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Tips for Tagging an Early October Buck

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.

Conclusion

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.

 

 

Spring Turkey Scouting and Trail Camera Tips

Pre-Season Turkey Scouting with Trail Cameras

By: Blake Aaron of Aaron Outdoors 

For those of us not located in the deep south, turkey season remains what feels like centuries away. However, don’t waste your time by wishing the preseason away. There is still a lot of work that can and should be done. Many people do not utilize their tools and time wisely to pattern turkeys for opening day. There are many “sweet” spots on your properties that can be concentrated on. These turkey scouting tips should come in handy so that you can have your #MuddyMoment on opening day!

A great tool to utilize in preseason scouting is a trail camera. Trail cameras are vital to patterning birds. They can provide you with information of where the birds are feeding, strutting, dusting, and even roostingMuddy’s lineup of cameras gives you multiple price point options to choose from as well as tons of features.  Utilizing trail cameras to do the turkey scouting for you not only saves you time, but they keep intrusion low and do the scouting while you’re not there.

Where to Setup Your Trail Cameras for Scouting Turkeys

1. Haul Roads (logging roads/field drives) 

Turkeys love to travel haul roads through farms because, like humans, turkeys tend to travel through the path of least resistance (most of the time). Haul roads make perfect strutting lanes for seasoned gobblers. Many times, the gobblers will fly down off of their roost and on to haul roads to strut which makes them visible to hens that could be roosted close by and easy for the hens to find. Lastly, haul roads are very good for hunting late in the spring season. The foliage and grass has now grown, but the haul roads remain short, making it a prime area for toms to continue to strut.  

2. Mature Cedar Trees/Dusting Areas 

Cedar trees are a perfect place to set up cameras in the preseason because turkeys will use them to stay out of the weather. It also provides them a great place to dust. Turkeys will stay in flocks and dig out holes to dust in under the cedars. Where there are hens, there will be toms. These males frequently check out these dusting areas and use them as strutting zones as well to attract those dusting hens. Turkeys will use dusting areas throughout the season so finding these types of areas could be key to your success this season.  

3. Food Plots 

When hunters think of food plots they think of deer hunting, however, food plots are great places to utilize your trail cameras for preseason scouting. Even after a long winter that has led to lack of food in the plot, turkeys will continue to use the plot as a food source due to the amount of insects and worms in the ground that are easy to find. Also, green plots such as clover or wheat (if not too tall) will be a super hot spot to find a big tom(s). If you have more than one plot to hunt, utilize trail cameras to tell you which plot is being frequented the most by the turkeys as well as what times.  Plot watcher mode, which is a feature on the Pro Cam 20 and Pro Cam 20 bundle, is a great tool to use on large food plots.  Plot watcher mode allows you to custom set the time and amount of photos your camera takes, even if not being triggered by an animal.  For example, you can set your Pro Cam 20 to take photos every minute from 7 am to 10 am and you’ll be able to see if turkeys were in the plot at that time.

These are just a few areas that you can use to do some preseason scouting on your properties with your trail cameras. The more you scout, the better chance you will have at punching your turkey tag this spring! Good luck!

Summer Checklist | Are You Ready For Deer Season?

Summer Deer Hunting Checklist

If you live and breathe the pursuit of hunting whitetails the summer is obviously not a time to relax! For those of us ate up enough with hunting, the understanding is that deer season is a 365 day a year event. Sure our fortunes as deer hunters are made mostly during November, but we spend the other days, weeks, and months daydreaming about and preparing for deer season. In fact so much thought and prepping is put into deer season that it would be astonishing to see the thoughts and the to-do list drawn out on paper. The thoughts, ideas, chores, and what-ifs in your head should now be organized and prioritized into a deer hunting checklist!

Take notes and check off these to-do’s as you complete them. Whether you are just a couple months from deer season or just week if not days away from it, now is the time to ensure you are ready! Some may be a higher priority than others for you depending on your situation and property, but overall this summer deer hunting checklist should help organize what you need to be done!

After looking through the checklist keep reading for more detailed explanations of why these items made the list!

Offseason Deer Hunting Checklist

  • Plant/Manage Food Plots
  • Buy License/Read regulations
  • Utilize Minerals, Supplements, and Bait (or remove bait before season)
  • Check and Run Trail Cameras (full batteries, empty formatted SD cards)
  • Gather an Inventory (trail camera survey)
  • Scout for the Early Season
  • Tree Stand, Tripod Stand, and Box Blind Safety Check
  • Safety Harness and Safe-Line check
  • Sight in/Practice Bow and Firearm
  • Create Detailed and Organized Maps
  • Think Through Your Hunting Pack

Food Plots

Summer is food plot season.  Planting food for your deer not only provides extra protein for growth but forage to sustain your herd in the cold weather of the late fall and winter.  Planting food plots takes several easy steps although it can be time-consuming.

First, test the soil to find the pH or acidity level of the ground you wish to cultivate for your food plot.  Finding the acidity will help you decide the next steps such as liming and seed choice.  Lime is a base which helps bring balance to unbalanced soils.  If your chosen area has had the nutrients washed away on a steep grade or is higher in elevation, then you will want to find the right amount of lime per acre needed to balance the pH to help optimize seed growth. Second, choosing the right seed for the pH is critical.  Typically seed manufacturers will have the information on each seed and what pH the plant will grow in best. Taking into consideration what your goals are for a given location you will want to plant accordingly.  Having a mix of high protein plants with high carbs and sugar –rich plants can help you create a year-round optimized buffet for your whitetails.

In some cases, access to farm equipment is not possible.  Through the power of science, seed manufacturers have been able to develop seed blends perfect for simply throwing on the untilled surface of the earth.  Typically, these are perfect for food plots in the woods where small clearings make for perfect ambush locations.  To create a food plot in the woods it is important to spray the weeds and rake away any debris like leaves, rocks, and sticks. Seeds must hit the open dirt.  Carry a sturdy metal garden rake and have durable work gloves to protect from blisters.  Cut the canopy of the trees back as much as possible to maximize sunlight.  Lack of sunlight is what kills most food plot efforts.

Create/Organize Your Maps

As we review the surroundings it is a bet practice to review first from the sky. Whether you use Google earth or a physical topographical map it is important to mark on map points of interest to scout.  The aerial review provides a fresh perspective and can open new opportunities for stand locations.  By paying close attention to the contours of the land you can find hidden travel corridors which guide deer travel such as saddles and benches, hidden field corners and bottlenecks.  Marking on map points of interest to scout helps organize your efforts and make the best use of your time.  Physical maps like those made from HunTerra Maps are a handy tool to be able to have at home or in the truck

Plan What to Do with Your Trail Cameras

In the interest of time management, it is important to make trail cameras a part of your summer scouting checklist. Ensure each camera is in peak functioning form by checking each before hanging.  Check the connections at the batteries for corrosion.  Moisture can corrode metal coils and render a camera useless. The last thing you want is to set a camera up in a prime location and not capture any photos due to faulty or damaged wires.  Always buy fresh batteries and use cleared and formatted SD cards to optimize performance when scouting for deer in the summer.  Double check the straps on used to hold your camera to a tree are not dry rotted and risk dropping your expensive camera.  When setting up a camera make sure it is facing North to ensure pictures will not be ruined by glare.  Sun glare ruins photos at peak deer activity in the early mornings.  Check to make sure all branches are out of the way of the camera that could trigger the motion sensor as a false alarm! Summer is a critical time for inventory, so make sure you are utilizing them as best as possible. Proven summer strategies for trail cameras include mineral sites, trail camera surveys, time-lapse over food sources, and transition areas between bedding areas and food.

