Getting Archery Close To Large Flocks Of Spring Turkeys

Getting Archery Close To Large Flocks Of Spring Turkeys

By: Heath Wood

The Challenge of Flocks

When a hunter learns of an area that holds large flocks of wild turkeys, they quickly assume that the chances of making the harvest would be much easier. These areas typically allow the opportunity to call at several different turkeys compared to two or three gobblers in smaller flocks.

When talking with Drury Outdoors team member Josh Sparks about how easy it is to harvest a turkey in large flocks, he explained that hunters should be ready for a challenge even though it may seem easier. While hunting recently in Nebraska on their annual turkey trip, Sparks says that he and his hunting buddies faced significant challenges before success. These challenges consisted of staying hidden from larger flocks, calling against other turkeys, and taking them with a bow, making the hunt much more complicated.

Sparks and a few of his friends from college have a tradition that consists of an annual trip to Nebraska in late March to create a more challenging hunt. “In late March, it gives us a chance to get some early season action when turkeys are still in their winter flocks,” said Sparks, explaining they take along their bows and try to get archery close to large, numbered flocks to enhance their encounter.

Early Stages Of A Hunt

Getting Archery Close To Large Flocks Of Spring Turkeys

When Sparks and his friends arrived to hunt, the first thing on their to-do list was to locate the large winter flocks. “Our hunt was scheduled for March 25th, so we elected to arrive on the 24th to touch base with landowners and secure our places to hunt,” stated Sparks. After ensuring that all designated areas were ready to hunt, Sparks described how they tried to locate turkeys.

After looking at Deer Cast to see an increased chance of high winds, Sparks explained that they had two types of properties that he and his friends could hunt. The first was high up in the hills, and the other was low on a river bottom. With the forecasted 25 to 30 mph winds, Sparks stated they elected to hunt in lower bottoms. “When filming our hunts, audio is a large key to the quality of the hunt. When hunting large flocks, the range of vocalizations that can be heard is higher, so we elected to hunt in the bottoms on our first morning.”

When it came to locating turkeys before the hunt, Sparks described how they recalled having previous luck in bottoms such as the river bottom; turkeys were scavenging and going wherever the cattle had been. “Turkeys seem to follow behind the cattle to pick up leftover feed, and they like to turn over the cow patties to find bugs and extra feed.” On Sparks and his friend’s setup, they decided to sit between a large row of pine and cedar trees that ran along the north side of the river and created an excellent windbreak while hunting. Now that they had found turkeys, the next challenge became calling the large flock into archery range.

Getting In Range For A Great Harvest

When trying to call a gobbler into range, the challenge is extremely high because of competition from other turkeys. “It is tough to do a lot of good calling where we were hunting,” said Sparks. He added, “Where we hunted, there were 150 to 200 turkeys in the flocks, so competing against that many real turkeys is almost impossible.” Sparks explained that the key is to get in between the flocks and where they travel on their daily routine. Let the decoys and the mimicking of other turkeys do the work when hunting larger flocks.

Early on the morning of their hunt, Sparks explained how they packed in the Muddy Outdoors’ new VS360 blind to stay out of the wind, stay concealed while filming, and have room to draw their bows when ready to shoot. “The blind easily set up in approximately 15 to 20 seconds; it had more than enough room to draw my bow, and the blackout interior of the blind helped keep us stay concealed. The VS360 is lightweight enough that we carried it in that morning.”

Outside of the Muddy blind, at 20 yards, Sparks described how they used the Avian X LCD Jake, the Laydown Hen, and an Upright Hen to help attract turkeys into the archery range.

Getting Archery Close To Large Flocks Of Spring Turkeys

When using decoys, Sparks explained that using a Jake decoy helped create jealousy from the more mature toms, resulting in them coming closer to check it out. On Sparks’ hunt, he believes the Avian X decoys attracted the attention of a jake who came closer than began yelping. “The jake helped us bring in my gobbler. When the jake began yelping, I started yelping back.” After Sparks began calling back at the jake, he added a few fighting purrs that eventually attracted the tom closer as the jake approached the decoys. “After the gobbler followed the jake to the decoys, he flogged them, allowing me to draw my bow and make a successful shot,” stated Sparks.

During the remainder of Sparks and his friend’s early-season Nebraska turkey hunt, they used the Muddy Outdoors blinds, the Avian X decoys, and aggressive calling to finish their hunt with four different harvests. Sparks and his friends’ success is proof that even though there is a challenge when hunting large flocks of turkeys, success can be achieved if done correctly.

Getting Archery Close To Large Flocks Of Spring Turkeys

 

 

 

3 Tips For Early Season Turkey Hunting Success

3 Tips For Early Season Turkey Hunting Success

The Early Season

In most places across the United States, the spring turkey season typically commences during March or April. The only states that do not open during this time are the northern states which hunt during May.

Depending on weather conditions for that spring, the earlier portions of spring turkey hunting can be challenging for hunters. The trials during the early season come from the lack of green foliage and cover while walking or trying to call in a gobbler. Another challenge presented during the early season is that turkeys are in the first portion of their breeding season and can be shy to come to specific calls. Below are three tips for early-season success.

Stay Put- Use A Ground Blind

One of my favorite tactics for spring turkey hunting is to get as close to the roost as possible before setting up to call. Unfortunately, during the early season, that isn’t always a possibility. With low temperatures, the leaves have yet to bloom out into total growth. And the leaves on the underbrush are slower to grow as well. Making your way through the timber without being spotted by turkeys is harder when new growth is behind schedule.

When the spring foliage is slow-growing, a hunter should stay patient and use a ground blind such as the Muddy Prevue 3 to help keep concealment. Often, hunters will have their blinds set up before hunting. By having the blind in place before hunting, the hunter can ease into the area before daylight, then begin calling as the day breaks without being seen by nearby turkeys.

One of the most prominent mistakes hunters make during the early portion of the season is trying to make a move to get into a better position to call, only to be caught by the gobblers’ keen eyesight. By spooking a gobbler early, the hunter runs the risk of not being able to call in that specific bird for the rest of the season. The hunter should be patient and use a ground blind as their primary source of concealment to ensure success for the remainder of the season.

