With a massive acorn crop, two of my treestand setups that I had hung in late August were now in locations where deer movement was minimal. After looking at the weekend forecast, I knew I needed to be hunting in hopes of catching a mature buck up on his feet. Yet, deer movement was more profound in the timber. Unfortunately, I did not have a stand near the area I wanted to hunt.
When trying to make a game plan of where to hunt during the first evening of the weekend, I decided to hunt in a ground blind set up in the timber. A spot in which two steep ridges came together to form a bottleneck shape that was a natural travel route for deer. I predicted the deer would travel out of a river bottom, feeding on the thousands of acorns falling from the trees. I was confident I had chosen a good location.
I settled into my blind around 2:45 p.m. due to the fear of pushing deer out of the area. After 40 minutes, I found myself caught off guard by a mature doe standing at twenty yards. When I first saw the doe, she had already locked her eyes on me in the blind. After a few seconds of an intense stare-down, she blew and headed back into the river bottom. For the next two and a half hours, five different does, all at different times, came into the area, blew, then bolted out of sight.
Numerous times throughout the evening, I used my Hunters Specialties Windicator to determine the wind direction. Each time, the wind hit me in the face. I had no idea the cause of this sudden downturn in events. Only later did I realize I had committed three of the most common mistakes bowhunters make when hunting from a ground blind.
Too Much Movement
When most of the deer that evening came into close range, they were already on high alert because of the unusual movement that they had encountered. Four out of five of the deer that night had seen me long before I spotted them, thus the reason for them being on high alert.
When hunting deer at their eye level, it is essential to keep movement to a minimum and be cautious of every movement while inside the blind. Many hunters think that they can get by with excessive movement because they are inside of a blind even though the hunter can move more than if in the wide open, they must still be aware of head and body movement when scanning for deer. The slightest unusual movement will result in deer leaving the area.
To help minimize movement, the hunter should wear black clothing on the upper body, hands, and head. By wearing black, the hunter blends with the interior of the blind, keeping them more concealed. Another option to stay concealed is using a blind such as the Infinity 2-Person blind from Muddy Outdoors. The Infinity blind is made with an innovative shadow mesh window curtain technology that allows the hunter to see out of the blind, yet wildlife cannot see in. This creates a 360-degree view and eliminates blind spots while keeping the hunter concealed.
I am a true believer in bowhunting from ground blinds. Yet, after my hunt, I wondered why all the deer had spotted me and sensed something was wrong when they got into close range of my blind.
After reassessing my hunt later that night, I realized my blind was in the wrong location. When the deer came out of the river bottom, they first saw my blind eye level with the area they were traveling. If my blind had been down the ridge, forty to fifty yards farther, the deer would have had time to feel safe because the blind not causing an instant red flag.
When sitting up a ground blind, it is vital to brush in around it to help conceal the location. Sitting the blind in a more open area, where deer feel comfortable, is also essential.
A blind should not be used in tight situations like where I was hunting. Instead, I returned to that specific location and hung a hang-on treestand more suitable for the terrain.
Use A Blind Chair
When humans are not comfortable, it is natural to want to move and twist our bodies—sitting inside a ground blind when hunting can wreak havoc on a hunter’s body if they are not sitting in the proper chair. When sitting in an uncomfortable seat, back and leg pain are common. Add constant movement from trying to get into a more comfortable position to the mix, and it does not make for a relaxed hunt. I sat on a small tripod-style seat for four hours on my hunt. It is obvious now that in doing so, I made an excessive amount of unwanted movement that cost me a harvest.
Using a more comfortable chair that is designed to hunt inside of a blind is a must when bowhunting. A blind chair such as the Muddy Swivel-Ease XT Ground Seat is ideal for the hunter to sit comfortably for an extended period. Padded armrests, a large seating area, and 360-degree silent mobility provide the hunter with less movement and the ability to hunt quietly until that monster buck comes into close range.
https://www.gomuddy.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/image00002-3.jpeg800533Kevin Kelseyhttps://www.gomuddy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Muddy_Logo_shadow-Low.pngKevin Kelsey2022-10-11 14:28:012022-10-11 14:29:213 Common Mistakes When Bowhunting Ground Blinds
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.
