“Ultimate Hunting Rigs” Tonight on BIG DEER TV

florida swamp buggy

In January I traveled down to the Lake Okeechobee area and filmed a hog hunt out of this wicked swamp buggy, just one of several rigs you’ll see on this all-new episode.

rigs suburban

There’s this lifted camouflage Suburban that we used out on the Oregon high desert, as well as a vintage Toyota Land Cruiser customized for, of all things, gopher shooting…

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New custom models too, like these AEV conversion rigs.

Hunters love their trucks, and you gear heads will love this show. Tonight, Wednesday, 7 PM on Sportsman Channel (605 Direct TV) set your DVR.

Big Deer’s 2017 Moon-Rut Hunting Guide

full moon buck compress2017 rut moon phases: Full November 4…last quarter November 10…new November 18…first quarter November 26

As I have said time and again here on the blog and on BIG DEER TV, I am neither a scientist nor an astronomer. But I am a whitetail hunter and have been doing it for 40 years, more than 30 of those professionally. I’m also a moon fanatic. Over the years I figure I’ve spent between 880 and 1,000 days in a deer stand in November, during every imaginable moon phase and all waxing and waning days.

My journal notes and personal observations say that there is definitely something to the November moon and how it impacts the movements of rutting whitetails.

My 2017 predictions:

I like the way this November’s moon sets up. For starters it exposes the seeking phase of the pre-rut, when bucks start to prowl and expand their range for the first hot does. Halloween into the first week of November is a good time to bowhunt in any season. This year, with the moon waxing toward full–91% visible on November 1 to 100% bright on November 4-5–the hunting should be especially good.

If you hunt that first week of November, keep in mind that deer movement will be best near food sources in the afternoons. If a cold front sweeps into your hunt area that week, better yet.

During the full moon week of Nov. 4-11, the best buck movement will shift to the mornings. While it flies in the face of what many scientists and hunters believe, I love hunting a full moon in early November because in my experience, the deer rut hard all day. You’re apt to see a shooter on his feet at 8:00 a.m.…11:00 a.m.…2:00 p.m….any day this week, so hang on stand as long as you can.

For vacation-planning purposes:

If the land you’ll hunt has crop fields and food plots, I’d suggest you hunt the first 5 days of November. Hunt stands near the feed and focus on the afternoons. A stand on a slightly elevated ridge 100-200 yards off a corn or bean field would be a hotspot either afternoon or morning.

If the land is mostly woods with mast and greenery for deer food, think about hunting a little later, say November 5-12. Historically, if you check the record books, these are the very best days in any year to kill a monster buck. Set your stands back in the woods along trails and travel funnels—especially those with smoking-fresh scrapes–and hunt bucks seeking to hook up with does near bedding areas in the mornings.

Again, if you can hack it, stay on a deep-cover stand all day. I expect some giants to fall from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. during the big moon November 5-10.

Buck movement and rutting activity will vary some according to local conditions and weather, but for the very best chance to shoot a giant I say hunt sometime in the Nov. 2-12 window. But go when you can. You still have a decent shot into the new moon of November 17-18, though in most places the best rut will begin to slow down.

If at all possible hunt ground with minimal or no pressure, which I know is difficult. But even moderate human intrusion can turn mature bucks nocturnal and blow up your moon opportunity.

Hunt hard and safe, and good luck.

Trail-Cam Photo Friday

Hard to believe summer is about gone. You will be hunting in a matter of weeks, to further fire you up…

cam mike twitter freak buck

Mike posted this freak on Twitter; won’t score squat, but the coolest buck I’ve seen so far this year.

cam conn 1 2017

Conn sent this beauty.

mi cam scott 2017

From longtime blogger Scott: “…real nice buck that we have on camera on our property. Hope he sticks around, killer brows…”

md danny bucks

Longtime blogger Danny has been watching 30 bucks this summer, and he has thousands of cam photos. He reports, “A couple of the bachelor groups have combined.  Sunday evening there was a group of 18 bucks together.  As you can see, a couple of them were pushing a bit. Which I thought was strange since they are still in velvet. But I guess when there is that much testosterone in one spot it’s bound to happen.”