3 Tips For Early Season Turkey Hunting Success

Use A Jake Decoy

During the earlier spring portion, male turkeys are in a pecking order to find out who the dominant bird is. If the pecking order has already been established, using a jake decoy like the Avian X HDR Jake Decoy can lure a mature gobbler into shooting range because the dominance is still fresh on the mind. A jake decoy placed near a hen decoy is typically the perfect setup for the early season. When a mature tom encounters a jake decoy, he thinks that jake will breed one of his hens before he does, triggering a desire to fight. The dominant urge to whip up on the jake decoy can bring a mature tom running in from a distance.

As the season progresses, mature gobblers have often been whipped by other gobblers at some point. Using a jake or tom decoy in the latter portion of the season can detour a gobbler from coming closer because of the fear of getting into another exhausting battle with another gobbler. Instead, use the jake decoy during the early season and tag out early.

3 Tips For Early Season Turkey Hunting Success

Use Calls At A Lesser Volume

Another common mistake that turkey hunters make during the early season is calling too loud. Although calling too much or too loud is a mistake hunters can make throughout the entire season, the early season is subject to calling with too much volume because of less foliage on the trees. When there are few leaves on the trees, the sounds of a hunter calling carry for a longer distance.

It is crucial to keep the calling at a lower volume to avoid spooking a gobbler who is nearby. Using calls such as purring, clucks, and soft yelps is ideal when sound travels farther. Often, hunters can use a slate call or a pot-style call to mimic the sounds of a hen softly purring while feeding through the leaves. Purring with an occasional cluck and soft yelps keeps the gobbler curious about where the hen is located, causing him to search, which leads him into closer range.

It is vital to use decoys when calling open areas. When there is less cover throughout the timber during the early season, gobblers will often be cautious about responding to a hunter’s calling. When the gobbler can see for longer distances, he constantly looks ahead to spot the hen making all the calls. If he doesn’t see anything, the gobbler doesn’t feel safe and becomes weary to come any closer. Again, softer calling can also make the gobbler search for the hen. If calling too loud, the gobbler can hang up outside of shooting range until he sees the hen, then respond.

The beginning of the spring turkey season can often create an unexplainable urgency among hunters, inducing a feeling that they must hunt hard until they can make a harvest. The spring turkey season is only a few short weeks, and then it is over. Slow down, be patient and enjoy a successful season.

3 Tips For Early Season Turkey Hunting Success

Keep Scrape Cameras Going For Late Season Success

Keep Scrape Cameras Going For Late Season Success

By: Heath Wood

Don’t Touch That Camera

During October and November, many hunters use game cameras to monitor scrapes. The scrapes may be natural initially made from a nearby buck or a mock scrape. Either way, both make for great scouting tools when used in conjunction with a game camera.

The end of October is the period when scrapes began seeing increased activity from bucks and does. As November begins, so does the scrape activity until bucks begin desperately seeking does to breed. When bucks begin the seeking phase of the rut, it is as if the scrape activity gets turned off like that of a light switch. When scrape activity decreases, hunters often elect to take their cameras and move on to another area. However, if hunters leave cameras going on scrapes throughout the rut, bucks will return afterward, making a great scouting tool again for the late season.

Eight Bucks and One Kill

Keep Scrape Cameras Going For Late Season Success

For the past two years, I have monitored scrapes with Muddy cellular cameras. I have recently been using the Muddy Manifest camera to know when and who is visiting scrapes. On October 20th of 2021, I accidentally fell into the perfect game camera setup on a natural scrape. I had placed my Muddy Manifest on the edge of a CRP field, facing towards a barbed wire fence where deer often entered the field. On November 2nd, 2021, I got a text on my phone saying I had a new photo available that had been taken on that camera setup. When I opened my command app to see what the picture would reveal, I was surprised to see a buck making a scrape; he was leaving his scent on the overhead licking branch in the left corner of the picture frame. That day, eight different bucks visited the same scrape, along with multiple does. The Manifest camera captured great photos for the next three days, showing bucks and does using the scrape. As predicted, a week or two later, the deer stopped using the scrape, and I began seeing more rut activity on other places of the farm.

One of the last pictures that I received from the Manifest camera was of a mature eight-pointer who was nose-down, trailing a doe in the photo. On November 18th, 2021, I was in a Hawk Down & Out Blind when after encountering several different deer that morning, I caught the movement of a buck coming out of the timber at one hundred and eighty yards. After a glance through the binoculars, I knew this was potentially a shooter buck. I placed my 6.5 Creedmoor rifle into position, resting on the frame of the blind window. After finding the buck in my scope, I quickly made confirmation that the buck was the same buck that I had witnessed on camera a couple of weeks prior while chasing a doe. When the mature ten-pointer walked into a clear opening at one hundred and fifty yards, I grunted with my natural voice to get the buck to stop. I squeezed the trigger when the buck stopped, making a great shot on one of my targeted bucks.

The Second Rut

Although I was out of buck tags for my home state of Missouri, I left the Manifest camera in position over the same scrape from weeks prior. My curiosity wanted to see when deer would begin revisiting the scrape and if any other mature bucks would visit. Like clockwork, the day after Thanksgiving, does begin coming to the scrape, soon followed by two or three different bucks. I am anxious to see how long the scrape will be active during the second round of scrape usage.

Some may ask why does and bucks begin using the same scrapes for the second time. The first to the second week of December bucks and does go into what is referred to as the second rut. The second rut is when younger does who didn’t go into estrus during the November rut or does that didn’t get bred will come into heat. It is essential to note that the second rut that occurs later in the season is not as action-packed as the November rut. However, the second rut can be a great time to score on a mature buck if one still has an unfilled tag. When does do not get bred, they begin leaving their scent when they go into estrus again. At the same time, bucks often revisit scrapes to check in on those does who did not get bred. If one keeps their game cameras running in-between time, they will know the exact moment when the chase commences the second time. When scrape activity begins to spark interest again, it is vital to be in the stand hunting. Remember, only a few does did not get bred the first time. The action won’t last long, be in the stand and ready, and you could fill that buck tag before it expires for the year.