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.
https://www.gomuddy.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/thumbnail_image2.jpg9601280John Fennellhttps://www.gomuddy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Muddy_Logo_shadow-Low.pngJohn Fennell2021-11-11 21:00:542021-11-11 21:01:38Tips And Tricks for Bowhunting in A Ground Blind
There are so many different kinds of deer hunting strategies you can use during the season. From spot and stalk approaches to deer drives to setting up in ambush locations, there’s something for nearly everyone. But depending on the tree cover and habitat in your hunting area, you may or may not have tried hang on stands in the past. Maybe you’re intimidated by them or don’t think they could be used in a true hang and hunt setup. But here’s how a few members of the Hunting Public use this strategy to consistently sneak in close to bedded deer and kill mature bucks. We’ll discuss the benefits of this approach, the best way to pack it into the woods, how to hang a tree stand, other essential hunting gear, and how to adjust your hunting tactics based on different areas.
But first, what exactly are we talking about when we say hang and hunt setup? This is a scenario where you want to quietly sneak in on the day of your hunt to hang a tree stand and then immediately climb up and start deer hunting. For this specific situation, we’re also defining it as using a hang on stand versus other types of tree stands (you don’t really “hang” ladder stands or climbers, do you?). Hang on stands, or lock on stands, consist of simple platforms with chairs that you attach to the tree of your choice with ratchet straps and cables. The chairs may be simple platforms themselves or comfortable mesh backs. Muddy® has several hang on stand options, including the Boss Elite AL or Original Muddy Boss XL. To get up into them, you need to attach several ladder sections (also called “climbing sticks”) to the tree – also using ratchet straps or rope. Some examples from Muddy® include the Pro Climbing Sticks or Ascender sticks.
Benefit Over Other Options
So what makes this hang and hunt setup better or more appropriate than other tree stands or options? There are several reasons below, but at its simplest, you couldn’t really call it a hang and hunt setup if you were propping up a ladder stand, could you?
Tower stands and box blinds work great for hiding your movement and scent from deer, but they are obviously not very quiet to install. You will probably have to use tractors or heavy machinery to install them, which will likely put the local deer on high alert for at least the rest of that day.
While ladder stands are somewhat mobile, they’re certainly not mobile in a hurry. They are also fairly loud to cart around through the woods and you definitely need a partner to do it. Moving one around would make it tough to hunt that area the same day, so it’s not ideal for this hunting application.
Climbing stands are the other obvious mobile tree stand option besides the hang and hunt setup. After all, climbing tree stands are also quiet, easy to carry and use, and you can hunt as soon as you climb into them. But they are limited to straight and limbless trees under a certain diameter. If you live in an area with a lot of old gnarly oaks and cottonwoods, you know that climbers are fairly useless for you.
Last, although you can quickly and quietly move ground blinds, they may spook the deer slightly if they’re not used to seeing them. You might be able to get away with that approach just by brushing them in well, but you would have to be very quiet doing so.
Importantly, a lot of this does come down to your own hunting preferences. Depending on which type of hunter you are and the area you hunt in, one of these other tree stands or blind options might appeal to you more. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be easy or good to hunt the same day you put it up.
How to Pack a Hang On Stand
In the video below, two members of the Hunting Public show you exactly how they use the hang and hunt setup to consistently kill mature deer each season, even sneaking in close to bedding areas. They’ve used it for many years with great success, and you can too. After the video, we’ll break it down further for you.
As you can see, it’s totally possible to pack a hang on stand and some climbing sticks on your back. You can easily bring it with you into remote locations, set up your stand, and hunt it without ever being noticed. Here’s the process they discussed broken down into several smaller steps.
You have a few options for carrying a tree stand and climbing sticks for a hang and hunt setup. The sturdiest and probably quietest option is to use the first method demonstrated in the video above. Using a ratchet strap, you can stack 2 or 3 climbing sticks together on each side of the tree stand platform (or 4 or 5 all in one stack), and then secure them all together. This approach makes no noise when you shake it, and you definitely won’t lose a climbing stick while walking in – plus, it leaves your hands free to carry your bow or rifle as you go just in case you get the chance to shoot a deer. Of course, if you’re not comfortable using a ratchet strap because you think it will be too loud to operate, you could also use bungee cords or even rope to strap everything together. It just might not be as quiet and secure.
Alternatively, you could stack all the climbing sticks together and ratchet strap them together to carry them separately. The downside to that approach, of course, is that you then can’t carry your weapon as easily. Another option they mention in the video above is a product called Stick Talons, which allows you to connect your climbing sticks to your stand platform in a few different configurations.