Mineral, Supplements, and Bait

Protein and mineral supplements are a storied part of any spring and summer scouting season.  In the heat of the summer, it is the best way to capture the photos to take inventory of the deer you really want to chase.  Especially in areas where the soil is lacking nutrients, supplemental feeding and mineral sites in states where it is legal may be your best option to help push the growth of your herd during the growing months.  Protein supplements are valuable and research tells us that finding a mix with 16-18% protein is optimal.  Minerals are also important for bucks and does.  During gestation and lactation does have high requirements for calcium and magnesium to supplement their growing fawns. A buck will utilize calcium and phosphorus by storing it in his body to use throughout antler growth.  Growing bucks require tremendous amounts of minerals as they are growing their bodies and their headgear! Be sure to take out these bait sites well before deer season if required by law!

Build Cover

As important as food is to the whitetail so too is cover.  Mature whitetails, both bucks and does, require safety.  Remember, deer are food and they know it all too well. Creating a safe place near food is a recipe for success. The best way to create your own safe place for deer is through the use of a chainsaw and hinge cutting trees. While cutting mature hardwoods is best under the eye of a trained forestry professional, there is plenty one can accomplish with a chainsaw properly cutting small to medium sized trees and scrub brush of little timber value to create a thick jungle of safety for deer. Cut properly, hinge cut trees will still produce browse for deer further increasing the value for deer. When cutting trees and brush it is important to use the following accessories.  First, always wear eye protection.  Wood chips and dirt flying everywhere from being cut can pose a serious threat to your eyes and face. A full face guard is advised. Second, always have a tool kit with the right equipment to deal with chains that may jump the track. A spare sharpened chain is a valuable asset as well.

Stands

Getting your stands ready for the fall is a ritual of the season.  Checking stands for safety is of utmost importance.  Straps in particular that have exposed to weather for any amount of time in the fall and winter ought to be checked for weakness.  A dry rotted strap can easily break putting you into a rather dangerous situation.  Inspect the cables on all stands to look for any weaknesses and check the bolts for rust which can ultimately deteriorate the safety of a tree stand.

Glass

Resist the urge to sit in your stand to scout during the summer.  There is no sense if muddying up your area when you can scout fields from afar.  A lot of hunters have lost the art of simply glassing for bachelor groups. The reliance on trail cameras for the majority of their scouting has left this tactic underappreciated. Glassing summer food sources and travel routes from several hundred yards away can be critical when developing an early season hunting strategy. While basic 10×42 binoculars are plenty efficient, having a spotting scope with real magnification power like 20-60x60mm puts you far enough away from the summer action to not risk spooking deer.

REMEMBER: As always in the hot summer months and even towards the beginning of deer season it is important to always check for ticks!  Illnesses from ticks are an epidemic and hunters are perhaps at the most risk.  Always remember to spray down with deet or pre-wash your clothing in permethrin.  Keep all clothing sealed off to prevent ticks from crawling onto you.  A full body check after you exit the field is necessary and make sure to hang your clothes out after a hunt to let all the ticks crawl off.

The dog days of summer are no time to relax for the committed deer hunter. This is when the homework happens to create success in the fall.  While it is easy to become overwhelmed with all the work that needs to be done, setting a summer deer hunting checklist can help you organize your time efficiently and leave nothing to chance when the weather turns cold!

tree stands

What Style of Hunter are You?

Tree Stand Matching Guide | What Style of Hunter are You? 

There is no doubt that each hunter has a preferred method of hunting and many incorporate a variety of hunting styles that change with the season, terrain, and the weather. Even though it is more typical to stalk hunt in many of the western states and often favorable in some Midwestern states, hunting from elevated stands has steadily grown in popularity across all regions.  The right tree stand can be the difference in being able to sit the hours needed to make a successful harvest of that elusive trophy buck or getting down early and missing the opportunity entirely. There are a variety of elevated stands available regardless of which style of stand hunter you are.

Which Style of Hunter are You?

Each hunter has his/her own style when it comes to hunting. Sometimes the year, weather, or property steers the style of hunting you might go with for the year. However, taking a look in the general sense at your hunting strategies and tactics will allow you to make a conclusion on which style hunter you are, this later down the road can help you make decisions on which gear is right for your style.

The One and Done

The One and Done hunter is often only in the woods opening day and a few following days while the pressure is low and the odds are high for a successful harvest.

The One and Done hunter often is going to spend their time in the stand opening day of gun season or the opener in the early season. Often these hunters are filling the freezer and the lack of pressure of deer early in the season offers high odds of a harvest. Habitually deer are going to be easy to pattern early season if the hunter has had game cameras out or has done any scouting. Deer will use the same corridors, pinch points, staging areas, feeding areas, food plots and mineral licks as they have leading up to opening day and until the pre-rut rituals begin.  The One and Done also would apply to those hunters that only appear in the woods the opener of gun season or perhaps the weekend after.

The Family Man/Soccer Mom

The Family Man or the Soccer Mom hunter is going to be limited to the days and hours hunting because of family obligations.

The Family Man or Soccer Mom are often going to frequent the same stand that was erected preseason for the lack of time in scouting and moving stands, however, this is not always the case. Some of these hunters are skilled with their time and resources and can plan according to the limited time they have available. They make due with what they have, and hit the woods at sporadic times throughout the week and snag any available weekend that may appear.

The Public Land Gypsy

The Public Land Gypsy will be more apt to move around a lot on parcels of public land and wildlife management areas. Often not having the option of leaving a stand on the land overnight.

When hunting public land, using topo maps or maps that the state has issued for public land use, a hunter goes in Nomad mode seeking the perfect spot for the highest odds of game traffic. The diehard public land hunter is not going to stick to the edges where more pressure is put on game from those hunters who fail to wander into the heart of the property.

The Weatherman 

The Weatherman hunter is one who will hunt a variety of stands specifically for what the wind direction or weather is doing.

A Weatherman hunter is going to plan the hunt based on wind direction and what is projected by the weather radar.  Naturally, this style hunter will have several stands to choose from on any given hunt. A “fair-weather” hunter can be placed in this category for the fact that they will choose an enclosed stand for the day’s hunt or forego the hunt altogether. The weatherman can usually hunt often, but can also be limited to hunting days as they often single out cold and high-pressure fronts.   

The Paparazzi

The Paparazzi hunter is going to place their stands depending on what their game camera strategy has proven in the area.

 

The Paparazzi hunter is motivated by what the game cameras have captured, having a “hit-list” of bucks for the season. The paparazzi hunter will strategically place stands in the areas that the hit-list bucks are known to travel proven via trail camera results. The paparazzi hunter will take advantage of a variety of stand types and will hunt long hours any chance they get.

The Food Plot Hugger

The Food Plot Hugger hunts only over food plots or agricultural fields.

Food Plot hunters tend to place stands hugging the edges of green fields, food plots, and agricultural fields or corridors and staging areas leading to the food sources. It is not rare to find that this style of hunter will only hunt during afternoon hours due to the natural instinct for deer to frequent these areas before, or at sundown. If the terrain allows for food plot hunters to access a stand without busting deer off the food source, some hunters will hunt these stands in the morning hours.

The Rut Crazed Hunter

The Rut Crazed hunter spends the majority of their time on the hunt during the prime rut paying attention to rut funnels and high traffic areas.