Keep Scrape Cameras Going For Late Season Success

Tips And Tricks For Bowhunting In A Ground Blind

Tips And Tricks for Bowhunting in A Ground Blind

By: Heath Wood

One of the biggest challenges bowhunters face is getting close enough to an animal to shoot accurately. This challenge thrills a bowhunter and drives them to put in hard work each season.

When a hunter is trying to get an animal into a comfortable shooting range, they must devote the time and effort to get a result that ends in their favor. The required efforts include scouting, hanging tree stands, and putting up permanent box blinds. However, many of today’s hunters are hunting from a portable ground blind. When these efforts result in a mature buck on the ground, the hunter feels a rush of excitement that comes from getting an intelligent and respected animal into archery range.

Portable ground blinds have an array of advantages when used to get archery close to deer. Hunters can better stay concealed, resulting in a more versatile hunter that can move wherever the deer movement is the most predictable. Other advantages include having more room to draw a bow, staying out of mother nature’s elements, and the list goes on. The point of the matter is, more bowhunters are using ground blinds than ever before. Below are a few tips and tricks when using a blind on your next archery hunt.

Have The Proper Bow & Setup

One of the common excuses for not using a ground blind is not having enough room to draw a bow correctly and make the shot. Two tips will result in having the proper setup to shoot a bow correctly while in a ground blind. One is making the right choice on the ground blind itself. It is vital to choose a ground blind that has plenty of room horizontally and vertically. The hunter needs to have space to fit a chair, all their gear, and enough room to draw their bow to full draw without hitting or rubbing against the blind. If there is not adequate room, one can spook deer by hitting the blind while trying to draw or, even worse, having interference that may cause a poor shot that could wound an animal or make the hunter miss entirely.

The Muddy Prevue 3 is an excellent choice of ground blind for the bowhunter. The Prevue 3 is rated as a three-person ground blind with a 73” by 73” shooting width, 58” x 58” footprint, and a standing height of 66”. The large area of the Muddy Prevue 3 makes it ideal for the bowhunter to have more than enough room to draw and shoot without any deflections. Another great feature of the Muddy Prevue 3 blind is the two full-width panoramic windows of one-way see-through mesh. The sizeable see-through mesh window allows the hunter a wider field of view of their surroundings, allowing them to know the exact time to draw on a deer when approaching.

The second part of a proper setup is to have the right bow and accessories. Even with a larger area inside, shooting a bow from a blind narrows room for movement. It is vital to use a bow with a smaller axle to axle measurement or a crossbow to ensure there is more than enough room to shoot. I use the Bear Archery Whitetail Legend bow for hunting inside of ground blinds. The Whitetail Legend has excellent maneuverability by featuring a 32” axle-to-axle measurement. With the smaller height bow, I can move around in the blind to get into position for the shot without bumping the blind. Another must-have when hunting inside a blind is a well-illuminated sight, such as the Apex Gear MAGNITUDE series. The MAGNITUDE five-pin sight features the PRO-BRITE pin design that increases brightness without crowding the sight picture. A shooter’s ring design has better peep sight alignment and glow-in-the-dark visibility, perfect for shooting inside of a dark blind.

Tips And Tricks For Bowhunting In A Ground Blind

Placement Of Ground Blind

A ground blind has long been used for sitting in open areas where visibility is more significant. However, when setting up for bow hunting deer, one must be more specific to where the blind is set up. As a rule of thumb, most bowhunters have an accurate shooting range of forty yards or less. Many of today’s bowhunters can shoot accurately at father distances, yet it is forty yards or less on average. To guarantee the blind is in the correct position, use a range finder and place the blind near objects or areas where deer will be. When setting up a ground blind for bowhunting, I find natural areas such as travel, water, and food sources. When I find natural areas, I try to narrow down where deer will travel within forty yards or less when passing by. To narrow down the area, I try to locate where deer enter the food source or what point of a water source deer come to most often. I look for other points of natural interest barriers, such as a log or a fence that narrows down a deer’s travel route.

Another great way to narrow deer within the shooting range of a blind is by using an attractant to draw deer to a specific spot. For example, using deer decoys to help lure deer within range. When setting up a decoy, I use my Halo XL450 rangefinder to range exactly twenty yards from my blind, then place the decoy into position. By having a decoy at twenty yards, I know when a deer gets nearby the decoy, it is well within comfortable shooting range. Another attractant a hunter can use is a deer scent on a wick or in a mock scrape. On many occasions, I have used scents such as Buck Bombs 2 Hot Does liquid that comes with a scent wick to hang on a tree limb or brush nearby the hunting area. Another attractant to draw deer within a specific range is Doe in Estrus, used with a Scent Hammock over a mock scrape. Either scent choice gives a specific location for a deer to come.

The challenge that invokes the drive for bowhunters to put so much work into a blind and bow set up and take the proper steps to ensure they are within bow range is time and effort well spent when it creates the perfect scenario to close the deal on a trophy buck.

Proper Stand Approach

Proper Stand Approach

By: Heath Wood

Whenever my coworkers and I would gather around reminiscing about past hunting adventures, the oldest of our group would be lingering around in the background, listening to our stories. He was an older man who worked a few days a week, only to have something to do. Yet, he was full of knowledge on football, baseball, and my favorite, deer hunting. After hearing our stories of past hunts, he would always chime in to give his opinion and tell us how people hunted in his earlier years. After the gentleman took me to his house one day to show off his trophy wall, I decided I should probably pay attention to his strategies, judging from the quality of deer displayed on his walls.

Out of ten plus years working with this gentleman before he sadly passed away, one of the best pieces of deer hunting advice that he shared was how he approached his stands in the mornings and left them when the hunt was over. It was unique in the way that he was sitting in his stand, ready to go, two hours before first light. His dedication and attention to detail paid off for him by harvesting multiple mature bucks in his lifetime.