How to Hang a Stand
Next, you’ll need to know how to hang a tree stand by yourself. Once you get everything back into your hunting area, you need to keep your guard up more than ever. Accidentally banging it against a tree or letting the climbing sticks clang together will not help your chances of seeing a mature buck. As Aaron and Zach said in the video above, you can silently hang a tree stand yourself – it just takes a little more time and patience. Here’s the general process you should follow when doing a hang and hunt setup on your own.
First, make sure you are wearing a safety harness throughout the process of hanging your tree stand and hunting – it is an essential piece of your hang and hunt setup. You might be asking yourself, “Are lock on stands safe?” When used correctly, the answer is absolutely yes. But any time you leave the ground, you are taking a risk. So before you hang your first climbing stick on the tree, attach your safety harness to the trunk and periodically move it up with you as you climb.
As for hanging tree stand hacks, you can also tie ropes from your safety harness to each ladder section and your tree stand. That way, you can just pull up additional pieces as you go instead of climbing up and down each time. As you make your way up the tree, attach additional climbing sticks to whatever height you want to hang your stand at, making sure you thoroughly seat them on the tree by pushing down on them. When it’s time to hang your stand platform, pull it up and use the ratchet straps to attach it, again making sure you thoroughly push down on it. Of course, you also then need to know how to get in a hang on tree stand. Your last and highest climbing stick should be located directly underneath your tree stand platform. Use the platform to climb up into it, making sure you stay connected to the tree via your safety harness at all times.
Hang on stands are great for public land hunting because you can easily bring everything back with you, quickly set it up, and start hunting in short order. When you’re done for the day, you can pack it all back with you, since some public lands don’t allow you to keep stands on them. And again, you’re not limited by the kinds of trees present either.
Other Essential Hunting Gear
After you hang your tree stand, the idea is that you can start hunting immediately. That means you not only have to pack your tree stand and climbing sticks in – you also have to carry everything else you might need for a deer hunt. If you’re planning on only hunting a single afternoon on your own property, you don’t have to carry as much gear as you shouldn’t get lost and won’t need much. But if you’re hiking miles back on new public land, you should plan on packing food, water, and navigational help just in case you get lost. Here are a few essential hunting items you should pack with you on any given hunt.
Backpack (quiet material with lots of gear loops)
Extra ratchet straps and ropes
Compass and map
Water and snacks
Clothing layers to suit the weather conditions
Various deer calls (grunt call, doe can call, etc.)
Scent elimination sprays or cover sprays
Hang and Hunt Tactics
The last part of this hang and hunt setup is being in the right area so you can actually kill a deer – that is one of the goals, right? The deer hunting tactics you use will depend greatly on the area you are hunting in. For example, public lands will likely require you to move your stand with you wherever you go. On the other hand, if you’re hunting on private land, you could set up several hang on stands throughout your property and just bounce around between them depending on the weather conditions and wind. Here are a few ideas for you as you prepare to go hunting.
Public Land Big Woods
For heavily wooded public properties, you usually can’t effectively hunt feeding areas (since deer can browse throughout a broad area), so you need to depend on bedding areas or travel routes. If you’re bow hunting, you will need to be closer to the deer action than when hunting with a rifle or shotgun. A good way to do that is to set your tree stands about 15 to 20 yards away from major deer trails, especially if the trails come out of good bedding areas. During the middle of the day, you can quietly sneak into one of these areas without getting too close to the bedding area. After taking your time to set it up quietly, wait for the deer to file out of the bedding area along one of the trails. As long as you are high enough or in a tree with good branch structure and cover, the deer shouldn’t notice you.
Private Agricultural Areas
When you’re hunting on private land, especially those with agricultural fields or food plots in the region, your tactics and hang and hunt setup will change a bit. In these areas you can depend on deer traffic within and to fields and food plots where they will feed in the evening. As mentioned, you could hang several tree stands ahead of time in this situation. But sometimes you just need to try a new location because the deer are using a different approach or the wind isn’t right for your other areas. In that case, you can quietly bring a hang on stand to your desired area, quickly set it up, and hunt the deer as they come to feed.
