Deer Hunting: Signpost Buck Rubs

va 2017 tyler 2Good-sized trees with scars that have healed and thickened over the years, and upon which current bucks rub their antlers each fall, are “sign-posts.”

Some biologists believe these trees are rubbed mostly by older bucks (3½ years and up). One theory is that mature bucks deposit pheromones on the rubs, and this plays an important role in the dominance and subordination process in a herd.

Does and all sizes of bucks have been observed interacting with sign-posts—they often nuzzle and smell them—but generally only mature bucks rub them hard.

Sign-posts are typically blazed in areas with high deer traffic, often near trails and scrapes, and should be markers for your strategy.

While you won’t hunt over a sign-post per se, it makes sense to scout out from the big rubs…look for cover edges, funnels and trails where bucks travel…find pockets of acorns and other spots where they eat…and hang tree stands there.

 

4 Top Trail Camera Tips

va spartan 2

Dave Skinner, pro-staff for Spartan Camera and Go Cam, offers some great tips for setting and positioning your cameras:

I like to position my cameras approximately waist high, or about eye level for deer, for the best photo quality and the best angle for judging their age, and antler score.

For the absolute best photo quality, you want to set the camera 15’ or so from the target, about waist high pointing north or south so the camera is not looking directly into the rising or setting sun.

A nice wall of vegetation behind the target will reflect the infrared flash and result in better quality photos.

If it’s a trail set, angle the camera up or down the trail for a better centered image rather than putting the camera on the edge of the trail looking directly across it. Better yet, attempt to locate the camera at a spot where 2 trails intersect, increasing your odds of photographing bucks.

252

 

Here’s What Happens When A Buck Injures A Velvet Antler

antler injurySpring through September the antler-growing cycle for whitetails is approximately 170 days. This gives a buck many opportunities to catch a velvet antler on a fence, smash it against a tree as he flees danger, etc.  

Antlers grow fast—up to an inch per day in the summer! They have a complex system of blood vessels that carry nutrients through the velvet and down into the core.

When a growing antler is broken, it bleeds profusely, and blood can pool and fill the inside of the velvet. When the hardening of the bone process occurs in September the pooled blood can create a heavy, swollen, club-like antler.

If the injury is to the pedicle (the base of an antler) then the deformity could persist for several sets of antlers or even for the rest of the buck’s life, making him a permanent non-typical. Interesting!

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) 2019 Update

cwd map 2019

On this just released CWD tracking map focus on the light-gray blocks, which show the current confirmation of the disease in wild populations of deer. Cases in north Mississippi and west Tennessee are relatively new, as is the gray block in north-central Virginia (Culpeper County), 20 miles from where I hunt.

There are CWD deniers in the hunting industry, but I am not one of them. The scientists and organizations I work with and believe in regard CWD as a real threat with the real potential to disrupt if not decimate deer populations and hunting in the future.

Every year that I look at an updated CWD map, I see the expansion of the nasty disease, and we all must take the threat seriously.

Some of the latest development you need to know:

The Quality Deer Management Association supports ending all transportation of live deer to lower the risk of spreading CWD. This includes deer breeders (no more shipping live deer from one state or region to another) and state wildlife agencies (no more capturing deer, say, in an urban area and moving them to more rural counties).

All states have enacted some version of this law: If you kill a deer in or around a known CWD area, you cannot transport the whole carcass across state lines. At a minimum you must de-bone the meat, and saw off the antlers and clean the skull cap of brain matter before you take it home.

Basically, know that the days of loading a deer in your pickup and driving home will soon be gone. The new normal will be quartering and de-boning your deer, so plan on that.

All health professionals and deer scientists say that if you shoot a deer in or near a known CWD area, have the meat tested before you eat it. Gut and clean the deer, bone out the meat, freeze it and send a sample to a lab as recommended by your state wildlife agency. Don’t consume until you get the word back that it’s CDW free.

Go online and get CWD testing info specific to your state/region and know how to have the meat tested before the 2019 season.

How Much Are Shed Antlers Worth?

shed truckloadHow much cash can you get for your shed antlers?

For starters, depends on condition and grade of the sheds:

Grade A: Antler in perfect condition, brown and beautiful, with no fading…no broken tines or chew marks…this year’s drop, antler picked up within a few weeks or months.

Grade B: Antler in good condition, still natural brown color, may be dull or faded on one side and slightly weathered, probably last year’s drop. May have slight broken tine or chip.

Grade C: Antler faded and weathered to white and chalky, on the ground for 2 or 3 years.

Here are February 2019 estimates from Antlerbuyers.com:

Elk Grade A: $13.50 a pound*
Elk Grade B: $11 a pound*
Elk Grade C: $3 a pound*

Whitetail Grade A: $10 a pound*
Whitetail Grade B: $6 a pound*
Whitetail Grade C: $2 a pound*

Mule Deer Grade A: $11.50 a pound*
Mule Grade B: $6 a pound*
Mule Grade C: $2 a pound*

Moose Grade A: $11 a pound*
Moose Grade B: $7 a pound*
Moose Grade C: $2 a pound*

*Prices estimated. Antler Buyers gets current prices every 3 months by calling, texting, or messaging 4 random antler buyers, and then averaging their prices together.

If interested in selling your antlers, click here.