Proper Stand Approach

One of the biggest mistakes made by hunters is pressuring deer away from their area hunting. When trying to harvest a mature buck, whether with a bow or rifle, the more painstaking effort one puts out, the more likely they will succeed. Three things can cause pressure. The deer see, smell, or hear something they do not like, alarming them enough to spook out away from the hunter. The older gentlemen that I had the privilege to work with spoke of stand approach often. He explained that he would sneak his way into his treestand two to three hours before daylight so that he didn’t push away any deer. He still had time for the woods to calm back down before legal shooting light when he performed this maneuver.

Approaching Your Stand

Approaching the stand correctly is vital to keep mature bucks in the area where you are hunting. Having an entrance and exit route that is the shortest distance isn’t always the most important. Instead, one must approach the stand with the wind direction in the face to prevent human scent from drifting into the area where deer will be approaching when hunting. Other factors for the proper entrance route are walking on a quieter surface, such as a road, creek bed, or bare dirt. The more the hunter can walk without being heard, the less likely deer will be alarmed, causing them to flee the area. When walking to my stand in the morning, I allow myself time to get there quietly. One factor in helping to go to the stand is knowing where to travel in the dark. I do not want to make unnecessary steps or noise because I don’t know exactly where I am going. I use the Muddy Outdoors Remote Beacon Illuminator to steer me in the right direction to prevent getting off course. The Remote Beacon Illuminator is a multidirectional green LED light that attaches to the treestand. With the aid of a compact remote, the hunter can signal a flashing light from up to three hundred yards to help locate their stand early in the morning.

Proper Stand Approach

In the ideal condition, I prefer my stand approach to come in on the backside. I try not to cross or walk in the areas where deer will be approaching my stand area when I am hunting. I attempt to keep the wind in my face and stay hidden from any deer in the area. Using the terrain and structure such as trees or brush helps to keep the hunter concealed and from being silhouetted by deer in the distance.

Planning Leads to Success

Planning out an entrance and exit route must start when hanging stands before the season. After scouting has been done and a stand sight has been selected, think about how you will enter and exit before hanging the stand.

A month before my home state of Missouri’s opening day of last year’s firearms season, I hung a Muddy Odyssey XTL ladder stand near the edge of a narrow pinch point that separated two large stands of timber.  I found a grown-up fence row that led within a few feet of the tree where my stand was hung to make the set better. When the opening morning of the Missouri firearms began, I eased my way down the fence row to stay hidden and climbed into my stand approximately an hour before the first shooting light. When the light started to build across the open field, I caught a glimpse of a nice ten-pointer who was cruising across the open area in search of a hot doe. After a quick minute of watching the buck through my scope, I was able to squeeze the trigger and make a successful shot at a mere fifty yards. Within the first few minutes of legal hunting light, I had a mature southern Missouri whitetail buck on the ground.

Just as my late veteran co-worker had always told me, this was accomplished by easing to my stand quietly an hour before hunting.

Manage Your Scent

After a stand approach has been planned, stands are in place, and it is time to hunt. There is one last measure to take to ensure a smooth entrance. That step is to remain as scent-free as possible. As mentioned earlier, the approach must always be with the wind in the face when walking. However, as a bit of insurance, it is necessary to use scent elimination products as well. I wear carbon-based clothing that absorbs and prevents odors in conjunction with Scent A Way Laundry Detergent. After dressing in the field, I spray down my complete body, feet, and hunting gear with Scent A Way odorless spray. By spraying down last, I am confident I will not leave any odors along the path to my stand that could spook deer.

By paying attention to details such as where to hang stands, wind direction, subtleness, and scent control, you will have assembled the perfect combination to a practical stand approach. When all these factors are considered, deer feel less pressure, keeping them on their natural travel routes, making them easier to pattern when hunting.

 

5 Reasons To Use A Ground Blind When Deer Hunting

5 Reasons To Use A Ground Blind When Deer Hunting

By: Heath Wood

For deer hunters, ground blinds have become more prevalent in the last twenty years than any other product on the market. They are easy to put up and take down; they keep you, the hunter, hidden better than ever before, and let’s admit it, you can hunt more comfortably when there is room to move without being busted by a nearby deer.

Even though the popularity of ground blinds has increased over the years, there are still some who haven’t experienced for themselves how practical a ground blind can be. When used in certain situations, a ground blind can be the answer to keeping you out in the field long enough for that big trophy buck to show himself finally.

If you’re not entirely sold on the idea of using a blind, below are five reasons to use a ground blind that will make you a better deer hunter.

Muddy G

  1. Youth Hunting 

As hunters, we must pass on the tradition of hunting to the next generation. If one has ever hunted with kids, they know that the time leading up to the harvest is critical when making a good impression on a first-time hunter. Children can get bored quickly; they want to move, they often can get cold, which cuts the hunt short. To make a more enjoyable experience for a first-time hunter, a ground blind can be the answer.

Using a blind such as the Muddy Prevue 3 blind is a great way to hunt with kids or first-time hunters. The Prevue 3 is a three-person blind, measuring 58” X 58” with a 66” standing height. The large area of the Prevue 3 allows youth to take a chair with them to sit comfortably and allow them to move their legs and body throughout the hunt without being seen by wildlife. Being comfortable is essential when wanting to spend more time outdoors hunting.

On colder days when staying warm is a factor, I have had kids bring along a blanket and even a small heater to help stay warm. If they are comfortable, they have more fun.

I also suggest bringing along a good pair of binoculars for youth to use while hunting. Using a set of optics keeps them involved in the hunt, gives them something to do, and makes the entire experience more enjoyable. The Prevue 3 blind features one-way see-through mesh, allowing them to see more of the action from the inside without being seen by wildlife looking in from the outside.

5 Reasons To Use A Ground Blind When Deer Hunting

 

  1. Rainy Days

There is a famous saying; “you can’t kill them from the couch.” Hunters do not like sitting in a stand getting soaked on rainy days. Some hunters even elect to stay inside and wait on more ideal conditions before hunting. The more serious hunters refuse to allow anything to keep them from their pursuit of a trophy whitetail. Especially during the rut when you never know when the big buck will appear, even in the pouring down rain.

Many hunters will keep a ground blind in place to ensure no missed opportunity, saving it for a rainy day. When a blind is in place near an open area such as a food plot or crop field, hunters can sit inside a dry ground blind, watching these open areas for deer movement.