A Rut Crazed hunter plans long hunts around the captivating buck rut. It is not rare for the rut-crazed hunter to spend all day in the stand for several consecutive days in a row or for an entire week or more during legal hunting hours. During a strong rut, it is not hard for the rut crazed hunter to sit all day due to the anticipated excitement of deer traffic or rut action that could unfold at any given moment.

The Full-Time Sportsman

The Full-Time Sportsman is diehard and will be physically in the woods every waking hour possible during the open season. They have no strict hunting preferences and continuously studies the terrain, moon phases, barometric pressure, and often relate to the Farmer’s Almanac or the old timer’s tales. They are often the most “experience-educated” hunter among all the styles.

The Full-Time Sportsman uses every method available, at one point or another, during the season in pursuit of the elusive trophy buck. Often, but not in all cases, the full-time sportsman is a trophy hunter and reserves tags for “Hit-List” bucks that have been following through game camera photos and chance encounters from previous seasons. This style hunter is going to have a variety of stands, if not every type of stand, available to them for a variety of hunting situations.

Note: It is not uncommon for a hunter to be any combination of the various styles!

 Match a Tree Stand To Your Style of Hunting

With the numerous styles of tree stands available, finding the perfect stand for the hunter’s style of hunting doesn’t take much research. The various type stands are typically hang-on/lock-on stands, climbing stands, single and double ladder stands, tripods, quadpods, and box blinds.

Hang-On Stands

Hang-on stands, also known as lock-on stands are light stands that incorporate a platform and seat for the main unit that is strapped onto a tree by ratchet straps, chains, or wire cable. This type of stand requires a climbing step system, also referred to as climbing sticks, to be affixed to the tree to gain access to the stand. Hang-on stands are often used in conjunction with ladder stands, or other style stands for a cameraman or a second person stand.

 

Muddy Outdoors offers a variety of hang-on stands that fit the purpose of a variety of hunter styles. The lightweight Vantage Point weighing in at a mere 13 pounds offers four adjustment options for the platform with a flip-back footrest and adjustable Triplex foam waterproof seat that flips up and out of the way for standing. The Vantage Point is designed to be packable with the Muddy Outdoors Climbing System (sold separately) and carried backpack style with the straps included.

Hunting Styles Supported: The Weatherman and Public Land Gypsy

 Climbing Stands

Climber Stands are not favorable for all hunters because they are the most challenging to use among the various types of stands. The advantages of being able to use a climber allow the hunter to hunt in areas that may not be accessible to other type stands or can be carried in and used on newly found signs. Muddy Outdoors offers two climber stands, The Stalker Climber and The Woodsman Climber.

The Woodsman Climber offers all-day comfort with a 2” thick foam sling-style seat and backrest with a padded armrests. The non-slip slats on the foot platform and rubber coated foot straps assist in safe climbing and the flex cable Hybrid Mounting System with a spring-loaded pin for quick adjustment. The Woodsman Climber includes an accessory bag and padded back straps for easy carrying in the woods.

Hunting Styles Supported: Climbing stands are ideal for the public land gypsy, the weatherman, the rut-crazed hunter, the full-time sportsman, as well as, the paparazzi; those hunters who will likely frequent various stands depending on deer movement.

Ladder Stands

Ladder stands seem to be the most popular, widely used style of elevated tree stand because of the ease of use by any age or size of hunter. Ladder stands also give the hunter an option of single or double stands. Muddy Outdoors offers several models of both single ladder stands and double ladder stands. The single ladder stand offering is The Boss Hog, The Grandstand, The Huntsman, The Odyssey, and The Skybox.

The Huntsman is the most economical single ladder stand in the Muddy Outdoors single ladder stand series, offering an extremely comfortable flip-back seat, padded armrests and a deep platform, many other features found in more expensive stands. The Grandstand is the Cadillac of the Muddy Outdoors single ladder stand series. The Grandstand offers a spacious, comfortable flip-back seat to allow the hunter to take advantage of the full foot platform. The shooting rail is a stable prop for gun or crossbow hunting and can be flipped up and secured out of the way for archery hunting. The extra wide, angled steps and handrail adds additional security climbing or descending the stand. The 90-pound weight of this stand results in placing it in areas that the stand will most likely sit for a while.

Hunting Styles Supported: Ladder stands are the perfect solution for the rut-crazed hunter, the family man or soccer mom, the food plot hugger, and the full-time sportsman; those hunters that strategically place a stand and spend many hours hunting out of that stand, especially if they are taking another hunter!

Hunting Tripod and Quadpod Stands

Tripods and quadpod stands give hunters an advantage when there isn’t a perfect tree line or a straight tree for stand placement. This type stand can be used on the edges of the field, in the open, or tucked away in the timbers. Muddy Outdoors offers The Liberty that features a center mount 360° swivel Flex-Tek seat and padded shooting rail, and an easy climb and entry ladder. The Liberty has a 16′ height from ground to shooting rail and weighs in at 132 pounds.

The Nomad Tripod is a compact 12-foot high ladder stand that has an easy entry ladder. The comfortable Flex-Tek seat rotates 360° with a padded 36″ high shooting rail and a steel foot rail. The Nomad might be compact in stature, but it has a weight rating of 500 pounds. The Quad is a 12′ high stand featuring two platform-mounted Flex-Tek chairs and a spacious 57″ x 57″ platform.  A wrap around padded shooting rail is at the perfect height of 36″. The stand is rated for 500 pounds and only weighs 110 pounds. The unique feature of The Quad is that Muddy Outdoors offers a camouflage blind with a roof height measuring 84″ tall in the center and completely encloses the platform portion of this stand. This feature allows this blind to be a great mobile blind similar to a box blind.

Hunting Styles Supported: The weatherman, the family man/soccer mom, the one and done,  and the full-time sportsman will all find these stands the perfect solution for their time on the hunt,

Box Stands/Box Blinds

The last type of stand discussed here, the box blinds or box stands, are usually a little more permanent or require more effort to move around a parcel of land. Muddy Outdoors offers the Gunner and The Bull. Both Muddy Outdoors box blinds offer an optional ladder system and platform. The Gunner is made of insulated Therma-Tek panel sides and features a 70″ x 30″ locking door, with 33″ x 13″ windows. Other convenient features are a drink holder, a gear shelf, and a storage box. The blind, without the platform, weighs 250 pounds and is weight rated up to 500 pounds. A 5 foot, 4’x4′ metal platform is available for this stand which offers an easy access ladder and landing platform complete with handrails.

The Bull is the Mac-Daddy blind in the Muddy Outdoors stand line-up and is typically a stand that is placed in an ideal hotspot and left there for several seasons; such as the edge of a greenfield, agriculture field, a vast area, or on a rise overlooking a bluff or valley. The Therma-Tek system offers a weatherproof, noise-free and scent-free blind by layering high-density foam, tempered hardboard, and marine carpet, all encapsulated in exterior grade UV protected PVC.  When used with the 10′ foot Muddy Tower, The Bull includes a ground anchor with cable and turnbuckle and four 24″ stakes for a secured tie-down system. The easy access ladder with handrail adds security when ascending and descending the stand. The 43″ x 20″ deep platform landing offers two handrails for security when entering the full-length, lockable entry door. The window configuration allows this blind to be used for gun or bow hunting.

Hunting Styles Supported: There is no doubt that this blind makes the perfect hunting solution for the food plot hugger, the weatherman, the family man/soccer mom, the one and done, and the full-time sportsman.

Each model of the Muddy Outdoors tree stands includes safety harnesses which should be properly worn every time a hunter uses an elevated stand.  Muddy Outdoors not only offers a variety of great stands in several styles for every type hunter, but also offers an assortment of stand and blind accessories that bring convenience to any style hunter on the hunt.