So if the approach above sounds like it would work for you, grab your tree stand, climbing sticks, and bow or rifle, and head out to the woods. It’s not too late to use this hang and hunt setup and strategy this year. And if you take your time setting things up, you shouldn’t spook many deer in the process either.
https://www.gomuddy.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/what-is-the-best-hang-and-hunt-setup-for-deer-hunting-feature.jpg8081215Muddy Outdoorshttps://www.gomuddy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Muddy_Logo_shadow-Low.pngMuddy Outdoors2018-11-21 15:56:402018-11-21 16:16:15What is the Best Hang and Hunt Setup for Deer Hunting?
Patterning Early Season Whitetails | October Deer Hunting Tips
Hunting seasons all across the country have opened up and hunters are heading to the field in hopes of having an opportunity at a target buck before the rut goes into full swing. We took a few minutes and asked some reputable hunters in the whitetail world what their keys are to finding success early and tagging an early October buck.
Mark Drury, Drury Outdoors:
Greener pastures. This is one of my favorite phases. It incorporates September 25- October 12th and is where DeerCast can be an invaluable tool. The key is to catch a cold front and to setup on a green field in the evening, or close to a bedroom on the first morning after a cold front.
It’s during this time that acorns are beginning to drop, so finding a good white oak flat to hunt can be a killer strategy for a morning sit. Other food sources deer can’t resist during this time are BioLogic’s Clover Plus and Deer Radishes. Use your most recent information (MRI) from your trail cameras to figure out where best to hunt. In the past we’ve had great luck hunting out of Muddy Box Blinds on green plots as they help contain our scent and we can place them right where they need to be.
Terry Drury, Drury Outdoors:
Early October is all about getting daytime trail camera photos. Create a green food source like BioLogic Clover Plus adjacent to a mast producing stand of white oaks, with water nearby and you’ve got a whitetail haven. While daylight bucks can be difficult to find at this phase of the season, time your hunts with a rising moon in the afternoon or evening that coincides with their normal feeding pattern or a morning when the setting moon is hanging up later and you could catch a monster heading back to bed later than normal.
James Edwards, 540 Outdoors Land Management
It may surprise you but October is my favorite time to kill big deer, second to late season and my least favorite being November. I’ve killed over half of the deer on my walls opening week of bow season. For early October its much like late season in that its all about evening hunts over food. Different then late season though is that there is more food available in early October so the deer have many more options then they do in late season when all you really have to do is having standing grain in the right spot, keep pressure out, and wait on the right wind with brutal cold. So for opening week you either have to have a very strategically placed food plot near where they like to bed (which is my favorite way to hunt opening week) or you have to do your homework with scouting to know where they are staging in the evening before dark. My favorite way to kill an opening week buck is to spend a few years getting to know him and letting him grow, then the year I want to kill him, go in and create a brand new fall food plot that he can’t resist that’s near his early October bedding location.
Joe Sir, Rizen Media:
I’ve had a decent bit of success the first week of October in years past. A lot comes down to the structure of your farm, what you are able to do food plot wise and how it hunts. For me the keys have been small secluded food plots near bedding where that I can non-intrusively monitor with trail cameras and that deer feel safe entering during daylight hours. I have a handful of plots I have designed to fit this need. Brassica plot size ranges from 1/4 to 3/4 acres on inside corners of CRP or larger ag fields. Typically, they are planted in a turnip/brassica mix so the appeal is growing towards the beginning of October when Iowa opens. Also, monitoring these plots in a low pressure way is crucial to success. For me, its a matter of conditioning the deer with how and when I check trail cameras. Every camera is checked by the use of UTV. Its less intrusive than entering on foot as it isn’t out of the norm for activity a deer is somewhat accustomed to in the Midwest. I believe that early season can provide one of the best chances to fill a tag. I look at it this way; if I’m sitting on the couch and get hungry, and chips and salsa are on the coffee table within arms reach I’m probably going to grab them. Good luck!
Bart Stanley, Team Muddy:
A well timed cold front can always get the big mature bucks on their feet earlier and going back to bed later than normal. I think you either have to have an early season food source (evening) or the food source needs to be a good distance away from the bedding area and you have to sneak into the bedroom or into a corridor of a well known bedroom early in morning. I had luck on the morning of October 4th, 2014 when I killed a nice 155” 9 point 20 minutes after first light as he was going back to a bedding area. It was a time where a nice cold front matched up on a weekend where I needed a NW wind to hunt this spot in AM.