Staying dry keeps the hunter warmer, more comfortable, and like hunting with a child, keeps the hunting time going longer.

  1. No Place For A Tree Stand

One of the best tips for finding the top stand location or blind set up is not looking for a place or a tree that looks good but finding a place where deer travel. I am guilty of finding an area with a large number of deer signs, then starting to find a good tree for my stand. The problem is that sometimes that best-looking tree may pull me from the specific area where deer travel. When there is no tree in the exact spot to be a good treestand set, I elect to use a ground blind instead.

When using a ground blind, hunters can place it where the deer sign is prominent. Better blind placement will provide more shot opportunities when deer travel through the area, especially when bowhunting. Unavailable trees for hanging a stand can also occur when hunting near a crop field; white-tailed deer often feed and travel along the edges of the crops. To ensure that you are in the right place to provide a shot opportunity, you must be set up near the edge where there are no trees. A ground blind tucked up next to standing crops allows excellent concealment to get close to the deer.

Another great location to use a ground blind is when hunting an area that has been logged or features a lot of brushy areas. I have hunted areas that have been logged and found that deer movement is still good, yet there are often no trees big enough to hang a treestand. When no trees are available, I find where deer are traveling, then set up my ground blind instead.

Muddy ground blinds

  1. Cold Weather

It is common for temperatures to start falling below freezing in the mornings and evenings during the late season. Late-season hunters usually sit on food sources to catch deer storing up on food to stay warm and prepare for the winter ahead. Long sits in broad open areas such as crop fields, or food plots can become challenging to sit for an extended time.

To catch mature bucks up on their feet during the late season, one may have to sit until the very last light of the day. To sit all day and stay warm, a ground blind can make the hunt more enjoyable. Inside a blind, the hunter can keep out of the bone-chilling wind, plus one can use a small heater or dress heavily in insulated late-season gear. When sitting in colder temperatures while in a ground blind, I take my Yeti tumbler with hot coffee to help keep my body warm. If in a treestand, I could not get by with the movement, compared to sitting inside a concealed blind.

 

  1. Scent Control 

Scent control is on the top of my priority list each time that I deer hunt. I am a true believer in using a complete scent elimination regimen. My system consists of using Scent-A-Way laundry detergent on my hunting garments, spraying down my clothes, boots, and gear with Scent-A-Way odorless spray, as well as spraying down the exterior of my Muddy Blind with Scent-A-Way. To further my scent control practices, when hunting in an area where many deer will be at one time, such as a food plot, I like sitting in a ground blind to help control my human odors.

Sitting inside an enclosed area such as a ground blind helps mask the human odor from drifting in the breeze throughout the area you are hunting. Even though I still pay attention to wind direction and the use of scent elimination products, being inside of a confined ground blind is one more step to gain an advantage against one of the best noses in the wild.

When sitting in a ground blind overlooking a food source with several deer, I determine which way the wind is blowing and then close the downwind side of the blind to help deflect human scent away from nearby deer. In doing this, I can draw deer within bow range without them ever knowing I’m in the area.

The ground blind can often mislead hunters into thinking it is only to be used for the lazy hunter who wants to sit in a chair and wait on deer to appear. Today’s ground blinds are lighter weight than ever before. They are easy to carry and set up, and as explained with the above tips, hunters have discovered that they can be used as an effective tool in a deer hunter’s arsenal to become a more successful hunter.

5 Reasons To Use A Ground Blind When Deer Hunting

Bow Hunting Turkeys | Tips And Gear For Spring Gobblers

Bow Hunting Turkeys | Tips and Gear for Spring Gobblers

Tactics and Gear List for Bow Hunting Turkeys

More and more archery hunters are spring turkey hunting. They choose the bow over the shotgun for the challenge and the reward of harvesting a gobbler with a bow. The challenge is real, but with the right gear and a few key tips for bow hunting turkeys, it becomes less intimidating. 

There are many articles out there on spring turkey hunting with a bow. Instead of going through the basics, we are going to focus on more advanced tactics and some specialized turkey hunting gear for archery hunters. 

Turkey Hunting with a Bow

Spring gobbler hunting, particularly with a bow, has a different level of complexity. First, you still have to win the battle between you and the turkey. They pose a formidable challenge, even without incorporating a bow as your weapon of choice. Second, the turkey hunting equipment is different. Unlike hunting turkeys with a shotgun, there are more pieces of gear to manage and work with. Finally, the setup is non-traditional. Because of the movement involved, you have a hard time killing a bird without utilizing a blind, which is often new for many turkey hunters. Let’s continue with a few advanced strategies for bow hunting turkeys. 

Bow Hunting Turkeys | Tips And Gear For Spring Gobblers

Advanced Tips and Tactics for Bow Hunting Turkeys

Harvesting a bird in spring with a bow rarely happens by chance. It takes a lot of effort and skill to put a gobbler on the ground. Here are the tactics that get it done. 

Spend More Time Scouting Than Hunting

Unlike hunting with a shotgun for spring turkeysa bow hunter has less opportunity to chase birds. The run-and-gun tactics you hear so much about, and which are successful, don’t apply here. Scouting then becomes more critical.  

Scouting hard in the preseason allows you to know where a mature bird roosts, where he lands in the morning, where he feeds, and where he travels during the day. This information allows you to set up appropriately and ambush him at any point during the day.  

Trail cameras are an important tool when scouting birds for spring turkey huntingYou can’t be everywhere and you don’t want to bump birds before the season, so use trail cameras to gather information before spring turkey season. 

  • Scout multiple areas at the same time using trail cameras starting in February and continuing through the season.  
  • Don’t stop scouting once the season starts. Gobblers will change patterns as the season progresses and in-season scouting will allow you to plan hunts more effectively. 
  • Scout from a distance when you are in the field. Don’t bust bird while scouting. Doing so can destroy an entire area for turkey hunting season. 
  • Save your calling for the season. Calling during preseason scouting can lead to call-shy birds once the season starts. 