Which style hunter are you? Do you have the gear and stands to match your style? Would these matchings make hunting a lot easier for you? Write below and give us your feedback! If you are interested in learning more click the blog below!

Planning and Hunting Food Plots in the South

Southern Food Plots and Deer Hunting

Hunting and land management practices in the southern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi require somewhat of a different strategy than that of the Midwestern states. While we often focus on the Midwest, we can’t ignore the need for some accurate tips and strategies focused specifically on the south. The south requires a very different set of tactics, strategies, and tips. Several factors are responsible for this of which population density, soil type, terrain, median climate, lack of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) areas, browse quality and quantity all weigh in. Hunters owning or leasing property, or even hunt clubs in and around the southeast and southern regions utilize food plots in the summer, fall, and winter months not only for the well-being of the deer herd but also for successful hunting.

Proper land management practices are a direct influence on the health and benefit of the deer herd of the managed habitat. A popular concept stands true among land management philosophy, “Preparation for next year’s hunt begins at the end of this year’s season.” With that in mind, no two plans will be exactly alike for different tracts of land; the individuality of the property will factor into what core needs will develop the best sustainable habitat.

Food Plots in the South

The southern and southeast regions of the United States are more populated per capita by the human population, and although there are ample farmland and vast areas of unpopulated land, the acreage numbers of agricultural land are nothing compared to that of the Western and Midwestern states. Add to that the fact that soil comparisons rank the southern soils as some of the most nutrient-leached soils by average. The mild median temperatures do allow more native habitat browse year around, but the supplemental planting of food plots provide nutrition to deer during the most critical nutritionally stressed periods and is vital to the nutrition and health of the deer herd. Not only do food plots assist in the nutritional health of deer herds, but also these food plots are a huge factor in providing a viable method to attract deer during the hunting season.

When planning to put in a new food plot location or revive an old plot, deciding what to plant and choosing the prime location for a stand, several considerations factor into the success of that food plot. Considerations such as site selection, crop selection, soil preparation, planting methods, and stand placement ideal for that location. Other factors such as median temperatures, average drought, weeds, deer population, amount and quality of natural browse, and proximity of agricultural fields in the area are also important to the success of perennial food plots.

Food Plot Site Selection

 The size, shape, and distribution of food plots are not only important to utilizing those food plots for nutrition; it is critical in successfully attracting deer during hunting season. As a general rule, factoring in the palatable native plants, nuts, and browse, 1-5% of the entire acreage of managed property should be planted, and often as much as 10% if the plot locations are available. Larger food plots will sustain crops longer because they can survive heavy browsing by game animals. Often, agricultural fields that are on the property or the property has access to can be used according to the crops planted and are ideal for stand placement.

Typically, food plots for deer will range from half an acre to as much as five acres. Keep in mind that deer will usually utilize the edges of larger plots in the daylight hours, but usually will feed in the center of larger plots only during the cover of night. Feeding in the cover of night will meet the goal of enhancing nutrition for the deer herd but will not benefit hunting from an attraction standpoint. Long, irregular shape plots offer deer easy use and access to food plots with the safety of some edge cover; whereas long, even-sided plantings seem to make deer weary for lack of edge cover.

Location, purpose, size, sun and shade exposure of the food plot are all dynamics to the use of that area, but none of these are more important than the soil type and condition. The requirements of the crop and the season being planted will largely be a factor as to where it can be planted.

Food Plot Soil Preparation

Before crop choice can be considered for a certain food plot, it is important to have the soil tested to see what each plot needs to create prime soil for planting crops. Soil testing can be done through many county extension offices for a fairly economical fee. It is important to follow the instructions on the soil testing kits when obtaining the soil samples. Once the results have been confirmed, it is time to prepare the soil for planting.

Soil fertility is going to depend on several elements but mainly soil structure/texture and pH.  For the southern/southeast regions the most productive soils are going to be found in the Black Belt Region, alluvial regions such as river beds, streams bottoms, and deltas which will be comprised of a combination of sand, silt, clay, and gravel. The deep sandy soils of the Coastal Plains are low in fertility due to a high rate of nutrient leaching in those areas. Soils that have a finer texture with some gravel will naturally hold more moisture than that of coarser texture with some gravel.

The pH numbers are classified as basic with a pH range of 7.1 to 14.0, neutral with a pH range of 7.0, and acidic with a pH range of 0 to 6.9.  Each plant is going to have a range that is tolerable to its growth and sustainability. The popular range of the greatest variety of plant species and summer legumes and fall plant species is 6.5 to 7.0 pH. It is evident that a vast amount of land across the southern and southeast regions encompass highly acidic soils because of the number of pine tree species found in those acres; pine trees thrive well in acidic soils. Alluvial bottomlands commonly have a more neutral pH which hardwoods grow well in.

Soil fertility doesn’t stop at pH levels, the amount of phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, and other nutrients are important. One to two tons of Ag lime per acre is often enough to adjust pH and should be applied right before or immediately after plowing and should remain at the root level of the plant. Rotating certain legumes in summer plots can help build many of these nutrients and combined with proper lime and fertilizing, the result is fertile soil for planting.

A good seed bed, the preparation for planting, is critical for summertime food plots to retain moisture and aid in germination in the dry summers of the southern climate. When planting, it is important to plan according to pending rain and 60° or warmer temperatures for proper germination of seed. In many areas, the practice most popular for summer plots are mowing and poisoning residual fall plants and spring weeds followed by disking or drilling for an ideal seed planting of ½” to 1” depths; anything deeper will often not allow proper germination and growth.

Food Plot Crop/Seed Selection

Once the plots have been soil tested, lime and fertilized where required, it is time to choose what to plant considering the season of planting.  A variety of seed can be purchased Round-Up Ready, which means that the seed/crop can be sprayed throughout the season to kill weeds and vegetation that can choke out the crops that are planted. Alfalfa, a grass food crop widely grown in the Midwestern states, does not thrive in the southern regions.

A well thought out plan will include summer legumes such as Iron-Clay Cow Peas, soybeans, and other legumes which not only provide protein and fiber for deer, these legumes aid in adding nitrogen to the soils for fall planting. LabLab is a drought resistant, warm-weather legume that can withstand heavy browsing for areas with high deer density. Perennials such as crimson clover and ladino clover are often planted by broadcasting on top of other planted seed. Crimson clover and Regal ladino clover make good spring and fall browse. Brassica crops are fall crops that thrive well in the mild winters of the southern regions.

Cereal grains, such as wheat, oats, and rye, offer great cover but provide little to no nutritional value. Similar to cereal grain sorghum, Egyptian wheat, and millet also offer no real nutritional value to the deer herd. Egyptian wheat is usually considered for coverage or support of crawling or vining crops. Millet is often used for upland game and controlling erosion, but it chokes out most other crops so it should be planted only for these two uses.

Tree Stand and Box Blind Setups for Southern Deer Hunting

The typical terrain and characteristic of southern property are most favorable to stand type hunting. The overabundance of trees and planted pine plantations, topographical features, and the lack of long shooting ranges in the southern regions make hunting ideal for stand hunting over food plots that attract deer. After carefully planning out food plots, investing the time and expense into preparing and planting, the next step will be deciding on what type of stand and placement of the stand for the most effective advantage of a successful season. Using game cameras after the food plots are planted and before the season opens by placing the cameras in travel corridors and staging areas can also assist in deciding the best locations for stand placement.