Blake Lefler, Team Muddy:
This is a feat that really requires the stars to align, however it is one of the best times of the season to hone in on a specific buck and kill him before the craze of the rut. In October, I think using Muddy trail cameras to pattern the bedding and feeding pattern of a buck is critical. The lowest risk option is to get a good fall food source such as brassicas or clover close to the bedding area of a target buck. From there, pick days to hunt where the chances of daylight movement are statistically higher; high pressure, cold fronts specifically. The high risk option would be to identify a specific bedding area that a target buck is using, and attempt to hunt it on a morning; again choosing weather conditions that are favorable for daylight movement. Get into your stand long before grey light to be certain you can get into the area with the best chance that most deer will still be feeding. This tactic can be deadly but can also educate a buck that he is being hunted long before he becomes vulnerable to the rut. Weigh out your options before deciding if this risk is worth the reward.
Chris Dunkin, Muddy Outdoors:
Early October has turned into one of my favorite times of the year to hunt. Patterning a big buck through the use of Muddy Pro Cams is the first step. He may be hitting acorns on an oak flat, staging in a certain area before entering a large ag field, or frequenting a small food plot that you’ve planted. Regardless, the key is to find him through the use of your cameras, get him on a pattern, and then move in when the time is right. Just because the season opens on October 1st doesn’t mean that you need to hunt if the weather conditions aren’t right. The element of surprise should be on your side when you slip in to kill him, so hold your cards tight and make a move when it makes the most sense to do so.
Hopefully you can take a few of the tips above and use them to catch up with an Early-October buck. As the season rolls on, we want to wish you the best of luck. Please share your success stories and photos on our Muddy Outdoors social pages! We would love to hear about your #MuddyMoments this year, and we want to sincerely thank you for trusting in the Muddy brand.
https://www.gomuddy.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/HeaderImage_MuddyBlog.jpg15362048Muddy Outdoorshttps://www.gomuddy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Muddy_Logo_shadow-Low.pngMuddy Outdoors2018-10-03 19:32:392018-10-04 13:43:01Tips for Tagging an Early October Buck
If you’re anything like us, you eat, sleep, and dream about deer hunting throughout the year. If there is a winter storm coming through, we’re thinking about the rut. If we’re sweating through a summer heat wave, we’re thinking about how to get ready for opening day. If that describes your lifestyle too, you probably also enjoy watching deer throughout the year by using trail cams. There’s just something special about trail cameras and how you can stealthily keep track of the deer herd on your property without them having a clue. Sure, you could start glassing fields or summer food plots in the evenings, but that takes more time than most of us actually have. Plus, you might not have any fields near you; maybe you hunt deer in a big woods setting where you can’t easily watch wildlife. These are the situations where having a few hunting cameras hung in key spots on your property can make a big difference to your hunting strategies next fall. Here are a few trail camera strategies to get you started this summer.
It’s not quite as simple as just throwing out a few trail cams in the woods and seeing what walks by. Sure, you could try that approach and you might get to see some wildlife eventually. But to get the most pictures, to get high-quality pictures, and to get information that will actually help you next fall, you need to focus on putting your trail camera in a spot that focuses deer traffic. Here are the best trail camera strategies for the summer.
Food Plots/Agricultural Fields
Food plots are great spots for getting pictures of deer for a few reasons. One, does and bucks alike need lots of calories in the spring to bounce back from the stress of winter. Throughout the summer, they need the food tonnage to build up their body weight and grow antlers to prepare for fall. This means high quality, protein rich forage! If you live in a forested area with very little agricultural food available, a single food plot is even more attractive to deer and your results will be better. Since it’s so critical for their survival, it’s probably the best place to hang trail cams on these locations.
For larger agricultural fields (e.g., corn, soybeans, alfalfa, etc.), the best location for game cameras might seem like the middle of the field where you can see the most deer. But since deer are creatures of the edge and will usually have set travel patterns throughout the summer, the best spot is generally along the field edge near a dominant trail. For smaller food plots (e.g., clover, cereal grains, brassicas, etc.), you can place a trail cam on a post in the middle of the plot without any issues. But really it comes down to just finding a spot that concentrates the activity and facing the game camera in the right direction. One thing to keep in mind is that facing cameras any direction but north will inevitably produce some glare in pictures at some time of the day.