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KS 2017 big buck

The 3 photos above this caption are from an area in Kansas where I’ll be hunting and filming in early December. Their patterns will certainly have changed by then; I hope one of the bucks is still alive and around, especially the bottom one from my wireless Spartan, that’s a big deer.

drop tine 2017

We got this one picture of Drop Tine at a mineral lick in late July; we have 6 cameras running within 600 acres and have not gotten another pic of him. I’d be willing to bet we don’t get another one, amazing how some bucks are just not photogenic. They seem to have a 6th sense for avoiding cameras!

va cam 2017 2 shooters

Two more big deer that have turned up on my friend’s Virginia farm; we’ve identified at least 6 shooters, and 3 bucks that will go 150-plus. The buck on the bottom is the latest one to run the gap, one of the best places to hang a trail camera.

Good luck!

“Extreme Hunting Rigs” on BIG DEER TV

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I just got back from Montana where we filmed these customized Dodge trucks.

florida swamp buggy

Earlier this year I traveled down near Lake Okeechobee and filmed a hog hunt out of the swamp buggy pictured here.

oregon desert camp

There’s a jet boat, lifted 20-year-old camouflage Suburban and 1970s-era Land Rover fully customized for, get this, gopher shooting…

You’ll see these extreme rigs and more on an all-new and totally unique episode of BIG DEER TV this fall. Hunters love their trucks, and you’ll love this show.

How to Field Judge a Black Bear

judge bearIt’s Black Bear Week on Big Deer! Out West and up into Canada, hunters are watching baits, floating rivers or spot-and-stalking for bruins. The hunting will continue into June in some areas; here are some tips if you go.

Is that fur ball in your binoculars big enough to take a shot at? For deer hunters, a black bear can be tough to size up.

If you only have a few seconds to make your decision remember 2 things:

A mature shooter bear has big, thick shoulders and a roly-poly belly that sags low to the ground; the belly drags, or appears to. If you can see a lot of clean air between the bottom of the belly and the ground, he’s likely a young animal.

–Look at the head. Big, wide, thick noggin with small ears indicates shooter!

If you have more time—say a bear is gorging on pastries or beaver meat in front of you, or feeding easily on a greening snow-slide 150 yards away, look and study closer and use these tips from the Boone and Crockett Club.

Body Shape: Bigger bears are older bears…they tend to look “heavy” and out of shape. They monopolize the best feed and habitat, and therefore exert less energy to live.

Head Shape: A big boar will have a deeper, wider and longer snout than a smaller bear or a female bear. His ears will appear to be wide apart and small. If he is aware of you and looking your way, his ears won’t stand up on top of his head like a dog’s ears, they’ll seem to be aimed out to the side of his head. A big bear will have well-developed “bulging like Arnold” biting muscles on the top of his head.

Legs: A big bear will have massively developed front shoulders. His shoulders will look big and burly. A sow’s wrist will pinch in directly above the foot. Not so with a boar. The lower forearm, wrist and the foot on a big boar are all the same width. A big bear often appears to have shorter legs because the body is so much thicker, but keep in mind that the best-scoring bears for the records book are often the lankier looking, longer-bodied bears.

Attitude: Big bears are the toughest, meanest sons-of-a-guns in the valley and they act it. Watch a bully walk down the street–he walks with a swagger and an attitude. A big bear walks the same way. He doesn’t fit and start at every sound like a small bear will. A big bear doesn’t have to; he believes he’s got nothing to fear. Use attitude to sex a bear too. A big, old sow will have almost all of the physical characteristics of a big, old boar. She’ll have the nasty-looking face, the potbelly and the sway back. But the one thing she won’t have, except in exceptional cases, is the “I’m the biggest and baddest son of a gun in the valley.” In other words, a thick, mean-looking and acting bear is almost always a boar.