Multi-purpose Turkey Decoys

Turkey hunting decoys are not only for luring a gobbler into shooting range. You need to think of them from multi-purpose perspective. First, yes they do act as an attractant. In combination with calling, a decoy will almost always improve your chances of harvesting a birdBut the other purpose they serve is to distract a gobbler. Use them to your advantage. The correct setup will not only bring a bird in, but they will distract them so you can get a good shot. 

Correct turkey decoy placement is key. You need to know how far to shoot a turkey effectively with your bow setup. Decoys need to be close enough for a good shot but not too close to make a bird suspicious. Also, keep them on your shooting side and position your blind between them and where you think the bird will come from. 

You don’t need a flock of decoys. Turkeys in spring turkey season rarely group up in large flocks. Likewise, your decoy setups should only include a few birds. For most situations, a jake and hen setup or a single hen is all you need. 

 

Vary Calling Techniques

Bow hunting turkeys requires the ability to use a mouth call (because your hands need to be free)Be able to at least yelp, cutt, and purr with a mouth call. However, don’t limit your calling to only mouth calls. Use a box call or slate call for projecting over distances and then switch to a good mouth call as they approachCombo turkey call kits like those available from H.S. Strut™ provide the right mix of calling techniques in one package. 

Turkey Hunting Blind Strategies

Tackling turkey hunting season in the spring with a bow almost always occurs from a ground blind. Whether you hunt from a traditional ground blind or a bale blindthey both provide the necessary concealment to be able to draw on a closing gobbler. These strategies for spring bow hunting turkeys from a blind will improve your chances. 

  • Close all the windows in the blind except for the one where you expect to shoot from. This keeps you more concealed and able to reposition when needed. Although make sure the closed windows are easily opened. A hungup bird or one that approaches unexpectantly may require you to adjust your setup. 
  • Keep the inside of the blind free of debris (e.g., leaves, sticks, and other clutter)You don’t want anything that will create noise inside your turkey hunting blind, especially when a bird is close and you need to reposition. 
  • Be smart about blind placement. Turkeys are less curious than deer about something that looks out of place, such as a blind in the middle of a field. However, it still makes sense to use a bale blind or place a blind in a concealed spot to eliminate suspicion. 

Vital Turkey Bow Hunting Gear for Spring Birds

The right gear puts birds on the ground in the spring. This turkey bow hunting gear list is focused on just that, the archery hunter. Of course you’ll also need the standard turkey hunting gearbut we are also focusing on specific turkey hunting equipment for bow hunters. First, here’s a basic list of six items every turkey hunter needs (besides the bow/shotgun): 

  1. Turkey calls
  2. Camo apparel (black clothing inside a hunting blind)
  3. Decoys
  4. Boots (snake or rubber)
  5. Insect repellant
  6. Turkey hunting vest (or pack)

Specifically for bow hunting turkeys, the additional items below when combined with the basics above complete your turkey hunting gear for spring. 

Turkey Hunting Blind

Not all turkey hunting blinds are created equal. There are good ones and ones that have other purposes. Choosing a hunting blind for turkeys requires a few considerations. Design, size, and features like concealment and weather resistance, all play a factor. Turkey hunting blinds have to have a large open space to draw from. Don’t think that as a bow hunter you can just set one up and be ready to hunt. You need to practice from them just as you would practice from a tree stand for deer season. 

Bow Hunting Turkeys | Tips And Gear For Spring Gobblers

Rangefinder

Any kind of spring turkey hunting requires you to know the shot distance. You have the get that bird into your sweet spot in terms of range. Ideally, you have your blind set up and either have decoys out or have a distance marker (e.g., tree, shrub, etc.) at a known distance. A rangefinder comes in handy to mark those distances accurately. 

Bow Hunting Turkeys | Tips And Gear For Spring Gobblers

Swivel Seat

A good chair is comfortable enough for allday sits, but it is also silent enough to allow you to move/swivel when a bird sneaks in quietly. The Muddy Swivel Ground Seat is mobile enough to move from blind to blind, but it gives you a silent perch to wait for a gobbler to get into range. 

Bow Hunting Turkeys | Tips And Gear For Spring Gobblers

Hunting Blind Bow Holder

Another requirement for bow hunting turkeys is a bow holder. Having both hands free to call is important while also keeping your bow at arm’s length and ready. A bow holder in a blind is a necessity. This piece of turkey hunting equipment securely and safely holds your bow and even other hunting accessories while hunting from a ground blind for turkeys. 

Bow Hunting Turkeys | Tips And Gear For Spring Gobblers

Bow hunting turkeys is inherently different than hunting them with a shotgun. Spring turkey season is rapidly approaching. Use these turkey hunting tips and load up with the right gear to make your spring bow season more productive. 

How to Kill a Late Season Last-Minute Buck

Harvest a Late Season Buck

Killing a late-season brute requires knowledge of deer behavior, knowing when to attack, and knowing when to pump the brakes

Depending on the strategies you employ and the locations you hunt, late-season hunting can be a hit or miss game. Hunting in December and January is all about striking when the time is right. Late season hunting is very similar to early season hunting in September or early October, where deer are primarily on a bed to feed pattern, and mostly in the afternoons. A stark difference from early season to late season is that deer are in survival mode come December and January. During the early season, deer are carefree, hitting green fields and enjoying the mild conditions while fattening up for autumn. Late season tends to be different. Bucks are worn down from the rut, possibly physically wounded, and desperately in need of high fat and carbohydrate foods to keep them going. Late season success will require knowledge of hunting pressure, food sources, weather patterns, and necessary gear to stay on stand during frigid conditions.

Hunting Pressure

Hunting pressure is seen as a dirty word, but without it, you wouldn’t be able to see deer. If you deer hunt, you pressure deer—end of story. When it comes to late season hunting, you should first evaluate the pressure your property has seen throughout the prior months. In high-pressure gun hunting states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—it might be best to give your property a little break before jumping back in the tree expecting late season movement on open food sources. Of course, there are always exceptions, and maybe you have a very low-pressure property in one of those states. The key with hunting pressure is to understand how much you and surrounding landowners pressured the land you hunt, and evaluate your late season strategies from there. You cannot expect to see great late season movement if you bow hunt your property hard during the rut, then have family out and about rifle hunting with you during firearms season. Mature bucks will not likely leave your property if you still have food sources around, but they will move less often due to hunting pressure and the fact that they need to recover from the rut.