Another reliable spot to capture deer pictures on your trail cams this summer is around their bedding area. After feeding throughout the night in destination fields or browsing in cutover areas, deer will shift to daytime bedding areas to chew their cud and rest. Often does and fawns will rest near or even within feeding areas, while bachelor groups of bucks will bed further away. Taking a quick scouting stroll from feeding areas and along main trails can lead you to bedding areas. They’re often easy to spot because of the oval depressions in the grass or weeds. If you’ve ever tackled a few habitat projects on your property, hinge cuts are great bedding areas to check out.
If you’ve designated some bedding areas as deer sanctuaries that are strictly off-limits throughout the year, try installing trail cams along trails on the fringe of the sanctuary instead. Be cautious about checking them too much towards the end of the summer when you want to really hold deer in-place. The bugs will likely be bad enough to convince you to only go once or twice the whole summer anyway. More than likely, you’ll find some small bedding areas outside of these sanctuaries too that you can set and forget until the end of the summer.
Of course, any main trails and travel corridors between the two areas above are also great spots to intercept deer movement. With a little desktop scouting, you can easily map these areas and find good potential corridors, but you likely have a few tree stands already hung in these areas anyway. Clear out the herbaceous vegetation in a spot along one of these trails so that you can get a clear trail camera picture. These small openings can also make deer pause long enough for a good picture.
When it comes to positioning your trail cams along trails, the common instinct is to place them so that the camera is off to the side facing perpendicular to the trail. Unfortunately, unless deer are really slow-moving, your camera will likely trigger too late and you’ll only get pictures of their rear end – hardly useful from a hunting perspective. Instead, try positioning your camera facing up or down along the direction of deer travel. Granted, you’ll still get pictures of deer moving away from you half the time, but you’ll get pictures of deer facing the camera the other half of the time.
Mineral Sites/Mineral Stations
Throughout the spring and summer, whitetails love to get an extra dose of minerals from the soil and plants around mineral stations. Lactating does need extra minerals to support their fawns, while Bucks need minerals to build their bony antlers. If you keep the station going for a couple years, you can easily train deer to keep coming back to it as a seasonal mineral source since fawns will be raised to use it. Eventually, the stations often become huge craters where deer have eaten the soil away. Luckily, you can easily set up a mineral site by scraping the debris away and exposing the soil in a given spot. Then you can incorporate some crushed mineral into the top inch of soil or simply place a block or rock on top of it. You can even place it on a semi-rotting stump, which will slowly absorb the minerals as well. But that’s about all it takes to set a station up.
If you’re installing one of these sites expressly for pictures, it’s best to locate it in a shaded understory area. Pictures from trail cams along fields and exposed sites often suffer from lots of glare, which greatly reduces the quality of the photos. But pictures within shaded areas can turn out crisp and clear any time of the day since light doesn’t interfere.
The final place that works great for trail cams are water sources, especially when paired with mineral sites. After eating something salty, we all crave a drink of water – deer are no different. Deer crave sodium due to the high amount of water they get in their metabolism during spring and summer. However, as the summer progresses and other waterholes or creeks go dry, a small water hole next to a mineral site will pull deer in. If you have natural wetlands, ponds, or streams on your property, you can easily locate mineral sites near them for the easiest solution. If you don’t have any water sources, you can easily sink a bucket, small rubber tank, or kid’s pool into the dirt to let it fill with rainwater. You can keep it cleaner by simply refilling it once you check cams. During hot summers or in southern, more arid areas, water sources can be the absolute best place for a trail camera setup, since it is such a draw for them.
How to Hang Trail Cameras and When to Check Them
Once you’ve identified the spots and trail camera strategies you want to install this summer, it’s time to actually get them out. As already mentioned, pay attention to the direction you face your cameras, as south facing cameras will get lots of unusable pictures with a heavy glare. The one time you can get away with south facing trail cams is if you are in a forested or heavily shaded area. One of the best trail camera tips you’ll hear is to check the batteries and then recheck them to make sure they are fresh. You should also generally clear out some of the tall weeds, grasses, and even some brush in the area so you can avoid lots of false triggers. It’s a really deflating experience when you check your camera to find 1,000 pictures and 900 of them are of swaying grass. You can change the sensitivity level on many cameras to reduce this problem, but it still doesn’t hurt to make a small opening in front of the lens. Bring a simple folding saw with you when you enter the woods so you can easily cut any obstacles down.
Depending on where you’re hanging trail cameras, you may want to leave a trail to get back to them. For new deer bedding areas in big woods spots, for example, consider putting out some trail markers or trail marking tacks to help you find them again. This isn’t a good idea on public land, obviously, as would-be thieves could follow your tacks/markers right to the camera. But it’s a nice option for private land.
