunting will be good this fall. Good moisture years grow big racks.

Better yet, there were minimal reports of EHD anywhere in the country, and with the first frosts coming on that threat has largely passed.

Bottom line: You have a good to great chance to shoot a big deer this season, so hunt hard and safe. Good luck!

How Will Hurricane Florence Affect Deer?

floods deerIf you are hunting in North or South Carolina or Georgia right now, Florence is going to wreck your plans for at least a week and probably longer. For many of you, access to your hunting land will be flooded and blocked. Tower stands could be blown away or damaged.

How will this massive wind and rain event affect the whitetail deer themselves? In 2 words: not much.

Many studies over the decades have shown that rising floodwaters of rivers and creeks won’t kill many if any adult deer, though it will displace the animals for days and weeks as they flee to higher and drier ground. But the deer will eventually filter back into their home habitats and core areas once the waters recede.

There is recent research to support this. A year ago, on September 10, 2017, the eye of Hurricane Irma, packing 135 mph winds and dropping 12 inches of rain, passed within 13 miles of a whitetail study area in southwest Florida monitored by researchers from Virginia Tech. Of the 60 deer that had been fitted with GPS collars in the study area, not one died during the hurricane.

The researchers did find that collared does significantly increased their movements the day of the storm. Bucks moved a little less compared to the week before. All deer selected areas with higher elevations where flooding was less likely.

Bottom line: While Hurricane Florence is not likely to kill many deer, it will certainly displace them for weeks. When things dry out and get back to semi-normal in a month or so, the hunting will be a little unpredictable as deer come and go back to their home ranges. But the bucks will be back, so hang tough.

To all in the path of Florence, good luck and be safe.

Maryland Girl Bags “Long Brow” Buck

lexi long brow 2018

Today’s guest blog from our friend Dan Myers, who had been scouting and watching a tall and symmetrical 8-pointer all summer:

I wish there was more to the story, but it happened so fast there isn’t much to it.

Opening day in Maryland it was almost 90 degrees and to no one’s surprise we didn’t see much deer movement, just one little spike. The second day the temps dropped into the low 60’s with heavy rain most of the day.  The rain stopped around 5:00 pm and we were in the blind by 6:20.

My daughter Lexi being a 7th grade girl, most of her evening was spent texting friends and playing games on her phone. I’ll admit that after an hour of staring into an empty bean field I was playing a game on my phone as well.

At 7:30 Lexi looked up, tapped my leg and said, “Daddy big buck.” I looked up as 2 nice bucks came busting out of the corn field and were now about 20 yards away. One buck was still in full velvet and the other was hard horned. According to all my recent trail cam pictures this was Long Brow and his summer buddy.

md danny lb 2018 august

I told Lexi, “Top line,” referring to her 20 yard sight.

She asked, “Which deer?”

“The big one that’s standing broadside, goofball,” I whispered.

Her shot was perfect, and he ran about 70 yards and toppled over. The entire experience lasted 15-20 seconds at the most.  There was no time for nerves to set in, until after the shot. We both sat and shook for 10 minutes!

I am very proud of my princess, but her taxidermy bills are starting to add up.—Thanks, Dan

Way to go Lexi, beautiful deer! The symmetrical rack scores 136.

3 September Spots for Trail Cameras

va 2018 va buck

If you’ll be setting out or moving trail cameras this week, try:

ONE: A small clearing in the woods 50 to 75 yards off an alfalfa, soybean or clover field. Mature bucks like to hang out in these areas in late afternoon this time of year.

TWO: A little bottleneck of thick cover (image) on a deer trail that leads into a feed field or clover plot.

THREE: If you spot a big shooter buck in a field, sneak in the back door and set a camera on the nearest creek crossing, swampy bottom, etc. you can find in the nearby woods. As summer deepens, mature bucks spend a lot of time hanging out near water in low, thick, shady areas where it is cooler.

Hunters: Beware Illegal Pot on Public Land

pot

As deer seasons open across the country, if you hunt public land, you need to be on the lookout for pot gardens, which authorities refer to as “illegal cartel marijuana grows.”

California has the most of these illicit operations. In an ominous announcement, DEA Agents and California Game Wardens say a cartel “owns” every national forest, national park, state park and wildlife refuge in the state.

Marijuana grows have been found in 23 states and on 72 national forests. Other states with significant cartel gardens on national forests, parks and BLM lands include Colorado, Oregon, Michigan and Wisconsin. Farther east and south, the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky is known to have lots of illicit pot growing.

As authorities point out, this is big business. Larger pot grows are in excess of 1,000 plants per site, and some can go up to 200,000 plants. Each plant has a street value of over a million dollars. Illicit growers protect their crops. And early fall, before temperatures drop to freezing, is prime harvest time.

You need to be on your toes and aware of your surroundings as you scout and hunt for deer on public land. Most of the growers are heavily armed and trails leading to grows are frequently booby trapped with trip wires and punji pits. Also, growers are now using deadly illegal chemicals to grow their pot, and these pose a serious threat to an innocent hunter who stumbles across them.

What do you look for? How do you avoid a potentially dangerous encounter?

pot pipes

Authorities point out that most pot gardens are irrigated by black plastic irrigation pipes that carry water from up to a half mile away. You might spot a man-made pool or a small dam on a stream where chemicals are added. These criminals are trashy. If you spot lots of junk, propane tanks, old tarps, etc. in an area, be on red alert.

You can also detect marijuana plants by their odor, which can have a skunky smell.

You may overhear voices, typically speaking Spanish. Law enforcement notes that some 85% of all growers they catch are illegals.

In all these cases, quietly retreat and retrace your trail back to your vehicle. Don’t linger at the site, or touch anything that looks out of the ordinary. When you are safely out of the woods, call 911 with the location of the illegal grow.

Be careful out there and good luck.

Source: The Outdoor Wire