There are several types of stands available that can be used in a variety of locations for the best shot opportunity. Permanent box stands will need to be planned precisely since erecting this type of stand doesn’t allow easy set-up, take down and mobility. Other stands, such portable box blinds, ladder stands, tripod stands, ground blinds, and bale blinds offer mobility.

Using the terrain and the characteristics of the land as factors in stand placement, take into consideration access to the stand, bedding areas, trails, corridors, staging areas, pinch points, typical wind direction, and the rise and setting of the sun. When placing a stand on a field with irregular edges, choosing a location that gives the hunter the widest angle of view will give an advantage. The most effective stand placements are those areas that will allow a stand to share a pinch point, staging area, or trails with the food plot view. As with any stand placement, it is critical to use any cover available, including a canopy of tree tops to protect from a skyline silhouette.

If planning to use a ground blind, for the best results, placing that blind and brushing it in well in advance to the season will allow deer to get accustomed to the blind. When placing a ground blind, avoid placing the blind in too close in proximity to a trail or the middle of a staging area. Bale blinds work well in large plots, and often allows the hunter a 360-degree view of the edges of the entire food plot. Bale blinds or tri- and quad-pods are often placed in areas that have the highest chance of a hunter flushing wildlife or being seen while approaching the stand, so attention to ingress and egress to those stands will be imperative.

Cutting shooting lanes is often necessary for elevated stands that are tucked into tree lines at the edge of food plots or stands that have irregular edge cover. With food plots that have long, straight sides, careful consideration of stand placement is crucial; take advantage of any cover available. One of the most critical factors in placing a stand is typical wind direction and natural thermals based on topographical features. Choosing a downwind location typical to the common wind direction for that location is going to be key. Of course, controlling the wind is completely out of our capabilities so having a second stand location or another food plot favorable to the prevailing wind is always good planning.  Another factor to consider is the rising and setting of the sun because naturally, these are times when deer are most active and looking directly into the sun does not only hinder the hunter’s visibility, it also places a low factor of concealment on the hunter amplifying any movement.

Deer movement can change drastically from early season bow hunting, during the rut, and late season hunting. Even excessive hunting pressure or crop over browsing in an area can cause deer movement to change at any given time. It is often essential to the success of the hunt to change strategy and even to change stand location. This change in location can be done by adding a stand, which results in as little disruption as possible in that area, instead of moving a stand.

There will always be conditions beyond control such as the amount of rain and extremely high or low temperatures, but having a plan in place of proper land management for spring, summer, and fall planting and a well laid out plan for stand placement ensures the highest odds of a successful fall deer season.

If you are interested in learning more about food plots or feeding deer check out the blog below!

Spring food plots

The Power of Perennials | Spring Food Plots

Perennial Clover |Spring Food Plots

Establishing a food plot is an investment.  It is an investment of your time, your money, and your effort.  Most hunters devote to establishing a food plot in order to reap the benefits later in the year with the benefits, of course, being opportunities at a mature white-tailed buck or a long spurred gobbler.  There is no question that if you enjoy hunting and harvesting wild game, that establishing and maintaining a food plot can greatly increase your chances for success. With spring arriving, spring food plots started now, can create exactly the opportunities you can expect.

Back to the Basics:

Contrary to popular belief, not all food plots are created equal.  To think that you can simply toss some seed on the ground and have it be successful is simply not true.  Like anything, the more time and effort you spend planning, installing and maintaining your food plot the better the results will likely be.  Before you even break the soil, there are several factors that you’ll need to consider.

  • spring-food-plots-tips_pic1Location

Where you decide to place your spring food plot is a critical step in the planning process.  You want to ensure that you are creating your food plot in an area where wildlife can easily locate and utilize it, while at the same time ensuring that you are allowing yourself an entrance/exit strategy that works with the area. Establishing a food plot next or near bedding or roosting areas can be advantageous, but it can sometimes be detrimental as well.  Most prefer to establish their food plot along clearly defined travel areas, where wildlife may already be frequenting. The other strategy is to simply create a “destination” feeding area where it works for hunting. By creating a food plot that has tremendous pull in attraction and size (a lot of high-quality food), you can make the plot work for your hunting strategy.

  • Layout

The size and shape of a food plot is often something that many who establish them will not really consider, but believe it or not, there is a “better” and a “worse” when it comes to laying out your food plot.  When it comes to the shape of your food plot, long and linear will typically prevail over smaller and round any day.  The reason for this is rather simple.  Wildlife such as white-tailed deer and wild turkeys (among many others) are considered species of edge.  They prefer to utilize transitional areas between various cover types as travel and forage areas.  This is mainly a defense mechanism that will allow them to flee at the first sign of danger.  A long, linear food plot provides a plethora of edge in comparison to a small, round food plot.

  • Installation Limitations

Not everyone has access to large farm equipment that can sometimes be required to establish or maintain a food plot.  It really doesn’t matter how well you have planned out your food plot if you do not have the means to establish and maintain it.  It is critically important to keep these factors in mind when planning your food plot.  Being limited to small-scale equipment, such as those that can be utilized by an ATV can significantly play into what species of forage you wish to establish, so be sure to do your homework and plan accordingly.

  • spring-food-plots-tips_pic2Food Plot Species | Annual vs. Perennial

When it comes to food plot forages there are two categories to choose from, annuals and perennials.  Annuals consist of species like corn, soybean, milo/sorghum and wheat just to name a few.  As the name implies, annuals are species that need to be planted every single year.  These species are excellent options for wildlife food plots; however, from a cost standpoint they require an investment in time, seed, and effort each year to establish them.  Perennials, on the other hand, are species that once planted will germinate year after year.  Perennials would consist of species such as clovers, alfalfa, and chicory among many others.  These species of food plot forages require an upfront investment of time and money however once established, annual maintenance can generally keep perennial food plots in excellent condition for several seasons.  There is no question that in having a diversity of annual and perennial food plots on your property is likely the best case scenario, however, when time and money are limited perennials provides you with a feasible option that can help you grow, hold and harvest more game each and every year.

In terms of species to plant, research goes a long ways. Learning what species are out there for planting is a good way to start. However, you will quickly learn that most “experts” narrow their search and use down to just a handful of great plot species. One of the most common and effective spring food plots is clover. Particularly mixed clover plots (white and red) or straight ladino (white) clover plots work incredibly well. They are browse resistant, can take shade, and are hardy and require little in terms of establishment and maintenance.

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The Clover Connection

Among all the species of perennial forages, clover typically ranks at the top of the list.  There are multiple species of clovers available for use, however, when it comes to managing for wildlife the most popular variety used is typically Ladino clover.

Also referred to as “white clover”, Ladino clover is a perennial legume that actively grows during the cooler months of the year (spring and fall) and can be established easily and provide an immense wildlife benefit in a short amount of time.  Aside from the wildlife benefits, ladino clover is relatively inexpensive and generally doesn’t require much maintenance to keep a stand looking great and providing an excellent source of forage for white-tailed deer and wild turkeys.

  • spring-food-plots-tips_pic4Seed Bed Preparation

Regardless of whether you are establishing an annual food plot or a perennial food plot, everything starts with the seed bed.  Taking the time to have a soil test conducted in the area you plan to establish your food plot is a critical step that many will simply skip.  Ensuring that your soil is up to the task of producing what you are asking it to is important, so take the time to take care of your soil, and your soil will take care of you.