As far as when or how often to check your trail cams, it’s a tough call. The less you check them, the less invasive it is and more discrete your spying will be. After all, if you set it and forget about it for a few months, you can basically guarantee that you won’t interfere with the natural deer movement on your property. On the other hand, if your camera malfunctions after only a week of being outdoors, you could miss out on an entire summer’s worth of intelligence, which is just a terrible feeling (we’ve probably all had it happen at some point). Besides, we all feel the temptation to check them weekly. It’s kind of like Christmas morning when you get your chip and start to glance through them on the computer. If you have fresh batteries and haven’t had any issues with your camera before, let it sit in the woods for a month or two at a time, if you can bear it. If you’re not sure about your gear or if the opportunity is too great, then you’ve got two options. You can either charge right in making lots of noise (e.g., starting a chainsaw once in a while, driving an ATV, etc.), which will push deer away well before you spook them at close range. Or you can stealthily sneak in with scent-eliminating clothing and rubber boots to be incognito. It’s up to you and how your property is managed.
Good luck with your cameras this summer. With any luck, you’ll get some great pictures of deer to help guide your bow hunting on opening day this fall!
https://www.gomuddy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/trail-camera-strategies-summer_FEATURE.jpg10501400Muddy Outdoorshttps://www.gomuddy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Muddy_Logo_shadow-Low.pngMuddy Outdoors2017-06-12 18:26:012018-05-07 19:12:49Best Trail Camera Strategies for Your Summer
Have you got the rhythm down yet? Are you back in the saddle so to speak? When it comes to bow hunting it feels like it can take a week or two to finally get used to waking up earlier, master walking quietly across parched leaves, and perfect the art of patience, little movement, and silence. Bow season is here and whether you are ready or not does not concern the deer and more importantly the fleeting month of October. Deer hunting during October is short lived as is, and more often than not, several opportunities go without recognition and “seizing”. The worst of these missed opportunities takes the form of deer hunting cold fronts during October.
Digging deeper, many hunters will come to realize that it is the rapidly changing behavior of deer…not time itself that lets us perceive October as short. During the first part of the month or so, patterns exist, food sources are still intact, and there appears to be a very real opening to harvest a buck. However once the second and third week of October arrive everything changes. The shifting weather, food, hormones, landscape, and much more create a list of factors that seem to alter everything we knew about our property and the deer going into October. The second and third week of October (October 10th – 24th) seems to throw hunters a curve ball.
Acorns, Ag fields harvested, cooler weather, varying attractiveness of food plots, intolerance due to heightened testosterone, and of course the pressure of the approaching rut seem to mix up deer behavior so badly that they themselves do not understand what’s going on….let alone us hunters trying to figure it all out. If someone figured out exactly how to hunt October, you would know the absolute authority on the subject, but no one will ever be able to figure it out entirely. Why? You cannot control Mother Nature…
What Is a Cold Front?
By definition (to a hunter) a Cold Front is Mother Nature’s answer to the hunter’s mercy plead. Curve ball after curve ball, Mother Nature has taken us through the ringer no doubt, but it’s nice when she answers our prayers. A Cold front is a hunter’s saving grace so to speak. When deer movement seems to be slowing down, or unpredictable a cold front is a sudden snap to get deer and more importantly mature bucks on their feet.
A Cold Front – advancing mass of cold air trailing the edge of a warm sector of a low-pressure system.
When should you hunt a cold front?
A great source for hunters as far as weather patterns and cold fronts is Weather Underground. Customize the 10 day weather forecast to show temperature, the chance of precipitation, pressure, wind speed, and humidity can also be an advantage. Hunters are by no means meteorologists, but knowing the simplest things can make a huge difference to the action you witness in the woods.
In the picture, you can clearly see when the cold front is advancing. This graph was exported from a state in the Midwest this year, 2016, last week in fact from the date this blog is posted. From the period of Tuesday the 4th to Friday the 7th you can see a period of high temperature hovering around 80 degrees or so. Friday afternoon marks the entrance and arrival of the front. When the front is passing is typically seen as a drop in temperature > 5-10 degrees, and an increase in pressure. You will also either see nasty weather or precipitation increase as the front passes. The amount of temperature drop isn’t necessarily the main take away or reason a cold front is so productive.