Know the hunting pressure you’ve applied to your land, and pump the breaks a little bit if need be. Patiently waiting for true late season bed to feed patterns to take place is a better strategy than guessing. Use your trail cameras during the period after rifle seasons as well, this will help you gauge deer movement.

 

Late Season Food Sources

If you have the food, you will have the deer—pretty simple. This is especially true in the late season as bucks are trying to gain back the weight they lost during the rut. Bucks will be in search of high carbohydrate and high fat food sources such as standing soybeans and corn. In the areas I hunt, corn is king during brutal winter temperatures. I find that deer crave soybeans and corn during cold temps, but corn usually wins out. Even the biggest bucks in your area may throw caution to the wayside during frigid temps and make an appearance on big crop fields.

The green food plot you saw so many mature deer on during September and October may be covered in snow during this time period. It also could be bare ground and you might be wondering why your clover, brassica, or winter wheat field isn’t seeing any deer. It all revolves around what deer need to survive. By mid-winter, green food sources usually aren’t supplying what deer need—unless it’s the only good food in the neighborhood. You may find deer hitting green food sources again when temperatures warm up, but don’t count on seeing many deer on your green plots if they aren’t tucked away next to areas of high cover, or a south-facing hill. In most cases, deer would prefer corn or soybeans to a green food plot during cold winter months. However, never say ‘always’ in deer hunting—find what works in your area and plan your late season hunting around it.

Weather Patterns

Weather patterns play a crucial role in late season hunting. Weather dictates deer movement during each phase of the season to some extent. Late season is unique in that cold and warm fronts can get the deer moving, but it all depends on the previous few days of weather. For example, if the temperature has been 40 for around three to four days straight, and then the bottom drops out and the next days high is going to be 17 degrees and clear, it will probably enhance deer movement and could get your target buck up and moving. The opposite is sometimes true during late season as well. If there have been multiple days, or even a week of extremely cold weather, warming temperatures sometimes bring good movement as well. During these warmer temps or ‘breaks’ from the freezing cold, deer take this as an opportunity to sort of ‘stretch out’ and move around, much like humans would during a break from the cold weather. Pay close attention to trail cameras this time of year to gain knowledge of weather fronts and how it affects deer movement in your area.

Late Season Hunting Gear

Late season hunters understand that clothing and gear are crucial to late season success. Although you probably aren’t logging more than 3-4 hours for each late season hunt, you still allow yourself to get cold unless you prepare. To bear the cold weather, preparing for a late season buck hunt might require you to set up a Muddy ground blind or box blind weeks in advance. Proper layering is key for being able to stay out in the elements for as long as possible. Be sure to pack a head cover, neck gaiter, and gloves—there is nothing worse than your extremities being exposed to wind and cold air. As temperatures dip below freezing, or even below zero, you will be glad you prepared and had the necessary gear to make it through your late season quests.

Final Thoughts

Late season is all about keeping tabs on the pulse of deer activity in your area. Understand the above factors and you will give yourself the best chance for success. Knowing when to strike, and when to sit back, is critical for dealing with highly pressured deer around their coveted food sources. Be adaptable and mobile to position yourself for your opportunity.

Holiday Gift Guide for Deer Hunters

The Deer Hunting Holiday Gift Guide You Need

Each holiday season, people spend an awful lot of time pondering what to get for family members and friends. While it’s good to be thoughtful about gift ideas, the process will be a lot easier when shopping for deer hunters if you use this holiday gift guide. And if you’re a hunter, feel free to nonchalantly leave this Christmas list somewhere your loved ones will notice it. Whether you’re looking for some new items for deer camp or simply want to add some new hunting gear to your collection, there are some great ideas in this hunting gift guide.

1. Pole Saw

For those with land to manage and tree stands to move around, having the right tools makes a big difference. Whether you have a limb blocking a shot from your tree stand or you just need to clean up some trees while doing timber stand improvement projects, the Muddy pole saw is the perfect companion. Its dual-purpose design allows you to use the serrated blade for larger branches and the pruners to cut smaller ones.

2. Trail Camera

Is there such a thing as too many trail cameras? We don’t think so, which is why it deserves a spot on this holiday gift guide. The Pro-Cam 16 Bundle provides everything you need to quickly put it out yet this winter or save it for next spring. Either way, the 16 MP camera takes great pictures or videos and the invisible flash doesn’t spook deer. This is a great hunting gift idea.

3. Shooting Bench

Having a sturdy and well-made shooting bench is important for sighting new rifles in or just plinking practice. The Extreme Shooting Bench has a steel benchtop and comfortable, padded seat, and the seat and top can swivel independently or in tandem. The rubber molded gun rest will keep your firearm sturdy and keep you on point. The bench is equipped with some interchangeable accessories, such as a gear hook, gear basket, and cup holder.

4. Safety Harness

If you’re willing to consider items on a holiday gift guide, there’s a reasonable chance you love the person you’re shopping for. What better way to show that than get a new safety harness for them? The Ambush Safety Harness is weighted for 300 pounds and should be used every time a hunter leaves the ground. As you do your holiday shopping, keep their well-being in mind.

5. Camera Accessories

If the person you’re shopping for wants to start filming their hunts, consider getting them a critical self-filming accessory: a camera arm. The Basic Camera Arm is a great introductory option for people to start filming their hunts. It is fully adjustable and has a quick-release mount to make things easier in the tree stand. A camera arm is a great gift idea for hunters.

6. Shooting Rail

When you have to shoot a rifle from a tree stand, it helps to have a shooting rail to keep you steady and improve your accuracy. The Muddy Universal Shooting Rail attaches to any tree stand setup and adds a layer of stability to help in that critical moment. This makes it the perfect tree stand accessory.