Once your soil test has been completed, it is time to prepare your seed bed.  When it comes to seeding clover, having a well-prepared seedbed is important.  It doesn’t matter whether you are using a disk, roto-tiller, or plot master to break the ground open when it comes to establishing clovers what matters most of all is how the food plot is finished.  Having a smooth seed bed is optimal for establishing a clover plot, so be sure to do your best to remove all of the clods by running a harrow or culti-packer over the site prior to seeding.  Once your seed bed is prepared, add any soil amenities as recommended by your soil test and you are set.

  • Seeding Options

Seeding a spring food plot, in particular, is incredibly easy in terms of actually putting the seed on the ground. Clover seed is rather small and can be easily spread by hand or mixed with lime or fertilizer and established with a broadcast seeder attachment on the back of an ATV.  Typically, clover species such as Ladino are seeded at a rate of 2 to 3 pure live seed (PLS) pounds per acre.  Though the rate is important, what is even more important is ensuring that you have adequately covered your food plot location with seed, so be sure to pay close attention to your coverage area when establishing your food plot. In some instances, thicker seed rate for ladino clover…in the 5 lbs/acre allows for quick germination and ground coverage. This means the food plot is a thick carpet in just a few weeks. It also means that the plot can hold moisture better than a plot broadcasted with 3lbs/acre.

While seed bed preparation is a very important part of establishing a clover food plot, the timing of the seeding is an equally important part of the process.  Without question, the best time of year to establish your clover plot is during the early spring or late winter months.  Often referred to as “frost seeding”, starting your clover food plot during these months allows the daily freeze/thaw action of the soil to work the seed into the soil.  If you are lucky enough to time your efforts in conjunction with a snow event, then you’re are set.  Spreading the seed on top of a fresh snow aids in protecting your seed from being foraged upon by birds and small rodents, while also allowing you to more easily see any areas that you may have missed when seeding.

  • spring-food-plots_pic5Maintenance and Care

Ladino clover food plots require very little maintenance and care once established.  Generally, all that is required to maintain a hearty forage base is a high mowing (if it’s a large plot >1 acre) to control annual broadleaves or at least one or two herbicide sprayings a year to keep the grass and other weeds at bay.  While an ATV mower or brush cutter is typically the preferred method, raising the mower deck on your riding mower can be enough to do the trick. If you have a small clover plot meaningless than an acre, a lot of deer browse essentially mows the plot. Keep in mind, mowing drastically decreases the amount of food available to your deer, while at the same time opening gaps in the clover for weeds to sprawl up and moisture to escape.

The biggest competition to maintaining your ladino clover plot is generally grass encroachment. You can resort to a heavier-handed approach by using a grass selective herbicide (Clethodim or Sethoxydim) such as Select to help control the encroachment.  A grass specific herbicide will only affect grass species, and will not harm the broadleaves such as clovers and other forbs and legumes you might have in your mix and will keep your clover food plot producing year in and year out.

Bucks, Beards, and Babies

So, aside from the return on investment why would you want to establish a perennial clover plot?  The answer is simple; from a wildlife standpoint, these perennial legume plots provide a source of protein and other important nutrients that are important for the health of the white-tailed deer on your farm.  From improving lactation in does to helping grow larger antlers in bucks, these plots will be utilized from the spring months all the way through the first frost.  In addition to providing a forage base, these areas are also often selected by does as fawning locations and can help increase the fawn survival on your farm as well. Clover fills the gap where late season food sources finally are completely exhausted, and soybeans and other crops have yet to be planted. Essentially clover is the missing species that can provide the food and nutrition when it is likely not available.

There is no question that a clover plot is an excellent place to encounter a gobbler in the spring, and the reason is simple, ladino clover plots provide wild turkeys with an excellent source of forage as well.  In addition to the forage that the clover itself provides, these areas also attract a wide range of soft-bodied insects which are an important source of protein for wild turkeys.  In addition to adult wild turkeys, these plots provide an excellent brood rearing location for young turkeys as well.  Ladino clover plots, not only help you to harvest more wildlife, but they also help you to grow more wildlife!

Hunting Strategies

No matter if you are chasing a big buck or a long beard, ladino clover plots can help you to be successful.  Wildlife will utilize these spring food plots all year long, which can really help you to monitor the wildlife on your property throughout the year.  A clover plot is an excellent location to maintain a trail camera set throughout the course of the year. These food plots are perfect locations to utilize your trail cameras in conjunction with a ground stake.  Have an “in the field perspective” can not only provide your with some excellent information pertain to the health of the wildlife on your property but can also provide you with some amazing trail camera pictures as well.  Ground stakes provide you with a way of collecting the exact information you wish to collect and remove the issue of finding the perfect tree or trimming limbs and a clover plot is a perfect place to use it.

spring-food-plots_pic6-(2)There is something about hunting over a ladino clover plot from a ground blind that is special.  Ground blinds like a bale blind can often blind right into the surrounding vegetation and are perfect for these types of locations.  During the early fall, when there is still ample foliage on the trees and undergrowth, archery hunting from a tree stand can sometimes be challenging, and with ladino clover food plots generally being areas of high use during the early fall, hunting from a ground blind can be an extremely effective approach.

christmas-gifts-for-hunters_pic7If you are looking for a way to increase the number of white-tailed deer and wild turkeys on your property while at the same time, increasing your opportunities for success then consider establishing a ladino clover food plot, and begin reaping the rewards!

Late Doe Management | How Filling the Freezer Can Cause Problems

Late Season Doe Management Could Pose Problems When Filling the Freezer

It’s the last week of deer season and you have just had one of the proudest, yet scariest moments of your life. Your significant other recently looked at you and pleaded “when are you going to kill a deer”? A tear shed from your eye…a slight sob came from deep within. Thoughts rushed through your mind…”Is he/she really, no it can’t be, no way, should I even dare ask, do they want me to go hunting?” After mustering up enough courage you let a very meek “do you want me to go hunting this afternoon”? Not a second passes by when your mind suddenly forms a terrifying question…”Are we out of meat?” The realization that late season doe management is needed to fill the freezer isn’t pleasing, especially when filling the freezer could pose problems for your future hunting!

While many hunters might revel in the fact that their significant other has just told them to go hunting, the scary position and possibility of being out of venison isn’t pleasing, in fact, it’s darn right petrifying! While late season hunting during the last weeks and days of deer season offer opportunities to fill the freezer, doing so may, in fact, jeopardize your future hunting success…

Trophy Pursuit: Doe Management from Muddy’s Trophy Pursuit on Vimeo

 

Why Late Season Doe Management?

Lets be honest, the whole reason the pressure is on you at this moment is because you have passed countless opportunities at some much-needed steaks and hamburgers still walking around on 4 legs. The reason you passed doe after doe is the hope of a rack not to far behind her.

While this may have been a good tactic during October, and even during the sweet November rut, there are no excuses for December. Hunters can struggle with the internal debate of pulling the trigger on a doe, no matter the time of day, minutes left in the hunt, or the freezer situation. There is something “opportunistic” about a pressure free food plot during the last hour of light, a very real unknown of what could step out of the dark timber on the far side of the plot. This drives you crazy to the point of putting some strain on your venison supply.

Besides and empty freezer haunting what seems like every dinner for the past month, another big weight comes from you inner deer manager and habitat manager. It’s what Trail Cameras Weekly calls the “Pile up effect”. The characteristics and facts of the late season that make it one of the best times to kill a mature buck also force the hunter’s hand in being one of the worst in terms or habitat/property management. Either one, two, or in some instances all three factors come together to force a hunters hand at doe management…or at least plants the thought in their mind. Low hunting pressure, quality thermal habitat/cover/bedding, and the presence of a late season food source are the ingredients for exceptionally “well off” property in the late season. It is also the recipe for the pile up effect.