Notice the days before the cold front arrives. You have hunted these days before…the same boring, long, and hot days that are common in October. Low 80s High 70s during the day for several days in a row, plus the combination of nasty weather as the front arrives signifies how “productive” the cold front will be. Deer movement will be slow or what you will normally experience during the days beforehand. During the nasty spell of weather, deer will undergo intense stress. When the skies break open (Saturday-Sunday), pressure increases, and temperature plummets deer will be excited to get on their feet, especially to feed on available food sources.
That covers when you should be deer hunting cold fronts, but not “where”. Unfortunately, the “where” is a bit trickier than the “when” and subject to a lot more opinion and variability.
Deer Hunting Cold Fronts: The Big Question is Where
So up to this point we have told you “when” you might fake a sudden cough or take a vacation day off work, but the next important thing to decide is “where”. Where should you go “all in” on what seems to be your only and best chance at a buck in October. While we cannot give you a definitive answer that is a sure fire tree stand location, we can offer plenty of well thought out and proven suggestions.
While October is leading up to highly anticipated action-packed weeks in November, the majority of the month’s deer activity revolves around one thing…FOOD. Two big food sources are competing during this time frame and a third is thrown into the mix if it is available. Above all acorns and cut corn fields should be on the hunter’s radar, but food plots can also be thrown into the mix.
Trail Cameras Weekly “Week 2” Oct 10th- 16th | October Cold Fronts and Acorns (Video)- As the second week of October arrives, strategies must change accordingly. In this week, two major players are present, acorns and October cold fronts.
Acorns are a staple for deer during the month of October. White oak and red oak acorns rain down from mature timber canopies across the Whitetail’s range, offering a continuous and reliable food source. Unfortunately, it is also a plentiful food source…meaning the little package of carbs that is known as the acorn can spell disaster for hunters. This abundant food source’s availability means that deer do not have to work very hard or move very far to get to a food source. When deer are on acorns, it can be very hard to pattern them, but with the help of some landscape features like fingers, saddles, ridges, funnels, creek bottoms, and transition areas it can be done. Muddy TV’s Trail Cameras Weekly touches on these features and how acorns, with the addition of a cold front, could mean success.
Cut Corn Fields
Whitetail 101 S1 E8, “October Cold Fronts” | Best Way to Hunt October Cold Fronts (Video)- On this week’s episode of Whitetail 101, Bill Winke discusses October bow hunting tactics, food sources, and October cold fronts.
Cut corn fields, a common site this time of year is one of the only food sources that can pull deer off of acorns. As Bill Winke mentions in the video from Muddy TV’s Whitetail 101, freshly cut corn field offers “easy pickings” as far as deer are concerned. The missed kernels and mangled ears of corn can leave a significant amount of food left scattered across the tangle of stalks. The combine leaving the field is a dinner bell for deer and has the power to bring brutes out of the timber for a quick buffet. Again a cold front moving through, with some nasty weather in the forecast may just prompt a farmer for a quick harvest, meaning you will have a cut corn field to hunt over while deer hunting cold fronts, both bumping deer to their feet to feed.
Green Food Plots
Trophy Pursuit S6 E6, “Close Calls” | Close Encounters with Mature Iowa Bucks (Video)-This week on Muddy’s Trophy Pursuit, several team members have great encounters, close calls, and trail camera photos of mature Iowa bucks.
As always a well-planted food plot, with the right species, in the right location can always be a dynamite spot to sit when deer are on their feet. As you can see in Trophy Pursuits Episode 6, the team encounter several hit list bucks moving through, around, and to food plots. Clovers, brassicas, and species like oats can attract deer throughout October and even through November and later. This is especially true for years with low acorn production, or in areas with little mature timber and ag crops. Food plots such as the ones you witness in this episode work great as staging areas and transition plots as deer begin to filter out into larger areas such as cut corn fields or oak flats.
Take the advice and do yourself a favor. Setup trail cameras based on the available food sources. Await an October cold front, and base your hunt around the most recent information you have….you won’t regret it.
https://www.gomuddy.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/deer-hunting-cold-fronts-Feature-midwest-whitetail-e1476213387279.jpg7021200Muddy Outdoorshttps://www.gomuddy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Muddy_Logo_shadow-Low.pngMuddy Outdoors2016-10-11 19:15:512016-10-11 19:50:32How To: Deer Hunting Cold Fronts in October