7. Seat

If you prefer to hunt from blinds (whether on the ground or in a tower stand), it can keep you more comfortable in different weather conditions. But to stay comfortable all day, you need a good seat. The Swivel Ground Seat is reasonably packable at only 15 pounds, and swivels 360 degrees so you can make the shot when needed. Since most hunters tend to opt for a 5 gallon bucket, this is a sure hit on this holiday gift guide.

8. Hunting Blind

If a swivel seat will impress, imagine their surprise if you got a new hunting blind for them. The VS360 blind sets up quickly and can fit a couple people comfortably. It has large windows with shoot through mesh and includes brush strips so you can quickly brush it in and disappear. Including hunting blinds on your holiday gift guide will quickly make you #1 on their list.

9. Game Cart

Depending on where you hunt and how close you can approach your hunting location, having a good way to get the deer out of the woods is an important consideration. The Mule Game Cart allows you to haul a 300 pound deer easily and the rubber coated handles make it more comfortable and ergonomic.

10. Lift System

Once you get a deer, it’s nice to have an easy way to lift it up to allow for easier skinning and butchering. The Magnum Lift System has a weight reduction pulley system to lift up to 500 pounds easily and by yourself. It has an automatic self-locking system to stop once you get to the height you need the deer.

Hunting Blinds for Kids| Tips for a Fun and Safe Hunt

Choosing the Best Hunting Blinds for Kids

Chances are pretty good that you learned how to hunt from a family member as a kid. You likely have fond memories of getting your first deer or turkey with a parent at your side. On the other hand, you probably also have some memories where things didn’t go as planned. Let’s face it, hunting with kids is not always an easy or fun thing to do. But you’ll both find that the challenges fade away with time while the good memories stand out. Here are some tips on finding hunting blinds for kids, and why they can improve your time afield with young ones. 

Youth Hunting Challenges

As mentioned, most kids aren’t usually natural-born hunters. They are loud, curious/talkative, fidgety/impatient, and have short attention spans. It requires a lot of teaching, hunting wisdom, and time afield to really practice the skills involved before they will get better at it. We need to constantly keep that in mind when we take kids hunting. If you lose your patience while youth hunting or it becomes more of a chore for them than a fun time with a parent/guardian, a kid can quickly lose interest. Given the time required for frequent bathroom breaks and their short attention spans, hunting with a kid is likely going to be much shorter than if you were solo hunting. As long as you go into it with the right expectations on your end, it can still be a great outcome and a fun time. Not to mention, it’s critical we get more kids out hunting with the decline of hunting participation rates. 

Benefits of Hunting Blinds for Kids

Given those specific hunting challenges, there are many benefits to using hunting blinds for kids. For example, compared to tree stands, hunting blinds are much safer to use. When you don’t have to leave the ground or are fully contained within an elevated blind, it removes a lot of the risk involved in hunting with a child. They are also usually much more spacious, accommodating two or more people, hunting gear, and comfortable chairs (such as the Muddy® swivel ground seat) as well. Nobody likes to be cramped, but especially kids. Third, blinds can hide your movement, sound, and scent (to some extent), which are all positive things when taking kids out. Many children just can’t hold still for very long, and their fidgeting is obviously not a good match with deer or turkey hunting. Blinds conceal that movement and will also help to muffle the sound of their many questions (and your patient answers). Depending on what kind of hunting blind you are using, it can also contain your scent and stay warmer so you can hunt longer without spooking deer. 

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Different Hunting Blind Options

Choosing a hunting blind can be intimidating sometimes given the range of options out there, but if you really want to focus on hunting blinds for kids, you can use these challenges and specific benefits above to make the selection process simpler. Here are three primary types of deer hunting blinds to consider, and how each of them works for youth hunting.

Box Blind

A box blind, such as the Muddy Bull, can be placed on the ground or elevated on a tower/platform for increased visibilityInsulated box blinds protect you well from the wind and weather, allowing you and your child to stay warmer. If you hunt firearms seasons in northern states, cold and miserable weather is basically a guarantee, so it’s a great way to let your kid experience it while not being miserable themselves. They also usually have sealed windows to keep scent contained and muffle your sounds. With a silent swivel chair, kids can have a great and comfortable time hunting. That being said, box blinds are not very mobile and so it is best to position one of these in a spot you know will offer great hunting action once the weather cools down and you plan on needing hunting blinds for kids. 

Ground Blind

Most ground blinds are normally lightweight, pop-up designs that allow you to be mobile pending the deer action. Since kids can be impatient, this is a nice feature. If you can keep the blinds where they can see a fair amount of deer traffic, they will stay interested – even if it’s just does and fawns walking by, it’s a great way to teach them how to calm their nerves. If you want, some ground blinds can also be elevated onto a platform as well, but most are simply used at ground level. As far as ground blind tips, it always helps to brush your blind in and leave it out for a few days before you hunt it. This will help maximize your chances of connecting with an animal while your kid is with you. Considering what to wear in a ground blind, make sure you and your child match the inside of the blind, which is usually black or dark. That way, any movement a deer might see inside is hidden even further. Of course, the Muddy 5 Sider conceals your movement extremely well by using dropdown windows with camo patterns and shoot-through mesh. 

Bale Blind

A bale blind is a variation of a ground blind, specifically focusing on the shape, color, and texture of a common agricultural field feature: a round hay bale. In farm fields and meadows, deer are used to seeing bales scattered across fields, so they don’t even question it – particularly when there are other actual hay bales in the field. When considering hunting blinds for kids in farm country, especially after hay fields have been harvested, the Muddy Bale Blind is a great option. It conceals your movement and allows you to get close to the deer action. When sitting adjacent to a line of other bales, bale blinds can also allow you to sneak in and out of the blind when deer are out in the field. 

As far as the best hunting blinds for kids, it all depends on your hunting preferences and your kid’s personality. If you know that your kid is particularly impatient or the weather forecast looks bad, an insulated and comfortable box blind is probably your best bet. But if you want to move closer to the action, the weather is nice, and your kid seems able to stay calm, a ground blind or bale blind can be perfect too. What’s most important, though, is that you take your kid – even if it’s only for an hour after school. If you keep it fun for them, it will make a lasting memory for both of you.