30, 40, 50 + deer in one 3 acre food plot or cut crop field may be alarming for some hunters, yet others consider it as a daily norm. When deer start to pile into to either a spot of low hunting pressure, a warm/thick bedding area, or a late season food source like standing corn or beans it usually spurs some thought towards doe management. The sheer amount of numbers continually increasing as the temperature drops and snow falls alarms hunters into thinking they have a way too many deer. In many instances, you might! The question will haunt you until the post season ( look out for an upcoming blog about deer surveys). Otherwise, can a conclusion be drawn from simply observing food source or bedding area? Yes and no. While it certainly warrants the taking of a doe or two in many hunters’ minds, there are simply way too many factors to consider of whether or not you should practice doe management. Besides figuring out how many deer you have on your property, the fawn recruitment rate, sex ratio, and taking into account habitat/property characteristics and food availability, there are some problems and benefits of practicing doe management this late into the season.

Late Season Doe Management: Problems

Think about what a regular late season hunt consists of. Getting out in the stand or box blind overlooking a brassica plot around let’s say 2 or 3 o clock. Waiting patiently until 4 or 4:30 pm when the first couple of deer start filtering out. Waiting even longer until about 5:15 – 5:30 (or last 30 minutes of legal shooting light) to see what buck might eventually make his way into the plot.  Most hunters would agree that this is a pretty solid itinerary for what normally happens out there.

Now, try and think about when you think might be the most appropriate time to shoot a doe. Many hunters would say early in the afternoon, however, many would also say wait as long as possible to see if a buck shows. The problems occur as both have negatives going for them…

  • Shooting Early: Button Bucks

If pulling the trigger early in the afternoon sounds like the best option then you might just pull the trigger on a button buck. Usually the first deer out in the plot or crop field are fawns. They are also often alone. By this time in the season they are the biggest (in terms of body) they will be during the first hunting season. So you have one deer out in the field at about 4:00, do you shoot. Unless you have a spotting scope in the tree stand or blind,  or a $500+ pair of binoculars you might be shooting a button buck.

  • Shooting Late: Shed Bucks

In some cases, one of your mature hit-list bucks, or a soon to be up and comer might have cast their antlers early. There are many reasons this is caused by (hormones, sex ratios, injuries) but the fact is that there is a buck not sporting his headgear! Now you waited until the last 15 minutes of light, a big bodied deer walks into the plot, but you don’t see a rack so you let her or him walk in and start feeding. Ten minutes later and you only have 5 minutes of legal shooting light. Do you know which big bodied deer is a doe or a cast buck? Often times there is not enough light to be 100% certain that blocky head doesn’t have craters on it or not. Walking up on a big mature doe to only seconds later figure out it’s MR. Big without is “valuables” is sickening, to say the least!

Late Season Doe Management: Benefits

With deer behavior and your hunting strategy relying so much on food sources in the late season, one serious benefit comes from practicing doe management…and it often goes discarded! This benefit goes for the early season as well. Both the late season and the early season create a setting in which food is the name of the game. By not discarding the gut pile, and cutting open a doe’s stomach contents you can find out what deer eat on your property. Finding out directly what deer are eating and concentrating on during this time is more valuable than what your trail cameras are telling you in some instances!

The information and stomach contents broken down into percentages of food sources like the video shows means that you can accurately assess where the deer, and more importantly your hit-list buck, might be spending their time feeding.

One other benefit that doesn’t take much explanation is simply using a dwindling freezer supply as an excuse to put as many hours on the stand as

possible. Providing food your family is the basics and history of hunting…You must hunt for your family to survive! While that might be blowing things out of proportion for the majority of hunters, it is, by all means, a very good excuse to keep hitting the woods!

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The Takeaway: START EARLY!

While there are some benefits to practicing doe management in the late season, there are also some pretty intense negatives. Next year, instead of hearing relentless nagging and the need for meat from your spouse, kill a doe or two early to relieve your dwindling meat supply. By doing this, you can have the rest of the year to concentrate on killing a buck.

However, if your aim is to use a dwindling meat supply as an excuse to hunt as much as possible in the late season, then you by all terms are a very smart hunter indeed. Just be cautious that this benefit can and might indeed cause you problems later down the road. For more videos and articles like this, and more deer hunting videos and weekly hunting content, visit Muddy TV. Also be sure to check in every week for new hunting tips, tactics, and strategies at the Muddy Outdoors Blog.

What Do Deer Eat During the Late Season?

How to: What Do Deer Eat During the Late Season?

 

This video dives straight into finding out the answer to the question: What do deer eat during the late season? While this is a very basic question, the more advanced tactic of looking at a deer’s stomach answers the question. This process offers very valuable intel when it comes to hunting. Figuring out what a deer’s diet consists of regarding the late season food sources on your property, can help you determine where bucks might be patterned. Looking into a deer’s stomach contents can show you not only where to find deer at, but where to hunt, where to hang your trail cameras, and where to concentrate your late season efforts on.

What Do Deer Eat in the Late Season? | Trail Cameras Weekly “Week 10”

By opening up the stomach of a deer that is killed on your property, or by a neighbor nearby, you can quickly determine what late season food sources your deer are concentrating on your property. This video shows you two stomachs, one from a doe in Indiana, and another of a buck Steve Smolenski killed in Pennsylvania.  It is important to remember, the property’s habitat and available food sources greatly diversify the results from analyzing the stomach contents. Every property is different, this is why it is a very successful tactic!

A Deer’s Stomach

There is more to this than simply slicing the stomach to find the answer to, “what do deer eat”. Deer are ruminants and have a four-chambered stomach.

what-do-deer-eat-late-season_pic1The Rumen where deer store their food as they eat serves as a mechanism to allow deer to quickly eat large quantities of food without much chewing. This is a trait that helps limit the time they are exposed to predators. When they get back to a safe bedding area they proceed to re-chew this food or chew their fermented slightly digested “cud” going into the second chamber of the stomach the Reticulum, where the majority of microorganisms of a deer stomach really start to work. From there it moves to the Omasum the third chamber where water is absorbed, then proceeds to the final chamber the Abomasum where the food is further digested…Now why is this important? For the most part you will be able to easily identify what food sources they ate in the first chamber the rumen, and for the most part the second chamber. After you move on towards the final chamber it gets obviously harder.

Timeline?

By opening up stomach we can actually identify what the deer has eaten. Now you may be wondering how big of a timeline does it give us?

The answer assures us that this process is very high quality and accurate intel. From the time a deer eats to the time it passes through and comes out the other end, most of the material (about 80 %) takes only 48 hours to go through. This means during anytime regardless of harvest the gut pile and stomach contents will actually at least the last day or so of feeding. There is much to take into consideration after this as some food sources digest much faster than others.

While you can certainly see what the deer has eaten in the past 12 hours, you cannot determine when they ate food sources due to the vast range of different digestibility. AKA winter rye and species like clover digest easily compared to woody browse and mast such as white oak acorns. This is why It is important to understand what you are looking at before making any assumptions or conclusions.

So What are They Eating?

After the point when you identify the rumen and least digested contents of the stomach, you can pick apart the contents and try and apply percentages, or a conclusion to where the deer on this property are spending their time feeding.

