2017-18 Update: Flying With Guns

pelican case

If you’ll be flying anywhere with hunting guns on a commercial airliner, follow the steps in my ultimate travel guide with guns and ammo. Then remember two additional things, based on my recent interactions with United and Delta ticket agents and the TSA.

Double down on your locks: In the old days if your hard case had 4 holes for locks, so long as you used 2 locks on the ends you were good. Not now. Every lock hole on your case must be fitted with a solid lock. I use 4 Master locks on my four-hole Pelican case. Don’t neglect this, it’s a big deal! I know a guy who didn’t have a lock for every hole on his case; TSA would not accept it and he missed his flight.

Give yourself more time: Plan to be at the airport and the ticket counter early, at least 2 hours before flight time. Flying with your gun is still pretty hassle-free, but there is more paperwork involved, and generally a ticket agent has to call a supervisor for approval. Then they call an escort, who will lead you and your gun case down to TSA where it will be inspected.

You are required to wait at TSA with your keys until the agent tells you good to go. Used to be a TSA agent swabbed my case and opened it maybe 30% of the time, but now he almost always takes the keys from me and opens it. No big deal, they are required to do it in plain sight. The process just takes more time than it used to before TSA will clear your gun and send you off to the security line.

Follow all the rules to a tee and then be nice and polite to the ticket agent and TSA people. Do what they say with a smile. I’ve heard hunters with guns question everything the airline and TSA people do, and even grumble and complain. Do that and you will be in for a major hassle. Play nice and you’ll sail through.

Minnesota Bowhunter Kills 320-Pound Buck!

MN leif 1

Hi Mike: This deer might not have a monster rack but I thought you would appreciate the sheer size of it! I arrowed this 10-point buck on public land in Minnesota in October. The brute field-dressed at 260 lbs. Then I weighed the guts too, and added that in for a total of 320 pounds! You can read the full story here. Thanks, Leif

Wow, that’s a pig! On public land impressive, way to go man!

MN leif 3

2017 Wisconsin Rut Report


Field report from our friend Kim R.:

Hi Mike: This year the deer numbers are back up close to where they should be in northwest Wisconsin. This is the best year I’ve seen in a decade for this area near Siren WI. I hope you made plans to hunt up here this year. There are some great bucks out there, a year not to be missed in my opinion.

With the rut heating up 2 of my big guys are back. A farmer a mile and half away planted soybeans so the deer were there. The good population of does remained on my place, eating the clover and oats I have planted in my food plots.

I was hoping the 6-year-old buck I call “JR” would make it back this year. He got hit by a car earlier in life and his left shoulder and knee are all arthritic. I haven’t seen him since July 2nd; he had a great start on a nice set of antlers then.

The “Boss” (photo above), 8 years old, has showed up again. His antlers are diminished due to age, but are still very impressive.

“Splitz” (the 5-year-old I sent you a photo of in July) has also come back, looking very good. (photo below).


Hope you are having a great hunting year, looking forward to the new TV episodes.—Kim

Thanks Kim! Looks like the deer are back and the bucks are big in Wisconsin, as they are across the nation this year.2017 will go down as a banner whitetail year!

November Rut-Hunting Plan

sioux falls south dakota buckThe main thing to remember for the next two weeks is that many if not most bucks will cover two or three times the terrain they traveled back in September and early October, circling and contacting as many doe units as they can, hoping to get lucky with as many does as they can. As the bucks come and go, they might not stay on your hunting property every day, but they’ll drift through from time to time, though you cannot predict when.

Right now, as bucks begin to lengthen their daily movements and roam more in daylight hours, expand your hunt area, too, if you can. Spread out, scout and hang some more tree stands in likely ambush spots with fresh sign back in the woods, on ridges and in creek bottoms. Then sit in those stands every day that you can through the middle of November. You’ll see deer on the move, including quite possibly some bucks you’ve never seen before or taken pictures of.

Hunt as many hours as you can hack it in a tree stand on each sit. You never know what time of day a shooter will show. It couldn’t hurt to lay a doe scent trail into your post each morning or afternoon; a buck moving on a long, linear travel pattern might cut it and come to investigate.

Grunt and/or rattle periodically in hopes of contacting one of those vagabond bucks and reeling him your way. Good luck and send me pictures.

3 Top Deer Rut Stands

tree stand hunter#1 Spot On: Best time, scraping/seeking, November 1-8

Details: Let’s say you spot a giant 10-pointer in a food plot or crossing a road…Once the buck moves on, sneak over there and check it out. If the nearest wooded ridge or draw is laced with fresh scrapes and rubs, Mr. Big will be back through there–maybe later that afternoon, or tomorrow morning or on the third day. But the big dude will back because he’s not yet gone on the lam for does. Move in tight, try to hang a stand on a trail near all those rubs and scrapes and hope for a shot at the buck as he trolls back through.

#2 Cover Scrape: Best phase, scraping first week of November. Now!

Details: Scout for rank scrapes back in the woods and around thickets where you know some does bed. Those are the ones an old buck is most likely to hit at dawn or dusk. You might even get the drop on a big deer checking a “cover scrape” around 9:00 or 10:00 o’clock in the morning.  Play the wind and set a bow stand 100 yards or so off a line of smoking scrapes. Hunting a ways off them lessens the odds of deer coming in and seeing or smelling you. It also gives you a better view of the cover as you watch for a big rack coming from any direction.

#3 Little Funnel: Best phases, seeking, chasing and through peak rut, November 4-18.

Details: It would be nice if every funnel were big and obvious or shaped like an hourglass, with 2 huge blocks of timber connected with a thin stem of trees or brush. But most of the best bottlenecks to watch are much more understated—and overlooked by hunters. Look close for a thin, dry strip between 2 sloughs; a low spot in a fence; an opening in a windrow…and hang your bow stand there. There are literally hundreds of nondescript terrains that affect and confine the movements of bucks; hunt there and be in position for a shot.