 The Buck:

what-do-deer-eat-late-season_pic2

The buck’s stomach contents revealed most visibly corn, but you have to realize this is probably only 20-30% of the contents. It just happens to be the most visible and easily identified. 60-70% or the majority of the stomach contents were grasses and forbs, with about half being winter wheat in the surrounding cover cropped ag fields. They also witnessed a basic estimate of 10% woody browse. There were no food plot species or acorns in the stomach. This directly reflected what food sources were available and not available on the property this year as Steve’s property does not hold food plots or a vast amount of oaks.

The Doe:

what-do-deer-eat-late-season_pic3doe

Now this doe is a different story. The property has popcorn (which shatters more easily once eaten and is far less desirable than regular corn) many oaks and acorns, several areas of early successional growth ( woody browse) and of course the large winter rye cover cropped AG fields that were discussed last week on Trail Cameras Weekly. The percentages come out to be roughly 20-30% corn and acorns, 60-70% Winter rye/grasses and forbs, and an estimated 10 % of woody browse.

It is important to remember these are roughly estimated numbers but they do closely resemble what a deer’s diet and nutritional needs are this time of year. The graph below is taken from Nutritional Requirements of White-tailed Deer in Missouri produced by the Extension Department of the University of Missouri.

what-do-deer-eat-late-season_pic4

As you can see the average percentages between fall and winter roughly fall in line with the percentages the hunters witnessed in the stomach contents of the two deer killed in December.

Conclusion

Over the course of the next week or so, if the hunting is slow, take a doe for the freezer or for management purposes, or just try and examine the stomach contents of a deer killed on or near your property. Do not waste the gut pile! Often times this is a far more accurate representation of what your late season food sources are, how much time your deer are spending in the food sources, and where you might want to think about hunting as the temperature starts to fall! If you are asking “what do deer eat in the late season” take it into your own hand to find the answer!

 

deer hunting cold fronts trail camera tips | Muddy Outdoors

How To: Deer Hunting Cold Fronts in October

Deer Hunting Cold Fronts

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.

deer hunting cold fronts trail camera tips | Muddy Outdoors

https://www.wunderground.com

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.

Acorns

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.

deer hunting cold fronts trail camera tips | Muddy OutdoorsTrail Cameras Will Tell You Where

Overall the secret to perfecting deer hunting cold fronts and bow hunting in general in October is relying heavily upon your trail camera data. As you noticed in all the weekly deer hunting videos and web shows on Muddy TV  this week (Trail Cameras Weekly, Whitetail 101, and Trophy Pursuit), they all relayed intel and information from their trail cameras to support their observations and predictions.

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.

Why have mineral sites for Bucks

Muddy Trail Cameras | The Why, When, Where, and How of Minerals for Deer

What You Need To Know for Putting Out Minerals for Deer This Summer

Tree stand maintenance, shed hunting, frost seeding, food plots, and then what? This has been the schedule from this point on for about 4-5 months. By the time food plots are planted, hunters can feel a false sense of accomplishment. They feel they can begin to calm down from the mad rush of spring chores and coast it out until deer season. Unfortunately for them there is still one vital piece missing from the checklist…putting out minerals for deer!

Now when it comes to mineral stations there is a misunderstanding that the common sense logic is correct, when in fact it really isn’t. Hunters each and every year will put out mineral stations for deer and miss the true reason for why we put out minerals. This article dives into the why, when, where, and how of mineral stations for deer.

Why and When Do We Put Out Mineral Stations For Deer?

The Science Behind the Need (Or Not) for Deer Minerals | Buck Advisors

(Video) There is a big misunderstanding that minerals equal big antlers, which is not correct! The Buck Advisors’ Weston Schrank reveals the real science and reason for mineral stations for deer!

The fact that putting out mineral bags and blocks for deer to grow bigger antlers is a false assumption. The real reason we put out mineral stations for deer is due to their salt craving for the summer. This craving is present during the entire time plant growth is at its peak in spring and summer with water and potassium content at an all-time high. This also happens to be when bucks are growing antlers, and does are giving birth to fawns and lactating over the summer. This is what creates the misunderstanding, the timing and need for salt in most hunters mind has suggested that deer need minerals, which in turn covers up the true advantage.

So if not for growing bigger antlers and helping fawn development why do we put out mineral stations for deer? The answer to this is our own desire. The desire for us to see velvet bucks can take advantage of the buck’s cravings for salt, revealing the real reason for mineral stations, taking inventory of velvet bucks with trail cameras.

Where and How Many Mineral Stations to Put Out

Deer Mineral Station Placement and Density | Buck Advisors

(Video)- Putting out minerals for deer is critical to start in May and June! Buck Advisor’s Weston Schrank explains exactly how many mineral stations for deer you need and where to place them on your deer hunting property.

One of the most important pieces of information, besides actually putting out mineral stations is, installing them at the correct density and in the right location. So where do you put mineral stations for deer out on your property, and how many do you put out? For this answer we have to touch on the real reason for these mineral sites again, basically to take inventory of velvet bucks.

That word, “inventory” is used only one other time when referring to deer…trail camera surveys. While putting out trail cameras over minerals for deer isn’t necessarily a trail camera survey due to the lack of specific settings, time of year, and applying an equation, it is keeping tabs on all the deer utilizing your property. In order to do this you have to be sure you are placing the minerals and game cameras in the correct locations and density (putting enough sites out to capture all deer on the property).

  • Where: throwing out minerals or a block just anywhere will not accomplish anything, you have to think and plan around it. You need to place the minerals and trail cameras in location that deer frequent. For spring and summer this means transition areas between food sources and bedding.
  • Density: Again referring to a trail camera survey most recommendations are a mineral station for every 80-100 acres of property, but only you can really tell how many mineral stations and trail camera sites you need. Habitat diversity, topography, cover, and human pressure can all affect deer movement and core areas, ultimately deciding how many mineral stations you should have. If a 50 acre property is separated into 2 different habitat types, and resulting in two different bachelor groups using different sides of the farm, then you need 2 mineral sites. Think back to hunting observations and past trail camera pictures to determine how deer use the property.

Patterning Velvet Bucks with Mineral Stations and Trail Cameras

The ultimate goal of installing mineral stations for deer, is to keep tabs and develop patterns on mature bucks. By putting out these sites in late May and early June, and keeping them running until deer season ( if your state requires minerals to be removed) will create a very detailed history and site map of a given bucks home range and core area. It also helps you create a detailed album of antler growth throughout the summer.

If your deer season is early enough such as Kentucky with an early September opener, you might even be able to kill you hit list buck based solely off of the trail camera data from the mineral station. If your hunting season starts later in the month of October, then you will miss the chance for velvet bucks and summer patterns. Fortunately placing a mineral station and trail camera in the right spot, such as a transition area, funnel, or run between bedding areas and food sources will also be a great spot for the rut cycles. This is where another critical point can be introduced, selecting the right trail camera for the job.

Patterning Buck with Muddy Trail Cameras

The new Muddy Outdoors trail camera lineup for 2016 should be a consideration for your trail camera over the mineral stations. The Pro-Cam 12 and Pro-Cam 10 are both quality cameras that can be reliable all summer long, all season long, and for multiple years.  The cameras have all the required specs and technologies to be a top contender for trail cameras that produce clear images for identifying individual bucks during summer. If you’re looking for new trail cameras this year to put over mineral stations for deer, check out muddy trail cameras.

While your food plots are planted, tree stands are up, and your summer checklist is complete, one vital to-do might be missing. If you have yet to put mineral sites and trail cameras up you are behind. Antlers are growing, bucks are feeding, they are craving salt, and we only have 4-5 months before deer season!